Excel Online: Tips, Tricks, and Hidden Features You Should Know

If you’ve been using Excel from your desktop for years, switching to the online version can seem like a scary — and even unnecessary — transition.

But Excel Online is free, and offers additional advantages to using the desktop version. If you use the Online version, you can sync your spreadsheet to other web apps, allowing you to gather additional data or automate workflows.

Better yet, using Excel Online helps you collaborate with coworkers on larger projects.

Excel Online is a fantastic option for gathering, viewing, and analyzing your data. Even if you haven’t paid for Excel’s desktop version, you can begin using Excel Online for free today. And Excel Online offers almost all the same features, so if you’re interested in collaboration or taking advantage of the web add-ons, it could be worth the switch.

Here, we’ll investigate how to use Excel Online, compare the features of Excel Online versus desktop Excel, and take a look at some of the hidden online features you’ll definitely want to know about.

How to Use Excel Online: Beginner’s Guide

There are two ways to locate Excel Online: first, click this Products.Office link, and select “Excel.” It will ask you to sign in, and then you can begin creating a spreadsheet.

Or, open OneDrive, and select a spreadsheet you’ve saved.

If you want to move your desktop spreadsheets to Excel Online, you can use OneDrive.com to do this — there are two different ways.

First, you can open OneDrive.com and drag and drop your spreadsheet files from your desktop to OneDrive.

However, dragging and dropping files means if you edit those files online, your edits won’t transfer to your desktop. If you want to switch back and forth between the two, this can become problematic.

Another option for moving desktop spreadsheets to Excel Online is downloading the OneDrive app, logging in with your Microsoft account, and copying your Excel files to the OneDrive folder to sync them.

This option is likely more favorable. After downloading the OneDrive app, you can sync your files to the cloud. Then, any edits you make online will automatically transfer to your desktop files, and vice versa.

Once you’re all set up in Excel, you can use it the same way you use the desktop version — the design is the same, and most of the functions are the same.

Now, let’s take a closer look at Excel Online’s features, so you know exactly what Online includes.

Excel Online Features

Excel 2016 desktop version offers 471 functions.

Excel Online offers over 400 functions, and it supports many additional functions if you input them correctly, except a few. This makes desktop and Online almost completely comparable in function.

Here’s Microsoft Office’s complete list of features offered in Excel Online, verus Excel desktop.

It’s important to note while charts, tables, PivotChart reports, and PivotTable reports are displayed similarly in Excel Online, there are a few charts unsupported Online. These include: charts that are part of a group of charts, charts that rely on external references, and charts that use certain kinds of data sources that are not supported for workbooks.

However, the majority of Excel’s most important features are supported equally in Excel Online. For instance, calculations, cells, dates, external references, fields lists for a PivotChart or PivotTable report, filters, slices, and timeline controls, formatting, named items, sparklines, and tables, are all available features in Excel Online.

If there’s a feature unsupported in Excel Online, but the majority of your project can be completed in Excel Online, perhaps you can work back and forth between Online and desktop, using OneDrive to sync your data automatically.

Excel Online Conditional Formatting

If you’re worried about conditional formatting with Excel Online, you shouldn’t be.

Excel Online supports conditional formatting. To use conditional formatting Online, select your data range, and then go to Home > Conditional Formatting. From there, you can pick your style.

If you use conditional formatting on your desktop Excel, you will still see the changes to your workbook when you open it in Excel Online.

Hidden Functions Online

Last, but certainly not least, let’s dive into some functions you might not know about for Excel Online specifically.

We’ve talked a lot about similarities between Excel Online and desktop, but if they were just similar, there’d be no point choosing Online over desktop.

Here are a few features that make Excel Online unique.

1. Surveys

If you use Excel on a desktop, you need to use third-party survey makers to gather survey information. If you use Excel Online, you don’t need the extra step — you can create a survey directly within the site.

To create a survey in Excel Online, click New > Forms for Excel.

Next, name your Survey and click “Create”. Select “Add Question” to add a new question to the survey. You can choose to add Choice, Text, Rating, or Date questions.

Images courtesy of Microsoft Office Support.

Click “Preview” at the top of the window to see how your survey will look on a computer. Once you’re happy with it, click “Submit”.

2. Install Add-ons

There are plenty of add-ons available for Excel Online. To find them, go to Insert > Office Add-ins. You can choose an add-on by category or name, and then click the “Add” button. After installing, you must click the “Start” button to use the add-on.

3. Share Your Spreadsheet

Similar to Google Docs, you can share your Excel files with other people, and either let those people edit, or simply view your data. Within your sheet, simply click the “Share” button at the top right corner. Within the pop-up, you can either choose “Edit” or “View” permissions, and then generate a link to share with anyone.

4. Leave a Comment

Let’s say you’ve created an Excel sheet with a coworker, and you want to tell her something about a particular section of data. Rather than confusing her with a lengthy email explaining what and where, you can simply comment within the spreadsheet.

To add a comment, select a cell or section and then right click and select “Insert Comment.” You can also go to Insert > Comment.

There are certainly plenty of other tips, tricks, and fun features available solely within Excel Online. Give it a try for yourself, and let us know on Twitter if you find any other impressive online features.

20 of the Best Website Designs to Inspire You in 2018

Every once in a while, I’ll come across a website that really makes me stop and think. So, I found 20 of them to show you.

These sites push the boundaries of what is known to be possible on the web. Whether it’s the design aesthetic, usability, interactivity, sound design, or value that the site provides, each one is a masterpiece in its respective industry, and something to be inspired by.

Not surprisingly, many organizations exist to highlight these sites and the contributions they make to the web. To help surface some of the most inspirational designs, I gathered 15 award-winners that have made their way through several key awards organizations — including Awwwards, UX Awards, The Webby Awards, SiteInspire, Best Website Gallery, and FWA.

I also found five more websites whose homepage designs are just plain cool and worth learning from.New Call-to-action

As you browse through the list, know that each site excels in its own way and seeks to serve a unique purpose. While one site may be an excellent example of visual design, another may be an excellent example of interactivity. This means that not all of these sites may be “conversion machines” or blueprint ideas that you can easily copy over to your site.

Rather, they’re great ways to gain some website design inspiration and see the cutting-edge marketing that’s happening in the different corners of the web.

Interactive-Form-Image.png

Beautiful Award-Winning Websites

1. Feed

Award: Site of the Day (6/6/2015), Awwwards

Not only is Feed an interesting concept, but it also has a stunning execution that challenges our understanding of what is possible on the web. Through a creative blend of animation and video, the site immerses the user into a very engaging experience. As an atypical site, it contains several unique usability elements as well, including a navigation that doubles as a scroll progress bar.

Homepage of Feed, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Awwwards

2. crypton.trading

Award: Site of the Day (4/3/2018), Awwwards

Meet crypton.trading, your robot accountant.

Crypton.trading is a trading hub for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, using artificial intelligence to predict changes in a currency’s value and identify key buying and selling opportunities. The website was rated high for its development and design, as it gradually explains more of the developer’s methods the further down visitors scroll.

This award-winning website makes tech-savvy visitors feel right at home the moment Crypton’s greeting appears across the homepage, one letter at a time.

Homepage of crypton.trading, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Awwwards

3. ETQ

Award: Site of the Day (5/19/2015), Awwwards

ETQ takes a very minimalistic approach to ecommerce with their stripped-down site with big, compelling visuals of their product. Simple, flat, color-based backgrounds accompanied by strong typography help to keep the focus on exactly what the user came there to see: shoes.

Homepage of ETQ, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Awwwards

4. Mikiya Kobayashi

Award: Site of the Day (7/4/2015), Awwwards

Mikiya is a Product Designer with a minimalistic portfolio that showcases his work through strong photography and subtle animations. His full site was originally created in Japanese and then translated into English, helping demonstrate the international scalability of his design.

Homepage of Mikiya Kobayashi, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Awwwards

5. Inside Abbey Road

Award: Best Music Website, 2016 Webby Awards

Google knocked it out of the park with this highly interactive site, which allows users to step into the Abbey Road Studios. Brilliant sound design, navigation mechanics, and visuals mixed with the usual “Google flair” all help draw visitors in to this well-made web property.

Homepage of Google's Inside Abbey Road, an award-winning websiteFeatured by The Webby Awards

6. Citrix: The New Mobile Workforce

Award: Site of the Day (11/23/2017), Best Website Gallery

This website — dedicated to Red Bull’s partnership with Citrix, a cloud-based software company — is amazing.

The New Mobile Workforce, a site owned by Citrix, uses panoramic photography to show visitors how Citrix is supporting Red Bull Racing’s new race car. Even if you’re not a car-racing enthusiast, the website’s clever animations to explain a complicated automotive technology are hard to ignore.

Homepage of The New Mobile Workforce by Citrix, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Best Website Gallery

7. The History of Climate Change

Award: Site of the Day (6/23/2015), Awwwards

Follow the footsteps of Luc Jacquet as Wild-Touch takes you along this visual and educational journey about the history of global climate change. A mixture of historical media and unique animations help tell the story.

Homepage of The History of Climate Change, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Awwwards

8. Beagle

Award: Site of the Day (4/19/2015), Best Website Gallery

Beagle does an exceptional job of visually and progressively telling the story of their product in a simple and easy-to-digest way. This is a major challenge for many startups, especially when they’re introducing new concepts to existing markets. People want to know, “What is your product? How does it work? Why do I care?” Beagle answers all those questions while simultaneously showing off their product and compelling the user to purchase. Plus, they’re one of few sites that actually implemented “scroll hijacking” correctly.

Homepage of Beagle, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Best Website Gallery

9. Southwest: Heart of Travel

Award: Best Visual Design – Aesthetic, 2018 Webby Awards

When Southwest Airlines wanted to prove its customers were “more than just a dollar sign,” the company created a website whose design was assembled using the shapes of their customers’ flightpaths.

The website, called Heart of Travel, even allows visitors to create their own artwork out of a trip they might plan on taking. In this way, Southwest’s website is a product of their most loyal passengers.

Homepage of Heart of Travel by Southwest Airlines, an award-winning websiteFeatured by The Webby Awards

10. Woven Magazine

Award: Site of the Day (4/4/2015), Best Website Gallery

Woven is an online publication that celebrates artists, craftsmen, and makers alike. To me, they represent a confirmation that publications can (and should) have beautiful, engaging sites with easy-to-read content. Free of distractions like pop-ups and obtrusive ads, this site all about the experience of the content itself.

Homepage of Woven Magazine, an award-winning websiteFeatured by Best Website Gallery

11. JOHO’s Bean

Award: FWA of the Day (8/7/2015), Favorite Website Awards

The website for JOHO’s Bean has incredible imagery, interactivity, story telling, visual design, and most of all, sound engineering. These all come together to create a compelling, emotional, and engaging site that tells the story of a coffee bean’s journey.

Homepage of JOHO's Bean, an award-winning websiteFeatured by FWA

12. NOWNESS

Award: Best Cultural Blog/Website, 2017 Webby Awards

Nowness is perhaps the coolest crowdsourced video blog on the internet today. That was a mouthful … what does all that mean?

NOWNESS‘s “crowdsourced” nature is part of what makes it an award-winner. This means most of its content comes from independent creatives — an increasingly popular way for businesses to publish content. NOWNESS is also a video blog, meaning all of its blog content is in video format. Together, these qualities help make Nowness a captivating hub for the stories that brands everywhere strive to tell.

Homepage of NOWNESS, an award-winning websiteFeatured by The Webby Awards

13. Virgin America

Award: Most Significant Industry Evolution, 2014 UX Awards

In a world where airline websites are known to be riddled with major usability issues, Virgin America has one of the best websites that pushes usability, accessibility, and responsive design forward. In fact, it’s been named as the first truly responsive airline website, a new precedent in the industry.

Homepage of Virgin America, an award-winning websiteFeatured by UX Awards

14. World of SWISS

Award: Best User Interface, 2015 Webby Awards

Another airline?! What is happening?! Yep, SWISS airlines built an incredibly immersive site that tells their story and describes what it’s like to fly with them — and they simply did too great of a job to be ignored. Strong visuals and animations introduce the user to different sections of the site that are packed with information beyond the usual sales and marketing pitch that is so common today.

Homepage of World of SWISS, an award-winning websiteFeatured by The Webby Awards

15. Reductress

Award: Best Humor Website, 2018 Webby Awards

It’s not that hard to make someone laugh on the internet; so much of what we read and consume online is meant to be entertaining. But it is hard to do it consistently for a large audience. Reductress is a satirical magazine whose headlines and general reading experience are top-tier in the humor department — making the website itself a quality property.

Homepage of Reductress, an award-winning websiteFeatured by The Webby Awards

Other Cool Website Designs

16. Minimums

Minimums takes a very bold approach to the way that they display their content, leveraging a grid-based website design, big typography, and full-width, high-quality images. Their site serves as a really nice example for how to properly execute a grid structure while still maintaining a nice visual hierarchy in the design.

Homepage of Minimums, a website with a cool design

17. Guillaume Tomasi

As a Photographer in Montreal, Guillaume Tomasi has built a portfolio that’s truly fit to house his unique and awe-inspiring photography. His surreal photo style is juxtaposed by his simple, flat, empty, and minimalistic portfolio design that places all of the focus on the work itself.

His unique series navigation coupled with art-gallery-inspired work introductions and perfect scrolling interactions yield an experience reminiscent of that of a real gallery.

Homepage of Guillaume Tomasi, a cool website with great use of photography

18. The District

This branding agency takes its imagery seriously, and it should — it handles all channels of media for their clients. The District’s website, alone, is a journey through some of the most beautiful artwork and photography you’ve ever seen.

These provocative tiles change rapidly as you explore the website, and the wackier they seem, the more interested you become in learning about their past work.

Homepage of The District, a cool company website with abstract designs

19. Tej Chauhan

Tej Chauhan has turned impressionist artwork into a business model with this intriguing website. Each image on this product developer’s homepage slides out to cover the previous image, offering little context around the object you now see in front of you.

But isn’t that lack of context exactly what makes you want to learn more? The tagline, “Souvenirs of The Near Future,” suggests these objects are a part of their product line — and an opportunity for you to get these innovative objects into your life.

Homepage of Tej Chauhan, a beautiful company website design with abstract photography

20. Amanda Martocchio Architecture

An architecture firm might not specialize in web development, but its website should still demonstrate its commitment to visually pleasing design. Amanda Martocchio took that to heart with this gorgeous website.

It’s no secret that Amanda Martocchio Architecture loves its work — each picture on the homepage of its website is an enchanting shot of the houses the company designs. The website labels every house you scroll through with the type of design that was intended, along with numerous angles to each building.

Homepage of Amanda Martocchio Architecture, a company website with beautiful photography

Want more website design examples? Check out these amazing product pages you’ll want to copy immediately.

examples of brilliant homepage, blog, and landing page design

Confirmed: Mark Zuckerberg Will Appear Before European Parliament

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani released a statement today confirming that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has accepted an invitation to appear before its Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

The announcement comes after weeks of speculation and rumors that Zuckerberg would make such an appearance. In a post published yesterday, HubSpot predicted that Facebook’s high volume of news releases and statements this week — compounded by a recent executive re-organization — could indicate that an international testimony from Zuckerberg was imminent.

While an official date has not been confirmed, Tajani’s statement does indicate the Committee hopes Zuckerberg will appear as soon as next week.

It is worth noting that pivotal EU data privacy laws — the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) — come into force next week, on May 25.

