3 Types of Blog Posts That Earn the Most Backlinks, According to HubSpot’s Link-Building Expert

As the HubSpot Blog’s Audience Growth Manager, one of my duties involves developing highly shareable blog posts that pull in non-organic traffic from sources like email, social media, and other websites.

Through building non-organic traffic tactics for my team, I’ve learned that referral traffic — which comes from other sites backlinking to our content — can majorly benefit the overall blog site.

It goes without saying that having another site highlight your content is great for brand awareness. But, additionally, backlinks can also increase your search engine authority.

When high-authority sites link to your content, search engine algorithms take this into account when ranking your content on result pages. This means that the more backlinks you get from credible websites, the higher your search rankings could get.

However, although referral traffic can be vital for your blog’s success, it’s also the hardest to earn.

Here’s why:

When a HubSpot Blog post gets a backlink, this typically means that a person has found our content, valued it, and shared the post’s URL on their own website. Then, when others find and click this shared URL, it results in referral traffic.

In short, a person working for a website or online publication has to find our content and determine that it’s valuable, credible, or engaging enough to share with their site’s audiences.

Because getting referrals can be challenging and complex, I’ve worked closely with Irina Nica, a Sr. Marketing Manager of Product Awareness — and HubSpot’s resident backlink expert — to develop the blog’s link-building playbook.

Although it takes time and solid research to create posts that earn quality backlinks, Nica and I find that the traffic returns are worth the effort.

To help other bloggers in their quest for referrals, search authority, and non-organic traffic, here are three types of blog posts that get the most backlinks, according to Nica.

3 Types of Blog Posts That Earn the Most Backlinks

Tell Stories Backed By Original Data

“The blog posts that typically get the most backlinks are backed by original research and data,” says Nica. “If these blog post angles speak to wide audiences, they can even increase the chance of press mentions.”

Why? People use data to make decisions, inspire their own content, and learn more about their industry. So, when you publish original data, it’s not shocking to think that other sites might be interested in sharing your research by citing, quoting, or directly linking to it.

But, while it might be tempting to just throw a handful of original stats into a blog post’s body and hit “publish”, Nica says the backlinks for a post will be even stronger if you tell a story about how those stats impact your readers.

“The key is to help readers find meaning in the data you present by telling a compelling story,” Nica says. “Stories make data appealing and memorable. A good story is often one that’s related to recent events that made the headlines, or provides context on an issue that affects a wide range of readers in your industry.”

“We recently launched a data-driven piece that’s relevant to recent news: How COVID-19 Is Impacting Sales and Marketing Performance,” Nica says. “Because it’s timely and it provides useful information for marketers and business owners around the world, this article earned more than 500 backlinks from over 200 referring domains,” Nica explains.

The HubSpot Blog also publishes informative, data-driven posts that relate to industry trends, common strategies, or topics related to our subject matter expertise, rather than just news or events. These types of posts are also very linkable because they aim to help readers with day-to-day tasks, tactics, or decisions.

For example, I recently wrote a post called, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat: Which Stories Are People Actually Watching? In the post, I shared results from s survey of more than 300 consumers about their social media Story preferences.

“Pam’s article answers a relevant question for social media marketers — which are a major part of the HubSpot Blog audience,” Nica says. “To create this piece, Pam used a survey tool called Lucid to gather data. Then she used internal expertise to dig deeper into these results and explain how this impacts our work as marketers.”

Nica says that the post received more than 960 social shares in the past six months and over 500 backlinks from 100 Referring Domains. It was also mentioned in a post from another marketing blog, Buffer.

blog post with data that received referrals and backlinks

 

Molding Dull Data Sets into Intriguing Stories

Even if your data doesn’t relate to an event or viral social media trend, it can still be compelling to readers if your post clearly explains why it’s valuable.

When HubSpot bloggers are tasked with telling an intriguing story around data sets, we first try to explain how each major stat could impact marketers, sales reps, or service reps, depending on the audience we’re trying to reach. In some posts, we also might give tips on how to adjust or embrace business tactics based on major facts or figures.

Here’s an example of how we draw out a full story from a few basic stats about Black Friday ads. Although this post relates to a newsier topic, you can use the format as inspiration for data-driven posts related to almost anything in your industry.

a high-perforrming data blog post that received high backlinks

To make the data given in this post easy to consume and interesting to the reader, we created a list item and intriguing subhead around three major Black Friday survey data points. Then, we took the time to explain exactly what each point means for advertisers and marketers. To add visuals to the story, we also created quick infographics for each section:

By expanding on what each stat means for your reader, you’ll supply your audience with interesting data, establish your brand’s expertise, and — most importantly — provide your valuable takeaways that readers can share with others or use in daily life.

Can’t access original data? Try this alternative.

There are a number of free or affordable tools online that can help blog teams gain data quickly. But, if you don’t have a survey or polling tool at easy access, or the time to conduct research, we’ve found that external research compilation posts also work well.

Here’s just one example of a high-performing post where I compiled and discussed a number of studies that compared millennials and Gen Z. In the post’s first six months, HubSpot data shows that it drove over 5,000 views from social media alone, and more than 900 views from referral sources.

Thought Leadership or Expert Interview Posts

Odds are, people within your industry want to get tips from experts with high achievements in their field. If you have access to an industry expert or thought leader, publishing their original thoughts on your blog could benefit you.

For example, if your thought leader says something bold, profound, or even slightly tactical, another publication or blog might quote them and link to the post on your site. Additionally, the thought leader and their followers might share the post via email, social media, or on their own website.

Planning Out Strategic Thought Leadership

While you could technically accept guest posts from whoever wants to write for you, Nica encourages bloggers to consider finding experts that can write about high-interest topics in their industry.

“If you’re not sure where to start, look for high search volume topics in your area of expertise,” Nica says. “Then, use this information to pick the topic for your thought leadership piece.”

Picking thought leadership angles that have high search volume might help you build content that’s SEO friendly. But, according to Nica, this tactic most importantly helps you “ensure that you’re publishing about topics readers are actually interested in.”

By conducting search volume research, our blog team has identified a number of topics that could be covered by industry experts. For example, the idea for the blog post, “How HubSpot Academy Grew YouTube Subscribers by 450% in 17 Months” came from researching keywords related to YouTube marketing.

Once we defined a few potential YouTube angles, the blog team asked HubSpot acquisition marketing manager Bella Valentini to write about how her team implemented SEO tactics on HubSpot Academy’s channel.

“The keyword ‘Youtube SEO’ has over 3,000 searches per month. This means a lot of people are eager to learn about tactics that work for this channel,” Nica explains. “Our thought leadership piece talks about Youtube SEO in a practical context by telling the story of how Valentini’s strategy increased our subscribers by 450% in just 17 months,” Nica says.

Due to the YouTube SEO post’s practical tips and original data, “this article earned 96 backlinks from 51 referring domains without any targeted outreach to promote it,” according to Nica.

Thought Leadership Alternatives

Sometimes, you can’t get a busy thought leader or expert to sit down with you for an interview. But, you might be able to create a helpful, highly-linkable post by asking a number of thought leaders a quick question via email and compiling their quotes into a roundup.

Since we have a huge team at HubSpot, we love creating roundups with our internal experts. They’re easy to create and pull in solid non-organic traffic similarly to full thought leadership pieces. Additionally, we’ve also seen similar results from rounding up quotes from external experts.

In a recent Marketing Blog post, we highlighted tips for working remotely directly sourced from seasoned members of our remote staff. This post has received over 17,000 total views with 204 referrals and more than 1,300 visits from social media platforms.

a blog post with expert quotes that earned many backlinks

Posts That Serve as Foundational “Ultimate Guides”

Once we’ve written heavily about a topic, such as Instagram Marketing, we’ll compile all the data, information, tips, and advice our writers have collected into Ultimate Guides.

a video-centered pillar post that earned backlinks

These long-form posts, which each include internal links to a handful of other blog posts on our website, aren’t just beneficial to SEO and direct traffic. They also can pull in solid backlinks, according to Nica.

“Usually, the most recommended blog types for getting backlinks have original research and data at their core. But this isn’t always the case,” Nica reveals. “For some blog sites, the blog types that get the most backlinks are actually ultimate guides.”

“If they are visible and easy to find on your website, these guides can easily serve as a supporting piece for other articles. This makes them a great link-magnet,” Nica explains.

Tips for Creating Highly Linkable Content

Along with testing out the content types above on your blog, you should also keep these tips in mind as you create web content:

Original content is key.

Web writers and journalists are more likely to link to original quotes and data that they can’t repeat or create on their own.

Even though you’re a blogger, your goal should be to publish content that no one can get anywhere else. This type of content could include original research, quotes, expert-written posts, images, and videos. Ask yourself, what will make journalists type, “According to [your brand]”?

Visibility is vital.

“One of the most frequent mistakes marketers make when creating linkable content is that they invest 90% of their resources in production and only 10% on promotion,” Nica warns. “Links need to be earned naturally to support the business’ SEO performance long-term, but no links can be earned if the target audience doesn’t know that content exists in the first place.”

“Whatever you publish, make sure it’s visible. You can start by promoting content on your company’s social media channels or through targeted outreach. Either way, your audience needs to find out about your content before they can link back to it,” Nica advises.

Nica says you’ll also want to optimize your posts for search engines. Here’s why:

If a blogger from another company is covering a topic like “email marketing trends,” they’ll need to find data to support the trends they list. They might begin their research by Googling, “email marketing statistics.” If your original email data post is one of the first results, there’s a strong chance that this writer will click it, find your data valuable, and share it in their own piece

Don’t forget about web design.

“Every time I stumble upon an old looking website, I don’t think it’s up to date. So, I don’t trust it enough to mention it in my article and link back to it,” Nica admits.

Although Nica can’t confirm or deny if web design can impact backlinks, many of us can relate to the experience of bouncing off of a poorly designed website. And, when we do this, we’re likely not sharing the content we saw or helping the blog’s search rankings.

“Whether it’s thought leadership or a research report, make sure you invest in the aesthetic ‘packaging’ of your content with a solid design. This will pay off.”

For example, Nextiva’s Customer Service Statistics and Trends in 2020 is not unique. However, it’s design and packaging guides the audience through a nice reading experience.

“What sets Nextiva’s guide apart from similar online content is its carefully crafted design and the experience they provide the reader. It’s no surprise they have over 700 backlinks to this page, from over 370 referring domains,” Nica notes, using data pulled from Ahrefs.

To learn more about why you should embrace a backlink strategy in 2020, check out these promising link-building stats.

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20 Stats That Make the Case for Co-Marketing in 2020

As a billionaire inventor and CEO, the fictional Tony Stark, also known as Marvel’s Iron Man, worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder while repeatedly saving the world on the side.

Despite Stark’s impressive achievements, his career success and robotic super-suit weren’t what made him a legend.

In fact, Stark’s best Marvel Comics storylines began when he joined The Avengers to save the entire universe.

Although Stark was fully capable of saving Earth alone in his super-suit, he knew teaming up with other superheroes would allow him to save multiple planets.

Marketers can learn a lot from Tony Stark.

While our brands might be capable of reaching basic targets all on their own, pooling marketing resources, combining skill sets, and jointly creating campaigns with other non-competing companies could help us reach much broader audiences. This tactic is known as co-marketing.

Although co-marketing can be incredibly beneficial to you and your partner’s brands, it will still take time, planning, and coordination when it comes to finding a co-marketing partner and launching mutually beneficial campaigns.

Like any good marketer considering a new tactic, you’ll want to know that co-marketing can be effective before devoting resources to it. And yes, you’ll likely want to research more than just the superhero analogy I’ve made above.

To help you make the case for co-marketing, here’s a list of 20 statistics that prove why you should consider this strategy in 2020.

20 Co-Marketing Stats to Know in 2020

The State of Co-Marketing in 2020

  • After seeing co-marketed campaigns, 68% of consumers are able to make buying decisions before even speaking to sales representatives. (PartnerPath, 2019)
  • Virtually all companies surveyed in 2018 were already active in internet marketing partnerships and affiliate programs. The few that weren’t were active planning to be in the next 12 months. (Partnerize, 2018)
  • 54% of companies say partnerships drive more than 20% of total company revenue. (Partnerize, 2018)
  • 34% of marketers say that co-marketing or brand partnerships are the most effective ways to increase an email subscriber list. (Ascend2, 2017)
  • 74% of companies say partnerships and affiliate marketing campaigns are a high or very high priority for their businesses. (Partnerize, 2018)
  • In 2018, just 5% of companies said they’d invested less in partnerships than in 2017. (Partnerize, 2018)
  • More than half of respondents in a 2018 partnership survey said partnerships were driving more customers and sales in that year than in 2017. (Partnerize, 2018)

Partnership and Co-Marketing Tactics

  • Brand partnerships that leverage digital channels see 4X the pipeline of non-digital partnerships. (Impact, 2019)
  • 84% of vendors with brand partners offer money to those partners for co-marketing expenses. (PartnerPath, 2019)
  • 30% of vendors will offer co-marketing reimbursement if their brand partner can prove ROI. (PartnerPath, 2019)
  • Roughly 11% of marketers say “partnership posts” are their brand’s most engaging type of social media content. (HubSpot, 2020)
  • Many brands prioritize large partnerships, versus thousands of smaller partnerships. Roughly 34% of leading brands have 50 to 99 partners, while 67% of brands have less than 100. (Partnerize, 2018)
  • Only 2% of brands surveyed by Partnerize in 2018 partner with more than 1,000 brands. (Partnerize, 2018)
  • In 2018, 33% of CEOs said they planned to prioritize strategic partnerships, which could involve co-marketing partnerships, in 2019. (KPMG, 2018)
  • The top brand leader priorities include finding more partners (27%) and strengthening relationships with existing partners (23%). (Partnerize, 2018)

Co-Marketing and Brand Partnership Success Stories

  • The Yeezy shoe line, a collaboration between Adidas and Kanye West, enabled Adidas’ net annual rose by 19.5% to $1.9 billion in 2019. (Bloomberg, 2019)
  • Buffer and Social Chain’s Brand 2019 Brand and Social Media Report resulted in 17,000 download page visits in just one week and more than 3,000 shares across social media. These results were higher than an average article shared on either of their sites. (Quuu, 2019)
  • When Estée Lauder and a top U.S. retailer created joint Google Ads that promoted the retailer and the brand’s fragrance products, the average ad click share rose by 70%. (Google, 2020)
  • In 2018, Coors Light teamed up with National Geographic to launch a series of video ads taking place in Iceland. The campaign reached 10.5 million people and resulted in a 6.8 percent lift in brand favorability. (Facebook, 2018)
  • In a recent case study, a gaming app company partnered with another brand in a cross-promotional campaign that was coordinated by Aarki — a mobile marketing agency. The gaming app received a 32% rise in downloads shortly after remarketing ads to the partnering brand’s contact list on social media. (Aarki, 2020)

The Benefits of Co-Marketing

Co-marketing can provide a long list of benefits, especially if you want to pool your resources to create a large-scale marketing campaign. Along with the statistical benefits seen above, there are a number of other qualitative perks such as:

  • Audience exposure: Through co-marketing and cross-promotion, your content or brand information will be shared with your audiences as well as your brand partner’s. This enables your brand to gain increased reach. For example, when local or online stores launch Google Ads showing that they carry Estée Lauder fragrances, fans of the perfume brand might visit or follow that store for the first time.
  • Increased trust and favorability: If a prospect trusts the brand you partner with, they might trust you when that brand promotes your name, logo, or content. For example, when Adidas teamed up with Kanye West to create the Yeezy line, people might have bought a pair of Yeezys because they trusted Adidas’ quality and West’s sense of style.
  • Cost-effective content: When you team up with another brand, you might be able to make an agreement where you split time or production costs, or you can trade one brand strength for another. For example, if you’re a small brand partnering with a larger brand, you might be able to utilize the bigger brand’s budget and gain more exposure on their channels. Meanwhile, the bigger brand might be able to leverage your niche social media audience..

