Friday, 21 July 2017

How to Get More Followers on Instagram: A Guide to Earning Your First 1,000 Followers

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You might already know that Instagram is a growing channel that lets individuals and businesses alike expand their brand. For businesses especially, it's a way to humanize your brand, recruit future employees, showcase your product and company culture, delight customers, and generate new business.

But here's the deal: Unless you're famous, it's really hard to amass a huge following on Instagram without some hard work.

For the average person or business, growing your following takes time and attention on a daily basis. Luckily, there are a few things you can do right away to collect at least 1,000 quality followers for your personal or professional Instagram account. It's all about knowing where to invest your time and effort -- by customizing your profile, curating excellent content, writing clever copy, using hashtags, and working with influencers and fans to incentivize engagement.

 Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

Let's go through how to gain those first 1,000 followers, from creating a follow-worthy Instagram profile to using contests to staying true to your brand.

How to Get More Followers on Instagram

1) Create and optimize your profile.

2) Designate a content creator.

3) Brush up on your photography and editing skills.

4) Start posting.

5) Curate some of your content.

6) Write delightful, share-worthy captions.

7) Use relevant hashtags.

8) Interact with other users, including your followers.

9) Cross-promote with users who have audiences similar to your own.

10) Run Instagram contests.

11) Share Instagram Stories and live videos.

12) Make your profile easy to find and follow.

1) Create and optimize your profile.

First things first: Customize your Instagram profile to make it look good, tell your potential followers who you are, and give them a reason to follow you.

How? Start by making sure your username is recognizable and easily searchable -- like your business name. If your business name is already taken, try keeping your business name as the first part of your username so that people searching for your business are more likely to come across you. For example, the Australian activewear line Lorna Jane uses the username @lornajaneactive.

(Note: Make sure to add your full business name to the “Name” field in the "Options" section -- the gear button on iOS, or three dots on Android). This will appear under your profile picture and under your username in search.

Next, make sure your profile is public. To make your profile public, open Instagram, open "Options," and make sure "Private Account" is turned off.

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Next, choose a profile picture that's on-brand with your other social networks, like your company logo.

Then, fill your bio with delightful, actionable, and informative information about your brand. Information like this lets people know what you're about and gives them a reason to follow you. Include who you are and what you do, and be sure to add a hint of personality. Here are a few examples for inspiration:

  • @WeWork: "Make a life, not just a living."
  • @Oreo: "See the world through our OREO Wonderfilled lens."
  • @CalifiaFarms: "Crafting, concocting and cold-brewing up a delicious, plant-based future."
  • @Staples: "We make it easy to #MakeMoreHappen"

Next, add a link to your bio to make it easy for people to go straight from Instagram to your website if they want to. The space allotted for URLs is precious real estate because it's the only place within Instagram where you can place a clickable link, so use it wisely. We recommend using a shortened, customized Bitly link to make it more clickable.

Finally, enable notifications so you can see when people share or comment on your photos. This'll let you engage with them more quickly -- just like a lot of companies do on Twitter. To enable notifications, go to "Options" and then "Push Notification Settings." Select "From Everyone" for every category.

A word to the wise: We don't recommend you link your Instagram account to Twitter and Facebook so your Instagram posts are automatically published on those other accounts. Post types are different.

2) Designate a content creator.

Just like there should be one (maybe two) people managing your other social media accounts, there should only be one or two people managing your Instagram account. If possible, choose someone who has experience using a personal Instagram account, and therefore "gets" the platform -- and be sure they know all the handy features Instagram has to offer.

If you work for a large organization, you might find that a lot of people want to have a say in what's posted. That's when an organized request or guidelines document comes in hand. This document should inform people how to request a post on your Instagram account, when, the value of the post, and why.

3) Brush up on your photography and editing skills.

On Instagram, post quality matters. A lot. Your Twitter followers might forgive a few bad tweets, but a bad photo on Instagram is a big no-no. By no means do you have to take a photography course to be a good Instagram poster -- nor do you have to practice for weeks before you start. But you should get familiar with basic photography tips and photo editing apps.

Photography Skills

Since Instagram is a mobile app, chances are, most of the photos you post to Instagram will be taken on your mobile device. That's not just okay; it's expected. While some brands use professional photography for their Instagram photos, most use smartphones -- and that's the vibe that Instagram is meant for, anyway.

Here are some highlights:

  • Focus on one subject at a time.
  • Embrace negative space.
  • Find interesting perspectives.
  • Look for symmetry.
  • Capture small details.
  • Make your followers laugh.

Photo Editing Skills

Instagram has some basic editing capabilities, but oftentimes, they aren't adequate to make a picture really, really great. Most of your photos should go through at least one or two other photo editing apps on your mobile phone before you open them in Instagram for the first time.

4) Start posting.

Once you've created and optimized your profile, have someone manning it, and know a thing or two about phone photography and photo editing, it's time to start posting. It's a good idea to have a solid number of great posts up -- maybe 15 or so -- before you start really engaging people and working down this list. That way, when people visit your profile, they'll see a full screen of photos instead of just a handful, so they know you'll be posting great content regularly.

To start posting on Instagram, first download this social media content calendar template and start planning out your Instagram posts. Over time, you'll want to build up a backlog of photos for times of need, like the weekends or when you go on vacation.

Keep your target persona in mind when you first start planning out your posting schedule, as that can drastically change your posting timing and frequency -- especially if you're targeting an audience in a different time zone. (Download this free template for creating buyer personas if you don't have a few already.)

Optimizing your schedule for your specific audience might take time and experimentation. Our sources found that the very best times to post on Instagram were Mondays and Thursdays at any time except between 3:00–4:00 p.m. for the time zone of your target persona. (For a United States audience, your best bet is to combine Eastern and Central time zones, as they represent almost 80% of the U.S. population. For audiences located outside the U.S., use whichever time zones your target audience uses.)

However, because Instagram is primarily an app for use on mobile devices, users tend to use the network all the time, any time -- although many users engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday. Some businesses have also seen success with posting at 2:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m., and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. Experiment with these to see if they work with your audience.

