Monday, May 29, 2017

7 of the Coolest YouTube Banners We've Ever Seen

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When someone sends me a really great YouTube video, I always want to know who’s behind it. Was it an ad agency? A small or medium business? A B2B tech company? No matter who it was, if I’m impressed, I want to see more from the content creator. So once the video is done, I click the link to visit their profiles.

And from there, if the brand is really on top of its game, I’ll see its channel art -- the horizontal banner displayed across the top of the user’s YouTube channel that, hopefully, shows a combination of good design and brand presence.

But how do they do it? Download our full collection of blog design examples here to inspire your own blog design.

We’ve all seen design work that inspires us, but can have a bad habit of not taking it any further than that. What makes something like a strong YouTube banner so great? And how can you create your own gorgeous channel art? To answer those questions, we found seven of our favorites that inspire us, and explain why we love them.

What Makes a Good YouTube Banner?

Dimensions

A YouTube channel banner will take on different dimensions, depending on what platform is being used to view it. For example, a banner might have different dimensions when viewed on a TV, desktop, or mobile device.

For the sake of display consistency, then, Google suggests going with an image that's 2560 x 1440 px. It also sets the following guidelines:

  • Minimum dimension for upload: 2048 x 1152 px
  • Minimum "safe area" where text and logos are ensured not to be cut off : 1546 x 423 px
  • Maximum width: 2560 x 423 px
  • File size: 4MB or smaller

Here's a helpful visual representation of those dimensions:

unnamed-48.png Source: Google

Design

Let's start with a note about where dimensions and design intersect. You might think that 2560 x 1440 px -- Google's suggested dimensions we mentioned earlier -- seems like an exorbitantly large file size. But think about how your image would appear on a 30" smart TV or higher. With a growing number of options to view YouTube videos in this way, you'll want to make sure your channel art is large enough to display with quality on larger screens.

Also, take note of the "safe area" we alluded to in the first section. Your banner is essentially the biggest branding opportunity for when people land on your channel, so you'll want to make sure that it's well-represented in the channel art. That's why it might be best to make sure your company name and logo are placed in that space -- to make sure they don't get cut off and cause the viewer confusion as to who's behind the video content on the page.

If you're not sure how to take up the entirety of a 2560 x 1440 frame, video production company MiniMatters suggests "build[ing] the image from the middle out," putting the most important assets in the center, and going from there.

Finally, as to what to put in your banner, we like to follow a few basic rules:

  • Use a high-resolution image. A pixelated or blurry banner doesn't exactly signal that there's high-quality video to follow.
  • Keep it on-brand. While your channel art doesn't have to be a carbon copy of your logo or tagline, it should incorporate visual elements that you want associated with your brand, like certain colors, fonts, or keywords.
  • Your banner should represent what your company does in a timely fashion. For example, if you run a bakery and you're gearing up for summer, an eye-catching banner might be a high-res photo of a brightly-colored work surface covered with flour and a rolling pin, along with accompanying text like, "April showers bring May flours."

How to Make a YouTube Banner

"That's just great, Amanda," you might be thinking about these tips. "But where the heck am I supposed to get these beautiful design assets?"

Well, you're in luck -- it turns out that there are dozens of free resources for creating a great YouTube banner. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Google: Why not start with the hosting platform itself? Google has its very own channel art templates to help you get started with your banner design. (Note: Clicking this link will prompt an automatic download of the zip file containing these templates.)
  • Canva: One of our go-to destinations for DIY design, Canva offers several free YouTube channel art templates that allow you to use your own art, or its library of stock photography.
  • Fotor: Similar to Canva, Fotor also offers a selection of free templates that allow you to use both your own visual assets or its own library of images.

8 Cool YouTube Channel Art Examples

1) Death Wish Coffee Company

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In 2016, Death Wish Coffee was named the winner of a small business marketing competition held by software company Intuit. The reward? A free 30-second commercial during Super Bowl 50. Since then, the self-proclaimed maker of “the world’s strongest coffee” has capitalized on that momentum by making sure its branding stays just as robust.

Its YouTube banner is no exception. It’s straightforward, but also, bold. The company’s logo is displayed as the channel icon, as well as a tiled watermark that doesn’t interfere with the text display. And that message doesn’t leave any doubt about what the brand does. “World’s strongest coffee?” Okay, I’m watching.

2) Adobe Creative Cloud

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Seeing as turquoise is my all-time favorite color, there might be a touch of aesthetic bias in our selection of Adobe Creative Cloud’s YouTube banner. But color can have quite an impact in marketing -- shades of blue, for example, have been found to invoke feelings of trust.

This banner doesn’t just make great use of color, though. In a single photo, it connotes creativity and visual quality -- two things that the Adobe Creative Cloud promises with its suite products. The person depicted seems to be creating something remarkable -- an ocean inside of a balloon -- with accompanying text to confirm it: “Make wow.” Plus, to learn more, social buttons are right there within the image.

3) Bon Appétit

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Is anyone else hungry? It only seems right that the channel art for a food magazine like Bon Appétit should be, well, appetizing. And with a phrase that’s used as frequently as “bon appétit” -- before a meal or as the title of a pop song -- it’s important that folks who land on this YouTube channel know what they’re getting into.

That’s one thing that makes this banner so great. The branding is clear, from the logo icon to the iconic title text in the center of the image. Plus, the photo itself sends a signal of the type of content visitors can expect to consume -- no pun intended -- when they start watching the channel’s videos: All things food.

4) TauliaInc

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One great thing about YouTube banners is that they can be swapped out or modified whenever you want, time permitting. That makes them especially conducive to temporary promotions or campaigns. That’s what tech company Taulia did for “P2P Superheroes”: a campaign that shows how its software can eliminate difficult, time-consuming tasks, helping everyday professionals focus more on the work that matters and turn them into superheroes.

The banner communicates two things: 1) That Taulia is in the business of P2P (“procure to pay”), and 2) the brand really celebrates procurement specialists. And by using original, cartoon-like art, Taulia is turning what could be a dry topic into something fun and engaging.

5) Refinery29

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We’re big fans of showcasing the people that make your brand great. That’s one thing that Refinery29 does well, by frequently featuring its writers, editors, and content producers in its videos. As it turns out, they’ve all become quite popular personalities -- which is why the brand put them front-and-center in its channel art.

Creating a banner of this nature is two-fold. First, you have to find a way to incorporate your company’s talent into video content in a way that’s engaging and appealing to your target audience. Here at HubSpot, we have our blog writers, for example, recount important information from blog posts in video and audio summaries. Then, once you’ve produced enough of that media consistently -- and if it’s gaining the right kind of attention -- you can use those personalities to promote your channels.

6) TripAdvisor B2B

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TripAdvisor is a resource used by millions of travelers to discover and rate lodgings, restaurants, and much more information about endless destinations. But did you know it also offers B2B services for hotel and other property owners to make the most of their presence on the site?

We like to think of it as a B2B hybrid of review site Yelp and vacation rental site Airbnb. On the one hand, TripAdvisor B2B helps business owners create a profile with photos, descriptions, and other information that’s going to be helpful to travelers. But, like Yelp, it also allows them to monitor and respond to the reviews their businesses receive.

That’s represented in the YouTube banner by portraying what the site is all about -- travel -- but also depicts the act of visitors giving feedback on their experiences by way of rating symbols.

7) Nuvolari Lenard

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The thing that stands out to us the most about this banner is its simplicity. It represents a Italian yacht design company Nuvolari Lenard, which is known for work that emulates a luxury and chic lifestyle. And while the channel art itself doesn’t portray anything specifically nautical, the use of capital letters and tiered monochrome does connote a brand that’s high-end.

Those kinds of digital aesthetics create what’s often known as aspirational marketing -- the kind that symbolizes something that’s unattainable by most, but still has a vast following of people “who covet the look and feel of the brand,” as Mediaboom puts it. Can I afford a yacht? Of course not. But seeing something like this makes me want one anyway, and makes me want to consume the video content pertaining to it.

Channel Your Creativity

It’s important to note that really cool YouTube channel art is just one part of a comprehensive video content strategy. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your banner is, for example, if your channel lacks in quality video, or hasn’t added anything new in several weeks.

So, along with great design must come consistency. And as you begin to create both, you can turn to these examples for inspiration.

What are some of your favorite YouTube banners? Let us know in the comments.

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How to Host an Instagram Takeover in 7 Easy Steps

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Influencer marketing is a trendy topic these days, but it doesn't require a lot of work or a ton of money to harness the power of influencers on your brand's social media channels.

One of the lowest-effort and most organic ways to work with another person or brand to advance your marketing goals is by hosting an Instagram takeover.

Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips and tricks.

Not sure what we're talking about? Instagram takeovers involve a person or brand posting on your Instagram channel to give followers a peek at new and unique content from another perspective. Here's an example of our friends at WeWork taking over our Instagram account:

In this post, we'll dive into how to host your own Instagram takeover to drive engagement, brand awareness, and more positive outcomes for your brand.

What's an Instagram Takeover?

Instagram takeovers consist of one user taking over another Instagram account temporarily and sharing original content with their audience. Takeovers usually take place between influencer and brand Instagram accounts within the same industries or geographic locations. For example, here's a post from a one-day Instagram takeover when we hosted Wistia on HubSpot's Instagram and Instagram Stories:

Other types of Instagram takeovers can include:

  • Employee takeovers
  • Customer or community member takeovers
  • Event takeovers
  • Product or offer promotions

Instagram takeovers are mutually beneficial for the guest Instagrammer and the host account. The host can bring valuable new content to their followers without having to create it themselves, and the guest is able to reach an entirely new audience by posting on another account. Plus, Instagram takeovers help cultivate good-faith relationships between influencers that can create inroads for future collaboration and cross-promotion.

Now, let's dive into how to get started with your Instagram takeover.

How to Host an Instagram Takeover

1) Choose what you want to accomplish.

It's important to determine what you want to get out of an Instagram takeover before choosing a guest and executing. Ideally, your Instagram takeover will achieve multiple positive results, but choosing a primary goal of the campaign will help determine which type of guest to invite.

Instagram takeover goals could include:

  • Increasing brand awareness. This can be measured by the number of new followers of the Instagram account as a result of the takeover.
  • Promoting a product, event, or offer. This can be measured by the number of event registrations, offer redemptions, or lead form submissions as a result of the takeover.
  • Driving engagement within the Instagram community. This can be measured by the number of likes, comments, video and Story views, and link clicks as a result of the takeover.

2) Pick your guest Instagrammer.

Determining the goals of your Instagram takeover will help you decide who to choose to host it. For example, we wanted to increase brand awareness and promote working at HubSpot, so we hosted a takeover by our recruiting team on our Instagram Story:

But we don't always do employee takeovers. There are a few types of guest Instagrammers you can invite to create content for your takeover:

  • Influencers within your industry
  • Employees at your company
  • Community members or customers

Now, this isn't to say that these Instagram takeover guests can only accomplish one of the goals we outlined in the previous section. But generally speaking, we recommend choosing your guest with the most effective strategy in mind.

  • Influencers will draw their audience of followers to your Instagram with their endorsement of your brand, so they're the best fit if your primary goal is to increase brand awareness by growing followers.
  • Employees will attract interest from their friends and colleagues who want a behind-the-scenes look at what they do at work every day. They're the best fit if your primary goal is to drive engagement on Instagram.
  • Community members and customers will post enthusiastically about your brand and show the value of your product. They're the best fit if your primary goal is to promote a product, event, offer, sign-up, or download.

Again, these goals aren't mutually exclusive. Ideally, the content your guest creates will be highly engaging, shareable, and compelling to the viewer. 

3) Decide on the content format and takeover logistics.

Once you've figured out what you want to accomplish and who will host your takeover, it's time to nail down the specifics of how the takeover will run. Below are our suggestions of questions to answer when you meet with your takeover host:

  1. When are you hosting the Instagram takeover? Will it last one day, or one week?
  2. Who will manage the account? Will the guest get access to your Instagram credentials, or will they send you content and captions to post on their behalf?
  3. How many times per day will you post takeover content? If you have an optimal publishing schedule in mind, what times per day will the host need to post?
  4. What hashtags will be used? Will you create a custom hashtag to promote the takeover? Is there a maximum amount of hashtags you want the guest to use in any given caption?
  5. Which types of content will be shared during the takeover? Will the guest post photos, videos, Instagram Stories, or live videos? Will they post a combination of these formats?
  6. How will both the guest and the host promote the takeover on Instagram? Will you agree to promotion on Instagram or other channels leading up to the event?
  7. Are there any guardrails? Is there anything the guest shouldn't record or mention over the course of the takeover?

Once the details of the takeover are nailed down, decide how you'll measure success over the course of the event.

4) Determine metrics to track during the takeover.

Depending on the goals of your Instagram takeover, some of these metrics will be more important than others. Below are the metrics we recommend tracking over the course of your takeover:

  • # of new followers
  • # of likes
  • # of comments
  • # of mentions
  • # of direct messages
  • # of Instagram Story views
  • # of live video viewers
  • # of Instagram Story clicks
  • # of offer redemptions/app downloads (if you promote a landing page)
  • # of attendees or sign-ups (if you promote an event)
  • Total social referral traffic to your website

Qualitative metrics to keep track of could also include positive comments on Instagram.

5) Promote the takeover across multiple platforms.

Once you've figured out the details of your Instagram takeover, it's time to start getting people excited about it. 

Start promoting your upcoming Instagram takeover within a day or two before the event. If there are any contests, giveaways, or other incentives for people to follow along, make those clear in your promotions.

Promote the takeover on Instagram -- especially if the takeover is happening within Instagram Stories or Instagram Live, and you want to drive visitors to view those spots within the app.

Promote the takeover on other social media channels to get as many eyes on your campaign as possible -- especially if your brand's Instagram account isn't as developed or engaged as other channels.

Here's how we promoted an employee Instagram takeover last year:

And here's how the employee promoted it on her Twitter handle:

The host and the guest should promote the takeover on a few of their channels leading up to the event to get both audiences as engaged and excited as possible. 

6) Launch the takeover.

On the day of the takeover, it's all systems go.

Make sure you have one team member monitoring comments and one team member uploading content to Instagram (if applicable). You can now upload content from desktop computers in addition to the mobile app to make the process easier from the office.

Throughout the day, cross-promote content that the guest is posting on their channels to help draw new people to your own Instagram takeover event.

Make sure to communicate when the takeover is starting and ending. Note in captions when the first and last posts are happening so viewers aren't confused or abruptly left in the lurch, wondering if there's more content forthcoming. 

7) Analyze the results.

Once the takeover is over, analyze how it performed, and use those learnings to determine how (or if) you'll do your next takeover differently. Here are some questions to ask in your post-mortem analysis:

  1. Did we achieve our goal? Did you earn more Instagram followers, achieve high levels of engagement, or get visitors to sign up for your offer?
  2. Did we achieve secondary goals? Did the takeover result in other net benefits for your brand and your business?
  3. Was the takeover worthwhile? Did it save you time and energy creating your own content, or did it create extra work? Did it drive a push of traffic and engagement, or did numbers remain mostly the same?

Even if the takeover doesn't drive hard numbers for your business's bottom line, takeovers are authentic and real, and they provide an inside look at an aspect of your brand or community followers don't normally see. Social media is about being social, so pay attention to qualitative feedback, too. If commenters respond positively to the takeover, take their feedback and use it for ideating future Instagram campaigns.

Now that you're armed with a simple checklist for launching your takeover, follow up with us if our suggestions bring you success. For more ideas on how to drive results for your brand, follow us on Instagram, and download our guide to Instagram for business here.

Has your brand ever hosted an Instagram takeover? Share with us in the comments below.

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10 of the Best Ads from May: Hot Dogs, Rhinos, and an Accidental Viral Hit

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In May, agencies got creative with alternative advertising mediums.

While there were still plenty of traditional video and print ads on our radar, some crafty designers and copywriters turned to apps, bottled scents, modeling clay, and even an icy road trip to get their messages across. 

Among other things, this month's roundup features an accidentally viral print ad, an unusual Tinder profile, and a pop-up travel agency that uses custom scents to encourage spur-of-the-moment excursions. Check them all out below.

10 of the Best Ads from May

1) Visit Sweden

In a clever stunt to generate some tourism buzz, the entire country of Sweden recently listed itself on Airbnb.

Gothenburg-based agency Forsman & Bodenfors (you might know them as the agency behind Volvo's "Epic Split" ad) developed a stunning video to advertise the listing, showcasing Sweden's natural beauty and explaining Allemansrätt -- The Right of Public Access that enables Swedes and visitors to explore the countryside freely. 

 

2) Syoss

While most hair care ads depend on formulaic, slow-mo shots of unnaturally swishy, sparkly, CGI-enhanced hair, this new work for Syoss by walker Zurich highlights a hair dilemma most of us can actually relate to: where do you find the time to properly style your hair before your morning commute?

Laced with existential dread (and fabulous copywriting), the ad portrays harried commuters as helpless victims of lost time and bad hair. "With this film, we wanted to create something that was different to the usual mould that hair ads stick to," Pius Walker, Creative Director at walker Zurich, said to Adweek. "We’re lucky enough to have a client who allows us to do this and push away from the conventional."

 

3) Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Sudan is the last male Northern White Rhino on Earth, and he needs some help finding a mate. So naturally, he joined Tinder.

Since Sudan can't mate under normal conditions, scientists at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy need to raise money for research into Artificial Reproductive Techniques to help him breed through one of the 7,000 Southern White Rhinos currently in existence.

Ogilvy Africa launched a campaign around the effort, starting with signing Sudan up for a Tinder account. When users on the dating app swipe right to "match" with Sudan, they'll be sent a link to donate money via the app's messaging system. 

Chris Wall, Ogilvy's late vice chairman who passed away earlier this month, was notably one of the writers on the viral campaign. 

 

4) Thalys

Particular smells can conjure vivid memories and stir up old emotions, but can they spur us to travel somewhere new? In this inspired campaign for French rail company Thalys, Paris-based agency Rosapark set out to bottle scents that captured the essence and energy of different European cities.

Thalys then set up a pop-up travel agency in a Brussels art gallery, inviting people to select trips on the spot based on their favorite bottled scents. The stunt is captured in the artful spot below.

 

5) Merck Consumer Health

In an effort to change the perception that you can't learn new skills after a certain age, German pharmaceuticals company Merck Consumer Health teamed up with Ogilvy Italy to film this "social experiment" with parents of the Turin diving team. 

As the parents watch their children practice in the pool, they're asked if they would ever take up diving themselves. Their responses are pretty unanimously: "I'm too old to start."

Perfectly on cue, 79 year-old Pino Auber executes a perfect dive from the highest-platform, spurring applause from the parents. We learn that Auber didn't start diving until age 57, setting the ad up for its main message: "Today we're living longer. There's always time for a first time."

 

6) The Friars

Thanks to some seemingly lazy but actually ingenious copywriting, this simple ad for an English pub went viral in May after someone uploaded an image of it to photo-sharing website Imgur.

The ad features a text conversation between the owner of The Friars, a Bridgnorth-based pub, and designer Dave Blackhurst. At first glance, it looks like Blackhurts simply used a real conversation as the ad, but it turns out he cleverly fictionalized the whole thing. 

"The irony is I don’t have a smartphone, I have a Nokia C2, so it took me about three minutes to come up with the idea but a few hours to put it together with an online message generator and Photoshop," Blackhurst said to a local paper, The Shropshire Star.

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Image Credit: Tom Wysocki on Twitter

 

7) Oscar Mayer

In an effort to bring hotdogs to every remote corner of America, Oscar Mayer's team of professional "Hotdoggers" (yes, this is their official title) hopped into the iconic Wienermobile and trundled off towards Whittier, Alaska.

The branded adventure, orchestrated by Mcgarrybowen, Olson Engage, and Starcom, was documented in the below film. Watch as the two Hotdoggers -- Kayla and Franscico -- heroically navigate precarious roads on their quest to bring nitrate-free joy to Whittier's 220 citizens. 

The whole thing is like a fever-dream version of Ice Road Truckers -- in a good way. 

 

8) Play-Doh

In honor of the company's 60th birthday, Play-Doh teamed up with DBB Paris to create a series of epic, imaginative sculptures for use in a print and poster campaign. 

"I had written a series of headlines that each described one aspect of this world that is governed by the imagination and positive values," Jean-François Bouchet, senior copywriter at DBB Paris, said to Adweek. "And with [senior art director Emmanuel Corteau], we thought it would be wonderful to actually hand-make the ads and be 100 percent in the DNA of the brand. We also wanted to speak both to parents and adults, who could each discover a multitude of details in each print and experience the excitement of a child in front of a Christmas shop window."


Image via Adland

 

9) Apple

In this charming, energetic spot from Apple, the iPhone 7 plus' new Portrait Mode setting helps transform a quiet neighborhood barber shop into a popular destination.

When one of the barbers starts snapping professional-looking pictures of satisfied patrons and displaying them in the window, word quickly spreads -- and pretty soon there's a line around the block. The ad excels at showing how easy it is to use Portrait Mode, without boring us with the specific details. 

 

10) Alzheimer’s Research U.K. (in collaboration with Shazam)

To raise awareness for the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s Research U.K. worked with agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. to create "The Day Shazam Forgot."

The popular app, which can identify song names on the spot, started to temporarily "forget" the names of songs and artists. Once the app "remembered", users would be directed to a page on Alzheimer’s awareness and encouraged to donate.

What were your favorite ads from May? Let us know in the comments.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

8 of the Top Marketing Challenges Marketers Face Today [New Data]

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Every marketer faces different challenges. Although we typically share similar goals, some teams are stuck on hiring top talent, while others are having trouble finding the right technology for their needs.

Whatever the case may be, there’s always at least one area that you can stand to improve. In other words, there’s always room to optimize the various components of your strategy and turn your marketing into an even more effective revenue generator.

Curious about what kinds of obstacles other marketers are up against?

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We polled thousands of marketers on the challenges they face, as well as the tactics they’ve used to meet those challenges head-on. Here are some of the most common challenges marketers reported struggling with ... and their solutions.

The Most Common Marketing Problems We Face, According to the 2017 State of Inbound Report

According to our report, generating traffic and leads and proving ROI are the leading challenges marketers face. Here's a look at this year's data:

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Image Credit: The 2017 State of Inbound Report

Let's go through each of these top challenges and how marketers can address them.

1) Generating Traffic and Leads

Why It's a Challenge

Generating enough traffic and leads was the top marketing challenge, according to the 2017 State of Inbound report. We started asking this question with this answer as a new option last year -- and we're glad we did.

Clearly, marketers are struggling with producing enough demand for their content. And as the years progress and competition stiffens, this will only become truer. With so many options of platforms for marketers to publish their content and even more ways to promote it, it's hard to know where to focus your efforts.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to creating content that produces enough traffic and leads, marketers should ask themselves two questions: Are you truly creating high-quality content -- the type of content people would pay for? And, do you know the type of content your audience actually wants?

For example, HubSpot Research has found that 43% of consumers want to see more video from marketers in the future, while only 29% want to see more blog posts. To learn more about how the way people are reading and interacting with content is changing, check out this HubSpot Research report.

Once you know you're creating the type of content your audience wants, the focus shifts to promoting it in a way that makes your audience take notice. More than ever before, people are being flooded with content. Consumers don't have to use a search engine to find answers. Instead, articles fill their news feed or buzz in their pocket via mobile notification.

Needless to say, the content promotion playbook is not the same as it was five years ago. To make sure your traffic and lead numbers continue to rise, check out this comprehensive guide to content promotion.

2) Providing the ROI of Your Marketing Activities

Why It's a Challenge

Measuring the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing activities has remained a top marketing challenge year-over-year. But, it also continues to be a vital way for marketers to understand the effectiveness of each particular marketing campaign, piece of content, etc.

Plus, proving ROI often goes hand-in-hand with making an argument to increase budget: No ROI tracking, no demonstrable ROI. No ROI, no budget.

But tracking the ROI of every single marketing activity isn't always easy, especially if you don't have two-way communication between your marketing activities and sales reports.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to providing ROI, there's a strong case to be made for dedicating time and resources to establishing links between marketing activities and sales results. This means using both marketing software (like HubSpot) and a CRM solution (like HubSpot's free CRM), and then tying them together to close the loop between your marketing and sales efforts with a service-level agreement (SLA). That way, you can directly see how many leads and customers are generated through your marketing activities.

We've found there's no better combination than having an SLA and doing inbound marketing. According to this year's report, inbound organizations with SLAs are 3X more likely to rate their marketing strategy as effective compared to outbound organizations with misaligned marketing and sales teams.

(Use this ROI calculator to simulate the potential ROI you could realize by conducting inbound marketing.)

3) Securing Enough Budget

Why It's a Challenge

Securing more budget is a pressing challenge for marketing globally. And often, getting more budget is easier said than done -- especially for smaller organizations that aren't working with sizable nor flexible marketing spend.

But the key to securing more money for your team might not be that complex. Here's what you can do.

What Can You Do?

The key to unlocking budget lies in being able to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts. According to our report, organizations that can calculate ROI are more likely to receive higher budgets.

Again, success with inbound marketing also plays a large role in driving higher budgets. Effective strategies obviously produce results, and our data shows those who feel confident in their marketing strategy are more than 2X as likely to get higher budgets for their marketing teams. But remember, inbound marketing is a long game. If you get off to a slow start, you shouldn’t back off -- in fact, you might consider doubling down.

4) Managing Your Website

Why It's a Challenge

Managing a website was the fourth biggest challenge for marketers in 2017. And chances are, your website's performance is high on your list of priorities. It's an asset that works around the clock to draw in visitors, convert them, and help you hit your goals, after all.

Issues with website management include a variety of different factors, from writing and optimizing the content to designing beautiful webpages. Here are a few things marketers can do to deal with this challenge.

What Can You Do?

First, read this report to see how your website stacks up against over 1 million other websites. It also includes a deep analysis on the four most critical elements of website performance and design, from average load time and website securityww to mobile friendliness and SEO.

If your primary challenge with managing a website has to do with the skills and resources you have available, you aren't alone. This is especially true for small companies who don't have all the talent in-house required to cover content, optimization, design, and back-end website management.

One solution? Hire freelancers and agency partners. To find freelancers, we recommend:

  • Tapping into your personal and professional network by posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks with a description of what you're looking for.
  • Browsing freelance writers and designers based on their portfolios and areas of interest. For writers, check out Zerys and Contently. For designers, check out Behance & Elance.
  • Browsing HubSpot's Services Marketplace, which lists a wide variety of designers from partner companies and agencies we've deemed credible.

Overall, you can make website management easier on your team by hosting your website on a platform that integrates all your marketing channels like HubSpot's COS.

Finally, for the projects you want to keep in-house, here is a list of ebooks and guides that might be helpful to your team:

5) Identifying the Right Technologies for Your Needs

Why It's a Challenge

Finding the right technologies was the fifth biggest concern for marketers this year. Oftentimes, this is because feedback on technology is scattered. Marketers might turn to colleagues, friends in the industry, and/or analyst reports to figure out which technologies best fit their needs -- only to find that feedback is spread across emails, social media, and so on from people of varied reputability.

When you're looking for a tool, software, or piece of technology to solve a specific marketing problem, where do you go to find it?

What Can You Do?

For those of you looking for a tool, software, or piece of technology to solve a specific marketing problem, we recommend taking a look at Growthverse: a free, interactive, online visualization of the marketing technology landscape that focuses on the business problems marketers are trying to solve, and leads them to specific pieces of marketing technology that aim to solve those problems. We've found it to be a really well-visualized map of carefully curated marketing technology resources.

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It's worth noting that the main tool in top marketers’ arsenals is a platform for automating their team’s marketing efforts. We found that although our respondents indicated using an array of specific products, the larger trend was telling: The top marketers use marketing automation software in some form or another. Meanwhile, 40% of marketers cite marketing automation as a top priority for the next year.

6) Targeting Content for an International Audience

Why It's a Challenge

Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing. To be more effective at targeting, one of the first things any marketer needs do is identify their buyer personas to determine who it is they should be marketing to. If you're expanding internationally, it can be a big challenge not only to figure out the best ways to market to an international audience but also to organize and optimize your site for different countries.

What Can You Do?

Download our free ebook, The Global Marketing Playbook. There are some really helpful tips in there that'll help give you some direction on global marketing, including how to identify your top three growth markets, how to explore local trends, and tips on choosing the best localization providers.

Remember, your website visitors might speak a plethora of different languages and live in totally different time zones. To make your content appealing to a wide audience, you'll need to keep your global visitors top-of-mind when creating all your content. This means being aware of seasonal references, translating units of measure and monetary references, and giving translators the tools and permissions to customize and adapt content for a specific audience when they need to.

Finally, be sure you're optimizing your website for international visitors, too. For more tips and resources on global marketing expansion, browse our international inbound marketing hub.

7) Training Your Team

Why It's a Challenge

As companies scale and technologies continue to evolve, training your team will become a greater challenge for marketers. Whether it's training them on the concepts and tools they'll be using every day or making sure they're achieving their full potential, the struggle is real across the board.

To combat this, I’ll share some tips I’ve used during my trainings to make sure the concepts and tool tips stick and have a lasting effect on your team and your marketing.

What Can You Do?

To get an overall idea of where your team stands, take a few minutes to assess each of your team members' marketing strengths and weaknesses, levels of expertise, and passion/commitment to your company. Then, objectively rate the priority (or level of importance) of their expertise and their contribution to bottom line objectives (ROI) to date. Here's a simple assessment tool from Lean Labs to help you evaluate your team so you can figure out who needs recognition and who needs coaching.

Next, check out this awesome resource from HubSpot Academy, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Training. It's a guide that'll help you navigate all the marketing training options you have, from quick daily habits to more rigorous, career-launching investments.

You also might consider requiring your team members to rack up some online marketing certification. HubSpot Academy, for example, offers certifications, documentation, and training programs to help people master the basics of inbound marketing. Google also offers training and certifications on analytics with their online Analytics Academy.

What about new hire training, specifically? We recommend creating a training plan for new team members. Here at HubSpot, each new marketer is given a 100-day plan like this one to lay out specific goals and help new hires demonstrate their effectiveness.

8) Hiring Top Talent

Why It's a Challenge

Hiring top talent was the eighth biggest challenge marketers reported experiencing this year. Why? Many companies are shifting more resources to inbound marketing, which means higher and higher demand for top marketing talent. But supply simply isn't keeping up. From sourcing the right candidates to evaluating for the right skills, finding the perfect person could take months ... or more.

What's more, the type of marketing talent companies are looking for is changing, too. In Moz and Fractl's analysis of thousands of job postings on Indeed.com, they concluded that employers are seeking marketers with technical and creative skill sets. And the quick rate at which the demand for these jobs are rising has caused a marketing skills gap, "making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing."

What Can You Do?

Employers are looking for marketers with a diverse skill set that includes digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing. To find the best inbound marketer for your team, the first thing you should do is decide what that person needs to be able to achieve for your business.

Ask yourself: What will the new marketer's tasks and duties include? What skills do those tasks and duties require? What goals or challenges will the new marketer face? Use your answers to these questions to write a compelling job description. (Here are 37 pre-written marketing job descriptions to help you get started.)

Next, post your jobs where talented inbound marketers will find them. While traditional job sites like Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, or LinkedIn will help you cast a wide net, we recommend checking out Inbound.org, which is the only job listing service in the world that's exclusively focused on inbound marketing and sales jobs.

Finally, focus your job description and new hire 100-day plan what people value most in their careers. This year, the data shows that 58% of people consider opportunities for growth when looking for a new job, while 50% are looking for a good work/life balance.

Does Your Company Face Any of These Marketing Issues?

A thorough analysis of your marketing strategy and its current performance will help you discover where your biggest marketing opportunity lies. This will allow you to focus on improving the areas that need the most attention, so you can start making your marketing far more effective.

If you're faced with a challenge and want ideas on how to best tackle it, you can always consider getting some help by any of the various types of marketing training that are available. Learn more about what other organizations are prioritizing and tackling in the 2017 State of Inbound report.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

soi17

How to Get Started With Paid Search [Free Guide]

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In 2016, 96% of Google's revenue came from paid search (or pay-per-click) advertising. Clearly, marketers are taking advantage of AdWords, but what does a great PPC campaign even look like? How do you ensure it drives ROI for your company? How do you even do a Google AdWords campaign?

To help you get started the right way, we're breaking down the basics of how to use paid search below.

The following is an excerpt from the ebook How to Use Google AdWords, just one of the resources included in The Ultimate Free Google AdWords PPC Kit we created with our friends at SEMrush. The kit includes the full ebook, a template, and a checklist -- everything you need to manage keywords, campaigns and ad groups successfully. If you'd like to access the full kit, click here.

How to Use Paid Search

All too often, companies -- small businesses especially -- think that if they just pay to be on a search engine, they don't have to invest time and resources in search engine optimization to rank higher organically. 

It's important to make clear that paid search is not a replacement for anything, but should instead be used to complement other inbound marketing strategies. Paid online advertising takes a lot of time and effort, a lot of resources, and a lot of management, and it's something you really need to invest in.

Let's take a look at some of the useful things you can do with paid search.

Landing Page Testing

One great way to use paid search is for testing and optimizing your landing pages. So, for instance, here's the search engine results page for "cat food for older cats", and you see some paid results for this specific search query:

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You can take that one ad and actually set it to go to two different destination URLs, and therefore, to two different landing pages.

So for a cat food ad, you could have one ad going to a page with one offer (a guide on feeding techniques for your older cat), and the other to a page for another offer (an actual product page for cat food).

You could also have the ad go to two different landing pages that are for the same offer. For example, if you wanted to test a feature of your forms, you could have two versions of the same landing page, each with a different form layout, and send the ad to each of those. This is called A/B testing, a very important and highly recommended practice for optimizing your landing pages.

Paid search is a great way to do landing page A/B testing because it allows you to direct traffic to your choice of pages, split this traffic to different pages, and ultimately find the pages that convert at the highest rate.

Finding New Keywords

In addition to landing page testing, you can also use paid search to find new keywords for your campaign. Google AdWords generates a Search Terms report that displays all of the keywords for which your ad has been displayed.

In other words, if you are bidding on the keyword "red shoes", Google might serve your ad when someone searches "red tennis shoes." Even though you did not bid on the exact word, the keyword "red tennis shoes" will be included in this report because that's what the user searched. The report also contains information about the performance of each of the keywords, so you can determine if it's worth adding that keyword to your campaign.

Below is a sample Search Terms report. On the left hand side is the list of keywords. The ones that show the green "Added" box next to them are the ones that are already in this paid search account.

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The keywords that don't say "Added" next to them are not currently included in the account. Again, this is a list of the keywords that people are actually typing into the Google search, so it is extremely valuable information.

Take, for instance, the keyword "search engine optimization tutorial'" from the list above. That is an excellent keyword for my campaign, and I'm not buying it yet. Not only that, but I wouldn't have known about that keyword unless I had generated this report! And to top it all off, I'm able to see that when somebody searches for this keyword and clicks through to my ad, they convert on one of my offers at a rate of 21%.

Now, this high conversion rate tells me not only that I should be buying this keyword, but also that maybe I should consider using this keyword for search engine optimization as well. Maybe I should make a landing page geared toward this keyword, or an offer built around this keyword.

You should use the information in these Search Terms reports, and also in Google AdWords' Keyword Planner, to discover new keywords that will help you further optimize all of your SEM campaigns. For more information on keyword research, check out this blog post: How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide and the Ultimate keyword research checklist.

Getting in the Game

Another great way to use paid search is to, as we say, "get in the game" and rank higher than your competitors. Let's look at PetSmart.com, which holds the number one ranking in the organic search results for the phrase "cat food".

For the phrase "dog food", they don't rank number one, but they're still above the fold, meaning that you don't have to scroll down to see the result when the page comes up. This is great, of course, but their high rank for these keywords does not mean they shouldn't bother running any paid search ads.

If you do a little research, you'll find that "pet food" is also a big keyword in this space, and PetSmart ranks far below the fold for it. On top of that, they're not running a paid search campaign with Google AdWords either. But their competitor, Petco, does have a paid search campaign, and so their ad appears on the results page, while PetSmart does not. So this is a sample instance where running a paid search campaign makes a lot of sense.

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Paid Search Can't Stand Alone

When you think about how you should use paid search, one of the best ways to think about it is to use it as a complement to your inbound marketing efforts. You can use paid search to maximize your coverage on the search engine's result page (SERP).

For instance, here we have the search term "inbound marketing." You'll see that there's an organic search listing for HubSpot that ranks second on the page (just after Wikipedia), but we're also buying the keyword "inbound marketing," which displays our paid search ad for it.

So now we have that natural search ad, the paid one, and, if you scroll down the page, you'll find yet another organic search listing for HubSpot via SlideShare. This widespread coverage on the search engine results page for "inbound marketing" helps to establish HubSpot as an authoritative figure for inbound marketing, and drives more traffic to our pages.

The good news is -- you can do this for your business as well! Take the opportunity to establish your company as a leader in your industry by increasing your presence on search engines with paid search campaigns.

Ready to get started with the full ebook, template, and checklist? Click here to access the complete Ultimate Free Google AdWords PPC Kit. 

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The Harmful Effects of Sleeping With Technology [Infographic]

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Did you know that the average technology user in the United States spends nearly 11 hours per day looking at screens?

Sure, a lot of that time is spent at work on computers and mobile devices, but the rest of it is spent at home. And as it turns out, exposure to screens and other technologies can have adverse health impacts -- especially if it's too close to bedtime.

Two-thirds of Americans report that they have trouble sleeping, and too much technology could be the cause. Webpage FX created the following infographic that outlines how technology is being overused, the health impacts it can cause, and how you can improve your sleep habits with a few simple changes.

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free trial of HubSpot's Website Platform

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How to Build Your Own Content Marketing Taxonomy

Melvin Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal system in 1873 to classify and organize library books. It enabled library goers to easily find whatever book they desired by leafing through index cards in a small filing cabinet. Unfortunately, content marketing doesn’t come with a pre-existing content marketing taxonomy like the Dewey Decimal system.

the library version of a content marketing taxonomy

Too many times content marketers get asked by another employee if they have some random type of content on some random topic.

And too many times content marketers respond, ‘I’m pretty sure we do, but I’m not quite sure where it is. Let me take two hours out of my day to try to find it for you.’ Except not the last part.

Not that is, until they decide to revamp their content marketing taxonomy.

What Is a Content Marketing Taxonomy?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines taxonomy as “a scheme of classification.” In content marketing, that means:

Content marketing taxonomy is a scheme of classification made up of titling, folder organizing, tagging, and any other way of organizing content that aides in your content marketing’s findability, content marketing strategy, and content marketing distribution.

Why Is a Content Marketing Taxonomy Important?

Having an effective content marketing taxonomy isn’t just about the ‘findability’ of your content. It helps put your content strategy and goals into perspective, allowing you to ascertain content priorities based on what’s in an item’s name. It also simplifies content audits—which should be performed at least once a year.  

Of B2C and B2B marketers, 56 percent and 64 percent respectively admit they don’t have a documented content marketing strategy. A content marketing taxonomy aids content strategizing by organizing content in an easy-to-understand way for marketers to analyze data and gaps.

A clear and concise content marketing taxonomy improves the readability of your editorial calendar. It allows all parties to know what kind of content you’re creating at a glance.

Natalya Minkovsky, editor for the Content Marketing Institute’s Chief Content Officer magazine, says that:

Taxonomy is about so much more the categorizing content. When crafting a content strategy, we consider the people, processes, and technologies that support the content throughout its lifecycle. The same goes for creating taxonomy. As content strategists, we have to think about taxonomy from the perspective of what terms and structure will help the content perform best and support the organization’s business goals. We also have to consider the longevity and flexibility of the taxonomy.

Future Proof and Organize Your Content

A well constructed content marketing taxonomy also helps future content strategy execution. It simplifies new audience-facing strategies by allowing you to slice and dice data in multiple ways. If you already tag content based on personas and want to personalize your audience experience, a content taxonomy helps determine which content to serve to whom.

Likewise if you’re looking to create a “recommended content” module. It’s much easier to automate data associations when you tag your content by topic or campaign. A content marketing taxonomy also helps organize your system of reusing, revamping, and re-promoting older content on different platforms or to new audiences.

A content marketing taxonomy helps determine how your website content should be organized. For example, with a well-organized taxonomy you can see which content types have the best bounce rates, click-through-rates, or time on page metrics. These insights help determine the order and flow of content on your website.

Content Marketing Taxonomy Planning (With Template)

When planning a content marketing taxonomy, first consider the constraints of your content marketing platform and other software for housing or planning content. Some software has preset fields to fill in for each piece of content, so missing tags have to be included in the name. Other software allows custom fields, so most tagging can happen separately, providing more opportunities for slicing data by multiple fields at once.

This is what content tagging looks like for a piece of content in Curata’s content marketing platform (CMP):

[SE]_ContentMarketingPlatformAnalytics_OneSheet

Fields (in CMP):
Distribution Method: Sales Enablement
Stage: BOFU
Author: Sasha Laferte
Persona: N/A
Topic: Analytics
Campaign/Content Marketing Pyramid: N/A

Consider including the following elements in a content marketing taxonomy.

For Written Content

  • Distribution Method: This field allows you to separate the analytics for content items depending on how they’re shared. For instance, Curata’s sales team gets a separate content link for one sheets, eBooks etc., even if a gated version or blog version also exists. It helps us understand how content performs when shared by the sales team, and which content closes.
  • Content Type: We include content type in the title because a name alone doesn’t always tell you all you need to know. Our content types include long form blog posts, eBooks, infographics, case studies, one sheets, and more.
  • Content Title: Use the exact title of an eBook, blog post, or other piece of content in the title in your system for searchability. Inaccurate titles make life harder.
  • Stage: This helps determine which metrics to examine to see if content is performing the way it was intended.
  • Campaign: Allows searchers to look at a campaign’s metrics holistically and find all content created for a particular campaign theme.
  • Author: Included to find options by an author or to compare author performance.
  • Persona: Including personas allows you to find gaps in content creation, and enables future personalization and recommended content efforts.
  • Topic: Topics also help you to look for gaps in content creation and allow for future personalization and recommended content efforts.

When separating by “content type” or “distribution method,” define what these mean. This way everyone dealing with the new taxonomy understands what each section means. It also ensures there aren’t duplicate fields. For instance, if someone posts all sales enablement content under [SE] but others call it sales enablement, you won’t be able to consistently find the content you’re looking for. Tracking and analytics based on this distribution method will also be incomplete or inaccurate.

For Images

  • Size: Important for knowing how the resolution will look on different pages.
  • Type: If you’re looking for infographics, charts, etc., this makes these pieces of content easier to find.
  • Description: Allows searchers to look for content images based on keywords.

Tags, Categories, or Titles

Once you’ve determined which information needs to be included in your content marketing taxonomy, decide which information should be part of the title (and where). Include what should be included as a tag, what should be included as category, and whether or not any of this information should be externally visible to help your audience find the content they need. Here’s how we determined which piece of information fits where, and why:

  • Title
    A title should cover the factors most likely to be searched for within a CMP. Clearly outline the structure of titles and explain the options within each section of the title.
  • Tags
    A tag helps group your blog posts by topics. A content item can have multiple tags attached to it. Tags are keywords or phrases for the content item. As Blogging Basics 101 puts it, “If categories are your blog’s table of contents, tags are your blog’s index.” Curata uses tags and fields as two methods of labeling and grouping content. You can also use fields for campaign, author, length, and stage. Be aware if your tags are visible to the audience—as in WordPress—before determining what to include.
  • Categories
    A category is:

… a topic you address on your blog. Your category list is like the table of contents for your blog. Categories are broad and can encompass smaller, more defined topics (i.e., tags). A category title should be descriptive and can be several words long.
Blogging Basics 101

The difference between an externally visible blog category and a tag is that a category is designed for a broad grouping; a tag describes specific detail.

Externally Visible Tags and Categories

If your CMP forces content tags or categories to be externally visible, things can get tricky. You probably don’t want your audience to see your “BOFU” or “Content Marketing Carey” tag.

One solution is to store content on a community drive outside your CMP, and organize by folder and title. Create a graphic that displays the folder hierarchy that’s accessible company-wide. Determine whether the way you organize content is hierarchal, more like a funnel, wheel, or something different, and base your folder or organizational structure on this schema. It will make content more findable and assist you in streamlining the organizational process.

At Curata we keep content in both locations to fit the individual preferences of various departments. The spreadsheet below in our Google drive is also used to find content. The taxonomy is the same, but the organization is slightly different. This allows our sales team to find our content without sorting through pieces they don’t need or learning a new taxonomy. We ultimately decided to retain this inherited format to keep things simple for sales. It also allows for easy sorting based on content type, and includes a link to the content (with tracking parameters).

Having an external tagging and categorizing system as well as an internal taxonomy enriches your website’s metadata and boosts your SEO.

Implementation

Implementing a new content marketing taxonomy requires change management. There are several ways to go about this—here’s what we recommend.

Prior to developing a content taxonomy, assemble as diverse a team as possible to collect opinions and feedback. Content taxonomy can impact everyone from marketers to designers to engineers and salespeople. Getting their buy-in and feedback beforehand can save future headaches. Once you determine an official taxonomy, here are some simple steps to roll the program out company-wide.

  1. Send an email notifying the entire company of the upcoming change
  2. Make taxonomy changes to all existing content
  3. Upload a document with the new taxonomy to a shared drive
  4. Send an email with advice on the new system’s benefits and uses
  5. Update the taxonomy regularly, and remind your company to use it

A content marketing taxonomy assists with content organization, findability, content strategy, and consumption. And it sets you up for more successful content marketing plans in the future. As James Goldman of CMSwire says:

[A] taxonomy is the backbone of executing journey-based marketing. It is the instruction manual for the tools, people, and processes used to manipulate, distribute, and target the huge volumes of content you need to produce in order to embrace content marketing.

For more information on creating a content marketing strategy that works, check out Curata’s eBook on creating a content marketing strategy below.

The post How to Build Your Own Content Marketing Taxonomy appeared first on Curata Blog.