Tuesday, 25 April 2017

3 Copywriting Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Free Trial Engagement (And How to Fix Them Right Now)

Find a box with a CD-ROM in it, buy it, then learn how to use it.

That’s how I bought software as a kid. So when I first started working, I assumed that if I wanted to start using work-related software, I would have to pay for it the same way: upfront — site unseen! — just like the software of my youth.

I worried that I would have to justify the cost with only the specs, reviews, and sales guy’s word to make my case. (And if I was wrong, it would be my butt on the line.)

So I’m not exaggerating when I say that discovering I could try software for free actually improved my job performance and reduced new-on-the-job anxiety by ~62%.

Using a tool BEFORE I had to recommend it to my colleagues and pull out the corporate credit card gave me a chance to see which tools actually did what we wanted them to do.

All of a sudden, the risk that we’d pay for something that didn’t have a key feature or turned out to be a user-unfriendly nightmare shrank to almost zero.

What’s the Point of a Free Trial, Anyway?

Your serious prospects approach their free trials of your software with a mindset similar to mine circa 2000-something: they want to reduce the likelihood of buying something that doesn’t work.

They’ve got a problem to solve, they’ve discovered that your app might solve it for them, but they’re not yet certain that your app will be quite right. The free trial is a chance for new users to see for themselves what it’s like to use your app.

But. It’s not up to your free trial users to figure out how your SaaS app actually works. It’s not your new users’ job to figure out how your app will turn them into a better version of themselves.

It’s yours.

Too many SaaS apps lose free trial users with erratic, boring, or vague lifecycle emails.

If you run a SaaS app in pretty much any niche, you have an enormous opportunity to outmaneuver your competitors during the free trial process.

I sign up for free trials all the time to see how they onboard new users, and most don’t do a good job. Most onboarding emails don’t make it easy to understand what to do next. Most apps leave it up to me (the brand new user) to figure out how to get started.

Why is this a problem?

Because every time you make your new readers pause and try to figure out what to do next, you create an opportunity for them to give up and just do nothing instead.

What should you say to new free trial users?

Alas, there is no single hard and set rule. Every SaaS app is unique. What you say in your free trial, how you say it, and when you deliver your message will be specific to your app.

But if your biggest problem is that you’re sending triggered emails to new free trial users but they still aren’t signing back in after the first 10 minutes of using your app, there’s a strong chance that the copy in your emails is to blame.

To fix it, pull up your emails and see if they’re are suffering from one of these 3 engagement-killing mistakes.

Mistake 1: Your emails ask people to do too much.

When you offer more choices, you inspire less action.

The famous jam paper that explained the paradox of choice (and the TED talk that made it famous) showed us how we may be unintentionally taxing our prospects’ decision-making resources by offering too many choices.

But that’s not the whole story.

A 2015 meta-analysis of the research found that the total quantity of options is just one of many factors that can contribute to decision fatigue.

Another factor is the way that options are presented to us. When the presentation of options makes it hard to determine what choice is right for us, we’re likely to defer making a decision.

So if you’re sending your free trial users emails that look like this one, then there’s a strong chance you’re causing some serious decision-deferring choice overload.

a-personal-welcome-9-links

It would probably take all afternoon to do everything this email mentions, and I might not get any closer to my goal.

This message tosses out 9 links (including one that’s hidden by my redaction) without a clear messaging hierarchy to help me figure out what order I should click on them.

This email provides login info, asks me to read help articles, watch help videos on 3 separate channels, ask for help via email, read interviews, or read a blog that might be helpful–all under the umbrella of “important information”.

But for your trial users, the real important information is the information that helps them decide what to do next.

The Fix: Write each email for the sole purpose of getting your users to complete a single action–and remove text and links that don’t support that action.

This particular message might be rewritten to focus on getting a single reader to respond to the important request hiding at the bottom of that email:

hidden-request

In the now-famous experiment, sending a welcome-why-are-you-here email helped Groove get response rates of 41% while also providing juicy voice of customer data to power future messaging development and laying the foundation for more personal relationships with new users.

Whether you’re following Groove’s lead or not, your free trial emails should all follow the Rule of One for best results: get one reader to take you up on one offer.

One email, one action. That’s it.

Mistake 2: Your emails don’t ask readers to do something specific and measurable.

When you rewrite your emails so that they’re focused on a single action, make sure that action is a discrete, clearly defined task on the user’s path to activation.

Your reader should be able to complete the task you’ve asked them to complete–and they should be able to tell that they’ve completed it.

Unfortunately, lots of emails offer vague and nonspecific CTAs. Some of them even sound exciting — especially CTAs that use the word “explore”. Exploring is fun! It’s adventurous! Brave souls explore!

explore-my-account

Just because it sounds fun doesn’t mean it is.

All true of actual exploring. But your SaaS app is not the Louisiana Purchase.

When you ask someone to “explore” something — anything, really — you put the onus on the reader to figure out what to do.

And because exploring doesn’t have a clearly defined end, it’s impossible for your reader to figure out exactly what to do next–and when they’ve actually completed the thing you’ve asked them to do.

The Fix: Reduce cognitive overwhelm with a CTA that calls for readers to complete a clearly defined single task.

Zapier does this well. This app helps you connect what feels like an infinite number of apps to do all sorts of cool things (including powering the technical logistics behind managing your lead nurturing messaging).

With so many options, it would be easy for free trial users to get overwhelmed. They could explore their options, but then decide not to do anything.

So instead of leaving it up to new users to decide what to do next, Zapier’s first email removes some of the cognitive drain of “Shoot, how will I choose?” and offers a CTA tightly bound around completing a single task.

zapier-build-your-first-workflow

I love this email, and if I was going to rewrite it I would try other CTAs that don’t sound like they’re asking your reader to do work.

You already know what steps a new free trial user needs to complete to get to the point where your app suddenly becomes a can’t-live-without-it tool. You might even know the different steps different populations take to get to the point of activation.

Use your knowledge to guide your free trial users along the steps of that path.

Mistake 3: Your emails don’t connect the CTA to the outcome your free trial users want.

If you’ve rewritten your emails to get users to complete one and only specific and measurable action, that’s a great start.

Unfortunately, one of the most common grade-F CTAs I see in onboarding emails are the ones that don’t connect completing the action to solving a problem.

They make a call to action (the CTA “sign in” and its synonyms appear with devastating frequency), but they don’t make a call to value–so readers have no reason to expect that anything good will happen after they log back in.

Did logging into anything ever solve anyone’s problems? Of course not.

It’s what happens after you log back in that makes the difference.

The Fix: If your email’s CTA could easily appear in the free trial email sequence of another app outside of your category, change it.

If you’ve conducted your jobs-to-be-done research, you also know why your readers are using your app–and the outcome they hope to achieve.

Instead of “Log in to Your Account” or “Sign Back In Now”, your free trial email CTAs should make it clear that someone who clicks on this link will be moving closer to the goal they want to achieve with your app.

