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How We Prioritized Which Review Sites We Care About at HubSpot

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan has said it many times: More businesses die each day from overeating than from starvation. They spread themselves across so many different priorities that it becomes impossible to gain major traction with any of them.

The same is true when it comes to managing customer reviews for your business. There are so many different places a business can be reviewed today that keeping them all in order can feel a bit like a game of Whac-a-mole.

(A few examples would be G2, Gartner Peer Insights, and Capterra.)

This was the problem we faced at HubSpot. If we tried to give the same care and attention to every single review site, we’d only have a minimal impact on each site. While it was important for us to read and consider every piece of feedback, it was also crucial for us to understand which sites were going to have the most impact in moving HubSpot’s mission forward: helping millions of organizations grow better.

However, how exactly could we determine which sites were likely to have the greatest impact? We needed to figure out which sites were wholesome brand-builders and which were just tasty distractions.

This is why I developed HubSpot’s “Customer and User Review Scoring Algorithm”. I designed the algorithm so we could objectively consider dozens of different criteria that assess the importance of various third-party sites. With this algorithm, we could determine how to focus our efforts over the coming months.

The Components of the Customer and User Review Scoring Algorithm

I realized that, for our specific business (as an inside sales-based SaaS company), there were three primary scores necessary to gain a full perspective of the review sites in our orbit:

  1. Health Score: How positively is HubSpot currently represented on this site?
  2. Sales Enablement Score: How important is this site to sales enablement?
  3. Acquisition/Visibility Score: How important is this site to the acquisition of new users or the general perception of HubSpot and its products?

For each score, I chose a variety of criteria I could measure (see below) and scored each site against the criteria. I was then able to weigh the criteria against each other so that criteria we deemed more important would have a greater influence over the score.

For example, we determined that our review rating (out of 5) on each review site was more important than the overall number of reviews we had on each site.

How We Prioritized Which Review Sites We Care About at HubSpot

See above all of the criteria I used to create each score, and click here to see an example Google Sheets template of the scoring rubric.

Leveraging the Customer and User Review Scoring Algorithm

To truly understand each score and how the different review sites stacked up against each other, I plotted the data on two different grids. This process allowed us to see the Sales Enablement Score and Acquisition/Visibility Score each plotted against the Health Score.

The grids below represent what this looked like for HubSpot a couple of years ago. The colors of the grid correspond to how much attention should be devoted to improving HubSpot’s health on the given site (see the corresponding notes in red).

The Sales Enablement Grid — English Focused

how hubspot prioritized review sites enablement and health score matrixThe Acquisition/Visibility Grid — English Focused

how hubspot prioritized review sites acquisition and health score matrix

Armed with objective data and these handy grids, I was not only able to better direct my own review-oriented efforts, but I was also able to gain much better alignment and buy-in from other teams that leverage or impact customer reviews.

As a result of the campaigns that came out of this research, we were able to drive hundreds of five-star reviews, bring up our star rating on our goal sites, and influence countless deals.

If you’re looking to spin your business’s flywheel and acquire new customers, then a positive online reputation is a must-have. Approaching these reviews can feel a bit intimidating simply because of the sheer volume of websites, but fear not! Armed with this scoring system you can boil down the ocean and focus your attention purely on what matters.

Check out this template to get started today!

14 Essential Features for Taking Payments on Your Website

There are a lot of things I used to buy in person that I now buy online. I wouldn’t call myself lazy, but it’s just so much easier to carry a box of paper towels from my doorstep into my apartment than it is to carry it down the street from my local grocery store.

And I’m not alone. Whether it’s because of the larger selection, better pricing, convenience, or something else, a lot more people are buying stuff online nowadays instead of in person. Despite the growing number of online shoppers, people are still wary of the setbacks of paying for stuff online. In particular, people still get nervous about giving their personal and credit card information to online retailers.

If you’re an ecommerce business, a big part of attracting and delighting your customers will be providing them with a stable, reliable, secure, and smooth online shopping experience. That starts with creating your payment gateway.

How to Create a Payment Gateway

A payment gateway is a technological front-end component of payment processing that bridges the gap between your business’s financials and the customer’s financials during a transaction. To get an understanding of what I mean, it helps to know how payment processing works.

steps of processing payments online: customer makes a purchase, psp accepts the purchase data, merchant receives the data, their bank approves the purchase, psp sends data to the gateway, merchant accepts the payment.

On one hand, the customer’s financial institution must approve or deny the purchase. On the other, your payment service provider (PSP) and merchant account need this data to process the transaction and receive payment. Coordinating these moving parts is your payment gateway.

Here’s how to set it up.

1. Open a merchant account.

A merchant account is a type of business account that accepts payments of multiple types, including credit cards. Funds from online purchases land in your merchant account after they’ve been processed, and you’ll then be able to transfer them into your business banking account.

In order to create a payment gateway, it helps to already have a merchant account set up as it will be the final destination for funds from successful transactions.

2. Choose a payment service provider (PSP).

While the gateway acts as the front-end of payment processing for a transaction (i.e. the interface that customers directly interact with), the payment service provider facilitates the transaction on the back-end, passing financial data across all the moving parts. In order to create a payment gateway for your customers to interact with, you must first set up a PSP to hook it up to.

3. Decide whether you want to build or buy your payment gateway.

You have the option to build a payment gateway yourself (custom) or partner with a provider to get one “out of the box.”

Custom builds may be able to suit a wider range of your unique needs and save on transaction fees. However, it may be costly to develop and maintain.

An “out of the box” payment gateway is quicker to set up, but you’ll want to ensure that it comes with all of the features that you need. Some may even come with PSP functionality, which saves you time during the setup.

Top gateway providers in the industry include Authorize.Net, Stripe, and PayPal.

If you plan to take payments on your website, then be sure you’re checking everything off from the list below.

Essential Features for Taking Payments on Your Website

1. Multiple Login Options

While it’s more convenient for your marketing to require shoppers to create an account before placing an order, it doesn’t always benefit your customers. You might lose people along the way if you don’t give them the option to check out as a guest. Remember: You can always ask them to create an account once they’ve bought from you and feel a little closer to your brand.

example login and guest checkout

Image Credit: VWO

You should also think about offering shoppers the option of logging in with one of their social media profiles, like Facebook or Twitter. This can reduce registration friction because it makes the login process a lot faster. Make sure you add that you’ll never post without the customer’s permission, if applicable.

The caveat of allowing a social login? It’s the one connection shoppers will have to log in — and if anything changes about that connection (the terms of service for the social network change or they delete their account on the network), their ability to log into your site will change, too. So if you’re allowing people to authenticate with social logins, figure out other ways ask for more contact information.

2. Authentication/Login Layers

Customers who do have an account with you want to know that their information is safe — even if they forget their login information. To give them peace of mind, be sure to require several verification layers before you restore their login information. For example, if a customer forgets her password, your site could require various security questions before sending an email to a pre-determined email address.

3. PCI Compliance

The PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) defines a series of specific Data Security Standards (DSS) that are relevant to all merchants, regardless of revenue and credit card transaction volumes.

If you host and manage your own ecommerce platform, it’s your responsibility to ensure PCI compliance at the required compliance level, which is based on credit or debit card transaction volume over a 12-month period. Most SaaS shopping carts will have PCI compliance built in.

4. Integrated Payment Processor

While you can get away with payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay if you have a very small website and a low number of transactions, it’s much better to integrate a payment process directly into your website.

With some processors, online shoppers get redirected off your website to a pay site that doesn’t look like yours — which disrupts their experience, visually disconnects them from your brand, and can be confusing or nerve-racking and prompt them to abandon their cart.

An integrated payment solution that processes your customers’ information on your own server allows for more flexibility and customization. Plus, it’s a much smoother experience for your customers.

An integrated payment page will require an SSL certificate to ensure a secure connection. Which brings me to my next point…

5. SSL Certificate

Every ecommerce website needs an SSL certificate to protect customers’ personal and credit card information. SSL is the standard security technology that makes sure all data passed between a web server and a browser remain private.

Without it, hackers can steal your customers’ information — and online shoppers won’t feel safe submitting their information on your website. Online shoppers will be able to tell your website’s secure when they see an “https://” at the beginning of your URL, as opposed to just “http://”.

Read our article to learn how to get an SSL certificate on your website.

6. Credit Card Logos and Security Seals

Speaking of keeping online shoppers at ease, you might want to add credit card logos and security seals to your website to reassure shoppers that your site is a secure, trusted place to do business. Make them visible at least in the shopping cart and checkout phases of your site, or even try integrating them into the footer of your website.

7. Checkout Buttons

The less time customers have to spend looking for an option to check out, the sooner they’ll take action and buy. We recommend putting checkout calls-to-action — in a color that really stands out — at the top and bottom of your web pages.

Check out this checkout button example from ModCloth (no pun intended):

checkout button example from modcloth

Want a little button design help? Click here to see get free call-to-action templates.

8. Visual Checkout Process

If you need to spread the checkout process across multiple pages, give shoppers a visual indicator of how far they’ve progressed and how long they have left to go. Again, ModCloth does this particularly well:

visual checkout process example from modcloth

9. Return & Refund Policy

Shoppers don’t get to physically look at or feel a product before they purchase it online, which can make some people nervous and disincentivize them to buy. To help mitigate this, make your return and refund policy readily available. Consider making it part of the checkout process and even putting it in the footer of your website.

Be sure your policy is succinct, informative, engaging, and easy to understand. Say whether the customer will get a refund or an in-store credit, stipulate a timeframe for returns, define the condition you expect the product to be in, and disclose any fees up-front — like who will cover the cost of shipping.

10. Clear Path to Your Contact Information

Online shoppers want to know they can easily reach your company for support — especially if they’re first-time customers. If you don’t give them a clear path to your contact information, they may either hesitate to buy from you, or they may not get the support they need to complete a transaction.

Include contact information like a phone number (with availability hours), email address, street address, and social media accounts. Preferably, list this information as text (not as an image) so it’ll get picked up by search engines in local searches. Some retailers also like to offer live chat options — just be sure that you’ve integrated it with your customer records so you can build smarter marketing campaigns in the future.

11. Detailed Confirmation Page Before Checkout

Before allowing online shoppers to check out, you’ll want to take them to a detailed confirmation page before finishing the transaction. This page should let them review their cart, give them the option to change the quantity or remove items, include a final price (including tax and shipping), and indicate when the items will be shipped.

12. Optimized Checkout Page Design

The best checkout pages are functional, secure, attractive, and easy to use and navigate. The last thing you need is someone with purchasing intent getting cold feet at the last moment simply because they can’t use your system or don’t have faith in it.

13. Mobile Payments

Buyers don’t just buy on desktop. They also buy on mobile, so your payment gateway must be responsible and easy to navigate for mobile users too. If your have a mobile app, you may also need additional functionality to process payments on iOS and Android.

14. Confirmation Email

Finally, you’ll want to create a confirmation email that includes the order number, the product, payment, and shipping information, and your return and refund policy — just in case. If possible, use a real “from” email address (instead of noreply@company.com) that can be answered by a member of your customer support staff. You’ll also want to make the order confirmation page easy to print. This is the time when you can offer guest customers the option to sign up for an account, too.

Setting up your ecommerce business is exciting, even if all the details can be a little overwhelming. With a little bit of planning, you’ll be well on your way to processing ecommerce transactions left and right.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How to Use WordPress: Ultimate Guide to Building a WordPress Website

The thought of creating your own website may seem overwhelming.

You might even think this task is impossible for anyone but a developer or a person with a background in web design.

Well, I have good news for you — there’s a software out there that’s so easy to use, virtually anyone can successfully create a unique and professional-looking website for their business, blog, or portfolio. It’s called WordPress.

But how?

This ultimate guide will cover a basic step-by-step process of creating your own WordPress website as well as a list of tips and tricks to remember while working with WordPress.

But first, let’s answer the question most people have when they begin thinking about their new WordPress website: What is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

The difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com has to do with who is actually hosting your website.

You host your own website or blog on WordPress.org, through a third-party hosting provider. You also have to download your WordPress software, buy a domain name on a third-party site, and manage your server. It’s a much more hands-on experience than with WordPress.com.

WordPress.com offers to host your website for you. You also don’t need to download any software or manage a server. If you choose WordPress.com, your website’s URL will look like this: https://ift.tt/1Pt8449. However, you have the option to also upgrade your WordPress.com account and buy a custom domain from a third-party provider (meaning your URL will look like this: www.mywebsite.com).

How to Choose Between WordPress.org or WordPress.com

You may be wondering whether WordPress.org or WordPress.com would be a better fit. Let’s review a few more of the pros and cons that come with both options, so you can make an informed decision.

WordPress.org is ideal if you want full power over customizing and controlling your website. However, there is a lot more responsibility that comes with managing a WordPress.org website. You have to purchase and set up your own domain name, upload and install plugins and a theme, edit your website’s code, and manage your website’s security. WordPress.org is free to use, but you have to pay for everything else that goes into having a website.

WordPress.com is preferable if you’re looking for an all-in-one option that has most of the hard work done for you. You’ll never need to manage your server, pay for your hosting, or buy a domain. There are also a number of customization options that come with a WordPress.com plan to help you make your website look the way you want it to.

WordPress.com has a free and paid version. If you stick with the free version, you can’t upload any custom themes or plugins, and you will have a WordPress subdomain. However, there is always the option to pay for premium upgrades and other plans that provide you with even more features and control, as well as the option to buy a custom domain through a third-party site.

WordPress for Beginners: How to Use WordPress

There are a number of ways for you to create your dream website with WordPress. Users generally find the software easy to use, but getting started can be understandably intimidating if you’re completely new to the process. That’s why we have built this “WordPress for Beginners” guide. Want a quick introduction before you dive deep? Check out this helpful video:

For even more resources, we’ve also compiled some of the best websites for learning about WordPress — these can be incredibly valuable sources of information as you start you journey.

Below, we will take a closer look at how to start creating your website.

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS today. Its ease of use and versatility enable the majority of users and business owners to create a website that works for their needs. Here’s how you can do the same.

1. Select a WordPress plan (WordPress.com only).

To begin creating your website, select a WordPress plan. As stated earlier, with WordPress.org you only have one (free) plan option — but it requires you to buy your domain, hosting provider, plugins, themes, and everything else related to your WordPress site.

With WordPress.com, you’ll have to choose between the five plans they offer.

pricing plans for a wordpress website

The main differences between these plans are the monthly fee, types of site customization, and the access you get to marketing tools.

2. Set up your domain name and hosting provider.

Setting up your domain name and choosing your hosting provider for WordPress typically happen around the same time in the website creation process.

Before we talk about how to complete those tasks, let’s discuss the difference between your domain name and hosting provider.

Think about your domain name as your home address — it’s how your visitors are able to locate your website on the Internet. You domain name will look something like this: www.example.com.

Your hosting provider is like your house — it’s where your website files are actually stored. Without a hosting provider, your site wouldn’t have space on a server to “live.” Some of the best WordPressing hosting providers include WP Engine, Bluehost, and Kinsta.

product page for wp engine wordpress hosting

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How to pick domain and hosting providers

Again, WordPress.org requires you to create your own domain and find a third-party hosting provider for your website. WordPress.com allows you to decide whether or not you want a custom domain depending on the plan you choose, but it takes care of the hosting for you.

Your hosting provider is important because it impacts your website’s speed, security, and reliability. There are hundreds of providers to choose from, which is why we put together a list of 22 of the best WordPress hosting providers to help you decide what will work best for you. All of these providers meet WordPress’ three hosting requirements:

  • PHP version 7.4 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.1 or greater.
  • HTTPS support

When considering hosting providers for your WordPress site, make sure they meet all of the above criteria.

For domain names, getting one is as easy as searching and purchasing one through your
domain registrar of choice. If you are new to WordPress.com but have already purchased and created a domain name elsewhere, no problem — you’ll have the option to
transfer or
map it to your WordPress website.
For the sake of this guide, let’s assume you do
not yet have a domain or hosting provider. Here’s how to start creating your website with the popular hosting service Bluehost.

First, head to Bluehost’s website and click Get Started.

product page for bluehost wordpress website hosting

From here, you’ll be taken to Bluehost’s pricing page to choose from four plans.

pricing for bluehost wordpress website hosting

Once you choose your plan and click Select, you’ll be taken to another page to sign up with a domain name.

Bluehost signup page for WordPress website

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Once you select your domain name, you’ll be brought to a page to complete your account and billing information for your purchase.

Bluehost account page for WordPress website

After confirming your account and purchasing your domain, you will gain access to your hosting dashboard where you’ll be able to install the WordPress CMS.

3. Install WordPress.

If you are using a hosting provider outside of WordPress, you’ll need to install the CMS to connect your new domain to your website.

This time, let’s use GoDaddy as an example. (Don’t worry, no matter the hosting provider you choose, this process looks similar.)

Note: If you choose to use a managed WordPress hosting service like WP Engine or Kinsta, you won’t need to go through this process, as those services were built specifically for WordPress and will have WordPress installed for you.

To start, log into your GoDaddy account, click Web Hosting, and then Manage. You will be brought to a screen with your account details.

GoDaddy account for WordPress website

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Scroll down and under Options & Settings, you will see an area titled Popular Apps. Click on the WordPress app to begin the installation.

GoDaddy settings for WordPress website

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After installing WordPress, you’ll need to answer a few questions about the domain you want to use, the directory where you want to install WordPress, and your admin information.

After about 24 hours, your website will be installed to your hosting account, and GoDaddy will send you an email confirmation.

Now that you have your domain set up and WordPress installed, you’ll next need to set up your “Primary Domain” within WordPress, so your visitors see your website when they search your domain.

In WordPress, go to My Site and click Domains. Select the custom domain you want to make your primary domain.

Setup custom domain for WordPress website

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Then, click Make Primary.

domain settings for WordPress website

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Confirm you meant to make this change by clicking Update Primary Domain.

primary domain for WordPress website

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Verify the update was successful by looking for a green box with a checkmark that says Primary Domain.

verify domain for WordPress website

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Now, on to step four: making your website look nice.

4. Choose your theme.

You can customize your WordPress website using WordPress’ many themes and templates, each of which contains a multitude of layouts, formatting styles, colors, fonts, and other visual options.

WordPress automatically applies a default theme that looks rather plain. You can keep it, but your website visitors may not be so impressed. A custom WordPress theme, whether it’s paid or free, will make your website look appealing and professional to your buyer personas.

Similar to the wide range of hosting providers available, there are also hundreds of themes and templates to choose from. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide to 20 of our favorite themes and templates and categorized them by purpose. Whether you’re looking for a theme versatile enough for multiple different business types, or one suitable for your ecommerce site, portfolio, blog, or business, there’s a theme that will work for your specific needs. On top of your theme, you can further customize your pages with a builder tool like Elementor.

To find a theme that works best for you in WordPress.org, head to your admin dashboard. Click Appearance, then Themes. You’ll be brought to another screen where you can browse available themes or search for a specific one you have in mind.

the theme selection page on a wordpress website

Once you find the perfect theme, simply install it to begin customizing. Each theme has different steps required during the customization process, so be sure to follow them closely. If a theme has a website (often accessible through the WordPress theme and template library), check for documentation as you work through the customization process.

5. Add posts and pages to your website.

When you add content to your WordPress website, it’s usually displayed in the form of posts and pages.

Posts (or “dynamic pages”) are typically used for blogs and portfolios because they automatically place your newest website content at the top of your featured content. Pages are static, which is why they appeal more to business owners — the added content stays in the same place.

Posts and pages are the main post types in WordPress. Additionally, there are other native post types, as well as custom post types. For now, we can just stick to pages and posts.

Start by deciding whether you want a post or page to serve as the homepage (or any page) of your website. To add a post to your website, go to the admin dashboard, click Posts and then Add New.

the dashboard menu on a wordpress website

You can add a title for your post, place photos, change the format, and insert page elements via blocks and shortcodes. Click Save Draft to save your changes as a draft, or click Publish to immediately take the post live.

Adding a page to your website is a similar process. In your admin area, click Pages, then Add New.

the dashboard menu on a wordpress website

First, add a title to your page. Next, you can insert photos, embed videos, and add content. Follow the same steps to create multiple pages for your website. When finished, click Save Draft or Publish.

6. Customize your website.

Beyond the theme you choose, there are a number of ways to further customize your website. Let’s review a few options.

First, let’s customize your site title. From your admin dashboard, select Settings > General. Here, add your website title and tagline. You can also toggle other basic site information like you URL, email, time zone, and more.

the general setting page on a wordpress website

Next, let’s customize your reading sections. Under Settings > Reading, you can change your home page to a static page.

the reading setting page on a wordpress website

Consider this if you’re a business owner who prefers having content remain in one place on your website. Consider using a dynamic page if you’re a blogger who prefers having your newest content appear at the top of your pages. This way, your visitors can easily find your latest posts.

The navigation bar is customizable, too. This enables your visitors to easily find information on your website.

Add a navigation bar by going to your admin dashboard, clicking Appearance and then Menus.

the menus options page on a wordpress website

From here, you can determine how you want your bar to look, how many pages you want to include, what you want to title those pages, and what order you want them to be listed in.

Of course, this is just a fraction of what you can do in the dashboard — click here for more information on your WordPress site settings and customization options.

7. Install plugins.

Plugins are pieces of software that add functionality to your WordPress website and enhance the user experience. With over 55,000 available plugins, there are options for most every type of website and user. Some of the most popular plugins available include:

  • HubSpot WordPress Plugin: Easily add pop-ups, forms, and live chat to your WordPress website. And as an added bonus, pair this plugin, or other CRM plugins, with your HubSpot CRM.
  • The Events Calendar: An effortless events calendar that makes scheduling events from your site easy.
  • Yoast SEO: The go-to plugin to help you with on-page SEO. This app makes sure you’re following best practices before you push your site live.
  • TablePress: Need a table on your site? Look no further.
  • The SEO Framework: Another plugin that can help you master SEO on your site.

To begin installation, head to the Plugins section in your admin dashboard. This shows you all the plugins currently installed on your site. Depending on your host, you might have several plugins installed already. Note that for a plugin to work you must activate it after installing.

the plugins page on a wordpress website

To add a new plugin, click Add New. Search for your desired plugin and then click Install Now, wait a few seconds, then click Activate.

the add plugins screen on a wordpress website

Get the WordPress CRM plugin that helps you organize, track, and nurture your leads.

8. Optimize your website to increase page speed.

Website performance is a critical part of the user experience. If a page takes too long to load, your visitors will move quickly to another site. You don’t want to frustrate visitors with slow speeds.

You can improve your website’s performance by enabling browser caching. Browser caching is the process of temporarily storing your website’s data on your visitors’ browsers. That way, your content doesn’t need to be sent from the web server for it to appear in the browser, which increases the website speed.

To enable caching for your website, install and activate a caching plugin with the process described above.

9. Get inspired from WordPress website examples.

As you begin to customize your website, you may feel overwhelmed by all the options you have. Instead of starting completely from scratch, it helps to grab some inspiration from other exemplary WordPress websites. Here are some of our favorites:

99% Invisible is a popular podcast that focuses on design and architecture. Their website is sleek, modern, and offers easy navigation for visitors to quickly access each podcast episode.

the homepage for the 99 percent invisible wordpress website

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The Houston Zoo’s website displays its main attraction on the homepage. The magnifying glass icon on the top menu bar makes searching the site effortless.

homepage for the houston zoo wordpress website

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Awesome Motive, the creators behind several WordPress projects, engages their visitors with a polished, yet simple website. It features subtle animation to grab people’s attention.

Awesome Motive WordPress website example

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WordPress Website Tips and Tricks

There are a number of WordPress tips and tricks to make your website as impactful and user-friendly as possible — we’ve listed 20 of them below to help you do just that.

1. Focus on the basics and create a great user experience with a WordPress theme that complements your business and website content.

2. Use dashes and not underscores when naming your files in WordPress. Google looks as underscores as joiners, meaning your file will look like one big word. That won’t help you with your SEO. Use dashes to make it obvious there are separate words. (For example, use https://ift.tt/2CWyE97, not https://ift.tt/2P8AhYz).

3. Use WordPress’ online support for any questions or concerns you may have while creating or using your website. There are a number of forums and ways to reach out to WordPress experts listed on their website.

4. Use Image Alt Text to your advantage. Image Alt Text can be used to improve your SEO and Google rankings.

5. Keep your sidebar as organized as possible. Stick to the essentials and think about what your website visitors and buyer personas really need quick and easy access to.

6. Back up your website regularly, so if you ever lose access or have technological difficulties, you have everything you need to completely restore your content. There are a number of plugins, such as Snapshot Pro, made specifically for backing up your WordPress content.

7. Learn and understand SEO basics to ensure your website is completely optimized so you can boost your conversions.

8. Create a custom homepage. As mentioned earlier, WordPress will provide you with a default homepage. Take the time to create your own with a theme that works for your business — remember, this is your visitor’s first impression of your business, blog, or portfolio.

9. Keep an eye on your website’s performance and know what is and isn’t working for your visitors. There are a number of useful WordPress plugins, as well as Google Analytics software, to help with this performance.

10. Include an “About Us” page on your website to show your visitors you’re a trustworthy person and/or business. “About Us” pages are known to be the second most-visited pages on websites (after homepages) — so introducing yourself is important.

11. Make sure your site is secure to ensure there are no hackers gaining entry. Again, there are plenty of plugins such as WP Defender to help you with security.

12. Create custom permalinks. Permalinks are the permanent URLs that you plan to keep static for the foreseeable future. They’re important because they improve user experience and enhance your WordPress website SEO.

13. Create a custom navigation bar (as we reviewed earlier) to make your site easy to use for your visitors.

14. Include excerpts on your blog posts so people don’t land on your blog page and see your entire piece at once. By only including excerpts on your blog page, you make room to list all of your blogs in one location. Visitors can then read the excerpts and click-through to read the posts they are most interested in.

15. Structure your website in a way that makes sense for your business, visitors, and buyer personas. For example, use posts if you’re a blogger and use pages if you’re a business owner.

16. Remove “Comment” and “Share” buttons from specific pages of your website. You don’t need (or want) a “Comment” or “Share” button on your “About Us” page, or any of your service pages for that matter.

17. Consider what your website looks like on mobile. It’s no secret people are searching the Internet while on their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices these days. Consider using a plugin to help you achieve a responsive, mobile WordPress design.

18. Use visuals and video content when possible to break up the text on your website pages.

19. Update your WordPress site and plugins regularly. WordPress will tell you when updates are released. This will keep your website looking fresh and working efficiently.

20. Use social proof to show your new website visitors how many other people have already viewed your site and content. There are plugins to help you do this in a matter of minutes.

21. Pick a CRM that works with your WordPress site. A CRM can help you keep track of the way users are interacting with your website and company. Here’s a list of some of the best WordPress CRM options.

Build a Website With WordPress

Having a great website matters. It’s how you connect with your visitors and leads, create a positive first impression with new users, and boost conversions. The good news is creating your own website doesn’t have to be a daunting process…at least not with WordPress.

The easy-to-use CMS offers completely customizable plans suitable for all needs. With no prior knowledge necessary, you can start building your own site for your business, blog, portfolio, or online store immediately.

How to Create a Facebook Group for Your Business [+ Why You Should]

Facebook groups have helped me find roommates in Boston, potential dog breeders for a family pet, and women’s networking opportunities in the nearby area.

In short: Facebook groups are undeniably valuable.

Recently, companies have taken advantage of groups for their own benefits, as well — Peloton, for instance, uses groups to connect its users and facilitate a space where people can share exercise plans, training methods, and workout schedules with one another.

Other brands, including National Geographic and Instant Pot, have followed suit, creating their own community-focused groups to inspire action, encourage engagement, and increase brand loyalty.

Even HubSpot recently created its own private group, Marketer to Marketer.

If you’re considering creating a Facebook group for your own company, you’ll want to keep reading. Here, we’ll explore the differences between Facebook groups and Pages, how to create a Facebook group, and whether or not it’s worth the effort.

Let’s dive in.

Should I create a Facebook group for my business?

To determine whether a Facebook group is a good idea for your business, let’s start with the differences between a Facebook group and a Facebook Page.

Most businesses should have a Facebook Page. A Page enables you to advertise on Facebook, and it’s a public-facing profile to post company-relevant updates and announcements to Facebook users at-large.

If you’re a nonprofit organization, a Page also enables you to post a ‘Donate’ button to increase donations from the Facebook community.

Considering 1.56 billion people are on Facebook, it’s vital your business has a Facebook Page to increase brand awareness, advertise to new audiences, collect audience insights, and even chat with users looking for customer service.

As Gary Vaynerchuk told HubSpot’s CEO Brian Halligan, “… You can’t be alive in the game without a Facebook.”

All of which is to say: Having a Facebook Page is a requirement for getting your business active on one of the largest social media platforms.

A Facebook group, on the other hand, is much smaller-scale and typically more exclusive than a Page. For instance, with a group, you’re able to set up open membership, membership upon approval, or even membership by invitation only. Then, once members are accepted into your group, they’re able to freely post and engage with one another.

Simply put, a Facebook Page is company-focused, while a Facebook group is community-focused.

A group is a good idea if you’re interested in connecting your customers or leads to one another, you want to facilitate a sense of community surrounding your brand, or you’re hoping to showcase your brand as a thought leader in the industry.

However, a group is not a good idea if you want to use it to raise awareness about your products or services, or simply use it to post company announcements.

People want to join groups in which they feel a sense of belonging and connection with fellow group members, and to learn about an industry at-large — which takes effort, resources, and time to ensure your team can deliver.

If you don’t feel you have the resources to cultivate a valuable, engaging Facebook group, it might be best to wait until you do.

However, if you’ve determined a Facebook group is the right decision for your own business, let’s explore how you can create one.

How to Create a Facebook Group for Your Business

1. On your company’s Facebook homepage, click “Groups” on the left-hand side.

the group button on facebook homepage

2. Click the “+ Create New Group”.

create new group button on facebook

3. Type in a Group Name, and then choose your privacy (Public versus Private). You also have the option to invite Facebook friends immediately if you’d like. Then, click “Create”.

dashboard for creating a new facebook group

4. Click “Edit” on your cover photo to choose from Facebook photos, illustrations, or upload a photo from your computer.

the edit button to change your facebook group cover photo

5. Add a description to your Group so people know what your group is about. Additionally, if you want to create a private group for customers, you can copy-and-paste customer email addresses into your “Invite” box.

the box on a facebook group to add a group description or invite friends

And that’s it! Your Facebook Group is now ready-to-go.

However, to encourage strong retention and engagement, you’ll want to be an active community lead. To pin posts, create a poll in the group, and more, keep reading.

How to Pin a Post in a Facebook Group

A pinned post is a post that will remain at the top of your group’s timeline for seven days (unless you unpin before then).

This is important if you’ve posted content to encourage engagement. For instance, if you’ve posted an Ask Me Anything, you might want to pin that post to ensure users can find it easily even once group members start posting their own content on the timeline.

Additionally, if you’ve posted to welcome new members to the community and provide some necessary information on your group, you might want to keep that post pinned to ensure new users have the right context as soon as they jump into your group for the first time (of course, you’ll also want to provide context in your description, as well).

1. To pin a post, you’ll first need to type your message into the “What’s on your mind” box, and then click “Post”.

2. Once the post is published, click the three dots at the top right of your post and select “Mark as announcement”:

the button to pin a post on facebookAnd that’s it! Your post is now pinned to the top of your timeline for the next seven days.

Next, let’s dive into how you can create a poll in your new group.

How to Create a Poll in a Facebook Group

1. To create a poll in a Facebook group, start by clicking into the “What’s on your mind?” box. Then, click on the three dots that say “More”:
the three dots you need to click to create a facebook poll

2. Next, click “Poll” out of your menu options.

the poll tool within facebook

3. Type your poll question into the text space, and then add your individual options into each text box. Click “Poll options” to fine-tune your poll. When you’re ready, click “Post” to immediately publish your poll.

the create poll feature in facebook

How to Create a Private Facebook Group

1. You have the option to create a Private or Public Facebook group when you’re first creating a group:

privacy options for facebook groups2. However, if you created a public Facebook group and now want to make it private, you can do that by clicking “Settings” under “Manage Group” (from within your group): 

manage group dashboard on facebook3. Next, click the pencil besides “Privacy” and click on the “Private” bubble (Note: It takes three days to change a group from public to private):

changing your group to private on facebookTo learn more about the benefits of having a private Facebook group, read about how HubSpot made the decision to make its own private Facebook group — plus, why the social team feels the Facebook group is critical for faciliating deeper, more meaningful connections between HubSpot users and the industry as a whole.

And that’s it! You’re now on your way to engaging with leads, prospects, or customers directly within your Facebook group to increase brand loyalty and value.

If you’re looking for inspiration before designing your own Facebook group, take a look at 9 of The Best Facebook Groups We’ve Ever Seen.

How To Make a Vlog [Step by Step]

I will argue with alarming confidence (and no actual data) that 90’s kids were the original vloggers.

When I was about 14 years old, someone handed me a digital camera that I spent hours talking to. I would take my audience (AKA me) on my teen adventures and say things like, “Hey guys, it’s Martina. Today, my cousin and I are going over to her friend’s house.” Exciting stuff. Thankfully, that footage never saw the light of day.

When YouTube first launched, people like me finally had a platform to share stories, entertain, and educate. But then, vlogging evolved into what we know it as today: a sustainable income source for influencers and an effective content marketing tool for brands.

So, how do you start vlogging? We’ll cover that and more here.

1. Feel out the competition and find your niche.

Before you pull out your camera and start filming, you’ll have to do some strategizing. It starts with finding your niche.

This means narrowing down what your vlog will cover based on your brand, audience, and demand.

Starting with your audience: Does vlogging align with your user persona? This is critical, as you want to meet your audience where they are. Imagine creating these high-quality videos for YouTube, but your ideal customer lives on Facebook and prefers short-form videos. In this case, you would have wasted time and resources. So, start by reviewing your persona and ensuring this venture is a worthy investment.

Here are additional steps you should take to narrow down your niche:

  • Confirm the demand for your content – Use tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to double-check the interest in the type of content you will be producing. This is a useful step to generate video ideas during the initial planning phase as well as later on, when the channel is live.
  • Check out your competition – How many brands are currently creating the content you’d like to produce? To get your answer, head to YouTube, put your keywords in the search bar and go through the videos on the results page. This will tell you how saturated the market is and the difficulty level to stand out.
  • Brainstorm your approach – Once you know who your competitors are, analyze their content and develop a fresh, unique approach to fit your audience.

2. Develop a content strategy.

Now that you’ve found your niche, here comes the fun part: content planning.

Just as you would for a blog or social media account, you want to break down your content ideas. Start with broad topic clusters and work your way down to specific videos. If you’re having trouble, HubSpot’s Business Blogging course can serve as a great foundation for structuring your content.

From there, you can group your ideas into series, which work great on vlogging channels. Think of them as segments on a TV show. They fall under the broader topic but only cover something specific. For instance, let’s say Tasty wants to start a food vlog. There are several subseries they could have, including:

  • Recipe series.
  • Food shopping series.
  • Cooking accessories series.
  • Food tasting series.

Social listening will also help you keep your ear to the ground and generate new content ideas.

With vlogging, there’s an additional layer of planning involved. Will you need any props for filming? Do you need to be at a particular location? All of this will call for advanced planning to ensure filming goes smoothly.

Once you know what topics you will cover, tackle the less concrete areas. What will be your channel’s aesthetic and style? Is it light and airy or dark and moody? It’s important your vlog channel matches your overall brand. So, go back to your brand identity and use that as your guide to design your channel.

3. Invest in your equipment.

Having a successful vlog isn’t only about having great content. It’s also about having the right equipment to produce high-quality videos. Every video you produce needs:

  • A camera that captures in-focus subjects.
  • Clear and crisp audio.
  • Lighting to match the brand’s aesthetic.
  • A non-distracting background that supports the foreground.

If you’re on a budget, here are a few essentials to get you going:

  • A ring light or softbox for lighting.
  • A lav mic for audio.
  • A phone with a camera.
  • A phone stand or tripod.
  • A backdrop, if you want an empty background.

As your channel grows, you can invest in additional equipment.

4. Film and produce in batches.

One of the benefits of content planning is that you can then film multiple vlogs at once. Batch filming will save you hours of set up and make scheduling a breeze.

Start by looking at the content you plan on filming over the next few weeks. Then, see which ones can be filmed together.

Keep in mind that not every series will allow for batch-filming. For instance, if some of your vlogs will consist of behind-the-scenes footage, this strategy won’t work. Batch filming works best for videos within the same series with little to no change in the setting, like talking head vlogs.

Once you know which ones you will film, it’s just a matter of scheduling.

5. Optimize your vlog channel.

Once you’ve filmed and edited your video, there’s another step to complete before it’s ready to be published.

The first is making a thumbnail. It’s one way viewers will decide if they want to watch your video. While you can simply take a screengrab from your vlog and use that as your thumbnail, you’ll likely want to stand out with a custom thumbnail.

YouTube’s Creator Academy recommends these following specs for your thumbnail: 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9 ratio) with a resolution up to 2MB.

Next up is your video title. It’s key to gaining your audience’s interest and for SEO. Whenever you’re writing one, keep these tips in mind:

  • Include your main keyword in your title.
  • Keep your title under 70 characters.
  • Use numbers and eye-catching words to grab attention. I.e.: “X Ways to Boost Your Brand Awareness.”

Don’t forget about your video tags and descriptions. View these as additional SEO opportunities to rank higher for search queries and help audiences find your content.

6. Upload consistently.

Vlogging is a slow and steady venture that requires consistency. Yes, it’s important to have high-quality content but you can lose your audience if you don’t maintain a regular publishing schedule.

Think of your favorite TV shows. Isn’t it the worst when you’re expecting a new episode but it doesn’t air because of a football game or holiday? Well, it’s the same for vlogging.

Audiences expect consistency. When they don’t get it, they’re more likely to seek out other brands.

7. Analyze your metrics and optimize.

Once your channel begins generating views and subscribers, you can analyze your metrics to review each video’s performance.

Metrics like average watch time and audience retention can tell you if your content is resonating with your audience. Re-watches can help you identify subtopics of interest and develop more content ideas.

Impressions and click-through-rate (CTR) will tell you how attractive your thumbnail and title are. If the rate is low, you may need to try different titling strategies or use a different thumbnail template.

As with any venture, there’s trial and error involved. Analyzing your vlogs’ performance will give you the data you need to grow your channel.

1. Get familiar with the vlogging style.

There are two main types of vlog styles:

  • The documentary-style “talking head” where the vlogger sits in front of a static camera and discusses a topic for educational and/or entertainment purposes. Brands often use this for how-to videos.
  • The “come-with-me” style where the vlogger takes the audience with them to various locations. When showing behind-the-scenes or a day in the life, this style is very popular.

If the video requires it, you can also combine these two styles within one video. You can also use the styles interchangeably from one video to the next.

One mistake brands can make is take their approach to social media videos and TV, and apply it to vlogging. Vlogging audiences tend to look for longer videos that go in depth on a given topic, unlike the short, viral-friendly content you’d typically see on TikTok or Instagram.

With audiences craving more authenticity from brands, vlogs are a great opportunity to show the faces behind your brand and engage with subscribers.

2. Build from a three-act story approach.

A vlog typically follows a similar storytelling format to a blog. When a viewer lands on your video, they expect an introduction to the topic followed by a deep dive. It then ends with a recap of what was discussed and a call to action.

Following this simple story structure will help you develop the content for each section of the video without straying off course. Writing video scripts is another way to make sure you cover key points in your video.

Pro-tip: Use a teleprompter app to deliver your script seamlessly without looking rehearsed.

3. Encourage viewers to engage with your vlog.

Comments, likes, shares are some of the ways your audience can engage with you on your vlog channel. But how do you encourage that behavior? It starts with your video.

Your video should include ways for your viewers to join the discussion. A simple call out like “Tell us your thoughts on X in the comment section,” or “Put a thumbs up if you agree,” urges your viewers to jump in.

Incorporating subscribers’ comments or suggestions in your future videos is another way to encourage participation and drive your engagement rate up.

4. Vlog from your phone (if that’s your style).

Depending on your budget and the style you’re going for, you can choose between vlogging from your phone or camera.

Vlogging with a phone can give a more intimate and informal look to your vlog. It’s often used to show behind-the-scenes footage or when taking the audience on an adventure with you. However, you do sacrifice image quality when filming from a phone.

If you’re on a budget, a phone will do. As your vlog channel grows, it’s worth investing in a lightweight camera that works in different lighting conditions and has key features like image stabilization and mic inputs.

How to Edit a Vlog

Use video editing software.

When filming a vlog, you’ll inevitably pause from time to time, make mistakes, or need to reshoot something. This is where editing comes in handy.

Editing videos allows you to cut down your video to keep the most important parts. There are many video editing software available ranging in price, ease of use, and features. The most popular options include:

  • iMovie(free) – This is a great beginner option if you are on a budget and own an Apple product. This software has basic editing capabilities with a sound and music library.
  • Apple Final Cut Pro(One-time fee of $299.99) – If you want to take your editing to the next level, this is a great option. It offers a large array of templates, plugins, and audio mixing settings.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro(Starts at $239.88/year) – With features like scene edit detection and virtual reality editing, Premiere is one of the best editing tools on the market. It’s ideal for brands who are producing videos frequently and require advanced editing features.

Create an intro.

A good vlogging intro serves the same purpose as your favorite show’s theme song. It helps build a connection with your audience and helps maintain consistency.

There are a few different approaches you can take with your intro. Some brands keep it simple with a simple frame of their logo while others prefer intros that give more context into the channel with voice-overs or animation.

Whatever you choose, be sure to use that intro in every video you publish.

Add sounds and music in the background.

Think of a scary movie without any terrifying music to build up the moment. Not the same, right?

Sounds and music are subtle touches that can keep your audience engaged in your content.

One thing to keep in mind is that YouTube is very strict about the use of copyrighted material. You must use royalty-free music or risk having a muted video your audience can’t enjoy.

Thankfully, there are several free music libraries online to find royalty-free music, including YouTube Audio Library and ccMixter.

Be sure to check the fine print before downloading, as some sites require you to credit the artist on your video. If you want a wider selection of music, you will likely need to subscribe to a royalty-free music library platform.

How to Start a Vlog Channel

Pick a Vlogging Platform

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google and the most popular vlogging platform. According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of adults report using it, most users between 18 and 49 years of age.

So, naturally, it’s where most brands and influencers launch their channel. The platform also allows its content creators to monetize their videos with ads, offering an additional source of revenue.

YouTube is also one of the most lenient platforms when it comes to video length. Users can post videos up to 12 hours. But, like I tell myself when I’m tempted to eat a bag of gummy bears: even though you can, doesn’t mean you should.So, while the option is there, most brands should probably stick to videos under 30 minutes.

Find the steps to create a YouTube channel here.

IGTV

As soon as Instagram launched IGTV, it became another vlogging platform. Users can categorize their IGTV videos by series, which makes it easy to navigate. However, unlike YouTube, content creators are restricted to 20-minute videos.

A major benefit to this platform is the fact that it’s an all-in-one experience. Followers can scroll down a brand’s timeline to see their pictures and videos as well as shop their products.

With Instagram being an influencer hub, brands could benefit from collaborating with influencers for IGTV vlogs.

Vimeo

Although less popular, some brands use Vimeo to post their vlogs. Back in 2019, the site had a reported 170 million active monthly users. One benefit of using this platform is that there’s less competition, making it easier to stand out.

What Makes a Vlog Successful

According to a report by CNET, 70% of the videos users watch are recommended by the platform’s algorithm. So, getting on the algorithm’s proverbial good side is a great advantage.

The first tip for success is creating content that matches your audience’s interests. Google reported that when deciding what to watch, YouTube viewers choose interest over production value at 1.6 times the rate.

Some publishers report that the algorithm favors longer videos. However, spokespeople from YouTube have said it doesn’t prioritize by length, but instead by interest. The better a video performs, the more likely it will get recommended.

So, by focusing on creating high-quality content that aligns with your audience, you can have a highly successful vlog that’s engaging and drives traffic to your brand.

7 Call-to-Action (CTA) Tools to Help You Increase Conversions

When you create and add a compelling call-to-action (CTA) to any content — such as a website, blog post, or social media profile — you have the potential to convert more visitors into qualified leads and customers. That’s because a well-crafted CTA helps increase conversions and, therefore, prospects, customers, and revenue.

Call-to-Action Tools

Call-to-action tools, or CTA tools, exist to make the process of creating and adding CTAs to your website, blog, or social media posts simple.

You may already have access to a CTA creator/generator in your current business tools, such as your Marketing Software. If that’s not the case, consider using any of the following CTA tools to efficiently create and add CTAs where you need them most.

Here are seven tools for generating CTAs so can begin increasing conversions.

1. HubSpot Calls-to-Action

hubspot calls to action cta tool

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HubSpot’s Calls-to-Action tool allows you to create, personalize, test, and optimize CTAs that drive qualified leads to your landing pages in seconds. The easy-to-use CTA builder doesn’t require a designer and helps you make CTA buttons or CTA pop-ups. You can also upload custom button design or image-based CTAs of your own.

When personalizing CTAs, HubSpot provides useful information about individuals from your contact database (e.g. industry, lifecycle stage) to help you tailor the CTA to them. Or, if you’re targeting anonymous visitors, use other helpful details like their location or language.

Once your CTAs are complete, add them to web pages, landing pages, blog articles, or emails. Then, A/B test, analyze, and optimize your CTA’s and their performance — you can easily manage all of your CTA data from a single dashboard in HubSpot that displays views, clicks, and conversions.

2. Wishpond

wishpond call to action cta tool

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With Wishpond, create and optimize CTAs for web and landing pages with a drag-and-drop builder and over 20 templates. A/B and/or multivariate test versions of your CTAs to determine which does the best job of converting visitors.

Advanced tracking provides insight into which CTAs are most effective among your visitors. Meanwhile, marketing automation assists with customer segmentation (once visitors have converted, thanks to your CTA, of course) and sending emails. Wishpond also integrates with over 40 different tools to make tasks (such as data analysis, closing deals, and team-wide collaboration) simple.

3. Sniply

sniply cta call to action tool

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With Sniply, add CTAs to the links you share (e.g. web page, blog article, social media post) — in other words, overlay a customized CTA on any content.

Simply enter any URL that you want to include a CTA (this can be one of your own URLs or one from a third-party site). Sniply will then generate a slightly different, shareable URL for you. Once your audience clicks on the new URL, your CTA will be visible on the page.

Customize a CTA’s look (color, text, size), type (banner, pop-up), and placement on the page. Then, monitor your results and track CTA engagement from within Sniply to better understand how your audience interacts with your CTAs.

4. ClickMinded

clickminded cta call to action tool

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ClickMinded’s Da Button Factory is a free tool for generating CTAs that you can add to your website, social media post, email, or blog article. Decide what you want your CTA to say and look like by selecting button text, font, style, color, background, and size — then, the tool will generate your CTA.

Once you’re ready to implement your new CTA, opt to either download the image file or implement the button as HTML + CSS.

5. Canva

canva cta call to action tool

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Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design software with drag-and-drop features and a variety of pre-built templates that you can customize — if you’re looking to design something from scratch, you can easily do that in Canva by simply selecting your own dimensions.

Canva does not currently have a specific template for CTAs, however, it’s easy to build your own. After selecting the dimensions for your CTA, design and brand the button in any way you want. The Canva dashboard is easy to navigate, even for those without any design knowledge.

Once your CTA design is complete, download the final product and upload it to your content management system (CMS) so you can insert the CTA on a landing or web page.

6. ImageFu

imagefu cta call to action tool

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ImageFu is a button and badge generator — the tool can create CTAs in seconds. Simply type the text you want to appear in your CTA button (this can span multiple lines) and customize it to your liking. Select your border, background, shadow, corners (type and radius), and size. Then, download the CTA and save it to your device so can add it to your CMS and insert it onto a web page.

7. ButtonOptimizer

button optimizer cta call to action tool

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ButtonOptimizer is a free CTA generator that helps you customize CTA buttons for your website or landing page. Select the base color of your CTA as well as the text, size, border, icon, and shadow. Once you’re satisfied with the look of your CTA, the tool will prompt you to decide whether you want to download it as a PNG file or CSS code so you can then insert it on your site.

How to Monetize Your Brand’s Blog, According to HubSpot’s Blog Leaders

Whether you’re running a personal blog or managing the official blog on your company’s website, monetizing your work is entirely possible — it just takes a good amount of time and effort.

While there’s no exact formula to start making money, there are some tried and true strategies you can start experimenting with to see what works best for your content, your business model, and your audience.

Below, we’ll dive into some of these monetization ideas and get advice from HubSpot’s own blog leaders.

How Do Blogs Make Money?

Before we dive into the monetization strategies, you might be wondering, “How will my blog make money?” Well, your blog can make money in several ways including lead generation, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, collaborations, or advertising. To find out more, you can learn about the types of blogs that make money and see which strategy would work best for your blog.

Now that we know a few ways that blogs can make money, let’s dive into the top monetization strategies for your blog.

1. Map blog posts to specific conversion points.

As a company, you can use your blog to drive leads and conversions.

AJ Beltis, a marketing manager on HubSpot’s channel monetization team, says, “Conversion is the foundation of blog monetization. Whether it’s an ecommerce purchase, a demo request, or a content offer download, it’s imperative to have your blog posts point to an intentional, related next step in the buyer’s journey.”

So, you might be asking yourself, “How can I do that?”

Beltis’ advice is to ask yourself what somebody reading this specific blog post would want or need from your company. Then, you should create the assets you’ll need to make that conversion happen in the form of website pages, forms, or content. After that, you’ll naturally place your calls-to-action to that next step in the blog post so readers are reminded about what your recommended next step is.

“By placing these CTAs in appropriate sections of the blog, you’re more likely to capture the attention of readers with high intent. This process puts more readers on the path to become paying customers for your business,” Beltis adds.

2. Include information about your product or service in your blog posts — but do so sparingly, and thoughtfully.

When you’re writing blog posts, it’s important that each post isn’t just a sales tactic. Your blog posts should provide educational content that anyone could benefit from, not just your customers.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever mention your product or service.

According to Caroline Forsey, the editor of the HubSpot Marketing Blog, “If you’re writing content about the best tools for X, and your product or service is a good solution to that user’s search query, I’d highly recommend including it in your total roundup of tools to increase exposure and, ideally, drive more leads and customers towards your product. This is one of the most effective ways to monetize your blog for the long-term, particularly since that same piece of content might provide your business with leads 3-5 years into the future.”

Again, this doesn’t mean you should always and only promote your own product or service.

Forsey adds, “You risk damaging your blog’s reputation if you do this too often, or outside of the appropriate context. Readers don’t want to see a random ‘buy my product!’ CTA in a piece of content irrelevant to your product — and, if they feel like your content is actually just a gimmick or hidden advertisement, they’ll distrust your brand as a whole.”

To avoid this, Forsey suggests only mentioning your product or service where it makes sense, and in a list of other tools you’d suggest for businesses so they feel you’re arming them with useful information so they can make their own decision best-suited for their needs.

“Trust me: if readers enjoy reading your content and feel your brand is genuinely helpful, they’ll give your product or service a second look,” she says.

3. Build a lead funnel for your product.

If you work at a B2B company or have a long sales cycle, reading a blog post is usually a customer’s first and furthest interaction from their actual purchase. But it’s also arguably the most important stage of the inbound funnel. Attracting your audience’s attention with helpful, educational, or entertaining content creates a larger pool of people to convert into leads and close as customers. In other words, your blog marks the start of a relationship with your customers.

Lestraundra Alfred, the manager editor of the HubSpot Sales Blog, says, “If you’re looking to gain exposure from your blog, your content should help bridge the gap between the problem the reader is trying to solve and your product, which can serve as a solution. By creating content that your ideal customer is searching for and interested in, you can build a solid community of readers who are a great fit for your product, and when nurtured, can turn into customers for your business.”

Ideally, you’ll want to craft compelling blog content that your audience can discover easily through a Google search or social media. You can also pay to amplify your distribution on Facebook, which has the best targeting tools out of all the social media sites and is cost effective, or through paid search, which can thrust you to the top of a high-volume Google SERP, although some keywords are expensive.

After people start reading your blog content more, and want to read it on consistent basis, they’ll sign up for your blog’s email subscription. Once strangers to your brand, they’re now regular visitors.

When these visitors read enough blog posts, you can entice them to download conversion offers like Beltis mentioned above. Then, you can then nurture qualified leads with more blog posts and lead generators through email or Facebook ads. Consistently educating them and helping them solve their problems will build their trust, making it more likely they’ll move to the middle of your funnel when they’re ready. And once you see them researching your product or service by reading case studies, requesting a demo, or trying to contact sales, you can move them to the bottom of the funnel, where sales will qualify their fit as a customer.

Sales will close some of these leads into customers, and they’ll be thanking you when they do. Your blog introduced their customers to your brand.

4. Offer sponsored content opportunities to other brands.

Publishers like BuzzFeed and The Dodo produce content that floods social media every day. And they make money by helping other brands do it too.

Brands will collaborate with their video production, social media, and analytics teams to craft posts and videos that follow their formula for virality. Publishers also distribute this sponsored content to their massive social media and website followings. This content is similar to the publishers’ native content, so their audience will enjoy reading it, exposing their clients to a huge, engaged, and new viewership and boosting their followings and audience engagement.

If your blog generates a significant amount of traffic, you can leverage your editorial expertise and audience reach to help smaller brands tell captivating stories to a bigger and better viewership.

Doing sponsored content right can pay huge dividends for your brand. Not only does it create another revenue stream, but partnering with other marketing minds can help your team unleash unprecedented amounts of creativity. In fact, T Brand Studio, the New York Times native ad business, crafted paid posts that captured as much engagement as some of nytimes.com’s highest-performing articles.

5. Provide coaching services.

Your blog posts can serve as a teaser for how much your readers can learn from you about a certain subject matter. Because if you write about enhancing certain skills like selling, social savviness, sports, cooking, and music, your blog posts can only teach your readers so much. They need to practice these skills in real life to see substantial improvement.

But if your readers practice these skills on their own, they’ll only get so much better. If they really want to improve, training with a coach will guide them toward success faster than anything else. Think about it. What would improve your basketball skills the most? Reading Michael Jordan’s book about shooting and practicing his tips by yourself? Or reading his book and then taking shooting lessons with him?

If you’re running a personal brand, as a coach, your blog is your most important marketing asset. It helps your potential clients improve themselves while giving them a glimpse into what life would be like if they actually achieved one of their life-long goals. Your blog inspires readers to strive for their dreams. And when they’re more motivated to reach their potential, they’ll usually want an expert directing them toward greatness, not just themselves.

6. Market your freelance writing skills.

If you’re a freelance blogger, you need to show potential clients that you can write compelling content. To do this, you could try to attract their attention with your previous work, but you usually don’t have control over those topics. So what if they don’t pique their interest?

The best way to show potential clients you can write compelling content is by engaging them with your own content. When you start a blog, you have access to your post’s performance metrics and complete control over the topics you cover. This allows you to write content that you know your target audience will devour, attracting more and more potential clients to your blog. And once they realize they rely on you for content marketing advice, they’ll know they can trust you to help them improve their own content marketing.

For instance, Eddie Shleyner, a freelance copywriter and content marketer, markets his business called VeryGoodCopy by writing articles about copywriting, content marketing, and psychology. His articles are so engaging and insightful that organizations like The North Face, Geico, and Mercedes Benz hire him to write articles, eBooks, landing pages, website copy, and email campaigns.

7. Participate in affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize a blog when you don’t sell a product or service. It’s a relatively simple process too. You’ll partner with an ecommerce platform or businesses that have affiliate programs and pick out relevant products to promote on your blog. Your partners will then send you custom links to their product pages that can track customers referred by your blog. And if someone clicks on the link and buys the product, you’ll earn a commission.

One of the most popular affiliate marketing programs is Amazon Associates. You can choose from over one million of Amazon’s ecommerce products to advertise on your blog, and you can earn up to 10% in commission.

Out of all the ways you can make money blogging, affiliate marketing requires the least amount of time, money, and resources. You don’t have to build, market, or sell a product or service and inserting affiliate links in your blog posts doesn’t cost any money. All you have to do is wait for people to click on them and buy something.

Start Making Money with Your Blog

Choosing your monetization strategy will depend on the type of blog you’re running and the type of product or service you offer. To up-level your blog, learn how to set yourself up for success and avoid the top blogging mistakes.

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

16 of the Best Professional Bio Examples We’ve Ever Seen [+ Bio Templates]

Does your professional bio make a statement?

In this article, we have great professional bio examples you should compare yours to — and a series of free bio templates you can use to make it perfect.

If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t think about your professional bio until you’re suddenly asked to “shoot one over via email.” You have approximately one afternoon to come up with it, and that’s when you scramble, and the bio ends up reading like this:

Rodney Erickson is a content marketing professional at HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Previously, Rodney worked as a marketing manager for a tech software startup. He graduated with honors from Columbia University with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.”

Woof, that was dull. Are you still with me? I swear, not even adding a tidbit about his cats would liven that bio up.

To be fair, in certain contexts, your professional bio does need to be more formal, like Mr. Erickson’s up there. But in many cases, writing a readable bio — even conversational — is a really good thing. That means dropping that traditional format of listing your accomplishments like a robot and cramming as much professional-sounding jargon in there as you can.

How to Write a Bio

editable short professional bio pdf template

Download a free, editable short professional bio template.

free editable long professional bio pdf template

Download a free, editable long professional bio template.

Writing a professional bio that captures your brand and what you offer to your audience can help you grow better. But doing it right is just as important. Here’s how to write a bio, step-by-step.

1. Create an ‘About’ page for your website or profile.

Before you can publish your professional bio, you need a living space for it. Here are a few to consider (some of these you might already have in place):

  • Facebook Business page
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Instagram account
  • Personal website
  • Personal blog
  • Industry website
  • Industry blog byline

As you’ll see in the professional bio examples below, the length and tone of your bio will differ depending on which of the above platforms you choose to be on. Instagram, for example, allows only 150 characters of bio space, whereas you can write virtually as much as you want on your personal website — or even your Facebook Business page. But once created, this bio should represent who you are in the eyes of your audience.

2. Begin writing your bio with your first and last name.

If your readers don’t remember anything else about your bio, make sure they remember your name. For that reason, it’s a good idea for your first and last name to be the first two words of your professional bio. Even if your name is printed above this bio (hint: it should), this is a rare moment where it’s okay to be redundant.

For example, if I were writing my own bio, I might start it like this:

Lindsay Kolowich

Lindsay Kolowich is a Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot.

3. Mention any associated brand name you might use.

Will your professional bio represent yourself, or a business you work for? Make sure the brand you want to be associated with is mentioned in your bio. If you’re a freelancer, perhaps you have a personal business name or pseudonym you advertise to your clients. Here are a few examples:

  • Lindsay Kolowich Marketing
  • SEO Lindsay
  • Kolowich Consulting
  • Content by Kolowich (what do you think … too cheesy?)

Maybe you founded your own company, and you want its name to be separate from your real name. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple: “Lindsay Kolowich is the founder and CEO of Kolowich Consulting.”

4. State your current position and what you do.

Whether you’re the author of a novel or a mid-level specialist, use the next few lines of your bio to describe what you do in that position. Don’t assume your audience will naturally know what your job title entails. Make your primary responsibilities known to the reader, helping them paint a picture of who you are during the day and what you have to offer the industry.

5. Include at least one professional accomplishment.

Just as a business touts its client successes in the form of case studies, your professional bio should let your own audience know what you’ve already achieved. What have you done for yourself — as well as for others — that makes you a valuable player in your industry?

6. Describe your values and how they inform your career.

Why do you do what you do? What might make your contribution to the market different than your colleagues? Better yet, what values do you and your colleagues share that would make your business a worthwhile investment to others? Start to wrap up your professional bio by simply explaining what gets you up in the morning.

7. Briefly tell your readers who you are outside of work.

Transition from describing your values in work to describing who you are outside of work. This may include:

  • Your family
  • Your hometown
  • Sports you play
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Favorite music and travel destinations
  • Side hustles you’re working on

People like connecting with other people. The more transparent you are about who you are personally, the more likable you’ll be to the people reading about who you are professionally.

8. Consider adding humor or a personal story to add flavor to your professional bio.

End your professional bio on a good note — or, more specifically, a funny note. Leaving your audience with something quirky or uniquely you can ensure they’ll leave your website with a pleasant impression of you.

It’s important to follow the steps above when writing your bio, but don’t obsess over any one section. Remember, the people reading your bio are suffering from information fatigue. If you don’t hook ’em in the first line, you’ll lose them quickly.

(P.S. Want to give your professional brand a boost? Take one of HubSpot Academy’s free certification courses. In just one weekend, you can add a line to your resume and bio that’s coveted by over 60,000 marketers.)

Why Good Bios Are Important for a Professional

Alright, I know what you may be thinking … So what? It’s just a bio. I mean, how many people read professional bios, anyway?

The answer: A lot of people. More importantly, though, there’s no way to tell exactly who is reading it — and you always want it to be ready for when the right people come across it. And when they do, you want it to catch their eye. In a good way.

You see, while your resume is only useful for when you’re actively applying for specific positions, your professional bio is much more visible. It can live on your LinkedIn profile, your company’s website, your guest blog posts, your speaker profiles, your Twitter bio, and many other places.

And, most importantly, it’s the tool that you can leverage most when you’re networking.

Bottom line? People will read your professional bio. Whether they remember it, and whether it makes them care about you, is a matter of how well you present yourself to your intended audience.

So, what does a top-notch professional bio look like?

Below, we’ve curated some of the best real professional bio examples we’ve ever seen on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the various websites where you might describe yourself.

Check ’em out, and use them as inspiration when crafting your own.

The Best Professional Bio Examples We’ve Ever Seen

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Bio Platform: Personal Website

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie begins her professional bio with an invitation into her world. In just one sentence, she describes the depth and breadth of her body of work as it has been translated into thirty languages and several publications.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Professional Bio Example

Along with her notable writing career, Chimamanda showcases her speaking career which introduces readers to a well-rounded view of who she is as a professional. From there, her bio seamlessly flows into her recent work and a glimpse into how and where she spends her personal time – the United States and Nigeria.

Finally, Chimamanda’s bio ends with a call-to-action to read a more detailed biography, giving the reader a choice to read the information available about her life and career.

2. Ann Handley

Bio Platform: Personal Website

If you’re a marketer, you’ve likely heard of Ann Handley. Her list of credentials is lengthy, and if she really wanted to, she could go on and on and on about her accomplishments.

But when people list out all their accomplishments in their bios, they risk sounding a little egotistical. Sure, you might impress a handful of people with all those laurels, but many people who read your bio will end up feeling either intimidated or annoyed. Think about it: Is that how you want the majority of your readers to feel when they read your bio?

To minimize the egoism that comes with talking about yourself, think about how you can list out your accomplishments without sounding like you’re bragging. Ann does this really well, choosing a tone in her bio that’s more approachable.

It starts with the excerpt in the footer of her personal website. Give it a quick read, paying close attention to the opening and closing lines:

Ann Handley's professional bio on her personal website

“This is Ann Handley’s website, and this is a bit of copy about her … That’s not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So read more here.” This is the kind of simple, friendly language that invites the reader in rather than shutting them out.

Follow the link and you’ll be led to a page dedicated to a fuller bio, which she’s divided into two parts: a “short version” (literally a bulleted list of key facts) and a “long version,” which includes traditional paragraphs. There’s something in there for everyone.

3. Rebecca Bollwitt

Bio platform: Instagram

Instagram is a notoriously difficult platform on which to write a good bio. Similar to Twitter, you simply don’t have room for a professional bio that includes everything about you. And because Instagram is primarily a mobile app, many viewers are reading about you passively on their mobile device.

Instagram’s limited bio space requires you to highlight just your most important qualities, and blogging icon Rebecca Bollwitt does so in her own Instagram bio in an excellent way.

Rebecca’s brand name is Miss604, and cleverly uses emojis in her Instagram bio to tell visitors exactly what makes her a valuable content creator. Take a look in the screenshot below.

miss604 professional bio on Instagram

Starting with a trophy emoji, Miss604 says she’s BC’s most award-winning blogger. I haven’t even looked at her pictures yet and the introduction of her bio has already sucked me in.

The rest of her bio follows suit, breaking up the text with an appropriate emoji and a perfect collection of nouns to tell me who she is as a person. She even links out to her husband’s Instagram account after the heart emoji (an adorable addition), and assures her followers that all of her pictures are authentically hers.

Take a lesson from Miss604, and show your personal side. Just because you’re branding yourself as a professional doesn’t mean you have to take your human being hat off. Often your most personal attributes make for the best professional bio content.

4. Mark Gallion

Bio Platform: Twitter

As a venture capitalist and an executive at several start-ups, Mark Gallion has different versions of his bio all over the internet. You can imagine some are more formal than others. But when it comes to his Twitter bio, he carefully phrased his information in a way that helps him connect with his audience — specifically, through the use of humor.

mark gallion professional bio on twitter

Why would he choose humor when he runs four start-ups and constantly seeks funding for them? Well, Mark’s tactic is totally intentional: it’s a lever he pulls to refresh his brand while maintaining his already impressive and established identity as an entrepreneur.

Mark leverages his Twitter bio because it’s place where he can be human. And it helps him relate to his followers and potential investors.

When crafting your own Twitter bio, consider your audience and the personal brand you’re trying to create for yourself. Use it as an opportunity to be relatable. (And check out this list of amusing Twitter bios for inspiration.)

5. Chime Mmeje

Bio Platform: LinkedIn

A bio with a hook is sure to keep you reading. Chima Mmeje is a freelance SEO copywriter who’s “extremely good at one thing”: helping companies rank for their target keywords. By leading with a strong hook that aligns with her target audience’s marketing needs, she’s able to keep readers engaged.

Chima MmejeChima Mmeje Professional Bio Example Continued

What comes next is a unique differentiator in a professional bio. Instead of listing accolades, Chima shares a few wins she’s secured for her clients. This nifty section does two things: it builds the readers’ confidence in her ability to deliver results and it’s a practical way to name-drop her clients in a professional bio.

In the body of her professional bio, Chima briefly lists her process at a high level, giving her potential clients a birds-eye view of what they can expect when they book her services.

The simple call to action “Drop a message” in her email inbox is a casual invitation to learn more about her services.

6. DJ Nexus

Bio Platform: Facebook

This New England-based DJ has single-handedly captured the Likes of more than 2,000 people in and beyond Boston, MA. And even if you don’t listen to the type of music he produces, it’s hard not to listen to his compelling Facebook bio.

Stage-named DJ Nexus, Jamerson’s professional bio makes use of nearly every Page field inside the About tab. Right away, his audience knows which genres he plays in, where he’s from, and who else he’s worked with. The latter — under “Affiliation,” as shown in the screenshot below — is unique and seldom mentioned in professional bios today.

Our favorite part about DJ Nexus’s bio? His tagline, under “About” — “Quiet during the day. QUITE LOUD at night!” DJ Nexus tells you when he works in an awesome way. I got goosebumps just imagining a dance club he might play his music in.

DJ Nexus's professional bio on Facebook

DJ Nexus’s bio brilliance doesn’t stop there.

The great thing about Facebook Business Pages is that you can write as much as you want without overwhelming your Page visitors. For those who just want Jamerson’s basic info, they have the four categories shown above. For those who want to learn more about him, he tells an excellent story of his career. Here’s just a preview of his story, below:

A story on DJ Nexus's Facebook Business Page

In this story, DJ Nexus describes both when he “became known as DJ Nexus” and a company he founded shortly afterward — all before going to college. This is a terrific lesson for Facebook Businesses today: customers want to learn about you, and as Facebook increasingly becomes a place for meaningful interactions, there’s no better place to tell your story than on your Facebook Business Page.

7. Lena Axelsson

Bio Platform: Industry Website

When it all comes down to it, your professional bio is no different than any other piece of persuasive copy — no matter where it lives. One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking of it as its own beast, separate from other pieces of writing. If you think about it that way, you’re far more likely to write something painfully uninteresting.

When you sit down to write your professional bio and you’re watching that cursor blinking on the screen, think about how you would introduce a blog post. You don’t just dive right into the meat of the thing, now, do you? No. You start with an introduction.

The best bios are often concise (around 200–300 words), so you don’t have a lot of room to play around. But a single sentence that tees your reader up and provides context for the accomplishments that follow could make the rest of your bio that much more persuasive.

Take Lena Axelsson’s bio, for instance. She’s a marriage and family therapist — a job where empathy and compassion are a big part of the job description. That’s why she chooses to open her bio with a great introductory sentence: “When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel.”

Lena Axelsson's professional bio on an industry website for therapists

Then, she goes into why she’s passionate about her job, how she helps her clients, and how she caters her approach to each individual patient. The necessary educational information is left for the end, after the reader has been hooked.

Your bio doesn’t have to be super serious, nor does it have to start with a joke. This bio shows how you can capture your reader’s attention by being empathetic and showing how that empathy shapes a valuable professional.

8. Mark Levy

Bio Platform: Personal Website

Mark Levy is a small business owner who’s taken a more traditional approach to the professional bio on his website — but in a way that takes care to speak to his intended audience.

What we love about his bio is the way he’s set it up: On his business’ “About” page, he’s listed two biographies, which he’s labeled “Mark Levy’s Biography #1” and “Mark Levy’s Biography #2.”

Mark Levy's professional bio in his personal website

Click here to see the full version.

Like Ann, Mark’s given his readers two different options. The first biography is a “short version,” which includes a combination of bullet points listing his credentials and a few short paragraphs.

The second is the “long version,” which is actually even more interesting than the first one. Why? Because it reads like a story — a compelling one, at that. In fact, it gets really funny at parts.

The second sentence of the bio reads: “He was frightened of public school, loved playing baseball and football, ran home to watch ape films on the 4:30 Movie, listened to The Jam and The Buzzcocks, and read magic trick books.”

Here’s another excerpt from the middle:

A snippet from Mark Levy's full professional bio on his personal website

Of course, the fantastic copywriting isn’t a surprise, given that this guy wrote several books. But the conversational tone and entertaining copy let his quirky personality (and great writing skills) shine.

9. Audra Simpson

Bio Platform: Personal Website

With a classic take on the professional bio, Audra Simpson crafts a brief overview of her career in just a couple of paragraphs. The “why” behind her work is emphasized in the first half of her bio before transitioning to the way she carries out that work in practice.

Audra Simpson Professional Bio

The second half of her bio combines her bodies of work and the awards she’s won for each from the year 2014 to 2020. This subtle timeline gives readers a picture of her experience in the field of political anthropology without listing her resume in detail. 

Audra’s professional bio is an example for those of us with several years of experience to communicate, but a strict word-limit to write within.

10. Corey Wainwright

Bio Platform: Blog Byline

Corey Wainwright is the director of content here at HubSpot. She’s written content for HubSpot’s Marketing Blog for years, and her blog author bio has caught my eye since before I ever started working for HubSpot. (Back then, it started with, “Corey just took a cool vacation.”)

What I love most about Corey’s bio is that it’s a great example of how to deliver information about yourself without taking things too seriously. And in this context, that’s totally appropriate.

Despite having a number of impressive accomplishments under her belt, she simply doesn’t like displaying them publicly. So, she prefers making her author bio a little more “light.”

Her bio (pictured below) reads, “Corey is a Bruce Springsteen fan who does content marketing, in that order.”

Corey Wrainwright's professional bio as a blog byline for HubSpot

It works in this particular context because, at HubSpot, our blog authors often prefer to make themselves as friendly and approachable as possible — while letting the content speak for itself.

It helps that authors’ social media accounts are located right below our names and above our pictures. For folks who really do want a list of Corey’s credentials, they can click the LinkedIn button to go to her LinkedIn page. (You can read this blog post to learn how to create social media buttons and add them to your website.)

11. Marie Mikhail

Bio Platform: LinkedIn

Marie Mikhail checks off nearly every box for what makes an excellent bio. A professional recruiter, she expresses her “passion for recruiting” upfront, in the first sentence, while using that sentence to hook her profile visitors into a brief story of her background.

Marie Mikhail's professional bio on LinkedIn

But there are a lot of recruiters out there, and Marie knows that. So, to differentiate herself, she closes the first paragraph of her bio explaining that she likes “getting people excited about the things [she’s] excited about.” It’s a well-put value proposition that sets her apart from the rest of the HR industry.

Marie Mikhail finishes off her bio by including a smooth mixture of professional skills, such as her Spanish fluency; and personal interests, such as podcasting and Star Wars (she mentions the latter with just the right amount of humor).

12. Wonbo Woo

Bio Platform: Personal Website

Wonbo Woo is the executive producer of WIRED’s video content, and he has a number of impressive credits to his name. What does this mean for his professional bio? He has to prioritize. With this in mind, Wonbo opens his bio with the most eye-catching details first (if the image below is hard to read, click it to see the full copy).

Wonbo Woo Professional Bio

Not only does Wonbo’s bio start strong, but he also takes readers on a suspenseful journey through some of his most harrowing assignments — where he was when news broke and how he responded. You can see this quality below.

Wonbo Woo Professional Bio ContinuedThe accomplished journalist concludes his gripping bio as strong as it began, measuring his experience by the number of states, countries, and continents to which he’s traveled in his career. See how this looks above. All in all, it’s a fantastically concise bio for as much detail as it holds.

13. Van Jones

Bio Platform: Twitter

Someone who’s known for a variety of talents and skills may find it difficult to capture who they are in a professional bio. When limited to just over 100 characters on Twitter, the feat is nearly impossible. But Van Jones effortlessly explains who he is and why it matters to everyone who visits his Twitter profile.

Van Jones Professional Bio Example

 

He starts his professional bio with a token of personalization and prioritization of his values. By mentioning that he is a dad first, we recognize what’s important to him in his long list of successes. As we’ve seen in other bios, sharing who we are outside of work makes us more personable and should find its way into your bio, if possible. Van leaves plenty of room to share a variety of professional experiences in his bio including CEO of REFORM and his 2020 Emmy award.

What’s great about Van’s Twitter bio is his ability to link valuable offerings to his readers. He invites us to check out his latest book and has his website reformalliance.com linked at the top.

14. Chris Burkard

Bio Platform: LinkedIn

If you’re writing your bio but having trouble figuring out how to showcase your accomplishments without boasting, photographer Burkard’s LinkedIn bio is a great example for inspiration.

Written in third-person, his bio tells a fluid story, starting with his ultimate mission — “capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature” — before diving into more tangible accolades (giving a TED talk, publishing books, etc.).

Chris Burkard's professional bio on LinkedIn

Best of all, rather than using his bio as an opportunity to brag, he instead ties his talents into how he hopes to help others, writing, “Through social media Chris strives to share his vision … and inspire [his followers] to explore for themselves.” I wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to follow Chris if his bio had simply read “I post beautiful images” … but inspire me to travel? Now that’s something I can get behind.

Lastly, he ends on a humble, sweet note, writing “He is happiest wth his wife Breanne raising their two sons”. Don’t be afraid to inject some personal information into your bio — it could help you seem more approachable as a result.

15. Megan Gilmore

Bio Platform: Instagram

Megan Gilmore is a best-selling cookbook author, and she often posts healthy recipes on her Instagram page to inspire followers’ to realize that you don’t have to sacrifice taste for the sake of health.

Megan Gilmore's professional bio on Instagram

Fortunately, you glean most of this information immediately from her Instagram bio, which is short and to-the-point: “Best-selling cookbook author + former fast-food junkie + mom of 2. I like to make healthy food as easy as possible.” Her “former fast-food junkie” call-out shows followers she’s relatable (and that her recipes are likely delicious yet healthy alternatives), and by mentioning she’s a mother, you get the sense that her recipes really will actually be quick and easy.

Plus, Gilmore includes a CTA link within her Instagram bio that leads followers to free, ready-to-use recipes. You might be thinking — Why would she do that, since it discourages people from buying her book? But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

By giving her followers the chance to try out her recipes, she’s slowly turning leads into customers. After I tried a few of her Instagram recipes and loved them, I decided to go ahead and buy her book, knowing I’d like more of what she had to offer.

16. Lisa Quine

Bio Platform: Portfolio Website

Although a picture is worth 1,000 words, a portfolio is quite different from a professional bio. While this might present a challenge for creative professionals who specialize in visual art to tell their stories, Lisa Quine quantifies her creativity to give her professional bio balance. Throughout her bio, you’ll notice the number of murals she’s completed and a brief timeline of her career thus far which helps paint the picture of who she is as a professional.

Lisa Quine Professional Bio Example

Lisa’s bio checks the box on nearly all of our recommendations for a great bio. She begins with her full name, her location, and what she does best. From there, she gets creative by appropriately mentioning the brands she’s worked with and highlights some of her favorite projects. With a third-person approach to the writing, this bio invites the reader behind a metaphorical door to meet Lisa as a professional, traveler, learner, wife, and mother.

Create Your Own Professional Bio

Prim and proper, relaxed, or studded with accomplishments, your bio is a reflection of your best professional self. Your professional bio will often precede your physical presence. Before people meet you for the first time, they’ll probably read your bio. Whether you’re creating an about page for your website or social media profile, one thing’s for sure, you’ll want to put your best foot forward with a top-notch professional bio.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

13 Graphic Design Trends to Use in 2021 — and Two to Avoid

2020 was — in a word — unprecedented

The only thing nearly as unprecedented as the events of the year itself? The number of times 2020 was described as “unprecedented.”

With the conclusion of a year unlike any other, it’s natural to seek out new looks and approaches. 

Desires for new and different –– but also reassuring and less overwhelming ––  experiences will exert significant influence over customer appetites in 2021, including in visual communications and graphic design.

Here, let’s dive into the graphic design trends you’ll see in 2021. Plus, what design techniques you’ll want to avoid

2021 Graphic Design Trends

Current graphic design trends for 2021 offer opportunities to update your brand’s aesthetic, earn customers’ attention, and unlock greater results. 

These trends fall into three dominant themes or moods: socially-conscious design, dissonance, and optimism

Within each theme, there are a number of design techniques and styles you’re going to see artists and brands employ.

You’re going to want to see this –– and not just because it means 2020 is over.

1. Socially-Conscious Design

Design and culture are integrally connected. Designer and author Robert L. Peters makes it clear where he thinks real change begins: Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”

To strive for a better future, it helps to visualize it. 

Social unrest and movements for anti-racism have captured national attention, and every brand and business has to take notice and evaluate where they stand. 

Socially conscious design gained traction throughout the past year, and it’s poised for even greater impact in 2021. Within the theme of socially conscious design, key trends include authentic representation, sustainability, and celebrating diversity and imperfection.

2. Authentic Representation

Nike’s instantly-iconic ad featuring Colin Kaepernick exemplifies the push for authenticity and design that includes diverse voices and perspectives. 

After widespread protests following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, Nike spoke up again, unveiling “For Once, Don’t Do It” – subverting the brand’s instantly-recognizable tagline. 

You’ll continue to see brands pushing boundaries in 2021 when it comes to creating authentic, meaningful, and deeply powerful content over more superficial designs. 

3. Diversity and Imperfection 

The trend to more socially-conscious design aligns with broader cultural pushes to make all forms of media more diverse, inclusive, and affirming of all our various identities and imperfections. 

DesignStudio applies these values and approaches in their authentic, intentionally ‘imperfect’ rebrand for insurance company Getsaferebrand image of smartphones for Getsafe company

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4. Sustainability 

Sure, humans had a rough 2020, but the Earth didn’t fare much better. 

And with all our time spent indoors, we had ample time to cultivate awareness (okay, anxiety) about climate change and other environmental issues. This –– plus the near-universal experiences of cabin fever after a year filled with pandemic-related lockdowns –– has sustainability featuring prominently in graphic design in 2021.

patagonia homepage

As consumers think about waste and their environmental footprint more than ever before, brands dealing in physical goods are especially sensitive to potential tension. Expect to see more and more packaging designs that emphasize sustainability through natural iconography, neutral color palettes, and eco-conscious materials. 

image of nova wallet advertisement on a smartphone

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image of two bags of coffee with botanical on front

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5. Natural and Manufactured Juxtaposition 

Global lockdowns have disrupted our connections to our environment. 

Graphic design is leaning into this tension through regular juxtaposition of the natural and the manufacture, earth and metal, organic and inanimate. 

Gucci played with all of these themes when launching their Gucci Bloom fragrance, creating a gamified virtual experience for visitors to explore an animated garden:

gucci bloom advertisement for new frangrance

Exploring contrasts and intersections between these forces is especially appealing for spaces hardest hit by the pandemic. Industries like fashion and travel will emphasize elements conveying solidity and technological progress while also reinforcing connections to nature through floral and herbal patterns, cheery hues, and blue skies.

These elements bring a sense of destination, movement, and outdoor exploration –– even when there’s nowhere to go. 

opening ceremony design with est. 2002

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6. Color Trends in Graphic Design 

Socially conscious design is interesting and impactful –– but it’s also mentally demanding. As people have found themselves spending more and more time at home grappling with monumental and unfamiliar stressors, tastes in color have shifted to hues that are proven to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of ease.

Unsurprisingly, organic and natural shades can provide welcome respite for people who stare at walls and screens all day. For best results, move past standard browns and greys. Understated oranges and teals evoke warmth and comfort, while providing more energy and optimism than their more drab neutral peers.

orange and teel pencil case

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These color trends are influencing interior design for homes and workplaces, as luxury paint brand Farrow & Ball reports. 

Gone: dramatic accent walls and high contrast color schemes. In: calm and muted tones.

For paint companies, at least, pandemic-related quarantines have them seeing another earth tone: green. Revenue for Farrow & Ball, for instance, was up 20% compared to a year prior.

7. Dissonance

While some design currents aim to push society forward or distract from all sorts of stress we’re under, other impulses in graphic design reflect our chaotic, tumultuous present moment. 

Designs that embrace uncertainty often appear relatable to people living in unpredictable circumstances.

8. Color Blur 

One trend playing up the theme of dissonance melds color and texture by adding grains and/or gradients. Such blending or layering adds depth and tactility to rendered or printed images. 

With darker, brighter color schemes, color blur adds a level of broodiness, implying a depth of emotion and feeling, as well as a sense of three-dimensional space.

For a more disconcerting effect, pair a color blur or gradient with distorted text, as well.

this changes everything repeatedly blurred on green backdrop

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9. Outsized Typography 

Another dissonant trend in graphic design intentionally misplaces typography in ways that defy expectations and flout design conventions. Images cut off or obscure portions of text or unpolished elements disrupt sleek designs, among other glaring “errors” that catch the eye. 

Exaggerated sizes and violating conventional hierarchies, this approach plays with both scale and alignment – two of the basic elements of graphic design. The effect: arresting and memorable. 

puma this is my flow advertisement

Designer Danielo Silveira‘s designs for Puma “This is My Flow” uses these concepts with visually stunning results. 

Hype and buzz-focused streetwear brands employ these techniques with a studied nonchalance, leaving the uninitiated viewer feeling off balance –– and rewarding their die-hard fans for being in the know. 

10. Surrealism 

“The real is intertwined with the surreal, and in no year was that more deeply felt than in 2020” — 99designs.com

I feel this. Don’t you? 

Considering how mixed up –– and messed up –– day-to-day life often seems, it’s no wonder graphic design is exploring imagery that bends the edges of reality. 

What does that mean, if you’re not a Salvador Dali-afficionado or modern art critic? Well, you should probably prepare yourself to make sense of more images like this one:

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11. Optimism and Reassurance

You’re not alone if you’re yearning for reassuring, optimistic visual experiences.

The third and final big theme in graphic design for 2021 reflects a common desire for brighter, more familiar, comfortable days.

12. Retro-futurism

Retro-futurism represents the first trend within this broader inclination towards optimistic design in 2021. 

No, this isn’t another new sub-genre of music known only to the most avant-garde of your college dorm mates. Retro-futurism refers to designs that take symbols and approaches from the past and present them “mashed up with elements of the imagined future.”

nasa logo

Think: NASA’s worm logo and “space-age” designs. These forms, originating in the forward-looking decades around the first moon landing. This type of design manages to feel both new and familiar at the same time. It reinforces humanity’s confidence in the potential of technology and interstellar flight.

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Yes, nostalgia promises to do well in 2021. Colors and shapes that seem both vintage and tech-inspired blend reassurance with a sense of progress. 

13. Symbol Revival

In an environment where so much is routinely challenged or called into question, graphic design offers key tools to connect with the universal and the uniquely human elements within us all. Carefully-chosen and constructed symbols possess this potential –– for communication that transcends language.

The simple, powerful imagery of a square peg fitting into a round hole makes a strong statement in the brand identity Pentagram’s Paula Scher designed for the Mental Health Coalition

mental health coalition homepage

Here, a symbol typically used to connote exclusion or ill-fittedness is reclaimed as a visual metaphor for inclusivity and acceptance. It’s socially conscious, reflective, and also calling the viewer towards a better future –– and you can look forward to much more graphic design like in in 2021.

Graphic Design Trend to Avoid: Faking Authenticity

The ‘trend’ you definitely want to avoid: swerving away from allyship to co-opt complex and painful issues as if they’re just more trends to copy. 

Nike, Glossier –– these brands had already taken proactive anti-racist stances, embracing this as a prominent part of their identity. They can speak authentically about related events and issues. 

Many chose to amplify or echo similar messages to reflect their own values or affirm a call for change. This is well and good. Opportunism? Not so much. 

In short: make sure your design accurately, and authentically, reflects your values. 

(If you decide to reexamine your values, more power to you –– but work on your values first, and hold off on pressing ‘send’ on some trendy graphic.)

How to Keep Up with Graphic Design Trends

Designers gravitate towards visually-driven platforms like Instagram, or Behance — Adobe’s proprietary social media platform geared to showcase creative work. Instagram, as the most visually-driven of the ubiquitous social media platforms, offers a wealth of opportunities to observe, learn from, and keep up with graphic design trends. 

You can easily see broad trends and also drill down into specific skills or minutiae of the field through keyword searches and following hashtags. Interested in hand-lettering styled after 1950’s tattooing? You’ve come to the right place. 

YouTube is also an invaluable resource for designers of all stripes and skill levels. You may never make it out from the rabbit hole of top 10 lists, design techniques, and how-to guides –– but you sure will learn a lot while you’re down there. 

Pick a Timeless Design to Ensure It Lasts

Before you go and apply all the 2021 graphic design trends in making delightful and chaotic – but somehow calm and reassuring and progressive –– imagery, there’s one word of warning to take with you. Employ trends sparingly and with care, or risk becoming a quickly-outdated caricature. 

This is especially true in logo design, where you’ll need to avoid looking outdated –– and perhaps even worse to constantly change your primary branding. Go for something modern, but timeless, and make design decisions with your organizational values in mind. 

Strike this balance well to benefit and learn from 2021 trends while not putting yourself on course to need a rebrand in 2022.

What to Expect from Graphic Design in 2021

In 2021, graphic design will continue to both draw inspiration from and exert influence to change culture. Perhaps it will be as tumultuous and unpredictable as 2020 (although we can certainly hope not).

One thing about 2021 is certain, though. For the foreseeable future, Adobe‘s Photoshop team deserves credit for calling the trend most likely to carry over from 2020 into the new year: 

adobe photoshop tweet describing 2020 in one word: masking

How to Get on Board With the Digital Transformation [+ Examples]

Ten years ago, I couldn’t have cared less if the new burger place downtown had a website. Now, I don’t trust one that doesn’t. If your business is online, you’re a part of the digital transformation. But it’s not enough these days to just “be online.” Businesses that will thrive in 2021 that are operating online — and the COVID-19 pandemic has proved this. 

Consumer buying behavior has drastically changed — today, most consumers are purchasing products online, including almost 70% of millennials. In 2019, nearly two-thirds of businesses ( 64% ) had a website. If you don’t have one, you could be falling behind your online competition. 

So, while it’s a great step to have a website and a Facebook page, there’s more to the transformation than just having an online presence — technology should be ever-present in all of your business operations. This piece will explore the digital transformation, why businesses are getting on board, and outline the roadmap for enacting one for your business. We’ll also give some real-life success stories from companies that have bought into the digital transformation.

 

Essentially, a digital transformation fundamentally changes how businesses provide value to their customers and streamline their processes. It’s a reminder that materials and processes your company uses during day-to-day operations, no matter how big or small, might need a new medium — technology. Let’s take a look at why this transformation exists in the first place, with particular reference to the present pandemic. 

Why do businesses undergo a digital transformation?

Simply put, things are often easier when they’re online. New technology makes website building more accessible and creates more opportunities for businesses to connect with their audiences. A digital shift also saves time. You may already be using some methods of digital strategy, like Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) , social media scheduling tools, and instant messaging apps; these are all examples of small digital transformations that replace paper instructions, outbound marketing, and an extra trip to your managers’ desk.  

A shift to digital processes also makes it easier to conduct overall large-scale business tasks. For instance, online databases that sort and catalog customer information, and automation tools that take over day-to-day activities and allow employees to focus their efforts on more pressing tasks. 

Customers have also begun to expect the businesses they interact with to have some sort of digital presence, whether it’s an optimized Google My Business profile for easy access to mapping instructions or an automated chatbot that can answer their questions over Facebook Messenger

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has further proven and accelerated the need for businesses to get on board with a digital transformation. As companies around the world were forced to pivot to providing service online or at a distance from their customers, having digital tools at their disposal was, and is, critical to survival. 

Many businesses have adopted different online practices during the pandemic, like providing digital customer service . It’s likely that, as a result of the pandemic and general trends, customers will expect that they’ll be able to conduct business online with their favorite brands.

70% of businesses today are finding that the digital shift is worth it, and these businesses either have a digital strategy in place, or are earnestly working towards one.

As a whole, 70% of businesses today are finding that the digital shift is worth it. These businesses either have a digital strategy in place or are earnestly working towards one. Whether you’re already one of these businesses or you’re hoping to begin your journey, let’s go over three critical questions that you can use as a roadmap for implementing your strategy. 

 

Digital Transformation Strategy

Business leaders are faced with a variety of options for enacting a digital transformation. As technology becomes more commonplace, there are a significant number of tools to choose from. While it may be exciting (and overwhelming) to imagine all of the possible upgrades you can make to your business, a digital transformation strategy will help you become more focused. 

This strategy is essentially a structured way to move through the process, how you get from point A (pre-transformation) to point B (post-transformation). Let’s go over some guiding questions and additional requirements to help you create a viable digital transformation strategy.

1. Why do we need a transformation?

Like all plans and strategies you’ve created for your business, designing your roadmap begins with identifying your purpose. You can start this process by uncovering the challenges your business faces that have significantly impacted success or processes that you feel may become easier with technology. This could be anything from day-to-day automation tasks like sending out email newsletters or more essential business needs like data collection and storage. 

You may also be hoping to address multiple challenges at once. For example, say your business has had trouble handling customer service requests because you’re using different platforms to store customer data and communicate with customers. Reps may have difficulty accessing a client’s history with your company because they need to sift through other records and jump between platforms to find the information they need. This takes time, and clients may report being frustrated by how long it takes to resolve their issues. 

In this case, the answer to why do we need a transformation? is that your customer service team struggles to give customers the experiences they desire because of long wait times and a disorganized data storage system. Whatever your reasons are, identifying the challenges that expose the need for a digital transformation makes it easier to create further goals and metrics that will define your process’s success. 

2. What do I need to achieve to transform?

As mentioned above, the challenges and pain points you’ve identified answer why you need to transform. Once you have this why, it becomes easier to figure out what needs to be done and what steps you need to take to overcome the challenges you’ve outlined. 

Aim to come up with metrics or objectives you can use to guide yourself and your teams through this process, including workflows, identifying key stakeholders, and assigning critical tasks. If you have multiple pain points, come up with at least one objective or goal for each one of them. 

When you identify these objectives, come up with a time frame in which they should be met to succeed in your transformation. Continuing with the previous example, your challenge is that reps don’t have access to a summary of client history. Your objective can be that, over the course of the year, you want a streamlined process for inputting and cataloging customer information and a less than one minute wait time for accessing customer records during service interactions. With this goal in mind, you know what you need to achieve to say that you’ve transformed your process. With this, it becomes easier to identify the tools that will assist you along the way. 

3. What do I need to change to meet these goals?

The final question involves researching and identifying the technology you’ll need to successfully transform. Some of these may be middle-of-the-road tools that help you reach your end goal, while others may be the permanent solution you implement and use forever. 

Using the same example as before, you’ll want to know the tools you’ll need to use to begin the process of transferring the data you already have into the tool that your representatives will use to access customer data within the timeframe you laid out. This could mean that your initial tool is a simple data integration platform that you’ll use to merge existing data from your different sources. After this, maybe you’ll need a sorting tool that catalogs and organizes data into business-relevant categories, and this data will be further integrated into a Customer Relationship Platform (CRM) that all of your representatives have access to during customer interactions. 

4. Get company wide buy-in.

A digital transformation affects all areas of your business. Given this, it’s critical that you obtain company wide buy-in , from packing and fulfillment to C-Suite executives. You can’t just say “Okay we’re doing this!” and expect a seamless process, though. This is why this principle comes after the first three guiding questions — inspire buy-in using the understandings you’ve previously gathered. 

One of the first things you should do is present teams with a clear why statement that explains the reasons your business needs to undergo a digital transformation. Along with the why statement, present a value proposition to explain the benefits the business (and employees) will obtain from this transformation. Maybe you can share sample projections you’ve come up with or a case study you’ve created based on market research and competitive analysis (which we’ll cover below). 

Lastly, you should let them know that it’s an involved process. You’re not demanding that they get on board and deal with it — you want them to participate in the process. They can pose questions, offer suggestions, or simply ask about their new tasks.

5. Research industry and market competitors. 

As with most new projects, it’s important to understand what your competitors are doing. Conducting a competitive analysis can help you do this, as you’ll generate a well-rounded picture of how they’re performing. 

The results of your research will likely give you an understanding of how they do their business, if they’ve implemented and succeeded in a digital transformation, and uncover possible areas for your business to outperform them. It’s also important to conduct overall market research to understand what trends your industry is experiencing to understand how you compare, or as a means of inspiration to further guide your process. 

6. Create a budget. 

A digital transformation is a costly process, especially if it’s a complete overhaul of your current methods. Once you understand your purpose and outline how you’ll need to change, create a budget . This budget should address all possible expenses you’ll encounter throughout the process: software costs for transitional and permanent tools, any costs to hire new talent, employee training for new processes, and allocation of funds for any unexpected costs. 

The unexpected costs section of your budget may be the most important, as a digital transformation is based on change. These changes are likely new, so you’ll want to be prepared if any issues arise from adaptation difficulties along the way. 

7. Create a digital transformation roadmap.

Once you have all necessary information, the next step is to implement your strategy. Specifically, as mentioned above, how you’ll get from point A to point B. A digital transformation roadmap is the way to do this, and we’ll outline the steps below.

 

Digital Transformation Roadmap

After you’ve created your strategy, a detailed plan will guide you through implementation. HubSpot offers a free template that will help you schedule and work through a digital transformation roadmap, broken down into seven weeks.

Firstly, this template comes with a checklist that you can fill in with the information you’ve gathered while creating your strategy. You can input benefits, what you need to achieve to transform, the tools you’ll need to transform, and key stakeholders for your business. Having all information in one place makes it easier to refer back to a common document as you navigate through your process.

digital transformation research checklist from hubspot

Week one is all about gathering existing sales and marketing materials on paper, while week two dives into transferring your business online, and so on. These small steps are designed to fit into your busy schedule and help you remain organized as you transition.

digital transformation checklist template

Week two is all about data migration. A free CRM, like HubSpot, can help you input business data, customer profiles, into an easy to access database. 

During weeks three and four, you should have a functioning website and marketing resources that will help you learn more about your visitors and their behavior. 

sample digital transformation checklist

The latter half of the weekly plan ramps up your online presence. Using this template can help you organize your new digital shift by area to avoid doing one huge push all at once and confusing employees.

Creating a blog during week five will help you find your target audience online. Posts should be about your target market (if you’re a tech marketing company, posts should center around the intersection between the two) to demonstrate your expertise. This will build your reputation as a thought leader in your industry.

By week six, you should set up a sales flow that will digitize your sales process. Online sales tools allow you to keep track of all your contacts, log your conversations, and keep tabs on-call schedules and upcoming meetings.

Email and paid ads should be rocking-and-rollin’ by week seven. The email software you choose will help you through the process of sending automated emails to subscribers and let you test out paid ad software.

In a month and a half, most of your business processes will be digital.

Best of all, this template can be tailored to meet your business’ transformation individual needs and gives you the wiggle room to expand as your business continues to scale — but as a starting point, it gets you up and running. 

Once you’ve created your digital roadmap, it becomes easier to go more in-depth into your processes and create a finalized list of the technology you’ll need to succeed in your transformation. Below, we’ll go over some popular digital transformation tools to consider using.

 

Digital Transformation Tools

Depending on your overall transformation goals, there are multiple platforms available to help you succeed and meet your objectives. However, there are various multipurpose tools that can benefit all types of businesses, and we’ll go over a few of them below. 

1. Instant Messaging

Instead of having a meeting or a long email thread for a quick message, consider using a company-wide instant messaging tool for quick and easy communications. Some instant messaging services are made for corporate settings, like Slack or Flock .

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With these services, you can file share, direct message, and create channels where teams can collaborate and discuss projects. Think of it as the office water cooler — just online.

2. Application Tools

Are you looking for new talent? The best candidates (especially ones who prefer to work digitally) are online. For instance, LinkedIn, a site for professional networking, is an excellent source for recruiting candidates: 

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Using LinkedIn’s template will help you post a listing, and you can use LinkedIn’s industries function to ensure it’s shared with relevant candidates. LinkedIn will alert you of new entries and send you their applications, making the selection process an online breeze. This is an alternative to collecting application materials via email, where it might be difficult to structure, organize, and compile applications. 

3. Sales Management

Software is available to help manage many facets of your business, including sales. This software enables you to manage calls, pipelines, reporting, and follow-up resources to help your process migrate smoothly online. 

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For instance, as shown above, HubSpot’s Sales Hub can be used to organize all of your sales materials online. Within the platform, you can manage deals, filter contacts, and create different tasks using a dashboard to help you keep track of your sales processes. 

4. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

If you have certain aspects of your day-to-day that require multiple steps typically written down on paper, transfer it online. This will reduce paper trail and make the processes shareable and accessible to all employees. 

Online SOP software makes it easy to list procedures and job functions, which can be beneficial for onboarding and employee training. To make a smooth transition to your new digital tool, consider talking to employees and asking them to contribute and collaborate with you in the process. The image below is an example of a digital SOP workflow management tool by Process.st .

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5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

A CRM is going to be your best friend when shifting to an all-digital business. Whether your goals are to transform the customer experience, streamline sales, or digitize your marketing process, a CRM will make these processes more straightforward and even automate repetitive tasks. HubSpot’s free CRM offers three hubs that give you an all-in-one business platform designed for scalable growth. 

hubspot crm homepage demo

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HubSpot’s free CRM offers three hubs that give you an all-in-one business platform experience. From customer service reps to sales leaders and business owners, this free CRM helps you fully transfer your business online and drive growth.

6. Video Chat Software

Is your team out of town but you need to schedule a meeting? Are your representatives transitioning to a remote, work-from-home model but you still want to maintain a collaborative environment? Use video chat software to meet virtually and maintain employee connections. 

Software like Skype for Business and Zoom offer free web-chatting services for professional use.

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Skype has automatic subtitle settings and 1:1 capabilities, and the option to host multiple people on calls at once. Most software also has mobile applications to make sure you’re accessible and able to meet at any point during the workday. 

Though these tools are designed to make your life easier, you may be confused about how they can apply to your business. Thankfully, many companies that are joining the digital revolution are doing so because they have similar needs. Below, we’ll go over digital transformation trends that you can use to further guide your process and understand how to apply the tools to meet your business needs.

 

Digital Transformation Trends

As the digital world grows, many businesses are jumping on the transformation trend. Whether you already have your own plan or you’re hoping to get inspiration for a future transformation, let’s go over digital transformation trends to look out for in 2021. 

Rapid Adoption of a Digital Operating Model

COVID-19 has required businesses to quickly adapt to online models. As the pandemic could not have been predicted, many businesses were left scrambling to scale their processes as in-person, and on-site business models became unsafe. Most industries needed to rise to the occasion unless they simply could not adapt to a work-from-home or work-from-online model. 

For example, customer service businesses found themselves needing to integrate online processes to successfully meet customer needs, like chatbots to answer routine and simple questions. Restaurants and grocery stores offering food services were forced to adapt to online food and grocery delivery options to continue to safely provide nourishment to customers. 

As COVID-19 related outbreaks become controlled, the need to adapt won’t die out but instead will become a requirement. Businesses will need to continue to utilize the new tools they’ve adapted or create detailed plans for future unpredictable circumstances that may force them to adapt quickly.  

AI and Machine Learning

Consumers are expecting personalized experiences now more than ever. Personalized experiences are also a driving factor of customer loyalty, as 41% of customers have reported switching companies because of poor personalization . This doesn’t just mean that customers want you to refer to them by their name when they call you on the phone; they want your business to know what they want before they know they want it. 

Because of this, a popular transformation trend is the adoption of AI and Machine Learning tools that contribute to personalized and customer-tailored experiences. A typical example of this is the algorithms on Netflix. It analyzes your previous watch history, likes and dislikes, and content ratings to figure out what you’re most likely to enjoy and recommends new content. This process works, as approximately 80% of the TV shows people watch on Netflix are discovered through recommendations. 

However, outside of providing different experiences for your customers, AI and Machine Learning can also involve streamlining rote processes that your employees do themselves, like cleaning up and organizing your data or using a social media scheduling tool to post and analyze your social profiles. McKinsey has predicted that, across the board, this kind of automation can increase productivity by 14% annually

Location-Adaptable Technology

Also influenced by COVID-19, businesses in 2020 have realized how important it is to have an arsenal of tools available that will allow their employees to work remotely whenever necessary. Some of these tools are familiar options, like Google Suite, Microsoft Office Teams, and Trello, but additional tools have gained popularity throughout 2020.

Ring Central is one of these tools, as it enables calls to your business line to be forwarded to mobile phones, or remote working employees. This is extremely beneficial for customer experience focused businesses. Zoom is another tool that has become a communication powerhouse over the last few months. It is an easy-to-use desktop platform for scheduling, hosting, and recording company meetings. 

All in all, COVID-19 has shown us that working from home is a valuable modell for businesses to consider, both during and after the pandemic. Some businesses have already committed to continuing this practice as time goes on. For example, Google has pushed back planned office returned dates to September 2021 and has said that the company will be testing a flexible workweek model where employees can split their workweek between working from home and participating in office collaboration days.

Application Programming Interface (API) Security

As processes become digital, it becomes even more important to protect the private, sensitive information you store within your company platforms. Given this, a recent digital transformation trend is an increased need for API security. 

In short, the APIs you’re using are the products you’ve implemented due to your digital transformation strategy, like Slack. Slack is a tool that can house business communications between internal teams and business employees. You’re likely using Slack to send out private information that is business-sensitive, but how are you going to ensure that this data isn’t taken advantage of?API security

API security involves using safety measures that ensure your sensitive information is secure and safe from hackers or external threats, like encryption services and two-factor authentication. While these measures are essential for your business information, API security is also important to consumers. 

For them, this means that the information you collect from them is stored securely and also safe from external threats. This means that if they enter banking information on your site to make a purchase, they want that information safe from malware. If you have an app that they’ve downloaded onto their phone, they want to know that the app is secure, and no third-party has access to this information. 84% of customers are more loyal to companies with robust security, so it’s worth adapting these processes. 

 

Given the trends mentioned above, it’s clear that digital transformation is something to focus on for 2021 if you haven’t already begun the process for your business. Or, if you have, maybe you’re hoping to address a different business challenge and start a new process entirely. Whatever your desires are, let’s go over four real-life examples of brands that have gone digital in a notable way. 

1. Nike

Nike, a sportswear company, has focused their digital transformation strategy on mobile devices. Rather than needing to visit a store and consult with an in-person employee, their mobile application uses machine learning and AI algorithms to study customer preferences and previous purchases to recommend products they may enjoy. 

The company also created a scanning tool where customers can scan their feet and the AI uses 13 data points to recommend the best pair of shoes. This automation eliminates the need to obtain recommendations from an in-store employee, so users can make decisions at home and spend less time in stores because they already know what they want. 

During the pandemic, this tool has become especially useful as customers can get shoe recommendations and make purchases online, ensuring the safety of in-house employees and other visitors. 

2. Wepow

Wepow is a Human Resources tech company. They have enacted a digital transformation to digitize the application and hiring process. Like Nike, the company has used AI and machine learning to analyze data to make it easier for employers and applications to connect digitally through online video interviewing and online applications. 

During the pandemic, businesses like this have become a beneficial resource as an alternative to in-person interviewing as remote work and safety requirements do not allow for in-house interviewing. 

3. Target

Target, a U.S. based department store, has spent the past eight years enacting a digital transformation that bridges the gap between in-person and Ecommerce shopping. 

Many of their stores have been remodeled and equipped with new technology like self-checkout kiosks and in-store scanners to obtain information about products they’re interested in rather than asking for help from a store attendant. As a result, employees spend less time on rote processes and focus on customer service needs that can’t be solved with a digital tool. 

A transformation that has become increasingly beneficial during COVID-19 is their online shopping and curbside pickup option. Even though customers may be shying away from visiting a store, they may not want to wait for a shipped item to arrive at their house. Curbside pickup allows them to order everything they need online and seamlessly pick up their items at a physical Target location without leaving their car and entering a store. 

4. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Borenmisza

Part of the allure of visiting a museum is the ability to aimlessly walk through exhibits and lose track of time. This desire hasn’t changed, but unfortunately, health and safety regulations have limited or gotten rid of the ability to safely browse your favorite galleries. 

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Borenmisza, an art museum in Madrid, has risen to the occasion and undergone a digital transformation that allows art enthusiasts to continue enjoying what the museum has to offer from the comfort of their own home. They’ve digitized some of their most popular galleries and created an online museum walkthrough for interested visitors to explore and immerse themselves in the art. 

Join In on the Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is digital because technology is used to solve traditional business problems and enhance the customer experience. For most businesses, some sort of digital presence has always been essential. However, recent health and safety requirements have shown that now, more than ever, businesses must have the ability to rise to the occasion and meet customers online. 

To make sure that you’re one of these businesses, take the time to create a digital transformation roadmap, research the necessary tools, and understand the trends that have inspired other businesses to change. Being prepared now sets you up for success, regardless of what the future holds. 

19 Brilliant Examples of Holiday Marketing Campaigns

Every year, as soon as Halloween is behind us, it seems like the floodgates open. Without warning, there are holiday marketing campaigns everywhere, with countless businesses rushing to cash in on a spending frenzy. There are holiday emails, social media posts, and TV ads — oh, my.

It might seem like holiday marketing is out of control. But some brands do it very, very well.

How? Well, these brands create campaigns that actually delight customers instead of adding to holiday “noise.” They evoke emotions and promote sharing, sometimes even connecting people with their loved ones, or partnering with a charitable organization.

Great holiday marketing campaigns come in many different shapes and sizes. Check out our favorites below, and use these ideas to fuel your own holiday marketing ideas.

1. Walkers: All Mariah Carey Wants for Christmas

While the holiday season is a time for caring and sharing, Walkers shows musician Mariah Carey doing the exact opposite. After filming a music video for her famous song, “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Mariah Carey gets angry with an elf for taking her Walkers chips. To fend him off, she sings a highnote which makes him block his ears and let go of the chips.

This is a hilarious commercial because it shows that the only thing you might not want to share on Christmas is Walkers products. It also shows how even stars, like Carey, enjoy the brand.

2. Coca-Cola Canada:Give Something Only You Can Give

In a recent holiday commercial, Coca-Cola brings us the story of a dad doing everything possible to deliver his daughter’s letter to Santa. 

The dad enjoys a Coke while deciding what to do with the letter. We can sense that he’s not sure whether he’ll get there in time. 

We see him sail through a sea, hike through a forest, ride across a desert, and climb a snowy mountain as he searches for Santa. Finally, he gets there, but Santa’s closed for Christmas. Just when we think the situation’s hopeless, Santa saves the day by cruising in on a Coca-Cola-branded truck and taking the dad home. 

His little girl’s wish? For him to be home for Christmas. (This ad will definitely make you cry.) 

While we’re always tempted to give expensive gifts, the best thing that you can give to your loved ones is your presence and time.

This installment is just one of the latest in the Coca-Cola company’s legendary holiday marketing campaigns — I mean, who doesn’t love the annual debut of the Coke-drinking polar bears?

3. Microsoft: Find Your Joy

The year 2020 was difficult for many of us. We spent more time on Zoom than ever before, and we heavily relied on technology to distract us from the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t celebrate the holidays and make the most out of it with our loved ones and pets. 

Microsoft’s holiday commercial takes a fun spin on this theme. The commercial begins with a puppy named Rufus. Rufus longs to play and approaches each member of the family, but everyone, from the mother to the grandpa, is enjoying a Microsoft product and doesn’t pay attention. 

Rufus grabs his best bud, a puppy from next door. Together, they go on an imaginary adventure involving the games and activities their humans had been enjoying. The ad not only showcases Microsoft’s offerings, but reminds us to cherish our loved ones (and to pay attention to our pets!).

4. Macy’s: In Dad’s Shoes

Macy’s campaign offers a new spin on what might be considered an overdone gift: socks. 

“In Dad’s Shoes” takes a little girl through a “Freaky Friday”-like adventure, where she finds herself literally walking in her dad’s shoes for a day. Even though we see her as the daughter, everyone else, from neighbors to passerby, greets her as if she’s her dad.

Throughout the ad, she realizes how much work her dad does and how many places he frequents throughout the course of the day. He spends a lot of time walking. That’s how she gets an idea for what she’ll get him: socks. We all know that you can’t get anywhere without a good pair of socks. 

We love that Macy’s showcases a simple gift borne out of empathy. This ad tells us that gifting doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or over-the-top.

5. Airbnb: Airbnb Hosts Ring Our Opening Bell

This is a great example of an ad that doesn’t explicitly allude to the holidays, but rather emphasizes the value of community and gratitude. 

Airbnb celebrates the season by thanking its four million hosts for opening their homes to strangers all over the world. The video shows various hosts from different countries ringing the bell and opening the door. We go from the United States to Japan, from Kenya to New Zealand, from Brazil to Spain. (We love that each of these countries were listed in their original languages!)

This campaign demonstrates that you don’t need string lights or artificial trees to create an amazing campaign that embodies the holiday spirit. You can uplift your company’s values, celebrate your wins, and appreciate those who’ve played a role in your success.

6. Amazon: The Show Must Go On

If you lived through the 2020 pandemic (which you most likely did if you’re reading this), then you know how much it derailed any and all plans. Being quarantined keeps us from achieving things, it turns out. Unless it requires alone time. 

In this ad, Amazon effectively punches us in the gut with the story of a ballerina who was chosen to play the lead in her dance school’s winter show. The girl is thrilled to be chosen, but as the months pass and the pandemic gains traction, the event is canceled. Ballet classes are moved online. The girl’s initial thrill fades, a feeling we can all relate to.

Her little sister remedies the situation by putting together a DIY event next to their apartment building. All of the tenants look down on her as she dances. The event is socially-distant, and the girl gets to dance the ballet she’d been practicing for since the beginning of the year. 

What we love most is Amazon’s tasteful product placement. Rather than showing everyone ordering all supplies from Amazon, the ad showcases the purchase of a single product: a flashlight. The flashlight is the critical piece that allowed the tenants to watch the show from their balconies.

7. Woodie’s: #WereAllHomemakers

This one made us cry. Woodie’s, an Irish home improvement store, reminds us of what the holidays are about through the story of Mrs. Higgins, an elderly woman who’s beloved in her neighborhood. 

Throughout the ad, we see multiple people greet her. Neighbors and passersby are fond of her. Even the rowdy teens who loiter in front of her house love her. She has one problem: the door that leads to her yard is missing a hinge. In the United Kingdom, homes typically have a fence with a gate. Every time she leaves and comes home, she struggles opening and closing that door, as one corner drags across the ground. 

 

When Mrs. Higgins comes home on one particularly snowy day, she finds that her door opens smoothly. The picture focuses on the new hinge that had been installed. 

Who fixed it? It turns out it was a one of the teenagers who loitered in front of her home. With this advertisement, Woodie’s not only subverted expectations but also effectively communicated what’s so wonderful about the holidays.

8. Hinge: See What We’re Thankful For

This holiday season, what are you thankful for? Recently, dating app Hinge sent around an email posing the same question to its members, using the opportunity to talk about its recent rebrand and subsequent growth — something for which Hinge itself has enormous gratitude, according to the email.

The timing for this sort of marketing is impeccable. The holidays are notorious for the sentimentality they invoke among the masses, and the desire to spend them with “someone special.” 

Hinge used this email to harness the holiday spirit and redirect attention to an app that helps people find meaningful relationships, instead of, well, shorter-term alternatives.

Hinge's holiday marketing campaign asks email subscribers what they're grateful for.
[Click here to see the full email]

9. Lagavulin: Nick Offerman’s Yule Log

This one is an oldie but a goodie. Actor, writer, and humorist Nick Offerman loves his whisky. He’s sung about it before, and during a previous holiday season, he joined his favorite whisky brand, Lagavulin, to film a 45-minute video of — wait for it — Offerman sitting in a leather chair next to a crackling fire, drinking whisky and looking calmly at the camera. Where do we sign up for that gig?

“This is smart branding on Lagavulin’s part,” Kristina Monllos wrote for AdWeek. “Creating an extended ad that can serve as a conversation starter — should consumers swap the traditional Yule Log video for Offerman’s at parties — will also get everyone talking about the brand.”

Since the video was initially released, a new 10-hour version of it became available. Consider it our gift to you.

10. BarkPost: Yappy Thanksgiving Eve

Holidays are traditionally a time to be spent with family. For many of us, that includes our dogs.

BarkPost is no stranger to marketing campaigns that help “dog ruvers” include their furry friends into day-to-day life. In November, the pet-friendly brand showed how to do that at Thanksgiving, with a clever email that included holiday-themed cartoons and videos, feeding safety tips, and other holiday survival techniques — which, of course, involve your dog.

Plus, check out that adorable call to action at the bottom of the email: “Stop getting cute dogs in your email. Unsubscribe.” I mean, who would want to unsubscribe from that?

BarkPost's Thanksgiving holiday email campaign includes safety tips and adorable puppies.

11. reMarkable: Keep Your Goals for the New Year

You may not have heard of reMarkable, but no matter: this company is the definition of cool and simple. Their single offering is a tablet that acts as a “digital notebook.” When you jot anything down, the reMarkable tablet automatically turns your writing into typed notes. Pretty cool, huh? 

In its New Year email ad, reMarkable embodied the simplicity of its product by creating an equally simple campaign. In the email, they entice you to splurge with a $50 discount. Everyone knows that New Years is a time to make plans, set goals, and get your things in order. 

reMarkable presents its product as the way to do that. They want to help you save time, which will help you spend more time with your loved ones and pets in the upcoming year. And who likes transferring notes from a notebook to a tablet?

Image Source

12. Kool-Aid: All I Really Want for Christmas feat. Lil John

In a music-video styled ad, rapper Lil John quietly sits down to drink a glass of Kool-Aid as the Kool-Aid man smashes through his wall. At that moment, the bass drops as a festive musical video begins showing Lil John rapping in front of a family Christmas gathering. The video goes on to show Lil John, the Kool-Aid Man, and Santa dancing along with shots of holiday food, presents, and Lil John’s Christmas list.

By launching a full-fledged music video with a prominent rapper, Kool-Aid both entertains prospects and demonstrates how “Kool” their brand is. Along with being humorous and entertaining, this ad also reminds you that you can still drink Kool-Aid during a time of the year where you’re mostly thinking about hot beverages.

13. Resy: Where to Spend New Year’s Eve

Don’t want to cook for New Year’s Eve? We don’t want to, either—mostly because washing dishes is a chore. 

That’s what Resy bets on in a recent New Year email campaign. In a short but effective email, the company invites its subscribers to the best places to dine in the San Francisco Bay Area for the New Year. (If you’re not in San Francisco, you have the option to look for local eateries near you, also curated.) Like OpenTable, Resy allows you to make effortless reservations for you and your loved ones.  

We love that this simple email keeps the focus on what we can do to celebrate New Year’s Eve. And what better way to do that than through delicious, local food that we don’t have to cook ourselves?  

Image Source

14. Erste Group Bank: #EdgarsChristmas #believeinlove #believeinchristmas

You might not recognize this company, but you’d definitely recognize their holiday ad from 2018. Remember the cute porcupine who couldn’t get any friends because his spikes were, well, spiky? The short film has more than fifty million views on YouTube and touched millions of people’s hearts on other social media platforms. 

Erste Group Bank did it again during their 2020 holiday campaign. This time, they made it just a little bit more clear what they offer: loans that can help you purchase something that may feel out of reach, but that may help bring your family together. 

The ad begins with a granddaughter handing her grandfather his hearing aids. Throughout the video, the grandfather seems unhappy. We later find out that it’s because he’s been wanting to play music, but has no way to because he doesn’t own a piano. 

The granddaughter purchases a piano for him. In the end, the grandfather gets to play a song he’d written for his mother. The entire family joins in, and they play the song together.

15. Sonos + Spotify: #PlaylistPotluck

One great way to celebrate the holiday season is with an event. And with events typically come music. Spotify is aware of that tradition, which is why it created #PlaylistPotluck.

It started with a partnership with Sonos. The brands got together to turn playlists into something like a potluck in which everyone contributes something to bring the event together (the tagline of the campaign is “One home. One host. Everyone brings a dish.”) Only, instead of contributing food or drink, everyone contributes a tune to a collaborative playlist.

Oh, look. That feature is available with Spotify!

The idea is delightfully interactive. Instead of using traditional invitations, guests RSVP to the potluck by adding songs to the collaborative playlist. And the cherry on top? Both brands also partnered with the PBS series “Mind of a Chef” for a televised holiday special, in which various celebrity chefs will be using the feature for their own meals.

What we love about this campaign is the fact that it incorporates several different elements and media formats to make it cohesive — a speaker system, a music-streaming app, and a televised special. Plus, if you participate, you’re entered for a chance to win your very own dinner party, hosted by a world-renowned chef. Bon appetit — and rock on.

16. Google: Santa Tracker

While Google’s Santa Tracker has been around for a few years now — and we recommend checking out the back story here — its features have evolved over time. Now there are interactive mini-games such as “Santa Selfie,” “Wrap Battle,” and “Build & Bolt.” Additionally, you can watch delightful short films such as “A Day at the Museum,” so you can see what Santa’s day-to-day looks like.

It’s hard to narrow down what makes the Santa Tracker so delightful, but if we had to summarize it, we’d say this — it combines the holiday wonder of a belief in Santa with real-life technology. What a wonderful way to teach kids about the web, while also allowing them to be kids. (Although, we adults certainly appreciate it, too.)

Google even introduced a B2B element of the Santa Tracker by sharing the code with developers and releasing other elements of the tool as open source. Why make all of that information public? To inspire developers to create their “own magical experiences based on all the interesting and exciting components that came together to make Santa Tracker,” writes Google’s Developer Programs Engineer Sam Thorogood.

Up until Christmas Eve each year, visitors can have a peek at the “North Pole,” to see what Santa’s elves are up to as the holiday approaches.

Google Santa Tracker

17. Disney: From Our Family to Yours

Culture, history, and holiday cheer come together in this holiday advertisement from Disney. The media giant takes advantage of their long-standing name to take us back to 1940, when a young girl gets her first Mickey Mouse plush toy.

As the video goes on, we see the little girl grow older until she becomes a grandma. She hands down the plush toy to her granddaughter, who doesn’t appreciate it as much as she becomes a young adult.

The granddaughter realizes how much it means to her grandma and restores the toy back to its former glory. We definitely did not cry when the grandma opened her holiday gift and saw her old toy fixed and restored. 

We expected something quite touching from Disney, and this one did not disappoint. We especially love how Filipino culture has been showcased to three million viewers and counting.

18. Black Owned Everything: Jingles and Things (with “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”)

Black Owned Everything, an Instagram curator of Black-owned businesses and brands, creates the perfect gift guide in Jingles and Things

Done in partnership with Netflix and the musical “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” Jingles and Things curates the very best gifts for the holiday season, including items ranging from fragrance to dishware to dolls. There’s truly something for everyone here—and the best part is that we can support Black businesses while completing our holiday shopping.

 

Zerina Akers, the owner and head curator of Black Owned Everything, introduces us to the shop by explaining that it’s not just a marketplace but an inclusive platform. There’s nothing more that encapsulates the holiday spirit than inclusivity, community, and belonging, and we love that Jingles and Things uplifts that theme.

19. Heathrow Airport: The Heathrow Bears Return

This adorable holiday commercial from Heathrow Airport shows the journey of two grandparent teddy bears as they decide to pack up, leave their sunny home, and go visit their teddy-bear grandchildren for Christmas. At the end, you see the bears reunite with their family in London’s Heathrow Airport.

For many, these bears are both nostalgic and relatable. They remind you of the bears you might have played with as a child and the average grandparents.  At the end, when you see the teddy bears join their family, you might also remember the happiness you felt when your grandparents came and brought you gifts or hugs during the holidays.

This commercial is a sequel to a similar commercial the Heathrow launched a year before, titled “Coming Home for Christmas”. This ad follows the bears riding and exiting the plane to meet up with their family at a Heathrow Airport Gate:

This series of commercials has all the great aspects of an ad campaign because it’s relatable, nostalgic, and incredibly heartwarming.

Go Forth and Be Merry

Out of all the things that we appreciate about these campaigns, there might be one thing we like the most — the fact that they put the fun back in holidays. This season, don’t let the stress get to you. Have a laugh or a cry with these examples, and please, be merry.

From our family to yours, happy holidays.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and was updated in January 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

The State of Video Marketing in 2021 [New Data]

It’s well established that video has been one of the breakout trends in the marketing world for the past decade.

But how is that assertion standing up to the twists and turns of a global pandemic? 

The challenges — and changes — brought about by this most surreal year have affected us all. 

At Wyzowl, we’ve released an annual State of Video Marketing survey every year since 2015, charting usage, spend, channels and opinions among video marketers and consumers. 

We recently released our seventh State of Video Marketing report and, in light of the chaos of the past year, it’s perhaps our most fascinating set of findings yet.

Our research suggests:

  • Video remains a key priority for marketers with usage and spend both, overall, increasing slightly throughout 2020, and plans to increase again in the next 12 months.
  • The pandemic has impacted the video marketing landscape in contrasting ways – while video is generally seen as a more necessary tool by both marketers and consumers, many have seen budgets restricted and plans shelved.
  • The pandemic has overwhelmingly increased the amount of online video people watch.
  • Marketers feel more positive about the return on investment offered by video than ever, as it continues to strongly influence traffic, leads, sales, and audience understanding.
  • Consumers continue to use video as an integral part of their journey with brands, and are excited to see even more video content in the year ahead.

About the Survey

Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing Survey is an annual report, now in its seventh iteration. Every year, we ask a range of questions — many of them the same from year-to-year — to evaluate how the video marketing landscape is changing and growing. 

This time round, our survey was taken by a sample of 813 unique respondents (our highest ever sample) consisting of professional marketers and consumers.

The key findings …

86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, up slightly from 85% in 2019.

This is the high point in a general story of video usage growing which can be traced back to 2016 (the first time we asked this particular question in this way.)

What’s more, 93% of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy — an increase from 92% in 2020, making this the highest percentage of any year since 2015.

Perhaps most strikingly, 87% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI — a world away from the lowly 33% who felt that way in 2015. This could well be attributed to greater understanding of how to use video, as well as how to track and quantify its impact

Pandemic Impact

So what about the impact of the global pandemic? 

Let’s begin with the fact that 91% of marketers feel the pandemic has made video more important for brands.

A fairly considerable 40% of video marketers said their plans to create video were affected by the events of the last year — with around 74% of these saying they were more likely to use video, and 26% saying it was less likely. 

Around 60% of video marketers say they expect their budget to be affected for 2021, with around 70% of those people expecting a higher video marketing budget, and the other 30% expecting it to be lower.

68% of consumers say the pandemic has impacted the amount of video content they’ve watched online, with the overwhelming majority (96%) saying this has increased.

Looking forward …

All the signs suggest that usage and spend are on course to continue their growth in 2021.

More than 99% of current video marketers told us they’ll continue using video in 2021, and 96% plan to increase or maintain their spend (again, up slightly from 95% last year.)

What’s more, from the people who told us they don’t currently use video, 69% told us they expect to start in 2020. (This is 10% higher than last year’s figure of 59%.)

 

The net result of this is that we can all expect to see more noise and competition for audience attention in the coming 12 months.

Of course, while this is a challenge, it isn’t an insurmountable one. It simply raises the bar in terms of content quality. Video needs to be well-planned, and very well-executed.

The big opportunities …

You’d be forgiven for looking at these numbers and feeling that video might be on the verge of reaching saturation point. Most of the data around usage, spend, and consumer opinion are in the 80s and 90s — where they’ve held, consistently, for a number of years.

But the good news is that there still seems to be underutilized opportunities for marketers to explore around video.

Unsurprisingly, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms among video marketers — used by 87% and 70%, respectively. 

But some of the lesser-used video tactics also seem to be reaping real results for video marketers.

Most notably, perhaps given global events and an increased desire for remote connection, 2020 seems to have been the year of the webinar. In 2019, just 46% used webinars — but in 2020, this rose significantly to 62%.

What’s more, an overwhelming 91% of webinar marketers say they’ve been a success, making it the most effective video marketing channel of all those listed.

To Sum Up

The events of 2020 did, and are doing, little to slow the rise of video. 

In many ways, with people being isolated in their homes, and some teams working with less budgeting and resources than pre-pandemic, the demand (and consumption) of video has been accelerated.

Video looks set to continue its ten-year overnight success story into the coming decade. These stats paint a picture of a media type that’s almost universally popular among both marketers and their audiences, helping achieve a number of incredibly important goals.

You can check out the full report — with plenty more data points — and get a downloadable version by visiting Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing 2021 page.

How to Use Schema Markup to Improve Your Website’s Structure

Just like when I first watched The Matrix, when I initially heard the term “schema markup,” I was intimidated by the technical know-how I felt I needed to understand it.

However, just like the movie, understanding schema markup isn’t as difficult as you might think.

As a marketer, schema markup is important because you want to make it as easy as possible for search engines to crawl your website.

The easier it is for Google to understand your site, the higher in search engines your website can appear.

Below, let’s review what schema markup is, where to add it, and how it can improve your website’s structure.

What Is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is code you can add to your website that helps search engines return better results for users. Essentially, it gives vital information to search engines to include in your listing that can improve visibility online, as well as click-through rates.

In 2011, top search engines including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex collaborated to create schema.org, which is a “collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond.”

Ultimately, schema markup is a form of microdata. According to Wikipedia, “microdata is an HTML specification used to nest metadata within existing content on web pages. Search engines, web crawlers, and browsers can extract and process microdata from a web page and use it to provide a richer browsing experience for users.”

For instance, schema markup will create an enhanced description — sometimes referred to as a rich snippet — which will appear in search results.

As a result of using microdata, your website’s structure will be simple and easy for search engines to crawl, making it easier to appear higher in search results.

1. iPhone 11 Example

Below is an example of a search engine results page featuring listings with and without schema markup data. As you can see, three of the top four results for the iPhone 11 have schema markup data including ratings, reviews, and price.

Although T-Mobile and Tom’s Guide are the third and fourth listing down, using schema markup microdata can improve its click-through-rate. Plus, it helps the listing stand out from the rest.

iphone-schema-markup-example

2. Betabrand Example

In the example below, there are three listings for Betabrand yoga pants on Google. The ones from Betabrand and Good Housekeeping don’t include additional information.

However, the one from Amazon includes ratings and reviews.

Again, including this type of information helps search engines provide more information that can persuade users to click on your listing.

betabrand-schema-markup-example

3. Booking.com Example

In the example below, you can see Booking.com used schema markup to include ratings, reviews, price, and Frequently Asked Questions for an Orange County hotel. In their listing, they include a drop-down, answering questions a user might have.

If someone is searching for and might be staying in that hotel they can learn how close it is to the airport, the average cost, and the ratings.

Fairfield Inn schema markup data on Google.

Where to Add Schema Markup

You can add a variety of microdata depending on your service or product.

For example, you can include:

  • Reviews
  • Star ratings
  • Pricing
  • Availability
  • Events
  • Location
  • Price range
  • Payment options
  • Store hours

The options are endless. No matter what service or product you sell, you can use schema markup to enhance your search engine listings.

So, how do you add schema markup to your site?

Schema Markup Generator

The process is actually pretty simple. All you need to do is use a schema markup generator.

Step 1: Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper

Step 2: Select the type of listing you want to add schema markup to. Then, copy and paste the URL in the form field.

Step 3: Add schema markup data on the right pane by filling in the information you want to show up.

Step 4: Hit “Create HTML” button.

Step 5: Copy and paste the yellow, highlighted code. This is your schema markup code. Alternatively, you can hit the “Download” button to grab the code.

Step 6: Paste the code into your content management system.

Once you’ve gone through this process, you’ll want to then test your schema markup to make sure it shows up correctly in search engines.

If you use HubSpot, you can actually use a Schema Helper integration to add schema markup to your posts.

Below, let’s review how to test your listing.

Schema Markup Tester

Now that you’ve added the schema markup code to your site, it’s time to test it out. You can do this by using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

You can test your schema markup two ways: by URL or code.

To test the URL, all you need to do is copy and paste the URL of the webpage you want to see. Then, the tool will showcase a preview of your listing.

To test the code, you can copy and paste the code the structured data markup tool generated for you. Again, a preview of your listing will appear.

While schema markup may seem technically intimidating, it’s actually a simple process. By using schema markup code, you can increase the visibility of your search engine listings and improve click-through-rates.

How to Do a SWOT Analysis [With Template & Examples]

As your business grows, you face more obstacles, challenges, opportunities, and projects in general. It’s a good and natural part of scaling an organization, but how do you determine your priorities? Which initiatives should you execute on first, and which challenges should you address right away?

Enter the SWOT analysis, a framework that can help you develop a roadmap for moving forward with your business, maximizing opportunities and minimizing roadblocks along the way. 

While it may seems simple on the surface, a SWOT analysis allows you to make unbiased evaluations on: 

  • Your business or brand
  • Market positioning
  • A new project or initiative
  • A specific campaign or channel

Practically anything that requires strategic planning, internal or external, can have the SWOT framework applied to it, helping you avoid unnecessary errors down the road from lack of insight. 

Importance of SWOT Analysis

You’ve noticed by now that SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threads. The framework seems simple enough that you’d be tempted to forego doing using it at all, relying instead on your intuition to take these things into account. 

But you shouldn’t. Doing a SWOT analysis is important because: 

  • It gives you the chance to worry and to dream. Adding the SWOT analysis as an important step in your strategic process, you’re giving yourself the space to dream, evaluate, and worry before taking action. Your insights in this regard then turn into assets as you create the roadmap for your project or initiative.
  • It forces you to define your variables. Instead of diving head first into the planning and execution, you’re taking inventory of all your assets and roadblocks. These can help you create a more specific and effective roadmap.
  • It allows you to think more critically and account for mitigating factors. As you identify weaknesses and threats, you’re better enabled to account for them in your roadmap, improving your chances for success.
  • It helps you keep a written account. As your organization grows and changes, you’ll be able to strike things off your old SWOTs and add new things as the industry changes. It can be illuminating to look back to where you started as you look ahead at what’s to come.

Here, we’ll tackle how to best do a SWOT analysis, provide you with a SWOT analysis template, and conduct SWOT analyses on major brands Apple and Starbucks. When you’re done reading, you’ll have all the inspiration and tactical advice you need to tackle a SWOT analysis for yourself.

How Do You Write a Good SWOT Analysis?

There are several steps you’ll want to take when evaluating your business and conducting a strategic SWOT analysis.

1. Download HubSpot’s SWOT Analysis Template.

There’s no need to start from scratch for your analysis. Here, I’ve created a sample using a free, editable template — feel free to use the model yourself, or create your own as it suits your needs.

free editable SWOT Analysis pdf template

Download a free, editable SWOT analysis template.

2. Arrange each section into a table with four quadrants.

Whether you use the template above as a model or create your own to suit your needs, it can be helpful to start in table format to visualize your SWOT analysis. This can be done by arranging each of the four sections into separate quadrants.

3. Identify your objective.

Before you start writing things down, you’ll need to figure out what you’re evaluating with your SWOT analysis. Be specific with what you want to analyze. Otherwise, your SWOT analysis may end up being too broad, and you’ll get analysis paralysis as you are making your evaluations.

If you’re creating a social media program, you’ll want to conduct an analysis to inform your content creation strategy. If you’re launching a new product, you’ll want to understand its potential positioning in the space. If you’re considering a brand re-design, you’ll want to consider existing and future brand conceptions. 

All of these are examples of good reasons to conduct a SWOT analysis. By identifying your objective, you’ll be able tailor your evaluation to get more actionable insights.

3. Identify your strengths.

“Strengths” refers to what you are currently doing well. Think about the factors that are going in your favor as well as the things you offer that your competitors just can’t beat.

For example, let’s say you want to use a SWOT analysis to evaluate your new social media strategy.

If you’re looking at a new social media program, perhaps you want to evaluate how your brand is perceived by the public — is it easily recognizable and well-known? Even if it’s not popular with a widespread group, is it well-received by a specific audience in particular?

Next, think about your process: is it effective or innovative? Is there good communication between your marketing and sales to ensure both departments use similar vocabulary when discussing your product?

Finally, evaluate your social media message, and in particular, how it differs from the rest of the industry. I’m willing to bet you can make a lengthy list of some major strengths of your social media strategy over your competitors, so try to dive into your strengths from there.

4. Identify your weaknesses.

Similarly to your strengths, what are the roadblocks hindering you from reaching your goals? What do your competitors offer that continue to be a thorn in your side. This section isn’t about being a Negative Nancy. Rather, it’s critical to foresee any potential obstacles that could mitigate your success.

When identifying weaknesses, consider what areas of your business are the least profitable, where you lack certain resources, or what costs you the most time and money. Take input from employees in different departments, as they’ll likely see weaknesses you hadn’t considered.

If you’re examining a new social media strategy, you might start by asking yourself these questions: First, if I were a consumer, what would prevent me from buying this product, or engaging with this business? What would make me click away from the screen?

Second, what do I foresee as the biggest hinderance to my employees’ productivity, or their ability to get the job done efficiently? What derails their social media efforts?

5. Consider your opportunities.

This is your chance to dream big. What are some opportunities for your social media strategy you hope, but don’t necessarily expect, to reach?

For instance, maybe you’re hoping your Facebook ads will attract a new, larger demographic. Maybe you’re hoping your YouTube video gets 10,000 views, and increases sales by 10%.

Whatever the case, it’s important to include potential opportunities in your SWOT analysis. Ask yourself these questions: What technologies do I want my business to use to make it more effective? What new target audience do I want to reach? How can the business stand out more in the current industry? Is there something our customers complain about that we could fix with our social media strategy?

The opportunities category goes hand-in-hand with the weaknesses category. Once you’ve made a list of weaknesses, it should be easy to create a list of potential opportunities that could arise if you eliminate your weaknesses.

6. Contemplate your threats.

It’s likely, especially if you’re prone to worrying, you already have a good list of threats in your head.

If not, gather your employees and brainstorm: What obstacles might prevent us from reaching our social media goals? What’s going on in the industry, or with our competitors, that might mitigate our success? Is there new technology out there that could conflict with our product?

Writing down your threats helps you evaluate them objectively. For instance, maybe you list your threats in terms of least and most likely to occur, and divide and conquer each. If one of your biggest threats is your competitor’s popular Instagram account, you could work with your marketing department to create content that showcases your product’s unique features.

SWOT Analysis Examples

The template above helps get you started on your own SWOT analysis.

But, if you’re anything like me, it’s not enough to see a template. To fully understand a concept, you need to see how it plays out in the real world.

These SWOT examples are not exhaustive, and I’m sure you could add some yourself, but hopefully, it’s enough to inspire you as you do your own SWOT analysis.

Apple’s SWOT analysis

Here’s how we’d conduct a SWOT analysis on Apple.

SWOT analysis showing Apple's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

Strengths

First off, strengths. While Apple has many strengths, let’s identify the top three:

  1. Brand recognition
  2. High prices
  3. Innovative products

Apple’s brand is undeniably valuable, and their business is considered the most valuable in the world. Since it’s easily recognized, Apple can produce new products and almost ensure a certain degree of success by virtue of the brand name itself.

This degree of recognition lends itself to Apple’s ability to sell products. For instance, in 2019, Apple sold 72.9 million iPhones compared to 70 million Galaxy phones by Samsung. This is despite the price disparity between the two (the flagship Galaxy phone is $100 cheaper). Often, people don’t care about price as much as they care about brand recognition.

Lastly, their innovative products: Apple didn’t earn its reputation for nothing. They create highly innovative products, which are often at the forefront of the industry.

Weaknesses

Next, let’s look at three of Apple’s weaknesses.

  1. High prices
  2. Closed ecosystem
  3. Lack of experimentation

While the high prices don’t deter Apple’s middle and high class customer-base, they do hinder Apple’s ability to reach a lower-class demographic.

Apple also suffers from its own exclusivity. Apple controls all its services and products in-house, and while many customers become loyal brand advocates for this reason, it means all burdens fall on Apple employees.

Ultimately, Apple’s tight control over who distributes their products limit their market reach.

Lastly, Apple is held to a high standard when it comes to creating and distributing products. Apple’s brand carries a high level of prestige, but that level of recognition inhibits Apple from taking risks and experimenting freely with new products that could fail.

Opportunities

Now, let’s take a look at opportunities for Apple.

It’s easy to recognize opportunities for improvement, once you consider Apple’s weaknesses. Here’s a list of three we came up with:

  1. Expand distribution options
  2. Create new product lines
  3. Technological advancement

One of Apple’s biggest weaknesses is its distribution network, which, in the name of exclusivity, remains relatively small. If Apple expanded its network and enabled third-party businesses to sell its products, it could reach more people globally, while alleviating some of the stress currently put on in-house employees.

There are also plenty of opportunities for Apple to create new products. Apple could consider creating more affordable products to reach a larger demographic, or spreading out into new industries — Apple self-driving cars, perhaps?

Finally, Apple could continue advancing its products’ technology. Apple can take existing products and refine them, ensuring each product offers as many unique features as possible.

Threats

Finally, let’s look at threats to Apple.

Believe it or not, they do exist.

Here are three of Apple’s biggest threats:

  1. Tough competition
  2. Lawsuits
  3. International issues

Apple isn’t the only innovative tech company out there, and it continues to face tough competition from Samsung, Google, and other major forces. Many of Apple’s weaknesses hinder Apple’s ability to compete with the tech corporations that have more freedom to experiment, or that don’t operate in a closed ecosystem.

A second threat to Apple is lawsuits. Apple has faced a bunch of lawsuits, particularly between Apple and Samsung, and so far it has only won one case. These lawsuits interfere with Apple’s reputable image, and could steer some customers to purchasing elsewhere.

Finally, Apple needs to improve its reach internationally. It isn’t number one in China, and doesn’t have a very positive relationship with the Chinese government. Then, in India, which has one of the largest consumer markets in the world, Apple’s market share is low, and the company has trouble bringing stores to India’s market.

If Apple can’t compete globally the way Samsung or Google can, it risks falling behind in the industry.

Starbucks SWOT Analysis

Now that we’ve explored the nuances involved with a SWOT analysis, let’s fill out a SWOT template using Starbucks as an example.

Here’s how we’d fill out a SWOT template, if we were Starbucks:

Starbucks SWOT Analysis example

Dine-In Thai Restaurant SWOT Analysis

Some small-business marketers may have difficulty relating to the SWOT’s of big brands like Apple and Starbucks, so here’s an example of how a restaurant might visualize each element:

Dine-in Thai Restaurant SWOT analysis example

While a Thai or any other restaurant might not be as worried about high-level lawsuits like Apple, the small business might be more worried about competitors or disruptors that might enter the playing field. 

Local Boutique SWOT Analysis

In another small-business example, a local boutique might be well known in its neighborhood, but it also might take time to build an online presence or get its products in an online store. Because of this, some of its strengths and opportunities might relate to physical factors while weaknesses and threats might relate to online situations.

Local boutique SWOT analysis example

When to Use a SWOT Analysis

Ultimately, a SWOT analysis can measure and tackle both big and small challenges, and opportunities, and both big and little strengths and weaknesses.

While the examples above focus on businesses in general, you can also use a SWOT analysis to evaluate and predict how a singular product will play out in the market.

Hopefully, our SWOT template will supplement your market research and business analysis, and provide fair insights into how to optimize your products for bigger payoffs, and less hurdles.

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

Why You Might Want to Be More Negative in Your Marketing

Ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

Of course you have. We all have.

Ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and then have to be cheery? Like, interact in social media? Write an engaging blog post? Put together a lovable email marketing campaign?

Ugh. Those are the times you wish you could shut out the world, or at least channel a little of your inner snark. Well, the good news is you can do that once in a while, and your marketing results may even thank you for it! Sometimes, it’s good to embrace a little bit of the negative. (Trust me — this will all make sense in a second.)

So, here we go … if you ever wake up wanting to shut out the world, here’s how you can take it out (positively!) in your marketing.

Keep in mind, however, that negative marketing shouldn’t be deployed simply because you want to be cranky. Instead, it should be implemented strategically with one (or more) of these goals in mind: 

  • Empathizing with customer struggles 
  • Differentiating your brand with that of competitors, especially those who may not be willing to take a stand or acknowledge certain truths in the industry
  • Cutting through the noise of “neutral” messaging that might not be resonating

If you’re successful, the end result causes you to stick in your audience’s mind, which gives you the bandwidth to prove your brand as a superior alternative.

How to Be Negative in Your Marketing

So how do you implement this tactic successfully? Here are some opportunities to be “more negative” in your marketing.

1. Create negative, or exclusionary, personas.

Let’s start with something a little bit easier to swallow than just being a total grumpy pants: exclusionary personas. Exclusionary personas, sometimes also referred to as negative personas, are kind of like the opposite of buyer personas — they’re the personas of the people you do not want to target in your marketing.

This is about more than just recognizing that not everyone in the world is a potential future customer — it’s about recognizing that your marketing attracts certain types of people who totally clog up your funnel, waste your sales team’s time, and will never become customers.

Why won’t they ever become a customer? Could be a lot of things — they don’t have the budget, or they’re just fans of your content or social media presence. Or maybe they do become customers, but they cost you a ton of money; for instance, they could have a high acquisition cost or a high propensity to churn.

In this case, it behooves you to identify who these folks are so you can ensure you either 1) stop creating content that draws in the wrong people, or 2) let them keep reading and engaging with your content to help you spread your reach, but keep them from getting rotated to sales reps using methods like assigning them a low lead score.

2. Leverage a little exclusivity.

This is the VIP, red-carpet tactic we all know and love (or love to hate). When you tell someone they can’t have something or what they want is scarce, it often makes them want it more. You know, the whole “playing hard to get” thing.

This just so happens to be a common sales tactic, but marketers can use it, too. Tell prospects they can have an offer … but only for a limited time. Or only for the first 10 that respond in social media. Heck, you don’t even always have to tell them what it is.

This tactic is particularly popular with savvy ecommerce shops, too — ModCloth, for instance, frequently sends me emails letting me know that an item I like is so popular, it’s almost out of stock. “Oh no! Everyone else is snagging it! I have to get it before I’m left out!”

The moral of the story? Leave people out once in a while. If everyone gets something, it’s not as special. And when you go VIP, the ones who do get it feel uber-special. (There… we just turned a negative into a positive. See?)

3. Craft “negative” headlines and titles.

I don’t know what this says about human nature, but there’s an undeniable correlation between page views and negativity. Consider some of these titles you might find on a news site like CNN:

  • What you get wrong about BBQ
  • Could our favorite flavorings be damaging our DNA?
  • Beware the parental overshare

These are about clicks. No question about it. We all know the news has gone the negative route for years, and — for better or worse — they do it because it is effective at grabbing attention.

Now, you absolutely shouldn’t throw out some inflammatory headline just to get clicks — if you’re going to get negative with your titles, you have to back it up with some solid content that actually merits that title of yours. Here are a few examples that worked out extremely well for us:

4. Create a bond over a shared negative experience — but don’t dwell.

Alright, now we’re getting warmed up! So you’re throwing out some negative titles, but have you considered drawing that negativity into your content? When you draw on a negative situation in your content — particularly right in the beginning — it can actually help reader retention and engagement. Some marketers are afraid to stir up negative feelings in their reader, but it can actually create a shared experience and tap into a level of emotion that some may not expect to get while reading marketing content, particularly if you’re a B2B marketer.

I mean, that’s why I started this post the way I did — getting up on the wrong side of the bed is an experience everyone I know can relate to. And sometimes, it’s easier to form a bond with someone over a shared negative experience than something warm and fuzzy.

But be forewarned — once you have a bond with the reader based on a shared negative experience, it’s crucial to shift the mood to something more positive and solution-oriented. People like to know they’re not alone (misery loves company), but most don’t like to dwell on the negativity.

5. Cast some villains.

Just like we can all bond over a shared negative experience, so too can we bond over a common enemy. Casting a villain has been a common marketing tactic for years, and I’m not just talking about the Hamburglar. Villains can take more subtle forms, playing on common tropes — the jerk boss, the slob roommate, bureaucratic drone.

These take common experiences and personify them in order to elicit a feeling in the consumer, and help tell the story you’re trying to tell. A great example of this is Genesis’s “Going Away Party” commercial where they use the “stuffy” party trope and the “villains” within it to demonstrate that luxury doesn’t have to be stuffy.

 

6. Take a stand for something you believe in, even if it’s controversial.

If you feel confident about your brand, your PR team, and your position on an issue, you can take a controversial stance on a popular topic. Controversial marketing is a risky play because, in many cases, your brand could be seen as capitalizing on an issue just to peddle your products. However, when done well, your brand could be seen as socially responsible. 

Controversial marketing can also do a few other things for your marketing:

  • Position you as a thought leader (only if your thought was a good one — so try to make sure it is)
  • Help you define your brand in the eyes of consumers and what it stands for
  • Drive natural publicity
  • Elicit strong emotions from audiences, both positive and negative

That last one is what I want you to pay the most attention to. When you take a staunch position on a polarizing issue, you will have people who like you less for it. You will also generate some seriously ardent supporters. If you’re going to play the controversy game, be prepared to deal with both, because while some results could be really exciting for your brand, some backlash will inevitably come with it.

7. Use data to build a case study around why something stinks.

Let’s start off with an example: [New Research] It’s Official — Lots of Salespeople Hate Their CRM. It gets props off the bat for its grabby negative headline, but it’s also full of interesting statistics like this one:

50% of sales leaders say that their CRM is difficult to use, and 18% say this has caused them to lose opportunities or revenue.

You build a case around why one thing stinks (traditional CRMs) so you can show why something else is awesome (the new HubSpot Sales Hub Enterprise).

This can be made even more compelling if you have two data points that demonstrate a stark contrast; the juxtaposition of positive and negative paints a pretty dramatic picture in readers’ minds, and the succinct data points make it easy to quickly demonstrate the bad versus the good.

8. Poke some fun at your competitors.

This is perhaps what most people think of when negative marketing is discussed, but it’s rarely executed because of how delicate the situation can be. On one hand, a little healthy competition can be a good thing, especially if you want to position yourself as a better option. However, if done poorly, your audience may actually think less of your brand for “playing dirty” or being too low-brow. In addition, if you leverage false claims, you could be asking for legal trouble.

There are two types of negative marketing with regard to your competitors: 

  1. Attack: Focuses on the negative sides of your competition’s offerings. 
  2. Contrast: Focuses on the positive sides of your offerings and establishes the gap. This is more subtle but still highlights what your competition may lack.

Typically, it’s easier for larger brands to engage in negative marketing with their competition because they’re already well-known, so the reward can be greater than the risk to highlight value propositions.

Pepsi has a famous “attack” ad in which a child dispenses two Coca-Cola cans from a vending machine and stands on them in order to reach the Pepsi button. 

Bud Light uses the more subtle “contrast” approach in their “Special Delivery Corn Syrup” ad: 

This ad works because it’s a light narrative and doesn’t engage in serious mud-slinging (it merely highlights a differentiator).

Nonetheless, controversy brewed even in this case as the company was sued for potentially misleading consumers by not acknowledging the difference between corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, which demonstrates exactly why this tactic is risky.

If your brand isn’t a household name, it may be better to highlight value propositions and differentiators in less risky ways.

For example, some brands engage in competitor criticism without mentioning any names. Doing this ensures you’re not giving your competition free airtime while you capitalize on ideas your consumers know to be true. For example, Domino’s does this in their “Designed to Be Delivered” ad, which doesn’t mention a single competitor (but does imply them):

 

9. Make fun of yourself.

Another less risky way would be to turn that negativity inward. A little self-deprecation can be fun for others, makes you seem more human, and actually might make you feel better about your slip-ups. After all, we all have them, and it’s important to learn how to make light of your mistakes. Speaking of Domino’s, one of the best examples of recent self-deprecating advertising is when Domino’s admitted their pizza tasted like cardboard and what they’re doing about it:

 

When Negativity Backfires

All this being said, it’s important to always consider whether your negativity is going to backfire. Are you being an unadulterated jerkface? Is this negativity going to be lost on your audience? Does your buyer persona really hate this kind of stuff?

For instance, something that almost always comes off as totally petty and unnecessarily negative is bickering with competitors. I mean, think about how annoying political ads are; you certainly don’t want to come off like that. I think one piece of advice from my childhood can sum up how you should approach bickering with competitors:

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Yes, even if they started it.

It’s also important to remember that any negativity you draw on needs to be tempered with some positivity. 

Finally, I think striving to be inspirational should always be an aspiration for marketers. There’s no question that marketers capable of inspiring people see unbelievable success from their efforts. In fact, I think if you’re able to inspire people in your marketing, the effects last much longer and are much stronger than any of these negative tactics.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How to Run Marketing Team Meetings That Don’t Suck

Meetings suck. They’re time for people to avoid doing actual work, stare blankly at each other, throw in generic comments to look like they’re paying attention, and if you’re lucky, maybe come out with some wicked notebook doodles.

Is that how people perceive your marketing meetings? I hope not, because they don’t actually have to be that way.

Turn your marketing meetings into something useful by — you guessed it — creating compelling content! (Oh my gosh, inbound marketing concepts work in real life, too!)

As your team grows, it’s important for everyone to get in a room together and talk about what they’ve been working on in their corner of the world. So to ensure those marketing meetings aren’t blocks of time your team dreads, make note of these tips for how to make marketing team meetings truly useful for your employees.

How to Run an Effective Meeting

While this post will primarily focus on marketing meetings, I want to address a team-agnostic section about effective meetings as a whole.

As I said above, meetings can be a grandiose waste of time. It’s tempting to run your work by others, gather feedback or affirmation, or simply avoid the tough stuff by calling meetings.

I’m here to tell you — don’t do it. The first step to running effective meetings is to only schedule meetings when absolutely necessary.

Quarterly meetings to report on company progress and important news? Of course. Monthly meetings to touch base on KPIs and recruit help for projects? Sounds great. Weekly meetings to report on current responsibilities and asks? I’m torn on whether this one is necessary, but for large teams or teams with new employees, this could be a good move.

Every moment in a meeting is time away from heads-down work, the work that arguably moves your business forward. Are meetings necessary to take a break, touch base, and rally with your team? Of course.

Secondly, to understand the effectiveness and efficiency of a meeting, ask your team. Ask, “is [meeting] helpful for you? If so, what are its top two benefits for you?” This can help you understand what percentage of your teams finds value in your meetings and what components or agenda items may be able to be removed to save time.

Speaking of agendas, let’s discuss next what your marketing meeting agendas should resemble.

Marketing Meeting Agenda

Whether your marketing team meeting is weekly monthly, this section will explain the content you should every single time. We also recommend creating a slide deck that you project for your team in each meeting so you can all follow along with each agenda item.

Marketing Meeting Agenda Example

For every meeting, you should have a dedicated agenda slide that lays out three things:

  • What will be discussed in today’s meeting
  • Who will be leading each discussion
  • How much time is allotted for each discussion

Take a look at one of our recent marketing team meeting agenda slides:

marketing meeting agenda

Outlining who is talking, what they’re covering, and how much time they have to discuss it will help prevent the meeting from getting derailed. It will also prevent people from delving into unproductive conversations that are best had at another time and place.

As for what components should be on your marketing meeting agenda, let’s discuss what to cover during your marketing meeting.

Review Important Metrics

Do a quick review of your most important marketing metrics. These shouldn’t be niche metrics, like email unsubscribe rate, social media reach, or blog subscriber growth; save those for your monthly meetings where you review month-over-month progress.

These should be the metrics your marketing team is measured on. In other words, at the end of the month, what metrics will tell you whether the marketing team succeeded?

While every business will likely review something different depending on their business model, here are some ideas for you:

It’s important to review your team’s important metrics because these are how you’re measured onas an overall marketing team. And if you don’t all know how you’re faring as the month progresses, individual contributors can’t do anything to step up and help your team’s numbers improve.

A Bit of Education

Marketing meetings should be a healthy mix of state-of-the-union content and educational content. Each week, have a couple team members present briefly about interesting projects they’ve been working on. This serves two purposes: it lets people know what their team members do all day, and they get to learn something new!

Think about it … wouldn’t it be interesting for a blogger to learn a little bit about a PPC experiment? Or for a social media intern to learn about the results of the latest email A/B test?

Sharing lessons from projects helps everyone expand their knowledge base, sidestep landmines if a project backfired, and implement effective new techniques that they never knew worked.

Boom — everyone leaves your weekly meeting a smarter, better marketer!

The Nitty Gritty Retrospective

Your meeting should also contain a review of the projects each employee (or if you’re a larger marketing department, each team) worked on last month/quarter/year, plus the results they’ve seen.

This is good for a few reasons. First, it keeps everyone accountable knowing that each meeting they need to stand up in front of their colleagues and explain just what they do all day. Second, everyone gets to learn from what everyone else worked on and become generally better marketers. Third, it helps everyone identify how individual teams are faring, and what projects they’re doing to improve their own metrics.

For example, if you have a social media team, this is their opportunity to report on the success of every single social network they manage. How is their reach faring? How much traffic are those networks sending to your site? How many leads are being generated? Why are some networks more successful than others?

While your weekly meetings (if you have them) may focus on more high-level, team-based metrics, a monthly or quarterly meeting is a good opportunity to do a deep dive into the channels and metrics that enable the entire team to meet its goals.

How You’ll Meet This Month’s Goals

After the retrospective, each employee or team should also present on their individual goals for the month or quarter, and how exactly they will meet those goals. This is not the time to be generic.

Teams should explain, point by point, everything they’ll be doing during the time period to meet the metrics they’re measured by.

For example, let’s say the email marketing team is responsible for driving more reconversions this month. What exactly will they do to, well, do that? Well, that slide might have some initiatives like A/B test email copy with and without a P.S., anoffers analysis to determine which offers convert at the highest rate, list segmentation experiments, tailoring lead generation offers to align more closely with personas to improve CTR … the list could, and should, go on.

This is also a critical time in your meeting for feedback. Build in time during every presentation — at least 5 minutes, more if you find you need it after a few meetings — for each team to solicit feedback on their proposed projects. This will help individual teams from getting derailed on projects that might not help them meet their goals, or perhaps other members of the marketing team have fantastic ideas that the teams hadn’t even thought of yet!

Big Wins

A little bit of recognition is a good thing. Set aside a couple of minutes — come on, you can’t find 5 minutes? — to showcase some of the amazing things your team members or department as a whole have accomplished.

This could be anything from press coverage, speaking engagements, engaging with power players on social media, a smash hit blog post, an email that received unprecedented click-through rates … you get the point. It’s easy to harp on where you’re falling behind, but a little cheerleading can help rally your team and remind them just how successful they can be when they put their mind to it.

Solicit Help

Everyone should have the opportunity to solicit help from team members during your marketing team meetings. The larger your team gets, the easier it is to work in silos — but everyone has their own little super powers that sometimes go unnoticed.

If there is a platform during every meeting for employees to share (if they need it) something they need a little help with, you may find others pipe up with a simple solution or resource that solves the problem.

There should also be a few minutes built into each presentation for a little feedback. If someone is presenting on the progress of an ongoing project, part of “soliciting help” may be getting feedback on what steps to take next. For example:

  • Is this project still worth pursuing?
  • How should we measure the success of this project?
  • Does anyone have a solution to a major roadblock?

So while there should be a few minutes at the end of each meeting dedicated solely to giving employees the floor to solicit help, time for feedback should be built into presentations if the presenter needs it.

You know what content to include in your marketing team meetings. Now, let’s discuss how to make those meetings run smoothly. These tips, despite helpful content, can make or break the usefulness of any marketing meeting.

1. Stay on time.

Start on time, you end on time, and honor the budgeted time set for individual presentations. I know it’s hard, especially when there’s a good discussion going on, but delegate a timekeeper who lets presenters know when they’re coming up to the end of their allotted time.

If you’re vigilant about this, people will start to self-edit their presentation, and meeting-goers will self-censor their comments, only contributing what truly needs to be said.

2. Don’t allow computers …

… said the internet marketing company. Seriously though, only the meeting coordinator should have a computer to pull up the agenda and presentations.

If others bring their laptops, you’ll find people can’t help but check their emails, get little bits of work done, and chat online, no matter how riveting the presentations are.

3. Build in time for a break.

Your weekly meeting may only be 30 or 60 minutes, but your monthly meeting could take a lot longer. In that case, build in time for people to get up, stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, get coffee, whatever.

You’ll start losing people’s attention otherwise.

4. End every meeting with action items.

Whatever you talked about during your meeting should be revisited briefly at the end of the meeting, preferably by the meeting coordinator. If you spend 20 minutes talking about how to solve your lead shortage problem at the beginning of your 90-minute meeting, there’s a good chance some of the to-dos and initiatives trickled out of people’s minds.

Make sure there’s someone taking notes throughout the meeting, and allot five minutes at the end of every meeting to review what people should start doing once they walk out of that meeting room.

5. Consider your remote folks.

Whether your entire team or just a few members are remote, it’s important to consider the remote meeting experience. As a remote worker myself, dialing into meetings as one of the few remote attendees takes a bit to get used to.

Research helpful technology to mitigate the gap between in-office and remote workers. Zoom is obviously a great choice, but other technology like The Meeting Owl by Owl Labs may be a good fit for your team. At the start of each meeting, test your connectivity and walk through your slides to be sure the message is clear for folks at home.

remote meeting

Source: Getty Images

Most importantly, gather separate feedback from your remote team members to understand their struggles and accommodate their requests.

6. Review metrics and celebrate wins.

You know those marketing metrics you decided to measure and review in the first section? The ones that noted your team’s progress throughout the month?

Now’s the time to see whether you hit your goals or not! If you hit your goals, do two things: celebrate, and explain exactly why you hit those goals. That second one is critical. Someone should explain what marketing activities strongly contributed to you hitting, say, your leads goal. That way you can repeat those activities this month!

Meetings Don’t Have to Suck

Meetings are a necessary part of work. They’re a time to celebrate wins, ask for feedback or help, and get aligned with your team and company.

Sit down with your colleagues to audit your meeting schedule and see where you can trim time or cut meetings altogether. Effective and efficient meetings are much more important than meetings for the sake of it. Your team will thank you.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How to Leverage Sensory Language in Your Blog Posts [Data + Expert Tips]

Check this out:

“You’re sitting in the creaky, mesh-backed, black ergonomic desk chair you bought at a discount off Amazon — hunched over, eyes reluctantly wide open, staring intently at a dimly lit laptop screen bearing a blank document.

It’s 4:45 PM. For most of the day, you’ve heard hardly anything except for the occasional click-clack of keys to commit some fruitless inspiration to your blog post and the intermittent spells of grating silence that came after deleting everything you jotted down.

The lasting taste of the coffee you drank about two hours earlier has gone sour but still coats your tongue and the roof of your mouth. And you can feel the effects of the caffeine slowly waning. Subtle muscle fatigue is setting in. Your eyelids are heavy and it’s a struggle in and of itself to keep them from covering your aching, weary eyes.

Your mind has gone stagnant — trapped in the clutches of what’s most commonly known as writer’s block.”

Now, I like to think that passage was vivid and immersive, and that’s mostly a credit to the kind of language I used and the personal sensations I played on — specifically how it described the sensory experiences of the subject matter.

That language is most commonly known as sensory language, and it’s a powerful resource for any writer to understand and apply. Here, we’ll cover what sensory language is, review some of the data surrounding it, and go over how you can use it in your blog posts.

Sensory language is used to describe the five primary senses — touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. They’re most commonly used to convey the specific details of scenes or add a more imaginative element to concept descriptions.

Sensory language is most commonly associated with literature. It’s a central component of most fiction and poetry, but that doesn’t mean this kind of vocabulary is exclusively artistic in its application. Marketers stand to gain a lot from understanding how to leverage it as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the data on sensory language to get a better picture of why it’s effective and how to apply it.

What Data Says About Sensory Language

Our day-to-day experiences are multisensory, but that’s hard to capture linguistically.

A 2012 study from Charles Spence, published in Science Direct, established that “most of our everyday experiences are multisensory.” Very rarely — if ever at all — are our senses siloed when we perceive the world around us.

That said, the English language is limited in its ability to capture that phenomenon and general sensory overlap. In his book Sensory Linguistics: Language, Perception, and Metaphor, linguist Bodo Winter, explains those limitations by describing the experience of eating Kimchi.

He says, “The experience involves the salty and spicy mélange of pepper and garlic notes that excite the taste buds, on top of the fermented smell, the tingly mouthfeel, and the crunchy chewing sound.”

Though his description is vivid and engaging, he notes that “conveying this experience forces the use of decoupled sensory adjectives such as salty and crunchy. The compression inherent in these words, each one singling out one aspect of the experience, means that the simultaneity of the multisensory taste experience cannot be conveyed.”

This passage helps illustrate what might be the main challenge that comes with using sensory language. Ultimately, the goal is to capture a seamless multisensory experience, but the language you have at your disposal is mostly categorized by individual senses.

Taste and smell are the most difficult senses to describe.

The five senses are essentially tiered when it comes to expressing them linguistically. Certain senses are more ineffable — or difficult to put into words — than others.

A 2014 study from Stephen Levinson and Asifa Majid, published in the journal Mind and Language, found that “in English, at least, it seems generally easier to linguistically code colors than (non-musical) sounds, sounds than tastes, tastes than smells.”

Everyone’s sensory perceptions are different, but how we individually experience taste and smell — also known as “the chemical senses” — is particularly unique.

A landmark 1990 study in the journal Physiology and Behavior found that the number of taste buds humans have on their tongues can vary radically from person to person. It’s also been found taste and smell vary as a function of factors like age, gender, and culture.

In short, it’s tough to capture the essence of senses so personal and, in turn, ineffable. And the English language’s limited vocabulary for the senses doesn’t exactly make things easier.

As Winter puts it, “Detailed descriptive characteristics of smells are not encoded in the English lexicon.” Instead, smell is often described in terms of perceived pleasantness through words like aromatic and pungent.

It might seem like taste and smell have less practical application in marketing — especially when it comes to elements like blog copy — but don’t count them out. You can get a lot of mileage out of those senses if you can convey them articulately and compellingly.

The perception of taste and smell is more emotional than other senses.

Though these senses are harder to capture, it’s in your best interest to try when appropriate. Sensory language is used to invoke meaningful images and feelings. And research indicates that language describing taste and smell bear more emotional weight than other kinds of sensory language.

As Winter puts it, “Taste and smell [as senses] are more emotional in perception, and the associated words are more emotional as well, compared to words from the other senses…There is, by now, a wealth of converging evidence for the emotionality of taste and smell language “

This point can mean a lot in the context of certain schools of marketing. If you can believe it, emotionally charged and compelling language can be an asset to a company’s emotional marketing efforts.

And if you’re interested in using sensory language in your copy in the interest of that cause, it’s worth having a pulse on which aspects of the concept are the most emotionally evocative.

Multisensory language makes for better marketing.

As I mentioned, our perception of the world around us is always multisensory, so it’s intuitive to assume that we’re naturally more receptive to marketing that reflects those kinds of experiences. And the data on the subject is consistent with that notion.

A 2009 study published in The Journal of Consumer Research focused on how multisensory advertising impacted subjects’ perceptions of taste. It found that multisensory ads result in higher taste perception than ads focusing on taste alone.

And while the study focused primarily on multisensory advertising’s impact on a single sense, other researchers have extrapolated upon its findings and assumed it applies to the other senses as well.

What does this tell us? Well, this means that multisensory marketing — supported by tactful use of sensory language — is more engaging and enriching than marketing that focuses solely on conventionally touched-on senses like sight or sound. It shows that there’s tremendous value to using a robust sensory vocabulary in your copy.

How to Use Sensory Language in Your Blog Posts

Understand when it’s appropriate to use.

First and foremost, you need to understand that sensory language can seem awkward and jarring when you force it in certain contexts that don’t necessarily warrant it.

For instance, if you’re writing a matter-of-fact, professional post about a business concept, you probably wouldn’t want to use sensory language while defining it.

Take this definition from a HubSpot blog about strategy consulting:

“Strategy consulting is when businesspeople — generally executives, boards, or management — bring in a third party to offer an outside, expert perspective on their business challenges. Strategy consultants usually have considerable industry knowledge and are expected to assess high-level business issues objectively. They take a holistic look at specific problems companies are dealing with and give advice on how they should approach them.”

It’s more appropriate to keep that aspect of the article more straightforward and professional. Overloading it with sensory language might undermine your ability to clearly establish what the concept is. That said, there are ways you could incorporate sensory language to bring that dry concept to life and make it engaging.

Add a narrative element to the post.

Even though sensory language might not be the best way to convey the more rigid, objective aspects of your post, you can still use it to qualify and illustrate certain concepts. One of the best ways to do that is by giving your piece some narrative flair.

This method gives you some space to use sensory language and make concepts more engaging and entertaining. Here’s an example of how you could do that when covering the concept of strategy consulting I just described above:

“Picture this: A CEO sits, poised in a high-backed pleather chair at the head of an engineered wood conference table, eyes shut tight with a cast of stuffy, sharply suited board members flanking the table’s sides. They look on intently — expressions caught somewhere between frustration and desperation.

The smell of stale coffee and the special kind of silence that only comes after an hour or so of beratement hang in the air. Day has turned to night out the floor to ceiling windows without any resolution about how to amend the company’s recent marketing campaign — the one that’s been trending on social media for all the wrong reasons.

The CEO finally opens their eyes, and in a tone that’s equal parts stern and exhausted, they say it: ‘We need to bring someone in.’

Enter the strategy consultant.”

With that kind of description, I was able to set the stage, capture reader attention, and pave the way for a more thorough description of what a strategy consultant does.

Use metaphors or similes.

This point ties into the one above — to a certain extent. Sometimes the subject matter you’re writing about is too dry to pull a narrative from without coming across as desperate to force sensory language on a concept that it doesn’t naturally gel with.

In those cases, it can help to use metaphors or similes — rife with sensory language and vivid description — to simultaneously engage and inform the reader. For instance, let’s imagine you’re writing a piece about quote graphics. You might want to incorporate something like this:

“Think of your quote as the entree to a Michelin star meal — an immaculate cut of filet mignon that tastes like heaven and cuts like butter.

It’s the centerpiece of the dish, and it’s delicious in its own right, but some side dishes and ‘eye-eats-first’ presentation would take it to another level. By filling out the plate with crispy, golden-roast potatoes and perfectly charred, still-sizzling Brussel sprouts, you can take the dish from ‘intriguingly a la carte’ to ‘bonafide five-star.’

That’s the fundamental principle behind quote graphics. The engaging backdrop, distinctive font, and other engrossing visual elements you use can elevate your content and make it compellingly complete.”

Though it might not always be obvious, you can often find ways to incorporate sensory language into your blog content. And when done tastefully and effectively, it can pay off in spades. So if you’re interested in finding ways to add some oomph to your blog copy, consider taking some time to better understand sensory language.

How HubSpot’s Report-Based Acquisition Campaign Hit 150% of Our Lead Goal in 30 Days

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

Acquisition marketing campaigns are critical to bring in new customers and revenue. At HubSpot, we run these campaigns quarterly.

Despite the rapid cadence, every quarter we work to create new, remarkable ways of reaching, informing, and converting our audience.

I wrote this post to share with you how we crafted our latest acquisition campaign to hit and exceed our acquisition targets.

Establishing the Campaign

The beginning of our Q1 2020 Acquisition Campaign started with a blinking cursor. As we brainstormed how to start our research, we had a few inputs to work with.

First, we knew our target audience consisted of marketing managers, as we were re-launching our Marketing Hub Enterprise product that month.

We knew that reports were a content type that worked well for us in the past. We saw our 2019 Instagram Engagement Report and a 2020 Social Media Report successfully attract new audiences.

At the very least, it was a motion that our audience was familiar with, which meant there was less of a barrier to show the value.

Additionally, seasonality played a large role in our planning. We wanted to build content to support marketers planning their strategies for the upcoming year.

With the combination of 1) a target audience, 2) an understanding of high-performing content types, 3) timing, and 4) our additional user research, we wanted to create a remarkable go-to resource for marketing managers building their strategies for the year.

Thus, the idea for “Not Another State of Marketing Report” was born.

In this article, I’ll talk through the report surveys and content, the web experience, the promotion, and the results. Hopefully, it gives you a peek behind the curtain and some inspiration for future campaigns.

Running the Surveys and Creating the Report Content

The first and most important thing about the content of this report was to start collecting survey data for analysis and visualization.

Working with our team at HubSpot Research, we ran our first survey in November/December of 2019 that went out to 3,400 global marketers.

After we sent out the survey, we talked about what might differentiate this content from other reports we had released in the past. While the data was valuable, we knew that data can be dull without human context or insights.

So, we brought in the humans.

Our first criterion for selecting our experts was their subject matter expertise. We had come up with a list of topics we wanted the report to cover (from SEO strategy to content marketing strategy and more) and wanted our experts to have deep and specific knowledge about the topic we chose them to represent.

Our second criterion was seniority. We were crafting a report for higher-level marketing managers, directors, and VPs, so we wanted our experts to have a similar level of seniority.

We are fortunate enough to work with a lot of brilliant marketers at HubSpot, so eight of our experts were internal. The other two, Cynthia Price (VP of Marketing at Litmus) and Ellie Mirman (CMO at Crayon) were generous enough to offer their time when we asked them to share their expertise with us.

We interviewed each of our experts for about an hour, took detailed notes, and recorded the interview. We also shared the survey data with them to gather their commentary about the data points. Finally, we worked with the experts to craft detailed articles with their advice for the upcoming year.

We decided to leave these articles ungated on the web experience, so we optimized them for organic search with extensive keyword research. We’ve seen some exciting results from that play — generating over 15,000 backlinks in the first two months and taking the number three result for the search term “state of marketing”.

state of marketing search engine results page

When we received the initial survey data, we were thrilled by the results — but knew we needed to take it one step further. So, we ran an additional survey in January to a North American database of marketers.

At this point, with the additional survey data and expert commentary, we sourced some quotes from experts across the industry. We ended up with a great group of contributors from Dropbox, Twilio, and more.

When all was said and done, we had 19,000 words worth of insights and 70+ data points.

Designing and Developing the Web Experience

Differentiating this campaign didn’t stop at the expert insights. We wanted to create an immersive web experience to pair with the report PDF.

The result was a fully custom web experience with a homepage, nine child pages for each article, and custom interactive form that follows the user in a non-intrusive banner. It was designed by an incredible lead designer, and built from the ground up by three developers. (It’s better seen than described, so I’ll leave you with this.)

state of marketing report hubspot

We were curious about what kind of conversion rates this custom web experience could drive.

To date, the homepage of the report is converting at around 35%. This metric is calculated as the ratio of views vs. submission and is measured in HubSpot’s own HubSpot portal.

We’re really excited about that conversion rate, but we’ve noticed that it doesn’t stay as high throughout each page of the web experience.

For example, on a sample article page, we noticed the conversion rate was about 5%. The leading theory right now is that people are downloading the offer when they land on the homepage, and then they explore the rest of the experience after downloading, so they aren’t converting on the offer pages.

Overall, though, we’re very proud of how the web experience turned out and think it’s a strong differentiator. After all, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content doesn’t look pretty on the page.

How We Promoted the Campaign

When it came time for promotion, we had to decide on three things: the story we wanted to tell, our creative promotional assets, and the channels we wanted to pursue.

1. The Story

The literal offer that we were marketing was a report. However, the emotion that we wanted to portray was confidence. This was the story we wanted to report and campaign to tell.

For some marketing managers, feeling confident about a strategy can prove difficult. Are other people in the industry doing this? How will I know if it will work?

Data can help ease those concerns, as can long-form articles from deep subject matter experts.

So, we wrote 20 headlines around that concept. This was a good exercise because, although most of them ended up unused, we found this process sharpened our writing “muscle”.

One of the early headlines we landed on was, “A report for marketers who use data to outperform their goals.”

2. Our Creative Assets

The design of this campaign was important to us. We wanted it to feel cohesive across the web experience, the PDF offer itself, and our promotional efforts.

So, under the guidance of our lead designer, we put together a detailed brief for a freelancer, and he came up with some beautiful stuff.

not another state of marketing report hubspot

Our learning here is that cohesive design across all campaign assets makes the campaign feel larger than life.

3. Promotional Channels

On the Global Campaigns Team here, we like to bucket our promotion into three categories:

  • Paid : What channels can we activate that we have to put direct dollars into?
  • Owned: What organic channels and established HubSpot audiences can we leverage?
  • Earned: What are some additional free promotion and placements (e.g. organic SEO) can we leverage?

For our paid channels, we chose to focus on Facebook Ads (historically the lowest CPL for us) and LinkedIn Ads (typically more expensive but more effective targeting for the audience we wanted to attract). For this channel, we built a more standard landing page to drive conversions.

For our owned channels, we activated our brand channels (social media, email, etc.), our solutions partner channels, our customer channels, our HubSpot Academy Channels, and Sales Channels (our BDRs used the report as a conversation starter). We also asked our authors to promote it on their personal social networks, and we gave them personalized assets to make that promotion remarkable.

For our earned channels, we focused heavily on the organic SEO value of our ungated articles, the promotion from our partners in the report (Litmus and Crayon), and media placement in marketing publications.

Tracking and Analyzing the Results

This campaign was quickly successful: We hit 100% of our net new lead goal in 16 days and 150% of the goal in just over one month.

As of April 21st, there are 15,800 backlinks to the report. We are ranking for over 350 organic keywords and secured the #1 result for the search term “state of marketing.”

The custom homepage is converting at over 30%, and the paid landing page is converting at 25%.

About 50% (48%) of the net new leads for the campaign came from paid social media. We are hoping to see that percentage decrease as organic traffic continues to gain traction.

There were a lot of factors to our success, but we’ve identified the following as the main ones:

  1. Spend time in the strategic planning process. It’s tempting to rush a campaign out the door, but a well thought out strategy goes a long way. Use qualitative, quantitative, and search data to inform the direction you choose.
  2. Think about how you can contribute to a conversation that’s already being had in a new way. There are a lot of State of Marketing Reports out there. We focused on providing that same value but took it a step further.
  3. Help your creative team by giving them strong creative guidelines. This makes the design more cohesive and powerful in the end.
  4. Identify at least three channels you can activate for promotion. You should prioritize the ones that will most help you with your goal. Since we were looking to attract a new audience, our paid channels made the most sense to invest in.
  5. Double down on the details of your content. If someone is willing to give their information for your content, you better make sure it delivers on value.

Best of luck with your future campaigns!