Now that you’ve learned about the benefits and stats related to co-marketing, get inspiration from these successful real-world examples of the tactic. For more on how to find the right co-marketing partner, check out this handy guide.

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The Ultimate Guide to Successfully Livestreaming From Home

This post is written by Kerry Shearer, “The Livestream Expert”. Kerry is a conference speaker, workshop presenter, online course creator and smartphone video trainer based in Sacramento, California. 

In 2020, the way we work, shop and entertain ourselves has been completely up-ended.

Work and school transitioned online, placing many people in unfamiliar situations with frustrating technical challenges as they livestream from home.

The results have sometimes been cringe-worthy.

On live webinar meetings, for example, we’ve been treated to up-the-nose camera angles, inadvertently-shared bathroom breaks, echo-y audio and dark, grainy webcam video.

Not the best way to make an impression!

The good news is that it’s actually pretty easy to give your viewers an outstanding experience, whether you’re participating in an online meeting on Zoom or livestreaming on popular platforms like Facebook Live, Twitter Live, Periscope or Instagram Live.

When you have the right mindset, the right approach, and the right accessories, you can absolutely look and sound like a pro.

Here, I’ll share my best practices when it comes to live streaming, including the platform(s) you should consider when livestreaming, and all the equipment you need to get started.

But first — let’s dive into the benefits of livestreaming for businesses.

Benefits of Livestreaming

I’ve spoken with many entrepreneur and communications colleagues, and months of lockdown have definitely taken an emotional toll.

Staying motivated when your lifestyle and habits have been disrupted means it’s more important than ever to get exercise, eat well, and practice self-care so you can be your best self in these trying circumstances.

And it also means you need to put yourself in the place of your customer or client.

When livestreaming, it’s critical to remember that it’s not about you — it’s about the difference you’re going to make in the life of the person you’re impacting with the information you’re delivering!

Many of us are doing two types of livestreaming these days: online meetings or webinars with colleagues, and livestreams related to promoting our products or services.

For our purposes we’ll focus on the second type of livestreaming: promoting a product or service. 

Livestreaming is a powerful tool to help entrepreneurs and small businesses differentiate themselves and connect with customers (or potential ones).

And doing it well can make a huge difference in your impact — and your earnings.

Vancouver therapist Julia Kristina, who holds a Master’s degree in Psychology, used live video as a springboard to create a thriving online business to compliment her existing in-person clinical practice.

She told me, “I began showing up live on Periscope and Facebook, nearly every day at first, doing short talks about different mental wellness topics.”

“Doing all those unscripted livestreams, either from home or from my office downtown, made me an even better public speaker. At the same time, it grew a loyal audience whose lives were being impacted by what I was teaching.”

Kristina eventually began creating and selling live online group coaching and recorded video courses on topics such as having healthy boundaries, overcoming anxiety, and building confidence.

Last fall, Kristina launched her membership program, “The Shift Society,” which features both live video coaching and recorded video content for members.

“Livestreams don’t need to be perfect,” Kristina says. “You just need to show up, be yourself, and let your passion for the topic be the magnet that draws your ideal audience in.”

Particularly in 2020 when many brick-and-mortar shops needed to shift largely online, livestreaming can provide opportunities for small businesses to connect with their customers and prospects in real-time.

Miranda Pinto, owner of La Piccolina Baby Boutique in Lincoln, CA, turned to Facebook Live in an effort to keep sales afloat after having to close her doors to walk-in customers.

Initial livestream attempts were hampered by poor internet upload speeds at her store, so she and an assistant grabbed piles of clothing and headed to Pinto’s house to do their first big online sale.

“I felt totally out of my element as a video host, but I know my product, so I just kept talking and describing each item.”

Pinto says the sales just kept coming in. “We use a subscription-based tool called ‘Comment Sold’ to track sales and send invoices.” 

“I credit livestreaming with saving my business and giving homebound moms an easy and fun way to shop locally for baby clothing.”

Pinto says each sale she conducts on Facebook Live lasts 1-2 hours, and creates the income normally earned in 2-4 days of walk-in sales when the store is open.

Live Streaming Platforms 

So if these stories have inspired you, it’s time to choose a livestreaming platform to focus on. That involves figuring out where your potential audience is (or, upon which platform you want to build a presence). There are more choices than ever, but it’s better to get started with one. 

Next, let’s go over a brief overview of each popular livestreaming platform.

1. Facebook Live

Facebook is undeniably the most popular social platform worldwide, with more than 2.7 billion monthly active users.

Facebook Live allows you to broadcast to the world in real-time, and live video is more often prioritized by the algorithm and shown in your news feed.

Facebook Live is an effective way of providing training and information in Facebook Groups, and many Business Pages use it to reach out to followers with how-to demonstrations, product unboxings, trainings, and sales events.

It’s easy to go live via the Facebook app on your phone, or through Facebook Studio on a desktop or laptop.

2. Twitter and Periscope

Periscope is Twitter’s live broadcasting app, which launched in March 2015. When you go live, you broadcast to the app and your followers get a push notification that you’re live.

Your livestream is also shown in user’s Twitter feeds if your accounts are linked with the same username.

For this reason, use of hashtags in the broadcast title can result in a bigger audience.

You can also broadcast directly from the Twitter app using the “Live” button. Twitter is known as the place to go for “what’s happening now”, so livestreams involving timely events are popular.

3. Instagram Live

2020 marks Instagram’s 10th year of operation, and the service has about 1 billion active users.

That userbase could grow even more with Instagram’s recent release of Reels, its answer to Tik Tok for creating short videos that can go viral.

Instagram Live also offers a feature that lets you bring one guest at a time into the broadcast.

Instead of expiring after 24 hours, any Instagram Live broadcasts that you want to save can now be shared to your Instagram TV channel.

Best Livestreaming Equipment

Once you’ve chosen the right platform for your needs, you’ll need to ensure you have the equipment necessary to create high-quality live videos.

Livestreams don’t have to be perfect, but it is critical to have good lighting, great audio, and a steady shot. Here are some of the options I recommend regularly to clients who want to put on a great broadcast.

1. Lighting

Natural light on your face always looks great, so if your computer desk faces a window that lets in ambient outdoor light (rather than direct, harsh sunlight), it will provide a natural look.

If natural light isn’t available, you can add LED lighting. Dimmable LED ring lights are popular, and the better ones are bi-color.

That means they have control knobs to let you “warm” the color of the light to match the tone of the room, or “cool” the color to mimick the look of outdoor light.

Ring lights, such as the Dracast Halo 180, come in a popular 18″ size, which generally requires mounting on an aluminum light stand.

A smartphone or video camera can be mounted inside the ring and set at eye-level, giving your face a nice, even glow.

There are also smaller desktop ring lights available, such as the Neewer 10″ ring light, or GVM rectangular ring light, which can hold your smartphone or serve as a webcam light by peeking over the top of your computer monitor.

The Lume Cube company has created LED lighting specifically for video conferencing, including a rectangular light with a suction mount that sticks to the back of your computer monitor.

2. Audio

Viewers will often put up with less-than-perfect video quality, but if the audio is poor, don’t expect them to hang around your livestream for long.

Poor audio is an issue for either smartphone broadcasting — where the built-in microphone picks up lots of annoying background noise — or for streaming from a laptop computer, where the cheap internal mic often produces thin-sounding audio that’s hard to listen to for long periods of time.

One solution for smartphones is a simple wired lavaliere smartphone mic, such as the YouMic.

The mic clips onto your shirt, blouse or blazer, and the cord connects to the audio jack on your smartphone.

If you have an iPhone 7 or newer, you’ll also need the Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapter that came with your phone.

Connect your mic to the adapter, and the adapter to the Lightning port.

If you’d prefer to go wireless, a dependable lightweight system like the Rode Wireless Go is a great solution. The receiver and transmitter are very small and operate for seven hours on built-in rechargeable batteries.

Additionally, the transmitter has a built-in mic, so you can just clip it to your jacket.

Or, to be more discreet, Rode’s plug-in Lavaliere Go mic can be purchased separately so you can ditch the transmitter in a pocket and use the small clip-on microphone.

Another option is the similar Pixel wireless lavaliere microphone.

If you’ve had experiences sitting on a Zoom call for hours, you know how hard it can be on the brain to listen to tinny audio from participants speaking from echo-y home offices.

A solution for this is to use a plug-in USB microphone with your laptop or desktop computer so you can get your voice closer to a microphone.

One option is the Fifine wired clip-on lavaliere USB microphone. Simply plug the connector into any available USB port on your computer, and then change the audio selection in your webinar software or livestreaming app to the new audio source.

Another high-quality option would be a USB microphone typically used for recording podcasts.

The Audio-Technica ATR-2100X, the Fifine PC Microphone, and the Rode NT USB microphones are all examples of podcasting-style mics that connect quickly to your computer and will skyrocket the quality of your audio.

Note that although these microphones all come with small desktop stands, the best approach is to mount them to an articulating boom arm that clamps to the edge of your desk. That will prevent the mic stand from transmitting any thumps and bumps created by your hands or elbows tapping your desk surface.

3. Tripods

Shaky video can be incredibly distracting and frustrating when someone is watching a livestream.

Fortunately, there are lots of options to help you have a steady shot. If you already have a video or camera tripod and will be livestreaming from a smartphone, you can simply attach a smartphone mount.

My favorites are the Square Jellyfish metal smartphone mount, or the Arkon Road-Vise heavy duty smartphone mount.If you don’t have a tripod, one place to begin is with a mini-tripod that sits on a desk and has an extendable middle column.

The Benro BK-15, when placed on a desk, will extend to the equivalent of full standing height for standup presentations or interviews.

The advantage to a small tripod like this is that you can easily move it from room to room, walk with it while you talk, or throw it in your messenger bag so you’re always prepared to livestream.

For other uses, you might need a floorstanding tripod. The least expensive option is to buy a basic tripod like this Endurax aluminum tripod. It extends to 66 inches.

Tripods in this price range often have a plastic pan/tilt assembly, which is fine if your camera will be locked down and not moved, but often doesn’t allow for smooth camera movement.

If you’ll be panning and tilting and following the action during your livestream, go for a more expensive tripod that has a fluid head.

A fluid head mechanism gives very smooth camera movements which look professional. One of my personal favorites is the Manfrotto Be Free aluminum Lever Lock video tripod. It is only 16″ long when folded for transport.

And for livestreaming on the go, there’s nothing like a 3-axis electric smartphone gimbal. A gimbal holds your smartphone level and steady while you walk, giving you silky-smooth Steadicam-like results.

I use the Benro 3XS gimbal, and one of the main reasons I love it is because it does not block the Lightning port on a smartphone like many gimbals do — that’s important if you want to connect a microphone to the port do to a walk-and-talk narration during your livestream.

A single push of a button rotates the phone from horizontal to vertical, and the mounting arm also folds for compact storage.

New equipment is constantly coming out for smartphone video shooting and livestreaming, allowing you to ensure that your video will be wonderfully watchable.

On-Camera Confidence

Assuming you have selected your platform, have a smartphone mic, LED light and tripod, it’s time to curate your confidence so you come across well on video. Keep in mind the following tips:

  • No, you don’t look weird or sound weird on video, so stop judging yourself!
  • We usually need to ramp up our energy a bit for video. If it helps, before you go live play a favorite song from your playlist that gets you pumped up. Dance around like a crazy person for a couple of minutes. Anything to get the blood moving and get a dose of energy!
  • Remember, like I told you earlier, it’s not about you. Focus on the people you’re helping.
  • If you’re livestreaming from a laptop, do whatever you need to do to get the webcam lens at eye level. That may require propping your laptop up on a box or a stack of books if you’re using the unit’s internal webcam.
  • Be sure to smile (as appropriate). You want to appear open, approachable, and authentic.
  • If you normally gesture wildly as you talk, reel it in so your movements are appropriate for a tighter webcam image.
  • If you’re in charge of the livestream and are primarily the one presenting information, do whatever you can to keep people engaged. Ask questions and tell viewers to put their answers in the chat. You can also “flag” important points, by saying things like: “If you’re multi-tasking right now, come back to me because I’m about to give you some really important information.”

