15 Email Newsletter Examples We Love Getting in Our Inboxes

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When people first start doing email marketing, they often assume they need an email newsletter.

“It’ll have everything our customers care about, all in one place,” they rationalize. “Our list will be different — people will actually look forward to getting our newsletter,” they argue. “Since we’re only sending it once a month, it’ll be a breeze to put together,” they say.

And while all of those things may become true for a few lucky individuals, lots of email newsletters flop. They become an uninteresting mush of content people automatically ignore, archive, delete, or straight up unsubscribe from. And this isn’t great for you, your metrics, or your company’s success. Download our free guide to creating email newsletters people actually read  here. 

So if you’re thinking about creating an email newsletter, read this blog post and think really hard about whether that’s the right move for you in terms of your marketing strategy.

If you’ve decided that you want to start an email newsletter, or you want to revamp one that’s not performing well, keep on reading. We’ve compiled some of our absolute favorite email newsletters to inspire you to make the best email newsletter for your company possible.

Each newsletter on this list is fabulous for different reasons. Some have exceptional design, some have exceptional copy, some have exceptional calls-to-action … but all are exceptional at solving for their subscribers’ needs. Check ’em out.

15 Email Newsletter Samples to Inspire Your Own E-Newsletter Design Ideas

1) NextDraft

NextDraft is a daily email written by a man named Dave Pell, which is a curation of the best web content of the day. As Pell describes it, “Each morning I visit about fifty news sites and from that swirling nightmare of information quicksand, I pluck the top ten most fascinating items of the day, which I deliver with a fast, pithy wit that will make your computer device vibrate with delight.”

You can tell he’s a great writer. His copywriting is one of my favorite things about the newsletter. It starts with the subject line, which is usually a play on words or a clever one-liner on the top news of the day. It then extends to the body of the email itself, which is always descriptive, accurate, and clever. Finally, the minimalist design is fantastic.

Not only is content delivery is clear, organized, and digestible, but also the inclusion of social share buttons underneath each story is brilliant. Rather than assuming that the reader is going to make it to a social sharing option at the bottom of the newsletter, Pell provides them with multiple opportunities throughout. Social engagement can play a big role in growing your newsletter, as every share on social opens up a valuable opportunity to attract more subscribers. 

For those who’d rather read news like this in a mobile app, the NextDraft app is free in Apple’s app store.

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

2) Austin Kleon

Not to play favorites, but this newsletter from Austin Kleon is one I really look forward to. First, I love the simplicity. It’s not flashy, nor is it overly promotional. That’s the hallmark of a successful email newsletter: The most effective newsletters aim to educate, not sell. 

I also love the overall informal tone he takes, as it makes it feel as though you’re hearing from a friend. If you’re looking to lower the barrier between your company and your audience, consider using language that is friendly and inviting, not buttoned-up and jargony. 

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

3) InVision

InVision’s newsletter is a weekly digest of their best blog content, a roundup of their favorite design links from the week, and a new opportunity to win a free t-shirt.

Not only is their newsletter a great mix of content, but I also love the nice balance between images and text, making it easy to read and mobile-friendly. They make great use of animated GIFs in their emails (which you can see when viewing the whole email here). I also love the clever copy on their call-to-action buttons:

  • “Cat GIFs on Every Page”
  • “Set Your Sights”
  • “Why So Serious?”

In addition to classic CTA buttons, they engage their audience at the bottom of every newsletter with a “You tell us!” text CTA.

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

4) Community.is

Community.is is a handcrafted newsletter created for people who “put people at the center of their work.” This unique concept attracts a variety of readers from executives at ad agencies, to community managers at startups, to marketers and creatives of all shapes and sizes. 

In an effort to cater to their melting pot of subscribers, Community.is adopted a three-tier format: Short, Mid, and Long. While an executive may only have time to skim the short stuff, a marketer might be looking for a more in-depth read to spark some inspiration for their next campaign. Organizing a newsletter in this way helps ensure that you’re serving the distinct needs of your audience without it being too confusing. 

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

5) Vox Sentences

Vox Sentences is a nightly email meant to quickly get its readers up to speed on the best stories from the day. The content ranges from the day’s top news to fun stories from all over the web. They do a great job balancing their own content with external sources, and the stories they choose are always really high quality.

You can read Vox’s entire newsletter from start to finish and get a great sense of the stories they’re covering — but you can also click through to any of the linked stories to get a more in-depth approach. 

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6) Fizzle

Fizzle’s newsletter is aimed at entrepreneurs who want weekly tips on building a business sent directly to their inbox. Although they have a business blog and a podcast, what makes Fizzle’s newsletter unique is that the email content is independent from those other content assets. In other words, it’s written entirely for their subscribers.

The copywriting style makes the newsletter unique and appealing, too: It’s casual, honest, and written like the author is writing to a friend. The writing gives off the vibe of real, down-to-earth business advice — without the fluffy stuff. At the same time, it’s written with clear headers and sub-headers to break it up, and the important stuff is bolded, making for easy skimming.

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7) TheSkimm

If you want to stay up on what’s happening in the world and have some delightful writing delivered to your inbox first thing in the morning, look no further than TheSkimm. It’s a daily roundup of what’s happened in the news in short, punch paragraphs.

The best part? You don’t have to click out of the email to read the news if you don’t want to — although they do link to their sources if you want to read further. And when it comes to more complex news topics (think: Brexit or the Cannes Film Festival), they’ll cover the most recent updates but link to their Skimm Guides, located on their website. These guides provide context for larger topics, and are written in the same style as the emails.

For your own email marketing, TheSkimm is the place to go if you’re looking for writing inspiration or for emails without much visual content. 

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

8) Medium

Medium is a blog-publishing platform that has been continuously building momentum since its launch in 2012. Publishing on the site has really picked up in the past few years, and nowadays, there are a ton of people publishing posts on the site every day.

Of course, that means there’s a lot of content for the average person to filter through. To help bring great content to the surface, Medium uses email newsletters. And after I open this newsletter every day, I end up going to visit several Medium posts without fail. (Mission accomplished for Medium, right?)

Here’s why: The newsletter feels pretty minimal. Because of the way that Medium uses colors and section dividers, they’re able to give you a ton of content in one email without it feeling overwhelming. Plus, they offer both a daily and a weekly version of the digest, allowing users to opt in for the email frequency they feel most comfortable with.

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9) BrainPickings

BrainPickings is one of the most interesting newsletters out there. In fact, the folks who write it call it an “interestingness digest.” Every Sunday morning, subscribers get the past week’s most unmissable articles about creativity, psychology, art, science, design, and philosophy — topics that are really appealing to a wide audience. At its core, it explores what it means to live a good life.

This is one of the longest newsletters I’ve ever read, but what makes it still work well is how high quality and well packaged the content is.

(Bonus: Check out the delightful microcopy in the top right-hand corner.)

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

10) Litmus

You’d hope that an email marketing testing company would have great emails … and Litmus definitely does. While the content of the emails is certainly interesting, I’m especially digging the design. The blocks of color help break up the newsletter into sections that are easy to differentiate.

I also like that the text calls-to-action at the end of each post’s description don’t just say something generic, like “Read this post.” Instead, they are matched with specific actions related to the post’s content, like “Get the checklist” and “Discover why you should test.”

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

11) General Assembly

There are a lot of creative things you can do with images in your emails, from designing your own custom graphics to creating animated GIFs. General Assembly, an organization that helps expand professionals’ skill sets, likes to employ tactics like these in their newsletter.

From their attractive and minimal layout to their concise copy and helpful information, this is a great example of a newsletter that gives subscribers quick information in an easily scannable format.

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

12) This.

This. (yes, the full stop is part of the brand name) is another great newsletter for finding — and sharing — the best and most entertaining content on the web. What makes their newsletter unique is that it isn’t just content curated by one person or one team; it’s content curated by a community of people on the internet.

Members are allowed to share one, single link every day — presumably the best content they find the entire day. The result? “We’ve built something we hope will connect you to the best the web has to offer — all its weirdness and beauty and diversity and ambition,” reads the website.

The newsletter consists of the editor’s picks from all the amazing content their community members have shared. Subscribers also have the option of signing up for a custom newsletter, which includes the editor’s picks and a custom feed from curators they can pick and choose. That’s some pretty cool personalization.

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13) SaaS Weekly

This is the ultimate SaaS newsletter, from a guy that kind of knows a thing or two about SaaS. (Hiten Shah is the co-founder of and ). 

While his approach is simple, this roundup is packed with value and organized in a way that makes it easy to discover content around your specific interests. Shah does this by breaking the list of curated posts into different sections — Business, Product, Marketing Growth, Tip of the Week, etc. — which makes it easily scannable.

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

14) The Ringer

Remember Grantland, the sports and pop culture blog owned by ESPN that was started by sports journalist Bill Simmons? In October 2015, ESPN announced it would be ending the publication of Grantland. Shortly thereafter, Simmons formed Bill Simmon Media Group and recruited a whole bunch of former Grantland staffers to launch a brand new newsletter in March 2016 called The Ringer.

