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Do I Still Need a .com TLD For My Business?

Choosing a domain name for your business often goes something like this:

1. After hours of brainstorming, you discover the perfect domain name only to find out it was registered 20 years ago.

2. After a few more hours, you settle on another choice only to find out a payment of $50,000 was required.

3. After more hours and more iterations, you end up buying a .com domain name that you don’t feel great about.

This often happens due to the limited supply of top-level domains (TLDs) combined with the recommendation that all businesses should choose a .com or country-code TLD. But does having a common domain extension still matter? Should businesses still buy a .com domain name?

What is a top-level domain?

Before digging into the pros and cons of .coms vs. other TLDs, here’s a brief refresher on domain name terminology.

A top-level domain or TLD is the last segment of a domain name. For example, the most common TLD is .com. Other popular TLDs include .gov, .net, .and .edu. There are also country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom), and .in (India).

One other note is that top-level domains are sometimes referred to as domain extensions or domain endings. For brevity, I’ll call them TLDs going forward. To learn more about other terms like subdomains and second-level level domains, check out our guide on What is a Domain?

Per ICANN, there are currently 1,532 TLDs for businesses to choose from. That’s an almost endless number of combinations. But should businesses use one that doesn’t end with .com? Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of non-dotcoms.

Do TLDs matter for SEO?

One of the most commonly asked questions about new TLDs is whether they affect SEO. Here’s a direct, 36-pixel sized quote from Google’s Guide on Traditional vs. New Domain Endings:

“Using a new domain ending will not hurt your search presence.”

This makes sense when you think about all the different ways Google can analyze page quality like backlinks, content analysis, search metrics, traffic metrics, and 200 other proven or theorized factors detailed by Backlinko. Another much simpler way to confirm Google’s stance on new TLDs is to notice that they own and use many like https://abc.xyz/, https://docs.new, and https://domains.google.

In other words, .com domains do not rank higher in search due to their TLD. However, they might indirectly rank higher due to Google’s preference for aged brands.

An aged brand is a website or company with a long track record of quality content, frequent updates, and technical uptime. If most other factors are close or equal, a page on an established brand will almost always rank higher than a page on a newer, less proven brand. And seeing that .com domains still make up 46.8% of ranked TLD usage per W3Techs, most aged brands are likely to be .coms.

So if you’re looking to purchase an existing website, a .com domain name might indirectly provide more search value. However, if you’re buying a new domain name, the TLD you choose will not affect your search rank.

Will a non-dotcom TLD help or hurt your company’s brand?

This is a very tough, subjective question with three likely answers:

1. A non-dotcom TLD will help customers remember your brand and serve as a unique differentiator.

2. A non-dotcom TLD will make your brand seem suspect and less reputable.

3. Customers won’t notice your TLD or won’t care about it.

The most frequent answer for your brand probably depends on customer demographics, traffic sources, and other factors.

For example, if you have a tech-savvy audience, they’re probably more likely to be familiar and comfortable with a different TLD. Technical people are frequently early adopters that understand and gravitate toward new, emerging trends. They might also be more likely to notice and care about the TLD you choose.

Alternatively, if you’re selling services to businesses in more traditional industries, your audience might see a non-dotcom as questionable. Paul Graham, the co-founder of the startup accelerator and seed capital firm Y Combinator, believes that B2B businesses, in particular, should prefer a .com whenever possible.

As mentioned in a Forbes article and accompanying tweet, Graham said,

“All other things being equal, .com domain names are preferable, and things are way more equal than people attached to their current name realize.” He also stated that, “dot-com domains are probably more important for B2B, because there you need the legitimacy.”

Finally, it’s always possible that your TLD won’t affect your brand positively or negatively. If your website consists of a lot of single-page, mobile traffic, maybe your customers won’t even notice what your domain name is. Overall, as different TLDs become more common, your customers will likely be equally comfortable with whatever you choose.

Will a new TLD cost more than a .com?

Most popular, new TLDs typically cost about the same as a .com. Per DomainNameStats, .xyz currently has an average price of $0.75, which is actually less than the average price of a .com. .club also has a very affordable average of $0.99. Most other options have similar, reasonable prices but there are some exceptions.

If you’re looking to buy a .makeup domain name, that will currently cost you an average of $5,783.59. I guess I’ll have to find another place to share my extensive collection of beauty tips. Other examples of expensive TLDs include .auto ($2,000), .rich ($1,596), .bank ($801), and .tickets ($389).

Prices might also change when it comes time to renew your domain name. The cost of a domain name is primarily determined by the domain registry (e.g., Verisign, Donuts, or Uniregistry) and the domain registrar (e.g., Google Domains, Namecheap, or GoDaddy). The domain registry first negotiates a price with ICANN, a non-profit that helps prevent unfair price increases. The domain registrar then marks up that negotiated price a little.

Price raises during renewals are typically due to the domain registrar. Some domain registrars are notorious for bait and switching with a low, initial price that increases upon auto-renewal. Questionable price increases are one of the many reasons that choosing a reliable, ethical domain registrar is important.

Are there any risks with a new TLD?

One small, almost irrelevant risk is that some websites or older software won’t be able to recognize your URL is valid. For example, when you create a social media post that links to your company’s website, Facebook or Twitter recognizes it’s a URL and is able to convert it into a clickable link. Some software struggles to do this with newer TLDs.

This scenario is pretty rare as most major websites quickly add support for new TLDs, but you might want to register a .com domain that redirects to your website just in case. You also might want to avoid being an ultra-early adopter of future TLDs.

Another likely negligible risk is that customers will have a tougher time finding your website when they manually type in your domain name. This probably isn’t a big deal because most Internet traffic comes from either search, social, referrals, advertisements, or email.

A study by Conductor using 310 million website visits found that only 12-29% of web traffic was actually “direct” traffic, and a much smaller percentage of that traffic is people typing your domain name into their browser.

As detailed by Moz, direct traffic sometimes includes a variety of scenarios like misattributed search traffic, “dark social” traffic, non-web documents, and improper redirects. It also probably includes some bot traffic. A more realistic estimate of actual direct traffic is probably anywhere from 0-5%.

Are there any indirect risks with a new TLD?

One indirect risk of a new TLD is that some are only available at a limited number of domain registrars. Not only could this lead to a higher price, but this might make you more prone to losing your domain name if you’re forced to use an unreliable registrar.

You should ideally try to purchase a domain name from a registrar that you believe is ethical and technically competent enough to maintain the security of your domain name. An unreliable registrar can lead to minor annoyances or major issues like accidentally transferring your domain name to hackers. A full range of possibilities is discussed in a Stack Exchange thread.

With that said, registrar horror stories are extremely rare. Most top registrars obtained their status by providing ethical, quality service. But like any service provider you do business with, you should try to evaluate a domain registrar’s competency, ethics, and other risk factors.

So should I still choose a .com domain for my business?

As seen above, there’s a lot of different questions to consider. Personally, I believe that if you’re happy with an available .com domain name, you should choose that. But if you’re not, you should strongly consider a different TLD.

In my opinion, having a brand that you believe in is way more important than settling on a name due to a concept that’s quickly becoming obsolete. Having a new TLD might even make your brand stand out.

If you agree and you’re ready to try out a new TLD, our guide on How to Choose a Domain Extension is a great place to start.

How to Make All Your Accounts Safer With Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Nowadays, account security is a major concern for companies and their employees. It can pose a major threat to your employer if you’re hacked — if someone hacks your Gmail account, for instance, he will have access to company contacts, as well as your calendar, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and other private company information.

For this reason, Duo Mobile and other two-factor authentication apps have risen in popularity.

Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) is a safety process you can enable on any of your devices, including your iPhone, Mac, Gmail account, or social media accounts like Facebook. And it’s a smart idea, too — particularly since the total cost of a successful cyber attack is over $5 million, or $301 per employee.

Here, we’re going to tell you what two-factor authentication is, and how you can enable (or disable) it on any of your accounts, to ensure your information is protected in 2019 and beyond.

What is two-factor authentication?

To understand what two-factor authentication is, let’s start with an analogy.

Imagine you live in a dangerous neighborhood, and you only have one lock on your door. Alternatively, your neighbor down the street has a top and bottom lock, and each lock requires a separate key — which means, to break into his apartment, you need to break into two locks, not just one.

Who’s safer?

Ultimately, two-factor authentication is your neighbor’s top and bottom lock — but for your online accounts. It significantly decreases the risk of getting hacked by combining two methods of protection.

Two-factor authentication uses two methods to ensure you’re the correct user. It combines something you know (i.e. a password), with something you have (i.e. a mobile phone), or something you are (i.e. facial recognition).

For instance, to access my online school account, I need to open the Duo Mobile app on my phone, and input my school account’s password — while a hacker might be able to guess my password, he’s going to have a tougher time hacking into my phone, as well.

How to turn off two-factor authentication

It’s relatively easy to turn off two-factor authentication on any of your accounts.

On Facebook, for instance, simply go to “Settings” and then “Security and Login”. Find “Use two-factor authentication”, click “Edit”, and then switch to “Off”.

Alternatively, on Gmail, you’ll want to go to http://myaccount.google.com. Then, select “Security”. Under the “Signing in to Google” section, you’ll see “2-Step Verification”. Click this section.

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 4.40.30 PMNext, select “Turn Off” to disable 2-Step Verification for your Gmail account.

It’s important to note, Apple removed the option to turn off two-factor authentication for Apple IDs created in iOS 10.3 or macOS 10.12.4 and later.

However, you have a two-week period during which you can still disable the function. Simply open your iCloud email account and find the enrollment confirmation email, then click the link to return to your previous security settings.

TAM SAM SOM: What Do They Mean & How Do You Calculate Them?

With all the excitement that comes with starting a new company and gauging its industry’s profit potential or forecasting a revenue goal for your business, you must remember to root these figures in reality.

If you don’t, you could enter a market that doesn’t have a large enough market size to convince investors to back you, or you could set an unrealistic revenue goal for your business and burn your employees out.

Click here to get started with our free market research kit.

To help you avoid these issues, we’ve put together a guide that’ll teach you exactly how to calculate your industry’s total addressable market, serviceable addressable market, and share of market. Read on to start setting realistic revenue goals and entering markets that are worth your time and resources.

TAM SAM SOM Template

TAM (Total Addressable Market)

Total addressable market or TAM refers to the total market demand for a product or service. It’s the maximum amount of revenue a business can possibly generate by selling their product or service in a specific market. Total addressable market is most useful for businesses to objectively estimate a specific market’s potential for growth.

According to MIT’s Global Startup Labs program, the best way to calculate total addressable market is by running a bottom-up analysis of an industry. A bottom-up analysis involves counting the total number of customers in a market (which you can do by adding up the amount of customers each company in this market has) and multiplying that number by the average annual revenue of each customer in this market.

Total Addressable Market Formula

SAM (Serviceable Addressable Market)

Unless you’re a monopoly, you most likely can’t capture the total addressable market for your product or service. Even if you only have one competitor, it would still be extremely difficult to convince an entire market to only buy your product or service. That’s why it’s crucial to measure your serviceable available market to determine how many companies would realistically benefit from buying your product or service.

To calculate your serviceable addressable market, count up all the potential customers that would be a good fit for your business and multiply that number by the average annual revenue of these types of customer in your market.

Serviceable Addressable Market Formula

SOM (Share of Market)

Share of market is the size of your actual customer base or the realistic percentage of your serviceable addressable market that you can capture. This figure can help you predict the amount of revenue you can actually generate within your market.

To calculate share of market, divide your revenue from last year by your industry’s serviceable addressable market from last year. This percentage is your market share from last year. Then, multiply your market share from last year by your industry’s serviceable addressable market from this year.

Share of Market Formula
market research

How to Avoid Distraction as a Marketer

Does social media distract you from work and life? Wondering how to stay focused despite online interruptions? To explore how to avoid distraction as a marketer and as a human, I interview Brian Solis. Brian is a digital analyst and futurist at the Altimeter Group, and author of the book Engage!. His latest book is […]

The post How to Avoid Distraction as a Marketer appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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17 of the Best Brands on Instagram Right Now

Contrary to what your friends’ photos suggest, Instagram isn’t just a social network for selfies and brunch pics. In fact, Instagram has a whopping 1 billion active monthly users as of June 2018 — the last 200 million of which joined in the prior nine months.

In a time when visual content remains a crucial part of any business’ marketing strategy, Instagram marketing presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality, and keep it top-of-mind for all those users who scroll through their Instagram feeds every single day.

Although they’re few and far between, there are some brands out there — in every industry, and with every type of target customer — who are doing really, really well on Instagram. These industries include skincare, lifestyle, education, shoes, interior design, entertainment, and even office supplies (one of the most B2B markets you can think of).*Bonus Content* Click here to unlock 20 powerful strategies & hacks for  increasing Instagram engagement.

Ready to get inspired? Check out this list of brands that are thriving on Instagram right now, and what about their posts sets them apart. For each of these brands, we’ve included examples of their best posts. For some of them, we’ve also included their most popular Instagram post of all time in terms of engagement (i.e. combined total of likes and comments) thanks to data from Instagram analytics and management platform Iconosquare.

(Psst — Want to get a stunning Instagram Story auto-magically created for your brand? Check out StoriesAds.com, a free Story generator from HubSpot and Shakr. Click here to get started.)

17 of the Best Brands on Instagram

1. Lego

Followers: 3.8M

If you’re not following Lego on Instagram, you’re missing out on some entertaining content that isn’t just product plugs for kids.

The famous plastic building block brand populates its Instagram feed with fun takes on pop culture references everyone is bound to appreciate — something many businesses can learn from on their own Instagram accounts.

While most of Lego’s posts do serve to announce the release of new Lego characters, the main value in its Instagram account is to emulate familiar social tropes in a classic Lego way. Some of them are pretty impressive, like the life-sized flying car from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

2. Califia Farms

Followers: 219k

Califia Farms natural beverage products have some of the most attractive packaging we’ve come across. In fact, it’s so iconic that it won top honors in the global packaging design category from Beverage World Magazine.

Instagram is a perfect platform to showcase that cool, curvy bottle, and the folks at Califia don’t shy away from doing just that — most of the brand’s posts feature the beverage’s containers in some way, whether they’re the main subject of the photo, or more of an accessory in the context of the active, healthy lifestyle Califia’s buyer personas love.

Califia Farms Instagram showing waffles
Califia Farms Instagram

Something Califia does really well on Instagram is create fun, playful videos and GIFs. Check out this one, which they used to teach viewers how to create a fresh tomato basil soup:

And this one, which is just plain fun to watch:

3. #FollowMeTo

Followers: 499k

Ever seen those photos of a woman leading a man by the hand in all different parts of the world? That pose was made famous by a couple named Murad and Natalia Osmann for their #FollowMeTo project.

Their Instagram account is a mix of stunning images of the classic #FollowMeTo pose that have been edited beautifully, as well as some really interesting behind-the-scenes photos of their world travels — including some fun photos of the “making of” the famous pose.

FollowMeTo Instagram account showing snow on mountains
FollowMeTo Instagram account showing Chichen Itza
FollowMeTo Instagram showing woman in blue dress
follow-me-to-instagram-2.png

4. Lorna Jane

Followers: 822k

If your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality? Australian activewear company Lorna Jane has done an awesome job answering this important branding question with its Instagram content. Spend just a few seconds scrolling through these photos, and you’ll quickly be able to name the target Lorna Jane buyer: a young, sporty, twenty- or thirty-something woman who values looking good while maintaining an active lifestyle.

The images posted by Lorna Jane, which often show the brand’s clothing and accessories, as well as images of women who embody its target buyer persona, are colorful, playful, and inspirational, which is a perfect representation of the brand’s essence — in other words, its heart, soul, and spirit.

Lorna Jane Instagram account showing woman holding dog
Lorna Jane Instagram account showing donut holes and limes

5. Letterfolk

Followers: 306k

Letterfolk is a small business run by a husband-and-wife team who create and sell beautiful, handcrafted felt letterboards. Each letterboard comes with a full set of characters so people can personalize the walls of their homes, which means endless room for creativity.

Instagram is the perfect platform for them to inspire customers and aspiring customers with real customers’ boards, as well as ideas they’ve come up with and staged themselves. Their Instagram content is funny, thought-provoking, and relatable — all recipes for shareability.

Letterfolk Instagram account showing they said meme
Letterfolk Instagram account showing couple on June 24 2017

Letterfolk’s Most Engaging Post

letterfolk-instagram-most-engaging-post

[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: Not only is this photo showing a funny and clever message, but it’s also very, very relatable to women — one of Letterfolk’s target customers. It’s also a very taggable photo, so the comment section is rife with Instagram users mentioning their friends’ usernames so they can share in the fun.

6. Apartment Therapy

Followers: 1.9M

Apartment Therapy’s Instagram account really is a source of therapy, if you love the sight of cozy homes. If you’ve seen social media posts from Apartment Therapy before, rest assured the pictures of residences on its Instagram account are just as creative.

Two recent posts to Apartment Therapy’s Instagram feed are below. From the plant-friendly living room on the left, to the comfortable A-frame on the right, this brand gives its Instagram followers plenty of inspiration to personalize their own space and, according to its Instagram bio, “live happy, healthy lives at home.” Apartment Therapy Instagram account showing plant-inspired living roomApartment Therapy Instagram account showing bedroom in A-frame apartment

7. Paris Opera Ballet

Followers: 340k

The city of Paris is known for many lovely things — wine, cheese, and art are just a few. But that last one, art, is photographically captured on the Instagram account of the Paris Opera Ballet, or Ballet de l’Opera de Paris.

The account captures candid images of the ballet’s dancers during performances, rehearsals, and backstage, giving viewers an artful glimpse at what goes into the ballet’s productions. It also makes use of something called banners on Instagram, when larger photos can be divided into multiple pictures to create a tiled banner of smaller photos. (There are several apps available to pull that off, but to start, check out Tile Pic).

The way this account highlights performance venues is noteworthy, too. The third photo beneath the first two below provides an intimate shot of rehearsal, conveying a gritty behind-the-scenes feel that can generate excitement for productions.

Paris Opera Ballet Instagram account showing performance of Crystal Pite
Paris Opera Ballet Instagram account showing male dancers

8. Tentsile

Followers: 189k

“Stunning” is the first word that comes to mind when I scroll through Tentsile’s Instagram photos. The company sells tree tents, what they call “portable treehouses” that will “literally take your camping experience to a new level.” Their Instagram is full of shockingly beautiful scenes of their product in use in all matter of terrain: rainforests, mountains, beaches… you name it.

Tentsile Instagram account showing campground Tentsile Instagram account showing water hammock

Tentsile’s Most Engaging Post

Why it’s engaging: Tentsile’s followers are interested in seeing the unique tent uses and setups that customers come up with. Not only is the post above a video — which are known for getting more engagement than photos — but the preview shot alone shows an intriguing location for a tree tent. For starters, how the heck did they get it up there?

9. Desenio

Followers: 910k

Look at the colors of any well-known brand and you’ll notice that they use the same colors over and over again — in their logo, on their website, and in their social media images. Using the same colors over and over again is a great way to establish brand consistency and help consumers become familiar with your brand.

That’s what the Swedish online art print company Desenio does beautifully on their Instagram account. They use a lot of blues, greens, greys, and blacks, which evoke senses of calm, healing, luxury, and trust.

desenio-instagram-1.png
desenio-instagram-2.png

Desenio’s Most Engaging Post

Why it’s engaging: When your Instagram account is predicated on brand consistency, deviating from the usual theme or color might be off limits. But in minor doses, throwing something new into your feed can give your account a boost of engagement. The post above was a simple holiday card from Desenio, but it was so dramatically different from the look and feel of the business’s usual interior design, followers just had to click through to see more.

Many of the comments included exclamations of how beautiful and evocative the post is. One commenter was inspired enough to describe what winters are like where they live. To increase your own comment rate, follow Desenio’s lead by posting images of things and situations that remind your followers of things they care about in their personal lives.

10. No Your City

Followers: 26k

The folks at No Your City produce a documentary series that captures the fascinating stories of people all over the world, but mostly in New York. The brand’s Instagram account, though, is less about these stories and more about showcasing gorgeous images from the city itself.

What we love about these photos is how closely they follow the best practices for taking great photos with your phone. Each one of No Your City’s photos seems to follow at least one of these recommendations, whether it’s focusing on a single subject, embracing negative space, playing with reflections, or finding interesting perspectives. The photos are consistently stunning, and as a result, the brand has built a solid following.

No Your City Instagram account showing Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, New York No Your City Instagram account showing brownstone apartment in Brooklyn, New York

11. Vans

Followers: 15.2M

Vans is known for its stylish shoes, but the brand’s use of social media is just as stylish. Its Instagram business account is no exception.

The maker of the classic checkered slip-ons has an aggressively flashy Instagram feed, featuring both standalone product shots and action photos of people expressing themselves in their favorite Vans gear.

Vans’ Instagram account’s most unique quality is likely how much skateboarding content it has. The brand doesn’t just appeal to teenage skaters anymore, but it shows its loyalty to that lifestyle in an engaging way. Below, Vans features an Indian girl with a caption that describes her as the “only girl who regularly skateboards in her town.”

Vans Instagram featuring Kamali, an Indian girl who skateboards

Vans’ Most Engaging Post

Why it’s engaging: Just because you’re promoting an ordinary product launch doesn’t mean the social media post supporting the launch should be equally ordinary. Vans’ recent video, above, endorses a line of shoes called ComfyCush, but the video itself is a little, well, weirder. And for a business so dependent on style, the right amount of weird can give Vans an awesome amount of engagement.

12. Divinity LA Bracelets

Followers: 238k

Here’s an example of a small business performing very well on Instagram. A beaded bracelet could have any theme.

divinity-la-instagram-1.png Divinity LA Bracelets Instagram account showing woman kayaking

Divinity’s Most Engaging Post

Divinity LA Bracelets' most engaging Instagram post

Why it’s engaging: The caption reads: “Each Sea Turtle and Hatchling bracelet sold helps a Hatchling make it to the ocean.” People tagged their friends to show them the cute sea turtles, or to say “WE NEED TO SAVE THEM!”

13. WeWork

Followers: 479k

WeWork provides shared office spaces in cities and countries all over the globe — so it only makes sense that they should post a lot of photos showcasing their beautiful co-working communities. They do an amazing job photographing the spaces in ways that make followers like us wish we could jump into the photos and plop down with our laptops and a coffee.

They don’t stop at posting photos of their shared workspaces, though. WeWork uses Instagram to capture and share moments from some of the largest branded events that members (and their friends) look forward to all year, like WeWork Summer Camp. Hashtags are used to label these events — like #WWCamp — and to encourage customers to share their own photos of the spaces, using WeWork’s memorable slogan: “Do what you love.”

Our favorite is the #DogsOfWeWork hashtag. Not only is it awesome because, well, dogs … but it’s also a great way for the company to promote their laid-back culture while also inviting customers to interact with their brand on social. Near the end of each year, they actually choose the best photo submissions to the #DogsOfWeWork hashtag on Instagram and Facebook and put together a calendar for the following year.

Creative WeWork office space
Creative WeWork office space with mural and palm trees
we-work-instagram-6.png

WeWork’s Most Engaging Post

Why it’s engaging: For all its beautiful photos of people and office spaces and dogs, some of you might be surprised that one of this company’s most engaging Instagram posts of all time doesn’t take place in a WeWork office space at all. The video above is an example of influencer marketing done right. By partnering with actor and investor, Ashton Kutcher, the company caught the attention of its audience, and made it shareable by showing its followers a speech Ashton gave that resonates with WeWork’s followers.

Use free design tools like Canva, PicMonkey, or even PowerPoint to create these images easily.

14. Finfolk Productions

Followers: 222k

Ever wanted to be a mermaid? You can come pretty close, thanks to companies like FinFolk Productions. Believe it or not, silicone mermaid tails you can put on and swim around in are actually quite trendy in certain areas and for certain age groups — typically young girls, which is one of Instagram’s core users.

Finfolk Productions’ Instagram feed is full of beautifully shot photos that play into the mermaid fantasy by looking more like mythical art than real people.

Finfolk Productions Instagram account showing woman underwater wearing mermaid fin
Finfolk Productions Instagram account showing mermaid fins

Finfolk Productions’ Most Engaging Post

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

 
 

SPECIAL REVEAL: The Finfolk Swarovski Crystal Silicone Tail ✨ Available now on the website for purchase. 🐚💎💍 (UPDATE: tail has sold!) • Alright, beautiful mermaids and mermen, this is a release I (Bryn) have personally been anticipating for a long time. Thanks to our amazing team here at Finfolk, everyone agreed to this project and came together to make it happen. As many of you know, my own wedding is upcoming this spring. I never knew that planning a wedding would open up so much inspiration for me. While searching through many couture bridal gowns and other items, I began to envision how a truly couture bridal mermaid would appear. Apparently, all iridescent white with over 8,000 hand laid Swarovski crystals is the result I concluded upon. It is with great joy and some anticipation, that we release to you all, the Finfolk Swarovski Crystal Silicone Tail. Available now to be obsessively gazed upon (as the staff has now done for weeks while completing it), and for purchase to one very special and lucky mermaid. This is a project truly and especially from my heart, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we enjoyed conceptualizing and creating it. • Included with this tail is a matching crystalized Stargazer top and stunning custom made Octavia circlet by @thevirginiamermaid 💎 💍 🧜🏼‍♀️ • • #finfolk #finfolkproductions #finfolkmermaid #mermaid #mermaidtail #swarovski #swarovskicrystals #crystals #rhinestones #glitter #sparkle #wedding #bride #bridal #couture #couturefashion #fashion #bridesmaid #weddingdress #diamonds #iridescent #weddinghair #weddingphotography #photography #

A post shared by Finfolk Productions (@finfolkproductions) on Feb 24, 2019 at 10:40am PST

Why it’s engaging: The post above is two things in one: a new product and a sentimental announcement by the company founder, Bryn Roberts. For most of Finfolk’s followers, the white mermaid fin above isn’t just a different color from the typical fins made by the company. It’s also emblematic of Bryn’s recent wedding, for which she wanted to make a bridal-style mermaid fin that all of Finfolk’s customers would appreciate.

I never knew that planning a wedding would open up so much inspiration for me. While searching through many couture bridal gowns and other items, I began to envision how a truly couture bridal mermaid would appear. Apparently, all iridescent white with over 8,000 hand laid Swarovski crystals is the result I concluded upon. It is with great joy and some anticipation, that we release to you all, the Finfolk Swarovski Crystal Silicone Tail.

15. Shiseido

Followers: 660k

Shiseido started out as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy 140 years ago and has since developed into selling high-quality brightening and anti-aging skincare, makeup, and fragrance products.

Its company mission is to inspire a life of beauty and culture — a mission they portray beautifully through their Instagram content. If you take a look at their feed, you’ll notice they post three images at a time so the posts appear in a row pattern on their larger feed — a very clever and original way to organize their content.

shiseido-instagram-content-1.png

Shiseido’s Most Engaging Post

Why it’s engaging: Back in late March 2016, Instagram started rolling out the ability to upload 60-second videos — and we’ve seen some amazing Instagram videos from brands ever since, like the one above from Shiseido. The one above lasts nearly all 60 seconds and its product demo is curiously satisfying to watch. The subject’s purple hair also gives followers a slightly edgier look to consider when browsing the company’s makeup collection. (Hot tip: Posts featuring faces, especially for a skincare brand, are ideal for boosting social media engagement).

Don’t be intimidated by highly professional Instagram videos like theirs. You can post highly engaging videos on Instagram without a huge video team or a bottomless budget. Here’s a step-by-step guide for making great videos on Instagram without breaking the bank.

16. Sephora Collections

Followers: 626k

Sephora Collections’ brand personality is playful, colorful, and feminine. It does a wonderful job of characterizing this personality in its Instagram content, using bright colors, patterns, and fun captions.

This branded Sephora account also diversifies its feed with a lot of fun Instagram video content that gives off the same playful vibes.

Sephora Collection’s Most Engaging Post

Why it’s engaging: Sometimes, you just have to cut right to the chase. Sephora made magnetic makeup brushes and wanted the world to see them. Businesses must be careful how much product-focused content they’re posting, but when you come up with something you know your customers will love, your best bet is to simply show it in action.

17. Staples

Followers: 64k

The folks at Staples do a lot of things right when it comes to Instagram content, but there are two that particularly grab our attention — engaging with followers by asking questions and including calls-to-action in captions, and staying true to the brand’s playful-yet-practical personality.

When it comes to engaging Staples’ followers, it’s all about asking questions in the photo captions. For example, check out the second photo below featuring a series of emojis — its caption reads, “That’s pretty much our day. How about yours? Tell us in emojis.” Scroll through the comments on that photo, and you’ll see followers had a lot of fun responses. The caption paired with the first photo below — the one with the cupcakes — asks users to tag someone who they want to thank.

Staples does a great job staying true to brand by posting fun photos such as the “2016” shot written in office supplies and using the #OfficeHack hashtag to engage their following.

staples-instagram-5.png
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The folks at Staples also use Instagram to post cute videos and GIFs, like the one below that shows businesses how they can use Staples supplies to create a “revamped breakroom.”

 

A revamped breakroom = a reenergized office

A post shared by Staples (@staples) on Feb 7, 2018 at 8:58am PST

Ready to populate your Instagram Story with pics and videos that are as captivating as the content above? We believe in you — just download the free branding guide below and get to posting.

Instagram Hacks

9 Fantastic LinkedIn Ad Examples (& Why They Work)

LinkedIn is undeniably an important platform for distributing content. 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as a content distribution channel, compared to just 89% on Twitter and 77% on Facebook and YouTube.

On LinkedIn, you can post either promoted or organic content linking back to your site or product — while you can certainly use LinkedIn ads to target your audience and ensure higher visibility, you can also post content on your page itself for brand awareness, or to spread information on a new product or service.

LinkedIn has a wide reach, and its audience typically expects business-related content, making it an ideal site for posting company information. In fact, compared to Facebook and Twitter, it’s the number one most popular advertising channel for B2B marketers:

Image courtesy of Demandwave.com

However, LinkedIn’s popularity among marketers means its a crowded space. To truly stand out, it’s critical you use the platform to share high-quality, compelling ads.

To help you create ads that inspire your audience, we’ve compiled this list of nine fantastic LinkedIn examples — and why they work.

1. Dell EMC

Dell EMC’s advertisement is a humorous and accurate use of the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday. The ad showcases an image from the 90’s, and begins, “Thanks to our customers …”, which is a truly heartwarming display of Dell’s gratitude and humility over their own growth. To create a compelling ad, consider how you can make your content relatable to your audience.

2. Tableau Software

A good advertisement can draw positive attention to your brand without immediately trying to sell a product or service. For instance, take a look at Tableau Software’s ad, which spreads the word about the company’s commitment to ending veteran and chronic homelessness. Additionally, the image is authentic and sentimental, and draws attention to the ad’s purpose. How can you not want to click the link?

3. Adobe

I’m particularly impressed with Adobe’s commitment to negating stereotypes — for instance, in this ad, their text initially mentions leadership advice in general, before offering female-only executive tips in honor of Women’s History Month. The advertisement is also easy-to-skim, for LinkedIn users who are quickly perusing a page. In general, short-and-sweet does well on the platform, so this is a smart move.

4. JetBlue Airways

jetbluelinkedinadJetBlue’s advertisement is impressively simple, which enables the audience to quickly gather all necessary information — mainly, “20% off”. Additionally, “A springboard for Spring travel” is catchy and unique. Most of JetBlue’s LinkedIn content avoids directly selling to their audience, so this piece doesn’t feel too promotional. Instead, it feels helpful. Plus, the “Two-day sale” creates a sense of urgency, and could compel an audience to begin perusing JetBlue flight deals.

5. Toptal

You might use LinkedIn to share helpful content with your audience. While not directly selling a product or service, this method undoubtedly helps you showcase your brand as a thought leader, and attracts more visitors to your site. Toptal, for instance, uses their LinkedIn profile to share helpful content related to their service. Additionally, Toptal’s content makes a general statement — “the modern workforce demands greater flexibility” — to attract a wider audience, and avoid seeming too promotional.

6. Elon University

As an alumna of Elon University, I might be a bit biased, but the university does a great job avoiding images and using graphics and videos instead to draw attention to their content. Since 59% of executives would rather watch a video than read text, it’s a good idea to include video in your promotional strategy on LinkedIn.

7. Visa

Visa is another example of a company that makes good use of video on LinkedIn to promote new campaigns or programs. In fact, their videos are often addictive — like this one, which features a variety of women talking about their decision to start a business. The two-minute video is incredibly moving, and does a good job relaying the importance of Visa’s new Visa Everywhere Initiative.

8. HelloFresh

hellofreshlinkedinadSince HelloFresh is sharing content initially published by another company, the ad seems particularly authentic and genuine. Additionally, the hashtags are fun and feel relatable, and the image conveys the ad’s meaning particularly well.

9. WeWork

weworklinkedinadIn an era of always shortening attention spans, brevity and simplicity is key — which is why WeWork’s advertisement is especially impressive, with short text and a simple image to convey its message. Additionally, the messaging, “Just moved in and already outgrowing your workspace?”, in conjunction with the image, is especially engaging and attention-grabbing.

What Is Marketing Management? A 1-Minute Rundown

As marketers, we all want to climb the career ladder as quickly as possible. But if you really want to become a marketing manager one day, you first need to learn what the role demands.

Below, we’ll go over what exactly marketing management is, a marketing manager’s average salary, and the education and skills you need to become one. Read on to learn more about marketing management.

Receive a 12-month marketing plan in less than 10 minutes with the help of our  free generator. 

Marketing Manager Salary

According to over 43,500 salaries submitted to Glassdoor, the average salary for a marketing manager working in the United States is $81,078.

Required Education

Most companies require all of their marketing professionals to at least have a bachelor’s degree, but since the marketing industry adapts so quickly, companies don’t necessarily require their marketers or marketing managers to have specialized degrees in specific fields.

However, there is one requirement needed to become a marketing manager — a three-to-five year track record of consistently performing to your potential and achieving your goals. If you want to become a marketing manager one day, your performance as an individual contributor matters more than anything.

For instance, if you aspire to manage your company’s blog team, you need to prove that you’ve been able to consistently write quality content and meet your manager’s expectations.

Required Skills

As an individual contributor, your hard skills are crucial for crushing your job, but as a manager, your soft skills are most important — the majority of your time is spent leading initiatives, gauging and handling your colleagues’ emotions, and figuring out how to simultaneously serve your team’s and employees’ needs.

So, in order to succeed as a marketer manager, you need to be humble, empathetic, adaptable, rewarding, transparent, a great communicator, and have subject matter expertise.

Marketing Plan Generator

Twitter Ads Campaigns: A Simple Setup Guide

Twitter is a great marketing channel for driving traffic and generating leads. In fact, 63% of Twitter users follow small businesses — it’s no wonder that companies can see actual growth from this platform.

If you’re not using yet Twitter for business purposes, or want to get better at it, keep reading. You’ll learn how you can use Twitter ad campaigns to reach the audiences you care about.

Do you already have a Twitter account? If so, you know how to use its free functions: tweeting, following, and customizing your profile. But because businesses are meant to grow, so too is your social media presence.

To expand your reach and grow your follower list on Twitter, consider supplementing your organic efforts with the paid promotional opportunities Twitter has built right into the platform. Using Twitter Ads is an easy way to get your tweets in front of the audiences that don’t yet follow you, which is particularly useful for generating new leads for your business.

And you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on it, either — Twitter ads can be effective even on a relatively small budget.

Click here to access a free Twitter for Businesses kit.

So, how do you get started? Let’s walk through the basic steps to setting up a Twitter ad and how to decide on the best structure for your campaign.

How to Advertise on Twitter

1. Choose between “Promote Mode” and “Twitter Ads.”

get-started-twitter-ads

Visit this menu screen to get started. The first decision you need to make when setting up your Twitter ads is whether you’d like to promote individual tweets or run an entire ad campaign for a specific purpose.

Promoted Tweets vs. Twitter Ads

Promoted tweets will allow your tweets to appear in the Twitter streams or Twitter search results of specific users. Running Twitter Ads is a more holistic campaign, using multiple groups of tweets to accomplish a single goal for your brand. Depending on your objective, Twitter Ads can display your username in places other than a user’s newsfeed, such as the “Who to Follow” section to the right of their Twitter homepage.

To learn more about promoted tweets, skip to the next section below this list of steps.

How do I choose?

If you’re simply looking to get more eyeballs on a webpage, promoted tweets might be just the thing you need. In this option, you pay a flat monthly fee for as long as you’re promoting a tweet. It’s perfect for gaining focused exposure on (and generating leads from) a particular aspect of your business.

If you’re looking to grow your follower base and/or build up your audience, Twitter Ads offer a bit more firepower. In the steps below, you’ll learn how to harness it.

2. Select your Twitter Ad’s objective.

twitter-ads-objectives

Promoted tweets are fairly easy to set up, and you can learn about this process in the section at the bottom of this blog post. To launch a Twitter Ad campaign, however, your next step is determining your objective. You have eight objectives to choose from, and you can see an elaboration of each objective once you select one on the Twitter Ads page linked in Step 1 of this article.

  • App installs
  • Followers
  • Tweet engagements
  • Promoted video views
  • Website clicks or conversions
  • App re-engagements
  • In-stream video views (pre-roll)
  • Awareness

Promoted Accounts

Ad campaigns focused on followers, the second objective listed above, are also known as “Promoted Accounts.” This type of campaign allows you to promote your profile, rather than a series of tweets, in your target audience’s newsfeeds and on the profile pages of the other accounts they care about.

3. Fill in the details your ad campaign.

Once you choose an objective, you’ll be taken to a page where you can name your campaign, a start and end date for your campaign, and your campaign’s total budget. Depending on the objective you chose in Step 2, you might have other details to fill in that are unique to your ad. If your objective is app installs, for example, this step will require you to connect your app to Twitter, and then select this app from the dropdown shown below.

twitter-app-installs-dropdown

When determining how much money you want to invest in a Twitter Ads campaign, you’ll set a daily budget and an optional total budget. Your daily budget will pay Twitter your set amount at the specific cadence that you can set throughout the day.

The cadence of your promoted content can be set to “Standard (recommended),” which shows ads to your target audience at intervals Twitter deems most efficient; or “Accelerated,” which shows your ads as much as possible throughout the day. Accelerated ads cater to ad campaigns you want to perform well in a short amount of time.

4. Create an ad group within your campaign.

twitter-campaign-ad-groups

Next, you’ll create an ad group for your campaign — there should be at least one pre-created on the lefthand side of your Twitter Ads page. To create more than one ad group, select “Copy ad group” to the righthand side of your current ad group and you’ll see new ones appear in your ad campaign’s framework, as shown above.

Ad groups are individual ads that consist of their own budgets, audiences, and start and end times — but operate under the umbrella of your larger campaign.

For example, if you have a two-week Twitter Ads campaign with the objective of website clicks and a budget of $100, you can also create one or more ad groups that run for just a couple of days each, promote separate webpages on your website, and target different types of Twitter users. You’ll see how to set these parameters in the next few steps.

In the “Details” tab, shown above, enter an ad group name, a start and end time, a budget for the ad group, and a bid type. Bid types allow you to “bid” on a promoted ad placement. Ad placements will cost different amounts depending on your audience and where the ad appears on Twitter, and you can set your ad group to bid for placement in one of three ways:

  • Automatic bid: This type of bid permits Twitter to bill you the most cost-effective amount every time your audience engages with your ad content. The cost Twitter bills you is based on your ad group’s budget and audience parameters.
  • Maximum bid: This type of bid gives you full control over how much money you’re willing to pay every time your audience engages with your ad content.
  • Target bid: This type of bid allows you to specify how much money from your ad group’s budget you’d like Twitter to bill you every time your audience engages with your ad content. The price you’re billed will reflect the daily average cost of each ad placement within your audience.

5. Select your target audience for each ad group.

Beneath the “Details” tab of your ad group, select “Targeting.” This is where you’ll set the parameters of your target audience.

It’s important to customize your audience to be a good fit for your company and your message. That way, you’re only paying for engagement from folks who might have some interest in downloading your content or learning more about your product or service. A more targeted audience is more likely to help you generate qualified leads.

What are my options?

To select an audience for each ad group you create, you’ll customize the following criteria:

  • Gender: If your product or service caters primarily to either males or females, you should take advantage of the gender targeting option.
  • Age: Setting an age range is helpful for advertisements that are promoting a product or event that has either a particular age restriction or scope of interest.
  • Location: You’ll want to target by location if you run a local business, or if you sell primarily to specific regions (whether that’s your city or North America).
  • Language: This criterion might need to be used in tandem with the location filter, described above, if an ad is targeting a region of the world that speaks a language other than English.
  • Device: This is a great targeting option if your product or service caters more specifically to people on the go, or if your website visitors are most likely to convert on your offer when they’re in the office.
  • Audience features: These include keywords, movies & shows, conversation topics, events, and related interests.

You can also select which devices you’d like your promoted tweets to be displayed on — any combination of desktop and the various mobile devices.

Targeting by Keywords

Targeting by “keywords” — an option included in the “Audience features” field, listed above — allows you to reach people that search, tweet about, or engage with specific keywords. For example, if I’m promoting HubSpot’s ebook, How to Use Twitter for Business, I might filter my audience by keywords I consider relevant to this advertisement, like this:

twitter-keywords-audience-targeting

This audience targeting criterion is helpful if you want to know exactly how many Twitter users are currently using a keyword. As you can see in the screenshot above, the keyword “marketing” is being used by 7.67 million people. This data can help you decide between topics that seem similar but have different levels of popularity you wouldn’t know about otherwise.

Targeting by Interests and Followers

Targeting by interests and followers allows you to create a list of Twitter usernames and then target users whose interests are similar to the interests of those users’ followers.

A great use of this type of targeting is when compiling a small list of the top influencers in your industry. For example, to promote HubSpot’s How to Use Twitter for Business ebook, I’ll want to target an audience of users interested in social media. Targeting by interests and followers allows me to say, “show these tweets to people who are like so-and-so’s followers.” As a result, I’ve created a large audience that’s still tailored to the topic of my content.

With this targeting option, you can also add a list of interest categories. So, for example, I could say, “show these tweets to people interested in marketing, social media, or lead generation.” Again, this creates a broad audience focused on the topic of the content or products you’re promoting.

6. Select the creatives you’d like to run with each ad group.

Your last task in creating a Twitter Ads campaign is to choose the creatives you want to run with each ad group belonging to your campaign. “Creatives” are simply the tweets you want to promote, and you can select them from the list of tweets that appear under each ad group’s Creatives tab. Select the “Creatives” tab beneath the Targeting tab to get started.

This is the fun part. You can either select from existing tweets in your account or create new ones.

To compose a new tweet, click the blue quill icon to the far right of your Creatives screen. When crafting a new tweet, you can check the “Promoted-only” button if you’d only like to promote it through your Twitter Ads campaign, and not have the tweet appear organically on your followers’ newsfeeds. See what this option looks like below.

promoted-only-tweet

In addition to promoting your tweets on your audiences’ timelines, you can also choose to have your tweets appear in users’ profiles and the detail pages of specific twitter conversations. The benefit of this type of targeting is that it helps you define a more qualified audience, since these people are actively looking for or engaging with those specific keywords that are relevant to your offer. You can select this option on the righthand side of your Creatives tab, as shown below.

where-your-promoted-ads-appear

7. Review and launch your campaign.

Finally, select the “Review your campaign” button, as shown above, to look over your campaign details. If everything looks correct, hit “Launch campaign” at the top-righthand corner of your screen to run the campaign.