Remember, livestreaming is a mix of using your best presentation skills and some smart tech to make sure that you’re communicating clearly and effectively.

It is also a skill that you can develop over time. If you’re looking for more tips related to livestreaming, take a look at our checklist for getting started with your first livestream

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Author: Kerry Shearer

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The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads [Examples]

If you’re considering spending any amount of money on ads to reach your target audience, you’d better spend it in the right place.

That is, somewhere with over 259 million unique visitors and 4.8 billion daily interactions.

Somewhere like … Google.

Google Ads was launched just two years after what has become the most popular website in the world: Google.com. The advertising platform came on the scene in October 2000 as Google Adwords, but after some rebranding in 2018, it was renamed Google Ads.

Given Google’s expansive reach, chances are you’ve seen (and probably clicked on) a Google ad … and so have your potential customers.

In this guide you’ll discover how to begin advertising on Google. We’ll cover features specific to the platform and teach you how to optimize your campaigns to achieve the best results with your ads.

It’s no secret that, these days, the stronger and more focused your paid campaigns are, the more clicks you generate — leading to a greater probability of obtaining new customers.

This is why Google Ads has become increasingly popular among businesses across all industries.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is a paid advertising platform that falls under a marketing channel known as pay-per-click (PPC), where you (the advertiser) pays per click or per impression (CPM) on an ad.

Google Ads is an effective way to drive qualified traffic, or good-fit customers, to your business while they’re searching for products and services like the ones you offer. With Google Ads, you can boost your website traffic, receive more phone calls, and increase your in-store visits.

Google Ads allows you to create and share well-timed ads (via both mobile and desktop) among your target audience. This means your business will show up on the search engine results page (SERP) at the moment your ideal customers are looking for products and services like yours via Google Search or Google Maps. This way, you reach your target audience when it makes sense for them to come across your ad.

Note: Ads from the platform can span across other channels too, including YouTube, Blogger, and Google Display Network.

Over time, Google Ads will also help you analyze and improve those ads to reach more people so your business can hit all of your paid campaign goals.

Discover how HubSpot can help you better manage your Google ads.

Additionally, no matter the size of your business or your available resources, you can tailor your ads to suit your budget. The Google Ads tool gives you the opportunity to stay within your monthly cap and even pause or stop your ad spending at any point in time.

Now, onto another important question: Is Google Ads really effective? To answer this, let’s consider a few statistics:

  • Google Ads have a click-through rate of nearly 8%.
  • Display ads yield 180 million impressions each month.
  • For users who are ready to buy, paid ads on Google get 65% of the clicks.
  • 43% of customers buy something they’ve seen on a YouTube ad.

Why advertise on Google?

Google is the most used search engine, receiving over 5 billion search queries a day. Not to mention, the Google Ads platform has been around for nearly two decades, giving it some seniority in the area of paid advertising.

Google is a resource used by people around the world to ask questions that are answered with a combination of paid advertisements and organic results.

And, according to Google, advertisers make $8 for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. So, there are a few reasons why you’d want to consider advertising on Google.

Need another reason? Your competitors are using Google Ads (and they might even be bidding on your branded terms). Hundreds of thousands of companies use Google Ads to promote their businesses, which means that even if you’re ranking organically for a search term, your results are being pushed down the page, beneath your competitors.

If you’re using PPC to advertise your product or services, Google Ads should be a part of your paid strategy — there’s no way around it (except maybe Facebook Ads, but that’s another article).

Google Ads Best Practices

If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to advertise on Google, don’t give up. There are many reasons why your Google Ads could be underperforming. Let’s cover some common Google Ads best practices.

1. Avoid broad keyword terms.

You really need to nail it when it comes to your keywords, which is why testing and tweaking should be a part of your strategy. If your keywords are too broad, Google will be placing your ad in front of the wrong audience which means fewer clicks and a higher ad spend.

Review what’s working (i.e. which keywords are generating clicks) and adjust them to best match your ads with your target audience. You likely won’t get the mix right the first time, but you should keep adding, removing, and tweaking keywords until you do.

Tip: Review the keyword strategies that we cover below.

2. Don’t run irrelevant ads.

If your ad doesn’t match the searcher’s intent, you won’t get enough clicks to justify your ad spend. Your headline and ad copy need to match the keywords you’re bidding on, and the solution your ad is marketing needs to solve whatever pain point that searcher is experiencing.

It’s a combination that will yield the results you’re looking for, and it may just be a few tweaks away. You have the option to create multiple ads per campaign — use this feature to split test which ads work best. Or, better yet, use Google’s Responsive Search Ads feature.

Tip: Read our best practices for ad copy.

3. Improve your Quality Score (QS).

Your Quality Score (QS) is how Google determines how your ad should rank. The higher your rank, the better your placements. If your quality score is low, you’ll have fewer eyeballs on your ad and fewer chances to convert. Google will tell you your Quality Score, but improving it is up to you.

Tip: Keep reading to learn how to improve your QS.

4. Optimize your ad landing page.

Your efforts shouldn’t stop with your ad — the user experience after a click is equally important.

What does your user see once they click your ad? Is your landing page optimized for conversions, meaning does it use the same keywords? Does the page solve your user’s pain point or answer their question? Your user should experience a seamless transition through to the conversion.

Tip: Review landing page best practices and implement them to increase your conversion rate.

These common terms will help you set up, manage, and optimize your Google Ads. Some of these are specific to Google Ads, while others are related to PPC in general. Either way, you’ll need to know these to run an effective ad campaign.

1. AdRank

Your AdRank determines your ad placement. The higher the value, the better you’ll rank, the more eyes will fall on your ad, and the higher the probability that users will click your ad. Your AdRank is determined by your maximum bid multiplied by your Quality Score.

2. Bidding

Google Ads is based on a bidding system, where you as the advertiser selects a maximum bid amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. The higher your bid, the better your placement. You have three options for bidding: CPC, CPM, or CPE.

  • CPC, or cost-per-click, is the amount you pay for each click on your ad.
  • CPM, or cost per mille, is the amount you pay for one thousand ad impressions, that is when your ad is shown to a thousand people.
  • CPE, or cost per engagement, is the amount you pay when someone takes a predetermined action with your ad.

And, yes, we’ll review bidding strategies below.

3. Campaign Type

Before you begin a paid campaign on Google Ads, you’ll select between one of three campaign types: search, display, or video.

  • Search ads are text ads that are displayed among search results on a Google results page.
  • Display ads are typically image-based and are shown on web pages within the Google Display Network.
  • Video ads are between six and 15 seconds and appear on YouTube.

4. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your CTR is the number of clicks you get on your ad as a proportion of the number of views your ad gets. A higher CTR indicates a quality ad that matches search intent and targets relevant keywords.

5. Conversion Rate (CVR)

CVR is a measure of form submissions as a proportion of total visits to your landing page. Simplistically speaking, a high CVR means that your landing page presents a seamless user experience that matches the promise of the ad.

6. Display Network

Google ads can be displayed on either search results pages or a web page within Google’s Display Network (GDN). GDN is a network of websites that allow space on their webpages for Google Ads — these ads can be text-based or image ads and are displayed alongside content relevant to your target keywords. The most popular Display Ad options are Google Shopping and app campaigns.

7. Extensions

Ad Extensions allow you to supplement your ad with additional information at no additional cost. These extensions fall under one of five categories: Sitelink, Call, Location, Offer, or App; we’ll cover each of these ad extensions below.

8. Keywords

When a Google user types a query into the search field, Google returns a range of results that match the searcher’s intent. Keywords are words or phrases that align with what a searcher wants and will satisfy their query. You select keywords based on which queries you want to display your ad alongside. For example, a searcher that types “how to clean gum off shoes” will see results for advertisers that targeted keywords like “gum on shoes” and “clean shoes.”

Negative keywords are a list of keyword terms that you do
not want to rank for. Google will pull you from the bid on these keywords. Typically, these are semi-related to your intended search terms but fall outside of the realm of what you offer or want to rank for.

9. PPC

Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a type of advertising where the advertiser pays per click on an ad. PPC is not specific to Google Ads, but it is the most common type of paid campaign. It’s important to understand the ins and outs of PPC before launching your first Google Ads campaign.

10. Quality Score (QS)

Your Quality Score measures the quality of your ad by your click-through rate (CTR), the relevance of your keywords, the quality of your landing page, and your past performance on the SERP. QS is a determining factor in your AdRank.

Click to get our free guide on how to use Google Ads.

How does Google Ads work?

Google Ads displays your ad to potential leads or customers who are interested in your product or service. Advertisers bid on search terms, or keywords, and the winners of that bid are placed at the top of search results pages, on YouTube videos, or on relevant websites, depending on the type of ad campaign selected.

Many factors impact your ability to create effective and high-performing Google Ads. Let’s cover them below, plus some Google Ads examples.

AdRank and Quality Score

AdRank determines the placement of your ads, and Quality Score is one of the two factors (the other being bid amount) that determines your AdRank. Remember, your Quality Score is based on the quality and relevance of your ad, and Google measures that by how many people click on your ad when it’s displayed — i.e. your CTR. You CTR depends on the how well your ad matches searcher intent, which you can deduce from three areas:

  1. The relevance of your keywords
  2. If your ad copy and CTA deliver what the searcher expects based on their search
  3. The user experience of your landing page

Your QS is where you should focus most of your attention when you first set up your Google Ad campaign — even before you increase your bid amount. The higher your QS, the lower your acquisition costs will be and the better placement you’ll get.

Location

When you first set up your Google Ad, you’ll select a geographical area where your ad will be shown. If you have a storefront, this should be in a reasonable radius around your physical location. If you have an ecommerce store and a physical product, your location should be set in the places where you ship. If you provide a service or product that is accessible worldwide, then the sky’s the limit.

Your location settings will play a role in placement. For instance, if you own a yoga studio in San Francisco, someone in New York that enters “yoga studio” will not see your result, no matter your AdRank. That’s because Google’s main objective is to display the most relevant results to searchers, even when you’re paying.

Keywords

Keyword research is just as important for paid ads as it is for organic search. Your keywords need to match searcher intent as much as possible. That’s because Google matches your ad with search queries based on the keywords you selected.

Each ad group that you create within your campaign will target a small set of keywords (one to five keywords is optimal) and Google will display your ad based on those selections.

Match Types

Match Types give you a little wiggle room when it comes to your keyword selections — they tell Google whether you want to match a search query exactly or if your ad should be shown to anyone with a search query that’s semi-related. There are four match types to choose from:

  • Broad Match is the default setting that uses any word within your keyword phrase in any order. For example, “goat yoga in Oakland” will match “goat yoga” or “yoga Oakland.”
  • Modified Broad Match allows you to lock in certain words within a keyword phrase by denoting them with a “+” sign. Your matches will include that locked-in word at the very least. For example, “+goats yoga in Oakland” could yield “goats,” “goats like food,” or “goats and yoga.”
  • Phrase Match will match with queries that include your keyword phrase in the exact order but may include additional words before or after it. For example, “goat yoga” can yield “spotted goat yoga” or “goat yoga with puppies.”
  • Exact Match maintains your keyword phrase as it is written in the exact order. For example, “goat yoga” will not show up if someone types “goats yoga” or “goat yoga class.”

If you’re just starting out and don’t know exactly how your persona will be searching, move from a broad match to a more narrow approach so you can test which queries yield the best results. However, since your ad will be ranking for many queries (some unrelated) you should keep a close eye on your ads and modify them as you can gain new information.

Headline and Description

Your ad copy can be the difference between a click on your ad and a click on your competitor’s ad. It’s important that your ad copy matches the searcher’s intent, is aligned with your target keywords, and addresses the personas pain point with a clear solution.

To illustrate what we mean, let’s review an example.

google ads copy and headline

A search for “baby swim lessons” yielded this result. The copy is concise and uses the limited space wisely to convey their message and connect with their target audience.

The Swim Revolution knew to put the keyword in their headline so we instantly know that this ad matches what we’re looking for. The description tells us why this is the best option for swim lessons because it addresses the concerns of their persona — a parent looking to enroll their baby in a swim class.

They use words like “skills,” “fun,” “confidence,” and “comfort in the water” to ease our nerves about putting a baby in a pool and to prove to us that we will get what we want out of this class — an infant that can swim.

This kind of ad copy will get you clicks, but conversions will result from carrying this level of intention into your landing page copy.

Ad Extensions

If you’re running Google Ads, you should be using Ad Extensions for two reasons: they’re free, and they give users additional information and another reason to interact with your ad. These extensions fall within one of these five categories:

  • Sitelink Extensions extend your add — helping you stand out — and provide additional links to your site that offer users more enticing reasons to click.

    google ads sitelink extensions

  • Call Extensions allow you to incorporate your phone number in your ad so users have an additional (and instant) way to reach out to you. If you have a customer service team that is ready to engage and convert your audience, then include your phone number.

    google ads call extensions

  • Location Extensions include your location and phone number within your ad so Google can offer searchers a map to easily find you. This option is great for businesses with a storefront and it works well for the search query “…near me.”

    google ads location extensions

  • Offer Extensions work if you’re running a current promotion. It can entice users to click your ad over others if they see that your options are discounted compared to your competitors.

    google ads offer extensions

  • App Extensions provide a link to an app download for mobile users. This reduces the friction from having to perform a new search to find and download the app in an AppStore.

    google ads app extensions

Google Ads Retargeting

Retargeting (or remarketing) in Google Ads is a way to advertise to users who have previously interacted with you online but have not yet converted. Tracking cookies will follow users around the web and target these users with your ads. Remarketing is effective since prospects need to see your marketing at least seven times before they become a customer.

You can select from one of five campaign types on Google Ads. Let’s cover the optimal uses for each and why you might choose one over the other.

1. Search Ad Campaigns

Search ads are text ads that are displayed on Google results pages. As an example, a search for “pocket squares” returns sponsored results:

types of google ads search ads campaigns

The benefit of search ads is that you’re displaying your ad in the place where most searchers look for information first — on Google. And Google shows your ad in the same format as other results (except for denoting it as an “Ad”) so users are accustomed to seeing and clicking on results.

