Hey Startups, HubSpot is now giving away free CRM + Email

Many founders make the same mistake in the early days of their companies — instead of building an integrated tech stack, they use a bunch of disconnected tools because these tools are cheap, or maybe even free.

I know because I made this mistake.

I started my first company in my early 20s. We were a web development shop building pretty cool technology, and yet could not figure out a good system to track our sales pipeline or manage leads. I actually taught our sales team a manual process that included flipbooks of business cards and tick sheets to track who needed a follow-up. 🤦

We also struggled to manage lead flow. While our WordPress site could collect leads, those leads didn’t automatically sync to a CRM (we didn’t even have one). Instead, leads were forwarded to our only marketer, who manually distributed them to our sales team via email. When this person was on vacation, our sales team didn’t get leads. Even if they did get leads, I never knew if they were following up or not.

There was no doubt in my mind that we were losing money — both in time spent on these manual processes and also lost deals — but we were also creating pain for our customers and prospects. How weird is it to reach out to a company you’re interested in working with only to not hear from them for days, weeks, and maybe ever?

What a mess.

I’ll admit, some of this was my own fault. Salesforce and email tools like Constant Contact did exist at the time. In retrospect, I was definitely suffering from what I later dubbed “poor business syndrome” — afraid to spend what little money we had on the thing that would help us grow — but at the same time, CRM, lead management, and email tools all together were expensive! I could never bring myself to spend the money.

It felt like I only had two choices: cough up the money for pricey tools that would give me a unified (but painfully expensive!) view of our customer experience, or just hope that prospects would be persistent in contacting us and would forgive the email we sent them that 100% lacked context on previous interactions they had with us.

As of today, no startup will ever again need to make the same concession I did.

Today, in addition to giving our CRM away for free, we’re also giving away free email. This means that if I were a founder today using HubSpot’s free tools I would know where our leads were coming from, whether or not our sales team was following up with those leads, how much money is in our pipeline, and could even write personalized emails based on where prospects are in their customer lifecycle! That’s a solid sales and marketing setup for exactly $0. No hefty price tag, no pain to endure.

And there’s more …

We’re adding Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn Ads tools to the CRM — for free. Now you can report on your ad campaigns across networks, and see exactly who converted on your ads.

This is a big deal.

It has literally never been easier or cheaper to start a company. Our CEO, Brian Halligan showed this chart at INBOUND 2017:

With free, integrated tools it’s not only easier to startup — it’s easier to scale-up.

When companies manage customer data well, they’re empowered to create great customer experiences. And we want you to start creating those great experiences on Day 1 of your business, not Day 1,000.

We want to give businesses the tools they need to be successful when they’re acquiring their very first cohort of customers, so they can acquire (and retain!) future customers even faster.

If you’re not already, I hope you’ll give our free tools a try today. Let’s grow better together.

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Author: Nicholas Holland

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24 of the Best Email Subject Lines We’ve Ever Seen

I’d venture to guess you get tons of emails in your inbox every day.

From coupons, to daily deal sites, to newsletters, to password resets, to your mother wanting to know when you plan to visit — it’s a lot to sift through, never mind actually open.

So what makes you want to take that extra step to actually open an email? Often, it’s the subject line. After all, it’s your very first impression of the email — and from it, you’ll do your best to judge the content on the inside.

If you’re an email marketer, or just someone who happens to send emails on behalf of your company, you don’t want to be one of those ignored (or — gasp — deleted) emails in your subscribers’ inboxes. You’ve got to make sure your email subject lines are top-notch — and what better way to learn how to do that than by examining some great examples of subject lines?

Let’s take a look at what makes a great subject line, followed by a few examples that, old or new, we’re crazy about.

(While you’re at it, check out our new Out-of-Office Email Generator to make your email address even more delightful to your contacts.)

1. “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”

Sender: Warby Parker

Not too long ago, a HubSpot alum received this email two weeks before he needed to renew his prescription — talk about great timing. And when you’re eye prescription is expiring, it happens to be an excellent time to upgrade your glasses. By sending an email at the right time, Warby Parker increased its chances of this email getting opened.

But timing isn’t the sole reason we included this example. This subject is brilliant because it appeared at the right time and with the right tone. Using conversational words like “uh-oh,” keeping the subject line sentence case, and leaving out the period at the end, the subject line comes across as helpful and friendly — not as a company trying to upsell you.

2. “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”

Sender: Groupon

It’s hard to be funny in your marketing, but Groupon’s one of those brands that seems to nail it again and again. After all, who can for get this classic unsubscribe video?

This subject line is no exception. The quip, “(Unlike Our Nephew Steve),” actually had us laughing out loud. Why? It’s completely unexpected. The first part of the subject line looks like a typical subject line you’d get from Groupon, highlighting a new deal. The parenthetical content? Not so much — making this one a delightful gem to find in your inbox.

3. “👗 Free (Cool!) Clothes Alert 👖”

Sender: Clover

First of all, we have a not-so-secret love for emojis in email subject lines. Personally, I’m partial to turquoise — so when I see an email implying that I might somehow be able to obtain a free turquoise dress, chances are, I’m clicking.

That’s part of what makes this subject line work. It draws the recipients eye by using visual content (emojis), and it hints at an offer of something free. That hints at an incentive to open the email: There’s a something to gain inside.

4. “The timer’s going off on your cart!”

Sender: King Arthur Flour

Similar to Warby Parker, this subject line makes use of urgency. If I don’t take action on my King Arthur Flour shopping cart — like actually buying them — it will be cleared, and I’ll have to start all over again.

Okay, so maybe this is a low-risk scenario. But when it comes to my baking goods, personally, I don’t like to take any chances, or risk forgetting what I was going to buy. That’s where the personalization aspect of this subject line comes in: King Arthur Flour — especially its online shop — tends to attract both professional and home bakers who take all things culinary a bit more seriously than, say, someone who only buys flour on occasion from the supermarket. And wouldn’t you know? Those are the same bakers who probably don’t want to spend time building their shopping carts from scratch.

The moral of the story: Know your audience when you’re writing email subject lines. Is there something that they take seriously more than others? If so, incorporate that into your copy.

5. “What Did You Think? Write a Review.”

Sender: REI

I received an email with this subject line about a week after buying a portable stove at REI for a camping trip I was going on. I had just gotten back from that trip, too. It was perfect timing for them to ask me what I thought of it.

Companies ask satisfied customers to write reviews of their business all the time. But when you specifically send these requests to the people who just purchased something from you, you’re being smart with your mailing list and reaching recipients whose interest is still warm.

Another reason this subject line works? It’s not expecting a good review. REI is genuinely asking me what I thought of the stove I bought. Maybe I hated it (I didn’t) … the company just wanted me to speak up.

6. “Important Weather Advisory”

Sender: RCN

Any time we see a weather-related alert, our ears perk up. In RCN’s case, it isn’t just a way to lure recipients into opening an email. The subject line above is RCN’s way of updating its customers to potential power outages and driving attention to the brand that provides them with cable and Wi-Fi — even during inclement weather.

If you can hitch your email marketing campaign to an event you know people pay attention to, and have something helpful to offer in response, you’ll see your email open rate soar.

7. “1,750 points for you. Valentine’s flowers & more for them.”

Sender: JetBlue

It’s such a specific number … 1,750 … of course you’re going to open this.

Coming from an airline, an offering of “points” might as well be gold to someone who likes to travel. And if that recipient also has a significant other, sending this email leading up to Valentine’s Day is a home run.

The best part about the subject line above is how particular JetBlue was about the number of points available. Instead of, say, “20% your next return flight of 1,000 miles or more,” this subject line gives it to you straight: 1,750 points, and all you have to do is buy flowers for your loved one. You’re already wondering how far you can fly with 1,750 points, I can tell.

8. “Rock the color of the year”

Sender: Etsy

In six words, Etsy was able to promote a product solely by its color, and inform you that there is apparently a “color of the year.” The email is truly too intriguing not to open.

Etsy is an ecommerce website for user-created marketplaces, and the reason we were impressed by its subject line above was because of the way it uses mystery to drive value into a suite of products. This email isn’t an invitation to buy clothing or jewelry; it’s an invitation to find out what the color of the year is.

Spoiler alert: It was “ultra violet.”

9. “Black Friday shoppers are the worst customers”

Sender: LinkedIn

This subject line is likely the boldest of the Black Friday emails you’d see in your inbox in the days before Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s a bit judgmental, but it actually came in a LinkedIn Pulse newsletter, promoting an article one of its users wrote on the topic of holiday marketing.

And there’s no doubt the title resonates with how some people feel during the most hectic holiday shopping day of the year.

LinkedIn has nothing to sell on Black Friday, so the subject line above does little harm to its business. Nonetheless, commenting on a popular cultural observation, however facetious, can show your confidence and help you relate to your community.

10. “*Don’t Open This Email*”

Sender: Manicube

Ever been told to not do something? Being asked to refrain from something can actually have the opposite effect — you now want to do that thing even more.

That’s the strategy behind Manicube’s subject line. It’s a simple but effective way to make people curious enough to open your email. (Just be sure that the contents of your email actually have something worthy of that subject line.)

11. “I got Botox—& THIS is what it looked like”

Sender: Refinery29

Okay, so maybe your business doesn’t involve Botox. But still — are you intrigued? I am, and despite my better judgment, I clicked.

That’s the power of leading your emails with a story: It sparks curiosity, which works in two ways. There are times when our natural curiosity can pique our interest without context, such as in the example above. But in this case, the subject line implies that there’s an intriguing story ahead. Why the heck did this person get Botox? And what did it look like? As the saying goes, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

Think of the stories behind your industry, and then, find ways to include them in email newsletters and frame them within the subject line in a way that piques your recipients’ collective curiosity.

12. Zillow: “What Can You Afford?”

Sender: Zillow

Imagine getting this subject line in your inbox from a website showing apartments for rent. It’s both exciting and encouraging (“Here are a bunch of apartments right in your budget. Yay!”), but also kind of competitive — pitting your cash against what the market offers. Would you click it? I certainly would.

Personalizing emails to cater to your audience’s emotions — for which there’s a broad spectrum, when it comes to real estate — is key to getting people to open your emails. You don’t have to be a psychologist to know how to take advantage of them, either. In addition to principles like urgency, crafting an email subject line that implies scarcity is another great way to increase your conversion rates.

13. “As You Wish”

Sender: UncommonGoods

When writing emails, you should also think about the recognizable names and reference that make people tick. For example, take this subject line from UncommonGoods forwarded to us from HubSpot’s Content Director, Corey Wainwright, who happens to be a die-hard fan of The Princess Bride. Apparently, “As You Wish” is a pretty big reference to that movie (I know, I know — I need to watch it again), so when she saw this subject line in her inbox, she just HAD to click.

Even though she knew logically that the email was part of a larger-scale send, it almost seemed like it was tailored to be sent personally to her — after all, why else would it include a reference to Princess Bride in the title?

UncommonGoods knows its buyer persona like the back of its metaphorical hand. While it may not send emails to individual subscribers with references to their favorite movies in the title, it does have a general understanding of its subscribers and their interests.

14. “Google sees smartphone heroics in Oreo. It’s The Daily Crunch.”

Sender: TechCrunch

If you’re subscribed to a newsletter from a publication like TechCrunch, chances are, you signed up because you’re either interested in or want to learn more about technology. To reflect that, the media outlet crafts its daily email roundups (“The Daily Crunch”) with a subject line that reflects one of the latest, most compelling news items in the industry.

Here’s the thing: Staying on the cutting edge is hard, especially with something that evolves as quickly as technology. So by writing email subject lines that reflect something that’s recent and relevant, TechCrunch is signaling to email recipients that opening the message will help them stay informed and up-to-date on the latest industry news.

Think about the things that your audience struggles to keep up with — then, craft an email roundup and matching subject line that reflects the latest news in that category.

15. “Where to Drink Beer Right Now”

Sender: Eater Boston

Okay, you caught me: I’m a beer lover. (One of the many reasons I like working at HubSpot.) But that’s not what hooked me here. The subject line arrived in my inbox just at the time I needed it: at 6:45 on a Wednesday evening. Absolutely. Genius.

Think about it: You’re just over hump day and want to decompress with a few coworkers after work. Right as you’re about to head out, you get a notification on your phone that says, “Where to Drink Beer Right Now.” Perfect timing makes this subject line something you can’t help but click on.

For your own emails, think about how timing will affect how people perceive your emails. Even if you send an email in an off-peak hour, you could get higher engagement on your email — if you have the right subject line.

16. “Not Cool, Guys”

Sender: BuzzFeed

Okay, we admit it: We love BuzzFeed. If nothing else, its staff knows how to write great copy — and that sentiment includes an exceptional email marketing team. Many of my colleagues have signed up for BuzzFeed’s daily emails, and pretty much any day of the week, they win for best subject line in their inboxes.

While there are a few of BuzzFeed’s subject lines here and there that aren’t anything to write home about, it’s the combination of subject lines and the preview text that is golden. They’re friendly, conversational, and, above all, snarky.

Here’s the text that followed the subject line above: “Okay, WHO left the passive-aggressive sticky note on my fridge. Honestly, who acts like this?” That conversational tone and snark pull us in over and over again — and it’s the preview text that completes the experience for me.

We’re not all equipped to be snarky writers, but most email platforms have the preview text easily available to edit. How can you use that little extra space to delight your customers (oh, and probably improve your email stats)? Maybe you could use the subject line as a question, and the preview text area as the answer. Or maybe it’s a dialogue: The subject line is one person, and the preview text is another.

You get the idea. By using that space, you have more opportunities to attract new subscribers.

17. “DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities”

Sender: Thrillist

No matter how humble people are, most don’t like to do things wrong … so why not play on that natural human tendency in an email subject line, especially if you’re in the business of helping clients (or prospective clients) succeed? Thrillist certainly does in the subject line above, and it makes the language even more vibrant by using DO NOT — a great takeaway for B2B marketers.

Instead of using the typical contraction “don’t,” Thrillist spells it out and adds the all-caps for effect. That way, you’ll notice the subject line in your inbox, and then not, finder it harder to resist clicking on it.

Think about how going negative in your marketing might be a good thing. For example, many of us have anxiety about looking silly and stupid, so figure out how you can play to those emotions in subject lines. Of course, it’s important to back up that subject line with encouraging, helpful content, so that you’re not just ranting at people all day.

Getting negative can get your subscribers’ attention — this subject line certainly caught mine.

18. “Buffer has been hacked – here is what’s going on”

Sender: Buffer

Next is a subject line from Buffer. Back in 2013, Buffer got hacked — every tech company’s worst nightmare. But Buffer handled it exceptionally well, especially on the email front.

What we admire about the subject line is that it’s concise and direct. In a crisis, it’s better to steer clear of puns. People want to see that you’re not only taking the situation seriously, but also be reassured that the world isn’t ending.

Because of the way the subject line is worded and formatted, you feel like Buffer is calm and collected about the issue, and is taking your personal safety into consideration. That’s pretty hard to do in just a few words.

19. “Everything you wanted to know about email copy but were too afraid to ask”

Sender: Copy Hackers

Here’s another great example of leveraging your audience’s full plate to your email marketing advantage. Who hasn’t refrained from asking a question out of fear of looking silly or out of the loop? Excuse me, while I sheepishly raise my hand.

” … but were too afraid to ask” is one of those phrases that, to us, probably won’t go out of style for a long time. People seek insights from Copy Hackers — an organization dedicated to helping marketers and other professionals write better copy, as the name suggests — because, well, they have questions. They want to improve. And when that audience is too afraid to ask those questions, here’s Copy Hackers, ready to come to the rescue with answers.

What does your audience want to know, but might be too embarrassed to ask? Use that information to craft your content — including your email subject lines.

20. “🐶 Want a Custom Emoji of Tullamore & 6 Months FREE Walks? Book a Walk Today for Your Chance to Win!”

Sender: Wag!

For reference, Tullamore is the name of my colleague Amanda Zantal-Wiener‘s dog. And the subject line she received, written above, is another winning example of perfect emoji placement — especially when it’s a cute dog.

Here’s a great example of how personalization goes beyond the email recipient’s name. Wag!, an on-demand dog-walking app, includes the names of its customers’ pets in a portion of its email subject lines. But this type of personalization is more than just a first-name basis. If there’s anything my colleague Amanda loves more than free stuff and baking goods, it’s her pup. Wag! knows that, and by mentioning Tullamore by name in the subject line — in tandem with an offer, no less — it caught her attention and piques her interest.

21. “Abra-cord-abra! Yeah, we said it.”

Sender: Quircky

Last, but certainly not least, is this punny email subject line from Quirky. Yes — we’re suckers for puns, in the right situation.

What we like most about it is the second part: “Yeah, we said it.” The pun in the beginning is great and all — it refers to a new invention featured on Quirky’s site to help everyday consumers detangle their numerous plugs and cords — but the second sentence is conversational and self-referential. That’s exactly what many of us would say after making a really cheesy joke in real life.

Many brands could stand to be more conversational and goofy in their emails. While it may not be appropriate to go as far as Quirky’s subject line, being goofy might just be the way to delight your email recipients.

22. “China Falls, Sleepy Unicorns, And The Deals Aren’t Bigger In Texas”

Sender: Crunchbase

The Crunchbase Insights email has an interesting way of wrapping details about all the stories it will present you in one subject line. This is eye-catching because it seems like an odd mashup of words, but gets to the point about three complicated stories at the same time. 

When it comes to email, Crunchbase is known for their longer, text based emails. They all read like a more conversational letter to a the email recipient and casually discuss and hyperlink Crunchbase’s top stories.  While the subject lines feel interesting and eye-catching, the emails often report deeper business news that cut right to the chase.

Crunchbase News email with subject line of "China Falls, Sleepy Unicorns, And The Deals Aren’t Bigger In Texas"This subject line shows how you can be punchy, but also fun and creative when trying to pull in your audience. 

23. “🔥 Hot freebie alert! 15 free gifts, you pick 5.”

Sender: Shutterfly

Shutterfly, a company that allows you to print your photos on interesting products or other frames gets visual with their subject lines by occasionally using an emoji. Due to their company’s nature and creative audience, the fire emoji in this subject line seems to work without feeling desperate. 

The email subject line also pops because it has a lot of buzzwords, including “hot,” “freebie,” “gifts,” and “alert.” In just once line, it is able to give the potential reader a good reason to open it, especially if they love using Shutterfly. 

When you open the email, it aligns perfectly with the subject line by announcing a freebie promotion. This strong alignment between the subject line and message might keep people from just skimming the message. 
Shutterfly Freebie Email with subject line of "Hot freebie alert! 15 free gifts, you pick 5."

24. “Watch Out for This Amazon Phishing Scam.”

Sender: WIRED

In this subject line, WIRED includes Amazon, a large company name. Including the name of a big brand can be a great way to boost open rates because people who enjoy or use products from a big brands might click into a subject line that discusses them.

Additionally, when a brand name is combined with negative words like “phishing” or “scam,” people might open the email much more urgently so they can learn how to avoid running into the issue being discussed.

While Shutterfly’s message has strong alignment with its subject line, WIRED oppositely gives a subject line related to the last story in its newsletter. This is an interesting way to get your readers to scroll through the entire email and see the other stories before they get to the story that lead them to click into it. 

 Wired Email Newsletter with subject line of "Watch Out for this Amazon Phishing Scam."

These are just some of our favorite subject lines — and since we receive plenty of them, we’ll continue adding the best ones as we discover them.

Want more? Read How to Write Catchy Email Subject Lines: 19 Tips.

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Micro-Influencer Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide

Has a celebrity ever convinced you to buy something?

It’s okay if the answer is yes — we’ve all been there. In fact, just recently, a famous dog helped convince me to purchase a GoPro camera. For a creature who can’t speak, he’s a pretty effective marketer.

Loki the Wolfdog’s Instagram post is a successful example of influencer marketing, which involves developing relationships with influential personalities to promote your brand to the influencer’s audience. Loki the Wolfdog has over 1 million Instagram followers GoPro may not have otherwise been able to reach with posts on its own profile.

A newer concept known as micro-influencer marketing recently joined the social media scene. It’s the same concept as influencer marketing, but on a smaller scale: Brands partner with individuals with smaller followings on social media to promote products with authentic, visual posts instead of sponsored ads.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about micro-influencers, including what brands are using them successfully and how you can connect with these individuals to promote your brand.

Micro-influencers are social media users unlike typical celebrities, experts, or public figures. They’re individuals who work or specialize in a particular vertical and frequently share social media content about their interests. Unlike traditional “influencers,” micro-influencers have a more modest number of followers — typically in the thousands or tens of thousands — but they boast hyper-engaged audiences.

For example, a yoga influencer might boast millions of followers and operate several yoga studios. A yoga micro-influencer might have only a few thousand followers and post instructional videos on Instagram for their fans to try at home, but their average post receives a healthy amount of engagement relative to the size of their follower base.

Influencer vs. Micro-Influencer

Influencer marketing is when organizations partner with top content creators — people with thousands or even millions of followers — to promote their products or services to the content creator’s audience. When brands partner with influencers, companies are able to leverage the established trust amongst the influencer’s audience. Consumers are more likely to buy from someone they know and trust, so influencers are extremely effective when it comes to strategies like word-of-mouth marketing or increasing social proof. Brands will often pay influencers to either post content featuring their products or sponsor their events, capturing the influencers’ large reach. 

An excellent example of influencer marketing is the partnership between Diageo, parent company of Scottish whiskey brands Lagavulin and Oban, and actor Nick Offerman. Best known for his role as a gruff, hyper-masculine government official on Parks and Recreation, Offerman appears in a 45-minute parody video drinking a Lagavulin single malt whisky next to a traditional holiday Yule Log. The video went viral and won multiple awards, rocketing an older brand into one cultural relevance.

