Google ranking factors are constantly changing, but links remain one of the most critical factors used by search engines.
If you want your website’s pages to rank in search and attract tons of organic traffic, you will undoubtedly need links.
Good links are like “votes”, which help search engines identify the best content to show for specific search queries.
There’re tons of link building strategies you can try depending on your goals and needs. With some strategies, you can get those important “votes” and increase referral traffic and gain more visibility for your company.
At Hunter, we’re constantly improving our link profile and getting more visibility for our brand. We’ve tested tons of link-building strategies, and there’s one that showed us the best results — link building via “best” listicles.
In less than three months, we got 96 new links from 54 domains, were mentioned in 33 new product listings, and upgraded our positions in 17 listings.
How did we do it? Read this guide, and I’ll show you how we implemented this strategy step-by-step.
First things first: What are “listicles”?
A “listicle” is an article made of a list — typically with some kind of extra detail below each item. This is a popular format to review products or services as it’s easy to skim to find important information.
Titles tell you what to expect (e.g., each title could be the name of the product or service), and each paragraph/chapter has a similar format, making it easy to compare many items quickly.
Here is an excellent example of a listicle created by HubSpot: Sales Prospecting: 26 Tips, Techniques & Tools to Succeed.
This is a review of the best techniques and tools for prospecting, which has a similar structure and approach to each product.
Why is it essential for you to get featured in listicles?
Listicles are powerful tools for product comparison and independent views on specific products or services.
Just imagine: You’re new to sales prospecting. You barely know anything about the popular tools on the market, and you need to find the best one for your team. To get some information about the topic you don’t know much about, you typically go to Google and type in something like “best prospecting tools” or “best sales prospecting tools review.”
You click “search” and stumble upon a similar search result page which consists mainly of listicles:
At Hunter, our key product is related to sales prospecting, and we wanted to be present in many listicles (especially those that generate high organic traffic).
By appearing in those listicles, you can get:
- More visibility for your brand: Just imagine someone searching for “best [your product/service].” You appear number one on Google in the first independent listicle and are mentioned in all top positions in the listicles below.
- New backlinks: By appearing in those listicles in 95% of cases, you’ll get one or a couple of backlinks to your website (only in rare instances do editors not include external links).
There are also cases when you can be already featured in the listicle of “10 Best [Tools/Products] for XYZ” as the #10 item that gets minimum visibility. So, your goal might also be to improve your position in that listicle.
Now, let’s jump right into the exact steps and strategies that will help you to get dozens of mentions in the listicles in no time.
Step 1: Collect prospects for outreach.
The first step for this strategy would be to find all prospects relevant to outreach for the mention in the listicle.
There are two approaches to do it: manual and automated.
Using a manual approach, you Google all searches related to your product or service with modifiers.
For example: “best + [your product category]” or “top tools for [your product category].”
The most popular modifiers to find listicles would be:
You can use these modifiers in combination with your product or service category.
At Hunter, we created a simple spreadsheet that listed everything relevant to our product terms and a list of modifiers that can be used with those terms. Then, the most successful combinations like “best tools for email lookup” or “best free software to verify email” generate.
You might prefer using an automated approach, which allows you to find more prospects in less time (compared to Googling it all manually).
You need an Ahrefs account for it. If you don’t have a subscription, there is a $7/week trial, so that might be enough for you to find all of the prospects you need.
In Ahrefs, enter your keywords into the Keywords Explorer and export the results in CSV.
Repeat it for all of the keyword ideas you generate with your spreadsheet. Then, merge all CSVs you collected with Ahrefs in one.
In the merged CSV, make sure to remove duplicates (from this point, I suggest using Google Sheets). Here, you can find a quick guide on how to remove them.
After that, it’s time to do some manual work, which is a bit time-consuming but very rewarding in the end.
Open each URL you exported. Remove the irrelevant ones or those that are not listicles. Add a sequence tag for each email. You’ll use it to personalize outreach.
In our case, we used four key tags:
- Hunter not mentioned (our product is not mentioned in the listicle)
- Hunter mentioned below (our product’s position is below #1 in the listicle)
- Hunter mentioned #1 with no link (no need to pitch the product, only ask to add a backlink)
- Hunter mentioned #1 with a link (no need to contact this website)
Besides adding a sequence tag for each relevant listicle, you’ll want to add a sentence of personalization to your spreadsheet that you’ll be using in your automated outreach sequence as an icebreaker.
This is what it looked like in our spreadsheet:
I recommend exporting from Ahrefs monthly traffic and domain authority of the URLs you collected. That helps to set your team’s priorities better. You should focus on the pages with the highest traffic and highest domain authority.
Once you complete this step, it’s time to find decision-makers in those companies and their emails.
As we noticed, the highest response rate for the listicle outreach was from the blog editors and content managers, so I recommend focusing on these positions. In small companies, it could be marketers and business owners.
You can easily find the full name of the decision-maker from a specific company just by checking the company’s LinkedIn profile.
Once you know the full name of your prospect, enter it in Email Finder along with a company domain. You’ll get a verified email address in seconds. With Email Finder, you can search 25 emails/mo for free.
Another quick way to find the email addresses of the listicle authors is to use Author Finder. If you install a free Chrome extension, you can simplify the email lookup process even more.
Just open the listicle URL and click on the extension icon. You’ll get the email address of the listicle author.
Add columns to your spreadsheet, such as the prospect’s name, company, and email address. You’ll use it later to personalize outreach.
Note: If you find emails with other providers, verify them. Using unverified emails may cause bounces, which can hurt your deliverability rates.
Step 2: Prepare email copy.
Now, it’s time to prepare an email copy for your cold outreach.
It’s essential to segment your outreach sequences, personalize your emails on a high level, and provide maximum value to your prospects.
For our outreach, we created three sequences:
- Those who didn’t mention our product
- Those who mentioned our product but below other products
- And for those who mentioned but didn’t link back to us
Here is an example of the email we sent for those listicles that mentioned other products from our niche but didn’t mention us.
There’re a few critical things to include in your email copy when reaching out to listicles:
- Short and catchy subject line. No one will ever respond to you if no one opens your email in the first place. Thus, the first thing to do while working on a new cold email campaign is to create the perfect subject line. Keep it short and catchy so your reader isn’t overwhelmed or lost. Instead, make them intrigued and engaged.
- Quick intro and catchy opening line. After the subject line, the opening line is the second most crucial sentence in your cold email. Because you wrote a successful subject line and made prospects open your email, the next step would be to make them read your message. If you start with something blurry, dull, and generic, chances are you’ll never get a response from your prospect. At this step, it’s essential to add a personalized icebreaker. (This is the reason we added this personalized line about each article to our Google Sheet earlier.)
- Personalize at scale with custom attributes. When you send dozens of emails simultaneously, it might be time-consuming to do it all manually. Here is where cold outreach automation tools come in handy. Create a spreadsheet with all data to personalize your emails and then add custom attributes to email copy. Your emails will be personalized on a high level automatically, and you don’t need to do tons of manual work.
- Provide value in return. You can’t ask a stranger for an offer and not give anything in return. Offer them the option to participate in your affiliate program, or help with the content update or promotion. Think of anything that can bring them value.
- End your email with a powerful CTA. It’s essential how you end your emails since it directly impacts the response rate. Ask an open-ended question that requires no time to get an answer. Make it clear and straightforward.
Step 3: Set-up outreach campaign.
Cold outreach is a time-consuming process, but when you find the right approach to automate it, you won’t need to spend that much time on your campaigns.
For our listicle outreach campaign, we knew two things we planned to do:
- We would need to send highly-personalized emails to our prospects.
- We would need to send follow-ups as they significantly increase the response rate (typically).
When you have hundreds or even thousands of prospects to outreach, the thing that you don’t want to do is to write every single email from scratch.
Also, you might find it overwhelming to remember when you need to follow up with every prospect. When you have more than one follow-up for each, doing it manually may sound like a nightmare.
So, this is the point where you need to use intelligent automation.
For the listicle outreach, we used Campaigns, a free tool that helps to automate cold emailing directly from your Gmail account.
As I mentioned above, we used custom attributes to automate personalization at scale. You need to spend time collecting all data for personalization before the outreach. Then, you just import it from your spreadsheet and have highly-personalized emails in a single click.
Here is how the final email we sent looked: personal and relevant to the prospect.
We also added two automated follow-ups to the sequence that used the personalization from the spreadsheet. The rule was to send the 1st follow-up in three days to all those who didn’t respond, and a 2nd in six days after the initial email.
When scheduling cold follow-ups, it’s essential to:
- Not schedule too many follow-ups. Our crucial rule is to focus on writing irresistible emails instead of adding too many follow-ups. So we recommend limiting it to three follow-ups for your cold email campaigns. If you are sending too many follow-ups to someone who’s never heard about you, you may seem like an annoying person and damage your brand reputation.
- Use the same thread for all emails. This way, prospects quickly get reminded about the offer from the previous email. Moreover, you can use follow-ups to continue telling the story or offering additional benefits, in this case.
- Keep in mind a sending schedule. According to many studies, when you automate outreach, you’ll want to make sure you exclude from your sending window weekends and public holidays.
Step 4: Be proactive in negotiations.
Your cold outreach campaign doesn’t end when you hit “send.” Your negotiation skills and proactivity determine how successful your outreach campaign will be.
In the perfect world, each answer you receive to the listicle outreach campaign looks like this:
The thing is that we don’t live in a perfect world, and most of the prospects will try to get more benefits for you in exchange for a link, product mention, or position upgrade. So, be ready to negotiate!
Here are a few tips that helped us to get the most mentions after receiving answers from our prospects:
- Be fast and provide what you offered right away. It doesn’t mean you have to skip sleep and update your inbox regularly. Just answer as soon as you see an email.
- Be flexible. If you contacted a DR 90 website and the traffic to the desired listicle is 1K sessions, be flexible in negotiations. You don’t want to lose a “big fish.”
- Do something for them. You get more chances of being featured if you provide even more value in return. Offer to share content after the update or give free consultation on something you’re good at.
- Don’t forget to follow up. Make sure to schedule manual follow-ups for those who showed interest. Sometimes, people are just busy at the moment you send an email or can forget about the conversation. It’s OK. Just make sure to follow up regarding your conversation gently. You can use Gmail functionality to snooze conversations and get a reminder to follow up on a specific date.
- Track all negotiations. Update your spreadsheet regularly and keep track of all negotiations. If you have too many prospects to handle, use a CRM.
Link building via “best” listicles is an effective strategy that can help to get tons of mentions and links for your business — if you do it right.
Make sure to spend enough time researching your potential prospects and collecting in-depth information on them.
Prepare email sequences that are unique and relevant to each segment, and add ice breakers and information pertinent to bring value to your prospects.
Automate routine work by using tools for cold outreach, and at the same time, spend as much time as needed on negotiations.
Hopefully, you’ll begin to see powerful results from your listicle outreach almost immediately.
When you’re first starting a business, branding is likely the last thing on your mind. After all, it’s hard to sit down and flip through fonts when you’re still trying to figure out who your customers are (and where to find them).
Plus, even if you made creating a brand identity a priority, in the beginning, a change in business plans might have made your initial branding strategy obsolete. Whether your branding design efforts started (and ended) with a logo jotted down on a napkin, or you whiteboarded your way through the complete branding process — from brand values to logo variations — somewhere along the way things stopped working.
However you got here, you’re not happy. Fortunately, rebranding is not uncommon — many major brands, ranging from Dunkin’ Donuts to Uber, have successfully rebranded in the past. If you’re considering a rebrand, keep reading to learn how to rebrand a company, plus examples of other brands who’ve successfully rebranded their website, name, logo, or entire company mission, and purpose.
Okay, now that we know what rebranding is, let’s make sure you have the right reasons to rebrand.
The Right (and Wrong) Reasons to Rebrand
Rebrands are complicated and carry big risks.
Even big brands aren’t immune — just look at Uber. After redesigning its logo, 44% of people were unsure of what Uber’s logo represented.
Ultimately, knowing the risks of rebranding can help you determine whether or not you’re going into a rebrand for the right reasons.
If you’re looking at rebranding your business because sales have been slow or brand awareness efforts don’t seem to be paying off, you might want to reconsider — these issues can potentially be solved by creating a new marketing strategy or conducting market research to identify the underlying cause.
But if you’re considering a rebrand because your company’s vision, mission, values, and market are no longer reflected in your brand, then a rebrand might be the right decision.
There are a few other major reasons you might consider a rebrand, including:
You might need to refresh your brand if you’re expanding to international markets that won’t identify with your current logo, messaging, etc.
Brands are designed to connect companies with their customers, so if you reposition your business to target a completely new customer profile — whether through product, place, price, or promotion — your brand will need to follow suit.
Your business’s mission, vision, and values should govern every decision you make — including brand decisions. If your MVV are shifting and pivoting the direction of your business along with them, you’ll need to reevaluate your brand.
Mergers and acquisitions
When two companies come together, two brands come together, as well. If your company was acquired or joined with another company, you can’t just let both brands battle it out. Finding a new brand that reflects the new entity will prevent confusion and build trust.
Additionally, here are a few reasons not to rebrand:
Too often, people consider a rebrand because they’re sick of seeing the same logo and slogan every day. When you’re starting to feel restless with your brand, remember that your customers (who see it much less frequently) might love that signature color you’ve come to loathe.
Covering up a crisis
Whether you’re working against persistent internal issues or fending off bad press, a rebrand isn’t the answer. Most consumers and employees are smart enough to see right through your rebrand and recognize it for what it is — a cover-up.
Impact and ego
For new managers, a rebrand might seem like the fastest way to make your mark. But most new managers aren’t implementing the kind of institutional change that justifies a rebrand. More often than not, new leadership that insists on a rebrand is doing it more for themselves than the company.
Looking for attention
Maybe sales have been floundering, or perhaps brand awareness efforts aren’t picking up, but either way, jumping into a rebrand is the wrong move. At best, you’ll generate some short-term buzz, without the sales and marketing strategy to sustain it. At worst, you’ll lose whatever brand recognition you had and set back your sales and marketing efforts.
If you’ve determined a rebrand is still the right choice for you, keep reading to learn how to devise a rebranding strategy.
1. Change your logo.
One of the main strategies of rebranding is changing your logo. Using a new logo will let your customers know that your brand’s identity is different. You can make it sleeker, use different colors, etc. The main reason to change your logo is so it matches with the new identity that you’re marketing with the rebrand.
2. Shift brand positioning.
After changing your brand logo, it’s important to also shift your brand positioning. You can’t just change your colors and logo and call it a day. The content that you’re marketing needs to communicate a certain message, whether that’s your mission, values, or vision. Shifting your brand positioning will let your customers know what your new mission, values, or vision is.
3. Create new ads.
Once you know what your logo and messaging will sound like, it’s time to create new advertisements and content with this messaging in mind. These ads should clearly communicate the changes to your brand and what they mean for customers. This can help you draw in a new demographic and reach larger audiences.
4. Change your brand’s voice.
Finally, when it’s time to rebrand, you’ll want to change the brand’s voice. Your brand’s voice is the perspective that you write all your marketing content from. Your voice is either formal, causual, witty, etc. If you’re rebranding, it makes sense to change your brand’s voice and announce your rebrand in your new tone of voice.
Now, let’s remember that bot all rebrands are created equal, so let’s first consider whether a partial or total rebrand is the best option for your business.
Partial vs. Total Rebrand
The more established your business and brand are, the more you have to lose from a rebrand.
If your business is more mature, a partial rebrand can help you retain the brand loyalty you’ve built, while refreshing your image to keep up with changing times.
Think of a partial rebrand as an adjustment focused on your visual brand identity to suit new offerings or markets — as opposed to a complete identity crisis.
That’s not to say that a partial rebrand can’t be effective. Just look at Old Spice. The men’s deodorant company redefined its place in the market and has seen massive growth every year since repositioning the brand — all while retaining what made Old Spice cool in the first place.