Responsive Search Ads

Responsive search ads allow you to enter multiple versions of headlines and ad copy (15 and four variations, respectively) for Google to select the best performers to display to users. With traditional ads, create one static version of your ad, using the same headline and description each time.

Responsive ads allow for a dynamic ad that is auto-tested until you arrive at the version that is best suited for your target audience — for Google, that means until you get the most clicks.

2. Display Ad Campaigns

Google has a network of websites in various industries and with an array of audiences that opt in to display Google Ads, known as the Google Display Network. The benefit to the website owner is that they’re paid per click or impression on the ads. The benefit to advertisers is that they can get their content in front of audiences that are aligned with their personas.

These are typically image ads that draw users attention away from the content on the webpage:

google ads display ad

Source

3. Video Ad Campaigns

Video ads are displayed before or after (and sometimes in the middle of) YouTube videos. Remember, YouTube is a search engine, too. The right keywords will place you in front of a video, disrupting the user’s behavior just enough to grab their attention.

Here’s a video advertisement that pops up in the middle of another video on how to tie a tie:

google ads video ads youtube

Source

4. App Ad Campaigns

Google App Campaigns promote your mobile application through an ad displayed on Google Search Network, YouTube, Google Play, Google Display Network, and more. You can run ads that encourage your audience to install your app or, if they already use it, to take a certain action within your app.

Unlike other ad types, you don’t design an App ad campaign. Instead, provide Google with your app’s information and audience, and place a bid. Google does the rest to get your app in front of the right eyes:

types of google ads app ads campaigns

Source

5. Shopping Ad Campaigns

Another type of Google Ad is Google Shopping Ad Campaigns. Shopping campaigns, like these other types of ads, are displayed on SERPs and include detailed product information such as price and product imagery. You can run a Shopping campaign through Google Merchant Center, where you input specific product information that Google pulls from to create your shopping ads.

Instead of marketing your brand as a whole, Shopping Ads allow you to promote specific products and product lines. That’s why, when you search for a particular product on Google, you’ll see ads for different brands pop up along the top and/or side. This is what I see when I search “running shoes.” The ads at the top are Google Search ads, but the specific products advertised on the side are Shopping ads optimized for the keyword “running shoes”:

types of google ads google shopping ads

How to Use and Create Google Ads

Setting up your paid campaigns on Google is relatively easy (and quick), mostly because the platform takes you through the setup and provides helpful hints along the way. Once you visit the Google Ads site and click “Start Now,” you’ll be taken through a series of steps to get your ads up and running. If you have your ad copy and/or images created, set up should take you no more than 10 minutes.

What may be less obvious are all the additional things you need to do to make sure your ads are optimally set up and easily trackable. Let’s cover these together. These are the steps you’ll take once your ads are submitted for review.

1. Link Google Analytics.

You likely have Google Analytics set up on your website so you can track traffic, conversions, goals, and any unique metrics. You also need to link your Analytics account to Google Ads. Linking these accounts will make tracking, analyzing, and reporting between channels and campaigns much easier because you can view these events in one place.

google ads link google analytics

2. Add UTM codes.

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes are used by Google to track any activity associated with a specific link. You’ve probably seen them before — it’s the part of a URL that follows a question mark (“?”). UTM codes will tell you which offer or ad led to a conversion so you can track the most effective parts of your campaign. UTM codes make it easier to optimize your Google Ads since you know exactly what’s working.

The trick, though, is to add your UTM codes at the campaign level when you set up your Google Ads so you don’t have to do so manually for each ad URL. Otherwise, you can add them manually with Google’s UTM builder.

google ads set up utm codes google campaign url builder

3. Set up conversion tracking.

Conversion tracking tells you exactly how many customers or leads you’ve acquired from your ad campaigns. It’s not mandatory to set up but, without it, you’ll be guessing the ROI of your ads. Conversion tracking allows you to track sales (or other activities) on your website, app installs, or calls from your ads.

google ads conversion tracking

Manage and organize your ads with our free Google Ads Kit and Templates.

4. Integrate your Google Ads with your CRM.

There is something to be said about keeping all of your data in one place where you can track, analyze, and report on it. You already use your CRM to track contact data and lead flows. Integrating Google Ads with your CRM gives you the ability to track which ad campaigns are working for your audience so you can continue marketing to them with offers that are relevant.

google ads integration hubspot crm

Source

Google Ads Bidding Strategies

Once you’ve set up your ad campaigns and have tracking in place, it’s time to start bidding. Remember, your ability to rank in Google Ads depends on how you bid. While your bid amount will depend on your budget and goals, there are a few strategies and bid settings you should be aware of when launching your paid campaign.

Automated vs. Manual Bidding

You have two options when it comes to bidding on your keywords — automated and manual. Here’s how they work:

  • Automated Bidding puts Google in the driver’s seat and allows the platform to adjust your bid based on your competitors. You can still set a maximum budget, and Google will work within a range to give you the best chance at winning the bid within those constraints.
  • Manual Bidding let’s you set the bid amounts for your ad groups and keywords, giving you the chance to reduce spending on low-performing ads.

Bidding on Branded Search Terms

Branded terms are those with your company or unique product name in them, like “HubSpot CRM.” There is much debate on whether to bid on your branded terms or not. On one side of the debate, bidding on terms that will likely yield organic results could be seen as a waste of money.

On the other side, bidding on these terms gives you domain over these search results pages and helps you convert prospects that are further along the flywheel. For instance, if I’ve been doing research on live chat tools and am heavily considering HubSpot’s Live Chat, then a simple search for “HubSpot live chat software” will yield exactly the result I’m looking for without the effort of scrolling.

The other argument in favor of bidding on your branded terms is that competitors may bid on them if you don’t, thereby taking up valuable real estate that should belong to you.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

If the idea of spending money to convert prospects into leads makes you uneasy, then you can set a CPA instead and only pay when a user converts into a customer. While this bidding strategy could cost more, you can take comfort in knowing that you only pay when you acquire a paying customer. This strategy makes it easy to track and justify your ad spend.

Additional Resources to Optimize Your Google Ads

Your ad copy and headline is not the only component that will make your paid campaign successful. Getting a user to click is only the beginning … they should arrive on a landing page that’s optimized for conversion and then be taken to a Thank You page that tells them what to do next.

If you want your Google Ads to produce qualified leads and customers, then check out these additional resources and use them as guidelines as you set up your Google Ads campaign.

Start Your Campaign

Given its reach and authority, Google Ads should be a part of your paid strategy. Use the tips we covered to get started, and remember to refine and iterate as you go.

There’s no such thing as a Google Ads campaign that doesn’t work — there are only ones that need a bit more work. Using the strategy and information provided above, you have what you need to create a successful Google Ad campaign that drives clicks and converts leads.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Create Facebook Video Ads, According to HubSpot Advertisers

During the last few years, Facebook has emerged as a real contender for the online video platform throne. In wake of several new video features being introduced and a heavy video focus from Mark Zuckerberg, the social media giant has over 500 million people watching Facebook videos every day.

Facebook’s increased focus on video isn’t only because users like to watch it (although they clearly do) — it’s also because more marketers are shifting their budgets from TV to mobile video. The allure for advertisers lies in Facebook’s hyper-surgical targeting possibilities and the results Facebook videos can deliver.

If you’re one of those marketers who wants to dive into advertising with Facebook videos — but isn’t sure where to start — keep on reading.

Below we’ll review the types of Facebook video ads and how to create an effective ad with tips from HubSpot advertisers. Then, we’ll look at some examples to put it all into practice.

1. Slideshow

You might think that recording and creating a video for a Facebook ad is a daunting task. However, with slideshow ads, all you need to do is create a video using only photos and text.

Whether you use your own photos or stock images, slideshow ads are easier to put together and don’t take too much time.

This is a great way to engage audiences without spending time and money on creating a video.

2. Stories

If you’ve created a video for your Facebook feed, you can repurpose the same content as an ad that will play in Facebook stories.

Story ads are a great way to reach your audience where they’re at.

3. In-stream

In-stream ads are the closest way to replicate traditional TV advertising on social media.

For this type of ad, you’ll create a video that will play when people are watching Facebook videos. If you’ve ever watched native content that was interrupted by an ad, that was an in-stream ad.

Now that you know the type of ads, let’s discuss how you’ll create and launch an effective Facebook video.

1. Set your objectives.

The first step of any marketing effort is to decide what you want to accomplish. In your Facebook video ad campaign, are you trying to increase brand awareness or drive conversions? Choosing what you’re going to prioritize should affect what kind of video you should create and how you should distribute it.

So choose your KPIs and plan accordingly. Below I’ve organized some common KPIs around three categories: engagement, audience reach, and brand lift.

Conversion KPIs

  • Clicks
  • CTR
  • Revenue Generated

Engagement KPIs

  • Engagement (Share, likes, comments)
  • Audience Retention (How much of your video the viewer watch)
  • Relevance Score (How relevant your video is to your audience)

Audience Reach KPIs

  • Impressions (How many people viewed your video)
  • Percent of In-Target Audience (What percent of your target audience you reached)
  • Brand awareness

By choosing which metrics you want to track and what goals you’re trying to reach before you actually start creating your video, you’re more likely to be successful.

2. Choose your target audience.

Who are you targeting with your video ad campaign? Yankee fans between 30-40? Newlyweds who shop at Costco? Millennials who play Minecraft? Or the people who already like your Facebook page?

The true power of video advertising on Facebook is the targeting capabilities. Forget spray and pray — you need a hyper-targeted group of people for your ad’s audience. Narrowing your target group will give you less overall views, but because you’re reaching only the people who are relevant, your CTR is likely to be higher.

Leticia De Bortoli, a principal video editor at HubSpot, says, “Think like a user. People don’t go on Facebook to watch ads, and most people actually want to avoid ads at all cost. With that in mind you have to invest in your ad. Take the time to create something very compelling that can act as a thumbstopper, otherwise people will scroll right by your ad.”

She adds, “Take the time to learn about your target audience. You might find specific interests and behaviors that can inform your creative and help you develop more compelling ads.”

Which targeting options you should have is dependent on what target audience you have, but here are some key targeting options for an effective Facebook video ad campaign:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Behavior
  • Relationship status
  • Work (Job title, Office type)
  • Financial income
  • Home (Type, Value, Ownership)
  • Market segment (Ethnicity, Generation, Household composition)
  • Parents (Age of children)
  • Life events
  • Device owner

If you go to the “Audience Insights” page in the Facebook Ads Manager, you can play around with the different options to define your target audience. Hopefully you have a pretty good idea about who your target market is based on your buyer persona research, but finding the best audience for your video ads might require a few attempts.

This is a prime opportunity to really confirm your optimal target audience. What target audience has the highest CTR? What target audience has the highest LTV? Use the data you get from your campaigns to evaluate both your Facebook campaigns and your larger marketing strategy.

3. Plan the video creative.

With your KPIs and target audience decided, you know what you want to accomplish and the people you want to reach. Now it’s time to plan your video creation. A good, solid plan for your video will increase the chances of it coming out looking good. Here are the things you should decide before you even touch a camera.

  • What is your topic? For example, if you’re in the boat paint business, you might choose a topic like “How to buy the right environmentally friendly boat paint.”
  • What will your key takeaway be? What message do you want to convey to your audience? For example, “Our metal-free bottom paint lasts longer than normal paints and is more environmentally friendly.”
  • What is your CTA? For example, “Use this code to buy our metal-free bottom paint for 20% before August 1st!”

De Bortoli says to keep in mind that less is more.

“In social media advertising, one second is a lot of time. Have one clear message and one clear story that will center all the other elements of your ad,” she says. “Focus on delivering that central message in a very interesting way, instead of having multiple messages fighting to coexist in a few seconds.”

Megan McCall, a motion designer at HubSpot, agrees.

“Make the first 5 seconds the most compelling part of the ad. It’s tempting to leave the pay-off of the ad until the end, but it’s likely a user will catch your ad while scrolling, so you want to appeal to them early and make it clear what your company is about,” McCall adds. “That’s why we often try to put the UI early, along with a mention of our brand and a clear value prop.”

Keeping all this in mind, it’s time to write the script. Write up what you want to say, how you’re going to say it (if you’re doing a voice-over), and what graphics and text you need. Make sure that your message is on point and not too long. It should sound natural when read aloud. And try to keep what you say to a minimum — when it comes to online video ads, “less is more” is a better approach.

4. Create the video.

This is where things can get a little bit complicated. What kind of gear you need all depends on your experience level and how often you’re planning to do videos in the future.

For most beginners, a good smartphone and a microphone could be enough to get some decent photos or videos. But if you are devoting more resources to video, you might consider trading up to some higher quality gear and thinking about lighting and studio set up.

McCall says, “When you create a video, include your logo or a mention of your brand in the first 5 seconds. Monday.com does a great job at this here.

Additionally, she says to consider adding burned in captions for viewers who don’t use sound.

Rex Gelb, the director of acquisition analytics and paid advertising at HubSpot, says, “The best video ads on Facebook tend to grab people’s attention in the first couple of seconds. People are busy and scrolling through their feeds fast — you have about 2 seconds and 2 inches of real estate to engage them before they fly by. Make it count!”

If you are looking to easily create videos from the product photos you’ve already got, check out this guide. And if you’re looking to up your video game, check out Wistia’s DIY office studio guide.