Buffer does a great job of sending an email that connects my click to what happens after the click.

After I signed up for a trial but didn’t finish setup, I got an email asking me to connect my accounts that also had some background info on what accounts, exactly, we’re talking about here. (In case I forgot what Buffer is.)

buffer-connect-social-profile

This email shows me everything I can connect to Buffer and makes it abundantly clear what I need to click to move forward.

Buffer could have sent an email that said “log back in” or even “connect a profile”. But “login” = boring and “connect a profile” = kind of vague.

Instead, this email makes it abundantly clear what to do with this email (click on the link that says “click here”) and the meaningful reason why you should take that next step (because it’s what you need to do to connect your social profiles).

Are You Making it Easy for Free Trial Users to Disappear?

When I first learned about free trials for software, I was over the moon. “Look at all this stuff I get to try!” “Look at all these opinions I get to form!” “Look at how few people I have to talk to before I make my decision!”

But what are all these thoughts really about?

What are your new free trial users really thinking when they sign up for your app?

My hypothesis is this: free trial users are really thinking some version of: “Look how little risk there is to trying this software. Let’s see if it works.”

The free trial reduces the risk of having to buy before you try. Your free trial messaging is what helps your prospect understand for themselves if your software will solve a problem.

What can you do to help free trial users understand that yes, your product can change their life?

Make it easier for free trial users to evaluate your app with focused, specific, and meaningful lifecycle emails.

About the Author: Alli Blum helps SaaS apps build messages that get customers. Click to get her copywriting checklist for high-converting SaaS onboarding emails.



from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/3-copywriting-mistakes/

Live from Marketing Nation Summit: The Engagement Economy, Buyer Empowerment, and Authenticity

summit-day-one

Author: Ellen Gomes

As 6500+ marketers descended on Moscone in San Francisco, it could only mean one thing. Marketing Nation Summit has arrived. We kicked off the 2017 Marketing Nation Summit on Sunday with an amazing Fun Run, Marketo University training, and our annual customer and partner awards gala, The Revvies. As the official day one (Monday) at the Marketing Nation Summit wraps up, this post will cover highlights from the amazing keynotes and breakout sessions.

New Customer Expectations

Things kicked off with a literal bang—with live drums and dancers. The audience was amped when Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas, took the stage and jumped into his TED-style talk describing the new world of communication and customer expectations.

Steve described that today with digital marketing as the norm, marketers expect to be able to reach millions of people in an instant. And that’s pretty amazing but it a testament to the fact that change is now measured in seconds versus decades or years—we are living in a hyper-accelerated pace of change. Technology has the world around us. 

The Buyer Has A Louder Voice Than The Brand

Technology has helped advance the expectations and knowledge of our buyers. Our audiences are more focused than ever before on being treated as individuals. Steve asked the audience, as consumers, “Don’t we want to be valued?”, and “Don’t we know it when we aren’t valued?”  

Then Steve highlighted the challenge for marketers, where we’re fighting the law of supply and demand. Creating demand has become a de facto goal for many marketers, but the problem is in the supply curve—people have a finite amount of hours, and we have a fixed amount of attention.

The demand model many marketers operate with doesn’t account for the new way that buyers access information and how empowered they have become. Today, the buyer has a louder voice than the brand. It is the era of the buyer.

The Problem With Volume

As marketers, our success is hitting a limit—as we bump up against the law of diminishing returns. If an activity is successful, like digital marketing, we invest more and more in it but we’ve reached the point that the volume is overwhelming for our audience. Our engagement over time needs to be more scarce, and frankly more valuable.

It’s not just volume that is making marketing less effective, but the need for a personal relationship with the brand. Volume, unchecked does damage to our brands. You see buyers that opt out not because they dislike the brand, but they dislike the volume. Buyers still want to be marketed to, in fact, they want a real and lasting relationship with brands that get us. We need to embrace that we are no longer able to prescribe the terms of the relationship. We work for the buyer. Go curate the experience for the buyer.

Leading In The Engagement Economy

So how can you effectively engage your buyer? Steve shared that engagement is curating a personalized and meaningful experience and that we need to put all our energy into making our share of the finite buyer attention as meaningful as possible.

We’re spending too much time talking at buyers and not enough time engaging buyers. Engagement is what moves them to choose us. Steve shared that engagement is about value and values. So how can you lead in the Engagement Economy? By following these three rules:

  1. Listen to your audience: Listening across every digital channel is paramount. Investing the time and resources to know your buyers.
  2. Learn: We must as marketers embrace the inner data scientist within us and understand what truly drives lifetime value for customers. It’s time to bring in our own data and learn from that data and change what we do and how we measure.
  3. Inspire: Inspire through engagement. Think about how you’re engaging today. Is every engagement point inspiring?

CMO’s Prepare for the Future

Next, Steve invited a group of executives to join him on stage to share their insights on marketing in the Engagement Economy. The first was a panel led by Jamie Gutfreund, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Wunderman. She introduced Penny Wilson, CMO at Hootsuite, Tracee Nalewak, VP of Customer Experience Marketing at Hakkasaan Engagement Group, and Jeff Wright, VP of Data Analytics and Automation at Autodesk and invited them to discuss how they are adapting to customer expectations, creating memorable moments and shaping their organizations to succeed in the Engagement Economy. Key highlights from our brilliant CMO panel include:

  • “Now it’s time to empower your whole organization. You need to give your whole organization the tools, training, and content to engage with your customers. You can have them really work in social harmony with your customers.”—Penny Wilson
  • “ To be effective means understanding our customers like never before. And data is critical to that. It helps us treat them in a way that is authentic and relevant.”—Jeff Wright
  • “Put the customer at your core—take it to the next level and feed into their experience emotionally…creating relationships drives loyalty.”—Tracee Nalewak

Then, Marketo’s COO Greg Wolfe took the stage with Ariel Kelman, VP of Worldwide Marketing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) to discuss how to create a valuable journey for customers. Ariel shared that the journey AWS creates for prospects and customers is heavy on valuable, educational content and light on gated forms. His goal? “How can we help them [customers] adopt this technology?”, and “How can I make my customers successful and give them opportunities to highlight their success?”

Our next guest was Reggie Aggarwal, the CEO of Cvent, who shared a little bit about leveraging technology to amplify the power of human connection. In the Engagement Economy, events are one of the most effective ways to drive revenue because they help you engage your customers and prospects 1 to 1, and in person. And, nothing beats face to face. The true power of technology in that interaction? It helps events become measurable and shifts them from expenses to an asset.

Our final guest was the CMO of Box, Carrie Palin. Carrie shared insights with the audience about how Box is thinking about the technology stack that will prepare them to engage in the Engagement Economy. She shared that in addition to having Marketo act as the central nervous system of the Box stack, they are trying to deploy the right technology to address their wide range of personas in a targeted and specific way, and bridge the chasm between sales and marketing.

