4 Social Media Calendar Tools to Plan All of Your Content [Template]

What do cross-country road trips, wedding speeches, and social media marketing have in common?

You could improvise all three, but it’s better to have a plan for what direction you’re heading — especially when developing your social media content strategy.

By now, most marketers recognize that social media plays an integral role in an effective inbound marketing strategy. And with so many social networks to manage and publish on, it’s important to stay organized and have a plan for when and what you’re going to share on these platforms.Manage and plan your social media posts with the help of this free calendar  template.

In this post, we’ve rounded up some of the most helpful tools and templates for building out an effective social media content plan. Check them out below.

The Benefits of Using a Social Media Content Calendar

We’re all busy. And when we’re busy without a plan in place for the tasks we have to get done, things inevitably slip through the cracks. Social media content is no exception.

Just like with blogging, a successful social media strategy requires regular publishing and engaging with followers to see positive results — whether that be in terms of SEO, brand recognition, lead generation, or all three.

So, if you’re not already using a social media content calendar, hear me out:

  1. Calendars help you get organized to avoid the dreaded scramble when things come up. With a social media calendar, marketers can plan out posts for entire weeks or months in advance, which frees up working hours to strategize for the future — and to dash off any posts about breaking news in your industry. Otherwise, you’ll spend valuable time each day searching the internet for that day’s content to share, which is a known productivity killer.
  2. A calendar helps you plan for each social network to customize posts instead of spamming all platforms with the same message. Social media marketers should take the time to craft custom messages for each network, and doing this in advance will save time throughout the week and ensure you’re being thoughtful and intentional when you do post.
  3. Calendars can help you track performance and plan for future posts. Without a calendar, social media marketers are publishing content into the void and are unable to track big-picture and past performance. With a calendar, marketers can look back and analyze which content performed best so they can adjust their strategy accordingly.
  4. With the help of a calendar, marketers can plan for holidays and observance days, such as National Cat Day, when they can tailor their content and engage with a wider audience.
  5. Social media calendars improve efficiency. According to Content Marketing Institute, 72% of B2B marketers attribute the success (which has increased annually) of their content to the development of a formal content strategy.

Now that you understand the merits of having a social media content calendar in place, check out our list of top tools to stay organized and on top of your game.

4 Social Media Content Calendar Tools to Plan Your Messaging

1. Trello

Trello is another organizational tool that’s highly effective for team collaboration. More specifically, social media managers can use Trello’s flexible assignment “cards” and customizable “boards” and “lists” to map out to-do lists, manage a content calendar, plan a campaign, and house ideas from a brainstorm.

Here’s an example of a Trello board a social media marketing team might use to plan posts for the upcoming week:

Social media calendar created on Trello

But you’re not limited to just one structure: Users can customize boards according to their needs. For example, a team could create a board to organize social media posts for a given week, on a specific platform, or post ideas around a topic, such as a campaign or awareness day.

Trello cards allow for a ton of customization as well. Here’s a fictitious social media editorial calendar card with Twitter copy options around a piece of blog content. Note that you can track progress toward completing a checklist, which could be useful for social media marketers looking to track campaign progress.

trello_licecap.gif

Additionally, Trello cards can be assigned to different team members, marked with due dates, and commented on. Users can even customize the labels (as in the image below) with different publication statuses so the entire team can see the progress of their social media posts and when they’re due on the calendar. The labels could also indicate different social networks that content is being published on.

trello-calendar-status.jpg

Source: BlueGlass

Trello also offers a full calendar view (shown below) which makes it easy to visualize what content is going out, and when.

Social media calendar ideas organized on a Trello calendar

Source: BlueGlass

2. Microsoft Excel

Marketers might already use Excel for different types of reports and data analysis in their roles, but it’s a highly useful tool for social media content calendar organization, too. Excel can be customized according to whatever priorities or metrics a team is focused on, so it’s a great tool for planning ahead.

The good news? We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you by creating a free, downloadable social media content calendar template using Microsoft Excel. Marketers can use this template to easily plan out individual social media posts — monthly or annually — while keeping an eye on bigger picture events, holidays, publications, and partnerships.

For more on how to use the templates, check out this in-depth guide from my colleague Lindsay Kolowich.

Social media calendar ideas organized on an Excel spreadsheet

Use the Monthly Planning Calendar Tab above to get a bird’s-eye view of what’s coming down their content pipeline in a given month.

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In the Content Repository tab, users can record the content they’re publishing on this tab to keep track of which pieces have been promoted and to easily recall older content that can be re-promoted on social media.

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On the Social Network Update tabs, users can draft and plan out social media posts in advance. These tabs are for organizational purposes, and the content of the posts themselves must be uploaded into a social media publisher.

This free resource can be used to draft social media posts, or it can be bulk-uploaded into a publishing app to maximize efficiency. (HubSpot customers: You can use this spreadsheet to organize content and upload it directly into Social Inbox. For instructions on how to do so, check out the template’s cover sheet here.)

3. Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app that marketers can use to keep track of all the moving parts that comprise a social media campaign.

The tool also features yearly, monthly, weekly, and hourly logs, which make it easy to keep track of when you’re publishing content on social media, when you’re producing blog content, and other team-wide priorities. (Evernote offers customizable templates for each of these that can be downloaded into the app.)

Social media content calendar on Evernote

Another useful feature? Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome. Marketers can use this tool to easily save links to their Evernote Notebook for sharing later on.

Evernote-webclipper.png

The Evernote mobile app also boasts some interesting features to help marketers keep their social content ideas straight. For example, you can easily snap a photo and save it to your Evernote files for review later.

Capture_Photos_Evernote.png

Source: Evernote

This feature is of particular valuable for social content creators looking to maintain a backlog of photos to publish on Instagram.

4. Google Drive

Google Drive has several helpful features that make it easy for social media marketers to build out an effective content calendar.

Here’s an example of how a team might use Google Calendar to track both their editorial and social media calendars to make sure they’re aligning posts with new blog content. These calendars can be easily shared with multiple teams to avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure that campaigns are aligned.

Social media calendar organized on Google Calendar

Marketers can also use shared Google Sheets to schedule posts on social media, track the status of different pieces of content, and assign tasks to team members — all on the same platform as their calendar.

Social media calendar ideas listed on Google Sheets

With the help of Google Docs, users can keep comments all in one place and can collaborate on different projects without emailing back-and-forth or having to schedule a meeting. This is a particularly useful feature when editing content for social media, which may need to be drafted and approved quickly.

Social_Media_Campaign__Twitter_Copy___Google_Docs.png

(HubSpot customers: You can link your Google Drive account to your HubSpot portal to easily upload files from Drive into your HubSpot software.)

Now that we’ve reviewed a few helpful tools to kick your social media strategy into high gear, experiment with them. Every social media team is different, and it could be a combination of these tools that helps you execute your strategy efficiently to drive ROI. For getting all of your ideas down and developing a big-picture plan for your social assets, we recommend starting with our template and going from there.

What tools do you use to build your social media content calendar? Share with us in the comments below.

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

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The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Amazon in 2019

You might think most consumers start their online shopping sessions with a visit to Google, but according to a poll conducted by NPR and Marist, Amazon is actually the most common starting point for online shoppers.

With 44% of shoppers starting on Amazon (which is 11% more than Google) and 40% of Americans buying products on the website at least once every month, Amazon has become the central hub for online shopping.

If you’re in the eCommerce industry, selling on Amazon is your best bet for maximizing your reach and, ultimately, your revenue. To help you set up shop on Amazon, we’ve created this ultimate guide that’ll teach you how to list your products, set up your shipping options, promote your products, manage your reviews, and analyze your performance. Read on to learn how to sell on the eCommerce platform in 2019.

Ecommerce businesses can retain more customers by following this free guide.

The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Amazon in 2019

1. Figure out if the product you want to sell needs approval from Amazon.

On Amazon, there are 20 categories open to all sellers, so if you want to sell products under any of these categories, you don’t need approval from Amazon. However, there are 15 categories that do require approval from Amazon, so if you want to sell products under any of these categories, you need to apply for a Professional Selling Plan subscription.