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, have a more moderate backing — compared to influencers, mico-influencers usually have fewer than 100,000 followers. However, the rate of audience engagement on content peaks around 1,000 followers, making a partnership with a micro-influencer incredibly valuable to companies looking to increase brand awareness. Micro-influencers generate a ton of content that appeals to their audiences and become well-established in their area of interest. Over 82% of surveyed consumers said they were likely to buy something a micro-influencer recommended. Companies can partner with micro-influencers to write a post about a product offer, publish a review, or share the product with their social communities.

The Value of Micro-Influencers

Using micro-influencers may seem counterintuitive. Why would you seek out someone with a smaller following to promote your brand?

There are several reasons to believe micro-influencers might get better results for your brand. 

Micro-influencers have better engagement rates.

Markerly studied Instagram engagement and found a surprising trend: As an influencer’s number of followers increases, their number of likes and comments from followers decreases.

In its analysis, Markerly determined the following:

  • Instagram users with fewer than 1,000 followers generated likes 8% of the time
  • Users with 1,000-10,000 followers earned likes at a 4% rate
  • Users with 10,000-100,000 followers achieved a 2.4% like rate
  • Users with 1-10 million followers earned likes only 1.7% of the time.

Check out Markerly’s graphical breakdown of how likes and comments decline as followers increase:

like_follower_correlation.png

comment_follower_correlation.png

Source: Markerly

Markerly recommends brands pursue micro-influencers with Instagram followings in the 1,000-10,000 range. With micro-influencers, brands can achieve higher engagement rates among a large enough audience. In a recent study, Experticity learned micro-influencers have 22.2X more conversations than the typical Instagram users — largely because they’re passionate and knowledgeable about their particular interest area.

Micro-influencers have more targeted audiences.

Markerly also notes that micro-influencers have more targeted follower bases than influencers with follower numbers in the hundreds of thousands and millions.

Think about it: If a clothing brand partnered with a celebrity with millions of followers on Instagram, the celebrity could reach their huge pool, but a large portion of them might not be interested in fashion. Instead, if the clothing brand connected with 100 fashion bloggers with 1,000 followers apiece, it would be able to connect to a smaller but far more targeted and engaged audience.

Markerly CEO and co-founder Sarah Ware told Digiday that partnering with the Kardashian and Jenner sisters to promote a weight-loss tea on Instagram led to a significant number of conversions. However, Ware also noted that working with 30-40 micro-influencers achieved a higher conversion rate than when the celebrities were promoting the tea. In fact, 82% of customers surveyed by Experticity said they would be very likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer.

Micro-influencers are more affordable.

Micro-influencers are typically more affordable than celebrities or profiles with millions of followers. Celebrities sometimes charge up to $75,00 for a single Instagram post promoting a product. In contrast, 97% of micro-influencers on Instagram charge less than $500 for a promotion post. Granted, brands usually work with more than one micro-influencer to maximize reach, but even 100 micro-influencers would cost less than a single celebrity on Instagram at these rates.

For micro-influencers with smaller followings, brands may even be able to compensate them in the form of free products. According to Digiday, La Croix Sparkling Water (more on them below) sent a micro-influencer vouchers for free products instead.

Micro-influencers are more authentic.

Micro-influencers are real people, so their Instagram content is real, too. Instagram users with a few thousand followers likely post their own content, reply to comments, and behave more authentically than a brand or a celebrity with a social media manager might. If a micro-influencer engages with a promotional post on Instagram, their followers might be more inclined to click to learn more about the brand they’re posting about.

It’s also worth noting that Instagram recently changed its algorithm to mirror Facebook’s. Now, posts from profiles users follow and interact with are shown first in Instagram feeds, and authentic, quality content is prioritized over promoted content from big brands. This might make micro-influencer content more visible than content from celebrities if the algorithm determines users might be more interested in it.

One note: If you were wondering why we’re only mentioning Instagram in this blog post, it’s because micro-influencers as a marketing strategy has taken off primarily on that platform. Because Instagram is so visual, it’s easy for micro-influencers to post photos of products and brand experiences instead of writing a promotional tweet or Facebook post. That’s not to say that micro-influencer marketing can’t be done on other social media platforms, but Instagram’s Explore tab helps users find and interact with micro-influencer content easily.

You’ll see what we mean when we dive into different micro-influencer strategies brands are using successfully below.

4 Brands Using Micro-Influencers Successfully

1) La Croix Sparkling Water

La Croix Sparkling Water started tapping into micro-influencers to promote its brand in a competitive marketplace. It relies primarily on social media marketing to get discovered, especially by millennials.

La Croix identifies micro-influencers on Instagram and asks them to share product awareness posts on Instagram. It finds micro-influencers by searching branded hashtags, such as #LiveLaCroix, and when users tag the brand on Instagram. It specifically targets profiles with lower follower counts to maintain a feeling of authentic “realness” that appeals to millennial Instagram users. Then, La Croix reaches out to them with product vouchers or other offers to post pictures with the sparkling water.

If you check out La Croix’s Instagram page, you’ll see it features a lot of content posted by micro-influencers, such as this photo below:

 

Lending a hydrating, helping hand. ☺️(📸:@charleyraee)

A photo posted by LaCroix Sparkling Water (@lacroixwater) on Feb 4, 2017 at 1:49pm PST

By tapping into smaller, more targeted networks of micro-influencers, La Croix cultivates a social media presence that’s authentic and fun, and ensures its product is in front of the eyes of similar users. If you have a physical product that looks great on camera (like an eye-popping can of La Croix), try engaging with micro-influencers by sending free product for Instagram promotions.

2) Kimpton Hotels

Boutique hotel chain Kimpton uses Instagram takeovers to connect with micro-influencers. These consist of micro-influencers creating original content for the brand’s Instagram and posting the content as themselves. Takeovers connect new audiences with the brand and help generate new followers, more engagement, and eventually, new potential guests at Kimpton Hotels.

Curalate Marketing Director Brendan Lowry wrote about taking over some of Kimpton’s Instagram accounts and posting photos of his own, like this one:

The caption links easily to his personal Instagram, which links back to the Kimpton account, helping his more than 27,000 followers find and interact with the hotel’s content.

Try an Instagram takeover by a micro-influencer to provide behind-the-scenes or unique looks at a brand or product. It’s more creative to feature photos taken by different people, and it directs Instagram traffic between the brand’s and the photographer’s accounts for mutually beneficial results — namely, more engagement and more followers.

3) Stitch Fix

Personal shopping website Stitch Fix invites micro-influencers to contribute content that the brand then promotes on Instagram.

In the post below, Stitch Fix’s Instagram bio linked to a post featuring a Q&A with a fashion blogger micro-influencer about how she dresses for her body type:

The micro-influencer also shared the image, mentioned Stitch Fix, and shared the blog post link on her personal Instagram profile.

This micro-influencer strategy works because it drives traffic to a brand’s blog and Instagram profile. Try reaching out to micro-influencers and offer to publish their content and cross-promote it on social media to generate engagement from their followers and readers.

4) Hawaiian Department of Tourism

Hawaii’s Department of Tourism tapped into the power of micro-influencers for its #LetHawaiiHappen Instagram campaign. It partnered with Instagram users who are travel bloggers or Hawaiian natives to share content promoting events and destinations so visitors and Hawaiians would be interested in traveling to check them out.

Hawaii’s Department of Tourism connected with photographer Rick Poon to showcase his visit to Hawaii and attract his audience to come visit.

After the campaign, 65% of people who saw the posts said they wanted to visit Hawaii (talk about effective). If you want to attract new followers and Instagram engagement, try reaching out to micro-influencers to promote an event or a location that their followers might want to check out.

Think Small

Are you on board with micro-influencers? Before you answer, consider the following.

There are a few downsides to this strategy. Notably, micro-influence works well on Instagram with visual products, such as a bright can of sparkling water or an eye-catching outfit. This might not be the best strategy for promoting complicated software or other technology. But remember, you can be creative. As long as you can find a micro-influencer to share an Instagram post that’s compelling, you might be able to generate much more engagement.

Additionally, it’s a lot of work to work with several micro-influencers. Brands have to reach out to them on Instagram and manage several different relationships. However, we think the payoff is worth it for authentic and engaging Instagram posts.

Keep an eye on Instagram users tagging your brand or using a branded hashtag — they might just be your next biggest promoter. And if you want to learn more about influencer marketing or Instagram content promotion, read our guides on these topics next.

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18 Beautiful New Ebook Templates [Free Download]

Did you know that companies with 30 or more landing pages generate 7x more leads than those with fewer than ten? But landing pages don’t convert visitors to leads all by themselves — without attractive and compelling offers behind them, they won’t generate the tonnes of leads for your sales team that you want them to.

That’s why it’s so important to create valuable content people want to download, and then package it in a way that’s visually appealing to your readers. A big part of the ebook creation process is making it look both professional and attractive so people want to read it and share it.

We know not every team has someone in-house who can (or has time to) whip up a slick, highly shareable ebook design. But we have good news: You don’t need to be a designer by trade to design beautiful ebooks yourself. With the right resources and approach, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

We created ebook templates to help make this process easier for you — and they were so popular that we decided to revamp the offer for 18 new-and-improved ebook templates for you. We hope these templates minimize the time you spend on the details of design, allowing you to concentrate on writing valuable, lead-generating content your readers will love.

Free ebook templates by HubSpot

Download the Templates Now

With these slick new templates, you’ll be able to:

  • Create beautifully designed ebooks without either the cost of a designer or experience with InDesign/Illustrator/Photoshop.
  • Choose from six different ebook designs across three different platforms (Adobe InDesign, PowerPoint, and Google Slides), and even add your own brand colors to any of them in a few quick steps.
  • Spend more time writing awesome content and less time getting the layout right.
  • Use all of the stock images provided in the templates, free of charge.
  • Save your ebooks as professional and attractive PDF files that are ready for download.

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10 How-To Videos That Really Work (And Why)

Have you ever learned how to do something with the help of an internet search?

The answer is most likely a resounding “yes.” Most recently, I taught myself how to fold a fitted sheet with a helpful video from homemaker extraordinaire, and friend of Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart.

Videos are an especially compelling way to learn how to do something online because, well, the video shows you exactly how to do it. I’m not alone here, either — most customers would prefer to watch a marketing video rather than seeing an ad.

So if you’re among the 45% of marketers who are adding video content to their strategy this year, there could be a lot of value in making videos specifically for those in your audience who are trying to learn how to do something, too.

In this post, we’ll explore just how popular these searches are on YouTube and other platforms, and what you can learn from eight how-to videos about how to make great teaching videos of your own.

How-To Video Searches Are Popular

How-to searches are incredibly popular. Think about just your own life for a moment, and reconsider my question at the beginning of this blog post. They also may be a great opportunity for brands to show off their products.

According to WyzOwl’s 2018 Video Marketing Statistics Report, 72% of people prefer to learn about a product or service through video.

Video marketing is growing, and so is the number of platforms it can be seen on. While Youtube and Vimeo used to be the primary place to find videos, consumers now similarly use social platforms like Facebook and Instagram to learn about brands and products.

10 How-To Videos to Learn From

1. How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

You may recognize the title of this how-to video — it’s the one I mentioned earlier in this very blog post. Are you always geting stymied when putting away fitted sheets on laundry day like me?

What I love about this video is how it showcases personality. It’s a simple how-to video of humans demonstrating how to do something, without any animations or high tech features, but it’s still extremely effective at teaching the viewer. Stewart and her guests make jokes about how hard it is to fold the sheet — Stewart even joking that her inability to do so led to her divorce — and they show the viewer how easy it is to get tripped up in the process. Stewart and her guests also have empathy for the viewer and show exactly how to avoid pitfalls along the way.

Takeaway for marketers If you want to create a how-to video “hosted” by a real, live human, make sure they act like a human. Videos are an easy way for brands to showcase personality, so put yourself in the shoes of your viewer, and infuse humor, sincerity, and empathy into your instructions. If the concept you’re explaining is complicated, tell the viewer that. If you had no idea how to use your product at first, share that. Speaking like a human — instead of reading off a script like a robot — will make your video memorable, effective, and enjoyable, too.

2. How to Cook Perfect Pasta

Tasty on BuzzFeed shares cooking and recipe videos that frequently go viral on YouTube and other social media and reach millions of people every month. But this video isn’t one of Tasty’s trademark recipe videos — it’s one of several how-to videos that break down common or difficult cooking skills step-by-step.

In this video, Tasty uses hyperlapse to speed up the cooking demonstration and get the viewer the information they need as quickly as possible. This fast-paced filming style is eye-catching if it starts auto-playing in a social media feed, too. Tasty chose a smart how-to search term, too — there’s a ton of search volume around the phrase “how to cook pasta.”

Takeaway for marketers: Viewers prefer YouTube videos on the shorter side, so sped-up hyperlapse filming helps conserve time and creates a neat visual effect. Work backward and conduct keyword research to learn what terms your audience is searching for to find a topic to make your video about.

3. How to Escape Quicksand

Evidently, Princess Buttercup’s tragic fall into quicksand in The Princess Bride wouldn’t have been quite as terrifying in real life.

In this how-to video, Tech Insider uses captions and animations to break down a complicated concept. I wasn’t exactly searching for information on how to escape quicksand when I found this video, but the unique subject matter made me instantly click, intrigued. What’s more, the sound isn’t required — although it does add dramatic effect — which might make people more likely to click and watch all the way through, since many social media videos are watched on mute.

Takeaway for marketers: Your how-to videos don’t necessarily need to be about a dry topic related to your industry. If you create a fascinating piece of content that goes viral, you’ll generate interest in your brand that way. Animations and captions help to show — rather than explain — trickier concepts like quicksand, so consider these visual elements for high-level explanations. And if there’s a way to make your videos volume-agnostic, do so. Some videos will require narration or other sounds, but the visual elements mentioned previously could do the talking for you.

4. How to Blow Out Curly Hair

Anyone who’s ever gotten a blowout knows that it can be expensive and time-consuming to have it professionally done.

So Bustle cleverly made a how-to video that teaches viewers how to DIY and save money– a motivating factor behind many how-to online searches, I suspect. This video is also short, which MiniMatters suggests for enticing viewers to watch videos all the way through. YouTube counts a view as once a video has been watched for approximately 30 seconds, so viewers with short attention spans might be more likely to stick around for that long if they see a video is shorter, like this one.

Takeaway for marketers: Almost everybody wants to save money where they can, so think about ways your how-to video could help viewers do that when brainstorming topics. When filming, try to keep videos as short as possible to attract viewers and keep them watching all the way through to steadily increase your number of YouTube views.

5. How to Style a Blazer 3 Ways

In this short, sweet Instagram video, verified style influencer @PreviewPH shows off three ways to style a blazer from ForMe. This video is great for those who are interested in trying out new fashions but don’t exactly know how to wear items or accessories. In this video, she demonstrates three ways of wearing a blazer, which could accommodate the fashion styles of three different people.

Takeaway for marketers: How-to videos can be a great way to show off how a product works and how it can be used. This type of video is clearly promoting one specific blazer and brand, but it’s more valuable than a standard ad because it shows potential buyers how they can wear it. If people who are hesitant about a new fashion style see this how-to video, they might feel more confident in their purchase.

6. How to Asana: Planning with Asana calendar

Asana cleverly brands its how-to video series as “How to Asana,” and all of the videos in the series feature a consistent theme. All of the videos in this series are under two minutes in length, are hosted by the same person, and feature an eye-popping yellow background. The meat of the video consists of a screencast of someone using the Asana calendar tool, but these branding details bring life to what would otherwise be a rather boring video.

Takeaway for marketers: If you’re thinking about creating a how-to video series, take the extra time to make it memorable and recognizable. These efforts will make videos look more professional and will make viewers want to keep tuning in for more helpful videos if they know they can expect more.

7. How to Create an Animated GIF in Photoshop

Who else here loves GIFs? That’s right — everyone loves GIFs.

But before I watched the video above, I had no idea how easy it was to make my own. That’s the ideal reaction to a how-to video, by the way — “that was so easy.”

Adobe’s how-to video is a great example of a software demonstration video because it zooms in on only the necessary information. Instead of confusing the viewer by showing the entire Photoshop interface, the video features magnified animations of only the buttons and tools they need to accomplish the task at hand.

Takeaway for marketers: If you’re making a technology demonstration how-to video, consider how it will appear to any first-time product users watching. Try to minimize any confusion by only filming elements of the technology needed for your video so viewers can follow along on their devices.

8. How to Increase Your Facebook Reach and Outsmart the Algorithm

You might be hesitant to create videos to explain a complicated subject matter, but that could actually be the most effective medium to help your audience understand something.

In this video, my colleague Megan Conley breaks down the many nuances of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm in a clear and concise manner. Then, graphics, animations, and screencasts supplement what she talks about with data visualizations to make the stats and figures more memorable for the viewer. Finally, the video ends with helpful next steps viewers can take to solve the problem outlined in the video. The video isn’t about how to use HubSpot software at all — it’s only in the business of helping people get better results.

Takeaway for marketers: The most compelling how-to video might be one that doesn’t mention your product at all. Think about what questions your audience might be asking and establish your brand as a thought leader with helpful videos that don’t end with a sales pitch.

9. How to Fix a Chair with Noodles

This interesting Instagram video from @Crafty.Life.Hacks shows viewers how to fix a wooden chair by replacing missing wood with instant noodles. While this video is short and easy-to-follow it is fascinating because it teaches viewers about an alternative use for an every-day household food item.

Takeaways for marketers: This example shows how a product can have multiple purposes. While marketers will want to make how-to videos that show the primary purpose of their product, sometimes, it can still be helpful to think outside of the box and show off other ways your product could be used.

For example, if you’re selling a food product, you might want to craft a recipe video that shows how it can be used as an ingredient, or a DIY that shows how it can be used as a tool — like the video above.

10. How to Make Momofuku’s King Crab Noodle

In this Facebook video, shared by Vice’s food blog Munchies, Chef Max Ng shows viewers how to cook his grandmother’s King Crab Noodle recipe — which he serves at the Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York City. Although this video is on the longer side, he shows audiences a simple step-by-step cooking process that they can easily follow.

This type of video might be a helpful how-to example for local restaurants or food publications that want to show off their favorite recipes. Promotionally, this video also gives some great brand awareness to Munchies and the Momofuko restaurant.

Takeaways for marketers: You can get away with videos on the longer side if they clearly describe a step-by-step process like cooking. How-to videos can also be a great source for cross-promotional content. In the example above, Max Ng, Momofuko, and Munchies are all highlighted in an entertaining and informative way.

How to Make How-To Videos

Now that you have inspiration from real-life B2B and B2C brand videos, start thinking about how you could create helpful content for your audience.

Create buyer personas and use these to inform your strategy. What types of questions does your audience ask about your product? What questions do they ask about your industry? What problems does your product solve that you could demonstrate in a video?

Use tools like Google Trends and HubSpot’s Keywords tool to learn more about the types of searches your audience is conducting and what content you could create to answer those questions.

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The 16 Best WordPress Analytics Plugins in 2019

What’s the one thing more overwhelming than the volume of your analytics data?

I’m willing to be its the volume of analytics plugin options on WordPress.

Installing an analytics plugin for your WordPress site allows you to get all your site’s data, metrics, and insights without leaving your WordPress dashboard. The majority of users choose Google Analytics, although I’ve chosen some non-GA plugins, too.

While Google Analytics is a powerful option, many find the sheer amount of data available on GA daunting, and the interface clunky. WordPress plugins aim to simplify the interface so that users get to the data they need without feeling overwhelmed.

If you do use Google Analytics, we have a comprehensive guide on How to Set Up Google Analytics for WordPress.

With new plugins hitting the market monthly, and specialist plugins offering specific insights, it can be difficult to figure out which one is right for you.

To help you sort through, we’ve compiled a list of the best analytics for WordPress plugins in 2019. We’ll explore basic differences, as well as features and benefits of each option, to help you choose the best plugin for your needs.

1. MonsterInsights

Price: Free | Premium: from $99

WordPress.org rating: 3.9 out of 5 from 637 reviews

Generally considered the king of analytics plugins, MonsterInsights is a good all-rounder. It’s also the most popular Google Analytics plugin on WordPress, with over two million active installations.

Like most of the plugins in this list, MonsterInsights adds your Google Analytics tracking code to your site with no coding required on your part. It pulls your data into a user-friendly interface that runs inside your WordPress dashboard and offers flexibility for growing sites with free and premium versions.

It offers all the Google Analytics data you would expect, broken down into audience and behavior metrics. Additionally, you get more advanced features like ecommerce reports with the premium version.

One limitation of this goliath is you can’t get statistics on individual pieces of content like you can with Analytify.

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2. Analytify

Price: Free | Premium: $39 per year

WordPress.org rating: 4.9 out of 5 from 220 reviews

Analytify is a big hitter in the world of WordPress analytics and will install your Google Analytics tracking code for you. The interface allows you to access your data right from your WordPress dashboard.

Analytify is especially good for ecommerce businesses, since it offers enhanced ecommerce tracking features. The free version is fairly limited but the premium version is substantially cheaper than MonsterInsights, while offering similar functionality plus the benefit of being able to dig into individual posts and pages.

With the free version, you can monitor your site stats and you gain limited access to general reporting features. This includes tracking features like page views, top countries, social media statistics and top referrers.

With the premium version, you gain additional features like real-time statistics, campaign statistics, and email notifications.

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3. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Price: Free

WordPress.org rating: 4.3 out of 5 from 389 reviews

It may not have the catchiest of names, but this plugin is all about functionality.

It does what it says on the tin. The interface isn’t as pretty as some of the more polished plugins, but you get all the features you would expect — insertion of tracking code, Google Analytics data, real-time tracking — right in your WordPress dashboard for free.

A solid option for those who know they don’t want to upgrade and pay for a premium plugin.

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4. Clicky Analytics

Price: Free | Paid: from $9.99 per month

WordPress.org rating: 4.6 out of 5 from 17 reviews

Aside from having an excellent name, Clicky offers a plain and simple view of your analytics, which is ideal for people who feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of options available within Google Analytics. Additionally, it installs its own Clicky tracking code into your site so you don’t have to mess around with code.

Clicky provides detailed insights that are still simple enough for the average blogger to understand. Most of the functionality is available for free, but some features like video analytics and custom data tracking is only available with the paid version. It also has some quirky features like a live map so you can track your visitors in real-time.

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5. Crazy Egg

Price: Premium: $9 per month

WordPress.org rating: 3.8 out of 5 from 5 reviews

Crazy Egg is an open source plugin offering a totally different perspective than most of the others, since it adds Crazy Egg’s tracking code to your site. This allows you to watch via heat maps — in real-time — what visitors are hovering over and clicking on.

The plugin also offers comprehensive A/B testing based on various content variables like color, copy and content placement, to improve the user experience and increase conversions. This is a good alternative to Google Analytics for users more interested in conversion optimization.

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6. Analytics Cat

Price: Free

WordPress.org rating: 3.8 out of 5 from 5 reviews

Analytics Cat is a super simple, lightweight plugin. If you’re looking to add a Google Analytics tracking code but don’t want to weigh down your WordPress site with the dashboard integration, it can do it in minutes.

Analytics Cat offers a simple way to stop your data from becoming corrupted by your obsessive self-navigation, since it provides the ability to exclude logged-in users from your Google Analytics tracking. You can also exclude as many other user roles as you’d like.

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7. GA Google Analytics

Price: Free | Premium: from $15 one-off

WordPress.org rating: 4.9 out of 5 from 71 reviews

This is a simple tool that does one job — it adds a Google Analytics code to every page on your site. It doesn’t pull in or display any stats for you, but it does its job well. This is ideal for complex sites with hundreds of pages. If you’re happy with keeping your Google Analytics off your WordPress dashboard but want to ensure the tracking code is on every page, this is the plugin for you.

Additionally, the premium version enables a host of advanced features like an opt-out for visitors. It also supports custom code and lets you disable tracking on logged-in users.

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8. HubSpot

Price: Free

WordPress.org rating: 4.6 stars from 104 ratings

HubSpot’s WordPress plugin isn’t just an analytics plugin — it also allows you to implement HubSpot’s forms, pop-ups, and live chat.

HubSpot’s plugin offers incredibly detailed data on the leads you collect. Additionally, you can get an in-depth understanding of which CTAs drive the highest number of sign-ups, enabling you to convert visitors more effectively. This user information is synced with your HubSpot CRM.

9. Google Analytics WD

Price: Free | Premium: $30 per year

WordPress.org rating: 4.5 out of 5 from 93 reviews

This plugin is a solid option and has both a free and reasonably priced premium version. With a low barrier to entry, it’s a user-friendly, simple way to view your stats within WordPress.

The free version includes page views, top performing pages, a centralized dashboard, comprehensive reports, and bounce rates. However, if you want Google Analytics coverage, ecommerce reports, AdSense and AdWords reports, you’ll need the premium version.

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10. WP Google Analytics Events

Price: Free | Premium: from $79 per year.

WordPress.org rating: 4.6 out of 5 from 28 reviews

Designed to offer detailed behavioral analytics, WP Google Analytics Events digs deeper into your Google Analytics data. For instance, just because a visitor navigated to a blog post, doesn’t mean they scrolled down and read all the way through. WP Google Analytics Events can help you see what’s really going on at the level of individual events.

The downside of this plugin is it’s difficult to set up, so this is ideal for more advanced users.

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11. Jetpack by WordPress.com

Price: Free | Premium: from $5 per month

WordPress.org rating: 4.6 out of 5 from 28 reviews

Jetpack is a multi-functioning tool for design, marketing and security — analytics is just one of its many features. It displays your stats via a simple interface offering a handy overview of how your site is doing. However, don’t expect to be able to drill down into the data on individual pages and posts.

As you would expect from a WordPress.com product, the plugin offers good support and detailed troubleshooting guides. Best of all, Jetpack offers a smiley face at the bottom of your page to show whether the JetPack analytics tools are working.

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12. WP Statistics

Price: Free

WordPress.org rating: 4.3 out of 5 from 396 reviews

A powerful yet simple plugin focused on stats, WP Statistic’s interface is intuitive and displays graphs and charts beautifully. This plugin puts an emphasis on privacy. You can be sure that the data is not being shared with the big boys — additionally, you don’t need to deal with any third parties to use this plugin.

This plugin is particularly good when it comes to geographical data and content reports, and supports real-time stats on your site as well as the standard features you would expect. The best part? It’s totally free.

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13. Matomo

Price: from $9 per month

WordPress.org rating: 4.6 out of 5 from 84 reviews

Formerly Piwik, Matomo is an open-source analytics alternative which gives you detailed reports on your visitors, traffic sources, keywords, and many other common metrics. This plugin installs the Matomo tracking code and allows you to view the data within your WordPress dashboard.

Advanced features lets you follow visitors in real-time or in the visitors’ log and manage multiple sites among many other features. Matomo also offers a mobile app to access reports on the go. You will need an existing Matomo account to access the data.

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14. Slimstat Analytics

Price: Free | Add-ons from $12 one-off

WordPress.org rating: 4.8 out of 5 from 755 reviews

Slimstat is an alternative analytics solution sitting between WordPress and Google Analytics in terms of complexity. An open-source platform that stores all your data in your WordPress database, it allows you to track returning customers and registered users, and monitor Javascript events, detect intrusions and analyze email campaigns — all within your WordPress dashboard.

The basic version is free but there is a range of add-ons allowing you to use as much or as little as you need.

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15. Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin for WooCommerce

Price: Free | Premium: $135 one-off

WordPress.org rating: 4.4 out of 5 from 95 reviews

The clue is in the title with this one. Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin for WooCommerce focuses on the new Google Analytics’ feature for advanced ecommerce statistics.

Because it’s so specialized, this plugin offers the most detailed insights into customer behavior as well as comprehensive product and sales statistics. All of it is accessible from the interface within your WordPress dashboard. However, you’ll need the paid version to get any serious benefit from this plugin.

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16. WP Power Stats

Price: Free

WordPress.org rating: 4.1 out of 5 from 53 reviews

WP Power Stat offers a wide-screen interface, which is good for getting an overview of your site’s data. This plugin is billed as lightweight, fast, reliable and secure. As all the stats are stored on your own WordPress site, there is no meddling with your data by third parties. This plugin is a powerful free option.

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Which Analytics Plugin Should You Choose?

You may want to choose more than one analytics plugin, since many of them are specialized for certain tasks.

If you’re looking to bring the power of Google Analytics into your WordPress dashboard, go for a plugin like MonsterInsights or Analytify, which both have excellent free versions as well as comprehensive premium versions.

Alternatively, there are some plugins specialized in privacy, speed and reliability. There are also some simple tools to quickly set you up with a Google Analytics code.

The great thing about WordPress plugins is you can install them and play around with the free versions to see if they work for you without committing to anything. So give a few of these options a try and see what’s the best fit for you and your analytics needs.

In the meantime, find out how to save time and maximize ROI by hooking up your HubSpot data with your WordPress site.

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Why You Shouldn’t Buy Instagram Followers (& What to Do Instead)

You might know your Instagram content is good, but imagine how much better it will seem if it looks like 10,000 people agree.

Whether you’re trying to become a social media celebrity or simply looking to spread brand awareness on Instagram, it can seem tempting to pay for your first couple thousand followers.

There are plenty of services available that allow you to buy 1,000 followers for the price of a small Starbucks latte. But of course, if it really was that cheap and easy, everyone would be doing it. So what’s the catch? Is buying Instagram followers legal and safe for your business? Is it a worthwhile investment?

Here, we’ve gone ahead and covered all the questions you might have about buying Instagram followers to give you a better idea of how it actually works. We’ve also explored the pros and cons, so you can decide for yourself if it’s a good move for your brand.

As a quick Google search will reveal, there are many cheap services you can use to buy Instagram followers. For about $6 USD, you can get 500 followers, and for about $10 USD, you can get 1,000 followers.

The vast majority of these purchasable followers, however, are either bots or inactive accounts.

When you buy Instagram followers, you’re paying for a number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

In addition to buying followers directly, you can also pay services to strategically follow other accounts on your behalf based on your preferences (location, hashtag usage, account type, and gender). Ideally, those followed accounts will then follow you back.

With this option, your followers are more likely to be real people, but engagement is still unlikely. Since you can’t even guarantee these accounts will follow you back, it’s a risky investment. Most accounts won’t follow you back, and even if they do, they probably aren’t going to be long-term, loyal, or active followers.

If your priority is simply to have a big follower count, these services can definitely help you. When your number of organic followers dips, these services even replenish your pool with other followers.

But remember the risks: these followers will probably never like or comment on a post, and if you’re caught with a ton of fake followers, you could ruin your credibility with your real audience.

Think of it this way: would you keep following an account if you saw that most of their “loyal audience” were inactive accounts or bots? I’m guessing not. It could seem deceitful, and lead you to believe the brand couldn’t get authentic followers through good content alone.

You’re buying fake Instagram followers.

The main reason buying Instagram followers can prove to be a wasted investment is because the accounts you follow often aren’t real.

Fake followers are created either because they’re managed by users whose only goal is to get followed in return, or because these accounts are sponsored by services that sell followers — as we discussed in the section above. And while these accounts might offer early engagement, they’ll ultimately become a drain on your Instagram account’s performance metrics (we’ll get to that in just a minute).

You’ll get early engagement that tapers off.

Purchased Instagram followers also provide no long-term value to your profile’s content. The followers you buy might give you views, likes, and comments early into acquiring them as a follower, but the attention they throw you now won’t be there later — when you start reporting on how your Instagram account is performing.

And how helpful, really, are 10,000 followers that don’t engage with you? Engagement is key to how Instagram’s algorithm displays posts to users. Without likes or comments, your post probably won’t show up on your audience’s newsfeeds, and it also won’t show up on any Explore Pages.

Having a lot of followers could convince users to follow you organically, but it’s not a guarantee.

Users might notice you don’t have a ton of engagement on your posts, which could deter them from following you. If you have 10,000 followers but only four likes per post, it won’t take people long to realize something is up.

Without real followers to engage with your content, your posts are essentially hidden from everyone except your inauthentic audience. Plus, your fake followers won’t share your post on any of their channels. And they won’t discuss your brand in real life with friends or family, because, well … they don’t exist in real life (no offense, bots).

Bought Instagram followers can distort your performance metrics.

It’s practically impossible to measure how well your target audience is connecting with your brand if a high percentage of that audience isn’t real. How will you measure posts that do well with your real audience if those bots and inactive accounts skew the ratio?

If you don’t know how well your posts are doing or what your real audience thinks, you’ll never convert your Instagram followers into real customers. And isn’t that the point?

Ultimately, if you pay for Instagram followers, you aren’t paying for quality, real-life followers. You’re paying for a blank number. And since Instagram’s algorithm is largely tied to engagement, not followers, buying followers isn’t a long-term solution. In fact, it isn’t really a solution at all.

Take the time, energy, and money that you would’ve dedicated to buying followers, and focus instead on building genuine relationships with a real audience. If your content is engaging and authentic, your loyal followers will spread the word and engage with your brand without needing any bribes.

Instagram Identifies and Purges Fake Followers

Recently, Instagram has updated its terms of use to identify and remove inauthentic accounts from its platform. Instagram is removing any likes, follows, or comments from third-party apps that are designed to artificially grow accounts’ audiences. By buying followers, you violate Instagram’s community guidelines and it may trigger a reaction from Instagram moderators. 

Instagram is looking to maintain genuine interactions on its site, protecting real accounts and experiences. Fake or bought activity infringes upon this mission and might result in consequences, so it’s better to grow your audience organically.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers

Instagram’s new algorithm rewards engagement more than follower count, displaying content similar to posts users engaged with in the past. In order to drive engagement, there are many different actions one can try on the platform to get in front of your ideal audience.

By using good Instagram marketing practices — whether you are building your personal brand or a company account — you can better reach the nearly 800 million monthly Instagram users and build an authentic audience. 

First, make your account public so that users can see your profile and content. This way, you can grow your audience organically when your content pops up on users’ explore pages, attracting and delighting your target viewership. 

Next, publish a variety of posts to your feed: you can post images, GIFs, videos, Boomerangs, quizzes on your story, how-tos, user-generated content, and so much more. Build trust and excitement among your followers by using high-quality photos, writing catchy captions, posting consistently, and keeping up a unique style overall to differentiate yourself from other accounts. Do your research on which hashtags generate a lot of buzz and which are aligned with your brand — hashtags can be a great way to reach new audiences if done correctly.

Depending on your brand personality, it can help to be funny or witty in your content. Having an acute awareness of how your brand is perceived and the trends going around Instagram will serve you when choosing content to post and how to interact with your Instagram community. 

Lastly, utilize the many different channels on the platform, like Instagram Live, IGTV, Instagram Stories, or Shopping on Instagram. There are so many different ways to connect with users, and by driving engagement through these features, you can drive engagement and traffic organically and authentically.

 

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How HubSpot Personalized Our Chatbots to Improve The Customer Experience and Support Our Sales Team

You can’t talk about the future of marketing without chatbots. People are increasingly interested in communicating with brands in a more personal, conversational way — and chatbots can help.

Including chatbots on your website helps visitors find what they are looking for and connect them with your team in an immediate, frictionless way. Chatbots also follow the Inbound Messaging Framework.

chatbots-inbound-messaging-framework

So, what are the secrets to building a chatbot strategy?

On HubSpot’s marketing team, we seek to deliver a world-class customer experience. We consistently ask: How can chatbots better serve our various audiences (visitors, leads, and customers) to help direct them to the right resources for their needs? Also, how can we use chatbots to support our sales team and reach our goals?

Use HubSpot’s free Chatbot Builder Software to easily build and launch chatbots on your website — no coding required.

A Customer-Focused Bot Experience

Chatbots work when they’re contextual and relevant to specific problems folks are having. Through conversations with our sales team, we learned that 15% of chat questions on the website were about getting technical support. We were creating friction for our customers because our sales team (who answers chat questions onsite) is not as well equipped to answer these questions as our support team is.

So, we created a bot to direct our customers to the right resources for technical support (our support team, knowledgebase, and community). If they were not looking for technical support, we passed their questions about HubSpot features and pricing to our sales team.

chatbots-improve-customer-experience-experiment-2

We rolled out these bots across the primary site pages and saw an 80% increase in our sales team efficiency: a measure of success based on the number of meetings we booked divided by the total number of chats handled. And, it was a far better customer experience, as our customers could access technical support more easily.

It was a big win, but our work was hardly done. As we took a step back, we realized that this “support bot” experience was not serving all of our users. About 70% of our audience is visitors and leads, compared with 30% who are users and customers. This first bot experience was designed with only 30% of our audience in mind. Ignoring 70% of our audience meant we were leaving money on the table.

A Personalized Experience for All Visitors

We needed to create a personalized experience for the visitor and lead audiences, too.

With the “support bot” experience, it was odd to ask visitors and leads if they needed support when we knew they weren’t using our tools yet. Rather than directing visitors and leads to chat or support, we wanted to give these visitors their own “self-help” option. Why not give them the option to get started for free with the HubSpot CRM? That way they could start using our free tools or chat with our sales team about features and pricing for advanced tools.

chatbots-improve-customer-experience-experiment-3-1

Now we had designed two personalized experiences: one for those already using our software (customers) and those who had yet to experience it (visitors).

We believed this to be a better experience for each audience, because it offered contextual options based on their relationship with HubSpot. However, we wanted to test it first with an experiment.

Setting Up the Experiment

In order to test our hypothesis that this would be a better experience for both of these users, we set up an A/B test on one of our product pages so we could see exactly how the bot for visitors performed against the current bot experience (designed for customers).

First, we defined our metrics for success. We looked at:

  • Sales team efficiency: # of meetings booked by our sales team ÷ the number of chats they handled
  • # of signups for the CRM

We also compared these for each bot (control vs. variant), and by each audience (visitors vs. customer).

We chose one of our product pages and directed 50% of its site traffic to a cloned page with the new bot experience. The test was live and ready to run for one month while we waited (somewhat) patiently for the results.

chatbots-improve-customer-experience-experiment-4

Me, waiting at my desk

Experiment Results

We isolated our results for the audience the test was focused on: visitors. We looked at how the control (support bot) performed against the variant (lead bot).

  • Sales team efficiency: increased by almost 70% in the variant
  • # of CRM signups: increased by 7%

The increase in CRM signups indicated that visitors were finding the right option for them (starting for free) and diving in to try out our software for free.

As a result, fewer chats reached our sales team, but we saw a similar number of meetings booked to continue the sales conversation after a chat. This meant a couple of things:

  1. The sales team was able to spend more time and focus on higher quality chats that were more likely to turn into sales
  2. We weren’t losing demand, because we still saw a similar number of meetings booked. We were still capturing those interested in having a sales conversation, just in a more efficient way.

Better segmentation makes life better for everyone. Making a bot personalized for visitors helped the customers’ bot perform better as well. We learned the customer bot works very well for the audience it was designed for — performing 52% better when shown only to customers than when it was shown to all visitors.

Takeaways for Your Business

It’s important to recognize that different segments of your audience have different problems and what works for one audience isn’t the best for another. By understanding the problems that our visitors are facing, and personalizing their chatbot experience onsite, you can create a better prospect and customer experience. When you anticipate the help that people need better, your metrics will improve as well.

And you may be thinking, “OK, that sounds pretty good for HubSpot, but what about my business? How can I create a more contextual bot experience for my business?” Here’s how:

  1. Create a list of the various audiences you are serving on your website.
  2. For each audience, describe the types of questions they might have.
  3. Determine the resources or people who can best answer those questions so you can help them find what they are looking for faster and with less friction.

Then implement it! The HubSpot Conversations tool gives you the ability to target your chatflows with segmented lists based on data in your CRM so you can create a personalized experience as well.

Chatbots work shoulder-to-shoulder alongside with our sales team to provide an excellent, personalized purchase experience that also helps us identify visitors who are possible good fit customers.

Chatbots can do the same for your business and audience.

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Ad Tracking: What It Is & How to Do It

Back in the days of Mad Men-esque advertising agencies, tracking how many people engaged with a particular ad campaign was nearly impossible to do well. Advertisers would sink money into mediums like radio and print, and hope sales of the advertised product went up. There was no dependably accurate way to determine how many people engaged with an ad or purchased a product because of it. In fact, the term ROI (return on investment) wasn’t even widely used until the mid-1960s

A lot has changed since then. Advertisers now have access to a wealth of granular ad tracking data for every single campaign they run — so much data, in fact, that most marketers need to spend significant time sifting through dashboards to determine which points actually matter to their bottom line. Ad tracking has made it possible for marketers to more accurately measure, test, and revise ads based on how users interact with their online campaigns. 

If you’re new to running online ads, it’s important to spend some time thinking about the specific metrics that will determine the success of your campaign. Ad tracking today exists across a number of different tools and platforms, and advertisers have the ability to collect data on everything from views and clicks, to impressions and behavior across multiple sessions and websites.

The sheer amount of data available can be overwhelming (not to mention distracting from your goals), so deciding on one or two key performance indicators (KPIs) will help focus your efforts and make reporting more straightforward and effective. 

As William Stentz, Director of Marketing Analytics at Carmichael Lynch, reminds us, “Good key performance indicators are simple, timely, critical to the success of a project, and not financial in nature. But you also need to add in one thing if you want it to be a successful marketing metric — it must represent a key behavior you wanted to see. Look at your campaign and ask yourself: What’s the behavior I want to influence, not just something I can measure?”

We wrote an article here that can help you determine the right metrics to track based on the goals of your ad campaign. 

Once you’ve determined the metrics you want to track for your ad, it’s time to find the best ad tracking method for your purposes. The exact ad tracking methods available to you will vary based on where you run your ads and which tools you’re using, but here are a few basic types to keep in mind. It’s important to note that the following ad tracking methods aren’t mutually exclusive — in fact, when used together they can provide even more powerful insights. 

Tracking URLs

A tracking URL is a normal page URL from your website with a tracking token added to the end of it. Here’s an example landing page URL by itself, and with a tracking token (in bold).  

Regular old landing page URL: 

http://www.yourwebsite.com/your-landing-page/

Landing page URL with a tracking token: 

http://www.yourwebsite.com/your-landing-page/?utm_campaign=test-campaign&utm_source=email

As you can see, the page URL is the same in both cases, but in the second case, there’s some extra stuff added to the end. This extra stuff is your tracking token, also called a UTM parameter. 

So how does this “extra stuff” help you track things, exactly?

When a user clicks on a URL with a UTM parameter added to the end, it essentially sends a signal back to your ad tracking tool that the URL was clicked. The “source=_____” bit of the tracking token can provide information about where the user clicked the link. Similarly, the “campaign=_____” bit can be used to signal to your tracking tool that the link should be bucketed as part of a campaign.

For example, if you were to run the same ad on multiple websites and wanted to know which one generated the most clicks, you could define the two different websites as sources in the UTM parameters of your links. 

You can learn more about tracking parameters and how they work in this article

Best for: If you’re running a PPC campaign, sending an email, or putting an advertisement on another website, tracking URLs are ideal for calculating the number of visits, leads, and conversions you’ve generated from your hard work. 

Tracking Pixels

A tracking pixel is a tiny, often transparent, 1px by 1px image that can be placed in an email, display ad, or simply on a webpage. When it loads, it sends a signal back to your tracking tool that a user has viewed the page.

Tracking pixels are also capable of collecting pretty comprehensive data about a user’s activity and browser configuration — but you should only ever track information that is directly useful to your buyer’s journey and will provide a better, more personalized experience for your target users. 

When used correctly, tracking pixels can help optimize your ads and get them in front of a receptive audience. For example, if you run a banner ad with a tracking pixel, you’ll be able to gather information about how many people just view versus actually click on your ad, which will help you determine whether or not an ad was actually successful (and worth running again).

For context, here’s how big a tracking pixel appears (no, that’s not just a speck of dust on your screen):

Screen Shot 2019-06-25 at 1.50.11 PM

Best for: Tracking pixels are incredibly useful for tracking the success of your online campaigns through every step of your conversion path. They can give you insight into how users are interacting with your ads, and help you optimize each stage of your user journey from initial touch through final purchase. 

Cookies

Cookies can help you gain insight into user behavior on your website across multiple sessions of activity. Marketers need to gain explicit consent from users before using cookies to track their activity. When explicit consent is given, cookies can be used to customize a user’s experience. Here’s a deeper dive on cookies if you want to learn more about the technical aspects of how they function. 

From an ad tracking perspective, cookies are the driving force behind most ad retargeting campaigns. Cookies can be used to essentially build a user profile based on someone’s web activity and habits, and advertisers can leverage this profile to serve ads that align with a user’s observed interests. They can also capture information about a user’s browser configuration, location, and preferred language.

Best for: Cookies are ideal when you want to serve a user ads aligned with their web browsing activity, or retarget them with ads for products they’ve demonstrated an interest in. Cookies can also be used to create a personalized experience for users on your website based on their previous interactions with you — for example, you could create an abandoned cart email when users put items in their cart and then leave your website.

Now that we’ve gone over a few core terms related to ad targeting, let’s take a deeper look at how ad targeting functions on a few of the biggest ad tracking platforms, and how you can use it to make your own ad campaigns stronger and more effective. 

DoubleClick Ad Tracking

If you’ve ever noticed an ad for a product you viewed weeks ago following you around on the internet, it’s likely the result of DoubleClick ad tracking. DoubleClick, which was acquired by Google in 2008, is an ad management and ad serving platform that enables marketers to run ad campaigns across multiple channels.

Online publishers use DoubleClick to essentially rent out ad space on their websites, and agencies and advertisers use the product to place ads on websites where their target audiences are spending time. 

In 2012, Google rebranded their DoubleClick products as Google Marketing Platform (formerly DoubleClick), Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), and Google Ad Manager (formerly DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange). 

Google offers advertisers a number of different ad tracking options when they create campaigns on the platform — most of which rely on the use of cookies.

According to Google, “Cookies themselves contain no personally identifiable information. Depending on the publisher’s and user’s settings, information associated with cookies used in advertising may be added to the user’s Google Account.”

These generic cookies can collect information on the time and date you viewed particular ads, the specific web pages you were on when you viewed an ad, and your IP address — which can help the cookie infer where you’re located. 

Although the cookies contain no personally identifiable information, Google can combine the information it obtains via cookies with the personally identifiable information associated with your Google Account (which includes your browsing and search activity when you’re logged into Google — which, for most of us, is pretty much always). 

Google leverages two main types of cookies: first-party and third-party.

First-party cookies are dropped (i.e., assigned to a specific user) by the owner of the website you’re visiting. Information collected via first-party cookies can help publishers better understand your activity on their site and how ads are performing.

Third-party cookies are dropped by an advertiser on a website where their ads are being displayed. These cookies send information back to advertisers about how their ad campaigns are performing across all the websites where their DoubleClick ads are being displayed. 

Over 11.1 million websites currently run ads as part of Google’s AdSense network. If you visit a website within the network, the information collected via a DoubleClick ad tracking cookie will be pooled and leveraged by other websites and advertisers using AdSense.

This consolidation of cookie information results in an extremely rich pool of data for Google advertisers, as they can keep track of what ads you’re served across millions of different websites. 

To get started tracking ads with Google, you’ll need to get a Google Marketing Platform account. Depending on the size of your business and your particular needs, you’ll choose either an enterprise account — which can accommodate large ad campaigns across multiple websites and mediums — or a small business account — with ad tracking tools more focused and specialized for early company growth. 

Facebook Ad Tracking

Advertisers on Facebook can leverage a number of different ad tracking strategies to optimize ads for their audience. Facebook’s ad tracking pixel is one of the more common methods. It functions similarly to the basic tracking pixel we outlined above, and can be used to track the path someone takes from viewing an ad, to visiting your website, to purchasing a product. 

When an action takes place on a page where a tracking pixel has been set up, the pixel will “fire” and send that information back to your Facebook Events Manager account. Information collected via the tracking pixel can also be used in the creation of custom audiences for future ad campaigns.

For example, you could use data collected via a tracking pixel to create a custom ad audience targeting users who viewed a particular page on your website that implies purchase intent — like a pricing page. We wrote an article that goes deeper into how the tracking pixel functions if you want to learn more about different uses and how to set it up. 

While the Facebook pixel can offer advertisers valuable insights into how ads are influencing specific actions on their websites, it’s not the only way to track ads on the social network.

Another ad tracking option available to you is adding UTM parameters to links that appear on your ads. As we discussed above, tracking parameters use extra code on a URL to “fire” when a user loads the link. On Facebook, they can be used in Ads Manager to better understand which ads you’re running are driving which types of traffic. 

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29 Email Deliverability Tips You Must Know in 2019

Marketers spend a lot of time drafting poignant email copy, designing wonderfully branded email templates, and crafting succinct and enticing email subject lines that get open and click-through rates skyrocketing.

But before hitting send, have you considered whether your subscribers will even get the opportunity to read your email?

No matter how legitimate of an email marketer you are, there are a host of things you may not even know about that can prevent your email from ever reaching someone’s inbox. With more stringent laws and increasingly sophisticated spam filters, it’s to your benefit to know everything that can affect your email’s deliverability.

If steering clear of legal trouble isn’t enough to convince you, squeezing more ROI out of your email marketing efforts certainly should. Take a look at the things you should absolutely never do in your email marketing if you want your messages to be successfully delivered, and the things you can proactively do to increase your rate of email deliverability.

The first step in improving email deliverability will be to run a test to see if you are encountering any issues. To learn more about email deliverability test tools, click here

29 Ways to Avoid Sending Spam Email & Improve Your Email Deliverability

What You Should Never Do

1. Don’t buy or rent email lists.

Yes, you can legally rent and purchase lists of people who have agreed to email communications — but it’s never a good idea. Not only is it a dirty email marketing tactic that goes against the Terms of Service for your email service provider, but these people don’t actually know you — and it’s likely they won’t even want your emails. In other words, there’s a good change they’ll mark you as spam. Plus, let’s be honest … high quality email addresses are never for sale.

2. Don’t scrape sites for email addresses.

Scraping websites for email addresses may seem like a fast way to build a contact list, but it’s bad for your business — not to mention illegal in many countries, including the United States, thanks to the CAN-SPAM Act.

3. Don’t email people who have bounced repeatedly.

Hard bounces are the result of an invalid, closed, or non-existent email address, and these emails will never be successfully delivered. Bounce rates are one of the key factors internet service providers (ISPs) use to determine an email sender’s reputation, so having too many hard bounces can cause them to stop allowing your emails in folks’ inboxes.

(Email deliverability is covered extensively in HubSpot’s free email marketing certification course, so check that out to learn more.)

4. Don’t use all caps anywhere in your email or its subject line.

Don’t yell at people. It’s not nice. Using all caps in your subject line might get the recipients’ attention, but probably not in a good way. Using all caps can really rub people the wrong way. It’s annoying and can seem spammy.

In fact, according to a study by the Radicati Group, more than 85% of respondents prefer an all-lowercase subject line to one in all caps.

Instead of using disruptive tactics like all caps to get people’s attention, try personalizing your emails, establishing relevancy, and using catchy and delightful language. (Read this blog post on how to write compelling emails for more tips.)

5. Don’t use exclamation points!!!!!

Another thing that can make your subject line and/or email look unprofessional and spammy? Exclamation points — especially a whole bunch of them in a row. And when 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line, you’ll want to stay away from triggers like this as much as you can.

Plus, when you ask punctuation to do a word’s job, it can really dilute your message. The next time you’re tempted to use an exclamation point in an email (or anywhere, really), use this flowchart, “Should I Use an Exclamation Point?”, as a gut check.

6. Don’t use video, Flash, or JavaScript within your email.

By default, most email clients don’t allow the ability to view rich media like Flash or video embeds. Instead, use an image of your video player (with a play button) that links to the rich media on a website page.

As for JavaScript and other dynamic scripts, even if a spam filter allows your email through, most email clients won’t allow these scripts to function — so avoid using them altogether.

7. Don’t embed forms in your emails.

Forms aren’t supported in email across common email clients due to security risks. Instead, place a call-to-action button or a link to a landing page with a form in the body of your email.

(HubSpot customers: Learn how to add a call-to-action button to your emails in HubSpot here, and how to create a form for your landing pages in HubSpot here.)

8. Don’t include attachments to your emails.

If you want to send your recipients something like a PDF or a Word document, don’t attach the file to the email — otherwise your email could get blocked by spam filters. Instead, upload the attachment to your website and link to the file location in your email using an effective call-to-action button. This’ll minimize the chance of being blocked by spam filters and decrease the load time of your email.

(HubSpot users: HubSpot’s attachment tool in the email editor automatically does this for you. Simply highlight a bit of text or an image and click the attachment icon, and HubSpot will turn that text or image into a link leading to that attachment.)

9. Don’t use spam trigger words.

One of easiest ways to avoid spam filters is by carefully choosing the words you use in your email’s subject line. A good rule of thumb is this: If it sounds like something a used car salesman would say, it’s probably a spam trigger word. Think “free,” “guarantee,” no obligation,” and so on. (For more, look at this list of common spam trigger words.)

Instead of using these trigger words, be creative, interesting, and informative — without giving too much away. Some better ideas for subject lines include:

  • “Hi [name], [question]?”
  • “Did you get what you were looking for?”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “Feeling blue? Like puppies?”

10. Don’t use a red font when drafting your emails.

Same goes for using invisible text, i.e. a white font on top of a white background. These are common tricks that spammers use, so it’s an instant red flag for spam filters.

In fact, people don’t like when marketers use irregular fonts, font sizes, and font colors at all in emails. In that same study by the Radicati Group, out of the top 10 objectionable email trends, four revolve around fonts. Over 60% of respondents considered it unacceptable for email marketers to use different font sizes, irregular fonts, and different font colors. Nearly 70% of respondents prefer fonts to be one size.

11. Don’t forget to use spell check.

According to that Radicati Group study, 80% of all respondents find spelling and grammatical errors the most unacceptable email offense. But spelling mistakes aren’t just unprofessional — they’re actually a spam trigger, too.

It’s easy for little spelling mistakes to slip by — especially when you’re self-editing. Read this post to learn the most common spelling and grammar mistakes so you never make them again.

12. Don’t jam pack your email copy with keywords.

Keyword-stuffing your emails means shoving as many keywords into your emails as you can. There’s a reason Google give a lower rank to webpages that are stuffed with keywords — and that’s because it’s harmful to user experience. No one wants to read content that’s optimized for a robot.

To make it more likely folks will open your emails and not mark them as spam, write your emails for humans, not robots. Copywriting that makes people want to take action is both simple and compelling. To make your writing sound more personable and relatable, use casual language, colloquial expressions, and even personal anecdotes.

I love the example below from Turnstyle Cycle (from our roundup of 12 great email marketing examples). The copy is beautiful in its simplicity. It’s friendly, yet sincere — especially with the following lines:

  • “We know you are busy and would hate to see you miss out”
  • “Please let us know if we can help accommodate in any way possible”
  • “Feel free to give us a call – we want to help :)”

Plus, they provided me with the exact details I needed to know — a reminder of what I’d signed up for and when, the expiration date, and a phone number to reach them. Check it out:

turnstyle-email-copy-example.png

13. Don’t use an overwhelming number of images, or huge images.

Using one large image as your entire email, or too many images in general, tends to end up in recipients’ spam folders.

You’ll also want to make your image file sizes as small as possible without losing their visual integrity to prevent long email load times. (If you’re a HubSpot user, the email tool automatically compresses images in emails so they load faster. For non-HubSpot users, some good image compression tools include Compressor.io, Compressjpeg.com, and Jpegmini.com.)

Not to mention, Microsoft Outlook doesn’t recognize background images, so you may want to avoid those and use a background color instead.

What You Should Do

14. Keep your email lists current and clean.

Even if your list is entirely built on valid opt-ins, you are at risk of being branded a “spammer” if you don’t practice proper email hygiene. Why? Because internet service providers (ISPs) base complaint rates on active subscribers, not total subscribers.

Also, expired email addresses can turn into SPAM traps, meaning that even if you acquired emails in a legitimate manner, the abandoned addresses that haven’t engaged in years may have morphed into spam traps. Hitting even just one spam trap can cause deliverability problems.

Expired email addresses can also turn into unknown users (bounces). If you hit unknown accounts at a rate higher that 5%, then ISPs are going to see you as someone who has really bad email hygiene. The result? They’ll make it harder for your emails to reach people’s inboxes, and your overall sender reputation will definitely drop — leading to even more trouble reaching people’s inboxes.

By keeping your email lists current and clean, you’ll decrease the likelihood people will flag your emails as spam. You can identify inactive subscribers and expired email addresses with metrics such as opens, clicks, or website activity.

15. See if you can reengage inactive or infrequently active subscribers.

“Graymail” refers to email people technically opted in to receive, but don’t really want, leading them to become less active or inactive altogether. Although it’s not considered spam, sending graymail is problematic because it can hurt the deliverability of your email overall. Tipped off by low engagement rates, ISPs and inbox providers may deliver email from known-graymail senders straight to recipients’ “junk” folders — so the email technically gets sent (and can even appear to have been delivered), but it’s not necessarily seen.

Keep track of your inactive and infrequently active subscribers, and develop re-engagement campaigns for contacts who have stopped engaging with your messages. For example, you could set conditions such as the length of time since their last form submission, website visit, or email click, triggering the email when it’s been a while since a contact last engaged with you.

In your workflow, you might try sending them an exclusive offer or coupon to get them excited about your company again. Or, you might ask them for feedback by sending out a quick survey to see what they would like to see in your emails. (Read this blog post for more ideas for launching an effective email re-engagement campaign.)

16. Do use double opt-in.

Double opt-in means that after someone subscribes to your email list, you send them a follow-up email with a confirmation link ensuring they actually want to receive email communications from you.

Users that have to confirm that they want email communications from your company are the ones that will fully read and engage with the emails they receive from your business. When you use double opt-in, your email lists will be much more qualified and your subscribers much more engaged. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to set up double opt-in in HubSpot here.)

17. Ask your subscribers to add you to their address book.

Spam filters are more aggressive than ever — so much so that sometimes, the emails people value and want to read still end up in their spam boxes.

But most spam filters allow you to whitelist a sender by adding their email address to their email’s address book. When subscribers add you to their address book, spam filters will back off.

18. You must include a clear unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address in your email footer.

Allowing people to unsubscribe is important for list hygiene because anyone receiving your emails should actually want to receive them — otherwise, you’re just spamming them. But did you know that it’s illegal to not have a way for your recipients to easily unsubscribe in many countries, including the United States?

In your marketing emails, you must include a way for folks to unsubscribe from your email list, either by simply sending a reply email or by clicking no more than one level deep to reach a page from which they can unsubscribe. Which method you choose is entirely up to you, as long as the information is clear and easy to locate.

The most common place for these unsubscribe CTAs is in the footer of your email, so users tend to know to look for it there — which makes for a better user experience. Here’s an example from one of HubSpot’s emails:

unsubscribe-1.png

In addition to the unsubscribe link, include a link to update subscriber preferences, which you can also see in the example above. That way, recipients can unsubscribe from just one type of email instead of all of them.

19. Honor your unsubscribes and remove them from your mailing list.

If someone unsubscribes, they must come off your email list. It’s the law. This should go without saying. Check out this list of effective unsubscribe pages to make the unsubscribe process a little more delightful for recipients.

This is where email marketing software that integrates seamlessly with your CRM comes in handy — because any unsubscribes are immediately processed and recorded in both the contact record and within the email software. (But if you’re removing unsubscribed addresses from your list manually, make it a top priority to process that request.)

20. Use a familiar sender name.

Because people are so inundated with SPAM, they hesitate to open email from unfamiliar senders. Make sure recipients can recognize you in your sender by using your brand name.

Better yet, send the email from a real person. Recipients are typically more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one. At HubSpot we found that that emails sent from “Maggie Georgieva, HubSpot” perform better in terms of open and clickthrough rate than emails sent from just “HubSpot.” (HubSpot customers: Learn how to personalize the “From” name and email address here.)

21. Include your recipient’s name in the “To:” field.

This way, spam filters know that you do, indeed, know your recipient. Plus, personalizing your emails around your contacts can also be vital to their engagement with your content.

22. Offer recipients both an HTML and a plain text version of your emails.

Plain text emails are simply emails void of any formatting, while HTML (HyperText Markup Language) emails use formatting that let you design more beautiful emails with attractive visual components. By offering both a plain text and HTML version of a single email, you’re not only indicating your legitimacy to ISPs, but you’re also making your emails more reader-friendly.

Most email marketing tools will let you easily create plain-text versions within their email editor, so take those five extra minutes to create and optimize the plain-text version of your email. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to create a plain-text email in HubSpot here.)

Also, make sure the HTML version is properly coded: If there are broken tags in your HTML, the email provider and users might mark it as spam.

23. Allow people to view your email in a web browser.

Even after every step is taken to assure proper email design, an email client can still display an email poorly. Include a link in every email to view the email as a web page. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to do this easily in HubSpot here.)

View-As-A-Web-Page-Link-1.png

24. Include alt text in your email images.

Many email clients block images by default. This means that when someone opens your email, the images won’t load unless they click a button to show them or change their default settings. Adding alt text to your images helps recipients understand your message even if they can’t see the images.

This is especially bad if you use an image as a call-to-action. Without alt text, a “turned off” image will look like this:

When you add alt text to the image, recipients will still know where to click to complete the action:

This is what an image with alt-text looks like.

You can either edit the alt text in your email tool’s rich text editor (just right-click the image and edit away), or you can manually enter it in the HTML editor of your email tool like this:

One of the best ways to keep things short and sweet is to write like a human. Writing your email like you were talking to someone in real life makes it feel much more approachable and relevant. (Read this blog post on how to write compelling emails for more tips.)

If you do have to write a lengthier email, then break it up into multiple paragraphs. Giving visual breaks and composing the email with a clear introduction, middle, and conclusion will make it much easier on your reader.

26. Test your emails before sending them.

There are a lot of email clients out there these days that email marketers have to consider when creating emails. On top of that, we have to consider mobile users, too — after all, 53% of people read email on their mobile devices.

It turns out each of these clients displays emails differently. While it may be time-consuming to test out your emails for all email clients, you’ll want to test them for the ones your audience uses the most. According to Litmus’ research of 1.06 billion email opens, the top five email clients are:

  1. Apple iPhone’s Mail app (28% of users)
  2. Gmail (16% of users)
  3. Apple iPad’s Mail app (11% of users)
  4. Google Android’s Mail app (9% of users)
  5. Outlook (9% of users)

If your email marketing tool lets you, go ahead and preview what your email looks like in different email clients and devices that are popular with your audience. (HubSpot customers: Use our Preview in other inboxes feature to send a test email and see how the design of your email looks in each email client.)

You should also send out a test version of your email before you send out the real deal to ensure it’s working properly. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to test your emails here.)

27. Get an email sender accreditation from a third party.

Sender accreditation is a third-party process of verifying email senders and requiring them to follow certain usage guidelines. In return, you’ll be listed in a trusted listing that ISPs reference to allow certain emails to bypass email filters.

28. Monitor the reputation of your sender’s IP address.

Your emails’ deliverability depends largely on your IP address’ reputation. If you’re sending email from an IP address with a poor reputation, your emails are far less likely to be successfully delivered to senders’ inboxes.

DNSstuff.com lets you check on whether or not you are a blacklisted sender — something many unlucky email marketers aren’t even aware of.

29. Always stay up-to-date on changes in email sending laws, ISP behavior, and spam filter technology.

Email marketing is constantly evolving, and staying in the know helps ensure you’re always following best practices — and the law. Responsible and legitimate email marketers make a point of regularly reading up on email sending laws, ISP behavior, and spam filter technology.

If you’re looking for more information, check in with your company’s legal department or a trusted lawyer to ensure you’re staying within the boundaries of the law. Want to learn more about email deliverability? Watch class six in our HubSpot Academy’s Email Marketing Certification course taught by HubSpot’s Post Master, Tom Monaghan.

Email Deliverability Test Tools

If your email platform doesn’t offer enough deliverability analytics, we suggest using other tools that can help you test for delivery issues before your message goes out to your mailing list.

Here are three free tools that you can use:

Mail-Tester.com

Every time someone visits Mail-Tester.com, they’ll see a treehouse with a auto-generated email address listed on it that changes every time you visit the site. You can send your email to the address listed, then click “Check Your Score.” Mail-Tester will then give you a free email deliverability score based on the email that was sent to the unique email address.

The software will analyze the text in the message, your mail server, and IP to determine if there are any deliverability issues. Free users can access the report for seven days. You can also subscribe for unlimited email tests and reports that last for 30 days.

Spamcheck

Spamcheck is a simple and free tool that allows you to paste a plain text message into a text box and analyze it for any language that might trigger spam filtering.

After placing the text and clicking “Check your score,” the software will give you a score out of 10 based on what’s included and not included in the email body. For a bad email, it might look something like this:

Spamcheck ScoreMxToolBox

MxToolBox allows you to test your email deliverability by sending a test email to ping@tools.mxtoolbox.com. This email address will reply to the email with a linked call to action that says “View your full Deliverability Report.” You can then click on the CTA to see a deliverability score and information about what might stopping your email from going into inboxes. If you want to see your result later on, but no longer have the reply email, you can search for the result using your email address on the MxToolBox site

Still want to learn more about email marketing after reading the tips above? Consider taking HubSpot’s free email marketing certification course, which will walk you through even more best practices.

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