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Video is fast-becoming the preferred tool for most marketers to connect with and reach new audiences.
Video marketing is undeniably effective, too — in fact, including a video on a landing page is capable of increasing conversion rates by over 80%, and the mere mention of the word “video” in your email subject line increases open rates by 19%.
But, even if you already know about the importance of video, I’m willing to bet you aren’t completely aware of how other brand’s are using video … or, more importantly, why.
Each business will use video for a completely different goal — ranging from increasing brand awareness, to boosting SEO.
Here, we dove into new research from Wave.video to explore the top five reasons brands use video. Hopefully, these statistics will inspire you to use video in new, unique ways in 2021 and beyond. Let’s dive in.
1. Brands use videos to increase brand awareness.
Video can help your business reach new audiences and attract new viewers to your social media pages and website, which is likely why “increase brand awareness” is the number one reason brands use video.
Take this video from Tasty, a Buzzfeed brand:
Ultimately, Tasty’s video isn’t meant to sell any products (at least, not directly) — instead, it’s simply meant to entertain new audiences and, ultimately, increase awareness of Tasty’s brand.
2. Brands use video for new sales.
Consider how you might create entertaining or informative videos with the sole purpose of increasing brand exposure. Ultimately, brand awareness can foster trust and increase brand equity, so it plays a critical role in your company’s bottom line.
To highlight this point, let’s start with an example. Take a look at this video, highlighting Kate Hudson’s company, Fabletics, below:
While at first glance it might look like a somewhat-random video of Kate Hudson running through the Aspen wilderness, it’s actually an effective example of a video with the purpose of increasing sales — without appearing like, well, an ad.
For instance, while the video portrays Hudson in a range of workout gear from her October Fabletics collection, it also incorporates an exclusive interview with the celebrity to discuss family, nature, and growing up in the mountains. Add in a gorgeous Aspen backdrop, and viewers might be fooled by the true purpose of the video: to sell Fabletics clothing.
Consider how you might also create a unique, compelling video to attract new prospects and even close sales deals.
3. Brands use video to grow a social media community.
Did you know that four of the top six channels on which global consumers watch video are social channels?
Ultimately, many marketers use video to attract visitors to a company’s social pages.
Consider, for instance, this #ShaveItOff video by Gillette partner The McFarlands:
While the video is undoubtedly entertaining to watch, it also serves a powerful purpose: to send some of The McFarlands’ 2 million followers back to Gillette’s own social channels. Best of all, the hashtag #ShaveItOff can be found on Gillette’s Instagram page as well, ensuring viewers can find the brand regardless of which social channel they prefer.
4. Brands use videos to educate customers.
Video can be an incredibly effective tool for education.
HubSpot Academy, for instance, often uses YouTube as a platform to educate its viewers. Oftentimes, HubSpot will even collaborate with thought leaders like Seth Godin to add a new perspective on a topic:
Many people learn best through visuals, which is why video can be a phenomenal tool for educating prospects and even customers.
Consider how you might incorporate educational videos into your own content strategy in unique ways – for instance, perhaps you include video demos for interested prospects, or how-to tutorials for new users of your product.
5. Brands use video to build brand authority.
Similar to the reason listed above, the fifth reason brands use video is to build brand authority on a subject, and demonstrate expertise.
Ideally, this means when people are searching for help on a certain topic, your brand will show up. After watching your videos, if viewers feel they’ve gained unique insight, they’ll trust your brand more and explore other offerings.
Consider what happens when I search “How to run a vlookup” in Google. When I click on the video section (since I prefer learning about vlookups through visuals like video), Microsoft is the first two video results:
In this example, Microsoft is demonstrating its brand expertise when it comes to its Excel product — and, more widely, anything related to technology and data. This provides Microsoft with a good opportunity to showcase its brand authority while attracting new visitors to its website.
And that’s it! The top five reasons brands make videos. Take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing to learn more about how you can create a powerful video marketing strategy for your own brand in 2021.
A great way to share more about your background is to have a prepared document, like a professional bio.
A professional bio can be shared with prospective employers, your colleagues, included in your social media profiles, used for speaking engagement announcements, or used as an author bio on a blog.
Writing about your professional background for the first time may feel challenging or awkward, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here, we’ll explore some tips to help you feel more comfortable when writing your own professional bio. Let’s dive in.
What is a professional background?
A professional background is a summary of your professional experiences —coupled with any relevant personal information, including interests or passions — that you’ll use throughout your career as you network with industry peers, apply for new roles, or seek out thought leadership opportunities.
This includes previous jobs you’ve had, successful projects you’ve worked on, significant accomplishments like promotions or awards, professional networking organizations you belong to, and anything else you’d share with someone who wants to know more about you professionally.
Not only is sharing more about your background a great way to tell more about yourself to others, it’s also an opportunity to wholly reflect on your professional journey and the goals you’ve achieved — plus, what you hope to achieve in the future.
Next, let’s dive into how you can get started.
How to Write About Yourself
1. Don’t start from scratch.
If you’re having trouble figuring out where to start, try using a professional bio template to guide you. Templates, like the ones featured below, make it easier for you to focus on your personal information and accomplishments, without having to worry as much about the structure.
Featured Resource: Professional Bio Templates and Examples
2. Know your audience.
Take into consideration who will be reading your professional bio and cater to your reader.
You may also want to draft different versions of your document to best fit specific audiences. For example, the version you post on your LinkedIn may not be as detailed as the version you post on your personal website, and if your reader is a potential employer, it would help to include details that specifically highlight why you’re the best candidate for the role for which you’re applying.
HubSpot Founder Dharmesh Shah uses different bios for different platforms. On Twitter, for instance, Dharmesh’s bio is short and sweet, which is perfect for Twitter’s character limit.
Alternatively, on INBOUND’s website, Dharmesh’s bio is written in third-person for attendees. This bio makes Dharmesh’s current role clear while providing some key background information.
Finally, in his OnStartups bio, Dharmesh’s voice is personable since he’s speaking directly to the reader. This gives readers more insight into Dharmesh’s background directly from his perspective.
The best part about this approach is that you can create as many versions of your bio as you’d like, or simply recycle a general version whenever you need it.
3. Show professional progression.
As you’re writing, think about structuring your professional bio in a way that creates a timeline to show your progression. Explain what your different roles were like, and emphasize responsibilities that set you up for success in your latter roles.
It’s important to note that your timeline doesn’t have to be linear.
“Look for a theme that runs throughout several of the jobs you’ve held, and present your choices in a way that shows common threads running through each of your career decisions,” explains career strategist Jenny Foss.
The goal is to clearly show your audience the different roles you’ve had, and how all of your experiences have contributed to your overall professional development.
4. Highlight your accomplishments.
One of the best things about writing about your professional background is that it’s the perfect opportunity to brag about yourself — and I don’t mean humble brag.
Think of the most successful projects you’ve been part of, the strategies you’ve helped develop and execute, the deals you’ve closed, the revenue you’ve generated, and anything else that stands out as a major accomplishment.
“A former manager once told me to keep a ‘brag sheet’ in a document on my computer. The idea was to create a running list of noteworthy accomplishments, media mentions, awards, and letters of recommendation that I could reference to make it easier to write about myself. It also doesn’t hurt to open up this document whenever you’re having a tough day to remind yourself what you’re capable of,” Carly Stec, HubSpot’s Manager of Channel Monetization, told me.
It’s also important to consider how success was measured in your previous roles — and how that might shape the way you write about it.
If success for you tends to be measured in quantifiable metrics include strong statistics, it might look something like this:
- “In my first six months I was able to sign up X amount of customers that generated an average monthly recurring revenue of $X.”
- “I helped boost customer retention by X percentage.”
- “With the strategy I developed my team was able to lower customer acquisition costs by X percentage.”
If your role is primarily measured through qualitative goals, share a highlight that speaks to skills you excel at:
- “I successfully managed executing a major project with strong time management skills and excellent communication with several stakeholders.”
- “I was able to complete a project that was projected to take an entire quarter in half the time because of my organizational skills.”
- “I was selected to lead a database cleanup project due to my attention to detail and strong team collaboration skills.”
5. Be personable.
Timelines and accomplishments are great, but being personable is even better.
Readers should feel like they’re getting some sense of who you are from your professional bio. This gives readers the opportunity to know more about you beyond a professional scope. If you have any cool niche hobbies that you enjoy outside of work, this would be the time to share.
Here’s a list of prompts to help you brainstorm the right “fun facts” to highlight:
- What TV show are you currently binging?
- Do you have any pets?
- What’s something most people don’t know about you?
- What languages do you speak?
- What are you most proud of yourself for?
- Share something you’ve done that bucket-list worthy
- What do you do to relax?
- What are three of your must have apps?
- What would your favorite colleague say about you?
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and how do you apply it to your life?
Being personable is also a great opportunity to address any unconventional moments in your professional background. For example, maybe you’ve made a drastic shift in your career path, or you took a sabbatical at some point.
These types of stories can really help make you more relatable to your audience, and you never know who you may end up connecting with over one of your hobbies or more personal moments.
6. Ask for feedback.
Constructive feedback is key when you’re writing about yourself. While many choose to source feedback after completing a draft of their bio, it’s just as beneficial to get feedback from your peers at earlier stages of your drafting process.
Oftentimes, our peers can help identify our strengths and where we have opportunities to improve. If you’re having trouble developing a clear timeline or pinpointing which highlights you should mention, get together with a peer to brainstorm ideas.
Reflect on successful assignments that you’ve collaborated on and ask your peer to provide honest feedback about what you did best — and include that feedback in your bio.
If you need help getting started, here’s a list of discussion questions to use with your peers to uncover professional strengths you might be overlooking in your own self-assessment:
- What role do you think I tend to play in group work?
- How have I helped you be more successful?
- What do you think my most impressive project has been?
- What was your first impression of me?
- What do you think my strengths are?
Ready to start writing?
Keep these tips in mind as you’re writing about your professional bio. Your final product should be a written statement that boasts your most notable skills and achievements. As you continue to progress in your career, take time to update your bio like you would your resume, and continue to impress your readers.
And remember, if you’re feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to leverage our free professional bio templates to help you get started.
As we near the end of 2020, one thing is certain: We’ve spent a lot of time on social media this year.
But, our increased connection to social media isn’t at all shocking.
In March, as countries implemented stay-at-home orders due to the global pandemic, Statista reported a 21% uptick in monthly social media usage.
Throughout the year, consumers have not only continued to use social channels to catch up with loved ones, but they’ve also embraced them for product research, the latest news coverage, and hours of mindless entertainment.
Now, as the world hits 3.6 billion social media users and continues to deal with the pandemic, brands aren’t just wondering how they’ll engage huge social media audiences next year. They’re also asking, “What social media trends should I expect in this constantly changing landscape?”
To learn more about what brands can expect next year, I spoke with HubSpot’s Social Media Manager Kelly Hendrickson and dug through research including HubSpot and Talkwalker’s Social Media Trends Report.
Below, I’ve compiled nine expert or research-backed trends social media marketers should watch or leverage in 2021.
1. Brands will continue to take a “less is more” posting approach.
This year, many brands spent less time churning out social media posts and more time producing only content that felt thoughtful, valuable, and in-touch with the world around them.
According to Hendrickson, the trend of “less is more” is likely to continue in 2021.
“COVID-19 had brands starting to ask a question they may have never asked themselves before: ‘Does my audience even want to hear from me right now?’,” Hendrickson says.
“I expect we’ll see brands being more thoughtful about when they post. This may even mean posting less — regardless of algorithms — because it’s the right thing to do,” Hendrickson explains. “There will also be more thoughtful ad buys and partnerships.”
“Never before has ensuring your audience obtains true value from your brand meant so much,” Hendrickson adds.
2. Content value will beat production quality.
When many businesses were forced to go completely remote in 2020, social media and video marketing teams needed develop scalable production processes that could be done from home.
When consumers still continued to engage with videos, live streams, and other social media content that was clearly made from home offices, marketers realized that content with lower production quality can still be engaging — if it provides value.
“COVID19 forced many brands to get scrappy when it came to producing content, especially video work,” Hendrickson explains. “Without a production studio or tons of equipment available, production value became a bit more lo-fi and in the end, but also a bit more human.”
“The exciting thing for brands is that — generally — audiences loved it. If anything, they saw themselves more in the work,” Hendrickson adds. “They too were on Zoom, filming things with their phones, or stuck in their homes.”
Hendricks predicts that “we’ll see bare bones productions in 2021. But, audiences will continue to appreciate it.”
3. Conversational marketing will change its tone.
Conversational marketing isn’t new. In fact, most of the big brands we know and love allow you to connect with them via social media messaging channels at any time.
But, in 2021, with more messaging channels than ever — and consumers needing more information to make a worthy investment — the tone of digital conversations might change.
For example, while past conversational marketing tactics centered around promotions and making sales as quickly as possible, 2021’s conversational marketers might be more focused on helping a user with something, educating them about a product, and nurturing them to conversion with a more thoughtful or empathic tone.
“Brands need to be more human on social media, inviting the world to your dinner table for a meaningful and engaging conversation,” says Aaron Kaufman, Director of Social Media at Square Enix in our Social Media Trends Report. “You are your fan’s greatest fans and need to embody that no matter what social media channel you live on. Emote, respond, recognize, relate, be engaging. We’re not robots.
So, how will brands deal with more demand for thoughtful conversational marketing? A mix of AI tools and human interaction could help.
A healthy combination of AI and human interaction could enable brands to run efficiently on social media while still giving consumers the authenticity they need to see to trust a brand and make a purchase. For example, a bot could handle quick message queries, while sales, service, or community management reps could respond to more complex questions and concerns.
To learn more about scaling up your conversational marketing strategy, check out this guide to building a chatbot or learn how HubSpot increased qualified leads with by mixing human and bots in our conversational marketing.
4. Consumers will crave snackable content.
In 2020, we saw the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, continued engagement on Stories content from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, and brands creating other short-form or “snackable” pieces content to educate consumers about their brand.
As social media attention spans continue to shrink and more people scroll endlessly through feeds while bored at home, don’t expect snackable content to lose steam anytime soon.
To learn more about four types of snackable content your brand should leverage next year, check out this helpful post.
4. Video will continue to take center stage.
Early in 2020, HubSpot’s Not Another State of Marketing Report found that video was the most commonly used marketing content — and the second most engaging content type on social media.
As major platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and LinkedIn increasingly amp up their video capabilities, marketers can expect high video consumption to continue and grow in coming years.
5. More brands will go live.
In 2020, as many brands were forced to take conferences, events, and other marketing experiences online, it’s not shocking to think that 2020 live stream numbers could be higher.
At the moment, many brands are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Twitter to live stream events, Q&As, tutorials and other types of content. These types of content keep your followers engaged with your brand by bringing an event they otherwise might not be able to attend directly to their screens.
For example, each year, INBOUND interviews some of its noteworthy speakers and guests in live INBOUND Studio episodes on Facebook. This allows followers who can’t join us to get live tips from experts. It also allows followers of interviewed experts to learn more about INBOUND and HubSpot.
6. Social media platforms could double as shopping channels.
As many brands learned how to do business completely online, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok raced to develop more online business marketing solutions.
While TikTok and Snapchat expanded business marketing offerings in 2020, Facebook and Instagram actually brought shopping capabilities directly to their apps.
With Facebook Shops, Instagram Shoppable posts, consumers can buy a product seen in a post without even leaving the app they’re on.
For consumers, this adds convenience. For brands that couldn’t build their own ecommerce store, the online shopping tools noted above are providing new opportunities to effectively sell products online.
8. Social media users will embrace gaming and VR.
In the last year, the number of social media users who identify as “gamers” increased by more than 10 million — or 32%. Our Social Media Trends Report reveals that the highest uptick in gamer identification happened in COVID-19’s heaviest lockdown months.
Now, with Facebook’s company, Oculus, launching new VR products, Twitch continuing to expand online game-streaming capabilities, and platforms like Snapchat launching mini-game apps, it’s clear that gamification and social media will continue to go hand in hand in 2021.
As a small to medium-business marketer, gaming-related promotions might be inaccessible now, but with Facebook and other major platforms continuing to launch brand tools around their newest features — it’s not shocking to think that more social media in-game advertising opportunities could be possible in the future.
Brands should keep an eye out for game-related promotions in 2021.
Even if advertorial game content becomes available to big brands but not smaller companies, marketers can still watch what bigger companies are doing and hit the ground running with fresh ideas if gamified promotion become more scalable.
9. Authenticity will be vital.
This year, consumers and brands faced a global pandemic, uncertain financial times, and a number of major events that paused nations in front of news channels.
Now, consumers need more than just great deals to trust, identify with, and invest in a brand. At this point, many brands have taken notice by embracing authenticity and their human side on social media.
While some brands have spoken directly about their thoughts related to COVID-19 or other news items, others have shown authenticity by zoning on their customers through user-generated content or customer testimonials.
When done authentically, both strategies can help brands gain trust from their audiences while boosting awareness as a company that cares about people.
“We will continue to see the growth in creators in
the social media space. Influencers will continue
to be present, but accountability, authenticity,
and transparency will be the areas brands and
companies will use to determine who to partner
with, and who to pass on,” says Karen Freberg in our Social Media Trends Report. “Empathy and advocacy will be elements that will be integrated within messages and purposes for creator campaigns. The days of ‘faking it till you make it’ without any experience other than having lots of followers are over.”
In 2021, expect authenticity to take center stage on social media as successful brands continue to build trust from their audiences.
Navigating Social Media in 2021
Today, the world around us is constantly changing. And, although we think we know what to expect with social media, this list of trends is likely not exhaustive of what we’ll see in 2021.
As a social media marketer, the best thing you can do is to continue to research trends, online consumer behaviors, and your team’s social media data to determine which trends or strategies to lean into or how to navigate unprecedented online scenarios.
