Southampton’s Luke Shaw is still on Chelsea’s radar as a possible long-term replacement for Ashley Cole, the Sunday Mirror say.It is claimed Ryan Bertrand will be given more first-team opportunities next season and that Shaw, who recently signed a new contract at St Mary’s, remains of interest.The Sunday People say David Beckham will try to convince Cole and other high-profile English players to finish their career in the United States.And Everton boss David Moyes is again linked with the manager’s job at Chelsea, this time by the Daily Star Sunday.Moyes wants to sign Barnsley defender John Stones for £2m, the People say.Fulham are said to have made an approach for the highly-rated 18-year-old along with Sunderland.Meanwhile, Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace have offered contracts to Kieron Dyer following his release by QPR, according to The Sun on Sunday.It is claimed Boro manager Tony Mowbray, who played alongside Dyer at Ipswich Town, is willing to pay him £10,000 per game and that Palace’s former R’s boss Ian Holloway has also offered a pay-as-you-play deal.This page is regularly updated.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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
Fine goals from Ross McCormack and Matt Smith gave Fulham the advantage despite Wigan controlling much of the play.The Whites began the game brightly and went in front after only four minutes.Sean Kavanagh rolled the ball to McCormack, who curled it brilliantly around Scott Carson from the edge of the box for his 13th goal of the season.But Wigan, in Gary Caldwell’s first game as manager, found their way back into the game and also converted their first chance, after 20 minutes.Having been restored to the starting line-up, Jermaine Pennant fired in a free-kick past Marcus Bettinelli after Scott Parker had fouled James McClean.With Fulham on the back foot for much of the half, McCormack almost grabbed his second, only to be denied at the last moment by a sliding challenge from Harry Maguire.And it was his strike partner who put Fulham ahead again 10 minutes before the break.Smith found a pocket of space 30 yards out and unleashed a sublime shot into the top corner to give the Whites an undeserved half-time lead.Fulham: Bettinelli; Grimmer, Turner, Burn, Husband; Hoogland, Parker, Tunnicliffe, Kavanagh; Smith, McCormack. Subs: Kiraly, Stafylidis, Hutchinson, Ruiz, Kačaniklić, Woodrow, Rodallega.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
No more specialists.I started doing internet marketing eight years ago in June 1999, when I joined a consumer retail dot-com company. Back then, there were only some rudimentary tools for doing marketing online. You had to have some level of technical understanding to be good at online marketing, and to effectively measure and track everything you were doing, you needed to tie together a bunch of different tools, reports and spreadsheets to get decent metrics. At that time, most people were not familiar with the terminology and techniques for online marketing. If you had a year or two of experience, you were a valuable commodity. The “traditional” marketing professionals looked at online marketing with some combination of disdain, curiosity and fear, seeing it as some sort of magic practiced by 24 year olds with spiked hair and mock turtlenecks. Internet marketing was special because you needed a specialist to do it.So, why do I say Internet marketing is dead? Because the time of the specialist is over. There is no such thing anymore as “Internet marketing.” It’s just marketing. Just like we discuss print ads, we should discuss banner ads, just like we create direct mail, we should create pay per click search ads. But the use of specialists who only do online marketing needs to end. Everyone who does marketing should be empowered with simple and easy-to-use tools to let them use the Internet for marketing.Why are there still millions of Internet marketing specialists and SEO and SEM firms? Because people still think Internet marketing is black magic and something only specialists can do. Because there is no simple system to create, manage and measure everything you need to do to effectively market on the internet. The average person cannot easily leverage online marketing. Not yet.Marketers need a set of tools that are made for the way they work, not the way techie and Internet-savvy people work. The ability to have a website that helps you do search engine optimization (SEO) automatically, manages your search engine marketing, makes building landing pages a snap and automatically optimizes conversion programs on your website. A system that gives you as much data as possible about your website visitors, and presents that data to you in a format that means something to you and helps you actually act on it to get results. This is especially true for the millions and millions of small businesses who don’t have the luxury of a huge marketing staff and an IT department.This brings me to why I am here, with my first post on this blog. I believe in the online marketing tools that HubSpot is building, and cannot wait to work with the team to bring the next generation of software tools to marketers everywhere, and put an end the difference between marketing and Internet marketing.What do you think? In this day and age, is Internet marketing really that different from marketing in general? Isn’t it time that there were simple tools to allow everyone to do online marketing? How long with the “specialists” survive? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Mar 2, 2007 2:35:00 AM, updated October 01 2019
Doing It Right “ChrisHeuer and his wife Kristy, run the Social Media Club. They wanted tofind a way to save money on hotels in Paris. They found a house forrent, which cost something around 5,000 Euros, and they got severalsponsors, largely PayPal, to pick up most of the costs for the house,which they branded “the Social Media Club House.”” @ Intro in your tweet. mvolpe “CarnivalCruise Line is introducing a new social media policy in 2010 thatprohibits partners from using any Carnival trademark or intellectualproperty on social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin – without prior written approval.” Download the free kit Special Guest: Marketing Takeaway: with Subscribe in iTunes: , @ “BluDot, a furniture maker based in Minneapolis, found out with its “RealGood Experiment,” which it developed with branding firm Mono. Theexperiment was equal parts marketing campaign for the chairs, whichretail for $129, and research into the recession-friendly phenomenon of”curb mining” — the practice