12 Growth Experts to Follow

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Growth hacking is one of those topics that remains awe-inspiring. There’s still a bit of elusiveness, but everyone wants to get in on it. After all, who doesn’t — whether holistically as a person, or when speaking of a business — want to grow? And while there might be many definitions surrounding the buzzword, we like growth hacker Aaron Ginn’s summation:

A growth hacker is someone whose passion and focus is pushing a metric through use of a testable and scalable methodology.”

This definition emphasizes how much entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals alike can learn from the depth of understanding possessed by growth hackers. It’s their abilities to draw connections between how a company is performing and the actions needed to lead to healthy, rapid growth, that improve performance and set a company up for success. New Call-to-action

But who are these growth experts? Where are they, and how can marketers find their insights and learn how to apply them? And since the term’s become so popular, how do you cut through the noise to find the most applicable expertise?

We’ve rounded up some of the top growth experts who have some of the best content and insights on growth hacking on the web. Following each of them will help you discover actionable strategies and best practices, so you might want to bookmark this page as a directory for future reference.

12 Growth Hacking Experts to Follow

1) Brian Balfour

Founder and CEO, Reforge



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Source: Heavybit

You can count Brian Balfour as another growth expert who cut his teeth in the startup sector. In fact, he’s been known to quote the words of investor Paul Graham: “Startups = Growth.” But here’s where Balfour’s unique skillset and knowledge comes in — not only was he the co-founder of startups like Viximo and Boundless Learning, both of which were acquired, but he also worked in venture capital (VC) as an entrepreneur-in-residence.

In other words, he’s seen both sides of the coin: The startup, and the investor. That experience lent itself to his previous role as VP of growth at HubSpot, as well as his position back in the business driver’s seat as founder and CEO of Reforge, a creator of growth programs. Follow his insights on his blog, Coelevate, or on the Reforge blog.

2) Andrew Chen

Head of Rider Growth, Uber



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Source: StartCon

Say what you will about Uber, but there’s one thing that most of us can agree on: It’s experienced unequivocal brand growth since its 2009 founding. But growth like that needs to be properly scaled, which is when you bring in an expert — like Andrew Chen.

Like Balfour, Chen has worked as both an entrepreneur-in-residence in the VC sector, and independently as what he calls an “entrepreneur-out-of-residence.” In both capacities, however, he focused on growing early-stage businesses, like Barkbox and Tinder, wearing the hats of both a business owner and an investor. The man loves growth — in fact, he even publicly identifies as the “plus one to” Zendesk’s own growth marketing expert, Brianne Kimmel.

Follow Chen’s insights on his website.

3) Sean Ellis

CEO, GrowthHackers



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Source: Popcorn Metrics

It could be said that Sean Ellis was a growth hacker before that term became, well, a thing. In August 2008, he became the “interim growth executive” for Eventbrite — a role that set the tone, it seems, for his career trajectory. Since then, he’s also served in interim growth roles with companies like Dropbox in their earliest stages. In other words, he helped some of the most recognizable names in tech — say it with me — grow.

Formerly the founder and CEO of marketing software company Qualroo, Ellis now has the same title at, quite appropriately, GrowthHackers: A community of resources and experts that “helps teams unlock their company’s full growth potential.” He also shares tips on his blog, Startup Marketing, where he (and we) recommends getting started with this post on “The Startup Pyramid.

4) Nir Eyal

Best-Selling Author, Consultant, and Public Speaker



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Source: Typeform

Nir Eyal’s LinkedIn profile is a visual feast for those who can’t get enough of stories about those who have led emerging companies to profitability and acquisition. It was his experience of that kind with companies like Sunshine Business Development and AdNectar that lent to the expertise that went into his best-selling book, Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products, which answers the question — among others — “How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?”

Aside from the book, Eyal’s tips and insights can be found on his blog. And get this — if you really want to pick his brain, you can even schedule time to chat with Eyal via his website.

5) Noah Kagan

Chief Sumo, Sumo Group



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Source: Sumo.com

Sometimes, we meet people who have done so much in such a short period of time that it forces us to ask, “How many lives have you had?”

That’s what we think when we look at the experience leading up to Noah Kagan’s role as Chief Sumo with the Sumo Group, the maker of tools to help companies grow website traffic. From Facebook to Mint, Kagan has helped to launch and market several products and services.

Kagan’s blog, OkDork, is what he calls a guide to “marketing, business musings, online communities and other things to kill time while you are at work.” But it’s also a community — he invites readers to participate, comment, and exchange thoughts. And, OkDork now houses the podcast he launched in December 2016, “Noah Kagan Presents.”

6) Brianne Kimmel

Growth Marketing, Zendesk



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Source: Twitter

Zendesk is one of those SaaS companies that just keeps killing it, despite a constantly-evolving environment. And that’s a big element in successful growth — having the agility to adapt to a changing market.

Within the walls of Zendesk, the aforementioned Brianne Kimmel oversees the marketing and growth strategies to embolden the company’s conversion. It’s not exactly her first rodeo, either — before her role there, she also contributed to the growth of companies like Hotwire and HotelClub, which is now an Orbitz company. And while we have yet to find a personal blog to host her insights — but, cough, we’d love to see one — she does share her expertise and insights as an instructor with General Assembly.

7) Fareed Mosavat

Senior PM, Growth, Slack



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Source: LinkedIn

It’s probably fair to count Fareed Mosavat as one of those marketers who mastered growth before it became a buzzword. Looking at his work experience, it’s clear that he’s set foot in a number of big-name, early-stage tech companies and led the growth of major products. From RunKeeper to Instacart, Mosavat knows how to take data and use it to build something significant.

When he wrote about his decision to join Slack on his Medium publication — which we highly recommend for thoughts and insights on growth — he credited the company’s deeply ingrained principles of “playfulness, empathy, diversity, and craftsmanship” with its “endless opportunity for meaningful growth and product work.” So he’s not all about data — he’s someone who also places equal importance on a qualitative, cultural approach to growth.

8) Neil Patel

Co-founder, KISSmetrics and Hello Bar



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Source: Pioneers.io

If you work in the digital marketing space in any capacity, chances are, you’ve at least heard of Neil Patel. He is, for lack of a better word, a bit of a growth rockstar. According to his LinkedIn profile, it wasn’t long after graduating from CSU Fullerton that he founded KISSmetrics, which has become one of the leading, most recognizable analytics platforms.

Today, Patel continues to juggle various outlets as a growth expert. He founded Crazy Egg, which creates a website heat map for marketers to observe which sections of a page get the most engagement. Then, there’s Quick Sprout, where he consults and leads an online “university” on growing website traffic — he also maintains a blog there, where he provides tips on conversion, marketing tech, and more.

As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Patel also keeps his own website up and running, where he has yet another blog full of teachable moments, “from ‘aha’ to ‘oh sh[*]t’.” Plus, he’s got a podcast: “Marketing School.

9) Sujan Patel

Co-founder, Web Profits (among many others)



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Source: Infusionsoft

Like everyone else on this list, we imagine that Sujan Patel is rather busy. In addition to his most recent role as the co-founder of growth marketing agency Web Profits, he’s also the co-founder of Mailshake, as well as one of the minds behind LinkTexting.

