Unriddled: Instagram Data Downloads, Amazon’s Big Reveal, and More Tech News You Need

Welcome to Wednesday, and the latest edition of “Unriddled”: the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s mid-week digest of the tech news you need to know.

This week is big on news from Amazon — from Robots, to user numbers, to in-car deliveries. But that’s not the only thing happening around tech town, and we’re here to help decrypt what’s happening in this big, wide sector.

It’s our Wednesday tech news roundup, and we’re breaking it down.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. We Finally Know How Many Prime Members Amazon Has

In an annual letter written last week to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos disclosed a long-sought-after figure by analysts and tech writers alike: how many Prime members it has. The grand total, he wrote, has “exceeded 100 million.”

Amazon Prime is a paid subscription model (for an annual fee of $99, or $12.99 per month) offered by online retailing giant Amazon, offering such perks as free two-day delivery on many products, as well as free streaming videos and music selections. In certain regions, a membership also includes free two-hour delivery of certain items through a service called Prime Now.

Just yesterday, Amazon announced the launch of In-Car Delivery, which allows Prime members to have Amazon packages delivered to their cars if they’re parked at home, work, or near other locations in your address book.” However, it does come with eligibility requirements, depending on the make and model of your car, and your location.

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Source: Apple

Paid Prime membership numbers, as well as some of the other figures cited in Bezos’s letter, are likely to come up the company’s Q1 2018 earnings call, scheduled for this Thursday (April 26) 5:30 PM EST.

2. Instagram Will Now Let You Download Your Data

When people began downloading their Facebook data files — present company included — for many of us, things got weird.

But some, like Josh Constine of TechCrunch, wondered when other companies would follow suit — especially those owned by Facebook, like Instagram. 

Yesterday, Constine reported that Instagram has officially made a personal data download available, largely because it will be required to do so by the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) — which comes into force a month from today.

An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch that all users should be able to download their data on the network’s desktop site, but that apps across iOS and Android devices might still be rolling out.

To download your data on Instagram’s site, you must be signed in, and can then begin the download process here. When I tried it, I was prompted for an email address and told that it could take 48 hours for the data report to be fully compiled.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 5.58.24 PM

It’s worth noting that, as of writing this post, any email address could be filled in to have the data download link sent to — not just the one associated with your account. However, not only do you have to be signed into your account in order to get to that point, but when I tried it, I was also asked for my password again after entering an email address.

I also discovered that regardless of where the link is emailed, you do need to be logged into the account in question in order to download the data file.

Based on my own data download, the file contains all photos, videos, and Stories uploaded to your profile, as well as the content of any direct messages.

Your direct messages, however, are all compiled within a single JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) file format — as are files containing your historical comments, likes, and searches.

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3. A Big Week for Earnings Calls

In addition to Amazon’s above-mentioned Q1 2018 earnings call, several Big Tech players are expected to host their own this week.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., held its own Q1 earnings call on Monday, where it was revealed that nearly 5,000 new employees were added to its various companies’ headcounts over the last quarter alone. At the end of March, that left Alphabet with a total of 85,050 employees.

About 40% of those new hires were the result of Google’s acquisition of an engineering team from HTC to work on the company’s Android One line.

Twitter’s Q1 earnings call is also scheduled for this week, and as of the publication of this post (7:00 AM EST on Wednesday), should be underway and available for live listening on its investor relations page.

Finally, Facebook is scheduled to host its Q1 earnings call later today (5:00 PM EDT), after two days of UK Parliament hearings on its practices.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 10.35.00 AM

Source: Facebook

On Tuesday, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan — the Cambridge University professor behind the data-harvesting app who eventually sold personal user information to Cambridge Analytica — testified before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer is scheduled to testify before that same committee tomorrow: the same day the U.S. House Judiciary Committee will be hosting a hearing on social media “filtering practices.”

4. Amazon Might Be Building an In-Home Robot

A report from Bloomberg says plans are underway at Amazon’s Lab126 — the company’s Silicon-Valley-based hardware research and development division — to build a “domestic robot,” under a project codenamed Vesta. 

These plans are far from the first within the tech sector to build such a robot, as science fiction novels and films alike have long projected a future in which robots are practically members our families — case in point: Rosie (sometimes spelled Rosey) the Robot from animated series “The Jetsons” — with many tech companies striving to follow suit.

Robots have often been front and center at major brand keynotes at large-scale annual tech events like CES, where this year, Sony and LG were only two companies debuting their own. (LG’s robot, Cloi, malfunctioned more than once durng this presentation).

Bloomberg does correctly make the case that Amazon has laid a strong foundation for building such a domestic robot — which it predicts could be a moving Alexa of sorts that would accompany users throughout their homes — citing its success with the Echo personal assistant device, which was something of a pioneer in that area.

However, the same argument could be made about Google, whose Home device has seen success since its 2016 debut. It has been speculated by some, however, that the Alphabet portfolio company could possibly be taking a loss in its hardware-building efforts, especially given the Q1 fiscal results indicating Nest — the home automation device manufacturer owned by Google — had an operating loss.

And while Bloomberg says Amazon’s Vesta project has been underway for several years now, it also points to job listings on the Lab126 site showing an aggressive investment in getting such a robot built and, possibly, out to market. According to Research and Markets, consumer robot market share is expected to reach nearly $15 billion in the U.S. by 2023.

What Else Is Going Down in Tech Town?

More of the Latest From Facebook

Did Mark Zuckerberg’s answers to lawmaker questions help restore faith in Facebook? Not really, according to new data — which indicates people trust the social media giant even less since the CEO’s congressional hearings earlier this month. Read full story >>

Speaking of trust: What are social media networks doing to protect your personal information? Check out this infographic and learn how three platforms are keeping information secure. Read full story >>

Yesterday, Facebook publicly disclosed its content review policies to shed light on decisions to remove or allow certain posts. The company also plans to roll out an appeals process around these decisions. Read full story >>

That’s all for today. Until next week, feel free to weigh in on Twitter with your tech news questions or thoughts on what kind of events and topics you’d like covered here.

Featured image source: Amazon

How to Delete Your Facebook Account, Group, or Page [Easy Guide]

There are a lot of reasons you might be thinking about deleting your Facebook account — perhaps you think you spend too much time on it and want to take a social media cleanse, or maybe you and your friends have already stopped using it, so there’s no reason to keep it around.

It’s important to understand deleting your Facebook account is different from deactivating your account — once deleted, it can never be recovered.

Which means, if you’re intent on getting rid of your account for temporary detox purposes, you might want to consider alternative methods to detoxing from social media without deleting anything.

But if you’re sure you’re ready to leave the world’s most popular social media network, it’s a simple process.

Keep in mind, if you delete your Facebook, your photos and all your Facebook information will be lost forever. If you want to save that information, I’d suggest downloading a copy of it.

To download a copy of all your Facebook information, go to “Settings” and click, “Download a copy of your Facebook data,” and then, “Start My Archive.”

This will ensure you can still find all those awkward middle school photos, years down the road.

To find out how to delete or deactivate your Facebook account, or delete a group or page you’ve created, read on.

How to Delete or Deactivate Your Facebook Account

Once you’re sure you’re ready to delete your Facebook account permanantly, click this link. When you click the link, this message will pop up:

All you need to do is click “Delete My Account.”

Facebook notes it takes a few days to complete deletion after you request it, and if you log back into Facebook during that time, you’ll cancel the deletion request.

Remember, if you think there’s a chance you’ll want to reopen your Facebook account in the future, you might want to deactivate it instead of deleting it. If you deactivate your account, Facebook saves all your information, photos, and settings, and you can reactivate at any time. In the meantime, your profile will just be hidden.

How to Delete Your Facebook Group

We’ve covered how to delete your account, but let’s say you don’t want to delete your whole account — you just want to delete a group you created.

Note: if you didn’t create the group but you’re an admin, you can only delete the group if the original creator leaves it.

1. Go to the group you want to delete, and click “Members.” Click beside each person’s name, and select “Remove from Group.”


 

2. Once you’ve removed everyone else in the group, choose “Leave Group” next to your name.

3. Click “Leave and Delete”.

 Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 1.04.14 PM

4. And voila! Your Facebook Group is gone.

How to Delete Your Facebook Page

If you created a Facebook Page for a personal business you’ve since abandoned, or an old fan Page for Justin Bieber that no longer suits your passions, there’s an easy way to delete it.

To delete a Page, you have to be the creator of a Page — something I learned the hard way. This was the inspiration behind my very short-lived business, “Caroline’s Consulting Business.”

If you want to delete a Page you’ve created, here’s how:

1. Go to your Page, and click “Settings.”

2. From the General Tabs within Settings, scroll to bottom and click “Remove Page.”

 

3. Click “Delete [Page Name]” then click “Ok.” 

4. And that’s it! It’s important to note Facebook takes up to fourteen days to delete your Page.

The 15 Best Video Editing Apps for 2018

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you already know you should incorporate more video content into your marketing.

But like most new strategies, you might need to prove its ROI before you get budget. And that can be tricky, because to make a great video, you need a few things — like a camera and editing software.

You might already have a high-quality camera built into your smartphone, but editing your raw footage and preparing it for publication requires a third-party mobile app. You might even need to hop on the computer for the more extensive post-production projects.Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 

There’s a good chance you already have video editing software installed on your computer. For Windows, that’s Windows Movie Maker, and for Macs, it’s iMovie. But depending on the purpose your video is serving — and the content channel to which you’re distributing it — you may find that these options aren’t packed with enough features.

