60 Best Free Online Courses For Whatever You Want to Learn

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

That’s never been truer than it is today. With new technology emerging at breakneck speeds, there’s a palpable pressure to continuously upskill.

Whether you want that job promotion or to sidestep into a new field, you’ll need to commit to learning new skills.

However, learning new skills can be both time-consuming and challenging. In fact, according to Josh Kaufman, international bestselling author of The Personal MBA, it takes 20 hours to go from knowing nothing about a particular subject to being pretty good at it. Of course, if you want to become an expert — well, that takes even longer.

Blog posts and podcasts are great starting points for exploring a particular topic. But online business courses will provide you with the time and space you need to go deep and truly master a new skill. Plus, most courses are made up of on-demand videos and exercises that you can progress through at your own pace.

Below, we’ve gathered 60 of the best free online business courses. These cover the main business skills you’ll need to advance in today’s rapidly changing workplace — from digital marketing and coding to selling, leadership, and more. Keep reading to become an expert in whatever subject you feel can best help you succeed.

If you’d prefer, click on one of the following topics to jump straight to courses regarding that topic in particular:

Free Online Courses

Fundamental Marketing Courses

1. Inbound Marketing Certification by HubSpot Academy

Length: 4:12 Hours

From attracting leads to engaging prospects and delighting customers, this course covers the fundamentals of what inbound marketing is all about.

Example of HubSpot Academy

2. Marketing Fundamentals: Who Is Your Customer? by EdX

Length: 4-6 Hours / Week (4 Weeks)

Discover how to acquire the right customers and grow your business.

3. Build Your Web Presence by Google Garage

Length: 40 Minutes

Learn the basics of websites, local business listings, review sites, social media, mobile apps, and more.

4. Google Analytics for Beginners by Google

Length: 4-6 Hours

This course shows new Google Analytics users how to create an account, implement a tracking code, and set up data filters. You’ll learn how to navigate the Google Analytics interface and reports, and set up dashboards and shortcuts.

Content Marketing Courses

5. Content Marketing Certification by HubSpot Academy

Length: 6:20 Hours

Power your business with remarkable content. This course will teach you how storytelling, content creation, repurposing, and promotion come together to build a content marketing machine that grows your business, and your career.

6. Viral Marketing and How to Create Contagious Content by Coursera

Length: 4 Hours

Ever wondered why some things become popular, while other things don’t? This course explains how things catch on, and can help you apply those ideas to become a more effective marketer.

Example of marketing course syllabus

7. Business Blogging by HubSpot Academy

Length: 1:57 Hours

Business blogging is more than just writing and publishing content in the hopes you’ll attract customers. In this course, you’ll learn how to craft a blogging strategy that drives business growth, create quality blog content that customers love, and build a guest blogging strategy that’s powered by SEO.

8. Online Video Marketing Course by HubSpot Academy

Length: 2 Hours

This online video marketing training will teach you how to get started with online video marketing to better attract, engage, and delight your audience.

 

Social Media Marketing Courses

9. Social Media Course by HubSpot Academy

Length: 5 Hours

This course provides you with everything you need to build a social media strategy — including tools to help you attract new customers, build loyalty, and shape a positive conversation around your business. The course is free, but it’s $199 to take the exam.

10. Introduction to Social Media Strategy by Skillshare/Buffer

Length: 45 Minutes

Whether you’re looking to foster brand awareness, increase website traffic, or drive sales, this course can teach you how to craft a social media strategy to achieve your goals on Facebook and Twitter. From finding your voice to paid advertising, Brian Peters (Digital Marketing Strategist at Buffer) walks through his process for custom social strategies.

Note: Skillshare offers community members 14 days of Skillshare — you’ll need to sign up as a member to access the class for free.

Example of Buffer course

11. Facebook Blueprint by Facebook

Length: Various

This huge resource of free, self-paced social media classes will cover best-practices and top strategies used by some of the world’s largest brands.

12. YouTube Marketing by HubSpot Academy

Length: 1:20 Hours

HubSpot’s course in YouTube Marketing is an in-depth, expansive set of tools and lessons that offer successful strategies to grow a monetizeable, optimized YouTube channel. 

13. Video Storytelling for Social Media by Social Creators

Length: Self-Paced

This crash course is set up like a challenge. The goal? Help you make high-quality videos with your iPhone or Android device so you can start vlogging and share engaging videos on your social media accounts.

14. Developing an End-to-End Facebook Marketing Strategy by HubSpot Academy

Length: 1:18 Hours

Facebook is a huge platform, ripe with marketing opportunity…and can be confusing. Learn how to develop an effective marketing strategy using Facebook that covers all the bases. 

15. How to Build an Advanced Twitter Strategy by HubSpot Academy

Length: 2:04 Hours

You know Twitter beyond the basics, now it’s time to bump it up a notch. In this course from HubSpot Academy, you’ll learn the advancements in building and launching a successful Twitter marketing strategy. 

16. How to Create an Instagram Content Plan by Later

Length: Self-Paced

This video series is a great introduction to the Instagram world. You’ll learn how to gain more followers, build a community, and create content that drives true engagement.

17. Free Social Media Analytics Course for Beginners by Quintly

Length: 10-11 Hours

This class will cover the basic principles of social media analytics, and is helpful both for beginners and for marketers who want to refresh their knowledge. It aims to help anybody involved in social media analytics, whether you’re working for a brand, an agency, or the media.

18. Flight School — Video Ads on Twitter by Twitter

Length: Various

Whether you’re a traditional TV Buyer, a Digital Buyer, or a Social Strategist, these two courses will help you build the knowledge and skills you need to meet your clients’ video advertising goals. The courses have been designed to help you level up your expertise with video advertising on Twitter, so that you and your clients can succeed.

19. Developing an End-to-End Instagram Marketing Strategy For Your Business by HubSpot Academy

Length: 1:35 Hours

Social media advertising is one of the most powerful ways to connect with customers and drive marketing impact. This course takes you from the beginning to the end of planning an Instagram marketing strategy. 

 

Email Marketing Courses

20. Cold Email Masterclass by Mailshake

Length: Self-Paced

Whether you use cold email to connect with influencers, build your personal brand, find mentors, or grow your network, there’s no underestimating its power. Sujan Patel reveals eight lessons that will show you how to turn theory into practice, tapping into existing cold email best practices and deploying them in a way that’s both efficient and effective.

Cold Email Masterclass screenshot

21. Email Marketing Certification by HubSpot Academy

Length: 3:18 Hours

Email marketing is a necessity to learn. By completing HubSpot’s course, you’ll walk away with an expansive knowledge in all things email marketing, from templates to testing, as well as a certification to add to your resume.

SEM Courses

22. Paid Ads by Google

Length: Various

If you don’t know where to start with Google’s ad products, Academy for Ads may be for you. You’ll figure out where to get started in mini, bite‐sized lessons. Topics include programmatic ads, Google Ads, double-click and video ads.

Google Academy example

23. SEO Training Course: Building Sustainable Traffic for Business  by HubSpot Academy

Length: 1 Hour

Interested in building traffic, but unsure about a successful strategy? Our SEO crash course eliminates the pains of navigating a concrete SEO strategy and provides you with the tools to implement a winning one. 

 

Sales Courses

24. Inbound Sales Certification by HubSpot Academy

Length: 2:11 Hours

In this certification course you’ll learn how to grow your sales pipeline, close more leads, and grow your career.

Inbound Certification example

25. The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process Specialization by Coursera

Length: 6 Months

This course is designed to make you more effective and efficient as you pursue your sales goals. Understand how to stand out in the crowd, attract customers, and build support for initiatives within your company.

26. Sales Enablement Certification by HubSpot Academy

Length: 4:29 Hours

In this self-paced online course and exam, you’ll learn how to align marketing and sales for optimal efficiency. Bridge the gap between marketing and sales teams with strategies and tactics from over 25 world-renowned leaders.

27. Sales Manager Training by HubSpot Academy

Length: 2:59 Hours

Learn how to define your target market, create a scalable sales process, and build training, coaching, hiring, and on-boarding programs to help your sales team grow.

28. Sales Prospecting Advanced Techniques by SalesScripter

Length: 21 Modules

This program is designed to give you a strategy-backed process. It covers building a value proposition, asking the right questions, closing more effectively, and more. You’ll sell more, and even better — selling will become more fun.

29. The Art of Sales by Coursera

Length: 3 Hours / Week (4 Months)

Perhaps the most important art in sales is knowing how to get a “yes.” This course teaches this as well as methods to improve efficiency as a salesperson and earn buy-in for your initiatives.

30. Sales Courses by Class Central

Length: Various

Class Central offers over 50 sales courses and MOOCs from a variety of institutions and organizations. You’ll be able to hone your skills from prospecting to sales management.

 

Ecommerce Courses

31. Dropshipping 101 by Shopify Academy

Length: 1:33 Hours

Corey Ferreira shares his methods for finding a product to sell, testing its popularity, and building an unforgettable brand. Shopify Academy screenshot

32. Product Photography for Ecommerce by Shopify Academy

Length: 1:58 Hours

In this course, you’ll learn how to set-up your own home studio and take product photos with your smartphone or digital SLR.

33. Learn Ecommerce Marketing and Sell More Online by HubSpot Academy

Length: 34 Minutes

If you work for an ecommerce business and want to implement an inbound marketing strategy, this is a good course for you. In this 30 minute crash course, you’ll learn the basics about selling more online, and how that fits into an inbound strategy. 

34. Email marketing for Ecommerce by Skillshare

Length: ~26 Minutes

Learn how to use automation, optimization, and personalization to boost your business through email.

 

Coding & Developer Courses

35. Learn to Code by Codecademy

Length: Various

Online coding tutorials with easy-to-follow instructions, immediate feedback, and a tested curriculum that can help anyone learn how to code.

36. Intro to Computer Science by Udacity

Length: ~5 Weeks

Get to grips with key computer science concepts in this introductory Python course. You’ll learn by doing, and will build your own search engine and social network.

37. Intro to HTML and CSS by Udacity

Length: ~3 Weeks

In this course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of web development, along with best practices and professional problem-solving techniques using Developer Tools.

38. App Development for iPhone by Alison

Length: 10-15 Hours

This iPhone app development course will give you all you need — from how to use Objective C programming to creating multi-touch functionality. With clear video tutorials that are easy to follow, this course will get you up-to-date with the latest in iPhone app development trends.

39. Algorithms, Part I by Coursera

Length: ~53 Hours

This course by Princeton University covers the essential information that every serious programmer needs to know about algorithms and data structures, with emphasis on applications and scientific performance analysis of Java implementations.

40. Self-Driving Fundamentals: Featuring Apollo by Udacity

Length: ~4 Weeks

Through this course, you’ll be able to identify key parts of self-driving cars and get to know Apollo architecture. You’ll be able to utilize Apollo HD Map, localization, perception, prediction, planning and control, and start the learning path of building a self-driving car.

41. Machine Learning by Coursera

Length: ~60 Hours

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.

 

Personal & Professional Development Courses

42. Conquering the Fear of Public Speaking by Udemy

Length: 37 Minutes

Understand the fundamental techniques to get over the fear of public speaking.

Example of personal development course

43. Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects by Coursera

Length: ~15 Hours

This course gives you easy access to invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines.

Example syllabus of personal development course

44. Communication Skills – Persuasion and Motivation by Alison

Length: 1.5-3 Hours

This course will introduce you to the essential communication skills that aid persuasion, guide you through the differences between persuasion and manipulation, and show you how to use strong communication to motivate the people around you. These abilities will be a great boost for both your career and personal relationships.

45. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills by Coursera

Length: ~16 Hours

In the course created by the University of Michigan, you’ll learn about and practice four key steps to a successful negotiation.

46. The Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Managing People at Work by Coursera

Length: ~29 Hours

This course gives you a practical guide to managing people at work. It doesn’t matter whether you are a first time manager in a shop or a middle manager in an office environment — the same skills apply to every work place.

47. What Great Leaders Do by Alison

Length: 1.5-3 Hours

Professor Bob Sutton outlines the hallmarks of great leaders, why leaders need to hear the truth, and how to deal with team disagreements. You will learn the types of habits practiced by those who fail to lead, and gain a strong understanding of how to become a better group leader.

48. Introduction to Project Management by Udemy

Length: 1:37 Hours

This course offers essential project management tools and techniques.

49. Conflict Resolution Skills by Coursera

Length: ~4 Hours

Learn listening skills, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and how to assemble a conflict management plan likely to yield positive resolutions.

50. Career Success Specialization by Coursera

Length: ~1 Hour / Week (11 Months)

Build essential skills for the workplace. Improve your employability and advance in today’s dynamic workforce.

51. The Science of Happiness by EdX

Length: 4-5 Hours / Week (11 Weeks)

A free eight-week Science of Happiness course that will offer practical, research-backed tips on living a happy and meaningful life.

52. The Science of Wellbeing by Coursera

Length: ~19 Hours

The purpose of this course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy, but also to put those strategies into practice.

 

Design Courses

53. Graphic Design Essentials by HubSpot Academy

Length: 44 Minutes

Need to become a graphic designer? Have less than an hour? This course by HubSpot Academy offers basic concepts in graphic design that have proven to be excellent marketing strategies. 

54. Adobe Illustrator for Absolute Beginners by EduOnix

Length: 5 Hours

Learn how to master Adobe Illustrator with real world examples.

 

Business & Finance Courses

55. Free Online MBA by Smartly

Length: 5-15 Hours / Week (11 Months)

Designed with business professors from top residential MBA programs, Smartly’s proprietary curriculum combines a self-guided software approach with collaborative online case studies and group projects. It’s flexible, yet structured for the modern professional.

Smartly screenshot

56. Foundations of Business Strategy by Coursera

Length: ~9 Hours

Develop your ability to think strategically, analyze the competitive environment, and recommend firm positioning and value creation. In this course, you’ll explore the underlying theory and foundation of a successful business strategy, and gain the tools you need to understand that strategy.

57. How to Build a Startup by Udacity

Length: ~1 Month

In an introduction to the basics of the famous Customer Development Process, Steve Blank provides insight into the key steps needed to build a successful start-up.

58. Alison Free Diploma in E-Business by Alison

Length: 6-10 Hours

This course is designed to boost your understanding of what e-business involves and how to implement a successful e-business strategy, so that the website you manage truly delivers.

59. Stock Market Investing for Beginners by Udemy

Length: 1:29 Hours

Learn the basics of the stock market through comprehensive, interesting and fun lectures.

60. Corporate Finance by New York University by iTunes

Length: Self-Paced

Corporate Finance is a big picture class. It looks at the financial principles that govern how businesses raise funds, invest those funds in assets and projects, and return those funds to investors.

Learning is an investment that continues to pay

We hope you find the online business course you need to take the next step in your career — whether you’re looking for a promotion or a sidestep into an entirely new field.

Whatever your reason, learning new skills will give you a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing workplace. Plus, the more you invest in your learning, the better you’ll grow.

If you’re looking for one single place to learn how to take your career to the next level and/or grow your business, check out HubSpot Academy. It contains tons of free certified courses on everything from inbound and content marketing to social media and sales.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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7 Australian Companies with Great Taglines [+What Marketers Can Learn From Them]

It’s no secret that people who live in startup-filled cities have seen some of the wildest brand names.

And, that variety in company names makes sense. When many startups in similar industries are founded in one geographic area, brands need to come up with a name that grasps attention, lightly hints at their mission, differentiates them from competitors, or encourages prospects to learn more about them.

This is especially true in Australia, which hosts startups from Sydney to Melbourne. These cities are the founding place of uniquely named startups and major brands like Sukin, Canva, and Billabong.

While the successful companies listed above have made their names noteworthy and easy to recognize, their company titles only hint at what their brands offer. This is why successful brands like these also lean on taglines to give prospects a quick, clear view of a brand’s overall mission or purpose.

With a great name and an effective tagline, prospects will remember your brand’s uniqueness, mission, or what types of products you offer. Then, when they’re looking for a product in your industry or space, they might think of your brand’s name and catchy tagline.

If you’re working in a busy startup hub like Australia, or are starting a business in an already crowded business landscape, take note of these seven Australian companies with taglines that stand out and set them apart from the competition.

7 Australian Companies With Great Taglines

“More than Money” – National Australian Bank (NAB)

During a rebrand in 2016, National Australian Bank changed its tagline from “More give, less take” to “More than money.”

The new tagline came with a series of commercials led by NAB’s agency — Clemenger BBDO. Each ad highlighted the bank’s history, credibility, and how their financial institution still plays a positive role in impacting countless Australian lives.

In the ad below — which was part of the “More than money” campaign — NAB invokes nostalgia by showing home video-like clips that follow a new-born baby as she grows into an adult, as well as the milestones her parents will need to budget for, such as violin lessons, schooling, and travel:

In an interview with CMO, Andrew Knott, NAB’s Chief Marketing Officer, said the pivot aimed to be more customer-centric.

“We felt it was time to move on from what has been a very effective brand expression around fair value, and ‘more give, less take’, to something that’s far more reflective of what we stand for today, but that’s also consistent with our heritage,” Knott explained. “When we are at our best is when we take time to understand customers and understand where they are at in their lives and to help them with the financial aspects of doing so.”

By linking money to major life milestones, NAB’s tagline and campaign effectively place emotion behind logistical offerings. To prospects unsure of where to place their money, the tagline makes the financial institution seem more relatable and potentially more trustworthy than other banks with basic emotionless marketing.

“Life’s better in boardshorts.” – Billabong

When it comes to taglines, Billabong keeps there’s short and sweet. Knowing that most of its customers are looking for swimwear for surfing, beach vacations, or summer sports, Billabong created a tagline just to remind people how much fun they can have in bathing suits.

Throughout Billabong’s history, it has embraced this tagline in a number of its online and print campaigns. Beginning in 2017, the brand began producing a YouTube surf series with the same phrase as its title. Here’s one of its chapters:

Billabong’s tagline is a great example of how a bold statement in a tagline can persuade a prospect to buy a product to make their lives more enjoyable. But, depending on the prospect who hears it, the tagline could also either play up a sense of vacation-related FOMO or seasonal nostalgia.

For example, if someone lives in a cold climate and hears that life could be better in boardshorts, they might yearn to go surfing somewhere warm. Or, if someone has been working long hours, they might remember a time they spent on the beach as a child. The emotions or memories invoked by this tagline might not convince someone to buy a ticket to a beachy destination. But, if they do go on vacation, Billabong might be the first brand they remember when making beachwear purchases.

“Skincare that doesn’t cost the Earth” – Sukin

As a budget-minded, environmentally conscious shopper, I can attest to the fact that it’s hard to find environmentally-friendly products that meet your skin’s health needs and don’t cost a fortune.

Sukin, a Melbourne-founded skincare brand, aims to solve for the dilemma above, by selling affordable, sustainably produced skin products. It’s tagline cleverly reflects this mission with a play on words: “Skincare that doesn’t cost the Earth.”

sukin skincare that doesn't cost the earth tagline

Aside from cleverly explaining the brand in just one sentence, Sukin’s tagline also lines up well with its overall mission.

“Here at Sukin, we’re committed to providing skincare that doesn’t cost the earth. This isn’t merely a commitment to creating affordable products, but also with minimal cost to our precious environment. We achieve this by thinking and acting sustainably wherever possible.​ Keep reading for our environmental initiatives,” Sukin’s Brand Values page notes.

“Design anything. Publish anywhere.” – Canva

While Canva seems like a giant global company now, it was once a startup founded in Sydney, Australia.

For those who haven’t used Canva, the website allows individual users or teams to easily create and publish aesthetically-pleasing graphic designs for websites, social media, and other platforms.

Because Canva is artsy by nature, the brand could’ve gotten away with an overly creative tagline. But, instead, the company keeps things simple — but still incredibly effective — with, “Design anything. Publish anywhere.”

canva design anything publish anywhere tagline

In just four simple words, Canva describes its minimum viable product and entices both designers and artistic novices to try its tools.

“Australians Wouldn’t Give an XXXX for Anything Else.” – XXXX

Today, XXXX beer’s tagline simply reads “Pride of Queensland.” But, before the brand became globally known, they had another great tagline that caught attention from Australian masses due to the light curse-related controversy around it.

For decades, XXXX — formerly known as Castlemaine XXXX — embraced Australia’s edgy sense of humor and slang with the memorable tagline, “Australians Wouldn’t Give an XXXX for Anything Else.”

The tagline, which cleverly uses XXXX to insinuate a four-letter curse word, dates back to 1985. At that time, commercials would present a longer, TV-friendly tagline of “Australians Wouldn’t Give a Castlemaine XXXX for Anything Else.”

These early commercials often showed rural Australian residents, farmers, and construction workers getting into humorous, but dangerous, situations just to get XXXX beer. After a wild scene, a narrator would read the tagline, insinuating that Australians wouldn’t care so much about any other beer. Here’s one classic example:

Moving into the 1990s, the brand began using the shortened headline to express a more eye-popping message.

Although the tagline was scrapped in a 1996 rebrand, it’s still a historically great example of how a company can be cheeky, attention-grabbing, and memorable while still tastefully marketing a product.

“Tastes like Australia.” – Vegemite

For generations, many Australians and Australian visitors have spread on Vegemite on to bread and sandwiches for extra flavor.

Not only is Vegemite a common snack in Australia, but it’s also been featured in global content such as films or TV shows that discuss the continent. And, when people who aren’t from Australia see or taste Vegemite, they might ask, “What is this made of?”

Knowing that people link Australian to Vegemite, while also wondering what’s in the iconic snack, the brand launched, “Tastes like Australia.” — a new tagline and commercial in 2018.

The commercial, which explains the tagline, opens with a confused person wondering how Vegemite is made. A narrator with an Australian accent then presents videos of Australian scenes — such as sporting events, crocodiles, and destinations — along with photos of fruit-based ingredients. Ultimately, the ad insinuates that Vegemite is metaphorically made of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and iconic scenes of Australian pride.

“Find your thing.” – Redbubble

Redbubble is a store chain and online store where people, organizations, or small businesses can sell clothing, art, or other items that might be considered zany, humorous, or unique. When scrolling through the site, you might find T-Shirts with pizza cat memes on them, strangely decorated pottery or pants with sparkles or brightly colored patterns.

Because you can buy all sorts of unique or funny independently-made treasures on the site, Redbubble keeps its tagline broad — but still motivating.

With, “Find your thing,” Redbubble insinuates that there’s something for everyone on the site. It also embraces that everyone has an independent style and can look to this site for the clothing or items that will allow them to embrace their inner uniqueness.

Aside from including “Find Your Thing” in videos like the one below, Redbubble also includes a section with the same name on its website.

“Find your thing.” is a great example of how a company with many offerings can create a broad tagline that hints what their company is about without being too vague.

Crafting a Great Tagline

If you’ve been inspired to change or create your own tagline, here are a few themes you can take from the Australian examples above:

  • Keep it simple: You don’t need to be vague or overly clever to persuade someone to check out your brand. Sometimes, simply reiterating your MVP — as Canva does — is effective enough to win over an audience.
  • Be Bold: Is your company or product known by locals, award-winning, or potentially iconic. If so, you can try incorporating your company or product achievements into a bold phrase, like Vegemite’s “Tastes like Australia.”
  • Get clever: If you can’t cram your entire mission into a short concise phrase, consider using an easily recognized metaphor or play on words, like Sukin’s “Skincare that doesn’t cost the Earth.”

Want to learn more about brainstorming and crafting catchy taglines or slogans, check out this helpful guide or download the free resource below.

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B2C Marketing Automation and 5 Top Software Tools to Power It

Any B2C marketer can attest to the total relief that comes right after setting up successful email automation. To know that your customers will receive personalized emails without you having to manually write each and every one … whew, that’s powerful stuff.

Did you know that segmented (a.k.a. personalized) email campaigns can drive a 700+% increase in revenue? And that’s just email.

From text reminders to cart abandonment emails to multi-channel campaigns that span social media and in-app messaging, B2C marketing automation marries the power of personalized messaging and hands-off marketing. It simultaneously saves time (and money) while delighting your customers wherever they are.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation refers to any marketing efforts, campaigns, and tasks that are managed, executed, and measured with software versus manually. These efforts and campaigns are typically triggered by actions taken by leads or customers.

Marketing automation has many benefits. It can help save your resources, nurture your leads, and increase your revenue — all at once and with minimal manual effort. Amazing, right?

It’s important to note, however, that marketing automation shouldn’t replace human touch. This is especially true for B2C — unlike B2B, the B2C sales cycle is much shorter and the customer journey much more personalized.

What is B2C marketing automation?

B2C marketing automation encompasses any automated marketing messages and campaigns targeted to individual consumers versus business audiences. This type of marketing automation must be much more personalized and data-driven to best appeal to the individual in his or her specific customer journey.

Both B2C and B2C marketing automation work to send relevant messages, increase efficiency, and drive revenue, but let’s further unpack their differences.

B2B vs. B2C Marketing Automation

B2B marketing automation delivers more mass-oriented content that’s focused on educating and nurturing leads through a pre-established sales funnel. Since there are typically more stakeholders involved in B2B purchases, B2B marketing automation also works to provide action-triggered information that can help influencers educate their decision-makers.

Let’s say a junior social media strategist is searching for a new social media management software for their entire team. They download an ebook on social media strategy from a prominent SaaS company, thus prompting the company’s B2B marketing automation software to send them nurturing emails about building a social media strategy and how to use its tool to do so.

The junior strategist is now equipped to bring this information to his or her director, who will make the final decision about which social media SaaS tool to purchase.

b2c marketing automation

On the other hand, B2C marketing automation typically focuses on highly relevant and personalized marketing messages. B2C marketing automation also targets individuals wherever they are in their individual customer journeys and attempts to deliver customized product or service recommendations based on action triggers and captured data.

For example, one type of B2C marketing automation is cart abandonment email. By tracking shopper behavior and capturing personal information like email addresses, B2C companies set up a marketing automation “rule” to send an email to consumers who leave un-purchased products in their shopping carts.

Typically, abandoned cart emails include the specific products left behind — a dose of personalization that may motivate shoppers to return to the website and complete their individual purchase.

Benefits of B2C Marketing Automation

Marketing automation sure has its perks — for both marketers and their audiences. These marketing automation benefits include:

  • Keeping your brand top-of-mind with potential customers
  • Allowing your team to send personalized, targeted messages without having to manually track users and repeatedly write content
  • Increasing efficiency amongst your marketing team
  • Closing the gaps in your marketing analysis by removing human error
  • Tracking user data that can be used to better serve up personalized product or service suggestions
  • Delighting site visitors, leads, and customers with customized content

Now, let’s discuss some B2C marketing automation tools software tools that can help you reach, engage, and convert your shoppers and customers.

There are countless marketing automation tools on the market. According to our research, the following five are a great fit for B2C marketing automation.

However, when comparing what tool may meet your B2C marketing automation needs, consider 1) how complex each tool is and what onboarding resources are offered, 2) what integrations each tool offers and how they may fit into your current tech stack, and 3) how each tool is priced and how much your marketing automation needs may cost.

1. HubSpot Marketing Hub

b2c marketing automation software hubspot

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Built on the foundation of the free HubSpot CRM, HubSpot Marketing Hub holds a wealth of B2C marketing automation tools that allow you to use your lead’s behavior to personalize emails, content, and outreach at scale. From email to SMS, and even internal automations like lead scoring and CRM updates, HubSpot is easy to get accustomed to and can quickly become your team’s marketing automation best friend.

Onboarding support: HubSpot’s award-winning customer support is available 24/7 through email and chat, as well as over the phone for Professional and Enterprise subscribers. You can also access a knowledge base and various HubSpot Academy courses.

Integrations: HubSpot Marketing Hub integrates with over 500 third-party applications.

Pricing: HubSpot Marketing Hub offers a Free plan as well as multiple subscription options. Note that the marketing automation features are only available for paid subscribers.

2. Mailchimp

b2c marketing automation software mailchimp

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Mailchimp is an industry leader in email marketing automation. Use the Mailchimp tool to deliver transactional emails, such as order confirmation emails and other personalized messages. The tool also allows you to build visual customer journeys so you can provide the best possible experience to each customer — or convert your leads and prospects into one.

Onboarding support: Mailchimp has a large library of resources, including guides, tutorials, and case studies. Free users get 30 days of email support, and paid subscribers get unlimited email and chat support.

Integrations: Mailchimp integrates with over 200 third-party applications.

Pricing: Mailchimp offers a Free subscription, but the more in-depth marketing automation tools aren’t available unless you invest in the Essentials subscription or higher.

3. ActiveCampaign

b2c marketing automation software activecampaign

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ActiveCampaign is a renowned marketing automation software and was the first to develop the visual automation workflow builder. (You know, the one with the boxes and labels and lines going everywhere — like the one above.) In addition to email, it offers site tracking, lead scoring, attribution, and more.

Onboarding support: ActiveCampaign offers a free demo and a whole slew of resources, such as a blog, developer documentation, and a library of pre-written automations. All subscriptions include data migration and implementation services, and more expensive subscriptions include limited one-on-one training.

Integrations: ActiveCampaign integrates with over 300 third-party applications.

Pricing: ActiveCampaign offers a free trial. From there, you can pay for a Lite subscription at $9 per month or more.

4. AutoPilot

b2c marketing automation software autopilot

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AutoPilot, like others on this list, offers a visual automation workflow builder … but with a twist. It sets itself apart with emojis, stickers, custom notes, and other details that help your team collaborate and, well, have fun building your marketing automation sequences. Although the tool doesn’t offer its own built-in CRM, it is fairly intuitive, easy to use, and offers fantastic reporting features.

Onboarding support: All AutoPilot subscriptions include unlimited emails and access to support. You can purchase an Expert Setup and Training add-on for $1699.

Integrations: AutoPilot integrates with dozens of third-party applications.

Pricing: AutoPilot offers a free trial, after which you can join at as little as $49 per month.

5. Omnisend

b2c marketing automation software omnisend

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Omnisend is a leading marketing automation tool specifically tailored for e-commerce businesses. Not only does it offer dozens of pre-written templates for all e-com automation scenarios, but it also integrates with nearly every possible e-commerce-related tool, including both email and SMS automation software.

Onboarding support: Omnisend offers a library of resources, including an onboarding course. Unfortunately, live support is only offered to paying subscribers.

Integrations: Omnisend integrates with hundreds of third-party applications, although most aren’t available with the Free plan.

Pricing: Omnisend does offer a Free subscription option, although most automation features aren’t available unless you’re paying.

These five tools are among the most powerful for B2C marketing automation efforts. Whether you’re sending time-triggered birthday emails or following up with prospective customers with automated SMS messages, try these B2C marketing automation software tools to reach, engage, and convert your customers.

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20 Stats About Australian Instagram Users & Trends

In July, nearly 41% of Australia’s population was on Instagram.

And, with Australia being one of the biggest internet and social media growth regions, its Instagram audiences are likely to keep getting bigger.

Yes. No matter what country you’re marketing in, Instagram’s platform is primed for brand awareness. You might think with growth stats like this, Australian brands are rushing to Instagram.But that’s not the case — many Australian businesses are actually missing out on the opportunities Instagram offers. In fact, recent research reveals that only 32% of Australian SMBs use it in their social media strategy.

Although Instagram sounds promising, SMBs with limited time, budget, or bandwidth might be hesitant to add any new social platform.

Why? Even though an Instagram account can majorly boost local and global brand awareness, building a scalable strategy for it can seem intimidating and time-consuming for smaller brands.

Luckily, Australian businesses don’t just have to launch an Instagram account and hope it works. In 2020, there’s plenty of data that can help these brands determine if the platform is appropriate for their goals, and how to engage Australian audiences once they’ve made a Business page.

If you’re an Australian social media marketer looking to improve your Instagram strategy or are working to boost a brand’s Australian presence from afar, here are 20 stats to know about Australian Instagram usage, marketing, and peak engagement times.

Australian Instagram Usage Stats to Know

Australian Instagram Users

  • There were 10.45 million Instagram users in Australia in July 2020: roughly 40.8% of its entire population. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • Australian Instagram users grew from just over 9 million to 10.45 million between May 2019 and July 2020. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • 46% of Australian social media users say they regularly use Instagram, making it the second most popular channel in the region. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2018)

Instagram is the third most commonly used app in Australia

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  • Most Australian Instagram users are women, with the highest ratio of women to men being in the 45-to-54 age group. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • More than 3.2 million Australian Instagram users are 25 to 34, making them the largest user group. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • Roughly 9.1 million Instagram users are listed as over 18. (Laurel Papworth, 2020)
  • 48% of Australian Instagram users follow a brand on the platform. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2020)
  • Instagram is the third-most-used non-gaming mobile app in Australia. (We Are Social, 2019)

Instagram User Behavior in Australia

  • More than 51% of Australian Instagram users log on to the app at least three to five times a week. (Statista, 2018)

Most Australian Instagram users log on to the app at least once daily.

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  • Three regularly-trending Instagram hashtags in Australia are #photography, #Australia, and #Sydney, which have 450 million, 55 million, and 28 million posts associated with them, respectively. (Talkwalker, 2019)
  • 45% of Australian social media users have taken a selfie for platforms such as Instagram. Selfies posts are more common among men and 18 to 29-year-olds. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2018)
  • Roughly 40% of Australian social media users have posted a picture of food on channels such as Instagram. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2018)

Australian Business on Instagram

  • 22% of Australian SMBs have advertised on Instagram (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2020)
  • 32% of Australian SMBs have an Instagram account, compared to 90% and 33% respectively on Facebook and LinkedIn. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2020)
  • Instagram influencers whose accounts were about yoga experienced 127% growth in overall Australian engagement in March 2020. (Statista, 2020)
  • Also in March 2020, hotel-related Instagram accounts experienced a 100% decrease in Australian engagement. (Statista, 2020)

Peak Engagement Times in Australian

  • When using Instagram in any global region, the best time to post to get local post engagements is 2 PM and 3 PM in your brand’s timezone. (HubSpot, 2020)
  • The best day to post on Instagram in Australia is Thursday in the AEDT timezone. (ShareMyInsights, 2020)
  • Weekday posts on Instagram get more impressions from Australians than weekend posts. (ShareMyInsights, 2020)
  • When aiming for global post engagement, the best times to post on Instagram from Australia are 12 AM to 2 AM, 6 AM to 8 AM, and 9 PM to 10 PM AEDT. (ShareMyInsights, 2020)

Growing Australian Brand Awareness with Instagram

From looking at the data above, it’s clear that Australian businesses can benefit from Instagram, which has a huge pool of users that will follow, engage with, and potentially purchase products from all sorts of brands on the platform.

But, simply creating an Instagram account and forgetting about it won’t boost your brand awareness. To truly gain audience engagement, you’ll want to create an active account with content that entertains users, grabs their attention, and educates them about your brand and your products.

If this list has inspired you to get ahead of the one-third of Australian SMBs missing out on Instagram, check out this guide or the free resource below for proven tips on building an effective Instagram strategy.

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How to Promote Your Business on Facebook

I was only 12 years old when Facebook became available for anyone with a valid email address.

By the time I was 14, one of the top trends was to create a fan page that anyone could follow. I remember that feature being used by friends as a way to tell jokes and post funny content.

But things are a bit more sophisticated in the world of social media nowadays.

Now, Facebook is a great place to advertise your business and interact with prospective and current customers.

Below, let’s discuss how you can use Facebook to promote your business.

1. Sign up for a business page.

The first thing you need to do is create a business page. This is a simple process. All you have to do is log on to Facebook, click “Pages” in the left sidebar, and then “Create New Page.”

To get started, you’ll upload a profile picture, a cover photo, and basic information about your business. This will include what type of business you run whether you run a B2B business, a local business, or an ecommerce site.

Once you sign up, it’s smart to start optimizing your page.

2. Optimize your profile.

Now that your profile is up and running, you’ll want to optimize your page. This means writing your About section, adding business information like your website and business hours, and including a call to action button such as “Book Now,” “Shop Now,” or “Sign Up.”

Additionally, you’ll want to draft several posts that will engage your audience. Think about what type of posts they might like on social media. How are they interacting with your competitors? What posts perform well for your competition? This is the type of content you’ll want to model yours after.

Now that you’ve built and optimized your business page, it’s time to engage with your community.

3. Be active in Facebook groups.

A great way to promote your business on Facebook is to participate in Facebook groups. You can engage with public groups or join private Facebook groups.

To get started with this, you’ll want to consider what type of groups your audience would be a part of. Once you’ve finished brainstorming, you can join the same communities that your audience is active in.

4. Create your own Facebook group.

While it’s important to engage with your audience where they’re at, it’s also important to attract your audience to your own pages. You can do this with your own Facebook group.

Krystal Wu, a social media community manager at HubSpot, says, “Facebook Groups allow our audience to connect with each other and have valuable discussions. Businesses who center a Group around their brand or industry can build a community around it — making our brand and products even more valuable to potential customers.”

5. Promote events.

Another way to promote your business on Facebook is to use the social media platform to promote your events. If you’re a local business, this is especially important.

Attracting people to an event can feel like an undertaking, and you need to use all the tools at your disposal to promote it. That’s why you should post your event on Facebook and also plan an ad campaign.

6. Interact with your followers.

This might seem like social media 101, but it’s important to interact with your followers. The best way to get engagement on social media is to make sure your posts show up for your followers. To do that, you need to create interaction. Make sure you answer questions, respond to comments, and participate in your online community.

7. Use live streaming.

Facebook live is an excellent tool to promote your business and provide valuable content to your audience. You can use this feature to showcase your company culture, host a panel discussion on industry topics, or even display your industry expertise.

Additionally, you can host events virtually on Facebook live as a way to interact with your audience that can’t be at an event in person. This is a great way to promote your business because going live will notify your followers and prompt them to engage with your page.

8. Run Facebook ads.

One of the best ways to promote your business with Facebook is to use Facebook ads. The social media giant has created one of the most popular ways to reach your audience with its advanced targeting options.

To get started with ads, you can review this lesson from Facebook directly. Make sure that you review the types of Facebook ads and various bidding strategies to help you succeed.

9. Talk about your company culture.

When you post on social media, your content should promote your overall brand messaging. A great way to do this is to talk about your company culture. Showcase your employees and their day-to-day tasks.

You can also use Facebook as a recruitment tool, hosting panels on what it’s like to work at your company, or posting jobs right on your business page.

10. Manage contests and giveaways.

Encouraging engagement is one of the main objectives of Facebook promotion. To do this, you can host contests and giveaways that your audience will want to participate in. This will help increase brand awareness and encourage interaction from your followers.

11. Have a customer service representative field comments and requests from customers.

Social media is a great way for your customers to get in touch with you. However, if they choose to reach out to you on Facebook, you need to be prepared to answer their questions and address their requests. To do this, consider having a few people from your customer service team answer messages or comments from your customers.

12. Post valuable content.

Ultimately, the best way to promote your business on Facebook is to provide valuable content for your audience. Content is what attracts people to your social media profile and is the way you’ll build an audience online. You’ll want to include different types of content including images, videos, text, Stories, or even polls.

Facebook is an essential part of your social media marketing. No matter what type of business you’re running, it’s important to develop both organic and paid social media strategies to promote your business on Facebook.

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6 Reasons You Really Need to Write A Business Plan

Starting a business can be a daunting task, especially if you’re starting from square one.

It’s easy to feel stuck in the whirlwind of things you’ll need to do, like registering your company, building a team, advertising, the list goes on. Not to mention, a business idea with no foundation can make the process seem incredibly intimidating.

Thankfully, business plans are an antidote for the new business woes that many entrepreneurs feel. Some may shy away from the idea, as they are lengthy documents that require a significant amount of attention and care.

However, there’s a reason why those who take the time to write out a business plan are 16% more likely to be successful than those who don’t. In other words, business plans work.

What is a business plan, and why does it matter?

In brief, a business plan is a roadmap to success. It’s a blueprint for entrepreneurs to follow that helps them outline, understand, and cohesively achieve their goals.

Writing a business plan involves defining critical aspects of your business, like brand messaging, conducting market research, and creating pricing strategies — all before starting the company.

A business plan can also increase your confidence. You’ll get a holistic view of your idea and understand whether it’s worth pursuing.

So, why not take the time to create a blueprint that will make your job easier? Let’s take a look at six reasons why you should write a business plan before doing anything else.

1. Legitimize your business idea.

Pursuing business ideas that stem from passions you’ve had for years can be exciting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sound venture.

One of the first things a business plan requires you to do is research your target market. You’ll gain a nuanced understanding of industry trends and what your competitors have done, or not, to succeed. You may find that the idea you have when you start is not likely to be successful.

That may feel disheartening, but you can always modify your original idea to better fit market needs. The more you understand about the industry, your future competitors, and your prospective customers, the greater the likelihood of success. If you identify issues early on, you can develop strategies to deal with them rather than troubleshooting as they happen.

It’s better to know sooner rather than later if your business will be successful before investing time and money.

2. Give your business a foundation for success.

Let’s say you’re looking to start a clean beauty company. There are thousands of directions you can go in, so just saying, “I’m starting a clean beauty company!” isn’t enough.

You need to know what specific products you want to make, and why you’re deciding to create them. The Pricing and Product Line style=”color: #33475b;”> section of a business plan requires you to identify these elements, making it easier to plan for other components of your business strategy.

You’ll also use your initial market research to outline financial projections, goals, objectives, and operational needs. Identifying these factors ahead of time creates a strong foundation, as you’ll be making critical business decisions early on.

You can refer back to the goals you’ve set within your business plan to track your progress over time and prioritize areas that need extra attention.

All in all, every section of your business plan requires you to go in-depth into your future business strategy before even acting on any of those plans. Having a plan at the ready gives your business a solid foundation for growth.

When you start your company, and your product reaches the market, you’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time focusing on your target audiences and generating revenue.

3. Obtain funding and investments.

Every new business needs capital to get off the ground. Although it would be nice, banks won’t finance loans just because you request one. They want to know what the money is for, where it’s going, and if you’ll eventually be able to pay it back.

If you want investors to be part of your financing plan, they’ll have questions about your business’ pricing strategies and revenue models. Investors can also back out if they feel like their money isn’t put to fair use. They’ll want something to refer back to track your progress over time and understand if you’re meeting the goals you told them you’d meet. They want to know if their investment was worthwhile.

The Financial Considerations section of a business plan will prompt you to estimate costs ahead of time and establish revenue objectives before applying for loans or speaking to investors.

You’ll secure and finalize your strategy in advance to avoid showing up unprepared for meetings with potential investors.

4. Hire the right people.

After you’ve completed your business plan and you have a clear view of your strategies, goals, and financial needs, there may be milestones you need to meet that require skills you don’t yet have. You may need to hire new people to fill in the gaps.

Having a strategic plan to share with prospective partners and employees can prove that they aren’t signing on to a sinking ship.

If your plans are summarized and feasible, they’ll understand why you want them on your team, and why they should agree to work with you.

5. Communicate your needs.

If you don’t understand how your business will run, it’ll be hard to communicate your business’s legitimacy to all involved parties.

Your plan will give you a well-rounded view of how your business will work, and make it easier for you to communicate this to others.

You may have already secured financing from banks and made deals with investors, but a business’ needs are always changing. While your business grows, you’ll likely need more financial support, more partners, or just expand your services and product offers. Using your business plan as a measure of how you’ve met your goals can make it easier to bring people onto your team at all stages of the process.

6. It makes it easier to sell your business.

A buyer won’t want to purchase a business that will run into the ground after signing the papers. They want a successful, established company.

A business plan that details milestones you can prove you’ve already met can be used to show prospective buyers how you’ve generated success within your market. You can use your accomplishments to negotiate higher price points aligned with your business’ value.

A Business Plan Is Essential

Ultimately, having a business plan can increase your confidence in your new venture. You’ll understand what your business needs to succeed, and outline the tactics you’ll use to achieve those goals.

Some people have a lifetime goal of turning their passions into successful business ventures, and a well-crafted business plan can make those dreams come true.

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12 WordPress Live Chat Plugins to Connect With Users

Let’s be honest. No one wants to send a support email only to receive a (possibly automated) response 48-hours later. Similarly, no one wants to be put on hold for 30+ minutes while being told they’re the next caller in line.

We live in a world of instant gratification. Your customers are busy and they want to speak to you on their terms and get the help they need on their time.

Live chat allows for you to provide immediate, personalized, and efficient support for your customers and prospects.

So, if you’re part of the 37% of internet users with a WordPress website and you need live chat functionality, this guide is here to help. We’ll cover 12 WordPress live chat plugins to engage visitors and offer effective and speedy support.

1. HubSpot WordPress Plugin

hubspot wordpress plugin with live chat

With HubSpot’s WordPress plugin, you get more than just live chat — you also get forms and pop-ups, CRM and contact management, email marketing, marketing automation, and reports and analytics. Plus HubSpot integrates with over 500 other tools.

In addition to the capabilities just mentioned, the plugin also allows you to add chatbots that function 24/7 to your site. This way, you can automate some of your support (e.g. use chatbots, rather than reps, to answer FAQs) and offer assistance to visitors when your team is offline (a.k.a. when reps are asleep). HubSpot’s WordPress plugin is simple to install and applies to all plans and products.

2. Tawk.To Live Chat

talk.to live chat plugin for wordpressSource

Tawk.To allows you to monitor live chat and engage users on your site in real-time for free. Interact with visitors from anywhere, whether on desktop or mobile. You can also use any of the free iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OSX apps to connect with customers.

The plugin has a single, multi-purpose dashboard through which reps can access multiple websites and work in tandem with other reps while answering live chat requests. All you need to do to get started with Tawk.To is create a free account.

3. Zendesk Chat

zendesk live chat plugin for wordpressSource

With Zendesk Chat, you can manage multiple live chat conversations through a single dashboard. The live chat widget is customizable and you can add mobile functionality so visitors are able to speak with reps via mobile device.

The plugin has triggers which allow you to automate actions when certain conditions are met by visitors who reach out via live chat — this way, you’re able to reach every visitor who wants support. You can add information about your customers, improve workflow routing, and handle spam requests too.

With the analytics dashboard, keep tabs on a visitor’s flow around your site and identifiable usage patterns to determine when a customer needs assistance.

4. Pure Chat

pure chat live chat wordpress pluginSource

With Pure Chat, your live chat widget is fully customizable. Receive full transcriptions from rep-to-customer conversations and create automatic triggers for actions visitors take to boost the efficiency of the support you provide.

Decide whether or not you want your widget to display an offline indicator when reps aren’t available — this signals to customers that they should email support instead or check back later. Lastly, there are analytics and visitor tracking on your site to help you better understand customer behaviors and needs.

5. Drift

drift live chat wordpress plugin

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Drift makes adding free live chat to your WordPress site simple. With the plugin, you can get real-time notifications (on Slack) so your team knows when a customer is reaching out. You can also set the expectation that your support team is not available 24/7 on live chat by adding an offline/away mode to your chat widget.

The Drift plugin will help you capture and save visitor email addresses once they start the live chat conversation. You can also set up browser targeting to identify and set rules related to a customer’s actions — this feature provides you with information necessary to reach out to a specific visitor and engage them in a personalized way.

6. Tidio Live Chat

tidio wordpress live chat plugin

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By adding the Tidio plugin to your WordPress site, you’ll get more than just live chat — you’ll also get access to other communication channels including chatbots, email marketing, and Messenger.

Email your visitors when they leave your website and/or live chat and send them campaign content with the plugin’s Email Automation feature. Also, customize the look of your widget so it’s complementary to your branding.

7. LiveChatlive chat wordpress live chat plugin

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LiveChat has proactive chat invitations so your team can have personalized messages automatically sent to visitors. Work as efficiently as possible by managing multiple chat sessions at the same time and using canned responses for FAQs. Reps can also send links to visitors via live chat — this way, they’re able to share knowledge base articles, directions, product information, and more.

LiveChat seamlessly integrates with services and apps — such as your HubSpot CRM — and you can select which pages of your site include live chat widgets. In fact, you can add a live chat widget to all pages of your website, including the checkout page, if you choose.

8. Live Chat (Messenger API) + PolyLang

live chat messenger API with polylang

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This plugin adds Facebook Messenger to your website and it’s integrated with PolyLang which is another WordPress plugin that helps create bi- or multi-lingual sites.

The chat widget is customizable — you can adjust its color, location, language, and more so it’s complementary to your branding. You can hide or delay the chat widget so it appears only when support is online or a few seconds after visitors land on your site.

9. Live Chat by Formilla

live chat by formilla wordpress plugin

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In addition to using this plugin for live chat, you can add AI-powered chatbots to your site to manage FAQs that don’t need human-to-human interaction. You can also create and share canned responses with site visitors to save reps time to focus on more complex customer challenges. Sign into your Live Chat account via app on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device to chat with visitors from anywhere.

There’s a language support feature so you can customize the text of your widget to accommodate a wide audience. The live chat widget is also responsive, meaning it’ll adjust in size based on whatever device your site visitors are viewing it from (desktop, mobile device, etc.).

10. WP-Live Chat by 3CX

wp-live chat live chat wordpress plugin

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With WP-Live Chat, customize your site’s live chat by adding animations, surveys, and polls to make the experience of getting support more engaging for visitors. Create a custom message that appears when reps are offline and store all messages that are received while reps are offline for your records.

Make the chat anonymous to allow for greater visitor privacy if necessary. Additionally, WP-Live chat is compatible with multiple translation plugins so you can effectively help customers who are from or located in different parts of the world.

11. JivoChat

jivochat live chat plugin for wordpress websites

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JivoChat doesn’t just offer live chat for your WordPress site — it also has communication capabilities for phone, email, and social media support so you can manage all conversations from a single tool.

If your business doesn’t offer 24/7 support, visitor inquiries that happen while reps are offline stay on-hold in an inbox. Those inquiries are paired with visitor contact information so your team can get in touch with them during work hours. Reps can also transfer chats to other team members — for instance, a rep can send a customer’s query to another rep who has greater expertise in that customer’s specific problem area than they do.

12. Crisp

crisp live chat plugin for wordpress websites

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With the Crisp plugin, you get inboxes for marketing, sales, and support. Use marketing live chat to get visitor contact information and tag specific conversations to create a qualified contact list for your team. Use sales live chat to answer questions that come in from prospects about your product or service. And use support live chat to help customers work through challenges and roadblocks that arise.

You can also share a live chat availability schedule on your site so visitors know the hours reps are online and ready to assist them.

Install a Live Chat Plugin

Live chat plugins have a wide variety of capabilities and helpful features to assist your team and make reps work more efficiently. This way, reps save valuable time that they can then put towards supporting customers with more complex issues. Get started by installing a plugin on your WordPress site to streamline the process of providing support to your visitors and customers.

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

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7 Steps to Use Trigger Marketing in Any Content Campaign

When you hear the phrase “marketing automation,” what do you think of first? A detailed diagram of emails sent to different segments, broken out by email engagement, drawing a line from lead to customer? This has become the norm, yet it is among the least effective automation paths you can set up as a marketer.

The inherent flaw in this strategy is that it starts with the marketer’s timeline rather than the prospect’s. The marketer sits down and defines what information the prospect will consume next, what actions the prospect will take next, and the path the prospect will take from becoming a lead to becoming a customer.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, we would admit that the world is not as straightforward as that. You might define the funnel stages as Lead to Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) to Opportunity to Customer, where leads download an ebook, then become an MQL when they start a trial, an SQL when the sales person follows up with that prospect, an opportunity when they do a trial review call, and customer when they purchase.

… But what if they start a trial and then download an ebook? Or what if they get into a sales conversation after just downloading an ebook, never become a customer, and then go cold until they start a trial months later? The reality is that you can’t control what your prospect does or in what order your prospect does it. What you can control, however, is how you react to your prospect’s behaviors. And this is where automation and trigger marketing becomes powerful.

The “triggering” event can be anything measurable by your CRM and automation software. Here are just a few examples:

  • Form conversions
  • Email opens (or lack thereof)
  • Number of pages viewed
  • Chatbot interactions
  • Meeting certain descriptive criteria

As a result of the triggering event, you can automate tasks/actions with your marketing automation software. Here are some examples: 

  • Send them an email (or sequence of emails)
  • Update their CRM record
  • Add them to a list
  • Assign them to a sales rep
  • Send an internal notification about them

1. Understand your buyer persona.

Know your buyer persona: It should go without saying in the context of any marketing activity, but in marketing automation, it’s doubly important.

If you think through the lifecycle stages, pains, and motivations of your target audience(s), you can craft better trigger marketing strategies to guide them along their path to purchase.

The goal of marketing automation is to provide a great experience at scale, and part of that means meeting them where they are. When 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences, it just makes sense.

2. Think in terms of ‘ifs’ and ‘thens.’

Software is simple. It sees in black and white rather than the complex outcome that you’re moving toward. However, you can reverse engineer a great trigger marketing strategy using automation by thinking through your outcome and the path to get there as a series of if/then statements:

  • If x happens, then do y.
  • If the prospect fills out this form, then send them this email.
  • If the prospect has visited the pricing page, then notify a rep.

The “if” is the criteria. The “then” is the action you want to take.

3. Figure out your triggering events.

In order to get your messaging to the right people at the right time, you must identify the “trigger” (in HubSpot, it’s called “enrollment criteria“). This is the “if” part of the equation, the concrete indicator that the software can use as a green light to execute the actions.

Triggering events are only limited by the information you have in your system and your marketing automation’s capabilities. Common ones include:

  • Actions taken on the website
  • Criteria met in the database
  • Responses to past emails or campaigns

4. Determine the actions you want your system to perform.

Once you know your “trigger” or enrollment/starting criteria, then you can decide what happens next. This is the “then” part of the equation. Common actions include:

  • Sending an email
  • Enrolling in a sequence
  • Categorizing the contact in the database

5. Craft personalized messaging.

Remember that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase after a personalized experience? If your action (“then” statement) includes a marketing task such as email sends or campaign enrollment, it’s critical to know exactly how this contact is different from others in your CRM and what messaging will uniquely appeal to them. Ask yourself:

  1. Where are they at in their journey?
  2. How can I provide value and move them to the next step?

6. Identify and eliminate repetitive marketing tasks.

If you’re still not sure where to begin with marketing automation, start by creating a list of your most repetitive tasks. For example, if you send the same email over and over again to multiple contacts, using automation to eliminate this task from your day will increase productivity and, as a result, performance. This will help you focus on higher impact tasks that can’t be automated.

7. Increase the value of your CRM.

As mentioned previously, your only limits are the capabilities of the software you’re using and the quality of your data. If you have messy data, marketing automation may hurt you. If you have incomplete data, you won’t be able to do the advanced personalization and segmentation that will make a world of difference.

With that in mind, you will have to understand how to make the most of your CRM. Part of this comes down to using automation to update CRM records and categorize contacts, but ultimately you’ll have to think about how your organization uses their CRM and ask yourself these questions:

  • What data can you gather about your prospects (and when) to help the effectiveness of your campaigns?
  • How can you use automation to ensure the cleanliness and accuracy of your database?
  • How often can you audit your database to ensure the integrity of these efforts?

Trigger-Based Email Marketing

We briefly discussed that marketing automation provides a big opportunity for email marketing efforts. Triggered emails — automated marketing messages based on a prospect’s behaviors — are powerful because they are inherently relevant and timely. The key to an effective email is relevance plus timeliness plus value, and the first two are baked into triggered emails. It’s up to the marketer to jump on that opportunity and align a valuable offer to those recipients.

Not using triggered emails? Here are a few recipes of triggered marketing automation to get you started.

Trigger: Downloaded an Educational Offer

This is a great place to start if you don’t have any triggered emails set up, as this is the broadest trigger — engaging the prospects at the earliest stage of the buyer’s journey. 

What to Send: Transactional Email With Next Step Call-to-Action

In this situation, your triggered email can be a transactional email — confirming the download (or registration or request) and including any information related to that download.

For example, if this is a follow-up to downloading an ebook, include the name of the ebook and a link to the PDF. If it’s a follow-up to registering for a webinar, include the webinar information, including the time and date and how to log in.

Once you’ve covered your bases on the transactional information, it’s time to think about what you want your prospect to do next. You have their attention — take advantage of it! Do you want them to convert on a middle-of-the-funnel offer like a demo request or complementary consultation? Or do you want to encourage them to share this offer with their network, to expand the reach of your content? Think about that ideal next step, and include a call-to-action for that in your follow up email.

Trigger: Took One Action in a Series, but Not the Next

Say your prospect gets close to taking the action you want — like starting a trial of your product — but they don’t quite get to the finish line. They visit the trial landing page, or view some content about your product, but don’t start that trial. This is an opportunity for you to follow up to get them to cross that finish line.

What to Send: Related Content and an Alternative Action

Perhaps they didn’t complete that action because of some hesitation — they didn’t want to fill out a form, or they had some additional questions that stopped them from starting that trial. This is an opportunity to follow up with related content (like product videos or resources for the trial) and an alternative action (maybe they don’t want to use a trial, they simply want to get a demo or speak directly with a sales rep).

You can even simply ask them in your email … what stopped you from signing up? Anything we can do to help? You’ll be surprised by how many responses you’ll get. After all, these are people who got close to taking an action but had some specific hesitation. You want to both discover and address that hesitation head-on.

Trigger: Viewed Specific Content

Whether you have content on specific topics (product pain points, for example), or content aligned with specific parts of the funnel (product pages vs. blog articles), when your prospects view that content, you have more data to use in your follow-up emails.

What to Send: Tailored Follow-Up Content

Whether you trigger an email immediately or save this intelligence for future communications, the data you collect about which content people view can be used to make your marketing that much more relevant on a one-to-one basis.

For example, if you have content on your website (case studies, blog articles, etc.) that’s related to specific industries or target markets, you can infer that people who view that content are in that industry, and tailor your future marketing messages accordingly. Or, if you have content on your website that is related to specific topics of interest or pain points that you address, you can infer that people who view that content care about that pain point, and tailor your future marketing messages around that topic.

Think about the various behavioral data points you have about your prospects, and what you can draw from that to determine what they care about.

Trigger: Recently and Highly Engaged or Lacking in Engagement

Figure out what your bar is for a highly engaged prospect (perhaps they downloaded at least three ebooks and viewed at least ten blog articles) as well as an unengaged prospect, and respond and market to them accordingly.

What to Send: Timely Next Step Call-to-Action or Reengagement Campaign

For your highly engaged prospects, you once again have attention you can leverage. One great option is to encourage them to share the content they just downloaded. But also remember that triggered marketing automation does not need to be solely external (sent to prospects), it can also be internal (sent to your fellow employees)!

When a prospect becomes highly engaged, this is a great opportunity to notify that prospect’s sales representative that this is a good time to follow up with the prospect. For your unengaged prospects, send a proactive reengagement email. You may even want to have multiple trigger points (e.g. haven’t clicked on an email in three months, six months, one year) where you send different campaigns to reengage these prospects.

For example, after three months, send a reminder to update their email preferences. After six months, ask them if the content is irrelevant and offer them to unsubscribe. And finally, after one year, tell them you will not email them anymore unless they respond.

Trigger: Interacted With Your Company, or Mentioned Your Competitors or Industry, in Social Media

As you listen to what your prospects are saying in social media, you have the opportunity to follow up with those who interact with your company, or those who mention your competitors or specific pain points that you address.

What to Send: Comparison Guides, Product Information, or Educational Content

Pick a common and valuable interaction that occurs between you and your prospects in social media — it may be asking questions about your product, mentioning that they’re evaluating a competitor, or simply asking a question that relates to the pain points your product addresses.

If responding by social media, you likely don’t actually want to automate your response — it will be very easy for your prospect to recognize the impersonal nature of that interaction. However, you can supplement your one-to-one social media engagement with a triggered email campaign with supporting content. For example, if your prospect asks questions about your product, you can send how-to and product feature information. If your prospect mentions they’re evaluating a competitor, you can send comparison guides, third party reviews, or case studies for them to use in their evaluation process. Or if your prospect simply asks a question related to your industry, you can follow up with educational content on the topic of interest.

At the end of the day, any of these triggered emails are likely to get a higher response — and higher return on your effort — compared to the typical linear marketing automation campaign. Using some of the same technology, you can reorient your marketing to work around your prospect’s timeline instead of your own, while continuing to drive the actions you desire.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The Surround Sound Series: How We Created A New Content Marketing Program & Improved SERP Visibility Beyond SEO (Part 2 of 3)

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

The way people shop has radically changed.

Back in the day, going shopping meant visiting a few shops — maybe some with brands you knew you liked. Now, customers have a wealth of options available online 24/7. They can compare features and prices, read recent reviews, or even get suggestions from influencers and magazines. They can go back and forth between their best options, until they find what suits them best.

In this new context, if you want your products or services to be considered when customers weigh their options, you have to be visible where they search for options. You have to be everywhere that matters — in recommended lists, comparison articles, review websites, etc. — so your brand stays top of mind. This is what we call creating a surround sound content strategy for your brand.

In this article, I’ll take you through how HubSpot uses surround sound to track and improve its products’ visibility and awareness.

What is the surround sound strategy?

At HubSpot, “surround sound” is the name Alex Birkett gave to a program that aims to make HubSpot products visible every time someone searches for a product-related keyword (e.g. “best help desk software” or “best live chat software”).

The goal is for potential users to see HubSpot mentioned in all or most of the pages that rank in Google top results for those keywords. This is the “surround sound” effect!

How to Start a Surround Sound Content Program

If you’re looking to start a surround sound program for your business, these next steps will show you exactly how to go about it.

It’s important to note that this guide is based on HubSpot’s last 18 months of experimenting with this program. While we learned a lot on this journey, this is still a work in progress with many opportunities to explore.

Depending on your industry, your program might need to be adjusted. So we hope these steps offer you initial guidance and help give you kick-start your own surround sound content program.

1. Define your product-exploration keywords.

As Alex Birkett mentioned in the previous post of this series, the goal with a surround sound content program should be to “be everywhere a customer is searching when they seek out products like yours”.

That means that you first need to put together a list of keywords that potential customers typically use to discover their options for a given purchase. We call these product-exploration keywords (or surround sound keywords).

Product-exploration keywords are search queries potential customers use to discover, for any given purchase:

  • What options are available to them across the market (e.g. “language learning apps”)
  • The most recommended solutions (e.g. “best language learning apps”)
  • Alternatives to something they are already using but may want to change (e.g. “best Duolingo alternatives”)

Start building your list by following these three patterns. Certain keyword research tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush or MozPro can suggest related terms with high search volume. That way, you can build your list much faster and get extra information, like search volume or difficulty, to help you prioritize terms.

If you’re using Ahrefs, look for Keyword ideas by search volume to expand your list:

surround sound strategy hubspot content marketing ahrefs product-exploration keywords

Product-exploration keywords are typically the highest intent and highest converting, but you can also expand your selection to “product-led content.” This is content that is centered around your product, but typically teaches something product agnostic.

For example, a product exploration keyword for ProProfs could be “best NPS survey software,” but they can also consider something like “how to create an NPS survey” as a product-led content keyword.

2. Determine your current performance for product-exploration keywords.

Once you have your list of product-exploration keywords, it’s time to see how many of the top 20 search results your product or service currently ranks for.

You can do this manually by checking each of the top 20 pages for your brand mentions:

surround sound strategy hubspot content marketing top 20 brand mentions

In the end, you should find yourself with a list of keywords, mentions, and visibility scores like this one:

Keyword Monthly search volume mentions in top 20 visibility score
CRM providers 170 7 35%
sales management tools 110 11

55%

enterprise CRM 210 5

25%

We calculate the Visibility Score as a % of mentions in the top 20. So, if HubSpot is mentioned in 7 out of 20 pages that rank for “CRM providers”, then the visibility score for that keyword is:

Visibility Score % = (7 ➗ 20) x 100 = 35%

At HubSpot, we’re monitoring around 600 product-exploration keywords. So, checking for mentions manually meant checking around 10,000 URLs (if we consider that some pages appear for more than one keyword).

That’s where Alex stepped in and built a “SERP tracker” — a tool that calculated the percentage of search results for any given query that mentions a brand, product, or service.

The SERP tracker was a game-changer for HubSpot’s surround sound content marketing program as it made monthly reporting and tracking changes a matter of hours, instead of days.

Note: If you’re looking for more information about Surround Sound reporting, stick around and follow this series as that’s exactly what the next post is about. In the meantime, you can geek out on this generic R script for the SERP tracker that Alex wrote about on his blog.

3. Understand your brand’s current visibility on the SERPs.

To understand your brand’s visibility when people are looking for products or services like yours, you need to measure your visibility at 1) a keyword level, 2) a topic level, and 3) a product level. This will allow you to understand your overall performance and track it against competitors.

At HubSpot, we track around 600 surround sound-specific product-exploration keywords grouped by feature, product, and Hub:

This allows us to either track our progress at a granular level or just look at the overall Hub performance.

Here’s an example of a dashboard for HubSpot Marketing I created using a mix of spreadsheets, the SERP tracker that Alex built, and Google Data Studio.

surround sound strategy hubspot visibility top 20 serps content marketing

Once you have your visibility calculated, you’ve got your baseline from which you can start improving.

Expect your visibility score to fluctuate over time. This is because new content is constantly published that ranks for those keywords you’re monitoring. Depending on whether the content mentions your brand or not will affect your visibility score as well. There will also be fluctuations that are not related to a drop or an increase in visibility, but they are just a consequence of adding more keywords to your score calculation.

Most importantly, your own efforts to build partnerships will impact your visibility. The more successful you are at getting bloggers or review websites to mention your brand (in new or existing content), the more likely your visibility will increase.

A visibility increase can result in more referral traffic, direct signups, and generated leads, but more importantly (and far more difficult to tie to the bottom line), it can impact your brand awareness.

More people will know about and recognize your products or services simply because they stumble upon them every time they search for “recommendations of best X.”

4. Identify opportunities to improve your SERP visibility.

Spotting opportunities can be challenging when you’re monitoring mentions for more than 10 keywords.

At HubSpot, we monitor over 500 keywords for our surround sound program, so we built a formula that takes into account both our visibility for each specific keyword as well as the average monthly number of searches for that keyword.

Opportunity = (100% – Visibility Score) x Avg Monthly Searches

Say for the keyword “CRM software” (54,000 average monthly searches), our visibility in the Google top 10 search results is 80%. This means that HubSpot is mentioned in 8 out of 10 pages that rank in the Google top 10 for this keyword.

surround sound strategy hubspot content marketing crm software

Opportunity for “CRM software” = (100% – 80%) x 54,000 = 10,800

To establish an order of priority, calculate the opportunity level for each keyword, and sort your list from highest to lowest opportunity value.

5. Define a clear goal for your visibility score.

Once you have your priorities in check, it’s time to dig a bit deeper and look at all the URLs that don’t already mention your brand. The question to ask yourself now is: Which ones of these would potentially mention my brand if I reach out to them?

Some websites, like big media publications, will never respond or update their content. So you’re better off by removing these in the first place.

You’ll be left with a list of potential targets (URLs and websites). To establish your surround sound goals, calculate your visibility scores for the same list of keywords — but this time, take into account the potential targets.

And there you have it: your baseline and your visibility goal.

Now what you need to do is figure out how you can persuade your target companies to mention your brand.

Types of Surround Sound Partnership Agreements

Depending on your industry and what companies rank for your surround sound keywords, you’ll be targeting many types of companies to potentially partner with.

Some of the most common ones we see ranking for our target keywords here at HubSpot are:

  • Review websites such as G2, Capterra, and Digital.com
  • Other SaaS companies and competitors such as Mailchimp and Zoho
  • Other marketing blogs such as Neil Patel and Content Marketing Institute
  • Big publishers such as Forbes, Inc., and ReadWrite

Each one of these companies has its own goals and objectives. The “secret” to succeeding with your surround sound content strategy is understanding these goals and how you can help and provide value to these companies and publications. In turn, you can extract value as well.

In other words, don’t expect other publishers to list you just because you reach out. You need to look at this as a partnership that you build for the long-run.

So here are some ways in which you can help your potential partners:

  • Promote their products or content.
  • Provide digital PR on their behalf.
  • Include affiliate marketing links to their products or services.

Once you have a battle plan of how you’ll approach each partner so that each benefits from the collaboration, you’re ready to execute on your surround sound content program.

6. Start outreach for long-term partnerships.

This is the part that can make or break your surround sound content program.

A good outreach plan involves a relevant, personalized, timely (think about the tough social and economic times we’re transitioning), and well-targeted email sequence that’s persuasive enough to get your prospects to respond positively.

Remember this is not meant to be a one-off collaboration, but a long term, mutually-beneficial partnership. Your outreach goal should be to spark a conversation with your potential partner. To work together, you first need to learn more about their goals and the best way to meet both parties’ needs.

Note: If you’re new to outreach, check out this post on how to write the perfect cold outreach email, this extensive guide on email outreach and this list of tools you can try out. Email outreach is an art and a science, and getting this part right is crucial.

Once you have kick-started a genuine partnership, make sure you keep track of all of the communication so Sales and Marketing can see it if needed. The best way to do that is to use your CRM software.

At HubSpot, we’re lucky enough to have our own CRM to manage everything — from email sequences to project tracking and partner communications to reporting on our outreach progress.

On top of using the Google Data Studio dashboard to track our visibility progress, we use the HubSpot CRM to keep track of each individual partnership and the mentions that contributed to our growth.

surround sound strategy hubspot content marketing partnerships hubspot crm

Summary: How to Successfully Execute a Surround Sound Content Marketing Program

The way people shop has changed, so marketing needs to evolve and adapt, too. That’s why the surround sound strategy is a tactic you need to consider for 2021 and beyond. It’s a simple concept, but the execution can pose some challenges.

That’s why we put together this step-by-step guide to hopefully help you structure your upcoming program. Here’s a summary of what it’s all about:

  • Start with a list of keywords that are relevant to your products and services.
  • Measure your visibility and opportunity for each keyword.
  • Prioritize potential partnerships based on opportunities.
  • Figure out how to get in touch with each partner and draft a message.
  • Schedule a kick-off meeting and get to know your partner’s priorities and goals.
  • Keep track of your partnerships (CRM).
  • Measure your program results.
  • Communicate regularly with partners and stakeholders.

Curious to learn more about the SERP tracker, and what results we saw at HubSpot with Surround Sound? Follow this series as we have more in depth posts coming in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, don’t miss part one: a behind-the-scenes introduction to the surround sound content strategy.

This article walked through the execution of the surround sound strategy. Stay tuned for Part 3 that will dive into our results as well as the technical details on how we built internal tools to help us accomplish these feats.

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How to Turn a Case Study into a Customer Success Story

Expression, passion, style, persuasion, authenticity.

These five elements encompass a customer success story — a transformation from a regular case study to an enticing piece of content that encourages a reader to explore what your company has to offer.

When people think about writing a case study, they might feel a daunting rise of tediousness, or perhaps writer’s block. This article omits both by showing you exactly how to turn a case study into a customer success story through an authentic writing style.

Case studies are more than proving your company’s achievements. Through eloquence and thoughtfulness, you can demonstrate your product or service’s power by telling a real story.

Think about it: Real customers use your product. Real employees deliver successful projects. Real customers, real professionals, real people.

What does it mean to be human in digital form? It means delivering a story with facts and emotions. It’s educating a prospect through a thoughtful perspective, and answering the following questions: How did the client feel at the beginning, and how did they feel at the end? What struggles did the project manager face, and how did they feel when they overcame them?

These questions are part of what encompasses a customer success story.

So how do you make a case study passionate, motivating, and authentic?

Along with the five elements that shape a success story, there are five criteria for forming the facts.

Here, we’ll dive into each step you need to take to create an engaging customer success story and convert leads.

1. Find the right client.

First thing’s first: finding the right client.

Ask your project management or sales team about their latest projects and which one stood out. You’re looking for a client with a uniquely knotty problem, one that your company was able to solve. The more complex the project, the more you can show off your company’s skills.

If most of the projects seem standard, pick the client that was the most hands-on and the most responsive. The more involved the client, the more likely they are to give you more information in their interview.

Send an Enticing Email

Before you begin, get permission from the client and inquire about their interest in participating in a case study. You can incentivize them through social media publication, tagging their company on all social platforms, and including a link to their website at the end of the case study.

Here’s an example from Trujay that you can use to write an enticing email to your client:

Hi [Name],

My name is [Your Name], I’m a [Job Title/Position] here at [Company Name]. I’m so pleased to hear your experience with us was worth it! We’re glad we could make all the needs of your project happen and hope you continue to enjoy the results.

Since your project was such a success, I wondered if you would be interested in participating in a case study. We like to inquire about this opportunity to only a few select customers because we find some projects have a compelling story. Yours happens to be a particularly special project, and we’d love to promote your brand by showcasing the results.

All you would have to do is answer six questions about your experience of working with us. You may answer them directly in response to this email, or we can have a phone or video call. Whatever way you’d prefer! Most of our clients like to copy and paste the questions in response and simply fill in the answers.

If you would like to interview over [Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Other], let me know a good time and date that works for you. The call shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

I’ve attached a few examples of previous success stories to get a feel for the final product. We also conduct a social media campaign so you and your company can get as much exposure as possible.

We thank you for using our services and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors! Should you ever need our services again, know that [Company Name’s] got your back. We hope you find interest in participating and look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest,

[Email Signature]

Once you have permission, let your project management or services team know that a case study is underway.

2. Create interview questions for both project manager and client.

You’ll want to create two sets of questions — one for the project manager, and one for the client. These questions will give way to both sides of the story, enlightening you on the experience from both ends.

Client Questions: The Background

The formatting of the client interview questions is essential. You want to get as much detail as you can without overwhelming the client with loaded questions.

Client interview questions are straightforward and relate to a customer’s company, goals, passions, and plans. You want to find out how your company solved a significant problem through the clients’ perspective. What did the project management team accomplish, in their eyes?

First, get four pieces of standard information:

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 2.20.21 PM

Here’s an example of how you’ll use this information in your introductory piece and throughout the success story:

 

bloom-customer-success-storyImage Source

Once you introduce the interviewee and their company clearly and thoughtfully, the client interview questions will shape the rest of your story.

Client Questions: The Real Story

First, you want the client to describe what their previous experience was. What didn’t they like about it? What did it do to cause friction in their business process? And most importantly, how was their previous experience not serving their company’s needs?

Next, you want to get the facts. What was the name of their previous service provider, and what made them switch? How did they find your company? Was it a referral, a Google search, or something else?

By knowing how the client found your company, you’ll know which of your marketing efforts are working and which need improvement. For example, if the client found your company through a keyword search, that means your SEO strategy is working. Alternatively, if the client found your company by referral, that means your reputation is credible by word-of-mouth.

Below are six questions you can ask your clients:

  1. What company and/or product were you previously using, and what were the issues?
  2. What special requirements did you have that the previous company lacked in delivering?
  3. Which solution did you switch to, and what made you choose it?
  4. How did you find the new company/solution?
  5. What was your experience throughout the project? (Orientation, beginning stages, experience with your account manager, understanding the tech if applicable, etc.)
  6. How were you satisfied with the results, and what was your favorite part? (Could be anything from communication to a more technical logic.)

Project Manager Questions

The project manager questions should inform you of the entire technical and onboarding process. These questions aim to prove technical savviness and expertise, showing the reader that your product or service works excellently.

Below are four interview questions you could ask the project manager or technician in charge of the account:

  1. What were the challenges the client was facing? Is there a main one in particular? Be as detailed as possible over what problems the client had, including but not limited to their project experience, current issues, and dislikes.
  2. What were the biggest challenges of this project, and what did you find most challenging in solving the problem? Were there complications you have or have not seen before? Be descriptive.
  3. What did you recommend, and how did you know to suggest that plan? Was there anything peculiar about their use case, or was it pretty standard? How do you know what actions to take for a specific project, precisely the one in question?
  4. What was the execution plan, and how did you use it to satisfy the client’s needs?

Make sure you’re interviewing the team leader of the project and other colleagues who worked on it. You’ll want to do this to make sure you get the whole story and the perspectives of everyone involved. The more information you have, the easier it will be to write the story.

When interviewing the project management team, analyze their responses in a marketable way. What about their answers gives appeal, and where is the sweet spot for authenticity?

Every project is unique, even if there is a standard method in place. It’s the client’s problem that makes the project unique, and how the services team solved that very problem to the fullest extent.

Below is an example of how you can integrate the project manager responses into a well-written overview of the problem and its challenges:

 

Image Source

3. Tell the story using a standard outline.

The responses to your interview questions don’t necessarily need to be in a particular order. You can either start with the project manager or client questions.

Let’s say you get the client’s responses first. What are you looking for, exactly?

You’re looking for the message behind their words. Some call it reading between the lines. I call it the sweet spot of authenticity. What about their responses jumps out at you? Here is an excellent place to know your buyer personas and identify what kind of client they are.

After reviewing both sets of interview responses, try telling the story to yourself from beginning to end using the questions below. In your own words, speak the story out loud. Doing so will turn fact into fiction and organize your written outline.

Screen Shot 2020-09-28 at 2.21.25 PM

Place Quotes in Your Outline

Quotes from the client are paramount. Words that come directly from the source are vital to proving your company can achieve results and make customers feel cared for. The more quotes you have, the better you can showcase your customer’s achievements.

Quotes of high-quality give prospects significant confidence in choosing your services — almost as much as referrals. The quotes should never be modified unless using proper quotation rules.

Below are examples of strong quotes:

Image Source

Ask for Video Testimonials

If and when possible, getting video testimonials from your client can make your story go above-and-beyond. If the video content editing is just right, you can move your readers in a heartfelt way. That might sound odd, so take a look at the video below. It could very well be the beacon of your success story and the element that sets it apart, like this example from HubSpot, below:

Testimonials of this kind of caliber make your success story real. Additionally, consider placing quotes in various and relevant areas of your success story — you can have a quote for each one of the aspects that make up a standard, outlined case study.

4. Use concise, clear language to tell a story.

You don’t need to use fancy jargon to create a compelling customer success story — in fact, it’s preferred that you don’t. You’ll want to make it so the reader can clearly understand how your company helped solve a client’s problem, which doesn’t require superfluous language.

Here’s an excerpt that’s written clearly, and without jargon:

James felt that [company 1] had way more “bells and whistles,” which can be extremely healthy for some companies. In James’s case, however, he was only using a fraction of the features. Sometimes, too much of anything is never a good thing. Just because a system has more features doesn’t mean it will serve a specific company to its highest degree. Sometimes, less is more, and for James, “it was time to change.”

5. Design your story for visual appeal.

Ultimately, visuals are powerful opportunities to support and strengthen your story.

If you want to persuade prospects that your company is the right choice for them, you’ll want to have a well-written story, but you’ll also want to create visually-appealing materials to help support the story.

Design applications like Canva are great for combining text with imagery. Create beautiful and eye-catching case study e-book covers, or create designs to highlight quotes throughout the piece. Alternatively, consider using images related to the client and company — with permission, you might even consider using clients’ LinkedIn photos to put a face to the text.

Here are some examples of customer success stories with a design for visual appeal:

1. CoSchedule Customer Success Story: UMass Memorial Health Care

coschedule-customer-success

2. Lightico Customer Success Story: A1 Comms

lightico-customer-success

3. Hourly.io Customer Success Story: Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels

hourly-customer-success

Case studies work to showcase a company’s function to the fullest degree. They represent the facts of what happened, who was involved, and what the outcome was.

The main goal of a case study is to earn prospective customers’ trust and motivate them to choose you over your competitors.

Turning a case study into a customer success story is done through a meticulous and investigative process. 

Now that you have everything you need to get started, design a visually appealing piece of content that gives the reader more than just words, but sparks their imagination of what it would be like to work with your company. They’ll want to reap the benefits of your services — and may even become the star of your next customer success story.

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