How to Start a Competitive Analysis: 57 Questions You Need to Ask [Free Kit]

When was the last time you ran a competitive analysis for your brand?

If you’re not sure, or if the last “analysis” you ran was a quick perusal of a competitor’s website and social media presence, you’re likely missing out on important intelligence that could help your brand grow.

To help you get started with competitive analysis the right way, we’re breaking down everything you’ll want to look for below.

Download the full competitive analysis kit from HubSpot and Alexa.com here.

Every brand can benefit from regular competitor analysis. By performing a competitor analysis, you’ll be able to: 

  • Identify gaps in the market
  • Develop new products and services
  • Uncover market trends
  • Market and sell more effectively

As you can see, learning any of these four components will lead your brand down the path of achievement. But before you get too excited to start, we need to nail down a few important basics.

How to Identify Your True Competition

First, you’ll need to figure out who you’re really competing with so you can compare the data accurately. What works in a business similar to yours may not work for your brand.

So how can you do this?

Divide your “competitors” into two categories: direct and indirect.

Direct competitors are businesses that offer a product or service that could pass as a similar substitute for yours, and that operate in your same geographic area.

On the flip side, an indirect competitor is one that provides products that are not the same but could satisfy the same customer need or solve the same problem.

It seems simple enough on paper, but these two terms are often misused.

When comparing your brand, you should only focus on your direct competitors. This is something many brands get wrong.

Let’s use an example: Stitch Fix and Fabletics are both subscription-based services that sell clothes on a monthly basis and serve a similar target audience.

But as we look deeper, we can see that the actual product (clothes in this case) are not really the same; one brand focuses on stylish everyday outfits while the other is workout-centric attire only.

Yes, these brands satisfy the same need for women (having trendy clothes delivered right to their doorstep each month), but they do so with completely different types of clothing, making them indirect competitors.

This means Kate Hudson’s team at Fabletics would not want to spend their time studying Stitch Fix too closely since their audiences probably vary quite a bit. Even if it’s only slightly, this tiny variation is enough to make a big difference.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should toss your indirect competitors out the window completely.

Keep these brands on your radar since they could shift positions at any time and cross over into the direct competitor zone. Using our example, Stitch Fix could start a workout line, which would certainly change things for Fabletics.

This is also one of the reasons why you’ll want to routinely run a competitor analysis. The market can and will shift at anytime, and if you’re not constantly scoping it out, you won’t be aware of these changes until it’s too late.

What Exactly Are We Comparing?

Once you identify your true competition, you’ll need to determine what metrics you’ll be comparing across the board.

There are three specific categories to focus on: business (the products), sales, and marketing.

Business (Products)

At the heart of any business is its product or service, which is what makes this a good place to start.

You’ll want to analyze your competitor’s complete product line and the quality of the products or services they’re offering.

You should also take note of their pricing and any discounts they’re offering customers.

Some questions to consider include:

  • Are they a low-cost or high-cost provider?
  • Are they working mainly volume sales or one-o purchases?
  • What is their market share?
  • What are characteristics and needs of their ideal customers?
  • Are they using different pricing strategies for online purchases versus brick and mortar?
  • How does the company differentiate itself from its competitors?
  • How do they distribute their products/services?

Sales

Running a sales analysis of your competitors can be a bit tricky.

You’ll want to track down the answers to questions such as:

  • What does the sales process look like?
  • What channels are they selling through?
  • Do they have multiple locations and how does this give them an advantage?
  • Are they expanding? Scaling down?
  • Do they have partner reselling programs?
  • What are their customers reasons for not buying? For ending their relationship with the company?
  • What are their revenues each year? What about total sales volume?
  • Do they regularly discount their products or services?
  • How involved is a salesperson in the process?

These helpful pieces of information will give you an idea of how competitive the sales process is, and what information you need to prepare your sales reps with to compete during the final buy stage.

For publicly held companies, you can find annual reports online, but you’ll have to do some sleuthing to find this info from privately owned businesses.

You could find some of this information by searching through your CRM and reaching out to those customers who mentioned they were considering your competitor. Find out what made them choose your product or service over others out there.

To do this, run a report that shows all prospective deals where there was an identified competitor.

If this data is not something you currently record, talk to marketing and sales to implement a system where prospects are questioned about the other companies they are considering.

Essentially, they’ll need to ask their leads (either through a form field or during a one- on-one sales conversation) to identify who their current service providers are, who they’ve used in the past, and who else they are considering during the buying process.

When a competitor is identified, have your sales team dive deeper by asking why they are considering switching to your product. If you’ve already lost the deal, be sure to follow up the with prospect to determine why you lost to your competitor. What services or features attracted the prospect? Was it about price? What’s the prospect’s impression of your sales process? If they’ve already made the switch, find out why they made this decision.

By asking open-ended questions, you’ll have honest feedback about what customers find appealing about your brand and what might be turning customers away.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start scoping out your competitor’s marketing efforts.

Marketing

Analyzing your competitor’s website is the fastest way to gauge their marketing efforts. Take note of any of the following items and copy down the specific URL for future reference:

  • Do they have a blog?
  • Are they creating whitepapers or ebooks?
  • Do they post videos or webinars?
  • Do they have a podcast?
  • Are they using static visual content such as infographics and cartoons?
  • What about slide decks?
  • Do they have a FAQs section?
  • Are there featured articles?
  • Do you see press releases?
  • Do they have a media kit?
  • What about case studies?
  • Do they publish buying guides and data sheets?
  • What online and offine advertising campaigns are they running?

Then, take a look at the quantity of these items. Do they have several hundred blog posts or a small handful? Are there five white papers and just one ebook?

Next, determine the frequency of these content assets. Are they publishing something new each week or once a month? How often does a new ebook or case study come out?

Chances are, if you come across a robust archive of content, your competitor has been publishing regularly. Depending on the topics they’re discussing, this content may help you hone in on their lead generating strategies.

From there, you should move on to evaluating the quality of their content. After all, if the quality is lacking, it won’t matter how often they post since their target audience won’t find much value there.

Choose a small handful of samples to review instead of tackling every single piece to make the process more manageable.

Your sampler should include content pieces covering a variety of topics so you’ll have a fairly complete picture of what your competitor shares with their target audience.

When analyzing your competitor’s content, consider the following questions:

  • How accurate is their content?
  • Are spelling or grammar errors present?
  • How in-depth does their content go? (Is it introductory level that just scratches the surface or more advanced topics with high-level ideas?)
  • What tone do they use?
  • Is the content structured for readability? (Are they using bullet points, bold headings, and numbered lists?)
  • Is their content free and available to anyone or do their readers need to opt-in?
  • Who is writing their content? (In-house team? One person? Multiple contributors?)
  • Is there a visible byline or bio attached to their articles?

As you continue to scan the content, pay attention to the photos and imagery your competitors are using.

Do you quickly scroll past generic stock photos or are you impressed by custom illustrations and images? If theyre using stock photos, do they at least have overlays of text quotes or calls-to- action that are specific to their business?

If their photos are custom, are they sourced from outside graphic professionals or do they appear to be done in-house?

When you have a solid understanding of your competitor’s content marketing strategy, it’s time to find out if it’s truly working for them.

Content Engagement

To gauge how engaging your competitor’s content is to their readers, you’ll need to see how their target audience responds to what they’re posting.

Check the average number of comments, shares, and likes on your competitor’s content and find out if:

  • Certain topics resonate better than others
  • The comments are negative, positive, or a mix
  • People are tweeting about specific topics more than others
  • Readers respond better to Facebook updates about certain content
  • Don’t forget to note if your competitor categorizes their content using tags, and if they have social media follow and share buttons attached to each piece of content. Both of these will a ect engagement activity.

Content Promotion

From engagement, you’ll move right along to your competitor’s content promotion strategy.

  • Keyword density in the copy itself
  • Image ALT text tags
  • Use of internal linking

The following questions can also help you prioritize and focus on what to pay attention to:

  • Which keywords are your competitors focusing on that you still haven’t tapped into?
  • What content of theirs is highly shared and linked to? How does your content compare?
  • Which social media platforms is your target audience using and the most active on?
  • What other sites are linking back to your competitor’s site, but not yours?
  • Who else is sharing what your competitors are publishing?
  • Who is referring traffic to your competitor’s site?
  • For the keywords you want to focus on, what is the diffculty level? There are several free (and paid) tools that will give you a comprehensive evaluation of your competitor’s search engine optimization.

Social Media Presence

The last area you’ll want to evaluate when it comes to marketing is your competitor’s social media presence and engagement rates.

How does your competition drive engagement with their brand through social media? Do you see social sharing buttons with each article? Does your competitor have links to their social media channels in the header, footer, or somewhere else? Are these clearly visible? Do they use calls-to-action with these buttons?

If your competitors are using a social network that you may not be on, it’s worth learning more about how that platform may be able to help your business, too. To determine if a new social media platform is worth your time, check your competitor’s engagement rates on those sites. First, visit the following sites to see if your competition has an account on these platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest

Then, take note of the following quantitative items from each platform:

  • Number of fans/followers
  • Posting frequency and consistency
  • Content engagement (Are users leaving comments or sharing their posts?)
  • Content virality (How many shares, repins, and retweets do their posts get?)