The good news: There are several free and inexpensive video editing apps and tools you can download that run the gamut from super simple to Hollywood-level powerful.

The following 15 solutions can help you make video magic — whether your video is meant for Instagram, YouTube, or a similar channel where you audience is hungry for content.

Video-Marketing-Starter-Pack-Interactive-Banner.png

Instagram Video Editing Apps

The following apps allow you to edit and quickly upload beautiful videos to Instagram. None of these apps are limited to Instagram, but are known for their support of this social network.

1. Magisto

Free | iOS, Android

Editing Style screen on Magisto video editor mobile appSource: Google Play

Video automation is here — in the form of the Magisto video editor.

Magisto allows you to make incredible videos without ever leaving your smartphone in three easy steps: First you’ll choose your video editing style (the type of story you’re telling), then you’ll choose the photos and video clips you’d like included, and lastly you’ll pick your music from Magisto’s built-in music library.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), this intuitive app helps organize your footage in a video that best delivers the message you have in mind. Why not stop at the free version? Upgrade to Premium or Professional for a small monthly fee and make longer movies with more of your own content.

2. Hyperlapse

Free | iOS only

Hyperlapse is an app created by Instagram itself that condenses videos into brief, hyper-speed videos that you can upload to Instagram or Facebook.

You can choose among a few different speeds, and the app will show you how long the hyperlapsed video will be for every speed in comparison to the length of the video in real time. (So a 40-second video in real time will become roughly a seven-second video in Hyperlapse at 6X speed.) It’s a really cool way to capture something that usually lasts a while — like a sunset or an event setup.

See what happened when I used Hyperlapse to film daybreak at 12X in the video above.

3. Wondershare FilmoraGo

Free | iOS, Android

Effect Store on Wondershare's FilmoraGo mobile appSource: Google Play

Wondershare Filmora (formerly Wondershare Video Editor) is the perfect option if you want to start out with basic video editing functionality with the opportunity to get more advanced as you go. The app is perfect for Instagram, but can create audience-ready videos for numerous platforms.

Filmora is available for Windows and Mac computers, whereas the company’s FilmoraGo mobile app is free to download for both iOS and Android devices.

Filmora’s “Easy Mode” strips away the complexity so you can drag and drop video clips, add some music, and produce a finished video in a matter of minutes. The FilmoraGo app has many of these features, plus an Effect Store where you can incorporate preset intros, themes, and transitions into your video creation.

Sound too good to be true? Well, you’re right: The free version of Wondershare Filmora adds a watermark to your videos that you can only remove through upgrading to their paid service.

4. InShot

Free | iOS | Android

There are the times when you just want to edit a video — no fancy collages and no splicing. For that, there’s InShot, a handy app that lets you trim, speed up, or add music and filters to video. It’s pretty fundamental, but with that comes a high ease of use. You can also add a background, if you like, though we think it’s pretty cool to have an overlap of images, like we did with the video below.

In the video above, I took a simple video of a tranquil beach scene, but enhanced it with InShot’s “warm filter” and added a fitting musical track to it — a song called “Pikake Stream,” by Kalani. (I recommend viewing the video in its entirety with headphones, especially if you’re having a stressful day.)

Free Video Editing Apps

The following tools are most versatile mobile apps of all the free software listed in this article.

5. WeVideo

Free | iOS, Android

Selecting video clips on WeVideo video editor mobile appSource: Google Play

Cloud-based video editing software (i.e., software that you access via a browser instead of downloading directly to your hard drive) is growing more and more popular. One of the programs leading the charge is WeVideo.

WeVideo definitely offers some advanced features and functionality, including audio editing capabilities, a library of commercially licensed music, and the ability to share videos in 4K resolution. However, the free version of WeVideo isn’t without its limitations.

One major downside is that you’re only given 10GB of cloud storage. If you’re making a one-off video, this is fine. But if you’re planning to edit multiple videos, you’ll definitely need more space. The free version also puts a WeVideo watermark on your videos, which isn’t ideal.

WeVideo is also available as a desktop computer product, and comes with free and paid plans. For complete breakdown of the differences between these plans, check out WeVideo’s pricing page.

6. Splice

Free | iOS only

It only seems fitting that the makers of GoPro would also release an app that allows you — as the name suggests — to splice together different video clips on your phone to create a moving collage.

We had a lot of fun playing with this one, especially since Splice even contains a library of musical tracks that can be used as a background for your finished product. You can also use the app to trim and edit the different pieces of video, and customize transition lengths from one scene to the next.

My colleague, Amanda Zantal-Wiener, experimented with Splice by compiling the above 15-second video of her dog — using only an iPhone 6.

7. Adobe Premiere Clip

Free | iOS, Android

Dragging and dropping photos and videos on Adobe Premiere Clip video editing appSource: Google Play

Adobe’s popular video editor, Premiere, isn’t just available on your mobile device — it’s free.

Melissa Stoneburner of Examiner.com calls this app a “gateway” into the full Adobe Premiere Pro video editor for desktop, and we can see this for ourselves. Similar to Magisto (the first video editor on our list), Adobe Clip automatically sets your video to the music of your choice (using Premiere Clip’s library or your own), and offers a Freeform editor that allows you to customize your edits further after this initial audio sync.

Premiere’s equally robust video editing features help you trim, drag, and drop multiple video and image clips — right from your mobile device’s photo and video album — in the order you’d like.

Then, just add proper lighting, manipulate the speed of the video, and share your final product directly on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

8. PicPlayPost

Free | iOS, Android

We’ve already covered the coolness of photo collages. But what if you could make a video collage? PicPlayPost is a simple app that lets you do exactly that. Just remember that the sound from both videos will play at the same time, so be sure they won’t clash with one another.

There are many uses for a video collage app, but my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, particularly likes the way fitness professional Melissa Made uses it on her Instagram account. She posts video collages with her performing a workout on one side, while she explains the workout out loud on the other.

Best Video Editing Software for YouTube

Although the video editing services below do not offer mobile versions, they do offer easy-to-learn functionality at minimal cost. These apps are the best for sitting down at your computer and editing amazing video content for your YouTube channel.

9. Blender

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

blender-video-editing.jpgSource: Blender

The open source program Blender is more than just a video editor: It’s a full-blown 3D animation suite, which allows for modeling, rendering, motion tracking, and more.

On the video editing side, there are a ton of features, including transitions, speed control, filters, adjustment layers, and more. There are also 32 slots available for adding video clips, audio clips, images, and effects, which means you can produce some incredibly complex video.

For the amateur video editor, all the functionality that’s available can be a bit overwhelming. But if you’re looking to produce truly professional-quality video — without having to deal with watermarks — Blender is a solid option. The best part: “You are free to use Blender for any purpose, including commercially or for education,” according to its website. For the fine print, check out its licensing info.

10. Lightworks

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

lightworks.jpgSource: ZDNet

Like Blender, Lightworks is definitely on the more advanced (and powerful) end of the video editing software spectrum. In fact, it’s a program that’s been used to edit some well-known and award-winning films, including Pulp Fiction, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The King’s Speech.

There are two different licenses you can choose from with Lightworks: “Free” and “Pro.” (The latter of which, as you might have guessed, requires that you cough up some cash.) The main difference between the two licenses is that the Pro version offers more features, including stereoscopic output and advanced project sharing. But the free version is still quite powerful, providing 100+ effects and supporting multicam editing.

11. Shotcut

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

shotcut-screenshot.pngSource: Shotcut

Shotcut is another open source video software — and it’s completely free. It’s possible to use Shotcut to create professional-looking videos, but the interface is tricky to use. Perhaps that’s because it was originally developed for the Linux platform, which looks and feels a lot different from the typical Windows or Mac UX.

With dedication — and time spent in the Shotcut frequently asked questions and how-to guide sections — it’s possible to use this software to create and export high-quality videos, completely for free.

12. VSDC Free Video Editor

Free | Windows Only

vsdc-free-video-editor-screenshot.jpgSource: Softonic

In experienced hands, the VSDC Free Video Editor can produce some seriously professional-looking video. In addition to supporting nearly every major video format, the program offers advanced video effects, including object transformation and color correction, as well as advanced audio effects like volume correction and sound normalization. And unlike WeVideo, the VSDC Free Video Editor is truly free. You can use the program’s full feature set without having to deal with pesky watermarks.

Unfortunately, there is one catch. If you want technical support, you need to pay. (And because there is a bit of a learning curve, there’s a good chance you’ll need to.) Support for the VSDC Free Video Editor costs $9.99 for one month and $14.99 for one year.

13. Machete Video Editor Lite

Free | Windows Only

machete-lite-04-620x449.pngSource: Softonic

At the simple end of the spectrum is Machete Video Editor Lite, a free program allowing you to cut, copy, and paste different sections of video. As the Machete website puts it, Video Editor Lite was “designed for quick and simple ‘slicing’ of your video files.”

The program’s intuitive interface means you won’t have to waste time shuffling through technical support documents. And because Video Editor Lite doesn’t re-encode your video files when you slice them, you don’t have to worry about losing video quality.

The main downsides to the program? It only supports the AVI and WMV video formats, and it doesn’t allow for audio editing. Still, if you have zero video editing experience and only need to make simple edits, it’s a great option.