Although The Ringer is written and run by many former Grantland employees it’s a different project than Grantland was. Where Grantland focused on sports and pop culture, The Ringer branches out into other areas like tech and politics. Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, is among the contributors. I like how focused they are on experimentation: “We want to have fun, take chances, analyze, theorize, obsess, and try not to take ourselves too seriously,” said Editor-in-Chief Sean Fennessey.

Another differentiator? The Ringer’s website was developed in partnership with publishing platform Medium — which means the newsletter reflects that clean, minimal design.

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

15) Hacker Newsletter

Many marketers don’t frequent Hacker News, but they should still check out this hand-picked curation of the social network’s top stories of the day.

Why? The newsletter is clean and minimal, but still sends a ton of really great content its subscribers’ way. The way it distills potentially overwhelming information is by bucketing content into sections. The newsletter also looks very similar to the site, so for those who love the site and how it’s laid out, the newsletter feels like a comforting, familiar way to consume content.

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[Click here to see the entire email.]

Even though newsletters are one of the most common types of emails to send, they are actually some of the hardest to do right. We hope these examples gave you some quality inspiration so you can create newsletters your subscribers love to get in their inboxes.

Which email newsletters do you love? Share your favorite ones with us in the comments so we can keep the inspiration going.

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

free guide to creating email newsletters

Article first found on lkolowich@hubspot.com (Lindsay Kolowich)

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How Real Brands Are Retaining Customers: 8 Strategies From Starbucks, Amazon & More

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What’s better than acquiring a new customer?

If your first thought was “retaining a current customer” then your strategic thinking is in the right place. While there’s a certain allure that comes with capturing new customers, keeping customers coming back will continually result in a greater ROI.

How do you create a customer retention strategy that keeps your current customers engaged?

Below, I’ve detailed eight retention strategies that the biggest brands are currently using to inspire loyalty. From leveraging convenience to prioritizing personalization, these are elements any marketer and business owner can take and test today.

8 Examples of Customer Retention Strategies in Action

1) TOMS: Begin with a mission.

Sometimes a brand inspires loyalty not through tactics and systems, but through what they stand for.

If you’ve ever watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk “Start with Why,” you probably already know a thing or two about the importance of having a mission, or “reason why.”

TOMS has built their entire business model around making the world a better place. As Fast Company contributor Jessica Weiss put it:

TOMS669 has integrated old-fashioned, for-profit entrepreneurship with new-wave, bleeding-heart philanthropy.”

The way they do this is in their “One for One” policy. For every pair of shoes that are purchased, they give a pair to people in need, thus far donating over 60 million pairs of new shoes.

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As consumers, we’re focused on the altruistic and environmental effects that our buying habits have beyond consumption. Doing good is becoming more and more important to us.

This doesn’t mean you should build your marketing around an altruistic message just to do it. The lesson is in finding something that people care about and positioning your brand around it.

2) Starbucks: Empower customers with convenience.

The coffee goliath has always been innovative with their marketing, especially in the customer acquisition department.

In the early days, Starbucks founders Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin, and Gordon Bowker focused on the sounds and the smells inside their shops in order to provide a delightful customer experience.

But to grow, they had to get innovative. One of their most innovative customer retention moves is their Mobile Order & Pay feature within their app. Thanks to the new feature, customers can order their coffee before they even arrive at the shop.

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Image Credit: AskMen

What’d their customers think about the addition? In short: They loved it.

669″Just this morning I parked at my kid’s school, placed my order in the parking lot, took him inside, then walked over to the Starbucks and picked up my drink. Mobile Order & Pay can cut 10 minutes out of my morning routine. I told my boss that it’s the reason I’m actually on time for work now,” explained busy mom Danielle Lesikar.

The simplest takeaway here is this: make your products and services as accessible as possible. Identify the desires and behaviors of your customers and create tools and systems that empower them. Whether that be an app or other traditional methods, it’s up to you.

3) Tesco: Add a personal touch.

This supermarket giant has a strong presence in the UK, with over 2,000 stores nationwide.

For huge brands like these, coming across as authentic and human can be a challenge. Online grocery shopping and self-service scanners are convenient, but people still like dealing with other people.

Customer service is still necessary, and the folks at Tesco have chosen to use Twitter as a way of executing this with a human touch. They show they care by adding personality to their interactions with customers. Check out this recent interaction:

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To get started with an approach like this, identify your audience personas and communicate with them on their preferred channels. It doesn’t matter if it’s email or Snapchat, as long as it’s where their attention is.

From here you should encourage your customers to speak directly with you through that channel. Make it part of your messaging and remind them during and after the buying experience.

And always add personality to every message. Nobody likes a robot, so make sure whatever you’re communicating sounds like it’s coming from a human.

4) R&G Technologies: Speak to your customers.

We’ve taken a look at several B2C examples, but what about the B2B world? R&G Technologies is an Australian IT support firm that has developed strong, long-term relationships with their clients.

They solidify these relationships with rapid response times and strict SLAs. They get back to their clients quickly, and their employees have been bought in on this by tying these KPIs to how much they earn.

However, the biggest lesson is in their customer satisfaction surveys. They give their clients an opportunity to express what they’re doing right and, more importantly, what they’re getting wrong. This allows them to identify unhappy customers before they churn.

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Image Credit: Client Heartbeat

R&G focuses heavily on asking the right questions in order to gain insights they can execute on. They use this information to make better business decisions and retain customers.

Most importantly, these discussions identify the challenges of R&G’s audience. This can help inform both your overall marketing as well as your retention strategy. Don’t underestimate the power of one-to-one conversations with your clients (especially if you’re running a digital business).

5) MeUndies: Use gamification and referral programs.

Touted as the most comfortable pair of underwear in the world, MeUndies drives great retention through two elements. The first, which we’ve already covered, is in their “reason why.”

The folks at MeUndies were tired of the struggle that comes with finding a great, comfortable pair of underwear. To back this up, they’ve fostered a strong culture and are very transparent with the process. They have an entire page dedicated to their factory (it’s beautiful by the way).

Although this makes for great retention, our focus is on their clever referral program. Customers are encouraged from the moment they purchase to refer a friend, and the rewards are worth it: For every friend you refer you get $20 and they get 20% off their first purchase.

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There’s a gamification element that shows how far through the buying experience your friend is, too, including a “nudge” button. If a friend adds a product to the cart but hasn’t completed checkout, you can use this to send an email reminder about it. In other words, MeUndies has found a way to use their current customers to reduce cart abandonement, while providing social proof in the process.

When done well, referral systems can be really effective for retention. The key is to focus on strong incentives and gamification to get people invested. Most importantly, don’t forget to empower and encourage your customers to become advocates for your brand in the process.

6) Apple: Create a divide between you and your competitors.

Want your customers to see you as the obvious choice over your competitors? Make note of Apple’s strategy, demonstrated by their 669“Mac vs. PC” ad campaign.

The campaign starred John Hodgman as the inept PC and Justin Long as the cool, collected Mac. The two would quip humorously over what made the Mac a better choice than a PC in a really entertaining manner.

The “Mac vs. PC” campaign was a very tongue-in-cheek — and it generated a lot of dispute. Not only that, but it divided the market and set Apple apart from their competitors by identifying the kind of consumers who should buy Apple products.

Sticking true to who you are as a brand shows integrity and makes it easier to attract customers that just might become your strongest brand advocates.

Can you find a cause to fight for (or against)? If your brand is more friendly than this, you can still put some fire behind your story and create a rally affect. Don’t be afraid to be a little bold in your marketing to get the best results from this approach.

7) Amazon Prime: Use subscriptions to bolster the experience.

It’s unusual for a commodity-based organization to implement a subscription service into their business model.

Which is exactly what Amazon created in the form of Prime. The subscription was originally created to bring customers faster delivery. It generated a lot of controversy, but quickly became popular with regular shoppers on the platform.

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Since its launch they’ve added other benefits, such as access to Amazon’s Instant Video platform. It’s a move that seems costly, but is actually a strategic play. It’s estimated that Amazon loses $1-2 billion in revenue every year, however that’s easily made up for by the increase in purchases.

How can you use subscriptions to achieve growth goals and increase customer retention?

You don’t need to charge a fee for your subscription model in order to gain customer loyalty. Providing benefits in the form of exclusive content and events is another way to leverage this approach without spending a ton.

If you’re going to take a page directly from Amazon’s playbook, then make sure you’re offering something people want. This goes back to customer development and understanding your audience’s desires and challenges.

8) Coca-Cola: Use experiences to elicit positive feelings.

Experiential marketing has long been used as a way for brands to create positive sentiments with their customers.

Coca-Cola had a 70-day campaign around the 2012 Olympics, and part of this was their “Coca-Cola Beat Generator” app. This experience brought together music, sports and the Coca-Cola brand.

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Image Credit: Figment Productions

They showcased it during their roadshow around the Olympics, using samples and sounds from the games themselves. Users could then take the MP3 recording with them and share it via social media. The results? 16,500 visits to the web version and 1.78 million Facebook impressions.

Even though Coca-Cola produces beverages, they figured out a way to tap into the positive hype around an event by providing delightful customer experiences that reached beyond point of sale.

Look for ways to create positive feelings in the form of new experiences outside of your main products, services, and value propositions.

