HubSpot’s 5-Step Process to Fix Images With Facebook Debugger

With 2.4 billion monthly active users on Facebook, it’s important that your posts show up correctly in the newsfeed.

But we’ve all been there. You’re drafting a post and the wrong image shows up in the preview. Or worse, no image is showing up at all.

How can you fix this?

It’s actually an easy process. Using the Facebook debugger tool, you can ensure your social media posts are formatted properly.

Below, let’s review HubSpot’s step-by-step process for fixing images with the Facebook debugger tool.

What Is the Facebook Link Debugger?

The debugger tool allows you to see what information Facebook pulls for a specific URL. For instance, if you want to share a blog post, you can use the debugger tool to see what image, preview text, and title will show up in the newsfeed.

As a marketer, you write and promote blog posts often. However, understanding the code or how your blog page is built is a different matter.

Have you ever posted a blog on Facebook and the incorrect image or no image at all shows up in the preview? That’s because your blog page doesn’t have open graph tags (the meta title, description, and image) set up correctly.

The Facebook debugger tool simplifies this process, so all you need to do is communicate the issues found on the debugger tool with the developer and let them know that the errors. For example, it could be something like this, “the og:image tag is pointing to the wrong URL.” The tool facilitates the conversation between you as a marketer and your web engineers.

Now that we’ve explained the purpose of this tool, let’s dive into how you use it.

How to Use Facebook’s Link Debugger

Using the debugger tool is simple. Below is HubSpot’s five-step process:

1. Paste the URL in the debugger tool.

To begin, copy the URL of the blog post and enter it into the debugger tool. Then, click “Debug.”

Once you click “Debug,” you will see the information Facebook will use when posted on its platform.

For example, below I’ve pasted in a link to a HubSpot blog post.

Facebook debugger tool homepage.

2. Review the information and any error codes.

After you hit “Debug”, the tool will give you the information that it will use when posted to its platform. Plus, it also gives a preview so you can see if your image will post correctly.

If everything is as expected, then you’re good to go.

If not, you might experience a few errors on this page. Facebook will put errors in a “Warnings That Should Be Fixed” section at the top of the page.

You could encounter errors like:

  • Missing images: Facebook can’t find an image and guesses which one to use.
  • Old images: Facebook is showing an old image.
  • Image resolution: The image is missing due to image size and resolution.
  • Incorrect images: Facebook is pulling the wrong image.

There are also other errors you could get surrounding open graph tags, but for the focus of this blog, we’ll only touch on images. As an aside, to fix these issues, you’ll want to include open graph tags in your coding for the post. Communicate any issues with the open graph tags to your web developer.

In the example below, you can see that there’s a warning, but since it doesn’t have to do with the image, we’ll ignore it. Below the warning, you can see the link preview. In this case, Facebook is pulling the correct image. After the preview, you’ll find the open graph data including title, meta description, and image link.

Facebook debugger tool showcases warnings and errors in post.
Facebook debugger tool portrays post preview so you can ensure everything looks accurate.
Facebook debugger tool shows issues with open graph tags.

3. Fix the issues.

If your images aren’t displaying correctly, you should be able to easily fix the issue. Below we’ll break down the common issues and how to fix them.

Missing Images

If Facebook can’t find your image, it might be because you didn’t make it your “Featured Image” in your CSM.

To correct this, check that your image is uploaded to your CSM.

Old Images

Sometimes Facebook will pull up old images because it can’t see the new one. This happens due to caching issues in your browser or content management system.

To fix this, clear your cache in your CSM, Facebook, and browser.

Image Size & Resolution

Your image could be missing due to image size and resolution. If you see an error regarding the “og:image” property, it typically means your image is too small. The minimum Facebook size is 200×200 pixels and the minimum resolution is 600×315.

Wrong Image on Page

If you have multiple images on your blog post, Facebook might pull the wrong image as the featured image.

When this happens, you need to edit the meta tag in the backend of your blog post (the HTML coding).

To do this, go to the HTML code, find the open graph tags, and edit the “og:image” tag to ensure it’s pointing to the URL of the correct featured image.

4. Scrape the URL again.

When you’ve gone through and fixed the issue, go back to the debugger tool and click, “Scrape Again.”

This will force Facebook to update your page in its cache.

Once it scrapes again, check the preview link and ensure your image is showing up how you want.

The debugger tool will list the time of the latest scrape and any errors that occurred during that process. The image below shows what that will look like.

Facebook debugger tool showcases what time a URL was scraped.

5. Share your post.

If there are no more errors, you’re ready to share your post! Go back into Facebook, input your URL, and check out the link preview.

Ensuring your social media posts look right is an important aspect of planning a social media campaign. If you’re having trouble getting the right information to display, you can guarantee the right title, description, and image with open graph tags.

Learn more about open graph tags here.

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Author: Rebecca White

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The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Complete Marketing Strategy in 2019

How many times have you seen a killer marketing campaign and thought to yourself, “Wow, I wish I would’ve thought of that!”

(Glossier, I’m looking at you.)

We’ve all been there.

The truth is, when you’re just starting out, it can be tough to know whether your strategy is as comprehensive and powerful as it could be.

To help ease some of that uncertainty, we’ve created this guide that’ll show you step-by-step how to create a marketing strategy that leaves no stone unturned.

Let’s dive into the five critical components of a complete marketing strategy in 2019, followed by some examples for further inspiration.

1. Create buyer personas.

If you can’t define who your audience is in one sentence, now’s the chance to do it. A buyer persona is an example of your ideal customer.

For example, a store like Macy’s could define a buyer persona as Budgeting Belinda, a stylish working-class woman in her 30’s living in a suburb, looking to fill her closet with designer deals at low prices.

With this description, Macy’s Marketing department can picture Budgeting Belinda and work with a clear definition in-mind.

Buyer personas have critical demographic and psychographic information — including age, job title, income, location, interests, and challenges. Notice how Belinda has all of those attributes in her description.

You don’t have to create your buyer persona with a pen and paper. In fact, HubSpot offers a free template you can use to make your own (and it’s really fun). Buyer personas should be at the core of building your strategy.

2. Identify goals and tools.

Your marketing strategy goals should coincide with your business goals. For example, if one of your business goals is to have 300 people attend your annual conference in three months, your goal as a marketer should be along the lines of boosting online RSVPs by 10% at the end of the month.

Once you have your goals identified, make sure you have the right tools to measure the success of those goals. Online software like social media schedulers gives you analytics to help you keep track of what your audience likes and doesn’t. Alternatively, you might consider Google Analytics to measure blog and web page performance.

Additionally, it will be helpful if you make your goals SMART — to do so, take a look at How to Write a SMART Goal [+ Free SMART Goal Template].

3. Account for existing resources.

Decide what you already have in your arsenal that can help you create your strategy. To streamline this process, think of your assets in three categories — paid, owned, and earned media.

Recall that paid media means any channel you spend money on to attract your target audience. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn offer paid media options that boost your exposure.

Owned media is any of the media you create — blog posts, ebooks, images, and infographics that your marketing team has created are examples of owned media.

Earned media is another way to say user-generated content. Shares on social media, tweets about your business, and photos posted on Instagram mentioning your company are all examples of earned media.

Gather your materials in these areas and consolidate them all in a single vehicle so you’ll have a clear vision of what you have and how you can integrate the three channels together to maximize your strategy.

For example, if you already have a blog that’s rolling out weekly content in your niche (owned media), you might consider promoting your blog posts on Twitter (paid media), which customers’ might then re-tweet (earned media). Ultimately, that will help you create a better, more well-rounded strategy.

The free option? Tweet it from your company’s Twitter or post it on Instagram and use relevant hashtags to spread it.

If you have resources that don’t fit into your goals, nix it. This is a great time to clean house or identify gaps in your materials.

4. Audit and plan media campaigns.

Cleaning house segues straight into this step. Now, you must decide which content is going to help you. Focus on your owned media and marketing goals. For instance, will updating the CTAs at the end of your blog posts help you increase RSVPs to your event?

Next, look at your buyer personas. Let’s say you work for a video editing software company. If one of your persona’s challenges is adding clean sound effects to their videos but you don’t have any content that reflects that, make a 15-second demo video for Instagram to show how great your product is at solving that challenge.

Finally, create a content creation plan. The plan should include the title, goals, format, and channel for each piece of content. Be sure to include which challenge it’s solving for your buyer persona.

For ideas on content creation or a more in-depth look at how to create a content plan, check out our post, The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation.

5. Bring it to fruition

Finally, we’re at the last step. First, let’s go over what you should have by this point:

1. Buyer persona(s).

2. Specific marketing goals that coincide with your business goals.

3. Existing paid, owned, and earned media inventory.

4. An audit of a media campaign.

At this point, your market research and planning should help you visualize how your strategy will be executed (and by which teams).

The final step is to bring that all together — to put actions into your planning. Create a document that maps out the steps you need to take to execute your campaign. In other words, define your strategy.

Think long-term when creating this document. A standard strategy document is 12 months. This structured timeline should be the home base for your strategic marketing efforts.

To paint an example, let’s go back to the video software company.

Maybe in January, you will launch a software update that improves the exportation process for users. In April, you want to publish an ebook that explains editing terms to your buyer personas, and in September, you plan to launch an integration with other software.

Remember, your digital strategy is unique to your business, so the document should be, as well. As long as the strategy includes all of the necessary information, you’ll be all set to take your company’s brand from okay to outstanding.

Now that we’ve explored five critical steps of a complete marketing strategy, let’s look at some “Why didn’t I think of that?” strategies to inspire your own.

Examples of Successful Marketing Strategies

1. Regal Movies

Digital strategy: Owned media

Regal Movies took the Halloween spirit to a new level, even re-naming their Twitter to reflect the spirit of the season. This “Monster Madness” poll is a fun, interactive way to get followers invested in Regal’s content:

Regal Movies' owned media

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Regal’s tweet is an example of owned media because the company was in full control of the answers followers gave (and, apparently, American Werewolf didn’t stand a chance). Regal effectively kept true to their brand by using only classic movies in their poll,, while still putting a modern spin on it.

This is also a good example of how retweets don’t necessarily equal success. While four retweets isn’t that big of a deal, check out the votes: 461. That means there were over 400 interactions with a single tweet.

2. Taco Bell

Digital strategy: User-generated content, earned media

Real love is taking your engagement photos at your favorite fast food Mexican restaurant — right? User-generated content is one of the best ways to gain traction in your strategy — it demonstrates your appreciation for loyal customers, and also incentivizes other users’ to promote your products for the chance at a similar shout-out. Plus, sometimes the content your brand-lovers create is really, really good:

It’s not every day someone takes engagement photos at a fast-food restaurant, and Taco Bell jumped at this earned media opportunity. Earned media is at work here because this couple is saying they love baja blasts and crunchwraps as much as they love each other — so it must be delicious.

3. Small Girls PR

Digital strategy: Event marketing

Wait, is that Keke Palmer?

Small Girls PR is a boutique PR company based in New York, and one of the company’s talents is throwing amazing events for their clients, like Olay. This event recap carousel on Instagram is an effective event marketing example.

Event marketing is a fantastic opportunity to boost awareness for your brand. Not every business needs to throw lavish events, either. Event marketing can be as simple as the last company outing you had at your team’s favorite brewery.

Posting a quick recap on Instagram sheds light on your business’s culture, and demonstrates your appreciation for your employees’, ideally incentivizing others to apply.

