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The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping: How to Start a Dropshipping Business

You’ve decided to launch an online store and join the ecommerce revolution. The very first questions you need to answer are all about your product: what will you sell, where will you get it and how will you get it to your customers. Amazing marketing and incredible customer service won’t get you very far without sourcing, inventory management, order fulfillment and shipping processes in place.

Does that sound intimidating, boring or even impossible? You may want to skip the hassle and check out dropshipping.

Before dropshipping, there were two major ecommerce models:

  • Make a unique product from scratch. Do you love knitting cashmere cat sweaters? Great! You’ll have a completely unique product to bring to the marketplace. But can you create demand and scale your business?
  • Purchase inventory in bulk. You won’t need to develop a new product, but you might get stuck with a garage full of widgets you can’t sell. If you do get traction, you’ll need to tackle fulfilling and shipping orders on your own.

With dropshipping, you are only responsible for marketing and selling the products. Another person in the supply chain worries about product, inventory, packaging and shipping. But that means rather than finding efficiencies in the system, you’ll need to get very clever to take on Amazon, big box stores and other dropshipping ecommerce stores.

Want more tips on how to be a successful online retailer? Check out this webinar series.

The Pros & Cons of Dropshipping

Dropshipping can sound like a magic bullet for making money online, but don’t be fooled. Like anything else, there are upsides and downsides to dropshipping.

The Pros:

1. No startup capital. If you’re just getting started, dropshipping lets you launch without investing a lot of money. Traditional retailers need to buy and store inventory in order to sell it to consumers. But if you’re using a dropshipper, you can offer a full catalogue of products with little overhead.

2. Less hassle involved. As mentioned above, you don’t have to deal with on-hand inventory, which means that you don’t have to handle packing or shipping either. This lets you focus your time and energy on marketing and growing your business.

3. You can easily expand your offerings. If you want to expand your offerings, dropshipping is a great way to test new products with your audience. This will allow you to truly see if they’re a market fit without having to invest in large amounts of expensive inventory up-front.

The Cons:

1. Managing the logistics. The logistics for dropshipping can be hard to overcome as your business expands. If your dropshipping supplier relies on multiple warehouses, this will be even more of a challenge. Poor logistics management can lead to a subpar customer experience, due to improper tracking numbers, incorrect addresses and shipping delays.

2. The low barrier to entry. This sounds like a positive, and it is. But at the same time, because of the low barrier to entry, plenty of other people will be selling the same products. This makes it harder to stand out as a new business and means there’s stiff competition. Remember, if a supplier dropshipping for you, they’ll dropship to anyone, and that makes it tough to stand out.

3. No control over the packaging. If you’re an online-only store, the very first physical interaction you have with your customers is when they open their purchase. But if you’re dropshipping, you give up control over the packaging. That means no special touches or cute thank-you cards that can really make your store stand out. These days most reputable dropshippers will at least allow for private label shipping with customized invoicing and packing slips.

4. Tight profit margins. It’s very difficult for small businesses to compete on price, and the nature of dropshipping means you aren’t selling a unique product. Make sure you are ready to invest in something that will differentiate your store, like great educational resources, strong copywriting, or building a unique niche market.

Avoid These Common Dropshipping Mistakes

After you’ve decided to start dropshipping, you need to make sure you’ve got a solid strategy in place from the get-go. And that means avoiding these common mistakes.

Expecting Your Products to Sell Themselves

As mentioned above, dropshipping automatically puts you in a competitive space, because others are selling exactly the same thing that you are. It’s all too easy to think that you’ll be able to set up dropshipping for your store and then have an instant money-maker on your hands.

The opposite is true — when you’re dropshipping, you need to put all of the time that you save on shipping and fulfillment into marketing and SEO. Those are the elements that will drive traffic to your store and make you sales when you’re a dropshipper.

Since you can’t control the fulfillment or packaging with dropshipping, you always want to put a priority focus on quality customer service and giving customers a positive experience with the parts of the buying process that you can control.

Relying Too Much on One Supplier or Not Testing Suppliers

If you rely on one supplier without having a back-up, you’re setting yourself up for logistical issues down the line. What if they raise their prices to a point you can’t afford? Or go out of business? Or simply decide not to work with you any more? Even on the less drastic end of scenarios, they could be out of stock on a product and have no idea when they’ll get it back in stock. Always have a backup supplier that you can turn to if your go-to supplier doesn’t work out for a particular order.

Every time you start working with a new supplier, you should make sure that they cut the mustard by placing test orders. When you get the order, examine it closely, considering the packaging, shipment time and so on, and make sure that everything is top-quality. It’s a good idea to continue placing test orders on a somewhat regular basis. Fulfillment is critically important to any online business, and you want to catch any slips in quality before they become an issue.

Stressing Over Shipping Rates

Dealing with shipping rates can be a hassle, even if you ship all your orders from one location.

If you ship from more than one warehouse, or dropship through multiple suppliers, it can be a nightmare. What if an order draws on two different warehouses, or three different suppliers?

Instead of stressing about multi-location shipping on every single order, take a step back and look at the big picture. What are you trying to achieve? Accurate shipping rates? Or more sales, happy customers, and repeat business? If you’re burning energy over shipping prices on every single order, that’s energy you’re not spending on creating a better shopping experience, growing your store, marketing and so on.

So what should you do instead? Take a look at past orders and use them to work out a flat shipping rate. Or perhaps a tiered rate based on cart value. Will it cut into your profit margins?

Yes, on some orders. But you’ll come out ahead on others, and if you’ve set your flat rate properly, shipping costs will even out over time. There’s also the fact that flat rate and free shipping has been shown to increase conversion rates—one of the main reasons customers abandon their shopping carts is because of shipping costs. A flat shipping fee removes confusion and seemingly “hidden” fees that show up at checkout.

As you can see, dropshipping isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it can be a great way to start or scale an ecommerce store. At every stage of your business, you need to step back and evaluate whether or not dropshipping makes sense for your store.

Dropshipping on Amazon

One place dropshipping has thrived in the past is Amazon. If you want to sell product on the platform, you’ll need to be responsible for making sure orders are shipped and stored properly by yourself or the wholesaler you’re marketing products for. You also must be transparent about who created the product and who seller is.

According to Amazon, although dropshipping on the site is acceptable, sellers must be as transparent as possible so the customer knows who they are buying a product from and where they can contact if there’s an issue. The seller and marketer must also be responsible for processing and managing returns without Amazon’s assistance.

For businesses that don’t want to pay warehouse costs, Amazon offers an FBA (or Fulfilled By Amazon) service where vendors can ship products through the them. However, the seller of the products is still transparently listed as the dropshipper and products are not affiliated Amazon.

With the FBA program, Amazon receives a client’s products in bulk. They will then warehouse the bulk safely in their own locations and use their own service to ship to customers on behalf of the vendor. Amazon has also partnered with Shopify so that its ecommerce clients can also take advantage of the service and avoid warehousing.

According to Oberlo, this service has a number of benefits, like low warehouse costs. However, it’s also heavily regulated by Amazon so there’s not much wiggle room to adjust Amazon’s pre-set dropshipping process.

For example, dropshippers must follow FBA policies including one which states they cannot purchase products from another vendor and re-sell them under their own name.

Dropshipping on eBay

With the auction site. eBay, you can create an account and business listing and then start selling or auctioning off your products.

While it’s easy to list and sell your or your wholesalers products on eBay, vendors do have to pay various fees, such as Final Value Fees, which eBay describes as a percentage of the total purchase. This total purchase amount includes shipping but excludes sales tax.

Additionally, while eBay allows dropshipping, its process is also regulated. While you can sell items from a wholesaler, you can’t purchase the same items from another eBay seller and then resell them as your own. They still also require similar levels of transparency so the seller of the item and contact information is clear. Like Amazon, the seller must deal with any returns, order management, or any product complaints.

YouTube Algorithm: The Constantly Updated Guide to YouTube’s Updates & Changes

Since marketers are at the mercy of algorithms on nearly every publishing channel, knowing how each of these unique algorithms work is crucial to attracting and maintaining an audience. Luckily, while some channels are rather reserved about the secrets of their algorithms, YouTube, the most popular video platform, has been remarkably transparent.

In 2016, YouTube published a research paper that provides a high-level overview of their recommendation system’s architecture, and they also launched a course for creators about getting discovered on their platform.

Naturally, we wanted to read the paper and take the course to help you understand exactly how to boost your rankings on YouTube. Read on to learn what we discovered and how you can bolster your presence on the video platform.

How does the YouTube algorithm work?

YouTube’s algorithm serves the most relevant, personalized videos to their users on five different sections of their platform: search, home, suggested videos, trending, and subscriptions. By helping users find the videos they’re most likely to watch and enjoy, YouTube can keep viewers on the platform for as long as possible and get them to visit their site regularly.

To figure out which videos and channels that users are most likely to enjoy watching, YouTube “follows” their audience, which means they track their users’ engagement with each video they watch. More specifically, they pay attention to which videos each user watches, what they don’t watch, how much time they spend watching each video, their likes and dislikes, and their “not interested in” feedback.

Since their algorithm rewards engagement instead of vanity metrics like views and clicks, YouTube incentivizes creators to produce videos that they’re audience actually enjoys watching, discouraging them from trying to game the system.

But YouTube’s algorithm also uses different signals and metrics to rank and recommend videos on each section of their platform. With this in mind, let’s go over how the algorithm decides to serve content to users on their search, home, suggested videos, trending, and subscriptions section.

Search

The two biggest factors that affect your videos’ search rankings are its keywords and relevance. When ranking videos in search, YouTube will consider how well your titles, descriptions, and content match each users’ queries. They’ll also consider how many videos users’ have watched from your channel and the last time they watched other videos surrounding the same topic as your video.

Home & Suggested Videos

No two users will have the same experience on YouTube — they want to serve the most relevant, personalized recommendations to each of their viewers. To do this, they first analyze users’ activity history and find hundreds of videos that could be relevant to them.

Then, they rank these videos by how well each video has engaged and satisfied similar users, how often each viewer watches videos from each channel or other videos surrounding the same topic, and how many times YouTube has already shown each video to users.

YouTube has also noticed users tend to watch more content when they receive recommendations from a variety of channels, so they like the diversify their suggested videos feed and users’ homepages.

Trending

The trending page is a feed of new and popular videos in a user’s specific country. YouTube wants to balance popularity with novelty when they rank videos in this section, so they heavily consider view count and rate of view growth for each video they rank.

Subscriptions

YouTube has a subscriptions page where users can view all the recently uploaded videos from the channels they subscribe to. But this page isn’t the only benefit channels get when they acquire a ton of subscribers.

To determine rankings on their platform, YouTube uses a metric called view velocity, which measures the number of subscribers who watch your video right after it’s published. And the higher your video’s view velocity, the higher your videos will rank. YouTube also accounts for the number of active subscribers you have when they rank your videos.

How to Optimize Your Videos for YouTube’s Algorithm

To rank on YouTube, the first thing to consider is optimizing your videos and channel for popular search queries. To do this, place relevant keywords in your videos’ titles, tags, descriptions, SRT files (which are transcriptions), video files, and thumbnail files.

You should also check out the most popular queries guiding viewers to your videos, which you can find in YouTube’s Search Report. If these queries are slightly different than your video’s topic, consider updating your video to fill these content gaps and add the keywords to your metadata. If there’s a stark difference, consider making new videos about these popular queries.

The next thing to consider when ranking on YouTube is optimizing your videos and channel for engagement. To generate engagement, though, you first need to attract users’ attention. And one of the best ways to instantly grab users’ attention is by creating vibrant thumbnails for each of your videos.

Thumbnails, the small, clickable snapshots that viewers see when they search for videos on YouTube, can be just as important as a video’s title. They preview your video and entice viewers to click through. The brain is also programmed to respond to striking visuals, and this can help you differentiate yourself on a platform clogged with standard thumbnails all screaming for attention.

To create a striking thumbnail, consider including a talking head. People are naturally drawn to human faces because it’s an ingrained survival mechanism to help us quickly gauge someone’s emotions and determine if they’re a threat or friend. Research Gate also discovered that Instagram photos with faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments. Additionally, consider contrasting the colors of your thumbnail’s foreground and background to really make it pop.

Once you’ve attracted users’ attention, you can engage them by creating a bingeable series or show. You can also create playlists about a certain topic that start off with the videos that have the highest audience retention rate. This will increase the odds that users will watch most of the videos in your playlists, boosting your channel and videos’ watch time.

Another way to refine your overall video strategy is measuring your videos’ performance against engagement metrics, like watch time, average watch percentage, average view duration, audience retention, and average session duration. If you can figure out which topics and videos generate the most engagement, and you solely focus on creating those types of content, you’ll be able to shoot up YouTube’s search results page and suggested videos feed.

The Ultimate List: 57 Online Local Business Directories

Today, Google is inserting itself between consumer and local business websites much more often.

You need look no further than Google My Business conversion points, AMP, and featured snippets for proof.

So it makes sense to get your local business information into the places people are already going to find businesses like yours, rather than simply hoping they’ll find you in search results.

Getting your local business’ NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information listed on directories, online business listing sites, and citation sites helps to improve visibility, but backlinks from these sites can also have a benefit to SEO. Here are a few things to make sure your company listing has in it once you add it to a directory:

  • Consistent NAP. If you add or update your business on multiple business listing sites, make sure you’re providing the same company information across each directory.
  • A link to your website. Backlinks — also known as inbound links — are crucial to your company website’s domain authority. Consider adding a tracking link at the end of this URL as well, so you can see how much traffic your website specifically gets from the business directories that are linking to it.
  • A company description. Make sure you have a detailed description of your business that reflects your organization’s mission, culture, and values.
  • Multimedia. Give company searchers a visual taste of your business with a picture or video of your office, your employees, or your daily business operations.

There are plenty of location-specific directories and industry-specific business listing sites to which you can submit your data, but local businesses should start with the big guns and work their way toward the more niche directories.

 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the biggest and most important business listings sites today (based on Domain Authority gathered from Moz Link Explorer in May 2018). Many of these directories are completely free.

Local Business Listings & Directories for Small Business Marketing

  1. Facebook (Domain Authority = 100)
  2. Apple Maps (Domain Authority = 100)
  3. Google My Business (Domain Authority = 100)
  4. LinkedIn Company Directory (Domain Authority = 98) 
  5. Bing (Domain Authority = 94)
  6. Yelp (Domain Authority = 94)
  7. Better Business Bureau (Domain Authority = 93)
  8. Foursquare (Domain Authority = 92)
  9. MapQuest (Domain Authority = 92)
  10. HubSpot (Domain Authority = 91)
  11. Yellow Pages (Domain Authority = 91)
  12. Angies List (Domain Authority = 91)
  13. Yahoo! Local (Domain Authority = 91)
  14. Manta (Domain Authority = 87)
  15. Merchant Circle (Domain Authority = 86)
  16. Super Pages (Domain Authority = 84)
  17. Yellow Book (Domain Authority = 83)
  18. Thumbtack (Domain Authority = 82)
  19. Local.com (Domain Authority = 77)
  20. Kudzu.com (Domain Authority = 76)
  21. Hot Frog (Domain Authority = 76)
  22. Communitywalk.com (Domain Authority = 75)
  23. Brownbook.net (Domain Authority = 73)
  24. Tupalo.com (Domain Authority = 72)
  25. La Cartes (Domain Authority = 68)
  26. 2findlocal.com (Domain Authority = 67)
  27. ezlocal.com (Domain Authority = 67)
  28. ebusinesspages.com (Domain Authority = 67)
  29. Spoke (Domain Authority = 66)
  30. Chamberofcommerce.com (Domain Authority = 66)
  31. City Squares (Domain Authority = 66)
  32. Cylex USA (Domain Authority = 66)
  33. yelloyello.com (Domain Authority = 66)
  34. BOTW (Domain Authority = 65)
  35. worldweb.com (Domain Authority = 65)
  36. ibegin.com (Domain Authority = 63)
  37. Get Fave (Domain Authority = 63)
  38. Fyple.com (Domain Authority = 63)
  39. Company.com (Domain Authority = 60)
  40. Call Up Contact (Domain Authority = 60)
  41. Finduslocal.com (Domain Authority = 60)
  42. My Huckleberry (Domain Authority = 59)
  43. Hub.biz (Domain Authority = 59)
  44. where2go.com (Domain Authority = 58)
  45. City Insider (Domain Authority = 58)
  46. n49.com (Domain Authority = 58)
  47. My Sheriff (Domain Authority = 57)
  48. opendi.us (Domain Authority = 56)
  49. Bizhwy.com (Domain Authority = 55)
  50. Smartguy.com (Domain Authority = 55)
  51. Wherezit.com (Domain Authority = 55)
  52. DiscoverOurTown.com (Domain Authority = 54)
  53. Nexport.com (Domain Authority = 52)
  54. USdirectory.com (Domain Authority = 50)
  55. Wowcity.com (Domain Authority = 49)
  56. Bizadee (Domain Authority = 48)
  57. Wand.com (Domain Authority = 47)

Making sure that you have a presence everywhere your potential customers might find you is critical to any local marketing plan. Don’t wait — add your local business to some of these business listings and directories as soon as you can.

 

The Ultimate Guide to UX Design

Think about a website or app you love. What do you love about it? The ease of gathering relevant information? How you can buy something in one-click (and have it delivered tomorrow)? Or how quickly it answers your questions?

Now think about the people who created that website. What was their goal?

They were trying to create a site that had the features you love about it — a site that is easy to use, effectively delivers the information you need, and allows you to make smart decisions tailored to your challenges or concerns.

UX, or user experience, focuses on the end user’s overall experience, including their perceptions, emotions, and responses to a company’s product, system, or service. UX is defined by criteria including: ease of use, accessibility, and convenience.

The concept of UX is most often talked about in terms of tech, such as smartphones, computers, software, and websites. This is why UX is not only a fairly new field, but also a variable one — it changes quickly due to technology advancements, new types of interactions, and user preferences.

It’s no secret that customers today want quick and simple ways to meet their needs and solve their pain points. That’s why UX matters so much.

Whether or not you’re in tech, the company you own or work for most likely has a website. Well, customers could write you off in a matter of seconds if they don’t find your website useful and easy to use. In fact, most website visitors determine whether or not they want to leave within a minute of opening a page.

Follow along to learn more about the importance of the emerging field of UX, what today’s designers are being hired to do, and why every type of business can benefit from thoughtful UX design.

UX design is about creating products, “that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.” Within UX design, there are a few different categories.

1. Interaction Design

A subset of UX design is interaction design (IxD). It is defined as … yup, you guessed it… the interaction between a user and a product — the goal of that interaction is for it to be pleasant for the user.

2. Visual Design

In visual design, creators use illustrations, photography, typography, space, layouts, and color to enhance user experience. To have successful visual design, artistic design principles including balance, space, and contrast are crucial. Color, shape, size, and other elements also impact visual design.

3. User Research 

User research is the last major element of UX design. User research is how companies determine what their customers and users want and need. At its core, your website should solve a problem, and so this is an important step in determining what exactly your users require. Without it, your designs are simply guesses.

4. Information Architecture

Designers use information architecture to structure and label content so that users can find information easily. Information architecture is used on websites, smartphones, apps, and even in the physical places we go to. Ease of use and discoverability are two important factors of information architecture, which is why it is so closely related to UX design.

Think about the New York City Subway map. This is a great example of information architecture that helps people understand how to get from one place to the next. According to the Information Architecture Institute, “If you’re making things for others, you’re practicing information architecture.”

information-architecture

Source: NYC Subway Guide

UX Design Processes

There are typically three stages of the UX design process to consider:

  1. Researching your target audience
  2. Understanding the company’s goals and how those goals impact the user
  3. Applying out-of-the-box thinking to create an enjoyable end-user experience

UX design takes a human-centered design approach to create purposeful things for users during all three stages. This is about considering the needs of the people you are designing for, coming up with a wide range of solutions to resolve the issue they are facing, designing prototypes for the users to test, and then finally putting the best solution in place for the user. If you look at the issue from the perspective of the user, and design with them in mind, you will create solutions they will want to adopt.