Amazon limits the number of sellers in each of these categories because they want to maintain the quality of their products. So if you believe your products are up to par and want to sell them under these categories, you need to request approval from Amazon by filling out their application. Amazon will let you know if they’ve approved you or if they need additional information from you in up to three business days.

Here are two lists of Amazon’s product categories that are open to all sellers or require approval.

Product Categories Open to All Sellers

1. Amazon Device Accessories

2. Amazon Kindle

3. Baby Products

4. Beauty

5. Books

6. Camera & Photo

7. Cell Phones

8. Clothing & Accessories

9. Electronics

10. Handmade

11. Health & Personal Care

12. Home & Garden

13. Musical Instruments

14. Office Products

15. Outdoors

16. Software & Computer Games

17. Sports

18. Tools & Home Improvement

19. Toys & Games

20. Video Games & Video Game Consoles

Product Categories That Require Approval From Amazon

1. Automotive & Powersports

2. B2B Business Products

3. Collectible Coins

4. Fashion Jewelry

5. Fine Jewelry

6. Fine Art

7. Grocery & Gourmet Food

8. Industrial & Scientific

9. Luggage & Travel Accessories

10. Personal Computers

11. Professional Services

12. Shoes, Handbags, & Sunglasses

13. Sports Collectibles

14. Video, DVD, & Blu-Ray

15. Watches

2. Pick a selling plan that suits your business model.

Amazon offers two selling plans: the Individual Plan and Professional Plan.

If you choose the Individual Plan, you’ll pay Amazon $0.99 for every item you sell plus referral and variable closing fees. According to Amazon, the Individual Plan is best for sellers who sell less than 40 items per month.

If you choose the Professional Plan, you can sell an unlimited number of products while only paying Amazon a subscription fee of $39.99 plus referral and variable closing fees. According to Amazon, the Professional Plan is best for sellers who sell more than 40 items per month.

3. Register for a seller account and list your products.

To register for a seller account on Amazon, visit Amazon Seller Central and click the “Start selling” button. Amazon Seller Central is also where you’ll manage your selling account.

After you’ve created your account, you can start listing your products on Amazon. If you have the Individual Plan, you can add one product to the Amazon Marketplace catalog at a time. If you have the Professional Plan, you can add batches of products to the catalog.

Additionally, if you’re selling products that are already listed on Amazon, all you have to do is tell them the amount of product you plan to sell, the condition of your product, and its shipping options.

If you’re selling products that aren’t listed on Amazon yet, the process is a little more complicated. You have to tell them what each of your product’s universal product code (UPC) and stock keeping unit (SKU) is and then list each product’s features on Amazon, like its title, description, and price.

If you don’t know what a UPC is, it consists of a 12-digit numeric code and a barcode. The American branch of GS1, an organization that develops and maintains global business communication standards, assigns a permanent UPC to a product for its entire shelf life. So even if multiple retailers sell the product, it’ll still have the same UPC at each store. For example, every box of a certain brand’s blackberries will have the same UPC at every store they’re sold at.

A SKU is similar to a UPC, but it differs from it by being a distinct string of letters and numbers that helps retailers identify every product in their inventory and each product’s specific traits, like its manufacturer, brand, price, style, color, and size. Retailers create their own internal SKU codes to quickly and accurately pinpoint and track every single piece of inventory in their retail stores, e-commerce stores, catalogs, warehouses, and product fulfillment centers.

Image Credit: FitSmallBusiness

4. Set up your shipping options.

Even if you sell on Amazon, you’ll always have the option to ship products on your own. But Amazon offers a truly unique and advantageous shipping service for all their sellers that’s incredibly hard to pass up — Fulfillment by Amazon. With Fulfillment by Amazon, all you have to do is send your inventory to an Amazon fulfillment center and they’ll store your products, package them, and ship them to your customers.

Signing up for Fulfillment by Amazon also makes your products eligible for Amazon Prime free two-day shipping, free shipping, and customer service and returns. Shipping costs are already included in your seller plan, so all you have to pay for is storage space and and a fee for each order Amazon fulfills.

5. Sell and promote your products.

After you’ve set up your shipping options, you’re ready to start selling on Amazon. To attract as many potential customers as possible, make sure to craft compelling product listings that have clear and concise titles, benefits-rich descriptions, and vivid pictures.

If you want to increase your products’ visibility on Amazon, consider running sponsored product ads directly on the platform. These ads are pay per click and will be placed alongside people’s search results. Amazon also offers an automatic ad targeting tool, which leverages their search algorithm to suggest a list of potentially lucrative keywords that you can bid on and promote your products through.

Image Credit: Shopify

Once people buy your products on Amazon, they’ll deposit payments into your bank account on a regular basis and send you a notification when they pay you.

6. Encourage reviews.

Reviews are crucial for driving sales on Amazon. The more reviews you have, the more credible and trustworthy customers will perceive your products to be. Fortunately, Amazon lets sellers send follow up emails to customers after they order one of their products and ask for product reviews. They even let you automate the process, but Amazon also requires you to follow a strict set of guidelines, which don’t allow you to include marketing messages, link to other websites, or ask for, demand, or incentivize positive reviews in these emails.

In 2016, Amazon banned incentivized reviews — which were customer reviews given to brands in exchange for a free or discounted product as long as the reviewers revealed they received an incentive for their feedback. These incentives were artificially inflating brands’ average ratings, so Amazon decided they needed to level the playing field. With this in mind, don’t even think about trying to incentivize a positive review. Just send your customers emails that politely ask for a candid product review.

7. Analyze your performance.

On your Amazon Seller Central account, you’ll have access to a sales dashboard, which displays a snapshot of your orders for the day, quantity of units sold, the amount of sales you’ve generated for the day, and other metrics.

Image Credit: Salesbacker

You’ll also have access to business reports that display metrics like sales by item, sales and orders by month, page views, brand performance, inventory in stock, and more.

Image Credit: Salesbacker

Additionally, you’ll have access to a “Compare Sales” graph that can compare any day’s sales to each other, which helps you discover seasonal trends and patterns.

Image Credit: Salesbacker

Finally, you’ll have access to a sales reporting tool that can pull any of your account’s metrics to produce a graphical representations of your sales data. This’ll help you truly grasp how your Amazon account is performing.

Image Credit:
Salesbacker
 
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Give Your Marketing Videos Maximum Reach With This Distribution Checklist

So you made an incredible video, sent it out to your internal teams, encouraged sharing, uploaded it to YouTube and waited for the marketing fame to roll in.

Unfortunately, each time you obsessively checked throughout the day, your view count wasn’t as impressive as you’d hoped.

First off – don’t stress, we’ve all done it. But after you’ve spent time, energy, and money to make really amazing video marketing, it’s all about actively making sure your videos get in front of your target audience (not just your mom).

Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 

Get Your Video The Attention It Deserves

Once you’ve optimized your content with an engaging splash screen, an email gate (where appropriate for late funnel content), and a compelling call to action, it’s time to make sure everyone sees your masterpiece.

Here’s a checklist of key places to share your video marketing content every time you have something new.

Video Distribution Checklist

YouTube

One of the first spots you’ll want to upload to is YouTube. As the second largest search engine, it’s imperative for your brand to use YouTube strategically to showcase your videos far and wide.

Because YouTube alone isn’t a video strategy, your goal should be to use the channel to gain a lot of attention and drive viewers back to your website where they can consume more content free from distraction. As a bonus, once they’re back on your website you’ll also be able to track their behaviour with video engagement data.

When uploading videos to YouTube, however, watch out for cannibalizing your own SEO efforts between YouTube and your website. Instead, change your descriptive title just slightly from the title you use when you embed your video on your own website with metadata. More details on the multi-platform promotion can be found here.

Your Website or Campaign Landing Pages

Because buyers now go through nearly 70% of the buying process independently before ever talking to sales, it’s important to include videos in a guided product tour on your website so that you can be as persuasive as possible and make a more human connection.

Videos embedded on your site can help increase conversion by 80%, and Google recognizes pages where a click leads to longer time spent on a page. This ultimately means that if your viewer’s click and watch a two-minute video, those two minutes will end up making your site content more sticky, and thereby more likely to appear in Google search results because you can hold the attention of interested viewers.

Email Campaigns

In a GetResponse study of nearly a billion emails, those containing video had a 96% higher click-through rate when compared to non-video emails. This staggering increase in engagement with the inclusion of video makes adding an embed link here a no-brainer.

For some best practices for video in email, and some cool examples, check out this post on why video and email is the perfect marketing combo.

Email Signatures

Beyond email campaigns, you send out to promote your video, have your team members change their email signature to include a catchy line with a hyperlink to your video embedded on your site. Our Corporate Communications Manager Sandy does this with her signature and you can switch up your signature every time you release a new video:

Social Networks

When distributing your videos, social channels are your best friend. You’ll want to post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+ but you’ll also want to consider a clever use of Instagram and Pinterest.

When you have a piece of long-form video content, you can use Instagram video to create a teaser trailer directing everyone to your longer-form content. Just take a look at how Mercedes used this method to promote a full-length video about their F-Cell car:

Other Places to Share

To top off the list, you’ll want to distribute your videos in these locations too:

  • Sales assets: Re-use relevant content wherever appropriate
  • On your blog: Where you’ll want to use the surrounding text to transcribe your video’s key phrases in order to have the content indexed by search engines
  • Press releases
  • Partner blogs: Contact your industry partners and ask if they’ll feature your video content on their blog.

So next time you release a video asset, don’t miss out on any opportunities to share it. A great distribution strategy will ensure you see maximum ROI from your video content. Bookmark this blog and use it as a handy checklist to make your content go as far as possible.

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How to Manage Your Entire Marketing Budget [Free Budget Planner Templates]

Let’s say your company decided to invest in a website redesign so you can improve lead generation, and you’re responsible for managing the project. Naturally, one of the first questions you have is, “How much is this website redesign going to cost?”

The answer, of course, is “it depends.” Are you simply switching to a new template and adding some new CTAs, or are you migrating your entire website to a new platform?

If only there were a way to organize your answers to all of these questions — a place where you could enter in estimated costs for all of your line items, and then compare your projected marketing budget to what you actually end up spending.Click here to download your 8 free marketing budget templates.Good news: Our free marketing budget templates have got you covered. Included in our eight budget templates bundle is a template to manage your website redesign … as well as templates for both Excel and Google Sheets to help you track your content budget, paid advertising budget, event budget, and more.

In this blog post, you’ll find the following content (click a link below to jump to that section):

Marketing budgets can be difficult to establish for both small and large businesses. If you’re a small business, you might wonder which marketing expenses you should start with. If you’re a large business, having multiple marketing teams or operations in play can make it harder to ensure everyone across the department gets what they need.

So, what should you spend your marketing cash on? First, let’s identify a focal point: According to investment agency, Magna, money spent on digital media will increase by 11.8% in 2019, up from $106.6 million in the U.S. alone in 2018. This includes initiatives that cater to audiences on desktop computers, search engines, video streaming platforms, social media, and mobile devices.

Digital media makes up more than half of the country’s total advertising spend. Given the success marketers have seen in it, you might consider spending at least half of your marketing budget on some of the digital channels mentioned above.

How to Create a Marketing Budget

Spreadsheet knowledge, alone, won’t help you understand how you’ll spend your marketing money this year. Creating a sound marketing budget starts with knowing what purpose this budget will serve and which marketing teams it will represent.

1. Align your budget with your marketing goals.

What you spend and where you spend it will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. So, when starting to create your marketing budget, make sure you’re only spending money on the things required by your current marketing goals. This can include:

  • Display ads to promote a new product you’re launching this year.
  • Sponsored social media posts to generate followers of your new Facebook page.
  • Paid search engine ads to drive traffic (and purchases) to a specific product page.
  • Contract bloggers to get more organic search traffic to your company’s website.

HubSpot’s former Demand Generation Marketer and Trello’s current Growth Marketing Lead, Jessica Webb, says this about how your costs can change when focusing on lead generation vs. lead conversion: “The majority of the money you spend on paid efforts is usually calculated based on volume of clicks or impressions. Because of this, you’ll often want to put more budget toward campaigns with higher-volume offers and audiences.”

“For example, a tweet or Facebook ad promoting a lead generation offer that leans more top of the funnel will likely receive more clicks than something that falls more toward the middle or bottom of the funnel,” she explains.

Your paid advertising costs will also change depending on how wide of an audience you are attempting to reach. “You can look at Twitter advertising as an example,” Webb explains. “You have to option to target your campaigns based on users’ interests or keywords searched for. Interests are a much broader category, whereas smaller pockets of users are searching for any given keyword, therefore your interests-based audience is going to be much larger and require a larger budget.”

To keep better track of your paid advertising efforts, download the Paid Advertising Budget Template (included in the8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

2. Beware of hidden costs.

One of the great advantages to having and maintaining a budget spreadsheet is that it helps you avoid those end-of-the-quarter or end-of-the-year freak outs when you realize, “Whoa … what did I spend all that money on?”

In many cases, unanticipated costs can force marketers to fork over cash that they didn’t plan on spending. Product marketing offers a perfect example. According HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson, it’s easy to forget that successfully marketing your products and services requires more than just promotion.

“When people allocate budget for product marketing, they tend to think in terms of product launches and promotional activities,” Anderson explains. “That’s certainly an important part of it, but another area of focus to remember is setting aside resources to conduct research and message testing long before the product ever goes to market. Having conversations with customers about the pain points your product will ultimately address is critical to shaping the messaging and having a successful launch.”

To better manage your product marketing efforts, download the Product Marketing Budget Template (included in the 8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

3. Remember where your priorities lie.

Marketing is overflowing with add-ons and extras, upsells, and “premium” versions. One of the best ways to assess what’s nice to have versus what’s absolutely necessary is to (you guessed it) organize all of your expenses. By keeping tabs on where your budget is being allocated, and cross-checking that spending with the results you’re getting, it will be much easier to figure out what should keep getting budget and what should get kicked to the curb.

For example, let’s look to the world of public relations. In PR, there are countless tools to which you can allocate budget, which could leave you overspending where it doesn’t matter — and underspending where it does.

“Tools abound to help PR practitioners not only create and distribute great content and find and target key stakeholders, but to ultimately measure reach and effectiveness,” says Nathaniel Eberle, HubSpot’s former Director of PR & Brand and LogMeIn’s current Director of Global Brand Management. “The key is making sure you’re laser-focused on who you’re setting out to reach and influence, then ensuring that your budget supports how they’ll most likely want to receive (and share) your key messages.

“As the media and digital landscape evolves at breakneck speed, continually reassessing the tools, services, and programs you’re employing is a great way to determine real-time ROI of your overall spend. Today’s measurement tool may be worthless to you tomorrow.”

To get better at prioritizing your PR line items, download the PR Budget Template (included in the 8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

4. It’s not all about the Benjamins.

When you open up these budget templates and check out all the various expenses detailed in them, don’t fret if you can’t tick every box. I’m not advocating for an “always spend more” approach to marketing. I’m advocating for an “always spend smart” approach. The expenses listed out aren’t mandatory — they’re just meant to guide your thinking and to help ensure that you haven’t overlooked any hidden costs.

With that in mind, here’s the full list of budget templates included in the bundle.

8 Marketing Budget Templates You Need to Manage Your Marketing Spend

With the 8 Free Budget Planner Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend, you’ll be able to manage all of the moving pieces of your budget at a monthly and quarterly level. Use the Excel version of the templates to keep all of your budgets in one place. When you download the zip file, you’ll find a separate file for each marketing team, as well as a Master Budget Template to maintain a high-level view of your overall expenses.

Interested in sharing your marketing budget across a larger team? Try the Google Sheets version of the same eight templates to share access with other Gmail users. For the Google Sheets templates, each team budget is found in a separate tab of the same Google Sheet. No matter which version you choose, each budget is optimized with the same line items, tips, and graphs. Read on to learn how to use each budget template.

