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9 Breadcrumb Tips to Make Your Site Easier to Navigate [+ Examples]

In the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, two children drop breadcrumbs in the woods to find their way home. Nowadays, you probably don’t experience too many lost-in-the-wood experiences, but I’m willing to bet you’ve felt disoriented on a poorly designed website.

In web design, breadcrumb navigation is a way to show your users their location and how they got there. Like Hansel’s breadcrumbs, it helps users retrace their path and see where they are in the greater scheme of your site.

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While you can style breadcrumbs however you’d like, they tend to look the same across websites that use them. Here’s a simple example of breadcrumbs from the HubSpot Knowledge Base:

an example of breadcrumb navigation on the hubsot knowledge base website

Jakob Nielsen, co-founder of the acclaimed Nielsen Norman Group, has been recommending breadcrumb navigation since 1995, and makes a strong point for their usefulness and efficiency: “All that breadcrumbs do is make it easier for users to move around the site, assuming its content and overall structure make sense. That’s sufficient contribution for something that takes up only one line in the design.”

If your business’s website is multi-layered, you might consider implementing breadcrumb navigation to make your site easier to navigate. However, like any design element, there’s a right and wrong way of doing it. Here, we’ll explore nine tips and examples to ensure you’re creating the most effective breadcrumb navigation for your users.

Breadcrumb Navigation Tips and Examples

1. Only use breadcrumb navigation if it makes sense for your site’s structure.

Breadcrumb navigation has a linear structure, so you only want to use it if it makes sense with your website’s hierarchy. If you have lower-level pages that are accessible from different landing pages, using breadcrumb navigation will only confuse readers who keep accessing the same pages from different starting points. Additionally, if your site is relatively simple, with only a few pages, you probably don’t need breadcrumb navigation.

2. Don’t make your breadcrumb navigation too large.

Your breadcrumb navigation is a secondary tool to your primary navigation bar, so it shouldn’t be too large or prominent on the page. For instance, on DHL’s website, their primary navigation bar is large and recognizable, with columns like “Express” “Parcel & eCommerce” “Logistics”, etc. Their breadcrumb navigation is the smaller section below that reads, “DHL Global | > Logistics | > Freight Transportation”. You don’t want your users to mistake your breadcrumb navigation as the primary navigation bar.

an example of breadcrumb navigation on the DHL website

3. Include the full navigational path in your breadcrumb navigation.

I Googled “Elon University Non-Degree Students” to reach this landing page, but Elon is smart to include the full navigational path, including “Home” and “Admissions”. If you leave out certain levels, you’ll confuse users and the breadcrumb path won’t feel as helpful. Even if users didn’t begin on the homepage, you want to give them an easy way to explore your site from the beginning.

an example of breadcrumb navigation on the elon university website

4. Progress from highest level to lowest.

It’s important your breadcrumb navigation reads left to right, with the closest link to the left being your homepage, and the closest link to the right being the user’s current page. A study by Nielsen Norman Group found users spend 80% of their time viewing the left half of a page and 20% viewing the right half, making a strong case for left-to-right design. Plus, the link closest to the left will appear as the beginning of the chain, so you want it to be your highest-level page.

5. Keep your breadcrumb titles consistent with your page titles.

To avoid confusion, you’ll want to remain consistent with your page and breadcrumb titles, particularly if you’re targeting certain keywords in those titles. You also want to clearly link your breadcrumb titles to the page. If the breadcrumb title doesn’t have a link, make it clear. Nestle effectively labels its breadcrumb titles to match the page titles. “Areas of impact & commitment”, for instance, reads the same in the breadcrumb navigation as it does on the page.

Nestle also does a good job differentiating links from non-links with different colors — the links are blue, while the non-links remain gray.

example of breadcrumb navigation on the nestle website

6. Get creative with design.

The traditional breadcrumb navigation looks like this: Home > About Us > Careers. However, you don’t need to follow the traditional path if you feel a different design could appeal more to your audience, or look better on your site.

For instance, Target uses breadcrumb navigation in their product pages (because who wouldn’t get lost in the virtual shoe section?), but uses “/” symbols and simple black and grey text. In this case, the subtle design variation makes sense for their site’s aesthetic.

an example of breadcrumb navigation on the target website

7. Keep it clean and uncluttered.

Your breadcrumb navigation is simply an aid for the user, and ideally shouldn’t be noticed unless the user is looking for it. For this reason, you don’t want to clutter your breadcrumb navigation with unnecessary text.

Eionet, for instance, could do without their “You are here” text. While meant to be helpful, the text clutters the page. With the right design, a breadcrumb navigation should be noticeable enough without an introduction.

an example of breadcrumb navigation on the eionet website

8. Consider which type of breadcrumb navigation makes the most sense for your site.

There are a few different types of breadcrumbs you might use — location-based, attribute-based, and history-based. Location-based breadcrumbs show the user where they are in the site’s hierarchy. Attribute-based breadcrumbs show users which category their page falls into. Finally, history-based breadcrumbs show users the specific path they took to arrive at the current page.

Bed Bath & Beyond uses attribute-based breadcrumb navigation to show users which category their product page falls under, so users can click back to “Kitchen” or “Small Appliances” to peruse similar items. This type of breadcrumb navigation is most effective for Bed Bath & Beyond customers. When you’re creating a breadcrumb navigation, consider what’s most useful for your site’s visitors.

an example of breadcrumb navigation on the bed bath and beyond website

9. Know your audience.

Best practices in breadcrumb navigation urge web designers to place the navigation at the top of the page — but Apple, one of the most valuable companies of all time, defies this logic by putting their breadcrumb navigation at the bottom of their site. Ultimately, it’s critical you know your audience. Apple’s customers are typically tech-savvy, and would likely find the navigation if they needed it. Consider your customers’ needs, and implement A/B testing if you’re unsure.

an example of breadcrumb navigation on the apple iphone x website

Breadcrumb Navigation in HTML and CSS

Not only are breadcrumbs useful — they’re also easy to add to your website with a bit of HTML and CSS code.

Let’s start with the HTML, which we’ll use to make the links themselves. The easiest way to do this is to organize your links in an unordered list (<ul>) element, with each list item (<li>) comprising a link in the breadcrumb series until the final item, which denotes the current page.

Here’s an HTML template for breadcrumbs that you can use:

Notice how I’ve also enclosed the unordered list in an HTML <nav> (navigation) element, and added a class and an ARIA label to its opening tag. This is optional, but helps make your page more accessible to screen readers and search engines.

Of course, this HTML alone isn’t enough — right now, we just have a bulleted list of links. By adding CSS, we can achieve the breadcrumb look that we’re looking for. Apply the following CSS to the HTML above:

Together, this code generates a basic breadcrumb navigation area that can be used on any site — see the final result below. I’ve also added some additional styling for a cleaner look. To see how the breadcrumbs look without this styling, comment out the code at the bottom of the CSS tab.

See the Pen Breadcrumbs in HTML and CSS by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

 

Breadcrumb Navigation in Bootstrap CSS

Bootstrap CSS also offers a way to create breadcrumbs without needing to add custom CSS. To do this, use the Breadcrumb component like so. Here’s an example from the Bootstrap 5 documentation:

See the Pen Breadcrumbs in Bootstrap CSS by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

This is just the basics of breadcrumb navigation in Bootstrap — see the Bootstrap breadcrumb documentation to learn all the details.

Design to Help Users Navigate Your Site

Ultimately, breadcrumb navigation is an effective tool to make your site easier to navigate, but you want to follow design best practices to ensure you’re leveraging the tool’s helpfulness. For additional UX advice, check out our Ultimate Guide to UX Design.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Build a Marketing Technology (Martech) Stack That’ll Grow With You

What will your marketing team look like six months from now? Or a year from now? How many people will you add? What new tools, systems, and data will you need?

There are a lot of potential questions you can ask about the future of your business, but there is one certainty: you’ll deal with more data, more people, more processes, and more complex problems as you grow.

But how do you deal with that in your marketing team? That’s where marketing technology, or martech, comes in. By automating tasks and removing obstacles from your team’s workflows, marketing tech empowers your team to waste less time on menial tasks, allowing your business to grow more efficiently.

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When you put it all together, you get a marketing technology stack: a collection of tools that your team uses to do their best work every day.

As your team and business scales, it’s important to create a martech stack that streamlines your day-to-day processes. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about martech and how to build a marketing tech stack that will stay with you as you grow your business.

Marketing technology can be used by any type of marketer — even non-digital marketers. One martech tool is typically used for a different marketing discipline.

Here are a few examples of disciplines and a martech tool that can be used for them.

Instead of adopting a plethora of different tools, some marketers choose to adopt an all-in-one solution such as Marketing Hub.

How is technology used in marketing?

Technology is used by marketers to execute their marketing campaigns. Marketers use software to automate marketing tasks and collect data so they can get insights related to campaign activity and their impact on customers.

For example, say that your team spends a significant amount of time emailing customers. The action feels repetitive, and it’s keeping people away from more pressing assignments. You may choose to use an email automation software, so less time is spent sending emails.

You also want the software you use to track data related to those emails, so you gain an understanding of how your users interact with them.

In brief, marketers use technology to make their jobs easier and understand their levels of success. The technology that marketers use in their campaigns is known as their marketing tech stack.

Let’s say that you primarily focus on SEO and paid ads on social media. You would add the following tools to your marketing tech stack: Moz for SEO and HootSuite for social media management.

Alternatively, you can adopt an all-in-one solution such as Marketing Hub to take care of both your SEO and social media marketing strategies.

For instance, Marketing Hub’s SEO tool will assist you in optimizing your site with its built-in keyword research tools, as well as as-you-type optimization advice while you’re creating content.

Marketing tech SEO tool from HubSpot

Its social media management tool will take care of everything related to social media — including post creation and audience engagement analytics. You can even reply directly to comments from the tool.

Marketing tech social media management tool from HubSpot

Overall, the technology you choose will help you execute your campaigns from start to finish.

But with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to build a martech stack that works for your team. Let’s go over how you can build an effective stack.

How to Build a Marketing Tech Stack

There is no out-of-the-box method for building your martech stack. Your company is unique, and your perfect marketing stack is not going to look exactly like anyone else’s.

This is the time for choosing the right tech tools for your team and setting them up in a way that your future team can use and understand. To do so, take the following steps.

1. Identify your primary marketing strategies and goals.

Before ever choosing a martech tool, you’ll need to outline your marketing strategies. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either: you simply need to have an idea of the basic strategies that you want to implement.

If you already have an established marketing team, take a look at the strategies that are currently in place. This will help you gauge, from the get-go, the types of tools you need.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you want to increase organic traffic to your website. The strategy for that would be SEO. Next, you want to capture leads. So you would invest in a website redesign strategy that highlights your calls-to-actions more efficiently.

Jot these strategies down in a document, then include ideas for possible tools you can use to implement the strategies. If you don’t know which tools you use, simply write that you’ll list them after further research.

Example 1

  • Goal: Increase organic traffic
  • Strategy: SEO
  • Tools: To be determined

Example 2

  • Goal: Get more visitors to convert
  • Strategy: Redesign the website
  • Tools: To be determined

2. Survey your team to find out their challenges.

Next, sit down with your team and find out the challenges they encounter when trying to execute their day-to-day duties.

What adds more time to their workflow? What makes their job harder?

While the conversation should be open-ended, try to connect their challenges to your marketing goals. For instance, if you want to increase organic traffic, ask what specifically your team finds challenging when trying to optimize the website. If they say keyword research takes too much time, then you’d know that you’ll need a keyword research tool specifically.

Jot these challenges down in the same document you’ve already started. Keep it simple — just a sentence or a few bullet points will do.

Example 1

  • Goal: Increase organic traffic
  • Strategy: SEO
  • Challenges: Keyword research takes too much time
  • Tools: Keyword research tool that quickens the process

Example 2

  • Goal: Get more visitors to convert
  • Strategy: Redesigned website
  • Challenges: Unable to add CTAs because of the outdated backend system
  • Tools: A new content management system that allows the team to add CTAs to any page

3. Establish an estimated budget.

Building your dream martech stack means nothing if you can’t afford it. As you begin to determine the types of tools you’ll need, think about the funds you’ll allot for them.

You can go several ways about this. You can determine a budget per tool or per strategy. Alternatively, you can choose a budget overall for the entire team in a yearly, quarterly, or monthly basis.

Choosing a monthly budget is the best choice for small businesses without a dedicated finance team. Most tools are available on a monthly subscription basis, which makes it easier to drop one if it doesn’t work for the team.

You can also choose a budget per strategy. For instance, you can decide you’ll invest $200 a month in SEO tools.

Be sure to take into account the amount of seats you’ll need for the tool, or ensure the team is open to sharing one subscription. Most times, sharing a single subscription will work without a problem, and you can save a significant amount of money.

4. Research the tools you’ll consider for your martech stack.

Now that you have your strategies, your tool ideas, and your budget, it’s time to research the actual products you’ll add to your martech stack. If you’re a marketing leader, you can leave this task to individual team members, because they’ll be the ones using the tools.

It’s helpful to look at product curation posts to get a general idea of the offerings that are out there. For the keyword research challenges in your team, for example, you can look at a list of keyword research tools. If you’re looking for a new CMS, you should look at a list of the best CMS systems.

From there, you can investigate pricing, product reviews, and general fit for your team.

Make a list of the tech tools in a spreadsheet and include pricing and a general description of the product. From there, refine the list until you’ve decided on the tools you want to try out, and be sure to specify whether the tool needs a monthly or yearly subscription.

5. Consider non-marketing tools to add to your tech stack.

When we talk about the martech stack, we’re often caught up in marketing-specific tools. But there are a wide range of “general” tools that are useful for a marketing team.

Project management tools, collaboration platforms, and data sync software solutions are just a few of the products you can consider. Anything that cuts time from a complicated workflow is worth exploring. Google Drive would be an example, and so would Asana.

Add these products to your martech list, including the pricing and a brief description.

6. Compile the data that you’ll transfer into the tools.

After you’ve purchased the tools, it’s time to transfer the data. Already have a list of leads? How about Microsoft Word documents you’d like to import into Google Drive for collaborative editing?

Compile all of them in folders. Assign a type of data to each team member. For instance, one team member can compile the contacts from a conference. Another team member can compile the current templates you use for your social media posts. Another can compile all of the copy from the website for the website redesign.

When it’s time to sign up for the tools and adopt them, you can transfer these files and data and more easily pick up where you left off.

7. Assign one team member to create a workflow per tool.

Now that it’s time to adopt the martech tools, you don’t want to throw it out to your team without a workflow. That’s an easy way to end up with a subscription that no one is using.

Assign one team member to explore one specific tool. This team member will jot down workflow steps for using the tool effectively and write a step-by-step tutorial with screenshots. After, schedule a meeting for the team member to carry out a live tutorial.

Why? You can establish the best way to use the tool without a lot of guesswork. The process will be scattered and haphazard if everyone starts using the tool at once. By having a single uniform process, you can guarantee that every team member is using the tool to its fullest extent.

8. Analyze the tools’ success and switch solutions if necessary.

You don’t want to end up with an unused martech stack. Always audit your tools for their success — whether they effectively streamline workflows, automate tasks, and help your team do their work in a better way.

If not, there’s no shame in cancelling your subscription and going for another solution. Take a look at product curation posts, or research individual tools you may have heard of from other marketing leaders.

Let’s go over a few tips you should apply when building your martech stack.

Martech Stack Tips

As you build your marketing tech stack, you’ll be pulled in all sorts of different directions. When your business is growing, you’ll be tempted to add more complexity to address urgent gaps.

We’ve been there. HubSpot’s marketing operations team is all too familiar with the challenge of dealing with more and more as our team grows.

We’ve learned a lot along the way — so we gathered insights from HubSpot’s resident operations experts to ask what they wish they would have known when growing HubSpot’s own marketing tech stack.

1. Strategy first, technology second.

As companies grow, it can be tempting to rely on technology to support processes that are still evolving. Usually, this happens when a team adopts powerful tools that have a lot of potential, and they try to mold their systems around it.

HubSpot’s marketing operations team has made this mistake, too, and with an important takeaway: What sets apart truly powerful tech stacks isn’t just about the technology.

“The tools themselves won’t make you successful but rather how you use them,” explains Kerri Harrington, Marketing Ops Analyst here at HubSpot.

Harrington has worked closely with HubSpot Partners, consulting many who were in the midst of building their tech stacks. She taught them to think about their tech stack not as the powerhouse behind their systems, but a vehicle to efficiently and effectively execute their strategy.

If you are still developing your strategy, she says, try drawing out and visualizing your tech stack. This gives you an opportunity to think critically about each tool, the purpose it serves, and where there is any overlap or duplication in your tools.

2. Keep systems simple.

Have you heard of the “keep it simple, silly” (KISS) principle? The term, originally coined by an aeronautical engineer in the US Navy, states that simplicity guarantees the greatest levels of user acceptance and interaction.

The term is used often in software design, for example, where function and instruction creep can make products unmanageable over time.

How do you prevent this happening in your own company as it continues to grow? Put your current strategy down on paper, and review the value of every stage of your process with your leadership team. Consider what processes could be done more efficiently, and what could be eliminated altogether.

“The #1 driver of complex business systems is complex business rules,” says Mark Metcoff, Director of Marketing Technology at HubSpot. “If you can simplify your go-to-market strategy as much as possible, then regardless of how you structure your systems, you’ll be heading in the right direction.”

3. Aim for medium-term solutions.

In an ideal world, every decision you make about your tech stack today will work seamlessly for your team for years to come.

In reality, though, you are probably going to change systems a dozen times over the next few years if you continue to scale. You shouldn’t worry about picking your forever tech, but do not settle for a tool that will become obsolete in 6 months, either.

“Aim for the medium-term,” Metcoff suggests. “The costs of switching systems has never been lower, thanks to the emergence of more persistent datastores like customer data platforms that can underlie front-office facing systems, and iPaaS solutions that allow you to integrate front-office providers for easy data transfer.”

4. Document everything, and document it well.

Imagine opening your spice cabinet, ready to cook up a chicken curry, to find that nothing in the cabinet is labeled. Every spice and herb is in the same colored jar, with no ingredient label or expiration date.

Unless you have a noteworthy sense of smell, this project would not be very easy or enjoyable.

This is what it’s like to step into a new role only to realize that your new team’s processes and database have not been properly documented. This is common among growing companies, because as your database grows and your systems evolve, it’s easy to end up with a lot of clutter, data integrity issues, and confusion.

Many will skip right over this — who likes to document? Who has the time to ‘waste’ a day of innovation to do seemingly admin work? We get it — But for the sake of your future team, make sure you take the time to lay down the right foundation for data architecture.

“I can’t tell you how many times we have to review the history of a change or ‘walk through’ the last couple of years on a topic,” says Maggie Butler, Builder Marketing Team Manager at HubSpot. “It gets really, really hard if no one has documented anything.”

One incredibly valuable resource HubSpot had during one of its growth spurts, she says, was the documentation built by our engineers that detailed in simple language how the logic and code worked. Aim for this level of documentation to be comprehensive across all applications, and easily accessible for everyone on your team.

In terms of marketing tools, our Lead Management tool embodies the ‘document everything’ mantra. The tool can be used to create a database of all customer information, where you can view chronological timelines of every interaction customers have had with you.

5. Choose point solutions that serve a single purpose.

A point solution is a product or service that addresses one very specific need in a marketing organization. Sometimes, you just need a piece of software to do a specific thing really, really well. There’s no shame in it.

The data sync software included in Operations Hub is a great example of this. If you use multiple different apps to execute your marketing strategy, keeping track of customer data from each app can be a tedious process. The data sync tool can integrate with your CRM to streamline this process by syncing customer data from your favorite apps into one up-to-date database.

But keep in mind that every piece you do add to your infrastructure comes with its own compliance risks, technical challenges, maintenance and upkeep, and general administration.

“Also look closely at whether or not it needs to be integrated into your tech stack,” explains Metcoff. “Sometimes point solutions work just fine in a silo.”

If you have any point solutions in your current stack, think about how it fits into the bigger picture: how does it interact with the rest of your technologies, and what do you need to do to keep it running?

6. Aim for ease of use, but don’t sacrifice the necessities.

There are a lot of options out there — so don’t settle for less than what you need. At the end of the day, you need to choose a system that’s easy for your team to pick up and use, but still has the power and flexibility you need to get things done.

The challenge with today’s marketing automation tools is that they offer either enterprise-grade power or consumer-grade ease-of-use, but never both. As a result, many still go with the safe bet — overpriced, overly complicated, and under-utilized tools — which translates to spending more time on systems than on your customers.

Best Marketing Tech Stack

The best marketing tech stack for your business is entirely tailored to your needs, but there are a few tools we recommend — especially if you’re just building out your marketing team.

Let’s take a look at a martech stack for general use, attracting site visitors, converting site visitors, and engaging leads. These martech tools are essential for running a high-performing marketing team.

Collaboration: Google Drive

Google Drive allows your team to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and folders — all on the cloud. There’s no need for anyone to download any software on their laptop. The best part is that losing work is nearly impossible with Google Drive.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: OneDrive, Dropbox

Communication: Slack

Slack is an instant messaging platform that’s specifically designed for work (and not leisure chatting). This tool makes it easy for your marketing team to share quick updates, send files, and communicate live if necessary. With Slack, there’s no need to send emails that can be covered in a quick conversation.

Pricing: Free; $6.67/user/month (Pro); $12.50/user/month (Business +); Custom (Enterprise Grid)

Alternatives: Google Chat, Microsoft Teams

Project Management: Asana

Project management is the heart and soul of marketing. Whether your team is scheduling campaigns, managing complicated workflows, or working on a project-to-project basis, you don’t want anything to fall through the cracks. Asana makes it easy by providing a collaborative space for your team to check off tasks and share project updates.

Pricing: Free; $10.99/user/month (Premium); $24.99/user/month (Business)

Alternatives: Trello, Freedcamp, Project.co

Asset Creation: Canva

Canva offers a wide range of helpful templates to help your marketing team create assets for anything. Social media posts, Facebook banners, posters, infographics, presentations, flyers, and brochures can all be created with Canva. The best part is that you can start for free, and there’s virtually no learning curve. You can sign up and start using it right away.

Pricing: Free; $199.99/year (Pro); $30/user/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: Visme, Snappa, Adobe Creative Cloud (recommended for advanced users)

Stock Images: Unsplash

Stock images are used in any type of marketing material, such as blog posts, banners, flyers, and brochures. It’s illegal to use images you find online unless they’re under a Creative Commons license. Some of these images are also not of professional quality. Unsplash is a great option for getting access to and downloading high-quality stock photos for free.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Pexels, Shutterstock (Paid), Getty Images (Paid), iStock Photos (Paid)

Image Optimization: Toolur

After you download stock images, it’s important to compress them so that they don’t slow down your website. There are many image compression tools out there, but Toolur is one of the best. You can upload up to 25 images at a time, choose different compression methods, set image quality, and resize them all to a preset width. Competitors only allow you to upload an image at a time or try to upsell you by restricting compression options.

If you’re optimizing GIFs, we recommend Ezgif.com.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Squoosh.app, TinyJPG

Grammar Checker: Grammarly

Publishing error-free copy is paramount to presenting your business professionally online. With Grammarly, you can take all the manual work out of copy-editing your work. Although it’s still recommended to give your pieces one final read-through before publication, Grammarly will catch most errors.

Pricing: Free; $12/month (Premium); $12.50/user/month (Business)

Alternatives: ProWritingAid, Hemingway App

Content Management and Blogging: CMS Hub

If you don’t yet have a website or blog and need to create one, you’ll need a scalable CMS system to power your website. If you already have a website but the CMS is clunky and hard-to-use, you’ll also need to seek a replacement that makes it easier to publish and update content.

CMS Hub is one of the best options in the business. You can build landing pages, create forms, add pop-up CTAs, publish blog posts, and see all of your performance metrics in one easy-to-use platform. It’s integrated with Marketing Hub, allowing you to seamlessly connect your other marketing initiatives to your website. Because it’s an all-in-one solution, there’s no need to pay for plugins and add-ons that slow down your site.

Pricing: $270/month (Professional); $900/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal

Website Visitor Analytics: Google Analytics

Knowing who’s visiting your site, when they’re visiting, where they’re visiting from, and whether they bounce off is critical to understanding and improving your overall website performance. Google Analytics also helps you measure your organic traffic, see top landing pages, and see top exit pages.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: StatCounter (Paid), Simple Analytics (Paid)

Web Page Analytics: Google Search Console

While Google Analytics is an excellent way to measure overall website performance, Google Search Console takes it a step further by providing analytics page-by-page. You can use it to see your top queries for either the whole site or a specific page, compare time periods, and compare two or more URLs on your site.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Ahrefs (Paid), Moz (Paid)

Website Analytics Dashboard: Google Data Studio

You’d create a dashboard for nearly anything in marketing: email marketing performance, landing page performance, user acquisition stats, and more. For those, you’d be better off with a dedicated reporting dashboard software.

For creating dashboards on website analytics, however, Google Data Studio is a budget-friendly tool that automatically imports data from Google Analytics. This makes it an easy choice for current Google Analytics users. Simply choose the data you want to show and configure it using the drag-and-drop dashboard editor.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: HubSpot’s Dashboard and Reporting Software (included in Marketing Hub), Databox (Paid)

Email Marketing: Marketing Hub’s Email Marketing Tool

Marketing Hub’s free email marketing tool allows you to create rich HTML emails without writing a single line of code. You can also personalize the emails using smart rules and A/B test campaigns to increase click-through-rates. The tool is integrated with all of Marketing Hub’s features — so a lead from any form on your website automatically turns into a subscriber.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Constant Contact (Paid), MailChimp (Paid)

Marketing Automation: Marketing Hub

Marketing automation allows you to nurture leads with drip campaigns that are triggered based on a lead’s specific action. Marketing Hub allows you to automate campaigns and personalize workflows with segmentation logic. You can also score leads, send leads to sales, and trigger internal notifications.

The workflows feature is included in the Professional and Enterprise subscription tiers.

Pricing: $800/month (Professional); $3,200/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: Marketo

SEO: Ahrefs

SEO has many facets: keyword research, backlink-building, competitive research, and rank tracking. But you don’t want to pay for different tools to do each one of those things. Ahrefs has a keyword explorer, rack tracker, and site explorer where you can audit the inbound links pointing to your competitors.

Pricing: $99/month (Lite); $179/month (Standard); $399/month (Advanced); $999/month (Agency)

Alternatives: Moz, SEMRush

Technical SEO: Screaming Frog

A robust technical infrastructure can take your website from serviceable to outstanding. Screaming Frog is an essential tool for finding 404 errors, identifying broken links, generating sitemaps, finding duplicate content (which can greatly harm your rankings), and analyzing your pages’ metadata.

Pricing: Free; $211 USD/year

Alternatives: DeepCrawl, Ahrefs, Moz

SEM (Paid Ads): Google Ads

When considering an SEM tool to add to your martech stack, there’s no better option than Google Ads. This tool allows you to place sponsored results on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and also allows you to display ads on Google’s display partners.

Pricing: Varies (Pay-Per-Click)

Alternatives: Media.net, AdRoll

Social Media Marketing: Marketing Hub’s Social Inbox

Social media marketing is critical for growing your follower base and increasing lead generation. It’s important to use a tool that allows you to post, comment, and manage your brand across multiple platforms.

Marketing Hub’s social media tool empowers your team to do all of this and more. You can schedule posts up to three years in advance, analyze your performance on social platforms, monitor brand mentions, and participate in the conversations that most matter to you. It’s included in the Professional and Enterprise subscription tiers.

Pricing: $800/month (Professional); $3,200/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: HootSuite, SproutSocial

Video Marketing: Wyzowl

If your team does any video marketing, you’ll need a video marketing tool to help you create engaging videos that increase brand awareness and effectively explain your product. Wyzowl makes it easy because you don’t have to hire a videographer, animator, script writer, and voiceover actor to create polished, shareable videos.

Pricing: Available upon request

Alternatives: Testimonial Hero, Content Beta

Webinars: ON24

Webinars are an important tool for B2B marketers and an effective way to generate leads. If your team runs webinars or is planning to, ON24 is a top option for creating engaging webinars, gauging your event’s performance, and identifying potential leads.

Pricing: Available on request

Alternatives: GoToWebinar, Zoho Meeting

Conversion Rate Optimization: Optimizely

A conversion rate optimization tool will help your team ensure that your CTAs are designed to drive conversions. The Optimizely Digital Experience Platform allows you to experiment with colors, placement, and design of your CTAs. You can also test your website’s personalization options and deliver highly tailored recommendations to your website users.

Pricing: Available on request

Alternatives: Google Optimize, Crazy Egg

Build a Martech Stack that Helps You Grow Better

With all of the tools available these days, there is no need to use clunky, complex, and time-consuming legacy software. We believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice productivity to get power, because the best tools combine both power and ease-of-use. When you focus on delighting your customers and creating great experiences instead of managing your software, you will grow better.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

state of marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Cover Letter

Nowadays, companies have a computerized system that puts resumes through an online scanner which will automatically reject some applicants and push other applicants through depending on their qualifications.

So, What does this mean for you as a job seeker? Well, the cover letter attached to your application is more important than ever.

Have you been asked to attach a cover letter to your job application? Perhaps you’re struggling to write one that lands an interview or have no clue what one is at all.

Whichever situation you’re in, we’ve crafted this ultimate guide to cover letters. You’ll find out how to write one that gets read, what to include, and browse tons of templates to gain inspiration.

Are you ready to land the job of your dreams through a perfectly crafted cover letter?

Awesome!

You can dive straight in, or jump to the section you’d like to read.

→ Click here to access 5 free cover letter templates [Free Download]

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

Okay, so you’re all fired up and ready to craft the cover letter of the hiring manager’s dream. That’s great! But how do you manage the fine balance between in-depth and overwhelming?

A good cover letter is long enough to communicate why the recruiter should pick you … but not long enough to bore them to the point where they’ll need a strong coffee.

One page is usually enough to cover everything you’ll need to include, without losing the recruiter’s attention and having your cover letter tossed into the trash.

Let’s go into those items in more detail:

Your Name and Address

Kick off your cover letter by adding your name and address to the document.

This step is pretty self-explanatory, but it allows the recruiter to easily connect your cover letter to your resume (especially if they’re being printed).

Your name and address also make it easier for the recruiter to get in touch with a job offer. And that’s the aim of our letter, right?

Their Name and Address

Similarly, you should add the name and address of the company or person you’re writing to.

This shows you’ve done your research and allows the hiring manager to receive your letter if it’s sent to a generic company email address.

The Date of Writing

Make it easier for the hiring manager to file your application by including the date on your cover letter.

Even if you’re not successful this time around, the company might store your letter and refer back to it when they’re hiring for another position!

Why You’re Writing the Letter

We know that the aim of a cover letter is to persuade the hiring manager you’re the best fit for their job. But, be sure to open your letter strongly, with 1-2 sentences that’ll grab their attention and quickly make them realize they’re reading a cover letter.

Something like this will usually do the trick:

“I’m writing to discuss the content strategist role at HubSpot.”

Why You’re a Perfect Fit for the Job

The next section of a cover letter structure is the fun part — it’s where you’ll convince the hiring manager they should hire you — and not the person whose resume is behind yours.

In this section, answer these questions:

  • Why should this company hire you?
  • What skills do you have that will help complete the job better than anyone else?
  • What makes you a good employee?
  • What extra qualifications do you have that are relevant to the role?

Once you’ve answered these, the recruiter will have a solid understanding of who you are, and (hopefully) be convinced to hire you!

What You Can Offer the Company

Have you ever heard the advice to “always sell yourself in a job application”? That concept can be applied to cover letters, but remember that recruitment isn’t all about you.

Businesses measure success in terms of results. The company looking for a new employee will want to know what they bring to the table and how they’ll shape their business’ future. New candidates are rarely brought on board solely for the soft skills listed in their resume.

That’s why this part of your cover letter structure is arguably the most important.

In less than two paragraphs, show the business what you can do — and prove you’ve done it before (preferably with examples).

Not only does this give you the opportunity to show off your skills, but the company can picture the success you’ll bring to their business by hiring you.

Your Availability

In the marketing world, we’re always told the importance a call-to-action can make. But, don’t leave them to your blog posts: Explain your availability to the person reading your cover letter for the best chances of a follow-up call.

Great cover letters end with a brief section on the candidate’s earliest start date. You could also include your availability for an interview and tell them you’re happy to answer any questions they may have.

How to Address a Cover Letter

Earlier, we mentioned the importance of addressing the hiring manager by their name and address. This proves you’ve done your research and ensures the cover letter lands in the right place.

Personalized content does 42% better than non-personalized, so including the first name of the recruiter can go a long way.

But in a world where privacy is held close to our chest, you might need to do a bit of digging before revealing the name your letter should be addressed to.

Luckily, you can use the power of the internet to do this. To find their:

Name

Head over to LinkedIn and find the company’s profile page. You can do this by entering their name into the search bar or searching for a link to their LinkedIn page on the company’s website.

Then, click the number of employees to see all employees who are on LinkedIn:

HubSpot LinkedIn company page

You’ll then be greeted with a list of all people (with a LinkedIn profile) that work for your target company. Simply work your way through this list to find the most relevant contact, or search

  • Hiring manager
  • HR manager
  • Recruitment manager

… to find the most suitable name to address in your cover letter.

Address

You can find the address of the company you’re looking to submit a job application to by finding the About or Contact page on their website.

This should be in their navigation bar, but can also be found by Googling their URL and “contact”.

On this page, you should find an address for the company. If not, don’t worry. Simply call one of the numbers listed or send an email to their support team. Ask for the company’s general careers email address, and use this on your cover letter.

Opening a Cover Letter

Great job! You’ve done all of the digging you’ll need to write a cover letter. It’s easy from here.

After you’ve addressed the cover letter to the most relevant person, we’ll need to open the letter with something relevant.

“Dear Ms. H.Spot” (using your own initials, of course) will keep it professional.

But, if you’ve struggled to unveil the hiring manager’s name, stick with “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Dear Hiring Manager”.

How to Close a Cover Letter

Once you’ve followed the above cover letter structure and explained your availability, it’s time to wrap it up.

If you’ve addressed the letter personally, end with “Thanks”.

If you haven’t, opt for “Sincerely”.

Then, sign the cover letter with your full name.

Should You Include Salary Requirements?

Talking about money is a tricky subject. Some feel uncomfortable discussing wages in the first interaction with a company, so it’s best to avoid discussing salary requirements in your cover letter unless it’s stated as a requirement.

Including salary requirements in your cover letter could set a bad tone. Instead, allow your letter to show off your skills and make a convincing argument as to why they should hire you.

Save the money talk until your interview!

Are Cover Letters Necessary?

Cover letters are often a required field for online job applications. But do you really need to include one if it’s optional, you’re sending your resume through email, or applying in-person?

While a few years ago the answer wasn’t clear cut, in today’s age cover letters are more important than ever.

In 2017, just 26% of recruiters considered cover letters important in their decision to hire an applicant. That means they were influential in hiring decisions, but not essential.

However, according to 2021 research, 83% of recruiters agree that, although not strictly necessary, a well-written cover letter gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you are a great fit for the company you are applying for. Additionally, in a separate question, 83% of respondents claimed that a great cover letter can secure you an interview even if your resume isn’t good enough.

If those stats aren’t enough to convince you of its importance, 74% of recruitment decision-makers prefer to receive job applications that include cover letters apart from resumes. And even if submitting a cover letter is optional, 77% of recruiters will give preference to candidates who did send a cover letter.

Plus, since 69% of surveyed workers believe getting a job in 2021 will be much harder or somewhat harder than in previous years, adding a cover letter to your application is a great way to stand out.

Especially since only 35% of candidates attach a cover letter to their application when it’s optional and only 38% of candidates submit a cover letter when it’s required.

Writing a cover letter will allow you the chance to communicate with the hiring manager. You’re given more space to tell them why you’re the perfect fit for their job, meaning you don’t have to rely on bullet-pointed lists in your resume.

Cover letters also help to build your personal brand. By going the extra mile (even when it’s not required), you’re proving key skills like being a hard worker, having good communication, and taking initiative.

In short: Cover letters aren’t absolutely necessary, but they do have stark advantages. If there’s an option to upload one when applying for any job, do it — even if it’s not required!

How to Write a Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter can be tricky. Even the best writers can struggle with communicating their skills in the right manner, but these tips will help you create a job-winning document.

The structure of your cover letter is arguably the most important thing about writing one.

Not only does a good structure help you to organize your points effectively, but it can help a hiring manager to quickly review the details you’re sharing.

7 Tips for Writing Great Cover Letters

So, you’ve crafted a cover letter and you’re almost ready to hit send.

Now, wait a minute …

Before attaching to your resume and hoping for the best, use these seven tips to make sure your cover letter is as great as can be:

1. Don’t babble.

Earlier, we mentioned how the best cover letters strike the perfect balance in their length.

Our best tip for writing cover letters is to avoid any babble. Don’t add fluff that fails to add anything of value. Not only are you wasting your time by writing it, but you’re wasting the hiring manager’s time, too.

You want to keep the recruiter’s attention, which can be easily lost through babbling. Cut the jargon and corporate-speak that hiring managers have heard before. (Like “leverage” and “thinking outside the box”.)

Yes, professionalism is important, but be harsh and critical when editing your cover letter. If a sentence doesn’t add value, get rid of it!

2. Tailor it for the company and position you’re applying for.

The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit well with cover letters.

You’re applying for different roles at various companies, but don’t let a change in name and address be the only amendments you make.

Remember that a cover letter should explain why you should be hired for a specific role instead of anyone else. It’s highly unlikely that multiple companies will hire for exactly the same position, so take some time to personalize your cover letter for every position you’re applying for.

3. Add more value than your resume.

Although cover letters are used in partnership with resumes, be wary of falling into the trap of making them carbon copies of one another.

Cover letters that regurgitate everything already explained on a resume are useless. Instead, use the documents to compliment each other by:

  • Including new skills.
  • Elaborating on how your qualifications would help you in the role.
  • Sharing how specific experience gives you an advantage over other candidates.

If you need to include the same thing in both documents, add “as listed in my resume …” rather than copy and pasting the same content.

Put yourself in your recruiter’s shoes: Reading the same thing multiple times would be annoying, right? (Remember, we don’t want to bore them!)

4. Include data-backed examples.

When referencing experience from your resume, use your cover letter as an opportunity to explain in detail — with examples.

Examples allow the company to picture the success you could bring if they hired you, rather than the person next in their resume pile. But, data-backed examples give an extra edge.

Let’s use an example. Which of these options is more impressive?

  1. I increased leads for the company.
  2. I increased leads by 35% in one month through a single blog post, which became the company’s biggest revenue source.

It’s option B, right?

5. Tell a story.

Following on from the previous step, you could elaborate on your data-backed examples by telling a story.

Storytelling helps with relatability and gives a hint of your personality in a cover letter. It also makes the recruiter remember your cover letter amongst a sea of other one-page documents in their review pile.

However, this cover letter tip comes with a warning: Don’t overdo it, and make it relevant. Remember what we said about babbling?

Including a story about how you adopted your pet cat is unlikely to influence someone into hiring you. On the other hand, a story on how you created a company’s blogging strategy to achieve your data-backed results is.

6. Get a second pair of eyes on it.

Even the best writers make occasional mistakes, but some hiring managers can be strict with grammatical errors — even if you’re not applying for a role where writing features heavily in your daily to-do’s.

That’s why our sixth cover letter tip is to get a second pair of eyes on it.

Email it to a friend or ask a family member to glance over it before you hit “send”. Ask them to highlight any spelling mistakes or suggestions to improve how you’re communicating with the person reading it.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Seeing as though a cover letter is one of the first documents a recruiter sees, try to make it perfect!

7. Be unique.

Finally, make your cover letter unique.

If you’re applying for a creative role, experiment with colors, subheadings, and layouts.

If you’re applying for more of a traditional role, be wary. Not everyone is a fan of bright, bold cover letters, but you can scope your limits by getting a feel of their company culture.

Are they strict and professional, or does the company like to have fun? (You can usually get a feel of this from their website or social media profiles.)

Testing the level of uniqueness can be a case of trial and error. If you’re not getting great reactions from your cover letter, revise and try again.

Cover Letter Examples

We understand that inspiration can go a long way. That’s why we’ve created a one-stop-shop for cover letter examples, which are available to view here.

You’re also free to browse our collection of cover letter samples for extra inspiration on formatting your cover letter and learning from those who’ve helped to land dream jobs.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You’ve now got a fantastic cover letter!

Don’t forget to send it with your resume for each job you apply for.

You’ll soon be flooded with responses to your application — including compliments on the contents of your cover letter, job offers, or invites to interview!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Professional Cover Letter Templates

YouTube vs. Vimeo: Which Video Platform is Best for Your Business? [Data]

By 2022, online video content is predicted to command more than 82% of all web traffic (15 times higher than it was in 2017). If you haven’t started thinking about how video fits into your long-term marketing strategy, now’s the time to start taking it seriously.

Before you dive into creating videos, it’s important to figure out where you’re going to host them. YouTube is obviously the largest video hosting platform on the web, but it might not be the best choice for every business.

To help you find the best fit for your company’s unique needs, we compared YouTube directly against the smaller, more niche platform Vimeo across a number of factors. Read on to see the results, and decide for yourself.

→ Free Templates: How to Use YouTube for Business [Download Now]

Number of Users

Winner: YouTube

There’s no real competition here. YouTube commands an audience of over two billion monthly users — almost half of the entire internet-using population. Vimeo’s 240 million monthly viewers and 90 million registered users seem insignificant in contrast. For maximum reach, choose YouTube.

Search Optimization

Winner: YouTube

YouTube leaves Vimeo in the dust here. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet, right after parent company Google. If you’re planning to create a video tailored to a specific search query, (e.g., how to pick a font for your website), your video belongs on YouTube. Not only will it appear in search results directly on YouTube, but Google also seems to favor videos from YouTube over those posted on other platforms.

Mobile

Winner: YouTube

70% of all YouTube views come from mobile, and the YouTube mobile app is absolutely dominating the mobile streaming space — outranking even formidable competitors like Netflix, Hulu, and Twitch.

Videos uploaded to Vimeo and YouTube are both optimized automatically for mobile, but YouTube offers more opportunities for mobile discovery and reach.

Cost

Winner: YouTube

YouTube is free — even for businesses. But you might be wondering if Vimeo is as well.

Is Vimeo free to use?

Vimeo operates on a tiered pricing model, ranging from a free basic plan to a $50/month package aimed at businesses.

Vimeo Pro vs YouTube

While Vimeo does have a free basic plan, it limits you to 500MB maximum storage per week.

If you’re okay with paying some money, you can get a Vimeo Pro plan. In Vimeo Pro, you’ll have access to support, advanced analytics, and professional privacy.

On the other hand, you can have unlimited storage for free on YouTube.

Support

Winner: Vimeo

With their paid packages, Vimeo offers several levels of technical support that could be a game-changer for businesses without much video expertise. YouTube offers plenty of free help documentation and access to a (rather crowded) support community, but if you’re seeking higher-touch, personalized support on-demand, a paid Vimeo account is the better option.

Storage

Winner: YouTube

YouTube offers unlimited, free storage for all accounts, while Vimeo charges for storage on a tiered basis. The basic, free Vimeo account option gives you 500MB of storage per week. With their highest level, $50/month package, you can store 5TB total with no weekly limits.

