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The 11 Best Marketing Automation Software Tools in 2019

A majority of businesses are using some form of marketing automation nowadays — in fact, studies cite around 51% of businesses currently use the technology, and that number continues to grow.

According to a 2018 Forrester report, 55% of marketing decision-makers plan to increase their spending on technology, with one-fifth of the respondents expecting to increase by 10 percent or more.

All of which is to say — if you’re not using marketing automation software in 2019, you might want to reconsider.

Despite the necessity of automation software, it’s a complicated space, full of different software solutions with various features, and use cases.

Here, we’ve cultivated a list to help you sort through your options and feel confident choosing the best marketing solution for you and your team.

Free Guide: How to Master Marketing Automation

1. HubSpot Marketing Automation

HubSpot’s marketing automation functionality is one of the most powerful tools in this list in terms of features. It’s also one of the most popular in terms of customer sentiment, occupying the upper right portion of the G2 Crowd quadrant:

Of course, HubSpot has a full growth suite that includes sales software, marketing software, and support software, which all integrate automatically with HubSpot’s free CRM. The combination effect of having all of your data and growth activity in one place can unleash tons of creative automation possibilities that would be difficult or impossible if you use separate tools.

As a standalone, HubSpot’s marketing automation functionality includes an easy-to-use visual board where you can craft simple or highly sophisticated conditional workflows:

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It can take time to master the tool (you’ll scale-up more quickly with the help of HubSpot Academy), but once you get a grasp on it, the creative possibilities are endless. You can set up simple email list autoresponders, or build a smart and complex network of rules designed to target specific users with the exact right email, live chat, website experience, and more.

Basically, the workflows tool is automation beyond email, so you can scale your growth and spend less time on repetitive tasks.

2. Ontraport

Ontraport is a business automation software for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and small businesses.

While they have a CRM and marketing automation functionality, they also have several other features to run and grow a small business, including but not limited to:

  • Email marketing
  • Landing pages
  • Reporting
  • Ecommerce

One of the most valuable things Ontraport offers is their focus on reporting and insights. While some tools can be a bit of a black box, Ontraport gives you a clear look at the performance of your campaigns.

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3. SendinBlue

SendInBlue started as a digital agency but ended up building quite a powerful email marketing tool, which, with time, transformed into a well-liked marketing automation software.

They have some advanced features, such as their reporting and lead scoring. Additionally, SendinBlue offers a pretty impressive free plan, which includes basic marketing automation functionality, phone support, and up to 300 emails per day.

You can also run SMS campaigns from SendInBlue.

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4. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is an integrated email marketing, marketing automation, and small business CRM.

The strongest point of ActiveCampaign is their powerful and flexible marketing automation functionality. It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market. Their deliverability is rated as one of the top on the market, as well.

This probably isn’t a good tool for beginners, or those with low technical capabilities. It takes a bit more time and effort to learn — but when you do learn the platform, it’s pretty powerful.

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5. Pardot

Pardot, part of the SalesForce empire, is a powerful cloud automation solution that mostly serves enterprise clients that have the technical resources and time to learn the platform.

They have a ton of powerful features, from CRM integration to email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and a valuable ROI reporting functionality to make sure your campaigns are working.

You can track all interactions on your website and build predictive lead scoring based on the parameters you set. All of this helps improve marketing efficiency and remove wasted time and effort from your sales team.

It’s important to note, Pardot is a powerful enterprise but may not be as accessible or affordable for smaller businesses, or entrepreneurs.

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6. InfusionSoft

InfusionSoft (now Keap) has been around for a while (15+ years, I believe) and has helped thousands of marketers deliver on leads, revenue, and customer acquisition targets.

They really flourish in the small business and solopreneur crowd, and in my experience, I’ve noticed they have a pretty sophisticated user base.

You can set up relatively complex decision trees depending on which lead magnet someone signs up for, how many (and which) emails they open and click, or other contact property data.

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7. Autopilot

Autopilot is one of the most visually appealing marketing automation solutions on the market.

They make an email marketing, messaging, and automation platform, and they bill themselves as the easiest marketing automation platform to use. As mentioned above, their visual editor is clean, easy-to-understand, and frankly fun to use.

Of course, their platform is typically used for more sophisticated messaging and targeting, but you can also create a simple autoresponder based on a time-sequence.

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8. Marketo

Marketo has been around for a while, and was recently acquired by Adobe and incorporated into their enterprise marketing cloud.

The Adobe integration means that, if you use Adobe Analytics for data measurement and Adobe Target for experimentation and personalization, you’ll have a powerful enterprise marketing automation and optimization suite.

However, the tool is typically geared towards enterprise customers — it’s a bit out of range for most small business owners.

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9. GetResponse

GetResponse is a marketing automation software that has many different layers and features. They start out very affordably, at around $10 per month (which includes basic autoresponders and a list size of 1,000), but their more expensive plans include powerful features like:

GetResponse is easy-to-use and you’ll typically find good results from the tool, although it works best with the simpler features, like email newsletters. It can become trickier to work with the platform if you plan on implementing complicated conditional logic and marketing automation.

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10. Drip

Drip is one of the few marketing automation tools in this list that is primarily focused on e-commerce marketing automation. They provide one of the more “open” platforms, claiming that they play well with “pretty much any marketing strategy you want to put in motion.”

Additionally, email is one of their strengths. Some email marketing and automation features include:

  • Email Builders
  • Automation Workflows
  • Multi-channel Marketing
  • Email Campaigns
  • One-off Emails

They also excel in personalization and analytics. Overall, Drip is a powerful tool for e-commerce marketing automation.

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11. Mautic

Mautic is the only open-source marketing automation platform in this list. It’s also a relatively new player, only founded in 2014. They’ve grown quickly, though, and are seemingly picking up steam with high tech companies.

Currently, over 200,000 organizations use Mautic.

There are tons of options for marketing automation software. It’s all about choosing the right one for your business purposes, budget, and technical expertise.

Want something incredibly powerful and limitless? It may end up costing more, and taking time and effort to learn. The cheaper options, by comparison, might have too limited a scale. Ultimately, it’s a trade-off.

Whatever you end up choosing, I’d be remiss to neglect suggesting you check out HubSpot, or at least start with one of our free marketing tools.

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free marketing automation ebook

The Plain-English Guide to Data Deduplication

Nowadays, with so much critical information saved on our computer systems, we’ve learned to backup data regularly — including our email inboxes, our Word documents, our photos, and entire folders of old work.

It’s typically a ton of data. And, since we usually backup and save our data on auto-pilot, we might not realize just how much has been re-copied and re-saved, time and time again.

Unfortunately, over time, our data storage becomes unnecessarily burdened with redundant copies of data — this could cost your company money, as data requirements become larger, or time, as processing time becomes slower.

This is where data deduplication comes in.
Download 9 Free Excel Templates for Marketers

Andrew Le, an IT Helpdesk Technician at HubSpot, further explains the importance of data deduplication for a business looking to grow — “[Data deduplication] really improves scaling and efficiency when pulling data from one source. If you have lots of the same data in different spaces, your entire system can be slowed down.”

To ensure you’re optimizing your data backup storage, we’ve cultivated a list of the best data deduplication software you can use to minimize unnecessary data copies, today.

Data Deduplication Software

1. HubSpot’s Deduplication Feature

If you use HubSpot’s CRM to manage your contacts, you’ll be impressed to find out you can also use HubSpot’s machine learning-powered deduplication feature to keep your contact database clean. HubSpot contacts can be deduplicated by a usertoken set with a cookie in their web browser or email address — additionally, contacts, companies, deals, and tickets can be deduplicated using a unique object ID.

2. Barracuda Backup Deduplication

With a 9.1 user rating out of 10 on TrustRadius, Barracuda Backup is a good option, offering a robust, secure, fully-integrated data deduplication solution. Their tool can help your business reduce bandwidth requirements and backup costs. Additionally, Barracuda is a good option if your business needs to protect multiple sites, since its cloud storage technology helps distributed networks stay protected.

3. Avamar

Avamar, a solution from Dell EMC, provides variable-length deduplication, which reduces backup time by only storing unique daily changes while simultaneously maintaining daily backups. Avamar is an efficient, secure option and is particularly useful for virtual environments, remote offices, and enterprise applications.

4. HPE StoreOnce

HPE StoreOnce, a solution from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, offers disk-based backup, deduplication, and secure long-term data storage. Their deduplication software is equipped for virtual backup machines in small remote offices, and equally capable of handling high-performance dedicated applications for larger businesses. Ultimately, this is an impressive tool to help you keep your data secure and efficient as you scale-up.

5. Exagrid EX Series

Exagrid implements a highly efficient approach to data deduplicaton that allows six times the backup performance, and up to 20 times the restore and VM boot performance. With Exagrid, you can backup your data straight onto a disk without inline deduplication processing, enabling a shorter backup window.

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The Ultimate List of Marketing Quotes for Digital Inspiration

“Success is making those who believed in you look brilliant.”

This is one of my favorite quotes in regards to my job at HubSpot. It inspires and motivates my work and, no matter my mood, I find it to be an uplifting message to ponder and drive my performance. Not to mention, it’s a quote from (and often repeated by) one of our co-founders, Dharmesh Shah.

There is an endless number of quotes and phrases people use for inspiration at work, in their personal lives and relationships, and to drive community efforts. There are even industry-specific quotes — the marketing industry is no exception.

Why use marketing quotes?

Whether it’s a generic marketing quote to inspire your team, a content marketing quote to provoke discussion about one of your strategies, or an inspirational marketing quote to fuel your approach to a project, there’s a quote to help guide you and your team achieve your goals.

The abundance of marketing quotes include content marketing quotes, famous marketing quotes, branding marketing quotes, inspirational marketing quotes, storytelling marketing quotes, social media marketing quotes, and digital marketing quotes.

We’ve curated this list of our favorite ten quotes within each of these eight categories to inspire you. As a bonus, each section also includes at least one quote from a HubSpot employee who’s considered an expert in their field.

Let’s dive in.

The following marketing quotes are universal — meaning, no matter the type of marketing you do or the type of business you work for, they’re here to help guide you and your team towards success.

Content Marketing Quotes

content-marketing-quotes
The following quotes provide new ways for you and your team members to approach the creation, publication, and distribution of your content and ideas — no matter the products or services your company produces and sells.

Check out our Content Marketing Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide for Modern Marketers to learn more about content marketing for your business. 

  1. “When it comes to content, the best marketers know that self-promotion is good!” — Kieran Flanagan, VP Marketing, HubSpot
  2. “What separates good content from great content is a willingness to take risks and push the envelope.” — Brian Halligan, CEO & Co-founder, HubSpot
  3. “Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience.” — Ann Handley, CCO, MarketingProfs
  4. “Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” —Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, The Content Advisory
  5. “Content marketing is really like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” – David Beebe, Founder & CEO, Storified Hospitality Group
  6. “Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm and ideas about how to solve that problem.” — Laura Fitton, INBOUND & Influencer Relations, HubSpot
  7. “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” — Andrew Davis, Author & Keynote Speaker, Monumental Shift
  8. “Content marketing is the gap between what brands produce and what consumers actually want.” — Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group
  9. “One of the best ways to sabotage your content is to not tie it to your goals. Know why you’re creating content.” — Ellen Gomes Sr. Content Marketing Manager, Glint Inc.
  10. “There are three objectives for content marketing: reach, engagement, conversion. Define key metrics for each.” — Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group

Sometimes, you might want to lean on the words and experiences that a successful person you admire once said or described. Here are some famous quotes you can apply to your business’ marketing efforts to help you do just that.

Branding Marketing Quotes

branding-markteing-quotes-1
Branding marketing quotes will help you consider the ways in which you share and promote your content as well as think of new and exciting ways to establish your business’ image.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Branding to learn more about branding your business and content.