5) Curate some of your content.

Although it's best to have only one or two people manning your account, one or two people can't be everywhere at once taking photos. What about that fun sushi night the engineers had last night? Or the event your head of sales spoke at earlier this week? There's a whole breadth of content you'll want to post to Instagram, and more often than not, one person won't be able to keep track of it all.

One solution? Create a system where you can curate photos and content from members of your team. There are a few ways to do this. One is to create a specific email address for employees to send their photos, short videos, memes, hyperlapses, and so on. Just encourage people to put a subject line on these emails so you can more easily sort through the photos they're sending. While this doesn't seem like the smoothest way to curate photos, it's actually the easiest for the people sending you photos -- and the easier you can make it for them to send content, the more content you'll get.

If your team shares a Box or Dropbox account, you could also create a shared folder where people can automatically drop their photos and videos. This just makes a few more steps for the people sending you the content, and not everyone might have that app downloaded on their phones. 

6) Write delightful, share-worthy captions.

Photos and videos might be the most important part of your Instagram posts, but captions should never be an afterthought. They're an essential part of your post -- icing on the cake, if you will. Consistently great captions can do wonders for humanizing your brand, winning over followers, and making your content more shareable -- thereby giving you more exposure.

My colleague Ryan Bonnici once told me, for example, that he loves Frank Bod's Instagram account for their captions: "Their witty captions will be your new obsession." On a photo of a gold necklace, @frank_bod's caption read: "I can't give you jewellery, but I can give you the smoothest décolletage to wear it on, babe. #letsbefrank."

The voice is filled with personality -- note the cheeky hashtag #letsbefrank, which often follows captions like this one. Fans of the Frank Bod use that hashtag to post photos of themselves covered in the product like the brand's own models, which is a great way for them to interact with and feel close to the brand.

Another way to increase the shareability of your caption and engage your followers is to ask questions or have some sort of call-to-action in the captions of your photos. For example, you might say, "double-tap if you find this funny" or "share your story in the comments." In the example below, we asked followers to share photos of their desk with the @HubSpot Instagram account for the chance to be featured.


7) Use relevant hashtags.

Let's go back to hashtags for a second. On Instagram, a hashtag ties the conversations of different users who wouldn't already be connected into a single stream. If you use relevant hashtags, your posts will get exposure to a wider audience than the people who already follow you or know about your brand.

The key to using hashtags effectively is to use them smartly and sparingly. Try to limit the number of hashtags per caption to around three. Similarly, don't use "like for like" hashtags, like #like4like or #like4likes. This is a dirty tactic that'll leave you with a whole bunch of low-quality followers.

To find the hashtags your audience might be using, do a little research on relevant hashtags in your niche or industry. The easiest way to do this research is in the Instagram app itself, in the "explore" tab (i.e. the magnifying glass icon). When you search for one hashtag, it'll show you a list of related hashtags at the top of your screen. For example, when I search for #inboundmarketing on Instagram, it shows me relevant hashtags like #marketingdigital, #marketingtips, and so on.

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To help relate to your followers on a personal level, you might consider hopping on hashtag trends like #tbt ("Throwback Thursday"), #MotivationMonday, #TransformationTuesday, or hashtags that are trending at any given time. Here's a post from @HubSpot's account using the #MotivationMonday hashtag:


Once you build up a bit of a following, you can try creating your own hashtags -- like your company name or a slogan that applies to a lot of your photos. This is a great way to build up your brand on the platform and build a more cohesive presence.

8) Interact with other users, including your followers.

Instagram is very much a community, and one great way to get involved in that community is to find people who post pictures that interest you, and follow their accounts and interact with their content. It's the most natural way to draw attention to your own Instagram account while getting your foot in the door in the community, and getting inspiration from others' content.

That does two things for you: For one, when they get the notification that you've followed them, they might check out your account and decide whether or not to follow you. (This is why it's important to have some great content on there before you start reaching out to others.) Secondly, it means you'll be seeing their recent posts in your feed, so you can Like and interact with them if you choose to.

As you build a following, celebrate your followers and show you appreciate them by responding to their comments, and even following them and engaging with their posts.

9) Cross-promote with users who have audiences similar to your own.

Once you build a solid relationship with some of the folks behind these accounts that have a similar audience to your own, you might ask to do some co-promotion on each others' accounts. The more natural and less spammy you can make the content of these cross-promotions -- especially the captions -- the better. It also helps to be picky about them, and don't do them very often.

Below is an example of what that looks like from food blogger @sprinklesforbreakfast and photographer @graymalin, who cross-promoted each others' accounts at about the same time:


10) Run Instagram contests.

Another great way to expand your reach while increasing engagement on your photos is to publish a post promoting a contest, and then ask people to follow your account and Like or comment on the photo in order to enter.

You might add a UGC (User-Generated Content) element to the contest, too, where people post a photo of their own and use a specific hashtag along with following your account. Here's an example of a post from Starbucks promoting a UGC contest on their Instagram account.

11) Share Instagram Stories and live videos.

Instagram has always offered the opportunity to post beautiful, curated photos to represent your brand. However, with the introduction of ephemeral Instagram Stories, brands can also share on-the-fly, behind-the-scenes looks for 24 hours that may not be as polished as a published photo, but give your brand more personality on the platform. One look at Snapchat's explosion in popularity demonstrates that social media users are clearly responding positively to ephemeral photo and video sharing. Instagram Stories let brands engage with users in different ways to cultivate brand loyalty and appeal.

Instagram Stories also lets users share live videos, another content format that's proven to be hugely popular on other social networks. What's unique about live videos on Instagram? They disappear when users stop filming. This authentic, bi-directional experience lets brands share unscripted, raw moments with their audience to incorporate human elements into a social media platform that's highly edited and polished in its traditional use.