of nabbing household items left on streetcorners.” NOTE FROM THE PRODUCERS:We are doing a special Holiday episode live today Wednesday, December 23rd at 4:00pm ET. Check out the show at www.hubspot.tv. New day and time for HubSpot TV next week: December 23rd, 4PM Closing Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges Big brands turn to small blog houses for big results How to interact on Twitter: @ http://andrewmcafee.org A GPS Experiment Busts Street Thieves “All told, Blu Dot believes the experimentgenerated nearly 60 million Web impressions, including blogs andTwitter posts. Unique visitors to its site tripled in the first fewdays of the experiment.” Leverage Enterprise 2.0 thinking in your business. www.HubSpot.tv (Episode Length: 24 minutes, 41 seconds) Carnival Cruise Lines Releases a Restrictive New Social Media Policy for Travel Agents. amcafee Marketing Tip of the Week: Carnival Titanics Their Marketing “Whatwould happen if a furniture company left 24 designer chairs, manyequipped with GPS tracking technology, on the streets of New York?” 5 Business Benefits of Twitter’s New Feature ‘Contributors’ (Launching Soon!) http://itunes.hubspot.tv/ and @ Episode #71 – December 18, 2009 amcafee Andrew McAfee Marketing Takeaway: Marketing in a Downturn Strategy Kit Big Brands Playing Small Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack “Pepsi’sSuper Bowl streak is over after a 23-year run. Ads for the drinks won’tappear in next year’s Super Bowl on CBS. Instead, the company plans toshift ad dollars to a new marketing effort that’s mostly online.” “There was some concern it wouldn’tmake an impression beyond “design hipsters,” but Blu Dot found it wasgetting attention from the tech community, including Fast Company and asecurity blog.” “Twitterwill be releasing a new feature called “Contributors,” which allowsmultiple users to contribute to a single company Twitter account.(Woohoo!)” Twitter Encourages Contribution “What didPayPal get? Mentions on our blogs and Twitter accounts, but a privatedinner where they got to know us away from the hustle and bustle oftheir show floor exhibit.” karenrubin Small is the new big. Richer relationships with fewer people trumps interruption advertising to millions. You can’t control your brand, and doing so limits your exposure. for tips and tricks to generate more leads efficiently and inexpensively. Pepsi turns ad focus online Headlines Learn how to get the most out of a tight marketing budget. “ShipperFedEx also said Thursday it will not advertise again in the Super Bowldue to costs, the same reason the company gave for sitting it out lasttime around.” Make sure you have both individual and company Twitter accounts! Originally published Dec 23, 2009 3:00:00 PM, updated July 04 2013 Marketing Takeaway:
Originally published Feb 4, 2016 5:23:00 PM, updated August 02 2017 Topics: Facebook Marketing Data
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack MarketingSherpa reports that 60% of marketers have fewer than 10 landing pages on their website. But the more landing pages you have, the more opportunities you have to generate leads. So what gives?Well, before you generate leads, before you create a landing page, before you even craft your call-to-action, you need something to offer your leads. You know, something worth redeeming in exchange for their contact information. The problem is, creating content takes time, which might be why so few marketers are utilizing landing pages to their fullest extent.So what’s a time-crunched marketer to do? The time for excuses is over, because there are ways to create valuable marketing offer content quickly; it just takes a little out-of-the box thinking. Use these shortcuts to create new offer content, quickly build a new landing page (following these landing page best practices, of course), and start generating more qualified leads for your business!Blog BundleIf you’re a dedicated inbound marketer, you’re probably blogging on a regular basis and have built up a great arsenal of short-form content. And while each new blog post you publish continues to work for you in search engines, eventually they get buried with all the new content you publish. A blog bundle — a compilation of your best blog posts around a given topic — is a great way to resurface your best blog content and simultaneously create a new lead-gen offer.Select a theme around which to structure the blog bundle, preferably around a topic that aligns with leads that convert at a high rate. HubSpot, for example, might not (depending on our analytics, of course) want to choose “inbound marketing” as a topic for a blog bundle; not only is it far too broad to be helpful, but perhaps leads that download content about inbound marketing as a general concept don’t close at a very high rate. But let’s say leads that find HubSpot via search terms related to SEO and download content about SEO convert at an extremely high rate — that’d be an excellent topic to select for a blog bundle offer!If you use tags on your blog to categorize content, simply search the tags to pull up all of your content related to the topic you select. Alternatively, you can perform a site search by typing site:www.insertblogURL.com “insert search term” into Google to resurface the content. Choose only your best blog content, and try to select a mix of blog posts that cover all angles of your subject.Data CompilationIt sounds sacrilegious, but there are inbound marketers out there that would rather kick a puppy than create a piece of content. That puts them in quite a pickle when tasked with creating offer content. But research and data — especially when it’s original — is a content goldmine that makes for a fantastic offer with very little writing required.Do you perform your own research about your industry that you could share with leads? Do your partners or affiliates? Alternatively, do you stay up-to-date on third-party research that would interest your audience, like analyst reports? Combine all of this interesting research and data into a lead gen offer (just make sure you have the permission to first). For an example of offer content centered around data, check out our 100 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts, and Graphs, or our annual State of Inbound Marketing in 2012 Report.Presentation SlidesSo you just gave an awesome presentation to your boss, colleagues, clients, or even at a speaking gig. Don’t let those slides go to waste. Turn your .ppt into an offer for those who couldn’t attend the live presentation, or who would benefit from consuming the content in your presentation. All you have to do is