One great place to start doing this research could be our HubSpot and Talkwalker’s recent Social Media Trends Report.
Along with insights and quotes from social media experts, our Social Media Trends Report walks through all the major 2021 trend predictions to know about and data on how COVID-19 could impact social media marketing. to see the free report, click here or the banner below.
Every day, over one billion YouTube videos are watched around the world.
And they’re not just being watched — they’re being devoured. In fact, the average YouTube mobile viewing session by any one viewer is roughly 40 minutes.
If only there was a way to make money off of a website people spend so much time on … As a matter of fact, there is! A few ways, actually, and the proof is in the people (and businesses) who’ve cashed in on their video strategy.
Who’s making content worthy of a nearly hour-long visit to YouTube? Well, YouTube isn’t just for amateur filmmakers and people videotaping their zainy housepets anymore. Musicians, TV networks, small businesses, and the self-employed all find monetary value in posting their own amazing content on a YouTube channel.
An active, entertaining YouTube channel — which is free to make through a Google+ account (also free) — strengthens these users’ brands and extends their reach to new audiences. It can also build a base of subscribers that other companies using YouTube will actually pay to advertise their products to.
Before launching a YouTube channel for the purposes of making money, you need to decide what kind of profit you’re interested in. Are you looking to use YouTube as a promotional outlet for your own products and services? Or, do you want your video content to generate ad revenue right from YouTube?
Here, we’ll dive into the step-by-step process you’ll need to follow to set up a YouTube account that is both ready and optimized for monetization. After that, we’ll dive into some specific methods you can try to make money on YouTube — and examples of successful brands who’ve tried those same strategies.
Feel free to skip directly to the section Different Ways to Earn Money on YouTube.
Otherwise, let’s dive in.
1. Set up an adSense account.
To begin earning money on YouTube, you’ll need to start with an AdSense account. An AdSense account is the platform in which you’ll receive payments from YouTube, so this is a critical step.
It’s important to note — you can monetize more than one YouTube channel with the same AdSense account, so if your brand has multiple YouTube accounts and you’re hoping to set up monetization features on each one, you only need one AdSense account.
Once you’ve done that, proceed to the next steps.
2. Become a YouTube partner.
Along with an adSense account, you now need to be accepted into the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). There are a few requirements for joining YPP, including:
- You must live in a country or region where the YouTube Partner Program is available.
- You must have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last year.
- You must have more than 1,000 subscribers.
- You must comply with all YouTube monetization policies.
- You must have a linked AdSense account.
If you meet all those requirements, you’re eligible to sign up for the YouTube Partner Program. Here’s how to sign up:
- Sign into your YouTube account (and make sure this account has a linked AdSense account).
- Click “YouTube Studio” in the top right (by clicking on your profile picture).
- If you don’t currently meet the requirements, you can select “Notify me when I’m eligible” and you’ll receive an email once you’ve surpassed 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours.
- If you meet the requirements, click “Start” on the “Review Partner Program terms” card.
- Once you’ve signed the term, you’ll see a green “Done” sign on the card.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be placed in a queue to be reviewed. You can check your application status here at anytime. Once you’ve been accepted, you can proceed to the next step.
Note: If you’re accepted into the YPP, take a look a FAQs from creators who’ve just joined the program.
If you’ve been rejected, take a look at these FAQs for tips on how to strengthen your application. You can re-apply 30 days after rejection.
3. Identify viewer personas.
While your buyer persona will undoubtedly look similar to the same buyer persona you use for other marketing materials, there are slight variations you might need to make for the YouTube-version of your buyer persona.
As Nelson Chacon, HubSpot’s Principal Content Strategist for YouTube, told me: “For instance, you might have two buyer personas: Margaret and Sam. However, on YouTube, you have a better opportunity of reaching Sam than Margaret.”
Chacon continues: “Sam is interested in personal growth and probably has some existing tasks from Margaret on finding ways to reduce costs or find efficiencies for their business. The Sam we see outside of YouTube can have certain things he likes. However, inside of YouTube, he probably has other interests, so for this, you might look into creating a YouTube Sam 2.0 persona.”
“Ultimately, you’ll want to tailor your digital content towards your ‘YouTube 2.0’ buyer persona. Consider what types of content that buyer persona would be most interested in, watch more, like and comment on, and share with peers. This will help you increase chances of conversion on YouTube.”
Ultimately, YouTube is a search engine, so you’ll want to treat the platform similarly to how you’d treat any other search engine. This means, by identifying your buyer persona, you can begin to target keywords that appeal most to that persona — and ensure you’re avoiding content that attracts “negative” personas, or people you don’t believe would be a good match for your brand.
(To learn more about how to create buyer personas, take a look at this post.)
4. Establish a product conversion path.
If you want to make money on YouTube, you’ll want to establish a strong conversion path — i.e. which YouTube content will attract the most viewers, and of those pieces of content, how can you leverage conversion opportunities to turn leads into customers?
We’ve identified 8 types of CTAs you can consider using in your YouTube videos. Among those are beginning-of-the-video CTA, description CTA, and drive-to-website CTA. Ultimately, you’ll want to outline a clear conversion path to understand how to turn your YouTube visitors into product leads.
For instance, let’s say you want to use YouTube as a channel to drive leads to your company’s new email marketing software. For starters, you’ll want to create a compelling YouTube video that attracts your email marketing buyer persona, and then you’ll want to drive those viewers to a dedicated landing page or e-book to learn more about email marketing. Once those leads are further down the pipeline, you can introduce them to your product.
Your conversion path, then, will look similar to strategies you’ve outlined in other lead generation channels, such as blog posts and social media — however, you’ll want to ensure you’re tailoring the content you produce on YouTube to YouTube’s demographic and the type of content YouTube viewers enjoy the most.
This might look slightly different from the content that performs well on your blog, but it’s worth the extra effort to ensure you’re creating content that fits each platform’s strengths.
5. Optimize your page for conversions.
There are tons of strategies specific to optimizing your YouTube account for SEO — which can ultimately lead to more visitors, and an increase in revenue.
A few quick tips: Consider inserting your intended keyword in your video title; optimize your video description; tag your video with popular keywords that relate to your topic; upload a customer thumbnail image; and add End Screens to increase your YouTube channel’s viewership.
It’s important to remember, when making money on YouTube, you want to play the long game. Sure, SEO-optimization may not put money in your pocket tomorrow, but it’s a good opportunity to increase viewership, establish your brand as an influencer in the space, and ultimately have the leverage needed to turn those thousands of viewers into paying customers.
6. Choose your monetization preferences.
There are a variety of monetization features you might explore on YouTube. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the path that best suits your business’ goals.
Take a look at these five YouTube features in particular on which you can make money:
- Advertising Revenue: Ad revenue from display, overlay, or video ads.
- Channel Memberships: Your members would make monthly payments for special perks or exclusive content.
- Merchandise Shelf: Your followers can purchase official branded merchandise that you display on your watch pages.
- Super Chat and Super Stickers: Your fans can pay you to get their messages highlighted in chat streams.
- YouTube Premium Revenue: Subscribers can pay a fee to get access to premium content, and if you sign up for this program, you’ll get a portion of that subscription fee.
Learn more about these features, and each feature’s eligibility requirements, on this page.
Additionally, let’s dive deeper into advertising revenue for a moment. There are three separate advertising options on YouTube: TrueView ads, Video Discovery Ads, and In-Stream Ads.
Ultimately, the ad option you choose will depend on your advertising goals. Ultimately, YouTube advertising can be one of the most effective opportunities for driving conversions for brands and influencers alike.
Take a look at YouTube Ads for Beginners: How to Launch & Optimize a YouTube Video Advertising Campaign to learn more.
7. Create sponsored content.
One other opportunity to make money on YouTube comes in the form of sponsored content.
If you’re a YouTube influencer, you might naturally incorporate a brand or product mention into your content, create an entire video featuring a brand’s product or service, or even include a brief shout-out to a brand with whom you’ve partnered.
There are plenty of small and large opportunities to partner with brands and receive payment, either for every individual referral you send to their website, or simply for including a brand mention in your content at all.
Best of all, you don’t need to pay YouTube a portion of your earnings for any sponsorships — instead, you can negotiate directly with the brand.
Alternatively, if you’re a brand, this could be a good opportunity to reach new audiences and, ultimately, drive revenue to your company.
Feel free to take a look at What Will Influencer Marketing Look Like in 2020? to learn more.
1. TrueView Ads
YouTube revenue: $2,600 – $41,600 per month
Got a great story to tell that also has a connection to your product? TrueView is for you. TrueView ads are your opportunity to create high-quality, longer creative spots that appear adjacent to the YouTube videos your target audience is already watching. These ads come in two forms: In-Stream and Discovery.
In-Stream videos play right before the YouTube user’s selected video, “in the stream” of that chosen video. Users can opt to skip this video after five seconds of it playing, as shown below, and jump to their content. In-Stream ads can be between 12 seconds and six minutes in length.
Discovery ads appear on the right sidebar of a selected video, just below the “Up Next” video as a suggested result. See how this one looks, below:
Because of the time you’re allotted with this ad format, it’s suggested that you create this type of ad with the goal of views and brand development, rather than just clicks into your website. This ad ideally generates revenue from the long-term brand awareness that comes out of a story people don’t want to skip, and one viewers remember the next time they approach your product or service.
Both In-Stream and Discovery are pay-per-view — you pay YouTube a fixed rate for every view the ad receives — and their return on investment (ROI) can be measured in Google AdWords. YouTube tallies one new “view” after 30 seconds of watching, or a click on the video as it’s playing. If the video is less than 30 seconds, views are tallied from people who watch the entire ad. (We’ll explain how AdWords manages all three ad formats in a minute.)
Clash Royale, a popular game app for mobile devices, has produced TrueView ads that are consistently in YouTube’s top 10 most highly watched ads of the year. The company’s 2017 ad, “The Last Second” (shown below), garnered more than 110 million views by the end of that year. This campaign contributed to a YouTube marketing strategy that makes the app developer no less than $4,000 per month, as estimated by SocialBlade.
2. Preroll Ads
Like In-Stream ads, Preroll ads play in the stream immediately before a user’s selected video. The difference is this ad type can’t be skipped after five seconds. These videos also run a maximum of 30 seconds, though YouTube recently confirmed it will limit advertisers to 15- and 20-second options starting this year.
Because viewing is required in this ad format, advertisers pay per click, so make the click worth it. A preroll ad with an enticing call-to-action that directs viewers to an appropriate landing or purchasing page on your website can be an enormous lead-generator for the sales team.
You can also leverage YouTube’s remarketing options, which enable you to send new videos back to users who’ve already engaged with your YouTube channel. If you’re a HubSpot user, and you’ve built smart forms for capturing new information on returning visitors, remarketing can be a terrific addition to an inbound marketing campaign.
This remarketing option helps you learn more about a person’s background and interests when they receive new videos that bring them to new landing pages.
3. Bumper Ads
Bumpers are the shortest ads you can buy. These six-second spots play just before a viewer’s selected video (like the above two options) but are best for brand awareness in the short breaks between long videos, or a YouTube playlist a user might be listening to in the background.
While they might be brief, YouTube found 90% of their bumper ads were remembered later by viewers. Bumpers are sold through cost-per-minute (CPM) bidding, which means you pay for every 1,000 plays of your ad on YouTube. They’re best used as a compliment to a TrueView ad campaign.
So how do you track the performance of these three video ad formats? Once you’ve created a YouTube channel and uploaded your video content, you can open a Google AdWords account and link it to your video campaign. In AdWords, select the campaign type, ad format, your budget, and to whom and where to show each video on YouTube.
You can target very specific audiences, and track the conversion rate of each video individually to see how much business (and revenue) you’re driving. See this blog post to learn more about this process.
4. YouTube Partner Program
YouTube revenue: $723,500 – 11.6 million per month
The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) allows the website’s most successful YouTube channels to monetize their content by serving ads made and paid for by other YouTube users.
The criteria for this program — which changed in 2018 — requires that your channel has reached 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 channel subscribers in the last 12 months. Once you have passed these two milestones, you can apply to join the program through the following steps:
- At the top-right of the YouTube homepage, click your account icon and select “Creator Studio.”
- On the left-hand side, click “Channel” and select “Status and features.”
- Under the box, “Monetization,” click “Enable.” Don’t be fooled if it says you’re already “Eligible” to the left; this just indicates there are no restrictions against you from trying to become a Partner.
- You’ll be asked to agree to the YPP Terms. Do so, and you’ll then sign up for an AdSense account so you can receive revenue through your monetized YouTube account.
- Set your ad hosting preferences and follow the prompts to submit your channel for review.
YouTube typically emails you a decision on whether they’ve accepted you into the YPP within a week of applying, so sit tight. Still trying to hit the right watch hours and channel subscribers? Keep in mind you should be posting prolifically — having just one or two videos on your channel that you’re personally proud of won’t cut it.
T-Series is a prime example of how volume and consistency can make you a sought-after channel by advertisers on YouTube. This India-based record company posts numerous music videos for songs written and performed in Bollywood, India. And although the company was founded in 1984 and has been on YouTube for nearly 10 years, keeping with this music video strategy has finally put them a position to dethrone PewDiePie (the famous video game-focused YouTube user) as the most popular YouTube channel in the world — with a whopping 83 million subscribers.
T-Series makes no less than $724 thousand per month from its YouTube channel, according to SocialBlade, much of which comes from advertisers through the YouTube Partner Program.
“Bollywood music is like Russian roulette. You keep on betting, but you don’t know what will be a hit.” -Nerraj Kalyan, President of T-Series
By publishing multiple videos a week, you can build your viewership, qualify for YPP, and make decent cash. YouTube splits ad revenue 55-45 with its partners — 45% to Google, 55% to you. That means an advertiser who invests $200 in serving ads on your channel can bring you $110 for your videos’ real estate.
T-Series’s president attributes their success on YouTube to the fact that the business doesn’t go into any one project thinking it will make money. Rather, the regular “bets” they place on YouTube increase their chances of capturing its audience, and increasing their following as a result.
5. Affiliate Links
YouTube revenue: $6,900 – $109,800 per month
As an affiliate, there is no eligibility requirement — you’re taking advertising into your own hands. This is a great option for YouTube channels that offer reviews and how-to’s, and frequently recommend new products to its viewers.
Turn those suggestions into paid (but natural) product placements in the description section of your video, as shown below:
Image via Authority Hacker
Working as an affiliate of various brands can make you money — albeit usually less than a YouTube Partner campaign — each time that company makes a sale off a link you post on one of your videos. In this case, you’re earning revenue from the company of which you are an affiliate, rather than from YouTube and its advertisers.
Start by joining an affiliate network through sites like Click Bank or Amazon’s Affiliate Program, and follow the signup instructions. Keep in mind that each program takes a different percentage of a sale as commission, and your success is still tied to the popularity of your YouTube channel.
Travel vloggers can also join Travelpayouts. It is a travel affiliate program, that allows you to make money on flight tickets, hotels, tours and other travel services. The affiliate commission (percentage) depends on the service you choose and your sales volume.
YouTube personality Marques Brownlee, whose YouTube channel is shown promoting affiliate links in the screenshot above, is a consumer electronics reviewer on YouTube. This makes affiliate advertising the perfect revenue stream for his channel because his advertisers are effectively paying for Marques to review — and, assuming it’s a positive review, promote — their products to his viewers. Marques says he also generates revenue through the YouTube Partner Program, according to Recode.
“There’s little things you can do to get people to watch your videos more, but none of it will make as drastic of a difference as the video itself. The video itself has to be what makes people watch it and share it and watch it again.” -Marques Brownlee, tech reviewer on YouTube
In the example above, Marques reviews a pair of headphones by Bose, suggesting they might be the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market. This made him an affiliate of Bose — just one piece of a YouTube marketing strategy that makes Marques no less than $6,900 per month, according to SocialBlade.
6. YouTube Super Chats and Super Stickers
What exactly is fan-funding? It’s exactly what it sounds like: viewers donate money to your channel if they find your content enjoyable.
It’s the perfect option for videos managed by charities and nonprofits, but even for-profit businesses and independent creatives can publish videos and YouTube Live streams that encourage contributions from their audience. Streaming platforms such as Twitch.tv, which webcasts video games and general interest content, sees accounts that are two years or older make $80 in “tips” per year on average.
Twitch.tv’s most popular users make thousands.
Obviously YouTube and Twitch have different users, but YouTube has just as many loyal channel subscribers who would likely pay for exclusive rewards and content. On YouTube, sign up for Fan Funding to allow viewers of a live stream to tip through a chat window associated with the video.
You can also sign up for Patreon, which allows you to launch membership-only video channels through YouTube at a small fee per month for regular rewards. Just imagine how much a YouTube channel could generate if it has the 1,000 subscribers required by the YPP. Charge $1 for a new channel with new content, and you could be looking at a solid monthly revenue stream.
7. Channel Membership
If you’re eligible, channel memberships is a powerful opportunity to offer exclusive perks to fans who are willing to pay a low monthly fee to become a member of your brand’s YouTube channel.
Channel memberships provide members with perks like loyalty badges, custom emojis, and other goods unique to the channel — for instance, comedian Mike Falzone offers a digital copy of his book and an exclusive coupon code to use on merchandise:
Take a look at YouTube’s Channel memberships eligibility, policies, & guidelines to see if this is a good fit for your brand. Ultimately, community membership could be a powerful opportunity for you to build a larger following on YouTube and make loyal fans feel valued by releasing exclusive, membership-only content.
8. Merchandise Shelf
Similar to the power of a good gift shop at the end of a museum tour, the Merchandise Shelf is a good option for influencers and brands alike to sell products or services to spread brand awareness and increase sales.
This is an especially good option for influencers. For instance, consider Ryan Higa, a Japanese American Youtube creator and personality, who has over 21 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. To earn money, Higa now has a full merchandise website he links to directly from his YouTube account. Devoted Higa fans will love purchasing a branded t-shirt or sweatshirt, and it earns Higa some hard-earned money on his already successful channel.
Take a look at YouTube’s merchandise page to learn more.
There’s no shortcut to well-earned cash money, even on YouTube. The good news is video is taking up an increasingly wide slice of global internet bandwidth, and there are numerous ways to produce video content that’s good enough for people to pay for.
2020 has presented unprecedented challenges for businesses. COVID-19 has forced most to pivot their strategies online and adapt to a growing digital landscape. While some have been able to stay afloat, others haven’t been as successful and many have had to close their doors permanently as a result.
Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic. In the United States, 26% of Black-owned businesses closed their doors permanently between February and May of 2020, compared to 11% of white-owned businesses.
That’s why, this holiday season, HubSpot is joining Google, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and other companies participating in Black-owned Fridays — an initiative to drive visibility and support for Black-owned businesses.
I spoke with Gianne Doherty, Founder of Organic Bath Co., to learn more about what businesses, and consumers, can do to support Black-owned businesses during this holiday season. Below are a few thoughts she offered during our conversation.
How to Support Black-Owned Businesses
1. Tell someone about a business or product.
Doherty started by saying that the simplest way to support Black-owned businesses during the holiday season is to tell people about their products. When you buy something cool or get a good deal, tell a friend. Online customer reviews are great, but a one-on-one interaction is usually the best way to convince someone to check out a business or product you love.
If you don’t know of any Black-owned businesses in your area, Doherty recommends heading to Google and doing a quick search. There are plenty of resources that can direct you to a Black-owned business in your area — one of which is the Official Black Wall Street Directory.
She also proposed searching social media sites to find Black-owned businesses online. For instance, if you search “#BlackOwnedBusiness” on Twitter, you can find plenty of accounts managed by Black business owners — liking, reposting, and sharing their content is also a great way to support these businesses.
2. Refer customers to Black-owned businesses.
Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly important for small businesses, especially if you’re operating in a B2B setting. Doherty noted that customer referrals make a huge impact on buying decisions, because customers will trust each other’s recommendations more than they’ll trust your brand’s advertisements. If you have the opportunity this holiday season, refer a Black-owned business to your customers or peers and help promote their brand.
Doherty also emphasized the importance of focusing on the value of the products and services you’re referring — and not just the fact that they’re Black-owned. After all, “shopping Black or shopping small doesn’t mean lower quality,” as she put it. When making a referral, Doherty encouraged people to highlight the benefits of the product or service along with the fact that they have been created by individuals who have been historically underfunded.
3. Shop early during the holidays.
The holidays are already a busy time for small businesses, and COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to keep pace with customer demand. In the United States, 99% of minority-owned businesses are small businesses, which means that many don’t have their own shipping operations like Amazon or Walmart.
Most small businesses in the United States use the United States Postal Service (USPS) when shipping their products, which can lead to delays as orders pile up around the holidays. Doherty recommends that customers try to buy their products early in the holiday season to avoid any potential problems that might occur with shipping.
4. Be patient with small businesses.
Alongside shopping early, Doherty also noted that customers will need to be a little more patient with small businesses this year. The holidays are already busy as it is and now, with COVID-19, many businesses are still learning how to adapt their marketing, sales, and customer service strategies. There are likely to be some new roadblocks to tackle this year, and customers need to be patient with small businesses as they work to overcome those challenges.
Black-owned businesses have already saw an increase in customer demand this year when searches for Black-owned businesses increased by over 7,000% between May and July. Unfortunately, this growth has declined since, creating a greater need for buyers to support Black-owned businesses during the holidays. While it’s wonderful to see a sudden spark of interest over the summer, Doherty encouraged buyers to continually support Black-owned businesses year-round and not just when it’s trendy.
5. Partner with Black-owned companies.
If you’re a business owner, one way you can partner with black-owned businesses is on promotional campaigns. Doherty, for example, has been partnering with other Black-owned businesses to hold giveaways. She’ll give away another brand’s product while that brand will give away one of hers. This is a great way for each company to raise awareness for the other among their customer bases.
Here’s one example from her company’s Instagram page, where she partnered with two other Black-owned beauty brands to give away products.
6. Buy from Black-owned businesses.
At the end of the day, the best way to support Black-owned businesses is to buy their products. Doherty said, “We’re voting with our dollars.” The businesses where we spend our money will be the ones that grow and thrive. If we don’t consciously shop at Black-owned businesses, we will continue to lose them at a disproportionate rate. If you really want to support Black-owned businesses this year, go out and purchase one of their products and tell a friend about them, too.
These are just a few of the ideas that Gianne Doherty wanted to share for Black-owned Friday. We hope it brings some attention to Black-owned businesses, especially those that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.
If you’re a Black business owner and are looking for ways to optimize your visibility this season, below are a few resources from Google that can help you reach new customers.
How to Get Support If You’re a Black Business Owner
Here are three things that Google recommends doing if you’re a Black business owner.
- Add your business to the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.’s ByBlack directory. You can add your listing and become a part of the community for free.
- Highlight that your business is Black-owned on your Business Profile on Google. By adding the Black-owned attribute, you’ll stand out to customers looking for your business on Google Search and Maps. Here’s how to get started.
- Get free coaching to help your business reach new customers, thrive online, and grow. Grow with Google Digital coaches provided dedicated support for Black and Latinx small businesses.
Online advertising is booming.
But, when you’re launching digital campaigns, you want to be sure you’re maximizing your efforts — and your profits — by boosting your ad’s impression share. Your impression share tells you how well your ad is performing compared to its total potential audience, and boosting it can help increase engagement as well as profit.
If you’re only engaging a small portion of your target audience, then analyzing your impression share is usually a good place to start. Increasing this value will help you propel ads to the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) — and ultimately generate more engagement for your campaigns.
In this post, we’ll explain what impression share is as well as the different types that your marketing team can track during your online ad campaigns.
Each time your ad is displayed on a webpage, that’s counted as an impression. Ads have the potential for more impressions for different reasons, especially when they’re keyword-savvy, attractive, and relevant.
When you track impression share, you have a clear representation of how well your ad is performing and how you can improve it over time — particularly through keywords. While there are plenty of metrics that can track how well your ads are doing, impression share helps you identify the shortcomings of your ad so you can fix it and make it more engaging to your audience.
Read on to learn about the different types of impression share that your business can track to generate more engagement for its ad campaigns.
Types of Impression Share
Search Impression Share
Search impression share is your ad’s impression share on a search network. According to Google, a search network is “a group of search-related websites where your ads can appear,” including Google search results, Google apps such as Maps and Shopping, and on Google search partners’ websites. This metric divides the impressions that your ad receives by the number of impressions it could receive on the search network.
This metric is greatly impacted by budget. If you have a low daily budget on Google, your ad will no longer be shown once you hit your budget. This means your ad might be getting impressions, but it’s still missing out on more engagement because of this daily limit.
If you’re not looking to spend more on your campaign, another way to improve search impression share is to focus on the quality score, target, bid, and conversion rate of your ads. These metrics gauge the effectiveness of your ad and improving them will lead to more engagement.
Display Impression Share
Google defines its Display Network as a group of over two million websites, videos, and apps where ads can appear. Display Network sites reach up to 90% of internet users and can show your ads in a particular context, or to a specific audience.
With display campaigns, you can increase your ad placements to improve impression share, but you’ll need to adjust your budget to accommodate this increase as well. Or, you can decrease your number of placements to make your campaign more cost-effective, but this will reduce the frequency of your ad’s display. The best approach is testing the number of placements until you’ve reached a point where you’ve optimized impression share without going over your campaign’s budget.
Target Impression Share
Target impression share provides an automatic approach to bidding on ads. With this tool, you can set automated bids for your campaign, which gives your ad a better chance of reaching the top of the SERP. And, with a more prominent position on a search results page, your ad is likely to gain more impressions over time.
Although impression share is only available per campaign, you can track target impression share for all of your campaigns at once. There are plenty of options for customizing it, too. For example, you can set it to bid for a certain section of the page — like the top half — or for certain times and places.
Adwords Impression Share
Wondering how to access your impression share data in Google Ads?
Once you’ve logged into your Ads account, just go to Campaigns > Columns > Modify Columns > Competitive Metrics > Impression Share, then click Save.
Now, your impression share will appear in a table that you can download.
Exact Match Impression Share
Exact match impression share is just as it sounds. This metric compares the impressions your ad received compared to how many it was eligible to receive for searches that exactly match your keywords. You can use exact match impression share to hone in on your keywords and improve your ads.
Search Lost Impression Share
The “Search Lost Impression Share (budge)” column shows you the percentage of impressions that you’re missing out on because of your budget. A high percentage here may mean that investing in a larger budget could boost your advertising efforts and sales in the long-run.
The “Search Lost Impression Share (rank)” column shows you the number of impressions you’re losing based on a low rank. If this percentage is high, advertisers should consider how to boost rank through quality score and cost-per-click rates. Quality score evaluates your keywords’ past performances, ad relevance, landing page experience, and expected clickthrough rate.
Consider making adjustments to your campaign’s keywords and creative assets if your search lost impression share (rank) is high. A relevant ad with great keywords will rank higher on the SERP, which can lead to more impressions, clicks, and sales.
If you want to manually determine the impression share for an ad, below is a formula that can help you calculate it.
As Google explains, “Eligible impressions are estimated using many factors, including targeting settings, approval statuses, and quality.” Once the maximum number of impressions is determined, all you have to do is divide the number of impressions that the ad receives by the maximum number of impressions that Google decides it’s eligible for.
We can see how this formula is written in the example below.
We can also modify this formula to find the total number of impressions that our ad is eligible for. For instance, if we already know our impression share, we can reformat the formula to look more like this.
Impression Share Formula Example
Let’s say we created an ad and Google says there are 5,000 potential impressions available. After monitoring our ad’s performance for a month, we recorded about 4,000 impressions. This would mean that our impression share is 80% (4,000 recorded impressions / 5,000 available impressions = 80% impression share).
Impression share is a handy metric for determining how well an ad campaign is doing and what your team can do to help it reach its full potential. By tracking impression share, you can automate bids, fine-tune your budget, and track keywords and quality score to reach your targeted audiences more often and generate greater brand awareness and profits.
For more ways to boost online ad engagement, read this list of helpful SEO tips.
From blog titles to URL slugs, you might not realize how frequently you use SEO stop words. But, to be fair, if Google doesn’t pay much attention to them, why should you?
Research shows that 25% of blog posts are made up of stop words. However, these words have little to no relevance to the topic of the post. These are words that help you compose sentences and connect ideas together, and they don’t have much impact on Google’s search results.
But, excessive use of stop words can impact your brand in the long run. They make content harder for search engines to process which can end up negatively affecting how they index your pages.
In this post, we’ll walk you through exactly what SEO stop words are, how they can hurt — or help — your online presence, and which words are considered stop words by Google and other search engines.
What Are Stop Words in SEO?
We use stop words all the time, whether we’re online or in our everyday lives. These are the articles, prepositions, and phrases that connect keywords together and help us form complete, coherent sentences.
Common words like its, an, the, for, and that, are all considered stop words. While they’re important for communicating verbally, stop words typically carry little importance to SEO and are often ignored by search engines.
Let’s review some of the most common stop words in the section below.
Common SEO Stop Words
The most common SEO stop words are pronouns, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. This includes words like a, an, the, and, it, for, or, but, in, my, your, our, and their.
When people search for something online, search engines like Google omit these words in their results because they don’t relate to the keywords in the search. So, rather than looking up content that’s related to these words, Google removes them altogether and prioritizes the keywords.
So, the next time you’re trying to hit a word count when writing a blog post, try filling that open space with keywords rather than filler copy that doesn’t improve your SEO.
While it would be great to load up your content with only meaningful keywords, the reality is that stop words are needed for every type of copy. After all, even if you rank highly on Google, it won’t mean much if your content is incomprehensible or doesn’t resonate with your audience.
Are Stop Words Beneficial for SEO?
There’s a time and place for SEO stop words. First and foremost, stop words help the reader understand the content. It can be confusing to read titles and subheaders without stop words.
You also might find instances where stop words help you differentiate between two topics. For example, you can search ‘flamingos’ and you’ll see information about beautiful, bright pink birds. Add ‘the’ to the front, and you’ll be directed to YouTube to listen to the band, The Flamingos. This tiny, three-letter stop word makes a world of a difference in this case.
In the next section, let’s look at some other times when you should be paying attention to stop words to optimize your content’s search ranking.
Removing Stop Words
Should you be removing stop words from all of your content?
Like anything else, it depends on how you’re using them. If your titles, headings, URL slugs, and keywords make sense without them, then it can be beneficial to remove them.
SEO Stop Words in Titles
If your titles don’t make sense when you take out those articles or prepositions, then it’s best to leave them be. After all, you want your audience to actually click and read your content. If the most prominent parts — including the title — don’t make sense, the website could come off as unprofessional or even spammy.
It usually makes the most sense to leave stop words in titles and headings, as these are wayfinding elements for users navigating your content. Just keep in mind that the optimal character count for titles is 50-60 characters, as search engines cut off longer titles, which could omit important information for the visitor. If you have lengthy stop words in your title, consider rewriting them to balance brevity and clarity.
Stop Words in URL Slugs
When it comes to URL slugs, stop words typically don’t have much significance in SEO. They’re relevant, however, if they make your URL slug particularly long. Google ranks URLs based on their length, and longer URLs typically rank lower than shorter ones — as outlined by the chart below.
Stop Words as Keywords
As we touched on in the last section, there are some times when stop words are crucial to keywording because they differentiate a proper noun from something else. For example, if you searched “Jets New York” you’d probably get a list of flights coming in and out of New York City. But, if you searched, “The New York Jets,” you would get content about the professional football team instead.
Now that we’re familiar with what stop words are and when we should use them, let’s look at a broader list of stopwords that you should be aware of when creating and optimizing content.
75 Stop Words in SEO
There are many, many more stop words out there, but here’s a list of some of the most common stop words to be mindful of when creating content online.
Using SEO Stop Words
SEO stop words are important if you want to create a strong SEO strategy and rank highly on search engines like Google. Overusing them can hinder your ranking, but avoiding them altogether will make your content confusing and unclear. By understanding what stop words are and which words qualify as stop words, you can craft content that works to your brand’s advantage.
For more ways to rank higher on search engines, read these SEO tips.
In 2020, B2C businesses all over the world pivoted their strategies as consumers dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only did the pandemic force people to live and work strictly from home, but it also put a financial burden on many households and businesses.
Now, as the holidays approach, both physical and online business owners are wondering if they’ll still get the same level of booming business they saw last year.
Because we (unfortunately) can’t predict the future, we decided to survey a sample of nearly 300 general consumers about their holiday shopping plans.
Specifically, we asked, “Compared to last year, how will COVID-19 impact your holiday shopping plans?”
As part of the Lucid survey, participants could check all the boxes related to how their holiday shopping would be impacted.
While you’ll see that some of the responses align with research-backed shopping predictions, the overall results of the survey might surprise you:
While you might not be shocked that many respondents are planning more online shopping than last year, you might be surprised that nearly one-third of them still plan to go to physical stores.
Additionally, with 41% of respondents planning to spend less money or buy fewer gifts this year, you might wonder if budget-conscious consumers will still spend money on your products.
Remember, this is just one small poll of general consumers. Had we zoned in on a specific audience target or location, the results might have been very different.
However, these responses are still worth keeping in mind as you navigate the holiday season. It also hints at potential trends that could continue in 2021.
Below, I’ll walk you through the three biggest holiday shopping pivots consumers plan to make this year, as well as a few business takeaways for handling each shift.
3 Pivots Holiday Shoppers are Making in 2020
1. Despite online growth, physical stores won’t be vacant.
As you might expect, the number one holiday shopping change, cited by 47% of survey respondents, was, “I plan to do more online shopping.”
This makes sense. In 2020, consumers who weren’t tech-savvy learned how to buy almost everything they needed online. Meanwhile, those who already made purchases regularly online embraced it more heavily. Additionally, with holiday shopping seasons known for closely packed quarters stores, some consumers might opt to stay at home this year to avoid the crowds.
However, it doesn’t seem like foot-traffic will cease completely.
To learn more about how abundant ecommerce would be this season, we asked, “Where do you plan to do your holiday shopping this year?”
As it turns out, lots of people still plan to shop in-person this season:
While 33% of consumers plan to shop “mostly” or “completely” online, 34% plan to do an “even mix of both online and in-store shopping.”
On the other hand, 33% percent plan to shop “mostly” or “completely” in-store this year.
Although this survey is just one small piece of data, and these results might vary by location, the responses hint that physical stores might still get business despite increased online shopping.
Takeaways for Business Owners
Ultimately, online shopping is growing — and we see more online purchase revenue with each new holiday season.
Even if our survey results show that people still plan to shop at least partially in stores, you should consider building an online presence and — potentially — an ecommerce strategy.
When it comes to building an online presence, you could start with a business page on Facebook or Instagram, or a Google My Business listing to help internet users learn more about your brand and where you’re located.
For example, if you already promote your brand with a Facebook Business Page or Instagram Business profile, you could highlight and sell a few of your most popular products in a Facebook Shop. This will allow you to test the waters with ecommerce by selling a few select products online. Then, once you feel confident in your shipping and supply chain, you can launch a full ecommerce site with one of these tools.
2. Shoppers might not splurge — even on gifts.
Due to the uncertain financial times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers were already tightening their budgets and protecting their assets. Now, with plans for in-person holiday gatherings uncertain for many folks, there are also fewer reasons to purchase gifts and other holiday items.
However, since holidays have been known to encourage people to splurge more than usual, you might think that this time of year could be an exception to current shopping trends.
When polling general consumers, 26% percent said, “I plan to spend less money.” while 15% said, “I plan to buy fewer gifts due to limited holiday gatherings.” In total, 41% of consumers indicated that they plan to spend less or buy fewer products this year.
The data above, although unsurprising, still reaffirms consumer predictions that might be concerning to business owners.
Takeaways for Businesses
By now, brands have already seen consumers tighten budgets and limit non-essential purchases. Not to mention, studies from McKinsey and other organizations predict that consumers will continue to spend more frugally through 2021.
But, even if you’re up to date on the current market research trends, you might not be sure how to grapple with these consumer behavior shifts.
Right now, buyers need extra motivation to buy expensive or non-essential products. While the holidays might give them a reason to splurge a bit more than they have throughout the year, consumers will still want to invest in products with the best value — whether they’re buying for themselves or their families.
Because people are looking for essential products they need or items that offer the best bang for their buck, focus your messaging on answering questions like:
- “Why does the consumer need this product?”
- “How does this product or service solve one of their problems?”
- “Why is the product worth its price?”
Aside from adjusting your messaging, you can also adjust your content to help you answer the questions above. For example, you can post content that highlights sales, deals, and promo codes that people with more stringent budgets might use.
If you can’t offer a sale or deal, you could alternatively use testimonials, reviews, or user-generated content from your current customers in your marketing. When you share a happy customer’s review or testimonial, you allow prospects to hear stories of people who benefited from your products. This can build a sense of authenticity and brand trust that ultimately leads to purchases.
3. Shoppers will take social distancing seriously.
Above, we noted that our respondents still want to shop at least partially in stores this year. But, many of them might also want to avoid bustling crowds that have historically been seen during holiday shopping seasons.
Because of this, the third biggest holiday shopping change — which 33% of respondents cited — was, “I still plan to shop in stores but will be more cautious of social distancing.”
Takeaways for Businesses
While small business owners would love to see crowds line up to enter their stores during the holiday season, it’s clear that things will be very different this year. Not only will customers be mindful about social distancing, but other research shows that they might be more concerned about their health and safety when shopping than ever.
If you want to embrace in-person foot-traffic opportunities this holiday season, it’s important to know that people might be fearful of crowds or getting too close to others. Because of this, you should invest in PPE for your staff, while also considering protective barriers, one-way aisles, and other solutions to keep people far apart.
While this will not only make customers feel safer in your store, it could give you a competitive advantage over shops that take fewer precautions. After all, customers trust brands that care about them and their safety.
Navigating a Unique Holiday Season
While we can offer suggestions and basic data on how holiday shopping will change this year, it’s important to keep in mind that results could be different for every business — whether physical or online.
Although planning a holiday strategy in a pandemic can feel daunting or nearly impossible, keeping a few tips in mind could still help you get sales and intrigue consumers who are ready and able to shop.
- Market your product’s value: Now — and in the near future — consumers will need to be persuaded that your product is valuable, better than a cheaper option, and worth investing in. If your messaging, reviews, or online content fail to convey those things, a budget-minded shopper might very well buy something from a competitor — or avoid buying any product in your industry at all.
- Build an online presence: Even if you plan to rely on foot-traffic this year, you’ll still want to develop an online presence so people can learn about your store, where you’re located, and any deals you offer. If you’re ready to step into the world of ecommerce, many easy-to-use tools can help you launch a scalable online store.
- Care about your customer: This year, customers are paying extra attention to how brands treat them. When a brand makes an effort to ensure a pleasant and safe experience, shoppers will remember and trust them more. Even if your business is mostly online, you can still show customers you care through helpful and responsive customer service, answering customer questions on social media, and offering deals or content that solve for your ideal customer.
To learn more about how COVID-19 has impacted the overall business landscape, check out our six-month retrospective fueled by data from thousands of HubSpot users.
Traffic matters. The more traffic your website generates, the greater your chances of capturing visitor interest, encouraging user action and generating sales.
So it’s no surprise that traffic remains a top priority no matter what kind of site you run. As noted by a recent Forbes piece, everything from specific search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to contextually-relevant content can help boost traffic volumes and increase key metrics, while more technical traffic attractions such as reducing page load delays and improving user experience on mobile devices can also enhance your website impact.
The potential downside? These traffic-boosting tactics aren’t quick fixes. They require time and effort to deliver ongoing results — and they’re not guaranteed.
Website traffic exchange sites offer a supposedly speedy solution to deliver increased impressions and help your click-throughs climb the charts, but as noted by Google, they also come with significant risk “because they may lead to invalid clicks or impressions and result in your account being disabled.”
Here’s what you need to know about website traffic exchange sites, how they work — and the red flags that make them a non-starter for sustained traffic over time.
What is a Website Traffic Exchange?
The idea behind a website traffic exchange is simple: Quid pro quo — you do something, and you get something in return.
In this case, what you’re doing is visiting other business owners’ websites, and they’re visiting yours in return. The theory holds that with enough visits your site will start to climb relevant search rankings and eventually drive more organic traffic your way.
At face value, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea: Since website owners all want the same thing — traffic — why not band together and use the power of the Web at large for collective gain?
But problems crop up as traffic trends away from the organic views and user engagements that search engines are now built to detect. Since you’re visiting sites as quickly as possible to generate their traffic and get the same in return, your website impressions are feather-light and fleeting; there’s no engagement with content and no context for the visit.
As search engines become more sophisticated, meanwhile they can detect this lack of legitimacy — and penalize your site for it.
Understanding Website Traffic Exchange Sites
The most common form factor for these traffic exchange options is as traffic exchange websites. Do a quick Google search and dozens will pop up, all offering high-volume, low-risk services.
These websites are simply groups of website owners who all agree to visit the other sites on the list and in return have their own sites visited. Some are free to join and have hundreds or thousands of sites listed; others come with a fee and may support millions of sites worldwide.
While smaller sites typically operate on a one-for-one model — you visit one website and get a visit in return — larger operations may impose a site-viewing ratio, especially if your site is just starting. For example, if your ratio is 0.5 you must visit two sites before getting one visit in return.
To help smaller companies boost their profile more quickly, many of these website traffic exchange sites now offer for-pay options that promise to deliver a certain quantity of digital visitors in a specific time frame. They may also run contests or promotions that group members can enter (for free or for pay) which will boost their traffic multiplier and supposedly get them closer to the top of relevant, front-page searches.
Red Flags: Why You Shouldn’t Use Traffic Exchange Services
So far, these traffic exchange sites don’t sound like a terrible idea: You get traffic for free or for pay and provide traffic for other sites.
But here’s the problem: As noted by Google, their AdSense program specifically prohibits any artificial means of generating impressions or clicks — if your website is found to be using these methods, your AdSense profile may be suspended and your search ranking will drop. Although website traffic exchange sites use a slightly different model to deliver click-throughs and visitor impressions, they may create similar red flags for popular search engines in turn causing your site’s search ranking to crash.
There’s also the larger problem of organic and contextual traffic. Your ultimate goal is to attract visitors with relevant website content that drives specific action — such as signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form or making a purchase. Achieving this goal requires two things: Organic searches that return your website as a top result and contextual, value-driven content that creates consumer engagement
Traffic exchange sites provide the first part of this equation, since group members may be given specific keywords to enter which return your site and boost search rankings. But they fall short on the second half, since these aren’t real visitors but other group members clicking through and then bouncing away while waiting for you to return the favor. This creates an issue for intelligent search engine algorithms that notice your traffic increase — and commensurate lack of engagement, in turn red-flagging your site and potentially damaging your search ranking.
Green-light Options for Increasing Your Website Traffic
If website traffic exchange services are a non-starter, what can site owners do to increase traffic, drive more leads and deliver ROI?
Some of the most effective options include:
- Creating relevant content
- Buying targeted ads
- Writing guest posts
- Capturing better backlinks
- Repurposing old assets
Curated, context-aware content matters to improve traffic metrics. This means creating website layouts and resources that are relevant to your target audience and provide actionable information about your products, unique market position or pricing.
Free press is great, but it’s not always easy to find. As a result, it’s worth doing your research and purchasing targeted ad space on the social platforms preferred by your buyer personas. For example, if you find significant group numbers of Facebook dedicated to discussions of products or services in your industry, it’s worth considering some targeted ad spend to attract specific user interest.
Many website owners are experts in their field, making them ideal authors for guest posts on more popular blogs or sites. Start by reaching out to site admins about writing a guest post with the caveat that they’ll include a link to your site. This lets you capitalize on larger traffic pools without paying for traffic exchange sites.
Speaking of backlinks, it’s worth trying to generate as many great backlinks as possible. Start with a quick search of your brand, product and service names — if you see them mentioned in search results but unlinked, reach out to the author and ask for a backlink. It’s also worth checking the most-searched terms in your market vertical; if you can capture these searches with on-site content, there’s potential to secure backlinks on popular “best of” articles and listicles.
You’ve got content you’re no longer using, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. While simply reposting it won’t generate new traffic, you can repurpose popular resources into something else. For example, a well-performing blog post could be turned into a video or serve as the jumping-off point for a discussion, while a whitepaper could see new life as an infographic with updated statistics.
The bottom line? More traffic means better search rankings and improved user engagement on your website.
But not all traffic is created equal. While traffic exchange websites promise high volume and velocity, the value of this tactic comes with risk — and can’t compare to value-driven, user-focused traffic building that steadily boosts your search ranking and helps turn first-page curiosity into a functional sales conversion.
All humans — including your customers — are emotional creatures.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure every interaction customers have with your company a memorable one — so memorable that they’ll want to recommend your business to a friend, family member, or colleague.
That connection between your business and customers is exactly what customer experience is all about — providing the support that your customers seek throughout all stages of the buyer’s journey.
You can think of the whole customer journey as a (very important) and complete transaction between your brand and customer, — what happens throughout that transaction and the way your customers feel define the customer experience.
For instance, you visit your local ice cream shop; the waitress welcomes you with your name and immediately asks if you’d like your regular treat, a chocolate sundae with extra chocolate chips, or if you’d prefer to look at a menu.
Wouldn’t this personalized and positive experience make you want to continue returning to that ice cream shop? Sometimes it hardly matters how the food tastes — the unique and delightful customer experience is what keeps you going back.
This doesn’t just apply to brick-and-mortar stores either. For example, when a prospect visits your website, why would they want to stick around to learn about your products or what your brand stands for if they don’t feel valued, understood, and heard? In this case, it won’t matter how beautiful your site isor how well you’ve optimized your site — what matters is CX.
Understanding Customer Experience (CX): How to See the World Through Your Customer’s Eyes
There are a number of ways a customer may interact with your business. For example, when they visit your website, engage with your social posts, click on your ads, purchase your product or service, or provide feedback. Customer experience includes all of these interactions and more.
A recent study by Oracle reveals maximizing customer satisfaction across the buyer journey increases total customer satisfaction by 20%, and drives revenue growth by up to 15%.
You need to see the world through customer-colored glasses. Understand their challenges and needs. They want to be heard and expect quick responses and speedy reactions from your team members.
Focus on client-centricity — put your customers first by searching for opportunities to create products and services that resolve the challenges of your customers. You can also identify your best customers with smart segmentation. There are a lot of benefits of customer segmentation including a better understanding of your customer’s behaviors, interests, and pain points.
Here are some great examples of how brands are enhancing their customer experience.
- When Tony started Zappos (now a billion-dollar brand), he rewarded his team for spending long hours over the phone to create a splendid customer experience.
- Apple added a human element to their customer interaction by installing experts at the Genius bar.
- FedEx ensured a better customer experience by answering every customer support call on the first ring.
Now that you know what CX is, let’s take a moment to review what it is not.
Customer experience is not user experience (UX).
Customer experience and user experience are separate strategies businesses deploy to help them grow.
User experience is a subset of customer experience. It revolves around your products. It’s all about how your customers interact with your products and what experience they have with them. User experience is a blend of design and architecture, usability, functionality, user-hierarchy, and understanding.
Whereas customer experience is a summary of the complete customer journey map. It starts when a visitor hears about you and exists throughout every interaction with Sales,Marketing, Customer Service, as well as with the product you sell.
Next, let’s review the ways in which CX impacts your conversions and why you may not be seeing the impact you’re hoping for on your bottom line just yet — and don’t worry, we’ll work through some ways to resolve those challenges too.
5 Reasons Why Your Customer Experience is Not Converting Prospects (Yet)
You don’t know your customers well.
The first reason for the low conversion rates is you don’t know who you are targeting. When you are not aware of your target audience, how would you guarantee their conversions?
How to fix it?
- Determine what your customers want, where their interests lie, what they like, and other common characteristics — everything that helps you reach your audience. (Make buyer personas to help you with this.)
- Run customer surveys and polls; they are the best way to collect customer information. The feedback you receive from there is filtered and gives you a quick view of your user requirements.
- Analyze your customers’ behavior with marketing analytics with HubSpot CRM.
- Segment your buyers based on their buying frequency, recency, and monetary metrics (RFM segmentation).
- Filter your best customers by separating them into categories with HubSpot’s Smart Lists, and send personalized emails to them.
2. Your products are not grabbing your user’s attention.
It’s an age-old saying that the first impression is the last impression. It’s very critical that the visitor’s first impression on viewing your products and your website as a whole is a pleasant one.
The buying decision of the vast majority of your website visitors is impacted by this first impression. If your products are visually appealing, the visitor is bound to take more interest and there is a good chance of conversion.
How to fix it?
When it comes to your eCommerce store, it’s important to keep in mind that your customers are buying products without necessarily ever having the ability to test them out and/or feel them first. So, you need to create an environment where they can make easy purchasing decisions that are virtual from start to finish.
There are a variety of ways through which you can enhance the customer experience and boost conversions.
- Use high-quality photographs and captivating videos to showcase your product and tell stories about your brand and product or service.
- Keep your products organized on your website and implement easy-to-use navigation.
- Leading fashion brands like L’oreal and Rayban allow users to try virtual makeover tools and provide a 360-degree view of their products. Such innovative leaps in presenting online products help these brands to stand out from others and attract huge audiences.
- Use augmented reality (AR) — this is a popular trend in the beauty and fashion industries because customers can try your products on virtually (e.g. a pair of sunglasses).
- Create an omnichannel experience for your online shoppers by augmenting product visualization.
- Be clear about your pricing strategy. According to Quicksprout, 56% of shoppers abandon their carts at checkout because of unexpected costs.
3. Your website isn’t ready for shoppers.
Did you know that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive?
Also, 75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design.
If you are experiencing a solid amount of traffic but few conversions and a high bounce rate, your website design likely has issues.
How to fix it?
- If your website is suffering from low traffic, that may be because your audience isn’t getting what they are looking for. Make sure you are keeping everything on your website accessible for your users.
- Secondly, when a user visits your website, try to enhance the hero section (the header part) as beautiful, clean, and direct as possible. This section can contain your product, service, and offers too.
- Add clear call-to-actions (CTAs) throughout your webpage. Add a “view cart” option as well to heighten the chances of successful checkouts.
- Keep your website design conversion-focused. Put your menu bars (in the header and footer) organized. This will allow your users to navigate to find their goals quickly.
- Statista says there will be a total of 4.78 billion smartphone users in 2020. So if your website isn’t mobile-optimized, then you may lose conversions.
- Capitalize on your social media — use it to help you boost your top-performing content such as blog posts, customer reviews, and testimonials. Respond to feedback and answer customer questions through social media, too.
4. You’re unable to win your customer’s trust.
One reason for lower conversion rates is that you are incapable of winning your customer’s trust.
81% of online shoppers feel concerned when shopping on a website with which they are not familiar. Trust cannot be forced; let’s see how you can win your customers’ trust naturally without a push.
How to fix it?
- Choose the right trust seal to improve security on your websites. Trust seals verify your website to be legal and lawful.
- Add customer reviews to your website to increase the chances of conversions and enhance your customer experience. According to BrightLocal, the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.
- Be socially active, entertain, communicate, engage, educate, and run campaigns around your brand. Be real and stick to your niche and brand values.
- Engage your customers and earn their trust by establishing excellent communication practices.
- Add high-converting and relevant CTAs to your website above the fold. Use phrases and words like Learn More, Shop Now, Download, Sign-up, and Book Now.
5. You have not planned your customer onboarding.
Remember, there are two kinds of customer onboarding: on-site, and off-site. The fundamental difference between on-site and off-site onboarding is that, when a shopper lands on your website, it means they’re looking for your products or services. In off-site, the customer has already been introduced to your products and services, before he/she needs them.
How to fix it?
- Offer a real-time product demo for your audience to help them explore your product and it’s features quickly. According to Wyzowl, 84% of people say that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. Video demos impact purchasing decisions significantly and boost engagement as well.
- For a frictionless customer experience, it is crucial how you handle users who leave your website or intend to leave it.
- Use an immediate exit-intent pop-up.
- Set up an email marketing campaign and select time-slots to send interactive abandoned cart emails to lost users.
- Keep your cart visible to users.
- Use retargeting or remarketing ads to target users who have visited your website before.
- Be different — offer a dynamic free trial period for your products and services. Then, a user can extend the trial period and if they choose to. This provides a sense of flexibility and freedom for users.
Remember: Customers are humans, not your contact to close in the CRM.
Customer experience brings your customers closer to your brand. Humanize your brand and design, and analyze your customer journey map.
Light up your brand with a customer-centric approach and capture your shopper’s attention using the strategies mentioned above. For more information, check out the latest customer experience statistics & trends 2020 here.
Author Bio: Himanshu Rauthan is an entrepreneur and co-founder at MakeWebBetter, an eCommerce digital marketing agency, HubSpot Premier Integration and Gold Solutions Partner. He is a digital marketing and inbound expert, passionate about building and scaling eCommerce customer experiences.
HubSpot marketing teams reserves the right to use guest blog author’s likeness across our content as we see fit, including but not limited to HubSpot’s social media channels.
Not long ago, if you wanted to find a place to eat, you needed to search for a term like “Boston restaurants”. But, today, you can instantly find a good restaurant that’s nearby if you just search for the term, “Where should I go for dinner?”
That’s because Google is sophisticated enough to recognize your intent or the implications of your query. However, prior to 2015, you needed to type the most straightforward queries into the search engine to find the answers you were looking for.
So how did Google evolve to understand their searchers’ intent and implications so quickly? Well on October 26, 2015, they confirmed that they updated their algorithm with a machine-learning artificial intelligence system called RankBrain.
In other words, RankBrain helps Google understand a searcher’s intent and serve the most relevant content to them.
How Does Google’s RankBrain Work?
As explained above, RankBrain was designed for the searcher’s experience in mind, particularly when it comes to understanding the intent and relationships behind seemingly complex searches.
In order to better explain this functionality, we break down how RankBrain works in conjunction with Google’s algorithm as a whole:
RankBrain and Other Ranking Signals
Before RankBrain, Google used a number of ranking signals to determine:
- Relevance to the searcher’s query
- The authority of a particular website and page to provide a trustworthy answer
- User experience so that the searcher would have their needs met in an enjoyable way and without friction
Some of these signals (or ranking factors) include:
- Quality content
- Page speed
- Mobile experience
While these ranking factors are still relevant, they don’t tell the whole story anymore. For one, they are largely static and don’t factor in semantic search, and that’s where RankBrain differs from these components of Google’s algorithm.
RankBrain and Machine Learning
Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that “learns” from data and improves based on experience. The advantage of machine learning is that it can analyze and connect multitudes of variables to “understand” beyond what a human analyst would be able to — if it has a sufficient amount of data.
Why is this relevant in the context of RankBrain? Because RankBrain is an example of machine learning as implemented by Google.
To accurately determine a searcher’s intent, Google feeds RankBrain a massive amount of data. Then, RankBrain analyzes it and teaches itself how to serve the most relevant results based off certain search signals, such as search history, device, and location.
For example, if you type the query “Where should I go for dinner?” into Google, the search engine will first pinpoint your location and detect the device you’re using. Then, it’ll use these factors to interpret your query’s intent, which Google will translate to “Which restaurants are currently open for dinner within walking distance of my current location?”, helping it serve the most relevant results to you.
RankBrain and Hummingbird
Hummingbird is a version of Google’s search algorithm that extracts the meaning of the whole query rather than particular words. This component is the reason why Google can determine semantic meanings from specific queries to produce the best result.
RankBrain feeds user signals into this aspect of the algorithm, enhancing Google’s ability to infer meaning. To be more specific about the relationship between the two, Connectica makes the following analogy that: “RankBrain is the thinking and Hummingbird is the memory.”
An example of RankBrain’s capabilities in this way is how similar the search results are for semantically similar but different keywords. For example, “bang hairstyles” and “hairstyles with bangs” have similar results, including keywords that are not optimized word-for-word for the specific query.
How Do You Optimize for RankBrain?
Even though RankBrain helps Google adapt to changing search behavior, most marketers still haven’t adapted their SEO strategy to this transformation. Here are some mindset changes you should adopt when thinking about modern-day SEO.
1. Stop thinking of SEO in terms of keywords alone.
“One of the main reasons we keep drilling our audience with the idea of topics over keywords is that search has evolved but our customer’s content marketing strategies are lagging behind,” says Victor Pan, HubSpot’s Head of Technical SEO. “Practices like purposely creating pages with misspellings and poor grammar just because there is search volume need to go.”
Today, people rely heavily on Google to provide accurate and relevant answers for most of their questions, so the search engine needs to understand the intent and context behind every single search.
To do this, Google has evolved to recognize topical connections across users’ queries, look back at similar queries that users have searched for in the past, and surface the content that best answers them. As a result, Google will deliver content that they deem the most authoritative on the topic.
2. Implement the pillar-cluster model.
To help Google recognize your brand as a trusted authority, consider implementing the pillar-cluster model on your blog. Using this strategy, you’ll create a single pillar page that provides a high-level overview of a topic and hyperlinks to cluster pages that delve into the topic’s subtopics. This signals to Google that your pillar page is an authority on the topic.
Hyperlinking all of the cluster pages to the pillar page also spreads domain authority across the cluster, so your cluster pages get an organic boost if your pillar page ranks higher, and your cluster pages can even help your pillar page rank higher if they start ranking for the specific keyword they’re targeting.
3. Move toward long-form, high-quality pages and posts.
On the editorial side of things, RankBrain has pressured content marketers to scrap a tactic that they should’ve abandoned years ago — prioritizing volume over quality. Nowadays, spending more time and effort crafting insightful and compelling content at a lower volume is one of the best ways to bolster your standing with Google.
“If you have a huge inventory of 2000-era SEO tactics, I’d highly recommend consolidating the pages that are driving zero value to your business with 301 redirects,” says Pan. “It’s not that less is more, but better is more. It’s very common for a strong piece of content to rank for over hundreds of long-tail keywords of the same intent.”
RankBrain has advanced Google’s search engine to the point where people can interact with it like they’re chatting with their friends — and it’s time for content marketers to catch up.
If you apply the lessons learned above to your SEO strategy, however, you could adapt faster to RankBrain than Google’s search algorithm evolved after they implemented the AI system.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
It’s surprisingly inexpensive to start a business today — as little at $5,000, reports Fortunly. However, as encouraging as that is to aspiring business owners, the costs to run that business every day are a bit more complex.
Before research and development, and before you even rent an office space, you might want to know how much money you’ll need to make your product. These are your direct costs.
What are direct costs?
Direct costs are what you spend specifically to develop and maintain your product or service. These costs can vary over time as the product is improved upon. Direct costs range from employee salaries to the price of the items needed to build each unit of your product.
Direct cost is particularly important to factor in when setting the price for your offerings because it acts as the minimum amount to break even on production. From the break-even point, you can determine the margin you need to cover your business’s indirect costs (overhead) and turn a profit.
Increases in direct cost can be caused by increases in material or manufacturing costs, lowered production efficiency or delays, and other similar issues. For this reason, it’s a good to have a finger on the pulse of your direct costs as an indicator for preempting major problems.
In addition, direct cost can help managers determine if new products or projects are profitable and whether it’s more viable to outsource or tackle in-house.
Are direct costs different from fixed and variable costs?
Actually, direct costs are a type of fixed or variable cost. These expenses are not mutually exclusive. Whether or not a direct cost is fixed or variable simply depends on how likely (or regularly) the cost is to change as your business grows. Here are two examples:
- Variable direct cost: A SaaS company that sells cloud-based software is responsible for storing the data their customers put on their software. That information is stored on servers. The more clients the company has, the more servers the business will need to buy to store client data so the product can continue to operate. Server costs, in this case, are a variable direct cost to the business.
- Fixed direct cost: Consider the variable cost example, above. This company also employs an IT administrator to manage the storage of its customers’ data. Barring changes to his/her compensation, the salary the company pays this administrator remains unchanged each month. IT salaries are a fixed direct cost to the business.
Direct vs. Indirect Costs
Direct costs are invested “directly” in the development of a product or service. Indirect costs may affect the business’s overhead, but they do not directly contribute to the creation and quality of that service. These costs include office space rent, office security, and staff supplies.
Direct costs get their name because they have a “direct” line to the creation and management of your goods and services. You pay cost A in exchange for item B, you use item B to make product C. Cost A is a direct cost because product C can be traced back to the cost A you paid.
Indirect costs are more complicated and do not have this direct line to your product’s end result. You pay cost A in exchange for facility B, you use facility B to host machine C, machine C is used by team D to make product E. Cost A is an indirect cost because product E cannot be directly traced back to the cost A you paid. There are other direct costs that took place between A and E.
Examples of Direct Costs
- Physical materials
- Employee salaries
- Sales commission
- Data center space
- Product transportation
It’s easy to attribute your direct costs to the money you spend physically making your goods and services. An automotive company, for example, might pay a steel manufacturer for the material used to create each car body. This is a direct cost to the car company.
However, there are other direct costs that can go into a product even if those costs don’t pay for the material your product is made out of. Here are some common examples of direct costs you can attribute directly to your product:
1. Physical materials
The raw materials, ingredients, and parts needed to build your product are all direct costs to your business.
For example, if sell computers, you’ll need to factor in the materials needed for the screen, the keyboard, and the hard-drive, as well as any other material needed to build the device when designating a cost for it.
2. Employee salaries
The individual salaries, particularly the ones you pay to those who make and sell your product, are direct costs.
If you hire any freelancers or contractors, you’ll also want to factor in how much money you will need to spend on their labor.
3. Sales commission
This is different than salary and is usually specific to salespeople, which often work partially on commission.
Every time a salesperson sells a unit of your product, he/she is paid commission. This is a direct cost to maintaining the value or your product. Compare how many units you’d like to sell with the commissions you’ll pay every time they get sold.
In 2020, almost every business needs some sort of a website. Meanwhile, every website needs a server. The servers needed to store customer data on your product, particularly if your product is in the form of software, is a direct cost to your business.
While you might be able to trim down costs buy building your website on a CMS that provides server support, you should still factor in the costs you’ll need to protect and store your data.
5. Data center space
Just paying for your servers isn’t the only thing you might have to factor in. You also might need to consider where you’ll place them and how much that could cost. Data center space you rent or own to store those servers is a direct cost.
6. Product transportation
Once a customer buys a product, how will it get to them? Will it come in the mail, or will a delivery tech from your company bring it? You’ll need to determine which strategy you’ll use and add up the costs associated with that. While mail will result in regular shipping costs, having your own company deliver it will results in costs of labor and costs related to purchasing your own modes of transit, such as trucks.
Electricity or fuel consumption is an example of a cost that could go in either the direct or indirect cost bucket. On one hand, the entire business (including the indirect functions of the business) consume power, so unless you’re splitting how much goes to direct production vs. indirect functions, it’s best left as an indirect cost. However, you might be able to do that attribution easily if arms of your business operate in different facilities or use different types of power.
How to Calculate Direct Costs
Direct Material Cost
This is the amount of materials that are needed to produce the item or complete the project. Add up all the materials that go into the production of a single unit.
Direct Labor Cost
This is the amount of labor that is required to produce a the item or complete the project. List all the employees that contribute directly to the production of a single unit. Then, determine how much time each of them is expected to put into producing a single unit. From there, you can use their salaries to determine the labor cost of a unit.
Use the list above to determine other expenses that might directly contribute to production.
You might choose measure direct cost on a monthly basis by taking the cost to produce a single unit and multiplying that figure with the number of units you intend to produce per month. Or you could analyze on a quarterly or yearly basis. Just be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples in terms of how you’re measuring material cost, labor cost, and other expenses in this regard. You don’t want to add a monthly figure with a quarterly figure, for example, because that will throw your calculations off.
By understanding your direct and indirect costs (overhead), you’re well on your way to creating a pricing structure and turning a profit. These are important components to your business plan as you determine how to operationalize and grow.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2019, but has been updated for comprehensiveness.
If digital and traditional marketers faced off in a debate about whose promotional philosophy is superior (which would probably get more heated than an NSYNC versus Backstreet Boys dispute), one of the points digital marketers could hang over traditional marketers’ heads is their ability to measure a campaign’s performance — and their opponent’s inability to do the same.
Whether its views, social shares, scroll depth, subscriptions, leads, and sometimes even ROI, digital marketers can measure it all. But even though we have access to a laundry list of metrics, we still can’t measure what is arguably the most crucial indicator of a campaign’s performance — emotional resonance.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing a spike in traffic as much as the next blogger. But in an industry where skimming a page for 10 seconds counts as a view, leaving your desk to grab some string cheese will result in a time-on-page of five minutes, and 50% of web traffic and engagement are generated by bots and Chinese click farms, claiming digital metrics are a surefire way to gauge your content’s emotional impact is a stretch.
But what if we could actually measure emotional resonance? What if we could place a resonance score next to a piece of content, just like we do with views?
Interestingly enough, there are companies spearheading this movement and developing technology that can gauge people’s emotional response to your content without needing to draw blood or scan any brains.
In 2017, Immersion Neuroscience developed the INBand, an armband that can measure your brain’s oxytocin levels by tracking the cadence of your Vagus — a nerve that controls your heartbeat.
Oxytocin is known as the empathy chemical. When it’s coursing through your brain, you relate to others more, care about them, and feel an urge to help them. And when your brain synthesizes the chemical while consuming marketing materials, it’s one of the best indicators of emotional engagement and, in turn, quality content.
In 2018, Immersion Neuroscience wanted to compare people’s oxytocin levels while they watched Superbowl ads to their self-reported preference of the same ads. So they hooked eight people up to the INBand and measured their neurochemical responses to 17 ads from the 2018 Superbowl. Then, they compared each ad’s immersion scores to their ranking on USA Today’s Ad Meter, which is ranked by the public.
What they found was quite shocking — their results were almost the complete opposite of USA Today’s Ad Meter rankings. In fact, the ad that generated the most emotional engagement in the study was ranked the least popular ad in USA Today’s Ad Meter.
Immersion Neuroscience’s findings suggest that knowing what the brain actually resonates with is much more important than knowing what people say they like, especially when you test ideas in focus groups — participants are prone to shielding their true opinions due to groupthink and the urge to please authority figures.
So to accurately gauge our content’s emotional resonance, and in turn, its ability to grab people’s attention, make them feel something, and compel them to act, we need to focus more on neuroscience and less on web metrics and in-person interviews.
Neuromarketing research commonly uses either brain-scanning technology or physiological measurements to assess consumers’ subconscious preferences and can help inform advertising, product development, or marketing materials.
This is typically done through brain scanning — either with fMRI or EEG technology — or physiological tracking, including eye movement measurements, facial coding, or measurements related to body temperature and heart rate.
fMRI and EEG technology have different strengths. For instance, Dr. Roeland Dietvorst, Scientific Director at Alpha, told the Neuromarketing Science and Business Association, “Normally we use EEG for the measurement of dynamic stimuli, like video, TV shows, commercials, online user experience. In such cases, it is interesting to see the brain responding moment-to-moment. We use fMRI mainly for static stimuli, like packaging design, campaign slogans, pay-offs, outdoor messaging.”
Measuring physiological tracking is typically much easier to do. There are tools available to the marketplace including FaceReader by Noldus, which measures facial expressions, or various eye tracking software.
However, even though leveraging neuroscience to inform your marketing strategy is an ideal and exciting opportunity, the tactic still seems more suited for a time where Black Mirror storylines are a reality.
In fact, one of the main questions people have is, “Is neuromarketing even ethical?”
Below, let’s dive into that question.
While the purpose of neuromarketing is to determine how consumers respond to brands or campaigns, a rather innocuous study, not everyone is convinced that it’s ethical.
The study, “Is Neuromarketing Ethical? Consumers Say Yes. Consumers Say No,” addresses ethical questions such as, “Will brands be able to influence buyer decisions too much?” and “Is neuromarketing manipulative?”
In and of itself, neuromarketing isn’t unethical. However, it’s important that companies hold themselves to a high standard of ethics when studying their consumers.
For instance, brands shouldn’t intentionally promote anything that’s harmful, deceptive, or illegal. Additionally, you shouldn’t study minors to figure out how to hook them on a product.
Neuromarketing should be used to create effective ads and eliminate ads that just don’t work, and that’s all.
The main ethical questioning has more to do with your product or service, and less to do with how you market it. If you’re ever in doubt, ask yourself if the product or service is good for the customer.
In actuality, neuromarketing has already permeated into the content space. Netflix, Hulu, and some television networks use neurotrackers to predict how successful their shows will be — at an 84% rate of accuracy — and this methodology could soon seep into the marketing industry.
To help you envision a world where neuromarketing is widespread, here are five practical ways brands can nail their marketing with the help of neuroscience.
1. Brands can tell more compelling stories.
When Shane Snow, an author, journalist, and co-founder of Contently, first tried out the INBand to see what the neuromarketing fuss was all about, the CEO of Immersion Neuroscience, Dr. Paul Zak, played this advertisement for him:
After Shane finished watching the ad, he started tearing up. But as he wiped away his tears before Dr. Zak could see them, he realized it was a lost cause — the INBand had already revealed that the ad made him cry.
At each point of the ad where the father gets rejected, the corresponding points on the graph show that Shane experienced bursts of emotion because he developed empathy for him. And at the end of the ad, you’ll notice a corresponding spike in emotion on the graph that shows exactly where he cried. The ad’s emotional effects even bled over to Shane’s reality, making him feel empathetic toward the father after the ad ended, which is evidenced by the last spike’s gradual fade.
Shane’s emotional response to this ad suggests that telling great stories, chock-full of conflict, surprise, and emotion, is one of the best ways to trigger the release of oxytocin, helping you emotionally engage your audience and, ultimately, make them care about your brand.
In a nutshell, great stories are about the journey of overcoming adversity and how that journey changes people. “Little Moments,” tells the story of a father who so desperately wants to connect with his teenage daughter but ultimately can’t make it happen. And at the end of the ad, her constant rejection clearly weighs on him, prompting him to lay down on her bed. But that’s when he sees all the photos they’ve taken together over the years taped above her bed, making him realize that she’s always had a connection with him — he just didn’t know it.
2. Businesses can save millions of dollars on ads.
In the same study of 2018 Superbowl ads mentioned above, Immersion Neuroscience discovered that M&Ms’ “Human” was the second most immersive ad on their list.
As you can probably predict, “Human” generated the most emotional engagement when the truck plows Danny DeVito into the basket of produce. But a few seconds after this shocking and hilarious climax, Immersion Neuroscience discovered that emotional engagement plummeted, suggesting M&Ms could’ve shaved off the last 10 seconds of this ad — and saved over $1.5 million.
3. Companies can host more engaging conferences.
At a major global conference in Houston last year, Immersion Neuroscience put INBands on attendees and measured their immersion during certain presentations. They discovered that concise, energetic talks generated the most emotional engagement.
On the other hand, longer talks need to revolve around a strong narrative or else they can’t hold an audience’s attention. Additionally, they realized the brain responds well to multimedia-heavy presentations due to the high variety of stimulus.
Based on these findings, Immersion Neuroscience believes tracking attendees’ emotional engagement during presentations can help companies refine their conferences by cutting out boring talks and even providing attendees with relevant presentation recommendations.
4. Brands can design more effective ads.
The main goal of neuromarketing is to gain insight into what would make an ad more effective. That’s exactly what Roger Dooley did in a study using an ad for baby products.
To figure out if an ad was effective, Dooley used a heat map to see where viewers were looking. Are they reading the text? Just looking at pictures?
In the ad below, the baby is looking straight out of the page. Unsurprisingly, viewers love the image of the baby. Most people give the image of the baby more attention than the headline and copy.
However, when you have the baby “look” at the headline and copy, viewers started to give the copy more attention. That’s because people will look at the same thing the models are looking at. So, with the image above, where the baby was looking right at us, you weren’t directed to look at anything else, so you probably stopped looking around.
Ultimately, this neuromarketing study helped create a more effective ad. In your future ads, try to make sure your models are looking at what you want the viewer to see.
5. Brands can sell more by using FOMO.
The fear of missing out, otherwise known as loss aversion, is a widely used tactic in marketing and sales.
In fact, in a study, 62% of consumers were more likely to gamble their money than to lose their money.
Here’s the scenario consumers were given:
If you were given $50, would you rather:
- Keep $30.
- Gamble, with a 50/50 chance of keeping or losing the whole $50.
When an experimenter posed that question to subjects, 43% of the subjects chose to gamble. Then the options were changed to:
- Lose $20.
- Gamble, with a 50/50 chance of keeping or losing the whole $50.
With that slight change, there was a 44% jump in the number of people who gambled.
In fact, when more studies were done like this, 100% of subjects gambled more when the other choice was framed as a loss.
The neuromarketing takeaway is that framing will have a large impact on peoples behavior. And people are loss averse.
You can implement this method by changing the language on your ads. If you can pose the outcome of not buying your product or service as a loss, then you can sell more.
6. Brands can ensure their packaging is effective.
Brands might consider using neuromarketing to measure viewers’ emotional reactions to different packaging designs and determine which packaging option evokes the highest level of position emotion and engagement.
As we’ll discuss more in the section below, Frito-Lay did exactly that after using neuromarketing to determine which type of packaging appealed most to women. The company came to the conclusion that packaging with healthy ingredients on the front evoked a better reaction from women, and as a result, re-designed packaging to show images of dressing or spices to highlight the natural ingredients in Frito-Lay’s snacks.
7. Businesses can determine the right price for a product or service.
Pricing is all about psychology.
For instance, University of Florida marketing professors Chris Janiszewski and Dan Uy wanted to evaluate whether consumers’ will truly evaluate a product as more fairly priced if its $19.95 rather than an even $20. They conducted a range of experiments and found people “create mental measuring sticks that run in increments away from any opening bid, and the size of the increments depends on the opening bid.”
Or, put another way: If you see a product priced $19.95 you might wish it was $19.75 or $19.50, but you’ll be thinking in terms of nickels and dimes. However, if you see a product priced to the nearest full dollar — such as an even $20 — you instead might wish it was priced at $19 or $18, moving the range further away from the actual price.
Similarly, you might consider evaluating consumers’ perception of price using neuromarketing. If you ask a focus group whether they believe your product is priced fairly, they might be wary to admit the truth based on groupthink. Neuromarketing, then, can be a useful measurement of consumers’ subconscious reactions to certain prices.
8. Brand’s can evaluate website performance.
In the Roger Dooley ad described above, Dooley used a heat map to determine the most effective version of an ad.
The same can be true for your entire website. Consider using eye movement measurement technology or other heat mapping software to track which areas of your website are most engaging to viewers, and which areas or pages are least effective.
You might consider using neuromarketing to measure reactions to website layout, color scheme, text, or even font size.
Companies that Use Neuromarketing
It’s important to note — some of these brands tested out neuromarketing years ago, ranging as far back as 2009. However, neuroscience is slow to progress, so there are still helpful and relevant lessons we can learn from each of these examples.
Microsoft wanted to test the effectiveness of its campaigns on the Xbox platform — and, more specifically, how Microsoft’s 30-second and 60-second TV ads performed compared to in-game ad runs on Xbox.
To conduct this research, Microsoft worked with neuromarketing companies Mediabrands and EmSense, and fitted test subjects with a headband that could track brain activity, breathing rate, head motion, heart rate, blink rate, and skin temperature. The company then showed three types of ads to test subjects – a 30-second Kia Soul TV ad, a 60-second Kia Soul TV ad, and a Kia Soul in-game ad.
The results? The TV ads caused the most brain activity in the first half of the ad. The Xbox Live ads, on the other hand, caused peak brain activity at the repeat image of the Kia Soul car, which suggests viewers will remember the ad better on Xbox.
These results were supported by more traditional metrics — for instance, the Xbox live ad delivered a 90% unaided brand recall rate, compared to 78% with the traditional TV spot.
Frito-Lay worked with Juniper Park, an advertising agency, in 2009 to develop a campaign that would appeal more to women. To do so, Juniper Park used neuromarketing to study women’s brains, and found the hippocampus — a memory and emotional center — is larger in women, suggesting women may look more for ad characters with whom they can empathize.
Juniper Park’s research also found women may have a stronger link between decision-making and feelings of guilt. Once Juniper Park explored this research with NeuroFocus, they began testing various ads to investigate how women responded.
Ultimately, the ad agency recognized women may often feel guilty, particularly when it comes to eating habits. As a result, Frito-Lay shouldn’t try to get rid of this guilt — instead, the brand should highlight its healthy ingredients in its snacks, and showcase spices or dressing on the packaging to demonstrate the health quality to avoid the guilt-factor entirely.
3. The Shelter Pet Project
Nielson Consumer Neuroscience worked with the Ad Council and The Shelter Pet Project to evaluate consumers’ non-conscious response to the “Meet A Shelter Pet” ad. The team used EEG and eye-tracking measurements to A/B test the impact of the Shelter’s ads.
The results demonstrated that faces — including a dog’s — on-screen boosted viewers’ emotional engagement, and when the dog was off-screen the attention dropped. To mitigate these issues and capture higher viewership and engagement, the team shortened the dog’s off-screen time and cleaned up the ending.
The Shelter Pet project saw 133% increase in website visits and a 28% increase in pet finder database searches as a result of neuromarketing.
4. German Financial Institution
In 2017, a German financial institution worked with Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience to figure out which version of their ad garnered the most trust. To do this, the team used EEG measurements to assess how emotionally engaged viewers’ felt when watching two versions of an ad.
The only difference? One ad played classical music, while the other played more modern notes.
The participants were then asked to perform a task to assess how well the ad had communicated messages on a subconscious level. The results demonstrated the traditional music outperformed the more modern version, and evoked a sense of “trust” in viewers. It’s likely that classical instruments are associated with a sense of stability, versus modern music which evokes a sense of excitement and risk.
Even though we live in an age of data overload, where you can measure almost anything, Google Analytics will never be able to accurately gauge the most important element of your marketing campaign — its ability to make your audience feel something.
Fortunately, the neuromarketing space is rapidly evolving, and its technology is becoming more affordable and practical for marketers today, hopefully leading to its mainstream use tomorrow.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Measuring the effectiveness of digital marketing is one of the greatest challenges facing organizations today.
The trouble is, when most marketers hear “digital analytics,” they tend to think of the metrics you’d typically associate with a simple web analytics tool like Google Analytics — traffic, bounce rate, unique visitors, etc.
However, web analytics is only part of what encompasses digital analytics.
While web analytics can provide you with a wealth of insight into the performance of your website, marketers need richer data to understand the impact of their marketing campaigns on conversion rates and a buyer’s journey. Looking at top-level web analytics metrics like traffic is only the first piece of the puzzle.
Enter: digital marketing analytics, which offers a much more comprehensive view of what’s working (and what isn’t) when it comes to your marketing strategy.
Regardless of how you fit into your company’s marketing mix, learning how to understand and leverage digital marketing analytics is incredibly important. Analytics data not only tells you if your marketing is working, but it also tells you precisely how and where you can improve. This type of insight can benefit everyone.
That’s why we built this guide. We want you to master marketing analytics so your business can grow better. Below, we’ll talk about what marketing metrics to monitor, how to read and apply them to your marketing decisions, and how to leverage them to grow your business and bottom line.
Bookmark this guide for future reference and use the chapter links below to navigate through the content.
Digital marketing analytics also give the creative, fluid side of marketing a data-driven foundation on which businesses can build a profitable, scalable marketing strategy. Analytics draw the line between opinion and fact.
Before we dive into how to use digital analytics for your business, let’s talk about what marketing metrics you’ll be measuring and analyzing.
Digital Marketing Metrics to Know
Digital marketing metrics are statistical measures that marketers use to determine the success of various marketing efforts as they relate to their overall campaign goals and industry standards.
You’ve heard of vanity metrics, yes? Vanity metrics are the surface level numbers that often tease you into thinking your efforts are working.
Unfortunately, to get a clear picture of your campaign’s impact, you need to look at a wider variety of actionable metrics. We’ll be covering both in this section.
Here’s a comprehensive list of all the marketing metrics you need to know — and what they can tell you.
Digital Metrics for Websites
The following are digital marketing metrics associated with websites and web activity — a.k.a. web analytics.
A Visitor (or User) is someone who visits your site. Visitors are tracked by a cookie placed in their browser by a tracking code installed on your site.
A Page View is when a page on your site is loaded by a browser. A page view is measured every time your tracking code is loaded.
A Session is a series of activities taken by a visitor on your website, including page views, CTAs, and events. Sessions expire after 30 minutes of visitor inactivity.
Traffic (or Visits) is the total number of site or page visits in a given time period
Traffic by Channel
Traffic by Channel is the total number of site or page visits per referral channel, e.g. social media, email, landing pages, etc.
Traffic by Device
Traffic by Device is the total number of site or page visits per device type, e.g. smartphone, tablet, desktop, etc.
Ratio of New Traffic to Returning Traffic
The Ratio of New Traffic to Returning Traffic is the percentage of net new site or page visitors you receive as compared to the total amount of returning traffic
Time on Page
The Time on Page is the average time each visitor spends on your site or page
Interactions per Visit
Interactions per Visit are what actions your visitors took did when on your site or page
The Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who visited your site or page but didn’t take any action or look at any other pages as compared to the total number of page or site visitors
Digital Metrics for Lead Magnets
The following are digital marketing metrics associated with lead magnets and content offers.
Call-to-Action (CTA) Click-Through Rate
The CTA Click-Through Rate is the percentage of total clicks on a CTA as compared to the total number of page or site visits
Submissions is the percentage of total people who filled out and submitted your web form
The Conversion Rate is the total number of actions taken (e.g. a download, sign-up, etc.) on your lead magnet as compared to the total number of visits
Free Trial Conversion Rate
The Free Trial Conversion Rate is the percentage of free trial users who converted to customers
Pop-Up Conversions is the percentage of total pop-up form completions who converted to customers
Ratio of Generated Leads to Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQL)
The Ratio of Generated Leads to MQL is the total number of “good fit” leads collected from your lead magnet as compared to the total number of leads generated
Leads to Close Ratio
The Leads to Close Ratio is percentage of leads converted to customers as compared to the total number of leads
Digital Metrics for Email Marketing
The following are digital marketing metrics associated with email marketing.
The Open Rate is percentage of opened emails as a proportion of the total number of emails sent
Opens by Device
Opens by Device is the total number of email opens per device type, e.g. smartphone, tablet, desktop, etc.
The Click-Through Rate is the percentage of total clicks on an email link, or CTA, as a proportion of the total number of email opens
The Bounce Rate is the percentage of undeliverable emails as a proportion of the total number of emails sent
The Unsubscribe Rate is the percentage of people who unsubscribe from your email list over a given period of time
Digital Metrics for Content and Social Media
The following are digital marketing metrics associated with content and social media.
The Engagement Rate is the total number of engagements (e.g. comments, clicks, likes, etc.) as a proportion of the total number page or post views
Follows and Subscribes
Follows and Subscribes is the total number of people who’ve shown interest in your content and want to receive updates when new posts or pages are published
Shares is the total number of times a post or page has been shared on social media, a website, or a blog
Digital Metrics for Product and E-Commerce
The following are digital marketing metrics associated with e-commerce.
Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
The Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate is the total number of online shoppers who put items in their shopping cart but don’t complete a purchase as a proportion of the number of people who complete a purchase
Tip: We’ve found that you can
improve your e-commerce conversion rates by changing your shipping options.
This section serves as a high-level review of the most important marketing metrics per channel. Depending on what software you use or marketing channels you pursue, you may see different metrics.
So, why exactly do digital marketing analytics matter? Let’s take a look at what makes digital analytics so important today, and how they compare to (and improve on) the insights offered by more basic web analytics.
Digital Marketing Analytics vs. Web Analytics
Quite simply, web analytics (like many of the metrics we defined above) just isn’t enough. The data that web analytics provides alone doesn’t cut it for marketers who need to understand how their work makes an impact throughout the entire marketing and sales flywheel.
Let’s face it: Today’s marketing extends well beyond the bounds of your website. It also includes how your marketing channels interact, the insight you gain from those outcomes, and the progress you track through your reporting.
This perspective provides the foundational data you need to structure your flywheel — delighting your existing customers enough to attract and engage new ones.
Web analytics measure things a webmaster or technical SEO specialist cares about, like page load speed, page views per visit, and time on site. Digital marketing analytics, on the other hand, measure business metrics like traffic, leads, and sales, and allows you to observe which online events determine whether leads will become customers.
Digital marketing analytics include data not only from your website, but also from sources like email, social media, and organic search.
How Digital Marketing Analytics Connects Every Business Activity
With digital marketing analytics, marketers can understand the effectiveness of their entire marketing strategy, not just the effectiveness of their website. Using digital marketing analytics allows marketers to identify how each of their marketing initiatives (e.g., social media vs. blogging vs. email marketing, etc.) stack up against one another, determine the true ROI of their activities, and understand how well they’re achieving their business goals.
The central question is: How can you structure an appropriate business goal to visualize your marketing team’s efforts in the most accurate way possible?
As a result of the information they can gather from full-stack digital marketing analytics, marketers can also diagnose deficiencies in specific channels in their marketing mix, and make adjustments to strategies and tactics to improve their overall marketing activity.
You can spend hours and hours slicing and dicing data in web analytics tools, comparing new vs. repeat visitors month over month. But when it comes down to it, you’ll come up short of a truly comprehensive view of your marketing performance.
There’s no doubt that marketers are aware there’s a deficiency in how they’re able to measure the effectiveness of what they do; here’s how full-stack digital marketing analytics makes up for that deficiency.
A digital marketing analysis is the first step to developing a strong digital marketing analytics strategy. This process can be used to structure a business goal into outcomes based on three broad categories:
- The relationship between different marketing channels
- People-centric data on the buyer’s journey
- Revenue attributed to specific marketing efforts
Let’s highlight these main differentiators.
1. The Relationship Between Marketing Channels
Digital marketing analytics provides a good, solid look into the direct relationships between your marketing channels. It’s great to be able to see how each of your individual channels (e.g., social media, blogging, email marketing, SEO, etc.) are performing, but the true power of analytics comes into play when you can easily tie the effect of multiple channels’ performances together.
For instance, let’s say you sent an email to a segment of your database. Digital marketing analytics not only tells you how many people clicked through from your email to your website but also how many of those people actually converted into leads for your business when they got there.
Furthermore, you can compare the impact of that individual email send with other marketing initiatives. Did that email generate more leads than the blog post you published yesterday? Or was the content you shared via Twitter more effective?
2. People-Centric Data on the Buyer’s Journey
As we mentioned earlier, a key differentiator between web analytics and digital marketing analytics is that the latter uses the person — not the page view — as the focal point.
Digital marketing analytics enables you to track how your individual prospects and leads are interacting with your various marketing initiatives and channels over time. How did an individual lead first come to find your website? From Google? Facebook? Direct traffic? Is that lead an active part of your email subscriber base, clicking and converting on marketing offers presented via email? Do they read your blog, and have they downloaded any content offers that could indicate an interest in your products/services?
Full-stack digital marketing analytics can tell you all of this and more, providing you with extremely valuable lead intelligence that can help inform the direction of your future campaigns.
Looking at all of this information in aggregate can help you understand trends among your prospects and leads and which marketing activities are valuable at different stages in the buyer’s journey.
Perhaps you find that many customers’ last point of conversion was on a certain ebook or white paper. Having this data makes it possible to implement an effective lead management process, enabling you to score and prioritize your leads and identify which activities contribute to a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) for your business.
3. Revenue Attributed to Specific Marketing Efforts
One of the most useful functions of marketing analytics is its ability to attribute specific marketing activities to sales revenue. Sure, your blog may be effective in generating leads, but are those leads actually turning into customers and making your business money? Closed-loop marketing analytics can tell you.
The only requirement here is that your digital marketing analytics system is hooked up to your customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
Having this closed-loop data can help you determine whether your individual marketing initiatives are actually contributing to your business’ bottom line. Through it, you can determine which channels are most critical for driving sales.
Perhaps you find that your blog is your most effective channel for generating customers, or conversely, you find that social media is really only powerful as an engagement mechanism, not a source of sales.
By measuring the relationship between marketing channels, tracking people-centric data, and analyzing what revenue is linked to which efforts, you’ll be equipped to set goals that support your bottom line.
Now, let’s talk about how to use these marketing analytics effectively.