With the same critical eye you used to gauge your competition’s content marketing strategy, take a fine-toothed comb to analyze their social media strategy.

What kind of content are they posting? Are they more focused on driving people to landing pages, resulting in new leads? Or are they posting visual content to promote engagement and brand awareness?

How much of this content is original? Do they share curated content from other sources? Are these sources regular contributors? What is the overall tone of the content?

How does your competition interact with their followers? How frequently do their followers interact with their content?

After you collect this data, generate an overall grade for the quality of your competitor’s content. This will help you compare the rest of your competitors using a similar grading scale.

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats)

As you evaluate each component in your competitor analysis (business, sales, and marketing), get into the habit of performing a simplified SWOT analysis at the same time.
This means you’ll take note of your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats any time you assess an overall grade.

Some questions to get you started include:

  • What is your competitor doing really well with? (Products, content marketing, social
    media, etc.)
  • Where does your competitor have the advantage over your brand?
  • What is the weakest area for your competitor?
  • Where does your brand have the advantage over your competitor?
  • What could they do better with?
  • In what areas would you consider this competitor as a threat?
  • Are there opportunities in the market that your competitor has identified?

You’ll be able to compare their weaknesses against your strengths and vice versa. By doing this, you can better position your company, and you’ll start to uncover areas for improvement within your own brand.

How Does Your Business Currently Stack Up?

Before you accurately compare your competition, you need to establish a baseline. This also helps when it comes time to perform a SWOT analysis.

Take an objective look at your business, sales, and marketing e orts through the same metrics you use to evaluate your competition.

Record this information just like you would with a competitor and use this as your baseline to compare across the board.

Ready to get started with the full ebook and template? Click here to access the complete Competitive Analysis Kit. 

New Call-to-action

The Definition of a Buyer Persona [in Under 100 Words]

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.

Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.

Ready to put this definition into practice? Learn how to create a detailed buyer persona for your business.

free buyer persona creation template

How to Make an Instagram Story Like a Pro

These days, social media is all about documentation.

Where you go, what you eat and drink, who you see, and what’s most memorable: These are the typical fodder of Instagram Stories — seconds-long glimpses of people’s lives, shared on Instagram for only 24 hours.

The Instagram Story feature allows Instagram users to share photos and videos to their “Story” — which is visible to followers of the user’s Instagram account — and to specific users the Story’s sender follows. Like in Snapchat, Instagram Stories are ephemeral, meaning they vanish after 24 hours. Stories are published separately from the photos and videos found in the tiled gallery of one’s Instagram profile.

You might know the basics of sharing Instagram Stories, but there are hidden tools within the app that can make the photos and videos you share more creative and more engaging.Download 25 free Instagram templates to increase engagement and elevate your  presence. 

Below, we’ve created this guide to how to share Instagram Stories, and how to make those Stories are compelling and cool as possible. In this post, we’ll cover:

  • Why Share Instagram Stories in the First Place
  • How to Post Instagram Stories (The Basics)
  • Instagram Stories Tricks and Hacks for Awesome Instagram Stories

25-Free-Insta-Templates-1

Why Share Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories can drive a ton of engagement and value — whether you’re sharing a Story from a brand account or your own personal profile.

Since launching back in August 2016, a total of 250 million Instagram users have started sharing disappearing content on Instagram Stories — contributing to the huge jump in time spent in-app every day from 24 minutes to 32.

What’s more, a lot of brands have already seen success publishing content to this platform. Instagram Stories have fueled the growth of brands like Teen Vogue, Insider, and Bustle. Whether publishers are trying to grow brand awareness, grow traffic to videos or newsletter outside of Instagram, or share sponsored content, publishers are flocking to Instagram to publish fun disappearing content that infuses brand voice and personality without taking up too much of the average techie’s dwindling attention span.

What’s more, Instagram Stories are credited with fueling the massive growth of Instagram Direct — private one-to-one messaging between users within the app. Instagram Direct has grown into one of the most popular messaging apps in the world with a staggering 375 million users. Even more impressive, TechCrunch reports that one in five Instagram Stories shared by a brand receives a Direct reply — giving brands a direct line to connect with their audience and learn more about them.

You can make Instagram Stories this successful too — but it requires a few more hacks and tips to make them look like the Stories big brands and influencers share. (Some of my favorite Instagram Stories are shared by chef Chloe Coscarelli, actress Busy Phillips, mattress brand Casper, and interior design app Hutch — and don’t forget to check out HubSpot‘s Instagram Stories, either.)

But first, let’s review the basics of how to share an Instagram Story:

1. Open Instagram, and tap the camera icon in the upper left-hand corner of your phone.

Step 1, using the camera icon to make a story on Instagram

2. Share a photo or video you’ve already captured by swiping up on your screen to browse your gallery.

Disclosure: Yes, I did a photoshoot featuring my cats. Can you blame me though?

Step 2, browsing photos to make a Story on Instagram

3. Or, choose a camera lens to capture a photo or video in the app.

Step 3, choosing a camera lens to make a story on Instagram

You have a few different options to choose from:

1. Live

If you toggle your screen to the “Live” option, you’ll start filming and broadcasting live on Instagram. Like Facebook Live, friends can follow along and leave comments, and when you’re done with the broadcast, you’ll have the option to let the video disappear, save it, or share it Instagram Stories for an additional 24 hours.

2. Normal

It means what it says: Tapping once will capture a photo, and holding down will record a video. Instagram Stories can be 15 seconds in length, so if you want to share a video that’s longer, film in 15-second stints, or use CutStory to split your longer clip into 15-second installments.

3. Boomerang

Boomerang mode films looping GIFs up to three seconds in length.

4. Superzoom

Superzoom is, on the surface, a video recording lens that zooms in closer and closer on your subject. But turn up the volume, and you can use Superzoom to create a dramatic soundtrack to accompany your video.

As my friend Marissa put it, “It’s like it’s BUILT for cats.”

5. Rewind

Use the rewind lens to film a video in reverse.

6. Stop Motion

Use this lens to film cool stop-motion videos: several different still images woven together in one seamless video. Think of it like the video version of a flip book (like this example below):

7. Hands-Free

Use hands-free mode if you want to set up your camera to film a video for you. Make sure you prop it somewhere stable before you call “Action.” We’ll talk more about this feature in a minute.

4. Once you’ve edited your photo or video, tap “Your Story,” or tap “Next” to share it to your Story and to other friends at the same time.

You can also save your edited photo or video to your gallery by tapping “Save” in the lower left-hand corner.

Step 4, tapping "Next" or "Your Story" to make a Story on Instagram

Now that you know the basics, let’s run through tips and hacks for producing high-quality, clickable Instagram Stories.

11 Instagram Story Tricks and Hacks

1. Use stickers.

Once you’ve captured a great photo or video, it’s time to jazz it up with some fun stickers. You can access these by tapping the smiling sticker icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen once you’ve captured a photo or video — or swipe up from the bottom of your screen.

Swipe up to use stickers in your Instagram Story

Change the size of your stickers.

You can pinch the sticker once you’ve added to your story to increase or decrease its size. You can also tap and drag it around the frame to change its position.

Big sticker that says "Yasss" to add to your Instagram Story

Check stickers every day for new and unique ones.

Instagram releases unique Story stickers often — whether it’s Monday, a holiday, or a season. Check this section every day for new and timely stickers to add to your Story.

Thanksgiving sticker in an Instagram Story

Add location, hashtag, poll, and selfie stickers.

Boost the engagement on your Instagram Story by opening it up to other people doing the same things you are. Open up the stickers section, and tap any of these buttons to customize your story:

Location, hashtag, and poll sticker options to add to an Instagram Story

Location Stickers

Start typing in wherever you are, and you’ll be able to pull in a geographically-specific sticker to show where you are.

Setting a location for your Instagram Story

When people view your Story, they’ll be able to tap the location sticker and see other photos and Stories happening around the same place.

Instagram Stories posted with the location Boston Common

Hashtag Stickers

Same concept here: If you add this sticker and type in a hashtag, your Story will appear in searches for that hashtag, and viewers will be able to click it and see who else is using it. #MotivationMonday, amirite?

Instagram hashtag sticker that says #caturday

Poll Stickers

You can add a two-option poll to your Instagram Story, and you can even customize the possible answers so they’re more unique than “Yes” or “No.” Use a poll sticker to gauge if people are really engaging with your content.

Poll sticker in an Instagram Story

Selfie Stickers

Open up the Stickers menu, and tap on the camera icon.

Select the selfie sticker to add to your Instagram Story

Then, take a selfie — or take a picture of anyone else’s face (that will work too). Then, you can use that face to decorate your Instagram Story. Somewhat creepy, but very memorable and funny, too.

Instagram photo of a black cat with selfie sticker

2. Record a hands-free Instagram video.

If you’re a frequent video-recorder on Instagram, you know you need to hold your thumb against the record button for as long as you’re recording. This can make it tedious when attempting dynamic and interesting videos that require more hand mobility.

But did you know you can record these videos “hands-free“?

Hands Free video option in an Instagram Story

The hands-free video feature can be found in the carousel of camera lens options beneath the record button, as shown above. Simply tap the record button once to start the video, and again to stop it after you’ve gotten the footage you want.