edit your slides slightly to be applicable to a wider audience!For example, your presentation may have proprietary internal data, or perhaps you customized it with your client’s logo — audit your presentation for these details so the content appeals to a general audience. Then go through each slide and ask yourself whether the content of the slide is self explanatory. If you made heavy use of the “Notes” section or explained many concepts verbally, edit the slides to include that extra information that those who didn’t hear your presentation live would need to get value from the slides.Rework Existing Offers for PersonasInstead of starting from scratch, why not make the offer content you already have more targeted by better aligning it with your buyer personas? This will not only help you generate new leads, but also drive more reconversions in your lead nurturing — in fact, Aberdeen Group found a 10% improvement in conversion rates for more personalized lead nurturing emails.Identify the best offer content you have, ideally one in each stage of the sales cycle — awareness, evaluation, and purchase. You’ll be able to identify which offer content is best by visiting your marketing analytics, and selecting those with the best conversion rates. Content from the awareness stage should have a high visitor-to-lead conversion rate; content from the evaluation stage should have a high rate of reconversion; and content from the purchase stage should have a high lead-to-customer conversion rate.Once you’ve identified the best offers, you can simply update the language and layout to cater to each persona’s interests and needs. For example, you might change an offer targeted at a C-suite executive to be shorter, use a more professional tone, and provide less tactical and more strategic advice. On the other hand, the same offer targeted at a mid-level manager might go into more detail, use less industry jargon, and focus on the nitty gritty tactics of your solution.You can learn more about how to adjust the content of your existing offers in our blog post that breaks down how to tailor lead nurturing content to different buyer personas.Update Out-of-Date OffersJust as you can update existing content to be better targeted, your old offers should be updated and relaunched, positioned as a more current piece of content. Even your most evergreen content will likely need to be polished up as data and statistics become out of date and new advancements are made in your industry that would be useful to add to the content.At HubSpot, for example, we make a regular practice of updating ebooks. Take our ebook, 15 Business Blogging Mistakes & Easy Fixes. There weren’t originally 15 mistakes in that ebook; there were only 13. But over time, it became clear the content could be more comprehensive, so we added in two more problems and solutions. Then, we gave the graphics a much needed facelift (optional), and relaunched the offer by writing new blog posts about blogging (how meta) and using the ebook in our lead nurturing emails.Record an InterviewValuable content comes in forms other than the written word, so here’s another idea for those inbound marketers who don’t fancy writing. Record an interview, either on video or, if you’re camera shy, just audio. HubSpot did this on, ironically, the subject of whether content should live behind a form in HubSpot Debate: Should You Put Your Content Behind Forms? In the video, CMO Mike Volpe and Marketer-in-Residence David Meerman Scott discuss whether it’s better for content to be form-free; the discussion lasted about a half an hour, but yours certainly doesn’t have to. Simply take 10 or 15 minutes to tackle an interesting topic with a co-worker or industry expert, record the discussion, and create a landing page that summarizes the points that will be covered in the recording!FAQ-Driven EbookCan’t find a chunk of time long enough to devote to ebook writing? Or is the prospect of doing a deep dive into one topic too overwhelming? Take the FAQ approach to your next piece of long-form content. The FAQ approach is a common one I take when writing blog posts — after speaking with co-workers in departments like Sales, Support, and Consulting, I aggregate questions that leads and customers commonly ask and note them for future blog topics.You can do this for an ebook, too! Ask employees who are on the front lines with leads and customers every day to jot down common questions they receive and send them your way so you can progressively write your ebook; alternatively, ask them to write down their answers to the questions, leveraging the power of the team to create your next piece of offer content. Soon, you’ll have “[Your Company]’s Answers to [Your Industry]’s Burning Questions.” Okay, maybe I’ll leave the title brainstorming to you.Turn How-To Content Into ChecklistsMany marketers get hung up on length when creating offer content, but length is never an indicator of quality or usefulness. In fact, it’s important to create content in different formats, since not everyone consumes content in the same way. So take your how-to, action-oriented content, and turn it into a downloadable checklist.Let’s take HubSpot’s blog post, “9 Questions you MUST Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Blogger,” for example. The post goes into lots of detail about why it’s important to ask each question and how each interviewee’s answer should be structured. But once a reader understands these concepts, they really just need a reminder of what those 9 questions are. After all, they’re not going to remember all 9 questions every time they go into an interview. Repurposing this content in a checklist format with a call-to-action that says, “Download Your Business Blogger Interview Guide” is a perfect way to repurpose this how-to content in a way that’s quick for you, and helpful, bookmarkable content for your reader.Create TemplatesJust as checklists help your leads perform recurring tasks with more ease, there may be templates you can create for your leads in Excel, Word, Photoshop, etc. that would help them do something easier or better. For example, a tax accountant might prepare a spreadsheet with formulas that helps calculate common deductions. Or maybe an event coordinator could create templates of room layouts for the city’s most popular event spaces. HubSpot’s CMO Mike Volpe created a template for marketers to complete their leads waterfall graph, which can be found in our blog post that explains it in more detail. Ask yourself what problems your leads and customers encounter, and whether there are templates you can quickly create and offer