The King of Comedy

Finally, after much anticipation James Corden joined Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas on the stage and, to the delight of the audience, engaged in witty banter with Steve over the faux living room set-up, his presentation advancer, and the Amazon Alexa on stage. Steve asked James about how he thinks about creativity and storytelling, to which James replied that his methodology is less about the individual outputs (the video, the sketch, etc.) but more about, “what does it take to be ahead, or even, around the curve?”

Corden challenged marketers to think about how quickly the world is evolving. From his point of view, it’s a pace that is impossible to keep up. Convention or the status quo is the easy path, but he shared with Steve and the audience that, “The great thing about the internet is that the good rises to the top. If it’s good. People will find it. Chewbacca mom, for example. There is no great marketing person behind that. That’s a wonderful, creative, and freeing place to be if you are in the business of making content.” According to Corden, success in new areas can, “feel very new,” but it’s “actually the same. For example, you look at the rise of eSports (televised professional video game tournaments) but it’s actually the same. It’s not different than why someone would watch golf. To watch someone be extraordinary at something.”

Connection and Relationships

In his presentation- Learn to Speak, Share and Market Human, Bryan Kramer, industry influencer and President and CEO of Pure Matter, shared why it’s important for brands to let their ‘human’ shine through and how they (and you) can do it.

Based on his research, he’s boiled what it means to be human, as a person, and a brand into three traits: 1) Simplicity, 2) Empathy, and 3) Imperfection. And he pointed out that while it’s easy to think of brands that embody one of these elements, it’s fairly hard to find a brand that does all three. But, what it really comes down to is connection. How you connect with a business matters, and has a very tangible impact on how long of a relationship you will have with the service or business. Connection is what drives sharing, and it’s at the core of relationships.

What drives connection and sharing? It turns out that there are a few personas of online sharers (in fact, you can find out what kind you are here) and that ultimately, as a brand, or as a person, you are what you share. So if you want to change the way that people perceive you—you can share something different. But, he cautioned, do it authentically and honestly.

How To Think Like A CMO

Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade, delivered an authentic and humorous presentation on how to think like a CMO.

Neisser authored The CMO’s Periodic Table, which originated from a content marketing and social media strategy he created to boost his company during a tough time in 2008.

To help the audience truly think like a CMO, Neisser helpfully provided the acronym CATS—complete with cute cat pictures—which is outlined below:

  • Courageous: As a CMO, you are held accountable for things that you’re not necessarily responsible for. To deliver, you have to be prepared to take risks. Sir Terry Leahy (who happens to be a British knight) is a perfect example of this. Prior to achieving knighthood, he was CMO of Tesco—the UK’s equivalent of Safeway or Vons. He spent some time trying to one-up the competition instead of doing anything unique or courageous. Then, he decided to take a risk and create a loyalty program that would risk 20% of the company’s revenue if it failed, but have an exponential payoff if it was successful. The risk ended up being well worth it, earning him a CEO title and knighthood.
  • Artful: Since when does B2B have to be boring? Both GE and NASA have used social media to drive engagement with their customer base. GE was the first big B2B companies to engage on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, while NASA transformed their brand through social media, engaging with their fan base through stunningly gorgeous photographs on Instagram.
  • Thoughtful: In a give-to-get economy, we must be mindful of content that delivers value beyond demand generation. Richard Marnell, CMO of Viking River Cruises, executes on this concept by creating fun, shareable content for people who have signed up for a cruise but are not due to depart for anywhere from 6-24 months. Richard created cooking videos featuring food from fabulous Viking River Cruise destinations such as Portugal and France. People who had already booked cruises shared these videos out of excitement for their trips, resulting in their friends signing up for cruises as well.
  • Scientific: The best CMOs know that their revenue metrics must be simple, yet constantly evolving with the changing dynamics in their industry. Antonio Lucio, CMO of Visa, measures reach/recall, usage lift, and brand health. All CMOs also know the importance of repeatedly hypothesizing and testing on relevant KPIs and revenue metrics.

To really let Drew’s message sink in, check out this hilarious video of someone trying to organize their 10 kittens for a photo (spoiler alert: kittens do not cooperate for photos).

Marketing As An Agency

Joe Pulizzi is often called the godfather of content marketing, and it’s for a good reason. He’s championed content marketing both personally through his awesome books, but also through his company, Content Marketing Institute. This year he brought a fresh perspective, imploring marketers to think beyond being a cost center and really become a revenue driver.

Marketers are creating more content than ever before—9 out of 10 companies are doing content marketing—and serving it on more channels than ever before, and unfortunately, they aren’t monetizing it.

Joe’s main point of view? Build an audience, and then monetize your audience. But he didn’t just leave it there, he showed us how to create great content and build an audience and then, using examples from top companies that had successfully made this transition, he showed us how to monetize it. Here are the steps you should follow to ensure you’re creating thoughtful, valuable content that will build a following, and allow you to monetize:

  • Identify a sweet-spot—this is the intersection of knowledge/skill and passion/customer pain point
  • Find a content tilt—identify if you are actually telling a different story. Can your content be differentiated? Do an actual audit and ask yourself and others, “if this was my main competitor would anyone tell the difference if it was us or them?”
  • Create a content marketing mission statement—This should inform everything you do and have three parts: 1) Who’s your core target audience? 2) What will be delivered? 3) What’s the outcome for the audience?
    • Example: Welcome to Digital Photography School—a website with simple tips to help digital camera owners get the most out of their cameras.” Add “audience outcome” for your editorial calendar. You will save time if you focus on the outcome for the audience.
  • Create your base—the base is your content type + main platform + consistent delivery + a long period of time. Sorry to break the news, but Joe shared that success is often an 18-24 month process. Why? It takes time to build a loyal audience. (Yay to Boo scale image)
  • Monetize—there are five direct and five indirect ways to drive revenue. Your marketing should be a direct profit center; it should pay for itself. Start with one way and then diversify whichever other ways you can.

Social Selling

Chief Evangelist & startup advisor, Jill Rowley delivered a crisp and relevant message on the importance of social selling in the Engagement Economy.

Attendees learned a framework for being #CustomerObsessed and #KnowingThyBuyer—and Jill also shared the five pillars of social selling:

  1. From resume to reputation—Do you market yourself on LinkedIn as a ‘quota crusher’ and ‘expert negotiator’? Think again—your buyers don’t want to be sold, but everyone is open to being helped. Before you ask for a withdrawal (i.e. 10 minutes on their calendar), you must make deposits by way of adding value.
  2. ABC—No, not the famous Glengarry Ross scene, but rather always be connecting. Your network is your net worth. Make sure every LinkedIn invite is personalized and relevant. Leverage LinkedIn Sales Navigator to be multi-threaded and find common ground with your pipeline.
  3. Content is currency—Use content as fuel for your social selling. Know what your buyer reads and watches. Don’t just share your company’s content, but be down with OPC (you know me!)—other people’s content.
  4. Social listening for leads—Filter the noise and distraction of social media so that reps are only listening to relevant updates for people in their world & pipeline.
  5. Measure what matters—If you keep measuring the number of sales dials and emails sent in your organization, your reps will keep repeating those same exact behaviors. Instead, sit down with sales management and agree upon a plan to train and invest in your sales team. Sales managers are a force multiplier, and their buy-in is essential to execute a successful social selling program.