On top of that, Patel is constantly sharing his ideas and perspectives with the public, both as a regular contributor to Forbes, and through his personal blog. If you’re looking for inspiration, we recommend checking out his roundup of growth marketing underdogs.

10) Eric Peters

Senior Growth Marketing Manager, HubSpot Academy

Many marketers are faced with the lofty task of growing a brand or comprehensive strategy from scratch. They might be part of a newly-created marketing department, or building their own presence as an entrepreneur. And for many of them, the first step toward that growth is taking a free certification course in their HubSpot Academy Learning Center. Eric Peters is responsible for driving growth for HubSpot Academy’s free courses, which come with a suite of free marketing and sales tools to apply to what you’re learning in the HubSpot growth stack.

But he’s no stranger to this kind of growth marketing. Before HubSpot, he was tasked with measuring and optimizing how users flowed through the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company he previously worked for. In other words, it was his job to figure out the monetization part of that user movement — from acquisition, to activation, to upgrades. In the tech realm, it’s a path with which many marketers are familiar, or eventually have to master.

Peters often shares his insights with the public on the HubSpot Academy blog, and in videos like the one below.

11) Rebecca Rosenfelt

Product Manager, Airbnb

According to Crunchbase, Rebecca Rosenfelt arrived at Airbnb when it acquired her company, Inhabit Vacations. It was a brand that looked to provide travelers with truly local tastes, by connecting visitors to certain cities with the people who called it home. Today, Airbnb offers a similar service, by offering users curated experiences in a variety of cities.

It’s all part of Airbnb’s global growth strategy, and its efforts to cultivate a recognizable presence, including internationally, for not just home sharing, but also, a truly local experience anywhere in the world. It makes sense that Rosenfelt was picked as the person to initiate and oversee that growth — not only did she have the travel sector experience, but she also has the business chops, from her early work in global consulting to her ownership of a real-estate-focused magazine.

And while we certainly think of Rosenfelt as an expert, it seems as though she might be a bit modest about it — as far as we can tell, she no longer has a Twitter presence or personal blog. However, she does share her insights through a number of speaking engagements, like this one for Traction Conf:

12) Alex Schultz

VP of Growth, Facebook



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Source: Wired

At this point, we’d like to assume that the folks at Facebook know a thing or two about growth. In the span of 12 years, it’s gone from a small, academic-only online toy, to a publicly-traded, consistently growing media distribution platform. And since 2007, Alex Schultz has been the person in charge of that growth.

But for all the years he’s been with the company, Schulz was no stranger to tech marketing before his tenure at Facebook. He previously managed affiliate marketing in the U.K. for eBay, and in 1996, he’s said to have launched a website, paperairplanes.co.uk, “to help everyone have more fun with paper airplanes.” Take flight, indeed.

Get Growing

At first, growing something like this from scratch might look to be a daunting task that’s successfully executed by only a select few. But as these experts have shown, it can be done — and they’re more than willing to share their knowledge.

Plus, there’s a plethora of quality resources to help you master your growth, from blogs to HubSpot’s growth stack. As a next step, start to formulate a gradual plan, with manageable actions and benchmarks. And fear not — as this list shows, there’s always someone out there who will be willing to help.

Which growth experts would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

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

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Create a SMarketing Service Level Agreement

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At most companies, it can feel like marketing and sales are far from being on the same team. According to the 2017 State of Inbound report, fewer than half of marketers would describe their respective companies’ Sales and Marketing teams as “generally aligned.”

And that’s a problem.

Here at HubSpot, we’re lucky to have a strong, healthy relationship between marketing and sales. Our marketing and sales executives started out on the same team in the company’s earliest days, and that collaboration has trickled down throughout the organization as it continues to grow. But it wasn’t just luck, of course.

That alignment — which we call “Smarketing” — is largely the result of a conscious decision to work together, set goals, and create agreements between both teams.

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One of the most critical steps, it turns out, is creating a service level agreement (SLA). Traditionally, an SLA serves to clearly define exactly what a customer will receive from a service provider.

But we suggest creating a Sales and Marketing SLA: An agreement that details both marketing goals (like number of leads or revenue pipeline) and the sales activities that will follow and support them, like following up on leads qualified by marketing. Both teams use this document as a commitment to support each other, based on concrete, numerical goals. And guess what — 81% of marketers whose companies have this type of SLA have an effective marketing strategy.

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Data from the 2017 State of Inbound Report

But if you don’t have a Sales and Marketing SLA in place, fear not: We’ve outlined four steps to create one below, as well as ways to get started on aligning your sales and marketing teams.

How to Create a Sales & Marketing Service Level Agreement

Aligning Marketing and Sales

Before you begin to draft your SLA, you’ll have to make sure your Sales and Marketing teams are aligned — or, as we put it before, achieve harmonious Smarketing. That’s accomplished in two main parts.

1) Have Marketing commit to a number.

As a marketing department, not only should you have a concrete strategy and reporting goal, but also, you should have a concrete numerical one that aligns with the sales team’s mentality.

Sales professionals are greatly driven by their quotas — the numerical goals that correlate with their compensation and job security. If Marketing commits to a similar, related numerical goal, it shows that the team is being held accountable in a manner similar to Sales.

2) Communicate, celebrate, and address the achievement — or lack thereof.

Maintaining strong communication regarding how each team is performing on goals boosts transparency. If either team isn’t reaching their goals, addressing that confirms their importance, while celebrating hitting those goals can aid motivation.

If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to setting these goals, check out our free Marketing & Sales Lead Goal Calculator, designed to help you determine and track the goals that will eventually become part of your SLA.

How to Make an SLA

1) Calculate the Marketing Figures and Goals

In order to calculate the marketing side of your SLA, you’ll need the following four metrics:

  • Total sales goal (in terms of revenue quota)
  • % of revenue that comes from marketing-generated leads (as opposed to sales-generated ones)
  • Average sales deal size
  • Average lead-to-customer close %

Then, it’s time to do some calculations.

  • Sales quota * % of revenue from marketing-generated leads = Marketing-sourced revenue goal
  • Marketing-sourced revenue goal / average sales deal size = # of customers needed
  • Customers / average lead-to-customer close % = # of leads needed

It might also be a good idea to reevaluate the marketing side of the SLA each month, as a variety of factors can change the numbers used in your calculations over time. To do so, create a document that tracks your SLA calculations by month, which should include the following metrics:

  • # of marketing-generated leads
  • # of those leads that became customers
  • Revenue from those closed customers
  • Total revenue closed that month from marketing-generated leads only
  • Total revenue closed that month

You will also need:

  • The average sales cycle length

With the figures above, you can re-calculate the metrics you started with on a monthly basis, or whatever timeframe is used in your business — quarter, year, etc. Just make sure the same measure of time is used for both Sales and Marketing to maintain alignment. Have a look:

  • # marketing-generated leads that became customers / # marketing-generated leads = lead-to-customer close %
  • Revenue from closed customers / # of marketing-generated leads that became customers = sales deal size
  • Total revenue closed from marketing-generated leads / total revenue closed = % revenue from marketing-generated leads

You could also take it one step further, and incorporate quantity and quality into these metrics. The above calculations provide you with a quantitative volume goal of marketing-generated leads. However, we know that not all leads are created equal, and as a result, some may be considered higher- or lower-quality than others.

For example, a decision-making executive might be a more valuable contact than an intern. If that’s the case, you can do the above analysis for each subset of leads, and set up separate goals for each type/quality level.

Want to take it even further? Measure in terms of value, instead of volume. For example, a CEO may be worth $100, for instance, while a director is $50, a manager is $40, and so on.

2) Calculate the Sales Figures and Goals

The sales side of the SLA should detail the speed and depth of following up with marketing-generated leads. A few years ago, HubSpot enlisted an MBA student’s help in performing an analysis to determine the optimal number and frequency of follow-up attempts for each lead — if you have the time and resources for that, great. But many businesses don’t. According to the InsideSales Fall 2016 ResponseAudit Report:

  • If leads are responded to in fewer than five minutes, the chances of actually contacting them are 100x higher than waiting 30 minutes. On average, only 7.7% of leads are contacted within the first five minutes.
  • In terms of follow-up, “the best practice is 6 phone calls, 3 voicemails, and 3 emails, for a total of 12 touches.”

Not all leads may be fit to send to Sales immediately. Perhaps they need to meet some minimum level of quality, like reaching a certain activity level, which can only take place after being nurtured by Marketing. That’s perfectly fine — as long as your leads get some immediate follow-up.

The first moments after lead conversion are critical in maintaining a relationship with your leads, and either Sales or Marketing should take action to start building that relationship, make nurturing easier, and set up the sales rep for success when she eventually does reach out.

But this advice is futile if you don’t consider the bandwidth of your sales reps. Sure, in a perfect world, they’d make six follow-up attempts for each lead — in reality, though, they may simply not have enough hours in the day to do that. For that reason, you’ll also need to factor in the number of leads each rep is getting (based on the Marketing SLA), how much time they spend on marketing-generated leads versus sales-generated leads, and how much time they have to spend on each one. If you’re looking to conserve time, some of the follow-up — email, in particular — could be automated, so look into options there.

3) Set up Marketing SLA Reporting

Now that you have your SLA goals, it’s time to track your progress against that goal — daily.

To start, graph the goal line. Multiply 1/n — n is the number of days in the month — by your monthly goal. That should determine what portion of your monthly goal you need to achieve each day. You’ll want to graph that cumulatively throughout the month and mark your cumulative actual results on the same chart. We call that a waterfall graph, and it looks something like this:

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4) Set up Sales SLA Reporting

For the Sales SLA reporting, you’ll have two graphs — one monitoring the speed of follow-up, and the other monitoring the depth of follow-up.

To graph the speed of follow up, you’ll need the date/time the lead was presented to sales, and the date/time the lead received her first follow-up. The difference between those two times equals the time it took for Sales to follow up with that particular lead.

Take the averages of lengths of time it took for Sales to follow up with all leads within a particular timeframe — day, week, month — and graph it against the SLA goal.

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To graph the depth of follow-up — e.g., the number of attempts — look specifically at leads that have not been connected with, since the goal of the follow-up is to get a connect. For leads over a certain timeframe that have not gotten a connect, look at the average number of follow-up attempts made, and graph that against the SLA goal.

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And One Last Step

When it comes to what should be in your service level agreement, there’s one final piece: Review these metrics on a daily basis to monitor your progress, and make sure both Sales and Marketing have access to the reports for both sides of the SLA.

This step helps to maintain accountability and transparency and allows for both teams to address issues — or congratulate each other on productive results.

What best practices have you observed in creating a service level agreement within your organization? Let us know in the comments.

To learn more about the transactional email add-on, contact your CSM.

Source: How to Create a SMarketing Service Level Agreement
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 AI Startups We're Keeping an Eye On

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The other day, I was airing some grievances to a friend. The whining topic du jour: artificial intelligence, or AI.

“Every time I hear about it, I think, ‘Sure, that’s cool,’” I said. “But sometimes I wish it would slow down — there’s so much happening there, and so fast.”

“Well, I have bad news for you,” my friend told me. “It’s not going away anytime soon.”

He was right. AI continues to be all the rage in the worlds of both tech and business, and is growing at a lightning-fast pace. At the most recent Google I/O, an entire suite of new AI-related product features were unveiled. Microsoft, meanwhile, launched an entire investment arm dedicated to this type of technology. And as research from CB Insights indicates, in 2016, over 500 AI startups raised roughly $5 billion in funding.

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But which ones are going to stick around?

We thought you might ask that — that’s why we sought out the six that have piqued our greatest interest. We’ve listed them below and summarized what it is that they’re trying to do … and why they’ve got our attention.

6 Artificial Intelligence Startups to Watch

1) Bizible

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What the Company Does

In its earliest days, Bizible’s revenue attribution product provided technology to help its customers better assess spending activity and make better decisions. Now, its new revenue planning product uses machine learning to help B2B marketers plan for every revenue-related scenario. Think: The product crunches the historical revenue attribution data to help predict what GeekWire calls “‘what if’ scenarios — like increasing marketing spend … or reducing event sponsorship budgets.”

Why We’re Paying Attention

We love it when companies examine what they already do best and say something like, “Wait a minute — we can use this information to make something even better.”

In Bizible’s case, that was the marketing expenditure data it already organized and helped customers analyze. The next step, the company decided, was to help marketers make even better use of that data — with the help of intelligent algorithms that predict the results of a given current spending track, and provide budgetary alternatives that address the aforementioned scenarios.

It’s that AI technology, CEO Aaron Bird told GeekWire, that helps marketers “have a good understanding of causality in the past … in order to do a good job of planning the future.”

2) UiPath

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What the Company Does

New-York-based UiPath is known best for its robotic process automation (RPA) technology — the kind that helps to automate what can become tedious business tasks, like data entry. As PYMNTS explains, eliminating the need for human labor on such processes can help “companies save money by offloading these tasks from human contractors.”

Why We’re Paying Attention

To be completely honest — the type of technology being created by UiPath scares us a little. The potential drawback of human job elimination by way of AI continues to be a hotly-contested topic, and while it does make us slightly shake in our boots, we can’t help but be fascinated by the companies that throw their respective hats into that particular automation ring.

But we also find ourselves drawn to the UiPath Academy — a “free of charge, self-led online learning environment where anyone in the world can enroll and train to obtain a UiPath RPA certification.” The point of that certification? Creating more RPA experts that can help companies implement and make the best use of technology like UiPath’s.

From a certain perspective, that could be seen as UiPath’s method of countering the potential job elimination resulting from widespread RPA — by cultivating a population of experts who know how to make the best use of AI within certain organizations.

3) vHive

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What the Company Does

In the B2B realm, most marketers don’t spend a ton of time thinking about how they would make use of a fleet of drones — at least, we don’t. That is, until we learned about vHive: The maker of cloud-based technology for enterprise-level organizations that want to use drones to manage field operations.

Why We’re Paying Attention

Drones are an area of technology that’s seen mixed results over the past decade. Many brands continue to experiment with numerous uses of drones — one of the most interesting cases we’ve come across is telecom company BT using drones to provide internet service in places impacted by war and natural disasters.

But at the same time, few brands seem to be able to truly make it work — some are missing sales estimates, laying off members of their drone teams, or closing up shop altogether. So when we learn about startups in this realm receiving high amounts of funding — vHive secured $2 million from VC and private investment in its first round — it makes us ask, “Okay, so what’s different about this one?” Perhaps it’s the focus on fleet management, or the target audience of enterprise-level companies, but we’re curious to see how this works out.

4) Agolo

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Source: agolo

What the Company Does

Another player in the New York AI field, Agolo’s technology is designed to synthesize and summarize the media most important to professionals in order to do their jobs. Here’s a peek at how it works:

Why We’re Paying Attention

Information overload is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away — at least, not anytime soon. And as bloggers, we often have to monitor a high volume of news about marketing and technology. That’s why intelligent systems like Agolo’s tend to make us positively giddy — they can help us figure out what we need to do, and automatically find and summarize the news that’s going to help us best do our jobs.

But that benefit isn’t limited to bloggers. Marketers from every industry struggle with staying on top of the news and content they need to see in order to remain informed about competition, regulations, and more.

5) Vault

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What the Company Does

Another Israel-based startup, Vault’s technology has a primary focus on the entertainment industry. It uses big data to help professionals in this sector address and resolve both marketing and financial decision-making problems — partially with its box office sales prediction technology.

Why We’re Paying Attention

Even though it’s been a while since I actually visited a movie theatre, I still positively geek out over box office rankings. After all, I’m both a consumer and a marketer, and I like to see the products — software and films alike — that amass an eyebrow-raising audience.

That’s something that makes one of Vault’s products, Deep Audience, so interesting to us — its ability to take the entertainment industry’s media assets, like movie trailers or a script, and apply an algorithm that can analyze who’s going to be drawn to it.

From there, entertainment marketers can make important decisions about how to package and communicate the product to this audience, depending on size, composition, and other factors. Our hope: The Deep Audience becomes available and applicable to marketers within industries beyond entertainment.

6) All Turtles

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What the Company Does

Okay, so we may have cheated a bit on this one. All Turtles is actually a self-described “AI startup studio” that provides guidance and other resources to founders of companies within this sector. The approach, according to its website, is to tackle “one frontier at a time,” starting with AI.

Why We’re Paying Attention

The act of AI startups receiving funding isn’t exactly rare news — after all, that’s how we found out about many of the companies on this list. What intrigues us about this one, however, is that it’s a startup for startups: one that was founded by Phil Libin, who’s held executive roles in both the VC and tech sectors.

That’s a powerful combination of skills and experience. We’re curious to see how it’s applied and carried out in an area of business and technology that, in the grand scheme of things, is still in its earliest stages — but shows no signs of ceasing to grow at full-tilt.

Types of Intelligence

What stands out to us about many of the companies listed here is the potential impact their work could have on a number of populations. Automated business processes, predictions, and fleet management are all very cool — but we’re eager to see how many of these brands develop technologies that will benefit individuals on a personal level. AI certainly has the ability to help professionals do their work more seamlessly. But it could also have a positive impact on, for example, aging populations, by automating in-home assistance that can keep seniors healthy in their homes longer.

In any case — these are just some of the reasons why we’re watching the world of AI unfold.

Which AI startups are you keeping an eye on? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: 6 AI Startups We're Keeping an Eye On
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

22 Writing GIFs All Content Marketers Will Understand

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Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury once said, “I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year.”

While content creation can be a true source of joy for marketers, there are unique challenges that crop up along the way that few others would understand. Whether it’s a creative block, a harsh critique, or an impending deadline, some days can feel like an uphill battle.

Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

Luckily, the highs of writing can more than make up for the lows.

Below are 22 GIFs that accurately sum up the trials and tribulations of content creation. I’ve also included helpful tips and tools for writing success if you do hit those tough moments.

22 Writing GIFs All Content Marketers Will Understand

1) When you realize you need to write an ebook in two days

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Source: Giphy

In the daily content writing grind, it can be hard to get out of the weeds long enough to look ahead at what’s coming up in your queue. You walk in one morning, open your task list, and there it is: a huge project due in less than 48 hours.

To prevent this from happening again, create tasks for yourself to brainstorm and outline content projects a few weeks ahead of the actual due date. You may be capable of writing an ebook in two days (cue applause), but when you build more time into the process, you allow for greater creativity.

2) When the perfect title dawns on you after you’ve already published the post

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Source: OhNoTheyDidnt

You’d think that after writing a 1,000-word blog post, you could come up with one perfect title to lead the way. But sometimes the title can feel like the hardest part of the process.

In order to produce a stellar, attention-grabbing title, make a list of multiple possibilities. They don’t even have to differ greatly — you could swap out the verbs, make it a question, or try different keywords. Then, get some help. Ask for an outside opinion or two to find the title option that resonates the most.

You can even gauge which headline would be most successful with a Simple poll on Slack or a tool like Title Tester. These tools allow you to test title options against your target demographic and quickly make a decision for your blog post.

3) When you’ve been staring at your computer screen for 30 minutes and you’ve only written 12 words

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Source: Giphy

Writing is hard work. And anyone who ever said it was like being struck by lightning wasn’t capturing the whole story.

The reality is, writing is not just hard work — it’s a lot of hard work. There are many moments when you’re going to feel stuck, and at those times, one of the best things you can do is keep your computer safely on its desk and continue to write. Write utter garbage if you have to. That’s still a start. As Nora Roberts puts it, “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank one.”

A quick online search for content writing prompts yields a number of ideas if you’re unsure where to start. You can also look to your favorite publications for inspiration. Consider how you might use what these sites have written as fodder for your own content.

4) When you strike gold in a brainstorm session

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Source: Imgur

Is there anything quite like a productive brainstorm? Ideas fly left and right, and then you have it — the moment all writers remember forever — a breakthrough. The golden nugget that straightens out whatever you were working on.

To have more breakthroughs more often, consider what works well for you in a productive brainstorm session. Is it group dialogue? Is it talking through things out loud? Is it having a safe space to feel like anything goes? Whatever works well — identify it, rinse, and repeat.

5) When a misspelled keyword is more popular than the correct version

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Source: Giphy

The people want what the people want. But when a quirk like this interferes with your blog’s editorial style, it’s best to just take the high road. Keep to your standard, and you’ll appear more consistent and reap more rewards than you would have from following the crowd.

6) When you first open your editor’s feedback

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Source: YouTube

When you first receive them, edits can seem utterly terrifying. They’re everywhere. Your document is a different color altogether. Did anything survive?

Take a deep breath. If you’re lucky, your editor not only provides inline edits, but they also leave comments to explain their thinking. Rather than click through everything and blindly accept their suggestions, take a moment to absorb the reasoning behind the changes so you know what you can work on the next time around.

Luckily, there are several free editing tools available so writers can catch more mistakes. Try running your drafts through Grammarly or Hemingway App to make sure your writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct.

7) When all of the best data is several years old

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Source: Giphy

It’s an amazing, perfect, wonderful statistic that completely validates your blog post’s thesis. But, it’s four years old. In today’s day and age, four years can seem like a century ago. Things move so quickly that what was useful data a couple of years ago is now likely obsolete.