for download to make that job easier.Ask the ExpertsYou may not have all the answers, but perhaps you have trusted colleagues, industry contacts, or even followers and fans on your social media accounts who do. Select a controversial topic or difficult problem many in your industry face, and ask your network for their take on the issue. Then bundle their responses and advice into one piece of content — it can be visual like our 54 Pearls of Marketing Wisdom, or if you’re not comfortable with graphic design, written and nicely formatted like a whitepaper or ebook.Turn a Live Presentation Into a Webinar OfferNext time you host a live presentation or webinar, be sure to record it so you can leverage the offer well after the live audience disperses. This is some seriously low-hanging fruit content that should be turned into a lead generating offer. We record all of our public presentations so they can be used as offers at a later date. Remember, not everyone can attend these sessions live, but it doesn’t mean they’re not interested in the content.And if your webinar didn’t go as well live as it did during rehearsal, no worries. You can always set aside an hour to re-record the presentation that you turn into the offer — you know, without the live audience and technical difficulties.Create Co-Branded ContentIf you’re short on time, why not divide up the responsibility of creating offer content with someone in your industry who is looking to get exposure to your audience? For example, our ebook, How to Generate Leads Using LinkedIn was co-written by HubSpot’s Anum Hussain and Jamie Turner, founder of 60-Second Marketer. This approach works well for other content formats, too, particularly webinars. Partner up to host a webinar with someone in your industry whose audience you’d like exposure to. You can use the recording to generate leads on your own site, and include a call-to-action at the end of the webinar to encourage action from the new audience to whom you’re speaking.There’s Always OutsourcingIf you can’t find the time or inclination to create offer content, you can always outsource content creation. You can build all the calls-to-action and landing pages in the world, but without valuable content to make redemption worthwhile, your lead generation will quickly dry up. Leverage these shortcuts for creating lead generation content, or if time is really your most precious resource, get in touch with a qualified freelance writer to keep your content creation going.What tricks and shortcuts do you use to create valuable offer content in a time crunch?Image credit: Andres Rueda Lead Generation Originally published Mar 21, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Topics:
Topics: Originally published Jul 5, 2012 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 We all love watching videos online. From an animal doing something adorable to a how-to segment on cooking a meal, people are constantly watching and sharing them with friends. In fact, over 4 billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube, and over 60 hours of video are watched per minute. Chances are, your potential customers are among those 4 billion watching videos today.Which is why your boss asks you to make a video. Oh, and can you make it go viral, too? First of all, what a frustrating question; virality can never, ever be guaranteed. But there are some common qualities to many of the viral videos out there that we’ve started to notice. And those qualities can be replicated to increase the chance that your video might join the ranks of the other viral successes out there. Read through the tips in this blog post to learn how to create a high quality video, as told through the stories of other online video successes out there — and who knows, it may just result in your own viral video!Keep it ShortAccording to the New York Times, 44% of people lost interest in a video after 60 seconds. So it looks like shorter videos are more likely to keep people’s attention, which means increased social sharing for your video. For an example of a short but effective video, take a look at this video of an owner teasing a dog about food, which received 25 million views in the first five days, and currently has over 110 million views to date.The video is under 90 seconds long, and has the entertainment factor of a talking dog. Come on, who doesn’t love dogs? It’s also perfect to share with friends, because the point of the video is obvious in the first few seconds, so it doesn’t require explanation or context. Keep your videos similarly short and to-the-point, and you’ll see those video views creep up.Demonstrate a Strong, Consistent Brand PersonaYour goal is to get people to immediately think of you when they see the person or object portrayed in the video, so your video needs to clearly demonstrate your brand to viewers. To do this, first create a clear picture of what you people think about your brand — and what you want them to think. If you sell men’s clothing, but people are actually buying your apparel because of the lifestyle it promotes, creating a video about high quality clothing will not do as well as a video about the awesome lifestyle that men who wear your brand have.Take a look at the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, for example. With Isaiah Mustafa, it made a very strong connection between Old Spice products and the manly persona men want to be like, and that women want in a man. And they did it in all of their videos. He always remained in character, and was such a strong parallel to the brand that it actually become humorous — never a bad thing for video virality! It resulted in over 290 million channel views to date, and over 35 million views within the first 7 days of launch.The Old Spice campaign was entertaining, but still portrayed the characteristics men want to be, and women want in men — what Old Spice wanted to be associated with. Create a persona that can be easily identified with your brand, then find a way to embody like Old Spice did — through mascots, tag lines, copy, everything!Is That Real?Creating a video that makes people ask, “Is that real?” is a great way to increase a video’s social shares — if people see something unbelievable, you can be they’ll be sharing it to get others’ two cents. The eHarmony “cat lady” is a perfect example of this, plus it brought brand awareness to eHarmony in a humorous way. This video, created by a comedian, was so outrageous and unbelievable that people wanted to show it to their friends; it received over 2 million views the first day, and now has more than 22 million views.Why did this gem go