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Workforce Trends You Need To Know About in 2022 [New Data]

The past two years have brought on changes in the workforce, especially when it comes to how people do their jobs and where they do their jobs.

In this post, we’ll discuss new data from HubSpot’s State of Consumer Trends Report that shows exactly how consumers feel about work in 2022 and what they expect from their employers.

Download Now: 2022 State of U.S. Consumer Trends Report

How Consumers Feel About Work in 2022

In 2022, consumers want businesses to continue to offer the remote and hybrid work models that increased in popularity in 2020. The State of Consumer Trends survey found that 40% of respondents are in the office full-time or nearly full-time, 32% are in remote roles, and 28% are in hybrid roles.

Even though people are returning to the office, 54% of remote and hybrid workers expect to continue to be able to work their preferred model, and more than half would consider leaving their role if they were required to return to the office full time.

Consumers also want the businesses they work for to understand what’s important to them in how they work, and 65% of those surveyed said they want to feel like they’re making a positive impact with the work they do.

Workforce Trends_300-01More than half of respondents also said they want to work for companies with a diverse and inclusive work culture. Valuable ways to speak to this desire and help employees feel seen in the workplace are offering employee resource groups for people to find community and encouraging healthy work/life balance habits.

Workforce Trends_300 02Regarding job satisfaction, 70% of survey respondents said they are satisfied with their current job, and 12% are dissatisfied.

People who stay in their current roles do so because of competitive pay, having a healthy work/life balance, and having a flexible work schedule, and those considering leaving do so because pay isn’t competitive, they experience burnout, and they don’t feel supported by management.

top 5 reasons consumers are considering leaving their jobs

With this in mind, potential economic instability could change how these trends look. Let’s go over what this could mean.

How the Recession Could Impact Today’s Workforce Trends

Although there have been no official declarations of recession, businesses preparing for potential economic instability will likely make decisions that preserve assets. This ensures that there is enough money to keep the company afloat, and many of these decisions initiate changes in investments, budgets, and even in the workforce and hiring practices.

For example, Meta, Twitter, and Uber are a few companies that have updated their hiring processes. Dara Khosrowshai, Uber CEO, said hiring will become a privilege, and the business will “Be deliberate about when and where we add headcount.”

Economic changes could also mean that businesses are more strict about how employees work. However, even if companies are more strict, consumers likely won’t change their desire for flexibility — some might even be more inclined to work remotely or hybrid if it could mean cutting costs for things like childcare or transportation.

Nela Richardson, Chief Economist at ADP and co-head of the ADP Research Institute, says that, in the face of a possible recession, companies will need to invest more in their people to stay competitive in the market.

However, the state of employment could change quickly if we were to enter a recession. So, the best way to keep employees satisfied is to understand their needs and what they want in the workforce. Many trends in the HubSpot Blog survey may become even more critical as economic instability can be stressful.

For example, workers might search for more support in their work environment, whether from managers, connecting with people like them in employee resource groups, or having a healthy work-life balance.

In addition, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people wanted businesses to support causes outside of work that contributed to the betterment of society, such as people laid off as businesses closed — a recession can cause these same issues that employees are passionate about.

Understanding Your Employees Is Critical

Employee satisfaction significantly impacts your business’s bottom line, so it’s essential to know who they are, what they stand for, and what they want from their employers. Having this information also makes it easier to retain them, whether during a period of economic prosperity or uncertainty.

If you want to learn more about consumer trends and their preferences for things like where they prefer to shop or how they feel about crypto and NFTs, check out the State of Consumer Trends Report.

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How (& Where) Consumers Discover Products on Social Media [New Data]

Marketing is all about meeting people where they are — and more often than not, they’re on social media. For this reason, it’s the perfect vehicle for product discovery.

Download Now: 2022 State of U.S. Consumer Trends Report

Of course, not all social media platforms are created equal, especially when it comes to product discovery. So, if you’re looking to pinpoint the platforms consumers use the most for product research, you’ve come to the right place.

Here, we’ll dive into:

Let’s dive in.

Shopper research is critical for a better understanding of the customer journey from initial searches to website visits and eventual purchases. Plus, the advent of digital- and mobile-first interactions has made this research even more important as the customer journey now includes multiple paths and touchpoints from start to finish.

For example, prospective buyers might hear about your brand from a friend, do their research on social media, and then interact with your ecommerce store through their mobile device.

Understanding all touchpoints along this journey can help companies create more seamless and streamlined experiences for consumers and increase overall ROI.

The Top Social Media Channels Consumers Use For Product Discovery

22% of consumers prefer to discover new products via social media, according to HubSpot’s 2022 State of Consumer Trends Report. Let’s take a closer look at the channels they leverage for product discovery:

Gen Z

57% of Gen Z have discovered new products on social media in the past three months, and 71% say it’s where they most often discover products.

Almost half (49%) of Gen Z consumers prefer to discover new products via Instagram Stories. This isn’t too surprising when you consider 90% of people follow a business on Instagram. On top of that, Gen Z ranks Instagram as their favorite social media app.

In second place, 41% want to discover new products through a short-form video — such as a TikTok or Instagram Reel. Since these platforms pull a younger audience, this adds up.

social media product researchMillennials

Millennials prefer to discover new products via feed or story posts. This could be anything from an Instagram Story to a Facebook post. Facebook, in particular, is the social app Millennials visit the most, followed closely by YouTube.

On top of that, Millennials also like to discover new products through short-form videos (36%).

Gen X

Gen X discovers new products on social media more frequently than any other channel, even though it isn’t preferred. Like Millennials, they’re most likely to find new products via feed or story posts.

Interestingly, this age group likes to discover new products through short-form videos (41%) in equal measure to Gen Z. It’s clear that short, snackable content is appealing to this demographic. In fact, 36% of TikTok users in 2021 were between 35 and 54 years old, a 10% increase from the year before.

Baby Boomers

Social media falls flat for boomers —  a slim 17% have discovered a product on it in the past three months, and only 4% have purchased a product on a social app in that time.

That said, of those who use social media, 42% prefer to discover new products via feed posts. The platforms they visit the most are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

What Types of Product Content Do Consumers Watch or Engage With?

If you’re looking to leverage social media, it’s a good idea to know what types of branded content consumers enjoy.

social media product research

Nearly half of consumers (48%) find funny content the most memorable, followed by relatable content. Additionally, making content that showcases your product or service — such as a demo, review, or tutorial — is also highly memorable to 36% of consumers.

Social Media Research Habits

To learn more about the social networks people prefer to surf for product research, I conducted a poll of 304 people using Lucid Software.

Shopper Insights reveal social media research habits

Source: Lucid Software

At first glance, the survey data seems simple: Facebook is far and away the market leader when it comes to product research and eventual purchasing, followed by YouTube.

But that’s not the whole story. Part of the reason Facebook and YouTube rank so highly is because of their massive user base — for example, Facebook has three times the user base of Instagram, despite being owned by the same company.

It’s also worth noting that while Facebook marketing appeals to a broader audience, volume alone doesn’t guarantee conversion. Users on Pinterest, TikTok, and Reddit tend to be much more engaged with their social community — meaning that if your brand can capture their attention you can create substantive consumer loyalty.

LinkedIn, meanwhile, relies on authenticity and authority to inspire confidence, while Twitter is all about what’s trending right now.

1. Facebook

Facebook has a whopping 2.7 billion active daily users and has been around since the early 2000s. Its audience includes multiple age groups and spans the globe, making it a solid place for most brands to market themselves.

Most importantly, 78% of US consumers discover new products on Facebook, more than any than other platform.

When it comes to marketing your product, you have many free and paid options on Facebook. Here are a few examples of each.

Free Promotion

By now, you probably know that any company can create a Facebook Business Page. Once you create a business page, you can share posts about your products and offerings. If you have happy customers, you can even ask them to review your business on Facebook so prospects researching you can see how you’ve pleased your customers in the past.

Aside from creating a page to highlight your brand, you can also post your products in Facebook’s Marketplace. Marketplace listings can include product shots, pricing, product specifications, and purchasing information. Although individual users often use the Marketplace to sell items they no longer want to other people, Facebook Business pages are also eligible to use this feature.

You should also consider talking about your products or offerings on Facebook Stories. This might take a little extra effort because it will require you to film or create content in the Story format, but it can help you better connect with prospective buyers who want a better sense of what your brand is about.

Paid Promotion

Because Facebook’s feed algorithmically favors posts from individual accounts over businesses, you might decide that you want to put money into Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads has a solid track record. It’s estimated that 10 million businesses were advertising on the platform in 2021.

With Facebook Ads, you can create advertisements with a certain goal in mind, such as conversions or in-store foot traffic. The detailed ads software also allows you to target specific audience demographics.

As a Facebook advertiser, you can either promote a post you’ve already created to ensure that it shows up on feeds of users in your demographic, or you can create native ads that might show up in feeds or on Facebook’s sidebars. While promoted posts look like an average post with a simple tag stating they’re promoted, the native ads look more like traditional ads to make it clear to users that the content they’re seeing is paid for.

If you want to launch video-based ads, Facebook also allows you to promote video content or buy in-stream ad placements that appear in Facebook Live videos or longer videos that other users have uploaded.

2. YouTube

If how-tos or video tutorials are part of your content marketing strategy. YouTube will be a natural fit for your brand. This is because YouTube users are three times more likely to prefer watching a YouTube tutorial video compared to reading the product’s instructions.

YouTube is also popular across multiple age groups. In the last three months, 83% of Millennials have visited YouTube, followed by 81% of Gen Z, and 79% of Gen X. For Baby Boomers, YouTube is their second favorite social media app, just behind Facebook.

With a branded YouTube channel, you can publish video content such as demos, tutorials, or customer testimonial videos that give insightful details about why your product is valuable. By filming your own videos, you can insure that you’re highlighting all the great aspects of your product that make it stand out from its competitors.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to create your own videos, sponsoring an influencer’s content, tutorial, or review related to your product allows you to tap into that content creator’s audience as they tell their followers more about your offerings.

Aside from creating your own account or hiring an influencer to give a review or tutorial, you could also consider paid advertisements. YouTube offers a few ad styles including TrueView, Preroll, and Bumpers.

These ads allow you to submit a short video ad to YouTube which is then placed at the beginning or in the middle of videos with metrics and demographics that match your brand’s target. To learn the ins and outs of setting up an ad and determining which style is right for you, check out this guide.

YouTube Paid Ad Example

3. Instagram

Although Instagram ranked in third place in the poll above, you shouldn’t disregard it especially if you’re targeting Gen-Z or millennials who make up the platform’s primary audience.

For years, Instagram’s visual layout has made it a hot spot for influencer marketing. Influencers regularly post sponsored photos and videos about their experiences with products. Like YouTube, these influencers also regularly publish video posts or Stories that present tutorials, reviews, and unboxings related to a product.

Aside from influencer marketing, many brands also promote their products on Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, and through standard video or photo posts on Instagram Feed.

Here’s an example where Kylie Jenner, the CEO and Founder of Kylie Cosmetics, films a Story-based product tutorial for her company’s Instagram account:

Kylie Jenner promotes KylieCosmetics on the brand's Instagram Stories

Along with free strategies, Instagram now offers Shoppable posts. With Shoppable posts, you can promote a product in an Instagram post that links to your Facebook Catalog. Here’s an example of what a Shoppable Post looks like:

A necklace is shown in an Instagram Shoppable post

To be eligible for Shoppable posts, you must have an Instagram Business page that’s linked to a Facebook Catalog. This feature is also only for businesses selling physical goods.

Here’s a blog post that goes into detail about how to use and optimize Shoppable posts.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest encourages people to pin image-based posts that inspire them to digital boards, mimicking the process of creating a physical inspiration board.

Because people come to this platform to be inspired to do something, such as travel or home decorating, they might find themselves pinning all sorts of product-oriented images to a themed board. For example, someone who wants to redecorate their office might create an “Office Inspiration” board and pin photos of furniture or decorative items that they’d like to buy.

Here’s an example of what these boards look like:

Office Inspiration Pinterest Board showing various office products

To make it easier for people to find your products, you could consider starting a Pinterest account and making a few boards to highlight your products. For example, if you’re marketing a travel company, you could make a board for each country that you offer packages to. On each board, you could place images of trip activities that link to your website.

Then, if someone is trying to plan a trip to a country you sell a package for, they might come across one of your posts and pin it to their own “Travel Inspiration” board.

To give you a real-world example of how brands use Pinterest, below is a Wedding Registry board created by Target which features images of products that a bride and groom might want to add to their gift registry.

Target products presented in Target's own Wedding Registry Ideas Pinterest Board

Each of Target’s pinned images links to the company website so users can share the pin on their own Pinterest board, or click straight through the post to buy or register the product.

If you have an advertising budget, you can also consider launching pay-per-click ads on Pinterest. Pinterest Ads enables your posts to be seen by people in a specific demographic that matches your own. The platform also allows you to A/B test photos and target ads to Pinterest users on your contact lists.

Want to learn more about Pinterest Ads and effective experiments to run? Check out this blog post from a PPC and Pinterest expert.

5. Reddit

Reddit encourages users to create discussion threads in themed online communities, called subreddits. As the platform has evolved, many users have created both threads and subreddits devoted to talking about products, like fast-food restaurants or video games.

Below is an example of a subreddit, or online community, that Reddit users created to talk about all things related to Xbox One.

XboxOne Subreddit discussions on Reddit

However, because comments with promotional language in them often get downvoted or buried in feeds by more engaging Reddit threads, you’ll need to be creative if you want to engage with audiences on this platform.

While you might want to keep an eye on Reddit or experiment with it, don’t put all of your time and resources into it at least right now. As it evolves, the platform may become an easier platform to market your brand on, but at the moment, Reddit marketing strategies still require more brainstorming and time than tactics on other social platforms.

Although this platform has been called one of the “trickiest” for marketers to crack, some bigger brands have figured out how to reach the platform’s discussion-oriented users.

For example, some brands will create subreddits related to their product, while others will interact by commenting on threads related to their industry.

Aside from creating content for free on Reddit, you can alternatively pay into sponsored posts or ads, similarly to Facebook or Twitter. These ads will appear in a user’s feed or as a promoted comment in a thread or subreddit.

To learn more about the ins and outs of Reddit marketing, click here for tips and examples of how other brands have cultivated the platform.

6. LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s platform, which emphasizes networking and career-related chatter, might be well-suited for product marketing in B2B, academic, or professional industries. People who do product research on this platform might be looking for a service, tool, or software that can either escalate their careers or make their workdays easier.

If you’re marketing products like software, online courses, business-related publications, or anything that can help a professional or student do their job better, LinkedIn will be a great fit for you. However, if you sell more general, consumer-facing products like makeup or home decorations, you might want to put more marketing effort into other platforms on this list like Facebook or Instagram.

While the professional nature of LinkedIn and its audience might not be suited for all brands, the platform still offers a variety of opportunities for brands to leverage it. For example, research shows that 80% of B2B leads come straight from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is very similar to Facebook in that you can post about your product or service for free, or purchase ads or post promotion to get information about your business front and center on feeds. To see a few great ad examples, check out this post.

LinkedIn Course Offering

Image Source

7. Twitter

Twitter has approximately 200 million daily users from a variety of backgrounds, geographic locations, and industries. Its broad demographic might provide solid marketing opportunities to many different types of businesses. Because of its broad user base, you might want to create an account on Twitter and post regularly for brand awareness.

If you’re interested in video marketing, you can also experiment with Twitter’s live video feature and use it to film a tutorial or Q&A related to your product.

Aside from posting about your product for free, you can also pay into targeted ads or promoted tweets. Twitter claims that its advertising ROI is 40% higher than some other social channels.

While the ROI of Twitter advertising and its user base sounds promising, you might be wondering why it ranked so low on the poll shown above.

Ultimately, what might make Twitter rank last is its trend-oriented nature. The platform encourages people to connect with each other and post tweets or comments about current events, trending hashtags, or their thoughts on other specific topics.

Brands and product discussion are both prevalent on the platform, but users might go to Twitter to learn more about what’s going on in the world, rather than new products. When people are asked to pick which platform they do the most product research on, it’s not surprising that Facebook or YouTube might seem like a more obvious choice than Twitter.

While you should be on Twitter due to its sheer user base and advertising ROI, you’ll want to keep its audience’s need to stay trendy and informed in mind as you’re creating posts and advertisements for the platform. This might help you make social content that both engages these audiences while still weaving in information about how valuable your product is.

Twitter Product Marketing

Identifying the Right Platforms for Product Marketing

While running ads and product promotions on any social platform can help drive conversion, it’s a good idea to focus on platforms with audiences that already align well with your brand.

For example, broader audiences are actively looking for products or researching brands on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest while Reddit and Twitter users tend to be more trend-focused. Similarly, if you’re marketing a B2B company, you might see a better ROI from ads on a professional network like LinkedIn than ads on a more consumer-friendly platform like Instagram.

Use the information provided above, and start leveraging social media for lead conversion and product marketing.

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How to Write a LinkedIn Recommendation in 2020 [Quick Tip]

When you get a recommendation from someone you respect and admire, you may feel honored and want to return the favor. But figuring out how to write a LinkedIn recommendation that is specific, honest, succinct, and helpful isn’t easy.

Most people get stuck. You might not know how to start or what to say. But with some simple templates and tips, you’ll be writing stellar testimonials on LinkedIn for your favorite people.

Free Guide: How to Use LinkedIn for Business, Marketing, and Networking  [Download Now]

Keep reading to learn how to write a LinkedIn recommendation. Then check out some recommendation examples and a quick recommendation letter template.

You can use these tools to write authentic and useful LinkedIn endorsements that can help move someone’s job search in the right direction. Let’s get started.

1. Explain the nature of your professional relationship.

That sounds really serious, but it’s simply a helpful piece of context that acts as an intro for your recommendation. Whether it’s a coworker you’ve worked closely with for years or a recent agency point of contact, it sets the stage for the reader to learn why you’re writing this recommendation.

For Example:

I’ve worked alongside Lisa for close to two years now.

2. Offer details about the position this person is working toward.

Are you recommending this person for their work in one position? Or are you writing about their work across multiple jobs they’ve held while you worked with them?

Either way, a great next step is to explain some of the notable parts of their job. It may feel strange — kind of like you’re listing out their job description. But this is helpful for anyone reading the recommendation, looking to get a feel for what they did in their job.

Resist the urge to create a laundry list of their job duties. If they’ve really worn that many hats, I recommend contacting them to see if there’s a certain part of their role they’d like emphasized over others.

For Example:

In those two years, I’ve seen her not only excel at the core elements of her job — like copywriting and copyediting — but also learn other tasks that extend well beyond the scope of her role. These include email marketing, event planning, and even championing our company’s internal communications.

3. Explain how they’ve grown at the company.

If this person reports (or once reported) to you, this aspect of a LinkedIn recommendation can go a long way. Explaining how the person you’re recommending has grown — either in their role or from one role to another — can show an ability to adapt as the organization expands.

Just be careful not to overstate any low points in the person’s career that can dilute the value of the growth you’re trying to highlight.

For Example:

Lisa has grown as quickly as our business has, and her willingness to learn and take on these new responsibilities is something sought-after in any professional.

4. Show how their contribution helped grow the team or company.

This could be an explanation of how their performance helped hit hard metrics. You could also talk about contributions like leading their teammates or fostering new initiatives.

For Example:

Lisa’s mastery of both her core role and extra projects have been critical to the company’s growth. In fact, her taking on internal company communication aligned with a sharp increase in employee happiness.

5. Explain what these achievements reveal about that person.

By now, you’ve included some specifics — so let’s explain what those specifics mean for the larger theme of your recommendation. Do the examples you’ve detailed reveal that person is hard-working? Ambitious? Great for team morale? Connect their accomplishments with their attributes.

For Example:

This rare mix of productivity and ambition sets a great example for the rest of the team. It also explains why everyone loves working with Lisa — no matter where they fall on the org chart.

6. End with a note about the personal aspect of working with them.

In this section, hit the message home with a mention of how you felt working with the person, your hopes for their career, or a prediction about their future.

For Example:

Lisa’s work has continued to pay dividends long past her tenure here and I still miss working with her every day. I can’t wait to see what she does with the next step in her career trajectory.

LinkedIn Recommendation Examples

Recommendation From an Employee

According to a 2021 SHRM report, over 40% of employees are looking for a new job. And according to a 2022 Gartner survey, 50% of employees have different employer expectations than they did before the pandemic.

Employee recommendations show that a stakeholder respects the opinions of the people they manage. It also shows how they lead from the bottom up.

In the recommendation below, a person discusses how their supervisor progressed at the company and how this person mentored them so they too could grow as an employee.

Example 1:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Employee

Why we like this LinkedIn recommendation:

This recommendation shows how the relationship between employee and manager evolved over time. Work relationships that shift from peer to manager can be tough. They can sometimes create power struggles, miscommunication, and more. But this LinkedIn recommendation example highlights mutual respect, care, and professional growth.

Example 2:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Employee

Why this is a good LinkedIn recommendation:

Soft skills can be difficult for recruiters and employers to assess. So the recommendation above is valuable because it talks about a manager/employee relationship that was essential to this employee. This gives them a sense of how this manager might engage their new team.

Example 3:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Employee

Why we like this LinkedIn recommendation:

An authentic recommendation is much more useful than a form letter. The letter above shows how this manager balanced kindness, critique, and composure on his team.

Recommendation from an Employer

Employer recommendations may be a replacement or a complement to the job requirements for many positions. This makes employer recommendations an important LinkedIn addition. Unlike most standard letters of recommendation, LinkedIn letters are usually short and to the point. Instead of a full page, most are short but dense paragraphs like the examples below.

For example, in this recommendation, an employer explains how an employee progressed and executed projects that made a big impact on their company.

Example 1:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Employer

Why we like this LinkedIn recommendation:

This letter jumps immediately into specific job functions, technical skills, and soft skills. A quick scan of this letter can show any employer what this person does best and how those skills can translate to other jobs or employers.

Example 2:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Employer

Why this is a good LinkedIn recommendation:

Connecting actions to outcomes can make it easier for prospective employers to understand the value an employee can bring to their team. This quick letter clearly connects what this new hire did, how she approached changes and the results that came from her actions.

Example 3:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Employer

Why we like this LinkedIn recommendation:

This recommendation letter uses industry-specific terms to show the activities and outcomes this employee was responsible for. This makes it easy for employers to understand how that performance could translate to their business and team.

Recommendation from a Coworker

Over 20% of LinkedIn users are 18-24 years old. This means that many LinkedIn users are recent graduates who might have limited job experience.

LinkedIn user statistics

Employers are looking to LinkedIn for a sense of your commitment, engagement, and soft skills at work. Coworkers are a great source to highlight these areas. Let’s look at some excellent coworker recommendations from LinkedIn.

Example 1:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Coworker

Why we like this LinkedIn recommendation:

This letter quickly highlights how long these two have worked together, what they did, and what this candidate’s strongest soft skills are. It stays positive but also showcases how this person responds to pressure.

Example 2:

How to write a LinkedIn recommendation example: Coworker

Why this is a good LinkedIn recommendation:

A recommendation full of job-specific details that emphasize abilities is always useful. At the same time, this letter shows off qualities that may not come into a job interview, depending on the role. By outlining teaching skills and continuing education, this recommendation shows potential employers how this candidate is preparing for the future.

LinkedIn Recommendation Sample (for a Manager)

Now, writing a LinkedIn recommendation can seem easy, but it’s not. What if the employee you’re recommending is your superior? This can make it more difficult to recommend the person — even if you’re saying stellar things about them.

Here’s a sample LinkedIn recommendation — written in full — that a manager would be proud to receive.

I’ve worked for Lisa for two years. During that time I’ve seen her quickly take on new responsibilities while making time to teach these new skills to her employees.

By inheriting tasks like campaign analytics and email A/B testing — both of which extend beyond the scope of our team — she’s made our department much more agile and set me up for promotion last month. Lisa is a great person and manager, and her next employer will be lucky to have her.

Now proofread, and hit send. Remember, the person you’re writing your recommendation for can review and request changes. So, you’ll have a chance to make changes and submit a recommendation that they’ll appreciate.

Write a Recommendation on LinkedIn Today

LinkedIn isn’t just job hunting and your professional reputation. It’s about building relationships. The sooner you start writing recommendations with the steps above, the better your professional relationships can be.

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

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How Apple iOS 15 is Impacting Email Marketers [New Data]

Back in September 2021, the announcement of Apple’s iOS 15 data privacy changes triggered a mass hysteria among email marketers, with some even proclaiming that email marketing as we know it could come to an end. 

Considering that Apple Mail and Apple mobile devices make up over 35% of the global email provider market share, those fears didn’t seem too far-fetched.

But the question remains – were these fears well-founded or were they false alarms? 

Now that enough time has passed to see the impact of data privacy changes, I surveyed 300 email marketers to understand how iOS 15 and GDPR changes have affected their marketing strategies and the steps they took to adapt.

Get Started with HubSpot's Email Marketing Software for Free

The Impact of Data Privacy Changes

Change can be scary for all of us, but when that change includes reduced visibility into email analytics, it’s no surprise that email marketers were shaking in their boots when iOS15 was announced.

Surprisingly, my survey shows that the changes, while definitely impactful, were not all bad.

While two-thirds of email marketers surveyed report a moderate-to-significant impact on their email marketing strategy, whether the impact was positive, neutral, or negative, is not as clear-cut as you might assume.

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.38.03 PMFor starters, 47% of email marketers say the impact of data privacy changes was neutral on their email marketing strategy. Admittedly, 29% said the changes had a negative impact, but 24% said the contrary, claiming data privacy changes had a positive impact on their marketing strategy.

How is this possible?

To answer this, let’s break down our survey data on the specific ways data privacy changes affected email marketers, and the strategies they took to adapt. 

This will help us understand how some marketers made the most out of the situation and came out on top, while others weren’t able to keep up.

How Are Data Privacy Changes Affecting Email Marketing Strategies?

In the survey, I found that 65% of email marketers say they’ve been impacted by both Apple’s iOS 15 updates and GDPR. 

I also asked them to share how their email marketing strategy has been affected by each, and interestingly enough, the results were very similar.

Email marketers in both camps were most impacted by the same factors, in the same order:

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.39.37 PMSo what can we take away from this?

For one, these changes have a similar impact whether you are affected by Apple iOS15, GDPR, or both. 

More importantly, data privacy changes clearly have a meaningful impact on certain functions that have been core to email marketers’ jobs. 

With location-based targeting, click-through rates, open rates, and A/B testing taking a hit, many email marketers have no choice but to adapt. So let’s explore how exactly they did that.

4 Ways Email Marketers Are Adapting to Data Privacy Changes

After the initial panic, email marketers began finding creative ways to reach their target audience and measure the impact of their marketing efforts. These are the most popular strategies they used:

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.40.44 PM

1. Prioritizing Different KPIs

At #1, 62% of impacted email marketers started prioritizing different KPIs to measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. 

To HubSpotters, this isn’t surprising. In fact, it’s one of the first strategies our own email team used when navigating the changes.

So let’s take a closer look at which KPIs became more and less important in a post-iOS15 and GDPR world.

The KPI hit the hardest by iOS 15 is email open rates. With the update, users can prevent email marketers from seeing when and if they opened a marketing email.

But don’t worry, this just means it’s time to turn to other KPIs like clicks, click-through rates, web traffic, click maps, unsubscribe rates, and audience surveys:

Clicks, Click Rate, and Clickthrough Rate

Ultimately, KPIs like clicks and click-through rates can tell you how engaging your content is. And, aside from those metrics, features like click maps, let you see exactly where people are clicking in your email, offering you a glimpse of what portions of your email are most (and least) engaging.

In a previous blog post, Jordan Pritikin, who leads HubSpot’s Email and Growth Marketing teams, similarly explained, “[Focusing on clicks, click rates, and conversions] is the right course of action. Looking at clicks and conversions is much more closely tied to how your database is engaging with your email programs,” 

Website Traffic and Leads

For email marketers, engagement isn’t their only goal. For example, while HubSpot’s acquisition team might send emails with goals of landing page conversion, our Blog team sends emails filled with blog posts to encourage traffic to our blog. 

That’s why website traffic and even conversions from your marketing emails can be tracked when sending through software like HubSpot. High email traffic indicates your email content is succeeding at getting recipients to visit your site. Meanwhile, high lead counts from emails indicate that you’ve successfully nurtured contacts to a landing page. 

Unsubscribe and Spam Rates 

Spiking unsubscribe rates can indicate that the content you are sending, or the frequency, has caused you to lose more of your audience than usual. On the other hand, a low unsubscribe rate means you are retaining your readers.

Similarly, getting one spam report here and there doesn’t necessarily mean everyone dislikes your content – but seeing a rise in spam rates could mean that subscribers suddenly see no value in your content, find it annoying, or aren’t getting what they signed up for. 

Open Rates (with a Grain of Salt)

As Pritikin wrote, “Open rates will not be going away. They will just be — different.” 

And, while you could say, “We will never look at open rates again,” you could still be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring them completely. At this point, you should continue to monitor your average open rate (and how it changes). This way, you can create a new Open Rate benchmark for your team that’s adjusted to meet new tracking standards. 

While an adjusted open rate benchmark won’t be 100% accurate, it will still tell you when you’ve successfully gotten a large chunk of subscribers to open an email, and when your subject line might need work.

HubSpot’s Adjusted Open Rate feature can help you achieve a better estimate of email opens. The features uses the following formula:

Adjusted open rate = Unique reliable opens / (Unique delivered – Unique unreliable opens)

Adjusted open rate can also be used as backup evidence if you’re using all of your KPIs to determine the success of a new strategy or email campaign. 

Surveys or Feedback Forms

Each time the HubSpot Blog tests a major email experiment or a new type of content in our emails, we try to include a feedback survey where readers can let us know what they thought. Meanwhile, The Hustle and other HubSpot emails offer a rating scale where you can rate your email experience and give feedback. 

While this doesn’t always lead to make-or-break data, surveying, polling, or seeking feedback from your audience can also be a great way to understand their interests and what they want to see more or less of in the future.

2. Gaining User Data From Other Sources

The second most popular strategy is leveraging user data from sources unaffected by data privacy changes, used by 52% of impacted email marketers.

An example of this would be analyzing email data coming from non-Apple users, which can still give you a clear idea of an email’s open rate, among other metrics.

3. Expanding on Messaging Channels

Coming in at #3, 37% of impacted email marketers started leveraging channels other than email marketing, like SMS.

Before you scoff at the idea, consider these facts. 3.8 billion people currently carry a cell phone with them everywhere they go and 48 million opted in to receive marketing messages over text in 2020. 

Still not convinced? Here’s the kicker – SMS has a 98% open rate, while our survey shows that only 3% of marketing emails have an open rate above 50%. Furthermore, 65% of marketing emails have an open rate that falls in the 16-35% range, significantly lower than the open rate of SMS correspondences.

If you’re ready to add SMS to your marketing strategy, you can find 30 SMS templates here

But there are plenty of channels marketers can lean on. In our recent media planning survey, we found that while email marketing is the most popular channel marketers leverage, it comes in #3 for ROI, and doesn’t see high engagement.

Paid social media content, however, has the highest ROI and engagement of any marketing channel, followed by organic social media content at #2 for both ROI and engagement. Organic search (SEO) also has comparable ROI and engagement levels when compared to email marketing.

which media channels have highest ROI

4. Improving Email Deliverability

Lastly, 28% of email marketers responded to privacy changes by focusing on improving email deliverability. 

That means leveraging strategies like maintaining a healthy email list, providing easy unsubscribe options, personalizing emails, using engaging subject lines and preview text, and making sure your emails and mailing list are GDPR compliant.

While this data on how email marketers adapted to privacy changes tells us which strategies are most popular, we also want to know which are most effective. 

Want more tips and tricks for navigating iOS 15? Check out this video: 

The Email Strategy Pivots That Help Most

So let’s compare these strategies by splitting our data by those who say privacy changes had a positive impact on their email marketing strategy vs. those who report a negative impact:

Screen Shot 2022-03-28 at 12.41.42 PMLooking at the data above, we can see that those who say the data privacy changes had a positive impact on their email marketing strategy are:

  • 9% more likely to prioritize different KPIs to measure the effectiveness of email marketing
  • 7% more likely to leverage channels other than email for marketing
  • 21% less likely to focus on improving email deliverability
  • 5% less likely to leverage user data from sources unaffected by data privacy changes.

While the differences between these groups can give you an idea of where to get started, remember that these strategies can all be effective, and every situation is unique. 

For example, if a majority of your customers use Apple mail, it may not be as effective to study email data of the handful of your clients who use Gmail or Outlook. 

Navigating Email Privacy Impacts

All in all, email privacy protection is not even close to “the end of the world” for email marketers. That said, it does and will continue to require some creative pivoting. 

Like any major online marketing strategy, email marketers must learn how to adapt to a changing world that continues to prioritize consumer privacy. And, although privacy features will continue to evolve and pose new challenges for brands, companies that navigate them successfully will still be able to create experiences that feel personalized, memorable, and – importantly – secure for online audiences. 

Ultimately, that’s good for everyone.

Want to learn more about Apple iOS 15’s email privacy protection updates? Get the backstory here, learn how HubSpot’s email team has responded, or this Community thread if you’re a HubSpot user.

Looking to find a tool that offers transparent email data estimates and can help you optimize your messaging for the most engagement possible? Check out HubSpot’s own Email tools

email marketing free

10 Expert Tips to Improve Lead Quality

Quality leads create more conversions.

But what exactly does “quality” mean when it comes to leads? Put simply, quality leads are those with a higher likelihood of moving down the sales funnel from awareness to interest to intent to conversion.

Finding quality leads doesn’t happen by accident. To achieve this goal, brands need a lead qualification process that effectively pinpoints key characteristics that make potential customers more likely to become loyal buyers.Download Now: Free Sales & Marketing Lead Goal Calculator

To help you get started, we’ve got 10 expert tips for improving lead quality.

Lead qualification typically takes the form of stock questions that depend on your offering. For example, if you’re selling insurance you might ask questions about age, current health conditions, and previous medical histories. If you’re selling a B2B service, you might ask a lead if they’re the one in charge of the decision-making. If not, you may need to speak with someone else.

An effective lead qualification process helps eliminate leads that aren’t currently in a position to buy, in turn allowing sales teams to focus their efforts more likely prospective purchasers. This also lets businesses funnel prospects that aren’t quite ready for sales into future marketing campaigns so they can stay in the loop about any updates and reach out again when they’re ready to take the next step.

3 Reasons Why You’re Getting Bad Leads

So why are you getting bad leads in the first place? If prospective customers are interested in your product, what’s standing in the way?

Three causes are common culprits of bad leads:

1. Poor quality pay-per-click (PPC) leads

Are your PPC purchases returning leads that are actually qualified to make purchases or just providing more generic lead details? If so, consider more specific PPC guidelines or changing PPC providers.

2. Ineffective offers and calls to action

Have you covered your entire sales funnel, or are you only offering early-funnel conversion opportunities? Are your offers for free materials that have nothing to do with your business? Do you have calls to action on your website? Are they shiny and compelling?

3. Lack of targeted landing pages

Do your landing pages conform to best practices? Does the text actually describe the offer? Does the text help to qualify WHO should be filling out the form? If the answer to those questions is “yes”, you should consider adding more qualifying fields to your forms. Find out from sales what their top 3 qualifying questions are, and put them on your forms.

1. Define Your Audience

How to Improve Lead Quality: define your audience with HubSpot's persona tool

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Getting more qualified leads means making sure you know who your audience is and what they’re looking for. Start by creating your ideal buyer persona. Maybe you’re looking for a business decision-maker with access to capital and the drive to solve specific pain points within their organization.

While the ideal audience will differ for every company, defining this audience goes a long way toward improving lead quality.

Here, tools like Google Analytics can help pinpoint your audience.

2. Choose Your Keywords

How to Improve Lead Quality: choose your keywords with google ads

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Along with your audience, choose keywords that align with what your brand is trying to sell and what qualified leads want. Achieve this goal with keyword research: See what comes up when you search your target keywords, such as the top-ranking posts and the most popular questions.

Using this data, create content, forms, and offers that reflect buyer preferences and align with your offerings.

Consider solutions like Google Ads to find your ideal keywords.

3. Create Targeted Content

How to Improve Lead Quality: create targeted content

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Targeted content helps you get ahead of potential questions or concerns. By creating landing pages and FAQs that address common issues and answer common questions before your sales team connects with leads, you can reduce the amount of time staff spend covering common ground and instead let them focus on the details of making a sale.

Try HubSpot’s survey tools to find out what your audience wants.

4. Develop Detailed Forms

How to Improve Lead Quality: develop detailed forms

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By developing detailed contact forms, marketing teams can reduce the risk of sending unqualified leads to sales times.

First, ensure that all relevant form fields are required. These may include company name, contact email address, the full name of a potential lead, and their position within the organization.

It’s also worth creating forms that allow potential customers to describe their current pain points along with the type of solution or service they’re looking to find.

Use HubSpot’s Free Online Form Builder to create targeted forms.

5. Identify Decision-Makers

How to Improve Lead Quality: identify decision makers

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While more detailed forms can help increase total lead quality, they can’t guarantee that decision-makers are the ones reaching out.

Instead, companies can boost lead quality by proactively identifying decision-makers and initiating conversations. Start with a look at your current clientele: What role(s) do decision-makers in these companies usually hold? Then, do some research on prospective clients to see who holds similar positions and reach out to them directly. Not only does this increase the overall quality of the lead — provided you create compelling content — but also streamlines the sales process.

Solutions like people.ai can help you find decision-makers.

6. Automate Where Possible

How to Improve Lead Quality: automate marketing efforts like email

 

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The sheer amount of leads that companies can now generate from both traditional marketing campaigns and PPC efforts means that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose the plot on who’s qualified and who’s not

As a result, it’s worth automating both contact and evaluation processes where possible. For example, email automation tools can help take care of reaching out to potential prospects without having staff compose hundreds and hundreds of messages, while automated evaluation software can pinpoint potential issues with collected data that may indicate a prospect is not ready to buy.

Check out HubSpot’s Marketing Automation Software to streamline key tasks.

7. Align Sales and Marketing

How to Improve Lead Quality: align sales and marketing toward a common goal

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Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin, but often end up on opposite sides of the lead qualification process.

While marketing focuses on bringing in new leads, sales wants to make sure these leads are qualified before putting in the time and effort required for conversion. If sales teams feel like marketing isn’t delivering quality leads, and marketing thinks that sales is being too picky, the result is a disaster waiting to happen.

Instead, align sales and marketing from the get-go. Sit both teams down in a room and hash out what a great lead looks like, what getting these leads required, the process of handing off leads from marketing to sales.

Products like Ruler Analytics help with this alignment at scale.

8. Ask for Referrals

How to Improve Lead Quality: ask for referrals

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Sometimes it’s OK to take the easier route. Instead of building a new lead roster from scratch, it’s worth asking current customers for referrals. You can offer them discounts or other benefits, but if they like what you’re doing it shouldn’t take much convincing to have them pass on the contact data of decision-makers in similar companies, or to reach out on your behalf.

Consider a solution like Referral Factory to streamline this process.

9. Track Your Data

How to Improve Lead Quality: track your data

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To ensure your lead quality is stable, track your initial and repeat sales conversions. If you notice that either one of these metrics is falling, it may be worth reexamining lead qualification processes to ensure that the leads you’re generating have the means and motive to make a purchase.

Act-On can help you track relevant lead data across your organization.

10. Make Changes as Needed

How to Improve Lead Quality: make changes as needed

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Last but not least? Don’t get stuck in a rut. If current lead generation tactics aren’t delivering the quality you want, make changes. Rethink your keyword strategy, create new content, or broaden your target market. In other words, focus on the outcome, not the operations, to inform your lead generation.

Take charge of your changes with HubSpot’s Marketing Software.

Taking the Lead

Higher quality leads help boost the quantity of sales conversions. But quality leads don’t just fall in your lap — to get the best leads for your business, you need to find the right audience, target your content, track your data, and make changes as needed to keep quality high and sales steady.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How to Calculate Your Lead Goal

What is a KPI? How To Choose the Best KPIs for Your Business

The question “what is a KPI?” comes up at many meetings. If you want to scale your company, you might be wondering about KPIs and how they can help your business grow.

Reviewing performance through key performance indicators (KPIs), tells your team when you’ve met the mark or fallen short. But how do you pick the right KPIs for your business?

→ Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template

In this post, we’ll walk you through what a KPI is, which KPIs you should focus on, and how you can hone in on the metrics that matter most for your business.

Keep reading, or jump to the section you’re looking for:

  • What is a KPI?
  • Why are KPIs important?
  • Types of Key Performance Indicators
  • KPIs vs. Metrics
  • OKR vs. KPI
  • How To Determine KPIs
  • KPI Examples
  • How To Measure KPIs

What is a KPI and what is not a KPI graphic

Whether a KPI is for a one-off campaign or a long-term initiative, it can help teams track their progress, improve results, and stay on track.

Businesses use KPIs to figure out whether they are reaching their top goals. These KPIs usually track the overall health and performance of the organization.

Departments use KPIs to show the value of their efforts to the business. These performance indicators help teams work toward set outcomes and solve issues that stand in the way of those goals.

And employees use KPIs to understand how their individual efforts contribute to project, team, and organizational goals.

KPIs can also help track the effectiveness of:

  • Projects
  • Processes
  • Campaigns
  • Strategic changes

A KPI is also useful for cross-departmental collaboration, as it makes it simple to see what other teams are working toward at a glance. KPIs tell companies if their hunches are right and if what they are doing is working.

Important note: KPIs should measure your most essential indicators.

For instance, your social media team may have a ton of data points that can serve as KPIs. However, they should only choose the ones that align with the broader business goals. Let’s say it’s brand awareness. In this case, follower count, post reach, and impressions will likely be the social media KPI metrics to measure.

With that in mind, having KPIs means narrowing your focus to a few vital metrics that will influence your business the most.

Why are KPIs important?

People around the world generated and consumed 64.2 zettabytes in 2020. And according to Statista, that number should reach 181 zettabytes by 2025.

How much is a zettabyte? One billion terabytes. And how much is a terabyte? About one trillion bytes. That’s a lot of information. That means that your business is processing more information than ever before.

As you process that ever-growing mass of data, it can start to feel overwhelming. For example, this post on sales metrics outlines over 140 metrics that one sales manager might track in a month. These are valuable metrics that can help salespeople excel. But add in weekly metrics, and it’s no surprise that 80% of workers are suffering from information overload.

Why are KPIs important graphic

Enter the KPI. When you select a KPI for your business or team, it narrows the focus of your efforts. This one strategy can help your team rally around what’s most meaningful. It can push teams to get results faster, be more productive, and make useful changes when they’re needed.

A KPI is more than a number. It’s a message, a story that quickly shows your team whether you are moving toward the goals you’ve set together. Key performance indicators can help:

  • Keep high-level goals top of mind
  • Convert abstract ideas into manageable targets
  • Cut down on data overload

Strong KPIs can help your business save time, get critical insights, guide management, and keep your business on a long-term path of growth.

Because KPIs are so critical, it’s essential to set the right KPIs for your business. The wrong KPI can disrupt even the strongest team.

For example, say your marketing team is selecting a KPI for its growth goals. Ranking in search engine results is important for a blog, so the amount of #1 keyword rankings could seem like a good KPI.

But what if your blog’s top-ranking keywords don’t relate to your business goals? What if those keywords have low traffic volume or don’t connect to qualified leads? In this situation, organic traffic is probably a better KPI.

Choosing the right KPI might take some extra research, so let’s talk about the different types of KPIs.

Types of Key Performance Indicators

While there are many different indicators of performance that a business can measure, most fall under two categories:

Quantitative KPIs

A quantitative KPI uses numbers to measure progress toward a goal. The majority of KPIs are quantitative, like the number of closed sales, customer service tickets, or annual revenue.

Quantitative KPI example

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Qualitative KPIs

A qualitative KPI tracks non-numerical data, like customer comments or employee engagement. While there are ways to get quantitative data from qualitative research, these KPIs focus on non-numerical data.

For example, say a company just released a new product online. As soon as the product listing goes live they’ll track quantitative metrics like:

  • Product sales
  • Abandoned carts
  • Product page views

At the same time, the company would also track qualitative data like product reviews and customer surveys. This can help the team figure out how people are responding to the product and how to keep improving it.

Qualitative KPI example

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Most businesses use more than one KPI to track performance and may combine KPIs to reach a set goal.

There are other measures that companies use to hone in on their business goals.

Other Key Performance Indicators

Leading KPIs: This is quantitative data that helps a business measure potential responses to a change. For example, if a SaaS business plans to launch a new feature, leading indicators can help it project future results.

Lagging KPIs: These measure results after a change to track whether that change is meeting expectations. These are sometimes also called output indicators. For example, after the SaaS business launch above, lagging indicators will show the actual outcomes of the release.

Leading and lagging KPIs can help teams make corrections early. This can save the business time, effort, and investment over time.

Input KPIs: These track the resources a business needs for a campaign, project, or process.

Process KPIs: Process KPIs track how well a new process is working and help target potential changes. For example, a common process KPI is the time it takes to close a support ticket.

Practical KPIs: These track current internal company processes and how they impact other parts of the business.

Directional KPIs: These KPIs look at overall company performance. They may focus on trends within the company or in comparison to competitors.

Actionable KPIs: Indicators like this track how well a company commits to and carries out internal business changes. Examples include KPIs that track culture changes, employee sentiment, or DEI initiatives. These often measure progress within a set period of time.

KPIs vs. Metrics

When you were in school, you might have learned that a square can be a parallelogram, but not every parallelogram is a square. The same is true of KPIs and metrics.

What are KPI metrics graphic

While a KPI can be a metric, not every metric is a KPI. This is because KPIs track progress toward a specific goal. A KPI is a significant measure of performance.

When your team selects a KPI, they commit to a specific metric and how meeting that goal can lead to business growth. KPIs also narrow the scope of information to data that everyone needs to know — from interns to stakeholders.

This doesn’t mean that metrics aren’t impactful. As your team solves specific problems and creates processes, there are many metrics you will track. In turn, these metrics can help your team meet your KPIs.

KPI Metrics Example

Here’s an example. Say that your team is creating a blog for your sales team to generate more qualified leads. The KPIs for this project are:

  • Traffic
  • New users
  • Leads

Those are the key performance indicators that your team believes will show that the time and effort of launching a new blog is worth it to the business.

At the same time, if you’ve ever started a blog, you know that there are many other metrics to track like:

  • Engagement time
  • Bounce rate
  • Views per user
  • Backlinks
  • Domain authority

KPI Metrics example: Bounce rate, HubSpot

These metrics will help your team solve problems, choose the right blog topics, and make changes that improve the user experience.

Metrics are essential to the team that works on the blog so they can make it better. At the same time, metrics are often too much detail for every stakeholder. In this example, your blog team needs other metrics to help meet its KPIs.

OKR vs. KPI

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) and KPIs are often used interchangeably because both terms refer to goals that are tracked and measured. However, they differ in intention.

Put simply, KPIs show whether your business is hitting its targets. They are often called health metrics as they tell you how the company is doing to meet an objective that’s already set.

OKRs, on the other hand, are broad objectives for your business with the key results that will signify achievement in meeting those objectives. They are aggressive and ambitious goals that speak to the business’s big-picture vision.

For instance, let’s say a technology company has the objective of becoming one of the top 10 providers in their industry in 2021. Their key results could be:

  • Acquire 1,000 new customers by Q3.
  • Generate 3,000 leads every month.
  • Increase annual membership sales by 30%.

While KPIs are ideal for scaling, OKRs are designed for dramatic growth. They’re more ambitious and push teams to stretch their capabilities.

It’s also important to note that while KPIs can be the key results in your OKR, the opposite is generally not true.

For example, your marketing team could have a KPI of 3,000 leads as mentioned in the example above. However, it’s unlikely that any department would list the “Top 10” goal as their KPI as that speaks to a broader vision and has a more flexible timeline.

Before you can measure your KPIs, you’ll need to determine which metrics to track. This will greatly depend on your goals and your team.

Once you narrow that down, set your targets. They’re usually based on a combination of factors, including historical performance and industry standards.

You’ll also have to answer the who, when, and why. Who is responsible for this KPI? Identify the person on your team who is managing this KPI, so they can be the go-to when addressing roadblocks that may affect performance. They will also be responsible for reporting on progress.

As for the “when,” you’ll need to know the timeline to reach these targets. Many businesses set them on a monthly or quarterly basis, but your timeline can be shorter or longer depending on your team.

Lastly: the why. It’s the most important thing to keep in mind when measuring your KPIs. Having your goals clearly identified can help motivate your team and make sure everyone is aligned on the direction you’re going in.

Let’s go over a few steps that can help make this process more simple.

1. Choose KPIs directly related to your business goals.

KPIs are quantifiable measurements or data points used to gauge your company’s performance relative to a goal. For instance, a KPI could be related to your goal of increasing sales, improving the return on investment of your marketing efforts, or improving customer service.

What are your company goals? Have you identified any major areas for improvement or optimization? What are the biggest priorities for your management team?

Answering these questions will bring you one step closer to identifying the right KPIs for your brand.

2. Consider your company’s stage of growth.

Depending on the stage of your company – startup vs. enterprise – certain metrics will be more critical than others.

Early-stage companies typically focus on data related to business model validation while more established organizations focus on metrics like cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value.

Here are a few examples of potential key performance indicators for companies in various stages of growth:

KPI examples: KPIs for different stages of business growth

3. Identify both lagging and leading performance indicators.

The difference between lagging and leading indicators is essentially knowing how you did, versus how you are doing. Leading indicators aren’t necessarily better than lagging indicators, or vice versa. You should just be aware of the differences between the two.

Lagging indicators measure the output of something that has already happened. Total sales last month, or the number of new customers or hours of professional services delivered, are examples of lagging indicators. These types of metrics are good for purely measuring results, as they focus on outputs.

On the other hand, leading indicators measure your likelihood of achieving a goal in the future. These serve as predictors of what’s to come. Conversion rates, sales opportunity age, and sales rep activity are just a few examples of leading indicators.

Traditionally most organizations have solely focused on lagging indicators. One of the main reasons for this is they tend to be easy to measure since the events have already happened. For instance, it’s easy to pull a report of the number of customers acquired last quarter.

But measuring what happened in the past can only be so helpful.

You can think of leading indicators as business drivers because they come before trends emerge, which can help you identify whether or not you are on track to reaching your goals. If you can identify which leading indicators will impact your future performance you will have a much better shot at success.

With every business, growth is the goal. KPIs help you track your progress and scale progressively to grow in whichever way that matters to your company.

4. Focus on a few key metrics, rather than a slew of data.

As you begin to identify KPIs for your business, less is worth more. Rather than choosing dozens of metrics to measure and report on you should focus on just a few key ones.

If you track too many KPIs, you might become overwhelmed with the data and lose focus.

As you can imagine, every company, industry, and business model is different so it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number for the amount of KPIs you should have. However, a good number to aim for is somewhere between two to four KPIs per goal. Enough to get a good sense of where you stand but not too many where there’s no priority.

KPI Examples

Your organization’s business model and the industry in which you operate will influence the KPIs you choose.

For example, a B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) company might choose to focus on customer acquisition and churn, whereas a brick-and-mortar retail company might focus on sales per square foot or average customer spend.

Here are a few examples of some industry-standard KPIs:

KPI examples: Industry-standard KPIs for SaaS, professional service, retail, and online publishing

While some KPIs are simple, KPIs that can help your business target specific goals can be tougher to create. These examples of key performance indicators for businesses can inspire the right KPI for your business.

Marketing KPIs

KPIs for marketing can help you track the effectiveness of marketing efforts. It can help you figure out the value of specific campaigns and initiatives, and assess different media channels.

For example, this video outlines how to set KPIs for social media:

These are some of the top marketing KPIs:

  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV)
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Conversion Rate

For more KPI ideas, check out these resources:

Sales KPIs

Sales is a numbers-driven activity and this makes KPI selection even more important. Sales KPIs can measure individual, team, departmental, or organizational efforts. They can also help sales teams make shifts and respond to goal and priority changes.

These are some common sales KPIs:

  • Monthly sales growth
  • Monthly calls (or emails) per rep
  • Opportunity to deal ratio
  • Average purchase value

KPI examples: Sales KPI, Opportunity to deal ratio

For more KPI ideas, check out these resources:

Service KPIs

Customer service KPIs can track the performance of support teams. They also help service managers understand, analyze and optimize the customer experience.

Here are some of the top service KPIs:

  • Number of resolved tickets
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • First response time
  • Net promoter score (NPS)

For more KPI ideas, check out these resources:

Website KPIs

A website KPI can connect the performance of your website to marketing, sales, and service goals. Website data can help businesses understand how to connect siloed departments and fix gaps in the buyer journey. This type of KPI is especially useful for ecommerce sites.

Here are some common website KPIs:

  • Traffic
  • Traffic sources
  • Number of sessions
  • Number of transactions

This post also has some great suggestions for website engagement metrics.

Now that you know what a KPI is and how to choose the right KPIs for your business, it’s time to act. Measuring a KPI can be simple or complex depending on your KPIs, your tech stack, and the way your team works.

Some companies end up tracking the wrong KPI because it’s the easiest data to track. This isn’t a satisfying solution, and it can lead to bigger business challenges long term.

Let’s walk through the best practices for measuring your KPIs.

1. Identify the tools or software you need to measure your KPIs.

KPI measurement starts with your data sources and the tools your business uses to track data. There are a few things you’ll want to look for in the right software.

Integrations

According to 2021 research from Productiv, the average company uses over 200 apps. This means that you’ll need a software solution that connects to a range of tools to pull together accurate data.

Dashboards

Dashboards are also useful for tracking KPIs because they make it easy to visualize insights. Visualization can make complicated information simpler and quicker to understand and act on.

Custom and standard reports

It’s also helpful to use KPI software with both standard and custom reporting. While some KPIs are effective alone, others may need supporting metrics to clarify the story of the data. For example, say your KPI is social media engagement. You may also want to present data on every social media tool your team is using.

How to measure KPIs example: Sales metrics dashboard, HubSpot

Read here if you’re looking for the right data tracking software.

2. Narrow down your final list of KPIs.

Focus is the top reason to limit the number of KPIs you track. If KPIs are the most critical measure of business success, you want to track just two or three KPIs, not 10-20.

First, make sure there is a clear separation of KPIs from metrics. Next, revisit your goals to make sure that the KPIs you’ve selected show clear progress toward that goal.

As you research software you might notice that some KPIs are easier to track than others.

For example, tracking customer lifetime value by marketing channel is easy if your revenue and marketing systems connect. But what if these are two different systems? Maybe your marketing platform shows that most of your leads come from the blog. At the same time, your customer platform analytics show that most of your leads come from a landing page.

This kind of issue leads to a lot of manual work, and a KPI your team can’t trust. Until you can unify your systems, you may want to choose a KPI that you can measure accurately.

Be sure to watch your KPIs in the first few months and take note of how often you check each KPI. Sometimes you’ll need real data to figure out if that performance indicator is useful.

For example, say at the beginning of a co-marketing partnership, you and your partner set a KPI for shared leads. But in the first two months, the only shared leads come from a webinar that your companies host together. At the same time, you both notice increased lead volumes from referral links.

If you want your KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your partnership, you may want to change this KPI.

3. Create standard reports and timing for reporting.

One way to help stakeholders invest in KPIs is to create a consistent reporting schedule and format. You can measure and report on KPIs each week, month, quarter, or year depending on your business needs.

For example, if you have a monthly lead goal, it’s a good idea to track your KPIs weekly. If performance tracks with expectations, you can gather insights into what your team is doing well. If not, you have a chance to ask for resources, troubleshoot, and make changes.

A standard report has the same structure every time. You can often automate these reports and they usually don’t need much manual data analysis. Depending on your industry and KPIs you may want to customize your standard reports. This can help you make sure that your reports clearly show the most useful information.

4. Design visualizations in your dashboard for your most important KPIs.

Scanning numbers is satisfying for some. But most people process and retain visuals best. So, you’ll want to make the most of your data with a visual dashboard that makes your KPIs easier for stakeholders to understand and remember.

As you build your dashboards, there are a few helpful things to think about. First, try to group your KPIs to create audience-specific dashboards. For example, you might want to build one KPI dashboard for C-suite presentations and another for meetings with your team.

Next, keep your visuals simple. Choose the best chart for the information you’re presenting and don’t add small text or extra graphics that could distract from your data.

5. Share KPIs reports with other teams for quality checks.

It may take some time before your KPIs are a reliable source of information. There is a lot that you can do with digital tools, but don’t forget another crucial resource for making sure your KPIs are accurate — your team.

Whether you check in with your friends in Accounting every other day or hold weekly check-ins with people in your department, it’s smart to reach out. Even small issues can lead to big errors over time.

For example, do you want to base your KPI on the average daily call volume of customer service seven days a week or just Monday through Friday? If you don’t talk to your CS team about their structure and schedule, you might pull the wrong data. This can lead to skewed numbers, poor strategic decisions, and more.

The more your business can trust your KPIs, the more benefits they’ll get from them.

6. Choose a reporting cadence for stakeholders.

Most decision-makers in business organize reporting around the business calendar. But you’ll still want to think about the right reporting cadence for your specific KPIs.

For example, a monthly cadence might not be frequent enough to troubleshoot problems. At the same time, a weekly cadence might create information overload. Too frequent meetings can also lead to conversations about metrics instead. This takes the focus away from your key performance indicators.

If you are new to this process, it may make sense to meet more frequently in the beginning, then create more space between meetings later.

You want to build a culture and structure around support for your KPIs. Remember that it’s about the business using this tool to reach your goals.

7. Set new goals and KPIs based on your results.

Some KPIs are forever, but you’ll want to continue to review and update your KPIs based on results. So, schedule time at least once a year to review your KPIs.

As you make updates, organize your data in a way that makes it easy to compare useful KPIs with indicators that aren’t helping.

Next, make some time to plan and research the changes you might want to make. Changing KPIs can sometimes create unintended issues. For example, a slack KPI can show consistent strong results, even if performance isn’t in line with growth goals.

As you make adjustments, keep in mind that KPIs should come from business goals, not the other way around.

Use Your KPIs to Fuel Growth

With every business, growth is the goal. KPIs help you track your progress and scale progressively to grow in whichever way that matters to your company.

Powerful KPI creation and tracking can give you and your business a strategic advantage. They can help you prioritize, focus, and scale processes toward your goals.

Some KPIs are easy. But if you want to push to the next level, you may need to take some extra time to find the exact KPIs that your company needs.

This post was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Creator Economy: Everything Marketers Need to Know

The media landscape has changed significantly over the years thanks to the rise of the internet and social media. With platforms like YouTube and TikTok, anyone can go online, create content, and find their niche audience. As a result, media has become more decentralized than ever, and millions of content creators have created a new space in the entertainment industry — the creator economy.

But what exactly is the creator economy, and why should marketers care? Here’s everything marketers need to know:

What is the creator economy?

Social Media’s Role in the Creator Economy

Platforms with Content Creator Funds and Programs

How Brands Should Use the Creator Economy

Download Now: 150+ Content Creation Templates [Free Kit]

What is the creator economy?

The creator economy is an online-facilitated economy comprised of millions of content creators, such as social media influencers, videographers, bloggers, and other digital creatives. The creator economy also includes software and tools designed to help these creators grow and profit from their content.

The creator economy is a relatively new addition to the media and entertainment industry, and it’s something that anyone from any generation can be a part of. Whether you’re a millennial with a true crime podcast or a Gen Z fashionista with a style blog — you can be a part of the creator economy in whatever niche you choose.

Think about it — if a TikTok account rating bathroom sinks around New York City can go viral, then there really is no limit to what’s possible in the content creation business.

Social Media’s Role in the Creator Economy

The rise of social media has fueled growth in the creator economy. According to Forbes, there are about 50 million content creators across multiple platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch. That’s about 50 million people participating in the creator economy.

The creator economy saw significant growth during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, many people found themselves working from home or looking for new income streams due to budget cuts and layoffs. This resulted in more people having more time or incentives to create content on platforms like TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube.

In fact, TikTok saw a significant increase in users during the height of the pandemic, which directly contributed to a boom in the content creator economy. According to Statista, TikTok experienced a growth of 180% among users ages 15-25 after the pandemic broke out in the U.S. in 2020.

Graph showing how TikTok experienced a large boom in users at the start of the COVID-19 pandemicImage source

Aside from financial opportunities (and an escape from boredom), social media provides a digital space for almost anyone to post their content, promote their work, and build a loyal fanbase. In the creator economy, you can be a creator without investing in expensive equipment or getting the backing of major studios.

For example, Kyle Prue rose to fame on TikTok with videos showcasing his dry humor. All his videos are shot from his apartment using his iPhone and the mic on his Apple headphones. Despite his simple setup, Prue has over 1 million followers on TikTok and 32.5 million likes.

@kyleprue Reply to @turbo_queen.hm they expelled me on the ides of March actually
#fyp
#friendship
#polyamory
#genevaconvention
♬ original sound – Kyle Prue

He also wrote and starred in his dark comedy-drama web series, “The Rabbit,” which he posted to YouTube for viewers to watch for free. Prue put the series together with his own money and without the help of any major studios or production companies. Each episode has between 20,000 to 71,000 views.

Platforms with Content Creator Funds and Programs

As I mentioned, many people turned to the creator economy to earn money — especially at the start of the pandemic when companies were experiencing hiring freezes and layoffs. Many digital platforms contribute to this economy via their creator funds and programs, including:

YouTube

For years, content creators on YouTube have made money via ad revenue from video advertisements. YouTube also has the YouTube Partner Programs, which gives creators access to exclusive features and various monetization opportunities. To compete with TikTok, YouTube also launched the YouTube Shorts Fund, dedicating a total of $100 million to creators from 2021 to 2022.

Instagram

To keep up with the growing creator economy, Instagram has rolled out many new opportunities for creators to earn money off their posts to the app. One opportunity is the Instagram Live Badges, which allows users to send monetary tips to their favorite creators during live streams. Another opportunity is the Instagram Reels Play Bonus Program, where creators earn money based on the performance of their Reel.

Other monetary opportunities include:

  • Branded content
  • Shops for creators to sell directly to their followers
  • In-stream video ads
  • Affiliate programs

TikTok

TikTok’s Creator Next Program includes its $200 million creator fund, tipping and gifting opportunities, and a creator marketplace to connect creators with brands. The creator fund is accessible to many creators, including those with only 10,000 followers — so long as they have at least 100,000 video views within 30 days.

Twitch

Streaming platform Twitch has its Twitch Partner Program, where creators can earn income in multiple ways. One way is through channel subscriptions. With channel subscriptions, streamers earn revenue when their viewers subscribe via the following options: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, or Prime.

Bits is another feature of the program, allowing viewers to purchase virtual goods to “cheer” on streamers. Streamers get a percentage of the revenue Twitch receives from these purchases. And finally, Twitch streams can earn money via ad revenue from ads run during their streams.

Other Ways Content Creators Make Money

Though many social media platforms provide creators opportunities to make money through creator funds and programs, content creator earnings typically aren’t very high.

According to a survey by NeoReach and Influencer Marketing Hub, only 1.4% of the 2,000 content creators surveyed earn over $1.4 million annually. Only a little over 20% make a livable wage of $50K or more a year. To combat this issue, content creators will often supplement their income by other means, such as:

  • Brand deals and partnerships
  • Sponsored content
  • Paid subscriptions
  • VIP meet-ups
  • Event hosting
  • Merchandise
  • Live and virtual events

Some content creators may also use their online presence as a stepping stone toward more lucrative ventures. For instance, Tabitha Brown is a social media personality and actress who became famous on TikTok for her calming videos of affirmations and recipes.

Her fame on social media led her to being cast in popular television shows like Showtime’s “The Chi.” Brown also has her own show, “All Love,” on Ellen DeGeneres’ digital platform EllenTube as well as a bestselling cookbook and an ongoing partnership with Target.

How Brands Should Use the Creator Economy

Viewers tend to care more about people and personalities than brands in the creator economy. As a result, many major brands have struggled to find their footing on platforms like TikTok or Twitch. However, there is still a way brands should tap into the creator economy to grow their audience and gain revenue — influencer marketing.

Brands should reach out to influencers with a loyal social media following to spread the word about their products or services. A great example of influencer marketing would be the work of TikTok personality Drew Afualo. Afualo is famous on TikTok for creating videos that poke fun at misogynists and uplift women.

Since gaining millions of followers on the app, Afualo has been tapped to promote films like “The Lost City,” starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum.

@drewafualo
#ad Make sure you check out The Lost City out 3/25 😎 Sandra Bullock is the baddest period @Paramount Pictures
#fyp
#xyzbca
#girls
#men
#funny
#college
#embarrassing
#OscarsAtHome
#WomenOwnedBusiness
♬ Joy (30 seconds) – TimTaj

Online fashion retailer Shein has also worked with Afualo to promote the company’s SheinX collection.

@drewafualo Lmk which outfit is your fave 🤓 Shop the
#SHEINX Collection & use my code “DREW” to save 15% off the entire @SHEIN US site!
#SHEINpartner
#fyp
#xyzbca
#girls
#men
#funny
#college
♬ original sound – Drew Afualo

There are many ways to leverage Influencer marketing. Popular tactics include social media takeovers in which an influencer “takes over” a brand’s social media account for a day. Some brands like Genius will host live Q&As with influencers or celebrities on platforms like Instagram Live or Twitter Spaces. Additionally, paid partnerships, product placement, and sponsorships are considered tried and true methods.

Just remember — if you’re leveraging influencer marketing, you’ll need to ensure the influencer’s content and image align with that of your brand. After all, you should always practice discernment with who or what is associated with your brand or organization.

The creator economy is how influencers and creatives earn income by creating content that is unique to them and taps into their niche audience. However, it’s also an excellent avenue for brands to generate awareness and remain relevant in an ever-changing media landscape. Now that you know about this growing economy, you can find new and innovative ways to incorporate it into your marketing strategy.

content templates

Why B2B Companies are Entering the Editorial Space [& What You Can Learn From Them]

What do HubSpot, Mailchimp, and Wistia have in common? They’re all B2B companies with high-traffic, lead-generating media engines that support their products.

→ Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template

Wondering why so many companies are entering the editorial space? Industry experts cover that and more below.

1. The B2B marketing industry is shifting.

Marketing SVP at HubSpot Kieran Flanagan says the B2B marketing industry has gone through four major phases in the last decade.

What started as a focus on decision-makers has now evolved into a community-led approach that leverages media and publishing.

[image of b2b marketing evolution]

Many brands follow a product-led growth approach, in which the product itself attracts consumers and drives retention.

Any Atluru, former head of community at Clubhouse, says that this works great for utility-based products that have already been validated socially or don’t require a network of users to thrive. Think Slack and Calendly.

She highlights that a community-led model may be more conducive to brands whose products aren’t particularly unique and gain value through community. Think Peloton and Figma.

In this case, entering the editorial space will be a key part of your success.

2. The ad space is oversaturated.

On an episode of Marketing Against the Grain, CEO and co-founder of Notus, Yuliya Bel argues that ads no longer have the impact they used to.

“Like anything in marketing, there comes a point where it becomes saturated. Where people start to be like ‘Ok, we’ve seen this before, it’s no longer authentic or really speaking to us,’” she said.

She references an eBay study that revealed that brand search ad effectiveness was overestimated by over 4,000%.

With the incredibly high costs of running ads and rampant competition, this begs the question: Is the focus on ads for customer acquisition and engagement the best play?

She argues that investing in producing high-quality content and distribution tactics is the only way to ensure longevity in the online space.

Think about it this way: You could invest $100K into an advertising campaign but once it ends, so does your lead generation. Instead, you could invest that money into building a content team that will produce evergreen content that will bring in leads long after they’re published.

3. You meet your audience where they’re at.

Every brand wants to attract its audience organically.

While social media is the most popular way to achieve this – and the strategy that offers the quickest response – building a media engine is by far the most reliable and most sustainable.

Why? The first is that it removes the reliance on third-party applications to reach your audience. If you’re solely relying on TikTok and Facebook, what happens if they are down for a few days? Or consumers lose interest and transition to a new app?

You’ll constantly be adjusting your strategy based on the platform and trying to hit a moving target.

When you build your own engine, your audience comes to you.

The second reason is that you’re able to attract several personas using varying mediums.

For instance, those who listen to your podcast may have different needs and challenges from those who read your blog posts.

When you’re in the editorial space, you can tailor your content to each user type and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Whereas on social media, you’re throwing out content and hoping that it reaches the audience that will resonate with it the most.

The issue is that the editorial space is a long-term play whereas social media is a quicker turnaround. When building a media arm, you won’t see results overnight – it can take months to years to see the impact of your work so for many businesses, the wait can seem like a waste of time.

However, in the long run, attracting your audience organically through thoughtful content will be the most cost-effective and sustainable method for audience growth.

4. You establish yourself as an industry thought leader.

One of the best ways to stand out in the B2B space is to become a thought leader, a brand others go to for guidance on trends, innovative strategies, and more.

HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

“There are a lot of technology industries where the pace of being able to innovate and create technologies is actually very fast,” he said on the Marketing Against the Grain podcast, “so, you need content and storytelling to differentiate.”

For HubSpot, media has been integral to our success – with our blog being a common first point of contact for many of our leads. Now, we’ve expanded to podcasts, videos, and newsletters.

Flanagan believes it’s crucial when growing your B2B brand.

“The most underrated skill in B2B tech in the future is editorial taste,” he says.

This refers to the ability to know what will resonate with your audience and how to execute it.

Once you’ve gained your audience’s attention and added value to their lives, they will trust the products you recommend to them – even if it’s your own. That’s reason enough for any company to enter the editorial space.

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Content Mapping 101: The Template You Need to Personalize Your Marketing

When prospects first come to your business page, they probably won’t just click and buy your offering immediately. They’ll most likely be searching through your site to learn more about it, gauge the level of trust people have in your company, and be on the lookout for resources to help them achieve their goals. You can create this experience by content mapping.

Content mapping allows you to create highly targeted, personalized content at every stage of the buyer’s journey, helping to nurture leads and prospects toward a purchase decision. In this post, we’ll go over what a content map is and how you can start content mapping for your brand.

Let’s get started.

Download Now: Free Content Marketing Planning Templates

For example, if your business is building a brand new website, you’ll have to begin creating a content map based on why the customer is going to your page. If customers are coming to your website looking for a credible solution worth paying for, they’ll want to trust the company.

The marketing team can then align the goal to build trust, and apply it to their marketing portfolio.

content map example

Image Source

Why is content mapping important?

Content mapping helps you plan for content creation that supports the customer journey and creates a more cohesive, personalized customer experience.

When it comes to content, one size rarely fits all. They have to serve different purposes as prospects are looking for varying information as they progress in the buyer’s journey. To ensure that your company’s content is effective at generating leads, you need to deliver diversified content that covers different topics that they’re searching for each step of the way. Content mapping is the process of doing just that.

But coming up with the actual topics that make for a highly targeted content strategy isn’t that easy. However, content mapping with the audience in mind can help you put together a strategy in a more manageable way.

How to Create a Content Map

1. Download a content map template.

To help you brainstorm and map out content ideas for targeting specific segments of your audience, we’ve created a new free template resource: The Content Marketing Planning Template.

content marketing planning templates for content map

Download Your Free Template Now

The template includes an introduction to content mapping, a crash course on buyer personas and lifecycle stages, a content mapping template (plus examples), a website content map template, and bonus buyer persona templates.

With the template, you’ll:

  • Learn how to understand buyer personas and lifecycle stages.
  • Identify problems and opportunities that your audience needs help with.
  • Brainstorm highly targeted content ideas that incorporate personas and lifecycle stages.

2. Identify the buyer persona you want to target.

Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas or dozens. If you’re just getting started with personas, don’t go crazy! You can always develop more personas later if needed.

3. Consider that persona’s path to purchase (lifecycle stages).

The buyer persona you target with your content is only half of the content mapping equation. In addition to knowing who someone is, you need to know where they are in the buying cycle (i.e. how close they are to making a purchase). This location in the buying cycle is known as a lifecycle stage.

For our Content Mapping Template, we’re divvying up the buying cycle into three lifecycle stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

  • Awareness: In the awareness stage, a person has realized and expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity.
  • Consideration: In the consideration stage, a person has clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity and is looking for a solution.
  • Decision: In the decision stage, a person has defined their solution strategy, method, or approach and is looking for a provider.

By combining buyer personas with lifecycle stages, you can hone in on specific segments of your audience and tailor content to resonate with each of those segments.

4. Brainstorm questions the personas have in the awareness stage.

Your awareness stage content should target early in the buying cycle. People in this segment are just becoming aware that they have a problem. At this stage, think of how your content can help people become more informed about the problem in general, and you’ll (hopefully) find that they continue moving closer to a purchasing decision.

Important questions to start thinking about:

  • What problem are they likely trying to solve, and what are the symptoms that are causing this problem?
  • What information will help them to identify their problem(s) and that our product or service is designed to solve them?
  • How can we build trust and provide more value than our competitors from this early stage in the journey?

5. Identify awareness stage content.

Taking your buyer personas’ questions into account, you can turn them into topics for awareness stage content.

The content you want to provide them should speak to their current needs, not jump straight into product-focused content. This can take the form of insightful blog posts, webinars, ebooks, or social media posts that give information to solve initial concerns and slowly familiarize prospects with how your product can help them.

6. Brainstorm ways to position your solution as your persona enters the consideration stage.

At this point, you’ve provided your prospect with enough information to become fully aware of their problem, and they know it can be remedied.

This is when you should begin trying to move them closer to a purchasing decision and become more interested in your product offering, using consideration stage content.

7. Identify consideration stage content.

Your consideration stage content can more explicitly mention how your product or service could potentially solve a problem. At this point in the buying cycle, people are still evaluating their options. Your purpose now is to help them narrow down the solution that works the best and provides them the most value.

The types of content used for the consideration stage can look like this:

  • Videos comparing and contrasting offerings
  • Whitepapers

8. Brainstorm objections that would stop them from buying in the decision stage.

Now that you’ve identified the “why”s behind your prospect choosing your solution, it’s time to consider the “why not”s.

Some competitors may have a more affordable solution, different methods of remedying issues, or more authority (popularity) in the market. While some of these aspects cannot be changed, you can still appeal to the prospect and move them closer to purchase if your offering is a real value add, regardless of the rest.

9. Identify decision stage content.

At the decision stage of the buyer journey, you can primarily lean into marketing your products or services. If someone has reached this stage, they’ve already identified a problem and a solution, and are now getting ready to pull the proverbial trigger toward a purchase decision.

This is where you can directly present the prospect with examples of positive experiences or success derived from your product or service offering, with decision stage content like:

  • Case studies (social proof)
  • Customer testimonials
  • Product demos

10. Determine how these content pieces work together.

Now that you’ve identified all the different types of content that buyers of each stage are looking for, it’s time to map the ideas.

Content Mapping Template

content mapping template from hubspot content marketing planning templates

This content mapping visualization keeps the marketing strategy focused on the goal specified with all the steps necessary to gradually reel in buyers. Our template can also help you to schedule when you want content published on a monthly or quarterly basis if you want to manage it in one place.

You can approach content mapping to serve more specific strategies this way, too, as we’ll discuss content mapping for your website in more detail.

Website Content Mapping

Website content mapping is the process of planning the pages, blog posts, and offers you’ll publish on your site and identifying which buyer personas those pages and posts will serve. Website content mapping also identifies which pages and posts address different lifecycle stages.

Website content mapping is a key element of website personalization. In essence, you’ll create different pages, posts, and offers to address different buyers at different points in the buyer’s journey.

To give you a better idea of website content mapping, let’s run through a simple example of one.

Content Map Example

The buyer persona (and a key problem or opportunity that persona is struggling with) is at the start of the grid. Jenny is a gym owner and her problem is that she needs gym equipment, but has a limited budget and has taken to the internet for a solution.

In the awareness life cycle stage, she’ll be looking for introductory content to gain knowledge about the types of equipment necessary to bring customers into her gym.

In the consideration life cycle stage, she’ll have a better understanding of her need for equipment and price expectations and will be looking to create a more clear budget for different items and consider how long this investment will last — seeking templates that outline that information.

Finally, in the decision stage, Jenny has identified her needs and is looking for a provider to fill them. She will feel inclined to request demos, consults, or quotes from a company that has guided her through her journey to their solution of cost-effective gym equipment.

Content mapping examples from HubSpot

This type of content map works because of how it segments personas as they progress through the buyer lifecycle, and if you have more than one persona to cater to, then you can expand your map into a segmentation grid.

Content Segmentation Grid

A content segmentation grid is a tool to help businesses plan the content they will produce based on the different types of audiences they want to reach.

content segmentation grid hubspot graphic

A common mistake marketers make when it comes to content planning is that they’ll understand the need to make personalized content for customers as they navigate the buyer stages — but ignore the need for individualized messaging.

A content segmentation grid solves that problem as marketers will be able to better serve every customer segment at each stage they reach. So instead of writing messaging for one buyer persona, you can potentially increase engagement and conversions across different audiences.

So you now know what content mapping is, and you’ve seen how you can get started. What type of tools can you use to start content mapping?

Content Mapping Tools

Content mapping may seem like a difficult task that requires highly specialized software. It’s not true — it requires simple business tools you may already be using in your day-to-day.

We’ll start with the most basic tools you need to start content mapping, such as word processors and visualization tools.

1. Google Docs

Pricing: Free

content mapping tools: google docs

First up in your content mapping tech stack is your preferred word processor, Google Docs. It has the feature to draw and insert different types of diagrams into documents, which can be translated into a content map to align your marketing mix with your goals. We highly recommend this tool because it makes it easier to share work across your team, and you never have to worry about backing up your content map once you’ve created it.

2. Lucidchart

Pricing: Free Basic Plan; Individual Plan;$7.95/month, Team Plan; $9/month, Enterprise Plan available upon request

content mapping tools: lucidchart

If you’re more of a visual person, then a flowchart tool is a must. Also, if you’d prefer to create a content map with lines and diagrams, then you need a more sophisticated tool than Google Docs. Lucidchart’s flowchart maker is a top-of-the-line tool that also allows you to connect different apps and services. Like Google Docs, it allows you to work collaboratively, but Lucidchart takes it a step further and provides users with more visually appealing formatting.

3. Buyer Persona Tool

Pricing: Free

content mapping tools: buyer persona tool

Before you can even begin to create a content map, you need to identify the buyer persona(s) you’re creating content for. HubSpot has a buyer persona tool made to build and save professional buyer persona documents with its intuitive generator.

And if you want to take it a step further, HubSpot has a list containing even more buyer persona resources to build out your customer profiles for your business, too.

4. Marketing Hub

Pricing: Free Basic Plan, Starter Plan; $45/month, Professional Plan; $800/month, Enterprise Plan; $3,200/month

content mapping tools: marketing hub

In the Marketing Hub, there is an SEO Topics tool that provides content mapping capabilities to help users organize their ideas for organic-focused awareness stage content. With this capability, your team will be able to collaborate and execute your content map once it’s ready for deployment.

Tools to Help Implement Your Content Map

1. HubSpot CRM

Pricing: Free

tools to help implement your content map: hubspot crm

HubSpot’s CRM is the one tool you need to compile all of your data from current and prospective customers. The CRM will allow you to discern different lifecycle stages and pinpoint commonalities between customers who are ready to purchase based on lead scoring. Your content map can help someone build a lead scoring system to identify high-value leads who have consumed the content close to a purchasing decision.

3. CMS Hub

Pricing: Starter Plan; $23/month, Professional Plan; $360/month, Enterprise Plan; $1,200/month

Content mapping tools: CMS Hub

A content management system is probably the most important tool for your content mapping efforts. A CMS will allow you to publish personalized content that targets different site visitors at — you guessed it — different stages of the buyer’s journey.

CMS Hub is fully integrated with HubSpot’s CRM platform and Marketing Hub, allowing you to create a seamless experience for your customers as they receive the content you’ve designed for them. It will help you execute your content map flawlessly. Even more importantly, with CMS Hub, you can continue testing and retesting your content for better results.

So are you ready to begin creating your own content map? Before you start, let’s hear some tips from marketers who attribute part of their success to this strategy.

Content Mapping Tips From the Pros

1. Educate your audience.

Content mapping tip from Adanna Austin

“We all have to create compelling content to attract our ideal clients, build an active and engaged audience, and get daily sales. Spend time building your audience by educating them and engaging with them. No one has built a business by posting the same image or type of image every day on socials and not having convoys with their audience. It is not just about showing up, but doing so with intention so you can attract your ideal clients who will buy from you.”

Adanna Austin (Business Coach and Consultant, Marketing Dynamics Business Solutions)

2. Give your prospects the information they need before they ask for it.

Content mapping tip from Laura Hogan

“With content mapping, you can give your prospects the information they are asking for before they even ask for it. Buyer personas and lifecycle stages allow you to be one step ahead of the game by mapping out what your prospect’s next steps are and delivering them the content from numerous different avenues.

We create buyer personas as part of our onboarding process and everything we do from content offer to daily tweets is centered around that document. We also always ask ourselves, ‘Would business owner Bob open this email, click this tweet, or download this offer?'”

Laura Hogan (Founder, Digital Atlas Marketing)

3. Provide different conversion paths for different personas.

Content mapping tip from Marc Herschberger

“When mapping out content for your site’s visitors, it’s important to remember that when it comes to purchasing decisions (BOFU conversions, especially for B2B and high-priced items), there are some personas out there who would rather speak to someone on their terms rather than fill out a form for a consultation. Understanding how they are most comfortable when it comes to making decisions can help you understand what points of conversion will be the most relevant and successful for that persona.

Optimizing your site pages (landing and thank you pages, as well), TOFU & MOFU offers, and workflows with direct contact information (phone #, email, etc.) is a great way to ensure that visitors, prospects, and leads who may shy away from form submissions still have readily available, alternate means of converting.”

Marc Herschberger (Director of Operations, Revenue River Marketing)

4. Create specific content that appeals to specific personas.

Content mapping tip from Spencer Powell

“Mapping out buyer personas and lifecycle stages is extremely important when creating content. In terms of buyer personas, it’s easy to see that a Marketing Director will have different questions, information needs, and interests compared to a CEO. Both of these personas may be searching for your product or service, but they’ll be looking for different topics. By creating content that appeals to each audience, you can be more effective in attracting that specific audience.

By the same token, each persona of yours may be in a different stage of the buying process, so it’s important to think through and create content that appeals to someone looking for basic, high-level information such as an ebook, as well as specific information like a pricing guide or case study.

One tip I’d suggest for anyone with pretty different personas would be to dedicate an entire section of your site to each audience. That way, when you pull in your audience, all the content is directed toward them.

We actually took this concept and went a step further by creating unique brands for each one of our vertical markets. Each brand has its own section of the website, its own blog content, and its own premium content (downloadable offers). It’s really helped us attract and convert visitors at a higher rate because all the content is more relevant to that persona.”

Spencer Powell (Chief Executive Officer, Builder Funnel)

4. Pull content topics from your sales process.

Content mapping tip from Diona Kidd

“By taking the buyer and buying stage into account when creating content, you can be sure that you’re designing content to help move them through the buying process.

In addition to mapping content to the buyer profile and buying stage, we regularly pull topics from the sales process. Then we offer the content in later sales calls. This helps us not only evaluate the relevancy of the content but also the interest of the buyer. We encourage clients to do the same.”

Diona Kidd (Managing Partner, Knowmad)

Content Mapping is Key to Your Company’s Growth

Delivering the right content at the right time can do wonders for your company’s growth. By meeting prospects’ needs based on their persona and lifecycle stage, you’re delighting them at every turn, boosting your chances of winning a loyal customer and turning them into a brand evangelist.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Blog - Content Mapping Template

Topical Content vs. Evergreen Content: How Both can Boost Traffic

The more traffic your blog or site receives, the better. But drive-bys aren’t enough to drive user engagement and ultimately boost sales — instead, you need to convince potential customers that it’s worth sticking around. Topical content and its counterpart, evergreen content, can help you achieve this goal.Consider that 38% of people will leave your site if the content or layout is unattractive. In other words, if they don’t find anything of value ASAP, they won’t stay.

Download Now: Content Promotion Templates + KitOf course, this raises an important question: When it comes to topical content vs. evergreen content, which delivers the best bang for your virtual buck? Which type drives more visitors to stay? Here’s what you need to know about boosting traffic with these common content types.

Topical content focuses on current events or information to deliver targeted and relevant content to visitors. For example, a local roofing company might use the event of a large storm rolling through the city or county as a jumping-off point for a blog post about handling hail or wind damage. This type of topical content is relevant to their target audience in the moment, offers actionable advice, and may help drive conversions.

HubSpot’s recent State of Consumer Trends blog is a good example of topical content. The statistics provided are timely, relevant, and actionable in the near future.

HubSpot's State of Consumer Trends

Like the evergreen tree, this type of content is always around and relevant. Unlike the time-based nature of topical content that requires regular updating to stay compelling, evergreen content has a longer-term appeal that lets you post it and (mostly) forget about it.

Common types of evergreen content include how-to articles, tips, or listicles that are broadly applicable. HubSpot’s list of 15 Customer Success Metrics That Actually Matter is a great example of actionable evergreen content.

Topical Content Example

Topical Content Pros and Cons

Considering using topical content on your site? Here are two pros and two cons to this approach.

Pro #1: Less legwork

Topical content is there for the taking. A quick review of relevant industry websites or digital news outlets can provide inspiration for your next post, meaning your team can cut down the amount of time required to find your next content focus.

Pro #2: Multiple traffic opportunities

Relevant stories can gain traction across multiple points of content. In practice, this means you can drive traffic from social media sites, emails, and web searches simultaneously to your site.

Con #1: It’s Not Just You

Interesting content is interesting to everyone. This means that other sites are also posting their own take on topical content, making it harder to stand out from the crowd.

Con #2: Trust is Built, not Posted

Just because you make a great post and get traffic to your site, it doesn’t mean that visitors automatically become buyers. Instead, it takes time to build up trust, meaning you’ll need more than just topical content to drive conversion.

Evergreen Content Pros and Cons

Thinking of an evergreen effort on your website? Here are some common pros and cons.

Pro #1: Stays Fresher, Longer

Evergreen content naturally stays fresher for longer, in turn driving steady traffic to your site. You can also update rather than replace this content as needed to keep users coming back.

Pro #2: Ideal for Entry-Level Content

How-to’s and listicles that cater to beginners learning a new skill or understanding a topic are great choices for evergreen content, since there’s always someone looking to learn.

Con #1: Brainstorms can Run Dry

The more evergreen content you post, the harder it can be to think of new topics. This creates a situation where your team may spend more time work-shopping posts rather than creating evergreen content.

Con #2: Success is a Slow Process

Where topical content posts can drive big spikes in traffic over short time periods, evergreen content is more slow and steady. While this is great for long-term growth, it won’t help if you’re looking to capitalize on seasonal or event-driven demand.

Ideally, topical and evergreen content work in concert to help boost your website traffic. Not sure what that looks like in practice? Here are six tips to get you started.

1. Use content planning templates for your topical and evergreen content

When it comes to getting the most from topical and evergreen content, planning templates are a great place to start, since they provide a solid foundation for your long-term traffic strategy.

Check out HubSpot’s free Content Marketing Planning Template to get your content creation campaign off the ground.

HubSpot's free content planning templates

2. Set a schedule for regular topical refreshes

To keep topical content relevant, schedule regular refreshes. The length of time between refreshes depends on the type of content — for social media posts, any more than a week can start to get stale. For blog posts, two weeks to a month at most.

3. Get the right tools

Before creating your content, make sure you’re on the right SEO track. Tools like Google AdWords and Google Trends can help you find keywords that are on the way up or have sustained search volume to inform your content strategy.

4. Topical content: Don’t hold back

Swing for the fences when it comes to topical content. Given the number of other sites doing the same thing, it’s worth going all-in with content that’s relevant to your target audience. Even if it doesn’t land as intended, it’s ephemeral enough that you can recover quickly.

5. Evergreen content: Think about the long-term

For evergreen content, think about long-term traffic potential. Is the content useful to your current user base? Can it be updated as the market changes to remain relevant?

6. Find a content balance

Finally, find a balance between topical and evergreen. While a totally topical approach can produce quick-win results, it won’t provide sustained success. Evergreen efforts, meanwhile, offer steady progress but aren’t enough to jump-start customer interest or capitalize on market trends.

Directing Traffic: The Double Benefit of Evergreen and Topical Content

Put simply? Both topical and evergreen content offer benefits for your site. Where evergreen efforts can help boost SEO and deliver steady visitor numbers, topical content helps your site get noticed when relevant and timely events have customers looking for answers.

In other words, it’s not about topical vs evergreen content: It’s about finding a way to balance both that gets visitors interested and keeps them coming back.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2010 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

promoting content

What Consumers Think About the Metaverse & What Brands Need to Know [New Data]

The term “metaverse” may have been coined back in 1992, but it could hold new and adventurous opportunities for both consumers and even brands that engage with them.

The only problem is many of us aren’t too sure what the metaverse actually is. Who is using it? Why do they use it? Which of the seemingly infinite metaverses are worth including in your marketing strategy? And how can the metaverse help marketers navigate data privacy regulations?

To get some clarity, we surveyed over 1,000 consumers in the U.S. to learn about their takes, preferences, and behaviors around today’s biggest trends.

In that survey, 8% of participants said they’d ever visited a metaverse. But that’s not the full story. Keep reading to learn why the metaverse might not be a passing trend.

Download Now: 2022 State of U.S. Consumer Trends Report

What Consumers Think About the Metaverse [New Data]

The Metaverse is New to Many — but Still Growing

Today 33%, or one-third, of our total survey-takers don’t quite get the concept of the metaverse. Still, 40% understand it and 30% think more brands should leverage it.

how consumers feel about the metaverse

While only a small percentage of people have stepped into the metaverse, half of those that have did so in the past three months.

On top of that, these early adopters aren’t just popping in once to check it out – they’re actually invested in these virtual worlds. Of those who have ever used the metaverse:

  • 64% own virtual currency in the metaverse
  • 61% own virtual items that can be bought and sold in the metaverse
  • 55% own land that can be bought and sold in the metaverse

what people do in the metaverse - chart

How the Metaverse Intersects With Consumers’ Real Lives

We also asked those who have ever done metaverse-related activities (visited a metaverse, played online games, attended virtual events, or bought virtual items/NFTs) about how these intersect with their “real” lives, which produced some surprising results:

  • 60% say their virtual items are just as important as their real-life possessions
  • 54% say their online relationships are just as important as in-person relationships
  • 51% say they can more easily be their authentic self in virtual worlds than in-person
  • 40% say they understand the concept of the metaverse
  • 33% say the metaverse is the future of technology

virtual life vs. real life of metaverse visitors

Who’s using the Metaverse?

Our research shows that opinions on the metaverse differ sharply by age group.

At the moment, Gen Z and Millennials are the most excited about exploring the metaverse, with around 15% of them having visited a metaverse at some point.

which generations have visited the metaverse

Gen Z and Millennials are also more likely than any other generation to have done metaverse-related activities, other than buying crypto (likely due to Gen Z having less disposable income):

  • 40% of Gen Z/Millennials have played an online game
  • 28% of Gen Z/Millennials have used a VR headset
  • 22% of Gen Z/Millennials have bought virtual items other than NFTs or crypto, like a skin in a video game
  • 18% of Gen Z/Millennials have attended a virtual reality event
  • 23% of Gen Z/Millennials have bought cryptocurrency

Gen Z and millennials are most likely to visit the metaverse - bar chart

So now that we know Gen Z and Millennials are the primary users of the metaverse and related technology, let’s take a look at why people go to the metaverse in the first place.

What Do People Do In the Metaverse?

Why People Visit the Metaverse

The most popular reasons for visiting the metaverse are to play games, hang out with friends, work a virtual job, and for virtual meetings and events.

why people visit the metaverse

Keep in mind the metaverse is all about empowering users to create their own experiences. As people continue innovating in virtual worlds, the number of activities and use cases will likely grow.

What motivates metaverse regulars?

Because the metaverse itself is loosely defined, to some extent it’s up to the users to shape its future. And those users are invested, with over 50% owning virtual currency, land, and items that can be bought and sold in the metaverse.

Additionally, with 31% of metaverse users saying they log on to earn virtual currency or work a virtual job, it’s important to touch on another selling point of the metaverse – users can earn currency by playing games or working virtual jobs.

We asked the general population whether they would be more likely to use a platform if they got virtual currency as an incentive, and 27% say they would. This number jumps up to 36% for Gen Z and 40% for Millennials.

which generation is motivated by virtual currency

On top of that, 60% of those who have ever used the metaverse say they would be more likely to use a platform if they got paid in virtual currency.

Offering incentives for using a platform can also help address a problem many marketers are currently struggling with – gathering consumer data in a way that provides value to both parties.

The Most Visited Metaverses

The Sandbox, Meta’s Horizon Worlds, and VRChat are the most visited, followed by Axie Infinity, Decentraland, and Illuvium. Keep in mind that many of these worlds are in early development, and some aren’t even accessible to the public yet. which metaverses have people visited

Data Privacy and the Metaverse

Currently, many platforms like social media track, analyze, and sell personal data, but the user gets nothing in return. In response to this, privacy protections are being developed by governments and corporations alike to give consumers more power over their data.

This means offering incentives for people to not only spend time on your platform but also share their data will become more important in the future.

So let’s take a closer look at how consumers currently think of data privacy, and whether they think the metaverse has the potential to tip the scales in their favor.

Consumers are unified in their demands for ownership over their personal information. Our survey found that:

  • 80% of consumers agree that data privacy is a human right
  • 80% of consumers agree that they should have complete control over how companies use their data
  • 79% of consumers say they are concerned about how companies use their data

how consumers feel about data privacy

On the other hand, when it comes to the metaverse, 53% of those who have ever used it say they trust how data on their activities in virtual worlds will be stored and used, while 29% distrust it. This is quite fascinating as many metaverses are decentralized, built on relatively emerging blockchain technology, and still a mystery to many — even when they’ve visited them a few times.

What’s Next for the Metaverse?

So you might be wondering what to expect next for the metaverse, and in all honesty, nobody knows.

We’ll keep running our Consumer Trends Survey regularly, to stay up to date on all the latest trends, from the metaverse to social media, workplace trends, and much more.

In the meantime, check out our State of Consumer Trends Report which includes the full results of our survey, as well as the downloadable PDF below. 

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How to Make a Good First Impression: 14 Tips to Try

Did you know that it only takes a tenth of a second to make a first impression? So when you meet someone for the first time, you need to be on your game from the very beginning — but do you know exactly how to make a good first impression?

Whether you’re meeting new connections, team members, potential employers, or customers, here is alist of tips to help you put your best foot forward and make a great first impression.

  1. Arrive early.
  2. Be empathetic.
  3. Actively listen.
  4. Be mindful of your body language and posture.
  5. Modulate your pitch and tone of voice.
  6. Choose your words wisely.
  7. Dress the part.
  8. Make eye contact.
  9. Know your audience.
  10. Come prepared.
  11. Be authentic.
  12. Put your phone away.
  13. Make a connection.
  14. Don’t forget to follow up.

 

Free Kit: Everything You Need for Your Job Search

14 Tips for Making a Good First Impression

1. Arrive Early.

Actor Billy Porter said it in his book Unprotected: A Memoir, “Fifteen minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

Arriving a little early for a meeting shows your punctuality and gives you a little more time to ensure everything is in place. If you’re giving a presentation, arriving early gives you a moment to test the equipment you’re using. If you’re early to a job interview, you’ll have time to go over your elevator pitch to yourself, adjust your tie, or make sure your hair isn’t out of place.

2. Be Empathetic.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the same feelings as another person. It can help you come across as personable when it comes to first impressions. Of course, you want to be professional and not cross boundaries. However, showing that you understand the person or group you’re speaking to and that what they’re saying resonates with you will help you form a genuine connection.

To show empathy, ask questions with genuine curiosity and listen to understand — not just respond. And make a point to stay focused and engaged in the interaction.

3. Actively listen.

Most people don’t like repeating themselves or answering the same question multiple times — it makes them feel like they aren’t being listened to. You don’t want your first impression to be that you’re an inattentive listener, so practice active listening.

Active listening is giving the speaker your undivided attention and paying attention to what’s said and the intention behind it. Listen for opportunities to ask questions pertaining to the discussion. Asking the right questions shows you’re engaged — just don’t ask something the speaker already answered.

4. Be mindful of your body language and posture.

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, keep your posture open — don’t tightly cross your arms or legs, ball your hands into fists, or hunch over in your seat. Lean in when you talk to show you’re actively listening and tuned into the conversation. Don’t be afraid to take up some space at the table. If you usually use hand gestures or move around to communicate, don’t hold back. You don’t want to appear stiff and uncomfortable.

These nonverbal cues can make a powerful subconscious impact, so be aware of your body language and posture during meetings in general — particularly during initial pitches or interviews.

Refrain from tapping, touching your face too often, placing objects in front of yourself, blinking excessively, and sitting or standing too close to others (respect the bubble, people). Some body language habits can suggest dishonesty, such as avoiding eye contact and touching your mouth, so avoid those habits as well.

Body language and posture checklist to make a good first impression

5. Modulate your pitch and tone of voice.

A high-pitched tone of voice can make you seem childish or nervous — especially if you tend to “uptalk” or use a rising inflection at the end of your sentences.According to the Corporate Finance Institute, job interviewers may get the impression that a candidate is insecure or unsure of themselves if they speak with an upward inflection. This is because upward inflections make sentences sound more like questions than statements.

Not sure if you’re guilty of this? Try practicing your presentations or recording yourself reading aloud. You’d be surprised at how different you sound to others versus in your own head.

Be sure to speak clearly and at a steady pace (not too fast and not too slow), and avoid filler words such as “um,” “ah,” and “like” because those words show hesitation. Try practicing not relying on filler words in front of a camera to train yourself.

6. Choose your words wisely.

Words matter even more than you think. Positive and persuasive words and phrases will often open doors and make people feel comfortable in your presence, ultimately making them more willing to work with you.

For instance, let’s look at many marketers’ favorite show: Mad Men. Some of Don Draper’s best pitches (e.g., Carousel and Lucky Strike) were full of positive language. That said, positive language doesn’t need to be cheesy or trendy, as Draper illustrates. Instead, positive language can uplift your audience by simply being clear and straightforward.

This point is especially valuable if you’re making a first impression in a job interview. You want potential employers to find you positive, flexible, and capable, so use language that reflects optimism and agency instead of negativity.

7. Dress the part.

Regardless of how little you personally care about fashion or style, what you wear matters. While you want to look clean and neat, it’s also essential to match or slightly exceed the relative level of formality of the person or business you are meeting with — whether that is business formal, highly casual, or something in between.

“You are your brand, especially if you are a business owner, so making sure that your look communicates your best self is important,” explains Laurel Mintz, CEO of Elevate My Brand.

If you want to show off your personality, try including one accessory that could be considered a memorable item or even a conversation piece. This could be anything from a unique piece of jewelry to a fancy tie to a pair of fun socks.

For example, former Jacksonville, Florida, television reporter Ken Amaro is known to sport a bow tie in all his TV appearances. While he wears most reporters’ typical professional suit attire, the bow tie helped him stand out. It even became the name of an annual golf tournament in Jacksonville — The Ken Amaro Bow Tie Golf Classic.

8. Make eye contact.

Focus on the person or people you are speaking with. It’s hard to connect with someone when you’re looking down at a screen, so try to make eye contact with everyone in the room.

However, keep in mind that if some people aren’t already persuaded or inclined to be on your side, they may focus more on your mouth or any presentation materials you’re showcasing instead of your eyes. This can make maintaining eye contact difficult, but if you speak clearly, concisely, and appear confident — you should eventually be able to gain your audience’s attention enough to shift their focus to your eyes.

9. Know your audience.

Do your research. If your meeting is planned in advance, you should know plenty about the person or business you’re meeting with before arriving. Google the people you’ll meet, the company founders/co-founders, their history, their competition, their main products, and any other relevant information before you walk into the room.

To gather the background information you need, check the company’s website or the LinkedIn profile of whoever you plan on speaking to. Some companies and organizations have Wikipedia pages as well. I know there has always been debate over Wikipedia’s reliability, but scrolling down to the “Reference” section of a Wikipedia article will take you to different articles, videos, and other sources of information to draw from.

10. Come prepared.

There’s nothing worse than an unproductive meeting. To make a great first impression, respect everyone’s time. If you’re meeting with someone working remotely, plan accordingly. Is your laptop WiFi reliable? Is your device (phone, computer, etc.) charged and working correctly? Did you test your web camera if you’re using one?

The last thing you want is for a meeting or interview to run long because you spent half the time fixing an awkward mishap. That said, if you’re being productive and everyone has the bandwidth, it might be okay if the meeting runs long — just make sure you check in with the group before making the call. Meeting time management is key to building an engaged group of clients or colleagues. Plus, it shows respect for their schedules.

Virtual meeting checklist to make a good first impression

11. Be authentic.

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you don’t know the answer to something they ask, don’t fake it. The ability to lean into your weaknesses shows that you are self-aware.

However, don’t over-emphasize your shortcomings, either. It might seem shockingly simple, but over-highlighting weaknesses and how you might fix them could cause you to focus on the negatives — making them the most significant part of your overall impression.

While you don’t want to hide any weaknesses (people will likely figure it out anyways), you do want to be honest and move on to your good qualities — especially at the beginning of a business relationship.

12. Put your phone away.

That goes for tablets, laptops, and other electronics, too. It’s one thing to use technology to deliver a presentation, but if they’re not needed — turn off sounds and vibrations on your mobile devices and put your screens away. Give your complete and undivided attention to the people you’re meeting for the first time to convey your commitment, focus, and good manners.

13. Make a connection.

Pay close attention to who you’re meeting with for the first time and try to forge a connection based on what they share with you. Whether it’s their alma mater or their hometown, developing a connection outside the professional conversation can be a great way to build rapport.

Just don’t be too forward. Avoid making comments about their appearance that could be perceived as inappropriate, and stick to connections you might have in common. Those are more genuine than compliments, anyway.

14. Don’t forget to follow up.

After an initial meeting, don’t forget to follow up by sending any necessary information such as notes, presentation docs, next steps, or a simple thank you email.

These small gestures will help prove that you’re serious about the connections made and the information shared and that you’re making them a priority rather than just another task to check off your to-do list.

Sending out updated information after a meeting can also be a way to get a second chance at a first impression. How so? It helps to show another side of you or your business — perhaps a more responsible side. It also allows you to clear up any misunderstandings or expand upon points you made in the initial meeting.

Don’t let a negative first impression get in the way of your ability to get to know someone. Follow these 14 tips to ensure that the first time you meet with someone won’t be the last.

Now, learn how to shoot a new professional headshot that makes an excellent first impression before you even meet your colleagues.

Apply for a job, keep track of important information, and prepare for an  interview with the help of this free job seekers kit.

How To Be a Good Interviewer

Having a good conversation with a candidate helps you understand who they are, their skill set, and what they’d bring to your team.

So, being a good interviewer goes hand-in-hand with hiring successful talent that can contribute to meeting your business goals.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about becoming an effective interviewer.

Download Now: 100 Marketing Interview Questions [Free Access]

Why is it important to be a good interviewer?

Being a good interviewer is essential because it helps you hire the right people for the job. Therefore, the skill is key for any employer that wants to hire the right candidates who are motivated, able to do the job, and are a good cultural fit for the company.

Being a good interviewer also shows respect for the interviewee. It demonstrates that you value their time and insights and are willing to invest the effort to get to know them better.

How to Be an Effective Interviewer

The best interviewers make interviews feel like conversations instead of interrogations, and they work to develop rapport with candidates to help them feel comfortable opening up and sharing information about themselves.

Let’s go over how to do this.

1. Start the conversation on a lighter note.

Candidates may be nervous at the beginning of the interview, so it can always be helpful to make small talk and begin the conversation on a lighter note before the actual interview starts. However, make sure you don’t spend so much time on small talk that you need to cut the interview short later on.

2. Do your research.

Re-review the candidate’s application, resume, and cover letter before the interview, so you know their qualifications and why they’re interested in the role.

This gives you a refresher on their background and helps you generate focused questions about what they’ve already shared that will help you dig deeper into their interest in and relationship to the role.

3. Ask open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions encourage candidates to elaborate on their answers and give you more information to work with. When you do this, ensure that you give the interviewee time to answer the question entirely.

This also means avoiding yes or no questions when not entirely necessary. For example, you can confirm with someone that they spent three years working at their last company, but asking a yes or no question about their role at said company doesn’t give you the information you’re looking for.

3. Listen more than you talk.

Aim to do more listening so you can gather as much information as possible. This is a quick tip because it leads directly to the next tip: practicing active listening.

4. Practice active listening.

Active listening is a communication style that involves focusing entirely on the person who is speaking so you can take in what they’re saying and participate in the conversation in a meaningful way.

It’s important during interviewers because it helps you learn more about the candidates and ask relevant follow-up questions when they have said something you want to learn more about.

Active listening is also an important part of being a good interviewer because it shows respect for the candidate. They can likely tell if you’re not fully immersed in what they’re saying, and if they feel you’re not interested, they may feel less confident in sharing information about themselves. Instead, active listening shows them that they have your full attention and you’re genuinely interested in learning more about them.

5. Take notes.

Taking notes goes hand in hand with active listening because it shows that you’re actively listening to what the candidate is saying. It is also a way for you to note something a candidate says that you want to ask them about later instead of interrupting their train of thought.

Taking notes also gives you a refresher on your conversations with candidates when you’re making final hiring decisions in the future.

6. Be aware of your body language.

Body language that shows attention and respect for the candidate can help them feel more comfortable opening up and sharing information about themselves. As a result, your body language during an interview makes a big difference in being a good or bad interviewer.

So, aim to make eye contact, smile, and avoid crossing your arms or fidgeting. A lack of these things can make an interviewee feel like you don’t want to be there, making them feel anxious and that you care about what they have to say.

8. Eliminate distractions.

Eliminating distractions is helpful for you and the candidate because anything that shifts focus away from the conversation can affect how well the interview goes. For example, an alarm that goes off can cause someone to lose their train of thought on a valuable piece of information.

9. Be prepared to answer questions.

Most candidates will have questions for you, such as what a day-to-day looks like for the role they’ve applied for, what company culture is like, and what your team is like, and you should be prepared to answer them.

Candidates are also interviewing you and your business, so answering their questions and giving them the information they need helps them ensure they are a good fit.

For example, if a candidate realizes that they might not be a good fit for your company, they save you the stress that can come from someone accepting an offer and promptly leaving the company if they come to that realization after they’ve begun the job.

Being a good interviewer helps your team meet your goals.

Someone who can put candidates at ease and help them feel comfortable talking about their experience and sharing their skills is a great interviewer because the more you learn about the candidate, the easier it is to make an informed decision about their fit for the role.

Next time you have an interview, leverage the tips mentioned above, and you’ll likely find yourself having valuable conversations and hiring impressive candidates that can help you meet your business goals.

marketing questions

15 Brands That Demonstrate Social Responsibility in 2022

Consumers want brands to make a difference.

In fact, Havas’ Meaningful Brands Report 2021 found that 73% of respondents think brands must act now for the good of society and the planet. In that same survey, 64% of respondents said they prefer to buy from companies with a reputation for purposeful action, not just their profits.

When brands act for the good of society and the planet, they’re being socially responsible. In this post, we’ll discuss:

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What is social responsibility?

For businesses, social responsibility is showing care and value for society and the planet in addition to, or equal to, how much care is shown for their profits and their bottom line.

How can brands be socially responsible?

Brands can be socially responsible by ensuring employees have a safe work environment and are paid a living wage, charitable giving to programs that give back to the community, championing diversity, equity, and inclusion, sustainable business practices, — the list goes on.

Early 2020 brought many businesses to a reckoning regarding social responsibility, as social justice issues were at the forefront of many conversations during the first few months of the year.

Consumers still want brands to be responsible — in fact, 45% of people think that brands need to do more to advocate for social justice issues.  The social issues that consumers believe businesses should take a stance on are racial justice, climate change, income inequality, and affordable healthcare.

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Let’s go over some examples of brands that exemplify social responsibility that you can take inspiration from.

15 Socially Responsible Brands

1. Back Market

Back Market combats the tons of waste produced by electronic devices by refurbishing used electronics and selling them to consumers. The business encourages consumers to trade in their used electronics for cash instead of throwing them away and also provides an eco-friendly alternative to those looking to buy.

2. Warby Parker

Warby Parker is famous for its at-home try-on program, where customers can try glasses frames at home before committing to a purchase.

Its Warby Parker Impact Foundation works with government agencies, nonprofits, and local community groups to increase access to vision care for adults and children underserved in this type of care. In addition, its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program donates one pair of glasses per pair bought and, to date, has distributed over 10 million glasses.

3. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is famous for taking a stand on global issues like refugee rights, LGBTQ+ rights, climate justice, voting rights — the list goes on.

To raise awareness for these issues, it partners with nonprofits to build support with its customers, and the Ben & Jerry’s foundation regularly gives funding to businesses in Vermont (its home state) and around the country that work to facilitate social change.

4. Oliberté

Oliberté founded the world’s first fair trade certified factory in Ethiopia. It has since transferred its operations to Canada but continues to show commitments to employee equity by giving employees a percentage of the earrings for every pair of shoes sold, where “sold” begins when a shoe has left the factory.

It is also part of the One Perfect for the Planet Program, where at least one percent of annual sales are contributed to environmental causes.

5. Patagonia

Patagonia is known for its environmentalist practices, like supporting grassroots activists through funding. Its Worn Wear program encourages customers to give their used Patagonia clothing back to the business to be refurbished and resold instead of throwing it away, and Patagonia Provisions makes and sells organic foods that ensure healthy soil, are cultivated under ethical employee conditions, and fair and humane treatment of animals.

6. EnrichHer

EnrichHer is a finance technology platform that gives small women-owned businesses loans to help with business operations. It also offers training programs with one-on-one and peer support, tools to help owners access funding, and networking opportunities to help businesses find resources and tools to help them better their business.

7. IKEA

IKEA is dedicated to environmentalism with its plans to use only sustainable materials and recycled or renewable plastic by 2030. The IKEA Foundation also works with NGOs to create employment and entrepreneurship programs and funds environmental ventures around the world, like renewable energy projects.

8. Cracked It

Based in the UK, Cracked It is a phone repair service that employs formerly incarcerated youth, a community often discriminated against and looked over when seeking employment. It teaches job-relevant and life skills and prepares youth for future employment opportunities to come down the line.

9. Allbirds

Allbirds, a footwear and apparel company, uses natural, renewable, and sustainable materials to create its products, demonstrating a commitment to environmentalism and sustainability.

Allbirds Flight Plan lays out the business’ sustainability commitments that culminate in cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2025 through investments in regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, and responsible energy use. Allbirds ReRun is similar to Worn Wear, and used products are donated, refurbished, and resold to reduce waste.

10. Cora

Cora sells organic personal care products and, with every purchase, donates products and body literacy resources to communities often overlooked in related discussions. 75% of the donations it makes are to organizations that serve BIPOC communities and, to date, has donated 6,600,000 products and diverted 14,000 from landfills.

11. Loop

Black people in Black communities pay 70% more for car insurance than those in predominantly White upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Loop, an AI-powered car insurance company, recognizes the disparity and commits to making car insurance more equitable, available, and affordable for people of color, most significantly by only considering factors related to driving history.

12. Glass Half Full

Glass Half Full is a Louisiana-based business that collects glassware that it recycles and repurposes into sand and glass cullet. Its outputs help the environment, as the sand can be used for disaster relief, coastal restoration, and eco-construction, and glass cullet can be repurposed into new glassware.

Since its creation, it has diverted 2 million pounds of glass from NOLA landfills.

13. Culture Brands

Culture Brands is an agency with media platforms and consumer brands that engage directly with the African American community, helping people feel seen and engage with content related to their experiences. Because Of Them We Can is one of its platforms that shares content that amplifies Black voices and entrepreneurial successes.

14. Tony’s Chocolonely

Tony’s Chocolonely is a chocolate company committed to environmentalism and equitable and fair working conditions.

Tony’s Open Chain sourcing principles outline the business commitments, including paying a premium for cocoa beans to ensure farmers receive a living wage, and CLMRS, which identifies illegal child labor and improves the living conditions for farmers and their families.

It also helps its customers learn more about chocolate farming practices, as they can trace the entire lifecycle of the bean that made the chocolate bar they hold in their hands.

15. Accion International

Accion International’s mission is to build a financially inclusive world by providing economic opportunities to communities often overlooked and left out of financial conversations.

It provides financial support to low-income entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color, and women, in addition to educational resources, coaching, and business networks that can be helpful when it comes to building and growing a business. In 2021, Accion International was able to reach and impact 220M+ people.

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Phone Photography 101: How to Take Good Pictures With Your Mobile Device

Before the days of smartphones — if you can remember such a time — taking a great photo was a labor-intensive process. Now, it’s easy to master how to take good photos with your phone — no fancy cameras or desktop editing software required.

Brands are catching on, too — these kinds of visuals remain important to marketing. But make no mistake: Taking a great photo on your smartphone is not as simple as pointing and shooting. There are plenty of bad smartphone photos out there — I’m sure you’ve seen at least a few.

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What’s the secret to taking great pictures with your smartphone, then? As it turns out, there are a few of them. Check out these tips below to improve your smartphone photography game. (And once you have the photo-taking part down, check out some of the best photo editing apps for mobile.)

How to Take Good Photos With Your Phone: 25 Tips & Tricks

1. Use gridlines to balance your shot.

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera’s gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera that are based on the “rule of thirds” — a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total.

According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.

how to take good photos with phone: rule of thirds

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To switch the grid on …

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “gridlines” option to “on.”

2. Set your camera’s focus.

Today’s phone cameras automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus, open your camera app and tap the screen where you want to sharpen the view.

If you’re taking a photo of something in motion, for example, it can be difficult for your camera to follow this subject and refocus as needed. Tap the screen to correct your phone camera’s focus just before snapping the picture to ensure the moving subject has as much focus as possible. A square or circular icon should then appear on your camera screen, shifting the focus of your shot to all of the content inside that icon.

3. Use HDR mode.

High dynamic range or HDR, is a camera app feature that helps balance the light and dark elements in a high-contrast photo. It can be used to give photos a more creative, or artsy vibe, but it is commonly used to produce an image that looks similar to how you see it with your eyes.

Often with smartphone cameras, it’s hard to get the perfect exposure for light and dark areas. You could be taking a photo of someone in a shaded area outside against a bright background or in a room with low light against a bright wall. Setting the exposure to the background could make the person being photographed underexposed. Conversely, setting the exposure to the subject could result in the background being overexposed.

HDR prevents this by retaining both the details in darker areas and shadows and bright areas. The iPhone takes photos in HDR by default. For android phones, you may need to adjust HDRsettings manually.

4. Use natural light.

It’s hard to find a great smartphone photo that was taken with a flash. Most of the time, they make a photo look overexposed, negatively altering colors and making human subjects look washed out.

Take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find, even after dark. This gives you a chance to play with shadows, like in the second image below, or create a silhouette with other ambient sources of light, like traffic and surrounding buildings.

how to take a good photo with phone: use natural lightImage Source

Once you’ve taken the photo, play with the “Exposure” tool in your favorite photo editing app to see if you can make the image slightly brighter, without making it too grainy.

5. Focus on one subject.

Many of the best photos include just one, interesting subject. So when taking a picture of one, spend some extra time setting up the shot. Some professional photographers say that the subject shouldn’t fill the entire frame, and that two-thirds of the photo should be negative space — that helps the subject stand out even more.

But be sure you tap the screen of your smartphone to focus the camera on your subject — that’ll help to ensure that it’s focused and the lighting is optimized.

Pro Tip: Once you’ve taken your photo, you can use filters and apps to make the subject even more vivid, or to crop it to frame the subject correctly. The brightness, contrast, and saturation of the photo can also be adjusted accordingly — all from your phone.

how to take good photos with phone: focus on one subject

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6. Hold your phone still.

While smartphones have given us the benefit of taking photos on the go, the cameras on our phones are still sensitive to movement. To help avoid blurry or warped photos, steady your camera first.

You can lean on a friend or wall to prevent your arms or hands from wobbling, or prop your phone up using books or similar objects to steady your phone.

7. Consider buying a mobile tripod.

Although mobile devices make it easy to snap any photo on the go, there’s never been an easy way to ensure the shot stays level and balanced when you shoot — especially if you want to be in the picture and not just take a typical selfie with your extended arm.

Mobile tripods give you the freedom to mount your smartphone for quick hands-free shots without lugging any heavy equipment with you. Most mobile tripods are barely bigger than your mobile device and can bend to any angle. Learn how these miniature tripods can help enhance your mobile video experience below.

8. Embrace negative space.

“Negative space” simply refers to the areas around and between the subjects of an image — and it can take a photo from “good” to “great.”

When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer. And what does negative space look like? It’s often a large expanse of open sky, an empty field, a large wall, or water, as in the example below.

how to take good photos with phone: negative space

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9. Find different perspectives.

Taking photos from a unique, unexpected angle can make them more memorable — it tends to create an illusion of depth or height with the subjects. It also makes the image stand out, since most mobile photos are taken either straight -on or from a bird’s eye view.

Try taking a photo directly upward and playing with the sky as negative space, like in the first photo below. Or, you can try taking it at a slight downward angle.

Pro Tip: If you take a photo and find the perspective is a little askew or tilted, use the SKRWT photo editing app to make the lines look clean and square.

how to take good photos with phone: perspective

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10. Play with reflections.

There’s something so idyllic about seeing the sky reflected in a body of water. There’s a reason why we love seeing that — our eyes are drawn to reflections. So look for opportunities to play with them in photos.

There are plenty of out-of-the-box places to find reflections — puddles, larger bodies of water, mirrors, sunglasses, drinking glasses, and metallic surfaces are just a few.

how to take good photos with phone: capture reflections

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11. Use leading lines.

In some photos, there’s a line that draws the viewer’s eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or curvilinear— think staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the woods.

Leading lines are great for creating a sense of depth in an image, and can make your photo look purposefully designed — even if you just happened to come upon a really cool shape by accident.

how to take good photo with phone: leading lines

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12. Look for symmetry.

Symmetry can be defined as “a vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance.” And pictures that contain symmetry can be incredibly pleasing to the eye — it’s also one of the simplest and most compelling ways to compose a photo.

In photography, symmetry usually means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other. That’s a bit different than reflections — symmetry can be found “in the wild,” as per the staircase picture, or you can set up your photo accordingly, like photographer Eric Christian did in the first photo below.

And remember — use those gridlines from tip #1 to line everything up perfectly.

how to take good photo with phone:symmetry

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13. Keep an eye out for repetitive patterns.

Repetitive patterns are very pleasing to the eye — they appear whenever strong graphic elements are repeated over and over again, like lines, geometric shapes, forms, and colors. These patterns can make a strong visual impact, and photographing something like a beautiful, tiled floor can be enough to create a striking image. Other times, it’s more fun to keep an eye out for where they appear naturally or unintentionally, like with the congruent fire escapes on the left.

how to take good photo with phone: pattern

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14. Play around with color blocking.

Isn’t it cool when an entire photo is black and white, except for a single object? It turns out that yes, indeed, there are apps for that. One of our favorites is Touch Color — an app that automatically converts a picture to grayscale and lets you fill in the parts you want to colorize.

Color blocking can help to highlight the elements of a photo that you want to stand out, like a plant or something else with a bold hue. It achieves a similar goal as negative space, in that it can help a single subject stand out — but with color blocking, the photo’s other elements remain intact for a cohesive image.

how to take good photos with phone: Color Effects

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15. Avoid zooming in.

When you take a photo from a distance, it’s tempting to zoom in on something specific you’re trying to capture. But it’s actually better not to zoom in — doing so can make the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated.

Instead, try to get closer to your subject — unless it’s a wild animal, in which case we would advise keeping your distance — or take the photo from a default distance, and crop it later on. That way, you won’t compromise quality, and it’s easier to play around or optimize a larger image.

16. Capture small details.

You may have heard the phrase, “It’s the little things.” Sometimes, that also applies to photos. Close-up images that capture small, intricate, and delicate details can make for really compelling visual content. Keep an eye out for textures and patterns like peeling paint, a gravel road, or a tile tabletop.

Pro Tip: Use the “sharpen” tool in your favorite photo editing app to (conservatively) sharpen the details of your photo. You might also download the Camera+ app and use its Clarity filter, which is what The Wall Street Journal‘s Kevin Sintumuang calls the app’s “secret sauce — it adds pro-camera crispness to almost any shot.”

how to take a good photo with phone: detail tile patterns

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17. If you use flash, only do so during the day.

Sometimes, using your camera’s flash can improve a photo — but rarely does it do so at night. Because dark shots reveal a much sharper contrast against your phone’s flash, it can make any flash look invasive and uneven

In already well-lit spaces, however, a flash can help to soften some dark shadows behind or beneath your main subject.

When framing your next shot, look on the ground or against vertical surfaces for any dark shadows you might want to remove. If you see any, flip on the flash manually in your camera app. Setting your phone’s camera flash to “auto” won’t guarantee that your phone will notice the shadows you want to get rid of. Just remember to turn the flash off again when you’re done.

Consider the importance of flash for enhancing or hiding certain lines and features the next time you’re shooting product photography.

18. Set your camera app’s exposure manually.

Another mobile camera feature you’ll want to set manually is your exposure. Tapping your screen when your phone’s camera is on doesn’t just refocus the lens on a new subject — it also automatically adjusts how much light the camera lets in. This, too, won’t always look just right. It’s best to adjust it by hand.

To change your mobile camera’s exposure by hand, open your camera app and tap the screen. When you see the lens refocus, you’ll see a very small sun icon and a vertical scale. Slowly swipe your finger up and down this scale to adjust the light level.

19. Create abstracts.

Abstract photos are meant to capture the essence of an object, or a series of them, without revealing the entire landscape as a whole. In other words, they serve the purpose of creating unique, surprising images from ordinary subjects.

This look can be accomplished by cropping an abstract portion of an otherwise normal photo, or by taking close-up shots of objects that leave the viewer wondering — in admiration, of course — what the subject might be. And subjects with patterns or repetition are great candidates for abstract photography, like in the photo of sliced figs below.

how to take good photos with phone: abstract architecture

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20. Take candids.

Posed photos can be great for the sake of memories — happy moments with friends, family, or the occasional run-in with a celebrity. But sometimes, candid shots of people doing things, or people with people, can be far more interesting.

That’s because candid photos are better able to effectively capture the emotion and essence of a moment. One of the best ways to capture this kind of shot is to just take as many photos as possible. You’ll have more to choose from, and the best photos often happen when the “stars align,” so to speak, in a single moment — everyone’s eyes are open, one person is tilting their head just so, and you finally got a shot of your chronically closed-lip friend smiling with his teeth.

take good photos with phone: eating candid

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21. Be unconventional.

Composition is a huge part of what makes a photo great, but so is the photo’s subject. Some of the most delightful and remarkable photos come out of cool, unique ideas. Images are more effective than text at evoking emotion from your viewers — that often means getting your photos to say something.

Try thinking outside of the box when it comes to what you’re capturing — your viewers could be pleasantly surprised by a cool or unexpected subject.

leaf-dog-constellation

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Want more tips on creating visual content? Check out these examples of explainer videos.

22. Make ’em laugh.

Speaking of evoking emotion, sometimes the most memorable photos are the ones that make us giggle. The image below of an older woman wearing a brightly-colored shirt stating “Hi hater” is funny because it’s unexpected — and there’s a part of us that admires her, too. The second image of the dog toy on a dinner plate pokes fun at classic Instagram food shots, but it’s from a dog’s perspective. If you can make your audience laugh, they’re likely to enjoy your photo.

pug-eating-toy

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23. Clean your phone’s lens.

A smartphone camera might be more convenient to carry around than a full-fledged photojournalist’s camera, but it comes at the cost of protection.

Your phone is usually in your pocket or your bag when you’re out of the house. All the while, the device’s camera lens is collecting all kinds of dust and lint. Be sure to clean this lens with a soft handkerchief before taking a photo. You might not be able to tell just how dirty the lens was until you start editing your picture, and making sure the lens is crystal clear before taking a shot can keep you from starting from scratch.

24. Attach an external lens.

Want to get really fancy? External lenses are for you. There are actually several out there that can be attached to the top of your smartphone’s native camera lens — from fish-eye to wide-angle lenses, these add-ons can bring an entirely new quality and perspective to your photos.

According to Wirecutter, the best camera lenses for iPhone photography are made by Moment, a manufacturer of mobile lenses. Start there, or do some research to find the lens add-ons that fit your smartphone photography needs.

Horses looking into fisheye external lens attached to phone camera

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25. Don’t be afraid to edit.

Composing and taking your smartphone photo is just the first step to making it visually compelling. Editing your photos is the next step — and a very critical one, at that. Filters can be a valuable photographic tool, particularly when it comes to two goals: 1) Removing blemishes from a picture, and 2) making food look even more delicious.

Beauty filters are a common fix— and now, the iPhone photos app offers many similar filters. There are also apps like Pho.to, which can automatically retouch facial photos without a lot of work. And when it comes to those photos of your daily meals? One of the latest apps available is Foodie, which comes with its own set of filters optimized for different types of food.

But there are many other great photo and video editing apps out there for mobile devices — check out this post to see some of the best ones out there.

Foodie

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Take Better Photos

Thanks to our mobile devices and the editing apps that come with them, we can now take high-quality photos and edit them without too many bells and whistles — all from the same device that we use to make calls.

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

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The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics in 2022

Are you confused — even intimidated — by Google Analytics? Good news: you’re not alone. GA is notoriously complicated, and with the latest release — GA4 — things are just about clear as mud.

In fact, when I first started to delve into GA’s waters, I wondered if I’d ever truly get it. There were so many concepts to learn and reports to run. How did people ever conquer this thing?!

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Lots and lots of reading plus some trial and error, it turns out.

I’m not saying I’ve reached total mastery — there’s always something new to pick up — but I’m vastly more comfortable.

And I want you to be, too. So, here’s the cheat sheet for Google Analytics/GA4. This guide might be long, but it’ll take you from zero to hero in ~7,000 words. And if you still have questions, let me know! I’m @ajavuu on Twitter.

Before we move forward, you should know that there are currently two versions of Google Analytics: Universal Analytics and GA4.

What is Universal Analytics?

Universal Analytics is the current version of Google Analytics. If you set up your Google Analytics account before October 2020, you likely have Universal Analytics.

What is GA4?

GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics. It has a slightly different UI and the reports, tools, and features have been upgraded. If you created a Google Analytics account after October 2020, you likely have GA4.

You’ll know if you have Universal Analytics or GA4 by the way your home screen looks. On the left is Universal Analytics and on the right is GA4.

Google Analytics: Universal Analytics vs. GA4

Other marketing analytics options, such as HubSpot, can give you all the data you need with much less work.

Now, what steps will you need to follow when setting up GA? Good question.

Before you start using Google Analytics, you’ll have to set up a Google account. This means you must have a registered Google Account email address and password.

Once you’ve created a Google account, that doesn’t mean you automatically have access to GA — rather, you have to register for Analytics (which we’ll review how to do in the next section). But the important thing to note as you go to set up GA is that you can only access the tool by using a valid Google account.

Here are the steps on how to use Google Analytics for your website. (I’m using my class reunion website as an example.)

Step 1: Create a Google Analytics account.

First, you’ll have to create a Google Analytics account. Or, sign in to your current account.How to Create a Google Analytics Account: Step 1

Step 2: Add the name, URL, and industry of the website you want to track.

Choose which account you want to add the property to.

How to Create a Google Analytics Account: Step 2a

You should create and name your Property at this point and enter the website’s URL as well as industry and reporting time zone. Then you’ll be able to Create and Finish this step of the process.

How to Create a Google Analytics Account: Step 2b

Step 3: Add a Data Stream or View to your property.

Note: GA4 no longer uses “Views” but it instead has “Data Streams” with similar functionality. Keep this in mind when sollowing these steps using Universal Analytics.

To add a view to your Universal Analytics account, go to the account and property you want to add a view to — use the menu to Create a View, name your view, select the type of view (web or app), and answer a few other questions. Remember, you can add up to 25 views to a property in GA.

How to Create a Google Analytics Account: Step 3a

To add a data stream to your GA4 account, go to the account and property you want to add a data stream to — use the menu to add a Data Stream. Choose or add a stream, and save it.How to Create a Google Analytics Account: Step 3b

Step 4: Add your tracking code directly after the <head> tag of your site.

When you create a property, you’ll have access to a unique ID for tracking and a global site tag (code you need to add to each site page you want to measure). This is how you’ll be able to collect data in your property.

Then, paste your global site tag right after the opening <head> tag on each site page you plan on measuring.

You’ll be asked to choose your type of site (static, dynamic, web hosting, Google Tag Manager) so that you can set up the data collection accurately.

(For more, read our guide to installing the Google Analytics tracking code on your site.)

Step 5: Visit your GA portal and verify the code is working.

Lastly, verify your code is working. You can do this by looking at the Real-Time reports section while clicking around on your site in a different tab or on your phone. The report should show at least one visitor to the site (that’s you!)

How to Create a Google Analytics Account: Step 5

And that’s pretty much it! After that review, you may be wondering the following:

Do you need to add the GA code to every page of your site?

That’s a lot of manual work — especially if your website has more than 50 pages. Plus, what happens when you create new pages? Do you need to add the tag every time?!

The short answer is: no.

The longer answer: you only need to add the tag to every page template. So, if you have one page type on your site (meaning every individual page uses the same header module), you only need to add it to that module — and it’ll be applied to every page.

If you have two page types, you’d need to paste the code into the two separate header modules. Three page types? Three header modules.

And if you use a CMS like HubSpot, this task is even easier. These tools come with a separate field where you paste your tracking code just once. HubSpot users can follow these simple instructions for adding GA.

Additionally, to set up GA properly, you’ll want to understand the various layers of the tool — specifically, the hierarchy.

Understanding the Basics of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is made up of many parts, so it’s important to have a clear lay of the land as you begin learning. This section is dedicated to Google Analytics guidelines to help you master the basics of this powerful tool.

Google Analytics Hierarchy

Here’s a look at the GA hierarchy. Remember, Universal Analytics uses “Views” while GA4 uses “Data Streams”, so both are demonstrated in the visual below.

Google Analytics Hierarchy

Let’s dive into each of the sections within the hierarchy.

1. Organization

The organization is the highest level. It represents a company. For example, our organization is HubSpot, Inc. One organization can encompass multiple GA accounts.

Organizations are recommended for larger businesses, but not mandatory.

2. Account(s)

Accounts are not optional. Using Google Analytics requires at least one (sometimes several) accounts.

An account doesn’t mean a user account. I can log into the HubSpot Google Analytics accounts using my Google email ID. HubSpot’s head of technical SEO can also log into the same account using his Google email ID. Our historical optimization specialist can also log into the same account using his Google email ID.

Important details:

  • You can assign one property to each account or multiple properties to one account. Every account can hold up to 50 properties.
  • You can give user permissions for an entire Analytics account, a property in an account, or a view in a property.

You might be wondering, “What’s better: creating a new account for every property or adding every account to the same property?”

It depends on your use case and goals.

For example, suppose you have one website — the Stark Industries corporate site — and five subdirectories, including the Stark Industries blog, careers section, media resources, case studies, and investor relations information.

You want to create separate properties for each subdirectory so the people on each team can look at how their portion of the site is performing, as well as the larger site.

But maybe you have another site that discusses Tony Stark’s work with S.H.I.E.L.D. You want the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to see data for this subdirectory, but you don’t want them to see data for the rest of the website. You create a new account and property for the S.H.I.E.L.D. site.

3. Property

A property is a website or app. Each property can support up to 25 views.

4. View

At the minimum, you need two views per property:

  • One with zero configuration — essentially the “raw” version of the view
  • One with filters set up to exclude any traffic from within your company (i.e. a filter for your IP address) as well as bots and spam traffic

A view only captures the information after your filters and configured settings have been applied. And once you delete a view, that data is gone forever. For those reasons, it’s critical to keep an unfiltered view of your data.

5. Data Stream

A data stream in GA4 is a flow of data that gives you more insights into how your site is performing across different operating systems. There are three preset data streams you can choose from including web, iOS, and Andriod; or you can choose to create a custom data stream.

6. Google Analytics Dimensions and Metrics

To use GA successfully, you need to understand dimensions versus metrics. I’ve found the easiest way to think about it is:

  • Dimensions: categorical variables. Simple examples include names, colors, and places.
  • Metrics: quantitative variables. Basic examples include age, temperature, and population.

Or as my Data Analytics professor put it, “Metrics are what you can do math on.” Not the most eloquent phrasing, but it works.

Dimension Examples

  • Browser
  • Location
  • Landing page
  • Device
  • Customer type

Metric Examples

  • Sessions
  • Pageviews
  • Conversions
  • Bounce rate
  • Session duration

In any GA report, your dimensions are your rows and your metrics are your columns.

Google Analytics Metrics Example

Custom Dimensions and Metrics

GA lets you create custom dimensions and metrics from Analytics data plus non-Analytics data. To give you an idea, suppose you track the membership type of customers who have created an account in your CRM. You could combine this information with page views to see page views by member type.

Or maybe you run a blog. If you want to understand how audience engagement impacts other metrics (like conversions, pages per session, etc.), you could create three custom dimensions for each type of reader:

  • Advocate: user who shared one-plus posts on social media
  • Subscriber: user who signed up for your email list
  • Customer: user who purchased premium access

Using these dimensions will give you invaluable information.

7. Google Analytics Audiences

An audience is a group of users that have something in common. That commonality could be anything: maybe you’re targeting consumers in Australia, so you have an “Australian audience,” or you want to sell to millennials, so you have a “25-34 audience.”

GA comes with several built-in audiences (including the two I just mentioned, location and age). You don’t need to do a thing to set these up — once you have the tracking code installed, GA will automatically break down your visitor data into these audience reports.

However, you can also create custom audiences. Perhaps you’re only interested in “Australian millennials”; you’d need to make a custom audience that only includes visitors who are A) in Australia and B) between the ages of 25 and 34.

Creating an audience is fairly easy. Honestly, the hardest part is figuring out what you’re trying to accomplish and then identifying the user characteristics that’ll help you do that.

Once you’ve done that, follow these instructions to create a new audience segment. From there you can import a segment to use as the basis for your Audience Report.

8. Google Analytics Segments

A segment is a subset of your data. I like to picture an entire pizza made up of all different slices — one slice has pesto and mozzarella, another has sausages and spicy peppers, another has ham and pineapple, and so on. Metaphorically speaking, each slice is a segment.

You can create segments based on:

  • Users (e.g. users who have bought something on your site before, users who have signed up for a consultation, etc.)
  • Sessions (e.g. all sessions that were generated from a specific marketing campaign, all sessions where a pricing page was viewed)
  • Hits (e.g. all hits where the purchase exceeded $85, all hits where a specific product was added to the cart)

Like audiences, GA provides you with several segments. I wouldn’t stop there: you can get incredibly granular with your segments.

To give you some inspiration, here are a few of HubSpot’s segments:

  • Users who viewed a specific product page and watched the demo video
  • Users who viewed the same product page and didn’t watch the demo video
  • Users who view a specific Academy course page
  • Users who view a specific Academy lesson page
  • Users who view a blog post and a product page

The sky is your limit — well, that, and GA’s segment cap.

Google Analytics Reports

There are five primary reports available in Google Analytics that can give you insight into your website’s performance. You’ll find these reports on the lefthand size of the screen.

All of these options can be a bit overwhelming. And depending on which version of Google Analytics you have (universal analytics or GA4), you’ll see different reports.

Let’s walk through each report together. First, we’ll start with Universal Analytics reports and then move on to GA4 reports.

Universal Analytics Reports

1. Google Analytics Real-Time Report

Google Analytics Real-Time Report

As the name suggests, the Real-Time report gives you insight into what’s happening on your site at this very moment. You can see how many visitors are on your site, which pages they’re visiting, which social platforms they’re coming from, where they’re located, and more.

While this report is fun to look at occasionally, it’s probably the least valuable. Here are some ways to use Real-Time:

  • See how much traffic you’re getting from a new social or blog post
  • Know immediately if a one-day sale or event is driving views and/or conversions
  • Make sure tracking URLs and custom events that you’ve just set up are working as they should

These are useful, but as you’ll see, the other reports pack a far greater punch.

2. Google Analytics Audience Report

Google Analytics Audience Report

The GA Audience report gives you a high-level overview for the property you’re currently looking at. Check this report once a day to get a sense of how you’re trending overall.

Underneath “Overview,” you’ll see “Audiences,” as well as expandable menus for “Demographics,” “Interests,” “Geo,” “Behavior,” “Technology,” “Mobile,” “Cross-Device,” “Custom,” and “Benchmarking.”

Explore each of these sections to get a sense of what they can tell you about your visitors.

Every section describes an audience.

Active Users

Whoever named this report belongs in the same group as the person who named guinea pigs: “active users” doesn’t refer to users currently on your site — that’s the Real-Time report — and guinea pigs are neither pigs nor from Guinea.

The Active Users report shows you the number of users who visited in the last day (1-day active users), week (7-day active users), two weeks (14-day active users), and four weeks (28-day active users.)

Google Analytics Active Users Report

What’s the value of this report, you ask?

If you have more one-day users than longer-term ones, you’re struggling with retention. People aren’t coming back to your site or app — you need to figure out why.

I’d also recommend looking at this report with various segments; for instance, perhaps you see that users in a certain age bracket have much better retention than the average.

Lifetime Value Report

First things first: do you need a refresher on Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and how to calculate it? We’ve got you.

The Lifetime Value report gives you a sense of how valuable users are to your company. You can see lifetime value for, say, the users you generated from email marketing versus the ones you acquired from organic search. Armed with this information, you can decide which channel to invest more in.

A few notes: Lifetime Value is capped at 90 days. The Acquisition date range, however — which you can adjust — reflects all the users you acquired in that time frame.

Imagine you’re interested in looking at transactions per user for users you acquired in the week before Black Friday. You’d adjust the date range to that week specifically. Then you’d see the average transactions per user for that cohort over the following 90 days.

Because HubSpot is a SaaS company, not an ecommerce business, I look at goal completions per user, page views per user, and sessions per user by Acquisition Channel.

If my team has recently wrapped up a marketing campaign, I’ll look at the same metrics by Acquisition Campaign.

But if you are in ecommerce and want to see transaction and revenue data, you’ll need to have ecommerce tracking set up.

(By the way, here’s how to track revenue in HubSpot.)

Cohort Analysis

Some people have gone so far as to call Cohort Analysis “the single most powerful report in GA.”

So, how does it work? This report groups users by one characteristic — so far, “Acquisition Date” is the only “Cohort Type” you can use. By the way, Acquisition Date is the day a user first visited your website.

You have several options from there.

  • First, pick your cohort size: day, week, or month.
  • Next, pick your metric, or what you want to explore for this cohort. It can be further broken down into Per user, Retention, and Total.
    • Per user means the total count of that metric divided by the cohort size. So if you choose Transactions per user, for example, you’ll see the average number of transactions per user for that cohort.
    • Retention is simple: user retention, or the number of users who returned that day, week or month (determined by the cohort size you selected) divided by the total number of users in that cohort.
    • Total: the total number of sessions, transactions, etc. that occurred for that cohort size.
  • Choose your date range. GA lets you see up to three months of data.

Now let’s dive into reading the report, because it’s not obvious.

Google Analytics Cohort Analysis Report

The left-hand column shows you the Cohort Type you picked — Acquisition date, by default — broken down by Cohort Size (day, week, or month).

The first row shows you the totals for all the users in that cohort. Each row underneath that represents the activity in that day, week, or month (in this example, we’re looking at month.)

The row outlined in light blue reflects the Cohort Size you’ve chosen. Remember that data only goes back three months at the max.

The row outlined in yellow shows you the values for the metric you chose (in this case, Goal Completions per User). In the eternal words of Calvin Harris: baby, this what you came for.

Look at the first row. This tells you the average goal completions for the entire cohort in the first month after they were acquired was 1.09. Average goal completions for the entire cohort in the second month after they acquired dropped to 0.09. By the last month, it’s 0.02.

Now look at the next three rows. It looks like average goal completions per user in the first month after they were acquired increased slightly from December to January and again from January to February.

This is pretty usual behavior. Let’s imagine that instead, this report tells us average goal completions per user for February 1-28, 2019 (the last row) was 4.07. Woah! That’s nearly four times as high as December and January.

We’d definitely want to investigate further. And to do so, all we have to do is right-click on the cohort we’re interested in.

Make sure you click on the column if you want the entire day, week, or month analyzed. Click on a cell if you want to analyze only the users who, for example, completed a goal three days after they were acquired on February 27, 2019.

Google Analytics Cohort Analysis Report All Users

When you right-click, this box will pop up:

How to create a cohort segment in google analytics

Give this cohort a descriptive name. Change the views to “Any View” if you want to use this segment across your entire property (which I usually recommend), then click “Create.”

Voila — now you can compare this cohort to any other segment in any report you choose.

3. Google Analytics Acquisition Reports

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports

The Acquisition report breaks down your traffic by source: organic, direct, referral, email, social, paid search, display, affiliate, and (Other). (GA uses the (Other) category when it doesn’t know how to categorize a subset of traffic.)

From All Traffic, you can click into Channels.

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports

Click on any category to explore each source in detail.

Depending on the category, you’ll see landing pages (which URLs your visitors entered the site on), source (which website brought them to yours), or keyword (which query took them to your site.)

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports Treemaps

To see this information presented visually, click on All Traffic > Treemaps. This post walks you through how to read and adjust the Treemaps report.

The next report, Source/Medium, breaks down the general category of traffic (which you saw in “Channels”) into the search engine or domain.

It’s useful if you want to get more granular insight into the ways people are coming to your site. For example, you might notice that a whopping 70% of your referral traffic is coming from LinkedIn, while just 5% is coming from Pinterest. Depending on your marketing team’s priorities it may be time to shift focus.

The last report, Referrals, reveals the specific URLs that sent people to your site, e.g. your referral traffic.

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports for referral traffic

I like to add “Landing page” as a secondary dimension so you can see which pages on your site are receiving the referral traffic.

4. Google Analytics Behavior Reports

Google Analytics Behavior Reports

Out of all the reports in GA, I use the Behavior ones the most.

Site Content

This report gives you a review all of the blog posts, landing pages, web pages on your site.

All Pages

Let’s start with Site Content > All Pages. This shows the top-trafficked pages for your current view and/or segment. It’s useful in and of itself — you should always keep a careful eye on your most viewed URLs — but I especially like it when I’m analyzing traffic growth or declines.

To give you an idea, maybe total traffic to my website has dropped 10% month over month. I’d navigate to Site Content > All Pages and change the date range to this month compared to the last month (making sure the days of the week match up).

Google Analytics Behavior Reports: All Pages

Then I can see the differences in page views by URL:

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports for all pages

This helps me identify which pages received less traffic and contributed to that decline.

Helpful tip: I like to change the “Sort Type” from “Default” to “Absolute Change” so I see the results sorted by the greatest differences in percentage rather than total views.

Google Analytics Behavior Reports: Absolute Change

I also add Page Title as a secondary dimension so I can see the name of each page alongside its URL.

Content Drilldown

This report breaks down the structure of your site by subdomain and then subfolder. To give you an idea, for HubSpot we can see data for each of our subdomains, including:

  • blog.hubspot.com
  • developers.hubspot.com
  • community.hubspot.com

And so on. If I clicked into blog.hubspot.com, I could then see aggregated data for:

  • blog.hubspot.com/sales
  • blog.hubspot.com/marketing
  • blog.hubspot.com/service

You get the drift. This report is probably most valuable for those managing highly complex properties.

Landing Pages

Landing pages is another one of my favorite reports. GA defines a landing page as the first page in a session — in other words, the visitor’s first interaction with your website.

There are a few ways to slice and dice this report.

First, if you’re interested in the sources (organic, paid social, direct, etc.) driving users to the landing page, you can add Source/Medium as a secondary dimension.

This is basically the opposite version of the report we added earlier.

Second, if you only want to see which landing pages users visited from a specific source, on a specific platform, or within a specific category, you can add the appropriate system segment:

Google Analytics Behavior Reports: landing pages

Maybe you’re most interested in the landing pages that mobile and tablet users see — so you choose the Mobile and Tablet Traffic.

Or perhaps you’re curious about users who ended up buying something, so you choose the “Made a Purchase” segment. There are lots of possibilities here.

Exit Pages

This report shows the last pages users visited in their sessions before they left your site.

That’s a little confusing, so let’s use an example.

I want to find a place to grab dinner with my friends so I search, “Mediterranean restaurants near me.” A place that looks good pops up, so I click on it. First, I check out the menu. They have a hummus sampler — yum. Then I click on their press page. It links to a recent article on Eater, so I leave the site to read it. The reviewer loved the food. I’m sold.

The Press page would be my exit page.

You may hear that you should analyze your exit pages to understand why users are leaving your site — I think this example reveals why that strategy doesn’t always make sense. Just because someone has left doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the content.

Check this report out but take the data with a grain of salt.

Site Speed

This report is pretty self-explanatory: it tells you how quickly your site is loading for users. Obviously, the faster the better — not only do faster pages correlate with higher revenue, but Google’s algorithm takes page load time into account.

Site Speed report example

Site Speed Page Timings

This report delves into the average page load times for each URL. I use it to identify the slowest-loading pages on HubSpot’s site with the ultimate goal of figuring out why they’re taking their sweet, sweet time and how to speed them up.

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports for site speed

The default metrics are page views and average page load time, but I also recommend looking at:

  • Avg. page load time and bounce rate
    • Change the Sort Type to “Weighted” so you see the blog posts with the highest page views first
  • Avg. page load time and page value

Site Search

First things first: if users can search your website, make sure you’ve set up Site Search in GA. You must enable it for every view separately (here are the step-by-step instructions).

Usage

I typically start with the “Usage” report, which tells me how many sessions occurred with and without one-plus searches. In other words, I learn how frequently people used site search for the view and time period I specified.

Search Terms

Here’s where you learn what people are searching for. Look for themes: if you see the same search terms coming up multiple times, there are a few conclusions you could draw.

Either you need to create new content that gives users the information they’re looking for, and/or you need to better surface existing content so it’s easier to find.

Pay attention to the “% Search Exits” column, as this tells you how many users clicked away from the search results page rather than choosing a result. You can usually infer there wasn’t a good answer for their question (or it wasn’t appropriately titled.)

Google Analytics Behavior Reports: Search Terms

Search Pages

This report displays which pages users are starting searches from. It’s important to think about this contextually. Maybe people are commonly beginning searches from your 404 page — that makes sense and isn’t anything to be alarmed about.

If, on the other hand, they’re starting searches from a product landing page, something’s wrong. The content clearly isn’t living up to the expectations they had when they clicked the ad link.

Loves Data provides a solid overview of GA’s Site Search reports if you want to explore them even further.

Events

A user clicks a button. Then they download a file. Next they watch a video.

No, this isn’t the world’s most boring bedtime story — it’s an example of a GA event. Three events, to be specific.

GA defines events as, “user interactions with content that can be measured independently from a web page or a screen load.”

Those user interactions are up to you; you’ll need to add special code to your site or app that tracks the specific actions you’re interested in. Here are the instructions.

If you’re not excited about events tracking already, I want you to get excited. There are infinite possibilities here: if you have an event set up for watching a product demo, and another for clicking a link to an external review of your tool, you can measure how many times each event happened.

Maybe you discover your video isn’t getting many plays. It’s probably time to optimize the current video, make it easier to find on your site, or create a new one. Or perhaps you see that way more users than you expected are checking out the third-party review of your product.

That tells you users want more social proof and testimonials. Since the review is favorable, you might want to put it front and center on your site.

Top Events

This report tracks the events taking place most frequently — pretty straightforward. You’ll see total events (e.g. how many times that event happened) and unique events (how many sessions included one or more occurrences of that event).

If you’ve set values for your events, this report also shows you how the total value of each event and its average value (or the total value divided by the frequency.)

Pages

In this report, you can see which pages generate the most actions. I typically add “Event Category” as the secondary dimension, then filter for the event I’m most interested in.

To give you an idea, my team tracks “Blog CTA.” This event fires whenever a user clicks a CTA embedded in a blog post. To get to the report below, I added “Event Category” as the second dimension, then filtered for “Page begins with blog.hubspot.com” (so I’d only see URLs on the blog) and “Event Category equals Blog CTA.”

Now I can see which posts generate the most CTA clicks. Hopefully, you’re starting to see the power of event tracking!

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports for pages

Events Flow

The Events Flow report tracks the order in which events take place on your site. It can tell you:

A. Whether particular events tend to happen first — and if they trigger other events

To give you an idea, maybe users frequently watch your demo video, then click the CTA to schedule a call with a salesperson.

B. Whether certain event categories are more common than others

Imagine you see that videos are played far more often than PDFs are downloaded.

C. Whether users act differently based on segment

For example, perhaps people coming in via organic scroll to the bottom of your pricing page far more than people coming in via social media.

Note:This report is very subject to sampling. (Read more about GA’s data sampling practices here.) Sampled data is usually pretty accurate, but it means the more important the conclusion you’re drawing, the less uncertainty you’ll be able to tolerate.

To reduce the level of sampling, make the date range smaller.

Publisher

If you monetize your website with Google AdSense or Ad Exchange, you can use the Ad Manager and Google Analytics integration to bring information on how your ad units are performing into GA.

I won’t go into any more detail here, but I recommend reading the following resources if you want to know more:

5. Google Analytics Conversion Reports

Google Analytics Conversion Reports

If you have a website, you have an objective — probably several — for the people who visit your site.

Ecommerce store owners want their visitors to subscribe to their mailing list, make a user account, add something to their cart, and/or complete the order confirmation process.

Media companies want their visitors to stay on their site for as long as possible and/or view a certain number of pages (all the better to maximize their ad revenue.)

B2B businesses want their visitors to download an ebook, sign up for a webinar, or book a call with a sales rep.

Google Analytics makes it possible to measure all of these things — plus many more.

A goal is essentially a conversion that you’ve defined (which is why this info shows up under the Conversion section.)

There are four main types of goals:

  • Destination: This goal is completed when a user reaches a specific page, like a product page, order confirmation page, or thank you page
  • Event: This goal is completed when a predefined event fires (like the Events you can set up as, well, Events — think watching a video or sharing something to social media)
  • Duration: This goal is completed when a user’s session lasts longer than a pre-set time
  • Pages/screens per session: This goal is completed when a user views a specific number of pages (or screens for an app) per session

Once you’ve identified your goals, take a look at these instructions for creating, editing, and sharing them. This guide on choosing goal values is also quite helpful.

Overview

Head here to learn how you’re doing goal-wise across the board. I get the most from this report when I compare date ranges and/or look at goal completions by segment.

For example, quickly looking at goal completions by device reveals mobile visitors sign up for the blog newsletter much less frequently than desktop and tablet visitors. That could be because it’s hard to sign up for the newsletter on a phone — or it could be mobile users are looking for one thing and ending their session as soon as they’ve found it. I should dig in more to decide which case it is.

Goal URLs

Knowing a goal was completed isn’t helpful in and of itself; you also need to know where it happened. Suppose you’ve embedded the same form in three separate pages on your site.

It’s great that Daenerys Stark from Dragonstone, Blackwater Bay just filled out your form to get in touch with a consultant, but which page did she fill it out on?

The Goal URLs report shows you. It breaks down conversions by “Goal Completion URL” (read: where it went down.)

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports for goal urls

Reverse Goal Path

Reverse Goal Path is the unsung hero of the Conversion section. Well, I’m singing its praises now. This report allows you to see the last three pages a user visited before completing the goal.

It’s useful for goals that aren’t sequential. Maybe you have a contact form that appears in multiple places on your site, or there are two different paths that lead users into buying your ebook. Thanks to this report, you can understand the various ways people arrive at the end destination — and there’s no need to set up a funnel.

I usually filter down to a specific goal completion location or goal previous step 1, 2, or 3.

For example, since I’m interested in seeing which blog posts generated leads from content downloads, I added “Goal Previous Step – 1 containing blog.hubspot.com” to the filter.

Google Analytics Conversion Reports: Reverse goal path

Here’s what I got:

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports for reverse goal path

“(Entrance)” means the user came to the site on that step; “(not set)” means the user didn’t complete any steps prior to that one — because they weren’t on the website yet.

For a comprehensive exploration of Reverse Goal Path, take a look at OnlineMetrics’s guide.

Funnel Visualization

For sequential goals, Funnel Visualization is your go-to report.

Going back to the ecommerce example, the last goal would be “Arrived at the order confirmation page.” The goal before that, or goal #3, would be “Clicked checkout.” The goal before that, goal #2, would be “Added something to cart.” And the goal before that, goal #1, would be “Looked at product listing page.”

At each stage, you can see user drop-off. That lets you identify areas where you can improve conversion rates; for example, maybe you lose a lot of users during the checkout process. You change the flow so they can check out as a guest (versus needing to create an account), which dramatically reduces checkout abandonment.

To see this level of detail, you’ll need to map out your goals as a series. If all of your goals are simply the end objective, like “Arrived at the order confirmation page,” you won’t be able to reverse-engineer how users progress.

The Funnel Visualization report also requires you to mark the first step in the goal path as required or not. If you tell GA that yes, the first goal needs to be completed, Funnel Visualization will only show you the sessions where the user first finished goal #1. If a user skips goal #1 and goes straight to goal #2, their session won’t be represented here.

Goal Flow

If Funnel Visualization is the uptight relative who always made you take your elbows off the table and wash your hands before you ate, Goal Flow is the laid-back, fun relative who’d randomly take you out of school to go to the zoo.

All that to say: Goal Flow gives you a lot more freedom than Funnel Visualization. Unlike the latter, Goal Flow shows you all sessions that led to the completed end goal — regardless of whether the user completed the required goal #1 or not.

Another difference from Funnel Visualization: Goal Flow also shows you loopbacks — i.e. when a user goes back to a previous page or refreshes their current one.

If the user skips a step, Funnel Visualization “backfils” it. Goal Flow doesn’t.

If you edit an existing funnel or create a new one, Funnel Visualization will show you all your data from that moment onward. Goal Flow, on the other hand, can show you data from the past.

You can also toggle the Dimension and Level of detail of the report, as well as the segment, to get even more granular.

I recommend looking at various segments to see which convert at the highest and lowest rates — plus where they commonly drop out.

google analytics goal flow

Note: This report is subject to sampling. (Read more about GA’s data sampling practices here.) Sampled data is usually pretty accurate, but it means the more important the conclusion you’re drawing, the less uncertainty you’ll be able to tolerate.

To reduce the level of sampling, make the date range smaller.

Smart Goals

This report is helpful if you’re A) using Google Ads and B) not measuring conversions. Basically, Google uses machine learning to identify your “best” sessions — or those likeliest to generate conversions — and then translates those themes into Smart Goals.

Once you have Smart Goals, you can use them in Google Ads to optimize your ads performance.

Smart Goals are controversial within the marketing community because the data is minimal and businesses will be far better served by setting up their own conversion tracking. Keep that in mind if you decide to use them.

GA4 Tools

Although many of the tools, reports, and features of GA4 are similar to those from Universal Analytics listed above, there are some key differences we’ll address in this section.

1. Home

GA4 Tools: Home

The Home tab is a customizable dashboard of reports, stats, and other figures. You can adjust what you see in the Home tab so that you see a snapshot of the overall performance of your website.

In the example below, we can see users, new users, active engagement time, and total revenue because these metrics are most important for my site.

GA4 Tools: Home real-time report

2. Reports

GA4 Tools: Reports

The Reports tab shows the Reports Snapshot first which includes the same information from the Home tab in this example.

GA4 Tools: Realtime snapshot

You can also switch to other reports listed below:

  • Reports Snapshot
  • Realtime
  • Life Cycle
  • User

3. Explore

GA4 Tools: Explorations

Explorations in Google Analytics let you look into the ways your visitors navigate your site to discover new pages and content. There are several preset explorations you can activate, or you can create a new one from scratch.

4. Advertising

GA4 Tools: Advertising

When you click on the Advertising tab, you’ll start on the Advertising snapshot screen. Here, you’ll see the channels and touchpoints that drive the most conversions on your site. In order for this tab to be most helpful, you’ll need to set up goals and conversions in Google Analytics.

GA4 Tools: Advertising Snapshot

5. Configure

The Configure tab is where you’ll set up key pieces of your reports including events, conversions, audiences, and other custom definitions. As you get more familiar with your Google Analytics instance and the data you want to see, you can configure these settings to get a granular look into your data. This will allow you to solve problems, answer questions, and make decisions that are specific to your site and the outcomes you want to achieve from it.

GA4 Tools: Configure

Now You’re Ready to Track

Google Analytics is a highly valuable tool for any business as it gives you tangible data that you can apply to grow your business. Bookmark this guide and come back to it as your data tracking becomes more sophisticated.

Good luck on your Google Analytics journey.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August, 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

seo audit

Web Forms: The Ultimate Guide

Are you one of the 266 million people who shopped online in the U.S. last year? If yes, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with web forms.

Not only do you use web forms to receive information, goods, and services from online stores, but they’re also crucial for the businesses that create them and embed them on their sites.

Convert anonymous visitors into leads. Try HubSpot Forms free.

Marketers use web forms for a number of reasons — to complete an order, keep track of a customer’s personal information, or collect lead information.

And web forms can have a powerful impact on a business. 28% of marketers say the right form fields help improve lead scoring, which means more qualified leads. According to Venture Harbor, a well-designed multi-step form converted 53% of site visitors to leads.

Web forms also help businesses increase conversions by taking potential customers through the lead flow process. This happens when a person visits your site and submits their information in return for something (such as a product, service, or free trial). Once a lead submits their web form it’s sent to a server for processing.

Web forms vary in length, format, content type, and appearance — there’s no “one size fits all.” They should simply fit your business’s needs and help you gather the information you want from your leads.

This also means there’s no single way to create a web form. We will review several tools to create web forms later on, but first, let’s dive into why you should create web forms.

Why Should I Create Web Forms?

Web forms allow you to collect and manage information easily and efficiently. They’re embedded right into your website, which makes it easy for your leads to share their information. Once a lead completes a form on your website, their information is stored until it’s ready for analysis. Web forms are crucial tools for businesses to obtain the information they need from their potential customers.

Use Cases for Web Forms

There are several ways that you can use web forms, such as:

  • Collect contact information
  • Gather shipping information
  • Survey your customers

They can help you get any information you need from your leads and keep it to analyze or manage in any way you see fit.

We will talk about the various types of web forms below, which will give you a better idea of specific use cases and which forms would fit best in certain instances.

Let’s discuss how to build a web form. As you follow the steps below, think about what information you really need from your leads.

If your web form doesn’t make sense to your leads — if it’s complicated or asks for too much information — potential leads may lose interest and leave your site. Consider how much the offer at the end of the form is worth and adjust your web form accordingly.

Creating a web form starts with determining its purpose.

1. Make the purpose of your form clear.

It’s crucial to make the purpose of your web form clear. Your leads should know exactly what your web form is for and why they are completing it. Here are a few ways to do this.

Include straightforward headers.

Straightforward headers let your leads know exactly how to complete your form. Headers help avoid confusion and ensure your leads spend the minimum required time on your form.

“What is a web form?” is answered by this example from Linktree.

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Examples of straightforward headers include:

  • “Contact Us”
  • “First Name”
  • “Preferred Method of Contact”

Give clear instructions.

Clearly communicate what you need from your leads using the fewest words possible.

Web forms examples: Preply

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At the top of your form, include a sentence or two about what you’re going to ask from your leads. You can also include a short statement about why you need that information to remain transparent with your leads.

For example, always state the purpose of your form fields. They could say something like, “This web form will be used to get some more information about you so we can tailor our newsletter content towards your background, experiences, and interests.”

By ensuring your web form’s purpose is clear, you build credibility and trust between your business and lead.

Consider the appearance of your form.

By keeping your form organized, attractive, and clean, you’ll also give your leads an easy end-to-end experience.

Nobody wants to waste time reading long paragraphs of text to find what they’re looking for and cluttered text looks unprofessional.

With a well-designed form, your leads will know in seconds whether you took the time to thoughtfully create your form.

Why should you improve web form usability?

  • You create a simple transaction.
  • You will build trust.
  • You will appear more professional.
  • You will increase conversions.

Letting your visitors know exactly which form they need to complete and why you’re asking specific questions makes them more likely to engage. Whether it’s a shipping form, a sign-up form, a survey, or a quiz, you want your visitor’s experience to be easy.

When you visit another company’s website that’s designed in a way that screams “customer first,” you’re likely to feel that the business is professional and thoughtful. The same goes for web forms.

When you increase web form usability and create a positive user experience, your business will pull in more conversions. For example, according to HubSpot research, decreasing the number of form fields can increase conversion rates.

If you make your form easy to use, clear, and visually pleasing, your leads will want to complete it and become customers.

By improving your web form usability and prioritizing the design and context of your form, you’ll enhance user experience. This will get website visitors excited about completing your form and converting.

2. Choose your web form type.

The purpose of your web form informs what type you should use, as well as which questions to ask and how you should format your responses.

Here are some common types of web forms to consider. (We will review examples of each of these types of web forms shortly.)

Contact Form

Contact forms let your leads ask your business a question, voice a concern, or even explain their need for a refund. These web forms typically contain fields that require leads to list their name, contact information, and order number. They may also have a drop-down or text-entry field for leads to explain their reason for reaching out and their preferred method of contact.

Lead Generation Form

These web forms convert your website visitors into leads. They typically require personal information, such as a name, company, email address, phone number, and sometimes a username and password for return visits to the site.

Order Form

Order forms do exactly what you’d expect them to do — they allow your website visitors to place orders. They also give customers a way to pay for items and have the products they have ordered sent directly. Order forms may include multiple steps as they often require a credit card, shipping and billing information, and your contact information.

Registration Form

A lead will complete a registration web form if they want to sign up for your service. This is common on sites such as Craigslist, Ebates, and eBay. If a lead was looking to list an item on one of these sites, they would complete a registration form to create an account and then post the item.

Survey Form

Survey web forms may include multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and long-form responses. They help you learn more about your customer’s experiences with your products and services. They also help you improve future interactions with your customers, as well as educate leads about the ways in which your business can help them.

3. Add your form fields.

Think about what responses you need from your leads when you begin creating your form fields.

Start with the answers you’ll need. Then you’ll be able to decide how to title your form fields, what questions to ask, and which types of fields you actually need your visitors to complete.

Regardless of what you’re asking your visitors, you should always require their basic contact information (like name and email address) so you can identify individual submissions.

Next, choose the right software to create your web form.

In HubSpot, drag-and-drop features make it easy to build your form however you want. Form fields are predefined. This means you have several options to pick from and add to your form.

Web form instructions: HubSpot, Select form type

Once you choose your web form template, review the predefined form fields and begin creating your form.

Web form instructions: HubSpot, Customize your web forms

If you are asking your leads questions that need detailed answers, you can create short or long-text entry fields that accept one sentence up to a paragraph or two.

Web form instructions: HubSpot, Add extra or custom fields

There are also several other field-entry types for you to include in your forms including:

  • Multiple choice
  • Drop-down menus
  • Checkboxes
  • Radio buttons

4. Embed your web form on your website.

Once you create your web form, it’s time to publish your form and embed it on your website. This is how your website visitors will access your form. Start by determining where you want your form located on your website.

Decide where to embed your form.

Determine which page of your website should include the web form. Some common questions to ask include:

  • Do you want your email sign-up located at the bottom of your main landing page?
  • If you have a contact form, is there a page on your website solely meant for visitors who want to contact you?
  • And if someone purchases an item, do you have your web forms in an order that makes sense (first shipping, then billing and payment)?

How to Embed Your Form

To embed your form, copy and paste the form’s code into the desired location on your site.

Web form instructions: HubSpot, Embed and publish

Once you embed and publish your web forms, website visitors can start completing and submitting forms. Next, you’ll begin receiving data about your leads that will be crucial for maintaining a healthy business.

If you are using a website creator or external website, you can still embed your code from HubSpot’s form builder into your site’s source code (the collection of code used to build your website).

5. Make your web form secure.

Data protection has become a top priority for businesses and consumers alike. A secure web form makes sure that you’re protecting your leads’ data. This will result in more submissions. With HubSpot’s form builder, creating a secure form for both your business and your leads is easy.

The form builder stops spam submissions from coming through with an email address validation process. This ensures only real email addresses can be submitted in your web forms.

HubSpot also allows people to add CAPTCHAs, which are the questions at the end of a form that require people to confirm they’re not a robot. These act as a second layer of protection against spam.

Web form instructions: HubSpot, CAPTCHA

Lastly, HubSpot allows you to block specific email providers and domains that you determine are unnecessary to receive submissions from.

6. Test your web form and analyze your results.

Once you create your web form and embed it on your website, run some analytics and make sure it works. Think about things from your visitor’s point of view. Do they have enough space to respond to a question in the short-text entry field? If not, try switching over to the long-text entry field and see how their responses change.

If you receive the same feedback repeatedly from your website visitors, try altering the form or adding different form fields to improve the experience for your leads.

Your customers and leads should be your top priority when it comes to all of your marketing tactics, including your web forms.

If you set up email notifications on your web form creator software, you should double-check that these are working as well.

You can do this by going to the web form on your website, completing it as a lead would, and making sure you receive an email notification about the completed form. If it doesn’t work, try working through the email notification set-up again.

Congrats! You have just completed the creation of your web form. Now, let’s review some design tips that will enhance the user experience of your web form.

Web Form Design Tips

When creating and reviewing your web form, consider some of the following design tips. These will make your form easy to use, effective, and helpful for both your business and your leads.

Be direct.

By keeping your web form as direct as possible, you make the experience better for your leads. You will also avoid any possible confusion. To be more direct, you can create a web form header, use clear form field titles, place your web form in a location on your website that makes sense, and remove non-essential wording.

Use correct form fields.

Use form fields that make sense to your leads and give you the answers you’re looking for. If your leads need to give you that information in paragraph format, then include long-text entry fields. If they only need to write a few words or a sentence, include short-entry fields. For something like a survey, add multiple choice responses, and for any questions that could have several answers, use checkboxes or radio buttons.

Use input constraints.

Consider using input constraints for specific form fields. For example, if you know you only need one sentence in your short-entry form field, add a constraint that ensures your lead can only type in one sentence. This will save time for your lead and the form reviewer.

Add a form submit button.

Web forms examples: Oura

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By adding a form “Submit” button, your website visitors will be able to complete the web form and send it to the server without any hesitation or confusion. It will also make them feel confident that you and your fellow employees will receive their submissions and listen to whatever it is they have to say.

Organize your form.

If you have a long and detailed web form, make it easy to read and complete for your leads by keeping everything in one column. The only time you’ll want to keep form fields on the same line is when it makes sense to the reader.

For example, keep information like the date (day, month, and year) on one line. By keeping all other form fields in a single column, you’ll avoid your lead feeling overwhelmed or bombarded by questions.

Make your form visually appealing.

Did you know that it takes an average of 50 milliseconds for a website visitor to look at your website’s landing page and decide if they want to stay?

Web forms examples: Tailwind

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Web form first impressions matter, too. Keep these design tips in mind as you create your web forms:

  • Brand your forms to make them look professional
  • Match your company’s aesthetic to ensure consistency and promote a polished look
  • Consider colors, text font and size, and layout
  • Keep things clean and organized

Use smart fields.

Imagine you already have an account on a website and you are completing a different web form on that same site. If that form field asks you some of the same questions that a previous web form asked, wouldn’t you feel as though you are wasting your time?

Smart fields are a great feature to keep your leads from having to do any unnecessary work. HubSpot uses smart fields to remove form fields that a customer or lead has previously submitted. Smart fields make your business and website appear more professional by providing a smooth process for your leads or customers. They also remove the frustration of filling out the same information multiple times.

Use smart defaults.

Have you ever started completing a web form that automatically filled in your zip code based on your current location? That’s a smart default. This feature also speeds up the web form completion process and creates a seamless user experience.

Include error messages.

When a lead is completing your web form, you should tell them whether or not they are doing it correctly. Include error messages if they accidentally enter an area code that doesn’t exist, add their state to the “Town” field, or are exceeding the character limit.

Again, this not only saves time for your leads but also keeps things simple when you need to review the submitted content.

Use these tips to create error messages that make sense to your customers.

Explain why you are asking for specific content.

Imagine you were completing a web form on another business’s website and you notice a question that asks for your credit card information when you aren’t buying anything. You might find yourself thinking, “Well, this is sketchy.” or “Am I going to be charged for something without even knowing it?”

This is an easy way to lose a lead or compromise your credibility.

To avoid this, include information on your web form that explains why you’re asking for specific information. By anticipating questions your leads may have, you will come off as professional, thoughtful, and customer-oriented.

Web Form Examples

Examples are a great way to get inspired and improve your own marketing practices. Here are some examples that show each of the five web form categories mentioned above.

Contact Web Forms

Sun Bum

Web forms examples: Sun Bum

Sun Bum has a contact form on its website that enhances user experience. The form is on a contact landing page. They even have a unique name for their contact form, “Ask The Bum,” that meshes with their brand and resonates with users.

Why we like web forms like this one: It looks clean and organized, and the form fields make sense for the form’s purpose. Users are able to select the reason why they are contacting Sun Bum and how they want to be contacted. Then they can enter their contact information, select a topic, and write the company a message. The tone of the copy on the form also reminds users that they are talking to a company that has a personality.

Preserve

Web forms examples: Preserve form, step one

The contact experience at Preserve starts with an easy-to-scan page that helps users figure out what topic their question falls under so that their question goes to the right person. The simple icons and clear direct copy help users understand the size and focus of the company.

Web forms examples: Preserve form, step two

After you click on a topic, their web form pops up. It’s also quick to scan and complete, whether you have a quick request or need to ask a more complicated question.

Why we like this web form: The use of multiple web forms allows customers to take things one step at a time. The two-step process also shows users that giving customers the right answer quickly is important. This web form also sets clear expectations by highlighting the main topics for questions and copy that talks about the availability of their small team.

Lead Generation Web Forms

Help Scout

Web forms examples: Help Scout

Help Scout has a lead generation form on their site that allows leads to quickly create an account. The web form header states what the form is for and only requires a few pieces of personal information (company, name, password, and work email) to create an account.

Why we like this web form: This Help Scout web form has a nice layout for users and keeps all fields contained in a box. The layout of the form fields makes sense as well — the fields for a lead’s first and last name are side-by-side and the rest is in a column format, which helps visitors work through the form step-by-step.

Cambio & Co.

Web forms examples: Cambio & Co.

This lead generation form stands out with an engaging headline, a striking image, and a quick outline of two offers. The first offer reinforces their brand story and gives users a chance to connect and the second is an enticing discount.

Why we like web forms like this one: This popup web form packs a lot of value into a single form. The copy is succinct but useful, and it only requires a single form field, email address, to get started.

Order Forms

Seventh Generation

Web forms examples: Seventh Generation

There are a lot of different places where customers can buy Seventh Generation products. So, for example, when you search for a product like glass cleaner online, you might be looking for a local store where you can buy that cleaner or you might want to buy it and have it shipped. This web form anticipates multiple user needs and puts them all in one simple form.

Why we like this web form: This form is clear and easy to understand. It gives you a chance to choose different sizes and versions of their product and offers a range of locations both in-person and online to make a purchase.

Starbucks

Web forms examples: Starbucks

Starbucks has an online order web form that customers complete when they want to send a gift card. The first step is a selection of bright images that represent the wide range of gift cards that Starbucks offers. After clicking on a gift card, customers fill in the blank short-text entry form fields for gift card amount, recipient, sender, and an optional message.

Once that information is submitted, users can sign in to their online account or complete the form as a guest. Then they’ll add or update their billing information.

Why we like web forms like this one: This process is clear and makes what could be a complicated process feel quick and easy. The web form design and form fields are straightforward. They have clear headings and state why Starbucks needs certain information like the customer’s email and the recipient’s email.

Registration Forms

Airbnb

Web forms examples: Airbnb

When someone wants to list their home on Airbnb, they first need to register for an account. Airbnb has simple registration web forms that get hosts excited about listing their space on the site — allowing potential hosts to discover how much money they could make through their listing. Who wouldn’t want to make an extra $4,000+ per month?

Why we like this web form: Airbnb takes its potential hosts through several web forms and allows them to work through the process at their own pace. The web forms are also visually pleasing and match the company’s look and style. The continue and submit buttons are also in a bold color that stands out on the page whether the form is on a desktop or mobile device.

Fill More Waste Less

Web forms examples: Fill More Waste Less

It’s easy to register for updates from a company you love. But it’s even better when you know the value you’ll get when you sign up. Fill More Waste Less reduces waste by offering refillable items like detergent, hairspray, and shampoo for eco-conscious customers. This web form gives those customers a chance to suggest new products for refills.

Why we like web forms like this one: It’s tough to write a call-to-action that clearly communicates an offer, while also motivating signups. This form has just two fields and is quick to scan. This makes new site visitors who don’t find what they’re looking for more likely to submit their requests.

Survey Web Forms

WebMD

Web forms examples: WebMD

WebMD has a symptom survey that allows website visitors to self-diagnose through a series of questions. The survey includes several web forms with various form fields. The final web form submission takes patients to a landing page that includes a possible diagnosis.

Why we like web forms like this one: These web forms are an efficient and effective way for patients to get the answers they are looking for. The form uses both visual aids and checklists to streamline the process of connecting symptoms to possible conditions and treatments.

Avocado Green Mattress

Web forms examples: Avocado Green Mattress

The process of choosing a mattress has a lot of variables. This can make it difficult to narrow down choices. This form uses lighthearted and thoughtful copy to steer shoppers toward the right mattress.

Why we like this web form: The design and text are well-designed and quick to scan. At the same time, the questions and responses go into enough detail to make this quiz worth filling out. This web form survey also gives this company a chance to highlight its unique selling points.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out these web form and feedback form examples.

We’ve reviewed how you can create your own web forms and examples you can learn from. Now let’s review some tools and programs that can help you build the web forms you need.

Web Form Tools and Software Programs

There are many online form creators and software programs that businesses can use to get information from their leads. Some form builders are free, some need a subscription fee, and some have features that work for different types of forms and businesses.

HubSpot

Web form tools: HubSpot

HubSpot’s form builder has easy to use drag-and-drop features that allow you to efficiently create, embed, and publish your ideal form. One feature that is unique to HubSpot’s form builder is that it uses progressive profiling.

Progressive fields prevent anyone from having to complete the same form fields multiple times. This helps you make sure your business isn’t getting duplicate responses. It keeps things as simple and professional as possible for both the lead and the business using the form builder.

JotForm

Web form tools: JotForm

JotForm is an easy-to-use web form software. It’s a free online form builder that allows businesses to not only create and embed their web forms but also receive notifications through email whenever they complete a form. With JotForm, anyone can create their desired, customized web forms in a matter of minutes.

Formstack

Web form tools: Formstack

Formstack allows businesses to build their web forms, track them, and use conversion tools to analyze data received through the forms. Companies are able to brand their forms and integrate them with other apps they may be using to control their workflows (such as MailChimp, Google Sheets, PayPal, or Hubspot).

WPForms

Web form tools: WPForms

WPForms is the WordPress contact form plugin. This plugin has a drag-and-drop feature that easily moves your contact form from the plugin to your website, making it one of the most straightforward contact form builders available.

With multiple contact form templates to choose from, businesses can create a form that works for their needs. The plugin also notifies you when a lead completes your form, has a mobile-friendly design, and integrates with many other apps.

Drupal

Web form tools: Drupal

Drupal is an open-source CMS (content management system) that has a web form creator module called Webform. The module allows Drupal users to create surveys and forms and manage the results on a spreadsheet application. The module also has basic statistical review features so businesses can keep track of what is working and what they need to modify.

Typeform

Web form tools: Typeform

Typeform allows businesses to create forms, surveys, quizzes, and more for their websites. The software also has a sophisticated way of keeping track of data and results from all forms across a given site. These web forms are not only easy to create but they can be quickly embedded and are compatible with all devices.

Create Your Own Web Form

Web form tools: HTML

You can also create your own web forms using HTML, CSS, Php, or Javascript.

Create Great Web Forms

Web forms will help you track online leads, follow up with clients and potential customers, and learn more about your buyer personas. They enhance user experience and offer your leads the information, services, and products they’re searching for.

So, why not get started creating web forms that’ll help you grow your business and expand your network today?

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

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33 Emerging Technology Stats to Know in 2022

Many major emerging technologies in artificial and virtual reality are becoming more accessible, but are they worth investing in? 

In this post, I’ve gathered TK stats related to emerging technologies and the impacts and potential impacts they can have on marketing and marketers in the near future. 

Download Now: HubSpot's Annual State of Marketing Report

Augmented and Virtual Reality

For years, researchers have said that virtual reality, which gives viewers an immersive and interactive 360-degree virtual experience, will hold the best opportunities for gaming, entertainment, and academic industries.

Experts have also thought that augmented reality, a partially immersive but still interactive experience, will thrive in the world of branding and marketing.

We have already seen some of these predictions come true, but both still have significant potential. Here are 16 stats that demonstrate the growth and opportunities of AR and VR.

  • Consumer and enterprise virtual reality market revenue is expected to reach $6.71 billion by the end of 2022 and $12.9 billion by 2024. (Statista)
  • Augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality market size worldwide is expected to jump by more than 220 billion USD between 2021 and 2028. (Statista)
  • 101.6 million people in the US will use AR in 2022. (eMarketer)
  • 39% of media planners who use NFTs say they have the best ROI of any channel in their media mix. (HubSpot Blog)
  • In a recent study, 33% of survey respondents understand the concept of the metaverse, 37% have heard of it but aren’t sure what it means, and 30% aren’t sure at all. (GlobalWebIndex)
  • Over half of consumers are interested in participating in the metaverse, and 1 in 3 who haven’t heard of it still say they want to be involved.(GlobalWebIndex)
  • It’s estimated that, by the end of 2022, virtual reality hardware and software sales will generate more than 6.4 billion USD in revenue. (Statista)
  • 54% of people visit the metaverse to play games, 46% visit to virtually hang out with online friends, and 43% visit to virtually hang out with in-person friends. (HubSpot Blog)
  • 36% of consumers interested in participating in the metaverse worry about how companies will use their personal data online. (GlobalWebIndex)
  • Over the next five years, Gartner predicts that one in four people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse. (Gartner)
  • Over the next five years, 30% of businesses will have some sort of product or service available in the metaverse. (Gartner)
  • Over 1 in 5 people aged 24-54 are invested in crypto. (HubSpot Blog)
  • People ages 18-24 are likely to buy NFTs to join a community. (HubSpot Blog)
  • Deloitte’s 2021 Global Blockchain Survey found that 80% of participants say their industries will see new revenue streams from blockchain, digital assets, and/or cryptocurrency solutions. (Deloitte)
  • Over 250 million Snapchatters use an AR feature on the app every single day. (Modern Retail)
  • Creators on Snapchat have built over 2.5 million AR Lenses. (Modern Retail)

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is so prevalent in 2022 that many of us don’t even notice all the ways we interact with iton a given day. If you’re less familiar with AI, here are eight stats to keep in mind:

  • Gartner forecasts that the worldwide artificial intelligence software market will reach $62 billion by the end of 2022. (Gartner)
  • The business value of AI will reach $5.1 billion by 2025. (Gartner)
  • 52% of marketers prioritize implementing marketing automation platforms to enhance their marketing efforts. (Demand Gen Report)
  • 17% of marketers currently use automation or artificial intelligence as part of their marketing strategy. (HubSpot Blog)
  • 1 in 5 consumers uses live chat or in-app chat daily. (Vonage)
  • 71% of consumers say they would be happy to use a chatbot if it meant an improved customer experience. (Conversocial)
  • A Drift survey reported that 54.8% of B2B professionals across various industries say they receive a greater volume of high-quality leads with chatbot tools. (Drift)
  • 61% of people globally believe that automation could put people’s jobs at risk. (PWC)

Voice Assistants and Smart Speakers

While voice assistants are technically a segment of AI, they’ve become so prominent in the emerging media world that they deserve their own section of stats.

  • Statista predicts that the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units by 2024, which is higher than the world’s total population. (Statista)
  • The total number of Amazon Echo users is more than double that of Google Home. (eMarketer)
  • 123.5 million adults in the US will use voice assistants at least once per month. (eMarketer)
  • Almost all voice assistant users use the technology on a smartphone. (eMarketer)
  • By 2023, digital voice ecommerce is expected to triple to an $80 billion industry. (Juniper Research)

Smart Devices and Appliances

Smart appliances and devices have significant potential to impact marketing. Although the space is still young, it’s providing interesting opportunities to bigger brands. 

As you can imagine, devices like smart TVs could provide great potential for content marketing and branded media. However, a more unique example of an appliance that could provide brand potential is a smart refrigerator.

“I’m excited to see how a smart fridge that can tell me when my avocados are about to spoil can be leveraged by a brand to give me information that might serve me in that particular information, says Amanda Zantal-Wiener, a senior content strategist who creates content for HubSpot that covers news and trends.

But, Zantal-Weiner’s excitement doesn’t end at smart-home appliances — she’s also fascinated by the world of smart cars.

“Until we start to see self-driving cars on the road, the idea of connected cars can also be used to help me do more than mindlessly scroll through my phone when I’m using a ride-hailing service, by serving as a distribution channel for real-time, relevant information during that trip. Everything is connected, and I’m excited to see which brands are able to adapt to that earlier on in a way that actually helps customers,” Zantal-Wiener explains.

Here are four key stats that highlight why you should keep these technologies on your radar.

  • Smart home appliance user growth will more than double between 2020 and 2025, from 30.6 million to 64 million. (eMarketer)
  • Smart TVs are the most popular smart home devices. (Statista)
  • The average cost of a smart-home device is expected to drop by 52% by 2023 (Juniper Research)
  • The percentage of US internet users using a smart appliance will increase to 21% by 2025. (eMarketer)

Navigating the Future of Marketing

Yes, creating voice assistant skills, leveraging AI, and building branded AR/VR experiences might be pretty inaccessible and costly to your company right now.

But, if you want to continue to innovate your brand or be a competitive marketer in the far future, you’ll want to keep up with how technology and marketing possibilities are evolving — you’ll be more prepared to adopt new technologies when they are accessible in the future.

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