3. Let viewers share your Stories.

Increase engagement and views of your Instagram Story by letting viewers share them with their friends — as Direct Messages.

Go to your profile, tap the gear icon, and navigate to “Story Settings.”

Story Settings button on Instagram

Toggle on “Allow Sharing” so viewers can DM your Story to friends to increase your audience reach. Voila!

Allow Sharing option on Instagram

4. Use the pen.

Use the pen to add embellishment, symbols, or more text to your Story. If you tap the pen icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen once you’ve captured a photo or video, you’ll open up your options.

Various color pen options in instagram

From there, you can adjust the thickness of your pen stroke or change the color you’re writing with (more on that later).

I like using the highlighter pen (the third option) to add emphasis to words — or even the highlight of my photo or video.

Instagram Story drawing that reads "Ta-da!" with a blue pen and red background

5. Add a background color.

If you want to share a Story with a background color — like the images I’ve shared above — you can actually select it from the color palette.

Take a picture (it doesn’t have to be a picture of anything in particular), and then tap the pen icon to open up the color palette. (Here’s Leela again — my unwitting cat model.)

Add a background color to your Instagram Story

You can choose one of the colors from the three available menus, or if you want a specific shade of one of those colors, you can open up the full color spectrum by pressing and holding one of the colors.

colors2.png

Then, scribble anywhere on the screen, and hold your finger down until you get the background color you want to appear.

Orange pen added to Instagram Story of a black cat Orange color setting in Instagram

If you want to get really crazy, you could use the eraser tool (the fourth option) to create new words or shapes from the background, too.

Orange background added to Instagram Story of a black cat

6. Mention another Instagram account in your Story.

Sometimes, it’s just not enough to send an Instagram Story to a particular person — you need to give them a shoutout in the photo or video itself. In these cases, Instagram allows you to tag up to 10 specific handles directly in your Story’s photo or video.

To mention an Instagram account in your Story, shoot a photo or video and then tap the square “A” icon in the upper righthand corner of the screen. Enter the account you’d like to tag, starting with the “@” symbol and the account’s first letter. Scroll through the suggested accounts that appear below your cursor until you find the account you have in mind, and tap it. See what these options look like below.

Instagram Story mentioning another account in a photo

Once you post this Story, the person or account you’ve tagged in the photo or video will receive a notification of your shoutout, regardless of whether or not you send the Story to them.

7. Make your text funkier.

The text on Instagram Stories is pretty basic — jazz it up with these tricks.

Customize your colors.

If you’re unsatisfied with the color palette Instagram offers, create your own from one of the colors in the photo or video you’ve captured.

Open up the text icon, and tap the eyedropper icon in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.

Dropper icon to change custom color of Instagram Story text

Use the dropper to sample a color from somewhere in the image you’ve captured, and use it when typing out text or using the pen tool.

Dropper icon set to black in Instagram

Add a drop shadow to your Story’s text.

If you want to add some extra drama to your text, add highlighting or shadowing by retyping or rewriting your text in a different color. I recommend choosing black or white to add emphasis to a bright color you’ve picked. Then, move the text above or underneath the brighter text to add some drama to your words.

Instagram Story of Leela the cat Instagram Story of Leela the cat with white shaded text

Turn your text into a rainbow.

This one’s tricky, but you can actually turn your text into a gradient rainbow.

Tap the text icon, and type out your message to add to your Story. Then, highlight your text.

rainbow1.png

This is where it gets tricky: Turn your phone to the side so you can hold one finger down on the right side of your text, and with another finger, tap on a color and hold until the color wheel pops up.

Rainbow color bar in Instagram

Then, slowly drag both fingers across both the text and the color wheel from right to left to create rainbow text. Go slowly, letter by letter until you’ve created a rainbow. (This one took me several tries before I nailed it, and I succeeded using both thumbs to highlight the text and the color wheel.)

Gradually add text to a Story.

Sometimes, you might want to add text or stickers to an image to build on it — perhaps to promote a content offer or event, or to encourage viewers to swipe up to read a link you’ve shared (this is only available to verified accounts).

Start editing the photo you want to share, post it, and save it to your camera roll. Then, swipe up on your screen to add the screenshot to the next installment of your Story — adding new text or stickers on top of the first photo. Keep doing this for as long as you want the Story to last — just make sure to keep taking screenshots of your latest photo so you can add to it.

gradual1.png gradual2.png Instagram Story of Leela the cat with purple and yellow captions and design

8. See who has viewed your Instagram Story.

Snapchat users have always been able to see which of their friends have viewed their snapped Stories over the 24-hour period that the Story is visible. Well, Instagram Stories can do the same thing — in exactly the same way.

To see who has viewed your Instagram Story, navigate to the homepage of Instagram on your phone and click on the circular icon denoting your Story. See what this looks like in the screenshot below.

instagram-story-homeImage by Mari Smith

Click on “Your Story” from the Instagram home screen and swipe up from the bottom of your open Story. This will pull up a list of all the accounts that have viewed this content.

Seeing who’s viewed your Story might be an ego boost to personal Instagrammers, but business users can learn a lot about what their followers are interested in this way. By looking at which users view which Stories, you can figure out which types of photos and videos you should keep posting.

9. Center your text and stickers.

When you’re moving around text and stickers on your story, you’ll see blue lines appear vertically or horizontally in the frame. These are guiding lines you can use to make sure you’re keeping everything centered.

centered1.png centered2.png

Don’t put your text too high or too low on the screen.

That said, make sure you don’t add anything to your Story too high or too low in the frame — or it will be cut off when viewers scroll through your Story, when Instagram adds things like your name and how long ago your story was posted that could block out your carefully-crafted text.

10. Add music to a Story.

This one’s easy: Turn on music using your phone’s native streaming app, and record a video Story. Once you get ready to edit and share, make sure the sound icon isn’t muted so your viewers can jam with you.

Alternatively, if you’d rather your video be muted, tap the sound icon so an “X” appears over it.

unmuted1.png unmuted2.png

11. Upload Instagram Stories from your phone’s camera roll.

Great Instagram Stories aren’t just created through the Instagram app. You can also upload photo and video content from your mobile device’s native camera roll.

To upload a photo or video for use as an Instagram Story, open your Instagram Story’s camera lens and tap the little square icon on the bottom lefthand of the screen. See what this looks like below.

instagram-story-upload-photo

Tapping the icon shown above will call up your phone’s native media gallery, where you can select any photo or video to publish as an Instagram Story. It’s that easy.

We hope these tips help you post killer Instagram Stories your audience won’t be able to stop following. There are lots of hidden ways to take your Stories to the next level — some we may not even have covered here. Our best advice? Keep clicking around and see what you can do with the latest updates from the app. Happy ‘gramming!

Instagram Templates

18 Webinar Hosting Tips to Guarantee Nobody Misses Your Next Webinar

Here at HubSpot, we know a thing or two about webinars. We’ve
set the Guinness World Record for largest online marketing seminar, hosted webinars with partners such as
Facebook,
LinkedIn and
Unbounce, and we’re able to host and promote in-house because of
the modern marketing team we’ve built.

No matter how great the content of your webinar is, though, it doesn’t mean much if there’s nobody there to hear it. So what do you do to ensure people actually, you know … show up?

Turns out, there are at least 18 things you can do to get people aware of, excited about, and attending your next webinar. Here’s a guide to making your next webinar a rousing success.

Download our free webinar checklist here to make sure your next webinar or webcast is a success.

What Is a Webinar/Webcast?

A webinar (also known as a webcast) is a live, online seminar or workshop that’s delivered over the internet. A host — that’s you — organizes the event and invites attendees. The beauty of a virtual event? The host and the attendees can be located anywhere in the world.

The most successful webinars are …

Educational.

Education is one of the most powerful tools you can use to make change happen. Webinars need to have some type of educational component to it — whether you’re educating your audience about a product, a service, a new piece of content, how to use a tool, and so on. 

Clearly communicated.

Webinars are great ways to scale your communication. Provide value to your audience by communicating your message clearly. This includes how you organize the content of the webinar, how you present it verbally, and how you present it visually in your PowerPoint deck.

Entertaining.

Finally, a great webinar needs to be entertaining. Otherwise, your attendees might as well think of your webinar as 40 minutes to catch up on email. After all, that verbal component is what makes webinars so unique: There are few other mediums where you can deliver content that lets your personality shine through to such an extent.

It’s really easy to create webinar content with only your end goals in mind — that point you want to get across, or those things you want to talk about — but that won’t keep your audience engaged. Think carefully about who your audience is while crafting your webinar content. At the end of the day, your webinar is about building connections and relationships with your audience so they trust you that much more.

18 Webinar Hosting Tips That Get People to Show Up

1. Pick a killer topic.

It’s really, really hard to get people to attend your webinar if your topic stinks. Try to select a topic that’s broad enough to attract a large audience, yet targeted enough to provide actionable advice that attendees can implement the second they hop off your webinar.

For a webinar with Unbounce, for example, we decided that we wanted conversion rate optimization to be the overarching theme (because what marketer doesn’t want to optimize?), but with a focus on landing page copy and design.

When titling your webinar landing page, do some SEO research to see which keywords you want to rank for. Use that same title for subsequent blog posts and SlideShares, and you’ll end up with a slew of assets to back up that keyword ranking.