Which of these customer retention strategies could you implement? Are there other examples we’ve missed? Share with us in the comments.

how to use customer loyalty programs

Article first found on Jenny Beightol

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Why Content Marketing Volume is Increasing but Engagement Isn’t (and What You Can Do About It)

Content Marketing VolumeWhen content marketing first arrived on the marketing scene, it was novel, innovative and pushed the norms of traditional marketing. The idea of inbound marketing seemed outrageous. Letting the customers come to us? Marketers with years of practice in cold calls and direct mail questioned if generating content and letting their audiences find it would even work.

With refinement and thoughtful strategy, inbound marketing generated more leads, conversions and increased brand reach. This, of course, was aided by the advancement of technology and the increase in the number of platforms for communicating with customers. With the huge increase in content marketing volume, it was much easier for customers to find new companies on their own terms.

This explosion of success drove all types of businesses to start creating content to inform customers, engage prospects and contribute to the overall industry conversation. The growth in popularity caused a huge surge in the amount of content flooding the Web. Brands started believing that the medium of delivering content was smart because now customers could consume it at such fast rates, allowing them to take in even more information than previously possible.

Why More Channels Doesn’t Equal More Engagement

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As content marketing volume continued to rise, engagement rates stagnated. More options did not mean people would consume more. A recent TrackMaven study found that the amount of content produced last year rose 34%, but engagement decreased 17%. In their words, this engagement crisis is similar to the television offering phenomenon.

The number of channels the average viewer chooses from has dramatically increased over the years, but the amount they actually watch remains the same. This trend proves that people are only willing to consume as much content as they can handle and nothing more, even with more options available.

The amount of content marketing is not going to decrease any time soon, so brands hoping to become one of their customers’ chosen outlets for information need to have a strong strategy for their content, messaging and customer journey.

The better companies understand their customers’ needs, the better they can target content appropriately. There are a few ways to reach customers most effectively, but using the tactic of personalization is particularly successful.

Using Personalization for Good

Personalization is nearly ubiquitous within marketing, with 94% agreeing it is important and 85% of brands using at least the most basic form. The challenge is using it in a way that customers feel comfortable with and aggregating real-time results for instant application.

A survey of marketers using personalization found that 40% can’t gain insight quickly enough, 39% don’t have enough data and 38% worry about inaccurate data. Despite these challenges, marketers overcome the obstacles to implement real acumen into their content. The ones who do find they have on average a 19% lift in sales.

When customers feel the content they are consuming is both relevant and informative, they return for more. One sure-fire way to create relevant and informative content to your specific customers is to learn what else they consume, what they respond to and what they look for in their content.

It also helps to identify each touchpoint of the buyer’s journey that can be tailored with specific information you’ve collected. For example, if your customers enjoy commenting on LinkedIn posts and sharing articles on Facebook, you can retarget them in these places based on what they are already interested in.

Start with consistent trends among your audience to avoid the challenge of keeping up with changing preferences. Once you have a handle on foundational personalization, you can adapt to the most current reality of your customers’ habits.

Control for Change

Personalization is knowing more than where your customers spend time and what topics they are likely to click on. It’s also being aware of what is related to their interests, so you can recommend additional content and lead them down the funnel. The most important aspect at any point of the content journey and the use of personalization is giving customers some amount of control.

While 60% of customers are aware personalization plays a role in the online content they consume, 29% prefer to have little control and 41% prefer to have a great deal of control over how brands use this tactic. The levels of control you can offer include privacy controls, voluntary information forms with options of what a customer can give you and choosing their own content journey. This requires you to tailor your content to different demographics if you are trying to reach a broad audience.

Control doesn’t sacrifice personalization for your purposes, but simply puts the power in your customers’ hands, which can be beneficial to you. Trustworthiness and an established relationship emerge from giving customers control, leading you to have a transparent personalization process for more effective results.

Content Types for Success

Before gracing the industry with your content or producing more ineffective blogs and social, you should determine the types of content worth generating and what is likely to promote engagement.

You want to avoid the dry, lifeless content that so many companies are guilty of throwing online. The following content formats should help stop the decreasing engagement rate right in its tracks:

  • Short and sweet. Bounce rates are the kiss of death in online marketing. Most people only read about 50% of an online article before leaving the page. But if you limit your blog posts to half the length of a typical blog, you’ll see an increase in lingering visitors and potential conversions.
  • Questions and answers. On social media, if you are asking questions that are probably going through your customers’ minds, make sure to give them an answer. Lead them to your site to discover an in-depth answer to any question, no matter how small.
  • Community forums. People love to share their own opinions more than anything. It’s why companies with community forums see so much success in engagement. Cultivating and monitoring the community is also a great place for content inspiration.
  • Anything with visuals or interactive elements is instantly going to grab your prospects. Use them thoughtfully and creatively to make a splash with your innovative content.

Infusing these formats with the insights gained from personalization creates a real connection between your brand and customers.

To escape the engagement crisis that is resulting from the surge in content marketing volume,  you can collect information from your customers with their control and apply it to content better suited for interaction. This tactic is no task larger than adjusting your sails in the winds of change.

Then you will be prepared to navigate the marketing space with intelligence, wisdom and ingenuity.

Inbound Marketing Case Study

Article first found on Valerie Levin

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Why We ‘Overspent’ on Our Website (And You Should, Too)

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As you plan a new website — or updates to an existing one — you may wish the sky was the limit. Unfortunately, we are all faced with the same monetary Catch-22. There is a limit to what can be spent, even if there is no limit on what can be done.

As you contemplate the development of your website, you’ll have to ask the familiar question, “How much should we spend?”

The answer to that timeless question is never easy. There are always trade-offs, as we discovered at my firm, Hinge, when redesigning our website not too long ago.

We could have gone with an off-the-shelf system, but we knew that every change down the road would require more assistance from a developer. So we made the very deliberate decision to invest in optimizing our site from the start. We developed a modular system of templates that allow significant flexibility without the need for constant help from our web developers. We also took advantage of filtering and content categorization tools to dynamically link different data sets (lists of authors, topics, etc.) in a variety of places on the site.

But perhaps the most important investment was integrating our website with our customer relationship management (CRM) platform — as well as a host of other online platforms. This integration ensures we get the most out of every online interaction and allows us to maximize the relationship with prospects and qualified leads.

Some may think we overspent, but when you look at the rationale and return, it makes perfect business sense.

The Reason for a Redesign

There are many reasons to redesign a website. The aesthetics may be dated. It may not have the most recent mobile-friendly, responsive design features. It may lack a few must-have features, like a blog, landing pages with lead generation offers, or integration with your CRM or marketing automation software. And your content may no longer reflect changes in your services.

Newer technology may also make it much easier to maintain your site and keep the design looking fresh. Most importantly, there are always opportunities to improve your site’s user experience.

But the real reason for a redesign is ROI.

A company website — even in the professional services — can attract a significant amount of new business. In our case, more than 80% of our new business comes through our website.

If you consider your website investment in this light, it is easy to see the fault in our earlier question, “How much should we spend?” The question you really should be asking is, “How much can we productively spend?”

What do we mean by “productively”? Well, if you earn $10 for every $1 you invest, you will want to invest as much as you possibly can. What you need to know is when does the incremental investment no longer generate a positive return. Be bold, but plan carefully.

Making a Poor Impression

It takes courage to invest heavily in your website. So it is not surprising that most B2B companies are drawn to a seemingly more conservative approach: Reduce the risk by spending less.

Great, you saved a few thousand dollars. But what have you lost? According to Hinge’s recent Referral Marketing Study, more than 50% of people who are referred to a B2B services firm will rule out that provider because their website reflected poorly on them. Cheap websites almost always make poor impressions.

How many new clients do you need to lose before the savings start to feel like a liability?

Planning Your Budget

Most firms have only a vague notion of what a new website should cost. They tend to think only about the direct expenses. They overlook the value of research and message development, for example. How can you find the right balance?

The best place to start is to calculate your minimal low-cost scenario. In other words, what is the least you could spend and “get by.” You can easily spend 3-5 times that amount before you run any danger of over-investing. In our own case, we spent 10 times that minimum and in retrospect, not a penny was wasted.

As with any professional service, you’ll get better results when you work with a firm that knows what it is doing. That means reaching out to a firm that has the web design, user experience, project management, online strategy, SEO, social media, and lead nurturing chops to turn your investment into high quality leads and new revenues. This kind of expertise may cost a bit more up front, but you’ll see the investment in a sophisticated new website can make real dollars and sense.

Smaller Budgets Don’t Minimize Risk

Many firms believe that minimizing the budget reduces risk. It’s understandable to want to minimize cost — but it’s a trap. You are favoring short-term spending over long-term returns. And that’s rarely a good strategy.

If you stop to consider what a competent marketing website should be able to deliver over the long term — a steady flow of high-quality leads — you’ll understand that it doesn’t take many new clients to pay for your entire investment.

Article first found on lfrederiksen@hingemarketing.com (Lee Frederiksen)

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15 Hidden Snapchat Hacks & Features You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner

hidden-snapchat-features.jpg

Snapchat, the one-to-one group messaging app with more than 150 million daily active users, has earned a reputation for fast growth and innovation.

But despite its success, it isn’t the most user-friendly app I’ve ever played around with. Many of its best features are so buried within the app that a lot of people don’t even know they exist. In March 2016, Snapchat added even more features in their release of a new version, and some of these features have totally reshaped how people use the app in the first place.

For example, did you know that you can use Snapchat to make a live video call? Or that you can add emojis to your Snapchat videos — and make it so they move and scale with objects in your videos? What about the trick where you can save data by turning the app on to “travel mode”?

There are a whole lot of cool things you can do with Snapchat that you may not have known about. But before we jump into them, it’s important that you know the basics. For more on how to use Snapchat — as well as a look at how HubSpot uses the platform — check out this post

Already have the basics down? Read on for some more advanced tips and features.

Note: Before getting started, make sure you’re operating on the latest version of Snapchat. At the time of posting, the latest version is 9.33.0.0.

15 Hidden Snapchat Hacks & Features

1) Use Snapchat for voice and video calls.

One of the biggest changes Snapchat made during its most recent update in March 2016 was the addition of a voice and video chat feature. There are two ways you can use voice and video chats: By sending 10-second recordings (of your voice or a video of you), or by “calling” them to start a live voice or video chat lasting any amount of time.

The voice and video call functionality is located within Snapchat’s chat feature, so you’ll need to open up a chat conversation with someone to begin. If you’ve updated your Snapchat app, you’ll see the phone icon and a video icon below the chat box.

snapchat-live-voice-video-call-1.png

To leave a 10-second voice or video message, hold down on the voice or video call icon and it will begin recording immediately. When you release the button by picking your finger up from the screen, the recording will stop and send immediately with no do-overs. In other words, make sure you’re ready to record and send the voice or video message before you begin.

To start a live voice or video call, just tap the voice or video call icon and it’ll begin ringing the other person immediately. If they don’t answer within a few seconds, you’ll see a pop-up notification asking you if you’d like to send a voice or video message instead. These voice and video messages are identical to the 10-second voice and video messages described above.

Here’s a GIF showing what it looks like to live video call another user:

 snapchat-video-call-example.gif

Note: Voice and video chat will only work if both you and the person you’re trying to call have updated their app to the most recent version.

Also, remember that there’s no verification once you tap or hold down on one of the icons — it’ll start ringing or recording right away. (I learned this the hard way when I tapped the video icon accidentally.) Otherwise, it’s a very intuitive and easy-to-use functionality.

2) Turn on two filters at once.

Can’t choose between filters? You don’t have to. To add a second filter to a photo, all you have to do is hold the screen with one finger and swipe left or right with another to find your second filter. (To add that first filter, just swipe your finger left or right over your photo to rotate among them until you settle on one.)

3) Add, resize, and rotate emojis and stickers to your photos.

If you’re looking to dress up your Snapchats outside of the text box, you can add an emoji (or five) and place them anywhere you want on your photo or video.

In addition to the emojis you’re probably familiar with, Snapchat added 200 new stickers in May 2016 that are similar to the stickers that are so popular in other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. These new stickers are super cute — everything from cacti to snarky kittens to walruses celebrating Hump Day.

snapchat-stickers-1.png snapchat-stickers-2.png

To access the emojis and stickers, start by taking your photo in Snapchat. Then, tap on the folded paper icon on the top of your screen next to the “T” text icon. Scroll through the available stickers and emojis until you find the one you want. Tap on it to add it to your photo, and then use your finger to move it around.

You can use two fingers to rotate it or resize it by pinching and zooming. Add as many emojis and stickers as you’d like.

snapchat-add-emojis.gif

To delete a sticker or emoji, simply drag it to the trash icon, which appears in place of the folded paper icon once you hold your finger down on the emoji in question. 

Another creative way to use emojis on Snapchat? Create your own filters using some of the more transparent emojis by enlarging them until they cover the whole screen.

snapchat-emoji-filter.gif

4) “Pin” emojis to objects in your videos.

In addition to adding stationary emojis and stickers to your Snapchat videos, you can also “pin” — or attach — emojis and stickers to different objects in your video. This allows the emoji to automatically move, rotate, and scale with whatever object you pinned it to.

To “pin” an emoji or sticker to an object in a video, start by recording your video in Snapchat first. Then, tap on the folded paper icon on the top of your screen, located to the left of the “T” icon.

Scroll through the available emojis and stickers until you find the one you want. Tap on it to add it to your photo, and then use your finger to move it, and hold it in one place above an object to “pin” it to that object. 

snapchat-moving-emoji-video.gif

5) Make your videos go in fast-forward, slow motion, or rewind.

Snapchat recently added features for videos allowing users to make them go in fast forward, slow motion, or rewind. These features work just like a filter, so to access them, record the video first and then swipe sideways to find them.

Here’s how they work:

  • Snail icon = slow motion
  • Rabbit = fast-forward
  • Backward-facing arrows = rewind

snapchat-video-filters.png

Image Credit: TechCrunch

6) Draw in black or white.

You may have noticed that the color palette in Snapchat’s drawing tool doesn’t offer black and white — but that doesn’t mean that you can’t access both of those colors. All it takes is a few quick finger maneuvers.

To access the available colors, you’re used to holding your finger down on the color palette and dragging it up or down. But to access black and white, you’ll need to drag it toward the upper left corner of your screen (white) or the bottom right corner of your screen (black).

snapchat-draw-black-white.png

7) Change the color, size, and orientation of your text. 

Think you’re limited to white text? Turns out you can actually change the color of your text to whatever you want, including black (see previous tip).

To change the color of your text, start by taking your photo or video, then tap the “T” icon at the top of your screen. Tap the “T” icon again to make the text larger and remove that shadowed background, and then tap the text itself to open up the color palette. Drag your finger along the palette to change the text color.

To change the orientation and/or size of the text, use two fingers to rotate it or resize it by pinching and zooming. You can move the text around to wherever you want on the screen simply by holding your finger on the text and moving it around.

snapchat-change-text-color-1.png snapchat-change-text-orientation.png

8) Make your text fit neatly in one line.

If you’re anything like me and hate when your text awkwardly goes just over one line, rest assured: You can actually resize your text so it fits neatly into a single line (or however many you’d like).

To resize your text, tap the “T” icon at the top of your screen, then tap on the text to get into text editing mode. Next, use two fingers to pinch-and-zoom to resize it while it still spans the width of your screen.

snapchat-fit-text-into-one-line-1.gif

9) Exceed Snapchat’s text limit.

Even though Snapchat recently extended their text limit on Snapchat to 33 characters, that’s still not always enough. Luckily, there’s a hack that’s been going around for a little over a year now for how to exceed Snapchat’s character limit.

To add extra text, you just need to type your long message into your Notes app (a native app for iOS users), copy it, and paste it into the text field in Snapchat. Alternatively, you can copy a range of blank text in your Notes app and paste it into the text field in Snapchat, and then write in your text.

snapchat-notes-exceed-text-limit.png snapchat-exceed-text-limit.png

10) Turn on “travel mode” to save data.

When I first started using Snapchat on a regular basis, I noticed right away that it was draining my battery faster than any of my other social media apps. Thankfully, Snapchat actually has a built-in feature to help conserve your data, in the form of “travel mode.”

When you set your Snapchat app to travel mode, snaps and stories won’t download automatically. Instead, you can choose when you want to load a snap or a story.

To turn your Snapchat app to travel mode, go to settings, which you can access by opening Snapchat, tapping the ghost icon in the top center of the screen, and then tapping the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

snapchat-ghost-icon.jpg

snapchat-gear-icon-settings.jpg

Once you’re on the settings page, tap “Manage” under “Additional Services” and toggle “Travel Mode” on.

snapchat-travel-mode-1.png

11) Create your own geofilter.

In February 2016, Snapchat started letting anyone — whether you’re a business or an individual — create custom “on-demand geofilters.” On-demand geofilters are filters users can add when they take photos and videos from specific locations.

There are two different kinds of geofilters: a personal geofilter and a business geofilter.

  • A personal geofilter promotes a personal event or location like a birthday party, wedding, graduation party, and so on, and you can set them for up to 30 days. They can’t include marks, logos, branding, or businesses.
  • A business geofilter promotes a business or a brand, like for an upcoming sale, an ad for a certain location, or something along those lines. Business Geofilters need to meet Snapchat’s Business Guidelines.

snapchat-on-demand-geofilter-examples.png

Image Credit: Snapchat

To create them, you’ll need to upload an image with a transparent background (or use one of Snapchat’s premade templates), upload it to http://geofilters.snapchat.com, pick a date, time, and location for it, and submit it to Snapchat along with your payment. The Snapchat team promises to review submissions within one business day.

The announcement said this feature is available in the U.S., U.K., and Canada for now, with new locations coming soon. You can learn more about how to use them on Snapchat’s website here.

12) Add music to your videos.

Here’s a small tip that can make a big difference in your Snapchat videos. After all, the folks at Snapchat claim that sound is a big part of what makes Snapchat videos so appealing. In June 2016, they claimed that two-thirds of Snapchat’s 10 billion daily video views are watched with the sound on.

Adding music can add a unique touch to your Snapchat videos, and it’s simple to do. All you have to do is play the song you want through your favorite music player app (like Spotify or iTunes), and then record the video on Snapchat while the song is playing. The video recorder on Snapchat will pick up the music and it’ll automatically become part of your video. 

13) Turn the sound off in your videos.

Like I said before, sound is a big part of what makes Snapchat videos unique. Although the default settings for video on both Facebook and Twitter have the volume turned off, Snapchat has done the opposite: its default setting has the volume on.

“The nature of Snapchat, in terms of user-experience, plays into the prominence of sound on the platform,” said Brian Nguyen, group communications strategy director at Droga5. “Users on Snapchat simply expect sound, whereas on Facebook, they don’t.”

But if you’d rather not have sound in your video, it’s helpful to know that there is a way of turning it off. This might be best if you’re recording a video that has unnecessary, loud, or jarring noises that don’t add to the video in a way that you want them to.

To turn sound off on your video, first record your video like you would normally for a Snapchat video. Then, tap the microphone icon on the bottom left-hand side of your screen once so that the sound waves are replaced with an X.

Before:

snapchat-sound-on.jpg

After:

snapchat-sound-off.jpg

14) Save a Story as a video clip by downloading it. 

Anyone might want to save a Snapchat Story to view later, but this is especially true if you’re working on Snapchat content for your business so you can show your team the Stories you’ve put together and view them later to see what styles worked well. You can save Stories by downloading them to your device. (From there, I’d recommend emailing it to yourself so you don’t accidentally lose it.)

To save an entire Story as a video clip, open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top.

Tap the three dots on the far right-hand side of the screen to bring up the download button to the left. Then, tap the download button to save the entire story. 

To save one Snap on your Story as a video clip, open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top.

Then, tap on your Story and swipe up on the Snap you want and hit the download button at the top of the screen. 

15) Delete single snaps from a Story.

If you’ve published a snap to your Story, you can still go back to it and delete it at any time — even if you’ve published other snaps after it.

To delete a snap form a Story, simply open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top. Swipe up on the Snap you want to delete and hit the delete button.

 delete-snap.gif

Image Credit: Snapchat

There you have it. We hope these tricks and features help you use Snapchat to connect with your friends, fans, and even customers in a way that’s low-cost, but highly personal and engaging.

Happy snapping!

What other Snapchat features can you add to this list? Share with us in the comments.

free social media content calendar template

Article first found on lkolowich@hubspot.com (Lindsay Kolowich)

If this article was helpful, share it and visit this page with even more digital marketing tips to grow your business.

How to Stay on Top of Industry News & Trends: 35 Simple IFTTT Hacks to Try

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As marketers, we all face the same challenge: how do we stay on top of the news and trends that matter to our industry?

Our inboxes are overflowing. Our Twitter feeds never stop scrolling. Our bookmarks folder is stuffed to capacity. And yet, more than ever, our clients and coworkers depend on us to bring order to the chaos.

The more informed we are, the more invaluable and influential we become — always ready with the statistic that makes the deck, the perfect quote from an industry insider, or a genius idea for a new partnership.

The good news? You don’t have to possess some kind of superpower to stay on top of it all. A well-organized system can help you rise to the challenge, and it’s a system anyone can implement with a little help from IFTTT: a handy tool that empowers you to make connections between services and devices you already use (and can help you discover new ones).

These services are called Channels (think: Facebook, Evernote, Gmail, etc.) and users can connect them with simple and powerful “if this, then that” statements called Recipes. Recipes can save you time, automate your life, and, yes, keep you informed and up-to-date on everything you need to know.

To help you get started, we pulled together 35 Recipes organized along five themes. Pick and choose the ones that matter most to you to create a custom system that’ll keep you informed and influential, automatically.

How to Stay on Top of Industry News & Trends: 35 Simple IFTTT Hacks to Try

Catch up on news in one place, at a time that’s convenient for you with these Recipes …

Unfortunately, the number of browser tabs you have open doesn’t correlate to how well you understand your industry. In fact, it can make it hard to actually get work done. Then, instead of finding and reading everything you saw in various places during the day, you’re stuck finishing the tasks you should have done at work.

Find your focus with these Recipes: they’ll help you quickly save interesting articles and content you come across during your day, and send them all to the service of your choice. All the news you need, in one place, ready when you are.

1) Take the first link from any tweets you Like and save it to your Pocket account.

IFTTT Recipe: When you like a Tweet, automatically save the link from it to your Pocket account connects twitter to pocket

2) Send pages from Instapaper to your Kindle via Gmail by moving them to a specific folder.

IFTTT Recipe: When you move an article into a specific Instapaper folder, send it to your Kindle connects instapaper to gmail

3) Create a note in Evernote whenever you save a post in Reddit.

IFTTT Recipe: Create a note in Evernote whenever you save a post on Reddit connects reddit to evernote

4) Save an article for later in Feedly to automatically save it in Pocket.

IFTTT Recipe: When you save an article for later in Feedly automatically save it in Pocket  connects feedly to pocket

5) Star an email in Gmail to automatically save it in an Evernote notebook.

IFTTT Recipe: When you star an email in Gmail it will automatically save in an Evernote notebook connects gmail to evernote

6) Add an article to your Pocket queue to automatically post the title and URL to a Slack channel.

IFTTT Recipe: When you add an article to Pocket automatically save it to a Slack channel connects pocket to slack

If that’s still too many steps, there are also Recipes that’ll curate a “Read later” list for you based on the topics and mediums you choose. No clicking required: just log in at the end of the day to see what’s been collected.

Think of these as a way to go beyond the Google alert and stay on top of the sources and topics that matter most to your industry.

7) Moves the top posts from r/worldnews to your Pocket account.

IFTTT Recipe: Read top posts from /r/worldnews on Pocket connects reddit to pocket

Pro tip: Hit “Advanced settings” to put in whatever subreddit you’d like to monitor.

8) Get a daily email update with the top posts from your favorite Reddit subreddit.

IFTTT Recipe: Get a daily email update with the top posts from your favorite Reddit subreddit connects reddit to email-digest

9) Save the day’s most Dugg story from Digg to your Instapaper.

IFTTT Recipe: Automatically save the day's most Dugg story from Digg to your Instapaper connects digg to instapaper

10) Get an email whenever Digg publishes a new story featuring a specific keyword.

IFTTT Recipe: Get an email whenever Digg publishes a new story featuring a specific keyword connects digg to email

11) Save stories from a specific section of Time to read later on Pocket.

IFTTT Recipe: Save stories from a specific section of Time to read later on Pocket  connects time to pocket

12) Get an email digest of the week’s most popular Business Day articles from The New York Times.

IFTTT Recipe: Get an email digest of the week's most popular Business Day articles from the New York Times connects the-new-york-times to email-digest

Tap the global water cooler to stay on top of cultural trends and insights with these Recipes …

You may roll your eyes when you hear about “The Dress” or “Chewbacca mom,” but the fact is that these online sensations become cultural touchpoints.

Today’s viral moment is tomorrow’s brand strategy, marketing idea, sponsorship, or even just a dinner conversation with an important client. These Recipes will help you set up alerts so that breaking news and trends come straight to you as they gain momentum.

13) Get an email from The New York Times whenever there is breaking technology news.

IFTTT Recipe: Get an email from the New York Times whenever there is breaking technology news connects the-new-york-times to email

Pro tip: Technology not your thing? Hit “Advanced settings” to change which section of the newspaper you want alerts from.

14) Get an email when content gets more than 1K shares an hour on social media from Time.com.

IFTTT Recipe: Get an email whenever an article goes viral on Time.com connects time to email

15) Get an email with the most Dugg video on Digg every day.

IFTTT Recipe: Get an email with the most Dugg video on Digg every day  connects digg to email

16) Get a daily email digest with the top headlines from NPR.

IFTTT Recipe: Get a daily email digest with the top headlines from NPR connects npr to email-digest

And of course, because nothing on the internet counts until it’s a GIF, there’s a Recipe for staying on top of those, too:

17) Get a daily email with the GIFs that are trending on Giphy.

IFTTT Recipe: Get a daily email with the GIFs that are trending on Giphy connects giphy to email-digest

Keep your team up to date with these Recipes …

Chances are, you’re not the only one who could benefit from a steady stream of curated info. Connect different services to communication tools, such as Slack, to keep your coworkers and collaborators as in-the-know as you are. Setting up Recipes like these is a simple way to show your value as a knowledge worker and make yourself indispensable to your team.

18) Share popular articles from The New York Times with your LinkedIn followers.

IFTTT Recipe: Share popular articles from the NYTimes with your LinkedIn followers connects the-new-york-times to linkedin

19) Send live updates from Twitter to a Slack channel.

IFTTT Recipe: Send live updates from Twitter to a Slack channel  connects twitter to slack

20) Send an article to a Slack channel when you tag it with a specific tag in Pocket.

IFTTT Recipe: Automatically send an article to a Slack channel when you tag it with a specific tag in Pocket connects pocket to slack

21) Post your Feedly ‘save for later’ articles to a Slack channel.

IFTTT Recipe: Automatically post your Feedly save for later articles to a Slack channel  connects feedly to slack

22) Post Instapaper articles to a Slack channel once they’re moved into a folder.

IFTTT Recipe: Post instapaper articles to slack channel once moved to a folder. connects instapaper to slack

Find influencers and keep an eye on the competition by tracking Twitter with these Recipes …

Half the battle is finding the right sources. With so much noise out there, how do you keep track of who’s talking about your industry in a meaningful way? Especially when so much of the chatter happens in real time, on social media. These Recipes can help you create groups you can easily monitor and siphon off relevant searches into other services where you can organize and interpret them at your leisure.

23) Add users to a Twitter list when they use a specific hashtag.

IFTTT Recipe: Add users to a Twitter list when they use a specific hashtag connects twitter to twitter

24) Add the user to a Twitter list when you Like a tweet.

IFTTT Recipe: When you like a Tweet add the user to a Twitter list connects twitter to twitter

25) Add a tweet to a Google spreadsheet when it contains a specific hashtag.

IFTTT Recipe: When a specific hashtag is used on Twitter add the Tweet to a Google spreadsheet connects twitter to google-drive

26) Get an email whenever a specific user tweets.

IFTTT Recipe: Get an email whenever a specific user Tweets connects twitter to gmail

Pro tip: You can email up to five email accounts with a Recipe like this.

27) Create a search on Twitter and get a daily email with the results.

IFTTT Recipe: Create a search on Twitter and get a daily email with the results connects twitter to email-digest

Pro tip: Hit “advanced settings” to change the search term.

28) Add users to a Twitter list when they tweet in a specific area.

IFTTT Recipe: If someone Tweets in a specific area, add them to a Twitter list connects twitter to twitter

Share your informed POV with your social networks with these Recipes …

Now that you’re on top of everything, you can start to build a reputation as an informed thought leader. Curate a steady stream of articles and insights that you’ve given the stamp of approval across your social media. It’ll help you build your online influence.

29) Automatically tweet your Diggs.

IFTTT Recipe: Automatically Tweet your diggs connects digg to twitter

30) Automatically tweet articles when you tag them with a specific tag in Feedly.

IFTTT Recipe: Automatically Tweet articles when you tag them with a specific tag in Feedly  connects feedly to twitter

31) Post your Pocket favorites to Facebook.

IFTTT Recipe: Post your Pocket favorites to Facebook connects pocket to facebook

32) Automatically share articles you tag in Pocket with a specific tag with your LinkedIn followers.

IFTTT Recipe: Automatically share articles you tag in Pocket with a specific tag with your LinkedIn followers  connects pocket to linkedin

33) Automatically share articles with your LinkedIn network when you give them a specific tag in Feedly.

IFTTT Recipe: Automatically share articles with your LinkedIn network when you give them a specific tag in Feedly connects feedly to linkedin

34) Add a specific hashtag to a tweet to automatically post it as a LinkedIn status update.

IFTTT Recipe: When you Tweet with a specific hashtag the Tweets will be posted as LinkedIn status updates connects twitter to linkedin

(This is a great solution if you don’t want everything you tweet added to your LinkedIn profile.)

35) Automatically share an Inoreader article on your LinkedIn by broadcasting it.

IFTTT Recipe: When you broadcast an article via Inoreader it will automatically be shared on your LinkedIn connects inoreader to linkedin

Interested in exploring more Recipes? IFTTT’s collection for marketers is the perfect next step. Learn how to seamlessly cross-post, organize files, manage tasks and campaigns, and much more.

What are your best tips and tricks for staying on top of industry trends? Share them in the comments.

free social media content calendar template

Article first found on Jane Stecyk

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The New Client Intake Form [Free Template for Agencies]

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It might be hard to admit: Not every prospect is a good fit for your agency. 

Some don’t have the budget. Some need a mindset shift. And some simply won’t see the value of your services. 

Yet, many agencies don’t find this out until much later in the sales process, sometimes after they have already sent over an in-depth proposal. 

You shouldn’t be spending the same amount of time on every prospective client who calls you up to ask for your help or fills out a form on your website. To understand which clients are the right fit, you need to ask the right questions. This will help you understand if the prospect is in line with your ideal client profile, will be a profitable and successful relationship, and has a strong desire to solve their problem. 

To start qualifying prospects and gain a better understanding of their wants and needs, download the New Client Intake Form. It will help you get started as you evaluate if a potential client is actually worth your time. 

Article first found on joetting@hubspot.com (Jami Oetting)

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Busted! 23 Marketing Myths Held By (Some) Industries

ThinkstockPhotos-485017745-1-335537-edited.jpgEven though inbound marketing has been a huge success within so many different industries, there are still some companies that are shackled with misconceptions about whether it will work for them. In fact, we have identified 23 myths about inbound marketing that some people may think are true.

Time to bust these myths!

1) “Content creation is inbound marketing.”

There’s a common misconception that “creating more content is all we need to do.” Don’t get us wrong. We emphasize the importance of creating content to give your buyers the information they are looking for, while simultaneously establishing you as the “expert” on the subject matter they are searching for, resulting in building trust in the process.

But content is only one piece of the puzzle. The inbound strategy also consists of marketing automation software integration, website design, SEO, social media, email marketing, and lead nurturing, among others.

2) “Inbound Marketing is an Internet ‘fad’ that will pass.”

Even though inbound marketing is becoming widely known and used among many industries, some skeptics still think it is just an Internet “fad.” Fortunately, that leaves a clear runway for the firms who desire to be the leaders in their industries by taking advantage of the huge opportunities afforded through inbound marketing.

In fact, according to HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2015” report, “3 out of 4 marketers across the globe prioritize an inbound approach to marketing.” And trust us, once one firm gains the advantages of inbound marketing in your industry, the others will want to follow. Just try not to be the last one to get to bat.

3) “It’s hard to determine the ROI of inbound marketing.”

Somewhere along the way the myth was created that it’s difficult to measure ROI with inbound marketing. Fortunately, this myth couldn’t be more wrong. With the right marketing automation platform, such as HubSpot, it’s easy to track prospects from their initial interaction to a sale.

According to the “State of Inbound 2015” report, marketers who saw a higher marketing ROI in 2014 were more likely to have used marketing automation software. This software allows you to easily check your analytics to see what is working and not working.  Respondents to the marketing survey whose teams checked marketing metrics three or more times a week were over 20% more likely to see an increased ROI in 2015[1].

4) “Digital marketing is a cost, not a revenue generator.”

This myth is actually backwards. The truth is digital marketing is a revenue generator, not a cost. When you think about it, digital marketing has an infinite shelf life. It provides higher return-on-investments over a longer period of time. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, has a shorter shelf life, with unpredictable and lower ROI’s.

According to HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2015” report, “inbound efforts achieve higher ROI than outbound regardless of company size or total marketing spend.” In fact, every company they surveyed, regardless of marketing spend, “was three times as likely to see higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound.”  There’s a time for sprints, and there is a time for marathons. Shoot for the marathon. The reward is higher and the distance reached is farther.

5) “Having a website is good enough.”

No more of this “if you build it, they will come” mentality. You have to put yourself out there for people to notice you. Hundreds, maybe thousands of companies are competing with you on the web for your ideal client’s business.

If you are not putting yourself in front of them on that digital screen with valuable information that catches their eye and helps answer their questions, you most likely will not be discovered. And you definitely will not be able to use the most effective and valuable tool to grow your business – the Internet. We no longer live in a world where you can simply have a website and that’s good enough.

6) “My website does not need to be mobile enabled.”

In 2015 Google made this myth so very false. In fact, if your site is not mobile-enabled, your company’s search engine ranking is severely penalized. Google will not even show your website in their mobile search results if your site is not mobile-enabled. And when we say mobile, we mean smartphones, iPads, tablets, Surface Pro’s, and anything that is literally not an actual desktop or laptop. Don’t get fooled by this myth.

7) “A website redesign is all that’s needed to increase sales.”

While a pretty website with all the bells and whistles may be nice to have, if you can’t get traffic to your website, then it means nothing. The digital world outside your website is just as important as the world inside your website. So if you think that by just getting a website redesign your sales will dramatically change, think again.

The first thing you need to determine is what the root problem is that makes you think you need a website redesign. You may find that it’s much more than simply your website that needs an overhaul.

8) “Word of mouth is all we need to make our sales.”

Many companies, and even entire industries, still rely heavily on word of mouth for their marketing and sales. We like to refer to this as the “old school method.” For many “old-school” industries, word of mouth and referrals have been their marketing bread and butter.

While we do not believe you should stop this well-established method, we just know that in today’s world it can no longer be the only method for winning more contracts. In order to advance your firm above your competition, you need to adapt and embrace the digital world’s “word of mouth” methodology.

9) “Marketing is not needed in an RFP-driven industry.”

Relying on RFP-driven sales can be discouraging. Many think that there’s no point in marketing for RFP’s if the process is set. But there’s the catch. If you get your firm ahead of the RFP process, before your “buyers” are filtering whether you meet the qualifications to make it to the “short list,” that’s when you see the shift. Inbound marketing creates that shift and helps you beat the RFP-driven process.

10) “I just need some SEO to get my website found.”

When we conduct a competitive analysis for clients that compares them to their top competitors on all areas of marketing effectiveness, SEO is just 1 of 30 analytical components we look at.

Why? Because SEO is only one factor that affects your company’s visibility and exposure to your audience. This is not to say that SEO is not important. It is very important. It is to say that SEO alone is simply not enough in today’s competitive digital presence to grow your company.

11) “I don’t need a case study to prove my work.”

