And voila! No more sucky charts. Topics: Originally published Sep 30, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack MAKE MEANING! SMALL TASTY BITES! Excel Raise your hand if you love data.Now raise your hand if data presented like this makes you want to stick a fork in your eye:It’s colorful. It’s brimming with data. But HOLY HORSESHOE is it confusing!Having data is awesome. Using it to persuade others is powerful. Presenting it in a way that inspires eye-forking is criminal.Here are three simple design tips to help you make sexier, simpler charts that are sure to elicit applause and approval, not violence.TIP #1: Make friends with white space.Tempting as it is to fill your chart with every possible data point, detail, and label, there’s an extremely good reason to fight this urge: The human brain uses contrast to distinguish objects from one another. White space is one of the easiest, most elegant design tools that creates this contrast and increases the likelihood that your audience will grasp the point you’re trying to make.Compare this version of a basic bar chart with the one below it.CHART #1:CHART #2:By removing the grid lines and tick marks along both axes, as well as the value labels along the vertical axis, and deleting superfluous content from the bottom left corner, we’ve made it much easier to glance at this chart and see that more blogging results in a lot more leads.Which is a perfect segue into the next tip…TIP #2: Don’t just share data. MAKE MEANING!It’s common practice for charts to be labeled with a sentence that simply describes what data is being presented. In the example above, the title clearly states that what we’re looking at: The Impact of Blog Size on Monthly Leads.Fine, right?Wrong. To maximize the impact of your charts and graphs, don’t just state the obvious, explain why it matters. What’s the core point you’re trying to make? Is it that 52 or more blog articles per month yields an average of 23 leads?So? What action do you want your audience to take as a result of seeing this data?Blog more?So tell them that! Better yet, use a touch of color to draw their eye to the specific data element(s) that drive your point home.Now isn’t that better?Last but certainly not least, design tip #3…TIP #3: Serve bite-size pieces.Nobody likes biting off more than they can chew. Well, except for maybe this guy.Most of us, however, prefer tasty bite size morsels that we can savor and enjoy without unhinging our jaws.So instead of something like this:…consider chunking up the data into smaller pieces that are more easily digestible (and more effective at conveying your core message)……like so:Better, right?To summarize:MORE WHITE SPACE!
It may have been a shorter work week than usual, but the inbound marketing news sure didn’t slow down. Between new feature releases on your favorite (or maybe not) social networks, websites still recovering from the recent Google Penguin updates, and the usual thought-provoking inbound marketing content that fills our tweet streams, we have a lot to catch up on. So here’s a distilled version of all that industry awesomeness in case you missed it while trying to squeeze a five-day work week into four ;-)Recovering From an Over Optimization Penalty From SEOmozFirst, let’s visit Nick Eubanks at SEOmoz to learn more about the recent Penguin algorithm update from Google — if you haven’t read it yet, you can get a quick recap here. This post is useful because it gives us a step-by-step walkthrough of how an actual company who was dinged in the SERPs by the Penguin update recovered its listing positions. So if you or one of your clients is struggling with this problem right now, this post will give you insight into how you can begin to repair your organic search presence.Why Enterprise SEO Shouldn’t Focus Solely on Keywords From Search Engine LandContinuing on the SEO train, this blog post by Ian Lurie gives us insight into an oft-overlooked topic — how enterprise organizations should approach SEO. Because it’s different than the approach many SMBs should take, and one critical difference is that there really shouldn’t be an incessant focus on keyword optimization. Plus, it opens with a joke — might as well have a chuckle while you read about site crawls.Facebook and Google+ Feature ChangesMan alive there was a lot of inbound marketing news this week. First, Facebook announced the launch of Promoted Posts that lets us extend the reach of our page content. Then, Google+ rocked our worlds with the death of Google Places, which was officially replaced with Google+ Local. That’s right, local businesses, now you have to use Google+! Muahaha. Finally, Facebook came back again to make our lives easier by allowing us to schedule our posts for the future, and letting us assign page admins to certain roles that limit (or increase) their ability to make changes to our brand’s social presence.Is Pinterest Really Leading to Product Purchases? From eMarketerThere’s been a ton of hoopla around Pinterest as of late, but does it actually lead to product purchases? eMarketer just released some data to let us know! Juicy