With proven performance benefits & ROI of social selling, it is essential that modern sales organizations learn how to create authentic relationships with ideal buyers, optimizing connection while driving revenue for their company. Companies that invest in social selling improve forecast accuracy, total team attainment of quota, & renewal rates, all of which are very important in the subscription economy.

Product Innovation

Cheryl Chavez, GVP Product Management, Marketo, and Matt Zilli, VP Product Marketing, Marketo, closed out Monday’s exciting sessions, drawing cheers from a packed room of marketers as they unveiled Marketo’s exciting new innovations:

1. Platform updates: Big data architecture that’s all about listening.

People are bringing more data into Marketo than ever before. Our new architecture allows for faster execution to succeed in the engagement economy, enabling customers like Politico to deliver a relevant, responsive, and engaging experience at incredible speed — to over 80M customers on Election Night 2016.

2. System monitoring: A fitness tracker for your instance of Marketo—never again wonder what’s under the hood.

System monitoring will allow you to help run campaigns faster and find issues before they happen, including the ability to see Salesforce throughput over time, Smart List performance, and API usage.

3. Analytics: Empower your entire marketing organization with relevant and customizable dashboards. Marketo’s new dashboards will provide:

  • CMO Insights
  • Revenue attribution tied to marketing performance
  • Web insights

This full stack of analytics covers every role, from the everyday marketer to the CMO. Each will have actionable data to use in shaping their marketing strategies.

4. APIs

Get large data sets in and out of Marketo more efficiently with bulk APIs. Whether setting up Marketo for the first time, regularly importing customer data, or exporting Marketo data to your BI tool, you can now get data where it needs to go with ease.

5. Performance statistics: “What’s a good email open rate? Click through rate? Deliverability rate?”

We believe the platform should provide you with a competitive advantage—data that you can’t get anywhere else.

We’ve distilled data from the past five years into key benchmarks, to show you how you’re performing against your peer group and help you optimize for best practices.

6. Ad Bridge

With digital ad spend accounting for roughly 25% of marketers’ budgets, it’s possible to yield significant results with small improvements in ROI & engagement. LinkedIn lead gen forms now sync directly to Marketo. You can also target your audience on LinkedIn with incredibly personalized ads, and keep your ad data fresh with Ad Bridge list sync—automatically syncing Marketo Smart Lists.

7. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Give your sales team the best tools and set them up for success. Account Insights is a browser plugin that surfaces actionable insights to your sales team, so they can work with marketing to engage with accounts effectively. To provide actionable data, we’re also rolling out Auto-Synced Account lists that are in sync whenever changed within your CRM.

8. New UX

A new and personalized My Marketo experience, with a virtual command center for all things Marketo. Add customized widgets to tailor your user experience, then create multiple dashboards and easily switch between them. With updates to UI and functionality from the ground up in key areas such as smart lists, workflows, and nurture programs, this is the coolest and most modern Marketo yet.

Matt and Cheryl emphasized their excitement to deliver these amazing new changes to our customers and prospects and thanks for a being a part of the vibrant Marketing Nation.

And that wraps an amazing day 1 of the Marketing Nation Summit. We’re excited to see what day two brings. Make sure to check back here for a recap of the day two sessions and keynote. Did you hear anything that stuck out to you at Marketing Nation Summit? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.


Live from Marketing Nation Summit: The Engagement Economy, Buyer Empowerment, and Authenticity was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com

The post Live from Marketing Nation Summit: The Engagement Economy, Buyer Empowerment, and Authenticity appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.



from Marketo Marketing Blog http://blog.marketo.com/2017/04/live-from-marketing-nation-summit-the-engagement-economy-buyer-empowerment-and-authenticity.html

The Character Count Guide for Blog Posts, Videos, Tweets & More

ContentLength-compressor.jpg

When it comes to writing text for your blog and social media posts, many marketers wonder, "But what's the character limit?" It's never a simple question -- sometimes, it's answered by parameters established by certain channels. And on other occasions, it's more a question of what's ideal.

For example, you probably know the character limit for a tweet is 140, but did you know that the ideal length is actually less than that? (Hold tight -- we'll explain why.)While we've written before about optimizing your actual content, we thought it would be helpful to gather the numbers of character limits -- both enforced and ideal -- for different online channels, all in one place. New Call-to-action

Below, you'll find a more detailed guide to character limits and ideal character counts for posts on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and YouTube.

The Length & Character Count for Everything on the Internet

1) Blog Posts

1-6nX_PYNpn0Ajc0tardzIkg.png Source: Medium

Quick reference:

  • Post length: 2100 words
  • Title: Under 60 characters
  • Meta Description: Under 155 characters

Post Body

When it comes to the length of blog posts, there are a few different items to consider. For example:

  • According to Medium, posts with an average read time of seven minutes captured the most attention.
  • The average reading speed of native English-speaking adults remains commonly cited as 300 words per minute, according to research conducted in 1990.
  • At that reading rate, the ideal post length is 2100 words.
  • That aligns with research previously conducted by serpIQ, which indicated that, on average, the top 10 results for most Google searches are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

That means that this ideal word count can address goals around both readability and SEO. But that's just the actual body of the post. Plus, when we looked at our own blog on organic traffic, we found that the sweet spot was 2,250–2,500 words.

word-count-vs-organic-traffic.png

But that's just the post body -- let's have a look at the other areas of text that comprise a full blog post.

Title

The length of your title depends on your goals, and where it will appear.

Let's start with SEO. Do you want this post to rank really well in search? It turns out, that often has to do with the dimensions of each entry on a search engine results page (SERP). For Google, titles of search results are usually contained at a length of 600 pixels -- which Moz measures as being able to display the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. So, if you don't want your title to get cut off in the search results, it might be best to keep it under 60 characters. But when in doubt, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo, or you can use Moz's title tag preview tool.

zZnBTOG2Fc-iloveimg-compressed.gif

Then, there's optimizing your title for social sharing. On Twitter, for example, consider that each tweet has a limit of 140 characters -- however, if you include an image, that doesn't count toward the limit. But consider that even the average shortened URL takes up about 23 characters -- that leaves you with about 116 characters left for the title and any accompanying text.

In our own analysis at HubSpot, we found that headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average, while headlines with either 12 or 14 words got the most Facebook Likes.

headline-length-vs-social-shares.png

Meta Description

A meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given webpage. It's the short description you see on a SERP to "preview" what the page is about.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.22.10 PM.png

Moz notes that Google seems to cut off most meta descriptions -- which are sometimes called snippets -- after roughly two lines of text -- though there's some conjecture that, like title tags, it's actually based on pixel count. In any case, it amounts to about 160 characters, though this particular outlet recommends keeping it at 155.