How to Use Digital Marketing Analytics Effectively
Most marketers know they need to be looking at more than just traffic and website performance to get the insights we’ve talked about so far. But why do so many of us still struggle to measure the impact and prove the ROI of our online marketing activities?
- We don’t have solid goals in place for our campaigns, or
- We don’t have the means to measure our success.
Quite often, you’ll find it’s a combination of the two.
One way to mitigate this is to have an actionable business goal combining your marketing team’s priorities. Typically, this can be achieved using the S.M.A.R.T. format. In this strategy, each goal you create must be:
A good business goal will inherently organize your team’s tasks towards producing specific outcomes or metrics to measure their progress. For marketing teams, this can be broadly summarized into three major categories:
- Web traffic and diversity of sources
- Conversions generated from traffic to produce leads and (eventually) customers
- Identifying net new revenue as a direct result of certain marketing efforts, laying a roadmap for further growth and cost-effective marketing investments
The fact is, in order to gain the insights needed to understand their marketing performance and make sound decisions, most marketers balance a number of different digital analytics platforms. (Remember how many categories of marketing metrics we reviewed above?)
For example, they gather data about their email marketing through the analytics provided by their email service provider, information about their social media performance through their social media monitoring tool, blog analytics from their blogging platform … and the list goes on.
But this fragmented approach to reporting makes it really difficult to connect the dots and make informed decisions about the future of your digital strategy.
The ideal solution is to implement an all-in-one marketing and reporting platform that offers end-to-end visibility on your marketing activities, allowing you to measure everything in one place.
Rather than just looking at canned reports for each traffic source you can use custom reporting capabilities to construct data charts that depict an entire marketing campaign’s progress, not just how certain content is doing through certain channels.
Here’s how you can configure your digital analytics to capture this holistic view, showing you where a potential buyer came and where they are going. We’ll use HubSpot’s Marketing Hub as an example. Here are some of the types of analytics you can see in a quality marketing tool:.
Web Traffic by Original Source
This is an easy report that you can configure by date range and/or original source to show what marketing channels you can capitalize on to turn more of that traffic into leads and customers. You can use HubSpot’s Traffic Analytics tool to get access to this.
First Conversion by Original Source/Persona
This report quantifies your impact by the number of new contacts you’re able to create based on the first content offer or form submitted, and tie that back to the original source of that lead.
Another way to look at this is to segment your contacts by a particular persona to show which ones are giving the most return for which your team is creating content.
Contacts Funnel Report
This calculates the conversion rates down the marketing and sales funnel, showing new leads that become marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, and, ultimately, new customers.
Marketing Contribution to Revenue
This custom report depends on your use of the marketing qualified lead lifecycle stages, visualizing those that converted into customers and their relative value in terms of revenue generated.
Customer Acquisition Cost
These closed-loop reports are just some of the capabilities available to depict your progress towards your business’s bottom line.
All of the insights, information, and data you can gather from your digital marketing analytics tool(s) is really only useful if you do something with it. The true value of analytics isn’t just to prove the value of marketing to your boss; it’s also to help you improve and optimize your marketing performance — on both an individual channel-by-channel basis as well as an overall, cross-channel machine.
With digital marketing analytics, you should also be able to implement closed-loop reporting, making it easier to prove how your marketing efforts are positively impacting your sales team, who are being fed much higher quality leads.
Digital Advertising Analytics
Digital advertising is an important part of any digital marketing strategy. Nearly one quarter of marketers spend the same amount of their marketing budget on advertising (25%).
Traditionally, the effectiveness of digital advertising (e.g. paid search and social media ads) has been measured by click-throughs and the cost of each click (CPC). While these are powerful metrics, you can’t truly know the cost of each click unless you’re measuring the value of your conversions and ROI of your campaigns.
One way to measure this is by putting a full-stack marketing solution in place to join your impression, click, and cost data from all active digital advertising channels to your CRM. Doing so will help you link the cost of each click-through to the value it provides your business.
Moreover, digital display advertising should be considered powerful tools for brand awareness — not measured by click-throughs (or the lack thereof). These types of digital ads can boost organic and cross-channel performance as consumers see your ad, become interested in your brand, and search for your website or social media.
Apply this new perspective on digital advertising analytics and watch how it transforms your overall digital marketing strategy.
Grow Better with Digital Marketing Analytics
The most important takeaway from this article is: If you’re relying solely on top-level web analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of powerful data that can help inform your marketing strategy and better connect with your audience and customers. So, when evaluating digital analytics tools for your business, be sure you’re looking for evidence of digital marketing analytics, not just web analytics.
While web analytics provide a rosy picture of your top-line activity, digital marketing analytics can help you turn your business objectives into measurable outcomes that support your bottom line. Prioritize the data that reflects people — not page views — and you’ll be growing better in no time.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Do you remember your first A/B test you ran? I do. (Nerdy, I know.)
I felt simultaneously thrilled and terrified because I knew I had to actually use some of what I learned in college for my job.
There were some aspects of A/B testing I still remembered — for instance, I knew you need a big enough sample size to run the test on, and you need to run the test long enough to get statistically significant results.
But … that’s pretty much it. I wasn’t sure how big was “big enough” for sample sizes and how long was “long enough” for test durations — and Googling it gave me a variety of answers my college statistics courses definitely didn’t prepare me for.
Turns out I wasn’t alone: Those are two of the most common A/B testing questions we get from customers. And the reason the typical answers from a Google search aren’t that helpful is because they’re talking about A/B testing in an ideal, theoretical, non-marketing world.
So, I figured I’d do the research to help answer this question for you in a practical way. At the end of this post, you should be able to know how to determine the right sample size and time frame for your next A/B test. Let’s dive in.
A/B Testing Sample Size & Time Frame
In theory, to determine a winner between Variation A and Variation B, you need to wait until you have enough results to see if there is a statistically significant difference between the two.
Depending on your company, sample size, and how you execute the A/B test, getting statistically significant results could happen in hours or days or weeks — and you’ve just got to stick it out until you get those results. In theory, you should not restrict the time in which you’re gathering results.
For many A/B tests, waiting is no problem. Testing headline copy on a landing page? It’s cool to wait a month for results. Same goes with blog CTA creative — you’d be going for the long-term lead generation play, anyway.
But certain aspects of marketing demand shorter timelines when it comes to A/B testing. Take email as an example. With email, waiting for an A/B test to conclude can be a problem, for several practical reasons:
1. Each email send has a finite audience.
Unlike a landing page (where you can continue to gather new audience members over time), once you send an email A/B test off, that’s it — you can’t “add” more people to that A/B test. So you’ve got to figure out how squeeze the most juice out of your emails.
This will usually require you to send an A/B test to the smallest portion of your list needed to get statistically significant results, pick a winner, and then send the winning variation on to the rest of the list.
2. Running an email marketing program means you’re juggling at least a few email sends per week. (In reality, probably way more than that.)
If you spend too much time collecting results, you could miss out on sending your next email — which could have worse effects than if you sent a non-statistically-significant winner email on to one segment of your database.
3. Email sends are often designed to be timely.
Your marketing emails are optimized to deliver at a certain time of day, whether your emails are supporting the timing of a new campaign launch and/or landing in your recipient’s inboxes at a time they’d love to receive it. So if you wait for your email to be fully statistically significant, you might miss out on being timely and relevant — which could defeat the purpose of your email send in the first place.
That’s why email A/B testing programs have a “timing” setting built in: At the end of that time frame, if neither result is statistically significant, one variation (which you choose ahead of time) will be sent to the rest of your list. That way, you can still run A/B tests in email, but you can also work around your email marketing scheduling demands and ensure people are always getting timely content.
So to run A/B tests in email while still optimizing your sends for the best results, you’ve got to take both sample size and timing into account.
Next up — how to actually figure out your sample size and timing using data.
How to Determine Sample Size for an A/B Test
Now, let’s dive into how to actually calculate the sample size and timing you need for your next A/B test.
For our purposes, we’re going to use email as our example to demonstrate how you’ll determine sample size and timing for an A/B test. However, it’s important to note — the steps in this list can be used for any A/B test, not just email.
Let’s dive in.
Like mentioned above, each A/B test you send can only be sent to a finite audience — so you need to figure out how to maximize the results from that A/B test. To do that, you need to figure out the smallest portion of your total list needed to get statistically significant results. Here’s how you calculate it.
1. Assess whether you have enough contacts in your list to A/B test a sample in the first place.
To A/B test a sample of your list, you need to have a decently large list size — at least 1,000 contacts. If you have fewer than that in your list, the proportion of your list that you need to A/B test to get statistically significant results gets larger and larger.
For example, to get statistically significant results from a small list, you might have to test 85% or 95% of your list. And the results of the people on your list who haven’t been tested yet will be so small that you might as well have just sent half of your list one email version, and the other half another, and then measured the difference.
Your results might not be statistically significant at the end of it all, but at least you’re gathering learnings while you grow your lists to have more than 1,000 contacts. (If you want more tips on growing your email list so you can hit that 1,000 contact threshold, check out this blog post.)
Note for HubSpot customers: 1,000 contacts is also our benchmark for running A/B tests on samples of email sends — if you have fewer than 1,000 contacts in your selected list, the A version of your test will automatically be sent to half of your list and the B will be sent to the other half.
2. Use a sample size calculator.
Next, you’ll want to find a sample size calculator — SurveySystem.com offers a good, free sample size calculator.
Here’s what it looks like when you open it up:
3. Put in your email’s Confidence Level, Confidence Interval, and Population into the tool.
Yep, that’s a lot of statistics jargon. Here’s what these terms translate to in your email:
Population: Your sample represents a larger group of people. This larger group is called your population.
In email, your population is the typical number of people in your list who get emails delivered to them — not the number of people you sent emails to. To calculate population, I’d look at the past three to five emails you’ve sent to this list, and average the total number of delivered emails. (Use the average when calculating sample size, as the total number of delivered emails will fluctuate.)
Confidence Interval: You might have heard this called “margin of error.” Lots of surveys use this, including political polls. This is the range of results you can expect this A/B test to explain once it’s run with the full population.
For example, in your emails, if you have an interval of 5, and 60% of your sample opens your Variation, you can be sure that between 55% (60 minus 5) and 65% (60 plus 5) would have also opened that email. The bigger the interval you choose, the more certain you can be that the populations true actions have been accounted for in that interval. At the same time, large intervals will give you less definitive results. It’s a trade-off you’ll have to make in your emails.
For our purposes, it’s not worth getting too caught up in confidence intervals. When you’re just getting started with A/B tests, I’d recommend choosing a smaller interval (ex: around 5).
Confidence Level: This tells you how sure you can be that your sample results lie within the above confidence interval. The lower the percentage, the less sure you can be about the results. The higher the percentage, the more people you’ll need in your sample, too.
Note for HubSpot customers: The HubSpot Email A/B tool automatically uses the 85% confidence level to determine a winner. Since that option isn’t available in this tool, I’d suggest choosing 95%.
Email A/B Test Example:
Let’s pretend we’re sending our first A/B test. Our list has 1,000 people in it and has a 95% deliverability rate. We want to be 95% confident our winning email metrics fall within a 5-point interval of our population metrics.
Here’s what we’d put in the tool:
- Population: 950
- Confidence Level: 95%
- Confidence Interval: 5
4. Click “Calculate” and your sample size will spit out.
Ta-da! The calculator will spit out your sample size.
In our example, our sample size is: 274.
This is the size one your variations needs to be. So for your email send, if you have one control and one variation, you’ll need to double this number. If you had a control and two variations, you’d triple it. (And so on.)
5. Depending on your email program, you may need to calculate the sample size’s percentage of the whole email.
HubSpot customers, I’m looking at you for this section. When you’re running an email A/B test, you’ll need to select the percentage of contacts to send the list to — not just the raw sample size.
To do that, you need to divide the number in your sample by the total number of contacts in your list. Here’s what that math looks like, using the example numbers above:
274 / 1,000 = 27.4%
This means that each sample (both your control AND your variation) needs to be sent to 27-28% of your audience — in other words, roughly a total of 55% of your total list.
And that’s it! You should be ready to select your sending time.
How to Choose the Right Timeframe for Your A/B Test
Again, for figuring out the right timeframe for your A/B test, we’ll use the example of email sends – but this information should still apply regardless of the type of A/B test you’re conducting.
However, your timeframe will vary depending on your business’ goals, as well. If you’d like to design a new landing page by Q2 2021 and it’s Q4 2020, you’ll likely want to finish your A/B test by January or February so you can use those results to build the winning page.
But, for our purposes, let’s return to the email send example: You have to figure out how long to run your email A/B test before sending a (winning) version on to the rest of your list.
Figuring out the timing aspect is a little less statistically driven, but you should definitely use past data to help you make better decisions. Here’s how you can do that.
If you don’t have timing restrictions on when to send the winning email to the rest of the list, head over to your analytics.
Figure out when your email opens/clicks (or whatever your success metrics are) starts to drop off. Look your past email sends to figure this out.
For example, what percentage of total clicks did you get in your first day? If you found that you get 70% of your clicks in the first 24 hours, and then 5% each day after that, it’d make sense to cap your email A/B testing timing window for 24 hours because it wouldn’t be worth delaying your results just to gather a little bit of extra data.
In this scenario, you would probably want to keep your timing window to 24 hours, and at the end of 24 hours, your email program should let you know if they can determine a statistically significant winner.
Then, it’s up to you what to do next. If you have a large enough sample size and found a statistically significant winner at the end of the testing time frame, many email marketing programs will automatically and immediately send the winning variation.
If you have a large enough sample size and there’s no statistically significant winner at the end of the testing time frame, email marketing tools might also allow you to automatically send a variation of your choice.
If you have a smaller sample size or are running a 50/50 A/B test, when to send the next email based on the initial email’s results is entirely up to you.
If you have time restrictions on when to send the winning email to the rest of the list, figure out how late you can send the winner without it being untimely or affecting other email sends.
For example, if you’ve sent an email out at 3 p.m. EST for a flash sale that ends at midnight EST, you wouldn’t want to determine an A/B test winner at 11 p.m. Instead, you’d want to send the email closer to 6 or 7 p.m. — that’ll give the people not involved in the A/B test enough time to act on your email.
And that’s pretty much it, folks. After doing these calculations and examining your data, you should be in a much better state to conduct successful A/B tests — ones that are statistically valid and help you move the needle on your goals.
HubSpot was founded during a time when people were under constant attack from aggressive outbound marketing tactics.
I’m sure nobody misses the unwanted ads, spam emails, and cold calls that used to interrupt their day back in the mid-00s.
Ad retargeting wasn’t a thing, so we all had to settle for repeatedly seeing the same ads for products we had absolutely no interest in.
Marketing has changed a lot since then. Thankfully.
Nowadays, companies have the ability to develop engaging advertising campaigns that complement their inbound strategies and speak directly to their audiences’ needs. The concept of journey-based advertising has been widely adopted and marketers can now create customized content for individuals at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Targeting has become more sophisticated, meaning that ads are now less interruptive and more informative — so sophisticated, in fact, that that we now take for granted the quality of the ads we get served in our Instagram feeds and YouTube videos.
Dare we say it — in some cases, the ad suggestions are actually really useful: “Oh, hey ad for that new running watch that I didn’t know I needed but now am obsessed with.” There is still a lot of bad advertising and mediocre marketing out there, but it’s important to recognize just how far we’ve come.
But, as advertising capabilities have evolved, so too has the digital landscape. And that has created a host of new challenges for marketers.
Cutting Through the Noise
There’s more choice online now than ever before, and what was previously helpful has, in many cases, become noise. Where we were once served two ads a day for a new jacket, we’re now served 22. Where there was once three restaurants in the local area offering takeaway menus, there’s now 30.
In 2020, this trend has accelerated due to COVID-19, as more and more businesses have moved online and added to the ever-increasing competition for attention. This increased volume of noise is causing consumers to tune out, and customer acquisition costs to go up. And marketers are struggling to make an impact.
To overcome these new challenges, marketers need a new approach — one that allows them to adapt the way they advertise to how consumers like to buy.
Today, the buyer’s journey is rarely linear. Consumers now interact with brands on laptops and smartphones and via social media, websites, and third-party influencers on the path to a purchase. And they still expect a consistent brand experience throughout.
Nowadays, the only way advertisers can break through the noise online and deliver a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints is with extreme relevance: both in terms of content and location.
Relevant messaging is the key to grabbing consumers’ attention, engaging them, and guiding them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. The first step towards delivering this is meeting the audience where they are. With over four billion people worldwide now working from home, consumers’ purchasing behavior and content consumption habits are changing rapidly.
In the U.S., staying home has led to a 60% increase in the amount of content consumed — Americans are now watching roughly 12 hours of media content a day, according to Nielsen data. Knowing where an audience is paying attention is as important as knowing what messaging is likely to resonate.
Once a marketer understands where their target audience is spending their time, the next challenge is to create ad content that addresses their needs in an engaging way and is tailored to whichever stage of the buyer’s journey they are at.
For example, if a prospect is at the attract stage, an ad that helps them become more familiar with a brand name and core value proposition would probably perform much better than a niche ad that highlights a specific new feature. That type of ad would likely work better with audiences that are much closer to a purchase decision and comparing the feature sets of different products.
However, most companies today are struggling to deliver the type of relevant, engaging ad content that resonates with consumers. And, in most cases, the cause can be traced back to a disconnection between their marketing, website, and sales efforts.
When these elements aren’t working in unison, it becomes extremely difficult for marketers to get a clear view of where prospects are spending their time and which stage the buyer’s journey they are at. This makes it virtually impossible for them to deliver relevant messaging and leaves them with little choice but to resort to those dated outbound tactics I mentioned earlier.
In 2021, the secret to delivering better advertising lies in marketers’ ability to unlock the data at their disposal and leverage it to deliver hyper-relevant messaging and a unified buying experience.
At HubSpot, we call it ‘CRM-powered advertising.’
A Data-Driven Approach to Advertising
CRM-powered advertising enables marketers to create more relevant, engaging ads for prospects in three key ways:
- By providing them with up-to-date customer data, which allows them to understand their audiences’ preferences and purchase intent.
- By giving them reliable reporting based on holistic customer data, which provides insights into what’s working and what’s not.
- By enabling them to automate their ads based on live CRM data, which allows them to continually deliver relevant ads as prospects move to different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Let’s take a look at an example.
Say you’re a demand generation specialist working at a B2B company. Competition is rising in your industry and you’ve seen a decline in the number of qualified leads coming from your ads each month. You know that a more targeted and personalized approach is needed. And you turn to CRM-powered advertising.
As a first step, you create a different campaign for each stage of the buyer’s journey. For the attract stage, for example, you use data in your CRM to create a lookalike audience based on your happiest customers. This will be your target audience. You know that your company’s security features are a key differentiator in the market so you create ads that highlight that aspect of your value proposition.
Because the target audience you’ve created is reflective of your best customers, you get a high percentage of click-throughs. This leads prospects towards the next stage of the buyer’s journey, where they get the opportunity to download an ebook to learn more about your company’s products and services. Your software gives you the ability to create custom fields on the download form, which helps you to gain more granular preference data, and ultimately, get to know your prospects better.
You have set up your campaign to automatically route these new leads to your sales team, and because you’re working out of a shared CRM, you see a number of prospects move into the “demo” stage of their journey.
Again, using your CRM data, you sync these lifecycle stages to the display network you’re using, which automatically begins to serve a new set of ads to prospects based on the next stage of their journey. This allows you to deliver hyper-relevant messaging that addresses the pain points that are specific to prospects who are on the verge of making a purchase decision, such as social proof from happy customers.
As deals close, you then use attribution reporting to see exactly which new customers engaged with your ads and report to your leadership team on the number of deals your CRM-powered strategy influenced.
How to Get Started With CRM-Powered Advertising
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is built to enable marketers to launch CRM-powered advertising campaigns and deliver a seamless experience for prospects — from the first time they see an ad to the moment they become a customer and beyond.
It offers ads tools that allow marketers to build deeply segmented audiences, serve different ads for different stages of the buyer’s journey, and precisely measure the performance of every campaign — all informed by rich CRM data.
Advertising has come a long way since the days of interruptive, irrelevant, and irritating content that once dominated our screens. A new era is unfolding — one in which consumers expect relevant messaging across every touchpoint and in which companies must find new ways to cut through the ever-increasing volume of noise online.
A CRM-powered advertising strategy, driven by a CRM platform built with this purpose in mind, empowers marketers to not only gain deeper insights into their customers’ needs, but to turn those insights into engaging content with the potential to delight prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Buyers don’t think like marketers or salespeople. Anyone who works in these departments can admit that. More importantly, buyers don’t think like each other either.
Each consumer follows their own set of buying patterns, whether they recognize it or not. For instance, someone who walks to work every morning may grab a coffee from the Starbucks on the corner — to them, that’s part of their routine. To Starbucks, that’s an established buying pattern.
But if this person happened to move neighborhoods, they’d likely establish a new routine (and buying pattern).
Buying patterns are important to recognize, analyze, and measure because they help businesses better understand and potentially expand their target audience. Buying patterns also fall in step with the customer journey, although they connect more with the psychology and motivations behind each stage.
In this post, we are going to discuss buying patterns and how to predict those of your customers.
What are buying patterns?
Buying patterns refer to the why and how behind consumer purchase decisions. They are habits and routines that consumers establish through the products and services they buy.
Buying patterns are defined by the frequency, timing, quantity, etc. of said purchases.
These patterns are determined by factors such as:
- Where someone lives
- Where they work
- How much money they make
- What they enjoy and prefer
- What their friends and family recommend
- What their goals and motivations are
- The price of the product or service they’re interested in (and any active sales or discounts)
- Any product displays
- The necessity of the product or service
- Festivals, holidays, rituals, or celebrations
For example, let’s say the customer mentioned in the introduction is named Robert. Robert’s coffee-buying pattern is one coffee every weekday morning, and this pattern is primarily influenced by where he lives and what he likes to drink.
Therefore, when Robert moves neighborhoods, he’ll likely choose a new morning routine (and establish a new buying pattern) that allows him to still snag that morning coffee.
So, in this case, why should Starbucks care?
Well, by understanding Robert’s buying pattern, Starbucks could better understand the buyer persona he represents, predict in-store traffic, and analyze how they could better market their products to similar customers.
Predicting Customer Buying Patterns
Many, many things influence a customer’s buying behavior and patterns. In the case above, Robert’s neighborhood and coffee cravings influenced his daily Starbucks routine, but that’s just one example of his buying patterns. Robert also has established buying patterns for his groceries, gym usage, clothing purchases, and more.
These types of purchases fall into four consumer behavior categories:
- Routine purchases (e.g. weekly grocery shopping)
- Limited decision-making purchases (e.g. a new salon recommended by a friend)
- Extensive decision-making purchases (e.g. a new car)
- Impulse purchases (e.g. a pack of gum at the register)
Buying patterns are present in all of these types of consumer behavior, but they’re most prevalent and predictable through routine purchases. (We’ll dive more into these types and examples in the following section.)
Marketers at companies in all these industries work to uncover and understand the buying patterns of their customers. Most buying patterns are established through the typical buyer journey: awareness, consideration, and decision.
When a pattern is established, however, the buyer then no longer has to become aware of their problem and consider a solution — they simply repeat the decision stage over and over, thus creating the pattern.
So, how can marketers and salespeople uncover the current buying patterns of their customers? The most straightforward way is to ask. Once you set a baseline of customer behavior and expectations, you can then start to predict their patterns — and those of similar shoppers.
Here are some questions to ask in a customer survey or focus group:
- Why did you first purchase [product or service]?
- Who in your household decided to purchase [product or service]? Does this person make all the buying decisions?
- Where do you go when looking for [product or service]?
- How long does it take to decide to buy [product or service]?
- Do you buy other [products or services]? Why?
- What’s your budget for [product or service]?
- How far would you travel to buy [product or service]?
These questions help you understand the why and how behind your customer purchase decisions, thus uncovering their buying pattern as it relates to your product or service.
The most important takeaway about buying patterns is that they’re ever-changing. Not only do they differ between your customers and buyer personas, but they may also change as an individual’s life changes — as we saw above with Robert.
Customer Buying Pattern Examples
In the previous section, I outlined the four main types of consumer behavior. Below, I’ll unpack an example of a customer buying pattern for each of the types of consumer behaviors.
1. Routine Purchases
I mentioned above that routine purchases typically yield buying patterns. This is true because these patterns are the most prevalent and predictable.
For example, let’s say Betty goes grocery shopping every Monday morning after taking her kids to school. She buys many of the same items every week since her kids are young and prefer to repeat their favorite meals for dinner. Sometimes, she’ll splurge on an extra dessert or fancy coffee, but for the most part, she sticks to the same list.
On one Monday, her kids’ school is closed for maintenance. She has to take them to the grocery, vastly changing her grocery routine as her kids pull a variety of snacks and treats off the shelves. She decides to buy a few to placate her kids and treat them to a special day off.
This is also an example of how a buying pattern can be altered based on who accompanies the decision-maker.
2. Limited Decision-Making Purchases
Limited decision-making purchases are typically rendered through a trusted recommendation by a friend or family member. Because of the recommendation, the decision-maker doesn’t consider it to be a tough decision or feel the need to do much research. This type of purchase can actually be the catalyst for an altered buying pattern.
For example, let’s say Georgia has gone to the same hair salon for five years. She’s never disliked her services there, but when her friend mentions an amazing new salon that has opened down the street, Georgia is curious to try it.
When she goes, she is so impressed with the service that she decides to make it her new routine salon, thus altering her buying pattern due to outside influence or recommendation.
3. Extensive Decision-Making Purchases
Extensive decision-making purchases are usually those that are for expensive, seldomly-made purchases. These may include a new car, computer, or even a home. Because of their ticket size, there’s little room to establish a buying pattern between purchases.
However, some consumers are loyal to certain brands or stores. For example, let’s say Austin decides it’s time for a new car. He and his family have always owned Fords, so when it comes time to shop for cars, he doesn’t think twice about looking for a new Ford.
While he’s uncertain of what model he’ll buy (sedan versus SUV), he knows for sure that he’ll purchase a Ford vehicle, thus creating a buying pattern between his few-and-far-between car purchases.
4. Impulse Purchases
Impulse purchases are exactly how they sound — impulsive purchases made with little planning, research, or forethought. For this reason, buying patterns are hard to establish with these kinds of purchases.
However, one consistent factor in impulse buying is convenience; consumers often make impulsive purchases when they need something quickly or see something they (think they) need. The convenience factor of impulse purchases allows for buying patterns around location and proximity.
For example, let’s say Gio likes to add a little something extra to his takeout purchases when he orders on his food delivery app. He often changes where he gets food from, but he typically throws in an add-on (e.g. fries, a drink, or a cookie) when prompted before check-out.
In this case, there’s no buying pattern established in what Gio orders or where he orders from, but the app tracks his add-on purchases to analyze how often he makes impulse buys on the app. Then, they know to continue prompting those add-ons or perhaps increase the number of products listed.
Tools for Analyzing Customer Buying Patterns
Customer buying pattern analysis is all about analyzing customer behaviors, and there are plenty of tools that can help.
Google Analytics provides a deep-dive view of your customers’ behaviors on your website. From traffic numbers to user demographics, Google Analytics can show you how your customers are interacting with your website. It can also help you establish baseline behaviors from which you can track patterns (or new behaviors that indicate breaks in patterns).
If your audience is active on your Facebook Page, you can learn a lot about their behaviors and patterns through Facebook Audience Insights. These patterns may not always result in a purchase, but understanding how your audience behaves on social media can teach you how to optimize your social and other promotional content to better entice them to buy.
For example, if you see your followers engage the most on posts that ask a question, perhaps you start posting inquiries that relate to your product or service (versus blatantly promotional posts that don’t otherwise interest your audience).
3. HubSpot CRM
Here at HubSpot, we’re strong advocates of customer relationship management (CRM) tools. So much so that we offer a free one. Not only do CRMs help align your sales, marketing, and customer service teams, but they provide natural, seamless places to store and track customer behaviors — including buying patterns.
If you link your CRM to your register and/or ecommerce platform and track your customer’s purchases, it will quickly show you patterns in purchase frequency, timing, and more. All you have to do is stay diligent in your data collection.
HubSpot Service Hub includes valuable Customer Feedback Software that can help you run surveys and collect insights about your customer buying patterns. The tool offers many pre-written and templatized survey options so you can dive right into gathering information around your customer behaviors and preferences.
For example, if you surveyed 25 known customers through HubSpot Service Hub, their answers and preferences would then be recorded in your HubSpot CRM, making it easier for you to track behaviors and establish buying patterns.
Buying patterns can tell you a lot about who’s buying from you and why. Use this information to better understand your customers, and fashion your marketing to match their expectations and meet them where they are.
To dig deeper, read our blog post on marketing psychology next.
Following the success of Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Snapchat, and now LinkedIn Stories, Twitter’s finally launched its own story feature.
It’s called Twitter Fleets.
The launch of Twitter Fleets comes after a successful pilot which began nine months ago. In March, Twitter began testing the feature in Brazil and continued to add other countries to its pilot until unveiling the feature in the U.S.
But, how does Fleets work and how might your brand leverage it in your marketing strategy? We’ll walk you through everything we know so far below.
Fleets, or fleeting tweets, are similar to Instagram Stories. Like Instagram’s layout, Twitter users who have Fleets will see a bar with circular Story icons from each account above their Twitter feed.
From their homepage, a user can tap on a circular Fleet icon to see what an account posted in their Fleets area.
Unlike tweets, the text, video, or photo published shows up in a vertical format, similar to Instagram Stories. But, if you like the Tweet format, you can also share a one in a Fleet to draw more attention to it, like McDonalds does below:
How to Use Twitter Fleets
1. Tap the circle with your face in it in the Fleets bar.
Like Instagram and LinkedIn Stories, the Fleets bar is above your feed and your Fleet icon will be on the right side, as seen the first screenshot shown above.
2. Create your content.
3. Add text and descriptions.
4. Publish your Fleet.
The Motivation Behind Twitter Fleets
To make Fleets even more “personal,” other users cannot retweet or share the link to them. Twitter users can also only reply to Fleets via direct message.
When Twitter started its Fleets pilot, the company surveyed some of the first beta testers. As expected, most who used Fleets said they felt more comfortable publishing more personal thoughts or opinions than they’d publish in standard tweets. This was because the users knew that this content would eventually disappear.
“We hope that those people who are not usually comfortable with Tweeting use Fleets to talk about the reflections that come to their head,” said Mo Al Adham, a Twitter product manager explained, in Twitter’s announcement.
Twitter Fleets also signifies yet another move social media platforms are making towards embracing ephemeral content.
While disappearing video, text, and Stories might’ve sounded like gimmicks back in the earlier days of social media, ephemeral content features are increasingly common in today’s online landscape.
Although Fleets might not be the center of brand strategies just yet, you can still begin identifying potential ephemeral content that could ultimately work on the platform. Below, I’ll highlight a few commonly used ephemeral tactics that could boost brand awareness on Twitter Fleets.
How Brands Could Use Twitter Fleets
1. Publishing Limited-Time Offers
Want to sell out a lot of one product quickly? Or, offer a promotion to your most engaged Twitter followers? One great way to do both of these things could be using Fleets to promote temporary sales, offers, or coupon codes.
Since Fleets only last for 24 hours, users won’t be able to find the codes or promotions forever. That could mean that these audiences might feel a sense of urgency to make a purchase, use a given coupon code, or just visit your website to learn more about your product.
2. Hosting Daily Giveaways
Along with posting about short-term sales and coupon codes, Fleets — and other Story platforms — could be great places to promote giveaways. With a Story-like platform, you can include more text, video, and photo about the products you’re giving away and explain the rules of your giveaway within multiple pages.
While you can announce a giveaway in standard tweets, all of this information might have to be published in multiple posts or a thread due to Twitter’s character count limitations. And, because Twitter’s feed is so fast-paced, you’ll likely need to post more than once to get a large number of contest entries in a limited time.
With a platform like Fleets, you’ll not only be able to post multiple pages of tweets in the same Fleet story, but your content will also appear in the Fleets area above a user’s feed. This might mean that there’s less risk in your contest announcement being buried by tweets from other accounts.
Additionally, because Fleets and Stories only last for 24 hours, viewers might feel a sense of urgency. Like with coupons or sales, audiences might want to enter your contest, view your entire Story, or go to your website before the Fleet disappears.
To give you some added inspiration, here’s an example of a contest that a brand once ran on Instagram Stories:
3. Embracing Live Events on Social Media
Want to leverage live events or short-term news in your social media marketing strategy without it clogging up your Twitter profile? Consider covering the event with ephemeral content. That way, when the event is over, users focus back on your overall brand and business.
In this example below, the NBA’s Instagram Story featured coverage of the Toronto Raptors parade in Ontario, Canada. At this point in the Story, a Raptors team member took selfies with the rapper, Drake.
4. Interacting With Loyal Fans
While Twitter’s highly public platform already allows brands many opportunities to find and interact directly with fans, Fleets could also be a helpful tool for this.
On Instagram and Facebook Stories, you might regularly see content where brands ask users to DM them questions or content. Then, a brand might create a Story with user-generated quotes, images, or videos. This tactic makes users who participated feel like the brand cares about their thoughts. Meanwhile, an interactive Story like this allows other audiences to see that the brand appreciates its most engaged followers.
Aside from question-and-answer interactions, you could also go one step further by publishing Fleets with user-generated content from customers or fans. One brand that frequently does this on Instagram Stories and Facebook is Planet Fitness. In the story below, they highlight fitness journey photos sent to them by their actual customers:
Not only does this Story allow loyal Planet Fitness fans to contribute to the brand’s social media content, but it also allows prospects to see how real people have benefited from the gym’s services.
5. Offering Behind-the-Scenes Content
Most of us know that people love seeing behind-the-scenes content from celebrities, athletes, and influencers on Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, and Snapchat. But, research shows that consumers also enjoy behind-the-scenes material from brands.
While tweets offer brands a platform to create quick well-worded posts or publish heavy-lift content, Fleets could allow brands to show audiences behind-the-scenes content or insights that make them look more authentic and relatable. This is something we’ve seen brands frequently do on their temporary Instagram Stories.
In the Story below, the New England-based Caffe Nero highlights a Barista of the Year competition that it holds with its staff every year. The Story highlights how Caffe Nero baristas are dedicated to serving customers and shows off an authentic piece of the restaurant’s company culture that many customers might not know about.
5. Informing Audiences About Complex Industry Topics
When you craft a tweet, you need to sum up your message in 280 characters or start a thread. But with Fleets or other social media Stories, you can add further information or insight with photos, videos, or multiple pages of text. This could allow brands to offer Twitter users a stronger variation of valuable, easy-to-create content that isn’t limited to tiny tweets, pricey marketing videos, or time-consuming live streams.
Here’s an example of how HubSpot discusses more complex industry topics via Instagram Stories. While you might not be able to add the same level of imagery to Fleets content, you could potentially leverage multiple pages of text in a similar way.
Navigating Ephemeral Content
Can content that disappears really leave an impression? Well, if Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have taught us anything — the answer to that question is, “Yes!”
While ephemeral platforms are a new and exciting opportunity, it does take creativity and brainstorming to create content that will grab your audience in a memorable way.
To get better acquainted with key ephemeral content tips and strategies, check out this introduction to the content type. Then, learn more about how major brands are leveraging current ephemeral platforms like Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, and Snapchat.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published to cover the Twitter Fleets pilot in May 2020, but was updated in November 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness.