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What Is a White Paper? [FAQs]

The definition of a whitepaper varies heavily from industry to industry, which can be a little confusing for marketers looking to create one for their business.

The old-school definition comes from politics, where it means a legislative document explaining and supporting a particular political solution.

In tech, a whitepaper usually describes a theory behind a new piece of technology. Even a business whitepaper can serve a variety of uses and audiences — some more product-focused than others. And although it is put together like an ebook, the two are written quite differently.

→ Download Now: 36 Free Ebook Templates

We’re here to arm you with the best definition of a whitepaper in the context of business and what to do (and not do) as you create one. This article covers: 

What Is a Whitepaper?

A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution.

Marketers create whitepapers to educate their audience about a particular issue, or explain and promote a particular methodology. They’re advanced problem-solving guides. Typically, whitepapers require at least an email address for download (usually they require information more than that), making them great for capturing leads.

What Isn’t a Whitepaper?

A product pitch.

Although Investopedia defines a whitepaper as “an informational document issued by a company to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service,” be warned that overtly shilling your own stuff could turn off your readers.

The goal of a whitepaper is to inform and persuade based on facts and evidence, not tell the world why people need to buy your product right now.

How Are Whitepapers Different From Blog Posts and Ebooks?

Speaking of what a whitepaper isn’t … if you’re looking for a quick and interactive way to present your value to the industry, a whitepaper is not your only option. There are also ebooks and blog posts — both of which have various differences from a whitepaper.

What really set these products apart are the size, appearance, and time commitment of each one. Whereas writing blog posts and ebooks can take anywhere between a few hours and a few weeks, a good whitepaper can take between a few weeks and a few months to write and polish. They’re less flashy, much more serious in tone, and more heavily researched than blog posts and ebooks.

Let me show you a comparison. The set below is one of our own ebook templates (which you can get for free here). It’s a thorough but simple read:

Cover of a free ebook template offered by HubSpot  Page from a free ebook template offered by HubSpot

Now, here is a whitepaper based on our latest research on emerging tech for small to mid-sized businesses (a great report — see the web version here). You can see how much detail whitepapers can go into, both in text and in its images:

hubspot research whitepaper cover that reads: "a practical approach to emerging tech for smbs"   hubspot research whitepaper internal page that is about why blockchain mattersImages via HubSpot Research [PDF]

Ebooks and whitepapers can start on the same template. But ultimately, whitepapers are the academic papers of marketing content. Readers expect a high degree of expertise backed by solid research that is fully documented by references.

Ebooks, on the other hand, are often extensions of a subject you cover regularly on a blog. They can come out of diligent research, but they appeal to a wider audience when unpacking a business subject.

You can imagine this makes them kind of boring in comparison — truthfully, most people don’t actually want to read whitepapers, but they do it anyway to build their knowledge of an operation they need more insight on before making their next move.

For this reason, they tend to be particularly detailed and informative, authoritative, and written by industry experts. And these qualities can make some decision makers feel better about a future purchase.

What Makes a Good Whitepaper?

Technically, there are no minimum requirements for whitepapers. Anyone can call anything a whitepaper — this doesn’t mean you should, though. Without some boundaries on what is and what isn’t a whitepaper, we risk confusing our audience and losing credibility. Here’s what an A+ whitepaper looks like:

  • Length: No fewer than six pages, including illustrations, charts, and references. Can be upwards of 50 if the topic requires that much detail. (Chances are, it won’t.)
  • Structure: There is usually a title page, table of contents, short executive summary (optional but helpful), introduction, several pages educating the reader about the problem, several pages hypothesizing a solution, several pages offering an example of a company that used that solution to achieve results, and a conclusion.
  • Density: Denser than an ebook. Whitepapers aren’t usually easy to skim — in fact, readers usually need to read them over more than once to get every morsel of information out of it.
  • Format: PDF in portrait orientation (8.5″ by 11″).
  • Style: Professional, serious, well written, and well edited. I’d recommend hiring a graphic designer to design page layout, images, fonts, and colors as well.

Whitepaper Examples for Lead Generation

So, if whitepapers are so boring, why do marketers create them? Well, they’re a great resource for your prospects and sales team, and they help you build credibility and trust with your readers. Also, people who choose to download whitepapers often are further into the customer buying cycle.

With that in mind, here are two use cases for a whitepaper:

A Technical Case Study

It’s been said that case studies, like ebooks, are very different from whitepapers. However, some case studies are long enough that they’re best packaged as whitepapers themselves.

A case study is essentially the story of a customer’s success reaching a goal as a result of their partnership with another party. This success is best conveyed through certain metrics the customer has agreed to be measured on. And depending on how technical or complex the service is that they received, the more research and detail other potential customers will want to see as they continue their buyer’s journey.

Therefore, case study-based whitepapers can be a terrific way of demonstrating thought leadership on a dense concept through a real-world example of how this concept helped someone else succeed.

A Reference Guide

Imagine you work for a company that sells kitchen cleaning equipment to restaurants and you write a whitepaper about the maintenance and inspection of commercial kitchens.

That whitepaper is probably chock full of information about legal requirements for exhaust systems, cooking equipment, and cleanliness documentation that could put even the biggest kitchen maintenance enthusiast to sleep if read cover-to-cover.

But it also serves as an incredibly useful reference for restaurant owners who want to know how to maintain their kitchens to pass inspection. Once they know how clean they need to keep their kitchens, they’ll likely buy some expensive cleaning equipment from you because they see you as a helpful, detail-oriented, credible source.

Many people create whitepapers for this purpose — a resource that their leads can take with them to become better at their trade. Ideally, the better they become, the more qualified they are to work with the organization that gave them the whitepaper.

Now that you know the purpose of whitepapers and how they differ from ebooks, it’s time to get started in creating your own. With the above best practices in mind, here’s the approach you can take to produce an excellent whitepaper for your audience: 

1. Identify your audience’s pain. 

While you’re a subject matter expert in a unique position to provide content, you must consider your audience and what is going on in their lives. By creating a whitepaper that addresses (and solves) for their needs, you’ll better be able to generate demand for your whitepaper. 

To do this, consider creating a buyer persona. This activity will help you put yourself in their shoes. Then, you’ll want to consider what kind of information would attract them, how they’d use the information, and how it would solve their pain or problem. 

2. Do your research. 

Whitepapers are informational in nature, and you’ll want to determine how to provide information your audience can’t get elsewhere. You can do that by:

  • Running an original study/survey
  • Putting together unique case studies
  • Detailing a unique process or project

If you’re unable to do your own research, try drawing statistics from government and/or survey organizations and analyzing them in a unique way (and make sure you cite your sources).  

3. Create an outline. 

Because whitepapers are long-form in nature, an outline can help organize your thoughts. Consider sketching out your topic in the following format: 

  1. Introduction and Synopsis – Introducing the topic of the whitepaper, explaining why it’s important (from the standpoint of the audience), and what the whitepaper sets to do, convey, or solve. 
  2. Overview – Defining some some of the key terms you intend to use, detailing the variables or parameters involved, and summarizing what you’ll discuss. 
  3. Body – Laying out all the key points and highlights you’ll hit. 
  4. Conclusion – Explaining the key take-aways from the body and any action items the reader should take.

4. Put pen to paper and flesh out your outline. 

Using an informational and fact-based tone, begin expanding on the ideas you have by using the outline as a guide. In addition, each paragraph should contribute to the overall goal of the piece. 

5. Use imagery to support your points. 

Because whitepapers go deep on research and analysis, visuals such as charts, graphs, and tables can help you present information in a visually interesting way and make the paper easier to read. 

6. Get feedback. 

It’s critical to present the best write-up you can for your readers. The higher quality it is, the more authority you’ll have in your audience’s eyes. Get feedback from someone you trust to catch typos or other issues with readability. 

7. Invest in the formatting and design. 

While it’s not necessary to get too flashy with it, color, layout, and imagery goes a long way to make your whitepaper appealing. 

Whitepaper Examples

To provide even more inspiration, here are modern examples of whitepapers that are emblematic of great whitepaper execution (and why):

1. Not Another State of Marketing Report, HubSpot

HubSpot does an amazing job every year compiling data from experts and partners to convey modern trends in the marketing landscape. This is useful for marketers because they can use the statistics to create marketing and sales content as well as learn from the macro shifts that are happening in the industry. The whitepaper presents this information with attractive graphs and short editorial summaries along with links to more in-depth articles on each topic.

hubspot whitepaper example: "not another state of marketing report" cover for 2020

Image Source

2. It’s Not You, It’s My Data, Custora

Custora created this whitepaper about customer churn, why it’s important, and how to prevent it. What makes this ebook great is that it promises concrete value to the reader (revenue savings from preventing attrition) backed by a wealth of data and actionable advice. Even better, the whitepaper is modern and attractive, so the reading experience is pleasant. This helps the reader consume the long-form content without friction.

custora whitepaper example: "it's not you, it's my data" cover that reads "leveraging customer analytics to build a scalable customer churn prevention system"

Image Source

3. Google Cloud’s AI Adoption Framework, Google

This whitepaper leverages Google’s authority to persuade the reader into adopting AI. By providing a methodology in the beginning, Google aims to give the reader the tools to think through the power of AI as it can be applied to their business. Then, the whitepaper dives into more technical information for advanced readers.

google whitepaper example: cover that reads "google cloud's AI adoption framework"

Image Source

4. Employees and Cybersecurity, Excedeo

Excedo aims to educate about the security risks that employees may unknowingly pose to businesses when improperly trained. The whitepaper advocates about the types of internal IT policies and training that are essential in today’s world.

excedo whitepaper example: first page that reads "employees and cyber security" and an introduction to the topic

Image Source

Whitepapers have a long history, and their uses have continued to change. Be sure to decide whether or not a whitepaper will actually serve your audience before spending the months-long process to produce it. Sometimes, an ebook will do just fine. On the other hand, long-form educational content has a place in your content strategy.

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

The 25 Dominating Web Design Trends for 2023

Experimental navigation, scrolling effects, and structured typography are just a few of the top web design trends you’ll see in 2023.

Free Download: 77 Examples of Brilliant Web Design 

Regularly updating your website to ensure it feels modern, fresh, and engaging is essential, but without some insight on the latest web design trends, you might not know where to begin. We’re here to help. In this post, we’ve rounded up some of the most prevalent web design trends (+research) you’ll see all year long.

One major theme amongst these 2023 website design trends is motion, from scrolling effects to micro-animation. Check out this video which details some popular website design trends in 2023, and see for yourself what micro-animation and parallax scrolling look like.

1. Experimental Navigation

When we discuss experimental navigation, we’re talking about the navigation patterns that subvert the traditional, which is all-caps navigation on the top of the screen in a sans serif font.) Instead, experimental patterns move in a more creative direction, generating visual interest and guiding users to navigate the site in a specific manner.

Take Kim Kneipp’s portfolio site, for example. When you click the Menu button in the right corner of the homepage, a menu slides in from the bottom of the screen that looks like the table of contents in a book. Each page is numbered to suggest an order of reading. On the right side of your screen, the projects are numbered and categorized by type and color.

What we like: In 2023, you’re invited to turn your navigation into an extension of your website’s unique branding thanks to experimental navigation.

web design trends: Experimental navigation of Kim Kneipp's portfolio site looks like a table of contents in a book

2. Scrolling Effects

Scrolling effects — animations triggered by scroll action — create more dynamic web experiences, which is why they’re arguably one of the most popular trending web design elements this year. These are increasingly used on interactive websites to intrigue readers to keep scrolling, signify a break in content, and create a three-dimensional experience.

Engineered Floors does just that, combining horizontal and vertical scrolling and other effects. When the user lands on the homepage, they see an image of what appears to be a chair on the right. As the user scrolls, this image zooms out to reveal a living room gradually covered in carpet. This 3D experience is delightful and informative.

What we like: Scrolling effects can stimulate visitors and encourage them to continue scrolling even below the fold.

web design trends: Engineered Floors employs unique scrolling effects like a carpet rolling out to create a 3d experience

3. Kinetic Typography

Kinetic typography — or moving text — is an animation technique that gained momentum in the 60s when feature films began using animated opening titles. You can use it for a similar purpose in website design to immediately grab the visitor’s attention once they land on the homepage.

You can also harness the power of kinetic typography to highlight important sections, guide the visitor as they scroll, and gradually reveal information, like on Arcadia.

What we like: Kinetic typography can delight visitors and help them digest your content. Plus, it’s visually attractive and engaging.

web design trends: Arcadia uses kinetic typography to gradually inform visitors of its mission and services

4. Drag Interaction

Gone are the days when users don’t have control over their experience on your website. Because drag interactions are designed to mimic an actual, physical action, they essentially allow visitors to pick up and move objects on the screen. This type of gesture interaction is gaining momentum with more websites. It’s an especially popular option if you have an ecommerce or portfolio site.

Take Robin Mastromarino’s portfolio site as an example. In addition to clicking on the controls of the homepage slider, you can drag and drop the different slides to browse his featured projects. The page transitions and animations are based on drag speed to give users a sense of control over these effects.

What we like: Drag interaction offers visitors a sense of customization and control over their experience on your site.

web design trends: Robin Mastromarino's portfolio site uses drag interactions for visitors to explore his featured projects

5. Structured Typography

More and more companies are using structured typography to headline their home pages. In a post-pandemic world, consumers crave structure and stability — both of which structured typography is reminiscent of. (Think: All capital letters and strong, solid shapes.)

Here’s an excellent example of how structured typography could look on your website. The Awwwards homepage reveals how much of an impression structured fonts can make.

What we like: Structured typography tells the visitors’ eyes precisely what they should be looking at.

web design trends: the awwwards website has a light purple background and strong, bold, all capitalized text that reads 'site of the day'

6. Cinemagraphs

Motion is the name of the game in web design trends in 2023 — and cinemagraphics are no exception. Cinemagraphs, high-quality videos or GIFs that run on a smooth, continuous loop, have become popular to add movement and visual interest to otherwise static pages.

While full-screen loops were more popular in the past, this year you’ll see smaller animations sprinkled throughout complex layouts. The addition of these cinemagraphics draws the eye and helps your readers keep scrolling, like in this example from the design and technology studio Grafik.

What we like: Cinemagraphs can help ensure visitors see your entire page, even when it’s busy.

web design trends: cinemagraphs used on Grafik's homepage to keep users scrolling

7. Brutalism

Some designers opt for more eclectic, convention-defying structures to stand out in a sea of tidy, organized websites. While it may seem jarring initially, many popular brands are now incorporating these aggressively alternative design elements into their sites.

Brutalism emerged as a reaction to the increasing standardization of web design and is often characterized by stark, asymmetrical, nonconformist visuals, and a distinct lack of hierarchy and order. In other words, it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it — like the below example from Chrissie Abbott.

What we like: Brutalism prioritizes simplicity and functionality — pillars of the user experience.

web design trends: example of the website design trend brutalism

8. Colorful Gradients

From Instagram to websites to advertisements and beyond, chances are you’ve seen your fair share of gradients in the last few years. Gradients have been all the rage lately, and 2023 is no exception. Last year, gradients were largely monochromatic. This year, they’re getting a makeover: Multi-colored gradients are in.

Check out this gorgeous and visually appealing example by ROSE Wrapped for gradient design inspiration. It pairs a colorful gradient with kinetic typography for the ultimate visual impact.

What we like: Gradients are visually exciting and, when used properly, not distracting.

web design trends: Rose Wrapped homepage features rainbow gradient and flying text reading 'Rose'

9. Layering

Layering images, colors, shapes, animations, and other elements adds depth and texture to a site that doesn’t have a lot of text. Below is a stylish example from the singer-songwriter SIRUP. The layering effect brings the website to life and makes it more eye-catching.

What we like: Layering can help add depth to a site and tell the brand’s story.

web design trends: SIRUP layers backgrounds, colors, shapes, and animations

10. Text-Only

In 2023, web designers will be embracing minimalist design. Some are experimenting with cutting out images and prominent navigation sections altogether, relying on a few choice lines of straightforward text to inform visitors about their company.

Danish agency B14 uses the hero section of its homepage to describe its mission statement simply. It’s a modern, uncluttered approach to presenting information that contrasts sharply with its portfolio section, which uses cinemagraphs, hover animations, and an animated cursor effect.

What we like: This trending web design strategy ensures visitors see what matters most: The copy.

web design trends: B14 features a text-only hero section on its homepage

11. Animated Illustrations

More companies are turning to illustrators and graphic artists to create bespoke illustrations for their websites because it’s one of the latest web design trends. “Illustration works well to convey more complex ideas that lifestyle photos aren’t always able to capture,” Pembroke explained.

These illustrations are often animated to add interactivity. For example, if you hover over one of the illustrations on theNewActon site (designed by Australian digital agency ED), the illustration and those in the surrounding area will wiggle. Then, only the illustration you’re hovering over will continue to move in a small circle. This design is also functional: each illustration represents one of the categories from the navigation menu on the right.

What we like: Animated illustrations help convey complex ideas and add some personality to a site.

web design trends: animated illustrations. image shows an image heavy website

12. Ultra-minimalism

Taking classic minimalism to the extreme, some designers defy conventions of what a website needs to look like, displaying just the bare necessities. This trend, known as “ultra-minimalism,” can be significant for the user experience and load times.

The site from designer Mathieu Boulet is centered around a few choice links to their social profiles and information.

What we like: Ultra-minimalism can positively impact the user experience and website performance.

web design trends: example of the website design trend ultra-minimalism

13. Mixing Horizontal and Vertical Text

Freeing text from its usual horizontal alignment and placing it vertically on a page adds some refreshing dimension. Take this example from action sports video producers Prime Park Sessions, which combines horizontal and vertical text alignments on a minimal page.

What we like: Mixing horizontal and vertical text defies convention and can delight and intrigue some users.

web design trends: Prime Park Sessions uses horizontal text for its headline and vertical text for its navigation on its homepage

14. Geometric Shapes and Patterns

Whimsical patterns and shapes are popping up more frequently on websites, adding some flair to a landscape otherwise ruled by flat and material design. Canadian design studio MSDS uses daring, patterned letters on their homepage.

What we like: Geometric shapes and patterns can direct visitors’ attention to certain products or CTAs.

web design trends: example of the website design trend geometric shapes

15. 3D Artwork

This year, website design is huge on creating an immersive experience for the site visitor. That’s why 3D artwork is gaining momentum. This example by Womp demonstrates how visually engaging the addition of 3D artwork can enhance your overall site experience. If your company considers itself future-forward, 3D artwork can enhance your branding.

What we like: This trend provides visitors with visual interest and catches their eye.

web design trends: WOMP homepage demonstrates how you can use 3D illustrations to create interest.

16. Overlapping Text and Images

Text that slightly overlaps accompanying images has become a popular effect for blogs and portfolios. Freelance art director and front-end developer Thibault Pailloux demonstrates how by placing overlapping text with a colorful underline beneath each title.

What we like: Overlapping text and images maximize the space on the page while adding visual interest.

web design trends: Thibault Pailloux's portfolio site overlaps bold typography and images

17. Broken Grids

While grids are arguably the most efficient way to display text and images, broken grids continue to make their way into mainstream sites and offer a change-up from the norm. Check out the website for HealHaus, for example. Its homepage features images and text blocks that overlap.

What we like: This convention-defying technique can make standard website pages or sections more interesting.

web design trends: broken grids shows a website with images overlaying and text on top of neutral colored squares.

18. Organic Shapes

Sharp edges are out, and curved lines are in. Organic shapes are set to dominate web design in 2023. “Organic shapes can help add some playfulness without affecting the way the information is displayed,” Pembroke said.

In the example below from Spring Invest, the organic shapes in the hero section are decorative and functional. The yellow dots act like a cursor, drawing the teardrops that form the company’s logo. These shapes add a moment of delight and help reinforce the brand’s identity and value proposition to “shape the future of commerce.”

What we like: Organic shapes add personality without distracting from the content.

web design trends: Spring Invest uses organic shapes to reinforce its brand identity and value proposition of shaping the future of commerce

19. Web Textures

Web textures are background images that visually resemble a three-dimensional surface. When you use them right, you can use web textures to immerse visitors in your website by engaging tactile sense. Need proof? Just check out this example from the Color Of Change website — the background evokes a duct-tape-like texture.

What we like: Web textures draw attention to a particular section on a website.

web design trends: Color of Change uses a web texture background for its featured petition section on the homepage

20. Grid Lines

Grid lines began cropping up in 2022, and with good reason — they give site visitors a feeling of order and simplicity. Adding grid lines makes your website easier to digest while adding a modern, visually interesting aesthetic. On the Foundations for a Better Oregon website, grid lines are used to create a clear layout that looks futuristic.

What we like: This trend isn’t just visually engaging — it also gives your site a valuable sense of organization.

web design trends: Foundations for a Better Oregon website features linework

21. Y2K Inspired Design

The resurgence of the Y2K aesthetic that started in 2020 is here to stay for at least a bit longer. In 2023, you will see websites adding nods to the coveted Y2K style to evoke a sense of nostalgia. Even celebrities channel the aesthetic on their artist websites — look at singer and actress Olivia Rodrigo’s site for a healthy dose of inspiration.

What we like: This playful aesthetic doesn’t take itself too seriously.

web design trends: Olivia Rodrigo's Y2K inspired website with purple textured background image 22. Scrapbook Aesthetic

If you need more proof that website visitors are leaning into nostalgia, consider that the scrapbook aesthetic is coming back in 2023. But this isn’t the same scrapbook aesthetic we saw popular in the early 2010s when this web design trend emerged. Today’s scrapbook aesthetic is an updated, buzzy version. In some cases, like this Gucci website, it’s interactive.

What we like: You can now bring your scrapbook-style site to life.

web design trends: updated scrapbook style site by gucci shows floating images

23. Gamified Design

Gamified design is everywhere in 2023, making it one of the most prevalent website design trends this year. Gamification is an excellent idea because it adds an element of human emotion for visitors. For instance, when they arrive on your site, they have the experience of engaging with your content in a unique, memorable manner. This example by PrettyDamnQuick demonstrates exactly what we mean.

What we like: This playful trend is more than fun — it’s genius from a user engagement standpoint.

web design trends: PrettyDamnQuick homepage shows gamified website design in action with an interactive scoreboard in the bottom left corner. 24. Emphasis on Product Photography

2023 is the year of product photography reigning supreme for ecommerce websites. From beauty companies to clothing brands and beyond, product photography will be front and center in 2023. This example from skincare brand BYOMA shows how impactful keeping your brand’s products centerstage can be.

What we like:Visitors don’t have to hunt down images of what you’re selling — they’re immersed in it from the moment they arrive on your website.

web design trends: BYOMA website puts the products front and center. 25. Pastel Colors

It is predicted that pastel colors will dominate 2023 website design. Pastels are bright, warm, and whimsical — a powerful reprieve from the bleakness of the early 2020s. This portfolio created by Cédric Pereira reveals exactly how visually impactful pastel colors can be.

What we like: Pastels add an element of levity to your website.

web design trends: pastels. image shows a pastel pink homepage.

Design Trends You Can Use on Your Website

Of course, you don’t need to incorporate all of these trends to build one of the best website designs in 2023— we doubt that’s even possible anyways. However, even adding a couple as prominent components or subtler details can improve your site’s UX significantly, leading to higher engagement, more CTA clicks, and a better outcome for your online business.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.examples of brilliant homepage, blog, and landing page design

 

The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2023 [New Data]

Social media is one of the best ways to amplify your brand and the great content you’re creating. But it isn’t enough to just post content to social whenever you feel like it – posting at some times performs better than others.

Download Now: The State of Social Media Trends [Free Report]

So, what are the best times to post on each social media channel in 2023? We surveyed 1000+ social media marketers and got the answer.

Best Time to Post on Instagram

In 2022, Instagram surpassed 2 billion monthly users, with most of its base accessing the platform via mobile.

best time to post on instagram

  • On average, the best times to post on Instagram across industries are mid to late evening and mid to late afternoon, specifically from 6 PM – 9 PM, 12 PM – 3 PM, and 3 PM – 6 PM.
  • The best day to post on Instagram is Saturdays. The worst is on Mondays. 
  • The worst times to post are:
    • 6 – 9 AM.
    • 9 – 12 AM.

Best Time to Post on Facebook

When it comes to best times to post, marketers report almost identical numbers on Facebook as they do on Instagram.

best time to post on facebook

  • On average, the best times to post on Facebook across industries are in the evening and mid-to-late afternoon, specifically between 6 and 9 PM and 12 PM – 3 PM.
  • The best day to post on Facebook are Friday and Saturday. The worst is on Sunday.
  • The worst times to post are:
    • 6 AM to 9 AM.
    • 9 PM to 12 AM.

Industries that have more success posting early morning are government and nonprofits.

Best Time to Post on Twitter

Marketers report that the best time to post on this text-based social media platform is between 9 AM and noon.

best time to post on twitter

  • 23% of marketers surveyed say 9 AM – 12 PM is the best time to post on the platform, followed by 12 PM – 3 PM, then 3 PM – 6 PM. 
  • Like Instagram and Facebook, Friday is the best day to post on the platform, and Wednesday is just as good.
  • Worst times? Early morning. Specifically 6 – 9 AM.

Best Time to Post on LinkedIn

Roughly 31% of U.S. adults use LinkedIn to network and share their professional endeavors. It’s no surprise that it’s the only social platform to report a weekday as one of the top days to post.

best time to post on linkedin

  • Aim to post on LinkedIn between 9 – 12 PM, 12 – 3 PM, or 3 – 6 PM.
  • The best day to post is Mondays, Wednesdays, or Tuesdays, in that order.
  • The lowest-performing days are Sundays and Saturdays, respectively.

Best Time to Post on Pinterest

best time to post on pinterest

  • The best times to post on Pinterest are between 3 PM and 6 PM.
  • The second most popular time is 6 – 9 PM, selected by marketers surveyed in defense or aeronautics, chemicals and metals, and agriculture, food, and beverage.
  • 29% of marketers say the best day to post on Pinterest is Friday, and the worst is Sunday.

Best Time to Post on YouTube

82% of U.S. adults use YouTube and data from a 2022 Pew Research study suggests that its reach is growing. So, how can you get the best reach on the platform? Let’s dive in.

best time to post on youtube

  • Post between 6 PM and 9 PM (23%), 3 to 6 PM (22%), and noon to 3 PM.
  • 18% of marketers surveyed recommend posting on Fridays, while 16% say Saturday is the best day to post.
  • Tuesday is the worst day to post on the platform, along with early mornings from 6 – 9 AM.

The most popular time frame for emergency services, agriculture, food and beverage, and transportation businesses is 3 PM – 6 PM.

Best Time to Post on TikTok

Since 2020, TikTok has become the go-to short-form video platform for Gen-Z and Millennial consumers.

best time to post on tiktok

  • The best times to post are 6 to 9 PM, 3 to 6 PM, and 12 to 3 PM.
  • For B2B brands, Saturdays and Thursdays are the best days to post. For B2C brands, it’s Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Although energy and utilities and manufacturing and materials brands seem to find success in posting between 6 to 9 AM, most marketers don’t recommend it.
  • The best day to post on TikTok is Friday, and the worst days to post are Monday and Tuesday.

Creating an Effective Posting Schedule

Although each social network sees its engagement increase at specific hours and days of the week, you’ll still have to tailor your approach to your audience.

Use this data as a guide if you don’t have enough data yet. Once you start posting regularly and have collected data, review it to determine when your audience is most active on the platform and what posting schedule they respond to the most.

You may find that certain content types work better when posted at certain times. For instance, your videos may perform well when posting in the morning while your images may do better in the late afternoon.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2017, but was updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Measure Social Media Marketing ROI [with Expert Advice]

When it comes to building effective social media ad campaigns, the biggest question isn’t “how much should I spend?”

It’s “for every dollar I spend, how much do I get back?”

In other words, it’s all about return on investment (ROI) — how are ad spending and customer conversion linked? Understanding this connection makes it less important how much you spend, and instead lets you focus on the impact of your social ads. In this piece, we’re taking a look at how to measure social media marketing ROI and offering a look at eight tools to help streamline the process.

Feel free to jump ahead to:

How to Measure Social Media Marketing ROI

Expert Tips on Measuring Social Media ROI, According to G2 and Dropbox

How Much Should You Spend on Ads?

8 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools

Download Now: Free Ad Campaign Planning Kit

ROI is a measure of spend versus value: If I spend “X” amount, how much do I get back? The best-case scenario is an ROI greater than one, where companies get back more than they spent on an investment.

Consider a manufacturing company buying a new piece of production line equipment that costs $10,000 but brings in $20,000 worth of revenue each year. The result is a positive ROI and a worthwhile investment. While measuring social media ROI isn’t quite as straightforward since companies need to account for the reach and impact of specific ad campaigns, the underlying concept is the same: Over time, the goal is to get back more than you spend.

While specific measurement timelines and media metrics will differ, the role of ROI remains the same.

How to Measure Social Media Marketing ROI

One of the most popular and data-driven ways to measure social media marketing ROI is through paid advertising. The problem arises, though, when there isn’t a sound strategy in place to yield a positive return on investment.

How does this happen? Typically, social media marketers build an AdWords campaign to rank for important search terms. The campaign drives clicks, traffic, and leads, but ultimately the ad spend outweighs the impact of the ads which is bad news for ROI.

These marketers end up learning a really expensive lesson, one that could be easily prevented by following these simple steps:

1. Develop a Budget.

Ads aren’t right for everyone. Some industries have extremely high competition with astronomical CPCs. Some products have too low of an average sales price for the economics to work.

To determine if ads are worth your time, start by building a budget. This isn’t always an easy task, especially considering the hit many marketing budgets have taken over the past two years. According to Tequia Burt, Editor in Chief of the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog, market knowledge is a key component of this process. “As marketing leaders evaluate their budgets and organize their plans for the year ahead,” she says, “a bit of context and clarity can lend helpful structure.”

Consider that 76% of companies plan to boost spending across areas such as branded influencer content, ads in social media stories and ads in social media feeds. Knowing where and when this spending makes the most sense is critical to drive ROI.

Featured Resource: Budget Templates To Manage Your 2022 Spend

marketing budget template

Download Free Marketing Budget Templates

2. Continually Evaluate Ad Performance.

Try not to look at ads as a shortcut. It’s possible to get to a place with ads where they become a recurring source of profit, but typically that’s not how things start.

Don’t be surprised when a week after your campaign launches your ads aren’t generating tons of profit. “Around 80% of businesses online feel that they deliver great assistance via social media, but only 8 percent of their customers agreed,” says John Kopanakis, professor of Business Intelligence at Hellenic Mediterranean University. “Despite putting in a lot of effort, many marketers hardly reach their targeted sales. It is because they struggle to measure the impact of their social media efforts on their sales.”

As a result, incremental improvements in clickthrough rates and conversion rates can have a huge impact on profit. Use the ads calculator to explore the impact these changes could have. Watch your ads like a hawk for the first month and you’ll avoid big mistakes.

3. Make Sure You’re Amplifying the Right Message.

Ads act like a megaphone to amplify your marketing campaigns and content. The more complete and well-developed your campaigns are, the better your ads will perform.

As noted by Samuel Bu, Marketing Director at FortuneNote Chinese Business Magazine in a recent LinkedIn Pulse post, it’s also critical to find the right channel for your business. While he highlights LinkedIn as a great way to generate leads and calls out Facebook’s huge impact on the social market, he also highlights challenges with platforms such as Instagram. Why? Bu says “Most likely, Instagram falls short of producing strong ROI due to its more intangible metrics — such as brand awareness, reputation, loyalty, and consumer engagement.”

Think about it: Which ads do you think perform better? Those promoting your homepage or those promoting a remarkable piece of content that helps someone?

Bingo. Those promoting awesome content.

Campaigns that use ads should be treated like other campaigns. Establish your goals first, build great content, focus your message and optimize your landing pages, then figure out how ads can help amplify your message. Taking this combined approach and only using ads as a strategic component of your marketing campaigns will pay off.

Expert Tips on Measuring Social Media ROI, According to G2 and Dropbox

To further investigate how to effectively measure social media ROI, I spoke with social media experts at G2 and Dropbox. 

Let’s dive into their tips now.

1. Determine goals for each channel, and re-evaluate those metrics often.

Measuring ROI requires understanding how your social efforts contribute to the company’s bottom line — but this isn’t always a straightforward, one-to-one link. 

For instance, the first time someone engages with a social post, they might not immediately purchase a product. Instead, maybe they decide to follow your brand on Instagram, and end up purchasing a product later on. 

To accurately measure ROI, then, it’s vital you determine which social media metrics matter most to your team

As Jenny Gardynski, Director of Communications at G2, told me, “When it comes to our organic social media presence, we look at metrics that demonstrate both our reach and engagement – in support of driving G2’s brand awareness. Key metrics we measure include follower count, impressions, and post link clicks.”

Jenny Gardynski on how to measure social media ROI

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Identifying specific goals for each campaign will help you accurately measure your social ROI. For instance, if your goal for your upcoming organic social campaign is to increase follower count by 3%, then hitting or exceeding that number demonstrates positive ROI. 

Gardynski continues, “To determine what the proper goal should be per channel, we spend time benchmarking where we’ve been in the past, what our typical growth rate has been, as well as thinking ahead to what content and assets we anticipate fueling our social calendar. Since social media platforms are constantly changing — with new features and algorithm updates — it’s important to re-evaluate these metrics often.”

Determining historical data is a vital component of measuring ROI. This enables you to measure how your content typically performs on a given channel, and determine which area(s) of your social strategy are most effective.

2. Identify which metrics best translate into success for your social team.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to measuring ROI because ROI depends on each social team’s individual goals. 

Susan Chang, Dropbox’s Director of Social Media, told me, “Anyone that works in social media knows that there is no shortage of metrics to track, which means that there are many different ways to measure ROI.”

A couple common metrics you might measure include: 

  • Audience Growth Rate
  • Social Media Impressions
  • Social Media Conversion Rate
  • Social Media Engagement Rate
  • Customer Response Rate
  • Influencer Campaign Metrics
  • Traffic to Brand’s Website

… And many others.

Ultimately, each social team has its own unique objectives. For instance, Chang says, “It’s up to the social media team to design a program and set goals that are customized to their brand’s objectives and priorities. Sometimes, a brand will prioritize engagement rate, because their goal is to build community and create two-way conversations between their brand and their customers.”

susan from dropbox on measuring social media roi

“Other times,” she continues, “a brand cares most about conversions because they’ve invested in paid social as a viable source of revenue. Or, maybe the highest priority metric is traffic or CTR to an owned website because their goal is to educate their users and raise awareness about their brand’s capabilities.” 

Chang adds, “The metrics we care the most about will change as the needs of our business evolve. The great thing about social is that you’re able to assess your brand’s needs and through analysis, identify the metrics that best translate into success for your team.”

3. Evaluate a paid campaign’s impact on Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).

To measure the ROI of a paid campaign, you’ll want to evaluate the leads or customers you converted through your ad. 

Achieving positive ROI on a paid campaign can be difficult. Oftentimes, brands end up spending more money than they get back. That’s where intent-based targeting becomes critical. 

Laura Grass, G2’s Senior Marketing Manager, Enterprise & ABM, says, “When it comes to paid social, our primary focus is evaluating a campaign’s impact on Marketing Sourced Pipeline — which is evaluated by measuring the number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) — as well as the MQL to Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), conversion rates, and later on, the number of open opportunities and their contract values.”

Grass adds, “We also look at metrics that reflect efficient campaign performance (including click-through rate, cost-per-click, and cost-per-lead or cost-per-conversion). Because we’re big believers in meeting people where they are in their buying journey, we leverage our own G2 Buyer Intent Data to retarget audiences that have engaged with our product page and other software in our categories on G2.”

You might also consider leveraging intent data in your next social media campaign to target a smaller, more qualified subset of people. This can help you minimize the chance of a negative ROI by ensuring you’re reaching people who’ve already shown interest in your brand. 

As Grass puts it, “This tends to narrow the campaign audience to in-market prospects, thus often increasing CPC and CPL from the get-go. But we tend to see the payoff in the pipeline. We consistently see higher conversion rates and higher ACV on paid social campaigns as a result of intent-based targeting, making the investment upfront well worth it.”

Laura Grass on how to measure social media ROI

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How Much Should You Spend on Ads?

Assuming you’ve run the numbers and now know what you can expect in terms of profit and ROI, it’s time to launch a campaign. To do this you’ll have to make two budget decisions, regardless of where you are advertising:

  • Total campaign budget or duration: How much do you plan to spend in total? How long will the ads run for? Be aware that if you don’t set a limit there will be no maximum or end date.
  • Daily budget: How much do you want to spend a day?

There are two ways most marketers use ads, short-term and long-term. Let’s take a look at both …

Short-term ads. Budget = at least a few hundred dollars over a month.

When marketers use ads for a short-term goal, it’s usually to jump-start a campaign or boost content that needs a bump. These ad spends are generally smaller and shorter, but can be large.

If you have a few hundred dollars to spend, spend it this way. Create a social post that promotes a piece of content and then use your ads to boost the post. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have good solutions for this. Make sure you use the social network that gives you the best targeting for your persona and returns the most valuable leads. Measure this by assessing the quality of the leads generated after the campaign.

Long-term ads. Budget = at least a few thousand dollars over a quarter.

Ads can be a great solution in a pinch but if you really want to use ads strategically build them into your overall marketing strategy. This means more consistent, quarterly ad spends.

Consider how potential customers make purchase decisions and use ads to influence them. This may mean always relying on search ads or retargeting to make sure prospects find you when they are ready to buy. You’re more likely to accumulate better data taking this approach, which will allow you to get more sophisticated in how you optimize your ad spend.

Given the quickly-changing nature of social media platforms and posts, it’s worth considering social media ROI tools to help stay on top of spend and revenue measurements. Here’s a look at eight great options.

1. HubSpot

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: HubSpot

The HubSpot Advertising ROI Calculator makes it easy to narrow down when and where it’s worth spending on social ads.

Start by inputting your projected monthly budget, then your expected cost-per-click (CPC), target conversion rate, average sale price and lead to customer rate to get a general idea of your ROI on advertising spend. Use the calculator regularly to reevaluate your campaigns and make sure they’re delivering on key metrics.

2. Hootsuite

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Hootsuite

Hootsuite also offers a free Social ROI Calculator that lets you input ad spend data to determine potential ROI. While it uses slightly different metrics and has a different setup than the HubSpot version, the general function is the same: Input your data to see where it makes sense to spend on ads and where the return may not justify the investment.

While both offer a solid starting point for ROI, we’re naturally biased toward the HubSpot version.

3. Sprout Social

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Sprout Social

Next up is Sprout Social. Unlike HubSpot and Hootsuite, you’ll need to sign up for a free trial to access Sprout Social’s ROI calculator. After 30 days, it’s $99 per month if you want to keep using the tool.

Depending on your current ad campaign and ROI goals, however, the cost may be worth it. Sprout’s tool offers message-level insights to see which posts are proving their worth along with follower, engagement, and keyword analytics that cover the entire publishing process from draft to queue to posting.

4. Cyfe

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Cyfe

Cyfe provides a set of all-in-one business dashboards that provide insights across key social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Easily monitor what ads are being posted, how they’re performing, and how users are interacting with your campaign efforts.

Cyfe comes with a 14-day free trial. After that, it’s $19 per month for two dashboards and one user.

5. Google Analytics

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is familiar, free, and functional. While it doesn’t have the same laser-focus on social media as some other offerings on our list, it comes with the advantage of access to massive data sets, and also helps inform social advertising SEO, which is critical to any effective campaign.

To see how your social ads are performing at a high level, first log into your Google Analytics dashboard. From there, select Acquisition, then All Traffic, then Channels. This will bring up a list of your traffic sources, including those from social sites, in turn helping you get a general sense of how social ads are working to drive revenue.

Featured Resource: The Ultimate Google Ads PPC Kit

HubSpot's Ultimate Google Ads PPC Kit

Download Now

6. Buffer

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Buffer

Buffer is an all-in-one social media marketing and ROI tool that’s designed to simplify the process of measuring and managing ads. The tool streamlines the creation of social ad content and lets you measure impact in just a few clicks to see what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to improve.

If you’re just getting started with social media ads, Buffer has a free plan that lets you manage up to three channels with basic tools. From there, plans start at $5 per month for “Essentials”, $10 per month for “Team” and $100 per month for “Agency”.

7. Keyhole

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Keyhole

Keyhole lets you accomplish two key tasks: Listen to what people are saying about your brand in real-time and monitor the impact of your influencer marketing campaigns.

The first is critical because customer sentiment is a solid bellwether when it comes to ad effectiveness. If the number of people talking about your brand is going up — and if most of what they have to say is positive, you’re on the right track.

Influencer marketing reports, meanwhile, help keep tabs on influencer partners who exist outside your business ecosystem but offer potential benefits for your brand, as long as they’re posting consistently and in line with your messaging.

8. Social Mention

 Best Social Media ROI Measurement Tools: Social Mention

The simplest tool on our list, Social Mention lets you search any keyword or key phrase for recent social mentions.

In practice, companies can use Social Mention to see what’s currently trending and what opportunities exist to target specific keywords, and can then follow up after ads have gone live to see how campaigns are performing.

Getting the Biggest Social Impact for Your Spend

Bottom line? There’s no single way to spend your social marketing budget. Some companies may prefer to keep spending low and handle most of their ads through free platforms and word of mouth, while others are willing to spend top dollar for on-demand results.

Whatever budget you choose and whichever approach you take, however, there’s a common rule of thumb: Ask lots of questions about your ad spend, and make sure ads are performing as intended.

Why? Because even targeting the right market with the right approach, it’s easy to burn through money fast. Safeguard yourself by knowing what to expect, having clear expectations, and using the right tools to measure social ad ROI.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2023

Coca-Cola is more than a soda. Starbucks is more than coffee. Apple is more than computers.

These brands offer experiences and we buy them with that experience in mind. And these companies know exactly what experience they want you to have when you make (or consider) a purchase. That’s why they cultivate their brands.

Download Now: Free Brand Building Guide

This branding guide will help you create and manage a strong brand that’ll entice customers to admire, remember and prefer your business. So, keep reading or use the links below to jump ahead to find what you need.

Brands are a simple way for companies to communicate their vision. A brand clarifies what a company stands for and why. A brand also refers to the overall experience a customer undergoes when interacting with a business — as a shopper, customer, social media follower, or mere passerby.

So, branding is the process of researching, developing, and applying a distinctive feature or set of features to your organization so that consumers can begin to associate your brand with your products or services.

Branding is in social media captions, billboard color palettes, and the materials brands use in their packaging. Companies that create strong brands know that their brand identity needs to live everywhere. They know their names extend far beyond the label and can entice consumers to choose their products out of a lineup of options.

For example, the Coca-Cola brand is one of the most recognizable logos and color stories around the world. The classic red and white lettering, vibrant artwork, and distinctive font have lasted for over a century.

Branding example: Coca-Cola

Image Source

Having stood the test of time, the Coca-Cola brand is a testament to the power of consistent, successful branding that consumers have come to love.

That said, branding is an iterative process and requires getting in touch with the heart of your customers and your business.

Branding vs. Marketing

While it’s easy to combine branding and marketing into one focus or idea, they’re quite distinct. It’s also common to hear branding and marketing compared in terms of priorities. The truth is, they are both essential to a successful business and must work in harmony for a business to grow.

Put simply, branding is the identity of a company, and marketing is the tactics and strategies that communicate that vision.

Branding vs. Marketing graphic

As a business grows, both branding and marketing get more complex. This growth often means that both areas of a business will develop strategies and tactics to support different goals. In branding, these actions usually support the business’s story and identity. In marketing, these actions usually amplify a company’s products, customers, or other initiatives.

Branding is important for a variety of reasons — and we’ll go through them below.

Other benefits of branding include:

1. Guides purchase decisions.

Branding can be the deciding factor for consumers when they make a purchase decision. In fact, a 2021 Razorfish study found that 82% of surveyed consumers buy from brands that stand for a greater mission or purpose. 67% say the brands they buy from make them a better person.

2. Creates an identity for your business.

Branding gives your business an identity. A brand extends beyond a company’s product or service. It gives consumers something to relate to and connect with.

3. Helps customers remember your business.

Branding makes your business memorable. It’s the face of your company and helps consumers distinguish your business across every medium.

4. Boosts advertising and marketing.

Branding supports your marketing and advertising efforts. It helps your promotion pack that extra punch with added recognition and impact.

5. Builds employee support.

Branding brings your employees pride. When you brand your company, you’re not only giving your business identity, you’re also creating a reputable, highly-regarded workplace. Strong branding brings in strong employees.

Brand Strategy Guide

Branding can be a complex process. It’s true, branding is creative work. It’s also a team effort, and there are many stakeholders who you’ll need to loop into the process. Everyone has an opinion, and navigating useful feedback and changes can make branding a challenge.

But you don’t have to invent your brand without help — many templates can help you create a powerful brand. To show you how a template can improve the branding process, let’s walk through a few HubSpot resources.

Brand strategy templates from HubSpot

  • Company Profile Templates: This resource can help you pull together the story of how your company began and how you want to continue. This makes it easier to refine your brand identity and strategy.
  • Company Culture Code Template: The culture of your business and your brand should be intrinsically connected. This useful template makes it easier for your team to hone the core of your unique culture so you can use that knowledge to update your brand.
  • Value Statement Templates: These templates can help you refine the value your company offers to customers. It includes over 30 pages of useful prompts and visual tools to hone your messaging.

Here’s how you can create a brand — or begin the process of rebranding your business.

There’s a lot that goes into a brand, and there’s a lot to consider when building a strong one. So, grab a notebook and jot down ideas as you move through this section. Recognize that branding is an iterative process. This means you might be repeating some of these steps as you brainstorm and build your brand.

Want to build an effective, measurable brand? Download our free guide on how to build a brand.

1. Determine your target audience.

Branding leads to awareness, recognition, trust, and revenue. We’ve talked about that. But let’s take a step back and understand where those stem from: consumers. And not just any consumers — your target audience and customers. 70% of consumers say that they want a personalized experience. But how can you offer that experience if you don’t have a clear idea of who they are?

If your brand doesn’t resonate with your audience, it won’t lead to that awareness, recognition, trust, and revenue. That’s where target market research comes in.

Before pressing pen to paper (or cursor to digital document), you must understand to whom your branding will be speaking. Who does your product serve? Who is your ideal customer? Why did you create your business in the first place?

What you learn about your target market and buyer personas will influence your branding decisions down the line, so make this step your first priority.

Branding templates: Buyer Persona

Download our free Persona Templates to easily organize your target audience research and strengthen your marketing.

2. Establish your mission statement.

Let’s return to a question I asked in the last step: Why did you create your business? Answering this will help you build your mission statement. This statement defines your purpose and passion as an organization.

Before you can craft a brand that your audience recognizes, values, and trusts, you must be able to show what your business has to give. Then, every part of your brand (logo, tagline, imagery, voice, and personality) can reflect that mission and vision.

Your mission statement is a building block of your brand manifesto. It encompasses why your organization exists and why people should care about your brand.

Branding templates: Mission statement

Download these free mission statement examples and templates and learn the ins and outs of two of the most valuable strategic planning elements for businesses.

3. Define your unique values, qualities, and benefits.

There are probably lots of businesses in your industry and niche. It’s easy to focus on your competition (and there’s a time and place for competitive analysis), but, for now, let’s focus on you.

What’s one thing that your business has that no one else can mimic (er, legally)? Your brand.

Because of that, you must make sure that your brand is made from and inspired by elements that are solely yours: the values, benefits, and qualities that make your company unique.

Take a moment to jot down a list of what sets your business apart from others. I’m not talking about product features (like appearance, components, or capabilities). I’m referring to how your products or services improve lives and contribute to success.

Real-Life Brand Example: Tower 28 Beauty

You may have heard of Tower 28; they’re a beauty company that went viral on TikTok in 2021. I order their skincare products because 1) they steer clear of harmful ingredients, and 2) I trust and respect the brand (and it’s gorgeous.). On their website, they’ve clearly and simply outlined their unique values and benefits as part of their overall brand. This makes it easy for customers like me to trust their products and choose them over competitors.

Branding example: Tower 28 Beauty

4. Create your visual assets.

At this point, you should understand your target audience, your mission statement, and the unique qualities that make up your business.

Can you say with confidence that you’ve finished these steps? If your answer is yes, it’s time to move on to one of the more exciting parts of branding — the visual design. We’re talking about your logo, color palette, typography (fonts), iconography, and other visual components.

Brand style guide

As you create these elements, build a set of brand guidelines (or a brand style guide) to govern the composition and use of your visual assets. This will ensure that whoever uses your new branding does so accurately and consistently. Check out these examples of brand style guides for some inspiration.

Note: Design can be just as intimidating as it is exciting. Consider hiring a professional with logo and identity design experience or starting with a few helpful design templates.

Take your brand to the next level with these free templates for creating a brand style guide.

5. Find your brand voice.

Next, consider the voice of your brand. What would your brand sound like if you had a conversation with it, or if it texted you?

How you communicate with your target market is also considered part of your branding. You want to define a brand voice that connects and resonates with your audience — otherwise, they probably won’t pay attention. Because of that, don’t hesitate to return to step one to get familiar with to whom you’re speaking.

From your advertising campaigns and Instagram captions to your blog posts and brand story, your tone must be consistent.

So, give your audience a chance to get familiar with your brand and learn to recognize the sound of your voice. Better yet, create a fun, entertaining voice, and your customers will look forward to your social media and email updates.

Real-Life Brand Example: MailChimp

MailChimp is a great example of a brand that speaks with a clear, consistent tone. When I used their free plan for my small business, I always chuckled when receiving their emails and scanning their Instagram feed.

Branding example: MailChimp

From its web copy to its social media posts, MailChimp has a clear brand voice that’s personable, fun, and accessible. It can be hard to explain the technical parts of a software product (like A/B testing), but MailChimp has finessed that, too.

6. Put your branding to work.

Your brand only works if you do. Once you finish designing and creating your new brand (or rebrand) integrate it throughout every inch of your business. Pay extra attention to make sure that it’s displayed anywhere your business touches customers. Here are a handful of tips for applying your brand across your organization.

Website

50% of consumers think that website design is crucial for a business brand. So, splash your logo, color palette, and typography across your website. Don’t use anything but your predefined assets in your brand guidelines.

Your website is a major part of your company identity — if it doesn’t reflect your brand, it will only create a jarring customer experience. Also, be sure that all web copy, calls-to-action, and product descriptions speak with your brand voice.

Branding templates: Website design evaluation

Try this website grader for a free evaluation of your website, with tips on how to make improvements.

Social Media

Increasing brand awareness is a top goal for social marketers, according to 2022 research. All profile photos, cover art, and branded imagery should reflect your brand. Consider putting your logo as your profile photo. This will make it easier for customers to recognize your business. As with your website, be sure all profile information, posts, and captions show off your brand voice.

Packaging

If you have a physical products business, your product is probably the most tangible way that customers interact with your brand. For that reason, your packaging should highlight your new branding — in its design, colors, size, and feel.

Real-Life Brand Example: Chobani

I love Chobani yogurt (confession: I’m eating it right now). Their branding immediately tells me that they produce authentic, healthy Greek yogurt. That’s one of the main reasons I buy Chobani. It makes its yogurt packaging with recyclable paper cups — an intentional decision that supports the overall experience they’ve paired with purchasing and eating the Chobani brand.

Advertising

Advertisements (digital and print) are often used to establish brand awareness and introduce consumers to your brand. In fact, according to HubSpot research, 33% of marketers use paid ads to increase brand awareness.

Because of this, it’s critical that they display your branding. In fact, your branding should make the ad creation process easier. With your brand style guide, you already know how your ads should appear and what type of copy to write.

Featured resource: Best advertising examples

Sales and Customer Service

A brand is only as powerful as the people behind it, and if your people aren’t putting your brand to work, it won’t work for you. Moreover, your brand applies to more than your marketing.

Inform your sales and customer service folks of your brand guidelines and tell them to use them, especially when they engage directly with customers. Whether they’re sharing a branded product demo or answering customer questions, encourage them to use your logo, tagline, imagery, and brand voice.

Check out these examples of small business branding for more inspiration.

Branding Terms to Know

Here are some other brand-related buzzwords you should know. They show the importance and value of branding your business.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness refers to how familiar the general public and your target audience are with your brand. High brand awareness leads to brands being referred to as “trending,” “buzzworthy,” or “popular.” Brand awareness is important because consumers can’t consider purchasing from your brand if they’re not aware of it.

👉🏼 Strong branding makes your business known.

Brand Extension

Brand extensions are when companies “extend” their brand to develop new products in new industries and markets. Consider Honda lawnmowers or Martha Stewart bedding. Brand extensions allow companies (or individuals) to leverage brand awareness and equity to create more revenue streams and diversify product lines.

👉🏼 Strong branding brings in more money.

Brand Identity

Brand identity is the personality of your business and the promise you make to your customers. It’s what you want your customers to walk away with after they interact with your brand. Your brand identity is typically composed of your values, how you communicate your product or service, and what you want people to feel when they interact with it.

👉🏼 Strong branding gives your business more than a name.

Brand Management

Brand management refers to the process of creating and maintaining your brand. It includes managing the tangible elements of your brand (style guide, packaging, color palette) and the intangible elements (how it’s perceived by your target audience and customer base). Your brand is a living, breathing asset, and it should be managed as such.

👉🏼 Strong branding requires consistent upkeep.

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition is how well a consumer (ideally in your target audience) can recognize and identify your brand without seeing your business name — through your logo, tagline, jingle, packaging, or advertising. This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand recall, which is the ability to think of a brand without any visual or auditory identifiers.

👉🏼 Strong branding keeps your business top-of-mind.

Brand Trust

Brand trust refers to how strongly customers and consumers believe in your brand. Do you deliver on your marketing promises? Do your salespeople and customer service go above and beyond? These things can create trust among your customers, which is important in a world where a mere 14% of people feel confident in large businesses.

👉🏼 Strong branding builds trust with your customers.

Brand Valuation

Brand valuation is the commercial valuation of your brand derived from consumer perception, recognition, and trust. This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand equity. A powerful brand can make your business invaluable to investors, shareholders, and potential buyers.

👉🏼 Strong branding increases your business’s value.

1. Treat your brand as a person.

To best wrap your head around the branding process, think of your brand as a person. Your brand should have an identity (who it is), personality (how it behaves), and experience (how it’s remembered).

Ask yourself these questions about your brand:

  • How would your brand introduce itself?
  • If it had to describe its appearance, how would it do so?
  • How would your brand talk about your products or services? Would it be serious and professional, or would it be humorous and edgy?
  • What would someone say about your brand after “meeting” it for the first time? What are a few sentences they’d use to describe it?

The purpose of branding is to create relationships with your customers. The easiest way to do this is to treat your brand as a person and understand that you want your customers to do the same.

Featured resources:

2. Prioritize consistency.

88% of consumers are looking for authenticity from the brands they support. Consistency is essential for branding because it builds trust and shows customers that your values are authentic. Without it, you could accidentally undermine your brand and confuse your customers.

Recognizable, valuable brands focus on consistency — and they reap the benefits. So, make your brand a unified presence across mediums and platforms. This makes it easy for your customers to get familiar with, recognize, and come to prefer your brand over time. Brand guidelines can help with this initiative.

Take a look at this post for consistent brand examples and ideas.

3. Build and follow a brand strategy.

A brand strategy is more than your brand guidelines. It’s a plan with specific, long-term goals that your team can achieve as your brand evolves. These goals typically revolve around your brand’s purpose, emotion, flexibility, competitive awareness, and employee involvement.

Remember how I said that branding is a continuous process? There’s a lot that goes into it. A brand strategy can help you turn that process into a well-oiled practice that keeps your brand moving toward success and recognition.

4. Don’t let inspiration turn into imitation.

Competitive analysis is important. Not only does it educate you on where your competition stands and how they are excelling, but it can also give you ideas on how you can improve or further set apart your brand.

But be careful to not fall into an imitation trap. Keep your competitive research limited and focus on what your organization brings to the table. Just because a competitor (or two) has branded their company in a certain way doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. New, unique, provocative brands are memorable brands.

5. Use branding to hire.

Strong branding makes your employees proud. I know I’m proud to be part of HubSpot. Leverage your branding to attract talented people. If hiring is a strong initiative for your organization, dedicate some of your resources to employer branding.

Employer branding is how you market your company to job seekers and current employees. If you’re publicly proud of your organization, others will be, too.

Ready, Set, Brand

Branding is your organization’s name, logo, color palette, voice, and imagery. It’s also more. It’s that intangible feeling your customers have when they interact with your brand. You know, that experience we talked about in the beginning.

That’s how powerhouse brands deviate from all the others. The tangible components contribute to this — a gorgeous logo, a clever tagline, an authentic manifesto, and a clear brand voice — but truly strong brands thrive when they focus on the big picture of their brand. Get to the heart and soul of your target audience and your organization, and a successful brand will follow.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

brand consistency

How to do a Website Audit to Improve SEO & Conversions

Website audit reports are the key to giving your site a comprehensive checkup. Maybe you’ve never audited your website before or you have a redesign planned for the future. Whatever your situation, use this post as your go-to website audit checklist.

How strong is your website? Grade it using HubSpot's free Website Grader.

Below, you’ll learn what a website audit is, the different types of audits, and how to use information from an audit to improve your SEO and conversions.

Table of Contents:

Before we dive into the things you should keep an eye out for, let’s review some of the different types of audits you can perform. 

Types of Website Audits

Here are a few common audits among marketers.

1. Competitive Website Audit

A competitive website audit tracks your competitors and their online strategies to help you see what opportunities your brand could be missing out on. Essentially, a competitive audit allows you to see what’s working for other companies in your market so that you can incorporate those tactics into your own strategy.

Start by performing a SWOT analysis on a competitor’s website. In a SWOT analysis, you track the website’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For example:

  • A strength could be that their website is easier to navigate than yours.
  • One weakness could be that their website has slower page loading times.
  • Opportunities could be items or tools missing from their website that you can add to yours to give you an edge.
  • A threat could be that their website ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than your own, resulting in your site losing leads.

During this audit, you also need to consider the tools and software they are using to streamline their processes. This can help you discover new ways to run your site more efficiently and make it more accessible for consumers.

2. SEO Link Audit

This type of audit processes the links pointing to your website to find potential issues or opportunities in your backlink profile. By evaluating your links, this audit will help optimize your site to rank for your target keywords.

Link audits consider the URL source, domain, and anchor text to see if value and equity (called “link juice”) are being passed on to your page. This will gauge how much a link is helping or hurting your website’s visibility in SERPs. Links from well-respected websites are much more valuable than links from smaller, less well-known sites.

To perform an SEO link audit, start by gathering all of your link data. You can do this with Google Search Console by entering your domain and then clicking on “Links to Your Site” under “Search Traffic.”

From there, you can download the latest links and create a link audit spreadsheet. Afterward, you manually evaluate your links by paying attention to factors like anchor text, IP address, and page content.

You can also tools like Ahref’s backlink checker to take the guesswork out of analyzing the value of the links you gathered.

3. Lead Conversion Optimization Audit

A lead conversion optimization audit analyzes a website’s conversion issues and opportunities. In this audit, you’ll need to analyze how traffic is coming to your website and where it’s coming from. 

Google Analytics is an excellent tool for this step. Knowing where your traffic is coming from will help you better understand your audience’s behavior and will help you optimize your site’s content to suit their needs.

Speaking of content, you’ll also need to analyze the content on your website. Make sure the content is helpful, informative, and up-to-date.

Is the latest information about your business uploaded to the site and easily visible? Does your content contain keywords and phrases to boost its ranking in SERPs? Outdated or irrelevant content can hurt conversions and hurt your SERPs ranking.

Other aspects of your website you need to observe are:

  • Forms. Do your forms collect enough information to contact a lead?
  • The checkout process. If you notice a lot of shopping cart abandonment, customers are likely having issues with the checkout process on your website.
  • Design and layout. Are CTAs clear and visible? Is the copy too small and difficult to read? Is the website easy to navigate?
  • Overall user experience. Are there any sources of frustration for visitors to your site?

4. Social Media Audit

Your brand’s online performance can also be impacted by social media. If your social media presence isn’t pushing more traffic to your website, then it’s time to conduct a social media audit.

To start the audit, create a list of all your company’s social media accounts. Do some extra digging to make sure you don’t miss any you’re not aware of, such as accounts started by other departments.

From there, go through each account to determine if they’re all consistent with the company’s branding — using the same images, logo, tone of voice, etc.

Then you’ll need to evaluate each page’s performance. What kind of content performs the highest, and which content type performs the lowest? Are these pages being updated frequently?

Finally, use information from the evaluation to better understand your audience and optimize your social media to engage them. You’ll then be able to update your social media strategy to further delight your audience, more effectively attracting them to your website.

5. SEO Website Audit

While an SEO link audit analyzes the links associated with your website, an SEO website audit evaluates all the factors that can impact your site’s performance in SERPs. This includes links but also extends to other aspects such as keyword usage, content, metadata, page speed, user journey, and video optimization.

It’s possible to conduct an SEO audit on your own but you’ll likely get more thorough answers in less time by employing an agency.

Excellent! Now that you know about a few different audits you can conduct to improve your website, let’s discuss the perks of an audit.

1. You can compare your website to your competitors.

Conducting a website audit will allow you to compare your website to your competitors. You can analyze how well you’re ranking against competitors for keywords and determine potential new sources of revenue.

You can use tools, like HubSpot’s Website Grader, to perform an audit on your competitor’s websites to gather more insights. You can learn how your competitors are attracting visitors and see how they’re garnering conversions.

Ultimately, this will help you brainstorm new tactics and strategies for your site.

2. You can improve your SEO. 

With a website audit, you will be able to identify any missed SEO opportunities and remedy any misguided or poorly executed SEO pitfalls (e.g. keyword stuffing, exact match anchor text links, etc.) throughout the content of your website. One great tool that can help keep your SEO details organized is HubSpot’s Free On-Page SEO Template.

An audit will also allow you to refocus your SEO efforts on users first and search engines second. This will safeguard you from constantly chasing changes to search ranking algorithms, meaning you won’t be applying misguided practices just to show up at the top of the SERPs.

3. You’ll optimize conversion rates. 

Website audits also enable you to re-evaluate the effectiveness of your website in terms of lead generation and conversion. As a result, you’ll be able to spot any previously overlooked opportunities to convert visitors into leads so you can add relevant CTAs, as well as identify deficiencies in your landing pages so you can optimize them to boost conversions.

4. You can optimize your website performance.

Website audits, like the ones mentioned above, usually evaluate a site for its content and technical performance.

As a result, an audit will give you a chance to inspect the robustness of your website’s technical framework and infrastructure. It will also evaluate how friendly your website is to search engines and determine how easy it is for users to navigate your website to find the content they are looking for.

5. You can identify issues early. 

Finally, a website audit finds issues that are hurting your SEO and conversions such as broken links, hidden content, and long page load speed times. Identifying these issues will help you address problems that are diverting traffic.

Assessing both the content and technical aspects of your website will open up opportunities to drastically improve the traffic and conversions your website generates.

Now that you know what a website audit is and why you should do one, let’s look at how to conduct one.

1. Run your website URL through a site audit tool.

Before you get started, you’ll need to find a website auditing tool that can help you analyze how your website is performing. When you use site audit software to run your site through, you can get specific recommendations and test how your page is performing.

2. Find technical errors.

Technical errors like ones related to performance, SEO, mobile, and security, can negatively impact your customers’ experience on your website. If you’re noticing visitors aren’t staying on your site for long, or you’re seeing a lot of abandoned shopping carts — a website audit is a great way to find out why.

3. Identify SEO problems.

Now, you’ll want to look at SEO-related issues so you can improve your ranking on search engines. This will mean looking at meta descriptions, reviewing image alt text, and more.

4. Analyze design and UX.

How is this design working for your customers? Some software has heatmaps of what parts of your design draw the most attention and what users are reading. This type of analysis will let you know how the overall design and user experience are impacting your visitors.

5. Assess website content.

A website audit will help you assess website content including blogs, website pages, etc. You’ll want to know how your current pages are stacking up. Ask yourself, “Is my content ranking well in search engines?” and “Is my on-page SEO and performance aligned with my traffic numbers?”

6. Create a website audit report.

Creating a website audit report that clearly communicates the site issues found (and what to do about them) is an easy job when you have the right tools. There are a number of choices available, and HubSpot’s Website Grader is one of the most user-friendly. It quickly and automatically generates the report by entering the web address you want to have crawled as well as an email address. 

For those with more technical experience, SEMRush’s Site Audit Tool is a very thorough reporting option, but getting started for free does require jumping through a few hoops. You would need to create an account, answer some questions about yourself, and choose to skip a trial in order to create the free audit report. Their in-depth report can look overwhelming unless you’re coming to the game with some technical chops.

Whichever reporting product you choose, it should provide a clear display of important website categories — such as SEO performance and the effectiveness of your security measures — and then list the individual issues along with recommended fixes.

Having a full website audit report in your hands enables you to start making improvements yourself or to efficiently send the information to the appropriate teams within your organization.

Now let’s dive into even more detail so you know what to be checking for in this website audit.

Assessments to Make When Auditing Your Website

First, go ahead and enter your website into HubSpot’s Website Grader — this will give you a general overview of your website’s strengths so you can gauge your focus on each of the assessments that follow in this article.

Website audit report, HubSpot’s website grader

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How’d you do? Got an idea of which website audit benefits you need the most? Here we go.

1. Website Performance Assessment

In the first part of your website audit, you should be focusing on how users navigate your website — from your homepage to blog posts, to landing pages, and any related content in between.

Make a list of the pages on your website and ask yourself the following questions to evaluate them for optimization opportunities:

Is your website optimized for maximum usability?

The more visitors you can attract to your website, the more opportunities you’ll have to generate leads and, ultimately, customers. But only if your website performs well.

Just having a website does not guarantee results. As part of determining the overall efficiency of your website, your audit should check to make sure your site is designed with your visitors in mind.

The design and overall navigability of your website should correspond with what a person would come to the site to seek out, such as more information on a business-related topic, resources, product/pricing information, testimonials, etc. This will largely depend on your individual business.

The main goal here is to make it easy for people to get the information they’re looking for. As a result, you’ll likely see conversion rates improve on their own.

To audit your website for usability, consider the following:

  • Are all the main value propositions of our business easily accessible via our main navigations/menu items?
  • Do we have a simple yet intuitive website design and page layout? Make sure pages aren’t too cluttered; littered with ads, CTAs, or links; or void of internal links altogether.
  • Are your conversion paths and/or shopping cart or checkout processes intuitive? Are there a ton of distractions along the way that could be creating friction for your site visitors?

Consider doing some user testing with members of your target audience to ensure you’re effectively surfacing the content they’re looking for and that they find it easy to navigate to the parts of your website they’re interested in.

How is your website’s overall speed?

Are there excessive page sizes or long page load and server response times? Does your site go down frequently? Site speed can be impacted when image files are too large or HTML and CSS needs to be cleaned up — all of which can drastically improve your site speed.

Ultimately, fast-loading and optimized pages will lead to higher visitor engagement, retention, and conversions. To quickly check a web page’s load time, download MozBar, a toolbar by Moz that you can attach to your browser for simple page analysis every time you visit a website.

2. SEO Assessment

Optimizing the performance of your website is crucial to holding onto visitors, but the above question isn’t the only one you should be asking. You should also audit the content you’re publishing to ensure it’s actually solving your visitors’ problems.

Is Your Website Content High Quality?

As you evaluate your content for quality, think about it from your target audience’s perspective: 

  • Did this information leave me satisfied? <
  • Did it answer all of my questions? 
  • Does it give me all the resources relevant to this topic? 
  • Do I know what to do next?

Keep in mind quality content should appeal to the interests, needs, and problems of your buyer personas. Present them with interesting and well-written content. Always aim to leave the reader with immediately actionable next steps such as calls-to-action or links to resources.

Is Your Website Search Engine Optimized?

Make sure all your web pages are following on-page SEO best practices. To audit your content for on-page SEO, conduct a keyword analysis in which you do the following:

  • Consult your analytics to review keyword performance. Which keywords are giving you the biggest gains in traffic and leads?
  • Assess how well you’re factoring keyword performance into your content strategy. How much relevant content are you adding to your website to target those keywords?
  • Review basic on-page SEO elements like URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, and copy. Make sure keywords are included where relevant.

To help you conduct an on-page SEO audit of your content, read The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO, which also includes a free downloadable on-page SEO template to keep you on track.

3. Conversion Rate Assessment

While high-quality, search-engine-optimized content is a great way to boost your traffic numbers, it’s what happens once those visitors are on your website that really counts.

This is where optimized calls-to-action (CTAs), marketing offers, and landing pages play a major role in the performance of your website. Not only do they offer you opportunities to capture visitors’ information so you can follow up with leads, but they also keep your visitors engaged with your content and your brand.

To audit your website for maximum conversion potential, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many marketing offers do I have in my content arsenal to gate behind landing pages?
  • Do I have a variety of marketing offers that appeal to all my different buyer personas?
  • Do I have any landing pages/conversion forms on my website to begin with?
  • How optimized are those landing pages?
  • Do I have conversion opportunities for visitors in varying stages of the funnel?
  • Am I using CTAs effectively? Am I missing opportunities to include CTAs on various pages of my website?

Learn more about CTA selection to optimize the CTAs on your website.

4. Technical Assessment

Once you’ve addressed the three primary goals of a website audit, it’s time to loop in a developer or someone from your IT department for a technical evaluation. You could also hire an outside agency — just be sure to do your homework first.

Keep in mind that there may be some carry-over from the three assessments above — website performance, SEO, and conversion rate. The technical evaluation, however, addresses all three to maximize the user experience (UX).

Here’s what you should be looking for in the technical assessment stage of your website audit.

Is your website design responsive?

Does your website have a responsive design? Meaning, is it a mobile-friendly website? The usage of smartphones to access the internet is only growing. As a result, websites must be compatible with that growing demand.

Here’s more on mobile compatibility if this is an area you need to improve in.

Is your website error message free?

Are response code errors popping up all over your website where there shouldn’t be any? Calling out 302-, 404-, and 500-level response codes can be useful to tell users that something’s wrong.

However, having this happen is also an indication that someone isn’t cleaning up broken links and, as a result, leading users to dead ends. Find those error messages and clean up your broken links. Tools like Google’s Webmaster Tools or Xenu’s Link Sleuth can be very helpful for this.

Are your website URLs optimized?

Does your site have URLs of excessive length due to keyword stuffing? Do they contain session IDs and/or include tons of dynamic parameters? In some cases, these URLs are difficult for search engines to index, resulting in lower clickthrough rates from search results.

Does your website have too much Flash or JavaScript?

Identify areas of your navigation that are entirely Flash or JavaScript. Search engines have challenges with reading and accessing these, which could prevent your site from getting indexed.

These elements also present problems from a usability perspective. Visitors are often looking for a very specific piece of information when visiting your site. If they have to sit through a 10-second visual introduction before they can find your hours of operation, you’re going to have a pretty frustrated visitor on your hands.

Is your site structure optimized for search engines?

We already talked about site structure as it relates to accessing content and usability for users, but it’s also important to make sure your site structure is optimal for search engines. If pages on your site are not internally linked to other pages on your site, those pages are less likely to be indexed.

Are you defining how your web pages are crawled and indexed by search engines?

This can be done through various methods that include everything from robots files and tags to sitemaps. These tools help you guide search engines toward your website’s most useful content.

Robots Files or Tags

The robot meta tag lets you use a granular, page-specific approach to controlling how an individual page should be indexed and served to users in search results. These tags should sit in the <head> section of a given page.

The robots.txt file, on the other hand, is a text file that allows you to specify how you would like your site to be crawled. Before crawling a website, search engine crawlers will generally request the robots.txt file from a server. Within the robots.txt file, you can include sections for specific (or all) crawlers with instructions (“directives”) that let them know which parts should or should not be crawled.

Public and XML Sitemaps

Your website should also have public and XML sitemap files. The public sitemap is one that users can access to review the pages of your site, like the index of a book.

The XML sitemap is for search engines to review pages that get added to your site, all in one place. The usual location of a sitemap.xml file is https://ift.tt/5ZKFflw. 

The XML sitemap is something every website should have. It offers an opportunity to tell Google and the other search engines which pages on your site you want to be crawled and indexed.

While search engines don’t guarantee they will abide by your sitemap, anecdotal evidence has proven time and time again that XML sitemaps help provide insurance that your pages are found, and found faster — especially if your sitemap(s) dynamically update your new web pages.

Are you defining the canonicalization of content?

The canonicalization of your website content is your final major technical consideration. To gain more control over how your URLs appear in search results — and to minimize issues related to duplicate content — you need to pick a canonical (preferred) URL as the preferred version of the page.

You can indicate your preference to Google in a number of ways. One such way is to insert the canonical tag (rel=”canonical”) in an HTTP header of a page. Be sure to have someone check that the canonical tag is properly implemented across the site by making sure it points to the correct page, and that >every page doesn’t point to the homepage.

Website Auditing Checklist

Before you get started, you might consider using this basic website auditing checklist to ensure you review all the necessary elements of your site’s performance, SEO, mobile, and security issues.

website audit report checklist

Website Audit Example

To pull all this together, I decided to run a website audit on one of my favorite bloggers, Christina Galbato.

This website is performing well. SEO and Mobile are scoring very highly. The main areas for improvement for this site would be performance and security.

website audit report, score

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You might be asking yourself, “What does that mean?” Well, let’s dive in a little deeper.

In each section, the website grader will let you know what you’re doing well and what you could improve on. 

Then, the grader gives recommendations to improve your site overall. 

website audit report, suggestions

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Next, you’ll see a table to compare your current site to the recommendations.

website audit report, what to do next

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Wrapping Up Your Website Audit

The last step is to prioritize and then perform the changes that are most critical to meeting your goals.

At the beginning of your auditing process you asked the important questions: “How am I doing?” and “How does my website compare to those of my competitors?”

As you wrap up your audit, you’ll know the answers to those questions and have actionable steps for improving your website — making it more competitive.

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

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  

 

How to do a Website Audit to Improve SEO & Conversions

Website audit reports are the key to giving your site a comprehensive checkup. Maybe you’ve never audited your website before or you have a redesign planned for the future. Whatever your situation, use this post as your go-to website audit checklist.

How strong is your website? Grade it using HubSpot's free Website Grader.

Below, you’ll learn what a website audit is, the different types of audits, and how to use information from an audit to improve your SEO and conversions.

Table of Contents:

Before we dive into the things you should keep an eye out for, let’s review some of the different types of audits you can perform. 

Types of Website Audits

Here are a few common audits among marketers.

1. Competitive Website Audit

A competitive website audit tracks your competitors and their online strategies to help you see what opportunities your brand could be missing out on. Essentially, a competitive audit allows you to see what’s working for other companies in your market so that you can incorporate those tactics into your own strategy.

Start by performing a SWOT analysis on a competitor’s website. In a SWOT analysis, you track the website’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For example:

  • A strength could be that their website is easier to navigate than yours.
  • One weakness could be that their website has slower page loading times.
  • Opportunities could be items or tools missing from their website that you can add to yours to give you an edge.
  • A threat could be that their website ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than your own, resulting in your site losing leads.

During this audit, you also need to consider the tools and software they are using to streamline their processes. This can help you discover new ways to run your site more efficiently and make it more accessible for consumers.

2. SEO Link Audit

This type of audit processes the links pointing to your website to find potential issues or opportunities in your backlink profile. By evaluating your links, this audit will help optimize your site to rank for your target keywords.

Link audits consider the URL source, domain, and anchor text to see if value and equity (called “link juice”) are being passed on to your page. This will gauge how much a link is helping or hurting your website’s visibility in SERPs. Links from well-respected websites are much more valuable than links from smaller, less well-known sites.

To perform an SEO link audit, start by gathering all of your link data. You can do this with Google Search Console by entering your domain and then clicking on “Links to Your Site” under “Search Traffic.”

From there, you can download the latest links and create a link audit spreadsheet. Afterward, you manually evaluate your links by paying attention to factors like anchor text, IP address, and page content.

You can also tools like Ahref’s backlink checker to take the guesswork out of analyzing the value of the links you gathered.

3. Lead Conversion Optimization Audit

A lead conversion optimization audit analyzes a website’s conversion issues and opportunities. In this audit, you’ll need to analyze how traffic is coming to your website and where it’s coming from. 

Google Analytics is an excellent tool for this step. Knowing where your traffic is coming from will help you better understand your audience’s behavior and will help you optimize your site’s content to suit their needs.

Speaking of content, you’ll also need to analyze the content on your website. Make sure the content is helpful, informative, and up-to-date.

Is the latest information about your business uploaded to the site and easily visible? Does your content contain keywords and phrases to boost its ranking in SERPs? Outdated or irrelevant content can hurt conversions and hurt your SERPs ranking.

Other aspects of your website you need to observe are:

  • Forms. Do your forms collect enough information to contact a lead?
  • The checkout process. If you notice a lot of shopping cart abandonment, customers are likely having issues with the checkout process on your website.
  • Design and layout. Are CTAs clear and visible? Is the copy too small and difficult to read? Is the website easy to navigate?
  • Overall user experience. Are there any sources of frustration for visitors to your site?

4. Social Media Audit

Your brand’s online performance can also be impacted by social media. If your social media presence isn’t pushing more traffic to your website, then it’s time to conduct a social media audit.

To start the audit, create a list of all your company’s social media accounts. Do some extra digging to make sure you don’t miss any you’re not aware of, such as accounts started by other departments.

From there, go through each account to determine if they’re all consistent with the company’s branding — using the same images, logo, tone of voice, etc.

Then you’ll need to evaluate each page’s performance. What kind of content performs the highest, and which content type performs the lowest? Are these pages being updated frequently?

Finally, use information from the evaluation to better understand your audience and optimize your social media to engage them. You’ll then be able to update your social media strategy to further delight your audience, more effectively attracting them to your website.

5. SEO Website Audit

While an SEO link audit analyzes the links associated with your website, an SEO website audit evaluates all the factors that can impact your site’s performance in SERPs. This includes links but also extends to other aspects such as keyword usage, content, metadata, page speed, user journey, and video optimization.

It’s possible to conduct an SEO audit on your own but you’ll likely get more thorough answers in less time by employing an agency.

Excellent! Now that you know about a few different audits you can conduct to improve your website, let’s discuss the perks of an audit.

1. You can compare your website to your competitors.

Conducting a website audit will allow you to compare your website to your competitors. You can analyze how well you’re ranking against competitors for keywords and determine potential new sources of revenue.

You can use tools, like HubSpot’s Website Grader, to perform an audit on your competitor’s websites to gather more insights. You can learn how your competitors are attracting visitors and see how they’re garnering conversions.

Ultimately, this will help you brainstorm new tactics and strategies for your site.

2. You can improve your SEO. 

With a website audit, you will be able to identify any missed SEO opportunities and remedy any misguided or poorly executed SEO pitfalls (e.g. keyword stuffing, exact match anchor text links, etc.) throughout the content of your website. One great tool that can help keep your SEO details organized is HubSpot’s Free On-Page SEO Template.

An audit will also allow you to refocus your SEO efforts on users first and search engines second. This will safeguard you from constantly chasing changes to search ranking algorithms, meaning you won’t be applying misguided practices just to show up at the top of the SERPs.

3. You’ll optimize conversion rates. 

Website audits also enable you to re-evaluate the effectiveness of your website in terms of lead generation and conversion. As a result, you’ll be able to spot any previously overlooked opportunities to convert visitors into leads so you can add relevant CTAs, as well as identify deficiencies in your landing pages so you can optimize them to boost conversions.

4. You can optimize your website performance.

Website audits, like the ones mentioned above, usually evaluate a site for its content and technical performance.

As a result, an audit will give you a chance to inspect the robustness of your website’s technical framework and infrastructure. It will also evaluate how friendly your website is to search engines and determine how easy it is for users to navigate your website to find the content they are looking for.

5. You can identify issues early. 

Finally, a website audit finds issues that are hurting your SEO and conversions such as broken links, hidden content, and long page load speed times. Identifying these issues will help you address problems that are diverting traffic.

Assessing both the content and technical aspects of your website will open up opportunities to drastically improve the traffic and conversions your website generates.

Now that you know what a website audit is and why you should do one, let’s look at how to conduct one.

1. Run your website URL through a site audit tool.

Before you get started, you’ll need to find a website auditing tool that can help you analyze how your website is performing. When you use site audit software to run your site through, you can get specific recommendations and test how your page is performing.

2. Find technical errors.

Technical errors like ones related to performance, SEO, mobile, and security, can negatively impact your customers’ experience on your website. If you’re noticing visitors aren’t staying on your site for long, or you’re seeing a lot of abandoned shopping carts — a website audit is a great way to find out why.

3. Identify SEO problems.

Now, you’ll want to look at SEO-related issues so you can improve your ranking on search engines. This will mean looking at meta descriptions, reviewing image alt text, and more.

4. Analyze design and UX.

How is this design working for your customers? Some software has heatmaps of what parts of your design draw the most attention and what users are reading. This type of analysis will let you know how the overall design and user experience are impacting your visitors.

5. Assess website content.

A website audit will help you assess website content including blogs, website pages, etc. You’ll want to know how your current pages are stacking up. Ask yourself, “Is my content ranking well in search engines?” and “Is my on-page SEO and performance aligned with my traffic numbers?”

6. Create a website audit report.

Creating a website audit report that clearly communicates the site issues found (and what to do about them) is an easy job when you have the right tools. There are a number of choices available, and HubSpot’s Website Grader is one of the most user-friendly. It quickly and automatically generates the report by entering the web address you want to have crawled as well as an email address. 

For those with more technical experience, SEMRush’s Site Audit Tool is a very thorough reporting option, but getting started for free does require jumping through a few hoops. You would need to create an account, answer some questions about yourself, and choose to skip a trial in order to create the free audit report. Their in-depth report can look overwhelming unless you’re coming to the game with some technical chops.

Whichever reporting product you choose, it should provide a clear display of important website categories — such as SEO performance and the effectiveness of your security measures — and then list the individual issues along with recommended fixes.

Having a full website audit report in your hands enables you to start making improvements yourself or to efficiently send the information to the appropriate teams within your organization.

Now let’s dive into even more detail so you know what to be checking for in this website audit.

Assessments to Make When Auditing Your Website

First, go ahead and enter your website into HubSpot’s Website Grader — this will give you a general overview of your website’s strengths so you can gauge your focus on each of the assessments that follow in this article.

Website audit report, HubSpot’s website grader

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How’d you do? Got an idea of which website audit benefits you need the most? Here we go.

1. Website Performance Assessment

In the first part of your website audit, you should be focusing on how users navigate your website — from your homepage to blog posts, to landing pages, and any related content in between.

Make a list of the pages on your website and ask yourself the following questions to evaluate them for optimization opportunities:

Is your website optimized for maximum usability?

The more visitors you can attract to your website, the more opportunities you’ll have to generate leads and, ultimately, customers. But only if your website performs well.

Just having a website does not guarantee results. As part of determining the overall efficiency of your website, your audit should check to make sure your site is designed with your visitors in mind.

The design and overall navigability of your website should correspond with what a person would come to the site to seek out, such as more information on a business-related topic, resources, product/pricing information, testimonials, etc. This will largely depend on your individual business.

The main goal here is to make it easy for people to get the information they’re looking for. As a result, you’ll likely see conversion rates improve on their own.

To audit your website for usability, consider the following:

  • Are all the main value propositions of our business easily accessible via our main navigations/menu items?
  • Do we have a simple yet intuitive website design and page layout? Make sure pages aren’t too cluttered; littered with ads, CTAs, or links; or void of internal links altogether.
  • Are your conversion paths and/or shopping cart or checkout processes intuitive? Are there a ton of distractions along the way that could be creating friction for your site visitors?

Consider doing some user testing with members of your target audience to ensure you’re effectively surfacing the content they’re looking for and that they find it easy to navigate to the parts of your website they’re interested in.

How is your website’s overall speed?

Are there excessive page sizes or long page load and server response times? Does your site go down frequently? Site speed can be impacted when image files are too large or HTML and CSS needs to be cleaned up — all of which can drastically improve your site speed.

Ultimately, fast-loading and optimized pages will lead to higher visitor engagement, retention, and conversions. To quickly check a web page’s load time, download MozBar, a toolbar by Moz that you can attach to your browser for simple page analysis every time you visit a website.

2. SEO Assessment

Optimizing the performance of your website is crucial to holding onto visitors, but the above question isn’t the only one you should be asking. You should also audit the content you’re publishing to ensure it’s actually solving your visitors’ problems.

Is Your Website Content High Quality?

As you evaluate your content for quality, think about it from your target audience’s perspective: 

  • Did this information leave me satisfied? <
  • Did it answer all of my questions? 
  • Does it give me all the resources relevant to this topic? 
  • Do I know what to do next?

Keep in mind quality content should appeal to the interests, needs, and problems of your buyer personas. Present them with interesting and well-written content. Always aim to leave the reader with immediately actionable next steps such as calls-to-action or links to resources.

Is Your Website Search Engine Optimized?

Make sure all your web pages are following on-page SEO best practices. To audit your content for on-page SEO, conduct a keyword analysis in which you do the following:

  • Consult your analytics to review keyword performance. Which keywords are giving you the biggest gains in traffic and leads?
  • Assess how well you’re factoring keyword performance into your content strategy. How much relevant content are you adding to your website to target those keywords?
  • Review basic on-page SEO elements like URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, and copy. Make sure keywords are included where relevant.

To help you conduct an on-page SEO audit of your content, read The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO, which also includes a free downloadable on-page SEO template to keep you on track.

3. Conversion Rate Assessment

While high-quality, search-engine-optimized content is a great way to boost your traffic numbers, it’s what happens once those visitors are on your website that really counts.

This is where optimized calls-to-action (CTAs), marketing offers, and landing pages play a major role in the performance of your website. Not only do they offer you opportunities to capture visitors’ information so you can follow up with leads, but they also keep your visitors engaged with your content and your brand.

To audit your website for maximum conversion potential, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many marketing offers do I have in my content arsenal to gate behind landing pages?
  • Do I have a variety of marketing offers that appeal to all my different buyer personas?
  • Do I have any landing pages/conversion forms on my website to begin with?
  • How optimized are those landing pages?
  • Do I have conversion opportunities for visitors in varying stages of the funnel?
  • Am I using CTAs effectively? Am I missing opportunities to include CTAs on various pages of my website?

Learn more about CTA selection to optimize the CTAs on your website.

4. Technical Assessment

Once you’ve addressed the three primary goals of a website audit, it’s time to loop in a developer or someone from your IT department for a technical evaluation. You could also hire an outside agency — just be sure to do your homework first.

Keep in mind that there may be some carry-over from the three assessments above — website performance, SEO, and conversion rate. The technical evaluation, however, addresses all three to maximize the user experience (UX).

Here’s what you should be looking for in the technical assessment stage of your website audit.

Is your website design responsive?

Does your website have a responsive design? Meaning, is it a mobile-friendly website? The usage of smartphones to access the internet is only growing. As a result, websites must be compatible with that growing demand.

Here’s more on mobile compatibility if this is an area you need to improve in.

Is your website error message free?

Are response code errors popping up all over your website where there shouldn’t be any? Calling out 302-, 404-, and 500-level response codes can be useful to tell users that something’s wrong.

However, having this happen is also an indication that someone isn’t cleaning up broken links and, as a result, leading users to dead ends. Find those error messages and clean up your broken links. Tools like Google’s Webmaster Tools or Xenu’s Link Sleuth can be very helpful for this.

Are your website URLs optimized?

Does your site have URLs of excessive length due to keyword stuffing? Do they contain session IDs and/or include tons of dynamic parameters? In some cases, these URLs are difficult for search engines to index, resulting in lower clickthrough rates from search results.

Does your website have too much Flash or JavaScript?

Identify areas of your navigation that are entirely Flash or JavaScript. Search engines have challenges with reading and accessing these, which could prevent your site from getting indexed.

These elements also present problems from a usability perspective. Visitors are often looking for a very specific piece of information when visiting your site. If they have to sit through a 10-second visual introduction before they can find your hours of operation, you’re going to have a pretty frustrated visitor on your hands.

Is your site structure optimized for search engines?

We already talked about site structure as it relates to accessing content and usability for users, but it’s also important to make sure your site structure is optimal for search engines. If pages on your site are not internally linked to other pages on your site, those pages are less likely to be indexed.

Are you defining how your web pages are crawled and indexed by search engines?

This can be done through various methods that include everything from robots files and tags to sitemaps. These tools help you guide search engines toward your website’s most useful content.

Robots Files or Tags

The robot meta tag lets you use a granular, page-specific approach to controlling how an individual page should be indexed and served to users in search results. These tags should sit in the <head> section of a given page.

The robots.txt file, on the other hand, is a text file that allows you to specify how you would like your site to be crawled. Before crawling a website, search engine crawlers will generally request the robots.txt file from a server. Within the robots.txt file, you can include sections for specific (or all) crawlers with instructions (“directives”) that let them know which parts should or should not be crawled.

Public and XML Sitemaps

Your website should also have public and XML sitemap files. The public sitemap is one that users can access to review the pages of your site, like the index of a book.

The XML sitemap is for search engines to review pages that get added to your site, all in one place. The usual location of a sitemap.xml file is https://ift.tt/5qxYSOX. 

The XML sitemap is something every website should have. It offers an opportunity to tell Google and the other search engines which pages on your site you want to be crawled and indexed.

While search engines don’t guarantee they will abide by your sitemap, anecdotal evidence has proven time and time again that XML sitemaps help provide insurance that your pages are found, and found faster — especially if your sitemap(s) dynamically update your new web pages.

Are you defining the canonicalization of content?

The canonicalization of your website content is your final major technical consideration. To gain more control over how your URLs appear in search results — and to minimize issues related to duplicate content — you need to pick a canonical (preferred) URL as the preferred version of the page.

You can indicate your preference to Google in a number of ways. One such way is to insert the canonical tag (rel=”canonical”) in an HTTP header of a page. Be sure to have someone check that the canonical tag is properly implemented across the site by making sure it points to the correct page, and that >every page doesn’t point to the homepage.

Website Auditing Checklist

Before you get started, you might consider using this basic website auditing checklist to ensure you review all the necessary elements of your site’s performance, SEO, mobile, and security issues.

website audit report checklist

Website Audit Example

To pull all this together, I decided to run a website audit on one of my favorite bloggers, Christina Galbato.

This website is performing well. SEO and Mobile are scoring very highly. The main areas for improvement for this site would be performance and security.

website audit report, score

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You might be asking yourself, “What does that mean?” Well, let’s dive in a little deeper.

In each section, the website grader will let you know what you’re doing well and what you could improve on. 

Then, the grader gives recommendations to improve your site overall. 

website audit report, suggestions

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Next, you’ll see a table to compare your current site to the recommendations.

website audit report, what to do next

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Wrapping Up Your Website Audit

The last step is to prioritize and then perform the changes that are most critical to meeting your goals.

At the beginning of your auditing process you asked the important questions: “How am I doing?” and “How does my website compare to those of my competitors?”

As you wrap up your audit, you’ll know the answers to those questions and have actionable steps for improving your website — making it more competitive.

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

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  

 

Google Docs Resume Templates: 10 Best Templates to Land Your Next Job

Creating a resume from scratch can be frustrating and tedious, especially when you have limited design experience. If you want a professional but interesting-looking resume, you’re in luck. In this article, we’ll explore different Google Doc resume templates you can use to nab your next job.

10 Google Doc Resume Templates

1. Swiss

2. Serif

3. Coral

4. Spearmint

5. Modern Writer

6. The Muse’s Resume Template

7. ResuStudio’s Google Docs Resume Template

8. Canvas Resume Template

9. Geometric Resume Template

10. ResumeGenius’ Chicago Resume Template

→ Download Now: 12 Resume Templates [Free Download]

10 Google Doc Resume Templates

Google Docs offers five templates with impressive design elements to help you portray professionalism and originality in your resume. These templates are included in this list, as well as five additional templates from other sources that you can easily edit in Google Docs.

Even if you have the design all set, these templates provide formatting inspiration and fill-in-the-blank sections to ensure you don’t forget critical information, like your address or prior awards.

Take a look at these Google Doc resume templates to choose one best suited for your desired role or to get some inspiration before designing your own.

1. Swiss

The Swiss resume template is primarily traditional in style, but the color and bold lines make it appear more modern and impressive. The dark lines above and below each segment organize your sections effectively, and the small lines above each section title add some unique style.

What We Like: The simple color right below your name suggests you’re someone who pays attention to detail. This template is a solid option if you need a resume for a conservative role but also want to showcase some personality.

2. Serif

The colors used for each headline and the two parallel columns with plenty of white space in between suggest that you’re organized and creative. This resume template is a good option for high school or recent college graduates with less work experience since the template provides categories to showcase accolades and accomplishments outside the workplace.

What We Like: This template allows young professionals to make up for their limited experience by highlighting their awards and projects.

3. Coral

The formatting, with all the information left-indented in one column, looks clean and straightforward. This option is ideal if you’re applying for a corporate job but want to seem fresh and unique.

What We Like: The color used in the coral template isn’t overbearing or immature but still spices up an otherwise basic resume.

4. Spearmint

With the bold green line at the top of the page, this template conveys someone who’s spirited and artistic. Spearmint is a fantastic option for anyone applying for a creative role, such as a web designer or creative director.

What We Like: The consistency of the title colors is appealing and polished.

5. Modern Writer

You’ll only want to choose the statement-making Modern Writer as your template if you’ve got a good reason for it — for instance, if you’re applying for a web developer role, the font (which looks a bit like code) makes sense. The bold pink and Source Code Pro font are less ideal for a traditional role, but Modern Writer is a good option if you’re applying for a role that applauds uniqueness.

What We Like: The code-like font is a clever and unique touch that will capture the attention of recruiters.

6. The Muse’s Resume Template

The Muse made its own resume template on Google Docs for users to plug their information into. The template is very straightforward and shows users exactly what information they should plug in and where in the template it should go.

the muse resume

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What We Like: The blue heading font is an eye-catcher.

7. ResuStudio’s Google Docs Resume Template

If you’re willing to pay a few extra dollars for a sleek, classy, and professional resume template, then ResuStudio’s template may be perfect for you. This template is also available in two pages for those further along in their career.

ResuStudio Template (1)

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Pro Tip: Make sure to remove the “References” section — employers know they can ask for references if interested, so a section like that only wastes valuable space.

8. Canvas Resume Template

This template neatly divides each section of your resume, making it easy for a recruiter or employer’s eye to follow along and read. This resume is excellent for anyone applying to a job at an office that is professional but enjoys a bit of creativity.

canva resume template (1)

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What We Like: This template is well-organized and includes a section to highlight any awards you received throughout your career.

9. Geometric Resume Template

This resume is clean, organized, and sure to make you stand out. Its distinct technical look is excellent for job seekers applying for opportunities in tech.

geometric template

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Pro Tip: While the pink and purple font colors combined with the geometric patterns make for a unique resume, it’s important to remember that these features can disrupt ATS scanners.

10. Chicago Resume Template

Sometimes less is more, and choosing to forgo bright colors and unique patterns can make it easier for employers to focus on the actual content of your resume. This resume may be your best option if you’re applying to a traditional office position or a Fortune 500 company.

simple resume

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What We Like:This resume’s simple design gives ample space to flaunt your experience, especially if you’re a seasoned professional with a long career.

You’re ready to create an excellent resume to get your next big gig. Good luck with your job search!

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What is an Advertorial? 8 Examples to Help You Write One

Have you ever read a post that you knew was an advertisement, but it was so interesting that you felt delighted anyway? Chances are that particular piece of content was an advertorial. In this article, we’re going to define what an advertorial is and how it can be an excellent marketing choice for you and your team.

→ Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post Templates

What is an advertorial?

Benefits of Advertorial Marketing

Advertorial vs. Editorial

How to Write an Advertorial

Advertorial Examples

A good advertorial doesn’t clearly state that an advertiser made the post in the copy, but it also doesn’t hide that fact. An advertorial should provide the same high-quality content as a blog post or video but give a spotlight to the product being advertised.

For example, let’s say I’m on the marketing team for a company that offers social media services, and I’m in charge of writing an advertorial. I might write a listicle that talks about the top social media tools in the marketing industry and include my company’s software somewhere in the list.

This approach accomplishes promoting my company’s services but also provides valuable information to readers about other tools, like an editorial piece. Advertorials can be used as a valuable marketing technique for visibility and conversion, so let’s explore that next.

Benefits of Advertorial Marketing

In an advertorial, you’re using a marketing technique that’s often used for brand exposure, conversion, and lead generation. Here’s how:

1. You can convert leads.

If you have blog post ideas relating to your industry, consider sourcing out a publication interested in advertorials for your industry. For instance, if you run an eCommerce technology business, you’ll want to consider a publication like TechCrunch, which specializes in all things technology and commerce.

Your advertorial would be shown to audiences that are the most interested in your industry, so you can increase exposure to the right people. This method can convert quite a few leads.

2. Advertorials build brand awareness.

An advertorial can be an excellent investment if you want to build brand awareness with paid ads but are looking to advance your efforts past social media or TV ads. An advertorial post, unlike ads, is paid for less often but has the potential to be found by readers long after the publish date.

If you pay for an advertorial, you won’t have to keep paying to boost its visibility, like you would with other ads. Instead, you can earn organic traffic continuously with an advertorial post.

3. Retarget your existing customers.

When an advertorial is posted, how can you fit it into your content plan to provide value to your existing customers?

If your advertorial is a filmed interview with an industry thought leader, and your customers respond really well to video. You can post the advertorial on your social media accounts and boost the fact that you partnered with a publication to bring a new video to your audience.

Similarly, you can embed the advertorial into your email list. Your email subscribers are likely devoted customers, so sharing the post with that audience is most likely going to earn you some traffic.

Encouraging your customers to share the post on social media and tag your company is a great way to increase brand awareness online, promote your advertorial, and gain user-generated content from your audience. User-generated content is a fantastic content idea that gives a voice to satisfied customers to market your product from their point of view.

So, now you know the many ways an advertorial can benefit your brand. Now, let’s talk about writing an advertorial.

Advertorial vs. Editorial

Just like there are multiple ways to market products, there are multiple ways to create an advertorial. Ultimately, how you structure your advertorial is dependent on the brand voices of your company and the publication for which you’re writing.

If your brand voice is more formal, but you’re writing for a publication that uses a less-formal tone, blend the two harmoniously so your advertorial can speak to both audiences. (Alternatively, perhaps your target audience for this campaign supports a change of tone, which is 100% okay).

To make sure you write an effective advertorial that doesn’t sound too much like a blog post or too much like an ad, follow these tips:

1. Write for value, not to promote.

Your advertorial should include valuable copy. You don’t need to write a blatant ad for your product or company. Instead, advertorials should take the tone of a blog post.

Blog posts are meant to provide information that audiences can find value in. So, when you sit down to create the concept of your advertorial, think about how you can serve your target audience with educational content first.

Maybe your campaign goal is to increase the visibility of your new product. If that’s the case, think of writing a listicle that mentions competitive products and includes yours at the top. This provides valuable information to audiences you’re interested in, as well as the other way around.

2. Stick to what your title says.

When your advertorial pitch gets accepted by a publication, or after you’ve written a draft, read it for continuity: Does your advertorial accomplish what you said it would in the title?

For instance, if your post title is “Marketing Tips for a Team of One,” but you spend the advertorial talking about how wonderful your marketing agency is at building brand awareness, your post is going to sound more like a product page.

It’s important to align the information in your article with your title so readers know what they’re getting into. Additionally, you won’t lose credibility for false advertising, and you can be sure you’re serving your audience.

3. Solve for the customer.

Serving audiences should be one of your top priorities with an advertorial. Yes, advertorials help your company out, but ultimately, solving for the customer generates new ones.

Advertorials aren’t a chance for you to shout out how your company solves all of the challenges presented in your advertorial. Instead, this is a chance for you to reach a new audience with high-quality content.

If you want to place an ad for your company in tandem with an advertorial, discuss the possibility with the publisher. You may be able to purchase ad space that will separate the purposes of your content.

4. Inspire action.

Remember, your advertorial should still be some sort of an advertisement, and, with all ads, you should inspire action by the end of the post.

Instead of including a huge CTA button, weave action into the narrative of your advertorial. For example, if you are going to write one about your latest data report, include a link to read it or a screenshot of a compelling part of the report that links to the content offer for it.

Similarly, you can make an interactive advertorial, like a quiz, that tests your readers’ knowledge about the subject, then provide a resource where they can learn more about the subject by accessing one of your offers.

5. Avoid only talking about your company.

To ensure your advertorial doesn’t take the form of a long-form ad, avoid only talking about your company.

Even if your content includes a quiz, you can have a couple of the questions mention competitors and how they fit into the lives of your customers.

Similarly, if you’re writing a “How-to” guide, when you include your company as a resource, be sure to mention another option or two. To diversify your content, add value to the reader, and show your knowledge of the industry, mentioning other brands in the post is key.

6. Delight your readers with exceptional content.

An advertorial is a good chance to try something new to delight your customers — for instance, maybe include animations instead of photos, emojis instead of text, or even a different style of writing that’s different from your typical brand voice.

The chance to participate in something new will engage with those leads. If you’re writing for the needs of your audience, you want them to feel like their experience reading your advertorial was a delightful one.

You can also try out some new optimization techniques. You can create a content offer that’s specific to a campaign. You can experiment here and cater to new leads with your piece.

Now that you have some tips about how to create an advertorial, let’s go over some examples you can refer to if you get stuck writing, formatting, or finalizing your post.

Advertorial Examples

If you’re wondering about the effectiveness of your advertorial, we’re going check out these examples to get an idea of how to make one that’s stunning.

1. Adobe x New York Times

Adobe partnered with the New York Times to produce a paid post about virtual shopping. The advertorial provided insight into virtual shopping trends using statistics and in-depth research studies. Adobe used the advertorial to promote its brand while also giving valuable information readers can use when shopping online.

advertorial by Adobe in partnership with the New York TimesImage Source

2. Metro Parent x Alpine Academy

Metro Parent is an online community giving parenting advice, support, and stories on trending topics and issues. Alpine Academy wrote an article for Metro Parent explaining the benefits attending of attending the school. Thought the advertorial is clearly an ad for Alpine Academy it also provides helpful information about what children need in a healthy educational environment.

metro parent

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3. Ikea x The Telegraph

Ikea advertises itself on The Telegraph website via a quiz that teaches readers how to have a sound sleep at night. To take the quiz, click here.

ikea x the telegraph

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4. Cole Haan x Forbes

Forbes runs a series on their website called BrandVoice, which is a series dedicated to expert advice from marketers. This BrandVoice in particular is an advertorial from footwear company, Cole Haan, about exploring creativity:Cole Haan Advertorial Forbes

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At the top of this post is a banner ad for Cole Haan. Putting this ad at the top of the post, rather than the body, reinforces that the post is an advertisement, but doesn’t make the copy suffer for it.This advertorial supports balancing your mind, and moving productively inside your home. While the post itself doesn’t mention the words “Cole Haan,” or promote the company’s products, the content still relates to the concept of moving your feet, which aligns with what the company sells.

If you want your advertorial copy to be a little more low-key, but still include an advertisement for your post somewhere on the webpage, think about adding in a paid ad, similar to Cole Haan’s.

5. Sapphire x Thrillist

Sapphire is a credit card rewards card offered by Chase Bank. Cardholders can earn points and rewards based on how much they spend at restaurants using the card. This advertorial gives a spotlight to must-try restaurants, in efforts to get readers thinking about how to use the Sapphire card:Thrillist x Sapphire advertorial

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This advertorial shows how a listicle doesn’t need to include your product to be successful. Instead, you can write about keywords that reflect your company or industry. As long as the advertorial supports your company in some way, it’s still effective.What’s great about this advertorial is that it takes an intriguing angle. Diving into restaurants that offer unique and futuristic food is an exciting topic. And, in keeping in line with Thrillist’s laid-back, friendly brand voice, the post’s language isn’t as formal.

6. Captain Morgan x BuzzFeed

Similar to the last example, this advertorial for Captain Morgan, an alcohol company, is a listicle from BuzzFeed Germany (Non-native speakers have the option to translate the page). What’s not similar to the last example is that this advertorial mentions the company and its products by name. Even so, this advertorial provides valuable information to the reader, so the advertorial is still effective.

The advertorial’s structure and copy make it an engaging, helpful read, even though it mentions the product more than once. It contains drink recipes that you can make at home, along with pictures to use as a guide:Captain Morgan Advertorial on BuzzFeed

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Recipes, along with guided pictures and ingredients, accomplishes two things. First, it gives plenty of ideas for fans of Captain Morgan, who may already have the products mentioned, but need inspiration for what to do with it. A simple Google query like “recipes with Captain Morgan” would bring the fan to this BuzzFeed advertorial.

This post can also catch the eyes of readers who want simple rum recipes to try out and need inspiration. It gives enough recipe variations to spark inspiration, and capitalizes on the seasonality, since this post went up during a summer month.

7. Love Beauty Planet x The New York Times

Sustainability is a big focus for beauty company, Love Beauty Planet. One of the company’s values is to produce their products ethically and with recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint. This emphasis on going green is the focus for the company’s advertorial that was featured in The New York Times:Love Beauty and Planet Advertorial

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Creating an advertorial that’s a little more interactive than a text-only blog post is a strategy you could use to make your advertorial more engaging. If your quiz is shorter, like Love Beauty Planet’s, you can provide valuable, actionable takeaways at the end, to keep your brand in the reader’s mind as they implement the tips. This editorial is an interactive one, which first quizzes the reader’s knowledge of recycling and reducing waste. After answering the five questions, the post shares small things readers can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

8. PwC and RYOT Studio x The Huffington Post

For this advertorial, two companies collaborated to make a paid post that mixed copy with video. PwC and RYOT Studio worked together to produce an entry in PwC’s new series for diversity and inclusion for CEOs. The company offers business solutions for customers, so the angle keeps consistent with PwC’s industry:

RYOT Studio x HuffPost Advertorial

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What this advertorial does really well is provide readers with a video to go along with the blog post. The video presents the content really well, so those who don’t usually enjoy interacting with long-form content don’t have to read as much.HuffPost advertorial

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If you have a video that tells the story of your company really well, and want to build some brand awareness, consider submitting it along with a couple of paragraphs of supporting copy for an advertorial. It can expose your company to a new audience, and be awesome for generating leads.

Now, you know how to spot an advertorial and even write one of your own. Advertorials can spice up your content marketing strategy and bring a community of new audience members to your brand, so make sure to put your best foot forward and good luck!

 

8 Data-Backed Recommendations for Social Media Marketers in 2023 [Insights from 1,000+ Professionals]

Social media trends change fast.

Consider, for instance, how a few years ago, influencer marketing was a new and intimidating concept for many marketers.

Fast-forward to 2023, and 81% of social media marketers say most companies will have an influencer as the face of their brand this year.

A few other major trend-shifts: Building an active online community is now a critical component of a strong social strategy; social media is becoming the preferred channel for customer service; and funny and relatable content wins over more polished posts.

Here, let’s explore the 8 top data-backed recommendations for social media marketers to leverage in 2023 to continue to grow their audiences, increase customer loyalty and engagement, and achieve higher ROI.

*The following data comes from HubSpot Blog Research’s forthcoming State of Social Media Trends report, as well as HubSpot Blog Research’s State of Consumer Trends.

Download Now: Social Media Trends in 2022 [Free Report]

8 Data-Backed Recommendations for Social Media Marketers in 2023

1. Create a strong social media community.

A whopping 90% of social media marketers say building an active online community is crucial to a successful social media strategy in 2023.

social media communities matter in 2023

Online communities can help you cultivate stronger relationships with your prospects and customers, and ultimately deliver more value. They enable your audience members to connect with each other and share tips related to your industry, and helps showcase your brand as a leader in the space.

Social media communities are on the rise: Over the past three months alone, 20% of social media users joined an online community, while 22% actively participated in one.

If you’re interested in creating a strong community in 2023, consider leveraging either Facebook or Instagram, which are tied at #1 for the most effective platform for building a social media community.

Additionally, check out Why the HubSpot Social Team Developed a Private Facebook Group for more step-by-step instructions on how to successfully launch a Facebook Group.

which platform is most effective for building an active community on social media?

[COMING FEBRUARY 6] The State of Social Media in 2023: Click Here to Set a Google Calendar Reminder

2. Leverage social media as an e-commerce platform.

Social media is quickly becoming an e-commerce platform with all the capabilities to purchase products or services directly in-app.

For instance, 25% of social media users age 18-44 have bought a product on a social app in the past three months — and social is the preferred product discovery channel for consumers age 18-44.

This trend isn’t going anywhere, and will likely become increasingly popular in the new year. Roughly 80% of social media marketers even predict consumers will buy products directly in social apps more often than on brands’ websites or third-party websites like Amazon in 2023.

The biggest inhibitor to social selling is a lack of trust. Only 21% of social media users rate products sold in-app as high quality, and just 42% of social media users feel comfortable making purchases on social media platforms.

people dont rate products on social apps as high quality

If you work at an e-commerce company, it’s vital you launch shopping features so followers can easily purchase your products without leaving the apps.

Additionally, to build trust with your audience so they’re more likely to purchase in-app, you’ll want to leverage the power of customer reviews. Alternatively, working with an influencer can help you build trust between their loyal following and your brand.

3. Build a customer service strategy for social.

Rather than calling and getting put on-hold for a customer service representative, many consumers nowadays prefer to get their questions or concerns answered on social media.

Social media is quickly becoming a customer service tool. In fact, roughly 85% of social media marketers say social media will become consumers’ preferred channel for customer service in 2023.

A few quick stats:

  • 1 in 5 social media users age 18-44 have contacted a brand through DMs for customer service in the past three months.
  • 42% of social media marketers list providing customer service through DMs as a primary responsibility of their job.
  • 75% of social media marketers say their company offers customer service via social.

It’s vital that your company offers customer service on the platform(s) your consumers frequent and prefer. To incorporate a customer service process into your social strategy, you’ll want to run an audit to figure out where your customers are, set up monitoring streams, keep an eye on mentions, and build a system to get questions answered quickly.

You’ll also want to consider setting up a dedicated social channel for support.

Additionally, you’ll need to identify which employees should respond to customers’ queries. Right now, 43% of companies providing customer service through DMs have a customer service representative responding to customers, while 41% leave it to the marketer in charge of managing that platform. Another 13% use automation tools like chatbots.

who answers customer service DMs on social media?

4. Shift your focus from search engines to social search.

A couple years ago, marketers were largely focused on SEO as the primary marketing strategy for generating leads.

Nowadays, things have changed. Almost 90% of social media marketers think consumers will search for brands on social media more often than through search engines in 2023.

I’m guilty of this: When I hear about a new skincare line, for instance, I don’t Google the brand — I find their Instagram page.

And I’m not alone. 22% of millennial consumers already search for brands on social media platforms more often than through a search engine. This shoots up to 36% among Gen Z.

people who search via social more than search engines

It’s critical, then, that you shift your efforts to focus on optimizing your profiles for social search. A few strategies for optimizing your profiles include using relevant keywords and hashtags in your posts and in your bio, making sure your username is easy to search for, and ensuring your usernames are consistent across accounts.

5. Ditch the celebrities — and focus on the micro-influencers.

If your business has the means, it can be compelling to work with a major celebrity to reach a large following — but it’s not necessarily the best strategy for high ROI.

Compared to celebrities, working with micro-influencers is less expensive, easier to establish long-term partnerships, and offers access to a micro-influencers’ tight-knit, engaged, loyal community.

Which is why 80% of influencer marketers work with small creators (1K to 99,999 follows/subscribers), while just 16% work with accounts over 1 million followers.

benefits of micro-influencers

Investing in an influencer marketing strategy in 2023 is a good idea. Social media users often prefer to discover new products through an influencer, and influencer marketing can be an incredibly effective way to increase sales.

Influencer marketing has proven so effective, in fact, that 45% of social media marketers plan to increase their investment in influencer marketing in 2023.

6. Expect high ROI from short-form video.

Short-form video (typically considered any video under 60 seconds) has exploded in popularity in recent years.

Consider, for instance, this recent HubSpot YouTube Short video, which achieved over 8K views with just a quick one-minute explainer on Lil Nas X:

Whether your brand chooses to invest in TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, or another video platform, it’s vital you test out shorter-form videos for increased engagement.

Short-form video will grow more than any other trend in 2023, with 32% of social media marketers planning to invest more in short-form video than any other format.

If you don’t test short-form video with your audience, you risk losing your audience’s attention before they can convert.

If you aren’t convinced, consider:

  • 42% of social media marketers who don’t use short-form video yet plan on trying it for the first time in 2023, the highest of any format.
  • 59% of marketers already using short-form video plan to increase their investment in 2023, while 39% will continue investing the same amount next year.
  • Short-form video is Gen Z and Millennials’ preferred format to learn about new products, so creating short-form videos is also a powerful opportunity to reach Gen Z and millennials.

7. Be relatable and funny with your social content.

People crave content that makes them laugh, and that helps them recognize a real human behind the brand.

When it comes to brands posting on social media, a full 49% of consumers say relatable content is the most memorable for them, followed by funny content (36%).

relatable content is most memorable to consumers

Additionally, 68% of consumers say social media content being authentic and relatable is more important than it being polished with high-production value.

Which is great news for brands: You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars creating polished and highly-edited videos; oftentimes, an iPhone can do the trick.

In 2023, the majority of social media marketers plan to invest heavily in relatable content, and funny content will see the second-most investment of any content type. To attract new audiences and compete in the space, it’s vital your brand consider how to create authentic and funny posts.

8. Invest in Instagram.

In 2023, Instagram will take the lead when it comes to ROI and engagement, with Facebook tying for highest-quality leads.

Instagram will see the most growth in 2023. In fact, 29% of social media marketers plan to invest more in it than any other platform.

51% of social media marketers using Instagram plan to increase their investment in 2023, while 39% will keep it the same. On top of that, 36% of those not yet using it plan to leverage Instagram for the first time this year.

All of which is to say: If you haven’t created a dedicated Instagram strategy, or you haven’t fully invested time and resources into growing your Instagram following, 2023 is a good year to do so.

which social platform offers the biggest ROI?

Choose the Insights That Make the Most Sense for Your Brand

Above, we’ve covered the biggest trends and shifts in the social media landscape in 2023 — but that doesn’t mean you need to follow all of them to see tremendous success.

Instead, rely on your own social analytics to determine what your audiences crave. Perhaps you find that, despite testing short-form video, your prospects and customers still click the long-form videos more often. Or, maybe you find that funny content doesn’t work well with your brand voice, and instead choose to invest more heavily in authentic content that matches your brand tone.

You know what’s best for your consumers, but hopefully, these recommendations provide you with the inspiration you need to start testing, iterating, and improving your social strategy for 2023 and beyond.

Interested in learning more about social media in 2023? Click here to set a Google Calendar reminder for the State of Social Media full report, coming February 6. 

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16 Free Project Management Software Options to Keep Your Team On Track

92% of U.S. workers feel that they could collaborate better with their colleagues.

Managing multiple projects at once, delegating tasks, and collaborating across teams is difficult on a good day — but can become downright impossible when unforeseen obstacles get in the way. The data proves that project management is no walk in the park for most of us.

When that impacts the business, it becomes an even bigger problem. Miscommunication and inefficiencies in your project management process can lead to confusing and stressful experiences for your employees. It can hinder your company’s ability to satisfy your clients’ needs or hit end-of-year goals.

Fortunately, there are plenty of free project management apps to keep your team on track without breaking the bank.

Download Now: Free Project Management Template

In a free project management tool, you’ll typically be able to create various projects, come-up with to-do lists, assign tasks to team members, and track a project’s progress until completion. Paid project management tools offer more storage, more projects, and more seats for the team. But for small teams, a free project management tool will do the trick.

The low buy-in makes it a natural choice. With free project management software, your team can collaborate much better, reducing the risk of miscommunications and keeping everyone up to speed on team-wide projects. It’s also helpful for individual team members. They can use it to boost their productivity and ensure they’re on track.

To streamline your process and ensure everyone on your team is on the same page, take a look at these exceptional free project management tools.

1. Project.co

Project.co Free Project Management Software

Project.co is a client-facing project management system that connects your team with your clients’ teams in one place. Each piece of work you do can be set up as its own project, with its own discussion feed, notes, tasks, team, and payments. You can also record time spent on each project.

A variety of different task and project views are available, including calendar, scheduler, and Kanban view — to give you an overview of the work that’s happening within your team.

Features include:

  • Ability to quickly add/invite both internal and external users
  • Discussion feed for each project — with email alerts (and the ability to reply by email without logging in)
  • Variety of task views — which can be filtered — giving your whole team, each department, and even individual users their daily/weekly task lists
  • Reporting tools that measure your most and least profitable or efficient projects
  • Ability to integrate payment solutions and quickly, securely take card payments through the system

Pricing: Free for 14 days; $10/user/month

2. Wrike

Project management software by Wrike

Wrike stands out as an exceptional project management tool for teams who want the option to customize workflows and edit and revise projects from within the platform itself. The tool offers the ability to color code and layer calendars, and its mobile app allows colleagues to update project information on-the-go. You can add comments to sections, videos, or documents, and create custom fields to export data most relevant to your company.

Features include:

  • Security measures to ensure only authorized personnel can access information
  • Activity Stream to allow project managers to micromanage small tasks, see activities in chronological order, and tag team members
  • The option to unfollow activities to declutter your own personal Stream
  • Email and calendar synchronization
  • Built-in editing and approval features

Pricing: Free; $9.80/user/month (Professional); $24.80/user/month (Business); Custom (Enterprise)

3. Toggl Plan

Project management software by Toggl Plan

Toggl Plan is an effective project management tool to automate your task delegation process and visualize which project tasks have been completed, and which haven’t. If your team often collaborates with other departments on projects, this might be a useful tool for you.

Features include:

  • Gantt-chart visualization to track important deadlines and projects
  • Integrations with Slack, Github, Evernote, and others
  • Team collaboration option through shared calendars and task notes

Pricing: Free for 14 days; $8/user/month (Team); $13.35/user/month (Business)

4. ClickUp

Project management software by ClickUp

Image Source

ClickUp provides a few impressive features to customize the all-in-one project management tool to suit your team members, including the option for each user to choose one of three different ways to view their projects and tasks depending on individual preference. If your marketing team overlaps with sales, design, or development, this is an effective solution, as it provides features for all of those four teams.

Features include:

  • Integrates with HubSpot (May require a paid account)
  • The ability to organize your projects based on priority, and assign tasks to groups
  • The option to set goals to remind teams what they’re aiming to accomplish
  • Google Calendar two-way sync
  • An easy way to filter, search, sort, and customize options for managing specific tasks
  • Activity stream with mentions capability
  • Image mockups
  • 57 integrated apps

Pricing: Free; $5/user/month

5. nTask

Project management software task board by nTask

Another free software that comes with a variety of features for project and task managers is nTask. This program has a couple of free-range tools for anyone looking to work as an individual or a professional project manager.

nTask supports multiple projects and task creation. Users can also define team leader roles, budget, milestone and time tracking criteria that are specific to relevant projects. Understanding the needs of advanced project managers, nTask also offers an interactive Gantt chart feature. It can be personalized by a simple drag and drop mechanism to align the project to ongoing real-life changes.

Features include:

  • A powerful in-app collaboration system
  • Integration with Slack and many other third-party apps
  • The ability to invite stakeholders to view ongoing projects
  • Resource management
  • Team management via an admin-controlled process
  • Multiple workspaces dedicated to different projects and tasks

Pricing: Free (Basic); $2.99/user/month (Premium); $7.99/user/month (Business); Custom (Enterprise)

6. Teamwork

Project management software by Teamwork Image Source

Teamwork is a project management software and collaboration platform that helps in-house and remote teams stay organized and productive. Each project lets you easily upload files, assign tasks and deadlines, and chat with teammates. By centralizing your project information, you can help eliminate more misunderstandings and missed deadlines.

Features include:

  • Easy integration with HubSpot (May require a paid account)
  • Teamwork Chat Instant Messenger to help you stay in your workflow and be most productive
  • Time tracking to understand capacity and where a team spends their time
  • Dashboards, Substasks, and Milestones to help track progress of projects

Pricing: Free; $10/user/month (Deliver); $18/user/month (Grow); Custom (Enterprise

7. Freedcamp

Project management software by Freedcamp

Image Source

Freedcamp is a feature-rich project management tool that’s designed for personal and professional use. Each project has its own tasks, milestones, files, discussions, and timelines, as well as an issue tracker and calendar. The dashboard gives you a clear, concise overview of what’s going on in your team, including activity, projects, and tasks.

Features include:

  • Message-board discussion feed, with the ability to create and carry out discussions on any topic
  • Powerful calendar view that lays out all upcoming events
  • Third-party integrations including Google Drive, Google Calendar, Dropbox and more

Pricing: Free; $1.49/user/month (MInimalist); $7.49/user/month (Business); $16.99/user/month (Enterprise)

8. Asana

Project management software by Asana

Asana, one of the most well-known project management solutions, has a clean and user-friendly interface. The all-in-one tool lets you create boards to visualize which stage your project is in, and use reporting to keep track of finished tasks and tasks that need your attention.

Features include:

  • The ability to create templates to automate mundane tasks
  • The ability to collaborate and share information across the team, privately and securely
  • The option to set security controls and designate admins
  • Over 100 integrations for a more efficient start-to-finish process
  • The ability to create custom project fields, share documents, and filter tasks
  • HubSpot integration for seamless syncing of workflows and contact activity

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

9. Monday.com

Project management software by Monday.com

Monday.com, a project management tool that also offers HR and IT tools, allows you to create team member status updates so your remote and flexible teams know their coworkers’ schedules. It allows you to easily access project updates at-a-glance so that nothing falls between the cracks.

Features include:

  • Customizable workflows to prioritize your team’s needs and take care of menial tasks
  • Gantt chart for visualizing due dates and project timelines
  • Integrations with popular tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Calendar
  • Team member status updates for remote or flexible team members
  • HubSpot integration so that everyone can collaborate on contact and deal management (May require a paid plan)

Pricing: Free for 14 days; $8/user/month (Basic); $10/user/month (Standard); $16/user/month (Pro); Custom (Enterprise)

10. Paymo

Project management software by Paymo

Paymo’s free version only allows access for one user, but if you’ve got a small team or you’re a freelancer, this could be an efficient option for tracking billable hours and invoicing clients. Along with tracking finances, Paymo also allows you to organize project timelines, create to-do lists, and stay on top of your budgets for multiple projects at once.

Features include:

  • Kanban boards for easy, at-a-glance project updates
  • Time tracking to keep everyone on the same schedule
  • File sharing and Adobe CC extension for easy sharing of assets
  • Timesheet reporting to keep stakeholders in the loop
  • Project templates to jumpstart projects with a click

Pricing: Free; $9.95/user/month (Small Office); $15.79/user/month (Business)

11. Trello

Project management software by Trello

Trello is a drag-and-drop tool that lets you move projects — personal, or professional — through workflow stages, all the way to completion.

You define what those stages are — whether it’s work project statuses like ‘On Hold,’ or personal project categories like ‘Things to buy!’ — with tasks represented as ‘cards.’ Each card can be given a name, assigned to an individual, given a due date — and have files, such as images, attached to it.

Features include:

  • Templates for a range of different project types, from business to education to personal productivity
  • Ability to add attachments such as images to any card on any board
  • Customise your workflow stages to reflect your actual process
  • Simple drag-and-drop movement of cards through workflow stages
  • HubSpot integration for syncing marketing, sales, and service workflows into to-do lists (May require a paid plan)

Pricing: Free; $10/user/month; Custom (Enterprise)

12. Todoist

Project management software by Todoist

Todoist is a simple but powerful tool that lets you create powerful, interactive to-do lists. To-do items can be assigned priority levels, assigned to people in your team and flagged — with customizable reminders (although these are a premium feature). Actionable items can also be categorised into different projects, making a simple, easily understandable structure where each ‘list’ has a title (project name) and a series of actions. This all makes it an extremely flexible, customizable tool to get work done.

Features include:

  • Template lists to inspire and guide you
  • Recurring due dates for regularly recurring tasks
  • Productivity visualizations and ‘Karma’ points for completed tasks and streaks
  • Labels, notification and discussion feeds to keep you organized
  • Integrates with HubSpot (May require a paid account)

Pricing: Free; $3/user/month (Pro); $5/user/month (Business)

13. MeisterTask

Project management software by MeisterTask

Image Source

MeisterTask is a project management tool that allows you to create Kanban boards, set recurring tasks, track project times, and create custom fields. You can automatically import data from other tools such as Trello and Asana, allowing you to get immediately to work without losing time.

Features include:

  • Up to 3 projects on the free version
  • File attachments for projects
  • Custom project icons to make tasks stand out
  • Time tracking so that no deadlines fall through the cracks

Pricing: Free; $8.25/user/month (Pro); $20.75/user/month (Business); Custom (Enterprise)

14. Bitrix24

Project management software by Bitrix24Britrix24’s project management software includes Kanban boards, Gantt charts, task counters for easy prioritization, and reports for analyzing the time intensiveness of different tasks. You can also create to-do lists within tasks.

Features include:

  • Recurring tasks for easy task creation and automation
  • Integration with Billable Hours, which is especially useful if you work with freelancers
  • Task statuses to easily keep track of progress
  • Monthly reports on time spent on tasks

Pricing: Free; $19/month (Start+); $55/month (CRM+ and Project+); $79/month (Standard Business Plan); $159/month (Professional Business Plan)

15. Airtable

Project management tool by AirtableAirtable is a customizable spreadsheet and database app that can be used to create a project management tool for your team. Its project tracker template allows you to easily manage projects in a familiar spreadsheet-like environment, making it ideal for Excel and Google Sheets enthusiasts.

Features include:

  • Subtask creation within tasks
  • Ability to assign tasks and establish time estimates
  • Additional templates for keeping remote teams aligned, such as a team hub and asset tracker
  • Highly customizable for different teams
  • Integration with popular tools such as HubSpot, Asana, Dropbox, Google Workspace, and Slack

Pricing: Free; $10/user/month (Plus); $20/user/month (Pro); Custom (Enterprise)

16. ProofHub

proofhub

ProofHub is a project management and team collaboration software that allows project managers to maintain complete control over their tasks, teams, projects, and communication. Managers can assign tasks and deadlines to team members and easily maneuver between simple to-do lists and agile kanban boards that are customizable.

ProofHub has a notes feature and a dedicated discussions section to store your important information and carry out real-time conversations with your team members. Get real-time notifications whenever someone makes an update to a ticket.

Features include:

  • Online proofing tool to review files and annotate design files using markup tools
  • In-built chat application to connect with team members
  • Various project views including Kanban boards, Table View, and robust Gantt charts
  • Time tracker and timesheets to keep track of your team’s timelines
  • Project reports with a detailed overview of overall project progress
  • Me-view and an activity tracker to keep track of your tasks and team activities
  • Project calendar with events, milestones, and deadlines

Pricing: $45/month (Essential), $89/month (Ultimate Control)

Project Management in HubSpot

If you’re a HubSpot user, you may already have what you need to manage your teams and to-do’s.

For example, our free CRM includes task management software that Sales and Service teams can use to track, manage, and report on ongoing activities.

Features include:

  • A personalized dashboard with an overview of tasks, meetings, and contacts.
  • Sync your calendar and contacts within your CRM.
  • Add new tasks right from your to-do list, email inbox, or workflows.
  • View insights on activity progress– including metrics like calls made, deals created, and activities completed.

HubSpot's task management toolGet Started with the Task Management Tool

Marketers with Marketing Hub Professional or above can use the Campaigns tool to do similar management geared toward marketing tasks. You can create tasks, share comments, and track your work in a calendar view. The tool can be used to manage your campaigns, ads, events, and other customizable projects all from one place.

It can also help align your Sales and Marketing teams by giving both access to real-time reporting on campaign performance.

Lastly, many of your favorite project management tools can integrate with a CRM like HubSpot. (Depending on the tool, this may require a paid account.) This can supercharge your Sales, Service, and Marketing teams by automatically connecting your customer data to your projects and tasks.

Some ways that HubSpot users do this include:

  • Automatically creating new tasks or events out of form submissions
  • Generating follow-up reminders after live events
  • Handing off projects between teams based on deal stage

Streamline Workflows with a Project Management Tool

Using a project management app will empower your team to work more efficiently and collaborate more seamlessly. With hurdles out of the way, you can guarantee that your team can focus on what matters: bringing in more leads, selling to more prospects, and empowering more customers to grow alongside your business.

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

Lead Generation: A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way

We’ve all been there. You finally sit down for dinner at the end of a long day. You’re about to take a bite when the telephone rings. It’s a telemarketer asking about your oven preferences.  

This frustrating interruption doesn’t need to happen. Inbound lead generation offers a solution. 

Download Now: Lead Generation Best Practices Guide

Let’s start with defining a lead. Then, we’ll cover why you need lead generation and how to qualify someone as a lead. Soon, you’ll know exactly why inbound lead generation is much more effective than simply buying leads.

What is a lead?

A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.

Leads typically hear from a business or organization after opening communication (by submitting personal information for an offer, trial, or subscription) … instead of getting a random cold call from someone who purchased their contact information.

Let’s say you take an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. A day or so later, you receive an email from the auto company that created the survey about how they could help you take care of your car. This process would be far less intrusive than if they’d just called you out of the blue with no knowledge of whether you even care about car maintenance, right? This is what it’s like to be a lead.

And from a business perspective, the information the auto company collects about you from your survey responses helps them personalize that opening communication to address your existing problems — and not waste time calling leads who aren’t at all interested in auto services.

Leads are part of the broader lifecycle that consumers follow when they transition from visitor to customer. Not all leads are created equal (nor are they qualified the same). There are different types of leads based on how they are qualified and what lifecycle stage they’re in.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Marketing qualified leads are contacts who’ve engaged with your marketing team’s efforts but aren’t ready to receive a sales call. An example of an MQL is a contact who fills out a landing page form for an offer.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Sales-qualified leads are contacts who’ve taken actions that expressly indicate their interest in becoming paying customers. An example of an SQL is a contact who fills out a form to ask a question about your product or service.

Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

Product qualified leads are contacts who’ve used your product and taken actions that indicate interest in becoming a paying customer. PQLs typically exist for companies who offer a product trial or a free or limited version of their product with options to upgrade, which is where your sales team comes in.

An example of a PQL is a customer who uses your free version but engages or asks about features that are only available upon payment.

Service Qualified Lead

Service-qualified leads are contacts or customers who’ve indicated to your service team that they’re interested in becoming paying customers. An example of a service-qualified lead is a customer who tells their customer service representative that they’d like to upgrade their product subscription; at this time, the customer service representative would up-level this customer to the appropriate sales team or representative.

 

These lead generators are just a few examples of lead generation strategies you can use to attract potential customers and guide them towards your offers. (We talk about more strategies later.)

Whenever someone outside the marketing world asks me what I do, I can’t simply say, “I create content for lead generation.” It’d be totally lost on them, and I’d get some really confused looks.

So instead, I say, “I work on finding unique ways to attract people to my business. I want to provide them with enough goodies to get them naturally interested in my company so they eventually warm up to the brand enough to want to hear from us!”

That usually resonates better, and that’s exactly what lead generation is: It’s a way of warming up potential customers to your business and getting them on the path to eventually making a purchase.

Why do you need lead generation?

When a stranger initiates a relationship with you by showing an organic interest in your business, the transition from stranger to customer is much more natural.

Lead generation falls within the second stage of the inbound marketing methodology. It occurs after you’ve attracted an audience and are ready to convert those visitors into leads for your sales team (namely sales-qualified leads).

As you can see in the diagram below, generating leads is a fundamental point in an individual’s journey to becoming a delighted customer.

the steps to lead generation: attract, covert, close delight

Lead Generation Process

Now that we understand how lead generation fits into the inbound marketing methodology, let’s walk through the steps of the lead generation process.

  1. First, a visitor discovers your business through one of your marketing channels, such as your website, blog, or social media page.
  2. That visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA) — an image, button, or message that encourages website visitors to take some sort of action.
  3. That CTA takes your visitor to a landing page, which is a web page that is designed to capture lead information in exchange for an offer. An offer is content or something of value that’s being “offered” on the landing page. This can be an ebook, a course, or a template. 
  4. Once on the landing page, your visitor fills out a form in exchange for the offer. 

See how everything fits together?

To sum it up: Visitor clicks a CTA that takes them to a landing page where they fill out a form to get an offer, at which point they become a lead.

By the way, you should check out our free lead generation tool. It helps you create lead capture forms directly on your website. Plus, it’s really easy to set up.

Lead Generation Marketing

Once you put all of these elements together, you can use your various promotional channels to drive traffic to your landing page to start generating leads.

But what channels should you use to promote your landing page? Let’s talk about the front end of lead generation — lead gen marketing.

If you’re a visual learner, this chart shows the flow from promotional marketing channels to a generated lead.

lead generation techniques, This chart shows the flow from promotional marketing channels to a generated lead.

There are even more channels you can use to get visitors to become leads. Let’s go into depth on these and talk about a few others.

Content

Content is a great way to guide users to a landing page. Typically, you create content to provide visitors with useful, free information. You can include CTAs anywhere in your content — inline, bottom-of-post, in the hero, or even on the side panel.

The more delighted a visitor is with your content, the more likely they are to click your call-to-action and move onto your landing page.

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Email

Email is a great place to reach the people who already know your brand and product or service. It’s much easier to ask them to take an action since they’ve previously subscribed to your list.

Emails tend to be a bit cluttered, so use CTAs that have a compelling copy and an eye-catching design to grab your subscriber’s attention.

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Ads and Retargeting

The sole purpose of an ad is to get people to take an action. Otherwise, why spend the money?

If you want people to convert, be sure that your landing page and offer match exactly what is promised in the ad, and that the action you want users to take is crystal clear.

Blog

The great thing about using your blog posts to promote an offer is that you can tailor the entire piece to the end goal.

So, if your offer is an instructional video on setting up Google Search Console, then you can write a blog post about how to select your marketing metrics … which would make your CTA highly relevant and easy to click.

For a quick video overview of the HubSpot Blog’s expert lead generation tips, check out our video guide.

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Social Media

Social media platforms make it easy to guide your followers to take action, from the swipe up option on Instagram stories to Facebook bio links to bitly URLs on Twitter.

You can also promote your offerings on your social posts and include a call-to-action in your caption. Learn more about social media campaigns in this post.

Product Trials

You can break down a lot of barriers to a sale by offering trials of your product or service. Once a prospect is using your product, you can entice them with additional offers or resources to encourage them to buy.

Another best practice is to include your branding in your free versions so you can capture other potential customers, too.

Referral Marketing

Referral, or word-of-mouth, marketing is useful for lead generation in a different way. That is, it gets your brand in front of more people, which, in turn, increases your chances of generating more leads.

Whatever channel you use to generate leads, you’ll want to guide users to your landing page. As long as you’ve built a landing page that converts, the rest will handle itself.

lead generation marketing: content, email, ads, blogs, social media, product trials, referral marketing

Why not just buy leads?

Marketers and salespeople alike want to fill their sales funnel — and they want to fill it quickly. Enter: The temptation to buy leads.

First and foremost, any leads you’ve purchased don’t actually know you. Typically, they’ve “opted in” at some other site when signing up for something, and didn’t actually opt-in to receiving anything from your company.

The messages you send them are therefore unwanted messages, and sending unwanted messages is intrusive. (Remember that disruptive call I got when I was trying to eat my spaghetti? That’s how people feel when they receive emails and other messages from people they didn’t ask to hear from.)

If the prospect has never been to your website and indicated an interest in your products or services, then you’re interrupting them plain and simple.

If they never opted in to receive messages specifically from you, then there’s a high chance they could flag your messages as spam.

Once enough people flag your messages as spam, you go on a “blacklist,” which is then shared with other email providers. Once you get on the blacklist, it’s really, really hard to get back off of it. In addition, your email deliverability and IP reputation will likely be harmed.

It’s always, always, always better to generate leads organically rather than buy them. Read this blog post to learn how to grow an opt-in email list instead of buying one.

How to Qualify a Lead

As we covered in the first section, a lead is a person who has indicated an interest in your company’s product or service. Now, let’s talk about the ways in which someone can actually show that interest.

Essentially, a sales lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come in many ways.

Perhaps a job seeker shows interest in a position by completing an application. Or a shopper shares contact information in exchange for a coupon. Maybe a person fills out a form to download an educational piece of content.

Gauging a Lead’s Level of Interest

Below are just a few of the many ways in which you could qualify someone as a lead. Each of these examples shows that the amount of collected information used to qualify a lead, as well as their level of interest, can vary.

Let’s assess each scenario:

  • Job Application: An individual that fills out an application form is willing to share a lot of personal information because he/she wants to be considered for a position. Filling out that application shows their true interest in the job, therefore qualifying the person as a lead for the company’s recruiting team — not marketing or sales teams.
  • Coupon: Unlike the job application, you probably know very little about someone who has stumbled upon one of your online coupons. But if they find the coupon valuable enough, they may be willing to provide their name and email address in exchange for it. Although it’s not a lot of information, it’s enough for a business to know that someone has interest in their company.
  • Content: While the download of a coupon shows an individual has a direct interest in your product or service, content (like an educational ebook or webinar) does not. Therefore, to truly understand the nature of the person’s interest in your business, you’ll probably need to collect more information to determine whether the person is interested in your product or service and whether they’re a good fit.

These three general examples highlight how lead generation differs from company to company, and from person to person.

You’ll need to collect enough information to gauge whether someone has a true, valid interest in your product or service — how much information is enough information will vary depending on your business.

Let’s look at HubSpot’s Demo form, for example.

lead generation form, HubSpot

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This is one example example of what to ask for in a lead gen form:

  • Full Name: The most fundamental information needed to personalize your communication with each lead.
  • Email: This serves as a unique identifier and is how you will contact your lead.
  • Company and URL: This will give you the ability to research your lead’s industry and company and how the lead might benefit from your product or service (mainly for B2B).
  • Company Size: The more detailed information you can obtain without sacrificing conversions, the better. Knowing your leads’ number of employees can help you further qualify them.

If you’d like to learn more intermediate-level tips on information collection and what you should ask for on your lead gen forms, read our post about it here.

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a way to qualify leads quantitatively. Using this technique, leads are assigned a numerical value (or score) to determine where they fall on the scale from “interested” to “ready for a sale”.

The criteria for these actions is completely up to you, but it must be uniform across your marketing and sales departments so that everyone is working on the same scale.

 

 

A lead’s score can be based on actions they’ve taken, information they’ve provided, their level of engagement with your brand, or other criteria that your sales team determines. For instance, you may score someone higher if they regularly engage with you on social media or if their demographic information matches your target audience.

Borrowing from the examples above, you might give a lead a higher score if they used one of your coupons — an action that would signify this person is interested in your product.

The higher a lead’s score, the closer they are to becoming a sales-qualified lead (SQL), which is only a step away from becoming a customer. Scoring criteria should be tweaked along the way until you find the formula that works. Once you do, you’ll transform your lead generation into customer generation.

Lead Generation Strategies

Online lead generation encompasses a wide range of tactics, campaigns, and strategies depending on the platform on which you wish to capture leads. We talked about lead capture best practices once you have a visitor on your site … but how can you get them there in the first place?

Let’s dive into lead-generation strategies for a few popular platforms.

Facebook Lead Generation

Facebook has been a method for lead generation since its inception.

Originally, companies could use outbound links in their posts and information in their bios to attract strangers to their websites. However, when Facebook Ads was launched in 2007, and its algorithm began to favor accounts that used paid advertising, there was a major shift in how businesses used the platform to capture leads.

Facebook created Lead Ads for this purpose. Facebook also has a feature that lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, helping you send Facebook followers directly to your website.

Get some lead generation tips for Facebook.

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Twitter Lead Generation

Twitter has Twitter Lead Gen Cards, which let you generate leads directly within a tweet without having to leave the site. A user’s name, email address, and Twitter username are automatically pulled into the card, and all they have to do is click “Submit” to become a lead.

(Hint for HubSpot users: You can connect Twitter Lead Gen Cards to your HubSpot Forms. Learn how to do that here).

Learn some lead generation tips for Twitter.

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LinkedIn Lead Generation

LinkedIn has been increasing its stake in the advertising space since its early days. When it comes to lead generation, LinkedIn created Lead Gen Forms, which auto-populate with a user’s profile data when they click a CTA.

Get tips from our experience using LinkedIn ads.

PPC Lead Generation

When we say pay-per-click (PPC), we’re referring to ads on search engine result pages (SERPs). Google gets 3.5 billion searches a day, making it prime real estate for any ad campaign, especially lead gen.

The effectiveness of your PPC campaign relies heavily on a seamless user flow, as well as your budget, target keywords, and a few other factors.

Learn more about how to set up successful PPC ads.

B2B Lead Generation

B2B is a particular business model that requires a particular approach to lead generation. SmartInsights found that referrals are the top source for capturing business leads. Not to mention, effectiveness varies by channel.

Learn the B2B lead generation techniques for every channel.

Tips for Lead Generation Campaigns

In any given lead generation campaign, there can be a lot of moving parts. It can be difficult to tell which parts of your campaign are working and which need some fine-tuning.

What exactly goes into a best-in-class lead generation engine? Here are a few tips when building lead gen campaigns.

Follow your data.

If you’re looking to build a lead generation engine, start with the bevy of data already at your fingertips. Begin by archiving which posts consistently rank well, bring in traffic, and have a clear connection to your product. 

Once you know what performs well, you can determine where to place CTAs.

“For these posts, ask yourself what the missing middle piece is between what someone is reading about and what you can offer them,” suggests AJ Beltis, a senior marketing manager focused on media conversion at HubSpot. “Perhaps it’s an actionable template, a more in-depth guide, or even a demo if the content is intended for those further along in the buying cycle.

Remember, your CTA should not be a reach from the topic in the post. 

“Keep it straightforward and logical and the leads will come flowing in,” Beltis says.

Use the right lead generation tools.

As you saw in our data, the most successful marketing teams use a formal system to organize and store their leads. That’s where lead generation tools and lead generation software come into play.

How much do you know about the people visiting your website? Do you know their names or their email addresses? How about which pages they visited, how they’re navigating around, and what they do before and after filling out a lead conversion form?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, chances are you’re having a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site. These are questions you should be able to answer — and you can with the right lead-generation tools.

There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets to use on your site:

  • CTA Templates: 50+ free, customizable call-to-action (CTA) templates in PowerPoint that you can use to create clickable CTA buttons to use on your blog, landing pages, and elsewhere on your site.
  • Lead Generation Software Tools: This free tool from HubSpot includes lead capture and contact insights features, which will scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database. It also lets you create pop-ups, hello bars, or slide-ins — called “lead flows” — that’ll help you turn website visitors into leads immediately.
    Example of a slide-in lead flow.Image Source
  • Visitor Tracking: Hotjar has a heatmap tool that creates a color-coded representation of how a user navigates your site. This information helps you understand what users do on your site. 
  • Form-Scraping Tool: A form-scraping tool collects submissions on your website’s existing forms and helps you automatically consolidate all your leads into your contact database. HubSpot customers can create and embed forms, which automatically populate into your CRM. Non-HubSpot customers can use a form creation tool like Contact Form 7 or Google Forms, and then use HubSpot’s free collected forms feature to automatically input submissions to a contact database.

Create amazing offers for all different stages of the buying cycle.

Not all of your site visitors are ready to talk to your sales team.

Someone at the beginning of the buyer’s journey might be interested in an informational piece like an ebook or a guide, whereas someone who’s more familiar with your company and near the bottom of the journey might be more interested in a free trial or demo.

Make sure you’re creating offers for each phase and offering CTAs for these offers throughout your site.

Yes, it takes time to create valuable content that teaches and nurtures your leads down the funnel, but if you don’t offer anything for visitors who aren’t ready to buy, then they may never come back to your website. From checklists to templates to free tools, here are 23 ideas for lead-generation content to get you started.

If you want to take personalization a step further — which will help boost your conversion rate — try using smart CTAs. Smart CTAs detect where a person is in the buyer’s journey, whether they’re a new visitor, a lead, or a customer, and display CTAs accordingly. 

Keep your messaging consistent and deliver on your promise.

The highest-converting lead-gen campaigns are the ones that deliver what they promise.

Make sure that you’re presenting a consistent message throughout the process and providing value to everyone who engages with your lead capture.
The aspects of your campaign should mirror everything else on your website, on your blog, and within the product that you’ll eventually try to sell. If not, you’ll have a difficult time getting your lead to the next lifecycle stage. 

Your campaign should be about more than just obtaining an email address. You should seek to develop a new customer.

Link your CTA to a dedicated landing page.

This may seem obvious to you, but you’d be surprised how many marketers don’t create dedicated landing pages for their offers. CTAs are meant to send visitors to a landing page where they can receive a specific offer.

Don’t use CTAs to drive people to your homepage, for instance. Even if your CTA is about your brand or product (and perhaps not an offer like a download), you should still be sending them to a targeted landing page that’s relevant to what they are looking for.

If you have the opportunity to use a CTA, send them to a page that will convert them into a lead.

If you want to learn more about how to build and promote high-converting landing pages, then download our ebook on optimizing landing pages for conversions.

Get your sales team involved.

Remember when we talked about lead scoring? Well, it isn’t doable without your sales team’s input. 

Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned on the definitions and the process of moving a lead from MQL to SQL to opportunity.

Be open to evolving your relationship with sales and how you guide leads along your funnel. Your definitions will likely need to be refined over time. Just make sure to keep everyone involved up-to-date.

Use social media strategically.

While marketers typically think of social media as best for top-of-the-funnel marketing, it can still be a helpful and low-cost source for lead generation as shared in the lead gen strategies above. 

Start by adding links directly to the landing pages of high-performing offers within your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media posts.

Tell visitors that you’re sending them to a landing page. That way, you’re setting expectations. Here’s an example from one of our Twitter posts:

a HubSpot Twitter post about digital marketing certificationImage Source

You can also do a lead generation analysis of your blog to figure out which posts generate the most leads, and then make a point of regularly linking social media posts to them.

Another way to generate leads from social media is to run a contest. Contests are fun and engaging for your followers, and they can also teach you a ton about your audience. It’s a win-win. 

Leverage your partnerships. 

When it comes to lead generation, co-marketing can be powerful. If your team works with partner companies, put your heads together and create some mutually beneficial offers.

“On the Content Offers team at HubSpot, we run campaigns with partner companies that have a similar target audience and brand values to create and promote gated content like ebooks, reports, and templates,” says Jasmine Fleming, a marketing manager at HubSpot. 
 
Fleming says both HubSpot and our partners generate leads with the offer. “We can share those leads with each other,” she says. “Co-marketing offers have the potential to generate significantly more leads than a content piece created by one company alone.”

Remain flexible and constantly iterate.

Your lead generation strategy needs to be as dynamic as the people you’re targeting. Trends change, behaviors shift, and opinions morph. So should your lead gen marketing.

Use A/B split testing to see what CTAs perform best, which landing pages convert better, and which copy captures your target audience.

Experiment with layout changes, design, UX, content, and advertising channels until you find what works.

Lead Generation Trends & Benchmarks

So … you’re getting web traffic and generating leads. But how are you doing compared to other companies in your industry?

Read on to discover what other marketers are doing with lead generation in 2023, along with important stats to consider.

Lead generation is the top marketing priority.

The HubSpot State of Marketing Report 2021 found that marketers reported that their top marketing priority was generating more leads. Converting these leads to customers is another top priority, according to SmartInsights.

graph displaying lead generation as marketers top priority in 2021

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Most B2B leads come from referrals.

B2B marketers say that 65% of their leads come from referrals, 38% from email, and 33% come from Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

If you’re interested in getting in on this trend, it’s worth considering revamping your referral strategy and helping existing customers bring you new leads.

Content marketing helps drive leads.

Marketers also report that content marketing has helped them successfully generate demand and leads over the past 12 months. To get in on this trend, read this helpful blog post on creating content for different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Grow Better with Lead Generation

There you have it, folks. Now that you know more about how to generate leads for your business, we recommend you try HubSpot’s free lead generation tool. Use it to add simple conversion assets to your site (or scrape your existing forms) to help you learn more about your site visitors and what content prompts them to convert.

The basics we’ve gone over in this blog post are just the beginning. Keep creating great offers, CTAs, landing pages, and forms — and promote them in multi-channel environments. Be in close touch with your sales team to make sure you’re handing off high-quality leads on a regular basis.

Last but not least, never stop testing. The more you tweak and test every step of your inbound lead generation process, the more you’ll improve lead quality and increase revenue.

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How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template

Earning the trust of prospective customers can be a struggle. Before you can even begin to expect to earn their business, you need to demonstrate your ability to deliver on what your product or service promises.

Sure, you could say that you’re great at X or that you’re way ahead of the competition when it comes to Y. But at the end of the day, what you really need to win new business is cold, hard proof.

One of the best ways to prove your worth is through a compelling case study. In fact, HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report found that case studies are so compelling that they are the fifth most commonly used type of content used by marketers.

Download Now: 3 Free Case Study Templates

Below, I’ll walk you through what a case study is, how to prepare for writing one, what you need to include in it, and how it can be an effective tactic. To jump to different areas of this post, click on the links below to automatically scroll.

Case Study Definition

A case study is a specific challenge a business has faced, and the solution they’ve chosen to solve it. Case studies can vary greatly in length and focus on several details related to the initial challenge and applied solution, and can be presented in various forms like a video, white paper, blog post, etc.

In professional settings, it’s common for a case study to tell the story of a successful business partnership between a vendor and a client. Perhaps the success you’re highlighting is in the number of leads your client generated, customers closed, or revenue gained. Any one of these key performance indicators (KPIs) are examples of your company’s services in action.

When done correctly, these examples of your work can chronicle the positive impact your business has on existing or previous customers and help you attract new clients.

Case Study Templates

To help you arm your prospects with information they can trust, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to create effective case studies for your business with free case study templates for creating your own.

And to give you more options, we’ll highlight some useful templates that serve different needs. But remember, there are endless possibilities when it comes to demonstrating the work your business has done.

1. General Case Study Template

case study templates: general

Starting off with a straightforward, generic template can be a great foundation for your case study. With this first template, your business can elaborate on any solution provided to a satisfied customer — from their background, to what led to them doing business with you, to the results they’ve seen.

Along with the simplistic design of this template, each section is clearly distinct and outlines the type of information or direction to take to tell you and your customer’s story better. And for added benefit, when you download this template you’ll find bracket prompts for ideation and instructions to follow as you fill it in.

2. Data-Driven Case Study Template

case study templates: data-driven

For those looking to show off objective and numeric solutions, HubSpot’s Data-Driven template is a great template to work with. It’s structured to highlight the most notable achievement metrics that a specific customer has seen with your product and/or service.

As you work through this template, you’ll find similar bracketed prompts and sections as the generic template — but with more eye-catching visual cues for your customer’s success points to be properly showcased.

3. Product Specific Case Study Template

case study template: product specific

Do you have a specific product or service that you’re trying to sell, but not enough reviews or success stories? This Product Specific case study template will help.

This template relies less on metrics, and more on highlighting the customer’s experience and satisfaction. As you follow the template instructions, you’ll be prompted to speak more about the benefits of the specific product, rather than your team’s process for working with the customer.

4. Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template

case study templates: bold social media business

You can find templates that represent different niches, industries, or strategies that your business has found success in — like a bold social media business case study template.

In this template, you can tell the story of how your social media marketing strategy has helped you or your client through collaboration or sale of your service. Customize it to reflect the different marketing channels used in your business and show off how well your business has been able to boost traffic, engagement, follows, and more.

5. Lead Generation Business Case Study Template

case study templates: lead generation business

It’s important to note that not every case study has to be the product of a sale or customer story, sometimes they can be informative lessons that your own business has experienced. A great example of this is the Lead Generation Business case study template.

If you’re looking to share operational successes regarding how your team has improved processes or content, you should include the stories of different team members involved, how the solution was found, and how it has made a difference in the work your business does.

Now that we’ve discussed different templates and ideas for how to use them, let’s break down how to create your own case study with one.

1. Get started with case study templates.

Telling your customer’s story is a delicate process — you need to highlight their success while naturally incorporating your business into their story.

If you’re just getting started with case studies, we recommend you download HubSpot’s Case Study Templates we mentioned before to kickstart the process.

2. Determine the case study’s objective.

All business case studies are designed to demonstrate the value of your services, but they can focus on several different client objectives.

Your first step when writing a case study is to determine the objective or goal of the subject you’re featuring. In other words, what will the client have succeeded in doing by the end of the piece?

The client objective you focus on will depend on what you want to prove to your future customers as a result of publishing this case study.

Your case study can focus on one of the following client objectives:

  • Complying with government regulation
  • Lowering business costs
  • Becoming profitable
  • Generating more leads
  • Closing on more customers
  • Generating more revenue
  • Expanding into a new market
  • Becoming more sustainable or energy-efficient

3. Establish a case study medium.

Next, you’ll determine the medium in which you’ll create the case study. In other words, how will you tell this story?

Case studies don’t have to be simple, written one-pagers. Using different media in your case study can allow you to promote your final piece on different channels. For example, while a written case study might just live on your website and get featured in a Facebook post, you can post an infographic case study on Pinterest and a video case study on your YouTube channel.

Here are some different case study mediums to consider:

Written Case Study

Consider writing this case study in the form of an ebook and converting it to a downloadable PDF. Then, gate the PDF behind a landing page and form for readers to fill out before downloading the piece, allowing this case study to generate leads for your business.

Video Case Study

Plan on meeting with the client and shooting an interview. Seeing the subject, in person, talk about the service you provided them can go a long way in the eyes of your potential customers.

Infographic Case Study

Use the long, vertical format of an infographic to tell your success story from top to bottom. As you progress down the infographic, emphasize major KPIs using bigger text and charts that show the successes your client has had since working with you.

Podcast Case Study

Podcasts are a platform for you to have a candid conversation with your client. This type of case study can sound more real and human to your audience — they’ll know the partnership between you and your client was a genuine success.

4. Find the right case study candidate.

Writing about your previous projects requires more than picking a client and telling a story. You need permission, quotes, and a plan. To start, here are a few things to look for in potential candidates.

Product Knowledge

It helps to select a customer who’s well-versed in the logistics of your product or service. That way, he or she can better speak to the value of what you offer in a way that makes sense for future customers.

Remarkable Results

Clients that have seen the best results are going to make the strongest case studies. If their own businesses have seen an exemplary ROI from your product or service, they’re more likely to convey the enthusiasm that you want prospects to feel, too.

One part of this step is to choose clients who have experienced unexpected success from your product or service. When you’ve provided non-traditional customers — in industries that you don’t usually work with, for example — with positive results, it can help to remove doubts from prospects.

Recognizable Names

While small companies can have powerful stories, bigger or more notable brands tend to lend credibility to your own. In fact, 89% of consumers say they’ll buy from a brand they already recognize over a competitor, especially if they already follow them on social media.

Switchers

Customers that came to you after working with a competitor help highlight your competitive advantage and might even sway decisions in your favor.

5. Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.

To get the case study candidate involved, you have to set the stage for clear and open communication. That means outlining expectations and a timeline right away — not having those is one of the biggest culprits in delayed case study creation.

Most importantly at this point, however, is getting your subject’s approval. When first reaching out to your case study candidate, provide them with the case study’s objective and format — both of which you will have come up with in the first two steps above.

To get this initial permission from your subject, put yourself in their shoes — what would they want out of this case study? Although you’re writing this for your own company’s benefit, your subject is far more interested in the benefit it has for them.

Benefits to Offer Your Case Study Candidate

Here are four potential benefits you can promise your case study candidate to gain their approval.

Brand Exposure

Explain to your subject to whom this case study will be exposed, and how this exposure can help increase their brand awareness both in and beyond their own industry. In the B2B sector, brand awareness can be hard to collect outside one’s own market, making case studies particularly useful to a client looking to expand their name’s reach.

Employee Exposure

Allow your subject to provide quotes with credits back to specific employees. When this is an option for them, their brand isn’t the only thing expanding its reach — their employees can get their name out there, too. This presents your subject with networking and career development opportunities they might not have otherwise.

Product Discount

This is a more tangible incentive you can offer your case study candidate, especially if they’re a current customer of yours. If they agree to be your subject, offer them a product discount — or a free trial of another product — as a thank-you for their help creating your case study.

Backlinks and Website Traffic

Here’s a benefit that is sure to resonate with your subject’s marketing team: If you publish your case study on your website, and your study links back to your subject’s website — known as a “backlink” — this small gesture can give them website traffic from visitors who click through to your subject’s website.

Additionally, a backlink from you increases your subject’s page authority in the eyes of Google. This helps them rank more highly in search engine results and collect traffic from readers who are already looking for information about their industry.

6. Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.

So you know what you’re going to offer your candidate, it’s time that you prepare the resources needed for if and when they agree to participate, like a case study release form and success story letter.

Let’s break those two down.

Case Study Release Form

This document can vary, depending on factors like the size of your business, the nature of your work, and what you intend to do with the case studies once they are completed. That said, you should typically aim to include the following in the Case Study Release Form:

  • A clear explanation of why you are creating this case study and how it will be used.
  • A statement defining the information and potentially trademarked information you expect to include about the company — things like names, logos, job titles, and pictures.
  • An explanation of what you expect from the participant, beyond the completion of the case study. For example, is this customer willing to act as a reference or share feedback, and do you have permission to pass contact information along for these purposes?
  • A note about compensation.

Success Story Letter

As noted in the sample email, this document serves as an outline for the entire case study process. Other than a brief explanation of how the customer will benefit from case study participation, you’ll want to be sure to define the following steps in the Success Story Letter.

7. Download a case study email template.

While you gathered your resources, your candidate has gotten time to read over the proposal. When your candidate approves of your case study, it’s time to send them a release form.

A case study release form tells you what you’ll need from your chosen subject, like permission to use any brand names and share the project information publicly. Kick-off this process with an email that runs through exactly what they can expect from you, as well as what you need from them. To give you an idea of what that might look like, check out this sample email:

sample case study email release form template

8. Define the process you want to follow with the client.

Before you can begin the case study, you have to have a clear outline of the case study process with your client. An example of an effective outline would include the following information.

The Acceptance

First, you’ll need to receive internal approval from the company’s marketing team. Once approved, the Release Form should be signed and returned to you. It’s also a good time to determine a timeline that meets the needs and capabilities of both teams.

The Questionnaire

To ensure that you have a productive interview — which is one of the best ways to collect information for the case study — you’ll want to ask the participant to complete a questionnaire before this conversation. That will provide your team with the necessary foundation to organize the interview, and get the most out of it.

The Interview

Once the questionnaire is completed, someone on your team should reach out to the participant to schedule a 30- to 60-minute interview, which should include a series of custom questions related to the customer’s experience with your product or service.

The Draft Review

After the case study is composed, you’ll want to send a draft to the customer, allowing an opportunity to give you feedback and edits.

The Final Approval

Once any necessary edits are completed, send a revised copy of the case study to the customer for final approval.

Once the case study goes live — on your website or elsewhere — it’s best to contact the customer with a link to the page where the case study lives. Don’t be afraid to ask your participants to share these links with their own networks, as it not only demonstrates your ability to deliver positive results and impressive growth, as well.

9. Ensure you’re asking the right questions.

Before you execute the questionnaire and actual interview, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. A strong case study results from being prepared to ask the right questions. What do those look like? Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • What are your goals?
  • What challenges were you experiencing before purchasing our product or service?
  • What made our product or service stand out against our competitors?
  • What did your decision-making process look like?
  • How have you benefited from using our product or service? (Where applicable, always ask for data.)

Keep in mind that the questionnaire is designed to help you gain insights into what sort of strong, success-focused questions to ask during the actual interview. And once you get to that stage, we recommend that you follow the “Golden Rule of Interviewing.” Sounds fancy, right? It’s actually quite simple — ask open-ended questions.

If you’re looking to craft a compelling story, “yes” or “no” answers won’t provide the details you need. Focus on questions that invite elaboration, such as, “Can you describe …?” or, “Tell me about …”

In terms of the interview structure, we recommend categorizing the questions and flowing them into six specific sections that will mirror a successful case study format. Combined, they’ll allow you to gather enough information to put together a rich, comprehensive study.

Open with the customer’s business.

The goal of this section is to generate a better understanding of the company’s current challenges and goals, and how they fit into the landscape of their industry. Sample questions might include:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many employees do you have?
  • What are some of the objectives of your department at this time?

Cite a problem or pain point.

To tell a compelling story, you need context. That helps match the customer’s need with your solution. Sample questions might include:

  • What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution?
  • What might have happened if you did not identify a solution?
  • Did you explore other solutions before this that did not work out? If so, what happened?

Discuss the decision process.

Exploring how the customer decided to work with you helps to guide potential customers through their own decision-making processes. Sample questions might include:

  • How did you hear about our product or service?
  • Who was involved in the selection process?
  • What was most important to you when evaluating your options?

Explain how a solution was implemented.

The focus here should be placed on the customer’s experience during the onboarding process. Sample questions might include:

  • How long did it take to get up and running?
  • Did that meet your expectations?
  • Who was involved in the process?

Explain how the solution works.

The goal of this section is to better understand how the customer is using your product or service. Sample questions might include:

  • Is there a particular aspect of the product or service that you rely on most?
  • Who is using the product or service?

End with the results.

In this section, you want to uncover impressive measurable outcomes — the more numbers, the better. Sample questions might include:

  • How is the product or service helping you save time and increase productivity?
  • In what ways does that enhance your competitive advantage?
  • How much have you increased metrics X, Y, and Z?

10. Lay out your case study format.

When it comes time to take all of the information you’ve collected and actually turn it into something, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Where should you start? What should you include? What’s the best way to structure it?

To help you get a handle on this step, it’s important to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the ways you can present a case study. They can be very visual, which you’ll see in some of the examples we’ve included below, and can sometimes be communicated mostly through video or photos, with a bit of accompanying text.

Here are the sections we suggest, which we’ll cover in more detail down below:

  • Title: Keep it short. Develop a succinct but interesting project name you can give the work you did with your subject.
  • Subtitle: Use this copy to briefly elaborate on the accomplishment. What was done? The case study itself will explain how you got there.
  • Executive Summary: A 2-4 sentence summary of the entire story. You’ll want to follow it with 2-3 bullet points that display metrics showcasing success.
  • About the Subject: An introduction to the person or company you served, which can be pulled from a LinkedIn Business profile or client website.
  • Challenges and Objectives: A 2-3 paragraph description of the customer’s challenges, before using your product or service. This section should also include the goals or objectives the customer set out to achieve.
  • How Product/Service Helped: A 2-3 paragraph section that describes how your product or service provided a solution to their problem.
  • Results: A 2-3 paragraph testimonial that proves how your product or service specifically benefited the person or company and helped achieve its goals. Include numbers to quantify your contributions.
  • Supporting Visuals or Quotes: Pick one or two powerful quotes that you would feature at the bottom of the sections above, as well as a visual that supports the story you are telling.
  • Future Plans: Everyone likes an epilogue. Comment on what’s ahead for your case study subject, whether or not those plans involve you.
  • Call to Action (CTA): Not every case study needs a CTA, but putting a passive one at the end of your case study can encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you’ve done.

When laying out your case study, focus on conveying the information you’ve gathered in the most clear and concise way possible. Make it easy to scan and comprehend, and be sure to provide an attractive call-to-action at the bottom — that should provide readers an opportunity to learn more about your product or service.

11. Publish and promote your case study.

Once you’ve completed your case study, it’s time to publish and promote it. Some case study formats have pretty obvious promotional outlets — a video case study can go on YouTube, just as an infographic case study can go on Pinterest.

But there are still other ways to publish and promote your case study. Here are a couple of ideas:

Lead Gen in a Blog Post

As stated earlier in this article, written case studies make terrific lead-generators if you convert them into a downloadable format, like a PDF. To generate leads from your case study, consider writing a blog post that tells an abbreviated story of your client’s success and asking readers to fill out a form with their name and email address if they’d like to read the rest in your PDF.

Then, promote this blog post on social media, through a Facebook post or a tweet.

Published as a Page on Your Website

As a growing business, you might need to display your case study out in the open to gain the trust of your target audience.

Rather than gating it behind a landing page, publish your case study to its own page on your website, and direct people here from your homepage with a “Case Studies” or “Testimonials” button along your homepage’s top navigation bar.

1. Title

case study format: title

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The title is one of the most important parts of your case study. It should draw readers in while succinctly describing the potential benefits of working with your company. To that end, your title should:

  • State the name of your customer. Right away, the reader must learn which company used your products and services. This is especially important if your customer has a recognizable brand. If you work with individuals and not companies, you may omit the name and go with professional titles: “A Marketer…”, “A CFO…”, and so forth.
  • State which product your customer used. Even if you only offer one product or service, or if your company name is the same as your product name, you should still include the name of your solution. That way, readers who are not familiar with your business can become aware of what you sell.
  • Allude to the results achieved. You don’t necessarily need to provide hard numbers, but the title needs to represent the benefits, quickly. That way, if a reader doesn’t stay to read, they can walk away with the most essential information: Your product works.

The example above, “Crunch Fitness Increases Leads and Signups With HubSpot,” achieves all three — without being wordy. Keeping your title short and sweet is also essential.

2. Subtitle

case study format: subtitle

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Your subtitle is another essential part of your case study — don’t skip it, even if you think you’ve done the work with the title. In this section, include a brief summary of the challenges your customer was facing before they began to use your products and services. Then, drive the point home by reiterating the benefits your customer experienced by working with you.

The above example reads:

“Crunch Fitness was franchising rapidly when COVID-19 forced fitness clubs around the world to close their doors. But the company stayed agile by using HubSpot to increase leads and free trial signups.”

We like that the case study team expressed the urgency of the problem — opening more locations in the midst of a pandemic — and placed the focus on the customer’s ability to stay agile.

3. Executive Summary

case study format: executive summary

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The executive summary should provide a snapshot of your customer, their challenges, and the benefits they enjoyed from working with you. Think it’s too much? Think again — the purpose of the case study is to emphasize, again and again, how well your product works.

The good news is that depending on your design, the executive summary can be mixed with the subtitle or with the “About the Company” section. Many times, this section doesn’t need an explicit “Executive Summary” subheading. You do need, however, to provide a convenient snapshot for readers to scan.

In the above example, ADP included information about its customer in a scannable bullet-point format, then provided two sections: “Business Challenge” and “How ADP Helped.” We love how simple and easy the format is to follow for those who are unfamiliar with ADP or its typical customer.

4. About the Company

case study format: about the company

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Readers need to know and understand who your customer is. This is important for several reasons: It helps your reader potentially relate to your customer, it defines your ideal client profile (which is essential to deter poor-fit prospects who might have reached out without knowing they were a poor fit), and it gives your customer an indirect boon by subtly promoting their products and services.

Feel free to keep this section as simple as possible. You can simply copy and paste information from the company’s LinkedIn, use a quote directly from your customer, or take a more creative storytelling approach.

In the above example, HubSpot included one paragraph of description for Crunch Fitness and a few bullet points. Below, ADP tells the story of its customer using an engaging, personable technique that effectively draws readers in.

case study format: storytelling about the business

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5. Challenges and Objectives

case study format: challenges and objectives

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The challenges and objectives section of your case study is the place to lay out, in detail, the difficulties your customer faced prior to working with you — and what they hoped to achieve when they enlisted your help.

In this section, you can be as brief or as descriptive as you’d like, but remember: Stress the urgency of the situation. Don’t understate how much your customer needed your solution (but don’t exaggerate and lie, either). Provide contextual information as necessary. For instance, the pandemic and societal factors may have contributed to the urgency of the need.

Take the above example from design consultancy IDEO:

“Educational opportunities for adults have become difficult to access in the United States, just when they’re needed most. To counter this trend, IDEO helped the city of South Bend and the Drucker Institute launch Bendable, a community-powered platform that connects people with opportunities to learn with and from each other.”

We love how IDEO mentions the difficulties the United States faces at large, the efforts its customer is taking to address these issues, and the steps IDEO took to help.

6. How Product/Service Helped

case study format: how the service helped

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This is where you get your product or service to shine. Cover the specific benefits that your customer enjoyed and the features they gleaned the most use out of. You can also go into detail about how you worked with and for your customer. Maybe you met several times before choosing the right solution, or you consulted with external agencies to create the best package for them.

Whatever the case may be, try to illustrate how easy and pain-free it is to work with the representatives at your company. After all, potential customers aren’t looking to just purchase a product. They’re looking for a dependable provider that will strive to exceed their expectations.

In the above example, IDEO describes how it partnered with research institutes and spoke with learners to create Bendable, a free educational platform. We love how it shows its proactivity and thoroughness. It makes potential customers feel that IDEO might do something similar for them.

7. Results

case study format: results

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The results are essential, and the best part is that you don’t need to write the entirety of the case study before sharing them. Like HubSpot, IDEO, and ADP, you can include the results right below the subtitle or executive summary. Use data and numbers to substantiate the success of your efforts, but if you don’t have numbers, you can provide quotes from your customers.

We can’t overstate the importance of the results. In fact, if you wanted to create a short case study, you could include your title, challenge, solution (how your product helped), and result.

8. Supporting Visuals or Quotes

case study format: quote

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Let your customer speak for themselves by including quotes from the representatives who directly interfaced with your company.

Visuals can also help, even if they’re stock images. On one side, they can help you convey your customer’s industry, and on the other, they can indirectly convey your successes. For instance, a picture of a happy professional — even if they’re not your customer — will communicate that your product can lead to a happy client.

In this example from IDEO, we see a man standing in a boat. IDEO’s customer is neither the man pictured nor the manufacturer of the boat, but rather Conservation International, an environmental organization. This imagery provides a visually pleasing pattern interrupt to the page, while still conveying what the case study is about.

9. Future Planscase study format: future plans

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This is optional, but including future plans can help you close on a more positive, personable note than if you were to simply include a quote or the results. In this space, you can show that your product will remain in your customer’s tech stack for years to come, or that your services will continue to be instrumental to your customer’s success.

Alternatively, if you work only on time-bound projects, you can allude to the positive impact your customer will continue to see, even after years of the end of the contract.

10. Call to Action (CTA)

case study format: call to action

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Not every case study needs a CTA, but we’d still encourage it. Putting one at the end of your case study will encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you’ve done.

It will also make it easier for them to reach out, if they’re ready to start immediately. You don’t want to lose business just because they have to scroll all the way back up to reach out to your team.

To help you visualize this case study outline, check out the case study template below, which can also be downloaded here.

case study templates: general

Business Case Study Examples

You drove the results, made the connection, set the expectations, used the questionnaire to conduct a successful interview, and boiled down your findings into a compelling story. And after all of that, you’re left with a little piece of sales enabling gold — a case study.

To show you what a well-executed final product looks like, have a look at some of these marketing case study examples.

1. “Shopify Uses HubSpot CRM to Transform High Volume Sales Organization,” by HubSpot

shopify case study example

What’s interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. This reflects a major HubSpot value, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why Shopify uses HubSpot and is accompanied by a short video and some basic statistics on the company.

Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it’s elaborated upon in the additional text on the page. So, while case studies can use one or the other, don’t be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project’s success.

2. “New England Journal of Medicine,” by Corey McPherson Nash

new england journal of medicine medical case study example

When branding and design studio Corey McPherson Nash showcases its work, it makes sense for it to be visual — after all, that’s what they do. So in building the case study for the studio’s work on the New England Journal of Medicine’s integrated advertising campaign — a project that included the goal of promoting the client’s digital presence — Corey McPherson Nash showed its audience what it did, rather than purely telling it.

Notice that the case study does include some light written copy — which includes the major points we’ve suggested — but lets the visuals do the talking, allowing users to really absorb the studio’s services.

3. “Designing the Future of Urban Farming,” by IDEO

ideo urban farming business case study example

Here’s a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, he or she is greeted with a big, bold photo, and two very simple columns of text — “The Challenge” and “The Outcome.”

Immediately, IDEO has communicated two of the case study’s major pillars. And while that’s great — the company created a solution for vertical farming startup INFARM’s challenge — it doesn’t stop there. As the user scrolls down, those pillars are elaborated upon with comprehensive (but not overwhelming) copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and additional visuals.

4. “Secure Wi-Fi Wins Big for Tournament,” by WatchGuard

Then, there are the cases when visuals can tell almost the entire story — when executed correctly. Network security provider WatchGuard can do that through this video, which tells the story of how its services enhanced the attendee and vendor experience at the Windmill Ultimate Frisbee tournament.

5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Boosts Social Media Engagement and Brand Awareness with HubSpot

hubspot engagement and brand awareness campaign case study example

In the case study above, HubSpot uses photos, videos, screenshots, and helpful stats to tell the story of how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used the bot, CRM, and social media tools to gain brand awareness.

6. Small Desk Plant Business Ups Sales by 30% With Trello

trello small business case study example

This case study from Trello is straightforward and easy to understand. It begins by explaining the background of the company that decided to use it, what its goals were, and how it planned to use Trello to help them.

It then goes on to discuss how the software was implemented and what tasks and teams benefited from it. Towards the end, it explains the sales results that came from implementing the software and includes quotes from decision-makers at the company that implemented it.

7. Facebook’s Mercedes Benz Success Story

Facebook’s Success Stories page hosts a number of well-designed and easy-to-understand case studies that visually and editorially get to the bottom line quickly.

Each study begins with key stats that draw the reader in. Then it’s organized by highlighting a problem or goal in the introduction, the process the company took to reach its goals, and the results. Then, in the end, Facebook notes the tools used in the case study.

facebook automobile industry case study example

Showcasing Your Work

You work hard at what you do. Now, it’s time to show it to the world — and, perhaps more important, to potential customers. Before you show off the projects that make you the proudest, we hope you follow these important steps that will help you effectively communicate that work and leave all parties feeling good about it.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2017 but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in July 2021.

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Viral Videos: A Guide to the Imperfect Art

Virality. Many brands want to go viral, but it’s more of a mystery to create viral content in a digital age where the most unpredictable content can reach millions of views overnight. There is no secret recipe for the perfect viral video, and yet there are videos that receive millions of views every year. What’s the secret?

Unfortunately, virality is more of an art than a science. While there is no tried-and-true formula for virality, there are some elements that we consistently see — and knowing what that puts you one step closer to attaining that viral glory.

Download Now: Social Media Trends in 2022 [Free Report]

So let’s identify some of the commonalities that can make them internet-famous.

The Science of Virality

From the latest trending Twitter or TikTok moment to some of the oldest viral moments to come from YouTube, like “Keyboard Cat” or “Charlie Bit My Finger,” the science of a viral video is an ever-changing imperfect formula.

How do videos go viral?

While for YouTubers of today, it may take a lot of luck, some common elements of viral videos can set you up for success. According to HubSpot research in the 2022 Video Marketing Report, these are the most prevalent characteristics:

  • Title length: Videos had short titles (3 words or less)
  • Run-time: Videos had shorter run times (3 minutes or less).
  • Captures viewer’s attention in first few seconds: Videos featured the element of surprise (defined as seeing or hearing an expression of surprise, such as a scream or gasp) or interesting propositions breaking of norms.
  • Content is relatable in nature: Videos featured relatable circumstances, situations or subject matter that viewers of multiple different backgrounds could relate to.
  • Production quality: Videos displayed a musical elements reflecting high production value in resolution, props, and well-thoughtout ideation.
  • Talent: Many viral videos were composed of songs, dances, or performances that required practice and talent.

The Art of Viral Videos: Applying Data to Real-Life Scenarios

The Marketing Report also includes survey data marketing professionals about which factors are most effective for creating viral videos, the most commonly cited characteristics are as follows:

  • Short and concise title (3 words or less) and run-time (3 minutes or less)
  • Uses engaging story-telling format
  • Invokes pleasant emotions like laughing
  • Involves elements of irony or surprise
  • Allows participation to be made public
  • Is practically useful

You can translate this list to craft a unique, viral message representing your brand, and we’ll give you our take on how to tap into each.

And while some of these items (like a short title and run-time) are self-explanatory. But others (like story format, elements of irony and surprise, public indicators of participation, and practical use) may need to be more evident, so here are some tips for addressing these more complex factors.

1. Tell a Story

Since the beginning of language, humans have been programmed to consume stories. Stories influence our thinking and provide sensory experiences. Because of these responses, people are attracted to content in a conventional story format.

Ensure you have the traditional elements of a narrative (beginning, character, conflict, climax, and resolution) present in your video, and your viewers will identify it as a story.

You could also experiment with using well-known tropes in your video — for example, you can convey an idea through a common tale like a pirate story to simplify what it’s like to use a “Smooth CRM for Rough Seas” like HubSpot:

The ad narrates how giving our CRM platform to characters, such as pirates, would alter their stories and help them find the treasures they’re looking for. This kind of video is a cute, funny way of incorporating that theme while still focusing on the brand’s mission.

2. Be Ironic

Irony is among the most common factors among viral videos at an astounding 90% of surveyed videos. That makes it a high priority when crafting your viral message.

How do you incorporate irony? You do what the majority of the sample videos did — demonstrating the breaking of social norms.

Think: Are there any social norms associated with your brand or product? Can you break one of those relevant norms in an ironic yet on-brand way?

Let’s take a look at an example. Marvel published a brilliantly ironic video for the release of Thor in 2011. Called “Little Thor,” the video is a parody of the adorable Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial that starred a little boy dressed as Darth Vader trying to harness the power of the force.

In “Little Thor,” a girl dressed as Thor is going around the house, trying to use Thor’s hammer to wield great power on the dog (appropriately named Loki), a doll, and her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

the art of viral videos: being ironic as shown in THOR ad

As we watch this, it’s practically identical to the Volkswagen commercial, and we assume it’s probably another video in the same series. Ultimately, the father comes home, and she runs outside for one last attempt with her hammer. We assume that her father will sound the car’s alarm, just as the father did in the VW Super Bowl commercial, but instead — the car explodes! We then realize this commercial is not for Volkswagen but for the upcoming Thor movie.

the art of viral videos: thor ironic plot twist in advertisement

irony in viral video making shown in plot twist

This video is ironic on multiple levels. First, it’s an ironic parody of a popular ad. Second, the child dressed as Thor is a girl, which goes against gender stereotypes (and breaks a social norm). Third, the car explodes, which is ironic since the video is a spoof of a car commercial.

An ironic video like that is a humorous way to introduce people to your brand personality.

3. Surprise the Audience

Half of the viral videos contained an element of surprise.

Why do people like to be surprised? In a world where we view thousands of ads daily, people are tired of seeing the same things repeatedly. A surprise is a nice, refreshing change of pace to all that monotonous content.

So how do you incorporate elements of surprise while still making your video relevant to your company?

Your company should be the surprise.

More specifically, your company’s benefits should be the (pleasant, funny, cheerful, etc.) surprise element to your video.

Take the iconic Old Spice commercial, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” video campaign. It’s an excellent example of using a surprise element to exaggerate the benefits of their body wash in a fun, ironic way.

The ad features a towel-clad actor in a bathroom with the shower running behind him. He says that, while your man is unfortunately not him, your man could smell like him with Old Space body wash. Then suddenly, the shower backdrop is pulled right out from behind him to reveal that he is on a boat! This story continues with constantly changing wardrobe, props, and backgrounds.

Viewers are constantly surprised and excited to see what “the man your man could smell like” will do next.

While not every brand has the budget to do a video like Old Spice, think about how you can surprise your audience in small and big ways — it could help your video get shared.

4. Encourage Sharing

Berger said that people are more likely to participate if they can publicly indicate their participation. Why? Because people like to show off and feel like they’re in the know.

It’s easy for people who interact with you in person — a branded t-shirt, bumper sticker, or pen will do the job just fine. But it’s harder to provide public participation indicators for people who interact with you online.

Correction: it was harder to provide them before social media came around.

Nowadays, social sharing buttons are on practically every form of online content: YouTube videos, website articles, audio clips, etc. This allows people to share the content they enjoy with their friends, who can then share it with their friends, etc.

By incorporating social sharing buttons on your videos and wherever you end up hosting them, you meet your audience’s need to share their experience with others.

5. Think Practicality

The two things we all have in common are that we all have problems, and we’re all looking for solutions to fix them.

People always search for informational content, from headache remedies to looking up recipes for a last-minute potluck dinner. Chances are, your customers are also looking for information regarding your field or industry. And it’s in your best interest to provide it for them.

By creating a practical, useful video, you accomplish a few essential things:

  1. You provide information to people who prefer to seek it on their own.
  2. You can encourage those people to share that information with their networks (accommodating those seeking advice from their friends).
  3. You establish yourself as a helpful tool and source of information, increasing trust (and hopefully loyalty).
  4. If you have strategically placed calls to action in your video, you can convert viewers to the next stage of the buying journey.

Can your video provide practical information that your customers might be looking for? A good first step is to identify a problem your customers are having and provide information on how they can fix it.

Maybe you sell makeup, and you have a lot of customers who aren’t sure how and when to apply it — you could create a how-to video for tips and tricks to apply makeup. Or maybe your company provides eye exams, but many first-time children are scared of the visit — you could film a tour of your office, with a step-by-step explanation of the eye exam for mothers to show their children.

By providing this helpful information, you help people associate you with solutions — which come in handy when they want to buy something down the road.

Take Pillsbury’s video for “Crescent Mummy Dogs,” for example. It’s an instructional video that shows how you can make a fun, playful dish for your children at Halloween. Parents might be searching for a recipe like this for their child’s school party, and Pillsbury has provided the recipe and a how-to video to accompany it. This way, they make completing this recipe as easy as possible, so parents who try it love it and will be more likely to share it with their friends — and heck, maybe even buy Pillsbury dough to make the recipe.

Set Your Next Video Up for Success

There’s no magic formula for the perfect viral video — but there are some general guidelines to help get you there. By understanding the elements that make content successful, you can predict (and even create) the content that will become popular. It’ll allow you to create videos that are more likely to be widely distributed online strategically.

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

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How Recession News has Impacted Consumer Spending [Data]

If you’ve watched the news recently, it seems that the possibility of a recession has captured everyone’s attention.

Americans have already seen signs like the inflation of rent, gas prices, groceries, and other necessities that pre-existing wages can’t meet. But, still, some experts say that we could still avert a recession – and if we don’t – a recession might not last as long as 2008’s.

With all these changes and news bites in mind, business decision-makers might wonder how their potential customers are reacting. And, if their spending habits could be changing in the near future as a result?

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

While we don’t know if we’ll head into a recession, this post aims to help brands and marketers prepare to continue to meet consumers where they are – even in uncertain times.

To give readers insight on how spending behaviors are or could be shifting, we surveyed more than 200 U.S. consumers across all age groups once in the summer of 2022 and again the following winter.

Before we dive in, we’ll briefly explain the concept of a recession:

Recessions are a normal part of the business cycle and can be induced by global economic shocks, changes in consumer confidence, and other large-scale economic changes.

But this year, in particular, there are a select few factors that have spurred concern about a potential recession, although one still hasn’t been declared or confirmed.

For more on the cause of recessions and why some are concerned about them happening in the near future, check out this helpful post from our partners at The Hustle.

Are We in a Recession?

According to multiple sources, including Forbes, we are not currently in a recession.

“The current economic indicators of a recession have yet to appear,” one Forbes article said.

Forbes went on to say there is still concern that a recession is expected in 2023. While we may not be in a recession right now, many consumers are considering changing their spending habits just in case.

How Consumer Spending Habits Could be Changing Today [Data]

1. How has the news of a potential US recession impacted your spending habits?

When we asked this question in the summer of 2022, we found that most respondents (30%) were purchasing less and spending money more concisely than they were in previous months (28%).

how how has the potential us recession impacted your spending habits new survey data: majority spending less

When we posed the same question again the following winter, we found that 30% of respondents said they were making very few purchases because of the potential recession, and 24% said they are spending money more conscientiously than they have in previous months.

We also noticed that the number of respondents who said news of a potential recession might impact their spending rose from 13% to 20% between summer and winter. The number of respondents who said the new hasn’t impacted their spending also dropped from 17% to 13%.

Copy of LinkedIn - Graph - 1104 x 736 (7)

Rising costs of goods and services often cause consumers to become more cautious in frivolous spending, and we’re sure Americans are feeling the effects arise quickly.

As a marketer or brand leader, now might be a good time to consider discounts, sales, deals, or freemium marketing. While people are potentially tightening their wallets, they still might purchase items, services, or experiences that are affordable or provide bang for their buck.

How Spending Could Change In a Recession

When thinking about consumer spending behavior, it’s often contingent on outside factors, and news of immense changes in the economy is worth looking into. Below is the distribution of varying consumer decisions and how they’d respond to financial uncertainty or a potential recession in the future.

2. If a recession is declared, how will your home budget change in the first three months of this new financial era?

Unsurprisingly, most consumers polled in the summer (64%) said they’d decrease or continue to decrease their home budget if a recession was declared.

how could spending change due to recession: majority will somewhat decrease their home budget

By winter, that percentage dropped to 57%; however, only 27% said their budget would stay the same and only 15% said it would increase at all.

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As of November 2022, inflation hit 7.1%, but, wages aren’t moving to match these changes. Naturally, the public is already looking for ways to avoid breaking the bank — by reducing their budgets.

If you market B2C brands or products that would be used specifically in the home, this is important to keep in mind if financial uncertainty continues. While you shouldn’t panic and change your whole marketing strategy over just one small survey, you might want to consider strategies like marketing your most affordable, discounted, or essential products over higher-priced or luxury items.

3. During uncertain financial times, what did you spend the most money on?

We also asked consumers to reflect on their purchasing behavior in previous economic eras with the question, “During uncertain financial times (such as past recessions or during the COVID-19 pandemic), what did you spend the most money on?”

during uncertain financial times survey polling indicates that consumers spend money on basic necessities and less on pleasure

When surveyed in both the summer and winter, the most prominent goods consumers have bought in uncertain times are typically considered basic necessities.

  • Essential Groceries and Food
  • Rent, Mortgage, Housing Bills
  • Essential Personal Care Products
  • Medication and Healthcare

The data reflects a shift to self-preservation and less on shopping for pleasure or taking on risks comes as no surprise. By eliminating costs for leisure or entertainment, people can ensure their families are taken care of before taking their dollar to do things like start a business, take a stroll to the movies, or invest in an unpredictable market.

The good news? This doesn’t necessarily mean a complete pause in retail, entertainment, or other non-essential services. Almost 10% still plan to invest in digital or online entertainment, around 9% would still invest in restaurants and bar outings – as well as education and academics, and over 16% would invest in clothing and apparel, So, unlike the pandemic, we probably won’t see entire economies close up completely for months at a time.

How an Upcoming Recession Could Differ from 2008

There are key differences between this recession and 2008, mainly in the factors that caused it and its projected duration.

According to Morgan Stanley, the possible recession would be largely pandemic-induced and credit-driven.

COVID-related fiscal and monetary stimulus contributed to inflation and drove speculation in financial assets. This is very different from the Great Recession of 2008.

The 2008 recession was due to debt-related excesses built up in housing infrastructure, which took the economy nearly a decade to absorb. By contrast, excess liquidity, not debt, is the most likely catalyst for a recession today.

Due to the difference in causes, experts at IMF predict a new recession could be short and shallow.

With that said, 58% of respondents said their spending habits would be the same as they were during previous uncertain times such as COVID-19, the 2008 recession, or times of person financial uncertainty.

Key Takeaways for Businesses in 2022

As marketers, we’re not experts in financial markets and shouldn’t be seen as a source for investment, HR, and legal advice. And no one ever knows for certain if or when there will be a recession.

It’s also to keep in mind that while the results above can certainly help you navigate how to market your brand, they’re just a portion of one small survey and a brief look into the eyes of consumers. Before making any major decisions about your marketing department, spend, or business, you absolutely should do your research, analyze multiple data points, and consult experts in your industry.

While your decisions should be based on a deep dive of data, the survey results above do show that marketers should be cautious about how their efforts might need to pivot with changing consumer needs or trends.

Here are a few takeaways to keep in mind.

  • A recession today might not be the same as 2008. While consumers likely will tighten budgets and look for products that offer the most value or necessity for their dollar, they might not be in detrimental financial conditions. They could still be persuaded to buy a great product that’s marketed to them in the coming months.
  • Market your product’s affordability, value, and/or necessity: As consumers and businesses tighten their budgets, making sales, retaining customers, and persuading people to buy non-essential products will be more difficult. Make sure you are marketing that your product has added value or importance, other than being flashy, trendy, or cool.
  • Marketers might want to explore more cost-effective strategies. (Think reducing excess ad spend and focusing on organic social, SEO, or email marketing instead.)

Remember, financial uncertainties – and even recessions – are common. And while it might become more challenging to win customers in the coming months, business and consumers will still keep moving (and making purchases) even as we wait for the cycle to run its course.

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How to be a Great Coworker: 16 Tips and Tricks from HubSpot Insiders

If you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that’s over 2,000 hours a year spent with the same coworkers (give or take a vacation or two, of course). Therefore, if it isn’t already your top priority, being a great coworker definitely should be.

→ Click here to download leadership lessons from HubSpot founder, Dharmesh  Shah [Free Guide].

Strong relationships are the foundation of a positive work environment and set the tone for nearly your entire work life. Even if you hate how Jim blows his nose at his desk, or you cringe every time Stacy brings up her cats, these people greatly influence your work day-to-day.

The bottom line is that collaboration and connection will get you much farther than you may think. (Trust us! Hubspot has been named #1 for happiest employees and #2 for best place to work.) For our exclusive insider tips, keep reading.

1. Appreciate and acknowledge.

When people feel unappreciated in the workplace, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to see the benefit of going that extra mile. With no recognition, there’s little motivation to continue.

That’s where you come in. Whether you’re a manager or just a grateful peer, make an effort to give credit.

Taking time in a meeting to give kudos, writing an email, or sending a Slack message takes minutes. However, this gesture can make someone’s entire day.

“As an intern, I assumed I would mostly go unnoticed and fly under the radar in my day-to-day work. However, this summer, I never felt so uplifted and praised for the hard work I was contributing to my team,” says one incoming HubSpot marketing associate and summer 2022 marketing intern. “Even my out-of-office accomplishments were recognized!”

2. Respond to emails or calls promptly.

Everyone has a job to do. And if your approval or feedback is required for one of your coworkers to move the needle on a project, don’t make them wait.

Bottlenecking a project is not only frustrating, but it can also have a significant impact on a person’s ability to reach team or company-wide goals.

Pro tip: If you’re unsure whether or not you’re guilty of this, ask your teammates to specify a time frame within the body of their emails to help you keep track of priorities.

If you don’t have time to respond immediately, one HubSpotter suggests shooting them a quick ‘I’m held up right now, but I’ll look this over this afternoon or tomorrow’ message.”

3. Be reliable.

Outside of prompt email responses, being reliable overall will go a long way. Your coworkers want to know they can trust you to complete assignments, offer support, and provide assistance during tough times.

Reliability not only improves your relationships. You’ll also play an important role in pushing projects across the finish line.

“To me, a great coworker is a reliable coworker, someone I know will get things done one time and with great execution,” says Jamie Juviler, a marketing manager at HubSpot. “That’s especially important in projects with many stakeholders and moving parts. If everyone stays on track, things get done.”

4. Be humble.

Being humble doesn’t mean selling yourself short. Instead, humility actually shows that you have a clear perspective, and you’re self-aware. In fact, this attitude is one of HubSpot’s core values.

In an office setting, this ability to recognize your own limitations can make it easier for you to build meaningful relationships with your coworkers. You’ll also be able to ask for help when needed, which improves the quality of your work.

Pro tip: Ask your colleagues for assistance when needed. This signals to them that you’re open to other ideas. They’ll also feel comfortable reaching out to you for your expertise in the future. Sounds like a win-win!

5. Create clear documentation.

You may be great at your job, but your impact will be minimized if no one knows what you do.

Take the time to clearly document your role, how you complete these tasks, and which processes you own. A few written documents (or even bullet points) can help people understand how to work best with you.

“Whether you’re in a small or large team, taking the time for proper process, project, or training documentation will make you the ultimate team player — all while saving you some time in the long run,” says Bianca D’Agostino, a senior marketing manager and SEO strategist at HubSpot.

Documentation becomes even more important if you are at a global company with employees in different time zones.

“My teammates and I take extra time and care noting down what we know, what we’re asking of each other, and being super transparent about our timelines/goals,” D’Agostino adds. “Since our team is global and scattered across a few different time zones, this skill has made our team so much stronger!”

6. Reach out to new teammates.

New job nerves are the pits. You toss and turn the night before your big first day, worrying about everything from what shirt will look best to whether or not your fun facts actually are some semblance of fun.

Experienced workers, do your part to help new team members feel at ease. Make an effort to help them get situated during their first few days or weeks on the job.

“It’s always awkward being the ‘noob’ walking into a room of unfamiliar people, so sit next to them at their first meeting. It’s a small gesture that will make them feel all the more welcome,” suggests Anum Hussain, a former team manager at HubSpot. Today, Anum is the head of content marketing and audience growth at Reforge.

Pro tip: Ask your new teammates welcoming questions, or invite them to join you for lunch (either in-person or virtually).

7. Steer clear of gossip.

Ah, the office water cooler. Whether in an office or on a Zoom call, we all can fall victim to slipping in a cheeky comment or two.

It’s easy to get caught up in complaining about Steve’s work ethic or to gush about a suspicious relationship between two interns. However, engaging in office gossip is both risky and unprofessional. Plus, gossip can result in some pretty sticky situations.

Pro tip: Keep lines of communication open. The more transparent and honest you and your team are with one another, the less room there is for speculation.

(Want more on this? Check out this post on how to deal with office politics).

8. Avoid annoying office habits (remote or in person).

We all have quirks and idiosyncrasies. Even so, self-awareness matters, as does keeping tabs on behaviors that rub colleagues the wrong way.

So which office habits are considered annoying? In 2022, Quality Logo Products surveyed over 1,900 workers to find out. Interrupting (48%), taking credit for someone else’s work (47%), and oversharing (45%) ranked among the most annoying behaviors.

good coworker, what types of behavior are the most annoying in a co-worker? Interrupting 48%, taking credit for someone else’s work 47%, oversharing 45%, not doing their work 42%, arrogance 41%.

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Working remotely doesn’t automatically solve the problem. Quality Logo Products found that remote workers face a different set of challenges.

Slow responses to emails or instant messages ranked as the most annoying behavior in remote colleagues at 48%. Background noise during calls (47%) and eating on camera (43%) were also at the top of the list.

what types of behavior are most annoying in a remote colleague? Slow responses to emails or ims 48%, background noise during video or phone calls 47%, muting and unmuting at inappropriate times 40%, sending messages outside of work hours 39%

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The lesson: Be considerate of others and how you are in each space. If you share a common space such as a meeting room, be sure to clean up after yourself. If you’re on a Zoom call, be aware of your settings. These are simple tasks that truly go a long way for everyone around you.

“It took me a few weeks into my first job out of college to realize just how loud my chewing was in the roomful of quiet, concentrating people. Were my coworkers wearing headphones because they liked listening to music, or because I’d been chowing down on carrots for the last 20 minutes?” jokes Lindsay Kolowich Cox, a former marketer at HubSpot.

For more tips on how to be more considerate in the office, check out Lindsay’s article on breaking annoying office habits.

9. Share your resources.

Take a look at the people you work closely with. They’ve all been hired for a reason, right? Maybe Nathan is really great at problem-solving, while Sue can negotiate like no other. There’s something you can learn from everyone.

Regardless of our unique strengths and specific titles, sharing helpful resources can benefit your whole team.

“Find something particularly inspiring or thought-provoking? Whether it’s a blog post or intriguing design, it could be just what your neighbor needs to kickstart their big project,” insists one HubSpotter.

10. Gather feedback.

Competition hurts collaboration. Make sure your team has a psychologically safe environment where they feel encouraged to share ideas. That can include offering suggestions or pitching something entirely new.

“One of the biggest, and sometimes hardest, things you can do as a teammate is giving space to other coworkers to pitch their ideas and suggestions (even if you disagree with them),” says Pamela Bump, the manager of HubSpot’s Growth Team.

“When you work with or manage a team, it’s easy to hog the keys to the car. Because many workplaces can feel competitive, this is an instinct we all struggle to shove off.”

If you struggle with creating the space for contribution, remember that more voices can unlock new perspectives. A colleague can help you solve that problem you’ve been struggling with for months.

“Especially when building something from scratch, more voices can lead to more success,” Bump says. “By building a time or space for people to share their thoughts … you can get those great perspectives without getting overwhelmed by too much feedback.”

Pro tip: Consider building a feedback session into your meetings, holding a dedicated brainstorming workshop, or creating a collaborative Google Doc to gather ideas.

11. Be respectful of people’s time.

It’s no secret that we are all busy. Often, we wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.

While you can’t resolve these problems with the wave of a wand, you can take small steps by respecting your coworkers’ time. Be aware that 5 minutes here and 20 minutes there can add up during the day. Make an effort to show up on time and come prepared.

“If a meeting ends early, don’t try to fill the time. If a meeting doesn’t need to happen anymore, cancel it. Being respectful of people’s time is appreciated,” urges a HubSpotter.

12. Find ways to connect online.

If you work in a hybrid or remote environment, you’ll need to try a bit harder to form close connections with coworkers. Instead of being able to peer over your cubicle to say hi to neighbors, you now have to schedule in time for those casual catch-ups.

Pro tip: Set up weekly Zoom lunches, monthly team show-and-tells, or just ping a friend living across the country to grab a virtual coffee. These simple conversations go a long way, especially when it’s so easy to get caught up in heads-down work at home.

Aside from being a great excuse to socialize during the day, they provide a shared experience to look forward to while strengthening your company’s identity and culture.

13. Make valuable introductions.

Heard one of your coworkers is looking for a freelancer for the project they’re working on? If you know just the person, make a connection.

“Two networks are always better than one,” insists Eric Peters, a product lead at HubSpot.

Help your coworkers achieve their goals by making introductions between folks who would benefit from knowing each other.

Maybe you recommend a potential candidate for an open position or connect a new hire with a tenured employee to provide them with some guidance. These intros show that you’re a team player.

14. Get coworker buy-in.

If you’re running a project or initiative, make sure your coworkers feel connected toward their work. A common mission improves the culture of your team and strengthens colleague relationships.

“When you include people, try their ideas, or even just take the time to hear them out, they feel included — even if you respectfully disagree with one or two suggestions,” suggests Bump. “Involving your team will motivate them around a joint project which will be good for you and them in the long run.”

Buy-in creates a better work experience and establishes you as a trusting, empathetic colleague.

“Many will even want to work with you more often,” Bump says, “all because YOU gave them a platform to speak when others would have just micromanaged.”

15. Lighten the OOO workload.

Anytime you miss a couple of hours or days in the office — whether for personal reasons, a vacation, or an illness — it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

With this feeling in mind, act accordingly: Help your coworkers avoid this vicious cycle by stepping in to lend a helping hand when and where you can.

“Offer to help take over some of their work so they don’t come back to a pile of it and won’t worry about getting stuff done when they need to be away,” suggests Corey Wainwright, HubSpot’s former director of content.

Even if you can’t add more to your plate, remember to act with empathy and remind your colleague that they should take whatever time they need to catch up. There’s no need to make up all of the work in one day.

16. Listen.

Often, the most helpful thing you can do for a coworker is to give them a chance to talk through something. Whether it’s regarding their strategy to approach a complicated task or solely to share how much is going on in their personal lives and how they feel overwhelmed.

Active listening is a skill that will help you empathize with what your coworker is going through, even if you can’t put yourself in their shoes directly.

“I appreciate a teammate who is an active listener. I like to feel like I’m being understood and listened to during conversations, and I hope my coworkers also feel that from me,” says Flori Needle, a marketing manager at HubSpot. “I let people know that I’m listening by asking follow-up questions and being engaged during conversations, and I appreciate the same from my coworkers.”

Pro tip: Sometimes, people don’t need you to propose a solution. Instead, they just need to hear their thoughts out loud. Lending that ear can go a lot farther than you may assume.

Furthermore, these small acts of kindness help establish trust and comradery, feelings that bolster a productive and effective work environment.

This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Equinox Champions the Anti-Resolution

Welcome to HubSpot Marketing News! Tap in for campaign deep dives, the latest marketing industry news, and tried-and-true insights from HubSpot’s media team. 

The beginning of January is like the Superbowl for fitness and wellness brands.

Year after year consumers set goals to form healthier habits in the new year and 2023 is no exception. According to Statista’s Top New Year’s Resolutions Survey, 52% of American adults want to exercise more, 50% hope to eat healthier, and 40% are looking to lose weight this year. 

You would think fitness brands would be going all-in to capitalize on this momentum, right? Well, upscale fitness chain Equinox had other plans.

On January 1, Equinox updated the company website and shared controversial social posts claiming the company “Doesn’t Speak January” and isn’t allowing new members to join during the month to prioritize those who are dedicated to fitness year-round.

The statement has been controversial, with some consumers criticizing the brand for shaming those at the beginning of their wellness journey and being exclusionary.

Reading through the tweet replies left me wondering: do we truly expect a company that charges upwards of $330 per month for membership dues to be the poster child for inclusivity?

New Year’s resolutions, especially those geared towards fitness, have a bad reputation because so few people achieve them. Many believe those who don’t achieve their resolutions fail because they aren’t motivated enough to stick with it when in reality it’s often because people don’t have the tools, resources, and support they need to make lasting changes.

As a consumer, frequent year-round gym-goer, and former fitness professional, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and disagree with Equinox discouraging new members from joining in January.

As a marketer, I could see the messaging from Equinox did exactly what it intended to do — create a viral moment that got people talking (we know the brand is no stranger to controversy).

If the goal of a brand is to help people live healthier lives, forming the habit of exercise should be encouraged year-round especially when people feel motivated and excited to do so. But I would argue that isn’t the primary goal of Equinox.

Instead, the goal is to sell a lifestyle that prioritizes upscale experiences and social status, not accessible wellness solutions.

When exclusivity is part of a brand’s ethos, exclusive messaging may be disappointing but is ultimately on-brand. 

Marketing Snippets

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How TikTok trends gave insight into the economic landscape of 2022.

Curious about ChatGPT? Here are five ways marketers can use AI to improve SEO.

TikTok rolls out a new feature to help users understand why they see certain videos on their For You Page.

Instagram Reels have become incredibly lucrative for some creators

Measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy using 2023 benchmarks.

Hiring trends for marketers: 15 essential stats from marketing leaders.

Twitter eases restrictions on cause-based and political advertisements.

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[COMING SOON] The State of Social Media in 2023

It’s almost here…

Thanks for your interest in our upcoming Social Media Trends report and its corresponding pillar, “The State of Social Media in 2023: How You Can Build Communities, Drive Sales, and Go Viral, According to 1,000+ Social Media Managers “.

If you’ve arrived on this page, we know our content so far has made you eager to see the full report. Check back on this same page on February 6, 2023, for our full report and corresponding blog posts.

We hope you enjoy what we’ve got in store for you! 

Worried you’ll forget? Click here or below to set a Google Calendar reminder that will notify you when the report is live.


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Curious what’s in store? Here are a few topics we’ve got coming for you: 

  • 10 Social Media Trends Marketers Should Watch in 2023 [Data + Expert Tips]
  • The Best Times to Post on Social Media in 2023 [New Data]
  • Which Channels See The Most Social Media ROI? [New Data + Expert Tips]
  • Are Brands Investing in Social Media Communities in 2022? We Asked 1,000+ Marketers
  • How These Brands Use Social Media for Customer Service [Expert Tips]

… and more, plus the full Social Media Marketing Report. 

Plus, hear from leaders at Dropbox, Zoom, ClickUp, Asana, and more. 

We’ll also send this content out in our Marketing Blog Newsletters, so be sure to subscribe to the HubSpot Marketing Blog by clicking the banner below and never miss a beat!

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