However, if you’re undergoing a complete identity shift and your company’s mission, vision, and values are changing, a total rebrand might be in order. This option is typically suited to situations like mergers, product overhauls, and other similarly foundational shifts.
Here, everything is on the table — from your name to your purpose, your market, or your brand identity.
If a partial rebrand is a quick touch-up, the total rebrand is a complete makeover.
Once you’ve determined whether you need a partial or total rebrand, take a look at the following five steps you’ll want to implement to successfully rebrand.
1. Reestablish your brand’s audience and market.
After extensive market research, including focus groups and analyzing the data, you’ve noticed something startling — your customers (or competitors) aren’t who you thought they were.
Maybe it’s a demographic with which you never thought you’d engage. Alternatively, maybe there’s a new competitor on the market and its products or services are directly competing with yours.
And you have the data to prove it.
Take a look at who’s actually buying from you — and who they’re buying from, instead of you. Comparing this against your initial target market and audience might reveal some stark differences.
Once you’ve established your actual market and audience, you’re ready to start rebranding your company to connect with your customers (and outsmart your competitors).
2. Redefine your company’s vision, mission, and values.
What are you doing? How are you doing it? Why are you doing it?
When you’re re-evaluating your vision, mission, and values during a rebrand, these are the three questions you’ll need to ask yourself. While it’s easy to take your messaging foundations for granted, they can change as a company grows.
New products, priorities, services, or stakeholders can completely undo what once seemed like a given.
Here are a few major components of your company you’ll want to analyze to decide which part(s) of your company need a little TLC.
This is a big one. Vision acts as the North Star for every action your company undertakes, so it’s critical you have a firm understanding of your vision before moving forward — additionally, perhaps over time your vision has changed. That’s okay, but it’s vital you redefine your vision as quickly as possible to ensure all your employees are making decisions with that vision in mind.
When you’re rebranding, company vision will affect everything from your website redesign to your hiring process.
If vision is your what, mission is your how. Maybe you’re still going in the same direction, but the way you’re getting there has changed. Ultimately, your mission is your company’s roadmap.
When your mission changes, your messaging needs to change as well — making it just as crucial as vision during a rebrand.
For instance, Sweetgreen’s mission statement is “To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.” This motto will help define everything about Sweetgreen’s brand, from the images they use in advertisements to the language they use in press releases.
Your values act as the why behind your brand. They’re why you’re working towards your vision, and why you’re dedicated to your mission.
But, as brands expand and change, some of their founding values might become unsustainable. If you can’t support your old values or you’ve come to prioritize new ones, you’ll need to update them to reflect what your company actually values today.
As your vision, mission, and values change while rebranding, the way you convey these aspects of your company will also have to change. The vocabulary, tone, and voice you use for your brand have to match your message. So, if what you’re saying is changing, how you’re saying it will need to change, as well.
3. Rename your company during a rebrand.
Changing names is a big undertaking, one that can cost you brand recognition and organic search traffic in one fell swoop. So, if you’re renaming your company as part of your rebrand, make sure you have a plan for recovery as part of your post-rebrand strategy.
On the whole, if your name still fits, your best course of action is to keep it. But if your current name is a mismatch for your company identity, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. To help make that drawing board a little less daunting, here are some starter ideas for the renaming process:
- Make a new word
- Use an old word in new ways
- Say what you do (literally)
- Modify a word’s spelling
- Add a prefix or suffix
- Look to other languages
- Bring two words together
- Create an acronym
- Use a location
If you’re revisiting your name while rebranding, focus on alignment with your brand’s vision, mission, and values — more than just what sounds good. That way, your new name has a better chance of supporting your long-term growth and goals.
4. Reconsider your brand’s slogan.
A good slogan is catchy and captures your company’s mission and vision. It’s your company’s purpose, condensed. Unlike changing names, changing slogans is a little easier for your marketing efforts. But like changing names, you should still consider it carefully.
First, it’s critical you ask yourself, why do you really want to change your slogan?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of hating your slogan because you’ve heard it so many times. But it’s that same repetition that builds brand recognition. Even though you might have gotten sick of your slogan after seeing it constantly, your customers might love it.
If you’re on the fence, you can hold focus groups to see if the slogan is really resonating. If it isn’t, you can get some new ideas for slogans with these starting points:
- Make a claim
- Get metaphorical
- Use poetic language
- Provide instructions
- Leverage labels
- Compliment customers
5. Rebuild your brand identity.
The tangible elements you use to communicate your brand might have been in play for a few years by the time you start considering a rebrand. This means you’ve likely had plenty of time to reconsider their strengths and weaknesses before replacing them.
You might want to redesign your logo, use new colors in your brand material, or even create new brand guidelines. Here are a few common changes you might make as part of your rebranding strategy:
Maybe you loved your logo when you first started your company, but you’re finding your customers never really seemed to “get it”. Alternatively, perhaps your logo needs a refresh to reflect the other major changes you’ve made internally.
If you’re looking to do a logo redesign, going back to the basics of what makes a good logo will help you to get it right this time.
Stay simple. Jamming as much symbolism as possible into a logo generally doesn’t work out too well. But that’s a hard truth for young companies who are still trying to prove themselves. Now that you’re more established, show your confidence with a simple logo.
Make an impact. Maybe you went the opposite route in your original logo design and were too afraid to be bold, so you stuck with something safe. Your logo isn’t worth much if people can’t remember it, so when you’re redesigning your logo, don’t settle for something that won’t stand out.
Be adaptable. One thing you might have learned with your first logo is its limitations. Now that you know what shapes or styles might not be as versatile for the channels your business actually uses, bear those in mind during the redesign.
Aim for appropriate. As companies mature and get to know their customers better, a logo that might have made sense at launch could now be considered completely wrong for that company’s target market.
Look to the long term. As fun as rebrands might seem, you don’t want to do this every year, so really look at your vision, mission, values, and purpose and consider whether this new logo can support them in the long run.
Maintain through-lines. Like your name, your logo is one of your brand’s most memorable components. When you’re rebranding, avoid losing too much brand recognition by trying to maintain the parts of your old logo that worked. If you can maintain a sense of continuity, you’ll be able to carry over some of the brand recognition your old logo initially had.
If we look at a few logo redesigns from 2019, we can see this process in action. Take Zara and The Knot, for example, two companies that changed their logos in the last few years:
In these brand updates, elements of the old brand carry through. Zara kept its bold, black lettering, but pushed the kerning tighter and switched one Serif font for another. The Knot, on the other hand, stayed in the same typography family with a Script font, but swapped blue for orange in their color scheme.
Choosing Your New Color Palette
Color can have a huge impact on your brand — in fact, some colors are now synonymous with the brands that use them, like McDonald’s yellow. But choosing the right color can be difficult, and as your company develops, your color might need a brush up.
Looking at your brand colors with fresh eyes using color psychology and competitor research can help you evaluate whether they’re working with (or against) the brand image you’re looking to project.
Additionally, now that you’ve been working with your color(s) for a while, you may have noticed that the way your colors show up on-screen vs. in-print isn’t consistent. When considering colors during your rebrand, check to ensure the color looks the same on a variety of brand materials.
Like your color, your original font may have shown up differently in practice than in theory. When you’re reevaluating fonts, pay close attention to what worked and what didn’t with your old font, along with any difficulties you had — like accessing the font for web design or PowerPoints.
You might also want to consider whether your font is consistent with any markets or messages uncovered while rebranding. If your customers are more mature than you initially expected, that super hip Sans Serif font might be better off as a more traditional Serif font. After all, the medium is the message.
And now that you know your marketing channels, you’ll be able to make more educated decisions on weight and cuts — like which fonts show up well, and which leave your words looking wonky.
Shapes and Imagery Revisited
Like your logo, color palette, and typography, your imagery and shapes play a vital role in your brand identity. If you’re changing any of your brand’s other visual elements, it’s worth reconsidering your imagery and shapes to keep everything cohesive after you’ve rebranded.
But it’s not enough for your rebrand to look cohesive — it needs to support the core messages of your brand, as well. At every step in the branding design process, make sure the what, how, and why behind your brand are also behind your new brand identity.
Building New Brand Guidelines
If you’re going to go through all the trouble of creating a new brand identity for your business, you better make sure you use it correctly. Having (and actually using) brand guidelines will help you keep your brand consistent after the transition.
Brand guidelines are especially critical for logos. Logo guidelines are designed to make it as easy as possible for customers to see, recognize, and remember your logo — making up for any lost familiarity that comes with a rebrand.
Here are a few elements to consider when writing your logo guidelines:
- Logo elements. What visual elements make up your logo? When and how are each of them used?
- Color variations. What does the colored version of your logo look like? What about black and white? When are each of these used?
- Clear space. Also called padding, this is the space around your logo that prevents overlap or obscuring. Aim for at least 10% of width at all times.
- Unacceptable uses. What can never be done to your logo? What color variations, rotations, scaling, etc. do you want to avoid?
You’ll want to have your guidelines on hand if you’re doing a website redesign, creating a rebrand campaign, or creating other marketing materials.
6. Track brand sentiment along the way.
When you’re designing all the new elements to your rebrand, it’s important to get feedback from customers. You can conduct focus groups and see if the new branding images and messages communicate your new mission, value, and vision. If you don’t get positive feedback, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
One of the most crucial steps in rebranding is tracking brand sentiment before, during, and after a rebrand launch. You can look at brand sentiment before a rebrand and see what customers feel negatively about. With this in mind, you can conduct your rebrand strategically, adding new messaging that aligns with your audience.
After you’ve evaluated the feedback before a rebrand, and tested your new rebranding elements in a focus group, it’s time to launch your rebrand.
7. Plan a successful launch.
Launching a rebrand isn’t as simple as changing the colors, fonts, or logo on your site. A rebrand is about communicating your new message: What is your new mission, values, and vision? To communicate this, it’s important to plan a successful rebranding launch.
This can include posting advertisements online, in print, on TV, on radio, etc. Then, you’ll want to announce the launch of your rebrand with a press release on your site and a post on your social media channels that says exactly why your company needed a rebrand and what this rebrand means for the future of your company.
At its best, a rebrand can act as an incentive to remain consistent and on-brand in all your marketing efforts moving forward — something that can slip in businesses over time.
Now that we’ve explored various aspects of rebranding, let’s take a look at examples for further inspiration.
1. Chobani rebrand
In 2017, Chobani made a few major changes to their brand in an effort to stand out in the crowded, oftentimes homogeneous-looking yogurt industry.
First, they shifted their identity from a yogurt company to a “food-focused wellness company” with a new mission — “Fighting for happily ever after.” Under their Impact page on their website, you’ll see the statement, “The most important thing we make is a difference. It’s always been about more than yogurt.” You’ll see this focus on health and nutrition in their advertisements and their new products, including Less Sugar Greek Yogurt and Chobani Flip Yogurt.
Additionally, as shown above, Chobani changed its packaging — instead of using plain white cups with fruit photos, they redesigned their product packaging using 19th century American folk art with a variety of colors. Their rebrand helps their products stand out from the other plain white yogurt packages on the shelves.
2. Candid rebrand
Rebranding is often a good decision after two companies merge.
For instance, Foundation Center was the largest source of information about philanthropy globally, and GuideStar was the largest source of information on U.S. nonprofit organizations. In 2019, the two organizations joined forces to become Candid, enabling both foundations to enhance the services they offer to millions of people who rely on them to help make the world a better place.
If you visit Foundation Center’s website, you’ll see a message that reads: “Foundation Center and GuideStar are now Candid. You were redirected to candid.org from foundationcenter.org.” The old GuideStar website is still visible and usable, but there is an explanation of the new corporate entity and a link to Candid’s page.
Candid, the new merged foundation, now boasts a sleek website with a mission statement, guiding principles, and a vision that combines the best of both Foundation Center and GuideStar.
3. Dropbox rebrand
In 2007, Dropbox launched as a file-storage and file-sharing web service — but in 2017, the company now wants you to think of them as ” the connective tissue for teams and businesses of all sizes”. Instead of just a file-sharing service, Dropbox is now a full suite with APIs, tools, and integrations.
Along with the internal mission shift, Dropbox refreshed its logo to reflect its new products. In a statement regarding the new logo, the Dropbox design team said, “Our old logo was a blue box that implied, ‘Dropbox is a great place to store stuff.’ The new one is cleaner and simpler. And we’ve evolved it from a literal box, to a collection of surfaces to show that Dropbox is an open platform, and a place for creation.”
4. Pet Food Experts rebrand
Pet Food Experts has a full timeline on their website that reflects all company changes since 1936, when the company first opened.
Among the most notable are the company’s name change from “Rumford Pet Center” to “Pet Food Experts” (in an “effort to establish itself separately from the Rumford Aquarium”), and the logo redesign in 2008. The 80-year-old company has grown significantly over the years, and is now a major distributor of pet products from coast-to-coast.
To reflect their change and growth over the years, the company has taken numerous successful steps to consistently refresh their brand to reflect their products and values as they change over time.
5. Dunkin’ Donuts rebrand
Beginning in January 2019, Dunkin’ Donuts, first introduced in 1973, adopted a new logo that dropped the “Donuts” on their name — now, signs, logos, and marketing materials simply read, “Dunkin'”.
The new name signifies the companies focus on coffee — Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ U.S., said in a statement, “By simplifying and modernizing our name, while still paying homage to our heritage, we have an opportunity to create an incredible new energy for Dunkin’, both in and outside our stores.”
Despite the change in name, Dunkin’ continues to use the same pink and organic colors and iconic font to ensure long-time customers continue to recognize the brand.
6. IHOP rebrand
As you’ve likely gathered from this post, a rebrand is a fantastic opportunity to refresh your public perception and get consumers’ attention.
Which is exactly why IHOP used a rebrand as a marketing ploy to get people to pay attention to their new product — burgers. In 2018, IHOP announced that it was rebranding as IHOb, the International House of Burgers. It began using IHOb on social media, its website, and in-store promotions.
Eventually, IHOP admitted its rebranding was a joke to get people to pay attention to their new line of ground Angus ground beef burgers. Their “joke rebrand” was a smart play — it incentivized people to either vehemently fight for the importance of IHOP’s most important product (pancakes), while also calling attention to their other offerings.
IHOP has since switched back to its original name and logo.
Bad Rebranding Examples
Comcast has been known to have the most hated customer services in the United States. So the company decided to change their name and rebrand their logo to xfinity.
However, the company didn’t change its history of bad practices. Superficial updates like a name change and logo change won’t help your company if brand identity and brand reputation doesn’t follow.
While the company could have worked on improving customer support, they spent money on a cosmetic upgrade, which didn’t help them earn the trust back from their customers. To earn your customers trust, you have to listen to them. You can’t just rebrand your visual identity while making no substantitve changes.
Remember that list of reasons to rebrand and reasons not to rebrand above? Gap made the mistake of rebranding for seemingly no reason. The company changed their logo and caused outrage among its customers. Only 6 days later, the company went back to the old design.
The new logo didn’t communicate anything about the brand, and in fact took the personality out of the brand’s logo. Additionally, customers had an emotional bond with their logo, and changing it for no reason caused upset customers.
3. Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers changed its name and logo a few years ago to shift its focus from weight-loss to wellness. However, with their new name “Wellness that Works,” customers weren’t sure if the product offerings were going to change.
The shift from weight-loss company to wellness company left customers confused. And this wasn’t a bad idea for a rebrand, however it’s important that your product offerings either change with your new identity or don’t rebrand at all.
Changing the name of your company shouldn’t confuse customers — it should make your offerings more clear.
Additionally, if you’re going to shift your name and product offerings, it’s important to communicate that message clearly. This rebrand failed because the message wasn’t clearly communicated and customers were confused.
Are You Ready to Rebrand?
Now that you know everything a rebrand entails, it’s time to consider if and how you want to rebrand your own business. Whether you end up going with a logo redesign, a website redesign, some refreshed messaging or a complete brand overhaul, these steps can help you to consider your best strategy for building a brand that gets it right this time.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
In marketing, offers are the gateways to lead generation. Without them, site visitors have no way of getting converted into leads. They are also a critical tool for nurturing existing leads into a position that makes them more sales-ready. But gosh, isn’t the word ‘offer’ so utterly vague and abstract? What the heck is a marketing offer, and what are the qualities of a good one?
Because we see so many marketers get tripped up on this concept, let’s discuss exactly what a marketing offer can be, highlight the characteristics of an effective offer, and explain how you can start using them the right way.
What an Offer Isn’t
Sometimes the best way to explain what something is, is to first identify what it isn’t. Unfortunately, many of the things marketers sometimes consider to be marketing offers aren’t actually offers at all. First, let’s clarify. What marketers should classify as an offer is something of value that a website visitor must complete a form to get access to. And yeah, sure you can put just about anything behind a form. But there are certain things that, when put behind a form, just won’t contribute much of anything for your lead gen or lead nurturing initiatives. We’re not saying you shouldn’t bother with these types of content. What we’re saying is that you shouldn’t put them behind forms or rely on them to effectively generate and nurture leads.
Here are some great examples of things you should never consider to be a marketing offer:
- ‘Contact Us!’: Okay, so you can put this one behind a form if it’s one that allows site visitors to email you. But this will never bring in leads as effectively as true offers will.
- Product-Centric Content: We’re talking brochures, product videos, etc. Yes, these can be great tools to introduce to leads who are close to making a purchasing decision, but there’s no reason they should be gated behind a form. You should want your site visitors to be able to access this type of content freely and frictionlessly. And if site visitors are looking at this type of content, they’re likely already in your sales funnel and much closer to making a purchasing decision.
- Customer Case Studies: Just like product-centric content, customer case studies are likely something you want to make it very easy for visitors to access. Making a visitor or lead fill out a form is unnecessary.
- Fact Sheets: Simply put, fact sheets and other company-focused content is not lead generation material.
- Press Releases: Putting a press release behind a CTA or form will lower your chances of getting the word out, defeating their main purpose.
What an Offer Is
The good news is, you have quite a few great options at your disposal in terms of the types of offers you can, well, offer your target audience. These include but are not limited to:
- Ebooks and Guides: Providing visitors with guides or ebooks that help them solve a problem, or are tailored to their interests will help establish you (or your brand) as an authority on the topic.
- Discounts and Promotions: Visitors to your website might be more inclined to hand over their information if it means they get a discount or promotion code in exchange.
- Webinars and Courses: Another way to establish yourself as an authority on a certain topic is to offer a webinar or course. When visitors register, you’ll get their information and they’ll learn more about a topic or gain a skill in return.
- Industry Case Studies and Research: Industry-specific reports and research can be a great incentive for prospects to give their contact information. You offer value by doing the research for them, making it readily available, and providing it for free.
- Membership or Loyalty Programs: These programs provide potential customers with a sense of exclusivity — access to rewards and perks not offered to non-members.
- Templates: Templates provide an easy way for prospects to create their own documents without having to start them from scratch. Some common template options you’re probably familiar with are resumes, proposals, and email.
- Free Tools: Free tools such as HubSpot’s Website Grader are a great way to have site visitors test your products without having to make a purchase.
- Free Trials: Similarly to free tools, free trials allow visitors to your site to test your services out risk-free.
- Product Demos and Consultations: If a potential client is on the fence about using your services, offering a consultation or demonstration might help reel them in. Not only will you get their contact information when they sign up, but they’ll learn more about how your product or service can help them.
What makes a good marketing offer?
While the types of offers we mentioned above are all great options for marketing offers, there are a number of qualities that an offer should possess in order for it to be effective for lead generation and nurturing. Offers should:
1. Be High Quality and Valuable to Your Target Audience
The important thing to remember is that, if you’re requiring a site visitor to complete a form in order to obtain your offer, the value of that offer needs to be compelling enough to convince those visitors to do so. People don’t like to give up their contact information freely, and your lead-capture form will create some friction. So if you start putting mediocre, low-value offers behind your forms, your business will eventually be known for having a poor user experience and subpar offerings, seriously hurting your lead generation and nurturing goals.
In the simplest sense, an offer is valuable if it addresses the problems, needs, and interests of your target audience. This value could also mean different things for offers used in different stages of the sales process. For example, an offer you’re promoting to generate net new leads at the top of your funnel (like, say, an educational ebook or a webinar) is likely valuable because it educates your prospects and fulfills a need. A free product trial, on the other hand, may not be as educational in nature, but it’s still a very valuable offer for existing leads you’re trying to nurture and who are closer to making a purchasing decision.
2. Align With Your Business and the Products or Services You Offer
A great marketing offer complements the products and services your business sells. That educational ebook is probably not very focused on how awesome your products and services are, but it should address concepts that align with your paid offerings.
For example, HubSpot sells inbound marketing software, so our offers focus on helping prospects with their marketing challenges. These offers help set HubSpot apart as an industry thought leader and educate prospects about the problems our software helps to solve.
3. Be Tailored to the Right Buyer Persona at the Right Time
As we hinted at before, a truly great marketing offer also takes into account a person’s point in the sales process as well as that buyer persona’s specific interests and needs. How this really comes into play is in lead nurturing campaigns and how you decide which calls-to-action (CTAs) to place where on your website.
If you use lead management software, you can easily collect key pieces of information (AKA lead intelligence) about your prospects that will help you segment your leads into nurturing campaigns based on their buyer persona, their point in the sales process, and what you can determine their interests are based on their activity on your website. Sending them offers that appeal to those interests as well as how close they are to making a purchasing decision can help you better qualify a lead before they get handed off to sales.
For example, if your business is in plumbing and a first-time visitor comes to your site and downloads an ebook on how to unclog a minor plumbing backup, you might enter them into a lead nurturing campaign that then invites them to also attend a webinar about common plumbing problems and how to fix them. As they move further through the sales cycle, you could then offer them a coupon that discounts your services for that (apparently) not-so-minor drain problem they’re having.
The same concept applies to how you choose which calls-to-action should be placed on different pages of your website. For example, if you conduct analysis that shows that your blog is typically how new visitors find you (whether through social media, search engines, or another referrer), you can infer that many people who land on your blog are first-time visitors to your website. Therefore, on your blog, you should probably place CTAs for offers that appeal to people who are just entering the top of your funnel and know little about your company (like an educational webinar, ebook, or kit, for example).
On the other hand, a visitor on something like a product page probably indicates they are much closer to a purchasing decision. What might be more valuable to those types of visitors is a CTA for a free product trial, or a demo if you’re a software vendor.
How to Use Marketing Offers
Now that you have a much clearer understanding of what makes a good marketing offer (and what doesn’t), let’s dive into some offer best practices. After all, you can create a ton of great offers, but if you’re not using them to your best advantage, they’re not going to do much good to generate and nurture leads.
1. Create multiple types of targeted offers.
First things first. With all that talk about targeting and segmenting the right offers to the right buyer persona (at the right time), you can probably guess that what all that translates to is a need for a variety of offers. Building up an arsenal of offers can be a big lift, but it can mean the difference between good results and awesome results.
Create a spreadsheet that allows you to list the offers you currently have, highlight the holes in your group of offers ( what topic are you missing an offer for that your audience would appreciate?), and map offers to the various points in your business’ sales process. Then slowly work through your offer to-do list, gradually filling in those gaps.
2. Put offers behind lead-capture forms.
If offers are the gateways to lead generation, lead-capture forms (AKA conversion forms) are the gateways to your offers. Always place your offers on landing pages, gated by forms. This allows you to collect information that helps you qualify a new or reconverting lead and track what they’ve downloaded from you throughout the sales cycle.
3. Create calls-to-action, and place them appropriately.
We mentioned this above, but it’s an important one. Create CTAs for each of your offers, and align them with the pages on your website. If you’re that plumber we mentioned and you just wrote a blog post about the best and worst products to unclog a drain, you might place a CTA for your free guide to the best plumbing products on the market.. Once you have created awesome-looking CTA buttons for your site and you’re moving onto ninja status, you can also test different versions of your CTAs to determine which ones generate the best click-through rate.
4. Create content around your offers.
Taking things a step further, create content specifically around your new offers to help launch and promote them. If you just created that ‘Best Plumbing Products’ guide, write a blog article that highlights the top 5 products mentioned in the guide and couple that with your CTA, explaining that readers can learn more by downloading the new guide. Excerpts make for easy blog content, so you’ll be killing two birds with one stone!
Video is also a powerful tool to keep in your marketing toolbox. You could create short, how-to videos explaining to viewers how to fix common plumbing issues. Using a CTA, prompt them to subscribe to your newsletter or YouTube channel for more content and resources.
5. Promote your offers on social media.
The promotion of your offers shouldn’t be limited to just your website. Use social media as a promotional vehicle by sharing links to the landing pages for your offers and briefly explaining their value in your tweets, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn posts. Spend some time to build your social media reach so you can expose your offers to as large an audience as possible.
6. Entice potential customers with contests.
A great way to leverage social media exposure is through contests. For example, surf brand Billabong ran a contest to win a trip for two to Baja, Mexico. To enter, contestants must enter their contact info into a form. You could run a promotion for free services or products that would be of interest to your target audience in exchange for them completing a form.
Other contests may ask users to tag a friend under the contest’s post, which helps build brand awareness and acts as free promotion through word of mouth.
7. Use them in email marketing and lead nurturing.
As we mentioned above, offers are critical to a business’ lead nurturing efforts, but you can also promote them using general email marketing as dedicated sends. Promote your new offer in a dedicated email send that only highlights that one offer and conveys its value. If it’s a very general offer that every buyer persona in your audience would enjoy regardless of their point in the sales cycle, send it to your entire list. If it’s a more targeted offer, segment your list, and send it only to the people to whom it will appeal.
8. Align offers with prospects’ stage in the sales process.
This is another one we’ve already talked about, but it’s worth emphasizing. Aligning the offers you use in your lead nurturing campaigns and in the CTAs on your website with a prospect’s likely position in the sales cycle will not only help to better qualify a lead, but it may also shorten the sales cycle, as a prospect will be much closer to a purchasing decision with a ton of knowledge about your business before he/she even talks to a sales person.
9. Track performance and update strategy as needed.
Measure the performance of your offers. This will help you identify which types and topics of offers are successful in generating leads and customers so you can create more offers around those topics or in those formats, helping you become a much more effective marketer. Do your prospects prefer webinars to ebooks? Do they only care about certain topics that your offers are addressing? Use what you know to improve your lead generation and lead nurturing efforts in the future.
Using Offers in Your Marketing
How many offers are in your back pocket? How much do they factor into your business’ lead generation and nurturing efforts?
Offers are an invaluable tool for generating leads. Use them wisely and watch your business reap the benefits.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February, 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
As of June 2021, TikTok users on Android devices now spend more time each month watching content than YouTube users (also on Android devices). In UK countries, the difference is even more drastic than in the U.S. as TikTok users continue to watch more video content than on YouTube.
Additionally, HubSpot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report reveals that video is the top content marketing strategy used by brands while social media is ranked as the top marketing channel.
With data like that — and all the growing social media video platforms out there — it’s become obvious that social media marketing and video content go hand in hand.
While creating great social media videos for your company can be an incredibly effective marketing tactic, each social media content strategy shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. To ensure that your videos are seen and spread quality brand awareness, you’ll need to ensure you’re making the right videos for the right audiences on the right platforms.
To help you figure out where to publish your video content — and which types of videos to post — we surveyed 300+ consumers to find out where they most commonly watch videos on social media.
Below, we’ll reveal the results and a few expert tips for building the best social media video-sharing strategy for 2021 — including one from an expert at Wistia.
Where are Consumers Watching Social Media Videos?
In recent years, Gen-Z-targeting platforms like TikTok and Instagram have been on the rise. But if you think that everyone’s primarily watching video on these platforms, you might be surprised by what our poll found.
When I asked consumers “On which social media platform do you most commonly watch videos?”, 35% of respondents said YouTube.
While it’s not surprising that YouTube or Facebook, some of the world’s biggest online platforms, are the preferred video viewing sites, only 8% of respondents said they primarily watch videos on Instagram — one of the pioneers of Stories and live video.
Another surprising find was that 20% of respondents — or 1 in 5 people — primarily use TikTok (the youngest social network on the list) for video viewing. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to shift your whole strategy to TikTok, it does show that the platform could continue to have a promising future for content marketers.
If this data has you worried that you’re publishing videos on the wrong platforms, take a breath. Remember that this is just one informal consumer survey. Had we polled a specific age group, people from a specific industry, or consumers from different regions, the results might have swayed to other platforms — like LinkedIn or Twitter.
However, even though this is just one small survey, it does remind us that a mix of older and newer platforms, like YouTube and TikTok, are the go-to video platforms for vast audiences.
In another study, we surveyed 310 social media marketers in the United States to find out which social media platforms they leverage, which formats they use, and their plans and expectations going into 2022.
In this study, we found the top format marketers leverage on social media is video content: short-form video (54%) and live videos/streaming (47%). Additionally, this format is known to be the most effective as well, as 85% of respondents said short-form videos, and 70% said live videos/streaming are most effective.
This being said, marketers reported that video content has the highest engagement levels and ROI on both Facebook and Instagram.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that 95% of marketers who leverage short-form videos plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022. Additionally, 95% of marketers who leverage live videos/streaming plan to increase their investment, and 89% of marketers who leverage long-form videos plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022.
Now that we’ve gotten an idea of where consumers are primarily watching social media videos, we’ll walk you through a few tips for sharing the best videos for different social media audiences.
Tips for Sharing Social Media Videos
1. For most platforms, zone in on snackable content.
The world is becoming more fast-paced every day. While many people are watching social media videos in their spare time, some are watching them between meetings, while in line at the store, or on public transit. Even if people do have time to watch hours of video, there’s so much out there that they’ll want to scroll to more content almost immediately after their video starts.
That’s why one social media video strategy to focus on in 2021 is mastering the art of “snackable” or super short-form content.
“Using snackable videos on social can actually drive more engagement than static images,” says Meisha Bochicchio, Content Marketing Manager at Wistia. “A recent study found that 60% of marketers saw more clicks with video posts compared with static images.”
When it comes to creating effective snackable content, Bochicchio says, “First things first, keep in mind that most social media platforms will automatically start playing video content as viewers scroll. So, make sure your videos are autoplay-friendly. Keep them short and put your key messaging in the first few seconds. For example, take a look at this video from Wistia announcing their State of Video Report.”
“Remember that most people won’t hear your audio, so make sure your videos are also silent-friendly,”Bochicchio advises. “Consider text overlays, or upload captions directly on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
In the video example below, Wistia marks the launch of their series “Show Business” with a captioned video that allows viewers to get key information without any sound.
2. Test different video formats, too.
While snackable content is a great tactic to harness in 2021, you can still publish longer videos, as long as they’re engaging and valuable to your audience.
For example, while people might not want to watch a two-hour commercial, they could watch a longer live video Q&A, an interview with a thought leader, or a video that tells a longer, but entertaining story.
As new video formats emerge, it can be helpful to determine if they might work for your brand and design a test around them.
Be sure you identify and track the right success metrics. For example, if you’re testing a longer video, look at its views and dropoff rate to see how long viewers stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you try a more interactive approach like a live stream or Q&A you can also take note of comments, engagements, and shares on the content while you’re live.
3. Meet your video audiences where they are.
As with any social media strategy, some content will perform better on some social media platforms rather than others. While snackable, consumer-facing content might perform well with YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok’s large consumer audiences, a B2B marketing video or a Q&A with a corporate thought leader might perform better on a professional-facing network like LinkedIn.
Luckily, to create a great marketing strategy, you don’t (and shouldn’t have to) place your videos on every single social media platform. However, you should research the demographics of each major network, identify which audiences might engage most with your content, and start publishing videos where it makes the most sense for your brand and goals.
Then, continue to keep an eye on platforms you’ve ruled out in case they continue to evolve and provide your brand more audience opportunities in the future.
4. Don’t always lean on repurposed content.
When I was a startup marketer, I loved to repurpose content whenever it was possible. And, back then, when social media platforms were less evolved, this strategy would work.
Today, it can still be beneficial for brands to repurpose some video content for different platforms when they have similar audiences and features. This can also be a great way to test whether your content strategy for one platform will work with one audience.
However, because knowing your social media audience is more important than ever, you might want to consider having a slightly different video strategy for your most important video platforms. While there will be times where you can easily repurpose content to save time or bandwidth, some platforms like TikTok and Instagram are evolving with algorithms that could deprioritize your content if it has a watermark from another network.
5. Embrace influencers — and customers.
Even if you’ve done all of your research and churn out videos daily, it can still be incredibly hard to post a viral piece of content that grows your audience.
Luckily, there are experts on every social media platform who know how to create videos. And, some of them will even create videos for you — and then share them with their audiences.
That’s why one great growth strategy can involve reaching out to influencers or thought leaders with expertise in your industry and either featuring them in your videos or getting them to endorse your brand in their content.
If you can’t afford to have an influencer help boost your video strategy, you can also look towards happy consumers. With this strategy, you can encourage customers to share a video about their experience with your brand on social media, or you can create a video filled with multiple pieces of user-generated content from happy customers.
Because today’s consumers crave authenticity from brands, user-generated content not only can provide you with free video content but can also spread brand awareness to prospects or people researching you on social media.
Navigating Social Media Content
More than ever, social media and content marketing are always evolving. As a marketer, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and data to better inform your strategies — whether you’re investing in video or other tactics.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
I get it, fellow marketers —sometimes, you just need the numbers.
The new year means a lot of things: new life changes, new opportunities, chances to change lives, and, for marketers, new campaigns to plan.
The juggernaut known as social media only gets bigger with every new year, and because of that, demographics shift with it. And, ultimately, keeping on top of important numbers before your social media campaigns can help you with ROI in the long run.
Here, we’ve compiled the state of social media demographics, optimized with the most important data you need to know about your audience and shaping your personas for 2022.
General Social Media Demographics
- Roughly 82% of Americans between 18 and 49 years old use at least one social media site. (Pew Research Center)
- The top way marketers find their audience on social media is by researching relevant online communities, such as Facebook Groups and subreddits. (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021)
- 84% of marketers are targeting Millennials in their social media strategy, followed by Gen X (52%), then Gen Z at 22%. Only 14% of marketers target Baby boomers. (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021)
- Most marketers say that short-form video content is the most popular content format for Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021)
- As of 2021, Facebook has over 2 billion monthly active users. (Statista)
- Users spend an average of 19.5 hours a month on Facebook. (Hootsuite)
Age and Gender
- Male consumers between 25 and 34 years of age represent the largest demographic on Facebook. (Statista)
- Globally, 56.4% of Facebook users identify as male while 43.6% identify as female. (Statista)
- Marketers believe Facebook is the most popular social media platform across all age groups. (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021)
- India has the most Facebook users at 349 million, with the United States in second place with 193.9 million users. (Statista)
- Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa are the countries where Facebook users are growing the fastest. (eMarketer)
- In 2020, Facebook’s user base is declined in Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and South Korea. (eMarketer)
As the most popular social media network, Facebook is definitely a platform worth investing in. Its largest user group is Millennials but it still has a wide range of users across all ages. Furthermore, Facebook is popular worldwide, making it a great social media network for brands of all industries and locations.
- eMarketer forecasts that Instagram will reach 1.1 billion users in 2022. (eMarketer)
- 500+ million users are active on the platform every day. (Instagram)
- Users spend an average of 10.3 hours a month on IG. (Hootsuite)
Age and Gender
- Males between the ages of 18 to 24 represent the largest demographic on Instagram, followed closely by males between 25 to 34 years old. (Statista)
- Most women on Instagram are between 18 and 34 years old. (Statista)
- The smallest age group on Instagram is senior males 65+. (Statista)
- For two consecutive years, the most geo-tagged city in the world on Instagram has been Los Angeles, California. (Mention + Hubspot)
- The country with the most Instagram posts in 2020 was the the U.S., leading with 571K posts, followed by Brazil with over 300K posts. (Mention + HubSpot)
- India and the U.S. lead the board as the countries with the largest Instagram audience sizes, similar to Facebook, (Statista)
Instagram is another leading social media platform with a large user base spanning all age groups. While it’s not as big as Facebook, it does offer advanced ecommerce features, making it incredibly popular among consumers and valuable to brands.
- Twitter’s user base reached over 320 million users in 2021. (Statista)
- Roughly a quarter of Americans use Twitter. (Pew Research Center)
- Twitter ranks #12 in the world’s most visited websites. (SEMrush)
- Users spend an average of 5.6 hours a month on Twitter. (Hootsuite)
Age and Gender
- Most American Twitter users (65%) are between 18 and 29 years of age. ((Pew Research Center)
- Twitter’s user base heavily skews male with only 29.6% of users identifying as female. (Statista)
- The U.S. is the country with the most Twitter users, at 77 million with Japan right behind at 58.2 million. (Statista)
- 27% of U.S. adults living in urban areas use Twitter. (Pew Research Center)
Income and Education
- 34% of U.S. adults who earn $75K or more use Twitter. (Pew Research Center)
If you’re looking to build a community surrounding your brand, Twitter is a great place to start. It’s particularly popular in the U.S., so that aligns with your target audience, consider setting up your virtual shop there.
- Users spend an average of 13.3 hours a month on TikTok. (Hootsuite)
- Because TikTok’s audience is younger, most users earn between $30K to $50K. (Pew Research Center)
- Tiktok has 1 billion monthly active users. (Influencer Marketing Hub)
- TikTok ranks #2 on the platforms social media marketers build communities on, behind YouTube. (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021)
- On average, consumers spend roughly 13 hours a month on TikTok. (Hootsuite)
Age and Gender
- 25% of U.S. TikTok users are between 10 and 19 years of age. (Statista)
- Only 18% of U.S. Tiktok users are 50+ years old. (Pew Research Center)
- Marketers believe TikTok is the second most popular social media platform with Gen Z, behind Facebook. (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021)
- TikTok is most popular in China with 600 million active daily users, followed by the U.S., Indonesia, and Brazil. (Business of Apps)
- In 2020, Latin America was the fastest-growing region for TikTok usage, excluding China. (Statista)
TikTok’s audience heavily skews young, with a large Gen Z population. As such, it’s a great platform for B2C brands targeting this demographic. With short-form video taking off, it’s an opportunity for brands to not only hop on a growing trend but do it on a platform that caters to their target audiences.
- YouTube is the number one platform social media marketers build communities on. (HubSpot Blog Research, 2021)
- YouTube is the second most visited website in the world. (Hootsuite)
- 81% of U.S. consumers say they use YouTube, a 7% increase from 2019 and the biggest jump of all major social media platforms (Pew Research Center)
- On average, consumers spend 23.2 hours a month on YouTube, more than Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. (Hootsuite)
- YouTube has over 2 billion users. (Omnicore)
- YouTube accounts for over 25% of total worldwide mobile traffic by volume. (Sandvine)
Age and Gender
- 49% of U.S. internet users over 65 years of age say they use YouTube, compared to only 13% on Instagram, 7% on Twitter, and 4% of TikTok users. (Pew Research Center)
- YouTube’s largest advertising audience (21.2%) is 25- to 34-year-olds, followed by 35- to 44-year-olds. (Hootsuite)
- Roughly 15% of YouTube’s traffic comes from the U.S. (Alexa)
YouTube is the leading video platform, with a wide range of users from Gen Z all the way to Baby Boomers. Because it’s known for long-form content, users tend to spend much more time on this platform compared to other social networks.
With this in mind, brands should develop a long-form video strategy to capitalize on this huge traffic source and lead generator.
- LinkedIn’s user base in 2021 is roughly 774 million, with 21% of that being U.S. internet users. (Statista)
- LinkedIn saw a slower user growth in 2021 (4.2%), compared to the previous year at 6.2%. (eMarketer)
- LinkedIn makes up the largest share of B2B display advertising in the U.S. at 32.3%. (eMarketer)
Age and Gender
- 56% of LinkedIn users identify as male while 43.1% identify as female. (Statista)
- Roughly 60% of LinkedIn users are between 25 and 34 years of age. (DataReportal)
- LinkedIn is used in 200 countries and territories. (LinkedIn)
- India, China, and Brazil have the largest LinkedIn user bases after the U.S. (DataReportal)
- Over 75% of members are outside the US. (LinkedIn)
- 51% of U.S. adults who have a college education use LinkedIn. Only 12% of U.S. adults earning less than $30K use the platform. (Pew Research Center)
- Half of U.S. adults who earn $75K+ use LinkedIn. .(Pew Research Center)
Although LinkedIn’s user growth has slowed down, it’s still the number one social media platform for B2B brands. It’s full of decision-makers and young adults entering the workforce prime for social selling.
- There are 430 million users on Reddit. (Statista)
- Reddit saw 14.4% user growth in 2021. (eMarketer)
- 18% of U.S. internet users use Reddit, growing 7% from 2019. (Pew Research Center)
Age and Gender
- Gen Z makes up roughly 2% of Reddit users. (eMarketer)
- Reddit is made up of 62.8% male and 37.2% female users. (Statista)
- Only 3% of U.S. adults over 65 years of age use Reddit. However, 36% of U.S. adults between 18 and 29 years of age use it. (Pew Research Center)
- 46% of desktop traffic to Reddit.com comes from the U.S. (SimilarWeb)
- 21% of U.S. adults living in suburban areas use Reddit, compared to only 10% living in rural areas.
Along with YouTube, Reddit’s user base has grown significantly in recent years, compared to other social media platforms. This suggests that consumers are becoming more interested in what the network has to offer. From an audience perspective, it’s made up mostly of male Millennials, attracting most of its users from the U.S.
- There are roughly 306 million people users on Snapchat. (Snapchat)
- 59% of U.S. users check Snapchat daily. (Pew Research Center)
- 25% of U.S. internet users use Snapchat. (Pew Research Center)
- Snapchat users spend over 30 minutes a day on the platform. (Snapchat)
Age and Gender
- 65% of U.S. adults between 18 and 29 years old use Snapchat. (Pew Research Center)
- Only 12% of women living in the U.S. use Reddit, compared to 23% of men. (Pew Research Center)
- 28% of U.S. adults living in urban areas use Snapchat. (Pew Research Center)
One thing that’s clear with this Snapchat data is that young people love it. After Instagram introduced Stories, many thought Snapchat was on its way out. Turns out, it’s still a major player in the social media game. If your target audience is Millennials, you should definitely consider having a presence on that platform.
Feel free to refer to this list periodically as you’re working through your editorial calendars and audits for the new year. As this time of year calls for a fresh slate, the research behind your next incredible campaign has to be fresh, as well. Happy planning!
There’s nothing quite like a sudden Google algorithm update to leave you feeling equal parts confused and concerned. It seems as though search engines like Google wait for you to get all of your ducks in a row and then unleash an update that makes your efforts instantly obsolete.
Plus, there’s still some secrecy behind how Google evaluates websites and determines which sites appear — and how they appear — on the search engine results page (SERPs) for different queries.
The good news is that there are several search engine optimization (SEO) tools out there — some free, some paid — that can help you view
your website the way search engines like Google see it — this way, you can improve your ranking and relevance for your target keywords.
Note: Some of the free tools below also offer paid plans while some of the paid tools also offer free plans — so, we recommend you check out the pricing pages for the tools you’re most interested in to determine which plan is ideal for your needs and goals.
For universal SEO tips, you can use today to grow your business, check out our video guide below.
Free SEO Tools
These tools are free to use, but you might find a paid option that has more features. We’ve shared some of the best features in each tool as well as how you can get the most out of them for your SEO strategy.
The goal of marketing is to generate traffic and qualified leads via the company’s website. That’s why, as marketers, we need to understand exactly what we can do to improve the SEO of that website.
With HubSpot’s Website Grader, simply enter the URL of your website to automatically receive a report card with actionable insights about your SEO efforts. From there, you can sign up for the HubSpot Academy SEO course that teaches you how to improve your website’s SEO, user experience (UX), and more.
With the HubSpot Website Grader, you can:
- Website performance: Learn about your website’s performance in seconds, and identify specific performance issues and receive clear, actionable feedback on how you can fix them.
- On-demand support: Receive how-to education on how you can improve your website.
- Improve specific website issues: Gain access to a five-lesson HubSpot Academy course on Website Optimization so you can understand how to improve upon your website’s specific problem areas.
- Optimize for mobile: Discover how to optimize your website for mobile.
- Boost web security: Learn how you can implement website security best practices.
- Enhance the user experience: Personalize your website’s UX to create a delightful experience for users.
Google Search Console has a number of tools available to help you appear in the SERPs for the search terms and phrases your target audience is looking for.
If you’re the owner of a business or an SEO on your marketing team, Search Console can help you conduct an initial SEO analysis from scratch or update your existing SEO strategy with fresh keywords. Google Search Console monitors, debugs, and optimizes your website — and you don’t need to know how to code to benefit from this tool.
Here are some examples of website elements Google Search Console will teach you about and help you optimize:
- Keywords: Learn about the keywords your webpages are currently ranking for.
- Crawl Errors: Identify any crawl errors that exist on your website.
- Mobile Responsiveness: Understand how mobile-friendly your website is and discover opportunities to improve the mobile experience for your users.
- Google Index: See how many of your web pages are in Google’s Index (if they aren’t in Google’s index, you can use the tool’s URL Inspection Tool to submit a page for indexing).
- Analytics and Metrics: The website-related metrics that matter most to you, like clicks, impressions, average click-through rate (CTR), and average position.
Although Google Analytics has a paid version, the free version of the product can help you manage your website’s SEO — this is especially true if you pair Google Analytics with Google Search Console. In doing so, all of your website’s SEO data will be centrally located and compiled, and you can use queries to identify areas for improvement with the keywords and phrases that you want your website and web pages to rank for.
Other ways that you can use the free version of Google Analytics to understand and improve your SEO are:
- Filtering your referral traffic: Get rid of the traffic that has the potential of ruining SEO reports, such as fake traffic.
- Compare organic versus non-organic website traffic: Understand where your visitors are coming from and optimize those channels to increase traffic.
- Determine engagement metrics: Use Site Content Reports to determine engagement metrics on each web page, engagement for the directories and pages on your website, page exit metrics, as well as acquisition, behavior, and conversion of landing pages.
- Review the Multi-Channel Report’s Assisted Conversions feature: Identify which of your channels led to the most conversions and the value they bring to your business.
The Free SEO Report Card by UpCity lets you analyze your website to determine how it stacks up against the competition.
In exchange for your email address and a few data points, SEO Report Card will serve up a report that covers the following:
- Rank Analysis: A snapshot of where your website ranks on the most popular search engines.
- Link Building: A detailed account of the number of websites that link back to your site.
- On-Site Analysis: A look at how successful you were in incorporating your main keyword throughout your site.
- Website Accessibility: Information about your site’s load time and accessibility.
- Trust Metrics: An overview of your site’s level of trust or authority.
- Current Indexing: An indication of how many of your site pages have been indexed.
Internet Marketing Ninjas is an SEO-focused company with a variety of free tools you can use to compare your website against the competition, optimize web pages for certain keywords, generate meta tags, and increase organic traffic to your website.
Here are some examples of the free Internet Marketing Ninja SEO tools you can take advantage of:
- Broken link tool: Identify broken links and redirects and use the site crawl feature to generate an XML sitemap of your website.
- Image metadata: See all of your page links (external, internal, etc.) on your web pages to review what’s working well and what’s broken or needs an update.
- On-page optimization tool: Use this to evaluate your web page content, meta information, and internal links.
- Side-by-side comparison: Compare the SEO of your web pages versus a competitor’s web pages.
- Page load time: Analyze page-load time and how long each component of a web page takes to fully display.
Microsoft Bing Webmaster gives you access to many tools that offer insight into your website such as reporting, diagnostic, and SEO tools. The SEO tools that you can use for free have the power to help you analyze your website, manage backlinks, and review keywords to ensure your site is well-optimized for organic search.
Here are some of the other things you can do with Bing Webmaster’s SEO tools:
- See backlink profiles: Learn about your backlink profile to understand referring pages, domains, and anchor links.
- Perform keyword research: Determine which keywords and phrases your audience is searching for as well as the search volumes of those keywords and phrases.
- Use the site scanning feature: Crawl your website and identify technical SEO errors.
- Get SEO reports: Review any errors that are on your website and individual site pages.
Traditional SEO tools like the ones we’ve already discussed are great for conducting research and audits when your business is already established. But what if you’re starting a new business venture and want to know what popular industries, topics, and ideas people are exploring? Google Trends is a great place to explore untapped potential that can yield a large keyword landscape for your website.
You’ll want to note that Google Trends isn’t where you’ll get granular data. This tool performs best when you use it as a compass to set a direction for your SEO strategy, and then pair those insights with a more robust software like HubSpot’s SEO Marketing Tool.
Here’s what you should look for in Google Trends:
- Trends: Look for trends in specific countries or regions of the world.
- Popular topics: Find popular people and long tail keywords related to them.
- Comparisons: Compare and contrast trends over time.
Seolyzer is a free site crawling, log analysis, and SEO tool that helps you determine how search engines like Google view your website. Seolyzer pulls information that crawling bots leave in your server’s log files while browsing your site to identify and create your SEO KPIs. The tool also identifies error codes, redirects, and page speed performance.
Additionally, Seolyzer can help you:
- Monitor SEO issues: Identify poor response time, error messages, and crawl volume so you can resolve them before serious damage is done.
- Manage your unique KPIs: Analyze page performance, crawl volume, HTTP status codes, active and new pages, and desktop versus mobile responsiveness.
- Segment web pages: Determine what your most crawled pages are.
- Compare web pages: See what Google deems as the most important to the pages that are crucial to your business’s bottom line.
- Measure SEO impact: Understand the impact of your SEO efforts on a page-by-page basis or by the category of the page.
SEOquake is a Google Chrome extension that automatically checks a web page’s SEO parameters quickly for free. This includes on-page SEO audits, internal and external link reviews, real-time URL and domain comparison, and data file export.
Other things you can use SEOquake for are:
- Link Analysis: Get a detailed description of how all of your links are doing — including URLs, anchor text, and other link types — with the tools Link Examiner feature.
- Focus on metrics that matter: Adjust the SEOquake reports you receive to display only the parameters and metrics that you care about.
- Audit your website’s SEO: Identify any SEO-related issues that would be findable by search engines.
- Share your findings with stakeholders: Export the results of your SEO analysis into an adjustable and shareable report.
Seobility is a free SEO-checker tool. With it, you can test your website’s level of compliance with today’s SEO guidelines. By simply entering your URL, your site will be analyzed and you’ll receive tips on how you can better optimize your website.
In addition to a detailed SEO audit of your website, you’ll gain access to 1,000 subpage audits, email reporting and alerts, and keyword monitoring.
Here are some more advantages of using Seobility:
- Find technical errors: Resolve on-page SEO issues quickly to recover lost traffic and prevent future traffic dips.
- Accurate SEO scoring: Receive an SEO score that accounts for various website factors including meta-information, page quality, link structure, and more.
- Meta information analysis: Understand the specific SEO issues with your meta information such as meta titles/ descriptions, meta tags, and invalid or incorrect domain names or page URLs.
- Optimization opportunities: Identify areas for improvement regarding your page speed and quality (related to text, duplicate content, responsive design, and alt attributes for content).
- Link structure suggestions: Understand how your page and link structure can be improved by getting data about your headers, internal links, and incorrect anchor text.
11. Check My Links
Check My Links is a Google Chrome extension that you can use to ensure your links on both internal or external web pages work. For instance, if you were to search a term on Wikipedia, Check My Links would be able to tell you how many links that Wikipedia page has in total and how many of those links are broken.
This is helpful because you can make corrections to broken links immediately (or hopefully, before a page goes live). Check My Links is ideal for developers, content editors, and web designers according to its creators.
Here are some more examples of what Check My Links can do:
- Identify broken links: Check each link on your webpages and identify all invalid links.
- Auto-highlight issues: Quickly see the good links in green and the broken links in red.
- Export broken links for further analysis: Copy all of your bad links to your clipboard in one click.
BROWSEO is an SEO browser that allows you to review your webpage in a limited format so you can analyze its UX and content as well as gain insight into its SEO. Once you input the URL, the output will hone in on your HTML so you’re able to understand the page’s structure, optimized search terms, and other SEO-related factors.
Examples of what you can do with BROWSEO include:
- See the number of words on the page: Find the sweet spot for copy length on your webpages.
- Determine the number of internal and external links on your page: This allows you to see how your linking strategy is working on each page.
- See all of your meta information: Review title tags, alt text, and meta descriptions.
Paid SEO Tools
Next, let’s look at some paid SEO tools. (Note that some of these tools have free trial periods. Some also offer entirely free plans but with restrictions in terms of flexibility and customization.)
Price: $45/ mo for the Starter plan, $800 for professional, and $3,200 for enterprise.
HubSpot’s Marketing Hub includes an SEO marketing software tool that’s perfect for helping you build authority across your website. Since this software is integrated with HubSpot landing pages, webpages, and blog posts, you’ll never miss an opportunity to optimize your content for traffic and conversions.
No matter if you’re creating your first content strategy or you’re an expert in all things SEO, HubSpot’s SEO Marketing Software gives you the tools and the confidence to rank in the SERP and report on your performance.
HubSpot’s marketing software doesn’t keep SEO in a silo. This tool works in conjunction with:
- Email: Send professional emails using your own branded designs.
- Marketing Automation: Create dynamic campaigns for segmented audiences.
- Lead Management: Track leads through each stage in your sales process.
- Analytics: Review your campaign to identify success and opportunities for improvement.
Price: Seven-day trial for $7, $99/ mo for Lite, $179/ mo for Standard, $399/ mo for Advanced, $999/ mo for Agency
Ahrefs is an advanced SEO resource that examines your website property and produces keyword, link, and ranking profiles to help you make better decisions on your content.
Some of Ahrefs’ main features are:
- Site Explorer: Shows you the performance of specific webpages on your website.
- Content Explorer: This allows you to search high-performing webpages under specific keywords and topics.
- Keywords Explorer: Generates the monthly search volume and click-through rates of specific keywords.
- Site Audit: Crawls specified verticals within your domain and reveals a number of technical issues at the page level.
Price: $119.95/ mo for Pro, $229.95/ mo for Guru, or $449.95/ mo for Business
SEMrush is an elaborate dashboard that reports on the performance of domains as a whole and their specific pages. SEMrush offers numerous resources, one of which is the SEO Toolkit.
Toolkit allows you to track a website’s visibility improvement over time as well as identify which keywords it’s ranking for, what the page’s rank is for a keyword, the keyword’s monthly search volume, and more.
SEMrush also allows you to:
- Build links: Analyze backlinks from other websites to your site.
- Use the Keyword Magic tool: Identify all keywords you need to successfully build an SEO strategy.
- See your competitors’ strategies: Identify the paid keywords or ad copy used in the PPC ads of your competition.
- Receive recommendations: See how you can increase your organic traffic by optimizing your content.
Price: 10-day free trial; $29/mo
Sometimes you don’t need an SEO tool with all the bells and whistles if you only need to do keyword research. KWFinder is a great software that fills the gap between nuts-and-bolts SEO work and copywriting. You’ll find keywords that aren’t too difficult to rank for but still carry the potential to bring in traffic.
What makes KWFinder unique is how seamlessly it shifts between languages and regions so that you can serve your audience no matter where in the world they are.
Some of the top features KWFinder offers include:
- Hidden long tail keyword insights: Find long tail keywords that give you more opportunities to acquire traffic.
- Competitor keyword insights: See how your competitor’s keyword strategy compares to your own, plus find more keyword opportunities.
- SERP analysis tool: Analyze competition in the SERP to understand what elements readers are looking for on your pages.
- Local keyword research tool: See what searchers are looking for locally and appeal to local markets for more niche traffic.
Price: Free five-day trial, $29.90/ mo for Basic, $39.90 for Premium, and $79.90 for Agency.
GrowthBar is a Chrome extension that can help you perform keyword research, competitive analysis, and track SEO rankings. With the GrowthBar, access data points about any website directly from the search engine results pages. This allows you to assess your competitors’ performance and view the growth channels, keywords, backlinks, and ads that are working for them.
Here are some more key features of GrowthBar:
- Use the Top Keywords and Backlinks feature: See which paid and organic keywords are driving the most traffic for your website and get a list of the most authoritative backlinks pointing to your site.
- Get your Keyword Difficulty Score: Quickly assess how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword based on the strength of the domain authorities of the URLs ranking on page one.
- Use the Word Count tool: View the word count of any page directly from the SERP.
- Run Facebook Ads: Get a visual of what they look like from a search engine’s perspective.
- Use the Keyword Suggestions tool: Get a list of related keywords you might want to rank for along with their Search volume & CPCs.
Price: Free 14-day trial, $79.99/ mo for Pro, $199.99/ mo for Premium, or contact for Enterprise quote
Woorank’s in-depth site analysis helps marketers reveal opportunities for optimization and improvement. This analysis takes into account the performance of existing SEO initiatives, social media, usability, and more.
Each report is divided into sections to help you easily analyze your site and identify targets for optimization. Here are a few features of the report:
- Marketing Checklist: Review common marketing tasks that you can complete as part of your SEO strategy execution.
- SEO: Analyze your SEO metrics against your goals.
- Mobile: Decide which mobile optimization tactics to employ based on the mobile data.
- Social: Get insight into how social media is playing a part in your traffic and SEO goals.
Price: Free 30-day trial, $24/ mo for Starter, $124/ mo for Group, $299/ mo for Professional, $999+ for Custom
Although backlinks to your website are critical to ranking well on Google, the outreach you do while link building can feel a lot like cold calling. BuzzStream makes it easy to research the appropriate people, come up with effective email messages, and track who’s accepted each link request.
BuzzStream also helps you:
- Identify candidates for outreach: Find them based on their industry and how engaged they are across various social networks.
- Identify candidates for backlinks: These are individuals who will likely be receptive to your backlink request for other reasons that are unique to your business’s niche.
8. Moz Pro
Price: Free 30-day trial, $99/ mo for Standard, $149/ mo for Medium, $249/ mo for Large, $599/ mo for Premium
The Moz Pro subscription serves as an all-in-one tool for increasing your business’ search ranking. Moz’s collection of research tools provides subscribers with the resources they need to identify SEO opportunities, track growth, build reports, and optimize their efforts.
Moz Pro also includes:
- Website crawler: Analyzes up to 3,000 links on a given URL.
- Email report: Details that crawl data for the pages your site links to.
- Insight into various “crawlability” factors: These include duplicate content and redirects that could be influencing your SEO performance.
Price: 30-day free trial; $14.90/ mo for Webmaster, $24.90/ mo for Advanced, $49.90/ mo for Pro, 99.90/ mo for Agency, and $153.90 /mo for Agency XL
The best way to understand the performance of your off-page SEO is by having a good overview of your backlinks. Linkody allows you to discover, track, analyze, and disavow backlinks all from an easy-to-use interface.
Aside from that, the tool checks your links 24/7 and informs you of any changes so you can take immediate action in case a link is lost or broken.
Other Linkody features include:
- “Spy” on your competitors’ backlinks: Simply enter the URL of your competitor and let the tool pull all the links and metrics. The information returned will help you discover niche-relevant, high-quality backlink opportunities for your brand.
- Gain useful insights: See your most important metrics when it comes to backlink tracking, such as the ‘rel’ attribute, Google indexation status, the website’s Domain Authority, Spam Score, Alexa rank, and more.
- Create white-label reports: Download reports that can be shared with your team and/or clients to get a better idea of your backlink distribution and link-building progress.
Price: Free or €149/ year
Designed specifically for the SEO-minded, this program crawls the websites you specify, examining the URLs for common SEO issues. This program simplifies and expedites an otherwise time-consuming process — especially for larger websites. (It could take hours or days to manually evaluate the same URLs.)
Other notable features of Screaming Frog SEO Spider are:
- Java Program: Screaming Frog includes an intuitive Java program with easy-to-navigate tabs.
- Easy export to Excel: Further analyze your SEO data.
Price: $249 one-time payment for Life-Time plan, $99/ mo for Subscription (one website), or $899/ mo for Agency (10+ websites)
If you’re buying a website domain that has been used in the past, or you’re rebuilding a poor SEO strategy, you may discover some problematic backlinks while conducting your audit. Artificial or unnatural links have the potential to seriously hurt your search ranking. Remove’em helps get rid of those links.
This tool has the ability to:
- Scan your backlink profile: Discover a list of contact information for the links and domains you’ll need to reach out to for removal.
- Export a list of backlinks: If you wish, you can disavow backlinks by telling Google not to take these “bad” links into account when crawling your site.
Price: $99/ mo for Monthly plan, $79/ mo for Annual plan, $199/ mo for the Expert plan
AnswerThePublic is a search listening and keyword tool that listens to autocomplete data from Google and other search engines, and then provides you with a list of phrases and questions that people are searching for around your keyword. This allows you to craft your website and content to your audience to increase traffic and conversions.
With AnswerThePublic, you can also:
- Receive updates: See when people are talking about your most relevant keywords.
- Monitor keyword trends: Understand keyword research behavior among your target audience and customers.
- See real-time searches: View the keywords and phrases that your audience is researching in real-time.
- Get ideas for your website and blog: Discover new content ideas based on relevant keyword research.
13. Keyword Hero
Price: 14-day trial for any plan, Free for Little Hero, $9/ mo for Big Hero, $49/ mo for Giant Hero, and $149/ mo for Ultimate Hero
Keyword Hero pairs your visitor’s sessions with the keywords they used to land on your page, all within your Google Analytics account. In other words, this tool gives you an understanding of the search intent of your organic traffic.
Here are some more actions you can take with Keyword Hero:
- Identify the organic traffic and conversions: Uncover the success you receive from your intended keywords.
- Separate traffic: Identify brand versus non-brand search traffic.
- Optimize your position in the SERPs: Optimize your website for specific target keywords.
- See query details: Understand whether your visitors used informational versus transactional queries to find on your website.
Price: $39/ mo for Basic, $69/ mo for Professional, $129/ mo for Unlimited.
SpyFu is a competitor keyword research tool for Google Ads. In addition to keyword research, it helps with PPC competitive research, SEO competitive research, and the creation of custom lists and domains.
The tool helps you drive traffic to your Google Ads campaigns and website, monitor both paid and organic rankings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and obtain reliable and accurate contact information for leads.
With SpyFu, you can also:
- Download a competitor’s PPC keywords: Use this insight to develop more competitive PPC strategies that can compete in the ad space.
- Download a competitor’s SEO keywords: Use this insight to develop more competitive organic keyword strategies that can compete in the SERP.
- Review ranking trends: the ranking of a page or website for a keyword over time.
- Discover keyword ideas: Keyword advice for your Google Ads to increase chances of conversion.
Price: Pay as You Go (starting at $5), $19/ mo for Small Business, $49/ mo for Professional, $179/ mo for Unlimited.
Seomater is an SEO auditing and website crawling tool. It assists with technical SEO analysis and SEO on-page optimization testing. Once the tool crawls your site, you’ll receive an SEO report that explains your website’s various SEO-related elements including internal and external links, backlinks, page quality and speed, social media, organic presence, and more.
Your analysis will also come with tips on how you can improve each of these SEO elements. In addition, you can:
- Use the SEO Monitoring Alerts feature: Your website will be automatically crawled and you’ll get an immediate notification if something is problematic in terms of SEO.
- Get detailed reports: Find insights about your on-page and off-page SEO elements.
- Use the Domain Comparison tool: Compare two competitors’ websites to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their SEO (such as broken links, content quality, HTML tags, and more).
Price: $139/ mo for Basic, $319/ mo for Standard, $449/ mo for Pro, or $1,279 for Enterprise.
ContentKing is a real-time SEO auditing and content tracking tool — it tracks your website 24/7 so any issues related to SEO don’t go unnoticed for too long. The tool is cloud-based, meaning there’s no installation required and your data and reports are available whenever you need them.
With ContentKing, you can also:
- Improve your SEO: Use ContentKing’s 24/7 website audits (and algorithms) to gain insight into your SEO and receive tasks that will help you optimize your webpages.
- Get alerts: Get notified whenever something on your website is broken or is no longer well-optimized so you can efficiently fix the issue.
- Track Changes: Follow the history of all your content changes on your site (such as changes on individual web pages and changes in robots.txt) and search the history of your changes.
- Visualize data: See real-time dashboards and reports.
Now that you’ve learned about some of the best free and paid SEO tools on the market, determine which option will help you achieve your SEO goals and get started auditing, optimizing, and monitoring your website, individual web pages, and content.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
As an advertiser, you might want to learn more about growing online purchasing behaviors – and how you can leverage them in 2022.
Below, we’ll highlight what we learned from polling 300+ consumers after this Black Friday. Then, we’ll present a few consumer behavior predictions you’ll need to know about when determining your 2022 Black Friday ad strategy.
What We Learned About Black Friday Shoppers in 2021
To help marketers discover more about the consumer behaviors behind Black Friday’s 2021 results, I surveyed a pool of more than 300 people using Lucid Software. The goal was to learn what led them to engage with or purchase products in Black Friday ads.
Here’s what we learned from our results.
1. Social media was the leading driver for ad engagement.
With Black Friday deals comes an inundation of Black Friday ads throughout all forms of media. It’s no surprise that millions of people shopped on Black Friday – but which ad strategies actually led to purchases?
When I asked participants, “Did you engage with any online ads or promotions for Black Friday?” 56% said they engaged with one or more ads in some way, while only 26% said they ignored them.
We also found that social media was the number one place consumers engaged with ads, with 54% of consumers surveyed clicking on ads they saw on a social network.
Social media is a big revenue driver when it comes to Black Friday ads and the opportunities it offers continue to expand. Let’s take a look at Instagram for example.
You can discover a brand, scroll through their profile, see a product you like, and complete a purchase without ever leaving the platform.
With so many social media platforms offering ecommerce features, brands can attract shoppers at every stage of the buyer’s journey and consumers can experience a seamless shopping experience. It’s a win-win.
From an advertising perspective, this is a big indication that brands should be well prepared for social media ads as Black Friday approaches.
Instead of waiting for the week before Black Friday, where timelines are already flooded with ads, consider starting early and you may get better results.
That said, having an online presence beyond social media is also important. Our survey found that while most of the ads consumers clicked on came from social media, 23% clicked on ads they saw on brand websites and 22% on search engines.
With this in mind, it’s important to diversify your ad channels, as each has the potential to drive revenue.
2. Consumers showed interest in technology and electronic deals.
Aside from the ad’s location, the product or service advertised could have played a role in an audience’s level of engagement.
To get an idea of which products were most popular, I asked survey participants, “Which industries were you most interested in shopping?” 49% answered “Electronics and appliances.”
This mirrors data from SEMrush, which shows that the most popular and searched products include laptops, televisions, watches, headphones, video games, and cellphones.
Amazon reported that its top-selling items were also electronics: Apple Airpods, the Fire TV Stick, the Echo Dot, smart lightbulbs, and more.
This is great news for brands that fall within this industry, as Black Friday is a great opportunity to drive traffic to your products.
3. Consumers are shopping more online.
40% of Lucid survey respondents said they shopped exclusively online, with only 7% doing an even mix of online and in-person.
Although traffic at retail stores is up almost 50% from last year, it’s still not back to pre-pandemic numbers, according to a CNBC report.
Ecommerce brands are benefiting from this recent shift, with Shopify reporting a 21% increase in Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales year-over-year. Globally, the platform reached peak sales of $3.1 million per minute on Black Friday.
However, what data does suggest is that online ads can drive shoppers to head to stores in person. Fiffy-four percent of consumers surveyed on Lucid said that they visited a store to grab a deal they saw in an ad online.`
3 Predictions for Black Friday 2022
1. Brands with a strong social strategy will outperform those without one.
Our survey results and mounting research continues to show the growing importance of developing or constantly improving a web presence.
And as we mentioned, an online web presence might not just be a nice perk for your customers. It might result in ROI for your brand, especially on Black Friday.
Growing an online presence doesn’t have to be expensive and daunting.
For example, if you’re just dipping your toes into online marketing, you could start with free strategies like building a social media profile, launching a basic website, starting a marketing email, or creating a Google My Business for your store.
Then, once you’re comfortable, experiment with larger investments such as buying online ads.
The strategies above will allow people across the web to learn more about your brand, offerings, or services. These tactics could also make it easier for prospects to find you when they’re researching products or services in your industry.
2. Consumers will start shopping earlier.
In previous years, shoppers waited closer to Thanksgiving weekend to start shopping. This year, things are changing.
According to the National Retail Federation, this early shopping trend has been rising since 2011.
They report that most consumers (61%) started shopping as early as Halloween this year, almost a month before Black Friday. In fact, some completed roughly a third of their holiday shopping by the beginning of the month.
In addition, shoppers aren’t just waiting to stumble upon ads, nearly 48% of Lucid respondents surveyed said they actively searched for Black Friday deals and promotions.
For advertisers, this means launching ads early to reach consumers as they’re starting to shop for the holiday season.
3. Shoppers will be more intentional about where they spend.
In early 2021, Intuit ran a survey of over 1,000 Americans and found that 70% are supporting local businesses.
The survey also revealed that Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to support local businesses by only shopping online (45 percent).
This intentionality was also apparent during Black Friday 2021. Among the consumers surveyed in our Lucid poll, 63% said they either prioritized shopping from small or local brands or did a combination of small to large businesses.
5 Tips for Creating Effective Black Friday Ads
1. Plan (and launch) early.
This year, consumers started holiday shopping early.
We can’t predict with full accuracy what things will look like next year. So, in absence of knowledge, it’s better to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.
In other words, don’t start planning your promotion strategy in early November. You want to give your team enough time to plan an effective strategy that will reach your target audience at the right place and at the right time.
You’ll need enough time to craft a plan, develop the strategy, build the creative assets, and launch the campaign. You’ll also need to account for any obstacles you may encounter along the way.
2. Highlight how a service or product can solve for your customer.
Your ads should aim to educate ideal customers about your offerings, how they can help them, or why they might need them in their daily lives.
But, how do you convey that your offerings are valuable, important, or necessities when you don’t actually sell an essential product? Although it can take some creativity, it is possible to do this.
Above is an example of Twitter content from InfoArmor, an information security service owned by Allstate.
In the tweet, InfoArmor shared a blog post about the dangers of information security when working remotely and how InfoArmor could protect remote employee information.
3. Diversify your promotion channels.
We mentioned that social media is a huge revenue generator during Black Friday.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only channel you should leverage to attract shoppers. In fact, you should promote your ads across all channels to maximize your reach.
Have a newsletter? Share your offers there. You could also consider running a Google Ads campaign.
Regardless of which online platforms you embrace, be sure to create content that speaks to those customers, rather than just placing a basic ad on every website you can access.
By creating content that’s tailored to platforms your customers use, you’ll increase the likelihood of catching their eyes as they scroll through endless web pages, feeds, or email inboxes. And, once you grab their attention, you can use that content to highlight your value proposition in an entertaining or interesting way.
For example, if you’re creating an ad for Instagram, it might be tempting to just use a picture of the ad you made for a website or newspaper on with a basic caption.
But, that might not be engaging for people scrolling through their feeds looking for valuable product information or entertaining content. Instead, consider creating a short marketing video or a series of photos of customers with your product to better engage this audience.
Below is a great example of a Black Friday post that could also work well as an ad on Instagram. The post shows a video demo of someone from Hair Vivi putting on one of the brand’s wigs.
While the video shows viewers how easy it is to put on the wig, the caption also highlights the product’s value and the company’s Black Friday deals.
4. Present deals, sales, or affordable offers.
Aside from aiming to buy products with the best value, budget-conscious shoppers will also be looking for the best deals this holiday season.
If you can offer a deal or sale on your product or offering, embrace that information in your advertising.
Here’s a great ad from Walmart that highlights all the online deals they’ll be offering this year:
Along with the ad highlighting a bunch of great deals and alternatives for Black Friday in-person sales, the ad is also interesting because it’s interactive online but formatted so it can also work as a static print ad if needed.
Aside from the ad above, Walmart has created content with a similar aesthetic and deal-oriented message for social media platforms like Facebook. Here’s a screenshot of featured content on its Facebook Business page.
5. Embrace video marketing.
In our 2021 State of Marketing Report, we found that video is the leading form of marketing content used across industries. And, with Gen-Z and millennials embracing video more than ever for product discovery, this format becomes more of a low-hanging fruit each year.
If you think video marketing is only for big brands, think again.
In the last year, we’ve seen all sorts of small and large brands affordably embrace video to attract and nurture leads.
Here’s one great example of a startup demo video created by Beauty Bakerie.
While the content allows viewers to see what the products will look like in real life, Cashmere, the brand’s CEO – Cashmere Nicole Carillo – gives instructions on how to use it so they’ll also know just how easy it is to add to their daily beauty routine.
Every Black Friday is an opportunity to learn more about your target audience. Pay attention to what works, what doesn’t, and look out for trends that will help you improve your ad strategy.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in December 2019 but was updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.
Today, marketing is all about personalization.It’s about reaching the right people in the right place at the right time. Account-based marketing (ABM) is no different — it’s a strategy that’s been growing in popularity in recent years. In fact, 94.3% of respondents to a 2020 State of ABM survey use an ABM strategy.
That’s why ABM is an important strategy to implement if you sell high-value B2B products or services to a finite number of companies with several decision makers. Using ABM automation tools is the key to scaling these efforts.
Here, we’ll show you exactly how to automate your account-based marketing strategy using ABM automation tools.
1. Scalable Acquisition Strategy
We know that anytime a process is automated, it’s scalable. When ABM strategies are automated, bandwidth on your marketing team becomes available. Your team can spend more time nurturing the accounts they’re responsible for and personalizing the sales cycle for the decision makers within the account. That way, new business can be acquired without the limitations of manually nurturing each account.
2. Shorter Sales Cycle
Consider this: When your sales reps have just a few accounts to target to close deals, they can become more selective about who moves through the sales cycle and when. When a specific marketing tactic works to generate leads in a particular account, the sales rep can shift their focus to that deal. ABM automation benefits sales reps by incentivizing them to work efficiently to close deals which leads to shorter sales cycles.
3. Better Marketing and Sales Alignment
For far too many marketing and sales teams, alignment between the two seems to be a goal instead of reality. An automated account based marketing strategy causes and requires alignment between these two business functions in order to close deals.
The marketing team is responsible for creating sales enablement content while the sales team is responsible for cultivating the relationships and closing deals. Without both of these parts of the puzzle working together, the ABM strategy would fail. Automating the strategy by producing content at scale and tracking accounts through the sales process using ABM automation tools like RollWorks keeps both teams aligned and achieving their goals.
4. Stronger Customer Retention
Leveraging personalized marketing and sales materials for each account is a fundamental tactic used in account based marketing. But that can be difficult to maintain if your team is doing this manually. Eventually, the personalized materials transform into more general content and the relationship between your business and the account fizzles out.
With ABM automation, this doesn’t have to be the case. Automating emails and direct mail campaigns (just to name a few) throughout the account’s life cycle can strengthen the relationship, yielding improved customer retention and satisfaction.
1. Create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Before you can get started with ABM, you’ll need to define your ideal customer profile. This is similar to a buyer persona, except it’s built around targeting entire organizations rather than individuals.
You’ll want to know what types of companies you want to target. For example, your ICP should include information on company size, revenue, industry, and location.
With software, like HubSpot’s ABM software, you can use ICP workflow templates to help you spot common traits that can be used to classify companies in your database by how well they match your ICP.
Ultimately, automation should help you identify and organize your target accounts. Once you’ve created your ICP, you should be able to use this information in your ABM software to manage your audience.
2. Set up your target accounts.
Once you’ve created your ICP, you should be able to set up your target accounts in your ABM software.
Tagging “Target accounts” in your software will enable you to manage your audience from a Target Accounts dashboard. For example, with HubSpot’s ABM software, you can tag accounts as target accounts and then rank them with the ICP Tier property. Your priority accounts will be marked “Tier 1,” while lower priority accounts will be marked “Tier 3.”
Additionally, a great ABM software will use AI-powered target account recommendations to automate the process of researching companies that are a good fit.
These types of tools will help you manage and then segment your lists so you can deliver personalized content to your target accounts.
3. Integrate your ABM, marketing automation software, and CRM.
Before you can build your ABM campaigns, you’ll want to integrate your ABM software with your marketing automation software and your CRM.
For example, with HubSpot, you can use many of the ABM software features if you have Marketing or Sales Pro.
Integrating your marketing tools is important in the automation process. If your ABM software doesn’t interact with your email marketing software or your ads tools, then you won’t be able to automate the process.
Additionally, if it doesn’t interact with your CRM, it’ll be impossible to know if leads become accounts and track the ROI of an account-based campaign.
By integrating these tools, you’ll have your ICP research, target accounts, content, and CRM all in one place.
4. Build your campaigns.
When you have your ABM software and marketing tools set up, it’s time to create your campaigns.
To start, you’ll want to decide what channels you want to use and what actions will trigger an automated workflow.
First, look at your target accounts and find out where they spend their time online. For example, you can build an ad campaign based on people’s job titles or companies on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Then, you’ll want to think about your customer journey and set up automated workflows. For instance, you can have a task created for a sales rep when someone who works at one of your target accounts interacts with an email, your website, or blog content.
5. Personalize your content.
You probably got started with ABM so you could personalize your marketing campaigns. To do this, you’ll want to create your content, and use your automation tools to segment your audience.
For example, with HubSpot’s ABM software, you can use company lists to create an ad audience or use company ad targeting for your LinkedIn ads.
With your ICP set up, you can create your content based on your target audience. The content in your ABM campaigns will be similar to other marketing content, except that you’re now targeting specific accounts and companies.
Ultimately, your messaging should address specific pain points, and appeal to solving your target account’s problems.
6. Tailor your engagement.
Another aspect of your ABM strategy will be collaborating with your sales team so they can tailor their engagement with target accounts.
A great way to do this is through automation tools. That’s why your CRM and ABM software need to work together.
For example, with HubSpot’s ABM software and Sales Hub, you can automate your follow up emails and tasks based on the prospect’s behavior.
However, remember that even though you’re focusing on automation right now, your sales outreach and content should still be personalized.
7. Set up a dashboard to assess ongoing efforts.
The last step to automating your ABM strategy is to track and measure your efforts. With ABM software, you’ll want to see information at-a-glance.
For instance, on your dashboard, you might include information on your target accounts such as company score, open deals, total pipeline, and the number of decision-makers identified.
If your ABM software has company scoring available, you should use it. This is similar to lead scoring, where you assign a score based on the properties in your software.
Additionally, you should consider running A/B tests when you get started with ABM automation so you can see what messaging appeals to your ICP.
While ABM does require thoughtful planning and coordination, using ABM software tools — ideally ones that integrate with your CRM and marketing automation tools — can help you automate and scale your strategy.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
It’s no secret that business opportunities are continuing to grow on Instagram. Approximately 90% of Instagram’s 1 billion active monthly users follow a business account on the platform, and there are more than 200 million business accounts.
But here’s the deal: Unless you’re famous, it’s really hard to amass a huge following on Instagram without some hard work.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do right away to collect at least 1,000 quality followers for your personal or professional Instagram account. It’s all about knowing where to invest your time and effort.
In this post, we’ll discuss a few strategies that will help you gain those followers, from creating a follow-worthy Instagram profile to using contests, to staying true to your brand.
1. Create and optimize your profile.
First thing’s first: Customize your Instagram profile to make it look good. Tell your potential followers who you are, and give them a reason to follow you.
How? Start by making sure your username is recognizable and easily searchable – like your business name.
If your business name is already taken, try keeping your business name as the first part of your username so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across you. For example, the Australian activewear line Lorna Jane uses the username @lornajaneactive.
Setting Up Your Account
Step 1. Add your full business name to the “Name” field in the “Options” section. To find “Options,” tap the three lines in the top right corner of the iOS app, followed by “Settings” which will appear at the bottom of the screen next to a gear. If you’re on Android, tap the three dots in the corner. Your business or name will appear under your profile picture and your username in search.
Step 2. Make your profile public. To make your profile public, open Instagram, open “Options,” and make sure “Private Account” is turned off.
Step 3. Choose a profile picture that’s on-brand with your other social networks, like your company logo.
Step 4. Fill your bio with delightful, actionable, and informative information about your brand. Information like this lets people know what you’re about and gives them a reason to follow you. Include who you are and what you do, and be sure to add a hint of personality.
Here are a few examples for inspiration:
- @cheekbonebeauty: “Less waste. Ethical and safe ingredients.”
- @Oreo: “Playful moments from your favorite cookie.”
- @mrsbrittanyhennessy: “Helping Influencers go beyond #sponcon and create sustainable businesses.”
- @CalifiaFarms: “Something different, something better. Let us show you what plants can do.”
- @coragedolls: “Elevating, educating, & encouraging girls of color to be unstoppable with dolls that finally look like her.”
Step 5. Add a link tree to your bio to make it easy for people to go straight from Instagram to your other platforms if they want to. The space allotted for URLs is precious real estate. When you receive 10,000 followers, you can add links to your Instagram Stories.
Until then, your bio is the only place within Instagram where you can place clickable links, so use it wisely. We recommend using a shortened, customized Bitly link to make it more clickable.
Step 6. Enable notifications so you can see when people share or comment on your photos. This’ll let you engage with them more quickly – just like a lot of companies do on Twitter. To enable notifications, go to “Options” and then “Push Notification Settings.” Select “From Everyone” for every category.
A word to the wise: We don’t recommend you link your Instagram account to Twitter and Facebook (or other social media platforms) for automatic posts. Because every platform caters to a different audience and requires different types of posts.
2. Designate a content creator.
Just like there should be one (maybe two) people managing your other social media accounts, there should only be one or two people managing your Instagram account.
If possible, choose someone with experience on the platform who will “get” it — and be sure they stay updated on all new features Instagram has to offer from Reels to IGTV.
If you work for a large organization, you might find that a lot of people want a say in what’s posted. That’s when an organized request or guidelines document comes in handy.
This document should inform people how to request a post on your Instagram account, when, the value of the post, and why.
3. Follow photography and editing best practices.
On Instagram, post quality matters. A lot. Your Twitter followers might forgive a few bad tweets, but a bad photo on Instagram is a big no-no.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take a photography course to be a good Instagram poster — nor do you have to practice for weeks before you start. But you should get familiar with basic photography tips and photo editing apps.
Photography Best Practices
Since Instagram is a mobile app, chances are, some content you post to Instagram will be taken on your mobile device. That’s expected.
If your budget allows, consider investing in professional photography for your Instagram photos, as that will elevate your profile. Otherwise, a smartphone and a few editing apps will do.
- Focus on one subject at a time.
- Embrace negative space.
- Find interesting perspectives.
- Look for symmetry.
- Capture small details.
- Make your followers laugh.
Edit photos before you post.
Instagram has some basic editing capabilities, but oftentimes, they aren’t adequate to make visuals really great.
Most of your photos should go through at least one or two photo editing apps on your mobile phone before you open them on Instagram.
4. Set a regular posting schedule.
Once you’ve created and optimized your profile, have someone managing it, and have your creative assets ready, it’s time to start posting.
It’s a good idea to have a solid number of great posts up – maybe 15 or so – before you start engaging people and working down this list. That way, when people visit your profile, they’ll see a full screen of photos and will know you’ll post great content regularly.
To start posting on Instagram, download this social media content calendar template first and plan out your posts. It’s best to build a backlog of content ready a few days or weeks ahead of the publishing date.
This will ensure you always have content during holidays, vacations, and even creative blocks.
Keep your target persona in mind as you plan out your posting schedule, as that can drastically impact your posting timing and frequency – especially if you’re targeting an audience in a different time zone. (Download this free template for creating buyer personas if you don’t have a few already.)
Optimizing your schedule for your specific audience might take time and experimentation.
Experiment with these times and days to see what works with your audience. You may find that your target users are most active and engaged at different times.
5. Allow outside contributors to curate your content.
Although it’s best to have only one or two people manning your account, one or two people can’t be everywhere at once taking photos. What about that fun sushi night the engineers had last night? Or the event your head of sales spoke at earlier this week?
There’s a whole breadth of content you’ll want to post to Instagram, and more often than not, one person won’t be able to keep track of it all.
One solution? Create a system where you can curate photos and content from members of your team.
There are a few ways to do this. The first option is to create a specific email address for employees to send their photos, short videos, memes, hyper-lapses, and so on.
Encourage people to add a descriptive subject line so you can easily sort through the content they’re sending. While this doesn’t seem like the smoothest way to curate photos, it’s actually the easiest for the people sending you photos — and the easier you can make it for them to send content, the more content you’ll get.
If your team shares a Box or Dropbox account, you could also create a shared folder where people can automatically drop their photos and videos.
6. Use a consistent, platform-specific brand voice.
Photos and videos might be the most important part of your Instagram posts, but captions, comments, and other text should never be an afterthought. If you’re managing a channel for a brand or have more than one Instagram manager, consider developing a consistent voice that humanizes your brand.
This shows potential followers that you are credible and relatable, rather than formal or intimidating.
When developing a voice, you should keep the platform and your audience in mind.
For example, many influencers and prominent accounts on Instagram have a very casual voice and style but remain professional and on-brand. Once you’ve got your voice down, make sure it stays consistent and natural in your captions, comments, messages, and your bio.
7. Write engaging, shareable captions.
Captions are an essential part of your post — the icing on the cake if you will. Consistently great captions can do wonders for humanizing your brand, winning over followers, and making your content more shareable — thereby giving you more exposure.
Here are a few things you might see in a winning Instagram caption:
- Clever or witty comments
- Calls to action
- Relevant emojis
More on that below.
Clever or Witty Comments
Some brands and influencers have used clever or witty captions, or even audience-appropriate jokes to further humanize themselves on Instagram.
“They have such a clear brand voice, and you laugh along with them. They’re in on the joke, just like one of your friends,” she says.
Netflix’s voice is casual, trendy, and humorous while still staying on brand.
In the post above, the caption is funny, authentic, and relatable. Who hasn’t flipped through a friend’s Instagram Story with the hope that you’ll be featured?
Calls to Action
Another way to increase the shareability of your caption and engage your followers is to ask questions or have some sort of call-to-action in the captions of your photos.
For example, you might write, “Double-tap if you find this funny,” or “share your story in the comments.”
In the example below, we asked followers of the @HubSpot Instagram account to leave a comment with a book that’s had a positive impact on their work, along with tagging the author:
Adding just a few relevant emojis can add even more personality to your posts. It could also make them even more noticeable on an Instagram feed. In the post below, Danielle Gray, a beauty expert with over 50K followers, (@Stylenbeautydoc) includes witty text with relevant emojis to make the post pop.
Along with the three items listed above, you’ll also want to include hashtags.
8. Optimize posts with relevant hashtags.
On Instagram, a hashtag ties conversations from different users who wouldn’t already be connected into a single stream. If you use relevant hashtags, your posts will gain exposure to a wider audience and help you become discoverable to potential customers.
The key to using hashtags effectively is to be selective and use them sparingly. Try to limit the number of hashtags per caption to around three. Similarly, don’t use “like for like” hashtags, like #like4like or #like4likes.
This is a shortcut tactic that’ll only leave you with low-quality followers.
To find the hashtags your audience might be using, do a little research on relevant hashtags in your niche or industry. The easiest way to do this research is in the Instagram app itself, in the Explore tab (i.e., the magnifying glass icon).
When you search for one hashtag, it’ll show you a list of related hashtags at the top of your screen.
For example, when I search for #digitalmarketingstrategy on Instagram, it shows me relevant hashtags like #digitalmarketingexpert, #digitalmarketing, and so on.
To help relate to your followers on a personal level, you might consider hopping on hashtag trends like #tbt (“Throwback Thursday”), #MotivationMonday, #TransformationTuesday, or other trending hashtags. Here’s a post from @fanmdjanm, a headwrap collection and lifestyle brand with over 150K followers on its Instagram account, using the #HappyMothersDay hashtag:
Once you build up a bit of a following, you can try creating your own hashtags — like your company name or a slogan that applies to your content. This is a great way to build up your brand on the platform and build a more cohesive presence.
9. Lean in to trending content formats.
With the arrival of TikTok on the social media scene, short-form videos have become one of the most effective content formats on social media.
In fact, according to a HubSpot Blog survey, 85% of marketers who use short-form videos find them to be the most effective content format. And 95% of marketers who leverage short-form videos plan to increase their investment or continue investing the same amount in 2022.
That’s why it’s important to lean in to trending content formats. After TikTok, Instagram came out with IG Reels, and this feature is a great way to post funny, relatable content.
When Instagram comes out with new tools, like IG Reels, don’t be afraid to use those features because they can help you gain Instagram followers.
10. Post content your followers want to see.
To gain your first 1,000 followers on Instagram, it’s important to know who your audience is. Once you’ve created your Instagram account, you should take note of which posts perform best.
Is it interactive content, behind-the-scenes stories, funny and relatable posts, or something else? When you have a general idea of what performs best, continue to create that type of content.
Additionally, Instagram has many tools and features you can use: IGTV, IG Reels, Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, Highlights, etc. Begin by posting several types of content formats and see which one does best. Then, come up with a strategy and master that one tool. Doing so will help you create content your followers want to see and gain new followers.
11. Promote your Instagram.
Like the old adage about a tree falling in a forest, if you start an Instagram account without promoting it, is the account even real yet? Well, yes. But, you’ll have fewer followers.
One of the best ways to gain followers on Instagram is to promote your account. Embed posts in your blogs (like you see a few on this post), post on your other social media platforms, and share social links in your email newsletters. A great way to gain followers on one platform is to ask current followers on other platforms if they want to follow you somewhere else as well.
Additionally, to promote your Instagram, it’s important to get started with Instagram promotions and ads. This will help you reach a wider audience. I know it might seem like ads are only effective for selling certain products, but I’ve followed several business accounts because of a sponsored post I saw.
1. Engage with users through follows, likes, and comments.
Instagram is very much a community, and one great way to get involved in that community is to find people who post pictures that interest you, and follow their accounts and interact with their content. It’s the most natural way to draw attention to your own Instagram account.
This accomplishes two things: for one, when they get the notification that you’ve followed them, there’s a good chance they’ll check out your profile. This goes back to the importance of having great content on your account before you start reaching out to others.
Secondly, it means you’ll be seeing their recent posts in your feed, so you can Like and interact with them if you choose to.
As you build a following, celebrate your followers by responding to and pinning their comments, and even reposting their posts for user-generated content.
2. Cross-promote with influencers and brands with similar audiences.
Once you build rapport with the folks behind accounts with similar audiences to your own, consider collaborating with them.
Partnering with influencers and brands helps with discoverability, reach, and social proof.
With this partnership, both accounts can expand their reach and gain new followers. It’s a win-win. However, be sure to create content that seems natural and makes sense for your brands and collective audience.
3. Run Instagram contests to encourage engagement.
Another great way to expand your reach while increasing engagement with your photos is to run a contest or giveaway. As part of your contest, you can ask users to follow your account, like, and/or comment on the post to be eligible to win.
I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love winning free stuff?
You can also add a user-generated content (UGC) element to the contest, too, where people post a photo of their own and use a specific hashtag.
Here’s an example from @PlayaBowlsNortheastern, where followers were asked to follow Playa Bowls as well as their brand partner, Scoop and Sushi, and tag a friend in the comments. In exchange, followers had the chance to win a free bowl:
4. Explore Instagram Stories’ interactive features.
Instagram has always given brands the platform to share beautiful, curated photos to represent their companies.
However, with the introduction of ephemeral Instagram Stories, brands can also share on-the-fly, behind-the-scenes looks for 24 hours that may not be as polished as a published photo, but give your brand more personality on the platform.
Just look at how Snapchat exploded a few years ago. Once platforms like Instagram and Facebook introduced similar features, it made those apps more valuable and interesting in the eyes of users. Although Snapchat pioneered this feature, Instagram Stories now has over 500 million daily users.
Along with sharing video clips and static images through Instagram Stories, users can also use polls, event reminders, and the “Ask a Question,” tool to gain more engagement and learn more about their audiences.
Once a user is verified or has over 10,000 followers, they can even include a link to a webpage within a story.
How Brands Can Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours unless they are marked as a “Story Highlight.”
Highlighted stories will show up at the top of your profile between the photo feed and your bio.
Here are a few other brands we recommend following to see what they’re sharing:
Dana Shultz (@miniamlistbaker) publishes easy vegan and gluten-free recipes on her blog. Her Stories feature neat how-to videos of her making breakfast and testing out new recipes in her kitchen. The behind-the-scenes aspect of her Stories provides a lot of human context for her blog’s brand, and everybody loves a good how-to video.
Casper (@casper) publishes quirky Instagram content to advertise their mattresses – without overtly doing so. The main theme of their content? Staying in is better than going out (because you can stay in and lay on a comfy Casper mattress, naturally).
They’ve even created a gallery for followers to use as backdrops for their Snapchat and Instagram stories to make it look like they’re out at a party when in reality, they’re laying in bed.
One of their latest Instagram Stories featured someone watching “The Sopranos” in bed, with the caption: “Who needs plans when you have five more seasons?”
This video supports Casper’s campaign to stay in bed with a very real look at what millions of people do when they’re hanging out at home.
Here are our tips for using Instagram Stories for your brand:
- Whether it’s funny, sad, or unique, be authentic. Your photo gallery is where content can be perfect and polished. Instagram Stories are for the raw, unscripted, and unretouched. Use Stories to share the other side of your brand that followers might not be able to see elsewhere. Do you have a dog-friendly office? Is your team trying out the latest challenge? Start filming to showcase the more human side of your brand.
- Go behind the scenes. These are by far our favorite types of content for ephemeral video sharing. Show followers what goes into the planning of an event or the launching of a product, and make it fun. Your followers want to feel included and in the know. You could also use Stories to cultivate a brand loyalty program that only rewards people who check out your content.
5. Use the Live Video feature.
Instagram also lets users record and share live videos, another content format that’s proven to be hugely popular on other social networks. What’s unique about live videos on Instagram? They disappear when users stop filming.