14. Avidemux

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

avidemux-screenshot-update.pngSource: Softonic

Like Machete Video Editor Lite, Avidemux allows you to do basic video editing (no audio editing) without having to worry about loss of video quality. But Avidemux also has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

For starters, the program supports multiple video formats, including AVI, DVD, MPEG, QuickTime, and MP4. What’s more, Avidemux comes with several filters that allow you to perform a host of different functions, from flipping and rotating clips, to adding subtitles, to adjusting colors and brightness levels.

And while the learning curve for Avidemux is slightly steeper compared to Machete Video Editor Lite, the upside is that there’s an extensive Avidemux wiki that covers everything you need to know.

15. HitFilm

$99 | Windows, Mac

hitfilm screenshot.jpgSource: HitFilm

HitFilm Express is a free video editing and visual effects software — which means you can use it to add more than 180 special effects to your videos, including 3D editing.

Possibly the coolest HitFilm feature is its wealth of tutorial videos — users can practice applying special visual effects in movie tutorials based on Star Wars, Westworld, and more.

Of course, upgrading to HitFilm Pro grants access to more visual effects, better high resolution and 3D rendering, and better audio syncing between audio and video files. It costs $300, but if you’re not ready to fully invest, HitFilm Express users can purchase lower-cost expansions to use more tools in their software.

To see the complete list of differences between HitFilm Free and Pro, check out their “Compare Versions” page.

Want to learn more about video editing? Check out the best editing apps for photos.

Online video content isn’t just watched more — it’s expected more. Luckily, you have the 15 video editing tools above to help you. And the sooner you download one, the sooner you can sharpen your audio/video skills.

Grab the guide below to make the video learning curve easier.

video marketing starter pack

 
video marketing starter pack

How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide [Examples + Template]

Not all business ideas are good ones. Take my friend Eric, for example, who had the idea of a cell phone that doubles as a taser. Probably not the best product to have on the market.

A lot of people have business ideas — it’s whether these ideas are any good that really matters. That’s precisely why, if you intend to actually build a business from your idea, it’s helpful to create a business plan so you can build out your concept in detail and prove that it can really work, both logistically and financially.

Learn the fundamentals of inbound marketing in a short online lesson from  HubSpot Academy. 

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a living document that maps out the details of your business. It covers what your business will sell, how it will be structured, what the market looks like, how you plan to sell your product or service, what funding you’ll need, what your financial projections are, and which permits, leases, and other documentation will be required.

At its core, a business plan helps you prove to yourself and others whether or not your business idea is worth pursuing. It’s the best way to take a step back, look at your idea holistically, and solve for issues years down the road before you start getting into the weeds.

This post covers tips for writing a business plan, followed by an outline of what to include and business plan examples. Let’s start with some basic, overarching tips before we dive in to the details. 

Grab your free business plan template here and apply the practices below.

Tips for Creating a Business Plan

Narrow down what makes you different.

Before you start whipping up a business plan, think carefully about what makes your business unique first. If you’re planning to start a new athletic clothing business, for example, then you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the numerous other athletic clothing brands out there.

What makes yours stand out from the others? Are you planning to make clothing for specific sports or athletic activities, like yoga or hiking or tennis? Do you use environmentally friendly material? Does a certain percentage of your proceeds go to charity? Does your brand promote positive body image?

Remember: You’re not just selling your product or service — you’re selling a combination of product, value, and brand experience. Think through these big questions and outline them before you dive in to the nitty-gritty of your business plan research.

Keep it short.

Business plans are more short and concise nowadays than they used to be. While it might be tempting to include all the results of your market research, flesh out every single product you plan to sell, and outline exactly what your website will look like, that’s actually not helpful in the format of a business plan.

Know these details and keep them elsewhere, but exclude everything but the meat and potatoes from the business plan itself. Otherwise, you might risk losing your readers’ attention.

Format for easy skimming.

Your business plan shouldn’t just be a quick(ish) read — it should be easy to skim, too. That’s where formatting becomes particularly important. Use headers and bullet points, bold or highlight the key lines or metrics you want the reader to take away, and even attach labeled tabs to your copies (paper and digital) for easy reference.

You can (and should) change it as you go.

Keep in mind that your business plan is a living, breathing document. That means you can update your business plan as things change. For example, you might want to update it a year or two down the road if you’re about to apply for a new round of funding.

How to Write a Business Plan

Here are the key elements in a business plan template, what goes into each of them, and a sample business plan section at each step in the process.

Step 1. Executive Summary

The purpose of the executive summary is to give readers a high-level view of the company and the market before delving in to the details. (Pro Tip: Sometimes it’s helpful to write the executive summary after you’ve put together the rest of the plan so you can draw out the key takeaways more easily.)

The executive summary should be about a page long, and should cover (in 1–2 paragraphs each):

  • Overview: Briefly explain what the company is, where you’ll be located, what you’ll sell, and who you’ll sell to.
  • Company Profile: Briefly explain the business structure, who owns it and whatprior experience/skills they’ll bring to the table, and who the first hires might be.
  • Products or Services: Briefly explain what you’ll sell.
  • The Market: Briefly explain your main findings from your market analysis.
  • Financial Considerations: Briefly explain how you plan to fund the business and what your financial projections are.

Example of an “Overview” section of the Executive Summary (from Bplans):

Jolly’s Java and Bakery (JJB) is a start-up coffee and bakery retail establishment located in southwest Washington. JJB expects to catch the interest of a regular loyal customer base with its broad variety of coffee and pastry products. The company plans to build a strong market position in the town, due to the partners’ industry experience and mild competitive climate in the area.

JJB aims to offer its products at a competitive price to meet the demand of the middle-to higher-income local market area residents and tourists.

Step 2. Company Description

Next, you’ll have your company description. Here’s where you have the chance to give a summary of what your company does, your mission statement, business structure and business owner details, location details, the marketplace needs that your business is trying to meet, and how your products or services actually meet those needs.

Example of a “Company Summary” section (from Bplans):

NALB Creative Center is a start up, to go into business in the summer of this year. We will offer a large variety of art and craft supplies, focusing on those items that are currently unavailable on this island. The Internet will continue to be a competitor, as artists use websites to buy familiar products. We will stock products that artists don’t necessarily have experience with. We will maintain our price comparisons to include those available on line.

We will offer classes in the use of new materials and techniques.

We will build an Artist’s Oasis tour program. We will book local Bed and Breakfasts; provide maps and guides for appropriate plein-air sites; rent easels and materials; sell paint and other supplies and ship completed work to the clients when dry.

We will expand the store into an art center including: A fine art gallery, offering original art at, or near, wholesale prices; Musical instruments/studio space; Classrooms for art/music lessons; Art/Music books; Live music/coffee bar; Do-it-Yourself crafts such as specialty T-Shirts, signs, cards, ceramics for the tourist trade.

Step 3. Market Analysis

One of the first questions to ask yourself when you’re testing your business idea is whether it has a place in the market. The market will ultimately dictate how successful your business will be. What’s your target market, and why would they be interested in buying from you?

Get specific here. For example, if you’re selling bedding, you can’t just include everyone who sleeps in a bed in your target market. You need to target a smaller group of customers first, like teenagers from middle-income families. From there, you might answer questions like: How many teenagers from middle-income families are currently in your country? What bedding do they typically need? Is the market growing or stagnant?

Include both an analysis of research that others have done, as well as primary research that you’ve collected yourself — whether by customer surveys, interviews, or other methods.

This is also where you’ll include a competitive analysis. In our example, we’d be answering the question: how many other bedding companies already have a share of the market, and who are they? Outline the strengths and weaknesses of your potential competitors, as well as strategies that will give you a competitive advantage.

Example of a “Market Analysis” summary section (from Bplans):

Green Investments has identified two distinct groups of target customers. These two groups of customers are distinguished by their household wealth. They have been grouped as customers with <$1 million and >$1 million in household wealth. The main characteristic that makes both of these groups so attractive is their desire to make a difference in the world by making investment decisions that take into account environmental factors.

The financial services industry has many different niches. Some advisors provide general investment services. Others will only offer one type of investments, maybe just mutual funds or might concentrate on bonds. Other service providers will concentrate on a specific niche like technology or socially responsible companies.

Market Segmentation

Green Investments has segmented the target market into two distinct groups. The groups can be differentiated by their difference in household wealth, households of <$1 million and >$1 million.

  • <$1 million (household worth): These customers are middle class people who have a concern for the environment and are taking personal action through their choosing of stock investments based on companies with both strong economic and environmental performance records. Because these people do not have an over abundance of money they choose stocks that are of moderate risk. Generally, this group has 35%-45% of their portfolio in stocks, the remaining percentages in other types of investments.
  • >$1 million (household worth): These customers are upper middle class to upper class. They have amassed over $1 million in savings and are fairly savvy investors (themselves or the people they hire). These people are generally concerned about the rate of return of their investments but also have environmental concerns.

Step 4. Products and/or Services

Here’s where you can go into detail about what you’re selling and how it benefits your customers. If you aren’t able to articulate how you’ll help your customers, then your business idea may not be a good one.

Start by describing the problem you’re solving. Then, go into how you plan to solve it and where your product or service fits into the mix. Finally, talk about the competitive landscape: What other companies are providing solutions to this particular problem, and what sets your solution apart from theirs?

Example of a “Products and Services” section (from Bplans):

AMT provides both computer products and services to make them useful to small business. We are especially focused on providing network systems and services to small and medium business. The systems include both PC-based LAN systems and minicomputer server-based systems. Our services include design and installation of network systems, training, and support.