UX Design Principles

UX is an ever-changing field, but the fundamental UX design principles remain the same. Designers also have to determine what they want in terms of visual balance. Being clear and concise is crucial … less is more! You want your design to be intuitive, and most importantly, your design should meet the user’s needs.

While UX is subject to trends and new technology, there are a few core principles that stay the same. These help designers look at various problems through a methodology that’s consistent and focused.

  • Be contextual: You want individuals to know exactly where they are in their user journey. They should never feel lost or overwhelmed. Your design is there to guide them along their journey.
  • Be human: No user enjoys feeling like they are interacting with a machine. You’ll gain the trust of the end-user if you show them your brand’s personality and approachability.
  • Be findable: Users don’t want to waste time. With a successful UX design, your work will be easy to find and navigate.
  • Be easy: Being consistent and straightforward will go a long way with your users. You build relationships with your users by providing them with enjoyable and easy experiences.
  • Be simple: No fluff, tangents, or unnecessary descriptions. Get to the point. Let’s be honest here … these days, everyone has a short attention span.

UX Deliverables

Once a UX project is completed, the designer and team will present a list of deliverables for review to a client or an internal team. They need to showcase their process and get buy-in for their ideas.

UX deliverables, which are a critical part of the design process, are the tangible records of the work that has occurred. These deliverables help UX designers to effectively communicate their design ideas and research findings and make it clear to stakeholders why recommendations for changes and improvements are made.

1. User Research

User needs, tendencies, and motivations can be determined through different types of user research. This might include quantitative and qualitative data from user testing sessions and focus groups. It could detail feedback on sign up flows, the onboarding process, and customer service inquiries.

The goal is to have a detailed analysis of what’s both working on the site and what could be improved — and to have this all backed by information gathered from users. Researchers may create buyer personas based off of real user data to help them accurately determine who will be using their device, website, or app. Through user research, designers understand and empathize with the user.

2. Competitor Assessment

Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors is a way to enhance your own UX strategy. A great way to do this is by creating a competitive analysis report that details the interaction design of your competitors and provides an analysis of where you see pitfalls and missed opportunities — things your business can take advantage of.

3. Interaction Design

An interaction design deliverable could come in the form of a prototype so that people can review how interactions with the site would occur — showing how people would complete key tasks, get information, use a product, the flow of finding information, and how easy the product is to use. You want your prototype to be as similar to the final product as possible, so you can get sign off on the design before you begin building it.

4. Information Architecture

IA is the process of taking information and organizing it in a way that is easy to understand. For large websites, this is especially important, as you need to understand what content exists and how to organize it in a way that makes sense for your visitors. The result might be a content inventory, sitemap with suggested navigation, or sample user flows that reveal how visitors move through a site.

site-map

Source: Adobe Blog

What is user interface design?

Remember when Apple unveiled its click wheel for the iPod? When it was introduced, the feature was intuitive and highly functional — not to mention cool looking.

This is a great example of a successful user interface (UI). UI refers to how people interact with computers, machines, websites, apps, wearables, and other programs or devices. User interface design is the process of making these things as easy to use and efficient as possible.

Common UI Elements

Although UX and UI have similar definitions, it’s important to note the key differences that separate the two topics. Again, UI focuses on a product’s appearances and surfaces, while UX is more concerned with how people interact with a site. Here are some common UI terms you should know to better understand how the two differentiate:

  • Informational Components: UI designers use informational components to enhance the reading experience or give more information. Examples of informational components are progress bars, notifications, and message boxes. Designers use these when they want to make it clear to the user that they have completed a task, or if they want to notify the user that action on their part is necessary.
  • Breadcrumb Navigation: This is a design tool often used by UI designers to visually increase the usability of a website. It allows users to see their location on a site in a hierarchical structure. It doesn’t need to have special visual features or over-the-top design — it should just clearly state where a person is located on a site. You may have noticed these links along the top of a webpage while online shopping or on another site.
  • Input Controls: Input Controls give individuals multiple options in response to a question you are asking. These are things like checkboxes, drop-down lists, and toggles. Keep the information you are asking in your input controls simple and to-the-point so it’s easy to find what the user needs.

breadcrumb-navigation

Source: UX Planet

User Experience Research

Without research, all of this focus on what the user needs and wants would be impossible. UX research is the investigation of users and what they need, which informs the UX design process. Companies and designers use this research to come to specific conclusions about what is working for users and what needs to be changed. There are several ways companies and designers perform UX research.

Usability Testing

Usability testing evaluates how successful a product is by testing it on actual users. It gives companies real input on how individuals are using a product or system and how that product or system works for that user. There are two primary testing methods. 

Hallway usability testing is a quick and cheap way for companies and researchers to get information from users who may not know of your company or products. Random individuals use the products and give feedback on their experience.

Remote usability testing allows companies to research with users in their natural environment (such as in their home or office). These tests can be moderated in any way the company chooses.

Usability Testing Tools

Usability testing tools allow researchers and designers to compile accurate feedback from users and then analyze that feedback to make data-driven changes. If you’re looking for a tool that can help you test how easy-to-use your site or product is, check out these options:

  • Crazy Egg: This tool allows companies to see exactly what users are clicking on while on their website. Crazy Egg also records exactly where site visitors are coming from, including geographic location, and if they were referred from another site.
  • Hotjar: This tool combines analytics and feedback to give an overview on ways to improve user experience. They do this through the use of heatmaps, visitor rates, conversion funnels, and more.

For more usability testing tools to consider, check out this post.

How to Enhance User Experience

Through the research and testing mentioned above, user experiences can always be improved. Some of the most common ways to improve user experience include: Taking a consultative approach to improving the experience, determining calls to action, implementing responsive web design, considering Fitt’s Law (more on this next), avoiding overwhelming data entry, and more.

Using Fitt’s Law to Enhance UX

Fitt’s law is a predictive model that determines the amount of time it takes for a specific user to move their mouse or cursor to a target area on a website. There are multiple versions of Fitt’s law that exist but they all revolve around the general idea that, “The time required to move to a target depends on the distance to it, yet relates inversely to its size.” Fitt’s law is widely used in UX design to improve ergonomics in addition to usability for users.

Here’s an example of this at work: Have you seen the new Touch Bar on Apple’s MacBook Pro? This is a touchscreen above the keyboard that speeds up a user’s experience when using Google, bookmarking a page, changing screen brightness, volume, and more. Touch Bar options change depending on what page you are browsing while on your laptop, whether that be an app, a site you are visiting, or even just your personal settings.

With the Touch Bar, the user’s experience is simplified because many commonly used settings are in one compact location. Fitt’s law states the further away and smaller an object or button is for a user, the harder it is for that user to click on it. That’s why the Touch Bar is such a great example of taking Fitt’s Law and successfully applying it to your device to enhance user experience.

UX Design Tools

Whether you are researching, prototyping, wireframing, storyboarding, or creating graphics, there are multiple UX tools available to assist you during the design process. In fact, there are so many tools on the market, some free and some that require a subscription fee, that it may be overwhelming for designers who are unsure of exactly what they need. To get you started, here’s a list of some popular and valuable tools to use in your UX design work:

1. Adobe Fireworks

Adobe Fireworks CS6 gives web designers a way to create graphics for their web pages without getting into the code or design details. There are a few reasons why UX designers use Adobe Fireworks: The tool has impressive pixel accuracy, has image compression abilities (JPEG, GIF, etc.), allows users to create functional websites, and build vectors. This is a great option especially if you are already familiar with other programs in the Creative Cloud.

2. Adobe XD

With Adobe XD, you can design websites and mobile apps, as well as create prototypes, wireframes, and vector designs. Users can share interactive prototypes on multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, so it’s perfect for team collaboration.

3. Axure

Axure RP Pro is another great UX design tool — that’s also free. Axure has several capabilities including wireframing, prototyping, and documenting. It can even help you create user flows and sitemaps. Axure is perfect for creating web and desktop applications, and it gives users the ability to easily export to PDF or HTML for review.

4. Adobe Illustrator and a Free Alternative

If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to Adobe software, such as Adobe Illustrator (which is primarily used to create vector graphics), we’ve got you. Inkscape is known for doing most of what Illustrator does, but for free. This software is open source and can be used to create impressive vector graphics. The only issue you could run into is lag, as some users have reported that the program is slow. If you’re partial to Illustrator, that’s OK too.

5. Sketch

Sketch is an end-to-end software with specific features including non-destructive editing (meaning Sketch won’t change the pixels in the photo you are working with), code export, pixel precision, prototyping, vector editing, and more. With Sketch, you can reuse and update your designs easily.

6. Storyboard Software

You might be wondering why you would need to storyboard in UX design. It’s a great way to visually predict and review the way a user would interact with and experience a product in a broader context. There are several storyboard tools available, with varying levels of features and complexity.

Storyboarder is a free storyboard software option, which has basic features made for designers of all levels. This software allows users to quickly create drawings and stick figures to lay out a plot or idea.

Another storyboard software option is Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. It combines drawing, animation, camera controls, and numerous other features, all for an annual or monthly fee. It has a wider range of features for more complex storytelling and detailed prep work. Both options are great for designers looking to visually tell a story through interface design.

If you love designing, researching, working with other people in a fast-paced environment, and listening to others’ experiences, a career in UX design may be right for you. As a UX designer, you’d focus on the conceptual aspects of design and create better experiences for users.

Here are the steps to follow to become a UX designer.

1. Do your research.

This step may seem like a given, but pursuing a career path (or changing yours altogether) is a big move. Do plenty of research to ensure that you want to be a UX designer. Guides like this one will help give you an idea of what UX design entails. You can also lookup “day-in-the-life” articles, podcasts, and books to better understand how other UX designers spend their workdays.

2. Take a UX design course.

There are plenty of higher education courses available around the world, though they typically require a four-year undergraduate design curriculum as a prerequisite.

However, some programs allow for more flexibility, such as the online Quinnipiac University Graduate Program in User Experience Design. There are also UX certification programs for professionals. These vary in commitment length and level of expertise upon receipt of the certificate.

3. Apply for a UX design internship.

A UX design internship is valuable for a few reasons. First, UX design internships bridge the gap between education and real-life experience. Internships allow you to put what you’ve learned in the classroom (or online) to work while receiving helpful feedback from your peers and coworkers.

Secondly, UX design internships allow you to build a live portfolio of design work done on behalf of a real company. While demo work is valuable for demonstrating skill and process, you can report on the impact and results of the work you complete during your internship.

Lastly, UX design internships introduce valuable mentor relationships. Design mentors are critical to developing your skills, receiving constructive criticism, and expanding your network — three things that can help you land your dream UX design job.

To find a UX design internship, start with sites like LinkedIn, The Muse, Glassdoor, and AngelList, as well as simply searching on Google. You can also target the companies themselves: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Reddit, Adobe, Amazon, and Salesforce all offer UX design internship programs.

4. Build your UX design portfolio.

Once you’re ready to start applying for your dream UX job, you’ll need a stand-out resume and a flashy portfolio. Use a site like Dribble or Behance to showcase your work, or create your own website using a tool like SquareSpace.

When building your portfolio site, keep these tips in mind:

Make it visually stunning.

Presentation is everything. Your work should speak for itself … show don’t tell! Your choice in color, typography, and layout all play a factor here.

Include an “about” page.

Hiring managers and recruiters want to get to know you, how you think about design, what inspires you, and what makes you unique. Why should they hire you? What value can you add to your new potential company and team?

Have clear navigation and links throughout your portfolio site.

Can you imagine the hiring manager at your dream company having a hard time navigating the portfolio site of a UX designer? Awkward. In your navigation bar, include options such as: “portfolio,” “about,” “contact,” and “resume” to avoid any confusion.

Explain your personal UX process.

Your future employer wants to know how you think. Include information that lets the hiring manager in on your UX researching, brainstorming, wireframing, designing, and prototyping processes.

Create additional portfolios to expand your network.

Use other tools to make your work available on sites where designers and those looking to hire designers to spend their time. Behance and Dribble are great portfolio sites for people looking for inspiration, networking, and new career opportunities.

UX Design Helps You Grow Better

Whether you’re a graphic designer, blogger, developer, or someone in an entirely different field, UX design can help you and your company grow. A happy end-user is the key to success, and without well-crafted UX design, this would be impossible to achieve.

As technology becomes more ubiquitous in our lives, successful UX design will continue to create seamless transitions between individuals and their devices and apps. UX design has never been more important, making it an exciting time to join the field and consider the benefits for your own business.

 

How to Create Your First Web Form (Tutorial)

Forms are often an integral part of a buyer’s journey, and most companies already use web forms as part of their marketing strategy.

In fact, 74% of companies use web forms for lead generation, and 49.7% say their online forms are their highest converting lead generation tool.

Forms can vary greatly in purpose — you might use a form to get more sign-ups to your email newsletter, collect email addresses to send coupons and special offers, create gated content for viewers, or allow leads to sign-up for free versions of your product.

Ultimately, a form is often the fastest and most effective opportunity for you to collect leads and nurture them into sales.

But creating a form can feel like a tricky endeavor, particularly since a form’s design can have a major impact on whether a visitor fills it out, or abandons your site altogether.

Here, we’re going to dive into how to create your first web form to get you started.

How to Create a Web Form

For our purposes I’m going to show you how to create a form in HubSpot’s free form builder, but you could also use Google Forms, WordPress, HTML, or another tool of your choice.

1. To begin creating your form within your HubSpot account, go to “Marketing” > “Lead Capture” > “Forms”.

2. In the upper right, click “Create form”.

3. In the left panel, click “Regular form”. Then click “Next” in the top right.

4. Select Blank template to start with a blank form, or a pre-made template for a specific use case. Once you’ve selected your template, click “Start”.

5. Here, you have the option to drag-and-drop any elements on the left side that you’d like in your form. Generally, although not always the case, shorter forms perform better, so try to only ask for the most critical information from your form recipients.

6. Once you’ve chosen your desired form fields, click “Option” at the top middle of the screen. Here, you can decide what message you want your recipients to see when they complete the form.

 

7. Finally, click “Style & preview” at the top right of the screen to preview how your form will look on desktop, tablet, and mobile. Additionally, you can make some changes here to the style of your form — for instance, choosing a round or sharp-edged “Submit” button, or changing the colors and fonts of your form.

When you’re ready, click “Publish” at the top right of your screen.

8. Once you click “Publish”, you’ll see this pop-up. Copy and paste the code into your website to embed the form onto one of your web pages, or share the link with recipients via email.

While we created this form using HubSpot’s free online form builder, there are other form building tools at your disposal — take a look at 21 of the Best Form Builder Tools for 2019 for a complete list.

Additionally, check out Form Design Best Practices: 15 Tips to Boost Conversions and UX to ensure your form is ready for optimal conversions.

How to Develop Superfans Who Gladly Evangelize for You

Do you want to create superfans for your business? Wondering how to develop the kind of connected community that elevated your brand? To explore how to develop superfans who will gladly evangelize anything for you and your business, I interview Pat Flynn. Pat is an active keynote speaker and host of the popular Smart Passive […]

The post How to Develop Superfans Who Gladly Evangelize for You appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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The Ultimate Guide to PPC

Marketers, can we be honest with each other for a second? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you really understand the world of paid advertising?

Despite the fact that 45% of small businesses use paid ads, pay-per-click is still a concept that eludes many of us. But if half of small business are using it, we just can’t afford to ignore this channel, no matter how perplexing.

As a marketer, PPC is a skill that you should have in your toolbelt — or at least have a basic understanding of.

This guide will help you grasp pay-per-click marketing in its entirety. To start, we’ll begin with the benefits of paid advertising and then get into some key definitions that you’ll need to know.

When done right, PPC can earn you quality leads. If you can create a seamless user journey (which you’ll learn how to do later in this piece), it could mean a huge ROI for your PPC efforts.

Pay-per-click advertising is most common in search engine results pages (SERPs), like Google or Bing, but is also used on social channels (although CPM is more common). If you’re wondering where you can find pay-per-click ads, they’re the results you see before and to the right of the organic search results. For instance, check out the ad that came up in my search for “hair plugs”.

paid-ads-PPC-serps

Benefits of PPC

So, why would you pay for ads when you can reach your audience organically through great content and strategically-placed keywords (otherwise known as SEO)?

The answer is: keywords have become increasingly competitive. This makes it more difficult for a business that doesn’t have the domain authority to get them into the top rankings on a search engine or in front of their target audience on a social platform. In fact, so many businesses are using ads that organic results often don’t even start until you’re further down the page.

That doesn’t mean you should ditch all SEO efforts completely — your paid advertising should complement your SEO strategy as opposed to replace it.

“When people search for your keywords, you know their search intent and can display the most relevant ad to your audience. This means more clicks and a greater chance of conversion.” – Laura Mittelmann, Paid Acquisition at HubSpot

Paid advertising will help you rise to the top in a competitive market and be seen by potential customers who may not know that you exist. It can help you promote your next marketing initiative, improve brand awareness, or rank for difficult keyword terms. In other words, PPC is your shortcut to getting to the top within your niche. And, if done responsibly, PPC can be integral to your inbound marketing strategy.

PPC-Related Terms You Should Know

What’s a marketing channel without a few acronyms and a little jargon? If you’re going to enter the paid advertising space, there are a few terms you should know. Below, we review the main elements of a PPC campaign, ranging from broad to the more specific.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The objective of all forms of digital advertising is to rank for a target keyword, and that can be done in a number of ways. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to any digital marketing (paid or unpaid) done on a search engine, like Google, Yahoo or Bing. SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses both paid advertising and search engine optimization, that is, ranking organically for keywords. It’s important to note that not all PPC occurs on search engines — social media has PPC ads, too (think: Facebook Ads).

CPC

Cost-per-click (CPC) is the amount that an advertiser pays for each click on your ad. CPC acts as your bid in an auction that determines where your ad will be placed. As you can imagine, a higher bid equates to better ad placement. You set your CPC at the maximum price you are willing to pay per click on your ad. What you actually pay is determined by the following formula: (Competitor’s Ad Rank / Your Quality Score) + 0.01 = Actual CPC. Let’s go over the terms in this equation so you know what you’re paying for:

Ad Rank

This value determines the position of an ad on a search engine results page. It’s equal to Maximum Bid x Quality Score.

Quality Score

This is the score that search engines give to your ad based on your clickthrough rate (CTR) — measured against the average CTR of ads in that position — the relevance of your keywords, the quality of your landing page, and your past performance on the SERP.

Maximum Bid

This is the maximum you are willing to pay per click on you ad.

Here’s an image that illustrates what I mean:

cpc-calculation

 Source

You can set your CPC to manual, where you determine the maximum bid for your ads, or enhanced, which allows the search engines to adjust your bid based on your goals. One of these enhanced options involves bid strategies that automatically adjust your bids based on either clicks or conversions.

CPM (Cost per Mille)

CPM, also known as cost per thousand, is the cost per one thousand impressions. It’s most commonly used for paid social and display ads. There are other types of cost-pers… like cost-per-engagement, cost-per-acquisition (CPA), but for the sake of preserving your mental space, we’re going to stick with clicks, a.k.a. CPC.

Campaign

The first step in setting up your PPC ads is determining your ad campaign. You can think of your campaign as the key message, or theme, you want to get across with your advertisements.

Ad Group

One size doesn’t fit all. That’s why you’ll create a series of ads within your campaign based on a set of highly related keywords. You can set a CPC for each ad group that you create.

Keywords

Each ad within your ad group will target a set of relevant keywords or key terms. These keywords tell search engines which terms or search queries you want your ad to be displayed alongside in SERPs. Once you determine which keywords perform best, you can set a micro CPC just for keywords within your ads.

