When you’re looking for a local business that’ll fix your favorite pair of shoes, sell you the book your friend recommended, or bake a spaceship-themed cake for your kid’s birthday — how do you find it?
You pull up your favorite search engine for a little online research, of course.
Your customers are no different. When they’re looking for a product or service similar to what your local business sells, they’re going online to find it.
A strong local SEO strategy is key to driving more people to your store, whether you have one storefront or five hundred. Take a look at these 16 local SEO facts and see why utilizing SEO could help your organization. (And to learn which parts of your site to optimize for local searches, check out this post.)
16 Local SEO Stats
46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. (Source: GoGulf)
Something magical happens when a CMS meets a CRM. Everything grows better. That’s why I could not be prouder to announce that HubSpot is partnering with WP Engine to turn WordPress websites into customer-focused growth engines.
When there’s a lot of friction in your company’s customer experience, people spread the word. Fortunately, the same is true when customers have a positive experience with your company — they tweet, post on LinkedIn, and rave to their friends, family, and colleagues about why they love doing business with you.
It’s this focus on the customer experience throughout marketing, sales, and services that puts force into your flywheel, turns your customers into promoters, and drives a growth engine for your business.
Your website is foundational to your business — it’s where prospects, leads, and customers come to learn and make decisions based on the experience you provide. Whether it be learning about your team, the services and products you offer, the values your company holds, or pricing and packaging — your website is a core experience for visitors.
So, you better make it a good one.
Creating a good website experience relies on understanding the context of each visitor. To do that you need to pair a top-class CMS with a powerful CRM. The new HubSpot and WP Engine partnership does just that.
For you — that combination means you’ll get a 360-degree view of the customer experience from prospect to lead to customer. You can see what webpages prospects visit and what forms they fill out to understand their interests. That information empowers your sales team to have more relevant conversations with prospects. When those conversations are logged in your CRM, your services team will also have full context on the customer and insight into their path. That kind of context and alignment is what turns a first-time visitor into a happy customer and promoter.
For your customer — this alignment means a fluid, personal, and consistent experience with your organization across their customer journey. It’s as simple as that.
Today, WordPress powers 34% of all websites on the internet. I am so excited that HubSpot is partnering with WP Engine, the WordPress digital experience platform, because more and more of those sites will now be able to plug into a free CRM that can bring that fluid, personal, and consistent experience to life.
Your site shouldn’t just host content and be a source of information, it should be a source of growth for your company by being the point where conversations with prospects start and where relationships with customers grow. Having growth tools and a CRM embedded directly in a CMS theme makes this possible. Through an integrated CMS and CRM, you can remove friction and create a connected, personalized, and helpful experience for your customers.
How We’re Working Together
The combination of the HubSpot CRM and the HubSpot plugin for WordPress allows you to connect your WordPress website to your HubSpot account, which creates an easy to use solution for lead capture and contact management.
All the features of the plugin are built on top of the free, fully-integrated HubSpot CRM, which gives you a full view of your customer’s journey and empowers you to better customize and personalize your interactions with customers.
The HubSpot plugin for WordPress is now available for all StudioPress themes and gives you access to these tools:
Forms and pop-up forms for better lead capturing on websites.
Live chat to interact with website visitors in real time and bots to provide an automated response after-hours.
Automatic syncs with HubSpot CRM that provide the full context across all forms, pop-up forms, and live chat interactions.
Simple email automation to quickly engage with leads after each form submission.
Visitor tracking and lead intelligence for insight into which pages contacts view on websites for better personalization.
Why WP Engine?
WP Engine is one of the leaders for SMB WordPress hosting and provides managed WordPress hosting for mission-critical sites around the world.
HubSpot and WP Engine have a long history together. Jason Cohen, WP Engine’s founder and CTO, and Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot’s co-founder and CTO, have known each other since before WP Engine’s founding and both were committed to starting and leading companies that focused on making their customers more successful, building relationships by doing the right thing, and focusing on the long-term even when it’s not the easiest path. This shared ethos combined with their WordPress hosting leadership made partnering with WP Engine an easy choice.
HubSpot offers a CMS of its own, but wants to empower customers to use the tools that best suit their needs. For some, WordPress solves their CMS needs and for others the HubSpot CMS is the right choice. We want to ensure both sets of customers have access to the most fully integrated marketing, sales, and service platform to grow their businesses.
I’m excited about the immense value HubSpot and WP Engine’s joint customers will gain from this partnership.
Some things just go together. When HubSpot and WordPress combine, we can deliver more value than the sum of our parts. I believe that as a result of this new partnership with WP Engine, 1+1 will equal 3 for users of both platforms and their customers.
However, lead generation can be time-consuming and challenging, particularly since there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to lead generation.
If you own a business or lead a marketing department, it’s vital you assess the extent of your capabilities to decide whether it makes more sense to hire and train someone in-house to market and sell your product, or whether you should outsource your marketing and lead generation efforts.
There are advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing, and the back-and-forth confusion between “I should do it myself” and “I should trust someone else to handle it” is a struggle many marketers face when deciding how to improve their lead generation efforts.
Here, we’ll explore the benefits to outsourcing your lead generation to help you decide whether it’s a good option for your team, or whether you can accomplish your company goals in-house.
But first — what is outsourcing?
What is outsourcing in marketing and lead generation, anyway?
If your company is a business-to-consumer model, there’s no room for outside lead generation.
Additionally, if you have invested heavily in training an in-house marketing and sales team, or if your team has accumulated thorough knowledge and expertise of your product, the benefits of not outsourcing will greatly outweigh the cost of hiring and training those team members.
In-house lead generation offers the most control when you need to be able to analyze your lead generation tactics and make changes on the fly, or if you want to track your marketing team’s work and progress closely.
However, other companies — often to their surprise — find that the benefits of outsourcing lead generation actually surpass the costs.