No Pre-Roll Ads

Winner: Vimeo

If you upload your videos to YouTube, there’s a good chance a pre-roll ad will play before it, which has the potential to deter some viewers from sticking around. Vimeo currently doesn’t allow ads, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be changing this policy anytime soon.

Running Ad Campaigns

Winner: YouTube

If you’re thinking of running your own ads on a video platform, you can’t beat YouTube (You also can’t purchase ad space on Vimeo, even if you wanted to, because they don’t allow it.)

YouTube offers an advanced, user-friendly ads platform, as well as personalized support from a “YouTube Advertising Expert” when you spend $10 a day on ads.

Community

Winner: Vimeo

User numbers don’t tell the entire story. With such a massive audience on YouTube, the environment is naturally more competitive. It’s easier for your video to get drowned out by thousands of others if you aren’t planning to feature it somewhere off YouTube. Vimeo’s smaller, more community-driven platform might be a better option if you’re hoping to tap into an existing creative niche, or get featured on their hand-curated staff picks page.

Advanced Privacy Options

Winner: Vimeo

Both YouTube and Vimeo give you the option to set videos to private or public (the default setting on YouTube is public), but Vimeo offers a handful of more nuanced, specific privacy options if that serves your interests. You can add a password protection option to videos, share a video only with people who follow your account, or even hide it from the Vimeo community — which could be useful if you plan on embedding the video on your website and want it to be viewable in only one place.

Customizable Player

Winner: Vimeo

Vimeo’s sleek embedded player offers a number of useful customization options that YouTube can’t match, including hex color customization and the ability to include a custom player logo (on Business and PRO accounts). Plus, when you change the default customization options on your account, all previously embedded videos will update to reflect the changes automatically, with no need to go back and tinker with any code.

Analytics

Winner: YouTube

YouTube takes the win here because all their analytics — ranging from basic statistics like views to more advanced options — are completely free. Vimeo does also offer powerful analytics tools to evaluate performance, but you’ll have to pay to access everything but basic stats.

Video Quality

Winner: Vimeo

When it comes to video quality, Vimeo beats out YouTube. In a test done by Medium, Vimeo’s video quality was crisp, clean, and easier to read. On the other hand, the same video on YouTube was blurry, making it much harder to follow.

Audio Quality

Winner: Vimeo

Again, when it comes to quality, Vimeo comes out on top. Sound quality is higher on Vimeo because the platform supports 320Kbps. However, to enjoy higher-quality videos and audio, you’ll need to be subscribed to one of the paid plans.

Live Streaming

Winner: YouTube

Both Vimeo and YouTube have live streaming options, however, YouTube is the clear winner here because it’s free. Vimeo offers live streaming with a paid plan. However, with Vimeo, you can upload new versions of the video and keep on using the same URL and upload higher quality recorded versions of a live stream, which you can edit before posting.

YouTube vs. Vimeo infographicImage Source

So which one should you choose?

It depends largely on what exactly you want to accomplish with your videos. If you’re looking for a creative community where you can connect with other video creators and gain some exposure in a specific niche, Vimeo is a better place to start sharing your content. If you have business goals that revolve heavily around search optimization and ads, YouTube is your best bet.

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The 4 Most Important Pages on Your Website (& How to Optimize Them)

When you’re knee-deep into the design of your website, it’s hard to admit this fact: Some of the pages on your website are more important than others.

Okay, many of you probably find that fairly obvious — but I’m surprised how rarely content managers and web designers actually apply this knowledge to their websites to improve conversions.

I’m all about low-hanging fruit and taking on the easiest tasks that will have the biggest results. What I’m about to describe in this article has the potential to improve your site dramatically with just a few, critical changes.

Free Resource: Website Optimization Checklist [Download Now]

In this post, I’ll explain how to optimize each one of these pages. And if your most-visited pages are different from the ones listed above, you’ll still learn a framework for optimizing any of the important pages on your website.

What is website optimization?

You’ve probably heard the word “optimize” most commonly used in phrases like “search engine optimization” (SEO) and “conversion rate optimization” (CRO). I’m actually referring to something broader here, but the advice that I’m delivering will help to enhance both of those.

The optimization I’m going to explain will create user optimized pages. In the pursuit of SEO and CRO, it’s easy to overlook the broader, big-picture idea. First and foremost, a site must be optimized for the user. The best place to see big results quickly is to start optimizing the most visited pages of your site.

Let’s get right into it. Every website is different, but generally speaking, here are the four most important (and often most-visited) pages on a website:

Home Page

The home page is the first impression of your business to potential customers. And although your time limit on making an amazing impression is several times longer online than it is in real life (62 seconds on average is spent by people viewing a website) you’ll want to make every second count.

It’s tempting to put every remotely relevant fact about the business on the home page, but resist the urge. Remember, your home page is the first step of the journey — not the final destination. The copy, design, and visuals should guide the visitor to their next step, or the call-to-action.

About Page

Customers, investors, candidates for hire, and even competitors might all use your about page to learn more information about your company. An about page typically includes a brief company history, mission or vision statement, executive leadership bios, and a few impactful client testimonials.

Blog Page

It’s no secret that blogging is a tried-and-true method to optimize a website for keywords related to a business. Rather than loading up several product pages for each individual keyword you want to rank for, a blog can serve as a more efficient way to weave storytelling, product mentions, and sign up links together in order to answer potential customer inquiries, solve problems, and pose your product or service as the preferred solution.

Contact Us Page

For many small businesses and freelancers, the contact us page serves as the lead-driver of a website. This is usually their bread-and-butter and how these businesses make money. Whether your business includes a contact form, a calendar scheduler, an appointment booking app, a phone number, or an email address, this is where future customers make the decision to get a hold of a representative of the business to learn more about the products and services.

How to Optimize A Web Page

The broad framework for optimizing your site for conversions is the same across your home page, About page, blog, and Contact Us page. There are two simple goals for every page, and the specifics of optimizing those pages will flow from these goals.

The first goal is all about the user, and the second is all about you. Here we go:

Provide information the user is looking for.

Remember, we’re focusing on the user. Why are they on the page to begin with? To answer this question effectively, let’s dive deeper into some facts we’ll want to know first:

  • Where did they come from? The idea here is to understand how the user got to your site, so you can deliver relevant content.
    • Did they come from a search engine? (If so, what did they search to find you?)
    • An email? (What kind of email? Who sent it?)
    • A referral on another website? (What site was it? How long has it been referring to your URL?)
  • What do they need to know? A single page can deliver a limited amount of information, so you need to determine what that information is going to be. You want them to know something so that they will do something (which is addressed in the next question). Remember: Less is more on a web page. The more information you load up on your main pages, the less likely the user is to remember any of it. Give them less, and they’re more likely to remember — and do — what you want them to.

Pro Tip: Use visuals such as explainer videos, diagrams, hero shots, and so on to help condense a lot of information to a single page. To get the most out of your visuals, make sure you correctly optimize your images and videos.

Once you answer the question of what the user’s looking for, you’re halfway there. That brings us to question two.

Identify a goal for the user once they find the information.

Now, you need to ask the user to do something. This is where most pages fall short. One of the critical components of a web page is its call-to-action (CTA), and many website owners don’t realize that every single page of a website should contain at least one CTA.

The point of a home page or product page isn’t for the user to visit and leave. The point of content marketing isn’t for user intake, but rather, for user marketing. If you retain only one thing from this article, let it be that every web page needs a CTA.

Why am I so insistent on this? Because every bit of knowledge you share on your website demands some response. So, what is it that you want the user to do? Visit another page on your site? Watch a video? Complete a form? Sign up for a free trial? Any or all of these can become your goal for the user, just make sure to give them one or two options per page that are clearly and starkly defined.

Web Page Optimization Examples

Example of an Optimized Website Home Page

HubSpot’s home page is well laid out and hosts a clear CTA, front and center. A user is on the HubSpot home page for a reason, and perhaps that reason is to grow their business. The headline speaks to the question “what am I looking for?” and the CTA buttons tell me, the user, what I’m supposed to do next.

HubSpot homepage optimized for conversions with a clear CTA

Now, let’s see what HubSpot has going on on the About page.

Example of an Optimized Website About Page

A user might click on the About page for a variety of reasons. A few might be:

  • They want to figure out what exactly the business does.
  • They want to work for the business.
  • They want to make sure the business is legitimate.
  • They want to see if the business serves a specific niche or location.
  • They want to analyze the business’s success.

I could go on and on. There are a ton of reasons that could bring a user here, but they all boil down to the desire for information. Let’s see what HubSpot does. Here is the company’s About page:

The user likely wants to know the information about the company, and in response, they can scroll the page to learn more about the mission, history, and products.

Along the way, the user will want more detailed information which means the CTAs will need to become more specific to help guide them to that info. The more granular and detailed the information, the more correspondingly detailed the CTA becomes. Halfway down the page, I see a video about the HubSpot story featuring CEO Brian Halligan.

There’s more. There’s a block of content about each HubSpot product including the CRM, each Hub, and integrations. I can click any of these to learn more about the ones that can help grow my business.

HubSpot About page continues featuring products and links to each one.

Finally, no matter how far I scroll down the page, the sticky header menu includes an orange CTA for me to Get HubSpot for free.

HubSpot about oage featuring a sticky header with a bold CTA

This is an example of an About page optimized to drive engagement, increase conversions, and enhance the brand. The page is as much about the user as it is about the company itself because along the way, the user is receiving value.

Example of an Optimized Website Blog Page

Even though the HubSpot blog is one of the most popular digital publications, there are still some practical applications you can use to optimize your own blog page if you have a smaller following. Although there are several articles a visitor can choose from across a variety of topics, you’ll notice specific CTAs that invite users to sign up for the blog newsletter, download a report, explore more topics, and finally, subscribe to their blog of interest.

HubSpot Blog page optimized for subscription and newsletter sign up conversions

Sprinkle the CTAs throughout your blog home page for a more natural approach. As readers scroll, you don’t want them to be bombarded with next steps, but you don’t want to leave them wondering what they should do next. Balance the user experience on your blog with a sticky header CTA and one or two primary CTAs.

Example of an Optimized Website Contact Us Page

Granted, HubSpot uses its contact page a bit differently than you might use yours. Whereas a contact page might be the end goal you want for your visitors, HubSpot optimizes product and landing pages to draw in leads and sign-ups for specific products it offers.

There’s still an opportunity for a potential customer to get into the sales pipeline from the contact page though. HubSpot includes a sales line, customer support, and a chatbot to get users to the best point of contact.

HubSpot website contact us page that is optimized for conversions using CTAs

For customers, new employees, or candidates interviewing with the company, they can find the addresses and phone numbers of the global offices. Similar to the other three pages, the stick header menu includes a CTA to sign up for HubSpot for free.

Tips for Optimizing Each Page

Now that you have a framework for optimizing your pages and a couple of examples, here are a few, more specific tips to help you optimize each of the four most important pages.

1. Home Page

  • Use a big headline and place the most important information front and center. A home page may allow for several different CTAs — make it easy for the user to choose by making CTA buttons large and easy to click.
  • Provide flow. Make it obvious where the user is supposed to go and what they are supposed to do next.
  • Make the Navigation Menu Clear. Oftentimes, a visitor uses the home page as a way of finding where on the site she wants to go. For this reason, you should make the navigation menu very clear.

2. About Page

  • Deliver the most important and relevant information above the fold. The user is on your About page for a reason — answer their question(s) without making them scroll.
  • Include at least one CTA. Remember, most people aren’t just looking for more information, they’re seeking a deeper level of engagement.

3. Blog

  • Organize information on your blog clearly, and make sure that information satisfies the reasons users might be on your blog. Most users will want to read the most recent articles, so provide these. You may also want to organize categories on the blog home page, such as “most recent,” “most popular,” or other forms of categorization.
  • Include CTAs that make it easy for the user to subscribe to the blog, download a free resource, and so on. Even though the user came to get information, you want them to get engaged and connected. (Click here for 8 types of CTAs you can try on your blog.)
  • Provide CTAs in the core design of your blog so they appear on each individual blog post. In my experience, most blog visitors land on individual blog articles through organic search, instead of landing on your blog’s “home” page. To get these users engaged, put CTAs on the sidebars, in the footer, and in other places. (Learn how to pick the perfect CTA for each blog post here.)

4. Contact Us Page

  • Put the information the user is looking for above the fold — an email address, phone number, contact form, map, mailing address, and so on. Of all four of these web pages, the Contact Us page implies the most detailed level of intent on the part of the user.
  • Use CTAs that allow the user to contact you easily (since, presumably, that’s why they came to your Contact Us page). Make the CTA really obvious, and engage them by gratifying their intent instantly, using CTA copy like ”Chat now” or “Email now”.

Ask the User to Act On Your Content

As a website owner, you’re in the business of not just disseminating information, but soliciting a response, too. To engage your visitors and boost conversions on your site, here’s how to optimize pages like a pro: Look at your most visited pages, understand the reason users are there, provide valuable information, and ask them for an action in return. Regardless of your most-visited pages or even the nature of your website, you can create more engaged users with this optimization framework. Try it out — use the checklist below to get started.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Use Instagram Insights (in 9 Easy Steps)

Data helps you understand your audience. It tells you how they do things, what they prefer, and who they are. You can certainly make business decisions based on gut feeling, but you’re much more likely to hit the mark when you can validate assumptions with cold, hard facts.

Data and analytics help you measure the impact of your marketing efforts across different channels to see if there’s something you need to do differently — like target a different audience, post at a certain time of day, or experiment with a new content format.

Social media isn’t any different than other aspects of your marketing in the sense that it can be measured and improved upon. That’s why you’ll be able to create a more effective Instagram strategy using Instagram Insights.

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Here are the analytics on this channel that marketers need to know and understand — and how to use them.

View Instagram Insights: Accounts Reached Page on Instagram

To use Instagram Insights, you must first have a business profile. If you’re already using a personal account, you can switch to a business profile. Here’s how to convert your account in a few simple steps.

1. Create a Facebook Business Profile for the same persona if you haven’t already.

An Instagram business profile will allow you to access additional features and tools to help you grow your audience. However, in order to set up an Instagram Business Profile, you’ll need to have a Facebook Page for your business. It’s through Facebook that you add payment credentials and more. Click here for instructions for setting up your Facebook Page if you don’t already have one.

2. Make sure your Instagram profile is public. Private profiles cannot be used as business ones.

You want to grow your audience and have your posts seen by Instagram users who are not familiar with your brand. For this reason, your Instagram profile will need to be made public before you convert it to an official Instagram Business Profile. Here are the steps:

Step One: Navigate to your profile and tap the hamburger icon in the top-right corner.

Convert Instagram to Business Profile: Tap Hamburger Menu

Step Two: Tap the gearshift wheel icon to access your Settings.

Convert Instagram to Business Profile: Gearshift Wheel Icon for Settings

Step Three: Select “Privacy.”

Convert Instagram to Business Profile: Privacy in Settings Menu

Step Four: Flip the toggle next to “Private Account” on.

Convert Instagram to Business Profile: Instagram Private Account Toggle

Your Instagram profile is now public.

3. Return to your Settings page and tap “Account.”

Return to your Settings page by clicking the hamburger icon and tapping the gearshift wheel icon. Alternatively, you can use the back button on your phone to get there.

Tap Account in the Settings menu.

Convert Instagram to Business Profile: Account in the Settings Menu

4. Select “Switch Account Type” and choose “Switch to Business Account.”

Convert Instagram to Business Profile: Switch to Business AccountBy choosing Switch to Business Account, you’re effectively converting your Instagram Profile into an Instagram Business Profile.

5. Follow Instagram’s prompts to set up your business profile.

You will be asked to review and change details about your business including business category, contact information, and more. You’ll also be prompted to select the Facebook Page you want to be associated with your profile (from Step 1).

6. Tap “Done.”

Once your set up as a Business Account, you can begin to use Instagram Insights. Here’s how to get started.

1. Open the hamburger menu and click “Insights.”

To view insights into your overall Instagram account, start by visiting your profile. Then, at the top, click the hamburger icon and select Insights from the menu.

View Instagram Insights: Navigating to Insights from the Instagram Menu

From there, you’ll reach the Recent Highlights page where you’ll see some general information about how people are engaging with your profile, like how many followers you gained or lost in the past week.

View Instagram Insights: Recent Highlights Page on Instagram

Next, we’ll get into the more specific profile insights you can explore.

2. Measure reach.

Click the Accounts Reached section. Reach reflects the number of unique users that have seen any of your Instagram posts.

View Instagram Insights: Accounts Reached Page on Instagram

Within this category, you’ll see insights for:

  • Impressions – How many times your posts were seen.
  • Account Activity – Profile visits, website taps, and other activity.
  • Top Posts – The posts that generated the most reach and engagement.
  • Top Stories – The Instagram Stories posts that generated the most reach and engagement.
  • Top IGTV Videos – The IGTV videos that generated the most reach and engagement.

Some of these insights can be expanded for more insights.

3. Track profile visits and followers.

On the Accounts Reached page under Account Activity, you’ll be able to see Profile Visits.

Profile Visits reflects the number of times your profile has been viewed.

4. Determine website clicks.

Website Taps can also be found under the Account Activity section. This insight reflects the number of times any links you’ve included in your business profile have been clicked.

5. Track content interactions.

Navigate back to Recent Highlights and tap Content Interactions. This will bring up a page that shows how your content is performing in terms of engagement, breaking down the metrics by content type.

View Instagram Insights: Content Interactions Page on Instagram

Likes speaks for itself, reflecting the number of users who liked your post. As with likes, Comments reflects the number of comments left on your post. Saves highlights the number of unique users or accounts who saved your post or clicked the bookmark-like icon that appeared below it in their feeds.

6. Track your followers.

Navigate back to Recent Highlights and click Total Followers. You’ll then reach the Follower Breakdown page.

View Instagram Insights: Follower Breakdown page on Instagram

This page reflects how many followers you’ve gained or lost over the past week, as well as the average times of day when your followers are using Instagram — data that can be highly beneficial when planning posts.

7. Learn which actions were taken on your post.

To view insights for a specific Instagram post, start by visiting your profile. Tap on the post you’d like to look into, then click View Insights below the image.

These insights indicate the number of actions that users took on your profile as a result of seeing your post — things like visiting your profile, then taking an action like clicking on your website link or following you.

View Instagram Insights: Instagram Insights Actions Feature

Source: Instagram

8. Use “Discovery” to see where your post showed up in feeds.

As the name might suggest, these insights indicate where your post was seen — or discovered — the most, including how many accounts weren’t already following you when they first saw the post.

This section includes metrics on Impressions, which reflect the number of times your post was discovered from a particular place within Instagram, like the user’s home feed, a search, your profile, a location tag, or a hashtag.

View Instagram Insights: Instagram Insights Discovery Feature

Source: Instagram

Discovery insights also include data on a post’s reach — which reflects the number of unique accounts that saw your post.

9. View Story insights.

Finally, Instagram users with a business profile are able to view insights into their ephemeral Stories.

To view your Story insights, navigate back to Insights and scroll down to Content You Shared section on the Recent Highlights page.

Scroll down to the Stories section, and you’ll be able to see insights for older stories, as well as any that have not yet expired.

Next, we’ll get into the more specific insights you can explore.

Impressions

This insight represents how many times your Story was seen.

When viewing these insights, keep in mind that you’re able to add multiple images or videos to your Story. When you do this, every piece of visual content in your Story is counted as a single photo or video in your post.

Let’s say you add six photos to your Story. Whether someone only views one or views all six, Instagram only counts your entire Story having received one impression.

The same goes for Story content that has been viewed by a single user more than once. Instagram still only counts that interaction as the entire Story having received one impression.

Reach

This insight reflects the number of unique users that have seen your Story.

Taps Forward

This insight reflects the number of times a user taps your Story photo or video to skip to the next piece of media.

Taps Back

This insight reflects the number of times a user taps your Story photo or video to go back to the previous piece of media.

Replies

This insight reflects the number of times users send messages through the Send Message text box on your Story.

Replies on Instagram Stories

Swipe Aways

This insight reflects the number of times users swipe to skip to the next account’s Story — not to be mistaken for “tap forward,” which reflects users skipping ahead to your next piece of Story media.

Exits

This insight reflects the number of times a user leaves the Stories section entirely to return to the home feed.

Measuring Your Effectiveness With Instagram Insights

Now that you know how to access data to inform your strategy with Instagram Insights, you can analyze that data and determine what’s working for your audience (and what’s not). From there, creating content that gets a ton of engagement will be a lot easier as you consider those benchmarks.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 but has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Use Pinterest to Promote Your Business or Blog [Free Templates]

When I was getting married, one of the main tools that helped me plan was Pinterest. In fact, that’s usually the number one place I go to when I’m planning a party.

However, Pinterest isn’t just used for event planning. You can use the social media platform as a way to market your business, drive traffic to your website, and increase sales.

I’m not the only one who goes to Pinterest when I need new ideas. In fact, more than 200 billion pins have been saved on Pinterest. And 90% of weekly Pinners make purchase decisions on Pinterest.

That’s why it’s important for businesses and marketers to be active on the platform. Read on to learn how you can use Pinterest to meet your business and marketing goals.

Free Resource: 12 Pinterest Templates for Business

Why Use Pinterest for Business?

As noted above, regular Pinterest users often leverage the platform to help inform their purchasing decisions. But that’s not the only reason to use Pinterest for Business.

Pinterest streamlines conversion.

Pinterest effectively operates as a massive, visual search engine filled with images tailored to specific user interests. As a result, if users are looking at your Pinterest page, chances are they’re already curious about what you’re selling — and are more likely to click through.

Pinterest boosts traffic.

Because each pin you make can contain a link back to your website, it’s easy for users to click through and boost your overall traffic, in turn raising your search engine rank.

The caveat? Great pin content is critical — if users aren’t inspired, they won’t click.

Pinterest engages users.

The core concept of Pinterest revolves around users creating and sharing pins of things they’re interested in with like-minded people — which means they’re already engaged when they log into the site. If your page aligns with their interests, they’re happy to visit your site, share your posts, and help boost your brand’s reach.

How to Set Up Your Pinterest for Business Account

If you’re new to Pinterest, then you’ll need to create a business account to get started. Don’t worry, this is a simple process as outlined below.

  1. Head to pinterest.com/business/create.
  2. Add your business name and website.
  3. Customize your profile.
  4. Claim your other accounts.

Let’s break down each step in more detail.

1. Head to pinterest.com/business/create.

Enter your email and a password and then select “Create Account” to get started. If you already have a personal Pinterest account, make sure you’re logged out.

Pinterest log in

2. Add your business name and website.

Next, Pinterest will ask for your business name, business type, and your website details. If your brand doesn’t fit into a listed category, don’t worry — just select “I’m not sure.”

Create an account pinterest

3. Customize your profile.

Next up is customizing your profile. Here you can add a profile picture, display name, user name, and information about your brand that will help Pinterest users find your board.

Pinterest customize profile

4. Claim your other accounts.

Last but not least? Claim your website name and any other accounts to ensure you get attribution and analytics for all of your content on Pinterest, even if you posted it before creating a Pinterest for Business account.

claim your account pinterest

Once your business account is set up, it’s time to start diving into the strategy of how you’re going to use your page to grow your business.

Is Pinterest for Business free?

Pinterest for Business is free, and it’s worth taking the time to make an account, since it allows you to directly link your brand with your Pinterest page to drive increased traffic and conversion.

With your business account set up, you’re ready to get started using Pinterest for Business. Here are six best practices to keep in mind:

1. Determine the type of content you want to post.

As with any social media site, it’s important to understand your target audience. What type of content do they want to see on Pinterest?

More importantly, think about the type of content that they’ll engage with. Is it infographics, tips and tricks, or perhaps blog posts? To find this out, do some research into the type of content they currently pin on their pages.

Additionally, make sure that you don’t sell yourself with every pin. You should share relevant and helpful information on your page as well. When you have a good idea of what your audience wants or needs to see, creating pins will be easier.

2. Consider your design.

Now that you know what you want to post, it’s important to consider what your images look like. Your designs should be pleasing to the eye and stand out in a sea of images on your audience’s page.

Additionally, your images need to follow your brand guidelines. If you don’t have a designer on hand, you can utilize tools like Canva to get started.

3. Optimize your pins.

When you’re ready to start posting on Pinterest, remember to optimize your pins. You might be wondering, “How do I optimize my pins?”

Use the following checklist to get started:

  • Include a URL (could be a link to a blog post)
  • Use keywords in titles, descriptions, and image file names
  • Create boards that are aligned with your keywords
  • Arrange your boards and choose a board cover image
  • Use hashtags
  • Add a call to action
  • Add a Pinterest widget to your site
  • Respond to follower comments
  • Follow popular boards and comment
  • Create a board dedicated to your blog posts

These tactics will help you grow your business with Pinterest and help your posts be discovered.

4. Learn about categories.

On Pinterest, you can assign each board to one of 36 categories. These categories help your pins become discovered.

For example, since I was interested in finding wedding ideas when I was engaged, most of the pins that showed up on my feed were pins that were tagged in the wedding category.

You can scroll through the categories and see which ones are related to your business. This could even help you come up with board ideas.

5. Use rich Pins.

Rich Pins offer a way to provide more information about pinned images. For example, the Product Pins subset of rich Pins lets you add pricing information, product details, and other data to help engage users and drive conversion.

6. Leverage Pinterest Lens.

Pinterest Lens is available as part of the platform’s mobile app on both Apple and Android devices. It allows users to take a picture of any object and discover similar items on Pinterest. For businesses, Pinterest offers a way to improve contextual marketing: Take a picture of your product, see what Pinterest returns and then leverage similar tags to help capture user interest.

Once you’ve thought about this strategy, it’s time to create your boards. If you blog, think about blog topics and create boards surrounding those topics.

Let’s dive a little deeper into how to use Pinterest for your blog.

1. Create infographics.

A great way to use Pinterest to promote your blog is through infographics. If you have blog posts centered around an infographic, post it on Pinterest.

Additionally, you can repurpose old blog posts into infographics. Pinterest is a great place to repurpose content and reach a new audience that might not have read your post.

2. Choose the best blogs to post.

You don’t need to promote every single blog post on your Pinterest. Instead, just choose the ones that make the most sense for the platform. For example, choose blogs that have engaging images, great downloadable offers, or have an infographic.

Additionally, think about your board topics. You should promote blogs that relate to your boards.

3. Customize your images.

When you create a pin, it’s important to use engaging, custom images. To promote a blog, you can use your featured image and include customized text.

For instance, many pins that promote blog posts include the title of the blog on the custom image. The title is a great way to draw people in and get them interested in your blog post.

4. Write an optimized pin description.

When you write the description for a pin promoting a blog post, it’s important to tell people what to expect in the post.

While you want to leave some mystery and pique their interest without giving away too much, they need to know what it’s about.

5. Engage with Pinners.

Pinterest is all about engagement and interest driven by images. To maximize your brand’s impact, you need to regularly engage with Pinners who follow your board.

This means regularly pinning new content, re-pinning great content from your followers, and taking the time to directly answer any questions asked on your blog by Pinterest users.

6. Use a sound SEO strategy.

As noted above, Pinterest is effectively a visual search engine — but just like a text-based search engine, keywords are critical. To ensure your pins get noticed, use solid SEO practices. Make your blog title the same as your board title, include relevant keywords for all of your blog posts and images descriptions, and make sure you’re also using keywords in any image “alt” tags.

Pinterest for Business Examples

So what makes a great Pinterest for Business board? Here are six standout examples.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot Pinterest board

HubSpot’s Pinterest page generates more than 4.5 million views per month and offers a host of great content to Pinners including infographic templates, content creation tips, and even career advice. It’s a one-stop shop for all things marketing.

2. Bossy

Bossy Pinterest Board

Bossy is a growing, female-founded beauty brand with a focus on attention-capturing, long-lasting lipsticks and a Pinterest page that showcases its commitment to diversity.

3. Ruggable

Ruggable Pinterest Board

Ruggable’s value proposition is simple: Washable rugs for any space. These rugs are changeable, durable, spill-proof, and easy to clean — so it’s no surprise that its Pinterest page generates more than 10 million views per month.

4. Etsy

Home Decor Pinterest Board

This custom-made market store has made significant market inroads and is now using Pinterest to showcase some of its most popular items. Looking for something unique? Something that makes a statement? Chances are you’ll find it on Etsy — and see it on Pinterest.

5. Bustle

Bustle Pinterest board

Bustle is on the leading edge of social zeitgeist, and has a Pinterest page to match. With a mix of celebrity content, human interest stories, recipes, and fashion advice, Bustle captures user attention immediately.

6. Asutra

Austra Pinterest Board

Committed to creating clean, accessibly-priced, wellness products, this women-owned and led brand has made the move to Pinterest and is already seeing almost 200,000 views per month.

Pin It to Win It

When it comes to marketing your business, Pinterest for Business offers a way for your brand to win market share and generate organic customer interest. The picture-driven nature of the site can help shift the conversion away from simple to conversion and instead inspire your audience to use your products and services in their lives — or just inspire them in general.

With a practical, step-by-step approach, it can be your products and services that users are pinning – and purchasing.

Pinterest Templates

The Beginner’s Guide to Brand Pillars

Although the practices of marketing and branding have been around for centuries, the industries started to shift in the 1990s.

The digital age came about and companies began to market their brands more than their products with the goal of giving their company a personality.

As a millennial born in the early 90s, I grew up at the same time as the digital revolution. In fact, millennials have a reputation for spending all day on their phones and being lazy.

However, I’d argue that as the digital age and technology began to evolve, so did society’s work expectations. Businesses, and even employees, are expected to be a brand in and of themselves that has value and positively impacts society (instead of just selling products).

As a marketer or business owner, you might be wondering, “How can I create a brand that my audience connects with?”

In this post, we’ll discuss how to create brand pillars that clearly communicate your brand identity to your audience.

For example, brand pillars can be core values, important strengths, or aspects of a brand that support or add dimension to the core idea of “Who are you?”

Essentially, these brand pillars can be anything that your customers find important — perhaps it’s innovation, reliability, on-time delivery, etc.

Brand pillars are meant to differentiate your brand and should be valued and endorsed by your customers. When someone asks why your customers like your brand, they’ll probably be able to list off your brand pillars if you’re clearly communicating your brand well.

These pillars should be decided on strategically to provide better products or services to your customers.

I know this might sound slightly conceptual. Brand pillars can be easier to understand when we break them down into categories.

Below, let’s learn about the five brand pillar categories you can use to determine your own brand pillars.

What are the five brand pillars?

The main brand pillars are purpose, perception, identity, values, and brand experience.

1. Purpose

Purpose can be described as the mission and foundation of your company. It will answer questions like “Why did you start your company?” and “What are you hoping to achieve?”

Think about this strategically. What do you want to communicate to your audience as your purpose? What do you want to communicate to employees or potential employees? Knowing your purpose will help you hire employees who align with your mission and correctly target your audience.

Purpose can even be described as the culture of your company. For example, at HubSpot, our culture is about growth-minded individuals who have HEART (they are humble, empathetic, adaptable, remarkable, and transparent). The acronym HEART is one of our brand pillars as a company.

2. Perception

Perception is about how your customers perceive your company/brand. You’ll want to either evaluate how current customers view your brand, or if you’re a new company, write down some characteristics that you’d like customers to associate with your brand.

This could be something like hospitality or leadership. If these are your perception brand pillars, then you want customers to view you as a leader in your industry that is a trusted, good host (this makes sense for a hotel, for example).

3. Identity

This brand pillar is about who you are as a brand. A brand is something you are, it’s not something you have. It’s all about your personality as a company.

For example, an identity brand pillar could be something like “cheeky” or “bold.” This means that you want customers to see you like a cheeky personality. The reason to define this brand pillar is so you have a guiding light for how to be human and interact with your customers.

4. Values

Your values are about communicating your overall position to your audience. What’s important to you as a company? How do you want to make a difference? This could be something like valuing integrity and ownership.

5. Brand Experience

Lastly, brand experience is a pillar that will help you promote your products and services. People use products and services when they like a brand. When there are so many options to choose from these days, customers will choose to buy from companies they like. This means you need to create a positive customer experience and association with your overall brand.

By using these brand pillars as a basis, you can create a brand identity that sets you apart from your competition. Companies that fail most likely haven’t considered what their brand pillars are and how they align.

If you have a robust strategy, but you don’t have a purpose or identity, people won’t feel compelled to purchase from you. On the other hand, if you promise that you value user experience, but the perception is off, then you also won’t find success.

In the next section, let’s review how you can use these categories to define your brand pillars.

How to Determine Your Brand Pillars

To determine your brand pillars, you should ask yourself a series of questions to come up with the top characteristics that you want to communicate to your audience.

Purpose

  • Why did you/are you starting your company?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How do you want to serve your customers?
  • What value do you offer to customers that support your mission and vision?

Your purpose should serve as a magnet for employees and customers who share similar values. It will also provide a hook to tell your company’s story and differentiate yourself from your competition.

Perception

  • What role do you play in your customer’s mind?
  • What do they perceive your value to be?

This pillar could be something like education. Perhaps people view you as a place they go to learn about your industry. This is completely owned by your audience and how they interpret your brand through messaging and reputation and management.

Identity

  • What’s your culture like?
  • What’s your point of view?
  • What kind of tone of voice do you use in communication?
  • What are your convictions and behaviors that define your brand?

Defining your voice and brand is about strategizing how you want to speak to your audience on several platforms. The brand personality signals what employees might be like, how they behave, who your customers are, etc.

Values

  • What’s important to you in your interaction with your audience?
  • What do you value above all else, even before your own financial interests?

Again, this pillar will help define what you care about as a company.

Brand Experience

  • How do customers interact with you at each touchpoint?
  • What kind of experience do you want customers to have?
  • What makes your customer experience better than your competitors?

This pillar will define much of your perceived personality and reputation.

When creating your brand pillars, think about what your customers get from you. Do they get convenience, higher quality, time savings, etc.?

To determine your brand pillars, think about your brand strategy and come up with things that clearly define your personality, voice, customer experience, your purpose, and how people will perceive your brand.

Brand Pillar Examples

1. Hilton Brand Pillars

Hilton’s brand pillars are very clearly stated on its website. They value hospitality, integrity, leadership, teamwork, ownership, and now (sense of urgency).

These are stated as their values, but they’re really brand pillars that showcase how the company wants to be perceived, what their identity is, what the customer experience is like, and what they value.

2. Patagonia Brand Pillars

Patagonia is a brand that has personality and purpose. Their mission is to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis (this is their purpose). Additionally, Patagonia offers a minimalistic style and values simplicity and utility (this is their personality and values).

3. Nike Brand Pillars

Since it was founded, Nike has been consistent in its brand pillars. They are all about competition and surpassing one’s limits. All the company’s advertising, messaging, and investment decisions support that personality and value.

Brand pillars are a great way to define and differentiate your company from the competition. It’s not just about making products anymore — it’s about having a voice and point of view that offers value to its customers.

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What Netflix Bingeing Taught Me About Digital Experience

Next time you open Netflix, I want you to try something.

When you see your tailored suggestions, as the platform starts the video right where you left off on your iPad, stop and take note of that experience.

How do these experiences actually make you feel?

Does the device handoff give you a rush of excitement and gratitude?

Probably not.

Start over. Imagine opening Netflix again.

Your recommendations are gone, replaced with an unfiltered list of content. The list feels random, but then you’d expect at least a couple of shows to be of random interest. They’re not. That episode you’re halfway through on your iPad? You’ll have to scroll back and forth to find your place. Ultimately, you’ll probably just rewatch parts of the episode “just to be safe”.  

Download Now: Digital Experience Audit [Free Workbook]

If you’re like me (my apologies if you are), you’ll react more to this moment of friction than the moment of seamless performance. The seamless experience is largely invisible — it’s unfelt — while the bad experience is impossible to ignore. Based on how bad it is, it’ll haunt you and sometimes make you question your life choices.

It may even push you toward Hulu or Disney +, or another platform that you trust more.

The same dynamic is at play for the digital experiences you deliver to customers.

2020 and 2021 accelerated digital transformation across industries, creating a new set of expectations in your customers’ personal and professional lives.

For them, being delighted isn’t a capstone to their experience as your customer; it’s the cornerstone your relationship is built on. Today’s buyers have more options, and disruptors are acquiring — and retaining — new business through the experience they provide their customers.

These new expectations present huge opportunities for those who are willing to rethink their digital experiences and a huge risk for those who are not.

So, why are so many businesses failing to meet these expectations?

Is it because they just don’t care about the customers’ experience? Sometimes — but not usually. A vast majority of businesses would love to deliver a delightful experience.

The reason they don’t is mostly because cobbled-together point solutions can’t deliver a clear view of the customer.

After all, scaling companies are in a constant state of adaptation. As new needs and opportunities arise, companies introduce a network of individual solutions that solve discrete problems: a CRM to manage customer data, a CMS to build their website, and marketing automation to scale their efforts.

Over time, as you add more solutions, your company’s tech stack grows so unwieldy it becomes a barrier between you and your customers instead of a bridge. It keeps you from the agile reporting you need and makes automation way more complicated than it should be. It makes personalization unreliable and messaging fragmented.

Since the dawn of the digital age, the status quo has been to rely on a separate CRM, CMS and automation tool. It’s what many marketing leaders have accepted as a necessary evil — despite the friction it causes for customers.

So, how do today’s companies win?

By delivering a best-in-class, unified digital experience that exceeds customer expectations. Doing this requires two foundational elements.

1. Information

Any marketing based on assumptions is doomed to failure. To get the digital experience right for every individual customer at scale requires reliable, organized and actionable data.

Not just ‘who are your customers?’ but ‘who is this customer?’ How and where have they interacted with you digitally? What do they need from you right now, and more importantly, what will they need from you next?

At HubSpot, we built the Customer Code with this philosophy in mind: Use the data you have access to, don’t abuse it. But in order to leverage the data you gather to create better digital experiences, all of your customer-facing teams need a single source of truth for that data — a key ingredient that’s beyond the reach of companies that still use cobbled-together solutions. That’s where centralization comes in.

2. Centralization

Providing a seamless experience across touchpoints is really a matter of shifting from ad hoc point solutions to a crafted, unified platform that provides a single view of the customer. When a CMS sits alongside key sales, services, and marketing tools in a centralized system, every customer-facing team knows how customers are interacting with their business and — more importantly — how they can help.

And this is the key: if you want your marketing, sales and service teams to deliver a great experience, you have to give them a fighting chance. You do this by having the systems and data they use aligned and unified.

For example, consider a repeat visitor to your pricing page. If both marketing and sales can see this activity, the marketing team can send a discount code or helpful resources that contextualize your pricing while sales can reach out to offer guidance or a product demo.

With this centralized platform and toolset, you can see and anticipate customer needs and take action immediately. You can tailor digital experiences on an individual level, across touchpoints, using the most up-to-date insights on customer needs, questions or interests — just like they expect you to.

The CRM for Today’s Customer Expectations

The answer to these business challenges isn’t just to use a CRM. You probably already have one of those. If you’re really unlucky, maybe even two. It probably doesn’t allow you to easily do any of what I just described, and it likely can’t deliver the seamless experiences your customers expect.

Instead, you need a CRM platform that has been designed specifically to meet today’s sky-high customer expectations; one that you can adapt to changing customer expectations, align your teams around, and adopt without an uphill change management battle. (And no, there are no change management battles that are downhill).

To pull off this digital experience at scale, you need to rethink the underlying components of the experience itself.

The customer-facing pieces — your website, email content, advertising, member portals — are front and center. But only touchpoints that are powered by a modern, purpose-built CRM provide the personalization and timeliness that distinguish an average digital interaction from an elite one.

And whether it’s Netflix, HubSpot or your corner cafe, delivering elite customer experiences is the key to navigating uncertain times, thriving in the digital-first era, and ultimately, growing better.

digital experience

How 3 New Facebook & Instagram Shopping Features Could Help Marketers Boost Sales

For years, millions of brands have flocked to Instagram and Facebook to spread awareness to millennials, Gen Z, and members of other generations on the app.

And, at this point, marketing on these platforms has proven to be a smart tactic. On Instagram alone, 90% of its 1 billion-plus users follows a Business page on the platform.

Now, with Facebook’s launches of Facebook Shops, Instagram Checkout, and Live Shopping in the last 12 months, many of the tiny remaining friction points between discovering and buying products on social media platforms have been eliminated.

In this blog post, I’ll highlight the newest free features that brands can use to make sales directly from Instagram’s or Facebook’s platform, as well as any brand requirements for using them.

Click here to access a month's worth of Instagram tips & free templates.

3 New Instagram Shopping Tools to Know About

1. Facebook Shops

Technically, this tool was launched by Facebook, which owns Instagram. However, your Instagram followers won’t need a Facebook account to make purchases with this feature.

Facebook Shops, launched in May, enables brands to create online stores that link directly to a brand’s Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, or Facebook Business Page.

When creating a free Shop, brands can upload bulk or individual product listings with photos, prices, and descriptions; change the store’s button colors and text to make it consistent with their brand; and choose to have visitors buy products directly from the shop or through an integration with an ecommerce website they already use.

Facebook Shops can be created on Facebook Commerce Manager. To get started, you’ll need admin privileges to the Instagram Business or Facebook Business account you’ll be linking the Shop to — as well as admin privileges for your brand’s Facebook catalog.

Once a Shop is created, it can be linked directly to your Instagram Business profile. When this is done, an icon that says “View shop” will appear on your mobile profile under your bio. At this point, you can access Facebook Shops on desktop from Facebook Business profiles, but not from Instagram or WhatsApp desktop sites.

Here’s what the Shop experience looks like when an Instagram app user visits the account of Ink Meets Paper, a printing company which offers a Facebook Shop:

Ink meets paper facebook shop link on instagrqam bioink meets paper facebook and instagram shop

Facebook Shops, which is free to all businesses that fulfill the business page requirements noted above, could be a great option for small or medium-sized businesses that are interested in ecommerce but don’t have the time or bandwidth to create and promote a full ecommerce site around their brand.

To learn more about how Facebook Shops works and the background of why Facebook launched it, check out this post.

2. Instagram Checkout

For brands that want to sell a few select products on Instagram, or don’t have time to create a Facebook Business Page or catalog to open a Shop, Instagram also now offers an in-app Checkout experience that links to Instagram Shoppable posts.

Before 2020, several brands were already using Shoppable posts. These posts, which often highlighted an image of a product or experience, allowed users to tap the content to view it in an online catalog outside of the platform.

Instagram shoppable post

But, in March, Instagram launched a Checkout feature that allowed Shoppable purchases to happen directly in the app.

In an announcement, Instagram explained that it launched in-app Checkout to keep users on the platform when they were inspired to make a purchase.

Instagram also adds, “Businesses can truly leverage the full ecosystem of Instagram Shopping features to build experiences that drive awareness and transactions all in one place.

Currently, Checkout is free to brands through until at least 2021. However, there might be selling fees for businesses after that.

“We also want to help reduce the cost of doing business during this tough economic time, so we’re waiving selling fees for businesses that use Checkout on Instagram through the end of the year,” Instagram’s post said.

Now, when users click on a Shoppable post that links to the Checkout feature for the first time, they’ll be asked to give their name, billing information, and shipping address and can then click “Place Order” directly on Instagram. To further eliminate friction, users can set the app to remember purchasing information so they don’t need to submit it each time they place orders.

Instagram shopping post and store

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At this point, you might be wondering, “How is this different from Facebook Shops?”

Both tools similarly allow consumers to make purchases directly on Instagram. However, a Shop is a mini-online store where you can purchase one of many products listed by one brand. Meanwhile, Checkout allows consumers to buy a product they happen to see on an Instagram Shoppable post within their feed or a brand’s profile page.

Additionally, to use the Checkout feature, you’ll need to fulfill the same requirements as Facebook Shops, plus approval for Instagram Shopping.

Checkout might be a good option for your brand if you want to dabble in internet sales but don’t want to monitor how multiple products are selling in a wider shop. With Checkout, you can choose to sell one or two products within a few posts, and monitor your content for engagements and sales metrics.

3. Instagram and Facebook Live Shopping

While the features above integrate with Instagram and Facebook to allow audiences to buy products from posts or pre-published stories, Facebook has also unveiled live shopping features for both of its platforms.

Instagram Live Shopping

Aside from adding Checkout to posts within a feed, Instagram Live Shopping, the first live shopping feature launched by a Facebook-owned brand, brings a similar purchasing experience to live content streamed on the app.

Essentially, Instagram Live Shopping lets brands or Instagram influencers present a small CTA for a product at the bottom of an Instagram Live stream. Below is an example where an influencer discusses a product live as its Checkout CTA is highlighted at the bottom of the screen:

Instagram live shopping content

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When an Instagram Live viewer sees the Checkout CTA and clicks “Add to Bag,” they can either save the order for later if they want to continue watching the stream, or they can purchase the product immediately via Checkout.

If a user places a product in their Instagram Bag, they can find it by going to the app’s Explore tab and tapping “Shop” in the top navigation. Fram the  Shop page, they can then tap the bag icon in the upper right corner to see carted products:

Instagram shopping tab of app

Because users who purchase items via Instagram Live Shopping will be directed to Instagram Checkout to finalize the purchase, brands will need to gain access to Instagram Checkout before using Live Shopping.

Facebook Live Shopping

If your audience is primarily on Facebook, you can also leverage Facebook’s new live shopping feature — which was unveiled in spring of 2021. 

Facebook Live Shopping feature

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Like Instagram Live Shopping, this feature allows audiences viewing Facebook Live streams to see related products pop up. From there, the user can click the pop-up to buy those products while still watching Facebook Live videos. 

The process of promoting your products during a Facebook Live stream is similar to promoting in Instagram:

  • First, you’ll need to start a Facebook Shop for audiences to buy seamlessly through Facebook Live. 
  • Once your shop is all set, go to create a Live video for your Facebook account and click the Live Shopping tab, and toggle on “Enable Live Shopping.”
  • Once you’re live with shopping enabled, you can click or tap a button that says “Products from Shop” and select the products you’d like to feature as you’re recording. 

For those getting used to Facebook or Instagram Live Shopping, Facebook offers a helpful list of best practices for streaming on its website. These tips include rehearsing with a private live event, repeating key information about the products, saving the live feed to your timeline, and following up with people who shared comments on your feed after you’ve recorded.

What to Keep in Mind When Selling Products on Instagram

At this point, you might be ready to sell your brand’s products using Instagram’s in-app shopping features. However, as you would with any new marketing or selling technique, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind:

Your content strategy is still key.

While it might sound tempting to blast your followers with posts filled with product shots or basic promotional messaging, and hope that users click the Checkout button immediately, some audiences might not respond well to content that feels like a basic advertisement.

Remember, social media users see ads with product shots and bland descriptions daily. If your content doesn’t stand out above all the other promotional posts out there, your audiences might disengage from you, even if they like your brand.

Rather than posting basic images or videos of products linked to Checkout, consider going a step further. For example, you could air a live stream tutorial where an influencer discusses your product, or publish user-generated content such as customer testimonials. These types of content will show audiences more valuable details than a basic product shot, while also presenting how real people benefit your product. This could persuade them to click and buy your items much faster.

You’ll want to pick the right feature for your company.

While Shops will allow customers to buy a bunch of different products from you all at once, Checkout and Instagram Live Shopping allow you to zone in on specific items or services through your content. While Facebook Shops might be great for brands that can deliver multiple products at once and handle potential high demand, Checkout and Live Shopping could be beneficial for smaller businesses that are more comfortable highlighting one standalone product at a time.

Additionally, if you have a killer supply chain, tons of products to sell, and no time to make content, a Facebook Shop could help you move your inventory. Meanwhile, if you have a great content team, but only have a few key products to sell, you might want to create solid product marketing content paired with Instagram Checkout.

You’ll want to monitor your metrics, including revenue.

Although brands don’t need to pay for Facebook Shops, Checkout, or Live Shopping, time and effort will still go into creating and maintaining a Shop or content that highlights items sold in Checkout. Because of this, you’ll want to monitor the money and engagement-related metrics of each strategy you take on. While these metrics can help you learn what to do, and what not to do, they can also help you determine if these features are worth your team’s time.

If you’re considering an ecommerce strategy on Instagram or another online platform and don’t know where to start in your planning, bookmark our Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce. If you’re interested in learning how other brands shifted to ecommerce in 2020, check out this piece.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published December 2020, but was updated in June 2021 to add new information about Facebook and Instagram features.

30 days of instagram

13 of the Most (& Least) Successful Brand Extensions to Inspire Your Own

I was in awe of Hailee Steinfeld’s performance after watching her in The Edge of Seventeen. Her performance was so good that it earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

But what amazes me about Steinfeld isn’t her acting prowess. It’s that she’s also just as accomplished as a singer. Steinfeld has collaborated with some of the most famous musicians like Zedd, Florida Georgia Line, and Alesso to produce three hit songs that have all reached the Billboard Hot 100 record chart.

Although Steinfeld is mainly known for her acting chops, her singing abilities bolster her esteem as a performer and stretch her brand to more audiences and fans. And just like her venture into music, companies often extend their brand to develop new products in industries where they don’t have any market share.

These initiatives are called brand extensions, and they allow companies to leverage their brand awareness and equity to create more revenue streams.

In this article, you’ll learn more about what a brand extension is and see examples of extension ideas that could inspire you.

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What is a brand extension?

Brand extension is a marketing strategy that involves a company using its well-established brand name or image to introduce a new product or product categories to its customer base.

This strategy works best when the new product category is related to its parent category and is something consumers and customers want.

Many companies use brand extensions because it allows them to leverage their parent brand’s brand awareness and authority to reach new demographics and open up new sales channels.

One company that does brand extensions well is Apple.

Although Apple started as a technology company that makes only computers (Macs), it soon extended its product line to include music players (iPods), mobile devices (iPhones), and tech accessories (Apple Watch and Earpods). Even though all these new products are different, the extension works because Apple didn’t drift too far from its parent product category. Instead, it leveraged its brand name to make penetrating the market a success.

What are the types of brand extensions?

Depending on the type of customers you have and what you want to achieve as a brand, you need to decide which brand extension strategy is right for your company.

Here are five different extension strategies that could work for you.

Line Extension

A line extension is when a parent brand launches a new product line in a category already familiar with its customers. With a line extension, brands don’t have to create new categories.

An excellent example of a line extension is when soft drink companies introduce new flavors to their existing drink lineup. Other examples could include introducing new scents, sizes, and colors to a product line.

Complementary Product Extension

Another way an established brand can extend itself is by creating complementary products for its main products.

For example, Nike, a sports brand, creates various equipment, wears, and other sport-related products that complement each other. We’ve also seen toothpaste companies use this type of extension for their original brand by adding toothbrushes and other oral care products as new categories.

Customer Base Extension

A company can create a branding extension for itself by launching different product categories for a single demographic.

Procter & Gamble (P&G), for example, does this well with the Pampers brand. Although P&G specializes in various products, the Pampers line focuses on making products like diapers and wipes for babies.

Company Authority Extension

Companies with high levels of authority in their sector can leverage this authority to create new products.

For instance, Samsung has a huge brand name in the technology space that allows them to launch different products in related categories with a measure of success. And because of its brand image, most consumers wouldn’t mind using a new product, whether it’s an air conditioner or a mobile phone.

Brand Lifestyle Extension

Who would have thought a tequila line from an energy company would sell out within a few hours? Well, Tesla did it. And it was primarily due to the personality and lifestyle of its CEO, Elon Musk.

However, Elon and Tesla are not the only ones to use a celebrity’s lifestyle to extend an existing brand. Other instances include Adidas/Kanye West’s Yeezy lineup and Fenty (a brand under LVMH) with Rihanna.

What separates the best brand extensions from the worst?

Historically, the most successful brand extensions are the ones that closely tie to the company’s core brand or flagship product, like Gerber’s baby clothes and Dole’s frozen fruit bars. By entering tangential markets that can preserve their brand’s unique associations and perceived quality, companies can launch new products that consumers intuitively understand the benefits of, even though they’ve never seen them on a shelf.

On the flip side, a company can also exploit its brand and, in turn, ruin it.

Developing a new product in a market that isn’t closely tied to your flagship product or core brand, like what Zippo did with its women’s perfume, could cause some problems.

It could result in undesirable associations to your brand and weaken its existing associations and hurt your established products’ perceived quality.

So whether you’re a SaaS company or a consumer brand thinking about extending your product line, check out our list of the most and least successful brand extensions to help inspire your own.

Examples of Good Brand Extensions

1. Reese’s Puffs Cereal

Reese's Brand Extension -- Cereal

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Reese’s Puffs was my favorite cereal growing up, so I might be a little biased here. But with all the chocolate-flavored cereal around in the mid-90s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup’s entrance into the cereal market was smart and natural.

Today, with some ad campaigns highlighting how kids can eat their favorite candy for breakfast, Reese’s Puffs has helped General Mills, its conglomerate, capture the second-biggest slice of the cold cereal market share.

2. Food Network’s Kitchen Items

Food Network Kitchen Items Brand Extension

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With an audience of over 13 million people, Food Network remains one of the world’s biggest TV channels.

Considering that many people were interested in what it does, Food Network saw an opportunity to extend its brand by partnering with Kohl’s Corporation to launch its kitchen and cookware products.

The partnership was a success because Food Network served a specific audience with what they needed.

3.Gillette’s Razors & Shaving Supplies

Gilletes Razors BRand ExtensionImage Source

Gillette’s extension into making shaving products alongside its safety razor blades was a smart move. Why? It’s hard to imagine someone shaving without using shaving cream, foam, or gel?

It was almost a necessity for Gillette to produce this complementary good for its flagship product.

4. Star Wars Action Figures

Star Wars Action Figure Brand ExtensionImage Source

Although Star Wars was popular among adults when the movie was first released in 1977, many children didn’t like it as much.

So how did the franchise become popular today? The Star Wars brand extended into the toy market. With action figures from characters in the movies, Star Wars was able to attract a new audience, build brand awareness and make a ton of sales in the process.

5. Colgate’s Toothbrush

Colgate Brand ExtensionImage Source

Just like Gillette’s razors and shaving products, Colgate’s toothpaste and toothbrush are complementary goods. But unlike the former example, you literally need a toothbrush to use toothpaste. Otherwise, you can’t brush your teeth.

In my opinion, Colgate’s decision to enter the toothbrush market was a necessity and one of its best moves, helping it secure the third-largest slice of the oral care market.

6. Honda’s Lawn Mowers

Honda Lawn Mower Image Source

Honda’s line of lawnmowers might not elicit the most enjoyable memories of my childhood. Still, its entrance and success in a saturated market speak volumes for a company primarily known for selling cars.

By leveraging its expertise in small motors to enter the lawn mower market in 1978, it now boasts the seventh-largest slice of market share in the global lawn mower industry.

7. Sunkist’s Vitamin C Tablets

Sunkist Brand Extension

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Featuring orange juice as its flagship product, Sunkist’s brand has associations with oranges, health, and energy. Sunkist produced vitamin C tablets that spawned an entire arm of business dedicated to vitamins and supplements to both bolster and leverage this association simultaneously.

Examples of Unsuccessful Brand Extensions

Not every brand extension can be a hit. Here are a few examples of brands that have made brand extension mistakes — and the lessons you can learn from them.

8. Cadbury’s Instant Mashed Potatoes

Cadbury Brand ExtensionImage Source

Cadbury is known for making high-end chocolate and candy. When it started producing low-end food products, like instant mashed potatoes, it’s not surprising to learn that its association with the finest chocolates weakened.

Smash, its instant mashed potato brand, actually reached mainstream success, but it was at the expense of lowering its flagship product’s perceived quality. Cadbury eventually sold Smash in 1986, over 20 years after introducing its instant mashed potatoes to the world.

9. Levi’s Tailored Classics

Levis Brand ExtensionImage Source

When Levi’s introduced Tailored Classics in the early 1980s, it already owned a large share of its target market, so it wanted to enter some new markets to sustain its high growth rate.

One of these markets was men’s suits, but since its brand was heavily associated with a casual, rugged, and outdoorsy lifestyle, Levi’s new product line conflicted with its core identity and failed to catch on.

Consumers trusted Levi’s to produce durable clothing that could endure the wrath of mother nature, but, for that very reason, they didn’t trust them to deliver high-end tailored suits.

10. Pillsbury’s Frozen Microwave Popcorn

PillsBury Brand ExtensionImage Source

Even though Pillsbury is known for producing foodstuffs, its frozen microwave popcorn couldn’t compete with Orville Redenbacher or General Mills’ Pop Secret because its product positioning of being “frozen for freshness” didn’t offer enough value. Sure, sticking your popcorn in the freezer is convenient (I guess), but that benefit pales in comparison to enjoying a better-tasting popcorn.

11. Samsonite’s Outerwear

Samsonite Brand Extension

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While Samsonite’s outwear is more fashionable than Levi’s Tailored Classics, it still suffers from the same problem as Levi’s failed product line the brand extension doesn’t align with Samsonite’s core identity.

Samsonite is known for making high-end luggage, suitcases, and business bags. So unless it thinks its flagship product’s elegant traits can transfer to a completely unrelated product line, its venture into the clothing industry could diminish its brand equity. This is most likely the reason Samsonite doesn’t list outerwear on its website anymore.

12. Arm & Hammer’s Underarm Deodorant Spray

Arm n Hammer Brand Extension

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Arm & Hammer has successfully extended its brand from an odor-neutralizing baking soda to laundry detergent, carpet deodorizer, and even cat litter. But one product line that isn’t the best fit for its brand is an underarm deodorant spray. Applying a product that shares an ingredient with heavy-duty cleaning supplies to such a sensitive part of the body doesn’t jive well with consumers.

13. Colgate Kitchen Entrees

Colgate Brand Extension

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Although Colgate did well by extending its brand and creating different oral care products, it failed to enter the food space.

This brand extension was a failure mainly because selling frozen food was in sharp contrast with Colgate’s brand identity. Since its audience already associated the brand name with dental care, it was hard for them to see the company differently.

Grow Your Brand

While a brand extension has its benefits, you also need to know that extending your brand into unchartered waters would also come with challenges.

So before you implement any extension strategy for your business, ensure it’s in line with what your ideal consumer wants.

Does it make any logical sense to start marketing a new product to my customers? What benefit would a consumer derive from this new brand or product? Have I done enough research to know how a brand extension would affect my original brand?

Once you answer those questions, then you can start thinking about effective ways to grow your brand.

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Here’s How to Add a Link to Your Instagram Story [Pro Tip]

More than 500 million accounts use Instagram’s Stories feature, and one-third of Instagram’s most-viewed Stories are created by brands (Instagram). It’s clear that this feature has resonated with Instagram’s base, and businesses can leverage it to drive awareness and engagement with their audiences.

But with all of that comes the question: How can brands use Stories to their fullest advantage, in the effort of driving traffic and conversions for their businesses? It starts with knowing how to add links to Instagram Stories with the Swipe Up feature so you can promote your website. Let’s dive into that now.

New Data: Instagram Engagement Report [2021 Version]

You’ll be able to post exciting content regarding a new product, service, or event, and then encourage your audience to “swipe up for details.” This gives brands a low-friction way to drive traffic from the Instagram platform, and it allows users to more seemlessly interact with brands directly from those brands’ Stories.

Who can use Swipe Up on Instagram?

The Swipe Up feature is intended for brands and Instagram users, so Instagram limits availability to those who fit three criteria: You must have a business profile, it must be a verified account, and you must have at least 10,000 followers.

If you meet this criteria, continue reading to learn how to add a link to your Instagram story. If you don’t meet the criteria, click here to find out your alternative options.

1. Check that you have 10,000 followers or a verified account.

You won’t be able to follow the steps below if you don’t.

I used HubSpot’s official Instagram account for these instructions, since my personal account isn’t verified (I also, you’ll be surprised to hear, don’t have 10,000 followers … ).

2. When uploading to your Instagram Story, click the icon at the top right that looks like a chain.

Add a Link to Instagram Story: Click Chain Icon

3. Click “+URL” to add a link to a web page.

This will allow you to designate which link to add to your Story. If you were interested in linking your Story to your IGTV video, you could choose that option instead.

Add Link to Instagram Story: Click +URL

4. Type the URL into the text box.

This will be the page that the user gets directed to when they swipe up on your Story. You’ll want to copy it into the text box labeled “URL.”

Add Link to Instagram Story: Designate URL

5. Click “Done” in the top right of the screen.

From there you’ll be prompted to go through the process of publishing your Story.

6. When you’re ready to publish, click the “+ Story” button at the bottom right.

Now, your published Story has a “See More” Swipe Up link.

Add Link to Instagram Story: See More Swipe Up Link

How to Add a Link to Instagram If You Don’t Have 10K Followers

If you want to promote products off of the platform, you may have to get a little creative to do it. Here are your options:

1. Directing your audience to an IGTV video.

IGTV (Instagram TV) is an app that allows you to create Instagram videos with a minimum length of 1 minute and a maximum length of 15 minutes (via mobile) or 60 minutes (via web). Unlike regular Instagram posts and Stories, however, IGTV allows you to add clickable links to the video description.

While Stories get more attention than IGTV videos, one tactic you can use is creating a Story that promotes the IGTV video with your link. This will allow you to get some level of click-through from your Story.

2. Directing your audience to the link in your bio.

Instagram also allows you to drop a link in your profile bio. In many cases, this real estate is best used to list the homepage of your website. However, if you want to drive traffic to a particular page, you could conceivably add the promo link and then include “link in bio” language in your Instagram Story to direct people there.

The main downside, however, is that you wouldn’t be able to promote multiple links at once, so you’d have to coordinate the link you place in your bio to match the content you’re currently creating.

Both of these methods may result in lower conversions because of the extra steps the user has to take in order to access the links. However, they’re both excellent ways to earn traffic from Instagram as you build your audience to 10,000 followers.

Instagram Swipe Up Link Examples

1. @Detoxinista Recipes

Food bloggers such as @Detoxinista use Instagram Stories’ Swipe Up link to embed recipes on the platform. They wisely post images of delicious-looking food, which incentivizes users to swipe up to learn how to make it themselves. The link isn’t a direct advertisement, but users are directed to Detoxinista’s website, where they can find her cookbook and become familiar with her brand.

Swipe Up Link Example: Detoxinista

2. @Blavity #worldnotobaccoday

Blavity is a media company “created by and for Black millennials.” They provide their audience with news, editorial, and lifestyle content that informs and entertains. In a recent campaign with L.A. Quits, Blavity promoted World No Tobacco Day to raise awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. You’ll notice the “Swipe Up” call-to-action on the left. By doing so, users are directed to the L.A. Quits website where they can get resources for living a healthier tobacco-free life.

Swipe Up Link Example: Blavity

3. @Alifedotowsky Clothing Items

If you’re a Bachelorette fan, you might’ve noticed the growing trend among Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants to become product influencers and embed Swipe Up links in their Stories. As a fashion and style blogger, Ali often takes pictures or videos of outfits she’s wearing, with Swipe Up links so users can buy the items online. She also often incorporates discounts if users swipe up, further incentivizing a user to purchase an item from a brand’s website.

Swipe Up Link Example: Alifedotowsky

4. @Popsugarfitness Summer Sculpt Series

One of the most effective ways to use the Swipe Up feature is to offer your followers something of value, for free. @Popsugarfitness, for instance, introduced a Summer Sculpt series with a tempting offer — “Swipe Up for a 10-Minute No-Equipment Booty-Shaping Workout”. Who could say no to that? Ideally, as users obtain more value from your site, they’ll spend longer on it and become stronger brand advocates.

Swipe Up Link Example: PopSugarFitness

5. @TheLipBar Cosmetics

The Lip Bar is a beauty brand that creates inclusive, vegan, and cruelty-free cosmetics products ranging from lipstick to tinted moisturizer. In this Instagram Story, The Lip Bar is promoting their summer sale with the tagline “Are ya’ll ready for summer?” By swiping up on the Story, you can view one of their promoted products.

Swipe Up Link Example: The Lip Bar

6. @Reebok Be More Human Campaign

Reebok created a powerful and timely campaign called “Be More Human”, celebrating women’s empowerment through fitness. On their Instagram Stories, they raise awareness for the campaign by showing famous women like Gigi Hadid or Danai Gurira, and when you swipe up, you learn more about Reebok’s campaign and how you can get involved. On the site there are opportunities to purchase t-shirts or donate money, but it’s evident Reebok is committed to staying focused on their messaging above all else, a noble pursuit.

Swipe Up Link Example: Reebok

Driving Traffic from Instagram

Instagram is a thriving platform, one that your customers are likely on. It only makes sense to use these tactics as well as other Instagram strategies to build awareness for your brand and grow your business.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

instagram statistics

How to Build a Website: 2 Methods, 9 Easy Steps, & 35 Amazing Tips

Studies show that 76% of consumers research a business online before visiting in person. That means having a website is as necessary for companies today as having a phone number.

Maybe you’re starting a new business venture or developing your personal brand. Or, maybe you’re looking to update your company’s outdated website. Whatever the case, creating a new website can feel overwhelming, particularly without technical expertise or a budget for web developers.

We’ve put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating a website. Best of all, you won’t need a coder, web designer, or big budget to create one — you’ll just need to follow the steps below.

Learn More About HubSpot's CMS Software

In general, you’ll carry out these steps before launching your site. But before you get started, you’ll need to choose a platform.

We’ll walk you through the two options you have: a website builder or a content management system (CMS).

Start Building Your Website By Choosing a Platform

The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you want to create a website using a website builder or a CMS.

Let’s take a look at the definitions of each below.

Website Builder Content Management System (CMS)

A website builder is a solution that offers domain names, SSL certificates, and templates in one package, typically at a monthly or yearly subscription fee.

A content management system is a platform where you place your website’s content and media files. Domain names, SSL certificates, and hosting is typically purchased separately.

Both website builders and CMS platforms provide the out-of-the-box features, pre-designed templates, and extensions required to create a custom site without coding, but they offer different experiences for creating and managing a website. Below, we cover some of the differences you should consider before making a choice.

Website Builders vs. Content Management Systems

Website Builders CMS Platforms
  • Domain registration, hosting, and SSL certificate included
  • In-house templates and themes included (typically less variety)
  • Monthly subscription with free trials available
  • Limited customization
  • Less powerful in functionalities and features
  • Great option for beginners
  • Domain registration, hosting, and SSL certificate must be purchased separately
  • In-house and third-party templates and themes available (typically more variety)
  • Free CMS platforms available
  • Highly customizable down to the website code
  • More powerful in functionalities and features
  • Great option for sites with growth potential

Website builders provide everything you need to launch a site. You get website building tools, hosting, domain registration, SSL certification, templates, and support in one place, often for a low monthly rate.

This ease of use and pricing appeals to many site owners; however, free website builders, as well as the more expensive alternatives, tend to be limited in flexibility. For example, you can’t add your own custom code, or drag and drop elements anywhere on your posts and pages.

If you want more control over the functionality and appearance of your site, use a CMS. A CMS will provide the content management features, advanced functionality, and customization options required to build larger, more complex sites.

If you decide that a CMS is the best option for your business, consider the software, ease of use, customizability, security, and pricing of different platforms to narrow down your selection. 

Let’s look at some examples of both website builders and CMS platforms you could potentially use. 

Website builder examples cms systems examples
  • Wix
  • WordPress.com
  • Squarespace
  • Weebly
  • Site123
  • GoDaddy
  • Webflow
  • CMS Hub
  • WordPress.org
  • Adobe Experience Manager
  • Magento
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Sitecore

Here are some resources comparing some CMS systems with popular website builders:

Below, we’ll walk you through the steps to build a website using both a website builder and a CMS.

How to Build a Website with a Website Builder

Have you decided that you’d like to use a website builder? Excellent! This is the easiest way to start for most beginners.

You won’t need to know how to code, and everything you need is typically included in one convenient package — so if you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a hosting service, domain name, and SSL certificate, this is the option for you. Let’s go through the process of creating your site using a website builder.

1. Choose a website builder.

First up, choose a website builder that fits your needs and budget. You’ll need to consider the following:

  • Cost: Your budget will be by far the most important factor when choosing a website builder. Most require a paid subscription to include premium features such as domain names and increased storage.
  • Features: Website builders typically offer different features depending on their target market. Shopify, for example, is specifically designed for ecommerce websites, while WordPress.com is primarily known for blogging.
  • Extensions: Check out the extensions and add-ons library for each website builder you’re considering. If they don’t offer something you need for your site, skip that builder.
  • Themes and Templates: Some website builders provide more themes and templates, while others provide less variety but more well-designed choices. Check out the template library so you can see what your site could potentially look like once it’s finished.
  • Ease-of-use: All website builders are designed to be easy to use: simply sign up on the platform and start building. But some are more intuitive than others. Play around with different builders to find out which one you prefer.
  • Support: Is the website builder’s support team known for its responsiveness? Do some research beforehand to ensure the premium subscription will also get you premium support.

No matter what, you’ll want to start with a free trial — that way, you can give the platform a test run before committing. While most website builders come with a free subscription tier, it doesn’t offer a free domain name or the features you need to build a strong website. Our recommendation is to opt for a paid subscription once you’ve decided on a platform.

Below, we break down some of the most popular website builders you could choose.

Website Builder Plans Good Fit For:
WordPress.com $4 to $8/month Blogs
Wix $14 to $39/month General Websites
Weebly $6 to $26/month General Websites
Shopify $29 to $299/month Ecommerce Stores
Squarespace $12 to $40/month Creative Websites

Here are a few more resources to help you choose a website builder:

And here are some posts listing alternatives:

2. Sign up for a subscription plan that meets your budgets and needs.

As we mentioned above, you won’t want to go for a free plan because those typically don’t include enough features to launch a professional website. You’ll want to upgrade, but you’ll need to take a close look at the features included in each tier to choose the right subscription for you.

Consider the following questions before choosing a subscription plan:

  • How much storage will you need?
  • Do you want ads to be removed from your site?
  • Will you be setting up an online store?
  • Will you want a professional email with your domain name?
  • Will you want to customize the site using CSS and HTML?
  • How much support do you expect you’ll need?

Here’s an example of a feature comparison chart from Weebly’s pricing page:

Weebly page builder plan comparisonMost website builders have a pricing page that lays out the differences between plans in an easy-to-scan list. The best part is that you can start with the simplest subscription, then upgrade as you require more features and functionalities.

3. Choose a short and catchy domain name.

Some website builders offer a free subdomain for your site, but you’ll want to upgrade to a paid subscription to get a custom domain.

A custom domain name is one of the easiest ways to appear more professional and legitimate as a company. Imagine you were looking for a freelance writer. Are you more likely to hire me if my website address is carolineforsey.weebly.com or carolineforsey.com? An extension like “weebly.com” can confuse visitors and dilute your brand identity. Worst case scenario: a visitor might assume you can’t afford a premium hosting service or custom domain, and draw conclusions that your business is not fully established.

The good news is that after you upgrade, your premium website builder subscription will include a domain name for free, at least for the first year. You’ll be able to choose it as you’re setting up the site, or do it later.

When choosing a domain name, pick something short and descriptive. The .com top-level domain will work for most websites, but if you’re planning on launching an organization, you can also consider the .org domain.

Domain names are a surprisingly complicated art — you must choose something memorable that doesn’t yet exist. As you make your choice, avoid the following:

  • Including dashes
  • Using numbers
  • Using a trademarked name

Before signing up on your website builder platform, consider looking up available domain names using a service such as GoDaddy. That way, you can make sure the domain you want is available before you pay for a subscription on the website builder platform.

Here are some more resources for picking the perfect domain name.

4. Pick a premade website template.

During your setup process, the website builder will take you to a template library, where you can choose a premade layout to set up your site.

Squarespace lists its templates publicly so you can get a taste of the websites you can set up using its services.

Squarespace website builder template library

Image Source

Most website builders will create a different template depending on the type of business or brand you run. For instance, you can choose a template that’s specifically made for:

  • Freelancers
  • Bloggers
  • Local Businesses
  • Creatives
  • Resume Websites

Every template should have essential features such as a built-in responsive setting and drag-and-drop page editor. Your website builder should also allow you to import demo data, so that you only have to replace the images and text and not tinker with anything else during the setup process.

5. Customize the template.

You don’t want your site to look like anyone else’s, so you’ll need to customize the template to your liking.

On most platforms, you’ll be able to change the color palette, replace the images, insert social media icons, add personalized forms and menus, and change the size, colors, and fonts of buttons.

Have fun, and don’t forget to use your brand colors. This will be the best part of building your website: making it look like you want it to.

6. Add pages to the site.

Next, it’s time to add pages to your site. You’ll need to create, at a minimum:

  • A home page
  • An about page
  • A contact us page
  • A services page, if you’re offering any
  • A product page, if you’re selling any
  • A blog page

You’ll also want to create specific service pages. For instance, if you’re selling “Digital Marketing Services,” you’ll want to create pages titled “Social Media Marketing Packages” and “Search Engine Marketing Services” under the digital marketing services umbrella.

Our top suggestion would be to put the topic of your page — or your target keyword — in the title of these new pages. Instead of having a page titled “Services,” you would title it “Digital Marketing Services.” You’ll want to do the same thing for your home page. You don’t want it to be titled “Home.” Instead, title it “Freelance Digital Marketing Specialist – Your Name.”

Your title shows up in the search results, so it plays an important role in telling visitors what you do.

Website page title example in search results

Here are more resources on creating great page titles:

7. Write optimized content.

This is arguably the most important step. Now that you have your pages set up, what will you put on them?

It’s time to write optimized content to put on all of the pages you’ve created. Get content ideas from your competitors, and don’t forget to aim for at least 800 words per page. Remember, however, that you can always come back later to write more content. So if you have to write short pages at first, it’s totally fine. Set a date for when you’ll return and add more copy.

Write your content in an editor such as Google Docs and use a grammar checker such as Grammarly to ensure your copy is error-free. When you upload images, be sure to compress them beforehand with a tool such as Toolur or TinyJPG.

These steps will ensure your content helps you rank on Google and other search engines. Check out the following articles on how to write optimized content:

8. Fill in general settings.

Before pushing your site live, you’ll want to fill in general settings. It’s the same list you would run through if you were setting up your site on a CMS platform.

Here’s what you’ll want to adjust:

Make sure you include a site title and tagline in the “Settings” of your website builder. Go through, and check out the URLs — are those optimized for search?

Any website builder you’re using to build your site should make it easy to optimize these elements on every post and page. With Wix, for example, you can add image alt-text, meta descriptions, headings, and custom URLs right in your content editor.

Editing page elements in Wix's drag-and-drop editorImage Source

9. Install extensions and apps.

Last but not least, install add-ons that will increase your website’s functionality. Each website builder typically has a library of extensions and add-ons that you can choose from. For instance, in the Shopify app store, you can install an Instagram slider that shows an Instagram feed in each product page.

Take a look at the add-ons you have access to on the following popular website builders:

Once your pages, content, and plugins are in place, it’s time to push your site live. The website builder will typically have a button you can click to launch your site into the web. After, simply watch your organic traffic grow. And remember: if your website builder doesn’t work for you, you’ll always be able to switch over to a CMS.

How to Build a Website with a CMS

Have you chosen to go with a content management system instead?

The process of building a website with a CMS is a little different than setting up a site with a website builder — mainly because you’ll have to buy a domain name and web hosting on your own. But the process is just as simple, and the powerful customization options make the extra steps worth it.

Below, we cover the process of building your website using a CMS from start to finish.

1. Choose a CMS.

The best CMS system for your business will align with your site’s needs and goals.

WordPress, for example, is a popular open-source CMS that provides thousands of themes, plugins, and modules for customizing your site. In exchange for this flexibility, you will have to spend more time and money downloading, installing, and maintaining the extensions.

On the other hand, WordPress alternatives like the CMS Hub provide more built-in functionality, app integrations, and security features so you can focus on creating web content and attracting leads.

Below, we break down some of the most popular website builders you could choose.

CMS Plans Good Fit For
CMS Hub $270/month or $900/month Growing Businesses
WordPress.org Free General Websites
Adobe Experience Manager Custom Pricing Enterprise Businesses
Joomla Free General Websites (Recommended for Advanced Users)
Drupal Free General Websites (Recommended for Advanced Users)

It’s worth noting that while WordPress.org, Joomla, and Drupal are free, you’ll have to pay for domain names, SSL certificates, hosting, and premium themes and templates, adding to your set-up costs. You might also need the help of a developer if you opt for Joomla and Drupal.

It’ll be hard to choose, but you can narrow it down with a few questions. For instance, do you need a platform that allows you to add your own custom code or one that supports multiple languages? Would you like a proprietary CMS to help share the responsibility of protecting and maintaining your site, or would you prefer an open-source CMS? You might also narrow your list by comparing the selection of templates and add-ons offered by each system.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Here are some comparison and alternatives posts:

Once you’ve chosen the best CMS platform for your needs, continue to step two.

2. Select a hosting plan.

Web hosting is a service that enables individuals or businesses to run a website on the Internet. The service provider, known as a web host, will store your website files on a secure server that it keeps up and running, and then deliver and display that web content to visitors who type in your URL in their browser.

Website builders include hosting in their packages. Content management systems, however, don’t work this way. You’ll have to find your own hosting provider, which will take time and lots of research. There are hundreds of web hosts on the market. Each one might offer different types of hosting, including shared hosting, VPS, and dedicated hosting. Let’s briefly look at the differences below.

  • Shared Hosting: In shared hosting, your website shares the same server and resources with other websites. It’s the most popular type of hosting, particularly among new site owners, because it’s the cheapest option.
  • VPS Hosting: If you go for a Virtual Private Server hosting solution, your site will sit on the same server as other websites; however, it will isolate server resources for your site specifically. That means your site will be able to handle higher volumes of regular traffic. It’s a pricier alternative to shared hosting.
  • Dedicated Server: With a dedicated server, your site will sit on a server whose resources and space is reserved for your site only. If you’d rather not share a server with any other website, you can upgrade to dedicated server hosting.

Virtually every web host offers shared hosting. However, because your website has to share the same server with many other websites, it can’t support high volumes of traffic and is most vulnerable to hackers and other security threats.

Once you’ve decided what type of hosting you need, you can pick a provider. DreamHost, HostGator, and Bluehost are among the most popular third-party providers and offer free domain registration for the first year. That will simplify the next step in building a website.

Here are resources about hosting you’ll want to check out:

And some comparisons to help you choose the best one:

3. Get a domain name from a domain name provider.

No matter what type of CMS you chose to build your site, you’ll likely have to purchase a domain name.

Purchasing a domain name is typically inexpensive — even for those who sign up for a hosting plan that does not include free domain registration for a year. There are two different approaches you can take.

You can visit a domain site, purchase and register a domain name there, and then connect it to your hosting account. Both Godaddy.com and Namecheap.com are cheap, secure, and effective options for buying a domain name, with added benefits such as SSL security and Office 365 inboxes.

Or you can complete the entire domain name search and registration process on your hosting provider’s site. For example, after signing up for a Bluehost plan, you’ll be taken to this page to sign up with a domain name.

Bluehost signup page WordPress website

Here’s where it gets tricky. You’ll need to choose a domain name as similar as possible to the name of your company, but with over billions of websites out there today, your company’s name might already be taken.

If your ideal domain name is already taken, consider using a different extension. Use one of the three most common extensions if you can: .com, .net, or .org. However, if it makes sense for your business, you might want to check out an alternate extension like .us or .shop.

As we covered in the previous section, avoid using dashes, numbers, or trademarked words. Play around with it. Once you’ve chosen and paid for a domain name, you’ll usually also get personal email accounts attached, so make sure you’re happy to use your domain name as your main online identity.

Below you’ll find some resources about choosing and buying a custom domain:

4. Choose a theme for your site.

Now, for the fun part.

Themes allow you to easily change the look and feel of your site without having to code HTML and CSS from scratch. Themes are made up of templates, modules, images, and global content that control your site’s overall design.

On whatever content management system you chose, take the time to browse through the selection of themes available. Many will come with a directory of free themes, where you can use filters or the search bar to find themes related to your industry, with a specific layout, and more.

Tip: It’s important your theme is responsive, so your site will look the same on all devices.

Other considerations will be specific to your business and site. You might be looking for a static header or a slideshow header, for example. Or you may need a theme that comes with a front-end builder. Below are some questions you can answer to find the right theme for your site:

  • Do you need a variety of layouts or just one?
  • Are you looking for a theme with built-in social media widgets or any other functionality?
  • Would you like to install a demo site or start from scratch?
  • Do you want to purchase a theme that includes its own theme builder?

Ultimately, no one knows your business better than you. Take the time to consider which theme would best represent your brand and most likely appeal to your ideal demographic.

You’ll have a wealth of choices right in your CMS. Take a look, for instance, at the theme marketplace in CMS Hub:

Theme library inside CMS Hub

You’ll want to stay away from hard-to-read fonts or flashy backgrounds that could distract a consumer from understanding your core message. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong if you choose something clean with straight lines and a limited amount of text.

If you can’t find a free theme that meets your exact specifications, try looking for premium themes in third-party marketplaces.

Below are some resources to get started if you’ve opted for the WordPress CMS:

Once you’ve selected and installed a theme on your site, move on to the next step.

5. Customize your theme and templates.

Once you’ve chosen a theme, take the time to customize it and its individual templates. Your site’s design and functionality is your chance to persuade an audience to take a closer look. It’s imperative your design makes sense to your ideal consumer and works to enhance your product’s success rather than hinder it.

That’s why you should think of your theme and templates as a starting point, rather than the final look. Depending on the website platform you’ve used to build your site, you’ll have different degrees of control over your site’s appearance.

On more flexible platforms like CMS Hub, you’ll be able to edit your theme’s global settings to make sitewide changes. That means you can make changes to your font and other elements in one place and they’ll be implemented across all pages on your site.

HubSpot CMS Hub theme editorImage Source

Here’s a great resource if you’re using WordPress:

6. Add pages to your site.

It’s important to plan exactly which pages you’ll need to include in your site. While it varies business to business, you’ll need at least a homepage, an “About Us” page, a “Services/Product” page, and a “Contact Us” page.

You should also add a blog homepage. There are serious benefits to business blogging.

While every CMS is different, it’s typically easy to add and remove pages on whichever platform you use. Let’s take a closer look at the process on WordPress, for example.

  • Start by logging into your WordPress dashboard.
  • On the left side of the screen, click Pages > Add New.
    Create new page in WordPress
  • You can add text, insert images, embed videos, and make any other changes you like.
  • When you’re ready, click Publish.

Editing page in WordPress' Gutenberg editorImage Source

Once you’ve decided what pages you need on your site, make sure to add them to the navigation bar. You can rearrange page topics any way you want, or combine them.

You can visit other company websites within your industry to get ideas for how to organize your navigation bar, or which pages to include and exclude if you’re unsure.

7. Write content.

You guessed it: It’s time to write the content you’ll put on your site.

Write rough drafts for pages like your “About Us” page and landing page. Talk with coworkers and stakeholders — what message do you want to put out there? What tone do you want to set? Should you make jokes and be funny, or aim to be more inspirational?

If your online audience stumbled across your site, what questions would they have first?

Imagine your website is your only chance to have a full conversation with a potential customer.

The home page is the preliminary introduction: “Hey, we do XYZ.” Your “About Us” page digs deeper: “We are XYZ.” And your products or services pages are your big push to the finish line: “You want to work with us? Great, here’s how you’ll benefit.”

During this stage, it’s imperative you do your keyword research.

For instance, if you’re selling eyeglasses, and you notice “retro eyeglasses” is a more popular search term than “vintage eyeglasses,” you might use this research to steer the direction of the content on your site.

If you’re stuck, check out competitor’s websites to gauge what other companies in your industry are doing.

We’ve compiled a few more resources to help you get started:

8. Fill in general settings.

Once you’ve filled in your pages with optimized content, it’s time to fill in the general settings. By adding or adjusting the SEO elements, you can increase your search visibility.

It’s the same as if you were building your site on a website builder. On your pages, you should include:

Each of these elements are essential to your on-page SEO. They not only help to tell Google about your website and how you provide value to visitors and customers — they also help optimize your site for human eyes as well as search engine bots.

9. Install add-ons.

Lastly, take a look at your site and figure out what you’re missing. Ideally, your platform will offer all the add-ons you need to extend the functionality of your site.

It’s important to note these add-ons might be called apps, extensions, modules, integrations, or plugins, depending on the platform you use.

If you’re running an ecommerce site on HubSpot, for example, you might use HubSpot’s Shopify extension. Or, maybe you want to ensure your WordPress website is secure, to protect client data. In that case, you might download the Wordfence Security plugin for firewall protection against attacks, malware, and other threats.

If you’re lacking out-of-the-box features for security, SEO, image compression, and social media, check if your platform offers an app or integration to add that functionality to your site. It’s much easier to do all this work in one place rather than having to log on to several disconnected platforms.

How to Make a Website with HubSpot

Let’s take a look at how to make a website with CMS Hub. If you’re already using HubSpot’s CRM, it probably makes the most sense to build a website within HubSpot to integrate all your sales and marketing needs in one place.

CMS Hub offers a variety of plugins and extensions, themed templates, and sophisticated tools for SEO analysis.

If you want to build a website with CMS Hub, it’s easy and intuitive. Don’t forget to get a domain name and hosting before starting to build your site. Here’s how:

1. Create a homepage.

Within your HubSpot portal, click “Marketing” on the dashboard at the top of your screen. Navigate down to “Website,” then click “Website Pages.”

Drop-down menu in HubSpot dashboard leading to website pagesAfter that, click the orange “Create” button and choose “Website Page” from the drop-down.

Creating a page inside CMS Hub

2. Select a theme.

Now, you’ll be taken to this “Choose a theme” page. Scroll through your options, search page templates, or check out the Marketplace. When you’ve found a template you like, select it.

Choosing a theme inside CMS Hub

3. Edit the modules.

This is your page. You can scroll over text boxes, images, or other modules to edit them. In the below picture, I scrolled over the “Practice Yoga” Banner Text, and when I click it, it allows me to edit that text.

Editing modules inside CMS HubYou can also click the “Contents” tool on the left side of your screen and edit from there. For instance, I selected one “Rich Text” option, which directed me to the “Vinyasa” paragraph on the page.

Editing module in CMS Hub using a second optionYou can then add text, images, sections, forms, and more when you edit it in “Expanded” view.

4. Create other pages on your website.

When you’re happy with your landing page and want to move on, go back to your dashboard and click “Marketing” at the top of your screen, and then “Website Pages” again.Drop-down menu in HubSpot dashboard leading to website pages

Here, you’ll click the orange “Create” button and name your page, just like your home page. Then, you’ll be taken through a similar process of choosing a template and adding content. If you want a more in-depth tutorial, check out a quick tour of website pages.

5. Incorporate social media accounts.

If you want to incorporate your social media accounts, go to “Marketing,” then “Social” on your dashboard. You can monitor all your social media accounts and also publish tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, Instagram pictures, and other content straight from your HubSpot dashboard.

Drop-down menu in CMS Hub leading to social media management tool

6. View analytics.

If you want to check out your site analytics, go to “Reports” and then “Analytics Tools”. You’ll need to install the tracking code, which is easy to do within the HubSpot platform by clicking the orange “Install the tracking code” button. If you’re still unsure, check out how to install the HubSpot tracking code.

Drop-down menu in CMS Hub leading to the analytics dashboard

7. Add a blog to your site.

If you want to write blog posts, go to “Marketing” > “Website” > “Blog” on your dashboard to create, publish, and monitor your website’s blog posts.

Drop-down menu in CMS Hub leading toward the "Blog" option

8. Install add-ons.

Last, it’s time to install an app from the HubSpot marketplace to extend the functionality of your website. Here’s how.

  • In your HubSpot account, click the Marketplace icon in the main navigation bar.
  • Under Manage, select Connected apps.
  • Click Visit App Marketplace.
  • Use the filters in the left sidebar to browse for an app.
    HubSpot app marketplace
  • Click on an app to see more information.
  • On the right, you can review the details of the app. Under Requirements, check whether or not the app is compatible with your HubSpot subscription, and see if there are any app-side subscription requirements.
    App details inside HubSpot App Marketplace
  • When you’re ready, click the Install app button in the top right corner of the screen.

hubspot-app-marketplace-install-button

Once you’ve completed these steps, just click “Publish” and your site is ready for use.

This is a fairly broad and general overview to get you started building a website with CMS Hub, but there are plenty of more in-depth features and tools you might want to explore with a HubSpot specialist, or by checking out some courses on academy.hubspot.com.

Once you’re done building a website via CMS Hub, it’s important to check that you’re not missing any crucial elements or going live with any glaring errors. Once you’ve gone through this list above and feel like you’re close to a website launch, check out your website launch checklist for a detailed list of things to check before you go live.

Build a Website: FAQs

Below, we cover some frequently asked questions about building a website.

How much does it cost to build a website?

The cost of building a small business website can range from $500 to $2,500, but the price can be higher if you’re working with a developer. You should also take into account recurring costs such as hosting, domain name registration, and SSL certification.

Here’s a resource to help you gauge costs:

How hard is it to build a website?

Building a website isn’t hard at all, especially if you opt for a website builder that packages everything for you. In general, you won’t need to touch a single line of code.

How do you create a website for free?

You can create a website for free by signing up for a free subscription on a website builder platform such as Wix or Weebly. However, you’ll have a branded subdomain from the provider (e.g. yourname.weebly.com). You’ll also have the branding on your website, and free websites are often limited in design, features, and functionalities. We recommend avoiding it unless you’re a hobbyist or only wanting to practice before launching your site.

How do you build a website from scratch?

You can build a website from scratch using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and sometimes, PHP. You compile these files and then upload them to your web host’s file manager. (You’ll still need to purchase a hosting service and register a domain.)

How much does it cost to hire someone to build a website?

Thumbtack reports that a freelance web designer costs from $640 to $1,000. Upwork reports a $15 to $30/hour range for hiring a web developer on their platform. This is on the low end and accurate pricing for building a small website. For hiring a web developer for a custom or long-term project, you can expect to pay in the $8,000 to $25,000 range.

Here are some more resources:

How long does it take to build a website?

A website takes, on average, three to six months to build if your brand is small or just getting started. If you’re creating a custom or complicated project, you can expect your website to take a year or longer before it is up and running.

Build Your Website: Tips

Ready to build your own site? Let’s take a look at tips you can use to guide the creation of your site.

  1. Choose a one-page design if you want to launch your site more quickly.
  2. Include a high-contrast button on the top right of your navigation bar telling visitors to contact you.
  3. Use Lorem Ipsum text to preview what the written content will look like as you adjust the layout. That way, you don’t have to write all the content right away.
  4. Buy an SSL certificate if your CMS doesn’t include one already.
  5. Make good use of white space to keep your site as simple and easy-to-read as possible.
  6. Set your domain and hosting subscriptions on auto-renew to avoid service interruption. 
  7. Create Terms of Use and Privacy Policy documents if your site gathers user data.
  8. Double-check that your website is responsive by accessing it from your mobile device. Most CMS systems and website builders will automatically make your site responsive, but you always want to double-check.
  9. Resize your browser window to test what the elements look like at different browser sizes.
  10. Access your site from different browsers (Safari, Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge) to see how the elements render depending on the browser.
  11. Learn basic HTML and CSS so you can more easily customize your site later.
  12. Include high-contrast buttons throughout the page that allow visitors to get in contact with you.
  13. Stick to five navigation bar items at most.
  14. Ensure your navigation bar shows up in all pages.
  15. Create submenus for your navigation items to effectively group your subtopics.
  16. Create an XML sitemap for search engine crawlers to find and index your site.
  17. Submit your website to Google Search Console once you’ve launched it. That way, Google can crawl it much more quickly.
  18. Use an analytics tool such as Google Analytics to see who’s accessing your site and from where.
  19. Link internally from page to page so that search engines understand how the pages are related to each other.
  20. Use keyword-rich anchor text when linking to internal pages.
  21. Link to other strong sites in your niche to signal relevancy to Google.
  22. Add your business or personal brand to social media sites and link back to your website.
  23. Research other sites in your niche and get content ideas from them.
  24. Compress all images to under 250KB. The smaller, the better.
  25. Publish and maintain a blog — we’re serious about that. Try to post once a month.
  26. Aim for a minimum of 800 words per page and per blog post.
  27. Use a grammar-checker such as Grammarly to ensure your copy is error-free.
  28. Avoid duplicate and boilerplate content — even one paragraph can be enough to hurt the credibility of your page.
  29. Recheck your site architecture to make sure that your page hierarchy makes sense.
  30. Create a backup of your site whenever you make major changes.
  31. Seek guest posting opportunities and link back to your site in your author bio.
  32. Join industry organizations and link back to your site from your member profile.
  33. Avoid duplicating pages to use the same layout. If you do, double-check that your slug doesn’t read .com/original-page-copy. This happens more often than you think. If it happens, change your slug. Here’s how to change your slug in WordPress, in case you’re using that CMS.
  34. Keep your page URLs short and user-friendly. If the title of a blog post is “50 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Heights and Fly Worry-Free,” don’t have a URL that reads example.com/20XX-03-25/blog/50-ways-to-conquer-your-fear-of-heights-and-fly-worry-free. Consider instead: example.com/conquer-fear-of-heights.
  35. Add breadcrumbs to your website to clarify your site structure. Here’s how to add breadcrumbs in WordPress.

Build a Website to Grow Your Online Reach

Building a website is a must-do for anyone who wants to be online. Without it, you won’t be found at all, and it can help you look more professional and established. Using this guide, you’ll be sure to publish a site that helps your business or your personal brand grow better.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Minority-Owned Business [+ Expert Tips]

COVID-19 presented more challenges than one for businesses, and the pandemic took an even more tremendous toll on minority business owners.

With minority business owners experiencing a cash crunch, not many could secure loans to keep their doors open.

In 2020, 400,000 small businesses decided to permanently close due to the effects of the pandemic — many of which were in underserved communities. Whether you’re in the idea phase or already established, this guide will help you get your minority-owned business off the ground.

Before you dive into this guide, check out this blog on how to start a business if you’re still in the idea phase.

When you finish reading this piece, you’ll have everything you need (and more) to thrive as a minority business owner — from how to get certified as a minority-owned business, to funding options and growth resources.

Learn More About HubSpot's Community to Amplify Black Professionals

Get Certified as a Minority-Owned Business

After you’ve nailed down your business idea, plan, and registered your company, it’s time to get certified as a minority-owned business. This certification isn’t required, but it will help inform consumers and potential partners about your company’s leadership.

You may also need this certification may also if you want to apply for government-funded minority business grants and loans, or other programs.

Illinois, Ohio, California, and New York have local agencies to get certified as a minority-owned business on a state level. There are various ways to get certified from local state and business agencies, so it might be best to consult them directly based on where your business is registered.

Here are a few other high-level agencies to consider getting a minority-owned business certification from:

  • The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC): Headquartered in New York, NMSDC manages 22 regional affiliate councils around the U.S. NMSDC offers minority-owned business certifications and business development programs. The council has a network of more than 1,750 corporate members and has matched more than 12,000 minority-owned businesses with these member corporations. The certification process includes an online application, fee, interview, and site visit upon approval.
  • The Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development program: The federal government committed to awarding five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses with an 8(a) designation each year. This is an SBA-specific minority-owned business certification needed if your company plans to compete better for federal government contracts.

These same organizations and agencies may offer women-owned and LGBTQ-owned business certifications, as well.

Apply for Minority Business Grants

Minority founders often start bootstrapped, launch crowdfunding campaigns, or even try and raise initial funding through family and friends.

You can take various routes to fund your startup, but if you’re on your own when it comes to financing, seeking grant funding is a great start. Grants.gov distributes more than 1,000 small business grants for an open search, and this is where all federal government agencies post their grant opportunities.

Here are a few business grant opportunities for minority founders:

  • The Coalition to Back Black Businesses Fund: This initiative was created to aid small Black businesses struggling through the pandemic. The coalition is awarding 300 grants amounting to $5,000 each.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): This agency runs the Rural Business Development Grant Program for businesses operating in rural areas, with a population under 50,000 residents. The program offers grants to minority small businesses ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.
  • Rebuild the Block (RTB): As part of its Small Business Relief Fund, RTB award 15 grants monthly to Black business owners affected by the pandemic. There isn’t a specific monetary value on each grant, and freelancers and other creatives are encouraged to apply.
  • First Nations Development Institute (FNDI): Deadlines and opportunities vary, but this nonprofit provides financial and technical support to Native American organizations. FNDI has provided 2,150 grants totaling $43 million to Native projects across 40 stages and regions.
  • The National Black MBA Association: Since 2017, the association has been hosting the Scale-Up Pitch Competition, which awards grants ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 to Black business owners. Someone from the company must be a member of the association to apply for this opportunity.
  • Asian Women Giving Circle (AWGC): This grant is exclusive for Asian American women-owned businesses. AWGC awarded 11 grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 each in 2020, and this year, the maximum grant amount is $15,000.
  • SoGal Foundation: This rolling program awards $5,000 and $10,000 to Black women founders and Black nonbinary entrepreneurs.
  • FedEx: Each year, FedEx hosts a nationwide Small Business Grant Contest, and while it’s not exclusively for minority small businesses, many of the past winners have been minority founders. Winners receive grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, plus funds for FedEx printing services.

If you’re looking for more opportunities, Please Assist Me Co-founder and CEO Stephanie Cummings suggests subscribing to newsletters distributed by 1863 Ventures and Backstage Capital.

Each organization sends out a monthly newsletter loaded with updated grant and funding opportunities specifically for minority founders.

Apply for Minority Business Loans

Another financing option could be applying for loans. Historically, minority founders have struggled to secure business loans due to credit inequality and discrimination, but there are still reasonable loan options out there.

Here are a few business loan opportunities for minority founders:

  • Accompany Capital: Looking to support immigrants, refugees, and women entrepreneurs specifically, Accompany Capital offers microloans of $500 to $50,000 with repayment terms ranging from six months to three years.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): SBA manages a few loan opportunities, including its Microloan Program and Community Advantage Loan Program. Open to all small businesses, the Microloan Program offers loans up to $50,000 with loans averaging $13,000 each. For the Community Advantage Loan Program, SBA encourages community lenders, mainly nonprofit financial entities, to make loans up to $250,000 to minorities, women, veterans, and other underserved founders.
  • Business Consortium Fund: Offered to NMSDC certified businesses, the fund offers loans and lines of credit ranging from $250,000 to $750,000 with repayments terms of up to five years.
  • USDA: As part of its Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, USDA offers up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to local banks and direct lenders operating in rural areas with a population under 50,000 residents. Minority businesses can also directly apply for a USDA loan, ranging from $200,000 to $5 million with a maximum cap of $10 million.

Tap into Additional Minority Programs and Resources

Even if you may think you have it all figured out, a little extra guidance wouldn’t hurt.

Here are ten accelerators, startup programs, and other resources for minority founders:

  • The Visible Hands fellowship runs a 14-week virtual program to provide company-building services and investments up to $200,000 to underrepresented entrepreneurs. The inaugural cohort will welcome more than 30 fellows.
  • Dedicated to diversity in tech, Black Founders provides programs and hosts events for Black tech entrepreneurs.
  • Operation HOPE runs an eight-week entrepreneurial training program designed to help entrepreneurs in low-income communities.
  • SBA’s Business Development program helps minority business owners better qualify for SBA loans. Your company must be registered as a small business with SBA to participate.
  • The Minority Business Development Agency, an agency within the U.S.Department of Commerce, was created to provide greater access to capital and resources to minority founders. The agency manages business centers across the nation and hosts business development programs.
  • 1863 Ventures–a business development organization working to promote people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, veterans, and physically disabled business owners–runs two accelerator programs. Its Pipeline program is for pre-growth stage companies, and its Acceler8 program is for growth to scale stage businesses.  
  • Y Combinator’s Startup Library includes a wealth of resources spanning 15 years.
  • The National Minority Business Council provides minority business owners with educational opportunities, entrepreneurial boot camps, seminars, business assistance, and more. Membership is encouraged.
  • The U.S. Minority Chamber of Congress is a nonprofit advocating for small business rights. The organization has chapters across the U.S. that host networking events and offer local entrepreneurial resources.
  • Founder Institute put together the Black American Startup Resource List filled with 742 resources for idea-stage entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for accelerators, investors, or even events, this list is a great place to start.

Indulge in Motivational Tips from Other Minority Founders

Starting a business from scratch is hard, but doing so as a minority may pose more challenges.

Many disparities get in the way for minority business owners, but hopefully, these opportunities and resources will ease some hassles. While starting a minority-owned business may be the same as starting any other company, there are a few extra things you can do — like getting certified — to tap into some unique opportunities made just for minorities.

I reached out to some minority business owners who have done the hard work and are still striving to grow their ventures. Here are some tips if you’re feeling discouraged:

  • “Understand that starting a busy is hard, and it’s 10X harder for minority founders. If you are committed to your dream, work hard, dig in and let your work speak for itself.” — Stephanie Cummings, co-founder and CEO of Please Assist Me.
  • “Just do it — one of my favorite slogans. As minorities, we often don’t see similar faces on the cover of Forbes or elsewhere. This is slowly changing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. What matters at the end of the day is if your business is actually helping others.”  — Nhon Ma, co-founder and CEO of Numerade.
  • “Don’t get too attached to ideas. Spend your time getting attached to your values, and know what you stand for as a person — your values will be your guiding light, not the ideas.” — Ronnie Kwesi Coleman, co-founder and CEO of Meaningful Gigs.
  • “Leverage your networks to build brand awareness organically, but don’t forget who helped you get there once you get some momentum.” — Leela Bhatia-Newman and Mariana Magala, co-founders of DistrictlyLocal.

black at inbound

Why People Visit YouTube & How to Engage Them [New Data]

YouTube is the second largest website globally with over 2 billion global users.

Still, despite its huge audience, it can be challenging to gain engagement on your videos.

Ultimately, to gain views, likes, shares, and even subscribers, your content will have to engage at least part of YouTube’s huge audience while fulfilling their needs.

But, if you’re just starting on YouTube, or struggling to grow your strategy, you might not know what the platform’s audience wants just yet.

To help marketers learn more about YouTube’s huge user pool, and their interests, I asked nearly 300 consumers: “Why do you most commonly visit YouTube?”

Here’s what they said.

→ Free Templates: How to Use YouTube for Business [Download Now]

Why Do People Visit YouTube?

Before we dive into what people picked as the most common reason they visit YouTube, it’s worth mention one thing you won’t see on the list below: product discovery.

Just a measly 3% of respondents visit YouTube primarily to “learn about products.”

A chart explainingg that most people visit youtube to be entertained

Data Source

However, you shouldn’t panic just yet. Keep in mind that we just polled a small group of general consumers about their most common reason for visiting YouTube. Had we asked them for their top three reasons, polled a larger group, or polled a specific demographic, the results could have been different.

It’s also worth noting that many demographics search out product videos when they’re researching a prospective purchase.

In fact, in a 2020 recent survey, 94% of people said they watch explainer videos to learn about products. While many YouTube users might not go to the YouTube platform just for product videos all the time, they probably still watch them when they’re relevant to their buyer’s journey.

However, knowing what YouTube audiences are looking for on YouTube will help you make a video related to your brand or product that still mixes in elements that can engage them and fulfill their viewing needs.

So, why do people visit YouTube? Let’s dive into the three most popular motives.

1. To watch videos that entertain me.

When we asked consumers why they visited the world’s second-largest platform, a whopping 65% of them said they did so for pure entertainment.

This stat might be terrifying for marketers, especially if you sell a product that might not be considered super flashy or attention-grabbing.

But, the stat above shouldn’t have you panicking just yet. Keep in mind that this is just one small survey. Had we asked people of certain age groups or industries this specific question, the results could have swayed in another direction.

However, it is very important to keep in mind that people on YouTube want to be entertained or at least intrigued by the content they’re watching. So, whether you’re planning to launch YouTube video ads or standard videos, you’ll want to add a touch of entertainment, action, or interesting information to them.

Here’s a great video, created by Headspace and LOL Network, that features actor Kevin Hart struggling to meditate and using the Headspace app to help him relax while jogging.

Even if you can’t work with a big-name celebrity, this video is still a great example of content that tells an entertaining story about how a product solves common problems. While Hart’s fame might pull people in, watching him worry about relatable, everyday things as he jogs could be relatable and funny to audiences.

2. To learn how to do something.

We’ve all had a moment in life where we couldn’t figure out how to do something and scoured the internet for a video that could help. That’s why it’s not surprising that 13% of respondents primarily visit YouTube to “learn how to do something.”

As a marketer, you can leverage the YouTube audience’s need for advice and guidance with videos on how to do things related to your brand, industry, or even your product.

On top of zoning in on the how-to format, you could also mix in entertaining elements, such as an influencer or entertaining video host, to fulfill a viewer’s need for interesting content

Here’s an example of a how-to video from B Simone Beauty, a cosmetics brand named after its founder B Simone. In the video, Simone, also known for her work as a stand-up comedian, offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to give yourself a glamorous makeover.

While the video highlights B Simone Beauty products, it focuses on makeup tutorial tips. Not only does this help audience members who have purchased cosmetics from the brand, but it also gives prospects helpful tips. By watching this video, you not only see what using B Simone products is like in real life, but you also learn how knowledgeable Simone is about makeup. Both of these elements could enable viewers to trust the company and product quality.

3. To learn about something, such as a hobby, interest, or industry.

While some people use YouTube to find step-by-step guides on how to do something, some just watch videos to soak up as much valuable information as possible. In our poll, 13% of respondents said they visit YouTube to “Learn about something related to a hobby, interest, or industry.”

As a marketer, you can also leverage this YouTube user need in your videos or in-stream ads. Here are just a few ways to weave valuable information into your next video.

  • Leading the video with a surprising or interesting stat.
  • Featuring expert tips or insight-filled interviews from your company leaders or industry experts.
  • Recording an explainer video with fun graphics, charts, and interesting information about a topic related to your industry or brand.

Here’s an example of a video HubSpot posted that discusses how TikTok’s audience has begun to mature by discussing stats and facts about the platform.

Although HubSpot isn’t a TikTok tool, it has a large marketing audience that the company is engaging with this video that educates viewers on a highly trendy topic.

By creating informative or educational videos related to your industry, you enable the viewers with similar interests to learn something new while also developing trust for your company. So, even if you aren’t explicitly mentioning your product, viewers could remember your brand and your expertise next time they’re shopping in your immediate space. Similarly, if someone does do product research and comes across your YouTube channel, they might trust that a brand with solid knowledge around an industry will create high-quality products.

Other Answers

Aside from the top three responses, 3% of people said they go to YouTube primarily to watch videos of their “favorite celebrities or influencers” while another 3% primarily use the platform to find videos related to “news and trends.”

While these responses don’t need to inform your strategy, they align well with the themes that people are looking for entertainment and interesting information.

Catering to YouTube’s Giant Audience

Ultimately, it’s unlikely that every single YouTube viewer will love your content or search out the types of videos you make. However, since the audience is so broad, there’s at least a large segment of it that could engage with your marketing strategy. As you develop or fine-tune your tactics, keep these tips in mind:

  • Know your audience: Learn the ins and outs of who uses the platform, identify the best demographics or targets to go after, and look at what types of videos they engage with most.
  • Mix education with entertainment: While many people visit the platform for entertainment or escape from their daily lives, others crave valuable or helpful information. So, try to create content that intrigues viewers, while also giving valuable information related to your brand or industry.
  • Don’t limit yourself to product videos: While you can certainly post a few demos, interesting customer stories, and mention your product in a few videos, keep in mind that YouTube visitors might not be looking for commercial-like content. Try to add variation with explainers, expert interviews, or other interesting, but on-brand, video formats.

Need more help with developing or expanding your YouTube strategy? We’ve got you covered.

Check out this data on why people click out of YouTube videos, this Ultimate Guide to YouTube Marketing, or download the free resource below.

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The 4 Go-To Social Media Video Platforms & How to Engage Their Audiences [New Data]

Last week, HubSpot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report reveals that video is the top content marketing strategy used by brands while social media is ranked as the top marketing channel.

With data like that above — and all the growing social media video platforms out there — it’s become obvious that social media marketing and video content go hand in hand.

While creating great social media videos for your company can be an incredibly effective marketing tactic, each social media content strategy shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. To ensure that your videos are seen and spread quality brand awareness, you’ll need to ensure you’re making the right videos for the right audiences on the right platforms.

With new video publishing options appearing on social platforms regularly, determining where your content will live is part of the content marketing battle.

To help you figure out where to publish your video content — and which types of videos to post — we surveyed 300+ consumers to find out where they most commonly watch videos on social media.

Below, we’ll reveal the results and a few expert tips for building the best social media video-sharing strategy for 2021 — including one from an expert at Wistia.

Download Now: State of Marketing in 2021 Report

Where are Consumers Watching Social Media Videos?

In recent years, Gen-Z-targeting platforms like TikTok and Instagram have been on the rise. But if you think that everyone’s primarily watching video on these platforms, you might be surprised by what our poll found.

When I asked consumers “On which social media platform do you most commonly watch videos?”, 35% of respondents said YouTube.

Youtube, Facebook, and TikTok are the go-to social media video platforms for consumers

Data Source

While it’s not surprising that YouTube or Facebook, some of the world’s biggest online platforms, are the preferred video viewing sites, only 8% of respondents said they primarily watch videos on Instagram — one of the pioneers of Stories and live video.

Another surprising find was that 20% of respondents — or 1 in 5 people — primarily use TikTok (the youngest social network on the list) for video viewing. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to shift your whole strategy to TikTok, it does show that the platform could continue to have a promising future for content marketers.

If this data has you worried that you’re publishing videos on the wrong platforms,  take a breath. Remember that this is just one informal consumer survey. Had we polled a specific age group, people from a specific industry, or consumers from different regions, the results might have swayed to other platforms — like LinkedIn or Twitter. 

However, even though this is just one small survey, it does remind us that a mix of older and newer platforms, like YouTube and TikTok, are the go-to video platforms for vast audiences. 

Now that we’ve gotten an idea of where consumers are primarily watching social media videos, we’ll walk you through a few tips for sharing the best videos for different social media audiences.

Tips for Sharing Social Media Videos

1. For most platforms, zone in on snackable content.

The world is becoming more fast-paced every day. While many people are watching social media videos in their spare time, some are watching them between meetings, while in line at the store, or on public transit. Even if people do have time to watch hours of video, there’s so much out there that they’ll want to scroll to more content almost immediately after their video starts.

That’s why one social media video strategy to focus on in 2021 is mastering the art of “snackable” or super short-form content.

“Using snackable videos on social can actually drive more engagement than static images,” says Meisha Bochicchio, Content Marketing Manager at Wistia. “A recent study found that 60% of marketers saw more clicks with video posts compared with static images.”

When it comes to creating effective snackable content, Bochicchio says, “First things first, keep in mind that most social media platforms will automatically start playing video content as viewers scroll. So, make sure your videos are autoplay-friendly. Keep them short and put your key messaging in the first few seconds. For example, take a look at this video from Wistia announcing their State of Video Report.”

“Remember that most people won’t hear your audio, so make sure your videos are also silent-friendly,”Bochicchio advises. “Consider text overlays, or upload captions directly on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 

In the video example below, Wistia marks the launch of their series “Show Business” with a captioned video that allows viewers to get key information without any sound.

To learn more about this strategy, check out this post on snackable content, or this post that highlights the latest short-form video trends.

2. Test different video formats, too.

While snackable content is a great tactic to harness in 2021, you can still publish longer videos, as long as they’re engaging and valuable to your audience.

For example, while people might not want to watch a two-hour commercial, they could watch a longer live video Q&A, an interview with a thought leader, or a video that tells a longer, but entertaining story.

Here’s a great example of a TV-episode-length, Clio-winning video created by Pepsi:

While you can certainly test longer-form video, you can also test out other formats, such as live streams, interactive videos, and shopping videos on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

As new video formats emerge, it can be helpful to determine if they might work for your brand and design a test around them.

Be sure you identify and track the right success metrics. For example, if you’re testing a longer video, look at its views and dropoff rate to see how long viewers stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you try a more interactive approach like a live stream or Q&A you can also take note of comments, engagements, and shares on the content while you’re live.

3. Meet your video audiences where they are.

As with any social media strategy, some content will perform better on some social media platforms rather than others. While snackable, consumer-facing content might perform well with YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok’s large consumer audiences, a B2B marketing video or a Q&A with a corporate thought leader might perform better on a professional-facing network like LinkedIn.

Luckily, to create a great marketing strategy, you don’t (and shouldn’t have to) place your videos on every single social media platform. However, you should research the demographics of each major network, identify which audiences might engage most with your content, and start publishing videos where it makes the most sense for your brand and goals.

Then, continue to keep an eye on platforms you’ve ruled out in case they continue to evolve and provide your brand more audience opportunities in the future.

4. Don’t always lean on repurposed content.

When I was a startup marketer, I loved to repurpose content whenever it was possible. And, back then, when social media platforms were less evolved, this strategy would work.

Today, it can still be beneficial for brands to repurpose some video content for different platforms when they have similar audiences and features. This can also be a great way to test whether your content strategy for one platform will work with one audience.

However, because knowing your social media audience is more important than ever, you might want to consider having a slightly different video strategy for your most important video platforms. While there will be times where you can easily repurpose content to save time or bandwidth, some platforms like TikTok and Instagram are evolving with algorithms that could deprioritize your content if it has a watermark from another network.

5. Embrace influencers — and customers.

Even if you’ve done all of your research and churn out videos daily, it can still be incredibly hard to post a viral piece of content that grows your audience.

Luckily, there are experts on every social media platform who know how to create videos. And, some of them will even create videos for you — and then share them with their audiences.

That’s why one great growth strategy can involve reaching out to influencers or thought leaders with expertise in your industry and either featuring them in your videos or getting them to endorse your brand in their content.

If you can’t afford to have an influencer help boost your video strategy, you can also look towards happy consumers. With this strategy, you can encourage customers to share a video about their experience with your brand on social media, or you can create a video filled with multiple pieces of user-generated content from happy customers.

Because today’s consumers crave authenticity from brands, user-generated content not only can provide you with free video content but can also spread brand awareness to prospects or people researching you on social media.

Navigating Social Media Content

More than ever, social media and content marketing are always evolving. As a marketer, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and data to better inform your strategies — whether you’re investing in video or other tactics.

To learn more about the latest marketing trends, download our free 2021 State of Marketing Report below.

state of marketing

Your Brief Guide to Using Goal Seek in Excel

Successful marketers make informed decisions quickly using a combination of gut instincts and data analysis. They know the end goal, and figure out what it takes to get there.

One way to fill in those gaps is by using Goal Seek in Excel. The function is helpful when you know your desired result, but you’re not sure how to reach it.

Maybe you want to improve your conversion rate to get more qualified leads but don’t know how many people you need to attract. Or let’s say your marketing team is aiming for an audacious revenue goal and you want to know how many customers you have to bring in with an upcoming campaign. If you’re running a promotion, you likely need to figure out what discount to apply so you don’t wind up with a loss.

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Goal Seek is the answer. Understanding how to apply it to your marketing or sales efforts can inform your strategy by letting you calculate the numbers required to achieve your goals.

This post will explain how to use Goal Seek so you can start planning for your next campaign or making projections for the upcoming quarter.

What is Goal Seek in Excel?

Goal Seek is a powerful Excel function for conducting a what-if analysis. Also known as a sensitivity analysis, it helps you understand what can happen when you change one or more variables. Essentially, it’s a way to conduct a reverse calculation within an Excel spreadsheet.

Imagine you’re creating a marketing strategy for the next six months. You can use the Goal Seek Excel function to figure out the following unknowns.

  • What percentage of month-over-month growth do you need to double your reach by the end of the year?
  • How much can you spend on freelance design work without exceeding your outsourcing budget?
  • How much revenue do you need to bring in to break even on (and profit from) your upcoming email marketing campaign?

Finding answers to these questions can prevent unexpected outcomes and missed goals. Instead of wondering “what-if” when building a strategy, you can cut out uncertainty and give yourself a roadmap for success.

Before you finalize any plans, let’s walk through the steps to conduct an analysis.

How To Use Goal Seek In Excel

Setting up a Goal Seek calculation is simple once your data is organized.

In the following example, I want to evaluate the percentage of customers coming in through various marketing channels. The goal is to bring in 50% of customers through marketing efforts by the end of the year.

I first populate the table using the average month-over-month (MoM) growth to see the projections for June to December. I know I have an email campaign planned for the beginning of December, and I want to see how many customers I’d have to bring in to reach my 50% goal.

Step 1: Select the cell with the output you want to change (i.e., % of customers from marketing).

Step 2: Under the Data tab, select What-If Analysis, then Goal Seek.

How to use goal seekImage source

Step 3: A pop-up window will appear. Make sure the cell from Step 1 appears in Set cell.

Step 4: Write your desired value in To value.

Step 5: In the By changing cell box, select the cell you want to change to reach your desired outcome.

How to calculate using goal seekImage source

Step 6: Click OK to see the Goal Seek calculation. The new number will appear in the cell from Step 5, not in the pop-up box.

a status in goal seekImage source

Step 7: If all looks good and you want to keep the calculation, click OK again.

Using Goal Seek, I can tell that if my MoM growth stays the same, I need to attract at least 16 customers through my December email campaign. Yes, this is a simple example. But you can expand it to much more complicated efforts, like projecting sales needed to meet revenue goals or calculating how much net income you’ll earn from a campaign.

Goal Seek Analysis In Excel

Let’s look at another example of Goal Seek analysis. I want to bring in 130 new customers, but I don’t know how many visits I’ll need to reach my goal. Before doing the Goal Seek analysis, I organize my data to find the average MoM visit-to-customer percentage.

Step 1: Select the cell with the output you want to change (In this case, the customer goal).

Step 2: Under the Data tab, select What-If Analysis, then Goal Seek.

Step 3: In the pop-up window, make sure the cell from Step 1 appears in Set cell.

analysis in goal seekImage source

Step 4: Type the number you want to hit into To value (My goal is 130 customers).

How to change a cell boxImage source

Step 5: Select the cell you want to change in the By changing cell box (Mine is for Projected Visits).

Step 6: Click OK to see the Goal Seek analysis. (Now, I know that in order to get 130 customers, I need to attract 5055 visits).

An example of goal seek statusImage source

Once you fill in the missing variable using Goal Seek, you can figure out other variables. For instance, I found that with 5055 visits, I would need 910 leads to reach my desired number of customers. Having these numbers can also help me judge if the marketing and sales efforts for the month are on track to meet the goal.

Goal Seek Function In Excel

In business, uncertainty can spell the downfall of even the most thoughtful strategy. But you can take control of the variables that seem out of your control with the Goal Seek function.

Being proactive and judging the business impact of a marketing campaign or new sales effort can not only gain you respect within your company, but it can help you meet, and even exceed your goals. You’ll be ready when the unexpected happens. And you’ll know how to make informed decisions or tweak the strategy with your new what-if analysis skills.

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The Simple Guide to Creating an HTML Email [+ Free Templates]

When you create an email using a drag-and-drop or module-based tool, you’re actually generating an HTML email.

There are two main types of email you can send and receive: plain text emails (these are exactly what they sound like — any email that contains just plain old text with no formatting) and HTML emails, which are formatted and styled using HTML and inline CSS.

HTML emails are easy to spot — most of the styled, multimedia marketing emails in your inbox are HTML emails.

Download Now: Email Marketing Planning Template 

As a marketer, you’ve probably compared HTML emails versus plain-text emails and realized that there are different benefits to each type. HTML emails aren’t inherently better than plain text emails, and in different situations, both types can be part of a successful email marketing program.

Here’s what an HTML looks like on the front-end. Click on the HTML button to see the code behind it.

See the Pen HTML Email Template from HubSpot by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

In this article, we’ll cover how you can get started creating HTML emails, regardless of your experience level and comfort with coding, and share some free templates you can use. Let’s dive in.

How to Create an HTML Email

Good news: You actually don’t need to know how to code to create an HTML email.

Most tools that create and send email (like HubSpot) will offer pre-formatted, ready-to-go HTML templates that enable you to design emails without ever needing to access the actual code on the back-end.

As you make changes in the email editor, those changes will be automatically coded into the final product. Email building tools like this are an ideal option if you don’t have an email designer on your team, but you still want to send professional-looking marketing emails.

Still want to create an HTML email from scratch?

If you’re comfortable with HTML and want more direct control over the code of your emails, most email tools will allow you to import HTML files directly for use as custom email templates.

There are a wide variety of free HTML email templates available on the web (some of which we’ll share below), and if you know your way around an HTML file, it’s usually quite straightforward to adapt the template to the email building tool of your choice.

To create an HTML email completely from scratch, you’ll need to have an advanced knowledge of HTML (or work with a developer who does). This guide offers a solid overview of coding a basic HTML email. Because the process of creating an HTML email from scratch can be quite involved, we recommend working with a developer or using a pre-made HTML email template instead.

Developing an HTML email specifically for HubSpot?

If you’re developing an HTML email template specifically for use in HubSpot, you’ll want to make sure you include the required HubL tokens (these ensure your emails can be customized and are compliant with CAN-SPAM laws). You can find a complete guide to coding HubSpot-specific HTML email templates here. Or alternatively, just use our simple what-you-see-is-what-you-get email editor.

Now that you understand the basics of what goes into developing an HTML email, let’s go over a few important best practices you should keep in mind. No matter what method you plan to use to create HTML emails, these best practices will help improve the design, user experience, and deliverability of your emails.

1. Make sure your HTML email is responsive for different screen sizes and devices.

The way your email looks in a user’s inbox depends on a wide variety of different factors.

One of the biggest and most obvious factors is the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on. An email that looks amazing and well-formatted on a desktop can easily devolve into a tangle of illegible, overlapping text and images when viewed on a smartphone screen.

To ensure your HTML emails look the way you intended across a wide spectrum of screen sizes, the best thing you can do is keep your layout simple and straightforward. When you start adding more complex elements like multiple columns and floated images, it becomes more difficult to translate the format of your email for different screen sizes.

If you do decide to develop a more complex layout, make sure you’re actively solving for how the elements will be rearranged to suit different screen sizes. For example, if your email displays as multi-column on desktop, that same structure won’t fly on mobile — you’ll need to use media queries to define how elements will be displayed on different screen sizes.

Remember, developing truly responsive HTML emails goes beyond the structure and format of your message. Think about how the overall user experience of your email will be perceived on different devices. Make sure your font choices are just as legible on mobile as they are on desktop, and use mobile-friendly buttons or CTAs in place of hyperlinked text (have you ever tried to tap a little line of hyperlinked text on mobile? It’s not very easy).

You can find our more in-depth guide to mobile email best practices right here.

2. Make sure your styling works in different email clients.

Another big factor that heavily impacts the way your HTML emails appear in your subscribers’ inboxes is the email client they’re using to open the message. Every email client loads emails slightly differently, so an email that looks a certain way in Gmail will likely look different in Outlook.

Luckily, if you know how most popular email clients load particular HTML and CSS elements, you can create a pretty consistent experience across different users’ inboxes. It’s all about knowing which unsupported tags to avoid and adapting accordingly. This comprehensive guide explains how the most popular email clients (including Gmail and multiple versions of Outlook) support and render different styling elements.

You can also check out an article we wrote on optimizing emails for different email clients.

3. Be conscious of how long your HTML emails take to load.

How long your email takes to load could very well be the difference between gaining a new customer and losing a frustrated subscriber. While it can be tempting to take advantage of all the different styling options and opportunities to incorporate visuals that HTML emails offer, none of that matters if your email takes too long to load.

As you design your HTML email, remain conscious of how long your email will take to load — especially if someone is, say, opening your message on their morning subway commute with a weak data connection. Here are a few little steps you can take that will go a long way towards improving load time.

Use images sparingly.

That way, you’ll bolster the message you want to get across to subscribers. Always use an image compressor (like Compressor.io) to reduce the file size as much as possible. Most image compressors can significantly reduce the file size of an image without compromising on quality, so taking this extra step won’t hurt the visual integrity of your email.

Use standard web fonts.

Custom fonts are great for spicing up a landing page, but they can add an extraneous layer of complexity when added to an email. As we talked about above, all email clients handle style elements differently, and this especially extends to fonts. To be safe, use standard web fonts and check to make sure the email client most of your subscribers use supports a particular font.

Try an HTML minifier.

An HTML minifier (like minifycode.com and smallseotools.com) automatically removes code that isn’t needed in an HTML file. Repetitive, extra elements will be stripped out, but the actual rendering of your email should remain the same (always test it out!). Each line of code impacts how long an email takes to load, so taking the time to remove junk code can have a positive effect on load time.

Keep your message focused on a single objective.

The best way to reduce email load time is to reduce how much content you add to each of your email sends. It might seem obvious, but too many marketers try to stuff too much content into their emails. Not only does that lead to an off-putting user experience (nobody wants to read a novel in email form), but it can send your load time off the charts and cause users to abandon your email. Keep it simple, and your users will thank you.

4. Plan (as much as you can) for end-user inconsistencies.

The screen size and email client aren’t the only factors that can alter the way your HTML email renders in your subscribers’ inboxes. Elements like the version of their email client, their operating system, their unique user settings, their security software, and whether or not they’re automatically loading images can all impact how your email loads.

As you can probably guess by that hefty list of factors, trying to solve for all of them (every single time you send an email) would probably be enough to make you throw your computer across the room.

But you don’t have to be completely helpless in the face of these variables — you just have to do a little pre-planning.

Consider creating a webpage version of your email.

This is kind of like giving your email a fail-safe button. If for some reason — due to one of the many factors discussed above — your lovingly designed email renders like an absolute mess when a subscriber opens it, they will at least have the option to click “view as web page” and see the email as you intended it to be.

Since style elements render much more consistently across web browsers versus email clients, you’ll be able to have way more control over the web page version of your message. In HubSpot, there’s an option you can turn on that will generate a web page version automatically.

Create a plain text version of your email.

A plain text version is exactly what it sounds like — an alternative version of your HTML email that renders in completely plain text. Adding a plain text version of your HTML email is important because some email clients and user settings can’t (or choose not to) load HTML.

If this is the case, the client will look for a plain text alternative version of your HTML email to load for the user. If one doesn’t exist, it could signal to the recipient’s email server that your message is spam — or potentially dangerous.

Most email tools like HubSpot will automatically provide a plain text version that displays if a recipient’s email server requires it, but if you’re coding an HTML email from scratch, you’ll need to create something called a multipart MIME message.

A multipart MIME message is an email that contains both a plain text and HTML version of the same email. If a recipient’s email client or security system doesn’t allow HTML email, the plain text version will be displayed. This is a process that requires an advanced knowledge of coding, so we recommend working with a developer.

Make sure your email still makes sense if the images don’t load.

Some users have automatic image-loading turned off, which means they’ll see your email without images when they open it. For this reason, don’t rely entirely on images to get the meaning of your message across, and always add alt-text to the images you do include. Alt-text will load even when images don’t, so your subscribers can get the general idea of what the visuals include.

5. Conduct thorough testing.

Finally, you’ll need to test your HTML email at every stage of development to ensure it works across different email clients, operating systems, and device types. Don’t wait until the very end of the process to test out your email — testing as you work is the best way to spot inconsistencies between different email clients and ensure you’re creating the most consistent experience possible for your recipients.

Some email tools (like HubSpot) offer in-app testing within their email builders to make the process easier. If you’re working from scratch, you can use a tool like HTML Email Check or PreviewMyEmail to get a better idea of how your email will look in different email clients and devices.

Simple and Free HTML Email Templates

There are an overwhelming amount of HTML email templates available on the web, and they vary in quality, responsiveness, and price. We’ve pulled together a selection of free HTML email templates that provide a responsive user experience. Be sure to read the terms and conditions on each individual template before use.

1. HubSpot Free HTML Email Template

Free HTML email template by HubSpot

Included in the free version of Marketing Hub, this template is a great place to start if you’re looking for a template with more room for customization. You can easily add images, text, and buttons in an intuitive drag-and-drop editor, and you can be confident that the templates you design will be fully responsive on any device.

2. Company News HTML Email Template by Campaign Monitor

Free HTML email template by Campaign MonitorThis modern template is sophisticated and minimal. The subtle color palette and simple design make it a versatile option for many different industries and purposes, and it’s been tested on different email clients and devices to ensure a consistent user experience across different platforms.

3. Free HTML Email Template by Unlayer

Free HTML email template by Unlayer

Though this template was designed for a fitness company, you can easily adapt it for your own. This clean, muted template is a great way to display content your team has created and connect subscribers with your most recent products or blog posts. The design features two fully responsive columns with multiple color scheme options, and room at the top to highlight a call-to-action.

4. MINImalist Free HTML Email Template

Free HTML email template by Mail Bakery

Proof that sometimes less really is more, this easy, fully responsive design makes the most of whitespace and keeps the focus firmly on your words and visual elements. Without design distractions, your content can really shine — on any device.

5. Free HTML Email Templates from Bee Free

Free HTML email template library by Bee Free

This collection of free, open-source templates are completely responsive and tested across popular email clients. You can edit and build on them on the Bee Free platform, then export the HTML file to your local drive.

These are an ideal option if you want a more styled, polished starting place, but you still want to be able to customize the design to fit your company’s needs. Each template is available in multiple formats for different marketing purposes, like transactional emails, NPS collection, and email subscriber re-engagement.

6. Free HTML Email Template by Campaign Monitor

Free HTML email template by Campaign Monitor advertising a discount code

This sleek, responsive design from Campaign Monitor would be perfect for sending out a discount code — but it could also serve as a stylish way to showcase your latest products to email subscribers. It’s also worth checking out Campaign Monitor’s full library of responsive email templates.

Create HTML Emails to Increase Your Subscriber Count

HTML emails are an engaging way to share what’s happening in your business and keep subscribers coming back for more. With the tips and templates we’ve shared, you’re well on your way to creating beautiful HTML emails without writing a single line of code.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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