How to Use Facebook Live: A Step-by-Step Guide

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In April 2016, Facebook launched Facebook Live, a live video streaming service that lets anyone broadcast from their mobile devices straight to their Facebook News Feed.

Since its launch, live streaming video has grown in popularity, with 16% of marketers broadcasting it in 2016. Facebook Live is particularly popular — videos see 3X the engagement of traditional videos shared on the platforms, and millions of users live stream on Facebook around the world.

Why are marketers getting so excited about Facebook Live? Because it’s a fun and simple way for them to use the power of video to communicate their brand stories and build authentic relationships with fans and followers — in real time.

However, for such a simple concept, Facebook Live has a lot of little nuances that marketers will need to learn if they want to get the most out of the platform. This guide will help you learn the best tricks and tricks that can make a big, big difference in how many people see your live broadcast, how they engage with it, and how it performs.

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In this post, we’ll walk through how to broadcast on Facebook Live, how to analyze your live video’s performance, and several tips and tricks for getting the most out of the platform. (Click here to skip down to the tips.)

How to Broadcast on Facebook Live

Facebook Live started as a mobile-only broadcasting feature, but now, Facebook Pages can broadcast from either mobile devices or desktop computers. We’ll go over how to broadcast from mobile and desktop devices in the sections below.

How to Broadcast on Facebook Live via Mobile

To get started, get out your mobile device and open up the Facebook app.

Step 1: Go to the News Feed, and tap the “Live” option denoted by the FB_Live_NewsFeed.png icon.

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You can also go live from your own Facebook profile. Open up the status bar by tapping the text that reads “What’s on your mind?” Then, select the “Live Video” option from the menu.

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Step 2: Give Facebook access to your camera and microphone when prompted.

You’ll stop receiving these prompts after the first time you use it.   camera_permission.png

Step 3: Choose your privacy setting.

If you’re posting for a brand, you’ll probably want to make it public. If you’re posting as yourself, you might want to reserve your broadcast for friends. But if you’re new to Facebook Live and want to test it out first, or want to see what something will look like, then switch the privacy setting to “Only Me.” You can find the “Only Me” option by clicking “More” and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

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Step 4: Write a compelling description.

Give your broadcast a description, which will show up on people’s News Feeds like a status update above the video. To get people to tune in, write an attention-grabbing headline and help them understand what your broadcast is about. Check out the example below from The White House’s live broadcast.

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Image Credit: Facebook

Step 5: Tag friends, choose your location, or add an activity.

Tap the icons at the bottom of your screen to tag people who are in the Facebook Live video, add the location from where you’re shooting, or share what you’re doing in the broadcast. These touches can add more personalization to your video, increase discoverability, and make people want to tune in.

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Step 6: Set up your camera view.

Before you click “Go Live,” be sure your camera’s pointing in the direction you want it to. The background of your setup screen will show you what your camera sees. If you want to change the camera view to selfie or vice versa, simply click the rotating arrows icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.

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The video will be a square, so it doesn’t matter whether you hold your mobile device vertically or horizontally.

Pro tip: You can choose if you want the image to be horizontally or vertically mirrored, too. Tap the magic wand icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, then tap the tools icon at the bottom of your screen to film from a different view or to adjust the video’s brightness.

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Step 7: Add lenses, filters, or writing and drawing to your video.

Tap the magicwand.png icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, and choose if you want to add lenses to your face, change the filter of the camera, or write or draw to make the video more whimsical.

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Step 8: Click the blue “Go Live” button to start broadcasting.

Once you click it, Facebook will give you a countdown — “3, 2, 1 …” — and then you’ll be live. As soon as you start streaming, your live video will appear in your News Feed — and others’ News Feeds — just like any other post.

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Your broadcast can be up to 90 minutes long. Keep in mind that the longer you broadcast, the more people who are scrolling through their News Feeds on Facebook will stumble upon your post.

Step 9: Interact with viewers and commenters.

To keep your viewers engaged, encourage them to interact with your live video (which will help your ranking in others’ News Feeds). You can also interact with them both by speaking directly to them in your video and, if you want, by having someone else respond to comments from a desktop computer elsewhere.

Where can you see these comments? While you’re broadcasting, you’ll see the time elapsed on the top left along with the number of viewers, and comments will show up live on the bottom of your feed. They’ll appear in reverse chronological order, like on Twitter, so keep in mind that the earlier ones may be farther down.

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Image Credit: Facebook Newsroom

Note: You can also block viewers during a live broadcast by tapping the profile picture next to a viewer’s comment and then tapping “Block.” You can unblock someone you’ve previously blocked, too.

Step 10: Click “Finish” to end the broadcast.

Once you do this, the video will stay on your Timeline or Page like any other video post.

Step 11: Post your reply and save the video to your camera roll.

Once you finish your broadcast, you’ll be met with a screen similar to the one I’ve screenshot below. If you want to post it, that will enable others to view your video once you’ve stopped broadcasting. Then, tap the download button to save the video to your camera roll so you have a copy of the original for safekeeping.

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Step 12: You’re done.

You can always go back to the post on your Timeline or Page and edit the description, change the privacy settings, or delete the video, just like you would any other post.

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How to Broadcast on Facebook Live via Desktop

If you’re an admin or editor of a Facebook Page for your brand, you can also broadcast live from a desktop computer. This isn’t as spontaneous as broadcasting from a mobile device (and, obviously, isn’t as mobile), but this could be a good option for filming more static broadcasts. For example, we recently broadcast a Facebook Live panel in celebration of International Women’s Day. The panelists and interviewer sat in place the entire time, an example of when broadcasting from a steadier device could be more effective.

Step 1: Go to your Page and tap the “Write something” box, as if you’re writing a new post.

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Tap the menu option to “See All,” and click on “Start a Live Video.”

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Step 2: Write a compelling description of your video that will appear on your Page’s Timeline and in the News Feed.

Choose a descriptive and enticing summary to draw viewers in and make them unmute your Facebook Live to start watching.

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Then, click “Next.”

Step 3: Give Facebook permission to use your computer’s camera and microphone.

You won’t be prompted for this again once you do it for the first time.

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Step 4: Check to make sure your description and video view are final before starting your broadcast.

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From here, you also have the option to share live video from an external device, such as a video camera or other recording device. Tap “click here” to set up that connection.

Step 5: Press “Go Live” to start your broadcast.

Facebook will give you a “3, 2, 1 … ” countdown before going live. Tap “Finish” when you’re ready to end the broadcast.

Step 6: The broadcast will appear in the News Feed and on your Page’s Timeline, where you can edit it by tapping the drop-down arrow in the upper right-hand corner.

From here, you can change the description, change the date of posting, or create a new Facebook post featuring the broadcast. If you want a video to garner more engagement, you can also pin it to the top of your brand’s Page so it’s the first post visitors see when they visit.

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Now that you know how to broadcast from all devices, let’s dive into how to analyze Facebook Live videos.

How to Analyze Your Live Video’s Performance

How to Access Video Analytics on a Facebook Business Page

To get started analyzing your Facebook Live broadcasts, head to the “Insights” tab at the top of your brand’s Facebook Page:

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Then, head to the “Videos” section of your analytics on the left-hand side of the screen.

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From there, scroll down to the “Top Videos” section, and either choose a video from that menu to look into, or tap “Video Library” to look at all of the videos your Page has ever posted.

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Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.

The performance analytics available for Facebook Live videos are similar to those of normal videos on Facebook, with some neat additions.

  • For Pre-recorded videos: Facebook lets you analyze minutes viewed, unique viewers, video views, 10-second views, average % completion, and a breakdown of reactions, comments, and shares.
  • For Facebook Live videos: Facebook lets you analyze all the metrics listed above, plus peak live viewers, total views, average watch time, people reached, and the demographics of who watched your video.

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In addition to all of these static numbers, you can click in to each metric to see how it changed over time when the video was live. For example, if we click into “Peak Live Viewers,” we’ll see this interactive graph of video viewers over time:

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You can even see who your typical viewer was during your broadcast, based on their Facebook profile information:

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Now that you’ve got the steps down, let’s get into some tips and tricks.

14 Tips & Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Facebook Live

There are a lot of little things you can do to squeeze the most out of your Facebook Live videos. Below is an example of one of the earliest Facebook Live videos from Refinery29. This was the first video of a five-part live video series called “Chasing Daylight,” showcasing a typical night out for women in five different cities around the world. My colleague, HubSpot Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich, tracked this one down, and we refer to it in some of the tips below.

Warning: Some NSFW language.

1) Test out live video using the “Only Me” privacy setting.

If you want to play around with live broadcasting without actually sharing it with anyone else, you can change the privacy setting so you’re the only one who can see it — just like with any other Facebook post.

To switch the privacy setting to “Only Me,” follow steps 1–4 in the instructions above.

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2) Space out live videos with other Facebook posts.

Here’s a tip from HubSpot’s Social Video Manager Chelsea Hunersen. Because Facebook ranks Live videos higher than other videos and other types of posts, Hunersen recommends spacing out your Facebook Live videos with other Facebook content you post.

“Wait at least two hours before or after you post a Facebook live video,” she says. “Otherwise, your Facebook Live video may cannibalize additional traffic.”

3) Keep reintroducing yourself.

When you first start the video, take a minute to introduce yourself and what the video’s about. But keep in mind that when you first start live streaming, you may have zero people watching. Even a few seconds in, you could only have a handful of viewers. As people find your video on their News Feeds, they’ll join in — but that means you’ll want to reintroduce yourself a second, third, and even a fourth time to catch people up.

For example, in the Refinery29 video above, the host Lucie Fink introduces herself three times in the first few minutes, and several more times after that.

One second in:

Hello, Facebook Live! Hey! Lucie Fink here. I don’t know if we have anyone on the broadcast yet, so I’m going to wait about one minute to see who joins us.”

One minute in:

Hello to the 309 viewers in here right now. I’m Lucie Fink from Refinery29. Just to recap what’s happening right now, this is Episode One of Refinery29’s new global initiative, ‘Chasing Daylight.'”

A few minutes in:

Just to give a quick recap on who I am, in case you guys don’t know — I’m Lucie Fink. I work at Refinery 29. Today, I’m doing this whole new series, and this is essentially giving you guys a glimpse into the lives of women all over the world.”

15 minutes in:

So now that we have 3.5 thousand people in this broadcast, let me just start from the top because some of you might not know what is happening. I’m Lucie Fink from Refinery29, and you might know me from some videos, you might not. Either way, it is nice to meet you. Today, we are starting a new video series on Refinery’s Facebook Live platform. It’s called ‘Chasing Daylight,’ and it’s gonna be on every night this week.”

25 minutes in:

That’s what I think is so cool about ‘Chasing Daylight.’ For the people who are new and don’t really get why I’m sitting on my toilet, the answer is, I am Lucie Fink, and [this is] Episode One, the New York version of ‘Chasing Daylight,’ which is Refinery29’s new live Facebook series that’s starting right now.”

4) Make the video visually engaging.

Although all videos on Facebook auto-play in people’s News Feeds, they’re on mute until the viewer manually turns the volume on. That means you have to be visually engaging — not just at the very beginning of your broadcast (although that’ll be important for when folks view the video later), but throughout the video as more and more people join in.

The more visually engaging you can be, the more you can entice people to stick around. That means keeping the camera moving and not just sitting in one place — something Lucie did really well in that Refinery29 video.

Not only will you get more viewers this way, but you’ll also get your broadcast ranked higher in other people’s News Feeds. Facebook started monitoring signals of video engagement — like turning on the audio, switching to full-screen mode, or enabling high definition — interpreting that as users enjoying the video. As a result, they’ve tweaked the algorithm so videos that are engaged with in these ways will appear higher up on the feed.

5) Make it spontaneous.

What makes a live video special? The spontaneous, interactive nature of it.

“People love the ability to interact,” says Hunersen. “They love the novelty of viewing someone in a live moment when anything could happen. It’s the new reality TV.”

A big part of what makes Refinery29’s live video so great is how much Lucie and her friends embrace the “live,” spontaneous nature of it. For example, at one point, Lucie calls on her friends to reenact a scene from the Broadway show Hamilton. It was scrappy, unrehearsed, and really funny. Her other friends were laughing at her. It reminded me of a fun night with my own friends. “This is literally what we do at the office,” Lucie said about the performance through laughs.

These moments are what make live video special, and they’re exactly what differentiates it from scripted, edited, or otherwise pre-recorded videos. Embrace the platform. Banter is always, always good.

6) Don’t worry about mistakes or stutters.

Spontaneity works — even if your Facebook Live doesn’t go according to plan.

Let’s face it, we’re all human. And when humans and technology mix, there can sometimes be technical difficulties.

If you’re recording a live video, things might go wrong — your equipment could malfunction, you could lose your train of thought, or you could get photobombed by a random passerby. You can’t call “cut” if things happen — you have to roll with them and keep filming and talking.

The good news? These things help keep your broadcast human and real. If you wobble your phone while filming, laugh and call it out. If you forget what you were saying, make a joke. The key is to keep the broadcast like a fun conversation, so if mistakes happen, keep it light and keep the lines of communication open with your viewers.

For example, if you make a mistake during your Facebook Live, ask viewers to write in the comments if they’ve made the same mistake, too.

7) Encourage viewers to Like and share the video.

One of the primary ways Facebook’s algorithm ranks a post is by how many people Like and share it. The more people who Like and share your live broadcast, the more it’ll show up in people’s News Feeds.

But when people are watching a video, they may be more distracted from Liking and sharing it than they would a text or photo post. (That’s something the folks at Facebook noticed about video content early on, which is why they began monitoring other video engagement signals as well, like turning on the volume.)

In Refinery29’s video, you’ll notice Lucie explicitly asks viewers to Like and share the video many times throughout. Here are a few examples:

  • “If you like this broadcast and share it right now, you guys will be part of this brand new series that’s starting right now on Refinery29.”
  • “If you guys share this broadcast, you’ll be part of history. And what’s better than being part of history?”
  • “Thumbs up if you like Hamilton.”
  • “Thank you guys for all these Likes. My screen is absurdly blue right now because I’m getting tons of thumbs up.”
  • “Share this with your best girlfriend who you think is strong and powerful.”

I like the last example the best because she’s asking viewers to share it with a specific type of person — in this case, a best girlfriend. This might prompt viewers to think, “Hey, she’s right, my friend Stacy might like this” and then share it with that specific friend.

8) Engage with commenters, and call them out by name.

The number of comments on your broadcast is another way to get Facebook to give it a higher relevancy score, making it more likely to show up on people’s News Feeds. So encourage your viewers to comment, and engage with people who are commenting by answering their questions and calling them out by name. Not only will it get more people to comment, but it’s also a fun way to include your viewers in the live experience, which could make them stick around longer.

“Your audience will be thrilled to hear you mention their name and answer their questions when you are live,” says Hunersen.

In the Refinery29 video, Lucie was constantly engaging with viewers and commenters. At one point, for example, she said, “We’re so excited to see you guys! Do you have any questions for someone who lives in New York City?” Then, she read a few of the comments that came in and responded to them — using commenters’ first names.

We do this here at HubSpot with our Facebook Live broadcasts, too. Check out all the chatter in the comments — we used those questions to keep our discussion going.

9) Have someone else watching and responding to comments from a desktop computer.

When you’re the one holding the camera for a Facebook Live video, it’s really hard to see the comments popping up on the mobile screen. If the comments are coming in fast, it’s especially easy to lose sight of them as they disappear below the fold. Plus, you’re probably occupied by recording and entertaining viewers.

Because of this, it’s always a good idea to have an additional person logged into the primary account to monitor the comments on a desktop computer. That way, they can take care of responding so the person recording the video can concentrate on creating a great experience.

10) Subtitle your broadcast in the comments section.

Your viewers may be tuning in and out to watch your video during the work day, or they might simply be watching your video without sound. Either way, periodically subtitling the video in the comments section is a great way to keep people engaged. This also allows people who are tuning in late to catch up on what’s going on.

Take some inspiration from Refinery29 — it captioned the video with some of the most snackable one-liners and quotes from the broadcast in the comments section:

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11) Ask viewers to subscribe to live notifications.

In addition to asking for Likes, shares, and comments, ask viewers to subscribe to live notifications. To do that, all viewers have to do is click the small, downward-facing arrow in the top right-hand corner of the live video post, and choose “Turn On Notifications.”

You can also ask them to Like your brand on Facebook, which will make it more likely that they’ll be notified of your next live broadcast. Lucie does this in the Refinery29 video.

12) Broadcast for at least 10 minutes.

As soon as you begin recording your live video, you’ll start slowly but surely showing up in people’s News Feeds. The longer you broadcast — especially as Likes, comments, and shares start coming in — the more likely people are to discover your video and share it with their friends.

Because timing is such an important factor for engagement in these live videos, we recommend that you go live for at least 10 minutes, although you can stay live for up to 90 minutes for a given video.

13) Say goodbye before you wrap up.

Before you end your live broadcast, be sure to finish with a closing line, like “Thanks for watching” or “I’ll be going live again soon.”

Lucie from Refinery29 checked a few other engagement requests off the list at the end of her broadcast:

So, we are about to sign off. It’s been such an amazing first episode of ‘Chasing Daylight.’ . . . Don’t forget to share this to your friends right now so you can always find this series and go back to it. . . . We’re so happy that you tuned into our episode in New York. . . . Goodnight from New York City!”

14) Add a link to the description later.

Once you’ve finished the live broadcast, you can always go back and edit the description, change the privacy settings, or delete the video, just like you would any other post.

Here’s where you can add a trackable link to the description in the post, which can direct future viewers to your live video series page, the site of whatever campaign you’re using the video to promote, or somewhere else.

To edit the description of a video: Find the video on your Timeline or Page and click the downward-facing arrow in the top right-hand corner of the post. Choose “Edit Post” from the dropdown menu, and edit the description accordingly.

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We hope this has been a helpful guide. We’ll keep you posted with any new developments and tips for connecting with your audience in more cool ways.

What strategies have brought you greatest success using Facebook Live? Share with us in the comments.

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

Learn more about HubSpot Classroom Training!

Source: How to Use Facebook Live: A Step-by-Step Guide
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

20 of the Best Website Homepage Design Examples

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You never get a second chance to make a first impression — that’s why your homepage is undoubtedly one of the most important web pages on your website.

For any given company, the homepage is its virtual front door. If a new visitor doesn’t like what they see, their knee-jerk reaction is to hit the “back” button.

That’s right — unfortunately, a lot of people still judge a book by its cover.

What makes a website’s homepage design brilliant instead of blah? Well, it takes more than looks alone — it also has to work well. That’s why the most brilliant homepages on this list don’t just score high in beauty, but also in brains.New Call-to-action

But before we dive into the examples, let’s dissect some of the best practices of homepage design.

What Makes a Good Website Homepage Design

All of the homepage designs shown here utilize a combination of the following elements. Not every page is perfect, but the best homepage designs get many of these right:

1) The design clearly answers “Who I am,” “What I do,” and/or “What can you (the visitor) do here.”

If you’re a well-known brand or company (i.e., Coca-Cola) you may be able to get away with not having to describe who you are and what you do; but the reality is, most businesses still need to answer these questions so that each visitor knows they are in the “right place.”

Steven Krugg sums it up best in his best-selling book, Don’t Make Me Think: If visitors can’t identify what it is you do within seconds, they won’t stick around long.

2) The design resonates with the target audience.

A homepage needs to be narrowly focused — speaking to the right people in their language. The best homepages avoid “corporate gobbledygook,” and eliminate the fluff.

3) The design communicates a compelling value proposition.

When a visitor arrives on your homepage, it needs to compel them to stick around. The homepage is the best place to nail your value proposition so that prospects choose to stay on your website and not navigate to your competitors’.

4) The design is optimized for multiple devices.

All the homepages listed here are highly usable, meaning they are easy to navigate and there aren’t “flashy” objects that get in the way of browsing, such as flash banners, animations, pop-ups, or overly-complicated and unnecessary elements. Many are also mobile-optimized, which is an incredibly important must-have in today’s mobile world.

5) The design includes calls-to-action (CTAs).

Every homepage listed here effectively uses primary and secondary calls-to-action to direct visitors to the next logical step. Examples include “Free Trial,” “Schedule a Demo,” “Buy Now,” or “Learn More.”

Remember, the goal of the homepage is to compel visitors to dig deeper into your website and move them further down the funnel. CTAs tell them what to do next so they don’t get overwhelmed or lost. More importantly, CTAs turn your homepage into a sales or lead-generation engine, and not just brochure-wear.

6) The design is always changing.

The best homepages aren’t always static. Some of them are constantly changing to reflect the needs, problems, and questions of their visitors. Some homepages also change from A/B testing or dynamic content.

7) The design is effective.

A well-designed page is important to building trust, communicating value, and navigating visitors to the next step. As such, these homepages effectively use layout, CTA placement, whitespace, colors, fonts, and other supporting elements.

Now, get ready to learn about excellent homepage design through the following 16 real-life examples.

Website Design Inspiration: 20 of the Best Homepage Designs

1) FreshBooks

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VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • It’s easy to consume. There is much debate on whether short or long homepages work better. If you choose to do the latter, you need to make it easy to scroll and read — and that’s exactly what this site does. It almost acts like a story.
  • There’s great use of contrast and positioning with the primary calls-to-action — it’s clear what the company wants you to convert on when you arrive.
  • The copy used in the calls-to-action “Get Started for Free” is very compelling.
  • FreshBooks uses customer testimonials on the homepage to tell real-world stories of why to use the product.
  • The sub-headline is also great: “Join over 10 million small business owners using FreshBooks.” FreshBooks expertly employs social proof — 10 million is a big number — to compel its target audience to join their peers and try the tool.

2) Airbnb

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VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • It includes the destination and date search form that most visitors come looking for, right up front, guiding visitors to the logical next step.
  • The search form is “smart,” meaning it’ll auto-fill the user’s last search if they’re logged in.
  • The primary call-to-action (“Search”) contrasts with the background and stands out; but the secondary call-to-action for hosts is visible above the fold, too.
  • It offers suggestions for excursions and getaways Airbnb users can book on the same site as their lodgings to get visitors more excited about booking their trip on the site. It also shows which of these offerings are most popular among other users.

3) Mint

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VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • It’s a super simple design with a strong, no-jargon headline and sub-headline.
  • The homepage gives off a secure but easy-going vibe, which is important for a product that handles financial information.
  • It also contains simple, direct, and compelling call-to-action copy: “Sign up free.” The CTA design is also brilliant — the secured lock icon hits home the safety message once again.

4) Dropbox (Business)

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VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • Dropbox carries over its simple design and branding. It includes only what is important: A large, relevant image with supporting copy, and a “Try free for 30 days” call-to-action button
  • Dropbox’s homepage and website is the ultimate example of simplicity. It limits its use of copy and visuals and embraces whitespace.
  • Its sub-headline is simple, yet powerful: “The secure file sharing and storage solution that employees and IT admins trust.” No need to decode jargon to figure out what Dropbox really does.

5) 4 Rivers Smokehouse

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Why It’s Brilliant

  • Drool. That’s what I think when I arrive at the website for 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Combined with great photography, the headline “Brisket. 18 years to master. Yours to savor.” sounds like an experience worth trying.
  • The parallax scrolling guides you on a tour through the services, menu, and people having a great time — a great use of this popular design trend.
  • The only negative? I don’t live close enough to this place. Boo.

6) Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services

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VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • The headline and sub-headline appeal to the visitors’ emotional side: “Work With a Company That Gets It”; “Trust us. We’ve been there too! We’ll find jobs where you can thrive.” That value proposition is unique and compelling.
  • It’s hard to tell from the screenshot above, but the headline is on a rotating carousel that caters to specific personas, from job applicants to people searching for a therapist for their schools.
  • There are several pathways visitors can take when they arrive on the page, but the calls-to-action are positioned well, worded simply, and contrast with the rest of the page.

7) Jill Konrath

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VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • It’s simple and gets straight to the point. From the headline and sub-headline, it’s clear exactly what Jill Konrath does (and how she can help your business).
  • It also gives easy access to Jill’s thought leadership materials, which is important to establishing her credibility as a keynote speaker.
  • It’s easy to subscribe to the newsletter and get in touch — two of her primary calls-to-action.
  • The pop-up subscription CTA uses social proof to get you to join her thousands of other fans.
  • It includes news outlet logos and testimonials as social proof.

8) Evernote

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Why It’s Brilliant

  • Over the years, Evernote has turned from a simple note-saving app into a suite of business products. This isn’t always easy to convey on a homepage, but Evernote does a nice job packaging many potential messages into a few key benefits.
  • This homepage uses a combination of rich, muted colors in the video and its signature bright green and white highlights to make conversion paths stand out.
  • Following a simple headline (“Remember Everything”), the eye path then leads you to its call-to-action, “Sign Up For Free.”
  • Evernote also offers a one-click signup process through Google to help visitors save even more time.

9) Telerik by Progress

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Why It’s Brilliant

  • “Stuffy enterprise” isn’t the feeling you get when you arrive at Telerik’s website. For a company that offers many technology products, its bold colors, fun designs, and videography give off a Google-like vibe. Just one important aspect to making visitors feel welcome and letting them know they’re dealing with real people.
  • I love the simple, high-level overview of its six product offers. It’s very clear way of communicating what the company does and how people can learn more.
  • The copy is lightweight and easy to read. It speaks the language of its customers.

10) eWedding

ewedding-homepage-update.png

Why It’s Brilliant

  • For those love birds planning their big day, eWedding is a great destination to building a custom wedding website. The homepage isn’t cluttered and only includes the necessary elements to get people to starting building their websites.
  • The sub-headline “Over 800,000 wedding websites built!” is great social proof.
  • It’s included excellent product visuals, a great headline, and a call-to-action that reduces friction with the copy, “Start website.”

11) Basecamp

basecamp-homepage-update.png

Why It’s Brilliant

  • For a long time, Basecamp has had brilliant homepages, and here you can see why. It often features awesome headlines and clever cartoons.
  • The call-to-action is bold and above the fold.
  • In this example, the company chose a more blog-like homepage (or single page site approach), which provides much more information on the product.
  • The customer quote is a bold and emphatic testimonial speaking to the benefits and results of using the product.

12) charity: water

charity water-homepage-update.png

Why It’s Brilliant

  • This isn’t your typical non-profit website. Lots of visuals, creative copy, and use of interactive web design make this stand out.
  • The animated header image is a great way to capture attention.
  • It employs great uses of video and photography, particularly in capturing emotion that causes action.

12) TechValidate

tech-validate-homepage-design.png

Why It’s Brilliant

  • This homepage is beautifully designed. I particularly love the use of whitespace, contrasting colors, and customer-centric design.
  • The headline is clear and compelling, as are the calls-to-action.
  • There’s also a great information hierarchy, making it easy to scan and understand the page quickly.

13) Chipotle

chipotle-homepage-design.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • The homepage is a great example of agility and constant change. Chipotle’s current homepage is all about the forthcoming holiday, which it uses as a unique value proposition to get you to start clicking through your site. When I think Chipotle, I don’t necessarily think about catering, but the site is a great reminder to consider different uses for the burritos you already know and love.
  • The food photography is detailed and beautiful, and it actually makes me hungry looking at it. Now that’s an effective use of visuals.

14) Medium

medium-homepage-design.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • This is perhaps one of the best uses of whitespace I’ve seen. It allows Medium’s app tagline and photo to take center stage while still drawing your eye to the darker section titles on the site.
  • Medium makes it easy to sign up — on the site, or with a simple text message to your mobile phone. I’m much more responsive to a text than an email, so this is a great strategy to keep people engaged in the signup process.
  • The homepage uses social proof to get visitors to start clicking around: The “Popular on Medium” and “Staff Picks” sections let me know where to find high-quality content.

15) Digiday

digiday-homepage-design.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • Unlike other online news publications that inundate homepages with as many headlines and images as possible, Digiday’s first section showcases just one article. Its featured image (in this case, a scary one) is eye-catching, and the headline is just asking to be clicked now that the visitor has an idea of what they’re going to read.
  • The top of the homepage, where websites normally showcase a ton of different sections and options to click through, only has one icon to click — which leads you to a subscription page.

16) KIND Snacks

kind-homepage-design.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • The bold colors produce contrast, making the words and images stand out on the page.
  • The CTA — “Shop KIND” — is clever. It urges the visitor to click to learn more while making a play on the word “kind” — implying that it’s a good choice to shop there.
  • KIND Snacks’ tagline is straight up brilliant — when I read it, the message immediately resonated and made me want to read the snack bar’s label.

17) Ahrefs

Ahrefs-homepage-design.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • The color contrast between the blue, white, and orange colors is eye-catching and makes the headline and CTA pop.
  • The sub-headline and CTA are a compelling pair: To be able to start tracking and outranking competitors for free is a great offer.
  • The homepage presents a multitude of options for the visitor, but it isn’t cluttered thanks to the solid background and simple typography.

18) A24 Films

a24-homepage-design.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • The film company’s homepage is made up of only trailers for its new films. We know video content is format audiences want to see more of, and this is a great strategy to showcase A24’s work in a highly engaging way.
  • At the top of the homepage, A24 immediately offers a myriad of ways to get in touch via social media and email — something I appreciate as a visitor when so many other sites bury contact information at the bottom of the page.

19) Ellevest

ellevest-homepage-design.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant

  • “Invest Like a Woman: Because money is power.” These headlines are powerful and make me want to learn more about the product — both as a woman, and as someone interested in making smart financial choices.
  • The images show, rather than tell, one of the company’s value propositions: a desktop site and mobile app that move with you.
  • “Get Started” is a great CTA — in fact, we use it ourselves here at HubSpot. When clicked, it takes visitors through a few simple steps to set up a profile and start investing.

20) HubSpot

hubspot-homepage-design-update.png

VIEW ENTIRE HOMEPAGE

Why It’s Brilliant (If We Do Say So Ourselves)

  • The LEGO characters catch your attention (because they’re cute), then they cleverly illustrate and reinforce the messaging in the headline and sub-headline.
  • It bears another eye-catching “Get Started” CTA — with bonus microcopy detailing our free versions users can choose to upgrade in the future.
  • Throughout the homepage, our bright blue and orange color themes keep returning to draw your eye to links and CTAs.

What do you think of these homepages? Which are your favorites? Share with us in the comments below.

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

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Source: 20 of the Best Website Homepage Design Examples
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

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

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

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

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

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:

quicksprout-1.png

9) Content Marketing

Email Marketing

HubSpot Academy

10) HubSpot Email Marketing Certification

QuickSprout

11) Email Marketing

Social Media

QuickSprout

12) Social Media

13) Paid Advertising

Wordstream

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:

PPCuniversity.png

14) Wordstream PPC University

edX

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

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:

alisontopiclist.png

16) Diploma in Social Media Marketing

Hootsuite

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

Facebook

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.

facebookblueprint.png

18) Facebook Blueprint

quintly

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

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

SEO

Google

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

Udemy

22) SEO Training Course by Moz

23) Advanced SEO: Tactics and Strategy

QuickSprout

24) SEO

Coding, Design & Other Technical Skills

HubSpot Academy

25) HubSpot Growth-Driven Design Certification

Codeacademy

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:

codecademy-learning-environment-3.png

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

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.

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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:

short-and-sweet.png
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:

AZWstrawCoverLetter.jpg

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”:

THE-EPIC-COVER-LETTER.jpg
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.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

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

ContentLength-compressor.jpg

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

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

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

The Length & Character Count for Everything on the Internet

1) Blog Posts

1-6nX_PYNpn0Ajc0tardzIkg.png
Source: Medium

Quick reference:

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

Post Body

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

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

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

word-count-vs-organic-traffic.png

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

Title

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

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

zZnBTOG2Fc-iloveimg-compressed.gif

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

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

headline-length-vs-social-shares.png

Meta Description

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

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

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

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

sejvREM3G7-iloveimg-compressed (1).gif

2) Facebook

Quick reference:

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

Status Updates

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

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

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

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

Video

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

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

b3c077ee5e1cad372628b599fceca8c7717cd4ba.jpg
Source: Wistia

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

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

3) Twitter

Quick reference:

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

Length of Tweets

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

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

LeiQz3vJLI-iloveimg-compressed.gif 

Ideal Length Overall

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

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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.

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Source: Buffer

Videos

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

4) LinkedIn

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Profiles

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

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

Original Content

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

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

5) Instagram

Quick reference:

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

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

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

Captions

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

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

6) Snapchat

Quick reference:

  • Character limit: 80 per post

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

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

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

7) YouTube

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

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

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

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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.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

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

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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?

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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:

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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?”

9) HEMA

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:

Oops.

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.

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

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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

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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

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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.”

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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.

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Source: Vetusware

The 1990s

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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.

clipartcom2017.png

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:

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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.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 Websites Every Growth Hacker Should Bookmark

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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

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

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

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

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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

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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free introduction to growth-driven web design


Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
blog.hubspot.com/marketing