20 of the Best Free Stock Photo Sites

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We’ve all heard the mantra, “Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.”

Yet for some strange reason, many people continue to push out cheap (and usually cheesy) stock photography to serve as a representation of their brand.

But the truth is, high-quality stock photos don’t have to come hand-in-hand with a hassle or high price tag. To prove it, we’ve compiled a list of 20 awesome resources for free, high-quality stock images. Download the free stock photos you've been searching for here, no attribution required.

From enviable office spaces to stunning scenery, we’re certain you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for with the help of this roundup.

20 of the Best Websites to Download Royalty-Free Stock Images

1) Negative Space

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Negative Space offers up new free stock photos every week. All of its photos are shared without copyright restrictions, meaning that you are free to use them however you please.

From architecture to technology, Negative Space’s continuously growing collection of images is one you’ll find yourself tapping into again and again. The best part? It’s easy to filter through the gallery of photos, which are sortable by category, copy space position, and color.

Click here to view the full license details.

2) Death to the Stock Photo

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When founders and photographers, Allie and David, noticed how challenging it was for businesses, bloggers, and creatives to find free high-quality images that fit their “vibe and tribe,” they stepped in.

As a result, Death to the Stock Photo was born. Simply submit your email and enjoy a new batch of photos delivered to your inbox every month.

If you do have some extra budget to spend, Death to Stock also offers a Premium membership for $15/month or $180/year. The cool part about the paid membership is that a percentage of the profit is used to fund photography trips and other creative projects to keep the resource moving forward.

Click here to view the full license details.

3) Picjumbo

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Need images for your next web design or blog post? Look no further than picjumbo.

With new photos added daily, there is a wide selection of high-quality images to fit a variety of different topics.

The photographer, Vicktor, also offers unique paid packages for bloggers, designers, and agencies (starting at $10/month), as well as a handy plugin for Photoshop and Sketch for just $7.99.

Click here to view the full license details.

4) Stokpic

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Photographer Ed Gregory generously dishes up 10 new photos every two weeks that you can use on your website, as part of a template, in an ad, and … well, pretty much anywhere.

You can check out his latest 100 pictures here, or browse through categories like landscapes, people, and technology until you find the perfect fit.

Click here to view the full license details.

5) Kaboompics

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Karolina, a web designer from Poland, is the creative eye behind this awesome resource for high-quality photos. From fashion to food to landscapes, her images cover a variety of different scenarios. And users have the freedom to use them for anything they’d like — commercial or not.

While there are no formal attribution requirements, Karolina does ask that you include photo credit with a link back to the site when possible. This request will help her grow the website, and in turn, provide even more awesome photos for everyone to use.

Click here to view the full license details.

6) Startup Stock Photos

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“Take ’em, these things are free. Go. Make something.”

With a Twitter tagline like this, it’s tough not to scoop up what Startup Stock Photos has to offer.

While the name is specific to startups, there are plenty of professional options to use no matter what industry you’re operating within.

Click here to view the full license details.

7) Freerange

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All of the photos on the Freerange website come from a pool of both in-house photographers, as well as a growing community of external contributors.

Not only is there a lot to choose from, but the photos are good quality, too: “Images provided directly (in-house) by Freerange Stock originate one of two ways. They are either digitally photographed on Canon DSLR cameras or they are a high resolution (4000 dpi) Nikon scan of an original 35mm slide,” according to the site’s ‘About Us’ section.

Click here to view the full license details.

8) LibreShot

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Photographer and SEO Consultant Martin Vorel is the creative force behind the stunning photos available on this site.

From crisp architectural shots to vibrant florals, Vorel’s collection of photos contains some of the most unique selections we’ve come across.

Click here to view the full license details.

9) Fancy Crave

Not only are the photos on Fancy Crave free of copyright restrictions, but they’re also pretty remarkable. (Can’t you practically taste those green grapes?)

All the photographer asks is that you never advertise the photographs as your own, and provide attribution when and if you can.

With two new photos uploaded daily to keep things feeling fresh, this is a bookmark-worthy resource for great photos if we’ve ever seen one.

Click here to view the full license details.

10) Unsplash

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Unsplash serves up 10 new “do whatever you want” photos every 10 days.

What we love most about this resource is the uniqueness of the photos. With pages upon pages to choose from, you won’t run into any cheesy, “Smiling Boss Shaking Hands With Male Employee” shots.

Not to mention, every photo published on Unsplash is licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which provides users with the freedom to copy, modify, distribute, and use all of the photos without permissions or attribution.

Click here to view the full license details.

11) StockSnap.io

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StockSnap.io proudly claims that it’s “not your typical crappy stock photo site.” And we couldn’t agree more.

In fact, its selection is so interesting and versatile that it’s almost too easy to “fall down the rabbit hole” and come to fifty-something scrolls later.

Click here to view the full license details.

12) SplitShire

SplitShire offers a ton of awesome free photos for you to use without restrictions. Powered by Italian photographer Daniel Nanescu, all of the images available on the website are “made with love” — and it shows.

From stunning portraits to sleek work stations, we’ve got a feeling you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect photo for your next project or blog post.

Click here to view the full license details.

13) Life of Pix

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Brought to you by Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal (and its network of talented photographers), Life of Pix is home to some awesome high-resolution photos.

All of the images are donated to the public domain, and are available for personal and commercial use.

As if that wasn’t enough, Life of Pix also has a counterpart, Life of Vids. According to its website, Life of Vids serves up free footage videos, clips, and loops, weekly. Like the images, the video content contains no copyright restrictions, and can be easily downloaded on its Vimeo account.

Click here to view the full license details.

14) Pexels

These photos are carefully handpicked from a variety of free image sources to ensure that you’re getting only the best of the best.

All of the photos that make the cut are under the Creative Commons Zero license, meaning that they are free for personal and commercial use with no attribution required. And thanks to its search functionality, turning up the right photo for your next project is super easy.

Click here to view the full license details.

15) HubSpot

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You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging, did you?

When we noticed there was a shortage of high-quality free stock photos available to marketers and creatives, we decided to whip up some of our own.

Check out the following collections to get your fix:

16) Gratisography

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With new photos added weekly, Gratisography is another awesome website serving up high-resolution photos covered under the Creative Commons Zero license.

All of the photos are taken by Ryan McGuire, a “whimsically creative visual artist, based in Ithaca, NY.” And while these photos are a bit more quirky (we’re talking everything from monster feet slippers to Vespas to bananas), they are entirely usable for the right project.

Click here to view the full license details.

17) Jay Mantri

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Designer Jay Mantri has built up an impressive gallery of professional, quality images just for you and me … and everyone else.

If I had to describe Mantri’s photos in one word, it’d be “scenic.” But don’t just take my word for it. Go see for yourself.

Click here to view the full license details.

18) ISO Republic

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ISO’s Republic’s mission is to “provide high-quality images to be used by designers, developers, bloggers, marketers, and social media teams.”

And all it takes is one quick scan of the website to know that it is succeeding in doing just that. (So much so that it’s hard to believe the images are free)

For those looking for access to more exclusive free photos, ISO Republic invites you to sign up for its email list and receive photos right to your inbox.

Click here to view the full license details.

19) New Old Stock

Who can resist a good black and white photo?

This collection of vintage photos comes from the public archive via Flickr Commons. According to the website, the photos are free of any known copyright restrictions.

That said, while it’s likely that they are safe to use for things like blog posts and hero images, you’ll want to read up on the rights and usage below before you use them for any type of commercial project.

Click here to view the full license details.

20) Pixabay

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Pixabay serves as a repository for a ton of quality photos that released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain. The site is clean and intuitive, making it easy to navigate your way through the 780K+ free photos, vectors, and illustrations.

The main search bar even allows you to filter your query down by factors like media type, orientation, color, and minimum dimensions.

Click here to view the full license details.

Did we miss any of your favorite resources? Let us know in the comments section below.

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

80 royalty-free stock photos

download 80 royalty-free stock photos

How to Excel in Community Management: Advice from 12 Experts

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Community management has become an essential part of a successful long-term social media marketing strategy. In fact, it’s turned into more than just a social media strategy: Community management leads to customer retention, and studies have shown that profits increase 95% when retention grows over 5%.

In order to get to the point where community management turns into business growth, you need to first put in the effort to develop deep personal relationships with customers and people in your community that may or may not be interested in buying your services. They’re part of your community simply because their beliefs are similar to those of your brand and industry leadership. 

Vanilla Forums, along with 12 leading community management experts, has written about building a foundation for a great community, as well as the strategic steps along the way, to help grow that community and ultimately your business.

In this ebook, written by 12 leading community management experts, you’ll learn:

  • The best tactics in community management to build up to your first 100 members.
  • The key metrics executive teams use to measure community success and how you can start incorporating those metrics from the start.
  • How to find a great moderator.
  • Much more about building and fostering a healthy community to fuel your business’ growth.

Click here to check out How to Learn Community Management from the Experts.

free ebook: how to excel in community management

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Shareable Infographics Using PowerPoint or Keynote

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Want to learn how to plan, publish, and promote viral infographics?

You’re in the right place. But let’s start by making something clear: If you’re thinking, “I’m not a natural designer” or “I’ve never made an infographic before,” you’re not alone.

However, instead of making excuses, answer this: Have you ever made a presentation in PowerPoint or Keynote?

Great. Believe it or not, you’ve got the skills to make an infographic. And now that I know you can do this, I’m here to walk you through the seven steps that I take when creating infographics. Save countless hours using these free, pre-made templates to design your infographics.

The plan is to cover each of those steps in detail so you know exactly how to create and launch infographics for your business as well. Let’s dive in.

How to Create Shareable Infographics Using PowerPoint or Keynote

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Step #1: Choose topic and collect content.

If you’ve already got a blog and some content under your belt, the best place to find a topic is to look at your most popular content from the past.

Just head over to Google Analytics (or dig into your HubSpot software) and pull up your most popular pages (from the last 6-12 months) by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

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From there you’ll be able to see which topics your readers are already most interested in.

It’s a smart idea to match your infographics to the topic of your most popular blog posts because:

  • First, you’ll be able to content from those blog posts in your infographic to fast-track your project.
  • Second, you already know your audience is interested in those topics.

For example, one of the clients I work with owns an interior design firm and her blog has some great content on it. But the most popular blog post month after month was her article on “questions to ask when interviewing an interior designer.”

So we decided to use that content and create an infographic around that topic:

Because all of the content was already written, all we had to do was come up with the design.

Alright, so what if you don’t have a lot of content to work with?

I recommend that you head over to Google Trends, Google’s Keyword Planner, HubSpot’s Keywords App, and/or BuzzSumo to research what’s being searched for and shared most often.

If you’ve never used Google Trends, then you’re in for a treat. You can use this tool to see what topics are trending and most popular in real time. Plus, you can see how popular a topic was in the past and then compare that to other topics.

Check out the popularity of “infographics” vs. “magazine ads” from 2004 – 2016:

So how do you guarantee your topic will be a home run?

Use Google’s Keyword Planner (HubSpot customers: Try HubSpot’s Keyword App) to see the exact number of people who search for specific keywords and topics so you can instantly gauge the popularity of a topic. Since we’re talking about creating viral infographics in this post, don’t forget to also research your topic in BuzzSumo so you can find the most shared topics and content online to confirm people’s interest. 

Once you’ve got a topic, it’s time to do some research. One of the best parts about infographics is that you don’t have to write much copy by yourself — almost every single infographic online includes quotes, data, and resources from other people and brands.

To get started, you’ll want to open up an app like Evernote and write down everything you personally know about the topic you’re covering, plus every sub-topic you want to research.

After you’ve got your own notes down, head over to Google Search and start the research process. For example, type in phrases like: “best (my topic) articles,” “(my topic) statistics,” “(my topic) quotes,” “(my topic) blogs,” and “(my topic) infographics.”

This will give you dozens of great resources to pull ideas and data from that you can include in your infographic. Just don’t forget to save the website address (URL) for each resource you cite.

Lastly, it’s important that you remember this is an infographic — not a blog post. That means you should only collect the most important, focused data and resources. Ignore all the gritty details and “fluff.”

Action items for Step #1:

  • Choose and validate a topic for your infographic
  • Collect and cite important resources you’ll quote

Step #2: Create and re-size a blank presentation.

This step is super easy. All you need to do here is create a blank presentation deck in either PowerPoint or Keynote and resize it to the shape/size of an infographic.

Personally, I prefer Keynote. But rest assured that every single tool you need to make infographics are available in both PowerPoint and Keynote.

Let’s start with PowerPoint: Click “Design” then “Slide Size” to resize your deck.

(Note: 6.5 x 50 inches in the maximum size in PowerPoint.)

For Keynote: Go to the “Document” options, click “Slide Size” to resize your deck.

(Note: 900 x 6000 points in the maximum size in Keynote.)

Don’t agonize over getting the “perfect” height for your infographic, just give yourself enough space to work with. (You’ll learn how to crop and optimize your infographic in step #6.)

Action items for Step #2:

  • Create a blank presentation in PowerPoint or Keynote.
  • Resize the deck to an infographic-friendly size.

Step #3: Wireframe each section using shapes.

Both PowerPoint and Keynote have “Shape” tools which will allow you to create (you guessed it) shapes.

PowerPoint has more options for shapes than Keynote as you can see below:

In this step, our goal will be to use those shapes to create a “wireframe” and layout each section you’ll need for your infographic.

Here are the basic areas / sections that you’ll need to create:

  • Header / Title Area
  • Introduction
  • Body / Main Argument
  • Conclusion
  • “Brought to you by…” Section
  • Cited Resources

In most cases, each of these sections on every infographic will remain relatively the same. The only exception is the “Body / Main Argument” section, which will vary depending on your goal for the infographic.

For example, a comparison infographic would need to have a different “wireframe” and layout than a timeline infographic to effectively illustrate your point:

That’s why it’s smart (like with any creative project) to start with the end in mind. The creation process will be a lot easier if you can picture an outcome and work towards that. And I’ve seen too many infographics fail because they focus too much on fancy design instead of creating a solid wireframe and layout that compliments their topic.

Let’s be clear: The “design” is how your information looks, but the “layout” is how your information is organized and presented. The layout is far more important than any fancy design elements.

First, you’ll want to use rectangles and borders to define large areas of your infographic like in the example below:

Don’t worry about the colors just yet, we’ll get to those in the next step.

Next, using a combination of rectangles, squares, circles, triangles, and lines, create your subsections:

When creating your wireframe and layouts, there are two important design rules to consider:

  1. You need to make sure there is enough white space so your infographic is easy to read.
  2. You need to create hierarchy with your most important content and sections at the top.

If you’re still having an issue creating your layouts, add some wireframes to a blank presentation deck and use the “Shapes” tool to trace layouts until you get the hang of it. 

Last note: If you’re using Keynote, once you’re happy with your wireframe, I recommend that you “Lock” the shapes in place, that way when you’re adding in content later, you don’t accidentally screw up the layout. (You’ve been warned!)

Action items for Step #3:

  • Find layout inspiration on Pinterest.
  • Use the “Shapes” tool to create your wireframe.
  • Create infographic sub-sections using shapes.

Step #4: Choose a color and typography palette.

Now with your snazzy new wireframe, you’re ready to choose colors and fonts.

Let’s talk colors first: A color palette is one of the most subtle, yet crucial aspects of any creative project. Your color palette will set the tone for your infographic and tie visual elements together.

When designing an infographic, I like to choose two different color sets. The first color set is the background(s), where I typically use soft, subtle colors so I can draw attention to important elements with brighter colors.

Here are a few examples:

Of course the flip side of that is to use bold background colors. But even with white text, it can make the graphic difficult to read. 

The second set of colors you choose will serve as your primary palette. These can be brighter and more eye-catching –“flat” colors are very popular for infographics.

Here are a few examples:

Keep in mind that it’s a smart idea to choose a palette that compliments your brand’s style. You can use a tool like Adobe Color to build a pallet around any color you’d like.

If you don’t want to build your own palette, I recommend that you check out Colour Lovers for endless inspiration created by other people:

Make sure that you’re not choosing too many colors as that can create “disconnect” between important areas of your infographic and overwhelm readers. If all else fails, using different shades of same color is always a safe bet.

Once you’ve got a nice color palette, it’s time to choose a font combination. The first thing you should do is avoid fancy or intricate fonts. (Even if it compliments your brand.)

Why? After you resize the infographic to a “web-friendly” size, those types of text can be extremely difficult to read. Instead, stick with easy-to-read fonts like Arial, Open Sans, Courier and Verdana.

When choosing a typography combination, you can combine two fonts, or use variations of the same font.

Check out the two examples below:

Make sure that you’re not using any fonts below 16 pts as it becomes extremely difficult to read once you resize your infographic in step #6. There is one exception when it comes to the fonts however: You don’t have to match your header’s title with the rest of your typography — you can take a bit more creative liberty with that area of the infographic.

For example, check out these great headers that grab your attention immediately with eye-catching typography:

Want some incredible fonts for your title, sub-headers, and body text that you can download and use for free? Check out this article.

Action items for Step #4:

  • Choose a background color scheme.
  • Choose a primary color scheme.
  • Select an easy-to-read typography combo.

Step #5: Add in your content, charts, and visuals.

Now it’s time to take all the resources you collected in step #1 and extract the most focused, actionable content for your infographic.

Start by adding in your sub-headers and body text to the wireframe you created in step #3:

Make sure that your copy is short and to-the-point like the example above. You’ll also need to include links to every resource you cited at the bottom of the infographic:

Now, it’s time to bring your words to life. To do this, use strong visual elements that instantly get your point across by “showing” not “telling” your readers:

You could make every single visual by yourself, or you could use my best-kept infographic design hack: Purchase community-made visual assets from online marketplaces. Websites like Graphic River, Creative Market, and Flat Icon sell visual assets made by professional designers that you can purchase and use in your projects.

For example, check out this sleek icon set you could purchase and use on any of your infographics:

There are dozens of other icons sets, illustrations, header images, and more that you can use to give your infographic a more professional look and feel immediately.

However, if you’re like me, once in awhile you want to make your own visuals from scratch. For example, one day I couldn’t find a decent “flat style” image for a fire pit, so I decided to use the “Shapes” tool in Keynote to “build” my own firepit. Check out how I made it below:

 

Now I realize that I might upset some people when I say this, but too bad: Data is not a requirement of a viral infographic. Of course, data makes it incredibly easy to prove your point by using indisputable numbers — but I’ve also seen dozens of infographics go viral that don’t include a single graph or piece of data.

That being said, when you choose to include data in your infographic, there are some important things to consider.

The traditional way would be to use charts and graphs:

The second way to display your data is to use “data visualization”:

For example, you could use a set of 10 “smartphone” icons where seven are colored and three are greyed out to represent the fact that 70% of Americans own a smartphone.

Or you could use a unique illustration like a ship race to visualize your data.

Just remember: Regardless of what type of infographic you’re creating, make sure that you’re using highly-engaging visuals and data visualizations to bring your content and data to life.

Action items for Step #5:

  • Summarize and add in your copy.
  • Add strong supporting visuals to “show” not “tell.”
  • Use charts and visualizations to bring data to life.

Step #6: Export, optimize, and upload.

Once you’re happy with your infographic, it’s time to get it ready for the web. The first thing you need to do is export the “presentation deck” that you’re working on to a PDF.

In PowerPoint, just click on “File” then “Export” from your menu bar.

In Keynote, you do the same thing, except you choose “PDF…” from the menu bar.

Now that you have a PDF version of your infographic, you need to optimize the file size for fast loading online, without sacrificing quality or readability. Like I mentioned in step #2, there’s a good chance your infographic won’t fit perfectly into the resized PowerPoint or Keynote deck, so here’s a simple solution:

Open a photo editing tool (it doesn’t have to be PhotoShop) then crop and/or stitch together your PDF(s) to get the perfect height.

Next, resize your infographic to be between 700 and 900 pixels wide. Again, this will preserve the quality of the image while making the file’s size as small as possible.

Also, I recommend using a tool like Optimizilla to compress and optimize your infographic even further. Try to get the final file size to be less than 5 MB — and be sure to save the photo file as a PNG or JPG.

The next thing you need to do is create a home for your infographic on your website. To do this, create a new page or blog post with a unique URL that you’ll upload and add the infographic image to.

This is important because when the infographic is shared around the internet, you want to make sure all the links point back to you so you get more traffic and shares.

Action items for Step #6:

  • Export infographic to a PDF.
  • Crop and/or “stitch” together your PDF(s).
  • Resize to 700-900 pixels wide.
  • Upload to a new website page or blog post.

Step #7: Go viral with strategic promotion.

Real talk: Infographics don’t go viral by accident — even if you’ve got the best infographic in the world.

Instead, strategically promoting your infographic by identifying the right people and the right websites can get your infographic in front of thousands of people fast.

But before we do that, you’ll want to make sure to optimize your infographic for search engines. SEO won’t necessarily help your infographic go viral, but it’s extremely beneficial because it will help increase your search engine rankings (which means more free traffic to your website).

Check out this infographic by Backlinko to help guide you while you’re optimizing your infographic(s) for search engines:

After that’s done, here are the next three things you should do:

#1: Find websites and blogs that share similar infographics.

For example, if I had just published an infographic on email marketing, I would go to Google at type in: “Email marketing infographic.” What you’re looking for are websites and blogs that have published similar infographics made by other people.

After you’ve got a decent list of websites who you think will be willing to share your infographic, it’s time for some email outreach. First, start by identifying the authors from each of the websites who published similar infographics. You can usually find the author’s name in the article’s byline:

Once you’ve got a list of authors, use a tool like Viola Norbert or ContentMarketer.io to find email addresses so you can start sending personal emails.

If you want to learn how the pros do email outreach, check out this article my friend Emil Shour did with Brian Dean at BacklinkoPart of that case study highlights the “Pre-Outreach” and “Content Roadshow” strategies he used to generate buzz for his content.

For example, check out Emil’s 2-step approach to email outreach. Instead of doing what most people do and asking for a backlink or share right away (1-step approach) here’s what he did:

And because he wasn’t being pushy, he get’s responses like this from people asking to send his content over (2-step approach):

See the difference?

Now I’ll be the first to admit that email outreach is not the most exciting part about infographic marketing — but it’s crucial if you want to get more eyeballs on your work.

Plus, the long-term benefits from the relationships you’ll build with influencers and bloggers will become invaluable down the road.

#2: Identify influencers who share similar infographics.

The best tool to find these influencers is BuzzSumo. Just type in a topic or copy/paste a specific link to pull up content that is sorted by number of social media shares.