If there’s truly nothing else out there, use the statistic but call out the date in your writing, suggest further research be done to validate the claim today, and let readers know why you think it’s still useful to note.

8) When you have coffee for lunch

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Source: Giphy

If you’re like most writers, a solid portion of your belongings is coffee-stained. But that’s okay. It’s a simple testament to the obsession that fuels your creative genius.

While coffee can feel like the answer, it shouldn’t be the only answer to your lunch dilemma. Remember, you’ll perform best when you take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating healthy foods, drinking water, and getting plenty of sleep, too.

9) When structural edits force you to reorder your footnotes

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Source: TV Land

If you’re not careful, sorting through footnotes can get messy, and fast. Moving around entire paragraphs or chapters can quickly get overwhelming as you try to keep everything in order.

To keep it all straight, wait to write your footnotes until your final draft. Include hyperlinks in the text to indicate the information has to be cited, but don’t actually give it a number until the very end. This way, if you move things around, you won’t have to completely start over.

10) When someone in another department underestimates how long research takes

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Source: ABC Network

“Can you have that article on the history of payment processors to me by the end of the day, or will it take a bit longer?”

Not everyone will always understand what it takes to put together something that’s not only well-written, but well-researched, too. When you come up against this, insist on quality and give a realistic estimate. Let your colleague know that the extra time will ensure the piece is as good as it can be.

11) When Microsoft Word freezes and you lose 2 hours of work

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Source: Reddit

For those who need extra help avoiding lost work, try writing in Google Docs or Dropbox Paper. There, your piece is automatically saved when you’re working online. You can also update your settings and have your documents sync to your computer, giving you the option to edit when your computer is offline as well.

12) When your post blows up and gets all of the page views

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Source: Reddit

While some posts can feel like a swing and a miss, the home runs provide a big refuel for our writing energy.

To better understand why one post goes viral and another doesn’t, build time into your process for regular analysis. This way, you can learn from the ups and downs and apply it moving forward. Tools like BuzzSumo can help you figure out where you’re succeeding and how to replicate it.

13) When you spend half the day hunting for the right stock photo

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Source: Reddit

When you’re trying to find something that represents your topic well, is eye-catching, and is something you haven’t used before, it can feel like a pretty tall order.

If you have the resources and time, try enlisting the help of your design team whenever possible. Is your piece an opportunity for a custom image? Is there something specific they could help you look for to save time? If not, check out sites like Pexels or StockSnap.io for regularly updated, free image banks.

14) When you don’t want anyone to talk to you until your post is finished

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Source: Giphy

Between instant messaging, social media, email, your phone, and your deskmates, it can feel impossible to have a few hours of uninterrupted time to dedicate to a task.

When you really need to focus, zip your phone up into your bag and let your coworkers know you’ll be offline for a period of time. If anything mission critical happens, they can feel free to grab you. Otherwise, you’re not to be disturbed.

Worried you might still get sidetracked? Check out productivity tools like FocalFilter and StayFocusd to block certain distracting websites for set periods of time.

15) When something you loved writing doesn’t perform well

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Source: Reddit

“It’s fine.”

Actually, it’s probably not. Writing is personal. Whether you’re crafting a personal blog entry or a data-driven report, you put your personal energy and ideas into your work.

When you pour your heart and soul into something and it doesn’t perform well, consider what led to the results. Is there a more appropriate platform where you could publish the piece? Did your promotion methods fall flat? Does it need another round of edits? If you believe the piece adds value and has the potential for more, optimize it rather than scrapping it altogether.

16) When you write 1,000 words in an hour

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Source: Giphy

Whether you have a burst of creativity or are simply motivated by an approaching deadline, sometimes you just dial in and go. While fast writing can be a little sloppy, it can produce some of your best work, too.

For prime productivity, quiet your inner editor and give yourself the freedom to write less-than-perfect content. When you grant yourself this flexibility, you can write uninterrupted, knowing you’ll come back for clean-up later.

Some writing software, like Scrivener, have a “full screen” mode that allows you to block off everything else on your desktop. To make your writing sessions feel urgent, try setting a timer on your phone and writing in sprints. Challenge yourself to write 100 words in 10 minutes, and see where it takes you.

17) When your editor asks you to rewrite a post

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Source: Imgur

While many writers struggle to scrap their work, starting from scratch can be a healthy exercise if you’re struggling with a piece.

Consider the fact that everything you’ve already written lives in your head. Although you’re taking a step back and setting your first attempt aside, your second stab at it isn’t the same as “starting over.” You’ve already learned a great deal from your first draft that will power you through the second.

18) When your pitch gets accepted by another publication

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Source: Giphy

The pitch process can be lengthy and disheartening. As corny as it sounds, the key is not to give up. Set reminders for yourself to follow up on submissions. When you’re denied, ask for feedback. Not everyone will take the time to give it to you, but the few who reply may provide valuable insight.

19) When you receive an angry comment on your post

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Source: waywaw

Haters gonna hate, but don’t let it get you down. One of the beautiful things about writing is you’re often taking a stance. You identify a claim and support it with thoughtful points and evidence. When someone refutes your claim respectfully, it’s an opportunity for dialogue.

However, not all comments are respectful. Choose to take the high road and keep a level head when replying, if you acknowledge the comment at all.

20) When a major influencer tweets your blog post

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Source: Giphy

Through the power of Twitter, any one of your posts has the chance to get picked up and shared by a major influencer.

To improve your chances, take a few moments to develop a promotional strategy for each of your pieces. One tactic could include tweeting your content out to influencers and letting them know why you thought to send it to them. You could also use ClickToTweet to create tweetable links of memorable quotes readers can easily share.

21) When it takes forever to hear back about your guest blog pitch

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Source: Giphy

Sometimes it takes a while to hear back. A long while.

If you don’t hear back — even for months — it doesn’t mean it’s over.

Regularly check in to confirm your submission was received, and to inquire if there is any additional information you can provide.

22) When your family posts your work on social media

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Source: Reddit

At times, you may feel like your work is unappreciated. When you’re grinding away at your daily tasks and producing quality work, you may find yourself becoming a bit numb to the process and what you’re writing.

To keep a pep in your step about your work, take the time to share it with others outside of your field. It might sound self-involved, but sometimes a little pat on the back can be all it takes to re-inspire you.

Whenever you face a challenge in your writing process, be sure to take stock and figure out the root of it. An issue is often a sign that something needs to change in order for you to move forward. For example, if you’re not feeling creative, that might be a sign that you need to take more time to feel inspired. Take a walk, read for fun, or ask someone to share what they’re working on to re-ignite your creative flame.

Whatever your struggle, as a writer, you can rest assured you’re not alone. What are the easiest and hardest parts of your writing process? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Real-Life Artificial Intelligence Movie: 5 Futuristic Film Examples That Have Become a Reality

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I’ll be honest. For someone who writes about artificial intelligence as much as I do, I’m a bit behind on my knowledge of science fiction. As much as my father implored, I could never quite build an enthusiasm for Star Trek. And to the lament of many ex-boyfriends, I was never exactly a Star Wars enthusiast, either. But lately, that’s been changing. My interest in movies about robots has piqued. My guess: It has something to do with many elements of these films permeating our real lives.

Science fiction, as a film genre, has technically been around since the era of silent movies — the 1902 short Voyage Dans La Lune (translation: A Trip to the Moon) is a prime example. But as real-life science progressed, so did that invented by authors, screenwriters, and filmmakers. We went from merely imagining travel to the moon in the previous example, to inventing a world in which someone can fall in love with an artificially intelligent voice with no face or body, like in the 2013 film HerNew Call-to-action

But when it comes to artificial intelligence, there are some movies that are starting to eerily come to life as the science realm is getting better and better at inventing consumable technology that’s, at times, remarkably similar to the kind seen in these films. We picked out the five that stand out most to us, and which of today’s AI technologies best match them.

5 Artificial Intelligence Movies That Have Become a Reality

1) Forbidden Planet

Fiction: Robby the Robot

I won’t lie — there are several moments throughout the week when I think to myself, “I could really go for a donut right now.” It conjures images of the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, in which the Robby the Robot character prepares a meal of donuts for a group of space travelers. How convenient.

Reality: Robochef

In the movie, the robot is able to do that after being “fed” a sample of the food, which is analyzed in an internal lab and can then reproduce. And while today’s real-life cooking chef doesn’t exactly emulate that science, it comes close. The robochef depicted in the video below memorizes human actions by recording the movements of an actual chef via three-dimensional camera, and translates them “into highly precise movements,” according to IFLScience.

2) 2001: A Space Odyssey

Fiction: HAL 9000

The HAL 9000 — or as its peers refer to it, simply “Hal” — is a portrayal of a nightmare artificial intelligence scenario. Basically, a space crew that was merely supposed to be assisted by Hal ends up being outsmarted by it, as per the clip below.

Reality: Siri

It’s hard to imagine that an army of Siris alone could overtake the human race — in fact, she might even be considered a more primitive version of Hal. But like her fictional counterpart, she can engage with humans on a conversational level. And, her snark often matches Hal’s — just look at her response when you ask her an innocent math question.

3) WALL-E

Fiction: WALL-E

This film is named for its hero and main character: A tiny robot named WALL-E. Left all alone on Earth after all humans have abandoned the planet, this artificially intelligent being spends his days essentially cleaning up after what was left behind on the planet, which explains why his name stands for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class.” He can see, he can sigh, and he can even befriend a cockroach, which — quite fittingly — he names Hal.

Reality: Cozmo

In the summer of 2016, it was announced that the Anki company would release Cozmo: “A real-life robot like you’ve only seen in movies,” the product description reads, “with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out.” Like WALL-E, Cozmo goes through the process of waking up and starting its day, and even shows signs of emotion — like when it gets knocked on its side and begins to emulate frustrated behavior. But don’t feel bad. It also exhibits signs of happiness while playing games.

4) Back to the Future Part II

Fiction: Video Chat, News Drones, and More

It seems that there were so many (at least somewhat) accurate predictions made in Back to the Future Part II, it’s hard to fit them all into a short description. But some of the more notable ones include a video call that the protagonist, Marty, receives from his boss during a flash-forward — something that, at the time of the movie’s release, wasn’t a commodity like it is today with platforms like Skype and FaceTime.

But our favorite scene might be the one with a futuristic, hovering USA Today camera that captured images and footage for the news — without human operation.

Source: Flite Test

Reality: USA Today Drone

USA Today decided that a legacy like this one was too good to not take advantage of it, so the news outlet commissioned the engineers at FliteTest to create a real-life, branded news drone. The result, while still in a somewhat primitive form, was a fully-built news drone complete with flight and 360° video recording capabilities.

5) Ex Machina

Fiction: Ava

There’s quite an extensive history of efforts to build artificially intelligent devices or creatures that can can engage with humans on an emotional level. It began with a computerized chatbot — the 1951 Turing Test, a.k.a., the Imitation Game — which was designed to respond to human inquiries with equally human language. And since then, there have been many fictional representations of eerily life-like (and intelligent) robots that stir deep attachments in their human counterparts. That’s been central to the plotline of movies like the aforementioned Her and, as seen below, Ex Machina.

Reality: Pepper

World, meet Pepper: One of the latest artificial intelligence products from SoftBank Robotics. It almost feels wrong to refer to Pepper as a product, since it’s programmed to interact with humans like, well, another human — so much so that it’s been “adopted” by several families in Japan.

What really sets Pepper apart is its ability to interpret human emotions, and conversationally respond in kind. Some might argue, though, that this robot hardly interacts exactly like a human, since there’s a lag between the human’s question and Pepper’s response during which the input has to be analyzed. Still, unlike many of today’s similar devices, Pepper can shake the hands of new people it meets, answer questions, and offer hugs. As the saying goes — we’re getting there.

Get Real

Of course, some of these examples are coming to life more identically to their fictional counterparts than others — the USA Today instance, for example, is pretty similar.

But when you consider that some of these films were released as recently as 2015, and we’ve come even closer to emulating its featured technologies in the short period of time that’s passed since then, we have little doubt that even the most spectacular of AI inventions will come to fruition. And as reality becomes more remarkable — we can’t wait to see what the SciFi world invents next.

Which AI movies would you like to see come true? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

7 Creative Stunts People Used to Land Their Marketing Dream Jobs

If you want a creative job in a competitive industry, sometimes the traditional resume and cover letter combo just doesn’t cut it.

To get the attention of a hiring manager at a top agency, you’ll need something that highlights your assets, proves your intense interest in the agency, and differentiates you from a crowd of people trying to do the exact same thing — all without seeming too over-the-top, gimmicky, or creepy.

No sweat, right? 

For your inspiration and amusement, we’ve put together a list of seven creative approaches used by real job seekers in the marketing and advertising industries. While flashy stunts alone aren’t likely to land you the job, they just might help you get your foot in the door. Check out the marketing stunts below.

7 Creative Stunts People Used to Land Their Marketing Dream Jobs

1) Pretending to be a Prospective Client

August Laustsen, a young art director from Denmark seeking an agency gig in Sweden, was having difficulty landing an interview. Despite sending his resume to all the big agencies in Stockholm, he couldn’t seem to even get a call back. Instead of throwing in the towel, Lausten devised a sneaky and brilliant way to get some agency attention.

The thing is, when you’re looking for a job in another country, it’s impossible to get through if you don’t have any connections,” Lausten said to Adweek. “None of the CDs [creative directors] knew me, or any of the work that I had done, so I knew I had to take it a step further to get their attention.”

Lausten contacted a number of Swedish agencies pretending to be the marketing director of a firm looking to hire a new agency. He called his fictional firm EMERIH (Yep, that’s “Hire Me” spelled backwards), and set up a website revealing his true intentions as a job seeker.

So did the fake prospect stunt work out? Agencies received Lausten’s bold move “very positively,” and according to his website, he’s now employed as an art director at Round&Round in Stockholm. 



Image Credit: August Lausten

2) Brewing a Custom Beer Resume

If there was ever a foolproof formula for ensuring your resume doesn’t end up at the bottom of the pile, it’s probably this:

Resume + Beer = “Resum-ale” 

Looking to start his job search off with something memorable (and tasty), graphic designer Brennan Gleason decided to brew up a custom beer and design the packaging himself. Each bottle in the four-pack was printed with a portion of his resume, as well as a QR-code to view his full resume online.

“As I was nearing the end of University, the time approached where I needed to start getting my name out there,” Gleason wrote on Behance. “I wanted a resume that would both show off my work, but more importantly who I was and what I loved. I brewed up a nice Blonde Ale, and while that was fermenting I set out to create a packaging design that would reflect my personal identity.”

According to his Dribble account, Gleason currently works for Vancouver-based agency Domain7



Image Credit: Brennan Gleason

3) Personally Delivering Donuts

When 25-year-old Lithuanian marketer Lukas Yla moved to San Francisco, he knew he’d have to do something unconventional to break into the extremely competitive marketing and tech scene.

His solution? Dress up as a Postmates delivery courier to personally deliver donuts to the companies he admired — with his resume attached, of course. In October 2016, Yla made over 40 donut deliveries across the Bay Area, dropping off treat-filled boxes emblazoned with some catchy copy: “Most resumes end up in the trash. Mine — in your belly.”

Yla admits the sugary stunt was “a bit odd,” but it ended up earning Yla some much-deserved viral attention . More importantly, the move scored Yla multiple interviews (although according to his LinkedIn he’s still on the search for the perfect marketing gig). 



Image via Adweek

4) Buying a Billboard

After Pasha Stocking was laid off from her job as a marketing and sales director in Connecticut back in 2009, she took all the usual steps to find a new job: sending resumes to prospective employers, going to job fairs, and even registering with temp agencies. After toughing it out in a harsh job market for eight months without any big leads, she knew it was time for something big.

Stocking took $2000 out of her savings and purchased a massive billboard overlooking a busy highway in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She kept everything straightforward and uncomplicated: just a picture of herself, a link to her website, and copy that plainly spelled out her ultimate objective — “HIRE ME!”

While the billboard didn’t end up getting Stocking any offers she seriously considered, it did lead her to start her own print advertising company, specializing in — you guessed it — billboards.



Image Credit: The New York Times

5) Hacking the Agency’s File-Sharing System to Deliver a Resume

As the Chief Creative Officer at 72andSunny, Glenn Cole has witnessed his fair share of stunts from eager agency job seekers. But what has really stood out to him over the years?

“I’ve had a couple of people hack personal accounts to get my attention, which I find really clever,” Cold told Fast Company. In one instance, a prospective candidate hacked the agency’s internal file-sharing service and sent an email containing their resume to every creative director at 72andSunny. The email appeared to be sent from Cole himself.

While the bid for attention impressed Cole, the candidate ultimately wasn’t offered a job (although Cole says they’re still on the agency’s radar for future positions). 

Disclaimer: We don’t recommend hacking a prospective employer to get attention.



6) Writing a “Hire Me” Song

With a Marketing degree from Bentley University and several unpaid internships under his belt, Alec Biedrzycki still wasn’t getting job offers in his field. So he picked up his guitar and wrote a song about it.

“Hire Me” is a three-minute music video Biedrzycki created back in 2009 to use in place of a traditional resume and cover letter. While alternative video resumes are more common today, they were still relatively unheard of when he started sending his song out to employers.

Did the video really help Biedrzycki break into the industry? “I … was jobless and discouraged post-graduation due to the 2008 market crash,” Biedrzycki said. “My career didn’t really start until I launched this in 2009. Connections were made, interviews were set up and I eventually landed a job at an agency later that year. Launching this made me feel like I could pursue a career in marketing, even if the odds were against me.”

Today, Biedrzycki is a Principal Tech Partner Marketing Manager at HubSpot. 

7) Buying Google Ads for Advertising Executives’ Names

When Alec Brownstein was searching for a new job in 2010, he stumbled upon an unlikely opportunity for self-promotion. 

“I was doing a little bit of research on who I wanted to work for, and of course I was using Google, and I noticed when I Googled their names, that there were no sponsored links at the top, no ads there,” Brownstein said to CBS News. “And as someone who Googles myself sort of embarrassingly frequently, I realized if someone were to put someone at the top of my result, I would notice it.”

So Brownstein went ahead and purchased the top result for “Ian Reichenthal,” a creative director at Young and Rubicam. It cost him 15 cents. 

Sure enough, Reichenthal saw the ad after Googling himself, called Brownstein, and ended up hiring him



Image Credit: Alec Brownstein via YouTube
 

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How Do Consumers Really Feel About 2017’s Digital Trends? [Infographic]

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As we approach the year’s second quarter, Google is already returning over 46,600 results for “digital trends 2017.” And if you’re in the digital marketing space, there seems to be an unspoken rule that you must always have an opinion on what the key trends will be for the year ahead.

But could it be that we’re all stuck in an industry echo chamber? As it turns out, some new research from Code Computerlove might burst that bubble.

Code Computerlove surveyed 1,000 U.K. adults to find out what they really think about these trend predictions — things like voice search, virtual reality, and chat-bots. That data was then compared to what’s actually making the most noise online. Some key findings included:

  • Mobile payments are the most sought-after technology in 2017.
  • 9 out of 10 consumers claim to have no interest in using augmented reality in the near future.
  • 1 in 5 people surveyed aim to spend less time in front of screens this year.

With that many people aiming to spend less time in front of screens this year, brands have to make their digital interactions count — a poor initial digital experience can carry a long-term impact. Curious to know what else your brand needs to know about these trends? Check out the infographic below.



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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

March Social Media News: Facebook vs. Snapchat, WhatsApp for Business & More

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March is known for a few major holidays and events. St. Patrick’s Day, U.S. college basketball tournaments, and the start of spring, to name a few.

After this year, in the marketing world, March 2017 will also be known as the month when Facebook officially took on Snapchat.

The world’s biggest social network launched ephemeral sharing apps on Messenger and Facebook itself to compete with Snapchat’s key feature. Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram have also recently launched disappearing sharing features on Status and Stories, respectively.

But Facebook isn’t the only story in social media this month. We’ll discuss new features on Instagram, a new social video app by YouTube, and of course, Facebook. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights in the social media space this month — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.

Check out our quick roundup of what’s new in social media below, and read on for more in-depth explanations and insights:

13 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month 

1) Facebook launches Messenger Day

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Source: Facebook

Facebook launched Messenger Day, its answer to the popularity of Snapchat Stories. Facebook previously launched ephemeral, or disappearing, messaging features on Instagram and WhatsApp, and this installment is the latest attempt to dominate Snapchat in the photo and video-sharing space.

Facebook is likely banking on Messenger’s huge user base — 1 billion people worldwide — to propel Messenger Day to popularity. It’s also positioning Messenger Day differently: Instead of sharing what they’ve been doing, Facebook wants users to share what they’re going to do later so they can make plans with friends. 

2) Facebook starts experimenting with Stories

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Source: Business Insider

Soon after the unveiling of Messenger Day, Facebook unveiled Facebook Stories — located at the top of the News Feed. Facebook confirmed to Business Insider that Stories would function identically to Instagram Stories — users could post them to Facebook, where they would disappear after being available for viewing for 24 hours. At this point, Facebook Stories are being rolled out to only a few countries, but we’ll report more when we can.

TL;DR: Facebook is coming for Snapchat. Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, cited the rise of Instagram Stories as a major hindrance to its user growth in its S-1 filing for its massive initial public offering (IPO) earlier in March. We’ll keep you posted if these innovations by Facebook are on the way to taking down Snapchat, or if Snapchat’s popularity among millennials and user engagement will keep it afloat.

3) Research demonstrates native Facebook videos are shared 1000% more than other formats

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Source: quintly 

Quintly analyzed over 6 million Facebook posts to gain insights on how many videos, and of which type, were shared on the platform. It found that 90% of Facebook profiles and Pages analyzed shared Facebook native videos, or videos created and uploaded on Facebook, and not hosted on another platform that the user links to on Facebook. On the other hand, only 30% of the analyzed profiles and Pages had shared a YouTube video on Facebook during the months the study was conducted. Furthermore, quintly found that native Facebook videos were shared 1055% more than other videos and achieved an 186% higher interaction rate overall.

The lesson here for marketers? Take the extra step to upload videos into Facebook to earn higher engagement rates. We recommend a distributed content strategy to earn new followers from different audiences, so you could even promote video content on Facebook and other hosting sites and analyze the results.

4) Facebook introduces a 360 app for Samsung Gear VR

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Source: Facebook 

Another Facebook launch this month comes from its video team, which created a Facebook 360 app for Samsung’s Oculus Gear VR (virtual reality) device. The app creates a more immersive 360-degree viewing experience for Facebook users, who can comment, interact with, and share posts they like within the app while wearing the device. In the announcement blog post, Facebook also notes that users have shared 26 million 360-degree photos and videos to date. These VR devices are fairly affordable at $79.99, so we’re curious to see if this app makes 360 sharing, or Gear VR use, increase. 

5) Facebook allows more ads on Instant Articles

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Source: Facebook

Facebook announced it would give advertisers more freedom to monetize Instant Articles — by letting them place ads every 250 words instead of every 350 words, as were the previous rules. Facebook Instant Articles let publishers create and republish content within Facebook to get more readers without asking them to leave the social network. 

This news isn’t the best for anyone who enjoys reading online content uninterrupted — but it also reflects Facebook’s growing interest in collaborating with journalists and news publications. Earlier this year, Facebook launched the Facebook Journalism Project to address fake news, but also to collaborate with the people making the news. A huge percentage of Americans get news primarily from social media — especially Facebook — and this move notes another attempt to make it more appealing for publishers to work directly within Facebook so Facebook can grow and strengthen its user base.

6) Instagram rolls out “Suggestions for You”

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I noticed this change while scrolling through my Instagram notifications. Instagram now suggests users to follow based on your Instagram friends, Facebook friends, and other posts you’ve liked. Instagram is honing its algorithm and making it easier for users to discover other profiles they might be interested in. This is great news for marketers publishing content on the platform — keep it up, because now, you might be found even more easily by new potential customers.

7) Geostickers now available in Instagram Stories

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In another step toward total Facebook domination of disappearing messages, Instagram started offering Geostickers for Instagram Stories. One of the only remaining differentiators between Snapchat Stories and its imitator on Instagram, these Geostickers are more customizable than those on Snapchat, which might make them more appealing to Snapchat users considering a switch.

Stars are already starting to move from Snapchat to Instagram for sharing ephemeral content, where their content can be more easily searched for and discovered. Snapchat cited Instagram Stories as an obstacle in its quest for user growth, and it will be fascinating to see how new, seemingly copycat features, impact that trajectory.

8) WhatsApp to allow businesses to chat with users

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Source: Reuters 

Reuters reported that WhatsApp has started testing letting some businesses communicate directly with WhatsApp users as a potential future revenue model. WhatsApp is testing this feature with businesses that are a part of Y Combinator, a competitive startup incubator that fostered Airbnb and Dropbox in previous years. WhatsApp is also surveying users to ask them about spam messages they’ve received on the platform.

We’ve started to see other businesses using messaging apps — such as Facebook Messenger — to communicate with customers. These experiments likely signal WhatsApp’s first foray into that space, so if you’re a user, keep an eye out. And if you’re a marketer with a global audience, WhatsApp could be a path to communicate with customers — WhatsApp has over 1 billion users worldwide.

9) Pinterest acquires search engine Jelly

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Source: Biz Stone 

AskJelly.com is a human-powered search engine (think Quora or the now-defunct ChaCha) where users can submit questions and answer them for other users. Co-founded by Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter and Medium, Jelly was recently acquired by Pinterest.

Pinterest launched Lens last month, a new in-app camera that lets users shoot an object and get suggested pins based on what they photographed. This acquisition of a search engine could be Pinterest’s effort to improve the app’s search capabilities. Alternatively, The Verge suspects it was a talent acquisition to bring new developers, and Stone himself, on board.

10) Many Twitter accounts are actually bots

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Source: Twitter 

A study released by the University of Southern California revealed that 9-15% of Twitter users are actually bots, capable of liking, retweeting, and replying like a human Twitter user. If the high end of this estimate is true, that means roughly 48 million of Twitter’s 313 million active users aren’t real people — which spells trouble for the microblogging site. 

Twitter’s user growth is on the decline, along with its share of global social media users overall. It’s launched live video streaming within the app and forged partnerships with major news and sports networks to increase user engagement and attract new people to the site — especially those millennials who aren’t using cable TV packages.

11) YouTube launches social video app, Uptime

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Source: The Verge 

Google’s new startup incubator, Area 120, was created so employees could spend time creating their own business ideas. This month, Area 120 announced the launch of Uptime, a social video app wherein users can watch YouTube videos in group messages with their friends. Like other live-streaming apps and features, such as Periscope and Facebook Live, users can comment, like, and interact with videos they’re watching in real-time with friends. At this point, it’s only available for iOS devices with an invitation, but we’ll keep you posted on new developments with Uptime.

12) YouTube will end unskippable 30-second ads next year

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Source: YouTube

Do you ever find a YouTube video you really want to watch — only to realize you have to sit through a 30-second ad that you can’t skip after five seconds? 

The good news: Those are on the way out. The bad news: You still have to wait a while longer.

A Google spokesperson told BBC YouTube will no longer support 30-second unskippable ads in 2018 and will shift focus to ads that bring revenue for advertisers without creating a bad experience for the viewer.

YouTube will still offer some unskippable ads — in 5 and 15-second increments — as well as ads between 30 and 60 seconds that can be skipped, but this is great news for everyone. By focusing on shorter and more engaging formats, YouTube will create a better experience for viewers, and potentially better results for its advertisers.

13) Heinz Ketchup adopts social media and ad campaign from Mad Men 50 years later

Any Mad Men fans reading this post? Heinz Ketchup has decided on a new advertising campaign — the one fictional creative director Don Draper pitched on Mad Men nearly 50 years ago.

If you remember the episode, Draper didn’t win the account with Heinz, so it’s neat to see his pitch coming to life in the modern era. Heinz is putting up bold billboards featuring the “Pass the Heinz” tagline in New York City, as well as running the campaign on social media channels. Keep an eye out for promoted tweets and Facebook ads featuring this neat union of popular culture, great copywriting, and creative advertising.

Did we miss any big social media stories? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing