LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform, with more than 467 million members worldwide. However, LinkedIn members aren’t actually spending much time on the site. In fact, only 23% of LinkedIn users visited the site every month at the end of 2016. That’s not a great monthly active user number, and the website redesign was meant to “create more value” for LinkedIn members — and, hopefully, make them want to spend more time on the site.
For example, the LinkedIn desktop homepage used to look something like this:
And this is what my LinkedIn homepage looked like when I wrote this article:
There’s a lot behind this slick interface. Let’s dive into some of the biggest changes to the site since the redesign and how marketers and users might take advantage of them going forward.
6 Changes to LinkedIn You May Have Missed
1) A new homepage feed
Using a combination of human editors and new algorithms, LinkedIn will start surfacing more content and fewer status updates. The homepage feed will start suggesting organic, sponsored, and native advertising content users might be interested in reading. The feed will also help users follow trending stories … sound familiar? If LinkedIn is trying to make its user base engage more on the platform, modeling a feed in the style of Facebook is a safe bet.
2) More analytics
LinkedIn now provides more analytics about how other users interact with the content you share — not just who views your profile or who likes one of your posts. Now, users can see not only who likes their content, but which companies they come from and what roles they’re in.
Here are analytics from an article I posted recently on LinkedIn:
The platform also suggests other articles I might share with my network for even more engagement.
3) New (and missing) search features
LinkedIn refined its search capabilities so users can search all of LinkedIn with a single, unified search experience based on certain keywords. Now, users can easily toggle between different categories related to search terms without having to move between different categories of the site.
Check out what the results look like when I search for “content marketing:”
Whereas previously, LinkedIn users had to go into each of these sections (“People,” “Jobs,” “Companies”) in order to conduct searches, now users can search from one place to get all of the results they’re looking for.
Notably, LinkedIn removed some of the Advanced Search filters that were previously available on LinkedIn Premium and are now only available for the more expensive Sales Navigator tier of LinkedIn Premium. These filters include “years of experience,” “function,” and “seniority level.”
4) Chat-like messaging
Soon, LinkedIn will roll out messaging that allows users to send InMail like a chat instead of an email. Users won’t have to navigate to another pane to send a private message — instead, they’ll be able to send a direct chat without leaving the LinkedIn homepage feed, as shown in the image below:
In another nod to Facebook’s Messenger layout, this change helps users easily spend more time clicking around the site. Plus, users might be less likely to send the dreaded default InMail message if they know it will appear like a chat instead of an email.
5) Calendar chatbot
Next, LinkedIn is introducing a chatbot. It will look at two connections’ calendars and find and set times for them to meet directly within LinkedIn’s messenger platform. It hasn’t been rolled out as of the time of this posting, but in another nod to Facebook Messenger and other bots, this is an addition designed to keep users spending time on the site. Stay tuned for more news when the bot launches fully.
6) New blogging interface
LinkedIn also now features a slick new publishing platform. Before, publishers had to navigate to LinkedIn Pulse to write an original blog post. Now, users are one click away from a slick, easy-to-use blog publishing platform.
Check it out:
Blogging on LinkedIn could garner more attention to your brand’s site if LinkedIn grows in popularity. In fact, content consumption on LinkedIn has increased over the last few years, so marketers should consider LinkedIn as a platform for reproducing or creating original content.
What’s Next For LinkedIn?
Amidst these changes, marketers should keep an eye on where their audience is spending time. If LinkedIn’s number of monthly active users increases in its next quarterly report, it might be worthwhile to invest more resources in running campaigns and creating content for the site.
We’ll keep you posted on more changes to the platform and its usage as that news unfolds. In the meantime, click around the new website and experiment with the new analytics capabilities to see if your audience wants to spend time on LinkedIn with you. And if you need guidance for running a strong LinkedIn ad campaign, download our guide here.
Do you publish original content on LinkedIn? Share with us in the comments below.
According to the latest Top Agency Trends Report from Agency Spotter, marketers and brands search for different services depending on the time of the year. Knowing which services to offer and emphasize at different times of the year could help your agency stand above your competition. These search trends, based on seasonality, come down to a couple of different factors based on what companies are looking to accomplish at different times of the year.
The report covers marketing services trends based on data from more than 120,000 unique users and three years, data on service seasonality, the top 25 agency services being searched, and the rise of project-based engagements.
Let’s dig in.
Marketing Services Searched More in the First Half of the Year
As companies begin the new year, they are looking to establish initiatives that are relatively quick fixes and do not take as much time to implement. Business leaders often take a look at their marketing data from the past year and see which areas need more attention or may have fallen down the to-do list.
Looking at the Trends Report, we can see that services like content marketing, PR, SEO, data analytics, shopper marketing, and events all perform better in the first half of the year. From the top 25 agency services for 2016, content marketing took the 7th spot as the most searched service from marketers all year. Interestingly, if you divide the list into H1 and H2, you can see that content marketing was 9th in H1 but did not even make the Top 25 in H2.
Content marketing is becoming increasingly important for all companies to utilize because it helps attract and inform customers and potential customers. But if you think about it, companies don’t generally set a content calendar at the end of the year — they tend to do that at the beginning of the year. Same thing goes for SEO and PR.
Check out the list below to see which keywords fall off or perform better at a certain time of year, and then optimize your site accordingly.
Agency Services Perform Better in H2
Taking a look at the data, services like ecommerce, branding, UX design, email marketing, and CRM automation all perform better in the second half of the year. These align with initiatives that take more planning and are services that many companies want to have ready before the start of a new year.
Design-based services like ecommerce, branding, and UX all have to do with experiences that directly interact with customers. A website redesign or branding makeover are usually planned in the middle of the year so that companies are ready to debut their new look in the new year.
As you can see in the report, ecommerce went from 18th most searched in H1 to 5th in H2, branding from 12th to 6th, and UX took the 9th spot despite not even appearing on the H1 list.
Services Shopped Consistently Year Round
There are also agency services whose demand remains stable throughout the year.
The big services like advertising, web design, digital, social media, and marketing perform all year. Use this data to better understand the behavior of your customers and when they are searching.
Finally, here are the biggest shifts from 2015 to 2016:
Knowing what services perform better throughout the year can help your agency strategically position business development, staffing, and other factors to help your agency rise above the competition. For more information about the marketing service industry, download the free Agency Spotter Agency Trends Report.
Every interaction you have, with everyone from your pet sitter to your massage therapist, is an opportunity to network professionally. But how do you most effectively represent and market your company or personal brand without seeming opportunistic, inappropriate, or intrusive?
Here are some quick tips to help you make connections, expand your social network, and nurture professional relationships.
Extroverted people seem to have it so easy, making friends with everyone from their UPS delivery person to other dog owners in the park! But these interactions don’t rely on actually connecting deeply with everyone; instead, making successful connections can be as easy as noticing and remembering things about the people you see frequently. Taking the time to notice and acknowledge the people you routinely interact with can help you extend your social network slowly but significantly. For example, remembering your law office’s UPS carrier’s name and inquiring about her baby can help your brief interactions be social connections as well as routine service calls. Carrying an extra biscuit to the dog park can help you win over a friendly pup (and his owner). When your UPS carrier needs to write a will or your park friend gets a speeding ticket, you might be the first lawyer to pop into their minds.
Be aware of what people do and what they need, and make people aware of what you do and the needs you fulfill—without trying to sell them anything. As the old axiom goes, “people like to work with people they like.” Most everyone participates in social groups outside of work, which can be fertile ground for potential professional connections. Use your social media profiles to post links to interesting articles about your profession; share amusing anecdotes about your job during long runs with your training group; or volunteer at the food bank wearing your company t-shirt. If you’re an event planner, for example, the more people in your social network who know what you do, like you, and think you are trustworthy, the more likely it is that one of them will call you when they need to plan a wedding or corporate event. Expanding your social network multiplies your chances to use your social connections for professional advancement (without being a pest).
Most people can tell when they’re being “schmoozed” or manipulated, and few respond well. If you’re not a social butterfly, but you’re at an event that calls for some social interaction, try being honest about your discomfort: “I never know what to say at these things! Small talk just isn’t my strong point—I’m more of a numbers and details kind of person. Hi, I’m Julie, by the way.” Especially in situations where you feel vulnerable or exposed—literally or figuratively—being open about your insecurity can earn you respect.
Another great way to gain and strengthen connections, especially if you’re not great at chit-chat, is to ask open-ended questions and genuinely listen to the responses. Most people like to talk about themselves, their passions, their kids, etc., so ask them, pay attention to their answers, and remember them (see tip #1). If you don’t feel comfortable chatting with your hair stylist, ask him how he got into styling, what his dream job is, what his favorite movie or pop culture hair inspiration is, etc. and just let him talk. You’ll be surprised how close this can make people feel to you without you having to share anything.
Don’t Force It.
I was recently on a plane sitting next to a woman who was frightened to fly. We chatted a bit as the plane ascended about the safety and physics of flight and the beautiful scenery we expected to see along the way. When we reached altitude, she settled in to enjoy the view, and I whipped out my laptop to work on a blog for a custom homebuilder. When she turned back to me to point out the majesty of the Grand Canyon, she noticed my work in progress; as it turned out, she was a Realtor. After talking briefly about the advantages of retaining a content creation expert to write your business blog and the current state of the real estate market in her location, we exchanged cards and returned to our respective activities.
Nothing about this encounter felt for either of us like we were trying to “sell” the other on our product/brand; rather, exchanging professional information was an organic part of an ongoing interaction at a time that was appropriate. Learn to take advantage of openings when appropriate, but don’t force them. Afterward, make sure you follow up with a note or email. If you become friends on social media, make sure to engage further than just the initial add. Use calendar reminders to encourage you to remember to follow up, even with social contacts.
The long-term secret to networking is developing a strong social network. Today’s social media platforms make it easier than ever to connect with and keep in touch with contacts located all over the world. Engaging an experienced marketing company can help you make your website and social media platforms look professional and welcoming. Once you learn how to use them to enhance your in-person social networking efforts, you can more easily leverage your social connections into professional gains—without alienating your friends.
Learn more about networking with this free eBook about networking on LinkedIn!
Almost every prospect has objections — and most have several. It’s difficult enough to change someone’s mind when money isn’t on the table, so doing so when the outcome has a financial impact is really tough.
If you’re not a skilled objection-handler, your ability to close will pay the price (literally). You might suspect you’re not good at resolving objections … but why? Here are five potential reasons.
1) You think you can “win” an objection.
When your prospect starts a sentence with “But”, do you immediately go into “fight” mode? I don’t blame you: It’s easy to think of every objection as an obstacle you have to defeat before getting to the end.
However, this aggressive approach won’t do you any favors. Prospects don’t want to argue with you or feel like they’re being persuaded against their will. Most of the time, you’ll actually end up convincing them they’re right. Even if they do cede in the moment, their objection will bubble up again at the crucial closing stage.
Reframe your perspective on objections — think of them as an opportunity to correct any misinformation your prospect has or simply give them new details they’re not aware of.
If you work with them versus against them, you’ll actually have a shot of resolving their concerns.
2) You treat every objection equally.
Some objections are legitimate blockers. Others are brush-offs disguised as objections. It’s your job to differentiate them so you know how to respond.
That’s harder than it sounds, because an excuse given at the beginning of the sales process might be a real objection when it’s voiced a little later.
For example, if your prospect says on the connect call, “We don’t have the budget for this right now,” they may be blowing you off.
But if you’re discussing pricing and they say, “I love the product, but our budget is being halved and my director says we can’t buy anything over X amount,” you’re probably dealing with a real objection.
The latter deserves a real response. If you can’t find a solution, you should walk away. But if you’re hit with a brush-off, find a way to continue the conversation so you can prove to the buyer the value of your product.
3) You don’t prepare for objections.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. You should know in advance which potential objections you’ll hear before every sales call — and not only that, you should have responses ready to go.
Doing this in advance means you won’t be lost for words when the actual call rolls around.
How do you know which objections you’ll likely hear? Compare your prospect to similar ones based on budget, company size, product type, priorities and challenges, and/or location. Review your CRM notes to see which objections have come up with those prospects. To take it one step further, note which responses you used and whether you closed those deals.
4) You don’t proactively address objections.
It’s never a good idea to let your prospect stew over their objections for days, weeks, or even months. If you address their objection when it’s newly formed, you’ll have a much better shot of convincing them otherwise. The longer you wait, the stronger that concern becomes in their mind.
For that reason, ask for objections at every step of the sales process. Doing so is simple — just use any of these questions:
“Is there anything you see standing in the way of [company] buying [product]?”
“What do you see as potential obstacles to this [partnership, purchase]?”
“Which concerns do you have at this point?”
“You seem to have some reservations about [price, use case, functionality, etc.] Do you want to talk about it?”
Not only will you get valuable insight into your prospect’s decision making criteria, you’ll also earn their trust and respect by being direct.
5) You’re not honest.
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make around objection-handling: Fudging the truth. It’s always tempting to gloss over a buyer’s concerns with an answer that’s slightly untrue — for example, if your prospect says, “I don’t think the solution can help us with X,” you might say, “Our engineers are actually working on a feature for that right now.”
Your prospect ends up buying, you get commission … What’s the problem?
Well, when the months go by and the promised feature doesn’t show up — or they discover the product doesn’t do what you said, or it’s less powerful than you implied, and so on — they’ll be pissed.
Pissed customers cancel. Not only that, they tell their colleagues not to buy your product. And that’s how you poison a well of revenue.
If any — or several — of these poor objection-handling habits sound familiar, commit yourself to improving immediately. As your skills improve, you’ll see the effects on your win rate.
When I was just a wee lass and HubSpot was first starting to make a name for itself, inbound marketing was a brand new idea. Marketers were learning that they couldn’t just publish a high volume of content — it also had to be high-quality and optimized in ways that made it as discoverable as possible through search engines.
And once upon a time, that content was largely limited to the written word. Eleven years later, that’s no longer the case — a comprehensive content strategy includes written work like blogs and ebooks, as well as media like podcasts, visual assets, and videos.
That last part — video — continues to be on the rise. According to the 2017 State of Inbound, marketers named video as a huge disruptor. “I mostly write content right now,” one respondent said, “but I’m afraid it may begin to diminish more and more with video.”
And with the rise of other content formats comes the need to optimize them for search. One increasingly important place to do that is on YouTube, which is a video distribution website used by the masses (HubSpot included).
But how does that work? What are the steps you need to take to optimize your YouTube channel for search? We’ve outlined some major tips below. And if you’re short on time, no problem — check out the video summary here.
7 YouTube Search Optimization Tips
When we search for videos, one of the first things that our eyes are drawn to is the title. That’s often what determines whether or not the viewer will click to watch your video, so the title should not only be compelling, but also, clear and concise.
It also helps if the title closely matches what the viewer is searching for. Research conducted by Backlinko found that videos with an exact keyword match in the title have a slight advantage over those that don’t. Here’s a linear representation of those findings:
So while “using your target keyword in your title may help you rank for that term,” report author Brian Dean explains, “the relationship between keyword-rich video titles and rankings is” weak, at best.
Finally, make sure to keep your title fairly short — HubSpot Content Strategist Alicia Collins recommends limiting it to 60 characters to help keep it from getting cut off in results pages.
First things first: According to Google, the official character limit for YouTube video descriptions is 1,000 characters. And while it’s okay to use all of that space, remember that your viewer most likely came here to watch a video, not to read a story.
If you do choose to write a longer description, keep in mind that YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text — that amounts to about 100 characters. After that point, viewers have to click “show more” to see the full description. That’s why we suggest front-loading the description with the most important information, like CTAs or crucial links.
Dean is careful not to encourage ditching an optimized description altogether, though. “An optimized description helps you show up in the suggested videos sidebar,” he writes, “which is a significant source of views for most channels.”
YouTube’s official Creator Academy suggests using tags to let viewers know what your video is about. But you’re not just informing your viewers — you’re also informing YouTube itself. Dean explains that the platform uses tags “to understand the content and context of your video.”
That way, YouTube figures out how to associate your video with similar videos, which can broaden your content’s reach. But choose your tags widely. Don’t use an irrelevant tag because you think it’ll get you more views — in fact, Google might penalize you for that. And similar to your description, lead with the most important keywords, including a good mix of those that are common and more long-tail (as in, those that answer a question like “how do I?”).
Once you upload a video, you can categorize it under “Advanced settings.” Choosing a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube.
It might not be as simple as it looks. In fact, YouTube’s Creator Academy suggests that marketers go through a comprehensive process to determine which category each video belongs in. It’s helpful, the guide writes, “to think about what is working well for each category” you’re considering by answering questions like:
Who are the top creators within the category? What are they known for, and what do they do well?
Are there any patterns between the audiences of similar channels within a given category?
Do the videos within a similar category have share qualities like production value, length, or format?
Your video thumbnail is the main image viewers see when scrolling through a list of video results. Along with the video’s title, that thumbnail sends a signal to the viewer about the video’s content, so it can impact the number of clicks and views your video receives.
While you can always pick one of the thumbnail options auto-generated by YouTube, we highly recommend uploading a custom thumbnail. The Creator Academy reports that “90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails,” recommending the use of images that are 1280×720 pixels — representing a 16:9 ratio — that are saved as 2MB or smaller .jpg, .gif, .bmp, or .png files. If you follow those parameters, it can help to ensure that your thumbnail appears with equally high quality across multiple viewing platforms.
It’s important to note that your YouTube account has to be verified in order to upload a custom thumbnail image. To do that, visit youtube.com/verify and follow the instructions listed there.
6) SRT Files (Subtitles & Closed Captions)
Like much of the other text we’ve discussed here, subtitles and closed captions can boost YouTube search optimization by highlighting important keywords.
In order to add subtitles or closed captions to your video, you’ll have to upload a supported text transcript or timed subtitles file. For the former, you can also directly enter transcript text for a video so that it auto-syncs with the video.
Adding subtitles follows a similar process, however, you can limit the amount of text you want displayed. For either, head to your video manager then click on “Videos” under “Video Manager.” Find the video you want to add subtitles or closed captioning to, and click the drop-down arrow next to the edit button. Then, choose “Subtitles/CC.” You can then select how you’d like to add subtitles or closed captioning.
Google has provided great instructions on how to do that here, as well as in the video below.
7) Cards and End Screens
When you’re watching a video, have you ever seen a small white, circular icon with an “i” in the center appear in the corner, or a translucent bar of text asking you to subscribe? Those are Cards, which Creator Academy describes as “preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel.”
You can add up to five cards to a single video, and there are six types:
Channel cards that direct viewers to another channel.
Donation cards to encourage fundraising on behalf of U.S. nonprofit organizations.
Fan funding to ask your viewers to help support the creation of your video content.
Link cards, which direct viewers to an external site, approved crowdfunding platform, or an approved merchandise selling platform.
Poll cards, which pose a question to viewers and allow them to vote for a response.
Video or playlist cards, which link to other YouTube content of this kind.
For detailed steps on adding a card to your video, follow these official steps from Google, or check out the video below.
End screens display similar information as cards, but as you may have guessed, they don’t display until a video is over, and are a bit more visually detailed in nature. A good example is the overlay with a book image and a visual link to view more on the video below:
There are a number of detailed instructions for adding end screens depending on what kind of platform you want to design them for, as well as different types of content allowed for them by YouTube. Google outlines the details for how to optimize for all of those considerations here.
It’s important to note that YouTube is always testing end screens to try to optimize the viewer experience, so there are times when “your end screen, as designated by you, may not appear.” Take these factors into account as you decide between using either cards or end screens.
You may be feeling like you have tried everything in the sales book to reconnect with clients or stay in touch over long sales cycles. But have you ever thought about sending them a personal video?
Video content has an innate ability to grab our interest. In fact, including video in an email can boost click-through rates by 28%. These videos don’t need to be highly produced — think of them as video voicemails. They are professional in that you want to represent yourself well, but your personality should come through.
Here are the four main elements of a great sales video.
1) An Engaging Reason for Reaching Out
Less is always more. Here are three interesting themes that’ll keep your video under 45 seconds:
Pay them a compliment: If the prospect or their company has posted something they’re excited about or proud of, congratulate them and give some follow-up thoughts.
Provide sort of value to the client: Describe the content you’re sending to them and why you thought they’d find it helpful.
Share news: Give them an update that’s important or relevant to their business.
You can also keep it light. One of our reps revived an old pipeline deal that was about to sign with a competitor when he sent a comical 15-second video with the email subject line “Hail Mary.” The video began with him catching a football and asking the client if we were still on their “roster.” The client loved it, and we ended up getting the deal.
2) A Strong Call-to-Action
Consider your objective before you create a video. Are you trying to get your prospect’s attention, schedule a call or meeting, reengage them after they’ve gone dark, or show them a compelling benefit of your product?
Once you’ve clarified your goal, structure your video and call-to-action around it.
For example, your CTA for reengaging them might be:
“We haven’t connected in a few weeks, but I have an idea for your upcoming [event, campaign, goal]. Respond to this email if you want to schedule a quick five-minute call.”
3) A Welcoming Set-Up
Keep your videos to 30 seconds or shorter when reconnecting with a client or sending a quick note saying hello. Remember to relax, smile, look directly into the camera, and use a plain, non-distracting background.
We also recommend starting with their name: “Hey, [name]!” or “Hope you’re having a great day so far, [name].” This makes your video feel more personalized and friendly.
4) Good (Enough) Quality
Your video doesn’t need to be Hollywood-worthy, but it should be easy to watch.
Use your webcam or a cellphone and a tripod. Tripods for cell phones are important because they let you shoot your video in landscape mode at eye level.
If you’re using your webcam, make sure it’s high enough to avoid the “chin” shot.
Lastly, use an editing tool to cut out the dead time at the beginning and end of your recording. If you’re shooting on your iPhone or Android, you can trim right on your phone.
Apple users can use iMovie; Windows 10 users can trim right in Photos after shooting the video using the Camera app.
We also recommend downloading a teleprompter app (like this one for Android or this one for Apple, both free) if you’re more comfortable following a script.
Our sales reps share their personal video clips in our owncloud-based video hosting solution, 2Win! Bridge. This software lets them upload videos quickly and host them in a non-distracting environment.
Sending your prospect a personalized video is a great way to revive a stalled deal. It might make more time to create one than write an email, but the results will pay for themselves.
When was the last time you created something online that went viral?
Whether you’re new to content marketing or are a viral content maven, you probably know that it can be nearly impossible to predict which tweet or video or meme might go viral. Often, it feels like virality is just completely random.
We asked three content marketing experts to weigh in on what they think makes some content super-popular while other content goes straight to the internet graveyard.
Drawing from their own knowledge and experience, they share their perspectives below. Learn what they think sets viral content apart.
What Makes Content Go Viral?
We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.
— Megan Conley, Content Marketing Strategist at HubSpot
When creating new content, seriously ask yourself two questions: “Why would anyone share this?” and “Will this help someone better express themselves?” If you can’t answer either of these questions, that content has no chance at going viral. People share content that strikes an emotional chord with them. Your job is to identify and articulate that emotion-driving element.
There are two interdependent sides to the notion of viral content. On the human side, when a piece of content excites its audience, triggering an emotional response, to the point that they can’t help but to share it. In other words, it’s “remarkable” content. From the engineering side, social technologies measure engagement, map it over time down to the millisecond, and then surface content deemed high quality to get more impressions and even more engagement. The interplay between those two mechanisms is what makes content go viral.
In life, there are a few certainties: death, taxes, and Facebook.
This month, we’ve seen the competition continue to heat up between Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat over how to create the most engaging and marketable disappearing message.
Instagram and Snapchat continue to innovate — and copy each other — to win when it comes to user base and engagement. Instagram Stories have millions more users than Snapchat, but Snapchat has the advantage of entrenchment with millennials. In fact, 35% and 46% of Snapchat users can’t be reached on Facebook or Instagram, respectively.
Snapchat versus Instagram isn’t all that’s new in the social media world this month. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.
13 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month
1) Snapchat launched new features.
Snapchat launched a ton of brand-new features this month to innovate in the face of heightened competition from Instagram and Facebook. Here’s a rundown of what’s new in the app:
Sponsored world lenses: Last month, Snapchat launched World Lenses, which let users add augmented reality (AR) elements to their Snaps. Now, brands can get in on the action by buying AR ads users can get creative with. Adweek notes Warner Brothers, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Netflix are the first brands to purchase these elements, so keep an eye out for them in your app.
Magic Eraser: (No, not the cleaning sponge.) Snapchat’s new Magic Eraser lets users erase elements from Snaps with the click of a button. Here are before-and-after shots of the same Snap — one of which I used the Magic Eraser on. It’s not perfect, but it does the trick for a quick edit on the go:
Custom Stories: Users can now create Snapchat Stories that are viewable only for a certain group of friends. Custom Stories can also be further customized with Geofences, which limit Story viewing to a specific location. Here’s the demo video from Snapchat:
Now that Snapchat is part of a company in fierce competition with much larger social media apps, it’s doing all it can to be at the cutting-edge of innovation to keep users engaged on the app. There’s no telling when, but we can be almost completely assured a version of these new capabilities will be rolled out on Instagram soon.
2) Snapchat launched Instagram-inspired features.
This isn’t to say Snapchat is completely innocent: It’s also launched a couple features that might look familiar to fans of Instagram Stories. Here are the features that were “inspired” by Instagram and Instagram Stories:
Looping videos: Inspired by Instagram’s Boomerang, Snapchat now lets users create looping videos that play infinitely — instead of expiring and needing to be replayed after the maximum length of 10 seconds. The sender has to make this option available when editing a Snap, and if it’s enabled, the viewer doesn’t send a notification they’ve replayed a Snap.
Self-serve ads manager: This isn’t strictly Instagram-inspired, but the rollout of a self-serve Snapchat ads manager is a nod to its desire to maintain and grow its user base among smaller brands, too. This will make it easier for brands without the budget of Coca-Cola or Walmart to advertise on Snapchat — and without having to go through a sales team to do it.
3) Snap Inc. hosted its first earnings call as a public company.
Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, hosted its first earnings call for investors since its initial public offering (IPO) back in March. Here are a few of the highlights we gleaned with the help of The Motley Fool:
Snap Inc. raised $3.4 billion last quarter. That’s the largest social media IPO since Twitter’s back in November 2013.
Snap Inc. experienced slowed daily active user (DAU) growth. DAUs are growing 36% year over year, but Snapchat added only 8 million more DAUs in its first quarter as a public company — missing analysts’ target growth of 9-10 million users. User growth is highly concentrated in North America and Europe, which will make it tough to grow at the pace needed to keep up with the competition.
Snap Inc. invested heavily in research and development, and increased its engineer headcount by 260%. This further reinforces our previous notes about the competition heating up — facing increased pressure from Instagram and Facebook, Snapchat is trying to innovate and create new things as quickly as possible.
Revenue decreased and losses increased — making its path to profitability even longer. Snap Inc. is spending so much on R&D, and the ads business is in still in such a nascent stage, that analysts don’t predict Snap’s profitability anytime soon.
TL;DR: Snap Inc. is growing slower than anticipated. It’s responding to increased competition by hiring like crazy to innovate and roll out new, differentiating features, but it will need to expand worldwide to keep growing its user base.
4) Instagram launched a new feature.
Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) launched a new feature for Instagram Stories, its own Snapchat-inspired answer to the ephemeral messaging craze. Here’s what’s brand-new with Instagram this month:
Archive option: Users are starting to archive Instagram posts — instead of deleting altogether. For whatever reason, if you want to hide a post from view, you can now archive it, where you can view it privately or restore it to your feed if you change your mind. This change hasn’t been rolled out to my app yet, so it’s safe to say it’s still in a testing phase, but stay tuned.
5) Instagram launched Snapchat-inspired features.
Like Snapchat, Instagram lifted a few features from the playbook of its biggest competitor. Here are a few of Snapchat’s greatest hits, now living within Instagram Stories:
Face filters: In a move that’s possibly the biggest Snapchat ripoff (er, we mean, “inspiration”) yet, Instagram unveiled face filters for the front-facing camera. Like Snapchat Lenses, users can add augmented reality filters and masks to their selfies to make them silly and fun. Here’s what a few of them look like in action:
Location and Hashtag Stories: In a nod to Snapchat’s Story Search, Location and Hashtag Stories let users search to see what other users are posting about. You can now search content across cities and hashtags used — the one differentiator between Snapchat’s search feature launched earlier this year. Here’s what it looks like in action:
With these two changes in place, there isn’t much left that’s proprietarily different about Snapchat over Instagram, so it might start coming down to user preference. Instagram has been advertising on the platform longer than Snapchat — plus, verified brands can add links to posts on Instagram Stories — which might continue the wave of brands and publishers that are choosing Instagram for their ephemeral messaging needs.
6) Facebook updated the News Feed algorithm.
Facebook has made more adjustment to its News Feed algorithm this month. Here are the biggest changes to how Facebook adjusts what you see when you log in every day:
Facebook will further downgrade publishers that publish clickbait headlines. The algorithm will now start downgrading posts based on individual instances of clickbait and based on a Page’s past history of being clickbaity (if that’s a word yet). Additionally, posts will be downgraded in the News Feed if the headline overexaggerates the content in the link itself — a nuance that signals a deepened commitment to its position as a news site.
Facebook will downgrade links to sites that provide a low-quality experience or are inundated with disruptive ads. This means pages that post links to sites that offer “little substantive content” or disruptive, “malicious” ads will be downgraded in the News Feed and may be ineligible to be promoted on Facebook.
TL;DR: Don’t publish clickbait and don’t link to low-quality sites when you post for your brand on Facebook for maximum reach and exposure in the News Feed.
7) Facebook is testing joint notifications across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.
Facebook wants to make it easier than ever for its users to stay within its apps by launching joint notifications for Messenger and Instagram within Facebook notifications. In a statement to CNET, Facebook said it was running a “very small test” of this feature — here’s what it will look like if it’s rolled out everywhere:
Facebook Live launched something new, too. Now, users can go live with another Facebook friend in a shared screen. This could make interviews easier conduct via Facebook Live, a highly engaging content format on the platform, or it could be a fun way to connect with friends. Either way, it looks like Google Hangouts and FaceTime on the News Feed:
9) Facebook inked a deal with Major League Baseball to livestream games.
Facebook made a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) to livestream 20 free games this summer — roughly one per week. This is a clear nod to Twitter’s dominance in livestreaming — the app broadcasts pro football, hockey, baseball, and basketball games, as well as live news coverage that attracts millions of viewers. You can watch the live stream of the first MLB game on Facebook here.
We’ll see if viewers gravitate toward Facebook and away from Twitter to watch baseball for free this summer — we’ll keep you posted. (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to root for the Boston Red Sox.)
10) Facebook announced it will hire 3,000 Facebook Live monitors.
In response to growing backlash against the lack of oversight over Facebook Live videos depicting violent crimes, Facebook announced it would start the process of hiring 3,000 people specifically to monitor live video content. In a Facebook post, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said monitors will serve to get people help if they need it and remove offensive content from the platform.
It’s unclear how effective these monitors will be — and Facebook certainly can’t prevent violence in the first place — but Zuckerberg cited the fast prevention of a suicide mentioned on a live broadcast, so we’re cautiously optimistic this will decrease violent incidents on the platform.
11) #NuggsforCarter set a new record for the most retweets ever.
It started as an innocent question — Carter Wilkerson wanted to know how many retweets would be a high enough achievement to earn a lifetime supply of free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.
When the Wendy’s social media team gave him a number, Wilkerson made it his mission. And although he hasn’t hit 18 million retweets yet, he hit another milestone: This month, his tweet dethroned comedian Ellen Degeneres’ infamous Oscar selfie to become the most retweeted ever on Twitter.
After selling visual search engine Jelly to Pinterest earlier this year, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced in a Medium post that he was returning to Twitter to focus on company culture, team morale, and people operations. Twitter has experienced a lot of executive turnover in recent years — in addition to intense scrutiny over abuse and dissemination of fake news on the platform — so a morale boost is coming at a good time for Twitter.
13) Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o inked a movie deal — based on a tweet.
This news might be the best of all, depending on your music and film tastes: Hollywood might see its first film that originated thanks to a simple tweet.
Actress Lupita Nyong’o and musician Rihanna were spotted sitting together at a Paris Fashion Week runway, and someone tweeted a photo of them that spawned into a discussion — looping in director Ava Duvernay — of creating a heist movie together.
Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scans https://t.co/PhWs1xd3nj
When it comes to marketing, small businesses need a lot of bang for their buck.
Basedon on a recent Gartner CMO Spend Survey, marketing budgets now account for 12% of company revenue, a steady increase from 2010. For small businesses, this money is a precious chunk of change.
If it’s spent without a commensurate increase in new customers, then it could lead to ruin. This makes SMBs understandably cautious when choosing a marketing agency—and creates challenges for the agencies themselves.
Marketing agencies cannot guarantee ROI, and every marketing campaign carries with it the risk of underperformance. Over 80% of B2B marketers say that it’s a challenge to demonstrate how their work improves the bottom line—and 93% of CMOs agree.
Instead of guaranteeing ROI, marketing agencies need to communicate how they can minimize risk for SMBs, while providing data-driven insights that illustrate the effectiveness of their approach.
Start with Small Budgets
Although marketing agencies don’t have a crystal ball to forecast ROI with, they still have common sense. More than likely, the small business is starting their marketing department from scratch – or its still incredibly new/small. In this scenario, marketing agencies can become valuable by finding what works and iterating it to the SMB’s founding team.
How does this work in practice? Let’s say that a client is running a business, but there’s no pre-existing marketing strategy in place. The business is moving product, however, and there’s a reliable record of who’s buying—age, gender, location, income level, and so on. Although it’s hard to know the best way to market this product, there are tried and proven ways to market to these demographics.
Agencies can also come at this problem another way—by starting small and iterating. One of the best ways to work with a SMB is to determine the smallest amount of money required to obtain a new lead.
Once that amount has been determined, it’s relatively easy/simple to come out with a plan that helps the client sacrifice the smallest amount of budget dollars in exchange for the largest number of manageable leads per month. This strategy dovetails with another good, commonsense tactic.
Determine the Right Metrics for Success
Returning to the Gartner survey, the role of marketing has changed dramatically over the course of a few short years. Nearly half of all marketing organizations have some aspect of sales hooked in, for example. IT and CX organizations are also being incorporated into the marketing machine.
Marketing agencies may not be asked to shoulder these responsibilities in the same way a CMO might, but their clients are almost certainly changing their expectations of what an agency might deliver. Therefore, it’s truly important for agencies to discuss with their clients what constitutes a barometer of success. If an agency works with sales, then the agency needs to determine what that looks like for the sales team. Is it lead generation, closed opportunities, or something else?
If there’s a CX partnership, how do they measure their customer retention statistics, and how does the agency prove its worth?
Once again, the prevailing challenge in marketing is that most marketers have difficulty identifying the ways that their work affects the business.
By setting benchmarks at the beginning of a customer relationship, marketing agencies can identify the targets that they’ll hit, and SMBs will know what they’re aiming for. With that in mind, here’s one concrete approach that marketers can take towards justifying their work.
Create a Revenue Attribution Model
Revenue attribution is the meat and potatoes of the approach outlined above. Marketing agencies have limited means to predict the ROI of various projects, but there are a variety of methods that can track the success of a particular approach.
For example, one might attempt a “first touch” methodology. Say that a lead views a blog, performs some other actions involving content, and then closes a deal—the entirety of that deal might then be attributed to that touch-point.
Alternatively, agencies can use a linear attribution model.
Let’s say that after viewing a blog post, the lead then downloads a white paper, and then closes a deal. The agency can take the final value of that deal, divide it by the number of touch-points, and then attribute an equal number to each piece of content.
These are extremely simple models, and they’re not perfect—but without them, there’s really no way for an agency to identify which pieces of content lead to revenue generation. More to the point, research from the Aberdeen Group suggests that over one-third of marketers don’t perform revenue attribution of any kind, and nearly 20% don’t know if they have an attribution model or not.
It’s also worth noting that “best-in-class” marketers are much more likely to use complex weighted attribution models that place different emphasis on different pieces of content. From related research, this practice translates to a substantial likelihood that a company will see strong positive correlations between their marketing efforts and sales growth.
Encourage Some Risk
While we mentioned earlier that it is beneficial for a marketing agency to start the SMB off small, it is equally important that the agency also challenges the SMB’s marketing team to push themselves into new and uncharted marketing territory. Again, going back to the Gartner report, there’s a clear connection between the marketing teams demonstrating accountability and assuming risk to the marketing teams that then go on to earn a bigger marketing budget.
While it’s important that the agency works with the SMB to figure out the minimum amount of risk and money needed in order to acquire a new lead, it’s also the agency’s job to bring new ideas (perhaps a few far-fetched ones) to the SMB that will challenge their current marketing plan and urge them to dream a bit bigger.
Create a Great Friendship Between Your Agency and SMB
Being a successful marketing agency doesn’t just mean serving your clients with slick, well-produced campaigns—it means doing so in an accountable and reproducible manner that complies with the changing priorities of the customer. This is a challenge that a lot of agencies still struggle with, but the techniques above provide a roadmap for customer trust.
By creating this trust with the customer, and putting forth just as much effort into their overall marketing goals as their own internal team, you’ll be creating a long-lasting relationship with the client which leads to very positive word-of-mouth. In other words, when customers grow, agencies grow too.
All of the calls that were analyzed were pulled from companies that are highly similar to each other — same industry, similar sales cycle lengths and deal sizes, etc.
Further, while we couldn’t guarantee all of the sales reps had similar backgrounds and experience (realizing that’s a key part to this story), the analysis was done on fully on-boarded reps rather than new sellers.
Here are the patterns we’ve found (so far).
Who “listens” better: Men or women?
If you look at the data (and nothing else), you would conclude that men listen better than women.
In the analysis, men on average had a 42:58 talk-to-listen ratio, while women averaged 46:54, talking 9% more often than men.
Not a huge difference. But wait, there’s more …
Men interrupt their prospect an average of 4.2x per hour. Women? 6.3x per hour — about 50% more often.
Men also pause before responding longer than women on average: 1.5 seconds versus 1.3 seconds.
And finally, women tend to go on “monologues” longer (and more often) than men do. By “monologue,” I mean an uninterrupted streak of talking without the customer chiming in.
When men go off on a monologue, they average 116 seconds. Women average 130 seconds.
If you’ve spent much time in the sales profession, you’d start to conclude that men are the superior salespeople after looking at this data.
Which is why the next data point wracked my brain …
Women are closing more deals
Even though the above data paints women as lousy listeners, women progress deals to the next opportunity stage at a higher rate than men do.
They also close deals at a higher and faster rate than men.
In our data set, men had a 49% likelihood of moving opportunities to the next stage, while women boasted 54%.
And women’s win rates were 11% higher than men’s (on average).
Unpacking the implications
Now that I just data-dumped you, let’s think about what this could mean.
Science consists of both the quantitative (data), and qualitative aspects of a problem. One without the other doesn’t tell the full story.
In this case, the quantitative side of the story is looking at sales conversation analytics. The qualitative side of the story is listening to sales call recordings or observing salespeople live to investigate what’s going on and flesh out the rest of the story.
So, how are women breaking some of the traditional rules of selling, yet still getting more deals done?
Despite the fact that the data paints men as better listeners than women, for all we know, men could be twiddling their thumbs, thinking about something else entirely while they’re supposed to be listening to their customer.
Silence is not the same thing as listening.
Rambling vs. persuading
Tonni Bennett, VP of Sales at Terminus, had an interesting observation to offer. She provided an example that highlights how quantitative data only tells half of the story. It’s important to also understand the quality of the call.
She once had two reps that both talked too much on calls: A male and a female.
When the male talked too much, he rambled on in a way that derailed the conversation and hurt his credibility. He would often answer simple “yes/no questions” with a long-winded response that sparked more questions from the prospect.
While the woman also talked too much, she was usually making persuasive, strong selling points or sharing a customer story instead of rambling and going off on tangents.
Tossing nerf balls around the office
Another female sales leader I know made the observation that she often sees men tossing around nerf footballs while on the phone with their customers.
How often do you see women doing something like that?
While there could be hundreds of other qualitative explanations of this, I’d like to save them for the comments. Help me unpack this. What are your qualitative explanations of this data? Write your observations or thoughts below.
And if you thought this analysis was interesting, please share this so other sales pros may stumble upon this research.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on ThinkGrowth.org and is republished here with permission.