How HubSpot, Moz, Buffer, and TrackMaven Staff Their Content Teams

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It’s always valuable to look at how other organizations within your industry get things done every day. And It’s particularly valuable to look at how an organization you admire, or aspire to emulate, has nailed what they do.

When we read in 2016 that BuzzFeed was changing the entire way its content creation team was structured, it made us curious about how we were creating our own content. Were we dedicating enough resources to video content? Was our social media strategy as built out?

HubSpot doesn’t operate at nearly the same scale as BuzzFeed, and we aren’t a strictly media company, but it made me wonder how our industry peers are getting the job done. So I asked some of my friends in the B2B marketing space, “How do you create content every day?” 

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In this post, we’ll discuss how different content teams are structured — and what wisdom you can take away for staffing your own team.

How 4 Content Marketing Shops Staff Their Content Teams

1) TrackMaven

TrackMaven

TrackMaven is a marketing attribution analytics software company, and I asked Senior Director of Marketing, Kara Burney, about her team’s unique approach to structuring the content marketing team of “mavens.”

Over the past year and a half, we flipped our content creation hierarchy from an exclusively in-house model to a primarily freelance-based model. The impetus was to divide and define the responsibilities of content creation, content distribution, and content reporting.

While we still oversee social media and advertising in-house, we now manage a consistent cadre of freelancers: four to five writers, one to two videographers, and two to three designers. As a result, our team is able to focus on the distribution and ROI of each content asset, while benefiting from the expertise of specialized freelancers.”

Takeaway for Marketers: TrackMaven structured its team to best prioritize everyone’s time according to their strengths. TrackMaven consists of experts in content distribution and proving ROI, so its content team focuses on those parts of the content creation process — and leaves the actual creation to freelancers to free up time and energy.

And according to our research, this is a smart move: The 2017 State of Inbound report revealed that some of marketers’ top priorities include proving marketing ROI and content distribution/amplification.

2) Buffer

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Buffer is a social media scheduling app that creates a ton of useful content and research on its different blogs, so I asked its Director of Marketing, Kevan Lee, how the content team is assembled to produce so much.

We have nine people in total on our marketing team: one director, one content writer, one blog editor, one community builder, one loyalty marketer, one PR marketer, one bottom of the funnel marketer, one digital strategist and social media producer, and one product marketer.

We all create content in some way, at some time. We’ve built the team based on the marketing channels that we’ve been able to validate. So, at first, when our team was one or two people, we went after a wide range of marketing channels to see what worked. Content marketing yielded some huge results, so we hired a content writer to go deep on that channel.

As channels get validated, we try to move people into those roles so they can maximize the impact we can have on that channel. In our case, blogging has been highly validated as a strong referral source for us, so we have multiple people working on content marketing. Video is showing lots of potential, and we’re definitely doing more there — it just hasn’t quite reached the peak validation of content marketing for us yet.”

Takeaway for Marketers: Buffer’s marketing team waits for channels to start to drive meaningful results before dedicating staff members to leading the charge, which makes a lot of sense. In this way, Buffer can use ROI to make intentional and impactful choices about where to dedicate resources to get results — and fast. Buffer has consistently seen blogging move the needle for its outcomes, so it built out the blogging team to constantly keep the content engines running.

3) Moz

Moz Structure

Moz sells SEO, link building, and content marketing software. I asked its Audience Development Manager, Trevor Klein, about how Moz creates the Moz Blog, Whiteboard Fridays, and other great content.

Moz doesn’t actually have a single full-time content creator. We do have a content team of four members. One marketer is in charge of our content experience, ensuring we’re addressing the needs of our audiences and offering them the right paths (and the right stops on those paths) to get the value they need. We also have our blog manager, though her purview extends to strategy for all of our educational content. Our video wizard — with expertise in both video strategy and production — helps teams throughout Moz make the most of a complicated medium. And I manage the team and set overarching strategy.

We also, though, have a handful of other Mozzers who devote some of their time to creating content, including several Moz Associates — industry experts with whom we have ongoing contractual relationships.

Our team is structured in a way that encourages each individual to contribute in their most meaningful ways, working as much as possible with our wonderful community of contributors. We divide the creation and editing responsibilities among several people instead of retaining full-time writers, and that gives us two important benefits. For one thing, it affords us great flexibility. We don’t have to wait on a bottleneck or get stuck because someone is on vacation, and it allows us to play off each writer’s individual skills for different content needs. This works out well, as Moz’s priorities are in a near-constant state of flux. It also ensures that work never gets too monotonous for anyone on the team. Some people enjoy writing things all day every day, but those folks are few and far between. Splitting the creative work among several people encourages coordination and allows us all to spend some time on other things.”

Takeaway for Marketers: Moz’s approach to content creation is smart — it maximizes and takes advantage of employees’ strengths and talents, and it makes the entire publication process a collective team effort. And by training the whole team to fulfill writing, editing, and publishing roles, the team is more nimble and adaptable to institutional or industry change that might drastically alter priorities and goals.

4) HubSpot

HubSpot Content Structure

Here at HubSpot, our content creation is spread over many different teams — in fact, we like to say that everyone at HubSpot creates. Within our “strictly” content team, outside of the HubSpot blogs, where we have four full-time writers creating daily content, we have a team of three multimedia content creators, a researcher, two podcast producers, and two social media and video content producers. Additionally, we have a team that creates co-marketing content with our partner organizations, a team that creates ebooks and content offers designed to generate leads, and specific blogs and dedicated to recruiting prospective employees and providing valuable insights to our partner marketing agencies and our various clients’ verticals.

In short, the official content engine is made up of nearly 20 employees, but everyone at our organization has the expertise and ability to create content — whether it’s a blog post, a Facebook Live broadcast, or a podcast recording.

Takeaway for Marketers: We recommend creating opportunities for all employees to be a part of the content team — team members in other departments have valuable insights and data that can be adapted into relevant content for your audience, so don’t be afraid to grow its size to meet your traffic goals.

How is your company’s content team structured? Share with us in the comments below.

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How to Write a Resume: The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips

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I can’t think of many tasks people dread more than writing a resume. There are so many little things you need to add, rephrase, check, double-check, triple-check … and yet, somehow, your resume still goes out with your name as Corey Wainwrite from HubStop. It’s anxiety-inducing.

So, I did what I do when I’m anxious. I made a list about all the little stuff you need to do when you’re writing and editing a resume.

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Check it out — and we wish you the best of luck with your job search.

The Ultimate Resume Checklist

I’ve divided all the must-do tasks into four sections and did my best to order them chronologically. Some could probably exist in more than one section or be completed in a different order, so I’ve ordered items where I thought they most naturally fit during the resume-writing process.

Is Your Resume Professional? Things to Check:

Is your email address professional? (e.g. sara@gmail.com vs. sarabear@gmail.com)

Is your email address from a professional domain, like Gmail? (Outdated domains can be a red flag for tech-savvy companies.)

Does your resume align with your LinkedIn profile? (Hiring managers will likely review both, in tandem.)

Have you included links to social profiles, portfolios, and a personal website, if relevant?

Have you audited your social profiles to ensure no unprofessional content is available?

If you’ve listed the hiring manager’s name, have you customized any communications that address him or her?

If you’re sending your resume as a Google Doc, have you granted the recipient the proper permissions to view it (or opened up permissions to everyone)?

Is Your Resume Well-Written? Things to Check:

Have you included your basic contact information — including your name, address, email address, and phone number?

Are you writing in a tone that matches that of the company to which you’re applying? (For instance, while still writing professionally, you might use a different tone when applying to work at a new tech startup versus an established analyst firm.)

Have you customized your resume for the specific job you’re applying to? (Highlight work experience and skills that are relevant to the position — don’t just write down everything you’ve ever done professionally.)

Do you have a clear objective at the top of your resume that is company-focused, not applicant-focused? (If not, that’s okay — but in lieu of it, do include a “Key Skills” section that summarizes who you are and what you can offer the company.)

Have you included both accomplishments and responsibilities under each job? (Both should be easy to ascertain when scanning your resume.)

Have you used metrics where possible to better illustrate your success?

Do you illustrate career progression? Is it clear that you were promoted, gained additional responsibility, or switched jobs laterally to acquire more skills?

Have you listed not only the names of companies, but a short description of what each company does?

Have you included your tenure at each company?

Have you included relevant information about your education?

Have you added anything that points to your personality or interests outside of work?

Does your unique value proposition shine through? (E.g., something that makes you stand out from other applicants, or highlights that you’re uniquely qualified for the position.)

If relevant for the position, have you included links to a portfolio or samples of your work?

Have you included reference names and contact information, or simply, “references available upon request”? (Both are okay — just be sure to use at least one to indicate that you even have references.)

Is Your Resume Properly Formatted & Designed? Things to Check:

Have you used some sort of template so the layout of your resume is visually appealing and easy to read?

Is your resume too creative? (For instance, if you’re applying for a creative position and have formatted your resume as an infographic … is it really simple enough to read, or is it best to save that creativity for your portfolio?)

Have you selected a clear, easy-to-read font?

Have you made use of common formatting conventions that makes content easier to read, such as bullet points and header text?

Has your formatting remained consistent across all positions? (For example, if you’ve bolded job titles, are all job titles indeed bolded?)

Are your margins even?

Are all items properly aligned? (For example, if you’ve right-aligned dates, are they all lining up in tandem with one another?)

Are all links you’ve included clickable?

Have you converted your resume to a format that allows all recipients to read it as intended, without downloading specific fonts or needing special software? (A PDF format is recommended.)

Is Your Resume Edited & Polished? Things to Check:

Have you included keywords in your resume? (If you’re submitting to an automated system, it might be critical to getting past filters. Be sure your resume directly reflects some of the software and skills mentioned in the job description.)

Have you edited it for brevity? (Try to keep your resume to about one page per ten years of job experience, if possible.)

Have you removed irrelevant job experiences?

Are sections of your resume in the order that best highlights your skills and what you have to offer the employer? (For instance, if you’re a recent graduate with internships in different fields, you might separate your most relevant experience from “other” experience, instead of ordering everything by date.)

Have you edited out generic action verbs for more specific ones?

Have you made use of a thesaurus to prevent monotony?

Have you found more professional alternatives to unprofessional-sounding terms?

Are your special skills all truly special? (While speaking a foreign language is indeed noteworthy, these days, it might be redundant to mention that you’re proficient in Microsoft Word or capable of using email.)

Have you done a sweep for annoying jargon or business babble? (Everything should be clearly articulated, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to quickly understand what you do.)

Is everything 100% true? (If you write that you’re fluent in a foreign language on your resume, you should be prepared to speak that language during your interview. If you say you like baking, you should be ready to answer which dishes you like to bake.)

Have you conducted spelling grammar checks?

Finally, have you asked a friend who hasn’t read your resume before to provide a final glance for errors, inconsistencies, or confusing phrasing?

If you’ve gotten this far and checked every box, you should be ready to send that resume in.

P.S. We’re hiring.

Do you have any other resume must-haves? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Rethinking Subscriptions: Lessons Learned During the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s Email Overhaul

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A few months ago, I took on the task of evaluating and reinventing the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s email subscription.

It’s not that our email subscription wasn’t working. We were gaining an impressive number of subscribers each month. Those subscribers we’re opening and clicking on our subscription emails — and we had the traffic numbers to prove it. But those insights and metrics just scratched the surface when it came to the health of our subscription.

A deeper analysis revealed that we were losing subscribers at nearly the same rate we were gaining them — we had a churn problem. And in some cases, the cause of drop-off had something to do with the frequency at which we were sending these emails.

It was clear that we were leaving opportunity on the table when it came to subscriber longevity and engagement. And perhaps more importantly, it was time to do something about it.

Digging Into Our Existing Email Subscription

Until recently, our email subscription unfolded like this:

  • Step 1: Someone subscribes to receive either a Daily or Weekly email from us.
  • Step 2: HubSpot generates an RSS email of our latest content.
  • Step 3: Subscriber receives the email.

Since we never messed with the existing email subscription in the past, there were seemingly endless opportunities for how the new model might take shape. But before I nailed down a new path, I decided to dig into our current emails and subscriber expectations to see what was going on. This meant crunching some numbers, as well as surveying our unengaged subscribers to diagnose what exactly was keeping them from finding value.

Here’s what I found …

3 Key Takeaways From An Analysis of Our Old Subscription Model

1) Our subscriber list was growing, but people weren’t sticking around.

At the time of my initial research, we were churning approximately 10% of our total subscriber list size each month. I’ll dive into the reasons why folks were likely churning in greater detail below, but quite simply, our subscribers were jumping ship because their needs weren’t being met.

When we took a closer look at exactly how long subscribers were staying engaged with our subscription emails for, we found:

  • On average, 16% of new Marketing Blog subscribers unsubscribe of their own volition before the six-month mark.
  • On average, The Marketing Blog retains ~22% of new subscribers for six or more months.

What’s the consequence here? Well, considering that we’re acquiring a sizable number of new subscribers each month, keeping them engaged for a longer period of time means:

  • More traffic from new subscribers
  • A better subscriber experience
  • Better list health and deliverability
  • More opportunity to convert subscribers into leads

At this point, there are all things that we were missing.

2) Subscribers were overwhelmed by the number of emails they received.

Once churn and engagement numbers were crunched, we decided to issue a survey to the subscribers who were starting to lose interest in our subscription. One of the major themes that surfaced in their responses? Email overload.

In fact, 30% of survey respondents said that the number one thing they didn’t like about our blog experience was the number of emails they received. For more context, here’s a look at some of the raw responses we got:

  • “Content is good, just send it less often.”
  • “I would really like it a couple of times a week. Not every day, but not once a week either. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday cadence would be good.”
  • “It was too much.”
  • “Too frequent. Would gloss over them as spam.”

3) Subscribers didn’t always feel that the content was relevant to them.

The cool thing about running a blog that’s been around for so many years is that some of our subscribers have been there since the beginning. They’ve skilled up through the ranks with the help of our content and have evolved into savvy inbound marketers. But then there are our new subscribers — each with varying degrees of marketing experience and interest.

Was our existing email subscription meeting the needs of everyone? Not quite. Mostly because we were sending the same exact blog posts to our subscriber base, regardless of their content preferences.

Launching a New Wave of Subscriptions

Taking what we learned from our old subscription, along with all of the feedback collected from our existing subscribers, we set out to design a new model.

We had two goals in mind:

  1. Reduce subscriber churn
  2. Improve clickthrough rate

And we planned to hit those goals by solving for two problems:

  1. Finding a way to provide a more personalized content experience. This issue surfaced a ton in the feedback we collected from our existing subscribers. To keep people coming back for more, we needed to create a more tailored content experience.
  2. Determining a more manageable email cadence. People were overwhelmed. They couldn’t keep up with every single daily send and they wanted us to pump the breaks.

With these two core challenges in mind, we landed on was a twice-weekly newsletter series made up of four goal-oriented editions:

  • Get Inspired. Outstanding marketing examples, design inspiration, and game-changing ideas that’ll keep you on your toes.
  • Get Growing. The hacks, strategies, and actionable advice you need to master inbound marketing and reach your growth goals.
  • Get Ahead. The latest marketing and tech news to keep you in the know and ahead of the curve.
  • Get Better. Expert career and professional growth guidance designed to help you skill up, stay motivated, and work smarter.

We also offer a “Get All of Them” option, where subscribers receive a newsletter contained the best of each edition.

How the New Subscription Works

Launched at the beginning of May, the new subscription was only rolled out to new subscribers — existing subscribers would still receive their daily or weekly sends while we tested out the new model. The goal was to roll out the new emails to our entire subscriber base once we had an opportunity to do some testing.

Here’s how it played out …

1) Visitors opt-in via any of our subscription CTAs across the website and blog.

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2) New subscribers receive a welcome email once they sign up with a link to a subscription preferences page.

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3) Subscribers choose which email newsletter best fits their interests and needs.

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For example, someone tasked with growing their brands presence online might subscribe to the Get Growing newsletter. This edition offers marketing tips and advice on building and executing on an inbound strategy that scales.

With Change Comes Complications …

Going into this experiment, I had a theory about what would happen. I’d done some research and I’d put a lot of thought into the changes we were making.

But once I got the new subscription off the ground, a couple of unexpected things happened …

People weren’t flowing into the newsletter lists all that smoothly.

In fact, the edition-specific subscriptions were growing really slowly — so much so that we decided to hold off on sending content due to the diminutive size of lists.

It was clear that this bucketing process proved to be more complicated than we’d anticipated. The welcome email — which houses the subscription preferences landing page link — was seeing a 40% open rate, leaving 60% of folks unaware that tailored subscription options even existed. And clickthrough data revealed that less than 5% of subscribers had visited the subscription preferences page to date.

The “Get All of Them” list was the only one showing significant growth.

Interestingly enough, folks were flowing into the list for the all-inclusive newsletter — the one that contained a mix of content from each of the four niche editions. This is the one list that we actually did start sending emails to.

To be fair, this was an easier list to end up on for a few reasons. For one, we decided to auto-subscribe folks who chose not to personalize their subscription to the Get All of Them option — these subscribers made up 36% of the whole list.

We also auto-subscribed those coming in via the subscribe checkbox on our lead generation forms to avoid sending them a kickback and a welcome email all at once — these subscribers made up roughly 60% of the whole list.

That meant that only the remaining 4% of subscribers on the total Get All of Them list voluntarily opted-in to receive that newsletter on the subscription preferences landing page.

What Gives?

We asked. They answered. We listened.

Yet it seemed as though our solution to the tailored content problem was missing the mark. Did people really want personalized content enough to take the extra step? We weren’t so sure anymore — especially after we took a look at the numbers for the emails we did send.

The (Early) Numbers

Complications aside, we do have several weeks worth of Get All of Them sends and findings under our belt. And much to our surprise, the numbers have been pretty inconsistent — and a little underwhelming.

Clickthrough & Open Rate

After seven sends, the average clickthrough rate for the Get All of Them newsletter falls at about 5.1%, while the last seven sends of the existing Daily and Weekly emails saw 5.3% and 6.7% clickthrough rates, respectively.

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As for the open rate, the new subscription email saw an average of 34%, while the last seven sends of the existing Daily and Weekly emails saw 40.37% and 24.84%, respectively.

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Takeaway: The clickthrough rate for the new email fell a little short of its Daily and Weekly predecessors. This is likely due to the fact that this newsletter is curated very similarly to the old subscription, in that subscribers are receiving a mixed bag of content on a variety of topics that may or may not be relevant to them. The open rate fell in the middle of the Daily and Weekly performance, revealing that twice weekly was a manageable cadence, but perhaps not the perfect solution.

Subscriber Churn Rate

The good news? Churn was down. The overall churn rate for twice weekly subscribers during the month of May was 4.2% — over a 5% reduction from the old subscription’s churn rate last month.

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Takeaway: This signals to us that folks are finding value in the two updates a week — at least enough to stick around. If we can keep churn low like this, we’ll be able to reap the benefits of increased traffic and improved list health.

Preparing for V2: What Needs to Change?

So, was this experiment a flop? Not really — and it’s not over. While there have been a handful of blockers, the important thing here is that we are learning something new by trying something different.

As we start to think about how to solve for the challenges that surfaced during the V1 launch of this new subscription model, there are a few lessons we can apply to set ourselves up for success in V2.

1) The design needs testing.

With the help of the comments I received via the feedback loop at the bottom of each email send, I determined that the new design wasn’t resonating with everyone. A few people suggested more visuals, while others noted it was a little lengthy.

We plan to run some A/B tests here to determine a format that inspires the best clickthrough rate.

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(Have ideas on how we can improve? Leave a comment — we’d love to hear them.)

2) The subscription preferences landing page is creating friction.

We knew going into this that asking subscribers to essentially opt-in twice wasn’t going to be easy. Asking folks to complete an action in the welcome email wasn’t ideal, but the dedicated landing page did allow us the time and space to explain the editions in detail.

Moving forward, we could eliminate that page altogether and provide an option to customize your subscription directly within the body of the email. This would eliminate the need for subscribers to clickthrough to the subscriptions page, and hopefully increase participation.

Another option? Renaming the newsletters so they are more self-explanatory and adding them as options directly on the subscribe CTA. This would eliminate the need for a welcome email and lower the barrier to entry.

3) We need to up the open rate.

The open rate for the new email sends exceed that of our existing Weekly subscription, but fell short of the Daily, proving it’s hard to stay top-of-mind when people aren’t hearing from you every single day.

To solve for this, we’re already experimenting with different days of the week to determine the best possible time to send these emails. We’re also exploring different subject line formats aimed at piquing interest and upping opens.

Variant A
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Variant B
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Results: Variant A (with the emojis) outperformed Variant B.

4) We need to find a way to introduce subscription tailoring to checkbox subscribers.

A look at the early numbers revealed that nearly 60% of our subscribers were coming in through the checkbox on our lead gen forms. After a discussion with our nurturing marketers, we opted to auto-subscribe these folks to receive the Get All of Them newsletter, rather than hitting them with two emails.

On a larger scale, we’re looking at ways to create smart, all-in-one kick back emails to be sent when a visitor takes an action that would typically prompt multiple follow up emails — for example, downloading an offer and subscribing to the blog at the same time. This internal project would give us the opportunity to introduce our subscription newsletters to all new subscribers, including those converting on the subscriber checkbox.

As a more immediate solution, we’ve started to add a snippet of text at the top of each email that encourages folks to check out the subscription preferences page if they wish to receive more personalized content.

Try, Try Again

It’s safe to say the road to a better, more personalized email subscription hasn’t been easy. There have been setbacks and curveballs, but mostly importantly, there’s been progress. We look forward to continuing to iterate on our new model in an effort to create an email subscription that people actually look forward to.

Want to check out the new subscription for yourself? Subscribe here and let us know what you think.

To learn more about the transactional email add-on, contact your CSM.

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What Is Channel Strategy? What Marketers Should Know

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Be honest. Do you know what your non-marketing colleagues do all day?

Sure, you might have a general idea of what your co-workers in sales, finance, and HR do, at least categorically. But it seems that many of us — myself included — have those days, weeks, and months when we’re so bogged down in our own daily hustle, that we become a bit oblivious to what everyone else around us is working on. After all, that’s probably why the phrase, “put your blinders on” exists.

But while a colleague’s job might look different from our own, there’s actually quite a bit that we, as marketers, can learn from them. One of those things is channel strategy. New Call-to-action

That’s why I recently sat down with my colleague, Adrianne Ober, a Channel Consultant here at HubSpot. After speaking with her about what she does every day — and about the most important knowledge she’s gained in this role — I’ve realized that there are a lot of channel strategy lessons that marketers can apply to their own work.

So, what did we learn? Read on to find out — or listen to our interview with Adrianne by pressing “play” below.

What Is Channel Strategy?

A channel strategy, according to TechTarget, “is a vendor’s plan for moving a product or a service through the chain of commerce to the end customer.”

In many environments, this kind of channel strategy takes the form of a reselling program — here at HubSpot, we work with Marketing Agency Partners who not only grow with HubSpot software but also, teach their clients how they, too, can be more successful with it.

That’s where channel consultants like Ober come in. “My role is a combination of an account manager and an implementation specialist,” Ober explains, but her day-to-day work encompasses much more than that. “Our focus is to work with our new Agency Partners, to onboard them to the program and support their reselling and delivery efforts.”

Reselling programs aren’t exactly uncommon, especially within tech companies, but what makes Ober’s job different is its true partnership nature. “We really do invest a ton more than other companies do in their partner programs,” she says, “to ensure they are getting the most out of it to help grow their businesses.”

What Can Marketers Learn From a Channel Consultant?

Building Your Own Channel Strategy

Not all marketers work for agencies, but many of us are responsible for positioning our respective products and services as solutions for our target audiences. For example, HubSpot’s Marketing Software provides automation solutions for marketers — what solutions does your organization offer?

In a way, channel strategy could be described as a formal approach to word-of-mouth marketing. How can you provide solutions to your customers that they, in turn, can share with and provide to their own networks? Ober challenges and encourages marketers to ask that question, find the best answer, and make it a reality.

There’s a “relationship-building aspect” of every marketer’s job, she explains, even for those who don’t work with customers directly. Chances are, you’re still responsible for crafting the messages and content that’s going to reach customers, and ultimately, that’s one way for brands to build a relationship with a target audience — by establishing themselves as a trustworthy, shareable resource for solving problems and meeting needs.

But where can marketers begin? “Product knowledge is … imperative,” Ober says. Start by becoming an expert in the solutions provided by your organization — not just the products and services you offer, but also, with the industry at-large. “We need to be comfortable with usage and training,” she explains, in order to establish that trust with both current and potential customers.

A Marketer’s Biggest Pain Points

The thing about HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program — one that even I’m guilty of forgetting — is that its channel consultants work with marketers, day in and day out. That means people in Ober’s position hear about the most common struggles faced by marketers every day and are tasked with proactively offering solutions.

So not only can marketers stand to benefit by implementing their own strategies — but speaking with people like Ober, it turns out, can help us to take a step back, examine our biggest pain points, and figure out how to efficiently tackle them.

“The biggest struggles I hear about are pricing, process, scaling, hiring, and time management,” she explains. In other words: growing pains. “In order for agencies to scale their businesses, they need to develop a repeatable process, which means they need to have a handle on time management for their team and make the right hires at the right time.”

Sound familiar? Maybe that’s why growth marketing is such a hot topic right now — no matter the size of the company they work for, it seems that these are pains experienced by a number of marketers. Those working in SMBs are often tasked with many of the responsibilities mentioned by Ober to help their employers grow. And those working for larger organizations, while not necessarily tasked with growing the business, are often tasked with building, executing, and growing new campaigns and initiatives.

That’s why it’s so important, Ober says, to make time for the learning process, no matter how “underwater” marketers tend to feel when they’re facing deadlines and other time-sensitive priorities.

“Our most successful partners make the time to build their process, invest in the education we provide for their team and take the time to price their services appropriately,” she says. “Marketers can and should make time to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry [they work in], connect with peers, and read up on trends.”

A Similar Skill Set

Finally, I asked Ober, “What else can marketers learn from a channel consultant?” To answer that, she pointed to many of the skills required of her job that overlap with those most crucial to a marketer’s success.

“This role requires us to confidently assess a marketing strategy as it relates to the overall goals,” she says, “whether it’s for a Partner Agency’s own marketing or one of their clients.”

And no matter what their industry, it seems that skill is highly valuable to all marketers — to be able to objectively measure their own strategies, and to figure out what is (not) working.

And “even more so,” Ober explains, is the shared, necessary ability of both marketers and channel consultants “to recommend the right tools and approach to go with the strategy.”

But doing that requires a high-level of communication skills, whether you’re making these recommendations to customers, your colleagues, or your boss. “We need to be able to [identify] not only where these gaps may be,” Ober points out, but also to align them with goals. Skilling up in those areas, she says, can ultimately help marketers accurately evaluate the feasibility of a situation, whether it’s marketing strategy or budget — or being able to predict how (and if) your brand will resonate with a given audience.

Looking Forward

With INBOUND on the horizon, Ober says she’s looking forward to discussing channel strategy and exchanging knowledge with industry professionals.

“I love seeing my Partners in person,” she shares. “I’m excited to talk with them about some products that were teased last year and are in beta now.”

But maybe even more than that, is how excited she is to hear about other marketers’ ideas.

“INBOUND is a place for peers to connect, and [we all] come away from the event with a ton of ideas,” she says, “and, as a result, a ton of motivation to dig in.”

Have you used channel strategy or consulting? Let us know in the comments.

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The Next Wave in Digital Agency Marketing: Brick-and-Mortar Pop-Ups

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At this point, everyone knows that e-commerce is no longer “the next big thing” — it’s the current big thing. eMarketer estimates e-commerce sales will reach $4.058 trillion in 2020, or 14.6 percent of total retail projections for that year.

The e-commerce space is a hot, crowded market, and the brands that rise to the top will have to be able to cultivate a loyal and rabid fan base. As an agency pro, it’s your job to help your clients grow that base.

You’re probably already killing it using social media, paid advertising, and other digital tools and techniques. However, when even those tried-and-true channels become stale, it’s time to step outside of what we do every day to gain a new perspective.

One way to do that is by placing your clients in a physical location — at least temporarily. 

Thinking outside the box in this way helps them build stronger relationships with their customers, as well as connect organically with fans of similar brands. While people like to purchase online for the convenience, the truth is that many consumers would love to be able to touch, smell, and see whatever it is they’re buying in person.

Building a Concrete Case for Brick-and-Mortar 

According to Retail Dive’s Consumer Survey, 62 percent of consumers want to examine and try out items before buying. Researching products online is key, but most people enjoy the tactile experience of hunting for them and actually touching them.

Shopping is a form of recreation for much of America. One could go so far as to say that America’s real favorite pastime involves going to a store, browsing the options, picking things up, and putting them back — all of which can increase brand awareness and tighten the bond between the brand and the consumer, even if it doesn’t result in a sale.

Of course, e-commerce brands are online for a reason, so diving into brick-and-mortar storefronts may not be in their business plan. That’s why agencies should use physical locations to cross-promote their e-commerce brands. It’s not about making a complete pivot to brick-and-mortar locations — it’s about making a brand’s presence known in a clear and tangible way and boosting consumer interest by bringing related brands together under one roof.

We did this recently at Hawke Media with a new initiative called The Nest. Basically, we took the co-living and co-working cooperative trend to the next level and offered our clients an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a co-retail space.

Launching a Pop-Up Store That Performs

For our recurring pop-up retail space, we curate 10 complementary client brands — including fashion, lifestyle, health, and beauty brands for both men and women — and bring them together seamlessly, without any direct competition.

Every brand has its own custom-tailored space in the store, but we chose certain design elements that lend overall cohesion to the layout of the shop. We produce six in-house events featuring live music, drinks, and giveaways, beginning with a kickoff where each brand can invite 150 guests so there are supporters of each one in attendance.

By launching The Nest, we helped our clients provide a new experience to their customers and cross-pollinate with fans of other brands with minimal involvement on their part. We reached more than 2,800 new customers in person, as well as hundreds of thousands of people on social media.

Before you can make physical cross-promotion work effectively, you have to identify the right e-commerce clients by asking two questions:

  • Who needs a physical touchpoint the most?
  • Who will be able to capitalize fully?

Identify brands that currently sell only online but whose products would benefit from being seen and felt in a brick-and-mortar space. Sometimes, it’s difficult to adequately convey their subtle, yet tangible, selling points in the digital realm. Consider the scent of a candle, the taste of craft tea, or the comfort of a hoodie.

Putting clients who sell products such as these into a physical space allows them to establish a connection with a larger pool of potential customers and really showcase what makes them so unique.

Brand buy-in is vital. A lot of e-commerce companies disregard brick-and-mortar options altogether, and that’s OK. They know their space and where they have the best chance of success, so they’re probably not the ones you would ask to pursue a physical channel.

With The Nest, we drove the promotion and awareness-building efforts surrounding the space, and the brands brought in the people and inventory. If the brands aren’t all-in on maximizing the effort to make the experiment work for them, it will weaken the experience for everyone.

Find clients who are excited to try new things and willing to experiment. Collaboration is also key; brands have to be willing to cross-promote each other and share the wealth. The right brands will make any physical location the place to be.

The Keys to Cross-Pollination

Co-retailing is not about huge spikes in revenue: It’s about the experience and about cross-pollinating customers from brand to brand.

Remember these three key points to keep your agency and your brands focused on the goals of a temporary pop-up store:

1) Encourage brands to invite their most ravenous customers. 

In order for brands to cross-pollinate, they have to bring out people who care about the whole industry, not just their brand. If only friends, family, and targeted shoppers show up, they won’t engage with the other brands in the space.

2) Promote it as a social experience. 

People love farmers markets and festivals for a reason: The experience of browsing is often as good as gaining access to the products. Encourage your brands to re-create that experience, and include brands with broad social reach that will entice even more followers to come out. If you have 10 brands, and each introduces 50 of its own fans to another brand, you’ve helped each brand reach 450 new potential customers.

3) Focus on awareness. 

This is a play for attracting customers, not a direct attribution play. When you gather your brands together, it gives their super fans the ability to form connections with other brands. It’s not about driving a direct response, building revenue, or fueling sales; it’s about letting people experience the product and the brand’s culture. Accentuate visual, aural, auditory, or olfactory features — anything that affects the senses will strengthen the connections formed in the space.

As a digital agency, you’re already taking all of the essential steps to serve your clients. But every other digital agency is serving its clients with the same tactics. Doing the same things your competitors do means settling for the same returns or worse. You need novel ways to help your clients’ brands take flight.

Creating a co-retail space was one of the best things we’ve done for our clients in the last year. Opening up to new fan bases lifted everyone’s brand awareness, and allowing customers to see, feel, taste, and experience their products deepened connections.

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12 Brainstorming Techniques for Unearthing Better Ideas From Your Team

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If you want to hold brainstorms that unearth better, more creative ideas, it all starts with the people in the room. Like, the actual number of people in the room.

That’s my first tip for you: Follow the “pizza rule” for brainstorming. If you’re unfamiliar with the “pizza rule,” it’s the idea that if you have more people in a room than you could feed with a pizza, there are too many people in that room to hold a productive meeting.

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The same rule goes for a brainstorming session: If you’ve got a dozen people sitting around a table, expect a really long list of truly mediocre ideas.

So, what else can you do other than bribe a group of two to six people with pizza to unearth good ideas? So glad you asked.

12 Team Brainstorming Techniques for Getting to Good Ideas

1) Invite a diverse group of people.

If your team works on all of the same projects together, goes to team meetings together, sits next to each other in the office, and hangs out in the same group chats all day … well, needless to say, the ideas will likely start to get pretty homogenous.

Instead, invite new people from other teams to your brainstorms — people with different skill sets and experiences to help get you out of your rut and see things in a new way. It’ll give you that great mix of new perspectives and contextual knowledge that’ll help you land on ideas that are both original and doable.

2) Keep the meeting to 22(ish) minutes.

Nicole Steinbok advocates this technique, and it’s one I’ve used with positive results. (I usually round up to 30 minutes, but what’s a few minutes among friends?) It works particularly well for people like myself that thrive under the threat of a deadline.

In my experience, having a limited amount of time to brainstorm only works if all participants are actually ready for the meeting. (More on that in a minute.) But two other tenets Steinbok harps on are a no-laptop rule, and a no off-topic-banter rule. While some might disagree with the latter, I have found that aggressive time constraints help keep people on task and delivering their best ideas as a result.

3) Provide context and goals well before the meeting.

“Well before the meeting” doesn’t mean that morning. Offer any pertinent information at least two business days in advance so people have a fighting chance at actually being prepared for the brainstorm.

In addition to providing any reading materials or contextual information that help set up the reason for the brainstorm (and explicitly asking that they read it, too), describe what the ideal outcome of the meeting looks like. This will help people come into the meeting understanding the scope of what you’re all trying to do. I think you’ll find this helps you avoid wasting time catching everyone up so you can get to the brainstorm right away.

If necessary, run your meeting like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and dedicate 30 minutes specifically to quietly reading in a group to bring everyone together — especially if they won’t have time to read before the meeting.

4) Ask people to come prepared with some ideas.

Often, great ideas don’t show themselves when you ask them to. They pop up on the train, in the shower, while you’re watching TV … basically any time you’re not actually trying to come up with the idea.

This is one reason why it’s good to provide a few days of lead-time before your meeting, but it’s also why you might want to explicitly ask people to think of some ideas beforehand. With this approach, you might find that you start the meeting off with pretty strong ideas from the get-go, and the group can add to and modify them to make them even stronger. In fact, this hybrid brainstorming approach was found to be more effective in a University of Pennsylvania study.

Frankly, I’ve also found that when everyone comes in cold turkey, the brainstorm often ends with a long list of very uninspired ideas. At the very least, whoever runs the brainstorm should come with a few ideas to kick off the brainstorm and give an indication of what a good idea looks like.

5) Say “no” to the bad ideas. Fast.

It might be brainstorm heresy to recommend people squash bad ideas, but I’ve seen one too many brainstorms go astray because people are too scared to say “no.” This is particularly important if you’re trying to run a quick brainstorm session.

Yes, there’s a fine line: Squashing bad ideas could lead people to fear speaking up, missing out on good ideas as a result. But if you’re giving every idea equal due regardless of merit, then you get off-track real fast and end up down a bad idea rabbit hole.

Better brainstorms that yield better ideas leave time to nurture the strongest inclinations.

On that note …

6) Foster an environment where bad ideas are okay.

Yes, you should call out bad ideas. But you should also make it okay that people had them. Call out your own ideas, in fact. If people can speak freely, but not feel stupid for doing so, you’ll get more ideas out — which makes it more likely you’ll land on a good one.

7) Lean into constraints.

If you have every resource and opportunity in the world, creativity will naturally stifle. Lay out the constraints you’re working within in terms of goals and resources for executing any idea you come up with. Then, try to see those as opportunities for creativity instead of roadblocks that make it impossible to come up with a good idea.

8) Lean into silence.

Anyone in sales already knows: Silence is power. In a brainstorm, silences are times when people get thinking done — either about their own ideas, or how to build on the last idea that came up.

And hey, it might also encourage more people to speak up with an idea, just out of their hatred of uncomfortable silences.

9) Lean into failure … outside of the brainstorm.

If you have a team where taking smart risks — regardless of outcome — is rewarded, people will have a better sense of what ideas are worth pursuing and what’s worth passing on. Because, you know, they do it a lot and get a second sense for these things.

If experimentation is a part of your team culture, that’ll manifest itself in better ideas than if your team is stuck in stasis. You’ll have better brainstorms where creative and smart, yet risky ideas come out.

10) Be prepared to ditch the meeting altogether.

Sometimes in-person meetings aren’t the right format for unearthing good ideas. Certain brainstorms can be better performed digitally.

For example, we often resort to Google Docs or Slack for brainstorms when curating blog post or title ideas across a large group of people. There’s really no need to pull everyone away from their work to participate in a brainstorm like that — and the benefit is that people can participate on their own time, when they’re ready and eager to contribute ideas, not when the meeting happens to occur.

11) Provide a place for anonymous submissions.

For some people, the “right” format might be an anonymous submission. Provide a place for anonymous idea submission both before and after the meeting. People might have some ideas that they’re reticent to bring up in front of the group. It’d be a shame to miss out on those ideas due to shyness, discomfort, or simply a preference for writing out ideas instead of speaking about them. This is easy to set up through a Google form.

12) Be prepared to pursue absolutely nothing that came out of that brainstorm.

Don’t feel like you have to choose and pursue an idea just because you had a brainstorm. If the brainstorm didn’t yield any good ideas, that’s fine. It wasn’t a waste of time. But you will waste your time if you pursue an idea that isn’t worth doing. Moving forward with the lesser of all evils is still … evil.

Instead, do some reflection on your own about why the ideas aren’t ready to see the light of day, and see if any are worth more thought before ditching them. Perhaps you’ll get another group of people in a room to iterate on them — or even the same group once they’ve had some distance from the ideas. Now that ideas have started flowing, you might find a second round of brainstorming yields something even better.

What other tips do you have for getting more out of brainstorms? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Why Brands and Influencers Are Leaving Snapchat for Instagram Stories

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If you’ve been following the HubSpot Marketing Blog, you already know there’s a battle going on — between Facebook and Snapchat over the disappearing message.

And so far, Facebook’s winning the battle — all because of Instagram.

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When Instagram Stories launched in August 2016, Snapchat had already been the first mover in the ephemeral, or disappearing, messaging space since Snapchat Stories were created in 2013. Fast forward to Snapchat’s March 2017 initial public offering (IPO), and Snapchat user growth had slowed significantly — and Instagram Stories’ user growth was rapid and nonstop in the meantime (to date, there are roughly 40 million more Instagram Stories users than Snapchat users).

Today, Snapchat faces an uphill battle: Instagram has more users in total, and more Instagram Story users alone. Plus, Instagram and Snapchat are now competing to roll out new features — and to copy features from each other. In the last month alone, both apps rolled out features that were original, and some that were inspired by the other app.

Snapchat started the disappearing messaging wave, but it doesn’t mean brands are staying exclusive. In fact, a lot of brands have already talked and written about decisions to prioritize Instagram Stories over Snapchat for ephemeral messaging and advertising.

In this post, we’ll dive into brands and marketers making the switch — and the reasons why.

Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories

In essence, both apps and features function in the same way:

  • On both platforms, users and brands can post photos and videos that are viewable for 24 hours.
  • Videos can be up to 10 seconds in length.
  • Photos and videos can be embellished with doodles, emojis, geotags, lenses, and text.
  • Media is visible to the public, unless you make your Instagram or Snapchat account private.
  • Both apps let users search through public stories, and see what other users and brands are sharing about.

But there are a few differences worth pointing out, too:

  • It’s slightly easier to search for and discover new users on Instagram than on Snapchat, where you have to spell out the exact username.
  • Instagram allows brands to attach to links and landing pages to their Stories.
  • Instagram permits clickable hashtags and geotags to be added to Stories — on Snapchat, they’re manually searchable.
  • Instagram Stories are an addition to an existing photo and video-sharing platform — Snapchat is only about ephemeral content-sharing.

As we’ve mentioned, Instagram Stories alone have more users than Snapchat, and some brands are starting to move their ephemeral messaging strategies away from Snapchat to reside primarily or completely on Instagram Stories.

6 Reasons Users Are Switching to Instagram Stories

1) Greater Scale

The simple fact that Instagram has such a big user base — 700 million and counting, to be exact — automatically made it a formidable Snapchat competitor. Instagram Stories creators had instant access to their audiences on the platform when they started posting ephemeral messages, and it caught on quickly — over 200 million Instagram users are posting Stories.

When compared to Snapchat, where brands had to create new followings from scratch, Instagram offers some brands greater reach and scale to connect with people on social media.

That’s what Ben and Jerry’s found out when it started creating content on Instagram Stories. The brand’s senior global marketing manager, Jay Curley, told Digiday about the success it had seen in achieving better results at a greater scale on the platform. He said ads on Instagram Stories were particularly successful and achieved a “higher CPM (cost per impression) rate than usual.” In general, Curley told Digiday, the brand’s large number of Instagram followers were already engaging and interacting with Instagram Stories, so they’d continue creating content there to “serve up relevant stories to [their] fans wherever they are.”

2) Better Targeting

Instagram is part of the Facebook ecosystem, which means its content and ad targeting capabilities are part of Facebook’s platform — which is robust, to say the least (just look at all the ways you can target ads illustrated in this Wordstream infographic). It also means Instagram ads can be targeted and curated based on users’ data on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Snapchat has only just launched a self-serve ad platform in May 2017, making it easier for advertisers to purchase and create ad space on the platform, so we can’t say for certain which offers a better user experience for brands. But when you consider the wealth of data behind billions of Facebook and Instagram users combined against Snapchat’s data of only 166 million users, Instagram’s targeting takes the cake.

Mediassociates’ senior vice president of marketing and content, Ben Kunz, told Digiday that Instagram also offered users more flexible ad buying options. Instagram ads can be purchased on a cost-per-click basis, in addition to the cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis — making Instagram ads potentially more valuable, since brands only have to pay for the ads that users actually interact with.

The bottom line, for Kunz, is data. He told Digiday, “it’s not the ‘billboard’ space that matters; it’s the quality of the data behind it. Better audience data always equals better advertising performance.”

3) More Traffic

Another benefit to Instagram’s larger audience is its ability to drive more traffic to brands’ websites and landing pages. Social media helps drive brand awareness on its own, and Instagram Stories also added the ability for brands to link to web pages — making it undeniably easier for audiences to find and interact with brands on their sites, too.

Instagram also offers brands a unified dashboard where they can easily view analytics of Story and ad performance in one place — and see which Stories are driving visitors to websites.

Marissa Emanuele manages social media at Pegasystems, and she’s switched from Snapchat to Instagram Stories for these reasons. “The analytics on Instagram can’t be matched by Snapchat yet. Plus, Instagram Stories let you link to blog posts or landing pages, so you can drive traffic directly from social.”

4) More Discoverability

Snapchat and Instagram are racing to innovate new features — and copy features from one another. Snapchat created a search bar and universal Stories to help users find new content and accounts to follow, and Instagram rolled out Location and Hashtag Stories to do the same — with a key difference.

Users can tap geotags and hashtags on Instagram Stories, and navigate to see what other users are posting about the location or topic — on Instagram, or within Stories. Snapchat users can head to the search bar to choose locations and events, and see what Stories users are posting … but they can’t do it directly from within the Snapchat Story they’re watching.

This extra manual step makes getting found and discovered on Snapchat that much harder than it is on Instagram, making Instagram more compelling for brands that seek to build up and engage a broader audience.

5) More Authentic

Snapchat’s means of monetization lies within the Discover tab and in Snapchat Stories, and some users have cited a better, more authentic experience on Instagram Stories. Instagram users can easily jump between ephemeral content on Instagram Stories and curated, beautiful photos on the Instagram feed, and auto-advance through Instagram Stories seamlessly without being interrupted by ads. Plus, Instagram’s Explore tab suggests new content and users, so the experience isn’t interrupted and inundated by low-quality ads.

Owen Williams cited a lack of authenticity as his reason for moving from Snapchat to Instagram Stories. “Now you’re forced to pick which stories to watch end-to-end before even starting, and it’s filled with either advertisements between each one, or … clickbait.”

6) More User-Friendly

Perhaps the most compelling reason brands are moving from Snapchat to Instagram is that it’s easier to use than Snapchat.

Instagram has made it easier to add new followers, watch (and re-watch) content, share Stories, and reply to Stories. The discoverability discussed previously makes it easier to attract new followers, and for users, it’s easier to find and connect with content they’re interested in checking out. The power of Instagram’s huge network makes it easier for brands and users to get what they want out of social media — to be social.

Social media influencer Erica Moss switched to Instagram because she got a better user experience there:

While Snapchat was busy pretending to be exclusive and untouchable, Instagram leveled up on its broad appeal and user-friendliness to replicate — and improve — the ephemeral photo and video experience. After some testing on my personal Snapchat and Story, Instagram was the clear winner with higher view counts (by about 3X) and more comments. From a brand perspective, any users who follow you on Instagram are already opted into your Story, and the auto-advance feature means if you focus on creating great content, you’ll remain top of mind in a more authentic way.”

Snapchat’s Not Over Yet

Just because Instagram might be a better fit for brands and social media marketers specifically, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon efforts on Snapchat entirely. Audiences on Snapchat are highly engaged — users spend an average of 25-30 minutes per day on the app. So if you’ve built an audience there, don’t abandon them altogether, but see if you can keep them engaged while also building an Instagram Story following.

Emanuele noted the importance of meeting your audience where they already are. “If you’ve built an audience on Snapchat, you should still post from time to time to keep them engaged.”

Whether you’re fully invested in Instagram Stories, or are still engaged with your Snapchat audience, our advice for social media strategy is to experiment, analyze the results, and make changes from there. We’ll keep you posted about new innovations on both platforms to help make the decision easier. For more information on how to grow your ephemeral messaging followings, download our guides to using Snapchat and Instagram for business.

Have you switched to Instagram Stories, or are you a Snapchat loyalist? Share with us in the comments below.

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Copywriting for Conversions: 9 Ways Emotion and Word Count Affect Your Landing Pages [New Data]

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We all know that words matter — in life, but also in marketing.

When it comes to landing page copy, many a debate have begun over which words to choose, the context in which they’re used, the order they’re presented in and the amount you use to convey a message.

“Shorter is always better — no one has the attention span to read hundreds of words!”

“Longform pages get better results!”

“Use fear to persuade readers to act!

“Forget fear, pull at their heartstrings!”

The truth is, these quote-unquote best practices are the result of gut instinct and a ton of trial and error. And what works for one industry might not work for the next. So even if so-and-so does figure out the key to high-converting real estate landing pages, that same key might not unlock the full potential of your legal landing page.

I get it, you need more granular, data-backed insights to help inform your marketing copy. Hell, we need data-backed insights.

So we did a thing.

With the help of Machine Learning model and an Emotion Lexicon, Unbounce data scientists analyzed the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages to reveal what kind of emotional language is effective across 10 popular industries.

They looked at eight basic emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust) and analyzed how copy associated with these emotions affected user behavior. Specifically, they looked at how language associated with these emotions correlated with the number of users who converted on a page. Not only that, they looked at how word count affected conversions — helpful for marketers and copywriters alike.

Download the full report here, or check out some of the juicy insights below.

9 Industry-Specific Takeaways About How Emotion and Word Count Affect Conversions

1) In the Travel Industry, Keep Language Positive

Our findings showed that if even 1% of page copy evoked feelings of anger or fear, conversion rates could be up to 25% lower.

anger-image-updated.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Some of the keywords that evoke fear or anger include: “limited,” “money,” “hot,” “desert,” “endless,” “challenge,” “treat,” “fee,” “rail,” “bear,” “buffet,” “bang,” “cash” and “despair.”

(I don’t know about you, but limited money, hot deserts, and endless fees sure sound terrible to me.)

On the opposite side of the spectrum, words that established trust include: “enjoy,” “secret,” “top,” “guide,” “save,” “personal,” “spa,” “policy,” “provide,” “star,” “award,” “friendly” and “recommend.”

Keep in mind, though, this data was generated by an algorithm, so if you’re using it as a jumping off point for optimization, use your best judgement.

2) Don’t Disgust in Business Consulting

Business consultants get a bad rap. Television shows like House of Lies paint an image of the cutthroat consultant out to make a buck.

Whether or not this has any impact on conversion rates, we’ll never know for sure. What we do know, however, is that you should probably avoid words associated with disgust.

disgust-new.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

The study found that words like “blame,” “cheat,” “collapse,” “disaster” and “offend” tend to negatively affect conversions.

Which, when you look at them together like that, is not all that surprising.

3) Fear mongering doesn’t lead to more conversions (most of the time)

Words associated with fear often had a negative impact on conversions, particularly in Health, Legal and Travel.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 2.25.07 PM.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

In Business Consulting, however, we found that filling between 1% to 2% of your copy with words that create a deep-seated sense of fear and unease can actually help conversion rates.

So, certainly don’t be liberal with the scary words, but you might see improvement with a little peppering here and there.

4) Shoot for Short and Sweet Business Services Pages

When it comes to Business Services, treat your landing page like an elevator pitch and keep the copy tight and concise.

word-count.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Data showed that overall, pages with fewer than 100 words convert 50% better than those with more than 500 words.

And when you’re considering words to cut or keep, keep in mind that words that evoke trust may have a positive effect on your conversion rates. The caveat? You have to be extremely trustworthy, meaning more than 8% of your language needs to imply trust — words like “leading,” “compliance,” “account,” “powerful” and “maintenance.”

5) Spread the Joy of Higher Education

Advancing one’s education is a beautiful thing, so it’s no surprise that words associated with joy correlated with higher conversion rates on average in the Higher Education industry.

joy-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Words associated with joy commonly found on Higher Education pages include “scholarship,” “graduation,” “share,” “succeed,” “success” and “excellence.”

6) Trust Words Work in Some Industries … But Not Others

Using words that subconsciously evoke feelings of trust can lead to higher conversion rates in the Travel and Business Services industries.

In Credit & Lending, however, trust words can hurt conversions:

trust-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

The study showed that words which reinforce a sense of trust should be used strategically and sparingly — for up to 3% of your copy. Anything beyond that resulted in up to 10% lower conversion rates.

Among the common words associated with trust in Credit & Lending were “advice,” “pay,” “cash,” “lender,” “law,” “fixed” and “council.”

7) Keep Copy Concise in Credit & Lending

Analysis of thousands of lead generation landing pages in Credit & Lending revealed that less copy is often correlated with more conversions.

In fact, the study found that while keeping to under 400 words is good, pages below 100 words have nearly double the conversion rate.

word-count-2.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

8) Avoid buzzwords in Business Consulting

If you work in the Business Consulting industry, you may think that words like “predict,” “attainable,” “achievement,” “exceed” and “excel” help hype your offering, but your audience may perceive these as empty buzzwords.

The report showed that pages with more than 1.5% of copy building a sense of anticipation around the offer were correlated with pages with up to 25% lower conversion rates.

anticipation-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

9) Joy Isn’t Always a Conversion Booster

Although joy had a positive impact on conversion rates for the Higher Education industry, having too many words associated with joy is correlated with fewer conversions in the Legal and Home Improvement industries.

joy-chart-2.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

In Home Improvement in particular, the best converting pages tend to have less than 1% of their copy communicating joyful concepts. Words associated with joy for Home Improvement included sun, perfect, satisfied, money, pay, special, safe, happy and more.

Choose Your Words Wisely

When it comes to writing marketing copy that converts, no word should be selected without a purpose in mind. As you build your landing pages, make sure you’re giving extra consideration to how each and every word will affect your target audience and influence conversions. 

Did any of the data surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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How to Work with Influencers: The Ultimate Guide

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How much digital content do you consume on a daily basis?

It’s tough to put a number on that, isn’t it? Here’s an even tougher question: How much of that content do you genuinely trust — especially when it comes to an investment in a product or a service?

According to Twitter, if you really only trust your friends and family for this information, you’re part of the majority. But if you also have the highest trust in influencers for these recommendations, you’re far from alone — 49% of survey respondents are right there with you.

But what is an “influencer”? According to NeoReach, it’s “an individual with an online presence who has the potential to influence the opinions and behaviors of your target audience.” Because these folks — like bloggers and social media personalities — build a following over a long period of time by producing interesting, quality content, people begin to trust them. They’re relatable, and their opinions become respected. New Call-to-action

That’s why brands see the value of turning to influencers to reach or engage new audiences — it’s a way to broadcast their messages as told by an authoritative source that people actually pay attention to. And no matter your industry, there’s likely an opportunity for your brand to connect and collaborate with influencers. Below, we’ve outlined seven tactics to try.

7 Ways to Work with Influencers

1) Gifting Goods and Services

One of the easiest way to expose your brand to potential customers is to get it into the hands of the influencers it listens to. Identify bloggers who share the same aesthetic as your brand — if they love your gifted goods and services, that’s likely to give them a reason to share positive feedback about it with their readers and viewers. That makes research a crucial first step to finding an influencer, since you’ll want an influential partner with whose audience you’ll resonate. For example, if you work for a company that manufactures auto parts, it might not make sense to partner with a fashion blogger.

But whether you’re gifting a tour of your facility or free product, you’ll want to work with bloggers that produce high-quality content — the goal is to make the influential messaging about your brand highly shareable.

It’s important to note, however, that gifting goods and services doesn’t guarantee exposure. While many influencers will accept gifts, that doesn’t equate with a promise of editorial coverage. In fact, some prefer to be paid for coverage in addition to any gifts they receive — some influencers with followers in the millions, for example, receive an average of $100,000 for a earned post (that’s what it’s called when a brand receives, or earns a mention from an influencer). So if you’re new to influencer partnerships, or your budget is limited, don’t be afraid to start on a smaller scale.

Communication is imperative throughout the process of discovering and working with an influencer. If you don’t have a ton of merchandise to give away, get in touch with the blogger before sending out gifts to agree on specifics first. That way, if the person really wants to charge you, you can do some math on your end to determine the ROI of the partnership.

Here’s an example of this technique. When TomTom gifted influential “lifestyle and fitness enthusiasts” with its new fitness tracker, 47% of whom shared it, that helped the brand gain exposure from numerous posts:

Source: IMA

2) Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts serve as a less labor-intensive way for brands to work with influencers — bloggers in particular. Essentially, a sponsored blog post is one that a blogger is paid to publish about a brand, on her own blog, in her own voice. And while you can supplement the influencer with important points you’d like her to cover in the post, writing the content in her own voice can help maintain a consistent appeal to her readers.

If the blogger is following FTC guidelines, however, she’ll have to include a small note somewhere in the post to indicate that the story was sponsored by the brand, but that the opinions expressed in the post are her own.

Partnering with bloggers on these types of posts can be great for gaining awareness and securing a few valuable links from authoritative domains.

Children’s book author Chiêu Anh Urban enlisted parenting bloggers to promote one of her activity books. Here’s an example of one such sponsored post from the blog Toddler Approved:

Chiêu Anh Urban.jpg

3) Product Reviews

While this technique is often a result of gifting, product reviews from influencers that align with your brand can serve as a powerful way to convince potential customers to buy your product or service. Remember, influencers have grown to become one of the most trusted online resources. And with 81% of shoppers conducting online research before making big purchases, the discovery of these reviews can — pardon the pun — influence their decisions. Here’s an example of how TechnologyAdvice reviewed accounting software platform Xero:

Again, merely sending your product to an influencer doesn’t guarantee coverage — you have to build communication and nurture the relationship. Also, make sure your brand will be portrayed in a positive light. While you can’t necessarily stop someone from producing a negative review of your product or service, you can get an idea of how a given influencer might talk about your brand by looking at her other reviews. If she’s generally not receptive to your type of product, then it might be best to look elsewhere.

4) Giveaways

At risk of sounding like a broken record: Sending products to an influencer, even for a giveaway, does not guarantee coverage. However, if an influencer agrees to work with you on a giveaway, it’s a great way to build excitement around your brand. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff?

It’s especially important here to partner with an influencer who aligns with your brand identity — if her audience isn’t a good fit for your product, there might not be a ton of enthusiasm around a chance to win something from you, even if it’s free. And when it come to deciding what to give away, we suggest a few guidelines:

  • Offer something of real value. You want to make it worth the audience’s time to enter.
  • Make sure it’s something you can afford to give away.
  • Remember that the influencer ultimately knows her audience better than you do, so be receptive to feedback regarding what she thinks you should be giving away.

As for the process of entering the giveaway, don’t make it too complicated for people to participate — but do require them to do something low-effort that somehow benefits your marketing goals. For example, if you want to increase your social media following on a specific channel, you can ask participants to post a photo on Instagram with a caption about the giveaway and a branded hashtag. Here’s an example of how the South Florida Lifestyle blog partnered with a number of brands on social media for a giveaway:

 

Summer Giveaway! HOW TO ENTER: 1.FOLLOW ALL OF US @south.florida.lifestyle @mumidesign @petite.chic.mom @active.sfl @me_and_kay @cocomingos @devonmariephotography @makeupbyrorylee @ourgirlsenrich 2.LIKE this photo on all accounts 3.TAG a friend and leave a COMMENT when you have completed the loop. Must be following ALL accounts in the loop to qualify. *Tagging of celebrity accounts, yourself and same person repeatedly, or other giveaway contestants will lead to disqualification. Must be 18+ to enter and have a US mailing address. This is not affiliated with Instagram in anyway and contestants must agree to Instagram’s terms of use. Giveaway ends Friday, June 2 at 6:30am. Winner will be messaged Friday night. . . . Lululemon Running hat, socks, glass water bottle from @active.sfl , large and small S’well Palm Beach Water Bottles and pool float from @south.florida.lifestyle ,set of 5 packing Cubes @mumidesign , $50 Nordstrom Gift Card from @petite.chic.mom , toddle dress and unisex baby onsies, teething toy from @cocomingos , girls bathing suit and necklace from @me_and_kay @devonmariephotography , makeup palette from @makeupbyrorylee , Dream book, pens, play makeup brushes and lip balm from @ourgirlsenrich . . #Giveaway #LoopGiveaway #FreePrizes #Shopgiveaway #SummerGiveaway #IGloops

A post shared by Active South Florida Lifestyle (@active.sfl) on May 31, 2017 at 3:30am PDT

If an influencer wants to be paid in exchange for including your brand in a giveaway, think about the work required on her end — she has to tease it, promote it, track responses, and pick a winner. Of course, compensation could be negotiable, but if this person has the right kind of reach, don’t immediately turn away a potential partnership because of the cost.

5) Influencer Competitions

Then, there’s another kind of contest — the kind that invites the influencers themselves to participate in a competition. The prize? That can be anything ranging from exclusive brand features on your channels, a chance to travel (on your dime, of course ) somewhere on behalf of the brand as an ambassador, or the opportunity to sit on a “best of” list, just to name a few options.

But remember, the best influencers get approached a lot, so be prepared to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Go equipped with information about your own reach, audience, and the ways that participation in a contest ultimately benefits the influencer.

Skype executed a promotion like this one with its “Your City, Your Passion” competition. Influencers around the world were encouraged to share why they’re so passionate about their respective cities, with the hope of winning a Skype session with a famed expert within their given field — for example, Epic Mealtime creator Darren Morenstein.

6) Guest Posts

When it comes to influential bloggers, one of the strongest ways to reach their respective audiences is by contributing a guest post on their publications. Not only can it help to establish you as an industry expert — one that’s legitimate enough to earn a byline on a highly-trusted platform — but also, it’s a way to gain backlinks from a high-authority site.

Again, this approach requires some research to find out whether or not a given blogger even accepts guest posts. Once you find one who does, the site might have editorial guidelines. Read those closely — editors are extremely busy and likely receive a high volume of pitches.

Back when his company was in its early stages, Videofruit founder Bryan Harris earned quite a name for himself after penning a guest post on the influential OkDork blog. According to Entrepreneur, Harris saw “astronomical” results within the same day his post was published:

  • A 500% increase in pageviews
  • A 600% increase in unique pageviews
  • A 6% decrease in bounce rate

7) Affiliate Marketing Programs

As a marketer, you may have come across the term “global affiliate network.” According to Rakuten Marketing, it’s essentially a system to “connect advertisers with publishers to reach new audiences and influence repeat purchases.” In other words, it helps brands that join the network connect with the influencers that best align with their products and services.

Many of these programs work on a cost-per-sale or cost-per-acquisition model, which means that you could incur a cost when you earn coverage from an influencer. Each network is different, so it might be worthwhile to explore those that have been named as top-ranked, like this list from mThink.

Invest in Influencer Marketing

There is a shift in how marketers are reaching consumers. With so much digital “noise,” especially from brands, customers like the marketing they come across to personally resonate with them — maybe that’s why, for example, the open rate for personalized emails is 6.2% higher than those that aren’t.

And that’s why consumers also turn to people that they know — or, at least, are familiar with, like influencers — for product and service recommendations. There’s reason to invest in partnering with content creators who fall within these trusted resources, to build awareness of your brand and what you produce. The options are plenty, but the key is finding the right partner, with the right audience.

How have you worked with influencers? Let us know in the comments.

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How to Get Promoted: Impress Your Boss by Doing These 7 Things

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I once made a really big hiring mistake.

After a series of promising interviews, I took on an intern whose level of professionalism, performance, and overall demeanor quickly took a turn for the worse. I discussed it with my supervisor, we agreed that it was in everyone’s best interests not to move forward with the internship.

However, when we sat her down to talk, she countered our concerns about her performance by saying, “But … I was driving all the way from [insert desolate location here] to get here every day.”

I recall staring at her blankly. Since when does the length of your commute warrant special praise? Download our free guide here for more interviewing and screening tips to build  your team.

We all wake up every morning, brush our teeth (hopefully), and make our way to work. However, the simple truth is that the act of “showing up” isn’t enough to propel career advancement. The most successful people earn the attention and respect of their bosses by proving they’re an asset to the team. So if you’ve ever entertained the thought of how to get promoted — or, at least, how to impress your boss — we’ve identified a few things every boss would love to see you doing.

How to Get Promoted With 7 Great Behaviors

1) Take ownership.

At HubSpot, we’ve been known to “fire” our best people.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

Here’s how it works: If you have a great idea — and you can prove that it actually delivers — you will be fired from your day job to own and grow that idea. After all, that’s what happened to HubSpot’s former VP of Sales, Pete Caputa. The story goes, according to CEO Brian Halligan speaking to Inc:

In 2008, one of our sales reps came to me with an idea that he believed could revolutionize HubSpot. At the time, we sold our software directly to consumers. But the rep, Pete Caputa, thought HubSpot should have a reseller channel in order to expand the business model. Basically, he wanted to sell our core product to third parties, who would then turn around and sell the product to their customers.”

Halligan was far from sold on the idea, but he decided to give Caputa an opportunity to prove himself. “If you want to do it so bad, start doing it nights and weekends and show us this will work,” he said.

Not long after accepting the challenge, Caputa was, in fact, encouraged to leave his day job here to grow what is now HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program.

Our point: Don’t be afraid to bring big ideas to the table. That’s the type of behavior that good bosses love to see because it illustrates your ability to solve problems for the business (and customers) on a high level. And while it’s easy to solve problems that specifically pertain to you and your reports, the goal is to identify and solve problems that influence the grand scheme of things. Think like a founder, and your boss will take note.

2) Support your colleagues.

Depending on your industry, getting ahead at work might sometimes feel like a dog-eat-dog type of situation. And while the old saying goes, “Nice guys finish last,” there is actually an opportunity for self-advancement through the act of helping others. Not to mention, if your boss catches you in the act, it can highlight your ability to be remarkably helpful: a trait almost every good boss cares about.

But don’t just take it from me. Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, also has something to say about it:

The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade.”

In this book, Grant dives into the idea that in the workplace, people can be divided into three categories: takers, matchers, and givers.

  • Takers are known to, well, take from other people.
  • Matchers are more apt to make even exchanges.
  • Givers separate themselves from the rest by doing good without expectations for reciprocation.

Grant goes on to provide examples of successful givers throughout history, such as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, venture capitalist David Hornik, and businessman Jon Huntsman, Sr. So do yourself a favor and dig into their accomplishments a bit — we have a hunch that it’ll inspire you to rethink the potential benefits of lending a helping hand.

3) Measure and report.

Not long ago, I swore I saw a notable actor from the TV show “Lost” on my flight.

I excitedly texted my friend to tell him, to which he replied, “Send pictures, or it didn’t happen.”

That request got me thinking about our innate desire to “see it to believe it.” If my own friend wouldn’t believe my claims without photo evidence, why would my boss simply take my word for it when it comes time to talk about my performance?

The simple truth: Most bosses are busy, leaving little time for them to investigate whether or not you’re accomplishing what you’re supposed to be accomplishing. If you’re not vocal (and visual) about your performance, you run the risk of going unnoticed. That’s why supervisors love to see employees who not only measure their efforts but also report on them. Clear, specific, goal-oriented reports serve as one of the most effective ways to communicate your progress and prove to your boss that you’re capable of taking on more.

In terms of what to include in these reports, focus on ROI. While vanity metrics like social media views might be worth noting for yourself, your boss wants to see how your efforts are specifically influencing the bottom line.

“Don’t just report on what you crossed off your to-do list, report on what those activities achieved. So often, young staff want to prove that they’re working,” explains HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson. “We know you’re working. We see it and are proud of you for it. Prove not that you’re working, but that what you are doing is working.”

4) Be proactive, not reactive.

“My kids will have chocolate dripping from their mouths, and I’ll say, ‘Did you just eat chocolate?'” Peter Bregman, author of Four Seconds, once recounted for HBR’s IdeaCast. “And they’ll be like, ‘No, I didn’t just eat chocolate.'”

What in the world does that have to do with impressing your boss? Well, it’s a silly, yet accurate example of how you sound when you’re being reactive — and maybe even a little defensive — rather than proactive. Not a situation you’d want to be caught in with your boss, right?

From a psychological perspective, we react to avoid punishment. It’s a direct result of the stimulation that our amygdala — a subcortical brain structure that is linked to both fear responses and pleasure — experiences when we’re caught off-guard. And while it’s unrealistic to assume that you’ll never be faced with a quick decision in front of your boss, proactive employees aim to control situations by causing things to happen, rather than waiting to respond after things happen.

What does that look like, though? Well, aside from taking steps to plan ahead and anticipate “what-ifs,” Bregman encourages people to pause for four seconds before responding to something. That way, you’re allowing yourself a moment to process the situation you’ve been faced with, which can help you strategically and intentionally choose the words that you’re going to say — instead of instinctively saying something that you don’t mean.

5) Make more with less.

Part of being a noteworthy employee is being able to adapt to the industry and company changes that, eventually, will come your way. Let’s say, for example, that your company runs into an unplanned expense, or an important member of the team unexpectedly gives her two weeks notice. That could certainly throw a wrench in your budget and bandwidth, couldn’t it?

Some employees might see these events as a huge setback — one that serves as an excuse for falling short on goals. But the most successful people find a way to do more with less — and the really successful people find a way to do better with less.

Take that hypothetical budgeting issue. If it forces you to reduce or reallocate funds for freelancers, don’t use it as an excuse to allow content production to come to a halt. Instead, consider what you can do to turn the situation around. Maybe you work toward creating one strong piece of content on your own, like an ebook, that can be repurposed as separate blog articles to fill your editorial calendar until the budget gets back to a healthy level. Or, what about reaching out to a co-marketing partner to join forces on a piece of content that benefits you both?

Another great way to demonstrate your ability to do more with less would be to scale back the average time of your meetings. According to the book Time Talent Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag & Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power, “the average organization spends 15% of its collective time in meetings.” That plays into the belief that simply working longer hours is comparable to doing more with less when really, it’s all about making better use of your time. Cutting your meeting time in half will force you to get to the point quicker — and leave you with extra time to allocate toward other projects and tasks.

Remember: Excuses don’t promote career advancement. Solutions do.

6) Welcome feedback.

I have a confession to make. I hate it when I don’t have the answer for something. I want to think I know everything — so when I’m faced with the reality that I don’t, admitting so is a bitter pill to swallow. But being able to do so is a big part of getting ahead.

That’s one reason why it can be so helpful to welcome third-party feedback when we need to know what we’re missing — like when you’ve worked on a long-term project, and you start to see any progress through rose-colored glasses. At that stage, it’s most helpful to invite an outsider in to poke holes in your approach. What’s working? What’s missing? What is needed to take this project from good to great?

According to Gallup, the most engaged employees are the ones who meet with their managers at least once a week — which suggests that both positive and negative feedback, as well as overall effective communication, plays an instrumental role in the way we perceive goals. Asking for that kind of time with your manager is a reasonable request, if you make it count. Make sure that you’re prepared to handle whatever feedback comes your way. While positive feedback is often pretty easy to accept, negative feedback can come as a challenge for many but is often the most valuable.

To ensure that you make the most out of constructive criticism, take note of the following tips:

  • Listen. Sure, it’s easy to tune someone out when you’re not particularly thrilled with what they are saying, but that doesn’t make it right. Give the person the respect she deserves by listening to what she has to say, before you interject.
  • Ask clarifying questions. If you don’t understand the point someone is trying to make, don’t hesitate to ask him to elaborate. Following up with questions will help to ensure that you both walk away on the same page.
  • Consider the source. All feedback is not created equal. While getting some honest feedback from a co-worker who knows little about your project may help you to identify weak spots, it’s important that you focus on the feedback coming from those to whom you report. In other words, give attention and energy where they’re due most.

7) Smile.

We hate to sound like a bunch of “Pollyannas,” but trust us: No supervisor wants to walk into an office and see a team of people that look like they are suffering through a dental appointment. Not only is it detrimental to company morale, but it also sends a signal that there’s something wrong with his management. If there is, that’s an important conversation to have — but not by going around looking like someone just asked you to spend the day watching paint dry.

At work (and at home), it’s important to try to focus on the positive, no matter what’s on your plate. According to a 2010 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, it pays to be positive — literally. Not only did it find that optimistically inclined MBA students have an easier time finding jobs compared to their peers, but also, they saw a 5-10% increase in the probability of being promoted over their pessimistic peers.

Note to Self: Keep On and Smile On

Research like the study cited above taps into the idea that success can correlate with an ability to stay positive, even when completing overwhelming tasks.

And really, those findings align with many of the behaviors we’ve covered here. Even when something happens at work to upset us, proactively addressing it is more likely to be productive than reactively sulking and wallowing in it.

It may sound cliche, but beneath most of these tips is the foundation of a good attitude. So the next time something at the office bums you out — or you’re searching for the best way to progress in your career — revisit this list to see what you can actively do about it.

What are your best tips on how to get promoted? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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