viral? The video was so crazy people had to share it with their friends and debate the validity behind it. The lesson here is that crazy content — that can still relate to your brand, of course — is a one way ticket to online video success. So think to yourself: Is there anything in my industry I could parody that millions can relate to?Hilarious ContentWe’ve mentioned it a couple times already, but if you make people laugh with your video, it’s far more likely it will get shared socially. Just remember to create content that’s not only funny to you, but entertaining for your customers as well. The talking babies video, for example, went viral in 2011 with 20 million views in the first ten days, and over 70 million views to date. The video depicts two babies talking in a language of their own, quite the unusual sight, indeed! This video was appealing to an extremely wide audience, thus making it easy to share with friends and rack up those high view counts.Another thing to keep in mind when creating funny videos is that you don’t actually have to directly promote anything — though you could if you’re able to make people laugh despite the blatant promotion, like Old Spice did. This video could have been used for a variety of baby products to increase brand awareness; just focus on finding material that’s universally entertaining and unique.Newsjack With ParodyMaking a parody of a popular event, person, or song to reflect your company or product will create an interesting video people may be more likely to share with friends — because it’s based off of something millions already recognize and love. The video “Barack Obama Singing Call Me Maybe” parody, for instance, has over 17 million views in under four weeks, making it one of the most viral videos in 2012.Not only does this video play on the nation’s president — bold move — but it also uses the most viral song to date, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe” which is #1 on YouTube with over 100 million views. Hey, sometimes using pop-culture can help your video go viral, and there’s no shame in utilizing it!Leverage User-Generated ContentLetting your customers or fans get in on the content creation is a great way to generate a successful video. Not only will you save time, but you’ll engage customers and encourage sharing — a great boost for your reach and reputation. Content contests are an easy way to get the content you need, and allow users to engage with the brand while using word-of-mouth to spread the message to others within their social networks. If it’s feasible for your product or service, a contest can increase your reach to people you originally would not have been able to reach with your own marketing. If you can, have other fans vote on the winning video, further increasing the reach of your campaign!Aflac did this in 2012, when they created the “10 Second Challenge” in which users were asked to create a short video explaining what Aflac meant to them. The prize was internet fame and $25,000. Over 180 video submissions were entered, which resulted in 250,000 video views on Facebook and thousands more to date on YouTube. Letting your users create content for you can save you time, and because of their pride in their work, the result may be more creative than you could have ever imagined!What other qualities of viral videos did we miss here? Have you ever created an extremely successful online video?Image credit: googlisti Don’t forget to share this post! 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“But I write about mortgages (or some other similarly ‘boring’ topic) — there’s no way I can possibly make my content fun to read.” For many of you in the B2B boat, this is probably an excuse you can easily relate to.But I’m going to fight you on this one because, hey, I’m a B2B content creator, too. And we sell marketing software over here — not exactly the sexiest product to peddle, if you ask me. But we’ve heard time and time again from our readers that they love coming back to our content because we make it fun and interesting to read about marketing.Even companies in “boring” industries need to create content. But the thing is, people who read about mortgages aren’t waking up one day thinking, “I think I’m going to read about mortgages today!” They read that content because they need information about mortgages — maybe because they’re considering buying a house. So why not make the otherwise boring, tedious process of reading about mortgages (or insert your industry here) a little bit more interesting — maybe even fun — for them? After all, everyone loves being entertained, right? And injecting a little bit more fun into your content might even set it apart from some of your competitors’ truly boring content.So without further ado, here are 10 smart ways to make your content more fun to read.10 Ways to Make Your Content More Fun to Read1) Tell a StoryYou may be writing about some boring industry concept, but that doesn’t mean you can’t weave in a little storytelling. Telling stories or anecdotes is a great way to engage your readers and make your content relatable. It also makes your reader realize that behind that stuffy industry concept is a real person who’s writing it.Don’t be afraid to draw from personal experiences — just be sure they relate back and transition well to the topic of your content. Here’s an example of how a colleague of mine, Ginny Soskey, incorporated a personal anecdote to set the stage for the 10 free design tools she highlighted in this post:2) Crack a JokeThis one is a little tougher, as it requires a sense of humor 😉 That being said, you don’t have to be the funniest person in the world to make readers smile here and there. Sometimes, your choice of words or a little parenthetical quip will do the trick. Just loosen up, be yourself, and if you’re not sure whether something is actually humorous, run it by an honest co-worker. Take a look at how my colleague Corey Eridon cracks a joke in a post about a pretty dry topic (CAN-SPAM).3) Use Your Introduction WiselyThe intro of your content is one of your best (and easiest) opportunities to be creative and fun. What’s more, this is the perfect place to do it, since you want your introduction to be compelling and interesting enough to get your readers’ attention (no easy feat, believe me).And, hey — whaddya know? Intros also happen to be great places for cracking jokes and telling stories! You can also consider being empathetic or coming up with another creative way to introduce the reader to what lies in the content ahead of them. The goal is to get the reader to emotionally connect with or relate