How Brands Can Use Instagram Stories

We can't include Instagram Stories in this article (they disappear after 24 hours), but here are a few brands we recommend following to see what they're sharing:

Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl) is a yoga teacher and entrepreneur in Aruba who uses Instagram Stories to document the behind-the-scenes action of building a yoga studio. While her Instagram portfolio features beautiful, professional photos and videos of her in yoga poses, her Stories feature her dog sitting in on staff meetings, her team unwrapping amethyst crystals to decorate her studio, and artists painting the walls. She uses Stories to showcase the other side of her brand to her 2 million followers in an authentic and unpolished way, and to keep her followers apprised of what she does every day (besides yoga, of course).

Dana Shultz (@miniamlistbaker) publishes easy vegan and gluten-free recipes on her blog. Her Stories feature neat how-to videos of her making breakfast and testing out new recipes in her kitchen. The behind-the-scenes aspect of her Stories provide a lot of human context for her blog's brand, and everybody loves a good how-to video.

Casper (@casper) publishes quirky Instagram content to advertise their mattresses -- without overtly doing so. The main theme of their content? Staying in is better than going out (because you can stay in and lay on a comfy Casper mattress, naturally). They've even created a gallery for followers to use as backdrops for their Snapchat and Instagram stories to make it look like they're out at a party, when they're really laying in bed. One of their latest Instagram Stories featured someone watching "The Sopranos" in bed, with the caption: "Who needs plans when you have five more seasons?" This video supports Casper's campaign to stay in bed with a very real look at what millions of people do when they're hanging out at home.

Here are our tips for using Instagram Stories for your brand:

  • Whether it's funny, sad, or unique, be authentic. Your photo gallery is where content can be perfect and polished. Instagram Stories are for the raw, unscripted, and unretouched. Use Stories to share the other side of your brand that followers might not be able to glean elsewhere. Do you have a dog-friendly office? Is your team trying out the Mannequin Challenge? Start filming to showcase the more human side of your brand.
  • Go behind-the-scenes. These are by far our favorite type of content for ephemeral video sharing. Show your followers what goes into the planning of an event or the launching of a product, and make it fun. Your followers want to feel included and in-the-know, and you could use Stories to cultivate a brand loyalty program that only rewards people who check out your content.
  • Go live. Live video is a growing trend across a variety of social media platforms, so if something interesting is happening, start rolling. Whether it's a team birthday party, a staff meeting, or a cute animal, your devoted followers want to see what you're up to every day. Take Stories to the next level by sharing them as they happen (and promoting it on Twitter or Facebook to get followers to tune in). 

Experiment with sharing Stories and live, ephemeral content to attract new followers and to increase engagement with the ones you already have.

12) Make your profile easy to find and follow.

Place a follow button on your homepage, your "About Us" page, and various other places on your website. You can generate a "badge" button that links to your account on Instagram's website here. Just make sure you're logged into the right account when you create it. Here's what one of the badge options looks like:

Instagram

If your brand has brick-and-mortar locations, put out a good ol' print call-to-action letting people know you have an Instagram account and encouraging them to follow you.

Also, be sure to promote your Instagram account on your other social media accounts. Chances are, the folks who already follow you on Facebook and Twitter will also follow you on Instagram without much prodding. Let those followers know you're on Instagram and encourage them to follow you there by including a link to your Instagram account in the bios and posts of those other social media accounts.

So give it a shot: Make a profile and start posting, testing, tweaking, and promoting your account. Garnering a following on Instagram won't happen overnight, but the stronger of a foundation you create on your account in in your niche Instagram community, the higher quality your followers will be.

What other tips do you have for gaining followers and marketing on Instagram? Share with us in the comments.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel



from HubSpot Marketing Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/gain-instagram-followers

What Happens When You Make Gated Content Free?

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Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, chances are, you have an opinion about forms.

Trust us -- they’re not evil. We still use them, and still believe that many marketers should continue to do so, too. But truth be told, the "Should we gate our content?" question has been flying around HubSpot for a few years now. We’ve looked at the topic through various lenses, from SEO, to lead generation, to channel-specific implications.

Click here to download our free guide on how to double your blog traffic and leads.

After all, gated offers tend to provide fairly consistent lead volume and lead-to-customer conversion rates.  

But at the same time, it turned out that we had a lot of landing pages for our offers -- the gates, if you will, that weren’t getting much organic search traffic. We might have been optimizing the landing pages for search, but we weren’t doing the same for the juicy, valuable, in-depth content inside the offer itself.

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We had a lot of questions. Among them:

  • Is locking all that valuable content behind a landing page and disallowing Google from ranking it ultimately hurting us from an SEO standpoint?
  • Are PDFs dying as a format?
  • Is there a way we can get people to convert on our offers when they live directly on a webpage?

Then, we thought, maybe we could find a best-of-both-worlds scenario. Maybe, if we took an SEO-heavy approach to un-gating our content, we would find ourselves with more keyword-optimized indexed pages that could appear in search engine results pages. The idea: a partially un-gated version of the page, where users could scroll to a certain point, and have to fill out a form to "unlock" the rest of the content. That would mean phasing out PDFs, and replacing them with new HTML site pages with offer content optimized for both search and conversions.

And so, we designed an experiment to answer the question: Will the combination of more organic traffic + smarter conversion assets on HTML pages lead to net better organic conversions?

We split this experiment into two parts. Below is an overview of Part I -- stay tuned for Part II.

Does Un-gating Offers Improve SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization?

The Hypothesis and Objective

We hypothesized that, with these variations, Google would have enough content to crawl on these new HTML pages to give it a significant SEO boost -- but that by partially gating the content, we could still generate leads from it.

We were interested to see how the lead volume would change here, which was easy to measure, but we also wanted to know would affect user experience -- which was a little tougher to measure.

So, we had two pillars to the experiment, each with its own sub-hypothesis.

The SEO Test

Hypothesis: We have a lot of offer landing pages that aren't getting much organic search traffic. By un-gating these offers, we'll be able to increase organic search traffic.

Objective: Increase organic search traffic and Google search engine results page (SERP) ranking of offer content.

The Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Test

Hypothesis: If we un-gate offer pages and then gate the content with a on-page form that triggers on scroll, the net conversions will exceed the PDF versions of the pages.

Objective: Increase organic traffic and conversion rate on new site pages to meet or surpass net conversions of original landing pages.

The Experiment

Choosing What to Un-gate

To start, we organized all of HubSpot’s current offers into broader topic categories. Then, we looked at data from each offer to see how much of the following it was generating:

  • Net-new leads
  • Opportunities
  • Customers

That helped us determine which of the offers (and overarching topics) had the greatest impact on revenue. From there, we were able to identify a list of between 20-30 offers that had the highest potential for adaptation from PDF to site pages, and prioritized them based according to SEO performance, SEO potential, and lead-to-customer ratios.

Based on the findings below, we determined that we'd start with the following four topics: blogging, buyer persona, case studies, and lead generation.

First Conversion Topic Cluser Organic Traffic Lead to Opp rate
Blogging HIGH 29%
Buyer Persona HIGH 81%
Case Studies LOW 59%
Lead Generation LOW 62%

We started with four offers:

  • Two with high organic traffic, but low-to-average conversion rates.
  • Two with high lead-to-customer rates and really great content, but that weren't ranking well for search in their original form.

This may seem like too small of a sample for us to truly understand whether retiring PDFs works. That’s why we framed Part I as a "test to refine the test" -- a test that would help us iron out the kinks in our logic before we scaled it.

For each one of these offers, we ran an A/B test.

  • Version A: A completely un-gated version of the page. In this version, there were other conversion opportunities sprinkled throughout the page, including an embedded form at the very bottom for a related offer.
  • Version B: A partially un-gated version of the page, where users start reading the offer, scrolling to a point on the page where the content blurs and they're greeted with an interstitial form, which they’d have to fill out to continue reading the content on the page. Here’s what this ended up looking like:

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Moving From PDF to HTML

After we chose the list of offers to test, we moved the content of each of one from PDF to HTML. The steps we took were as follows:

  1. Assess which keyword(s) the offer's landing page is currently ranking for.
  2. Update/re-write the offer's PDF content so it is fully optimized for those keywords.
  3. Compress any images using TinyPNG to save on page load time (this is an important step for SEO).
  4. Place the optimized content onto a new site page.
  5. Create a new campaign for the site page, to which all URLs on the new page are linked to track clicks/conversions.
  6. Optimize the page for conversion by adding CTAs, with tracking URLs, that we felt fit into the context of what the site visitor is already doing.
  7. Create a B variant of the page, and create new tracking URLs for those site pages, so we could track conversions individually for both versions of the page later.
  8. Choose a secondary offer on a topic related to the one on the page that could be linked to via an embedded form at the very bottom of the fully un-gated page.
  9. Publish the page, and redirect this new URL to the original one to leverage any existing authority the author might have -- then, submit the page to Google to re-crawl.
  10. Wait for statistically significant results.

The Results

The SEO Test

In the end, we were only able to increase organic search traffic and Google SERP ranking to the pages that were already performing well for organic search -- and, therefore, had pre-existing search authority.

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Unfortunately, our fourth offer was redirected without our knowledge, so we weren’t able to collect results during the same time period. When we returned to the Lead Generation Process page results later, we found no positive impact on organic search traffic that we could attribute to un-gating the content.

The Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Test

Truth time: We failed to optimize these pages for conversion to the point where they even came close to matching -- much less surpassing -- the net conversions of the original landing pages.

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What We Learned, and What's Next

When it came to the SEO side of our experiment, it was surprising to us that we were only able to see organic traffic increases from offers that were already doing well in search. From an organic standpoint, then, one might conclude that we should focus on un-gating only the offers that are already generating significant organic traffic, and have pre-existing search authority.

As for the CRO site, clearly, the partial gating template didn’t work for conversions. We decided to apply a fun hashtag to the outcome -- #FailFast -- and conclude that it was time to experiment with other forms of gating and CRO.

Next steps? In order to avoid putting a lot of conversions at risk, the results indicated that we had to conduct our CRO tests on the offer landing pages that we already experimented with -- until we found a conversion method that works well. Once that happened, we could replicate it on other, high-organic-traffic landing pages.

We also saw that, in order to warrant un-gating more pages, we’d have to run a series of CRO tests with the goal of increasing organic conversion rates significantly enough.

These are just some of the things that you can look forward to reading about in Part II -- stay tuned.

Free Download Historical Blog SEO Optimization



from HubSpot Marketing Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/ungated-content-free

Thursday, 20 July 2017

6 Ideas You Can Try Today to Boost Your SaaS Growth and Retention

Growing a wildly successful software as a service (SaaS) business is a game of numbers.

More new customers than canceling customers? You’ll grow.

If not, you’ll stagnate, and the competition will gobble up market share right in front of you.

At the same time, not every new idea for boosting growth and retention will be feasible with the resources you have.

Your product team is busy working on ideas to build a SaaS product that is 10x better than what’s on the market. Your engineering team is building next generation technology that will give a crucial edge of the competition.

It’s not always strategic to pull them off core functions to work on the latest growth idea.

So, while they are busy working on the product, there’s still room for low-cost, easy-to-implement techniques to improve the growth and retention of your SaaS product today.

Think of these ideas as low hanging fruit you can get started on today to see results in the coming months.

1. Call New Prospects Immediately When They Sign Up

This is an idea that I first heard from Steli Efti. He makes the bold claim that if you’re a B2B SaaS startup you need to be calling all your free trial signups within the first 5 minutes.

You might be thinking whether spending time on the phone is a good use of your team’s time. It’s definitively not scalable once you’re getting hundreds of new trials per day.

The benefit is that as an early stage company, every phone call is an opportunity for customer development. Because the person on the other side just went through your marketing funnel, you’ll get feedback on whether your website is performing well.

It can also act as an “early warning system” for poorly targeted ads. You’ll potentially save a lot of money if you realize that your AdWords are attracting the entirely wrong set of audience based on the conversions you’re having with new signups.

The downside is that you’ll have to add a phone number input to your form, which may reduce your sign up rate slightly. You can make it optional so people can self-select whether they want to hear from you via the phone or not.

In my experience, people are generally happy to hear to from you if you call within minutes of signing up to welcome to the service and let them know if they have any questions you’re happy to talk.

The insights you learn from these calls can be turned directly into hypotheses for experiments to run on your SaaS onboarding funnel. For example, you might find out that many of the signups are using a specific piece of legacy software, so you can adjust the funnel to highlight how easy it is to move over to your product.

2. Offer a Weekly Webinar

Some of the best, “stickiest” SaaS products will be become deeply woven into the fabric of your customers’ lives, saving them countless hours or helping them generate more revenue.

But it’s often hard for people to “see” the improvements your product will bring when they are looking at the empty state of your app after they’ve just signed up.

In Elements of User Onboarding, Samuel Hulick refers to this concept as helping your users envision their improvement.

Webinars are an opportunity to give them a glimpse of how your product will look in action after they’ve been fully onboarded.

Once they’ve seen with their own eyes how easy your product makes it to get a specific job done, they’ll have a reason for why they’re going through the hard process of trying something new and investing in learning your product.

At the same time, webinars can be operationally challenging. Live webinars, in particular, pose problems. You’ll need a soundproof studio with someone to keep an eye on the chat box while another person walks people through the product demo.

And then the problems start: the wifi is patchy, your product doesn’t respond as expected while live on air or your mic suddenly stops working.

It’s tough to stay calm on camera!

Therefore, Intercom took a hybrid approach to product demos. They showed pre-recorded demos interspersed with live Q&A and discussion.

They automated the part that could be automated, such as showing how to do a particular job in their app, while they kept that part that couldn’t be automated: live feedback from a product expert.

Personally, I was skeptical when I first heard of this “hybrid” approach, but I decided to give it a whirl.

For the first version, you can use something like Screenflow or Camtasia to quickly record your screen coupled with a decent mic such as the Samson Meteor Mic to get good audio.

I was worried that webinar attendees would be disappointed that the video wasn’t live. However, those fears turned out to be unfounded. In fact, because I could concentrate on the questions coming in via chat, I could give better answers to questions and quickly pull up the relevant documentation to send to them right there.

I’d particularly recommend this approach if you want to offer multiple webinars a week for different time zones.

3. Try Out a Win-Back Offer for Expired Trials

When you first launch your product, users may like your MVP product, but not pull the trigger on moving over to you, just yet. However, as you develop your product into a more fully featured solution, those initial prospects might just be ready to move over.

I’ve noticed that several SaaS providers send out “win back” emails to dormant trial accounts after a year, offering them another 30-day trial while highlighting what’s changed in the meantime.

Here’s an example from Front:

winback email

The great thing about this tactic is that it’s so easy to implement. You can manually pull a list of these accounts every month to start. If the tactic works well for you, you can move to an automated email.

4. Send a Summary of “What Happened This Week in Your SaaS” via Email

I first heard this idea put into words by Patrick McKenzie, a serial SaaS entrepreneur:

Many SaaS products work day in, day out on your behalf. For example, monitoring services such as StatusPage test your services every minute to make sure all services are operating as expected. Other examples include connecting services such as Zapier, which let you link up data from various services.

These services work for you in the background. In best case scenarios, you might not log into these products for months on end.

A monthly “report card” listing what the app did for you each month will clearly demonstrate the value you’re getting from that particular SaaS. In the next financial meetings when ongoing subscriptions are put under a magnifying glass, your customers will be able to defend their monthly subscription to your service to the accountants.

An even better approach is to put a dollar number to the value you provide, as Nickelled does:

summary email from seas company

Depending on what your application does, you can send out emails highlighting number of issues closed, number of conversions tracked or leads generated. The closer you can get to a metric that managers care deeply about, the better this tactic works.

5. Retarget SaaS Trials with Customer Success Content

Retargeting is a powerful way to reach out to your past visitors to get them to come back to visit your site. In fact, there’s nothing right now that can work as well as retargeting (for your non-identified users).

Often, SaaS companies use retargeting to get past visitors back to their site so they sign up.

But you can also use retargeting in a myriad of ways to drive better retention of users.

For instance, you can target people within your free trial period with an ad for your webinar. Facebook Lead adverts make it so easy to sign up to the webinar with pre-filled fields. Just two touches and you are signed up, even on a mobile device.

Facebook lead ad example

Mocked Up Example of a Facebook Lead Generation Ad

Alternatively, you can advertise customer success stories that highlight the type of value that people can expect to get from your product.

Once customers have activated and are paying customers, you can even take retargeting a step further and start targeting customers that look like they might be in danger of churning based on the data you see in Kissmetrics.

You can export a monthly segment of users that are danger of churning and target them with ads on more advanced features they are missing out on or strategies for getting more value from your product.

6. Offer a “Done for You” Data Onboarding Package

Depending on your SaaS, your customers may need to move a lot of data over to your app before they can get started. Particularly if you’re starting out, this roadblock may get in the way of many of your customers using your product.

Offering a “done for them” data onboarding package to new customers can be a way to smooth the path.

In many cases, this data will have to be moved over from one of your competitors. Other times you’ll be faced with a collection of excel sheets, CSV files, or SQL dumps. The result is that you’ll be faced with importing data from a myriad of different software, including custom in-house solutions.

This diversity of data sources makes it difficult to offer an entirely automated import flow that your customers can carry out themselves. Even importing something as “simple” as a CSV file can be fraught with issues, as Patrick McKenzie points out.

Typically, enterprise customers won’t bat an eyelid at paying for this service, whereas an upfront charge can be a barrier for many SMB customers.

Test Out New Ideas On a Regular Basis

Small improvements in your growth rates and churn rates can have a big impact on your bottom line. Each optimization in your funnel results in more customers using your product, more word-of-mouth referrals and higher customer lifetime value. The revenue this generates means you can invest more back into product development and growth, accelerating the growth loop.

Do you have some ideas on how to boost growth and cut churn? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author: Thomas Carney has worked for tech companies in Munich, Paris, and now Berlin. When not on a computer, he’s at CrossFit or trying to brew the perfect coffee with an Aeropress coffee maker. He writes about marketing for SaaS at ThomasCarney.org.



from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/boost-saas-growth-and-retention/

When and Why to Use Landing Pages

Marketers have started to realize that most web pages have a major fault: They’re not designed to win customers. Mostly, they’re distracting, they’re overwhelming, and they’re bad at guiding prospects through the marketing funnel. That’s why many marketers count on a relatively new tool (compared to billboards) to generate leads and make sales—the landing page.

Landing Page Technology: Top Marketers’ Favorite New Tool

According to a report from Aberdeen, the single most popular new technology among top marketers in 2016 was a landing page/conversion optimization software. The tool allows businesses to do two things:

  1. Create targeted landing pages aimed specifically at turning traffic into leads and customers.
  2. Improve the conversion rate of those pages with built-in testing capabilities.

And that’s not that surprising when you consider that marketers face the challenge of turning traffic into leads.And the solution to that problem was uncovered many years ago: more landing pages. Landing pages can act as the solution to that problem because they play a key part in generating traffic and converting it with search ads and they are the leading paid channel for businesses:


Industry leader, Google, highly prioritizes landing page experience, determining whether or not to show your AdWords ads based on the page visitors click through to:

Bing takes landing page experience into account too.

In 2017, to generate traffic through search engines, and to turn that traffic into leads and customers, you have no choice but to offer a high-quality landing page experience.

But, what exactly is a landing page? And how do you offer your prospects and leads a “good experience”?

What Is a Landing Page Really? (Hint: It’s Probably Not What You Think)

Punch this query into Google, and here’s what you’ll see:

But this definition falls short. A landing page isn’t just a “section of a website accessed by clicking a hyperlink on another web page,” and it’s most certainly not a home page.

A landing page is a standalone web page, disconnected from a website’s main navigation, created for the sole purpose of convincing a visitor to take action (to sign up, download, buy, etc.). Here’s an example from Percolate:

Typically, it’s true that many advertisers use their homepage as a landing page. But, not the high-performers.

If you type “marketing automation software” into Google, you’ll likely notice that the paid ads in the coveted first few results don’t direct you to a home page. We found that out of six paid placements on page one, only one sent us to a homepage.

Try it with the query of your choice, and you’ll probably find, as we did, that the majority of paid ads in highly clicked spots direct users to a targeted landing page. And there are two big reasons for that, which I’ll cover in just a minute.

The Difference between Landing Pages and Most Other Web Pages

An “about” page can educate, and a homepage can serve as a launchpad to more information, but that’s rarely enough for the modern consumer.

Now, busy buyers want answers to highly specific questions, and they want them served up on a platter —via their device of choice—immediately.

To grow, a business must be able to appease them. Ads have to entice prospects with solutions to their problems, and landing pages have to offer those solutions with a focused and personalized design.

“Focused and personalized” means:

1. Clear Message Match

Your prospects will have certain expectations after clicking through your ad. On your landing page, you need to meet those expectations; otherwise your visitors will leave in an instant. Let’s look at an example.
This paid ad appeared for the search query “motorcycle accident lawyer”:

Before we show you this ad’s landing page, ask yourself: “What are my expectations for it?”
You’ll probably expect to see content related to a motorcycle accident lawyer since it’s mentioned in the headline of the ad. Right?

Well, you’re directed to this page when you click through:

On it, you’ll see no mention of a motorcycle lawyer. To find out this particular law office represents victims of motorcycle accidents, you’ll have to hunt for the information by clicking the “areas of practice” link at the top of the page.

But today’s internet users won’t do that extra legwork. Instead, they’ll simply hit the back button and click PPC ads until they find something more relevant to their search, like the landing page below, which displays the keywords “motorcycle accident” prominently in the headline:

Here’s a great example from BI Intelligence. First, the ad:

Now, its corresponding landing page:

On it, the BI Intelligence logo is displayed at the top, the headline features the name of the resource, and an image matches the ad creative. This page offers its visitors exactly what they expect. It delivers their resource clearly, without making them hunt for it.

For clear message match, every landing page should:

  • Reflect the branding of the advertisement. Your logo and brand colors should be displayed prominently.
  • Feature the same images as your ad creative.
  • Include the same language as its referrer.

2. A Conversion Ratio Not Exceeding 1:1

When you blog or build a website, internally linking your content is a good practice. It helps SEO, lowers bounce rate, and it improves ease of navigation for your visitors.

What it also does, though, is increase distractions. Every link in your navigation menu, copy, and footer presents visitors with an opportunity to abandon the current page.

Just ask JellyTelly, who boosted conversions by over 100% when they removed links in their navigation menu and footer:

Remember, your landing page has a singular goal: to convert. Distractions like these, or others like competing calls-to-action, offer visitors too many choices of places to click.

Psychological studies have shown that when humans are presented with an abundance of options, we experience a number of negative effects:

  • We delay choosing even if doing so will ultimately harm us.
  • We make worse choices.
  • We achieve less satisfaction from our choice even if it helps us objectively.

Think of the implications as an advertiser. Offering your visitors more than one link to click on your landing page will make them wait to choose, make them choose poorly, and make them less satisfied with their final decision.

Consider the famous study in which researchers set up a display table of jam in a local grocery store. The first day, they offered 24 varieties to shoppers. On the second day, they offered only 6.

By the end of the experiment, the bigger display drew more attention, but it also resulted in 10x fewer sales.

When we apply research like that to our digital marketing, it makes sense that more links to click and more offers to claim can distract visitors to a page. That’s why the “conversion ratio” of your landing page—the ratio of links to conversion goals—should be 1:1.

Provide all the information your visitors need to evaluate your offer and remove distractions to keep them focused on converting.

The only ways off your landing page should be through the link in your CTA button or the “X” in the top corner of the browser window.

Wrapping Up

Traditional web pages, like the homepage or your pricing page, have their purpose. But, that purpose is broader than simply converting visitors.

By directing your prospects to a page full of navigation links and scattered content, you’re bleeding your budget dry. Without a focused landing page featuring message match, your paid campaigns don’t stand a chance at performing to their potential.

If you’re a Marketo user and interested in learning more about how to boost your campaign ROI across all channels, I’d invite you to check out our ebook: Stunning Landing Pages for Marketo in Minutes.

The post When and Why to Use Landing Pages appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.



from Marketo Marketing Blog http://blog.marketo.com/2017/07/use-landing-pages.html

15 of the Best Email Marketing Campaign Examples You've Ever Seen

email-marketing-campaign-examples.jpg

On any given day, most of our email inboxes are flooded with a barrage of automated email newsletters that do little else besides giving us another task to do on our commutes to work -- namely, marking them all as unread without reading, or unsubscribing altogether.

But every now and then, we get a newsletter that's so good, not only do we read it, but we click it, share it, and recommend it to our friends.

Exceptional email marketing campaigns need to be cleverly written to attract attention in busy inboxes. Marketing emails also need to be personalized, filled with interesting graphics, and designed for desktop and mobile devices. And above all, emails must contain a meaningful call-to-action. After all, if brands are taking up subscribers' time -- and inbox space -- with another email, every message must have a point to it.

Click here to download our free ebook featuring 104 email marketing myths, experiments, and inspiration.

You probably receive enough emails as it is, and it's tough to know which newsletters are worth subscribing to, so we've curated a list of some of our favorite examples. Read on to discover some great email campaign examples and what makes them great -- or just skip ahead to the brands you already know and love.

1) charity: water

2) BuzzFeed

3) Uber

4) TheSkimm

5) Mom and Dad Money

6) Poncho

7) Birchbox

8) Postmates

9) Dropbox

10) InVision App

11) Warby Parker

12) Cook Smarts

13) HireVue

14) Paperless Post

15) Stitcher

15 Examples of Effective Email Marketing

1) charity: water

When people talk about email marketing, lots of them forget to mention transactional emails. These are the automated emails you get in your inbox after taking a certain action on a website. This could be anything from filling out a form, to purchasing a product, to updating you on the progress of your order. Often, these are plain text emails that marketers set and forget.

Well, charity: water took an alternate route. Once someone donates to a charity: water project, her money takes a long journey. Most charities don't tell you about that journey at all -- charity: water uses automated emails to show donors how their money is making an impact over time. With the project timeline and accompanying table, you don't even really need to read the email -- you know immediately where you are in the whole process so you can move onto other things in your inbox.

charity-water-email-example

2) BuzzFeed

I already have a soft spot for BuzzFeed content ("21 Puppies so Cute You Will Literally Gasp and Then Probably Cry," anyone?), but that isn't the only reason I fell in love with its emails.

First of all, BuzzFeed has awesome subject lines and preview text. They are always short and punchy -- which fits in perfectly with the rest of BuzzFeed's content. I especially love how the preview text will accompany the subject line. For example, if the subject line is a question, the preview text is the answer. Or if the subject line is a command (like the one below), the preview text seems like the next logical thought right after it:

buzzfeed_inbox

Once you open up an email from BuzzFeed, the copy is equally awesome. Just take a look at that glorious alt text action happening where the images should be. The email still conveys what it is supposed to convey -- and looks great -- whether you use an image or not. That's definitely something to admire.

Without images:

buzzfeed-email-example-1.png?noresize

With images:

buzzfeed-email-example.png?noresize

3) Uber

The beauty of Uber's emails is in their simplicity. Email subscribers are alerted to deals and promotions with emails like the one you see below. We love how brief the initial description is, paired with a very clear call-to-action -- which is perfect for subscribers who are quickly skimming the email. For the people who want to learn more, these are followed by a more detailed (but still pleasingly simple), step-by-step explanation of how the deal works.

We also love how consistent the design of Uber's emails is with its brand. Like its app, website, social media photos, and other parts of the visual branding, the emails are represented by bright colors and geometric patterns. All of its communications and marketing assets tell the brand's story -- and brand consistency is one tactic Uber's nailed in order to gain brand loyalty.

Check out the clever copywriting and email design at work in this example:

uber-email-campaign.jpg

4) TheSkimm

We love TheSkimm's daily newsletter -- especially its clean design and its short, punchy paragraphs. But newsletters aren't TheSkimm's only strength when it comes to email. Check out its subscriber engagement email below, which rewarded fellow marketer Ginny Mineo for being subscribed for two years.

Emails triggered by milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, are fun to get -- who doesn't like to celebrate a special occasion? The beauty of anniversary emails, in particular, is that they don't require subscribers to input any extra data, and they can work for a variety of senders. Plus, the timeframe can be modified based on the business model.

Here, the folks at TheSkimm took it a step further by asking Mineo if she'd like to earn the title of brand ambassador as a loyal subscriber -- which would require her to share the link with ten friends, of course.

the-skimm-email-example.png

5) Mom and Dad Money

Think you know all about the people who are reading your marketing emails? How much of what you "know" about them is based on assumptions? The strongest buyer personas are based on insights you gather from your actual readership, through surveys, interviews, and so on, in addition to the market research. That's exactly what Matt Becker of Mom and Dad Money does -- and he does it very, very well.

Here's an example of an email I once received from this brand. Design-wise, it's nothing special -- but that's the point. It reads just like an email from a friend or colleague asking for a quick favor.

Not only was this initial email great, but his response to my answers was even better: Within a few days of responding to the questionnaire, I received a long and detailed personal email from Matt thanking me for filling out the questionnaire and offering a ton of helpful advice and links to resources specifically catered to my answers. I was very impressed by his business acumen, communication skills, and obvious dedication to his readers.

matt-becker-email-example.png

6) Poncho

Some of the best emails out there pair super simple design with brief, clever copy. When it comes down to it, my daily emails from Poncho -- which sends me customizable weather forecasts each morning -- takes the cake. They're colorful, use delightful images and GIFs, and are very easy to scan. The copy is brief but clever with some great puns, and it aligns perfectly with the brand. Check out the copy near the bottom asking to "hang out outside of email." Hats off to Poncho for using design to better communicate its message.

poncho-email-example.png

7) Birchbox

The subject line of this email from beauty product subscription service Birchbox got my colleague Pam Vaughan clicking. It read: "We Forgot Something in Your February Box!" Of course, if you read the email copy below, Birchbox didn't actually forget to put that discount code in her box -- but it was certainly a clever way to get her attention.

As it turned out, the discount code was actually a bonus promo for Rent the Runway, a dress rental company that likely fits the interest profile of most Birchbox customers -- which certainly didn't disappoint. That's a great co-marketing partnership right there.

birchbox-email-example

8) Postmates

I've gotta say, I'm a sucker for GIFs. They're easy to consume, they catch your eye, and they have an emotional impact -- like the fun GIF in one of Postmates' emails that's not only delightful to watch, but also makes you crave some delicious Chipotle.

You too can use animated GIFs in your marketing to show a fun header, to draw people's eyes to a certain part of the email, or to display your products and services in action. 

chipotle-gif.gif

postmates-email-example.png

9) Dropbox

You might think it'd be hard to love an email from a company whose product you haven't been using. But Dropbox found a way to make its "come back to us!" email cute and funny, thanks to a pair of whimsical cartoons and an emoticon.

Plus, the email was kept short and sweet, to emphasize the message that Dropox didn't want to intrude -- it just wants to remind the recipient that the brand exists, and why it could be helpful. When sending these types of email, you might include an incentive for recipients to come back to using your service, like a limited-time coupon.

dropbox-email-example.png

10) InVision App

Every week, the folks at InVision send a roundup of their best blog content, their favorite design links from the week, and a new opportunity to win a free t-shirt. (Seriously. They give away a new design every week.) They also sometimes have fun survey questions where they crowdsource for their blog. This week's, for example, asked subscribers what they would do if the internet didn't exist.

Not only is InVision's newsletter a great mix of content, but I also love the nice balance between images and text, making it really easy to read and mobile-friendly -- which is especially important, because its newsletters are so long. (Below is just an excerpt, but you can read through the full email here.) We like the clever copy on the call-to-action buttons, too.

invision-email-example.png

11) Warby Parker

What goes better with a new prescription than a new pair of glasses? The folks at Warby Parker made that connection very clear in their email to a friend of mine back in 2014. It's an older email, but it's such a good example of personalized email marketing that I had to include it in here.

The subject line was: "Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring." What a clever email trigger. And you've gotta love the reminder that your prescription needs updating.

Speaking of which, check out the clever co-marketing at the bottom of the email: If you don't know where to go to renew your subscription, the information for an optometrist is right in the email. Now there's no excuse not to shop for new glasses!

warby-parker-email-example

12) Cook Smarts

I've been a huge fan of Cook Smarts' "Weekly Eats" newsletter for a while. The company sends yummy recipes in the form of a meal plan to my inbox every week. But I didn't just include it because of its delicious recipes -- I'm truly a fan of its emails. I especially love the layout: Each email features three distinct sections (one for the menu, one for kitchen how-to's, and one for the tips). That means you don't have to go hunting to find the most interesting part of its blog posts -- you know exactly where to look after an email or two.

I also love Cook Smarts' "Forward to a Friend" call-to-action in the top-right of the email. Emails are super shareable over -- you guessed it -- email, so you should also think about reminding your subscribers to forward your emails to friends, family, or coworkers.

cooksmart-email-example

13) HireVue

"Saying goodbye is never easy to do… So, we thought we’d give you a chance to rethink things". That was the subject of this automated unsubscribe email from HireVue. We love the simple, guilt-free messaging here, from the funny header images to the great call-to-action button copy.

Not only are the design and copy here top-notch, but we applaud the folks at HireVue for sending automated unsubscribe emails in the first place. It's smart to purge your subscriber lists of folks who aren't opening your email lists, because low open rates can seriously hurt email deliverability. 

hirevue-unsubscribe-email-example.png

14) Paperless Post

When you think of "holiday email marketing," your mind might jump straight to Christmas, but there are other holidays sprinkled throughout the rest of the year that you can create campaigns around. (Download these email marketing planning templates to keep yourself organized throughout the year.)

Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear call-to-action that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, "Wait, when is Mother's Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?" Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself -- click on any one of them, and you'll be taken to a purchase page.

paperless-post-email-example

15) Stitcher

As humans, we tend to crave personalized experiences. So when emails appear to be created especially for you, you feel special -- you’re not just getting what everyone else is getting. You might even feel like the company sending you the email knows you in some way, and that it cares about your preferences and making you happy.

That's why I love on-demand podcast/radio show app Stitcher's "Recommended For You" emails. I tend to listen to episodes from the same podcast instead of branching out to new ones. But Stitcher wants me to discover (and subscribe to) all the other awesome content it has -- and I probably wouldn't without this encouragement.

I think this email also makes quite a brilliant use of responsive design. The colors are bright, and it's not too hard to scroll and click -- notice the CTAs are large enough for me to hit with my thumbs. Also, the mobile email actually has features that make sense for recipients who are on their mobile device. Check out the CTA at the bottom of the email, for example: The "Open Stitcher Radio" button prompts the app to open on your phone.

stitcher-email-example?noresize

These are just some of our favorite emails. Don't just follow best practice when it comes to your marketing emails. Every email you send from your work email address also can be optimized to convert. Try out our free email signature generator now, and check out some more of our favorite HubSpot marketing email examples.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Free Download 104 Email Myths



from HubSpot Marketing Blog https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-marketing-examples-list