When a buyer is assessing your products or services, they will likely want to look at examples in which you have performed similar work. Prospects want to know the bottom-line effectiveness of your work. If you give them hard numbers, a detailed description, along with testimonials from past work as a case study, you leave very little room for them to wonder if you are right for that job.

12) “A photo and brief paragraph effectively depicts our work.”

Many companies have a website that feature pictures of their work, with very little substantial information about the actual work that was done. There are a couple of problems with this that immediately jump to mind. Less content typically results in less SEO. Google will not have much information to pull from in order to get your company on the first page of the search results.

Another problem is that when you don’t have enough content, case studies, a compelling value proposition, or specific information of your company’s work, a potential client will not know what you bring to the table that is different from other firms. Why should they choose you? Can you solve whatever problem they are having? What makes you so unique that they wouldn’t consider using another firm? A picture and a brief paragraph barely scratches the surface to answer these questions.

13) “We don’t have the internal resources for marketing.”

Good news! You do not have to be a marketing expert in order to market your company successfully! In fact, some people in highly technical fields are experts in their specialization but are intimidated by the idea of marketing, so they just don’t put much effort towards it. But that’s the worst thing you can do.

The solution? Engage a marketing team to help you. More specifically, retain a marketing agency that specializes in inbound marketing. That way, you know your team will learn your business and market it knowledgably and correctly. So you can do your job, and your inbound marketing team will do theirs. What a wonderful collaboration.

14) “Writing a few posts on social media is enough to get exposure.”

Social media is a powerful tool to expand your company’s online presence. But how you decide what to post is the kicker. What you post matters to those you are trying to reach. And how do you guarantee that your post will reach the right people? Specialized industries have very specific buyer personas they are trying to reach. It is essential to identify who the company’s ideal buyer is and how you will target and reach this buyer on social media with the information that they are interested in and that will get their attention.

15) “Writing something is more important than what you say.”

We’ve all heard the “quality over quantity” advice for some aspect of our life. This couldn’t be truer than in the case of your marketing articles. It’s disappointing when you go as far as clicking on an article because you think they have the answer to your problem, only to find that the article was shallow and pretty much wasted five minutes of your time. Impress your audience by your wealth of knowledge. Impress them and they will come back looking for more.

16) “I have a steady client base already, therefore, I don’t need to invest in marketing.”

We have yet to find a company that has said they would prefer to stay as is instead of growing and gaining more business. That is not to say that there are no companies like that out there. But if you are still reading this article, then we’re pretty certain you are more than interested in growing your company.

If you have a technical firm with highly specialized products, then you may find it difficult to justify investing in a top-notch marketing strategy for such a specialized product or service. But the more you invest in your company’s marketing, the more return on investment you will see. And the more return on investment you see, the more your company grows. Growth comes from actively putting your company in front of your ideal clients and continuously reinforcing your company as the thought-leader in your industry.

17) “Social media is not intended for my industry.”

This myth is the reason why some industries have gained the stereotype of being the “social media wallflower.” What does social media and engagement have to do with getting more projects?

Social media helps position your company at the forefront of your ideal buyer’s mind throughout every stage of the bidding process, even for projects that haven’t been opened for bidding yet. In fact, 97% of buyers use online media when researching products and services in their local area[2].

18) “Inbound marketing is only for very large businesses.”

Inbound marketing is not exclusive to any size business because it produces growth and expansion for all sizes. All companies have room to grow. Especially smaller businesses. The Internet provides smaller businesses with the opportunity to blast past their competition to become the experts and thought-leaders in their industry. To be the trusted provider of information can help transform any size firm into a thriving, prosperous business.

19) “Every lead is a good lead when you’re trying to get sales.”

Now hold on a second. Would you think the same thing when it came to other relationships in your life including your husband, wife, significant other or close friend? We would hope not.

There are qualities you are looking for in them that are compatible with you. In inbound marketing, you’re building a relationship and trust between you and your potential clients. But make sure they are the right fit for you before you invest your time and resources into this potential client relationship.

20) “My industry does not market through the Internet.”

To not market your company through the Internet is a huge disservice to your company’s growth. But many companies believe their clients do not search online and therefore, they do not need to put much effort into marketing their firm online.

Yet 81% of buyers conduct research online before making a buying decision[3]. If you aren’t marketing online, then you just missed out on 4 out of 5 buyers. The odds at that point are not in your favor.

21) “Social media is only for kids and personal use.”

If this myth resonates with you, then you are missing one of the best and most effective marketing tools for your company. In fact, according to the Google ZMOT report, 84% of buyers engage in online information consumption and education before buying.

You might think that number doesn’t apply to you, but let’s look at a few statistics on specific industries. According to the CMO Council Report & Forbes.com, 1 out of 4 buyers use social media to discuss or communicate a recent purchase experience. The same report stated that 84% of all automotive shoppers are on Facebook – with 24% using the site as a resource for purchasing their last vehicle. Even 42.3% of engineers use social media to read articles related to work[4].

Social media is one of the many online resources people go to in order to find information on work-related topics. The power of social media has exponentially surpassed its original purpose when it really was just for kids. Times have changed.

22) “No one is going to read long pages on my website.”

If you are providing quality content with some useful resources related to what your ideal buyer persona wants to read, the length of the web page matters less to them. Many companies write the bare minimum about the services they provide, leaving their potential client with less than ideal information about the firm.

This is especially ironic because long content is also what Google and the search engines want to see in order to rank your page higher in the search results. Make sure your content is meaty, interesting and worth reading, and your visitors and the search engine spiders will love you for it.

23) “I already know what my clients want.”

To know exactly what your buyers want is to have hard data, analytics, tracking and feedback from your clients themselves. If you have that, then you are probably already implementing the inbound marketing and automation methodology. It is easy to think that you know what is important to your clients and what they want to read and see.

But, truth is, sometimes you need to take a step back and ask, listen and watch. Integrating a marketing automation system enables you to see the exact data and numbers that prove what is actually attracting and keeping your clients. Analytics is a powerful tool and a blessing to the marketing community. Tailor your content to what your clients say they want. Not the other way around.

Don’t Get Left Behind!

Busting these inbound marketing myths is just the start. In order to really benefit from inbound marketing you have to decide to make a change and get started.

Consider this:

  • 84% of small businesses are using inbound marketing[5]
  • Companies are 3X more likely to see higher ROI with inbound marketing campaigns compared to outbound marketing[6]

Gain insight into how your digital marketing plan is really performing against your competitors. We will show you the good, the bad and the ugly. But don’t worry, you will also be leaving with more insight and knowledge about your digital marketing performance, along with a structured, tangible plan to turn that knowledge into fruition. Stop marketing in the dark! It’s time to get a jump on your competition.

competitive-analysis-CTA.png

 [1] HubSpot “State of Inbound 2015”

[2] BIA Kelsey

[3] AdWeek

[4] Engineering.com

[5] State of Inbound 2015

[6] State of Inbound 2015 

Article first found on Alexi Lambert

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How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Career Path

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A couple of my teammates recently launched a tool called The Next Five to help people navigate through those times in their career where they’re feeling kind of stuck. You know, when you’re just not sure what the next step is on your career path.

And while we may think about this stuff from time to time — and maybe even sheepishly practice holding those conversations in the car on the way to work — I don’t think we often verbalize our thoughts on where we want our career paths to go (presuming we actually know the answer to that question).

So I did a little research to see how often people are actually talking with their managers about the next steps on their career paths. It’s pretty hard to find any good data on it (if you know of any, please send my way). But I did find this: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average tenure for today’s worker is 4.4 years. If you focus on just younger employees, that number halves.

What’s more, 91% of workers born between 1977 and 1997 report going into new jobs with the intent of staying less than three years.

While it sure seems like a jumpy career path is normal, there’s more to be said about the importance of these career discussions. To help you get the conversation started, let’s take a closer look at why they matter and how you can get the most out of them.

Why Do Career Path Conversations Even Matter?

Some workplaces look at job-hopping as a phenomenon we just need to accept in this day and age. And they’re probably right … to an extent. I don’t think many industries should expect to return to a time when people stayed at companies for decades. But we might be able to find more longevity out of our roles than we do right now.

Quite frankly, job-hopping sucks for more than just the organization that has to rehire and retrain someone every couple years — it sucks for the employee, too. Yes, maybe they get promotions and raises — in fact, it’s not an uncommon way to make your way up the career ladder. But it also means taking a risk, adjusting to a new team and a new manager — possibly finding out one or both of those are a poor fit — and figuring out the nuances of a workplace and job that you could end up hating.

Worst case scenario? You end up out of work at the end of all that, and you’re back on the interview circuit.

So I think it behooves all of us to have these conversations about what we want our career paths to look like with ourselves, and our managers. It helps us get closer to the work and life we want, and it helps clue our managers in on how to give it to us.

What Elements Make Up an Effective Career Path Conversation?

I’m gonna put my money where my mouth is and talk about my own experiences with these conversations.

I’ve had career path conversations with many bosses — the last formal one was around March — but I’ve also held them with people on my team. Both have been awkward … sometimes. But both have been totally normal and non-cringe-inducing just as often.

When I look back at all those conversations at a macro-level, the good ones (whether they were about my career or my teammates’) all came down to three elements:

  • Relationship
  • Timing
  • Forethought

1) Relationship

Technically, this shouldn’t matter. You should be able to have productive career path conversations no matter the manager-employee relationship. But it would be naive to think the relationship you have with your boss doesn’t play into how well these conversations go. That’s not to say the closer you two are, the better the conversations go — sometimes the closer you are, the harder it is to have frank conversations.

But the better you know each other, and the more ease you have talking with one another, the more likely you’ll have already sorted out communication styles that work. You’ll just know how to get from point A to point B with less pain and awkwardness, because you’ve done it before.

It also gives you the ability to “read the room,” so to speak. You can tell if something you said is being poorly received or misunderstood. Those soft skills matter when you’re talking about career paths because they can accidentally veer into uncomfortable territory and leave people feeling insecure if the communication is off.

If you don’t already have a strong working relationship, it doesn’t preclude you from pulling off a successful conversation. It just makes the next two items — timing and forethought — all the more important.

It also might help to run a few practice rounds with someone so you can make sure you’re clearly verbalizing what you intend. My colleague Katherine Boyarsky does this and can’t recommend it enough: “Have a mantra that you can repeat in your head during the conversation that helps center you if you go off on a tangent,” she explains.

Aim to be very clear, direct, and forthright with what you’re looking to do without putting the other party on the defensive. (And check out this article for some general tips on how to be less awkward with your boss. Trust me, you won’t regret it.)

2) Timing

There have been a few career conversations I’ve had in the past that were ill-timed. It didn’t turn them into an utter disaster, but they just didn’t seem to stick. The most common instances where the timing has been off in my experience have been:

  • My boss didn’t know I wanted to have the conversation/I sprung the conversation on a team member in our 1:1. When it comes to talking about your career path, you can’t expect great results from a conversation in which half the people in the room are unprepared. Give everyone some time to think about this. After all, it’s a massive topic that has a lot of moving parts to consider.
  • We tacked it on to the end of a meeting but didn’t have enough time to finish the conversation. Because your career path is such a massive topic, allot enough time to do it justice. I think career discussions are best when they take place over a series of conversations, so it’s alright if you just have a quick thought once in a while. But if you haven’t had this talk with your boss or employee yet (or it’s been a while), make a separate meeting dedicated to this, and only this.
  • I could tell my boss was distracted due to other sources of stress. This is where that “reading the room” I mentioned earlier comes into play. Even if you’ve pre-planned a career path meeting, sometimes things come up that distract one or both of the participants. If you’re picking up on some body language — or spoken language — that indicates distraction, reschedule the meeting.

3) Forethought

A lot of this post so far has been a 50/50 thing — managers and employees should both be held accountable for this career path stuff. But when it comes to forethought, this lies largely on the employees’ shoulders. We need to think about what we want to do in our career. No one can tell us the answer to: “What do you want to do in five years?

Sure, your manager, a mentor, or your family and friends can all talk you through that stuff, but it does come down to you to take ownership over the direction in which you want your career to go.

So, put some forethought into the ways your career path could take shape before broaching the subject with your manager. Some people tend to have really clear career goals, while others are a little more … floaty. That’s fine. If you find yourself in the “floaty” camp, here’s are a couple things to think about to get your brain going:

First, it’s okay to not know what you want from your career at all times. I tend to bucket my life in quadrants:

  • Relationships (friends, family, love)
  • Career (skill development, promotions, satisfaction from the work I’m doing)
  • Hobbies (beach bumming, ghost stuff)
  • Health (exercise, cooking, happiness, clean home)

Typically, not all of those areas of my life are banging on all cylinders at once. When life is going great, usually three — maybe only two — are rocking and rolling while the rest are in stasis for a bit. Sometimes, that thing that’s in stasis is your career. And that’s fine. You don’t need to be thinking about your career path all the time. But if you feel a general ennui, it might be that too many of those areas of your life are lagging — and one could very possibly be your career.

If that’s the case, ask yourself this …

What does the team look like today, versus a year from now?

First, think about this question hypothetically — assessing gaps that will need to be filled down the line, and aligning them with company goals. Then, talk to other leaders in the company and on your team about where they see the team going in a year, and what kinds of goals people might focus on in the future.

This is where your manager can help you, and where I have seen really successful (and non-awkward) career path conversations begin. If you can get a sense of what the organization’s needs will be over the next 12 months, you can start to see which of those needs you’re interested in helping fulfill — because even if your dream job is X, there’s not much anyone can do for you if the company’s investments are in Y.

Finally, remember that career progress comes from a lot of different places, and that progress is indicated by a lot of different things. It comes from skill development, networking, and aligning with projects that advance both personal and company goals. And all of that takes time.

If we want to benchmark our progress, we need to look at more than just promotions. Instead, we need to focus on whether we’re developing new skills, being given more responsibility and autonomy,putting ourselves in mildly uncomfortable situations that help us get better at stuff (hello, public speaking), working with new people in the organization, being asked for our opinion more often, or being pulled into meetings with people we respect and admire.

These are all really good signs of progress that are hard to formalize, but indicate you’re taking the right steps to get your career on the path you’re aiming for.

What Would an Expert Say About All of This?

I’m glad you asked.

That was all based on my experience — holding career path conversations with team members, and with my own manager. But let’s ask an actual HR professional who has spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff.

I talked to our Senior HR Business Partner Brianna Manning, and asked her for the advice she would give someone who was struggling to hold productive conversations about career advancement. She echoed two of the sentiments we’ve already talked about — preparation, and giving a heads up that you want to have this conversation. One point in particular Manning shared regarding preparation is the importance of establishing career trajectory dialogue from the beginning of your relationship together:

If your manager is well aware of what direction you want to take your career, they can purposefully plan on assignments and projects that help set you in the right direction. In fact, if you want to follow your manager’s path, specifically, you should be direct and let them know that. Ask them to lunch to talk through their challenges, and learn what kinds of projects they took on to help get the skills they needed for the role.”

If you feel unsure of how to start that conversation because you don’t have that solid relationship yet, she provided some sample language that helps make it less intimidating:

Try opening with something like ‘I learned about this really great resource to help us make the most of our 1:1s and layer in some career development focus — would you be open to trying it?’ or ‘I want to make sure we bake in time for communication around career development in our 1:1s, can we set aside five minutes for that on the agenda on a weekly basis?'”

But Manning hit on one other important point in initiating these conversations I would be remiss to gloss over: You have to build trust and credibility to have productive career conversations.

It’s really difficult for your manager to focus on your career path if you aren’t succeeding in your current role. Make sure you’ve got a handle on your responsibilities before setting your sights on the next thing. In some cases, it might be wiser to focus on the “now” of your career path rather than the next turn down the road. As Manning put it:

If you demonstrate that you always deliver on current responsibilities, and always try to go the extra mile, you’ll build credibility and trust around your own personal brand. This will open doors for you. Just remember that it all takes time. It can’t happen overnight.”

She emphasized that credibility also comes from owning the follow-through on those career conversations. If your manager has opened up some doors for you, make sure you own your progression by nailing those stretch assignments, introductions, or whatever it is you’ve been given an opportunity to shine doing.

What Should You Expect to Get From These Career Path Conversations?

If you’re expecting a specific result out of one conversation, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You wouldn’t expect your manager to come in and dump a promotion on your lap, so you shouldn’t expect to solve your career destiny in one swoop.

In order for those doors to open, all relevant parties must be envisioning you in a certain role for a few months, at least.

I would say the best results typically come from people that think about their career path often, and have frequent — whether formal or informal — conversations about it.

Most of all, those with the most interesting paths tend to just keep an open mind about the different, jagged, very weird ways we all make our way through our careers.

Need help doing a little soul-searching? Take a few minutes to check out The Next Five.

take our five-year career plan quiz

Article first found on cwainwright@hubspot.com (Corey Wainwright)

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The Complete Guide to Instagram Advertising [Ebook]

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As of just last week, Instagram hit a major milestone: the platform doubled its monthly active users to 500 million in just two short years. What’s more, over half of those monthly users — 300 million, to be exact — are active on the platform daily. That’s a whole lot of action.

All that said, it should come as no surprise that Instagram has become a place of interest for businesses. And with the massive potential audience in mind, those businesses are looking for ways to create meaningful, quality experiences through Instagram’s ad solutions.

You see, ads on Instagram are separate from posts to your account, allowing for much more freedom and a bigger, more targeted audience than just your followers. And while you have to “pay to play,” the benefits of Instagram advertising are notable.

To help you learn more about how to effectively advertise on Instagram, HubSpot teamed up with Iconosquare to bring you The Essential Guide to Instagram Advertising.

Here are a few thing we cover in this guide:

  • Integrating Instagram ads into your current advertising strategy.
  • Setting clear campaign objectives focused on improving your business.
  • Creating an optimized Instagram ad with our step by step guide.
  • Monitoring performance metrics and moderating engagement with your Ads.
  • Insights and takeaways from exclusive experimentation.
  • Bonus: Cheat sheet “The Perfect Instagram Ad.”

Download your copy here to get started with Instagram advertising today.

free guide to advertising on Instagram

Article first found on ebartolino@hubspot.com (Ellen Bartolino)

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