to the content so they want to keep reading. For more tips about writing great introductions — and an example of a great introduction in and of itself — check out our post, “How to Write an Introduction.”4) Watch Your ToneBoring topics will sound even more boring if you write with a bland tone. In most cases, you can get away with a conversational, informal tone in your writing — especially if the writing is going on a blog, not in an academic paper. Think about how you would communicate with someone verbally, and adopt that tone in your writing. Your readers will thank you for content that, albeit educational, is also easy to read and get through. Isn’t the following so much more enjoyable to read than it would’ve been had we stopped after that first little paragraph?5) Use Fun, Hypothetical Examples On the content team, we like to call these “unicorn examples.” Here’s why: For a while here at HubSpot, we had kind of a unicorn thing going on. The unicorn even turned into somewhat of a mascot for us (we called him Hu). In any event, every time we were looking to enhance our blog content with a hypothetical example to explain a concept more clearly, the example went something like this:Off the wall and totally fun, but still very relevant and helpful in getting our readers to understand how to use analytics to identify the topics they should be blogging about — the topic of the post it appeared in.This approach works particularly well when you’re writing for a variety of personas, because it levels the playing field (since you’re using an example that doesn’t just apply to one particular persona and not the rest).6) Hijack a MemeI’m not gonna lie — I loooove memejacking. Meme-what, you ask? If you’re not familiar, a meme is quite simply a concept, behavior, or idea that spreads, usually via the internet. Memes most commonly manifest themselves in visuals such as images, pictures, or videos, but they can also take the form of a link, hashtag, a simple word or phrase (e.g. an intentional misspelling), or even an entire website. If you’re still having some trouble grasping the concept, check out some of these popular memes. I bet you’ll recognize a few.What’s great about doing some memejacking in your content is the fact that memes are inherently fun, engaging, and wildly popular. But how exactly does one “hijack” a meme? Luckily, we’ve written a detailed blog post on the subject that provides some great memejacking tips and tricks. The great thing is, you can either go big like Moz, which announced its Series B funding through an entirely meme-themed news release …… or like we did with our post about marketing pick-up lines, as told through popular memes.Perhaps you can be a little bit more subtle, sprinkling in a meme reference here and there to add a little fun to your content, like we did in our recent post about what the best bloggers do: 7) Incorporate Pop Culture ReferencesSpeaking of popular memes, how about a little pop culture reference to liven up your content? Here’s an example of how we did this recently in a post about Google’s move to encrypt all keyword search data — not exactly the most uplifting article for marketers, but there was no sense in us being total Debbie Downers about it. A little humor, it turns out, is a great way to help cope with bad news :-)Just be mindful of your target audience with this one (and come to think of it, with memejacking, too). If the majority of your audience won’t have any idea who or what you’re referencing, it’ll be a total flop. Now, you won’t be able to appeal to everyone, but use your best judgment and keep your personas in mind when making pop culture references like these.8) Get Creative With Images You know what they say: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Imagery is not only a great way to improve the social shareability of your content, but it can also add a little fun to it, too. Take some extra care in choosing images for your content. Can you use them to enhance a joke you made or crack a new one? Can you simply select a relevant image that’s already funny in and of itself? Can you overlay a caption or add a clever thought/talk bubble like we did in the example below (which can be found in this blog post)? Don’t be afraid to get creative! (Image Credit: horslips5)Just be sure you have the right permissions to use, adapt, or modify the images you’re using. Use photos appropriately licensed under Creative Commons (but be careful), or purchase stock photos. (Bonus: We have 235 stock photos available to download for free here and here that you can adapt however you’d like!)9) Add a GIFHow fun is the GIF pictured below? Writing Skills Originally published Oct 2, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated August 27 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack We added it to the blog post and landing page for our marketing trivia game offer to give it a little oomph and emphasize its game show-esque look and feel. Animated GIFs are great for catching readers’ attention and making your content just a little bit more interesting. To learn how to create an animated GIF, check out this simple how-to blog post. And to learn more about how to use them in your marketing, this post will do the trick.10) Hide Easter Eggs No, I’m not talking about colorful, hard-boiled eggs here. In the internet world, an Easter egg refers to “an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature.” And from the reader’s perspective, there’s nothing more fun than a well-hidden Easter egg. You know why? Because there’s a sense of exclusivity associated with them. It also makes you feel wicked smart when you actually discover one! Hiding Easter eggs adds a fabulous level of interactivity to your content, and it’s also a great way to engage your readers and get them to come back.One of my favorite Easter egg examples was hidden in the launch campaign for the return season of Arrested Development. In these examples, the brilliant marketers of the show hid messages to fans — quotes from character Tobias Fünke — in the code of the microsites that were created for the campaign:(The above message reads, “Are you looking at my privates? Shame on YOU sir!”)You don’t have to get as fancy as hiding messages in your website’s source code either — even just hidden messages that certain personas or long-time readers of your content would “get” can be a fun, yet simple, approach. Just be sure that any Easter eggs you hide not only appeal to your target audience, but also enhance (not take away from) your content.What other suggestions do you have for injecting more “fun” into your content?
