What is a Web Crawler? (In 50 Words or Less)

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t describe myself as a “technical” person.

In fact, the technical aspects of marketing are usually the hardest ones for me to conquer.

For example, when it comes to technical SEO, it can be difficult to understand how the process works.

But it’s important to gain as much knowledge as we can to do our jobs more effectively.

To that end, let’s learn what web crawlers are and how they work.

You might be wondering, “Who runs these web crawlers?”

Well, usually web crawlers are operated by search engines with their own algorithms. The algorithm will tell the web crawler how to find relevant information in response to a search query.

A web crawler will search and categorize all web pages on the Internet that it can find and is told to index.

This means that you can tell a web crawler not to crawl your web page if you don’t want it to be found on search engines.

To do this, you’d upload a robots.txt file. Essentially, a robots.txt file will tell a search engine how to crawl and index the pages on your site.

So, how does a web crawler do its job? Below, let’s review how web crawlers work.

This means that a search engine’s web crawler most likely won’t crawl the entire Internet. Rather, it will decide the importance of each web page based on factors including how many other pages link to that page, page views, and even brand authority.

So a web crawler will determine which pages to crawl, what order to crawl them in, and how often they should crawl for updates.

For example, if you have a new web page, or changes were made on an existing page, then the web crawler will take note and update the index.

Interestingly, if you have a new web page, you can ask search engines to crawl your site.

When the web crawler is on your page, it looks at the copy and meta tags, stores that information, and indexes it for Google to sort through for keywords.

Before this entire process is started on your site, specifically, the web crawler will look to your robots.txt file to see which pages to crawl, which is why it’s so important for technical SEO.

Ultimately, when a web crawler crawls your page, it decides whether your page will show up in the search results page for a query. This means that if you want to increase your organic traffic, it’s important to understand this process.

It’s interesting to note that all web crawlers might behave differently. For example, perhaps they’ll use different factors when deciding which web pages are most important to crawl.

If the technical aspect of this is confusing, I understand. That’s why HubSpot has a Website Optimization Course that puts technical topics into simple language and instructs you on how to implement your own solutions or discuss with your web expert.

Simply put, web crawlers are responsible for searching and indexing content online for search engines. They work by sorting and filtering through web pages so search engines understand what every web page is about.

How to Build and Analyze Marketing Reports [Examples & Templates]

As marketers, we’re making important decisions on behalf of our company every day.

We use our best judgment when making these decisions, and we also weave in data and metrics when we can.

You’re likely already tracking marketing metrics such as traffic, leads, and customers — these are all critical parts of the bigger picture of your marketing funnel and flywheel. But they’re not enough to inform broader marketing decisions that impact your entire organization.

This is where marketing reporting comes into play. This guide will help you further explore the marketing reports you can run to properly analyze your data and make truly informed decisions.

Marketing reports vary depending on what data you’re reviewing and the purpose of each report. They can assess where your traffic and leads are coming from, what content they interacted with, if and when they converted, and how long it took for them to become a customer.

Take our free, 20-minute HubSpot Academy course on marketing reporting to measure success and optimize your efforts.

To reiterate: Marketing reports inform decisions.

You wouldn’t run a marketing report to review data performance or check on an ongoing goal — for these purposes, you’d glance at your marketing dashboards.

Look at it this way. Compiling a marketing report for knowledge’s sake is synonymous with scheduling a meeting to simply review a project. Who likes to attend a 30-minute meeting to simply review what could’ve been shared via email? Not me.

The same goes for marketing reporting. Reports should help you make a decision or come to an important conclusion — similar to how a meeting would help your team deliberate about a project or decide between project resources.

In short, marketing reporting is a highly valuable process if used and crafted properly. In the next section, we’ll dive into how to build a marketing report.

How to Create a Marketing Report

As we said above, there are plenty of different marketing reports you can run; we’ll be reviewing some examples in the next section. For this reason, this section won’t focus on what specific data to put into your marketing report — that will depend on what type you decide to run.

(Remember, if you’re building a marketing dashboard, that process is a bit different.)

We’re going to discuss how to build marketing reports that inform your decisions and benefit your audience, whether that’s your team, CEO, or customers.

Most of your marketing reports will contain a few of the same elements:

  • Title: What is your marketing report analyzing? Whether you’re running a report on campaign performance, quarterly blog performance, or monthly leads, be sure to title your report so the intent is clear. This is especially important if you’re sharing your report with people outside of marketing.
  • Reporting period: Your marketing report should reflect a certain time period. This period can be a few days, months, or even years. Analyzing your data within a time period allows you to compare performance to past periods.
  • Summary: Your report summary should reflect the key points of your report, including your wins, losses, and goals for the next reporting period. It’s basically the TL;DR of your report.

Next, let’s dive into the report specifics. Valuable, insightful marketing reports recognize two distinct components: purpose and audience.

What’s the purpose of your marketing report?

A marketing report should help you make a decision. Choosing the content of your marketing report (i.e. the data you’re analyzing) is simple; however, it’s how you’re going to use this data to make a decision or draw a conclusion that’s more difficult.

This is true for two reasons:

  1. Marketing reporting is more often than not performed to simply review data, which is a waste of time.
  2. Data points can be used to draw multiple conclusions or make multiple decisions, so you should know precisely how you’re going to use the data before you draw it.

You should determine the goal of your marketing report before you pull any data. Once you make this impending decision, list all the data that might be relevant. From there, you’ll have a much better idea of what reports to run and how to use said data.

Who’s the audience for your marketing report?

Marketing reports are highly valuable because they can inform so many different decisions — decisions made by a wide variety of people across your organization. Whether you’re delivering a marketing report to your team lead, department manager, or CEO, your marketing report must be tailored to whoever may be reading and using it.

Here are a few ways to do this:

    • Ask your audience what they need. If you know the decisions your audience needs to make, you’ll know what data you need to pull and analyze. Knowing this will also help you avoid running reports your audience doesn’t care about.
    • Speak in their language. Marketing involves a lot of acronyms and jargon. While your team members understand what you’re saying, your executive team and co-workers outside Marketing may not be so fluent. Consider your audience when writing your marketing report and be sure to choose words and descriptions that they’ll understand.
  • Don’t mix audiences. If you’re creating a marketing report for a mixed audience, it’s best to create separate reports for separate audiences. For example, you wouldn’t create the same report to give your CEO and Marketing co-workers; you’d likely break this into two reports with different data and verbiage. This will allow your audience to be able to focus on the data and analysis that’s most relevant to them.

Marketing reporting can take up a lot of your time (and waste some, too). Here are some best practices to help you work smarter, not harder.

1. Schedule your marketing reports.

Whether you create a recurring reminder on your calendar or set your reports to automatically run, schedule your marketing reports ahead of time. This will take the guesswork out of when to run your reports and when to send them to the relevant audiences.

Schedule daily, weekly, or monthly reports and send them directly to your team’s inboxes with the HubSpot Marketing Hub Reporting add-on.

2. Collect feedback from your audience.

As you send out your marketing reports, ask for feedback from your audience. Whether you ask an open-ended question like, “How did this report help you?” or provide a short Google Form, gathering feedback from those using your reports can help you improve them in the future.

3. Create marketing report templates.

If your marketing report will be designed the same way each and every time you send it out, consider turning it into a template. This will save you time and energy building each template and provide a reliable, predictable report design for your audience to read.

Make your monthly reporting faster and easier with these free monthly marketing reporting templates.

4. Put your most valuable data first.

Long marketing reports are fine as long as all the data you include is valuable and helpful for whatever decision you or your team need to make. However, you should place the most impactful data first so that your audience can stop reading once they’ve made up their minds. Nobody wants to read an entire report to only utilize the final page.

5. Visualize your data as much as possible.

Did you know that humans process visual data 60,000x faster than written data? Illustrated data (e.g. graphs and charts) are also more believable, according to this study by Cornell University.

When possible, include visual data in your marketing reports. Not only does this help your reports pack a greater punch with your coworkers and executives, but it trims down the time and effort needed to digest your data. To do this, include charts from Excel or screenshots from your reporting tools (like HubSpot Marketing Hub). You can also use heat maps if you’re reporting on website performance.

Marketing Reporting Examples

There are hundreds of reports that you can run to dig into your marketing efforts. At this point, however, you’re likely asking, “Where should I start?” and “What are those basic marketing reports I can run to get more comfortable with all the data I’ve been tracking?”.

Well, we’ve pulled together these five marketing reporting examples for you to use to get started.

Note that you will need some type of marketing software (like HubSpot Marketing Hub) to do this. You should also make sure your software allows you to export the data from your software and manipulate it in Excel using pivot tables and other functions.

Learn how to create an Excel graph, make pivot tables, and use VLOOKUPS and IF functions with this free guide and video.

Since we use HubSpot for our reporting needs, I’ll show you how to compile these reports using the Marketing Hub tool. (The data below is sample data only and does not represent actual HubSpot marketing data.)

1. Multi-Touch Revenue Marketing Report

As a marketer, you’re a big part of your company’s growth. But unless you can directly tie your impact to revenue, you’ll be forever underappreciated and under-resourced. With multi-touch revenue attribution, you tie closed revenue to every marketing interaction — from the first-page view to the final nurturing email.

That way, marketers get the credit they deserve and marketing execs make smarter investments rooted in business value instead of vanity metrics. As a bonus, multi-touch revenue attribution can help you stay aligned with your sales team.

HubSpot customers can create multi-touch attribution reports quickly; HubSpot’s attribution tool is built for real people, not data scientists. (It also connects every customer interaction to revenue, automatically.) Navigate to your dashboard, and click Add Report > Attribution Report. Select from the set of pre-baked best-practice templates, or create a custom report of your own.

Note: Enterprise HubSpot customers can do this in their software if they have their Salesforce integration set up with Account Sync turned on.

multi-touch revenue attribution marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze Revenue Reporting

To analyze revenue reporting, figure out what’s working and double down on it. Look at the revenue results from different channels and see where you had the most success. Use this information to decide what marketing efforts to invest in moving forward. For example, if you notice that your Facebook campaigns drove a ton of revenue, run more Facebook campaigns!

Multi-touch attribution reports should be run monthly to understand the broader business impact of your marketing channels. While revenue is important, you should also dig into some of your other metrics for a more complete picture.

2. Channel-Specific Traffic Marketing Report

Understanding where your traffic is coming from will help you make strategic decisions as you invest in different marketing channels. If you see strong performance from one particular source, you may want to invest more resources in it.

On the other hand, you may actually want to invest in some of the weaker channels to get them on pace with some of your other channels. Whatever you decide, source data will help you figure that out.

HubSpot customers can use the Traffic Analytics report (under Reports > Analytics tools in your navigation) to break down traffic by source.

Want to get an even deeper understanding of your traffic patterns? Break down your traffic by geography. (Example: Which sources bring in your most traffic, in Brazil?) You can also examine subsets of your website (like your blog vs. your product pages).

channel-specific traffic marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze Channel-Specific Traffic

Take a look at what channels are performing well. Based on your goals, that could mean looking at the visitor data or focusing on the visit-to-lead and lead-to-customer conversion rates. Here are a couple of different ways to think about your data:

  • If you get a lot of traffic from a certain channel, but the channel is not necessarily helping your visitors move down the funnel, it may mean that you should invest more in other channels or optimize that underperforming channel for conversion.
  • Think about how you can invest resources in your strongest channels. Did you run a campaign that helped the channel perform well? Was there a piece of content you created that set it off? Consider how you can replicate your past success.
  • If you haven’t worked on a particular channel, it could be a good time to test it out. Think about how you can incorporate multiple channels into the same campaign.

Pulling this data weekly will allow you to stay up-to-date on how the channels are performing. If a channel took a turn for the worse, you’ll have enough time to remedy the situation before it gets out of control or you waste resources.

Pulling the report daily may be a bit overboard since some channels take multiple days to be effective and pulling it monthly would prevent you from responding with agility — so, weekly data is ideal.

3. Blog Posts by Conversion Marketing Report

Blogs have become a marketer’s best friend. There’s a direct correlation between how often a company blogs and the number of leads they generate (not just the amount of traffic they drive). So, it’s critical you monitor how well your blog is helping you grow that critical metric.

Reporting on your blog leads is a quick way to see how many leads you’re generating on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis — and by what channel. This report is a great way to understand what channels are strongest for your blog, where you should spend more promotion time, and how well your content is performing over time.

If you’re using HubSpot, creating a blog leads report is easy. Navigate to Add Report from any of your dashboards, and choose Top blog posts by contact conversion. This report shows the posts that were most often seen by contacts immediately before filling out a form on your website.

top blog posts by contact conversion marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze Blog Posts by Conversion

Look at how many leads you’re generating from your blog over time. If you see spikes in leads, you know to dig into your content to see if certain topics are more successful at generating leads than others. The more you can run these reports to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, the better off your marketing and blogging will be.

This type of data should be pulled on a monthly basis to ensure you’re writing the most relevant content over time.

4. New Contacts by Persona Marketing Report

Every marketer needs to be well-versed in their buyer personas — but you need to do more than just understand them. It’s important to track how many new contacts you’re actually adding to your database based on each persona.

This will help you determine how accurate your buyer personas are and how successful your marketing is in targeting and reaching them.

To report on this in HubSpot, plot your contacts by Create date, which will show the date on which you added a new contact to your database. Then, break down your report by persona.

contacts by persona marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze New Contacts by Persona

Did you run a marketing campaign around a particular topic? Did you focus on promoting your content through specific channels? What did you do that led to an increase or decrease in persona acquisition? Digging into this report can help you allocate resources more wisely to grow different segments of your business.

Pulling this report on a monthly basis can give you insight into how your campaigns affect new contacts by persona — and might even shed light on an imbalance in resources dedicated to certain personas.

5. Lifecycle Stage Funnel Marketing Report

Another way to segment your contact database is to look at how they appear by lifecycle stage. This will give you a sense of how many leads, subscribers, customers, and opportunities you have in your database in a certain time period.

This data will help you understand if you need to generate more leads or if you should be more focused on closing your current leads. It will also give you a general understanding of the quality of your contact database.

As a HubSpot customer, create a funnel report by clicking Add Report from any dashboard, then choosing the Funnels category. Pick which stages you’d like to include, select your visualization, and you’re off and running.

lifecycle stage funnel marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze a Lifecycle Stage funnel

This report will give you an overview of how your leads are progressing through the buying process. Use this report to see what areas of your funnel you need to address for greater efficiency.

For example, if your report shows that you’re doing a great job of generating leads, but not converting any to MQLs, update and optimize your nurturing program. Pulling monthly funnel reports can help you stay on top of the efficiency of your marketing process

Create Your Marketing Report Today

Marketing reporting is a vital part of your marketing efforts and the growth of your business. By understanding how efficient and effective your marketing is, you can better allocate time, resources, and money — and make well-informed decisions, to boot.

Start with these marketing reporting examples and expand your reporting as you begin to utilize more data.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look into HubSpot’s Newest Content Marketing Strategy (Part 1 of 3)

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

How do customers discover new products nowadays? Despite there being many ways of becoming aware of a product, there is a simple route to considering it for purchase.

If you’re like me, you do it every time you’re looking to buy or try something new:

You turn to your friends (and in many cases, Google) and ask, “What are the best X products?”

If you’re using Google, your query looks something like this:

  • Best form builder
  • “Best fitness tracker”
  • “Best business scanner app”
  • “Best restaurants in Dublin”
  • “Best bars in Boston”

surround sound strategy hubspot best red wine search

Although sometimes, you drop the qualifier (the “best” of) and simply search for a broad transactional category:

  • “Marketing automation software”
  • “Hotels in Tallinn”
  • “Language learning apps”

surround sound strategy hubspot best form builder

Sometimes, these exploratory keywords exist in relation to an existing solution:

  • “Canva alternatives”
  • “Mailchimp competitors”
  • “Ahrefs vs SEMRush”

surround sound strategy hubspot best canva alternatives

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As marketers, we know search queries like these are important for two main reasons.

  1. The customer journey — the one we write about at HubSpot quite a bit — includes a Consideration stage, where customers attempt to educate themselves about the available solutions on the market, and perhaps the pros and cons of each.
  2. We have some good ol’ quantitative data about how much search volume these keywords get and what the estimated CPC is for bottom funnel search terms.

Take, for example, a term like “form builder.”

surround sound strategy hubspot form builder ahrefs

It has a high volume and high CPC. This means it’s both a high traffic and high intent keyword. That’s relatively rare but certainly a sweet spot.

Same goes for a term like “best red wine.” I Googled it and took the top ranking URL and put it into Ahrefs. Here’s the data:

surround sound strategy hubspot best red wine ahrefs

One can assume this blog post has a pretty solid ROI.

Without even looking at any data, you know how you can tell these keywords are high value? Just look at any website that monetizes via affiliate partnerships.

Examples like adamenfroy.com, ryrob.com and GrowthMarketingPro come to mind, where the majority of their content follows this format.

surround sound strategy hubspot growthmarketingpro

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Now, I’m not breaking any news to marketers with more than a few years experience — of course it’s important to find business critical keywords like this. It’s important to build out product pages for decision-level keywords, architect a pillar and cluster content strategy, build some links, and try to rank for these terms.

What I am saying is that just ranking your page isn’t enough. Rather, you want to appear everywhere a customer is searching when they seek out products like yours. You want your brand to turn on surround sound.

How People Discover (and Buy) New Stuff

Imagine you’re at a proverbial cocktail party, and you want to know what your fellow companions have been reading lately. You ask the group, “What have you been reading? What should I read next?”

surround sound strategy hubspot

A few years ago, at least one person in the group would pipe up and say, “Sapiens. You have to read Sapiens.”

surround sound strategy hubspot

Now, if only one friend out of your whole group recommends that you read Sapiens, it’s probably not going to stand out above the noise (depending on how much you like your friend, I suppose). The book is now on your radar, but it’s no more or no less prominent than any other book you’ve heard about.

surround sound strategy hubspot

Now, imagine everybody else in the group suddenly chimes in and agrees, “Yes! You need to read Sapiens. Best book I’ve ever read.” It’d be like a chorus effect (one might even say a “surround sound” effect).

surround sound strategy hubspot

In this case, if you’re not at least a little bit curious about reading Sapiens, then you’re insane. It’s highly probable, if you respect your friends, trust their suggestions, and have the money to buy it, you’ll buy Sapiens and check it out.

surround sound strategy hubspot

Our proverbial cocktail party represents a myriad of different influences in the real world. These include podcasts, newspaper articles, book bibliographies, and, yes, friend suggestions as well.

surround sound strategy hubspot

With this in mind, we can say that “Surround Sound” strategy means:

“The more frequently someone hears about your product from multiple sources, the more likely they are to buy your product.”

Note: I’m borrowing this idea from Tim Ferriss when he talks about product launches: “Especially on the first few days of your launch, you want people to see your project everywhere – on blogs, Facebook, Twitter…everywhere.”

This is not a new idea in marketing — get lots of people to talk about you favorably, preferably around the same time. In the next section, I’ll cover more of the theory from advertising as well as search on why this works (and how it can work for many different channels and companies).

I eventually bought Sapiens, by the way, because this CRO guru and fellow Austinite raved about it on Facebook and at happy hours enough times:

surround sound strategy hubspot sapiens

Think about the last book you read, TV series you watched, or new piece of consumer tech you purchased. I bet it followed a similar trajectory (recent examples that come to mind are Sapiens, Tiger King, Game of Thrones, and the Oura Ring — at least in the circles I run in.)

People Comparison Shop (and Frequency Matters)

We’ve walked through my anecdotal journey to purchasing and enjoying Sapiens. Now, here’s the data that backs this up on a broader spectrum.

First off, in advertising, it’s common wisdom that repetition is a variable by which you can predict the success of a campaign. Media buyers traditionally look at two things:

  • Reach (who you are targeting)
  • Frequency (how often they see/hear your ad)

As it turns out, frequency of messaging leads to higher levels of awareness and purchase intent. The more you hear or see an ad, the more likely it is to be effective.

surround sound strategy hubspot awareness and intent increases with exposure

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Clearly there are nuances here; it’s not always the case that the effectiveness of a campaign increases linearly with each additional exposure (it’s almost never that case, actually). But it’s a good rule of thumb and a simple heuristic when thinking about capturing your target audience’s attention.

The other fact I want to point out is about comparison shopping. Anecdotally, you know you visit multiple websites before making a purchase. It’s absolutely unsurprising, then, that there’s data to back this up.

Research says that, on average, consumers visit three websites before making a purchase. The same study tells us that the more websites a consumer visits, the more money they are likely to spend.

Google is also putting out some cool research on the customer journey nowadays, and again, it’s unsurprising in its winding and comparative shape:

surround sound strategy hubspot car buying process

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So, we’ve got three pieces of data:

  1. Product or service-related keywords with high traffic and high intent exist (at least for most categories)
  2. People view many different sites before they purchase or try a product
  3. The more frequently someone hears about a product from multiple sources, the more likely they are to buy it.

Put all of these together, and the thesis is quite clear: appear on all of the search results for one of these keywords.

The Surround Sound Strategy for Search Engine Optimization

If you’re selling a consumer product, like a book, maybe your potential customers read a few magazines and a few podcasts. You can easily find this data using Google Surveys (or analyzing your own personas’ preferences like I outlined here) and finding predictive clusters of different publications people consume.

When you find which publications people consume, you craft a plan of attack, and near your launch, you find a way to appear in all of them. This creates a surround sound effect.

The search keywords that correspond to HubSpot products tend to have pretty good search volume, and content marketing is a pretty big channel for us.

So the surround sound, for us, means that when someone searches a product-related keyword (e.g. “best help desk software” or “best live chat software”), they see this:

surround sound strategy hubspot

There are two reasons for this:

  1. We can capture more click-through rate and conversions for the same amount of search traffic.
  2. Being on multiple lists has second order conversion rate effects because comparison shoppers trust that we are a top solution. (This is the surround sound effect!)

For the first one, it’s a matter of what percentage of searchers click on the first, second, or third (or more) URLs on a given search engine results page (SERP). If we can appear on more of the results, we can get more traffic back to our product page, and we can convert more searchers into product users.

I’m not the only person to have noticed this cumulative effect of owning multiple search results. Nick Eubanks wrote about the “SERP Monopoly” strategy and explains that the more spots you can occupy on page #1 of a given SERP, the more clicks you get, the more traffic you get, and the more revenue you get:

surround sound strategy hubspot ranking CTR traffic

Smage Source

This means that, with each additional mention, we get a linear average increase in click-through rate to our site (which translates directly to portal signups, and thus, revenue). Keep in mind these numbers are averages, and if you have good brand recognition, titles, or meta description, you can increase your click-through rate from the SERP.

surround sound strategy hubspot serp spots

If the goal of appearing on all of the results doesn’t seem feasible or appealing, imagine the inverse: What if you appear on none of the results? You’re not in the conversation.

Appearing on one result is like one friend piping up and saying you should read Sapiens when you ask a group of people what to read next. Appearing on all results is like everyone in the group telling you to read Sapiens because it’s the best book ever.

Qualitatively, SERP domination seems like a worthy goal.

How to Build Your Own Surround Sound Strategy

Follow this approach to create your own Surround Sound Strategy:

  1. Research your buyer’s journey.
  2. Map influential touchpoints.
  3. Find a way to appear on all of them.

surround sound strategy hubspot getting started

When I write it out in steps like that, it can seem a bit banal and perhaps vague. Research the buyer’s journey? How do you do that?

First, get to know your target customers and how they make purchasing decisions. Then, tactically figure out how to appear in those places (could be ads, could be SEO, PR, guest blogging, affiliate, influencer marketing, etc. — it all depends on the specific situation).

To illustrate this in action, in our case, we want to appear on all the URLs that rank for high intent product keywords (again, things like “form builder”). Virtually all of these SERPs have some combination of three page types:

  • Product pages
  • Listicles
  • Review sites/forums

So, the playbook is to rank the product page (not easy to do, obviously), get mentioned on all the listicles that rank, and get featured (prominently) on all review sites.

It’s important to track this over time, as well. We always keep an eye on our SERP real estate (doing so through a cool tool we built in R and host via Shiny). We can pull any keyword and see how much of the SERP we occupy, and then we can see a table for which URLs rank and if we appear on that page:

surround sound strategy hubspot

As you can see, the strategy is simple; the execution is where you break a sweat.

Note: Stay tuned for the follow-up blog post where we outline our execution and results.

Conclusion

The Surround Sound Strategy is a predictable and obvious play, given our parameters:

  • We understand our customer and where they seek advice or influence on product purchase decisions
  • We map out this customer journey and find the most influential and high impact touchpoints
  • We seek to appear favorably in all of these places.

Where some of your marketing activities will fall into a more experimental bucket, the Surround Sound approach can be likened to the low volatility assets in a financial portfolio. Execute strongly, and the ROI will be stable and predictable throughout time.

This article walked through the theory of this strategy. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 that will dive into our results as well as the technical details on how we built internal tools to help us accomplish these feats.

How and Why You Should Run a Customer Panel for Your Marketing Team

As a marketer, we typically ask ourselves the following question at least a dozen times a day: “Would our prospects and customers like this?”

Ideally, you’ll use a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to arrive at the answer to that question.

But one great place to know what your customers like (and love … and hate … ) is directly from the customers themselves.

At HubSpot’s department-wide marketing team meetings, for instance, we often host customer panels. There’s good reason for this.

As Senior Product Marketing Manager, Katriona Heaslip, notes, “A good marketing strategy should always incorporate the voice of the customer — you could have the best product in the world but you won’t see any growth unless you’re positioning it in a way that appeals to the customer.”

Additionally, Amanda Whyte, HubSpot’s Director of Voice of the Customer, says, “Customer panels are such an important way for feedback to be heard, especially for teams that are non-customer facing in their day-to-day job responsibilities.”

Whyte adds, “Hearing from a customer what their experience has been, in their own words, creates empathy among decision-makers in a way they couldn’t get from looking at data alone. It drives more customer-centric content and communications.”

A customer panel is an exceptional opportunity to learn more about your customers’ points of friction and success stories. And, along with using that material to inform your future marketing strategy, it can also inspire your marketers to work harder by reminding them why what they’re doing matters.

Here, we’ll dive into best practices when hosting a customer panel — including what makes a “good” customer for a panel, how to ask effective questions during a customer panel, and why a customer panel is critical for creating alignment across your marketing team.

Let’s dive in.

How to Choose Participants for Your Customer Panel

When you begin curating a list of potential customers to host in a customer panel, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider.

First, as Lauren McKenzie, HubSpot’s Director of Product Design, points out, “A ‘good’ panel has a wide range of experiences and feedback to offer. For instance, the panel should represent your customer base. If 50% of your customer base is based in Latin America, you’ll want 50% of your panelists to be based in Latin America. A thoughtfully curated panel allows you and the team to hear from a diverse set of customers, offering a breadth of experiences and opinions.”

Plus, McKenzie adds, “Gabby Thomas, our Program Manager for DI&B, always asks whose voice are we not hearing. This is important to consider when creating a panel, as well.”

“It’s our job to give all of our customers a platform to have their voices heard, and often that means seeking out the customers we don’t hear from as much. You don’t just want your fans or ambassadors — instead, you want customers that are going to push you to think differently and improve.”

Ultimately, when you’re curating a list of customers to host, you’ll want to consider whether your panelists deliver a wide range of perspectives to get the most out of your panel.

Laurie Aquilante, HubSpot’s Director of Customer Marketing, echoes this perspective, adding that diversity in your panel is critical. She says, “Make sure you have a panel with diverse perspectives. Do you have a mix of industries, use cases, and backgrounds represented? What about titles? Company size? Racial and gender diversity? High NPS and low NPS?”

Additionally, consider curating a group depending on the questions you want to ask during your discussion. If you’re releasing a product meant to help enterprise customers, make sure your panelists are enterprise-level. Within that group, you might include a marketer, developer, and IT person to offer a range of perspectives on the enterprise product. 

It’s also important to consider which panelists will offer the most constructive feedback to truly enable your company to grow.

Shauna Carroll, HubSpot’s Program Manager of Voice of the Customer, says, “When selecting your customers for the panel it is important to understand the customer’s ability and willingness to provide candid feedback. When recruiting for HubSpot’s Customer Advisory Board this is one of the most important factors for us — we want members who are invested in our success, but not afraid to share their honest opinion.”

Of course, it can be difficult to pre-determine which customers will offer helpful, constructive feedback.

For this reason, Carroll advises, “You can determine this by having quick screening call with each of the participants. This screening call is also a great way for the facilitator to understand the various personalities joining the panel and he/she can start to build a plan for how to get the most from the panelists.”

As if this doesn’t seem specific-enough, there’s one more thing you’ll want to consider when choosing a panel: how well they speak on-camera. 

Kinzie Trompak, HubSpot’s Manager of Customer Stories, says, “You’ll want to find speakers that are comfortable on camera. Do your speakers have a sample talk they can share?”

“Are they comfortable speaking on Zoom where they can’t necessarily see faces or pick up on non-verbal cues? This piece is part of doing research and effectively preparing your speakers.”

Once you’ve found customers that can offer a wide range of perspectives and opinions, it’s time to host the panel.

But when it comes to hosting the panel … what questions should you even ask?

Effective Questions to Ask During a Customer Panel

I spoke to Katriona Heaslip, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, to learn what types of questions you should ask a customer during a panel. She told me, “Customers have the answers to the questions we as marketers spend a lot of time agonizing over: who is our persona, what’s the perfect price point, what category should we be in, what’s the best tagline to use.”

“Your customers have the answers, you just have to unlock them by listening.”

So — how do you unlock them?

Heaslip says, “Always have a goal or objective in mind: this will help you develop questions and add more focus to your time with customers, giving you better insights.”

For instance, at HubSpot we often host panels a couple weeks or months before a new product launch. This enables the marketing team to uncover concerns revolving around that type of product, and how our marketing materials might mitigate those concerns.

You might consider doing the same thing at your own company. If you’ve just added some new features to your product, perhaps you host some existing customers and ask them how those features might help them — as well as any apprehensions they might have.

McKenzie also suggests creating open-ended and specific questions, to ensure your customers can stay on-track, while still broad enough to give them an opportunity to provide any anecdotal information they’d like. She says, “Focus more on asking questions that start with What and How rather than Why. Ideally, questions should focus on their actual experience, rather than asking them to project into the future or imagine what they would do in a hypothetical scenario.”

To get you started, here are a few potential questions I’d recommend asking:

  • What was the decision process like when buying [our product]? Did you look at or use other tools?
  • How long have you been using [our product]?
  • What were the earliest successes you saw? What sort of long-term impact have you seen?
  • Which features or tools do you like the most? How do you learn from them?
  • Which resources do you use most? (Blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, video, etc.)
  • Did you have to convince stakeholders to buy? What was that process like?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about our product or overall buying process, what would it be?

In terms of distribution, Aquilante told me, “Consider having a set of questions you’ve sent the customers in advance, so they can prepare best for the discussion. Then, during the panel, have attendees at your company write down questions that come to mind and save them for the end of the meeting.”

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure your questionnaire is consistent across the board. Heaslip advises, “Make sure you ask each customer the same questions (where relevant) in order to compare answers and ascertain trends and patterns in feedback.”

4 Best Practices Before, During, and After a Customer Panel

Before the Customer Panel

1. Decide whether or not you’ll take live questions, and how long your panel will be.

Once you’ve got your customers chosen and questions planned, you’ll need to plan logistics. For instance, will you accept questions in-the-moment from the audience, or provide some time after the prepared panel for audience questions?

If you do leave time for audience questions, consider requesting that your employees send their questions to a pre-determined Slack channel, so the moderator can sift through and choose the ones best-suited for the panel. This provides an additional level of control over the questions asked.

As Trompak suggests, “I’d collect questions ahead of the panel. There is nothing more awkward than asking for audience participation, followed by silence. By collecting questions ahead of time, you’re setting your speakers up for success as they have time to prepare and think through their answers.”

Another logistical factor you’ll want to figure out pre-panel: How long do you want your panel to last?

As Aquilante puts it, “You’ll want to prepare ahead of time and make sure the customers and the people at your company are aware of how things are going to go. Ensure they understand how long the panel will go, and whether or not you’ll take live questions. If you choose to take live questions, figure out whether or not you’ll take them during or after. For us, we’ve found about 45 minutes to be a good length of time for a panel of 3-4 customers.”

During The Customer Panel

1. Invest in recording software to turn the customer panel into a case study.

If you’re conducting a customer panel via video conferencing, consider how you might record and transcribe the call after-the-fact. Alternatively, even if your customer panel is in-person, consider whether you can access video equipment to record the chat and transcribe it later.

Katriona Heaslip told me, “It’s useful to record the customer call using a tool like Gong, which also provides a transcript, so you can engage fully with the customer in-the-moment without typing furiously trying to keep up. This way you can reference the call afterwards and pick up things you may have missed, or even share it with some other stakeholders internally if there’s some particularly useful feedback.”

Additionally, Heaslip advises using the content from the customer panel and turning it into a case study. This way, you can leverage the customer panel as a lead generation opportunity and demonstrate to prospects how your existing customers’ have found success with your product.

2. Have a good moderator to facilitate various points-of-view.

Ultimately, a customer panel is only as good as your moderator. It’s your moderator’s job to keep the conversation flowing, encourage alternate perspectives, and simply facilitate which customers answer in which order to ensure everyone is heard equally.

As McKenzie told me, “A good moderator asks open-ended questions, involves all panelists in the discussion, and moves the discussion along rather than offering up their own opinions.”

Additionally, she adds, “A potential pitfall of a customer panel is when one loud voice dominates the conversation or causes other panelists to second guess themselves.”

“A good moderator can counteract this by not only encouraging differing opinions, but actively seeking out different points of view throughout the discussion.”

3. Follow a few Zoom best practices to create an ideal audience experience. 

Whyte recommends a few tips she follows whenever her customer panels are entirely remote. 

“If the panels are over Zoom and we have a larger audience, we recommend the following tips to ensure the best experience for everyone:

  • Hide Non-Video Participants (Go to Preferences > Video > Check the box for ‘Hide non-video participants’).
  • Everyone who is not a panelist or moderator can Turn Off Video & Mute.
  • To see the panelists at the same time as slide content, use Side-by-side Mode (Go to View Options & turn on “Side-by-side Mode” to see slides + gallery view of customers).
  • During any Q&A portion, turn your video back on and unmute yourself so the panelists can see who is asking the question.”

Of course, if you’re using an alternative video conferencing tools, you’ll want to explore the options you have to mute or hide non-video participants.

Ultimately, you’ll want to decide what works best for your marketing team and panelists, but it’s a good idea to iron out the details before going live with your customers. 

After the Customer Panel

1. Thank your customers for their time with a note or gift.

Once your customer panel has ended, you’ll want to follow-up with participants to thank them for their time.

Laurie Aquilante suggests sending along a thank-you note or gift to show customers you appreciate their time: “How are you going to thank customers for their time? Consider delivering a hand-written thank you note from your team or a small gift. Alternatively, perhaps participating in a customer panel is part of a greater advocacy and rewards program.”

2. Provide panelists with networking opportunities.

After the panel, consider how you might encourage further interaction between your customers to facilitate long-term professional connections.

For instance, Carroll suggests, “After the customer panel, it can be a nice gesture to provide the panel with the opportunity to network further with each other and with employees from your company. Many customers will be grateful for this opportunity, and offering to facilitate/host this is a nice way to thank them for their time.”

Ultimately, there are a variety of other channels you might leverage to learn more about your customers, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not a customer panel is the best-fit for your team.

As HubSpot’s Director of Customer Marketing, Laurie Aquilante, puts it, “Getting your customer’s perspective is incredibly important for any business. There are lots of ways to do that — you can look at reviews, NPS, various feedback channels, a user/customer research function, focus groups, and customer panels. Ultimately, you’ll want to consider which method you need for which program.”

A customer panel is a fantastic option to demonstrate how much your company cares about your customers’ perspectives — and enables you to align your team under one shared vision: the customer.

Additionally, Trompak told me, “The majority of marketers rarely speak directly to customers. Panels are a great way to infuse the voice of the customer into your work without bombarding your customers with asks from multiple teams.”

She adds, “As an example, At HubSpot, we ran two panels in January to inform marketers’ work for 2020. The Super Admin panel helped my teammate Lucy Alexander design the offerings for HubSpot’s Power User Community.”

Hopefully, with these best practices in-hand, your team can leave your next marketing team meeting feeling inspired, aligned, and ready to tackle their marketing challenges with a fresh sense of who your customers are. To explore other options, take a look at Customer Feedback Strategy: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need.

How to Make an Instagram Business Account

When I worked at a marketing agency, one of my duties was to create Instagram accounts for our clients who had never used social media before.

More often than not, those clients soon realized how helpful Instagram could be for their business.

With 140 million estimated monthly active businesses across Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp and over 200 million Instagram users visiting at least one business profile daily, it makes sense.

In fact, 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram and one-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to ignore the success your business could have on Instagram.

In this post, we’ll review how to make an Instagram business account, how to switch to and from a business to a personal account, and the benefits of having a business account.

1. Download the Instagram app.

To get started, you’ll need to download the Instagram app on your phone or go to the Instagram site.

2. Sign up.

Next, you’ll fill out the form with your email address (make sure you choose a business email address), company name, username, and password.

You could also sign up with Facebook. If you have a business Facebook account, this could be a good option.

It’s important to note that your username should most likely be your company name and your password should follow all recommended guidelines (include a number, special characters, etc.).

3. Switch to a business account.

Now that you’re set up with a profile, it’s time to switch it to a business account.

To do so, go to your profile and click the three lines in the top right corner. Then, scroll down, click “Account” and then choose “Switch to Business Account.”

When you get to this point, you’ll see another option to switch to a “Creator” account. Creator accounts are meant to be used by influencers, public figures, or content creators.

If you’re a business that sells a product or service, then a business account is the right option.

4. Complete your profile.

At this point, you’re all set up with a business account, but you’re not done yet. Before you can start promoting your social media, you’ll need to complete your profile.

To do this, choose a profile photo. Your profile image will typically be some variation of your logo so your audience can easily recognize it.

Next, you’ll need to write your bio and fill out your company info. This will include your website, store hours, and contact information.

5. Post some content.

Before you can promote your account, it’s important to post a few images first. Perhaps you can write an introduction or hello post.

When you start interacting with people and following people, they’ll likely visit your account. You want there to be something to see that explains who you are as a company.

6. Link your business Facebook page.

If you didn’t choose to sign up with your business Facebook account, then it’s time to link your account here.

This is an important step because you need to have a Facebook business page to use some of Instagram’s business tools.

To link your account, click the three lines in the top right corner. Then, click “Settings” and “Business.” Now, you can click “Connect a Facebook Page.” You’ll need to be logged in to Facebook to do this.

7. Start following people.

Your profile is essentially ready to go. To get started on Instagram, invite your Facebook followers to follow you on Instagram.

You should also start following people to get the ball rolling. However, make sure that you’re strategic. The people you follow should make sense for your brand.

8. Develop a strategy.

Starting your Instagram business account is just the beginning. Once you’re all set with your page, it’s time to learn how to use Instagram for marketing.

You’ll want to think about the hashtags you’ll use, the accounts you’ll target, and who you’ll engage with.

To get started, you can learn how to use Instagram for marketing with HubSpot Academy’s Instagram Marketing Course.

Now, what if you have a creator account and you want to switch to a business account? Or what if you have a business account that you want to switch to personal? Or perhaps you have a personal account you want to switch to business?

To do this, follow the steps below.

1. Go to your profile.

The first step to switch your account is to go to your profile.

2. Tap the Settings cog.

Next, click the three lines in the top right corner and click “Settings.”

3. Click Account & Switch to Business Profile.

Now, click “Account” and then “Switch to business profile.” If you’re a business page and want to switch to a personal account, this button will become “Switch to personal account.”

No matter what account you have or what you want to switch it to, this is the process to go through.

Interestingly, you can also do this by just clicking on your profile, and clicking “Edit Profile.”

At this point, you might be wondering, “Why do I need a business account?” Below, let’s review some of the top benefits of having a business account on Instagram.

1. Action buttons.

With an Instagram business account you can add action buttons to your profile, such as “Book an Appointment,” “Make a Reservation,” or “Get Tickets” depending on your needs.

In fact, plenty of scheduling software integrates with Instagram, so you can attach your Instagram business account to your scheduling software.

Additionally, you can add CTAs on your profile, including “Call” or “Email” so it’s easier for your audience to get in touch with you.

2. Auto-scheduling posts.

A major perk of having a business account is the ability to schedule posts in advance. This is helpful because you can implement and execute your strategy without needing to spend every day on the app.

3. Access to analytics.

With a business profile, you’ll gain access to insights about your followers. You can see a demographic breakdown and how your audience interacts with your posts.

4. Ability to manage ads.

This is one of the best features of Instagram business accounts.

You’ll be able to promote posts and can easily select your audience, set a budget, and get rolling with advertising.

You can even work with influencers by directly promoting their branded content (if you’re tagged as a business partner).

To get more in depth, your Facebook account will need to be linked so you can use the Facebook ad’s manager.

5. Swipe up feature.

Another great feature of a business account is the ability to include swipe up links if you have more than 10,000 followers.

Since Instagram is one of the only platforms where you can’t include any clickable links in your posts, this is an excellent way to get your content out there.

Getting started with Instagram marketing can be hugely beneficial for your company. And it’s even an easy process. If you aren’t sure where to get started, we suggest taking free courses on Instagram Marketing (like HubSpot’s).

The Ultimate Smarketing Glossary: 67 Common Sales Terms Explained for Marketers

Sales and marketing teams are both responsible for the growth and revenue side of the business — and yet, many of them still tend to operate like two opposing teams.

The goal of “smarketing” is to help bring sales and marketing together as one team, which involves constant, effective communication.

It’s pretty critical that sales and marketing teams learn how to speak each other’s language. But while both teams have some shared vocabulary, there are plenty of terms salespeople throw around that, let’s be honest, may as well be gibberish.

So we’ve put together a glossary of sales terms for marketers you can reference each time you encounter sales speak you’re unfamiliar with. Keep on reading to brush up on your sales knowledge.

62 Definitions of Common Sales Terms

ABC

“Always Be Closing.” An antiquated sales strategy that basically says everything a sales rep does throughout the sales process is in pursuit toward the singular goal of closing a deal. The implication is that, if a sales rep doesn’t close the deal, then everything they did regarding that opportunity was a failure. In the inbound methodology, the preferred ABCs of selling are: Always Be Connecting. Even better, “Always Be Helping.” 

Adoption process

Another way of saying “the buying process.” The stages a potential buyer goes through, from learning about a new product or service to either becoming a loyal customer or rejecting it. The potential buyer may or may not end up purchasing/adopting that product or service.

AIDA

An acronym used in Sales that stands for Attention/Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. They are the four steps of the now somewhat-outdated Purchase Funnel (although most agree the funnel is much more complex than what is represented in this traditional model), wherein customers travel from awareness to purchase.

aida sales funnel showing awareness, interest, desire, action

ARR

Annual Recurring Revenue. For recurring revenue companies, ARR provides a high-level look at how recurring revenue or subscription business is growing over time. It’s a good metric for models that have longer term subscription durations. It’s also great for long-term planning. See also MRR.

B2B

Business 2 Business. B2B is a term that describes the transactional relationship between provider and client where the provider is a business and the client is another business. e.g. “Our B2B marketing strategy targets organizations in the manufacturing niche.” See also: B2C.

B2C

Business 2 Consumer. B2C is a term describes the transactional relationship between provider and client where the provider is a business and the client is an individual consumer. e.g. “Our B2C marketing strategy targets new moms.” See also: B2B.

Benefit

The value of a product or service that a consumer of that product or service experiences. Benefits are distinct from features, and sales reps should sell based on benefits that are supported by features.

Bad Leads

Leads that are unlikely to become paying customers — and a sales rep’s worst nightmare, because they are a waste of time. A tough challenge for most marketers is how you separate good, high-quality leads from the people who are just poking around your site. Learn more about lead scoring here.

BANT

An acronym used in sales for lead qualification that stands for Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline. It’s a famous tool for sales reps and sales leaders to help them determine whether their prospects have the budget, authority, need, and right timeline to buy what they sell.

  • B = Budget: Determines whether your prospect has a budget for what you’re selling.
  • A = Authority: Determines whether your prospect has the authority to make a purchasing decision.
  • N = Need: Determines whether there’s a business need for what you’re selling.
  • T = Timeline: Determines the time frame for implementation.

The BANT formula was originally developed by IBM several decades ago. We don’t think BANT is good enough anymore, though: Learn more here about the better qualifying formula, GPCTBA/C&I.

Bluebird Sales

A “bluebird” is a sale that came seemingly from nowhere or with unexpected ease. A sales rep might say, “Fortunately, a bluebird flew right in at the end of the quarter, helping me reach my goal.”

One thing to keep in mind with inbound sales is that many of these sales may not be true bluebirds since your inbound engine is actively building awareness and helping prospects along a buyer’s journey. With high-performance sales organizations, you’ll want to have some control over your pipeline forecasting and be able to look at lead attribution, so it’s best not to rely on bluebirds.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

A stage of the buying process leads reach when they’re just about to close into new customers. They’ve identified a problem, have shopped around for possible solutions, and are very close to buying. 

Buyer Behavior

The ways a consumer identifies, considers, and chooses products and services. Buyer behavior is often influenced by the consumer’s needs, desires, aspirations, inhibitions, role, social and cultural environment.

Buyer Persona

A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. While it helps inbound marketers like you define their target audience, it can also help sales reps qualify leads. Learn more about developing buyer personas here.

Buying Criteria

All the information a consumer needs to make a buying decision. It can be written or unwritten, and often answers questions like, “what is it?; “why should I buy it?”; “what is the price?”; “why do I need it?” and so on.

Buying Process/Cycle

The process potential buyers go through before deciding whether to make a purchase. Although it’s been broken it down into many sub-stages to align with different business models, it can universally be boiled down to these three lifecycle stages:

  1. Awareness: Leads have either become aware of your product or service, or they have become aware that they have a need that must be fulfilled.
  2. Evaluation: Leads are aware that your product or service could fulfill their need, and they are trying to determine whether you are the best fit.
  3. Purchase: Leads are ready to make a purchase.

Buying Signal

A communication from a prospect indicating they are ready to make a purchase, either verbal or non-verbal. An example would be them asking the sales rep, “When can it be delivered?”

Churn Rate

A metric that measures how many customers you retain and at what value. To calculate churn rate, take the number of customers you lost during a certain time frame, and divide that by the total number of customers you had at the very beginning of that time frame. (Don’t include any new sales from that time frame.)

For example, if a company had 500 customers at the beginning of October and only 450 customers at the end of October (discounting any customers that were closed in October), their customer churn rate would be: (500-450)/500 = 50/500 = 10%.

Churn rate is a significant metric primarily for recurring revenue companies. Regardless of your monthly revenue, if your average customer does not stick around long enough for you to at least break even on your customer acquisition costs, you’re in trouble.

Closed Opportunities

An umbrella term that includes both closed-won and closed-lost opportunities, although some people use it to mean only closed-won opportunities.

Closed-Won

When a sales rep closes a deal in which the buyer purchases the product or service.

Closed-Lost

When a sales rep closes a deal in which the buyer does not purchase the product or service.

Closing Ratio

The percentage of prospects that a sales rep successfully close-wins. This ratio is usually used to assess individual sales reps on their short-term performance, but it can also be used to evaluate profits, forecast sales, and so on. Improving a closing ratio usually requires efforts to bring better-qualified leads into the funnel.

Cold Calling

Making unsolicited calls in an attempt to sell products or services. It’s also a very inefficient way to find potential customers.

Commission

The payment a sales rep gets when they successfully sell something; usually a percentage of sales revenue. If you want more info on sales compensation, check out this article.

Consumer

A person who uses a product or service. They may not be the actual buyer of that product; for example, if I buy my brother a pair of basketball shoes, then my brother is the consumer of those shoes, not me.

Conversion Path

The “events” on a company’s website that help companies capture leads. In its most basic form, it’ll consist of a call-to-action (typically a button that describes an offer) that leads to a landing page with a lead capture form, which redirects to a thank-you page where a content offer resides. In exchange for his or her contact information, a website visitor obtains a content offer to better help them through the buying process.

Conversion Rate

The percentage of people who completed a desired action on a single web page, such as filling out a form. Pages with high conversion rates are performing well, while pages with low conversion rates are performing poorly.

Cross-Selling

When a sales rep has more than one type of product to offer consumers that could be beneficial, and s/he successfully sells a consumer more than one item either at the time of purchase or later on. An example is when Apple sells you an iPhone and then successfully sells you an Apple iPhone case or a pair of Apple headphones. In this case, a sales rep identifies a need the customer has, and fulfills that need by recommending an additional product. (Cross-selling differs from up-selling; see up-selling.)

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

This is your total Sales and Marketing cost. To calculate, follow these steps for a given time period (month, quarter, or year):

  1. Add up program or advertising spend + salaries + commissions + bonuses + overhead.
  2. Divide by the number of new customers in that time period.

For example, if you spend $500,000 on Sales and Marketing in a given month and added 50 customers that same month, then your CAC was $10,000 that month. (Learn more here.)

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Software that let companies keep track of everything they do with their existing and potential customers. At the simplest level, CRM software lets you keep track of all the contact information for these customers. But CRM systems can do lots of other things, too, like track email, phone calls, faxes, and deals; send personalized emails; schedule appointments; and log every instance of customer service and support. Some systems also incorporate feeds from social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. The goal is to create a system in which sales reps have a lot of information at their fingertips and can quickly pull up everything about a prospect or existing customer.

Data Entry/Processing

The process of obtaining, recording, and maintaining information you can retrieve and use later. In Sales, this usually mean inputting potential buyers’ information into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to track activity, correspondence, and progress on open opportunities.

Decision-Maker

The person who, or role that, makes the final decision of a sale. They are often “guarded” by a gatekeeper.

Discovery Call

The first call a sales rep makes to a prospect, with the goal of asking them questions and qualifying them for the next step.

Feature

A function of a product that can solve for a potential buyer’s need or pain point; usually a distinguishing characteristic that helps boost appeal.

Flywheel

The flywheel is a new way of conceptualizing the sales process, replacing the funnel where customers are thought of as an output. The flywheel demonstrates that awareness, engagement, and delight can happen at any point during the customer journey and that the best way to achieve growth is to apply force and remove friction in each stage.

Funnel vs Flywheel

Forecasting

Estimating future sales performance for a forecast period based on historical data. Forecasted performance can vary widely from actual sales results, but helps sales reps plan their upcoming days, weeks, and months, and helps high-level employees set standards for expenses, profit, and growth. Learn more about sales forecasting here.

Gatekeeper

A person who, or role that, enables or prevents information from getting to another person(s) in a company. For example, a receptionist or personal assistant.

GPCTBA/C&I

Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences, Positive Implications. The lead qualification criteria sales reps should use to qualify prospects — it’s a better tool than BANT to help sales reps and sales leaders to determine whether their prospects have the goals, plans, challenges, and right timeline to buy what they sell.

  • G = Goals: Determines the quantifiable goals your prospect wants or needs to hit. An opportunity for sales reps to establish themselves as an advisor by beginning to help prospects reset or quantify their goals.
  • P = Plans: Determines the prospect’s current plans that they’ll implement in order to achieve those goals.
  • C = Challenges: Determines whether the sales rep can help a prospect overcome their and their company’s challenges; ones they’re dealing with and ones they (or the sales rep) anticipate.
  • T = Timeline: Determines the time frame for implementation of their goals and plans, and when they need to eliminate their challenges.
  • B = Budget: Determines how much money a prospect has to spend.
  • A = Authority: Determines who in the organization will help champion and/or decide to make a purchase.
  • C = Negative Consequences: Discusses the negative things that’ll happen if a prospect doesn’t meet their goal.
  • I = Positive Implications: Discusses the positive outcomes that’ll happen if a prospect meets their goal.

Read about GPCT in more detail here.

Lead

A person or company who’s shown interest in a product or service in some way, shape, or form. Perhaps they filled out a form, subscribed to a blog, or shared their contact information in exchange for a coupon. 

Generating leads is a critical part of a prospect’s journey to becoming a customer, and it falls in between the second and third stages of the larger inbound marketing methodology, which you can see below.

hubspot inbound methodology including attract, convert, close, and delight stages

Landing pages, forms, offers, and calls-to-action are just a few tools to help companies generate leads. Learn more about lead generation here.

Lead Qualification

The process of determining whether a potential buyer has certain characteristics that qualify him or her as a lead. These characteristics could be budget, authority, timeline, and so on. Popular lead qualification criteria acronyms are GPCTBA/C&I and BANT.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

A prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. To calculate LTV, follow these steps for a given time period:

  1. Take the revenue the customer paid you in that time period.
  2. Subtract from that number the gross margin.
  3. Divide by the estimated churn rate (aka cancellation rate) for that customer.

For example, if a customer pays you $100,000 per year where your gross margin on the revenue is 70%, and that customer type is predicted to cancel at 16% per year, then the customer’s LTV is $437,500. (Learn more here.)

Loss Leader

Used in retail to refer to a product sold at a low price (either at break-even or at a loss) for the purpose of attracting customers into the store. The goal is for customers who go into the store to buy other items that are priced to make a profit.

LTV:CAC

The ratio of lifetime value to customer acquisition cost. Once you have the LTV and the CAC, compute the ratio of the two. If it costs you $100,000 to acquire a customer with an LTV of $437,500, then your LTV:CAC is 4.4 to 1. 

Margin

The difference between a product or service’s selling price and the cost of production.

Mark-Up

The amount added to the cost price of goods to cover overhead and profit.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

The stage that a lead enters after identifying a problem. Now they’re looking to conduct further research to find a solution to the problem. Typical middle of the funnel offers include case studies, product brochures, or anything that brings your business into the equation as a solution to the problem the lead is looking to solve.

MRR

Monthly Recurring Revenue. For recurring revenue companies, MRR provides a month-to-month look at how recurring revenue or subscription business is growing. Includes MRR gained by new accounts (net new), MRR gained from up-sells (net positive), MRR lost from down-sells (net negative), and MRR lost from cancellations (net loss). MRR may not be ideal for longer term subscription models since there will be natural fluctuation over shorter time periods, but it can be a better metric for recurring revenue companies that aren’t ideal for long-term subscriptions. It’s also great for short-term planning. See also: ARR.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A customer satisfaction metric that measures, on a scale of 0-10, the degree to which people would recommend your company to others. The NPS is derived from a simple survey designed to help you determine how loyal your customers are to your business. To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of customers who would not recommend you (detractors, or 0-6) from the percent of customers who would (promoters, or 9-10).

Regularly determining your company’s NPS allows you to identify ways to improve your products and services so you can increase the loyalty of your customers. Learn more about how to use NPS surveys for marketing here.

Objection

A prospect’s challenge to or rejection of a product or service’s benefits, and a natural part of the sales process. Common objections often have to do with budget, authority, need, and timing (see BANT). How sales reps handle objections plays a big role in determining whether a prospect will buy. Learn how to tackle common B2B sales objections here.

Opportunity

Though every company has different processes for defining what criteria make someone an opportunity, it’s basically when a qualified lead is being worked by Sales. See Qualified Lead for more information.

Pain Point

A prospect’s pain point, or need, is the most important thing for a sales rep to identify in the selling process. Without knowing a prospect’s pain points, they can’t possibly offer benefits to help resolve those pain points.

Performance Plan

Also “Performance Improvement Plan” or “PIP.” A sales rep is put on a performance plan if s/he doesn’t make a certain percentage of quota over a certain period of time. Performance plans vary from company to company, but it usually starts with a written warning and further disciplinary action, including termination if necessary. The purpose of performance plans is to set clear and specific performance goals, provide a means for feedback, and develop sales skills.

Pipeline

The step-by-step process sales reps go through to convert a prospect into a customer. The sales pipeline is often divided into stages for each step in the sales process, and the sales rep is responsible for moving opportunities through the stages. It can also refer to a visual representation of the sales process, where every open opportunity is arranged based on the sales stage they’re in.

Positioning Statement

Statements and questions that sales reps use when opening a sales call to engage the prospect in conversation around their pain points. Many sales reps are trained to start off every sales call with these statements. Here’s an example of positioning statements on a sales call from Advanced Marketing Concepts:

  • Sales Rep: I help marketing leaders who are frustrated with the inability of the sales team to differentiate their products in a crowded market.
  • Buyer: Yes, that’s always been a problem. (If you’ve done your job well and targeted the buyer effectively with that first positioning statement, then you’ll get an engaging signal like this one.)
  • Sales Rep: I talk to a lot of marketing leaders, and lately I’m hearing the two biggest problems are weak sales pipeline and an inability to differentiate from competitors. Do these problems sound familiar?

Learn more about positioning statements here.

Profit Margin

A ratio of profitability that measures how much money a company actually keeps in earnings. It’s calculated either as a) net income divided by revenues, or b) net profits divided by sales.

Prospecting

The process of searching for and finding potential buyers. Sales reps (or “prospectors”) seek out qualified prospects and move them through the sales cycle.

Qualified Lead

A contact that opted in to receive communication from your company, became educated about your product or service, and is interested in learning more. Marketing and Sales often have two different versions of qualified leads (MQLs for Marketing, and SQLs for Sales), so be sure to have conversations with your sales team to set expectations for the types of leads you plan to hand over.

Quota

A sales goal; a set amount of selling a sales rep is expect to meet over a given time frame, usually a month and/or quarter. It’s very, very common for sales reps to have quotas, also the form they take can vary from company to company and from role to role.

Sales Methodology

“The ‘how’ of selling as a skill set,” according to John Kenney of Sales Benchmark Index. There are many sales methodologies out there, a few of which are particularly popular, and sales leaders often choose one and use it to teach and motivate his or her team. Popular sales methodologies include SPIN selling, Conceptual Selling, SNAP Selling, The Challenger Sale, Sandler Sales, and CustomerCentric Selling. Read more about these sales methodologies here.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

For salespeople, an SLA is an agreement between a company’s sales and marketing teams that defines the expectations Sales has for Marketing and vice versa. The Sales SLA defines the expectations Marketing has for Sales on how deeply and frequently Sales will pursue each qualified lead, while the Marketing SLA defines expectations Sales has for Marketing with regards to lead quantity and lead quality.

SLAs exist to align Sales and Marketing. For companies to achieve growth and become leaders in their industries, it is critical that these two groups be properly integrated. Learn how to create an SLA here.

Smarketing

Used to refer to the practice of aligning Sales and Marketing efforts. In a perfect world, marketing would pass off tons of fully qualified leads to the sales team, who would then subsequently work every one of those leads enough times to close them 100% of the time. But since this isn’t always how the cookie crumbles, it’s important for Marketing and Sales to align efforts to impact the bottom line the best they can through coordinated communication.

Social Selling

When sales reps use social media to interact directly with their prospects. They provide value by answering prospects’ questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.

Sound Bite

A series of words or phrases sales reps use to respond to and overcome a customer objection.

Stage

Parts of the sales pipeline representing each step in the sales process. It’s the sales rep’s responsibility for moving opportunities from stage to stage. Different companies define their sales stages differently, but each one has behind it a set of requirements that need to be completed in order for an opportunity to move from one stage to the next. Names for sales stages are usually things like “Prospect,” “Qualified Lead,” “Demo,” “Proposal,” “Closed.”

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

The very first stage of the buying process. Leads at this stage are identifying a problem they have and are looking for more information. At this point, marketers create helpful content that aids leads in identifying this problem and providing next steps toward a solution.

Up-Selling

When a sales rep sells an existing customer a higher-end version of the product that customer originally bought. For example, if you bought a cell phone plan and a sales rep successfully persuaded you to upgrade to a plan with more minutes or data, then that’s an up-sell.

Value Proposition

“Value prop” for short. A benefit of a product or company intended to make it more attractive to potential buyers and differentiates it from competitors.

Weighted Pipeline

A more detailed version of a sales pipeline, in which each opportunity is given a specific value based on which stage they’re in in the sales process. For example, potential buyers in the prospecting stage could be assigned a 10% chance of closing the deal, demo stage buyers 60%, closed-won 100%, and so on. A sales rep could say that, instead of having 10 prospects in her pipeline, she has 10 opportunities at 50% or greater likelihood of closing with a weighted pipeline value of $50,000.

As you get familiar with the common sales terms and how to apply them to your business, you’ll better be able to manage your organization’s sales strategy (or create one).

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How to Add a Link to Your Instagram Bio

Every social network makes it clear how to put a link in your bio on their platform — except Instagram.

Twitter lets you tag other handles in your bio. LinkedIn gives you the ability to link yourself to your employer’s official page. Facebook allows you to tag a number of different businesses, interest pages, and people in your “About” section, so you can let friends know who you work for, what brands you like, your alma mater, your relationship status, and so on.

What about Instagram?

Until recently, Instagram didn’t give you a ton of space to brand your profile with hashtags and profile handles — you could only link to their respective pages in photo captions. Websites were the only types of links you could put in your bio (hence the common phrase “link in bio”).

“Link in bio” is essentially a call to action, promoting more information available outside of Instagram’s parameters.

But Instagram recently gifted us two new features: linkable profiles and hashtags, right in your bio. You can now add them alongside the link to your website.

Note: The instructions above apply to the latest version of Instagram — 37.0 on iOS. You can also edit your bio on Instagram’s website by navigating to your profile and clicking “Edit Profile” next to your name.

On the screen to the left, below, you can see how Instagram suggests popular hashtags as you edit the bio text field, just like it would when you add a hashtag to a picture’s caption. On the screen to the right, you’ll see the profile of a person who uses hashtags, profile links, and websites in her bio.

Screen to add hashtag link in bio of an Instagram accountScreen showing an Instagram bio with hashtags, a profile handle, and a website link

Images via Newsweek

Things have changed at Instagram as of late, and you now have options to link to other pages you identify with right beneath your Instagram profile picture. But keep in mind that users who don’t want their profile tagged in others’ bios can opt to untag themselves.

It’s best to reserve this space for the accounts you know would agree with the association you’re making.

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

 

15 Key Performance Indicators to Help Improve Your Marketing

When I was cooking steak the other day, I had to use a meat thermometer to check and see if the meat was cooked all the way through.

In other words, I had to look for an indicator to see how the cooking process was coming along.

Marketing is fairly similar.

As a marketer, instead of a meat thermometer, you’re going to use key performance indicators (KPI) to measure success.

Below, let’s learn more about KPIs and review some examples of marketing KPIs that can help you improve your marketing.

Essentially, KPIs are measurable metrics that gauge overall performance over time. A great way to analyze and report on your KPIs is to create custom dashboards in your automation software.

So, now that we understand what a KPI is, let’s look at some examples.

For today’s purposes, we’ll focus on marketing KPIs, but to learn more about sales metrics, check out our ultimate guide.

1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) measures the amount of money it takes to convert a potential lead into a customer.

This metric can be used to improve your marketing because it helps you make important budgetary decisions.

For example, you don’t want to spend too much money acquiring a customer if it won’t result in a profit. Basically, this helps businesses decide how much money to spend on attracting customers.

2. Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV)

Another metric that can help determine how much money to spend on marketing is the lifetime value of a customer. This metric indicates the total amount of revenue a business can expect to make from a single customer.

This is a useful metric to compare to CAC. For example, if your CAC is higher than your LTV, then you’re probably spending too much money acquiring your customers.

3. Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment in marketing refers to the amount of money you gain compared to the marketing cost.

To calculate this, you’ll subtract marketing expenses from sales growth and then divide that by marketing cost to get the return on your investment.

In marketing, keep in mind that it can be hard to directly attribute sales growth to a marketing campaign. If that’s the case, you can subtract your average organic sales growth and marketing cost from your sales growth and then divide it by your marketing cost.

4. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Return on ad spend is a more specific KPI that you can use to determine the success of your ad campaigns.

This metric measures the revenue that’s generated compared to every dollar you spend on an advertising campaign. It’s usually a ratio.

For example, let’s say you made $10 for every $1 spent on an advertising campaign. That means your ROAS for that campaign is 10:1.

5. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

An MQL is a lead that has engaged with your company and could become a more serious prospect if you nurture that relationship.

This is a great KPI to measure because it helps your marketing team understand how many leads they’re bringing in.

Additionally, when compared to sales qualified leads (see below), your marketing team can measure how many MQLs become SQLs and then customers.

6. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

If an MQL is nurtured correctly, then eventually they become a sales qualified lead. An SQL is a prospective customer that’s ready to talk to someone on your sales team.

Usually, these leads have been researched and vetted by your marketing department.

Again, this KPI is helpful because it can help your marketing team understand how many of their leads are talking to your sales team.

7. Follower Growth

As a marketer, one of your duties might be to manage social media accounts for your company. If you work on the social team, a helpful KPI to track is follower growth.

Most likely one of the goals of your social media team is to increase brand awareness and interact with your audience. Increasing your followers is a great way to measure success for those goals.

To grow your follower base, you might consider running sponsored campaigns. One brand added 36X its typical number of followers each day during the 4 days it ran a set of sponsored posts on Instagram, increasing its follower count by 18.15%.

8. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action. The desired action could be anything from completing an online form to signing up for a service or purchasing a product.

This is a helpful KPI to track because it can let you know how successful you are at attracting leads.

For example, if the desired action was filling out a web form, measuring your conversion rate could let you know that your web page isn’t converting many leads. If that’s the case, then you could start to rethink your strategy.

9. Website Visitors

As a marketer, attracting people to your company is the main goal. A great way to do that is to attract website visitors.

Website visitors is an important KPI because it could track the success of several campaigns.

For instance, if you’re tracking organic web traffic, then you’ll be measuring the effectiveness of your SEO team.

On the other hand, if you’re tracking web visitors from social media, then you could use web visitors to see how many referrals your social team sends to your site.

10. Social Media Engagement

Not to reiterate, but a major role in marketing is social media. One of the main KPIs for social media is engagement.

You could track likes, shares, comments, messages, tags, or mentions. Any way that a customer or lead is interacting with you, you can count as engagement.

Measuring engagement can help you analyze the success of your social media posts.

11. Referral Traffic

Referral traffic is a KPI that can help you understand where your web visitors are coming from.

This is a great KPI to track because it helps you understand how most people find your company. This could be useful information when building your overall marketing strategy.

12. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score is a way to measure customer satisfaction. This KPI measures how likely your customers are to recommend your business to a friend.

When you calculate your NPS, you’ll most likely leave additional space for comments. This metric can give you direct, actionable feedback and insights from your customers.

As a marketer, it’s important to listen to your customers and truly understand them. This KPI will help you do that.

13. Organic Traffic

It’s important to measure the success of your SEO efforts. To do that, you’ll likely track the KPI of organic traffic and keyword performance.

With an SEO tool, you can see how well your company is ranking on search engines for certain keywords.

This KPI will inform your overall organic and SEO strategy.

14. Event Attendance

As a marketer, you’ll have KPIs for every campaign you’re operating.

If you’re running an event, for example, then you’ll most likely track event attendance. This KPI will let you know how well your marketing team did at attracting people to your event.

15. Customer Retention

While you might think customer retention isn’t a marketing KPI, it actually is important to consider.

Customer retention is a great KPI to track for marketers because you can use the information in your messaging for your marketing campaigns.

Additionally, this metric helps you better understand your customers, so you can market to them better.

Ultimately, KPIs are important because they’re how you measure success as a marketer. You’ll use KPIs in almost every situation because you’re going to need to track success for short and long term campaigns.

The Best Time to Send an Email (Research-Backed)

Here’s a little exercise for you: Check the timestamps on the emails you’ve gotten in the past day. What have you found? For me, I noticed that most of my emails, especially my subscription emails, were sent between 9-10 AM, or 5-6 PM.

This isn’t a coincidence, either.

While the answer to “What’s the perfect time to send an email to my customers?” isn’t an exact science, there are some key findings we’ve discovered through heavy research, and those times listed above are right in line with what we found. Keep reading to find out the best time to send an email, according to our findings.

Why Email Matters For Your Business

Automated email marketing provides a chance for you to improve sales conversions — maybe even by 14%. It’s a way to send customers unique offers — such as product sales or newsletters updates — with information your reader can’t get anywhere else.

Emails should be personalized with what your customers want to see, allowing you an instant way to communicate with them. Your emails should contain information your customers are interested in learning more about, such as discount offers, business updates, or product/service launches.

HubSpot‘s marketing email tool allows users to create and send automated emails for free. It also gives you the option to schedule your emails according to the preferences you’ve set. Then, your emails will then be sent to the list(s) of contacts you select.

hubspot's marketing email schedule

When you reach this option in your automated email tool, you probably spend some time wondering when exactly your audience would like to receive your email, especially if it includes a limited-time offer. You want to make sure the highest number of customers possible are reading your emails. 

How to Measure the Performance of Your Email Sends

If you’re wondering about the best time to send a marketing email, there’s something you should know first. There’s a lot of data out there on the subject that provide differing answers, and one reason is because it depends on your audience and, more importantly, how you’re measuring success. 

For example, the best time for people opening your emails could differ from the best time for people to take action. Here is a breakdown of the most important email metrics:

Click-through rate

Click-through rate refers to the number of people who open a link or image in an email. This number will always be smaller than the total number of emails opened, since some people will open your email but then abandon it without engaging with it any further.

Click-to-open rate

When comparing the number of people that opened your email and the number that clicked on any links, that data is called click-to-open rate. This metric helps you identify which information in your emails is relevant to consumers. Finding CTOR is done by diving CTR by the open rate and multiplying it by 100%. For example, if your email receives 200 clicks and 120 opens, your click-to-open-rate is 60%.

Open rate

The open rate, then, is the percentage found from the number of subscribers who opened your email campaign. Emails that have great open rates have short, effective subject lines. Plus, they’re optimized for previews and preheader text.

Best Time to Send Emails

If you’re sending emails that include a sale or promotion, try sending them during the times your audience tends to take their lunch breaks simply because they may be more likely to check their emails at this time.

If you want something more specific when it comes to what time and day you should send an email, we found some researched-backed best practices.

The following numbers are from GetResponse, an email marketing software that combed its data to compile a report of email marketing benchmarks. They analyzed 4 billion emails from 1,000 active senders.

graph of the best times to send an email

Image Source

The highest line of the graph represents the open rate. The purple line (i.e., the one below it) represents the click-to-open rate. Below that, the dark blue line, represents the click-through rate. The almost transparent data counts the number of messages sent in percent value.

This gets into the best day to send through an email. CampaignMonitor collected data from millions of emails used on their service. They put together the best day as it pertains to data collection.

visual of best days to send emails

Image Source

From this data, it looks like the best days for seeing a good blanket of success fall during the workweek. People are mostly opening and reading through emails in the middle of the week. It’s also good to keep in mind the lowest unsubscribe rate: during the beginning of the week.

Keeping your audience in mind is a good tip for figuring out the time to send your emails. If your buyer persona is a professional with a nine-to-five job, sending emails during their ideal downtimes are the best. For instance, HubSpot sends emails between 8-9:30 AM ET to match our audience’s daily routines.

Entrepreneur concurs with the above broad strokes recommendations but breaks it down further based on audience type:

The big take-away here is that you’ll want to segment your B2B audience down even further, perhaps by job function or seniority, to accommodate different behaviors and modes of working with your email sends. You may even find that other times work better for your list.

B2B is great and all, but does the time you send an email matter when marketing consumer and personal goods?

Again, keep in mind that studies differ, consumer behavior is always changing, and performance varies based on which metric you’re using as your ultimate goal. Continue experimenting and seeing what works best with your audience. One way to do this is by using an automation tool like Seventh Sense which will fine-tune your email sends using artificial intelligence. 

Email marketing can be a tricky subject. There are so many industries taking advantage of it in their own way and making an impact. How do you measure up?

Your subscribers are already interested in your content. They appreciate what you are offering as a company, and as long as you’re sending them emails that relate to that, you have a good chance of obtaining great metrics.

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

23 of the Best Email Newsletter Templates and Resources to Download Right Now

If you had to guess, how many email newsletters do you think you’re subscribed to? Ten? Twenty? Fifty?

To be honest, I’ve lost count — and I know I’m not alone. Email marketers have a lot to compete with in their subscribers’ inboxes. That’s why a solid newsletter template is crucial to designing an email that people are encouraged to click through.

If done well, though, email newsletters can do wonders to help you build an engaged subscriber base, keep your business top-of-mind, and nurture leads that are already making their way down the funnel.

However, “done well” means more than just serving up great content. In fact, an often overlooked component of the newsletter creation process is the design.

Don’t have time to build out a custom template from scratch? We’ve scoured the internet for the best resources for email newsletter templates and compiled them below. Many of the templates have also been pre-tested for compatibility with major email service providers (ESPs) via Litmus — a web service that allows you to preview the way your email will look on different email clients and devices. 

Once you find one you like, download the template and customize it to fit your needs.

1. Pook by Litmus

Price: Free

Litmus offers a free email template collection — from newsletter templates to account management templates. The marketing-specific theme, below — referred to as “Pook” — is modern and sleek, while still being kind of fun. All of the templates have been tested with Litmus, and you can easily check out how the email will appear in different email clients here.

While you are required to create a Litmus account with your email address to access the templates, the templates themselves are free of charge.

litmus pook email newsletter template

2. Sonata by Web Canopy Studio

Price: Free

Sonata is an email template by Web Canopy Studio, available on the HubSpot platform to any HubSpot user, free or paid, looking to promote a special offer or resource to their loyal subscribers. As you can see, the newsletter template below embraces a clean aesthetic with image slots to capture the essence of your brand in three separate tiles.

You can customize almost any component of the template below, from the company logo at the top of the email to the “Get The Checklist” CTA at the bottom. Get this template from the HubSpot Template Marketplace, which includes a full gallery of similar templates linked at the end of this article.

sonata-email-newsletter-template

3. ZURB Ink

Price: Free

ZURB Studios has five responsive email templates available for free, including the newsletter one below. It has a great, fluid layout you can customize with your own colors, images, and wording. If you want to see how each template looks on different email clients, you can check out screenshots from each template’s email client tests, which are on available the site. These layouts are optimized for most email clients — except for Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013.

