25 of the Best WordPress Plugins for Marketers (es-la)

Did you know there are over 56,000 WordPress plugins available today?

WordPress plugins allow you to enhance your website’s functionality by adding features and capabilities that don’t come standard with the system.

From writing tools to SEO tips to analytics, WordPress plugins will help you arrive at any solution you’re seeking, all while keeping your website as speedy as possible and saving you time along the way, too.

But with so many options available, it’s tough to figure out the best ones to use.

That’s why we’ve done the work for you.Use HubSpot tools on your WordPress website and connect the two platforms  without dealing with code. Click here to learn more.Below you’ll find a list of the 25 best WordPress plugins (not in any specific order) that every marketer should explore.

 

These 25 plugins have been reviewed by some of the top marketers in the industry. They’ll also keep both you and your WordPress website running efficiently and effectively. If you want more, check out the official WordPress plugin page.

1. HubSpot Contact Form Builder and Conversion Tools

HubSpot-contact-form-builder-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

HubSpot’s drag and drop form builder allows you to easily build contact forms to use on your WordPress website. The plugin also includes a pop-up creator, live chat widget, contact database, and previously-written code for you to simply copy and paste into WordPress.

HubSpot’s Contact Form Builder plug-in is unique because it’s an all in one plugin — it helps you stay efficient by keeping all of its features in a single location. Christine Kilbride of Majux Marketing says having a large number of “plugins can slow down your site.” But because HubSpot provides everything in one plugin, the tool keeps your site fast and responsive.

2. The SEO Framework

the-seo-framework-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

With The SEO Framework, your website’s search rankings will improve drastically with the help of the plugin’s numerous, automatic optimization features. These features have the ability to optimize every page, post, and term on your website so it is not only easier to find on the internet, but it is also more searchable on all social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. No matter if you’re new to SEO or an expert in API, The SEO Framework will help you optimize your website.

3. Jetpack

jetpack-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

Jetpack is an all-in-one WordPress plugin that offers advanced features such content tools, mobile themes, and more. You can take advantage of all of Jetpack’s features to enhance your website, or pick and choose just what you want to activate based on your unique needs. Some of these features include automated social media posting, site statistics and analytics, and different SEO tools to help you measure and promote your website success.

4. Just Writing

just-writing-wordpress-plugin

Source: Just Writing

Just Writing takes WordPress’ Distraction-Free Writing Mode (DFWM) to a whole new level. This plugin introduces important features like spellcheck and paragraph styling to help you focus on your words without having to constantly drop out of DFWM to implement basic formatting.

5. Pretty Link

pretty-link-wordpress-plugin

Source: Pretty Link

Pretty Link makes it easy to manage and track your internal website links. You can shorten links (the way you would on a site like bit.ly), track the number of hits to a link, discover traffic sources, and find out the browser and host provider of your site visitors. You can also use the plugin to easily create redirects (301, 302, and 307s). 

6. Google XML Sitemaps

google-xml-sitemaps-wordpress-plugin

Source:  WordPress

The Google XML Sitemap plugin makes it easier for search engines, like Google and Yahoo, to crawl your site and retrieve information. It will also notify search engines when you create new content so you don’t have to manually submit changes to search engines.

7. Pixel Caffeine

Pixel-caffeine-wordpress-plugin

SourceWordPress

Pixel Caffeine allows you to manage Facebook Pixel and Facebook Product Catalog all within the plugin. Tony Capetola of Sales Orders says Pixel Caffeine is a great plugin because “marketers can make use of some more advanced features like the ability to track Facebook Ad conversions within WordPress’s dashboard, the ability to create custom audiences based on last visit time (retention window), WordPress taxonomies (categories, tags, etc.), and previous customers behavior (works with WooCommerce), etc.”

Added bonus: Pixel Caffeine automatically keeps up with Facebook’s latest updates so you don’t have to.

8. Broken Link Checker

broken-link-checker

Source: WordPress

Want to prevent Google from following broken links on your website? Broken Link Checker parses your posts to identify broken links and notify you when they surface. To save you time, the plugin makes it easy for you to edit a broken link from the plugin page, eliminating the need to manually go into each post to make changes.

9.  Calculated Fields Form

Calculated-fields-form-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

“[Calculated Fields Form] allows you to create simple calculators for your WordPress site. You can easily build finance calculators, quote calculators, booking cost calculators, health/ fitness calculators, and other link-worthy tools,” says Roy Harmon of Advertoscope.

With this plugin, you can also create forms with automatically calculated fields and use predefined form templates that will save you time and ensure accuracy.

10. Akismet

akismet-wordpress-plugin

Source: Spider My Web

Akismet helps you avoid (and eliminate) spammy comments on your blog. The plugin automatically reviews and filters comments when it detects any signs of spam. You can easily keep tabs on which comments are caught or  filtered to maintain control over what’s being displayed on your site.

11. All in One SEO Pack

all-in-one-seo-pack-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

All in One SEO Pack helps you optimize your WordPress website for organic search. The plugin works for people with varying levels of SEO experience, from the non-technical to the coders.

Kim Smith of GoodFirms says, “The plugin supports content as well as image XML sitemap while providing advanced canonical URLs. It supports key Google SEO tools such as AMP and Analytics and notifies search engines about the updates and changes”.

The plugin has XML sitemap and image XML sitemap support (which is what informs Google about the URLs on your website that are available for crawling), and it also provides you with support in other areas including Google Analytics and custom post types, which is helpful for marketers who are working to measure the success of their campaigns or SEO work and goals.

12) Title Experiments

title-experiments-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

The title of a blog post has a direct impact on click-through rates (CTR). Title Experiments makes it easy for you to A/B test one title against another so you can track what converts best and increase your CTR.

13. TablePress

tablepress-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

TablePress is a plugin that helps you create, customize, and embed beautiful and unique tables on your WordPress site. Your tables can include all types of data and be placed anywhere on your website. Swadhin Agrawa of DigitalGYD.com says, “TablePress makes it insanely easy for anyone to create a customizable and responsive table on their blogs.”

14. Editorial Calendar

editorial-calendar-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

Keep your blog organized with the help of this plugin. Editorial Calendar uses a drag-and-drop functionality to simplify the way you schedule and manage your blog content. You can also manage posts from multiple authors, quickly edit titles and publishing times, and manage drafts within the plugin.

15. TinyPNG

Tiny-png-wordpress-plugin

Source: TinyPNG

“This free plugin allows you to quickly compress images so they load faster. This is important for SEO value and ensuring people don’t bounce off your pages due to slow load times,”  says Todd Kunsman of EveryoneSocial.

TinyPNG will make your website faster by automatically optimizing your JPEG and PNG images upon upload, renaming them to TinyPNG and TinyJPEG. Images are analyzed, and then the plugin compresses them appropriately. Once this happens, the image is then sent back to your WP website to replace the original image. The plugin will make your website load faster while saving you storage space.

16. Smush

smush-wordpress-plugin

SourceWordPress

“Smush quickly compresses and optimizes images in bulk, letting you focus on other things,” says Izaak Crook of AppInstitute. Smush servers do all of the work for you, meaning your images will remain high-quality while reducing their file size. This frees up space on your server so your website will be significantly faster.

17. W3 Total Cache

w3-total-cache-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

Looking to improve the performance of your website? This optimization plugin helps all marketers deliver a better user experience by increasing server performance, reducing load times, and providing CDN integration (which increases your website’s performance and decreases loading time to enhance user experience).

18. Imsanity

imsanity-wordpress-plugin

Source: Imsanity

“Imsanity is a popular, free WP plugin for managing image file size. It automatically resizes images without loss of quality and saves you from having to manually scale them before upload,” says Marina Dolcic of MorningScore.

The Imsanity plugin matches the size of your images with the display in a browser. It resizes previously uploaded images by automatically scaling them down and replacing the original images with the new versions, which saves you time as all of the work is done for you.

19. OptinMonster

optinmonster-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

Looking to grow your email list? This plugin comes with an easy-to-use form builder to help you create opportunities for your visitors to convert. From popups to slide-ins to sidebar forms, OptinMonster offers a variety of different templates for lead generation forms. The plugin also integrates with several email marketing providers, such as MailChimp, HubSpot, AWeber, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor.

20. Revive Old Post

revive-old-post-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

Formerly known as Tweet Old Post, this plugin helps marketers extend the life of their old social posts by automatically re-sharing them to social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You have the ability to schedule posts and manage multiple accounts so you can easily drive more traffic to your content.

21. Head, Footer and Post Injections

Header-footer-post-injections-wordpress-plugins

Source: WordPress

Most WordPress users end up needing to use several plugins — some people even use dozens. Head, Footer and Post Injections is a plugin that allows you to copy any unique code that you use for other plugins, keep it in a centralized and organized location, and easily insert it wherever needed. The plugin is theme-independent, meaning you’ll never lose your data (no matter how many times you change your website theme).

22. Google Analytics by Monster Insights

google-analytics-moster-insights-wordpress-plugin

Source: WordPress

This plugin uses an API with Google Analytics that makes it easy for you to track the performance of your blog directly from your WordPress account. With added data for search result pages and error pages, Google Analytics by MonsterInsights makes performance reporting easy.

23. Redirection

Redirection-wordpress-plugin

Source : Redirection

Redirection is a free redirect manager that allows you to set up your 301 redirects and manage 404 errors. There is a logging feature so you can see all of the redirects on your site as well as information about each visitor that is redirected.

24. Yoast SEO

yoast-seo-wordpress-plugin

Source: Yoast

Yoast is your all in one SEO plugin.

“This highly effective WordPress plugin makes the process of delivering SEO improvements on a site much easier,” says Sean Flannigan of coolblueweb.

Yoast helps you get the most out of your website SEO with straightforward XML Sitemaps, breadcrumb navigation control, content analysis, snippet previews, and several integrations that show you how your website performs in different search engines. Nicolas Straut of Fundera, says, “This plugin identifies and suggests solutions for potential SEO problems in your content, identifies what you’ve done well and helps you easily edit your snippet, keywords, and other post details.”

25. Autoptimize

Autoptimize-wordpress-plugin

SourceStackPath

“[Autoptimize] makes it easy for non-technical marketers to make their sites lightning fast. We all know how important it is to have a fast website — without it, our Google rankings suffer and potential customers will go somewhere else,” says Jon Nastor of Hack the Entrepreneur.

This plugin aggregates and caches (a.k.a. stores) scripts and styles, which enhance your site’s overall performance. Autoptimize also has extensive API available so you can tailor the plugin to your website’s needs.

These are only 25 of the thousands of WordPress plugins available to marketers. WordPress plugins can help you improve your site, whether it’s speeding up your page load time, improving your site’s functionality, or tracking metrics. These powerful tools are often free, have features tailored to individuals and businesses of all sizes, and are fairly easy to use. Give a plugin or two a try and see how much it enhances your day-to-day WordPress experience — and your business.

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7 Inspiring Brand Activations to Help You Launch Your Own

One of my favorite themes from the critically-acclaimed show Mad Men is that 1960’s advertising was based off the half-truth that you would be happier if you owned more material possesions.

At the beginning of the series, the show’s main adman, Don Draper, passionately believes in this notion. It helps him sell whatever he advertises and it’s also the concept he molds his life around. Not only does Don sell the lie of money, status, and material items being the keys to happiness, but he also lives it.

Click here to download our comprehensive guide to effective and measurable  branding.

By the end of the series, though, Don realizes materialism can only bring him so much joy. Real happiness stems from living his life to the fullest, forging genuine relationships with his loved ones, and staying true to himself.

Mad Men taught people a powerful lesson about the pursuit of happiness, and today, psychologists and neuroscientists want to do the same.

Thomas Gilvich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, urges people to prioritize experiences over material possessions because that’s what actually leads to happiness.

To explain further, while you can attach material items like your new iPhone or car to your identity, these objects eventually lose their allure. Eventually, you’ll throw them away to replace them with the newest, trend-setting product. So if you really think about it, material items can never really be apart of your true identity.

On the other hand, you’re the sum of your experiences, so they’re ingrained in your identity. Sharing experiences with people also has a special ability to forge close relationships. Even if experiences end like your relationships with material objects do, they’ll always be a part of your story, allowing you to bond with other people who’ve shared similar experiences.

In marketing, engaging your target audience in experiences is one of the best ways to resonate emotionally with them. And some of the most memorable experiences you can host are called brand activations. 

Brand Activation Examples

1. Vitamin Water | Brandon

I usually don’t pay much attention to subway ads, but Vitamin Water’s “Brandon” was so funny, it literally made me laugh out loud, get out of my seat, and take a picture of the ad.

But what I witnessed a few weeks later is arguably even more hilarious. When I was walking around Boston one Sunday afternoon, I strolled past Forbes’ Under 30 Summit and saw a guy holding a sign that said, “Need Handshaking Tips?”.

This guy seriously seemed like he was trying to give handshaking tips to the attendees of the event, but I needed to see for myself. When he told me what his handshaking service truly was about, though, I snorted out loud.

The guy was a part of Vitamin Water’s “Brandon” marketing campaign — the one I saw a subway ad for a few weeks back. There were also other members of the campaign, handing out Brandon’s business cards, some swag, and even bottles of Vitamin Water.

The funniest (and most impressive) part of the “Brandon” marketing campaign, though, was that the members acted like they actually worked for Brandon. No matter how many times I prodded them about working for Vitamin Water, they stuck to their act.

Vitamin Water’s “Brandon” campaign resonated with so many people because instead of just giving subway riders a quick laugh on their way to work, they made the extra effort to interact with their target audience and bring the ad to life. To make things even more personal, Brandon accepts all of his LinkedIn requests.

2. InVision | Design Disruptors Documentary

In 2016, InVision, a digital product design platform, embarked on a creative journey that no other B2B brand has ever stepped foot toward — they made a documentary. But crafting a feature-length film that could honestly list on Netflix wasn’t the most impressive accomplishment in this creative journey. It was actually their distribution strategy.

Instead of uploading their documentary to every digital platform possible, InVision stuck to the fundamentals of film — they ran four red carpet premieres, which each attracted over 1,000 attendees. They also set up independent community screenings where organizations can sign up to show the film to their design team or special interest group. By November 2017, InVision had ran over 1,500 independent community screenings across the world.

By crafting a refreshingly creative piece of art and innovating on the typical distribution playbook most B2B brands use, InVision was able to drive over 70,000 leads, connect with industry leaders that they’d never have access to otherwise, and develop relationships with the design team leads at huge brands like NBC.

3. HBO | SXSWestworld

To promote the second season of their hit show Westworld, HBO built a miniature replica of the show’s Wild-West-themed amusement park in Austin, Texas for attendees of SXSW 2018 to explore.

With over 40 “hosts” who guided attendees on their own unique narrative within Sweetwater, the attendees felt like they were actually in an episode of Westworld, traversing a town full of trotting horses, troublemaking bandits, and money-hungry gamblers.

The park also contained clues of season two’s storyline and new characters, which helped generate a ton of suspense and anticipation for its upcoming premiere.

4. Charity Water | Waterwalk

Image Credit: Huffington Post

Charity Water, an organization that creates clean water sources for remote villages in developing nations, gave attendees at a trade show an experience they will always remember.

By setting up a booth where guests could carry two 40 pound jugs of water across a 50 yard platform, which African villagers do for miles every single day, attendees realized how challenging it is for villagers in developing nations to access something that most people can obtain with the twist of a faucet, boosting the odds that attendees would donate more money to the cause.

5. Nordstrom | Merchandise-free Shops

Image Credit: Retail Dive

Nordstrom is famous for their luxury merchandise, but in 2017, they decided to set up special shops that only sell experiences. By providing styling, makeover, and sampling services, Nordstrom can pull their customers into delightful, memorable experiences that make much more of an emotional impact than buying a product. These experiences also make for a compelling story that consumers will always remember and be more than happy to share with one another.

6. Netflix | Altered Carbon at CES

At CES 2018, Netflix designed one of the most popular booths at the event. But it didn’t showcase the inner workings of their recommendations algorithm or their process for green lighting shows. It actually spotlighted a concept their show Altered Carbon revolves around — immortality.

In their booth, fictional employees from Psychasec, the company that offers transfers of their clients’ consciousness to new bodies, or “sleeves”, in Altered Carbon, pitched the benefits of their service and even displayed some models of their sleeves.

Netflix deeply immersed CES’ attendees in the narrative of their hit sci-fi show, and it made them feel like they could actually live forever — if only Psychasec’s service was real.

7. CALM | Project 84

In the U.K., suicide is the number one cause of death of men aged 18 – 45. CALM, a suicide prevention charity, decided to spread awareness for the issue by creating 84 life-size sculptures of hooded-men, which is the the number of men who take their own lives every week in the U.K., and placing them on top of one of U.K.’s top TV network’s building.

Every sculpture is unique and tells the story of a real person who committed suicide. And to produce as much publicity for male suicide prevention as possible, ITV, the TV network CALM partnered with, agreed to air the campaign on their morning show and dedicate three days of programming to male suicide. The campaign also promoted a petition that urges the government to take suicide more seriously and take greater action to help solve the urgent issue.

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How to Use Pinterest Advertising to Promote Products and Attract Customers

Pinterest is often undervalued by social media marketers, and considered an unnecessary component of a marketing strategy — unfortunately, if this is true for your team, you could be missing out on a major source of traffic and income.

Pinterest offers plenty of unique opportunities for marketers to reach leads and influence consumer purchasing behavior. In fact, 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to decide what to buy offline.

Pins have a much longer lifespan than Tweets or Instagram posts, making them a particularly powerful asset. Pins can show up in a user’s feed months after initially posted.

If your content is engaging and valuable, it can be re-pinned again and again to different users’ boards and continue to drive consumers back to your website.

All of which is to say — a paid advertising strategy for Pinterest isn’t such a bad idea, and could help bolster your organic presence by gaining traction with potential buyers, and improving brand recognition.

If you’re interested in exploring how Pinterest advertising can help you attract customers, keep reading.

Pinterest Advertising

With over 250 million users, Pinterest is a great place for businesses to advertise products.

If you’re creating ads on Pinterest, there is a large potential reach for each of your ads — and, best of all, users are also actively searching the site for products like yours to buy.

90% of Pinterest users say Pinterest helps them decide what to purchase — meaning your Pinterest ads, or Promoted Pins, are being shown to a remarkably responsive audience.

Free Resource: 12 Pinterest Templates for Business

Pinterest Promoted Pins

There are a few ways to promote your content on Pinterest. To determine which ad format is best for your business, it’s important to know the goals of your campaign and the attributes of each Pinterest promotion format.

1. Promoted Pins

At first glance, Promoted Pins look and act just like a regular static Pin, but they have a small “Promoted” label to set them apart. Promoted Pins are boosted and targeted to reach more people. Users can even Pin your Promoted Pins to their boards, share them, and comment on them.

Once a user shares a Promoted Pin, the “Promoted” label disappears, and subsequent re-pins are considered earned media — meaning, after the first pin, organic exposure to the content is free.

Here are some guidelines to follow when creating a Promoted Pin advertisement:

  1. The file has to be PNG or JPEG.
  2. Your content cannot go over 10 MB.
  3. There is a description copy limit of 500 characters.
  4. Your aspect ratio must be 2:3 and should be vertically oriented.

2. Promoted Video Pins

Promoted Video Pins are exactly like Promoted Pins — except the static image is replaced with a video.

90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions, and that same percentage of weekly Pinterest users are on the platform to make purchasing decisions. Therefore, Pinterest and video advertising go hand-in-hand.

Pinterest offers two options for video sizing: max width, or standard. Standard videos are the same size as regular Pins and cost less than a max width Pin, which spreads across a user’s entire feed.

No matter what size you choose, Pinterest videos auto-play once they’re 50 percent in view. Plus, the Promoted Video Pins have a conversion optimization option to better serve advertisers with traffic or conversion goals. This new option brings the user to a landing page on the advertiser’s website, as well as a close-up of the video.

Here are some guidelines to follow when creating a Promoted Video Pin advertisement:

  1. The file has to be either an MP4 or MOV.
  2. Your video cannot exceed 2 GB.
  3. The video must meet a minimum of four seconds, and cannot go over 30 minutes.
  4. Your aspect ratio must fall between 1:91:1 and 1:2.
  5. There is a description copy limit of 500 characters.
  6. Make sure to create video that’s not dependent on audio for greater accessibility and those who scroll with sound off.

3. Promoted Carousels

Promoted Carousels contain up to five images that users can swipe through. Carousels are used to give a deeper brand story within one Pin.

This feature behaves the same as other Pins, except it will have dots beneath the images that signal additional content. Each carousel image can be different and have a different title, description, and link to another landing page.

Here are some guidelines to follow when creating a Promoted Carousel advertisement:

  • File type: PNG or JPEG
  • Ideal aspect ratio: 1:1 or 2:3
  • File size: Max 10 MB
  • Title copy: Max 100 characters
  • Description copy: Max 500 characters

4. Promoted App Pins

Promoted App Pins are mobile-only advertisements that allow users to download your app directly from Pinterest. Since 80 percent of Pinterest traffic comes from mobile devices, these ads are a perfect way to meet your audience where they are.

Available on iOS and Android devices, these ads include an “Install” CTA that allows for a seamless transition from Pinterest to your app.

While most of the guidelines remain the same for these Pins, your copy, image, or video should convey important attributes about your app.

1. Choose your campaign objective.

Each of your Pinterest campaigns starts with an objective. Choosing your campaign goal is what determines what ad formats are available to you. There are three categories to choose from — Build Awareness, Drive Consideration, and Conversions.

Conversion optimization is a new campaign objective that optimizes your advertisements for specific actions outside of clicks. Now, advertisers have a way to directly inspire people to take action — like leading a user to an online checkout or newsletter sign-up with no extra steps.

If you want people to discover your business, choose Brand awareness for standard Pins or Video views for Promoted Video Pins as your campaign objective. For these two objectives, you can set a maximum cost for every 1,000 impressions your ad receives.

If your Pinterest goals are to drive qualified leads to your website or improve traffic, choose Traffic or App install for your campaign objective.

For these campaigns, you set a maximum cost-per-click — which means you are only charged when people click through your Promoted Pin to visit your website.

2. Set your campaign budget.

If you want to spend your campaign money evenly over a specific time period, select lifetime. Select daily to choose the amount spent each day. You’ll have to automatically adjust the budgets based on how long you want your ad to deliver.

Next, you’ll set a maximum bid. A bid determines the highest amount of money you’d like to pay for an action, like an engagement or click, on Pinterest. Pinterest will recommend an amount for you depending on your target audience, and what competitors are spending.

Make sure your budget for Pinterest ads reflect your overall marketing goals and the importance of the platform for your business.

3. Maximize your SEO efforts.

By adding an interest and keywords to your descriptions, they become more relevant to people who are actively searching for that content. Keep in mind that hashtags don’t add any ranking value.

On Pinterest, categories of interest are already sorted and categorized. You should explore the available topics that are relevant to your business and target those queries — if you need inspiration, check out the seven categories that do exceptionally well on Pinterest.

Your boards also provide an opportunity for SEO. Boards inform Pinterest’s search engine on how to categorize your Pins, which improves visibility. Focusing on both will support your SEO efforts.

4. Choose your target audience.

Targeting allows you to reach people who are searching for your content and who are ready to actively engage. Targeting is an important part of promoted ads because, without it, you’ll have less interest.

Pinterest has six targeting options that you can use singularly or combine together for a unique targeting approach.

  • Audiences combine your customer knowledge with behavioral insights from Pinterest. If someone has recently bought something from your site or engaged with your Pinterest content, this allows you to target that person for an ad.
  • Keywords show your ad to someone who is searching for that kind of content. If you set specific keywords like “tropical vacation” or “apple pie recipes”, your ads will target people searching for those things.
  • Interests target people based on the types of content they regularly engage with. Your apple pie recipe ads would most likely be served to people who have an interest in baking or preparing for Thanksgiving.
  • Expanded will provide you with additional interest and keywords based on your ad’s content and who you’re trying to reach.
  • Demographics allows you to select a specific location, language, device, or gender.
  • Placements gives you the option to choose where your ad is delivered. If you don’t want your promoted Pins to show up when someone is browsing, and only appear in search results, you can specify that here.

5. Add value.

Endless product promotions on a Pinterest feed aren’t the best way to get an audience’s attention — and keep it. More than likely, you’ll just become a disruption and get unfollowed. You have to add value to every touchpoint with your customer for them to engage with your content.

To add value on Pinterest, try adding Pins that your audience will want to engage with that don’t include your product or business. You might offer added value by showcasing services or interests that compliment your own.

For example, if you sell cars, share content about upkeep or car accessories. Alternatively, if you’re running a Pinterest page for a coffee shop, try Pinning playlist ideas for people to listen to while they work. There is plenty of content available to curate for your audience’s benefit.

6. Mix up your content.

If you’re busy targeting your content to a persona, you’ll miss out on the organic connections and interests of your audience. While helpful for first steps, personas don’t give you everything you need to know about the people who are interacting with your ads.

Keep your content seasonal and relevant. Yes, it is good to make evergreen content — but don’t miss out on pop culture or holiday opportunities to spark interest. In fact, research has shown Pins featuring holiday copy or images have a 22% increase in online sales.

7. Monitor campaign performance

Finally, you need to keep an eye on your campaign performance to determine the success of your ads, or why they didn’t perform as you expected.

When you’re in Pinterest Ads Manager, click on Analytics and you’ll be shown an overview of all your campaigns and key metrics. These metrics include impressions, total clicks, earned cost-per-impression, effective cost-per-click, and more.

Every campaign has the opportunity to increase brand awareness or inspire purchases. After looking at your analytics, you can determine whether or not you need to widen your audience, increase your budget, or try a different ad format. Pinterest advertisements are not an exact science, so experiments are key to being successful on the platform.

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6 SMART Goal Examples That’ll Make You a Better Marketer

When I was 14, my dream was to play college baseball. But I had one small problem: I only weighed 100 pounds. And even though I still had four years to bulk up and improve my skills, I knew I had a long way to go. Fortunately, my coach always knew how to give me opportunities to shoot for that kept my drive alive.

I think of SMART goals like my former baseball coach.

After a grueling practice or workout, he would harp on how the long term is just a series of short terms. And to hammer that mentality into our heads, he would make us write down our off-season training goals every year. But he didn’t just accept the first draft of your goal sheet. He never did. He would make you edit it until you knew exactly what your goals were and how you were going to achieve them.Download your free marketing goal-setting template here. 

Setting a goal like “improve upper body strength” and planning to lift weights three times a week wasn’t enough. You had to write down how much you would improve your bench press by and how many times you would work out your upper body per week.

Every year, I set concrete off-season training goals, and since I had a plan and clear direction, I always achieved them. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had gained 70 pounds of muscle and earned a baseball scholarship.

When I first learned about SMART goals, I had an epiphany. I realized the reason why I could keep improving my athleticism in high school was because my coach made me set SMART goals. And the reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is because they also set SMART goals.

The thing I love about sports is the life lessons you learn playing them directly apply to your career. Setting SMART goals not only helps you get better at baseball, but it also makes you a better marketer.

Read on to learn exactly what a SMART goal is and how you can set one today.

How to Write Smart Goals

The “SMART” acronym stands for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.” Each SMART goal you create should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached and benefits the employee. Find out what each characteristic means below, and how to write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

Specific

SMART goals are “specific” in that there’s a hard and fast destination the employee is trying to reach. “Get better at my job,” isn’t a SMART goal because it isn’t specific. Instead, ask yourself: What are you getting better at? How much better do you want to get?

If you’re a marketing professional, for example, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators, or KPIs. Therefore, you might choose a particular KPI or metric you want to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also identify the team members working toward this goal, the resources they have, and their plan of action.

In practice, a specific SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email …” You know exactly who’s involved and what you’re trying to improve on.

Measurable

SMART goals should be “measurable” in that you can track and quantify the goal’s progress. “Increase the blog’s traffic from email,” by itself, isn’t a SMART goal because you can’t measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic should you strive for?

If you want to gauge your team’s progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let’s build on the SMART goal we started three paragraphs above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 25% more sessions per month … ” You know what you’re increasing, and by how much.

Attainable

An “attainable” SMART goal considers the employee’s ability to achieve it. Make sure that X-percentage increase is rooted in reality. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, for example, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, rather than a lofty 25%.

It’s crucial to base your goals off of your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew. So, let’s add some “attainability” to the SMART goal we created earlier in this blog post: “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per month … ” This way, you’re not setting yourself up to fail.

Relevant

SMART goals that are “relevant” relate to your company’s overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your traffic from email lead to more revenue? And is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your blog’s email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you’re aware of these factors, you’ll be more likely to set goals that benefit your company — not just you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It might encourage you to adjust the metric you’re using to track the goal’s progress. For example, maybe your business has historically relies on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you can generate more qualified leads this way. Our SMART goal might instead say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per month.” This way, your traffic increase is aligned with the business’s revenue stream.

Time-bound

A “time-bound” SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term.

For example, which would you prefer: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year? Or trying to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the same time frame? If you picked the former, you’re right.

So, what does our SMART goal look like once we bound it to a timeframe? “Over the next three months, Clifford and Braden will work to increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a total of 50,000 organic sessions by the end of August.

If you want a more concrete understanding of SMART goals, check out the examples below. You can always revisit this blog post and reference them when it’s time to set your goals.

6 SMART Goal Examples That’ll Make You a Better Marketer

1. Blog Traffic Goal

Specific: I want to boost our blog’s traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from 5 to 8 times a week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing 2 posts a week to 3 posts a week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing 1 post a week to 2 posts a week.

Measureable: An 8% increase is our goal.

Attainable: Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month when we increased our weekly publishing frequency from 3 to 5 times a week.

Relevant: By increasing blog traffic, we’ll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.

Time-Bound: End of this month

SMART Goal: At the end of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from 5 posts per week to 8 post per week.

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

Specific: I want to boost our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from 8 topics to our 5 most popular topics.

Measurable: A 25% increase is our goal.

Attainable: When we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our 8 most popular topics six months ago, our average views per native video increased by 20%.

Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we’ll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.

Time-Bound: In 6 months.

SMART Goal: In 6 months, we’ll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from 8 topics to our 5 most popular topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

Specific: I want to boost the number of our email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on blog posts that historically acquire the most email subscribers.

Measurable: A 50% increase is our goal.

Attainable: Since we started using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.

Relevant: By increasing the number of our email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more leads to our sales team.

Time-Bound: In 3 months.

SMART Goal: In 3 months, we’ll see a 50% increase in the number of our email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on posts that historically acquire the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-up Goal

Specific: I want to increase the number of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.

Measurable: A 15% increase is our goal.

Attainable: Our last Facebook messenger webinar saw a 10% increase in sign-ups when we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.

Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales has more opportunities to close.

Time-Bound: By April 10, the day of the webinar.

SMART Goal: By April 10, the day of our webinar, we’ll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook messenger.

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

Specific: I want our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one column form to a two column form.

Measurable: A 30% increase is our goal.

Attainable: When we A/B tested our traditional one column form vs. a two column form on our highest traffic landing pages, we discovered that two column forms convert 27% better than our traditional one column forms, at a 99% significance level.

Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.

Time-Bound: One year from now.

SMART Goal: One year from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one-column to two columns.

6. Link-Building Strategy Goal

Specific: I want to increase our website’s organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our ranking in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.

Measurable: 40 backlinks to our company homepage is our goal.

Attainable: According to our SEO analysis tool, there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the internet. Given the number of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 new inbound links per month without any outreach on our part, an additional 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a significant but feasible target.

Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of new leads, and backlinks is one of the biggest ranking factors on search engines like Google. If we build links from high-quality publications, our organic ranking increases, boosting our traffic and leads as a result.

Time-Bound: 4 months from now.

SMART Goal: Over the next four months, I will build 40 additional backlinks that direct to www.ourcompany.com. To do so, I will collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to connect with publishers and develop an effective outreach strategy.

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What Are Email Whitelists, & How Do You Get On Them

A few weeks ago, I planned a trip to Charlotte. I booked my flights, and the day before I was supposed to leave, I tried to find my confirmation email.

I couldn’t find it anywhere. Panicking, I called the airline. “Ma’am, your payment was denied. We emailed you about this.”

Very quickly, I learned the importance of email whitelists.

Fortunately, I was able to book another flight. However, this didn’t save me from the stress or frustration I felt at the airline for being unable to contact me any other way.

At the end of the day, you don’t want a similar experience to happen to your customers. And, as a marketer, nothing is more frustrating than realizing your email marketing tactics, meant to engage and delight new prospects, aren’t working simply because they aren’t being delivered to your prospects’ inboxes.

Here, we’ll explain what email whitelists are, and how you can ensure your company is on the whitelists of your email recipients.

Click here to download our free beginner's guide to email marketing.

How To Get On Your Email Subscribers’ Whitelists

To get on your email subscribers’ whitelists, you can ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address.

There are a few different ways to ask subscribers to whitelist your email address. First, you might simply send the following message:

“To be sure our emails always make it to your inbox, please add us to your email whitelist.”

To make it easier for your recipient, you might also want to incorporate steps to do so. To add someone to a whitelist, your subscriber simply needs to add you as a contact. To make the process simple, you can include instructions in your email, like this:

“To be sure our emails always make it to your inbox, please add us as a contact. If you have a Gmail account, follow these instructions. Alternatively, if you use Apple Mail, click here.”

You can add instructions for any email provider, including Outlook, Yahoo, or Android — this largely depends on the typical provider your recipients use.

However, perhaps you don’t want to ask outright if recipients can add you to their whitelists. An alternative to the above message might simply be asking recipients to add you as a contact.

For instance, United Airlines sends the following message, asking recipients to add United to their contact list and explaining why it’s critical they do so:

Image source: AWeber.

You might use your own flair and brand voice to craft a compelling email message. Ideally, you’d include this message in the first email you send new subscribers, since it might be frustrating for recipients who have already successfully received your emails in the past to randomly receive an email instructing them to add you to their contact list.

Additionally, you can help mitigate the possibility that your recipients’ email providers mistake your emails as spam by following email marketing best practices.

Finally, if you’re a HubSpot customer and your contacts aren’t receiving marketing emails from your HubSpot account, there are several steps you can take to ensure your emails are delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes.

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The Plain-English Guide to Progressive Web Apps

Whether it’s in sports, music, or business, rivalries always seem to make things more interesting. In basketball, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson transformed the faltering NBA into one of the most popular sports league in the world. In hip-hop, Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur broke a rather niche music genre into the main stream. 

But imagine if some of the world’s fiercest rivals put their differences aside and teamed up to assemble the best product or service on the market. Could you imagine how electric an NSYNC-Backstreet Boys concert would be? Or the sheer power of a Microsoft-Apple supercomputer?

In the digital age, you could say mobile websites and apps are rivals. Brands developed mobile apps to phase out the use of their fast yet janky mobile websites when the demand for mobile devices exploded. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that mobile apps are quite sluggish and require more steps to access than mobile websites, like finding and downloading them from the app store.

To develop an app that offers the speed of a mobile website and the user experience of a mobile app, Google decided to end the rivalry between mobile websites and apps and blended their best functionalities together, birthing the progressive web app in 2015.

Free Download: 77 Examples of Brilliant Web Design 

1. Uber

Uber's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

To provide their users who use low-end mobile devices with a similar web experience as their mobile app, Uber built a progressive web app that works on 2G networks. So regardless of your network speed, device, and even location, you can use Uber’s PWA to book a ride. This is especially helpful if you’re in a location with spotty service or your phone isn’t compatible with their mobile app.

2. Starbucks

Starbucks' progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

Starbucks’ progressive web app is quite similar to its native mobile app, but the biggest difference between the two is that their PWA takes up significantly less space than their native mobile app and it works offline. When you’re offline, you can use their PWA to browse their menu, customize your orders, and add items to your cart. When you’re online, you can check each store location’s prices and place orders.

3. 2048

2048's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

There’s arguably no other game as addicting as 2048. When it was released in 2014, the video game attracted over 10 million unique visitors in its first month, and when it was rolled out as a mobile app, it attracted even more downloads. When you play 2048 on its progressive web application, it looks and feels just like its mobile app, but its main differentiator is that you can play the game both online and offline.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

When Pinterest discovered that only 1% of their mobile users converted into sign-ups, logins, or native app installs because of their app’s poor user experience (a 23 second load time), they reconstructed their mobile app into a progressive web application. Within three months, their PWA saw a 40% increase in time spent over five minutes, a 44% increase in user-generated ad revenue, and a 50% increase in ad click-throughs compared to their old mobile app.

5. Housing.com

Housing.com's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

Housing.com, India’s main online real estate platform that attracts over 9 million visits per month, has a target audience of low-end mobile device users who only have access to network speeds of 2G or 3G. So to cater to their users and boost their conversion rates, they built a progressive web app that users can quickly find property on even when they’re offline.

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How to Create an Editorial Calendar [Examples + Templates]

If you’re anything like me, you’re consistently working out of at least 20 browser tabs, four journals, a yellow legal pad or two, and a myriad of Post-it notes stuck around your computer monitor.

To the average overseer, it’s nothing short of chaos. To the blogger, it’s evidence of a (desperate) need for an editorial calendar.

Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar Template

My muddled system transforms dramatically when I work with a team. I realize the need for organization and structure, and this could not be more necessary than with managing a blog. Without a mutually agreed-upon system for planning, writing, and scheduling content every week, you can find yourself in a pile of missed deadlines, unedited blog posts, and a fair amount of team tension.

There’s no such thing as a perfect editorial calendar — it all depends on the needs of your team. Nonetheless, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself to determine what your editorial calendar should look like. These include:

  • How frequently are you publishing content? Do you have stuff going live every day? Once a week? Perhaps multiple times a day? Finding out how often you publish can tell you how best to visualize your editorial calendar on a regular basis.
  • Do you create more than one type of content? If you upload as many videos to YouTube as you publish articles to your company blog, your editorial calendar will need to distinguish between the two.
  • How many people will use this editorial calendar? The best editorial calendars allow multiple people to brainstorm, collaborate, and provide feedback on assignments in real time — directly on the calendar.
  • What are the various stages content goes through before it’s published? How complex is your content pipeline? Is there a substantial review or approval process that each piece of content goes through? Make sure your calendar can distinguish between two similar assignments that are in different stages of creation.
  • What platform will you use to manage this calendar? There’s no such thing as a perfect editorial calendar, but some software is better than others at helping you solve for your team’s goals. Pick a platform that offers the features or interface that your company needs the most. Your free options include Trello, Airtable, Meistertask, and Google Sheets.

Editorial Calendar Examples

To help you implement an editorial calendar, we’ve also included two real examples from a few of the most successful content teams out there. Check them out below and find out what makes their calendar so useful.

Buffer’s Editorial Calendar

Platform: Trello

buffer-content-calendarThis is the actual editorial calendar of Buffer, a social media content scheduling platform. Naturally, the company’s own content is supported by an editorial calendar that describes an assignment’s author, title, publish date, and where it is in the company’s editorial workflow (content can be in the “Ideas” stage, in the “Pipeline,” “In Progress,” or “Editing”).

Each rectangular tile shown above represents an individual piece of content — whether it’s a blog post, video, or even a podcast episode.

As you might be able to tell, Buffer’s editorial calendar is built on Trello, a common project management tool. And although you can use Trello more than one way, Buffer uses most of its available features so everyone has the information they need within a few clicks — regardless of what they do for the company and how the calendar affects their work.

“An editorial calendar should be a resource for your whole team, not just content creators,” says Ash Read, Buffer’s editorial director. “It should be something anyone can easily access to see what’s coming up and also suggest content ideas. Sometimes the best content suggestions will come from people outside of your marketing team.”

key-information-in-one-place

In the next screenshot, above, you can see what’s inside each rectangular tile. When you click on an assignment, Buffer logs feedback as the content is created and reviewed. Says Ash: “It’s not just a calendar, but a place to share feedback, editing notes, pitches, ideas and more.”

Unbounce’s Editorial Calendar

Platform: Google Sheets

content-roadmapThis is the editorial calendar of Unbounce, a creator of landing pages and related conversion tools for marketers, as well as a HubSpot integration partner. Unlike Buffer, this company uses Google Sheets to manage their entire content production, and the way they’ve customized the spreadsheet above would be pleasing to the eyes of any content creator.

In addition to organizing their projects by month, what you might notice from the screenshot above is that Unbounce also sorts their content by the campaign they’re serving — as per the first two columns on the lefthand side. This allows the business to see what multiple assignments — listed vertically down the third column — have in common, and track content that extends beyond the Unbounce blog.

Shown below, the Unbounce blog has a separate editorial calendar in Google Sheets that allows the blog to work alongside the larger company initiatives. Nonetheless, using spreadsheets for both content workflows has proven to be the best choice for the company’s growing operation.

blog-editorial-1

“We’re a small content team, so other platforms would likely overcomplicate things,” says Colin Loughran, editor in chief at Unbounce.

Ultimately, this editorial calendar keeps Colin’s team in sync. “While we try to lock dates a few weeks in advance,” he explains, “the reality is that sometimes we need to make changes very quickly. A product launch might move into a slot we’d planned for something else, for instance, or a guest contributor will be delayed in delivering a revised draft. When that’s the case, having a centralized resource that everyone can check is a necessary safety blanket.”

Editorial Calendar Template

Ready to make your own editorial calendar? No matter which platform you ultimately want to work out of, a spreadsheet can help you take inventory of what content you have and how quickly it moves from start to finish. That’s where our free Blog Editorial Calendar Templates come in.

editorial-calendar-template-hubspot

Using the templates linked above, you’ll be able to organize, categorize, and color code to your heart’s content. Use these templates to target the right readers, optimize posts with the best keywords, and pair each topic with a killer call-to-action.

In this download, we’ve included three different templates for you to choose from. Why three? We recognize that not all content teams are the same. While some feel most efficient with a centralized editorial calendar solution, others may need the gentle push of an upcoming deadline right on their personal calendar. Therefore, you’ll have access to all three templates in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Google Calendar.

With a little customization, your blog calendar will be running smoothly, leaving you time to be the content-writing, lead-generating machine you strive to be.

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How to Craft a Sales Page That Generates Revenue [+Example]

Last week, I did something I promised I’d never do to myself: I made an impulse purchase over $100. Now, for you less frugal shoppers out there, you might scoff at my definition of splurging. But what I found most interesting about my sudden compulsion to buy glasses that filter blue light wasn’t the impulse itself. It was how quickly the advertisement below convinced me that I needed the eyewear in my life.

Felix Gray Advertisement 
Image Credit:
VeryGoodCopy

Out of all the advertisements I’ve ever read, this is arguably the most persuasive one. Not only did it inform me about the damage a computer screen can inflict on my eyes, but it also offered me an affordable, stylish solution for protecting them.

Now, advertisements and sales pages are two different animals. But they have the same exact goal: convert website visitors into customers. So even though you won’t model your sales page exactly after an advertisement, you can still incorporate its copywriting and psychological principles into your sales pages.

Free Download: 77 Examples of Brilliant Web Design 

To help you craft a sales page that generates revenue, we’ll analyze one of the content marketing industry’s best copywriters’ sales pages on his website VeryGoodCopy. His name is Eddie Shleyner, and he’s written conversion copy for some big-time brands, like The North Face, GEICO, and Swatch.

How to Craft a Sales Page That Leads to Revenue

1. Lead with a universal benefit that your target audience desires.

There’s a copywriting adage that goes “features tell and benefits sell”, and it’s an advertising truism that’ll stand the test of time. Since features only appeal to the logical part of your brain, they don’t drive action nearly as well as appealing to the emotional part of your brain does.

So while a list of features tells your target audience what your product or service does, it doesn’t specify how your solution will improve their lives. On the other hand, highlighting your product or service’s benefits can help your audience visualize a better future — one that includes your solution in their lives.

For instance, at the top of Eddie’s sales page, notice how he leads with the benefit of growing your business instead of telling you he can write articles that get found, read, and shared. By structuring his heading and subheading this way, he can instantly pique his target audience’s interest with an opportunity to achieve a high aspiration (growing their business) and a path towards success (investing in his articles).

2. Describe exactly how your product or service can help your target audience attain the universal benefit.

Once you pique your target audience’s interest by offering them the chance to realize one of their main goals, you need to explain how your product or service’s features can actually achieve them. Promising your target audience something of value gets them in the door, but laying out how your solution will provide it ultimately keeps them interested.

For example, in the next section of Eddie’s sales page, notice how he describes what articles can do for your business and backs his claims with data. This bolsters his service’s credibility and makes his initial promise more believable.

3. Relate to your target audience’s most pressing pain points and frame your product or service as the solution. 

Empathy is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal. If you can truly relate to your target audience, they’ll appreciate that you actually understand them, that their feelings are valid, and that they’re not alone.

Feeling heard is a psychological need, so once you confirm your audience’s pain, you can offer them your solution. However, if you jump right into how you can solve their problems without acknowledging their pain, your solution won’t register with them. Because if you don’t confirm their pain, they’ll stay fixated on it.

For instance, in the middle of Eddie’s sales page, he does a terrific job of empathizing with his target audience by steering right into their pain of writing compelling articles. Only then does he offer his expertise to alleviate their pain points. He even provides examples of his work to prove that he can get the job done.

4. Leverage customer testimonials as social proof for your product’s or service’s quality. 

After offering a solution to your target audience, consider proving your product’s or service’s quality by segueing into some customer testimonials Humans evolved to follow the crowd and assume the majority is always right, so the more testimonials you have, the more reliable your solution will seem.

For example, towards the end of Eddie’s sales page, notice how he includes a raving testimonial about his work at HubSpot and a link to more of his customer testimonials. It provides the social proof necessary to convince his audience that he’s a credible copywriter.  

5. Prompt your target audience to take action.

Ending your sales page with a clear next step is crucial for persuading your target audience to take your desired action — it packs an emotional punch and crystalizes the desired action in their minds.

For instance, at the end of Eddie’s sales page, notice how he asks his target audience a question related to his service, suggests that they work together, and writes a uniquely polite call-to-action.

He also leverages the scarcity principle, a psychological tenant that states people value objects and experiences that are rare, by including a snippet of how he gets booked quickly, ramping up his audience’s sense of urgency to do business with him.

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How to Launch a Successful Online Community: A Step-by-Step Guide

It’s no secret that the way people buy has fundamentally changed over the years.

These days, people are conducting their own research, reading product reviews, and seeking out recommendations before making a decision, and online communities are beginning to play a role in this process.

As of 2018, according to the B2B Buyers Survey Report, 45% of business buyers spent more time and resources researching purchases than they did the previous year. So, the more platforms you can launch your brand on, the more you can strengthen your buyers’ research.

B2B communities like G2Crowd or GetApp can be used to educate prospective customers and help them make better buying decisions, but how do you start?Discover a framework for running more impactful, measurable marketing  campaigns.

These forums provide people with an opportunity to learn from existing customers experiences and offer space for community feedback that can be used to bring trust and authenticity into an otherwise stale procedure.

If you’re launching a new community or refreshing an existing one, taking time to prepare a plan is crucial for ensuring success. The best way to start is to determine why you are building the community to begin with. Reasons may range from you are trying to support your existing business or marketing efforts to wanting to counteract negative reviews and identify passionate fans.

Either way, there are two questions you should consider when creating an online community:

  • Why should I engage with my customers online?
  • What’s the best platform to do it with?

To walk you through the process of setting up an online community in more detail, keep reading.

Free vs. Owned Community Forums: What’s the Right Move?

Although social networks and community platforms seem interchangeable, there actually is a clear distinction.

Social media, in general, is composed of users who have nothing in common (only using the platform because their friends are on it). Communities, however, revolve around a specific issue, and it’s up to you to take the social network and engage certain users on that platform to form a community that’s focused on your industry.

With this in mind, there are two types of communities you can launch: free or owned. Here’s the difference:

Free Community Platforms

There are “free” platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which offer community-like features, but using them has its pros and cons.

One key pro is that it’s free for users and comes with a built-in audience. In other words, you can stand up an account, create content, and publish it to your followers for free, as long as you do the leg work to find out who on this platform you want to reach

The con, on the other hand, is that you don’t truly “own” your community and are therefore beholden to the decisions these companies make for how the platform serves your content to others. Right when you’ve mastered the platform your community lives on, the content algorithm changes, and you’re forced to pivot your content strategy to retain your users’ attention. It’s been known to happen.

Here’s a brief list of free platforms to consider, if you decide to launch a community in this way:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • G2 Crowd
  • GetApp
  • Quora
  • Discourse
  • Glassdoor
  • Slack

Owned Community Platforms

Then there’s the owned platform like a community forum. This is a place that is owned by the brand and offers all the benefits of a social media platform, but with much more control and flexibility on how you communicate with your members. For example, if you launch a blog or website with a forum or comment section for your visitors, this is an owned community that you can manage yourself.

As with free communities, there are pros and cons to an owned community. We’ll start with the con this time: From an audience perspective, you’re starting from scratch. Owned communities give you more freedom over your brand’s messaging, but until your customers find out about your community, you have way more promoting to do to grow that community than you might have on a free platform.

One major pro to owned community platforms is that they give you tighter controls over your branding and messaging — without having to compete with the noise of other communities on the same platform. A toy store on Twitter, for example, might have a built-in audience to engage, but this business has to compete with all the other toy stores on Twitter that are interacting with the same people.

Community platforms also allow you to go beyond the limitations of social networks. Features such as deeper analytics, single sign on (SSO), gamification, more access to your members and custom design allow you to create a better experience for your fans. If you require a secure, private area for your fans to interact with one another, this might be your best option.

1. Choose a platform for your community.

There are two types of forums: one revolving around shared interest and the other that is more informational in nature.

With a shared-interest forum, you’re bringing together people who happen to be interested in a common topic where they can explore and connect with each other on a larger range of topics. Collaboration between members is key here.

Informational forums are largely used when you want to create a space for the community to search for and share content related to your product, service, or designated topic in one location.

Once you’ve identified the use case and the type of engagement you’re after (i.e., customer support operations or brand loyalty), you’ll want to start looking at detailed features that would support your community goals. These can range from:

  • Deeper analytics
  • Ease of use and good user interface
  • Customer support
  • Platform flexibility
  • Integrations
  • Mobile

2. Develop a launch framework.

When determining what business problem you want to resolve with your community, consider the following.

Are you looking to:

  • Increase your customer satisfaction ratings?
  • Decrease costs related to customer support?
  • Increase demand of your product/service?
  • Identify and mobilize influencers and advocates?
  • Increase collaboration?

What is your use case? Will you use the information gained internally, externally, or a combination of both?

Knowing these answers will make it easier for you to identify why you are launching your online community and help you align its purpose to your intended goals.

3. Identify key internal stakeholders for the community.

After determining the need for forming your community, your next step is to identify your company’s stakeholders. You can consider three categories of stakeholders:

  1. Those who will be managing the community. For external facing communities, this group of stakeholders may include the community manager, marketing department, and/or customer support. The stakeholders may vary greatly for internal communities.
  2. Those who will be impacted by the community. If your community is external facing, marketing is generally involved because the answers you are seeking will have the most impact on them. If there is feedback from the community regarding product improvements, product management may also be involved.
  3. Upper management. This stakeholder is the person who is responsible for the community and all that are affected by it. Usually, an executive could be an operations manager or a CMO who oversee all digital experiences.

Another way to go about identifying stakeholders is to lump the role of the community manager along with the social media management role. Your marketing team, operations department, customer service, or perhaps a specially created department may be put in charge of the community launch. In this instance, each department is likely to put focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) that are meaningful to them.

Marketing KPIs

  • Market share
  • Customer sentiment
  • Mobilizing influencers and advocates
  • NPS – Net Promoter Score

Operations

  • Operational efficiency
  • Reducing support costs

Customer Service

  • CSAT – Customer Satisfaction Score
  • NPS

Product Management

  • Product testing
  • Market research
  • Beta testing
  • Customer feedback

Typically, only one person will be tasked with the community launch. However, by leveraging resources and other talent within your company, your launch can be less stressful and more successful.

4. Set up your community.

Making a decision on what platform to use for your community is the first step. If you are launching the community on your own or taking a team approach, you will want to make sure that you or your team are familiar with the software you will be using. This is a good opportunity to play with a demo or go through some hands-on training.

After you and your team have a good understanding of the software you’ll be using, you can move on to making some setup decisions. These include:

  • Keeping your community pre-launch private. You do not want outsiders having access to your community until you are ready, so make sure to enable your privacy settings.
  • Displaying a list of recent discussions for the forum on the “homepage view.” New members or first time visitors may be more apt to join in the discussion if they see what is trending in your community.
  • Creating your initial categories. Remember, your initial category list is not carved in stone and you should avoid creating too many categories at the start. Keep it simple and let your categories evolve. This will help keep a handle on discussion noise.
  • Reviewing the sign-up process for members. The easier the process is, the more likely people will want to sign up for your community. You should consider a setting up a single sign-on (SSO). It is also important to thoroughly test your sign-up process before the pre-launch.
  • Defining the roles your staff and members. Decide what roles will be included within your community, such as moderators or super members. Consider who on your staff will be the community’s admin, moderators, or community manager.
  • Assigning permissions for roles. You will need to assign and test permissions to the roles you create. For example, you may restrict new accounts from posting pictures or links.
  • Deciding which features will be enabled. This includes plug-ins, add-ons, and other features that are integrated into your online forum. Some features may not be needed right away, but others may be crucial to getting your team the data they need.
  • Setting up gamification. Start thinking about the perks you want to reward your members with. This could be badges or other types of recognition for different achievements, such as being a beta-tester.
  • Implementing your theme. You will want to tie your forum into your brand. Do not settle for impersonal default settings. For example, utilize your company’s color scheme and add other personal touches.
  • Configuring spam controls. Take advantage of your software’s spam controls. Test the controls against a baseline of your trusted users. Adjust the settings as needed if you find that valid content is being labeled as spam.
  • Setting up outgoing email. Decide what email address will be used for forum notifications. Review your welcome and registration emails to make sure they say what you want.
  • Testing. You need to test everything before over and over until you are happy with all the parts of your forum. As you get closer to launch-time, your testing should become more stringent. Consider all types of probably scenarios and prepare yourself beforehand that not everything will be perfect. Get ready to decide on a launch date.

5. Begin a soft launch.

Once you are satisfied with the workings on your community, it is time to get ready for a soft launch. The purpose of a soft launch is to get your community ready for your full and public launch.

A great example of a soft launch is from BigFish Games with the introduction of their new game: Dungeon Boss. While preparing for the launch, they placed their app in the Apple Canada store and drove users to their community forum in a closed and private environment. They got a lot of customer feedback, some of which was incorporated into the Dungeon Boss game title. Consequently, when they launched worldwide, it became one of their most downloaded games.

Your soft launch should occur in three stages:

1. Preparing for the Soft-Launch

At this point, your community should be ready to be launched. All test content has been removed and any known issues have been fixed or have been scheduled to be fixed. It is time to pre-populate your community with quality content that will spark discussion and make good use of your existing content. Start off with at least 10 discussions using your existing material. Recruit your colleagues to get the ball rolling with these discussions. Tone is important, so you will want to set the right tone before moving on to the internal soft-launch.

2. Internal Soft-Launch

The purpose of the internal soft-launch is to identify problems using trusted people from your organization, colleagues, and friends before your forum goes public. While they are trying out your community, they can provide you with valuable feedback and report errors they find before moving to the full launch. This phase will allow your moderators an opportunity to learn how to use the tools that will be used in your forum. Any training deficiencies should be addressed and additional training provided if needed. Request feedback from your internal users. Then, set a deadline to move to the next phase: your public soft-launch.

3. Public Soft-Launch

This launch should be limited to a select audience that you will encourage to give you feedback on your new community forum. To form this group, try requesting volunteers from trusted customers, creating a banner on your website, or including a mention of it in your company newsletter. During your public soft-launch, address the following questions:

  • Who should you include in this group?
  • What problems do you want to solve while in this beta stage?
  • What is needed to transition the community to live status
  • What is your hard deadline to take your community to fully live?