According to Tajani’s statement, the Conference of Presidents — essentially, European Parliament’s governing body — will organize a hearing with both Facebook and “other parties,” with a focus on the role of the social network in European electoral policies.

The timing of the announcement is particularly interesting after Facebook’s U.K. Head of Public Policy Rebecca Stimson issued a letter earlier this week to members of UK Parliament indicating that “Mr. Zuckerberg has no plans to meet with the committee or travel to the UK at the present time.”

180514-Rebecca-Stimson-Facebook-to-Ctte-Chair-re-oral-ev-follow-up

Source: UK Parliament

That letter was written in response to an earlier one from House of Commons Culture Committee chairman Damian Collins, in which he wrote that “the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for [Zuckerberg] to appear when he is next in the UK.”

As for how this latest slated appearance from Zuckerberg will ultimately impact Facebook — if at all — some remain skeptical. The company posted strong Q1 2018 earnings, as well as an enthusiastic response from the audience at F8, its annual developer conference.

“Zuckerberg’s U.S. testimony, and the entire situation at-large, didn’t seem to have much of a negative impact on user growth or financial data,” says HubSpot Social Media Editor Henry Franco. “I’m interested to see if this will play out in a similar fashion, or the same, especially in light of GDPR and an increased regulatory focus on how companies collect, store, and manage data.”

This is a developing story and we will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Unriddled: Google’s Mass Exodus, Another Snapchat Redesign, and More Tech News You Need

Welcome one, welcome all, to your unofficial midweek marker: HubSpot’s Wednesday weekly tech news roundup. 

The industry has had a very, very busy week. But you’re short on time. We’re short on time. Everyone is short on time. And that’s why we’re bringing you Unriddled: a quick-and-dirty edition.

This week, we’re going to provide a very short rundown of each news item that grabbed our attention over the past few days. Whether you simply scan it or read more, we can all but guarantee that you’ll sound very informed at happy hour.

So, without further ado: Let’s break it all down. Here’s our Wednesday tech news roundup.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. Google Employees Are Resigning in Droves in Protest of Project Maven

Roughly three months ago, Google’s work on a hotly-contested military drone footage analysis program — Project Maven — became public. But many of the company’s (now former) employees have taken great issue with its participation in the project and are resigning in protest. Read more about their reasons and the project’s history from Gizmodo‘s Kate Conger. Read full story >>

2. Snapchat Rolls out Another Redesign

After testing it among a small group of users, Snapchat is rolling out a redesign of its app to most iOS users. The changes follow a very poorly-received earlier redesign — one that was widely-panned by celebrities and everyday users alike — and after disappointing Q1 2018 earnings. Among other changes, the app’s messaging current inbox algorithm will be removed, backtracking the previous redesign’s model of ranking certain messages over others. Read more about these developments from 
Recode‘s Kurt Wagner.
Read full story >>

3. We Looked Through the Russian-Bought Facebook Ads. Here’s What We Noticed.

The U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Minority has released over 3,000 Russian-bought Facebook ads leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Here’s a look at some of them. Read HubSpot’s full story >>

4. Instagram Introduces an Emoji Slider

Last week, Instagram rolled out a new Emoji Slider sticker that can be added to Stories. As the name suggests, the sticker allows users to place an interactive sliding scale using an emoji of their choice to get feedback on questions like, “How 🌶 do you like your salsa? Read the official announcement >>

5. Facebook Has Suspended 200 Apps in Data Misuse Audit

As Facebook continues to investigate any apps with significant user information access, an announcement comes that it has suspended 200 apps for possible data misuse. Read HubSpot’s full story >>

6. Twitter Announces New Approach to Combat Platform Abuse

Twitter will begin evaluating different user and account behaviors to limit the visibility of abusive content. In a tweet from Tuesday afternoon, CEO Jack Dorsey announced plans to host a Periscope about this plan in the near future. “Our ultimate goal is to encourage more free and open conversation,” he wrote. “To do that we need to significantly reduce the ability to game and skew our systems. Looking at behavior, not content, is the best way to do that.” Read HubSpot’s full story >>

7. Facebook Removed 1.9 Million Pieces of Terrorist Propaganda Content in Q1 2018

Facebook released its first public-facing Community Standards Enforcement Report yesterday, indicating the volume and nature of violating content on its site. Read HubSpot’s full story >>

8. Uber Riders, Drivers and Employees Can Pursue Individual Claims of Assault in Open Court

Uber has reversed one of its highly controversial forced arbitration policies for riders, drivers, and employees. Any member of these parties with sexual assault claims against the company can sue Uber and pursue their cases in open court. Uber also recently announced that users can rate their drivers mid-ride, rather than having to wait until the ride has concluded. Read more about the arbitration reversal from Recode‘s Johana Bhuiyan. Read full story >>

9. Facebook Unveils Youth Portal to Help Teens Navigate the Network

Facebook has launched its Youth Portal to help teens use the network’s features, understand how their data is used, and decide what to share. Read HubSpot’s full story >>

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

Here’s Why Editors Reject Your Guest Blog Pitches [New Research]

Inbound marketing: You know it’s all about using content to educate others and attract people to your brand. You create and distribute unique, valuable, educational content, and members of your audience take notice.

If you’re practicing inbound marketing, you probably also know that guest posting your content to outside publications is one of the most effective ways of reaching those people where they already are and drawing them directly to you.

When you do it well, guest posting can be a great addition to your content marketing strategy. You can reach new audiences, establish credibility, drive qualified site traffic, generate leads, and earn links that help you build a stronger organic presence.

And at a time when 55% of marketers say growing traffic is a top marketing priority and 61% say SEO is a top inbound priority, guest posting can be a seriously effective solution.

Unlike blogging on your own website, though, guest blogging requires you to earn placement. This means that you have to work alongside a publication editor to deliver content that fits.

For the second year in a row, my team at Influence & Co. has surveyed online publication editors across multiple industries to uncover trends in what they’re looking for in the guest posts they accept.

We asked them all kinds of questions: How much and what kind of guest content do they plan to publish? What do the best guest posts have in common? What’s the biggest problem with guest content? Are there certain times of year when more content is needed?

We’ve compiled the full findings from this survey — plus an analysis of more than 3.5 million pieces of published content — in “The State of Digital Media 2018” to help our fellow marketers produce, pitch, and publish guest content that better meets their company goals.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to know what’s going on inside the minds of the gatekeepers of your guest posts, this one’s for you. Check out the infographic below to learn more about what editors and their audiences are looking for — and how you can deliver it.

State-of-Digital-Media-2018-IG

 

How HubSpot Grew Online Customer Reviews By 157%

Nowadays, reviews matter more than ever. In fact, over 85% of U.S. adults say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

At HubSpot, we know reviews are important for driving leads to our product in the first place. But we’re starting to recognize the importance of reviews at the end of a buyer’s journey, as well.

Review websites rank super well on Google for purchase-intent software terms we care about, like “crm software”, “best crm software” and “crm systems”.

People searching for terms like these are ready to buy CRM software and as a result, are highly likely to turn into customers.

You can hardly blame Google for serving this content first. With over 500 providers of CRM software, it’s tough for customers to hop from vendor to vendor to choose the right CRM. They need a single resource that lists top CRM software. A number of sites have capitalized on this opportunity.

With these review sites dominating search for almost every CRM keyword with commercial intent, we needed to improve our presence on these websites and grow our customer reviews.

Here, we’ll walk you through our experience choosing the best channels to collect reviews, designing review request emails for optimal growth, and developing a strong review acquisition strategy that elevated our company to the top three on CRM software review sites.

The Best Channels for Review Collection

We tested out a number of different channels for collecting reviews. Ultimately, email, events, and triggering reviews based on product usage proved most effective.

1. Email

Email is a staple at HubSpot, and we often communicate with our customers via email. This seemed like the obvious channel for us to ask for customer reviews.

We were able to identify core groups of users who would be a great fit to ask for reviews.

The first group we emailed for reviews were our NPS promoters — a group of people who rate us highly when asked how likely they are to recommend us to a friend.

The second group we emailed for reviews were people who had recently experienced delight from using our product. For example, when someone closed a deal in our CRM (ding), that was a good time to ask them to write a review about us.

These two groups of people, and the channel of email, were critical to successfully collect reviews on an ongoing basis, since those people were deriving value from our products.

2. In App

Using your software to ask users to review your product in-app is another great way to gather reviews. You can test out asking people to review your product at different times based on their actions. At HubSpot, we asked people to review us on occasion after they closed a deal in HubSpot CRM. Instagram also does this occasionally after someone has posted a photo to boost reviews in places like the App Store.

3. Events

Events were another core channel we used to grow our reviews. Each year thousands of HubSpot customers attend our INBOUND event in Boston. We suspected this would be another great place for us to collect reviews, as there was a high amount of foot traffic from HubSpot customers.

125 Positive Reviews in Three Days

Leveraging our INBOUND event, where we have a ton of happy customers and partners, turned out to be a successful avenue for collecting reviews. We knew getting a lot of reviews in a couple of days would could close the gap between us and those we compete with within the CRM space.

During the course of three days, we collected customer reviews on Capterra and G2Crowd using iPads in an area of the event where HubSpot customers congregate.

As a result, we collected 125 reviews for HubSpot products. This enabled us to surpass Zoho and Nimble’s review numbers on Capterra.

We became the third most-reviewed CRM on Capterra, despite being much later to the CRM space than many of our competitors.

Three Things We Learned About Asking for Reviews

When asking for reviews, we didn’t just vary the channels we used to reach customers — we also varied the design and copy of our requests.

There are three critical lessons we learned from extensive A/B testing. As a result of our efforts, we saw an exceptional increase in the amount of people willing to write a review.

If you want to ask your customers for a review, you’ll want to take note of the following three lessons.

1. Rewarding people for leaving a review works wonders

We ran an A/B test via email to find out if rewards would make customers more likely to review us. For the enabled group, we offered a $10 Amazon gift voucher to the first ten people who reviewed us. For the control group, we used the same design and almost identical copy, but removed mentions of the reward.

The chance of a small reward boosted our review numbers by a staggering +733%. Despite the huge increase in the quantity of reviews being left, the high quality of reviews being left did not change.

Normally, our conversation rate for review email sends stands at 3%, but when a reward was offered, it jumped to 25%. Mentioning the reward in the subject line did not peak people’s curiosity (open rates were the same).

Some rewards might resonate more with your customers than others and improve your results. We recommend testing out different rewards to see which ones gain the best results. Potential rewards include Amazon, iTunes, Panera, Target, or a Virtual Visa international gift card. Rybbon integrates with HubSpot to make this process seamless.

One thing to note is that many review sites don’t allow you to reward customers for providing a review. This is a controversial issue in the review space. Before offering customers a reward in exchange for reviewing your company, it’s best to check out the review guidelines provided by that particular review website.

2. The format of the ask matters

We wanted to find out what type of emails work best when asking customers to review us. To do this, we pitted multiple emails with fancy design and copy against each other.

 

Despite our best efforts at copywriting and design, nothing worked as well as a plain and simple email without cheesy copy or attractive design. It was the plain text email (left) without design or extravagant copy that won the hearts of our customers.

3. You have to make it easy for people to review you

Bringing customers through the right flow for review collection is critical for a high conversion rate. Through A/B testing, we evaluated whether sending people to a profile page or review collection page would influence their likelihood to leave a review.

We brought one group of customers to our profile page on a review site (Flow A, below). Here, they had to click a call-to-action before being asked for their review of our software. We sent another group of customers right into the review collection process (Flow B, below). Once people clicked through from the email, they were able to leave their review right away.

We found having the least possible steps was most effective for review collection. The extra step in flow A lead to a drop-off rate in the region of 90%. It’s super important to make it easy for people to leave a review, otherwise they won’t do it.

We learned a lot about how we should collect customer reviews from running these experiments. The rewards one alone boosted our conversion rate from 3% to 25%. But, even with everything we learned from our experiments, we realized using email for growth wasn’t enough.

Having a freemium product worked to our advantage. We acquire a lot more users than many of our competitors because our CRM is a free product. This is very useful when it comes to collecting reviews, as you have a much bigger pool of users to ask.

Asking our customers to review us didn’t just contribute to customer acquisition, it also helped our sales team close more deals and grew our website traffic.

We ran an SEO experiment where we added review schema markup to our product pages, and this increased clicks to those pages by 10%.

Having a review acquisition strategy was hugely beneficial for us at HubSpot. Hopefully, you can use some of our learnings to boost your own customer reviews. 

31 Call-to-Action Examples You Can’t Help But Click

Think about all the times you’ve signed up for things in your life. Did you once download Evernote? Dropbox? Spotify? Maybe you’ve even taken a class on General Assembly.

Each one of these signups is likely a result of an effective call-to-action (CTA).

And it’s really important to guide your visitors through the buying journey using strategic CTAs. Think about it: If you hadn’t been drawn in by the copy or design of the CTA, or been guided so eloquently through your sign-up process, you would probably use a lot fewer apps and websites than you do now.

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To help you identify what’s effective and what’s not, we’ve listed out 31 examples of CTAs that totally rock. These call-to-action examples are broken out into three categories:

  • Simple and effective CTAs
  • CTAs with great call-to-action phrases
  • CTAs that balancing multiple buttons on one page

Simple & Effective Call-to-Action Examples

1. Evernote

CTA Button: Sign Up

“Remember Everything.” Visitors can immediately understand that message the moment they land on this page. The design on Evernote’s website makes it super simple for users to see quick benefits of using the app and how to actually sign up to use it. Plus, the green color of the main and secondary CTA buttons is the same green as the headline and the Evernote logo, all of which jump off the page.

Evernote call to action button

2. Dropbox

CTA Button: Sign up for free

Dropbox has always embraced simple design with a lot of negative space. Even the graphics on their homepage are subtle and simple.

Thanks to that simple design and negative space, the blue “Sign up for free” call-to-action button stands out from everything else on the page. Since the CTA and the Dropbox logo are the same color, it’s easy for the visitor to interpret this CTA as “Sign up for Dropbox.” That’s one effective call-to-action.

Dropbox call to action button

3. OfficeVibe

CTA Button: Subscribe

Here’s a slide-in call-to-action that caught my attention from OfficeVibe. While scrolling through a post on their blog, a banner slid in from the bottom of the page with a call-to-action to subscribe to their blog. The best part? The copy on the slide-in told me I’d be getting tips about how to become a better manager — and the post it appeared on was a post about how to become a better manager. In other words, the offer was something I was already interested in.

OfficeVibe call to action button

Plus, I like how unobtrusive slide-in CTAs are — as opposed to what my colleague Rachel Sprung calls the “stop-everything-and-click-here-pop-up-CTA.” I find these CTAs offer a more lovable experience because they provide more information while still allowing me to continue reading the blog post. (Click here for a tutorial on how to add slide-in CTAs to your blog posts.)

4. Netflix

CTA Button: Join Free for a Month

One big fear users have before committing to sign up for something? That it’ll be a pain to cancel their subscription if they end up not liking it. Netflix nips that fear in the bud with the “Cancel anytime” copy right above the “Join Free for a Month” CTA. I’d venture a guess that reassurance alone has boosted signups. Also, you’ll notice again that the red color of the primary and secondary CTAs here match Netflix’s logo color.

Netflix call to action button

5. Square

CTA Button: Get Started

To achieve effective CTA design, you need to consider more than just the button itself. It’s also super important to consider elements like background color, surrounding images, and surrounding text.

Mindful of these additional design components, the folks at Square used a single image to showcase the simplicity of using their product, where the hovering “Get Started” CTA awaits your click. If you look closely, the color of the credit card in the image and the color of the CTA button match, which helps the viewer connect the dots of what to expect if/when they click.

Square call to action button

6. Prezi

CTA Button: Give Prezi a try

The folks at Prezi are also into the minimalist design look on their website. Other than the green dinosaur and the dark brown coffee, the only other color accompanying the predominantly black-and-white design is a bright blue — the same blue from their main logo. That bright blue is strategically placed on the homepage: the main “Give Prezi a try” CTA, and the secondary “Get Started” CTA, both of which take users to the same pricing page.

Prezi call to action button

7. Full Bundle

CTA Button: Our Work

Full Bundle is another company that uses negative space to make their primary CTA pop. The white “Our Work” call-to-action stands out against the dark greys of the background. Their choice of CTA is strategic, too. Given that they primarily exist to build out clients’ online presences, it’s important for them to showcase their work — and that’s what most folks are going to their website for.

Full Bundle call to action button

8. Panthera

CTA Button: Join

The folks at Panthera are looking for users who really care about wild cats around the world and want to join a group of people who feel the same way. To target those people in particular, we love how they use language that would speak to big cat-lovers: “Join the pride today.” The page itself is super simple: an on-page form with two, simple fields, and a button asking folks to (again) “Join.”

Panthera call to action button

CTAs With Creative Call to Action Phrases

9. Huemor

CTA Phrase: ‘Launch (Do Not Press)’

If you went to a website and saw a “Launch” CTA accompanied by the copy “Do Not Press” … what would you do? Let’s be honest: You’d be dying to press it. The use of harmless reverse psychology here is playful, which is very much in keeping with Huemor’s brand voice.

Huemor call to action button

10. Aquaspresso

CTA Phrase: ‘Send Me Specials Now!’

The whole point of a call-to-action is to direct your site visitors to a desired course of action — and the best CTAs do so in a way that’s helpful to their visitors. The folks at coffee company Aquaspresso really nailed that balance here with the pop-up CTA on their main blog page.

Here, the desired course of action is for their blog readers to check out what they’re actually selling (and hopefully buy from them). There are many ways they could have done this, including putting out a CTA that urges people to “Check out our most popular products!” or something very direct. But we love what they’ve done instead: Their CTA offers blog readers something much more helpful and subtle — an offer for “today’s specials” in exchange for the reader’s email address.

Adding that the specials are for today only is a great example of a psychological tactic called scarcity, which causes us to assign more value to things we think are scarce. The fear that today’s specials are better than tomorrow’s might make people want to fill it out and claim their offer while they can.

Aquaspresso call to action button

(The call-to-action above was created using HubSpot’s free conversion tool, Leadin. Click here to learn how to easily create CTAs like this one using Leadin.)

11. QuickSprout

CTA Phrase: ‘Are you doing your SEO wrong? Enter your URL to find out’

No one wants to be wrong. That’s why a call-to-action button like QuickSprout’s slide-in CTA on their blog is so clickworthy. It asks the reader, “Are you doing your SEO wrong?” Well, am I? All I have to do is enter my URL to find out — seems easy enough. It’s language like that that can really entice visitors to click through.

Plus, having the CTA slide in mid-blog post is a great tactic for catching readers before they bounce off the page. Traditionally, many blogs have CTAs at the very bottom of each blog post, but research shows most readers only get 60% of the way through an article. (Click here to learn how to add slide-in CTAs to your blog posts.)

QuickSpout slide-in call to action button

12. Grey Goose

CTA Phrase: ‘Discover a cocktail tailored to your taste’

Here’s a fun, unique call-to-action that can get people clicking. Whereas site visitors might have expected to be directed to product pages or press releases from the homepage, a CTA to “Discover a Cocktail Tailored to Your Taste” is a pleasantly surprising ask. People love personalization, and this CTA kind of feels like an enticing game. The play button icon next to the copy gives a hint that visitors will be taken to a video so they have a better idea of what to expect when they click.

Grey Goose call to action button

13. Treehouse

CTA Phrase: ‘Claim Your Free Trial’

A lot of company websites out there offer users the opportunity to start a free trial. But the CTA on Treehouse’s website doesn’t just say “Start a Free Trial”; it says “Claim Your Free Trial.”

The difference in wording may seem subtle, but think about how much more personal “Claim Your Free Trial” is. Plus, the word “claim” suggests it may not be available for long, giving users a sense of urgency to get that free trial while they can.

Treehouse call to action button

14. OKCupid

CTA Phrase: ‘Continue’

OKCupid’s CTA doesn’t seem that impressive at first glance, but its brilliance is in the small details.

The call-to-action button, which is bright green and stands out well on a dark blue background, says, “Continue.” The simplicity of this term gives hope that the signup process is short and casual. To me, this CTA feels more like I’m playing a fun game than filling out a boring form or committing to something that might make me nervous. And it’s all due to the copy.

OKCupid signup call to action button

15. Blogging.org

CTA Phrase: Countdown Clock

Nothing like a ticking timer to make someone want to take action. After spending a short amount of time on blogging.org’s homepage, new visitors are greeted with a pop-up CTA with a “limited time offer,” accompanied by a timer that counts down from two minutes.

As with Aquaspresso’s example in #10, this is a classic use of the psychological tactic called scarcity, which causes us to assign more value to things we think are scarce. Limiting the time someone has to fill out a form makes people want to fill it out and claim their offer while they can.

Curious, what happens when time runs out? So was I. Hilariously, nothing happens. The pop-up CTA remains on the page when the timer gets to zero.

Blogging.org call to action button

16. IMPACT Branding & Design

CTA Phrase: ‘What We Do’

CTAs can feel really pushy and salesy if the wrong language is used. I like IMPACT’s educational approach, where they challenge visitors to learn what the company does before pushing them to take any further action. This calls-to-action is especially intriguing to me because they don’t even use an action verb, yet they still manage to entice people to click.

Impact Branding & Design 'What We Do' call to action button

17. EPIC

CTA Phrase: ‘Let’s start a new project together’

The folks at the agency EPIC use their homepage primarily to showcase their work. When you arrive on the page, you’re greeted with animated videos showing some of the work they’ve done for clients, which rotate on a carousel. While there plenty of other places users might click on their site — including their clients’ websites — the main call-to-action stands out and always contrasts with the video that’s playing in the background.

I love that it features friendly, inclusive language — “Let’s start a new project together” — which gives a hint to users looking for a creative partner that they’re an especially great team to work for.

EPIC agency call to action button

18. Brooks Running

CTA Phrase: ‘Find out when we have more’

How many times have you hotly pursued a product you love, only to discover it’s sold out? Well, as you might know, it’s no picnic for the seller either. But just because you’ve run out of an item doesn’t mean you should stop promoting it.

Brooks Running uses a clever call to action to ensure their customers don’t bounce from their website just because their favorite shoe is out of stock. In the screenshot below, you can see Brooks touting an awesome-looking shoe with the CTA, “Find out when we have more.” I love how this button turns bad news into an opportunity to retain customers. Without it, Brooks’ customers would likely forget about the shoe and look elsewhere.

When you click on the blue CTA button depicted below, Brooks directs you to a page with a simple code you can text the company. This code prompts Brooks to automatically alert the visitor when the shoe they want is available again.

Brooks Running shoe product availability CTA

19. Humboldt County

CTA Phrase: ‘Follow the Magic’

Humboldt County’s website is gorgeous on its own: It greets you with a full-screen video of shockingly beautiful footage. But what I really love is the unconventional call-to-action button placed in the bottom center, which features a bunny icon and the words “Follow the Magic.”

It enhances the sort of fantastical feel of the footage, making you feel like you’re about to step into a fairytale.

Humboldt County follow CTA button

What’s more, once you click into that CTA, the website turns into a sort of choose-your-own-adventure game, which is a fun call-to-action path for users and encourages them to spend more time on the site.

humboldt-choose-adventure-cta.png

Balancing Multiple Call-to-Action Buttons

20. Uber

CTA Buttons: Sign up to drive | Start riding with Uber

Uber’s looking for two, very distinct types of people to sign up on their website: riders and drivers. Both personas are looking for totally different things, and yet, the website ties them together really well with the large video playing in the background showing Uber riders and drivers having a good time in locations all over the world.

I love the copy of the driver CTA at the top, too: It doesn’t get much more straightforward than, “Make money driving your car.” Now that’s speaking people’s language.

Uber double call to action buttons

21. Spotify

CTA Buttons: Go Premium | Play Free

As soon as you reach Spotify’s homepage, it’s pretty clear that their main goal is to attract customers who are willing to pay for a premium account, while the CTA for users to sign up for free is very much secondary.

It’s not just the headline that gives this away; it’s also the coloring of their CTA buttons. The “Go Premium” CTA is lime green, making it pop off the page, while the “Play Free” CTA is plain white and blends in with the rest of the copy on the page. This contrast ensures that visitors are drawn to the premium CTA.

Spotify call to action buttons

22. Ugmonk

CTA Buttons: Send me the coupons | I’m not interested

Exit CTAs, also known as exit intent pop-ups, are different than normal pop-ups. They detect your users’ behavior and only appear when it seems as though they’re about to leave your site. By intervening in a timely way, these pop-ups serve as a fantastic way of getting your reader’s attention while offering them a reason to stay.

Ugmonk has a great exit CTA, offering two options for users as a final plea before they leave the site. First, they offer a 15% discount on their products, followed by two options: “Yes Please: Send me the coupon” and “No Thanks: I’m not interested.” It’s super helpful that each CTA clarifies what “Yes” and “No” actually mean, and I also like that they didn’t use guilt-tripping language like “No Thanks: I hate nature” like I’ve seen on other websites. Finally, notice that the “Yes Please” button is much brighter and inviting in color than the other option.

Ugmonk call to action buttons

23. Pinterest

CTA Buttons: Continue with Facebook | Sign Up

Want to sign up for Pinterest? You have a couple of options: sign up via Facebook or via email. If you have a Facebook account, Pinterest wants you to do that first. How do I know? Aesthetically, I know because the blue Facebook CTA comes first and is much more prominent, colorful, and recognizable due to the branded logo and color. Logically, I know because if you log in through Facebook, Pinterest can pull in Facebook’s API data and get more information about you than if you log in through your email address.

Although this homepage is optimized to bring in new members, you’ll notice a very subtle CTA for folks with Pinterest accounts to log in on the top right.

Pinterest signup call to action button

24. Madewell

CTA Buttons: Take me there | What’s next?

Madewell (owned by J.Crew) has always had standout website design, taking what could be a typical ecommerce website to the next level. Their use of CTAs on their homepage is no exception.

When you first arrive on the page, you’re greeted with the headline “I’m Looking For …” followed by a category, like “Clothes That’ll Travel Anywhere.” Below this copy are two options: “Yes, Take Me There” or “Hmm… What’s Next?” The user can choose between the two CTAs to either browse clothes that are good for travel, or be taken to the next type of clothing, where they can play again.

This gamification is a great way to make your site more interesting for users who come across it without having a specific idea of where they want to look.

Madewell clothes shopping call to action buttons

25. Instagram

CTA Buttons: Download on the App Store | Get it on Google Play

Since Instagram is a mainly mobile app, you’ll see two black CTAs of equal size: one to download Instagram in Apple’s App Store, and another to download it on Google Play. The reason these CTAs are of equal caliber is because it doesn’t matter if someone downloads the app in the App Store or on Google Play … a download is a download, which is exactly what Instagram is optimizing for. If you already have Instagram, you can also click the CTA to “Log In” if you’d prefer that option, too.

Instagram signup call to action buttons

26. Barkbox

CTA Buttons: Get Started | Give a Gift

The two CTAs on Barkbox’s homepage show that the team there knows their customers: While many people visiting their site are signing up for themselves, there are a lot of people out there who want to give Barkbox as a gift. To give those people an easy path to purchase, there are two, equally sized CTAs on the page: “Get Started” and “Give a Gift.”

As an added bonus, there’s an adorable, pop-up call-to-action on the right-hand side of the screen prompting users to leave a message if they’d like. Click into it, and a small dialogue box pops up that reads, “Woof! I’m afraid our pack is not online. Please leave us a message and we’ll bark at you as soon as pawsible.” Talk about delightful copy.

Barkbox call to action buttons

27. t.c. pharma

CTA Buttons: Find out more | View products

Turns out Red Bull isn’t its own parent company: It’s owned by Thailand-based t.c. pharma, a company that makes popular energy drinks, electrolyte beverages, and functional drinks and snacks.

Its homepage features two call-to-action buttons of equal size: “Find out more” and “View products” — but it’s clear by the bright yellow color of the first button that they’d rather direct folks to “Find out more.”

t.c. pharma product info call to action buttons

28. General Assembly

CTA Buttons: View Full-Time Courses | Subscribe

As you scroll through the General Assembly website, you’ll see CTAs for various courses you may or may not want to sign up for. I’d like to point your attention to the CTA that slides in from the bottom of the page as you’re scrolling, though, which suggests that you subscribe to email updates.

Although this feels like a secondary CTA due to its location and manner, I actually think they try to sneak this in to become more of a primary CTA because it’s so much more colorful and noticeable than the CTAs for individual classes. When you create your own CTAs, try using bolder colors — even ones that clash with your regular stylings — to see if it’s effective at getting people’s attention. (Click here for a tutorial on how to add slide-in CTAs to your webpages.)

General Assembly subscribe call to action button

29. charity: water

CTA Buttons: Give by Credit Card | Give by PayPal

Charity: water’s main goal is to get people to donate money for clean water — but they can’t assume that everyone wants to pay the same way.

The CTAs featured on their homepage take a really unique approach to offering up different payment methods by pre-filling $60 into a single line form and including two equally important CTAs to pay via credit card or PayPal. Notice how both CTAs are the same size and design — this is because charity: water likely doesn’t care how you donate, as long as you’re donating.

charity: water donation call to action button

30. Hipmunk

CTA Buttons: Flights | Hotels | Cars | Packages

When you land on the Hipmunk site, your main option is to search flights. But notice there are four tabs you can flip through: flights, hotels, cars, and packages.

When you click into one of these options, the form changes so you can fill out more information. To be 100% sure you know what you’re searching for, Hipmunk placed a bright orange CTA at the far right-hand side of the form. On this CTA, you’ll see a recognizable icon of a plane next to the word “Search,” so you know for sure that you’re searching for flights, not hotels. When you’re on the hotels tab, that icon changes to a hotel icon. Same goes with cars and packages.

Hipmunk flights and hotel bookings CTA form

31. MakeMyPersona

CTA Buttons: Grab the template! | No thanks

Here’s another example of a great pop-up with multiple calls-to-action — except in this case, you’ll notice the size, color, and design of the users’ two options are very different from one another. In this case, the folks at MakeMyPersona are making the “Grab the template!” CTA much more attractive and clickable than the “No, I’m OK for now, thanks” CTA — which doesn’t even look like a clickable button.

I also like how the “no” option uses polite language. I find brands that don’t guilt-trip users who don’t want to take action to be much, much more lovable.

MakeMyPersona template download call to action button

There you have it. By now, we hope you can see just how important little CTA tweaks can be.

Full Disclosure: We don’t have data to know if these are all scientifically successful, but these examples all follow our best practices. If you decide to recreate these CTAs on your site, please remember to test to see if they work for your audience.

Want more CTA design inspiration? Check out some of our favorite HubSpot call-to-action examples.

calls-to-action

Twitter Announces New Approach to Combat Platform Abuse

Twitter today followed up on its March request for proposals to measure the health of its network with announcements of a new approach to how it will handle abuse on its platform.

In a statement written by VP of Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, and Director of Product Management, Health, David Gasca, it was noted that while less than 1% of accounts make up those reported as abusive, Twitter acknowledges they still “have a disproportionately large — and negative — impact on people’s experience.”

To address that, Twitter says it’s taking action to curb content that misrepresents and distracts from larger, important conversations — by measuring the behavior of actors and users who intend to share it. 

Twitter to Measure New Behavioral Signals

The Signals

The behavioral signals Twitter will measure — which it says are not all externally visible — include flagging accounts without a confirmed email address. Blocking notifications or mentions from accounts of this nature is an option in the network’s user settings, along with several other criteria.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 12.44.12 PM

Additionally, Twitter will flag instances of a single individual signing up for multiple accounts in a short period of time (or at the same time), as well as accounts that habitually Tweet to other accounts that don’t follow them back.

Twitter also says it will institute new practices to detect indications of “coordinated attacks” on its site, as well as ways to measure the behavior of accounts that violate standards and the way they engage with each other.

What the Signals Will Do

The point of these behavioral measurements is to be proactive — to help Twitter detect abuse on its platform before users have to report it themselves.

Ultimately, the signals will determine the way Twitter synthesizes and displays content to users in ways that are public across the network — like visible conversations among users, as well as search results.

The tricky part, however, is that these behaviors and the content that often comes with it don’t directly violate Twitter’s standards. The company, therefore, can’t completely remove it — or so the statement suggests.

So, while the content will remain live, Twitter will make it harder to find. For example, in order to see it, users will have to click “Show more replies” at the bottom of threads to see such content, or change their settings to see all search results.

IMG_1704

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 1.01.26 PM

The Results

The outcome, Twitter hopes, is a higher visibility of (and engagement with) what it describes as “healthy conversation.”

Twitter has been testing these signals in various global markets, seeing such results as a 4% decrease in abuse reports from search, and an 8% decrease in abuse reports from conversations and threads.

At the same time, however, Twitter says there’s still a long road ahead to fully addressing the health of the network.

“We’ll continue to be open and honest about the mistakes we make and the progress we are making,” write Harvey and Gasca. “We’re encouraged by the results we’ve seen so far, but also recognize that this is just one step on a much longer journey to improve the overall health of our service and your experience on it.”

Facebook Removed 1.9 Million Pieces of Terrorist Content in Q1 2018

Facebook released its first-ever public-facing Community Standards Enforcement Report today, which includes a preliminary inventory of rule-violating content and the removal action Facebook took on it.

The report, which was included in the company’s overall Transparency Report, largely covers the content in violation of Facebook’s Community Standards that was discovered and removed from October 2017 to March 2018. 

It focuses on content that falls into six key categories:

  1. Graphic Violence
  2. Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity
  3. Terrorist Propaganda (ISIS, al-Qaeda and affiliates)
  4. Hate Speech
  5. Spam
  6. Fake Accounts

Earlier this year, Facebook published its content moderation and internal Community Standards guidelines, in hopes of shedding light on why certain items are removed from the network. In the context of this newly-released report, it was perhaps an anticipatory move prior to publishing content removal figures.

Here’s a look at the nature and extent of content removal in the above six categories.

Facebook Publishes Its First-Ever Community Standards Enforcement Report

1. Graphic Violence

Facebook either removed or placed warning labels on roughly 3.5 million pieces of violent content in Q1 2018, 86% of which was flagged by its AI before anyone reported it to Facebook.

The Community Standards Enforcement Report includes an estimate of the total percentage of content views consisted of graphic violence. That is, out of all content viewed on Facebook in Q1 2018, for instance, the company reports that somewhere between 0.22% and 0.27% violated standards for graphic violence.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 11.04.29 AM

Source: Facebook

That’s up from the estimated 0.16% to 0.19% in Q4 2017 — “despite improvements in our detection technology in Q1 2018.” The explanation for that, the report says, is simply due to a greater amount of content of this nature published on Facebook.

Additionally, the 3.5 million pieces of content Facebook within this category on which Facebook took action, is also an increase — from 1.2 million in Q4 2017.

So while there was likely an overall increase in the content of this type shared on the network, the growth in the number on which Facebook took action is probably due, the report says, to improvements in its AI detection systems.

2. Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity

Facebook removed 21 million pieces of content containing adult nudity and sexual activity in Q1 2018 — 96% of that was discovered by its AI technology before it was reported.

It’s predicted that 0.07% to 0.09% of all content viewed on Facebook in Q1 2018 violated standards for adult nudity and sexual activity in Q1 2018 — so, roughly 7-9 views out of every 10,000.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 11.15.32 AM

Source: Facebook

That’s an increase from 6-8 views in the previous quarter, which is too small for Facebook to account for what might be causing it. In the previous quarter, too, Facebook took action on a similar number of content pieces within this category.

3. Terrorist Propaganda

Facebook doesn’t currently have statistics on the prevalence of terrorist propaganda on its site — but it does report that it removed 1.9 pieces of such content from the network in Q1 2018.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 11.21.19 AM

Source: Facebook

That’s up more than 72% in the previous quarter, when 1.1 million pieces of terrorist propaganda content was removed.

Again, Facebook credits its AI detection systems for this increase — 99.5% of such content removed in Q1 2018 was removed by these systems, compared to 96.9% in Q4 2017.

Facebook classifies terrorist propaganda as that which is “specifically related to ISIS, al-Qaeda and their affiliates.”

4. Hate Speech

One of Facebook’s boasting points in this report is the fact that its artificial intelligence systems were responsible for flagging and removing a good portion of the standards-violating content in many of these categories.

But when it comes to hate speech, writes Facebook VP of Product Management Guy Rosen in a statement, “our technology still doesn’t work that well.”

Human review is still necessary to catch all instances of hate speech, Rosen explains, echoing many of the statements made about AI ethics during F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference.

Not only is hate speech nuanced, but because humans (who train the artificially intelligent machines designed to help moderate content) have their own implicit biases, that can sometimes cause flaws in the way something as relatively subjective as hate speech is flagged.

Nonetheless, Facebook removed 2.5 million pieces of hate speech in Q1 2018, 38% of which was flagged by AI technology. It does not currently have statistics on the prevalence of hate speech within all content viewed on the site.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 11.23.31 AM

Source: Facebook

5. Spam

Facebook defines spam as “inauthentic activity that’s automated (published by bots or scripts, for example) or coordinated (using multiple accounts to spread and promote deceptive content).”

It represents another category for which Facebook does not currently have exact figures of prevalence, as it says it’s still “updating measurement methods for this violation type.”

However, the report says that 837 million pieces of spam content were removed in Q1 2018 — a 15% increase from Q4 2017.

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 11.39.38 AM

Source: Facebook

6. Fake Accounts

“The key to fighting spam,” writes Rosen, “is taking down the fake accounts that spread it.”

Facebook removed roughly 583 million fake accounts in Q1 2018 — a decrease of over 30% — many of which were voided almost immediately after they were registered.

And despite these efforts, the company estimates that somewhere between 3-4% of all active accounts on Facebook during Q1 2018 were fake. 

As for the decrease in fake account removal from the previous quarter, Facebook points to “external factors” like cyberattacks that often come with a deluge of fake account creation on the network — usually by way of scripts and bots, with the goal of spreading as much spam and deceptive information as possible.

Because these factors occur with “variation,” Facebook says, the number of fake accounts on which the company takes action can vary from quarter to quarter.

Why Facebook Is Publishing This Information

In a statement penned by Facebook VP of Analytics Alex Schultz, the company’s reasons for making these numbers public is fairly simple: In transparency, there is accountability.

“Measurement done right helps organizations make smart decisions about the choices they face,” Schultz writes, “rather than simply relying on anecdote or intuition.”

And despite strong Q1 2018 earnings, as well as an enthusiastic response from the audience at F8, Facebook still continues to face a high degree of scrutiny. 

Tomorrow, for instance, brings yet another congressional hearing regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where whistleblower Christopher Wylie is due to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

This week, Facebook has issued a particularly high volume of statements and announcements about its growing efforts in the areas of transparency and user protections. The last time Facebook issued a high volume of this type of content was in the weeks leading up to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings.

These latest announcements could indicate preparations for further hearings — some outside of the U.S.

Facebook — Zuckerberg, specifically — is also under mounting pressure from international authorities to testify on user privacy and the weaponization of its network to influence major elections.

European Parliament continues to press Zuckerberg to appear in a hearing (now, it’s willing to do so in a closed-door session, according to some reportsafter initial rumors of such a testimony surfaced in April. 

Additionally, members of U.K. Parliament have been particularly staunch about Zuckerberg appearing before them, after recent testimony from CTO Mike Schroepfer allegedly left several questions unanswered.

In an open letter to Facebook dated May 1, House of Commons Culture Committee chairman Damian Collins wrote that “the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for [Zuckerberg] to appear when he is next in the UK.”

Yesterday, Facebook’s UK Head of Public Policy Rebecca Stimson issued a written response to that letter, in which she outlined answers to the 39 questions that the Committee said were left unanswered by Schroepfer’s testimony. 

“It is disappointing that a company with the resources of Facebook chooses not to provide a sufficient level of detail and transparency on various points,” Collins responded today. “We expected both detail and data, and in a number of cases got excuses.”

Featured image credit: Facebook

How to Write a Successful Letter of Interest in 2018

It’s one of the worst feelings in the world.

You’ve spent weeks perfecting your resume and crafting the perfect cover letter, and you’re finally ready to submit your application for your dream job.

But when you scan the company’s careers page, panic starts pouring over you. The job you wanted to apply for is no longer open. It’s gone. And as you stare at your laptop screen in shock, you can’t help but think you’ll never be able to join your dream company.

What should you do in this situation? You can’t just put your job search on pause until the company opens the position again. How do you express interest in joining a company when the position you want isn’t currently available?

One of the most effective ways to grab a hiring manager’s attention and get your foot in the door is by writing a letter of interest to the company.

Sending a letter of interest is a great way to introduce yourself to a company, and it shows them you’re willing to take the initiative to proactively reach out. This can keeps you top of mind when the company starts recruiting for the job you inquired about or if they have any upcoming job opportunities that could be a good fit. If you’re really impressive, some companies might even create a position just for you.

Other times, sending a letter of interest can lead to a coffee chat or an informational interview with the hiring manager of the team you want to work for.

Writing a letter of interest sounds like an easy way to get your foot in the door at any company, but it’ll only pique a hiring manager’s interest and elicit a response if it actually resonates with her.

To do so, we recommend following a formula called problem-agitate-solve. It’s modeled after an old copywriting framework and has helped one job seeker skyrocket her cover letter response rate from 0% to 55%. We’ll flesh it out below.

How to Write a Letter of Interest

To compel a hiring manager to read your letter, respond to it, and consider you for a job, there are four crucial elements you need to include in your letter of interest:

1. Hook the hiring manager with proof that you understand her problem.

Hiring managers don’t hire people just to be nice. They hire people to help them run their team better. To immediately grab a hiring manager’s attention, you should show how you understand the problems she’s trying to solve, like the hook below:

“As a two-year blogging veteran in the marketing technology industry at companies like Return Path and SlideBatch, I know how hard it is to write well. I also know how challenging it is to get found on Google.”

By describing a similar experience you’ve had at your current or prior job, you can relate to her on a deep level, which will engage and prompt her to read the rest of the letter.

The hardest part of this step is discovering the hiring manager’s problems. One way to figure it out is by listing off the job’s responsibilities and asking yourself why these tasks are important to her team. If you keep analyzing until you reach a dead end, you’ll usually find her needs there.

2. Agitate the problem to remind the hiring manager she needs a solution.

How do you make a hiring manager realize how valuable a solution could be? You remind her just how painful her problems are. And to make her visualize her dreaded problem as vividly as possible, you need to be specific, just like the example below:

“According to HubSpot’s careers page, you’re not currently hiring, but, in the future, if you’re looking for someone who can not only engage an audience with clear, concise, and compelling blog posts, but also optimize them for search engines, while hitting every deadline, you can count on me.”

When she realizes how much pain she’s actually in, she’ll have more of a sense of urgency to resolve it. And this’ll push her to respond to you because you might be her fastest route to a solution.

3. Prove that you’re the solution with an example of your skills and experience.

If you’re really the solution to her problems, you must prove to the hiring manager how you’ve used your skills to solve similar paint points in previous experiences. Then, you should describe how you’ll be able to use those learnings to help solve her current problems. Check out the example below:

“Last year, at Return Path, I was the top performing blogger, writing weekly posts that averaged 7,500 views, 1,000 social shares, and 35 new blog subscribers gained. The year before, at SlideBatch, I devised and implemented a new keyword strategy that increased organic page views for our Visual Marketing 101 blog series by 15%.

I’ve read HubSpot’s blog every day since I started my content marketing career, and I’m inbound, content, and email marketing certified, so I strongly believe I’ll be able to hit the ground running if I were to work on HubSpot’s blog team one day.

Whether I’d be uncovering high opportunity keywords or crafting blog posts to support and develop your team’s new pillar cluster model, I’m confident my skills and experience can help your team crush their goals.”

By quantifying your accomplishments and researching the company’s pain points, you’re proving your worth. But if you just list your skills and work experience, you’re only proving to the hiring manager that you’ve failed to make an impact.

4. Confidently request to move on to the next step.

At the end of your letter, you should express your interest in exploring upcoming opportunities or ask her to keep you top of mind when an opportunity opens up, like the call to action below:

“I’d love to learn about any upcoming roles on your team or be considered for a position later down the road. My resume is attached, and my contact details are listed in my email signature below. Thank you for your time! It was a pleasure connecting.”

These call-to-actions are crucial because they tell her how to get the ball rolling. If you don’t tell the hiring manager what to do next, then nothing will happen.

Letter of Interest Example

All together, a successful letter of interest looks like this:

Letter of Interest Template

Hi [Hiring Manager’s First Name],

As a [X]-year [Your Profession] veteran in the [Space You Work In] industry at [Most Prominent Companies You’ve Worked For], I know how hard it is to [Pain Point #1]. I also know how challenging it is to [Pain Point #2].

According to [Company] careers page, you’re currently not hiring, but, in the future, if you’re looking for someone who can not only [Solution for Pain Point #1], but also [Solution for Pain Point #2], you can count on me.

Last [Specific Timeframe], at [Current or Old Company], I was the best performing [Your Profession], [List Your Responsibilities and Describe the Impact You Made]. The [Specific Timeframe] before, at [Current or Old Company], I [List Your Responsibilities and Describe the Impact You Made].

[Show Hiring Manager that You’re a Voracious Learner and You Regularly Keep Up with Company News], so I strongly believe I’ll be able to hit the ground running if I were to work on [Company] team one day.

Whether I’d be [What the Team is Working on Now], I’m confident my skills and experience can help your team crush their goals.

I’d love to learn about any upcoming roles on your team or be considered for a role later down the road. My resume is attached, and my contact details are listed in my email signature below. Thank you for your time. It was a pleasure connecting!

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Steps to Take Before You Send Your Letter of Interest

After you finish writing your letter of interest, you need to make sure the company will actually open it. So before you send your letter, it’d be ideal if someone on the team personally knows who you are.

To do so, ask your connections or alumni that work at the company to introduce you to the team’s hiring manager. If you can’t do that, you could add the hiring manager on LinkedIn, tell her why you want to connect, and send her your letter of interest.

Getting your foot in the door will ultimately help you stand out from the crowd of job seekers who are all sending the same “hire me” pitch to her.