2. Set a registration goal.

Having a goal will inspire you to hit it, and help you measure success. In order for us to break the Guinness World Record for webinar attendees, for example, we hit about 31,100 registrants. You should track performance on at least a weekly basis to see whether your marketing efforts are moving the needle. That way, if you need to dial up your promotion due to low initial registration numbers, you’ll know what to do to fix it. 

Note: Just because people register for your webinar does not mean they will attend your webinar. Which brings us to our next tip …

3. Set an attendee goal.

Webinars typically get 36% of pre-registrants to attend the live event. To determine how many registrants you need, you should think ahead to how many actual attendees you want.

Continuing with our Guinness World Record example in the previous tip, we knew we needed just over a third of our webinar registrants to show up to break the most-attended webinar world record. So, with a little backwards math with the 36% figure above, shooting for more than 31,000 registrants yielded 10,899 attendees — just under 36% percent of our registrant number — which is what we needed to break the record.

You will see the word “remind” quite a bit in the rest of this post. That’s because getting people to attend your webinar requires lots and lots (and lots) of registrant reminders. People often sign up for webinars weeks in advance, so it’s critical that you’re making an effort to keep your webinar top-of-mind during that time.

4. Give attendees something special.

Try to think of things that will get people excited, feeling special, talking with colleagues, and remembering their experience on your webinar in the future. Excited registrants turn into excited attendees.

At HubSpot, we’ve given away tickets to events, free marketing assessments, and ad spend coupons to Facebook and LinkedIn. We’ve also inspired the audience by asking them to be a part of something huge, like breaking a world record.

Another example of a contest you could run? Ask them to tweet something related to the webinar a week in advance, and pick the winner at the beginning of the webinar. At HubSpot, we held a #WorkRemote hashtag challenge to support our webinar on working remote effectively, and we built this landing page to explain the rules and how a winner would be picked. (Note: Be sure to work with your legal team when planning any challenge or contest.)

You could note in the promotional and reminder emails that “attendees are getting a special 25% discount on X,” and include that discount code in the final slide of your webinar.

5. Choose the right day of week.

Don’t host your webinar during the weekend. Okay, you probably knew that one. But did you also know that it’s best to host your webinars on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?

Monday and Friday always seem to get filled up with “catch-up” and “last-minute emergency” happenings around the office. In WhatCounts poll, the data suggested that their audience preferred Wednesday or Thursday for webinars — and we tend to agree. 

6. Choose the right time of day.

HubSpot typically runs webinars at 1 p.m. EST or 2 p.m. EST, because it’s the most convenient time for the largest chunk of our audience. But if you have a huge audience in … I don’t know … Jakarta, you might want to reevaluate your timing. Right? Right.

However, like any variable in marketing, the best time (and day) will depend on your audience. Which time zone(s) do they live in? Do they work nine-to-five jobs, or are their daytime schedules more open? To maximize attendance, experiment with different days and times, compare attendance rates and conversion rates, and tweak your timing accordingly.

If you’re just starting out or have no clue what time works best, you can always ask. Include a field on your registration form that asks attendees to confirm the time slots that work best for them, and schedule your webinar based on that feedback.

7. Create an informative landing page.

Be clear. Be honest. Set expectations. Take a look at the landing page we created for our webinar with Rajan Kapoor of Dropbox (which you can view on-demand here):

hubspot-dropbox-webinar.png

On this landing page, we’ve clearly outlined a few things:

  • Who? Introduce presenters on the landing page, with brief bios that explain who they are and why they matter. (Well, why they matter for this webinar, at least.)
  • What? Include an explanation of what the webinar is about and some of the topics it will cover. Bullet points are best. Pick a dedicated hashtag for your webinar and include it, too.
  • When? Seemingly obvious, but ensure you provide a date and time so people can mark their calendars.
  • Where? Clearly explain when and how the webinar will be accessible. Typically, webinars are accessible via links, and can be joined 30 minutes prior to the start time.
  • Why? Explain the value of your webinar. What will people be able to do after they leave your webinar that they weren’t able to prior to attending?

8. Send a thank-you email and registration confirmation.

Sending a thank-you email isn’t just good manners — it also gives you a chance to confirm your attendees’ registration (so they know that their form submission worked) and, you know, remind them about your webinar. Some people will delete it. Some people will save the email in their inbox, serving as a periodic reminder of your webinar. Some people will take the details in the email and input it on their calendar. If any of your registrants fall into those last two groups of people, you’re sittin’ pretty.

We recommend including a call-to-action to “Add this webinar to your calendar” as the #1 CTA in both your thank-you and follow-up emails. (More on this later.)

9. Send value-building reminder emails.

Send these two weeks in advance, and one week in advance on your webinar. They not only serve to remind registrants about the webinar’s date and time, but rebuild the value that you established with them on your registration landing page. Many of your registrants may have not only forgotten that they registered for your webinar … they may have forgotten why they registered in the first place.

Include relevant blog posts or previous ebooks or webinars that cover similar topics. You might frame this as content your team has recently updated, which they can learn more about in the webinar. Include the webinar’s hashtag and tell people to tweet if they have any questions.

10. Send two final reminder emails.

People forget. Things come up. Last-minute reminder emails — specifically, one the day before, and one the day of — give people enough time to finagle attendance around meetings and other items on their to-do list, but also not too much time that they’ll forget about the webinar. It’s only a day (or less!) away, after all. Again, include the webinar’s hashtag and tell people to tweet if they have any questions.

11. Market your webinar using social media.

You know what’s awesome about social media? It’s much more difficult to oversaturate your social audience than your email audience. And there’s a really, really good chance much of your email audience is connected with you socially, too. That affords you the opportunity to use social media to remind your audience about your webinar.

If you’re using a social media publishing schedule, you can pepper in updates for every social channel that remind your audience you have an upcoming webinar. Increase the number of reminder updates as the date approaches, particularly the day before and day of. Make sure you pick a dedicated hashtag for your webinar and include it on the landing page, in your emails, and everywhere else you’re promoting it.

12. Market your webinar through your speakers.

Of course you’ll be promoting your webinar, but what about the presenters? You know, the ones with a different audience than yours right at their fingertips? Are they leveraging their personal connections, social accounts, and email lists to make sure they have a giant audience? If they’re not, they sure-as-shootin’ should.

13. Don’t be afraid of paid media.

If you’re looking to drive more attendees to your webinar and have the budget, a little paid media to supplement your organic efforts can always help. For instance, you might run a PPC ad on Google for a search term that aligns with your webinar content in order to get the word out and drive attendance.

By bidding on a long-tail term such as “aligning sales and marketing” you can also keep your PPC costs low, promoting your webinar in a cost effective way. Just make sure your paid media team and organic team are aligned, so your company is organically publishing terms like “aligning sales and marketing” while you bid on the same term, resulting in total dominance in the SERPs for that keyword phrase.

For more detailed tips, download our free guide to social media advertising.

14. Blog about your webinar.

Use your blog (and other blogs if you have the relationships) to promote your webinar and the topic it covers. Create a “launch blog post” for your webinar indicating the excitement of new content/data in the webinar. Obviously, you’ll want to provide links to the registration landing page within the blog post, too — including a webinar-specific CTA to include at the end of your post, like we did in the post below:

Blog post promoting a webinar

You can also get your audience warmed up to the topic of the webinar by creating blog content that discusses that topic at different angles. Include the webinar CTA in these posts as well, but be sure to swap it out with a different CTA once the webinar is over.

Bonus: If you start writing posts about the webinar topic far enough in advance, you can use the questions readers ask in the comments section to beef up your presentation, too.

15. Set calendar reminders.

Some uber-organized people will put your webinar right on their calendar, but there are tools out there that let you take it a step further. 

My colleague Christine White, manager of marketing acquisition here at HubSpot, uses AddEvent and WorldTimeBuddy to create add-to-calendar CTAs.

16. Partner up.

If you want more people to attend your webinar, you can always consider working with another brand. But while additional attendees is one benefit, it shouldn’t be the main focus of partnering up — relevancy, however, should be.

HubSpot has partnered with numerous partners specifically for co-marketing purposes because we believe that two well-aligned brands have the power to be truly amazing together — much more amazing than they can be apart. It’s also helpful for your audience if they can hear another perspective once in a while, particularly when that perspective comes from a specialist’s point of view.

Tweet about partner webinar

17. Leverage your homepage.

Your homepage is likely one of the most visited pages on your website. So why wouldn’t you leverage your homepage real estate to promote upcoming webinars?

It’s a great way to show people that your entire company is behind the webinar and sees the value in it for site visitors. Don’t hide behind your webinars; get them out in public and show people that your company believes in the initiative. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to create smart CTAs for your homepage here.)

Homepage CTA on HubSpot promoting webinar

18. Use the best video conferencing tools to ensure a smooth video experience

If an industry expert reveals the secret to success, but their technology wasn’t good enough to record it, did they make an impact?

The content of your webinar might be unparalleled industry insight, but it isn’t nearly as valuable if your attendees can’t easily access and listen to the event. Picking the right video conferencing tool puts your webinar on the platform it deserves so people are encouraged to join in and listen to you.