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Writing Skills Topics: Originally published Mar 31, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 A few weeks ago, a couple HubSpotters and I were talking about something people do all the time, but shouldn’t. You’ll be in a meeting with your team, and suddenly it comes time for you offer up your opinion.“I could be wrong, but I think …” or“I just want to say …” or“I actually think …” or “This is probably a stupid question, but …” or“I’m not sure, but …”It’s called couching. You’re trying to make other people feel comfortable and not come across too strong. In certain situations, it’s a great tactic. But in other situations, it can make you seem weak and wishy-washy.Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts, infographics, and more. Often this happens when you speak, but if you’re trying to write like you speak (because that’s how you should be writing) phrases like these will creep into your blog posts, ebooks, emails, infographics, social posts, and pretty much any other marketing material you write. But why do we even couch in the first place? Should you ever intentionally couch? How do you strike the balance in your writing between being helpful and pushy? What other things can you do in your writing instead of couching?To get to the bottom of this, a group of HubSpotters got together and asked ourselves questions like these. Below are some of the solutions we found — test to see which ones feel natural in your writing style.Why We CouchTone and voice are incredibly important elements of your writing. Couching phrases have the biggest effect on these two writing elements — and not always in a good way. Three common scenarios in which writers might couch are:When we’re not sure we’re right.When we don’t want to come across as arrogant.When we want people to like us.When we’re concerned about how people perceive us, couching is much more likely to creep in. When you’re writing, this is even more likely to happen — you’re worried from the moment you start writing about how your audience will perceive the piece, leaving natural room to couch. Most times, it’s counterproductive, making your arguments sound weak.Other times, it can actually be beneficial.When We Should CouchDepending on the situation, adding couching phrases could be beneficial. The key is to ensure you’re actively choosing to couch your writing — not letting it happen accidentally.Determining whether couching is appropriate for the situation all depends on what you’re trying to get out of your writing. Are you arguing with a high-profile commenter over a point in a blog post? Couching might be appropriate. Are you trying to communicate a point to an executive? Leave the couching behind. Every situation is different, so you’ll need to make the judgment call. As long as we’re aware that we’re couching and we know that it’s helping us maintain a relationship or get a positive response, it can be a helpful tool.How to Get Rid of Couching in Your WritingThere are lots of solutions here, but we all need to find one that works best for our personality and writing style. Here are a few that we came up with:1) Actively Search for and Remove Couching PhrasesKnow what couching phrase you write all the time that you shouldn’t? Before you hit publish, find and delete it in the post (type Control + F on a PC or Command + F on a Mac). If you really want to be aggressive about removing couching statements from your writing, penalize yourself for it. Maybe you set up a jar that you throw a dollar in anytime you catch the phrase in your writing. At the end of a month, you’ll likely have some decent change that you could donate or put to a team outing. Your teammates will appreciate your higher quality writing (and the cupcakes you bring in) from this tactic. 2) Be Empathetic, Then DirectAddress your audience’s fears and feelings before you unapologetically offer advice. Explaining how your readers feel shows that you understand them. Then, be very direct about why you disagree or believe something else.For example, you can say something like, “I know you often struggle to make time in the day for social media. It can feel distracting and silly compared to other marketing problems on your plate. That being said, it’s a crucial component of a successful inbound marketing strategy. You’re losing out on customers by not devoting time to it.”3) Use Data and Logic Instead of attacking your readers head-on with the “You’re wrong, I’m right, deal with it” approach, try using logic and/or data to frame your argument. Relying on facts makes it less likely that you’ll default to, “I could be wrong, but …”“After running an A/B test on our site, we found that CTAs with a blue button perform better than one with an orange button.”Or“I know your company goals are to focus on increasing your visit-to-lead conversion rate, so X project would be most effective to reach that goal because of Y.”Keeping emotion out of the equation makes your writing much more persuasive and strong. 4) Gut Check With PeersNot sure if you sound too aggressive … or not assertive enough? Run your writing by peers who’ll give you honest feedback before you hit “send” or “publish.” Plus, they can give you a heads up if there are any glaring typos or grammatical mistakes.5) Ask Rhetorical QuestionsI know we’re often told that rhetorical questions weaken writing, but they can actually help you remove your couching phrases in a conversational way. You’d write something like “Why do you spend so much time on Pinterest? With your B2B audience, you should look at ways to get ramped up on LinkedIn” instead of “I just think you should try out LinkedIn. I heard it could help your audience.” The former is strong, yet still conversational. Finding your personal writing solution to couching can be tough — I still have problems with couching in my writing despite compiling these tips from my coworkers into this post. With a little more awareness and some anti-couching solutions we can try ASAP, we all can take our writing to the next level in no time.