Ad Text

Your keywords should inform your ad text. Remember, your Quality Score is determined by how relevant your ad is, therefore, the text in your ad (and landing page for that matter) should match the keyword terms that you’re targeting.

Landing Page

A landing page is a critical piece of your paid advertising strategy. The landing page is where users will end up once they click your PPC ad. Whether it’s a dedicated webpage, your homepage, or somewhere else, make sure to follow landing page best practices to maximize conversions.

Best PPC Platforms

Now that you understand the PPC basics, I’m guessing your next question is: Where should I advertise?

There are dozens of online spaces where you can spend your coveted ad money, and the best way to vet them is by taking a close look at your potential ROI on each platform.

The most popular advertising platforms are effective because they’re easy to use, and, most importantly, highly trafficked. But for a smaller budget, you might consider a lesser-known alternative to these key players. Some additional things to consider when choosing a platform are the availability of keyword terms, where your target audience spends their time, and your advertising budget.

Here a non-exhaustive list of some of the top PPC platforms.

Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords)

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 5.55.43 PM-1

How many times a day do you hear the phrase “Let me Google that”? Probably more than you can count … hence why Google Ads is the king of paid advertising. The search engine receives 3.5 billion queries per day, giving you plenty of opportunities to target keywords that will get your intended audience to click. The downside is that keywords are highly competitive on this platform, meaning a greater ad spend.

If you’re planning to use this popular platform, start with our free Google Ads PPC Kit.

Bing Ads

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 6.00.43 PM-1

When it comes to advertising platforms, Bing comes in just after (albeit far behind) Google Ads with approximately 12 million queries per day. Yahoo! and Bing combined advertising forces, which expanded their audience reach. The perks of using Bing Ads over Google Ads is a slightly lower CPC at the expense of a larger audience, of course.

Facebook Ads

nordstorm-perfume-paid-facebook-adFacebook Ads blend in with other posts on the platform.

Facebook Ads is a popular and effective platform for paid ads (more commonly used as CPM than CPC), mainly due to its specific targeting options. Facebook allows you to target users based on interests, demographics, location, and behaviors. Also, Facebook allows for native ads, which means ads are introduced and blend into the social feed. Not to mention, you can use Facebook Ads to advertise on Instagram as well.

AdRoll

chipotle-paid-retargeting-adroll-add-cookie-recipeChipotle retargeting me as I search for dessert recipes.

AdRoll is a retargeting platform that advertises to people who have already visited your website. For instance, say someone read your article on cheese making. You can retarget them on other sites that they visit with display ads that advertise your online cooking classes. While retargeting is possible with Google Ads, the benefit of using AdRoll is that it can display ads on Google and social media sites, which gives you more opportunities to capture clicks or impressions, depending on your goal.

RevContent

RevContent focuses specifically on promoting content through PPC. It has the same impact as a guest post, where your content is displayed on an external site, except it’s in the form of an ad. You still bid on keywords and your advertisement is displayed next to content that is relevant to those keywords. With this platform, you’ll reap the benefits of a low CPC and highly engaged traffic.

How to Get Started with PPC Advertising

Now that you understand the benefits of PPC, have your key terms, and know what platforms you can advertise on, let’s dive in to crafting a quality PPC campaign. You don’t need to tackle these items step-by-step, but you will need to work through each of them to ensure that you create an effective campaign.

Set Parameters

I know I wrote that you don’t need to do these things in order, but you should do this step first. Without parameters, you risk your ad being untargeted and ineffective. You want to put your ad campaigns into the context of your ultimate business goals. Consider how your paid campaigns will contribute to those goals. Then, think about what you want to accomplish with your ads — whether that be visits, sales, brand awareness, or other — and how much you’re willing to spend to accomplish that goal.

Your ads should encompass a few things:

  • Who you want to target
  • Theme of your campaign
  • How you will measure success
  • Type of campaign you will run

Create Your Goals and Goal Metrics

Your campaign goals will give you something to show for your ad spend as long as you determine how you will measure those goals. Your goal metrics should not be confused with your campaign metrics, which we’ll discuss below.

Let’s touch on some common PPC goals and how to measure them.

Brand awareness is how familiar your target audience is with your company. It might be a good idea to look into display ads for this goal so you can supplement your copy with engaging imagery. You can measure brand awareness through social engagement, surveys, and direct traffic.

Lead generation is the direct result of having a relevant and engaging landing page to follow your paid ad. Since you will create a separate landing page for each ad group, you should be able to easily track lead conversions either in the Google Ads interface via a tracking pixel, or through UTM parameters, if you’re using a tool like HubSpot.

Offer promotion is great if you’re running a limited time offer, product or service discount, or contest. You should create a dedicated sign-up page or a unique discount code so you know which users came from your ad.

Sales can be measured by how much of your product or service is sold based on your paid ads. You should be able to track this through a quality a CMS software or attribution reporting.

Site traffic is a great goal if you have high quality content throughout your website. If you’re going to spend money getting people to visit your site, you want to have some level of confidence that you can keep them there and eventually convert them into leads.

Choose Your Campaign Type

You don’t only need to know where you’ll advertise but also how. There are many different types of paid advertising campaigns, and the one that you choose depends on where you can reach your audience. That isn’t to say that you can’t advertise through various means; you can also try a combination of campaign types as long as you’re consistently testing and revising.

Search Ads are the most common type of PPC and refer to the text ads that show up on search engine results pages.

Display Ads allow you to place ads (usually image-based) on external websites, including social. There are several ways to buy display ads, including Google Display Network (GDN) and other ad networks.

Learn how to integrate Display Ads into your inbound marketing plan.

Social refers to any ads that you see on social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. You can pay to show up in your target audience’s social feed or somewhere else within their profile, depending on the platform.

Remarketing can use either cookies or a list of contacts that you upload to target people who have previously engaged with your company through some action. That action could be filling out a form, reading a blog, or simply visiting a page on your website.

Google Shopping is most effective for ecommerce sites. Your ad — including image, price, and a short product description — will show on a carousel on a search page based on your target keywords.

Perform Keyword Research

Each ad group you create needs to be assigned a set of keywords to target — that’s how search engines know when and where to display your ad. The general rule of thumb is to select between one to five keywords per ad group, and those keywords should be extremely relevant — your Quality Score depends on it.

Select keywords that are closely aligned with the specific theme of your ad group. If you find keywords you want to target that fall outside of one theme, you should create a separate ad group for them.

It’s important to note that you’re not stuck with the keywords you start with. In fact, you should closely monitor your keyword list throughout your campaign — eliminating those that don’t bring in the types visitors that you’re looking for and increasing your bids on those that do. Do your best to select the most relevant keywords, but don’t feel pressured to get it 100% right the first time around.

If you’re new to keyword research, check out this handy guide.

Set Up Google Analytics and Tracking

Google Analytics is free to use so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t install it on your website. The tool provides you with insights into how your website is performing, how users are interacting with your pages, and what content is attractive to visitors. The information you can gather from Google Analytics can be used for PPC and beyond.

Best Practices for a Quality PPC Strategy

You didn’t think we’d let you spend your hard-earned money on advertisements without providing some best practices to follow, did you? Of course not. We want to make sure you succeed with your next PPC campaign. So, let’s get into some PPC strategy that will help you maximize your efforts and your budget.

As a note, we’re going to dive specifically into paid search ads (those little guys you see in search engines) here.

PPC Ad Copy

Bidding on targeted keywords will get your ad in front of the right people; good ad copy will get those people to click on your ad. Like your keywords, your ad needs to solve for intent of the searcher — you need to give the searcher exactly what they’re looking for and make sure that is clear through the words you use.

Search ads are comprised of a headline, a URL, and a short description, and each of these have limited character requirements to follow. To make the most of this space, make sure your ad copy does the following:

  • Speak directly to your target persona
  • Include the main keyword that you’re bidding on
  • Provide an actionable CTA so the searcher knows what to do next
  • Make the offer appealing
  • Use language that matches your landing page copy
  • Perform A/B Split tests with your copy

Landing Page Best Practices

Arguably the most important element of PPC (after your ad copy) is the page that you send leads to after they click on your ad. This page needs to be highly targeted, relevant to your ad, deliver what was promised, and present a seamless experience. Why? Because the point of your landing page is to convert your new visitor into a lead or customer. Not only that, but a high-converting landing page will improve your Quality Score, leading to better ad placements. There’s nothing that will diminish PPC profits like a poorly crafted landing page.

What should a PPC landing page include to increase conversions? Glad you asked …

  • Strong headline that mirrors your search ad
  • Clean design and layout
  • Responsive form that is easy to use with a stand-out CTA button
  • Copy that is very specific and relevant to your target keywords
  • Presents the offer that was promised in your ad
  • A/B tested

A/B Testing Your PPC Ads

Rarely will you as a marketer throw something out to your audience that works without testing. PPC campaigns are no different. A/B testing is as critical to your paid ad campaign as is every other element. The goal of testing your ad is to increase both your clickthrough rate and your conversion rate.

The good news is that ads are comprised of just four parts that you’ll need to test: headline, description, landing page, and target keywords. Small tweaks to just one of these elements can significantly alter your results, so you want to make changes one at a time so you can keep track of where improvements come from.

Since there are many variations that you could test one at a time, it’s a good idea to list out all the potential tests you can run and prioritize them by greatest impact. Finally, you should allow your ads to run long enough to gather the data you need and test them early enough so you don’t waste budget on a poor-performing ad.

Maximizing Your ROI

At a high level, maximizing ROI on your ad campaigns means considering customer lifetime value and customer acquisition costs, which will help you determine how much is worth spending on a new lead and how much of that spend can come from paid advertising.

To get more granular, we need to talk inputs and outputs, that is 1) lowering your input (cost per lead [CPL]) and 2) increasing your return (revenue). There are a few factors to keep an eye on that will affect both, so let’s break it down.

Ways to Decrease Inputs

  • Determine an ad budget before you get started.
  • Create more relevant ads. The more relevant, the lower your CPC.
  • Improve your Quality Score. The higher your QS, the less search engines will charge your for clicks.

Ways to Increase Revenue

  • Follow landing page best practices to increase conversion rates.
  • Go after quality leads by being specific with your ad. The more quality your leads, the more likely they will convert and eventually become customers.

Additional PPC Tips and Tricks

There are a few other things you can do to maximize the ROI of your paid ads, whether it’s time spent, budget, clicks, or conversions.

Audiences

Google allows you to tailor your audience so you save marketing dollars and get in front of the right people. You can upload a customer list so that you don’t waste money on people who have already bought from you. Google also has options for prospecting audiences. For instance, In-Market Audiences employs user behavior tracking to put you in front of prospects who are in the market for a product or service like yours. You can also increase your bid for more relevant subgroups within your target audience — a practice called layering audiences. For example, HubSpot may layer on people who are in the market for CRM software and add a 30% bid adjustment because those people may be more likely to convert.

Bid Adjustments

Bid adjustments allow you to increase or decrease your bids based on performance. You can even make these adjustments based on different categories, like device, demographics, language, and more. For example, if a keyword isn’t performing as well on mobile as on desktop, you can add a negative bid adjustment so that when someone searches your keyword on mobile, you’ll bid X% lower than your normal bid.

Custom Ad Scheduling

You can set up ad scheduling in Google Ads to display your ad only during specific days and times. This can cut down on ad spend and improve relevance for your target audience.

Sitelink Extensions

Sitelink extensions allow you to supplement your ad with additional information. For instance, if you’re running an ad for a seasonal promotion at a local store, you can add a sitelink extension to display your store hours and location. These extensions take up more real estate on SERPs and, therefore, stand out. Not only that, but they play a role in improving your Ad Rank.

Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking monitors how your landing page is performing via a tracking code that you place on the page where people land after completing your form (usually a “Thank You” page). By enabling this feature, you’ll be better equipped to make adjustments that can improve your conversions.

Keyword Monitoring

Don’t let too much time pass before you check how your keywords are performing. You can place higher bids on the keywords that are creating the best results for your campaign, and “defund” or eliminate others.

Match Types

Match Types in Google Ads allows you to choose how closely related you want your ad group to be associated with a search team. There are four match types: broad, modified broad, phrase and exact match. Google will display your ad in results according to your selection. For example, if your keyword phrase is “how to catch geese” and you select “broad match,” then Google will display your ad for queries that include any word in your key phrase in any order … including “geese catch” and “geese catch how”.

Negatives Keywords

A negative keyword list tells search engines what you don’t want to rank for, which is equally as important as what you do. You might know some of these upfront, but likely you’ll determine these keywords by what isn’t performing so well within your campaign.

Social Media Ads

Although CPM is more common on social platforms, social media sites do offer PPC that works similarly to search engine ads in that you set a budget and bid on ad placements. The difference is social media ads can show up directly in your news feed on most platforms, decreasing the effectiveness of ad blockers. Social platforms, like Facebook, let you set targeted demographics as well as target people based on interests. While paid search is more keyword-focused, paid social is broadens into a demographic focus, lending to more ways to target your persona.

Social media has two paid ad functions that are critical to ad success — retargeting and Lookalike Audiences. Retargeting is remarketing to people based on site visits or manually uploaded contact lists. Lookalike Audiences reviews the people on your marketing list and creates an audience that parallels your list, which expands your potential target. Paid social also allows for a wider variety of ad types, like images, videos, text, and more.

PPC Management and Tracking

Paid advertising is not “set it and forget it.” You need to manage and constantly monitor your ads to ensure that you’re reaching optimal results. Management, analysis, and tracking is crucial to a PPC campaign, not only because they provide you with useful insights but also because they help you create a more effective campaign.

What is PPC Management?

PPC management covers a wide range of techniques, including creating and adjusting goals, split testing, introducing new keywords, optimizing conversion paths, and shifting plans to reach goals.

Managing your PPC means looking at both strategy and spend. On one hand, it means iterating on your plan to optimize keyword effectiveness. On the other hand, it means thinking about how to allocate resources to certain keywords as well as how to adjust those resources to maximize ROI.

A good management strategy also pays attention to providers — like search engines, social platforms, and ad networks — to monitor changes and updates that could affect paid campaigns.

Overall, PPC management is a hefty undertaking, which is why investing in solid PPC management tools could be a great idea.

Use our PPC management tool to monitor all of your paid campaigns.

PPC Tools and Software

With all of the variables that you need to track, PPC management tools should make things easier. You can opt to monitor your ads within platform, but if you’re looking for additional assistance and organization, a robust, easy-to-read spreadsheet or sophisticated software that gives you insight into your ad performance is key.

If you plan to go the software route, there are some features that you absolutely want to look for: multi-user support, cross-platform management, A/B testing, scheduling, reporting, and ad grading.

Here’s a list of some popular, highly-rated PPC software and resources.

  • WordStream automates the tedious parts of setting up and managing your PPC campaign.
  • HubSpot offers a robust template to help you monitor and manage the moving parts of your campaign, making it easy to keep track of your ad groups, keywords, and A/B tests.
  • NinjaCat lets you combine all of your analytics from multiple platforms into one report so you can track your entire campaign in one location.
  • Optmyzr has end-to-end PPC support, from creation to reporting … and they offer a free trial of their software.
  • SEMRush can help you manage the most important part of your PPC campaign — keywords. You can find relevant keywords, manage and optimize your keyword lists, and create negative lists.

PPC Metrics to Track

Metrics are everything (but you already knew that). Here are some key metrics to track within your PPC campaign.

Clicks refers to the total number of clicks you receive on an ad. This metric is affected by your keyword selection and the relevance of your ad copy.

Cost per click (CPC) measures the price you pay for each click on your ad.

Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the the percentage of ad views that result in clicks. This metric determines how much you pay (CPC). CTR benchmarks vary by industry.

Impressions is the number of times an ad is viewed. Cost per mille (CPM) is determined for every thousand impressions. Impressions are most relevant for brand awareness campaigns.

Ad spend is the amount you are spending on your ads. You can optimize this by improving your Quality Score.

Return on ad spend (ROAS) is the ROI of your ad campaign. This metric calculates the revenue received for every dollar spent on ads.

Conversion rate refers to the percentage of people that complete the call-to-action on your landing page and become a lead or customer.

Cost per conversion refers to the cost to generate a lead. This is calculated as the total cost of an ad divided by the number of conversions.

Quality Score (QS) determines ad positioning, so it’s an important metric to keep an eye on.

By paying close attention to each of these metrics, you can increase the ROI of your paid campaign and spend less for better results.

Go Paid!

Paid advertising is an effective tool that should be a part of your inbound marketing strategy no matter how long you’ve been in business. PPC just might be the boost you need to get an edge on your competition — or at least ahead of them in the SERPs.

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Trends in 2019

Marketing moves at the speed of light … er, at least it feels that way when you’re brainstorming a new campaign or strategy, and all of a sudden, a new statistic or technology release changes everything.

On a yearly, quarterly, and even monthly basis, new trends and techniques pop up and transform the way we attract, connect with, and market to our audiences.

But keeping up with these changes isn’t always enough. To succeed in the fast-paced, marketing world, you have to stay ahead of the game. That’s why we created this guide — influenced by some of our very own HubSpot experts — so you can bookmark and return to some of the most important marketing trends of 2019, time and time again.

Why use marketing trends?

If a certain marketing strategy or approach has consistently worked for your business, why change it?

Well, just because something works now doesn’t mean it’ll work again in the future. You have to be one step ahead, or at least keep up with the emerging trends, that will impact your marketing success the next time around. So, other than keeping up with developments in the industry, why should your business care about marketing trends?

Marketing trends allow you to …

  • Keep up with the way your consumers shop and research your products and services (and those of your competitors’)
  • Stay up to date with changes in consumer behavior and priorities
  • Ensure you’re ahead of the curve in terms of knowing who your target audience is and what they need from your business
  • Listen and respond to changes in the market to help you save money
  • Stay relevant in your target marketplace and among your competitors (now and in the long run)

As we’ve said, many things change in the marketing world — and they do so frequently. That’s why we’ve listed some of the most popular types of marketing trends — and an example or two of each — to help you adapt to these developments as needed and to equip your business with the knowledge necessary for you to succeed.

1. General Marketing Trends

General marketing trends can be applied to virtually any type of company, no matter the size or industry. These trends will help you effectively reach your target audience and convert more prospects through your business’s marketing content.

Two common trends today include inbound marketing and the process of using your customers as marketers (and promoters).

Inbound Marketing Trend

As disruptive, outbound marketing tactics that interrupt audience members from whatever it is they’re doing become less effective in reaching prospects and leads, inbound marketing has come to the forefront of effective tactics.

The process of inbound marketing requires you to product quality, valuable content tailored towards your target audience and buyer personas and their needs.

Sign up for a free inbound marketing course to help you begin organically reaching more audience members.

Customer Marketing Trend

The marketing funnel is old news. Today, the flywheel — and a subsequent focus on service — have replaced the one-way direction of the funnel.

marketing-flywheel-vs-funnelIn the world of the marketing funnel, customers were an afterthought. Once they became a paying customer, businesses considered them obsolete — until, of course, it was time re-sign that contract.

The flywheel, on the other hand, places the customer in the center. Since word-of-mouth marketing is the single most powerful marketing tactic, it’s wise to not only serve your customers but also equip them to become advocates for and promoters of your brand. The flywheel illustrates this process: excellent service as its own marketing strategy.

By keeping the flywheel at the center of your marketing efforts, placing a heavy emphasis on customer service and training to equip your customer service team with the tools to handle requests and issues, you’ll delight and empower your customers. This will lead to customers who can market for you — they can promote and advocate for your business via their networks both online and in-person.

Featured Resource

2. Content Marketing Trends

All types of business in a variety of industries are focusing on content marketing — publishing blogs, investing in resources to produce unique content, and paying for content-related ads.

So, why should you also care about the current content marketing trends? Because 47% of buyers view three to five pieces of content prior to engaging with a sales rep, and 70% of people say they’d rather learn about new products through content over traditional advertising.

To ensure your content marketing efforts are as effective and accessible as possible, pay attention to the type of content that resonates most with your buyer personas, target audience, and current customers.

Featured Resources

Video Content Marketing Trend

Video marketing isn’t a new idea, but its effectiveness and popularity have definitely skyrocketed in recent years. 83% of marketers now say that video gives them a good ROI and more than 50% of consumers say they want to see video content more than any other type of content from brands.

Alicia Collins and Megan Conley, video producers and editors at HubSpot, weigh in: “This [consumer behavior] also indicates that video can be used throughout all parts of the flywheel — not just as an asset for marketing. When incorporating video, businesses have historically used it as a means of introducing their brand and product or service offerings. But that’s not the case anymore. Video can be a valuable addition to both sales and customer service efforts.”

In the past, video was limited due to costly resources and production. Today, it’s much more accessible. With a lower cost barrier, video has become less intimidating to incorporate into your marketing efforts. You don’t have to hire a production team or marketing agency; all you need is a smartphone, such as an iPhone, and an editing software, such as Adobe Premiere Pro.

Featured Resources

Native Advertising Content Marketing Trend

When your brand pays to feature content on a third-party website, you’re investing in native advertising. Unlike traditional advertising, which is designed to interrupt and stand out, native advertising is designed to blend in and promote your brand to a new audience who might otherwise never learn about you.

Because native ads don’t “feel” like traditional ads, consumers are more likely to consume them — in fact, consumers view native ads over 50% more than banner ads. Examples of native advertising can be found on social media, through search engine results, content recommendation platforms (those links to various other content you can click at the bottom of the page to read more on or related to the topic), or in campaigns.

For example, Buzzfeed is a popular publication and blog that routinely partners with brands for native advertising. Google Home published content on back-to-school recipes and the only mention of the brand is in the byline. Google Home is advertising its product by incorporating their brand in otherwise native content.

example-of-native-advertising

Source

To incorporate native advertising in your marketing efforts, look for publications relevant to your brand. Remember to sound natural and avoid coming off as pushy or blatantly promotional.

3. Social Media Marketing Trends

In the U.S. alone, 77% of people have some type of social media account — and globally, there are over 3.7 billion social media users. This is why social media marketing is a popular trend that’s become a part of almost every business’s greater marketing strategy. Social media marketing allows you to authentically connect with your audience on a personal level, humanizing your brand.

Featured Resources

Ephemeral vs. Permanent Social Media Marketing Trend

Not all social media is created equal. Different types of content do better on various platforms. This includes ephemeral (fleeting) and permanent (long-lasting) social media content.

Ephemeral Social Media Marketing

Today, Instagram and Facebook Stories specifically make the creation of ephemeral content simple — Instagram and Facebook Stories are photos and videos that live for 24-hours before disappearing “forever”. (Well, not really … there’s an Archive feature where all your Stories reside after they expire. But you get the gist.)

Kelly Hendrickson, a social media marketer at HubSpot, says: “Ephemeral content versus permanent content is often dictated by the social platform, as well as by the audience’s behavior on the platform.”

Take Instagram, for example:

[Instagram] Stories are soaring in popularity, and the user behavior on Stories leans toward playful, low-fi, quick content with heavy use of features within the UX (gifs, boomerangs, polls, etc). Their fleeting design isn’t the only differentiating factor. Instagram Stories can be heavily edited, too, with filters, GIFs, colored text, and more. Because of these fun additions, brands have added a brand new strategy for producing and publishing ephemeral content that varies from their other social media content.”

Permanent Social Media Content

Permanent content is a little different:

“Instagram can organically serve up a wall post across a wide span of time, so there’s less of an opportunity for brands to be timely (who wants to see New Year’s post when they’ve already given up on their resolutions?!). Since Instagram users are more active on weekdays, during the standard workday, it seems users are looking for a break! It’s critical to use your brand voice and point-of-view to find how you can serve your audience during that break. Should your presence be inspirational? Beautiful? Informative? Playful? Trendy? They all have a place on Instagram’s permanent wall, it just needs to match your brand’s message.”

By combining ephemeral and permanent social media content on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook that offer the ability to create both, you allow your business to showcase more of your brand’s personality and flair.

Kelly says, “The combo of a running clock and a lively audience is a huge opportunity for brands to lean into quick, in-the-moment content that showcases the more light-hearted elements of their brand. Succinctness and clarity are key in content.”

Featured Resource

Micro-Influencer Social Media Marketing Trend

Influencer marketing plays a major role in all types of modern marketing (ads, videos, social media, blogs). But businesses are no longer limited to major celebrities and names that everyone knows when deciding to work with an influencer.

In fact, micro-influencers have found their niche in the social media world, too — and it’s a big role they’ve started to play in converting leads, connecting with audience members, and boosting brand awareness.

Micro-influencers are social media promoters with a smaller, niche following (typically, thousands to tens-of-thousands of followers). Although these folks may have fewer followers, their posts often pack more punch due to their higher level of engagement.

Additionally, since they’re considered “average” and “everyday” people (unlike hard-to-reach celebrities), audience members view micro-influencers more like friends and family and, therefore, are more likely to trust their opinions and recommendations.

Rosie, known as The Londoner, is a popular travel and lifestyle influencer on Instagram. She has over 330k loyal followers who interact and engage with her posts. The below image of a post on profile shows that with almost 36,000 likes, Rosie is garnering almost 11% engagement.

social-media-marketing-trend-micro-influencers

Source

Micro-influencers are the future of influencer marketing. Although it may be tempting to only look at the number of followers a user has to determine their influence, remember true influence lives in engagement rates (clicks, subscribes, and purchases). They also drive social buzz through the creation and posting of personal content and are much more cost-effective for your business.

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4. Search Engine Optimization Marketing Trends

61% of marketers say improving search engine optimization (SEO) to grow their organic presence online is their top inbound marketing priority.

Are you one of these marketers? If so, have you figured out how exactly you plan to improve your SEO and organic presence? When you optimize for specific types of consumer behavior, you’ll help your business become more discoverable online.

Download a free SEO Starter Kit to get your website and content ranking in search in 2019.

Voice Search Marketing Trend

It’s probably safe to assume there’s a large chance you’ve used Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and/ or Google Assistant in the last month or so. Am I right?

That’s because digital and voice-based assistants have taken over the world … or, at least how we search for and consume information. Lately, digital assistants have accounted for a greater number of search queries than ever.

Not only do they answer very short informational queries, such as “Who is the actor in Mission: Impossible?” and “What’s the weather in Boston today?”, but they’ve also started to process more local, customized searches. These are typically like, “Where’s a nearby coffee shop I can work from today?”, “How late is it open?”, and “Do they serve iced coffee?”

Because of this emerging behavior, businesses need to respond and change the way they frame information. Instead of catering to Google’s manual search algorithm, optimize your content by framing it around questions.

Aja Frost, an SEO strategist at HubSpot, says: “Businesses should look at a topic and say, ‘What questions could users ask about this?’ Then, they should plan sub-topics accordingly and look for opportunities to insert questions as headers. This will allow voice assistants to easily grab questions and recognize content as solutions.”

Aja also encourages businesses to look for featured snippet opportunities, which are the information previews Google provides when users search for definitions or questions. Voice assistants typically pull responses directly from these boxes.

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Mobile-First Indexing Marketing Trend

48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine, and the first position on Google search results on mobile has a 31.35% click-through rate.

It goes without saying that mobile usage is skyrocketing, especially for search queries and research. Due to this, businesses should ensure their website is discoverable and readable via mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. Website speed is also becoming important as Google prioritizes better performing websites in their search engine results pages (SERPs).

Become familiar with how to design and optimize your website for mobile use. This typically requires a responsive design — meaning your website will “respond” and change its design and layout as users access it on their desktop versus their smartphone.

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5. Technology Marketing Trends

Similar to marketing, technology is also ever-changing — and it’s happening equally as fast (if not faster). There are a number of ways to use technology to your advantage when it comes to your marketing, especially since so many new opportunities are emerging every day.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Marketing Trend

In general terms, artificial intelligence refers to a subset of computer science that teaches machines to do things that would require intelligence if done by a human. Think of tasks like learning, seeing, talking, socializing, reasoning, or problem-solving. When completed by computers, they’re considered AI.

AI has completely infiltrated our daily lives and tasks. When Spotify recommends a song, Facebook recognizes and tags a person, or you text a friend using Siri, you’re tapping into AI. As we utilize AI more and more (especially as consumers), marketers and businesses will need to respond.

The point of AI isn’t to replace humans or the need for a human touch. It’s to improve and expand our ability to connect with our audience and help them solve their problems quicker and more thoroughly.

In fact, authenticity in marketing is more important than ever to consumers. AI is also incredibly helpful when collecting and analyzing data and making data-driven decisions. So, research ways you can incorporate AI into your business’s marketing strategies to better serve your consumers and to make your life simpler.

Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) Marketing Trend

Virtual reality is viewing a computer-generated, lifelike scenario. Augmented reality is viewing the real world augmented with visual, haptic, olfactory or visual additions. VR and AR offer different experiences, but both are making waves in the marketing world today.

They’re affecting your lives, too. Ever watched a 360° video on Facebook? That’s VR. What about IKEA’s IKEA PLACE app which helps you visualize virtual furniture in your very real room? That’s AR.

VR and AR are used to supplement and improve customer experiences online and at events. Generally speaking, this is a trend marketers have been slower to adopt due to pricey equipment and bulky headsets. But, as VR glasses and AR apps become more accessible, businesses can expect to add this technology to their marketing strategy.

Chatbot Marketing Trend

Did you know that more than half of consumers expect a response within 10 minutes to any marketing, sales, or customer service inquiry? How can this be humanly possible?

It’s not … for humans, anyway. Enter: Chatbots.

Bots are powered by a computer program which automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface. Bots are made possible by artificial intelligence which helps it understand complex requests, personalize responses, and improve interactions over time.

Bots provide quick, easy solutions to problems of all levels of complexity. No longer is the need for live chat or a literal one-to-one digital conversation. Bots provide the perception and dedication of a 1:1 service experience while working with hundreds of customers — something that no customer service representative or team would ever be able to do.

To the consumers who hate repeating themselves to multiple sales or service representatives (33%, to be exact), listen up — chatbots are and will continue making your lives much easier. If used correctly, they manage conversations at scale and aggregate data from multiple sources of data, from calendars to knowledge bases to blog posts and videos.

Jon Dick, VP of Marketing at HubSpot, says: “It’s on you to make things as easy as possible. Your buyers want to use live chat? You should give it to them. They’ve had the same problem three times in the last month? You should already know, and have a plan to fix it.”

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6. Privacy Marketing Trends

In the marketing world, data is highly valuable … and not just valuable to you, as a marketer or business owner. Whether it’s an email address, credit card information, or smartphone location, consumers also view their data as precious and privileged — and it’s your responsibility to take care of it.

General Data Protection Regulation Marketing Trend

Whether a software company, bank, government agency, or lemonade stand, every business operates using data. It’s the lifeblood of all things marketing, sales, service, and more.

And hackers know it. When data breaches happen, precious information is siphoned into the wrong hands, leading to untrustworthy businesses and exploited consumers.

That’s why the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted — it’s an effort by the EU to give greater control to consumers over their data. Under the GDPR, organizations must ensure that their data is collected legally and safely and that those who collect and manage said data will protect it and respect consumers’ rights.

Following the GDPR guidelines might seem like a burden, but being fined for non-compliance will feel much heavier; fines range from 10 million euros to 4% of a company’s annual global revenue.

Is this a risk you want to take?

Probably not — so, do your research. Learn about GDPR and peruse our GDPR checklist to ensure your business is compliant.

Use Marketing Trends to Grow Better

You’re up to speed … for now. If your current campaigns and advertising don’t align with these trends, don’t fret. Slowly apply these changes to your marketing efforts and ensure all of your activities are compliant and legal.

As long as you’re keeping a thumb on the pulse of current marketing trends — and always remain open to change — your business won’t fall behind.

Cómo crear un Logo: 6 Herramientas y Tipos de Logos

¿Quieres saber cómo crear un logo para tu marca, cuál es el mejor creador de logos y qué 3 tipos de logos puedes utilizar como inspiración?

Para gestionar cualquier tipo de negocio deberás pensar, entre otras cosas, en cómo presentar tu marca. Y uno de los factores determinantes para que te conozcan (y re-conozcan) es tu logotipo.

En este post te voy a explicar qué factores debes tener en cuenta para crear un logotipo efectivo -y sus variantes- y qué herramientas puedes utilizar para crear un logotipo desde cero sin tener que invertir grandes sumas de dinero.

 

Beneficios de un Buen Logotipo

Antes de empezar, déjame que te explique cuáles son, en mi opinión, los beneficios de un buen logo y sus variantes:

  1. Si utilizas un emblema pequeño o elementos de diseños diferentes para crear un favicon, tu sitio web destacará en las páginas de resultados de búsqueda, en las pestañas de los navegadores y en el historial de navegación (mira por ejemplo el favicon de Socialancer)
  2. favicon socialancerLos banners y todo tipo de publicidad visual a menudo requieren la presencia de una marca atractiva y fácil de recordar.
  3. La imagen de marca hará que tu sitio web mantenga una coherencia visual, y eso y te permitirá organizarlo todo con un mismo estilo: desde la página de inicio hasta los emails promocionales o tus publicaciones en redes sociales

Lo inspira una imagen de marca coherente, que es el primer paso para conseguir uno de los valores más preciados en Internet: la confianza del usuario.

 

Los 5 Principios de un Buen Logotipo

Crear un logotipo cualquiera puede ser bastante sencillo: tomas una imagen o una plantilla tomada de Internet, pones cuatro textos y listo.

Lamentablemente, crear solo un logotipo no es suficiente. Necesitas crear un logotipo realmente bueno, ya que los logotipos poco atractivos “asustan” a los clientes. Invertir tiempo y dinero en el desarrollo del logotipo para obtener algo que vaya en tu contra no tiene mucho sentido, la verdad…

Cuando tengas que crear una marca correcta debes centrarte en estos 5 Principios Básicos:

  1. Unicidad
  2. Simplicidad
  3. Relación con tu negocio
  4. Flexibilidad
  5. Originalidad

 

Los 3 Tipos de Logos para tu Marca

Está claro que tu logotipo es un producto único de tu imaginación. Pero, afortunadamente, en el proceso de creación de un estilo corporativo creativo, existe una gran variedad de opciones por las que optar, y las tendencias modernas nos ofrecen una selección de miles de diseños interesantes.

Veamos los principales tipos de logotipos:

 

#1. Logotipos Simbólicos

Hablando metafóricamente, una marca simbólica es como un espectáculo de un artista. Este tipo de diseño, en el 6% de los casos, ha encontrado su reconocimiento en los logotipos de Apple, Android, Twitter… Si sientes que tienes el potencial de crear un símbolo que pueda hablar sin palabras (un nombre o un eslogan), intenta convertir esta idea en una realidad.

 

logotipos marcas logaster
Fuente – Authentige

 

#2. Logotipos de Texto

¿Qué tienen en común los logotipos utilizados por Facebook, Samsung y Canon? Al principio puede parecer que no tienen logotipo, pero su nombre en sí ya es un logotipo. Por lo tanto, al elegir esta opción, debes prestar atención a la claridad y el atractivo del nombre de tu negocio. Si no requiere caracteres y dibujos adicionales, siéntete libre de unirte al 37% de los autores que también han elegido este tipo.

logaster logotipos marcas texto
Fuente – Dezigns4you

 

 

#3. Logotipos Combinados

Los logotipos combinados se usan en el 57% de los casos. Son los más informativos y más populares. Aquí puedes usar tanto un símbolo como un nombre, e incluso agregar un eslogan. En resumen, el número de ideas que puedes implementar es bastante amplio, lo importante es no exagerar y terminar con algo ridículo. Para evitar tales errores, te sugerimos que mires en detalle los logotipos de compañías famosas como Nestlé, Puma o Mastercard.

logaster logotipos combinados
Fuente: LukeMarriottBlog

 

El Contenido de tu Logotipo: el Rey

Ahora que conoces los principales tipos de diseños de logotipos, pasemos al contenido.

El diseño adecuado y los elementos de la marca seleccionados afectan su calidad y atractivo. Pero ¿qué aspectos hay que tener en cuenta? Esta pregunta requiere un análisis de tu actividad. Preguntas como estas te darán una idea clara de cómo tienes que empezar a evaluar tu logotipo:

  • ¿Cuál es la idea de tu negocio?
  • ¿Qué te hace diferente de los competidores?
  • ¿A qué público están dirigidos principalmente tu tienda online, tu blog o tu página web?
  • ¿Qué es exactamente lo que une a las personas en tu sitio web?

Si puedes dar una respuesta clara al menos a una de estas preguntas, recuérdala y ten en cuenta esta característica al crear el logotipo.

Aquí te damos algunos consejos más:

  • Estudia a tus competidores
  • Inspírate en cosas que admiras
  • Haz múltiples borradores de tu futuro logo
  • Pide a tus amigos/equipo/audiencia que den su opinión
  • No tengas miedo de experimentar

 

6 Herramientas y Métodos para crear un Logotipo

Por suerte, hoy en día existen muchas herramientas inteligentes que pueden ayudarte a crear un buen logotipo y construir tu marca desde cero. Puedes utilizar los servicios de un diseñador, programas de diseño gráfico, servicios en línea, etc.

Pero ¿qué método escoger? Echemos un vistazo a las ventajas y desventajas de cada uno.

Todos los métodos que te voy a mostrar tienen toda una serie de ventajas y desventajas. Voy a detallártelas a continuación para que puedas escoger el que mejor se adapte a tus necesidades.

 

Métodos gratuitos para crear un logo

 

#1. Dibuja el logotipo tú mismo

Si tienes habilidades de diseño, sin duda esta puede ser una buena forma de crear un logo.

Pero si no sabes de diseño puede resultar la opción más complicada -y la más cara a largo plazo, tanto por el tiempo invertido como por la efectividad del logo.

Ventajas:

– Tú mismo gestionas todo el proceso creativo
– Puedes editar tus bocetos en cualquier momento
– Es gratis si el editor con el que trabajas ofrece dichas condiciones

Desventajas:

– Necesitas tener habilidades de dibujo y experiencia con programas de diseño
– Tendrás que diseñar todos tus productos de marca por separado
– Lleva mucho tiempo
– Tendrás que registrar una marca por tu cuenta

 

logaster logo design fx
Fuente – Logodesignfx

 

#2. Contrata a un diseñador principiante

Contratar a principiantes es una opción para empezar, pero no necesariamente la más adecuada para un negocio que ya está en funcionamiento.

Ventajas:

– Un diseñador principiante puede crear tu logotipo a cambio de publicidad gratuita por tu parte para llenar su cartera de clientes
– No tienes que hacer nada tú mismo

Desventajas:

– Los diseñadores dispuestos a trabajar gratis son difíciles de encontrar
– Debes ofrecer una explicación muy clara sobre el tipo de logotipo que deseas obtener
– La falta de experiencia puede afectar la calidad del logotipo y hacerte perder el tiempo
– Deberás diseñar todos tus productos de marca por separado
– Lo más probable es que tengas que mejorar el logotipo más adelante

 

#3. Creador de logos online Logaster

Logaster es una plataforma de creación de logos y marcas corporativas muy sencilla de manejar y que te puede ayudar en el proceso.

