The Beginner’s Guide to Brand Pillars

Although the practices of marketing and branding have been around for centuries, the industries started to shift in the 1990s.

The digital age came about and companies began to market their brands more than their products with the goal of giving their company a personality.

As a millennial born in the early 90s, I grew up at the same time as the digital revolution. In fact, millennials have a reputation for spending all day on their phones and being lazy.

However, I’d argue that as the digital age and technology began to evolve, so did society’s work expectations. Businesses, and even employees, are expected to be a brand in and of themselves that has value and positively impacts society (instead of just selling products).

As a marketer or business owner, you might be wondering, “How can I create a brand that my audience connects with?”

In this post, we’ll discuss how to create brand pillars that clearly communicate your brand identity to your audience.

For example, brand pillars can be core values, important strengths, or aspects of a brand that support or add dimension to the core idea of “Who are you?”

Essentially, these brand pillars can be anything that your customers find important — perhaps it’s innovation, reliability, on-time delivery, etc.

Brand pillars are meant to differentiate your brand and should be valued and endorsed by your customers. When someone asks why your customers like your brand, they’ll probably be able to list off your brand pillars if you’re clearly communicating your brand well.

These pillars should be decided on strategically to provide better products or services to your customers.

I know this might sound slightly conceptual. Brand pillars can be easier to understand when we break them down into categories.

Below, let’s learn about the five brand pillar categories you can use to determine your own brand pillars.

What are the five brand pillars?

The main brand pillars are purpose, perception, identity, values, and brand experience.

1. Purpose

Purpose can be described as the mission and foundation of your company. It will answer questions like “Why did you start your company?” and “What are you hoping to achieve?”

Think about this strategically. What do you want to communicate to your audience as your purpose? What do you want to communicate to employees or potential employees? Knowing your purpose will help you hire employees who align with your mission and correctly target your audience.

Purpose can even be described as the culture of your company. For example, at HubSpot, our culture is about growth-minded individuals who have HEART (they are humble, empathetic, adaptable, remarkable, and transparent). The acronym HEART is one of our brand pillars as a company.

2. Perception

Perception is about how your customers perceive your company/brand. You’ll want to either evaluate how current customers view your brand, or if you’re a new company, write down some characteristics that you’d like customers to associate with your brand.

This could be something like hospitality or leadership. If these are your perception brand pillars, then you want customers to view you as a leader in your industry that is a trusted, good host (this makes sense for a hotel, for example).

3. Identity

This brand pillar is about who you are as a brand. A brand is something you are, it’s not something you have. It’s all about your personality as a company.

For example, an identity brand pillar could be something like “cheeky” or “bold.” This means that you want customers to see you like a cheeky personality. The reason to define this brand pillar is so you have a guiding light for how to be human and interact with your customers.

4. Values

Your values are about communicating your overall position to your audience. What’s important to you as a company? How do you want to make a difference? This could be something like valuing integrity and ownership.

5. Brand Experience

Lastly, brand experience is a pillar that will help you promote your products and services. People use products and services when they like a brand. When there are so many options to choose from these days, customers will choose to buy from companies they like. This means you need to create a positive customer experience and association with your overall brand.

By using these brand pillars as a basis, you can create a brand identity that sets you apart from your competition. Companies that fail most likely haven’t considered what their brand pillars are and how they align.

If you have a robust strategy, but you don’t have a purpose or identity, people won’t feel compelled to purchase from you. On the other hand, if you promise that you value user experience, but the perception is off, then you also won’t find success.

In the next section, let’s review how you can use these categories to define your brand pillars.

How to Determine Your Brand Pillars

To determine your brand pillars, you should ask yourself a series of questions to come up with the top characteristics that you want to communicate to your audience.

Purpose

  • Why did you/are you starting your company?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How do you want to serve your customers?
  • What value do you offer to customers that support your mission and vision?

Your purpose should serve as a magnet for employees and customers who share similar values. It will also provide a hook to tell your company’s story and differentiate yourself from your competition.

Perception

  • What role do you play in your customer’s mind?
  • What do they perceive your value to be?

This pillar could be something like education. Perhaps people view you as a place they go to learn about your industry. This is completely owned by your audience and how they interpret your brand through messaging and reputation and management.

Identity

  • What’s your culture like?
  • What’s your point of view?
  • What kind of tone of voice do you use in communication?
  • What are your convictions and behaviors that define your brand?

Defining your voice and brand is about strategizing how you want to speak to your audience on several platforms. The brand personality signals what employees might be like, how they behave, who your customers are, etc.

Values

  • What’s important to you in your interaction with your audience?
  • What do you value above all else, even before your own financial interests?

Again, this pillar will help define what you care about as a company.

Brand Experience

  • How do customers interact with you at each touchpoint?
  • What kind of experience do you want customers to have?
  • What makes your customer experience better than your competitors?

This pillar will define much of your perceived personality and reputation.

When creating your brand pillars, think about what your customers get from you. Do they get convenience, higher quality, time savings, etc.?

To determine your brand pillars, think about your brand strategy and come up with things that clearly define your personality, voice, customer experience, your purpose, and how people will perceive your brand.

Brand Pillar Examples

1. Hilton Brand Pillars

Hilton’s brand pillars are very clearly stated on its website. They value hospitality, integrity, leadership, teamwork, ownership, and now (sense of urgency).

These are stated as their values, but they’re really brand pillars that showcase how the company wants to be perceived, what their identity is, what the customer experience is like, and what they value.

2. Patagonia Brand Pillars

Patagonia is a brand that has personality and purpose. Their mission is to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis (this is their purpose). Additionally, Patagonia offers a minimalistic style and values simplicity and utility (this is their personality and values).

3. Nike Brand Pillars

Since it was founded, Nike has been consistent in its brand pillars. They are all about competition and surpassing one’s limits. All the company’s advertising, messaging, and investment decisions support that personality and value.

Brand pillars are a great way to define and differentiate your company from the competition. It’s not just about making products anymore — it’s about having a voice and point of view that offers value to its customers.

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Author: Rebecca Riserbato

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How to Build a Marketing Technology (Martech) Stack That’ll Grow With You

What will your marketing team look like six months from now? Or a year from now? How many people will you add? What new tools, systems, and data will you need?

There are a lot of potential questions you can ask about the future of your business, but there is one certainty: you’ll deal with more data, more people, more processes, and more complex problems as you grow.

But how do you deal with that in your marketing team? That’s where marketing technology, or martech, comes in. By automating tasks and removing obstacles from your team’s workflows, marketing tech empowers your team to waste less time on menial tasks, allowing your business to grow more efficiently.

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When you put it all together, you get a marketing technology stack: a collection of tools that your team uses to do their best work every day.

As your team and business scales, it’s important to create a martech stack that streamlines your day-to-day processes. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about martech and how to build a marketing tech stack that will stay with you as you grow your business.

Marketing technology can be used by any type of marketer — even non-digital marketers. One martech tool is typically used for a different marketing discipline.

Here are a few examples of disciplines and a martech tool that can be used for them.

Instead of adopting a plethora of different tools, some marketers choose to adopt an all-in-one solution such as Marketing Hub.

How is technology used in marketing?

Technology is used by marketers to execute their marketing campaigns. Marketers use software to automate marketing tasks and collect data so they can get insights related to campaign activity and their impact on customers.

For example, say that your team spends a significant amount of time emailing customers. The action feels repetitive, and it’s keeping people away from more pressing assignments. You may choose to use an email automation software, so less time is spent sending emails.

You also want the software you use to track data related to those emails, so you gain an understanding of how your users interact with them.

In brief, marketers use technology to make their jobs easier and understand their levels of success. The technology that marketers use in their campaigns is known as their marketing tech stack.

Let’s say that you primarily focus on SEO and paid ads on social media. You would add the following tools to your marketing tech stack: Moz for SEO and HootSuite for social media management.

Alternatively, you can adopt an all-in-one solution such as Marketing Hub to take care of both your SEO and social media marketing strategies.

For instance, Marketing Hub’s SEO tool will assist you in optimizing your site with its built-in keyword research tools, as well as as-you-type optimization advice while you’re creating content.

Marketing tech SEO tool from HubSpot

Its social media management tool will take care of everything related to social media — including post creation and audience engagement analytics. You can even reply directly to comments from the tool.

Marketing tech social media management tool from HubSpot

Overall, the technology you choose will help you execute your campaigns from start to finish.

But with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to build a martech stack that works for your team. Let’s go over how you can build an effective stack.

How to Build a Marketing Tech Stack

There is no out-of-the-box method for building your martech stack. Your company is unique, and your perfect marketing stack is not going to look exactly like anyone else’s.

This is the time for choosing the right tech tools for your team and setting them up in a way that your future team can use and understand. To do so, take the following steps.

1. Identify your primary marketing strategies and goals.

Before ever choosing a martech tool, you’ll need to outline your marketing strategies. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either: you simply need to have an idea of the basic strategies that you want to implement.

If you already have an established marketing team, take a look at the strategies that are currently in place. This will help you gauge, from the get-go, the types of tools you need.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you want to increase organic traffic to your website. The strategy for that would be SEO. Next, you want to capture leads. So you would invest in a website redesign strategy that highlights your calls-to-actions more efficiently.

Jot these strategies down in a document, then include ideas for possible tools you can use to implement the strategies. If you don’t know which tools you use, simply write that you’ll list them after further research.

Example 1

  • Goal: Increase organic traffic
  • Strategy: SEO
  • Tools: To be determined

Example 2

  • Goal: Get more visitors to convert
  • Strategy: Redesign the website
  • Tools: To be determined

2. Survey your team to find out their challenges.

Next, sit down with your team and find out the challenges they encounter when trying to execute their day-to-day duties.

What adds more time to their workflow? What makes their job harder?

While the conversation should be open-ended, try to connect their challenges to your marketing goals. For instance, if you want to increase organic traffic, ask what specifically your team finds challenging when trying to optimize the website. If they say keyword research takes too much time, then you’d know that you’ll need a keyword research tool specifically.

Jot these challenges down in the same document you’ve already started. Keep it simple — just a sentence or a few bullet points will do.

Example 1

  • Goal: Increase organic traffic
  • Strategy: SEO
  • Challenges: Keyword research takes too much time
  • Tools: Keyword research tool that quickens the process

Example 2

  • Goal: Get more visitors to convert
  • Strategy: Redesigned website
  • Challenges: Unable to add CTAs because of the outdated backend system
  • Tools: A new content management system that allows the team to add CTAs to any page

3. Establish an estimated budget.

Building your dream martech stack means nothing if you can’t afford it. As you begin to determine the types of tools you’ll need, think about the funds you’ll allot for them.

You can go several ways about this. You can determine a budget per tool or per strategy. Alternatively, you can choose a budget overall for the entire team in a yearly, quarterly, or monthly basis.

Choosing a monthly budget is the best choice for small businesses without a dedicated finance team. Most tools are available on a monthly subscription basis, which makes it easier to drop one if it doesn’t work for the team.

You can also choose a budget per strategy. For instance, you can decide you’ll invest $200 a month in SEO tools.

Be sure to take into account the amount of seats you’ll need for the tool, or ensure the team is open to sharing one subscription. Most times, sharing a single subscription will work without a problem, and you can save a significant amount of money.

4. Research the tools you’ll consider for your martech stack.

Now that you have your strategies, your tool ideas, and your budget, it’s time to research the actual products you’ll add to your martech stack. If you’re a marketing leader, you can leave this task to individual team members, because they’ll be the ones using the tools.

It’s helpful to look at product curation posts to get a general idea of the offerings that are out there. For the keyword research challenges in your team, for example, you can look at a list of keyword research tools. If you’re looking for a new CMS, you should look at a list of the best CMS systems.

From there, you can investigate pricing, product reviews, and general fit for your team.

Make a list of the tech tools in a spreadsheet and include pricing and a general description of the product. From there, refine the list until you’ve decided on the tools you want to try out, and be sure to specify whether the tool needs a monthly or yearly subscription.

5. Consider non-marketing tools to add to your tech stack.

When we talk about the martech stack, we’re often caught up in marketing-specific tools. But there are a wide range of “general” tools that are useful for a marketing team.

Project management tools, collaboration platforms, and data sync software solutions are just a few of the products you can consider. Anything that cuts time from a complicated workflow is worth exploring. Google Drive would be an example, and so would Asana.

Add these products to your martech list, including the pricing and a brief description.

6. Compile the data that you’ll transfer into the tools.

After you’ve purchased the tools, it’s time to transfer the data. Already have a list of leads? How about Microsoft Word documents you’d like to import into Google Drive for collaborative editing?

Compile all of them in folders. Assign a type of data to each team member. For instance, one team member can compile the contacts from a conference. Another team member can compile the current templates you use for your social media posts. Another can compile all of the copy from the website for the website redesign.

When it’s time to sign up for the tools and adopt them, you can transfer these files and data and more easily pick up where you left off.

7. Assign one team member to create a workflow per tool.

Now that it’s time to adopt the martech tools, you don’t want to throw it out to your team without a workflow. That’s an easy way to end up with a subscription that no one is using.

Assign one team member to explore one specific tool. This team member will jot down workflow steps for using the tool effectively and write a step-by-step tutorial with screenshots. After, schedule a meeting for the team member to carry out a live tutorial.

Why? You can establish the best way to use the tool without a lot of guesswork. The process will be scattered and haphazard if everyone starts using the tool at once. By having a single uniform process, you can guarantee that every team member is using the tool to its fullest extent.

8. Analyze the tools’ success and switch solutions if necessary.

You don’t want to end up with an unused martech stack. Always audit your tools for their success — whether they effectively streamline workflows, automate tasks, and help your team do their work in a better way.

If not, there’s no shame in cancelling your subscription and going for another solution. Take a look at product curation posts, or research individual tools you may have heard of from other marketing leaders.

Let’s go over a few tips you should apply when building your martech stack.

Martech Stack Tips

As you build your marketing tech stack, you’ll be pulled in all sorts of different directions. When your business is growing, you’ll be tempted to add more complexity to address urgent gaps.

We’ve been there. HubSpot’s marketing operations team is all too familiar with the challenge of dealing with more and more as our team grows.

We’ve learned a lot along the way — so we gathered insights from HubSpot’s resident operations experts to ask what they wish they would have known when growing HubSpot’s own marketing tech stack.

1. Strategy first, technology second.

As companies grow, it can be tempting to rely on technology to support processes that are still evolving. Usually, this happens when a team adopts powerful tools that have a lot of potential, and they try to mold their systems around it.

HubSpot’s marketing operations team has made this mistake, too, and with an important takeaway: What sets apart truly powerful tech stacks isn’t just about the technology.

“The tools themselves won’t make you successful but rather how you use them,” explains Kerri Harrington, Marketing Ops Analyst here at HubSpot.

Harrington has worked closely with HubSpot Partners, consulting many who were in the midst of building their tech stacks. She taught them to think about their tech stack not as the powerhouse behind their systems, but a vehicle to efficiently and effectively execute their strategy.

If you are still developing your strategy, she says, try drawing out and visualizing your tech stack. This gives you an opportunity to think critically about each tool, the purpose it serves, and where there is any overlap or duplication in your tools.

2. Keep systems simple.

Have you heard of the “keep it simple, silly” (KISS) principle? The term, originally coined by an aeronautical engineer in the US Navy, states that simplicity guarantees the greatest levels of user acceptance and interaction.

The term is used often in software design, for example, where function and instruction creep can make products unmanageable over time.

How do you prevent this happening in your own company as it continues to grow? Put your current strategy down on paper, and review the value of every stage of your process with your leadership team. Consider what processes could be done more efficiently, and what could be eliminated altogether.

“The #1 driver of complex business systems is complex business rules,” says Mark Metcoff, Director of Marketing Technology at HubSpot. “If you can simplify your go-to-market strategy as much as possible, then regardless of how you structure your systems, you’ll be heading in the right direction.”

3. Aim for medium-term solutions.

In an ideal world, every decision you make about your tech stack today will work seamlessly for your team for years to come.

In reality, though, you are probably going to change systems a dozen times over the next few years if you continue to scale. You shouldn’t worry about picking your forever tech, but do not settle for a tool that will become obsolete in 6 months, either.

“Aim for the medium-term,” Metcoff suggests. “The costs of switching systems has never been lower, thanks to the emergence of more persistent datastores like customer data platforms that can underlie front-office facing systems, and iPaaS solutions that allow you to integrate front-office providers for easy data transfer.”

4. Document everything, and document it well.

Imagine opening your spice cabinet, ready to cook up a chicken curry, to find that nothing in the cabinet is labeled. Every spice and herb is in the same colored jar, with no ingredient label or expiration date.

Unless you have a noteworthy sense of smell, this project would not be very easy or enjoyable.

This is what it’s like to step into a new role only to realize that your new team’s processes and database have not been properly documented. This is common among growing companies, because as your database grows and your systems evolve, it’s easy to end up with a lot of clutter, data integrity issues, and confusion.

Many will skip right over this — who likes to document? Who has the time to ‘waste’ a day of innovation to do seemingly admin work? We get it — But for the sake of your future team, make sure you take the time to lay down the right foundation for data architecture.

“I can’t tell you how many times we have to review the history of a change or ‘walk through’ the last couple of years on a topic,” says Maggie Butler, Builder Marketing Team Manager at HubSpot. “It gets really, really hard if no one has documented anything.”

One incredibly valuable resource HubSpot had during one of its growth spurts, she says, was the documentation built by our engineers that detailed in simple language how the logic and code worked. Aim for this level of documentation to be comprehensive across all applications, and easily accessible for everyone on your team.

In terms of marketing tools, our Lead Management tool embodies the ‘document everything’ mantra. The tool can be used to create a database of all customer information, where you can view chronological timelines of every interaction customers have had with you.

5. Choose point solutions that serve a single purpose.

A point solution is a product or service that addresses one very specific need in a marketing organization. Sometimes, you just need a piece of software to do a specific thing really, really well. There’s no shame in it.

The data sync software included in Operations Hub is a great example of this. If you use multiple different apps to execute your marketing strategy, keeping track of customer data from each app can be a tedious process. The data sync tool can integrate with your CRM to streamline this process by syncing customer data from your favorite apps into one up-to-date database.

But keep in mind that every piece you do add to your infrastructure comes with its own compliance risks, technical challenges, maintenance and upkeep, and general administration.

“Also look closely at whether or not it needs to be integrated into your tech stack,” explains Metcoff. “Sometimes point solutions work just fine in a silo.”

If you have any point solutions in your current stack, think about how it fits into the bigger picture: how does it interact with the rest of your technologies, and what do you need to do to keep it running?

6. Aim for ease of use, but don’t sacrifice the necessities.

There are a lot of options out there — so don’t settle for less than what you need. At the end of the day, you need to choose a system that’s easy for your team to pick up and use, but still has the power and flexibility you need to get things done.

The challenge with today’s marketing automation tools is that they offer either enterprise-grade power or consumer-grade ease-of-use, but never both. As a result, many still go with the safe bet — overpriced, overly complicated, and under-utilized tools — which translates to spending more time on systems than on your customers.

Best Marketing Tech Stack

The best marketing tech stack for your business is entirely tailored to your needs, but there are a few tools we recommend — especially if you’re just building out your marketing team.

Let’s take a look at a martech stack for general use, attracting site visitors, converting site visitors, and engaging leads. These martech tools are essential for running a high-performing marketing team.

Collaboration: Google Drive

Google Drive allows your team to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and folders — all on the cloud. There’s no need for anyone to download any software on their laptop. The best part is that losing work is nearly impossible with Google Drive.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: OneDrive, Dropbox

Communication: Slack

Slack is an instant messaging platform that’s specifically designed for work (and not leisure chatting). This tool makes it easy for your marketing team to share quick updates, send files, and communicate live if necessary. With Slack, there’s no need to send emails that can be covered in a quick conversation.

Pricing: Free; $6.67/user/month (Pro); $12.50/user/month (Business +); Custom (Enterprise Grid)

Alternatives: Google Chat, Microsoft Teams

Project Management: Asana

Project management is the heart and soul of marketing. Whether your team is scheduling campaigns, managing complicated workflows, or working on a project-to-project basis, you don’t want anything to fall through the cracks. Asana makes it easy by providing a collaborative space for your team to check off tasks and share project updates.

Pricing: Free; $10.99/user/month (Premium); $24.99/user/month (Business)

Alternatives: Trello, Freedcamp, Project.co

Asset Creation: Canva

Canva offers a wide range of helpful templates to help your marketing team create assets for anything. Social media posts, Facebook banners, posters, infographics, presentations, flyers, and brochures can all be created with Canva. The best part is that you can start for free, and there’s virtually no learning curve. You can sign up and start using it right away.

Pricing: Free; $199.99/year (Pro); $30/user/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: Visme, Snappa, Adobe Creative Cloud (recommended for advanced users)

Stock Images: Unsplash

Stock images are used in any type of marketing material, such as blog posts, banners, flyers, and brochures. It’s illegal to use images you find online unless they’re under a Creative Commons license. Some of these images are also not of professional quality. Unsplash is a great option for getting access to and downloading high-quality stock photos for free.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Pexels, Shutterstock (Paid), Getty Images (Paid), iStock Photos (Paid)

Image Optimization: Toolur

After you download stock images, it’s important to compress them so that they don’t slow down your website. There are many image compression tools out there, but Toolur is one of the best. You can upload up to 25 images at a time, choose different compression methods, set image quality, and resize them all to a preset width. Competitors only allow you to upload an image at a time or try to upsell you by restricting compression options.

If you’re optimizing GIFs, we recommend Ezgif.com.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Squoosh.app, TinyJPG

Grammar Checker: Grammarly

Publishing error-free copy is paramount to presenting your business professionally online. With Grammarly, you can take all the manual work out of copy-editing your work. Although it’s still recommended to give your pieces one final read-through before publication, Grammarly will catch most errors.

Pricing: Free; $12/month (Premium); $12.50/user/month (Business)

Alternatives: ProWritingAid, Hemingway App

Content Management and Blogging: CMS Hub

If you don’t yet have a website or blog and need to create one, you’ll need a scalable CMS system to power your website. If you already have a website but the CMS is clunky and hard-to-use, you’ll also need to seek a replacement that makes it easier to publish and update content.

CMS Hub is one of the best options in the business. You can build landing pages, create forms, add pop-up CTAs, publish blog posts, and see all of your performance metrics in one easy-to-use platform. It’s integrated with Marketing Hub, allowing you to seamlessly connect your other marketing initiatives to your website. Because it’s an all-in-one solution, there’s no need to pay for plugins and add-ons that slow down your site.

Pricing: $270/month (Professional); $900/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal

Website Visitor Analytics: Google Analytics

Knowing who’s visiting your site, when they’re visiting, where they’re visiting from, and whether they bounce off is critical to understanding and improving your overall website performance. Google Analytics also helps you measure your organic traffic, see top landing pages, and see top exit pages.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: StatCounter (Paid), Simple Analytics (Paid)

Web Page Analytics: Google Search Console

While Google Analytics is an excellent way to measure overall website performance, Google Search Console takes it a step further by providing analytics page-by-page. You can use it to see your top queries for either the whole site or a specific page, compare time periods, and compare two or more URLs on your site.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Ahrefs (Paid), Moz (Paid)

Website Analytics Dashboard: Google Data Studio

You’d create a dashboard for nearly anything in marketing: email marketing performance, landing page performance, user acquisition stats, and more. For those, you’d be better off with a dedicated reporting dashboard software.

For creating dashboards on website analytics, however, Google Data Studio is a budget-friendly tool that automatically imports data from Google Analytics. This makes it an easy choice for current Google Analytics users. Simply choose the data you want to show and configure it using the drag-and-drop dashboard editor.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: HubSpot’s Dashboard and Reporting Software (included in Marketing Hub), Databox (Paid)

Email Marketing: Marketing Hub’s Email Marketing Tool

Marketing Hub’s free email marketing tool allows you to create rich HTML emails without writing a single line of code. You can also personalize the emails using smart rules and A/B test campaigns to increase click-through-rates. The tool is integrated with all of Marketing Hub’s features — so a lead from any form on your website automatically turns into a subscriber.

Pricing: Free

Alternatives: Constant Contact (Paid), MailChimp (Paid)

Marketing Automation: Marketing Hub

Marketing automation allows you to nurture leads with drip campaigns that are triggered based on a lead’s specific action. Marketing Hub allows you to automate campaigns and personalize workflows with segmentation logic. You can also score leads, send leads to sales, and trigger internal notifications.

The workflows feature is included in the Professional and Enterprise subscription tiers.

Pricing: $800/month (Professional); $3,200/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: Marketo

SEO: Ahrefs

SEO has many facets: keyword research, backlink-building, competitive research, and rank tracking. But you don’t want to pay for different tools to do each one of those things. Ahrefs has a keyword explorer, rack tracker, and site explorer where you can audit the inbound links pointing to your competitors.

Pricing: $99/month (Lite); $179/month (Standard); $399/month (Advanced); $999/month (Agency)

Alternatives: Moz, SEMRush

Technical SEO: Screaming Frog

A robust technical infrastructure can take your website from serviceable to outstanding. Screaming Frog is an essential tool for finding 404 errors, identifying broken links, generating sitemaps, finding duplicate content (which can greatly harm your rankings), and analyzing your pages’ metadata.

Pricing: Free; $211 USD/year

Alternatives: DeepCrawl, Ahrefs, Moz

SEM (Paid Ads): Google Ads

When considering an SEM tool to add to your martech stack, there’s no better option than Google Ads. This tool allows you to place sponsored results on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and also allows you to display ads on Google’s display partners.

Pricing: Varies (Pay-Per-Click)

Alternatives: Media.net, AdRoll

Social Media Marketing: Marketing Hub’s Social Inbox

Social media marketing is critical for growing your follower base and increasing lead generation. It’s important to use a tool that allows you to post, comment, and manage your brand across multiple platforms.

Marketing Hub’s social media tool empowers your team to do all of this and more. You can schedule posts up to three years in advance, analyze your performance on social platforms, monitor brand mentions, and participate in the conversations that most matter to you. It’s included in the Professional and Enterprise subscription tiers.

Pricing: $800/month (Professional); $3,200/month (Enterprise)

Alternatives: HootSuite, SproutSocial

Video Marketing: Wyzowl

If your team does any video marketing, you’ll need a video marketing tool to help you create engaging videos that increase brand awareness and effectively explain your product. Wyzowl makes it easy because you don’t have to hire a videographer, animator, script writer, and voiceover actor to create polished, shareable videos.

Pricing: Available upon request

Alternatives: Testimonial Hero, Content Beta

Webinars: ON24

Webinars are an important tool for B2B marketers and an effective way to generate leads. If your team runs webinars or is planning to, ON24 is a top option for creating engaging webinars, gauging your event’s performance, and identifying potential leads.

Pricing: Available on request

Alternatives: GoToWebinar, Zoho Meeting

Conversion Rate Optimization: Optimizely

A conversion rate optimization tool will help your team ensure that your CTAs are designed to drive conversions. The Optimizely Digital Experience Platform allows you to experiment with colors, placement, and design of your CTAs. You can also test your website’s personalization options and deliver highly tailored recommendations to your website users.

Pricing: Available on request

Alternatives: Google Optimize, Crazy Egg

Build a Martech Stack that Helps You Grow Better

With all of the tools available these days, there is no need to use clunky, complex, and time-consuming legacy software. We believe you shouldn’t have to sacrifice productivity to get power, because the best tools combine both power and ease-of-use. When you focus on delighting your customers and creating great experiences instead of managing your software, you will grow better.

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

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Author: Lisa Nikolau

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What Netflix Bingeing Taught Me About Digital Experience

Next time you open Netflix, I want you to try something.

When you see your tailored suggestions, as the platform starts the video right where you left off on your iPad, stop and take note of that experience.

How do these experiences actually make you feel?

Does the device handoff give you a rush of excitement and gratitude?

Probably not.

Start over. Imagine opening Netflix again.

Your recommendations are gone, replaced with an unfiltered list of content. The list feels random, but then you’d expect at least a couple of shows to be of random interest. They’re not. That episode you’re halfway through on your iPad? You’ll have to scroll back and forth to find your place. Ultimately, you’ll probably just rewatch parts of the episode “just to be safe”.  

Download Now: Digital Experience Audit [Free Workbook]

If you’re like me (my apologies if you are), you’ll react more to this moment of friction than the moment of seamless performance. The seamless experience is largely invisible — it’s unfelt — while the bad experience is impossible to ignore. Based on how bad it is, it’ll haunt you and sometimes make you question your life choices.

It may even push you toward Hulu or Disney +, or another platform that you trust more.

The same dynamic is at play for the digital experiences you deliver to customers.

2020 and 2021 accelerated digital transformation across industries, creating a new set of expectations in your customers’ personal and professional lives.

For them, being delighted isn’t a capstone to their experience as your customer; it’s the cornerstone your relationship is built on. Today’s buyers have more options, and disruptors are acquiring — and retaining — new business through the experience they provide their customers.

These new expectations present huge opportunities for those who are willing to rethink their digital experiences and a huge risk for those who are not.

So, why are so many businesses failing to meet these expectations?

Is it because they just don’t care about the customers’ experience? Sometimes — but not usually. A vast majority of businesses would love to deliver a delightful experience.

The reason they don’t is mostly because cobbled-together point solutions can’t deliver a clear view of the customer.

After all, scaling companies are in a constant state of adaptation. As new needs and opportunities arise, companies introduce a network of individual solutions that solve discrete problems: a CRM to manage customer data, a CMS to build their website, and marketing automation to scale their efforts.

Over time, as you add more solutions, your company’s tech stack grows so unwieldy it becomes a barrier between you and your customers instead of a bridge. It keeps you from the agile reporting you need and makes automation way more complicated than it should be. It makes personalization unreliable and messaging fragmented.

Since the dawn of the digital age, the status quo has been to rely on a separate CRM, CMS and automation tool. It’s what many marketing leaders have accepted as a necessary evil — despite the friction it causes for customers.

So, how do today’s companies win?

By delivering a best-in-class, unified digital experience that exceeds customer expectations. Doing this requires two foundational elements.

1. Information

Any marketing based on assumptions is doomed to failure. To get the digital experience right for every individual customer at scale requires reliable, organized and actionable data.

Not just ‘who are your customers?’ but ‘who is this customer?’ How and where have they interacted with you digitally? What do they need from you right now, and more importantly, what will they need from you next?

At HubSpot, we built the Customer Code with this philosophy in mind: Use the data you have access to, don’t abuse it. But in order to leverage the data you gather to create better digital experiences, all of your customer-facing teams need a single source of truth for that data — a key ingredient that’s beyond the reach of companies that still use cobbled-together solutions. That’s where centralization comes in.

2. Centralization

Providing a seamless experience across touchpoints is really a matter of shifting from ad hoc point solutions to a crafted, unified platform that provides a single view of the customer. When a CMS sits alongside key sales, services, and marketing tools in a centralized system, every customer-facing team knows how customers are interacting with their business and — more importantly — how they can help.

And this is the key: if you want your marketing, sales and service teams to deliver a great experience, you have to give them a fighting chance. You do this by having the systems and data they use aligned and unified.

For example, consider a repeat visitor to your pricing page. If both marketing and sales can see this activity, the marketing team can send a discount code or helpful resources that contextualize your pricing while sales can reach out to offer guidance or a product demo.

With this centralized platform and toolset, you can see and anticipate customer needs and take action immediately. You can tailor digital experiences on an individual level, across touchpoints, using the most up-to-date insights on customer needs, questions or interests — just like they expect you to.

The CRM for Today’s Customer Expectations

The answer to these business challenges isn’t just to use a CRM. You probably already have one of those. If you’re really unlucky, maybe even two. It probably doesn’t allow you to easily do any of what I just described, and it likely can’t deliver the seamless experiences your customers expect.

Instead, you need a CRM platform that has been designed specifically to meet today’s sky-high customer expectations; one that you can adapt to changing customer expectations, align your teams around, and adopt without an uphill change management battle. (And no, there are no change management battles that are downhill).

To pull off this digital experience at scale, you need to rethink the underlying components of the experience itself.

The customer-facing pieces — your website, email content, advertising, member portals — are front and center. But only touchpoints that are powered by a modern, purpose-built CRM provide the personalization and timeliness that distinguish an average digital interaction from an elite one.

And whether it’s Netflix, HubSpot or your corner cafe, delivering elite customer experiences is the key to navigating uncertain times, thriving in the digital-first era, and ultimately, growing better.

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The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Minority-Owned Business [+ Expert Tips]

COVID-19 presented more challenges than one for businesses, and the pandemic took an even more tremendous toll on minority business owners.

With minority business owners experiencing a cash crunch, not many could secure loans to keep their doors open.

In 2020, 400,000 small businesses decided to permanently close due to the effects of the pandemic — many of which were in underserved communities. Whether you’re in the idea phase or already established, this guide will help you get your minority-owned business off the ground.

Before you dive into this guide, check out this blog on how to start a business if you’re still in the idea phase.

When you finish reading this piece, you’ll have everything you need (and more) to thrive as a minority business owner — from how to get certified as a minority-owned business, to funding options and growth resources.

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Get Certified as a Minority-Owned Business

After you’ve nailed down your business idea, plan, and registered your company, it’s time to get certified as a minority-owned business. This certification isn’t required, but it will help inform consumers and potential partners about your company’s leadership.

You may also need this certification may also if you want to apply for government-funded minority business grants and loans, or other programs.

Illinois, Ohio, California, and New York have local agencies to get certified as a minority-owned business on a state level. There are various ways to get certified from local state and business agencies, so it might be best to consult them directly based on where your business is registered.

Here are a few other high-level agencies to consider getting a minority-owned business certification from:

  • The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC): Headquartered in New York, NMSDC manages 22 regional affiliate councils around the U.S. NMSDC offers minority-owned business certifications and business development programs. The council has a network of more than 1,750 corporate members and has matched more than 12,000 minority-owned businesses with these member corporations. The certification process includes an online application, fee, interview, and site visit upon approval.
  • The Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development program: The federal government committed to awarding five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses with an 8(a) designation each year. This is an SBA-specific minority-owned business certification needed if your company plans to compete better for federal government contracts.

These same organizations and agencies may offer women-owned and LGBTQ-owned business certifications, as well.

Apply for Minority Business Grants

Minority founders often start bootstrapped, launch crowdfunding campaigns, or even try and raise initial funding through family and friends.

You can take various routes to fund your startup, but if you’re on your own when it comes to financing, seeking grant funding is a great start. Grants.gov distributes more than 1,000 small business grants for an open search, and this is where all federal government agencies post their grant opportunities.

Here are a few business grant opportunities for minority founders:

  • The Coalition to Back Black Businesses Fund: This initiative was created to aid small Black businesses struggling through the pandemic. The coalition is awarding 300 grants amounting to $5,000 each.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): This agency runs the Rural Business Development Grant Program for businesses operating in rural areas, with a population under 50,000 residents. The program offers grants to minority small businesses ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.
  • Rebuild the Block (RTB): As part of its Small Business Relief Fund, RTB award 15 grants monthly to Black business owners affected by the pandemic. There isn’t a specific monetary value on each grant, and freelancers and other creatives are encouraged to apply.
  • First Nations Development Institute (FNDI): Deadlines and opportunities vary, but this nonprofit provides financial and technical support to Native American organizations. FNDI has provided 2,150 grants totaling $43 million to Native projects across 40 stages and regions.
  • The National Black MBA Association: Since 2017, the association has been hosting the Scale-Up Pitch Competition, which awards grants ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 to Black business owners. Someone from the company must be a member of the association to apply for this opportunity.
  • Asian Women Giving Circle (AWGC): This grant is exclusive for Asian American women-owned businesses. AWGC awarded 11 grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 each in 2020, and this year, the maximum grant amount is $15,000.
  • SoGal Foundation: This rolling program awards $5,000 and $10,000 to Black women founders and Black nonbinary entrepreneurs.
  • FedEx: Each year, FedEx hosts a nationwide Small Business Grant Contest, and while it’s not exclusively for minority small businesses, many of the past winners have been minority founders. Winners receive grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, plus funds for FedEx printing services.

If you’re looking for more opportunities, Please Assist Me Co-founder and CEO Stephanie Cummings suggests subscribing to newsletters distributed by 1863 Ventures and Backstage Capital.

Each organization sends out a monthly newsletter loaded with updated grant and funding opportunities specifically for minority founders.

Apply for Minority Business Loans

Another financing option could be applying for loans. Historically, minority founders have struggled to secure business loans due to credit inequality and discrimination, but there are still reasonable loan options out there.

Here are a few business loan opportunities for minority founders:

  • Accompany Capital: Looking to support immigrants, refugees, and women entrepreneurs specifically, Accompany Capital offers microloans of $500 to $50,000 with repayment terms ranging from six months to three years.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): SBA manages a few loan opportunities, including its Microloan Program and Community Advantage Loan Program. Open to all small businesses, the Microloan Program offers loans up to $50,000 with loans averaging $13,000 each. For the Community Advantage Loan Program, SBA encourages community lenders, mainly nonprofit financial entities, to make loans up to $250,000 to minorities, women, veterans, and other underserved founders.
  • Business Consortium Fund: Offered to NMSDC certified businesses, the fund offers loans and lines of credit ranging from $250,000 to $750,000 with repayments terms of up to five years.
  • USDA: As part of its Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, USDA offers up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to local banks and direct lenders operating in rural areas with a population under 50,000 residents. Minority businesses can also directly apply for a USDA loan, ranging from $200,000 to $5 million with a maximum cap of $10 million.

Tap into Additional Minority Programs and Resources

Even if you may think you have it all figured out, a little extra guidance wouldn’t hurt.

Here are ten accelerators, startup programs, and other resources for minority founders:

  • The Visible Hands fellowship runs a 14-week virtual program to provide company-building services and investments up to $200,000 to underrepresented entrepreneurs. The inaugural cohort will welcome more than 30 fellows.
  • Dedicated to diversity in tech, Black Founders provides programs and hosts events for Black tech entrepreneurs.
  • Operation HOPE runs an eight-week entrepreneurial training program designed to help entrepreneurs in low-income communities.
  • SBA’s Business Development program helps minority business owners better qualify for SBA loans. Your company must be registered as a small business with SBA to participate.
  • The Minority Business Development Agency, an agency within the U.S.Department of Commerce, was created to provide greater access to capital and resources to minority founders. The agency manages business centers across the nation and hosts business development programs.
  • 1863 Ventures–a business development organization working to promote people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, veterans, and physically disabled business owners–runs two accelerator programs. Its Pipeline program is for pre-growth stage companies, and its Acceler8 program is for growth to scale stage businesses.  
  • Y Combinator’s Startup Library includes a wealth of resources spanning 15 years.
  • The National Minority Business Council provides minority business owners with educational opportunities, entrepreneurial boot camps, seminars, business assistance, and more. Membership is encouraged.
  • The U.S. Minority Chamber of Congress is a nonprofit advocating for small business rights. The organization has chapters across the U.S. that host networking events and offer local entrepreneurial resources.
  • Founder Institute put together the Black American Startup Resource List filled with 742 resources for idea-stage entrepreneurs. If you’re looking for accelerators, investors, or even events, this list is a great place to start.

Indulge in Motivational Tips from Other Minority Founders

Starting a business from scratch is hard, but doing so as a minority may pose more challenges.

Many disparities get in the way for minority business owners, but hopefully, these opportunities and resources will ease some hassles. While starting a minority-owned business may be the same as starting any other company, there are a few extra things you can do — like getting certified — to tap into some unique opportunities made just for minorities.

I reached out to some minority business owners who have done the hard work and are still striving to grow their ventures. Here are some tips if you’re feeling discouraged:

  • “Understand that starting a busy is hard, and it’s 10X harder for minority founders. If you are committed to your dream, work hard, dig in and let your work speak for itself.” — Stephanie Cummings, co-founder and CEO of Please Assist Me.
  • “Just do it — one of my favorite slogans. As minorities, we often don’t see similar faces on the cover of Forbes or elsewhere. This is slowly changing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. What matters at the end of the day is if your business is actually helping others.”  — Nhon Ma, co-founder and CEO of Numerade.
  • “Don’t get too attached to ideas. Spend your time getting attached to your values, and know what you stand for as a person — your values will be your guiding light, not the ideas.” — Ronnie Kwesi Coleman, co-founder and CEO of Meaningful Gigs.
  • “Leverage your networks to build brand awareness organically, but don’t forget who helped you get there once you get some momentum.” — Leela Bhatia-Newman and Mariana Magala, co-founders of DistrictlyLocal.

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Author: Michelai A. Graham

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Why People Visit YouTube & How to Engage Them [New Data]

YouTube is the second largest website globally with over 2 billion global users.

Still, despite its huge audience, it can be challenging to gain engagement on your videos.

Ultimately, to gain views, likes, shares, and even subscribers, your content will have to engage at least part of YouTube’s huge audience while fulfilling their needs.

But, if you’re just starting on YouTube, or struggling to grow your strategy, you might not know what the platform’s audience wants just yet.

To help marketers learn more about YouTube’s huge user pool, and their interests, I asked nearly 300 consumers: “Why do you most commonly visit YouTube?”

Here’s what they said.

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Why Do People Visit YouTube?

Before we dive into what people picked as the most common reason they visit YouTube, it’s worth mention one thing you won’t see on the list below: product discovery.

Just a measly 3% of respondents visit YouTube primarily to “learn about products.”

A chart explainingg that most people visit youtube to be entertained

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However, you shouldn’t panic just yet. Keep in mind that we just polled a small group of general consumers about their most common reason for visiting YouTube. Had we asked them for their top three reasons, polled a larger group, or polled a specific demographic, the results could have been different.

It’s also worth noting that many demographics search out product videos when they’re researching a prospective purchase.

In fact, in a 2020 recent survey, 94% of people said they watch explainer videos to learn about products. While many YouTube users might not go to the YouTube platform just for product videos all the time, they probably still watch them when they’re relevant to their buyer’s journey.

However, knowing what YouTube audiences are looking for on YouTube will help you make a video related to your brand or product that still mixes in elements that can engage them and fulfill their viewing needs.

So, why do people visit YouTube? Let’s dive into the three most popular motives.

1. To watch videos that entertain me.

When we asked consumers why they visited the world’s second-largest platform, a whopping 65% of them said they did so for pure entertainment.

This stat might be terrifying for marketers, especially if you sell a product that might not be considered super flashy or attention-grabbing.

But, the stat above shouldn’t have you panicking just yet. Keep in mind that this is just one small survey. Had we asked people of certain age groups or industries this specific question, the results could have swayed in another direction.

However, it is very important to keep in mind that people on YouTube want to be entertained or at least intrigued by the content they’re watching. So, whether you’re planning to launch YouTube video ads or standard videos, you’ll want to add a touch of entertainment, action, or interesting information to them.

Here’s a great video, created by Headspace and LOL Network, that features actor Kevin Hart struggling to meditate and using the Headspace app to help him relax while jogging.

Even if you can’t work with a big-name celebrity, this video is still a great example of content that tells an entertaining story about how a product solves common problems. While Hart’s fame might pull people in, watching him worry about relatable, everyday things as he jogs could be relatable and funny to audiences.

2. To learn how to do something.

We’ve all had a moment in life where we couldn’t figure out how to do something and scoured the internet for a video that could help. That’s why it’s not surprising that 13% of respondents primarily visit YouTube to “learn how to do something.”

As a marketer, you can leverage the YouTube audience’s need for advice and guidance with videos on how to do things related to your brand, industry, or even your product.

On top of zoning in on the how-to format, you could also mix in entertaining elements, such as an influencer or entertaining video host, to fulfill a viewer’s need for interesting content

Here’s an example of a how-to video from B Simone Beauty, a cosmetics brand named after its founder B Simone. In the video, Simone, also known for her work as a stand-up comedian, offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to give yourself a glamorous makeover.

While the video highlights B Simone Beauty products, it focuses on makeup tutorial tips. Not only does this help audience members who have purchased cosmetics from the brand, but it also gives prospects helpful tips. By watching this video, you not only see what using B Simone products is like in real life, but you also learn how knowledgeable Simone is about makeup. Both of these elements could enable viewers to trust the company and product quality.

3. To learn about something, such as a hobby, interest, or industry.

While some people use YouTube to find step-by-step guides on how to do something, some just watch videos to soak up as much valuable information as possible. In our poll, 13% of respondents said they visit YouTube to “Learn about something related to a hobby, interest, or industry.”

As a marketer, you can also leverage this YouTube user need in your videos or in-stream ads. Here are just a few ways to weave valuable information into your next video.

  • Leading the video with a surprising or interesting stat.
  • Featuring expert tips or insight-filled interviews from your company leaders or industry experts.
  • Recording an explainer video with fun graphics, charts, and interesting information about a topic related to your industry or brand.

Here’s an example of a video HubSpot posted that discusses how TikTok’s audience has begun to mature by discussing stats and facts about the platform.

Although HubSpot isn’t a TikTok tool, it has a large marketing audience that the company is engaging with this video that educates viewers on a highly trendy topic.

By creating informative or educational videos related to your industry, you enable the viewers with similar interests to learn something new while also developing trust for your company. So, even if you aren’t explicitly mentioning your product, viewers could remember your brand and your expertise next time they’re shopping in your immediate space. Similarly, if someone does do product research and comes across your YouTube channel, they might trust that a brand with solid knowledge around an industry will create high-quality products.

Other Answers

Aside from the top three responses, 3% of people said they go to YouTube primarily to watch videos of their “favorite celebrities or influencers” while another 3% primarily use the platform to find videos related to “news and trends.”

While these responses don’t need to inform your strategy, they align well with the themes that people are looking for entertainment and interesting information.

Catering to YouTube’s Giant Audience

Ultimately, it’s unlikely that every single YouTube viewer will love your content or search out the types of videos you make. However, since the audience is so broad, there’s at least a large segment of it that could engage with your marketing strategy. As you develop or fine-tune your tactics, keep these tips in mind:

  • Know your audience: Learn the ins and outs of who uses the platform, identify the best demographics or targets to go after, and look at what types of videos they engage with most.
  • Mix education with entertainment: While many people visit the platform for entertainment or escape from their daily lives, others crave valuable or helpful information. So, try to create content that intrigues viewers, while also giving valuable information related to your brand or industry.
  • Don’t limit yourself to product videos: While you can certainly post a few demos, interesting customer stories, and mention your product in a few videos, keep in mind that YouTube visitors might not be looking for commercial-like content. Try to add variation with explainers, expert interviews, or other interesting, but on-brand, video formats.

Need more help with developing or expanding your YouTube strategy? We’ve got you covered.

Check out this data on why people click out of YouTube videos, this Ultimate Guide to YouTube Marketing, or download the free resource below.

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How 3 New Facebook & Instagram Shopping Features Could Help Marketers Boost Sales

For years, millions of brands have flocked to Instagram and Facebook to spread awareness to millennials, Gen Z, and members of other generations on the app.

And, at this point, marketing on these platforms has proven to be a smart tactic. On Instagram alone, 90% of its 1 billion-plus users follows a Business page on the platform.

Now, with Facebook’s launches of Facebook Shops, Instagram Checkout, and Live Shopping in the last 12 months, many of the tiny remaining friction points between discovering and buying products on social media platforms have been eliminated.

In this blog post, I’ll highlight the newest free features that brands can use to make sales directly from Instagram’s or Facebook’s platform, as well as any brand requirements for using them.

Click here to access a month's worth of Instagram tips & free templates.

3 New Instagram Shopping Tools to Know About

1. Facebook Shops

Technically, this tool was launched by Facebook, which owns Instagram. However, your Instagram followers won’t need a Facebook account to make purchases with this feature.

Facebook Shops, launched in May, enables brands to create online stores that link directly to a brand’s Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, or Facebook Business Page.

When creating a free Shop, brands can upload bulk or individual product listings with photos, prices, and descriptions; change the store’s button colors and text to make it consistent with their brand; and choose to have visitors buy products directly from the shop or through an integration with an ecommerce website they already use.

Facebook Shops can be created on Facebook Commerce Manager. To get started, you’ll need admin privileges to the Instagram Business or Facebook Business account you’ll be linking the Shop to — as well as admin privileges for your brand’s Facebook catalog.

Once a Shop is created, it can be linked directly to your Instagram Business profile. When this is done, an icon that says “View shop” will appear on your mobile profile under your bio. At this point, you can access Facebook Shops on desktop from Facebook Business profiles, but not from Instagram or WhatsApp desktop sites.

Here’s what the Shop experience looks like when an Instagram app user visits the account of Ink Meets Paper, a printing company which offers a Facebook Shop:

Ink meets paper facebook shop link on instagrqam bioink meets paper facebook and instagram shop

Facebook Shops, which is free to all businesses that fulfill the business page requirements noted above, could be a great option for small or medium-sized businesses that are interested in ecommerce but don’t have the time or bandwidth to create and promote a full ecommerce site around their brand.

To learn more about how Facebook Shops works and the background of why Facebook launched it, check out this post.

2. Instagram Checkout

For brands that want to sell a few select products on Instagram, or don’t have time to create a Facebook Business Page or catalog to open a Shop, Instagram also now offers an in-app Checkout experience that links to Instagram Shoppable posts.

Before 2020, several brands were already using Shoppable posts. These posts, which often highlighted an image of a product or experience, allowed users to tap the content to view it in an online catalog outside of the platform.

Instagram shoppable post

But, in March, Instagram launched a Checkout feature that allowed Shoppable purchases to happen directly in the app.

In an announcement, Instagram explained that it launched in-app Checkout to keep users on the platform when they were inspired to make a purchase.

Instagram also adds, “Businesses can truly leverage the full ecosystem of Instagram Shopping features to build experiences that drive awareness and transactions all in one place.

Currently, Checkout is free to brands through until at least 2021. However, there might be selling fees for businesses after that.

“We also want to help reduce the cost of doing business during this tough economic time, so we’re waiving selling fees for businesses that use Checkout on Instagram through the end of the year,” Instagram’s post said.

Now, when users click on a Shoppable post that links to the Checkout feature for the first time, they’ll be asked to give their name, billing information, and shipping address and can then click “Place Order” directly on Instagram. To further eliminate friction, users can set the app to remember purchasing information so they don’t need to submit it each time they place orders.

Instagram shopping post and store

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At this point, you might be wondering, “How is this different from Facebook Shops?”

Both tools similarly allow consumers to make purchases directly on Instagram. However, a Shop is a mini-online store where you can purchase one of many products listed by one brand. Meanwhile, Checkout allows consumers to buy a product they happen to see on an Instagram Shoppable post within their feed or a brand’s profile page.

Additionally, to use the Checkout feature, you’ll need to fulfill the same requirements as Facebook Shops, plus approval for Instagram Shopping.

Checkout might be a good option for your brand if you want to dabble in internet sales but don’t want to monitor how multiple products are selling in a wider shop. With Checkout, you can choose to sell one or two products within a few posts, and monitor your content for engagements and sales metrics.

3. Instagram and Facebook Live Shopping

While the features above integrate with Instagram and Facebook to allow audiences to buy products from posts or pre-published stories, Facebook has also unveiled live shopping features for both of its platforms.

Instagram Live Shopping

Aside from adding Checkout to posts within a feed, Instagram Live Shopping, the first live shopping feature launched by a Facebook-owned brand, brings a similar purchasing experience to live content streamed on the app.

Essentially, Instagram Live Shopping lets brands or Instagram influencers present a small CTA for a product at the bottom of an Instagram Live stream. Below is an example where an influencer discusses a product live as its Checkout CTA is highlighted at the bottom of the screen:

Instagram live shopping content

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When an Instagram Live viewer sees the Checkout CTA and clicks “Add to Bag,” they can either save the order for later if they want to continue watching the stream, or they can purchase the product immediately via Checkout.

If a user places a product in their Instagram Bag, they can find it by going to the app’s Explore tab and tapping “Shop” in the top navigation. Fram the  Shop page, they can then tap the bag icon in the upper right corner to see carted products:

Instagram shopping tab of app

Because users who purchase items via Instagram Live Shopping will be directed to Instagram Checkout to finalize the purchase, brands will need to gain access to Instagram Checkout before using Live Shopping.

Facebook Live Shopping

If your audience is primarily on Facebook, you can also leverage Facebook’s new live shopping feature — which was unveiled in spring of 2021. 

Facebook Live Shopping feature

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Like Instagram Live Shopping, this feature allows audiences viewing Facebook Live streams to see related products pop up. From there, the user can click the pop-up to buy those products while still watching Facebook Live videos. 

The process of promoting your products during a Facebook Live stream is similar to promoting in Instagram:

  • First, you’ll need to start a Facebook Shop for audiences to buy seamlessly through Facebook Live. 
  • Once your shop is all set, go to create a Live video for your Facebook account and click the Live Shopping tab, and toggle on “Enable Live Shopping.”
  • Once you’re live with shopping enabled, you can click or tap a button that says “Products from Shop” and select the products you’d like to feature as you’re recording. 

For those getting used to Facebook or Instagram Live Shopping, Facebook offers a helpful list of best practices for streaming on its website. These tips include rehearsing with a private live event, repeating key information about the products, saving the live feed to your timeline, and following up with people who shared comments on your feed after you’ve recorded.

What to Keep in Mind When Selling Products on Instagram

At this point, you might be ready to sell your brand’s products using Instagram’s in-app shopping features. However, as you would with any new marketing or selling technique, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind:

Your content strategy is still key.

While it might sound tempting to blast your followers with posts filled with product shots or basic promotional messaging, and hope that users click the Checkout button immediately, some audiences might not respond well to content that feels like a basic advertisement.

Remember, social media users see ads with product shots and bland descriptions daily. If your content doesn’t stand out above all the other promotional posts out there, your audiences might disengage from you, even if they like your brand.

Rather than posting basic images or videos of products linked to Checkout, consider going a step further. For example, you could air a live stream tutorial where an influencer discusses your product, or publish user-generated content such as customer testimonials. These types of content will show audiences more valuable details than a basic product shot, while also presenting how real people benefit your product. This could persuade them to click and buy your items much faster.

You’ll want to pick the right feature for your company.

While Shops will allow customers to buy a bunch of different products from you all at once, Checkout and Instagram Live Shopping allow you to zone in on specific items or services through your content. While Facebook Shops might be great for brands that can deliver multiple products at once and handle potential high demand, Checkout and Live Shopping could be beneficial for smaller businesses that are more comfortable highlighting one standalone product at a time.

Additionally, if you have a killer supply chain, tons of products to sell, and no time to make content, a Facebook Shop could help you move your inventory. Meanwhile, if you have a great content team, but only have a few key products to sell, you might want to create solid product marketing content paired with Instagram Checkout.

You’ll want to monitor your metrics, including revenue.

Although brands don’t need to pay for Facebook Shops, Checkout, or Live Shopping, time and effort will still go into creating and maintaining a Shop or content that highlights items sold in Checkout. Because of this, you’ll want to monitor the money and engagement-related metrics of each strategy you take on. While these metrics can help you learn what to do, and what not to do, they can also help you determine if these features are worth your team’s time.

If you’re considering an ecommerce strategy on Instagram or another online platform and don’t know where to start in your planning, bookmark our Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce. If you’re interested in learning how other brands shifted to ecommerce in 2020, check out this piece.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published December 2020, but was updated in June 2021 to add new information about Facebook and Instagram features.

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13 of the Most (& Least) Successful Brand Extensions to Inspire Your Own

I was in awe of Hailee Steinfeld’s performance after watching her in The Edge of Seventeen. Her performance was so good that it earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

But what amazes me about Steinfeld isn’t her acting prowess. It’s that she’s also just as accomplished as a singer. Steinfeld has collaborated with some of the most famous musicians like Zedd, Florida Georgia Line, and Alesso to produce three hit songs that have all reached the Billboard Hot 100 record chart.

Although Steinfeld is mainly known for her acting chops, her singing abilities bolster her esteem as a performer and stretch her brand to more audiences and fans. And just like her venture into music, companies often extend their brand to develop new products in industries where they don’t have any market share.

These initiatives are called brand extensions, and they allow companies to leverage their brand awareness and equity to create more revenue streams.

In this article, you’ll learn more about what a brand extension is and see examples of extension ideas that could inspire you.

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What is a brand extension?

Brand extension is a marketing strategy that involves a company using its well-established brand name or image to introduce a new product or product categories to its customer base.

This strategy works best when the new product category is related to its parent category and is something consumers and customers want.

Many companies use brand extensions because it allows them to leverage their parent brand’s brand awareness and authority to reach new demographics and open up new sales channels.

One company that does brand extensions well is Apple.

Although Apple started as a technology company that makes only computers (Macs), it soon extended its product line to include music players (iPods), mobile devices (iPhones), and tech accessories (Apple Watch and Earpods). Even though all these new products are different, the extension works because Apple didn’t drift too far from its parent product category. Instead, it leveraged its brand name to make penetrating the market a success.

What are the types of brand extensions?

Depending on the type of customers you have and what you want to achieve as a brand, you need to decide which brand extension strategy is right for your company.

Here are five different extension strategies that could work for you.

Line Extension

A line extension is when a parent brand launches a new product line in a category already familiar with its customers. With a line extension, brands don’t have to create new categories.

An excellent example of a line extension is when soft drink companies introduce new flavors to their existing drink lineup. Other examples could include introducing new scents, sizes, and colors to a product line.

Complementary Product Extension

Another way an established brand can extend itself is by creating complementary products for its main products.

For example, Nike, a sports brand, creates various equipment, wears, and other sport-related products that complement each other. We’ve also seen toothpaste companies use this type of extension for their original brand by adding toothbrushes and other oral care products as new categories.

Customer Base Extension

A company can create a branding extension for itself by launching different product categories for a single demographic.

Procter & Gamble (P&G), for example, does this well with the Pampers brand. Although P&G specializes in various products, the Pampers line focuses on making products like diapers and wipes for babies.

Company Authority Extension

Companies with high levels of authority in their sector can leverage this authority to create new products.

For instance, Samsung has a huge brand name in the technology space that allows them to launch different products in related categories with a measure of success. And because of its brand image, most consumers wouldn’t mind using a new product, whether it’s an air conditioner or a mobile phone.

Brand Lifestyle Extension

Who would have thought a tequila line from an energy company would sell out within a few hours? Well, Tesla did it. And it was primarily due to the personality and lifestyle of its CEO, Elon Musk.

However, Elon and Tesla are not the only ones to use a celebrity’s lifestyle to extend an existing brand. Other instances include Adidas/Kanye West’s Yeezy lineup and Fenty (a brand under LVMH) with Rihanna.

What separates the best brand extensions from the worst?

Historically, the most successful brand extensions are the ones that closely tie to the company’s core brand or flagship product, like Gerber’s baby clothes and Dole’s frozen fruit bars. By entering tangential markets that can preserve their brand’s unique associations and perceived quality, companies can launch new products that consumers intuitively understand the benefits of, even though they’ve never seen them on a shelf.

On the flip side, a company can also exploit its brand and, in turn, ruin it.

Developing a new product in a market that isn’t closely tied to your flagship product or core brand, like what Zippo did with its women’s perfume, could cause some problems.

It could result in undesirable associations to your brand and weaken its existing associations and hurt your established products’ perceived quality.

So whether you’re a SaaS company or a consumer brand thinking about extending your product line, check out our list of the most and least successful brand extensions to help inspire your own.

Examples of Good Brand Extensions

1. Reese’s Puffs Cereal

Reese's Brand Extension -- Cereal

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Reese’s Puffs was my favorite cereal growing up, so I might be a little biased here. But with all the chocolate-flavored cereal around in the mid-90s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup’s entrance into the cereal market was smart and natural.

Today, with some ad campaigns highlighting how kids can eat their favorite candy for breakfast, Reese’s Puffs has helped General Mills, its conglomerate, capture the second-biggest slice of the cold cereal market share.

2. Food Network’s Kitchen Items

Food Network Kitchen Items Brand Extension

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With an audience of over 13 million people, Food Network remains one of the world’s biggest TV channels.

Considering that many people were interested in what it does, Food Network saw an opportunity to extend its brand by partnering with Kohl’s Corporation to launch its kitchen and cookware products.

The partnership was a success because Food Network served a specific audience with what they needed.

3.Gillette’s Razors & Shaving Supplies

Gilletes Razors BRand ExtensionImage Source

Gillette’s extension into making shaving products alongside its safety razor blades was a smart move. Why? It’s hard to imagine someone shaving without using shaving cream, foam, or gel?

It was almost a necessity for Gillette to produce this complementary good for its flagship product.

4. Star Wars Action Figures

Star Wars Action Figure Brand ExtensionImage Source

Although Star Wars was popular among adults when the movie was first released in 1977, many children didn’t like it as much.

So how did the franchise become popular today? The Star Wars brand extended into the toy market. With action figures from characters in the movies, Star Wars was able to attract a new audience, build brand awareness and make a ton of sales in the process.

5. Colgate’s Toothbrush

Colgate Brand ExtensionImage Source

Just like Gillette’s razors and shaving products, Colgate’s toothpaste and toothbrush are complementary goods. But unlike the former example, you literally need a toothbrush to use toothpaste. Otherwise, you can’t brush your teeth.

In my opinion, Colgate’s decision to enter the toothbrush market was a necessity and one of its best moves, helping it secure the third-largest slice of the oral care market.

