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7 Incredible Answers to “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?” — That Aren’t “Perfectionism”

So, you’ve finally got your foot in the door at your dream company. You’ve submitted the perfect resume and made a lasting impression during the phone screen. All there’s left to do now is to win over the hiring manager in the face-to-face interview.

As a well-informed candidate, you’re doing your research on the company and preparing your answers to the most important interview questions you can think of — the most notorious of them all being: “What is your greatest weakness?”

You don’t want to respond, “I tend to work too hard,” or “I am too much of a perfectionist.” That can easily come across as scripted and insincere at best and lacking in self-awareness at worst.

Alternatively, you don’t want to respond with weaknesses that will prevent you from succeeding in the role. For instance, if you’re applying to be a project manager, you don’t want to admit that you’re, “not very good with time management.”

Fortunately, there are ways to answer this question that will help you demonstrate your value as a candidate. Here, we’ve cultivated some incredible answers to the mainstay, “What is your greatest weakness” question — and don’t worry, these answers aren’t “perfectionism”.

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1. Choose a weakness that will not prevent you from succeeding in the role.

When an interviewer asks, “What is your greatest weakness?” they want to find out:

  • Whether you have a healthy level of self-awareness
  • Whether you can be open and honest, particularly about shortcomings
  • Whether you pursue self-improvement and growth opportunities to combat these issues, as opposed to letting these weaknesses hold you back

Ultimately, you’ll want to use this question to demonstrate how you’ve used a weakness as motivation to learn a new skill or grow professionally. Everyone has weaknesses — your interviewer doesn’t expect you to be perfect.

If you’re applying for a copywriting position with little necessity for math skills, you might admit, “I struggle with numbers, and don’t have much experience with data analytics. While math is not directly tied to my role as a writer, I believe it’s important to have a rudimentary understanding of Google Analytics to ensure my work is performing well. To tackle this weakness, I’ve been taking online courses in data analytics.”

An answer like this shows the hiring manager that you recognize your areas for growth and are able to act on them without being told to do so. This kind of self-starter attitude is a plus for virtually any team.

2. Be honest and choose a real weakness.

The answer “perfectionism” won’t cut it when talking about your biggest weakness is simply because it’s not a real weakness. Perfectionism can never be attained — it’s a fear-based pattern that leads to short-term rewards like getting the job done early and exceeding expectations. However, in the long-term, trying to attain perfectionism leads to burnout, low-quality work, and missed deadlines. Burnout is one of the biggest contributors to decreased productivity, turnover, and low employee engagement — all of which cost a company money, time, and talent.

Instead, choose a real weakness. Underneath the desire to do perfect work may lie a weakness of trust. Perhaps you don’t trust that you’ll be able to make mistakes on the team, so you strive to do everything perfectly. That’s a real weakness that you can definitely overcome.

3. Provide an example of how you’ve worked to improve upon your weakness or learn a new skill to combat the issue.

Hiring managers don’t expect you to overcome your weaknesses completely overnight. Everyone has areas they must constantly work on to keep them sharp. Think of it this way — if you’ve dedicated six months to working out, you won’t be able to stop one day and maintain your progress. It’s an ongoing process that you have to work at.

By providing an example of how you’re working to improve your area of weakness, you’ll give the interviewer a glimpse into a few positive attributes about your work style:

1. You know how to identify and mitigate issues that come up.

2. You’ve found a helpful solution to a problem that you and perhaps others on the team face, which means you can be an immediate resource to the team.

4. You demonstrate self-awareness and an ability to look to others to provide you with resources necessary for growth.

More often than not, you’re going to need to look outside of yourself to overcome a weakness. Whether you look to your supervisor, the HubSpot Blog, or a mentor for help, the simple act of asking for help demonstrates self-awareness and resourcefulness — two skills that are hard to teach, but valuable to learn. Tapping into your resources shows the interviewers that you can solve problems when the answer is not yet clear. That’s a character trait that has a place on any team.

Briefly share an example of a time where you asked someone for help in an area that you’ve identified as a weakness. This gives the hiring team a clear picture of how you’ll work with the team to balance out that weakness.

5.Don’t be arrogant and don’t underestimate yourself.

The most important thing you can do when responding to the question “What is your greatest weakness?” is exhibit confidence in your answer. (If confidence is your weakness, keep reading.) Even if you’re not the most confident person, I’m going to assume you’re at least honest with yourself. If you’ve identified an area of weakness and you’re sure about it, let that assurance shine through in your answer. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about something you’re genuinely not good at as long as you’re working to get better.

Before you start expressing a genuine weakness to your interviewer, get comfortable with the types of answers that make hiring managers want to work with you. Take a look at the following examples and find a few that fit your personality and work style. Then, practice reciting them aloud so they come naturally to you.

Here are seven examples of how you might answer “What is your greatest weakness?” and why they work.

Here are seven examples of how you might answer “What is your greatest weakness”, and why they work.

1. Patience

“I don’t have much patience when working with a team — I am incredibly self-sufficient, so it’s difficult when I need to rely on others to complete my work. That’s why I’ve pursued roles that require someone to work independently. However, I’ve also worked to improve this weakness by enrolling in team-building workshops. While I typically work independently, it’s nonetheless important I learn how to trust my coworkers and ask for outside help when necessary.”

This answer works because the weakness — the inability to be patient when working with a team — doesn’t hinder your ability to perform well in the role since it’s a job that doesn’t rely on teamwork to succeed. Additionally, you display an eagerness to develop strategies to combat your weakness, which is a critical skill in the workplace.

2. Organization

“I struggle with organization. While it hasn’t ever impacted my performance, I’ve noticed my messy desk and cluttered inbox nonetheless could interfere with my efficiency. Over time, I’ve learned to set aside time to organize my physical and digital space, and I’ve seen it improve my efficiency levels throughout the week.”

Plenty of people have messy desks. This answer works because it’s a relatable and fixable weakness. You note that disorganization doesn’t interfere with your ability to do your job, which is critical, but you also acknowledge it might make you less efficient. To ensure you’re performing at 100%, you mention personal steps you’ve taken to improve your organization skills for the sake of self-improvement alone, which suggests a level of maturity and self-awareness.

3. Delegation

“I’m incredibly self-motivated, and I sometimes find it difficult to delegate responsibility when I feel I can finish the task well myself. However, when I became manager in my last role, it became critical I learn to delegate tasks. To maintain a sense of control when delegating tasks, I implemented a project management system to oversee the progress of a project. This system enabled me to improve my ability to delegate efficiently.”

This answer allows you to demonstrate an ability to pursue a new skill when a role calls for it and suggests you’re capable of flexibility, which is critical for long-term growth. Additionally, you are able to showcase a level of initiative and leadership when you mention the successful implementation of a new process that enabled you to succeed in your past role, despite your weakness.

4. Timidity

“Oftentimes, I can be timid when providing constructive feedback to coworkers or managers, out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings. However, in my last role, my coworker asked me to edit some of his pieces and provide feedback for areas of improvement. Through my experience with him, I realized feedback can be both helpful and kind when delivered the right way. Since then I’ve become better at offering feedback, and I’ve realized that my empathy can be used to my advantage to provide thoughtful, productive feedback.”

This answer works because you’ve explained how you were able to turn a weakness into a strength through real-world experience. Typically, timidity can be seen as a flaw in the workplace, particularly if a role requires someone to provide feedback to others. In this case, you’re able to demonstrate how timidity can be used as a strength, through thoughtful reflection and practice.

5. Candidness

“My blunt, straightforward nature has allowed me to succeed over the years as a team manager, because I’m able to get things done efficiently, and people often appreciate my honesty. However, I’ve recognized my bluntness doesn’t always serve my employees well when I’m delivering feedback. To combat this, I’ve worked to develop empathy and deeper relationships with those I manage. Additionally, I took an online leadership management course, and worked with the professor to develop my ability to deliver feedback.”

Oftentimes, facets of our personalities can help us in certain areas of our work, while hindering us in others. That’s natural. However, you must demonstrate an ability to recognize when your personality interferes with the functions of your role, and how you can solve for that.

In this example, you first explain how your blunt nature allows you to be successful in certain situations. Then, you mention that you understand your bluntness can be seen as a lack of empathy and provide examples of how you’ve attempted to solve this issue. Ultimately, your awareness of how you might be perceived by others shows a level of emotional intelligence, which is a critical asset for a team leader.

6. Public Speaking

“Public speaking makes me nervous. While I don’t need to do much public speaking in my role as a web designer, I still feel that it’s an important skill — especially when I want to offer my opinion during a meeting. To combat this, I spoke with my manager and she recommended I speak at each team meeting for a few minutes about our project timeline, deadlines, and goals when developing a website for a client. This practice has enabled me to relax and see public speaking as an opportunity to help my team members do their jobs effectively.”

In this example, you mention a skill that isn’t applicable to the role, but one which you nonetheless have been working to improve. This shows your desire to meet more business needs than necessary in your current role, which is admirable. Additionally, it’s impressive if you can show you’re willing to reach out to your manager with areas in which you want to improve, instead of waiting for your manager to suggest those areas of improvement to you — it demonstrates a level of ambition and professional maturity.

7. Data Analysis

“I’m not great at analyzing data or numbers. However, I recognize this flaw can prevent me from understanding how my content is performing online. In my last role, I set up monthly meetings with the SEO manager to discuss analytics and how our posts were performing. Additionally, I received my Google Analytics certificate, and I make it a point to analyze data related to our blog regularly. I’ve become much more comfortable with data through these efforts.”

In this example, you’re able to show your desire to go above and beyond a job description and actively seek out skills that could be helpful to the success of your company as a whole. This type of company-first mentality shows the interviewer you’re dedicated to making yourself a valuable asset, and try your best to understand the needs of the whole department, rather than just your role.

There’s Strength In Every Weakness

Regardless of whether you’re bad with numbers or you tend not to speak up in group settings, there’s a strength behind every weakness. The strength is in how you work to overcome it. Leaning on your teammates who excel in those areas is a great way to show that you’ll work well on the team and that you know how to use your resources to solve problems. Taking professional development courses shows that you’re willing to work toward improvement. No matter which of these answers you share with the hiring team, they’ll be more than happy to help you grow and exceed the expectations of the role.

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

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Facebook Advertising Myths to Leave Behind in 2021

Every day, there’s a new article on Facebook Ads. Case in point, this one right here.

Given how powerful the advertising platform is, there are tons of recommendations out there aiming to steer you in the right direction for your next campaign.

Download Now: Free Facebook Advertising Checklist

However, not all recommendations are worth implementing.

Let’s revisit some of the most common Facebook Ads assumptions out there and get to the truth. It won’t be as dramatic as an episode of The Maury Show, but it will do.

Myth 1. Facebook Ads don’t work for B2B brands.

Truth: Facebook is a great platform for B2B advertising.

When it comes to advertising to businesses, the first place people think of is LinkedIn, a network known for fostering professional relationships. Facebook has always been seen as a strictly direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising platform.

Facebook wasn’t designed to be a business networking app, said Rex Gelb, paid ads director at HubSpot, and thus, wasn’t a top consideration for B2B lead generation. He argues it should be.

“To some extent, people are always open to business-related content, even if they’re just mindlessly scrolling through their Facebook and Instagram feeds after a long day at the office,” said Gelb. “If you work in B2B, don’t hesitate to give Facebook a try – you might be surprised by the results.”

Based on HubSpot’s 2020 Not Another Marketing Report, brands see the most return on investment (ROI) on Facebook compared to other social media platforms.

SaaS companies like Honeybook say Facebook is their largest acquisition channel, according to the social network. And they’re not the only B2B company that relies on Facebook Ads to generate leads.

“We find it to be successful for B2B companies like ourselves to promote content and signups,” said Nicole Ondracek, paid ads marketing manager at HubSpot.

If you want to ensure you reach the right audience, Facebook Ads’ lookalike audience feature allows you to target users based on their job title, industry, and employer – similar to LinkedIn.

Myth 2. You need a lot of money to get started.

Truth: You only need $1 a day to compete with the big brands.

While some advertising channels require a decent budget to compete, brands can reach Facebook users for as little as $1 a day.

“There’s no big upfront commitment required and no large minimums,” said Gelb. “You’re free to take things as slowly as you’d like and only scale when it makes sense to do so.”

He adds that while one dollar will limit the ad inventory you have access to, you’ll be on an even playing field with everyone else.

Ondracek echoes this sentiment.

“While it’s nice to have a large budget to bring in enough conversions and learnings to optimize your campaigns,” she said, “sometimes all you need is a small daily budget to start bringing in leads and customers.”

On Facebook Ads, a little can go a long way.

Myth 3. You should create small, targeted audiences.

Truth: Build your target audience but leave some wiggle room.

Facebook Ads’ targeting capabilities are impressive. You combine that with the idea that the more targeted your campaign, the better the results, and you run the risk of getting too narrow.

“It’s all about testing,” said Ondracek. “In some cases where we’ve tested large audiences (20M+), we’ve seen better success than narrowed audiences [and] going after a specific list of contacts.”

Creating exclusions during your audience creation process makes sense most of the time. For instance, excluding users located outside of a specific region. However, when your targeting gets too narrow, you can miss out on opportunities to reach audiences who would convert on your ad.

“Within your target audience, don’t restrict Facebook too much by layering on dozens of filters such as age, device, placement, and gender,” said Gelb. “Facebook’s ad serving algorithm was designed to find the most qualified audience at the cheapest cost.”

“If you give Facebook the freedom to go find those people,” he adds, “in many cases, you’ll end up with more scale and at a cheaper cost.”

Essentially, let the algorithm do its job. Define the key characteristics of your target audience and leave some room for your ad to reach those you may not have considered.

Myth 4. You should retarget all of your website visitors.

Truth: Not everyone should be retargeted.

The Facebook pixel allows you to track user behavior on your website and retarget those same users on Facebook to guide them down the funnel. However, not every person who visits your website should be retargeted on Facebook Ads.

You should still segment which website visitors to focus on, as not everyone who visits your site is ready for retargeting.

For instance, let’s say someone visits your “About Us” page. There are many reasons for this: They could be interested in your products, but they could also be looking for a new role. With that in mind, retargeting users based on any action taken on your website may not be valuable or cost-effective.

Instead, focus on visitors who exhibit high-intent behaviors and will be more likely to convert. For instance, visitors who add products to their shopping carts, visit your pricing page or read your testimonials.

Being selective will not only help you manage your budget better (especially if you have a small one) but it can also help you yield better results.

Ondracek highlights that sometimes, you should re-evaluate if retargeting is even the right strategy.

“When retargeting works, it’s great,” she said, “but we’ve found, in some cases, that retargeting site visitors is actually more expensive than prospecting.”

It’s all about finding what works for your brand. Just because Facebook is known for retargeting, doesn’t mean that’s the strategy that will work for your company every time.

Myth 5. Boosting a post will yield the same results as a campaign.

Truth: Boosting may not always align with your goals.

When you boost a post on Facebook, it’s a quick and easy way to expand your reach and gain some quick exposure. However, boosting a post won’t necessarily convert users in the same way a campaign would.

Why? Well, if your post isn’t already designed to drive a particular action and you boost it, you may gain more impressions but no conversions.

Depending on your goals, you may yield better results for less by creating an ad campaign. With the manual bidding feature, you can monitor how much you spend. You can also optimize your campaign based on your conversion goal.

So, while boosting a post may seem like the best solution for a brand with limited Facebook Ads experience and a small budget, it may be quite the opposite.

If you are going to use that strategy, be sure to consider the following:

  • Does this post have a clear call-to-action (CTA)?
  • Will boosting this post help you reach your goal?
  • Could this work better as part of a larger campaign?

Answering these questions will help you determine when to boost and when to go in another direction.

The biggest takeaway here is that there aren’t hard-and-fast rules when it comes to Facebook Ads. Some strategies may work for some brands and not for others. The only surefire way to figure out what works is by experimenting with various strategies.

Ever wonder what’s fact or fiction when it comes to Facebook Ads? In this article, we debunk some myths about the social network’s advertising platform.

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Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Podcast in 2021

I’ve become a morning walking companion to people I may never meet.

How is this possible? They take me along in their earbuds as they stream my podcast, Build a Better Agency

It’s a wonderful sign of things to come for marketers willing to venture into the podcasting universe.

Once a fringe platform, podcasts are now surprisingly mainstream. According to Nielsen, six out of 10 people understand what they are, and 112 million Americans — 40 percent of the nation’s population — have listened to at least one. Though podcast listeners lean male, it isn’t by much: 56 percent are men, while 44 percent are women.➝ Free Guide: How to Start a Podcast

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Marketing professionals must not only be aware of these statistics, but they must also leverage them in their own campaigns. When 67 million men and women are monthly podcast consumers, it’s a niche that deserves serious contemplation. Add to that fact the amazing statistic that 63 percent of podcast listeners made a purchase based on something the host recommended, and you have yourself a veritable gold mine.

Of course, you have to crawl, then walk, then break into a steady trot to glean the benefits.

A no-nonsense primer from a podcast experimenter.

In my case, I’d written blog posts, conducted webinars, and published articles in places like Forbes and Fast Company for some time. These content producers worked, but I felt a different portal would help connect with more agencies and leaders in an accessible, easy to find, on-demand format.

As a longtime podcast listener myself, I recognized that the podcasting platform was the next logical step for me — especially if I wanted to reach a narrow audience of mid-sized agency owners and leaders as an authority in my field for more than 23 years. And as a long-time professional, I hired Predictive ROI, an Agency Management Institute agency, to produce the podcast so I wouldn’t make as many rookie technical mistakes.

Still, opening yourself up to podcasting is a little like breaking the lid on Pandora’s box. Until you do it, you have no idea what to expect. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t head off issues before you go live.

Expect a certain amount of learning as you go, but be ready to explore the technology before fully launching your podcast. You wouldn’t open a bakery with your very first pie, so don’t hit “publish” until you get the lay of the land and make a plan. (Being a podcast guest prior to launching your own is a smart idea, too.)

Podcasting in the beginner’s circle.

Even if you’ve never been in front of a mic before, you can map out the first phase of a solid podcast schedule. From there, you’ll be able to branch out.

1. Create a checklist to keep yourself on task.

I asked myself tons of questions repeatedly before committing to podcasting. They included everything from the niche audience I wanted to reach to whether being the host of a podcast was a short-term fad or a long-term interest. I also considered what podcast style I preferred to offer the public, including a show prep and publishing schedule.

Obviously, your checklist will be individualized, but be sure it includes a section on technical elements. Setting up audio, iTunes, accounts, and interviews can be tricky if you haven’t done your homework.

2. Set up your basic show format.

Every interviewer prefers to run his or her podcast in a particular way. Many podcasters ask guests the same questions, but as a listener, I find that gets stale in a hurry. Sure, it’s less prep work, but it makes the host look lazy. I preferred interviewing subject matter experts but wanted to occasionally keep the door open to produce a solocast. My compromise was a 4–1 ratio of interviews to solocasts.

I was reasonably confident that I could have a few questions on hand and then launch into a conversation on the fly from there. A big risk? Maybe. But I believed I could pull off a 45-minute to 60-minute conversation without a safety net.

3. Leverage the heck out of your network.

The first 10 episodes set the tone for any podcast launch, so make sure you line up high-profile, interesting, engaging guests who won’t be turned off if you have very few — or no — listeners. My friends came through in a big way for me, offering me rock stars from day one. Not only did they help publicize the podcast, but they also generously allowed me to ride on their social media coattails.

4. Track your downloads.

Rob Walch was one of my recent podcast guests who offered an important consideration for any podcasters: You have to stay on top of your downloads. Rob’s suggestion is to hit at least 500 downloads an episode to feel sure you’ve broken the cycle of only having people in your inner circle tune in.

What’s a reasonable download number for your, quote, “success”? Only you can determine this, but it helps to keep a steady eye on the numbers. Starting to see a downward trend in listenership? Go back to square one and ask those tough questions again so you can pivot before your podcast loses traction.

5. Produce great content consistently.

Does everyone have a bad episode once in a while? Sure. And if you’ve planned in advance and have great content in the bag, you can simply not release it in lieu of a better one. Before you release your podcasts publicly, try to have several on hand. That way, you get the relief of a buffer zone.

Don’t try to start too quickly. You can always ramp up your delivery later. With my travel schedule that sees me on no fewer than 200 planes a year, I decided to get 10 episodes in before I proved to myself I could sustain the effort. August and September 2015 were a flurry of set-up and recordings, and we opened our podcast doors — virtually — in October 2015. Since then, we’ve published a new episode weekly without fail.

6. Prepare to become a podcast promoter.

Your target personas won’t find your podcast without a little help, so promote it like your life depends on it. I utilized our company’s email list, my personal social channels, and myriad other platforms. In addition, I requested that each guest promote his or her episode.

We were fortunate to get on iTunes New and Noteworthy, landing us in the top five of several of its subject-specific lists during our first month.

7. Learn how to monetize your podcast.

Finally, it’s important to figure out how to earn an income based on your podcasting. One way is to promote your book, workshop, or online course, creating thought leadership at the same time.

If you have a narrow audience lacking depth or width and you just can’t sell advertisements or sponsorships, you can still make numbers work in your favor.

Sound like hard work? It is, but it’s totally worth it if you strategize. Two years after unveiling my first episode, we have 110 five-star reviews, and episodes are downloaded in more than 125 countries. I’m pleased to say we’ve also earned a presenting sponsorship from HubSpot. Podcasting hasn’t just been a feeder for the business, but a phenomenal marketing opportunity as well.

Have you thought about taking the podcasting plunge? The water’s a bit choppy at first, but there’s plenty of room for another swimmer!

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Arise RevOps, the New Orchestrators of Customer Experience

I care about customers. Whether they’re your customers, my customers, or my customers’ customers, I want every one of them to have a good experience every time they pick up the phone to call a business, open a marketing email, or visit a website.

It’s what gets me going every morning. That’s why I was thrilled in 2019 when I had the opportunity to launch HubSpot’s first-ever ‘voice of the customer’ team.

I assembled a group of passionate people, each more dedicated than the last to improving customer experience. We met weekly, talked about our customers, forensically analyzed feedback, and dug deep into the weeds to see where we could root out friction.

And then one day it hit us. The answers to most of our questions didn’t lie in more cross-functional meetings, increased headcount, or longer hours for support staff. The answers to our questions lay in operations.

Operations teams carry the responsibility for making sure that, well, everything works. If a marketer is having trouble segmenting a contact list, they reach out to operations. If a salesperson’s automated emails are misfiring, operations gets tagged in. If a service professional can’t access a customer’s communication history, it’s operations to the rescue again.

They’re the people who set every customer-facing team up for success. As such, they are the orchestrators of the customer experience. And yet, most companies view operations as a reactive function whose sole purpose is to frantically find fixes to issues as they arise.

It’s time for us as an industry to re-imagine operations and transform these teams from reactive fire-fighters into proactive friction-fighters. How can we do this? With revenue operations (RevOps).

It’s my firm belief that operations teams can only fulfill their potential when they work together under a unified RevOps strategy and are equipped with the right tools to execute that strategy.

Today, HubSpot is spearheading the onrushing RevOps revolution with the launch of Operations Hub — a new product specifically designed to empower operations teams to play an influential role in helping their companies delight customers at scale.

Because when a company scales, friction inevitably emerges, and customer experience is often the first thing to suffer.

Three Reasons Why Customer Experience Often Suffers When a Company Scales

There are few companies out there that impress me so much, I feel compelled to tweet about my experience, tell my friends, or write a positive review. These days, customers like me expect their interactions with every company to be quick, convenient, and contextual.

When a company scales and begins to achieve exponential growth, the challenge of keeping pace with customer expectations grows exponentially, too. There are three key reasons why:

1. More customers to support.

When a company is in startup mode, it will usually keep up with the growth of its customer base by increasing investments in staff. When customer growth starts to outpace the company’s ability to maintain a high standard of customer experience, it will likely raise capital and hire new employees to support the expanding demand. This works … for a while.

When that company is ready to scale – that is, to grow its business faster than its investments – it needs to support a growing customer base without simply hiring more employees and without letting the quality of the customer experience drop. To do this, it has to reinvent its approach to delighting customers or risk losing the trust of its user base – and its market share.

2. More tools to manage.

As a company grows, it will inevitably encounter new challenges. And in a world of over 8,000 martech solutions, there is no shortage of tools out there that could be brought in to help solve a problem quickly. So, it’s common for different teams to adopt different tools to help them solve different problems.

Over time, this approach results in a brutally bloated tech stack that takes so much time and energy to manage, there’s little left to dedicate to customers. What’s more, when tech stacks are unnecessarily complex, it becomes increasingly difficult for customer-facing teams to access reliable data, making it nearly impossible to deliver the type of contextual experience customers expect.

3. More touchpoints to maintain.

When a company is getting off the ground, it will tend to focus on a small number of high-impact channels. For example, its early social media marketing strategy may focus exclusively on, say, Facebook and Twitter, and it might only take customer queries over the phone.

As that company seeks to scale, however, it will add new channels to its marketing mix and offer its customers more ways to get in touch. Pretty soon, it’ll find itself interacting with its audience not only on Facebook, Twitter, and over the phone, but on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and via 24/7 web chat, too.

To manage this multitude of touchpoints, that company will need a new strategy to ensure it maintains the quality of experience it offered to customers when there were only a few channels in play.

These three issues are a by-product of scale. They are challenges a company wants to have … and solve. Yet, most businesses fall short. They naturally fall back on the methods that have helped them reach this critical moment in their journey — many continue to frantically hire staff long after it’s sustainable to do so, some rush to tack more tools onto their tech stacks without the infrastructure to make them all work together, and others simply leave certain touchpoints unattended, leaving customers unimpressed.

Operations professionals are uniquely positioned to help a company solve challenges like these. But historically, companies across our industry have failed to recognize the potential of their operations teams, leaving them stuck in silos and asking them to solve issues without the right tools or team structure to do so effectively.

Moving From Function-Out To Customer-In

Operations professionals are rarely among the first hires a company makes. They tend to be brought in only when systems start to creak and the friction between teams becomes unbearable. A company’s marketing leader might hire an operations professional onto their team to help improve its lead scoring system, while its head of sales brings in their own operations hire to work on reporting.

Before long, there are multiple operations teams working in different departmental silos, often out of different operating systems. In this setup, even if each operations team does an exceptionally good job at fighting friction within their department, friction can still be rife between their departments.

For example, the sales team might be having difficulty accessing and understanding the marketing team’s data, hurting their ability to personalize their outreach based on a prospect’s recent engagement.

With no team accountable for overseeing this critical cross-departmental touchpoint, prospects will continue to receive impersonal emails, the marketing team will continue to receive exasperated messages from their sales colleagues, and the sales team will continue to struggle to win over prospects.

I call this a “function-out” perspective, where each customer-facing team is only focused on the portion of the customer experience they’re directly responsible for, and each operations professional is tasked with supporting their designated function.

What companies need instead is a “customer-in” perspective, where all teams work in unison, informed by a holistic view of the customer, to deliver a unified experience. Operations professionals have a critical role to play in driving this shift in perspective. But to be successful, they too need to be unified.

How RevOps Helps Companies Scale Customer Experience

One of the most powerful things a company can do to scale its customer experience is to unify its functional operations professionals under one centralized revenue operations (RevOps) strategy.

When operations teams are unified, they are not serving their separate teams’ goals, they are serving the customer. They work with the same data, which gives them a single source of truth on what’s really going on with customers at a holistic level.

They collaborate on cross-functional processes that allow them to bridge the gaps between teams where friction frequently festers. And perhaps most importantly, they work together to proactively identify issues before they have a chance to hurt the customer experience.

Companies that don’t yet have a large number of operations professionals among their ranks don’t have to wait until they do to start adopting a “customer-in” perspective. If they haven’t hired an operations professional yet, they should consider bringing one in as a priority and giving them a meaningful say in how all customer-facing teams work together, not just one.

They should also examine the ways their internal teams are set up within their current operating model, assess whether the systems they’re using are contributing to silos, and begin to instill a culture of alignment around the customer.

After all, RevOps is not just the name of a team, it’s a philosophy by which to run a company — one that thrives when operations teams are equipped with the right tools.

Introducing Operations Hub

Today with the launch of Operations Hub, we are giving operations teams a suite of tools that allow them to assume their rightful place at the forefront of the customer experience and empower them to guide their companies through the customer experience challenges that come with scale.

With Operations Hub, teams can sync data across their business apps bi-directionally and in real-time, allowing them to manage a tech stack with ease, no matter how complex it is.

They can roll out workflows that automatically keep their database clean and up to date, helping them to maintain a reliable view of the customer, no matter how many touchpoints they manage. And they can design sophisticated custom automation actions to deliver a deeply personalized and contextual experience to customers, no matter how large their customer base grows.

Together, these tools free up operations teams to conduct bold ambitious experiments, test big innovative ideas, and launch ground-breaking new strategies, all in the name of delivering an exceptional customer experience. For too long our industry has put a limit on the potential of operations professionals. That changes today.

Back in 2019, I had the opportunity to launch HubSpot’s ‘voice of the customer’ team. That experience opened my eyes to the vital role operations teams have to play in scaling customer experience.

At the beginning of 2021, I had the opportunity to launch another team at HubSpot: the revenue operations team. With Operations Hub at our fingertips and our operations professionals unified as one, we are on a mission to elevate the role of operations teams not only at our company, but across the entire industry.

If you work in operations like me, you have a right to feel excited. Where you were once reactive, you can now be proactive. Where you were once siloed, you can now be in sync with your operations teammates. And where you were once an afterthought of the customer-facing teams you support, you can now be the orchestrator of your company’s customer experience strategy.

4 Content Types That Get Non-Organic Traffic, According to Content Strategists

Traffic is a low-impact word for most people but a high-impact word for marketers. Traffic can ultimately dictate success, whether it’s the number of leads that come to your website, visit your social channels, or watch your videos.

There are two different types of traffic you can have, organic and non-organic, that can come from all over: email, social media, organic searches, backlinks — the list goes on.

Non-organic traffic can be a bit harder to come by, which is why, when creating non-organic content, you want to ensure that it will drive results. However, it’s easier said than done when it comes to figuring out what works for your business. In this post, hear from HubSpot content strategists and marketers about the types of content that bring in the most non-organic traffic as inspiration for creating your own.

Free Resource: Content Marketing Planning Template

4 Content Types That Get Non-Organic Traffic, According to Content Strategists

Data-Driven Content

Pam Bump, Audience Growth Marketing Manager & Staff Writer for the HubSpot Blogs, says that she often sees solid non-organic traffic from email and social media to blog posts that feature statistics or recent industry figures. Bump says, “People love to share, link to, or read up on new data that impacts their career, industry, or lives in some way.

The data-driven content you share can be related to overall industry trends, stat roundup posts (like this one), and data comparison pieces, like this one about Millenials vs. Gen Z, written by Bump herself.

If you have the means, it’s worth considering running internal experiments and publishing your own original data. This can help you drive referrals and backlinks from other websites as non-organic leads and build your domain authority. When HubSpot does this, Bump says, “A credible website might include our data and say ‘according to Hubspot,’ and link to our original data post because it simply has information readers can’t get anywhere else.”

Content Featuring Quotes and Interviews

In the same vein as data-driven content, people want to learn something from what you have to offer, especially if they’re learning it from experienced industry leaders and professionals.

Bump gives a piece titled Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021, According to 21 Experts, as an example. It was written by MOZ CMO Christina Mautz, and she included quotes from reputable industry leaders. The piece was shared on HubSpot social channels and emails and has since received a significant amount of views from non-organic sources in just three months.

When you create content like this, the industry leaders you feature in the piece may share the posts with their audiences, helping you gain brand awareness and traffic from additional sources. Francesca McCaffrey, Tech Content Strategies, notes that leadership-type content brings in significant non-organic traffic for the HubSpot Product Blog, especially when shared on social media. She says, “Leadership thought pieces are also a significant source of non-organic traffic for us, as they tend to inspire lots of commentary and clicks on networking sites like LinkedIn.”

Emerging Trends

Making an effort to create content about emerging industry-related trends can do wonders in terms of attracting email, social media, and referral traffic.

Bump wrote a post about Clubhouse, a relatively new social platform that didn’t have high MSV search terms affiliated with it yet. Bump added headlines to the content that would gain traction when the app got bigger, like “What Is Clubhouse?” Since publication, the post has earned an impressive amount of non-organic views and, as expected, has picked up organic traffic as the app grows in popularity.

Covering emerging trends also helps you stay on top of new keywords that aren’t as competitive. If you’re one of the only sources creating content for the keywords, search engines will recognize you as a source of authority when the trend becomes more popular.

Technical Guides and How-Tos

McCaffrey says that technical guides and how-to type content from the Product Blog submitted to reputable industry sites perform especially well with non-organic traffic.

She gives this piece as an example that was submitted to Hacker News, a reputable cybersecurity publication. McCaffrey says, “Making it to the first or second page of a site like Hacker News can really boost non-organic traffic, and translate into organic traffic over time. The piece made it to the front page, driving thousands of viewers to that post in a day.”

Like pieces containing quotes and interviews, this type of content performs well because people can learn from it; they can take away actionable skills to apply to their own lives.

All in all, the content you choose to create should directly relate to your business, as you’ll find the most success if you’re creating content your audience is already looking for.

However, it’s worth considering purposely creating content that you know has the potential to bring in a significant amount of non-organic traffic. Leverage these tips from expert HubSpot content strategists, and begin creating content that drives traffic.

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The Optimal Instagram Story Dimensions [+ Tips for Best Quality]

New social media sites continue to emerge, new features are added, and algorithms are always being updated, making it tough to keep up with social media best practices.

However, social media is here to stay. According to Instagram, there are more than one billion active users every month and more than 500 million active Stories every day. Even more, 90% of accounts follow a business on Instagram, making this platform a prime choice for all types of businesses.

Instagram Stories are a popular trend that isn’t going away. Pamela Bump, Audience Growth Writer at HubSpot, says, “Instagram Stories serves as an outlet for brands to creatively show their products, services, or happy customers in action. Branded Instagram Stories also enable audiences to learn more about topics related to your brand’s industry. Helpful and valuable content might also allow prospective buyers to trust your brand more.”

Access Now: 22 Free Business Instagram Templates

With this knowledge, you want your marketing team ready to develop a strategy for your Instagram Stories. To create this strategy, your team should decide what kind of images or videos they want to post.

How do you plan on taking those images? With phones or professional cameras?

Below, you’ll learn the Instagram Story dimensions and why they’re important to your Instagram marketing strategy.

Instagram Story dimensions (1080 pixels by 1920 pixels)

If you shoot an Instagram Story video using your phone, the dimensions will likely be 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels, so you don’t have to resize it. If you’re using another camera or a custom setup, however, you’ll have to use a video editing app to make sure your video has the correct dimensions.

While this may seem like a lot of work, it’s exceedingly important for user experience and for ensuring maximum engagement on your Story.

Why are Instagram Story dimensions important?

Instagram has provided these dimensions and sizes to make sure that your Story is uploaded with as much quality as possible. These dimensions are also ideal for most mobile devices, guaranteeing that your video, image, or gif shows up properly across different operating systems and screen resolutions.

Using Instagram Story dimensions also:

  • Helps your brand look more professional
  • Ensures that the content looks high-quality
  • Prevents unnecessary pixelation

If you don’t adhere to these dimensions, your images or videos will be cut off, and the content that you wanted to share won’t show up as intended. That’s why it’s best to pre-size your images and videos using an Instagram photo editing app.

Speaking of, let’s go over the ideal Instagram Story image size. Spoiler alert: it’s the same as the Instagram Story video dimensions, which makes it easy to remember.

Whether you upload a video, image, or a mixture of both to your Story, it’s critical to keep your content in a “safe zone” where it won’t be cut off or hidden.

The Instagram Story Size Safe Zone

The “safe zone” refers to the area in your Instagram Story where the content isn’t obstructed or at risk of getting cut off.

Instagram will automatically show blue lines if you try to move content out of the safe zone, especially if you’re adding stickers or GIFs. When I tried to move the timestamp to the edge of the screen, Instagram didn’t let me go toward the edge or let me cover my profile picture up top.

Instagram Story margin guides

Instagram will also provide guides when you’re placing elements on your Story, allowing you to center them perfectly.

Instagram Story centering guidesOn personal Instagram Stories, it’s common to post videos using the front camera of your cell phone. The frame can be tilted, and your face can be cut off; this is all good and well.

On an Instagram business account, however, you’ll want to make sure that all videos are shot professionally and that the item that you want to promote takes center stage on the screen. Most importantly, if you’re planning to add polls or stickers, leave enough space in the frame so you can place this content without obstructing something else.

Below, we’ll go over some additional tips for sizing your Instagram Story.

Instagram Story Size Tips

1. Ensure your content is high-quality before you upload.

Instagram will compress images during the upload process, so an already grainy or pixelated image will only get worse once it gets to the platform.

Check that your images are at least 72 ppi resolution before you add them to Instagram.

2. Upload the right size, shape, and aspect ratio.

Instagram is strict about adhering to its dimensions to ensure quality photos and videos. When you upload a vertical image or video from your phone, you most likely won’t have to think about these dimensions because Instagram will automatically format them.

However, if you have horizontal photos that don’t fit the dimensions, Instagram will crop your photos, zoom in on content, or zoom out (making your image look small and placing it on a background). This typically results in lower-quality images and videos. So, make sure you stick to the 9:16 aspect ratio.

Instagram Story aspect ratio (9:16)

3. Use photo editing apps.

Photo editing apps can help you control the quality of your Stories and ensure you’re always using the right dimensions. To edit your photos for Instagram, you can use the following tools:

Canva

This is the perfect option for creating images for your Instagram Stories. To get started, Canva has templates that are designed with the Instagram dimensions in mind. Canva offers free and paid plans.

Lumen5

This software makes it easy to produce videos for Instagram Stories. Once you get started creating a video, you can choose the right dimensions on the platform. Lumen5 offers both free and paid plans.

Easil

Easil has templates for Instagram Stories to help you create engaging content. They have templates for single images, and multi-card Stories as well. Easil offers free and paid versions.

Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark makes it easy to create images and video graphics for Instagram Stories. You can build your own Stories with their typography and imagery options. Adobe Spark has free and paid plans available.

Embed Social

Embed Social is a different kind of tool for Instagram Stories — with Embed Stories, you can make your Stories Shoppable by adding CTAs and creating embeddable code that you can add to your website. Embed Social offers free and paid plans.

With these tools, you can input the specifications, upload images and videos, and complete the editing process. These work well if you have higher-quality images taken with a professional camera or want to add graphics or text to your images or videos.

4. Upload vertical content.

While Instagram posts are more flexible in orientation and dimensions, Instagram Stories work best in a vertical format. Make sure your photos and videos are vertical before posting. If the content doesn’t lend itself to a vertical orientation, consider publishing it as a normal post instead.

5. Stay under 30 MB in file size.

Be mindful of your file size; Instagram will only accept up to 30 megabytes. This should give you plenty of wiggle room to upload high-quality photos and videos.

If the quality doesn’t look right, it’s time to troubleshoot.

How do I fix the quality of my Instagram Stories?

There might be instances in which your Stories don’t upload with the quality that you’d like. Let’s go over a few questions you might have about quality, plus some troubleshooting tips.

Why are my Instagram Stories blurry? Why does the picture quality change on my Instagram Story?

Your Instagram Story could be blurry for two reasons:

  1. Instagram compressed the video or image to a degree that makes it look blurry.
  2. The dimensions or aspect ratio is off.

To fix this, you’ll want to double-check the quality of the image or video you uploaded. What’s its file size? Is it at least 72 ppi? If the file size is too small or the ppi is too low, then Instagram’s compression process worsened it further. Consider creating a higher-quality version so that, when Instagram compresses it, it doesn’t look as pixelated.

Next, double-check the dimensions. To ensure the highest quality possible, try to use the full 1080 x 1920 size.

If those two check out and your Story is still blurry, follow the following tips to isolate the problem.

1. Check if the quality is better on other devices.

If your internet connection is poor, Instagram Stories will appear lower quality than they would on a faster connection.

Instagram does this to save resources for user experience as you interact with other areas of the site. Consider asking someone you know if the quality is low on their end as well. They — and your audience — may be viewing your Stories with no issues.

2. Turn off Data Saver.

Data Saver is a feature that prevents videos from loading in advance, which helps reduce your data usage.

If your connection is fine but you’re still having issues with quality, this feature may be lowering the quality of your feed on your end.

3. Test photos from different cameras.

As a last resort, test whether there’s a difference in quality between your phone’s integrated camera versus the Instagram camera. The photos you take with your phone’s camera versus the in-app camera (or vice versa) may weather Instagram’s compression settings better.

Instagram Story Sizes are Essential for an Instagram Strategy

All marketers should use Instagram Stories. While posting regularly on your feed is a great tactic, adding Stories into your strategy will result in a better ROI from your time and resources spent on the platform. Instagram Stories can improve your discoverability, increase brand reputation and awareness, and help you and your business grow better.

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

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How Brands Creatively Hosted Virtual Offsite Meetings

As the world continues to move in a remote-first direction, it’s important to consider how to make your company’s in-person events remote-friendly.

Even if you don’t always do remote events, the remote option is great for anytime your team is spread around the world.

But, a virtual offsite meeting? Sounds oxymoronic. How can you have an offsite, that doesn’t feel like work, virtually?

In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into how these brands thought about virtual offsites in a creative way. And didn’t just ask everyone to be on Zoom for 8 hours.

Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

1. Loom VR Virtual Offsite

At the end of 2020, Loom decided to host a virtual offsite. What made this different than attending an 8-hour Zoom meeting?

Well, first, the company sent VR headsets to their team to allow employees to feel like they were leaving their homes for a large company meeting they used to travel for.

According to Loom, “with virtual reality, we were able to send everyone an Oculus Quest 2 headset to bring the virtual world to them. Plus, we were able to limit Zoom content to only two hours per day to keep the content engaging.”

Once they got started with virtual reality, they had to find virtual reality apps to host their events. But they also included their employees in the planning process. The company sent a Google Form to employees to share any ideas for activities and sessions they could do during the virtual offsite.

Loom worked with a partner to create a virtual reality island where team members could go for watercooler conversations, ice breakers, and happy hour.

Interestingly, the virtual reality component was not mandatory. Any events that were VR exclusives were optional. And the VR island they created was also accessible via desktop, so everyone could participate.

It’s important to remember that when you’re creating a virtual offsite experience, you want everyone to be able to show up. Hopefully, the tools you use will be available on several devices or you can make those events not mandatory if it takes a special device.

The team also created unstructured time during their day so that people working from home could still do their normal work and activities.

2. First Round Review Interactive Virtual Offsite

Another company thinking about virtual offsites creatively is First Round Review.

First Round Review held a virtual offsite and had activities including group meals, cooking competitions, self-reflection exercises, group presentations, unconference events, and more.

The company knew that they wanted to use all different kinds of formats for their activities so that they could keep people’s attention.

Before they planned the event, they wrote down their objectives, breaking them into task- and team-focused outcomes. Then, they came up with ideas to achieve those outcomes.

Again, First Round Review knew they didn’t want to spend all day on Zoom. A few things they did to make their virtual offsite interactive and successful were:

  • Send an interactive surprise: The team sent everyone a kit that they were instructed not to open beforehand. The kit included candy, a chalkboard to write on, coffee, and a kombucha starter kit. This was a fun way to kick off the virtual offsite.
  • Get in costume: The team was all sent special hats and everyone showed up to the meeting wearing their merch.
  • Cooking challenge: Groups were split into breakout rooms so each group could cook together live. Then, everyone presented their meals together and people voted on creativity and presentation.
  • Unstructured time: This is huge. Don’t make people spend all day on the computer. Include unstructured time and breaks.
  • Playtime: Include team bonding events such as trivia or virtual escape rooms. First Round Review even hired a magician to join them for a group dinner.
  • Show gratitude: First Round Review spent an entire meeting having everyone write out gratitude for every team member and then emailed everyone their list of comments from their coworkers. For each teammate, they had everyone spend one minute answering by writing a line or two in response to the following questions: What’s something you admire about this individual? What’s something this person did recently that you appreciate? Why are you grateful to count this person as a teammate? Answers are anonymous. After they’re all in, the meeting owner will round up the lines for each individual and share them in a private email.

One of the biggest takeaways from this virtual offsite is that you can have several formats, different sessions, interactive and engaging content, and still get work done in strategy sessions.

3. Wikimedia Product Team Virtual Offsite

The Wikimedia Foundation Product team also had productive virtual strategy sessions and meaningful team bonding in a remote environment across various time zones.

To achieve this, a lot of planning went into it. The team first decided what story they wanted to tell during their offsite. To ensure this was discussed throughout the virtual offsite, they revisited their product roadmap to understand where the team had been and where they’re going. On the first day, they held a retrospective to accomplish this.

Ultimately, the creative way that the company thought about this offsite was in the agenda and planning.

If there was a presentation or low energy session, they wanted to make sure it was followed up by a high engagement interactive session.

Additionally, the timing was important. They decided that instead of having 8-hour Zoom meetings, they’d have four hours of virtual sessions a day, broken into 2-hour blocks with a break in between of about 1.5-2 hours.

The offsite included low energy sessions including a Q&A with the Chief Product Officer, where they prepared questions ahead of time and used a thirty-minute window to go through their questions. But followed up those sessions with interactive activities.

One session even had team members create a homepage for newcomers based on previous features built by the product team. This had the team actively working in the tool so they could see what features stand out.

They also had a session with a specialist that was a step-by-step process of the Wikipedia editing process so employees understand the user experience.

Other fun sessions included friendly games online.

When planning a virtual offsite, it’s important to consider the timing and energy levels of the event. Spending all day on a video conferencing tool isn’t going to be effective for most people.

Hosting a virtual offsite doesn’t need to be an overly complicated process. And it doesn’t need to be a boring, 8-hour long Zoom meeting. You can host interactive sessions, presentations, and truly engage with your employees.

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5 SEO Success Stories to Inspire Your 2021 Strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) may seem like a straightforward concept.

You pick keywords related to your business, create content with those keywords, and you’re set to watch your site grow — a simple three-step process, right? Nope.

While those are fundamental elements of SEO, it can actually be quite challenging to create a strategy that helps you drive traffic and enough of it to meet your overall business goals.

It can be difficult to get your feet off the ground. Thankfully, there are various tools specifically designed to help you with SEO, build domain authority, and achieve high ROI. In this post, we’ll hear inspiring stories from HubSpot clients that have used our SEO tools to achieve business success.

→ Download Now: SEO Starter Pack [Free Kit]

5 SEO Success Stories To Inspire Your 2021 Strategy

1. Ironpaper

Ironpaper is a digital marketing agency that helps their B2B clients grow. They worked with one of their clients, Goddard, to achieve significant success using HubSpot’s SEO tools.

Jonathan Franchell, CEO and Founder of Ironpaper, says, “While Goddard fills a real need for their customers by designing medical devices, historically they’ve struggled to find quality leads that could use their services. Instead, their website attracted a lot of spam and unqualified contacts.” Ironpaper began making critical SEO updates with HubSpot tools on Goddard’s site, focusing on internal linking, content strategy with business-relevant keywords, and technical SEO issues like broken links and meta tags.

Over an eight-month campaign, Ironpaper helped Goddard gain 2,361 Google positions across various keywords relevant to their offerings. Franchell says, “Because we created targeted content centered on strategic keywords, Goddard’s Google rankings increased even throughout a dip in traffic.”

The company also now ranks in the top 100 for 50 strategically targeted terms and can use HubSpot’s insights reports and dashboards to monitor their progress to ensure that their future marketing efforts are hyper-targeted for the audience they’ve worked hard to develop.

2. Apptega

Apptega is a cybersecurity and compliance platform. As they grew their business, they knew they would need an optimized website that generated leads. They also recognized that their existing WordPress site wouldn’t be enough for them to reach their goals.

Joelle Palmer, Apptega’s Digital Marketing Manager, says, “We had built a Frankenstein monster in WordPress. Our dev team would constantly have to drop what they were doing and fix our website.” Apptega then decided to migrate its existing site into CMS Hub.

Apptega saw almost immediate success with HubSpot’s SEO tools: “We saw one of our core pages move from a number100+ ranking on Google to position number three in two weeks. SEO usually takes three to six months to work…that was truly amazing for us as a company to experience.”

Some of the tools Apptega used within Marketing Hub to achieve their growth are the on-page SEO recommendations that direct users to pages that need attention and additional ways to optimize content.

3. Beacon Digital Marketing

Beacon Digital Marketing specializes in driving results for FinTech, SaaS, and B2B businesses.

As HubSpot Platinum Partners, they understand how to use and implement HubSpot tools to drive growth and success. While they typically assist other businesses, they took an internal look in August 2020 and decided to implement an SEO overhaul of a post on their blog that they believed could perform better than it already was.

They focused on a few critical areas for improvement: updating metadata, optimizing for a featured snippet, and re-targeting original keywords. The HubSpot content mapping tool helped them create a strategic pillar-cluster plan, and the on-page SEO recommendations provided them with helpful tips. After implementing their new strategy, they noticed an almost immediate 50% increase in page views: July 2020 showed 991 organic search traffic views, and August 2020 had 1,552.

Their optimization allowed them to draw more traffic to an existing blog post, and they have also seen an increase in organic traffic to additional pages on their website. This goes to show that a well-rounded SEO strategy can impact all areas of your business, as an increase in traffic leads to curious customers eager to learn more about what you have to offer.

4. Take Note

Take Note is a UK-based business that provides a range of audio and video transcription services, captions, and on-site note-taking. When demand for their business grew, they struggled with balancing disconnected tools to support their needs and obtain consistent growth. Thomas Carter, Director of Marketing at Take Note, said, “I think for us, SEO is the way to grow within such a competitive market.”

The business officially signed on to HubSpot in 2018 and has since increased its website traffic by 22%. At the same time, their customer base and revenue have grown by 16-22%. They’ve also seen an increase in leads. Carter adds, “Long term, we want to continue to focus on ensuring the quality of our services remains exceptionally high while using technology such as HubSpot to automate and optimize behind the scenes.”

5. Revenue River

Revenue River is a digital sales and marketing agency that helps companies scale and become competitive in their industry. One of their clients, Kofinas Fertility Group, saw their site traffic significantly impacted by COVID-19. Eric Pratt, the Managing Partner at Revenue River, says, “The site saw declines from mid-February all the way through May.”

The business got to work and conducted competitive analysis and keyword research to identify areas of opportunity for growth. They decided that the best course of action was to create pillar content and supporting content clusters, which would help them establish their domain as a source of authority in their industry.

Since implementing the new strategy in November of 2020, the site has nearly doubled its organic traffic. Between March and June of 2020, they saw 86K impressions, and January-March 2021 saw 1.1M.

Pratt says this success “Came about because of a combination of SEO strategy planning for research, topic clustering, and on-site/page optimization features to enrich the SEO appeal of the content we’re producing and publishing through HubSpot.”

Improving Your SEO Doesn’t Have To Be A Challenge.

The success stories we’ve highlighted in this post show that SEO doesn’t have to be a challenge, especially with the help of a high-powered SEO tool. Learn from these clients and create a strategy that works for your business.

 

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Hulu Introduces New Ad Tool for SMBs: What Marketers Need to Know

Hulu gave us “The Handmaid’s Tale,” then gave us “Little Fires Everywhere.” So, personally, I don’t need another reason to love the streaming platform. But if I had a small business, I would have just gotten one.

In July 2020, Hulu announced Hulu Ad Manager, a self-service advertising platform designed for smaller advertisers with limited budgets.

Download Now: Free Ad Campaign Planning Kit

Previously, Hulu ads were only accessible to top brands with the finances to fund large campaigns. Now, small- and mid-size businesses (SMBs) can reach the platform’s 92 million ad-supported viewers without dishing out thousands of dollars.

So, how exactly does the Ad Manager work? We’ll cover that and more below.

How to Use Hulu’s Ad Service

Currently, Hulu’s self-service solution is in the beta phase.

To access the platform as a beta user, you must first submit an RSVP form with information on your business.

Hulu Ad Manager RSVP page

If accepted, setting up your ad is easy. Here are the steps.

1. Select the dates within which you want to run your ad campaign.

2. Build your audience.

On Hulu Ad Manager, you can target users by age, interest, gender, location, and of course show genre. When it comes to location, you can narrow it down by state, city, ZIP code, or a designated marketing area (DMA).

However, you cannot select which shows you want your ads to run on, only the genre. If you’re not sure what will align best with your brand, look through the current show selections to get an idea of what to expect.

3. Set your budget.

To run an ad on Hulu, you must have a minimum budget of $500 per campaign, which is considerably less than the usual cost of ads on streaming platforms. For comparison, Amazon’s self-service platform for video ads typically requires a minimum ad spend of $35,000.

4. Upload your video ad.

There are a few requirements your ad must meet to be approved:

The approval process usually takes up to three business days.

5. Make a payment.

Currently, Hulu doesn’t accept business bank accounts or debit cards for payments. You must use a credit card. If you choose to pause or cancel your campaign, you will only pay for the delivered impressions.

6. Track your ad performance.

Once your ad is live, you can start tracking its performance in the Hulu Ad Manager.

Note that you will not be able to find out what times your ad aired and during which shows. However, you can expect to find standard metrics, such as impressions and clicks.

Hulu Advertising Options

In addition to Hulu’s most recent self-service option, the streaming service also offers two other advertising options:

  • Premium Programmatic – This is ideal for brands who want to leverage lookalike audiences, audience CRM matching, and behavioral segmenting in their campaign.
  • Action With Broad Appeal – With this option, you can integrate your brand with Hulu’s, create branded content collections, and deliver ads in innovative formats.

Each option caters to your brand’s specific goals and can be designed to fit your budget.

For instance, you can run brand lift studies, which are ads designed to measure consumer perception of your brand after a campaign.

Jillian Hope, senior marketing manager of brand advertising at HubSpot, explains that they can help brand advertisers understand the impact Hulu campaign exposure has on key brand KPIs.

Pros and Cons of Hulu Ads

Pro: Hulu has extensive targeting capabilities.

With any one of the three advertising options available on Hulu, you can use Hulu’s targeting features to reach your ideal viewers.

“[You have] the ability to define target audiences using Hulu’s first-party audience data or leverage lookalike audiences using your own first-party data,” said Hope.

The extent of the targeting parameters will depend on which option you are using. For instance, if you are using programmatic buying, you can use lookalike audiences to match the exact users you’re looking for with Hulu’s viewers.

However, on the current beta version of the self-service solution, you can only target users by demographic and show genre.

Despite this, Hope adds that targeting on a platform like Hulu is much more advanced than it would be with traditional, linear TV.

Pro: Innovative ad formats allow you to experiment.

On Hulu, you’re only limited to video commercials if you’re using the self-service option. The platform offers over 15 ad products to reach viewers.

There are multiple ad formats available and lots of innovation happening,” said Hope. “For example, [there’s the] new QR code integration that is more desirable to direct response advertisers.”

It’s just a matter of figuring out which ad product best aligns with your goals.

For instance, there’s the cover story brand placement, which allows you to seamlessly integrate your branding on Hulu’s homepage.

Hulu Ad Manager Ad Product Example

Image Source

Then, there’s the ad selector, which puts the power back in the consumers hands by letting them select which ad they want to see.

Hulu Ad Manager Ad Selector

Image Source

These are just a few of the ad formats you can pick from, each one creating a different experience for the user. To see all the ad formats available on Hulu, visit Hulu’s ad product page.

Con: You can only accomplish so much with a limited budget.

One of the downsides of Hulu ads is that certain campaigns will require a bigger budget than you may have available.

“Some of the more premium ad placements, as well as brand lift studies, require budget minimums in order to reach statistical significance,” said Hope. “So, they are less attainable to smaller advertisers.”

In this case, Hulu may not be the best platform on which to run these types of campaigns. You may want to opt for another ad platform, like Facebook Ads, where you can reach more users who still fall within your target audience for less money.

How Hulu Ad Examples Can Inform Your Next Campaign

If you’re not ready to pull the trigger on a Hulu campaign, get inspiration in the meantime.

See how other brands – notably your competitors – are using the platform to reach their target audience. This means looking at their creative, reviewing case studies, and monitoring consumer sentiment via social media.

This competitive intelligence can help you devise a strategy during the ideation phase of your campaign.

Given that the Hulu Ad Manager is still in beta, the platform will likely include more features once it fully launches. In the meantime, SMBs can reach TV viewers for a fraction of what it used to cost.

advertising plan

Hulu Introduces New Ad Tool for SMBs: What Marketers Need to Know

Hulu gave us “The Handmaid’s Tale,” then gave us “Little Fires Everywhere.” So, personally, I don’t need another reason to love the streaming platform. But if I had a small business, I would have just gotten one.

In July 2020, Hulu announced Hulu Ad Manager, a self-service advertising platform designed for smaller advertisers with limited budgets.

Download Now: Free Ad Campaign Planning Kit

Previously, Hulu ads were only accessible to top brands with the finances to fund large campaigns. Now, small- and mid-size businesses (SMBs) can reach the platform’s 92 million ad-supported viewers without dishing out thousands of dollars.

So, how exactly does the Ad Manager work? We’ll cover that and more below.

How to Use Hulu’s Ad Service

Currently, Hulu’s self-service solution is in the beta phase.

To access the platform as a beta user, you must first submit an RSVP form with information on your business.

Hulu Ad Manager RSVP page

If accepted, setting up your ad is easy. Here are the steps.

1. Select the dates within which you want to run your ad campaign.

2. Build your audience.

On Hulu Ad Manager, you can target users by age, interest, gender, location, and of course show genre. When it comes to location, you can narrow it down by state, city, ZIP code, or a designated marketing area (DMA).

However, you cannot select which shows you want your ads to run on, only the genre. If you’re not sure what will align best with your brand, look through the current show selections to get an idea of what to expect.

3. Set your budget.

To run an ad on Hulu, you must have a minimum budget of $500 per campaign, which is considerably less than the usual cost of ads on streaming platforms. For comparison, Amazon’s self-service platform for video ads typically requires a minimum ad spend of $35,000.

4. Upload your video ad.

There are a few requirements your ad must meet to be approved:

The approval process usually takes up to three business days.

5. Make a payment.

Currently, Hulu doesn’t accept business bank accounts or debit cards for payments. You must use a credit card. If you choose to pause or cancel your campaign, you will only pay for the delivered impressions.

6. Track your ad performance.

Once your ad is live, you can start tracking its performance in the Hulu Ad Manager.

Note that you will not be able to find out what times your ad aired and during which shows. However, you can expect to find standard metrics, such as impressions and clicks.

Hulu Advertising Options

In addition to Hulu’s most recent self-service option, the streaming service also offers two other advertising options:

  • Premium Programmatic – This is ideal for brands who want to leverage lookalike audiences, audience CRM matching, and behavioral segmenting in their campaign.
  • Action With Broad Appeal – With this option, you can integrate your brand with Hulu’s, create branded content collections, and deliver ads in innovative formats.

Each option caters to your brand’s specific goals and can be designed to fit your budget.

For instance, you can run brand lift studies, which are ads designed to measure consumer perception of your brand after a campaign.

Jillian Hope, senior marketing manager of brand advertising at HubSpot, explains that they can help brand advertisers understand the impact Hulu campaign exposure has on key brand KPIs.

Pros and Cons of Hulu Ads

Pro: Hulu has extensive targeting capabilities.

With any one of the three advertising options available on Hulu, you can use Hulu’s targeting features to reach your ideal viewers.

“[You have] the ability to define target audiences using Hulu’s first-party audience data or leverage lookalike audiences using your own first-party data,” said Hope.

The extent of the targeting parameters will depend on which option you are using. For instance, if you are using programmatic buying, you can use lookalike audiences to match the exact users you’re looking for with Hulu’s viewers.

However, on the current beta version of the self-service solution, you can only target users by demographic and show genre.

Despite this, Hope adds that targeting on a platform like Hulu is much more advanced than it would be with traditional, linear TV.

Pro: Innovative ad formats allow you to experiment.

On Hulu, you’re only limited to video commercials if you’re using the self-service option. The platform offers over 15 ad products to reach viewers.

There are multiple ad formats available and lots of innovation happening,” said Hope. “For example, [there’s the] new QR code integration that is more desirable to direct response advertisers.”

It’s just a matter of figuring out which ad product best aligns with your goals.

For instance, there’s the cover story brand placement, which allows you to seamlessly integrate your branding on Hulu’s homepage.

Hulu Ad Manager Ad Product Example

Image Source

Then, there’s the ad selector, which puts the power back in the consumers hands by letting them select which ad they want to see.

Hulu Ad Manager Ad Selector

Image Source

These are just a few of the ad formats you can pick from, each one creating a different experience for the user. To see all the ad formats available on Hulu, visit Hulu’s ad product page.

Con: You can only accomplish so much with a limited budget.

One of the downsides of Hulu ads is that certain campaigns will require a bigger budget than you may have available.

“Some of the more premium ad placements, as well as brand lift studies, require budget minimums in order to reach statistical significance,” said Hope. “So, they are less attainable to smaller advertisers.”

In this case, Hulu may not be the best platform on which to run these types of campaigns. You may want to opt for another ad platform, like Facebook Ads, where you can reach more users who still fall within your target audience for less money.

How Hulu Ad Examples Can Inform Your Next Campaign

If you’re not ready to pull the trigger on a Hulu campaign, get inspiration in the meantime.

See how other brands – notably your competitors – are using the platform to reach their target audience. This means looking at their creative, reviewing case studies, and monitoring consumer sentiment via social media.

This competitive intelligence can help you devise a strategy during the ideation phase of your campaign.

Given that the Hulu Ad Manager is still in beta, the platform will likely include more features once it fully launches. In the meantime, SMBs can reach TV viewers for a fraction of what it used to cost.

advertising plan

6 Creative Strategies for Getting Traffic from Pinterest

Pinterest is an undeniably powerful opportunity to reach and convert new audiences.

If you don’t believe me, consider this: The platform has over 250 million users. And roughly 90% of those Pinterest users say they look at content on the network to make purchasing decisions.

However, excelling on Pinterest versus using Pinterest as a strong distribution channel are two different things.

If you’re starting to see an uptick in followers on your Pinterest account, you might want to consider how you can turn those followers into real leads and customers for your business.

Here, let’s explore some creative strategies for turning the followers you get on Pinterest into traffic for your website and social channels.

Free Resource: 12 Pinterest Templates for Business

1. Create boards using relevant keywords.

A board — or an organized compilation of related pins, for easier discoverability — is a necessary component for a good user experience on Pinterest.

For instance, CoSchedule, which has almost 17,000 followers on Pinterest, has organized their pins into boards titled “Content Marketing”, “Social Media Marketing”, “Marketing Inspiration”, and more:

CoSchedule's Pinterest Boards

New followers can easily find the pins they’re looking for using these broader categories, which is why it makes sense to use popular keywords when creating your boards, as CoSchedule did.

Additionally, these keyword-optimized boards can help make your Pinterest content more discoverable on search engines when someone searches for related keywords — particularly on Google Image searches, since Pinterest is primarily a visual channel:

The image search results page on Google for the search term, "best marketing statistics"

As shown above, two images from Pinterest arise on Google’s Images search page for the search term, “Best marketing statistics”. By creating boards with searchable keywords, you’re more likely to reach users both on, and off, Pinterest.

2. Leverage Rich pins to ensure your Pinterest content is up-to-date.

Simply put, Rich pins can sync with your website to ensure your content is up-to-date on Pinterest when you make any changes to those pages on your site.  

There are a few reasons you might use Rich pins. If you post your products on Pinterest, Product Rich Pins can ensure availability and pricing are updated automatically as those factors change on your ecommerce site.

If you post recipes, alternatively, then Recipe Rich pins can add extra information to the recipes you pin to your site — including serving size, diet preference, and ratings — for increased discoverability.

Finally, Article Rich Pins will add headlines, titles, description, and author byline information of the article or blog post to your Pinterest site when you pin an article.

These small details go a long way towards ensuring your Pinterest content is always fresh as users find it. Particularly if you’re aiming to drive sales for products from Pinterest, it’s important to use Product Rich Pins so people aren’t frustrated when they find pricing or other information is different between Pinterest and your product pages.

3. Pin consistently, and often.

You can’t expect much traffic from Pinterest if you don’t regularly pin content on the platform. Pinterest, like any social network, requires dedicated, long-term work to see results.

You wouldn’t expect to write one blog post for your website and see a major, steady flow of traffic as a result — and the same goes for Pinterest.

Additionally, as your followers grow, you want to provide high-quality, interesting content to increase brand loyalty and keep those followers active on your page. By regularly pinning, you’re increasing your odds of converting those followers into fans of your brand — which will ultimately drive them off Pinterest, and onto your website or social pages.

4. Optimize your pins — and boards — for search.

At its core, Pinterest is essentially its own visual search engine. And, similar to other search engines, keyword-optimized content performs best on the network.

Additionally, keyword optimizing your Pinterest profile increases your chances to rank organically on other search engines, and drive traffic from search engines like Google to your Pinterest site.

To optimize your Pinterest page, consider inserting brand-related keywords into your bio and profile, pin descriptions, board titles, board descriptions, and even the image alt-text of content you post on Pinterest.

This can help your images appear on Google’s Image search results, as well as improve your chances of ranking on Pinterest for your intended keywords.

5. Create pin-worthy images, and use those images to link out to original content on your website or social pages.

One of the easiest ways to drive traffic back to your website is by creating unique, original content specifically for Pinterest, and then using that pin to link back to your website or blog post.

For instance, consider the infographic below, which I found when searching “best social media platforms” on Pinterest:

an infographic on Pinterest by digichefs titled "which is the best social media platform for your brand?'

It’s a good idea to create unique, standalone value with your images for Pinterest. In this case, I can find my answer to “best social media platforms” by looking at the infographic itself without ever leaving Pinterest — which makes for a better user experience.

However, if I’ve found unique value in the content, I might want to click the brand’s website to learn more about their business or see additional content. When I click on the digichef URL, I’m taken to the original page for the infographic, on the business’ website:

A blog post on digichef's website, which includes the original infographic on social media platforms that you can also find on Pinterest.

You might try a similar approach with your own Pinterest strategy. Consider how you can create unique, standalone content that will perform well on Pinterest. Alternatively, perhaps you can post infographics or other visual assets you’ve already created for your brand on Pinterest, with a link back to your site.

6. Follow similar brands for content inspiration, as well as opportunities to re-pin images that align with your brand.

With Pinterest, each pin you save doesn’t have to be original branded content. Instead, one easy opportunity to increase engagement is to re-pin images that align with your brand to share with your own followers.

Additionally, following other brands can increase traffic to your own Pinterest profile and, ultimately, your website. When you follow someone on Pinterest, Pinterest sends a notification letting them know they have a new follower. Some of those people may then follow you back in return, which is a good way to grow your audience.

Following similar brands can also help you identify popular or trending content on other profiles, as well as gaps in your own Pinterest content strategy.

If you work at a home decor ecommerce store, for instance, you might find that many competitors are posting ‘Easter Home Decor’ images:

Pinterest's "Shop by Brand" category on the search results page for "easter home decor"

This might inspire your team to create your own version of Easter home decor content, as well as other seasonal pins and boards.

Finally, consider partnering with certain brands that have complementary products or services to your own. For example, Benefit Cosmetics partnered with Shutterfly to create the page, “Wedding Looks: benefit cosmetics x Wedding Paper Divas“:

A Pinterest page that showcases a partnership between benefit cosmetics and shutterfly for weddings

The page is filled with pins related to both makeup and stationary for the big day. For expanding your reach and increasing value for your followers, you might try partnering with other popular brands on Pinterest. 

Ultimately, creating a successful Pinterest strategy takes work and dedication, but if you find Pinterest is a popular social platform with your target audience, it’s likely worth the time and effort it takes to grow your following, increase brand awareness, and ultimately drive sales.  

Pinterest Templates

How I Grew the HubSpot Podcast Skill Up Audience by 271% in Two Months

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.

There are 72,000 new podcast episodes each day — which means there are five new podcasts made every six seconds.

And, as of March 2020, there are a reported 1.9 million total podcasts, and 47 million total episodes. Depending on when you read this article, these numbers could be drastically different.

Which is all to say: The podcast industry is rapidly growing.

In a world of fast-growing competition, how do we — as podcast marketers — compete for listeners’ attention, while also expanding reach and growing our audiences?

I wish that I could tell you that I have it all figured out. However, not having it figured out is what ultimately led to a 271% increase in downloads for season six of HubSpot’s podcast, Skill Up.

Here, I’ll share my lessons for how I achieved that growth.

Lesson 1: There are a lot of podcast listening platforms.

When you think of podcast platforms, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts are probably top of mind, right?

Well, there are many, many more listening platforms beyond those three.

I downloaded every podcast platform available through the App Store on my iPhone. This included Podcast Addict, Overcast, Castro, PlayerFM, Pandora, Pocket Casts, and about ten others.

I then cross-referenced the players I downloaded with the audience application report from Megaphone. If there was a small or nonexistent audience on a platform, I highlighted it.

The first recommendation I can make is to look at where people are listening to your podcasts using the reporting provided by your podcast host. Are the majority of your downloads coming from Apple or Spotify? If your answer is yes, then that’s good news. You have untapped audiences on other platforms, including PlayerFM and Podcast Addict.

Which brings me to my next recommendation …

Lesson 2: Paid ad placements on podcast platforms pay off.

After I had a list of podcast platforms that would allow me to expand the reach of my podcast, I opened each platform and took note of their ad placements. I looked for anything that said “Sponsored” or something along those lines. If I liked the ad placement, I included it in my list.

Next, I focused on gathering data on ad cost, estimated CPM, and estimated downloads for the placements I was interested in. This is relatively easy, since many of the platforms share both the ad placements available and estimated campaign results on their websites.

If they don’t have the information available on their website, you can email the podcast platforms’ advertising team, who will provide you with that information.

After gathering this data, I assessed the best ads forSkill Up. Fortunately, before I joined HubSpot, my manager had already run ads on podcast listening platforms — which meant I had data to reference to make more informed decisions.

If you haven’t run ads on a listening platform previously, I have good news for you: Ad placements range from $165 to $3,000, so even if you don’t have a large budget, you can likely still experiment with these types of ads.

Lesson 3: Episode-specific promotions are incredibly effective.

Within my marketing plan for the launch of season six, I focused on promotions that announced the upcoming season.

The season was comprised of five episodes that were released over the span of three weeks, so it made sense to drive awareness towards the new episodes. The podcast ad copy read something along the lines of, “A new season ofSkill Up is here!”

Towards the end of the season, however, it didn’t make sense to announce the season anymore. Instead, I created episode-specific promotions.

In comparison to the show promotions, the episode highlights resonated better with audiences and increased our conversions through distribution channels, such as email.

Here’s an example:

HubSpot’s Skill Up podcast presents … “How a Sales Manager at LinkedIn Builds a Buyer-first Selling Strategy”

What’s the best selling strategy in 2021? Kwesi Graves, Sales Manager at LinkedIn, champions the “buyer-first selling” methodology, which prioritizes quality over quantity, emphasizes the importance of the buyer’s context, and encourages his team of reps to spend more time researching than reaching out. If you’re a manager, sales leader, or rep looking to transform how you sell in 2021, this is a great place to start! Listen now:

Episode-specific advertisements also performed much better than season advertisements. Unfortunately, however, most podcast listening platforms don’t allow episode-specific advertisements.

There is one that does: PlayerFM. Our episode-specific ads on PlayerFM outperformed all our other ad campaigns. Hopefully, more podcast platforms will eventually offer the same.

While I wouldn’t say these initiatives are revolutionary, they were incredibly effective for us. Our team is on an exciting journey where experimentation and innovation are key to success.

For any podcast marketers in the industry — This is just the beginning.

The Most Annoying Advertisement Types & What to Do Instead [Research]

A 2019 Edelman study found that three out of four consumers avoid ads. In fact, 47% said they have changed their media habits to see fewer ads while others use ad blockers to prevent them altogether.

The reasons why vary.

Personally, I hate repetitive ads. For about a month straight, every time I would watch a YouTube video, I would see the same ad and it got more irritating every time. Mostly because I wasn’t interested in the brand or its services. But the incessant nature of the ad led to me develop a negative association with the company.

Download Now: Free Ad Campaign Planning Kit

So, how can brands deliver ads that audiences want to see? To know that, let’s first look at what they definitely don’t like.

The Most Annoying Advertisement Types

We surveyed 302 people and asked them about what ads they are most annoyed by. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said pop-up ads that negatively impact the user experience.

2021 Lucid Survey Most Annoying Ad Types

Data Source

We’ve all gone through it. You land on a website and before you can even scroll, you’re hit with a big pop-up ad that takes up the whole screen. You close it, then get hit with another pop-up on the bottom of your screen, making it harder to navigate the site.

At this stage, many users just drop off.

This is an issue that affects both publishers and advertisers. The more visitors a publisher has, the higher the rate they will charge for their ad inventory. However, if a site is known to have incessant pop-up ads (looking right at you, recipe websites), visitors may be reluctant to visit that site again. This can lead to lower traffic and eventually less ad revenue.

This is equally impactful to advertisers who want users to convert on their ads. You know how they say journalists should never become the story? Well, ads should never be noticed for their placement instead of their content.

Let’s say your ads are displayed in ways that hinder the user experience. At worst, consumers will start to build a negative perception of your brand and at best, they’ll simply be too distracted by the placement or timing of the ad to care about the content. Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation.

When it comes to video ads, things get tricky.

Our study found that the second most annoying ad type is the one that plays before or during a video or show. In addition, a 2019 study by RevJet found that 100% of consumers will skip the ad whenever possible.

The solution here isn’t to stop producing video ads altogether. It’s to leverage the short time you have to capture your audience’s attention and encourage them to engage with your video.

This could be by addressing their pain points or using emotional appeal. Determining what works best for your audience will require a lot of experimentation. It may take time to figure out the right formula but once you do, you can create videos with confidence that your audience will be entertained.

Now that we know what annoys consumers, let’s talk about what consumers actually want to see.

What Consumers Want in Ads

Plan your ad with user experience in mind.

When deciding on your ad format, placement, and timing, it’s important to consider the user experience.

Take pop-up ads, they are inherently disruptive. In this case, you may want to display them once your user has exhibited a high-engagement behavior on the site. This can be spending X amount of minutes on a page or visiting other pages on the website.

With this tactic, your user may be less likely to dismiss your ad as they are already highly engaged with the page.

Find the right balance in ad frequency.

The RevJet study found that over 72% of consumers dislike brands with repetitive messaging in their ads.

While ad frequency can help you reach your goals, there is a point where it no longer yields positive results.

A 2020 Facebook IQ study found that for brand lift campaigns, more impressions do lead to better ad recall and action intent. However, after a certain number of impressions, the benefits plateau.

In 2019, Snapchat found that the sweet spot was one to two ads per week. However, this number can vary greatly depending on several factors.

The key takeaway is that more doesn’t always equal better when it comes to users.

Don’t get too invasive.

Yes, consumers like personalized ads. But there’s a difference between personal and creepy, and that’s the balance every brand has to strike.

We surveyed 300 people and asked them about which ads feel the most invasive. The top answer was ads based on their recent online searches.

2021 Lucid Survey Most Invasive Ad Types

Data Source

The RevJet survey echoed these results, with 60% of consumers stating they do not find retargeting ads helpful.

What consumers may prefer are contextual and demographical ads, according to a 2020 Innovid Study. For instance, seeing an ad for a blender as you’re looking up recipes or seeing an ad for a store located in your area.

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for determining what’s helpful or too invasive. Experiment and see what works for your brand, then use that data to inform your future ad strategy.

Keep it short and concise.

When it comes to video ads, most consumers are not willing to watch them to completion.

A key finding in the RevJet study was that users are willing to abandon their videos if it means sitting through a long ad.

Twenty-eight percent of consumers between the ages of 18 to 44 will drop off if the ad exceeds 10 seconds. That rate rises incrementally as video length increases.

That said, keep your ads short and to the point. If you do opt for a longer ad, have a strong opening that will encourage your audience to keep watching.

It’s important to note that these tips provide insights into consumer perception and can help steer you in the right direction. However, it’s only by experimenting that you will determine which strategies yield the best results to achieve your marketing goals.

advertising plan

4 Ways Brands Can Gain Awareness on Clubhouse [+Examples]

If you’ve been on social media, marketing news sites, or the HubSpot Blog lately, you might have heard about Clubhouse.

The nearly one-year-old social media platform which allows users to drop into audio-only chat rooms has grown from 600,000 to 10 million active users in just a few short months.  Although the app is invite-only, more and more people are gaining access and tuning into discussions related to their industry, hobbies, and other interests each day.

Users also love Clubhouse for its entertainment factor. When surfing through Clubhouse, you might find celebrities, like Joe Rogan, chatting with fellow influencers; audio-only musical productions, comedy nights; or even standup comedy events.

But, when exploring Clubhouse’s vast and highly-creative audio rooms as a marketer, you might wonder if and how you can leverage it within your marketing strategy.

At this point, most Clubhouse content is still highly experimental. However, one major theme to note is that it’s users want to hear from people — not just brands.

Because Clubhouse’s users crave authentic human discussion, they’ll likely disengage from rooms that prioritize promotional content over a relatable conversation.

However, while building brand awareness on an ultra-personal app like Clubhouse takes time, energy, and lots of community management, we’re already starting to see brands begin to connect with the channel’s growing audience.

To help marketers who are just learning about Clubhouse, I spent the last few days surfing the app to learn how brands are reaching users. Below I’ll highlight four common brand awareness tactics and offer a few actual examples.

Download Now: Social Media Trends in 2021 [Free Report]

How Brands Leverage Clubhouse

1. Fireside Chats or Q&As

When I first heard about Clubhouse and explored the app, a lot of rooms I dropped into felt like audio-only video calls or webinars where only the hosts began with speaking privileges. To me, it’s not surprising that brand-affiliated room creators and moderators have begun to leverage Q&As, panels, and fireside-chat formats to create interactive — yet well-managed — discussions on the platform.

When watching a panel or interview affiliated with a brand, it’s often formatted in one of two ways:

  • The moderator — who works for the brand coordinating the room — asks thought leaders or influencers affiliated with their industry questions. This moderator might also permit audience members to ask questions or come to the stage to the speaker as well.
  • An employee or leader from a brand serves as an interviewee or panel member while an influencer that does not work for the brand asks questions or moderates questions from the audience.

Regardless of which role the brand member holds in the chat, these rooms have very similar formats. They usually begin with the moderator announcing who they are, who they’ll be talking to, and the topic of the room. From there, the moderator will either ask questions to the speakers or giving speaking privileges to other users who raise their hands.

Below I’ll highlight two examples of rooms I’ve seen. Because Clubhouse is still invite-only and positioned as a safe space for communities to discuss thoughts, topics, or ideas, I will only note key parts of the conversations and room formats. I also did not record these rooms.

Below are two recent fireside chat examples:

Coinbase

A recent Clubhouse room, shown below, featured an interview with Coinbase Co-Founder and CEO Brian Armstrong. During the room, Sriram Krishman, a moderator from the club Good Time, asked Armstrong questions about how he got started in bitcoin and grew his company. They also discussed the future of cyber currency. Krishman, also invited listeners to raise their hands and ask questions to Armstrong to create more discussion around the complex cyber topic.

Clubhouse Room description for an event where the CEO of Coinbase is interviewed by the Club Good Time

In rooms like the one above, users can learn more about a brand like Coinbase and ask its leader questions about the company or its industry. Through this experience, Coinbase and other brands could boost both company awareness and credibility with audiences who tune in to hear their canned, unedited discussion.

HubSpot

Recently, HubSpot also launched a fireside chat-styled room where our Chief Marketing Officer Kipp Bodnar, CTO and Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah, and Sr. VP of Marketing Kieran Flanagan invited prominent Clubhouse influencers including Bomani X to discuss “The Future of Marketing and Clubhouse.”

During the panel, Bodnar asked the Clubhouse influencers a few questions related to how they’ve grown their audiences on the platform; what they’ve done to optimize their profile, rooms, or clubs; and brand awareness etiquette. He also took similar questions or comments from a vast group of listeners including a weight-loss business founder, a scientist, and a Rubix cube enthusiast looking to build Clubhouse communities.

The Future of Marketing on Clubhouse Room hosted by HubSpot

While HubSpot’s leaders haven’t claimed to be Clubhouse experts yet, they created a room to highlight what they know so far and connect listeners with some of Clubhouse’s high-profile early-adopters of the app with millions of followers. This is a great example of how the brand positions itself as a marketing thought leader even when they’re experimenting with a new, unique platform.

2. Sponsoring Room Events

While people might not want to join a room that discusses a product or brand positively the entire time, they might enter an interesting conversation or Clubhouse event that is sponsored by a brand.

When you drop into a sponsored room, you might not hear speakers from the brand speak much — or at all. However, when reintroducing the room, a speaker might mention that the room or Clubhouse audio experience is paid for or sponsored by the brand. You might also see a sponsor listed in the room’s title or description.

Below is one interesting example:

Yummy

Below is an example of a scheduled event sponsored by Yummy, a California-based grocery delivery app. During the room-based event — scheduled for June 5 — contestants will compete for a $100 Yummy gift card by performing an audio talent, such as singing or playing music.

Clubhouse Talent Show Room Description noting that the event is sponsored by Yummy

By sponsoring an experimental performance contest on Clubhouse, Yummy not only gets to see how creative Clubhouse content could benefit their brand, but they also promote their delivery service to a large pool of Clubhouse users who are interested in audio entertainment or music.

3. Having team members participate in rooms related to your industry.

Another way brands can grow awareness is by having chief officers, leaders, or even general employees raise their hands and actively participate by speaking in rooms with large audiences.

When speaking in a room, brand representatives don’t necessarily need to talk all about their company. However, by adding to a conversation, talking about tactics they’ve tried at their role, and showing off their expertise, audience members learn to trust them and their company. As company members gain a following and fanbase, their brand might also gain a new audience.

Below are two examples of brands that are embracing room participation.

Tax Nation LLC.

In a recent room titled “Marketing That Works in 2021 (so far)”, moderators asked listeners to raise their hands and offer their best marketing tips.

Marketing That Works Clubhouse Room

During the room, Cory Hughes, Vice President and Managing Partner of the tax preparation business, Tax Nation LLC, was chosen to speak. He mentioned his company by name and explained that they create marketing content based on “stories” and positive feedback from “happy customers.”

After Hughes made his point, a few other listeners chimed in to agree with how important his tip was.

Not only did Hughes offer valuable advice to participants, but he naturally mentioned his company and its happy customers without sounding like he was trying to plug his tax preparation product.

Start Scale Sail

In another room, titled “Scale Your Business With Digital Products,” entrepreneurs, marketers, and consultants shared tips for growing brands based on their experience,

For example, Natasha O’Banion, CEO of Start Scale Sail, a business automation and consulting firm, explained that she was a big fan of quiz content and added that her team’s successfully generated leads through interactive content.

Scale Your Business with Digital Products Clubhouse Room

Although O’Banion didn’t plug her company by name, her explanation of how she’s used quizzes in her own strategy led to questions and more discussion from other attendees. Because she gave valuable input, listeners with similar interests in digital lead generation might be interested in following her or even learning more about her brand.

4. Hosting informal chats

Because Clubhouse is all about discussion and authenticity, many brands have also tried to show their human side and seem more accessible to audiences by hosting informal chats with no obvious goal or topic. This method is more casual, and potentially less intimidating, for listeners who might not raise their hand to speak in a fireside chat with a full agenda.

Below is one example:

DRK Beauty

One brand that hosts inviting, casual rooms is DRK Beauty, a website and commerce platform for people of color, which regularly publishes content around mental health, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and culture.

At the end of each week, DRK’s team hosts “Weekly Wine Down” rooms aimed to feel like visiting a bar with colleagues or friends at the end of a long week.

While DRK rooms, often hosted by DRK Beauty CEO Wilma Mae Basta, don’t have a set topic or agenda, the team often introduces themselves as speakers, begins a casual conversation about whatever is on their minds, and allows other audience members to raise their hands and chime in at any time.

Weekly Wine Down description with hosts from DRK Beauty

While DRK Beauty rooms aren’t usually aimed to promote the brand’s site, DRK still enables its audience and prospective web visitors to learn about the people behind the company in a casual, authentic setting. This makes the brand seem accessible, authentic, and trustworthy, three things social media users value when researching brands in 2021.

The key to Clubhouse? Be human.

It’s key to remember that Clubhouse is all about authentic human connection, not branding or self-promotion.

While Clubhouse began as a platform where users could only hear from industry “elites,” the app’s now open to a wide range of creatives and every-day people who want to communicate or interact with others. Because of this, learning about a brand is likely not the first thing a user wants to do when logging on to the app.

Regardless of which strategy you use on Clubhouse, remember to embrace the human side of the app. For example, rather than hosting a room where you explain your brand or products to audiences, consider hosting a fireside chat with a thought leader in your industry or participate in a room that allows you to discuss your industry with others in it.

While focusing on natural conversation and valuable room participation won’t enable you to outright market your product all the time, leaning into the platform’s conversational and personal nature could help you grow a following that trusts your expertise — and eventually — your brand.

Want to learn more about the latest social media marketing trends? Check out the free resource below.

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YouTube Algorithm: The Constantly Updated Guide to YouTube’s Updates & Changes

Since marketers are at the mercy of algorithms on nearly every publishing channel, knowing how each of these unique algorithms work is crucial to attracting and maintaining an audience.

Luckily, while some channels are rather reserved about the secrets of their algorithms, YouTube, which boasts over 2 billion users, has been remarkably transparent. It launched a course for creators about getting discovered, walking them through the nitty-gritty details of increasing their visibility on the platform.

Naturally, we took the course to help you understand exactly how to boost your rankings on the video platform. Read on to learn what we discovered and how you can grow your audience on YouTube.

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

How does the YouTube algorithm work?

YouTube’s algorithm serves the most relevant, personalized videos to their users on five different sections of their platform: Search, Home, Suggested Videos, Trending, Subscriptions, and Notifications.

By helping users find the videos they’re most likely to watch and enjoy, YouTube can keep viewers on the platform for as long as possible and get them to visit their site regularly.

To figure out which videos and channels users are most likely to enjoy watching, YouTube “follows” their audience, which means they track their users’ engagement with each video they watch. More specifically, they pay attention to which videos each user watches and doesn’t watch, how much time they spend watching each video, which videos they like and dislike, and which videos they’re not interested in based on the user’s feedback.

Since their algorithm rewards engagement instead of vanity metrics like views and clicks, YouTube incentivizes creators to produce videos that their audience actually enjoys watching, discouraging them from trying to game the system.

But YouTube’s algorithm also uses different signals and metrics to rank and recommend videos on each section of their platform. With this in mind, let’s go over how the algorithm serves content via YouTube’s six main user categories: Search, Home, Suggested Videos, Trending, Subscriptions, and Notifications.

Search

The two biggest factors that affect your videos’ search rankings are keyword relevance and engagement metrics. When ranking videos in search, YouTube will consider how well your titles, descriptions, and content match each user’s queries. They’ll also consider how many videos users have watched from your channel and the last time they watched other videos surrounding the same topic as your video.YouTube search results page

Although the user’s history is important, YouTube also looks at “which videos have driven the most engagement for a query.” The Search section also offers sponsored ads related to the query.

Home

When users access the home page, they first see videos from their subscriptions, then suggested videos based on their previous watch history and the videos’ performance. While you may be tempted to try to snag a coveted spot on the page, YouTube encourages creators to simply create good content that people want to watch and click on.

YouTube home page with recommended videos

Suggested Videos

No two users will have the same experience on YouTube — they want to serve the most relevant, personalized recommendations to each of their viewers. To do this, they analyze users’ activity history and find hundreds of videos that could be relevant to them.

Then, they rank these videos based on 1) how well each video has engaged and satisfied similar users, 2) how often each viewer watches videos from each channel or other videos surrounding the same topic, and 3) how many times YouTube has already shown each video to users.

YouTube has also noticed users tend to watch more content when they receive recommendations from a variety of channels, so they like to diversify their suggested videos feed.

Trending

The trending page is a feed of new and popular videos in a user’s specific country. You’ll find it by heading to Explore on the sidebar, then clicking on Trending.

YouTube wants to balance popularity with novelty when they rank videos in this section, so they heavily consider view count and rate of view growth for each video they rank. They also split trending videos into four categories: “Now,” “Music,” “Gaming,” and “Movies.”

YouTube trending page with videos released 1 day ago

Subscriptions

YouTube has a subscriptions page where users can view all the recently uploaded videos from the channels they subscribe to. But this page isn’t the only benefit channels get when they acquire a ton of subscribers.

To determine rankings on their platform, YouTube uses a metric called view velocity, which measures the number of subscribers who watch your video right after it’s published. And the higher your video’s view velocity, the higher your videos will rank. YouTube also accounts for the number of active subscribers you have when they rank your videos.

YouTube subscriptions page with new videos from subscribed channels

Notifications

YouTube also delivers tailored videos to users through notifications. Users can opt to either receive no notifications from a channel, receive some notifications, or receive all notifications.

The only way to optimize for showing up in users’ notifications is to ask your subscribers to tap the bell button next to the subscribe button.

YouTube subscribe to notifications bell underneath a video

But how can you ask anyone to do that if you don’t yet have enough viewers and subscribers? By optimizing your videos for YouTube’s algorithm, you can grow your audience. Remember: it all comes down to creating good content that people want to watch.

How to Optimize Your Videos for YouTube’s Algorithm

YouTube ranks videos based on two qualities: keyword relevance and engagement metrics (which are used to measure a video’s performance).

Let’s take a look at both of these in more detail.

1. Keyword Relevance

To rank on YouTube, the first thing to consider is optimizing your videos and channel for popular search queries. To do this, place relevant keywords in your videos’ titles, tags, descriptions, SRT files (which are transcriptions), video files, and thumbnail files.

You should also check out the most popular queries guiding viewers to your videos, which you can find in YouTube’s Search Report. If these queries are slightly different from your video’s topic, consider updating your video to fill these content gaps and add the keywords to your metadata. If there’s a stark difference, consider making new videos about these popular queries.

2. Engagement Metrics

The next thing to consider when ranking on YouTube is optimizing your videos and channel for engagement. The key metric to consider here is watch time, or the aggregate amount of time users spend watching your videos.

To get people to watch in the first place, you need to attract users’ attention. And one of the best ways to instantly grab users’ attention is by creating vibrant thumbnails for each of your videos.

Thumbnails — the small, clickable snapshots that viewers see when they search for videos on YouTube — are just as important as a video’s title. They provide a preview of your video and entice viewers to click through. This can help you differentiate yourself on a platform clogged with standard thumbnails all screaming for attention.

To create a striking thumbnail, consider including a talking head because people are naturally drawn to human faces. Additionally, consider contrasting the colors of your thumbnail’s foreground and background to really make it pop.

Once you’ve attracted users’ attention, you can engage them by creating a bingeable series or show. You can also create playlists about a certain topic that start off with the videos that have the highest audience retention rate. This will increase the odds that users will watch most of the videos in your playlists, boosting your channel and videos’ watch time.

Another way to refine your overall video strategy is by measuring your videos’ performance against other engagement metrics, like average watch percentage, average view duration, audience retention, and average session duration. If you can figure out which topics and videos generate the most engagement, and you solely focus on creating those types of content, you’ll be able to shoot up in YouTube’s search results page and suggested videos feed.

Now that we’ve covered how the YouTube algorithm works and how you can optimize your videos for it, let’s take a look at how the algorithm has changed over the years.

YouTube Algorithm Change

Like the Google algorithm, the YouTube algorithm has changed over the years — albeit less frequently and without a dedicated name to each update. Knowing how the algorithm has changed is key to understanding the platform and optimizing your videos to rank.

2005 – 2012: Views

Before there was ever a “formal” YouTube algorithm, YouTube ranked videos by view count. If a video had been watched hundreds of thousands of times, it’d be suggested to everyone, regardless of their interest in the topic or genre of the video.

This was an easy system to cheat. Constantly refreshing the page was one method creators used to up the view count. Others used clickbait titles to get more clicks.

2012 – 2015: Watch Time

While watch time is still highly relevant to YouTube’s algorithm, it’s not the central piece. But it was from 2012 to 2015.

YouTube wants users to stay on the platform. As such, videos with long watch times were favored over others and placed on the home page. It signaled to YouTube that the video was worth watching and that it was providing a positive experience to users.

Creators tried to optimize for this change by creating extra long videos — or really short videos that users would watch from beginning to end. In response, YouTube began to focus on overall viewer satisfaction, including “measuring likes, dislikes, surveys, and time well spent” on each video.

2016: “Deep Learning” for Recommendations

Since there are millions of videos on the platform, YouTube found it challenging to recommend the most relevant and watch-worthy videos to individual users. Using a practice called “deep learning,” YouTube started to take a close look at the user’s history to generate candidates and rank those videos based on the user’s activity.

The “video corpus” goes through two funnels: a “candidate generation” and “ranking” funnel. First, YouTube examines the user’s history to create a pool of candidates, which are then sent through the “ranking” funnel.

YouTube deep learning funnel visualizing how users get tailored recommendations

Image Source

Once the videos reach the ranking funnel, they’re assigned a score and presented to the user from highest to lowest score. This is still a prominent part of the algorithm and likely the way we still get recommendations.

2017 – 2020: Removal of “Borderline Content”

On the How YouTube Works website, YouTube advertises the four Rs of the platform:

“We Remove content that violates our policies, Reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline material, Raise up authoritative sources for news and information, and Reward trusted Creators.”

While the four Rs have been in place since 2015, they were only used to deprioritize junk comments and launch a dedicated platform for the news industry. The four Rs became a more prominent part of the algorithm in 2017 when the platform redirected users seeking extremist propaganda, then in 2019 when the platform started to systematically remove content that “borderline” violates its Community Guidelines.

YouTube launched over 30 changes to diminish the promotion of videos spreading false and harmful misinformation. It also uses external evaluators to gauge whether a video qualifies as “borderline content” by using Google’s public guidelines.

Present: More Deep Learning and Tighter Control on Misinformation

YouTube has yet to announce any new changes to its algorithm, but we can assume that it continues using deep learning to personalize the user experience and continues upholding the four Rs to control the spread of misinformation.

Keep Track of the YouTube Algorithm to Succeed on the Platform

As the YouTube algorithm evolves, it’s important to keep track of its changes so that you know what does and doesn’t get promoted on the platform. If you’re a business or individual creator trying to grow an audience on YouTube, be sure to optimize your videos for the algorithm so that your channel wins a loyal list of subscribers.

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

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How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide [+ Free Blog Post Templates]

Since you’re on this page, you probably already know how integral the process of blogging is to the success of your marketing efforts. Which is why it goes without saying that it’s exceptionally important to learn how to effectively start and manage a blog in a way that supports your business.

Without a blog, you’ll find yourself experiencing a number of problems such as poor search engine optimization (SEO), lack of promotional content for social, little clout with your leads and customers, and fewer pages that you can use to share lead-generating calls-to-action (CTAs).

So why, oh why, do so many marketers still have a laundry list of excuses for why they can’t maintain a blog?

→ Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post Templates

Maybe because, unless you enjoy writing, business blogging might seem uninteresting, time consuming, and difficult.

Well, the time for excuses is over and this guide is here to help you understand why. We’ll cover how to write and manage your business’s blog as well as provide helpful templates to simplify your blogging efforts.

Let’s get started with an important question.

Blog posts allow you and your business to publish insights, thoughts, and stories on your website about any topic. They can help you boost brand awareness, credibility, conversions, and revenue. Most importantly, they can help you drive traffic to your website.

Today, people and organizations of all walks of life manage blogs to share analyses, instruction, criticisms, product information, industry findings, and more. There are many popular blog formats, but here are six of the most common:

  • The “How-To” Post
  • The List-Based Post
  • The “What Is” Post
  • The Pillar Page Post (“Ultimate Guide”)
  • The Newsjacking Post
  • The Infographic Post

Save time and download six blog post templates for free.

So, how do you ensure your blog post catches the eyes of your target audience, buyer personas, and customers?

What makes a good blog post?

Before you write a blog, make sure you know the answers to questions like, “Why would someone keep reading this entire blog post?” and “What makes our audience come back for more?”

To start, a good blog post is interesting and educational. Blogs should answer questions and help readers resolve a challenge they’re experiencing — and you have to do so in an interesting way.

It’s not enough just to answer someone’s questions — you also have to provide actionable steps while being engaging. For instance, your introduction should hook the reader and make them want to continue reading your post. Then, use examples to keep your readers interested in what you have to say.

Remember, a good blog post is interesting to read and provides educational content to audience members.

(Want to learn how to apply blogging and other forms of content marketing to your business? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing course.)

So, how do you actually go about writing one of these engaging and informational pieces?

How to Write a Blog Post

Here are the steps you’ll want to follow while writing a blog post.

1. Understand your audience.

Before you start writing your blog post, make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience.

Ask questions like: What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?

This is where the process of creating buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.

For instance, if your readers are millennials looking to start a business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them already have that down.

You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their social media approach (for example — from what may be a casual, personal approach to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach). That kind of tweak is what helps you publish content about the topics your audience really wants and needs.

Don’t have buyer personas in place for your business? Here are a few resources to help you get started:

2. Create your blog domain.

Next, you’ll need a place to host this post and every other blog post you write. This requires choosing a content management system (CMS) and a website domain hosting service.

Choose a CMS.

A CMS helps you create a website domain where you’ll actually publish your blog. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).

HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on a hosting site such as WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.

Register a domain or subdomain with a website host.

Your blog’s domain will look like this: www.yourblog.com. The name between the two periods is up to you, as long as this domain name doesn’t yet exist on the internet.

Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.

Some CMS platforms offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to your company website, register the subdomain with a website host.

Most website hosting services charge very little to host an original domain — in fact, website costs can be as inexpensive as $3 per month when you commit to a 36-month term.

Here are five popular web hosting services to choose from:

3. Customize your blog’s theme.

Once you have your domain name set up, customize the appearance of your blog to reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating and your brand.

For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment, green might be a color to keep in mind while designing your blog.

If you already manage a website and are writing the first post for that existing website, ensure the article is consistent with the website in appearance and subject matter. Two ways to do this are including your:

  • Logo: This can be your business’s name and logo — it will remind blog readers of who’s publishing the content. (How heavily you want to brand your blog, however, is up to you.)
  • “About” Page: You might already have an “About” blurb describing yourself or your business. Your blog’s “About” section is an extension of this higher-level statement. Think of it as your blog’s mission statement, which serves to support your company’s goals.

4. Identify your first blog post’s topic.

Before you write anything, pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start. For example, if you’re a company that sells a CRM for small-to-enterprise businesses, your post might be about the importance of using a single software to keep your marketing, sales, and service teams aligned.

Pro tip: You may not want to jump into a “how-to” article for your first blog post.

Why?

Your credibility hasn’t been established yet. Before teaching others how to do something, you’ll first want to show that you’re a leader in your field and an authoritative source.

For instance, if you’re a plumber writing your first post, you won’t yet write a post titled “How to Replace the Piping System in your Bathroom.” First, you’d write about modern faucet setups, or tell a particular success story you had rescuing a faucet before it flooded a customer’s house. Here are four other types of blog posts you could start with:

  • List (“Listicle”): 5 ways to fix a leaky faucet
  • Curated Collection: 10 faucet and sink brands to consider today
  • SlideShare Presentation: 5 types of faucets to replace your old one (with pictures)
  • News Piece: New study shows X% of people don’t replace their faucet frequently enough

If you’re having trouble coming up with topic ideas, a good topic brainstorming session should help. In the post I’ve linked, my colleague walks you through a helpful process for turning one idea into many. Similar to the “leaky faucet” examples above, you would “iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.”

This can be done by:

  • Changing the topic scope
  • Adjusting your time frame
  • Choosing a new audience
  • Taking a positive/negative approach
  • Introducing a new format

5. Come up with a working title.

You might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing.

For example, you may decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.

Let’s take a real post as an example: “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”

Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”

See that evolution from topic, to working title, to final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than a generic, overwhelming topic.

6. Write an intro (and make it captivating).

We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post “How to Write an Introduction,” but let’s review, shall we?

First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they’ll stop reading (even before they’ve given your post a fair shake). You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.

Then, describe the purpose of your post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be experiencing. This will give the reader a reason to continue reading and show them how the post will help them improve their work or lives.

Here’s an example of an intro we think does a good job of attracting a reader’s attention right away:

“Blink. Blink. Blink. It’s the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience that all writers — amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced — know and dread. And of all times for it to occur, it seems to plague us the most when trying to write an introduction.”

7. Organize your content in an outline.

Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information — for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info in a way so readers aren’t intimidated by length or amount of content. This organization can take multiple forms — sections, lists, tips — whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!

Featured Resource: 6 Free Blog Post Templates

Free Blog Post Templates

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Let’s take a look at the post, “How to Use Snapchat: A Detailed Look Into HubSpot’s Snapchat Strategy.” There’s a lot of content in the piece, so it’s broken up into a few sections using descriptive headers. The major sections are separated into subsections that go into more detail, making the content easier to read.

To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. This way, before you start writing, you’ll know which points you want to cover and the best order to do so in. And to make things even easier, you can download and use our free blog post templates, which are pre-organized for six of the most common blogs. Just fill in the blanks!

8. Write your blog post!

The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. We can’t forget about that, of course.

Now that you have your outline or template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and expand on all points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, conduct additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, while providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources. When you do, always try to find accurate and compelling data to use in your post.

If you’re having trouble stringing sentences together, you’re not alone. Finding your “flow” can be challenging for a lot of folks. Luckily, there are a ton of tools you can lean on to help you improve your writing. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Power Thesaurus: Stuck on a word? Power Thesaurus is a crowdsourced tool that provides users with a number of alternative word choices from a community of writers.
  • ZenPen: If you’re having trouble staying focused, check out this distraction-free writing tool. ZenPen creates a minimalist “writing zone” designed to help you get words down without having to fuss with formatting right away.
  • Cliché Finder: Feeling like your writing might be coming off a little cheesy? Identify instances where you can be more specific using this handy cliché tool.

You can also refer to our complete list of tools for improving your writing skills. And if you’re looking for more direction, the following resources are chock-full of valuable writing advice:

9. Proofread and edit your post.

You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging — don’t overlook it.

Ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copyedit and proofread your post. You may also consider enlisting the help of The Ultimate Editing Checklist or using a free grammar checker like Grammarly.

If you’re looking to brush up on your self-editing skills, turn to these helpful posts for some tips and tricks to get you started:

When you’re ready to check your formatting, keep the blog elements in mind:

Featured Image

Choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content.

Blog post with a featured image to the right

For help selecting an image for your post, read “How to Select the Perfect Image for Your Next Blog Post” and pay close attention to the section about copyright law.

Visual Appearance

No one likes an unattractive blog post. And it’s not just pictures that make a post visually appealing — it’s the formatting and organization of the post, too.

In a well-formatted and visually-appealing blog post, you’ll notice that header and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text — and those headers are styled consistently.

Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Visual appearance tips on writing a blog.

Screenshots should always have a similar, defined border so they don’t appear as if they’re floating in space — that style should stay consistent from post to post.

Maintaining this consistency makes your content look more professional and easier on the eyes.

Topics and Tags

Tags are specific, public-facing keywords that describe a post. They also allow readers to browse for more content in the same category on your blog. Refrain from adding a laundry list of tags to each post. Instead, put some thought into a blog tagging strategy.

Think of tags as “topics” or “categories,” and choose 10-20 tags that represent all the main topics you want to cover on your blog. Then stick to those.

10. Insert a CTA.

At the end of every blog post, insert a CTA that indicates what you want the reader to do next — subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc.

After your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. But the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content — use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading. If you’re not sure how to get started, take a look at some CTA examples.

In the blog post “What to Post on Instagram: 18 Photo & Video Ideas to Spark Inspiration,” readers are given actionable ideas for creating valuable Instagram content. At the end of the post is a CTA prompting readers to take a social media certification course:

Blog post about Instagram with a CTA at the bottom of the post

See how that’s a win-win for everyone? Readers who want to learn more have the opportunity to do so, and the business receives a lead they can nurture … who may even become a customer!

11. Optimize for on-page SEO.

After you finish writing, go back and optimize the on-page elements of your post.

Don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won’t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density — Google’s smarter than that!

Here’s a little blog SEO reminder about what you should review and optimize:

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are the descriptions below the post’s page title on Google’s search results pages. They provide searchers with a short summary of the post before clicking into it. They are ideally between 150-160 characters and start with a verb, such as “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.”

While meta descriptions no longer factor into Google’s keyword ranking algorithm, they give searchers a snapshot of what they’ll get from reading the post and help improve your clickthrough rate from search.

Page Title and Headers

Most blogging software uses your post title as your page title, which is the most important on-page SEO element at your disposal. But if you’ve followed our formula so far, you should already have a working title that will naturally include keywords or phrases your target audience is interested in.

Don’t over-complicate your title by trying to fit in keywords where they don’t naturally belong. With that said, if there are clear opportunities to add keywords you’re targeting to your post title and headers, feel free to take them. Also, try to keep your headlines short — ideally, under 65 characters — so they don’t get truncated in the search engine results.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the word or words that link to another page — either on your website or on another website. Carefully select which keywords you want to link to other pages on your site because search engines take that into consideration when ranking your page for certain keywords.

It’s also important to consider which pages you link to. Consider linking pages that you want to rank for a specific keyword. You could end up getting it to rank on Google’s first page of results instead of its second page — and that isn’t small potatoes!

Mobile Optimization

More than 60% of organic visits are carried out on a mobile device. As such, having a website with a responsive design is critical. In addition to making sure your website’s visitors (including your blog’s visitors) have the best experience possible, optimizing for mobile will score your website some SEO points.

12. Pick a catchy title.

Last but not least, it’s time to spruce up that working title of yours. Luckily, we have a simple formula for writing catchy titles that will grab the attention of your reader. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Start with your working title.
  2. As you start to edit your title, keep in mind that it’s important to keep the title accurate and clear.
  3. Then, work on making your title sexy — whether it’s through strong language, alliteration, or another literary tactic.
  4. If you can, optimize for SEO by sneaking some keywords in there (only if it’s natural, though!).
  5. Finally, see if you can shorten it at all. No one likes a long, overwhelming title — remember, Google prefers 65 characters or fewer before it truncates it on its search engine results pages.

Let’s summarize everything we’ve learned.

Visual overview of how to write a blog post with all the previous steps listed

If you’ve mastered the steps above, learn about some ways to take your blog posts to the next level.

By now, you should know who you’re writing for, have a blog all set up, and understand the basics of writing a blog post. While it’s easy to understand the practicalities of writing a post, it’s difficult to get started on your very first article.

Let’s go through the process of writing your first blog post.

Your First Blog Post: Choosing a Topic, Writing the Post, and Actually Getting Hits

You’ve got the technical and practical tidbits down — now it’s time to write your very first blog post. And nope, this isn’t the space to introduce yourself and your new blog (i.e. “Welcome to my blog! This is the topic I’ll be covering. Here are my social media handles. Will you please follow?”).

We’ve briefly touched upon it in the previous section, but your first blog post shouldn’t be a how-to guide. Remember: you’ve yet to establish authority in the field. You should instead start with “low-hanging fruit,” writing about a highly specific topic that serves a small segment of your target audience.

That seems unintuitive, right? If more people are searching for a term or a topic, that should mean more readers for you.

But that’s not true. If you choose a general and highly searched topic that’s been covered by major competitors or more established brands, it’s unlikely that your post will rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). Give your newly born blog a chance by choosing a topic that few bloggers have written about.

TLDR; Your first post should cover a niche, low-volume topic. As you write more and more on your blog and establish topical authority, you can begin to cover more highly-searched keywords.

Let’s walk through this process.

1. Find a low-volume topic.

The first step is to find a topic with low searches in Google (we recommend sticking to about 10 to 150 monthly searches). These topics offer less competition and should therefore allow your new blog post to rank more easily.

To choose a topic, you can either do a traditional brainstorming session or carry out keyword research. We suggest the latter because you can actually see how many people are looking for that topic.

Now, don’t be intimidated by the term “keyword research.” It’s not just for marketers, but for new bloggers, too. And it’s really easy to do.

To jumpstart your keyword research, first begin by identifying the general topic of your blog.

Say you’re a plumber. Your general, high-level topic might be “plumbing” (67K monthly searches).

Next, put this term into a keyword research tool such as:

When you run this term through the tool, a list of related keywords will appear. Scan the list and choose one with a lower search volume. For this example, we’ll use “under sink plumbing” (1.4K monthly searches).

Run that keyword in the keyword research tool again. Look at the related keywords. Find one with a lower search volume. Do that again.

For this example, we’ll settle on “plumbing problems under kitchen sink” (10 monthly searches). That’s the topic for our first post.

TLDR; Choose a low-volume, low-competition keyword that will ensure your first post ranks.

For more help on keyword research, here are more resources you can use:

2. Google the term to double-check search intent.

You’ve got your topic — now, double-check that the user’s search intent would be fulfilled by a blog post.

What does that mean?

If someone is looking for “plumbing problems under kitchen sink,” they might be looking for a tutorial, a diagram, an article, or a product that can fix the issue. If they’re looking for the first three, you’re good — that can be covered in a blog post. A product, however, is different, and your blog post won’t rank.

How do you double-check search intent?

Google the term and look at the results. If other articles and blog posts rank for that term, you’re good to go. If you only find product pages or listicles from major publications, then find a new topic to cover in your first post.

Consider the term “under sink plumbing bathroom” (30 monthly searches). It seemed like a perfect fit because it had low monthly searches.

Upon Googling the term, we found product carousels, product pages from Home Depot and Lowes, and guides written by major publications. (You’ll also want to avoid topics that have been covered by major publications, at least for now.)

TLDR; Before writing your first blog post about a low-volume topic, double-check the user intent by Googling the keyword. Also, don’t forget to take a look at who’s written about that topic so far. If you see a major brand, consider writing about another topic.

3. Find questions and terms related to that topic.

You’ve got a highly unique topic that’s been covered by just a few people so far. It’s time to flesh it out by covering related or adjacent topics.

Use the following tools:

  • Answer the Public: When you place your keyword into this tool, it will give you a list of questions related to that term.
  • Google: Google is your best friend. Search for the term and look under “People also ask” and “People also search for.” Be sure to touch upon those topics in the post.

You can also use these keyword research tools we mentioned above in step one

5. Outline and write the post.

Now, it’s time to outline and write your first post!

With your niche topic and related questions as guideposts, you can now write a post that’s highly relevant to your niche and doesn’t have as much competition.

Use the how-to guide we shared in the previous section to help you write a great first post.

Don’t forget to:

  • Hit at least 1,000 words. It’s been proven time and again that longer posts rank better.
  • Put your target keyword in the title. Remember that niche topic we chose in step one? Try to work it into your title naturally.
  • Include at least two H2s with related search terms. Remember those related topics we found in step three? Use them as H2s to build the topical authority of your piece.

6. Promote your first post via outreach.

As a new blogger, you likely don’t have a social media following yet. The solution? Build a few backlinks to the post to get it off the ground.

Backlinks are a major ranking factor, but you don’t want to use black-hat methods such as spamming the comment sections in other blogs. Instead, reach out to people and let them know this new resource exists so they can link to your post.

If you’re a plumber, for example, you might reach out to your local plumber’s association. Here are more blog post promotion resources:

First Blog Post Ideas

Stuck? Let’s take a look at some first blog post ideas.

The Difference Between [Niche Topic] and [Niche Topic], Explained by a [Niche Expert]
  • The Difference Between SEM and SEO, Explained by a Marketing Expert
  • The Difference Between Sedans and Coupes, Explained by a Car Mechanic
  • The Difference Between Baking and Broiling, Explained by a Professional Baker
The 10 Best and Worst [Niche Tool] for [Niche Activity]
  • The 10 Best and Worst Writing Software for Fiction Writing
  • The 10 Best and Worst CRMs for Nurturing Prospects
  • The 10 Best and Worst Family Cars for Cross-Country Roadtrips
8 [Niche Activity] Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
  • 8 Non-Fiction Writing Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
  • 8 Salmon Broiling Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
  • 8 Car Maintenance Common Mistakes (+ Ways to Fix Them)
9 Proven Tips for [Niche Activity]
  • 9 Proven Tips for Checking Plumbing Problems under Your Kitchen Sink
  • 9 Proven Tips for Writing a Non-Fiction Bestseller
  • 9 Proven Tips for Doing DIY Car Maintenance
Why We/I Switched from [Niche Tool] to [Niche Tool] (Comparison)
  • Why We Switched from Pipedrive to HubSpot (Comparison)
  • Why I Switched from Microsoft Word to Scrivener (Comparison)
  • Why We Switched from iMacs to Surface Studio (Comparison)
[Niche Tool] vs [Niche Tool]: Which [Tool] is Best for You?
  • Zendesk vs Freshcaller: Which Call Software is Best for You?
  • Air Fryer vs Convection Oven: Which One is Best for You?
  • Mazda Miata vs Toyota Supra: Which Sports Car is Best for You?
The Ultimate Roundup of [Niche Activity] Tips and Tricks
  • The Ultimate Roundup of Novel Writing Tips and Tricks
  • The Ultimate Roundup of Macaroon Baking Tips and Tricks
  • The Ultimate Roundup of Solo Traveling Tips and Tricks

Want some real examples of blog posts? See what your first blog post can look like based on the topic you choose and the audience you’re targeting.

1. List-Based Blog Post

List-Based Post Example: 17 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid in 2021, According to HubSpot Bloggers

List based blog post example about blogging mistakes

List-based posts are sometimes called “listicles,” a mix of the words “list” and “article.” These are articles that deliver information in the form of a list. A listicle uses sub-headers to break down the blog post into individual pieces, helping readers skim and digest your content more easily.

As you can see in the example from our blog, listicles can offer various tips and methods for solving a problem.

2. Thought Leadership Post

Example: How HubSpot’s Customers Are Shaping the Next Normal

Thought leadership blog post example about HubSpot's customers

Thought leadership posts allow you to share your expertise on a particular subject matter and share firsthand knowledge with your readers.

These pieces — which can be written in the first person, like the post shown above — help you build trust with your audience so people take your blog seriously as you continue to write for it.

3. Curated Collection Post

Example: 8 Examples of Evolution in Action

Curated collection blog post example about evolution

Curated collections are a special type of listicle blog post. Rather than sharing tips or methods for doing something, this type of blog post shares a list of real examples that all have something in common in order to prove a larger point.

In the example post above, Listverse shares eight real examples of evolution in action among eight different animals — starting with the peppered moth.

4. SlideShare Presentation

Example: The HubSpot Culture Code

Slideshare presentation blog post example about HubSpot's culture code

SlideShare is a presentation tool that helps publishers package a lot of information into easily shareable slides. Think of it like a PowerPoint, but for the web. With this in mind, SlideShare blog posts help you promote your SlideShare so that it can generate a steady stream of visitors.

Unlike blogs, SlideShare decks don’t often rank well on search engines, so they need a platform for getting their message out there to the people who are looking for it. By embedding and summarizing your SlideShare on a blog post, you can share a great deal of information and give it a chance to rank on Google at the same time.

Need some SlideShare ideas? In the example above, we turned our company’s “Culture Code” into a SlideShare presentation that anyone can look through and take lessons from, and then promoted it in a blog post.

5. Newsjacking Post

Example: Ivy Goes Mobile With New App for Designers

Newsjack blog post by Houzz on news of a mobile app launch

“Newsjacking” is a nickname for “hijacking” your blog to break important news related to your industry. Therefore, the newsjack post is a type of article whose sole purpose is to garner consumers’ attention and, while offering them timeless professional advice, prove your blog is a trusted resource for learning about the big things that happen in your industry.

The newsjack example above was published by Houzz, a home decor merchant and interior design resource, about a new mobile app that launched just for interior designers. Houzz didn’t launch the app, but the news of its launching is no less important to Houzz’s audience.

6. Infographic Post

Example: The Key Benefits of Studying Online [Infographic]

Infographic blog post example - close-up of the infographicThe infographic post serves a similar purpose as the SlideShare post — the fourth example, explained above — in that it conveys information for which plain blog copy might not be the best format.

For example, when you’re looking to share a lot of statistical information (without boring or confusing your readers), building this data into a well-designed, even engaging infographic can keep your readers engaged with your content. It also helps readers remember the information long after they leave your website.

7. How-to Post

Example: How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide

For this example, you need not look any further than the blog post you’re reading right now! How-to guides like this one help solve a problem for your readers. They’re like a cookbook for your industry, walking your audience through a project step by step to improve their literacy on the subject.

The more posts like this you create, the more equipped your readers will be to work with you and invest in the services you offer.

8. Guest Post

Example: Your Bookmarkable Guide to Social Media Image Sizes in 2020 [Infographic]

Guest post example about social media sizesGuest posts are a type of blog post that you can use to include other voices on your blog. For example, if you want to get an outside expert’s opinion on a topic, a guest post is perfect for that.

Additionally, these posts give your blog variety in topic and viewpoint. If your customer has a problem you can’t solve, a guest post is a great solution.

If you begin accepting guest posts, set up editorial guidelines to ensure they’re up to the same standards as your posts.

Ready to blog?

Blogging can help you build brand awareness, become a thought-leader and expert in your industry, attract qualified leads, and boost conversions. Follow the steps and tips we covered above to begin publishing and enhancing your blog today.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


19 Best Practices for Webinars or Webcasts

Webinars are a highly effective tool for moving prospects along the sales funnel.

After you’ve loaded them with product and industry knowledge, your prospects become warm leads who can then have fruitful conversations with your sales team. But here’s the thing: the content and execution of the webinar affect prospects’ experience and will impact the quality of the leads you generate.

If the information is misaligned with your prospects’ needs, you risk deterring them from doing further business with you. If the webinar is boring or too long, you may lose prospects before you deliver your final product pitch at the end.

If you don’t place the appropriate calls-to-action at the right time, you may not get enough attendees or fail to prove the ROI to your company’s leadership team.

When creating a webinar, the stakes are high. That’s why using a webinar planning list and following best practices is essential. Below, I go over the best practices for creating webinar invites and share top tips for hosting webcasts.

Download Now: Free Webinar Planning Kit

Webinar Invite Best Practices

In some ways, inviting people to come to your webinar is the toughest part.

Typically, you’ll send a formal invitation over email. You can promote the webinar via your company’s social media profiles, your LinkedIn, your website, and even your blog — but the webinar invite will be delivered over email.

With this email, you have one goal: to communicate your event’s value so that prospects have no choice but to sign up.

Let’s go over how you can do that.

1. Create a short sentence with your value proposition.

Before ever sitting down to write your webinar invitation email, you should sum up what your attendees will get out of your event in one short sentence. This will be your guidepost as you write the invitation.

2. Craft a subject line that shows the value of the event.

Next, it’s time to write a subject line that showcases the skills and tools attendees will walk away with. Don’t forget to include the word “webinar” in the subject line.

Here are some good examples:

  • [Webinar] Grow Your Brand 3X with This Proven Method by [Industry Leader]
  • [Webinar] Learn How to Close More Deals with [Industry Leader]
  • [Webinar] Want Your Company to Become the Next Apple?

Here are some so-so webinar subject lines you should avoid using:

  • You’re Invited to a Can’t-Miss Customer Service Webinar
  • Come to Our Marketing Webinar on February 15
  • Don’t Miss Our Next Webinar About Social Media Strategies

3. Include an engaging banner image.

Your banner image should include the title of the webinar and a clear call-to-action. You could also include the date and time, but that’s optional. Keep it light on text.

Here’s an excellent example from Elementor, a WordPress plugin.

Elementor webinar invite header

This is a great example because it features high-contrast lettering and the word “webinar” in the upper right-hand corner. Most importantly, it has a call-to-action button that says “Save Your Seat.” Every webinar invite should include a CTA.

4. Include a header that makes your event’s value clear.

In an email, the header acts as a title that comes right after the banner. The header can be the title of your webinar or be the same as the subject line. Either way, it should communicate the value of the event. What will people learn? How will they grow?

Your invitees should immediately be able to tell based on the header alone.

Here are some great examples:

  • Webinar: Learn How to Boost Sales with 5 Simple Tricks
  • Want to Double Your Organic Traffic? Find Out How in This Webinar
  • These Proven Strategies Will Triple Your Conversion Rates

Here are some so-so examples:

  • Join Our SEO Webinar on May 15th
  • Sales Training Seminar by [Company]
  • Leadership Innovation Summit with [Industry Leader]

5. Include a brief description of the event.

Right after the header, include two to three sentences describing the event. The description should briefly outline a challenge and establish the insights and tips that will help attendees surmount those challenges. Alternatively, you can identify a goal, then tell attendees how the webinar will help them achieve those goals.

Remember: value is the name of the game here. People won’t spend an hour on just anything, so make it clear why your webinar is worth their while.

Here’s a great example from HubSpot:

“Creating an outstanding customer journey is a challenge felt by many marketing, sales, and customer service teams. A great experience is always the end goal, but the path to success isn’t always clear. On March 2nd, join CX Spotlight and learn how to better market, sell, and service your audience.”

This example is great because it tells attendees, in no uncertain terms, the insights they’ll walk away with.

Here’s a so-so example:

“Come to our exclusive webinar on February 5th, where we discuss everything in the industry, including email marketing, SEO, and social media. Your host, XYZ, is an industry veteran with 20 years of experience. The presentation will cover key topics and trends happening in marketing today. Don’t miss it.”

This is a poor example because of three reasons. First, it’s too general; second, it doesn’t identify a challenge or a goal (such as growing organic traffic or creating a great customer experience); and third, it doesn’t tell attendees the skills they’ll gain from the event.

6. Include a list of bullet points telling people what they’ll learn.

Now that you’ve provided an overview of the event, feel free to include more detail about what attendees will learn throughout the webinar.

Here’s a great example from HubSpot:

“In this webinar, we’re focusing on the data that really matters when it comes to business growth. Our panel will discuss:

  • What info you should be gathering across your web, chat, and email assets
  • How to stay organized with this new influx of data
  • Best practices for personalizing the buying experience”

Notice how the bullet points address the attendee directly, telling them what they’ll learn and how they can apply it in their role.

7. Seal the deal with a call-to-action button.

All throughout the email, you’ve constantly communicated the value of your event. Now, it’s time to invite your prospects to sign up with a clear, high-contrast call-to-action button.

Consider using the following phrases:

  • Save your seat
  • Register now
  • Register today
  • Claim your spot

Now that you know the best practices for webinar invites, let’s go over best practices for running your webinar. Use this webinar planning kit to make sure you’re following all the steps.

Featured Resource: Webinar Planning Kit

The Ultimate Webinar Planning Kit

Download Your Free Kit Now

1. Schedule your webinar for 60 minutes.

How long should your webinar be? The answer is one hour. It’s a well-known fact that 60 minutes is the optimal length of a webinar, with the average viewing time being 56 minutes (ON24).

2. Host it on Wednesday or Thursday at 10 AM or 11 AM.

Both ON24 and GoToWebinar report that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to deliver your event. As far as time, 10 AM and 11 AM have long been established as top performers in both attendee engagement and attendance rates.

3. Send reminder emails.

Leading up to the webinar, send a reminder email twice — one day before the event and one hour before the event. Your webinar platform should also offer the option to automatically send these reminders to those who’ve signed up.

4. Practice accessing the webinar with a teammate.

Two days before the webinar, have someone on your team access the event link to make sure it’s working for participants. Have this person send you a question, raise their hand, show you what the presentation looks like on the other end, and interact with the webinar interface.

5. Establish proceedings for the Q&A section.

Let the audience know in the introduction how you’ll be answering their questions — whether you’ll respond to select questions at the end or answer them as you go. Our recommendation is to schedule 15 minutes at the end for questions.

6. Move slowly through product demonstrations.

When doing a demo or showing software, try not to move too quickly or scroll up and down a web page too quickly. It might take 2 to 5 seconds every time you change your screen for everyone to see the change.

7. Create a clear stop to the presentation.

Have a definitive “stop” to the core material at around 50 to 55 minutes. It’s okay to extend beyond the end time as long as the “officially scheduled program” has a clean end, and those who need to leave can leave.

8. Keep your desktop and digital workspace clean.

Close all unnecessary applications, especially your email clients, file browser, and web browser. If possible, carry out the webinar on a separate desktop (both macOS and Windows OS allow you to create another desktop). You do not want any personal or confidential info displayed, and you just don’t want to interrupt the webinar with any notifications that pop up.

9. Start 2 minutes after the hour.

This gives people time to call in, but does not make those on time wait too long. It is tempting as a presenter to wait for more people to join, but the max you should wait is 2 minutes.

10. Enter the webinar room early.

Enter the event at least 15 minutes early. That will give you time to prepare, troubleshoot any issues, and double-check that your microphone and camera are working.

11. Use pre-webinar slides and announcements.

Put up a slide that introduces you and your company. Show links to your website, social media, and other pertinent sites.

12. Send out a recording and the slides to attendees (with a call-to-action).

Do this within 24 hours, and tell them during the webinar you will do this. A fast follow-up encourages attendees to continue engaging with your company (or convert) while the webinar is still on their mind. This follow-up should contain a clear call-to-action button.

Use Webinar Best Practices to Host a Great Webinar

Hosting a webinar is proven to be a great return on investment. By following the best practices we’ve shared in this post, you can make sure your event drives lead generation, establishes your brand as an authority, and grows your revenue.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2007 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to (Easily) Make Perfect Content Calendars in Google Sheets

What do you use spreadsheets for?

If you’re anything like me, you likely use them to collect data, track campaign or blog post analytics, or keep track of weekly assignments.

But have you ever thought about using spreadsheets to make a calendar?

And, more specifically, have you ever thought about using Google Sheets to make a functional calendar?

Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar Template

If you often work on campaigns for a few different clients, creating individual calendars in Google Sheets could be uniquely useful for ensuring the client understands when certain content will go live. Alternatively, perhaps you need to create an internal Google Sheet calendar for your team to keep track of upcoming projects.

Making a calendar in a tool that’s commonly used for spreadsheets sounds a little intimidating, but don’t worry, the process is actually pretty intuitive. And with the help of some tips, you can easily make a functional calendar that you can sync your schedule with.

Below, we’ll go over how to make a calendar in Google Sheets and include some tips that’ll help you elevate the design. At the end, your calendar will look something like this:

Google Sheets calendar January to May

So start a new spreadsheet and get ready to create your very own calendar. 📅

1. Open a new spreadsheet and choose your month.

First, open a new spreadsheet. Then, delete columns H — Z. They won’t be needed.

Then, choose your month. For this example, I decided to do January 2021, so I filled that into the first cell. What’s great about Google Sheets is that it automatically recognizes dates, so typing in a month, followed by the year in YYYY format will tell Google that you’re going to be working with dates.

2. Begin to format your calendar.

Next, format your calendar. I selected the text, January 2021, in Column A, Row 1. I highlighted seven columns (A-G), and clicked Merge to make that cell span across the entire column. You can find this button to the right of the Fill tool.

Formatting the January title in a Google Sheets calendar

Here, I also center-aligned my text using the tool next to Merge. Then, I increased the font size and bolded the month.

3. Use a formula to fill in the days of the week.

Next, fill in the days of the week in each column (A-G). You can do this manually but I decided to use a formula. Sheets has a function that lets you type in formulas to complete certain actions at once.

To fill in days of the week, in the cell where you want your first weekday to be, type: =TEXT(1, “DDDD”). What this tells Google is that your number will be replaced by a date or time and the format you’re using is weekdays.

Entering the weekday formula in a Google Sheets calendar

Highlight the number 1 in the formula and replace it with: COLUMN(). Then, press enter and select your first day. You’re going to copy the formula in Sunday’s cell by dragging the selector to the end of your row, (A-G), and pressing enter again.

Filling in the weekdays in a Google Sheets calendar

Pressing enter should automatically fill in the rest of the week. Remember, if this doesn’t work for you, you can always fill in the days manually.

Pressing enter should automatically fill in the rest of the week. Remember, if this doesn’t work for you, you can always fill in the days manually.

4. Fill in the numbers.

Excellent! You have your days of the week. Now we’re going to fill in the numerical values. Before this step, I took the time to add color to the days row and changed the font to one I liked a little more.

For the numerical values, we’ll simply identify the first day of the month and click and drag to fill in the rest.

How?

Place the number 1 on the box right underneath the first day of the month, the click and drag horizontally.

Filling in the day numbers in a Google Sheets calendar

5. Fill in the rest of the numbers.

Note: In this step, I filled in the calendar numbers every other row to help with my formatting later.

Now that you’ve filled out your first row, it’s time to fill in the rest. Manually insert the next number under “Sunday,” then click and drag horizontally to fill in the rest.

Filling in the rest of the numbers in a Google Sheets calendar

Repeat the process for the next rows. You’ll insert the first number manually, the click and drag down the row. Here’s what that looks like for the next row in January.

Filling in the next row of day numbers in a Google Sheets calendar

Note: Make sure to end the month on the right number! For January, that would be the 31st.

6. Reformat your calendar if necessary.

Everything is starting to look like a calendar, right? At this stage, I reformatted things to clean up the look of my calendar a little.

Remember those extra rows in between the numbered rows? I expanded those rows to create boxes underneath the numbers. To do this, I simply dragged the rows down to make those cells bigger. Expanding the cells in a Google Sheets calendar

Here are some additional formatting tips:

  • Select the empty rows underneath your numbers and center them using the center text alignment tool.
  • Select your entire calendar and vertically align all elements so that they’re in the center of their cells. To do this, use the vertical alignment tool.
  • Bold your day numbers.
  • If desired, lightly shade your numbered rows.
  • If desired, gray out the Saturday and Sunday columns so that your workdays stand out.

7. Add design elements to professionalize the look.

Finally, you can add in some fun design elements to personalize the look and feel of your calendar. If it’s for a client or upcoming project, you’ll want to incorporate necessary launch days here.

Completed Google Sheets calendar

For this step, I added in a few fun images, included a few hypothetical calendar events, and played with font sizes.

8. Repeat the process from February to December.

It’s time to repeat for the month of February to December. Simply duplicate your January calendar once you’ve designed it how you want it to look. To do this, right click the sheet’s tab and select Duplicate from the menu.

Duplicate tab option in Google Sheets To fill in the numbers, you’ll only need to know the beginning day, then click and drag to fill in the rest of the rows. Here are the first days for every month for the year 2021:

  • January: Friday
  • February: Monday
  • March: Monday
  • April: Thursday
  • May: Saturday
  • June: Tuesday
  • July: Thursday
  • August: Sunday
  • September: Wednesday
  • October: Friday
  • November: Monday
  • December: Wednesday

Next, you’ll want to know how many days you’ll need to fill in. Here are the number of days you’ll need for each month:

  • January: 31
  • February: 28 or 29
  • March: 31
  • April: 30
  • May: 31
  • June: 30
  • July: 31
  • August: 31
  • September: 30
  • October: 31
  • November: 30
  • December: 31

And then, you’re done!

It’s handy to use Sheets because you can open your calendar right on your browser. You can also keep track of your schedule in a place that’s separate from your phone.

Alternatively, you can create important business documents such as social and editorial calendars. Below, I share a template that’s perfect for the task.

Google Sheets Calendar Template

Here’s an editorial calendar template for all of your editorial planning needs. This template helps you lay out a strong editorial strategy on a daily basis.

Featured Resource: Free Editorial Calendar Templates

Free Editorial Calendar Template

Download the Free Templates

Use a Google Sheets Calendar to Organize Your Tasks

If you’re handy with Sheets and want to give it a shot, create a Google Sheets calendar. It’s a great option if you need to create a clean calendar to track an internal marketing campaign, organize a client’s upcoming projects, or share an event calendar with key stakeholders. But if you don’t want to create one from scratch, use our editorial calendar template to jumpstart your planning and organization efforts immediately.

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

editorial calendar