Ventajas:

– No necesitas dibujar el icono de forma independiente, pues el servicio ofrece muchas opciones interesantes ya hechas
– El proceso de desarrollo puede durar menos de 10 minutos
– Puedes hacer varios diseños, compararlos, enseñarlos a tus amigos y luego escoger el que más te guste, haciendo los cambios necesarios, y descargarlos
– Puedes crear todos los productos de marca con tu logotipo en una página web
– Conservas tus derechos de autor de tu logotipo y de todos tus productos

Desventajas:

– Cambiar el icono ya finalizado desde la base de datos no es posible
– Un diseñador podrá dibujarte algo más único
– Aunque tienes una versión gratuita, si quieres descargar un logo en determinados formatos tendrás que abonar una cantidad puntualmente

 

logaster logo design
Fuente – Logaster.com

 

Métodos de pago para crear un logo

#4. Diseñadores con experiencia

Ventajas:

– Obtienes un logotipo de alta calidad
– Puedes relajarte y confiar tu marca a un profesional
– Dispones de gran variedad de diseñadores autónomos para elegir

Desventajas:

– Es un método largo y más caro
– Corres el riesgo de que te envíen un logotipo que no coincida con tus expectativas
– Si no conoces al freelancer o no sabes si tiene una buena reputación, puede dejar el trabajo sin terminar o incluso no cederte los derechos

 

#5. Estudios de Diseño

Ventajas:

– Resultado de alta calidad
– Tu proyecto será desarrollado por un equipo completo de profesionales
– Un proceso de trabajo placentero y organizado, respetando todos los plazos
– Gran variedad de estudios

Desventajas:

– El precio es sin duda más elevado que otras opciones
– Es también un método de creación de logotipos más lento

 

#6. Plataformas de Crowdsourcing

Si deseas aprovechar las posibilidades de crowdsourcing, debes registrarte en una plataforma de crowdsourcing como estas:

 

 

Después tienes que describir qué logotipo te gustaría tener y establecer la cantidad que estás dispuesto a pagar. Los diseñadores ven tu pedido y responden si les interesa. De esta forma, podrás elegir el mejor trabajo y pagarlo.

Ventajas:

– Puedes elegir entre múltiples versiones de logotipos
– Estableces la fecha límite, por lo que los plazos se deberán cumplir
– Puedes pedir al diseñador que haga ajustes en su trabajo

Desventajas:

– Incluso si no te gusta ninguno de los trabajos, tendrás que elegir uno y pagar al diseñador
– A pesar de una lista detallada de requisitos, los logotipos hechos por diseñadores independientes pueden no cumplir con tus expectativas
– Si le pides al diseñador que mejore el logotipo, tendrás que esperar bastante tiempo hasta obtener la versión final

 

Puedes escoger el método que más te convenga, pero recuerda que cada una de tus decisiones conlleva una serie de consecuencias. Si pasas por alto el registro de tu marca, tu negocio estará expuesto a grandes problemas. Los competidores, sabiendo que no posees los derechos de autor del logotipo, podrán adoptarlo fácilmente, con todos los problemas legales que ello puede acarrearte. Además, pueden registrar tu marca, exigirte dinero o una compensación por ella, algo contra lo que no podrás hacer nada desde un punto de vista legal.

 

Conclusión

Crear un logotipo puede resultar fácil o difícil, costoso o económico y convertirse en un proceso rápido o tedioso según la opción por la que te decantes.

Lo cierto es que, si bien contratar a un buen diseñador o un equipo de diseñadores es una de las opciones óptimas, hoy en día las plataformas de creación de logotipos e imágenes corporativas te pueden ahorrar no solo mucho tiempo sino también preocupaciones en cuanto a derechos de autor, plagios e incluso creatividad.

¿Cuál es la opción que te parece más conveniente?

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The What, Why, and How of Behavioral Marketing [+ Examples]

Marketing, in essence, is about delivering solutions to those who might benefit from them.

Historically, marketers have had a difficult time using data to correctly identify and target their audiences. With minimal data to work with, organizations practices some less than ideal marketing practices: consumers are bombarded with unrelated ads, emails, phone calls, and other outreach that they inevitably ignore.

Behavioral marketing, however, is a robust method of gathering data on consumer behavior in order to segment and target audiences in a laser-like fashion. This type of marketing is focused on individual patterns of engagement and behavior in order to match specific intents, interests, and needs of the ideal market.

According to McKinsey, organizations that leverage consumer data outperform their competitors by 85% in sales growth and more than 25%in gross margins. However, the practice of behavioral marketing sometimes has drawbacks, particularly for the user — for instance, Orbitz used behavioral marketing to display more expensive hotels to Mac users over PC.

Here, we’re going to explore what behavioral marketing is and why it could make a huge difference for your business. We’ll also include examples of behavioral marketing segmentation, and statistics of its performance, to see if this method is right for you and your organization’s marketing goals.

Marketing Automation

Data is incredibly valuable to marketers, and as companies continue building out massive information caches, they can get better at generating and serving up relevant content to consumers.

As marketing automation and machine learning technologies continue to improve, businesses can leverage their incredible databases to forecast consumer behavior even months in advance. However, data collection is a complicated and nuanced issue, and online privacy is becoming increasingly important as audience listening tools become more advanced.

Consumer data can be used strategically to pinpoint audience preferences and deliver relevant outreach. Businesses can collect consumer data to truly create a more enjoyable experience for their prospects and leads, rather than a more obtrusive one. Banner blindness — the consumer tendency to ignore any advertising they see as too aggressive — is mitigated by behavioral marketing because consumers will only engage with content they’re interested in, which is determined by their previous search patterns.

Keeping messaging and content individual-centric rather than channel- or product-centric is the most effective marketing automation strategy in combating banner blindness. Data, if gathered appropriately and used responsibly, can solve for needs on an individual basis. 

Behavioral Marketing Segmentation

An important facet of the behavioral marketing method is thinly segmenting audiences. Consumer segments might be determined differently depending on your organization’s marketing goals and ideal market. However, there are a few common ways that companies split up markets: 

1. Geolocation 

This measure is often very accurate due to the sensitivity of tracking. Organizations can tell which continent, country, region, and sometimes even which building a user is located. This can help with local targeting — like selling the right type of clothing for the regional climate. Furthermore, you can also access device data to better understand how audiences are finding and engaging with you.

2. Visit data

This type of information tells an analyst whether a user is new or has visited you before. By segmenting visitors by number of visits, companies can offer higher-value options to repeat visitors, like better benefits or discounts that might push them closer to a purchase.

3. Benefits sought

Data on motivations and intent is gathered when consumers research products or services. Two unique users might appear to fall in the same segment in terms of their demographic or location, but differ greatly in how much they value various aspects of an offering. 

4. Transactional data

This segment is particularly valuable — customers who have made a purchase are not only aware of your brand, but they are likely interested in paying for your another one of  products, particularly if they were pleased by their initial purchase. You can collect data on the number of purchases, average order value, product category, and time of purchase to better understand your brand’s customer lifecycle. 

5. Engagement level

Engagement is defined differently for different organizations, however, it is almost always positive when consumers are interacting with your brand. Data on consumer engagement implies that consumer trust, perception, and intent to purchase are increasing. 

6. Occasion

Behavioral marketing will often consider the occasion or timing of a purchase of engagement. For instance, there are universal occasions like holidays that may apply to the majority of customers, or rare  occasions that are more irregular and specific, like a wedding. Beyond this, marketers can target segments based on certain times during the day they are likely to buy.

 

Behavioral Marketing Examples 

1. Target

The New York Times wrote a piece on Target’s intensive data collection practices in order to gather detailed profiles on their customers. Target analysts were able to determine their customers’ ethnicities, job history, whether they’d declared bankruptcy, whether they were pregnant, their political leanings, and a whole host of other “predictive analytics”.

The retailer wanted such intimate insights to better sell to their customers — which is convenient for the company, but also controversial in nature due to a lack of concern over their consumers’ privacy. Behavioral research like this could lead to products that are better equipped to improve our lives — so long as we’re comfortable with corporations handling all our personal data.

2. Twitter

A smaller example of this is Twitter’s interest targeting — paid ads on social channels can be targeted to users based on their interests. Advertisers can choose from 25 interest categories and 350 subtopics provided by Twitter, and then let the social media platform publish your ad so only groups that are interested in that kind of content will see it. This can be even more targeted by selecting a geolocation or type of device.

3. Orbitz

Orbitz, as part of a controversial experiment, starting selling more expensive hotels to Mac users than PC users, since their research had demonstrated Mac users tend to spend more on travel.

While Orbitz sees nothing wrong with segmenting based on customer spending patterns, it’s certainly a controversial move, and one businesses should be wary of mimicking — especially since public concern is growing around online privacy and corporate data mining. However, Orbitz argued that the company isn’t displaying different prices to their customers — their customers could easily choose to rank results differently by price. 

Behavioral Targeting Stats

Lastly, we’ve compiled a list of behavioral targeting statistics to further demonstrate the growing popularity of behavioral marketing as a practice:

  1. Open rates increased by 56.68% and CTRs increased by 147% when companies used an interest based nurturing track.
  2. 72% of US adult internet users were concerned about the extent of information websites were collecting about them unless they were assured that the collected information was anonymous and non-personally identifiable.
  3. 86% of companies with high ROI reported that personalization made up 21% or more of their marketing budget. 
  4. Businesses with a full or partial personalization strategy experienced revenue growth 78% of the time.
  5. 93% of businesses with an advanced personalization strategy experienced revenue growth

21 Google Doc Features You Didn’t Know Existed (But Totally Should)

A few years ago, as I was scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook News Feed, I found an article that told me I was using paper ketchup cups all wrong.

It turns out you’re supposed to fan out the sides of the cup to increase ketchup capacity, like this. Who knew? Well, I recently applied that sense of adventure to another thing I love — Google Docs. And what I found was just as life-changing.

Sure, you may have been using Google Docs for years, but just as I found, there are likely several useful features you have yet to uncover. For example, did you know you can look at a document’s entire revision history to figure out what was changed and when?

Here are 21 sweet features Google Docs has to offer that aren’t on many people’s radar.

1. Add Fonts

When you create a new document, Google Docs starts you off with nearly two dozen native fonts you can choose from using the dropdown list on your top editing toolbar. But, there are dozens more fonts and typefaces available to you in that same dropdown.

To add additional Google Doc fonts, open your document and click the fonts dropdown third box from the left on your editing toolbar. Your default font should be Arial, as shown in the screenshot below.

Add fonts option in a Google Doc

When your starting font list appears, click the “More fonts…” option — the first option down, as shown in the screenshot above. This will open a window of additional fonts, as shown below.

Window to add fonts in a Google Doc

From the window that appears, shown above, check off the fonts you want to add to your starting dropdown list of fonts. Then select “OK” at the bottom. You can even explore new fonts by their general theme and appearance using the “Show” dropdown.

When you return to your document view, you should see your selected fonts included in the fonts dropdown.

2. Templates

Why start from scratch when you could use a template? Whether you’re using Google Docs to write your resume, draft a project proposal, craft a business letter, formalize meeting notes, or design a brochure, you can bet there’s a template for that. In fact, there are templates for almost all your business needs. And for every category, you’ll find multiple templates to choose from.

This feature isn’t exactly hidden, but it’s often overlooked. You’ll find all these templates at the top of your Google Doc homepage. Click More at the top right to browse through all the options.

Google Doc templates

3. Table of Contents Sidebar

Writing a long document with a lot of subsections that readers may want to jump to? The handy “Table of Contents” add-on automatically creates a navigation sidebar. Simply click through the headers and subheaders in the sidebar to easily jump from place to place in your document. It can be a little slow if your document’s really long, but it does the trick — and it’s still better than scrolling.

To find the add-on, click here or open your document and click Add-ons from the menu at the top of the page. Choose Get add-ons… and search for “Table of Contents.”

Table of Contents sidebar in a Google Doc

4. Create or Remove Header

Headers and footers are particularly useful when creating a Google Doc that has many pages. You can create a header that includes the document title, each page number, or both on every page all at once.

To Create a Header

To create a header on Google Docs, double-click on the very top of one of your pages and begin typing your header text. You can also select “Insert” from the top navigation toolbar, then hover your cursor over “Header & page number” for a slide-out option that allows you to order your pages by increasing numerals.

Using either process, you’ll create a header that looks like the screenshot below. This will appear on every page.

Add or remove header on a Google Doc

To Remove a Header

But removing this header once you’ve created it isn’t as obvious of an option. To remove a header from Google Docs, simply remove the text included in the header, then click out of the header space and back into the document’s body text.

To Change the Header Size

To shrink the size of a header from a Google Doc and use this space for more body text, change the margins of the page. To do so, click “File” in your top navigation bar, then “page setup…”

From here, you can narrow the page margins to a custom size, or using a preset “Paper size” from the options shown in the screenshot below. This will enable you to pull in or push out the header margins to your liking.

Page setup on a Google Doc

5. Clear Formatting

If you’ve ever pasted text into a Google Doc from another location, you’ve probably encountered formatting issues. It can happen for a variety of other reasons, too. Instead of editing that text manually to fit into the correct formatting, you can simply highlight the offending text and go to Format > Clear Formatting right in the toolbar. Boom: It’ll format the foreign text to fit with the rest of your document.

How to clear formatting in a Google Doc

6. Create a Folder

Because Google Drive stores your documents on the cloud, multiple people often use the same Drive account for sharing files with one another. Over time, this can make it difficult to organize your own documents. To store them all in a neat, safe place, make a Google Docs folder just for you or your team.

To create a new folder for your Google Docs, select the blue “New” button on the top left of your Drive account. This is also where you go to create a Google Doc, as shown below.

How to create a folder in Google Drive

From the options that appear, select “Folder” and title your folder with a label you’ll remember. This folder will then appear under the “Folders” section of “My Drive,” as shown below.

A newly created folder in the My Drive section of Google Drive

7. The Research Tool

The Research tool is a godsend for anyone writing something in Google Docs that requires online research. Why? It allows you to research and refer to information and images online without every having to leave the document. That means no more clicking back and forth endlessly between tabs.

You can open the Research tool on a computer in one of three ways:

  1. Open your document and open the Tools menu at the top of your screen, then click Research from the dropdown menu.
  2. Right-click on a specific word and select Research.
  3. Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Cmd + Shift + I (Mac) or Ctrl + Alt + Shift + I (PC).

Here’s what it looks like when I right-click the phrase “Welsh corgi” in my document:

The Research Tool in a Google Doc

When I choose “Research ‘Welsh Corgi,'” the Research tool appears on the right-hand side of my document. It looks like this:

Research result on Welsch Corgis in a Google Doc

When you first open the Research tool, it might show you topics related to what it thinks you’re working on based on what you’ve written already. You can either research those suggested topics by clicking on them, or you can type in your own search terms in the search bar.

You can also choose what type of content you want the tool to spit back when you search a term. Use the dropdown menu next to the search bar to see the different types of information for that topic.

Here’s what each type means, according to Google Support:

  • Everything: Text and images related to your topic from any source.
  • Images: Images related to your topic found on the web.
  • Scholar: Educational information related to your topic that you can read, add to your file, or cite in a footnote.
  • Quotes: Quotes related to your topic that you can add to your file.
  • Dictionary: Definitions, synonyms, and antonyms related to your topic.
  • Personal: Results from your personal documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and photos that you can open, cite, or link to from your file.
  • Tables: Data presented in tables related to your topic that you can open, cite, or export.

Right now, the Research tool is only available on computers and Android mobile devices. (Learn how to use the tool on Android devices here.)

8. Suggesting Mode

While the capability to edit and make changes in a document is great, there are times when you only want to suggest changes — without actually making any. That’s where “Suggesting” mode in Google Docs comes in handy.

It works a lot like Comments in Microsoft Word. First, switch from “Editing” mode to “Suggesting” mode by clicking the pencil icon at the top right of an open document, and then choosing “Suggesting.”

Suggesting mode for editing a Google Doc

From there, anything you add, delete, or otherwise change will show up as colored marks in the document, accompanied by details on the righthand side such as the name of the suggestor and a timestamp.

Green editing markup in the Suggesting setting of a Google Doc

Image Credit: Google Support

9. Comments

If you want to ask questions about, make notes in, or highlight changes you’ve made in a Google Doc you’re working on, you can leave comments directly in the document. The comments can act as a conversation thread, as people can reply to them and carry on a conversation. You can close the comment thread when it’s done. You can also edit or delete your comments at any time, or others’ comments if you own the document.

To add a comment, highlight the text or image you’d like to comment on. Then, choose Insert from the menu at the top of your screen, and choose Comment from the dropdown menu.

How to Comment in the margins of a Google Doc

From there, a blank comment will appear on the right-hand side of your screen.

Tag People in Comments

Want to comment on a document and get a specific person’s attention? You can do that by tagging them in your comment. All you have to do is add an @ or a + sign, and then begin typing their name or email address. Google Docs will give you a couple options based on your Gmail contacts, and once you’ve submitted the comment, it’ll notify that person you mentioned by sending them an email.

Highlighted comment in the margins of a Google Doc

If that person doesn’t already have access to the document, you’ll be asked to choose permission levels for them.

A user's comment permissions in a Google Doc

10. Footnotes

Footnotes are quick and easy things to add to your Google Docs, but not many people know about them. To add a footnote, put the cursor in the part of the document you want the footnote to appear, and go to Insert > Footnote. From there, simply type in to your footnote whatever you’d like, and click onto the document to save it.

11. Find and Replace

Did you ever want to locate multiple instances of an error in a text document and correct them all at the same time? Google has heeded your call with this nifty shortcut.

If you’ve ever used “Find and Replace” in Microsoft Word, you’re in luck: Google Docs makes it just as easy.

To find something specific in your document, select “Edit” in your top navigation bar and click “Find and replace” at the bottom of the dropdown menu. You can also type Command + F on an Apple keyboard (or Ctrl + F on a Windows keyboard), then click the “…” icon in the box that appears to the top right of your Google Doc.

Either process will call up the window shown below, where you can type in the text you’d like to find and replace it with corrected text. If the error appears more than once, click “Replace all.”

Find and Replace window in a Google Doc

12. Revision History

Speaking of revising content … have you ever wanted to see all of the changes you (or someone else) made in a Google Doc? Better yet, have you ever wanted to go back in time and revert to an earlier version of your document? Thanks to the Revision History feature, you can. And it’s awesome.

All you have to do is open the document and go to File > View Revision History. A panel will appear on the right-hand side of your screen showing an overview of who made changes and when. For a more in-depth view of the changes that were made, click the detailed revisions button below the overview list.

Revision history in a Google Doc

13. Voice Typing

Have Google Chrome as your browser? Have a working microphone either built in to your device or connected externally? Then you can “type” in a Google Doc using just your voice. To indicate a punctuation mark, simply say the name of it out loud, like “period,” “comma,” “exclamation point,” or “question mark.” To begin a new line or a new paragraph, say “new line” or “new paragraph” out loud.

To get to voice typing, open a document and click Tools from the menu at the top of the page. Choose Voice typing… from the dropdown menu. When you’re ready to speak your text, click the microphone or press Cmd + Shift + S (on a Mac) or Ctrl + Shift + S (on a PC) to begin recording.

Voice typing option in a Google Doc

Want to voice type in Google Docs on your phone? Voice typing only works for computers, but many iOS and Android mobile devices have built-in microphones you can use with a document.

14. Keyboard Shortcuts

There’s something so satisfying about knowing the keyboard shortcuts for whatever application you’re using, and Google Docs has a ton of them to choose from. A lot of them are the same as in other applications, such as Cmd + C (Mac) or Ctrl + C (PC) to paste, or Cmd + B (Mac) or Ctrl + B (PC) to bold something. But it has a few unique ones, too. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Shift + T = Create a new document.
  • Ctrl + Alt + M = Insert a comment.
  • Alt + I (in Google Chrome) or Alt + Shift + I (in other browsers) = Open the “Insert” menu.
  • Hold Ctrl + Alt, press N then H = Move to the next heading.

See the full list here.

To display the list of commonly used shortcuts while you’re working in a document, press Cmd + / on a Mac, and Shift + / or Ctrl + / on Chrome OS or Windows. You can also just click the gear icon in the upper left hand corner of your screen and choose “Keyboard Shortcuts” from the dropdown menu.

15. Create Your Own Shortcuts

Google Docs may have a lot of shortcuts available to us, but what if we want to make a few of our very own? To create custom shortcuts, go to Tools > Preferences > Automatic Substition. You might find there are a few in there already (like changing 1/2 to ½), but feel free to add in some of your own.

How to create your own keyboard shortcuts and macros in a Google Doc

16. Conference Calls

Google Docs is a collaborative platform — and the “UberConference” add-on makes it even more collaborative by letting you conduct an audio conference call right from the document. All you have to do is turn on the add-on and invite your friends or colleagues. When they accept, everyone will be able to view and edit the document while participating in a conference call.

To find the add-on, click here or open your document and click Add-ons from the menu at the top of the page. Choose Get add-ons… and search for “UberConference.”

Conference call sidebar in a Google Doc

17. Image Editing

Once you’ve inserted an image into your document, you can still edit it within the document. Click the image in your document, and the toolbar at the top will change to all the tools you can use to edit your image. Crop it, mask it, add borders to it … there are a lot of possibilities in there.

Below are two examples of great image editing tricks: cropping and adding a border. (And if you ever want to reset an image back to its original form, simply select the image and click the “Reset Image” icon in your toolbar.)

Cropping Tool

Select an image in your document and click the crop icon in your toolbar. From there, drag and drop the blue handles until you’ve cropped the image to your liking. To save it, click “Enter” on your keyboard or just click back into your document.

Cropping a picture of a puppy inside a Google Doc

Borders

To add a black or colored border to any image, select the image and click the line color icon in your toolbar (which looks like a pencil). Select the color you want the border to be, and voilà! To save it, simply click off of the image.

Formatting picture color in a Google Doc

image of a dog

18. Dictionary

Ever written a word and wanted to double-check you’re using it correctly? What about writing a word that you want to find a synonym for? Instead of opening up a new browser window, you can look up the definition for that word right inside your document — as well as get synonym suggestions.

All you have to do is highlight the word, right-click on it, and choose Define. The Research tool will look up the word on the internet for you, and its definition will appear on the right-hand side of your screen.

Dictionary sidebar in a Google Doc

19. Language Accent Buttons

Gone are the days of memorizing accent shortcuts (and getting them wrong), opening up international keyboards and clicking keys manually, and copy/pasting from other documents. If you ever find yourself writing in a language other than English, the “Easy Accents” add-on could save you a lot of time. It lets you insert accents for 20 different languages directly from a sidebar in your document.

To find the add-on, click here or open your document and click Add-ons from the menu at the top of the page. Choose Get add-ons… and search for “Easy Accents.”

Language accent buttons in a Google Doc

20. Add a New Page

If your Google Doc doesn’t automatically add new pages, you can add your own. To do this, scroll down, click and place your cursor where you’d like the page to break. Then go to Insert, click Break, and then Page Break. You’ll see one page end and another begin. 

Add a page in Google Docs21. Insert Today’s Date

Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick way to insert the date into a Google document. You’ll need to use the document’s Script Editor for this. Luckily, there are a number of pre-created codes online that you can insert into the Script Editor to make “Insert Date” pop up on the page’s settings. Here’s one code from Quora, and another from SlackExchange.

To begin the process, go into your document, click Tools and then click on Script Editor.

Where to Find Google Script Editor

You’ll be brought to a page where you can paste in script. Once the script you’ve chosen is inserted and you’ve saved your work, you should be able to refresh your document and see a new button on the tool bar with new items to insert, including the date. Google Script Editor with code inserted

Keep in mind that this button might have different options depending on the code you choose. While some codes may just ass an “Insert Date” button to your toolbar, others might add a button that says something like “Utilities” or “More Tools.”

For those who aren’t super into coding, it might be less time consuming to just insert the date manually, or type it in a header so it appears on all pages. 

More Ways to Work With Google

I’ll bet you didn’t know at least a handful of these … Now that you do, put them to good use in your next Google Doc. Want more ways to use Google to create an effective marketing campaign? Download the free guide below.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Landing Pages

A landing page can be the designated page you’re taken to when you click on an ad. It can be the page that follows a call-to-action button. A landing page can also serve as the homepage of a website. What distinguishes a webpage as a landing page is its objective — the purpose of a landing page is to convert visitors into leads.

That’s it. The differentiating component of a landing page is that it contains a lead form that asks visitors for their contact information, typically in exchange for something the visitor values.

Now, think about how protective you are of your personal information. What makes you think a stranger on the internet would want to give up theirs?

Well, that’s where landing page best practices come in. A targeted, well-crafted landing page with a solid format and sound copy will get almost anyone to do your desired action.

And that is exactly what this guide will teach you.

Why do you need a landing page?

Why would you create a special page just for people to fill out a form? Why not just use your homepage or about page? Great questions.

After reading this article, you’ll likely be able to answer those questions yourself, but the short answer is this: A landing page eliminates distractions by removing navigation, competing links, and alternate options so you capture your visitor’s undivided attention. And complete attention means you can guide your visitor where you’d like them to go, i.e., to your lead form. In sum, landing pages are specifically designed to create conversions.

Now that you understand their importance, let’s cover landing page best practices to make sure your pages are set up to convert.

Was that a lot? We’ll break them down below.

Craft a benefit-focused headline

For every 10 people that visit your landing page, at least seven of them will bounce off the page. To keep that number low, your visitors need to know (and understand) what’s in it for them within seconds of arriving. Your headline is the first thing they’ll read, and it should clearly and concisely communicate the value of your landing page and offer.

Choose an image that illustrates the offer

Yes, an image is mandatory, and it should represent your target audience. The purpose of your image is to convey a feeling — it should illustrate how your visitor will feel once they receive your offer. Certain images work better than others, so you should always split test your options (which we’ll cover below).

Write compelling copy

Don’t spend all that time crafting the perfect headline and finding your ideal image to fall flat when it comes to the words that will actually sell your call-to-action. Your copy needs to be clear, concise and should guide your visitor to the action you want them to complete. Compelling copy also speaks directly to the visitor by using “you” and “your” to make them feel engaged. We’ll go more in-depth on copy tips below.

Include the lead form above the fold

Your lead form needs to be readily accessible should your prospect want to convert right away — you definitely don’t want them searching and scanning your landing page to find your offer. “Above the fold” just means that visitors don’t have to scroll to get to the form — that it’s in view as soon as someone hits the page. This could be a form or an anchor link to the form. Even better: Design your form to scroll with the user as they move down the page.

Add a clear and standout call-to-action

The call-to-action (CTA) is arguably the most important element on your landing page — it’s one of many elements that encourage conversion. The CTA button needs to stand out, meaning you should use a color that contrasts with other elements on the page. Be clear about what you want visitors to do, that is, use an action verb that spells it out for them, like “submit”, “download”, or “get it now”. More on CTA best practices below.

Give away a relevant offer

Think of your landing page as a part of your lead’s journey to your ultimate offer — your product or service, that is. Your offer is the thing you give in exchange for your lead’s personal information. Not only should it be compelling enough for your visitor to provide their contact info, but it should also be relevant to your business. Say you sell horseshoes. Your offer might be something like “10 Simple Ways to Size Your Horse’s Hooves,” because, ultimately, you’re going to ask that lead to buy your horseshoes. You wouldn’t hook them with an offer about organic farming because that puts them on a completely different path. We’ll talk more about how compelling offers below.

Only ask for what you need

You want to gather as much information as possible about your lead, but how much you ask for depends on several factors: how well acquainted they are with you, where they are in their buyer’s journey, and how much they trust you. Ask for as little info as you need in your lead form to create a low barrier to entry. A name and an email are more than sufficient to nurture a new lead.

Remove all navigation

Your landing page has one objective and one objective only: to convert visitors into leads. Any competing links — including internal links to other pages on your website — will distract from that goal. Remove any other links on your page to draw all of your visitors’ attention to your call-to-action.

Make your page responsive

Just like every other page on your website, your landing pages need to be responsive to accommodate every viewing experience. The last thing you need is for your form to fall out of view on mobile devices. Give your visitors every possible opportunity to convert, no matter how they’re viewing your page.

Optimize for search

Sure, you’ll be driving visitors to your landing page through email blasts, social posts and other marketing methods, but your page should also be optimized with target keywords for your paid campaigns and organic search. When someone searches for your key phrase, they should find your landing page. Similarly, when you target a keyword with paid ads, those words should exist on your landing page.

Remember to use a thank you page

A thank you page is where you send leads once they’ve completed your form. Now, you could just show a thank you message on the same page or ditch the thank you altogether, but there are many reasons why that’s not the best option. A thank you page serves three important purposes: 1) it delivers the offer that you promised (usually in the form of an instant download), 2) it gives you an opportunity to interest your new lead in additional relevant content, and 3) it serves as a chance to thank them for their interest, which goes a long way in promoting them to a customer down the line.

How to Design Your Landing Page

Often times, design means creativity, colors, and pretty pictures. For the purpose of a landing page, we take design a step further to mean functional, direction-oriented, and effective. So, to craft a well-designed landing page, you’ll have to tap into both your right and left brain. But don’t get me wrong — you still need great imagery and attractive colors to convert your visitors. We’ll touch on how to incorporate all of this below.

Landing Page Structure

The good news is you don’t need to get too creative here. Most landing pages follow a very similar structure because it’s been proven to work. You can infuse your creativity through branded elements and images, but stick to a landing page format that people are used to seeing.

A good landing page has five elements (check out the landing page example below to see these elements in practice):

  1. Headline that grabs the visitors attention
  2. Relevant Image that is relevant to your audience
  3. Lead Form that sits above the fold to capture visitors’ information
  4. CTA that is action-oriented and compelling
  5. Copy/Description that informs and entices your visitor to complete your form

landing-page-hero-sectionhubspot-lead-formSource

Can your landing page include more than this? Absolutely. (Think social share buttons that visitors can use to spread the word about your offer). This is simply the bare minimum. You need to know your audience, where they are coming from and where they are in their buyer’s journey to know how much you need to include. The rule of thumb is include as much information as you need to get people to convert.

Landing Page Layout

This may come as a surprise, but most people don’t read every word of your cleverly-crafted copy. Instead, they skim through and pull out the most important tidbits. Your job is to make those tidbits stand out so your visitor doesn’t miss anything important.

That means a few things …

  • Keep the most important information above the fold so your visitor doesn’t need to scroll to get to it.
  • Perform a blink test on your page, meaning a visitor should be able to gather the main message in less time than it takes them to blink, i.e., less than five seconds.
  • Use white (or negative) space to keep your visitor engaged, focused, and to help them comprehend your message.
  • Write with bullets and short paragraphs to make your copy easy to digest.
  • Try to work the important copy into an F-pattern, which is the direction that most people scan a page online. Work with the flow of visual patterns to drive people to the key points that will get them to convert.

Landing Page Colors

The design of your landing page — including the colors you use — should reflect that of your website. You’re aiming to form a long-term relationship with the people who visit your landing page, and that means they need to become familiar with your branding colors and unique style. The more they recognize your brand, the more they trust you (and the more they trust you, the easier it is to get them to do what you want them to do).

The areas where you should consider using alternate colors are on the elements of your page that need to stand out — ahem, your CTA button. Contrast is the name of the game here. Say your branded colors are mostly green … you’ll want to choose a color that can draw users attention, say purple.

Wondering what colors perform well? We did a little research for you to determine which colors convert best.

Landing Page Images

The image on your landing page is one the first things people see, and since people process visuals far quicker than they do text, it sets the tone for their entire experience. . But how can you possibly choose between millions of stock photos and that company photo shoot that’s taking up all the space in your Dropbox? Let’s narrow down the selection with a few important questions:

Who is my target audience?

What does your persona look like? How old are they? How do they dress? What are they interested in? The answers to these questions are important in determining what image you’re going to place front and center on your landing page. If it’s going to appeal to your audience, then it needs to represent them in some way.

Where on my landing page do I want them to look?

This might seem like an odd question, but really it’s based on the idea that people follow directional cues, like where someone is looking or pointing. If you want visitors to fill out a form, consider an image that drives their attention toward that form.

Will this image reinforce my message?

Every element on your landing page serves an important purpose. Since your image is one of the first things that people see, it should help clarify what the visitor can expect from your page. Make sure that your image adds value.

Here are some other important things to consider when creating great landing page images.

Call-to-Action (CTA)

We’ve discussed your CTA a few times so far, but since it’s the most important part of your landing page, it’s worth mentioning again. When it comes to the design of your CTA, there are a few tricks will make it so alluring that visitors feel compelled to click. To clarify, your CTA includes the button and the copy you use to draw attention to it; these tips cover both.

  • Give your CTA a vibrant and contrasting color
  • Focus your CTA copy on the benefit to your visitor
  • Get to the point — try using no more than five words
  • Tell your visitor what you want them to do using action verbs, e.g. Get, Download, Click
  • Make your button large enough to stand out on the page
  • Give it some negative space — don’t crowd the area around your CTA
  • Follow the flow of the page and place your CTA where your readers’ eyes will go, such as to the right of or below the copy
  • Test your button shape, test your copy … as a matter of fact test everything (we’ll cover how to do this below)

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Mobile Landing Page

More than half of website traffic comes from mobile devices, therefore, the user experience should be the same no matter the device visitors are using. By making your landing page responsive, you give them every opportunity to view and convert, whether they’re on a desktop, phone, tablet, or otherwise.

Landing Page Copywriting Tips

After design comes great copy. Your objective is to be compelling, instructive, likable, concise, effective, trustworthy and informative all at once. How? Keep reading.

1. Cover the main points

No matter how you position it, there are a few main points that you need to hit with your copy. Those main points are your persona’s pain point, the solution to that pain point, how your solution works (features), how your solution will improve their situation (benefits), and verification that it works (social proof).

The majority of what you write needs to address how you can help your prospect, not how awesome you are (because that’s implied). Let’s go more in-depth on these points.

The Pain Point

The pain point that you focus on should be the one that your offer solves. Not to sound negative, but it’s important to touch on the problem your persona is facing so they know you understand what they’re going through. Empathy is an effective way to build trust. And if they know you get their problem, then they’re more likely to trust your solution.

Your Solution

The solution to their pain point is what you’re offering in exchange for their information. Illustrate a clear path between their problem and how your solution is the remedy they need.

Features

Just knowing what your solution is may not be enough to convert leads, so you need to mention what’s included in that solution. If it’s an ebook, what are the subjects your cover? If you’re promoting a webinar, how will it work and what will you teach? If it’s a service, what can they expect? Give your potential lead all the information they need to make a decision.

Benefits

Your copy should be heavy with benefits to the user because that’s what they really care about — what’s in it for them. While features list what your offer has, benefits tell visitors how their situation will be improved as a result. It paints a vivid picture of how much better their life could be by using your solution.

Social Proof

Studies show that social proof is effective for persuading people to take a desired action. Social proof comes in the form of logos of brands you’ve worked with, testimonials from previous clients, reviews of your product, or confirmation that others have purchased your service. In essence, people want to know that others are have used and benefited from your solution, too. By including social proof on your landing page, you’re validating your offer without even saying anything.

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Touching on each of these points will provide you with well-rounded copy that answers all of your visitors’ questions … which brings me to my next point.

2. Preemptively respond to objections

A key part of writing persuasive copy (copy that gets people to convert) is dismantling objections before they even come up. Now, this takes some skill … or at least some help from a friend.

Once you’ve laid your foundation by addressing all the main points, put yourself in the mind of your prospect and think about where they might protest or challenge you as they read. For instance, if you say “We’ve helped Fortune 500 companies bring in customers,” your reader might scoff or doubt it unless you follow up that statement with social proof.

Do this exercise for every section of your page (or ask an unbiased friend to help) until you’ve covered every possible objection you can think of. When you get questions from people who’ve visited your landing page, use that as feedback to sharpen your copy even further. Better yet, seek out constructive criticism from your first few converted leads to ensure your landing page is meeting every need.

3. Build trust with your prospect

Say you were reading a sales page and the company wrote, “Our product has helped 100 people and it might work for you, too!” Meh. I’d probably pass and find a company that has a solution that can definitely work for me. Your goal is to build trust with your visitor and the way to do that is to come across as an authority.

Besides using social proof, some other ways to build trust are:

  • Write in the way that you speak and address your prospects as you would a live customer.
  • Cite statistics that support your message.
  • Use case studies that highlight customers similar to your target.
  • Be relatable. Show your audience that you’re human by admitting failures, opening up about doubts you’ve had, and being honest. The caveat is you should only share what is relevant to their struggle; don’t just divulge anything.

4. Use click triggers

Click triggers are designed to eliminate that last bit of doubt before a visitor converts. You can think of them as lick Probability Enhancers (… yes, I made up that term). They are essentially copy positioned next to your CTA that pushes your prospect over the edge by easing their mind and mitigating the risk of converting.

Below are some effective ways to employ click triggers:

  • Money-back guarantee
  • Easy unsubscribe
  • Quote from a successful or happy customer
  • Blurb on “what to expect”
  • Price slashing
  • Privacy policy
  • Some other creative method

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Whatever you choose, click triggers will give your conversions the boost they need.

A/B Testing Your Landing Page

Everything we’ve discussed until this point is great … in theory. But your business is different from others, and your target audience is unique. How do you know if the copy you chose is working? Or if your CTA placement is right? Or what colors perform best? Or which image to choose?

You test it. That’s how. Split testing (or A/B testing) is probably nothing new to you as a marketer, and split testing your landing page is just one more experiment to add to your list.

Let’s briefly go over how to best A/B test your landing pages.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing is simply splitting your traffic to two (or more) variations of a page to see which performs better. While you could do this manually by launching one variation for a period of time, then another for the same amount of time, it’s far more efficient to use a software that allows you to split test and can track your results.

The main components of an A/B test are variants, or the two versions of the page, the champion, or the original page, and the challenger, or the page that you modified to test against the original.

How to A/B test

The most important trick to split testing is to make very small tweaks with each experiment. For instance, you don’t want to split test your headline and your image at the same time because you won’t know which element garnered the results. For this reason, stick to testing one element at a time. The “winner” becomes your champion, then you can create a new challenger to test the next element. You repeat this cycle until you reach a conversion rate that you’re happy with (and that falls within realistic expectations, which we’ll cover below).

What should you test?

You can test virtually anything on your landing page. But while that’s possible, you may want to limit your test to a few of the most impactful elements of your page, like:

  • Headline copy
  • Image
  • CTA color
  • Click triggers
  • Copy on the page
  • Lead form length and fields

These tests will have the biggest impact on your conversion rates. Try starting with the simplest change first, like a headline or CTA color, then work your way to the larger undertakings, like your page copy.

Landing Page Metrics to Track

Metrics will tell you everything you need to know about how well your landing page is performing as well as give you some insight on how to improve it. It’s hard to know exactly what will work when you launch a page. Measure and track meticulously in the beginning until you reach a relatively good conversion rate, then you can track your metrics less frequently.

Page Visits

How many visits are you getting on your landing page? The more visits, the more you increase your probability of conversions. Try adjusting your paid strategy or redefining your keywords to drive more traffic to your page. You can also let your current followers know about your offer through emails, social media, and on your website.

Traffic Source

Knowing where your traffic is coming from will let you know where you should double down on or ditch your efforts.

Submission Rate

This is the number of people that complete your lead form and land on your thank you page. There are many tweaks you can make to your page to increase this number, but make sure to A/B test so you know what’s working.

Contacts

Contacts refers to the number of leads that you generated from your form. The reason this is different from submissions is because duplicate contacts are only counted once, meaning if a current lead fills out your form to get your offer, they don’t affect the count.

Heat Mapping

This is more of an observation of how people interact with your page as opposed to a metric. Heat mapping can show you where people scroll, what they read, and how they engage with your page. This is all useful data when thinking about your page layout and structure.

Bounce Rate

If visitors are coming to your page and immediately leaving, then you need to examine whether the content is aligned with the offer. Does your copy capture visitors’ attention and do visitors automatically know what to do when they land on your page? Is your page a reflection of the copy you used to get people to visit it?