6. Honda’s Lawn Mowers

Honda Lawn Mower Image Source

Honda’s line of lawnmowers might not elicit the most enjoyable memories of my childhood. Still, its entrance and success in a saturated market speak volumes for a company primarily known for selling cars.

By leveraging its expertise in small motors to enter the lawn mower market in 1978, it now boasts the seventh-largest slice of market share in the global lawn mower industry.

7. Sunkist’s Vitamin C Tablets

Sunkist Brand Extension

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Featuring orange juice as its flagship product, Sunkist’s brand has associations with oranges, health, and energy. Sunkist produced vitamin C tablets that spawned an entire arm of business dedicated to vitamins and supplements to both bolster and leverage this association simultaneously.

Examples of Unsuccessful Brand Extensions

Not every brand extension can be a hit. Here are a few examples of brands that have made brand extension mistakes — and the lessons you can learn from them.

8. Cadbury’s Instant Mashed Potatoes

Cadbury Brand ExtensionImage Source

Cadbury is known for making high-end chocolate and candy. When it started producing low-end food products, like instant mashed potatoes, it’s not surprising to learn that its association with the finest chocolates weakened.

Smash, its instant mashed potato brand, actually reached mainstream success, but it was at the expense of lowering its flagship product’s perceived quality. Cadbury eventually sold Smash in 1986, over 20 years after introducing its instant mashed potatoes to the world.

9. Levi’s Tailored Classics

Levis Brand ExtensionImage Source

When Levi’s introduced Tailored Classics in the early 1980s, it already owned a large share of its target market, so it wanted to enter some new markets to sustain its high growth rate.

One of these markets was men’s suits, but since its brand was heavily associated with a casual, rugged, and outdoorsy lifestyle, Levi’s new product line conflicted with its core identity and failed to catch on.

Consumers trusted Levi’s to produce durable clothing that could endure the wrath of mother nature, but, for that very reason, they didn’t trust them to deliver high-end tailored suits.

10. Pillsbury’s Frozen Microwave Popcorn

PillsBury Brand ExtensionImage Source

Even though Pillsbury is known for producing foodstuffs, its frozen microwave popcorn couldn’t compete with Orville Redenbacher or General Mills’ Pop Secret because its product positioning of being “frozen for freshness” didn’t offer enough value. Sure, sticking your popcorn in the freezer is convenient (I guess), but that benefit pales in comparison to enjoying a better-tasting popcorn.

11. Samsonite’s Outerwear

Samsonite Brand Extension

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While Samsonite’s outwear is more fashionable than Levi’s Tailored Classics, it still suffers from the same problem as Levi’s failed product line the brand extension doesn’t align with Samsonite’s core identity.

Samsonite is known for making high-end luggage, suitcases, and business bags. So unless it thinks its flagship product’s elegant traits can transfer to a completely unrelated product line, its venture into the clothing industry could diminish its brand equity. This is most likely the reason Samsonite doesn’t list outerwear on its website anymore.

12. Arm & Hammer’s Underarm Deodorant Spray

Arm n Hammer Brand Extension

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Arm & Hammer has successfully extended its brand from an odor-neutralizing baking soda to laundry detergent, carpet deodorizer, and even cat litter. But one product line that isn’t the best fit for its brand is an underarm deodorant spray. Applying a product that shares an ingredient with heavy-duty cleaning supplies to such a sensitive part of the body doesn’t jive well with consumers.

13. Colgate Kitchen Entrees

Colgate Brand Extension

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Although Colgate did well by extending its brand and creating different oral care products, it failed to enter the food space.

This brand extension was a failure mainly because selling frozen food was in sharp contrast with Colgate’s brand identity. Since its audience already associated the brand name with dental care, it was hard for them to see the company differently.

Grow Your Brand

While a brand extension has its benefits, you also need to know that extending your brand into unchartered waters would also come with challenges.

So before you implement any extension strategy for your business, ensure it’s in line with what your ideal consumer wants.

Does it make any logical sense to start marketing a new product to my customers? What benefit would a consumer derive from this new brand or product? Have I done enough research to know how a brand extension would affect my original brand?

Once you answer those questions, then you can start thinking about effective ways to grow your brand.

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The 4 Go-To Social Media Video Platforms & How to Engage Their Audiences [New Data]

Last week, HubSpot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report reveals that video is the top content marketing strategy used by brands while social media is ranked as the top marketing channel.

With data like that above — and all the growing social media video platforms out there — it’s become obvious that social media marketing and video content go hand in hand.

While creating great social media videos for your company can be an incredibly effective marketing tactic, each social media content strategy shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. To ensure that your videos are seen and spread quality brand awareness, you’ll need to ensure you’re making the right videos for the right audiences on the right platforms.

With new video publishing options appearing on social platforms regularly, determining where your content will live is part of the content marketing battle.

To help you figure out where to publish your video content — and which types of videos to post — we surveyed 300+ consumers to find out where they most commonly watch videos on social media.

Below, we’ll reveal the results and a few expert tips for building the best social media video-sharing strategy for 2021 — including one from an expert at Wistia.

Download Now: State of Marketing in 2021 Report

Where are Consumers Watching Social Media Videos?

In recent years, Gen-Z-targeting platforms like TikTok and Instagram have been on the rise. But if you think that everyone’s primarily watching video on these platforms, you might be surprised by what our poll found.

When I asked consumers “On which social media platform do you most commonly watch videos?”, 35% of respondents said YouTube.

Youtube, Facebook, and TikTok are the go-to social media video platforms for consumers

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While it’s not surprising that YouTube or Facebook, some of the world’s biggest online platforms, are the preferred video viewing sites, only 8% of respondents said they primarily watch videos on Instagram — one of the pioneers of Stories and live video.

Another surprising find was that 20% of respondents — or 1 in 5 people — primarily use TikTok (the youngest social network on the list) for video viewing. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to shift your whole strategy to TikTok, it does show that the platform could continue to have a promising future for content marketers.

If this data has you worried that you’re publishing videos on the wrong platforms,  take a breath. Remember that this is just one informal consumer survey. Had we polled a specific age group, people from a specific industry, or consumers from different regions, the results might have swayed to other platforms — like LinkedIn or Twitter. 

However, even though this is just one small survey, it does remind us that a mix of older and newer platforms, like YouTube and TikTok, are the go-to video platforms for vast audiences. 

Now that we’ve gotten an idea of where consumers are primarily watching social media videos, we’ll walk you through a few tips for sharing the best videos for different social media audiences.

Tips for Sharing Social Media Videos

1. For most platforms, zone in on snackable content.

The world is becoming more fast-paced every day. While many people are watching social media videos in their spare time, some are watching them between meetings, while in line at the store, or on public transit. Even if people do have time to watch hours of video, there’s so much out there that they’ll want to scroll to more content almost immediately after their video starts.

That’s why one social media video strategy to focus on in 2021 is mastering the art of “snackable” or super short-form content.

“Using snackable videos on social can actually drive more engagement than static images,” says Meisha Bochicchio, Content Marketing Manager at Wistia. “A recent study found that 60% of marketers saw more clicks with video posts compared with static images.”

When it comes to creating effective snackable content, Bochicchio says, “First things first, keep in mind that most social media platforms will automatically start playing video content as viewers scroll. So, make sure your videos are autoplay-friendly. Keep them short and put your key messaging in the first few seconds. For example, take a look at this video from Wistia announcing their State of Video Report.”

“Remember that most people won’t hear your audio, so make sure your videos are also silent-friendly,”Bochicchio advises. “Consider text overlays, or upload captions directly on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 

In the video example below, Wistia marks the launch of their series “Show Business” with a captioned video that allows viewers to get key information without any sound.

To learn more about this strategy, check out this post on snackable content, or this post that highlights the latest short-form video trends.

2. Test different video formats, too.

While snackable content is a great tactic to harness in 2021, you can still publish longer videos, as long as they’re engaging and valuable to your audience.

For example, while people might not want to watch a two-hour commercial, they could watch a longer live video Q&A, an interview with a thought leader, or a video that tells a longer, but entertaining story.

Here’s a great example of a TV-episode-length, Clio-winning video created by Pepsi:

While you can certainly test longer-form video, you can also test out other formats, such as live streams, interactive videos, and shopping videos on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

As new video formats emerge, it can be helpful to determine if they might work for your brand and design a test around them.

Be sure you identify and track the right success metrics. For example, if you’re testing a longer video, look at its views and dropoff rate to see how long viewers stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you try a more interactive approach like a live stream or Q&A you can also take note of comments, engagements, and shares on the content while you’re live.

3. Meet your video audiences where they are.

As with any social media strategy, some content will perform better on some social media platforms rather than others. While snackable, consumer-facing content might perform well with YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok’s large consumer audiences, a B2B marketing video or a Q&A with a corporate thought leader might perform better on a professional-facing network like LinkedIn.

Luckily, to create a great marketing strategy, you don’t (and shouldn’t have to) place your videos on every single social media platform. However, you should research the demographics of each major network, identify which audiences might engage most with your content, and start publishing videos where it makes the most sense for your brand and goals.

Then, continue to keep an eye on platforms you’ve ruled out in case they continue to evolve and provide your brand more audience opportunities in the future.

4. Don’t always lean on repurposed content.

When I was a startup marketer, I loved to repurpose content whenever it was possible. And, back then, when social media platforms were less evolved, this strategy would work.

Today, it can still be beneficial for brands to repurpose some video content for different platforms when they have similar audiences and features. This can also be a great way to test whether your content strategy for one platform will work with one audience.

However, because knowing your social media audience is more important than ever, you might want to consider having a slightly different video strategy for your most important video platforms. While there will be times where you can easily repurpose content to save time or bandwidth, some platforms like TikTok and Instagram are evolving with algorithms that could deprioritize your content if it has a watermark from another network.

5. Embrace influencers — and customers.

Even if you’ve done all of your research and churn out videos daily, it can still be incredibly hard to post a viral piece of content that grows your audience.

Luckily, there are experts on every social media platform who know how to create videos. And, some of them will even create videos for you — and then share them with their audiences.

That’s why one great growth strategy can involve reaching out to influencers or thought leaders with expertise in your industry and either featuring them in your videos or getting them to endorse your brand in their content.

If you can’t afford to have an influencer help boost your video strategy, you can also look towards happy consumers. With this strategy, you can encourage customers to share a video about their experience with your brand on social media, or you can create a video filled with multiple pieces of user-generated content from happy customers.

Because today’s consumers crave authenticity from brands, user-generated content not only can provide you with free video content but can also spread brand awareness to prospects or people researching you on social media.

Navigating Social Media Content

More than ever, social media and content marketing are always evolving. As a marketer, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and data to better inform your strategies — whether you’re investing in video or other tactics.

To learn more about the latest marketing trends, download our free 2021 State of Marketing Report below.

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Your Brief Guide to Using Goal Seek in Excel

Successful marketers make informed decisions quickly using a combination of gut instincts and data analysis. They know the end goal, and figure out what it takes to get there.

One way to fill in those gaps is by using Goal Seek in Excel. The function is helpful when you know your desired result, but you’re not sure how to reach it.

Maybe you want to improve your conversion rate to get more qualified leads but don’t know how many people you need to attract. Or let’s say your marketing team is aiming for an audacious revenue goal and you want to know how many customers you have to bring in with an upcoming campaign. If you’re running a promotion, you likely need to figure out what discount to apply so you don’t wind up with a loss.

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Goal Seek is the answer. Understanding how to apply it to your marketing or sales efforts can inform your strategy by letting you calculate the numbers required to achieve your goals.

This post will explain how to use Goal Seek so you can start planning for your next campaign or making projections for the upcoming quarter.

What is Goal Seek in Excel?

Goal Seek is a powerful Excel function for conducting a what-if analysis. Also known as a sensitivity analysis, it helps you understand what can happen when you change one or more variables. Essentially, it’s a way to conduct a reverse calculation within an Excel spreadsheet.

Imagine you’re creating a marketing strategy for the next six months. You can use the Goal Seek Excel function to figure out the following unknowns.

  • What percentage of month-over-month growth do you need to double your reach by the end of the year?
  • How much can you spend on freelance design work without exceeding your outsourcing budget?
  • How much revenue do you need to bring in to break even on (and profit from) your upcoming email marketing campaign?

Finding answers to these questions can prevent unexpected outcomes and missed goals. Instead of wondering “what-if” when building a strategy, you can cut out uncertainty and give yourself a roadmap for success.

Before you finalize any plans, let’s walk through the steps to conduct an analysis.

How To Use Goal Seek In Excel

Setting up a Goal Seek calculation is simple once your data is organized.

In the following example, I want to evaluate the percentage of customers coming in through various marketing channels. The goal is to bring in 50% of customers through marketing efforts by the end of the year.

I first populate the table using the average month-over-month (MoM) growth to see the projections for June to December. I know I have an email campaign planned for the beginning of December, and I want to see how many customers I’d have to bring in to reach my 50% goal.

Step 1: Select the cell with the output you want to change (i.e., % of customers from marketing).

Step 2: Under the Data tab, select What-If Analysis, then Goal Seek.

How to use goal seekImage source

Step 3: A pop-up window will appear. Make sure the cell from Step 1 appears in Set cell.

Step 4: Write your desired value in To value.

Step 5: In the By changing cell box, select the cell you want to change to reach your desired outcome.

How to calculate using goal seekImage source

Step 6: Click OK to see the Goal Seek calculation. The new number will appear in the cell from Step 5, not in the pop-up box.

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Step 7: If all looks good and you want to keep the calculation, click OK again.

Using Goal Seek, I can tell that if my MoM growth stays the same, I need to attract at least 16 customers through my December email campaign. Yes, this is a simple example. But you can expand it to much more complicated efforts, like projecting sales needed to meet revenue goals or calculating how much net income you’ll earn from a campaign.

Goal Seek Analysis In Excel

Let’s look at another example of Goal Seek analysis. I want to bring in 130 new customers, but I don’t know how many visits I’ll need to reach my goal. Before doing the Goal Seek analysis, I organize my data to find the average MoM visit-to-customer percentage.

Step 1: Select the cell with the output you want to change (In this case, the customer goal).

Step 2: Under the Data tab, select What-If Analysis, then Goal Seek.

Step 3: In the pop-up window, make sure the cell from Step 1 appears in Set cell.

analysis in goal seekImage source

Step 4: Type the number you want to hit into To value (My goal is 130 customers).

How to change a cell boxImage source

Step 5: Select the cell you want to change in the By changing cell box (Mine is for Projected Visits).

Step 6: Click OK to see the Goal Seek analysis. (Now, I know that in order to get 130 customers, I need to attract 5055 visits).

An example of goal seek statusImage source

Once you fill in the missing variable using Goal Seek, you can figure out other variables. For instance, I found that with 5055 visits, I would need 910 leads to reach my desired number of customers. Having these numbers can also help me judge if the marketing and sales efforts for the month are on track to meet the goal.

Goal Seek Function In Excel

In business, uncertainty can spell the downfall of even the most thoughtful strategy. But you can take control of the variables that seem out of your control with the Goal Seek function.

Being proactive and judging the business impact of a marketing campaign or new sales effort can not only gain you respect within your company, but it can help you meet, and even exceed your goals. You’ll be ready when the unexpected happens. And you’ll know how to make informed decisions or tweak the strategy with your new what-if analysis skills.

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How to Grow Your YouTube Channel [New Data]

Did you know that YouTube currently has 2 billion active users a month and is projected to grow to almost 3 billion active users by 2025?

It’s one of the fastest-growing and most popular social networks today. Plus, it helps people grow their businesses.

In fact, the number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube grew more than 40% y/y, the number of channels earning five figures per year on YouTube grew more than 50% y/y, and the number of channels with more than one million subscribers grew by more than 65% y/y.

Now, all that being said, you might be wondering, “How do I grow my YouTube channel so I can drive more traffic to my website and revenue to my business?”

To help marketers and business owners answer this question, we asked 300 consumers why they most commonly subscribe to YouTube channels.

After looking into the data, we’ll dive into our findings to help you better design effective strategies toward connecting with your audience on YouTube.

Let’s get started.

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Why Do Consumers Subscribe to YouTube Channels

30% of respondents said they most commonly subscribe to YouTube channels because the channel publishes how-tos or educational content about their career or industry.

21% of respondents subscribe to channels because the channel publishes how-tos or educational content about their hobbies.

And 17% of respondents said they subscribe to YouTube channels because they post funny or entertaining videos.

To review the rest of the answers, see the graphic below:

Infographic on why people subscribe to YouTube channels.

Data Source

So, now that we know why people are subscribing to YouTube channels, let’s dive into how you can use this information to grow your channel.

1. Create educational content about your audience’s career.

As the survey said, the main reason that consumers subscribe to YouTube channels is that they post educational content about their careers.

Think about it. The reason people go online is to find an answer to a question they want (or to be entertained, but we’ll get to that later).

So, a great way to grow your channel is to publish the topics that your audience wants to see. For example, at HubSpot, we publish educational videos on YouTube about marketing, sales, service, and general business content.

All these videos help our audience learn and develop in their careers. Of course, we’d like people to use our software to do that, but you’ll get value out of the video whether you’re a HubSpot customer or not.

2. Publish educational content about your audience’s hobbies.

Now, let’s say that your business isn’t exactly geared toward your audience’s career. What do you post then?

Well, according to the survey, you can post content about your audience’s hobbies. Let’s say that you’re a landscaping company. On your website, you could post content about gardening and really target people who garden as a hobby. Then, there’s a clear conversion path to using your services.

However, while you’d like people to convert and become customers, your videos should give value away for free and educate your audience. The more they see you as an expert in the industry and the go-to people, the more likely they will be to convert later on.

3. Create interesting, dynamic, interactive videos.

The third most popular reason that people subscribed to YouTube channels was because the videos were entertaining or funny.

If you’re a creator who wants to post fun, interesting, entertaining videos, you can grow your YouTube channel by thinking about an audience who enjoys watching certain entertainment.

For example, let’s say you have a creator channel and you mostly post lifestyle videos. To make those interesting and entertaining, you need to know what your audience likes and dislikes. That brings me to the next strategy.

4. Know your audience.

The best way to grow your YouTube channel is to know what your audience likes and wants to see. Do they want to see educational content about their career? Or perhaps they’re just looking to unwind and watch people clean houses because it’s satisfying and entertaining.

Regardless, think about the reasons from our survey that will resonate with your audience the most, and then lean into those ideas.

5. Reformat well-performing content.

A great way to focus on growing your YouTube channel is to reformat content that has already performed well for you. That might mean turning your most popular blog post into a video.

You’ll need to rework the information and film a video about that topic, but you’re already starting out ahead. You know that your audience likes that content and wants to see it.

Think about your best-performing content from any content marketing channel and reformat it to video.

6. Optimize your content.

Now, of course, we can’t get through a content marketing discussion without talking about SEO. But, how do you optimize your YouTube videos?

To do this, you’ll want to include your target keywords in your titles and descriptions. Then, make sure you mention those keywords in your video.

The YouTube algorithm will use those context clues to understand what your video is about. And then if you get engagement, it will rank higher in the search results.

You might be wondering, “How do I grow my YouTube channel fast? And how long will it take to grow my YouTube channel?”

According to data, it takes an average of 22 months for a channel to reach 1,000 subscribers. Yet, if you don’t optimize your videos and have less than 1,000 subscribers, then you’ll get less than 10% of the total views on YouTube. That’s why it’s so important to grow your channel and subscriber list.

7. Find untapped keywords.

Another strategy you might use to grow your YouTube channel quickly is to find untapped keywords. You can look at related searches of a topic on YouTube or Google, and then look at those related searches in a keyword tool.

Which keywords get a lot of searches, but have low competition? Those are the keywords you’ll want to target.

8. Optimize for watch time.

Just like with any search engine, YouTube wants people on YouTube. So one of the main factors the site considers for ranking is watch time.

Whenever you post videos, it’s important to analyze how long people are watching your videos. According to research from Backlinko, longer videos tend to outrank short videos. And it makes sense. The longer your videos, the longer your watch time can be.

But, how can you make sure people get past the first few seconds of your video? A great way to do this is to cut extraneous content from your intro. In the first few seconds, a viewer should know what they’ll learn and what they’ll get out of watching your video.

If you’ve properly targeted your audience with the right content, that means they’ll end up watching your long videos because you’ve captured their attention.

Growing your audience on YouTube is a great way to attract audiences to your company. And having more than 1,000 subscribers is imperative for ranking higher in search results. So, that means you need to post content that your audience wants to see and is optimized so it shows up in the search results.

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Author: Rebecca Riserbato

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