5. Set up your Facebook campaign.

Once you’ve created your video, it’s time to set up your Facebook video ad campaign. Setting up a video ad on Facebook is relatively straight-forward process, especially if you’re used to setting up normal Facebook ads. Facebook does a good job of walking you through the process of setting up the campaign through either the Ad Manager or the Power Editor. Here are the basic steps you need to go through:

  1. Start creating an ad and choose “Video Views” as your objective. You could choose to “Boost Post” as well, but choosing “Video Views” will give you a lower cost per view.
  2. Choose your audience. Like I mentioned before, you have a wealth of targeting options at your disposal. You can also retarget previous website visitors or use any of the Custom Audiences you might already have, like your email list or app users. You can also target the fans of your Facebook page.
  3. Set budget and pricing. Choose how much you want to spend, over what time, and what you want to optimize your ad for.
  4. Upload your video. Be sure to choose your video thumbnail carefully — it could affect your views.
  5. Edit your ad copy. Add the text copy and your CTA. Choose where you want your ad to be served, on web or mobile or both.

6. Track your campaign.

Here are a few ways to track the different metrics I mentioned earlier in the post.

Conversion KPIs

Use a URL with UTM codes to track the traffic from the ad to your website. Your marketing software should make it easy for you to track incoming traffic and subsequent conversions, and compare your video campaign to other campaigns you’ve run.

You can also use Facebook Conversion Pixels to see the long-tail effect of your video campaign. For example, if someone visits your site after watching an ad, leaves, and then comes back, that information would be shown in the conversions column of your Facebook ad analytics.

Engagement KPIs

Tracking your engagement KPIs is a relatively straightforward process. Just go into the Ads Manager, choose “Campaigns,” and click on your ad to see how it performed.

Audience Reach KPIs

Similar to engagement, audience reach is simple to track on Facebook. On the “Campaign Report” page, see how many people viewed your ad and what your Relevance Score is. The Relevance Score will help you evaluate if your target audience actually liked your video. If your Relevance Score is poor compared to scores for other ads shown to your audience, Facebook will limit the reach of your video. The better the video and the better the targeting, the better your Relevance Score will be.

7. Evaluate your campaign.

After your video campaign is over, it is time to take a step back and evaluate how successful your campaign was. Go back and check your KPIs and see if you hit your goals.

Conversion KPIs

How many conversions did you get from your video campaign? Did people who clicked through to your website bounce quickly, or did they convert on your content? Did retargeted visitors convert at a later stage?

Engagement KPIs

Did people who saw your video engage with it? How many shares, likes, and comments did you get? How many of those were from organic sharing?

Audience Reach KPIs

Did you plan on reaching 10,000 people with your video/budget, but only reached 7,000 people because your Relevance Score was too low? You might want to think about how good your video is and how well it is aligned with your audience’s wants. A good idea is to keep track of your videos’ performance in a spreadsheet — Social Media Examiner has a great template you can use. That way, you can compare and evaluate your different campaigns, and figure out what kind of videos actually resonates with your audience.

8. Iterate.

After you’ve evaluated your video campaign’s performance, it is time to do it again! Think about what went well and what you could improve. Is the video content you’re putting out good enough? Is your targeting on point? When you have enough data from previous campaigns, you can easily compare them to see what works and what doesn’t — and then make changes on future ads.

To really dive in deep, you might consider taking some lessons or classes on Facebook video ads, like the one HubSpot has.

Examples of Compelling Facebook Video Ads

1. Monday.com

This is a great Facebook ad because it mentions the brand/logo in the first few seconds. As a user, you immediately know what you’re getting.

Additionally, the script is easy-to-understand. There are plenty of quick cuts, which makes it more interesting to watch.

2. Colgate

This is one of the best ads I’ve seen on Facebook. Colgate chose a very compelling topic, “What would you do with your Tooth Fairy money?” In the first few seconds, you’re introduced to an engaging question and you can see that kids are going to be the ones answering the question.

Besides puppies, showcasing wholesome content is a great way to get people to stop and watch your video.

3. Squarespace

This Squarespace ad is compelling because the company showcased a celebrity partner. When you’re fighting in the first 2 seconds to get people to stop scrolling, showcasing their favorite celebrities is a great tactic.

Ultimately, creating Facebook ads is an important marketing tactic to consider. You can reach a lot of people in your audience, because most people watch videos on the social media site every day.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Author: Rebecca Riserbato

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What are Mini Apps & Why Marketers Should Care

With apps continuing to grow as a vital staple of everyday life, marketers continue to ask, “Do I need to have an app for my business?”

Luckily, unless your small business’ product is an app — or you have a skilled staff of developers, you probably don’t need to spend tons of time and money building one just yet. Brainstorming, developing, launching, and promoting an app is a lot of work for a small company. In that same amount of time, you can launch a mobile-optimized website or mobile email strategy that could earn you solid awareness and ROI.

But, if you’re a marketer at a digital startup, agency, or tech firm that thinks an app might be helpful for business, a more affordable development option could be on the horizon.

In 2020, some tech companies are starting to invest in “mini-apps.” And, as these programs expand, there might be room for companies to test the waters with a more compact app experience.

Mini-apps became a commodity on large-scale Chinese social media platforms as recently as 2017. During this year, WeChat’s founding company, Tencent, announced the launch of WeChat Mini Programs.

After showing success on apps like WeChat, miniature app-like experiences recently caught the attention of Western tech firms like Apple and Snapchat. These companies have begun to build out and launch similar programs to WeChat.

But what exactly do these apps look like, and how do they benefit the brands that launched them? Below, I’ll highlight a few major mini-program platforms and give you a look at what these mobile experiences look like for brands.

Early Mini-App Platforms

WeChat Mini Programs

A 2017 report from TechCrunch described Mini-Programs as basic app experiences that could be accessed via WeChat. Although tech journalists describe these as mini-apps, Tencent could not label them as “apps” because they worried about infringing upon Apple and Google trademarks.

To give you a visual perspective of how Mini-Programs look on WeChat, here’s a screenshot of what users see when accessing them. Although the text is in Chinese, the app’s native language, you can tell the programs are all sponsored by other companies:

WeChat mini-app homescreen

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When you tap on a Mini-Program, such as Tesla’s, you’ll stay on the WeChat app, but enter a new experience within it. With Tesla’s basic program, you can find charging stations for your car, or schedule test drives:

Tesla Mini-app on WeChat

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For users, a mini-program like Tesla’s gives them the ability to connect with friends on WeChat, while learning about Tesla in the same session. Meanwhile, Tesla’s content spreads awareness about its business to possible audiences or buyers who use WeChat.

At this point, the WeChat Mini Program is only available for the app’s original Chinese version, Weixin. However, if a marketer is trying to grow awareness on this platform, they can apply for a Mini Program account. Mini-program app creators will require a developer to create the experience. According to a WALKTHECHAT review of mini-programs, this aspect can be somewhat tricky:

“Mini-programs have to be developed in a specific ‘language’ (a JavaScript framework developed by Tencent). Developers have to write WXML, WXSS instead of traditional HTML and CSS, and leverage this framework for all their development,” the 2019 post noted.

Snap Minis

Snap Minis, announced in 2020, are miniature branded experiences within the Snapchat app. To access Snap Minis, a user opens a chat with a friend or group. Then they’ll click on the spaceship icon, which reveals a number of searchable mini-programs. These include a number of different branded experiences from games, to scheduling tools, to meditation applets.

Mini app experiences in the Snapchat mini program

When users click on a miniature program, such as Headspace, they can interact with it in basic ways, such as playing daily meditations. You can also share in-app experiences, such as the meditations you listened to or a score on a gaming app, with your Snapchat contacts.

Headspace mini experience within Snapchat

While Tesla’s WeChat Mini-Program spreads awareness of the car brand and its physical store locations, Snap’s Minis take things a step further as they offer content that audiences can share with others, rather than just interacting with it. This is a great option for tech marketers or digital brands that want people in the Snapchat demographic to actively share branded content with others in their community.

According to Snapchat, some development work is required before launching a Mini on its platform, but it is unclear if Snap or the partnering company will do most of the app development. Snap does note that Minis are easy-to-use build with HTML5 code.

At this point, brands interested must apply for early access to the Minis program. In the Snap application, businesses must include their contact information and explain what they’d like the Mini to be used for.

Apple App Clips

At this point, Apple Clips will still be inaccessible for brands that can’t make their own Apple App Store app. However, they are still an interesting example of mini-apps that are worth noting, especially if your brand does have an app.

Apple App Clips, which launched with iPhone IOS 10.14 update in 2020, are small features of a larger app that’s currently available in the App Store. Users can access App Clips by scanning QR codes, walking near an App Clip business with an NFC tag, visiting the brand’s website, or clicking on a specially designed link, but users can also find them when using other apps, such as Apple’s Messenger or Maps apps.

Apple App clips mini app program

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When someone is discussing or searching for something related to a business that has an Apple App Clip, a call-to-action will pop up allowing a user to “Open” the Clip without downloading a full app. From there, a user can then take advantage of one of the app’s basic features.

For example, if two friends are talking about a restaurant chain that has an app via text message, an App Clip CTA might pop up encouraging them to open the restaurant’s Clip to see a menu. When the user enters the Clip experience, they can do a small task, such as scanning the menu or making a reservation. Users can also click a CTA in the App Clip to download the full program from the App Store.

While companies who can’t easily create an app probably won’t benefit from App Clips, digital startups and tech companies should keep on their radar. Along with literally allowing people to test out an app before they download it, the App Clip CTA options allow people to get notified about a brand’s app when they walk near its store, are messaging friends about products the brand offers, or while searching local businesses on Maps. This enables app promotions to literally meet audiences where they are.

Mini-App Takeaways for Marketers

Although some mini-app programs, such as Apple and Snapchat’s are more exclusive and less accessible to smaller brands right now, they could be a helpful marketing tool for more companies in the future. Here’s what marketers should keep in mind as mini-app programs grow and expand.

1. Brands that embrace digital transformation will get better “mini” opportunities.

First of all, your brand will likely need to offer a digital tool or store that will improve another major app’s experience. For example, Tesla’s website already allowed you to look up car charging stations and schedule test drives, so turning this into a mini-app experience would be much easier for developers.

Additionally, some of WeChat’s audiences had an interest in technologies, cars, and Tesla’s, which offered a business case for creating this experience. While audiences are zoning in on Tesla’s offerings, they are still spending time on the WeChat app.

Because you’ll need a strong digital presence and online business capabilities, mini-apps might not be possible for many small businesses yet — especially in the U.S. where they are just now being embraced. However, as the world becomes more connected to apps, this strategy could become more accessible to you later on.

2. Big apps will only host mutually beneficial mini-apps.

Think of mini-apps like a website integration or a brand partnership project. A major brand likely wouldn’t have an integration with a competitor’s tool or partner with a business that doesn’t target similar audiences. In the mini-app space, the thinking might be similar.

Ultimately, big app brands will opt to host mini-programs that spread awareness to businesses with similar audiences and offer digital experiences that keep users on their main app longer. This is likely why companies such as Snapchat and WeChat require brands to apply for their mini-programs, rather than just allowing them to buy space for a mini-app.

3. Brands will still need to do groundwork in creating mini-apps.

In some cases, you might not need your own in-house developer to have a mini-app. In WeChat’s case, the company offers a mini-program where brands can apply and pay to have a mini-app experience made and launched for them.

Despite the ease of working with some platforms, others like Apple will require you to already have developed an app. Meanwhile, Snapchat’s site is unclear (at time of publication) about what creating a Mini fully entails.

4. Not all brands will be able to access “mini” partnerships.

Despite the opportunities that might exist with mini-apps, marketers — especially at small companies — should still keep in mind that this might not be applicable to them or their strategy.

As noted above, large platforms that offer mini-programs will selectively look for partners who can offer digital tools or experiences that improve each user’s time on their main app. And, even though larger platforms might be more involved with producing a mini experience for smaller brands, these partners will still likely spend some time and money on ensuring that their program offers a glitchless experience.

The good news? Although many companies can’t launch a mini-app, just yet, they don’t necessarily need to. If you never see this tactic fitting into your strategy, there are plenty of ways you can boost mobile or online awareness without any sort of app.

If you’d like to harness on mobile marketing alternatives without an app, check out this Ultimate Guide.

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Everything Marketers Need to Know About Instagram Reels

Throughout the past two years, two of the most popular apps used by Gen Z and younger millennials were Instagram and TikTok.

While Instagram steadily pulled in more than 1 billion active users since its 2016 debut, TikTok made news when it surpassed 1 billion global downloads within 18 months of its launch.

Both networks have solid benefits and entertainment factors.. While Instagram’s visual layout allows users to see images, videos, Stories, and live streams from their favorite accounts, TikTok provides an endless feed of short, entertaining video clips.

But, late this summer, as countries including the U.S. considered banning TikTok due to privacy concerns, Instagram launched a handful of new audio and video editing features that are quite similar to what users would find on TikTok. This new set of mobile features, which can be accessed in the Stories section of the Instagram app, has been dubbed Instagram Reels.

Aside from allowing users to record videos with sound or audio overlays, the Reels camera and editor also includes the following features:

  • More editing tools: These include augmented reality effects, transitions, and the ability to speed up or slow down videos.
  • Audio attribution: If a user uploads native audio, other users can overlay the sound in their videos while the app credits the original user’s account for it.
  • Stitchable takes: This enables users to share a video with just one long take or a combination of quicker takes.
  • Shareability on the Instagram Feed, Explore, Stories, and your profile: Depending on the privacy settings of your profile, you can share Reels with just friends on your Stories or profile, or publicly in the Reels area of Explore.
  • Mobile-only: Unlike Instagram profiles and Stories, you can’t view or upload Reels on a desktop.

Right now, it’s worth noting that ads are not yet supported in the Reels area of Instagram Explore. But since Reels show up in this public part of the app, and can be seen by people who don’t follow your brand, your business has the opportunity to reach new audiences across the globe.

At the time of this post, we also don’t know how the Instagram algorithm works for presenting Reels to audiences. But, based on our exploration of the Reels feed within Explore, it seems much like TikTok in that it prioritizes posts by location, people you follow, and content similar to what you’ve engaged with recently.

Why Instagram Launched Reels

According to Instagram — which started testing Reels in Brazil in November 2019 and launched the feature globally this August — the brand wanted to give users more content creation opportunities on its app.

“We’re excited to introduce Instagram Reels: a new way for anyone — people, creators, and businesses — to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram,” notes an August announcement from Instagram.

While Instagram hasn’t acknowledged TikTok’s success or competition as a reason for launching Reels, several tech journalists have suggested that this was a strategic move.

“Instagram’s short-form video feature, Reels, launched Wednesday. Instagram is swooping in at a vulnerable time for its largest competitor, TikTok. Reels allows users to create 15-second clips, like TikTok, and share them publicly or with friends within the Instagram app,” wrote CNBC’s Jessica Bursztynsky.

While Reels is Instagram’s first attempt at launching similar features to TikTok, this certainly isn’t the first time a Facebook-owned company has launched similar video editing offerings.

In 2018, amid TikTok’s early success, Facebook quietly launched a competing app called Lasso.

Lasso, which offered similar portrait-style feed and video editing tools to TikTok, had fewer than 80,000 app downloads by June 2020. In July, one month before the launch of Reels, Lasso was discontinued.

“We place multiple bets across our family of apps to test and learn how people want to express themselves. One of these tests was Lasso, our stand-alone short-form video app, which we have decided to shut down. We thank everyone who shared their creativity and feedback with us, which we’ll look to incorporate in our other video experiences,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.

At this point, knowing the history mentioned above, some marketers might wonder, “Will Instagram Reels be a great TikTok alternative for my brand, or will it fail like other TikTok competitors?”

The question above is fair. After all, as a marketer, you’ll only want to invest time and money into platforms with a solid track record, loyal audience, and great brand awareness opportunities, rather than those that could be discontinued a short time later.

While Reels might have been flocked to by Gen Z if TikTok were banned, TikTok’s partnership deal with Oracle and Walmart has ensured that this app will remain active in many countries — at least for now. This means that even if Reels is successful, some audiences might still spend all of their time surfing TikTok.

On the other hand, Instagram is a widely-used platform that has successfully launched competitive social media features before. Remember when the brand launched Stories and eventually surpassed the user count of Snapchat, which launched this feature first?

At the moment, it’s not clear whether Reels will be as successful as TikTok. But, since the feature only requires you to expand your Instagram strategy, rather than building out TikTok tactics from scratch, it could still be a great place for brands to test out highly experimental short-form content.

If you’re intrigued by Instagram Reels and ready to try it out, below I’ll walk through how brands are already using the feature, steps for creating Reels content, and a few takeaways marketers should keep in mind as they build it into their Instagram marketing.

How Brands Already Use Reels

Emmy Mae Bridal

Fashion and beauty are perfect for Reels, as is evident by this Reel from Emmy Mae Bridal in Queensland, Australia.

In Emmy Rae’s Reels, the brand presents videos and imagery of their wedding attire to the sounds classy music. Although we can’t embed Reels, here’s a screenshot of recent content the company posted.

Bridal Instagram Reels

 

Earth Official

The travel industry is also finding Reels to be an excellent way to reach people. In this piece of Reels content, Earth Official, an account that highlights travel content, deals, and influencers, shows beautiful footage of Thailand’s lantern festival with native audio.

Instagram Reels Travel EarthOfficial

 

Critical Care Now

If your business isn’t exactly consumer-facing, Reels might still fit into your Instagram strategy, depending on how well you’ve cultivated your audience and how creative your content team is.

In the Reels post below from CriticalCareNow, an informative Instagram account run by resuscitation expert Haney Mallemat, Mallemat educates viewers about central and peripheral arterial lines used in the emergency response field.

critical care Instagram Reels

Think the topic of the Reel above was too informative or formal for Instagram’s audience? Think again. At the time this blog post was written, this Reel had more than 30,200 views. Pretty amazing for content that isn’t the latest dance move.

Haney’s Reel might be so engaging because he’s done a great job of building a large, niche audience of over 24,000 Instagram followers and learned what types of content they value. While more followers could certainly get you more views, creating Reels around what your audience and similar users want to watch can also take your engagement a long way.

1. Enter Reels mode within Instagram Stories.

To get started with Reels, open the Instagram Stories camera and tap Reels.

Instagram Reels can be found within Instagram Stories on the mobile app

2. Explore the editing tools.

Before and after you record footage on your Reels camera, you’ll see four editing icons on the left side of your camera screen.

Effect options within Instagram Reels

The tools you’ll see include:

  • Sound: Which enables you to add a pre-recorded sound from other users or Reels’ featured song list to your content.
Sound overlay tool in Instagram Reels
  • Playback Speed: This allows you to speed up or slow down content.
playback speed tool in Instagram Reels
  • Effects: Tapping this icon, which looks like an emoji outline, allows you to add stickers and filter effects to your video. The filters for Reels are similar to Instagram Stories and many of these effects crossover between both video formats
Special effects tool in Instagram Reels
  • Timer: If you can’t hold down the Record button for the full clip, but want to make a video that lasts for a certain amount of time, you can tap this icon to set recording time for your clip. When you press record, a countdown of three seconds will appear on your screen before Reels starts to record. Then Reels will automatically film for the amount of time you designated.

3. Hold Record to begin filming, or upload a pre-recorded video.

Once you press and hold the record button, you’ll start filming a clip. If you let go of the record button, but still have time left in your Reel video, you can hold the record button again to start a second clip that will begin immediately after the first ends.

As you record one or multiple clips for your Reel, the progress bar at the top of the screen shows you how much recording time you have left.

Progress bar in Instagram Reels

Alternatively, if you’ve already recorded a great video or TikTok that you think will be engaging on Reels, you can tap the camera icon to upload clips from your camera roll.

4. Add last-minute effects.

If you didn’t add effects before the video started recording, but want to after seeing how it came out, you can add stickers, drawings, and text to your Reel before publishing.

Adding last-minute effects after recording video in Reels

When you are finished, tap the arrow at the bottom when you’re ready to publish. Again, these effects are nearly the same as those you’ll see on Instagram Stories.

press next to go to posting page for Reels

5. Prepare to publish your Reel.

When you press the arrow after reviewing the video and adding any last-minute effects, you’ll be taken to the post screen, where you can choose a cover image, write a caption, add hashtags, and publish your video to Reels.

6. View your Reels.

Once you’ve published one or more Reels, this content will appear on the Explore page, as well as a tab on your profile.

Where to find Instagram Reels on your profile

7. Share your Reels.

Along with posting Reels for Explore audiences, you can also post them to your feed which will also cause them to appear on your main profile grid. Reels can also be sent as direct messages or even posted to your Instagram Stories. Unless you share a Reel so it appears on your main grid, the content will behave like a Story and disappear within 24 hours.

8. Monitor your performance.

Currently, to view any insights for a Reel, you need to view the post itself. At this time, there isn’t a way to view the analytics of your Reels within Instagram Insights. Instead, look at the likes and comments to get a sense of engagement.

engagement metrics on Instagram Reels

9. Watch Reels from other accounts.

To access Reels, simply go to search and you’ll see a featured Reel. Tap that and then you can easily scroll through the clips. From there, you can follow users and like, share, and comment on reels directly. You can find Reels on specific topics by searching for hashtags.

Where to find Instagram Reels content in Instagram Explore feed

What to Keep in Mind with Instagram Reels

As you consider Reels, TikTok, and other emerging social media platforms in your marketing strategy, it’s important to weigh the pros, cons, and key marketing takeaways when determining if a channel or feature is right for your team.

Here are just a few things to remember as you consider Reels:

Reels competes against a unique, viral sensation:

Although Instagram has a huge audience that is loyal to its platform, many Gen Z users are used to going to TikTok for viral videos and general entertainment. Because the app has pulled in astounding fan loyalty in its short lifespan, you might find that Reels don’t have the same viral opportunities that TikTok videos might have. 

What works on TikTok might not work on Reels

TikTok is a highly experimental platform with a younger, but huge, global audience. Because of these factors, there aren’t many rules about what you should and shouldn’t post on there. Meanwhile, Instagram has been around for years, has a slightly older audience, and has some content norms or audience expectations set in place

If you’ve already posted a handful of TikTok videos and want to test them on Reels, you can consider uploading a few, watching how they perform, and learning more about what works well on both platforms.

However, as you learn the differences between TikTok and Instagram audiences, you might find that high-performing TikToks aren’t as engaging to your Reels audience. If this is the case, you might want to consider creating specialized content for Reels.

There aren’t ad opportunities just yet.

Although you’ll want to keep the points above in mind as you consider testing out Reels, you’ll also want to remember the opportunities it offers. For example, Reels might be a great option for you if you’ve mastered Instagram, know what content your audiences want, and are eager to test out TikTok-styled content without using time and resources to build a full TikTok app strategy.

If you do begin to test out Reels, it can’t hurt to brush up on your Instagram marketing skills and Instagram platform knowledge to ensure that your profile, other content, and — ultimately — your Reels will be on point for your brand and optimized for brand awareness.

Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide for Instagram Marketing, or sign up for the free HubSpot Academy course below.

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The Ultimate Guide to Designing for the User Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Interaction Design

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

2. Visual Design

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

3. User Research 

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

4. Information Architecture

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

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

information-architecture

Source: NYC Subway Guide

UX Design Principles

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

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

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

These principles will guide you at every stage of the UX design process. Let’s walk through what each of those stages entails below. 

UX Design Process

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

Let’s take a closer look at each stage of the design process below.

1. Understand your user’s pain points.

Since UX design is about improving the user experience, your first step is finding out what the challenges and expectations of users are. Once you understand what the problems are, you can solve for them.

In an article for Career Foundry, Rosie Allabarton stresses the role of empathy at this stage of the UX design process. She said, “You’ll be working with groups of users who come from a variety of backgrounds and are bringing different experiences with them. Your job is to try to understand why they are behaving the way they are, not to try to change that behavior or influence it, but accommodate it within the product.”

There are a few approaches you can take to gather this important user research.

Interviews

One of the best ways to understand your audience is to be in the same room as them. User interviews typically entail a group of users browsing through an existing site or product or even a competitor’s while members of your team observe. That way, your team can watch how people interact with a website or product and gather feedback in real time. This can help uncover areas of improvement that you and your team hadn’t noticed. Like maybe users are overlooking the CTA button on your homepage, or maybe they want a search box to navigate a website. You can then incorporate this feedback into your design process.

If in-person interviews isn’t an option, then you can always hold remote user testing sessions

Online Surveys

While interviews are ideal for getting rich insights from a small group of users, online surveys are a great way to gather feedback from a larger audience. Surveys consist of a series of targeted questions sent to a sample of your audience. These questions can take on a variety of forms, including yes/no, multiple choice, checkbox, dropdown, ranking, ranking scale, and textbox. Online surveys are typically distributed via forms, and then compiled in a database so you and other stakeholders can review them.

2. Create user personas.

Now that you have all this user research, you’ll want to summarize it. Creating user personas is a great way to do so. Also known as buyer personas, these personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research. Buyer personas help you better understand your existing and prospective customers, so you can tailor your products as well as your services, content, and messaging to meet their specific needs, behaviors, and concerns.

Buyer persona template with sections for goals, challenges, and what can we do

Image Source

These personas help ensure that everyone on your team understands, remembers, and centers the end user throughout the design process. 

To learn how to research and create personas, check out the post How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business [Free Persona Template].

3. Map out user journeys.

While you can categories users into different types of personas, every user is unique. That means different users will interact with your site in different ways — even if they have the same goal. Say they’re looking to apply to a job at your company. Some might navigate to your homepage, click Careers from your navigation bar, and then browse your job openings. Others might search your company name plus “careers” in Google.

Your goal is to identify the primary goals of your users and ensure they can complete their goals. So an ecommerce site, for example, will need to identify all the different ways a customer might want to complete a purchase and make sure their site enables them at every step. Providing functionality to ensure a customer can complete a purchase on a desktop, tablet, and mobile device are just a few scenarios you’d have to plan for. You’ll likely need a lot of colorful post-it notes for this stage.

4. Create website wireframes.

Now that you’ve mapped out user journeys on paper, it’s time to map them out in your actual product with website wireframes and prototypes. You can think of a wireframe as a sketch of your product or website.

When creating a wireframe for your website or product, you can plot out how you want to display your main features, allocate space, and present images and content and how this layout helps (or hinders) the user from achieving their goals before introducing design elements like color schemes.

Evaluating your product’s functionality and intended user behavior at this stage can help you find potential problems or missing features that might get in the way of conversions or sales later on — before you’re too far along in the design process. That way, you can easily make changes, get approval from other stakeholders, and confidently move to the next stage of the design process.

Wireframes range in complexity. Some are hand drawn with a pencil, others are created with software tools like Sketch and Canva. Here’s an illustrated example.

Illustrated example of website wireframe with logo, banner, navbar, sidebar, and content area

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5. Start prototyping.

Think of a prototype as the final draft of your product or website before the coding begins. It’s not the final version, but it’s close enough that you can fully test the product before it launches and demonstrate it to management and other stakeholders.

Unlike a wireframe, a prototype will include font, images, icons, and colors. This phase is focused less on aesthetics and more on user flow, however. Prototypes will be interactive, allowing you, users, and other stakeholders to experience how the product works in real life.

You’ll run more user testing at this phase to uncover issues like whether your checkout process requires too many clicks or your homepage is difficult to navigate.You’ll likely experiment with navigation and other functionality at this stage, and produce lots of iterations.

To create a prototype and subsequent iterations, you’ll need to use a dedicated tool like Adobe XD, InVision, or the free Justinmind. Here’s an example of a prototype built with Justinmind.

Justinmind prototype of ecommerce website on desktop and mobile

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At this point, the coding can begin so you’ll pass your prototype to designers and developers who will build a user interface. More on what a UI is and how it differs from UX later.

UX Deliverables

UX deliverables are the various outputs of a UX design process. The designer and team will have to produce and present these deliverables to an internal team and external clients for review — either during the design process or once the project is complete. 

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

1. User Research

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

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

2. Competitor Assessment

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

3. Interaction Design

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

4. Information Architecture

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

site-map

Source: Adobe Blog

Now that we understand the different deliverables a client or manager might ask from a UX designer, let’s take a closer look at arguably the most important: UX research. 

User Experience Research

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

Usability Testing

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

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

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

Usability Testing Tools

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

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

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

How to Enhance User Experience

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

Using Fitt’s Law to Enhance UX

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

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

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

UX Design Tools

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

1. Adobe Fireworks

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

2. Adobe XD

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

3. Axure

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

4. Adobe Illustrator and a Free Alternative

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

5. Sketch

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

6. Storyboard Software

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

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

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

Storyboards are also a great way to bring in all stakeholders, including researchers, developers, and UI designers. Before we discuss how to become a UX designer, let’s make sure we understand the difference between two similar roles: UX and UI designers.

What is User Interface design?

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

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

Common UI Elements

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

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

breadcrumb-navigation

Source: UX Planet

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

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

1. Do your research.

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

2. Take a UX design course.

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

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

3. Apply for a UX design internship.

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

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

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

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

4. Build your UX design portfolio.

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

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

Make it visually stunning.

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

Include an “about” page.

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

Have clear navigation and links throughout your portfolio site.

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

Explain your personal UX process.

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

Create additional portfolios to expand your network.

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

If you’re interested in this career path, we’ve gathered some ideas for UX projects that can help get you started and built out your portfolio. Let’s take a look.

UX Design Ideas

Are you interested in UX design but don’t know where to get started? We’ve compiled a list of ideas for people who need inspiration just like you. Completing these projects will not only provide you with valuable experience, it will also provide valuable additions to your portfolio. Let’s take a look at some of these ideas and the real-life examples that go with them.

Redesign the digital menu of your favorite local restaurant.

Redesigning a restaurant’s menu is a great exercise in anticipating user needs. To find the right balance of information and images, you’ll have to decide what readers need to know and see to make informed decisions, and what will simply overwhelm them. You might experiment with the categorization, descriptions, and ratings of the food items, and more.

Below is a drink menu by Panji Arafat on Dribble.

UX project showing redesigned drink menu for Miracle Coffee shop

Image Source

Sketch a better interface for your toaster oven.

This will help you practice analyzing an existing product and identifying where you can add value in terms of functionality and design. The best part is you can complete this project without leaving your kitchen!

Below is an example by designer Sarah Kerbleski.

Redesign the homepage of your personal site.

You can redesign the homepage of any website, but using your own personal site or a site that you have access to analytics to is ideal. That way, you can practice accumulating and analyzing user research and using those insights to inform your design process.

When HubSpot redesigned its homepage back in 2016, UX Designer Austin Knight analyzed massive amounts of data and discovered three important trends: a significant number of users were moving from the homepage to the pricing page, FAQ page, and the search bar. All of these trends supported the conclusion that the homepage was lacking critical information that was affecting its conversions. You can read more about this redesign in the UXPin case study.

2016 Redesign of HubSpot homepage for UX

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Redesign a feature in an application that frustrates you.

This can help you practice redesigning some functionality in an existing app, rather than starting from scratch. Product designer Jo Zhouzheng did exactly this for Doordash. Frustrated by the restaurant and menu browsing experience in this popular food delivery app, Zhouzheng redesigned the interface. Here’s a before and after look of the interfaces.

Redesigned menu of India Palace Cuisine on Doordash app for UX project

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Design an app for checking in at your primary care doctor or specialist.

Designing any health app will be a great exercise in UX. Focusing on the check-in process specifically will help you practice identifying and solving for user pain points. You can focus on an in-person or virtual check-in, like Digital Product Designer Divan Raj did below.

Three interfaces of patient app designed for UX project

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Create personas for an app you want to design (or redesign).

Creating personas is an important part of the UX design process. You can get some experience by creating personas for a hypothetical app, or an existing one. Maybe you like an app or website, but know the functionality or design could be better. In that case, you could define new personas for that product. Or you could create personas for a product that you’ve thought of.

Daorong Fang, for example, created a prototype of a mobile app for in-person social networking events. To illustrate her key audience and help potential stakeholders sympathize with her target issues (ie. how awkward and time-consuming networking can be), she built two personas. One of them — Techy Sarah — is shown below.

Persona for UX project for social networking app

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Map out a voter’s journey in a local, state, or federal election office .  

This can help you understand how UX design can contribute to larger phenomena, like low voter turnout, and flex your analytic and critical thinking muscles. By plotting out the path from registration to the point where voters have a ballot in their hands, you’ll uncover regulations, time constraints, a lack of transparency, poor design choices, and other pain points.

Whitney Quesenbery and Dana Chisnell founded The Center for Civic Design with this exact goal in mind: they wanted to understand where people fall off the voter journey, and how to get them back on. Below is one of their Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent, which helps local officials create well designed ballots.

Field guide to voter intent is part of UX project for increasing voter turnout

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These are just a few ideas. For more inspiration, check out websites like Dribble and Awwwards.

UX Design Helps You Grow Better

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

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

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. 

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5 Brand Partnership Fails [+Co-Marketing Mistakes to Avoid]

When you were in school, did you ever work on a group project?

If so, you probably remember that some went well, and others weren’t as synergistic.

The same thing is true with brand partnerships.

Sometimes co-marketing works because each brand pulls in a new audience and the two are able to learn from one another.

However, this isn’t the case with all partnerships.

Below, let’s review some brand partnerships that have failed and discuss co-marketing mistakes to avoid.

5 Brand Partnership Fails

1. Kendall Jenner and Pepsi

A few years ago, a major brand partnership that failed was between Kendall Jenner and Pepsi. Pepsi featured Jenner in a commercial where she offers a soda to a policeman at a protest.

Here’s the commercial:

The reason this partnership failed was because audiences thought the two brands were making light of serious social and civil rights issues.

Essentially, this commercial was perceived as being done in poor taste and didn’t showcase social consciousness.

2. Target and Neiman Marcus

In 2013, Target and Neiman Marcus partnered on a new clothing line.

However, Target’s customers search for cost-efficient, mass trend clothing options, while Neiman Marcus is a luxury brand that offers expensive, edgy clothes.

Unfortunately, this collection didn’t take Target’s target audience into account. The clothing line ended up being too expensive and edgy for Target’s audience.

Usually, if a high-end brand is partnering with Target, the prices would be lower, so customers can get trend-setting designs at an affordable price.

This partnership failed because the brands couldn’t make both target audiences’ happy with their collection.

3. Kraft and Starbucks

A partnership that had lasted for years ended in a major court battle.

When this partnership was successful, Kraft was able to help Starbucks grow by offering distribution services and helping the coffee brand build a presence in grocery stores.

According to William Neuman of “The New York Times,” “Kraft claims that Starbucks unilaterally decided to end their agreement, and Starbucks says that Kraft failed to aggressively promote its brands, which include Seattle’s Best Coffee, in stores.”

Ultimately, this brand partnership failed because of poor communication, and possibly poor execution as well.

4. Forever 21 and Atkins

Last year, Forever 21 decided to partner with Atkins by sending out Atkins snack bars to customers who had ordered online.

However, Forever 21’s target market didn’t appreciate the brand sending them weight loss bars. In fact, customers complained that the brand was body-shaming them.

Additionally, since the partnership wasn’t explained to customers, some people assumed the bars were being sent to plus-size customers who ordered online.

This partnership failed because it didn’t make sense for the audiences and the brands’ missions didn’t align.

5. Shell and LEGO

Another example of brands that had worked together for years (about 50 years to be exact), Shell and LEGO had a falling out.

At first, it made sense that LEGO would partner with an oil company because they could use the credibility of Shell with their race cars and gas station sets.

However, LEGO eventually became a global children’s entertainment brand, and the partnership didn’t make sense anymore because of the oil company’s reputation of poor environmental practices and oil drilling.

Eventually, this partnership failed because of the public outcry from LEGO’s audience and the impact on the brand’s reputation.

Now that we’ve reviewed some brand partnerships that have failed, let’s discuss why they didn’t do well and look at some common co-marketing mistakes to avoid.

1. Poor communication.

When you’re working with another brand, it’s important to communicate effectively and efficiently with each other.

You need to be honest about what you’re both going to give and get from the partnership since it has to make sense for your brands.

Margot Mazur, a senior marketing manager in charge of co-marketing for HubSpot, says, “Co-marketing is all about negotiation — you give some, and you get some from your partner. Make sure to come into the negotiation from a place of positivity, and instead of focusing on what you’re going to get — whether it’s promotional materials, ad spend, or placement — focus on what you can give the partner to make sure that they’re finding value from the relationship.”

She added, “On the other side of that email, there’s a human being trying to do their best work, just like you. Focus on strengthening that relationship, being honest and clear about expectations and needs, and your co-marketing offer is sure to succeed.”

2. The brand stories don’t align.

Before you partner with another brand, think about your brand messaging and your story. Personify your brand and think of it as a person — who is your brand?

Now, when you choose a partner, your brands should have the same values and similar brand messaging.

For example, if you’re an eco-friendly brand working with an oil company, those stories don’t make sense together.

Your brand stories need to align, otherwise your customers will notice and call you out.

3. The partnership doesn’t consider the customers.

As we saw with some of our examples, it’s important that a brand partnership makes sense for both target audiences.

In fact, three out of the five examples failed because the brand partnership didn’t make sense for the audience.

Before you begin a co-marketing relationship with another brand, consider your audience. Will this partnership make sense to them? What would they think of your partnership?

It’s important to answer these questions before moving forward with a co-marketing campaign.

4. Badly written agreements.

Unfortunately, for a couple of our examples above, there were issues over contracts and agreements.

If you don’t have a detailed, well-written agreement, then you could end up in court for not upholding your end of the deal.

Each partner should agree to every part of the partnership so no one is left disappointed.

5. Executed poorly.

Another reason that a partnership might fail is because it’s executed poorly. If the implementation is misguided, then you could do serious damage to your reputations.

If you’re going to partner with another brand, make sure that both parties are committed to it and will execute the agreement with 100% effort.

So, now that we’ve discussed why brand partnerships might fail, how can you avoid these mistakes?

Avoiding Co-Marketing Mistakes

Co-marketing can be greatly beneficial for both brands if it makes sense and provides value for your audience.

To avoid these mistakes, make sure that you communicate with your partner and consider your customers.

To learn more about co-marketing, check out our ultimate guide.

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Author: Rebecca Riserbato

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How to Do Market Research: A Guide and Template

Today, consumers have a lot of power — they can research your product or service and make purchase decisions entirely on their own. And rather than talking to one of your sales reps, they’re more likely to ask for referrals from members of their networks or read online reviews. 

With this in mind, have you adapted your marketing strategy to complement the way today’s consumers research, shop, and buy?

In order to do just that — and to meet your potential buyers were they are — you must have a deep understanding of who your buyers are, your specific market, and what influences the purchase decisions and behavior of your target audience members.  Enter: Market Research. 

Whether you’re new to market research, this guide will provide you with a blueprint for conducting a thorough study of your market, target audience, competition, and more.

What is market research?

Market research is the process of gathering information about your business’s buyers personas, target audience, and customers to determine how viable and successful your product or service would be, and/or is, among these people.

What does market research tell you? 

Market research provides insight into a wide variety of things that impact your bottom line including (but not limited to):

  • Where your target audience and current customers conduct their product/ service research
  • Which of your competitors your target audience looks to for information, more options, or to make a purchase
  • What’s trending in your industry
  • Who makes up your market and what their challenges are
  • What influences purchases and conversions among your target audience 

As you begin honing in on your market research, you’ll likely hear about primary and secondary market research. The easiest way to think about primary and secondary research is to envision to umbrellas sitting beneath market research: one for primary market research and one for secondary market research.

Beneath these two umbrellas sits a number of different types of market research, which we’ll highlight below. Defining which of the two umbrellas your market research fits beneath isn’t necessarily crucial, although some marketers prefer to make the distinction.

So, in case you encounter a marketer who wants to define your types of market research as primary or secondary — or if you’re one of them — let’s cover the definitions of the two categories next. Then, we’ll look at the different types of market research in the following section

Primary vs. Secondary Research

There are two main types of market research that your business can conduct to collect actionable information on your products including primary research and secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is the pursuit of first-hand information about your market and the customers within your market. It’s useful when segmenting your market and establishing your buyer personas. Primary market research tends to fall into one of two buckets: exploratory and specific research.

Exploratory Primary Research

This kind of primary market research is less concerned with measurable customer trends and more about potential problems that would be worth tackling as a team. It normally takes place as a first step — before any specific research has been performed — and may involve open-ended interviews or surveys with small numbers of people.

Specific Primary Research

Specific primary market research often follows exploratory research and is used to dive into issues or opportunities the business has already identified as important. In specific research, the business can take a smaller or more precise segment of their audience and ask questions aimed at solving a suspected problem.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is all the data and public records you have at your disposal to draw conclusions from(e.g. trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data you already have on your business). Secondary research is particularly useful for analyzing your competitors. The main buckets your secondary market research will fall into include:

Public Sources

These sources are your first and most-accessible layer of material when conducting secondary market research. They’re often free to find and review — lots of bang for your buck here.

Government statistics are one of the most common types of public sources according to Entrepreneur. Two U.S. examples of public market data are the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, both of which offer helpful information on the state of various industries nationwide.

Commercial Sources

These sources often come in the form of market reports, consisting of industry insight compiled by a research agency like Pew, Gartner, or Forrester. Because this info is so portable and distributable, it typically costs money to download and obtain.

Internal Sources

Internal sources deserve more credit for supporting market research than they generally get. Why? This is the market data your organization already has!

Average revenue per sale, customer retention rates, and other historical data on the health of old and new accounts can all help you draw conclusions on what your buyers might want right now.

Now that we’ve covered these overarching market research categories, let’s get more specific and look at the various types of market research you might choose to conduct. 

1. Interviews

Interviews allow for face-to-face discussions (in-person and virtual) so you can allow for a natural flow or conversation and watch your interviewee’s body language while doing so. 

2. Focus Groups

Focus groups provide you with a handful of carefully-selected people that you can have test out your product, watch a demo, provide feedback, and/or answer specific questions.

3. Product/ Service Use Research

Product or service use research offers insight into how and why your audience uses your product or service, and specific features of that item. This type of market research also gives you an idea of the product or service’s usability for your target audience. 

4. Observation-Based Research

Observation-based research allows you to sit back and watch the ways in which your target audience members go about using your product or service, what works well in terms of UX, what roadblocks they hit, and which aspects of it could be easier for them to use and apply. 

5. Buyer Persona Research

Buyer persona research gives you a realistic look at who makes up your target audience, what their challenges are, why they want your product or service, what they need from your business and brand, and more. 

6. Market Segmentation Research

Market segmentation research allows you to categorize your target audience into different groups (or segments) based on specific and defining characteristics — this way, you can determine effective ways to meet their needs, understand their pain points and expectations, learn about their goals, and more. 

7. Pricing Research

Pricing research gives you an idea of what similar products or services in your market sell for, what your target audience expects to pay — and is willing to pay — for whatever it is you sell, and what’s a fair price for you to list your product or service at. All of this information will help you define your pricing strategy

8. Competitive Analysis

Competitive analyses are valuable because they give you a deep understanding of the competition in your market and industry. You can learn about what’s doing well in your industry, what your target audience is already going for in terms of products like yours, which of your competitors should you work to keep up with and surpass, and how you can clearly separate yourself from the competition

9. Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research

Customer satisfaction and loyalty research give you a look into how you can get current customers to return for more business and what will motivate them to do so (e.g. loyalty programs, rewards, remarkable customer service). This research will help you discover the most-effective ways to promote delight among your customers.

10. Brand Awareness Research

Brand awareness research tells you about what your target audience knows about and recognizes from your brand. It tells you about the associations your audience members make when they think about your business and what they believe you’re all about.  

11. Campaign Research

Campaign research entails looking into your past campaigns and analyzing their success among your target audience and current customers. It requires experimentation and then a deep dive into what reached and resonated with your audience so you can keep those elements in mind for your future campaigns and hone in on the aspects of what you do that matters most to those people. 

Now that you know about the categories and types of market research, let’s review how you can conduct your market research.

Here’s how to do market research step-by-step.

1. Define your buyer persona.

Before you dive into how customers in your industry make buying decisions, you must first understand who they are.

This is where your buyer personas come in handy. Buyer personas — sometimes referred to as marketing personas — are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.

Use a free tool to create a buyer persona that your entire company can use to market, sell, and serve better.

How to do market research defining your buyer persona

They help you visualize your audience, streamline your communications, and inform your strategy. Some key characteristics you should be keen on including in your buyer persona are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title(s)
  • Job titles
  • Family size
  • Income
  • Major challenges

The idea is to use your persona as a guideline for  how to effectively reach and learn about the real audience members in your industry. Also, you may find that your business lends itself to more than one persona — that’s fine! You just need to be  thoughtful about each specific persona when you’re optimizing and planning your content and campaigns.

To get started with creating your personas, check out these free templates, as well as this helpful tool. 

2. Identify a persona group to engage.

Now that you know who your buyer personas are, use that information to help you identify a group to engage to conduct your market research with — this should be a representative sample of your target customers so you can better understand their actual characteristics, challenges, and buying habits.

The group you identify to engage should also be made of people who recently made a purchase or purposefully decided not to make one. Here are some more guidelines and tips to help you get the right participants for your research. 

How to Identify the Right People to Engage for Market Research

When choosing who to engage for your market research, start by focusing on people who have the characteristics that apply to your buyer persona. You should also… 

  • Shoot for 10 participants per buyer persona: We recommend focusing on one persona, but if you feel it’s necessary to research multiple personas, be sure to recruit a separate sample group for each one.
  • Select people who have recently interacted with you: You may want to focus on people that have completed an evaluation within the past six months — or up to a year if you have a longer sales cycle or niche market. You’ll be asking very detailed questions so it’s important that their experience is fresh.
  • Aim for a mix of participants: You want to recruit people who have purchased your product, purchased a competitor’s product, and decided not to purchase anything at all. While your customers will be the easiest to find and recruit, sourcing information from those who aren’t customers (yet!) will help you develop a balanced view of your market. Here are some more details on how to select this mix of participants:
    • Pull a list of customers who made a recent purchase. As we mentioned before, this is usually the easiest set of buyers to recruit. If you’re using a CRM system, you can run a report of deals that closed within the past six months and filter it for the characteristics you’re looking for. Otherwise, you can work with your sales team to get a list of appropriate accounts from them.

    • Pull a list of customers who were in an active evaluation, but didn’t make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either purchased from a competitor or decided not to make a purchase. Again, you can get this list from your CRM or from whatever system your Sales team uses to track deals.
    • Call for participants on social media. Try reaching out to the folks that follow you on social media, but decided not to buy from you. There’s a chance that some of them will be willing to talk to you and tell you why they ultimately decided not to buy your product.
    • Leverage your own network. Get the word out to your coworkers, former colleagues, and LinkedIn connections that you’re conducting a study. Even if your direct connections don’t qualify, some of them will likely have a coworker, friend, or family member who does.
    • Choose an incentive. Time is precious, so you’ll need to think about how you will motivate someone to spend 30-45 minutes on you and your study. On a tight budget? You can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. Another option? Send a simple handwritten ‘thank you’ note once the study is complete. 

3. Prepare research questions for your market research participants.

The best way to make sure you get the most out of your conversations is to be prepared. You should always create a discussion guide — whether it’s for a focus group, online survey, or a phone interview — to make sure you cover all of the top-of-mind questions and use your time wisely.

(Note: This is not intended to be a script. The discussions should be natural and conversational, so we encourage you to go out of order or probe into certain areas as you see fit.)

Your discussion guide should be in an outline format, with a time allotment and open-ended questions for each section.

Wait, all open-ended questions?

Yes — this is a golden rule of market research. You never want to “lead the witness” by asking yes and no questions, as that puts you at risk of unintentionally swaying their thoughts by leading with your own hypothesis. Asking open-ended questions also helps you avoid one-word answers (which aren’t very helpful for you).

Example Outline of a 30-Minute Survey 

Here’s a general outline for a 30-minute survey for one B2B buyer. You can use these as talking points for an in-person interview, or as questions posed on a digital form to administer as a survey to your target customers.

Background Information (5 Minutes)

Ask the buyer to give you a little background information (their title, how long they’ve been with the company, and so on). Then, ask a fun/easy question to warm things up (first concert attended, favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, etc.).

Remember, you want to get to know your buyers in pretty specific ways. You might be able to capture basic information such as age, location, and job title from your contact list, there are some personal and professional challenges you can really only learn by asking.

Here are some other key background questions to ask your target audience:

  • Describe how your team is structured.
  • Tell me about your personal job responsibilities.
  • What are the team’s goals and how do you measure them?
  • What has been your biggest challenge in the past year?

Now, make a transition to acknowledge the specific purchase or interaction they made that led to you including them in the study. The next three stages of the buyer’s journey will focus specifically on that purchase.

Awareness (5 Minutes)

Here, you want to understand how they first realized they had a problem that needed to be solved without getting into whether or not they knew about your brand yet.

  • Think back to when you first realized you needed a [name the product/service category, but not yours specifically]. What challenges were you facing at the time?
  • How did you know that something in this category could help you?
  • How familiar were you with different options on the market?

Consideration (10 Minutes)

Now you want to get very specific about how and where the buyer researched potential solutions. Plan to interject to ask for more details.

  • What was the first thing you did to research potential solutions? How helpful was this source?
  • Where did you go to find more information?

If they don’t come up organically, ask about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, and so on. Probe, as appropriate, with some of the following questions:

  • How did you find that source?
  • How did you use vendor websites?
  • What words specifically did you search on Google?
  • How helpful was it? How could it be better?
  • Who provided the most (and least) helpful information? What did that look like?
  • Tell me about your experiences with the sales people from each vendor.
Decision (10 Minutes)
  • Which of the sources you described above was the most influential in driving your decision?
  • What, if any, criteria did you establish to compare the alternatives?
  • What vendors made it to the short list and what were the pros/cons of each?
  • Who else was involved in the final decision? What role did each of these people play?
  • What factors ultimately influenced your final purchasing decision?
Closing

Here, you want to wrap up and understand what could have been better for the buyer.

  • Ask them what their ideal buying process would look like. How would it differ from what they experienced?
  • Allow time for further questions on their end.
  • Don’t forget to thank them for their time and confirm their address to send a thank-you note or incentive.

4. List your primary competitors.

List your primary competitors — keep in mind listing the competition isn’t always as simple as Company X versus Company Y.

Sometimes, a division of a company might compete with your main product or service, even though that company’s brand might put more effort in another area.

For example. Apple is known for its laptops and mobile devices but Apple Music competes with Spotify over its music streaming service.

From a content standpoint, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors — even though their products don’t overlap with yours at all.

And a toothpaste company might compete with magazines like Health.com or Prevention on certain blog topics related to health and hygiene even though the magazines don’t actually sell oral care products.

Identifying Industry Competitors

To identify competitors whose products or services overlap with yours, determine which industry or industries you’re pursuing. Start high-level, using terms like education, construction, media & entertainment, food service, healthcare, retail, financial services, telecommunications, and agriculture.

The list goes on, but find an industry term that you identify with, and use it to create a list of companies that also belong to this industry. You can build your list the following ways:

  • Review your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd: In certain industries, this is your best first step in secondary market research. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create “quadrants,” where you can see companies plotted as contenders, leaders, niche, and high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, ecommerce, and related business services.
  • Download a market report: Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer both free and gated market forecasts every year on the vendors who are leading their industry. On Forrester’s website, for example, you can select “Latest Research” from the navigation bar and browse Forrester’s latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to save on your computer.
  • Search using social media: Believe it or not, social networks make great company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you’re pursuing. Then, under “More,” select “Companies” to narrow your results to just the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.

Identifying Content Competitors

Search engines are your best friends in this area of secondary market research. To find the online publications with which you compete, take the overarching industry term you identified in the section above, and come up with a handful of more specific industry terms your company identifies with.

A catering business, for example, might generally be a “food service” company, but also consider itself a vendor in “event catering,” “cake catering,” “baked goods,” and more.

Once you have this list, do the following:

  • Google it: Don’t underestimate the value in seeing which websites come up when you run a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company. You might find a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and more.
  • Compare your search results against your buyer persona: Remember the buyer persona you created during the primary research stage, earlier in this article? Use it to examine how likely a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the content the website publishes seems like the stuff your buyer persona would want to see, it’s a potential competitor, and should be added to your list of competitors.

After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up.

Examine the first two or three results pages for each search you conducted. These websites are clearly respected for the content they create in your industry, and should be watched carefully as you build your own library of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

5. Summarize your findings.

Feeling overwhelmed by the notes you took? We suggest looking for common themes that will help you tell a story and create a list of action items.

To make the process easier, try using your favorite presentation software to make a report, as it will make it easy to add in quotes, diagrams, or call clips.

Feel free to add your own flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

  • Background: Your goals and why you conducted this study.
  • Participants: Who you talked to. A table works well so you can break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
  • Executive Summary: What were the most interesting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
  • Awareness: Describe the common triggers that lead someone to enter into an evaluation. (Quotes can be very powerful.)
  • Consideration: Provide the main themes you uncovered, as well as the detailed sources buyers use when conducting their evaluation.
  • Decision: Paint the picture of how a decision is really made by including the people at the center of influence and any product features or information that can make or break a deal.
  • Action Plan: Your analysis probably uncovered a few campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and/or more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, a timeline, and the impact it will have on your business.

Lastly, let’s review a resource that can help you compile everything we just discussed in a simple yet effective way (plus, it’s free!).

Market Research Report Template

Within a market research kit, there are a number of critical pieces of information for your business’s success. Let’s take a look at what those different kit elements are next. 

Pro Tip: Upon downloading HubSpot’s free Market Research Kit, you’ll receive editable templates for each of the give parts of the kit as well as instructions on how to use the templates and kit, and a mock presentation that you can edit and customize. 

Download HubSpot’s free, editable market research report template here. 

free, editable and downloadable market research template

Source

1. Five Forces Analysis Template

five forces analysis template

Use Porter’s Five Forces Model to understand an industry by analyzing five different criteria and how high the power, threat, or rivalry in each area is — here are the five criteria: 

  • Competitive rivalry
  • Threat of new entrants
  • Threat of substitution
  • Buyer power
  • Supplier power

Download a free, editable Five Forces Analysis template here. 

2. SWOT Analysis Template

free editable swot analysis template
 
 A
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis looks at your internal strengths and weaknesses, and your external opportunities and threats within the market.
A SWOT analysis highlights direct areas of opportunity your company can continue, build, focus on, and work to overcome.
 

3. Market Survey Template

Both market surveys and focus groups (which we’ll cover in the next section) help you uncover important information about your buyer personas, target audience, current customers, market, competition, and more (e.g. demand for your product or service, potential pricing, impressions of your branding, etc.).

Surveys should contain a variety of question types, like multiple choice, rankings, and open-ended responses. Ask quantitative and short-answer questions to save you time and to more easily draw conclusions. (Save longer questions that will warrant more detailed responses for your focus groups.)

Here are some categories of questions you should ask via survey: 

  • Demographic questions
  • Business questions
  • Competitor questions
  • Industry questions
  • Brand questions
  • Product questions

4. Focus Group Template

Focus groups are an opportunity to collect in-depth, qualitative data from your real customers or members of your target audience. You should ask your focus group participants open-ended questions. While doing so, keep these tips top of mind:

  • Set a limit for the number of questions you’re asking (after all, they’re open-ended). 
  • Provide participants with a prototype or demonstration.
  • Ask participants how they feel about your price.
  • Ask participants about your competition.
  • Offer participants time at the end of the session for final comments, questions, or concerns.

Conduct Market Research to Grow Better

Conducting market research can be a very eye-opening experience. Even if you think you know your buyers pretty well, completing the study will likely uncover new channels and messaging tips to help improve your interactions.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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