  1. Don’t push people to where you want to be; meet them where they are.” — Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP Marketing, HubSpot
  2. “People will ignore or skip anything they don’t like. So brands have to start making things they love.” — Steve Pratt, Partner, Pacific Content
  3. “Smart marketers and smart brand managers understand the importance of leveraging frame of reference to build their brands.” — Mark Shapiro, Chair, Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
  4. “Brand equity is the sum of all the hearts and minds of every single person that comes into contact with your company.” — Christopher Betzter, Brand Strategist
  5. “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” — Seth Godin, Founder & CEO, Do You Zoom
  6. “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” — Walter Landor, Founder, Landor
  7. “Branding is about signals — the signals people use to determine what you stand for as a brand. Signals create associations.” — Allen P. Adamson, Co-Founder, Metaforce
  8. “A lesson learned once again through ‘the school of hard knocks’ … never lose sight of your brand, its value, and its inherent need to be fed and nurtured and placed above all else! Saving your way there is a fool’s errand.” — Chet Baker, SVP Corporate Development, Entrinsic Health Solutions
  9. “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” — Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon
  10. “Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points.” — Jonah Sachs, Author

Inspirational marketing quotes exist to help you spark new ideas and excite your team members about the endless number of opportunities in the field. They also have the power to positively motivate your team to produce unique marketing content for your audience.

Storytelling Marketing Quotes

storytelling-marketing-quotes

Storytelling marketing quotes can be used to improve the impact of the stories you and your fellow marketers tell about your business, branding, and products on your customers and target audience.

Develop your storytelling skills with our Ultimate Guide to Storytelling.

  1. “Nothing sticks in your head better than a story. Stories can express the most complicated ideas in the most digestible ways.” — Sam Balter, Sr. Marketing Manager of Podcasts, HubSpot
  2. “If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.” — Jay Baer, Content Marketer & Co-Author
  3. “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” — Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Apple
  4. “You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything.” — Beth Comstock, Former CMO & Vice Chair, GE
  5. “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” — Brandon Sanderson, Author
  6. “If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.” — Jay Baer, Content Marketer & Co-Author
  7. “At its very core, marketing is storytelling. The best advertising campaigns take us on an emotional journey — appealing to our wants, needs, and desires — while at the same time telling us about a product or service.” — Melinda Partin, Senior Director of Marketing & Digital Strategy, UW Medicine
  8. “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” — Robert McKee, Author
  9. “And do you know what is the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message? It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story. Storytelling … good storytelling … is a vital component of a marketing campaign.” — Gary Halbert, Author
  10. “The brands that win are the brands that tell a great story. When it comes to transmedia storytelling, the brands that win are the brands that tell many great stories and are able to connect them all together.” — Mitch Joel, Author & Founder, Six Pixels Group

Social Media Marketing Quotes

social-media-marketing-quotes

Social media marketing quotes are a great way to influence the strategies you implement at your company as well as provide thoughts about the ways in which social media can positively impact your marketing efforts.

Learn everything you need to know about social media marketing in our Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing Campaigns.

  1. “Social media marketing is about creating content that brings your audience together as a community and inspiring authentic conversations while increasing your brand’s awareness.” — Krystal Wu, Social Media Community Manager, HubSpot
  2. “It’s important to be where your audience of potential customers is today, and where they might be tomorrow.” — Andrew Delaney, Senior Manager of Social Media, HubSpot
  3. “Social media requires that business leaders start thinking like small-town shop owners. This means taking the long view and avoiding short-term benchmarks to gauge progress. It means allowing the personality, heart, and soul of the people who run all levels of the business to show.” — Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, VaynerMedia
  4. “Social media was designed to SHARE what you’re doing and who you are, not BE what you’re doing and be who you are.” — Richie Norton, Author
  5. “I use social media as an idea generator, trend mapper, and strategic compass for all of our online business ventures.” — Paul Barron, CEO, Foodable Network
  6. “Going viral is not an outcome; it’s a happening. Sometimes it happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Just remember, fans are vanity and sales are sanity.” — Lori R. Taylor, Founder, Rev Media Marketing
  7. “Social media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide you.” — Matt Goulart, Founder, Ignite Digital
  8. “Social marketing eliminates the middlemen, providing brands the unique opportunity to have a direct relationship with their customers.” — Bryan Weiner, Board of Directors, Cars.com
  9. “Our head of social media is the customer.” — McDonald’s
  10. “Don’t use social media to impress people; use it to impact people.” — Dave Willis, Writer & Pastor

Digital Marketing Quotes

digital-marketing-quotes
The world of digital marketing is ever-changing — the following quotes will help you think about ways in which you can ensure your digital strategy remains relevant and impactful for your target audience.

  1. “Businesses get blinded by the allure of a large subscription list, but unengaged subscribers aren’t just not interested in what you’re sending, they’re actually harming your deliverability.” — Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP Marketing, HubSpot
  2. “Marketers need to build digital relationships and reputation before closing a sale.” — Chris Brogan, President, Chris Brogan Media
  3. “ Less is more. Keeping it simple takes time and effort.” — Jeff Bullas, CEO, Jeffbullas.com Pty Ltd.
  4. “Instead of one-way interruption, web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the right moment that a buyer needs it.” — David Meerman Scott, Keynote Speaker & Author
  5. “Content, in all its forms, is the single most critical element of any marketing campaign.” — Rebecca Lieb, Founding Partner & Analyst, Kaleido Insights
  6. “Inspiration is the most important part of our digital strategy.” — Paull Young, Charitable GIving Lead, Facebook
  7. “Digital marketing is not an art of selling a product. It is an art of making people buy the product that you sell.” — Hecate Strategy
  8. “Don’t build links. Build relationships.” — Rand Fishkin, Founder, SparkToro
  9. “Discoverability equals sales in the digital world.” — Dev Chandan, Founder, Dev Chandan
  10. “Before you create any more ‘great content,’ figure out how you are going to market it first.” – Joe Pulizzi & Newt Barrett, Co-authors

Start Using Marketing Quotes to Inspire Your Team

Marketing quotes have the power to inspire your team members to produce their best work, drive home the points you make in meetings, and help you shed light on any type of situation at work. No matter what your company does, there are a number of quotes you can use to help you work towards your specific marketing goals both individually and with your team. So, review the sections above and find some quotes to save on your desktop, write down in your notes, or share with your co-workers today.

Facebook Groups: New Features for Businesses

Do you want to do more with Facebook Groups? Wondering how to use the newest Facebook Groups features? To explore what’s new with Facebook Groups and how the changes benefit marketers, I interview Bella Vasta. Bella is a Facebook Groups expert, author of The Four Types of Dogs Every Business Needs, and host of the […]

The post Facebook Groups: New Features for Businesses appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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How to Learn Social Media Marketing: 40 Resources for Beginners

Social media is no longer an optional marketing channel — it’s a necessary one.

But that doesn’t mean results are a given. When it comes to social media, you’ll either have a lot of success interacting with your customers, or you’ll see little results — and that depends on the level of effort you put into it.

For every business that has found success in social media marketing, there are at least two more spinning their social wheels with no tangible results. It’s time to change that trend.

For many, social media is simply a place to post links to content they’ve created in hopes that thousands will see it, click through, and share with their followers. So they have profiles on every network, and every network looks exactly the same; line after line of self-promotion.

Download Now: Free Social Media Calendar

This is not going to bring results. In fact, Facebook‘s algorithm now penalizes link-based content, and Instagram has made it all-but-impossible to share a link.

Half-heartedly sharing your content on social media is not social media marketing. It’s spamming.

Social marketing is a lot of work, and it takes time listening and responding. After all, it’s social, and anything social takes an investment of effort and skill.

To hone these skills, check out these resources that will help you develop the skills needed to be effective on social media. (You may want to bookmark this post so you can easily refer to it again later.) Click the links below to jump to each section of resources in this article:

How to Learn Social Media Marketing: 31 Free Resources

Social Media Marketing Blogs

Social marketing is a science involving special communication skills. And the landscape changes constantly.

One of the best ways to develop your social media prowess and to stay up-to-date is to follow experts in the field. These blogs are always fresh with actionable information you can use to improve your marketing:

1. Social Media Explorer

SME is both a strategic services agency and a blog with a bevy of social media and marketing experts. The SME blog is consistently considered one of the most insightful in the industry, and several of its authors have written popular books on several aspects of digital and social marketing.

2. Scott Monty

Monty is a marketing guru who covers a ton of subjects. However, his social media articles are always eye-opening. If you haven’t heard of him yet, check out his “this week in digital” posts — these will keep you up-to-date with all the news on social, and every other aspect of digital marketing as well.

3. Social Media Examiner

Not to be confused with Social Media Explorer, the Examiner is one of the top blogs in the world for social media. Its social media reports are filled with all the important data social marketers want, and the blog posts are filled with valuable tips, as well. If I had to pick just one social media blog to follow, this is the one I would choose.

4. HubSpot Marketing Blog

Right here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, you can find breaking news and actionable how-to guides on every social network there is.

Social Media Publishing Templates

5. Social Media Content Calendar Template

Before you load your social media content into a publishing tool (HubSpot has one, when you’re ready for it), you’ll want to organize it all in an offline calendar. The free template linked above allows you to sort your social media content in a spreadsheet that’s designed to help you track the day, time, and social media channel on which everything you create is being promoted.

6. Social Media Calendar Templates

This social media template helps you track your social media campaigns not just by social network, but by how much engagement they get, which holidays they’re aligned with, and which ones have paid promotion behind them.

7. Airtable’s Content Calendar

Once you’ve organized your social media calendar into a spreadsheet — like the one linked to #6, above — you might also want to load this content into a project management platform so you can track its progress in real time. Airtable is one such platform to help you do that, and it comes with a content calendar format so you don’t have to shoehorn the platform around your business.

8. Social Media Image Templates

It’s well-known that visuals get more engagement on social media than just text. Get your designs off on the right foot with this collection of social media image templates.

9. Instagram Templates for Business

Instagram is the most image-focused social network out there, and because of that, not just any image will reach your audience. To cut through the crowds, use this collection of Instagram templates to create brand-aligned posts that resonate with your audience.

Social Media Marketing Ebooks

These ebooks will provide deeper information on specific networks and topics.

10. How to Use Instagram for Business

This step-by-step guide explains the reasons to create a business Instagram account and how to execute on Instagram to drive results.

11. A Visual Guide to Creating the Perfect LinkedIn Company Page

If you’re building a company page for the first time, or trying to upgrade your page, this guide will show you exactly how to do everything from crafting an engaging company description to creating an eye-catching banner image.

12. How to Attract Customers with Facebook

This multi-page ebook will show you how to use Facebook to drive real business results for your organization.

13. How to Get More Twitter Followers

HubSpot partnered with the experts at Twitter to provide actionable tips for social media managers starting new accounts to build a following, and fast.

14. The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media

Here’s an amazing guide from Moz. The 12 chapters in this book are filled with valuable information that every marketer absolutely needs to know. Bookmark this guide, you’ll refer to it more than once.

15. How to Create High-Quality Videos for Social Media

Like images, videos drive a ton of engagement on social media. And although the idea of shooting a quality video for your social channels sounds daunting, it’s actually easier than you think. Grab the free guide above to learn how to quickly turn your office into a production studio.

Social Media Marketing Courses

16. Developing an End-to-End Instagram Marketing Strategy for Your Business

This free course in the HubSpot Academy will teach you how to stand up an Instagram marketing strategy in just 95 minutes. The course consists of 3 lessons, 13 videos, and 3 quizzes.

17. Putting Social Media to Work for Your Coaching Business

Even consultants need consultants to learn how to, well, be a consultant. The free Udemy course linked above will teach you how to use social media to market your business as a coach or consultant in your industry.

18. Developing an End-to-End Facebook Marketing Strategy

Opposite the Instagram marketing course linked in #16, above, take this hour-long course to learn the basics of Facebook marketing.

19. Social Media Influencer Course

You’ve probably heard of influencer marketing — it’s particularly common in the context of social media. Take this course by Captevrix to learn how to work with an Influencer who resonates with your audience to promote your brand.

Social Media Marketing Videos

Videos are my second favorite medium to learn, behind books. Being able to glean from the brightest minds on any subject as if you’re face-to-face is powerful. These videos will give you valuable insights, just how to do social media, but you’ll get insights into the why and what as well.