data? You sure know how to make a marketer swoon, eMarketer.10 Reasons to Develop for Android First From Marketing PilgrimFinally, Craig Palli at Fisku helped add fuel to the Android vs. iOS fire with this post that asserts those developing (or thinking about developing) a mobile app should first develop for Android, not iOS. Sneak peak: the Android market’s bigger, and there are fewer privacy constraints. You’ll have to keep reading for the other 8 reasons!What other good inbound marketing content did you find circling the web this past week?Image credit: NS Newsflash Technical SEO Topics: Originally published Jun 3, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 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 Jul 16, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 There are many complex decisions to be made when planning your company’s expansion into new countries. No culture is alike, and each country has a language and customs unique to itself. Ergo, you would think that culture and language research would be top of the agenda for every company planning to penetrate new markets.Over the years, however, we have seen and heard some stories emerge on various websites and blogs about some brands’ lack of research in the areas of culture and language. But we could never be 100% sure if they were legit or not — some seemed too awful or hilarious to be true. So in this blog post, we thought it’d be fun to revisit those alleged blunders, and try to get to the bottom of the legends. Let’s play a little game of True or False, shall we?1) CoorsThe Story: This rocky mountain ice cold beer company decided to cool down their Spanish market. However, the translator for Coors must have been product testing that day and their slogan “Turn It Loose,” when translated, became “Suffer From Diarrhea.” Not really something I would elect to do on a Friday evening after work. True or False? FALSE.There are reports that Coors used the phrase suéltalo con Coors which translates, literally, to “let it go loose with Coors”; there are other reports that they used the phrase suéltate con Coors, which literally translates to “set yourself free with Coors.” However, according to David Wilton, author of Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, Coors never actually ran an ad campaign featuring any of these slogans.2) Dairy AssociationThe Story: When expanding into Mexico, the Dairy Association’s hugely successful “Got Milk” campaign was not so well received. Translated, the slogan became “Are You Lactating?” I have a feeling that slogan didn’t resonate with as wide of an audience as the Dairy Association was hoping. True or False?FALSE.According to Jeff Manning, executive director of the California Milk Processor Board, this was discovered and resolved in the market research phase. Phew.3) ElectroluxThe Story: Getting a country’s official language correct is one thing, but don’t forget to research the colloquialisms of the culture, as well. Take this Scandinavian vacuum company as an example. They thought their slogan, “Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux,” was very clever given the powerful suction of their Electrolux vacuum cleaner. However, when they launched in America, it wasn’t quite clear whether Electrolux was being promoted — or in fact dissed — by a competitor. True or False?TRUE.According to Wikipedia, in the 1960s Electrolux successfully marketed vacuums in the United Kingdom with this slogan. It was later used in the United States, but the informal U.S. meaning of the word was actually already known in the UK. So, this was a bit of a marketing gamble, in hopes the edgy slogan would help them gain some attention in their international expansion. 4) PepsiThe Story: Here’s a good Halloween marketing campaign from Pepsi — only it wasn’t a Halloween campaign, and was very offensive to the Chinese market they were trying to crack. Instead of promoting their famous slogan “Come alive with Pepsi generation,” they marketed themselves by accidently saying “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.” Pepsi packs a powerful punch, but probably not that powerful. True or False?UNCONFIRMED.Pepsi has neither confirmed nor denied this claim. Let’s move on to their competitor, then …5) Coca-ColaThe Story: One of the most famous blunders comes from the most widely known brand name in the world. When Coca-Cola was entering the Chinese market, the drink was pronounced “Ke-kou-ke-la” which, depending on dialect, meant “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax.” True or False?FALSE.According to myth-debunking-site Snopes.com, store owners making their own signs made the blunder because they used their own dialect and characters, which in other regions translated to bite the wax tadpole, etc. Coke actually researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, “ko-kou-ko-le,” which can be loosely translated as “happiness in the mouth.” 