How to Promote a Tweet

Promoting tweets allows you to show critical pieces of content to a wide audience and drive views to the landing pages that generate leads for your business. This Twitter Ads option gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of the content you want potential viewers and customers to see.

Here’s a quick definition of this ad so you can understand how it differs from the ad campaign we walked you through in the above section:

Here’s how to promote a tweet:

1. Select “Promote Mode” from the campaign menu and click “Get started.”

You’ll start from the same place you start when creating a full, multi-tweet Twitter Ads campaign: This menu screen. Once there, click “Get started.” When you’re done, click “Next” on the top-righthand corner of the page.

2. Select your promoted tweet’s country and timezone.

Currently, you can only promote tweets to audiences in the U.S., the U.K., and Japan. Start creating your ad by selecting of these three options, as well as your intended timezone. When you’re done, click “Next” on the top-righthand corner of the page.

3. Choose either “Interests” or “Location” as your targeting method.

Twitter can promote tweets to an audience based on their interests or location. Choose one of these methods and follow Step 4 or Step 5, below, depending on your choice.

4. Choose up to five interests associated with your target audience.

audience-interests-promoted-tweets

If you choose to target an audience based on their interests, select this option, hit “Next,” and Twitter will take you to the page shown above. Here, you can select a maximum of five interests related to your ideal audience.

Keep in mind the more interests you select, the more types of people your promoted tweet will appear in front of.

5. Choose up to five locations associated with your target audience.

audience-location-promoted-tweetsIf you choose to target an audience based on their location, select this option, hit “Next,” and Twitter will take you to the page shown above. Here, you can search a specific city, state, and country where you want your ad to appear.

You can select up to five locations where you’d like your tweet to be promoted. Keep in mind you can only place promoted tweets in front of users who live in the U.S., the U.K., or Japan.

6. Review your ad criteria and select “Proceed.”

Once you’ve customized your audience’s interests or location, hit “Next” and Twitter will show you an overview of your ad criteria, including your bill.

Sound good to you? Review your ad criteria and check that you agree to the Twitter Promote Mode’s Terms of Service at the bottom of this page. Then, click “Proceed” on the top-righthand corner of your screen.

7. Add your billing information and launch your promoted tweet.

If you haven’t yet added billing information, Twitter will ask you to enter it in the following screen. Select “Save” and follow the prompts to officially promote your tweet.

There you have it! No matter which type of Twitter ad you create, be sure to keep an eye on your campaigns as they run and continue to optimize them for better results in the future.

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Everything I’ve Learned About Podcasting as HubSpot’s Podcast Marketer

Have you ever noticed how quickly things can change? A new product or service revolutionizes an industry overnight, and it becomes hard to imagine life before it. Who remembers T9 now that talk-to-text is so mainstream? Is anyone still holding onto the number for a reliable taxi service? Or, do we rely on our Uber and Lyft apps instead?

In the world of audio, there’s been a massive (albeit slower shift) in the way people consume this content. The catalyst? A rise in podcast content paired with advancements in technology.

Here at HubSpot, we’ve been watching the world of podcasting grow and change. We’ve even been testing the proverbial podcast waters ourselves. If you’re considering creating your own podcast or advertising through one, this post is for you.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty of podcasting, let’s take a brief history lesson.

A Brief History of Podcasts

The word “podcast” is a combination of “iPod” and “Broadcast.” Adam Curry and Dave Winer coined the term when they created a program called iPodder in 2004. iPodder automatically downloaded internet radio broadcasts and uploaded them to an iPod — thus creating the first ever podcast.

Apple picked up on this trend in 2005 by adding “Podcast Support” to iTunes. They solidified podcasting as a core part of their service by creating the early Top 100 charts, and, in 2012, releasing a dedicated podcast app.

By pre-installing dedicated podcast apps on all phones and showcasing podcast content on iTunes, Apple successfully secured its position as the biggest podcast marketplace.

Even today, we see how Apple’s early investment in the podcasting space has given the company a de facto top spot in the market. Apple makes up two-thirds of podcast listeners while iPhones only make up about 12% of all smartphones. (For reference, Spotify has the second-largest listenership — and they make up 7% of listeners.)

From Broadcast to Podcast: Podcast vs. Radio

From our POV here at HubSpot, it’s clear we’re slowly moving away from audio you tune into and towards on-demand audio.

This shift from broadcast to podcast is driven by two primary factors: content and technology.

There are currently
over 660,000 active podcasts. From popular news shows and chat shows to fictional storytelling and true crime, almost everything is a podcast. Additionally, there’s plenty of successful podcast content that would never work for broadcast radio, such as the free-wheeling, interview-based news show
Pod Save America — which is consistently over an hour.

In terms of technology, smartphones have given everyone on-demand access to podcast content, newer, cheaper headphones are everywhere, and smart speakers are making their way into homes across the world.

The way we listen has fundamentally changed to an always-on, on-demand streaming experience. People are moving to podcasts in the same way were moving towards on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.

This massive shift in consumer behavior is driving a lot more listeners to podcasts, and with more listeners comes more marketing and more advertisers.

It’s never been easier to start a business, but it’s never been harder to succeed. Download new episodes of the Growth Show and learn something new today: https://www.playpodca.st/growthshow/

Trouble in Podcast-Land

Podcasting today is facing a dilemma that mirrors the US economy: there’s a widening gap between the top 1% of podcasts and the other 99%. This divide is exacerbated by a central issue with podcast content — discoverability.

Despite its mass growth, podcasts are mainly discovered in two ways: word-of-mouth and iTunes charts. Moreover, podcasts at the top of the charts tend to get recommended more often, further solidifying their leading position. The only way to break through is to have an incredibly innovative show or a massive marketing budget — and most successful shows have both.

In response, both independent and funded podcast networks like Radiotopia, Gimlet, and Wondery have formed. Those that are funded by venture capitalist money, though, are able to simultaneously launch multiple high-production shows and promote their shows with huge marketing budgets.

This shift became crystal clear through my experience with HubSpot’s own flagship podcast, The Growth Show. When the show launched in 2016, it got a few thousand downloads and ranked in the top 25 business podcasts. Three years later, we’re getting more downloads per episode (almost half from our back catalog — episodes that are 60+ days old). Yet, we’re still struggling to break into the top 200 business podcasts.

podcast-hubspot-expert-1Big platforms are investing more in podcast content, and VCs are throwing cash at podcast networks … this behavior begs the question, “Why?” I think, instead, we should be asking, “Who?”

Everything You Need to Know About the Podcast Listener

According to Edison Research, the average podcast listener is a well-educated, high-earning millennial. Podcasting is also one of the few channels with a listenership that accurately reflects the general population. The number of men and women who listen to podcasts is nearly equal, and, in terms of ethnicity, the makeup of podcast listeners roughly mirrors the actual demographics of the United States.

Overall, it’s easiest to say that everyone listens to podcasts.

Habits of the Podcast Listener

Most research on podcast listenership divides listeners into a few categories: 1) listeners who’ve heard of podcasting, 2) listeners who listen monthly, and 3) listeners who listen weekly.

At the most frequent, weekly podcast listeners consume 5+ hours of content across about seven shows. Anecdotally, that typically breaks down into two dedicated shows, two occasional shows, and two brief shows.

Whether it be over-sharers on Instagram or keyboard cowboys on Facebook, every medium has a group of obsessed folks who want to consume everything. In podcasting, these people are called speed listeners. They represent a small segment that’s set on consuming as much audio content as possible. To do this, they adjust the podcast playback speed to 1.5x, 2x, or even 3x.

This consistent, loyal group of intensive podcast users is a good indicator that the medium has built up a devoted following — and isn’t going away anytime soon.

Download our free e-book on how to start a podcast, written by the former producer of HubSpot’s The Growth Show himself: https://offers.hubspot.com/how-to-start-a-podcast

Podcast Engagement is Off the Charts

Whether you’re a monthly listener or daily speed listener, one thing is clear: audio content is engaging. When comparing podcast content to other channels like blogs, social media, and video, we see some distinct differences.

1. Podcasts are long form.

The best podcasts are at least 30 minutes long. Take a look at the top shows, and you’ll find their average episode length is over 45 minutes long. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is consistently a Top 100 podcast, and his episodes are often over four hours long. Joe Rogan’s Joe Rogan Experience podcast is released weekly and most episodes average two to three hours. Although there are some benefits to a short podcast, the majority of podcast listeners enjoy their long-form content.

2. Consumption is almost 100%.

As a long-time marketer who’s created videos, hosted webinars, and run workshops, I’ve found that audience content consumption is rarely over 80%. A recent report by Sumo found that the average blog visitor only about a quarter of an article and only 20% of readers finish the articles at all. On the other hand, webinars attendees often arrive late, exit early, and sometimes leave in the middle.

Furthermore, according to research by Wistia on optimal video length, videos that exceed two minutes experience a clear drop-off in consumption traffic. Wistia also found that videos under two minutes have a 70% engagement rate; at six minutes, engagement drops to 50%, and at 12 minutes, engagement falls to below half.

Podcasts are different. To compare: On our own HubSpot shows, most people are listening to over 85% of the show.

3. Podcast advertisements are memorable.

Let’s face it — most advertisements are hardly noticeable. We walk by or fast-forward without a second glance. On the other hand, podcasts generally rely on host-read ads. These ads are novel, authentic, and interesting. According to a report comparing podcast ads to digital ads by Nielsen, podcast ads generate 4.4x better brand recall than display ads. That includes scroll static and pop-up ads on other digital media platforms. The study also found that 61% of consumers who heard the podcast ads were likely to purchase the featured product.

With such high engagement, podcasts have become a surprisingly effective ad channel. Now, here’s what we’ve learned about advertising.

Everything We’ve Learned About Podcast Advertising

We’ve tested advertising for HubSpot Academy on our three podcasts and have sponsored a few podcasts in the past — and we’ve learned a lot.

Traditionally, podcasts have three places for ads: Pre-roll (before the show starts), mid-roll (in the middle of the show), and post-roll (at the end of the show).

Pre- and post-roll ad spots are generally cheaper than mid-roll and tend to take less time. Most ads have some sort of call-to-action that prompts listeners to go to a specific URL or use a specific discount code in order to get a discount.

One of the most frustrating aspects of podcast advertising is how difficult it is to track. As a digital marketer, you can see how many people download or listen to your show and how many people follow the URL or enter the discount code … and that’s it.

Good news: The cost per impression (CPM) for podcast ads is still relatively cheap. If you are considering sponsoring a podcast, here’s the standard formula.

Podcast Sponsorship = (# of Downloads Per Episode / 1000) x CPM

Note: The CPM (Cost per Thousand) generally ranges from $20-$50.

So far, we’re confident that podcast ads are effective and that the CPM is affordable. So, potential podcast advertisers should keep a few things in mind:

  1. Audience Analysis: What type of listener does the show attract and are they a good fit for your product?
  2. Sponsorship Schedules: What’s your timeline? Most major podcasts with sizable download numbers are booked months in advance.
  3. Frequency > Reach: From our own experiments with promoting our podcast on other podcasts, we found that we got a larger lift in total download numbers when we had ads appearing more frequently in on a single podcast versus a single ad on larger podcasts.

It’s never been easier to start a business, but it’s never been harder to succeed. Download new episodes of the Growth Show and learn something new today: https://www.playpodca.st/growthshow/

Is getting in front of podcast listeners your goal? If your answer is a resounding “Yes!”, here’s your next question: Do you want to rent or own this audience?

To put it into podcasting terms: Do you sponsor a podcast, or do you create your own?

Rent Your Audience or Make Your Own Podcast

Despite what you may have heard, podcasting is not easy. Simply tossing a live mic between two people chatting rarely makes for a good show. As more and more podcasts are created, quality (and the demand for quality) has skyrocketed.

If you’re dreaming of being the next How I Built This, you need to be prepared to put some serious time and effort behind your production.

That being said, there are some distinct advantages to owning a smaller, devoted audience than renting ad space on a much larger podcast. Here are the advantages when you create a podcast:

  • You get control of the ad space. You can promote your company and products or services during the ad space. Better yet, you can make an extra buck promoting someone else’s.
  • You gain additional impressions. Not only is your audience engaging with your content and potentially hearing ads for your business, but every time they see the podcast creator, it’s also an additional impression.
  • You can create a network. If you’re large enough and have the resources to create multiple podcasts, the promotion of one show can drive listeners to another show by the same producer by saying there are “more by this provider.”

podcast-hubspot-expert-2

Final Thoughts

Sponsoring or starting a podcast is something every brand should consider. Podcast popularity and listenership will only continue to rise and, with it, the opportunity to connect with people in a new and novel way.

Audio content is one of the best opportunities out there for brands. My best advice? Don’t let this one pass you by.

11 of the Best WordPress Popup Plugins

“Invasive.”

“In your face.”

“Annoying.”

“Disruptive.”

These are probably some of the first words that come to mind when you think of popup forms. But popup forms don’t have to be those things.

Despite their overwhelmingly bad reputation, popups bring conversions. However, high conversion potential is not worth sacrificing user experience. Lucky for you, there’s a way to leverage the high-conversion potential of popups without driving your users crazy (or worse — driving them away.)

(Check out our comprehensive popup forms analysis to learn how to create user friendly popups that don’t suck.)

In this post, we’ll take a look at some WordPress popup plugins to help you create beautiful popup boxes that will grab your visitors’ attention and increase conversions.

But before we dive into the tools, let’s take a look at the features you should keep an eye out for to determine if a plugin is best for your specific needs.

What to look for in a WordPress Popup Plugin

Popup plugins offer a multitude of features — from customization to screen display locations and built-in analytics — but the most important features to watch out for are targeting and trigger options.

Targeting refers to where the popup will appear on your website, and who it will be shown to. Popular ways to target users with popups include page-level targeting, geolocation, device, and traffic source.

Triggers are actions that a user needs to take for the popup to appear. Popular trigger options include page entrance, scroll depth, clicks, time on page, and exit intent.

Having a few popup forms on your WordPress website could boost your lead capturing game. A quick Google search shows that there are many tools to choose from. To help you sort through the clutter and find a tool that moves the needle for your team, we’ll take a look at 11 WordPress popup plugins you should consider below.

1. HubSpot WordPress Plugin

HubSpot’s plugin allows you to connect your WordPress website to your HubSpot account for a seamless integration. Any changes made to your popups in your HubSpot portal will be automatically reflected on your WordPress website, without any extra work on your part.

 

HubSpot’s popup tool is highly intuitive and easy to use. You are first prompted to select the type of popup you want (box, banner, or slide-in) and then taken to the customizer where you can edit the text, add an image and relevant form fields, and even design your own thank-you message at the end.

Every contact you capture is automatically added to your free HubSpot CRM account. You can also target users by simply typing in the URL of the page(s) you want your popup to show up on and choose whether you want it to be triggered by a 50% page scroll, exit intent, or time elapsed. And if users decide to dismiss your popup, you can choose when they will be exposed to it again.

All the features in this tool are free.

2. Ninja Popups

Ninja Popups is one of CodeCanyon’s top selling plugins. For $26, you gain access to their drag-and-drop popup builder with over 70 templates and animation effects to choose from.

And if you want more than just forms, Ninja Popups lets you create all kinds of popups, such as video displays and social sharing boxes. Its anti-adblocker technology lets you show your popups even to visitors who use ad blockers. This plugin also offers page-level targeting, and trigger options include scroll depth, time on page, exit intent, and user inactivity.

Although there is no free version, at only $26, Ninja Popups offers some of the most creative freedom for the price.

3. Elementor Popups

Design stunning popups with the popular page builder plugin Elementor and their Popup Builder feature. Elementor Popups uses the same interface as the page builder, allowing you to apply the same widgets and styling options to your popups, like buttons, countdown timers, email opt-in forms, and more. Similarly to many of the other plugins, this one offers a variety of popup forms like fly-ins and full-screen overlays.

With more than 100 beautiful templates to choose from, this popup builder lets you create WordPress specific page targeting options (categories, tags, post formats, etc.) with several triggers to choose from, such as click, time, scroll, inactivity, and exit intent.

This plugin does not come with built-in analytics or A/B split testing. And while the Elementor page builder plugin is free to use, this popup builder is only available when you purchase the pro version, which costs $49 for one website, and up to $199 for unlimited sites.

4. Sumo List Builder

Sumo is more than just a popup form builder. On top of growing your email list, this plugin also helps with your social media, link building, and site analytics. The app has a module called List Builder, which allows you to create popups. You can set you popups to show up according to traffic source or different triggers such as clicks, time on page, exit intent and scroll depth.

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Though this plugin comes with a free version, only one template is available in the free tier and you’ll need to upgrade to remove the Sumo branding. Premium plans start at $29/month, which puts Sumo on the more expensive side compared to other popup plugins.

5. PopUp Domination

PopUp Domination is one of the oldest popup tools out there. However, this hasn’t stopped them from making the right updates to stay competitive on the market. Its visual interface still makes it fairly easy to customize one of the 100+ pre-built templates available. This plugin lets you show your popup to different users based on time on page, user inactivity, exit intent, clicks, total time on website, and mouse hover. On top of page-level targeting, more advanced targeting options include geolocation, traffic source, and device.

PopUp Domination has an interesting pricing structure. Each tier grants you access to all the features: unlimited domains and popups, A/B testing, live chat support, and more. Instead of being charged to have access to more features, you’re charged based on the number of total views your popups get across all of your websites. If you want to use your popups on many websites that have low traffic, PopUp Domination might be a good solution. However, if you have very few sites with high traffic volumes, this may not be the best option for you.

6. OptinMonster

OptinMonster was one of the firsts to popularize the use of popup forms in the marketing space. Its drag-and-drop feature makes it highly easy to use. You can choose from a variety of pre-built templates or create your own popup from scratch. Their Canvas feature allows you to create any type of popup (not just forms!) with the use of custom HTML/CSS and WordPress shortcodes.

Small Success is another unique feature that lets you display different offers to people who have already converted on one of your popups so you won’t annoy your visitors by showing them forms they’ve already signed up for. You gain access to plenty of triggers, such as exit intent, time on page, user inactivity, clicks, as well as many advanced targeting options like new vs returning visitor, cookie, geolocation, device, adblock usage, and more.

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The main drawback with this plugin is that there is no free version. Plans start at $9/month, but you will need to upgrade to a higher tier for the more advanced features like A/B testing and exit intent.

7. Icegram

If you’re looking for a more native option, Icegram lets you create popups right from the WordPress dashboard, thought its text-based interface makes it slightly less user friendly than most. Icegram’s trigger options include time on page, exit intent, user inactivity, clicks, and time delay. Targeting options include page, user retargeting, device, and geolocation.

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This plugin offers a fair amount of value for free, but to access more functionalities, you will want to upgrade. Premium plans start at $97/year.

8. Popup Maker

Popup Maker offers a lot of flexibility in terms of what you can build. In addition to opt-in forms, you can create cookie notices, video lightboxes, notification boxes, etc.

A big draw of this plugin is its WooCommerce integration, which lets you target users based on their shopping cart items, purchase data, and more. However, this plugin’s lack of a visual editor makes it less friendly to use.

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You can use Popup Maker for free, but for more functionality, individual extensions can be purchased starting at $35 each, or get the full extension bundle for $16/month.

9. Bloom Email Opt-Ins

Provided to you by the devs at Elegant Themes (authors of the popular Divi theme), Bloom comes with over 100 templates to customize and lets you create a variety of forms on top of popups, including widgets, inline boxes, and optin lockers which you can use for gated content. Along with basic page targeting, this plugin contains unique trigger options — for example, make a popup appear after a user has left a comment on your page or after a user has made a purchase.

Despite its high-quality templates and beautiful dashboard, Bloom lacks a lot of the advanced features other plugins offer like an exit intent trigger option, and it doesn’t have a visual customizer.

Because this plugin comes from Elegant Theme, you can only access it by purchasing an Elegant Theme subscription, which costs $89/year or $249 for lifetime support and updates. This subscription also gives you access to 87 premium themes and 2 other plugins. But if all you’re looking for is a popup plugin, this may not be worth the investment.

10. Popups

Popups offers WordPress specific targeting options, using AND/OR rules and criteria such as page, referrer, user activity and logged-in status, and device. Trigger options include timing, scroll depth, exit intent, and specific page elements. Popups is also compatible with many form plugins, but those integrations need to be configured using AJAX.

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This plugin starts free, but for more functionality, you can purchase a single-site license for $39.

11. Popup Builder

Popup Builder lets you insert any type of content into your popups and create custom animation effects. It offers features like automatic closing, user retargeting, and time delay triggers, as well as integrations with email service providers MailChimp and AWeber.

While this plugin can be used for free, just like Popup Maker, you will need to purchase extensions for additional functionality. Individual extension prices vary between $5 and $15, but you can get the full bundle starting at $49/month.

Choose whichever plugin fits your needs the best.

There are endless options when it comes to WordPress popup tools.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to collect user information and convert leads, check out HubSpot’s free form popup WordPress plugin. Installing the plugin will automatically connect your demand capture tools to the free HubSpot CRM so you can easily create follow-up emails for people who have filled out your form, track their activity on your site, and manage your leads all in one place.

Hiring and Recruiting Great Employees: The Ultimate Guide

I was part of a college Co-op program that required students to take a semester off from classes and work a full-time position at a company in which we were hired. When I started applying to Co-op jobs, I noticed how much the recruiting and hiring processes varies between companies.

Some companies recruited us directly from LinkedIn or our school’s networking site. Others required us to find and read detailed job descriptions, ensure our experiences met all listed requirements, and submit a long job application and cover letter.

After college, while searching for both my first and second jobs, I found myself in the same recruiting and hiring situations with the businesses I was interested in working for — each company had unique procedures they followed when filling open positions.

As a business, it’s expected you’ll have some of your own processes for recruiting and hiring candidates. Every company has different needs, timelines, expectations, and resources when it comes to bringing on new employees. But there are also some general tips and tricks practically any company can apply to find ideal candidates.

In this guide, we’ll cover those tips, why it’s important to incorporate diversity and inclusion in your hunt for the right candidates, and other factors to keep in mind when recruiting and hiring. But first, let’s talk about the differences between recruiting and hiring.

Both the acts of recruiting and hiring also include reaching out to a chosen candidate to offer them a job.

Now that we’ve reviewed the definitions of recruiting and hiring, let’s cover those tips we mentioned will help you find the right candidates for your business.

The following five tips are universal, making them applicable to almost every type of recruiting and hiring situation at any company. However, feel free to modify these tips to meet your specific needs and goals.

1. Use employer branding.

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you begin developing your company’s approach to recruiting and hiring is to use employer branding. Employer branding is how you market your company to all candidates and job seekers. The way you do this impacts your ability to attract the best prospects and make them want to join your team.

To leverage employer branding in your recruiting and hiring processes, first determine what makes your business unique. Some examples might include your company’s:

  • Benefits
  • Career development opportunities
  • Competitive salaries
  • Workplace perks
  • Workplace culture

Once you’ve identified these things, you should list them in the following locations: 

  • Your website
  • Your job descriptions
  • Your initial recruiting messages
  • The job search websites in which you post your openings

2. Write enticing and inclusive job descriptions.

Whether you’re recruiting or hiring, you’ll need to write enticing job descriptions to attract a wide pool of impressive candidates (even candidates who are recruited are often still required to complete an application prior to an interview). Professional job descriptions that represent your brand and highlight why working for your company is so appealing will make your applicants excited about the prospect of joining your team.

Additionally, inclusive job descriptions will help you attract a diverse group of candidates. You want a diverse pool of candidates because it’s proven companies that place emphasis on diversity while expanding their teams are 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry median — and who wouldn’t want that? Also, 67% of job seekers today say they look for a diverse workplace when searching for a new job.

Here are some ways to ensure you’re writing enticing and inclusive job descriptions that will appeal to qualified and unique candidates:

  • Introduce your company with your employer branding and company profile information (which describes how your company started and why you create and sell the products you do).
    • This can include details about your company’s culture and corporate image if you choose.
  • Clearly list all necessary position skills and requirements you have for your applicants. This will help you vet candidates. However, be sure they’re only the 100% necessary skills and requirements to broaden and diversify your pool of applicants.
    • Keep your “must have” requirements and leave out the “nice to have” requirements. These have the potential to make a candidate feel as though they don’t meet all of your requirements and deter them from applying at all.
  • Include diverse language and inclusive company information in your job descriptions. Remove any unnecessary corporate language, abbreviations, and less common industry terminology such as PIPs, XML sitemaps, or KPIs. Also, mention specific company benefits regarding things like maternity and paternity leave and your workplace diversity initiatives.
    • Include a statement in your job descriptions explaining your focus on and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
    • Take advantage of tools such as Gender Decoder and Textio which help you diversify the language in your job descriptions (or anywhere on your website for that matter).

3. Advertise your job opening.

Next, you’ll want to advertise your job opening so you can begin reviewing applications and interviewing candidates. This process might look slightly different depending on whether you’re recruiting or hiring for a position. 

Here are some examples of ways you might share your job opening with candidates you’re looking to recruit

  • Reach out to the candidate directly via LinkedIn or another job search website.
  • Recruit soon-to-be graduates from a college campus. For example, your company may host a networking event to meet and interview students on campus.
  • Connect with employee referrals. For example, your company might have an employee referral program in which they can introduce you to people they believe would be a great fit for a specific opportunity.

Here are a couple of ways you might advertise your opening if you’re hiring a candidate.

  • Use a job search website (or a few) to share your opportunity and job description. Some of the most popular sites include:
  • Advertise your opportunity on your company’s social media accounts. You can also add a link to your careers page and/or specific job description to your bio.

4. Prepare for your interviews.

Job seekers aren’t the only people who should prepare for interviews — as their potential employer, you should too. This will streamline your interview process, ensure all applicants are given an equal opportunity to “wow” you during an interview, and make sure your interview feels professional and thoughtful.

Here are some ways you can do this:

5. Measure your hiring success.

It’s safe to assume all businesses want their company’s processes and strategies to work well — this includes recruiting and hiring efforts, too.

So, to make sure your recruiting and hiring procedures are successful, you’ll want to analyze the outcome of your efforts. This will allow you to determine whether or not you’re making the right decisions for your company, employees, and new hires on a consistent basis.

Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Check-in with the managers and coworkers of your new hire to ensure that person is meeting all expectations.
  • Check-in with your new hire to ensure they’re happy with their position and feel prepared to be successful in their role.
  • Make sure your company has frequent performance reviews for all employees so you can review their work and level of impact on the business since being recruited and hired.
  • Ask your current employees about what they feel could be improved in terms of recruiting and hiring — whether that be adding more diversity, changing the interview process in some way, or updating the format of, or details in, your job descriptions.
  • Perform an analysis of employee recommendations and referrals to see how successful those candidates are vs. the new candidates you hire. This will give you insight into how valuable your employee referrals are and how well your current employees know who’d be a good fit at your company.

Now that we’ve reviewed the five major tips you should follow when recruiting and hiring, let’s cover some important details about why you should promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Did you know 57% of businesses today say they currently have diversity strategies for hiring and recruiting in place? You might be wondering why that’s the case. Simply put — diverse and inclusive workplaces have repetitively been proven to be more successful and bring in at least 19% more revenue. Not to mention, it’s a great idea to build workforce that represents the world we live in.

Before we dive into more reasons why diversity and inclusion (D&I) are critical considerations when recruiting and hiring, let’s review what the phrase diversity and inclusion in the workplace means.

What is diversity and inclusion at work?

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that reflects the makeup of society. It’s a work environment that accepts and understands people of different inherent and acquired backgrounds — which we’ll define momentarily — and sees the value of incorporating these factors every day.

Inherent Diversity vs. Acquired Diversity

Inherent diversity is defined by your demographic characteristics such as age, ethnicity, and sex. Acquired diversity is defined by the traits you develop over time and through experiences such as education, skills, and values. Both of these factors are major components of a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Why is D&I critical when hiring and recruiting?

Diversity and inclusion are critical considerations when hiring and recruiting. Incorporating D&I in your plans to expand your company allows for greater business growth. In fact, it has been proven to increase earnings and improve returns on equity and product development. It also helps you attract and retain employees as well as foster a positive work environment.

Benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

There are a number of ways recruiting and hiring for a diverse and inclusive work environment will benefit your company. We’ve put together this list of seven of the most common reasons for this below.

Workplace D&I …

1. Allows for more innovation.

2. Promotes better performance and ideation.

3. Helps you become a leader in your industry.

4. Improves your culture and appeals to a wider range of talent.

5. Enhances your customer service and support.

6. Promotes creativity and the implementation of new processes.

7. Improves employee engagement.

How to Support D&I in Your Hiring and Recruiting Processes

You understand the benefits of incorporating diversity and inclusion in your hiring and recruiting efforts. But how should you go about supporting these processes within your company? How do you start becoming a diverse and inclusive workplace?

Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Write inclusive job descriptions and incorporate diverse language, as mentioned earlier.
  • Include a diversity and inclusion page on your website.
    • This way, your candidates can review all of your efforts and goals regarding diversity and inclusion on their own.
  • Be sure to interview a wide range of candidates for each job opening you have.
    • Don’t just stick to one specific mold when it comes to your candidate type (even if you think it’ll be the right one in the end).
  • Be aware of unconscious bias when recruiting, hiring, interviewing, and offering a candidate a position at your company.
  • Continue to focus on D&I after you hire candidates. This will allow you to maintain a diverse and inclusive work environment and prepare all employees (whether or not they’re in HR) for any interviews they may conduct in the future.
    • You can also host D&I events, create D&I workplace support groups, and consistently ask for employee feedback regarding the topic.

Five Recruiting and Hiring Factors to Consider

Now that we’ve reviewed recruiting and hiring tips as well as why promoting diversity and inclusion is critical to your business’ success, let’s cover five factors related to recruiting and hiring that are important to consider and often overlooked. This will help you prepare for any situation that comes your way while looking for candidates.

1. Your Company’s Current Recruiting and Hiring Policies

If you work for an established company, there might already be recruiting and hiring policies in place, Be aware of these when interviewing and searching for the right person to fill a job opening. These may include procedures for managing a job opening, how to handle employee referrals, or how to interview. Additionally, if you’re working with hiring managers to fill a role at your company, they should have all the necessary knowledge regarding your recruiting and hiring procedures.

However, if you’re at a startup or smaller company, you might want to work with someone who has a background in HR to put some of these recruiting and hiring policies and procedures in place. This way, you’ll be sure to give all candidates equal opportunity, organize your recruiting and hiring processes for all future job openings (and any HR leaders who join your team), and ensure professional interactions among hiring managers, employees, and candidates.

2. The Size of Your Business and Your Available Resources

Depending on the size of your business, you might have different needs and available resources when it comes to recruiting and hiring. For example, if you’re a startup, you’ll likely have different candidate needs than a company looking to hire their 900th employee — maybe you prefer a highly versatile type of candidate versus someone specialized in a specific task.

Additionally, you might have a different level of available resources depending on your company size. If you’re a newer company, you may not have the same budget as the company searching for their 900th employee. Therefore, you might stick to posting your job descriptions on job search sites and using other inexpensive recruiting and hiring tactics you’re interested in trying.

If you do have the resources, you could potentially bring on a hiring consultant, professional recruiter, or expand your HR department and organize it into specialities such as marketing hiring managers and sales hiring managers.

3. Any Changes in the Job Market

Another consideration you should take into account whenever you’re recruiting or hiring for any position is the ever-changing job market. The job market has the potential to impact your search for the right candidate — it might cause your search to be a long and difficult process or make your search quick and easy.

That’s because the job market — which is largely based on the economy — fluctuates in terms of the number of job seekers and the demand for labor. Other factors which consistently impact the job market include industry and the need for a certain level of education. Being prepared for changes in the job market is always a good idea so you’re ready for any scenario if and when a position at your company becomes available.

Here are three ways you can do this:

  • Keep an eye on job listings in your industry and at companies similar to yours.
  • Update your website’s job listings regularly and ensure your company is active on LinkedIn and other job search and review sites.
  • Stay up to speed on popular degrees, trends, and fields of study.

4. The Possibility of Salary Negotiations With New Hires

Part of the recruiting and hiring processes includes extending a job offer. This means you might also be dealing with salary negotiations. As of 2019, 55% of people questioned in a survey said they tried negotiating their salary upon receiving their offer. So, be prepared and put a plan in place for the way you (and your fellow employees and/or HR team) will manage salary negotiations.

5. Any Candidates Who May Choose to Drop Out

Just because you’re the one interviewing candidates and extending the job offers doesn’t mean your favorite candidates will also choose you in return. Whether it’s during the first round of interviews or once you offer someone a job, you could potentially find yourself in a situation where your top candidate has decided to drop out of the running or deny your offer.

By simply being prepared for all outcomes and leaving the other qualified candidates in the mix until you have ensured your top candidate has officially accepted your offer, you’ll avoid having to start over again with an entirely new pool of candidates.

Start Recruiting and Hiring

By fine-tuning your business’ recruiting and hiring processes, you’ll be able to find ideal candidates to fill the open positions at your company. So, follow the tips mentioned above and consider the benefits of diversity and inclusion when establishing the procedures you implement at your company. By doing this, you’ll expand your team and pool of talent, and propel your business towards success both financially and in terms of workplace culture. 

The 5 Best Free Resume Builders We’ve Ever Discovered

A couple weeks ago, my brother Max sent me his resume in a text message, and asked me to ‘spruce it up a bit’ for him.

Undoubtedly, I needed to do more than copy-and-paste the text into a Word document. To truly stand out, I knew the resume needed to demonstrate a level of professionalism and effort — something content alone can’t always convey.

Use these marketing resume templates to create a killer resume. 

Fortunately, with the help of Zety, I was able to input Max’s resume information, choose a template, and have Zety design the piece for me, within a span of 20 minutes:

Looks a little better than a text message, doesn’t it?

Resume builders are incredibly helpful when creating a resume, and can help you showcase your unique personality. Best of all, they look a lot sleeker than whatever you can design in a Google Doc.

To ensure you can create a resume for free, we’ve compiled this list of the five best free resume builders we’ve discovered. Keep reading, and then get to work designing your own — trust me, with these tools, it’s almost as easy as sending a text.

Featured Resource: HubSpot Resume Templates

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Download these free templates and plug in your experience and information for a custom, well-crafted resume. 

1. Resume Genius

Resume Genius is undoubtedly one of the easiest and fastest free resume tools you have at your disposal. With a clean and easy-to-use interface, the tool walks you (speedily) through categories including education, work experience, and references, and offers eight different templates varying from ‘Taj Mahal’ to ‘Classic’. Resume Genius provides you with easy fill-in-the-blank sections, so you can have an impressive, comprehensive resume in no time.

2. My Perfect Resume

My Perfect Resume allows you to either start from scratch and input information into a blank template, or upload a pre-existing resume if you already have one. Additionally, the tool provides you with expert recommendations as you move throughout the process, including suggested phrases you can include for specific roles.

My Perfect Resume also enables you to include optional sections like certifications, accomplishments, and affiliations, which is vital particularly if you’re just starting out, or switching industries. This tool is particularly useful if you’re applying for a creative role and want to add color or a unique design to your resume.

To use My Perfect Resume for free, click “Download” on the left toolbar once you reach the final step of the builder — instead of selecting “Save and next”. Then, choose “Plain Text (.txt)” to download your resume for free.

3. Standard Resume

Standard Resume allows you to import your information straight from LinkedIn, making it an ideal time-savor if your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date. Plus, the white background and minimalist features enable you to focus on what really matters — your content. You can switch back and forth between “Write” and “Design” to see how your resume looks as you go along, and download as a PDF when you’re finished. Best of all, the tool also makes your resume mobile-responsive, so you can view it on your smartphone.

4. Canva

If you’re applying for a creative role or want a resume that truly lets you stand out, you might consider using one of Canva’s hundreds of free, designer-made templates. Canva’s selections are incredibly varied and unique, so you’ll undoubtedly find one you like, and inputting resume sections can be as easy as copy-and-paste. Additionally, the templates are separated into categories, such as ‘Graphic Design’, ‘Corporate’, and ‘Creative’, making it easier to choose based on your preferred industry.

5. Indeed

Creating an Indeed resume is an incredibly quick process, and best of all, the site allows you to automatically share your resume with employers on Indeed as soon as you’re finished. If you’ve already completed a resume, it’s still a good idea to upload to the site for exposure to potential employers. While it admittedly doesn’t offer as many options for creativity as some of the others in this list, Indeed is an impressive option if you want to create a more traditional resume and start sharing it immediately.

Marketing Resume Templates Download Now

Is CTR Dead? Why Email Marketers Are Tracking CTOR Instead

Ever since email marketing became a legitimate marketing channel in the 1990s, email marketers have largely measured their performance against two metrics — open rate and click-through-rate.

Open rate measures the percentage of recipients who opened your email, which helps you gauge the performance of your subject line. Click-through-rate measures the percentage of recipients who clicked through to your website, regardless if they opened the email or not.

This means that a low open rate can dilute your click-through-rate, even if a large percentage of the recipients who opened your email clicked through to your website. With this in mind, it’s logical to assume that click-through-rate isn’t the best indicator of engagement. So how do you accurately measure your email campaigns’ true level of engagement?

Cue click-to-open rate or CTOR.

Download Now: Email Marketing Planning Template 

At HubSpot, our email marketing team measures their campaigns’ engagement against CTOR because it’s a clear indicator of resonance. “CTOR helps us understand and measure how our email message and CTAs are resonating and performing with our audience,” says Ari Echt-Wilson, the Experiment Head of HubSpot’s Global Messaging Team. “Since the only people who see the message are the ones that open the email, it makes sense for us to measure clicks based on those who opened the email.”

According to Ari, CTOR is arguably the best metric for measuring an email campaign’s resonance. But CTOR can reveal even more insights about your email marketing — it can also help you understand how to improve your campaigns. “If an email is never opened, then it’s hard to grasp how we can move the needle in terms of engagement,” says Tova Miller, a Demand Generation Marketing Manager at HubSpot.

Email marketing might be one of the oldest and most established marketing channels in the digital era, but it’s always adapting, just like every other digital marketing channel. Click-through-rate or CTR reigned as the superior engagement metric for most of email marketing’s history, but click-to-open rate is the new sheriff in town — and it’s a lot more revealing and insightful than its predecessor.

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How to Add Alt Text to Instagram Posts

Want to make your Instagram posts accessible to a wider audience? Did you know you can add extra text to your Instagram posts that help the visually impaired consume your content? In this article, you’ll discover how to write and add alt text to your Instagram posts. What Are Alt Text Tags? Alt text is […]

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How to Learn Excel Online: 21 Free and Paid Resources for Excel Training

Like many marketers, I have a bit of experience with Microsoft Excel. I’ve used it to organize events, plan meals, and sort data — but I don’t have nearly the advanced knowledge I wish I did.

And thanks to those limited skills, I’m constantly subjecting myself to the tedium of updating my spreadsheets manually.

Like me, you’re missing out on a world of Excel training courses that could teach me how to automate my reports and save hours of time.

When I asked even my most Excel-savvy colleagues where they picked up their knowledge, they told me things like, “I mostly learned from colleagues and friends,” or, “When I have a specific question, I ask someone or search on Google.” Fair enough. But as a beginner, I probably have a few too many Excel questions to rely on colleagues — or Google — to answer every one.

Click here to download our collection of free Excel templates that will make  your life easier.

I can’t be the only one out there who wants to master the world’s most popular data analysis and visualization solution — or at least learn how to create charts and graphs that’ll impress my manager.

So in the spirit of becoming a more productive, data-driven marketer, I scoured the internet for the best online resources for learning Excel. Half of them are free, and the ones that aren’t might be worth the investment. In these trainings, you’ll learn the following:

Take a look at the free and paid resources below. Bookmark your favorites and get that much closer to working more efficiently in Excel.

How to Learn Excel With Free Training Resources

1. Microsoft’s Excel Training Center

When it comes to learning a new application, why not start at the source? After all, no one knows Excel better than the people at Microsoft.

In fact, they’ve done a great job putting together the Office Training Center: A resource hub for all Microsoft Office applications and services. The training center for Excel has a whole bunch of free tutorials, videos, and guides on Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone that cover the latest version of Excel, as well as older ones.

Once you click into a platform, you’ll find resources divided by Excel ability: For beginners (like basic math and creating a chart), intermediate users (like sorting and filtering data, conditional formatting, and VLOOKUPs), and advanced users (like pivot tables, advanced IF functions, and how to password-protect worksheets and workbooks).

Source: Microsoft

2. Excel Exposure

Excel Exposure is a free series of written and video-based courses to help you learn Excel regardless of your skill level. There are nearly 40 lessons — split into “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” and “Advanced” — each no more than 20 minutes long.

In addition to this a-la-carte curriculum, Excel Exposure offers a “Master Workbook” that lives directly in Excel to help you practice what you learn in each lesson. Learnings include data and time functions, how to group and ungroup rows and columns, using conditional formatting, PivotTables, chart design, and more.

excel-exposure

3. HubSpot Excel Resources

Seeing as Excel is one of the most in-demand skills for data-driven marketers — and because we want marketers like you to succeed — we’ve created some of our own educational content about Excel here at HubSpot. From free ebooks, to templates, to video tutorials, we aim to cover a wide range of Excel-relevant topics.

Here are a few of our best:

Pivot table training in Excel

4. The Spreadsheet Page

Here’s a very well-organized site that’s chock full of helpful Excel tips, collected by an expert named John Walkenbach. Over the past 30 years, he’s written more than 60 Excel books for users of all levels, and around 300 articles and reviews for magazines like InfoWorld, PC World, and PC/Computing. At one point, he wrote the monthly spreadsheet column for PC World. In other words, the man knows his stuff — and he knows how to present it.

The most helpful part of his website is probably the Excel Tips tab, which has a long list of useful pointers on formatting, formulas, charts and graphics, and printing. The tips themselves include everything from working with fractions, to unlinking a pivot table from its source data, to spreadsheet protection FAQs.

the-spreadsheet-page-tips.png

The Downloads tab is another particularly helpful section of Walkenbach’s site, where he’s added free, ungated download links to files he created, like free Excel workbooks and add-ins. For example, there’s one Excel workbook available for download that gives examples of custom number formats, which you can play with and tweak on your own time, and get familiar with them without having to start from scratch.

5. About.com’s Spreadsheets Page

Many of you are likely familiar with the content website About.com, but did you know it has its own spreadsheets subdomain — much of which is devoted to Excel? There are likely thousands of instruction sets on that site, most of which are illustrated, how-to posts. Plus, fresh content is added regularly.

Each piece of content is categorized according to everything from formulas and formatting, to videos, tools, and templates. If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest spreadsheet news and tips, you can sign up for a free newsletter. There’s just one caveat: the site contains a good amount of ads — but if you can stand them, the content is worth it.

about.com spreadsheets tutorials

6. Contextures

Contextures is a place for free Excel instructions in the form of quick tips, blog posts, a newsletter, and even .zip files you can download to see how various functions work in the context of real tables of data.

This resource has literally hundreds of downloadable spreadsheets that open in Excel and offer step-by-step instructions for performing data validation, adding filters to rows and columns, adding conditional formatting to rows and columns, designing charts, creating PivotTables, running functions, and more.

contextures-excel-files

7. Chandoo.org

Purna “Chandoo” Duggirala, Chandoo.org‘s founder, says he has one goal: “to make you awesome at Excel and charting.” He started the blog in 2007 and, today, it contains more than 450 articles and tutorials on using Excel and making better charts. He’s built the blog as a community, citing values like humility, passion, fun, and simplicity.

He also works to make it a valuable resource for the folks for whom English is not their first language.

Most of his tips stem from forums, where people ask questions about Excel — about formulas, formatting, shortcuts, pivot tables, and so on — and anyone can answer them. Chandoo then uses some of the more helpful forum questions to create articles and tutorials.

Excel training by ChandooSource: Chandoo.org

But it’s not all so formal. For example, Chandoo once created a digital Easter egg hunt for a blog post, which included a downloadable Excel workbook containing seven hidden pandas. Readers were challenged to locate the pandas using clues, Excel techniques, and even “I-Spy” skills.

find-pandas-easter-egg-chandoo.pngSource: Chandoo.org

While the articles, forums, and other parts of the site are free, you can pay to join one of Chandoo’s structured training programs, like Excel School ($97 – $247), or VBA Classes ($97 – $347). Plus, there’s aways the option to buy one of his books — The VLOOKUP Book or Excel Formula Helper Ebook.

8. Excel Easy

Excel Easy is a comprehensive tutorial for learning Excel, breaking down its learnings into chapters. Those chapters are sorted into the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Basics
  • Functions
  • Data Analysis
  • VBA
  • Examples

In each chapter, Excel Easy walks you through what it perceives to be the fundamentals of Excel, in the form of written guides with screenshots to help you master each concept. At the end of the tutorial, you have access too 300 examples showing you how to perform each concept in real scenarios. Concepts include basic formulas and functions, how to create a ribbon, creating multiple worksheets, formatting cells, data validation, table creation, and more.

excel-easy9. MrExcel.com

Here’s a resource that puts we mere mortals in touch with Excel experts. MrExcel.com‘s claim to fame is its interactive message board, which is constantly monitored by its community of Excel gurus.

The board is organized according to subject, like general announcements, questions, and MrExcel.com products. When a user posts a question, a member of the MrExcel.com expert community will reply with an answer. The questions range from simplifying an Excel task, to solving urgent inquiries.

MrExcel training forum

Not a native English speaker? You can ask questions in your native language.

Aside from posting questions on the message board, you can also browse Mr. Excel’s “Hot Topics” — found on the left-hand side of its homepage — which includes things like finding the cumulative sum of even or odd rows, or removing the leading zero within a text field. The site also has a library of helpful Excel books and ebooks, and if you need help with problems that are more complex, you can even hire an Excel consultant directly from the website, for a fee.

10. Exceljet

Exceljet offers hundreds of free formula walk-throughs, videos, and blog posts that allow you to itemize your Excel training based on the project you’re working on. It also has several paid programs that take a deeper dive into specific Excel topics its users — of which there are more than 10,000 — are interested in.

exceljet

11. EdX Excel Courses

Here’s a budget-friendly option for those in search of a more formal course, rather than a one-off tutorial: EdX is a nonprofit that provides free education for people around the globe — with an interesting model of Excel training sessions, both timed and self-paced.

When users enroll in a course that’s marked as “Verified,” they have the option to pay a fee in exchange for an instructor-signed certificate with the institution’s logo, to verify the achievement and increase job prospects. Those fees are used to fund the courses, giving you the option to take them for free if you don’t mind foregoing the certificate.

Otherwise, there are some courses offered at a “Professional Education” level, for which the fee isn’t optional. One example is the Business and Data Analysis Skills course, offered for $60.

To help you choose the right one, each edX course includes reviews (with a rating up to five stars), and information on length and amount of effort, usually measured in hours per week. There are also details on the level of knowledge required, along with video transcripts.

EdX Excel training courses

12. Annielytics Video Tutorials

Annie Cushing, a web analytics data expert, created the Annielytics blog and YouTube channel to share her knowledge with the world. Don’t let the punny name fool you — both are chock full of really good, specific, and in-depth web analytics tips.

While the content here isn’t all Excel-related — much of it is about Google Analytics, for example — it does contain some great Excel video tutorials. Even better, they were created with marketing and web analytics in mind, so they’re directly applicable to things like marketing data reports. The Excel-specific videos can be found here, or by searching her YouTube channel for “Excel”.

Excel video tutorials by Annielytics

The Excel topics vary widely, from how to create interactive pivot tables, to how to add a scrolling table to your dashboard using the INDEX function. The videos also vary in length depending on topic complexity, ranging from two-and-a-half-minutes, to those over half an hour long. To give you an idea of what the videos are like, here’s one of our favorites, which covers a comprehensive overview of Excel charts:

13. Khan Academy

When visitors arrive at the Khan Academy website, they’re greeted with two simple but powerful lines of text: “You only have to know one thing: You can learn anything.” And from algebra to astronomy, this resource offers a plethora of free courses on, well, almost anything — for free.

That includes a few video tutorials on Excel. Most of them are part of larger, multi-installment courses on broader topics, like statistics. A general search for “Microsoft Excel” yields what might look like limited results, but they actually explain some fundamental parts of using Excel, like distributions and fitting lines to data.

Excel training with Khan Academy

How to Learn Excel With Paid Training Resources

14. Lynda.com’s Excel Training and Tutorials

Price: Free to try | $19.99/month membership

If you’re willing to invest a little cash in your Excel training, Lynda’s Excel Training and Tutorials are a worthwhile place to spend it. Members of this LinkedIn subsidiary have access to thousands of courses on business, technology, creative skills, and software that’ll help you work toward your personal and professional goals.

Included are over 100 courses on Excel, and over 4,000 video tutorials covering every version of the program, at any level of expertise. They cover a broad range of topics, from something as general as “Statistics with Excel Part One,” to more niche topics, like “Data Visualization Storytelling Essentials.”

Lynda Excel tutorials

15. Coursera

Price: $79/course

While Lynda.com asks for a monthly all-access membership fee, Coursera charges on a course-to-course basis. Partnering with top universities and organizations worldwide, the site offers online classes on a number of topics, ranging from music production to coaching skills.

There are only a few courses pertaining to Excel, but if you’re looking for one that’s on a formally academic level, they could be a good fit for you. In fact, many of the Excel-related courses come from Duke University, such as “Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business Specialization.”

Coursera Excel courses

That said, these courses don’t come cheap — after all, they’re the same ones that are taught at top universities around the world. And like many real-world classes, each includes video lectures, interactive quizzes, peer-graded assessments, and the opportunity to connect with fellow students and instructors. Once you finish a course, you’ll receive formal recognition, along with an optional course certificate.

16. Udemy

Price: $10.99

If you had six hours to spare, how would you use them? “Sleep,” “clean the house,” and “bake something” are some of the things that come to the top of my mind, but try this on for size — what if you could become an Excel expert in that amount of time?

That’s what Udemy promises in its “Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Expert in 6 Hours” course — for $10.99. Udemy is one of the most bountiful online learning resources out there, and its Excel courses certainly don’t end with that single option. In fact, when I return to the homepage, it displays several additional lessons on the topic, in case I want to explore my options.

Those options are many. In fact, just typing “Excel” into the search bar yields dozens of results, each one displaying a star rating, price, length, and level.

Udemy Excel training courses

17. Intellezy.com

Price: Free to try | $14.95 mo.

Big believers in microlearning, Intellezy’s videos fall in the three- to five-minute range. These nuggets of knowledge are organized into beginner through advanced courses, covering Excel 2007-2016 and Office365. Plus, mobile apps for iOS and Android make it easy to learn on the go.

Intellezy’s videos are really engaging. There’s always an instructor on-screen showing you what to do. And because they’re wired for face-to-face interactions, Intellezy’s instructors really hold your attention. Their courses also include assessments and exercise files so you can see how you’re doing and follow along with the instructor. You can give Intellezy a spin with a free 10-day trial.

Excel course overview by Intellezy

18. Excel Everest

Price: $159

The name of this resource may look intimidating, but you’d be surprised how convenient the training is.

Excel Everest is an out-of-the-box resource that teaches you Excel while you’re in Excel. The product you buy downloads an Excel file to your computer, where you’ll open Excel and engage in walk-throughs of 41 different Excel functions right from a sample spreadsheet. Topics covered include conditional formatting, VLOOKUP, chart creation, and so much more.

This Excel training resource offers hundreds of exercises, along with video tutorials embedded directly in a sample Excel spreadsheet. By applying these concepts in Excel as you learn them, you’ll feel them stick with you long after you complete Excel Everest’s training.

19. Learn iT!

Price: $130/module

Learn iT! offers Excel training in a variety of formats and breaks every lesson down by module. It’s the best solution for Excel users who might not be receptive to just a video series or written step-by-step guide.

With Learn iT!, Excel users can select from five different courses: Pivot Tables, Intro to Data Analysis, Programming with VBA, Excel Power User, and a basic Excel course for general users. Each course states the course’s duration (in days) and the number of modules the course consists of.

The best part about Learn iT! is that you can take your selected course four different ways: an in-person instructor-led session, live online with classmates, privately in a custom-made session, or a self-paced mix of instructor-led and interactive e-learning courses.

Learn iT! Excel Training Course description

20. LinkedIn Learning Products

Price: Free to try | $29.99 mo.

LinkedIn isn’t just for professional networking. You can also learn a ton on various business topics with the help of subject matter experts (SMEs) who host trainings on the LinkedIn Learning platform. Microsoft Excel is one such topic.

Dennis Taylor, a business consultant you can also learn from on Lynda.com, is one SME who hosts Excel training courses on LinkedIn. His courses range from six hours to 23 hours in total training time, and can be completed on your schedule.

Check out LinkedIn Learning for all available Excel courses.

Excel training courses by Dennis Taylor on LinkedIn Learning

21. eLearnExcel

Price: Free to try | $47/course

Not only does eLearnExcel give you eight Excel training courses to choose from, but it awards seven Excel certifications as well.

eLearnExcel makes this promise: by taking all of its Excel courses, you’ll have a skill in Excel that’s greater than 99% of Excel users today. Trusted by Microsoft itself, this suite of training products breaks down Excel’s concepts in easy, digestible video modules — allowing you to learn the Excel concepts that are most relevant to you. Courses range from 45 minutes to six hours in duration.

Seven of these courses award you a certification that corresponds with the course you took. If you complete all seven, you’re awarded an Excel Master Diploma. It’s not a bad item to put on your resume — or on your business’s website, if multiple employees enroll in eLearnExcel’s courses as part of a business subscription.

Ready to get started? With these tools, you’ll be using Excel with little-to-no-sweat, in no time. Plus, practice makes perfect — that’s why there are so many tiered levels of courses available. Start where you can, and as you begin using more functions and commands, you can continue to expand your knowledge.

Want more Excel tips? Check out these free Excel templates.

free excel templates for marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Publishing

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be an author.

People are open to new ideas, readers are consuming content through a variety of media, and traditional publishers no longer stand in the way of releasing a new title.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever considered publishing a book. (Mine is raised right now, too.) Now, keep your hand up if you know how to publish a book. * … slowly lowers hand*

Publishing a book has always been one of those mysterious, cryptic processes reserved for the uber-famous or uber-rich. Books just seem to appear on the bookstore shelves … but they’ve got to come from somewhere, right?

Right. Nowadays, they come from multiple sources, which is good news for those of us who aren’t uber-famous or uber-rich. Regardless of your status, income, hometown, or connections, you (yes, you!) can publish a book.

All you need is a great idea, an even better sense of perseverance and patience, and this guide. Keep reading to learn more about publishing or use the chapter links below to skip ahead.

The publishing industry hasn’t always been so diverse and accessible, though. From the very early days of cave walls, clay tablets and papyrus to the modern era of eBooks, the publishing industry has undergone many major changes.

Here are some highlights.

  • 1456: The Gutenberg Press publishes the first book ever: the Bible.
  • 1776: Common Sense is written and self-published by Thomas Paine. He sold over 100,000 copies within three months.
  • 1800s: The Penny Press arrives in the U.S., making newspapers and news accessible for a penny. Since more people can consume news for less (versus just the rich), letters to the editor increase.
  • 1940-1970: The first eBook is published, although historians disagree on which one was truly first.
  • 2000s: Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter emerge, as does blogging. Instead of sending letters to the editor, the masses take to blogging to share their voice and opinions.
  • 2007: Print on-demand gains traction. Amazon releases Kindle.
  • 2009: Self-published titles surge to double the amount of traditionally published titles.
  • 2011: eBook sales surpass printed books for the first time in history.

As for 2018, this year has seen an increase in traditional and indie bookstore sales. Audiobooks have also become the fastest growth area in self-publishing. Lastly, most authors are opting to become hybrid authors — meaning they make their books available in both traditional and electronic formats. How do they do this? Keep reading to find out.

What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Self-Publishing?

So, we’ve referenced traditional and self-publishing (or indie publishing) multiple times so far. What do these processes mean? How are they similar and different?

Traditional publishing refers to the process of working with an agent and/or publishing house to edit, release, and market a book. Despite the lack of creative control given to authors in the traditional publishing process, once a publisher purchases a manuscript, they assume all financial risk with selling your book. New authors with little to no audience or follower base might choose to publish traditionally.

On the other hand, self-publishing is when authors assume all creative and financial control of the publishing process. They choose which independent agents, editors, designers, and distributors to work with, and they assume all or most financial risk associated with putting their book out. Experienced authors or people with a large audience (from a blog or social media) might choose to self-publish.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to publish books via these different processes. Before we dive in, though, let’s define a few other popular terms in the publishing world.

What Does a Literary Agent Do?

A literary agent is similar to a celebrity or sports agent. They act as a liaison between the talent (the author) and anyone who could profit from or work with the talent. Literary agents typically work with authors to pitch and secure contracts with publishers. They also represent authors if their book is sold to film producers or studios.

Traditionally, literary agents are paid a percentage of any book sales negotiated on behalf of their client. How do agents benefit authors? Outside of making sales, literary authors connect their client’s work to publishers, negotiate contracts, ensure royalty payments, mitigate problems, and provide invaluable guidance and mentorship throughout the publishing process. Agents can also help new authors gain recognition and traction in the publishing world.

Authors secure an agent through a process called querying. (We cover this below.)

What Does a Publisher Do?

Book publishers assume all responsibility of getting a book published. With a team of editors, designers, and marketers, publishers do everything (short of writing the book) in order to bring it to market.

Some publishers specialize in a certain type of writing, whether fiction, non-fiction, or a specific genre. Also, depending on its size, a publisher might employ editors to manage the manuscript within each of those categories, thus diversifying the books and authors they represent.

Authors typically secure a publisher through their agent, as most big publishing houses don’t accept unrepresented works. Some smaller publishers accept work directly from authors, though. (We discuss this next.)

Top Publishing Companies

The following publishing houses publish the most books (and control over 60% of U.S. book revenue) and require agent representation to be considered for publication.

  1. Hachette
  2. Simon & Schuster
  3. Penguin Random House
  4. HarperCollins
  5. Macmillan

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the publishing industry, let’s talk about how to get a book from the pages of your word processor to the shelf of your favorite bookstore.

How to Publish a Book

Because there are so many ways to publish a book nowadays, the “path to published” isn’t a straight line. There are many factors that can change the direction of that path — or put you on a new one entirely — such as book genre, literary agency (or lack thereof), traditional vs. self-publication, print vs. electronic publication … and the list goes on.

Preparing Your Book

The first step in publishing a book can be both the easiest and hardest step in the entire process — writing it. But before you dive in, you must ask yourself: What kind of book are you writing?

  • If you’re writing a novel or memoir, you should finish your manuscript before approaching agents or starting the self-publishing process. Regardless of which publishing route you’re taking, make your manuscript the best content you’ve ever written. Hire a proofreader. Attend writing critique groups. Complete a few extra drafts. This will make it 1) more likely to get picked up by an agent or 2) sell well if self-published.
  • If you’re writing a non-fiction book, a book proposal should suffice. Consider this a business plan for your book — a document that includes what you’d write about, why it would sell well, any competing manuscripts, and more. (If you’re self-publishing, follow the guidelines for a fiction book. In that case, you’d go straight to the press, so the manuscript would need to be complete.)

Publishing Your Book

This step is where the publishing process could take you in a few different directions. Below, we break it up into two main “paths”, per se.

Traditional Publishing

If you choose the traditional publishing route, you’ll need to either work with an agent or directly with a publisher. In today’s market, the vast majority of books acquired by the top publishing houses (mentioned above) are represented by agents. Imagine walking into a Hollywood audition without representation … that’s kind of like pitching a brand new book to a major publishing house. Literary agents help bridge that gap.

If you aren’t interested in agency, you can work directly with a publisher — albeit a smaller, lesser known one. Thankfully, in today’s publishing world, there’s a good fit for every author and his or her work. It just takes some research.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of where to find agents and publishers.

If you don’t feel like doing your own research, you can also hire help through services like Copy Write Consultants. For a fee, they’ll research agents and publishers and curate a customized, genre-specific list. They also review your queries and proposals.

Pitching an Agent or Publisher

Once you’ve found the agents and/or publishers you’re interested in, it’s time to compile a query letter and pitch your work. Querying is sending an unsolicited proposal for representation, typically including an outline, synopsis, or first few chapters of a new manuscript. From that point, the agent or publisher can either reject or accept the query.

Accepting the query involves requesting a full manuscript … which is why it’s handy to have your whole book completed before reaching out to agents or publishers.

Note: Beware of con-artists posing as agents. Reputable agents never ask for a fee to read your manuscript; they only make money if they sell your book. Visit Preditors & Editors to check agent ratings and reviews.

Signing and Working with an Agent or Publisher

Next, if an agent or publishing house extends a contract, it’s time to sign. Take a moment to research the agent or publishing house by reviewing their past clients and books. Overall, trust your gut. You’ll work closely with this person and/or publisher and share your most intimate ideas and thoughts with them (in the form of your book). Be comfortable with your choice.

Let’s say you sign with an agent. Here’s what that process would look like.

  1. You’ll work with him or her to review your manuscript, but at this point, you’ll likely only be making minor changes in preparation to pitch a publisher. These changes might include word count, book organization, or any big-picture plot holes. Remember, the book is still yours — you don’t have to change anything you don’t want to.
  2. Once you’re both happy with your manuscript, your agent will take it to various publishers. At this point, the fate of your book is out of your hands … which is why it’s important to sign with an agent you trust. If a publisher is interested, they’ll offer to purchase and publish your manuscript, and you’ll sign it over.
  3. Upon purchase, the publishing house will assign its own editor to your book. You’ll work alongside them to continue to tweak and revise the copy, as well as establish the book design, cover art, publishing date, and marketing strategy (which we’ll delve into next). The publisher will have its own team for these tasks, but you’ll likely still be involved.

Now, let’s rewind and say you sign directly with a publisher. This process looks pretty similar, except you’d simply skip to Step 3.

Self-Publishing

Okay. Let’s change directions and explore the self-publishing path. In the previous section, we discussed self-publishing and ePublishing, and we’ll expand more on these below.

First, here are the most common self-publishing methods:

  • Independently self-publishing, which means hiring freelance or consulting help as-needed and working directly with retailers and distributors
  • Hiring a self-publishing service company, which is akin to working with a publisher

For the sake of equipping you with everything you need to know about publishing, we’re going to dedicate this section to the first method. But before we move on, let’s explore the second … just in case you’re interested.

Hiring a company to self-publish your book is very similar to working with a publisher, except they typically charge an upfront fee, retain no rights to your work, and pass along 100% of your sales. While this method sounds like a great deal, it’s important to note that the best and most notable companies charge upwards of $20,000 … per manuscript. So, if you have a ton of money and no interest in being involved, this might be the move for you.

Here are a few reputable self-publishing service companies:

Now, let’s talk about the first method: self-publishing completely on your own.

This method gives you complete control over your book’s design, editorial process, and quality. Today that’s made easy by the myriad of freelance and independent editors, illustrators, book designers, and marketing professionals that work in this specific market.

The first thing to determine when self-publishing is whether you’d like to publish your manuscript as a print or digital book. This will determine how you prepare your manuscript and who you hire to help you.

Print Publishing

Print production can be done in one of two ways: print on-demand or traditional printing. Print on-demand is printing your book one at a time, as it’s ordered. Traditional printing is typically how major publishing houses produce their books, and to follow this method, you typically have to commit to (at least) 1,000 copies.

Which option is best for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I plan to sell my book?
  • Where will my audience discover and buy my book?
  • What is my budget like?

Print on-demand is a great option for authors who plan to sell primarily online, such as through a website or Amazon. Traditional printing might be a good fit for an author who has speaking engagements or plans to make in-person sales. If you’re looking to stock your book in bookstores, it’s best to wait for a purchase order or sales contract before investing in a traditional print run.

As for your budget, print on-demand can increase your per-unit cost (and retail price), but if you’re working with a small budget, print on-demand decreases the financial risk associated with publishing. On the other hand, if you’re confident you’ll be able to sell your printed books, traditional printing might be worth the bulk cost … with printing and shipping, it’ll likely be at least $2,000.

Preparing Your Print Manuscript

Traditional publishers have a slew of professionals who take your Microsoft Word manuscript and turn it into a gorgeous book. As a self-publisher, that process is on you.

Before taking your book to print, it must look like a traditional book. Tools like Book Design Templates can help you organize and design the inside of your manuscript. For the cover design, you can use tools like Canva (if you’re looking for a DIY approach) or hire a professional designer. At this stage, you should also consider your author biography and any positive reviews you’d like to put on the cover.

ePublishing

ePublishing isn’t a synonym for self-publishing, but rather one way self-published authors might distributetheir work. ePublishers aren’t publishers; they don’t assume responsibility for the quality or organization of your work, and they don’t assume any rights.

They’re merely distributors or retailers — such as an electronic bookstore or library — that take a portion of the proceeds from book sales. The below image is an example of the retailer fees by price point.

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Source

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a popular ePublishing option offered through Amazon. KDP is considered an ePub retailer, on which authors can sell their books. KDP doesn’t work with authors beforehand; they simply provide a portal through which readers can find and purchase books.

Preparing Your eBook Manuscript

If you opt to self-publish digitally, you’ll need to tweak your manuscript. This process is similar to preparing your manuscript for print, except you’ll need to add another step: converting your file to an ePub format.

Here are the most common formats:

  • EPUB, a standard format for eBooks. You can’t export an EPUB file from a Word document, but you can save your Word document as a text (.txt) file and convert and format it using a special software.
  • MOBI, the ideal format for Amazon Kindle (although EPUB files work, too).

PDFs work, too, although they’re not recommended as they are difficult to convert.

If this process intimidates you, companies like Draft2Digital or eBookPartnership can help. But if your manuscript is mostly text, you should be able to handle conversion and formatting on your own.

In terms of cover art, eBook covers will likely be seen in black and white, grayscale, color, high-resolution, low-resolution, thumbnail size, or full size … just to name a few. Digital books sales can take place on desktops, mobile devices, and in all resolutions. Because of this, it may be best to hire a designer who specializes in these formats.

Distributing and Marketing Your Book

So, we’ve talked about how to prepare and publish your book, both traditionally and as a self-published author. At this stage, you’d likely have one of the following:

  • A printed book as produced by a traditional publisher (with or without an agent)
  • A printed book as produced by print on-demand or a traditional printer
  • A digital book manuscript

With the hard part behind you and one of these in-hand (or on your computer), you’re now ready to distribute, market, and sell your book.

Note: If you’re working with a traditional publishing house, they’ll handle most of the marketing and distribution. That’s what your contract entails, after all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help promote your book, too. Apply some of the self-publishing tips below to maximize your book sales.

For self-published print books, the main success factors are your book quality and your cover. (That’s why the majority of this article is dedicated to preparing and publishing your book.) The main factors for eBooks include pricing (which should be similar to or a little less than your competition) and its positioning on Amazon or other digital bookstores. While you can’t quite control this, you can optimize your marketing description, author bio, cover design, and other components to ensure your book is seen by more people.

There’s one factor that drives success for both print and digital books: audience involvement and visibility. This includes giveaways, reviews, contests, and drumming up interest before the publish date. Authors — especially self-published authors — should have a website, a blog, and social media (for starters) through which they can attract followers and promote their book. Loyalty is an incredibly strong motivator for books sales.

Writer Jane Friedman shares this advice on her blog: “You’ll be far more attractive to a publisher if they believe you’ll be an active marketer and promoter of your book. If you come to the table with media savvy or an established platform (audience or readership), you’ll have an easier time getting that first deal. [Also,] don’t go looking for a publishing deal because you need the authority or platform that a book can give you. Rather, you must already have the platform and authority, and thus be qualified to write a book. YOU bring the audience to the publisher, not the reverse.”

The same goes for self-publishers. Your audience is critical for marketing and selling a book … which brings us to our next section: publishing tips in 2018.

Tips for Publishing in 2018

The publishing world has changed drastically, especially in the last 20 years. Outside of self-publishing, ePublishing, and audiobooks, what else is new? What are some tips for modern-day publishing? Keep reading to find out.

Crowdsource Your Book

Crowdsourcing isn’t reserved for fancy backpacks or new technology. Self-published authors can thrive there, too. Not only does crowdsourcing provide you with an advance of cash that can help with upfront editorial or printing costs, but it can also create a unique audience of people who are both fiscally and emotionally invested in the creation of your book.

It also builds a sense of exclusivity as your supporters are the only ones who’d receive your book … at least in the beginning. Services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can help host a “pre-book tour” that raises funds and a following.

Start With an eBook, Then Print

Is this your very first book? Well, maybe you should take this guide one step at a time. Given the lower financial and physical commitment of publishing an eBook, many first-time authors use that process as a springboard into the world of authorship.

Publishing an eBook allows you to get your work out there while building up a readership and garnering name recognition. Then, when you’re (hopefully) ready to publish your second book, your readers can anticipate a digital and hard copy.

Better Yet, Start With a Blog

Let’s take a step back. If this is your very first book, and you have yet to write a word much less attract an audience, it may be more realistic to start with a blog. Blogging is completely risk- and cost-free yet attracts a readership and following via email and social media. Once you drum up enough attention, then you can dive into writing a book … with the confidence that your audience will want to read that, too.

Look Local

Just like coffeeshops love supporting local farmers and art galleries love supporting local artists, indie and independent bookstores love supporting local authors. Selling books written by local authors attracts, well, local customers and celebrates the community that the shop is a part of.

Local bookstores (like coffeeshops) are community hotspots — they support the community, sponsor local programs, sell unique content (not found at national chains), and host events. When pitching to a local bookstore, consider how your book supports their mission as said hotspot and how selling your book might bring other locals there, too.

Over to You

From querying an agent to working with an indie book cover designer, there are a myriad of players in the wild world of publishing. No longer are book jacket biographies reserved for the rich, famous, or uber-successful. Anyone and everyone can publish their thoughts and ideas — including you — and this guide can help you do so.

The Ultimate List of Email Marketing Stats for 2019

Nowadays, marketers put a lot of emphasis on chatbots, Instagram influencers, and other new opportunities to reach their customers.

But your contemporary communication methods shouldn’t distract you from one of the oldest and yet most effective messaging channels — email.

You might be wondering if email is still a worthwhile marketing strategy. In fact, email generates $38 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 3,800% ROI, making it one of the most effective options available.

If you’re still hesitant, keep reading — we’ve cultivated a list of email marketing statistics for 2019 to demonstrate just how powerful email can be.

Click here to download our free beginner's guide to email marketing.

B2B Email Marketing Statistics

1. 93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute content. (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)

2. Active email accounts are expected to hit 5.6 billion by 2019. (Statista, 2018)

3. 83 percent of B2B companies use enewsletters as part of their content marketing program. (Imaginepub.com, 2017)

4. 40 percent of B2B marketers say email newsletters are most critical to their content marketing success. (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)

5. It’s estimated that the U.S. will spend over 350 million dollars on email advertising in 2019. (Statista, 2019)

Mobile Email Marketing Statistics

6. Mobile opens accounted for 46 percent of all email opens. (Litmus.com, 2018)

7. 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device. (Convince & Convert, 2018)

8. Apple iPhone is the most popular mobile client for reading emails with 29 percent of all opens occurring on this platform. Gmail is a close runner-up at 27 percent (Campaign Monitor, 2018)

Demographic Email Marketing Statistics

9. 73 percent of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email. (Adestra, 2016)

10. More than 50 percent of U.S. respondents check their personal email account more than 10 times a day, and it is by far their preferred way to receive updates from brands (Campaign Monitor, 2017).

11. 99% of consumers check their email every day. (DMA Insights, 2017)

B2C Email Marketing Statistics

12. 80% of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention. (Emarsys, 2018)

13. 59% of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. (SaleCycle, 2018)

14. The most opened emails relate to hobbies, with an open rate of 27.35 percent. (MailChimp, 2018)

15. 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. (Emma, 2018)

Email Marketing Best Practices Statistics

16. 56% of brands using an emoji in their email subject line had a higher open rate than those that did not. (Forbes, 2017)

17. Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue. (Campaign Monitor, 2019)

Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing