6 Stats that Prove the Importance of Product Videos for Ecommerce

Producing quality videos for your ecommerce site is hard, we know. Equipment is expensive, and specialists who know how to use that equipment cost even more. For that very reason, many ecommerce businesses will settle for photos and graphics just to get the job done.

These video marketing statistics show that video might just be an investment worth making. Sure, you’ll have to dig a little deeper into those pockets at first, but the results will return more than you dreamed.

Product Video Stats Marketers Need to Know

1. Video is the #1 content type used by marketers to sell products and services.

In our Not Another State of Marketing Report, marketers surveyed said that video is the top content type being produced in their content marketing programs, passing blog posts for the first time ever. 

2. More than half of marketers invest in some sort of product-related video.

Also in the HubSpot report noted above, we found that nearly one quarter of marketers invested in product promotion videos, while nearly one fifth invested in product demos.  

3. 73% more visitors who watch product videos will make a purchase. 

Did you know that your products are more likely to sell if you create videos for them? There are quite a few reasons for this, which we’ll cover in the next points. The most important thing to note, however, is simply that videos for your products do prompt more purchases. That’s really the biggest and most important statistic you need.

4. 92% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy — up from 78% in 2015.

According to the late-2019 Wyzowl Survey that polled marketers about their video tactics, the number above was up from 78% in 2015. With a stat like this, there’s almost no question that marketers are finding video valuable and worth their investment.

5. 71% of consumers prefer video over other marketing content.

When consumers feel like they understand the products you sell, they’re more likely to take a chance on spending their money. Video clears up a lot of that confusion. Isn’t that what your marketing is all about, anyway? Answering questions with quality content? 

6. 87% of Gen Z prefers branded videos or ads that show someone talking about a product.

Gen Z is one of the most digitally connected, and most budget-conscious, generations out there. And, as they reach full purchasing potential, you’ll want to keep their buyer’s journey behavior in mind.

As people in the age group research products, they’ll look for video-based ads, demos, tutorials, unboxings, or video reviews from influencers in order to see how well the product works and what it looks like in real life.

7. 55% of consumers use videos for purchase decisions.

While Gen Z most heavily relies on videos to research products, other age groups aren’t that different. More than half of people in all age groups use video to make a purchasing decision, according to 2019 data from Google.

A man looks at a list on his phone. “I’m not a list guy. I have it in my brain. I’ll watch the video in the plumbing or electrical aisle to make sure I’ve got everything I need.” 55% of shoppers say they use online video while actually shopping in-store.

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Ultimately, authentic videos can lead to a greater sense of trust. By providing product videos, you give buyers quality information that doesn’t hide behind good angles and lighting. They understand the products they’re ordering and are happier with their purchases. With every great transaction, you build more and more trust.

Video Stat Knowledge Check

Think you know your video stats? Test yourself with the interactive quiz below to see how well you soaked in the details above. Try not to peak as you answer each question:

 

Creating an Engaging Product Video

A consumer who trusts your business is worth the investment you’ll make in product video production, isn’t it?

If the stats above have intrigued you, and your ready to invest in your first product video, consider what you’d like to try out first. Here are a few examples of product video formats:

  • Demos/Tutorials: These videos walk through how the product or service works so a consumer can see how it functions in a real-world setting.
  • Influencer Marketing Videos: If you don’t have the time to produce product videos, but do have some budget to work with, you could consider hiring a macro or micro influencer to post a video on their networks where they talk about or promote your product.
  • Ads or Video Promotions: These videos are often shorter than tutorials. They merely highlight the product or service and all of it’s great features, but don’t necessarily need to go into full detail about how it works.
  • User-Generated Content: If you have happy customers that are using your product or service, encourage them to film a video review or unboxing that you can then share publicly over social media or on your website. When others see a real person talking about success they had with your brand, they might be more willing to trust your offerings.

To learn more about video marketing, check out this handy ultimate guide

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally written in February 2016, but was updated in July 2020 for freshness and comprehensiveness.

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A Brief History of Productivity: How Getting Stuff Done Became an Industry

Anyone who’s ever been a teenager is likely familiar with the question, “Why aren’t you doing something productive?” If only I knew, as an angsty 15-year-old, what I know after conducting the research for this article. If only I could respond to my parents with the brilliant retort, “You know, the idea of productivity actually dates back to before the 1800s.” If only I could ask, “Do you mean ‘productive’ in an economic or modern context?”

Back then, I would have been sent to my room for “acting smart.” But today, I’m a nerdy adult who is curious to know where today’s widespread fascination with productivity comes from. There are endless tools and apps that help us get more done — but where did they begin? 

If you ask me, productivity has become a booming business. And it’s not just my not-so-humble opinion — numbers and history support it. Let’s step back in time, and find out how we got here, and how getting stuff done became an industry.

What Is Productivity?

The Economic Context

Dictionary.com defines productivity as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” In an economic context, the meaning is similar — it’s essentially a measure of the output of goods and services available for monetary exchange.

How we tend to view productivity today is a bit different. While it remains a measure of getting stuff done, it seems like it’s gone a bit off the rails. It’s not just a measure of output anymore — it’s the idea of squeezing every bit of output that we can from a single day. It’s about getting more done in shrinking amounts of time.

It’s a fundamental concept that seems to exist at every level, including a federal one — the Brookings Institution reports that even the U.S. government, for its part, “is doing more with less” by trying to implement more programs with a decreasing number of experts on the payroll.

The Modern Context

And it’s not just the government. Many employers — and employees — are trying to emulate this approach. For example, CBRE Americas CEO Jim Wilson told Forbes, “Our clients are focused on doing more and producing more with less. Everybody’s focused on what they can do to boost productivity within the context of the workplace.”

It makes sense that someone would view that widespread perspective as an opportunity. There was an unmet need for tools and resources that would solve the omnipresent never-enough-hours-in-the-day problem. And so it was monetized to the point where, today, we have things like $25 notebooks — the Bullet Journal, to be precise — and countless apps that promise to help us accomplish something at any time of day.

But how did we get here? How did the idea of getting stuff done become an industry?

A Brief History of Productivity

Pre-1800s

Productivity and Agriculture

In his article “The Wealth Of Nations Part 2 — The History Of Productivity,” investment strategist Bill Greiner does an excellent job of examining this concept on a purely economic level. In its earliest days, productivity was largely limited to agriculture — that is, the production and consumption of food. Throughout the world around that time, rural populations vastly outnumbered those in urban areas, suggesting that fewer people were dedicated to non-agricultural industry.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 10.29.31 AM.pngSource: United Nations Department of International Economic and Social Affairs

On top of that, prior to the 1800s, food preservation was, at most, archaic. After all, refrigeration wasn’t really available until 1834, which meant that crops had to be consumed fast, before they spoiled. There was little room for surplus, and the focus was mainly on survival. The idea of “getting stuff done” didn’t really exist yet, suppressing the idea of productivity.

The Birth of the To-Do List

It was shortly before the 19th century that to-do lists began to surface, as well. In 1791, Benjamin Franklin recorded what was one of the earliest-known forms of it, mostly with the intention of contributing something of value to society each day — the list opened with the question, “What good shall I do this day?”

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 10.29.31 AM.pngSource: Daily Dot

The items on Franklin’s list seemed to indicate a shift in focus from survival to completing daily tasks — things like “dine,” “overlook my accounts,” and “work.” It was almost a precursor to the U.S. Industrial Revolution, which is estimated to have begun within the first two decades of the nineteenth century. The New York Stock & Exchange Board was officially established in 1817, for example, signaling big changes to the idea of trade — society was drifting away from the singular goal of survival, to broader aspirations of monetization, convenience, and scale.

1790 – 1914

The Industrial Revolution actually began in Great Britain in the mid-1700s, and began to show signs of existence in the U.S. in 1794, with the invention of the cotton gin — which mechanically removed the seeds from cotton plants. It increased the rate of production so much that cotton eventually became a leading U.S. export and “vastly increased the wealth of this country,” writes Joseph Wickham Roe.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 1.55.09 PM.pngSource: Gregory Clark

It was one of the first steps in a societal step toward automation — to require less human labor, which often slowed down production and resulted in smaller output. Notice in the table below that, beginning in 1880, machinery added the greatest value to the U.S. economy. So from the invention of the cotton gin to the 1913 unveiling of Ford’s inaugural assembly line (note that “automotive” was added to the table below in 1920), there was a common goal among the many advances of the Industrial Revolution: To produce more in — you guessed it — less time.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 2.19.12 PM.pngSource: Joel Mokyr

1914 – 1970s

Pre-War Production

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 2.25.52 PM.pngSource: Joel Mokyr

Advances in technology — and the resulting higher rate of production — meant more employment was becoming available in industrial sectors, reducing the agricultural workforce. But people may have also become busier, leading to the invention and sale of consumable scheduling tools, like paper day planners.

According to the Boston Globe, the rising popularity of daily diaries coincided with industrial progression, with one of the earliest known to-do lists available for purchase — the Wanamaker Diary — debuting in the 1900s. Created by department store owner John Wanamaker, the planner’s pages were interspersed with print ads for the store’s catalogue, achieving two newly commercial goals: Helping an increasingly busier population plan its days, as well as advertising the goods that would help to make life easier.

Wanamaker_Diary_TP2 (1).jpgSource: Boston Globe

World War I

But there was a disruption to productivity in the 1900s, when the U.S. entered World War I, from April 1917 to the war’s end in November 1918. Between 1918 and at least 1920 both industrial production and the labor force shrank, setting the tone for several years of economic instability. The stock market grew quickly after the war, only to crash in 1929 and lead to the 10-year Great Depression. Suddenly, the focus was on survival again, especially with the U.S. entrance into World War II in 1941.

GDP_depression.svgSource: William D. O’Neil

But look closely at the above chart. After 1939, the U.S. GDP actually grew. That’s because there was a revitalized need for production, mostly of war materials. On top of that, the World War II era saw the introduction of women into the workforce in large numbers — in some nations, women comprised 80% of the total addition to the workforce during the war.

World War II and the Evolving Workforce

The growing presence of women in the workforce had major implications for the way productivity is thought of today. Starting no later than 1948 — three years after World War II’s end — the number of women in the workforce only continued to grow, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That suggests larger numbers of women were stepping away from full-time domestic roles, but many still had certain demands at home — by 1975, for example, mothers of children under 18 made up nearly half of the workforce. That created a newly unmet need for convenience — a way to fulfill these demands at work and at home.

Once again, a growing percentage of the population was strapped for time, but had increasing responsibilities. That created a new opportunity for certain industries to present new solutions to what was a nearly 200-year-old problem, but had been reframed for a modern context. And it began with food production.

1970s – 1990s

The 1970s and the Food Industry

With more people — men and women — spending less time at home, there was a greater need for convenience. More time was spent commuting and working, and less time was spent preparing meals, for example.

The food industry, therefore, was one of the first to respond in kind. It recognized that the time available to everyone for certain household chores was beginning to diminish, and began to offer solutions that helped people — say it with us — accomplish more in fewer hours.

Those solutions actually began with packaged foods like cake mixes and canned goods that dated back to the 1950s, when TV dinners also hit the market — 17 years later, microwave ovens became available for about $500 each.

But the 1970s saw an uptick in fast food consumption, with Americans spending roughly $6 billion on it at the start of the decade. As Eric Schlosser writes in Fast Food Nation, “A nation’s diet can be more revealing than its art or literature.” This growing availability and consumption of prepared food revealed that we were becoming obsessed with maximizing our time — and with, in a word, productivity.

The Growth of Time-Saving Technology

Technology became a bigger part of the picture, too. With the invention of the personal computer in the 1970s and the World Wide Web in the 1980s, productivity solutions were becoming more digital. Microsoft, founded in 1975, was one of the first to offer them, with a suite of programs released in the late 1990s to help people stay organized, and integrate their to-do lists with an increasingly online presence.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 9.58.58 AM.pngSource: Wayback Machine

It was preceded by a 1992 version of a smartphone called Simon, which included portable scheduling features. That introduced the idea of being able to remotely book meetings and manage a calendar, saving time that would have been spent on such tasks after returning to one’s desk. It paved the way for calendar-ready PDAs, or personal digital assistants, which became available in the late 1990s.

By then, the idea of productivity was no longer on the brink of becoming an industry — it was an industry. It would simply become a bigger one in the decades to follow.

The Early 2000s

The Modern To-Do List

Once digital productivity tools became available in the 1990s, the release of new and improved technologies came at a remarkable rate — especially when compared to the pace of developments in preceding centuries.

In addition to Microsoft, Google is credited as becoming a leader in this space. By the end of 2000, it won two Webby Awards and was cited by PC Magazine for its “uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results.” It was yet another form of time-saving technology, by helping people find the information they were seeking in a way that was more seamless than, say, using a library card catalog.

In April 2006, Google Calendar was unveiled, becoming one of the first technologies that allowed users to share their schedules with others, helping to mitigate the time-consuming exchanges often required of setting up meetings. It wasn’t long before Google also released Google Apps for Your Domain that summer, providing businesses with an all-in-one solution — email, voicemail, calendars, and web development tools, among others.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 6.35.20 AM.pngSource: Wayback Machine

During the first 10 years of the century, Apple was experiencing a brand revitalization. The first iPod was released in 2001, followed by the MacBook Pro in 2006 and the iPhone in January 2007 — all of which would have huge implications for the widespread idea of productivity.

2008 – 2014

Search Engines That Talk — and Listen

When the iPhone 4S was released in 2011, it came equipped with Siri, “an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” Google had already implemented voice search technology in 2008, but it didn’t garner quite as much public attention — most likely because it required a separate app download. Siri, conversely, was already installed in the Apple mobile hardware, and users only had to push the iPhone’s home button and ask a question conversationally.

But both offered further time-saving solutions. To hear weather and sports scores, for examples, users no longer had to open a separate app, wait for a televised report, or type in searches. All they had to do was ask.

By 2014, voice search had become commonplace, with multiple brands — including Microsoft and Amazon — offering their own technologies. Here’s how its major pillars look today:

Pillars_of_Voice_Search-2.png

The Latest Generation of Personal Digital Assistants

With the 2014 debut of Amazon Echo, voice activation wasn’t just about searching anymore. It was about full-blown artificial intelligence that could integrate with our day-to-day lives. It was starting to converge with the Internet of Things — the technology that allowed things in the home, for example, to be controlled digitally and remotely — and continued to replace manual, human steps with intelligent machine operation. We were busier than ever, with some reporting 18-hour workdays and, therefore, diminishing time to get anything done outside of our employment.

Here was the latest solution, at least for those who could afford the technology. Users didn’t have to manually look things up, turn on the news, or write down to-do and shopping lists. They could ask a machine to do it with a command as simple as, “Alexa, order more dog food.”

Of course, competition would eventually enter the picture and Amazon would no longer stand alone in the personal assistant technology space. It made sense that Google — who had long since established itself as a leader in the productivity industry — would enter the market with Google Home, released in 2016, and offering much of the same convenience as the Echo.

Of course, neither one has the same exact capabilities as the other — yet. But let’s pause here, and reflect on how far we’ve come.

2015 to 2020

Smart Devices are Everywhere

The Amazon Echo was just the beginning of smart devices that could help us plan out our day. We now have smart thermostats that schedule our heating and cooling, refrigerators that notify us when we’re low on food, TVs with every streaming service we need, and a handful of other appliances that schedule themselves around on our lifestyle.

While some might worry that smart devices could limit our level of motivation and productivity, others might disagree. Smart devices often free us up from mundane tasks while allowing us more time to focus on more productive things that are more important.

Big Data Powers Business Productivity

With technology like artificial intelligence, automation, analytics tools. and contact management systems, we are now able to gather more data about our audiences and customers quickly with the click of just a few buttons. This data has allowed marketers, as well as strategists in other departments to build tactics that engage audiences, please customers, generate revenue, and even offer major ROI. 

Want to see an example? Here’s a great case study on how one successful agency used AI and analytics software to gather, report, and strategize around valuable client data.

Offices Rely on Productivity Tools

We’ve come a long way from Google Calendar. Each day, you might use a messaging system like Slack, a video software like Zoom, or task-management tools like Trello, Asana, or Jira to keep your work on track. 

Aside from keeping employees on task, these tools have been especially important for keeping teams connected and on the same page. As modern workplaces increasingly embrace remote and international teammates, they’re also investing in digital task management and productivity tools that can keep everyone in the loop.  

Looking to boost your digital tool stack? Check out this list of productivity tools, especially if you’re working remotely. 

Where Productivity Is Now — and Where It’s Going

We started this journey in the 1700s with Benjamin Franklin’s to-do list. Now, here we are, over two centuries later, with intelligent machines making those lists and managing our lives for us.

Have a look at the total assets of some leaders in this space (as of the writing of this post, in USD):

Over time — hundreds of years, in fact — technology has made things more convenient for us. But as the above list shows, it’s also earned a lot of money for a lot of people. And those figures leave little doubt that, today, productivity is an industry, and a booming one at that.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2017, but was updated in July 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness. 

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Author: Amanda Zantal-Wiener

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From Coffee Shops to Cat Videos: 13 Unexpected Productivity Hacks That Actually Work

Recently, a friend of mine asked me how my day was.

“Busy, but productive,” I replied.

But what did that even mean? I suppose what I’d really meant was that all I did was work: I got to work early, worked through lunch, broke for dinner, and then proceeded to sign back online to wrap a few things up after that. And now that I think about it, I barely even moved. 

Many of us have this distorted idea of productivity where the more hours you put in, the more work you put out. The less you socialize during the day, the more work you put out. The less you move during the day, the more work you put out. 

Trouble is, that’s not entirely true. In fact, countless studies have proven that some of the things we might think of as “a waste of time” — preparing and eating a healthy breakfast, watching a kitten video, taking a midday run — actually boost our productivity by leaps and bounds. 

To help put this idea in perspective, check out the following counterintuitive productivity hacks. Sure, they may sound a little strange, but don’t let that deter you from trying them for yourself. 

13 Unexpected Productivity Hacks That Actually Work

1. Build your schedule around your energy levels.

Each person has their own unique biological schedule called a circadian rhythm. This rhythm makes you tired at night and keeps you awake during the day. It also can determine your lulls and piques in energy. 

To optimize your schedule for the most productive work, be honest about when your pique energy hours and schedule your most intricate or important projects then.

Scheduling work around pique energy and creativity times is a tactic HubSpot Marketing Blog Editor Caroline Forsey uses regularly. 

“I know I work best in the morning,” Forsey explains. “I will snooze Slack notifications, put my phone away, and close my email tab, so I can focus during those two to three hours when I’m feeling most creative.”

2. Consider working less each week.

You might worry that working less will cause you to get less done. Actually, that’s far from the truth.

Not only does working long hours cause health problems, but there’s a wide body of research that shows productivity actually improves with shorter hours.

A study published by John Pencavel of Standford University found that how much employees get done takes a sharp drop after 50 hours of work in a week, and even more drastically after 55 hours. The study found that employees working 70 hours per week actually produce nothing more in those extra 15 hours.

What gives? Well, the more you work, the more mentally and physically tired you become. At some point — usually around the eighth hour of work in a given day, according to Sara Robinson in Salon — the resulting fatigue causes a drop in productivity. Unless you’re invigorated by something like a critical deadline, you’re unlikely to deliver to your full potential at that point.

In Jeff Sutherland’s book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, he writes about the threshold above which working more hours meant people stopped producing more output. It happened on a curve, he explains, which he calls the “Maxwell Curve”:

scrum-graph.png

Image Credit: Slate

The Y-axis is productivity and the X-axis is hours of work. Notice the peak of productivity falls just under 40 hours per week, although that curve will vary for different people — or even for the same person, but at different times in his or her life. 

3. Eat your breakfast.

You might be thinking to yourself, “the faster I get out the door, the faster I’ll be able to start working, and the more I’ll get done.” Not so fast, though. What we eat — and whether we eat — actually has a direct impact on our performance at work.

We all wake up with low blood sugar first thing in the morning because we’ve technically been fasting for the past eight or so hours. That means that many of us wake up feeling tired, sluggish, apathetic, and even a little irritable. While your morning coffee can give you a solid caffeine boost, you’re likely in for a crash later that’ll harm your productivity.

Instead, opt for healthy breakfast foods with the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that’ll give you the energy you need to start a productive day. Foods rich in vitamin B — like oatmeal, bananas, pineapple, and avocados — can help improve your concentration. Avoid breakfast foods with added sugar like sugary cereal, donuts, Pop Tarts, and even bagels. Here are some more breakfast food ideas from our productivity diet infographic

breakfast-ideas-for-productivity.jpg

4. Get a proper amount of sleep. 

The rumors are true: You need an adequate amount of sleep if you want to get more work (and better work) done throughout the day. So before you hop back online after dinner to keep working, think twice. 

Not only does lack of sleep have both long- and short-term health implications, but it’s also a big, big productivity killer. According to a study from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, sleep-related reductions in productivity cost $3,156 per employee with insomnia, and averaged about $2,500 for those with less severe sleep problems.

How much sleep do you need to be productive? It varies a little from person to person, but not as much as you might think it does. Only 1–3% of people can actually pull off sleeping five or six hours a night without their performance suffering. In fact, most adults need seven or eight hours of sleep per night to operate at peak productivity the following day. Read this blog post for tips on getting the most out of your sleep.

5. Try not to be a perfectionist.

Perfectionism, while helpful in certain contexts, can be a major roadblock for productivity. Yes, there will always be something you can do to make a piece of work a little better. But what are you sacrificing by making minor improvements? At some point, you should be asking yourself: When is good enough good enough?

Keith Frankel wrote a thoughtful piece on our blog outlining a formula for “good enough.” He wrote about how he used to think of “done” as spending “every possible moment working on something — improving, polishing, and refining it — until I absolutely have to ship it.” But that wasn’t realistic. Here’s the formula for “good enough” that he came up with:

  1. It successfully solves the problem, addresses the need, or conveys the message intended.
  2. It is clearly and distinctly on brand.
  3. The quality of work is consistent with or above the level of previous work.
  4. It has been thoroughly yet objectively scrutinized by other qualified individuals.
  5. The final decision of preference had been left in the hands of the creator.

Once you come to the point where you feel comfortable deciding something’s good enough to move on … just move on.

6. Take a real lunch break, not a “working lunch.”

In a recent article for Jezebel (warning: NSFW language), Tracy Moore took a humorous yet science-backed stance on why we should take breaks regularly. Apparently, only one in five people actually leave their desks or the office for a lunch break. NPR took a look at the consequences of this, and found that staying in one place all day is “bad for thinking, bad for creativity, bad for productivity, [and] bad for your body.”

It doesn’t even matter if you eat during that lunch break — “you just need to get out,” Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management who studies workplace psychology, told NPR. “And it doesn’t have to be between 12:00 P.M. and 1:00 P.M. to have a positive impact. It can be just going outside and taking a walk around the block. That in itself is really restorative.”

7. Don’t discredit the power of naps.

There’s a reason many modern workplaces boast nap rooms in the office: It’s to boost employees’ productivity during the rest of the workday.

How? While a nap won’t make up for a poor night’s sleep, studies show taking a power nap in the middle of the day can help you process new information and even learn new skills. Recently, CBS News investigated the benefits of napping in the workplace. In the report, which you can watch below, CBS interviewed a number of psychologists in executives about the topic. They even featured our own CEO, Brian Halligan. 

If you find it impossible to take a nap in your work environment, try taking a break to take a walk or even daydream.

8. Look at pictures of cute baby animals.

I’ll never forget the day in 2012 when a study by Hiroshima University in Japan blew up the internet. It found that the simple act of viewing images of cute animals can significantly increase your performance on tasks involving concentration.

After looking at images of baby animals, participants in the study performed 44% better in concentration tasks than they did when they performed the same task before looking at images of baby animals. And it was images of baby animals — as opposed to adult animals or pleasant-looking foods — that caused the biggest productivity increase.

baby-animals-productivity.png

Image Credit:

In a hilarious medley of simple and technical language, the study concluded that “cute objects may be used as an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”

In other words, bookmark this BuzzFeed article for when you need a productivity boost. (And bookmark this one for when you need a mood boost.)

9. Clean your workspace.

Many of us find it hard to concentrate when our desks look like a tornado just went through. The papers, the crumbs, the piles of books we’re never going to read … it can all cause quite a bit of stress, and has actually been proven, in some cases, to undermine our productivity.

For instance, OfficeMax surveyed over 1,000 American adults and found that 90% of them believe clutter has a negative impact on their lives and work. Specifically, they found that 77% of them believe cluttered workspaces damage their productivity, and more than half believe it impairs their state of mind and motivation levels.

If you’re one of the many people now working remotely, a messy workspace or home can make things even more distracting than office disorganization.

But. on the other hand, some people claim to love their messy desks, and there are actually studies out there that have found, for example, that disordered environments make people focus on their goals more effectively. In the end, it’s all about “being honest about your clutter style,” Julia Mossbridge, M.A., PhD, and visiting scholar at Northwestern University Department of Psychology, told Fast Company. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wasting time working against your natural tendencies.

10. Make a work playlist.

Can listening to music while you work actually make you more productive? Yes — but it’s not a direct cause-and-effect relationship. It turns out listening to music while you work can increase productivity, but mostly because it makes you happy, which prompts your brain to increase dopamine.

One study published by the University of Windsor in Canada looked at how listening to music affected work quality and time-on-task of software design, specifically. The study found that software developers who listened to music finished tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t — but for a very specific reason: because the music improved their mood.

“When you’re stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention,” said Teresa Lesiuk, who headed the study. “When you’re in a positive mood, you’re able to take in more options.”

The study found that personal choice for what you were listening to mattered a lot. After all, if you don’t like classical music, why would listening to it make you happier? So put on a pair of headphones and check out this list of six science-backed music playlists for increasing your productivity.

11. Visit a coffee shop.

While music by itself may not be responsible for a productivity boost, studies show that the ambient sounds of a coffee shop can be. A study published by the Journal of Consumer Research explored the effects of ambient noise on creativity. Results from five experiments concluded that a moderate level of ambient noise (70 decibels, which is roughly how loud the music in a coffee shop would be) enhances performance on creative tasks. A high level of noise (85 decibels, or about how loud a motorcycle sounds when it passes you) hurts creativity.

If you can’t escape to a coffee shop, you can recreate the ambient buzz of a coffee shop with Cofftivity. It offers non-stop coffee shop background sounds at varying intensities, from “Morning Murmur” and “University Undertones” to “Lunchtime Lounge” and “Brazil Bistro.”

12. Exercise during the workday.

Chances are, you’ve heard that regular exercise can do wonders for your health, happiness, and productivity. But what about exercising during the workday? Researchers have actually found that people who exercise during normal working hours are actually more productive at work, even though they technically logged fewer hours. Here are 10 ideas for sneaking in exercise at work without looking silly, from taking short “active breaks” to replacing your desk chair with a stability ball.

13. Use your vacation time.

Burnout is real, folks. When you work for months and months without taking a significant break, you risk sliding into a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

The benefits of taking time off for your productivity and work performance are more numerous than you might think. Almost nine out of ten American workers feel like time off increases their happiness — which, in turn, can do wonders for your productivity. Not to mention 91% of business leaders believe their employees return recharged and ready to work more effectively.

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Plus, a healthy dose of time off means you’ll create lasting memories with family and friends, which can reduce your stress levels and risk of depression, high blood pressure, and weight gain. But it’s up to you to give yourself that time off: No one’s gonna do it for you. In the end, you’ll be more productive for it.

More Productivity Tips

If you don’t think some items on this list aren’t doable for your lifestyle or schedule, don’t worry, This list isn’t exhaustive — and people have been developing productivity hacks for centuries.

For more productivity tactics, check out this post on productivity hacks for remote employees, and this list of productivity tools

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2016, but was updated in July 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness. 

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14 Reporting and Business Intelligence Tools For Your Marketing Toolkit

Whether you’re conducting a blog traffic audit or analyzing the success of your most recent social media campaign, it’s undeniable that data is an integral part of any marketing role.

As HubSpot’s Director of Analytics, Bridget Zingale, says, “Reporting and attribution haverevolutionized marketing in every industry. Marketing data allows businesses to make more informed decisions about their audiences’ needs, challenges, and interests.”

Fortunately, there are dozens of analytics tools for marketers with the ability to collect data from different sources, crunch it effectively, and deliver helpful campaign analysis.

Ultimately, reporting tools should do more than just calculate — they should also make the marketer’s job easier, and more productive. Creating attractive and readable reports is key to ensuring that the results of your work are clear for your entire team.

Here, let’s dive into some of the best data reporting tools, as well as some effective business intelligence (BI) platforms, to enable you to properly analyze your work.

Best Business Intelligence & Data Reporting Tools

As Zingale notes, “Data points such as age, ethnicity, gender, location, education, and employment have informed marketing teams and heightened the impact of campaigns across the board.”

Good tools you use should give you the above metrics — but greattools give you more. If you’re one of the 75% of marketerswho report ROI from marketing campaigns, you’re going to need reliable, accurate data. Let’s explore the 14 best tools to help get you the data you need.

1. HubSpot

Price: Free

HubSpot’sfree marketing analytics softwareis useful for keeping all of your needs, including reporting, in one place. HubSpot lets you combine all of your marketing efforts into one report, or mix-and-match your different assets to create different reports for different clients and needs.

HubSpot's analytics

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HubSpot’s marketing analytics dashboard is just as customizable, allowing you to add and remove different reports with ease. Best of all, you can get both a general overview and specific insights into your work’s performance, since you can easily move between different marketing reports within HubSpot.

2. Calendar

Price: Free plan, or $6-$8/mo.

Calendar offers analytics of a slightly different sort: productivity. It has a number of features designed to analyze how your team’s time is spent. By tracking your moment-to-moment activities on a daily basis, you can identify key areas in which your schedule could be improved.

Calendar's Analytics dashboard

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As important as it is to have your marketing analytics at your fingertips, knowing how you use your time is just as important for maximizing output. Calendar’s clear and simple reporting tools give you helpful reports on what your agenda looks like and what you can do to make it better.

3. DashThis

Price: $33-$499/mo.

DashThis is an effective tool for keeping up with marketing analytics at a glance. As its name suggests, DashThis is a dashboard that provides clear data on your KPIs for campaigns. You can access quick metrics and reports from your dashboard, shown below:

An example of a report from DashThis.

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DashThis lets you select a template and then automatically fills that template with your data, greatly streamlining the reporting process. It also exports data into PDF files, which can be easily shared between team members.

4. Raven Tools

Price: $39-$399/mo.

Raven Tools offers many of the tools expected from reporting software — SEO analysis, social media engagement, funnel performance tracking — as well as competitor comparison.

A collection of metrics options for the Raven Tools dashboard.

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Whether it’s big-picture analyses like domain authority or small-scale comparisons of site functionality, Raven Tools lets you stay on top of how you’re faring in competitive spaces. Additionally, its drag-and-drop editor and report generator makes creating custom, professional-grade marketing reports easier.

5. Megalytic

Price: $40-$400/mo.

Megalytic eases the process of combining marketing data from lots of different sources. Plenty of tools on this list allow for the integration of different types of data, but Megalytic is especially designed to import data from a range of marketing software.

An example of a report from Megalytic.

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It takes only a couple of moments to access data from Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, Adwords, and more on Megalytic, and it can even process and report data stored in CSV files. If you’re looking to produce a comprehensive report that pulls together loads of disparate data into one place, Megalytic is a smart choice.

6. Klipfolio

Price: $49-$399/mo.

As important as it is for reporting tools to effectively take in and analyze data, they need to be able to produce readable reports, as well. Klipfolio is great for making sure your reports can be read and accessed with ease across technologies. Your results can be accessed on a single dashboard that updates in real-time.

The sophisticated dashboard of analytics from Klipfolio.

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Additionally, Klipfolio allows you to share access to your reports through Slack, email, or custom links, and it also enables you to sync your dashboards in real time across multiple devices such as smartphones, web browsers, and even TV screens. Being able to easily pull up your analytics dashboard at any moment on any number of devices is crucial for being able to report on-the-go or from various locations.

7. Mixpanel

Price: Free plan, or $89/mo.

Mixpanel is a tracking and reporting software tool that was initially created primarily for product managers, not marketers. As a result, its interface isn’t as streamlined or marketing-driven as some of the other options on this list, but it makes up for this with powerful analytics tools that give insight into how your work is faring.

Mixpanel is particularly attuned to identifying trends in engagement and count. It tracks how people engage with certain products over time and how different features influence user behavior with bright, colorful graphs.

Mixpanel campaign metrics and dashboard.

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If you’re especially interested in keeping track of how a certain site or product is performing, it can be a valuable tool for reporting on that kind of information. Mixpanel allows you to produce readable reports of uniquely high-level data analysis.

8. Intercom

Price: $87-$153/mo. 

Although Intercom is a messaging platform first and foremost, it also delivers a deep view of a company’s customer base. Through integrations with over 100 marketing tools, Intercom lets marketers track, segment, and identify similarities between their customers. One of the best use cases for Intercom’s BI features is account-based marketing and messaging.

Intercom's ABM messaging tool.

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Intercom displays performance figures for each stage of your sales and marketing funnel, helping you see where the best opportunities lie and how to tap into them. You can also break down metrics by individual representatives, teams, timeframes, and more.

9. G2

Price: Free

G2 is the go-to website for stacking up software tools against one another. G2 gives detailed charts for every category of marketing software, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each available product.

HubSpot's G2 page with reviews and responses.

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Need an enterprise resource planning tool? G2 covers those. What about an e-commerce platform? G2 can help you pick the best option in that category, too. Certain services, including staffing and translation services, are also reviewed by G2.

10. Databox

Price: Free plan, or $49-$248/mo.

Through integrations with HubSpot CRM, Google Analytics, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more, Databox compiles popular marketing services and social media into one interface. It comes with pre-configured report templates, but users can also design custom reports.Think of Databox like a dashboard for your dashboards, where you can see valuable marketing and sales metrics.

Databox's breakdown of Analytics from Marketing and Sales.

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The reporting tool lets you view campaign KPIs, check progress, calculate investment returns, and receive notifications when metrics fall outside of specified ranges. Databox has a desktop version, of course, but it also displays data on mobile and via applications like Slack.

Statisticians and analysts may be more comfortable with reporting and BI than marketers, but these tools make it easy. Pick the right ones, and get data-driven campaign insights with ease.

11. MaxG

Price: Free plan, or $49-$499/mo.

MaxG is a platform that leverages AI to drive results. Their software prioritizes recommendations when delivering insights to eliminate guesswork about how to improve content.

The reports are broken down into metrics, shown below. MaxG’s software keeps track of how many users interacted with various content across your webpages.

MaxG's metrics by KPI.

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The platform offers insights on multiple metrics, including email campaigns, landing pages, and CTAs. In addition to performance recommendations, the tool also provides resources that educate its users about various topics, like an informative blog post.

12. Microsoft Power BI

Price: $9.99-$4,995/mo.

This service is offered by Microsoft. If you want to integrate data directly into reports, this is a good tool for you. Power BI is a useful tool, and was formulated by the engineers at the company so users can get powerful, full-scale analytics at a low cost.

An exported Analytics report from Excel via Power BI.

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Power BI’s analytics are able to scale for organizations of any size. It boasts built-in AI software that offers custom data metrics. You’ll also have a brilliant display of visualizations to go along with your insights.

You can use Power BI to query your data and edit it without affecting other programs you use. In addition to an Excel integration, the software’s dashboard is easy to navigate.

13. Datapine

Price: Contact for pricing

With Datapine, you’ll have access to reporting tools that communicate KPIs on a single dashboard. The quick access to real-time, accurate metrics saves you time and keeps your team on the same page.

If you don’t have much technical experience, you won’t have to worry — Datapine is easy to navigate and analyze. The platform is also highly integratable, so you can customize results from other sources.

Datapine's organized Analytics dashboard.

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Personalize further by dragging and dropping KPIs that mean the most onto your dashboard. Datapine gives you access to a global performance filter and predictive analysis. Essentially, the AI-powered software combs through data and suggests improvements.

Let’s say you need an inclusive, sophisticated report that’s quick to gather. Datapine lets you export dashboards by emails, URL, or with an embed code, which is handy for your presentation.

14. Zoho Analytics

Price: $22-$445/mo.

Zoho Analytics is a part of the larger Zoho Cloud software suite. With it, you can synchronize data that’s spread across multiple sources. The data will sync on a periodic basis so you won’t have to worry about continuously deducing the numbers.

Like other platforms, Zoho’s reports are completely customizable. Some of the options you can include are split columns, cleanup data, and calculated fields. This is so you can receive the data that matters most to your business goals.

Zoho Analytics' expansive global insights dashboard.

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If you want to compare data from multiple sources, add lookup columns so they’ll be included in reports. As another feature of reports, format the data to your liking. With over 40 chart types, like geographical maps, funnels, tables, and heat maps, reports can be extremely detailed and streamlined.

As marketers, we use data daily. It’s an integral part of what we have to do for our jobs. That’s why it’s a necessity to have data that works for you.

If, right now, your data reporting tool is nothing short of a headache, one of these tools can be a great places to start. They’re going to offer you personalized results that you can share with your team, which will keep everyone aligned.

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Author: John Hall

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The Key Role Technical Marketing Can Play in Content Strategy

Technical marketing is a key aspect of a successful content marketing strategy, particularly if your organization deals with complex products and services.

But it can be difficult when your marketers don’t have a firm understanding of the technical aspects behind your product.

Without technical expertise, your marketing team likely has a difficult time executing on content that will resonate with your core audience and — ultimately — turning readers into customers.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at why technical marketing is so important, as well as the skills necessary to successfully implement it as part of your wider marketing strategy.

But first, let’s take a look at what technical marketing actually is.

What is technical marketing?

Technical marketing may be a confusing term, with differing definitions.

In more recent times, it has been used to reference the technology increasingly used in the marketing industry.

Historically, however, it refers to a specific type of marketing that focuses primarily on the specifications and, of course, ‘technical’ aspects of a product or service. It’s this second understanding that we will be focusing on.

This type of marketing centers on exactly how a product or service works, and therefore the detail of exactly how it will benefit the user. This is typically more necessary in technical fields where the products are more complex such as engineering electronics, and equally in other complex areas such as finance.

Why is technical marketing important?

Technical marketing is a crucial part of any marketing strategy, particularly when consumers are very knowledgeable about the subject matter and have a detailed understanding of the product or service.

More generalist marketing, and providing more of an ‘overview’ of a product, is not likely to cut it with these consumers — they require more in-depth information. Technical marketing is therefore a necessary component of content strategy, in order to engage, attract, and delight a more technical audience.

Since Google’s Medic Update, there’s been a huge spotlight on EAT-ing, or content that demonstrates Expertise, Authority & Trust.

Positioning content that covers technical aspects of a service or product, then, should also help to improve rankings… if it’s done properly.

So, technical marketing is clearly a key part of your marketing strategy. But how do you achieve it?

Technical Marketing Skills

To successfully incorporate technical marketing into your content strategy, there are some key skills that your technical marketing team will need to hone.

Let’s break this down into content marketing as a whole, qualities required of a technical marketing manager, and those of a technical marketing writer.

Technical Content Marketing

Technical content marketing should play just as big of a role in your content strategy as any other marketing activity.

Marketing is all about understanding your audience’s needs and pain points, and navigating them towards a useful solution. Yet typically, this form of marketing will require an even greater dose of creativity, with a need to continually search for new avenues to make technical and complex products and services fascinating, and arrive in the hands of the right people.

To incorporate technical content marketing into content planning and wider strategy, we’ve put together some key considerations and essentials:

  • Targeting a range of areas. Considered purchases such as those that require technical marketing might need content targeting multiple stakeholders, and various pain points, if your product affects several business areas. For instance, sales-driven technical content, marketing, accounts etc. For this reason, you’ll have to really contextualize and hone in on your personas pain points, and how best to approach them.
  • Targeted content offers. Talking about in-depth topics through different content platforms and communicating about the product in a more thorough manner assumes a level of knowledge with prospects, thereby attracting a better fit and more qualified visits to your website. Consider technical readouts, product demos, user manuals, setup checklists, training materials, or online courses. Technical video tends to be a great format, but you’ll need to judge what works best for your market!
  • Think about all of the buyer’s journey stages. Come up with consideration and decision-stage content or flesh out personas based on common specification questions. Case studies on specific use cases and scenarios will help build trust and establish fit, and help consumers to better weigh up the product or service. And don’t forget the delight stage content! Improve the retention of your products and services, and create real brand advocates through FAQ’s, How-to’s, and videos.
  • “Versus” and “Or”. You need to understand and cater to comparison-focused searches such as “versus” and “or” in your content planning. “Your product vs. competitor product” is a key stage in the consideration phase of your prospective buyer’s journey. For example, prospective TV buyers might search for “OLED vs. QLED model benefits”.
  • Think about how you can upsell. If customers are engaging with advice and help-driven content, you may be able to identify opportunities to upsell! For example, if an existing customer views or downloads information on higher product tiers, or functionality available in paid add-ons, your sales team might reach out to discuss potential upgrades.
  • Work backwards. This may sound counterintuitive, but start from the feature. You’re probably used to the following formula: persona > pain point > search term research > advice-driven content > relevant product or service. Yet, if this starting information isn’t available to you, or your personas pain points aren’t well-defined, you can reverse engineer the process. For instance, let’s say you’re a HubSpot Partner and you want to better promote the chatbot software to your SaaS personas … you may write content about how automating routine support questions improves service team response times. This way, you can target your content around the product in the most helpful way.

Technical Marketing Manager

So what does it take to be a technical marketing manager and to implement all of the above into your content marketing strategy? There are certainly some key characteristics necessary to this role, and some definite skills to hone. Here are some of the most important aspects to consider:

  • Public speaking skills. This may be unexpected, but it’s an incredibly important skill in technical marketing, as part of a wider content marketing strategy. Given that the content that tends to perform well are conferences, video, and presentations, a technical marketing manager must be able to communicate technical aspects in this thought leadership setting.
  • Training skills. Similarly, another content form that lends itself well to this style of marketing is training courses on the products and services offered. Great training skills are therefore necessary, both for online and in-person technical training.
  • Big picture view. It’s essential that a technical marketing manager has wider business knowledge, to understand the ROI for the specific product, as well as the product’s use cases. Wider industry knowledge is also a must, with an understanding of complementary or substitute products on the market. For example, if you think about your prospect’s existing subscriptions or tool stack, a detailed overview of the specifications and limitations of your product will highlight where your offering will complement or overlap with their existing tools.
  • Deal with objections. With more involvement in business operations, your concrete understanding of your product’s specifications will be necessary to better explain where the features are adding value.
  • Problem-solving. Ultimately, marketing is all about helping consumers solve their problems. It’s therefore important to be consultative and empathetic, allowing you to explore and further advise prospect’s decision-making processes by continually looking at specific needs, and aligning features and uses of the product to this.
  • An honest and understanding approach. As well as being empathetic, it’s also important to be helpful so that prospects make the most informed decisions on product fit and commitment. Consider questions like, ‘Does the service offering tick all their boxes? How much time and money will they need to commit to adopt your product?’

Ultimately, all of this comes down to the technical marketing manager’s strategic planning ability. It’s not just about all of this information that you’ve gathered from the industry and personas, but what you do with it.

You have to think about how best to engage a technical audience, which takes real time, planning, and market research, as well as how this may fit in with wider business goals.

Technical Marketing Writer

So we’ve looked at how you incorporate technical marketing into your strategy, as well as who’s responsible for the overarching goals, but we’re forgetting one exceptionally key piece of the puzzle: the technical marketing writer.

A technical marketing writer has a real responsibility to commit these ideas to paper (or video, as the case may be). Their content will be the driving force behind better qualified leads.

Here are a few aspects of content you’ll want any technical marketing writer to understand:

  • The content needs to live and breathe the product or service it’s related to, and the audience that desires it. Whether this be through product descriptions, web pages, or more general industry-related content that will drive traffic.
  • It’s not just a strategist that needs technical knowledge — the writer themselves will need a full understanding of a product or services’ USPs, abilities and benefits. And this should outweigh the understanding of the customer — there should be no questions left unanswered.
  • Similarly, this technical knowledge is essential for those that are putting pen to paper. They need to have the ability to best showcase the technical data of the product or service to position the company as an expert in the field.
  • They’ll also need strong research skills to get up-to-date knowledge on wider market trends, as well as the ability to retain and communicate this information to consumers, and showcase it in communication such as newsletters.
  • They will, of course, need to be an excellent writer. As we have seen, you need to understand your personas from a content platform perspective, but you’ll also need to know how to write for them. This includes tone of voice: is it appropriate to write it simplistically? Or will it be more fitting to include industry jargon?

Ultimately, technical marketing can be a really important component of your content marketing strategy if your industry or products and services lend themselves to it.

Technical marketing can help you attract more qualified leads and showcase your company as an expert in the industry. Create a clear technical marketing strategy so that you can cut through the marketing noise, and deliver an exciting and engaging message to your audience.

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Author: Izzy Green

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The Ins and Outs of Facebook Landing Pages

How many times have you interacted with an ad on Facebook and gotten lost down a rabbit hole? If you’re like me, your answer is probably up in the dozens. I could click on an ad about ice cream, and five minutes later, find myself looking at YouTube videos of homemade sundaes.

Sometimes, though, I come across an ad that’s seamless — They’re quick to grab my attention, and it tells me everything I need to know when I reach the landing page.

This morning, for example, I checked my timeline. I came across this ad while scrolling, and because I saw my favorite colors in the ad, I had to click on the image.

Example of a Facebook landing page.

The landing page wasn’t busy. In fact, the simplicity caught my attention. All the page had was text, an image, and a CTA. I noticed how the ad and landing page were centered around the same product.

It was effective because its only purpose was to get me to fill out the free trial offer, and that’s exactly what I did. After all, I wanted to track my personal Instagram posts.

As far as Facebook landing pages go, this one was great.

Have you ever made a landing page specifically for Facebook ads? If the thought of creating another landing page just for social media sounds like a burden you’d rather avoid, don’t worry. In most cases, you won’t need to make more than a few small adjustments to one you already have.

If you’re ready to dive into what makes Facebook landing pages a must for ads, read on, and let’s get started.

A landing page is a web page visitors “land” on when they engage with an ad or offer. The purpose of a landing page is to drive action by offering something of value in exchange for lead information. Usually, they’ll have a form to download a free ebook, receive a demo, get a template, or something similar.

Example of a good landing page.

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Good landing pages, like the one above, reflect the company and include at least one CTA. Facebook landing pages have the same goal.

Facebook landing pages refer to the ones attached to Facebook ads. They’re still meant to entice audience members to take action, but are optimized for use on Facebook.

Just like there’s best practices for creating landing pages for your website, there’s some for those linked to Facebook ads. They have to do with your ad goals and optimizing the content for audiences.

They shouldn’t differ largely from landing pages on your website, in fact, they should mirror your brand. You’ll just have different things to look for — So instead of traffic being the number one priority, now it might be the number of shares or comments. If you’re someone who benefits from visual examples like I do, don’t worry, we’ll go over best practices, as well.

So let’s dive into how to create a landing page that’ll be an amazing experience for your Facebook audience.

There’s no landing page creation tool for Facebook, but you can insert them into ads via Ad Manager to boost leads and conversions. Even without this function, the website has general pointers for making your pages stand out to audiences.

Facebook suggests making the page easy to navigate. The content should be straightforward and relevant to its supporting ad to prevent confusion. And finally, match the page with the overall branding of your website.

Those are pretty straightforward, right? Upload a page that’s comprehensive and branded. But there’s a little more to it than that — let’s take a deeper look at creating Facebook landing pages.

For this example, let’s pretend I’m creating a Facebook landing page for an ebook offer. The ebook is directly related to the services my fictional PR company, Off The Press Release, provides. This offer and ad are intended to increase conversions.

1. Choose a template.

I am not a website designer, so I decided to use a landing page builder to make mine, and it turned out looking awesome. For this design, I decided to use Wix, but you can use any software with webpage tools, like HubSpot or Mailchimp.

Wix template choices.

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When picking my template, I wanted to go with one that would best serve my offer. I decided that one with a simple form and text — that way, I wouldn’t have much to edit, and the static design wouldn’t distract Facebook viewers.

A simple template for a conversion ad is ideal. Landing pages should be a simple design so they don’t distract audiences from engaging with the right content. In this case, an ebook offer.

2. Brand the content.

With a template picked out, I changed the design to fit with my brand. First, I added new colors: Pink, and midnight blue, to match my company. Then, I changed the text to appear more conversational and relevant to my offer.

I wanted my copy to connect with my Facebook audience. Additionally, I chose colors that were appealing — They weren’t too bright or dim.

Wix's landing page editor.

Think about which logo, images, and copy will make your message come across the best to your Facebook audiences. If you’ve noticed your audience responds really well to cool tones, use the darker versions of your company colors for assets like landing pages.

If you’re stuck with coming up with copy that’ll speak to your customers, or want branding advice from experts, we’ve got you covered.

3. Make the CTA the star of the page.

This ad’s goal was to earn as many downloads as possible. To make that happen, I used the design to make the CTA the star by placing it in a visible position on the page. Doing this makes it only easier for audiences to complete the action.

How to edit the CTA on Wix.

The action you want Facebook users to take on your landing page should be clear. All copy should point to a clear CTA. It’s helpful to make the button a different color. I chose gray, for instance, because it was a color I hadn’t previously used.

Or let’s say you work for a retail company. If the ad intent is to boost sales, the landing page could be an offer for a percentage off in exchange for signing up for emails. Whatever you’re giving the consumer should be front and center, along with the button to get there.

4. Preview and test your page.

When you’re satisfied with your page, view it in preview mode. Seeing it from the viewer’s perspective catches mistakes. Additionally, you can make last minute changes to best fit multiple screen types.

Viewing a landing page in Preview mode on Wix.

If you have the time, test your page. One of Facebook’s Paid Ads managers, Nicole Ondracek, cites testing landing pages as a must. “Testing is very useful because we have the most concrete data about how to make our pages more effective for Facebook,” she says.

Check to see if your software has testing features. Mine did not, but HubSpot’s CRM and Facebook both have testing tools that could give useful data, like conversions and click-through rates. I could run a landing page A/B test using HubSpot’s software, then test the ad using the winning A/B test page.

5. Upload it into the Ad Manager.

When you’re satisfied with your landing page ad, save it and switch gears over to Ad Manager. From here, the process is pretty intuitive — especially if you’ve created an ad before. After picking your ad type, it’s pretty much just filling in numerous fields.

Example of uploading your landing page on Facebook

The fields “Primary Text,” “Headline,” and “Description” are going to be visible to audiences, so fill them in accordingly. For example, the primary text of my ad introduces my company, the offer, and what’s inside.

Headlines emphasize the offer’s subject, while the description gives more detail. Every field but primary text is optional, so you don’t have to make the ad as wordy as I have. Add enough text to convey what you’re advertising and the tone of your company.

As soon as you’ve got these fields settled, you’ve chosen your target audience, your ad is ready to run. Click “Publish!” to finish configuring details like budget and duration. And, if you need a full guide on setting up a Facebook ad, this post is an amazing help.

So now, you know how to make a landing page for Facebook ads. Now, it’s time to go over how, and why, to optimize those landing pages for audiences.

Facebook Landing Page Best Practices

Think about the intent of your audience. What kind of landing page will make them interested in your offer? These design and optimization tips are a handy bookmark to make sure the content lines up with customer preference.

1. Give the page its own URL.

If you’re using a landing page that already exists, and you want to track leads from Paid ads, give the page its own URL. Direct response ads, ads that are meant to incite immediate action, are generally used for lead generation.

When you give your Facebook ad landing page its own URL, you’ll be able to see the leads earned specifically from that ad. Additionally, if you want to make small tweaks for Facebook performance, you can do so without modifying the original page.

2. Keep the design free of distractions.

As marketers, we know that landing pages should be simple. For Facebook ad landing pages, this is especially true. Your ad goals most likely center around audiences taking action, and a clean landing page supports that.

If your landing pages outside of Facebook usually include clickable logos and text, remove them for this version. For instance, this landing page on HubSpot’s site has a clickable logo and text. The Facebook version, however, doesn’t. It distracts from the overall purpose of the ad.

Example of a HubSpot offer landing page.

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When you’re designing your landing page, use the page space to make CTAs visible. Copy should succinctly reflect what’s being advertised on Facebook. For instance, the Facebook landing page above leverages branding, large fonts and photos, and an actionable button.

3. Create according to your ad goals.

When you create a Facebook ad, you have to choose an ad type. These ad types reflect the ultimate goal of your campaign, like lead generation. Your landing page should be designed according to that campaign objective to maximize their effectiveness.

A landing page should be made with a purpose in mind. For example, a brand awareness ad can be broad — it’s just introducing audiences to a company. However, a page for conversions should specifically lead viewers to download the ebook or demo.

Example of a HubSpot form on a landing page.

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This landing page, for instance, has the form at the top of the page to help grow conversions. There’s little room for distraction — the only interaction available is filing out the form.

4. Add the Pixel feature for optimization.

Pixel is a Facebook feature that was designed to boost ad performance. Adding Pixel to your ads is like adding an extra targeting feature.

Let’s say a 35-year-old woman in an urban area clicked on the landing page and completed an offer for a brand awareness ad. Facebook then tells Pixel to suggest the ad to profiles with similar demographics in order to reach more qualified leads.

Essentially, Pixel targets audience members based on the demographic information of people who’ve previously interacted with the ad, and increases the amount of traffic your landing page earns.

5. Track the right metrics.

If you want to track landing page performance, make sure you’re looking at the right metrics. Facebook will offer you an analytics report based on your ad type, and there’s a few you can attribute to the landing page.

Ondracek recommends looking at the amount of money spent, forms filled, and conversions. Staying in budget for your ad campaign is a no-brainer. The amount of forms completed lets you know if your form was effective for converting leads, and conversions shows you how many.

When tracking performance outside of Facebook, add UTM parameters. This is basically a special tag on a URL that’ll track page performance. UTM codes can be imported into analytics software, like Google and Looker.

You don’t have to track landing pages using different services. However, if you made your page using marketing automation software that offers analytics, they’re worth keeping in mind. Additionally, UTM codes will give you analytics you can compare with Facebook and other software.

Having multiple sources of data, Ondracek recommends, gives you a more holistic view of landing page performance.

6. Test landing pages frequently.

Test your landing page before it goes live, if possible. If you used software that offers testing features, use them to test the effectiveness of your page. Even though it won’t be connected to Facebook, you can make small changes before uploading based on test results.

“We build landing pages using HubSpot, so we use the A/B testing feature before and while we use the page. We choose one thing to tweak at a time to keep results accurate. Over time, we’ll build the most effective Facebook landing pages possible,” says Ondracek.

You don’t have to use specific software to test your landing page. You can even use Facebook’s A/B testing feature for ads. If you decide to go that route, make your ad goal conversions so landing page design will be a factor.

When created for your audience, Facebook landing pages can be an awesome tool. They jumpstart buying journeys, earn leads, and expand reach. When you track their performance, you can learn more insights about how customers interact with your company on Facebook.

Use landing pages to further inform and delight your audience. I, for one, love a good landing page, and will be looking forward to seeing yours on my Facebook timeline next.

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The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO in 2020

So, you’ve read dozens — if not hundreds — of SEO articles online. You’ve digested countless tips and tricks for improving your website’s SEO. You’ve even (over)paid that self-proclaimed “expert” to help you develop an SEO strategy that aligns with your business goals.

But after all of the reading and learning and strategizing, it dawns on you: You haven’t actually done anything yet. Perhaps you’re intimidated. Maybe you’re crunched for time.

Regardless, when it comes to on-page SEO, there’s no excuse for dragging your feet. On-page SEO has the power to bring countless new visitors — and customers — right to your website.

On-page SEO is also completely up to you: You get to establish what the topic and/or goal of each page will be. You get to decide on the target audience for that page. And you get to choose the target keywords and phrases you want to focus on.

All you have to do is get started, and we built this guide to help you.

Google’s algorithm ranks your website on three main factors: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO:

Note: This SEO “trilogy” isn’t always divided into three clean sections; some of these SEO elements will overlap. You’ll see how and why throughout this piece.

Why is on-page SEO important?

On-page SEO is important because it tells Google all about your website and how you provide value to visitors and customers. It helps your site be optimized for both human eyes and search engine bots.

Merely creating and publishing your website isn’t enough — you must optimize it for Google and other search engines in order to rank and attract new traffic.

On-page SEO is called “on-page” because the tweaks and changes you make to optimize your website can be seen by visitors on your page (whereas off-page and technical SEO elements aren’t always visible).

Every part of on-page SEO is completely up to you; that’s why it’s critical that you do it correctly. Now, let’s discuss the elements of on-page SEO.

All on-page SEO elements fall into three main categories:

You’ll see these elements divided into sections below.

Content Elements

Content elements refer to the elements within your site copy and content. In this section, we’ll focus mostly on crafting high-quality page content that benefits your visitors and tells Google that your website provides value.

High-Quality Page Content

Page content is the heart of on-page SEO. It tells both search engines and readers what your website and business are all about.

The first step to creating high-quality content is choosing relevant keywords and topics. Conduct keyword research by searching Google for terms and seeing what surfaces for competitors and other websites. You can also use tools like Ahrefs, AnswerthePublic, and UberSuggest.

Also, read our Beginner’s Guide on How to Do Keyword Research for SEO.

Next, consider how your page content falls into the buyer’s journey and visitors’ search intent. These will impact how you will use your keywords and what types of content you will create:

Stage in the Buyer’s Journey Suggested Content/Website Pages
Awareness

Blog posts, videos
homepage

Consideration

Buyer’s guides, case studies
about page

Decision

Product demos, comparison tools
product or pricing pages, contact page

Now, it’s time to write your page content or clean it up if you’re currently auditing your on-page SEO.

Here are a few best practices for writing high-quality page content (we’ll touch on some of these in more detail below, in our Checklist):

  • Incorporate short and long-tail keywords naturally.
  • Add engaging and relevant visual content.
  • Write for your specific buyer persona(s).
  • Actively solve your audience’s problem.
  • Develop content people will share and want to link to.
  • Optimize for conversions with CTAs to offers and product pages.

Page content is your opportunity to communicate value to Google and your site visitors; it’s the heart of the on-page SEO process. All other on-page SEO elements stem from high-quality page content, so invest ample resources to develop and optimize it.

HTML Elements

HTML elements refer to the elements in your source code.

Note: To see the source code for any page in your browser, click View > Developer > View Source in the top menu.

Page Titles

Your website page titles (also known as title tags) are one of the most important SEO elements.

on page seo page title tag

Titles tell both visitors and search engines what they can find on the corresponding pages.

To ensure your site pages rank for the proper intent, be sure to include the focus keyword for each page in the title. Incorporate your keyword as naturally as possible.

Here are some best practices for when developing a page title:

  • Keep it under 70 characters (per Google’s update) … any longer and your title will be cut off in search results. Mobile search results show up to 78 characters.
  • Don’t stuff the title with keywords. Not only does keyword-stuffing present a spammy and tacky reading experience, but modern search engines are smarter than ever — they’ve been designed to specifically monitor for (and penalize!) content that’s unnaturally stuffed with keywords.
  • Make it relevant to the page.
  • Don’t use all caps.
  • Include your brand in the title, i.e. “The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO in 2019 — HubSpot Blog“.

Check out our free data-driven guide to writing effective page titles.

Headers

Headers, also known as body tags, refer to the HTML element

,

,

, and so on.

on page seo headers

These tags help organize your content for readers and help search engines distinguish what part of your content is most important and relevant, depending on search intent.

Incorporate important keywords in your
headers, but choose different ones than what’s in your page title. Put your most important keywords in your

and

headers.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are the short page descriptions that appear under the title in search results. Although it’s not an official ranking factor for search engines, it can influence whether or not your page is clicked on — therefore, it’s just as important when doing on-page SEO.

on page seo meta descriptions

Meta descriptions can also be copied over to social media when your content is shared (by using structured markup, which we talk about below), so it can encourage click-throughs from there, too.

Here’s what makes for a good meta description:

  • Keep it under 160 characters, although Google has been known to allow longer meta descriptions — up to 220 characters. (Note: Mobile devices cut off meta descriptions at 120 characters.)
  • Include your entire keyword or keyword phrase.
  • Use a complete, compelling sentence (or two).
  • Avoid alphanumeric characters like —, &, or +.

Image Alt-text

Image alt-text is like SEO for your images. It tells Google and other search engines what your images are about … which is important because Google now delivers almost as many image-based results as they do text-based results.

That means consumers may be discovering your site through your images. In order for them to do this, though, you have to add alt-text to your images.

Here’s what to keep in mind when adding image alt-text:

  • Make it descriptive and specific.
  • Make it contextually relevant to the broader page content.
  • Keep it shorter than 125 characters.
  • Use keywords sparingly, and don’t keyword stuff.

Structured Markup

Structured markup, or structured data, is the process of “marking up” your website source code to make it easier for Google to find and understand different elements of your content.

Structured markup is the key behind those featured snippets, knowledge panels, and other content features you see when you search for something on Google. It’s also how your specific page information shows up so neatly when someone shares your content on social media.

Note: Structured data is considered technical SEO, but I’m including it here because optimizing it creates a better on-page experience for visitors.

on page seo structured markup

Site Architecture Elements

Site architecture elements refer to the elements that make up your website and site pages. How you structure your website can help Google and other search engines easily crawl the pages and page content.

Page URLs

Your page URLs should be simple to digest for both readers and search engines. They are also important when keeping your site hierarchy consistent as you create subpages, blog posts, and other types of internal pages.

on page seo page url

For example, in the above URL, “blog” is the sub-domain, “hubspot.com” is the domain, “sales” is the directory for the HubSpot Sales Blog, and “startups” indicates the specific path to that blog post.

Here are a few tips on how to write SEO-friendly URLs:

  • Remove the extra, unnecessary words.
  • Use only one or two keywords.
  • Use HTTPS if possible, as Google now uses that as a positive ranking factor.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is the process of hyperlinking to other helpful pages on your website. (See how the words “internal linking” are linked to another HubSpot blog post in the sentence above? That’s an example.)

Internal linking is important for on-page SEO because internal links send readers to other pages on your website, keeping them around longer and thus telling Google your site is valuable and helpful.

Also, the longer visitors are on your website, the more time Google has to crawl and index your site pages. This ultimately helps Google absorb more information about your website and potentially rank it higher on the search engine results pages.

Download our free guide to Internal Linking for SEO.

Mobile Responsiveness

Google started favoring sites that are optimized for faster mobile speeds — even for desktop searches.

Mobile responsiveness matters.

It’s critical to choose a website hosting service, site design and theme, and content layout that’s readable and navigable on mobile devices. If you’re not sure about your own site’s mobile readiness, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

on page seo mobile responsiveness

Site Speed

Whether being viewed on a mobile device or desktop, your site must be able to load quickly. When it comes to on-page SEO, page speed counts big-time.

Google cares about user experience first and foremost. If your site loads slowly or haphazardly, it’s likely your visitors aren’t going to stick around — and Google knows that. Moreover, site speed can impact conversions and ROI.

Check your website’s speed anytime using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If your website is movin’ slow, check out 5 Easy Ways to Help Reduce Your Website’s Page Loading Speed.

Note: Mobile responsiveness and site speed are considered technical SEO, but I’m including them here because optimizing them creates a better on-page experience for visitors.

on page seo site speed

Now that you understand the different on-page SEO elements, let’s talk through the steps of auditing and improving your on-page SEO.

If you’ve been in search of a solution for organizing and tracking the various on-page SEO elements, you’re in luck. The HubSpot marketing team released an updated version of our On-Page SEO Template, an Excel document that allows you to coordinate pages and keywords — and track changes — all in one place.

In this section, we’ll be using this template as a guide as we walk you through a checklist for your on-page SEO management, step by step. Download the template now and follow along.

Note: The fictional website “http://www.quantify.ly” will be used as an example throughout this post. It’s simply meant to help you imagine how your own website will fit into the template.

1. Crawl your website.

Get an overview of all of your website pages that search engines have indexed. For HubSpot customers, our Page Performance tool (under Reports) will allow you to do this. If you’re not using HubSpot, you can try using a free tool like Xenu’s link crawler.

After crawling your site and exporting the results into an Excel (or .csv) file, there will be three key columns of data that you should focus on:

  1. The web address (a.k.a. URL)
  2. The page title
  3. The page meta description

Copy and paste these three columns into your template.

The URL should be pasted into column B, the page title into column C, and the description into column E.

on-page seo checklist crawl your website

2. Conduct an SEO audit and define your site architecture.

Now that you have a basic index of your site in the template, you’ll want to organize and prioritize your web pages. Start by defining where within your site architecture your existing pages currently sit.

Do this in column A. Note whether a page is your homepage (ideally you’ll only have one of those), a page in your primary (or secondary) navigation menu, an internal page, and so on.

on-page seo checklist conduct an seo audit

3. Update URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions.

Review your current URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions to see if they need updating.

(This is the beauty of using a template to organize your SEO: You get a broad overview of the type of content you have on your website.)

on page seo checklist meta descriptions

Notice how column D and column F automatically calculate the length of each element. The recommended length for page titles is anything under 60 characters. (And, actually, a quick and easy optimization project is to update all page titles that are longer than 60 characters.)

The recommended length for page meta descriptions is 155-160 characters. This is the perfect length to ensure none of the description is cut off by the ellipses. Make sure you’re not too repetitive with keywords in this space. Writing a good meta description isn’t tough, but it deserves just as much consideration as the page content itself.

(Note: For some sites, you may also have to update the URLs, but that’s not always the case and thus was not included as part of this optimization template.)

4. Make sure your keyword is in your URL.

As we mentioned above, add your keyword to your URL. For example, image you own a hot yoga studio called ADYoga. You have a web page that includes videos of your classes. The keyword for this page is “hot yoga online classes” — so, you’d want to include that keyword in your URL. The URL for this web page may look like this: www.ADyoga.com/hot-yoga-online-classes.

5. Include your keyword throughout your web page.

In addition to your URL, you’ll want to add your keyword throughout your web page(s). This includes your title and headers. Sprinkle your keyword throughout your content as well where it fits naturally.

6. Track keywords and topics for each page.

Think of your target keyword as the designated topic for a particular page. If you’re using the HubSpot template, In column O, define just one topic per page.

on-page seo checklist track keywords and topics for your web pages

By doing this, you’ll be able to go more in-depth and provide more detailed information about that topic. This also means that you are only optimizing for one keyword per page, meaning you have a greater chance to rank for that keyword.

There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. Your homepage is a classic example. The goal of your homepage is to explain what your entire website is about, and thus you’ll need a few keywords to do that. Another exception is overview pages like services and product pages, which outline what all of your products and services may be.

7. Don’t keyword stuff.

We just covered many examples in which keywords are both helpful and necessary for SEO purposes. However, one mistake many first-timers make when improving their on-page SEO is “keyword stuff”.

Keyword stuffing can be detrimental to your website and web page’s SEO and it can feel spammy to readers/ visitors.

8. Establish value propositions for each page.

A very important next step, which is often overlooked, is establishing a value proposition for each page of your website. Each page should have a goal aside from just ranking for a particular term.

If you’re using the template, you’ll do this in column G.

on-page seo checklist establish value propositions

9. Define your target audience.

Define your target audience — do you have a single buyer persona or multiple personas? Keep this persona in mind as you optimize your site’s pages. (Remember, you are optimizing for humans, too — not just search engine robots.)

In column H of our template, you’ll have the opportunity to define your page’s target audience.

on-page seo checklist define your target audience

10. Plan new page titles.

Now that you’ve documented your existing page titles and have established value propositions and target audiences for each of your pages, write new page titles (if necessary) to reflect your findings.

You can do this in column K of the template — and double check each title length in column L.

on-page seo checklist plan new page titles

People usually follow the formula of “Keyword Phrase | Context.” The goal of the page title is to lay out the purpose of the page without being redundant. You should also keep the additional recommendations we made above related to titles.

11. Add new meta descriptions.

As we covered above, meta descriptions should be a short, declarative sentence that incorporates the same keyword as your page’s title.

It should not reflect the content verbatim as it appears on the page. Get as close as you can to the 150-character limit to maximize space and tell visitors as much as possible about your page.

If you need to create new meta descriptions, do so in column M of the template.

on-page seo checklist add meta descriptions

12. Review and edit page content as needed.

Good copy needs to be thorough, clear, and provide solutions … so, be compelling! Write for your target audience and about how you can help them. Compelling content is also error-free, so double check your spelling and grammar.

Aim to have at least 500 words per page, and format content to make it easier to read and digest with the use of headers and subheaders.

Columns P through R can be used to keep track of changes that you’ve made to your content or to note where changes need to be implemented.

on-page seo checklist review and edit content on your web page

13. Incorporate visual content.

Content can be more than just text, so consider what kind of visual content you can incorporate into each page (if it adds value and serves a purpose, of course). Columns S and T allow you to note which visual elements need to be added. When adding an image to a page, be sure to include a descriptive file name and image alt-text.

on-page seo checklist incorporate visual content

14. Optimize your visual content.

We talked earlier about image alt text. You’ll want to optimize your visual content this way — and be sure to include your keyword in your image alt text. It’ll help with the page’s SEO as well as offer the potential to rank in image search (e.g. on a search engine image results page or image carousel).

15. Add internal links.

As stated earlier, incorporating links throughout your pages is a must, but it’s often something that’s easily overlooked.

Make sure that your anchor text includes more than just your keywords. The goal isn’t to stuff in as many keywords as possible, but to make it easy for people to navigate your site.

Use columns U through W to plan for these elements if you don’t already have them, or to document how you’ll improve them.

on-page seo checklist add internal links

16. Include external links.

It may seem counterintuitive to include external links throughout your page considering we just covered multiple reasons why internal linking is so important for on-page SEO. However, external links are also important.

By externally linking, to credible and trustworthy sites, Google will know your page is also credible and trustworthy. Not only does Google want to know your site is well-referenced, but your visitors do, too.

17. Optimize for conversions.

If you’re also not optimizing your site to increase the number of leads, subscribers, and/or customers you’re attracting … you’re doing it wrong.

Remember that each page of your website presents a conversion opportunity. That means every page of your website should include at least one call-to-action (CTA), though many pages may have multiple CTAs.

Columns X through AF allow you to plan for conversions.

Be sure that your site has a mix of CTAs for different stages of the flywheel.

(Note: The On-Page SEO Template refers to the stages of the buying funnel — top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel. If you are a HubSpot customer, you can even use Smart Content to display these specific CTAs only to people in a specific part of the funnel.)

Also, as you add, edit, or update CTAs, be sure to note conversion rate changes in columns Z, AC, and AF.

on-page seo checklist optimize your page for conversions

Put Your On-Page SEO to Work

Once you finalize your SEO plans, implement these changes on your website or pass them along to someone to implement for you. This will take time to complete, so aim to work on 5 to 10 pages per week.

Remember: SEO is not a one-and-done deal. It’s something you should continually improve upon. You should treat this On-Page SEO Template as a living, breathing document that will help guide your SEO strategy for months (or years) to come.

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

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11 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Need to Avoid in 2020

For many businesses, the key to making sales is to first generate leads.

Leads are valuable because they’re the people who have indicated organic interest in your content and your business by giving you their information in some way, whether it’s by filling out a form to download an ebook, completing an online survey, or something else.

But leads don’t grow on trees. Some marketers have trouble generating enough leads to feed their sales team. Others generate plenty of leads, but they’re not good leads, and your sales team is having trouble closing them into customers. Others just have no idea where their leads are coming from.

These are all common problems marketers have with lead generation. In this post, we’ll go over many of these problems and talk about how to fix them. We’ll also highlight a few tips directly from HubSpot acquisition experts.

11 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Should Avoid

1. You’re buying leads, not generating them organically.

If you’re having trouble generating leads, it can be tempting to buy email lists so you can feed your sales organization with something — anything. But buying or renting contacts out of desperation will cause you more long-term (and short-term) harm than good.

There are a lot of reasons buying email lists is never a good idea. Not only will sending emails to purchased lists harm your email deliverability and IP reputation, but there’s a good chance the people on your purchased list have never heard of your company — making them far more likely to mark you as spam. They’ll also think you’re super annoying. And you’re not annoying, are you?

Bottom line here is that quality email addresses simply aren’t for sale. The whole point of generating leads is to eventually nurture those leads into customers. In order for your leads to become customers, the leads you generate need to actually want to hear from you.

How to Fix It

Your leads need to opt in, plain and simple. This means your contacts chose to give you their information in exchange for something valuable, like a content offer, webinar, event, and so on. Focus on creating offers that are valuable in some way for your target audience, and then package that value and put it behind a lead capture form.

Growing a healthy, opt-in email list takes time, but it’s worth its weight in gold down the line. And once you have people to email, be sure you’re creating remarkable email content that makes people want to actually open your emails and stay subscribed.

2. You don’t offer lead-gen content for people in different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Not everyone who visits your website is going to be in the same stage of their buyer’s journey. Think about the folks who are landing on your website for the very first time. Do you think they’re ready to see a demo of your product? Or do you think they’d be more likely to want to download a helpful piece of content, like a step-by-step guide?

Some of your site visitors might be ready to buy, but most won’t — and you need to give them the opportunities to learn more about your business and what you’re selling before asking them take any sort of purchase action.

Creating valuable content to teach and nurture your leads down the funnel is time-consuming, which is why so often you’ll browse a business’ website and see nothing but “Buy Now!” and “Click Here for a Free Demo!” all over the place.

How to Fix It

There is no one-size-fits-all CTA for everyone who visits your website. To maximize clickthrough rates, you’ll want to cater to visitors who are at all different stages of the buyer’s journey using CTAs.

So, yes — you’ll need to spend time creating a variety of offers you can put behind landing page forms that cater to people at different stages. Folks who are just starting to get to know you might be interested in offers like checklists, contests, and templates. Visitors who are a little further down the funnel might be interested in email courses, kits, and whitepapers. Folks even further down might be ready for a demo.

Make sure you’re creating content that cover the whole funnel, and that you’re offering this content on your website so there’s something for everyone. (Need ideas for lead gen content? Here are 23 ideas for you.)

If you want to take personalization a step further, use smart CTAs. Smart CTAs are CTAs that change depending on the person viewing the page — his or her interests, location, pages viewed already, items or services bought before, and so on. Unsurprisingly, personalized CTAS actually convert 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action. They make for a better user experience for your user, and higher conversion rates for you: a win-win! You can learn more about smart CTAs here.

3. You aren’t using your blog to generate leads.

HubSpot’s blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads.

In fact, at one point, we found that 76% of our monthly blog views come from “old” posts (in other words, posts published prior to that month). We always joke that if the entire blogging team went on vacation for a month, we’d still hit a good portion of our leads goal.

“At HubSpot, we have an entire team dedicated to continuously optimizing our blog conversion strategy,” says Carly Stec, HubSpot’s Team Manager of content acquisition. “This group works in lockstep with our SEO team and writers to provide insight into the topics that are converting well to ensure a well-rounded editorial mix.”

“This level of alignment allows us to provide blog readers with helpful next steps based on their intent,” Stec adds.

Despite blogging’s many lead generation benefits, we find that marketers aren’t fully taking advantage of this tactic as a lead generation powerhouse. Either folks aren’t blogging at all, or they’re not putting lead capture forms or CTAs on their blog — sometimes because they don’t have any valuable content offers to put behind a form.

But, still one of the biggest benefits of business blogging is converting the traffic it brings you into leads. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. Here’s what that looks like in numbers: If each one of your blog posts gets about 100 views per month, and your visitor-to-lead conversion rate on the blog is about 2%, then you’d get two leads from a single blog post each month. If you write 30 blog posts per month, you’d get 60 leads in a month — two from each blog post.

Keep blogging consistently like that for a year, and thanks to each blog post’s compounding value over time, each post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads. By the end of 12 months, you’ll end up getting 4,680 opt-in contacts per month, not just 720 opt-in contacts (60 leads*12 months).

blogging_compounding_returns-5.jpg

How to Fix It

Generating leads from your blog posts is simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post. Most of the time, these CTAs will lead to landing pages offering free content like ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, webinars, free trials, and so on. Promote your content offers by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

What that CTA looks like on your blog posts is up to you. On HubSpot’s blog, we use three main types of CTAs on our blog: end-of-post banner CTAs on every single post, and slide-in CTAs and anchor text CTAs on select posts. Read this post to learn when it’s appropriate to use end-of-post banner CTAs, anchor text CTAs, or both.

end-of-post-cta-banner-1-1.png

anchor-text-cta (1).png

As for slide-in CTAs, we’ve found these to perform better than end-of-post CTAs — which makes sense because visitors see them sooner since they slide in at about 25%-50% of the way down the post. Learn how to add slide-in CTAs to your blog posts here.

slide-in-cta-example-1.png

4. You aren’t using the best lead generation tools.

You know that people are coming to your website, but do you know who they are? How about what they’re doing once they get there, or what they’re doing before and after taking certain actions? If you’re unable to answer these questions, then you’re going to have a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site or learning what’s resonating with them and what’s not.

But these are questions you can and should answer — but you need the right tools to do it. There are some great tools out there that can help you learn about your website visitors and convert them into leads.

How to Fix It

The trick is finding the best combination of tools that’ll give you the most insight and the best bang for your buck. There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets you can put on your site.

At the simplest level, these 50+ free, customizable CTA Templates will help you create clickable buttons you can put on your blog, your landing pages, and elsewhere on your site. Use them to create CTAs that lead to a landing page form.

Speaking of forms, a form embedding tool will come in handy when it comes to actually collecting information from your site visitors and converting them into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create and embed forms using HubSpot. Non-HubSpot customers can use a tool like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms, and then use Leadin’s free Collected Forms tool to automatically capture these form submissions on your website.

Finally, a lead capture and contact insights tool like Lead Flows by HubSpot (which is free) will help you capture leads using pop-ups, dropdown banners, or slide-ins. It’ll also scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database.

Here’s an example of a slide-in CTA created with Lead Flows, HubSpot’s free conversion tool:

slide-in-lead-flow.gif

5. You have a “right vs. wrong” testing mindset.

Knowing that you should test your website and constantly work on improving it is one thing. What most marketers have trouble with is seeing testing and experimenting not as a way to prove your ideas, but as a way to find something better.

I like the way Andrew Anderson put it in his post on ConversionXL: “The real challenge is in getting yourself and your organization ready to accept one really simple truth: Being wrong is far more valuable than being right.”

Often, this will manifest itself in someone having an idea for how to improve a part of their website. Perhaps they think removing distractions from a landing page will increase conversion rates on that page, for instance. What happens here is that most marketers will limit what they test in a way that skews the data to help them reach that conclusion, often without meaning it. After all, it feels bad — and might look bad — to have an idea or make an assumption and have it proven totally wrong.

How to Fix It

“The first and most vital step to dealing with this is to focus all discussions on the comparing of actions and not on validating opinions,” writes Anderson. “It isn’t about if Tactic A or B works, it is how well does Tactic A or B or C or D and so on compare to each other.”

In other words, treat every idea that’s brought to the table the same, whether or not you think it’ll “win.” This makes the testing program less personal and encourages a more holistic approach. Remember: by nature, a program that tests your website is meant to prove yourself and others wrong, and that’s a good thing.

You and your teammates need to check your egos and adopt this mindset to avoid finger-pointing. Instead of rewarding people for being right, which reinforces that toxic mindset, focus on the system and the outcomes more holistically.

6. You aren’t optimizing your top pages for lead generation.

Not all webpages should be treated the same. In fact, if you look at traffic numbers to specific pages on your website, you’ll probably find that the vast majority of your traffic is coming in to a few, very specific pages — maybe your homepage; your “Contact Us” page; maybe one or two popular blog posts. With so many people landing on those pages, why would you treat them like any other ol’ page on your website?

Because so many people are landing on those pages, it’s very important that you create opportunities for people to convert on those pages, lest you leave potentially massive lead numbers on the table.

How to Fix It

First, figure out which of your webpages are the four or five most popular for traffic. (HubSpot customers: You can do this in HubSpot by going to Reports > Page Performance, then filter the report by Views.)

Then, optimize those pages for leads. This means making sure you create calls-to-action (CTAs) that stand out from the page, and then place them where people naturally look on your website. Our natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there, according to an eyetracking study.

Another way to increase the conversion rate on a page that already gets a lot of traffic? Create special offers specifically for your most popular pages, and gate them behind landing page forms. I know, I know, creating a brand new offer can time-consuming — but it could be much more effective for lead generation than optimizing button color, language, images, and so on. For example, the folks at Eastern International College created a quiz for students on which college major they should choose, which they linked to on their popular Careers page.

eastern-international-college-quiz.png

At the end of the quiz, they promised to send the quiz results in exchange for people’s name, phone number, and email address as a lead capture tactic.

Read this blog post for more tips on how to generate leads from your most popular webpages.

7. You’re ONLY optimizing your top pages for lead-generation.

Yes. When you have a page that earns high traffic, it might also win over a lot more leads. However, AJ Beltis, a HubSpot marketing manager who specializes in content creation and lead acquisition, says you might be missing solid opportunities by only optimizing high-traffic-getters.

“It’s tempting for content marketers to immediately go to the most-viewed blog posts and try to convert their viewers into leads. High traffic means high potential, so it makes sense to look at these posts first,” Beltis says. 

“However, those most-viewed posts are often on topics that cast a wide net and might not tie directly back to your product or service,” Beltis explains. “Instead, try focusing on blog posts or topic clusters that may not have the most views, but have a clear path for conversion.

“After all, what’s better – a 5% conversion rate for a blog post with 50,000 views, or a 1% conversion rate on a blog post with 100,000 views,” Beltis concludes.

How to Fix It

Finding posts with conversion opportunities that don’t pull in major traffic can take a bit of research.

Using HubSpot, or other data-tracking tools, consider creating and analyzing a conversion rate optimization report that highlights each post’s conversion rate, number of new contacts, and lead goal. This will allow you to see how each post is performing and help you zone on posts that are pulling in a solid number of contacts. It will also allow you to see how traffic impacts a conversion rate.

For example, if you see a low conversion rate on a post but a high number of contacts, this could mean the post has many leads due in part to its traffic. On the other hand, if you see a post with a lower contact number but a higher conversion rate, this could be a lower traffic post with a higher chance of pulling in leads. 

Aside from using the reporting tools you have at hand to learn from your own data, you could also ask yourself a few topic-related questions like:

  • What are our audience’s interested in learning more about?: Sometimes, trends that impact people in your industry might be highly discussed on social media, but haven’t yet gained enough search volume to pull in high traffic. Are there trend-related blog posts and content offers you can create or update that can tie well together, provide value to your audience, and get them to convert?
  • Do we have any tactical posts that relate strongly to our product or current offers?: For example, if you sell a task-management software, a post on how to multitask, how to organize your office, or how to create a project schedule might not be shareable on social media or pull in huge traffic, but it still could align well with an offer related to your product — such as a free trial.

8. You’re not using social media strategically for lead generation.

Although social media is most effective for top-of-the-funnel marketing metrics like traffic and brand awareness, it can still be helpful as a source for lead generation — and a low-cost one, at that.

If you’re finding that social media isn’t generating very many leads for you, there’s a chance you’re not doing it strategically enough. At least that’s what Jeremy White, a serial entrepreneur and conversion consultant, wrote in a post on CrazyEgg’s blog.

“It’s not that you can’t get leads on social media; it’s that we’re not taking what’s there,” he wrote. In other words, you might be doing it wrong. If your social strategy is to post your new ebooks to all your social media channels and that’s about it, then don’t expect to bring in a whole lot of leads from those posts. The spray-and-pray technique isn’t enough.

How to Fix It

One way to generate more leads from social media is to sprinkle blog posts and offers that have historically generated higher-than-average leads numbers for you in with the new posts and offers your team is creating.

At HubSpot, we’ve found that one of the best ways to generate leads is simply to link directly to landing pages for blog posts and offers that have historically performed well for lead generation. (Learn how to do your own blog lead generation analysis here.)

We’ve also found that linking directly to an offer’s landing page can be more effective — as long as your post copy sets the expectation that you are, in fact, sending people to a landing page. In the Facebook post below, we set that expectation by putting “Free Template” in brackets in front of the offer title.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re using some of the features on each social network that are specifically designed to help you generate leads.

On Twitter, your lead gen tweets should contain a value proposition, a short URL linking to the landing page with a form, and an image to ensure the post stands out. (Here are some social media image templates you can use to create those images.)

Twitter also offers lead generation cards that can help you generate qualified leads at a lower cost than most of the other major ad platforms. Twitter cards let you embed rich media that don’t count toward your tweet character limit that allow your fans and followers to do things like download an app, visit a landing page, give over their email, or use a coupon — all without leaving Twitter. (HubSpot customers: You can connect your Twitter lead gen cards to HubSpot by following these instructions.)

On Facebook: There are a number of great ways to generate leads from Facebook, the best of which I’ve rounded up in this blog post. For example, one way to easily generate leads is by simply using the call-to-action feature available for Pages. The feature lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, and it can help drive more traffic from your Facebook Page to lead generation forms like landing pages and contact sheets.

Here’s an example from Tough Mudder’s Page, and you can learn how to insert your own Facebook CTA button here.

tough-mudder-facebook-for-lead-gen.png

On LinkedIn, B2B businesses can take advantage of the perception that LinkedIn is the most sophisticated of social platforms, and a place where B2B relationships are most likely to be built. Like on Facebook, you can publish your lead-generating content directly to your business’ Facebook Page alongside actionable copy and a compelling image.

9. Your forms are too long or too short.

How long should your lead capture forms be? Striking a balance between asking too much and too little on your forms is a common problem marketers gripe with.

If your form’s too short, more people might be willing to fill it out, which is great for leads numbers — but the quality of those leads might not be very high. If your form’s too long, though, fewer people might be willing to fill it out, meaning you’ll get fewer leads out of it. On the bright side, the people who do submit their information could end up being higher quality leads.

So what gives? What’s the “magic number” of questions to ask on your forms?

How to Fix It

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how many fields to put on your forms. Your “sweet spot” will depend entirely on your goals: Do you need more leads, or do you need better leads? Essentially, the length of your form will lead to a tradeoff between quantity and quality of the leads you generate. In general, shorter forms usually result in more overall leads, while longer forms will result in fewer, but higher quality leads.

“Think of every field in your checkout as a hurdle your prospect has to leap over,” writes Copyhackers’ Joanna Wiebe. “Then ask yourself if it’s worth the possibility of losing a sale — or thousands of sales — because you want to fill a database.”

You can’t possibly know how many form fields you can pull off without conducting conversion research and running your own tests. Even then, you have to compare the ROI of additional information with the ROI of increased conversions. How much does having a phone number really help the sales team? Is it enough to warrant a potential decrease in conversions?

It’s important that you don’t make this decision without involving your sales team. They have a better idea of what information will actually help them close deals. How much does asking for a phone number actually help your sales team — and is it enough to potentially lose leads over? Speaking of talking with your sales team …

10. Your definition of a qualified lead isn’t well communicated with your sales department.

You know the definition of a lead in the general sense of the term: It’s a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service by giving you their information in some way, like by filling out a form to download an ebook or completing an online survey.

A marketing qualified lead, or MQL, is a lead that’s been deemed more likely to become a customer compared to other leads, based on lead intelligence. MQLs have metaphorically raised their hands and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become full-fledged opportunities. In other words, from a marketing perspective, your sales team should be talking with them.

But sales teams tend to have their own system for qualifying leads. Sales qualified leads are leads your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up. Agreeing on that quality threshold is where things tend to get muddy. Both the quantity and quality of leads needed and the sales process are mutually agreed upon by both Marketing and Sales.

How to Fix It

That’s exactly where the conversation begins. To align Marketing and Sales on what constitutes a qualified lead from both sides, you’ll have to learn to speak each other’s language. Similar to your marketing qualified leads, Sales has its own definition of “qualified”: sales qualified leads are leads they’ve accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up.

Both teams need to align on their definitions of a marketing qualified and sales qualified lead. And there’s no one-size-fits-all definition for one, either — an MQL at one company may be completely different than an MQL at another company. You should do your own internal analysis of your leads and customers to create your business’ definition of an MQL. Read this post to learn how to get started defining an MQL for your business and communicating that definition with Sales.

Avoid Losing Great Leads

There are plenty more lead generation mistakes we could add to this list, but these are some of the most important ones we see marketers make every day. For our readers out there who want to get more and better quality leads, we hope this post will help you prioritize where to focus your time and resources.

Now that you’ve had time to read up and reflect on some of the most common lead-generation mistakes, we’d love to hear from you. Vote in this completely anonymous poll to tell us which mistake you or your company have commonly made, or check the results to see how others voted.

 

If you want to learn more about creating an effective conversion rate optimization strategy, check out these beginner’s guides on conversion rate optimization and lead generation.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2016, but was updated in July 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness.

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The Ultimate Guide to Managing Remote Marketing Teams

Behind many great teams are great managers.

Take my manager for example. Each day, she oversees a team of blog writers and editors, reports on the HubSpot Blog’s progress to stakeholders, and also manages many of the logistics and processes that keep our site running smoothly.

But, the blog’s editorial processes and traffic strategies aren’t the only things she focuses on. Most importantly, she takes time to empower each individual on our team. She mentors us as we lead projects that benefit the blog, plans team bonding activities, ensures that we’re getting the tools and training we need to do our jobs, and checks in with us regularly to make sure the work we’re doing is fulfilling.

It sounds like she does a lot, right? And the kicker? Half of the team she manages, mentors, and empowers isn’t even based in HubSpot’s Cambridge office.

By this point, you might know that managing a team, even isolated to one office, isn’t for everyone. On any given day, you need to balance your own workload, overall team success strategies, and working with individuals within your department. To do this, you must balance being a team player and a leader. You also must be highly organized, strategic, and have a high level of emotional intelligence.

In a company that’s primarily in-office, a manager can directly impact the success of their team. But, this role is even more important when it oversees a fully or partially remote team.

Why? When your team is widely dispersed, a manager is tasked with bringing together their employees and giving them the tools to work well together. In times of confusion, questions, or ambiguity related to remote work styles, the manager is expected to make calls or answer critical questions.

As the manager of a remote team, you need all the skills of an in-office manager — and more. Not only do you need to be tactical and organized, but you also need to take extra time to make sure that colleagues feel in the loop, included, and like they can succeed at your company. This takes added time, much more communication, and a strong sense of inclusion and empathy.

Whether you’re a new or experienced manager, moving from leading an in-office to a dispersed team can be a major transition. To help you, I’ve compiled a guide of 10 tips for remote team management. These tips relate to logistically planning your remote team’s processes, building an inclusive culture, and using emotional intelligence as a team leader.

How to Effectively Manage Remote Teams

Creating Processes Around Remote Work

1. Create an effective remote hiring and onboarding process.

Before you can manage a remote team, you’ll need to hire and onboard your talent.

To get started, use digital platforms such as Indeed or LinkedIn to announce and promote your new job position. Be sure to note that the position can be held remotely in any location. This descriptive language will make it easier for prospective candidates to find your listings via search engines, as well as your own promotions.

Our managers have seen that one of the best ways to interview and evaluate a remote candidate is through a virtual hiring process. While this process could include video interviews with hiring managers and the candidate, it could also include other steps such as a writing test to evaluate a candidate’s writing or other virtual tasks that allow a candidate to show off their level of skill in a given area.

If you can accept candidates in different locations and timezones, you should also take steps to accommodate them in the hiring process. This could include hosting an interview during their work hours.

When you interview remote talent, you’ll also want to put any judgments related to a candidate’s location aside and interview them in their natural work environment.

Additionally, “If you’re hiring for a position that is open to being remote or in office, conduct all interviews via video call to avoid any location biases in your hiring panel,” says HubSpot Marketing, Sales, and Service Managing Editor Meg Prater.

After you complete the hiring process, you’ll want to welcome your new hire with a smooth virtual onboarding process that teaches how the company works while allowing them to get to know their teammates remotely.

As you prepare an onboarding process for a remote employee, identify ways that you can digitize your current onboarding process. For example, if there are documents or resources an employee should read up on, make sure they are in a PDF, Google Doc, or online format. You might also want to create an internal training website, or knowledge base, where employees can find these documents even after they’ve completed a new-hire orientation.

If there’s an aspect of your onboarding that is too complex for a PDF format, consider doing a virtual training session where you walk your employee through various tasks. This will allow them to see a demonstration of a process they’ll do first-hand and ask you questions about it as they learn.

On the HubSpot Blog team, each employee’s onboarding process lasts roughly 100 days and can be fully virtual. During this process, remote employees receive virtual training sessions, links to blog posts, and digital resources that relate to their role, self-paced mini-online courses that familiarize them with our software, and informal virtual coffee chats which allow the new employee to get to know colleagues.

On top of virtual onboarding, every employee has regular check-ins, career chats, and ongoing training with his or her supervisor to ensure that they’re progressing in their role.

Ultimately, the goal any manager should have when onboarding remote employees is to make them feel supported, informed about how their company works, and more confident in their new role.

To start an employee off on the right foot, think about your current onboarding processes and where they can be improved to add more communication and decrease confusion. Then, determine how you can make these processes virtual.

As you identify elements of the onboarding process that can be made virtual, create an outline for your process. Then, to help you refine or improve on this process, ask new remote employees who undergo it for feedback at the end of their first few months. This will give you an idea of what’s working and what needs to be improved.

To learn more about the logistics behind onboarding, the paperwork you’ll need to have your employee filled out, and the things you can do to make their experience feel welcoming, check out this detailed onboarding checklist. If you’re looking to onboard an employee in a customer-facing role, you can also check out this remote onboarding guide.

2. Schedule and run effective virtual team meetings.

When you or your team members are remote, team meetings will be a crucial means of communication. Not only do they allow you to all join on one video call to talk about projects or goals, but they also enable teammates to get to know each other and stay visible.

Determining Which Meetings You Need

When you have a remote or global team, you’ll want to have at least one fairly regular meeting to regroup and get on the same page. For example, you might want a monthly meeting with your team and other stakeholders to discuss team performance and goals, and a weekly standup meeting to learn what your immediate team is doing.

“Conduct a weekly standup meeting for everyone on your team to be together in the same virtual room,” advises Prater. “It’s important to have that face-to-face time each week.”

“Our team starts by giving a one-word overview of how they’re feeling, followed by an ice breaker, a roundup of what everyone’s working on, and then a discussion article provided by a different member of the team each week.” Prater shares.

Preparing for a Virtual Meeting

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to designate a meeting software, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting based on your needs, budget, and how large your virtual meeting will be. Then, you’ll want to make sure that all of your team members have the program on their computers.

When you’re ready to schedule the meeting, be sure to pick a time that works for team members in different timezones. Stick to this meeting time and avoid canceling to ensure that remote employees who didn’t get a cancellation notice don’t tune in.

Send an email and calendar invitation to your team explaining why you’ve decided to hold the meeting and what they should do to prepare for it. You’ll also want to include meeting login information or a number they can call into if they aren’t near a computer.

If you’d like employees other than yourself to present at the meeting, it can also be helpful to create a slide deck ahead of time so each teammate asked to speak can submit and get their slides approved by you beforehand.

Allowing teammates to submit slides beforehand will help you ensure that each teammate will give the most valuable information to other remote employees in the time they have to present. Using one slide deck will also limit any issues related to switching screen-shares during the meeting.

Running the Meeting

Just before you launch the meeting, make sure that your computer’s sound and video are working and that you have a work-appropriate background. You should also ensure that the environment around you is quiet and not distracting to your teammates.

Once you launch the meeting, wait a minute or two before starting the discussion, just in case other remote employees are running late from another virtual meeting. During this time, feel free to mingle with teammates and get to know them.

If you have colleagues that can’t attend the meeting, plan to record it. This way, someone who wasn’t available or had technical difficulties can listen to the meeting discussion after to stay in the loop.

If the meeting includes a small group of people or a new employee, leave time in the beginning for everyone to introduce themselves and give a brief description of what they do at your company.

You can also consider a quick virtual ice-breaker. As Prater mentioned above, this is something that the blog team has embraced in our weekly meetings.

“Ice breakers might sound cringe-worthy, but they single-handedly transformed our meetings from transactional run-downs of everyone’s to-list to a fun, personal opportunity to get to know our teammates a little better,” Prater says.

Wrapping Up the Meeting

At the end of the meeting, leave time for questions. If you have some in-office employees and some remote employees, it can be helpful to invite remote employees to ask questions first to avoid teams accidentally speaking over each other.

Then, send the slide deck and meeting recording link to your team so they can reference these resources later on.

Refining Your Meeting Schedule

As you start to run multiple virtual meetings, Nataly Kelly, HubSpot’s VP of Localization, says you should continue to evaluate their effectiveness.

After each meeting, Kelly says you should try to answer questions like, “Are the right people in the meeting?”, “Is this the right frequency for meetings?”, “Is the meeting too long or too short?”, and “Is this the best use of everyone’s time?”

“Often, you only need to change one variable to make things work better for a remote team,” Kelly says.

While it might be tempting to book your team with tons of virtual meetings to stay on the same page, Kelly instead advises that you leave team members with some flexible calendar space each week.

“Make sure you’re not filling your calendar with eight hours of video calls per day. Encourage your team to block time to work on other projects,” Kelly adds. “Or, if the team lends itself to it, consider doing most of your meetings in the mornings and leaving afternoons for other work. Just make sure you give people time in their day that is unscheduled.”

To learn more about scheduling an effective virtual team meeting, check out this list of tips and strategies.

3. Check-in with individuals on your team regularly.

When you or your teammate is working remotely, you can’t easily turn to them to ask them a question, get to know them, or have a casual work conversation. This is why, on top of your roster of remote meetings, you should also consider booking one-on-ones or informal virtual coffee chats with people you don’t often see daily.

This will allow you to keep up with your employees, discuss their work with them, help them with any blockers they might be facing, and offer visibility so they can feel like you’re an accessible manager.

Aside from discussing work with each employee, Prater says you should also schedule times to discuss your employee’s career growth and progress.

“The biggest worry I hear from remote folks or those being managed by a remote manager is that they won’t have the same opportunities for advancement,” says Prater. “I over-communicate when it comes to career growth.”

“I have weekly check-ins with each of my direct reports where we talk about what they’re working on. But I also schedule quarterly career chats where I draw up a personalized growth plan for each of them, and we run through prompts to check their satisfaction in their current role and their aspirations for what’s next,” Prater explains.

Aside from scheduled one-on-ones, you should also consider leaving some areas of flexible time on your calendar. This way, if a remote colleague has a question or concern that’s easier to discuss in person than via text-based message, you’re able to quickly jump on a call.

“Be ready to jump on a phone call or video conference without having to schedule a time for it,” advises,” Susanne Ronnqvist Ahmadi, HubSpot’s VP of International Marketing advises. “Let your team know you’re available over your instant messaging software and build “air-time” into your calendar for check-ins and quick talks.”

4. Embrace and implement digital productivity tools.

On top of video call software, there are many helpful tools that you can use to manage remote or dispersed teams. Here just a few types of tools you should consider implementing:

Scheduling Tools

When everyone is remote, having an email or Slack discussion just to determine a good time for a meeting can be redundant and non-productive. Luckily, there are plenty of tools that allow you to request, manage, and schedule meetings with your team.

For example, if you have Microsoft Outlook or GSuite, you can see your teammate’s calendars, working hours, and availability. Then, you can send a meeting invite for a time that they’re free. From there, your teammate can accept, reject, or suggest a new time for an event.

Task Management Systems

With a task management system like Trello or Asana, you can create a joint team project and assign different team members to tasks virtually. You can also give tasks deadlines and check to see if they’re been marked as completed.

Instant Messengers

Ever got caught up in a giant email thread where multiple people were replying to the same message? An instant messaging app, such as Slack, will allow you to create group threads to discuss projects, upload assets within the conversation, and see when other team members have replied clearly. This is also a helpful way to communicate with your team about topics that don’t require a full video call to discuss.

Aside from quick conversations, you can also host mini-meetings on your instant messaging platform. For example, the HubSpot Blog has a weekly meeting where we submit blog titles to a group chat and request feedback on them virtually. This takes little time and provides us with an opportunity to work with in-office and remote employees.

To learn more about 35 remote work tools, check out this detailed guide.

5. Be mindful of timezones and remote employee boundaries.

Remote work options allow you to hire talent from every area of the world. This is a great way to boost the level of diverse thinking on your team and learn about different marketers.

However, one challenge global teams face is adapting to teammates in different timezones.

As a remote team manager, it’s important to navigate around your teammates’ differing work hours, while also encouraging teammates in your timezone to be mindful of other remote teammate schedules.

As you onboard employees or implement a team calendar, ask remote teammates to mark their working and non-working hours on their schedule. You can also have an intro conversation with teams to discuss timezones and preferred work hours, just to ensure that all team members are up to date with who will be working when.

If a large chunk of your team is in another timezone, you might also want to consider working on that timezone’s schedule one day a week or doing a split shift, where you complete half of your work hours when one chunk of your team is most active and another do another shift when a team in another timezone is online. This strategy could help you be more available to your global teammates and stay in the loop of what they’re up to.

6. Align with outside teams virtually.

At a company with remote or dispersed employees, you shouldn’t just focus on your own team. You should also be sure to communicate regularly with other departments to see where your team’s work can align with there’s and where you can benefit the bigger business.

One example of this is sales and marketing alignment. While marketers aim to reach goals related to traffic and brand awareness, salespeople are focused purely on the bottom line. While both teams are vital for their businesses, they can get disjointed due to their differing success metrics. However, when these two teams work well together, marketers can hit their KPIs while also benefiting the company’s overall sales.

As a marketing manager, you should try to plan virtual chats with sales managers and other teams to discuss goals and where your team can align with theirs. You can also use digital tools, like marketing attribution software, to get an idea of how your work impacts the greater company.

In the long run, these meetings will allow you to think of the company with a broader scope rather than just focusing on your team’s efforts all the time.

Creating an Inclusive Culture

7. Take steps to ensure all teammates feel included.

Commonly, remote employees struggle with feelings of disconnection and a lack of visibility.

Without an office filled with people, remote employees don’t have the opportunity to make small talk with colleagues, ask questions, or have a quick work-related chat. This can leave them feeling unincluded or out of the loop on team projects. They might also worry that it will be hard to excel at their company if they aren’t as visible as other employees.

To help each employee feel a sense of belonging, identify where you can make processes and group events more inclusive.

“We often remind managers that it truly is the little things that can make a difference in allowing a remote employee to feel included,” says Siobhán McGinty, a Principle Marketing Manager.

“That feeling of inclusion can make such a difference to employee retention, happiness, and performance — so the little things actually matter quite a lot,” McGinty adds. “During the remote week, we heard lots of examples of how managers and teams go above and beyond in ensuring that their remote counterparts are included in the day-to-day.”

In a recent post about the HubSpot marketing team’s experimental work-from-home week, McGinty offered a list of actions that could make remote teammates feel more included. These could include sending e-birthday cards, inviting remote teammates to in-person get-togethers via video call, or organizing a virtual gift exchange around the holidays.

Aside from making your remote employees feel included through simple actions, you can also schedule activities that allow them to offer ideas or work virtually with the rest of the broader team.

For example, you could host a campaign brainstorm where all remote members are invited to share their ideas. Or, before you leave for the holidays, you could expense your team’s dinners and host a virtual hack night where you work ahead to ensure the business still runs smoothly when everyone’s on vacation.

Not only do team bonding activities allow the team to work together, but they also allow remote members to feel included and get to know their colleagues.

8. Identify opportunities for virtual team bonding.

It can be easy to think that your team is bonding during business meetings and team celebrations. But, the truth is, your colleagues might only see each other during these times.

To build an even better team, consider virtual opportunities that allow teammates to get to know each other on a more human level.

Just the other day, my team took part in a virtual Pictionary-like game called Drawasaurus. While this meeting had nothing to do with work, it allowed us to chat, learn about each other, and have fun with teammates we don’t get to see daily.

If your schedule is incredibly limited, you can also make time for virtual bonding in regular team meetings. For example, as Prater, noted earlier each of our blog meetings begins with at least two icebreakers.

Aside from enabling teammates to get to know each other during virtual events, you should also identify opportunities where you can get to know the individuals on your team more personally. For example, rather than scheduling a one-on-one to discuss only work with a remote employee, you could schedule a remote coffee chat that’s just devoted to getting to know teammates.

“As with any relationship, time spent together is important. And if you’re remote, that time naturally is more limited. As a result, building rapport is even more challenging,” says Susanne Ronnqvist Ahmadi, HubSpot’s VP of International Marketing.

“I try and make an effort in getting to know the people I’m working with to understand how we can best work together, communicate, and interact with each other,” Ronnqvist Ahmadi explains.

Using Emotional Intelligence

9. Encourage empathy among in-office and out-of-office teammates.

When it comes to remote work, some of the biggest challenges that employees face are feelings of loneliness and disconnection. They also find it hard to unplug at the end of the day because their work is not clearly separated from their home life.

As a remote team manager, it’s important to recognize the challenges your employees might face and give them any other guidance when necessary. If you have any teammates who are in-office, you should also encourage them to consider the challenges a remote employee might go through on a regular basis.

Recently, to help in-office employees understand the benefits and challenges of working from home, HubSpot asked the entire marketing department to remote for one week. While some people really enjoyed the opportunity to work remotely, some struggled with staying focused, communicating with teammates, and finding an effective workspace. Although the experiment only lasted for a week, it gave in-office employees a taste of the workstyles benefits and challenges.

10. Use emotional intelligence at all times.

While you might be calm and collected when managing a team in the office, overseeing remote teams might feel different to you emotionally. Even though you can’t see a team and they can’t see you, you should still use emotional intelligence at all times.

Emotional intelligence, also called EQ, is a sought after skill that enables you to understand your emotions and train yourself to react in an appropriate way to certain scenarios.

For example, when managing a remote team, you might need to resist the urge to mistrust or micromanage colleagues that you can’t see every day.

In this scenario, leaders that lack emotional intelligence might panic about their team going off-course and begin to control every aspect of everyone’s work. Meanwhile, an emotionally intelligent leader might address this concern by scheduling check-ins with teammates to make sure a project is on the right track.

“Resist the temptation to micro-manage, even if you feel uncomfortable about having less visibility into the day-to-day,” says Kelly. “Autonomy and flexibility are hugely important for managing remotely.”

“Keep your team focused on the critical goals, and don’t worry about how they get there,” Kelly adds/ “Trust them to solve problems and make good decisions, but set a high bar to show you trust them to accomplish great things with the privilege of autonomy and flexibility.”

In another common team management scenario, you might find that your employee made a big mistake when you were offline.

While a less emotionally intelligent leader might send a long ranting email, someone who understands their emotions will take a minute to note what frustrated them about a situation and then plan a chat to discuss constructive feedback with the employee.

“No angry emails,” Kelly advises. “Trust and respect matter hugely for remote teams to operate well, and because email is more important for remote teams, it’s important to keep emotions out of it where possible.”

Kelly explains that email and other digital communication should be respectful and “not a place for venting.”

Emotional intelligence can also help you in scenarios when there’s a disagreement amongst your teammates, according to Kelly.

“When you sense someone is angry or disagrees with a decision on a remote team, jump on a call quickly to resolve it,” Kelly says. “Don’t let things fester.

“Sometimes, the lack of face to face interaction makes it easier for people to jump to conclusions or feel misunderstood. It’s important that you signal to your team that if they are upset or concerned, that you’re there for them,” Kelly advises.

While you should use emotional intelligence to manage your own responses, you should also encourage your team to use the skill in their work life, too.

For example, if you find that someone is inappropriately venting over a communication platform. “make it clear what people should do instead.” Alternatively, ask your teammates to schedule one-on-ones or send polite messages requesting a quick chat to discuss a situation.

“Give your team an option to vent about things that won’t be disruptive to others, and importantly, won’t lead to side chatter either,” Kelly says.

When you use emotional intelligence properly, your teammates will feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns more often. They’ll also develop a stronger sense of trust in you as their manager. Ultimately, a manager who understands their emotions and the emotions of others can manage teams in a number of different scenarios.

Navigating Remote Work

If you’ve never worked remotely or managed remote teammates, it might take time to develop the perfect dispersed team management strategy.

As you build up your management tactics, your most important goals should be to help the team to function smoothly, build an inclusive work culture that enables employees to succeed, and use emotional intelligence at all times. While building solid processes is key to ensuring work gets done, taking time to build a positive company culture will allow team members from every region to feel like they can contribute their diverse thoughts, ideas, and strategies.

Want to learn more about the remote work style? Check out this blog post on remote work stats or this post on work-from-home productivity tools. If you’re curious about how work styles like remote work could expand and evolve, this post will walk you through how the marketing workplace could change in the near future. You can also check out our Ultimate Guide to Management for more tips for running in-office and remote teams.

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The 5 Key Components of a Killer Customer Marketing Strategy

It’s easy to see marketing as a process specific to attracting and converting prospects — the practice of generating and capitalizing on potential customers’ interest.

But once that potential has successfully been removed from the equation, and the prospect of winning a prospect’s business is no longer prospective, are you supposed to stop marketing to them altogether?

Absolutely not.

Your current customer base is a perfectly lucrative wellspring of new and sustained business opportunities that you should constantly be tapping into. That’s where the concept of customer marketing comes in — a school of marketing that allows you to get much more out of your customers than their initial business.

Let’s take a more thorough look at what customer marketing is and a picture of the five key elements of a successful customer-driven marketing strategy.

Customer marketing is, in large part, the art of building customer loyalty and enthusiasm in the hope that those elements will ultimately translate to new business. And in the context of the practice, the term “new” takes on multiple meanings.

“New” business could mean existing customers buying new products or services as you develop them. It could mean current customers upgrading the products of yours they currently leverage or upping the tier of your service they subscribe to.

Or, and perhaps most importantly, it could mean customers being enthusiastic enough about your business to evangelize to their friends and family about how awesome your company is to attract new customers for you.

Ultimately, a solid customer-driven marketing strategy is a way to leverage your current customers as marketing assets. The process is incredibly useful — but often tricky to navigate. Here are some of the key components of an effective customer-driven marketing strategy.

1. Leverage buyer personas to segment and understand your customers.

This point applies to virtually every kind of marketing, and a customer-driven marketing strategy is no exception. The success of these kinds of efforts inevitably leans on your ability to understand and approach the people you’re trying to appeal to. That’s why it’s in your best interest to use detailed buyer personas to guide your customer marketing efforts.

As per HubSpot’s own definition, a buyer persona is “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers based on data and research.” Who are your customers? Can you identify multiple segments with different interests and sensitivities? What kind of customer marketing will best suit those various bases?

For instance, say you’re in the B2B SaaS space, and various iterations of your software are consistently bought by both freelance developers and decision-makers at midsize businesses.

Those two groups would warrant the creation of two separate personas — ones that will probably be fundamentally different in how they approach your product and can be best appealed to.

Say you’ve recently released a new paid add-on to your program tailored to appeal to companies with over 100 employees and want to sell to established customers.

If you wanted to create an email campaign to support your customer-driven marketing efforts, you would refer to your midsize business decision-maker persona for cues on appropriate messaging and specific contacts.

That way, your customer marketing effort would be adeptly targeted. You would reach the most interested customers with appropriate content — all without bothering or alienating your other base.

One way or another, you have to know your customers before you can market to them effectively. Creating, maintaining, and referring to detailed buyer personas is central to that process. You can learn more about the nature and process of creating buyer personas here.

2. Provide exemplary customer service.

Two of the primary endgames of a customer-driven marketing strategy are garnering customer loyalty and facilitating customer evangelism. Those factors tend to hinge upon your customers’ experiences — their experiences with your product or service and their experiences with your company as a whole.

The latter tends to be easier to control than the former, so investing in customer service is always a must. Make sure your customer support infrastructure is sound.

Be thorough and responsive when addressing individual customers’ problems and concerns with your product — whether that be through email, over live chat, on the phone, or in person.

Have that structure in place and those resources on-hand to ensure that any potential problems your customers might have are immediately, patiently, and thoughtfully addressed.

They’ll help you delight your customers and provide specific insight into what you could be doing better — two actions that will inform your customer marketing strategy and allow you to maintain a happier customer base that will be more receptive to it.

3. Listen to and engage with your customers.

Customer feedback is central to the efficacy of any customer marketing strategy. How can you know what your customers want and expect out of your company if you don’t listen to them? If you ignore their thoughts and input, you’re undermining your ability to appeal to them as meaningfully as possible.

Pay careful attention to how customers are interacting with your brand on social media. Hear what they say over those platforms and be willing to adjust your product development, messaging, outreach, and customer-driven marketing strategies accordingly.

In many cases, just looking and listening won’t be enough. Engage with your customers online. Actively interact with them on social media. Ask for their feedback and insight yourself. Address issues and concerns that they might be raising personally.

Your customer-driven marketing strategy, at its core, is a means of cultivating and capitalizing on customer satisfaction. One of the best ways to do both is to let customers know that you care, are willing to listen, and will act on the feedback they offer.

Consistently demonstrating that you’re willing to do all that can be huge in the context of a successful customer-driven marketing strategy.

4. Incentivize loyalty.

Sustaining — if not consistently improving — impressive customer retention needs to be at the heart of your customer-driven marketing efforts. Your customers need to be loyal if you want to sell them on any new products or keep them on board as long as possible. But how can you help develop and foster that kind of loyalty?

The two prior points — providing exceptional customer service and engaging with your customers — are significant parts of that process. But there are certain programs and strategies you can implement to give your pushes for customer loyalty a little extra oomph.

Customer loyalty programs — incentivizing long term business with current customers through avenues like offering free merchandise, rewards, coupons, or even advance released products — are always worth considering when it comes to customer marketing.

Give your customers tangible, immediate reasons to remain loyal. Again, this point ties into the overarching theme this article keeps touching on — letting customers know you care.

The customers who have remained with your business want to know they’re not being taken for granted. And newer customers could always use a few extra reasons to plan on staying with you in the long run.

Customer loyalty programs are one of the better, more straightforward ways to supplement an effective customer-driven marketing strategy. So no matter the nature of your business, give some serious thought to incorporating one into your customer marketing efforts.

5. Have systems and strategies in place to generate referrals.

This point is where customer marketing and traditional marketing intersect. It’s one of the most clear-cut ways to translate general loyalty into new business — all while keeping current customers enthusiastic about your company.

There’s tremendous utility, versatility, and value in a well-constructed customer referral program. It’s essentially an official channel through which you can turn customers into evangelists — a program that incentivizes the projection of positive, customer-generated publicity.

If you can put together a referral program with simple instructions and attractive rewards, you can give your customers a personal stake in promoting your business.

It keeps them engaged, makes them articulate the value of your product or service to their friends, and ultimately wins you new customers while making the current ones that much happier with your business.

One of the main — or perhaps the main — endgames to implementing a customer-driven marketing strategy is to turn your customers into spokespeople. A customer referral program expedites that process.

Regardless of the size or nature of your business, you stand to gain a lot from carrying out effective customer marketing. Once you have customers on board, the last thing you should do is cast them by the wayside. There’s tremendous potential in meaningfully engaging with and appealing to them, so it’s worth your time to research and construct a solid customer-driven marketing strategy.

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