6) ClairolThe Story: The German market was in for quite a shock when hair care company Clairol arrived on the scene with their “Mist Stick” curling iron. Why? “Mist” in German translates as “Manure.” Yikes. I know they say mud is good for the skin but I’m not sure anyone could sell manure for the hair. True or False?FALSE.It looks like this story has been mixed up with that of a Rolls Royce Silver Mist story. Clairol, you’re off the hook!7) Parker PensThe Story: Parker Pens had a fun time explaining themselves after bringing their product to Spain … and promptly ensuring people it wouldn’t get them pregnant. Their slogan (which leaves a lot to be desired in the first place) went from “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” to “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.” I should certainly hope not. True or False?TRUE.Or at least according to the examples in the book Brand Failures.8) Powergen ItaliaThe Story: Even something as simple as a website address can go horribly wrong. Take Powergen Italia, for example. They’re an Italian company who was expanding into English-speaking countries, and decided to go with the most obvious website address — without thinking about how it would read for their English-speaking customers. Visit www.powergenitalia.com to learn more. Just kidding. They nixed that URL pretty promptly. True or False?TRUE.This is true according to several sources, including Ananova, although it’s important to understand that this blunder didn’t come from the Italian division of energy giant Powergen, but the marketing folks at Powergen Italia, an Italian maker of battery chargers. The website now switches you over to the more aptly named for English-speakers, www.batterychargerpowergen.it.9) GerberThe Story: Everybody knows the cute little Gerber baby that features on the front of all of their baby food products — so sweet! However, when they entered the African market they failed to research product packaging norms. Had they done that, they would have discovered that products mostly feature images of the contents inside the packaging. Therefore, a jar with a cute little baby on the front didn’t do so well. True or False?FALSE.According to Snopes.com, this is an urban legend — which was both surprising and frightening to some HubSpotters that had heard this story when they were taking university-level PR classes. Yikes.How some of these blunders got past the execs at these companies is unclear, but clearly it is possible to make catastrophic mistakes, even if you’re a global leader like many of these brands. Allow yourself some time to properly roll out your global expansion plans, pulling in cultural and language experts along the way.For more tips on setting yourself up for success, download the Marketer’s Guide to European Expansion. Although we can’t help with translation, we do cover essential topics like how to decide which markets will be a good fit, how to achieve a multilingual website, and SEO tips from expert Aleyda Solis.Image credits: Sarebear:), lonelycamera, Blixt A., eblaser, tcwmatt, Omer Wazir, Tavallai, AnxiousNut, thejbird Marketing Case Studies Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics:
Originally published Nov 25, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Twitter Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: What’s the difference between a healthy tweet and a sick tweet? Simply put: Healthy tweets live longer. How long, you ask? Well, the jury’s still out on that. Some reports say 48 hours, while others say 18 minutes. Either way, we marketers are always striving for those healthy tweets — ones that reach out to our followers and get them engaged with our brand.But with 9,100 tweets scrolling by every second, we have to do everything we can to get our tweets noticed. There’s a lot of outside factors that influence the lifespan of a tweet — numbers of followers, time of day you’re tweeting, etc. — but to make sure your tweets are as impactful as possible, you have to have a game plan.So, here are five strategies you can employ on Twitter to give your tweets the best chance to be healthy and get noticed by your followers. 1) Optimize your tweets for retweets.One of the best things about marketing on Twitter is that it gives you a built-in mechanism for extending the lifespan of your tweet: the retweet.When someone retweets your tweet, it means they found the content valuable enough to share with their own followers, thus extending the lifetime of your tweet. It’s a great way to pass along content to your followers that you didn’t create yourself or to show support to a fellow business or colleague.Get started by: Checking out the free tool RetweetLab.com. Powered by HubSpot, the tool allows you to analyze any Twitter account to get the data you need to make sure your tweets are retweetable. The tool was created by Dan Zarrella, who wrote The Science of Retweets and has spent years analyzing data to bring us best practices for social media marketing. (One quick tip: Always cap your tweets at around 115 characters for optimal retweet-ability.)2) Schedule your tweets in advance.Twitter is a great platform for on-the-fly updates, but when you’re using Twitter as part of your overall social media strategy, you’ll want to schedule tweets in advance that complement other aspects of your marketing. This will help keep your tweets healthy because you’ll have time to optimize them.That’s not to say you can’t post Twitter updates while at a big conference or event. But what if you’re the sole social media marketer for your company and you’re at the event? It’s good to have a few tweets cued up for backup that still support your other marketing efforts.Get started by: Setting aside 10 minutes a week to schedule tweets in advance. Friday might even be the best day to do this, so you know when you get in to work on Monday, you have your social media content all planned out for the week. This leaves you room to practice newsjacking for anything that’s relevant to your industry or capitalize on a marketing campaign that’s doing really well by adding in a few extra tweets mid-week.(HubSpot customers: We just made a fantastic planning spreadsheet so you can bulk upload tweets with ease.)3) Include a link in all of your organic tweets.Unless you’ve got a Twitter update that shakes the entire world, adding a link to your tweets is great way to keep it healthy. It brings even more content to your tweet while staying within the confines of Twitter’s character limits. It also gives people something valuable to pass on to their followers beyond your commentary on the link. Providing valuable information to your followers is the best way to get noticed.Get started by: Taking a link and coming up with multiple ways to promote it. We recently posted this article and suggest promoting one link in five different ways by using the title of the page, a quote, one takeaway you discovered, one statistic, and a sentence of commentary. Not a bad exercise to do, especially when tweets with links are 86% more likely to be retweeted.4) Get more Twitter followers.There’s no magic number when it comes to Twitter followers. But the more followers you have, the more likely it is that someone will see your update and engage with you. For example, if Justin Bieber were to retweet you, it’s possible your tweets would be seen by millions (maybe even tens of millions). But unless you’re a megastar, you’ll have to settle for getting followers the old-fashioned way.Get started by: Engaging with others in your industry on Twitter. You can search Twitter for relevant hashtags, or industry terms, to help you find other people or companies that are like you. You can even create lists of these folks so you can easily monitor their Twitter updates and see who else they’re engaging with. Connect with them by retweeting them or asking them questions about content they’ve shared. But don’t resort to getting new followers by tricks or bots — that’s just not proper social media etiquette.5) Use a hashtag in your tweets.Hashtags are commonly used in tweets to give those scanning through some quick context about the subject of the update. You may not say the word “social media” in your update, but adding #socialmedia to your tweet will catch the eyes of those interested in the subject. Also, hashtags are a great way to search for tweets – so your tweets should be optimized for search as well.Get started by: Having a handy list of 7-10 hashtags that you can always use in your tweets. Setting up the list early takes the guesswork out when your tweeting on the go or scheduling tweets for the week. You should use these hashtags when sharing your own organic content and especially when you’re curating content to make it easy for your followers to understand the relevance of your retweet.Along with these five strategies to keep your tweet healthy, don’t forget to make sure you’ve put some thought into the copy, too. Crafting your update to include an attention-grabbing title, or colorful commentary, will go a long way in making sure your tweets get noticed by your followers. Be interesting, be authentic, and most importantly, keep the “social” in social media by being human.What other strategies do you have for making sure your tweets last as long as possible? Let us know in the comments!
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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Nowadays, reviews are more important than ever — 9 out of 10 people are looking at online product reviews and posts on social networks before making a purchasing decision. Do you have a plan in place to take advantage of this trend?Enter the ever useful and efficient case study. Case studies give your audience more information about your product or service in the context of a specific company size or vertical. Though each case study may have slightly differing details, the core messaging will fundamentally remain the same: how your product and/or service has helped one of your existing customers overcome a challenge, achieve a goal, and/or better their lives.Download our free case study study template here.Case studies are also crucial to your sales process. Having a variety of case studies based on various categories such as industry, location, company size, or type of business can help your sales team convert leads into customers and upsell existing customers.We know that building out an awesome case study that shares a compelling story can be both time-consuming and difficult if you’re not sure how to go about it. You may be wondering where to start, who to speak to, and what to ask.To help you to focus on creating content that drives both your sales team and process forward, we have created The Ultimate Case Study Creation Guide and Template. With this helpful kit you’ll be able to:Select perfect-fit participants to help your case study shine the spotlight on your product and/or service.Reach out to potential participants and engage them in the process.Devise great questions to ask your perfect-fit participants. Layout the case study in a comprehensive, clear, and informative manner — giving you more time to focus on the actual content at hand.Click here to download the case study template and guide, and if you want to share this resource with others, use the click-to-tweet links and image below. Click to Tweet: “The Ultimate Case Study Creation Kit: http://bit.ly/14LzKAm via @HubSpot” Originally published Jan 13, 2015 4:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Content Types Topics:
This post originally appeared on Agency Post. To read more content like this, subscribe to Agency Post.Millennials. Generation Z. The two groups comprise the most coveted set of consumers. They are future clients and customers, and they will determine if a brand lasts or lags behind. But they are a confusing group — to brands (and their parents).Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and a multitude of other social networks don’t hold their attention for long: the amount that people are accessing social networking sites is falling. One possible reason for this decline is the rise of social messaging apps. Snapchat’s user base grew by 57% in the first three quarters of 2014, and Facebook Messenger grew by 50%. As Facebook and Twitter have become infitrated with brand messaging and users have become disillusioned with the idea that broadcast communication makes them feel more connected to friends and family, people have turned to one-to-one or one-to-few communication forms. These apps have traditionally been ad-free, but as the market matures, many founders are looking for ways to bring in revenue and increase the functionality and use of their app. They are looking to advertisers to fund this growth. The Fall of TextingIn 2011, Pew Research reported that U.S. cell phone users send and receive 41.5 messages per day on average. When you drill down into specific age groups, those 18 to 24 years old send or receive 109.5 text messages per day. This data was released the same year that Apple announced its iOS 5 update, which bundled SMS and iMessage. They later gave iPhone users the ability to text using the internet.This prompted many U.S.-based carriers to offer unlimited texting, essentially giving the service away for free for power users. But that’s not the case in many countries, which is why messaging apps became popular in countries such as Mexico, China, and Japan before finding more mainstream recognition in the U.S. Consider this: WhatsApp, the most popular mobile messaging app, has an 8% penetration rate of mobile internet users in the U.S., while in South Africa, the share of mobile internet users who are active on WhatsApp is 78%. Hong Kong has a penetration rate of 71%, and India sits at 69%. Ernesto Piedras, director of a Mexico City-based telecommunications consulting firm, told Bloomberg Business that 90% of instant messaging is sent through WhatsApp in Mexico.These apps are widely adopted across the world and have a large and active user base.This should be compared with prediction on the SMS market. Its revenues and usage is expected to decline as mobile internet connectivity becomes the norm. Just recently, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released data on text messaging usage in the country. From January to May 2014, SMS messaging was down 18.4% from the previous time period in 2013. This is contrasted with mobile internet usage, which grew by 52%. The next frontier is here. And many of these apps have options for brands to get involved.The Mobile Messaging App LandscapeNew mobile and social messaging apps are released each month as companies try to capitalize on people’s phone addictions. Tinder (dating), Whisper (anonymous message sharing), and QuizUp (social gaming) are just a few of these specialized apps focused on changing the way we interact with other people through our mobile phones.The main contenders, though, are still focused on messaging — either through text or visuals. In February 2015, three of the top 10 free apps in the U.S. App Store were social messaging apps: Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. Another mobile messaging app, Kik, landed in the top 18 free apps.Most of these mobile messaging apps are similar in features (one-to-one messaging, group messaging, stickers, and calling), but each offers a different approach or unique features that point to how marketers may be able interact with users on the platform in the future.Here are seven leading social messaging apps for you to get to know.1) WhatsApp WhatsApp leads the social messaging apps, with 700 million active users as of December 2014. As a baseline, compare this to Instagram, which reached 300 million users that same month. The app made headlines when Facebook purchased it for $19 billion in 2014 — the app was only five years old. Before it’s acquisition, the company spent no money on advertising or marketing.WhatsApp is free for users for the first year; then, users pay $1 per year for the service. It was originally launched as an SMS alternative for those under restrictive messaging plans. It requires users to register with a telephone number, and it’s testing out a VoIP calling feature. It also recently introduced a web app.Features for Marketers:WhatsApp hasn’t introduced an advertising option for brands, and the founders have been adamant about the service remaining ad-free. The company’s line on advertising is cemented in its motto: No ads, no games, no gimmicks. However, the BBC used its Broadcast Lists feature to deliver news last year. The feature only allows for lists up to 250 people, and users must add the contact to their address book to receive messages.2) SnapChatThe ephemeral photo-sharing app has expanded in recent months to go beyond sharing disappearing photos. Within the app, you can record videos, draw on photos, and chat with friends.Features for Marketers:Brands can place “snaps” in a user’s recent updates feed and be included in its Stories feed. The app recently launched Discover, where publishers add daily editions of photos and videos that disappear within 24 hours. Reportedly, these publishers are working with brands that want to advertise in an edition or sponsor a channel.3) KikKik has 200 million registered users and differs from WhatsApp in that anyone can chat with anyone else by finding the person’s username. (The recipient of the message has to approve new contacts before seeing the person’s message.) Allowing a level of anonymity has attracted a younger demographic — 70% of its users are between age 13 and 25.Kik also has a built-in web browser so that people can share information from the web.Features for Marketers:Kik’s Promoted Chats feature allows users to opt-in to receive messages from specific brands, such as Seventeen Magazine and Funny or Die. Brands can create canned responses that are triggered by keywords the user sends as the feature is a one-to-one communication form. In addition, brands can created Cards, which are mobile sites optimized for Kik. 4) ViberFounded in Cyprus by an Israeli entrepreneur, Viber is another popular social messaging app with a large U.S.-based audience. The app was acquired by a Japanese ecommerce company for $900 million in early 2014.Viber allows for free calls to and from people using Viber, and you can use its ViberOut feature to make domestic and international calls.Features for Marketers:Viber launched Public Chats in late 2014, which allows people to follow the chats of celebrities, personalities, or a specific topic, such as its “Song of the Day” group. Users can also download sticker collections from brands. (Miller Lite recently added a Game Day collection.)5) TangoTango provides messaging and voice and video calls. You can also play games with other users, and it integrates with Spotify so users can share and listen to music.Features for Marketers:Tango has three advertising options for brands. Its chat list advertisement appears in the user’s list of open chats. The Newsfeed ad option places sponsored posts in the feed, similar to Facebook’s advertising option. There’s also an option for ads to appear in the user’s profile page. Tango uses Twitter’s mobile ad network MoPub to run native ads within the app.6) LineLine was founded in Japan in 2011 and has a large user base in that country. The app has 170 million monthly active users and 560 registered users.It offers one of the most robust feature sets of any messaging app: messaging, voice calls, a camera with filters, forums for topic-based chatting, and a timeline for sharing status updates. Users can customize the app with different themes and follow official accounts. Features for Marketers:Brands create animated stickers for users to download and themes to update the look of the app. Users can follow brands under the Official Accounts tab, and Line has an option for brands to send targeted advertising. The company recently launched The Line@ app, which integrates with the main app and allows businesses to communicate with Line users. 7) KakaoTalkThis social messaging app dominates the South Korean market and is used by many international Koreans to communicate with friends and family. KakaoTalk offers a desktop client for Mac and PC. The app offers free calls, multimedia messaging, a mobile shopping feature, a “places” feature for saving favorite locations and sharing them with friends, an event scheduler, and polling features.KakaoTalk had 145 million registered users as of April 2014.Features for Marketers:KakaoTalk integrates with an in-game advertising platform to deliver mobile ads, and it allow brands to create profiles on the social app in its Plus Friends feature. Like other apps in this list, brands can create and release emoticon packages for users to download.How Advertisers are Getting Into the Dark Social GameOne problem facing marketers looking to reach people through mobile messaging is the lack of analytics. There is little information on how people share content on these dark social platforms, and few large scale campaigns have been launched and analyzed for results. However, these platforms do provide read receipts and Snapchat gives advertisers information on views. When it comes to online advertising, it’s definitely a better metric than visibility. Snapchat and AudiHuge, a Brooklyn-based agency, partnered with Onion Labs to create a Snapchat campaign that would run during the 2014 Super Bowl. The brand’s approach included creating simple images with witty captions that keyed into things happening during the event. The carmaker’s Snapchat received 100,000 views during the Big Game. Kik and “The Giver”In late summer of 2014, The Weinstein Company promoted its young-adult targeted film “The Giver” on Kik. The campaign featured photos from the movie users could customize with stickers, a Kik-optimized card (basically a mobile website) with trivia, and the movie trailer. Line and “The Walking Dead” AMC is promoting the tenth anniversary of “The Walking Dead” on Line with a set of stickers fans can download. The show has an Official Account on the app, and once a user adds the brand, it has a direct line of communication with that person through the chat feature.The Rise of Messaging AppsThese apps are already challenging cellular carriers and the way they do business. And at least for now, they are attracting users with a small set of features. It would be an easy jump for many of these to expand their feature set and go head-to-head with larger social networks.These apps are still young. It’s uncharted territory for marketers, but as that brand’s agency, you need to be the first to understand how people are using these apps to interact and why this form of personal communication has become so popular. It’s no longer just about what people communicate; it’s about what tool they use to say it. Social Media Advertising Topics: Originally published Mar 1, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 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 Apr 12, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Customer Success Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: We’ve already covered what retention marketing is, and why today’s elite ecommerce stores have already started on a retention-focused strategy. But where should you begin with your own retention strategy? Read on to learn what to do before you get started, how to allocate your marketing budget, and when you can expect to see results. Let’s get started!Where Do You Start?Every tall building started with a solid framework, and every tall tree started with the roots. Retention marketing is the same. You can create something amazing, but you need to lay down a strong framework.“If you don’t know where you are now, you will never know how far you have gone.”The framework you need is an understanding of your current metrics. Measuring your current ecommerce stats will show you where you are, so you can measure the effectiveness of your retention marketing strategy. You should have a benchmark of all the standard ecommerce metrics like conversion rate, average order value, abandoned cart rate, etc… But besides those metrics, you should also benchmark KRMs (key retention metrics) before starting your retention marketing plan. For consistency, you should use data from a one year period for the following calculations.Repeat Customer Rate (RCR)Your store’s repeat customer rate is the percentage of your customer base that is coming back to purchase again. Remember, it is more expensive to acquire a new customer (seven times more expensive!) than retain an existing one.To measure your current RCR, take the number of repeat customers and divide it by the total number of unique customers. Be sure you are dividing by unique customers and NOT orders.Customers With More Than One Purchase / Unique Customers = Repeat Customer RateAs you focus more on retention marketing, you will notice that your revenue from repeat customers will start to climb.Purchase FrequencyWhen you make getting return business a focus, your customers will start to shop with you more often. This metric is known as your store’s purchase frequency. It is the average number of times a customer will shop with you in a given time period.Total Orders / Unique Customers = Purchase FrequencyTotal number of orders divided by the number of unique customers you have, will give you purchase frequency. Even a slight increase in purchase frequency can lead to a huge increase in revenue.Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)This is the holy grail metric of customer retention. It tells you what each customer is worth to your store over their entire shopping life. Average Order Value x Purchase Frequency x Average Lifespan = Lifetime ValueThe above equation is your average order value multiplied by your purchase frequency (see above) multiplied by your average customer lifespan. If you don’t know your average lifespan, you can use three years as a rough estimate.Set BenchmarksNow that you have calculated these KRM benchmarks, make sure you note them somewhere. If you use an analytics or CRM tool, you can store it there. Whatever you decide to do you will want to look back on these numbers to see how your strategy is performing.How Much Retention Marketing Do You Need?Now that we have laid a solid framework to build our retention strategy on, we need to decide how much of a focus to put on retention. You would not expect acquisition to just happen, so you should not expect retention to just happen.You invest marketing dollars into a content strategy, email marketing, social media, search engine optimization, and retargeting (to name a few places) for your acquisition strategy. If you want your retention marketing efforts to be a success you need to do the same.Let’s look at the breakdown of a typical ecommerce store’s traffic:As you can see 92% have not purchased before, or have made a single purchase. This traffic would be attributed to acquisition efforts. The remaining 8% are customers who have purchased from you 2 or more times. This traffic can be attributed to your retention efforts.When you look at the traffic numbers you may ask why you should allocate more than 8% of your marketing budget to retention, when it only represents a small portion of your traffic. On the surface it may seem counterintuitive, but you need to dig deeper.Let’s look at the average revenue breakdown from each of those segments:That small percentage of your traffic is actually generating a substantial portion of your revenue. The average ecommerce store sees over 40% of their revenue come from that small but mighty 8%. This is because a repeat customer is more profitable than a first time buyer.If this is the case, why do the majority of stores allocate almost all their budget to customer acquisition? The average store allocates 81% of marketing dollars to acquisition, which represents 59% of revenue, and 19% of marketing dollars to retention, which represents 41% of revenue. This budget allocation doesn’t seem to make sense! What Should Your Store Do?Every store is different, but some stores will benefit more from retention marketing than others. The effectiveness of retention marketing is determined by two main factors. The first is the life-stage of your store, and the second is the nature of the products you sell.Your Store’s Life-StageIf you have a brand new ecommerce site, you will have very small customer base. Obviously it does not make much sense to be spending marketing on retaining customer you don’t have yet! As you grow, you’ll want to shift more marketing dollars to to retention marketing.Once your store has an established customer base, it becomes more beneficial to focus on retention over acquisition. Growing revenue via acquisition can eventually slow, but retention can help you continue to grow.What You SellA returning customer is worth more to your business, so every store should be striving to boost retention. If you have a product that has high likelihood of repeat purchases, you will benefit immensely from retention marketing. Examples of these types of products would be cosmetics, coffee, supplements, and even clothing.If you do sell high ticket items, retention strategies can still work for you. Imagine if you could sell three fridges to a customer over their lifetime rather than just one. That would be a huge boost! Alternatively, you can cross-sell complementary products to your customers. When Can You Expect to See Results?Retention marketing doesn’t provide overnight results or instant gratification. But, if you stick to it you will start to see some phenomenal results. How long do you need to wait? That depends. Six months to a year is a common timeframe. Retention marketing is like rolling a snowball, once your get it started it becomes easy.
Originally published Apr 11, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 If I had a nickel for every hour I wasted trying to figure something out in Excel, I’d have quite the coin collection. Don’t get me wrong: Excel is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to collecting and analyzing data. But unless you’re a power user, it can be tricky to get the hang of it. If you’re not well versed in the tool’s functionality, even little things like resizing columns and inserting comments can cause you to have to stop and think. Download our free guide to Excel here to learn the essential skills you should know.Luckily, the folks at Best STL put together the following infographic on time-saving Excel shortcuts. While the shortcuts are pretty basic, they’re guaranteed to simplify the way you navigate the tool. Check ’em out below. 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 Excel