32 Free Online Marketing Classes to Master Your Marketing Skills

I don’t know about you, but I miss going to school. I miss taking notes, studying, and most of all, learning a ton of new skills.

That’s not to say I don’t learn a lot on the job here at HubSpot — because I absolutely do. But sometimes, there’s nothing quite like listening to a lecture, taking notes, and doing homework.

Given the frequency at which new technologies and software are developed, it can be overwhelming to try to keep up your knowledge by only reading blog posts and ebooks. That’s where self-paced online learning comes in.

I’ve taken a few awesome courses and certifications through HubSpot Academy, including an inbound marketing certification and a content marketing certification. These classes helped me be better at my job, so I started making a list of other classes I could take to learn more skills. When I finished the list, I realized that you, dear readers, might have similar skill gaps, so I wanted to share it in a blog post.

Below are 32 free online courses you can take to beef up your skill set. These offerings vary in time commitment, but many are self-paced so you can work on your own schedule. We’ll fill you in on the details below, or you can also skip ahead to check out classes in the following categories:

  1. Content Marketing
  2. Email Marketing
  3. Social Media
  4. SEO
  5. Coding, Design & Other Technical Skills

A brief explanation of each course creator accompanies their first mention on the list.

32 Free Marketing Courses to Take in 2017

Content Marketing

HubSpot Academy

HubSpot Academy offers certification and training courses to teach people how inbound marketing and HubSpot software work. Classes are often taught by marketers at HubSpot and are made up of video lessons, quizzes, and tests. Most HubSpot Academy classes are available free of charge, and if you pass the certifications, such as the two below, you get a nifty certificate and badge to share on your social media profiles. Check out mine on LinkedIn:

hubspot certifications.png

1) HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification

2) HubSpot Content Marketing Certification


Copyblogger is a content marketing company that creates content about content (so meta). Its blog provides a ton of great resources about digital marketing, and this class, “Internet Marketing for Smart People,” is made up of ebooks and emailed lessons and other course materials. Copyblogger espouses four pillars of content marketing success, which it delves into over the course of this class.

3) Internet Marketing for Smart People


Coursera offers MOOCs (massive online open courses) created and taught online by universities such as Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California system. These courses start at various times throughout the year, so browse the catalog to see when one lines up with your schedule. Below are a couple courses that are perfect for content marketers — here’s what a module for #4 looks like:

coursera course module.png

4) Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

5) The Strategy of Content Marketing


Udemy is another online learning platform that focuses specifically on courses related to skill building for working professionals. One thing to note about Udemy: The classes we’ve highlighted are free, but it offers a myriad of other paid options for as little as $10, in some cases. If you have a good experience with a free course, it could be worth a small investment to deepen your skills, too.

Here are a few all content marketers will find useful:

6) Copywriting Blunders: Do You Make these 10 Common Mistakes?

7) Blogging: Generate 100s of Blog Topics and Headlines

8) Content Marketing for B2B Enterprises


QuickSprout is Neil Patel’s content and business marketing blog, and QuickSprout University features a ton of helpful videos breaking down and explaining a myriad of concepts and best practices. Each video also includes a transcript in case reading is more your learning style than watching a video. Here’s what one course video looks like:


9) Content Marketing

Email Marketing

HubSpot Academy

10) HubSpot Email Marketing Certification


11) Email Marketing

Social Media


12) Social Media

13) Paid Advertising


Wordstream is a search engine and social media marketing software company that helps marketers drive the greatest ROI from their paid search and social media campaigns. These free guides and ebooks distill learnings and best practices for users with varying levels of expertise running pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Here are some of its topics and offerings:


14) Wordstream PPC University


edX is another MOOC provider that features courses offered by top-tier universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston University. Like Coursera, classes are taught online and start at specific times throughout the year. Here’s a class we think you’ll find valuable:

15) Social Media Marketing


ALISON offers free online classes in various professional skills users can take at their own pace. In the Diploma in Social Media Marketing course below, students can get into the nitty-gritty and big picture views of different skills of different topics — just check out one of the many modules:


16) Diploma in Social Media Marketing


Hootsuite is a social media management platform that offers free trainings (plus a paid certification course) to help marketers beef up their social media skill set. Hootsuite Academy offers courses at varying skill levels and features video lessons and step-by-step breakdowns of how to use different software.

hootsuite academy.png

17) Social Marketing Training


At this point, you probably already know what Facebook is and what it does. What you might not know? It has a training and certification program. Facebook Blueprint offers self-paced and live e-learning courses for marketers seeking to grow their organizations using Facebook. Blueprint offers classes in different languages on how to use Facebook and Instagram — here’s a peek at the course catalog.


18) Facebook Blueprint


quintly is a social media analytics tool that offers courses through quintly Academy. The self-paced course provides an overview of social media analytics, benchmarking, and goaling using downloadable written materials and video lessons.

19) Social Media Analytics


Buffer’s Social Media Week of Webinars isn’t exactly a course — it’s a series of live webinar recordings on YouTube — but the videos are chock-full of current and valuable information for social media marketers from the experts. Topics include Instagram and Facebook marketing and how to do public relations on social media.

20) Social Media Week of Webinars



Google is another company you’ve probably heard of before, and its digital marketing course offers a ton of valuable information if you plan to advertise and rank on the search engine. You can even take a Google AdWords certification at the end of the process that helps you beef up your resume (and your Google+ profile).

21) Google Digital Marketing Course


22) SEO Training Course by Moz

23) Advanced SEO: Tactics and Strategy


24) SEO

Coding, Design & Other Technical Skills

HubSpot Academy

25) HubSpot Growth-Driven Design Certification


Codeacademy offers free, interactive coding classes that take you from lesson one to building a fully-functioning website. The courses we’ve highlighted below are just a few of the courses; Codeacademy offers many more, depending on your organization’s needs. Codeacademy classes feature lectures and a workspace in the same browser window so you can see the effect of your work live, as it’s created.

Check it out:


Source: The Next Web

26) Make a Website

27) Learn Javascript

28) Learn Ruby

29) Learn Python

30) Learn HTML & CSS

General Assembly

General Assembly offers live and online paid and free courses for a variety of technical skills and disciplines. General Assembly’s Dash offers a free online coding class that teaches the fundamentals of HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript — watch the course overview below:



31) Learn to Code Awesome Websites


Canva helps people easily make beautiful images for web design, and Canva Learn offers design courses that are valuable for any kind of storyteller. The Creativity course explores the challenges of constant creation and innovation and how to do it well — with visuals, of course.

32) Creativity

Have you taken an awesome online marketing class that we missed? Share with us in the comments below.

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

Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 Cover Letter Examples That Got Something Right

Let’s face it: A job search is, typically, anything but fun.

It’s almost as if it carries its own stages of grief. At first, there’s denial of its demoralizing nature. Then comes the anger over either radio silence or rejection from prospective employers. Of course, there’s bargaining — “I promise to never complain about work again, if I can find a new job!” That’s often followed by depression, and the idea that one is simply just unhireable. Then, there’s acceptance: “This is awful, but I have to keep trying, anyway.”

But we have good news. It is possible to have a little fun with your job search — and maybe even make yourself a better candidate in the process. The magic, it turns out, could be in your cover letter.

It may be true that 63% of recruiters have deemed cover letters “unimportant,” but that doesn’t mean yours has to contribute to that statistic. In fact, it might be that cover letters are deemed insignificant because so few of them stand out. Here’s an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity at the earliest stage of the recruitment process. Personalization, after all, goes beyond replacing the title and company name in each letter you send to recruiters. Boost your resume and join 30,000 marketers by getting inbound  marketing-certified for free from HubSpot. Get started here. 

What does that look like in practice, and how can you make your cover letter stand out? We found six examples from job seekers who decided to do things a bit differently.

Note: Some of these contain NSFW language.

6 Cover Letter Examples That Nailed It

1) The Short-and-Sweet Model

In 2009, David Silverman penned an article for Harvard Business Review titled, “The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received.” That letter contained three complete sentences, as follows:

Source: Harvard Business Review

One might argue that this particular letter is less than outstanding. It’s brief, to say the least, and the author doesn’t go into a ton of detail about what makes him or her qualified for the job in question. But that’s what Silverman likes about it — the fact that the applicant only included the pieces of information that would matter the most to the recipient.

“The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me,” writes Silverman. “Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on.”

When you apply for a job, start by determining two things:

  1. Who might oversee the role — that’s often included in the description, under “reports to.” Address your letter to that individual.
  2. Figure out what problems this role is meant to solve for that person. Then, concisely phrase in your cover letter how and why your experience can and will resolve those problems.

The key here is research — by looking into who you’ll be reporting to and learning more about that person’s leadership style, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your cover letter to focus on how you provide solutions for her. Not sure how to learn more about a leader’s personality? Check out any content she shares on social media, or use Growthbot’s Personality Profile feature.

2) The Brutally Honest Approach

Then, there are the occasions when your future boss might appreciate honesty — in its purest form. Livestream CEO Jesse Hertzberg, by his own admission, is one of those people, which might be why he called this example “the best cover letter” (which he received while he was with Squarespace):

Brutally honest.png
Source: Title Needed

As Hertzberg says in the blog post elaborating on this excerpt — it’s not appropriate for every job or company. But if you happen to be sure that the corporate culture of this prospective employer gets a kick out of a complete lack of filter, then there’s a chance that the hiring manager might appreciate your candor.

“Remember that I’m reading these all day long,” Hertzberg writes. “You need to quickly convince me I should keep reading. You need to stand out.”

3) The One That Says “Why,” Not Just “How”

We’ve already covered the importance of addressing how you’ll best execute a certain role in your cover letter. But there’s another question you might want to answer: Why the heck do you want to work here?

The Muse, a career guidance site, says that it’s often best to lead with the why — especially if it makes a good story. We advise against blathering on and on, but a brief tale that illuminates your desire to work for that particular employer can really make you stand out.

Why Example.png
Source: The Muse

Here’s another instance of the power of personalization. The author of this cover letter clearly has a passion for this prospective employer — the Chicago Cubs — and if she’s lying about it, well, that probably would eventually be revealed in an interview. Make sure your story is nonfiction, and relatable according to each job. While we love a good tale of childhood baseball games, an introduction like this one probably wouldn’t be fitting in a cover letter for, say, a software company. But a story of how the hours you spent playing with DOS games as a kid led to your passion for coding? Sure, we’d find that fitting.

If you’re really passionate about a particular job opening, think about where that deep interest is rooted. Then, tell your hiring manager about it in a few sentences.

4) The Straw (Wo)man

When I was in the throes of my own job search and reached one of the later stages, a friend said to me, “For the next job you apply for, you should just submit a picture of yourself a stick figure that somehow represents you working there.”

Et voilà:


I never did end up working for the recipient of this particular piece of art, but it did result in an interview. Again, be careful where you send a cover letter like this one — if it doesn’t match the company’s culture, it might be interpreted as you not taking the opportunity seriously. Be sure to pair it with a little bit of explanatory text, too. For example, when I submitted this picture-as-a-cover letter, I also wrote, “Perhaps I took the ‘sense of humor’ alluded to in your job description a bit too seriously.”

5) The Exercise in Overconfidence

I’ll admit that I considered leaving out this example. It’s rife with profanity, vanity, and arrogance. But maybe, in some settings, that’s the right way to do a cover letter.

A few years ago, Huffington Post published this note as an example of how to “get noticed” and “get hired for your dream job”:

Source: Huffington Post

Here’s the thing — if the Aviary cited in this letter is the same Aviary I researched upon discovering it, then, well, I’m not sure this tone was the best approach. I read the company’s blog and looked at the careers site, and neither one indicates that the culture encourages … this.

However, Aviary was acquired by Adobe in 2014, and this letter was written in 2011. So while it’s possible that the brand was a bit more relaxed at that time, we wouldn’t suggest submitting a letter with that tone to the company today. That’s not to say it would go unappreciated elsewhere — Doug Kessler frequently discusses the marketers and brands that value colorful language, for example.

The point is, this example further illustrates the importance of research. Make sure you understand the culture of the company to which you’re applying before you send a completely unfiltered cover letter — if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll completely miss the mark.

6) The Interactive Cover Letter

When designer Rachel McBee applied for a job with the Denver Broncos, she didn’t just write a personalized cover letter — she designed an entire digital, interactive microsite:

Source: Rachel McBee

This cover letter — if you can even call it that — checks off all of the boxes we’ve discussed here, in a remarkably unique way. It concisely addresses and organizes what many hiring managers hope to see in any cover letter: how her skills lend themselves to the role, why she wants the job, and how to contact her. She even includes a “traditional” body of text at the bottom, with a form that allows the reader to easily get in touch with her.

Take Cover

We’d like to add a sixth stage to the job search: Experimentation.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s so easy to feel defeated, less-than-good-enough, or like giving up your job search. But don’t let the process become so monotonous. Have fun discovering the qualitative data we’ve discussed here — then, have even more by getting creative with your cover letter composition.

We certainly can’t guarantee that every prospective employer will respond positively — or at all — to even the most unique, compelling cover letter. But the one that’s right for you will. That’s why it’s important not to copy these examples. That defeats the purpose of personalization.

So get creative. And, by the way — we’re hiring.

What are some of the best cover letters you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments.

learn how to hire an all-star marketing team

free marketing job description templates

Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

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


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

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

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

The Length & Character Count for Everything on the Internet

1) Blog Posts

Source: Medium

Quick reference:

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

Post Body

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


Meta Description

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

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

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

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

sejvREM3G7-iloveimg-compressed (1).gif

2) Facebook

Quick reference:

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

Status Updates

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

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

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

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


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

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

Source: Wistia

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

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

3) Twitter

Quick reference:

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

Length of Tweets

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

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


Ideal Length Overall

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

Source: Buffer

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

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

Source: Buffer


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

4) LinkedIn

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


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

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

Original Content

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

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

5) Instagram

Quick reference:

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

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

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


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

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

6) Snapchat

Quick reference:

  • Character limit: 80 per post

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

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

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

7) YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

Show Your Character

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

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

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

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

free social media content calendar template

Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Easter Eggs: 10 of the Internet’s Best Hidden Gems


Sometimes, it seems like the internet is full of tedium — waiting for a page to load, juggling different passwords, and trying to find the perfect GIF image to describe your mood. But luckily, it’s also full of really cool nuggets, thanks to the clever developers who make it their mission to put the curiosity and fun back into our daily routines. What’s another name for those? Easter eggs.

Easter eggs are hidden gems, features, or moments of surprise buried within software and throughout the internet. They’re designed to catch you off guard and make you smile — if you can find them.

But why would you hide these fun, delightful gems? And since Easter eggs typically don’t add much functionally to the software or site, why bother taking the time to code them in? A few years ago, HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Meghan Anderson, asked a few of our colleagues for their opinions on the matter. And while she found that you’ll get a different answer from every person you ask, most answers boil down to the same motive: “for the fun of it.”

Mike Champion, Tech Lead at HubSpot

AjhWxSlN_400x400.jpeg“Adding an Easter egg can be a fun diversion when writing challenging code … and it’ll hopefully amuse some people, too.”


Eric Peters, Senior Growth Marketing Manager at HubSpot Academy

OuQkiyWe.jpg“Easter eggs are fun to build and fun to find, because they reward users that care enough to find and get excited about them. They create this feeling of being an insider with the application or company, which can be incredibly valuable in terms of brand loyalty and engagement.”

Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist at HubSpot

PistachioHS.jpg“I feel like Easter eggs are part of the ‘developer’ personality. These are very smart people who love solving puzzles, and the intricacies of their work isn’t ever fully appreciated by most of the customers using their product. So by hiding an Easter egg, they can reward the customers who do take that extra initiative to really dig in and appreciate the software — and what goes into making it.”

Go No Further if You Like Surprises

Sharing these gems feels a bit like revealing the secret to a magic trick. After all, half the fun surrounding Easter eggs comes from the hunt for them. So, if you like to be caught off guard, it’s completely okay to stop reading now. Instead, you might want to watch this video of three dogs playing. After all, we don’t want to leave you empty-handed.

10 of the Internet’s Best Easter Eggs

Easter egg hunting is a little easier if you’ve got a map. With some help from co-workers, Reddit, Little Big Details, Quora, and other sites, I’ve compiled a starter map for you, complete with some of the best hidden features out there.

1) BuzzFeed

Truth be told, I actually enjoy the occasional quiz that determines, say, which generation I belong to based on my favorite pizza toppings. It’s the type of content for which BuzzFeed has earned a reputation, though it does also feature some legitimate news items and narrative journalism.

But scrolling through BuzzFeed’s home page sometimes feels like falling through a bottomless well — except, there is an end. And if you make it there, you’re in for a little treat:

It’s the music video for the 1991 hit single “End of the Road,” by Boyz II Men. It’s linguistically fitting — after all, you have reached the end of the proverbial BuzzFeed road by making it all the way to the bottom of the homepage. Plus, it’s a particularly fun surprise for those of us with an affinity for 90s music.

2) Google

It’s been a long time since Google was “just” a search engine. But for those who want to have a bit of fun with its search feature, you’re in luck — Google’s developers have a sense of humor.

To start, look at what happens when you enter the query, “<blink>”:

The word “blink” actually blinks in all of the search results. It’s a sneaky, cheap thrill for those of us who are easily amused.

3) Google Maps

Google’s antics hardly end there. And while it didn’t take long for this easter egg to become discovered (and widely talked about), it’s still a pretty cool online treat. For April Fool’s Day 2017, Google Maps allowed users to turn its maps platform into a game of Ms. PAC-MAN:

While the feature may have been intended as an April Fool’s joke, as of the following Monday, it was still present on Google Maps — and the top search results for “Google Maps Ms. PAC-MAN” mostly covered ways to remove it. Full disclosure: This marketer, personally, quite loves the feature, and plans to waste plenty of her free time on it.

4) Google Chrome

Does this dinosaur look familiar?

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 9.22.38 AM.png

Chrome browser users might recognize him from a lack of internet connection. But now, there’s actually reason to rejoice when Chrome can’t connect. Even if you’re offline, when you land on that screen, watch what happens when you press the spacebar:

Well, I know what I’m doing next time the in-flight Wi-Fi isn’t working. And, good news for those who need more reason to procrastinate: Someone took the liberty to create the T-Rex Runner game page, so you can play any time. Plus, Android users can download the game here.

5) Spotify

There are some pieces of pop culture that, it seems, will never fade away. Many of them fall into the realm of science fiction films, like the Star Wars franchise. These days, whenever a new film in the series is released, it seems like everyone wants to be a part of it.

That includes the music streaming app Spotify. Watch what happens to the play bar at the bottom when The Force Awakens soundtrack begins playing:

It turns into a famed lightsaber — the laser sword used by many Star Wars characters. May the force be with you, indeed.

6) Facebook

Here’s a good one for those of us who are nostalgic for the earliest days of internet chat. In your Facebook language settings, there’s a bevy of options — everything from English to Svenska. And at first glance, it looks like Facebook seems to have done away with such non-sequiturs as “upside-down” and “pirate.” But those options are actually just masked as alternative “English” variations. Have a look:

And what’s not shown here is the search bar, which when set to “pirate” displays the text, “Scour fer scallywags ports ‘n’ various sundries.”

Also mixed into the global options is Leet, which is defined by Google as “an informal language or code used on the Internet, in which standard letters are often replaced by numerals or special characters.” 4w350m3 — that’s Leet for, “Awesome.”

7) Google (Again)

If you’re familiar with the Muppets, chances are you’ve at least heard of the Swedish Chef character, who’s known to end his intro song with the words, “Bork, bork, bork!” Google has taken that phenomenon and incorporated it into its own language settings. Yes — “Bork, bork, bork!” is a language option. Here’s what Google’s homepage looks like after selecting that as your preferred language:

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 10.50.36 AM.png

Feloong loocky? Excellent. Try your hand at Google’s other language options, which — like Facebook — include Pirate and Klingon.

8) Black Acre Brewing

Are you the type of person who loves the randomness of the internet more than anything else? If that’s the case, visit Black Acre Brewing’s website, and click “I am under 21.”

Um. Okay. If you’re not old enough to drink, you are old enough to watch He-Man sing the 1992 4 Non Blondes hit single “What’s Up?”


To some of us, there are fewer things more fun than online shopping. The only thing that might make it more entertaining might be watching the catalogue items come to life and interact with each other. In fact, the folks behind Dutch retail site HEMA had the same thought, and created a trick product page for that very purpose. Bump the mug, and watch the catastrophe that ensues:


10) Google (Last Time, We Promise)

I’ll admit it — I’ve never quite bothered with Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button below the search bar because, well, I always seem to forget that it’s there. But it seems that I’ve been missing out on a little trick. If you hover your mouse over the button — without typing anything into the search box first — the text will spin like a slot machine into other options, like “I’m Feeling Hungry,” or “I’m Feeling Stellar.” Clicking on one will bring you to a topic-specific page:

Happy Hunting

For the sake of my productivity — and your own — I’ll stop there. But that’s hardly a comprehensive list of the internet’s Easter eggs. There are countless more out there to find, so we’ll leave the rest of the hunt up to you. Let the search begin.

What are some of the best internet Easter eggs you’ve found? Let us know in the comments.

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

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Decline of Organic Facebook Reach & How to Outsmart the Algorithm

If you’ve been managing a Facebook Page over the past few years, you’ve likely noticed a drop in how many of your fans have been viewing and interacting with your organic posts. This decline in organic Facebook reach came to a head in 2014, when marketers started picking up on (and complaining about) the situation in droves, prompting a response from Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland.

“Over the past few months, I’ve read articles and answered questions from many people who are concerned about declines in organic reach for their Facebook Pages,” Boland wrote in June of 2014.

He continued, “My colleagues and I at Facebook understand that this has been a pain point for many businesses, and we’re committed to helping you understand what’s driving this change … ”

The two main reasons Boland cited for the organic reach decline? First, there’s simply too much content being published on Facebook, making visibility in the News Feed increasingly competitive. Second, Facebook is deliberately trying to show people the content that is most relevant to them, as opposed to surfacing all the content available.

The good news in all of this is that there’s a lot you can do to counteract these changes, like being more selective about what you publish, paying attention to when you publish, and putting money behind your posts (a.k.a. “boosting” them).

Download our free Facebook guide here for more tips on maximizing your Facebook reach.

Before we dive deeper into how you can improve your Facebook Page’s organic reach, let’s explore exactly what happened during the Great Organic Reach Decline of 2014, and how Facebook decides what content gets surfaced nowadays.

How (And Why) Facebook Reach Has Declined Over Time

Facebook defines organic reachas “how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.” Prior to 2012, that number used to be much, much higher than it is now.

From the moment “Fan Pages” launched in 2007, anyone could create a Page for their company or organization, start collecting fans, and post unlimited messages to their fan bases with the assumption that they would see those messages. But when 2012 rolled around, Page managers learned that only a fraction of their Facebook fans — 16% on average — were seeing their Page posts in their News Feeds. And that fraction has only gotten smaller and smaller since.

A study from Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. Research from Social@Ogilvy, meanwhile, suggests that for Pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%.

Based on the figures above, that means a Page with 10,000 fans could expect just 650 of them to actually see that Page’s posts in their News Feeds. For a Page with 1 million fans, about 20,000 would end up seeing posts (based on the 2% figure).

SocialFlow analyzed over 3,000 posts by publishers on Facebook and found that organic reach dropped 42% between January and May 2016.

Then, later in 2016, Facebook adjusted its News Feed algorithm again — to further prioritize content from friends and family over Pages. In the blog post announcing the algorithm change, Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom warned that Pages could anticipate a dip in organic reach — which could leave reach lower than that earlier 2% estimate, in some cases.

After this algorithm adjustment, SocialFlow adjusted the decline in organic reach — which had dropped further. Between January and July 2016, publishers saw a 52% decline in organic reach on Facebook.

Fewer people seeing your Page’s organic posts on Facebook means fewer clicks, comments, and shares. And having fewer of those interactions means fewer conversions, leads, and customers. Understandably, this has annoyed the crap out of many a Facebook Page manager. So why would Facebook decide to decrease organic post visibility in the first place?

We already touched on Facebook’s official response to this question in the introduction: There are simply too many Pages producing too much content for too many fans, which means competition for visibility on the News Feed is high. What’s more, Facebook is trying to make sure people are only seeing the best content — the stuff that is relevant to them.

Some publishers have cracked the code when it comes to engagement on Facebook: by publishing and broadcasting video. (And we’ll get into that later in the post.) But many in the marketing world suspect that Facebook had (and still has) an ulterior motive: to get people to start spending more on ads.

More Money = More Reach

As Facebook has evolved into more of a paid marketing platform than an organic one, Page managers are realizing they’re now expected to pay for ads yet again to reach those newly acquired Fans, even if those Fans have seemingly elected to see a brand’s posts by liking their Page in the first place.

In a 2014 interview with Digiday, James Del (who was the head of now-defunct Gawker’s content studio at the time) summed up the general sentiment:

Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their Fans and Likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the Fans they just bought.”

Of course, Facebook has denied that this is the case. Boland even had a section in his 2014 organic reach update post titled, “Is organic reach dropping because Facebook is trying to make more money?” Boland’s response:

No. Our goal is always to provide the best experience for the people that use Facebook. We believe that delivering the best experiences for people also benefits the businesses that use Facebook. If people are more active and engaged with stories that appear in News Feed, they are also more likely to be active and engaged with content from businesses.”

From Facebook’s perspective, it’s simply not an ideal user experience to flood the News Feed with posts just because a Page has lots of Likes and is publishing prolifically.

Nowadays, Facebook is encouraging marketers to look at their fan bases as a way to make paid advertising more effective rather than using it as a free broadcast channel. Additionally, Facebook says you should assume organic reach will eventually arrive at zero. So, if you really want to reach your target audience on Facebook, you’ll need to supplement your organic efforts with some paid advertising.

Additionally, Facebook advises marketers to expect things to keep changing, and often times for the better. Facebook has never been stagnant in terms of innovation, so no marketer can figure out a formula and then stick with it forever.

That being said, knowing how Facebook currently surfaces organic content in the News Feed can be helpful for understanding the broader Facebook marketing ecosystem.

How Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Works

When Facebook first launched News Feed back in 2006, the algorithm was pretty basic. Different post formats were assigned different point values — so a post with just text might be worth one point, while a post with a link in it might be worth two points, and so on. By multiplying the post format point value by the number of people interacting with a given post, Facebook could generate a ranking system for determining the order in which posts would appear.

As the years rolled on, the News Feed algorithm evolved to factor in the recency of posts, as well as the relationship between the person doing the posting and the person interacting with said post. This iteration of the algorithm was known as EdgeRank. But in 2011, Facebook abandoned EdgeRank for a more complex algorithm that incorporates machine learning.

That machine learning-based algorithm is what’s responsible for surfacing content on your News Feed today. Unlike its predecessors, which assigned generic point values to post formats, the current algorithm adapts to individual user preferences. So, for example, if you never, ever, interact with photos in your News Feed, Facebook’s algorithm will pick up on that and show you fewer photos over time.

On the other side of the coin, Facebook has identified for marketers the content formats that drive engagement and sharing — native and live videos. Facebook ranks live videos higher in the News Feed, as well as videos with higher watch and completion rates and videos that are clicked on or unmuted as signals of viewer interest.

Ultimately, there are thousands of factors that inform Facebook’s algorithm, which range from using trigger words that indicate important events (e.g., “congratulations”) to whether or not you’ve actually clicked a link in a post before liking it.

Facebook’s end goal here is to have its algorithm match News Feed content to the individual needs and interests of each and every user. As Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, told Time in a 2015 interview:

If you could rate everything that happened on Earth today that was published anywhere by any of your friends, any of your family, any news source…and then pick the 10 that were the most meaningful to know today, that would be a really cool service for us to build. That is really what we aspire to have News Feed become.”

How to Deal With Declining Organic Reach

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how Facebook surfaces content, let’s explore some tips for dealing with the decline in organic Page reach.

1) Be more selective about what you post.

Marketers have to switch gears from untargeted, frequent publishing to targeted, selective publishing. The goal is no longer to spray and pray — it’s to get as much interaction from a single post as possible. Each post published to a brand Page can be targeted to a specific audience regardless of whether or not it’s sponsored, which may improve overall interaction with that post among other people who are likely to find it more interesting and relevant.

2) Remind your Fans they can go to Pages Feed on the left sidebar of their News Feed to see content from Pages they’ve Liked.


3) Educate your super fans that they can update their notification settings from your Page.


4) Encourage fans to engage with your posts when they do see them, so they see more of them.

This can be as simple as adding a reminder to “Please Like and share” at the end of your posts.

5) Share engaging videos on Facebook.

Videos on Facebook are engaging and make visitors more likely to stop, watch, and maybe even unmute when they spot them in the News Feed. Use videos with captions, animations, and engaging visuals to draw in Facebook users’ attention.

According to a recent study by quintly, native Facebook videos have an 186% higher engagement rate and are shared more than 1000% more than videos linked to from other hosting sites. Take the extra steps to publish videos for the platforms you’re promoting them on for best results — distribute your content on Facebook, YouTube, and other social platforms you’re trying to leverage.

6) Broadcast on Facebook Live.

If you’re not already doing so, start broadcasting on Facebook Live. Users spend 3X more time watching live broadcasts than traditional videos on the platform, so start experimenting with live content if you’re concerned about your organic reach. Advertise what you’re doing on different platforms to generate buzz, broadcast for several minutes (at least) to help your broadcast get surfaced in the News Feed, and share authentic, behind-the-scenes content to attract and interest your viewers.

To learn more about Facebook Live broadcasting strategies, check out our free guide.

7) Re-allocate your time and effort toward your owned assets.

Since the only constant with Facebook (and the larger digital media landscape) is change, it’s always safest to focus on the digital channels you entirely own and control — your website and blog. Spend the vast majority of your effort creating content (blog posts and long-form content such as ebooks, case studies, or videos) that will continue to garner inbound traffic, leads, and customers long after they’re first created. If you have time and budget, share those assets to Facebook for additional reach.

8) Start treating Facebook like a paid ad platform.

If you’re going to pay-to-play, get your targeting right. Once you’ve built an audience of relevant fans, focus on advertising the content assets you’ve created — blog posts, ebooks, etc. — and use ads to amplify them to targeted users. Remember: It’s likely only a matter of time before organic reach hits zero, so you might as well hone your paid strategy now, which brings me to one final recommendation …

9) If you do advertise, go beyond the basics.

Facebook’s targeting capabilities have gotten considerably better over the past few years. You can now pay to reach your ideal persona based on demographics, interests, web behavior, and more. Additionally, there are a bunch of tools and features that can help you maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns, including:

To learn more about how you can improve your Facebook Page’s reach, check out our free guide: How to Attract Customers with Facebook.

What are your thoughts and experiences with Facebook’s organic reach decline? How have you adjusted your inbound marketing strategy accordingly?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Clip Art Through the Years: A Nostalgic Look Back


When I was growing up, it was a pretty big deal to have a computer with an operating system other than DOS. If you had an Apple, or even a computer with Windows, your house was the place to be. Not only were you likely to have the coolest games, but also, you probably had access to clip art libraries, which made for hours of entertainment — for me, at least.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a world where you can’t procure an image just by searching for it online. When I was in school, the only way to include a picture in a book report, for example, was with enough luck to find what I was looking for in a magazine. Clip art opened up a whole new world of visuals for academic assignments — not to mention, the newsletters that my childhood, future-writer self liked to put together for fun.

But today, clip art has become a bit of a thing of the past, at least since Microsoft retired its version in 2014. That’s an important distinction — clip art isn’t limited to Microsoft, and actually had several predecessors before it found its way into the likes of Word and PowerPoint. New Call-to-action

And maybe its retirement was for the best — when I think back to some of its more popular images, they would look positively antiquated today. But where did clip art come from, anyway? Today, we’re honoring its legacy with a trip through time.

The History of Clip Art

The 1980s

Source: Computer History Museum

It all began with the idea to create a digital library of images. That was made possible by a program called VCN ExecuVision, a presentation program created in 1983 for IBM personal computers. Think of it as a primitive version of PowerPoint. But the $400 software didn’t come with these image libraries — instead, they were available on separate floppy disks that had to be purchased for $90 each.

But despite this seemingly trailblazing effort on behalf of IBM, it was really Apple who may have emerged as a leader in the digital image space, at least around the early-to-mid 1980s. That’s partially due to the 1984 development of MacPaint, which was released alongside Apple’s word processing program, MacWrite. As the story goes, they were the only two applications pre-installed on this historic Macintosh 128K.

But what made MacPaint so important was its role as the first program that allowed users to manipulate bitmap images: The “simple line art,” according to The Atlantic, that comprised “early electronic clip art.”

Source: DigiBarn

Not long after that, however, the T/Maker Company collaborated with Apple to develop another word processing program, WriteNow. While it’s not clear if that particular program came equipped with its own image library, the same company began producing and selling groups of bitmap images under a new name: ClickArt.

CLickArt download.png
Source: Vetusware

The 1990s

Source: MakeUseOf

By the mid-1990s, T/Maker was the largest distributor of unlicensed images, with a library of roughly half a million in 1995. Microsoft took note of ClickArt’s success, and thought to eliminate the extra step of having to install additional software to access artwork. So in 1996, Microsoft Word 6.0 came equipped with 82 clip art images — a miniscule amount compared to the 120,515 files available on openclipart.org today.

And yet, Microsoft became the brand most strongly identified with the idea of clip art, despite its predecessors having laid much of the groundwork. That could be because its in-app nature — across the entire Microsoft Office Suite — made adding art to documents and presentations a groundbreakingly seamless process.

The Early 2000s

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Source: Wayback Machine

By August 2000, at least 41% of U.S. households had computers with internet access, indicating that people were using it more and more for consuming information and media. And like so many other things — books, for one — clip art was becoming available for purchase online via sites like clipart.com, which is still in existence, but today looks a bit different than its 1996 counterpart above.


And while clip art isn’t exactly one of those things that we think of as having suffered “death by download” — like books, music, and movies — the ability to procure images online made something like Microsoft’s in-app feature obsolete.

Clip Art’s (Semi) Retirement

In December 2014, Microsoft announced that it would be doing away with any in-app art libraries.

“The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop,” the statement read.

Instead, users would now have to use either images from their own devices, or those found through Bing Image Search, where they’re now automatically sent when searching for art within Microsoft apps — step-by-step directions can be found here.

The announcement, for many, read as the end of an era. What would become of cartoonish images of urban landscapes, or out-of-date business travelers with flip phones? As it turns out, if that’s what you’re looking for, you might be in luck.

Clip Art in 2017 and Beyond

For those who need a fix of this kind of old-school imagery, not all hope is lost. There are still plenty of resources out there to find these pictures, including the aforementioned sites openclipart.org and clipart.com. Plus, as The Atlantic so astutely points out, if you search Bing images for “clip art,” you might find some of those fittingly nostalgic results:

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 1.10.05 PM.png

And perhaps this version of clip art isn’t really gone for good — after all, NPR once noted Microsoft’s penchant for revitalizing its older pieces of technology, like Clippy.

In any case, clip art has certainly taken many forms over the years — and we’re curious to see what shape, if any, it takes in the future.

Which clip art images make you the most nostalgic? Let us know in the comments.

80 royalty-free stock photos

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 Websites Every Growth Hacker Should Bookmark


I’ll start by saying this: I am officially obsessed with growth hacking these days.

I never thought of myself as a growth marketer, let alone a growth hacker. Maybe that’s because it’s a somewhat new concept — or a new name for a classic concept, at least. But as a content creator, I’ve learned how imperative it is to know how to grow any sort of property, whether it’s a blog, a podcast, or a brand.

That might be what I love the most about the HubSpot Growth Stack, for example. It was built with the idea that every marketer stands to benefit from understanding how growth hacking works. But where do you learn this stuff? Download our free marketing tool that helps you generate more leads and learn  about website visitors.

A Google search for “growth hacking” yields a plethora of results. But as the term gains more popularity, filtering the results for the best resources becomes more difficult. Fear not — we combed through these sites and narrowed them down to six of the most comprehensive resources. So start reading, and get ready to grow.

6 Websites Every Growth Hacker Should Bookmark

1) GrowthHackers


Let’s start with the obvious. When you want to learn how to grow, the URL “growthhackers.com” seems like a natural place to start. Its founder and CEO, Sean Ellis, was pretty much a “growth hacker” before that label was really a thing — since 2008, he’s served in interim growth roles at companies like Eventbrite and Dropbox, helping them scale in their early stages.

GrowthHackers is a community of resources and experts that “helps teams unlock their company’s full growth potential.” And it’s within that community section of the site where the greatest wealth of knowledge lives. From a forum of growth-related posts, to a section on growth case studies, to the Growth University, this destination is one of the most comprehensive growth hacking resources available online.

2) KISSmetrics


KISSmetrics is one of the leading analytics platforms that marketers use to obtain the data they need to grow. But beyond the product itself, the company provides a plethora of resources for growth hackers; for example, its blog and series of webinars.

The blog might be one of our favorites. Its entries are a mix of tactical content and great stories, like this one about how Calendly pulled off double-digit growth. Plus, if you’re looking for fundamental knowledge about any area of growth, KISSmetrics has organized these types of blog posts into collective academy guides. If you’re just getting started, we recommend checking out this catalogue of entries synthesized for the “The Basics of Analytics.

3) Quick Sprout

Quick Sprout

Quick Sprout is largely the work of Neil Patel — a name with which anyone even remotely involved with digital marketing is familiar. We like to call him a “growth rockstar” — he founded the aforementioned KISSmetrics shortly after graduating from CSU Fullerton.

On Quick Sprout, Patel does growth consulting work and leads an online “university” on growing website traffic. It’s also home to one of his many valuable blogs, where he provides tips on conversion, marketing tech, and more. For a handy growth marketing crash course, check out this post on “How to Become an Innovative Growth Hacker in One Month.

4) Coelevate


Brian Balfour is 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.” And on Coelevate, he frequently pens essays about many topics under this umbrella, like “10 Reasons Why Companies Fail At Growth” and “Traction vs Growth.”

Balfour speaks with a unique skill set. In addition to serving as the co-founder of startups like Viximo and Boundless Learning — which were both acquired — he also worked in venture capital (VC) as an entrepreneur-in-residence. He views growth from the perspective of both the entrepreneur and the investor. In addition to his words on Coelevate, you can follow his insights on the blog for Reforge, his growth program creation business.

5) Andrewchen.co


Since its 2009 founding, one thing has been certain about Uber: It’s experienced unequivocal brand growth. And it’s the kind of growth that can only be achieved with the right scale, which experts like Andrew Chen are brought on board to oversee.

And in addition to serving as Uber’s head of rider growth, Chen continues to share insights on his own website, Andrewchen.co. His knowledge stems from his experience, much like Balfour, as both an entrepreneur-in-residence in the VC sector, and as what he calls an “entrepreneur-out-of-residence” — in both capacities, he’s helped to grow early-stage businesses like Barkbox and Tinder.

6) OkDork


Noah Kagan, the person behind growth blog OkDork, is one of those folks who’s so accomplished that we have to ask, “How many lives have you had?” Today, Kagan’s day job is “Chief Sumo” with the Sumo Group, the maker of tools to help companies grow website traffic. It’s the latest in a string of product launches and marketing successes he’s experienced, with brands ranging from Facebook to Mint.

Kagan calls OkDork a guide to “marketing, business musings, online communities and other things to kill time while you are at work.” That community part is key. He invites readers to participate, comment, and exchange thoughts. And since its December 2016 debut, his podcast, “Noah Kagan Presents,” also calls OKDork home. Check out “The 5 am Challenge” — it happens to be one of this early riser’s favorite episodes.

Continual Growth

“Growth” can be a little bit of a big, scary term at first. Building and scaling a product or service from scratch might seem like something that requires the help of an expert, or a large team. But as these sites show — that’s not the case. With the right approach, resources, and amount of experimentation, you can become a self-taught growth hacker.

From online communities to the HubSpot Growth Stack, you’ll be well on your way. But be patient — you might have to use a combination of these resources and go back to them as you work your way through projects. That’s why we suggest you bookmark all of these sites. Growth takes time, but it’s more than possible.

What are your go-to growth hacking websites? Let us know in the comments.


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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Rethinking Subscriptions: Lessons Learned During the HubSpot Marketing Blog's Email Overhaul


A few months ago, I took on the task of evaluating and reinventing the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s email subscription.

It’s not that our email subscription wasn’t working. We were gaining an impressive number of subscribers each month. Those subscribers we’re opening and clicking on our subscription emails — and we had the traffic numbers to prove it. But those insights and metrics just scratched the surface when it came to the health of our subscription.

A deeper analysis revealed that we were losing subscribers at nearly the same rate we were gaining them — we had a churn problem. And in some cases, the cause of drop-off had something to do with the frequency at which we were sending these emails.

It was clear that we were leaving opportunity on the table when it came to subscriber longevity and engagement. And perhaps more importantly, it was time to do something about it.

Digging Into Our Existing Email Subscription

Until recently, our email subscription unfolded like this:

  • Step 1: Someone subscribes to receive either a Daily or Weekly email from us.
  • Step 2: HubSpot generates an RSS email of our latest content.
  • Step 3: Subscriber receives the email.

Since we never messed with the existing email subscription in the past, there were seemingly endless opportunities for how the new model might take shape. But before I nailed down a new path, I decided to dig into our current emails and subscriber expectations to see what was going on. This meant crunching some numbers, as well as surveying our unengaged subscribers to diagnose what exactly was keeping them from finding value.

Here’s what I found …

3 Key Takeaways From An Analysis of Our Old Subscription Model

1) Our subscriber list was growing, but people weren’t sticking around.

At the time of my initial research, we were churning approximately 10% of our total subscriber list size each month. I’ll dive into the reasons why folks were likely churning in greater detail below, but quite simply, our subscribers were jumping ship because their needs weren’t being met.

When we took a closer look at exactly how long subscribers were staying engaged with our subscription emails for, we found:

  • On average, 16% of new Marketing Blog subscribers unsubscribe of their own volition before the six-month mark.
  • On average, The Marketing Blog retains ~22% of new subscribers for six or more months.

What’s the consequence here? Well, considering that we’re acquiring a sizable number of new subscribers each month, keeping them engaged for a longer period of time means:

  • More traffic from new subscribers
  • A better subscriber experience
  • Better list health and deliverability
  • More opportunity to convert subscribers into leads

At this point, there are all things that we were missing.

2) Subscribers were overwhelmed by the number of emails they received.

Once churn and engagement numbers were crunched, we decided to issue a survey to the subscribers who were starting to lose interest in our subscription. One of the major themes that surfaced in their responses? Email overload.

In fact, 30% of survey respondents said that the number one thing they didn’t like about our blog experience was the number of emails they received. For more context, here’s a look at some of the raw responses we got:

  • “Content is good, just send it less often.”
  • “I would really like it a couple of times a week. Not every day, but not once a week either. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday cadence would be good.”
  • “It was too much.”
  • “Too frequent. Would gloss over them as spam.”

3) Subscribers didn’t always feel that the content was relevant to them.

The cool thing about running a blog that’s been around for so many years is that some of our subscribers have been there since the beginning. They’ve skilled up through the ranks with the help of our content and have evolved into savvy inbound marketers. But then there are our new subscribers — each with varying degrees of marketing experience and interest.

Was our existing email subscription meeting the needs of everyone? Not quite. Mostly because we were sending the same exact blog posts to our subscriber base, regardless of their content preferences.

Launching a New Wave of Subscriptions

Taking what we learned from our old subscription, along with all of the feedback collected from our existing subscribers, we set out to design a new model.

We had two goals in mind:

  1. Reduce subscriber churn
  2. Improve clickthrough rate

And we planned to hit those goals by solving for two problems:

  1. Finding a way to provide a more personalized content experience. This issue surfaced a ton in the feedback we collected from our existing subscribers. To keep people coming back for more, we needed to create a more tailored content experience.
  2. Determining a more manageable email cadence. People were overwhelmed. They couldn’t keep up with every single daily send and they wanted us to pump the breaks.

With these two core challenges in mind, we landed on was a twice-weekly newsletter series made up of four goal-oriented editions:

  • Get Inspired. Outstanding marketing examples, design inspiration, and game-changing ideas that’ll keep you on your toes.
  • Get Growing. The hacks, strategies, and actionable advice you need to master inbound marketing and reach your growth goals.
  • Get Ahead. The latest marketing and tech news to keep you in the know and ahead of the curve.
  • Get Better. Expert career and professional growth guidance designed to help you skill up, stay motivated, and work smarter.

We also offer a “Get All of Them” option, where subscribers receive a newsletter contained the best of each edition.

How the New Subscription Works

Launched at the beginning of May, the new subscription was only rolled out to new subscribers — existing subscribers would still receive their daily or weekly sends while we tested out the new model. The goal was to roll out the new emails to our entire subscriber base once we had an opportunity to do some testing.

Here’s how it played out …

1) Visitors opt-in via any of our subscription CTAs across the website and blog.


2) New subscribers receive a welcome email once they sign up with a link to a subscription preferences page.


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3) Subscribers choose which email newsletter best fits their interests and needs.


For example, someone tasked with growing their brands presence online might subscribe to the Get Growing newsletter. This edition offers marketing tips and advice on building and executing on an inbound strategy that scales.

With Change Comes Complications …

Going into this experiment, I had a theory about what would happen. I’d done some research and I’d put a lot of thought into the changes we were making.

But once I got the new subscription off the ground, a couple of unexpected things happened …

People weren’t flowing into the newsletter lists all that smoothly.

In fact, the edition-specific subscriptions were growing really slowly — so much so that we decided to hold off on sending content due to the diminutive size of lists.

It was clear that this bucketing process proved to be more complicated than we’d anticipated. The welcome email — which houses the subscription preferences landing page link — was seeing a 40% open rate, leaving 60% of folks unaware that tailored subscription options even existed. And clickthrough data revealed that less than 5% of subscribers had visited the subscription preferences page to date.

The “Get All of Them” list was the only one showing significant growth.

Interestingly enough, folks were flowing into the list for the all-inclusive newsletter — the one that contained a mix of content from each of the four niche editions. This is the one list that we actually did start sending emails to.

To be fair, this was an easier list to end up on for a few reasons. For one, we decided to auto-subscribe folks who chose not to personalize their subscription to the Get All of Them option — these subscribers made up 36% of the whole list.

We also auto-subscribed those coming in via the subscribe checkbox on our lead generation forms to avoid sending them a kickback and a welcome email all at once — these subscribers made up roughly 60% of the whole list.

That meant that only the remaining 4% of subscribers on the total Get All of Them list voluntarily opted-in to receive that newsletter on the subscription preferences landing page.

What Gives?

We asked. They answered. We listened.

Yet it seemed as though our solution to the tailored content problem was missing the mark. Did people really want personalized content enough to take the extra step? We weren’t so sure anymore — especially after we took a look at the numbers for the emails we did send.

The (Early) Numbers

Complications aside, we do have several weeks worth of Get All of Them sends and findings under our belt. And much to our surprise, the numbers have been pretty inconsistent — and a little underwhelming.

Clickthrough & Open Rate

After seven sends, the average clickthrough rate for the Get All of Them newsletter falls at about 5.1%, while the last seven sends of the existing Daily and Weekly emails saw 5.3% and 6.7% clickthrough rates, respectively.


As for the open rate, the new subscription email saw an average of 34%, while the last seven sends of the existing Daily and Weekly emails saw 40.37% and 24.84%, respectively.


Takeaway: The clickthrough rate for the new email fell a little short of its Daily and Weekly predecessors. This is likely due to the fact that this newsletter is curated very similarly to the old subscription, in that subscribers are receiving a mixed bag of content on a variety of topics that may or may not be relevant to them. The open rate fell in the middle of the Daily and Weekly performance, revealing that twice weekly was a manageable cadence, but perhaps not the perfect solution.

Subscriber Churn Rate

The good news? Churn was down. The overall churn rate for twice weekly subscribers during the month of May was 4.2% — over a 5% reduction from the old subscription’s churn rate last month.


Takeaway: This signals to us that folks are finding value in the two updates a week — at least enough to stick around. If we can keep churn low like this, we’ll be able to reap the benefits of increased traffic and improved list health.

Preparing for V2: What Needs to Change?

So, was this experiment a flop? Not really — and it’s not over. While there have been a handful of blockers, the important thing here is that we are learning something new by trying something different.

As we start to think about how to solve for the challenges that surfaced during the V1 launch of this new subscription model, there are a few lessons we can apply to set ourselves up for success in V2.

1) The design needs testing.

With the help of the comments I received via the feedback loop at the bottom of each email send, I determined that the new design wasn’t resonating with everyone. A few people suggested more visuals, while others noted it was a little lengthy.

We plan to run some A/B tests here to determine a format that inspires the best clickthrough rate.

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(Have ideas on how we can improve? Leave a comment — we’d love to hear them.)

2) The subscription preferences landing page is creating friction.

We knew going into this that asking subscribers to essentially opt-in twice wasn’t going to be easy. Asking folks to complete an action in the welcome email wasn’t ideal, but the dedicated landing page did allow us the time and space to explain the editions in detail.

Moving forward, we could eliminate that page altogether and provide an option to customize your subscription directly within the body of the email. This would eliminate the need for subscribers to clickthrough to the subscriptions page, and hopefully increase participation.

Another option? Renaming the newsletters so they are more self-explanatory and adding them as options directly on the subscribe CTA. This would eliminate the need for a welcome email and lower the barrier to entry.

3) We need to up the open rate.

The open rate for the new email sends exceed that of our existing Weekly subscription, but fell short of the Daily, proving it’s hard to stay top-of-mind when people aren’t hearing from you every single day.

To solve for this, we’re already experimenting with different days of the week to determine the best possible time to send these emails. We’re also exploring different subject line formats aimed at piquing interest and upping opens.

Variant A
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Variant B
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Results: Variant A (with the emojis) outperformed Variant B.

4) We need to find a way to introduce subscription tailoring to checkbox subscribers.

A look at the early numbers revealed that nearly 60% of our subscribers were coming in through the checkbox on our lead gen forms. After a discussion with our nurturing marketers, we opted to auto-subscribe these folks to receive the Get All of Them newsletter, rather than hitting them with two emails.

On a larger scale, we’re looking at ways to create smart, all-in-one kick back emails to be sent when a visitor takes an action that would typically prompt multiple follow up emails — for example, downloading an offer and subscribing to the blog at the same time. This internal project would give us the opportunity to introduce our subscription newsletters to all new subscribers, including those converting on the subscriber checkbox.

As a more immediate solution, we’ve started to add a snippet of text at the top of each email that encourages folks to check out the subscription preferences page if they wish to receive more personalized content.

Try, Try Again

It’s safe to say the road to a better, more personalized email subscription hasn’t been easy. There have been setbacks and curveballs, but mostly importantly, there’s been progress. We look forward to continuing to iterate on our new model in an effort to create an email subscription that people actually look forward to.

Want to check out the new subscription for yourself? Subscribe here and let us know what you think.

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Source: Rethinking Subscriptions: Lessons Learned During the HubSpot Marketing Blog's Email Overhaul

What Is Channel Strategy? What Marketers Should Know


Be honest. Do you know what your non-marketing colleagues do all day?

Sure, you might have a general idea of what your co-workers in sales, finance, and HR do, at least categorically. But it seems that many of us — myself included — have those days, weeks, and months when we’re so bogged down in our own daily hustle, that we become a bit oblivious to what everyone else around us is working on. After all, that’s probably why the phrase, “put your blinders on” exists.

But while a colleague’s job might look different from our own, there’s actually quite a bit that we, as marketers, can learn from them. One of those things is channel strategy. Download the essential sales and marketing alignment kit here to increase  collaboration & communication between teams.

That’s why I recently sat down with my colleague, Adrianne Ober, a Channel Consultant here at HubSpot. After speaking with her about what she does every day — and about the most important knowledge she’s gained in this role — I’ve realized that there are a lot of channel strategy lessons that marketers can apply to their own work.

So, what did we learn? Read on to find out — or listen to our interview with Adrianne by pressing “play” below.

What Is Channel Strategy?

A channel strategy, according to TechTarget, “is a vendor’s plan for moving a product or a service through the chain of commerce to the end customer.”

In many environments, this kind of channel strategy takes the form of a reselling program — here at HubSpot, we work with Marketing Agency Partners who not only grow with HubSpot software but also, teach their clients how they, too, can be more successful with it.

That’s where channel consultants like Ober come in. “My role is a combination of an account manager and an implementation specialist,” Ober explains, but her day-to-day work encompasses much more than that. “Our focus is to work with our new Agency Partners, to onboard them to the program and support their reselling and delivery efforts.”

Reselling programs aren’t exactly uncommon, especially within tech companies, but what makes Ober’s job different is its true partnership nature. “We really do invest a ton more than other companies do in their partner programs,” she says, “to ensure they are getting the most out of it to help grow their businesses.”

What Can Marketers Learn From a Channel Consultant?

Building Your Own Channel Strategy

Not all marketers work for agencies, but many of us are responsible for positioning our respective products and services as solutions for our target audiences. For example, HubSpot’s Marketing Software provides automation solutions for marketers — what solutions does your organization offer?

In a way, channel strategy could be described as a formal approach to word-of-mouth marketing. How can you provide solutions to your customers that they, in turn, can share with and provide to their own networks? Ober challenges and encourages marketers to ask that question, find the best answer, and make it a reality.

There’s a “relationship-building aspect” of every marketer’s job, she explains, even for those who don’t work with customers directly. Chances are, you’re still responsible for crafting the messages and content that’s going to reach customers, and ultimately, that’s one way for brands to build a relationship with a target audience — by establishing themselves as a trustworthy, shareable resource for solving problems and meeting needs.

But where can marketers begin? “Product knowledge is … imperative,” Ober says. Start by becoming an expert in the solutions provided by your organization — not just the products and services you offer, but also, with the industry at-large. “We need to be comfortable with usage and training,” she explains, in order to establish that trust with both current and potential customers.

A Marketer’s Biggest Pain Points

The thing about HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program — one that even I’m guilty of forgetting — is that its channel consultants work with marketers, day in and day out. That means people in Ober’s position hear about the most common struggles faced by marketers every day and are tasked with proactively offering solutions.

So not only can marketers stand to benefit by implementing their own strategies — but speaking with people like Ober, it turns out, can help us to take a step back, examine our biggest pain points, and figure out how to efficiently tackle them.

“The biggest struggles I hear about are pricing, process, scaling, hiring, and time management,” she explains. In other words: growing pains. “In order for agencies to scale their businesses, they need to develop a repeatable process, which means they need to have a handle on time management for their team and make the right hires at the right time.”

Sound familiar? Maybe that’s why growth marketing is such a hot topic right now — no matter the size of the company they work for, it seems that these are pains experienced by a number of marketers. Those working in SMBs are often tasked with many of the responsibilities mentioned by Ober to help their employers grow. And those working for larger organizations, while not necessarily tasked with growing the business, are often tasked with building, executing, and growing new campaigns and initiatives.

That’s why it’s so important, Ober says, to make time for the learning process, no matter how “underwater” marketers tend to feel when they’re facing deadlines and other time-sensitive priorities.

“Our most successful partners make the time to build their process, invest in the education we provide for their team and take the time to price their services appropriately,” she says. “Marketers can and should make time to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry [they work in], connect with peers, and read up on trends.”

A Similar Skill Set

Finally, I asked Ober, “What else can marketers learn from a channel consultant?” To answer that, she pointed to many of the skills required of her job that overlap with those most crucial to a marketer’s success.

“This role requires us to confidently assess a marketing strategy as it relates to the overall goals,” she says, “whether it’s for a Partner Agency’s own marketing or one of their clients.”

And no matter what their industry, it seems that skill is highly valuable to all marketers — to be able to objectively measure their own strategies, and to figure out what is (not) working.

And “even more so,” Ober explains, is the shared, necessary ability of both marketers and channel consultants “to recommend the right tools and approach to go with the strategy.”

But doing that requires a high-level of communication skills, whether you’re making these recommendations to customers, your colleagues, or your boss. “We need to be able to [identify] not only where these gaps may be,” Ober points out, but also to align them with goals. Skilling up in those areas, she says, can ultimately help marketers accurately evaluate the feasibility of a situation, whether it’s marketing strategy or budget — or being able to predict how (and if) your brand will resonate with a given audience.

Looking Forward

With INBOUND on the horizon, Ober says she’s looking forward to discussing channel strategy and exchanging knowledge with industry professionals.

“I love seeing my Partners in person,” she shares. “I’m excited to talk with them about some products that were teased last year and are in beta now.”

But maybe even more than that, is how excited she is to hear about other marketers’ ideas.

“INBOUND is a place for peers to connect, and [we all] come away from the event with a ton of ideas,” she says, “and, as a result, a ton of motivation to dig in.”

Have you used channel strategy or consulting? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: What Is Channel Strategy? What Marketers Should Know

12 Brainstorming Techniques for Unearthing Better Ideas From Your Team


If you want to hold brainstorms that unearth better, more creative ideas, it all starts with the people in the room. Like, the actual number of people in the room.

That’s my first tip for you: Follow the “pizza rule” for brainstorming. If you’re unfamiliar with the “pizza rule,” it’s the idea that if you have more people in a room than you could feed with a pizza, there are too many people in that room to hold a productive meeting.

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The same rule goes for a brainstorming session: If you’ve got a dozen people sitting around a table, expect a really long list of truly mediocre ideas.

So, what else can you do other than bribe a group of two to six people with pizza to unearth good ideas? So glad you asked.

12 Team Brainstorming Techniques for Getting to Good Ideas

1) Invite a diverse group of people.

If your team works on all of the same projects together, goes to team meetings together, sits next to each other in the office, and hangs out in the same group chats all day … well, needless to say, the ideas will likely start to get pretty homogenous.

Instead, invite new people from other teams to your brainstorms — people with different skill sets and experiences to help get you out of your rut and see things in a new way. It’ll give you that great mix of new perspectives and contextual knowledge that’ll help you land on ideas that are both original and doable.

2) Keep the meeting to 22(ish) minutes.

Nicole Steinbok advocates this technique, and it’s one I’ve used with positive results. (I usually round up to 30 minutes, but what’s a few minutes among friends?) It works particularly well for people like myself that thrive under the threat of a deadline.

In my experience, having a limited amount of time to brainstorm only works if all participants are actually ready for the meeting. (More on that in a minute.) But two other tenets Steinbok harps on are a no-laptop rule, and a no off-topic-banter rule. While some might disagree with the latter, I have found that aggressive time constraints help keep people on task and delivering their best ideas as a result.

3) Provide context and goals well before the meeting.

“Well before the meeting” doesn’t mean that morning. Offer any pertinent information at least two business days in advance so people have a fighting chance at actually being prepared for the brainstorm.

In addition to providing any reading materials or contextual information that help set up the reason for the brainstorm (and explicitly asking that they read it, too), describe what the ideal outcome of the meeting looks like. This will help people come into the meeting understanding the scope of what you’re all trying to do. I think you’ll find this helps you avoid wasting time catching everyone up so you can get to the brainstorm right away.

If necessary, run your meeting like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and dedicate 30 minutes specifically to quietly reading in a group to bring everyone together — especially if they won’t have time to read before the meeting.

4) Ask people to come prepared with some ideas.

Often, great ideas don’t show themselves when you ask them to. They pop up on the train, in the shower, while you’re watching TV … basically any time you’re not actually trying to come up with the idea.

This is one reason why it’s good to provide a few days of lead-time before your meeting, but it’s also why you might want to explicitly ask people to think of some ideas beforehand. With this approach, you might find that you start the meeting off with pretty strong ideas from the get-go, and the group can add to and modify them to make them even stronger. In fact, this hybrid brainstorming approach was found to be more effective in a University of Pennsylvania study.

Frankly, I’ve also found that when everyone comes in cold turkey, the brainstorm often ends with a long list of very uninspired ideas. At the very least, whoever runs the brainstorm should come with a few ideas to kick off the brainstorm and give an indication of what a good idea looks like.

5) Say “no” to the bad ideas. Fast.

It might be brainstorm heresy to recommend people squash bad ideas, but I’ve seen one too many brainstorms go astray because people are too scared to say “no.” This is particularly important if you’re trying to run a quick brainstorm session.

Yes, there’s a fine line: Squashing bad ideas could lead people to fear speaking up, missing out on good ideas as a result. But if you’re giving every idea equal due regardless of merit, then you get off-track real fast and end up down a bad idea rabbit hole.

Better brainstorms that yield better ideas leave time to nurture the strongest inclinations.

On that note …

6) Foster an environment where bad ideas are okay.

Yes, you should call out bad ideas. But you should also make it okay that people had them. Call out your own ideas, in fact. If people can speak freely, but not feel stupid for doing so, you’ll get more ideas out — which makes it more likely you’ll land on a good one.

7) Lean into constraints.

If you have every resource and opportunity in the world, creativity will naturally stifle. Lay out the constraints you’re working within in terms of goals and resources for executing any idea you come up with. Then, try to see those as opportunities for creativity instead of roadblocks that make it impossible to come up with a good idea.

8) Lean into silence.

Anyone in sales already knows: Silence is power. In a brainstorm, silences are times when people get thinking done — either about their own ideas, or how to build on the last idea that came up.

And hey, it might also encourage more people to speak up with an idea, just out of their hatred of uncomfortable silences.

9) Lean into failure … outside of the brainstorm.

If you have a team where taking smart risks — regardless of outcome — is rewarded, people will have a better sense of what ideas are worth pursuing and what’s worth passing on. Because, you know, they do it a lot and get a second sense for these things.

If experimentation is a part of your team culture, that’ll manifest itself in better ideas than if your team is stuck in stasis. You’ll have better brainstorms where creative and smart, yet risky ideas come out.

10) Be prepared to ditch the meeting altogether.

Sometimes in-person meetings aren’t the right format for unearthing good ideas. Certain brainstorms can be better performed digitally.

For example, we often resort to Google Docs or Slack for brainstorms when curating blog post or title ideas across a large group of people. There’s really no need to pull everyone away from their work to participate in a brainstorm like that — and the benefit is that people can participate on their own time, when they’re ready and eager to contribute ideas, not when the meeting happens to occur.

11) Provide a place for anonymous submissions.

For some people, the “right” format might be an anonymous submission. Provide a place for anonymous idea submission both before and after the meeting. People might have some ideas that they’re reticent to bring up in front of the group. It’d be a shame to miss out on those ideas due to shyness, discomfort, or simply a preference for writing out ideas instead of speaking about them. This is easy to set up through a Google form.

12) Be prepared to pursue absolutely nothing that came out of that brainstorm.

Don’t feel like you have to choose and pursue an idea just because you had a brainstorm. If the brainstorm didn’t yield any good ideas, that’s fine. It wasn’t a waste of time. But you will waste your time if you pursue an idea that isn’t worth doing. Moving forward with the lesser of all evils is still … evil.

Instead, do some reflection on your own about why the ideas aren’t ready to see the light of day, and see if any are worth more thought before ditching them. Perhaps you’ll get another group of people in a room to iterate on them — or even the same group once they’ve had some distance from the ideas. Now that ideas have started flowing, you might find a second round of brainstorming yields something even better.

What other tips do you have for getting more out of brainstorms? Share with us in the comments.

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

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Source: 12 Brainstorming Techniques for Unearthing Better Ideas From Your Team