20. The #AskGaryVee Show

You can’t talk about social media without talking about the speaker, author, and social expert Gary Vaynerchuk. On the Gary Vee Show, he takes questions from his audience and answers them as only he can. If you have a burning question on social media marketing, send it to him.

21. TED Talks: Social Media Marketing

If you aren’t in love with TED, you might want to check your pulse. This is a playlist of videos from TED Talks on social media. There may not be that much actionable advice in these videos, but if you want to become an expert on social media, these videos will give you insight into the deeper subject like “the hidden influence of social networks.”

22. Learn Social Media Marketing

If you’re really new to social media, and you want to learn through a structured lesson experience, consider Lynda’s massive library on social marketing courses.

23. Free Social Media Certification

HubSpot Academy has a breadth of video courses across inbound and digital marketing. Their free social media course is an eight-step video curriculum that teaches you the fundamentals of managing a social media campaign for your business. It also earns you a fresh Social Media Certification.

Social Media Podcasts

If you like to learn while you chill, work out, or commute to and from work, podcasts are one of the best ways to do it. And these podcasts will help you develop your social media expertise.

24. Social Media Marketing Podcast

Michael Stelzner, from Social Media Examiner, brings you success stories and expert interviews from leading social media marketing pros.

25. The Social Media Examiner Show

Rather than deep dives, the SME Show gives you small, bite-sized content for social media every day. This is a great podcast to get actionable quick-tips on a daily basis. It’ll keep you motivated while you develop your skills.

26. The Social Toolkit

If you like to stay up-to-date on digital tools, apps, and software for social media marketing, this is the podcast for you.

27. The Social Pros Podcast

Every episode of the Social Pros Podcast shines the light on real pros doing real work for real companies. You’ll get insights from Jay Baer of Convince and Convert when you tune in.

Slideshows & Infographics About Social Media

If you’re a visual learner, these slide decks and infographics provide great ways to learn social media.

28. The B2B Social Media Palette

This SlideShare walks you through the channels and tools you’ll need to be most effective at B2B social media marketing. Sometimes, success can be found by using the right tools and channels for the right audience.

29. The Complete Guide to the Best Times to Post on Social Media

Timing is very important when it comes to social media. Post it the wrong time, and your update can go completely unnoticed because of the flood of updates in your audience’s feeds. Being able to master the timing of social media is critical to effective marketing.

30. 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers

This slideshow is from the folks at Content Marketing Institute. This deck shows the proper methods for promoting your content over social media. This is a must-read for any social marketer who wants to use those channels to promote content.

31. The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Media

Again, timing is everything. This infographic lays out the best and worst times to post on each major network. You should save this infographic for referencing when you schedule your social media posts.

Social Media Marketing Books

Books are my favorite way to learn. Many experts agree that if you read a book a week, on your area of expertise, for 5 years, you will have the equivalent of a Ph.D. on the subject. That may or may not be true, but reading books from the experts definitely doesn’t make you a worse marketer. Here are some books to get you started.

32. The B2B Social Media Book

This book covers the specific application of social marketing to B2B companies, to leverage social media to drive leads and revenue.

33. The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users

You’ve got to read this book by the legendary former Chief Evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawasaki. He’s one of the pioneers of social and content marketing, and this book is filled with expert advice from one of the best.

34. The Tao of Twitter

This book is supposed to be for busy marketers who need to get the basics of Twitter down quickly. It shows you how to connect and start creating meaningful connections in less than two hours.

35. The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising

Facebook is one of the most effective advertising and PPC platforms available. You can target a plethora of metrics, allowing you to drill down and advertise to a very specific audience. This book will show you how to optimize your Facebook ads.

36. Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

Gary Vaynerchuk gives insight into how he uses a conversational, reactionary approach to engaging his audience. He gives concrete, visual examples of great social marketing, as well as not-so-great ones.

37. The New Rules of Marketing and PR

David Meerman Scott’s book on digital marketing is an international bestseller, and worth every penny. Some argue that it should be required reading for any marketer — and in this marketer’s opinion, “Just read it.”

38. Likeable Social Media

Dave Kerpen claims the secret to viral social marketing is to be likable. When someone likes you, they’ll recommend you. But being likable on social networks is easier said than done. This book will help you crack that code.

39. Social Media Marketing for Dummies

One of my mentors taught me to read children’s books on a subject if I just couldn’t grasp a concept. That principle gave way to movements like “Explain It Like I’m 5.” And, sometimes you just need it broken down like you’re, well, less than an expert on the topic, to put it gently. If that’s you, this book is valuable. Go ahead and buy it — we won’t call you dummy.

40. Contagious: Why Things Catch On

This book by Jonah Berger provides a strong foundation to understand how content goes viral — and how to create ideas on social media that are so catchy, your audience won’t be able to help but click them.

The Secret to Social Media Success

No matter how many social networks you set out to master, or how long you work in the social marketing field, there is one secret that will ensure you’re successful: Never stop learning.

This list is massive, I know, and there’s no way to consume all these resources in the next week. But if you set yourself to learning every day, every week, every month, every year, you’ll eventually be the one writing the books that help others learn social marketing.

It all begins with learning.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Social Media:

  1. Social marketing requires listening.
  2. Conversations should be the goal of social marketing.
  3. Team #Followback is a waste of time.
  4. Social marketing isn’t broadcasting, it’s communicating.
  5. Never auto-post your content to your social profiles.
  6. Never copy/paste the same message into every social profile.
  7. Social marketing requires time. It’s relationship-building on a massive scale.
  8. Be helpful. Period.
  9. Social support is faster than live chat, email, or phone calls. Embrace it.
  10. You don’t have to be on every network. Go where your customers are.

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The Ultimate Guide to Alexa Skills Marketing

By now, marketing teams all over the world are familiar with the concept of SEO. You know all about keywords and search engines and using high-quality links.

But are you prepared to market toward voice search?

A GlobalWebIndex search report revealed that 27 percent of consumers already use voice search on their mobile devices, and 34 percent confirmed that they are interested in having voice-based smart assistants in their homes.

That’s on top of the nearly 53 million U.S. adult consumers who already use a voice-activated smart device at home. These numbers will only grow, so any business hoping to stay on top of consumer trends needs to be implementing an Alexa marketing strategy. And the best way to get started is by turning to the maker of Alexa itself — Amazon.

In 2014, Amazon introduced the Echo, which was the first standalone device devoted to a smart voice assistant. Competitors like Google soon followed with devices like Google Home, and consumers responded enthusiastically. A study by eMarketer predicted that about 35 million people in the U.S. would use voice-activated devices at least once a month in 2017, up 128 percent from 2016.

If you think you might be interested in using voice-activated smart devices to supplement your marketing strategy in 2019, consider using Alexa Skills, which allows brands to provide customers with the ability to interact with their products or services in a conversational way. To learn more, keep reading.

Why You Should Have an Alexa Skill for Your Business

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re in the same place as many marketers these days — you might be on the fence about Alexa for business, wondering how to decide whether creating and operating an Alexa Skill is right for your team. To answer this question, it’s critical you figure out whether Alexa Skill will allow you to reach your target audience.

For example, is your brand positioned toward consumers, or other businesses? While Alexa is becoming increasingly integrated with business tools, it is still primarily a household feature, so it makes the most sense for B2C businesses.

Additionally, there are two main purposes for using Alexa Skills — building brand loyalty, or creating direct revenue.

Building an Alexa Skill for your brand can improve the convenience of your product or service, without necessarily driving revenue. Even without a direct tie to sales, improving convenience can nonetheless help you enhance your user experience, and make consumers more likely to interact with your brand without interrupting your daily routine.

Alternatively, you might use Alexa Skills to create direct revenue for your business.

How You Can Use Alexa for Business

Let’s say you’re a marketer for a regional bank. You create a Skill for a user to check his balance, direct a payment, or transfer funds using voice command. By making it more convenient for customers to manage their finances, your brand obtains a reputation for being innovative and helpful. This, indirectly, creates revenue by driving conversions.

Making money directly from your Alexa Skill is possible, as well. E-commerce businesses have more tools than ever to make online shopping easy for customers, and more profitable for brands.

For instance, Purina is a well-known leader in the pet food market. Despite its success, Purina chose to use Alexa Skills to improve its customer experience. The skill it created, Ask Purina, uses Amazon AI to answer customers’ questions about products. Additionally, it serves as an authority on dogs in general. Users can “Ask Purina” about current or future products, and get answers to queries like, “What breeds are best with children?” or “Find me dogs that don’t shed.” With this Skill, customers can find the information they need, as well as a new reason to stay loyal to the company.

Tide has also created its own Alexa Skill. The company’s Tide Stain Remover Skill offers its users step-by-step instructions via voice on how to eliminate about 200 forms of stains so users can implement the steps in real time. Consumers already recognize Tide as an expert in caring for stains — this Alexa Skill is merely an extension of that, building on the company’s reputation and improving goodwill with consumers.

Where You Can Implement Your Own Alexa Skills Strategy

Now that you know why you should have an Alexa Skill for your business, as well as how it can benefit you, there are a few different ways to strategize for your company’s custom Alexa Skill. Here’s how to get started.

1. Establish a content marketing plan.

The Purina example above demonstrates an actionable way to build a positive brand reputation without selling a product. Content marketing is an excellent way to build and nurture relationships with both current and prospective customers — an Alexa Skill simply provides a convenient way to achieve that goal.

Identify the content your team already has and how it can be modified to fit a voice-specific strategy. Alexa Skills are activated when users ask specific questions or use particular “utterances” that you set, so make sure your best pieces of content include those phrases so your Skill will pull them up to deliver via voice.

Purina is a great example here — the company has created content about dog breeds to showcase its expertise, and when customers ask, “Which dog breed is best for an apartment?” the company’s Alexa Skill can deliver that content.

Content marketing campaigns are known to create more than three times the number of leads than outbound marketing does — and they cost 62 percent less. Your Alexa Skills plan should complement your company’s existing content strategy and should be a natural extension to the queries your customers are conducting in other formats.

2. Leverage Alexa for e-commerce.

Amazon has made voice technology easy for e-commerce businesses to roll out because it benefits Amazon, too. There are now several ways to make money with Alexa Skills. When people buy things online, chances are they’re using Amazon to do so. If you sell products online, it might not be ideal to sell through Amazon, but it can be worth it if an integrated Skill can boost your sales by a large enough margin.

In 2018 alone, Amazon e-commerce sales totaled about $258.2 billion, an almost 30 percent increase from 2017. With Amazon taking up nearly half of the e-commerce market, it stands to reason that if you’re operating within Amazon’s platform, you’ll be able to snag a piece of that pie. And with an Alexa Skill related to your product, users who use voice search and shop on Amazon will have an easier time ordering your products.

Take Tide, for example — customers who use that company’s Skill to find stain removal tips can also use their voice to order Tide products. That takes a step out of the purchasing process, allowing consumers to buy those products without pulling up the Amazon app or website and clicking through all the available options.

3. Unveil a voice-activated loyalty program.

Some brands are driving a higher level of loyalty with programs that offer credits or points to users who make purchases using Alexa Skill. With a voice-enabled loyalty program, your brand is more likely to stay top of mind among Alexa users when they need to stock up on a product like yours.

Bridge2 Solutions debuted its Points Pal offering in 2017 and is reportedly the first voice-activated reward experience. With Points Pal, brands can make interacting with their existing rewards programs possible with voice commands such as “Tell me my points balance”, “Put this item in my favorites list”, or “Let’s pay for this using my points and credit card”.

Considering that customers who are part of a loyalty or rewards program tend to spend more than customers who are not, setting up a loyalty program and making it accessible via voice can add a bonus benefit when you’re setting up your Alexa Skill. Additionally, it’s important you ensure the program can be launched across different smart assistants, so that even if your customers are away from their Echos, they can still keep track of their points using other voice-based services.

Not using an Alexa Skill for your business doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be left behind. But depending on your brand and the market in which you’re operating, you might be — especially considering the increasing number of consumers who own smart speakers and use them regularly. Optimize your Alexa marketing strategy now to avoid falling behind your competitors.

How to Create a Group in Gmail

Growing up, there was only one thing my mom knew how to do on the internet that I could never figure out — creating an email group. What’s even more surprising is that I sent email blasts to my friends all the time, but I never asked my mom how to make an email group. I would just manually enter my friends’ email addresses into the recipients box.

Gosh, I was such a rebel.

If you’ve gotten over your teen angst and don’t want to manually enter your family’s, friends’, or coworkers’ email addresses every time you want to send an email blast to them, we’ve got you covered. Check out our five-step guide on creating a group in Gmail.

1. Visit Google Contacts.

You can find Google Contacts in the middle of the bottom row of your Google Apps tab.

 

2. Click “Contacts”, “Frequently contacted”, or “Directory”.

It’s likely you won’t have contacts saved in Google Contacts, but you can still access the email addresses of people you frequently interact with by clicking “Frequently contacted” or everyone who currently works at your company by clicking “Directory” in the left side bar.

 

3. Select the contacts you want to include in your group.

 

4. Choose the “Label” icon and press “Create Label”.

 

5. Name your label and type your group’s name in the recipients box to send an email to your group.

How Being ‘Good-ish’ Can Make You A Better Leader

We all like to think we’re good people.

We do our best at work. We donate to charity. We’re loyal to our friends. We’re kind to our parents. And, particularly in times of doubt, we pull these examples to the very forefront of our minds to remind ourselves we’re doing good.

Typically, our idea of “good” and “bad” is relatively black and white — in movies like The Lion King, for instance, you’re either evil like Scar, or good like Simba. You can’t be both.

But what if our desire to cling tightly to the idea of being “good” actually gets in the way of us being better? According to Dolly Chugh, when it comes to being a good person, our either/or mentality does just that.

Chugh — who is a psychologist, a management professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the author of The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Biassays it’s critical we let go of our rigid view of what it means to be good. If we don’t, we risk being unable to own and grow from our mistakes.

I sat down with Chugh to learn how our narrow view of “good” versus “bad” can actually impede us — from becoming better leaders, employees, and people.

Why Our “I Am Good” Identity Means So Much

Imagine an identity you feel is incredibly important to you — maybe you value being an intelligent student, a powerful leader, or a helpful friend.

Let’s say you value being a strong leader, but you’re not sure if your colleagues would attribute this trait to you. As Chugh writes, “When we are unsure whether an important identity has been granted by others, our craving for affirmation becomes more intense and urgent … i.e., if I value being seen as a loving mom, then I feel self-threat when other mothers judge me for working full-time.”

If you value being a leader, but don’t feel properly acknowledged by others, you might feel self-threat when someone makes a comment like, “I’ve always thought you were too quiet to be a leader.” Someone else, who doesn’t care about being a good leader, might not feel such a threat.

But here’s the catch-22: When faced with self-threat (e.g., a threat to your identity), many of us become frenzied as we try to gain affirmation for that specific identity. And in our pursuit of that affirmation, we become less focused on being a good person, or any of our other identities that matter — like being a good ally, or friend.

As Chugh writes, “The affirmation [we desperately seek] relieves the self-threat, but ironically, we end up acting less like — not more like — the people we mean to be.”

Chugh and her colleagues have conducted research regarding people’s morality in times of self-threat. For instance, Chugh asked participants to do a word scramble task, and measured whether each participant saw the task as a challenge or a threat. Ultimately, Chugh and colleagues found that when participants felt faced with a threat, they were more likely to morally disengage, or turn off their conscience.

There have been other studies that have explored the correlation between self-threat and identity. One study asked 300 adults in England to indicate their intentions to change their travel behaviors. Half of the participants were shown short transport-related descriptions that were designed to threaten the participant’s target identity (being a parent); the other half were shown neutral descriptions.

As you might’ve guessed, participants who experienced self-threat were far more resistant to change than those who weren’t.

All of which is to say: If being “good” is an important identity to you (which, to most of us, it is), then you’re more likely to morally disengage, and resist change, when you’re experiencing self-threat — even if that self-threat is meant to be helpful feedback.

Ultimately, our narrow definition of “good” is too often constricting, and doesn’t allow room for growth.

Chugh told me, “We paint ourselves into a tight corner when we view being a good person as either/or. It makes it hard for us to see the times in which we might be contributing to a dynamic that discourages people of color from staying at the firm, or women from applying.”

“Sometimes,” Chugh stresses, “We are good people with good intentions who are having bad impact.”

This only becomes worse when faced with self-threat.

When someone questions whether you’re a good work ally, you might become defensive and miss out on the feedback that could’ve allowed you to become a better ally.

To further emphasize how hard people work to protect their “good person” identities, Chugh mentions Taylor Phillips and colleagues’ research on the ‘hard-knock-life’ effect.

“We want to see ourselves as deserving and free from unfair advantage. Phillips shows that we literally remember our childhoods as more difficult when we are told of disadvantages people from other groups face,” Chugh explains. “That is how powerfully our unconscious mind fights to protect our good person identity.”

But … is that such a bad thing?

The Problem With Wanting To Be Good

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be good.

Unfortunately, the problem arises when you believe you’re either inherently good or inherently bad, with no room for mistakes or growth.

For instance, consider the last time you behaved in a way that felt less than ideal — maybe you made an offensive joke in the office kitchen. Perhaps someone at work called you privileged, so you felt judged for your lack of charity work.

When these instances arise, we typically become defensive — when we’d benefit more greatly from remaining open and receptive.

In her TED Talk, Chugh explains how flawed our mentality towards morality truly is.

“If you needed to learn accounting, you would take an accounting class, or if you become a parent, we pick up a book and we read about it. We talk to experts, we learn from our mistakes, we update our knowledge, we just keep getting better,” Chugh says.

“But when it comes to being a good person, we think it’s something we’re just supposed to know, we’re just supposed to do, without the benefit of effort or growth.”

Chugh urges us to change our thinking — what if, instead of needing to be good all the time (or not at all), we just tried our best to be “good-ish”?

Chugh told me how important it is to “let go of being a good person and embrace being a good-ish person. Good-ish people actively look for their blind spots and mistakes. So, if someone helps us notice a blind spot, it is actually doing us a favor.”

To further understand her research, let’s consider an example. Say you’re a team leader, and a coworker from HR mentions that your team lacks diversity.

More than likely, you’ll jump to your own defense: “We actually have three women on the team!”, you’ll say, not noticing that you’re still lacking other types of diversity.

Your comment makes you feel reassured that you’re a good person, but ultimately, it doesn’t help you grow, or recognize the blind spot you might’ve missed.

In other aspects of our lives, we’re very capable of receiving feedback — and yet, where it matters most, we too often fall short.

Instead, let’s say you’ve embraced the idea that you’re “good-ish”, like Chugh suggests. Maybe you pause when you hear your coworker’s comment, and think, “Huh. That’s a good point — I should adjust my recruitment strategy. Too many of my employees are extroverted, which leaves little room for talent diversity. Additionally, while I do have three women on my team, I don’t have any women of color, which isn’t okay.”

By operating under the belief that morality is nuanced and dynamic, and not at all black-and-white, you’re more capable of owning your mistakes — which is ultimately critical to becoming a better leader, and person.

If you’re in a leadership position, Chugh suggests adopting a growth mindset. She told me, “I think senior leaders owe it to themselves to work one-on-one with an executive coach to wrestle with their blind spots privately. This is hard work and it is difficult to do in the limelight.”

In her TED Talk, Chugh acknowledges the difficulty of becoming vulnerable and receptive to feedback regarding our own integrity. It certainly isn’t easy.

But, as Chugh points out, “As a good-ish person … I become better at noticing my own mistakes. I don’t wait for people to point them out. I practice finding them, and as a result … Sure, sometimes it can be embarrassing, it can be uncomfortable. We put ourselves in a vulnerable place, sometimes. But through all that vulnerability, just like in everything else we’ve tried to ever get better at, we see progress. We see growth. We allow ourselves to get better.”

Ultimately, dropping the pressure you feel to be “good” — and allowing yourself to admit you’re “good-ish” — could be the difference between being a good leader and a great one, or a good ally and a great one.

And who wouldn’t want that?

How to Reduce Your Website’s HTTP Requests

Every time you surf the web, a whole bunch of technical stuff happens behind the scenes to deliver content to your screen.

Engineers are usually the ones managing these activities. Marketers, even those with technical chops, tend to shy away from it. One of these activities is an HTTP request, and it’s actually not as complicated as you might think. In fact, marketers need to have at least a general understanding of the actions their own website performs each time a person visits it.

The metrics marketers tend to be responsible for can depend heavily on how the backend of a website is developed. For example, a high number of HTTP requests by your webpage can slow down the page’s load time, which ultimately damages the user experience. This can cause your visitors to leave the page more quickly if it doesn’t load fast enough (which increases your
“bounce rate”).

HTTP requests can affect numerous key metrics that determine how engaged your audience is with your business.

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  

So, what exactly is an HTTP request? How does it affect the user experience? And what can a marketer do to reduce their website’s HTTP requests? Let’s go through each of these questions one by one. By the end, you’ll have a better grasp on why these response protocols matter, and what you can do to give your website visitors a better, faster experience.

Each time someone visits a page on your website, here’s what typically happens:

  1. The person’s web browser (popular browsers include Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) sends a request to your web server. Your server hosts the webpage they’re trying to visit on your site.
  2. The browser requests that your server send over a file containing content associated with that page. This file may contain text, images, or multimedia that exist on your webpage.
  3. Once the person’s browser receives this file, it begins to render your website on the person’s computer screen or mobile device.
  4. If there is more content on your webpage the browser has not yet received, the browser will send another HTTP request.

The above steps describe a single HTTP request, from ask to answer. HTTP stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol,” which is just a fancy name for a web browser sending a request for a file, and the server sending (or “transferring”) that file to the browser.

Why HTTP Requests Affect the User Experience

There are two reasons HTTP requests can affect your website’s user experience: the number of files being requested and the size of the files being transferred.

More Files = More HTTP Requests

A web browser needs to make a separate HTTP request for every single file on your website. If your website doesn’t have many files, it won’t take very long to request and download the content on your site. But most good websites do have a lot of files.

The more files on your website, the more HTTP requests your user’s browser will need to make. The more HTTP requests a browser makes, the longer your site takes to load.

Bigger Files = Longer HTTP Requests

The size of the file being transferred is also a factor in how long a page may take to load on a user’s screen. And just as the files on your computer have various file sizes — measured in bytes (B), kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), and so on — so too do the files embedded on your webpage. Big, high-definition images are a common culprit of large file sizes.

In other words, the larger or higher definition the content is on your website, the larger its file size is. The larger the file size, the longer it will take to transfer it from your server to a user’s browser.

The longer this file is it transit, the longer a user’s browser has to wait before it renders this content on his/her screen.

How HTTP Requests Affect the User Experience

A long load time can be a disruptive and frustrating experience for your users. Mobile users will have a particularly bad experience, as most of them will have to wait until every asset on a webpage is downloaded before the page even begins to appear in their mobile browser.

And research shows load time matters when it comes to website performance. According to data from Pingdom, a website performance monitor, a page’s bounce rate can soar from 9% to a whopping 38% if its page load time increases from just 2 seconds to 5 seconds. This is because lots more people “bounce” from your website during that three-second delay.

So, what’s the magic number of HTTP requests a website should aim for? The answer is not “one.” Some people think they can solve the problem by only using one JavaScript file to control their entire website. But remember: File size affects load time, too. For complex websites, that one file can be an incredibly long trip from your server to your audience’s browser.

Although there isn’t necessarily an optimal number of files your webpage should be reduced to, HubSpot’s principal product marketing manager Jeffrey Vocell suggests aiming for between 10–30 files.