For example, if I were doing an infographic on gardening, I’d type in “gardening infographic” into BuzzSumo. Next, I would go through the results one by one and click “View Sharers” on any infographics that are similar to mine:

This will give you a list of the people who have shared that infographic, which is helpful because you can sort by number of followers to identify influencers with a large number of followers who have shared infographics that are similar to yours.

Like in the last step, find their email address and start reaching out one-by-one. Aside from Viola Norbert and ContentMarketer.io, another clever way to find someone’s email address is to subscribe to their blog — the welcome email and all future emails should come from an address that you can respond to.

As an alternative, if you can’t find someone’s email address, you can always use Twitter to reach out publically:

Sam Hurley has hundreds of thousands of followers but still responded and shared my content:

See how I used the same 2-step outreach approach like the email example from above?

  1. Ask if they want to see it.
  2. If they say yes, send the link.

Not being pushy is the key to getting responses and getting your content shared. You might also consider sending a friendly “thank you” note after an influencer shares your content to strengthen the relationship:

#3: Submit your infographic to infographic directories.

These directories are basically websites that curate infographics for other people to see. And they are the perfect place to get your infographic discovered by people who might want to share it on their website.

Trouble is, there are dozens of these directories out there, so instead of manually doing each one by yourself I recommend using Fivver to pay someone to do it for you. You don’t need to have someone submit your content to 50+ directories — just stick with the people who only add it to the top 10-30 infographic directories.

Once you’ve added you infographic to the right directories, share it through all of your marketing channels:

  • Share with your email lists
  • Schedule multiple social media posts
  • Paid ads / remarketing ads
  • Add links to infographic on relevant website pages
  • Share with industry partners
  • Send to influencers/bloggers who’ve shared your content in the past
  • Share with any brand or person you mentioned in your content

Action items for Step #7:

  • Optimize your infographic for search engines.
  • Share infographic with the right bloggers and influencers.
  • Promote through all your digital marketing channels.

Wrapping Up

Alright, so I know this was a long one … but be sure to bookmark this article so you can come back and refer to it at any time during the infographic creation and promotion process.

Need more help? I’ve put together a few bonuses to guide you along — including a 20-step infographic checklist (we only covered seven here), as well as a handy teardown video. Click here to grab those.

What other infographic creation questions do you have? Share them in the comments below.

15 free infographic templates in powerpoint

From Hilarious to Heartbreaking: 10 of the Best Ads from October

A dancer sweeps gracefully through a deserted London cityscape. An dinosaur bursts through the ceiling of a night club. A particularly unintelligent looking cat contemplates jumping to a nearby perch.

What do all these different tableaus have in common? They’re all featured in creative ads from the past month.

If you’ve been out of the loop, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Read on to see ten of the most creative, inspiring, and just plain weird ads from the last month. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

1) Bose

This mesmerizing spot for Bose’s new QuietComfort 35 headphones focuses on a lone dancer (Maëva Berthelot) entrancingly freestyling her way through completely empty London streets. The ad is set to “Alchemy” by London-based electro R&B artist TĀLĀ.

So how exactly were they able to film in some of London’s busiest areas, completely devoid of people, cars, and other distractions? Grey London, the agency behind the ad, managed to block off pedestrians and traffic flow for a few minutes at a time — just enough for them to film the takes they needed. They used an aerial helicopter for the sweeping images of the city, which was understandably subject to strict airspace regulations.

“This wasn’t easy to produce,” Grey London’s executive creative director Dominic Goldman told AdWeek. “Most of this was captured in camera with minimal clean-up in post.” The end result is a truly magnetic, gorgeous ad you’ll definitely want to watch more than once.

2) Chatbooks

The agency behind the explosively viral Squatty Potty pooping unicorn ad has struck again. This time, the Harmon Brothers are lending their unique comedic perspective to Chatbooks, a subscription-based photo printing service that converts your smart phone snaps into photo albums.

The extended spot is intended to introduce consumers to Chatbooks for the first time, but the Harmon Brother’s wanted to steer clear of a typical infomercial tone. Instead, the product is explained by a hilariously “real” mom (played by actress Lisa Valentine Clark), who juggles garbage disposal mishaps, potty training, and crossbow-wielding children with unflappable optimism.

3) Gusto

Being an HR manager at a small company is hard. Gusto, an HR software startup, wanted to give a shout out to all the HR managers who deftly manage 100+ responsibilities on a daily basis in their first ad campaign. They enlisted the help of Erich & Kallman, a new ad agency based in San Francisco, to make that vision come to life.

In a spot-on casting choice, actress and comedian Kristen Schaal was hired to portray the typical HR manager. Her quirky charm and self-possessed nature perfectly encapsulate the profession, and she hilariously swaps into different outfits and personas to accommodate various employee requests.

4) The Hospital for Sick Children

Canadian agency Cossette produced this captivating and emotionally powerful extended ad campaign for The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Set to a pounding anthem (“Undeniable” by Donnie Daydream), the spot imagines sick children as fighters — medieval warriors, comic book heroes, athletes — combatting their illnesses with an unparalleled ferocity and unshakable spirit.

Part of a larger fundraising campaign for the Canadian hospital, the ad stars over 50 actual patients, along with their families, doctors, and nurses. It’s an inspiring departure from traditional ads concerning childhood illness, and is perhaps even more forceful for it.

5) Canary

Imagine you leave the kids with a babysitter to go see a movie — what could possibly go wrong? This ad for home security startup Canary imagines exactly that.

In the spot, one messy disaster strikes after another. The babysitter invites her sketchy boyfriend over for a make-out session, the girls run an overflowing bubble bath for the family cat, and one of the kids decides it’s the perfect time to take the car out for an experimental spin — which, as you might imagine, doesn’t end too well for the garage door.

Developed by CP+B Miami, the ad gets a boost from director Peter Atencio’s eye for perfect comedic timing (he directs Comedy Central’s sketch show Key & Peele). It’s a disastrously good time.

6) Dollar Shave Club

This spot for Dollar Shave Club presents more a palatable, normal-guy alternative to the hyper-masculine products that dominate the male grooming industry.

In the ad, a man shopping with his girlfriend picks out a shower gel called “Massive Hero,” which promises “a fully jacked amino protein delivery system.” With perfect timing, a body builder enters the same aisle — the ideal consumer for the ultra-manly product. He picks up “Massive Hero” and inexplicably begins to flex and scream.

The hilarious, 30-second spot was created in-house at Dollar Shave Club by Alex Karpovsky (a writer/director/actor you might have seen on HBO’s Girls) and designer/musician Teddy Blanks.

7) The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

It’s rare that an ad makes us stop for a minute in silent contemplation, but its impossible to come away from this short film for The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival without a lump in your throat.

Set to “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, the film was created pro-bono by DDB New York as part of a larger campaign to raise awareness for wildlife conservation and global biodiversity protection. Zombie Studio produced the animation for the spot, which features a cast of uniquely expressive animals and sinister humans.

Warning: This will make you cry.

8) Pine Sol

In this new series of spots for Pine Sol cleaning products by experience design agency Critical Mass, the cleaning product company sticks to what they know: how to clean things, and nothing else.

Each of the campaign’s 16-second ads highlight a brief moment of uncertainty: Will the cat jump on the table? Will the big date go well? Will Jared meet his 401k goals? The narrator makes it clear that Pine Sol definitely doesn’t have the answers to these questions — but they do know how to clean your stuff (hint: with Pine Sol).

9) Asus ZenFone 3

What happens when you ask ordinary people on the street to direct a commercial for your product? Well, it starts on a beach, and then things get pretty weird.

The folks at creative agency SuperHeroes enlisted the help of Matt Rubano and Betsy Kenney (members of Upright Citizens Brigade, the famous improv troupe) to ask random people on the street to come up with the plot of an ad for the new Asus ZenFone 3. The resulting spot includes dinosaurs, aliens, and an international car model named “Renaldo” saving the day at a night club.

10) Hornbach

If you’ve ever attempted a big do-it-yourself project, you know there are usually some big ups and downs. In this ad for German home improvement chain Hornbach, agency Heimat presents an unexpected metaphor for big DIY undertakings: rolling down a mountainside, naked.

The ad starts with a man beginning to dig a pond in his backyard, and we simultaneously follow his progression sliding through varied mountain terrains. At times, the grass is soft and inviting, and his progress is smooth — but there are some definite bumps along the way.

Have you seen any great ads lately? Let us know in the comments.

market-your-agency

Lead Generation Mistakes Most Marketers Should Stop Making

lead-generation-mistakes.jpg

For many businesses, the key to making sales is to first generate leads.

Leads are valuable because they’re the people who have indicated organic interest in your content and your business by giving you their information in some way, whether it’s by filling out a form to download an ebook, completing an online survey, or something else.

But leads don’t grow on trees. Some marketers have trouble generating enough leads to feed their sales team. Others generate plenty of leads, but they’re not good leads, and your sales team is having trouble closing them into customers. Others just have no idea where their leads are coming from. Buy the ultimate online course on lead generation and local funnels (save $200 by October 30th)

These are all common problems marketers have with lead generation. In this post, we’ll go over many of these problems and talk about how to fix them.

(P.S. – Need help diagnosing your website’s lead gen issues? The folks at IMPACT Branding & Design are providing expert website critiques live at this year’s INBOUND event with the help of special guests like Marcus Sheridan and HubSpot’s Luke Summerfield. Sign up here to reserve a slot.)

9 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Need to Stop Making

1) You’re buying leads, not generating them organically.

If you’re having trouble generating leads, it can be tempting to buy email lists so you can feed your sales organization with something — anything. But buying or renting contacts out of desperation will cause you more long-term (and short-term) harm than good.

There are a lot of reasons buying email lists is never a good idea. Not only will sending emails to purchased lists harm your email deliverability and IP reputation, but there’s a good chance the people on your purchased list have never heard of your company — making them far more likely to mark you as spam. They’ll also think you’re super annoying. And you’re not annoying, are you?

Bottom line here is that quality email addresses simply aren’t for sale. The whole point of generating leads is to eventually nurture those leads into customers. In order for your leads to become customers, the leads you generate need to actually want to hear from you.

How to Fix It

Your leads need to opt in, plain and simple. This means your contacts chose to give you their information in exchange for something valuable, like a content offer, webinar, event, and so on. Focus on creating offers that are valuable in some way for your target audience, and then package that value and put it behind a lead capture form.

Growing a healthy, opt-in email list takes time, but it’s worth its weight in gold down the line. And once you have people to email, be sure you’re creating remarkable email content that makes people want to actually open your emails and stay subscribed.

2) You don’t offer lead gen content for people in different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Not everyone who visits your website is going to be in the same stage of their buyer’s journey. Think about the folks who are landing on your website for the very first time. Do you think they’re ready to see a demo of your product? Or do you think they’d be more likely to want to download a helpful piece of content, like a step-by-step guide?

Some of your site visitors might be ready to buy, but most won’t — and you need to give them the opportunities to learn more about your business and what you’re selling before asking them take any sort of purchase action.

Creating valuable content to teach and nurture your leads down the funnel is time-consuming, which is why so often you’ll browse a business’ website and see nothing but “Buy Now!” and “Click Here for a Free Demo!” all over the place.

How to Fix It

There is no one-size-fits-all CTA for everyone who visits your website. To maximize clickthrough rates, you’ll want to cater to visitors who are at all different stages of the buyer’s journey using CTAs.

So, yes — you’ll need to spend time creating a variety of offers you can put behind landing page forms that cater to people at different stages. Folks who are just starting to get to know you might be interested in offers like checklists, contests, and templates. Visitors who are a little further down the funnel might be interested in email courses, kits, and whitepapers. Folks even further down might be ready for a demo.

Make sure you’re creating content that cover the whole funnel, and that you’re offering this content on your website so there’s something for everyone. (Need ideas for lead gen content? Here are 23 ideas for you.)

If you want to take personalization a step further, use smart CTAs. Smart CTAs are CTAs that change depending on the person viewing the page — his or her interests, location, pages viewed already, items or services bought before, and so on. Unsurprisingly, personalized CTAS actually convert 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action. They make for a better user experience for your user, and higher conversion rates for you: a win-win! You can learn more about smart CTAs here.

3) You aren’t using your blog to generate leads.

HubSpot’s blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads. In fact, we found that 76% of our monthly blog views come from “old” posts (in other words, posts published prior to that month). We always joke that if the entire blogging team went on vacation for a month, we’d still hit a good portion of our leads goal. (We’re still working on that one.)

But we find that marketers aren’t fully taking advantage of blogging as a lead generation powerhouse. Either folks aren’t blogging at all, or they’re not putting lead capture forms or CTAs on their blog — sometimes because they don’t have any valuable content offers to put behind a form.

But one of the biggest benefits of business blogging is converting the traffic it brings you into leads. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. Here’s what that looks like in numbers: If each one of your blog posts gets about 100 views per month, and your visitor-to-lead conversion rate on the blog is about 2%, then you’d get two leads from a single blog post each month. If you write 30 blog posts per month, you’d get 60 leads in a month — two from each blog post.

Keep blogging consistently like that for a year, and thanks to each blog post’s compounding value over time, each post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads. By the end of 12 months, you’ll end up getting 4,680 opt-in contacts per month, not just 720 opt-in contacts (60 leads*12 months).

blogging_compounding_returns-5.jpg

How to Fix It

Generating leads from your blog posts is simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post. Most of the time, these CTAs will lead to landing pages offering free content like ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, webinars, free trials, and so on. Promote your content offers by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

What that CTA looks like on your blog posts is up to you. On HubSpot’s blog, we use three main types of CTAs on our blog: end-of-post banner CTAs on every single post, and slide-in CTAs and anchor text CTAs on select posts. Read this post to learn when it’s appropriate to use end-of-post banner CTAs, anchor text CTAs, or both.

end-of-post-cta-banner-1-1.png

anchor-text-cta (1).png

As for slide-in CTAs, we’ve found these to perform better than end-of-post CTAs — which makes sense because visitors see them sooner since they slide in at about 25%-50% of the way down the post. Learn how to add slide-in CTAs to your blog posts here.

slide-in-cta-example-1.png

4) You aren’t using the best lead generation tools.

You know that people are coming to your website, but do you know what who they are? How about what they’re doing once they get there, or what they’re doing before and after taking certain actions? If you’re unable to answer these questions, then you’re going to have a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site or learning what’s resonating with them and what’s not.

But these are questions you can and should answer — but you need the right tools to do it. There are some great tools out there that can help you learn about your website visitors and convert them into leads.

How to Fix It

The trick is finding the best combination of tools that’ll give you the most insight and the best bang for your buck. There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets you can put on your site.

At the simplest level, these 50+ free, customizable CTA Templates will help you create clickable buttons you can put on your blog, your landing pages, and elsewhere on your site. Use them to create CTAs that lead to a landing page form.

Speaking of forms, a form embedding tool will come in handy when it comes to actually collecting information from your site visitors and converting them into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create and embed forms using HubSpot. Non-HubSpot customers can use a tool like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms, and then use Leadin’s free Collected Forms tool to automatically capture these form submissions on your website.

Finally, a lead capture and contact insights tool like Leadin by HubSpot (which is free) will help you capture leads using pop-ups, dropdown banners, or slide-ins (called “lead flows”). It’ll also scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database.

Here’s an example of a slide-in CTA created using Leadin, HubSpot’s free conversion tool:

slide-in-lead-flow.gif

5) You have a “right vs. wrong” testing mindset.

Knowing that you should test your website and constantly work on improving it is one thing. What most marketers have trouble with is seeing testing and experimenting not as a way to prove your ideas, but as a way to find something better.

I like the way Andrew Anderson put it in his post on ConversionXL: “The real challenge is in getting yourself and your organization ready to accept one really simple truth: Being wrong is far more valuable than being right.”

Often, this will manifest itself in someone having an idea for how to improve a part of their website. Perhaps they think removing distractions from a landing page will increase conversion rates on that page, for instance. What happens here is that most marketers will limit what they test in a way that skews the data to help them reach that conclusion, often without meaning it. After all, it feels bad — and might look bad — to have an idea or make an assumption and have it proven totally wrong.

How to Fix It

“The first and most vital step to dealing with this is to focus all discussions on the comparing of actions and not on validating opinions,” writes Anderson. “It isn’t about if Tactic A or B works, it is how well does Tactic A or B or C or D and so on compare to each other.”

In other words, treat every idea that’s brought to the table the same, whether or not you think it’ll “win.” This makes the testing program less personal and encourages a more holistic approach. Remember: by nature, a program that tests your website is meant to prove yourself and others wrong, and that’s a good thing.

You and your teammates need to check your egos and adopt this mindset to avoid finger-pointing. Instead of rewarding people for being right, which reinforces that toxic mindset, focus on the system and the outcomes more holistically.

6) You aren’t optimizing your top pages for lead generation.

Not all webpages should be treated the same. In fact, if you look at traffic numbers to specific pages on your website, you’ll probably find that the vast majority of your traffic is coming in to a few, very specific pages — maybe your homepage; your “Contact Us” page; maybe one or two popular blog posts. With so many people landing on those pages, why would you treat them like any other ol’ page on your website?

Because so many people are landing on those pages, it’s very important that you create opportunities for people to convert on those pages, lest you leave potentially massive lead numbers on the table.

How to Fix It

First, figure out which of your webpages are the four or five most popular for traffic. (HubSpot customers: You can do this in HubSpot by going to Reports > Page Performance, then filter the report by Views.)

Then, optimize those pages for leads. This means making sure you create calls-to-action (CTAs) that stand out from the page, and then place them where people naturally look on your website. Our natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there, according to an eyetracking study.

Another way to increase the conversion rate on a page that already gets a lot of traffic? Create special offers specifically for your most popular pages, and gate them behind landing page forms. I know, I know, creating a brand new offer can time-consuming — but it could be much more effective for lead generation than optimizing button color, language, images, and so on. For example, the folks at Eastern International College created a quiz for students on which college major they should choose, which they linked to on their popular Careers page.

At the end of the quiz, they promised to send the quiz results in exchange for people’s name, phone number, and email address as a lead capture tactic.

Read this blog post for more tips on how to generate leads from your most popular webpages.

7) You’re not using social media strategically for lead generation.

Although social media is most effective for top-of-the-funnel marketing metrics like traffic and brand awareness, it can still be helpful as a source for lead generation — and a low-cost one, at that.

If you’re finding that social media isn’t generating very many leads for you, there’s a chance you’re not doing it strategically enough. At least that’s what Jeremy White, a serial entrepreneur and conversion consultant, wrote in a post on CrazyEgg’s blog.

“It’s not that you can’t get leads on social media; it’s that we’re not taking what’s there,” he wrote. In other words, you might be doing it wrong. If your social strategy is to post your new ebooks to all your social media channels and that’s about it, then don’t expect to bring in a whole lot of leads from those posts. The spray-and-pray technique isn’t enough.

How to Fix It

One way to generate more leads from social media is to sprinkle blog posts and offers that have historically generated higher-than-average leads numbers for you in with the new posts and offers your team is creating.

At HubSpot, we’ve found that one of the best ways to generate leads is simply to link directly to landing pages for blog posts and offers that have historically performed well for lead generation. (Learn how to do your own blog lead generation analysis here.)

We’ve also found that linking directly to an offer’s landing page can be more effective — as long as your post copy sets the expectation that you are, in fact, sending people to a landing page. In the Facebook post below, we set that expectation by putting “Free Template” in brackets in front of the offer title.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhubspot%2Fposts%2F10154680768144394&width=500

You’ll also want to make sure you’re using some of the features on each social network that are specifically designed to help you generate leads.

On Twitter, your lead gen tweets should contain a value proposition, a short URL linking to the landing page with a form, and an image to ensure the post stands out. (Here are some social media image templates you can use to create those images.)

Twitter also offers lead generation cards that can help you generate qualified leads at a lower cost than most of the other major ad platforms. Twitter cards let you embed rich media that don’t count toward your tweet character limit that allow your fans and followers to do things like download an app, visit a landing page, give over their email, or use a coupon — all without leaving Twitter. (HubSpot customers: You can connect your Twitter lead gen cards to HubSpot by following these instructions.)

On Facebook: There are a number of great ways to generate leads from Facebook, the best of which I’ve rounded up in this blog post. For example, one way to easily generate leads is by simply using the call-to-action feature available for Pages. The feature lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, and it can help drive more traffic from your Facebook Page to lead generation forms like landing pages and contact sheets.

 

 Find the original full article here

Lead Generation Mistakes Most Marketers Should Stop Making syndicated from http://www.contentkingpin.com

Lead Generation Mistakes Most Marketers Should Stop Making

lead-generation-mistakes.jpg

For many businesses, the key to making sales is to first generate leads.

Leads are valuable because they’re the people who have indicated organic interest in your content and your business by giving you their information in some way, whether it’s by filling out a form to download an ebook, completing an online survey, or something else.

But leads don’t grow on trees. Some marketers have trouble generating enough leads to feed their sales team. Others generate plenty of leads, but they’re not good leads, and your sales team is having trouble closing them into customers. Others just have no idea where their leads are coming from. Buy the ultimate online course on lead generation and local funnels (save $200 by October 30th)

These are all common problems marketers have with lead generation. In this post, we’ll go over many of these problems and talk about how to fix them.

(P.S. – Need help diagnosing your website’s lead gen issues? The folks at IMPACT Branding & Design are providing expert website critiques live at this year’s INBOUND event with the help of special guests like Marcus Sheridan and HubSpot’s Luke Summerfield. Sign up here to reserve a slot.)

9 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Need to Stop Making

1) You’re buying leads, not generating them organically.

If you’re having trouble generating leads, it can be tempting to buy email lists so you can feed your sales organization with something — anything. But buying or renting contacts out of desperation will cause you more long-term (and short-term) harm than good.

There are a lot of reasons buying email lists is never a good idea. Not only will sending emails to purchased lists harm your email deliverability and IP reputation, but there’s a good chance the people on your purchased list have never heard of your company — making them far more likely to mark you as spam. They’ll also think you’re super annoying. And you’re not annoying, are you?

Bottom line here is that quality email addresses simply aren’t for sale. The whole point of generating leads is to eventually nurture those leads into customers. In order for your leads to become customers, the leads you generate need to actually want to hear from you.

How to Fix It

Your leads need to opt in, plain and simple. This means your contacts chose to give you their information in exchange for something valuable, like a content offer, webinar, event, and so on. Focus on creating offers that are valuable in some way for your target audience, and then package that value and put it behind a lead capture form.

Growing a healthy, opt-in email list takes time, but it’s worth its weight in gold down the line. And once you have people to email, be sure you’re creating remarkable email content that makes people want to actually open your emails and stay subscribed.

2) You don’t offer lead gen content for people in different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Not everyone who visits your website is going to be in the same stage of their buyer’s journey. Think about the folks who are landing on your website for the very first time. Do you think they’re ready to see a demo of your product? Or do you think they’d be more likely to want to download a helpful piece of content, like a step-by-step guide?

Some of your site visitors might be ready to buy, but most won’t — and you need to give them the opportunities to learn more about your business and what you’re selling before asking them take any sort of purchase action.

Creating valuable content to teach and nurture your leads down the funnel is time-consuming, which is why so often you’ll browse a business’ website and see nothing but “Buy Now!” and “Click Here for a Free Demo!” all over the place.

How to Fix It

There is no one-size-fits-all CTA for everyone who visits your website. To maximize clickthrough rates, you’ll want to cater to visitors who are at all different stages of the buyer’s journey using CTAs.

So, yes — you’ll need to spend time creating a variety of offers you can put behind landing page forms that cater to people at different stages. Folks who are just starting to get to know you might be interested in offers like checklists, contests, and templates. Visitors who are a little further down the funnel might be interested in email courses, kits, and whitepapers. Folks even further down might be ready for a demo.

Make sure you’re creating content that cover the whole funnel, and that you’re offering this content on your website so there’s something for everyone. (Need ideas for lead gen content? Here are 23 ideas for you.)

If you want to take personalization a step further, use smart CTAs. Smart CTAs are CTAs that change depending on the person viewing the page — his or her interests, location, pages viewed already, items or services bought before, and so on. Unsurprisingly, personalized CTAS actually convert 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action. They make for a better user experience for your user, and higher conversion rates for you: a win-win! You can learn more about smart CTAs here.

3) You aren’t using your blog to generate leads.

HubSpot’s blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads. In fact, we found that 76% of our monthly blog views come from “old” posts (in other words, posts published prior to that month). We always joke that if the entire blogging team went on vacation for a month, we’d still hit a good portion of our leads goal. (We’re still working on that one.)

But we find that marketers aren’t fully taking advantage of blogging as a lead generation powerhouse. Either folks aren’t blogging at all, or they’re not putting lead capture forms or CTAs on their blog — sometimes because they don’t have any valuable content offers to put behind a form.

But one of the biggest benefits of business blogging is converting the traffic it brings you into leads. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. Here’s what that looks like in numbers: If each one of your blog posts gets about 100 views per month, and your visitor-to-lead conversion rate on the blog is about 2%, then you’d get two leads from a single blog post each month. If you write 30 blog posts per month, you’d get 60 leads in a month — two from each blog post.

Keep blogging consistently like that for a year, and thanks to each blog post’s compounding value over time, each post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads. By the end of 12 months, you’ll end up getting 4,680 opt-in contacts per month, not just 720 opt-in contacts (60 leads*12 months).

blogging_compounding_returns-5.jpg

How to Fix It

Generating leads from your blog posts is simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post. Most of the time, these CTAs will lead to landing pages offering free content like ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, webinars, free trials, and so on. Promote your content offers by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

What that CTA looks like on your blog posts is up to you. On HubSpot’s blog, we use three main types of CTAs on our blog: end-of-post banner CTAs on every single post, and slide-in CTAs and anchor text CTAs on select posts. Read this post to learn when it’s appropriate to use end-of-post banner CTAs, anchor text CTAs, or both.

end-of-post-cta-banner-1-1.png

anchor-text-cta (1).png

As for slide-in CTAs, we’ve found these to perform better than end-of-post CTAs — which makes sense because visitors see them sooner since they slide in at about 25%-50% of the way down the post. Learn how to add slide-in CTAs to your blog posts here.

slide-in-cta-example-1.png

4) You aren’t using the best lead generation tools.

You know that people are coming to your website, but do you know what who they are? How about what they’re doing once they get there, or what they’re doing before and after taking certain actions? If you’re unable to answer these questions, then you’re going to have a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site or learning what’s resonating with them and what’s not.

But these are questions you can and should answer — but you need the right tools to do it. There are some great tools out there that can help you learn about your website visitors and convert them into leads.

How to Fix It

The trick is finding the best combination of tools that’ll give you the most insight and the best bang for your buck. There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets you can put on your site.

At the simplest level, these 50+ free, customizable CTA Templates will help you create clickable buttons you can put on your blog, your landing pages, and elsewhere on your site. Use them to create CTAs that lead to a landing page form.

Speaking of forms, a form embedding tool will come in handy when it comes to actually collecting information from your site visitors and converting them into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create and embed forms using HubSpot. Non-HubSpot customers can use a tool like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms, and then use Leadin’s free Collected Forms tool to automatically capture these form submissions on your website.

Finally, a lead capture and contact insights tool like Leadin by HubSpot (which is free) will help you capture leads using pop-ups, dropdown banners, or slide-ins (called “lead flows”). It’ll also scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database.

Here’s an example of a slide-in CTA created using Leadin, HubSpot’s free conversion tool:

slide-in-lead-flow.gif

5) You have a “right vs. wrong” testing mindset.

Knowing that you should test your website and constantly work on improving it is one thing. What most marketers have trouble with is seeing testing and experimenting not as a way to prove your ideas, but as a way to find something better.

I like the way Andrew Anderson put it in his post on ConversionXL: “The real challenge is in getting yourself and your organization ready to accept one really simple truth: Being wrong is far more valuable than being right.”

Often, this will manifest itself in someone having an idea for how to improve a part of their website. Perhaps they think removing distractions from a landing page will increase conversion rates on that page, for instance. What happens here is that most marketers will limit what they test in a way that skews the data to help them reach that conclusion, often without meaning it. After all, it feels bad — and might look bad — to have an idea or make an assumption and have it proven totally wrong.

How to Fix It

“The first and most vital step to dealing with this is to focus all discussions on the comparing of actions and not on validating opinions,” writes Anderson. “It isn’t about if Tactic A or B works, it is how well does Tactic A or B or C or D and so on compare to each other.”

In other words, treat every idea that’s brought to the table the same, whether or not you think it’ll “win.” This makes the testing program less personal and encourages a more holistic approach. Remember: by nature, a program that tests your website is meant to prove yourself and others wrong, and that’s a good thing.

You and your teammates need to check your egos and adopt this mindset to avoid finger-pointing. Instead of rewarding people for being right, which reinforces that toxic mindset, focus on the system and the outcomes more holistically.

6) You aren’t optimizing your top pages for lead generation.

Not all webpages should be treated the same. In fact, if you look at traffic numbers to specific pages on your website, you’ll probably find that the vast majority of your traffic is coming in to a few, very specific pages — maybe your homepage; your “Contact Us” page; maybe one or two popular blog posts. With so many people landing on those pages, why would you treat them like any other ol’ page on your website?

Because so many people are landing on those pages, it’s very important that you create opportunities for people to convert on those pages, lest you leave potentially massive lead numbers on the table.

How to Fix It

First, figure out which of your webpages are the four or five most popular for traffic. (HubSpot customers: You can do this in HubSpot by going to Reports > Page Performance, then filter the report by Views.)

Then, optimize those pages for leads. This means making sure you create calls-to-action (CTAs) that stand out from the page, and then place them where people naturally look on your website. Our natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there, according to an eyetracking study.

Another way to increase the conversion rate on a page that already gets a lot of traffic? Create special offers specifically for your most popular pages, and gate them behind landing page forms. I know, I know, creating a brand new offer can time-consuming — but it could be much more effective for lead generation than optimizing button color, language, images, and so on. For example, the folks at Eastern International College created a quiz for students on which college major they should choose, which they linked to on their popular Careers page.

At the end of the quiz, they promised to send the quiz results in exchange for people’s name, phone number, and email address as a lead capture tactic.

Read this blog post for more tips on how to generate leads from your most popular webpages.

7) You’re not using social media strategically for lead generation.

Although social media is most effective for top-of-the-funnel marketing metrics like traffic and brand awareness, it can still be helpful as a source for lead generation — and a low-cost one, at that.

If you’re finding that social media isn’t generating very many leads for you, there’s a chance you’re not doing it strategically enough. At least that’s what Jeremy White, a serial entrepreneur and conversion consultant, wrote in a post on CrazyEgg’s blog.

“It’s not that you can’t get leads on social media; it’s that we’re not taking what’s there,” he wrote. In other words, you might be doing it wrong. If your social strategy is to post your new ebooks to all your social media channels and that’s about it, then don’t expect to bring in a whole lot of leads from those posts. The spray-and-pray technique isn’t enough.

How to Fix It

One way to generate more leads from social media is to sprinkle blog posts and offers that have historically generated higher-than-average leads numbers for you in with the new posts and offers your team is creating.

At HubSpot, we’ve found that one of the best ways to generate leads is simply to link directly to landing pages for blog posts and offers that have historically performed well for lead generation. (Learn how to do your own blog lead generation analysis here.)

We’ve also found that linking directly to an offer’s landing page can be more effective — as long as your post copy sets the expectation that you are, in fact, sending people to a landing page. In the Facebook post below, we set that expectation by putting “Free Template” in brackets in front of the offer title.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhubspot%2Fposts%2F10154680768144394&width=500

You’ll also want to make sure you’re using some of the features on each social network that are specifically designed to help you generate leads.

On Twitter, your lead gen tweets should contain a value proposition, a short URL linking to the landing page with a form, and an image to ensure the post stands out. (Here are some social media image templates you can use to create those images.)

Twitter also offers lead generation cards that can help you generate qualified leads at a lower cost than most of the other major ad platforms. Twitter cards let you embed rich media that don’t count toward your tweet character limit that allow your fans and followers to do things like download an app, visit a landing page, give over their email, or use a coupon — all without leaving Twitter. (HubSpot customers: You can connect your Twitter lead gen cards to HubSpot by following these instructions.)

On Facebook: There are a number of great ways to generate leads from Facebook, the best of which I’ve rounded up in this blog post. For example, one way to easily generate leads is by simply using the call-to-action feature available for Pages. The feature lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, and it can help drive more traffic from your Facebook Page to lead generation forms like landing pages and contact sheets.

 

 Find the original full article here

Lead Generation Mistakes Most Marketers Should Stop Making posted first on http://www.seokingpin.com

9 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Need to Stop Making

lead-generation-mistakes.jpg

For many businesses, the key to making sales is to first generate leads.

Leads are valuable because they’re the people who have indicated organic interest in your content and your business by giving you their information in some way, whether it’s by filling out a form to download an ebook, completing an online survey, or something else.

But leads don’t grow on trees. Some marketers have trouble generating enough leads to feed their sales team. Others generate plenty of leads, but they’re not good leads, and your sales team is having trouble closing them into customers. Others just have no idea where their leads are coming from. Download the beginner's guide to converting website visitors into leads for your business here.

These are all common problems marketers have with lead generation. In this post, we’ll go over many of these problems and talk about how to fix them.

(P.S. – Need help diagnosing your website’s lead gen issues? The folks at IMPACT Branding & Design are providing expert website critiques live at this year’s INBOUND event with the help of special guests like Marcus Sheridan and HubSpot’s Luke Summerfield. Sign up here to reserve a slot.)

9 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Need to Stop Making

1) You’re buying leads, not generating them organically.

If you’re having trouble generating leads, it can be tempting to buy email lists so you can feed your sales organization with something — anything. But buying or renting contacts out of desperation will cause you more long-term (and short-term) harm than good.

There are a lot of reasons buying email lists is never a good idea. Not only will sending emails to purchased lists harm your email deliverability and IP reputation, but there’s a good chance the people on your purchased list have never heard of your company — making them far more likely to mark you as spam. They’ll also think you’re super annoying. And you’re not annoying, are you?

Bottom line here is that quality email addresses simply aren’t for sale. The whole point of generating leads is to eventually nurture those leads into customers. In order for your leads to become customers, the leads you generate need to actually want to hear from you.

How to Fix It

Your leads need to opt in, plain and simple. This means your contacts chose to give you their information in exchange for something valuable, like a content offer, webinar, event, and so on. Focus on creating offers that are valuable in some way for your target audience, and then package that value and put it behind a lead capture form.

Growing a healthy, opt-in email list takes time, but it’s worth its weight in gold down the line. And once you have people to email, be sure you’re creating remarkable email content that makes people want to actually open your emails and stay subscribed.

2) You don’t offer lead gen content for people in different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Not everyone who visits your website is going to be in the same stage of their buyer’s journey. Think about the folks who are landing on your website for the very first time. Do you think they’re ready to see a demo of your product? Or do you think they’d be more likely to want to download a helpful piece of content, like a step-by-step guide?

Some of your site visitors might be ready to buy, but most won’t — and you need to give them the opportunities to learn more about your business and what you’re selling before asking them take any sort of purchase action.

Creating valuable content to teach and nurture your leads down the funnel is time-consuming, which is why so often you’ll browse a business’ website and see nothing but “Buy Now!” and “Click Here for a Free Demo!” all over the place.

How to Fix It

There is no one-size-fits-all CTA for everyone who visits your website. To maximize clickthrough rates, you’ll want to cater to visitors who are at all different stages of the buyer’s journey using CTAs.

So, yes — you’ll need to spend time creating a variety of offers you can put behind landing page forms that cater to people at different stages. Folks who are just starting to get to know you might be interested in offers like checklists, contests, and templates. Visitors who are a little further down the funnel might be interested in email courses, kits, and whitepapers. Folks even further down might be ready for a demo.

Make sure you’re creating content that cover the whole funnel, and that you’re offering this content on your website so there’s something for everyone. (Need ideas for lead gen content? Here are 23 ideas for you.)

If you want to take personalization a step further, use smart CTAs. Smart CTAs are CTAs that change depending on the person viewing the page — his or her interests, location, pages viewed already, items or services bought before, and so on. Unsurprisingly, personalized CTAS actually convert 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action. They make for a better user experience for your user, and higher conversion rates for you: a win-win! You can learn more about smart CTAs here.

3) You aren’t using your blog to generate leads.

HubSpot’s blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads. In fact, we found that 76% of our monthly blog views come from “old” posts (in other words, posts published prior to that month). We always joke that if the entire blogging team went on vacation for a month, we’d still hit a good portion of our leads goal. (We’re still working on that one.)

But we find that marketers aren’t fully taking advantage of blogging as a lead generation powerhouse. Either folks aren’t blogging at all, or they’re not putting lead capture forms or CTAs on their blog — sometimes because they don’t have any valuable content offers to put behind a form.

But one of the biggest benefits of business blogging is converting the traffic it brings you into leads. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. Here’s what that looks like in numbers: If each one of your blog posts gets about 100 views per month, and your visitor-to-lead conversion rate on the blog is about 2%, then you’d get two leads from a single blog post each month. If you write 30 blog posts per month, you’d get 60 leads in a month — two from each blog post.

Keep blogging consistently like that for a year, and thanks to each blog post’s compounding value over time, each post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads. By the end of 12 months, you’ll end up getting 4,680 opt-in contacts per month, not just 720 opt-in contacts (60 leads*12 months).

blogging_compounding_returns-5.jpg

How to Fix It

Generating leads from your blog posts is simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post. Most of the time, these CTAs will lead to landing pages offering free content like ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, webinars, free trials, and so on. Promote your content offers by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

What that CTA looks like on your blog posts is up to you. On HubSpot’s blog, we use three main types of CTAs on our blog: end-of-post banner CTAs on every single post, and slide-in CTAs and anchor text CTAs on select posts. Read this post to learn when it’s appropriate to use end-of-post banner CTAs, anchor text CTAs, or both.

end-of-post-cta-banner-1-1.png

anchor-text-cta (1).png

As for slide-in CTAs, we’ve found these to perform better than end-of-post CTAs — which makes sense because visitors see them sooner since they slide in at about 25%-50% of the way down the post. Learn how to add slide-in CTAs to your blog posts here.

slide-in-cta-example-1.png

4) You aren’t using the best lead generation tools.

You know that people are coming to your website, but do you know what who they are? How about what they’re doing once they get there, or what they’re doing before and after taking certain actions? If you’re unable to answer these questions, then you’re going to have a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site or learning what’s resonating with them and what’s not.

But these are questions you can and should answer — but you need the right tools to do it. There are some great tools out there that can help you learn about your website visitors and convert them into leads.

How to Fix It

The trick is finding the best combination of tools that’ll give you the most insight and the best bang for your buck. There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets you can put on your site.

At the simplest level, these 50+ free, customizable CTA Templates will help you create clickable buttons you can put on your blog, your landing pages, and elsewhere on your site. Use them to create CTAs that lead to a landing page form.

Speaking of forms, a form embedding tool will come in handy when it comes to actually collecting information from your site visitors and converting them into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create and embed forms using HubSpot. Non-HubSpot customers can use a tool like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms, and then use Leadin’s free Collected Forms tool to automatically capture these form submissions on your website.

Finally, a lead capture and contact insights tool like Leadin by HubSpot (which is free) will help you capture leads using pop-ups, dropdown banners, or slide-ins (called “lead flows”). It’ll also scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database.

Here’s an example of a slide-in CTA created using Leadin, HubSpot’s free conversion tool:

slide-in-lead-flow.gif

5) You have a “right vs. wrong” testing mindset.

Knowing that you should test your website and constantly work on improving it is one thing. What most marketers have trouble with is seeing testing and experimenting not as a way to prove your ideas, but as a way to find something better.

I like the way Andrew Anderson put it in his post on ConversionXL: “The real challenge is in getting yourself and your organization ready to accept one really simple truth: Being wrong is far more valuable than being right.”

Often, this will manifest itself in someone having an idea for how to improve a part of their website. Perhaps they think removing distractions from a landing page will increase conversion rates on that page, for instance. What happens here is that most marketers will limit what they test in a way that skews the data to help them reach that conclusion, often without meaning it. After all, it feels bad — and might look bad — to have an idea or make an assumption and have it proven totally wrong.

How to Fix It

“The first and most vital step to dealing with this is to focus all discussions on the comparing of actions and not on validating opinions,” writes Anderson. “It isn’t about if Tactic A or B works, it is how well does Tactic A or B or C or D and so on compare to each other.”

In other words, treat every idea that’s brought to the table the same, whether or not you think it’ll “win.” This makes the testing program less personal and encourages a more holistic approach. Remember: by nature, a program that tests your website is meant to prove yourself and others wrong, and that’s a good thing.

You and your teammates need to check your egos and adopt this mindset to avoid finger-pointing. Instead of rewarding people for being right, which reinforces that toxic mindset, focus on the system and the outcomes more holistically.

6) You aren’t optimizing your top pages for lead generation.

Not all webpages should be treated the same. In fact, if you look at traffic numbers to specific pages on your website, you’ll probably find that the vast majority of your traffic is coming in to a few, very specific pages — maybe your homepage; your “Contact Us” page; maybe one or two popular blog posts. With so many people landing on those pages, why would you treat them like any other ol’ page on your website?

Because so many people are landing on those pages, it’s very important that you create opportunities for people to convert on those pages, lest you leave potentially massive lead numbers on the table.

How to Fix It

First, figure out which of your webpages are the four or five most popular for traffic. (HubSpot customers: You can do this in HubSpot by going to Reports > Page Performance, then filter the report by Views.)

Then, optimize those pages for leads. This means making sure you create calls-to-action (CTAs) that stand out from the page, and then place them where people naturally look on your website. Our natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there, according to an eyetracking study.

Another way to increase the conversion rate on a page that already gets a lot of traffic? Create special offers specifically for your most popular pages, and gate them behind landing page forms. I know, I know, creating a brand new offer can time-consuming — but it could be much more effective for lead generation than optimizing button color, language, images, and so on. For example, the folks at Eastern International College created a quiz for students on which college major they should choose, which they linked to on their popular Careers page.

eastern-international-college-quiz.png

At the end of the quiz, they promised to send the quiz results in exchange for people’s name, phone number, and email address as a lead capture tactic.

Read this blog post for more tips on how to generate leads from your most popular webpages.

7) You’re not using social media strategically for lead generation.

Although social media is most effective for top-of-the-funnel marketing metrics like traffic and brand awareness, it can still be helpful as a source for lead generation — and a low-cost one, at that.

If you’re finding that social media isn’t generating very many leads for you, there’s a chance you’re not doing it strategically enough. At least that’s what Jeremy White, a serial entrepreneur and conversion consultant, wrote in a post on CrazyEgg’s blog.

“It’s not that you can’t get leads on social media; it’s that we’re not taking what’s there,” he wrote. In other words, you might be doing it wrong. If your social strategy is to post your new ebooks to all your social media channels and that’s about it, then don’t expect to bring in a whole lot of leads from those posts. The spray-and-pray technique isn’t enough.

How to Fix It

One way to generate more leads from social media is to sprinkle blog posts and offers that have historically generated higher-than-average leads numbers for you in with the new posts and offers your team is creating.

At HubSpot, we’ve found that one of the best ways to generate leads is simply to link directly to landing pages for blog posts and offers that have historically performed well for lead generation. (Learn how to do your own blog lead generation analysis here.)

We’ve also found that linking directly to an offer’s landing page can be more effective — as long as your post copy sets the expectation that you are, in fact, sending people to a landing page. In the Facebook post below, we set that expectation by putting “Free Template” in brackets in front of the offer title.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhubspot%2Fposts%2F10154680768144394&width=500

You’ll also want to make sure you’re using some of the features on each social network that are specifically designed to help you generate leads.

On Twitter, your lead gen tweets should contain a value proposition, a short URL linking to the landing page with a form, and an image to ensure the post stands out. (Here are some social media image templates you can use to create those images.)

Twitter also offers lead generation cards that can help you generate qualified leads at a lower cost than most of the other major ad platforms. Twitter cards let you embed rich media that don’t count toward your tweet character limit that allow your fans and followers to do things like download an app, visit a landing page, give over their email, or use a coupon — all without leaving Twitter. (HubSpot customers: You can connect your Twitter lead gen cards to HubSpot by following these instructions.)

On Facebook: There are a number of great ways to generate leads from Facebook, the best of which I’ve rounded up in this blog post. For example, one way to easily generate leads is by simply using the call-to-action feature available for Pages. The feature lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, and it can help drive more traffic from your Facebook Page to lead generation forms like landing pages and contact sheets.

Here’s an example from Tough Mudder’s Page, and you can learn how to insert your own Facebook CTA button here.

tough-mudder-facebook-for-lead-gen.png

On LinkedIn, B2B businesses can take advantage of the perception that LinkedIn is the most sophisticated of social platforms, and a place where B2B relationships are most likely to be built. Like on Facebook, you can publish your lead-generating content directly to your business’ Facebook Page alongside actionable copy and a compelling image.

8) Your forms are too long or too short.

How long should your lead capture forms be? Striking a balance between asking too much and too little on your forms is a common problem marketers gripe with.

If your form’s too short, more people might be willing to fill it out, which is great for leads numbers — but the quality of those leads might not be very high. If your form’s too long, though, fewer people might be willing to fill it out, meaning you’ll get fewer leads out of it. On the bright side, the people who do submit their information could end up being higher quality leads.

So what gives? What’s the “magic number” of questions to ask on your forms?

How to Fix It

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how many fields to put on your forms. Your “sweet spot” will depend entirely on your goals: Do you need more leads, or do you need better leads? Essentially, the length of your form will lead to a tradeoff between quantity and quality of the leads you generate. In general, shorter forms usually result in more overall leads, while longer forms will result in fewer, but higher quality leads.

“Think of every field in your checkout as a hurdle your prospect has to leap over,” writes Copyhackers’ Joanna Wiebe. “Then ask yourself if it’s worth the possibility of losing a sale — or thousands of sales — because you want to fill a database.”

You can’t possibly know how many form fields you can pull off without conducting conversion research and running your own tests. Even then, you have to compare the ROI of additional information with the ROI of increased conversions. How much does having a phone number really help the sales team? Is it enough to warrant a potential decrease in conversions?

It’s important that you don’t make this decision without involving your sales team. They have a better idea of what information will actually help them close deals. How much does asking for a phone number actually help your sales team — and is it enough to potentially lose leads over? Speaking of talking with your sales team …

9) Your definition of a qualified lead isn’t well communicated with Sales.

You know the definition of a lead in the general sense of the term: It’s a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service by giving you their information in some way, like by filling out a form to download an ebook or completing an online survey.

A marketing qualified lead, or MQL, is a lead that’s been deemed more likely to become a customer compared to other leads, based on lead intelligence. MQLs have metaphorically raised their hands and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become full-fledged opportunities. In other words, from a marketing perspective, your sales team should be talking with them.

But sales teams tend to have their own system for qualifying leads. Sales qualified leads are leads your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up. Agreeing on that quality threshold is where things tend to get muddy. Both the quantity and quality of leads needed and the sales process are mutually agreed upon by both Marketing and Sales.

How to Fix It

That’s exactly where the conversation begins. To align Marketing and Sales on what constitutes a qualified lead from both sides, you’ll have to learn to speak each other’s language. Similar to your marketing qualified leads, Sales has its own definition of “qualified”: sales qualified leads are leads they’ve accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up.

Both teams need to align on their definitions of a marketing qualified and sales qualified lead. And there’s no one-size-fits-all definition for one, either — an MQL at one company may be completely different than an MQL at another company. You should do your own internal analysis of your leads and customers to create your business’ definition of an MQL. Read this post to learn how to get started defining an MQL for your business and communicating that definition with Sales.

There are plenty more lead generation mistakes I could add to this list, but these are some of the most important ones we see marketers make often. For our readers out there who want to get more and better quality leads, we hope this post will help you prioritize where to focus your time and resources.

What other mistakes can you add to this list? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen

8 Personalities to Look for When Assembling a Content Team

Content Team Personalities-1.png

Not having enough of the right people on your content team is a problem for many of today’s marketers. In fact, 38% of B2B marketers say HR and staffing issues are responsible for delayed success in content marketing, and 22% blame a lack of training and education.

Developing, executing, and measuring a content marketing plan can be difficult under the best of circumstances. But when you’re not adequately staffed, even the most well-conceived content marketing plan can struggle.

That’s why it’s so crucial to have the right roles outlined and fulfilled by the people who can execute them the best. We’ve identified eight personalities that can strengthen your team. As you learn more about them, you might notice that many possess the same qualifications — things like an ability to meet deadlines, good interpersonal skills, and task-specific marketing knowledge.

Check out more about these personalities below — they’ll help bring your content strategy to fruition. 

8 Personalities to Look for When Assembling a Content Team

1) The Taskmaster

This person is your project manager — the one responsible for the successful execution of your projects and campaigns. While creative, the taskmaster should also be proactive and action-oriented. After all, this person is your closer, or as we like to say around here, the overseer of getting stuff done.

The importance of well-executed project management is especially clear when comparing high-performing companies to low-performing ones. According to the Project Management Institute, in a workplace culture that emphasizes project management, 71% of projects actually meet their original goals. Compare that to the 51% of projects in non-project-management cultures, and it’s clear — companies that prioritize project management do better — period.

The taskmaster has a lot on his or her plate — things like budgets and being able to identify and prevent possible issues. But there’s technology out there that can benefit the taskmasters of the world, like the Projects app in your HubSpot software.

2) The Wordsmith

Not only does this person write well, but he or she is agile enough to do so in different voices and tones, based on your content topics and personas. In other words, the wordsmith brings your ideas to life through language. Plus, this person is able to create compelling work quickly — like the rest of the team, he or she should be deadline-driven enough to keep deliverables on track.

To state the obvious,  you can’t create content without a content creator. And it’s not just about writing — it’s about being able to do it well. These days, that’s a rare asset — American businesses spend up to $3.1 billion on training employees for basic writing skills.

The wordsmith should be well-versed in the goals and audience of the content — that’s what’s going to help him or her make it engaging. In many ways, this person is a translator who’s able to convert abstract ideas into tangible composition. And being able to work independently, as well as part of a team, is essential here, as the wordsmith must understand the ideas being communicated by his or her colleagues, and work with it autonomously.

3) The Grammar Geek

While the wordsmith gives the content life, the grammar geek is an editor makes your brand look smart. He or she holds brand values high and serves as the champion for consistency and quality across all channels.

Here’s why your grammar geek is so vital. If you publish content that contains errors, you risk losing sales. For some businesses, in fact, a single typo was speculated to result in an 80% drop in sales.

The grammar geek has a passion for language — preferably, the one in which your content is being published. But he or she also understands how to write specifically for the format of what you’re producing. Digital content, for example, sometimes takes on a different voice than print, so make sure this person is fluent in both.

And make sure this person works well with your wordsmith — chances are, they’ll have to share a back-and-forth to get a polished finished result.

4) The Artist

The strongest content teams have someone who can turns ideas and data into beautiful visuals. The artist supports your content marketing efforts by designing images, infographics, logos, and collateral — online and print — that adhere to brand style guidelines.

Compelling visuals are imperative in today’s landscape — articles with one image for every 75-100 words get twice as many social shares than articles with fewer images. You’ll need someone who can create them in a way that aligns with your brand, and is proficient in the technology used to create them. An innate sense for color, text style and layout wouldn’t hurt, either.

Make sure this person will thrive in a client-facing role, too — he or she will likely have to communicate with multiple parties and be able to understand their respective visions.

5) The Growth Hacker

Of course, it’s always good to have a master of numbers and data on your team. How else can you accurately measure and analyze the ROI of your content marketing? This person love metrics, A/B testing, and proving that ROI. In fact, it’s possible your growth hacker has a t-shirt with Peter Drucker’s famous management quote, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

The growth hacker should be more than just a data hound, though. This person truly understands what Peter Drucker meant when he wrote, “Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results.”

Your growth hacker helps reveal what’s effective. That, in turn, shows the team how to funnel its time and talents into the right actions to produce the right results. That requires an ability to develop, execute and report on a comprehensive content strategy — on that both attracts potential customers and retains existing ones. Plus, this person should be able to collaborate with sales and operations, because you’ll need their help to meet objectives.

6) The Social Butterfly

Your social butterfly is in charge of content distribution, promotion, and amplification. They have an affinity for social media and branding and enjoy interacting with people online.

Why is this team member important? You can thank the rules of good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. After all, After all, content consumption on Twitter has increased by 25% in the past two years alone — and 76% of its users are likely to recommend a brand after a positive social media interaction with it.     

Like the rest of your content team, the social butterfly must understand the goals of the project and the audience — that’s necessary in order to effectively communicate on social media. This person should be generally skilled in content distribution and promotion, and know how to engage influencers to drive interest around the brand and build customer loyalty. And it doesn’t hurt if this person knows how to manage paid promotions and campaigns on such social networks as Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and Snapchat.

7) The Risk-Taker

Every content team needs someone who challenges colleagues to try something new. Your group needs this dreamer to come up with the occasional crazy idea — because it might just work after all — and, you won’t know if you don’t try.

This individual’s unique perspective keeps your content approach from getting stale, or lost in any project chaos. And while the risk-taker role is a scary one for some teams to embrace, there’s evidence that taking risks can be beneficial — when done with caution.

But maybe that fear comes from a desire to emulate other brand leaders; if the big guys are doing it “this way,” we should, too. Or, a team may be afraid of looking dumb or silly. If you find yourself a little uncertain about the risk-taker role, ask yourself, “What content have I seen that’s really stood out to me lately? Was it the same-old-same-old, or was it something different, edgy or new?”

Obviously, your risk-taker should have a big-picture mindset, and a sense of adventure. This person shouldn’t be too preoccupied with what other people think, either. But remember: He or she must know how to take a calculated risk.

8) The Rule-Follower

To keep the risk-taker (and everyone else) in check, make sure you fill the role of rule-player. This person ensures that your content follows industry best practices. If you’re in a regulated industry, this role becomes even more important — violate any codes of conduct, and your content marketing efforts might get your company into hot water.

This rule-following team member is someone who executes on the finer, more mundane parts of the strategy. Though unsexy to some, the details are important, and they need to be thoroughly ironed out before your content goes live.

To that end, the rule-follower has a meticulous and methodical personality, with the ability to ask critical questions. And believe it or not, there are some who find joy in the execution, so to speak, and not just the strategizing — this person should have that quality.

Make It a Combo

So what happens if you can’t have a team this large? Not every company has the capacity for an eight-person content team. That’s okay — combinations are possible, and some are more important than others.

  • Make sure you have one risk-taker and one rule-follower. The risk-taker can come up with all the outta-this-world ideas, and the rule-follower can reel them back to earth. One becomes the yin to the other’s yang.
  • However, your taskmaster and growth hacker can be combined. Both are usually super-organized and meticulous; they like numbers, project management tools, and spreadsheets, and it’s fairly easy to find these traits in the same person.
  • You cannot combine your wordsmith and your grammar geek. Everybody needs an editor, right? Or as Ann Handley wrote, “Editors are not optional. Period.” And while wordsmiths can make great editors, it’s always challenging to review your own work — that’s why they call it a “second set of eyes.”
  • But, you can combine your social butterfly with your wordsmith. Creative types have a natural affinity for promotion, and your wordsmith should be able to compose the right kind of copy for your social networks.

Most content marketers are familiar with the pain of trying to do too much with too few resources. The usual result? We end up doing little to none of it well. Having these personalities on your team will help you produce better, more consistent content that your audience will want to click, read, and share.

How have you made the most of your content team? Let us know about your top content personalities in the comments.

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Facebook Advertising Advice: 10 Tips From Experts at Trello, WeWork & More

facebook-ad-tips.jpg

Facebook started as a way for college classmates to communicate, and it’s since evolved into a hub for content creation, sharing, and advertising.

Over one billion active users engage on Facebook every day, which represents a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to leverage their content in front of potential customers.

The variety of targeting options available allow marketers to get the greatest value out of each ad dollar spent on this vast network, making it an ideal place to drive conversions, downloads, and lead generation. In fact, Social Media Examiner found that 55% of social media marketers use Facebook as their primary platform, and eMarketer learned that nearly 68% of all social media ad spending is on Facebook Ads. Download this free guide for data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook Ad.

We decided to consult with a variety of successful social media marketers to learn more about their strategies for Facebook Ad targeting. Whether you’ve been advertising on Facebook for years or are just starting out, check out these lessons from the pros to maximize your social media advertising ROI.

10 Strategies for Facebook Advertising

1) Keep track of qualitative metrics.

Matt Diederichs, Social Marketing Lead at Hootsuite:

We focused on two metrics [in our Facebook Ads campaign] — video views and offer redemptions. Video views are primarily an efficiency spend, looking at the gross number of video views we can get for our investment, at the lowest possible CPV (cost per view). In the offer redemption area, we can go a bit deeper and also calculate our CPA (cost per acquisition) for each person who redeems the offer. These help us to understand whether it’s worth our investment to pay for direct customer acquisition.

Through all of this, we [also] look really hard at qualitative feedback. Facebook’s Reactions allow us to see not only how many people ‘like’ our content, but also when people ‘love’ or uh … [don’t] love our content. We also aspire for our content to be shareable, so we look for post shares and for comments on Ads. To us, that’s a leading indicator of content resonation.”

2) Take advantage of Facebook’s precise Ad targeting.

Shari Medini, Co-Host of the Push Pull Sales & Marketing Podcast:

You can target any audience [using Facebook Ads]. Almost everyone is on Facebook, and we all share incredible amounts of information about ourselves. Facebook compiles and organizes all of that data for their Ads platform so that marketers can go as broad or as narrow as they’d like. You want to target moms of young children in a 15-mile radius from a [children’s] clothing consignment store? Facebook lets you do that. You want to get young men in the sales profession between the ages of 30 and 35 to click through to your site? Facebook lets you do that.”

Andy Odom, Digital Marketing Director at Santander Consumer USA

Use the Audience Insights feature in your Ads Account to research all of Facebook, fans of your Page, or people in any custom audience to gain better insights into who they are and how to target them. You can upload [an email list] as a custom audience and serve special ads just to them.”

 Haidi Zhu, Head of Performance Marketing at WeWork:

[With Facebook Ads,] we start by analyzing the demographics of our current members to better understand who they are based on location, interests, industry, and more. We use this data to develop audiences to identify potential members and further segment down to deliver ads that feature the WeWork offerings, locations, and services that we strongly believe will benefit them most.”

3) Test different creative assets for best results.

Frank Emanuele, Social Media Manager (Talent Brand) at Liberty Mutual Insurance:

Always A/B test your creative [assets]. It’s easy to think you know what will capture your audience’s attention, but you’ll be surprised when you actually test it. I always compare at least two options and track their performance carefully. Then I put my spend toward the top performer to get the most bang for my buck. I often find that the creative I liked best actually isn’t my top performer.”

4) Pay attention to what visitors do after they click.

Alicia Palmieri, Senior Social Media & Content Specialist at 2U:

2U uses the “Learn More” call-to-action because it performs well with the type of thought leadership [education] content we share.

Our end goal when advertising on Facebook is to get people to view longform, data-rich content. Since we host most of this on our website, we work with our web analytics team to track behavior of people coming from our Ads. This helps us ensure that we’re targeting the right people and providing engaging content that they will enjoy.”

5) Don’t force new trends into your Ad strategy.

 Rachael Samuels, Social Media Specialist at Sprout Social:  

It’s important to have a clear objective for your ads, clear KPIs and a desired cost-per-conversion. Identifying these metrics, setting up proper tracking and keeping a pulse on performance is key to determining ROI from social advertising.”

Aaron Moreno, Digital Advertising Specialist at Sprout Social:  

The social landscape is constantly evolving, and our social team is constantly adapting to meet the needs of our community and stay authentic in our social presence. It’s great to be aware of trends, but you shouldn’t force a trend or new network if it’s not the right fit for your brand. You have to determine a trend’s genuine value offer before diving in headfirst. If something isn’t resonating with your audience, there’s no reason to continue chasing the hype just to be seen doing it — your audience could see that as a major turnoff.”

Chelsea Hunersen, Social Media Manager at HubSpot:

The principles of creating a good post and grabbing attention are the same no matter what the medium. For example, providing clear value and connecting about [your audience’s] real needs is something I always try to do. I’m less concerned about using a new medium like video or canvas just to use it, but I will try it if the technology gives us a better way to reach our audience.”

6) Find inspiration from your competition.

Rebecca White, Community Manager at TrackMaven:

Being able to tell what your competitors are promoting on social is invaluable. Comparing our Facebook spend with that of our competitors gives us a level playing field on which to evaluate the impact of our content.”

7) Publish videos that are short and sweet.

Erica Moss, Community Manager at Trello:

Because [Facebook offers] such a small amount of real estate, it’s important to get to the point quickly with one specific call-to-action, whether it’s a discount to redeem, an event to attend or a prompt to learn more about your product or service. Avoid lofty or flowery language.

When considering images, faces and bright colors pop more (high-res only), and video can be super impactful for ads when kept to 30 seconds or less. Bonus points if your video has closed captioning so that users don’t need audio to consume your message.”

8) Don’t fixate on vanity metrics alone.

Jenna Dutcher, Content Marketing Manager at Localist.com:

Facebook Ads can be a valuable tool, but only if you put effort into actually optimizing and measuring them. We’re big fans of A/B testing here at Localist, and always have at least two iterations of an ad running, sometimes 10-20 versions, where we’ll test things as small as capitalization, imagery, headlines, and CTAs.

You also need to be mindful of what you’re measuring. Success can’t just be based on how many people click or view an ad — what does 500 clickthroughs to a post mean to you and your company?  Be sure to tie superficial metrics like this to an acquisition goal or metric that you actually value, like cost-per-download or cost-per-lead.

9) Focus on the mobile experience.

Jason Myers, Social Media Manager at The Content Factory:

Try composing, or at least previewing, your Ad on a mobile device. Most people view Ads on a phone screen which is why those with stark, text-free images and simple messages get more engagement.”

10) Experiment with video.

Ben Kessler, Director of Marketing at WeWork

We are always eager to test new products and the latest betas to innovate with our marketing. This includes 360” video, renderings, and more, all developed by our in-house team. Because WeWork is truly something you need to experience in person, we’ve seen a lot of success with video to convey our brand and message within Facebook.”

Learn From the Pros

Now that you’ve learned different strategies for successful Facebook Advertising, apply them to your next campaign. A common thread among the responses we received for this article was the importance of constantly testing and evaluating results.

Don’t hesitate to change tactics midway through a campaign to drive greater value and conversions from your Ads. If you’re unsure where to begin with launching an Ads campaign, we have a step-by-step guide to start you off on the right foot.

What advice would you give for Facebook Advertising best practices? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to facebook advertising

Proven Tips for a Top-Notch Alumni Engagement Program

gradcapz.jpgYou know it’s bad when they start making parody videos about the horrors of alumni fundraising campaigns. Nothing can sap alumni energy for your school like getting donation calls again and again and again… But you need your alumni engaged to maintain your school’s relationship with them. You want them to be motivated to act on behalf of your institution and yes, donate, at the times and ways they’re able.  

 Alumni involvement may have its most valuable payoff through alumni’s power to connect with potential students with an authenticity no one else can match. Alumni can give your prospects a view into life at your school and what life might look like for them once they have a degree from your institution. 

The best way to get alumni to engage with your school is when interactions with them have nothing to do with asking for money. Here are some proven tips how to inspire engagement from alumni: 

Alumni Respond to Personalized Emails

People won’t bother with emails that don’t hit on their personalized interests and concerns. Use everything you know about each alum to tailor email content based on their unique history with your school — both off and online. Customize content based on data points such as their graduation date, program, and their preferred social media platforms. 

An email with a subject line “Join us for an alumni lunch” isn’t terribly inviting. Try an email with the subject line “Nursing program alumni lunch – come network!” instead. Now that’s a subject line that makes it clear why this email is directed to the recipient and what she’ll gain by reading it.

You need a rocking subject line to get alumni to open your emails, but don’t let the personalization stop there. Send happy birthday and graduation anniversary emails. If the career center is organizing a job fair for graphic arts students, invite recent graduates as well as current students. 

For more on email marketing for schools, check out this free resource >> 

Continue the Conversation via Social Media

Social media is the most effective option for the “little” yet highly impactful conversations you can have with alumni. Keep track of how their social media preferences change over time. 

For nearly all alumni, regardless of graduation year, LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms for career networking. LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool is a valuable tool helping people find and connect with fellow alums, but by itself, it won’t spark conversation or motivate action. Having a LinkedIn group for alumni can do that. 

If your school hasn’t already set up an alumni group, chances are good one of your alumni has. You don’t want competing groups. You can always ask the group owner for someone on your team to be added as a group administrator. Either way, your social media specialist should be an active presence in the group connecting people, sharing school updates, and asking for alumni feedback on relevant issues. 

Personalization works well in the LinkedIn group too. You can have multiple sub-groups. Create sub-groups based on different programs or industries where alumni can target their job and business networking efforts.

Use other social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook, to promote more social activities and interactions. Having alumni-specific accounts on social media provide a space where alumni interests are front and center. Social media is also the ideal channel for encouraging and sharing alumni generated content (AGC). 

Alumni Generated Content, You Say

Alumni are rich sources for your content machine. Whether they’re posting career or personal updates, sharing stories about their time at your school, or attending school events – alumni always have entertaining or informative content of interest to prospective students, current students, and other alumni.

Use your social media accounts to solicit their stories and posts. Ask specific questions, such as “Tell us three things you wish you knew by the time you graduated?” Then curate the most interesting responses. You can drop these into emails, reports, and your website.

Asking alumni to contribute an article for a school newsletter or a blog post. Or to be interviewed in a webinar, is another useful way to source content. In fact, don’t be surprised if alumni are just waiting to be asked to write something. Alumni want to give, but they can’t always give money. Especially recent grads still paying off school loans. Inviting them to engage with your school by providing content is valuable way they can donate rather than hitting the “donate” link.

In-Person Engagement Still Matters

Attending or speaking at in-person events is another opportunity for alumni to give back without opening their wallets. In-person events are spring-boards for interesting AGC, as well as ways to connect potential students with alumni. Invite alumni to speak at regional open house events for prospects or make themselves available for applicants to contact with questions. 

Active regional and national alumni groups can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to having a full calendar of alumni events. As with your social media alumni accounts, people on your team should be actively involved in giving them event ideas and being an extra pair of hands promoting the event. Using the information you have about alumni in your database, you may well be able to uncover alumni who’d be interested in specific events that the local association doesn’t know about.

If you want lifelong engagement from your alumni, market to them based on their specific interests and concerns as intently as you do in your search for new students. Alumni are the core of your school. The number of active students can only grow by so much, but your alumni pool is an ever-growing resource. If you want alumni engagement, you need to engage with them first.

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