What are some reliable webinar hosting services to choose from? Glad you asked …

Loom

Loom is a video recording software, compatible with Mac, Windows, and Chromebook computers. The tool offers a convenient desktop app and can record your screen activity in real time. Loom is particularly useful for pre-recorded webinars, slide presentations, and single-hosted experiences.

Google Hangouts

If you have a Gmail account, you’re probably familiar with Google Hangouts. This simple video conferencing tool pops out of your Gmail account and can invite attendees to a group call using their email addresses. It supports live webinars with multiple guests.

Zoom

Zoom is a cloud-based conferencing tool that offers live and on-demand video services. You can use a Zoom account to add a video chat option to group events listed on your online calendar.

GoToWebinar

GoToWebinar helps you create branded webinars with automated email invitations leading up to the event. It also makes it easy to follow up with attendees after the webinar, while reporting on who attended and who didn’t.

Customers buy from the companies they can trust, and broadcasting your industry expertise via webinar is one of the key ways of doing that. To learn more about how inbound marketing can help you delight your customers, take our free certification course below.  

free webinar checklist

 
free webinar checklist

The 7 Most Useful Google Sheets Formulas

Lately, the best part of my day has been figuring out the cool new things I can do in Google Sheets — which, yes, definitely means I need to get out more, but also means I can share my favorite formulas with you.

Learn how to run effective marketing campaigns using Google.

How to Use Formulas for Google Sheets

  1. Double-click on the cell you want to enter the formula in. (If you want the formula for the entire row, this will probably be the first or second row in a column.)
  2. Type the equal (=) sign.
  3. Enter your formula. Depending on the data, Google Sheets might suggest a formula and/or range for you.

V-LOOKUP Google Sheets Formula

V-lookups, are by far, the most useful formula in your tool-kit when you’re working with large amounts of data. The V-lookup formula looks for a data point — like, say, a blog post title or URL — in one sheet, and returns a relevant piece of information for that data point — like monthly views or conversion rate in another sheet.

For example, if I want to see how much traffic a specific set of blog posts got, I’ll export a list from Google Analytics, then put that list in another tab and use the V-LOOKUP function to pull views by URL into the first tab.

The only caveat: The data point must exist in both cells, and it must in the first column of the second sheet.

Formula:

=VLOOKUP(search_criterion, array, index, sort_order)

Let’s walk through an example, which should make this a bit easier to understand.

In the first sheet, I have a list of blog posts, including their titles, URLs and monthly traffic. In the second sheet, I have a report from Google Analytics with average page load time by URL. I want to see if there’s any correlation between page speed and performance.

An example:

=VLOOKUP(A2,’GA Avg. Load Time’’!$1:$1000,2,FALSE)

IFERROR Google Sheets Formula

Any time you’re using a formula where more than 10% of the return values lead to errors, your spreadsheet starts to look really messy (see the above screenshot!).

To give you an idea, maybe you have two columns: one for page views and another for CTA clicks. You want to see the highest-converting pages, so you create a third column for page views divided by CTA clicks (or =B2/C2).

About one-third of your pages, however, don’t have any CTAs — so they haven’t gotten any clicks. This will show up as #VALUE! on your sheet, since you can’t divide by zero.

Using the IFERROR formula lets you replace the VALUE! Status with another value. I typically use a space (“ “) so the sheet is as clean as possible.

Here’s the formula:

=IFERROR(original_formula, value_if_error)

So for the above situation, my formula would be:

=IFERROR((B2/C2, “ “)

COUNTIF Google Sheets Formula

The COUNTIF formula tells you how many how many cells in a given range meet the criteria you’ve specified. With this up your sleeve, you’ll never have to manually count cells again.

Formula:

=COUNTIF(range, criterion)

Let’s say I’m curious how many blog posts received more than 1,000 views for this time period — I’d enter:

=COUNTIF(C2:C500,“>1000”)

Or maybe I want to see how many blog posts were written by Caroline Forsey. If the author was in Column D, my formula would be:

=COUNTIF(D2:D500, “Caroline Forsey”)

LEN Google Sheets Function

Have you noticed Google Analytics cuts off the “http://” or “https://” from every URL? This posed a major issue for me when I wanted to combine data from HubSpot and GA — the V-Lookup function wouldn’t work because the URLs weren’t identical (“https://ift.tt/1y9rdls versus “blog.hubspot.com/marketing).

Luckily, there’s no need to manually change every URL. The LEN function lets you adapt the length of any string.

=LEFT(text,LEN(text)-n)

=RIGHT(text,LEN(text)-n)

So, let’s say the full URL is in column I. To remove the “https://” string and make it identical to the URL in the Google Analytics tab, I’d use:

=RIGHT(I2, LEN(I2)-8)

If you wanted to remove the last characters in a cell, you’d simply change RIGHT to LEFT.

Array Formula for Google Sheets

Rarely do you need to apply a formula to a single cell — you’re usually using it across a row or column. If you copy and paste a formula into a new cell, Google Sheets will automatically change it o reference the right cells; for example, if I enter =A2+B2 in cell C2, then drag the formula down to C3, the formula will become =A3+B3.

But there are a few drawbacks to this. First, if you’re working with a lot of data, having hundreds or thousands of formulas can make Google Sheets a lot slower. Second, if you change the formula — maybe now you want to see =A2*B2 instead — you have to make that change across every formula. Again, that’s time-consuming and requires a lot of processing power. And finally, the formula doesn’t automatically apply to new rows or columns.

An array formula solves these issues. It’s one formula, with one calculation, but the results are sorted into multiple rows or columns. Not only is this more efficient, but any changes will automatically apply to all your data.

ARRAYFORMULA(array_formula)

Let’s suppose I want to see how much non-paid traffic we’d gotten in March and April. That requires subtracting paid traffic from total (column D from column C) and then adding the totals together. Two separate formulas.

Or, I could use an array formula:

=ARRAYFORMULA(SUM(C2:C5-D2:D5)

The second part, SUM(C2:C5-D2:D5), should look somewhat familiar. It’s a traditional addition formula — but it’s applied to a range (cells C2 through C5 and D2 through D5) instead of individual cells.

The first part, =ARRAYFORMULA, tells Google Sheets we’re applying this formula to a range.

I could also use an array formula to look at the non-paid traffic specifically from updates (not new content) in March and April.

Here’s what that would look like:

=ARRAYFORMULA(SUM(C2,C4-D2,D4))

IMPORTRANGE Google Sheets Formula

I use to spend a ton of time (and processing power) manually copying huge amounts of data from one spreadsheet to another. Then I learned about this handy formula, which imports data from a separate Google Sheets spreadsheet.

Suppose our resident historical optimization expert Braden Becker sent me a spreadsheet of the content he updated last month. I want to add that data to a master spreadsheet of all the content (both new and historically optimized) we published. I’d use this formula:

IMPORTRANGE(spreadsheet_url, range_string)

Which would look like:

IMPORTRANGE(“https://ift.tt/1UUAjiF”, “Update Performance!A2:D100”)

How to Split Text in Google Sheets

Splitting text can be incredibly useful when you’re dealing with different versions of the same URLs.

To give you an idea, let’s suppose I’ve created a spreadsheet with every URL that received at least 300 views in January and February. I want to compare the two months to see which blog posts got more views over time, fewer, or around the same.

The problem is, if I do a V-LOOKUP between the two tabs, Google Sheets won’t recognize these as the same URLs:

https://ift.tt/2lKBXsU (regular URL)

https://ift.tt/2uBi3mt (tracking URL)

https://ift.tt/2oivpQp (regular URL)

https://ift.tt/2uBi5e5 (tracking URL)

It would be awesome if I could get delete everything after the question mark in the tracking URLs so they matched the original ones.

That’s where the split text formula comes in.

=SPLIT(text, delimiter, [split_by_each], [remove_empty_text])

Text: The text you want to divide (can be a string of characters, such as https://ift.tt/2uBi5e5, or a cell, like A2)

Delimiter: The characters you want to split the text around.

Split_by_each: Google Sheets considers each character in the delimiter to be separate. That means if you split your text by “utm”, it will split everything around the characters “u”,”t”, and “m”. Include FALSE in your formula to turn this setting off.

In the example above, here’s the formula I’d use to split the first part of the URL from the UTM code:

=SPLIT(A2,“?”)

The first part is now in Column B, and the UTM code is in Column C. I can simply delete everything in Column C, and run the V-LOOKUP on the URLs in Column B.

Alternatively, you can use Google Sheet’s “Split text to columns” feature. Highlight the range of data you want to split, then select “Data” > “Split text to columns.”

Now choose the character you want to delimit by: a colon, semicolon, period, space, or custom character. You can also opt for Google Sheets to figure out which character you want to split by (which it’s smart enough to do if your data is entered uniformly, e.g. every cell follows the same format) by choosing the first option, “detect automatically.”

I hope these Google Sheets formulas are helpful. If you have any other favorites, let me know on Twitter: @ajavuu.

How to Run a Marketing Campaign with GSuite

 
Check out this free ebook on running effectibe marketing campaigns using GSuite.

How to Buy Bitcoin Stock

Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies behave like the stock market. The more people who buy shares of Bitcoin, the higher the currency’s price. The fewer people who buy Bitcoin, the lower its price.

However, the source of Bitcoin’s value — and how you buy into it — is very different than an investment in the shares of a public company.

Click here to download our free guide to digital marketing fundamentals.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin (often denoted “₿”) is a digital currency that allows you to conduct business and exchange resources securely, but without going through a bank or central payment entity to perform the transaction. Bitcoin can be sold, traded for a product, or bought into like a stock (which this article will teach you how to do).

Think of Bitcoin like a bartering token, only there’s a limited supply of these digital tokens worldwide. Banks and national economies don’t generate Bitcoin — software mines it using a technology called blockchain. Learn more about this concept in the video below.

With Bitcoin being a limited resource, you’d think its value would always be off the charts, but this cryptocurrency is extremely volatile. People can adopt Bitcoin as a means of exchange for many reasons, and as Bitcoin’s usage evolves, so will the reasons people choose to buy into it. Just this week, Bitcoin’s price increased by more than $1000, reaching $7,450 per ₿1 at the time of writing this article (yikes).

How to Buy Bitcoin Stock

Whether you’re looking to invest in Bitcoin for a big sell later, or spend it on various items and assets, there’s a universal process you’ll have to go through to buy stock in it. Let’s dive into that process.

1. Download a Wallet

By “wallet,” we don’t mean the leather one in your pocket, or even credit card reader apps like Google Wallet. A Bitcoin wallet is an online storage place for all your digital currency. It doesn’t just hold your Bitcoin, though. Bitcoin wallets also store your personal “key” — a unique identifier assigned to every Bitcoin owner, consisting of a long string of letters and numbers that keeps your Bitcoin secure. This is essentially your Bitcoin password.

Your first step in buying Bitcoin is to download a Bitcoin wallet and connect your credit or debit card to it. There are more than a dozen Bitcoin wallets you can download, both to your desktop and as an app on your mobile device. Here are the wallets that work with the most devices and operating systems:

Coinbase, the first wallet app on the above list, also offers a “Bitcoin exchange” where you’ll register to buy your first share of Bitcoin. We’ll talk more about exchanges in the second step below.

2. Register With a Bitcoin Exchange

If there are national stock exchanges like NASDAQ, does that mean there’s also a Bitcoin exchange? Yep. Bitcoin trades on a variety of online exchanges around the world, and to start buying and selling Bitcoin, you’ll have to register with one of them. Have your email address and credit or debit card information ready.

Don’t worry, all of your exchange options recognize the same Bitcoin trading price. Each exchange just caters to a different country or continent, and therefore offers an exchange rate that corresponds with the currency you’ll use to buy Bitcoin. For example, while Korean exchanges sell Bitcoin for won (Korea’s main currency), U.K.-based exchanges sell Bitcoin for pounds.

Here are some international Bitcoin exchanges you can register with (these exchanges trade Bitcoin for most currencies across the globe):

Although there are Bitcoin exchanges that specialize in just one country, you might find it easiest to register with an exchange that also supplies you with a Bitcoin wallet so you’re not submitting your bank information to two separate services. Coinbase is one of those options. After downloading the Coinbase wallet, you can move right over to its exchange to buy your Bitcoin stock and fill your wallet.

Now, let’s talk about how to make your first crypto-purchase.

3. Select a Buy-In Amount

Once you’ve selected the exchange where you want to buy your Bitcoin, navigate to the exchange’s “Buy” section and select your buy-in amount. You’ll tether your Bitcoin wallet to this purchase a “bit” differently (pun intended) depending on the exchange you use to buy your Bitcoin.

Nervous? Don’t be — you can buy less than 1 if you want to. Bitcoin exchanges sell cryptocurrencies down to several decimal places, so if Bitcoin is trading at $7,450 per 1, you can invest $1 and receive .00013 Bitcoin. Then, as Bitcoin’s trading price increases, so does the value of the Bitcoin you bought.

4. Browse a Crypto Marketplace

With your Bitcoin in hand (or rather, in wallet), you can do one of two things with your purchase:

Spend Bitcoin in a Marketplace

Bitcoin has its very own ecommerce marketplaces where you can trade Bitcoin for products. Products include those that are shippable to your door — such as jewelry — and those you can download to your computer, such as Microsoft Office. Remember, no banks are involved in these transactions. The market simply verifies your Bitcoin’s individual blockchain and completes the purchase.

Common Bitcoin marketplaces where you can spend Bitcoin include Bitify, Glyde, and even a Reddit community called BitMarket. Keep in mind you can also sell your own products for Bitcoin, making these marketplaces an easy way to build up your Bitcoin investment.

Buy and Wait

Of course, like any good investor, the key to making money on Bitcoin is to buy in and leave it alone. Cryptocurrencies’ trading prices can fluctuate hundreds of dollars in a single morning, and watching Bitcoin’s value peak and dip every day can drive you nuts.

Bitcoin investors often say that the money you put into Bitcoin should be money you’re willing to lose. With that in mind, the best way to enjoy your investment is to let it sit, try selling personal items that could grow your Bitcoin account, and check the Bitcoin price once in a (long) while.

Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing

 
Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing

How to Unblock Someone on Facebook and Messenger [FAQ]

When you block someone on Facebook, they won’t be able to see anything you post on your profile, tag you in any form of content, invite you to any events or groups, message you, or add you as a friend.

But what happens if you accidentally block someone, or decide you want to unblock someone?

This quick guide will walk you through the process of unblocking someone on Facebook or within the Facebook Messenger app.

Make sense of the Facebook Business Page Timeline using this free guide.

It’s important to note that when you block someone on Facebook, you will also automatically unfriend them. Unblocking them will not automatically add them as a friend again — you will need to send them a separate friend request after you unblock them if you wish to be their friend again.

Got it? Let’s jump in.

How to Unblock Someone on Facebook

1. On Facebook, click the down-arrow icon in the top right and then select “Settings”.

 

2. On the left side of your Settings page, click “Blocking”.

 

3. Find the “Block users” section, and click the blue “Unblock” link beside the name of the person you want to unblock.

 

4. Click “Confirm” to officially unblock that person.

How to Unblock Someone on Facebook Messenger

  1. In the Messenger app, click on your photo icon at the top left corner.

 

2. Scroll down and click “Account Settings”.

 

3. Click “Blocking”.

 

4. If you type a name in the text box, you can click the “Block” button to block them. Below the text box, there’s a list of previously blocked people. To unblock someone, click the “Unblock” button beside their name.

5. Click the blue “Unblock” button to unblock that person.

 

HubSpot Academy Social Media Certification Course

 
Learn social media with the experts at HubSpot Academy.

How to Pick the Perfect Color Combination for Your Data Visualization

Choosing any color scheme — whether for graphics, websites, brands, etc. — is a challenge in and of itself. That choice of colors sets the mood for anything and everything you create.

When it comes to data visualization, color is especially important. The color scheme sets the tone of the imagery and each color serves to represent a unique piece of information.

The colors you use in your data visualizations represent more than just one idea. The color scheme you choose has the power to display the type of data you’re showing, its relationship, the differences between categories, and more.

This post will take you through the process of choosing the perfect color combination for your next data visualization — from understanding your data to finding the right color tool.

How to Pick the Perfect Color Combination for Your Data Visualization

Is Your Data Sequential or Qualitative?

The first step when choosing a color scheme for your data visualization is understanding the data that you’re working with. There are three main categories that matter when choosing color schemes for data: sequential, diverging, and qualitative color schemes.

Sequential color schemes are those schemes that are used to organize quantitative data from high to low using a gradient effect. With quantitative data, you typically want to show a progression rather than a contrast. Using a gradient-based color scheme allows you to show this progression without causing any confusion.

Color_Gradiant_Data.png

Diverging color schemes allow you to highlight the middle range/extremes of quantitative data by using two contrasting hues on the extremes and a lighter tinted mixture to highlight the middle range.

Diverging_Color_Schemes.png

Qualitative color schemes are used to highlight — you guessed it — qualitative categories. With qualitative data, you typically want to create a lot of contrast, which means using different hues to represent each of your data points.

Qualitative_Color_Schemes.png

Note: The images above are from Color Brewer 2.0 — a data visualization color tool designed for working with data mapping. Check it out for your next data map visualization or for grabbing pre-made color schemes to use based on the sequential, diverging, and qualitative models.

How Many Unique Hues Do You Need to Use?

Now that you’ve determined which kind of display you want to use, it’s time to determine the number of hues you need to use.

Your hues are the unique colors (like red or blue) in their purest form (without any tinting or shading). Using unique hues is what creates contrast. In data visualization, creating contrast is highly important because it tells the viewer that the contrasting colors are comparative data points. Contrasting colors suggest that the data points are categorical, not correlated, showing you the difference between them rather than the relationship of progression.

Keep in mind that it’s possible to use both a sequential and qualitative color scheme in the same visualization. And if this is the case, you’ll need to build a scheme that uses both gradients and unique hues.

The Role of Brightness in Color Selection

One very important tip for creating and finding color schemes for you data visualizations concerns understanding and utilizing the brilliance of colors for a purpose.

In the two pie charts below, notice the brightness of the colors used. On the left pie chart, you can see that there are four main hues used and four tints of each hue. This might signify a relationship between the hue and the tints, or it may just be used to draw attention to some sections of the data over the others.

Pie Charts Brightness

On the right pie chart, all of the eight hues used have the same brightness. None have more white or black added them to create a shade or a tint, which ultimately creates a balanced, contrasting aesthetic.