For most top-performing websites, getting there is difficult and generally requires dedicated engineering resources. As of March 2019, the median number of HTTP page requests to load a webpage on mobile or desktop was between 69 and 75 requests.

How to Make Fewer HTTP Requests to Your Website

1. Grade your website’s performance to find the root problem.

If you’re starting from scratch, with no idea how your website is performing, you’ll first want a detailed report of your website’s overall health. To get this report, check out HubSpot’s Website Grader.

website-grader-http-requests

Using Website Grader, simply enter your email address and the URL of the webpage you want to audit. You’ll receive a free, personalized report that grades your site on key metrics including mobile readiness, SEO, your page’s total file size, and of course, how many HTTP requests the page is receiving.

This grader can help you diagnose the precise issue you suspect your website is having. For example, if you have a low number of page requests, but a high page size, your goal should be to reduce the size of the media on your website — not necessarily to reduce the amount of HTTP requests you’re requiring browsers to make.

2. Check how many HTTP requests your site currently makes.

Once you have an idea of how “big” your webpage is, and how many page requests it’s requiring, use Google Chrome’s Network panel to drill down into these numbers. This tool makes it easy for anyone to check what’s on your page, how many HTTP requests the page makes, and what file is taking the longest to load.

To Find a Request’s Length …

First, this tool shows you all the files a browser had to request and transfer in order to download the page — and it also shows a timeline of when this happened. For example, Google Chrome’s API can tell you precisely when the HTTP request for an image started, and when the image’s final byte was received. It’s a really helpful way of seeing what’s on your page and what’s taking a long time to load.

To see the Network panel for a given webpage, open the webpage in Google Chrome. In the main Chrome menu at the top of your screen, go to View > Developer > Developer Tools.

google-developer-tools.png

The Network panel will open in your browser. Since it records all network activity while DevTools is open, the panel may be empty when you first open it. Reload the page to start recording, or just wait for network activity to occur in your application.

Here’s an overview of what everything in the Network panel means:

network-overview.png

Image Credit: Google

To Count HTTP Requests …

Curious how many requests your website requires? The Network panel will tell you that, too. Take a look at the very bottom left of the screenshot above and you’ll see the total number of requests; in this case, it’s 25 requests.

To learn how to read the panel and evaluate your network performance in more detail, read through this Google Chrome resource.

3. Remove unnecessary images.

At this point, you should have an idea of which files are taking longest to load, including image files. The easiest way to reduce the number of requested files? Eliminate unnecessary images.

Images are a valuable webpage asset because they make for a strong visual experience on your webpages. However, if you have images on your page that aren’t contributing much value, it’s best to just cut them out altogether — especially the ones that are really large.

4. Reduce the file size for the remaining images.

For the images you do keep, use high-quality photos that have a compressed file size. This will help reduce the time it takes to make a HTTP request, thereby reducing load time.

If you’re a HubSpot user, you don’t have to worry too much about resizing and compressing images — the HubSpot COS will automatically resize and compress your images when you upload them into your HubSpot file manager. To resize an image further, once you’ve uploaded it into your file manager, click “Clone and edit,” as shown below:

crop-image-in-editor

Keep in mind you can always reduce the file size of your images further before uploading them into your website. If you have a webpage with many separate images on it, for instance, it’ll behoove you to reduce their file sizes as much as you can before publishing the page.

If possible, we recommend reducing each image’s file size to less than 100 KB. Depending on the image, you might need to compromise on this minimum, and that’s alright. Just try your best to keep your individual files from entering megabytes (“MB”) territory.

To compress your images to their minimum, use a tool like Squoosh, a tool developed by Google to shrink image file sizes at the slight expense of image quality. The more you shrink the file size, the lower the image quality can get — use Squoosh’s sliding compressor meter to strike a balance between quality and size that suits you.

Your time is precious, though, and compressing images one by one can be a tedious task. To compress many images at once, consider using TinyPNG.

5. Set your website to load page files asynchronously.

By default, many websites load the content they receive from top to bottom on a webpage. So, even if a user’s web browser performs more than one HTTP request at a time, the content it receives loads piece by piece. This is also known as “render blocking,” and it can make your entire webpage load more slowly because each file is waiting its turn to load in a user’s web browser.

Setting your website to load content “asynchronously” can override this rule.

Asynchronous loading allows website content to render multiple page elements at the same time, no matter where they sit on the page. On WordPress, there are numerous plugins that can help you do this. HubSpot also allows you to change where a popular JavaScript element known as “jQuery” renders on a webpage so you’re not stuck waiting for it to load. See the screenshot below to see this option, and read more about it here.

jquery-load-in-footer-hubspot

6. Evaluate other parts of your page that are contributing to page load time.

Cutting and compressing images are a great first step to reducing HTTP requests and page load time. But what else did you see on the Network panel that’s adding requests? For example, you might find that a video or Twitter integration adds an entire second or two to your load time. That’s good to know. From there, you and your team can decide whether those assets are worth keeping.

5) Make JavaScript asynchronous.

If you have JavaScript on your page that’s not asynchronous then you’ll want to take it to your developer to make it asynchronous — or remove it from the webpage altogether, if possible.

Why? It all comes down to user experience. When a person’s browser loads a webpage, it loads the page’s assets from top to bottom. When it hits a JavaScript file and wants to load it, if that JavaScript is not asynchronous, then the browser will stop loading everything else on the page until it loads that JavaScript file in its entirely.

If that JavaScript is asynchronous, then the browser will load it at the same time as it continues loading other elements on the page. Asynchronous JavaScript files make for a better user experience.

To learn more about making JavaScript code asynchronous, I recommend checking out this presentation by Steve Souders and this blog post by Visual Website Optimizer.

7. Combine CSS files together.

Every CSS file you use for your website adds to the number of HTTP requests your website requires, thereby adding time to your page load speed. While this is sometimes unavoidable, in most cases, you can actually combine two or more CSS files together. (You may have to get help from a developer for this.)

What does this mean? Every time you identify multiple CSS files that look similar, listed in your website’s HTML code, you have the opportunity to combine these files into one file so a user’s browser doesn’t have to make more than one HTTP request to produce these files. Here’s an example of a group of separate CSS files before combining them:

separate-css-files

Now, take a look at how you can combine all of these files into one line, or file:

combined-css-files

Image credit: Apache Incubator

If you use HubSpot, you can combine many CSS files automatically.

CSS code can be anywhere on your site or in any number of files, and it’ll still works just as well. In fact, often the only reason a site has multiple CSS files in the first place is because the site’s designer found it easier to work with separate files. To learn more about combining CSS files, take a look at this front-end website performance guide.

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The Simple 2-Step Process for Calculating Your Market Size

When most businesses forecast their revenue goals, they first calculate their total addressable market, which is the total market demand for their industry’s products or services. Put simply, it’s the maximum amount of revenue a business could generate if they captured their entire market.

However, unless you’re a monopoly, you most likely can’t capture the total addressable market for your products or services. Even if you only have one competitor, it would still be extremely difficult to convince an entire market to only buy your products or services.

That’s why it’s crucial to calculate the maximum amount of revenue you can possibly generate by selling your products or services to the customers who would realistically benefit from buying your solutions. This amount of potential revenue is called your market size or serviceable addressable market, and you can use it to accurately measure your business’ potential for growth.

Market size formula

9 YouTube Video Ideas to Inspire Your Brand’s YouTube Channel [+ Examples]

Nowadays, almost every brand has a YouTube channel. However, almost no brands can boast a flourishing one.

Building a thriving YouTube channel is one of the most ambitious achievements a marketer can pursue. Not only do you have to spend time scripting, producing, and editing videos, but you also have to make sure your content actually resonates with your target audience.

To help inspire you, we’ve put together a list of video ideas that HubSpot has experienced success with on our own YouTube channel. Read on to get the creative juices flowing.

1. About Us

Your “About Us” video’s main job is to introduce your brand to future customers and make a good first impression with them. Before you put pen to paper, though, you must remember that people don’t just want to know what your company does and how you do it. They also want to know why you do it. Put simply, your brand’s purpose is what actually resonates with your audience and inspires them to follow you.

So when you’re scripting your video, make sure you spotlight why your organization exists, the values you truly believe in, and, ultimately, the reason people should care about your brand. Only then should you cover what your product or service is and how you build or develop it.

2. Culture

As I approach my one-year anniversary as a college graduate, reality has officially sunk into my bones. As adults, we spend the majority of our lives working — and not hanging out with our friends like we did during the glory days.

However, I’ve also realized that if you love your job and company, work isn’t some dreadful chore that you check off your to-do list everyday. It’s actually a blessing and something you can’t imagine living your life without.

In order to build a company that your employees love working for, cultivating an authentic, people-first culture is a crucial first step. Once you do this, consider creating a video that highlights your culture and your employees’ genuine praises about your company. Not only will it persuade elite talent to apply to your open roles, but it’ll make potential customers think more highly of your brand.

3. Ask Me Anything

Since your executives’ public perception directly impacts people’s sentiment toward your brand, like Elon Musk and Tesla, they’re essentially the face of your company. And with all the status, attention, and aura surrounding them, your knee-jerk reaction might be to polish their interactions with the public as much as possible.

However, most people can spot a walking press releases faster than they can exit out of pop-up ad. So it’s actually better to set your executives free and allow them to genuinely interact with the public.

Breaking down the barriers between your executives and audience also makes your fans feel like they actually know your leaders on a personal level — and this’ll develop a more intimate and loyal relationship between your company and your potential customers.

One of the best ways to connect your executives with your audience is by setting up Ask Me Anything or Q&A sessions, where people can ask your executives any question they want and your executives agree to honestly answer as many of their questions as they can.

4. Comedy

Even in 2019, most companies still stuff their YouTube channels with formulaic corporate videos that are scripted in jargonese. Trying to capture people’s attention with these boilerplate videos is nearly impossible. That said, what’s the best strategy for standing out from the crowd?

Well, according to Psychology Today, humans associate the same personality traits to brands as they do with people, so, just like how we choose the people we spend our lives with, we engage with the brands that can evoke warm feelings in us, especially feelings of humor.

So before you green-light another talking head video, think about spicing it up and adding some humor. You’ll inject more color and personality into your brand, which consumers desperately crave when they interact with businesses.

5. Shows

In the neuroscience field, researchers have proven that storytelling is the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their memories, and resonate emotionally with them. The human brain is programmed to crave, seek out, and respond to well-crafted narrative — that’ll never change.

So just like your favorite Netflix show, creating shows can entire your viewers to watch entire seasons of your series, subscribe to your channel, and get more excited for your show’s newest season than they currently are for the final season of Game of Thrones.

Most brands also produce their content disparately, severing them from any thematic anchor, so tying your stories to a unique angle and telling them in an episodic fashion can help separate your videos from the rest of the pack.

6. Explainers

Whether it’s an exciting new trend or difficult-to-grasp technology, your audience wants to learn about your industry’s innovations to stay ahead of the curve. In order to fill their curiosity gaps, consider creating explainer videos about your industry’s latest trends and technology.

However, don’t just make a talking head video of someone droning on about the topic of discussion. People crave a variety of stimulus when they consume content, so get creative and complement your video’s narration and text with a diverse mix of dynamic graphics, popular movie scenes, and footage of real people.

Visual storytelling also helps people grasp concepts and data easily, so each time your narrator expands on a concept or some data, your viewers can listen to the information and watch a visual representation of it, helping them form a concrete understanding of your video’s central idea.

7. Tutorials

It doesn’t matter if they’re guitar lessons, beauty lessons, or how-to videos about making a fire with a lemon, people love learning how to improve their lives. So if you can cover topics that people are passionate about and teach them how to get better at them, they’ll be able to live better lives, which will help grow your channel’s brand loyalty and sentiment, retain your viewers’ attention, and attract their friends’ attention by way of word-of-mouth marketing.

Just like your explainers, make sure you diversify your tutorials’ visual stimuli. Because, contrary to the rest of the types of videos on this list, the best tutorials are actually talking head videos, but they also have engaging visuals that make them more distinct and gripping.

8. Customer Case Studies

Social proof and word-of-mouth are some of the most potent tactics at your disposal. Humans evolved to follow the crowd and assume the majority is always right, so the more testimonials you have, the more credible and trustworthy your brand will seem.

Your case studies are also some of the most persuasive types of sales enablement content, so make sure your sales reps and potential customers can easily find them on your YouTube channel.

When scripting your case studies, you want to place your potential customers’ in your current customers’ shoes, so focus on how your customer faced a specific problem, what they initially did to try and solve it, how they discovered your solution, the experience of using your solution to solve their problem, and the results they produced with your solution.

9. Product Promos

Tailored for potential customers who are further along the buyer’s journey, product promos are videos that spotlight your product’s top features and tangible benefits. This type of video is powerful because it can convince potential customers to move on to the final stage of the buyer’s journey and seriously consider purchasing your product or service.

If you want to learn how to create compelling product videos, check out one of Meghan Keaney Anderson’s blog posts about 7 of the Best Promotional Product Videos Ever Made.

In her post, the VP of Marketing at HubSpot says remarkable product videos all share four elements: engaging dialogue and narration, a comprehensive yet concise explanation of the product and its benefits, professionalism, and empathy and relatability. To see one of these videos in action, check out this product promo about HubSpot’s Growth Stack.

How to Use Limited Time Offers to Drive Sales

Last week, this appeared in my inbox:

I hadn’t even planned on online shopping that night — and, while I’d been in the market for a new wallet, I wasn’t considering Kate Spade as an option until I received this email.

But those two words — last chance — compelled me to click, and subsequently purchase, from Kate Spade’s website.

I mean … I didn’t want to miss out now, did I?

Limited time offers are rooted in the psychological phenomenon known as loss aversion, which is the idea that people prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains.

Simply put, someone would feel more upset losing $10 than they would feel happy winning $10.

When I received Kate Spade’s limited time offer, I immediately felt an impending sense of loss — if I didn’t act immediately, I’d lose the bargain. This spurred me into action. This is why limited time offers could be a good tactic to drive sales for your business.

Here, we’re going to take a look at impressive limited time offer ad examples, as well as compelling limited time offer wording, to ensure you’re able to create your own highly engaging limited time offer ad.

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Limited Time Offer Ad Examples

1. Bath & Body Works Semi-Annual Sale

Bath & Body Works Semi-Annual Sale impressively has its own landing page, and uses cute cartoon rubber ducks in a 42-second video to convey their deal. Plus, the limited time offer is incredibly compelling, using phrases like “up to 75% off storewide” and “the biggest sale of the year” to urge hesitant shoppers to stock up on their favorite soaps and candles. When creating your own offer, you might consider going all-out with a landing page and video to signify the importance of the deal.

1-476413023115090935Image courtesy of Bath & Body Works.

2. Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Every fall, Dunkin’ Donuts’ customers can get excited for new flavors for a limited time, including Dunkin’s Pumpkin Crème Brulee Latte. Their “Pumpkin’s Back, Get Pumped” messaging is funny and clever. This ad likely encourages returning customers to drive to a Dunkin to try something new — additionally, it could appeal to a new demographic particularly intrigued by the pumpkin flavor. For your own limited offer, consider a seasonal product you might offer to incentivize both new and returning customers to purchase.

Image courtesy of Theimpulsivebuy.com.

3. Target’s Video Game Offer

Target often offers limited time two-for-one deals on their products — in fact, they have a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” landing page for their video games. Additionally, they temporarily offered a $10 gift card to incentivize customers to pre-order Borderlands 3 before April 9. For your own offer, you might try offering added value, like a gift card, on a product to encourage initial interest.

Image courtesy of Target.

4. Tobi’s 60% Off Denim Deal

Tobi, an e-commerce clothing store, does an impressive job regularly attracting visitors to its site through deals and limited offers. For instance, take a look at this “60% Off Denim Sitewide” email from Tobi. The use of emojis helps the offer stand out in the user’s inbox, and could even help a user more easily spot the email again after she opened it.

Similar to Tobi, you might also consider offering an all-encompassing sale on a specific product category, like ‘Denim’. Whether a user is interested in shopping for denim or not, the offer will likely peak users interest enough to attract more traffic to your site.

5. Macy’s Lowest Prices of the Season Sale

Not going to lie — the ticking clock at the top of their web page even incentivized me to peruse some of Macy’s temporarily on-sale products. Additionally, the “lowest of the season” messaging could urge hesitant shoppers to purchase products today from Macy’s, rather than waiting to compare competitor’s prices. Perhaps you offer your own “Lowest Prices” deal, which could motivate shoppers to purchase your products immediately.

Image courtesy of Macy’s.

To sum up, there are plenty of strategies you can employ to find success with your own limited offer deal. Here are a few suggestions, inspired by the deals listed above:

  • Create a landing page for your offer.
  • Use video, not just text, to convey the deal.
  • Get clever with your wording.
  • Offer a seasonal product.
  • Give away a gift card in exchange for a specific purchase.
  • Use emojis in your email blast.
  • Offer sales on certain product categories.
  • Put a ticking clock at the top of your web page, so users feel an added sense of urgency.

Next, let’s consider what type of wording you’ll want to use in your limited time offer to truly motivate users to purchase immediately.

Limited Time Offer Wording

Hurry.

Last chance.

Don’t wait!

These are the types of phrases you’ll see accompanying limited time offers, and for good reason — all of these phrases convey a sense of urgency, and even inspire a sense of anxiety in viewers.

When you see “Don’t wait!” in your inbox, for instance, you’re more likely to pause and consider your options right away, since the messaging is clear — you don’t have the luxury to consider your options tomorrow.

Of course, you want to be cautious with your limited time offer wording. If you’re too aggressive or pushy, you risk frustrating viewers into deleting the message completely.

When wording your limited time offer, you’ll want to consider why this deal is special, and how long the deal lasts. Additionally, it’s critical you include an exciting and compelling CTA.

Remember how Bath & Body Works mentioned “The biggest sale of the year”? It’s necessary to tell viewers why your deal in particular is special. If it isn’t the biggest sale of the year, maybe it’s the first deal you’ve ever offered on a specific product, or a new seasonal product only offered for a limited time.

Ultimately, users need to know why they should care about this deal over all the other deals flooding their inbox.

Additionally, it’s vital you clarify the time period of the deal. “Hurry, deal ends tonight!” is helpful, as is, “Offer valid through April 31” or “Today only”. You’ll need to let your viewers know how long they have to act on your offer.

Finally, you’ll want to include a compelling CTA. For instance, when I click on Tobi’s “60% Off Denim” link, the CTA says, “Get 60% Off Now”. Who wouldn’t want that?

Alternatively, you might try “Sign Up for Savings”, “Claim Your Free Wallet”, or “Send Me The Coupon”.

Take a look at “31 Call-to-Action Examples You Can’t Help But Click” for more CTA inspiration.

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How to Use Social Proof in Your Marketing

Looking for ways to boost your credibility using social media? Wondering how to capitalize on positive company mentions? In this article, you’ll discover how to incorporate social proof into your social media marketing. Why Include Social Proof in Your Social Media Marketing? The term social proof was coined by prominent psychologist and author Robert Cialdini. […]

The post How to Use Social Proof in Your Marketing appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Structured Data for Organizing & Optimizing Your Website

It’s Friday afternoon, and your team is jonesing for Happy Hour.

For the last few weeks, you’ve been going to the same ol’ bar by your office, so you decide it’s time to try something new. What do you do? Step outside and walk around until you find a new spot? No, you hop on Google and let it conduct the search for you.

Your ideal post-work pub is nearby, open right after work, and offers a few gluten-free options so your entire team can partake. You plug these criteria into Google, and you’ve got three viable options at your fingertips — in a handy map format to boot.

Pause. Have you ever wondered how Google can whip up such accurate, precise answers in so little time … and present them in such an easy-to-read way? Moreover, what are those restaurants doing do get featured so dominantly on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Heck, I’d love my business to pop up when consumers search for criteria relevant to me … wouldn’t you?

No one knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works, but there are a few ways to organize and optimize your website content so Google knows what content to feature on the SERPs for the various searches people conduct to find you. This is where structured data comes in. 

Not sure what structured data is? That’s OK. By the end of this guide, you’ll be a structured data wizard — and your website will reap the benefits.

We know that what searchers see online is much different than what search engines see.

While searchers see this …

structured-data-hubspotSource

… search engines see this.

structured-data-exampleView the source code for any website by going to View > Developer > View Source.

This behind-the-scenes code tells browsers how information should be organized on the website (as part of its website development) and tells web crawlers what’s on the page.

Structured data is also at play here. Embedded tags of code (a.k.a. “markup”) throughout the HTML of a webpage tell Google and other search engines what information to display in the SERPs and what this information represents. It also helps social media platforms synthesize your social media posts into snippets that preview the content using Open Graph Protocol (which we touch on later)

This markup is important. It educates search engines on what specific content is on the page, thus creating more relevant, informed searches and making the site a candidate for enhanced results like featured snippets, rich snippets, image and video carousels, knowledge boxes, and more. (We touch on this later, too.)

Here’s a simple example: In college, I used to take class notes very haphazardly. I’d literally scribble information down as my professors lectured … with little to no regard about its organization or legibility. (Well, I could read it, but no one else probably could.)

structured-data-gifMe, in class

When it came time to study for an exam, I’d pull out those chaotic notes and type them up to create organized, structured study guides, sorted by the various questions and subject matters I knew I’d be tested on. 

Therefore, I turned my unstructured data into structured data per my specific study system. 

In the case of SEO, embedding markup and coded tags that characterize each written element would be how to structure that data — much like I did with my class notes.

How does structured data work?

At this point, you might be asking: How can there exist a language (markup) that is consistently recognized by search engines and people alike?  

In order for this markup to be accurately and universally understood, there are standardized formats and vocabularies that should be used. 

Let’s go back to basics for a minute. When conveying information, whether you’re communicating with a human or a computer, you need two main things: vocabulary (a set of words with known meanings) and grammar (a set of rules on how to use those words to convey meaning).

Most terminology surrounding structured data markup can be organized into these two concepts: vocabularies and grammars, and webmasters can combine whichever two they need to structure their data (with the exception of Microformats).

Vocabularies Grammars
Schema.org Microdata
DCMI JSON-LD
FOAF RDFa

Okay … that’s enough of the fancy developer speak. What should you be using for your structured data?

Schema.org is the accepted universal vocabulary standard for structured data. It was founded by and is currently sponsored by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. It’s flexible, open-sourced, and constantly updated and improved. Note: Schema is called such because it features markup for a wide variety of schemas — or data models — for different types of content.

Here’s an example of Schema Markup language (which is good for SEO) pulled from my latest article on branding.

“@context” : “http://schema.org”,

“@type” : “Article”,

“name” : “The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2019”

“author” : {

“@type” : “Person”,

“name” : “Allie Decker”

},

“datePublished” : “2019-04-02”,

“image” : “http://bit.ly/2Gd2hUI”,

“url” : “http://bit.ly/2G13vSX”,

“publisher” : {

“@type” : “Organization”,

“name” : “HubSpot”

As for grammar, there’s no correct answer. Google recommends JSON-LD (and defaults to that grammar when using its Structured Data Markup Helper — as you see above), but it also recognizes Microdata and RDFa. It comes down to what your developers and webmasters are most comfortable with.

Structured data affects mobile a little differently — through Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Accelerated Mobile Pages is a Google-backed, open source project to help all mobile pages load quickly regardless of device. Pages with AMP markup appear within Google’s special SERP features, such as Top Stories and News Carousels.

👉🏼Here’s how to create an AMP HTML page.

structured-data-amp-exampleSource

Structured data markup works a little differently for social platforms. This requires Open Graph Protocol and similar languages that ensure your website and blog content appear in an easy-to-read way when you promote this content on a social network. Two common social media features that use Open Graph Protocol are Pinterest Rich Pins and Twitter cards. We talk more about how to do this below

Here’s an example of Open Graph Protocol language (which is good for social media) using the same source.

<meta property=”og:title” content=”The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2019”/>

<meta property=”og:type” content=”article”/>

<meta property=”og:URL” content=”https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/branding”

<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://blog.hubspot.com/hubfs/branding-2.jpg”

<meta property=”og:admins” content=”Allie Decker”

<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”HubSpot”

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Discover how to create and manage a brand that helps your business become known, loved, and preferred”

Google’s SERPs weren’t always as easy on the eye as they are today. Don’t remember? Check out this Google result for “pool tables” from 2008.

structured-data-old-googleSource

 Let’s compare. Here’s the same result from today in 2019.

structured-data-new-google 

Wow. That’s a world of difference. Not only are these results easier to read, but the extra features make for a much more informative, intelligent searching — and shopping — experience. Between the sponsored content and live map (plus the product carousel, question snippets, and related searches not shown in the screenshot), Google shows me pretty much all I need to know about pool tables.

Heck, sometimes I search for something and find the answer right on the SERP — I don’t even have to click on a result. Does that ever happen to you? If it has, you can thank structured data.

Note: Unfortunately, structured data doesn’t impact your organic search ranking (besides helping you grab a spot in a knowledge panel or Featured Snippet at the top of the list). It also doesn’t change how your content looks or behaves on your website — it only affects how and where it might appear on SERPs.

Examples of Structured Data

To the average internet user, structured data can’t be seen. It’s hidden among the code that makes up our favorite websites and online platforms. So, how does structured data affect what we (and our customers) see? What does it look like to the “naked” eye?

When webmasters adhere to structured data standards, search engines like Google and Bing reward their websites and organizations by featuring their content in a variety of SERP features (another reason to use structured data). 

Let’s talk about those features — specifically on Google. Google SERPs display a wide variety of information, but the ones we talk about below are specifically influenced by structured data. There are also a couple of ways that structured data can benefit your non-SERP marketing efforts on social media and email marketing.

structured-data-googleSource

First, it’s important to note that structured data can manifest on SERPs in two main ways: through content features (which appear as separate search results) and enriched result features (which enhance the search results themselves).

Content Features

Carousels

Carousels show up as images with captions related to a search, such as movie actors, cars, or news articles. Searchers can click through these images to access a separate SERP for that search. 

👉🏼Here’s how to use structured data to show up on Carousels.

structured-data-carousel

Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets display information relevant to a query — and link to a third-party website (which sets them apart from Answer Boxes and Knowledge Panels, which draw from public domain databases). They don’t count as one of the ten organic results on a SERP, so if you “win” the snippet, your website shows up twice. Featured Snippets can also be displayed as quotes, tables, jobs, rich cards (for movies and recipes), or the question section titled “People may ask”. 

👉🏼Here’s how to optimize your content for Google’s featured snippet box.

structured-data-featured-snippet

Knowledge Panels (a.k.a. Knowledge Graph Cards)

Knowledge Panels pull together the most relevant information from a search and display it as a separate panel on the right side of a SERP. They typically include images, dates, and category-specific information, such as stock prices for companies or birthdays for celebrities. You can use a structured data markup like Schema to tag your content with all of these categories, but there’s no guarantee that Google will reward you with your own knowledge panel. In fact, structured data doesn’t promise anything, it only makes it easier for search engines and social networks to interpret your content. 

Also, Knowledge Panels aim to answer queries without requiring a click-through … good news for searchers, and bad news for businesses.

👉🏼Here’s how to make your site easier for bots to crawl (to increase your chances of showing up in a Knowledge Panel).

structured-data-knowledge-panel

Enriched Search Features (a.k.a. Rich Search Results or Rich Snippets)

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs “indicate a page’s position in the site hierarchy,” according to Google. Breadcrumbs only appear on mobile devices, in place of a URL, and help searchers understand a page’s relationship to the rest of a website. 

👉🏼Here’s how to use structured data to display Breadcrumbs in your results.

structured-data-breadcrumbs
Sitelinks and Sitelinks Searchbox

Sitelinks are additional links displayed beneath a search result that navigate to different parts of a website. Google pulls them into a SERP when it thinks additional results would benefit a searcher. Websites with intelligent anchor text and alt text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition have a good chance of displaying a result with Sitelinks.

structured-data-sitelinksSitelinks Searchbox is like Sitelinks with a search bar directly featured in the result. That search box uses Google — not the featured website — which creates a brand new SERP. Sitelinks Searchboxes only show up in branded searches.

👉🏼Here’s how to get a Sitelinks Searchbox for your website.

structured-data-sitelinks-searchbox

Non-SERP Features

Social Cards

Social-specific markup doesn’t have a big impact on SEO, but it’s still important for marketers to understand. Not only does this markup enhance your social posts and ad efforts, but it can also be read by search engines — which could contribute to any SEO changes in the future.

Social cards display images and rich text when links are shared on social media. Any organization who uses social media to share content should be using proper social markup, such as Open Graph Protocol.

👉🏼Here’s how you ensure your social content displays social cards:

structured-data-open-graph
Email Marketing

Have you recently booked a flight or ordered something online? If you have Gmail, you might’ve seen your reservation or order details summarized at the top of the confirmation email. This is due to email markup. If you send emails for orders, reservations, confirmations, or bookings, consider using email markup to make your email recipients’ lives easier.

👉🏼Here’s how to get started with email markup in Gmail.

structured-data-email-markup

The concept of structured data might seem confusing, but its implementation isn’t nearly as complicated. In fact, there are a number of structured data tools that can help you along the way, namely Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and Testing tools. Sure, you can implement structured data by hand, but Google’s tool ensures accuracy — and makes your life easier.

It’s important to note that adding structured data markup on your website doesn’t guarantee a Featured Snippet or Sitelinks Sitebox. Google can take weeks to crawl your new HTML markup, and sometimes, the information doesn’t show up at all.

However, taking the steps to implement structured data is critical. Google might be smart, but it can’t (yet) understand everything on its own. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but using the correct structured data markup will ensure Google can make sense of your content and can help you potentially increase your click-through rates and visibility.

Here’s how to implement structured data by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

1. Open Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper

Open up Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

structured-data-google-markup-tool

2. Select your data type and enter the URL

Make sure the Website tab is open. Choose the type of data to which you’d like to add the HTML markup. Plug the web page URL (or the HTML code) at the bottom , and click Start Tagging.

structured-data-google-markup-tool-2 

3. Highlight page elements and assign data tags

When the tool loads, you should see your web page on the left side and data items on the right. Highlight different components of your web page to assign data tags such as name, author, and date published. (The tool will suggest different data tags for different types of data, i.e. Events or Book Reviews.)

structured-data-google-markup-tool-3

As you select and assign data tags, you’ll see the information pop up under My Data Tags on the right panel. You can also add any missing tags that might not be visible on the web page; just click Add missing tags.

4. Create the HTML

When you’re finished tagging and assigning data items, click Create HTML in the upper right-hand corner.

5. Add the schema markup to your page

On the next screen, you should see your structured data markup on the right side. The tool automatically produces the script as JSON-LD markup, but you can change it to Microdata by clicking the JSON-LD drop-down menu in the top menu.

structured-data-google-markup-tool-3

Click Download to download the script as an HTML file. To read more about adding structured data to your article (or any other data type), click Articles in the right corner above the markup.

To “publish” your markup, copy and paste the new HTML markup into your CMS or source code of your web page. Lastly, click Finish in the top right corner to check out Google’s recommended Next Steps … one of which will bring you to this next one.

6. Test your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

Open up Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. You can enter any URL of a web page you’d like to test, or you can enter HTML code. (In the example below, I’m analyzing the code previously produced by Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper Tool.) Click Run Test to begin.

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7. Diagnose and fix any detected issues

The tool will show you your HTML markup on the left side and the markup analysis on the right. Note any red errors or warnings. Click on any data row to highlight the corresponding markup on the left.

If necessary, you can edit any errors in the HTML directly in the tool panel before “publishing” your tested HTML markup.

8. Be patient

This last step is simple but arguably the hardest — to sit back and wait. Google can take weeks to re-crawl new HTML, and even then, your content isn’t guaranteed to show up in rich snippets or other SERP features.

As long as you follow the correct structured data standards and markup, give Google all the information it needs to know, and be patient, your website and business can benefit greatly from structured data and enhanced SEO.

Conclusion

Google and other search engines continuously improve how they aggregate and present information. They offer enhanced, intelligent search experiences with the customer in mind. It’s up to you as a business to keep up, and you can do so through structured data

Structured data benefits businesses — through increased visibility — and consumers — through better usability. Use this guide, tools, and resources to optimize and organize your website and make your customers’ lives easier. 

23 Brilliant Twitter Cover Photo Examples From Real Brands

What do you think to yourself when you see someone’s Twitter avatar is the default image of an egg? Chances are, you probably assume they are either inactive, a fake account, or someone not worth following.

While almost all businesses understand that the egghead approach isn’t doing them any justice, they often fail to understand that a plain, flat Twitter cover photo can be equally as off-putting to potential followers.

Think about it: Would you rather engage with a company that has a header image featuring a dozen of their happiest employees working together on a cool project, or one that relies on a plain blue rectangle to do the talking?

Despite the prominent placement and size (the Twitter cover photo dimensions are 500 pixels tall by 1500 pixels wide), far too many companies are underusing this opportunity to express themselves. All they need is a little inspiration.

To give you a better sense of what a cover photo done right looks like, we’ve put together a list of 23 cool, funny, and cute Twitter header image examples from companies around the world. Check them out below.

Click here to access a free Twitter for Businesses kit.

1. Lyft

Pink and cool Twitter header image by Lyft

Lyft’s Twitter header image is designed to give you an emotional lift. The company has always been a positive face on the sharing economy, but now, it combines a creative use of the peace sign — subbing in for the “y” in Lyft — with an overall positive tone.

The company’s header image also embraces simplicity, centralizing its text on a user’s screen and ensuring consistency with its profile icon on the bottom-lefthand side.

2. Canva

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Canva is an easy-to-use design app, and everything about their cover photo supports their brand. For one, their sub-brand, “Design School,” is an inclusive campaign that encourages even non-designers to find their creative side — thereby encouraging tentative customers to use their products. It’s also fun, friendly, and colorful, all of which are characteristics consistent throughout their web presence.

Finally, and most importantly, it was probably made using Canva, which lets you create simple designs using images, text, and objects. Overall, very well done.

3. Target

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Target’s creative cover photo is almost so mesmerizing that we don’t want to look away. The red and white pattern, the man’s white outfit, and the back wheel of the bike he’s carrying all perfectly compliment the company’s signature target logo. The image makes for a visually interesting look and feel. We’re giving Target an A+ for coordination.

4. LinkedIn SlideShare

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The collage SlideShare created for its header photo is an interesting way to show off what people can expect to see on the social presentation platform. While collage formats can sometimes appear cluttered, they managed to arrange this image strategically so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Not to mention, this approach doubles as a way for them to delight their users by highlighting real presentations for the whole Twittersphere to see.

5. British Airways

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British Airways’ cover photo is perfectly simple. While the high-quality image of the plane dominates most of the space, our favorite part is the team of people on the ground, beneath the jet.

The company could have put the jet all by itself, but British Airways chose to keep the dozen neon-vested employees around it. This approach collectively reminds viewers how people-focused this airline is — that the product is nothing without its employees. As a result, this cover photo tells a story that satisfies potential customers and potential job candidates alike.

6. Taco Bell

taco-bell-twitter-cover-photo-1

Ahh, Taco Bell, the social media darling marketers can’t help but love. They’re rocking almost every social platform imaginable: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Snapchat. And while this Twitter header is fairly simple, we love that it’s consistent with their other social media accounts, such as their Facebook cover photo below.

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Plus, they always use fun, bright colors to create a unique, thematic experience across all of their accounts. This is a great trick for anyone looking to enhance their brand consistency.

7. Netflix

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Netflix’s Twitter header image is a great example of a brand that knows how to capitalize on this prominently placed visual space. Here, they use the space to promote one of their latest original shows. And honestly, who doesn’t love a good Netflix recommendation?

We also love how Netflix has localized its Twitter cover photos across its international accounts, dedicating each image to a different promotion that’s relevant to the audience in that region. Check out the variations below from three different areas of the world:

Netflix Middle East & North Africa

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Netflix Japan

netflix-japan-twitter-cover-photo

Netflix Korea

netflix-korea-twitter-cover-photo

8. Animoto

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When someone new arrives on your Twitter profile, something about your profile needs to compel them to stick around. If they can’t easily figure out what your company does, you risk losing them pretty quickly. Why not tell them right in your cover photo? Animoto uses that precious real estate — the very first place that draws the eye on your Twitter profile — to nail its value proposition. While the business reiterates what it does in the Twitter description, putting it right out there in an attractive visual is a great way to communicate that value prop faster.

9. Basecamp

Funny Twitter header image by Basecamp

For those of us who don’t have professional or stock photography at our disposal, here’s a great example to inspire you. Basecamp, a project management software company, doesn’t have a product that’s easy to showcase through photos, either. Instead, the company uses a funny, captioned cartoon to portray what it does. The office supplies, written question, and of course the frantic employee in the center, all lead back to a single theme: the need for productivity.

10. Rio Tinto

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This crisp image of an old tree, which Rio Tinto uses for its cover photo, above, catches your eye right away. And while it is impressive, what we’re most interested in is the story it tells about the company. Rio Tinto is a pioneer of mining materials that, according to its Twitter bio, are “essential to human progress.” The tree above could be considered a nice metaphor for how much success is rooted in the company’s rich past.

11. Etsy

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If you’re not already familiar with Etsy, it can be best described as a peer-to-peer ecommerce website for handmade and vintage goods. With that said, it’s only right that the business would employ an artsy display of images to represent their do-it-yourself roots. But the juxtaposition of the left image and the one on the right is perhaps the best part: Etsy sells everything, from office supplies to beautiful flowers — both of which are consistent in color with the Etsy brand.

12. Starbucks

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Starbucks’ Twitter header photo looks like a high-quality version of something you’d pull from a #Starbucks hashtag search on Instagram. For that reason, we’re certain that this is something that will catch the eye of its loyal customers and resonate with them. No matter what your coffee is waking you up for, Starbucks should be seen as the comfortable pit stop during your day. This appetizing image will have any coffee lovers craving an ice-cold caffeine fix.

13. TOMS

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TOMS’ entire business is based on the one-for-one business model that helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to people in need from all over the world. Its cover photo isn’t laser-focused on these values, but it does showcase both the TOMS product — the shoes themselves — and the ordinary customers who make the TOMS cause possible.

14. Danone

Cute Twitter header image by Danone

It’s hard not to smile at this adorable — and real — Twitter header from Danone. And with a hashtag on the bottom-righthand corner that reads “OnePlanetOneHealth,” the image serves as the perfect compliment to the company vision. Between the proud mother on the right and her hungry daughter on the left, Danone celebrates the goofy, educational moments its yogurt is based on.

15. UNICEF

unicef-twitter-cover-photo

The Twitter header image of UNICEF, one of the world’s biggest not-for-profits, isn’t just consistent in color — it’s consistent in vision. When your business is dedicated to serving the underserved, the best thing you can do for your audience is put whom your fighting for front and center. As marketers, we talk a lot about calls to action (CTAs). The image above is the ultimate CTA, and it doesn’t even need a landing page to capture your attention.

16. Old Spice

Funny Twitter header image by Old Spice

Known for their tomfoolery, Old Spice’s Twitter cover photo is a great visualization of their quirky, charismatic approach to marketing. Between helicopters spouting laser beams to flaming lion and bear heads, this header image is both inventive and humorous, traits consistent with their brand.

17. Petzl

Cool Twitter header image by Petzl

Petzl is a developer of headlamps for all sorts of dimly lit outdoor activities. What we love about the company’s cover photo, above, is that it works whether or not you know what the business does.

If you know about Petzl’s product, the two lights on the far lefthand side of the image demonstrate just how powerful these headlamps are. If you don’t know about Petzl’s product, the image above makes you want to find out more. Either way, this cover photo tells a story about its customers, and the amazing adventures they might take Petzl on with them.

18. Garmin

garmin-twitter-cover-photo

It’s uncommon (and not often recommended) for businesses to feature their products in their social media cover photos. Garmin is a glaring exception. This GPS watch-maker takes advantage of its circular profile picture to promote its similarly shaped time-tellers in a truly natural way. All the while, its background image clarifies just who these advanced watches are made for, putting the company’s core customer (an outdoors-person) in the exact center of the image. This artwork is unbelievably well-balanced from left to right.

19. Live Nation

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Live Nation isn’t just passionate about music — it’s passionate about the visual experience music can deliver. What better than to feature KISS, one of the most experience-focused bands in history, as the company’s header image? Not only is this artwork consistent in color, but it is true to the business’s commitment to an amazing live experience. This is why the header image of a company like Spotify, another music-related brand, might be more focused on the audio, while Live Nation is focused on the artists behind the sound.

20. Chloé

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Chloé is an upscale fashion brand from France, and its Twitter header image truly lets the clothes do the talking. With a light, understated profile picture to the lefthand side, the superbly dressed models in the cover photo are what draws your gaze. In addition, all of these women are walking leftward toward the profile picture, subtly driving your attention back to the brand name that makes it all possible.

21. Vodafone Group

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Your Twitter header photo is a valuable piece of real estate — and it’s a great space for promoting various marketing campaigns associated with your business. Vodafone reiterates its logo in the cover photo, but just differently enough to draw interest and drive engagement with the clever written copy inside the logo. The image also maintains a consistent color scheme, especially with the reds and whites of its logo.

22. Maersk

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We’ve written about Maersk Line’s Twitter presence before. We especially admire how its social media team has found a way to find the beauty in a stereotypically “boring” industry — container shipping — through brilliant photography. The company’s cover photo, which shines light onto an abstract, seemingly remote landscape, is a perfect example of the gorgeous imagery found throughout their Twitter page. It also casually reinforces its commitment to the industry: No matter how distant or unexpected the destination is, Maersk is en route.

23. American College of Sports Medicine

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Colleges, even specialized ones, can be hard-pressed to show the essence of who they are in a single image — much less in the few seconds they have to capture a person’s attention on social media. The American College of Sports Medicine defies the odds with this simple, brand-aligned cover photo, above. Sneakers, water, and weights — you don’t need any other information to know what this institution is all about: sports.

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7 of the Most Inventive Interactive Marketing Examples We’ve Ever Seen

If you really think about it, the content formats we rely on today have an uncanny resemblance to the content formats we relied on yesterday — our blog posts look like print articles, our offers look like books, and our slide decks like look presentations.

Relying on the content formats we used yesterday to educate and entertain our audience today is fine, though. They’re ultimately used to these mediums. But, at the same time, we’ve overlooked a huge opportunity to engage our audiences at record levels. We’ve glossed over the fact that a screen and computers are so much more than just digital pieces of paper and printing presses.

Fortunately, the interactive marketing movement is charging along and their early adopters have proven that if marketers want to cut through the noise, they can’t just do what they’ve always been doing. They need to refresh their work.

Interactive Marketing Campaign Examples

1. Clash Up | Eko

Mash-up remixes like Two Friends’ Big Bootie Mixes are some of the most popular tunes around today, racking up over 35 million SoundCloud streams over the past three years. However, Eko, an interactive storytelling platform that produces interactive shows, music videos, and branded content, has created a remixed music experience that’s arguably more entertaining than any of Two Friends’ mixes.

In Clash Up, Eko’s interactive music experience, they let you mix a variety of songs from different genres and decades with one main track. For instance, in their first episode, Six Degrees of B.I.G., you get to choose from a diverse range of songs like A-Ha’s “Take on Me”, Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle”, Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down”, Devo’s “Whip It”, and The Flaming Lips’ “When You Smile” and blend it with one of The Notorious B.I.G.’s most legendary songs “Big Poppa”.

2. The Structure of Stand-Up Comedy | The Pudding

Stand-up comedians might seem like the lucky wisecrackers who are blessed with the talent to improvise some of the funniest jokes and bits you’ve ever heard, but, in reality, they polish their performance with painstaking precision. To crack their audiences up as much as possible, they make sure their routine’s stories seamlessly flow from one to the other. However, some comedians, like Ali Wong, take their stand-up preparation to an entirely different level.

In their interactive slideshow about how Ali Wong structured her Netflix special Baby Cobra, The Pudding, a digital publication that crafts visual essays about culture and entertainment, describe how she sculpts her routine into a narrative instead of just telling a bunch of separate jokes. By visually outlining her entire routine, The Pudding reveals how Ali Wong weaved all her bits into a story, building her world and perception of life in a way that her audience can truly understand, which left them with a deeper feeling of empathy, meaning, and, ultimately, humor.

3. Incorporated Interactive Trailer | Syfy

To promote Matt Damon’s and Ben Affleck’s science fiction television series, Incorporated, Syfy teamed up with Wirewax, a company that offers interactive video technology and creative services, to produce an interactive trailer that pulls you into a dystopian future where global corporations also serve as totalitarian governments.

As the trailer plays, you can click on hotspots that’ll play clips of the show, previewing its premise and giving you a glimpse of the main character’s motivation and scheme to undermine the corporate government that controls his city.

4. The New Media Message | Velocity Partners

In their interactive slideshow, which honestly looks like it belongs in Tron, Velocity Partners, a B2B marketing agency, explains why innovative marketers need to leverage new content formats in order to tell more refreshing stories.

By showing, not telling, how their interactive slideshow, which is called a Velocity String, can captivate an audience, as well as how marketers have created so many blog posts, eBooks, and SlideShares that they’ve become dull and predictable, Velocity Partners hammers home the point that the most engaging and surprising mediums are best at delivering the most engaging and suprising stories.

5. The Big Gronkowski | Ceros

In honor of Rob Gronkowski’s recent retirement, Ceros, an experiential content creation platform, decided to create an interactive article that spotlights the two things Gronk will always be remembered for — his athletic prowess and goofy attitude.

When you visit their interactive article, you can toggle between Gronk’s “Warrior” and “Goofball” side, clicking on hotspots that reveal his impressive achievements, his laundry list of injuries, and some of the funniest things he’s ever done. Once you finish interacting with the article, you’ll truly understand why Rob Gronkowski is considered just as athletic as he is goofy.

6. Scotland From the Sky | BBC Scotland

In 2019, Rough Guides, a renowned travel guidebook, named Scotland the most beautiful country in the world. And a big reason why it’s such a spectacle is because Glen Coe, a Scottish valley that cuts through the ruins of an ancient supervolcano, is one of the most striking landscapes in the world.

With their immersive, 360 degree video of Glen Coe, BBC Scotland can grip viewers because they’re able to experience the landscape from an intimate point of view at every possible angle, making them feel like they’re actually there.

7. Conversational Marketing | HubSpot

Interaction is the crux of conversational marketing, so it makes perfect sense that HubSpot leveraged this Velocity String to convey the importance of conversational marketing and promote their 15-part video crash course on implementing live chat, Facebook Messenger, and bots to your inbound marketing strategy.

By contrasting our reliance on messaging apps to interact with friends and family with marketing’s sluggish adoption of chat bots, covering conversational marketing’s benefits, and spotlighting how HubSpot’s new messaging tools can integrate with your entire marketing suite and database, HubSpot’s interactive slideshow not only engages you for its entire duration, but it also persuades you to take the next step and learn even more about conversational marketing after you finish interacting with their content.

How to Get More Leads From a Live Event Using Social Media

Do you attend live events? Wondering how to maximize your prospecting efforts at events? In this article, you’ll find a strategic plan for identifying and connecting with prospects via social media before, during, and after an event. Why Social Media Matters for Live Event Prospecting Events, expos, and tradeshows were the pinnacle of prospect outreach […]

The post How to Get More Leads From a Live Event Using Social Media appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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