Salesforce Campaign Influence: How to & Best Practices

I can finally track my campaignsOne of the more powerful features in Salesforce for metrics-oriented marketers is the Campaigns functionality. With Salesforce Campaign Influence, you can effectively track the impact of a marketing campaign throughout the larger portion of the sales funnel, starting with a Lead all the way through to a closed Opportunity.

What is Salesforce Campaign Influence?

Salesforce campaign influence allows you to associate an Opportunity to multiple campaigns. Campaigns are essentially many-to-many mappings between a Campaign object in Salesforce, and the Leads, Opportunities, or Contacts that are members of the campaign. Campaign tracking is available in the following editions of Salesforce:

  • Professional
  • Enterprise
  • Performance
  • Unlimited
  • Developer

Salesforce Campaign Influence can track how various marketing and sales initiatives have performed from the mid-to-bottom of the funnel. For example, you can use campaign tracking to see how a print, direct mail, pay-per-click, trade show, content marketing, or cold calling campaign performed in terms of the leads, opportunities, and revenue it generated or influenced.

What are the benefits of Salesforce Campaign Influence?

Salesforce Campaign Influence has a few key benefits over other ways of tracking campaign performance.

Persistent Tracking Through Multiple Object Types

Salesforce Campaign Influence can be associated with multiple native object types in Salesforce including Leads, Contacts, and Opportunities. As a result, you can associate Salesforce Campaign Influence with a Lead record, and as it progresses in the sales process and is converted into a Contact and Opportunity record, the Campaign continues to be associated with the new object types.

Using this a marketer can find out not only how many leads a particular campaign influenced, but also the amount of sales pipeline that was influenced, generated, and ultimately won due to the campaign.

Multiple Campaign Influence

Campaign tracking is implemented using what is known in database schema design as a many-to-many relationship. Essentially, multiple leads/opportunities/contacts/accounts can be associated with multiple campaigns.

Because of this relationship, you can effectively track how a single opportunity was influenced by multiple campaigns over its lifetime.

When should Salesforce Campaign Tracking be used?

Salesforce campaign tracking can be used for several distinct use cases.

Content Marketing Campaign Measurement

Campaign tracking is a powerful way to measure the effectiveness of an inbound marketing campaign. For example, Salesforce Campaign influence can be created for a particular content asset, such as a gated eBook. Every time a lead fills out the form to download and read the eBook, a trigger is activated in your Marketing Automation Platform (such as Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot or Act-On) to add the lead as a member of the campaign associated with that eBook. As the lead progresses through the funnel over time, you can then look back and compute the ROI of the eBook by seeing how many leads, sales pipeline, and revenue was influenced by it.

Examples of such campaigns include:

  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • Email newsletter sign ups
  • Any gated content
  • Event Marketing Measurement

For offline events such as proprietary trade shows or conferences, and online events such as virtual conferences or webinars, Salesforce Campaign tracking can also measure the return on your investment.

Salesforce_Dreamforce

Offline Events

For offline events, you will likely upload a list from either the conference itself through badge scans, or from your sales team collecting business cards. When uploading the list, you can create a marketing campaign for the event, and add all uploaded leads as members of the new campaign.

Examples of offline events that can be tracked:

  • Conference lists (provided by organizers to sponsors)
  • Booth badge scans (at sponsor booths)
  • Business cards (collected by sales team at networking events)
  • Talk attendee badge scans
  • Online Events

For an online event such as a webinar or virtual conference, you can set your Marketing Automation Platform to automatically add leads as members of a marketing campaign for the event when they register for it.

Again, as leads progress through the funnel, you can retrospectively understand the result in terms of opportunities from that event.

Sales Prospecting

Salesforce Campaign Influence is also great at tracking how effective a sales prospecting campaign has been. In these cases, a list of leads is added as members of a campaign created for the prospecting outreach. Then as the sales team calls into this list of leads, the outcomes (opportunities) resulting from this outreach can be followed using the Campaign object.

Direct Mail

You can also use Salesforce Campaigns for direct mail campaigns, often coupled with a sales follow up. In this case, you send direct mail to a segment of leads who are all added as members of a marketing campaign that represents the direct mail initiative.

If, for example, a direct mail has a call-to-action to a landing page specifically for the campaign, then as leads fill out the form or enter the promo code on that landing page, the marketing automation system can be set up to update the campaign membership in Salesforce to denote which members of the campaign responded to the direct mail.

Using this approach, you can not only measure the opportunities resulting from the marketing campaign, but also the response rate of the direct mail creative in the first place.

How to set Them Up

In Salesforce

To set up a campaign in Salesforce, head over to the Campaigns tab, and click the “New” button to create a new marketing campaign.

Campaign Fields

Here you’ll see a bunch of fields that need to be filled in. In particular two of the important fields are:

Campaign Name: It’s easy to get into a state of disarray with arbitrary naming conventions. My recommendation is to use the following format: TypeOfCampaign_NameOfCampaign_MonthYear. For example, the name of any leads collected at the SiriusDecisions Summit 2016 would be: InPersonEvent_SiriusDecisionsSummit2016_May2016.

Type: Have at most a dozen campaign types. Examples of what to populate this field with include: Email, List Purchase, Ad, Direct Mail, Gated Content, In-Person Event, Digital Event, Organic Referral, Organic Search, Paid Search, Teleprospecting Generated Lead (TGL).

Advanced Setup & Member Status Values

You can define the member status values for the campaign under “Advanced Setup.” As you add leads and contacts as members of the campaign, these values indicate the status of that membership. Here are a few examples of how to utilize member status values for each of the following types of campaigns:

  • Webinars: Registered, Attended, Viewed Recording
  • Email: Sent, Opened, Clicked
  • In Person Event (Trade show): Registered at Conference, Visited Booth, Saw Demo
  • Paid Search Ad: Clicked Ad, Filled Form

Member status values help you to easily measure the sub-funnel response rate for a marketing campaign.

Populating Members

In Marketo

The best way to add members to a Salesforce Campaign Influence through Marketo is to sync your Salesforce Campaign with a Program. When you create a Marketo Program for your campaign, be it content, events, or direct mail, click Program Actions and select Salesforce Campaign Sync. From here, you can create a new Salesforce Campaign (recommended) or sync to an existing Salesforce Campaign.

If you are selecting an existing Salesforce Campaign, match the statuses of the Salesforce Campaign and the Marketo Program.

Now, when you add members to the Marketo Program through triggers or list uploads, it is mirrored in the Salesforce Campaign.

Prerequisite: You must Enable Salesforce Campaign Sync in your Marketo instance. Have your Marketo administrator go to the Salesforce section of the Admin menu, click Edit Sync Setting, and check Enable Salesforce Campaign Sync. Now you’re good to go!

Don’t want to sync your Salesforce Campaign with Programs? You can also use the Add to SFDC Campaign or Change Status in SFDC Campaign flow steps in Smart Campaigns to add members based on triggers or list membership. It’s less elegant though.

In Pardot

Pardot cannot create Salesforce Campaigns, but after you create a campaign in Salesforce, Pardot can add prospects to those campaigns. Using automation rules, segmentation rules, completion actions, or drip and engagement programs, you can add prospects to your Salesforce Campaign. After you set up your rule, drip, or completion action, you will see the action criteria “Add to Salesforce Campaign.” You can select which marketing campaign the prospect should be added to, as well as the campaign status.

Adding a prospect to a Salesforce Campaign through Pardot won’t create a new Lead in Salesforce. You need to push prospects over through assignment to a User, Queue, or Group. If you choose not to push new prospects over right away, Pardot will store the campaign information and sync it to Salesforce when the prospect is pushed over.

Only Salesforce Campaigns marked as Active will be available in Pardot.

Attribution & Salesforce Campaigns

One of the confusing aspects of campaigns revolves around attribution. Do you give credit to the campaign that initially generated the lead? Do you give credit to the campaign the lead responded to before they became an opportunity? Or do you give credit to the campaign which influenced the lead right before the deal was won?

Another way of thinking about this is to ask yourself who gets credit for your college diploma? Is it:

  • Your kindergarten teacher?
  • Your high school teacher?
  • Or your college professor?

Assigning attribution is one of the trickiest, and most philosophically contested areas of marketing. There are four dominant models (first touch, last touch, multitouch and weighted multitouch) that are used by marketing to assign attribution which are described below.

To understand these models, let’s consider an example of a buyer’s journey:

Buyer_Journey_example

First Touch Attribution Model

In first touch attribution, all credit for a lead is given to the “first touch” taken by a lead. For example, if a lead is initially generated by filling out a form to download an eBook, that eBook gets complete credit for the sale.

First_Touch_Attribution_example

Pros: It’s very easy to implement. All that’s required is to tag a lead on their first interaction in a Salesforce Custom Field on the Lead object, and then preserve that Field as the Lead is converted into a Contact and then Opportunity.