If you’re hesitant to outsource because of budgetary concerns, consider this: keeping lead generation in-house means that you will have to hire, train, and pay at least one team member solely for that purpose. Effective training can take as long as a year, and there is still the cost of overhead to consider.
Companies that want to save money often turn to outsourcing lead generation in order to get more bang for their buck. For companies whose sales reps have less than a year of experience, outsourcing will likely garner them more leads because of the vendor’s advanced skills and familiarity.
Working with the right sales-development representatives and setting specific criteria means that you will have as much control as you would if they were in-house — if this is the case, outsourcing might be a smart strategy.
Additionally, your in-house marketers might know your product too well. Mistakes are made when you start assuming that your customers know just as much about your business as you do.
That way of thinking hurts your business. In marketing, your primary assumption should be that your customers know nothing about your products or services.
This presents an opportunity to slow down and question how you can best educate your prospective buyers. 63 percent of companies report that their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. Are you targeting those who will appreciate details and data? Is your audience composed of C-suiters who prefer a good narrative?
To get positive results from your lead-generation efforts, you must be willing to take the time to get to know all aspects of your audience — and also teach them about you. Sometimes, a little help from a third-party resource can make a huge difference.
So, that leads us to the big question — when should you outsource?
When to outsource — and when not to.
One of the main things you need to consider when deciding whether to outsource is your staffing. Do your current team members have the skills and capacity needed to take on the task?
You’ll want to consider in-house lead generation when …
You can dedicate an experienced, full-time team to it. In order to make lead generation work as it should, you need at least two or three employees who can focus solely on targeting, content, domain, and scheduling logistics.
Your primary leads are coming from inbound marketing: people who have indicated that they want to hear from you by completing a form on your website, for example.
Outsourcing your lead generation makes sense when …
You don’t have the resources to devote to staffing a full internal department.
Your lead generation needs center on cold calling and booking appointments.
You have a rock-solid process for qualifying leads, and you’re confident you can create one for lead generation with all parties involved.
If your needs don’t quite fit either category …
Consider a bridge. Email can be effective as a lead generator, especially to certain demographics. More than half of surveyed consumers in the U.S. check their personal email accounts more than 10 times per day. They strongly prefer email for receiving updates from brands. If you use email as your primary vehicle to prospect, make sure you’ve assigned someone to monitor your inboxes full-time to respond and schedule meetings in a timely fashion.
The benefits of outsourcing lead generation can add up. Outsourcing can save time on prospecting, identifying the most qualified leads, and setting up meetings between those leads and your rock-star salespeople. Together, your outsourced lead generation and internal sales teams can work to reduce ramp time and achieve a reasonable lead efficiency, making your growth goals more attainable.
Whether you ultimately choose outsourced B2B lead generation, an in-house team, or a combination of the two, the biggest mistake you can make is overestimating benefits and underestimating costs. Lead generation takes resources, effort, and patience.
A business can’t devote 10 hours a week to lead generation and expect to see success. It requires a cross-section of experience, knowledge, and talent across disciplines to create an effective process.
When you’re running through your list of outsourcing considerations, know that you can’t go wrong with first-rate resources and a strong set of guidelines. Closely consider the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing to find the balance of keeping what you do well under your roof, and outsourcing secondary priorities that a provider can do better.
As demand for ecommerce increases, so does the number of software tools and platforms designed to help businesses capture leads, generate revenue, and grow. Finding and using effective ecommerce platforms can help your organization tap into the more than $500 billion consumers spent online last year.
If you’re shopping around for the best application to support your ecommerce business, you might be overwhelmed by the number of tools to choose from in 2019. For example, some platforms are specialized for specific functions like building a website or analyzing traffic, while others integrate multiple components into a one-stop shop.
Here, we’re going to show you some of our favorite ecommerce software for 2019, and help you decide which ones can help your organization grow better.
Spotify is one of the most widely recognized ecommerce platforms due to its comprehensive tool bundling and usability. Its easy-to-use software allows customers to create an intuitive online store, even if they have no technical experience.
The point-of-sale web hosting platform offers a suite of tools for businesses to sell their products — including branding, selling, and order management. Shopify helps its customers jumpstart their business with custom logos, names, and web domains before helping to scale their business by selling and marketing products on major sites like Facebook, Amazon, and Pinterest. Shopify is a comprehensive toolkit to help businesses do everything from building brand presence to payments and shipping.
BigCommerce is another online interface designed to help customers sell and grow their businesses through a website builder, customizable checkout processes, and SEO support.
The platforms offers inventory tracking and Amazon integration for ease of selling. BigCommerce also offers other integrations — Google Shopping, Mailchimp, and Instagram Shopping, to name a few — to reach your target audiences where they are.
No matter your coding experience, BigCommerce supports ready-made templates that can be tweaked as necessary. Known for its fast processing speed, BigCommerce is especially useful for new companies looking to demonstrate their brand as reliable and speedy.
Magento Commerce, which is owned by Adobe, is a platform that is highly customizable, engaging, and secure. They offer products including order management, business intelligence, and a marketplace to help scale your business.
Magento offers software for small, mid-market, and enterprise businesses, but works especially well for larger clients. Its cloud-based services affords the platform greater flexibility and agility.
Additionally, Magento has unique solutions based on organization size, need, and industry to support your specific ecommerce goals. For example, their ‘Magento for Fashion eCommerce’ platform focuses on creating a dazzling mobile experience and targeting buying options, primarily meeting the needs of retail stores.
Squarespace is best known for its sleek and easy-to-use web page builder. The software is a leader of website design and offers drag-and-drop templates. Users can either customize their site or use Squarespace’s ready-made designs. Best of all, the tool guides businesses through SEO best practices and domain strategies to boost page awareness and brand recognition.
Organizations can now also build email campaigns through Squarespace, connect with consumers through social media integrations, and track visitor behavior. Squarespace helps entrepreneurs, artists, restaurants, and a variety of other customers create a beautiful and professional online display.