Originally published Oct 31, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated October 08 2019 Images If you knew something as easy as adding images to your blog posts would increase your readers, subscribers, followers, and leads, wouldn’t you do it every single time? According to Jeff Bullas, articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images. Ninety-four percent! If I were to tell you that you could expand your reach by 94% by doing something fairly simple, I’m guessing you wouldn’t think twice.Of course, “simple” is relative. I don’t mean you should take five minutes to scope out some stock photos and then insert them randomly into your posts. To get more eyeballs on your blog, you’ll have to be more strategic than that — and this blog post will help you get started with that strategy.Follow the eight tips below to learn data-driven tips that will help you squeeze the most value out of images in your blog posts.Download 6 Free Blog Post Templates Now8 Data-Driven Tips for Using Images in Blog Posts1) Use images of real people.In one of Jakob Nielsen’s usability studies, he discovered that pictures of people are one of the most engaging forms of web content.Nielsen’s data showed that users spent 10% more time looking at pictures of people on a page than they did reading the biographical content associated with the pictures. Even though the text content took up 316% more space, and was thus more quantitatively dominate, users preferred looking at the pictures.But Nielsen offers a critical disclaimer: Some types of pictures are completely ignored — typically the generic images that are purely decorative. To show this, he analyzed the image on the Yale School of Management website and discovered that the stock-style photo on the right side of the page received very few eye fixations:Describing it as “pure filler,” Nielsen advises using images that are relevant to the user experience. Images used in an article just for the sake of using an image can be unhelpful.But if the image has a purpose, like helping to explain a concept, emphasize a point, translate to an external page or email, or show personality, then it can only help you. For example, I use a headshot in my website because it’s a professional courtesy and an engagement marker.2) Combine photos and text to increase viewer retention and engagement.In a study conducted by Socialbakers, researchers discovered that images on Facebook constituted 93% of the most engaging posts, compared with status updates, links, and even video.Although this data is specific to Facebook, the principle holds true for blog content as well.The appeal of pictures is known as the “picture superiority effect.” According to the dual-coding theory, the human memory has two main forms of retention: verbal and imaginal (directly related to the word “image”). Images encode concepts onto our memory in a concrete way, rather than the abstract form of verbal concepts.This video from Digital Splash Media explains the picture superiority effect, making an overwhelming case for the importance of images.3) Optimize your images so they load quickly.Even though the days of dial-up sluggishness are behind us, we still crave quick load times. As you’re probably aware, quick load times are important for SEO — and the source of greatest lag are often clunky plugins and huge images.The optimal load time is still being debated. A study by Akamai says that two seconds is the “new threshold of acceptability for ecommerce web page response times.” According to their data, 47% of viewers want a two-second load time.In another study by the Nielsen Norman Group, users in a test were asked to look at a page with a large header image that took up 23% of the page. The picture below shows a gaze plot of a user looking at a landing page. The slider image (yellow) took eight seconds to load; as a result, the user spent a mere 1% of their time looking at the image.When the image loaded quickly, the user spent 20% of viewing time looking at the image.Surveys indicate that slow load times are one of the most-hated features of a website. Not only will you lose the value that the image could provide, but you’ll also plain old tick off users.A few seconds is all it takes for a user to lose interest and completely ignore the slow-loading image. You can’t control the user’s connection speed, but you can control the speed of your own website. Note: Hubspot recommends that photos should be smaller than 100KB in order to load quickly.4) Present information in visual formats, like infographics.Many studies have found that the human brain processes images much faster than text. This data coheres with the picture superiority effect, and its impact upon marketing is huge. Your readers will absorb your content far easier if you put it in picture form.According to Mike Parkinson, “the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process.” Showing is better than explaining in many cases.Let’s take a look at an example. Which of these is easier to understand?Most of you would say the leftmost depiction. It’s common to say, “I’m a visual learner,” as opposed to someone who learns better by reading or listening to information. The fact is, all of us our visual learners — our brains are wired that way.This data is one of the reasons why I’m a major proponent of using infographics as part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy. (Here are five free infographic templates in PowerPoint to get you started.)5) Use high quality images to establish credibility.In case you think that pictures are simply a way to increase engagement or interest, listen to this point: According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, overall visual design “was the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the presented material.” There are a lot of factors involved in “visual design,” but good quality images need to be present.6) Use images to support persuasive copy and in calls-to-action.A study from the University of Minnesota School of Management and the 3M Corporation analyzed the effectiveness of presentations that contained visual elements and those that did not. The presentations containing visual elements were 43% more effective at converting users to agree with their point of view.Ecommerce is all about the art of persuasion. We as marketers are trying to compel people to take a viewpoint, click a button, or make a purchase. Let’s not forget that we can become far more persuasive simply by using images.7) Position your lead image to the right or left of the first paragraph in your post.According to Buffer, people are more likely to read an article that have an inline image to the right or left of the leading paragraph.The pattern looks like this:Why is it effective? First of all, people are visually attracted to images. An image positioned in this way will invite eye paths to the image and the nearby text. Secondly, people are more likely to read short lines of text than long ones. When compared with lines of text below the image, the lines beside the image seem short. This means that people will be more inclined to read them. As Buffer stated, “The fewer the characters, the easier the text is to comprehend and the less complex it seems.”8) Use one image per 350 words.How many images should you have in your posts? I would suggest you use as many images as you need to in order to communicate your concepts clearly and accurately. According to a study by Blog Pros, in 100 of the highest ranking blogs on the internet, there was at least one image for every 350 words.We live in the age of the visual. From flat screens to smartphones, images are everywhere. As Lori Kozlowski commented in Forbes, “It’s likely we’ll only see a deeper connection to video and to visuals on the Web in the next few years.” People are connecting with your content not only based on what it says with text, but what it says in images, too.How are you using images in your content? Share with us in the comments below!Image Credit: NNgroup.com, NNgroup.com, Socialbakers, NNgroup.com Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! 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