Product and Service Description

In personal computers, we support three main lines:

1. The Super Home is our smallest and least expensive line, initially positioned by its manufacturer as a home computer. We use it mainly as a cheap workstation for small business installations. Its specifications include …[additional specifics omitted]

2. The Power User is our main up-scale line. It is our most important system for high-end home and small business main workstations, because of …. Its key strengths are …. Its specifications include ….[additional specifics omitted]

3. The Business Special is an intermediate system, used to fill the gap in the positioning. Its specifications include … [additional specifics omitted]

In peripherals, accessories and other hardware, we carry a complete line of necessary items from cables to forms to mousepads … [additional specifics omitted]

In service and support, we offer a range of walk-in or depot service, maintenance contracts and on-site guarantees. We have not had much success selling service contracts. Our networking capabilities …[additional specifics omitted]

Competitive Comparison

The only way we can hope to differentiate well is to define the vision of the company to be an information technology ally to our clients. We will not be able to compete in any effective way with the chains using boxes or products as appliances. We need to offer a real alliance.

The benefits we sell include many intangibles: confidence, reliability, knowing that somebody will be there to answer questions and help at the important times.

These are complex products, products that require serious knowledge and experience to use, and our competitors sell only the products themselves.

Unfortunately, we cannot sell the products at a higher price just because we offer services; the market has shown that it will not support that concept. We have to also sell the service and charge for it separately.

Step 5. Operations & Management

Use this section to outline your business’ unique organization and management structure (keeping in mind that you may change it later). Who will be responsible for what? How will tasks and responsibilities be assigned to each person or each team?

Includes brief bios of each team member and highlight any relevant experience and education to help make the case for why they’re the right person for the job. If you haven’t hired people for the planned roles yet, that’s OK — just make sure you identify those gaps and explain what the people in those roles will be responsible for.

Example of an “Personnel Plan” section of the Operations & Management section (from Bplans):

The labor force for DIY Wash N’ Fix will be small. It will consist of a part-time general manager to handle inter-business relationships and corporate responsibilities. In addition, DIY Wash N’ Fix will employ three certified mechanics/managers; their duties will consist of the day-to-day operation of the firm. These duties fall into two categories: managerial and operational. Managerial tasks include: scheduling, inventory control and basic bookkeeping. Safety, regulatory issues, customer service and repair advice are the operational tasks they will be responsible for.

Additionally, customer service clerks will be hired to perform the most basic tasks: customer service and custodial. DIY Wash N’ Fix will have a single general manager to coordinate all outside business activities and partnerships. The business relationships would include accounting services, legal counsel, vendors and suppliers, maintenance providers, banking services, advertising and marketing services, and investment services. Laurie Snyder will fill this general management position. She will be receiving an MBA from the University of Notre Dame in May 2001.

The daily management of the business will be left to the lead mechanic. Even though DIY Wash N’ Fix is not a full service repair shop it can be expected that some customers will attempt repairs they are not familiar with and need advice. Therefore, we intend to hire three fully certified mechanics. The mechanics will not be authorized to perform any work on a customer’s car, but they will be able to take a look at the car to evaluate the problem. To reduce our liability for repairs done incorrectly we feel only professional mechanics should give advice to customers. The primary function of the mechanics will be customer service and managerial responsibilities.

Step 6. Marketing & Sales Plan

This is where you can plan out your comprehensive marketing and sales strategies that’ll cover how you actually plan to sell your product. Before you work on your marketing and sales plan, you’ll need to have your market analysis completely fleshed out, and choose your target buyer personas, i.e., your ideal customers. (Learn how to create buyer personas here.)

On the marketing side, you’ll want to cover answers to questions like: How do you plan to penetrate the market? How will you grow your business? Which channels will you focus on for distribution? How will you communicate with your customers?

On the sales side, you’ll need to cover answers to questions like: what’s your sales strategy? What will your sales team look like, and how do you plan to grow it over time? How many sales calls will you need to make to make a sale? What’s the average price per sale? Speaking of average price per sale, here’s where you can go into your pricing strategy.

For more help with your marketing and sales strategies, go to our online guide for how to start a business and scroll to the “Marketing, Sales & Services Tips for Startups” section.

Example of a “Marketing Plan” section (from Bplans):

The Skate Zone plans to be the first amateur inline hockey facility in Miami, Florida. Due to the overwhelming growth of inline hockey throughout the United States, the company’s promotional plans are open to various media and a range of marketing communications. The following is a list of those available presently.

Public relations. Press releases are issued to both technical trade journals and major business publications such as USAHockey Inline, INLINE the skate magazine, PowerPlay, and others.

Tournaments. The Skate Zone will represent its services at championship tournaments that are held annually across the United States.

Print advertising and article publishing. The company’s print advertising program includes advertisements in The Yellow Pages, Miami Express News, The Skate Zone Mailing, school flyers, and inline hockey trade magazines.

Internet. The Skate Zone currently has a website and has received several inquiries from it. Plans are underway to upgrade it to a more professional and effective site. In the future, this is expected to be one of the company’s primary marketing channels.

Step 7. Financial Plan

Finally, outline your financial model in detail, including your start-up cost, financial projections, and a funding request if you’re pitching to investors.

Your start-up cost refers to the resources you’ll need to get your business started — and an estimate of how much each of those resources will cost. Are you leasing an office space? Do you need a computer? A phone? List out these needs and how much they’ll cost, and be honest and conservative in your estimates. The last thing you want to do is run out of money.

Once you’ve outlined your costs, you’ll need to justify them by detailing your financial projections. This is especially important if you’re looking for funding for your business. Make sure your financial model is 100% accurate for the best chance of convincing investors and loan sources to support your business.

Example of a “Financial Projections” section (from Bplans):

The following table is the projected Profit and Loss statement for Markam.

Financial projections in a business plan example

Image via Bplans

Step 8. Appendix

Finally, consider closing out your business plan with an appendix. The appendix is optional, but it’s a helpful place to include your resume and the resume(s) of your co-founder(s), as well as any permits, leases, and other legal information you want to include.

There you have it. We hope this has helped you get a better idea of what a business plan should look like. Now it’s time to turn that business idea into a reality. Good luck!

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20 Questions to Ask When Creating Buyer Personas [Free Template]

Buyer personas are a crucial component of successful inbound marketing, particularly for the sales and marketing departments. After all, the marketing team needs to know to whom they are marketing, and the sales team needs to know to whom they are selling.

But once you sit down to craft your buyer personas, you may find yourself staring blankly at a white screen for some time, wondering where on earth you’re supposed to begin.

Download our free buyer persona template here to learn how to create buyer personas for your business.

Before you spend time and money on research, ask yourself the questions below to help you develop your personas, then use our free buyer persona template above to share your personas with the rest of your company. 

Keep in mind you’ll need a content marketing strategy to reach your buyer persona. Want to learn the process? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing training resource page.

20 Buyer Persona Questions to Ask When Identifying Your Audience

Questions About Their Personal Background

1. Describe your personal demographics.

Collecting demographic information is a great place to begin drafting your personas because it’s easy to obtain and starts to paint a clearer, more personal picture of your customer. Are they married? What’s their annual household income? Where do they live? Are they male or female? How old are they? Do they have children?

2. Describe your educational background.

What level of education did they complete? Which schools did they attend, and what did they study? Get specific here. “Boston University” is better than “liberal arts college.”

3. Describe your career path.

How did they end up where they are today? Did they major in a subject that’s very similar to or very different from their current role? Has their career track been pretty traditional, or did they switch from another industry?

Questions About Their Company

4. In which industry or industries does your company work?

The answer to this question isn’t the department in which your buyer persona works, or the service he or she personally provides to his/her company. Your buyer persona’s industry is the type of service they deliver to their clients, and knowing this can help you measure your business’s impact in the markets you’re targeting.

Depending on the challenges your buyer persona faces, it might also be worth getting information on the industries your client’s business serves, not just the actual service they provide.

For example, if your client provides environmental services, their industry is just that — environmental services. But if their primary clients are schools and hospitals, a good answer to this question might ultimately be:

They are in the environmental services industry for education and medical customers.

5. What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?

Knowing details about your persona’s company like industry, size, number of employees, and other details will especially help you when you’re building the fields for your landing page forms.

Questions About Their Role

6. What is your job role? Your title?

How long have they had this role and title? Are they an individual contributor, or do they manage other people?

7. Whom do you report to? Who reports to you?

The importance with which you should regard your buyer persona’s job and seniority level certainly depends on the product or service you’re selling.

If you’re a B2C company, you may simply consider this information as another way to better understand nuances of your persona’s life.

If you’re a B2B company, this piece of information becomes more crucial. Is your persona at a managerial or director level, and well versed in the intricacies of your industry? They’ll need less education than someone at an introductory level, who may need to loop in other decision makers before making purchasing decisions.

8. How is your job measured?

Which metric(s) is your persona responsible for? Which numbers or charts or waterfall graphs do they look at every day? This will help you determine what makes them successful, and what they might be worried about when it comes to “hitting their numbers.”

9. What does a typical day look like?

What time do they get to work and what time do they leave? What do they do when they’re most productive? What’s their “busy work” look like?

This should include both the tasks they do for their job, as well as what happens during the day outside their job. Are they spending more time at work or at home? Where would they rather be? What do they like to do for fun? Who are the people in their life that matter most? What kind of car do they drive? Which TV shows do they watch? Heck, what outfit are they wearing? Get personal here.