Wix is a super simple website builder that offers features for small online businesses. Choose from over 500 sleek templates or build custom web applications from scratch with Corvid by Wix, their serverless, hassle-free coding integration. Incorporate a blog, galleries, personalized SEO, and a custom domain to make an attractive and effective website.
Wix has ecommerce functionality and an intuitive interface for a reasonable price. It’s more effective for smaller business, but it’s difficult to scale up for larger businesses since it lacks multiple sales channels and other, more complex features.
Google Analytics is a primary source of web analytics. The service tracks data relating to a business’s website, traffic, and user interactions. Google Analytics offers comprehensive reports and detailed dashboards to help businesses better understand the behavior of visitors and conversions.
For instance, the tool might help you better understand from which social or website sources your leads are finding your landing pages, or which blog posts convert the most visitors. If you’re looking to maintain, visualize, and implement large amounts of data, Google Analytics might be a good fit for your business. However, it can be daunting if you only need to keep track of a few insights, in which case, a simpler analytics tool might be more useful.
Looker is a data modeling platform that offers powerful analytics features to display business intelligence metrics on an intuitive dashboard. The software provides industry-specific insights through SQL that can inform your business decisions. For ecommerce users, Looker provides big data on how web page traffic influences conversions and how to identify trends that might boost brand performance. Through data visualization, embedded analytics, and sleek customized dashboards, Looker can help you effectively grow your business.
If you’re interested in growing your ecommerce website or scaling your business, check out HubSpot’s Free Inbound Marketing Software. The platform integrates an arsenal of tools that tracks a lead’s lifecycle as they transform from prospect to delighted customer. Capture, track, and analyze leads to drive conversions — all for free.
Like a tree falling in the woods, if you launch a product without spreading the word — will anyone use it? Will anyone even want it?
Probably not. Whether you’re launching something huge, something small, or you’re updating a current offering, you’ll want to start your preparation well in advance of the launch date. This includes nailing down your positioning and messaging, sharing that with key teams and stakeholders, listing out all the launch activities, creating assets and content, prepping everyone involved in the launch, and so on.
Because there are so many moving parts in this process, bringing your product to market can be intimidating and tricky. To help you, here’s a step-by-step checklist for a successful product launch.
1. Learn about your customer.
Whether you call it “market research,” or “customer development” it’s key to learn about what drives your customer. Identifying their goals, motivations, and pain points could lead you to developing and marketing a valuable solution.
You don’t need to perform years of intense research to learn about your customer. In fact, we suggest just talking to 12 to 15 current or prospective customers.
When speaking to them, pay extra attention when they start sentences with “I wish a product did this function…” or “Why can’t products do this?” When they give these statements, respond with questions that go deeper, like “Can you get more specific about that?” If they don’t bring up any pain points, ask them a few specific questions that will encourage them to give deeper answers.
These conversations will give you a solid idea of what their biggest pain points are and how you can market a solution to them. Once you learn these key details about your customers, you can develop a buyer persona that your team can focus on serving.
2. Write a positioning statement.
Write out a statement that can clearly and concisely answer these three questions:
Who is the product for?
What does the product do?
Why is it different from other products out there?
If you’d like to go even deeper, create a statement that answers the following questions:
What is your target audience?
What segment of the target audience is most likely to buy the product?
What brand name will you give your product or service?
What product or service category does your product lie in?
How is it different from competitors in the same category?
What evidence or proof do you have to prove that your product is different?
Our go-to-market template will also help you determine which content you should create for each phase of your prospective customer’s buyer’s journey.
6. Prepare your team.
Be sure that your company and key stakeholders are ready for you to launch and begin marketing the product. Communicate with the company through internal presentations, Slack, or email to keep your company in-the-know of your launch plan.
7. Launch the product
Once you’ve completed all the above steps, you can launch the product. After you launch, track how the go-to-market strategy is performing. Be prepared to pivot or adjust aspects of your plan if they aren’t going smoothly.
If you’re looking for templates to coordinate your team efforts and align your company around your new product’s messaging, download our free product marketing kit below.
Fewer people read your blog posts than you think. More people read your headline than you think, too.
You might not realize it, but your headline could be the reason you’re losing traffic. In fact, on average, only 20% of those who read your headline will click through to read your article. That means good headlines lose 80% of your audience.
Great headlines, though, can make a dramatic impact in the opposite direction. You can increase the traffic to your articles by as much as 500%, based solely on the headline.
Not only does the headline affect click-through rates, but it sets the tone and establishes the key subject of the article. points out , a title can have a huge impact on what the audience takes away from an article.
But these kinds of titles don’t appeal to SEO, and they don’t address the problems my clients are facing. Too many marketers make their titles too cute to be effective.
The best headlines are the ones that capture the pain points of your target personas and introduces a topic that will make their lives better. And it must be compelling.
If your headline is not compelling, you’ll lose up to 80% of your audience.
1. The ‘Best’ Headlines
These headlines are powerful for SEO. These types of headlines speak right to the common web searches of your customers. Consider this — if you’re searching for ways to save money, wouldn’t you be intrigued by the best way? Or would you be satisfied with any old way?
These headlines are typically exact-match searches; starting off with the words, “the best way to…”
Most of us share a desire to improve. We want to be more productive and more successful. We all would love to accomplish more in less time. And, we all want to be good at what we do. It’s those desires that make the, “If I were you…” headlines so powerful.
When someone tells us how we should do something, we balk. When someone offers to show us why we should do something, it appeals to us. It speaks to the reasons and motivations we should adopt a new idea, or change our current ones.
This title, in particular, was especially powerful to me for two reasons. The first, was the context of the article; it appeared on LinkedIn from a very popular marketer.
The second reason was because it caused cognitive dissonance – Facebook is one of the largest platforms available to marketers, yet this title says I should walk away and forget it. And it worked. This post was viewed around 300,000 times.
5. The ‘What We Do When…’ Headlines
Transparency is a new paradigm in marketing. For years, companies have done all they could to keep their “secret sauce” hidden from the public. What companies have started to realize is, the real secret sauce is trust. And every company has access to it if they want it.
Transparency is one amazing way to build that trust. Buffer, for instance, has championed transparency. As a result, they have built an amazing company culture, as well as a rabid fan base of customers.
Buffer reveals things most CEOs would laugh you out of the room for sharing. They share everything from their revenue earnings to how much they pay their employees.
Humans have a thing called a learning bias. No matter how wise a saying is, we are much more apt to accept it as true if we trust the source. Not only that, but we’re fascinated by ultimate truths that spur us into action.
For example, if you can prove through research that waking up to Mozart translates to more energy in the morning, iTunes will light up with Mozart-seekers.
Why not do the same with your product or service? How is it going to make someone’s life better? Share that, but base it on research.
This title appeals to our desire to be the best. As Brian Tracy in his book, Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, says, “The people you most admire and look up to have an inordinate amount of influence on how you think and feed about yourself, and the kind of decisions you make.”
If your title can appeal to the kind of people your audience look up to, it can be a powerful incentive to read more.
The most compelling headlines are those that appeal to our desire to be accepted. We don’t want to look like fools. Headlines that connect to that desire are extremely compelling. When you mention mistakes, we all want to ensure we’re not making them, especially if they are well-known.
This is a powerful title option. It allows you to replace third-party, uncontrollable reviews of your product or service with reviews you can control. Not only that, but it can steal traffic from your competitors as well. In very competitive spaces, these types of headlines perform very well.
Marcus Sheridan, of The Sales Lion loves these types of articles. Don’t get him started on talking about Yelp. Instead, write some comparative articles and use these headlines to drive organic traffic from your competitors’ websites.
Deep down inside, humans are just as curious as cats. Headlines that appeal to our inner feline are super powerful.
Some people, such as Upworthy, have mastered the art of sparking our interest. They create titles that dangle a carrot in front of us, forcing us to click through to get it.
If you’re going to use this tactic, you better deliver content that excites as much as the title. If not, you’ll just annoy your audience. I’ve started to loath these headlines, because more and more people are using them and not delivering on the anticipation.
This headline pits products against one another while capturing traffic for both services, so it can only be a ‘Everyone Loves Competition’ headline.
How To Craft the Perfect Headline
Which version of these headlines work the best? That depends on what the writer is trying to accomplish. Some are better for SEO while others are better for attracting people’s attention from social shares.
Here’s how to choose which type of headline to use:
Ask, “what is the single, most important point I want my readers to take away from this article?”
Decide the best way to communicate that single takeaway.
Write 25 headlines for each piece of content, then choose the best.
Ask others. Give them your ideas, and see which one they like best. Always ask why.
Keep a log of which types of headlines work best for your target personas. Use them shamelessly.
There’s a popular saying that goes, “Employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers.”
In a perfect world, managers would always be cool under pressure, as well as a constant source of inspiration. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. It can be challenging as a manager to always say the right thing, especially when you’re juggling multiple priorities.
Additionally, managers are ultimately accountable for the success of their team — in fact, research shows that the key difference between a disengaged team that underperforms and an engaged team that delivers is the manager.
As a manager, the single most powerful tool you can use to help strengthen your team’s skills is your feedback. Your employees rely on your words to see their blind spots, understand where they add value, and learn what they can do to improve.
Since your words carry a ton of power as a manager, Headway Capital put together this infographic to show you 11 things you should never say to your direct reports, how to apologize if you got it wrong — and, ultimately, what to say instead.
You’ve just spent thousands of dollars, countless hours, and have had more organizational nightmares than you’d care to admit, but you’re done.
The brand new site design you’ve been working on is finally finished — and it looks great.
However, after a few weeks, you notice something’s missing. Maybe it’s a simple design error, or perhaps, a feature doesn’t work or was overlooked.
Whatever it is, it’s missing and you’re not sure how to fix it.
Hiring an agency or directing your developer’s time to fix it are investment-heavy solutions that’ll eat up more of your budget and time.
Fortunately, there are tons of awesome website plugins that can quickly and easily improve the functionality of any site. Here, we’re going to explore 14 of them.
But first — what is a website plugin?
What Are Website Plugins and Why Are They Important?
Website plugins are individual services that improve a specific functionality of your site.
You might use a website plugin to quickly change visual elements, add extra information or content, offer smoother integration between your site and a favored tool, or even add a completely new feature and function to your web property.
The beauty of website plugins is in their simplicity. The name’s pretty apt, since all you do is download and install, or “plugin.” Simply set one up, and your site can run smoother and offer features your users want.
How to Assess if a Plugin is the Right Solution for You
I’m going to run through a couple of fantastic plugins for different goals below, but first, let’s dive into some general rules on how to find the best plugin for your site.
1. Understand your website platform.
If you’re running your website on Shopify, then a WordPress plugin isn’t going to be of much use.
This typically won’t be a huge issue for you, since a lot of the almost-done-for-you platforms (like WordPress and Shopify) come with simple built-in plugin libraries.
However, whatever your situation, it’s critical you ensure you know what your site’s running on to save you time looking into a solution that’s incompatible.
2. Know your goal.
What are you trying to achieve?
You need to know this upfront so you can look for the plugin with the right functionality.
When you’re figuring this out, go deeper than goals like “more money”. Instead, get specific and outline the issue people are facing on your site, and the action you can take to fix the problem.
For example, “The messaging on the site is too general. If we personalize the messaging we should see conversions increase by X% within [timeframe]”.
3. Conduct research.
Once you’ve narrowed down on your goal, you want to conduct research to find a solution best-fit for your specific problem.
Ideally, you’ll want a plugin that has good reviews, is compatible with your site’s platform, and offers the actual features that can help you achieve your goal.
Once you’ve found a good option, it’s time to get it onto your site for your first test.
Having trouble finding an option? Fortunately, we’ve conducted some of the research for you. Keep reading to learn about our 14 favorite website plugins for 2019.
Good social proof elements can be the difference between a user committing to buy, or exiting your site.
Proof allows you to add social proof in different forms across your site, including current live visitor numbers, notifications of current purchases, and reports of how many people have recently signed up. Ultimately, this is a good tool for you if you feel your site’s viewers could benefit from visualizing how popular your products or services are.
HubSpot’s WordPress plugin gives you an all-in-one marketing and lead generation tool to help you collect leads, create popup forms, live chat with visitors, and send all that data back to a free CRM to use for campaigns.
Of course, the HubSpot platform offers many other growth tools, some of which start free and many others that can help you accelerate your marketing, sales, and service operations.
With the WordPress plugin, you can install it quickly, get started easily, and it’s all free to get going.
RightMessage is a tool focused primarily on better serving your customers through personalized content.
It has a few key features that make it a fantastic solution. First, you’re able to segment users based on slide-in questionnaires, acquisition source, or tags from your email service provider or CRM. Then, based on those segments you can dynamically change messaging and CTAs to better appeal to that segment and increase conversion rates.
Additionally, the plugin integrates with a ton of site platforms including HubSpot, WordPress, and Squarespace.
Knowing how your users are interacting with your site is key to understanding where there are UX issues and design problems.
HotJar’s heat maps provide you with an overview of user engagement on the whole. It can help highlight which CTAs and links are too vague, where you’re losing people in long-form content, and even allows session recordings for real-time analysis.
As an extra bonus, HotJar offers feedback polls for more explicit data collection.
Simply put, Qualaroo takes the feedback element of HotJar to the next level.
With Qualaroo you’re given a suite of features that automatically collect user data through more advanced targeting. You also have the option of including elements like decision trees to dig deeper with your questions.
Jumper.ai is technically a social commerce tool that allows brands to sell directly through their social media channels without the need for a store.
However, Jumper.ai also offers a plugin that takes their checkout bot and allows you to run it directly on your site. With Jumper, you can add a conversational checkout bot directly on your product or service landing pages.
For instance, here’s how it would look on a blog post:
OptinMonster is a lead generation service that gives you the ability to target your offers to specific user segments.
You can ensure that your OptinMonster offers and forms only show up when someone has been on your site for a set period of time, displays exit intent, or have visited certain pages. Ideally, this will help you guarantee your offers are reaching people once they’re eager to learn more.
SEO is a complex discipline to master, so every bit of help you can get will save time for you and your business.
Yoast’s SEO plugin isn’t a perfect solution, but if you’re not a professional SEO expert and just need a good overview of your actions, Yoast’s plugin can help you keep things on track and ensure you’re truly optimizing your site for search.
For instance, the tool can amend meta descriptions for you, so you know you’re only showing key information in search results and social shares. When you’re busy or don’t have the resources to dedicate to SEO, Yoast can help you level-up.
Testing different elements of your site, from headlines and images to CTAs and messaging, is key to improving your marketing strategy over time.
However, running individual A/B tests can be time-consuming and difficult. Fortunately, the VWO A/B testing tool is an all-in-one solution that automatically runs A/B tests on your pages, and improves the overall optimization of your website.
Prooffactor adds social proof elements, including who recently bought a product and live visitor counts, to your site to ensure new visitors can quickly visualize the popularity of your products or services.
Best of all, Prooffactor also offers gamified pop-ups to add another lead generation element to your site and further engage new prospects.
There are countless website plugins out there, and each one aims to solve a unique website problem.
Generally speaking, your goal with your website should be making your purchase or sign-up journey as frictionless as possible for your users — ideally, a plugin can help create a simpler process for your site visitors.
When you create an email using a drag-and-drop or module-based tool, you’re actually generating an HTML email.
There are two main types of email you can send and receive: plain text emails (these are exactly what they sound like — any email that contains just plain old text with no formatting) and HTML emails, which are formatted and styled using HTML and inline CSS.
HTML emails are easy to spot — most of the styled, multimedia marketing emails in your inbox are HTML emails.
For context, here’s a visual comparison of a plain text email and a basic HTML email:
As a marketer, you’ve probably discovered that there are different benefits to each type. HTML emails aren’t inherently better than plain text emails, and in different situations, both types can be part of a successful email marketing program.
In this article, we’ll cover how you can get started creating HTML emails, regardless of your experience level and comfort with coding, and some free templates you can use to get started. Let’s dive in.
How to Create an HTML Email
There’s good news if you aren’t an HTML expert: most tools that create and send email (like HubSpot) will offer pre-formatted, ready-to-go HTML templates that enable you to design emails without ever needing to access the actual code on the back-end.
As you make changes in the email editor, those changes will be automatically coded into the final product. Email building tools like this are an ideal option if you don’t have an email designer on your team, but you still want to send professional-looking marketing emails. You can check out our complete list of email newsletter tools right here to find one that’s right for your specific needs.
If you’re comfortable with HTML and want more direct control over the code of your emails, most email tools will allow you to import HTML files directly for use as custom email templates. There are a wide variety of free HTML email templates available on the web (some of which we’ll share below), and if you know your way around an HTML file, it’s usually quite straightforward to adapt the template to the email building tool of your choice.
To create an HTML email completely from scratch, you’ll need to have an advanced knowledge of HTML (or work with a developer who does). This guide offers a solid overview of coding a basic HTML email. Because the process of creating an HTML email from scratch can be quite involved, we recommend working with a developer or using a pre-made HTML email template.
Developing an HTML email specifically for HubSpot?
Now that you understand the basics of what goes into developing an HTML email, let’s go over a few important best practices you should keep in mind. No matter what method you plan to use to create HTML emails, these best practices will help improve the design, user experience, and deliverability of your emails.
1. Make sure your HTML email is responsive for different screen sizes and devices.
As Chad S. White explains, the way your email looks in a user’s inbox is complex and depends on a wide variety of different factors — which can make coding an email an even more difficult and involved ordeal than coding a web page.
“A print campaign has one rendering. Website rendering is significantly more complex, since sites can look different depending on the device’s operating system, browser, and screen size. But even that is no match for the complexity of email rendering.” – Chad S. White, Why is email rendering so complex?
One of the biggest and most obvious factors that can impact the way an email loads within an email client is the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on. An email that looks amazing and well-formatted on a desktop can easily devolve into a tangle of illegible, overlapping text and images when viewed on a smartphone screen.
To ensure your HTML emails look the way you intended across a wide spectrum of screen sizes, the best thing you can do is keep your layout simple and straightforward. When you start adding more complex elements like multiple columns and floated images, it becomes more difficult to translate the format of your email for different screen sizes.
If you do decide to develop a more complex layout, make sure you’re actively solving for how the elements will be rearranged to suit different screen sizes. For example, if your email displays as multi-column on desktop, that same structure won’t fly on mobile — you’ll need to use media queries to define how elements will be displayed on different screen sizes.
Remember, developing truly responsive HTML emails goes beyond the structure and format of your message. Think about how the overall user experience of your email will be perceived on different devices. Make sure your font choices are just as legible on mobile as they are on desktop, and use mobile-friendly buttons or CTAs in place of hyperlinked text (have you ever tried to tap a little line of hyperlinked text on mobile? It’s not very easy).
2. Make sure your styling works in different email clients.
Another big factor that heavily impacts the way your HTML emails appear in your subscribers’ inboxes is the email client they’re using to open the message. Every email client loads emails slightly differently, so an email that looks a certain way in Gmail will likely look different in Outlook.
Luckily, if you know how most popular email clients load particular HTML and CSS elements, you can create a pretty consistent experience across different users’ inboxes. It’s all about knowing which unsupported tags to avoid and adapting accordingly. This comprehensive guide explains how 11 of the most popular email clients (including Gmail and multiple versions of Outlook) support and render different styling elements.
3. Be conscious of how long your HTML emails take to load.
How long your email takes to load could very well be the difference between gaining a new customer and losing a frustrated subscriber. While it can be tempting to take advantage of all the different styling options and opportunities to incorporate visuals that HTML emails offer, at the end of the day, none of that matters if your email takes too long to load.
As you design your HTML email, remain conscious of how long your email will take to load — especially if someone is say, opening your message on their morning subway commute with a weak data connection. Here are a few little steps you can take that will go a long way towards improving load time.
– Use images sparingly to bolster the message you want to get across to subscribers, and always use an image compressor (like Compressor.io or Toolur) to reduce the file size as much as possible. Most image compressors can significantly reduce the file size of an image without compromising on quality, so taking this extra step won’t hurt the visual integrity of your email.
– Use standard web fonts. Custom fonts are great for spicing up a landing page, but they can add an extraneous layer of complexity when added to an email. As we talked about above, all email clients handle style elements differently, and this especially extends to fonts. To be safe, use standard web fonts and check to make sure the email client most of your subscribers use supports a particular fonts.
– Try an HTML minifier. An HTML minifier (like minifycode.com and smallseotools.com) automatically removes code that isn’t needed in an HTML file. Repetitive, extra elements will be stripped out, but the actual rendering of your email should remain the same (always test it out!). Each character in your code impacts how long an email takes to load, so taking the time to remove extra characters can have a positive effect on load time.
– Keep your message focused on a single objective. The best way to reduce email load time is to reduce how much content you add to each of your email sends. It might seem obvious, but too many marketers try to stuff too much content into their emails. Not only does that lead to an off putting user experience (nobody wants to read a novel in email form), but it can send your load time off the charts and cause users to abandon your email. Keep it simple, and your users will thank you.
4. Plan (as much as you can) for user-end inconsistencies.
Screen size and email client aren’t the only factors that can alter the way your HTML email renders in your subscribers’ inboxes (no — that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?). Elements like the version of their email client, their operating system, their unique user-side settings, their security software, and whether or not they’re automatically loading images can all impact how your email loads.
As you can probably guess by that hefty list of factors, trying to solve for all of them (every single time you send an email) would probably be enough to make you throw your computer across the room. But you don’t have to be completely helpless in the face of these variables — you just have to do a little pre-planning.
– Consider creating a web page version of your email. This is kind of like giving your email a fail-safe button. If for some reason — due to one of the many factors discussed above — your lovingly designed email renders like an absolute mess when a subscriber opens it, they will at least have the option to click “view as web page” and see the email as you intended it to be. Since style elements render much more consistently across web browsers vs. email clients, you’ll be able to have way more control over the web page version of your message. In HubSpot, there’s an option you can turn on that will generate a web page version automatically.
– You should also add a plain text version of your email. A plain text version is exactly what it sounds like — an alternative version of your HTML email that renders in completely plain text. Adding a plain text version of your HTML email is important because some email clients and user settings can’t (or choose not to) load HTML. If this is the case, the client will look for a plain text alternative version of your HTML email to load for the user. If one doesn’t exist, it could signal to the recipient’s email server that your message is spam — or potentially dangerous.
Most email tools like HubSpot will automatically provide a plain text version that displays if a recipient’s email server requires it, but if you’re coding an HTML email from scratch, you’ll need to create something called a multipart MIME message.
A multipart MIME message is a an email that contains both a plain text and HTML version of the same email. If a recipient’s email client or security system doesn’t allow HTML email, the plain text version will be displayed. This is a process that requires an advanced knowledge of coding, so we recommend working with a developer.
– Make sure your email still makes sense if the images — for whatever reason — don’t load. Some users have automatic image-loading turned off, which means they’ll see your email without images when they open it. For this reason, don’t rely entirely on images to get the meaning of your message across, and always add alt-text to the images you do include. Alt-text will load even when images don’t, so your subscribers can get the general idea of what the visuals include.
5. Conduct thorough testing.
Finally, you’ll need to test your HTML email at every stage of development to ensure it works across different email clients, operating systems, and device types. Don’t wait until the very end of the process to test out your email — testing as you work is the best way to spot inconsistencies between different email clients and ensure you’re creating the most consistent experience possible for your recipients.
Some email tools (like HubSpot) offer in-app testing within their email builders to make the process easier. If you’re working from scratch, you can use a tool like HTML Email Check or PreviewMyEmail to get a better idea of how your email will look in different email clients and devices.
Free HTML Email Templates
There are an overwhelming amount of HTML email templates available on the web, and they vary in quality, responsiveness, and price. We’ve pulled together a selection of free HTML email templates that provide a responsive user experience. Be sure to read the terms and conditions on each individual template before use.
1. Free Material Design HTML Email Template
This modern template from designer Paul Goddard is sophisticated and minimal. The bright, engaging color palette and simple design make it a versatile option for many different industries and purposes, and it’s been tested on 33 popular email clients and devices to ensure a consistent user experience across different platforms.
2. Free HTML Newsletter Template
This clean, muted template from Mailto is a great way to display content your team has created and connect subscribers with your most recent products or blog posts. The design features two fully responsive columns with multiple color scheme options, and room at the top to highlight your company’s logo.
3. MINImalist Free HTML Email Template
Proof that sometimes less really is more, this easy, fully responsive design makes the most of whitespace and keeps the focus firmly on your words and visual elements. Without design distractions, your content can really shine — on any device.
4. ZURB Responsive Free HTML Email Templates
If you’re looking for an HTML email template with more room for customization, ZURB’s responsive email templates are a great place to start. With these basic HTML templates as a starting place, you can be confident that the templates you design will be fully responsive on any device.
5. Free Responsive HTML Email Templates from Dyspatch
These are an ideal option if you want a more styled, polished starting place, but you still want to be able to customize the design to fit your company’s needs. Each template is available in multiple formats for different marketing purposes, like transactional emails, NPS collection, and email subscriber re-engagement.
Like many companies, you might not have the in-house resources to create a clip or much time to waste on learning video editing software yourself.
If you don’t have a ton of experience in video production, it may seem like your only options are to pay a lot of money for someone else to do it, or hack together a bad video on your own.
Good news: there’s a third option. Even with limited resources, companies launch with great video campaigns all the time.
To help you build solid, but affordable, content, here are six tips to create a great video.
1. Craft a production plan.
When you enter video production, it’s good to plan as much as possible before you start rolling. This will make the production and editing process flow much more smoothly.
How to do it
Identify your goals and mission for making a video, and then make a plan that aligns with them. Create a script or a storyboard that explains what you will show in your video and what major points you’d like to get across to your audience.
Share this with team members involved in the video so every gets to give feedback and contribute. This will also help your team stay on the same page and track your progress if you’re on a deadline.
2. Showcase your personality.
Whatever it is you’re producing, you’re likely not the first one to do so. The number one marketing challenge you’ll face during launch is standing out from competitors in your field.
What sets your productivity app or hilarious slogan t-shirt or handcrafted eco-friendly wooden rocking horse apart from the pack?
Customers may not want to read your long written explanation about why your wooden rocking horse is more eco-friendly than the others. Visual content is much more digestible, accessible, and shareable to the average person.
Infinite bonus points if you can figure out a way to showcase the personality of your product (or your company, or just yourself) in a way that’s relatable and memorable.
Have you ever made a purchase just because you loved the personality of the brand? Chances are, it was a piece of visual content—perhaps a video—that you instantly connected with because it was just so likable.
Aim to create that kind of video content. If people decide they like you, they’ll show you by becoming customers.
How to do it
Be honest with yourself about your on-camera skills. Is your business partner more charismatic? Put him or her in front of the camera, instead.
Talking into a mic and speaking to an unseen audience may seem easy, but it often isn’t.
Do several takes, upload them all, and edit out awkward pauses. Practice trimming and splitting clips until your transitions look natural.
People love to learn about the personality of a brand by getting a glimpse behind the curtain.
If you’re making a physical product, some footage of the manufacturing process is an excellent way to make your product relatable.
Don’t be afraid to whip out your cell phone if you’re missing a moment, be it putting the final touches on a great-looking product or your lead developer falling asleep at his desk.
Example: Dollar Shave Club
3. Clearly explain your product or service.
Have you ever joked about being married to your work? Like a regular marriage, you’re incredibly familiar with your “spouse.” You know things about each other that no one else knows.
You know your product better than anyone else. That’s great, but you may make the mistake of assuming everyone else knows the ins and outs of your product, too.
Don’t jump right to marketing “Awesome Thing About My Product Number Five,” just because you assume Things one through four are obvious.
Look at your product as if you know nothing about what it is, what it does, or what kinds of problems it can solve. Tell yourself the story of your product as if you know nothing. Then, take that story and tell it to everyone else.
How to do it
If you’re marketing a digital product, it’s time to learn how to create a quality screen capture video. Demonstrate the typical use of your product, but don’t jump right into it—use screen capture to demonstrate a problem or pain point that your product solves.
If the viewer can identify with the problem you’re showing them on-screen, they’ll be much more engaged when you introduce your product. Use repetition, and don’t go too fast.
This is the first time they’re seeing your product in action, and you want to give the viewer the chance to experience the full effect of its genius.
If your product is physical, focus on showing them what your product does and how it can help. Think about demo videos or commercials you’ve seen for popular pieces of technology.
They don’t spend two or three minutes talking about battery life and storage capacity. They use that valuable video real estate to show the product in action, being used as the average consumer wants to use it.
Be helpful in your video, and err on the side of over-explaining. Use captions or video annotations (think Pop-Up Video) to explain anything that isn’t obvious, or use them to supplement your voice over narration.
4. Add both entertaining and informational value.
Believe it or not, not everyone will want to sit through your video, even if it is short. Why should they? There are millions of other videos on the Internet, and some of them even have cats in them.
Figure out what value your video is going to offer to your audience. Does it tell a great story? Does it explain how to solve a problem?
Does it give them an insider reward, like a discount code or a clickable link to a free trial? Or is it just three minutes of you ranting into the camera about why non-eco-friendly wooden rocking horses are the worst thing ever invented?
Add some value to your video, and watch it get shared beyond just your inner circle of friends and fellow rocking horse enthusiasts. Believe it or not, most people are altruistic—if they see a clear benefit to be gained from watching your video, they’ll want to share that benefit with their friends and connections.
How to do it
Think back to the last video you shared. Why did you share it? Chances are, if you’re like most people, you wanted to establish your authority on the topic. You wanted to be the first to present that piece of information to the people in your circle. It’s why most content is shared—for the social credibility.
You can give people the social credibility they want by creating smart, informative videos for them to share. If your product solves a problem, present the solution in a way that sounds revolutionary.
For example, if your product speeds up a task that your target customer must perform often, use picture-in-picture editing features to demonstrate how much quicker they can accomplish the task using your product.
It’s great to tell someone that they can save 30 seconds searching for the best rate on their next flight, but if you can show the typical process side-by-side with your innovation, you can actually make them sit through those 30 seconds. It will be excruciating. They will buy your app.
If you decide to go with a more tangible benefit such as a discount code or a free trial, make it easy for the viewer to get. Put a clickable link right in your video.
Don’t tell them to go to another website (or do anything else at all). They won’t do it, and you’ll lose that opportunity. Keep it simple if you want your videos to convert leads.
5. Tell a story that engages the customer.
Think back to high school English class, when you learned about the components of a story—there’s an introduction, conflict, climax, and resolution. If you leave out any of these crucial parts, you’re left with a collection of sentences that have been smashed together for no apparent reason.
Not only should you tell a coherent story (and this will require some pre-planning, writing, and editing), but you should make sure it goes somewhere. A nice, tidy ending is great, but building suspense is better. Are you going to produce another video to continue the story? If so, why should your viewers be excited to watch it?
How to do it
You thought this would be all visuals? You’re going to have to write. If you don’t plan your story, it won’t materialize out of the ether. Make a plan for your video content, and look beyond video number one.
Rather than one explainer video, is your product suited to a series of instructional videos? Can you help people create something with your product? Break that “something” into pieces, and create a series of short videos.
You can even record the entire series in one go, and use an easy editing tool to break the footage out into logical sections. Keeping your audience waiting for more (as long as it’s great content) is an excellent way to stay top-of-mind.
If you’re more of a storyteller, you can keep a video series looking cohesive (and cut down on your workload) by reusing clips.
Remind your viewers of the product benefits you explored last time, and build on the story you’ve already told. Just be sure to store your edited video somewhere safe—the cloud is your best bet—so you don’t have to repeat all your hard work each time you make a new video.
Even if your story doesn’t end at the end of the video, that chapter does. Make sure you leave your viewer with something concrete to do.
There should be a call-to-action at the end of every video, even if you set an expectation that another video will follow. You never know when a viewer will disengage from your content, so give them opportunities to become a customer or subscriber while you have their attention.
6. Title and promote the video.
You’ve created a great piece of video content that showcases your personality, explains what you’re doing, has a clear benefit, and tells a great story. What do you do next?
It’s time to promote the heck out of it. We don’t have to tell you why you want to do this step. We do, however, want to help you do it well.
How to do it
The best way to ensure people watch your video is to give it a great title.
After Google, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. You put a ton of research and consideration into your landing page titles—do the same for your video, or your clickthroughs will be dismal.
The same goes for your description and tags. Try using hashtags in your title to ensure you’re getting found with the right keywords. You’re also going to want to put some time into selecting the right thumbnail for your video.
This is all the potential viewer will see before they decide whether or not to hit the “play” button, so make that one image extra-compelling.
Export your video to more than one platform. Some people watch on YouTube, some might prefer to watch Facebook. Don’t limit yourself to one platform, or you’ll miss out on a huge number of potential viewers.
Regardless of the topic of your video or your amount of resources, be sure to follow these simple, but vital best practices when making a marketing video:
Clearly explain your service or product, as well as why it might be valuable to the customer. For example, if you sell a technology, you should use this video to explain what this technology does and why it might save a customer time and money. You could also use this video to show a demo of the product.
Be sure your video looks professional. Film in a properly lit environment with low background noise, if any. If you work in an open office, move your production into a quiet conference room or hallway. If the lighting is poor and it effects how the film subjects are seen on screen, try moving around lamps, or consider purchasing an affordable light at a home-goods or hardware store.
You don’t need to buy an expensive video camera, but try to use a lower-priced video camera, a digital camera that takes video, or a newer smartphone for a crisp image.
Hold your film device on a tripod or another surface to limit shakiness. Nothing ruins a great video like an unprofessional, unsteady image. Too much movement can also cause blurry visuals as a camera tries to auto-focus.
Use a video editing tool to put the video together so it looks clean and professional. When it comes to finding software, there are plenty of affordable options. Some computers, like Macs, already come with an easy-to-use program called IMovie. Once you settle on the technology you’ll use, check out this guide to editing Youtube videos.
Export your finished product in high-definition. Exporting to HD allows your viewers to see a crisp clean image, rather than a blurry one, on most devices. Here’s a quick guide to editing Youtube videos.
That’s it! With these tips in mind, you can market your business like a seasoned video producer. Go forth and convert!