Cons: First touch models do not account for any further interactions by the buyer. In the example above, the newsletter, trade show, and webinar get zero credit for the purchase.

When to Use It: First touch attribution is great for:

  • Businesses that have an extremely short sales cycle with typically a single interaction with the customer. For example, tracking which advertisements lead to e-commerce purchases.
  • Gauging which sources are generating or driving leads, even for businesses that have longer sales cycles.

Last Touch Attribution Model

In this example, a last touch attribution model gives all credit for the sale to the webinar.

Last_Touch_Attribution_example

Pros: This model is also relatively easy to implement. Create a Salesforce Custom Field on a Lead or Contact record which records the last interaction by a prospect. Every time a new interaction happens, this field is overwritten until the end of the buying process, so that you end up storing the last interaction before the customer made a purchase decision.

Cons: It does not account for any prior interactions. As a result, this model cannot reveal insights on whether a particular marketing campaign or marketing channels is generating leads or interest.

When to Use It: Last touch attribution is effective at evaluating the bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) campaigns and tactics influencing a purchase decision. For example, last touch attribution can reveal which sales enablement content is most effective at pushing someone over the tipping point to a purchase, which first touch attribution cannot do.

Multi-touch Attribution Model

Multi-touch attribution gives credit to all interactions and touchpoints of a buyer throughout the sales cycle. In this example, an eBook, newsletter, badge scan at a trade show, and a webinar all receive equal credit for the sale.

Multi-Touch_Attribution_Model

Pros: Multi-touch attribution models can effectively capture all interactions, thereby giving fair credit to anything that influenced a buyer.

Cons: Multi-touch attribution models add a lot of complexity. They are tricky to implement because they require Salesforce Campaign tracking to be set up. They are also harder to understand and analyze because it’s not easy to say what should get credit for a sale.

When to Use It: Multi-touch models are ideal for sales processes that extend over a period of time and have many buyer interactions. They are usually associated with a research process undertaken by a buyer. Such sales processes are known as “considered purchases” because the buyer must carefully make a decision over a period of time, rather than an impulsive decision, thereby increasing the number of touchpoints.

Weighted Multi-touch Attribution Model

Rather than giving equal credit to all interactions (à la multi-touch attribution), a marketer can assign different weights to different interactions, using many methodologies to assign weights. In the example below, the marketer has given greater credit to the first touch and last touch, and less credit to the intermediary touch points.

Weighted_Multi-Touch_Attribution_Model

Pros: Such models can capture all interactions, but also share attributes with first and last touch attribution models, because they can give greater weight to the first and last touches.

Cons: These models are extremely complex to implement. Not only do you have to implement campaign tracking, but you then have to implement a weighted algorithm on top of that—which requires custom software development or more advanced Salesforce add-ons.

It’s also not obvious what a weighting model should be. In the example above, the marketer has decided to give more weight to the first and last interaction, and less to the ones in the middle. But exactly how much weight should be given to the first and last interactions? Such a model can also be misleading, because perhaps one of the middle touchpoints—such as the meeting at the trade show—was actually the most important interaction, yet it receives less weight than the webinar.

Lastly, a weighted multi-touch attribution model results in hard to interpret numbers when it comes to reporting. These models may report that webinars result in .41 opportunities rather easy to digest whole numbers.

When to use it: This model is worth considering when you have an extended sales process, but also feel the need to capture elements of first and last touch modeling as well.

Reporting With Campaigns and Salesforce

Salesforce

Prerequisite: You will need to enable Campaign Influence. Your System Administrator will need to log a case with Salesforce Support. You can find full instructions here.

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 11.02.57 AM

Once you have Campaign Influence enabled in your Salesforce Influence, you can pull a number of interesting reports. Under the Campaigns folder in your Reports menu, you will now see the report type “Campaigns with Influence.” Campaign Influence in Salesforce tracks pipeline and revenue for multiple campaigns and ties all campaign membership of a contact associated with an opportunity to that opportunity. You can slice and dice by Campaign Type, Campaign Name, Response, Status, Time Frame, and more.

Non-Salesforce Options

Out of the box, Salesforce Campaign Influence reporting lacks the ability for more advanced attribution models. Many use other tools such as FullCircle Insights, Brightfunnel, InsightSquared and Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Engine to get a better view of campaign influence.

FullCircle_example

Remember, Salesforce Campaign Influence can only look at contacts associated with an Opportunity, so if your sales team isn’t diligent about adding people, the data can be incomplete.

Where Campaigns Fall Short

Only From Leads Onwards

Campaign Influence tracking is implemented in Salesforce, so it’s necessarily limited by Salesforce’s worldview. Salesforce was designed for sales first and foremost, so the buyer journey in Salesforce starts off when a Lead is created. Campaign tracking is very effective at measuring influence on leads and opportunities. But campaign tracking is wholly unable to ascertain the influence a marketing campaign has before a buyer becomes a lead—when they are just a “suspect.”

Buyer_journey_funnel

Why this matters: Given the easy access we now have to consumer information on the Internet, many analyst firms have said that the majority of a prospective buyer’s decision-making process—perhaps 70%—happens before they ever fill out their first form or speak to a sales person. This means Salesforce campaign tracking is only capable of tracking campaign influence after the majority of the buyer journey has already been completed.

Typically Only Gated Content

Campaign tracking requires that each member of a campaign is a lead, so when it comes to measuring content marketing, campaigns are typically only utilized for gated content, or content such as whitepapers that are behind a form. This ensures that anyone consuming content is already a lead in the CRM system, because they have already filled out a form.

salesforce campaign influence blind spot

Why this matters: Measuring only the influence of gated content misses most of the picture. The majority of what’s produced by a content marketing team is ungated, such as blog posts, social media interactions, and infographics. Similarly, the majority of content a prospect consumes is ungated as well.

Doesn’t Scale

Campaign tracking works well when implemented, but it does need to be implemented. And setting up a campaign is non-trivial. It requires creating a campaign in Salesforce, configuring its fields and response values, setting up corresponding triggers to add members to it in the marketing automation platform, and finally—testing it.

Why this matters: Because setting up a Salesforce Campaign Influence is onerous, they are only used sparingly, for select initiatives. They do not scale down to smaller marketing initiatives or smaller content items that may be produced on a more regular basis.

Siloed Data

While the performance data of a Salesforce Campaign Influence is readily available with campaign tracking, the associated campaign metadata is often stored in other adjacent systems.

Why this matters: Having campaign performance data alongside other campaign metadata enables you to perform powerful analysis on the effectiveness of various marketing techniques.

For example, combining a content marketing editorial calendar with campaign influence data on various content campaigns enables a marketer to ask and answer questions such as:

  • Which content formats work best at each stage of the funnel?
  • Which content writers produce the most opportunity pipeline?
  • For which content personas am I the most effective at generating revenue?

Similarly, the combination of an event marketing calendar and campaign influence data can answer questions such as:

  • Which salespeople should we staff at each conference?
  • On average, do conferences on the West or East Coast perform better?

Beyond Campaigns

Campaigns are obviously powerful mechanisms for measuring the ROI of many marketing activities throughout the sales and marketing funnel. But, there are many drawbacks with campaigns that preclude them from measuring the effectiveness of content marketing as a whole.

In order to accurately and comprehensively measure content marketing, we need a means that goes beyond campaigns and exhibits the following properties:

  • Captures all interactions through the funnel.
  • Captures interactions with all content—not just gated content.
  • Has little or no set-up in the CRM in Marketing Automation to begin tracking.
  • Scales to thousands of pieces of content or possible interaction points.
  • Integrates with other data siloes—CRM, MAP, Social, CMS, Editorial Calendar, Web Analytics.

Most modern marketing organizations already have all the data they need to track the effectiveness of content marketing, but the data is siloed in several systems.

Content_analytics_diagram

To comprehensively understand every content interaction for anyone at any stage in the journey, we need a data-centric content marketing platform. Such a platform brings this data together into a single data warehouse, and can then break down the content by multiple different views and attributes to provide clear insight into marketing performance.

Examples of questions that can be answered by a content marketing platform combining all this data include:

  • What is the total value of all opportunities my (ungated) infographic helped generate?
  • Which blog post drives the most Google search traffic, and ultimately results in revenue?
  • What are the most popular content topics consumed by director-level employees at a specific named account?
  • Which content interactions resulted in a closed won opportunity?
  • Which content most heavily influences the renewal opportunities of my SaaS product?
  • Which content accelerates the sales cycle the most? Which protracts it the most?
  • Across the thousands of pieces of content we’ve ever published, what’s their overall influence of revenue?

For data-oriented marketers looking to get the most out of Salesforce, you should now have the ability to effectively track the impact of a content marketing campaign, the impact of either an online and offline event marketing campaign—whether for proprietary trade shows, conferences, virtual conferences or webinars—and direct mail and sales prospecting campaigns throughout the majority of the sales funnel.

However, Salesforce Campaign Influence can’t measure ungated content, which by current consensus, accounts for roughly two thirds of a buyer’s journey online. Select content marketing platforms—such as Curata CMP—can. For a deep overview of best practices for analyzing and measuring content marketing, download The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics eBook.

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The post Salesforce Campaign Influence: How to & Best Practices appeared first on Content Marketing Forum.

8 Proven Ways to Stay Focused in A Busy Office

ThinkstockPhotos-506435716-519714-edited.jpgIt can be hard to stay focused in a busy office. There’s always something going on–meetings, conversations, or donuts to eat in the kitchen. Not to mention your coworkers coming up to you to ask about your job. The nerve people have! Fortunately, you don’t actually have to be available to your coworkers all the time. There are proven ways to keep yourself on task while keeping others away from you at the same time.

You’re not wrong if you think you might be spending a bit too much time on non work related tasks. A study found 89% of employees admit to wasting time at work, and of those, 2% waste 5 hours a day. There’s a chance there’s a guy hanging around your office getting paid to pretend to work.

Before we discuss how to keep yourself on task, you might be wondering what people are doing all day if they aren’t working. The study also uncovered that:

  • A married employee was looking at a dating web site and then denied it while it was still up on his computer screen
  • An employee was caring for her pet bird that she smuggled into work
  • An employee was shaving her legs in the women’s restroom
  • An employee was laying under boxes to scare people
  • Employees were having a wrestling match
  • A sleeping employee claimed he was praying
  • An employee was changing clothes in a cubicle
  • An employee was printing off a book from the Internet
  • An employee was warming her bare feet under the bathroom hand dryer

So, in an effort to protect you from yourself and those around you, here are some ways to stay focused.

1) Put On Headphones

Headphones tell the world, I am too busy for other people’s noise. Become visibly annoyed if anyone requests you remove them. Bonus points if you play them loudly enough that it sounds like your own personal desk concert.

2) Grow Plants

Try creating a forest around you made of various plants, or perhaps grow a hedge. You won’t be able to look out, and no one will be able to look in. Is she or he in the office today? Everyone will wonder, no one will know.

3) Practice Quiet Hours

If you can’t beat ‘em, set strict rules they must follow. Enforce quiet time for a few hours a day to give everyone the chance to listen to Jerry’s heavy breathing. No chips or crunchy snacks allowed. Be very fanatical about it so people know you’re serious.

4) Change Your Environment

Outside influences like air temperature, air quality, smells and colors can affect your focus. Take it upon yourself to make office updates. Purchase air filters, light Pine scented candles (the scent is proven to increase alertness!), and paint the walls around you a productive shade of blue.

In an effort to not cut into your work time, make your renovations at night when everyone else has gone home for the day. What a surprise when they show up in the morning! Don’t worry, your company will surely foot the bill.

5) Use Privacy Accessories

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Pick up a computer privacy hoodie. This guarantees no will try to talk to you – not now, not ever!

6) Write a To-Do List

And then throw it out the window! Clients and coworkers will ask you to complete other high priority tasks that they need RIGHT THIS MINUTE PLEASE. This is okay. The point is, for a few moments while writing out your list you will feel in charge of your life.

7) Keep Your Desk Organized

Keep your desk clean and your mind uncluttered. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clean your desk just so and to put things back where they belong. Inspect each item’s placement carefully. If they are moved the next morning, you know Susan has been messing with your things and she had better stop calling you paranoid.

8) Drink Coffee

Drinking coffee helps you concentrate and keeps you alert. Just be sure not to drink it within the first two hours of waking up, as this is when your body’s natural adrenaline keeps you awake and coffee can interrupt this cycle. Also avoid drinking it before any big meetings or on an empty stomach – you don’t want to be running to the bathroom all meeting, or coming across as a jittery or anxious. Never drink coffee after 1pm, it can keep you from falling asleep at night and cause a vicious cycle of becoming exponentially more tired with every day that passes!

If you really are looking for some ways to stay productive, Hubspot Partner Big Sea put together the tips their team of designers, developers, and marketers uses to get stuff done.

11 Examples of Facebook Ads That Actually Work (And Why)

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One average, Facebook is home to 1.18 billion daily active users — from CEOs, to students, to companies. And while the community is clearly there, connecting with them from a marketing standpoint isn’t always easy. 

For brands, posting on Facebook alone isn’t enough anymore — especially for ones just starting out. Sure, you can throw money at your efforts to drive people to your Facebook Page and send them to your website, but that only works if you’re smart about it.

One way to do just that is to create optimized Facebook Ads targeted at the right audience. Optimized ads can help you spend your PPC budget wisely and see a positive return on your investment. Download this free guide for data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook Ad.

So, what does optimized Facebook advertising actually look like? If you’re looking for some great examples, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll quickly go over the three overarching formats for Facebook Ads: right column, desktop News Feed, and mobile News Feed. Then, we’ll show you eight different types of Facebook Ads, each with real-life examples — along with some insights into why that ad is so successful.

But before we get to these examples, let’s discuss the four components of a good Facebook Ad (or any ad, really) regardless of its type …

4 Components of Successful Facebook Ads

1) It’s visual.

Visual content is not only treated more favorably in the Facebook algorithm, but it’s also more likely to be shared and remembered than written content. The lesson for Facebook marketers? No matter what type of ad you create, your image needs to be visually appealing.

Check out this blog post for a detailed guide to image sizes for various ad units on Facebook along with some tips on posting visual content.

2) It’s relevant.

Relevance is critical for success when using Facebook advertising. Remember, you are spending money when someone views or clicks on your ad (depending on the settings you use). If you’re showing ads that aren’t relevant to your target audience, you’re wasting your time and money and will likely not see success with any kind of advertising.

Back in February 2015, Facebook launched a feature in the Facebook advertising platform that rates your ads and gives you a relevance score, similar to Ad Rank in Google AdWords. The more relevant your ad image, ad copy, and destination page is to your audience, the higher your score is — and the more favorably Facebook will treat your ads.

3) It includes an enticing value proposition.

A value proposition tells the reader why they should click on your ad to learn more about your product. How is your product or service different from any other? Why should the viewer click on your ad to see your website?

Your value proposition should be believable. For example, saying you have the greatest sandwiches in the world will not make people come to your business’s Page, but maybe offering 20% off will. Or, perhaps adding social proof will help — something like, “Sandwiches loved by over one million people every year! Come try yours today and get 20% off your order with this coupon.”

4) It has a clear call-to-action.

A beautiful and relevant ad is great, but without a call-to-action (CTA), your viewer might not know what to do next. Add a CTA like “Buy now and save X%,” or “Offer ends soon” and add a sense of urgency to your viewer. Your CTA should encourage people to click on your ad now.

The 3 Primary Formats for Facebook Ads (With Examples)

Format 1: The Right Column Ad

Right Column Facebook Placement.png

Source: Facebook

This type of ad is the most traditional on Facebook, it appears on the right side of a user’s Facebook News Feed. This is the first type of advertising Facebook had, and it still exists today.

Although ads in the News Feed are likely to get higher engagement metrics due to its native advertising features, right column ads shouldn’t be forgotten. We often see less expensive clicks and conversions when using these ads. In order for a right column ad to be successful, it needs to be relevant, have a value proposition, a good visual, and have a call-to-action. Let’s look at an example below from Winc (formermly known as Club W): 


Club W FB Ad.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. The visual is clear, simple, and appealing to all types of wine-lovers.
  • It’s relevant. This came up in my wine-obssesed colleague’s News Feed. Need I say more? Two thumbs up on relevance.
  • It includes an enticing value prop. Three bottles for $19? What a steal. They also pull the viewer in with an additional value: a discount on their first order of wine.
  • It has a strong call-to-action. The word “get” is strong call-to-action language, and it’s used twice here. A time limit on this offer would have made it even stronger.

Format 2: The Desktop News Feed Ad

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Source: Facebook

This type of ad appears directly in a user’s News Feed when they access Facebook on a desktop computer, and it looks more like native advertising. In our experience, these ads have a higher engagement rate than right column ads, but they can also be more expensive. These ads must follow organic Facebook posts best practices and be both engaging and visual.

This is how an ad from Amazon looks in the News Feed on a desktop:

amazon newsfeed litter box.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. Not only is this image larger than the right column ad display, but it also uses warm colors, white space, and directional lines which drew my eye towards the featured product.
  • It’s relevant. As a cat mom, this offer is clearly tailored to my consumer needs. 
  • It includes an enticing value prop. Amazon has advertised a self-cleaning litter box here, which is of tremendous value for any cat owner. Additionally, it shared the strong customer ratings below an image of the product. (Social proof, anyone?)
  • It has a clear call-to-action. Amazon instructs me to click on its ad today, after which point the deal for the litter box will presumably disappear. “Now” is strong CTA language that compels clicks.

Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad

Mobile Facebook Ad Placement.png

Source: Facebook

Like the desktop News Feed ad, this type of ad appears in the user’s mobile News Feed and displays like an organic posts from people and Pages that they follow. 

This is what a mobile News Feed ad for The New York Times looks like:

NYT mobile ad.jpg

Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. The quirky cartoon drew my eye as I scrolled on my mobile News Feed through lots of text and photography. The nontraditional illustration pulled me in for a closer look at the content.
  • It’s relevant. I’m a person in my 20s, and I used to write about health care. This is an article I would definitely be interested in reading, and it helps that the ad appears like a native post promoting an article in my New Feed.
  • It includes an enticing value prop. The ad shows me which of my Facebook friends also like, and presumably read, The New York Times. This social proof makes me more likely to click and read the article.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. This ad is dedicated to increasing the page’s Likes, and by asking a question in the ad, the call-to-action makes me want to click the article to learn more.

Now that we’ve covered the three main ad formats, let’s dig into a sampling of the wide variety of post types you can use.

8 Types of Facebook Advertising & Some of the Best Facebook Ad Examples

1) The Facebook Video Ad

Video ads appear fairly large in the user’s New Feed and offer more engaging content than static posts. And with 8 billion videos being watched on Facebook every day, it serves as an interesting — and potentially profitable — ad type for marketers to try out. 

Need some inspiration? Check out this example from Key Jewlers below:

kayjewelersfinalgif.gif

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. Even though this is a video, I have a general idea of what I will be watching, thanks to the screen capture it started with. Additionally, I can understand the gist of this ad without playing with the sound on, which is important given that 85% of videos on Facebook are now viewed without sound.
  • It’s relevant. It’s relevant to me because I was recently scouring jewelry websites, specifically for necklaces like the one in the ad.
  • It’s valuable. Kay shows potential customers the value of purchasing with the help of the happy reaction from the woman receiving the gift in the ad. Plus, who doesn’t love dogs?
  • It has a solid call-to-action. This ad is set up to drive Page Likes, which is an easy, one-click way for me to get more relevant content served up to me.

How can you create your own video ad? First, understand Facebook video ad requirements including length and video size. We suggest keeping your video as short as possible, even though Facebook allows you to upload a much larger video. Create a video that displays your product or service, and upload directly to the Facebook ads manager by following these instructions

2) The Photo Ad

Another type of rich media advertising on Facebook is a post of an image. This is one of the most popular types of ads ever since Facebook began favoring visual content. The optimal size for News Feed photo ads is 1200×628 pixels, otherwise your image will get cropped. Adjust your image based on the target audience’s needs and by what will appeal to them the most.

Here’s an example of a photo ad from NatureBox:

naturebox-1

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The image shows you exactly what you’re getting, and it calls out the “free sample” CTA well.
  • It’s relevant. Everyone likes to snack. In all seriousness, the person who saw this is a fan of several lifestyle subscription companies, which is what NatureBox is. 
  • It’s valuable. This ad is full of value. First, the “free trial” callout is the first thing your eyes go to when looking at the image. Second, it clearly mentions the healthy aspects of the goodies in its product.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. Nature Box is asking you to try its free sample. It couldn’t be easier to know your next step.

3) The Multi-Product Ad

Multi-product ads allow advertisers to showcase multiple products within one ad. Viewers can scroll through the images and click on individual links to each product. You can promote multiple of anything, not just products — like different blog posts, ebooks, or webinars. These ads can be created in the Facebook Power Editor.

Here’s an example of a multi-product ad from Shutterfly, along with the additional images that are used in the ad. Each image has a different offer, to appeal to many different demographics in one ad.

shutterfly

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. This series of images leands on a consistent color pallette, making it feel both cohesive and on brand. (Having a cute cat doesn’t hurt either.)
  • It’s relevant. The person who saw this loves taking photos and creating sentimental gifts. Spot on, right?
  • It’s valuable. There is a very clear value for the user, 40% off each of the products being advertised. The code and sale end date are also clear in the ad description. This ad also has an added level of value, it is showing the many different ways people can use Shutterfly, in ways many may not be aware of.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. I know I need to use this before February 17th when this deal expires, so I would be encouraged to take action right away.  

4) The Local Ad

Local ads on Facebook only work if your business has a physical location that you are trying to drive real foot traffic to. If you fall into this category, then locally targeted Facebook ads may be a great fit for you, as you can hyper-target on Facebook down to the mile.

If your business has an offer or event going on at your store, set up a few Facebook ads that appear only to people within a short distance of your store. Have these ads appear a few days prior to the event and on mobile devices while the event is happening. You may want to reach some people the day of the event who happen to be in the area and checking their Facebook account on their smartphones.

Take this ad for example from Mizzou Campus Dining:

ScreenShot2015-03-29at2.12.59PM

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. This image has college pride, a variety of salty and sweet treats, and a well-known logo to attract hungry college students. 
  • It’s relevant. This ad is likely only being shown to students on campus who are in its target audience. It also mentions the sports game that was going on at the time, and plays to the student’s current needs: snacks and Subway sandwiches.
  • It’s valuable. Mizzou Market is telling hungry college students that it has everything students need for the big game. 
  • It has a clear call-to-action. This ad has the option to show directions, making it extremely easy for a college student on the go to follow the walking directions to this market.

5) The Offer Ad

An offer ad is a newer form of Facebook advertising where a business can promote a discount on a product or service that can be redeemed on Facebook. The benefit of this? It eliminates one step in the buyer’s journey, which ultimately increases sales.

The offer ad has many benefits. First, it drives the user directly to the offer. The user claims it directly on Facebook, removing any added friction of needing to to go to your website for the offer. You also can reach any type of audience that you want, as all the Facebook targeting options are possible.

Finally, you can include all the information needed for the user to decide if they want it or not, including the time period it is usable, the number of people who has already claimed it, and the exact amount the offer is. This will eliminate any unqualified clicks, which cost you money.

Here’s an example of an offer ad Boston Sports Club:

BSCad.jpg

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The featured photo uses bold colors and clear typography to draw my attention to the details of the offer, and the woman exercising gives me an idea of what I could gain from purchasing the offer.
  • It’s relevant. I recently moved to Boston and have been searching for gyms in my area online, so this ad is highly relevant to my recent Facebook and search activity.
  • It’s valuable. Paying $5 for a monthly gym membership is a great deal. Even though the price may increase in the future, the low price definitely makes me want to click.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA emphasizes that the discount offer is limited and should be claimed quickly using the word “hurry” and telling me when the offer expires.

6) The Event Ad

Event ads promote a specific event. The CTA on these ads usually send users directly to the ticket purchase page, wherever that happens to be hosted.

Using this type of ad will help drive a targeted group of people to attend your event. These will show up in the News Feed of the specific audience you’ve chosen. Events are a big part of most businesses, but getting people to attend even a small event, can be tricky. Promoting your event to a targeted specific audience on Facebook can help drive the right kind of attendees.

A good ad in this format will clearly show the benefit of attending the event: The price, dates, and a clear CTA to purchase a ticket. The events ad below for the Tortuga Music Festival displays the date and time and the bands playing:

event facebook ad

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The picture alone is worth a thousand words about how much fun this concert would be. Not only is it on the beach, it was also taken on a gorgeous day and the stage looks amazing. Also, it clearly represents what to expect during the event, and it catches the eye as someone scrolls through their News Feed. (The beautiful ocean water definitely helps.)
  • It’s relevant. The person who saw this ad is a fan of Kenny Chesney and has been to his concerts before. They’re also originally from Florida, which is where this event takes place. 
  • It’s valuable. Since the image was taken on a beautiful day, it looks like an ideal place to be — especially to those of us viewing it from our office desks. It also clearly tells you the cost of the ticket so you know before you click. (This is also good for the advertiser: By including the price, the ad allows users to self-select based on whether they can afford the ticket. If they can’t afford it, they won’t click through, thus saving the advertiser money on unqualified clicks.)
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA is clear: “Buy.” The advertisers also add urgent wording with the title “Time is running out!”, encouraging you to purchase your ticket now before it’s too late.

7) The Retargeting Ad

A retargeting ad promotes an ad to a specific list of previously identified people. Have you ever seen ads follow you across the internet after visiting a certain website? Then you’ve seen a retargeting ad. 

Facebook has the same capability. An advertiser can advertise to a list of leads or customers by uploading a list of email addresses it already has into the Power Editor to make a custom audience. A good retargeting ad acknowledges that the brand knows you’re already interested in its product. (Because, let’s face it … retargeting can be a little creepy.)

Last week, I started shopping around for a bridesmaid dress for an upcoming wedding. Today, this ad appeared in my News Feed:

Adrianna Papell wedding dress ad.png

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The image gives me a good idea of what to expect from the designer’s website, and it definitely helps that the gowns are both unique and stunning. Talk about a showstopper. 
  • It’s relevant. The ad called out that I was already shopping for bridesmaid dresses, and what’s more, I had previously looked at dresses on this exact website, so this ad is highly relevant to my search.
  • It’s valuable. The variety of dresses in the ad’s image and in the description make this website worth a visit for someone trying to find the perfect gown out of thousands of options.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA is “Shop Now,” which encourages me to click to purchase the beautiful dresses in the ad’s image.