The template comes with a separate CSS stylesheet and HTML file to ease the editing process, and most clients put the CSS inline with the HTML itself after both are uploaded separately. If you’re going to add images to your newsletter, keep in mind you’ll have to create a separate folder and compress with the CSS stylesheet when uploaded.

Pro tip: Once you’ve selected a template, use HubSpot’s free email marketing software to craft your message and send a newsletter out to the world!

Zurb Ink email newsletter template by Zurb Studios

4. Wire by HubSpot

Price: Free

Wire is a HubSpot-designed newsletter template, catering to marketers who are rolling out a new product or service they want their prospects and customers to know about. The thin typeface and contrast between the dark background and vibrant product copy can add a sense of intensity to any new campaign.

wire-email-newsletter-template

5. 99designs

Price: Free

99designs is a growing online community and collaboration platform for designers and small businesses, and they have a great designer blog and business blog. As a free offering to their blog readers, they recently released a set of 45 free email templates — perfect for newsletters, promotional messages, and personalized responses. All of the templates are fully responsive and compatible with all major email clients.

99Designs email newsletter template shown with responsive design on multiple devices

6. Webinar Invite by WorkCast

Price: Free

The email newsletter template below can promote anything from articles to new products, but it’s particularly useful for promoting a webinar you want people to register for.

Developed by WorkCast for the HubSpot platform, the template below offers a healthy balance of text and graphics so you can grab your recipients’ attention and give them the where and when of the webinar you think they’d be interested in attending.

webinar-email-newsletter-template

7. ThemeForest

Price: $6-23/template

ThemeForest is an awesome resource for email templates if you have some budget to spend. Their library has over 460 newsletter templates in all different colors, styles, and themes. They’re rated using a four-star system, and you can filter by rating, price, recency, and popularity.

There are a lot to choose from, but here are four of our favorites:

Market – Responsive Newsletter with Template Builder ($19)

This template has eight prebuilt layouts, 24 color variations, 24 full-layered PSD files, and more. Plus, it’s supported by all major email clients.

ThemeForest email newsletter templates

FreshMail, Responsive Email with Template Editor ($18)

Want a more minimalist look? This is a great template with minimalist design that’s also flexible and repeatable, so you can easily arrange the layout and use it to build your own unique template. Even better, it comes with helpful documentation and video tutorials to help you make the most of the design. It works for all major email clients and is responsive to mobile.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

FancyMail – Responsive Email Template ($19)

If you’re looking for something more elegant and sophisticated, this might be the template for you. It comes in seven layout options and eight colors, along with six, fully-layered PSD files so you can customize as you wish. It works with all major email clients, is responsive to mobile devices, and includes helpful documentation so you can make the most of the template.

ThemeForest email newsletter templates

Rocket Mail – Clean & Modern Email Template ($16)

This template is great for marketers who are going for something that looks like your classic, basic newsletter design. It comes with 72 variations comprised of six color themes with six layouts each, and two backgrounds (light and dark) for each color. It has well commented HTML code to make it easier to follow along and customize. It works for all major email clients.

ThemeForest email newsletter templates

8. Resonant by HubSpot

Price: Free

Resonant is another free email newsletter template by HubSpot. The template’s base design is perfect for welcoming new users to your service. At this stage in the customer journey, you don’t want to overwhelm your newest users with too much content right away — but you do want to give them a taste of who you are. The wide image space at the top and text blurb beneath it help you do just that.

Maybe you want to send this email to help new users complete their registration, or offer them the next tier of your product. The “Download” CTA at the bottom of the email template gives you a modest up-sell opportunity, which you can personalize with any links and copy you’d like.

resonant-email-newsletter-template

9. Antwort

Price: Free

Antwort offers three newsletter templates: one single-column, one two-column, and one three-column. They’re all responsive to mobile devices, so columns on desktop automatically condense on mobile devices. You’ll notice they’re pretty minimalist in design, which helps if you want to do a lot of customization work. They were also designed with dynamic content in mind.

On desktop, they work for major email clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, and AOL. On mobile, they work for Mail on iOS and Email on Android.

Free email newsletter templates by Antwort

10. Useful Notifications by TemplateMonster

Price: $14

TemplateMonster offers a variety of email newsletter templates, such as the Useful Notifications newsletter template pictured below, all of which are available for relatively low prices. Their templates are clean, customizable, and easy-to-use, and they’re compatible with most major email clients, such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Additionally, the templates come with built-in responsive layouts for screen adaptability, such as on the mobile phone pictured below, and PSD sources for a litany of customization options.

useful-notifications-email-newsletter-template

11. Sonata by HubSpot

Price: Free

Need a quick, simple, and sleek marketing email to make an announcement while showing off a few great photos? Check out Sonata by HubSpot. This template, available in the HubSpot Marketplace, is web friendly and looks great to the mobile reader.

Sonat by HubSpot Marketing Email

12. Themezy

Price: Free

Download sixteen free HTML, CSS, and PSD sources of customizable email templates on Themezy. You don’t have to submit an email address to get started, and there are various color schemes and layouts to meet your email list’s needs. Plus, they’re designed to be responsive across devices to ensure that your subscribers can read your newsletter.

Free email newsletter template by Themezy

 

13.<> Email on Acid

Price: Free

Email on Acid offers a free template with a basic, fluid design that’s also responsive to mobile devices. In other words, the three different “layouts” you see below trigger based on the width of the recipient’s screen.

Although there’s only one template here, you can actually mix and match each section of the layout to fit your specific design needs. The layout supports one, two, or three columns, and recipients on mobile devices will see the version that converts to a one-column layout for easy reading.

email-on-acid-newsletter-layouts

14. Ridge by HubSpot

Price: Free

This one-column email format is both great for mobile readers and inserting colorful crisp visuals. It’s simplistic, so it could be used for multiple industries or purposes. While this preview displays a Thank You email, this type of format is great for a short and sweet announcement or an offer that deserves gorgeous imagery to go along with it. If you like the style but not the arrangement of images and text, you can also find more Ridge themes on the HubSpot Marketplace.

ridge hubspot email newsletter template

15. MailPortfolio by SliceJack

Price: Free

If your marketing strategy is heavily reliant on visuals, MailPortfolio is perfect for you. It’s a minimalist template with no added background distractions. While it was made for those looking to display personal creative portfolios, it’s also suitable for larger businesses and organizations. 

The template has been tested with Litmus, is responsive, and works perfectly on all email clients. (Note: older versions of Outlook may not render all of the fonts and the Android Gmail app is not fully supported.)

mailportfolio email newsletter template slicejack

16. Magazine Email by 24-7 inc.

Price: Free on HubSpot Marketplace

24-7 Inc’s magazine email pack is a digital version of a broadsheet, making it perfect for marketers looking to deliver magazine and newspaper-looking content to users without losing the traditional print look. There are nine different templates to choose from, differing in column number and image size. 

The theme default is black text on a white background, making it easy for you to feature text and images with little competition. You can even use the hero image feature for content that is more visual-based.

The template is compatible with all major email clients. 

magazine email newsletter template 24-7

17. Material Design by Paul Goddard

Price: Free

This template is based on Google’s Material Design and has a robotic-retro feel. It is perfect for sending out multi-purpose newsletters featuring new products, events, and other announcements at the same time. There is no specific industry this theme is made for, but the template is well-fitting for businesses looking for a timeless, technological look.

Material Design has been tested on Litmus, is compatible with all major ESPs, and is responsive. While its main attraction is its unique design, this theme download also includes customizable HTML files.

material design email newsletter template

18. Briar by SliceJack

Price: Free

Briar is the perfect newsletter template for marketers looking for a fluid, minimalist design featuring images and text that don’t overshadow each other. It’s perfect for sending out regular newsletters, and you can customize the Inline CSS files.

The template has been tested with Litmus and works with all major email service providers (ESPs), however, some older versions of Outlook may not render all Google fonts. Also, the Android Gmail app is not fully supported. 

briar email newsletter template slicejack

19. EmailOctopus

Price: Free

EmailOctopus is a marketing service that launched a series of 11 templates that can be used to create newsletters for a variety of industries. Whether you’re marketing for a fashion brand or a medical supply company, one of the templates will fit your needs. 

The templates have the typical newsletter look but allow you to add product announcements, feature stories, and CTAs wherever you’d like. All of the templates can be modified through any WYSIWYG editor and downloads include the HTML files. 

These templates have been tested through Litmus across all major ESPs and are responsive to all screen sizes.

emailoctopus email newsletter template

20. Root by HubSpot

Price: Free on HubSpot Marketplace

Root is a responsive newsletter template that can be used across industries. The template is designed to feature a hero image, which is perfect for promoting product offers and announcing new sales. You’ll be able to display and announce new product deals front and center. The download also comes with instructional text to help you build a high-quality newsletter. 

This template has been tested to work with all major email clients.

root by hubspot email newsletter template

21. Postcards by Designmodo

Price: Free – $25

Postcards is a tool that allows you to build your own email newsletters. The drag-and-drop feature allows you to pick and choose the elements that best suit your personal needs, like hero images, eCommerce functions, and CTAs. The versatility also allows you to customize every email you send if you wish.

The default settings include visual contrast that will help your content stand out to readers, but you can customize the templates if you prefer a different look. No matter how you choose to customize your template, you’ll still be able to retain the modern look that the creators intended. 

When you finish designing your template, it’s just a one-click export into your favorite ESP or plain HTML. Not to mention, the modules have been tested with Litmus and work with all major email clients.

postcards email newsletter template  

22. Feshto by Liramail

Price: $29-25/template

Feshto is an email bundle meant to help ecommerce companies looking to feature products and share testimonials from satisfied customers with their users. It comes with a weekly digest module, which is their version of a newsletter. 

The module features a chic, clean design that ensures your images and copy are not distracting from the other. You can choose from their various layouts, such as “Weekly Digest,” “City Story,” and “Blog Article.” These templates are perfect for product featurettes and testimonials from satisfied customers. While the default themes are black and white, you can make edits in your preferred WYSIWYG editor. 

Feshto is a responsive template and is compatible with all major ESPs.

feshto email newsletter template

23. HubSpot Template Marketplace

Price: Free & paid options available

If you’re a HubSpot customer, HubSpot offers a great collection of email templates you can download or purchase from our template marketplace. Paid templates are available for as low as $1, and once you buy a template, you can start using it immediately right in HubSpot — no HTML or CSS required.

The second, fourth, sixth, and eighth templates on this list all came from our Marketplace.

HubSpot Template Marketplace.png

Get Started on Your Email Marketing Newsletter

Ready to draft your next 2019 email newsletter campaign? Download one of the excellent newsletter templates from the template galleries and landing pages above. Then, grab your free guide below for creating an email newsletter your audience will want to engage with.

Interested in finding templates for canned responses or pitches related to marketing and sales? Check out these two great resources.

Editor’s Note: The post was originally published in December 2018 but was updated for comprehensiveness in December 2019.