Over two years later, they are truly the gift that keeps on giving.
You see, for me, listening to music while working is the secret to my productivity. All it takes is the right Beyoncé track, and I go from idle to uber productive. (Seriously, it works like a charm.)
The trouble is, finding the perfect playlist isn’t always easy. With endless streaming music possibilities at my fingertips, it can be hard to nail down just the right tunes to get the wheels turning. So, I did what we do best around here — a little research.
As it turns out, there are a ton of studies that explore the influence of specific types of music as they relate to your productivity levels. To help you find just the right mix, we’ve sourced and curated seven Spotify playlists designed with specific studies in mind. Whether you’re into Mozart or Chance The Rapper, we’re confident that there’s something on this list that will do the trick.
Note: Some of the playlists contain tracks with explicit language that might not be suitable for the office.
One of the most frequently cited studies related to music and productivity is the “Mozart Effect,” which concluded that listening to Mozart for even a brief period each day can boost “abstract reasoning ability.” The study — led by researchers Gordon Shaw, Frances Rauscher, and Katherine Ky — employed 36 Cal-Irvine students who were divided into three groups. Group one listen to a Mozart selection, while group two listened to a relaxation tape, and group three endured 10 minutes of silence. After the listening activity, all 36 students were issued the same test, in which the Mozart group averaged an eight-to-nine point increase in their IQs, compared to the remaining groups.
Since then, the “Mozart Effect” has been hotly contested, but many researchers have gone on to explore the mental benefits of learning and listening to classical music. One recent study, for example, found that elementary-school-aged children who participated in music composition education outperformed students in a control group on reading comprehension.
Think classical music might work for you? Check out this classical-influenced playlist to find out for yourself:
“Choosing the right video game soundtrack to work to is all about understanding what type of music motivates vs. distracts you when you need to concentrate,” says HubSpot’s Director of Marketing Acquisition (and former video game marketing consultant) Emmy Jonassen.
“For example, if you’re the type who gets amped and focused listening to high-energy music, rhythm game soundtracks, like those from Thumper or Klang, could work well. Conversely, if you need calm to concentrate, the serene soundtracks from exploration games, like ABZÛ and Journey, may do the trick. With thousands of games releasing every year, including many independent titles, there is a soundtrack to suit everyone’s ear,” she went on to explain.
Think about it: Playing a video game requires a lot of focus. To make it to the next level, players commonly have to avoid traps, dodge obstacles, and discover secret tools that will help them progress to the next level. As a result, the music selection for video games is often very strategic, in that modern soundtracks tend to reflect epic, inspiring cinematic scores rather than just basic sound effects.
And while studies have revealed mixed results, there is evidence to support that gamers can experience improved performance by playing a game with the volume on. For example, when psychology professor Siu-Lan Tan and her colleagues John Baxa and Matt Spackman specifically honed in on the game “Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda),” they found that participants who played with both music and sound effects off performed worse than those who played with it on.
Want to try it on for size? Check out the playlist below:
According to psychophysical data and sound-field analysis published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, listening to “natural” sounds could enhance cognitive functioning, optimize your ability to concentrate, and increase your level of satisfaction.
Think: Waves crashing, birds chirping, streams trickling, and the like.
That could explain why more consumer-facing brands — from Google Home to the newer Noisli — are introducing such ambient sound features to help listeners relax or focus. It might also be behind Spotify’s multiple nature-themed playlists, like this soothing one:
After observing that many athletes arrive at the stadium wearing headphones, Kellogg School of Management professor Derek Rucker and three of his colleagues — Loran Nordgren, Li Huang, and Adam Galinsky — set out to answer the question: Does listening to the right kind of music make us feel more powerful or in control?
So, back in 2014, the group of researchers set up a study to gauge how music might influence motivation and subsequent behavior. First, they played several songs for participants in a lab, and asked them — on a scale of one to seven — how powerful, dominant, and determined they felt after listening to each song. There were three “high power” winners: Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This,” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”
Then, to gauge how the music would influence their behavior, they asked participants to listen to the music and then determine whether or not they’d like to go first or second in a debate. As it turned out, those who listened to the high-power playlist volunteered to go first almost twice as often as those who listened to a less powerful playlist.
The lesson? “Just as professional athletes might put on empowering music before they take the field to get them in a powerful state of mind,” Rucker explained, “you might try [this] in certain situations where you want to be empowered.”
Next time you’re looking to feel empowered before a big presentation, interview, or salary review, check out this roundup:
Want more? Check out my colleague Amanda Zantal-Wiener’s picks here.
In 2015, Middle Tennessee State University researchers Carol A. Smith and Larry W. Morris discovered that students who listened to “sedative” music during a test scored higher than those who listened to lyrical music. (That somewhat contrasts their initial findings 39 years earlier, which showed that while music didn’t reveal an impact on test scores, those who listened to “stimulative music” showed a significant increase in worry and highly emotional reactions.)
That isn’t to say that it’s entirely impossible to cross things off your list while listening to songs with words — I actually prefer lyrical music, but my colleague, Amanda Zantal-Wiener, has joked about hip hop verses accidentally slipping into her first drafts when she listens to songs with words. If you’re like she is and find that lyrics are too distracting, you may want to experiment with some instrumental options.
For those times, check out these lyric-less tunes — we promise they won’t put you to sleep:
Buried in deadlines? Trying to unearth yourself from an email mountain after some time out of the office? Regretting that you came back? Whatever’s bugging you, sometimes, the best remedy for productivity loss is a solid dose of “feel good” tunes — you know, the kind that make you spontaneously use a pen as a pantomimed microphone.
But scientifically speaking, music can stimulate the same part of the brain as delicious food and other physical pleasures. Researchers at McGill University, for example, discovered that when participants received the opiod-production-blocking drug naltrexone, they didn’t respond as positively to their favorite tunes as they might normally. The verdict? Our brains are trained to naturally produce these chemicals when we hear our preferred playlist.
And while “feel good” songs vary from person to person, a search for Spotify playlists with those very keywords yields dozens of results. That said, here’s one of our favorites:
Can’t get enough? Here are a few more suggestions from my colleague Amanda.
According to the BBC, about 70% of us work in open-concept work spaces — myself included. And while it’s great to be able to turn our colleagues next door and ask, “Hey, what’s another word for … ?”, many find background chatter distracting.
If that’s the case, you’re certainly not alone — according to a study led by Yamaguchi University, “When carrying out intellectual activities involving memory or arithmetic tasks, it is a common experience for noise to cause an increased psychological impression of ‘annoyance,’ leading to a decline in performance.”
But without an office to call your own, what’s a writer or number-cruncher to do? Neutral, non-verbal background sounds like white noise, which is not the same as nature sounds, can help to block out these distractions — things like the din of a restaurant or shopping mall, an electric fan, or even laundry machines.
And in case you’re wondering — yes. Like all of the above, there is a playlist for that:
So go forth — focus, get pumped, feel good, and rock out.
What are your favorite songs for getting work done? Let us know in the comments.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
As technology continues to lower the cost of content production, today’s end user is asked to digest more stories than ever before — in conversation, in written text, at the movies, in advertisements, and even through web design. With so much to absorb, it’s essential for digital marketers to differentiate their content and deliver an incredible experience.
To better understand recent advancements and best practices in digital storytelling, look no further than the creative writing greats. J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter book series, has sold 450 million Harry Potter books in print, worldwide. Though the first book in the series was published nearly 20 years ago, the content continues to take new shapes through her site, Pottermore.
Launched in 2012, Pottermore is the global digital publisher of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, “dedicated to unlocking the power of imagination.”
In this post, I’ll discuss six ways Pottermore pushes the digital storytelling envelope. Apply them to your own strategy to deliver content that strengthens relationships with your community.
Pottermore is the host and primary retailer of the enhanced editions of the Harry Potter books, but its unique content doesn’t stop there. Visitors also gain access to new writing released by J.K. Rowling, free of charge. Her pieces flesh out existing plot points and provide further context to the original stories. To the delight of many fans, the site additionally posts sanctioned articles on all things Harry Potter that dive into niche topics and plot points.
In short, Pottermore is the destination for Harry Potter content.
This is a primary goal for digital storytellers: to develop a lauded reputation for a certain content type. This is achieved through time, consistency, and promotion. To build hype for the first release of Pottermore in 2012, a restricted number of early birds were granted access to help put the finishing touches on the site. This layer of exclusivity drove press coverage, ensuring the larger release gained significant attention.
Takeaway for Marketers: As you build your own digital storytelling world, commit to a specific angle and consider how you can present it in a way that showcases what makes it valuable and original. Perhaps it’s a noteworthy writer, the fact you stay up to date on a specific trend, or that you leverage someone’s distinct professional experience.
On Pottermore, it’s J.K. Rowling’s words that draw fans in, but the most popular features of the site aren’t about the author — they’re about the user.
As J.K. Rowling describes in this original introductory trailer, “It’s the same story, with a few crucial editions. The most important one is you.”
In keeping with this vision, Pottermore asks visitors to create an account in order to access certain information. This allows Pottermore to learn and save information about each individual, and create a personalized experience.
To drive signups, Pottermore gates one of their most popular features — quizzes. In order for visitors to assess their Hogwarts house, Patronus, or wand type, they must create a login.
After creating an account, quiz results are saved, and users can return to read more about their results and view any purchases made to their personal account. With the information gained through the quizzes, Pottermore creates a user profile that reflects each unique individual and allows them to learn more about themselves in the context of this world.
Takeaway for Marketers: Information-gathering is the key to creating a custom experience. When you learn more about each individual user, you’re able to deliver digital stories in a way that resonates.
Pottermore uses quizzes, but you can also use less direct means to learn more about your readers, such as through Google Analytics’ suite of tools. You can always, however, ask for information directly. Users are often happy to submit information when they know the output will be an experience suited entirely to their tastes.
After completing Pottermore’s sorting quizzes, users are assigned to respective “houses.” This house, similar to the membership signup, creates a sense of belonging within the larger Pottermore community.
Ironically, this might be the single thing Harry Potter fans crave most from the original content: to finally join the book’s secret wizarding society that allegedly lives right under the reader’s nose.
To further foster this sense of community, Pottermore is also launching a new book club that will encourage discussion among users through a Twitter chat.
Takeaway for Marketers: To create a sense of belonging among your own community, you need to give your audience a way to identify as a part of the larger whole and participate. It helps to pay special attention to the language you use in your marketing efforts. J.K. Rowling placed heavy emphasis on the reader in her introductory trailer, referring to her fans as a “wonderful, diverse, and loyal.” Digital storytellers, too, must invite their audiences to enjoy content in a way that lets them know their perspectives and experiences are understood and appreciated.
Pay careful attention to the language you use in your invitation to resonate with your target audience. Use identifying phrases that help your readers understand that your content is especially for them.
Your visitors will more likely feel a sense of belonging if you go so far as to create a digital “world.”
Luckily, you don’t need to be a fantasy author to create a content universe — but it can be helpful to take a few cues from them. Part of what turns a fiction fan into a fanatic is that they’re invited into a unique world that is so fleshed out, it seems real. This augmented sense of reality makes it easier to forge a connection with the content, and imagine yourself inside of the story.
How, then, can you make your story, brand, or idea so well-fleshed out, that a user feels connected and a part of your universe?
Takeaway for Marketers: Like Pottermore, your “world” should be branded to have its own identity that attracts people to become a part of it. Another brand that pulls this off is REI. Its award-winning marketing campaign #OptOutside is an example of how consumers can attach themselves to the qualities associated with a company. By making it extremely clear what their brand represents, REI grew their community by throngs not for their products — but for their ideals.
Another way you can continue to build the world of your story or brand is to regularly provide new content.
On Pottermore, in honor of the fact that the first book in the Harry Potter series was published nearly 20 years ago, posts that explore and celebrate the first book’s themes, moments, and characters are released every Friday.
The site also includes an entire page dedicated to official information and news around latest happenings related to the content. Several newsworthy pieces are released each month. This content keeps visitors informed, and also protects the brand from speculation, rumors, and incorrect reporting on other sites.
Takeaway for Marketers: When you take control of the news that’s shared about your organization, you develop a reputation as a trusted and transparent resource. You also appear more active and responsive to relevant current events. Establish a cadence for content creation, and stick to it to build an expectation and trust with your community members.
Perhaps most trendsetting of all, Pottermore sells enhanced editions of the original books that reimagine the stories. In the spirit of magic, the new editions are complete with animations and interactive artwork. Their goal is to engage your imagination and create a new reading experience that brings you closer to the content than ever before.
The enhanced editions, and the site in general, are shining examples of how storytellers are taking it to the next level to create incredible experiences for their readers.
Takeaway for Marketers: When you work hard to publish valuable content regularly, it can feel disheartening to consider its digital shelf life. To make the most of your evergreen content, and avoid reinventing the wheel, think through what improvements you might make to the experience to wow and delight your readers. Whether you update key facts and statistics, add a video message, or reimagine the page’s design, you can add components that elevate existing pieces of information in new and exciting ways.
At its heart, Pottermore exists to create a phenomenal storytelling experience. You, too, can send a message to your community and the industry at-large when you focus on the end user.
When you create a unique experience for your community that centers around delight, you invite your readers to feel as if they are a part of something. This, in turn, increases their loyalty, and makes them more likely to consume your content again and again, and refer your brand to others. Case in point: the brilliance of even the name of J.K. Rowling’s site, Pottermore.
What marketing lessons have your favorite books taught you? Let us know in the comments.
Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as a simple “hot-or-not” site to get back at classmates. Nike founder Phil Knight called the now ubiquitious shoe company his “crazy idea.” Instagram began with a single photo filter to make turn its users into less-crappy photographers.
You probably couldn’t have predicted their success at the time, but today, all of these ideas have turned into global titans worth billions of dollars.
Since it all starts so simply, I’ll pose this question: Do you have a “crazy idea” of your own, and have you ever considered turning it into a full-fledged business?
While I can’t answer that question for you, I can tell you what makes Mark Zuckerberg and his ilk such effective and successful founders and entrepreneurs. And who knows — if you see some of these traits in yourself, it might be time to dust off that “crazy idea” and get to work building a business of your own!
(Side note: If you want some help getting started, HubSpot’s giving away $100,000, free HubSpot software, and 1:1 facetime with industry experts to help one lucky winner found the business of their dreams. Check out our #SummerStartup competition before it’s too late!)
At LinkedIn (and HubSpot, too), there’s a saying that CEO Jeff Weiner throws around frequently, borrowed from the legendary “Coach K” at Duke University: “Next Play”.
The thought is, if you miss a wide-open shot, don’t stop to wallow or whine — you haven’t got the time. Instead, pick yourself up, get on the defense, and move on to the next play.
In the startup world, if you want to keep the lights on, you need to be able to hustle under pressure. Whether a big deal has just fallen through, or you’re staring down a massive and unforeseen cost, you have to be able to hit the reset button and attack the next play at 100%.
Elon Musk is one of my personal heroes. Whether it’s SpaceX, Tesla, or SolarCity, his goal is the same: to save the human race. He’s completely mission-driven, and he’s willing to take crazy risks to make it happen.
For instance, in order to get SpaceX and Tesla off the ground, Musk took nearly his entire fortune from the sale of PayPal ($165M) and invested it into these two businesses — even though it was entirely possible both would fail. He went from millionaire to penniless (and ultimately back again) because he was willing to take a calculated risk to see his dream come to fruition.
While I’m not advising you to take out another mortgage on the house to support your business, very few entrepreneurs make it to the top without facing a few “make-or-break” moments — and you should be ready to do the same.
THE #COMPETITION IS ON: Pitch your business idea in 25 words or less in the comments below for the chance to win: $100,000 1:1 executive mentorship 3 years of HubSpot Apply to #SummerStartup by July 23 for the chance to kickstart your dream business! Wish you could quit your job and change your life? Comment below to enter. Get the resources you need to start your business and view Terms & Conditions at http://bit.ly/HubSpotSummerStartup Brief overview of main Terms & Conditions: ✅ Entry is only by direct reply to this Facebook post within the Phase 1 Contest Period. See Official Rules for more details on the Contest phases. ✅ You must be a UK, IE, US, AUS or SG resident to be eligible. Must be 18 or over. Must not be a HubSpot employee or relation of. See Official Rules for more details. ✅ This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or any of their affiliates. Facebook is not liable for this Contest. ✅ You should read the Official Rules prior to entering. The Official Rules can be found here: http://bit.ly/HubSpotSummerStartup
HubSpot on Monday, June 26, 2017
If you want to be successful in a startup, you should be ready to raise your hand, roll up your sleeves, and tackle the work that no one else is willing to do. A perfect example of this comes from HubSpot’s history, not from a founder but from an integral member of the leadership team.
In 2014, HubSpot was a pre-IPO company in serious need of an overhaul of much of its sales operations plan. It was clear that tons of hard work and analysis would need to go into the process, and there were numerous stakeholders with varying opinions on how to proceed.
Nevertheless, Alison Elworthy, VP of Operations at HubSpot, raised her hand to do the messy work. The resulting plan was a massive success upon rollout — and it’s still called “The Elworthy Plan” to this day.
Here’s the lesson: whether you want to start your own company, you want a better title, or you’re just interested in a bigger paycheck, the best way to raise some eyebrows and boost your career is to volunteer for the hard stuff.
They’re definitely not afraid of failure. In fact, many successful and innovative companies (like Google) encourage people to fail, the mindset being that if you’re not failing, you’re not trying. They embrace the mantra of “failing fast”, because the faster you fail, the more things you’re able to try and the more proof you have that you’re pushing your limits. This reliance on failure has kept companies like Google on the forefront of innovation for years.
Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx (and the youngest self-made female billionaire in America) is the perfect manifestation of this mantra. Working as a door-to-door fax salesperson at the time, Sara (unsuccessfully) sought pantyhose that would work with the modern woman’s lifestyle. At 27, Sara invested her life savings, $5,000, into a hosiery concept of her own designs.
The rest is history. Sara founded Spanx, and in the process earned a fortune worth more than $1 billion.
On the subject of failure, Sara has one piece of advice: “It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”
Passion is everything when it comes to planning for success. The Zuckerbergs of the world didn’t get to the top by chasing a paycheck – they got there by feeding their passion and hustling to make it happen.
Passion shouldn’t be limited to the product, though — it should tie into the mission. Steve Jobs wasn’t passionate about computers, he was passionate about how Apple could disrupt the stodgy and established industry of computers and empower everyone to be their most creative selves.
As Zuckerberg himself puts it, “If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.”
There’s no way to know for sure whether your “crazy idea” will be a success. That said, the only surefire way to know it won’t be a success is to let it gather dust in the back of your mind.
Interested in $100,000, free HubSpot software, and 1:1 mentoring to start the business of your dreams? Check out our #SummerStartup competition today.
I don’t need to tell you how big trust in business and marketing is.
Trust is everything.
You can pull every clever trick in the book, invest thousands of dollars in slick, sexy advertising and work tirelessly on conversion optimization tactics.
But at the end of the day, it’s trust that leads to sales.
That’s probably why word-of-mouth marketing is just as important as it’s ever been.
A new study from Ogilvy, Google and TNS found,
word of mouth is the most powerful factor when it comes to consumers’ relationships with brands.
According to that study, 74% of consumers cite word of mouth as being the most powerful factor.
And this totally makes sense.
I’ll trust the input of a friend or family member over some hotshot salesman any day of the week.
So, when it comes to your Twitter profile, trust-building should be given top priority.
You obviously want to grow your following.
But more importantly, you want your followers to trust you and take your opinion seriously.
Which elements should you focus on to build trust?
In this post, I share 16 essentials mandatory for creating a trust-boosting Twitter profile.
What’s the first thing Twitter users see when landing on your profile?
For most, it’s your background image.
Of course, it needs to look great and have the right pixel dimensions.
But it also needs to incorporate the same branding elements you use in your logo, on your website, other social accounts and so on.
Here’s a good example from Burt’s Bees:
Here’s another from Mashable:
Both incorporate a color scheme, style and message congruent with their overall brand.
This is important because it typically takes being exposed to your brand five to seven times before customers will buy.
Equally important is your profile picture.
Again, it needs to be appealing and be in line with the rest of your branding.
Here’s the image I use for my Neil Patel Twitter profile:
It’s simple yet professional, and visitors can instantly recognize me.
Here’s the profile picture for The Art of Manliness:
It’s matches the central theme of the Art of Manliness website.
I’ve mentioned before that adding a trust seal to your checkout page can increase conversions.
Twitter has its own version of a trust seal, which is a blue check mark.
It looks like this:
Although it’s just a small, simple icon, it can pump up your trustworthiness considerably because Twitter users instantly know your account is authentic.
I know I always look for the blue verified badge when I’m searching for a celebrity or major brand.
To get verified, you’ll need to submit a request, which you can learn about here.
And here are some of the basic elements you must have in order to be approved:
Twitter allows you to include some brief biographical information on your profile.
This is the perfect place to explain your credentials and what you bring to the table.
Use this space wisely.
Here’s the info I include on my profile:
Here’s the info Chris Ducker includes:
Just don’t go overboard tooting your own horn to the point of being annoying.
Twitter also allows you to include a link to a website in your profile.
This is great for driving referral traffic and can also serve as a trust-booster.
Just like Facebook, Twitter gives you the option of pinning a top tweet to the top of your profile.
At the moment, I’m using this feature to promote my podcast.
Pinning a top tweet is a simple way to maximize the visibility of a particular post and is great for increasing trust.
Pick what you feel is your absolute best tweet, and pin it to the top of your profile.
Ideally, it would have already received plenty of engagement (e.g., retweets, likes, etc.) because this will make you seem more legit to first-time visitors.
Keep in mind this is the first post they will see.
Pinning a top tweet is simple.
Click on the downward arrow on the top right-hand corner of your favorite tweet.
Then click “Pin to your profile page:”
That’s all there is to it.
This is a no brainer but definitely worth mentioning.
At the end of the day, you’re only as credible as the content you tweet.
If you post genuinely insightful, relevant content, people will trust you more.
If you post garbage content that’s worthless, spammy and overtly self-serving, it’s going to kill your trustworthiness.
That’s why I always try to make sure my content hits its mark and matches the interests of my audience, which fall under the umbrella of digital marketing.
Retweets are a big part of Twitter’s appeal.
With just a couple of clicks (or taps) you can retweet interesting content and share it with your audience.
But here’s the thing.
People will assess your legitimacy based on the type of content you retweet.
If you’re retweeting epic content from a credible source, you’re good to go.
This is going to enhance your image and increase your followers’ sense of trust toward you.
But if it’s crap, it’s going to diminish that sense of trust.
In other words, don’t retweet posts from spammy, irrelevant sources.
Again, the content you associate yourself with can help or hurt your brand.
Sprinkle in a few articles each week from major publications such as The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, The New Yorker, etc.—whatever matches your industry or niche.
It needs to be relevant to your audience and cover a topic of genuine interest to them.
And here’s another thing.
It’s best to include the URL of the publication so that people can instantly recognize it.
The idea here is you can inform/entertain your audience while benefiting from the trust people have in an established, trusted site.
A big component of gaining trust is being seen as an expert or an authority on a particular subject.
To achieve this status, you have to be selective about the type of content you post.
For instance, you won’t catch me tweeting about interior design or cooking.
You’ll find me posting content strictly about digital marketing.
That’s my MO.
Be clear about what your niche is by sticking with a consistent theme.
Of all the social networks, people tend to post the most frequently on Twitter.
According to a recent study from CoSchedule, “15 tweets per day is recommended.”
Don’t be afraid of going a little crazy with your tweets.
The most important thing is to be consistent and not have any major gaps between posts.
I’m sure you know how huge video marketing is right now.
Brands that use video report more traffic, more leads and a higher ROI.
I also find video to be perfect for breaking down walls and making deeper connections.
Why not throw in a few videos on your Twitter page?
I’ve been doing this recently and am seeing some great results.
Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income does the same.
Just link content from your YouTube channel or website.
Hashtags are an effective way to increase the visibility of your tweets.
Their overuse, however, can backfire, especially on Twitter.
While it’s fine and even encouraged to use 10 or more hashtags on other networks, like Instagram, it’s considered best practice to use a maximum of three hashtags on Twitter.
However, two hashtags is ideal and is the number I typically aim for.
Recent research shows that
engagement drops significantly once any more than two hashtags are used, on average.
“Loading the box” with hashtags looks spammy and can be a trust killer.
Let’s say someone has 100k followers.
But what if they’re following 500k people?
All of a sudden, they don’t seem as legit and trustworthy.
But let’s say someone who has 100k followers is following only 50k people.
You’re probably more likely to take them seriously because their number of followers outweighs the number of people they’re following.
It may seem like a popularity contest, but you should try to reach a favorable ratio of followers.
I would like to think I’ve got a nice ratio:
According to Kred Stories,
it is essential that you get at least 20% of the users you follow to follow you back before you move on to the next group of followers.
In other words, don’t follow a ridiculous number of accounts unless you’ve got a sizable following.
It just looks bad if you’re following thousands of people and you have only a handful of followers yourself.
There’s evidence that indicates poor spelling and grammar costs businesses millions each year in sales.
Just like you should double-check your blog posts and emails, you should always look over your tweets before publishing anything.
Otherwise, blatant errors will make you look amateurish.
More and more businesses are using Twitter as a platform for handling customer service these days.
You’re likely to receive some complaints at some point along the way.
The worst thing you can do is ignore them.
Your followers will see them, and you’ll look bad.
The best approach is to respond as quickly as possible and try to resolve the situation.
Here’s a good example of Domino’s pulling this off perfectly:
Psychological studies have found that we have an innate desire to connect with others.
based on perceptions of trust, people reported positive interactions with a ‘close friend’ to be more rewarding than interactions with a stranger or a machine.
They also found that two specific brain regions—the ventral striatum and medial prefrontal cortex—were actively engaged when someone thought they were trusting a close friend.
Your goal on Twitter is to maximize your trustworthiness and create more positive interactions.
You want to bridge the gap and make people feel a sense of camaraderie with you.
The essentials I listed in this post should help you accomplish this in a variety of ways.
This should make first-time visitors more willing to follow you and help you strengthen your rapport with your existing followers.
How do you decide whether or not you trust a person or brand on Twitter?
It’s finally, finally summer.
To celebrate the sun emerging (and the temperature in our offices dropping to subarctic extremes), I attempted to find some summery ads to feature in this month’s roundup. Instead, I ended up with a weird chatbot, a novelty phone, and several ways to kill bugs.
Regardless of seasonal appropriateness, this month’s ad roundup showcases some inventive ad formats and new concepts from agencies around the world. Check them all out below.
This heartwarming ad from Oslo-based agency Kitchen (Leo Burnett/Publicis) racked up 120 million views in just one week — and the hype is completely deserved.
To emphasize the importance of community in raising a child, “The Lunchbox” tells the story of a young boy who finds himself without a lunch at school. After wandering the halls of his school to kill time, he returns to his desk to discover each of his classmates have pitched in an item for a complete meal.
Chatbots are shaping up to be an inescapable trend in 2017, and it seems like every brand is jumping on the wagon — regardless of industry.
With the ad world fawning over Domino’s pizza tracking tool, Arby’s teamed up with Minneapolis-based agency Fallon to create a high-tech chatbot of their own: The Arby’s Pizza Slider Chatbot. Despite the name, this little Facebook Messenger bot will not actually help you order a pizza slider (or anything) from Arby’s. In fact, it’s designed to do absolutely nothing helpful.
Check out my conversation with the bot below. (Unsurprisingly, the Arby’s Pizza Slider bot has no time for vegetarians.)
Back in the late 80’s, Sports Illustrated released an exciting new offer: Buy a subscription to the magazine, and you got a free football shaped phone. If this ad was any indication, people were psyched. The kitschy little device convinced literally millions of people to shell out $55 for an SI subscription.
Fast forward to 2017, and the folks at Howler, an American soccer magazine, teamed up with Kovert Creative to produce a delightful, celebrity-studded spoof on the classic campaign. Their version features — what else? — a soccer ball phone, and includes appearances from comedians Sarah Silverman, Will Arnett, and Jack Black, among others.
Unfortunately for novelty phone aficionados, Howler only made one soccer phone. And according to their website, it’s already taken.
Introducing the Soccer Ball Phone! We teamed up with some of our favorite comedians to parody those iconic magazine commercials that were all over TV in the early ‘90s. Go to https://fifa.wtf/soccerballphone for a special subscription offer now!
Howler Magazine on Tuesday, June 13, 2017
The copywriting shines in this ingenious promo spot for Showtime’s crime drama, Ray Donovan, now entering its fifth season. The first half of the ad features an ominous, threatening voice over from series star Liev Schreiber. In the second half, Schreiber’s phrases are repeated in reverse order, taking on a completely different tone: reassuring and protective. The ad — created in-house at Showtime — perfectly captures the title character’s duality.
Using a special randomizing algorithm, Ogilvy & Mather Italy developed seven million unique jar designs for Nutella. Each colorful package is 100% one-of-a-kind, but if you’re looking to pick one up, you’re late to the game: According to the agency, all seven million of the limited-edition jars sold out in one month at Italian supermarkets.
This Father’s Day ad from the Phillipines went viral for its heartwarming (and hilarious) twist ending.
Created by Tribal Worldwide Philippines for SM Supermalls, the ad follows a family as they prepare for the daughter’s extravagant birthday bash. Throughout preparations leading up to the event, the father looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. We soon find out he’s not quite as unemotional as he seems.
According to research from Wieden + Kennedy New York, singles who feature travel pictures on their Tinder profiles are more likely to be swiped right. But if you can’t afford to travel to an exotic locale for the selfie opportunities, Delta has you covered.
The airline worked with W+K to create the #DeltaDatingWall, a mural in Brooklyn that features perfectly Instagram-sized selfie backgrounds of cities around the world. So if you want to trick your future husband into thinking you visited Honolulu and Zurich in the same day, this is the ideal place to do it.
To bring attention to the not-so-distant consequences of climate change and inspire some environmental urgency, the Nature Conservancy Brazil launched a line of apocalypse supplies called The Products of Tomorrow.
Presented in slick, futuristic packaging, the products seem innocuous at first: an apple wrapped in a silver bag, a canister of sunscreen, a bottle of water. But on closer inspection, the details paint a scary vision of our future: the apple is only 3% fruit, the sunscreen is SPF 350+, and the bottled water is “low-acidic rain water.”
In this colorful, BBDO New York-produced ad for Bacardi, the residents of a idyllic Caribbean town are quite literally caught in a repetitive loop. Inspired by Instagram’s Boomerang effect, the summery spot features a catchy beat from Major Lazer.
Who says print ads can’t break some new ground? This Brazilian magazine ad for Mat Inset insecticide from WMcCann invites consumers to “Discover two ways to kill insects.” One is the product, and the other is this delightfully low-tech innovation:
Houston, we have a turnover problem.
As the years pass, there seem to be a growing number of studies on employers struggling to retain their people — and the high costs associated with the resulting turnover. What’s at the bottom of it? Is it workplace culture? Is it missed salary expectations? Or can it all be lumped under the crucial umbrella of communication?
It’s that last point that’s often at the root of employee dissatisfaction — and good communication starts before new hires even begin work. Many times, the key is providing the foundation of a formal onboarding program. It’s something that 98% of executives say is crucial to employee retention, as it can help bring new hires up to speed quickly and accurately, as well as establish mutually realistic expectations between employees and managers.
But onboarding new content team members — both full-time and freelance — can be challenging. Sure, it’s an important part of talent retention, but how can it be efficiently and effectively carried out, especially with limited time and resources? Below, we’ve outlined a process you can put into practice for a new content team member’s first 90 days on the job — a period of time when 20% of turnover can occur — as well as listing specific considerations for onboarding freelance content team members.
You don’t need to wait for your new hire to arrive for her first day at work before you start integrating her into the company. In fact, you can start the onboarding process as soon as she accepts your job offer — and here are a few of the ways how.
First, ensure that you have all the relevant administrative forms ready for when your new hire arrives. In the U.S., these include forms like a W-4 and an I-9, depending on the employee’s work authorization. A checklist can be especially helpful here, as there are a number of registrations and laws that might apply to any hiring you do, depending on the size and type of your company. Details are available through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. Also keep in mind any internal documents you need your employees to sign or complete, like non-disclosure agreements (NDA).
It might also be helpful to prepare something that employees can read to get a sense of your company’s history, values, objectives, environment, and culture. Many employers create a handbook for this purpose, but feel free to look outside the box here — HubSpot, for example, uses a Culture Code.
Some of this material should include information about buyer personas, especially for new content team members — it’s essential that they know exactly who your organization’s ideal customer is. That can be part of a style guide that specifies the tone of voice for all official content — with specifics like that in mind, it’ll help your new hire ramp up on writing content that resonates effectively.
Once your new hires start to include designers, add things like iconography, fonts, color scheme, and ideal logo specifications within your style guide. That can help to ensure your brand is reflected with integrity, regardless of who is producing your content.
No matter how thorough your handbook or culture code might be, new hires will most likely have more questions that they only think to ask once they’re in their new work environments. That’s one reason why mentors can be so helpful — so that new employees have someone, or a group of people, to show them the ropes and help them assimilate.
Assign each new hire a mentor — this should be someone different from the employee’s manager and can be either higher or lower-ranking — and schedule bi-weekly meetings for the next 90 days. Group mentoring and peer mentoring are both viable options.
The first 30 days of a new employee’s tenure are all about learning. Avoid rushing her to start contributing to high-level business objectives within this period — remember, these initial days of exposure can make or break your new hire’s retention, so allow for a learning curve.
Arrange the first meeting between your new hire and her mentor within the first week of starting — that serves as a great opportunity for the new hire to ask any questions about the company, products and services, culture, customer base, and facilities. During this meeting, it’s a good idea to collaboratively develop a 90-day plan for the new hire, with key milestones that she should aim to reach by certain intervals during this time period. That way, your new hire can keep pace with what’s expected of her, which allows her to seek out specific advice and ask the right questions about targets.
As the new hire progresses through her first month of work, new opportunities will arise that will provide context to some of the introductory materials she received, like a culture code or handbook. It’s around this time when the new hire should observe things like client presentations, brainstorming sessions, and other team meetings to help bring her up to speed about the specific projects to which the organization’s products and services are applied.
Even more important, however, is the new hire learning not only about the company’s objectives — but also, the content team’s specific role in achieving these goals. Discussing the parameters around these objectives can clarify her responsibilities and show how her work has an impact on the company’s enterprise value. Documentation can help, as well as a visual that illustrates these workflows. Here’s one that shows, for example, the steps involved in creating an infographic, clearly depicting which content team member is responsible for each stage of the process:
Visual aids that clarify roles — like workflow diagrams — can be especially helpful when you’re working with freelancers who might “come and go” on the team for short-term projects. Plus, visuals can help with memory — people remember 55% more information when a relevant image is paired with it — which is important for new hires who are absorbing a lot of material in a short period of time.
Finally, if there are any core tools or new software that the new hire needs to use for her job, this is the time for her to develop those competencies. Schedule any necessary trainings on how to use internal databases, content management systems, or other resources that have a learning curve.
In days 1-30, your new hire was focused on learning, and on gleaning the context of how her work fit into the company’s goals, products, and services. Now, it’s time to begin acting on that context and becoming well-versed in those tasks that make a contribution to the organization.
During this period, new hires should become accustomed to routine processes and can start contributing to the content team’s projects. And while it might be too soon to have them play a major role in mission critical projects, they can still observe the tasks carried out around it, while contributing to it on a smaller scale.
Let’s say your new hire is a copywriter. One effective way to have him scale up his workflow — so he can get to the point of writing copy for high-stakes properties like product pages or downloadable content — is to assign one or two in-depth blog posts that require similar research and cross-team collaboration as higher-level initiatives, but on a smaller scale. Be sure to offer constructive feedback on all tasks in this phase, celebrating small wins while also identifying areas of improvement, so that the employee can continue to grow and improve.
Given this introduction to cross-team collaboration, this stage is a good time for new hires to have conversations with the folks from other teams that they might be working with in the future, like sales and PR. Set up a plan for your new hire to schedule informal lunches or coffee meetings with these other employees, to help facilitate an understanding of how each department works together to fulfill the company’s objectives.
Keep in mind that as new hires progress through their first several weeks, milestones and benchmarks may shift or need to be tweaked. Continue regular employee-manager meetings during this period to modify and finalize the 90-day plan as necessary with concrete performance goals. That type of thing can help to boost motivation — 38% of workers whose managers set clear priorities and goals are engaged in their work, compared to 4% of those whose managers don’t.
In the final 30 days of this onboarding framework, the focus should be on fostering independence and autonomy for your new hire. With a thorough understanding of the company, its offerings, interdepartmental relations, and processes, new hires should be ready to start holding themselves accountable and playing a bigger role on significant projects.
For writers, tasks within this period that involve required assets from other teams — like design — are ideal, as they serve as a test of collaboration skills.
At the end of 90 days, assess the success of this framework, identifying areas of success and improvement for the future. It’s important to note that the employee-manager relationship doesn’t end here, so continue to meet on a regular basis — perhaps weekly — to continue to assess skills and interest as the new hire progresses in her career.
Wherever possible, use data to verify success. If your employee has written copy for new product pages, for example, examine its impact on factors like conversion rates. Blog posts can be assessed based on traffic.
Scaling a content team often requires the addition of freelance professionals, like writers and designers. Because freelancers often work remotely, documenting work duties and maintaining frequent communication is crucial.
If you anticipate taking on a large number of freelancers, it might be helpful to create introductory assets — like videos — that cover policies, guidelines, and processes that freelancers will need to follow. This way, you only have to explain the process once and you can share the same video with every new freelancer that joins your team.
Remember when we covered the introductory materials that are helpful to full-time new hires? Keep your freelancers in mind as you create those, as even though they might only join your team on a project-by-project basis, understanding the style and culture of your organization can help them to add a more authentic voice to the work they do for you.
If you want to onboard your freelancers successfully, remember that they’re real team members — not just replaceable labor. Include them in relevant strategic discussions, just as you would regular employees and communicate frequently. We recommend platforms like Slack for staying in touch, as it allows you to communicate using direct messages, audio calls and video calls.
Even when the first 90 days concludes, maintain communication that emphasizes how invested you are in your new hire’s future. Listen to concerns, identifying gaps whenever possible, and when new interests are expressed, formulate a plan for how those things can be incorporated into the employee’s main responsibilities in a way that has a positive impact on the company.
How do you ensure a smooth onboarding process for content team members? Let us know in the comments.
Google is a treasure trove for marketers.
Currently (2017), it “processes over 40,000 search queries every second!”
This “translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.”
And just look at how much Google use grew between 2000 and 2012:
And this all means one thing.
Google can generate valuable data like it’s nobody’s business.
There’s arguably no other resource in history that compares to it.
Another thing I love about the search engine is the arsenal of free tools it offers for gaining insights.
There’s the Google Search Console, Google Analytics, the Google Keyword Planner and Google Alerts, just to name a few.
These are all ideal for providing you with the data you need to better understand the behavior of your audience and improve your marketing.
And as we all know, data is a marketer’s best friend.
Without data, I wouldn’t know what direction to take, making it much more difficult for me to reach my demographic.
In this post, I’m going to cover an extremely important aspect of marketing.
It’s this: how to discover your customers’ biggest frustrations and how to solve them.
I’ve found that Google is perfect for finding out what irks my audience, and you can implement the same methods too.
Here are several techniques you can utilize.
Let’s start with an incredibly simple yet effective feature: autocomplete.
I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
With the insane amount of data Google has accumulated and continues to accumulate, it offers autocomplete to streamline user searches and help people find the information they’re looking for quicker.
Here’s a screenshot that summarizes how this feature works:
Notice I highlighted two key points.
Autocomplete predictions factor in the popularity/freshness of search terms and terms other people are searching for.
Using autocomplete can provide you with valuable intel on what your customers are searching for and, more importantly, what their collective frustrations are.
Let me give you an example of how you can use it.
Type in a broad keyword phrase that relates to your industry, niche or product you’re selling.
I’ll use “organic soap” as an example.
Here’s what pops up:
Just like that, I can tell what some of the most popular search terms are.
It’s obvious people are interested in organic soap bases, recipes and organic soap-making supplies.
Therefore, this user base has questions and concerns about these topics.
So this is a good starting point.
I recommend recording these popular searches for future reference because you’ll want to create content around those topics.
Another easy way to understand your average customer’s frustrations is to figure out what types of questions they’re asking regarding your niche/product.
You can do this by typing in search phrases such as “what is,” “why is,” “how to,” etc., followed by a broad keyword.
Here’s an example:
Within seconds, I can get a pretty good idea of which aspects of the organic soap topic people are curious about.
Remember, if it pops up on Google autocomplete, you know a large number of people have entered that search phrase.
So, you’re dealing with a high volume of searches.
Again, you’ll want to record those search phrases because you can target them later on.
Let’s take it one step further.
Type in your broad keyword followed by the word problems:
Here are some of the results I got:
I also highlighted some frustrations, concerns and questions people have.
Considering the fact these are all on page one of this Google search, it’s safe to say there’s a significant number of people who share these frustrations.
As a result, these are all potential topics I could cover.
You probably already use this tool for performing keyword research for SEO.
But it can also be useful for finding your customers’ pain points as well.
Here’s what you do.
Type in your broad keyword in the search box:
Then scroll down to see what people are most interested in.
The main thing you’ll want to take into consideration is the number of average monthly searches.
Here are some highly searched keywords that let me know what types of questions and frustrations customers have:
I absolutely love Google Trends.
It’s one of the best ways to get a quick snapshot of the popularity of something and see how interest has either grown or declined over time.
I also like to use it to generate graphs for great looking visuals for my content.
To use it in this context, just type in your search phrase:
Then scroll down to “Related queries.”
You can view related queries as either “Top” or “Rising.”
“Top” lets you know what’s most popular over time in the grand scheme of things.
“Rising” lets you know what’s most popular at the moment and what’s trending upward.
Use this information to spot any potential frustrations your customers might be having that you may want to address.
Here’s one last technique.
Do a Google search that combines your broad keyword and the word blogs.
You’ll get results like this:
Then click on one or more of the results.
This one looks good to me:
Now, I can get a glimpse of the types of topics the top blogs are covering, which are indicative of what your average customer is most interested in:
I can get quite a bit of information by just looking at the description of each blog.
But, of course, I can learn a lot more by actually clicking on a specific blog and scanning through the posts.
This should fill in the gaps in terms of discovering the average customer’s frustrations and can give me even more ideas for content.
Okay, so I’ve discussed several different ways to gain an understanding of what’s irking your customers.
As you can see, Google is pretty much a be-all and end-all tool for this.
But how do you solve those frustrations?
You want to create robust, comprehensive content that exhaustively answers these questions and addresses these frustrations.
I recommend writing down a list of topics based on your research and prioritizing them in terms of importance.
For instance, I found people were interested in:
and so on.
Now I can start creating content that covers those topics.
More specifically, my goal is to create content that outranks the competition.
As you may already know, I’m a huge proponent of the skyscraper technique: producing content that betters and outperforms your competitors’ content.
If you’re unfamiliar with this concept or need to brush up, this guide from Backlinko will tell you everything you need to know.
By following this formula and addressing the unique concerns of your customers, you’ll quickly be on track to generate traffic, build trust and “scratch their itch.”
I’ve mentioned many times before that interactive content significantly outperforms conventional static content.
Here are a few stats from Impact Marketing that show the importance of creating interactive content:
When you break it all down,
interactive content drives 2x the number of conversions as passive content like blogs and eBooks.
Here’s what I suggest.
Look for ways to create different types of content your competitors have overlooked or ignored.
Rather than writing your standard 800-word blog post, write a long-form, 2,000-word post full of visuals, including relevant videos, graphs, stats, etc.
Or if there’s a pervasive question your customers have, try creating an infographic that succinctly answers it step by step.
In other words, think outside the box and be willing to go where your competition doesn’t.
This should kill two birds with one stone because you’re solving your customers’ biggest frustrations and providing them with incredibly helpful information while offering a level of depth your competitors are not.
It’s a win-win situation.
It’s amazing the insights you can gain from Google.
It’s a godsend for doing market research and will provide you with a wealth of valuable intel if you know how to use it correctly.
And the longer people use Google, the bigger the data pool becomes.
The best part is that it’s completely free.
As you’re probably aware, every demographic has its own specific pain points.
Your job as a marketer is to identify these frustrations and provide an effective solution.
By using the techniques I mentioned, you can do this in a very streamlined manner.
From there, you’re in a much better position to create content that hits its mark and can provide your audience with the answers they crave.
This, in turn, translates into a host of benefits including increased traffic, more leads and bigger profits.
Do you have any other suggestions for using Google to discover customer frustrations?
I don’t know about you, but I barely print anything anymore.
Seriously, think about it — when’s the last time you had to type Command + P and print out a document? Between e-tickets, virtual payment options, and online signature tools, I think the last thing I printed out was the lease for my apartment.
So you can imagine my surprise when HubSpot’s audience started telling us they still like to print out our ebooks — which are often 20 or 30 pages in length — instead of viewing them on a web page.
In 2017 — during the era of self-driving cars, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence — our team here at HubSpot is constantly striving to test and implement the most modern techniques for content creation to provide cool, useful resources for our audience. But as it turns out, our perceptions of what our audience actually values when they download out content were a little … off.
In this post, I’ll dive into our hypothesis, how we tested it, and what we’re learning about our audience — and how they actually like to consume our content.
I work on HubSpot’s Marketing Acquisition team creating content offers — such as our downloadable ebooks, guides, and templates — that our audience exchanges their contact information for in order to download them.
If you’re familiar with the inbound marketing methodology we’ve been teaching here at HubSpot for more than 10 years, I operate in the “Convert” stage of the process of helping new people discover and learn about HubSpot:
When a person happens upon HubSpot for the first time online — via a blog post like this one, through social media, or by conducting a Google search — they might see a bold, brightly-colored call-to-action (CTA) encouraging them to learn more about a particular topic or product.
And in order to get that information — from an ebook, a guide, a template, a webinar, or an event — the person has to hand over their contact information. This ensures they can receive an emailed version of the content offer or event registration, and it also converts them from a visitor into a lead.
My job is to create content that visitors are so interested in learning more about that they exchange their phone number, email address, and professional background information. And to make sure we keep converting visitors into leads for the health of HubSpot’s business, I make sure that ebooks, guides, and events are helpful, fascinating, and ultimately educate our audience on how to do inbound marketing.
For the most part, my team’s job has entailed creating PDFs that visitors can download once they submit a form with their contact information.
More specifically, this has meant creating a lot of PDFs.
And although people were filling out forms and downloading our content offers, we started wondering if we should offer them something different — something more cutting-edge — than a file format created back in 1993. And we wondered if changing the format of our content offers would change conversion rates, too.
We decided to run a survey — and a little test.
We wanted to know if our core persona who we marketed these content offers to still liked PDFs and found them useful. So, how else would we find out than by creating an offer?
I created two different version of the same content offer — one in PDF format, and one in web page format. Then, once someone downloaded the offer, we sent them a thank-you email, and we asked them which format they preferred, and why.
More than 3,000 individuals submitted their information to access the offer, and roughly 9% responded to our question, which gave us more than 300 responses to learn from.
And much to our surprise, 90% of the respondents preferred downloading a PDF to reading our content on a web page.
We gleaned a ton of valuable information about our core audience from this survey, and the qualitative feedback was incredibly helpful, too. Our key takeaways about format preferences were:
Our core persona likes to print offers.
People viewing our content want to be able to download it and come back to it later.
People don’t think our web page offers look as good as PDFs.
Some people are potentially defaulting to the format they know best.
It’s incredibly helpful to learn what’s going on behind the decisions and choices our audience makes to inform future strategy when it comes to content creation. But this information leaves us with a challenge, too: How do we get our audience excited about content living on interactive web pages, too?
Content living on web pages can be crawled by Google to improve websites’ domain authority (and SEO superpowers) — and PDFs can’t be. So we’re making it our mission to keep offering our audience different options for consuming content the way they want to — while innovating and testing new ways to offer content our core persona is just as excited about in a web-based format.
I’ll be back with more details about that next experiment, but in the meantime, download one of our latest content offers, and let us know if you like the format in the comments.
What’s your opinion? PDF or web page? Share with us what you learned in the comments below.
I know I’m literally ten years late to this, but I just started watching Mad Men on Netflix. And guys — newsflash — it’s a really good show.
The old school ad strategies, the fun outfits, the drama — I love it all. Except Don Draper’s management style. That, in my humble opinion, could use a little work.
I know my stance might be colored by several generation gaps. I’m a millennial, and according to some reports, we need to be told we’re smart and wonderful every two seconds or we turn to avocado toast dust — but it seems to me that Draper could afford to encourage his team a little bit more. Or at the very least, not rely so heavily on cryptic one-liners and mysterious stares to drive the direction of major projects.
I probably won’t ever relate to Don Draper’s unconventional leadership style on Mad Men, but there are plenty of other fictional bosses from TV and film to aspire to — or avoid becoming.
To help you discover your fictional boss alter ego, the folks at GetVoIP spun up this clever flowchart. So go ahead: Take a break from your morning grind, and answer the questions below to figure out which beloved (or notorious) fictional boss your leadership style most aligns with. It’s still kind of work related, right?
Which fictional boss did you get? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Credit: AMC
For a three-person digital marketing team like ours, the prospect of having a big ad budget seemed like a distant dream. So when we were suddenly given $100K to spend on Facebook ads, we were positively giddy.
And unbelievably nervous.
As a lean SaaS startup, we have to be very wise with our marketing investments. Couple that with our low cost-per-sale ($24/monthly for our starter plan), and you can see that being cost-effective while still spending on ads is a challenge.
In May of 2016, we had the honor of working with Facebook Canada. We received a small grant to kickstart our advertising initiatives, and had the opportunity to spend two full days with one of their ad reps.
Other than working with the Facebook team, we are completely in-house. On one hand this was an advantage — since we could make changes to the program in seconds rather than days — on the other hand, we were on our own for creative, landing pages, and analytics.
We ran an early prototype campaign with some decent success. In fact, it performed in the same neighbourhood as our other digital advertising initiatives. Cool beans.
But that was just the start. We’d tasted success, and knew that we were only scratching the surface. So, naturally, we made a pitch to our company’s executive team to increase our digital marketing budget so we could prove that Facebook was a viable avenue for growth. Our commitment to the business: generate trials at a cost-effective rate of $50/trial.
Our pitch was a success, and we found ourselves with a considerable ad budget. Now it was real — it was time to build out an end-to-end Facebook Ads strategy.
Admittedly, we were quite nervous. Our credibility was on the line.
Here’s what we ended up learning from that process, wrinkles and all. Read on to the end to see our results.
We received our first lesson early on. We had become complacent with the success of our ad creative in May 2016, and tried to replicate that again. Using the same ad creative from AdWords, we launched on Facebook Ads. Initially, it worked. We generated trials at an acceptable rate.
But we mistakenly saw this initial success as a sign that we could set it and forget it. We went back to focusing on our other digital marketing strategies, like creating organic content, while our CPAs gradually rose.
Facebook CPAs have a nasty habit of rising suddenly — I mean, literally blowing up overnight. One morning, we logged into our marketing dashboard and saw that we were generating trials at twice our target CPA of $50/trial. This was crazy business, and we needed to act fast.
Fixing this problem took a lot of time and resources, and a few calls with our dedicated Facebook Ads guru (shout-out to the brilliant Mike Empey). The problem was Ad Frequency.
What happened was that our Facebook ad frequency had risen so high that our addressable market was seeing ads 3-5 times a day. Ugh. So of course CPAs rose accordingly — we were irritating people to no end.
We resolved to take two actions: first, we swapped in new creative. In fact, we created 5 new ads to push into market. This had an immediate impact, and gave us a deep understanding of how detrimental ad fatigue can be.
Second, and more importantly, we committed to a new process for our creative. We call it “the conveyor belt.” Here’s how it works:
The side benefit of this process is that we’ve tested so many ad variants that we now have a repository of “winning variants” that we can quickly call out of retirement if our CPAs rise.
Initially, I think we underestimated the amount of ad sets we’d need to manage. Looking back, I cringe to think we only launched our prospecting campaign with three ad sets: USA, Canada, and Europe (today we manage between 50 and 70 ad sets, depending on ad performance).
We weren’t even going beyond some basic audience targeting.
No age specification. No regional targeting. No device targeting. Just a giant ad campaign.
We were confident in our ad creative and landing page conversion rates, but forgot the importance of audience profiling.
It’s no wonder that our results were really hard to interpret. I remember naively saying to Valerie Hamilton, our digital marketing specialist, “Europe is performing well today. What’s the story?”
We didn’t know. Were women converting better than men? Was a certain age bracket doing better than another one? We had no clue.
And at this point our CPAs were still floating about 25% higher than our target. It would have been a dramatic understatement to say we had some optimization work to do.
We started to analyze our lead generation activities across demographic lines. We used a combination of Facebook Ads, Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and Salesforce data. What we found out was that we did remarkably better with people aged between 24-45. This totally makes sense, too.
Folks older than 45 are typically in a more senior role, and rarely the ones actually building or trialing our product. Instead, they are often the ones marshaling their team to demo our software.
Our first action was to split out this age range and only focus on where we saw the most success. By cutting more expensive CPA audiences, we were able to reduce our CPA.
Since then, we’ve adjusted our messaging to the >45 crowd by including more language about “their team” and “data transparency.” We’ve also focused a lot more of our ad buys on video assets instead of advertising our free trial.
It’s worth mentioning that we had good reasons for avoiding audience segmentation. First, we didn’t have the capacity to manage dozens of ad sets. Second, we wanted to keep our addressable market as large as possible and let our learnings help us figure out where to whittle down.
The other side of the demographic coin for us was splitting out geographies. Treating Europe as a homogeneous advertising market just didn’t make sense for our business at the time (see Lesson 8, where we experimented with world-wide delivery).
While our European campaign was performing well enough, it was clear that we were missing an opportunity. For instance, we knew that leads from specific geographies often convert to customers at a much higher rate, and that their LTV was much higher on average.
In broad outreach campaigns, for example, we saw that we were attracting a high number of leads at $15/trial from Greece and Hungary. But while we have great customers in that part of the world, we’ve run a number of internal reports that show paid leads from that region convert at a much lower rate.
Despite paying such a low CPA, these leads were not converting and we were paying far too much for them. Internal reports (plus complaints from our sales team) had us digging deep into the data.
This is when the lesson clicked for us; we realized it was okay to spend a lot more on leads from, say, the Netherlands, because their LTV and conversion rates were much, much higher.
By splitting out different geographies, we enhanced our ability to match CPA targets to an appropriate LTV.
This is textbook digital marketing, true. But it was a challenge for our scrappy digital marketing team to prioritize this while managing a $100K budget and driving all the day-to-day campaigns required for a fast-growing startup.
Plus, we could rationalize pushing this aside because our landing page was performing reasonably well.
But when you’re spending $100K and your CPAs continue to fluctuate, every conversion opportunity is magnified ten-fold.
With our small team and only one dedicated designer, we needed to call in the big guns. We went with Unbounce, and it’s had a measureable impact on our landing page conversion rates, helping us grab an 18% conversion rate for Facebook Ads leads.
As we design ad creative, we create its sister landing page. From there, we can make tweaks to the page to improve conversion rates. Little things like form position, who we featured in our testimonials, and even which button colours we chose amounted to some big improvements.
We’ve always been huge users of video to demo the product and create awareness. We’ve created explainer videos that talk about our primary unique selling proposition and give a glimpse into the product, and these videos have been quite successful in garnering views, holding attention spans, and increasing conversions.
As we launched on Facebook, we put ad dollars behind one particular video. Again, good success, but we felt like we could do better.
This decision was more on gut feel (it still counts!) that video had a big role to play. I mean, just scroll through your Facebook feed right now. The challenge for us was that we’d committed to the business that we’d generate trials at or below our target CPA for that entire $100K.
Video doesn’t have that wonderful direct line to trial that a prospecting campaign does. So, we took a chance, and our product marketing manager, Chris Wolski, called up an Ottawa video production company we now affectionately call “The Rascals.”
We created a fun, 35-second explainer video that we thought would play well on Facebook and Instagram. The fact is that we generated a hundred thousand views before we could blink.
How? People were actually sharing the video with friends and family, even tagging others in the comments section. We noticed lively conversations taking place directly on the posts themselves, as if the videos weren’t advertisements at all. Here’s that video:
Facebook makes it easy to create remarketing programs by creating lists of users that engage with your video. We set up a list for anyone that watched more than 10 seconds of the video. This was a new cost-effective avenue for generating leads well within our target CPA. Video remarketing leads typically come in at about $30/trial, including the initial video buy.
More importantly, it expanded our reach on Facebook and Instagram exponentially. And we’ve seen traffic to our site go up as a direct result of these ads.
When we launched on video, we didn’t really know what to expect. Lots of views? Engagement? Shares?
As a metrics-obsessed company, we knew we needed to establish a KPI. After doing some research and chatting with peers and the account team at Facebook, we decided on Cost-Per-10-second view.
We chose this KPI to help us drive better video engagement and brand recognition. If someone was interested enough to pass over cat videos and baby pictures to watch 10 seconds of our B2B software video, then we were doing something right.
This KPI has fed directly into our production process, too. We’ve worked with The Rascals to ensure that each video includes text to account for the fact that Facebook’s default setting is to mute video. We’ve also added captions to the mix because videos on Facebook autoplay with the sound off; a whopping 85% of Facebook videos are played with no sound. We would have had disastrous results if we’d relied entirely on the audio within the video to tell our story.
The overall result has been slashing our Cost-Per-10-second view by 50%. This is huge because it means for the same dollar of spend, we’re effectively doubling our reach. And you can bet this metric is front and center on our internal social media dashboards.
I could rant for days about how much we learned from Facebook— they were truly fantastic, and the attention we received ensured we’d be successful. That said, there are no special or secret tricks. You can find everything through a Google search for “Facebook Ads Tips.”
Putting all those tips and best practices together into a single campaign, however, is where the real challenge lies.
Throughout the process we sought advice from those who’ve been there before us, who have been learning from others years before we even thought of going this route. It probably comes as no surprise that our team now pays close attention to what other advertisers do on Facebook. In particular, I think Shopify is a leader in this respect. They do a great job of integrating video.
We’ve also struck up a friendship with the team over at PageCloud , and have enjoyed freely sharing ideas. Many of those conversations have spawned new ad campaigns and experiments. Which leads me to …
We allocated a percentage of our budget towards experimentation. When we heard about a new product from Facebook called World-Wide Delivery (WWD) we sort of rolled our eyes and remembered what we had learned about geographic bidding from Lesson 3.
But our friend Mike Empey at Facebook persuaded us to give it a try. So we did. What did we have to lose?
The experiment was a huge success and with just a small percentage of our daily budget we were able to practically double lead volume. In fact, this contributed to us setting daily trial record numbers for 3 days in a row.
When the dust had settled, we analyzed the lead quality, made adjustments to our copy and landing pages, and added WWD campaigns to our arsenal of ads.
Asking someone to start a trial of your software is a lot like calling a friend and asking them to catch up with you over coffee in an hour. The message is out of the blue and entails a time commitment. No matter what their interest level is, they simply may not be able to do it right then.
As we stressed about hitting our trial CPA numbers, we started to lose sight of what we were really trying to do, which was raise awareness and leave our audience with positive first impressions.
In chasing those numbers, we ended up making a series of small decisions that led to us making a big mistake: we’d cut so much content from our landing page that it had basically become just an image with a signup form.
Sure, that page converted well. But it also pissed people off. Some people were getting so upset that they were commenting on the ads themselves.
At this point, we’d driven down CPAs to about $10 under our target CPA. Our hands were sore from the amount of high-fives we’d collected and shoulders we’d patted. But in that process we committed an egregious error: we forgot about the customer.
We were so caught up in the metrics that we forgot that leads are people.
So, we did the only reasonable thing. We added essential content back into our landing pages (including video content from Vidyard into every landing page), and worked on optimizing that content so the customer could wring as much value from it as possible.
Of course, CPAs rose. But our ad relevance and positive scores rose along with it.
That was the kind of customer-centric tradeoff we were willing to take.
Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: a version of this post first appeared on Inbound.org, HubSpot’s community for inbound marketers.