Form Abandonment

This metric tells you how many people start filling out your form but don’t complete it. If this number is particularly high, some adjustments to consider are introducing new click triggers, shortening your form, or making it more clear what you want your visitor to do.

Benchmarks

You need to judge your landing page against industry norms and across a similar audience to know if it’s performing as expected. Check out some industry benchmarks to set as your baseline, but don’t be discouraged by other company’s results.

No matter what’s going on, it’s possible to diagnose and heal your landing pages if you pay attention to the metrics.

How to Make Your Landing Pages More Effective

There are always tweaks you can make to boost landing page performance. Below are a few great tips (if I do say so myself) to get your landing pages leveled up.

Optimize your landing page

Optimize is such a confusing word, isn’t it? I mean, are we talking about imagery, copy, keywords, or UI? The answer is yes — we’re talking about all of it. Optimize just means to make your landing page the best it can be, and that can include a myriad of modifications. If you want to know everything you could do to optimize your landing page, you’ll need a pretty expansive guide. And, guess what, we have one here.

Present a really good offer

You could argue that anything free qualifies as “good,” but that isn’t exactly true. Not only should your offer be free (we’re not talking sales pages here) but it also has to be good enough to warrant a stranger giving you their personal information. Let’s face it — there are a lot of companies competing for your audience’s attention, asking for their information and soliciting them via email. So, what’s going to make you stand out from the pack? An outstanding offer, that’s what.

Here are a few questions to determine if you have a compelling offer or not:

  • Does my offer solve a pain point for my target audience?
  • Is there a clear benefit that a lead can gain from this offer?
  • Can my offer rival the competition?

Decrease page load time

A single second delay in page load time means 7% less conversions and 11% less page views. One study found that a three-second page load time can result in losing nearly half of your potential customers. Not only that, but slow page load times result in customer dissatisfaction and frustration.

Needless to say, landing page load time is a metric to take seriously. If you need some tips, check out this resource on decreasing page load time.

Keep the buyer’s journey in mind

Since you’re driving traffic to your landing page, you should have a clear idea of where your visitors are in their buyer’s journey. That means, you’ll know if they’re trying to diagnose a problem (awareness), looking for a solution to their problem (consideration), or are ready to close (decision). Your copy and offer should reflect this if you want to convert. It’s no different from any other marketing materials — meet your visitors where they are.

Create a seamless experience

No one should be surprised when they arrive on your landing page. It should be exactly as advertised, meaning be consistent with your copy. Use the same words on your landing page that you used to get people to arrive there, whether it was a paid ad, social post, blog CTA, or email. You need to avoid the bait and switch at all costs if you want people to stick around.

Create a clear path to conversion

There should be no guesswork involved in navigating your landing page. Once someone arrives on your page, it should be clear what you want them to do — submit their info to your lead form. Your goal is to guide visitors to your form using creative directional cues.

Here are some ways to point your visitor to a conversion:

  • Choose an image of a person that is either gazing in the direction of or pointing to your form
  • Make your CTA a contrasting color to draw attention to it
  • Use arrows that point to your lead form
  • Insert anchor text that brings people back to the form when clicked
  • Give your CTA some negative space on the page
  • Frame your lead form with a bold color or outline

Add scarcity to your offer

Few emotional marketing tactics work as well as fear … and the fear of missing out (more formally known as FOMO). Consumers don’t like to lose their ability to choose, and once you make it clear that your offer is in high demand and/or short supply, they’re going to clamber to get it. (Here’s a cool study on cookie jars if you want to geek out on the psychology of scarcity marketing.)

The other reason why this technique works is because people want things that are hard to obtain — that signifies value and exclusivity.

To show scarcity, mention how little of your offer is left, include a countdown timer, use words like “ends soon” or “last chance”. Obviously, we want you to be genuine, so only employ tactics that are true for your business. Bottom line: there are many ways to use and benefit from this technique.

Use video

Video marketing is becoming increasingly popular for good reason. Not only do customers prefer to see video from companies, but video has been proven to increase conversions by up to 80 percent.  The key is to create an effective video that doesn’t distract visitors from your ultimate goal: the call-to-action.

If you’re on the fence about using video, here are some reasons that might push you over the ledge.

Video…

  • Increases conversion rates
  • Is a more personable way to share a message and connect with prospects
  • Can be more engaging than an image and will get visitors in the habit of clicking (and  converting)
  • Keeps visitors on your page longer
  • Is processed 60,000 times faster than text

If you do plan to employ this tactic, VidYard has some helpful landing page video guidelines to follow.

Are you excited yet about all the ways you can improve your landing pages? Sure, there are quite a few but that just means that a poor-performing landing page doesn’t have to stay that way. Take it one tactic at a time and build as needed.

What to Do Post-Conversion: Lead Nurturing

So, you have an optimized landing page that converts like a charm. Now what? You don’t want to leave those leads hanging. Instead you want to nurture them into becoming customers, then nurture them some more. Here’s how.

Optimize your thank you page

I hope you’re not tired of optimizing yet. Your thank you page is the first thing someone sees after they convert, so it serves as a great opportunity to delight your new lead even more than you already have. Your objective is twofold: deliver your promised offer and get them interested in something else on your site.

Your thank you page should:

  • Thank your new lead (go figure)
  • Provide links to relevant content on your site
  • Invite your lead to follow you on social media
  • Ask your lead to subscribe to your blog
  • Automate a follow-up email with the offer

Guide them along their buyer’s journey

Your new lead is going to make their way to the decision stage with or without you. You want to be the one to help them get there. You’ve gathered some valuable information about your lead, which means you can anticipate what they need next. Provide content or resources to bring them to the subsequent stage of their journey, and you just might be their option for the decision stage. After all, we know that prospects buy from companies that they know, like, and trust.

Form a relationship

Once someone signs up to receive information from you, they become a potential customer with whom you should work hard to build a relationship and connection. The good thing is you already know what they’re interested in and what their pain points are, so you can target them with additional, helpful content and personalized marketing.

If you’re still stuck, get some inspiration from some of the best landing pages we could find.

Conclusion

Landing pages will account for a majority of your new leads, so they demand your attention. With the vast number of tweaks, additions, and variations you can implement, there’s no reason why you can’t have a landing page that converts well. As long as you’re following the best practices we covered above, you’ll be on your way to a high-performing landing page. And if you need some additional guidance, we’re always here as a resource.

The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing in 2019

It’s no secret that traditional forms of marketing, which interrupt audience members, are less effective than they once were for reaching prospects and converting leads into customers. That’s why content marketing has become a popular way for businesses to reach and engage their target audience.

By providing audience members with useful content to educate them on your products and services — and show them how those products and services effectively solve their pain points and challenges — you can increase conversions, improve brand awareness, boost revenue, and more. Sound interesting? Keep reading to learn about the ways your business can implement content marketing tactics and strategies to connect with your audience.

Why is content marketing important?

Today, outbound marketing strategies (or anything that interrupts your audience members) aren’t as effective for reaching audience members and converting leads as they once were. Content marketing has become a popular way for businesses to combat this issue. In addition to expanding your reach, content marketing helps your business:

  • Educate your leads and prospects about the products and services you offer
  • Boost conversions
  • Build relationships between your customers and business
  • Connect with your audience to show them how your products and services solve their challenges
  • Create a sense of community around your brand

Now that you understand why your business should invest in content marketing, let’s review some examples so you can decide which types of content you want to create.

Content Marketing Examples

Although content marketing is an applicable and useful tactic for almost every company, brainstorming creative and persuasive ways to reach and convert your audience is no simple task. So, how can you succeed at content marketing?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at the various types of content marketing, plus some examples of each. This section will give you a better understanding of how you can incorporate content in your business’s marketing plans.

Types of Content Marketing

There are many types of content marketing your business may decide to leverage. Below are some of the most popular options.

Social Media Content Marketing

With over 3.7 billion global users, it’s easy to understand why so many businesses invest in social media content marketing. There are a number of platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat) to work with and several ways you can create and share social media content on each of them (such as photos, live and pre-recorded videos, and stories). All of these platforms and ways to share your content provide you with a plethora of opportunities to connect with your audience.

Example of Social Media Content Marketing

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Lush Cosmetics’ Instagram account is on-brand and complements the rest of their marketing content — if the page didn’t say “Lush Cosmetics” anywhere on the profile, customers would likely still know the profile belongs to Lush.

The Instagram page shares the Lush product line, displays different color and scent options for the products, and shows the various ways each product can be used. Their profile feels and looks colorful, bright, happy, and uniquely Lush. The page also depicts people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders using their products in ways that fit their specific needs.

Infographic Content Marketing

Infographics display content, information, and data in an easy-to-understand, graphic format. With a mix of simple wording, short statements, and clear images, infographics are a great way to effectively communicate your content. They work well if you’re trying to distill an educational and/ or complex topic down so all audience members can understand it.

Example of Infographic Content Marketing
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IBM created an infographic when they launched their Cloud marketplace Their infographic is on-brand, well-organized, and easy to read. It clearly explains what they’re doing with their Cloud marketplace and how customers can benefit from it. It also tells audience members how they can access the marketplace and get started using it.

Blog Content Marketing

Blogs are a powerful type of content for inbound marketing and sharing information with your customers and target audience (whether educational, customer-related, or product-related). Blogs can be used to convert readers into customers, boost brand awareness, and/ or build relationships with your audience.

Depending on the goal of your specific blog, you may choose to promote other blog content by linking to various posts, sharing links to your social media pages, linking to your partners’ websites and products, or writing about your product line.

Example of Blog Content Marketing
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Expedia has a blog called “[Out There Starts Here]” that shares travel-related information. Whether about hotel recommendations, unique places to visit, or various activities you can do around the globe, their blog has all of the details.

Expedia regularly publishes their blog content to keep readers interested and engaged. It includes a wide range of topics related to any type of trip you could imagine. The blog is on-brand and all articles relate to the travel technology company’s goal and mission of gaining customers and boosting brand awareness. They do this by linking to their services and writing about customers who have already had positive experiences with the company.

Podcast Content Marketing

Did you know over 6 million people currently listen to podcasts in the U.S.? Podcasts have become a popular content medium because of their convenience — you can enjoy them while relaxing or on-the-go. That’s why so many businesses have started creating podcasts. They help improve brand awareness, build relationships with audience members, and promote their products, services, and partners.

Example of Podcast Content Marketing
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Harvard Business Review (HBR) has a weekly podcast called HBR IdeaCast which features industry leaders in both business and management. You can either subscribe to consistently receive their hundreds of podcasts or pick and choose which ones you want to listen to.

The podcast is on-brand and complements the rest of HBRs published content. It also serves as a great way for HBR to connect with their target audience, enhance brand awareness, and gain a following of audience members through a medium that differs from their typical work (listening to a podcast vs. reading an HBR article).

Video Content Marketing

According to a recent HubSpot research, over 50% of consumers say they want to see videos from the brands they interact with. Additionally, video marketing can boost conversions, improve ROI, and help you build relationships with audience members. You may choose to share your video marketing content on social media platforms, site pages, or on your partners’ websites — expanding your reach across different media.

Example of Video Content Marketing
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Much of Dollar Shave Club’s video content has gone viral. Their marketing efforts are on-brand, humorous, and entertaining. In fact, one of their videos has over 26 million views on YouTube. By making a name for themselves through their online video content, Dollar Shave Club has experienced impressive growth and brand recognition.

Paid Ad Content Marketing

As I mentioned before, organic traffic created by content and inbound marketing is becoming increasingly popular among all types of businesses. However, that’s not to say paid content and ads are useless or ineffective for reaching your target audience. Paid content ads can help you reach a broad audience and allow you to position yourself in all of the places you want to be seen.

There are many ways you can create and publish your paid content ads. You might share paid ads on social media or publish digital ads on websites in the form of banners or sponsored content.

Example of Paid Ad Content Marketing
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Revolve — a clothing and accessories company — uses paid and sponsored ads on social media (like this one on Facebook) to reach their target audience while they browse their news feeds. The content ads feature some of their products and details about their free shipping and return policies to pull their audience to their website and, hopefully, convert them audience into customers.

We’ve now reviewed the various types of content marketing you can add to your strategy. Now, let’s talk about your content marketing strategy. By implementing a strategy, you can ensure your content marketing efforts are impactful and effective in converting leads and reaching your audience members.

1. Set SMART Goals

The first part of your content marketing strategy is to set SMART goals. These should be specific to your business — they’ll likely complement your broader marketing and company goals. Let’s review some examples of goals you set for your content marketing strategy.

You may want your content to …

  • Improve brand awareness
  • Boost revenue
  • Increase conversions
  • Improve brand loyalty
  • Increase customer engagement
  • Build rapport and trust among prospects and customers
  • Attract strategic partners

2. Determine Your KPIs

Next, set key performance indicators (KPIs) for your SMART goals. KPIs are quantifiable data points you can use to measure your actual performance against your goal.

smart goal related kpi
Brand awareness Site traffic, social media followers, subscription sign-ups, mentions (by customers and partners)
Revenue Daily sales, site traffic
Conversions Conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, associated shipping rate trends, competitive price trends
Brand loyalty Returning customers, promoters, product reviews, referrals
Customer engagement Likes, shares, follows, mentions, backlinks
Rapport and trust Returning customers, promoters, followers, mentions
Strategic partners New partnerships, mentions, backlinks

3. Decide on the Type of Content

Next, choose the type of content you’ll create. To do this, start by thinking about your target audience and buyer personas. Answer the following questions about your target audience to help you narrow down the right types of content for them:

  • What do they need from you?
  • What challenges are they looking to overcome?
  • Why do they need your product or service?
  • How can you help them succeed?

Now, take a look back at the various types of content we reviewed earlier to determine which type or types of content you’ll create and share among your audience members and customers.

4. Choose Your Content Channels

Once you’ve decided on the type of content you’ll market with, it’s time to choose your specific content channels. For some of the content types, the channel you need to work with will be obvious. For example, if you’re creating blog content, your channel will be the blog itself.

However, some channels will be less obvious. For example, if you choose social media, you’ll need to decide which platform or platforms you’ll be marketing on (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). If you choose an infographic, you’ll need to decide which channel will you be sharing it on (social media, website, etc.).

5. Set a Budget

Now, set your budget. Think about the type of content you’re creating and which channels you’re marketing that content on. Then, ask yourself the following questions to determine your budget:

  • Do you need to purchase any software or technology to create the content (such as graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop, a subscription to Canva, a camera to take high-quality photos and videos)?
  • Do you need to hire any content team members (such as artists, writers, editors, designers)?
  • Do you need to pay for ad space?
  • Do you need access to specific tools or resources to enhance or measure your specific type of content?

As you answer these questions, you may notice how your responses impact your expected budget — whether that’s an increase or decrease in what you may have already estimated.

6. Create and Distribute the Content

Create and distribute your content so your audience members can consume it — and possibly convert. To ensure you’re consistently producing content and sharing it among your prospects and customers, use a social media calendar or an editorial content calendar. This can help your team can stay on top of all of the content being created and even schedule it ahead of time.

Use a free editorial calendar to schedule and optimize all of your marketing content to help you boost conversions.

7. Analyze and Measure Results

Lastly, analyze and measure your results. This will allow you to make any necessary changes to enhance your content marketing efforts and reach more audience members. Look at your SMART goals and KPIs to determine the success of your content marketing strategy. Did you achieve your goals and KPIs? Were you close to reaching them, or were you off in your estimations?

Here are some tools to help you with your content marketing strategy analytics and results:

Convert More Prospects With Content Marketing

With effective content marketing, you can reach your target audience and increase conversions. There are several ways to market with content to boost revenue, grow your brand awareness and recognition, and build relationships with your prospects and customers.

To get started, determine which type of content works best for your business and audience, and develop a content marketing strategy to begin boosting your bottom line today.

How to Prepare an Advertising Plan [Free Template]

Oftentimes, turning an idea for an advertising campaign into reality isn’t exactly simple.

Among other things, you must get buy-in from other teams, earn approval from bosses and executives, negotiate your budget, and present a clear path for return on investment (ROI).

The best way to clearly present your proposal, its costs, its stakeholders, and how much you expect to earn is with a concrete and detailed advertising plan. Additionally, an advertising plan will help you formulate and organize your thoughts and ideas so you can ensure your campaign is an effective one.

In this post, we’ll highlight the major sections you should include in your advertising plan so you can guarantee your next campaign is a success.

Follow Along With HubSpot’s Free Ad Plan Template

HubSpot created an advertising plan template for you to download so you can organize your advertising campaign easier. The template is broken down into relevant sections and can be shared with your stakeholders when it’s completed.

Download this Advertising Planning Kit

The template also includes an advertising project pitch deck, which you can use in your campaign kickoff meeting, in addition to a guide of the pros and cons of various advertising platforms. Download the kit now to kickstart your ad campaign in the best way possible.

How to Prepare an Advertising Plan

1. Provide an Overview of Your Advertising Plan

Before you jump into your tactical advertising ideas, provide those reading your ad plan with a high-level overview of your initiative.

You should specify the following so anyone reading will have a basic understanding of what the campaign is, and what you’re trying to accomplish:

  • Campaign Name: Make the campaign name catchy, unique, and easily identifiable so your team can get behind it.
  • Campaign Description: What is the purpose of your campaign? Explain in 2-3 paragraphs what the inspiration behind your campaign is, how it aligns with your company initiatives, what customer problems you’re solving, and what the final deliverables of the campaign will be.
  • Target Audience: Ideally, who’s on the receiving end of these ads? You can be specific to age, sex, region, or any number of demographics, or you could use this space to name which of your business’s buyer personas you’re targeting.
  • Advertising Platforms of Choice: How will you be getting your message across? Here, you’ll just want to identify the platform you’ll be using, since you’ll get more into the details of what the actual ads will look like in a later section.
  • Goals and ROI: Ultimately, you’ll need to explain what the end goal of your campaign is. Most ad campaigns are intended to produce a direct profit or return on investment, so if that’s your goal, identify that number here. If your campaign goal is something else — event sign-ups, product awareness, etc. — be sure to identify and quantify it if possible.

2. Choose Your Platforms

Here’s where you’ll provide more detail on the advertisements themselves and on which platform they will be promoted. For each ad you intend to run in this campaign, you should provide the following:

  • Platform name
  • Ad type
  • Description of the ad
  • Timeline
  • Budget

For example, your content in this section might look like this:

Platform #1: YouTube

  • Advertisement Type: Video
  • Description of Ad: A 15-second pre-video ad. The video will be an animated look at our new app with a link to the app store at when someone clicks.
  • Timeline: July 1 – July 31
  • Budget: $10,000

3. Develop Your Timeline

Working on an ad campaign takes a ton of time and resources, so everyone involved will want to know what tasks they’re responsible for, when they’re due, and how long they have to do them. In this part of your advertising plan, list the tasks that are due, when they are due, and who is responsible for accomplishing them.

4. Outline Your Budget

Because a return on investment isn’t guaranteed, the budget can be the toughest part of your advertising project to get approved — which is why it’s important to break up your requests by line item and present them in your plan.

Rather than simply stating, “We need $65,000 for this project”, try organizing your budget into a detailed visual, like the example below:

Naturally, you can (and should) expect questions and pushback on certain line items. For example, you may be asked to find another designer or video freelancing team who can do the job for cheaper. It’s critical you arrive at meetings prepared to defend which costs are necessary for the campaign’s success, and which expenses can be reconsidered.

5. Explain Your DACI Framework

The DACI framework outlines who the key contributors in the project are and what their responsibilities entail.

Here’s how a DACI framework is broken down:

  • Driver (D): Unsurprisingly, this person is the project’s main driver. Chances are, this will be either you or your direct manager. The driver will coordinate all of the moving pieces of the project, seeing it through from inception to wrap-up.
  • Approver (A): This will be the person who must approve a project and is typically a director, VP, or manager. This person will give feedback, recommendations, or approval on the overall project and have a final say in all project deliverables.
  • Contributors (C): Contributors will be the individuals who are responsible for creating one or more deliverables for the project. In an advertising campaign, this can include copywriters, video producers, animators, designers, and digital advertising specialists.
  • Informed (I): These are employees who are kept in the loop as the project goes on. Examples include the department heads and the managers of project contributors. These people have no direct responsibilities but benefit from knowing about the project and its status.