8) The Boosted Post

A boosted post is an organic Facebook post that was originally on the homepage of a company’s Facebook, and that later was boosted with advertising money.

This is different from the above ads because it’s not created in the Facebook Ads Manager. You can include more in the description, as there is no limit to word count on boosted posts like there is in ads. You can also have a link in the copy.

The cons? Boosted posts leave you fewer options for bidding, targeting, and pricing. You also cannot run any types of A/B tests because you’re promoting a post that’s already been creating, not creating one from scratch.

Here’s an example of a boosted post from Bustle, who promoted one of its articles on Facebook:

bustle learn more ad.png

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. Lots of people are familiar with the Amazon Prime logo, but not in neon lights in a window display. It made me do a double-take while scrolling through Facebook.
  • It’s relevant. As we’ve already learned from earlier examples, I like shopping on Amazon and also read Bustle, so this article is a combination of those two behaviors.
  • It’s valuable. “Brilliant” is a strong adjective to describe products, which makes me curious to learn more about purchasing them.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The ad entices me with information about useful and “brilliant” gadgets I can get delivered to my door within two days, which I’m happy to click to learn more about.

Getting Started

There you have it: A list of all the different types of Facebook posts and a few examples of awesome ones from all different brands. The Facebook Ads Manager platform will walk you through how to set these up with simple, step-by-step instructions — so don’t feel overwhelmed.

Note for HubSpot customers: You can now integrate Facebook Ads reporting into the HubSpot Ads App to make reporting and analyzing your advertising ROI easier. You’ll be able to easily see which Facebook Ads generate leads and increase your ROI without having to analyze the data yourself. You can also use this integration to edit Facebook Ads from directly within your HubSpot portal. Customers can sign up to test this integration here.

Now, stop reading and start creating.

Want to see how HubSpot uses Facebook? Like our Facebook Page here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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The Top Questions to Ask & Avoid During a Phone Interview [Infographic]

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Did you know that the average job seeker spends only 76 seconds reviewing a job posting online before they decide to apply?

While this may be enough time for the candidate to determine if the role is in their area of expertise and meets their salary requirements, it probably isn’t enough for them to evaluate if they’re the best fit for the role.

If you’re an interviewer, this is where the phone interview can come in handy. Instead of taking time to coordinate an in-person interview, a phone interview requires only a few minutes of your time and can quickly and easily determine if the candidate is qualified for the role.

Hireology produced the following infographic to review questions you should — and shouldn’t — ask in a phone interview to decide if a candidate should move forward in the recruiting process. Check it out below to sharpen your phone interview skills.

PHONE-INTERVIEW-1.png

What questions do you always make sure to ask during a phone interview? Share with us in the comments below.

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Virtual Reality vs Traditional Video: 7 Differences You Need to Know

ThinkstockPhotos-545792146-517239-edited.jpgVirtual reality is the hot new video marketing tool disrupting business plans and budgets across the planet. Audiences are loving it and want more: a 2015 study found that 81% of consumers would tell their friends about their VR experience, and that 79% would seek out additional experiences. The demand is so huge Deloitte predicts that by 2020 the global market may be worth around $30 billion.

Because of this growing demand everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and offering VR production as part of their services. I get it – as an integrated marketing agency with an in-house video production department, becoming a virtual reality agency was a natural next step for us, so we sent the team on training, hired in specialists and acquired the kit we needed.  

We’ve learned loads on our long VR journey; it truly is a different beast to 2D and takes some serious skills to tame. We’ve outlined 7 important differences to help you prepare for your own VR adventure – consider them carefully, they could save you buckets in tears and pennies.

1) You need specialist equipment

VR production requires some specialist equipment that can seem incredibly intimidating, not to mention expensive. At the very least you will need a 360 camera rig and editing station (with an i5 processor or above), as well as a PC and headset to review the footage. 

In terms of camera gear, there is a range of options to suit different levels of budget and ambition. The Samsung Gear 360 is one great option at entry level that consists of two cameras with a 180-degree view. It’s priced at around US $460.

If only the best will do, consider the 8K, waterproof, six-camera GoPro Omni. It captures everything – and its resolution is almost faultless with minimal stretching. The price for this fancy rig is around US $4600.

If you want movement in your video, you need to budget for extra gear like drones and dollies. 

Now that you’ve got your camera gear sorted you need to think about your editing equipment. At TopLine Comms, we recently bought a beast of an editing machine to deal with the sheer amount of high-res footage that each camera rig produces. This machine can process footage with resolutions ranging from 720p to 8K and is completely customized for VR production.

2) Avoid the danger zone

VR film sets have their very own ‘danger zone’ – usually a radius of 1.5 meters from the camera rig. Anything filmed in this zone will come out weird and blurry so your production team will need to keep it clear of any people or objects that could distort the shot.

Stitch lines can have a monstrous effect on your VR content so make sure you’re working with a crew who pays attention to where they are and keeps focal points as far away from them as possible.

But remember, even if the danger zone is kept clear, the different angles of footage will still have to be stitched together using specific software like Kolor Autopano Video Pro and Kolor Giga.

While some VR equipment – like the Samsung Gear 360 on the Galaxy s7 smartphone – have an automatic onboard stitching function, there are some drawbacks you have to bear in mind: the footage you get will have a lower resolution and the processing time will take longer.

If you want higher quality footage – Samsung Gear 360 can still do it, but then you have to use a computer and specialist stitching software. Ultimately, you need to decide what will work best for you and your budget.

3) Think about people on set

We know that when you commission your first VR project, you will probably want to be on-location. With normal video production, this is fine. With VR video production, it’s not fine. Remember, these cameras are filming 360-degree content which means everything will be in the shot. Even if you stand behind a tree and don’t breathe, you’ll get picked up.

This means that if you insist on being on set, the director will likely ask you to get in character, put on a costume and blend in. No joke. Crew on the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, had to do it.

So if dressing up is your thing, by all means attend the shoot. If not, you can’t be on set. Sorry.

4) Give the voice over direction

Scripting voiceover for content that can literally go in any direction is tricky. Unlike 2D, your audience can look anywhere at any moment. So, if the VO is talking about something happening on the right, best the script directs them to look right. Rather than record the VO before filming, work with your production agency to do it afterwards.

You also have to keep in mind that most cameras focus on visuals at the expense of audio quality. To fix this you can hire special recorders for 360-degree sound, like Core Sound’s TetraMic and Brahma Tetrahedron, for example. This will, of course, be an additional expense.

5) Be patient with the edit

Post-production is where the true magic happens but be prepared for it to take time – much more time than editing 2D footage. Merging stitch lines will take at least a week, more if your production has used multiple cameras.

The edit begins by uploading the footage into specialist software, like Kolor Autopano Video Pro and Kolor Giga. The content is sync’d and then the angles are stitched together.

Once the videos have been stitched together, your editing team will often have to fix the horizon. During the stitching process the software will automatically merge the different angles to reduce the appearance of seams. However, sometimes this results in an image that is off centre or off axis. This can only be corrected by manipulating the video.

What’s more, all objects directly above or below the camera (like tripods) will have to be ‘disappeared’ using skilful editing techniques such as superimposing a reference photo over it. Or, the editor can opt for the cruder method and stick a relevant graphic over it.

We once attached one of our 360 camera rigs to the front of a skateboard, but the clamp holding the camera up was visible in the footage. To edit this out we had to manually lay another image of a skateboard over the actual skateboard in the shot.

All of this makes VR editing a much lengthier process than traditional video editing.

6) Prepare to pay more

VR is relatively expensive to produce. It costs more than 2D but not as much as a Spielberg blockbuster (unless you’re referencing one of his epic films from the last century). Truth is, it doesn’t pay to cut corners – ultra-low-cost equipment and crews often result in ultra-low quality.

To put the costs in perspective it helps to look at the requirements in terms of time, people involved and post-production process. For a 2D filmed video you will usually need a producer or director, a camera operator and a sound recordist. Then the post-production process will involve and offline edit, motion graphics and colour grading. All of this will take about 5 weeks could cost between US$6 500 and US$10 000.

With a 360-degree video, however, you’ll need more crew members, including a producer or director, a camera operator, a digital imaging technician a sound recordist and a runner. As mentioned above the post-production process is also more extensive with VR. It will typically include stitching, offline editing, plating, motion graphics and colour grade. This pushes the project timescale to around 7 weeks with costs ranging from US$ 9 000 to US$13 000. 

But remember, VR projects don’t all cost the same – productions with bigger kit, multiple days of filming and some basic graphics could be around US$13 000 to US$20 000. A high end VR experience with lots of animation could be upward of US$130 000.

With VR it’s worth investing in an agency that won’t mess up the postproduction process, and that will be able to advise you on the best shots for your video. You might think that it’s a good idea to have a camera on the floor while people zip past on bikes. While this sounds dynamic in theory, the shot’s perspective will place your viewer on the floor too – which might not be the most comfortable experience. A good VR video agency will point these things out to you, so you can make better, more informed decisions.

That said, your VR project also should not eat your entire marketing budget – what good is cool new content if you can’t afford to take it to market?

7) Make it audience friendly

Almost everyone wants to watch VR content but not everyone has the required headsets. If you’re producing an experience to showcase at an event or in the office then no problem, you’ll have the relevant equipment on-hand.

If you’re assuming that your viewer has an Oculus Rift at home, your amazing VR experience will fall flat. The best you can do is make sure that your audiences can immerse themselves in your VR content through as many platforms as possible: from Google Cardboard to YouTube to Sulon Q.

When producing content that has to be viewed with a headset, give some thought to motion sickness and make sure your viewers won’t feel too nauseous (remember Nintendo’s first attempt at VR that had people literally throwing up?). Relatively static shots are best as they allow viewers to move their heads freely and enjoy their immersive experience without unpleasant side-effects.

If you’re still not sure if VR is right for you, consider what you want to use the video for. Will an engaging, immersive video experience get the job done better than a traditional video? If the answer is yes, then you should consider VR. However, you also have to keep your budget and project timeline into account. While VR videos create a great experience they do take longer and are more expensive to make.

If you analyze your prospective project according to the 7 characteristics of VR videos listed above, you should get a good idea of whether what you want to achieve can be done through VR and whether you have the budget to make it work. The great thing is, should you decide to attempt VR you don’t have to go at it alone. You don’t have to be a VR expert if you work with an agency that is able to advise you on everything from shooting location to sound effects.

If virtual insanity is getting you down and you need some expert guidance, download our Marketer’s Guide to Virtual Reality.

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How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

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Imagine you own a business that films and produces yoga routines for at-home practice. As search engine results pages become more crowded, your chances of ranking for a popular industry keyword — such as “yoga” — begin to diminish.

But as it turns out, that’s not the end of the world. These days people are actually conducting more specific, conversational queries — think: “how do I teach myself yoga?” — to get the information they’re looking for, faster.

Unsurprisingly, Google responded to this change in behavior by introducing RankBrain — a machine-learning artificial intelligence system — as well as Hummingbird — a search algorithm designed to focus on the meaning behind the search terms being used.

The result? An increased number of long-tail keyword variations that are regularly searched within a topic. Jackpot. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

But with more topic opportunities on the table, how can you be sure that you’re going after the right ones? To help you avoid wasting time on topics and keyword plays that won’t generate a meaningful return for your business, we’ve put together a simple process for validating your ideas before you start writing. Check it out below. 

How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

1) Get to know your audience really well.

Ideally, you’re already conducting market research and thinking about your audience before you start writing a piece of content. But in case you’re not, or you need to refresh your memory, here are a few questions you should be asking when you’re brainstorming blog content ideas:

  • Who searches for information on this topic? What are their ages, job roles, and demographic traits?
  • What emotions do you want to evoke? What are their goals?
  • What do you want viewers to do with your blog posts once they read it?

When you have a clearer idea of the demographic and psychographic traits of your ideal audience, you can then use this information to substantiate your list of ideas. Chuck the ideas that don’t fit their mold, and keep the ones that do — it’s that simple.

2) Create a topic cluster based on your persona research.

Once you know who you’re writing for, figure out what questions they need answers to. To start, think about providing solutions to challenges your audience is facing.

For example, in the yoga example above, your audience’s problems might include: not having enough time to go to the gym, a lack of nearby gyms, an inability to afford a gym membership, or high levels of stress.

From there, marketers should ask questions to determine the specific angle of their content. What’s the best way to deliver this information — a blog post, an infographic, or a video? What content has already been published about the topic, and what angle can I pursue to differentiate mine?

One of the best ways to organize your thoughts and finding here is through a topic cluster a new way to strategize blog content geared toward how search has evolved.

Continuing with the yoga example, you’d want to create a topic cluster centered around “yoga” as the main topic. Then, you’d come up with subtopics that are related to yoga but based on long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for in search. These could include “at-home workouts,” “exercises for stress relief,” “yoga for beginners,” and “online yoga classes.”

Here’s an example cluster that HubSpot’s Head of Growth & SEO Matt Barby created. Notice that while the core content topic is “workout routines,” the cluster content — referred to as pillar content — spans a wider variety of related topics.

workout routines topic cluster-1.png

By clustering ideas around one core topic that is relevant to your audience, it become easier to generate content that you know will resonate.

“This is a very simplistic overview but can work as a light framework for prioritizing content ideation and production,” explains Barby in an article detailing the full process. “The role of the pillar content is to cover the core topic broadly and also perform well at converting visitors into leads (or whatever your conversion goal is). The cluster content that is built for each of the subtopics will focus on gaining greater topic visibility and funneling traffic through to the pillar content in order for them to convert.”

3) Use tools to gut check your topics.

Once you have topics in mind for blog posts, do some testing: Just because you think the topic is interesting and good for search engine optimization doesn’t always mean it will resonate with your audience.

Here on the HubSpot Blogging team, we propose blog topics and titles alongside a reason why we think they will perform well. Here are some of the tools we use to determine if an angle is worth writing up:

  • TitleTester: As the name of the tool suggests, TitleTester allows you to plug different title options into its tool to analyze which has the highest clickthrough rate. Use this tool to test different angles on a topic to see which generates the most interest.
  • Twitter Polls: Ask your followers to vote for topics they’re most interested in reading more about using Twitter Polls. Use that data to guide your topic choosing before starting to write.
  • Twitter Chats: Figure out which Twitter Chat most closely aligns with the topics you’re writing about, click on the hashtag, and see what types of questions people are asking about. That will give you an idea of a content gap that your blog post could fill with resources for your audience.
  • BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo analyzes how many times a URL has been shared via social media or linked to by another domain. Do some quick competitor analysis by dropping in links to content on the topic you’re writing about to see how different angles have performed in the past.
  • Blog Comments: Does your blog have commenting enabled? If not, it should, because feedback from your subscribers is the exact answer to the questions you’re asking — what content is my audience interested in? Take positive and constructive feedback from readers to inform your strategy.

Once you’ve aggregated responses to different tests and questions you’ve asked your audience, choose a topic and title with the greatest level of engagement and response, and start writing your blog post.

Quality > Quantity

The biggest takeaway for marketers is to emphasize blog post quality and relevance over quantity. Instead of writing multiple blog posts without a review of the strategy behind them, it will be difficult to rank in search and achieve lead generation goals.

For HubSpot customers, HubSpot Content Strategy will help guide you through the process of creating a topic cluster. Based on data from the HubSpot Keywords App, Content Strategy and the Blog Topic Generator will recommend topics that you should create content around, and advise against topics that will be hard to rank for or are unrelated to your central topic. It’s coming soon to the HubSpot software, and users can sign up for early access now.

How do you decide which topics to write blog posts about? Share with us in the comments below.

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Keyboard vs. Pen: What’s the Best Way to Take Notes?

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Growing up, I was fascinated by my mom’s shorthand notes. The cryptic symbols she’d write blindly while listening through our 1980s-era phone with a 12-foot cord were a different language — vestiges of a different time. 

“You’ll never need to learn shorthand because you’ll type all your notes,” she explained.

And as it turns out, she was right. These days, many of us have traded in our mechanical pencils and fancy notebooks in favor of laptops to ensure that our every word is perfectly spelled and neatly tucked away in “the cloud.”

It wasn’t until I attended a Bold Talk at INBOUND 2014 about note-taking that I put much thought into the difference between writing and typing notes. In his session — “The Pencil and the Keyboard: How The Way You Write Changes the Way You Think” — New York Times Magazine writer Clive Thompson explained why handwriting is better for taking notes and remembering big-picture thinking, while typing is better for composing your ideas and communicating with others.

Ever since I attended that session, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was he right? Were we doing this all wrong? To get some answers, I dug into some research on handwritten notes versus typed notes. 

Keyboard vs. Pen: What’s the Best Way to Take Notes?

TL;DR: As it turns out, understanding how your mind captures, retains, and recalls information can help you become more productive. Writing notes by hand in long-form will force you to synthesize the information, which helps you remember and recall it. So next time you head to a meeting, consider just a notepad and pen.

When we take notes by hand, we typically can’t keep pace with the information being presented to us. As a result, our brains are forced to quickly synthesize the information into two categories: “important: write this down” and “not important: don’t write this down.”

That simple neurological process is valuable to us, as it begins to stamp those important notes in our memory. In other words, when we’re forced to mentally prioritize information, it becomes a little bit stickier in our mind.

In his Bold Talk, Thompson described a series of experiments conducted by researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer that demonstrated the benefits of handwritten notes:

A couple of scientists decided to test this. They set up an auditorium of people. Half of them took notes on keyboard and half of them took notes handwriting while someone spoke. They wanted to figure out who would remember the most, who would retain the most. They tested them afterwards. It turns out that handwriting won, hands down, pun intended. Handwriting completely won out. People understood more, they retained more, they remembered more when they wrote by hand.”

There are times when typing is optimal, however. Thompson goes on to explain that typing is better suited for communicating information to other people. (Think: Handwriting is for input, while typing is for output.)

Fast-typing, referred to as transcription fluency in this context, correlates to better writing skills because there is less interruption between your thoughts and the composition. Stephen Graham, a scholar of literacy, described this phenomenon as follows:

You can think of the ideas in your head as rushing along and you’re trying to transcribe them onto the page. The faster you can do that when you’re in the act of writing, the less likely it is that words and ideas will escape and get away from you.”

7 Handy Tips for Taking Better Notes:

At the end of the day — with all research aside — the most productive way to take notes will ultimately boil down to what works best for you. But whether you’re typing away or jotting things down by hand, we put together some handy tips and tricks to keep in mind that’ll help you stayed organized. 

  1. Know the purpose of your notes. Do you just need to remember a few key things to follow up on from a meeting? Or are you preparing for an exam that will test you on the details? Knowing your purpose will help you craft the right amount of detail.
  2. Use a lined notebook and *try* to use good penmanship. The extra time you put into your handwriting will save you time later when you’re searching through your notes.
  3. Underline, embolden, italicize, and highlight. Introduce some textual hierarchy into your notes so that you can decipher them more easily later on. Need help mastering italic handwriting? Check out this self-instructional course.
  4. Get the big ideas down on paper. Trying to keep up with a fast-talker? Try just recording any numbers and facts that you know you won’t be able to recall. As soon as you get the chance (as in directly after the lecture) fill out your notes with everything you can remember while it’s still fresh in your mind.
  5. Try a tablet and stylus. Want the memory benefits of handwriting, with the collaborative benefits of digital? A tablet and stylus — like Apple’s iPad Pro and Apple Pencil — can help you speed up the note-taking process.
  6. Learn the ins and outs of bullet journaling. According to the website, bullet journaling is best described as a “customizable and forgiving organization system.” You can learn more about this approach (and other helpful strategies) here.
  7. For meeting notes, record the initials of the person who made the noteworthy comment. This makes it easier for you to follow up with them. Date, time, who’s in attendance, meeting topic, and project are all housekeeping items that add context to your notes for a future — possibly more forgetful — version of yourself.

Ready to Improve Your Skills?

If note-taking is not your strong suit, consider it a skill worth developing that will have compounding effects on your productivity throughout your career. Remember: Typing is best for getting your thoughts on [digital] paper, with as little interference between idea and text as possible. And for content creators, learning how to type quickly will allow you to get your point across with less edits later on.

Want to work on developing your content skills even further? Check out HubSpot Academy’s first-ever Content Marketing Certification here.

Pre-register for HubSpot Academy's all-new Content Marketing Certification Course

How Your Agency Can Prevent Data Overload and Build a Streamlined Reporting Approach

Love it or hate it, data is essential to any agency professional’s existence.

And where there’s data, there’s reporting. Marketers can’t and (shouldn’t) avoid reporting, so they have to increasingly become proficient with it.

As clients have become more knowledgeable and demanding about reporting, their analysis and insights expectations have become higher. This adds additional stress to agency teams trying to manage more data, more frequently, and from more media sources. Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

Data analysis can often seem like a painful burden, and marketers today are either avoiding it, or going crazy trying to make sense of the data overload by purchasing reporting tools to solve their problem.

This leads us to wonder how the Marketing Marys and Analytics Annies of the agency world are solving their own marketing data reporting problems. With the sheer number of data sets to analyze, decipher and review, the life of marketing reporting analyst is becoming ever more complex.

So how are agencies approaching this data problem? Let’s take a look at a day in the (reporting) life of Marketing Mary and Analytics Annie, each responsible for client reporting at their respective agencies.

The Story of Two Marketers

It’s the first day of the month and Marketing Mary is starting the “Data Death March:” the painful task of manually gathering media channel data for month-end client reporting. This can take days — sometimes weeks of effort — only to spit out a basic report recapping what happened last month that the client will hopefully read.

For Analytics Annie, the first day of the month is no different than any other day. She opens a client report (automatically refreshed with current media results), begins to analyze performance and develops timely, insightful recommendations to share with her client.

Annie’s reports aren’t just a spreadsheet of numbers — they are factual bits of information organized in an easy-to-read report that shows not only the state of the union — but what and how to improve their marketing efforts.

Data First, Then Reporting

So what’s the difference between Marketing Mary and Analytics Annie? Many might say Analytics Annie has a fancy data visualization tool to make her reporting automated. And they may be right — or she could actually just be looking at a report in Excel.

The real reason Analytics Annie is able to spend her time on impactful analysis for her clients has nothing to do with her reporting tool of choice. It’s because she solved her underlying media data collection problem by way of automation.

Mary, at some point, likely succumbed to using a data visualization tool for her reporting that promised all the bells and whistles. It looked good, seemed simple to use, and was going to take all the pain away to allow her agency to make reporting for all her clients effortless.

But the tool wasn’t even collecting the necessary data to begin with. The challenge Mary was facing wasn’t a tool problem, it was a data problem. Without having the underlying data in a usable format to begin with, she was still manually gathering and preparing her media data, leaving no time for analysis.

She put too much faith in the tool to solve her reporting problems that in the end, all she had was prettier dashboards, but not better or faster ones.

Because Annie knew that she had to solve her data collection problem first, it made finding the right reporting tool much easier to justify and use, freeing up her time for analysis.

A Single Source of Truth

Solving the underlying media and marketing data aggregation problem is both simple and complex. The simple part? You need one single location (like a data warehouse or a marketing data management platform) to store all of your media data together.

The hard part? Automating the data collection into the warehouse, building relationships between the disparate data sources, cleaning up jacked campaign tracking parameters and maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the data.

A few agencies with large teams dedicated full-time to managing the agency’s data platform can do it in house using a data warehouse, like Amazon Redshift. If you do it yourself, you need to input the data in an automated fashion. Typically this will happens in two ways:

  1. Build APIs into the source systems.
  2. Create an ETL process to upload source files.

APIs are usually preferred, but not all source systems have APIs. Often times, they simply aren’t very good. In other cases, some data (like TV buys) lives in files instead of in a system.

Most agencies, however, run very lean and instead rely on external marketing data management platforms. These platforms already have all the API and ETL connections in place so that agencies are able to authenticate their media sources and get access to their consolidated data very quickly.

Move from Reporting to Analysis

Regardless of the solution, the Marketing Marys of the world can reduce their reporting prep time by up to 90% once they fix their data collection problem.

A marketer’s time shouldn’t be spent collecting the information, or even reporting on it. It should be spent using that information to optimize their marketing efforts and increase gains (achieving goals).

That’s why Analytics Annies are the stars of the marketing world. They have the time to dive into the meaning of the data, develop insightful recommendations and do actual analysis, not just build reports. Analytics Annies are so successful in their role because they:

  • Automatically update their reporting nightly.
  • Optimize budgets across all channels with clear attribution modeling.
  • Consolidate their offline and online media performance to a single chart.
  • Roll up all their agency-wide metrics into a single holistic view.

Using History to Drive Planning

When you fix your agency’s approach to data and integrate all media channel data for all clients in one single location, the agency’s ability to drive data-driven media planning and forecasting exponentially increases.

For Mary, client media planning revolves around crawling through monthly presentations, tracking down historical spreadsheets from different team members, and pulling an all-nighter in a conference room with bad takeout food to piece together some sort of educated plan for the client — only to know that this exercise is the first of many to come.

For Annie however, simply accessing her single source of truth to analyze all media performance over a number of years, visualize media mix patterns and changes, and aligning these patterns to spend and performance, happens dynamically within a few minutes.

Not only does this approach yield real data-driven planning grounded in accurate data, Annie is spared the heartburn and fatigue from the all-nighter and greasy takeout food.

Building a Winning Data Approach

In this scenario, Marketing Mary represents what most agencies are struggling with today. In fact, I think it is safe to say that most agencies have historically treated analytics as a means to justify their strategies and tactics. This lack of focus has created thousands of exhausted Marketing Marys everywhere in the agency industry.

To fix the marketing data problem, agencies need a data engine and a solid analytics strategy. The steps below are a good place to start:

  1. Pick a “good” client that utilizes the majority, if not all, of the data systems used to support their media strategy.
  2. Gather the account and media teams that support this client around a whiteboard.
  3. Build a measurement strategy. The teams should work together to review/develop the key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to demonstrate value for this client.
  4. Build a data strategy. Identify all of the data systems that contain the key data metrics needed to support the measurement strategy and make a list for each system.
  5. Build a reporting strategy. In a single page dashboard, mock-up a report design of what the elements would be to demonstrate the value of the campaign.
  6. Launch a data engine. Implement a process to bring all of this data together into a single source to enable the use of any reporting/data visualization tool to make these strategies come to life.

While I have used this recipe for success for the past ten years, success ultimately begins with a change in thinking and a desire to have your agency operate like Analytics Annie. Without this desire and commitment, the agency simply won’t be successful in analytics long-term.

client-intake-download

How to Write an Introduction: A Simplified Guide

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Blink. Blink. Blink. It’s the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience that all writers — amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced — know and dread. And of all times for it to occur, it seems to plague us the most when trying to write an introduction.

I mean, you already have a blog post you want to write. Can’t you just dive in and write it? Why all the pomp and circumstance with this dag-blasted introduction?

Here’s the thing — intros don’t have to be long. In fact, we prefer them to be quite quick. They also don’t have to be so difficult, but they do have to exist. They prepare the reader and provide context for the content he or she is about to read. Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

Let’s break down exactly how to write an introduction that’s short, effective, and relatively painless. And if you’re ever having trouble churning out those intros, come back here and re-read this formula to lift yourself out of that writing rut.

How to Write a Good Introduction: 3 Components to Consider

As a lover of all things meta, I will, of course, use this post’s introduction as an example of how to write an intro. But it contains different components that create an introduction “formula” — you can refer to that when you get stuck with your own.

1) Grab the reader’s attention.

There are a few ways to hook your reader from the start. You can be empathetic (“Don’t you hate it when…?”), or tell a story, so the reader immediately feels some emotional resonance with the piece. You could tell a joke (“Ha! This is fun. Let’s read more of this.”). You could shock the reader with a crazy fact or stat (“Whoa. That’s crazy. I must know more!”).

For this intro, I went the “empathetic” route.

Intro for intros

Writer’s block stinks. Blank screens and taunting cursors — the worst. Who’s with me?

2) Present the reason for the post’s existence.

Your post needs to have a purpose. The purpose of this post is to address a specific problem — the pain in the butt that is writing intros. But, we have to do it, and therein lies the approach to something important: making writing introductions easier.

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Just because you know the purpose of your post, doesn’t mean the reader does — not yet, anyway. It’s your job to validate your post’s importance, and give your audience a reason to keep reading.

3) Explain how the post will help address the problem.

Now that the reader is presented with a problem that he or she can relate to — and obviously wants a solution — it’s time to let the audience know what the post will provide, and quickly.

In other words, the introduction should set expectations. Take this post, for example. I don’t want the reader to dive in and expect to see a list of reasons why introductions are important. I want you to expect to read about what makes a good introduction. But if I hadn’t clarified that in the introduction, you might have expected the former. After all, be honest — did you skim over or forget the title of this post already? That’s okay. That’s why we tell the reader exactly what the post will provide, and why it’s valuable.

Explain How the Post Will Help Address the Problem.png

The underlined sentenced is a way of saying, “Keep reading.” We already established that there’s a problem — here’s how I’m going to make it easy for you to solve.

Of course, there are other valid ways to write introductions for your marketing content — don’t feel the need to follow this formula for every single piece of content, as some are more casual than others. But, this guide should help provide a solid framework to follow if you’re just getting started, or if it’s just one of those days when the words aren’t flowing.

But what are some examples of great introductions in the wild? We thought you might ask — which is why we picked out some of our favorites.

5 Introduction Paragraph Examples to Inspire You

1) “Confessions of a Google Spammer,” by Jeff Deutsch

Google Spammer Intro

There are a few reasons why we love this introduction. Immediately, it grabs our attention — how the heck did this guy make fifty grand every month? And just from 10 hours a week?

But unlike some spammy comments that might contain a similar sentiment, he almost immediately serves us something unexpected — he tells us not to do that.

Then, he states the true purpose of the blog — to explain why we should “never, never ever follow in [his] footsteps.” In just three sentences, this introduction has captivated us and validated the story’s existence with a looming life lesson. The takeaway? Keep it short, but powerful.

2) “Announcing the public preview of Azure Advisor,” by Shankar Sivadasan

Azure Advisor Intro

Here’s a great example of an introduction that presents a problem and a solution to it. Sure, it’s easy to build apps on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform — but maybe you had some issues with its setup. Well, wouldn’t you know? Azure Advisor is here to address those challenges, and you can preview it for free.

But wait — there’s more. The introduction not only immediately presents a problem and a solution, but it concisely summarizes just how this product provides a fix. And, it explains why the text will be helpful, with the sentence, “In this blog post, we will do a quick tour of Azure Advisor and discuss how it can help optimize your Azure resources.”

That’s a best practice for brands that have made a mistake — even a small one. Technology is great, but it can come with bugs. That’s where an intro like this one can be so helpful. It acknowledges the problem, states what the brand has done to address it, and alerts the reader to continue to learn how that solution will work.

3) “Taste the Season at Sushi Sora,” by Chris Dwyer

Sushi Sora intro

Strong introductions aren’t just important for blogs — they’re essentially to quality editorial pieces, too. That’s why we love this introduction to an article from Destination MO, the Mandarin Oriental’s official online magazine.

Remember that thing we said about a captivating start? In addition to being empathetic or funny, visuals can be huge — not just an actual picture or video, but words that actually help the reader envision what you’re describing. This introduction does just that, with expressive phrases like, “the magical silhouette of Mount Fuji on the horizon.” Well, yeah. That does sound magical. But where can I go for such a view? None other than the “Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo,” the author tells me, especially “from the sushi counter at Sushi Sora.”

Here’s the thing about this intro — it gives the reader something to aspire to. We’ve briefly discussed aspirational marketing before, but this instance is one where it can be used in a brief introduction. After reading this first paragraph, I want to go to Tokyo. And when I’m there, I want to stay at the Mandarin Oriental. Then, I want to take in the views from its high-end sushi restaurant.

With just two sentences, I’ve gone from reading an article with my morning coffee, to fantasizing about a thousand-dollar vacation. So whenever possible, use your introduction to paint a picture, and to help your reader dream.

4) “The Secret Club of Admitting You Suck,” by Janessa Lantz

admitting you suck intro

Let’s read through this introduction from ReadThink together.

I know. I know! I once moved very far away to escape my own failure, too! But I couldn’t admit at the time that I sucked, either! Wow. Janessa Lantz really gets me.

See that? That, right there, is a resounding example of how empathy makes a profound introduction. But how did the story end? Did they buy the house? Did she admit that she sucked? Does she still suck? (Spoiler alert: I work with Janessa and can say, with great confidence, that she is far from sucking.)

The point is, I wanted to keep reading for two reasons — first, I related to the author. Second, it was just plain interesting, and it left me with a cliffhanger. It’s okay to tease your readers. Just make sure you ultimately give them what they’re seeking.

5) “Be a responsible tourist: a PSA from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” by Out of the Blue

responsible tourist intro

I’ll admit it — I’m a sucker for a good travel blog, which is why JetBlue’s official blog appeals to me. But at the same time, I also geek out for almost anything that promotes sustainability. In this piece, those worlds collide.

What makes this introduction work? Honestly, it’s scary. “Decline” and “extinction” are strong words, and absolutely present a problem. But research shows that we’re actually more inclined to keep reading bad news — in fact, a few years ago, our media consumption habits suggested that we prefer it.

But it’s not all bad — and JetBlue quickly turns around a potentially devastating situation with the language of this introduction. And, it includes the reader, by inviting travelers to be part of the solution, but joining the brand in its promotion of responsible tourism.

That’s another formula for presenting bad news to your audience, especially if you’re not the one causing it and you have a solution. Scary information + how you’re helping + how the reader can do his or her part = compelling intro.

Let’s Start

Feeling inspired? Good. Next time you find yourself face-to-face with the dreaded blinking cursor, use these resources and compelling examples to find motivation.

How do you write a good intro, and what are some of your favorite examples? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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How to Turn a Bad Day Around [Infographic]

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“I had a bad day.”

How often do you find yourself saying that? Once? Twice? Several times throughout the day?

If it’s more than once each week, you’ve got company — 29% of people say that they have at least two bad days at work every week

Well, shoot. That’s not good. I mean, I can understand having a “bad day” after you’ve spilled coffee all over your new jeans, or got a wicked papercut. But that same study says that these bad days go beyond little accidents — they’re caused by factors like negative co-workers, a lack of recognition, or generally poor work-life balance.

This stuff has got to stop.

But what is a person to do? It turns out, it’s possible to turn around a bad day — and, some might say, kind of easy with the right kind of approach. And luckily, the folks at Headway Capital put together this nifty infographic that shows you all the ways to do just that. So go ahead — turn that frown upside down. Today doesn’t have to be bad.

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