This authentic, bi-directional experience lets brands share unscripted, raw moments with their audience to incorporate human elements into a social media platform that’s highly edited and polished in its traditional use.
Since the Live feature launched, Instagram has added even more features that may enable further engagement or interactions from viewers, such as:
- Request feature to go live with the live account
- Pinned comment
- Q&A box
- Up to four accounts on Live at a time
Live video is a growing trend across a variety of social media platforms, so if something interesting is happening, start rolling. Whether it’s an event, a team birthday party, or behind-the-scenes footage, your devoted followers want to see what you’re up to.
6. Share your profile link on your website and social media channels.
Have a website? Newsletter? YouTube channel? Make sure you include a link to your Instagram on every single platform.
The first place you’ll want to make sure to add an Instagram badge is your website, specifically your footer and “About Us” page.
Here’s what the badge could look like:
If your brand has brick-and-mortar locations, put out a good ol’ print call-to-action letting people know you have an Instagram account and encouraging them to follow you. You can also place them on your business cards. You might even offer a discount code for doing so.
Also, be sure to promote your Instagram account on your other digital platforms. Chances are, the folks who already follow you on Facebook and Twitter will also follow you on Instagram without much prodding.
Let those followers know you’re on Instagram and encourage them to follow you there.
In this example, wine company The McBride Sisters encouraged their email subscribers to follow them on Instagram with a simple CTA: “Join the community.”
7. Post user-generated content.
Similar to cross-promotion, brands can publish user-generated content to show appreciation for existing customers and generate social proof at the same time.
If I see a regular person endorsing a product on Instagram, I’m more likely to believe they really like the product.
The same is true for most consumers. That’s why sites like Yelp are so popular.
Ultimately, user-generated content can be an excellent strategy when trying to increase brand awareness and trust in your products or services.
Posting Scott using Bevel is a smart move.
Firstly, the product is designed with black men in mind. Having Scott, who is part of the brand’s target demographic, recommend the product serves as the social proof the brand wants.
Furthermore, part of Scott’s audience will likely fall within Bevel’s target audience. Simply put, the two brands have similar audiences and brands that align well, which is why it’s a good opportunity for Bevel to promote Scott’s content.
8. Diversify your audience to resonate with different types of users.
As your followers grow, it can be tricky to identify what content types will resonate with them. With this in mind, divide your audience into sub-groups and target your content to various demographics.
For instance, if you have 200K followers, those followers probably come from different regions of the world, have different interests and hobbies, and likely different careers. Rather than post all-encompassing content that will satisfy all your followers at once, conduct some analytics research to separate them into smaller sub-groups.
Take Starbucks as a good example of this. @Starbucks has close to 18 million followers. There’s no way the global coffee brand can post content to satisfy 18 million people at once — and it doesn’t try to.
Instead, Starbucks regularly posts more exclusive content geared towards particular groups, such as this post they published celebrating #TeacherAppreciationWeek:
This post won’t appeal to the majority of Starbucks followers who aren’t teachers, but that’s OK.
You don’t always need to post content to please everyone. Instead, demonstrate your company’s ability to connect and engage with sub-groups and post what aligns with your own brand’s values.
Education is something that matters to Starbucks, so by posting about teachers, they’re doing more to demonstrate their values than they are appealing to everyone. Which is kind of the point, isn’t it?
9. Apply for a verification badge.
When an account on Instagram is verified, it has a blue dot, called a badge, next to the username. When another user comes across this profile or finds the verified username in search, the blue dot confirms to them that the account is the business, individual, or brand that it’s claiming to be.
While Instagram has a list of eligibility requirements for the badge, the platform does allow users to apply for one. You can learn more about that process on Instagram’s Help Center.
10. Create your own filters and badges.
When it’s time to promote a new product or feature, creating your own filters, stickers, or badges can help you reach a new audience. You can learn how to create your own filter or sticker to jazz up your Instagram Stories.
The best way to do this is to use these on highly shareable posts that followers will want to add to their own Stories. This way, you’ll reach their audiences and your users will promote your page for you.
11. Tag relevant users.
Another way to gain more followers on Instagram is to tag relevant users in your posts. Your posts will then show up in that person’s tagged posts, and anyone who looks through there will find your page (and hopefully, follow).
However, it’s important that you only tag people who are in the photo, or relevant to the photo. For example, many times, influencers tag the clothing or makeup brands they wore in a photo.
12. Post content that’s meant to be re-shared.
Each post on your Instagram should have a purpose. It could be to generate likes, comments, engagement, shares, etc. However, you can’t expect followers to re-share content just for the heck of it. There needs to be a reason.
Because of this, reverse engineer your Instagram posts. Think, “What type of content would my audience re-share?” Then, create that content. It could be a quote, a meme, an infographic, statistics, etc.
To gain new followers, you should post content that’s meant to be re-shared, so that when others do re-share it on their own Instagram Stories and tag you, their audience will find you and follow you.
13. Collaborate on Instagram Live.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, while everyone was at home, a great way to stay connected was through Instagram Live. Many businesses and influencers took to the platform to host talk shows with interesting people their audience liked.
For your brand, you could collaborate with an influencer or another brand to host a Live. With people that your audience is interested in, you can promote this Live event, and then host it on your profile.
Promoting this type of event will help you tap into someone else’s audience while interacting and engaging with your followers by answering their questions and talking to them during the Live.
14. Get on the Instagram Explore page.
Getting on the Instagram Explore page is easier said than done. We get that. However, creating posts that are aimed at getting on the Explore page means you’ll be creating easily shareable and trendy content.
Think about viral trends and create a video that your audience might engage with. Additionally, use hashtags and tag other users and brands in those posts.
Instagram’s Explore Page algorithm also seems to grab content that has more engagement, especially if said engagement happens in the first few hours of posting. In Instagram’s case, quality is better than quantity, and getting interaction from influential users (i.e. having a higher follower count) is one of the best ways to do it.
15. Create educational content with Instagram slides.
Similar to creating content that’s meant to be re-shared, you can also create educational content in the form of Instagram slides. Instagram slides have become a popular way to educate audiences on an idea or topic.
Think about what you can educate your audience on and then create a simple Instagram slide post with an engaging title, that entices users to click on the post.
With this type of content, you can share the post on your Stories, and then hopefully other users will be compelled by the content to share on their Stories as well.
16. Host an Instagram account takeover.
When you’re collaborating with influencers and other brands, think about hosting an Instagram account takeover. You can have an influencer take over your Stories for the day, and promote this on their own Stories.
Then, you’ll get their followers to follow along with the Stories and hopefully follow your account.
Additionally, you can ask an influencer or brand if you can take over their Stories, and interact with their audience as a way to promote your own account.
Quality Over Quantity Still Matters
Ultimately, it’s important to focus less on the number of followers you have, and more on the quality of content you create. Your audience will grow naturally if you put effort and time into creating engaging, informative, or inspirational content without worrying about “quick fixes” for boosts in followers.
Plus, if you think about it, your followers don’t continue to follow you because of the size of your audience. They continue to follow you because of the content you create.
Sure, maybe I’ve initially followed an influencer because she had 200K followers, which signified to me that she was worth following — otherwise, why would 200K people be looking at her content?
But that doesn’t mean I’ve continued to follow influencers and brands because of the size of their audience. I’ve unfollowed plenty of mega-influencers or brands with thousands — if not millions — of followers, simply because I was no longer impressed with their posts.
You want to play the long game on Instagram, and that starts with focusing on what you can control: the quality of the content you produce, the messages you promote, and the brand you build.
Ironically, I’m willing to bet the less you worry about the number of followers you have, the more community members you’ll attract.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Want to capture more conversions and engage more leads? You’ll want to get personal. But how can marketers make this personalized approach work for their brands?According to The State of Personalization Report 2021 by Twilio, businesses are struggling to make the best use of this new paradigm: While 85% of companies believe they’re offering personalized experiences, just 60% of consumers agree. To help your brand bridge the gap, we’ve analyzed the report to discover just how personalization is changing marketing — and what it means for your business.
60 Ways Personalization is Changing Marketing
- Customization is not personalization. Customization is explicit, while personalization is implicit.
- There is a growing willingness among consumers to trade information for a personalized experience.
- IP recognition software will provide an experience that is dynamically constructed for individual users.
- You can achieve intent-driven personalization by understanding what people engage with on your site.
- Never forget that no matter how much technology changes, the key to great marketing is having an in-depth understanding of users.
- Personalization is the next wave of the communal public user experience.
- Delivering personalized messages to specific audiences at the right time is the holy grail of marketing.
- The future of marketing is in making websites, products, or experiences personal in a deeply meaningful way.
- The personalization of search results offers an opportunity to increase your visibility for really relevant searches.
- The social, gesture, and location aspects of personalization are the key elements driving online advertising.
- The potential to engage customers contextually based on a need and serve that in real-time will drive mobile devices as they become payment vehicles.
- The advent of newer technologies, social networking, and database profiling offers the ability to help people find what they need and serve them what they desire.
- Personalization has moved beyond segmentation to algorithmically-driven content.
- People want to share what they do and information about themselves if you give them the chance to do it.
- Personalization is about leveraging what you can from individuals when they come to your inbound customer touch-points.
- Don’t think about the different groups you want to market to. Think about the power of one and how to reach that person in the most customized and creative way.
- There are three pillars of personalization: real-time, what is hot, and local.
- Use personalization and customization of landing pages to drive better conversion rates.
- The three-step approach to personalization is: listen, educate, engage.
- Think in terms of customer-centric recommendation engines rather than company-centric selling engines.
- There is a growing need for social media managers to pivot their strategies to connect with consumers.
- The future of personalization will reward publishers that provide better content.
- Personalization is about creating a natural process of conversation between companies and customers.
- Use personalization to give customers a great experience.
- Personalization is not just an opportunity but is a part of a set of broad, very profound societal changes where there is a trade-off between privacy and personalization.
- The three keys to balancing personalization and privacy are company transparency, consumer choice, accountability for those choices.
- With personalized ads, the goal is to reach the highest point of relevance for the lowest sense of intrusion.
- For personalization to work, you want to gain your customer’s trust and not abuse it.
- Engage your customers and prospects without violating their privacy rights.
- Use the available technology to make sure you touch your customers in the right way at the right time with the right information.
- GDPR is changing the way marketers can track and target consumers with personalized ads.
- Privacy is not the issue. It’s about the value proposition we give to consumers.
- The key to personalization is not algorithms or automation. The key is to work your butt off. To personalize, you need to put in the effort.
- Worry less about technology and focus on human emotions and what turns people on.
- Go beyond what your product can do for your customers and focus on what your product says about them.
- The three Ms to successful personalization: motivation, message, and media.
- To get a shot at your customers’ pocketbooks, first capture their imagination by getting them into a dialogue.
- Personalization convinces consumers that they are buying things thinking it’s their idea when, in fact, it’s not.
- Marketers can get too focused on the details and forget to focus on the most important aspect: relevancy.
- Filling your channel with content is going to personalize that relationship between the brand and the consumer.
- Personalization comes to life by delivering relevant and compelling experiences to the end-user.
- Business is personal. It takes time to build trust but less to establish likeability, which is the first step towards long-term partnerships.
- The challenge is to create an emotional and psychological contract with your customers that separates you from everybody else.
- Get rid of the scripts. Create a Personal Emotional Connection (PEC) by encouraging reps to be themselves and have their personalities connect with customers’ personalities.
- Treat your customers like VIPs at every touch-point.
- Customers now expect your business to use their personalized information to offer better service.
- Get personal with your prospects and customers, but don’t get creepy by using all the information you have when communicating with your customers.
- Personalized marketing is not just for customers and prospects. It can affect change within an organization.
- To increase the value of the customer experience, remember to answer the question “why” and personalize the experience around that answer.
- One-to-one marketing is all about personalization; less mass communication and more mass customization.
- In face-to-face marketing, body language is the key. In online marketing, the key is taking note of the digital body language of your web visitors and customers.
- Mass personal relevance allows you to target individual offers tailored by data and driven by customer input.
- With customer behavior changed by the recent economic downturn, sales are now dependent on how a retailer or brand can communicate its relevance to the customer.
- Personalization is about engaging customers using technology in ways that mimic how we would do it if we were face to face.
- For mobile, location-based marketing and location-based services are going to be very important for companies trying to reach consumers.
- After search box and site navigation, product recommendations are the third key method that consumers use to navigate a retail site.
- The trend is for consumers to click on relevant ads only, and personalization platforms are helping to drive this trend.
- We’ve moved from opt-in, permission-based, and customized address fields in personalization to online relevant conversations that engage and excite.
- The long-term effect of personalization where everyone becomes their own brand is that personal expertise will be an asset that can be traded for currency.
- The company of the future takes all of its disparate information and unifies it because that is what everything else is based on.
As personalization becomes commonplace, what shifts can marketing teams expect in customer and conversion outcomes? Here are eight ways this new paradigm is changing the game.
1. Omnichannel is Obligatory
The Twilio survey notes that just 25% of businesses are effectively implementing omnichannel marketing strategies. With consumers now actively engaging across multiple channels — 82% primarily engage via smartphones, while 63% use computers — effective personalization depends on an omnichannel approach that meets consumers where they are, not where brands expect them to be.
2. Privacy is Paramount
While three-quarters of customers surveyed said they’d never had an “invasive” experience with brand personalization, 64% of those who encountered this issue pointed to the problem of brands having information about them they didn’t knowingly or willingly provide. In a marketplace where personalization is king, privacy is paramount.
3. Strategic Investment is Essential
It’s easy to overspend on personalization efforts — after all, the more brands learn about their customers, the better, right? Not always.
Here’s why: Not every approach pays the same dividends. While massive investment in social media marketing might help drive interest, companies will quickly lose customers if websites can’t deliver the same level of personalization. The result? Start where the customers are by personalizing your mobile and desktop websites and work outward from there.
4. Context is Critical
Customers want personalization to change based on the context of their interaction with your brand. In practice, this means that how they connect and what they’re looking for should inform the nature of personalization.
For example, a prospective customer that clicks on a product ad from your social media site wants specific information about the item in question, how they can order it, and how long it will take to arrive. Those clicking through to your website from a search engine, meanwhile, are often looking for more generalized context about what you do, where you’re located, and what you can offer.
5. Boundaries are Beneficial
Not all personalization performs as intended. As noted by Accenture, consumers called geo-based texts or notifications on their mobile triggered by their proximity to retail locations “creepy” — which isn’t a word you want to hear from potential buyers. As a result, it’s critical to conduct market research and determine where your customers draw the line.
6. Anonymity is Actionable
In some cases, anonymity is the path to personalization. Here’s why: While customers are often hesitant to provide personal information to brands if it’s used to create identifiable profiles of them within company databases, they’re typically willing to share personal data if companies promise anonymity. This anonymous data, meanwhile, is a great source of overall market trends that can help inform personalization strategies at scale.
7. Apologies are Effective
About 45% of consumers say the “coolest” personalization effort they’ve seen is when companies apologize for poor shopping experiences. This is the other side of personalization-based marketing: While most efforts focus on gaining customers, this approach focuses on keeping them. Combined with action — such as discounts, free shipping, or other benefits — apologies are an effective way to retain consumer loyalty.
8. People are the Priority
When it comes to personalization, people are the priority. Customers not only want to be treated like people through the personalization of recommendations and service but also want to see the humanity behind your brand. As a result, it’s worth personalizing your web pages, social sites, and marketing efforts to showcase the human side of your story and help drive the creation of a shared customer/company narrative.
This Time, It’s Personal
The volume and variety of customer data now available — from personal preferences to transaction histories and social media interactions — lays the groundwork for effective personalization.
However, teams must do more than simply capture data; they must combine and curate this information to create value-driven campaigns that speak directly to user interests. It’s no easy task, but the rewards are substantive. From improved engagement to increased customer loyalty and reliable conversions, fundamental change is happening to familiar marketing processes — and this time, it’s personal.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2011 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.