4. Diesel Cafe

Digital strategy: Word of mouth

Boston-local cafe Diesel Cafe is more than just a great location to get vegan bagels. It also rocks at word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, Diesel even has a website dedicated to it — a place where fans can submit letters about the fun times they’ve had at the cafe:

Check your company’s Yelp climate. Are people giving you nice reviews? Showcasing some of them on your social channels is an effective opportunity to provide social proof that your products or services are a worthwhile investment, since people typically trust peers more than ads.

5. Target

Digital strategy: Paid media, Twitter cards

If you’ve got the budget for paid media, take full advantage of it. Paid media is when you pay social channels, like Twitter, to promote your content on their site. By doing this, your content reaches new audiences you might not be able to reach organically:

An inclusive ad from Target about fall shopping uses Twitter cards to promote their brand and offer easier ways to shop — simply click on the photo, and you’re redirected to a purchase page. More social channels are offering ways for shoppers to purchase in-app or close to it, driving sales and boosting exposure for brands.

Ultimately, creating a complete marketing strategy isn’t something that can happen overnight. It takes time, hard work, and dedication to ensure you’re reaching your ideal audience, whenever and wherever they want to be reached. Stick with it (and use some of the resources we’ve included in this post), and over time, research and customer feedback will help you refine your strategy to ensure you’re spending most of your time on the marketing channels your audience cares most about.


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Author: Kayla Carmicheal

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How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn, According to LinkedIn’s VP of Marketing

As a marketer, you’re undoubtedly aware of some of the major social media sites you can use for lead generation.

I’m willing to bet you’ve already heard about the importance of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter — and if you use all three as part of your lead generation strategy, you might think you’re all set.

But if you’re not using LinkedIn as a lead generation tool, you could be missing out on a major opportunity to grow both brand recognition and revenue.

In fact, studies have shown that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.

This makes sense. Consider the average Instagram user — scrolling through her feed, liking photos of her friend’s beach vacation and her sister’s bridal shower, and occasionally using the platform to find and purchase products.

Alternatively, the average LinkedIn user is on the site specifically for professionally-geared content. They’re already seeking out information to help grow their businesses. If you can provide them with high-quality content, it becomes much easier to convert.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, particularly when trending content on LinkedIn ranges from SEO to customer acquisition to goal-setting. Without a clear strategy in mind, the task of lead generation on LinkedIn can feel challenging.

Justin Shriber, Vice President of Marketing at LinkedIn, was interviewed as part of HubSpot’s new campaign, “Advertising, a Look Behind the Screens“. Take a look at the full interview series here, or keep reading to learn some of his key insights regarding lead generation and building a brand across the platform.

Shriber’s Steps for Growing a Brand and Generating Leads on LinkedIn

1. Make sure your executives have a strong LinkedIn presence.

When you’re first getting started on LinkedIn, it can be tricky to know where to dedicate your initial efforts. Should you create a compelling LinkedIn Page, and immediately start posting content to your business’s feed?

Maybe, instead, you should start by posting all your job openings to attract new talent?

Shriber suggests another strategy: “We definitely want to fuel the growth of small businesses that have aspirations to grow to become larger, and we put together a playbook that allows them to do that. The playbook always starts with the individual LinkedIn profiles of the employees at the company, and in particular, the executives at the company.”

“[Executives are] trendsetters. They can make statements about what they stand for, and in many cases, develop a strong following in relatively short order.”

Consider the leaders at your company and their current LinkedIn presence. Could they contribute more thoughtfully to LinkedIn groups within your industry, or post more often to their feeds? More likely than not, your executives could be doing more to grow their LinkedIn following.

For instance, let’s take a look at Sallie Krawcheck’s LinkedIn activity:

Krawcheck is CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, and a powerful leader in the financial industry.

Krawcheck uses LinkedIn wisely, leveraging the platform to promote content from her own investment company, while also liking or sharing other relevant financial content geared towards women.

Ultimately, Krawcheck uses LinkedIn to build a personal brand and help her followers find useful content related to investing and women in finance. Ideally, your own executives should be doing the same.

2. Create a powerful LinkedIn Page for your business.

Once you’ve ensured your own executives have a strong LinkedIn presence, it’s time to cultivate an impressive page.

You’ll want to ensure your page is active, with thought-provoking content and contributions to conversations already happening on LinkedIn.

Shriber notes — “Once you’ve got a strategy related to your executives and their presence on LinkedIn, step two is to think about the presence of your company on LinkedIn. We have a product called LinkedIn Pages, which has been incredibly powerful for businesses that want to establish their place in the world’s professional community.”

“[LinkedIn Pages is] a free product,” Shriber adds, “and really, at the end of the day, it’s a place for you to stage the content that you have to offer, and really promote all of the benefits that you have for people that want to follow you.”

He continues, “So, when you come to a good LinkedIn Page, you’ll find information about what the company does, but beyond that, some of the thought leadership that’s happening. There will be video content as well as the written word, commentary from executives, but also in many cases, information that’s curated from other sources. It doesn’t just need to be from the marketing group or from an internal source.”

To ensure your page is strong, consider posting a variety of content, including video. Additionally, follow the page analytics closely to figure out what content resonates with your audience.

It’s equally critical you use LinkedIn to join communities and have conversations with other professionals in your industry. LinkedIn, at its core, is a social platform like any other. If you don’t engage with your followers and follow trending articles related to your business, you’ll lose out on making meaningful connections.

If you post an article once a week and then log out, you haven’t leveraged LinkedIn for all it has to offer. Instead, you should be learning from others in your industry to further inspire better content and connect more closely with the prospects you’re hoping to attract.

3. Use paid products to ensure your content reaches your intended audience.

Businesses with small marketing budgets may be wary to put money behind paid campaigns on LinkedIn. They often ask– we have a small marketing budget and we want to use it wisely. Where should we spend it?

Remember, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. And, ultimately, using LinkedIn’s paid products will help your brand and content appear in prospects feeds.

Shriber told me, “Once you’ve built that strong LinkedIn Page, companies tend to realize that that audience that’s consuming information is incredibly valuable, and it’s different than what they’re finding on other platforms.”

He adds, “We have a series of paid products that you can then move into that allow you to insert content into the LinkedIn feed. Now you’ve got a series of followers or you’ve got a set of targeted members that you care about. Suddenly, they’re seeing your content appear in the feed itself and there are some really rich ways to turn that engagement into actual activity.”

LinkedIn can help you convert prospects faster, with limited friction. For instance, on one of your paid ads, your prospects might have the option to immediately fill out a form or respond to an event. Since their information is already saved on LinkedIn, it’s a one-touch process for them. Best of all, it provides your sales team with invaluable data related to their industry and how you might best serve their professional needs.

4. Ensure you have strong sales and marketing alignment.

You’re likely all too familiar with the recent shift in consumer buying behavior. Nowadays, customers are researching online ahead of time and typically use marketing content to help inform their purchasing decision before even reaching out to a sales rep.

Shriber describes the shift like this: “What you’re seeing now, is consumers are becoming more savvy about learning about products and services that they need and progressing deep into the sales process before they reach out, raise their hand, and say that they need help.”

He adds, “It’s becoming incumbent upon marketing to really meet the needs of customers that are investigating and exploring, and then seamlessly handing that off to salespeople so sales has context on the journey customers have already traveled.”

Additionally, he notes: “Salespeople, in many respects, are [also] becoming brand experts.”

“I’ve got a number of customers that have come to me and said, my salespeople know my target customers better than my marketing group. They’ve been in the business for 20 years, and they know all the key people, so I’m going to use them to create awareness, build a brand in a way that historically has been reserved for marketing.”

On the flip side, of course, marketers are playing a more heavy role in closing a deal. Shriber told me, “Imagine, for example, that you’re procurement and you’re trying to negotiate a contract. Historically, that’s been the domain of a sales professional, but today, savvy marketers know that that’s where you are in the sales process.”

Shriber adds, “They’re able to target that procurement person, send in some relevant content related to validation of the solution, why it’s valuable, what other customers are saying about it, and all of a sudden, that marketer has played a key role in getting the deal closed.”

All of which is to say — it’s absolutely critical you align your sales and marketing teams, since they play equally valuable parts in finding prospects and closing deals, and they overlap more heavily now than ever before.

To figure out strategies for better aligning your sales and marketing departments, take a look at this Ultimate Guide to Sales and Marketing.

Ultimately, if you aren’t using LinkedIn or aren’t using it often, you’re likely missing out on major opportunities to grow your business. As Shriber told me, “We’ve really tried to think through the full spectrum of what you might care about, from building a brand to generating leads, whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise — and we built playbooks that address you where you are, and help you to get where you’re going.”

Learn more from Justin Shriber and other advertising leaders by accessing an exclusive interview series with LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook.

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Author: Caroline Forsey

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How 10 Companies Use Twitter’s Unique Features for Growth

Twitter is an undeniably popular social network — in fact, the social site is ranked as the 7th most visited website in the world.

Additionally, 88% of medium-sized businesses use Twitter for marketing purposes.

You likely already know about the power of Twitter for marketing. However, there are a number of unique features on the platform you might not know about that can strengthen your Twitter strategy.

For instance — you might know about Trending Topics, but did you know you can figure out which topics are trending in your own personalized social networks, rather than across the web as a whole? Alternatively, how often have you used Twitter polls to engage and connect with your audience?

To ensure you’re using Twitter in the most meaningful way possible, we’ve created this list filled with examples of how 10 companies use Twitter to reach and engage with both new and existing audiences. Let’s dive in, now.

This blog content is a taste of what you’ll find in the HubSpot Academy Twitter Marketing Strategy course. If you like what you read, you can take the full, free course here.

1. Create content that aligns with trending topics.

First, let’s consider the trending topics feature on Twitter. These trending topics are configured based on your personal preferences.

There are a couple of choices you can make — you can choose to see everything from your country, everything from a certain city, or you can even choose tailored preferences (also called “Trends for You”) which relies on the Twitter algorithm to show what’s trending from the people you follow and their Twitter communities.

If you choose to follow “Trends for You”, you’re more likely to see tweets based upon subjects you prefer, since presumably you follow people who like similar topics.

There are two ways to take advantage of trending topics. One great way is to plan ahead. It may seem funny to plan ahead for something that’s trending, but on Twitter there are a number of things that trend at certain times. That could include holidays, certain TV shows or movies, or even hashtags like #MondayMotivation.

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Here are a couple of examples of how Skittles takes advantage of trending topics. They have clearly planned ahead for these particular days to create content that is more likely to trend:

Screen Shot 2019-10-15 at 2.33.05 PM

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As another example, the team at G Fuel uses trending topics to create conversation.

Patrick Curran, the director of social media at G Fuel, explains — “I love to hop on other conversations and threads from other companies, and trending topics that don’t mention us or our name whatsoever.”

Curran says, “It gives us the ability to become a name in a thread that, again, doesn’t have anything to do with us, but that gives us great exposure. If it’s a comment that someone likes, we just gained a fan. So it has everything to do with interacting with other threads, interacting with other companies. That’s how you get your name out there.”

Two sites that can help you find what’s trending beyond what you’re seeing on the Twitter platform itself include Trendsmap and Trends24.

2. Live-tweet during major events.

Another popular Twitter action that goes hand-in-hand with trending topics is the idea that you can live-tweet during a certain event. This could be something like tweeting during a sports event or TV show.

Live-tweeting can also be extremely beneficial if you’re attending an event with your company or if you’re hosting an event. It allows you to bring people who aren’t there into the conversation.

Here’s a great example of how SEMRush combined live-tweeting at INBOUND with some prepared material to share with the audience who couldn’t attend the conference:

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One tip is to make sure that you are being thoughtful of your audience and don’t go too overboard with live-tweeting at a conference or an event, because you may turn a few people off if you’re bombarding them. Leave some intervals in-between your tweets.