1. Master Marketing Budget Template

Download the Master Marketing Budget Template here.

While it’s helpful to have individual budget templates for specific marketing departments and activities, it’s also nice to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture. The Master Marketing Budget Template lets you do just that: It’s the place where you can collect the totals from the other seven templates in the bundle and see all of your expenses in one place.

master marketing budget template in excel

2. Product Marketing Budget Template

Download the Product Marketing Budget Template here.

This template will guide you step-by-step through the process of budgeting for a product launch. From determining product/market fit, to running user testing sessions, to promoting your finished product, our Product Marketing Budget Template will help ensure you don’t overlook any important expenses.

excel budget template for product marketing

3. Content Budget Template

Download the Content Budget Template here.

The budget required for creating and promoting content can vary greatly from organization to organization. For example, while some organizations keep most of their content operations in-house, others rely more heavily on freelancers and contractors. And while some use many different software products, publishing tools, and services, others take a much simpler approach.

Our Content Budget Template is designed to cover as many content-related bases as possible. So, if you see any expenses listed that don’t apply to your organization, go ahead and delete them. (That’s the beauty of Excel spreadsheets: You can customize them to your specific needs.)

excel budget template for content marketing

4. Paid Advertising Budget Template

Download the Paid Advertising Budget Template here.

Paid advertising: Does it really qualify as an inbound marketing tactic/channel? That is a loaded question, my friends, and one that I don’t have room to answer in-depth in this post. What I can tell you for sure is that you can do paid advertising in an “inboundy” way — i.e. by targeting specific buyer personas and using paid advertising as a supplement to your organic efforts to help drive awareness and conversion opportunities.

Measuring the effectiveness of your paid advertising campaigns is also paramount to doing things the inbound way. Using our Paid Advertising Budget Template, you can keep tabs on your monthly (and quarterly) ad spending, and then cross-reference the amounts with your lead-generation metrics to determine your cost-per-lead.

excel budget template for paid advertising

5. Public Relations Budget Template

Download the Public Relations Budget Template here.

Public relations expenses amount to more than just paying for press releases. From reputation monitoring software, to traveling (e.g., to events and tradeshows), to applying for awards, there are many PR costs that can be all too easy to overlook.

To ensure you’re accounting for all of your organization’s PR-related expenses, check out our Public Relations Budget Template.

excel budget template for public relations

6. Branding & Creative Budget Template

Download the Creative Budget Template here.

In order to produce high-quality, innovative graphics, videos, and other content, the branding and creative teams of today need more than just Photoshop … a lot more. One of the largest — and often most overlooked — expenses is storage.

If your organization is producing a lot of video, storage is especially important. Because as it turns out, when budgeting for video storage, you shouldn’t be thinking on a megabyte (MB) or even a gigabyte (GB) scale, but on a terabyte (TB) scale. FYI: 1 terabyte = 1 trillion bytes. You can keep track of all your storage costs (and other branding and creative costs) using our free template.

excel budget template for branding and creative

7. Website Redesign Budget Template

Download the Website Redesign Budget Template here.

Budgeting for a website redesign can be seriously tricky. With so many moving pieces to consider, there is a lot of room for underestimating or miscalculating costs. We created our Website Redesign Budget Template so you can keep all of your redesign-related expenses in one convenient location.

Unsure if your current website is right for a redesign? Check out this HubSpot research report: Does Your Website Make the Grade? Chances Are, It’s Barely Passing.

excel budget template for website redesign

8. Event Budget Template

Download the Event Budget Template here.

When planning an event, the associated costs can seem obvious at first. There’s the venue to consider, of course. And the P.A. system and microphones. And then the costs associated with booking and bringing in presenters/performers. That’s pretty much it, right?

Wrong.

For example, does the venue come with tables/chairs, or will you have to rent those separately? Do you want your attendees to wear name tags, and if so, will you be printing out the name tags ahead of time or will attendees be writing their own names on blank tags? If the latter, have you factored in the pens or markers you’ll need to accommodate that? As you can see, planning for an event can lead you down many rabbit holes.

Use our Event Budget Template to stay organized.

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Sample Marketing Budget

With your chosen template downloaded, it’s time to consider which digital channels to allot a budget for. Hint: There’s no right answer — it’ll depend the market research you do to figure out where your specific audience spends most of its time. If you find your buyer prefers learning and consuming content in the form of video, for example, you might invest more of your money in YouTube advertising.

Alright, enough explanation. Here’s a small, sample budget for a quarter’s worth of expenses by a hypothetical company that has decided to invest heavily in video marketing. This template was created using the Master Budget Template, the first template listed in the section above.

Sample marketing budget showing a video advertising investment that exceeds budget by $2,420.

Based on the figures above, video advertising’s total expenses for the quarter exceeded budget by $20, while full-time recruitment’s total expenses exceeded budget by $2,400. This means the company is trending over budget for the first three months of the year. Why might this happen? Perhaps a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign on YouTube received more clicks by viewers than expected, and a sharp video-savvy job candidate negotiated a higher salary.

Based on the difference between this company’s planned spend and actual spend, their budget template produced the following graph:
sample-marketing-budget-graph

Go now, and plan wisely — your marketing staff is counting on you.

download free marketing budget templates

 
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Form UX: How to Design a User-Friendly Form

Think about a website you frequent — what’s that site’s overall functionality like? How long do the pages take to load? Is the site navigation easy to use? Are you able to quickly find the information you’re looking for? These are all aspects of a website’s user experience (UX).

UX applies to every part of your website, including your web forms, in regards to accessibility, ease of use, and convenience. An online form with great UX is easy for your visitors to work though, simple to understand, and feels professional. When your form has all of these factors, you’re likely to see an increase in your number of conversions. That’s why getting your form’s UX right is critical for your business.

 

Why does form UX matter?

The point of a web form is to collect certain personal information from your visitor, whether that be an email address or their shipping and payment details. But why would a visitor want to convert and conduct any type of business with you if the form they’re being asked to list their information on is difficult to use, hard to understand, or visually unattractive? Simple answer … they wouldn’t.

There are a number of factors that go into great UX and elements to consider when trying to achieve a fantastic and memorable form design. Form UX matters because you want to leave a good (and lasting) impression on your visitors, create a positive experience for them while on your site, and convert more leads.

UX impacts your web form’s level of accessibility (which refers to how easily your forms can be completed and submitted by many types of people, of various backgrounds) and usability (which refers to how easily someone can accomplish their goal, which in this case means completing a form). Without great UX, you’ll not only have poor accessibility and usability but you’ll also lose out on conversions.

10 Form UX Guidelines and Great Examples to Follow

We’ve curated the following list of guidelines that you can apply to your forms to help you enhance their UX. Each guideline also includes an example that you can follow and learn from to help you create successful and thoughtfully-designed web forms for your own site.

1. Enable autofill and autocorrect

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Autofill fills, or completes, form fields based on common attributes or responses, such as name and email, previously provided on the site or in the browser.

Autocorrect corrects, or rectifies, invalid responses visitors may accidentally try entering in the fields. For example, if someone were to enter the incorrect zip code in your form, the form might be able to recommend or fix that error based on someone’s given location or other information they’ve previously submitted. 

Autofill and autocorrect are two features that enhance UX because they simplify the form completion process. By enabling these features, you’re not only ensuring valid information is being submitted, but you’re also saving your visitors time, streamlining the form completion process, and helping them remain as efficient and accurate as possible.

2. Exclude all fluff

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Keep your form as straightforward and easy to understand as possible by excluding all “fluff” — that is any words, images, fields, or characters that aren’t absolutely necessary. By excluding all unnecessary information, you enhance your form’s UX for a couple reasons. First, it removes any confusion for your visitors that could stem from having too much information. Second, users can submit their information with less friction, like scrolling or trying to determine what’s important.

3. Lay out the form in one column 

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Your form field layout should be organized in a single column versus placing multiple fields in the same row or in various locations. Your visitors will easily see all necessary fields and have the ability to tab down to the next open box if they choose to work through the form that way.

A major aspect of successful UX is ease of use. By laying out all of your form fields in a single column, your visitors will be able to flow through your form naturally, with ease.

4. Don’t forget a mobile-friendly design

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These days, it’s crucial your web forms include a mobile-friendly design due to the number of people who browse sites, sign up for new accounts, and purchase items from a smartphone or tablet. Without a mobile-friendly design, your form won’t fit or function well via one of these devices. 

Great UX means a quality end-to-end experience for your visitors. That means your visitors need to have consistent, positive interactions with your website no matter the device they’re on. Without a mobile-friendly design, your forms won’t help you improve UX or boost conversions. This has the potential to be a devastating loss for your business considering how many people carry a mobile device and browse the web via that smartphone or tablet on a constant basis.

5. Provide input constraints

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If you have a form on your site with a long-form text entry box (meaning you need a short answer or a paragraph response from your visitors), you should include input constraints. These constraints prevent visitors from writing beyond a certain word count or limit. This is a helpful feature because it provides your visitors with parameters. It also prevents you and your business from having to read through responses that are several paragraphs long.

Input constraints enhance UX because they provide visitors with guidelines that keep them efficient. They ensure your visitors know exactly what’s expected of them, how much information they need to share with you and prevent them from wasting time writing a long, unnecessary response.

6. Use multi-step forms when necessary

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Multi-step forms are used in situations where there are multiple form fields, several of which could be split up into categories (such as “personal”, “shipping”, “billing”, and “payment review”). They improve UX because they increase a form’s usability by making it easier for a visitor to accomplish their goal (completing and submitting the form). With a multi-step form, you split your fields into several shorter forms, each on separate web pages. They help to organize your form fields and make the form appear more manageable for the user.

7. Provide clear and obvious action buttons

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Action buttons are what your visitors click to either move onto the next part of a multi-step form or to submit it. Needless to say, they’re a critical part of your web form, and that’s why you need to make sure they’re bright, bold, and obvious. 

Obvious and clear action buttons improve a form’s accessibility because they’re universally recognized as the way to submit information on a form. Also, because they’re so easy to see, you avoid confusing your visitor when they go to submit their information.

8. Create inline field labels 

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Inline form field labels are form field labels that are located inside the fields themselves. They make your form look sleek and clean. Placing your labels inline with your fields is the most thoughtful way to title your fields for your visitors — doing this improves your form’s ease of use since there’s no question about which label belongs to which field.

9. Add inline error messages

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Now that you know what inline form fields are, you can probably guess what inline error messages are — they point a visitor to an error in their form by highlighting the issue in line with the field in which it’s located. These messages ensure there’s no question about which field includes the error. Some of these messages even include a short and clear statement that explains how the visitor can make the necessary correction. 

Error messages improve UX by making it as easy as possible for your visitor to correct the error at hand. Inline error messages make your form and company feel professional and thoughtful.

10. Mark required vs. optional form fields 

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You should always mark your form fields as “required” or “optional”. You can do this by writing “required” or “optional” in a small font next to your field, or by placing an asterisk next to your required fields so there’s no question about what your visitors need to complete.

Marking your form fields as required or optional improves UX by making your form accessible to everyone — you provide your visitors with a set of expectations as they fill out your form. Not only does this ensure all of your visitors are on the same page about the information they need to submit, but it also prevents them from having to waste time submitting and re-submitting your forms to try and determine which fields are the necessary ones.

Back To You

Great UX is how you’ll ensure positive interactions between your site visitors and forms. By taking these UX guidelines and examples into account, you’ll create a great experience for your visitors that’ll keep them coming back to conduct more business with you and your company. Let these examples inspire your own UX design so you can implement the guidelines that fit best with your site, business, and needs to boost conversions and make a great, lasting impression on your visitors. 

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What Is a Data Breach? A 1-Minute Rundown

On the surface, it might seem like Yahoo, Marriott, and Adult Friend Finder have nothing in common. Surprisingly, though, they actually do. But, unfortunately, what they share common ground on is something no company would ever wish on their worst enemy — a data breach.

Yahoo, Marriott, and Adult Friend Finder experienced the three largest data breaches of all time, all occurring from 2013 and beyond. And between the three of them, almost 4 billion user accounts were compromised.

Download our free press release template here to learn how to write a  top-notch press release. 

If you work at a smaller company, however, you might think a data breach will never affect you. Cybercriminals usually only target huge corporations when they try to steal people’s data. But that doesn’t mean data breaches aren’t a possibility at smaller companies.

In 2017, the Identity Theft Resource Center reported a record-high 1,579 data breaches, which is 44.7% more incidents than the previous record high recorded just one year before. Coupled with IBM’s discovery that the average cost of a data breach is a whopping $3.86 million, this prevalent cybercrime could not only plummet consumer trust in your brand but it could also wreak havoc on your bottom line.

There are two types of data breaches — breaches of companies that people trust to secure their personal information, like retailers and banks, and breaches of companies that obtain people’s personal information through second-party data partnerships, like credit bureaus and marketing firms.

Unfortunately, most data breaches don’t occur because cybercriminals are leveraging intricate hacking methods to infiltrate companies’ database. They occur because companies are turning a blind eye to patchable rifts in their security, like outdated software vulnerabilities, weak passwords, and malware attacks.

To avoid turning into the next Yahoo, Marriott, or Adult Friend Finder, it’s crucial you prioritize security at your company by focusing efforts on data protection, and giving your security team the resources needed to shield your customers’ and company’s data from malicious cybercriminals at all times.

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The Super-Simple Way to Create Your Own Google Forms Templates

Whether you need to collect employees’ take-out orders for a team dinner or create a feedback form for customers, Google Forms is undoubtedly one of the most useful free tools at your disposal.

Google Forms provides 17 pre-made templates, varying in subject from “Party Invite” to “Time Off Request”. However, if you’ve never made a Google Form before, the process can seem complicated.

To ensure you know about all the nifty features on a Google Form and have the knowledge necessary to create your own Google Form in minutes, take a look at our quick tutorial.

Want 5 free customer satisfaction survey templates you can implement  immediately? Click here.

How to Create Your Own Google Form

Let’s say you’re in charge of a new social media project and want your team’s feedback on it.

To create a form for collecting feedback (although you can follow these steps to create a form for almost anything), go to Google Forms and click “Template Gallery” to see the full display.

For our purposes, I chose the “Contact Information” template, under the “Personal” category.

Once you choose a template, follow these steps:

1. Rename your form by clicking “Contact Information” and typing your desired title. Additionally, you have the option to input text in the “Form description” space — this is a good section to include a description of what you’re hoping to get out of this form, and why you’re requiring recipients to fill it out in the first place.

2. There are different features incorporated into each module, or section of the form. For instance, you can click the scroll-down bar on the top right to choose how you want to style each module — including short or long answer, multiple choice, grid, or file upload.

3. Additionally, there’s an icon at the top of each module (six grey dots) — if you click it, you can drag the module to another area of the form.

At the bottom of the module, there’s a “Required” button, with a drag tool beside it. If the tool is dragged to the right (and green), you’re making it a requirement for form applicants to fill out this module. If you drag the circle to the left (and make it grey), it’s no longer required.

4. It’s important to note, you also have a toolbar on the right side of your screen. At the top, the “+” icon allows you to add a question. Below, the “Tt” icon lets you create another Title and description — if you have a longer form with multiple sections, you might use that tool to separate the sections.

The remaining three icons allow you to add an image, video, or section (respectively).

5. Once you’ve renamed and configured your modules on the form to ensure you’re asking all the questions you want to ask, you can work on the design of the form itself.

To do this, click the “Customize Theme” paint icon at the top right.

6. Here, you can change the color theme of your entire form, and add an image for the header — you can upload your own image, or use one of Google Form’s header images, found in their library. You can also change the font.

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 2.10.05 PM7. When you’re finished, you can “Preview” your form by clicking the eye icon in the top right.
 

8. When you’re happy with your form, click the “Send” button at the top right.

9. Here, you’ll want to type the email addresses to which you want to send the form. You also have the option to embed the form in the email itself (or provide a link), add collaborators, and include a message. When you’re ready, press “Send” in the bottom right.

And there you have it! In nine easy steps, you’re able to create a personalized, unique form, and send it to recipients. However, this only scratches the surface of what you’re able to do with different Google Form Templates. To learn more about Google Forms’ features, tools, and functions, take a look at our “Ultimate Guide to Google Forms“.

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10 Cover Letter Templates to Perfect Your Next Job Application

No one seems to agree on cover letters. How much time do you need to spend perfecting them? Do hiring managers even read them? Is it better to just send in your resume and call it a day?

I’m not in HR, but I’ve been approached by applicants who wondered whether their cover letter would actually be read. My answer is one not many of them wanted to hear: “sometimes.” Sometimes it will be read. Other times, you can get away with just sending in your resume — like when you network your way into applying for a position.

Use these free cover letter templates to save time.

The truth is, you can’t really predict on a case-by-case basis — and you’re better safe than sorry. For the most part, having a cover letter will give you an upper hand in ways your resume doesn’t. It allows you to show off your writing skills, provide details that you couldn’t fit on your resume, demonstrate your passion, and show your willingness to put in as much time and effort as possible.

Seems fairly basic, right? Cover letters can hold different levels of importance to an employer depending on the industry you’re in and the job you’re applying for. If you do plan to write a cover letter, keep in mind there are certain qualities it should have that are not included in the definition above.

What to Include in a Cover Letter

So, what should you include? We’ll let the 10 templates below this list do most of the talking. No matter which one you download, pay attention to the following elements — all of which should shine through in the letter you send to your future manager.

Contact Information

Cover letters shouldn’t just carry your contact information, but also that of the company to which you’re applying. Contact info includes your phone number, email address, and any social media accounts you’re willing to share and receive connections to.

Home addresses aren’t required, but they can be a helpful reassurance to the employer that you already live nearby and would have no trouble coming into the office.

Avoid offering phone numbers, email addresses, or actual addresses that belong to your current employer. Using your personal Gmail address over your work email, for example, ensures your correspondence with recruiters remains separate from all of your current work communication.

A Personal Address Line

For as often as you see “to whom it may concern” at the top of cover letters today, do your best to avoid writing this exhausted line.

Address lines that specify a person or company grab your reader’s attention much more quickly, and show the employer that you’ve taken the time to tailor your application letter to them. Don’t have the name of the hiring manager? “Employers at [company name]” will do just fine.

A Hook

A “hook” is a clever introduction that “hooks” your reader into wanting to learn more. Think about yourself as a job candidate — what makes you unique? What about your career might a recruiter be intrigued by that you can package into an interesting first sentence?

Why You’re Qualified

It’s a no-brainer that you should summarize your professional experience in your cover letter. However, today’s best applications describe why this experience qualifies the applicant for the job they’re applying for. For example, don’t just state that you spent three years writing for a company blog. Explain that this type of work lends itself to managing your new potential employer’s content calendar every week.

General Knowledge of the Business

Grammatical errors could mean your application is thrown in the trash, but that’s not the only thing that could get your letter tossed aside. Using a generic “one-size-fits-all” cover letter — especially if you forget to change the name of the company — will also hurt your chances of landing an interview.

So, if you take the time to write a cover letter, take the time to comment on the business itself. Why are you applying to this company? What about their business stuck out to you as a professional?

Now, let’s take a look at an example cover letter template, what makes it effective, along with nine more cover letters you can download or draw inspiration from.

10 Free Cover Letter Templates for Your Next Job Application

Template 1: Basic


Basic cover letter template with 7 qualities to learn from

The example above is a basic (but great) cover letter. The numbered sections are explained in more detail below.

Why This Cover Letter Works

1. Header

The level of formality your header has will depend on the company to which you apply. If you’re applying to a formal business, it’s important to use a formal header to open your cover letter, like in the sample above. Put your address, the date, and the company’s address. But if you’re applying to a company that isn’t as formal, you don’t need to include yours and the company’s addresses. You can still include the date, though.

2. Greeting

Using “To Whom It May Concern” is okay, but you may want to take the time to research the name of the recruiter or hiring manager online. If you do your research and aren’t confident you found the right name, then you should definitely use the generic greeting — but if you are sure, then it shows you put in the effort to find their name and it will catch the recruiter’s eye.

If you have the recruiter’s name, do you greet them by their full name, or by their courtesy title (i.e. Mr., Ms., or Mrs.)? Similar to the header, it depends on the company’s level of formality. If you’re applying to a corporate business, you may want to consider using “Mr. Snaper” instead of “Jon Snaper.” If you’re applying to a start-up or a business with a more casual culture, you can use “Jon Snaper,” as shown in the example.

3. Introduction

Your opening paragraph should, in 1-3 sentences, state why you’re excited to apply and what makes you the perfect candidate. Get right to the point, and don’t worry about explaining where you found the posting or who you know at the company. This isn’t a place to go into detail about why you’re a great candidate — that’s for the second paragraph. Here, simply list a few key reasons in one sentence to set up the rest of your letter. Keep in mind that the recruiter may cross-reference your cover letter with your resume, so make sure the two sync up.

4. Paragraph 2: Why You’re a Great Fit for the Job

Next, sell yourself and your experience by choosing one or two concrete examples that show why you’re a great fit for the position. What did you do at a previous company that gave you relevant experience? Which projects have you worked on that would benefit the new company? How will your prior experience help this company grow? Stay humble in your explanation of credentials while still showing that you would be an asset to the team. Use this paragraph to show you’re genuinely excited and interested in the position.

5. Third Paragraph: Why the Company Is a Great Fit for You

While it’s certainly important you’re a good fit for the job, it’s also important that the company is a good fit for you. “A cover letter typically describes why you’re great for a company — but how will you benefit from getting hired?” asks Emily MacIntyre, a Team Development Manager at HubSpot. “We want to know why our company appeals to you, and how it will be a mutually beneficial working relationship.”

In the third paragraph, show you’re serious about growing and developing your career at this new company. What impresses and excites you about the company? Is there something that you feel strongly about that aligns with the company’s goals? For example, the candidate in the sample letter used this space to show his personal commitment to environmental causes aligns with the company’s green initiatives.

6. Strong Closer and Signature

Don’t get lazy in the final few sentences of your cover letter — it’s important to finish strong. Be straightforward about your interest and enthusiasm about the new position, and tell them you’re available to talk about the opportunity at any time. Be sure to include your phone number and email address. At this point, the ball is (rightly) in the recruiter’s court to decide how to follow up.

Last but certainly not least, thank them for their time and consideration. Use a formal sign-off like “Best,” “All the best,” or “Sincerely,” and finish by typing out your full name. You don’t need to sign it with a pen.

Template 2. Data-Driven Marketing Cover Letter

Get it here.

Data-driven marketing cover letter template

When applying to a data-driven position, it might be tempting to inject your cover letter with, well, the data to describe what you’ve done for other employers. But in an application letter — particularly for the marketing industry — how you convey this data is just as important as the data itself.

The cover letter template above, which we created here at HubSpot, can help you present the data that’s most important to you as a candidate such that it’ll matter to your future employer.

Notice the three bullet points near the center of the letter above, preceded by the statement: “… I’ve developed a strategy that has helped the company achieve …” This setup is important, because while you can add as many statistics as you want to this template, your data points should describe how your current/former business benefited from your work, rather than how you, yourself, benefited.

Template 3. Straight-to-the-Point Cover Letter

Get it here.

Straight-to-the-point cover letter template

Harvard Business Review contributor David Silverman hailed the above cover letter example as “The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received.” For context, Silverman believes there are only a handful of times when writing a cover letter is actually necessary:

  1. When you know the name of the hiring manager.
  2. When you know something about what the job requires.
  3. When you’ve been referred to the job personally.

Under those three circumstances, a straight-to-the-point cover letter like the one above could be your best bet. Because it’s so concise, however, make a point to add your own letterhead above the message itself. It might be easy for a recruiter to sift through a short and sweet cover letter like the one above, but it’s just as easy for it to get lost in the shuffle of their application list without a unique design or format.

Template 4. Referral Cover Letter

Get it here.

Referral cover letter template

Just because a friend or colleague recommended you for a job doesn’t mean the company is all set to hire you. Therefore, the cover letter template above is written specifically for referrals. We made this one here at HubSpot. Download it here (it comes with four other cover letter templates, too).

As you can see in the picture above, the first paragraph of the cover letter is dedicated entirely to acknowledging the circumstances of your applying: You know someone who works there — no harm in that. But there might be harm in not mentioning it to the hiring manager. Telling the reader about your connection at the company shows you’re aware and confident of the actions you take to get the opportunities you’re interested it.

Ultimately, it’s better than the recruiter hearing about your employee connection from somebody else.

As for the rest of the cover letter, treat your message the same way you would if you had applied with no connection from within. Your skills and successes are no less important because of your internal referral.

Template 5. Photo Letterhead Cover Letter

Get it here.

Photo letterhead cover letter by Microsoft Office

The cover letter template above was designed by Microsoft Office, and as comprehensive as it looks, it’s completely free to download and modify.

As it looks right now, this cover letter contains about half photo, half text. Feel free to shrink (and change) the image to give yourself more room to tell your story. Of course, a nice washed-out image that expresses who you are can be part of that story …

Template 6. Social Media Marketing Cover Letter

Get it here.

Social media cover letter template

This fourth template gets even more specific within the marketing industry: It’s a cover letter just for social media professionals.

As you personalize this letter with your own experience, make note of the social networks and industry software included in this template. You’ll see that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are all mentioned the letter for your reference, making it easy to write about your focus and expertise in each one.

The fourth paragraph in the above template allows you to express the value that your social media expertise delivers to the larger organization: “It’s the key to developing relationships with consumers.” Businesses use social media in diverse ways, and remarks like the one above help your potential employer imagine how you’ll benefit their marketing campaigns.

Template 7. Marketing Manager Cover Letter

Get it here.

Marketing-specific cover letter template

Our fourth cover letter comes from Monster.com. This cover letter, shown above, is focused specifically on a marketing role.

Notice how the writer includes references to important marketing metrics and terminology. If you’re applying to a data-driven role, you might not want to fill the page with a story of your experience in paragraph form, like Template 1 does at the beginning of this article. Instead, consider highlighting three (or four, or five) of your successes that you believe the hiring manager would resonate most with, in bulleted form.

As a marketing professional, breaking up your letter with bulleted details like the ones above shows a respect for the hiring manager’s limited time — a mentality that all marketers must understand when communicating with a brand’s audience.

Template 8: Career Day Follow-Up Cover Letter

Get it here.

Career day follow-up cover letter template

This is a unique kind of cover letter from Princeton University.

CareerBuilder, Monster, and Indeed might take the lion’s share of your job searches online, but still some employment opportunities come out of a trade show, job fair, or similar networking event. For those occurrences, you have the follow-up cover letter template above.

This cover letter has everything you need to help an employer recall a conversation you had with him/her at a career fair. As you can see in the second paragraph, the letter is particularly useful to people who are about to graduate college.

Template 9. Logo and Watermarked Cover Letter

Get it here.

Logo and watermarked cover letter template by Microsoft Office

Here’s another cover letter template from Microsoft Office. This one has a light touch of color in the design just above the letterhead, but make no mistake — the template caters to any professional looking to make a good first impression on their future employer.

Don’t let the logo space on the top-right of the page confuse you. This can be the logo of the company to which you’re applying — to quickly get the attention of the recruiter — or your own logo. Perhaps you freelance on the side or simply like branding yourself. This cover letter template is meant for customization.

Template 10. Marketing Assistant Cover Letter

Get it here.

Marketing assistant cover letter templateOffered by ResumeGenius, the cover letter template above is perfect for entry- and mid-level marketers who want to show a little extra professionalism in their opening note to a potential employer.

The orange header (you can change the color if you wish) can go quite well with a resume of the same style. If you don’t have enough experience to fill the entire page, don’t worry. Feel free to write to a length you think is representative of who you are and what the hiring manager wants to see.

No matter how long your final cover letter is, the above template is your opportunity to show your attention to detail — from your contact information in the top header, to the personalized address line where you can include the name of the hiring manager. Like we said, “to whom it may concern” is pretty outdated, anyway.

Writing a cover letter is easier said than done. Don’t hesitate to spend a lot of time writing and editing it. Or, ask a friend or family member to read it over and give you feedback. If the recruiter does end up reading it, you’ll be thankful you did.

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Form Layouts: 6 Best Practices and Great Examples to Follow

Have you ever tried completing a form on a website and felt confused or lost while doing so? Did the placement of the form field labels and the fields themselves not make any sense? Were the form’s title and submission button not in locations that were easy for you to spot?

These factors, among several others, are major aspects of a web form’s layout that have the potential to either enhance or diminish its user experience (UX). By implementing a successful layout, you’ll create a great experience for your visitors as well as initiate a positive — and hopefully long-lasting — relationship between them and your brand. 

In this guide, we’ll review six best web form layout practices as well as examples of each practice to help you get started. But first, let’s review what web form layout actually is and why it’s so important.

 

Why does web form layout matter?

Almost every website has a web form of some kind. Your web form layout plays a large role in how well your form converts. That’s because a great form layout leads to seamless form completion and improves the submission process for your visitors. Visitors will easily convert since you’ve created a web form that’s hassle-free and feels both professional and thoughtful. 

In contrast, a poorly planned layout will lead to a confusing and difficult-to-work-through form that may frustrate your visitors and even cause them to abandon your site entirely, diminishing your conversions.

Now that we understand why getting your web form’s layout right is so important, let’s dive into how to create an optimal layout for your web form. Below are six best practices to follow when arranging your content.

Form Layouts: 6 Best Practices and Great Examples to Follow

We’ve curated this list of best practices, to apply to virtually every type of web form. We’ve also included great examples of each practice to help you better apply the concepts to your own forms.

1. Use a single-column layout

When it comes to your layout, you should keep the location and order of all your fields as straightforward as possible. This means you should use a single-column layout. By organizing your fields this way, your visitors won’t miss a field, they’ll complete the fields in the order that makes the most sense, and they’ll be able to submit your form faster than they would if you used a multi-column form.

Great example:

single-column-web-form-layoutSource 

This example shows you what a single-column format should look like. The layout is just about as streamlined, straightforward, and minimalist as it could possibly be, which is exactly what you want. This way, you decrease the amount of time your visitors need to work through your form and there’s no possible cause for error or confusion.

2. Align copy to the left

Align all of your form fields to the left side of the web page. This is the most natural way to lay out your form because it’s how the vast majority of people learn to read content — by moving from right to left. If you aren’t using inline form field labels (which are located directly in the form fields themselves), you should also align your labels to the left. Again, this natural flow will help your visitors complete your form more efficiently without feeling confused about which label belongs to which field.

Great example: 

left-side-web-form-alignment

Source

This photo depicts left side alignment for both the form’s fields and labels. The form is organized in a way that makes it clear for visitors and therefore allows for speedy completion and submission processes. There’s no question about which labels belong with which fields and working right to left through the form is both natural and hassle-free.

3. Use a one-page layout

When creating your forms, you should use a one-page layout so there’s only one form located on each page. If you have a short form, everything should easily fit on a single page, making this an easy layout to implement. 

If you have a lot of form fields, you should break up them up into a multi-step form. When you do this, there will be multiple web pages with separate portions of the form, making the amount of work your visitor needs to complete appear more manageable. (If you do have a multi-step form, you can also add a progress bar at the top of the page so your visitors know how much longer they’re going to be working through it.)

Great example:

one-page-web-form-layout

Source 

Due to the large number of form fields that visitors are required to complete, this is a multi-step form spread across three separate web pages. By organizing the form this way, reviewing and completing it doesn’t feel like it’ll be a long, tedious process.

Rather than looking at a long list of form fields that need to be completed, seeing only a few fields at a time makes the form feel less overwhelming. (The progress bar at the top of the page also helps with this, especially since it clearly labels the names of the web pages the visitor needs to work through.)

4. Create a mobile-friendly layout

These days nearly everyone carries some type of mobile device with them at all times. No matter if they’re on-the-go, traveling, commuting, or simply sitting in the comfort of their own home, it’s no secret that people are signing up for your newsletter, registering for an account, and buying your products via their smartphones and tablets. That’s why it’s critical your site includes mobile-friendly forms.

Great example:

mobile-friendly-web-form-layout

Source 

This example displays many important aspects of a successful mobile form layout. The form has a clear title at the top of the small screen, a clear and simplified option to add (or scan) credit card information so a visitor doesn’t have to type our the series of numbers on such a tiny keyboard, a straightforward, single-column, and multi-step layout, minimalist design, and more. This form is laid out in a way that allows users to easily understand and complete it via a mobile device.

5. Add inline form field labels

Inline field labels and text make it exceptionally easy for visitors to understand where they should be placing their responses in your forms. They take the guesswork out of which label belongs to which field, making it simple for visitors to move through the form without hesitation. They also keep your form looking clean, minimalist, clutter-free, and sleek.

Great example:

inline-form-fields-web-form

Source

Since these field labels are inline, the form looks simplistic and shorter than it would if the labels were located outside of the entry fields. Visitors will have no issue determining where they need to input their information. Sometimes when the field labels are located above, below, or to the side of the fields, it’s hard to determine which label belongs to which field.

6. Use inline error messages

Using inline error messages in web forms is an effective way to ensure someone understands there’s an issue with a field they tried completing. They also direct that visitor to the exact location of the error so there’s no time wasted determining where the problem is.

Once you create your inline messages, be sure to add some context about why the error exists and how your visitors can correct it. This not only saves your visitors time when fixing the error(s), but it also saves you and your fellow employees from having to work through invalid responses once the form’s submitted.

Great example:

In this form, the error message appears inline, meaning the invalid field is highlighted red. The form includes an error symbol next to the field to further highlight the fact there’s an issue and where the issue is located. Lastly, the message explains why the error exists and how to fix it.

Back To You

With a successful web form layout, you’ll create a great user experience for your visitors that’ll leave a positive, lasting impression on them. Your layout should streamline the form completion and submission processes for your visitors so there isn’t any confusion or uncertainty regarding the form itself. Get started improving your form’s layout today by thinking about these practices and how you can incorporate them into your own forms to enhance UX and boost your conversions.

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The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Own App

In 2018, US adults spent an average of three and a half hours on their phone every single day. What were they doing on their phones for nearly half the work day? While texting, surfing the web, and checking email are the top three mobile activities, using apps is next on the list.

Whether it’s a social media, music, or ride hailing app, apps are specifically tailored for mobile devices, making it easier to connect, work, and stay informed. And the convenience of having access to all your loved ones and endless entertainment and information in your pocket drove more than 200 billion app downloads last year.

Needless to say, as people become more reliant on their mobile devices, developing a well thought-out app can compel your potential customers to interact with your brand more, rocketing you up to the top of their minds. To help you make a thoroughly designed and developed app, check out our ultimate guide to creating one today.

Click here to download a free, 5-part kit to help you grow your mobile  audience.

1. Research your market.

Odds are, your competitors will all have an app, or the app market you want to penetrate already has a lot of players in it. But don’t get discouraged by your market’s competitiveness. You have the last mover advantage, which means you can research each of your competitor’s apps and pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. This information can potentially enable you to make the best app in your market.

To conduct a full analysis on each of your competitor’s apps, consider downloading and examining each one. You should also read each app’s reviews and uncover what your potential customers like and dislike about them and use this information to drive your app’s design and functionality.

2. Determine the challenge your app solves.

If your app is a solution looking for a problem, it’ll never catch on. So make sure you have a clear understanding of your customers’ challenges and make a concerted effort to develop an app that solves them. These pain and pleasure points should inform exactly what your app does.

To fully grasp your customers’ problems and, in turn, the solutions they need, sit down with some of your most loyal customers and ask them what features would truly differentiate your app from the rest of the crowd.

3. Build your app’s wireframe.

A wireframe is like your app’s blueprint. It’ll display your app’s design and functionality, and help you understand what your app will look like and how it’ll work.

Your wireframe will be tremendously helpful when you actually need to design and develop your app because it will serve as your reference. If you need help building your app’s wireframe, check out the following wireframe tools:

4. Design your app.

Unless you’re a graphic designer, designing an app by yourself isn’t a good idea. Humans are visual beings, so striking the right balance between your app’s colors, fonts, and other design elements can be the difference between creating something that is everyone’s go-to-app and an app people delete within 10 minutes of their download.

Fortunately, there are two common options for working with professional designers:

Hire a freelancer.

Working directly with a designer can help you develop an app that can exceed even your own expectations. You have a vision for your app, and a freelancer has the skills to turn it into a reality. But they also know what’s feasible and what’s not, so they can collaborate with you to develop an app that’s rooted in reality and more user-friendly.

If you need help hiring a freelancer, check out a designer marketplace that connects brands with talent, like 99designs or Dribbble.

Hire an agency.

If your app is complex and needs a lot of expertise to develop, your best option is to hire an agency — they’ll build your app entirely from scratch. Out of all the ways you can develop an app, hiring an agency is the most expensive choice, but they can take care of every step of the app development process, from initial design to launch, which is incredibly convenient.

However, don’t just hand your agency your plans, disappear into the ether, and finally check back in on launch day. Make sure you’re involved in every step of development to ensure the agency is following your direction. Otherwise, they could spend all your resources building an app you don’t even recognize.

5. Test your design.

Before you spend a ton of time and money developing your app, you need to make sure your mockup design is actually usable. Identifying and fixing any early issues gives you the advantage of not having to overhaul the code of a poorly designed app that’s already built. It also allows you to release your app on schedule. If you bypass this step and move straight into development, you’ll most likely waste all your resources on building an app nobody likes.

To determine if your app is user-friendly, recruit colleagues to participate in a usability test. During a usability study, you’ll ask participants to complete a series of tasks while your teammates observes and takes notes. By watching actual users navigate your app and listening to their praises and concerns about it, you can see if people are actually able to complete your intended tasks as well as what they’re enjoying about your app’s user experience, what they don’t like about it, and what confuses them.

6. Develop your app.

After your app design passes a usability test, it’s time to develop it. At this stage of the app development process, you’ll hand over your design to your development team or a freelance developer.

From here, they’ll collaborate with your design team or freelance designer to solve any problems they run into during the development process and keep your app’s intended functionality and design on track.

7. Test your app.

Now that you have a fully functional and visually appealing app, it’s time to conduct a final usability test with another group of colleagues. By discovering any bugs you might have overlooked or some new ways to enhance your app, you’ll be able to make the crucial last tweaks to your final product.

8. Launch a beta version of your app.

Launching a beta version of your app attracts early adopters, which is a crucial step in the taking your app mainstream. Early adopters can provide a lot of helpful feedback about your app’s pros and cons, and their experience with and pending endorsement of your app is vital for determining whether or not the majority of your market will accept it. This potential support and word-of-mouth marketing for your app will bolster its reputation and help you acquire even more users.

9. Launch your app.

You’ve designed, tested, and developed your app. Now it’s time to launch it. If you want to launch your app in Google Play Store, they don’t require any review of new apps, so all you have to do is upload your app file into the store. IOS reviews every new app before they offer it to iPhone users in the app store, but if you follow their guidelines, your app should get accepted.

After you launch your app, the next step is marketing it. If no one knows what your app is, no one will download it. To spread the word about your app and convince people to download it, consider creating videos of your app’s functionality and advertise them on social media with a link to your app. This’ll give people a glimpse of what your app actually does and how it can benefit their lives.

free guide: guide to mobile marketing

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