10. Which skills are required to do your job?

If they were hiring someone to replace them and had to write a job description of what’s actually required, what would it say? What are the ideal skills for this job, and how good is your persona at each of them? Where did they learn these skills? Did they learn them on the job, at a previous job, or by taking a course?

11. What knowledge and which tools do you use in your job?

Which applications and tools do they use every single day? Every week? Understanding what products they love (and hate) to use can help you identify commonalities in your own product (and adjust your positioning accordingly). 

Questions About Their Challenges

12. What are your biggest challenges?

You’re in business because you’re solving a problem for your target audience. How does that problem affect their day-to-day life? Go into detail, and focus on the nuances that illustrate how that problem makes them feel.

For example, let’s say your company sells personal tax software directly to consumers. One of your personas may be a first-time tax preparer. What are the pain points of first-time tax preparers? They’re probably intimidated by the prospect of doing their taxes by themselves for the first time, overwhelmed by a tax code they don’t understand, and confused about where to start. These pain points differ from those of a seasoned tax preparer, whose pain points may be not knowing how to maximize the amount of their return and find creative loopholes for deductions.

Try coming up with real quotes to refer to these challenges. For example, “It’s been difficult getting company-wide adoption of new technologies in the past;” or “I don’t have time to train new employees on a million different databases and platforms.”

Questions About Their Goals

13. What are you responsible for?

This goes beyond the metric(s) they’re measured on. What’s their primary goal at work? What about their secondary goal? Knowing these will help you learn what you can do to help your persona achieve their goals and overcome their challenges.

14. What does it mean to be successful in your role?

What can you do to make your personas look good? Companies that take the time to understand what makes their personas successful will likely enjoy more effective communications from both the sales and marketing teams.

Questions About How They Learn

15. How do you learn about new information for your job?

If you’re going to market and sell to these personas, you need to understand how they consume information. Do they go online, prefer to learn in-person, or pick up newspapers and magazines? If they’re online learners, do they visit social networks? To Google? Which sources do they trust the most — friends, family, coworkers, or industry experts?

16. Which publications or blogs do you read?

In an effort to piece together how a typical day in their life runs, figure out where they regularly go to stay informed. If you know how they prefer to gather information, you can make yourself present in those spots and work on establishing credibility in those communities.

17. Which associations and social networks do you participate in?

You should be investing time and resources on social media marketing, but the question is: Which social networks should you be investing more time and resources than others? Identify the associations and social networks your buyers spend their time. Then, you can prioritize which accounts to create and which conversations to participate in.

Questions About Their Shopping Preferences

18. How do you prefer to interact with vendors?

The experience of purchasing your product should align with your persona’s expectations. What should their sales experience feel like? Is it consultative? How much time do they expect to spend with a sales person? Do they anticipate an in-person meeting, or would they rather conduct the sales process online or over the phone?

19. Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information?

Again, which avenues are they using to find new information? Do they search online, look at review websites, ask their friends and family, or something else?

20. Describe a recent purchase.

Why did you consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did you decide to purchase that product or service?

If you can anticipate the objections your persona will have, you can be prepared for them in the sales process and perhaps even educate them in your marketing collateral to help allay fears right away. What might make them reticent to buy from you or any other provider in your industry? Is this their first time purchasing a product or service of your kind? If not, what caused them to switch products or services?

Now What?

Once you’ve gone through this exercise and worked out any lingering questions about what makes your persona tick, browse through some stock imagery and find an actual picture to associate with your persona. Going through this exercise forces you to clarify an image of your target audience in your entire organization’s mind that will help keep your messaging consistent.

Another useful exercise is to practice being able to identify your buyer persona so you can tailor your communications. How will you know when you’re talking to this persona? Is it their job title? Something about the way they talk or carry a conversation? Their pain points? How they found your company? Once you’ve established not only who your persona is, but also how you can identify them when you encounter one or another, your employees will be able to maintain a consistent voice that is still customized to each person they talk to.

Then, use our free, downloadable persona template to organize the information you’ve gathered about your persona. Share these slides with the rest of your company so everyone can benefit from the research you’ve done and develop an in-depth understanding of the person (or people) they’re targeting every day at work.

Want to learn about some the best real buyer personas? Check out seven companies with awesome buyer personas.

free buyer persona creation template

 
free buyer persona creation template

Facebook Has Published Its Internal Community Standards and Will Roll out a New Appeals Process

Facebook has published its internal enforcement guidelines. 

These guidelines — or community standards, as they’re also known — are designed to help human moderators decide what content should (not) be allowed on Facebook. Now, the social network wants the public to know how such decisions are made.

“We decided to publish these internal guidelines for two reasons,” wrote Facebook’s VP of Global Product Management Monica Bickert in a statement. “First, the guidelines will help people understand where we draw the line on nuanced issues.”

“Second,” the statement continues, “providing these details makes it easier for everyone, including experts in different fields, to give us feedback so that we can improve the guidelines – and the decisions we make – over time.”

Facebook’s content moderation practices have been the topic of much discussion and, at times, contention. At CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings earlier this month, several lawmakers asked about the removal or suppression of certain content that they believed was based on political orientation.

And later this week, the House Judiciary Committee will host yet another hearing on the “filtering practices of social media platforms,” where witnesses from Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been invited to testify — though none have confirmed their attendance.

What the Standards Look Like

According to a tally from The Verge reporter Casey Newton, the newly-released community standards total 27 pages, and are divided into six main sections:

  1. Violence and Criminal Behavior
  2. Safety
  3. Objectionable Content
  4. Integrity and Authenticity
  5. Respecting Intellectual Property
  6. Content-Related Requests

Within these sections, the guidelines delve deeper into the moderation of content that might promote or indicate things like threats to public safety, bullying, self-harm, and “coordinating harm.”

That last item is particularly salient for many, following the publication of a New York Times report last weekend on grave violence in Sri Lanka that is said ignited at least in part by misinformation spread on Facebook within the region.

According to that report, Facebook lacks the resources to combat this weaponization of its platform, due to some degree to its lack of Sinhalese-speaking moderators (one of the most common languages in which this content appears).

But beyond that, many sources cited in the story say that even when this violence-inciting content is reported or flagged by concerned parties on Facebook, they’re told that it doesn’t violate community standards.

Within the guidelines published today, an entire page is dedicated to “credible violence,” which includes “statements of intent to commit violence against any person, groups of people, or place (city or smaller)” — which describes much of the violence reported in the New York Times story that Facebook was allegedly used to incite. 

Bickert wrote in this morning’s statement that Facebook’s Community Operations team — which has 7,500 content reviewers (and which the company has said it hopes to more than double this year) — currently oversees these reports and does so in over 40 languages.

Whether that includes Sinhalese and other languages spoken in the regions affected by the violence described in the New York Times report was not specified.

A New Appeals Process

The public disclosure of these community standards will be followed by the rollout of a new appeals project, Bickert wrote, that will allow users and publishers to contest decisions made about the removal of content they post.

To start, the statement says, appeals will become available to those whose content was “removed for nudity/sexual activity, hate speech or graphic violence.” Users whose content is taken down will be notified and provided with the option to request further review into the decision.

That review will be done by a human moderator, Bickert wrote, usually within a day. And if it’s been determined that the decision was made in error, it will be reversed and the content will be re-published.

In the weeks leading up to Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony earlier this month, Facebook released numerous statements about its policies and practices, and the changes it would be making to them. It was predicted that the motivation behind those numerous statements was to leave as little room for speculation as possible among lawmakers.

There’s some probability that this most recent statement was made, this appeals process introduced, and these standards published in anticipation of potential questions being asked at this week’s hearings.

In addition to the aforementioned House Judiciary Committee hearing on “filtering practices” tomorrow, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer will testify before UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. (Dr. Aleksandr Kogan — the Cambridge University professor behind the data-harvesting app who eventually sold personal user information to Cambridge Analytica — testified before that same committee this morning.)

How or if this statement and the content review guidelines are raised within these events remain to be seen — but it’s important to again note that one reason for their release, according to Bickert, was to allow feedback from the public, whether it’s comprised of daily Facebook users or topical experts.

It’s possible that in the wake of Facebook’s unfolding and continuous scrutiny, all of its policies will continue to evolve.

Featured image credit: Facebook

11 of the Best Phone Interview Questions

The average job opening attracts 250 resumes, and the average interview process from start to finish can take 23 days. Phone interviews can help you determine which candidates have the critical thinking and interpersonal skills necessary for an in-person interview. When you weed out less qualified applicants right off the bat, you can narrow down your candidate pool, and limit the amount of time wasted in your search.

While a resume supplies you with general information about a person’s background, a phone interview helps you ask second-level questions to start forming a deeper, more holistic picture of a candidate’s background and skills.

But with only about thirty minutes on the phone, what questions can you ask to build good rapport with your interviewee and receive some truly insightful answers? Better yet, what can you ask to decipher whether the applicant is a good fit for your company and the role?

To help you get the most out of your phone interview process, we’ve narrowed down to eleven of the best questions to ensure you’re discovering the the best candidates to bring into the office.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself?

While this question sounds really simple, it actually serves an important purpose. First, it helps put the candidate at ease — it’s an easy one, and one she should expect. Second, your interviewee will likely bring up whatever she is most excited about or proud of in relation to the role, and this will help steer the direction of your entire conversation.