Your DACI framework should include the name of each stakeholder, his or her contact information (email, phone, and/or Slack handle), and that person’s responsibility or deliverable.

This framework makes project delegation crystal clear for everyone involved.

6. Provide Additional Resources

This will act as the appendix of your advertising plan. Share the ad campaign that inspired this one with your readers, link to the product page you’ll be promoting with this initiative, or link to your company’s brand style guide so designers and writers get a refresh on how to create external-facing content.

7. Host a Campaign Kickoff Meeting

After you complete your outline, gather all the stakeholders in a conference room or over Zoom for a kickoff meeting to explain the campaign concept, timeline, and deliverables. Compile all of them in HubSpot’s advertising project pitch deck and present your advertising plan, opening it up for further questions and brainstorming from project contributors.

Over to You

Now that you know how to write your advertising plan, it’s time to lay your ideas, budget, and timeline out in HubSpot’s Advertising Plan Template. Download it for free to get your advertising campaign project plan off the ground.

For further inspiration, take a look at The 18 Best Advertisements of All Time.

How to Calculate Your Business’s Break Even Point [Video Included]

You’ve heard the term “break even.” It’s a popular way to describe a time when you spent exactly as much money as you made. “We gambled $200 at the casino and won $200, so we broke even.”

But in a business context, it’s not that simple.

Your break even point doesn’t just happen in Vegas, and needs to be constantly recalculated for you to turn a profit in the long term. Here’s how to find it.

Find Your Contribution Margin

Recently, I explained how a business calculates its contribution margin — the amount (ideally in the form of a percentage) that your revenue from sales exceeds your variable costs to develop the product. There are two reasons you should care about this figure.

First, your contribution margin deliberately leaves out your operating costs so you can see exactly how profitable your product is. For example, while software and website costs to an ecommerce clothing business don’t directly contribute to the business’s product (the clothing), the cost its thread vendor charges does. The business omits the first cost because it only wants to see how profitable its clothing is against what it pays to produce it.

The second reason contribution margin is so important? You need it to calculate your break even point.

Although operating costs are irrelevant when assessing a product’s profitability, they’re critical when assessing your business’s profitability. These costs, also called fixed costs, factor back into your books when calculating your profit margin — your total profitability after all business expenses paid. And in order to achieve a high profit margin, you first need to know when you’ll break even.

Keep in mind that a break even point isn’t a finish line. Breaking even is an exciting milestone for a growing business, but the break even point indicates when the business’s revenue will be equal to its costs — not when it is. Businesses run the equation described above multiple times a year, eventually surpassing their break even point and (hopefully) becoming profitable.

So why is this number recalculated all the time? Once you “break even,” aren’t you officially on the road to profitability? Yes and no. If you were to calculate your break even point according to yearly revenue, yearly fixed costs, and yearly contribution margin, then yes, you’d get a number that is more representative of the business’s profitability since you’re considering a full year of activity. And once you break even, you wouldn’t have to track your break even point as often.

But there are shorter-term break even points that reset on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to guide you as you strive to reach your end-of-year (EOY) break even point.

For example, if fixed costs such as your monthly office rent total $3000, and your product has a contribution margin of $250 per unit, you’d have to sell 12 units of your product by the end of the month to break even for that month. See how I came up with this number below:

Break even point formula

The following month, you’re back to square one, as you’re on the hook for $3000 worth of bills for next month and need to sell another 12 products to, once again, break even for that period of time.

Set Goals to Become Profitable

Luckily, as a business grows, it won’t have to meet these incremental break even points in order to declare itself profitable by EOY. The business’s monthly revenue can even come up short of a month’s fixed costs, but break even or declare the business profitable at the end of the year.

How? With seasonal fluctuations in sales, you might fall short one month but become super busy during a holiday and make up for it. Perhaps you host a flash sale that reduces revenue in the short term but develops brand loyalty that brings in long-term customers, and a more steady revenue stream. Just be sure you calculate your break even point first before running a sale or discount so you can set appropriate goals for the sale itself. Houston, we have a profit.

Now it’s time for you to calculate your business’s break even point … How’d you do? Did you plug your sales figures into the formula above and get a scary number? Don’t sweat it — that’s why these incremental break even points are so helpful to a growing business.

If you’re discouraged by how much work you’d have to do to break even by the end of the year, shorten the time period of your break even point. By setting a goal to break even every week or month right now, you can set yourself up to break even after larger stretches of time later. 

 

How to Use Memes: A Guide for Marketers

Looking for a fun way to engage people on social media? Have you considered using memes in your marketing? In this article, you’ll discover how your business can use memes to engage and connect with people. 4 Reasons to Include Memes in Your Social Media Content In a time when many consumers skip ads whenever […]

The post How to Use Memes: A Guide for Marketers appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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The Ultimate Guide to Advertising in 2019

When you hear the word advertising, what comes to mind?

Do you think of banner ads on your favorite website? Super Bowl commercials? How about the billboards along the highway or posters in the subway stations?

While most of us have a pretty good idea of what advertising looks like, it’s a little harder to nail down exactly what it means — and how to do it well.

From the printing press to pop-up ads, advertising has certainly changed with the times. Despite this, though, the need for advertising hasn’t changed, and neither have the techniques and best practices that make for quality advertising. That’s what we’ll cover in this guide.

Whether on a billboard or the back of a restaurant menu, advertising can go to work for your company in a variety of ways. Here’s how:

  • To raise awareness for your brand
  • To drive potential customers to your business
  • To promote sales for both new and existing products
  • To introduce a new product or service to the market
  • To differentiate your product from your competitors’

Advertising can also be executed in various ways. Radio commercials, billboards, branded t-shirts, and social media endorsements all count as advertising. Here are the different formats and channels that advertisers have been using for years:

  • Print advertising and posters
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Outdoor ads and billboards
  • Public transit ads
  • Sponsorship of TV shows and events
  • Radio
  • Sponsored web content
  • TV commercials
  • Online pop-ups and search engines ads
  • Social media ads

Advertising can look like many different things. Below, we’ll cover how to advertise on these mediums.

Marketing includes a number of different channels, such as social media, email marketing, public relations, SEO, and paid advertising.

Alternatively, advertising is just one part of marketing.

A company’s overarching marketing strategy will typically include an advertising plan. The advertising zooms in on the specific process of creating and publishing the persuasive messages to get customers to take action.

A Brief History of Advertising

Advertising is one of the oldest segments of business, save for currency and trade. Once products and services arose, so did the need to make them known.

The oldest confirmed piece of advertising dates back to 3,000 B.C. Technically, it was a print ad from ancient Egypt promoting the capture and return of an escaped slave. Incidentally, the ad also mentioned the slave owner’s shop — a rug business — which inherently advertised his storefront, too. The slave was never caught, but the rug owner did discover a brand new method of bringing in traffic: advertising.

Let’s fast-forward about 4,000 years. Here’s a brief look at the past five centuries of advertising:

1472: The first poster advertisement is placed on church doors in London.

1650: The first newspaper ad — a reward for 12 stolen horses — is published. (What’s with the reward-based advertisements?)

1704: The Boston News-Letter prompts its readers to place ads in its paper.

1870: The Powers style of ad copy is born. This style packed a punch — it was short, to-the-point, truthful, and convincing. Powers said the focus should be on why the consumer should buy your product or service — a message that still resonates for good reason today.

1880: Postcards become one of the hottest new ways to reach customers.

1893: Retailer Sears, Roebuck, & Co. joins the mail-order bandwagon by issuing their own catalog. advertising-history-sears

1902: Unilever creates the “longest client-agency relationship in advertising history” when it hires J. Walter Thompson Company to advertise its Lifebuoy Soap.

advertising-history-unilever

1902: Mellins Food advertises its brand on 25 airship flights, becoming the first brand to take this approach.

advertising-history-mellins

1904: The Campbell’s Kids are created, piloting the change in advertisement focus from a single ad to an entire campaign.

advertising-history-campbells

1922: Radio ads are born, and businesses purchase 10 mins for $100. Two years later brands would increase their investment by sponsoring an entire radio show, a concept that would eventually become known as “sponsored content.”

1925: Advertisers start to appeal to emotions, focusing on what pleasure customers would receive from their product or service. This old Ford ad exemplifies this perfectly.

advertising-history-ford

1975: VCRs are introduced, and consumers begin to record shows and, therefore, skip advertisements.

1990: Computers become more popular and accessible at home, with over 5 million homes connected to the internet.

1994: The first email spam campaign launches. Banner ads are also introduced.

1995: Search engines like Yahoo! and Alta Vista are born. Ask Jeeves and Google would follow in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

2005: YouTube and Facebook (for college students only) launch.

2008: Brands start to realize the importance of having an online presence for their potential customers. Procter and Gamble pilot the concept of the content hub with BeingGirl.com.

advertising-history-beinggirl

2012: Online videos reach 169.3 million viewers.

2013: Sites like Pinterest and Instagram join the social network scene.

History teaches us that advertising is an ever-changing concept, just like shopping habits and how and where consumers spend their time. Whereas almost 140 years ago, postcards were the newest form of advertising, brands today are building chatbots for Facebook Messenger and integrating artificial intelligence into their marketing and sales platforms.

Things in the advertising world move fast.

The Modern Era: How to Advertise Online

As of today, there are almost 4 billion people using the internet. This number is up 300% from 2005. Point being, internet usage is skyrocketing, and it’s not stopping.

advertising-statistaIf you’re not advertising online, you’re behind the curve, my friend. Not only does the internet offer you direct access to more than half the global population — including more than half of your target audience — but it also provides so many different channels on which to advertise.

Marketers now have the flexibility to reach their target audiences on multiple fronts, in multiple ways, for multiple budgets. Their are also a number of tools (many of which are free) that can help you execute your advertising strategy.

Here are the most common ways to advertise online:

Paid Search Advertising

Whether Google, Yahoo, or Bing, all search engines have their own paid advertising. This is referred to as pay-per-click, or PPC, and involves bidding on keywords and placing ads at the top or sides of search results.

When someone performs a query using one of those search engines, advertisers have the ability to display ads above organic search results. That’s what makes PPC so powerful — it gives your advertisements prime real estate in front of people already searching for relevant topics.

Featured Resource

Here’s an example on Google:

advertising-google

The top four listings in the red box are advertisements. The lower portion, in the blue box, are organic search results that come up as a result of search engine optimization.

Check out our guide to PPC for more information. 

Social Media Advertising

Social media platforms know how valuable their content is, and that’s why they offer the option to sponsor or boost posts. Social ads put your message in front of your target audience and encourages them to engage, click-through, and buy. More and more, social media sites are prioritizing ad space over organic content because, well, it brings in more revenue.

If you’re a budding business or new brand, consider running some social media advertisements. These will not only advertise your products and services but also promote your social media pages and grow your following.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter each have their own version of ads like these.

Here’s how they appear on their respective feeds:

Facebook

advertising-facebook

Instagram

advertising-instagram

LinkedIn

advertising-linkedin

Twitter

advertising-twitter

Featured Resources

Native Ads and Sponsored Content

Sponsored content has been around since 1922, when brands would sponsor entire radio shows. Today, sponsored content refers more to native ads and blog or article content subsidized by brands.

Have you ever read a Buzzfeed article that heavily referenced or recommended a certain product or service? It was likely sponsored by a certain brand.

Check out this article, 10 Reasons To Put Away Your Phone On Your Next Trip, promoted by agoda, a hotel or destination booking site. Does it blatantly promote agoda’s services? No. It’s primary purpose is to entertain and inform, although agoda is referenced a few times throughout the content.

At the top, the byline reflects agoda’s sponsorship, just before the content starts. And, as you scroll down the page, another ad sits within the content.

Sponsored content is a great way to promote your brand in content your audience is already familiar with.

Banner and Display Ads

Banner and display ads are an extension of search ads and follow a similar PPC model. But instead of a text-based ad, consumers see a more visual advertisement.

advertising-banner

Banner ads are typically the horizontal boxes on top of a web page, whereas display ads are smaller in nature and shown on the side (like in the screenshot above).

Read our 10-step guide to creating banner ads for more information.

Whether you opt for traditional print ads in magazines or subway stations or choose online promotion on social media or search engines, there are a few rules that make for great advertising. Below are some advertising best practices to apply to all your ads.

Advertising Best Practices

There are a lot of best practices, tips, and tricks when it comes to advertising. It’s an art that’s been perfected over the years, and with the rise of modern advertising and new media, best practices continue to manifest.

In this section, though, we’re going to cover five famous advertising concepts that still work today — regardless of what advertising method or medium you’re using.

When used correctly, these advertising techniques will do wonders for your brand and products.

Appeal to Emotions

While you may not consider the ASPCA a business, their unforgettable Sarah McLachlan commercial is the perfect example of using emotional appeal to entice people to take action.

For most of us, the images in that commercial are hard to watch — we may even turn away. But since it tugs at our heartstrings, we’re more likely to donate to animals in need after seeing the horrors they’re going through.

Studies show that people rely on emotions, rather than information, to make brand decisions. Emotional responses to ads influence a person’s intent to buy more than the actual ad content.

Whether you try to evoke happiness, sadness, fear, or anger, appealing to emotions can help your target audience feel your message — not simply read or hear it.

Create Positive Associations

When consumers associate your product with a feeling of happiness, state of achievement, or accomplished goal, they’re more likely to take notice, remember your product or service, and make a purchase.

Actually, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of this before without even realizing it. Have you ever seen your favorite celebrity or Instagram influencer posing with a product or brand and found that you wanted to be, do, or look the same? Companies create this subconscious connection in advertising hoping that you associate your positive feelings with the product or service they’re promoting.

Catchy songs like “Nationwide is on your side” is an example of helping people associate friendliness with the Nationwide brand. Coca-Cola has a brand advertising campaign that associates their product with friends, family, and fun. When you consider what refreshments to serve at a party or bring on a picnic, Coca-Cola wants you to think of them.

As you create your advertisements, consider what feelings, desires, or goals with which you want your brand to be associated. Weave these feelings or goals into your advertisements through stories or videos. Look for influencers who align with your brand’s core values and demeanor and include them to promote positive association.

Establish a Bandwagon Effect

People want to fit in. It’s human nature. Neither you nor I are immune to it.

And it’s this base human desire that makes the bandwagon effect so effective. People don’t want to be left out. They find value in their peers’ opinions, and they certainly don’t want to be the only ones not using the latest and greatest product.

Brands like Maybelline understand this concept well and use it to their advertising advantage. One tube of their top-selling mascara is purchased every two seconds, a statistic that establishes social proof and further supports their claim of “America’s Favorite Mascara.”

advertising-maybelline

Use customer testimonials, survey data, or shareable content to advertise your brand as one worth following or buying into. Take another approach by promoting a discount for sharing your brand with a friend or family member — so your audience will do the selling for you. Either way, use your advertising to create an inclusive environment people will want to join.

Focus on Benefits Over Features

Features and benefits are two very different things. Features are the details of the product or service you’re selling, such as the measurements of a couch or the ingredients of a protein bar. Benefits, on the other hand, explain why a person should buy a couch or protein bar from you and how their life would, well, benefit from such a purchase.

Advertising should focus on the benefit your product or service brings, not explain what you’re physically selling.

Consider how Southwest Airlines advertises. Instead of explaining, line by line, what a Business Select ticket offers, Southwest paints a picture of what life would be like if you made a purchase. In this advertisement, they focus on the benefits.

advertising-southwest

Rather than wasting precious ad space on your product specifications or service details, talk about the ways a purchase might positively impact your customers. If you do it right, your creative, benefit-packed advertisement would then inspire them to research the features on their own.

Use Storytelling

Not unlike our desire to fit in is our penchant for a good story. Storytelling helps paint a bigger picture of a brand or company, not simply promote a single product or service. Also, when stories resonate with someone, it’s far easier to motivate him or her to take action.

Storytelling is the one technique you should try to infuse in all your advertising. In fact, if you haven’t started crafting your brand’s overall story, you should definitely do so. Research shows that stories that illustrate a brand as “necessary, believable, and integral” are the most effective for engaging and influencing consumers.

Dove employs storytelling in its campaign partnership with Operation Homefront. The videos feature real stories of military men and their families being reunited. The advertisements don’t directly promote Dove products but instead tell the Dove brand story (and pull on a few heartstrings, too).

Determining your brand story will help you learn how to best discuss your brand in all marketing efforts, not just advertising.

Next, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable ad campaigns, a few of which put these best practices in action.

Five Memorable Ad Campaigns

The best advertisements are the best teachers. Whether it’s the copywriting, design, medium, or target audience, well-executed campaigns can always teach you something new about advertising or positioning. (Consider Westinghouse Electric’s “We Can Do It” ad…)

Here are five campaigns that left a noticeable mark on advertising history:

Nike: Just Do It

In the late 1980s, Nike launched their “Just Do It” campaign.

At the time, Reebok was outselling Nike, and Nike needed to act fast to compete against the sneaker conglomerate.

But it wasn’t just the three-word phrase that earned global attention. Their new ad campaign also focused on real people wearing and working out in their products, as opposed to simply featuring clothes and sneakers themselves.

advertising-nike

This powerful combination of people plus product helped Nike go from $800 million in 1988 to $9.2 billion just 10 years later.

The Absolut Vodka Bottle

Did you know Absolut’s “Bottles in the Wild” ad series is the longest uninterrupted campaign in history? The campaign was Absolut’s attempt to grow their name internationally, especially throughout the United States. It featured the Absolut bottle in different cities and countries worldwide.

advertising_absolut1-1

It launched in 1985 and ran until 2000 — lasting an impressive 25 years.

Absolut’s campaign helped grow the company from a tiny slice of the vodka market share (2.5%) to over half the U.S. imported market share.

To this day, the Absolut brand is the fourth largest spirit company, thanks to their focus on the overall story, not just the product itself.

Miller Lite

The folks at Miller Lite used differentiation to reach their goal: to get “real men” to willingly drink light beers. With their “Great Taste, Less Filling” campaign, they maintained a leading position in the light beer market for several decades after this first campaign aired.

advertising-miller

Volkswagen

Though Volkswagen has officially discontinued its production of Beetles, its iconic “Think Small” campaign will be forever ingrained in advertising history.

Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB) advertising agency knew it had to change the mind of consumers if it wanted to compete with industry leaders. So, VW admitted that though the Beetle was, in fact, tiny, it was still a force to be reckoned with and worth a purchase.

advertising-volkswagen

Authenticity and honesty went a long way in this seemingly small campaign.

Dos Equis

With its edgy, cool, and sophisticated aesthetic, it’s no surprise “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign put Dos Equis on the map.

This campaign created a positive association between the Dos Equis beer and the feeling of sophistication and poise. Sales quickly jumped by 22% after the campaign launched.

advertising-dosequis

Even more impressive was how Dos Equis found success in a time when craft beers grabbed a foothold in the market and imported beer took a 4% hit. This campaign was major component of that success.

To learn how to grab the attention of your audience, learn from the professionals. These campaigns are a great example of how brands have used real stories, real people, and real talk to grow their businesses.

Advertising Helps You Grow Better

Equipped with a dense, dynamic history, advertising is an incredible tool to add to your marketing tool box.

Between print ads, radio sponsorship, TV commercials, and social media promotion, the opportunities to advertise and promote your brand are endless.

To best connect and engage with your audience, speak your customer’s language, appeal to their emotions, and tap into their desire to be a part of a community, create a clear and authentic brand story to illustrate how your brand aligns with their values.

By applying these tried and true practices to your advertising, you’ll build a magnetic brand that attracts customers, establishes a following, and generates revenue.

Do this and your brand will grow into a household name that stands the test of time — just like advertising itself.