Shading and brightness is incredibly important to consider when creating data visualizations because it can be easy to skew the interpretation of your data by drawing attention to some data points over others.

For qualitative data, unless you’re trying to point out one specific data point’s significance, try to use equally bright hues with contrasting colors to display your data.

For sequential quantitative data, shading is important because you’re likely using a gradient. Gradients are made up of different shades and tints of a hue to show the progression of one hue from light to dark — much like the progression of the data from high to low.

What Tools Can You Use to Find the Perfect Color Combination?

When it comes to finding the perfect color scheme for your data visualizations, I highly recommend finding a scheme that’s already out there. This isn’t to say that you don’t need to have a strong grasp on basics of color selection, though — even existing color schemes will need to be customized to the data you’re using. In other words, it’s still important that you know your stuff.

Let’s check out a few tools that’ll help you get started …

1) Colorpicker for Data

A fairly simple tool, Colorpicker let’s you hold one color in place while you drag the other locator around to find a multi-hued, gradient-based color scheme. Although this tool is limited in nature, I like that it gives you the option to visualize your color scheme on a map to show you what the scheme looks like in practice.

Color_Picker_Tool.png

2) Color Hunt

If you’re just looking for premade color schemes to browse through, Color Hunt is the tool for you. This website is devoted to just color schemes, allowing you to easily gain inspiration and uncover HEX codes.

A caveat, however, is that each of the schemes are limited to four colors. If you’re data visualization requires more hues than four, this may not be the tool for you.

Color_Hunt_Tool.png

3) Designspiration.net

One of my personal favorite sites for design work, be it data visualization or otherwise, is Designspiration.net. Not only does Designspiration give you thousands of graphics to look through for inspiration, but it also allows you to sort through designs by color.

This is a great tool to use for your data visualization (even if the representations aren’t data-based) because it shows you what colors look like in contrast to one another. The color-sort tool also gives you the HEX codes ready to access, making it really easy to put together a combination that suits your needs.

Design_Inspiration_Tool.png

4) FlatUIColorpicker.com

As a part of Designmodo’s Free User Interface toolkit, they created a tool to help you uncover colors to use in your design process. Although these colors aren’t necessarily part of premade schemes, they are really great for showing you bright, vibrant colors used for user interface design. You can easily browse through their color lists and create your own color schemes using the color picker.

Adobe_Color_CC.png

5) Adobe Color CC

A classic tool for designers using Adobe products, Adobe Color CC allows you to create your own color schemes using the mathematical model-based color schemes (monochromatic, analogous, triadic, complementary, etc.). Adobe Color CC also has a great browser section you can use to find premade color schemes.

What If You Still Can’t Find What You Need?

What if you decide you’re really looking for a color scheme that isn’t already out there? What do you do?

Creating a color scheme for data visualizations from scratch can be especially difficult because the colors you use have to either show vast contrast or natural progressions.

A great way to find inspiration for these types of color schemes is to draw on your surroundings. This could be a colorful photo, a mural, a sunset, or anything in nature — you name it. If you look around to find color schemes that appeal to you in your physical surroundings, you can use this to create a color scheme for the virtual.

If you have a good eye, you may even be able to create a color scheme this way by trial and error. However, it’s more likely that you’ll need to use a tool like Adobe Capture CC or Chroma by Softpress to snap a picture and grab the colors from the picture to use in your designs.

Chroma_by_Softpress.png

When creating data visualizations, the most important part of choosing the right color scheme comes down to understanding your data.

With so many different tools and premade color schemes out there, the hardest part isn’t actually finding the right colors; it’s knowing how to use those colors to display the information in the best way possible.

Now that you know how to find your color schemes, go put your newfound knowledge to work.

free guide to data visualization

20 of the Best Business Card Designs [+ Free Business Card Generator]

The business card isn’t dead yet.

As long as there are parties, industry events, and networking opportunities, there will be business cards. And it’s important that yours isn’t thrown to the bottom of the pile because of a lackluster design.

Whether you work at a bigwig agency or as a freelancer, your business card should make a memorable first impression

To help you out on the inspiration front, we’ve compiled a list of 20 of the best business card designs from agencies, designers, and businesses around the world. Ranging from artistically elaborate to decidedly simple, these examples are certain to inspire your next business card redesign.

20 of the Best Business Card Design Examples

1) Aurora

Featuring a botanical illustration of tropical blooms and a clean sans-serif font, these business cards from Aurora certainly make a stylish first impression. The South African studio specializes in whimsical artwork and design, so it’s fitting that their business cards reflect their unique skill set. The cards were designed in-house and include gold embossed details.

Aurora

Image via Aurora

2) HubSpot

Don’t have money to spend on a template or professional business card design? Don’t worry. Here’s a colorful sample business card my colleague Carly whipped up using our free Business Card Template Generator. 

This free tool let’s you choose from nine fully customizable business card templates, so you’re sure to find one that suits the look and feel of your business. We particularly love the bold shapes and bright colors used in the template below, as it stands out in a pile of plain white business cards. 

Business Card Example HubSpot

3) Chomp

In a literal interpretation of the company’s name, London-based agency Chomp designed business cards with a bite-size chunk missing from one corner. The shape of the card stock mimics the detail of their logo — which also bears teeth marks.  

Chomp

Image via How Design

4) Garage Culture

If you want your business card to stand out, non-traditional materials will help you do just that. Designed by Rodrigo Cuberas, this bike garage business card uses cotton paper stock as the base for its stunning, simplistic design. 

Garage Culture Business Card.jpg

Image via Behance

5) Matheus Dacosta

Brazilian designer Matheus Dacosta puts an artistic spin on traditional business cards, adding kaleidoscopic, hand-painted designs to every individual card. Each miniature work of art is sure to make a memorable impact — or at the very least, make the recipient reluctant to simply toss it.

Dacosta
Dacosta

Images via Design Milk

6) Trick & Treat

Here’s a great example of a business that played to its strengths. Trick & Treat— and branded entertainment company — offers one of the most creative business cards we’ve ever seen. The design transforms into a tabletop game, which aligns perfectly with Trick & Treat’s playful brand. 

Trick-Treat-Business-Card.jpg

Image via Behance

7) Nymbl

Nymbl, a 3D design and virtual reality studio, wanted to project a more accessible, playful image in their new marketing materials. To get the job done right, they turned to UK-based agency Big Fan, who spun up a bold, two-tone business card design concept as part of their new branding. The cards feature paper cut-outs on royal purple stock.

Nymbl

Image via Big Fan

8) Wendigo

This video production agency may get its name from a spooky folk creature, but the quality of their business card design is far from terrifying. Designed by the talented folks at The Distillery, these unusual cards put the focus on meticulously detailed, embossed illustration: a feather, a piece of wood, and a beastly skull can be seen behind the contact information. A pair of interlocking antlers — presumably from the feared Wendigo itself — form the “W” in the agency’s name.

Wendigo

Image via The Distillery

9) Brathw8 Studios

These gold-foiled business cards designed for a professional photographer serve as a great example of how to effectively marry pattern, texture, and simplicity. We especially love how they cut the pattern in the middle to create a clean canvas for the contact information. Tastefully done. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 1.14.50 PM.png

Image via CardObserver

10) Katsy Garcia

Illustrator and graphic designer Katsy Garcia whipped up this simple but effective business card concept for her own personal branding. Instead of displaying her contact information in the usual straightforward format, Garcia serves up a fresh twist, displaying hers in an instantly recognizable text message composition. The resulting effect is equal parts charming and sharply clever.

Katsy Garcia

Image via Katsy Garcia’s Behance Portfolio

11) Omelet

In a nod to their native L.A., Omelet created business cards centered around sleek city imagery. The photographs are artfully silhouetted by their company logo — which if you look closely, is actually an ambigram.

Omelet

Image via Digiday

12) Counter Creatives

Designed to resemble a classic take-a-number ticket, this inventive business card was devised for Dutch agency Counter Creatives by designer and art director Valery Overhoff. The compact format and unconventional shape called for a creative use of space, and Overhoff manages to feature multiple typefaces and both vertical and horizontal text.

Counter Creatives

Image via Valery Overhoff’s Cargo Collective Portfolio

13) IS Creative Studio

Thanks to airy swipes of neon spray paint, these otherwise minimal business cards from IS Creative Studio make a big impact. The Peru-based agency has developed three iterations of these award-winning cards, increasing the breadth and intensity of the color pallette each time. This most recent version highlights everything from electric pinks to vibrant greens.

IS Creative Studio
IS Creative Studio

Images via IS Creative Studio’s Behance Portfolio

14) Confetti Studio

These business cards from Confetti Studio combine two powerful elements — punchy orange card stock and gold embossed metallics — to a create a mesmerizing and modern effect. One side of the card is completely covered in gilded speckles, while the other side displays the agency’s logo and contact information — also gilded. They fittingly call the end result “cardfetti.”

Confetti Studio

Image via Confetti Studio

15) Tricota

Buenos Aires-based agency Tricota found an interesting way to highlight the two sides of their business: perforated cards that split in half. Once side features information for their communications and graphic design services, while info for their illustration services appear on the other side. Each half includes a variation of their “T” logo: a typeface “T” for their communications side and and an hand-drawn “T” for their illustration side.

Tricota

Image via Tricota’s Behance Portfolio

16) Tait

When this design studio wanted to give their corporate identity a facelift, they turned to fresh card stock in yellow, smokey blue, and azure. Using minimal text against a sophisticated color palette yields sleek results.

Tait

Image via Tait’s Behance Portfolio

17) Claire Bruining

Graphic designer Claire Bruining developed these playful business cards for her own personal branding. Splashes of overlapping patterns and colors appear on one side, and Bruining’s contact information appears on the reverse in a clean sans serif font. The dark blue text and border adds an unexpected pop to the basic layout.

Claire Bruining

Image via Claire Bruining’s Behance Portfolio

18) Don’t Try Studio

Monge Quentin, the Parisian illustrator behind Don’t Try Studio, created these lively and colorful business cards to promote his design work. Thanks to an embossing technique, the face of the cards are embellished with confetti-like brush strokes and shapes in a muted orange and blue color scheme. His name appears in a handwritten print. 

Don't Try Studio

Image via Don’t Try Studio

19) Bespoke

The logo on these business cards for digital production studio Bespoke is so large, it actually wraps around from the front of the card to the back. A fellow New York agency — Studio Newwork — designed these cards to be both minimal and unexpected.

Bespoke

Image via Studio Newwork

20) Atelier Irradié

At first glance, the face of these Atelier Irradié business cards look like otherworldly color swatches. In stark contrast to the metallic, jewel-toned gradient on the front, the back of these cards don’t even use ink — just simple, imprinted text displaying their contact information.

Atelier Irradié
Atelier Irradié

Image via Atelier Irradié’s Behance Portfolio

21) Kristin Tora 

Designed by luxury printing studio, Elegante Press, these business cards offer an unexpected twist: each one can be painted with watercolors to create a unique 

Kristin-Illustarator-Business-Card.png

Feature image credit: Atelier Irradié’s Behance Portfolio

 

How to Keep Up With Social Media News & Trends

If you’re a social media marketer, two things are almost certain: You spend a lot of time on your mobile phone, and you spend even more time teaching your friends and colleagues how to use the latest apps and features because you’re at the forefront of it all.

Social media is constantly evolving. For example, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., unveiled nine huge new features in 2016 alone. This makes marketers beg the question: How do I keep track of everything that’s changing — and still have time to do my job?

Click here to learn what HubSpot's CMO says you need to know to succeed in  2017.

We feel your pain, and we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up our tips and tricks for keeping up with social media news that we use every day here at HubSpot. And once you have a system down, keep track of what you’re sharing on social media this month with these tools for managing your social media calendar.

11 Tips for Keeping Up With Social Media News & Trends

1. Create a stream on Twitter with popular hashtags.

The best place to find out the most recent news about social is — you guessed it — on social media. Start by creating a stream on Twitter with popular social media hashtags. You can use terms like #socialmedia, #smchat, or #inboundmarketing — if you need more ideas, check out Hashtags.org. Avoid searching for a term that’s too general (like #marketing) because you’ll quickly see a swarm of tweets flooding into your stream.

HubSpot customers can create a stream using HubSpot Social Inbox. First, start by typing your hashtag into the search box at the top of the screen.

social_inbox_stream_example.png

Then, check out your results. You will see a list of people and tweets matching your search term.

social_inbox_stream_example_search.png

If you like the sampling of results that you see, you can create a stream with that hashtag.

social_inbox_create_a_twitter_stream.png

If you’re not a HubSpot customer, you can save searches directly on Twitter in a very similar manner. First, search for the term you’re interested in using the search bar in the top-right corner of the Twitter homepage:

example_twitter_search.png

Then, when you reach the results page of your Twitter search, tap the gear icon and select “Save this search.”

save_this_search_example.png

Then, the next time you head to the Twitter search bar, your saved search will appear for you to easily click and start reading:

saved_searches_on_twitter.png

2. Make a Twitter list of influencers in the industry.

The beauty of social media is that the experts often hang out there, too. Whenever there is a new announcement or update in the social media world, you’ll find influencers discussing it on Twitter.

Use the hashtags that you gathered in the previous example and pick out some of the most active people tweeting on them. Make a Twitter list based on your findings and spend some time each day running through the list to see what they have to say. And don’t be shy to ask them questions yourself. After all, that’s what social media is all about.

If you want some help getting started, here’s a Twitter list of social media experts and influencers that we admire at HubSpot. It’s a public list, so you can follow it, too.

3. Set up Google Alerts on terms and influencers.

Now that you have a list of influencers and hashtags that you can follow on social media, you can set up a Google Alert for some of them. That way, you’ll get regular updates when they post content or are interviewed about social media.

Pick your top three favorite influencers or topics and set up Google Alerts for them. This will help you stay up to date on any breaking news in the industry. We recommend getting these alerts once a day so your inbox isn’t completely clogged.

All you have to do is type in your search term, select your frequency, and you are ready to go.

google_alert_social_media_search.png

google_alerts_preference.png

You can also choose to do this for certain social media terms or trends. The specificity of your search term will determine how many alerts you receive. For example, the term “social media” is written about every day, but “social media trends in North America” will generate more targeted alerts.

4. See what’s trending on Instagram’s Explore tab.

Instagram’s Explore tab lets users search for terms and hashtags to see what content people are sharing on the platform that day. It also serves users with related searches to see what else people are talking about. You could search for terms like “social media” or #socialmediamarketing to see what’s going on:

instagram_explore_tab.png

5. Join Groups on LinkedIn.

Discussions on LinkedIn about social media for business are extremely lively. Whether there’s an update to Facebook, a new social network that’s making traction, or a new theory on the future of social media, you are sure to find it in LinkedIn groups. Even better, you will meet a lot of other social media enthusiasts with whom you can network and ask questions.

Here are a few we recommend checking out:

6. Subscribe to social media blogs.

As bloggers ourselves, we’re going to suggest that you subscribe to a few blogs that post content about social media so you don’t miss anything. If there’s a new feature or trend, it will definitely be written about in detail on these blogs.

However, more important than subscribing to these blogs is making sure you set aside time each week to read through your content. Block off as much time as you need to go through the content — that could be anywhere from 15 minutes a day or 15 minutes a week.

Here are a few blogs to get you started that cover social media:

7. Attend a conference, virtually or in-person.

Take the time to go to a social media conference. This will be a great opportunity to hear from social media experts in the industry and be able to ask the burning questions you may have. You will get the most up-to-date advice about running a social media campaign and what you should know when using social media.

However, it isn’t realistic for all of us to pack up and go to every single conference that talks about social media. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, you should follow along via — you guessed it — social media. Every conference or event will have a corresponding hashtag that you can follow during the conference on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Social media posts are often quotes from speakers at the event, so you’ll still get access to the content being shared.

For example, each year, INBOUND covers top social media trends, among a variety of other topics. The following stream shows people who are tweeting about INBOUND 2016 using the hashtag #INBOUND16.

socialmediainbound16_example.png

8. Listen to podcasts.

An easy way to learn about what’s changed in the social media space is to listen to the news on social media marketing podcasts. Podcasts vary in length and provide lots of valuable information from social media experts and influencers in the form of interviews, case studies, and rundowns of the latest news. You can listen to episodes during your commute, at home, or just when you need a break from your computer screen.

We rounded up some of our favorite podcast episodes to learn about what’s new with social media, including:

  • Marketing Smarts: How ‘Dolphin Tale’ Brought 800,000 Visitors a Year to Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • The Growth Show: Episode 100: Guy Kawasaki’s Unconventional Advice on Growth
  • Hashtagged: Focusing on Creating Content and Community Versus Being an Influencer with Dan Joyce

9. Set up an IFTTT.

IFTTT (“If this, then that”) sets up connections between apps and services you already use for content discovery and sharing. When you set up an IFTTT with a Recipe, you can save time by automatically having social media news and updates served up to you according to your content consumption preferences. Here are a few we recommend setting up to keep track of social media news:

IFTTT Recipe: When you like a Tweet, automatically save the link from it to your Pocket account connects twitter to pocket

IFTTT Recipe: Create a search on Twitter and get a daily email with the results connects twitter to email-digest

IFTTT Recipe: When a specific hashtag is used on Twitter add the Tweet to a Google spreadsheet connects twitter to google-drive

10. Set up a news aggregator on Feedly.

There are various free news aggregation RSS feeds that you can customize and subscribe to to centralize news from a variety of different sources all on one page. I use Feedly, and after subscribing to different marketing and technology publications, I set Feedly as my homepage. That way, I have to glance at the big headlines before starting work each morning.

You can easily search for topics and names of publications to add to your Feedly to keep your knowledge as current as possible.

feedlysearchexample.png

11. Get certified in social media.

Taking HubSpot Academy’s free online Social Media Certification will update you on how social media is being used today, and make you a certified social media marketer at the same time. Explore up to eight lessons in social media, from social media listening and moderating to how communications teams use social media to manage a crisis. 

What’s Trending?

Try out some of our suggestions and let us know if they help you keep track of the latest social media news. We’ve made some predictions about how social media will evolve in the future, so keep an eye out for more news and trends — they’re right around the corner.

Free Executive Webinar 2017 Trends