Look for the candidate to list out a few skills she’s learned from prior experiences that relate directly to the role. A good candidate will incorporate some key phrases from the job description into her answer, demonstrating she’s prepared and aware of what the role entails.

2. What attracted you to apply for this position?

You want to figure out how much research she’s done, and whether her perspective of the role is accurate (if she mentions she can’t wait for creative opportunities, but this is largely an analytical role, she might not understand the position’s responsibilities). This question is also an easy way to see how genuinely interested a candidate is in your company. Look for a candidate who expresses her interest in the tasks required for the specific role, rather than more secondary benefits that come from working at your company — like the awesome snack room, or team outings

3. How would you describe your work style?

What if your interviewee says she works best in collaborative, social settings, yet the role she’s applying for requires a lot of independent work? Although this might not be a deal breaker, it’s good to know early on whether this person will be the best fit for the work style necessary to excel in this position. Hopefully, the interviewee will describe a work style that fits your requirements.

4. What can you tell me that isn’t on your resume that is important for me to know about you?

This question shows the candidate that you care about who she is as a person, beyond what a piece of paper says about her. It also encourages the candidate to avoid using her resume as a crutch, and forces her to reflect more deeply on what she views as her biggest strengths.

With this question, you’ve asked the candidate to provide just one thing, so it’s pretty likely that whatever the candidate tells you, it will be very important to her. Look for a candidate who has the confidence to reply with something she is truly passionate about — you might want to use this question as an icebreaker at the beginning of a phone interview, but you can also use it halfway through the interview if you feel the candidate’s answers are stiff and you want to uncover some deeper layers to her personality.

5. Would you rather finish something late and perfectly, or on-time and imperfectly?

A “would-you-rather” question is an opportunity for your candidate to showcase her priorities and decision-making methods. You’ll want to look for a candidate who is good at thinking on her feet, and able to respond confidently to this question — her answer isn’t as important as how she delivers it, since the question doesn’t really have an obvious right or wrong answer. Look for a candidate who can answer firmly, with good reasoning to back it up and a self-assuredness that indicates someone who can make decisions efficiently without lingering in self-doubt.

6. What would you say is the most important skill you’ve learned in your current role? What’s an area you’d like to improve on?

You already know the skills listed on her resume, but a description without a deeper explanation often isn’t enough: plenty of people can write “hard working” on a resume, but it’s more important to know how they can exemplify that. You’ll want the candidate to say something along the lines of, “In my past job, I learned a lot about SEO, but I think there’s still room for me to grow in that area. In particular I’d love to learn more about keyword research, and how I can use more advanced tactics to grow my company’s organic traffic. I’m hoping my next role will offer learning opportunities in that area.”

In her answer, she admits her content can get better, and although she’s skilled at something, there’s still room for her to grow. If you’re unsure of whether or not her skills are adept enough for the job, you can ask follow-up questions, but her initial answer is enough to demonstrate she’s flexible, willing to learn, and capable of accepting criticism.

7. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your current role? Tell me about it.

It’s not a bad sign if your candidate has faced problems in her prior position: it means she’s human. But it’s critical to know her problem-solving methods. Let’s say she mentions she once worked with a client who was difficult. Look for her to talk about how she was able to reach a mutually-benefitial compromise and learned to work with the client by adapting her own strategy. It’s important that she can demonstrate empathy for other people, rather than putting the blame on the other party. Plus, you’ll want her to tell you about her own ability to solve problems creatively and efficiently, rather than dwelling on the frustrations of the experience.

8. Why are you leaving your job/why are you looking elsewhere?

You’ll want to know why the candidate’s current job is unfulfilling, so you can evaluate how your company or position could fill the void. This also speaks to her character. If she says, “I’m leaving my current job because I don’t really like the people I work with,” this isn’t a great sign. While it may be true, it hints that she might have a tough time getting along with other people. Instead, look for a candidate who desires a more challenging role, or a position that can satisfy her job-related passions. Hopefully, this position is a better fit for her, and you can express that.

9. What’s some feedback that you’ve received that was difficult to hear, but ultimately has proven really valuable?

It won’t be easy for the candidate to relay some tough criticism to you, but it’s critical that she is mature and self-aware enough to show she can receive difficult feedback and use it constructively.

Look for a candidate who can be honest and non-judgmental about feedback she has received. You want a candidate to focus on how the criticism helped her improve — ideally, she will even say she’s grateful that the criticism taught her skills that eventually helped her grow. It’s not a good sign if applicants become defensive when asked this question, or blame the feedback-giver and refuse to take accountability. This could indicate a lack of maturity when it comes to receiving and using feedback to improve, and could be a problem for you down the road.

10. If you could have dinner with three famous people who are no longer living, who would they be and why?

This question can offer some insight into who your candidate finds inspirational, and that’s valuable information for understanding which traits she values most for personal growth. Plus, it’s a fun one to answer, and it’s likely that your applicant has thought about this before (I know I have).

Look for a candidate who can provide you with a list of influential people, with convincing reasons as to why they inspire her. The reasoning in itself isn’t that important, but you’ll want to find a candidate who can explain how and why she’s inspired by certain people and ideas, and how those philisophies have shaped her own career path.

11. What questions can I answer for you?

Opening it up for questions will let you get a read on your candidate’s concerns, but even more importantly, it shows how well prepared she is. If she doesn’t have any questions, it’s most likely because she either isn’t that passionate about the role, or believes she’s overqualified for it. You’ll want her to ask thoughtful, specific questions that prove her interest in the role. You’ll also want to see she can take questions to a deeper, more analytical level. Look for a candidate who asks unique questions to prove she’s done her homework, and also listened well during your phone conversation. For instance, if she asks a generic question you already answered in the beginning of your conversation, it might not be a great sign.

How to Audit Your Website for Improved SEO and Conversions

When was the last time you gave your website a checkup?

Turn more website visitors into customers in 60 days with our 8-Week Conversion  Rate Optimization Planner.

If you’ve never before audited your website, it’s been a while since you have, or you’re planning a website redesign in the near future, use this post as your go-to website audit checklist to make sure your website is primed for maximum SEO and conversion results.

Keep in mind that in most cases, you’ll probably want to pair up with someone with a technical brain for this, whether that be someone in your in-house IT department or an outsourced party.

The Benefits of a Website Audit

Before we dive into the things you should be keeping an eye out for as you’re auditing your website, let’s review some of the benefits of doing one. Here are some of the top benefits from a marketing perspective:

Website Performance Optimization

Website audits usually evaluate a site not only for its content, but also for its technical performance.

As a result, an audit will give you a chance to inspect the robustness of your website’s technical framework and infrastructure, assess how friendly your website is to search engines, and determine how easy it is for users to navigate and intuitively find content on your website.

Search Engine Optimization

By conducting a website audit, you’ll be able to identify any missed SEO opportunities and remedy any misguided or poorly executed SEO pitfalls (e.g. keyword stuffing, exact match anchor text links, etc.) throughout the content of your website.

It will also allow you to re-focus your SEO efforts on users first and search engines second. This will safeguard you from constantly chasing changes to search ranking algorithms, meaning you won’t be applying misguided practices just to show up in the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Conversion Rate Optimization

Thirdly, website audits enable you re-evaluate the effectiveness of your website in terms of lead generation and conversion. As a result, you’ll be able to spot any previously overlooked opportunities to convert visitors into leads so you can add relevant CTAs, as well as identify deficiencies in your landing pages so you can optimize them to boost conversions.

As you can see, assessing both the content and technical aspects of your website will open up opportunities to drastically improve the traffic and conversions your website generates.

The 4 Assessments to Make When Auditing Your Website

Let’s talk about how to pursue each of the three benefits above, and what you should specifically be checking for in this four-part website audit.

But first, enter your website into HubSpot’s Website Grader — this will give you a general overview of your website’s strengths so you can gauge your focus on each of the assessments that follow in this article.

Homepage of HubSpot's Website Grader, giving site owners a website audit of their domain's strength

How’d you do? Got an idea of which website audit benefits you need the most? Here we go.

1. Website Performance Assessment

In the first part of your website audit, you should be focusing on how users navigate your website — from your homepage, to blog posts, to landing pages, and any related content in between.

Make a list of the pages on your website and ask yourself the following questions to evaluate them for optimization opportunities:

Is Your Website Optimized for Maximum Usability?

The more visitors you can attract to your website, the more opportunities you’ll have to generate leads and, ultimately, customers. But only if your website performs well.

As I’m sure you can imagine, just having a website does not guarantee results. As part of determining the overall efficiency of your website, your audit should check to make sure your site is designed with your visitors in mind. The design and overall navigability of your website should correspond with what a person would come to the site to seek out, such as more information on a business-related topic, resources, product/pricing information, testimonials, etc. This will largely depend on your individual business.

The main goal here is to make it easy for people to get to the information they’re looking for. As a result, you’ll likely see conversion rates improve on their own.

To audit your website for usability, consider the following:

  • Are all the main value propositions of our business easily accessible via our main navigations/menu items?
  • Do we have a simple yet intuitive website design and page layout? Make sure pages aren’t too cluttered; littered with ads, CTAs, or links; or void of internal links altogether.
  • Are your conversion paths and/or shopping cart or checkout processes intuitive? Are there a ton of distractions along the way that could be creating friction for your site visitors?

You might also consider doing some user testing with members of your target audience to ensure you’re effectively surfacing the content they’re looking for, and that they find it easy to navigate to the parts of your website they’re interested in.

How Is Your Website’s Overall Speed?

Are there excessive page sizes and/or long page load and server response times? Does your site go down frequently? Site speed can be impacted when image files are too large or HTML and CSS needs to be cleaned up, all of which can drastically improve your site speed.

Ultimately, fast-loading and optimized pages will lead to higher visitor engagement, retention, and conversions. To quickly check a web page’s load time, download MozBar, a toolbar by Moz that you can attach to your browser for simple page analysis every time you visit a website.

2. SEO Assessment

Optimizing the performance of your website is crucial to holding onto visitors, but the above question isn’t the only one you should be asking. You should also audit the content you’re publishing to ensure it’s actually solving your visitors’ problems.

Is Your Website Content High Quality?

As you evaluate your content for quality, think about it from your target audience’s perspective. Did this information leave me satisfied? Did it answer all of my questions? Does it give me all the resources relevant to this topic? Do I know what to do next?

Keep in mind quality content should appeal to the interests, needs, and problems of your buyer personas; be interesting and well-written, provide valuable, thorough and detailed information about a particular topic; and leave the reader with next steps (such as calls-to-action, links to resources, etc.).

If you’re still not sure if your content is high quality, evaluate it with this checklist:” How to Tell if Your Marketing Content Is Actually Valuable.”

Is Your Website Search Engine Optimized?

Make sure all your web pages are following on-page SEO best practices. To audit your content for on-page SEO, conduct a keyword analysis in which you do the following:

  • Consult your analytics to review keyword performance. Which keywords are giving you the biggest gains in traffic and leads?
  • Assess how well you’re factoring keyword performance into your content strategy. How much relevant content are you adding to your website to target those keywords?
  • Review basic on-page SEO elements like URLs, page titles, meta description, and copy. Make sure keywords are included where relevant.

To help you conduct an on-page SEO audit of your content, read the “Step-by-Step Guide to Flawless On-Page SEO,” which also includes a free downloadable on-page SEO template to keep you on track.

3. Conversion Rate Assessment

While high-quality, search engine optimized content is a great way to boost your traffic numbers, it’s what happens once those visitors are on your website that really counts. Unless of course, you don’t care about conversions (ha!).

Is Your Website Optimized for Lead Generation and Conversions?

This is where optimized calls-to-action (CTAs), marketing offers, and landing pages play a major role in the performance of your website. Not only do they offer you opportunities to capture visitors’ information so you can follow up with leads, but they also keep your visitors engaged with your content and your brand.

To audit your website for maximum conversion potential, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many marketing offers do I have in my content arsenal to gate behind landing pages?
  • Do I have a variety of marketing offers that appeal to all my different buyer personas?
  • Do I have any landing pages/conversion forms on my website to begin with?
  • How optimized are those landing pages?
  • Do I have conversion opportunities for visitors in varying stages of the funnel?
  • Am I using calls-to-action effectively? Am I missing opportunities to include calls-to-action on various pages of my website?

To learn more about CTA selection, check out our post, ” How to Select the Right CTA for Every Page on Your Website.”

4. Technical Assessment

Once you’ve addressed the three primary goals of a website audit, it’s time to loop in a developer or someone from your IT department for a technical evaluation. You could also hire an outside agency — just be sure to do your homework first.

Keep in mind that there may be some carry-over from the three assessments above — website performance, SEO, and conversion rate. The technical evaluation, however, addresses all three to maximize the user experience (UX).

Here’s what you should be looking for in the technical assessment stage of your website audit …

Is Your Website Design Responsive?

Does your website have a responsive design? Meaning, is it a mobile-friendly website? The usage of smartphones to access the internet is only growing. As of 2017, mobile devices account for half of all web page views worldwide. As a result, websites must be compatible with that growing demand.

For more on mobile compatibility, check out our “Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering Mobile Marketing.”

Is Your Website Error Message Free?

Are response code errors popping up all over your website where there shouldn’t be any? Calling out 302-, 404-, and 500-level response codes can be useful to tell users that something’s wrong.

However, having this happen is also an indication that someone isn’t cleaning up broken links and, as a result, leading users to dead ends. Find those error messages and clean up your broken links. Tools like Google’s Webmaster Tools or Xenu’s Link Sleuth can be very helpful for this.

Are Your Website URLs Optimized?

Does your site have URLs of excessive length due to keyword stuffing? Do they contain session IDs and/or include tons of dynamic parameters? In some cases, these URLs are difficult for search engines to index and result in lower clickthrough rates from search results.

Learn more about SEO-friendly URL syntax practices in this helpful post from Search Engine Land.

Does Your Website Have Too Much Flash or JavaScript?

Identify areas of your navigation that are entirely Flash or JavaScript. Search engines have challenges reading and accessing these, which could prevent your site from getting indexed.

Furthermore, these elements present problems from a usability perspective. Visitors are often looking for a very specific piece of information when visiting your site; if they have to sit through a 10-second visual introduction before they can find your hours of operation, you’re going to have a pretty frustrated visitor on your hands.

Is Your Site Structure Optimized for Search Engines?

We already talked about site structure as it relates to accessing content and usability for users, but it’s also important to make sure your site structure is optimal for search engines. If pages on your site are not internally linked to from other pages on your site, those pages are less likely to be indexed.

Learn more about effective site structure for SEO in this Moz article.

Are You Defining How Your Web Pages Are Crawled and Indexed by Search Engines?

This can be done through various methods that include everything from robots files and tags, to sitemaps. These measures are a way for you to guide search engines toward your website’s most useful content.

Robots Files or Tags

The robots meta tag lets you utilize a granular, page-specific approach to controlling how an individual page should be indexed and served to users in search results. These tags should sit in the <head> section of a given page.

The robots.txt file, on the other hand, is a text file that allows you to specify how you would like your site to be crawled. Before crawling a website, search engine crawlers will generally request the robots.txt file from a server. Within the robots.txt file, you can include sections for specific (or all) crawlers with instructions (“directives”) that let them know which parts should or should not be crawled.

Public and XML Sitemaps

Your website should also have public and XML Sitemap files. The public sitemap is one that users can access to review the pages of your site, like the index of a book.

The XML Sitemap is for search engines to review pages that get added to your site, all in one place. The usual location of a sitemap.xml file is https://ift.tt/2kf16Lq. The XML Sitemap is something every website should have; it offers an opportunity to tell Google and the other search engines what pages on your site you want to be crawled and indexed.

While search engines don’t guarantee they will abide by your sitemap, anecdotal evidence has proven time and time again that XML Sitemaps help provide insurance that your pages are found, and found faster — especially if your sitemap(s) dynamically update your new web pages.

Are You Defining Canonicalization of Content?

The canonicalization of your website content is the final major technical consideration to make. To gain more control over how your URLs appear in search results, and to minimize issues related to duplicate content, it’s recommended that you pick a canonical (preferred) URL as the preferred version of the page.

You can indicate your preference to Google in a number of ways. One such way is to set the Canonical Tag (rel=”canonical”) in an HTTP header of a page. Be sure to have someone check that the Canonical Tag is properly implemented across the site by making sure it points to the correct page, and that every page doesn’t point to the homepage.

It’s important to establish an audit framework early on. Ask yourself questions ideally centered around gauging “How am I doing?” These questions may also include things like, “How does this compare to others, especially my competitors?”

Website audits aren’t easy, especially if you’re not totally tech-savvy. For additional resources, check out this article by Distilled, which highlights a list of tools to use as you conduct your technical audit; as well as this complete site audit checklist by SEER.

I also recommend passing the Google Webmaster’s Guide along to anyone implementing this kind of work.

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45% of People Trust Facebook Even Less After the Zuckerberg Hearings [New Data]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before U.S. lawmakers earlier this month seems to have done little to restore trust in the company.

According to a HubSpot survey of 300 U.S. internet users, only 12% of people trust Facebook more than they did before Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings.

In fact, the results indicate that nearly half of the respondents (45%) trust Facebook even less than they did before the testimony, with 28% reporting that they have “much less” faith in the company now.

Just under half of the respondents (43%) report that their trust in Facebook has stayed the same.

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While the extent to which the respondents viewed the hearings isn’t immediately clear, these findings do align with recent data from Blind, an anonymous workplace app for tech company employees.

After the Zuckerberg hearings, Blind app users were asked if they’ve deleted Facebook since original revelations about the misuse of personal data by consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. We previously reported on an earlier Blind survey indicating that 31% of tech workers said they would delete Facebook.

According to this most recent survey, however, 13.7% of Blind app users said they did, in fact, delete Facebook, with 23.6% reporting that they restricted their privacy settings.

Did-you-delete-facebook-infographic-576x1000

Source: Blind

“Trust was a recurring theme at these hearings, so it’s no surprise that trust in the company has taken a hit in the days and weeks since Zuckerberg’s testimony,” says Henry Franco, HubSpot’s social campaign strategy associate. “Regardless of where they stood on the political spectrum, most Senators and Representatives seemed to agree that Facebook had its work cut out for it in winning back its users’ trust, and even Zuckerberg seemed to recognize as much.”

Prior to the hearings, HubSpot conducted research on the general levels of trust in a number of well-known brands — both within tech and other consumer sectors — and their CEOs. In that survey of 2,319 consumers in the U.S. and UK, Facebook ranked third-to-last in trust among 13 brands, with 27% of respondents calling the company trustworthy. 

trust in brands-1

When asked the same question about CEOs, Zuckerberg ranked fifth-to-last, with 20% of respondents identifying him as trustworthy.

trust in CEOs-1

What’s interesting about these findings is that the tech industry itself doesn’t appear to be highly lacking consumer trust — at least prior to the hearings, that is. The top-ranking companies are Netflix, Amazon, and Microsoft, with over half of survey respondents indicating that they find the brands trustworthy.

Where there’s less faith, it seems, is in the leadership. Even though 57% of respondents would describe Amazon as trustworthy, only 37% would say the same of its CEO, Jeff Bezos.

That could at least partially explain why Zuckerberg’s hearings did no favors for public trust in Facebook. Given that faith in some executives is already less than that in the brands they lead, it makes sense that his testimony — which left many questions largely unanswered — would chip away at Facebook’s brand trust rather than bolster it, especially in the wake of an existing scandal.

The hearings didn’t end there, however. Tomorrow, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan — the Cambridge University professor behind the data-harvesting app who eventually sold personal user information to Cambridge Analytica — will testify before UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

On Thursday, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer will also testify before that committee, despite Zuckerberg’s presence being requested by Members of Parliament more than once.

That same day, in the U.S., the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the “filtering practices of social media platforms.” Representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been invited to testify, though none have yet confirmed.

How or if these events will continue to shape consumer trust in social media remains to be seen — though earning that trust, it seems, is a long-tail game.

“To win back trust, they’re going to need time, a grand gesture, some period without making any serious mistakes,” says Franco. “Or some combination of the three.”

Featured image credit: “Yesterday’s news & waiting for today’s news to show up. Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data hearing, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC” by Lorie Shaull, used under CC BY / Cropped from original

7 Cover Letter Examples That Got Something Right

Let’s face it: A job search is, typically, anything but fun.

It’s almost as if it carries its own five stages of grief. At first, there’s denial of its demoralizing nature. Then comes the anger over either radio silence or rejection from prospective employers. Of course, there’s bargaining — “I promise to never complain about work again, if I can find a new job!”

That’s often followed by depression, and the idea that one is simply just unhireable. Then, there’s acceptance: “This is awful, but I have to keep trying, anyway.”

But we have good news. It is possible to have a little fun with your job search — and maybe even make yourself a better candidate in the process. The magic, it turns out, could be in your cover letter.

It may be true that only 26% of recruiters have deemed cover letters important, but that doesn’t mean yours has to contribute to that statistic. In fact, it might be that cover letters are deemed insignificant because so few of them stand out. Here’s an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity at the earliest stage of the recruitment process.

Personalization, after all, goes beyond replacing the title and company name in each letter you send to recruiters. Download our free guide here for more interviewing and screening tips to build  your team.

What does that look like in practice, and how can you make your cover letter stand out? We found six examples from job seekers who decided to do things a bit differently.

Note: Some of these cover letters contain real company names and NSFW language that we’ve covered up.

7 Creative Cover Letter Examples

1. The Short-and-Sweet Cover Letter

In 2009, David Silverman penned an article for Harvard Business Review titled, “The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received.” That letter contained three complete sentences, as follows:

Short and sweet cover letter example
Source: Harvard Business Review

One might argue that this particular letter is less than outstanding. It’s brief, to say the least, and the author doesn’t go into a ton of detail about what makes him or her qualified for the job in question. But that’s what Silverman likes about it — the fact that the applicant only included the pieces of information that would matter the most to the recipient.

“The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me,” writes Silverman. “Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on.”

When you apply for a job, start by determining two things:

  1. Who might oversee the role — that’s often included in the description, under “reports to.” Address your letter to that individual.
  2. Figure out what problems this role is meant to solve for that person. Then, concisely phrase in your cover letter how and why your experience can and will resolve those problems.

The key here is research — by looking into who you’ll be reporting to and learning more about that person’s leadership style, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your cover letter to focus on how you provide solutions for her. Not sure how to learn more about a leader’s personality? Check out any content she shares on social media, or use Growthbot’s Personality Profile feature.

2. The Brutally Honest Cover Letter

Then, there are the occasions when your future boss might appreciate honesty — in its purest form. Livestream CEO Jesse Hertzberg, by his own admission, is one of those people, which might be why he called this example “the best cover letter” (which he received while he was with Squarespace):

Brutally honest cover letter example
Source: Title Needed

As Hertzberg says in the blog post elaborating on this excerpt — it’s not appropriate for every job or company. But if you happen to be sure that the corporate culture of this prospective employer gets a kick out of a complete lack of filter, then there’s a chance that the hiring manager might appreciate your candor.

“Remember that I’m reading these all day long,” Hertzberg writes. “You need to quickly convince me I should keep reading. You need to stand out.”

3. The Cover Letter That Explains ‘Why,’ Not Just ‘How’

We’ve already covered the importance of addressing how you’ll best execute a certain role in your cover letter. But there’s another question you might want to answer: Why the heck do you want to work here?

The Muse, a career guidance site, says that it’s often best to lead with the why — especially if it makes a good story. We advise against blathering on and on, but a brief tale that illuminates your desire to work for that particular employer can really make you stand out.

Why Example.png
Source: The Muse

Here’s another instance of the power of personalization. The author of this cover letter clearly has a passion for this prospective employer — the Chicago Cubs — and if she’s lying about it, well, that probably would eventually be revealed in an interview.

Make sure your story is nonfiction, and relatable according to each job. While we love a good tale of childhood baseball games, an introduction like this one probably wouldn’t be fitting in a cover letter for, say, a software company. But a story of how the hours you spent playing with DOS games as a kid led to your passion for coding? Sure, we’d find that fitting.

If you’re really passionate about a particular job opening, think about where that deep interest is rooted. Then, tell your hiring manager about it in a few sentences.

4. The Straw (Wo)man Cover Letter

When I was in the throes of my own job search and reached one of the later stages, a friend said to me, “For the next job you apply for, you should just submit a picture of yourself a stick figure that somehow represents you working there.”

Et voilà:

Funny illustration cover letter by Amanda Zantal-Wiener

I never did end up working for the recipient of this particular piece of art, but it did result in an interview. Again, be careful where you send a cover letter like this one — if it doesn’t match the company’s culture, it might be interpreted as you not taking the opportunity seriously.

Be sure to pair it with a little bit of explanatory text, too. For example, when I submitted this picture-as-a-cover letter, I also wrote, “Perhaps I took the ‘sense of humor’ alluded to in your job description a bit too seriously.”

5. The Overconfident Cover Letter

I’ll admit that I considered leaving out this example. It’s rife with profanity, vanity, and arrogance. But maybe, in some settings, that’s the right way to do a cover letter.

A few years ago, Huffington Post published this note as an example of how to “get noticed” and “get hired for your dream job”:

Overconfident cover letter example
Source: Huffington Post

Here’s the thing: if the Aviary cited in this letter is the same Aviary I researched upon discovering it, then, well, I’m not sure this tone was the best approach. I read the company’s blog and looked at the careers site, and neither one indicates that the culture encourages this — or lowercasing proper nouns like “Google,” for which I personally cannot forgive the applicant …

However, Aviary was acquired by Adobe in 2014, and this letter was written in 2011. So while it’s possible that the brand was a bit more relaxed at that time, we wouldn’t suggest submitting a letter with that tone to the company today. That’s not to say it would go unappreciated elsewhere — Doug Kessler frequently discusses the marketers and brands that value colorful language, for example.

The point is, this example further illustrates the importance of research. Make sure you understand the culture of the company to which you’re applying before you send a completely unfiltered cover letter — if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll completely miss the mark.

6. The Interactive Cover Letter

When designer Rachel McBee applied for a job with the Denver Broncos, she didn’t just write a personalized cover letter — she designed an entire digital, interactive microsite:

Source: Rachel McBee

This cover letter — if you can even call it that — checks off all of the boxes we’ve discussed here in a remarkable way. It concisely addresses and organizes what many hiring managers hope to see in any cover letter: how her skills lend themselves to the role, why she wants the job, and how to contact her.

She even includes a “traditional” body of text at the bottom, with a form that allows the reader to easily get in touch with her.

7. The ‘We’re Meant for Each Other’ Cover Letter

This last cover letter example is a special one because it was submitted to us here at HubSpot. What does the letter do well? It makes a connection with us before we’ve even met the letter’s author.

We're meant for each other cover letter submitted to HubSpot

“Content Marketing Certified” indicates the applicant has taken the content marketing certification course in our HubSpot Academy (you can take the same course here). Our “records” indicate he/she did indeed give an interview with us before — and was a HubSpot customer. 

The cover letter sang references to a relationship we didn’t even know we had with the candidate.

The letter ends with a charming pitch for why, despite him/her not getting hired previously, our interests complement each other this time around.

(Yes, the applicant was hired). 

Take Cover

We’d like to add a sixth stage to the job search: experimentation.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s so easy to feel defeated, less-than-good-enough, or like giving up your job search. But don’t let the process become so monotonous. Have fun discovering the qualitative data we’ve discussed here — then, have even more by getting creative with your cover letter composition.

We certainly can’t guarantee that every prospective employer will respond positively — or at all — to even the most unique, compelling cover letter. But the one that’s right for you will. That’s why it’s important not to copy these examples. That defeats the purpose of personalization.

So get creative. And, by the way — we’re hiring.

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