3. Use gifs available in the Twitter platform, or create your own.

Companies should really be jumping on the animated gif bandwagon. You can use the Giphy gifs that are available in the Twitter platform.

Alternatively, you can create your own, which is what many brands choose to do so they’re not diluting their brand with other people’s content. Here’s an example of how HubSpot creates its own gif to draw attention to HubSpot’s Support team:

However, I would challenge brands to consider using popular gifs or gifs that align with pop culture, because it creates a connection with your audience in a way that you may not be able to do with your own branded gif.

SmallBizLady, Melinda Emerson tells us — “On Twitter, animated gifs rule. So, I think any time you can respond to someone with an animated gif, or put an animated gif on a blog post that you got, people love that. People love to laugh. People love to be entertained, so you can’t go wrong.”

For instance, check out this branded gif from Kate Spade:

Alternatively, some brands don’t use gifs in the tweets in their main feed, but they’ll use animated gifs in their responses, such as this example from G Fuel:

4. Use Twitter polls to engage with your audience.

Twitter polls is another effective feature that can get the conversation flowing.

For instance, HubSpot uses Twitter polls to both educate and engage its audience:

Additionally, T-Mobile uses polls to have fun with their fans:

Take a look at How to Use Twitter Polls to Engage Your Audience: 13 Examples From Real Brands to learn more about Twitter’s poll feature.

5. Use Twitter Moments to compile multiple tweets.

Next are Twitter Moments, which is a feature that is often underutilized.

Social media strategist Dhariana Lozano tells us — “Companies can really take advantage of Twitter Moments. Twitter Moments allows you to take up to 10 tweets and compile them into one continuous story. It’s when you go on Twitter and you see the trending topics, and you can click on them, and there’s multiple tweets attached to them. That’s what a Twitter Moment is, and you can create one for your brand.”

Lozano adds, “There are lots of ways to use them. Think about event recaps, Twitter chat recaps. Even if you have 10 tips that you can put together as a resource for your brand, that is a great way to put Twitter Moments to use.”

Here’s a wonderful example from General Electric, which put together a Twitter Moment to demonstrate how technology and fashion coincide for the Met Gala:

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If you’re interested in creating your own Twitter moment, take a look at How to Create a Twitter Moment: A Step-by-Step Guide.

6. Consider implementing video and live broadcasts on Twitter.

While putting together our Twitter course, all of our influencers talked about the power of video. It can be used to inform, educate, and entertain — additionally, it’s often a preferred method of consuming content.

You might not realize this, but you can use video content on Twitter to engage with an audience. Check out this example from Intel, which uses video to provide information about one of their newest products:

Additionally, let’s talk about how you can create live broadcasts on Twitter. We asked Twitter expert Madalyn Sklar about going live on the platform:

“Twitter Live is a great feature, but it’s highly underutilized. I think people forget that there is a live button when you’re composing a tweet, and some people say, ‚Äė’Well, why would I do a live video? What’s the purpose?’ Video is a great way to connect with your community, and so doing this live allows you to talk to them in real time.”

Sklar adds, “When you’re broadcasting live, you’ll see all the comments, you’ll see the conversation happening, and you can actually talk to people and it makes for a really fun way to converse with your community.”

There are two ways you can go live on Twitter. The first is through your smartphone. You can start a broadcast from Twitter’s Periscope app or the Twitter app. Once you’re live, anyone on Twitter and in Periscope can join the live video and see your experience. Best of all, the video will show up at the top of your news feed if people go to your profile.

Alternatively, you can use Twitter’s Periscope Producer Platform, which enables you to create higher-quality video with professional-grade cameras or multiple cameras. There are a lot of brands and media organizations that use Periscope producer for their content.

7. Don’t forget about text.

In the midst of all of the different kinds of content that you can create on Twitter, it’s vital you don’t forget about text. There is a ton of power in the text posts that you share on Twitter. In fact, you can have a successful Twitter strategy that relies primarily on text.

Ana Filipovic from Motley Fool explains — “If you look at our Twitter account right now, we’re using a lot of post text, a lot of polls, a lot of questions to engage with our followers because we really want to have that conversation with them and we really want to be positioned as a thought leader in the industry. In order to grow to that point, we’ve employed different tactics that did include linking to our articles, CTAs, and videos and images — all those things you use when you want to grow your business.”

“If you check out our account maybe in six months, we might be using a different strategy and that’s the beauty of social media. It really gives you the opportunity to try out different things and see what works best with your audience.”

Ultimately, you’ll want to test these unique features to see what resonates best with your audience. As you can see, there are a lot of options for the kinds of content you can share on Twitter. You are only limited by your own imagination, so start brainstorming and get creating!

Take our full Twitter Strategy course here.

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35 Office Costume Ideas for Marketing Nerds & Tech Geeks

Halloween is a fun holiday, and it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It doesn’t have recognizable songs or vacation days associated with it, and it falls on a busy time of year for most people in the workforce.

But that doesn’t mean you should skip the festivities at your office Halloween celebration.

How many days of the year are you encouraged to dress up and goof around at work? Probably just one — Halloween — and even then, it can be hard to know what’s office-appropriate.

We want you to have fun this Halloween, so we’re taking the work out if it for you. We’ve compiled a list of DIY Halloween costume ideas that are easy to put together, inexpensive, and perfect for the digital marketer or tech professional.

If your family and friends don’t get your costume, your colleagues definitely will.

29 Office Costume Ideas for Marketing Nerds & Tech Geeks

Computer or App-Related Costumes

1. Alt Text

Alt text isn’t just the metadata of an image published on the web — you could also say it’s an “alternative” fashion statement with the text to describe the era. This was HubSpot Director of Content Corey Wainwright’s office Halloween costume a few years ago. It’s great because you don’t even look dressed up if you have a casual office dress code, so you can just blend in.

To dress as alt text this halloween, break out your best 90s alternative garb — our coworker Corey went with black jeans, combat boots, and a flannel. Then, tape hyphenated text that best describes what you’re wearing, much like an image of your outfit would do online to help search engines read the file.

We edited a sash of alt text on to the alternatively dressed girl below, just to help you picture your awesome costume.

Computer costume of girl in 90s alternative outfit with alt text written across her shirtSource: That’s Life

2. SEO Ninja

Speaking of dorking out on SEO, you could be everyone’s favorite LinkedIn title — the SEO ninja. Dress in all black, buy a black ski mask, and tape keywords all over yourself. Voila … you’re an actual ninja — just one much more concerned with search engine optimization than lurking in the darkness.

seo-ninja-costumeSource: Pinterest

3. Mobile App

Wander around holding an appetizer — candy, cheese and crackers, chips and dip … whatever you have on hand. Boom. You’re a mobile “app.”

This costume also doubles as a great way to introduce yourself and make friends at a party.

mobile-app-costume.pngSource: Opportunity Max

4. Instagrammer

Want another way to turn handing out food into a costume? Dress up like a hipster and hand out graham crackers. You’re an “instant” “gram” cracker server — or, for short, an Instagrammer. Pun absolutely intended.

5. Ghostwriter

Have you ever written something for somebody else’s byline? Such is the life of a “ghostwriter.” Turn your author-less accomplishment into this year’s office Halloween costume.

To dress up as a ghostwriter, grab a white sheet and cut a hole for your head and arms. Dob some black ink spots on the sheet, get a book and one of those feather quills (or just get a feather, I suppose), and boo — you’re a ghostwriter.


6. Whitespace

Whitespace on the internet might just denote all the blank space you use to help your design stand out, but on Halloween, “whitespace” isn’t just the absence of space.

Dress in all white — add white face paint and a white wig if you’re ultra-committed. Then add a hint of color somewhere on the outfit, like a colored tie or scarf, or even a paint splotch. That color splotch will make the white space more prominent, transforming you into “whitespace.”

7. Error 404 Code

You’ve most likely encountered a funny error 404 page before, and you can make it a funny costume, too. Grab a sheet of paper, write “Error 404: Costume Not Found,” and tape it to your outfit.


A photo posted by RachAel Klopfenstein (@theklopf) on Sep 5, 2015 at 12:33pm PDT

8. (Monty) Python

If you’re into programming code, British comedy, and low-effort costumes, being (Monty) Python is perfect. Dress up in anything remotely snakelike in your closet: olive green clothing, snakeskin accessories, and fake vampire teeth that can serve as your fangs.

Then, to amp up the dork factor on this costume, add two coconuts or a gold chalice to embody Monty Python on his quest for the Holy Grail.

9. Facebook

Grab face paint or eyeliner and write “book” across your cheeks. Just like that, you’re the world’s biggest social network for Halloween.

And for your sake, we hope your colleagues actually get it:

Halloween-Jim_Bookface-Jim.jpgSource: AndPop

10. Unicorn

Here’s another tech-friendly, double-entendre costume: Be your own version of a tech unicorn. Here at HubSpot, we love this tech icon, and you can easily make your own version of a unicorn horn with help from this article.

aid2617087-v4-900px-Make-a-Unicorn-Horn-Step-10-Version-3.jpgSource: WikiHow

11. Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are nothing to joke about — they can seriously threaten your technology and data security. But on Halloween, you can dress up as a play on phishing emails for an easy DIY costume. All you need are a stick, a piece of string, and an envelope. Bonus points if you own a bucket hat and vest to complete the ensemble. Check out an amusing version of this costume below.

Email phishing Halloween costume with fishing rod with Passwords label as baitSource: Car and Driver

12. Copycat

“CNTRL + C” is the popular keyboard macro allowing you to copy items from one place to another on your computer. Well, here’s a technology spin on a classic Halloween costume. All you’ll need are cat ears, eyeliner-drawn whiskers, and a sheet of paper. Write “CNTRL + C” on the paper, tape it to your outfit, and you’re a “copycat.”

Girl in copycat Halloween costume with black cat makeup and CNTRL + C labeled necklaceSource: BuzzFeed

13. The Blue Screen of Death

You know the screen, even if you don’t know the morbid nickname the tech world has given it. This classic error screen is known for signaling the end of a computer’s useful life, and you know it when you see it. It causes so much stress on site, in fact, that the color alone is scary enough for October 31.

Believe it or not, there are official T-shirts you can get with the blue screen of death copy printed on them. Want to make your own? All you need is a royal blue t-shirt and a printed version of this horrifying error message to pin to it.

T-shirt with Blue Screen of Death error message printed on itSource: Spreadshirt

14. GPS Costume

This will work best with two people. You can cut a Point A and Point B pin shape out of cardboard, paint both red, and simply write A and B on it. From there, you can personalize the costume whichever way you’d like. You can even get more intricate by finding a T-Shirt with a map on it.¬†

GPS office costume

Source: Pinterest

15. Dead Battery and Low Wi-Fi 

Nothing is more terrifying than a dead battery or no Wi-Fi. This costume brings all of techy’s fears to life. It’s also pretty simple to create. Just tape or glue images of dead Wi-Fi and low battery signals on to a black shirt. To emphasize the low-connectivity fears, put on some zombie or skeleton makeup.¬†

Although this can work as a couples costume, this could also be a fun option for office colleagues. Since both costumes within the set don’t rely on each other to be understandable, an individual could also wear either the Dead Battery outfir or the No-Wi-Fi suit and still be easily recognized.

Dead Battery and Low Wi-Fi Halloween Costume

Source: Pinterest

Emoji Costumes

16. Information Desk Girl

This genius professional found a golden (or, rather, purple) opportunity to be the “information desk emoji, the many gestures of whom we’ve all come to know, love, and use at some point in a text conversation.

The best part about this awesome tech reference is that you don’t need to alter your regular attire to make it work. As Naomi shows us below, it’s all in the hand gestures.

17. Dancing Girls Emoji

If you’re the owner of one of the nearly more than 1 billion Apple iPhones sold worldwide, you’re probably familiar with the dancing girls emoji, shown below.

The easiest version of this costume is to find a buddy and dress all in black together. If you’re committed to emoji authenticity, buy black bunny ears to complete the look.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 2.13.14 PM.pngSource: Brit + Co

18. Heart Eyes

Are you just in love with Halloween? Prove it with this passionate emoji face. You don’t have to paint your entire face, chin to hairline, to get the Heart Eyes Emoji just right, but it certainly helps. It’ll also disguise your stress when you’re at your most focused during the day.

“This employee just seems to love her job, I can’t put my finger on why,” your manager will think … See how to paint this emoji onto your face below (you’ll need some help for this one).

Topical Office Costumes

19. Fully Vested

At work, “fully vested” usually refers to one’s ability to earn all matching funds of a 401(k) retirement plan. But for some, you just can’t help but picture someone wearing lots of sleeveless jackets at the same time. Now’s the time to personify that image.

If you work in a company where people would get the joke, put on a bunch of vests (at least three, but even more is encouraged), and that’s about it. You’re fully vested.

20. Nerd

What I love about the nerd costume is that it’s effortless and always unique — there are many ways to be a nerd in this day and age. Are you a tech nerd, a video game nerd, or a book nerd? The sky is the limit with this costume. Show up wearing glasses with your favorite accessories, such as a magic wand, book, or lightsaber, to complete the effect.

Worlds cutest nerd costumes. Erin Harrison and Chandler Abney everyone!! ;) Follow me for my next Halloween costume!

Source: Pinterest

21. A Solar Eclipse

Last year, the solar eclipse took over the internet — and the country. As millions of people flocked to the path of totality to (hopefully) catch a glimpse of this rare event without burning their corneas, millions more made jokes about it on social media.

To dress up as a solar eclipse for Halloween, you’ll need a work pal to dress up as the sun and the moon with you. One of you wears black, the other wears yellow, and you both wear dark sunglasses. Then, at the Halloween party, the one dressed in black spends the whole time standing in front of the one in yellow.

Two girls dressed in solar eclipse costume at an officeSource: Pinterest

22. The ‘Evil Kermit’ Meme

If you haven’t heard of this mega-popular meme this year, you’ve probably seen it somewhere: It features Kermit the Frog, face-to-face with his evil twin, Evil Kermit. Evil Kermit looks identical, except for the black cloak.

For this costume, you and a coworker can keep it simple: You both wear green shirts, and one of you wears a black hoodie or jacket on top. If you really want to commit to the costume, you’ll spring for some green face paint to complete the ensemble. Walk around the party together, facing one another, for maximum effect.

evil kermit halloween.png

23. Fifty Shades of Grey: PG Paint Swatch Costume

Want to do something cheeky, but still office friendly? This is PG pun costume shares the name of a popular romantic novel and film, “50 Shades of Grey.”

Go to your local paint or hardware store and buy 50 grey paint swatches. Then, tape them to a black shirt and tell your colleagues you’re, “50 Shades of Grey.”¬†

50 Shades of Grey Pun Halloween Costume

Source: Fox 24 of Kansas City

24. The “But That’s None of My Business” Meme

If you love Kermit the Frog, but don’t have a colleague to team up with for the “Evil Kermit” costume, consider going solo with a costume based off of the “But That’s None of My Business” meme, where Kermit is seen judgmentally drinking coffee.

All you have to do is stick a pair of eyes on a green hoodie and start sipping your tea or coffee. For an added effect, you can cut a white photo frame to hold in front of you so you can look like an image posted on social media. 

But That's None of My Business Meme Halloween CostumeSource: Pinterest

25. Eleven from Stranger Things

Eleven from Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things is universally beloved, and it’s a bonus that her signature look is a comfortable and easy-to-assemble costume. Rock your best Eleven with a dress, a denim jacket, and a box of Eggo Waffles.

the-stranger-things-actress-behind-eleven-doesnt-love-eating-tons-of-eggo-waffles.pngSource: Business Insider

26. Scoops Ahoy Employee from Stranger Things

While Eleven, noted above, is an absolute classic Stranger Things character, 2019’s season inspired another great costume opportunity. During the newest installment of episodes, Stave, a main character played by Joe Keery, worked at an icecream shop called Scoops Ahoy. As a server, he had to wear a goofy sailor uniform alongside his coworker Robin.¬†

Since the season aired, the uniform has been regularly worn by cosplayers and at Comic Con as people mimic Steve and Robin.

Since it’s a pretty generic sailor uniform, you might be able to easily find one that’s similar in a variety of Halloween shops. This costume could work for both individuals or two colleagues.¬†

27. Pokémon GO Trainer

Pok√©mon GO had roughly 45 million people walking around in cities glued to their phones last summer (I, among them). To pay homage to the explosion of this tech trend, you’ll need a t-shirt that’s red, yellow, or blue. Using fabric paint or permanent marker, write Valor (for red), Instinct (for yellow), or Mystic (for blue) on your shirt.

Spend Halloween walking around pointing your phone at objects, and you’re the spitting image of a Pok√©mon GO trainer. Gotta catch ’em all, right?


A photo posted by Odinia (@marshmallowsie) on Aug 9, 2016 at 4:44pm PDT



Group Office Costumes

28. The Sales Lifecycle

At HubSpot, we love embracing team costumes. In 2018, a handful of HubSpot employees grabbed some T-Shirts and wrote the stages of the sales lifecycle on them. Then they lined up accordingly and passed a fake prospect listing around to symbolize the process of making a sale. This was such an easy costume to coordinate that the team could even include an out-of-office employee over a video call. 

HubSpot Employee sales cycle halloween costumeSource: Maggie Bomze, Principal Customer Success Manager of Strategic Accounts at HubSpot

29. Social Media Channels

While this Pinterest image shows classmates posting as the major social media networks, this could easily be modified to fit the office setting. 

Simply pick out a solid list of the hottest social networks, then by blank T-Shirts that match the colors of each platform. From there, you can either draw, tape or glue the logos on to each shirt. If you’re not interested in the tutus worn below, you could also find matching pants, or just wear jeans and keep things simple.

Social Media Network team costumes

Source: Pinterest

30. Google Algorithm Update

Find a couple of office buddies for this one — one panda, one penguin, and one pigeon. You might be thinking, “what the heck is the pigeon algorithm update?” 1) It’s a thing, and 2) we checked Amazon for hummingbird costumes and there aren’t any cheap ones available.

google-algorithm-update-halloween-costumes.jpgSource: Opportunity Max

31. Black Hat and White Hat SEO

This is another SEO-related costume, and I think you can figure this one out on your own. I recommend wearing a black hat for one, and a white hat for the other, and having “SEO” embroidered on each one — which you can easily custom order.

Black hat with SEO label on topSource: SEO-Hacker

32. Snapchat Filters

Here’s another group costume idea that pays tribute to Snapchat’s filters feature.

There are numerous options that you and your team can choose from to embody this costume. You could dress up as vomiting rainbows, cat and dog ears, a flower crown, or a face swap, and this could be as DIY or store-bought as you’re interested in pursuing. For example, here’s some inspiration for a couple of the dog filters:

snapchat filter team costumeSource: PopSugar

33. Snapchat Ghosts

Put a marketing spin on a classic Halloween costume by arriving as a Snapchat ghost. You’ll all need a white sheet and to pick which ghost you like the most.

Snapchat Ghost team halloween costumeSource: YouTube

34. PAC-MAN and Company

Here’s yet another awesome ghostly costume idea your whole team at work can get in on. Have your team lead wear the yellow pie-shaped garb of PAC-MAN, with each team member dressed as the multi-colored ghosts that roam the screen in this vintage arcade game.

Just make sure the team lead doesn’t actually try to eat the ghosts — you’re in an office, and you’re all technically on the same team.

Group costume with PAC-MAN, four ghosts and fruit from the vintage arcade gameSource: Meningrey

35. Instagram Filters

For this group costume, you’ll need white t-shirts and fabric markers. Draw an Instagram photo frame on the front of your shirts, and each team member can write a different Instagram filter‘s name inside the photo frame. Or, create frame props with different filters on them like the group did below:

Instagram Filter Halloween costumesSource: Nails Magazine

The clothes don’t make the marketer, but the costume can certainly make the culture at your company. Find out what it takes to hire and train the best fits for your open roles in the free ebook, available below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published October 21, 2018 but was updated in October of 2019 for comprehensiveness.

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15 Email Workflows You Should Be Using in Your Marketing Automation

Are your contacts going with the flow, or are they just sitting dormant in your marketing database? If you don’t have any automated email workflows set up, your answer is probably the latter — which means you’re missing out on some¬†major opportunities to nurture and engage your existing¬†contacts.

Did you know that¬†marketing automation can lead to a 14.5% increase in sales productivity? But wait … there’s more.

Lead nurturing campaigns¬†aren’t the only type of email¬†marketing automation¬†you can use to¬†get more out of your¬†contacts¬†database. Think¬†about the contacts¬†who are already your customers. Email automation can¬†not only help you convert leads into customers, but it¬†can also help you delight your existing customers and encourage activity like greater¬†product adoption, upsells, evangelism, and additional purchases.¬†

Email marketing automation is useful because it eliminates small but time consuming tasks, such as preparing email lists, sending generic messages, or scheduling events manually. This allows marketers and salespeople more time to work on more productive projects or bigger deals.

If you want to get more out of your contacts database, this post will give you some ideas for automated email workflows you can set up to engage and activate all different types of contacts in your database.

Setting Up Email Marketing Automation Workflows

If you hadn’t already guessed, email workflows need to be set up using marketing automation software. Different software providers will have different features and functionality, but the concept of marketing automation is pretty universal.

If you’re using HubSpot’s Workflows App, for example, you can create personalized, automated email workflows that can get triggered¬†in a number of different ways — when a contact gets added to a list, submits a form on your website, clicks a link in an email, views a page on your blog, clicks on one of your AdWords ads, or becomes a marketing qualified lead.¬†

You can also set up email workflows based on any information you have about the¬†contacts in your marketing database, such a page views, email or social media clicks, content downloads, contact properties, or any combination of these and more. That’s some pretty powerful stuff!¬†

And¬†that’s just the beginning¬†of what you can do with workflows.¬†Workflows can also enable¬†you to automate other actions besides email, such as setting or clearing a contact property value, updating a contact’s lifecycle stage, adding/removing a¬†contact from a list, and other administrative tasks that allow for more targeted, effective marketing to your¬†prospects and customers. But we’ll save all that for another post. ūüėČ

Now let’s walk through some examples of automated email workflows you can set up to start getting more out of your contacts database and marketing automation tools.

13 Examples of Email Marketing Automation Workflows You Should Try

1. Topic Workflows

Main Triggers: Page Views or Content Offer Downloads

Create a workflow for each of the industry-related topics you create content about. So if, hypothetically, you’re a unicorn breeder whose main content¬†topics include unicorn diets, unicorn gear, and unicorn boarding, you could bucket your content marketing offers (e.g. ebooks, webinars, kits, etc.) and blog posts by these topics, create an email workflow for each topic, and trigger the appropriate workflow when one of your contacts views a page or downloads an offer centered around that topic.

You can trigger a content download workflow based on a form submission from a tool like HubSpot‚Äôs free conversion tool, HubSpot Marketing Free. (HubSpot customers: You can add Lead Flows, HubSpot’s pop-up forms,¬†as an add-on by following the instructions here. To trigger an automated workflow in HubSpot, you can use the ‚ÄúLead Flow Submission‚ÄĚ option as the starting condition.)

So if a contact downloaded your ebook called¬†10 Tips for a Balanced Unicorn Diet, your “unicorn diet” workflow would be triggered, sending that contact other helpful content, like blog posts about unicorn dietary tips.

2. Blog Subscriber Welcome Workflow 

Main Trigger: Subscription to Your Blog

Give your brand new blog subscribers a nice, warm welcome with a blog welcome email. You can use this email to thank contacts for subscribing,¬†remind them what they’ll get out of reading your blog,¬†review their subscription settings (and allow them to make adjustments), and promote your blog’s best-performing articles or other offers.

Get tips for creating a successful blog welcome email here, and learn more about optimizing welcome emails here.

3. New Customer Welcome/Training Workflow

Main Trigger: Lifecycle Stage

While we’re on the subject¬†of warm welcomes, consider¬†setting up a series of welcome emails when a contact converts into a paying customer, which you can trigger when a contact’s lifecycle stage gets updated to “customer.”

Not only is this a great way to¬†kick off your new customer¬†relationship on a positive note, but it can also keep¬†your customers engaged after they buy. And if your product or service requires a little training on your customers’ part, use this workflow as an opportunity to introduce helpful training materials on an incremental basis.

4. Engaged Contact/Evangelist Workflow

Main Triggers: Visits, Clicks, or Form Submissions

Create a dynamic list (we call these Smart Lists in HubSpot’s Marketing Platform) that automatically updates to include contacts who are really engaged with you. To create this list, use trigger criteria such as a high threshold of visits to your website, clicks on your emails¬†or social media¬†posts, or form submissions. Then create an email workflow to leverage this list as a way to encourage evangelism of your top content in social media.

Because these contacts are highly engaged with you already, they’re more apt to share your top content. You¬†can¬†also consider adding list criteria¬†to pull in¬†contacts with a certain number¬†of Twitter followers so you can leverage the power of those social media influencers in your database.¬†

5. Lead Nurturing Workflow

Main Trigger: Multiple Top-of-the-Funnel Conversion Events 

If a contact has¬†downloaded¬†several¬†of your top-of-the-funnel marketing¬†offers like ebooks and webinars, it might be a good sign they’re ready for a little bit more. Set up workflows that help to advance these contacts further down the¬†funnel.

If the contact is a lead, try sending them emails containing more middle-of-the-funnel content that might upgrade them to a marketing qualified lead (MQL) or an opportunity in your sales process. This workflow could include content and web pages you’ve identified from an attribution report¬†analysis as influential in converting leads into customers — perhaps content like customer success stories/case studies, free trial offers, or product demos.¬†

(Bonus: If you’re using HubSpot’s Workflows, you could set up a condition that automatically upgrades these leads to a new lifecycle stage as a result!)

6. Internal Sales Rep Notification Workflow

Main Triggers: Bottom-of-the-Funnel Page Views/Conversion Events

On any given website, there¬†are certain page visits and conversion events that indicate product interest more so than others. First, identify these pages and conversion events using an attribution reporting tool like HubSpot’s. You‚Äôll notice that, more often than not, the pages you unearth will be your pricing page, your product pages, etc. — pages contacts view when they’re truly evaluating your products or services.

Use workflows here to trigger an internal email notification to your sales rep informing them of these high-value activities. Using personalization, give the rep all the information they need about the lead in question, including relevant mid- and bottom-of-the-funnel content that they can send to the lead in their outreach email. This allows you to connect sales reps with the best possible leads at the right time.

7. Re-Engagement Workflow

Main Trigger: Inactive Contacts

Reawaken inactive contacts with a re-engagement workflow, enrolling contacts once they’ve met certain list criteria. For example, you could set conditions such as the length of time since their last form submission, website visit, or email click, triggering the email when it’s been a while since a contact last engaged with you.

In your workflow, try sending them an exclusive offer or coupon to get them excited about your company again. For more tips about launching an effective email re-engagement campaign, check out this post.

8. Event Workflow

Main Trigger: Registration or Attendance

Hosting a live, in-person event? Or maybe an online event, like a webinar? Use email workflows to automate your communication to event registrants and attendees before, during, and after the event.

For example, create a workflow that delivers important information registrants should know leading up to the event, such as hotel accommodations and agenda information for live events, or webinar log-in information for online events. When the event ends, set up a workflow that gives attendees online access to session slides and continues to nurture them with additional content or promotion for future events. 

9. Abandoned Shopping Cart Workflow

Main Trigger: Shopping Cart Abandonment

If you’re an ecommerce business, you’ll likely benefit from an abandoned shopping cart workflow. The concept here is simple: When someone¬†adds an item to¬†their online¬†shopping cart but leaves your¬†site without completing the purchase, you can trigger an email workflow that reminds them of their forgotten purchase and motivates¬†them to complete the transaction by offering a special¬†discount code or some other incentive to buy.

10. Upsell Workflow

Main Trigger: Past Purchases

Communication with your customers shouldn’t stop after they make a purchase. This is especially true if you sell a variety of different products and/or services. Use workflows as an opportunity to upgrade or upsell your existing customers, or sell them complementary products and services depending on what they’ve already purchased.

Create dynamically updating lists of contacts who purchase a certain productor combination of products — and create workflows aimed at recommending other products/services or encouraging upsells or add-ons.

11. Customer Happiness Workflow

Main Trigger: High or Low NPS Scores

If you administer regular Net Promoter surveys of your customer base, you can use customers’ Net Promoter Scores as a property to trigger workflows.

Simply determine what your ideal customer happiness score is, and use that as the threshold for your dynamic list¬†of happy customers. Then trigger a workflow for¬†customers with “happy” scores and reward them¬†with exclusive content, offers, or discounts.

Trigger a different workflow for your “unhappy” customers that includes¬†content/offers aimed at helping to¬†improve their happiness. We’ll give you a few bonus points if you segment those unhappy customers by the reasons they’re unhappy, and send them even more targeted workflows aimed at addressing the issues that are making them so grumpy.

12. Customer Success/Engagement Workflow

Main Triggers: Success Metrics or Product Usage

If you keep track of customer success metrics, you have a prime workflow opportunity on your hands. For example, if you’re trying to build up your arsenal of customer case studies, you could automatically trigger an email that asks customers if they’d be interesting in being featured as¬†a success story once certain customer success metrics were met.

Furthermore, if you keep track of customers’ product adoption or feature usage, you could trigger a workflow for users who are exhibiting low product engagement,¬†providing resources that educate and train them on how to use the product features they’re not taking advantage of.

13. Upcoming Purchase Reminder Workflow

Main Trigger: Purchases Made on a Cycle

Does your contacts database include customers who typically purchase on a cycle? Enter those people into a workflow that gets triggered when they make a purchase.

For instance, let’s say you sell eye care products, and a customer purchases a six-month supply of prescription contacts. Enroll that customer into a workflow that sends them an automated email five months later as a¬†reminder that their six-month supply is about to run out, and it might be time to order a new batch of contacts.

14. Customer Service or Ticket Workflow

Main Trigger: A customer or prospect contacts customer service via email or an online form.

Sometimes, your customers or prospects might have trouble using your free or paid software. When this happens, fielding a bunch of customer service emails and messages can take tons of valuable time from your schedule. 

One way to avoid this it to create a workflow that categorizes that makes customer concerns into tickets that can be categorized, labeled and assigned to customer service reps on your team. These tickets can also help you keep tack of ongoing problems as well as when issues with a customer or prospect are resolved. 

15. Deal-Based Workflows

Main Trigger: When someone e-signs a quote or contract.

Sealing the deal is obviously key to successful sales. Automating small aspects of this process, like emails someone might get after signing a contract or quote page with you, can allow you to spend more time nurturing the client over the phone, during demos, or through other messages.

With a deal-based workflow, you can trigger confirmation emails when a prospect becomes a client or qualified lead by signing a quote or contract. With systems like HubSpot, you can also set the workflow to change the contact’s status to show where they are in the sales lifecycle.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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5 Marketers Reveal How They Understand & Influence Consumer Behavior

As Elle Woods once said, “Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”

If you haven’t seen Legally Blonde, Elle was referring to an attempt made by a brand to influence consumer behavior. However, its attempt fell short because the fictitious company failed to align with its target audience.

According to Salesforce, 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. 

In other words, customers want companies to understand their behavior. That’s why understanding and influencing consumer behavior is essential for a marketer.

Below, let’s discuss the theory of consumer behavior, then review some expert strategies for understanding and influencing customers.

The Theory of Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior is the study of how people spend their money. This is typically studied by economists so we can better understand how personal taste and income shape the economy. However, marketers also use this information to market their products.

To study consumer behavior and learn more about your buyer persona, consider the answers to these questions:

  • How do your customers feel about certain brands or products?
  • Why do they select one product over another?
  • What’s their research process like?
  • Do they prefer to shop online?
  • How important are reviews to their purchasing decisions?

Ultimately, the goal is to understand why consumers make the decisions they do so you can better market to them.

To fully understand consumer behavior, consider these factors that go into making a purchase:


When people buy something, their mental headspace and mindset play a large factor. Ultimately, their perception, attitude, and background influence their final purchase.


Personal identification factors like age, financial background, culture, interests, and hobbies also play a role in a purchasing decision.


Customers consider other people’s thoughts and opinions before buying a product. They think, “What do my family and friends think of this product?” and, “How are the reviews?” Sometimes, they’ll consider these elements without even thinking about it.

Consumer behavior as a marketing method emerged in the 1940s and 50s when marketing shifted away from relying on economics and instead focused on other disciplines like psychology and sociology. This lead to the development of an array of theories that analyze consumer behavior.

Consumer Behavior Theories

There are five main schools of thought regarding consumer behavior:

1. Psychoanalytic Theory

This theory states that consumers make purchasing decisions based on their feelings, hopes, aspirations, and fears. For example, if someone aspires to be a singer they’re likely to purchase voice lessons or music recording software.

2. Veblenian Social-Psychological Theory

This model asserts that humans are social creatures and make purchases based on societal and cultural norms. For example, as gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are becoming more prevalent in society, consumers are becoming more likely to purchase those options from restaurants.

3. Reasoned Action Theory

This is the theory that consumers make purchases when they expect a specific result. That’s why marketers need to associate a positive result with purchasing their product. For example, marketers for a personal trainer associate overall health and weight loss with their workout program.

4. Maslow’s Motivation-Need Theory

Maslow, a psychologist in the 1950s, created a needs-based hierarchy that explains why people make purchases. The hierarchy asserts that people buy things to fulfill needs: psychological (survival), safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. For example, people buy alarm systems for their homes because they value and need safety.

5. Hawkins Stern Impulse Buying Theory

Although there are many reasons people buy things, sometimes very little thought goes into it. Impulse purchases occur when people buy products based on external stimuli. For example, if people see a candy bar in the checkout line, they might purchase it just because it’s there.

For all these theories, creating a buyer persona will help you better understand your customer’s motivations.

So, how can you influence consumer behavior in your marketing campaigns? Let’s consult the experts.

Marketing Experts Reveal Consumer Behavior Strategies

In this section, we’ve gathered some consumer behavior strategies from expert marketers across various industries. Take a look at their tips to improve the impact of your next marketing campaign.

1. Dave Cherry – Cherry Advisory

Marketing Strategy: Predicting consumer behavior

An executive strategy advisor at Cherry Advisory, Cherry speaks about predicting consumer behavior.

He says, “The insights gained by knowing what a customer is going to do with accuracy is exponentially more valuable than knowing what they previously did (transactional data) or their demographic profiles.”

With this in mind, if marketers can accurately predict consumer behavior, they’ll see great success in their marketing campaigns.

For retailers, predicting consumer behavior can be as easy as understanding how the holidays impact purchasing decisions. Cherry says, “Using data from Prosper Insights, NRF frequently publishes their outlook on total spend, (e.g. Mother’s Day spending is expected to increase by x% this year) as well as category spend, (e.g. flowers are predicted to be up y% and candy down z%). Many retailers can predict category/department, and sometimes choice level sales across their chain accurately.”

While not all industries can use holidays as a predictor, especially B2B companies, seasonality can impact most industries. Think about when companies spend the most money. Is it the first quarter or the fourth quarter? When do people invest? These questions can help predict consumer behavior for B2B companies that can’t necessarily rely on the same predictors for B2C companies.

Predicting consumer behavior essentially means to have the right product at the right price at the right time. Cherry says, “The right time not only refers to having inventory but also establishing that connection with customers within the right context. That’s a challenge that many are still working to resolve.”

2. Alex Birkett – HubSpot

Marketing Strategy: Collecting consumer behavior

As a senior marketing manager at HubSpot, Birkett is focused on achieving growth.

He says, “the best way to understand consumer behavior is to define your analytics strategy, map out critical behavioral events on the customer journey, define your business-critical goals and metrics, and find a way to instrument tracking for all of these. Through experimentation, segmentation, and cohort analysis, you can begin to learn more about what factors actually influence consumer behavior and what the impact of an experience is.”¬†

On the other hand, “the worst way to predict consumer behavior is by asking consumers directly what they’re going to do or what they think; revealed preferences are generally different than stated preferences, and consumers are normally quite bad at articulating what they actually want and will do. Qualitative data can be great for experimentation ideation and discovering pain points, but it’s very bad for diagnosis, causality, or telling you how to fix that pain point.”

With this in mind, the best way to learn what factors influence consumer behavior is by running trustworthy controlled experiments.

3. Dayne Topkin – HubSpot

Marketing Strategy: Understanding consumer behavior

As a marketing manager at HubSpot, Topkin focuses on user experience (UX) and understanding user behavior.

He says, “There are several ways you could go about capturing your customers’ motivation for interacting with your brand, and a lot of it will depend on how you have things structured and where your audience is engaging with the brand/company.”

You could consider surveys, social media, or customer interviews. Engaging with your customers can help you understand their decisions.

Topkin adds, “You would be surprised at how willing users are to chat with you and share their experiences. These sessions should only last between 15-20 minutes and you should come prepared with specific questions to ask. We use Zoom for these user interviews/sessions and I’ve gained a ton of insight from these. Additionally, if you have any workflows set up for nurturing you might include an email that invites a user to talk about their experience with someone at your company then have a specific set of questions prepared for that session.”

Additionally, you have to think about scalability as well. “A lot of organizations struggle with this because their methods are too grandiose and aren’t scalable in the long run. Automate as much as you can as well ‚ÄĒ surveys, form fields, workflows, etc.,” Topkin says.

4. Tim Friesner – Marketing Teacher

Marketing Strategy: Studying consumer behavior

As a marketing teacher, Friesner designs online marketing courses and training.

To study consumer behavior, he says you need to provide value and customer satisfaction as well as effectively target your customers.

Additionally, you want to understand how customers view your product versus your competitors. What’s your competitive advantage? How can you improve your products and services?

If you keep these things in mind, you should begin to understand how to market your product or service to your customers.

5. Lars Perner – USC Marshall

Marketing Strategy: Applying consumer behavior

As a marketing teacher, Perner is an assistant professor of clinical marketing at USC.

He says, “The most obvious application of consumer behavior is for marketing strategy‚ÄĒi.e., for making better marketing campaigns. For example, by understanding that consumers are more receptive to food advertising when they are hungry, we learn to schedule snack advertisements late in the afternoon.”

Additionally, you can apply your knowledge of consumer behavior in social marketing. Social marketing involves getting ideas across to consumers rather than selling something. This comes down to the social factor of purchasing something. Consumers consider cultural norms and think about how other people view them.

Understanding consumer behavior isn’t an easy task. However, you can use these theories of consumer behavior to strategize your next marketing campaign.

Want to learn more about analyzing consumer behavior? Check out our beginner’s guide.

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Author: Rebecca White

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The Plain-English Guide to Conjoint Analysis

Sometimes, commercials really get me.

T-Mobile‘s Super Bowl commercial this year is a prime example — “What’s for Dinner?” demonstrates the infuriating process of choosing what to do for dinner for a young couple, and it’s gold.

The reason T-Mobile’s ad was so relatable is because of their market research. They looked at what their target audiences wanted — including their thought processes, what informs their decisions, and the trade-offs they’re willing to make for their products.

To accomplish all of these important factors in one go, many companies use conjoint analysis.

Think about buying a new phone. Attributes you might consider are color, size, and model. The reason phone companies include these specs in their marketing is due to research such as conjoint analysis.

Would consumers purchase this product or service if brought to market? That’s the question conjoint analysis strives to answer. It’s a quantitative measure in marketing research, meaning it measures numbers rather than open-ended questions. Questions on the phone company survey would include price points, color preference, and camera quality.

Surveys intended for conjoint analysis are formatted to reflect the buyer’s journey.

For instance, notice in this example for televisions, the specs are the options and the consumer picks what best reflects their lifestyle:

conjoint analysis exampleImage Source

This direct method of giving consumers multiple profiles to then analyze is how conjoint analysis got its name. These answers are helpful when determining how to market a new product.

If answers on the phone company survey proved that their target audience of adults ages 18-25 wanted a green phone from $400-600 and a camera with portrait mode, advertisements can cater directly to that.

The conjoint analysis shows what consumers are willing to give up in order to get what they need. For instance, some might be willing to pay a little more money for a larger model of a phone if their preference is larger text.

Types of Conjoint Analysis

Choice-based conjoint (CBC) and Adaptive Conjoint Analysis (ACA) are the two main types of conjoint analysis.

Choice-based is the most common form because it asks consumers to mimic their buying habits. ACA is helpful for product design, offering more questions about specs of a product.


Choice-based conjoint analysis questions are usually presented in a “Would you rather?‚ÄĚ format. For example, “Would you rather take a ride-share service to a location 10 minutes away for $13 or walk 30 minutes for free?‚ÄĚ The marketer for the ride-share service could use answers from this question to think of the upsides to show off in different campaigns.

ACA leans towards a Likert-scale format (most likely to least likely) for its attribute-based questions. Respondents can base their preference on specs by showing how likely they are to buy a product with slight differences — for example, similar cars with different doors and manufacturers.

Examples of Conjoint Analysis

Sawtooth Software offers a great example of conjoint analysis for a phone company:

conjoint analysis example 2Image Source

The analysis puts three different phone services next to each other. The horizontal column of the model identifies which service is offering a certain program, described by the vertical values. The bottom row shows a percent value of consumers’ preferences.

QuestionPro offers this fun, interactive conjoint analysis template about retirement home options. The survey gives you a scenario and asks your course of action. For instance, it asks if you would sign a rental agreement for retirement home housing immediately, and considers specs like rent, meals, size, etc.

Conjoint analysis isn’t limited to existing products. They’re also very helpful for figuring out if a brand-new product is worth developing. For instance, if surveys show that audiences would be into the idea of an app that chooses clothes for consumers, that could be a new venture for clothing companies in the future.

Looking to create a conjoint analysis of your own? Software is available that’ll offer templates and collect data from your results. Qualtrics is a popular one, as well as QuestionPro.

It’s important to note — when creating a conjoint analysis, you’ll need to define a list of attributes about your product. Attributes are usually 4-5 items that describe your product or service. Consider color, size, price, and market-specific attributes, such as lenses if you’re selling cameras.

Additionally, try to keep in mind your ideal respondents. Who do you want to answer your survey? A group of adult men? A group of working mothers? Identify your respondent base and ask specific questions catered to that target market.

For more ways to introduce product marketing into your company, check out our ultimate guide here.

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Author: Kayla Carmicheal

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How to Make an Ad: A 10-Step Guide

Advertising is changing — in fact, in 2020, companies will spend more than $250 billion on media advertising for the first time in U.S. history.

More companies are spending money on advertising than ever before. As a result, there are now innumerable platforms you can use to promote your product, service, or business.

But how do you choose the right medium to promote your platform? And once you decide, how do you actually make the ad?

There’s a lot that goes into making an advertisement — from market research, to choosing the right medium, to developing creative assets. To simplify the process for you, we’ve outlined the necessary steps you’ll need to take in order to bring your ad to life and start promoting your business in the right way.

Keep reading to learn our recommended 10-step process on how to make an ad.

Featured Resource: Advertising Planning Templates & Kit

To make your advertising planning easier, use HubSpot’s free Advertising Planning Kit. Included are templates to help you plan and present your ad pitch, schedule your release dates, and inform your stakeholders. We’ve also thrown in an advertising best practices guide to help you choose the advertising method that works best for your business.

1. Choose Your Target Audience

When making an ad, you’ll first need to decide the audience you’re making the ad for. People see up to 10,000 ads in a day (yup, that’s a real number), so your advertisement may end up being white noise if not targeted correctly.

One way to help your ad find the right audience is to get granular on whom you want to target with your messaging, which will help you incorporate the best messaging and select the best advertising platform. This should be based off of your buyer personas — semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

If you need help building your personas, try using HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool.

2. Conduct Marketing Research

Market research is an essential part of campaign promotion. Feeding into your buyer personas, market research can answer key questions about your target market, such as:

  • How old are they?
  • What do they spend most of their time doing?
  • What social media platforms do they use, if any?
  • Do they live in suburban, urban, or rural areas?

Knowing the above information about your target audience can help you answer questions like — TV or YouTube? Instagram or LinkedIn? Billboard or bus? — because you’ll understand more about how to appeal to the right people.

You can use this Market Research Guide and Set of Templates to get started on market research for your ad.

3. Choose Your Platform

Your market research should give you the insight and confidence you need to choose the most effective platform to reach your target audience. You should also do some supplemental research on the costs, ROI, and benefits of certain ad platforms and methods.

You may come to the realization that using multiple ad platforms and methods would be the right move for your campaign ‚Äď such as social media and search engine ads. This is actually a great strategy, as it casts a wider net and opens up the possibility of reaching even more prospects where they already are.

4. Decide on a Budget

For advertising, you need to spend money to make money.

Getting your budget approved can be difficult, so make it easier to get what you need by clearly outlining:

  • The total budget you need
  • How the costs are broken down
  • A projected ROI (or business impact)

Be sure to come to any budget meeting prepared to answer whatever questions could be thrown at you and to defend the specifics.

For instance, saying “We need $10,000 to run a Google Ads campaign” doesn’t sound nearly as compelling as “We’d like to run a series of ads on Google. Here’s a list of our keywords and negative keywords, their monthly search volume, and our preliminary bids for each. With these projections, we’re expecting to bring in 400 new contacts next month for a total cost of $10,000.”

5. Craft a Message

By this point, you know your target audience and your preferred platform, but you’re still not sure what you’re saying. Here’s where you’ll want to think about the broad purpose of your campaign to inspire your ad.

Do you want people to come to your store, or visit your website? Is your immediate goal to drive free signups for your software, or ebook downloads? Think about the message and how that can feed into the end goal(s) of your ad campaign.

For inspiration, take a look at The 18 Best Advertisements of All Time.

6. Develop Creative Assets

Whether it’s copy for a Google Ad or a flashy landing page from your in-house designers, all ads need creative assets. Chances are, most of the ads you run will need one or more of the following:

  • Short, promotional copy (for image ads and online ads)
  • Long-form copy (for video scripts)
  • Photographs (for online ads)
  • Custom-designed images and/or animations (for online ads and video ads)
  • Video (for…video ads)
  • GIFs (for online ads)

All of these assets can be overwhelming, and if you’re thinking ‚ÄúI’m not a videographer/writer/designer/photographer!‚ÄĚ, that’s totally fine. If these resources aren’t available to you in-house to help make your ad, consider hiring a team of freelancers or an agency to help you produce these deliverables and make an outstanding advertisement.

7. Determine Measurements of Success and Set Up Tracking

No matter if your ultimate goal is Page Likes, online purchases, or promo code uses, you should never launch an ad without first being crystal clear on two questions:

  1. What do we want to see in order to call this ad successful?
  2. How are we measuring success?

You already thought of your advertisement’s goal in Step 5, so now, make the expectations of your campaign known by setting up the proper ad tracking.

If you’re advertising online, there’s a good chance the platform you’re using — like Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn — has an ad management and tracking platform, allowing you to see how many interactions your ads have had and how much they cost.

However, you’ll also want to take a few extra steps to aid in your analysis down the line:

  • Use an automated free ad tracking platform to measure advertising ROI and see how your ads tie into larger marketing projects and campaigns. You can also use this platform to compare ads from different sites, say, if you were running ads on both Instagram and Twitter.
  • Set up a custom tracking spreadsheet offline to measure engagements with your ad and other data points like cost, conversion, and advertising ROI, especially if your ad is online.
  • Use custom tracking tokens for links promoted in your ad so that you can analyze engagement and conversions on your own website.

8. Launch Your Ad

The stage is set, and you can finally launch your ad for the world to see.

Needless to say, the process of launching an ad on Google is different than on Bing. The same can be said for every social media channel, TV ads, or transportation ads.

Here’s a list of the more detailed, step-by-step process for launching an ad on some of these platforms. Click through to learn more about the platform or platforms that you’re creating an ad for:

9. Track & Analyze Performance

For campaigns that have a set run time (transportation, television, etc.), determine how the ad’s results performed against expectations. Since it’s difficult to draw a one-to-one comparison for these ad types, you may want to look at general business trends, change in revenue, or even social media/press mentions to gauge success.

For online ads, this process is a bit easier. Results start coming in immediately, so you can see how well your ads are performing instantly, and over time. Take note of the ads that are bringing in high numbers at low costs and — just as importantly — ads that are costing a lot but not performing that well.

Remember, you can take the headache out of the manual ad tracking with a free online ads tracking tool.

10. Make Changes, Rinse, and Repeat

Once your ad campaign is over (or if it’s an ongoing online campaign), take your learnings and apply them to your next advertisement.

For instance, maybe you realized your online ads that were wordier performed worse than ads that were more concise, or that YouTube just didn’t work this time around. Lean into what worked (or is working) and abandon what’s not to continue to strengthen your company’s advertising program.

Making Your Ad, Simplified

And there you have it — a simple 10-step process for planning, creating, launching, and analyzing an advertisement. Remember to use an advertising planning template to outline your ad campaign, keep all contributors informed, and rally behind the same end goal for your business.

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Author: AJ Beltis

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How to Use Excel: 18 Simple Excel Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts

Sometimes, Excel seems too good to be true. All I have to do is enter a formula, and pretty much anything I’d ever need to do manually can be done automatically. Need to merge two sheets with similar data? Excel can do it. Need to do simple math? Excel can do it. Need to combine information in multiple cells? Excel can do it.

If you encounter a situation where you need to manually update your data, you’re probably missing out on a formula that can do it for you.

Before spending hours and hours counting cells or copying and pasting data, look for a quick fix on Excel — you’ll likely find one.

In the spirit of working more efficiently and avoiding tedious, manual work, here are a few Excel tricks to get you started with how to use Excel. (And to all the Harry Potter fans out there … you’re welcome in advance.)

Excel Basics

If you’re just starting out with Excel, there are a few basic commands that we suggest you become familiar with. These are things like:

  • Creating a new spreadsheet from scratch.
  • Executing basic computations in a spreadsheet, like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing in a spreadsheet.
  • Writing and formatting column text and titles.
  • Excel’s auto-fill features.
  • Adding or deleting single columns, rows, and spreadsheets. Below, we’ll get into how to add things like multiple columns and rows.
  • Keeping column and row titles visible as you scroll past them in a spreadsheet, so that you know what data you’re filling as you move further down the document.

For a deep dive on these basics, check out our comprehensive guide on How to Use Excel.

Okay, ready to get into the nitty-gritty? Let’s get to it.

1. Use Pivot Tables to recognize and make sense of data.

Pivot Tables are used to reorganize data in a spreadsheet. They won’t change the data that you have, but they can sum up values and compare different information in your spreadsheet, depending on what you’d like them to do.

Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say I want to take a look at how many people are in each house at Hogwarts. You may be thinking that I don’t have too much data, but for longer data sets, this will come in handy.

To create the Pivot Table, I go to Data > Pivot Table. Excel will automatically populate your Pivot Table, but you can always change around the order of the data. Then, you have four options to choose from.

  1. Report Filter: This allows you to only look at certain rows in your dataset. For example, if I wanted to create a filter by house, I could choose to only include students in Gryffindor instead of all students.
  2. Column Labels: These could be your headers in the dataset.
  3. Row Labels: These could be your rows in the dataset. Both Row and Column labels can contain data from your columns (e.g. First Name can be dragged to either the Row or Column label — it just depends on how you want to see the data.)
  4. Value: This section allows you to look at your data differently. Instead of just pulling in any numeric value, you can sum, count, average, max, min, count numbers, or do a few other manipulations with your data. In fact, by default, when you drag a field to Value, it always does a count.

Since I want to count the number of students in each house, I’ll go to the Pivot Table and drag the House column to both the Row Labels and the Values. This will sum up the number of students associated with each house.

Excel Pivot Table

2. Add more than one row or column.

As you play around with your data, you might find you’re constantly needing to add more rows and columns. Sometimes, you may even need to add hundreds of rows. Doing this one-by-one would be super tedious. Luckily, there’s always an easier way.

To add multiple rows or columns in a spreadsheet, highlight the same number of preexisting rows or columns that you want to add. Then, right-click and select “Insert.”

In the example below, I want to add an additional three rows. By highlighting three rows and then clicking insert, I’m able to add an additional three blank rows into my spreadsheet quickly and easily.

insert Spaces on Excel

3. Use filters to simplify your data.

When you’re looking at very large data sets, you don’t usually need to be looking at every single row at the same time. Sometimes, you only want to look at data that fit into certain criteria. That’s where filters come in.

Filters allow you to pare down your data to only look at certain rows at one time. In Excel, a filter can be added to each column in your data — and from there, you can then choose which cells you want to view at once.

Let’s take a look at the example below. Add a filter by clicking the Data tab and selecting “Filter.” Clicking the arrow next to the column headers and you’ll be able to choose whether you want your data to be organized in ascending or descending order, as well as which specific rows you want to show.

In my Harry Potter example, let’s say I only want to see the students in Gryffindor. By selecting the Gryffindor filter, the other rows disappear.

Filters on Excel Sheet

Pro Tip: Copy and paste the values in the spreadsheet when a Filter is on to do additional analysis in another spreadsheet.

4. Remove duplicate data points or sets.

Larger data sets tend to have duplicate content. You may have a list of multiple contacts in a company and only want to see the number of companies you have. In situations like this, removing the duplicates comes in quite handy.

To remove your duplicates, highlight the row or column that you want to remove duplicates of. Then, go to the Data tab, and select “Remove Duplicates” (under Tools). A pop-up will appear to confirm which data you want to work with. Select “Remove Duplicates,” and you’re good to go.

Remove Duplicates in Excel

You can also use this feature to remove an entire row based on a duplicate column value. So if you have three rows with Harry Potter’s information and you only need to see one, then you can select the whole dataset and then remove duplicates based on email. Your resulting list will have only unique names without any duplicates.

5. Transpose rows into columns.

When you have low rows of data in your spreadsheet, you might decide you actually want to transform the items in one of those rows into columns (or vice versa). It would take a lot of time to copy and paste each individual header — but what the transpose feature allows you to do is simply move your row data into columns, or the other way around.

Start by highlighting the column that you want to transpose into rows. Right-click it, and then select “Copy.” Next, select the cells on your spreadsheet where you want your first row or column to begin. Right-click on the cell, and then select “Paste Special.” A module will appear — at the bottom, you’ll see an option to transpose. Check that box and select OK. Your column will now be transferred to a row or vice-versa.

Transpose columns in Excel

6. Split up text information between columns.

What if you want to split out information that’s in one cell into two different cells? For example, maybe you want to pull out someone’s company name through their email address. Or perhaps you want to separate someone’s full name into a first and last name for your email marketing templates.

Thanks to Excel, both are possible. First, highlight the column that you want to split up. Next, go to the Data tab and select “Text to Columns.” A module will appear with additional information.

First, you need to select either “Delimited” or “Fixed Width.”

  • “Delimited” means you want to break up the column based on characters such as commas, spaces, or tabs.
  • “Fixed Width” means you want to select the exact location on all the columns that you want the split to occur.

In the example case below, let’s select “Delimited” so we can separate the full name into first name and last name.

Then, it’s time to choose the Delimiters. This could be a tab, semi-colon, comma, space, or something else. (“Something else” could be the “@” sign used in an email address, for example.) In our example, let’s choose the space. Excel will then show you a preview of what your new columns will look like.

When you’re happy with the preview, press “Next.” This page will allow you to select Advanced Formats if you choose to. When you’re done, click “Finish.”

Text to Column in Excel

Excel Formulas

7. Use these formulas for simple calculations

In addition to doing pretty complex calculations, Excel can help you do simple arithmetic like adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing any of your data.

  • To add, use the + sign.
  • To subtract, use the – sign.
  • To multiply, use the * sign.
  • To divide, use the / sign.

You can also use parenthesis to ensure certain calculations are done first. In the example below (10+10*10), the second and third 10 were multiplied together before adding the additional 10. However, if we made it (10+10)*10, the first and second 10 would be added together first.

Simple Math with Excel sheet formulas

8. Get the average of numbers in your cells.

If you want the average of a set of numbers, you can use the formula =AVERAGE(Cell Range). If you want to sum up a column of numbers, you can use the formula =SUM(Cell Range).

9. Use conditional formatting to make cells automatically change color based on data.

Conditional formatting allows you to change a cell’s color based on the information within the cell. For example, if you want to flag certain numbers that are above average or in the top 10% of the data in your spreadsheet, you can do that. If you want to color code commonalities between different rows in Excel, you can do that. This will help you quickly see information the is important to you.

To get started, highlight the group of cells you want to use conditional formatting on. Then, choose “Conditional Formatting” from the Home menu and select your logic from the dropdown. (You can also create your own rule if you want something different.) A window will pop up that prompts you to provide more information about your formatting rule. Select “OK” when you’re done, and you should see your results automatically appear.

Conditional Formatting in Excel

10. Use IF THEN Excel formula to automate certain Excel functions.

Sometimes, we don’t want to count the number of times a value appears. Instead, we want to input different information into a cell if there is a corresponding cell with that information.

For example, in the situation below, I want to award ten points to everyone who belongs in the Gryffindor house. Instead of manually typing in 10’s next to each Gryffindor student’s name, I can use the IF THEN Excel formula to say that if the student is in Gryffindor, then they should get ten points.

The formula: IF(logical_test, value_if_true, value of false)

Example Shown Below: =IF(D2=”Gryffindor”,”10″,”0″)

In general terms, the formula would be IF(Logical Test, value of true, value of false). Let’s dig into each of these variables.

  • Logical_Test: The logical test is the “IF” part of the statement. In this case, the logic is D2=”Gryffindor” because we want to make sure that the cell corresponding with the student says “Gryffindor.” Make sure to put Gryffindor in quotation marks here.
  • Value_if_True: This is what we want the cell to show if the value is true. In this case, we want the cell to show “10” to indicate that the student was awarded the 10 points. Only use quotation marks if you want the result to be text instead of a number.
  • Value_if_False: This is what we want the cell to show if the value is false. In this case, for any student not in Gryffindor, we want the cell to show “0” to show 0 points. Only use quotation marks if you want the result to be text instead of a number.

IF THEN formula in Excel

Note: In the example above, I awarded 10 points to everyone in Gryffindor. If I later wanted to sum the total number of points, I wouldn’t be able to because the 10’s are in quotes, thus making them text and not a number that Excel can sum.

11. Use dollar signs to keep one cell’s formula the same regardless of where it moves.

Have you ever seen a dollar sign in an Excel formula? When used in a formula, it isn’t representing an American dollar; instead, it makes sure that the exact column and row are held the same even if you copy the same formula in adjacent rows.

You see, a cell reference — when you refer to cell A5 from cell C5, for example — is relative by default. In that case, you’re actually referring to a cell that’s five columns to the left (C minus A) and in the same row (5). This is called a relative formula. When you copy a relative formula from one cell to another, it’ll adjust the values in the formula based on where it’s moved. But sometimes, we want those values to stay the same no matter whether they’re moved around or not — and we can do that by making the formula in the cell into what’s called an absolute formula.

To change the relative formula (=A5+C5) into an absolute formula, we’d precede the row and column values by dollar signs, like this: (=$A$5+$C$5). (Learn more on Microsoft Office’s support page here.)

Excel Functions

12. Use VLOOKUP function pull data from one area of a sheet to another.

Have you ever had two sets of data on two different spreadsheets that you want to combine into a single spreadsheet?

For example, you might have a list of people’s names next to their email addresses in one spreadsheet, and a list of those same people’s email addresses next to their company names in the other — but you want the names, email addresses, and company names of those people to appear in one place.

I have to combine data sets like this a lot — and when I do, the VLOOKUP is my go-to formula. Before you use the formula, though, be absolutely sure that you have at least one column that appears identically in both places. Scour your data sets to make sure the column of data you’re using to combine your information is exactly the same, including no extra spaces.

The formula: =VLOOKUP(lookup value, table array, column number, [range lookup])

The formula with variables from our example below: =VLOOKUP(C2,Sheet2!A:B,2,FALSE)

In this formula, there are several variables. The following is true when you want to combine information in Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 onto Sheet 1.

  • Lookup Value: This is the identical value you have in both spreadsheets. Choose the first value in your first spreadsheet. In the example that follows, this means the first email address on the list, or cell 2 (C2).
  • Table Array: The range of columns on Sheet 2 you’re going to pull your data from, including the column of data identical to your lookup value (in our example, email addresses) in Sheet 1 as well as the column of data you’re trying to copy to Sheet 1. In our example, this is “Sheet2!A:B.” “A” means Column A in Sheet 2, which is the column in Sheet 2 where the data identical to our lookup value (email) in Sheet 1 is listed. The “B” means Column B, which contains the information that’s only available in Sheet 2 that you want to translate to Sheet 1.
  • Column Number: If the table array (the range of columns you just indicated) this tells Excel which column the new data you want to copy to Sheet 1 is located in. In our example, this would be the column that “House” is located in. “House” is the second column in our range of columns (table array), so our column number is 2. [Note: Your range can be more than two columns. For example, if there are three columns on Sheet 2 — Email, Age, and House — and you still want to bring House onto Sheet 1, you can still use a VLOOKUP. You just need to change the “2” to a “3” so it pulls back the value in the third column: =VLOOKUP(C2:Sheet2!A:C,3,false).]
  • Range Lookup: Use FALSE to ensure you pull in only exact value matches.

In the example below, Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 contain lists describing different information about the same people, and the common thread between the two is their email addresses. Let’s say we want to combine both datasets so that all the house information from Sheet 2 translates over to Sheet 1.

VLOOKUP formula in Excel

So when we type in the formula =VLOOKUP(C2,Sheet2!A:B,2,FALSE), we bring all the house data into Sheet 1.

Keep in mind that VLOOKUP will only pull back values from the second sheet that are to the right of the column containing your identical data. This can lead to some limitations, which is why some people prefer to use the INDEX and MATCH functions instead.

13. Use INDEX MATCH formulas to pull data from horizontal columns.

Like VLOOKUP, the INDEX and MATCH functions pull in data from another dataset into one central location. Here are the main differences:

  1. VLOOKUP is a much simpler formula. If you’re working with large data sets that would require thousands of lookups, using the INDEX MATCH function will significantly decrease load time in Excel.
  2. INDEX MATCH formulas work right-to-left, whereas VLOOKUP formulas only work as a left-to-right lookup. In other words, if you need to do a lookup that has a lookup column to the right of the results column, then you’d have to rearrange those columns in order to do a VLOOKUP. This can be tedious with large datasets and/or lead to errors.

So if I want to combine information in Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 onto Sheet 1, but the column values in Sheets 1 and 2 aren’t the same, then to do a VLOOKUP, I would need to switch around my columns. In this case, I’d choose to do an INDEX MATCH instead.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say Sheet 1 contains a list of people’s names and their Hogwarts email addresses, and Sheet 2 contains a list of people’s email addresses and the Patronus that each student has. (For the non-Harry Potter fans out there, every witch or wizard has an animal guardian called a “Patronus” associated with him or her.) The information that lives in both sheets is the column containing email addresses, but this email address column is in different column numbers on each sheet. I’d use the INDEX MATCH formula instead of VLOOKUP so I wouldn’t have to switch any columns around.

So what’s the formula, then? The INDEX MATCH formula is actually the MATCH formula nested inside the INDEX formula. You’ll see I differentiated the MATCH formula using a different color here.

The formula: =INDEX(table array, MATCH formula)

This becomes: =INDEX(table array, MATCH (lookup_value, lookup_array))

The formula with variables from our example below: =INDEX(Sheet2!A:A,(MATCH(Sheet1!C:C,Sheet2!C:C,0)))

Here are the variables:

  • Table Array: The range of columns on Sheet 2 containing the new data you want to bring over to Sheet 1. In our example, “A” means Column A, which contains the “Patronus” information for each person.
  • Lookup Value: This is the column in Sheet 1 that contains identical values in both spreadsheets. In the example that follows, this means the “email” column on Sheet 1, which is Column C. So: Sheet1!C:C.
  • Lookup Array: This is the column in Sheet 2 that contains identical values in both spreadsheets. In the example that follows, this refers to the “email” column on Sheet 2, which happens to also be Column C. So: Sheet2!C:C.

Once you have your variables straight, type in the INDEX MATCH formula in the top-most cell of the blank Patronus column on Sheet 1, where you want the combined information to live.


14. Use COUNTIF function to make Excel count words or numbers in any range of cells.

Instead of manually counting how often a certain value or number appears, let Excel do the work for you. With the COUNTIF function, Excel can count the number of times a word or number appears in any range of cells.

For example, let’s say I want to count the number of times the word “Gryffindor” appears in my data set.

The formula: =COUNTIF(range, criteria)

The formula with variables from our example below: =COUNTIF(D:D,”Gryffindor”)

In this formula, there are several variables:

  • Range: The range that we want the formula to cover. In this case, since we’re only focusing on one column, we use “D:D” to indicate that the first and last column are both D. If I were looking at columns C and D, I would use “C:D.”
  • Criteria: Whatever number or piece of text you want Excel to count. Only use quotation marks if you want the result to be text instead of a number. In our example, the criteria is “Gryffindor.”

Simply typing in the COUNTIF formula in any cell and pressing “Enter” will show me how many times the word “Gryffindor” appears in the dataset.

COUNTIF formula in Excel

15. Combine cells using &.

Databases tend to split out data to make it as exact as possible. For example, instead of having a data that shows a person’s full name, a database might have the data as a first name and then a last name in separate columns. Or, it may have a person’s location separated by city, state, and zip code. In Excel, you can combine cells with different data into one cell by using the “&” sign in your function.

The formula with variables from our example below: =A2&” “&B2

Let’s go through the formula together using an example. Pretend we want to combine first names and last names into full names in a single column. To do this, we’d first put our cursor in the blank cell where we want the full name to appear. Next, we’d highlight one cell that contains a first name, type in an “&” sign, and then highlight a cell with the corresponding last name.

But you’re not finished — if all you type in is =A2&B2, then there will not be a space between the person’s first name and last name. To add that necessary space, use the function =A2&” “&B2. The quotation marks around the space tell Excel to put a space in between the first and last name.

To make this true for multiple rows, simply drag the corner of that first cell downward as shown in the example.

Combine columns with And in Excel

We hope you found this article helpful! Bookmark it to keep these handy Excel tips in your back pocket.

16. Add checkboxes.

If you’re using an Excel sheet to track customer data and want to oversee something that isn’t quantifiable, you could insert checkboxes into a column.

For example, if you’re using an Excel sheet to manage your sales prospects and want to track whether you called them in the last quarter, you could have a “Called this quarter?” column and check off the cells in it when you’ve called the respective client.¬†

Here’s how to do it in Excel’s 2018 and 2019 software.

Highlight a cell you’d like to add checkboxes to in your spreadsheet. Then, click DEVELOPER. Then, under FORM CONTROLS, click the checkbox or the selection circle highlighted in the image below.

the radio button and checkbos control in Excel 2019

Once the box appears in the cell, copy it, highlight the cells you also want it to appear in, and then paste it.

17.  Hyperlink a cell to a website.

If you’re using your sheet to track social media or website metrics, it can be helpful to have a reference column with the links each row is tracking. If you add a URL directly into Excel, it should automatically be clickable. But, if you have to hyperlink words, such as a page title or the headline of a post you’re tracking, here’s how.¬†

Highlight the words you want to hyperlink, then press Shift K. From there a box will pop up allowing you to place the hyperlink URL. Copy and paste the URL into this box and hit or click Enter. 

If the key shortcut isn’t working for any reason, you can also do this manually by highlighting the cell and clicking Insert > Hyperlink.¬†

18. Add drop-down menus.

Sometimes, you’ll be using your spreadsheet to track processes or other qualitative things. Rather than writing words into your sheet repetitively, such as “Yes”, “No”, “Customer Stage”, “Sales Lead”, or “Prospect”, you can use dropdown menus to quickly mark descriptive things about your contacts or whatever you’re tracking.¬†

Here’s how to add drop-downs to your cells.¬†

Highlight the cells you want the drop-downs to be in, then click the Data menu in the top navigation and press Validation. 

Data Validation in Microsoft Excel

From there, you’ll see a Data Validation Settings box open. Look at the Allow options, then click Lists and select Drop-down List. Check the In-Cell dropdown button, then press OK.

Other Excel Help Resources

Want more Excel tips? Check out this tutorial on how to make a chart or graph in Excel.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 but was updated in October 2019 for comprehensiveness.

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