Again, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo.

sejvREM3G7-iloveimg-compressed (1).gif

2) Facebook

Quick reference:

  • Status updates: 63,206-character maximum | Ideal length is 40 characters
  • Video: 120-minute maximum | Ideal length is two minutes

Status Updates

Facebook's character limit on status updates is 63,206. However, that's far from ideal, says HubSpot Social Media Marketing Manager Chelsea Hunersen. "The social gurus will throw around the number 40 characters. That data seems to be backed up by BuzzSumo's ranking of HubSpot's own Facebook Page."

But why 40, specifically? "Ideally," Hunersen says, "you'll want to use the copy in a status update to provide context for whatever you're linking to." That said, she notes, the copy of the status update itself isn't as important as the copy in the meta title or meta description that gets pulled in when you insert a link into your post. That's right -- social media posts have their own meta data too.

"Often, people look at the image of the article and then directly down at the meta title and meta description for context clues," she explains. "A lot of people don't realize you can change those."

Even on Facebook, it's still best to keep your meta title to fewer than 60 characters, and to 155 for meta descriptions. There are some resources available to those familiar with coding that let you play around with social media metadata character counts, like these templates. But unless you're a developer, we recommend keeping it short and sweet.

Video

While Facebook allows a maximum of 120 minutes for videos, we wouldn't advise posting anything that long, unless you're doing a special, social-media-only screening of a full-length film.

According to research conducted by Wistia, two minutes is the "sweet spot" -- even a minute longer than that shows a significant drop in viewership. "Engagement is steady up to [two] minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer's attention as much as a 30-second video, the research reads," so "if you're making short videos, you don't need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under [two] minutes."

b3c077ee5e1cad372628b599fceca8c7717cd4ba.jpg Source: Wistia

However, optimal length can vary depending on the topic. "If you produce something as catchy as BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are putting out there, it can be up to five minutes long," says Hunersen.

Regardless of the length of your video, Hunersen reminds us that all Facebook videos start without sound, meaning users have to make a conscious decision to stop scrolling through their feeds and unmute the video. Facebook videos should be visually compelling from the get-to, make sense without sound, and be engaging enough to encourage the user to stop and watch.

3) Twitter

Quick reference:

  • Tweets: 140-character maximum
    • Does not include images, videos, polls, or quotes tweets
    • Ideal length is 120-130 characters
  • Hashtags: No more than two
  • Videos: Maximum length is two minutes and 20 seconds

Length of Tweets

Marketers everywhere rejoiced when Twitter finally eased up on its character count parameters, and such media as images, videos, and polls, as well as quoted tweets, ceased counting toward its 140-character limit.

Still, the "Quote Tweet" feature remains available, providing even greater character-saving measures. That happens when you press the rotating arrow icon to retweet a post, and then add a comment in the text box provided. You've still got 140 characters all to yourself to comment.

LeiQz3vJLI-iloveimg-compressed.gif 

Ideal Length Overall

Like so much of what we've covered, it seems that when it comes to the overall length of a tweet, aim for short and sweet. (See what we did there?) That's resonated in research conducted by social media scientist Dan Zarrella, who found that tweets with 120-130 characters showed the highest click-through rate (CTR):

Screen-Shot-2013-08-16-at-10.51.12-AM.png Source: Buffer

The same goes for hashtags. While they can technically be any length up to 140 characters, remember that people will want to accompany the hashtag with other copy. Short hashtags are always better. Ideally, your hashtags should be under 11 characters -- shorter if you can.

Also, in a single tweet, stick to one or two hashtags, and definitely don't go over three. Buddy Media found that all tweets with hashtags get double the engagement metrics than tweets without any. But tweets that kept the hashtags to a minimum -- one or two -- have a 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more.

Screen-Shot-2014-04-06-at-6.45.50-AM.png Source: Buffer

Videos

You can post a video on Twitter by importing a video or recording it using the Twitter app. In any case, the maximum video length is two minutes and 20 seconds.

4) LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 1.39.48 PM.png

Profiles

Here's a handy list of some of LinkedIn's most important profile character maximums, according to Andy Foote:

  • Professional headline: 120
  • Summary: 2,000
  • Position title: 100
  • Position description: 2,000 (200 character minimum)
  • Status Update: 600 characters -- however, Foote also notes that, "if you select to also post on Twitter from LinkedIn, only the first 140 characters will show on your Twitter post."

Original Content

With LinkedIn's publishing platform, users can now compose and share original written content with their networks, or publicly. Of course, that comes with its own character counts, according to Foote:

  • Post headline: 100
  • Post body: 40,000

5) Instagram

Quick reference:

  • Bio: 150-character maximum
  • Hashtags: Maximum of 30
  • Captions: Ideal length is under 125 characters

Since Instagram is, first and foremost, a platform for sharing photos and videos, the primary focus is typically your visual content. However, it's always helpful to provide some context, and let users know what they're looking at.

Given that, here are some helpful character counts for the text you include with your visual content:

Captions

While Instagram doesn't seem to specify a maximum total number of caption characters, it does note that, within users' feeds, the caption is cut off after the first three lines. For that reason, it's advised to limit captions to 125 characters. However, don't leave out important information just for the sake of keeping your entire caption visible. Instead, frontload it with crucial details and calls-to-action, leaving any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.

As for Instagram Stories, there doesn't seem to be a ton of detail on character limits there, either. However, because the text overlays the visual content -- which is the focus -- don't obscure too much of the photo or video with a caption.

6) Snapchat

Quick reference:

  • Character limit: 80 per post

Speaking of not obscuring visual content -- that brings us to Snapchat.

Instagram Stories was, many believe, an effort to emulate the features of Snapchat, to create an opportunity for users to share quickly-disappearing photos and videos. And again, because the focus here is on the visual, you'll want to prevent distracting viewers from it with too much text.

According to Teen Vogue, Snapchat's character limit is 80 per post, which is more than double its previous 31-character limit. And, if you're looking for more guidance, just look to this particular app's name, and remember the "snap" element of it -- a word that implies brevity -- and try not to ramble. Here's a great example of how SXSW uses its captions efficiently:

7) YouTube

Here we have yet another network that's focused on visual content, leading some to incorrectly assume that accompanying text -- like titles and descriptions -- don't matter as much.

That's not entirely false -- as a video-hosting platform, YouTube should primarily be used to showcase a brand's quality videos. However, like any other visual content, it needs context. People need to know what they're watching, who it's from, and why it matters.

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't appear to provide any specific parameters over its character counts -- except for your channel description, which according to the official help site is limited to 1,000 characters. But other than that, it seems that the only guideline available is the alert display that lets you know, "Your [title or description] is too long," if you've entered too much text in either of those fields.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 2.57.09 PM-1.png

In this case, we would advise taking the same approach as adding text to support your visuals on Instagram and Snapchat. Like the former, a video's description is cut off after the first line or two, so frontload the most important descriptors and CTAs, leaving extra details for the end.

Show Your Character

As you set out to determine the length of your text, regardless of the platform, remember to do so with the user in mind. Many of these channel-mandated character limits are established for that reason -- to keep audiences from getting bored or overwhelmed.

Like anything else in marketing, however, it's never an exact science, despite the best data. We encourage you to follow these guidelines, but don't be afraid to experiment if they don't always work. Test different amounts of text within your various channels, and keep track of how each post performs. From there, you can make decisions about which types of content, as well as its accompanying titles and descriptions, are the most well-received from your audience.

How do you approach text with different online channels? Let us know in the comments.

This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free social media content calendar template
free social media content calendar template


from HubSpot Marketing Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/character-count-guide

6 Business Challenges Every Small Business Struggles With (And How to Fix Them)

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In the first few years of business, small companies come up against a lot of different challenges. Some are harder than others to overcome -- and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of small businesses fail by the end of their first year. By the end of their fifth year, 50% go under; and by the tenth year, that number rises to 80%.

With survival rates like that, it's easy to understand why folks face the first few years of business with trepidation. But in fact, many common business problems and challenges are actually fixable, from difficulty finding customers, generating leads, and building an email list, all the way to hiring the right people and balancing quality and growth. Many times, you'll find you need to take a step back, take the time to understand the pain points you're feeling, and re-think your strategy.

Here are six challenges every small business faces, along with some tactical advice about how to fix them. (And if one of the challenges you're facing is growing your email lists and generating leads, then be sure to save your seat for our live workshop that's taking place on Thursday, April 27 at 1:00 P.M. EST.)

6 Small Business Problems & How to Fix Them

1) Finding Customers

This first one isn't just a small business problem. The marketers at well-known companies like Apple and Toyota and McDonald's don't just sit around waiting for the leads to come in: Even the biggest, most successful companies have people working hard every single day to find new customers.

But for small businesses that aren't a household name, finding customers can be particularly difficult. For example, there seem to be so many channels you can choose to focus on ... how do you know what to prioritize and where to allocate resources?

How to Fix It:

Finding customers starts with figuring how who your ideal customer actually is. Spraying and praying doesn't work for anybody -- you need to make sure you're spreading the word to the right people.

Craft an idea of what your target customers look like, what they do, where they spend time online by building your buyer personas. (Here are some free buyer persona templates to get you started.) Creating very specific ones can dramatically improve your business results. Once you've built your buyer personas, you can start creating content and getting in front of your target customers in the places they spend time online and with the messages that they care about.

2) Hiring Talented People

Hiring is often one of the biggest challenges for small businesses, especially since small business executives tend to feel under-resourced to begin with. Hiring new employees is a big deal and a complex process, and the cost of onboarding is an average of over $4,000 per new employee for most companies. And if you don't hire well, employee turnover can be very, very expensive.

But, as CEO of 2020 On-site Optometry Howard Bernstein said in our panel on how to start a business, it's impossible to know everything yourself. That's why finding and hiring the right people -- and the people who are really excited about what you're doing -- matters.

How to Fix It:

It’s easy to hire with a short-term mindset: send out a job description, screen applicants, and make a decision. But because of the high costs of hiring right, it's important to invest a significant amount of time in the hiring process. Don’t settle for good employees when you can find great ones, even if it takes longer. It's the great employees that will help your company get to the next level.

Just like you create buyer personas for your customers, create candidate personas for your job candidates. Your personas should be different for each new role that you’re hiring for, but will share some underlying traits around company culture.

Next, take ownership of attracting candidates to your company's brand and make them interested in learning more. This will help you build a recruiting pipeline that will give hiring the same predictability as sales. Then, turn those leads into applicants.

3) Spreading Brand Awareness

It can sometimes seem like today's biggest brands seemed to have popped up out of nowhere. How did they become a household name? How did they grow that quickly? Can your business grow like that, too?

Of course, most of these companies' hard work, failures, and rejections happened behind the scenes. But there are strategies for spreading the word about your brand and building a great reputation that you can start right away.

How to Fix It:

There are many ways to spread brand awareness, but the three I'll touch on here are PR, co-marketing, and blogging.

  • PR: Public relations is less about paying for a spot in a news blog, and more about focusing your voice and finding your place in the market. I recommend reading this great post from FirstRound Capital on what startups and small businesses often get wrong about PR, which also includes some great, tactical tips on how to figure out who's covering your industry, building relationships, and working with reporters. You can also download our free public relations kit to learn how to maximize your public relations efforts with inbound marketing and social media.
  • Co-marketing: Partnering with another brand will help you inherit some of their image and reputation and create brand evangelists outside your circle. It's a fantastic way to gain a large volume of new contacts alongside your organic marketing efforts. You can read our ebook on how to get started with co-marketing for more helpful information.
  • Blogging: Running a consistently high-quality blog will also help you build brand awareness. Not only does a blog help drive traffic to your website and convert that traffic into leads, but it also helps you establish authority in your industry and trust among your prospects. Many people find out about HubSpot because of our blog posts. It'll also help you build an email list, which brings us to our next point ...

4) Building an Email List

As if it isn't hard enough to build an email list, did you know your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every year? That means you have to increase your email list by almost a quarter to just maintain it, never mind grow it. It's the marketing team's job to find ways to constantly add fresh, new email contacts to your lists.

But what many people call "building an email list" is actually buying an email list -- and buying an email list is never a good idea. I repeat: Never a good idea. Not only will your email deliverability and IP reputation be harmed, but it's also a waste of money. If your current strategy is to buy or rent email lists, then it's time to regroup and find better places to put those resources.

How to Fix It:

Instead of buying or renting lists, build opt-in email lists. An opt-in email list is made up of subscribers who voluntarily give you their email address so you can send them emails. One great way to build an opt-in list is by creating great blog content and making it easy for people to subscribe -- which, at the same time, will help you increase your online presence, build up search authority, and create evangelists from your content.

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[Example of a subscribe CTA on Help Scout's blog.]

You can also revive older lists that you think are mostly decayed by creating an engaging opt-in message and sending it to your old list encouraging contacts who wish to re-opt-in and promising to remove all contacts who don't respond.

To learn more strategies and tips, register here for our live workshop on growing your email subscribers.

5) Lead Generation

Another problem most small businesses share is lead generation -- specifically, generating enough leads to keep the sales team happy. If that sounds like you, you're not alone: Only 1 in 10 marketers feel their lead generation campaigns are effective.

But generating leads that are both high quantity and high quality is a marketing team's most important objective. A successful lead generation engine is what turns website visitors into prospective customers and keeps the funnel full of sales prospects while you sleep.

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[Lead generation is part of the "convert" stage of the inbound methodology.]

How to Fix It:

To make the lead generation process work for your business, you need to first optimize your existing website for leads. Your website is the most important tool you have for turning prospects into customers. Look through your website and ask yourself:

  • Do each of your webpages clearly guide visitors to take action, or do they leave them wondering what to do next?
  • Do you use a tool that automatically pulls the submissions from your forms and puts them into your contact database, like HubSpot's free lead generation tool?
  • Are you creating custom landing pages for every single campaign that you run?
  • Do you have lead generation CTAs on each of your blog posts? (Do you have a blog at all?)

Prioritize the most popular pages on your website first. Most businesses have a few, specific pages that bring in the majority of their traffic -- often the homepage, "About" page, "Contact Us" page, and maybe one or two of your most popular blog posts. Read this blog post to learn how to figure out which pages to prioritize, and how to optimize them.

Finally, be sure to take advantage of free lead management software. Affording marketing in general is a big challenge in and of itself, so finding and implementing the most robust free marketing tools can be a game changer. HubSpot Marketing Free, for example, has features like a form-scraping tool that scrapes any pre-existing forms you have on your website and adds those contacts to your existing contact database. It also lets you new pop-ups, hello bars, or slide-ins -- called "lead flows" -- that'll help you turn website visitors into leads immediately.

6) Balancing Quality and Growth

"There's this mix of building scalability early, versus doing what you have to do to get it all done," Nick Rellas, co-founder and CEO of Drizly, told our panel of startup executives about starting his own business.

This is a tricky one, especially since every situation is different. You'll see this problem arise in all areas of business: in product development, in marketing and content creation, in hiring, and so on. For example, many business executives will push growth at all costs. But if you grow your company too quickly, you'll find yourself having to hire quickly. This can overwhelm your experienced team members because it takes a while to train people. And if you don't train people well, it can end up backfiring.

How to Fix It:

Unfortunately, there's no perfect answer here. "Depending where you are in your business' lifecycle," says Rellas, "the scale will tip one way or the other, but I do think you need both at different times."

What it comes down to is not obsessing over every detail, but obsessing over the right details. Obsessing over product perfection, for example, might not be as important as obsessing over customer service. It's better to put your fears aside and launch a product that isn't perfect because you can always update and improve it. After all, once your products are in the hands of your customers, you can learn much more quickly what's working and what isn't.

Obsessing over customer service, however, is worth the extra effort. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos puts it well in his 2016 letter to shareholders: "There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality." ("Day 1" is what he refers to as a period of growth and innovation, whereas "Day 2" is stasis, irrelevance, and slow demise.)

While these are just a few of the many business challenges facing small businesses every day, there are many others out there. Are there other challenges your small business is facing that you want to bring up? Share with us in the comments below -- and don't forget to share your ideas for solutions, too!

email-subscriber-live-workshop



from HubSpot Marketing Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/small-business-challenges

How We Grew Our Organic Traffic by 43% Without Publishing a Single New Blog Post

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Today I’m going to show you how we boosted our organic traffic by 43% over a 3 month period.

The best part is, we did it without publishing any new content, spending any more money on marketing or adding any additional resources to our team.

We call the strategy, The Mission Week, and I will tell you exactly how we do it.

But First, a Little Story ...

I am the founder of small business-focused job board called Proven.

In October of 2015, we made the difficult decision to completely forgo building a sales team and focus all our efforts instead on acquiring customers via content marketing and SEO.

We knew that given the price point of our product, it was not economically viable for us to have people make sales calls. We needed a lower cost solution to bringing in new customers.

This led us to seeking a content marketing and SEO strategy.

Like many companies new to blogging, we rushed into it full steam, cranking out tons of new posts. We started to realize that this was a doomed strategy. We had hundreds of posts, but were barely moving the needle on our overall traffic. We figured we could only get a traffic boost as long as we were creating new content.

In early 2016, we started to learn a lot more about content promotion and link building. This led to a number of content successes, like ranking in the top 5 on Google for the search term"job board", but after a while, this growth started to tail off.

Our content promotion was unfocused, lacked clear goals, and as a result, great pieces of content were not ranking well.

Finally, this all changed when our amazing Director of Marketing, Caileen Kehayas, invented The Mission Week.

What is a Mission Week?

Our Mission Weeks consist of choosing one piece of content that’s under performing and everyone on the team focuses their promotional efforts only on this piece of content.

 We gamify the process by assigning points to different types of promotional activities.

 For example, sending an outreach email might get you 1 point, you can earn 2 points for broken link building and 5 points for writing a guest blog that links to the article. Each person must accumulate 20 points to complete their mission for the week.

Regardless of your role in our company, you can participate. If you aren't comfortable writing articles, you can earn points through outreach emails, discovering linking opportunities or responding to relevant questions on Quora.

As part of the promotion, we will do minor content updates and perhaps update the title and meta tags of the article.

The weekly point goal is small enough that it doesn’t take up so much time that it becomes overwhelming. Team members can easily earn enough points without compromising their regular workloads. 

Involving everyone at Proven -- even those outside of the marketing team -- helps create more dynamic and diverse supporting content. We all have different backgrounds and skill sets, and everyone is focused on promoting the same piece of content. With everyone participating, it’s a great opportunity for team building across different departments.

A Mission Week Case Study

In January 2016 we published an article called How to Interview: The Definitive Guide. After being live for 10 months on our blog, it never cracked the top 10 for Google search results for any high value set of keywords.

We chose this article back in late October as our first Mission Week.

This article now ranks 5th on Google for “how to interview”, and has 49 backlinks from 27 domains.

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 12.57.52 PM.png

So, how did we do it?

Resource Link Building

Each participant was awarded 1 point for an outreach email sent to a site that was linking to similar content. Primarily, we use a resource link building strategy that I wrote about previously.

During this week, each person on the team sent an average of 18.5 outreach emails to sites linking to similar content.

To research 15 to 20 different possible sites and send them an email doesn’t take up too much of a person’s week. However, if someone was left doing all this outreach on their own, it becomes a huge tedious job that eats up a large portion of their week.

Guest Blogging

Each participant was awarded 5 points for writing an article that contained a link to this blog post.

During this week, our team produced 7 related articles that our Director of Marketing helped publish to different sites.

Again, writing one support piece is not too bad, but writing 7 is completely unreasonable for our small team.

Content Updates

We updated the title of the article to How to Interview Job Candidates (The Definitive Guide), because adding brackets to your title can help increase CTR on Google. We also updated the introduction and gave the design of the page a bit of a face lift.

All of these things help to improve CTR, bounce rate and dwell time, which are all ranking factors for Google.

Social Promotion

As part of the mission, we schedule promotion of the article on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. We typically schedule up to 8 tweets for a single article, changing up the text and hashtags we use. If one tweet is performing really well, we will re-use it again and again on different days and different times.

Quora Answers

Each participant was awarded 2 points for finding and answering a relevant Quora question. Although these are no-follow links, it does help to create brand awareness, referral traffic, and authority in the industry.

During the week, we had one team member answer 5 questions on Quora.

Results

As mentioned, this article now ranks 5th on Google and went from delivering close to zero organic traffic to now being one of our top performing pieces.

We’ve seen consistent movement in our Google rankings for every subject of a Mission Week thus far. Following the same process outlined above, we did a Mission Week for this article about job ads.

We now rank 2nd on Google for ”job advertisements” ahead of industry giants like Indeed and CareerBuilder.

Organizing Our Missions

Each week, our marketing director chooses the article with the most SEO potential that is under performing.

She puts together a document outlining the following:

  • Article title
  • Article URL
  • The keywords we are targeting
  • Current rankings for those keywords
  • Suggestions for supporting article topics
  • Search suggestions for finding sites that may link to us

Separately, we track in a shared spreadsheet all the outreach emails we send so that we don’t accidentally email the same person. This is also good for historical reference because it’s sometimes worth revisiting and following up with any outreach emails that get sent.

Transforming The Way We Promote Content

Mission Weeks have completely transformed the way we actively promote our content. Prior to having the Mission Weeks, we used a lot of the same promotional strategies, but it was not focused and many team members didn’t have clearly defined weekly goals to work towards.

Now, every week, everyone knows exactly what they need to accomplish. Marketing, engineering, customer support and the executives of Proven all participate, driving towards the same goal of accumulating 20 points. We brag to one another over Slack when we complete our missions or land a new link, which is typically followed by a barrage of GIFs.

Not only has The Mission Week process grown our organic traffic, it's increased our new customers significantly in a short period of time.

I strongly encourage you to give it a try. You can play with the point system and weekly goal based on the needs and resources of your company.

Would you consider running a Mission Week at your company? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen



from HubSpot Marketing Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-we-grew-our-organic-traffic

7 Steps to Documenting a Content Marketing Strategy That Works

I already know what you’re thinking. You saw the words content marketing and strategy together in the headline and thought, “Oh, cool, another article telling me how important it is to have and actually write down my strategy -- just what I need.”

Don’t worry, that’s not what this is.

You already know that having and documenting your strategy is important because you’ve probably read the same reports and case studies that my team and I have read. But there’s a pretty big difference between knowing you should do something and knowing how to do it -- which might explain why 89 percent of B2B marketers use content, yet only 37 percent have documented strategies.

The marketing team at Influence & Co. spent the last couple months of 2016 carefully researching, planning, and creating a content marketing strategy for this year. What follows is an exploration of exactly which elements our team determined a successful plan must include to drive results, empowering you to create your own documented content strategy.

How to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Part of what makes a documented strategy so powerful is that every person on your team -- from your content creators to your senior-level directors and everyone in between -- can see what, why, and how your company is communicating.

This alignment makes it easier to get buy-in, crowdsource content, and pull employees into the distribution process, and it makes your efforts stronger because it extends your reach beyond the marketing team.

For your strategy to be helpful to your whole company and not just your immediate marketing team members, it has to address a few major questions, like:

  • Why are we utilizing content marketing as a strategy?
  • Who are we trying to reach with our content?
  • What are we hoping to accomplish?
  • How does this fit into our overall marketing strategy?
  • How will we measure success?

If you start with these questions in mind, the actual pieces of your strategy should come easily. In fact, each of the following components of your strategy should help you clearly answer those questions, align your team, and hold you accountable. Here are seven key elements your content marketing strategy must include:

1) Overall Mission

Before you get too far into the weeds, ask yourself, “What’s the real reason we’re investing in content?” And if the answer is anything close to “Well, we just know we should be doing content,” stop immediately and spend more time thinking about why you’re making this critical, valuable, and time-consuming investment in the first place.

If you do have a well-thought-out answer, write it down. Are you preparing to use content so your marketing team can generate leads and attract new customers? Are you trying to build brand awareness and credibility?

No matter your reason for investing in content marketing, it needs to take a prominent place at the beginning of your strategy; that overall mission will guide the rest of your document and keep your team on track when it’s time to execute.

2) Target Audience Personas

You may have included some general ideas about your audience members when you outlined your mission, and while that’s a helpful place to start, it’s not nearly detailed enough to start creating content for them.

Before you craft any content or develop any distribution plan, you have to know who you’re trying to reach. You aren't creating content for the general public, you’re creating it to attract specific individuals who can contribute to your company’s goals.

You need to research and create detailed audience personas. If your personas inform the content you create, your content will do a much better job of speaking to the exact audience you’re targeting.

3) Content Mix Plan

Once you know why you’re creating content and for whom, you can determine what type to create. Depending on what your marketing funnel looks like, you’ll need a couple different types: content that educates and engages prospects at the top of the funnel and encourages them to learn more, as well as content for the bottom of the funnel that answers very specific questions and addresses objections to working with you.

That content can take any number of forms, from guest-contributed articles on online publications to blog posts, white papers, email campaigns, sales enablement materials, and more. What’s especially important here is thinking through the variety of earned, owned, and paid media you’ll need to keep prospects moving through this funnel.

4) Content Creation Process

You could follow each of the above steps exactly and still fall flat on your face when it’s time to actually put pen to paper. Creating content of your own and turning your company leaders into content creators takes time and effort.

So before you dig into executing your content plan, determine which processes, workflows, and resources make the most sense for your team. Perhaps taking advantage of content creation tools will make your job easier, or partnering with an agency to help may be a better solution.

5) Editorial Calendar

Consistency is key in content marketing. It’s your opportunity to build trust with your audience members, nurture them, and become a resource for them. Once you know what kinds of content you need to create, it’s time to develop a calendar or schedule to make sure you deliver.

Your editorial calendar should detail how often you need to publish to keep your audience engaged and when you’ll distribute your published pieces. Mapping out your target deadlines for different pieces will keep your process on track.

6) Distribution Plan

Distribution is all about getting your content to the right people at the right time. That can mean publishing articles in publications your target audience members are already reading, using a paid distribution plan on social to attract readers to your white paper, or simply including your content in your email newsletters.

Your distribution plan should be part of your documented strategy because knowing where and how you plan to distribute your content informs the type of content you create, how often you do it, and which processes you utilize. It’s a key part of your content marketing strategy, so don’t start executing the strategy until you’ve thought it through.

7) ROI Calculator

Remember when you identified your overall mission at the beginning of this document? You need to identify from the beginning how you’re going to measure success with this campaign, and now’s your chance to match metrics to your goals to gauge how well your content is helping to achieve that mission.

Set some benchmarks you want to hit concerning traffic to your website, leads generated, or opportunities created through content, and set up a plan for tracking this using anything from your own modest spreadsheets to a robust software package.

If this documented strategy seems like a lot, that’s because it is. Nobody said that content marketing was simple, but it’s well worth the investment, especially when you set yourself up for success. And with these seven must-have elements detailed in your documented content strategy, your team will be off to a fantastic start.

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from HubSpot Marketing Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/documenting-content-marketing-strategy