Your goals should include:

  • Getting the public involved
  • Refining your community
  • Receiving feedback
  • Ensuring that your moderators and team are comfortable with the platform

6. Promote your community.

Once you have your date set, it’s time to get the word out to your target audience. The best way to do this is to take advantage of your existing presence online. Promote your launch all over your website, through email communications, and by having your sales team and customer service reps tell your existing and potential customers about the launch.

Here are some more tips that will help you drive the first 100 members to your community:

  • Invite your contacts. No, it’s not always fun to bombard your family members, friends, or professional contacts about something you’re working on … but it works.
  • Discuss with everyone and anyone. Get in the habit of talking to people everywhere you go, especially if your community is centered around a broad product or service that has value for many people.
  • Enlist the help of new members through gamification. Ask your growing, early group to help you broaden the network by inviting their friends, colleagues, and digital connections. You can encourage this through contests or reward systems integrated into your platform.
  • Partner with influencers. Collaborating with a related and complementary company can be an effective way to promote your new community and welcome new members who like both products and services.

Make sure you have configured all your Google and Webmaster tools accordingly. Provide a sitemap and make your community visible. If you have completed all these steps, the odds are that your online community launch will be successful.

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Author: Alok Chowdhury

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Every Question You’ve Ever Had About Keywords, Answered

For a long time, digital marketers organized their entire content calendar around specific keywords. They’d work with their teams to brainstorm core keywords relevant to their products or services, as well as all the variations of that keyword most likely to bring them high-converting traffic.

And, ultimately, it worked. Users from around the world could enter specific search terms into a search engine and, if their intent matched your keywords, they’d land on your site.

Unfortunately, as time went on, publications began stuffing irrelevant, poorly-written content with specific keywords just to get more traffic. Search engines weren’t helping users find the information they needed anymore, because searches weren’t going to relevant information — they were just going to a keyword-stuffed filler page.

Eventually, search engines realized they had to adapt to account for bad content. As search engines, largely led by Google and its constantly-changing search algorithm, became more advanced, the power of keywords waned in favor of a more contextual-based approach to content.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a plethora of articles with titles proclaiming the “death of keywords”, to mark the shift away from a purely keyword-focused world of SEO.

But don’t buy flowers to send to the funeral just yet. While keywords may not be the SEO powerhouse they once were, they’re still hugely important to growing your organic traffic.

Mastering keywords can still help your content strategy substantially as long as you approach them with an updated perspective — here, we’re going to tell you how.

Access Now: 22 SEO Myths to Leave Behind This Year

 

Once a search engine crawls a website and determines what it’s about, the search engine is then able to associate a piece of content with certain keywords being searched. This helps relevant content show up for specific searches.

As previously mentioned, for a long time this meant bloggers could stuff their content full of specific keywords and rank well — but that’s no longer the case. More sophisticated search algorithms have changed the way keywords are associated with content.

Now, while keywords are still useful tools for conceptualizing and planning your content strategy, their effectiveness is entirely rooted in context.

Remember, the purpose of a search engine is to deliver the most useful content to each user. Ultimately, search engines aim to deliver a similar experience to the way people communicate with each other in real life. If I were to walk up to you on the street and say “marketing”, you wouldn’t find the conversation very useful (and you might think I’m crazy).

However, if we were sitting together in a cafe and I said, “I enjoy creating content that helps people get better at digital marketing,” you’d have context regarding my intentions, and we’d then be able to engage in a dialogue.

Keywords work the same way. The power of a keyword is not in the word itself, but in the context in which it’s used. When it comes to search engines understanding what your content is about, think of your entire website as various parts of a sentence. You may have a blog post centered on the keyword “software”, but if it’s an orphaned blog post and the rest of your website doesn’t mention software again, you’re probably not going to see much organic traffic to that post.

However, if you’ve written other pieces of content about the various aspects of B2B software and have been fleshing out a topic cluster to show that you’re an authority within the field, then Google is going to have the context it needs. Your keyword “software” won’t be standing on its own — Google and other search engines will be able to see it as a complete thought: “I am an authority on this topic, so this piece of content is likely to prove useful for the person searching this term.”

Unfortunately, the internet is a busy place, and it’s virtually impossible to be the only person writing about any given topic … so even if you’re creating great content about a specific keyword and providing helpful context for search engines to understand your content, how do you stand out from the crowd?

That’s where keyword difficulty comes into play.

Oftentimes, the keywords with the highest difficulty are the ones for which everybody in an industry wants to rank well. For example, broad keywords like “insurance”, “marketing”, or “technology” are all going to be highly competitive because they apply to a wide variety of searches, and there’s already a ton of content written on these topics.

The market for these and similar broad terms is completely saturated. Getting a foothold for a search term like “marketing” would be like constructing a generic coffee shop with no name recognition between a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ Donuts — you may get a bit of business here and there, but if someone thinks of coffee in your area, they’re probably going to go to one of the established businesses they know.

For your business to truly gain SEO traction, then, it’s important to take less competitive keywords into consideration. Focusing on less competitive keywords enables you to demonstrate what makes you different and reach an audience that’s best fit for your business.

If we go back to the coffee shop example, concentrating on less competitive keywords is like branding yourself as the only ‘specialty cat cafe’ in the city. In this situation, it’s easier to stand out because you’re focusing on what makes you unique to your target buyer persona.

After all, the person looking for a cat cafe to sit in and relax is probably not the same person wanting a quick cup of coffee on their way to work — just like someone searching for “technology” is not the same person searching for “small business technology setup service”.

What’s great about leaning into less competitive keywords is that it will allow you to clearly define your niche and build your authority within a specific field. Because there is less competition, it’s easier to establish yourself as a thought leader on a given subject — and, ultimately, establishing authority is invaluable when it comes to SEO.

The more authoritative you are on niche topics, the more authoritative your website will be overall. Building authority through great content, backlinks, and user experience is your best bet for getting your foot in the door and being able to compete with established players for more competitive and more valuable keywords.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick to jump to the top of the food chain when it comes to SEO. To rank well on search engines, you need to consistently create high-quality content and plan ahead to think about how all of your content will fit together in the long-term.

1. Clearly define your target persona.

Having a clear understanding of your ideal audience is going to be key for any marketing endeavor. With keyword research, it’s especially important to understand what questions you can answer or problems you can solve for this target persona. At this point, it’s okay to think in broad terms regarding what those problems or questions are.

For instance, if you’re a PR agency, you need to find leads who are interested in hiring a third-party to help them run a PR campaign. To do this, perhaps you begin by writing content that answers the question “How to run a successful PR campaign”.

A broader topic is a good starting point for building a pillar page for your topic cluster.

2. Narrow your focus and investigate competitiveness.

Once you’ve determined the overarching question or problem you are addressing, it’s time to get more specific. Getting more specific allows you to cater your content to your audience, and it helps you leverage less competitive keywords.

I like to narrow my focus by using lsigraph.com. LSI, or latent semantic indexing, is a process of generating search query variations by determining how closely a given search term relates to other search terms. Think of using latent semantic indexing tools as a way of brainstorming and generating a lot of keyword ideas quickly and easily.

From there, using other tools to analyze how competitive a keyword is — such as Google’s Keyword Planner — can help you determine which keywords have the most potential for your business. Again, if you’re organizing your content in a topic cluster, this is a good way to decide what your sub-topics and supporting content will be.

3. Collect data, analyze results, repeat.

As you create content around specific keywords, keep in mind that a great content strategist doesn’t just throw content out randomly to see what sticks. Consider using a tool like Google Search Console to keep track of how you’re performing for your keywords.

Google Search Console can also help you see whether you’re generating traffic from keywords you hadn’t planned on ranking for, which can inform your future strategy. Having this knowledge is crucial for further refining your keyword planning and identifying those green territories that have significant potential to bring you new customers.

Whether you’re just getting started with keyword planning or looking to amplify your SEO efforts that are already underway, keep your customer persona at the front of mind and don’t be afraid to recalibrate your strategy as you collect more data. Great inbound marketing is about having the right content reach your ideal potential customers when they need it, and getting smart with your keyword approach is a fantastic way to do that.

seo myths 2019

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Author: Blake Reichenbach

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