With the final episode of Jane Austen’s and learn how to generate more business using social media. aired, we’ve noticed that people are behaving a little bit more … courtly to each other. Here’s a handy guide to extending that exquisitely good behavior to the social media world. • Connections matter. An Accomplished Young Lady Image: PBS … What would Jane have had to say about engaging with your customers and promoting your business on social websites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn? Although social media is famous for having somewhat loose standards of formality, propriety does hold a central place in any society, like it or not. Every social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) lays claim to its own particular cultural rules and mores. Be sure that you understand the customs and expectations of each platform before you make a gaffe, lest you cause tongues to wag, or worse, offend Society. • Etiquette matters. • Conversation matters. The most prized currency in any refined society is the witty, charming conversation of its habitués. Your conversation may be clever and amusing, but do stop short of being overly self-promotional. It is a delicate balance, to be sure, but eminently achievable by the accomplished practitioner. How? Strive to focus on other people, be courteous, be helpful, be modest, be kind. Avoid gossip and vulgarity at all costs. Emma Share your passion, and those who share your passion too will find you and follow you. Speak from your heart, do not endeavor to deceive, and all shall be well. Beth Dunn No, you needn’t be the cousin of every A-list blogger or member of the Twitterati. Rather, you should strive to cultivate a true circle of friends who share your interests, whose trials and triumphs you can share, and with whose problems you can empathize. Try to make connections between people who should meet, but have not yet; be a matchmaker where one person’s needs and desires meet another person’s strengths and qualities. Create networks of friends who are sincerely glad to know each other, and give them frequent opportunities to connect and help each other. It is a truth universally acknowledged Social Media blogs about Jane Austen and other 19th-century-related obsessions at that social media is being used by more and more businesses to engage meaningfully with their customers and to drive more qualified traffic to their sites. • Love conquers all. Topics: . Download the free video Learn how to use social media to attract more customers. Originally published Feb 5, 2010 10:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Video: How to Use Social Media to Attract More Customers And while Jane Austen never blogged (she totally would have), or had a profile on Facebook, or posted status updates on Twitter, she certainly had a great quantity of wisdom to share about social behavior – what is correct, what is silly, and what is disastrous — that is as true today as it was when young Emma Woodhouse busied herself with meddling in the love lives of all her friends.
Originally published Jan 13, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Lead nurturing is a fundamental must-have for great inbound marketing. According to Gleanster Research , 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy . This means lead nurturing campaigns are necessary to help move these 50% of leads through the sales cycle to make them better ready to make a purchasing decision.That said, implementing an effective lead nurturing email campaign can be much harder than it sounds. There are several variables to consider when understanding just what makes the perfect lead nurturing campaign for your business and its prospects. To give you a leg up in knowing what lead nurturing practices to rule out right away before you waste time and effort creating an ineffective campaign, consider these 6 big lead nurturing no-no’s to avoid in your lead nurturing email campaigns . 1. Don’t Lump All Your Leads Together In One Campaign This is easily the most common mistake marketers new to lead nurturing make: they create one campaign of emails and send the same thing to every lead who fills out a form. It is an absolutely crucial (yet commonly missed) step to segment your campaigns based on lead intelligence . Make sure you always tailor your emails to match the interests of the individual lead. If all of your offers filter into the same nurturing campaign, it will be obvious by how generic the email is to your leads. Provide detailed information in your campaign that references and leverages the specific forms they’ve completed, their demographic information, and other behavioral triggers. Even something as simple as separate campaigns for each of the major topic areas covered by your offers is a huge step in making your leads feel like the emails they receive actually speak to their particular interests. In short, if your lead nurturing isn’t segmented by topic or other distinguishing elements like in the picture from HubSpot’s lead nurturing tool below, you are leaving money on the table. The best lead nurturing happens not when you just give your leads anything, but when you give them exactly what they want. 2. Don’t Email Leads Every Day Unless part of your marketing strategy explicitly calls for prospects to receive an email from you every day (e.g. ecommerce sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, or Woot), your leads will not be excited to hear from you every day after they first converted into a lead. Remember that a lead’s first conversion indicates a certain level of interest in your offer and products, but he/she won’t be ready to “marry” you just yet. If you go on a first date with someone and you call them right after the date ends and continue to leave them voicemails, it will likely be a big, red flag to them to ignore and avoid you. The same rule applies with lead nurturing: if leads are hearing from you too promptly and too often, it will definitely be a turn-off.Instead, set up a regular schedule for emails in your campaign, and space them out. Even leaving a one day break between emails will make your leads pay much more attention to each individual send. And be mindful that sending too much email overall will also dilute the value of each email. 3. Don’t Forget They’ve Received Your Other Emails The next no-no is another one I frequently run into in my inbox: a lead nurturing series that acts like every email is the first one I’ve ever received from the company. I sometimes wonder if each email was written by a different person in a different office, because there’s absolutely no coordination between them. If you sent someone an ebook two days ago and are sending them another email, don’t just throw another content offer or ebook at them and hope they’ll fill it out.Replace the endless email offers by asking them for feedback in your next email, or see if they had questions about the previous email’s content. Offer to connect them with a sales rep or someone to help answer their questions. At the very least, at least make mention of the content in your previous email and make a connection to the content you’re offering in the current email. There is a right way and a wrong way to reach out to people who are in your lead nurturing campaigns, and hitting them with a different offer every day praying for a reconversion will not be as strong as your other options. 4. Don’t Forget Your Blog Content If you’re just getting started and only have one or two content offers, it can be tough to know what to send your leads in your lead nurturing campaign. Instead, get clever by re-using your blog’s content . Share two or three of your best blog articles with them in your emails to help make the most of your offers. It’ll bring them back into your website and your indubitably awesome blog content. It’s just like sending them a content offer in that way: they will read and absorb your blog’s content and potentially share it socially. Those readers will also get re-exposed to any calls-to-action on your blog, offering opportunities for re-conversions. Ideally, your marketing software platform will also let you see that your lead is revisiting your site, allowing you take certain actions based on that revisit. Proofreading service ProofreadNOW does a great job of leveraging its blog content in lead nurturing campaigns, as you can see below: 5. Don’t Forget to Let Sales Know About Your Nurturing Campaigns The biggest mistake marketers can make with lead nurturing is to not communicating the deployment of their campaigns with the rest of their company. This is especially true if you have sales reps who may be talking to these leads at the same time your campaign is running or after nurturing emails have been sent. The salespeople on your team will want to know what content their leads received — and when — so they can have an informed conversation about the material and be tuned into what their lead already knows. Salespeople hate being surprised by these kinds of things (and rightfully so!), so make sure that your lead management and nurturing software integrates with the CRM that your sales team uses. That way, when an email is sent out to their leads, they’ll have a record of it and be able see what was sent out and when.If CRM integration isn’t an option or you don’t use a CRM, use other methods of communicating which leads have received emails through another method. For example, see if you can export a list of which leads are in a certain nurturing campaign or have received an email, and provide both the list of leads and a copy of the emails to your sales team so they can stay in the know. Nothing will waste the effort you’ve put into you nurturing campaigns faster than a sales team that isn’t aware you’re executing these campaigns in the first place. 6. Don’t Forget About Your Analytics The first time you create your lead nurturing campaign is like the first time you started learning how to ride a bike. By launching them, you’ll have come a long way, but you won’t be ready for the Tour de France yet. A few weeks into your campaigns, you should revisit the analytics for your emails and make sure they’re working the way you hoped they would. Look specifically at your click-through rates and unsubscribe rates. Open rate is a very unreliable metric these days, and it’s not very useful anyway: what are you going to do with the simple knowledge that someone just opened your messages? Instead, look for how many people clicked through from your emails to your landing pages or other content, which will indicate they’re engaging with your business and its content. If your click-through rate is below about 2%, look back at your emails, and try to determine why.Great lead nurturing emails should generate about 3 times the normal click-through rate of your normal email marketing messages. If your campaigns are performing at the same rate as your general emails, consider revising your campaign. If you notice a lot of leads are unsubscribing from your campaigns, especially early in the campaign, that’s also a sign your campaign could use improvement. If you find yourself in a position where you need to revise your campaign, first test different subject lines for the emails. Try changing the subject line to be a question for them (“Have you seen our new ebook yet?”), or test the other way around if you tried asking a question at first. Test various offers and content in your emails, test the timing and frequency of your sends . In all honesty, there’s no shortage of tests you can conduct to optimize and increase the performance of your email campaigns. Sometimes it can take two or three tries to find the right solution for you, so look at the messages that are performing well, and see if you can pick out the differences that matter. If you can execute on these five items, your lead nurturing will be in great shape. What other no-no’s have you learned to avoid when executing lead nurturing campaigns ? Tell us about them in the comments! Image Credit: Christopher Craig Topics: By Brian Whalley Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Lead Nurturing
Originally published Aug 9, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Topics: LinkedIn Advertising Yesterday, HubSpot teamed up with LinkedIn to host part 2 of a 3-part workshop series on how to master LinkedIn for marketing. The second webinar, hosted by Director of Online Marketing at LinkedIn Scott Engelman and HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe, went into detail on how companies can use LinkedIn ads to drive new leads and customers.We had an abundance of fantastic LinkedIn marketing questions come in through the #MasterLinkedIn hashtag on Twitter, the Inbound Marketers LinkedIn Group, and the webinar chat page. So many, in fact, that we could not possibly answer all of them in a single post-webinar Q&A session. That’s why we wanted to take the opportunity to answer the most frequently asked questions from the second workshop session below. Are you ready to become a LinkedIn Ad Master? Let’s get started!Answers to the Top 9 Questions About Using LinkedIn Ads to Drive Leads1) Do you have any tips or best practices for using images in LinkedIn ads?Use of images in LinkedIn Ads is key to capturing your audience’s attention, especially since social media has reached its most visual stage ever! Do you have that “positive disruption factor?” Pairing your killer copy with eye-catching, colorful images tends to work best, though this certainly varies by company. Your best bet is to run an A/B test with a couple different images, but the same text. If you’re generating more leads or have a higher click-through rate from one of your test images, you’ll know exactly which ad image performs best and you can deactivate the other. When you’re choosing an image, just make sure it’s relevant to the offer you’re advertising. 2) What’s the recommended duration for a LinkedIn ad?There is no set duration for a LinkedIn ad. Just as with your images, it’s best to test your ads with multiple variations to find your happy place. Run your LinkedIn ads until they start to become less successful, which may turn out to be longer than you think with your stellar copy and captivating visuals! Link your ad to a relevant and valuable offer and you’ll be rolling in the leads.3) Can I adjust targets once my LinkedIn ad campaign is live?Yes, you can and should optimize your campaign to improve your results! If you’re not seeing a great deal of engagement with your current ad, try narrowing your target and run it again. You can continue to hone in on your audience until you see the results you were hoping for. LinkedIn allows you to target by industry, job function, company, group, education, location, or age. That’s right, you can target the CEO of LinkedIn or HubSpot with a message targeted at people in CEO positions! If that’s not specific ad targeting, I don’t know what is.4) Do I need a membership or subscription to use LinkedIn ads?No, you don’t need a membership or subscription to use LinkedIn ads. All you need is your personal LinkedIn profile, and then you’ll pay for performance from there. Although, for optimal success with mastering LinkedIn for marketing, you might want to consider delving deeper into LinkedIn’s business features. If the goal of your ad is to build brand awareness, you should create a LinkedIn Company Page and drive your ad traffic to your page URL. If you’re looking to generate leads, having a Company Page is important for aligning and leveraging both organic and paid opportunities.5) Can I test and modify landing pages per campaign?Yes, you can choose different landing pages per campaign, and even per individual ad. However, you might want to try testing your landing pages per campaign first to help you figure out which ad is working best so you can make changes if needed to the copy or image. Then you can start testing a new variable, like different iterations of landing pages.And remember, the copy of your ad should accurately reflect the message on your landing page. Are you adding value or solving a problem? Is your ad/offer relevant? Does it positively disrupt the reader, bringing their attention to your ad? If not, make some changes and try your ad again! If you’re still not satisfied with your campaign performance after changing your ad copy and images, try modifying your landing page or advertising a different offer.6) What information should be included in the personalized landing page?The personalized landing page should have a brief overview of the offer and how to access it, a form to generate leads, social media sharing buttons, and product or service information. Before you even run your LinkedIn Ad campaign, make sure you’re optimizing your landing pages for success. It doesn’t matter how great your LinkedIn Ad is if your landing page isn’t captivating enough to convert leads. To learn more about landing page optimization, download our free ebook, Optimizing Landing Pages for Lead Generation & Conversion.7) What’s the ideal budget for a LinkedIn ad campaign?There is no single suggested amount for your budget; this number changes on a company-to-company basis.You don’t want to run your budget too high initially because you’ll want to know what truly works before spending all your dollars. You also want to be careful with budgeting too low, because if you spend your whole budget in 2 hours you’ll have no idea what the true result of your LinkedIn Ad is; the campaign wouldn’t have had enough time to run its course.Try starting out with a few hundred dollars and run really good tests. Have your landing pages optimized and ready to go, then hone in on your target. Once you know your audience, you should work on your image and ad copy. Of course, each of these components can be changed mid-campaign, and you’re always able to increase your budget or deactivate campaigns that aren’t working.8) What are CPC and CPM, and how do you determine which to use?CPC stands for Cost Per Click, which is where you’re charged up to your maximum bid every time your ad is clicked by a member of your target audience. CPM stand for Cost Per Mille (or rather, Cost Per Thousand Impression), which is where you’re charged up to your maximum bid every time your ad is shown 1,000 times on LinkedIn.CPC is best for generating leads and engagement on your landing page. If your goal is related to click-through, you’ll only spend your budget when someone physically clicks on your ad. CPM can be used for building brand awareness because thousands of LinkedIn members will see your ad and you can set your maximum budget as low or high as you want for the best results.9) How do I know the click-through rate (CTR) on LinkedIn ads?To learn more about the CTR of your LinkedIn Ads, take a look within the ads interface. You will see the exact number of impressions (number of times your ad showed up), clicks, and your click-through rate. These numbers will show you exactly which ads are doing well, and which you’ll need to pull.LinkedIn wants you to get the most exposure you possibly can with your ads, so in order to be successful you need to you optimize your ads for the best possible click-through rate. And the higher the CTR, the more likely LinkedIn is to show your ad — therefore you really, really, really want to optimize your ads for the highest CTR. If you have multiple ad variations within a campaign, the ad with the highest CTR can be shown more frequently, increasing the chances of someone clicking on your ad. Average CTRs vary by industry, but if your CTR seems low, don’t worry. LinkedIn provides opportunities for your ad to be shown millions of times, which ultimately leads to a smaller CTR. Have more questions about How to Master LinkedIn for Marketing? Join us for part 3 of our workshop series with LinkedIn to learn what content to publish on LinkedIn to drive engagement. The webinar starts on Thursday, September 27th at 2PM EST!Image credit: smi23le Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Twitter Updates Originally published Feb 24, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Topics: It’s no secret that inbound marketing is a fast paced and growing industry, much like the world of technology. Many companies are utilizing the evolution of social and marketing technologies to find new ways to deliver advertisments to their audience. Our social networks are learning more and more about us every day, and online services like Yelp and Google Maps have intergrated themselves into our daily routines.Marketers have taken notice, and realize that these leaps and bounds in technology make marketing much more effective, too. So this week’s round-up will give you some insight into what changes are going on with our social networks, and how new technologies are being used to deliver marketing to individuals in (hopefully) better, bigger, faster ways.Twitter Now Reducing Some Tweets to 117 Characters, From MashableIf a limit of 140 characters per tweet wasn’t difficult enough, some of us might have to get used to being even more succinct. As of Wednesday, Twitter has reduced the limit of characters to 118 for tweets sent with a URL and 117 for tweets sent with an https link. This is going to be an important change for marketers to take note of because it could affect any scheduled tweets you created prior to these new limits.To be a bit more technical, Twitter states that the reduction is due to a change in their t.co link wrapper and how its extends the maximum length of links by two characters. Not that the logistics behind this really matter much to marketers — it’s just important to know that you should jump back into your scheduled tweets to make sure they comply with these new limits. Read the original article at Mashable.59% of Top Brands are Active on Instagram & Those Photos Are Shared to Facebook 66% More Than Twitter, From Marketing LandWe all know why we love Instagram and Pinterest — no one can resist a pretty picture. Recently, however, these social networks have grown to be more than just digital catalogs and photo albums. In the past three months, top brand adoption of Pinterest has risen by 10%, and Instagram by 9%. This is a strong indication that marketers are utilizing the potential of Pinterest and Instagram to build social engagement and expand overall reach.The study focuses on the growth of Instagram and how their broken relationship with Twitter has impacted engagement. Since the break up, Instagram engagement on Twitter has dramatically plummeted and now, 98% of brands using Instagram share their images to Facebook. Read more at Marketing Land.ESPN is Now Targeting You Via Online Radio, From Ad WeekIt seems ESPN is looking to up their game in the world of digital advertisement through online radio. With over 3 million downloads of their mobile radio app, it makes sense that ESPN has been concocting ways to tap into this audience with some well targeted ads. This new cloud-based ad insertion program aims to target listeners by location, device, age, and gender in real time during live national broadcasts. The company responsible for this new age technology is the online radio provider known as Abacast.With this new ad serving technology, ESPN will be able to deliver different, targeted ads to individuals listening to the same broadcast during live ad breaks. “Before, it was one stream to thousands of people, and it didn’t make sense that we were targeting women with a lot of the ads that were running. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are going to get different ad breaks. You could be in the same car as your friend wearing different headsets, and you’ll still be served a different ad than that person,” said ESPN digital sudio senior manager Blair Cullen.For marketers, this is a technological change that could bring online radio into the age of inbound by providing a method of creating targeted and measureable marketing content for an industry known for being old school. Read the full article at Ad Week.Free Marketing Campaign Kit, From HubSpotWith all the changes in marketing and all the new tools at our finger tips, it’s important to be able to align your marketing efforts across all channels in your campaigns. Luckily, we’ve created a free marketing campaign kit to give you the tools and resources you need to launch and measure a remarkable marketing campaign. The campaign kit will dive into what marketing tools you should be using to plan your campaign, how to integrate these tools into your campaign strategy, and what resources are available to get your campaign started. Download the free marketing campaign kit.Contextual Content Engine Vurb Raises More Than $1.5M From Max Levchin and Others, From TechCrunchEven with social media and search engines, it’s still a chore trying to compile a bunch of information in one place. For instance, I’m sure many of us have wanted to make a reservation at a restaurant through OpenTable and also wished that it would suggest show times for new movies, buy the tickets, and send us directions without having to open the quadrillion tabs we normally would. Well, start-up Vurb is working on a contextual content engine that connects and compiles relevant information from services like LinkedIn, Yelp, Google Maps, Amazon, and many others in an attempt to unify our internet shenanigans.Vurb has recently raised over $1.5 million in funding from a number of investors, like Max Levchin. The overall goal of Vurb is to uncomplicate the way to use the internet and its thousands of services by creating a content engine that naturally compiles all the most relevant information we need. This illustrates to marketers how people are tired of searching for products and services they need, and more interested in having those things served up to them based on who they are and what the like. With search and recommendation engines on the rise, marketers should consider how their products and services are positioned and targeted to their audience. Read the full article at TechCrunch.LOL + WTF = $: An App That Shows Why Videos Go Viral, From Fast Company CreateEver wonder how you can make the next “Gangnam Style” or “Harlem Shake?” Well TubeRank may have found a way to help you figure out what you need to do to create the next viral video on YouTube. The app was recently launched by Rubber Republic, a London-based content creation studio responsible for a number of viral videos. TubeRank is a free app that combines meta data with YouTube video content to show you why a viral video was shared, who shared it, and how many times. The app can provide marketers with specific information about a particular community and how videos perform in these communities based on a share-to-view ratio. This information is revealed by breaking a viral video into a “viral formula” of key elements based on the success of that video. Read the full article at Fast Company. HubSpot’s Weekly Marketing Update Podcast With Mike VolpeInterested in hearing what the CMO of HubSpot has to say about the stories in this week’s round-up? Check out our Marketing Update podcast and get the latest inbound marketing advice, tips, and best practices from our CMO, Mike Volpe and his co-hosts. You can also subscribe to this weekly podcast through iTunes … to start your week off with a little dose of inbound marketing.What other important marketing stories should we know about? Share them in the comments!Image credit: CJ Isherwood
Image Credit: David Boyle Congratulations! You’ve landed an internship — one of the six things you must do to get your first job after college, says Forbes Magazine. You’re extremely excited, and your new employer has even promised that your job description doesn’t involve delivering coffee or working in the copy room.Now you’re faced with the real challenge: How will you leave your mark?Since I happen to be working at a company where there are plenty of interns, former interns, and people who know how to hire kick-ass interns, I traveled far-and-wide (around the office), curating some tried-and-true, pearls of internship wisdom. The end result is a compilation of pro tips from HubSpotters including Chief Technology Officer Dharmesh Shah, Chief Marketing Officer Mike Volpe, and the current intern class.Here’s their advice about how you can be the best intern … ever.1) Be a Go-GetterRose DeMaio, Product Engineering Intern:“Start working before you start working! Email your manager two weeks before your first day and ask if there is any reading, prep work, or research you should do. Reaching out before you actually start will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that you can hit the ground running. If you’re not asked to do anything, it’s still a good idea to freshen up on your company knowledge. Do they blog? Do they have a tool you could get a free trial of?” 4) But Know When to Say NoBrendan MacArthur, Product Marketing Intern:“Don’t be afraid to say no. Sometimes, you will be approached to contribute on a lot of projects, but you need to decide realistically if you will have the time to focus on them as well as what you need to get done. Be forthright with managers and co-workers about your workload, talk to them about what you’re working on, and create self-imposed deadlines to stay on track.” Brendan MacArthur5) Be a Team PlayerBen Ratner, Inbound Marketing Co-op:“Consider yourself an integral part of the team, and with everything you contribute, remember that your involvement is playing a critical role in helping the team as a whole achieve their objectives. Celebrate your team’s successes, but also allow your fair share of the blame if things don’t go as planned.” Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Audrey Alpizar, Development Intern:“Get to know your mentor, manager, and team members. Schedule one-on-one meetings, and invite them to have a meal with you. It’s important to build relationships with your co-workers to help understand how they work and form a better working environment. You can also gain valuable career advice as well as establish networks for future employment.” Audrey Alpizar7) And Always Remember the BasicsLynelle Schmidt, Inbound Marketing Co-op:“Go to lunch! Some of the other interns at my last job would eat lunch at their desk every day. Sometimes it’s necessary to eat a quick lunch, but for your sanity and well-being, make an effort to take a break and leave your post. It helps break up your day, bond with fellow co-workers, and allows you to refocus when you get back to your desk.” Lynelle SchmidtAbhinav Arora, Inbound Marketing MBA Intern:“Remember your work etiquette: don’t hit “reply-all” to a company-wide email if you’re responding to one person. That’s a sure-fire way to annoy people right off the bat. And definitely don’t ‘accidentally’ publish your funny cat video to your company’s YouTube account.” Michelle Tuzman, Finance Intern: “What goes around comes around. Know or seek out what needs to be done on your end to make your teammates’ jobs easier. There is a good chance that at this internship, or later in your career, they’ll give you support, too.” Michelle Tuzman6) Network Like It’s Your (Second) JobDharmesh Shah, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer:“Capitalize on the opportunity to meet as many new people as you can — classmates at school, co-workers at internships — particularly in other majors or departments. Pretend that every great person you meet will increase your net worth by $100,000. You will be surprised how many of these people you will someday work with, start a company with — or who will otherwise support you. In this day and age, your net worth is impacted significantly by your network. It’s not just the size, but also the quality of that network.” Originally published Jul 22, 2013 12:37:32 PM, updated July 28 2017 3) Push YourselfDan Murphy, Product Marketing Intern:“Don’t cite the job description as your limits — use that as a starting point. Contribute and participate beyond that. Your contribution can be using your intellect and creativity to make an existing project better, or compose something totally outside of your job description.” Ellie Mirman, Head of Inbound Marketing Funnel:“Don’t wait for someone to ask you to do something. Execute on the projects given to you, but don’t stop there. Identify problems in the business and find ways to solve them. This shows that you’re not just ready to jump in, but that you’re also hungry enough to go ahead and do it. It also shows that you’re smart — able to identify problems and solutions — and that you put your actions where your mouth is. Even in the most successful business, there are problems to be solved. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to employees and learn about their challenges and think about how you can make their lives easier.” Remember, future directors and CEOs of the world: Doing what is expected of you will get you a pat on the back and a decent recommendation. Being kick-ass, on the other hand, will get you a network of mentors and friends, a vast array of experience, a great leg-up on your future career path … and maybe even a job! If you have more questions and want to chat with a fellow intern, feel free to follow me on Twitter: 2) Prove Your SmartsSarah Goliger, Paid Marketing Strategist:“Ask good questions. People often say you should “ask a lot of questions,” but you don’t want to be that intern always asking a million annoying questions — you need to prove that you’re able to think and act independently. But asking good questions shows that you’re both pushing yourself to learn more and are capable of thinking about the company, your team, and its goals and challenges at a higher level.” Mike Volpe, Chief Marketing Officer:“Have that one project that you completely own as an intern. It can be big or small, but it should be fully yours and add value to your team. Do the work, and then get up in front of your manager and team members and present it. This is your chance to make your mark, especially if you’re only at the company for a short-term position like an internship.”
Design Templates Originally published Nov 25, 2013 11:04:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack If you’ve ever seen my “graphic design” work, you’d know why I’m putting it in quotes.Tis no bueno.But as a business blogger and an inbound marketer, I still have to do graphic-designey things sometimes — like create calls-to-action.Again, no bueno. Except for the fact that I work with a bunch of smart, creative people who are really good at making things easier for folks like me. So now, I’d like to round up all their knowledge and pass it on to you. Here’s the stuff that makes creating CTA buttons way easier. (For me, at least.)5 Resources That’ll Make Call-to-Action Creation Way Easier1) This software I’m using right now.I’m going to keep this short and sweet so you don’t think I’m sales-pitching you, but when I need a simple CTA, I use HubSpot’s tools. For instance, if you’ve ever seen the subscribe CTAs we use at the bottom of our blog posts, those are created using HubSpot’s CTA tools. It’s easier to just choose some basic design elements — color, shape, font — and get a button created in about 10 seconds flat.If I want something with more intricate design elements, I design outside of our software and bring it in later using that “Custom image” button. Here are the tools I use to do that.2) This post about PowerPoint design hacks.What does PowerPoint have to do with call-to-action button creation? Well, until about a month ago, I didn’t even have Photoshop on my computer, so most of my “design work” was done in PowerPoint. This post helped me understand the basics of using PowerPoint as a design tool — not just a presentation tool.So if you’re unsure of how PowerPoint could ever be used to create CTA buttons, check this piece out. If that’s old news to you, keep reading for more detailed stuff.(Make-Your-Life-Easier Tip: If you’re trying to keep your calls-to-action on-brand, but you’re not sure which colors to use, this “Quick Tip” post will teach you how to nail down your brand’s colors in PowerPoint.)3) This tutorial about creating call-to-action buttons in PowerPoint.If you’re like me, you “get” that PowerPoint can help you create marketing visuals, but you don’t feel like figuring out how to turn those random tools into an actual CTA button. Luckily, someone else figured it out for us.This post will walk you through, step-by-step, how to use tools in PowerPoint to actually get to a completed call-to-action button. This is perfect for the marketer who isn’t interested in fiddling around and just needs a button stat.4) These CTA templates for those who want to take the sexy up a notch.So you’ve got some calls-to-action that are somewhere between bare bones and sexy. How do you get it to the sexy end of the spectrum if you don’t have a designer, their software, or their skills?Templates, baby.Of all the things on this list, these templates are by far my favorite. They provide me with a wide array of design and style options and make it easy for me to see how I could customize them for my needs. In short, they help me be creative when I ain’t got no creativity left.To give you an idea of the array available, here’s a snapshot of a few of the templates. (There are 50 in total, all in PowerPoint.)5) This post about effective CTA copy.Of course, it’s not just about creating something that looks nice — our CTAs should have some killer copy to go with them, too. As a writer, I tend to focus on this more … because I’m better at it. Heh.Anyway, I found this post very helpful — a mix of research-based CTA copy advice and plain ol’ best practices. No matter how pretty your call-to-action button, confusing copy can ruin it. So don’t neglect the copy just because you’re having fun with design now ;-)I hope you’ve found these resources helpful. I seriously use them all the time when I have to create CTAs. And for the sake of clarity: These are resources for people who don’t have the resources to hire a designer — or learn how to be one.These are resources for agile marketers who have a backlogged designer and need a CTA in a snap or small business owners who can’t get a designer or agency on their payroll just yet. If you can get your CTAs created by someone fluent in the entire Adobe Creative suite and more, go for it! Topics:
Topics: Landing Pages Originally published Mar 28, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 28 2018 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack I remember when I found out the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. My whole world was shattered. Granted, I was about eight, but I was furious to find out that my parents had been putting a quarter under my pillow every time I’d lost a tooth, not a sweet fairy named Daphne who lived in a castle made out of my pearly whites.Luckily, believing in the Tooth Fairy is pretty harmless. Other myths, especially those that affect your business, are not.Download Now: 28 Free CTA TemplatesIn previous posts, we’ve debunked myths about marketing automation, social media, blogging, SEO, and A/B testing … but we’ve never touched on landing pages. So keep on reading so you don’t miss out on information that’ll help you convert visitors into leads and leads into customers. We’ll debunk the most common landing page lies and arm you with information to take your landing pages to the next level. Myth #1: You only need a few of them. Lots of people think that you don’t need many landing pages. Maybe you have a ‘Contact Us’ page and a demo page, and that’s pretty much it, right? Wrong. If you only have a few landing pages, you’re missing out on traffic, leads, and customers big time.Every new landing page you create is another opportunity for you to appear in search engines and get your link shared on social media — and better search engine rankings and social media posts mean that you’ll have more opportunity to drive traffic and conversions for your website.Need more convincing about the importance of having more landing pages? Check out this post.Myth #2: Short forms are better than long forms.No form length is the “best” — it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with the form. Are you trying to get a ton of new leads? Keep the form short. Are you trying to get really qualified leads? Make the form longer. One is not better than the other — they just address different goals. Your form length will most likely end up somewhere in the middle. To find your form length sweet spot, run A/B tests and adjust your form length according to their results. Myth #3: If I copy someone else’s landing page, my conversion rates will go up. Landing page examples and templates are great jumping off points for your own landing pages, but you shouldn’t expect to plug your content into someone else’s landing page and end up raking in the conversions. A landing page is successful because of interaction of many nuanced elements — the content on the page, the design of the page, and the audience viewing the page. If you’re going to copy a landing page layout, use best practices to tweak it to help your audience convert on your offer, then test it and test it to make it better. Myth #4: You need to have all conversion elements above the fold. Lots of people believe that all of the important content on your landing page should appear above the fold — supposedly, people won’t scroll to fill out the form or find out more crucial information about what lies behind the form.But the fold doesn’t really affect conversion — KISSmetrics found that when people are motivated to convert on a page, they do, regardless of where the form submit button is. According to that article, the biggest factor in increasing motivation is compelling copy, regardless of length. So forget optimizing only for the fold — through A/B testing, figure out how much information people need to convert.Myth #5: Trust seals always increase conversions.Think about the situations in which you often see trust seals. You’re usually giving over your credit card number or some other sensitive contact information, right? It makes sense to get a little visual reminder that your information is safe, because you really are giving over sensitive information.But what if you saw a trust seal on a page where you weren’t giving over sensitive information? It’d be out-of-place, making you wonder what the heck the company was really collecting from you, right? Trust elements can help tremendously on pages that need them — but they can also deter folks if they’re included on pages that don’t. Myth #6: If you change your form button from green to red, you’ll increase conversions. Full disclosure: we’ve run this test and found that a red call-to-action (CTA) outperformed a green CTA … but that doesn’t mean that red buttons are always better than green ones. That test worked for that page, with that page’s design, for that page’s audience. If you run the same test on your site, you might find that the opposite is true. This myth goes for any color test really — there is no one right color that’ll convert tons and tons more people. Test out colors yourself to see what works best.Myth #7: Landing page copy should always be short and sweet.Like color, there’s no right length of landing page copy. We kind of touched on this in Myth #4, but the copy length myth is perpetuated enough it deserved a section of its own.Landing page copy length is like what your teachers would say when you’d ask them how long an essay should be — however long it needs to be to cover the subject. In the case of landing pages, it should be however long you need it to be to have people convert on your landing page’s form. For complex offers that require people ponying up a lot of money or their sensitive information, more information could be better. For simple offers, like an ebook, you probably don’t need a ton of landing page copy.Like almost all of these myths, this one’s nuanced. Run tests on your landing pages to find out what copy length your visitors need. Myth #8: Conversion rate is the only metric to watch. Landing pages are a stepping stone in your marketing funnel. You’re not just trying to get people to fill out a form. You’d hope that eventually they’ll become a customer from you.So if you’re trying to get the most out of your landing pages, you shouldn’t just look at the percent of people who converted on that form — you want to look and see what happens after. What percentage of them become customers? By looking at your closed-loop analytics, you may find that a landing page that has a low initial conversion rate actually brings in customers like crazy, or vice versa … which is something your boss would care to know and fix. Myth #9: You should include as many things as possible on your landing page to get people to convert on something. Your landing page isn’t a last-ditch effort to capture someone’s information. It’s there to get people to convert on your form and move down your marketing funnel. You don’t want to give people too many options because they’ll get distracted and your conversion rate goes down. This means you should try removing your navigation and any extraneous forms. More is not better when it comes to landing page elements.Myth #10: You build ’em and leave ’em. You could probably guess this last myth from one piece of advice I’ve repeated over and over throughout this post: Test your landing pages. There are almost always ways you can tweak and improve them. If you build them and leave them alone, you’re losing out on valuable conversions. Landing pages support the backbone of your marketing funnel — so make sure you’re getting the most you can out of them by running A/B tests often. What other landing page myths have you heard? Debunk them in the comments with us.
Topics: Social Media Strategy Originally published Apr 27, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Well folks, the end of April is here. It’s crunch time. Your sales and marketing teams likely have their heads down and the pedal to the metal as they strive to make that last big push before wiping the slate and revamping for a new month.And if you’re not looking ahead, you’re falling behind. So to make sure you’re caught up on anything you might’ve missed this past month, take a look at some of the big updates and insights in Marketing.Major Players’ UpdatesTwitter’s New Profile Layout Is Here: What You Need to KnowEarlier this month, Twitter officially announced that a new profile design is coming to everyone’s favorite 140 character social media site. In the coming weeks, you should expect to log in to your Twitter account to find that your profile page has been replaced with the new design. This blog post outlines everything you need to know about the new layout so your profile will look top-notch when the time comes.Facebook Cracks Down on News Feed Spam From Brand PagesNo one likes receive spam through any medium. While you’ll likely never stop receiving spam in your physical or virtual mailbox, at least you won’t have to worry about it showing up in your News Feed anymore. This blog post identifies the things you should know about what Facebook is doing and how your own Business Page could be affected.Google’s Keyword Encryption Coming to PPC Data Near YouIn 2013, Google encrypted keyword data for organic search, but left AdWords keyword data untouched. Now, it seems that Google will soon start to encrypting AdWords keyword data for all third party platforms. Learn more about what this change means and how to set yourself up nicely for this update in this blog post.Social Marketing Tips50 Tweetable Twitter Tips You Wish You Knew Years AgoAre you looking to increase your Twitter following and engagement on Twitter? In this blog post, you will find a massive list of 50 Twitter tips that will make you a more effective Twitter user. 9 Ways to Use Twitter’s New Photo Collages in Your MarketingIn March, Twitter introduced a brand new photo sharing feature on Twitter which allows Twitter users to include up to four photos per single tweet. In this blog post, discover how you can take advantage of this new feature to turn fans and followers into customers. How to Optimize Your Emails for Gmail’s New Image-Heavy InboxGoogle has been experimenting with a brand new, Pinterest-like design for its Promotions tab. If you’re not prepared for this change, your emails could wind up to be horribly unappealing. Trust me, it happened to us when we got beta access to the new design. In this blog post, learn how to optimize the images that will be featured with your emails when they appear in the new Promotions tab.How to Tweet Around the Clock Without Being on Twitter 24/7If you’re serious about growing your Twitter presence, it’s imperative that you find a way to tweet multiple times a day, every day. Fortunately, there are a number of great online resources available to help you, so this won’t be as time consuming as it sounds. In this blog post, discover how to tweet 24/7 without focusing on Twitter 24/7.The Triggered Email You Need to Make Your Marketing Automation WorkTriggered emails are automated marketing messages based on a prospect’s behavior. They are extremely powerful as they are inherently relevant and timely. This blog post outlines a few recipes of triggered email automation to help you get started using triggered emails. Quick & FunNostalgia Ahead! What Your 20 Favorite Websites Used to Look Like It’s encouraging to see the humble beginnings of very successful websites. Every company starts somewhere, and you don’t always need to nail your logo, colors, or tagline on the first try. In this blog post, take a look at what some of your favorite websites looked at when they were first started.Which Mad Men Character Are You? [Quiz] The Final season of Mad Men is now in progress. Whether or not you still love the show as much as you did in its early seasons, you likely find yourself tuning in every week because you’ve become invested in the characters. Before you watch the rest of the season, try out the quiz featured in this blog post to find out which Mad Men character you really. 15 Genius April Fools’ Day Pranks From Conan, Netflix, Google & More It’s hard to believe that April Fools’ Day was only a few weeks ago. It feels like April 1st was ages ago. In this blog post, you’ll find a compilation of some of our favorite April Fools’ Day pranks from recent years. What was the most interesting thing you learned this month on Inbound Hub? What do you want to see more of? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Blogging for your business is an important part of establishing your company as an industry thought leader, bringing in new site traffic, and converting that traffic into leads and customers.And while posts about an esteemed latest hire or an exciting product update are important pieces to help your readers keep up with company culture, the most impactful posts will be about your industry as a whole. But for marketers to pull back, assess current industry events, and provide a unique, helpful, practical take, it requires a certain amount of content curation. That curation sometimes turns into content on its own, or it simply helps inform marketers so they can create content that’s up to date (cutting edge, even).With that goal in mind, here are several quick ways to curate content for your industry blog. Use it to inform your content, find good topics, and add examples to the posts you’re writing.1) Use Reader ServicesThere are a number of reader services that curate content for you by pulling in blog posts from all over the web. After a quick morning flip-through, it’s easy to understand industry trends with everything all in one place. Some of the two most popular are Feedly and Digg, though there are certainly other options, too. Here’s a how-to for adding content to those two platforms:Feedly:Search keyword, business, or industry and select “matching feeds.”Click “+Feedly” to add feed to your curated dashboard.Digg:Search URL to add content.Click “Add” to add feed to your curated dashboard.2) Follow Trade Show BlogsTrade show blogs are some of the best places to find content, because they give good signals as to what’s changing in your industry and what trends you should keep reading more about. Even though trade shows are historically an offline lead generation source, they are becoming increasingly more inbound by providing attendees with industry blog content year round. 3) Monitor Social News StreamsThe mighty hashtag was literally created to track trends, so it’s not surprise it’s an excellent source of curating content for your blog. Broad tags like “#tech” or “#consulting” will give you general news, but getting more detailed will give you more detailed information. This blog post, “How to Do Keyword Research,” will be helpful in understanding how to approach selecting the right Twitter hashtags from which to curate.You’ll also end up inherently identifying some excellent Twitter accounts to follow when you start doing this hashtag curation. Identify the experts that provide the best content on Twitter — these are often the people who are doing a lot of blogging themselves on the subject matters you care about. Create Twitter Lists of these folks, and also look into who they are following to find even more fantastic content. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you’ll find monitoring hot topics on social easier using Social Inbox. You can use it to create an in-platform news stream when certain keywords are mentioned to help you easily scan for the latest industry news.4) Set Up Google AlertsGoogle Alerts scour the web for new mentions of specified keywords, and sends you an email notification with a link to that mention. So if you’re looking for updates on, say, inbound marketing — you can get pinged every time new content on the subject is published.Here’s an example of how to set up an alert for “inbound marketing” in Google Alerts:You can always click “manage alerts” to edit or delete an alert, too:5) Follow Folks on LinkedInYour LinkedIn feed is probably hopping with industry news, and it’s a fantastic platform to tap into to stay in the know. You can not only read what individuals are posting, but check out Group and Companies, as well — two treasure troves of industry information.To start receiving updates on the regular, make your life easier and follow a Company Page.If the content you’re interested in is largely in the many Groups on LinkedIn, select to be notified when there’s Group activity so you can check in. 6) Check Out Forums — May I Suggest Quora?Forums take more effort to dig through, but can be a great source of undiscovered industry content. This medium can be a place where customers come to praise or scold industry providers (yikes), or where industry providers get feedback on ideas. What’s great about forums is that it helps you keep your pulse on what people are talking about — so you know what you should be writing about.You can search for industry-specific forums, but I’d check out Quora for starts. It’s an already-active platform, so there’s plenty of existing content to comb through.7) Read and Subscribe to Other People’s BlogsYour industry includes more than just direct or indirect competitors — though you should be reading those blogs, too. In every single industry, there are complementary tools, software, hardware, or infrastructure.Think about what your company does, and what products or services a buyer would likely purchase in addition to yours. Let’s use HubSpot as an example, since we talked about Social Inbox earlier in the post. We provide software that (among other things) helps marketers get better at social media marketing. So it’s important that we read blogs from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to stay up to date on what’s going on with those platforms. We also read blogs from agencies, because many of our customers use agencies to help them with certain aspects of their business. Finding the blogs of these companies helps us identify the content we should write about, and stay in tune with our customers’ needs.What shortcuts have you set up for yourself to make curation of industry content easier? Share your tips with us in the comments! Topics: Blogging Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published May 13, 2014 1:06:17 PM, updated February 01 2017
According to Gartner, the market for SaaS (Software as a Service) applications will grow from $20 billion in 2013 to $33 billion in 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 19.5%. A Compass study shows that SaaS is growing nearly 3X as fast as software as a whole, and that 72% of all SaaS startups are at least partially funded.Good news for SaaS startups and growing SaaS ventures alike, but the space is getting crowded and competition is fierce. What can founders and executives do to improve the odds that their companies will get to the top of the market and stay there?The SaaS ChallengeFor most SaaS CEOs, the problem isn’t opportunity; it’s time. From startup to break-even, your company is under the gun to grow monthly recurring revenues fast enough to offset (and pay back) customer acquisition costs and churn before the funding well runs dry. David Skok calls this deficit the “cash flow gap.”The success or failure of early stage SaaS companies depends on their ability to:￼Acquire new customers quickly and cost effectivelyRetain customers over the long haulUpsell customers to increase LTV over timeWhat Can You Do to Build Your Customer Base Quickly?Let’s start with your product. Successful SaaS companies like Salesforce or Shopify don’t just invent something unique or cool.They build products that their customers love. They do that by getting to know their customers before trying to sell to them. They also solve BIG problems that their customers have. In the case of Salesforce, they made it much easier to manage Sales by inventing the first cloud-based CRM. Shopify did the same thing with e-commerce, creating an affordable platform for small businesses selling online. Others, like HubSpot, wanted to revolutionize marketing through attraction rather than interruption, so they invented inbound marketing. Now, let’s get to the heart of the SaaS challenge. Assuming you have developed a great product that your customers will love, you have to get to market fast, generate revenues quickly and get to break-even before your seed capital runs out and you go belly up. Successful SaaS companies use a blend of inbound marketing, influencer marketing and “growth hacking”, in which they leverage developer and user communities to test the product, help design it and promote it through their networks. What’s in it for them? In many cases, these brand advocates are rewarded directly with sales commissions or become resellers or channel partners, and they can build their businesses based on those relationships. Shopify, for example, created both a Shopify Expert marketplace for promoting freelancers and a Partner program for agencies.What About CAC and LTV?Next on the challenge list is customer acquisition cost (CAC). If you burn through your seed capital with lots of expensive ads and hire a bunch of sales reps to make cold calls, you will find it hard to survive for long. What do successful SaaS companies do? They leverage inbound marketing to find qualified leads, then hook them up with helpful inside sales reps who act more like consultants. Close rates go up and cost-per-lead goes down. Last but not least, customer lifetime value (LTV). The name of the game in SaaS is monthly recurring revenues over (hopefully) a long period of time. This is how you overcome CAC costs and start driving profitability. There are two aspects to maximizing LTV, minimizing churn and upselling.Successful SaaS companies build educational resources that help users learn best practices, stay current with new features and get the most out of their software investment. HubSpot, for example, created HubSpot Academy with a certification program that helps keep users on top of their game while earning street cred (and resume enhancement) by becoming acknowledged experts. Successful companies also sponsor local user groups to discuss issues and best practices. All of this, plus customer support and services from both internal staff and Partner networks, keeps users happy and retained. As the love spreads within a customer account, more licenses are sold and new features, such as the new CRM, are added to further increase LTV. Everybody wins.The Secret Sauce of Successful SaaS Companies It’s pretty simple really. Successful Saas companies do marketing right. They are crushing it because they believe in what they are doing, they hire great people and they continue to make the investments in customer happiness that drive both revenues and profitability. The challenge for most entrepreneurs and early-stage SaaS companies is understanding how to get started with inbound marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing, social media marketing and levels of customer service required to attract and support users and turn them into brand advocates. How much does it cost and when does each component come into play?We’ve just released our SaaS Marketing for CEOs eBook to help you reach your growth goals by learning from the best of the best and practicing what they preach. We tell the story of Shopify, because they were doing inbound before it was cool. We dive into the details of how Shopify started and continues to dominate their market by forging relationships with small businesses through blogging and channel partnerships. We hope you enjoy the eBook, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with you as you build your SaaS company. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Marketing Strategy Originally published Dec 11, 2014 1:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017
Originally published Mar 5, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: No matter what your ecommerce strategy involves, gaining consumer confidence is crucial to achieving success in 2015. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts: consumer confidence can only be earned through hard work, but it’s a whole heck of a lot easier when you use these three easy steps as your guide.HonestyThe first step to gaining consumer confidence is by accurately representing your products. Yes, part of your job is to make your brands’ products look good, but there’s a world of difference between a beautiful presentation and a misrepresentation. Providing shoppers with accurate and detailed product information is the best way to give consumers a representation of what will arrive on their doorstep when they click “buy” – and you want their expectations to be well met.The most successful brands don’t pursue one-time shoppers; they acquire loyal repeat-shoppers, otherwise known as the 8% of consumers who make 41% of online purchases. The best way to gauge your accuracy and honesty is through your customers’ reviews. If a product is receiving consistently poor reviews, there’s a disconnect between consumers’ expectations and the physical product. No product is going to please everyone, but consistently bad reviews (as opposed to a small percentage) indicate one of the following: either your product isn’t being presented accurately or the price per value isn’t a good fit for your target demographic. In either case, this feedback from consumers is crucial.Even if a product doesn’t live up to consumer expectations, there’s still an opportunity to establish trust through excellent customer service. Facilitate free returns for unsatisfied shoppers so they don’t feel duped. Publically responding to negative reviews is another good tactic: it requires only a small investment of time, but it will have a huge impact on unhappy shoppers and other potential consumers perusing product reviews. ConsistencyOnce you’ve set the precedence of honesty with your customer, it’s crucial that you provide consistency. One great shopping experience can be obliterated by a negative one. It’s important to make sure you’re consistent in the following areas.Product InformationThere’s nothing more frustrating than inconsistent product information. It doesn’t matter if you’re a huge omnichannel retailer with multiple brick and mortar locations or an independent brand that’s sold through different online retail channels: all of your product information needs to remain consistent. It doesn’t take much to trip up a sale – it could be something as seemingly inconsequential as one retailer calling a bag “powder blue” while another names the same bag “sky blue” – anything that could potentially confuse your customers is a big no-no.BrandingIt doesn’t matter how hilarious or clever product copy is, if it’s not consistent with your branding for your company, it’s not going to have a positive impact. That’s not to say you shouldn’t imbue your brand with personality, but it’s crucial that your brand connects with your target audience. In other words, a joke that’s hilarious to a 19 to 35-year-old demographic probably won’t resonate with the 40 to 65-year-old demographic, and vice versa. Make sure that once you’ve picked your brand voice, you stick with it – it doesn’t mean you can’t evolve and expand to a new audience, but it has to feel organic. Ultimately, it’s more important to stay true to your core customer base than risk alienating them to attract a new one.Customer ServiceRetail battles are won and lost in the customer service department, and a big part of that is providing shoppers with whatever they need to be happy. Go above and beyond to consistently surprise and delight customers with your ability to handle their problems by doing things like offering online shoppers free return shipping so they feel comfortable purchasing new products. TrustTrust is the glue on a successful long-term relationship, whether it’s between romantic partners or a retailer and their customers, and it also happens to be the natural result of honesty and consistency. Earning a consumer’s trust is the first step to creating a brand evangelist that will share their positive experiences with their friends and family. According to a recent study by Forbes, 81% of respondents indicated that their friends and family directly influence their purchase decisions. That’s an amazing asset to retailers who are able to win consumers’ trust.The TakeawaysConsumer confidence is crucial to long-term growth and shortcuts aren’t an option. However, those retailers and brands that pursue honesty, accuracy, and consistency will see extraordinary long term results. Ecommerce Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Topics: Originally published Dec 17, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Writing Skills When I first started editing pieces for HubSpot’s Marketing blog, I was really, really scared. I had spent the previous months as a full-time writer, soaking up as much feedback as I could to write the best pieces possible. Then, the tables were turned. Suddenly, I had to be the expert on what we should be publishing, how to fix incoming pieces, and how to give feedback to people who had decades more experience than I in marketing. I was terrified. Two years later, I realize that I was right to be scared. Editing is one of the hardest parts of creating quality content and scaling that across your organization. You’re in charge of establishing and maintaining The Quality Bar — an oft-lauded but squishy, intangible concept that no one can actually define for you. And you better do that while growing your audience, training new writers to meet The Quality Bar, and getting buy-in for your content across your organization. The good news is your fear goes away after a while. After editing hundreds of pieces, training two full-time writers, and making plenty of mistakes, I’ve uncovered a few tips that I’d recommend to any editor looking to up their game. And I want to share some of these hard-learned lessons with you, too. How to Be a Better Editor: 11 Tips From the Trenches1) Question every fact, stat, name, and example.As The Defender of The Quality Bar, your job is to be the ultimate devil’s advocate. You need to wonder whether Oscar Wilde really said that quote … or it’s just another platitude someone stamped his name on. You need to see whether that stat you’re using to back up the crux of your piece really means what the writer said it means … or whether the original study said something different entirely. You need to second-guess whether your main source’s name is spelled properly … or you need an extra ‘n’ at the end. The only way you’re going to uncover these mistakes is to question everything. So make it a habit.2) Zoom in and zoom out to uncover adjacent ideas. Even the best editors get stuck when thinking of new ideas. You block off time to fill out your editorial calendar for the next month, and then … nothing. I’ve picked up a really handy trick that’ll help unlock lots of new ideas — I call it The Zoom In, Zoom Out Method. Here’s how it works: Think of one idea. Yes, just one. It doesn’t have to be good — it just has to be something concrete. I’ll use this as my idea for this example: “10 Tips for Writing Blog Posts Faster.”Then, zoom in on your idea. Are there sub-sections of your idea that you could turn into a whole post? Can you narrow your topic to make it more appealing to certain audiences? If I want to zoom in on “10 Tips for Writing Blog Posts Faster,” I can uncover lots of other topics, such as “10 Tips for Writing Titles Faster” or “10 Tips for Writing List Posts Faster.” In each of those titles, I’m just taking my first topic … and making my world a little smaller. Then you go the opposite way — zoom out from your topic. In this step, you’re increasing the scope of your post and focusing less on the very small details. For example, when I zoom out on “10 Tips for Writing Blog Posts Faster,” I could uncover “10 Tips for Writing and Designing Content Faster,” or “The Science of Being More Efficient.” Both of these latter titles are related to the initial idea, but they’re broader in scope. You can continue this process over and over and over until you build out a huge backlog of ideas. So next time you think you can’t think of any new ideas, think again. Little tweaks can uncover a plethora of successful ideas. 3) Recognize your own boredom. This advice is something I recently learned from an episode of the podcast Startup — but it’s probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past two years. In this episode, Alex Blumberg shares their entire process for creating some of the most compelling podcasts on the market today. His biggest tip when working with producers to edit episodes? Recognize when you’re getting bored — it’s your brain telling you that some serious editing needs to happen.So when you’re assessing a piece, keep part of your mind on the task at hand and part of your mind on your own emotions. If you find yourself pulling up your Facebook feed for the tenth time to escape from reading the piece, stop.Look inward. Why are you bored? Is it the topic? Is it the way the argument is presented? Is it the way the piece is designed?Then, think about ways to solve those problems. Add formatting? Rewrite the intro? Design a supporting visual? Rework the thesis? Abandon the piece altogether? Being more attuned to your emotions — especially once you’ve had a few months of editing under your belt — will help you better assess pieces and give feedback. 4) If you’re not sure what’s wrong with a piece, zoom into the details, and then zoom out to uncover larger themes.I know what you’re thinking. What if you’re bored and you can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with the piece? I’ve got a solution for you, my friends. When this happens to me, I like to dive into the details of the feedback. I’ll write up an email with suggestions like, “In this paragraph, add a sentence about XYZ to strengthen your point,” or “Can you add an image here?” But before I hit send, I take a second to zoom out of my feedback: Can I pull out any patterns within the specifics to speak to higher-level problems? This reflection process allows me to get to the crux of the piece’s problem, even when there are lots of competing issues. 5) Know when your feedback should be super detailed — and when it shouldn’t. It can be tempting to send writers feedback that includes line-by-line changes. In fact, it’s absolutely needed when a writer is brand new to your team and is learning the ropes about your brand’s voice, style, and Quality Bar. But once they’ve progressed beyond the point where you need to tell them that yes, your style guide dictates “real-time” when used as an adjective and “real time” when it’s a noun, you need to change strategies. You want the writer to be able to uncover weak parts of their pieces without you having to spoon-feed them every time. In that stage, your feedback should become less detailed. It should still be specific — i.e. “You tend to use passive voice,” not “Your writing sounds weak.” — but you shouldn’t be pointing out line-by-line changes. When you’re too specific with your feedback after your writers have achieved a certain level of expertise, they’ll be psyched that you spent time pointing out mistakes … but may not generalize those mistakes to other situations. So don’t shy away from detailed feedback, but realize that specific, less-detailed feedback can also be useful when training writers. 6) Decide which mistakes are non-negotiable — and never make them. When you’re the one upholding The Quality Bar, it can be easy to obsess over every. single. detail. to make sure you’re not making any mistakes. The truth is, that obsession can be unhealthy. It can make you reread a post over and over and over, hoping and praying you haven’t missed anything. It can wake you up at 5:45 in the morning wondering if you actually misspelled the title of your morning’s blog post. It can paralyze you, make you afraid to hit publish.And even when you’ve done everything you can possibly do, you’ll still have a commenter point out that you misspelled something in your introduction. Your goal shouldn’t be to avoid making any mistake ever — it should be to never make mistakes that matter. So that its/it’s mix-up in your sixth section? That’s an easily fixable mistake that doesn’t really have an impact on your overall piece’s success. The typo in your title, however? That’s a non-negotiable mistake. Figure out what mistakes you absolutely can’t make, and make sure every piece you edit and approve doesn’t make any of them. This will save you from many sleepless nights while also preserving your Quality Bar. 7) Keep a list of mistakes you make, and then “Find and Replace” them before publishing a piece.Confession: One of my recent pet peeves when editing is using plural pronouns when referencing groups or companies … but it’s also one of the things I’m most guilty of when writing. Knowing that, I make sure to do a “Find and Replace” before I publish a piece to make sure I have all of my pronouns straight. Identify what writing and editing weaknesses you have, and then search for them in each post before you schedule it. It’s as simple as hitting Control + F on a PC or Command + F on a Mac, typing in your problem word or phrase, letting your browser take you to the word or phrase in your piece, and then swapping it out with the right thing. This simple tip will help you polish pieces in just a few minutes. 8) “Find and Replace” HTML snippets to quickly clean up a post’s formatting. This same tip works when you’re trying to clean up a post’s formatting. Instead of opening up your source code and manually stripping out problem areas, you can simply Find the problem code and leave the Replace box blank. Once you hit “All,” the problem code snippets will disappear completely. You can use this trick to swap out tags, too. This tip really is about using technology to find shortcuts to time-consuming problems. It’ll free up your time to focus on more important matters. 9) Lean on Google and Word to prevent spelling and grammatical errors. Even if you’re the most knowledgeable editor, it can be easy to forget if you need a comma in that sentence or if that word should be capitalized or not. When in doubt, don’t brush past your concerns — Google them. You will find an answer from folks who are way more experienced with writing and editing than you are (and learn more in the process). I also recommend using Word to help you do a final spell and grammar check. While Word won’t catch all of your mistakes, it can help you catch any last glaring errors. So before you schedule a post, make sure to copy all of your text and paste it in a Word document. And give the document a few extra seconds to process your piece once you’ve pasted it in there — Word takes a little longer to “read” your piece and uncover any mistakes. You’ll know it’s done when you see a little red X at the bottom of your document window:10) Realize each piece shouldn’t sound like you wrote it. There is such a thing as overediting. If every piece you edit ends up sounding like you wrote it, you’ve overedited it. Your job, as an editor, is to preserve the voice of your writer while making sure they are meeting your Quality Bar. So if they crack a joke that’s not funny, you have a right to take it out. But if the joke is cute and you’re just reworking it to sound like something you’d say, you’re taking it too far. After you edit each section of a piece, make sure you look back and ask yourself the toughest questions of all: Did I really make that section better? Am I just saying what they said, but in my own voice? If so, you should go back and work their voice back in. Re-integrate some phrases they use. Keep that pun. Let one of their interesting word choices stand. 11) Make peace with not knowing everything. Editing is filled with gray areas — gray areas you are not always going to know how to deal with.Is that title really that much better than this title? Is that metaphor really the best way to explain a complex issue? Is this section really going to offend someone?Even though you are The Defender of The Quality Bar, you don’t, can’t, and won’t know everything. Question everything — including yourself — and ask people for help when you need it.Challenging your own knowledge and assumptions doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job. It just means you’re experienced enough to know you don’t know everything.And when you get to this point, I promise you one thing: You won’t be scared of editing anymore. What are your favorite editing tips? Share them in the comments section below. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Topics: Originally published Jan 21, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Education Marketing As education marketers, you’re more than a collateral factory for the Admissions department. But do they know that?Sometimes it seems a great divide separates Marketing and Admissions. Many schools experience this interdepartmental tension, which slows down the recruitment process. Admissions complains about lead quality. While Admissions’ inconsistent follow-up on leads frustrates Marketing. This makes handing off leads a chore instead of a routine process.Yet when Marketing and Admissions work as partners, they share greater visibility. They see how all their combined activities interrelate and support their institution’s enrollment goals. When that happens, both student enrollment and mutual professional respect increase. Imagine what it would be like if both departments worked together as a team. Together you’re stronger — navigating the delicate and complicated journey from recruitment to enrollment. To help you create that partnership with Admissions, here are our three best tips:1) Create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to Establish an Enrollment PartnershipA smooth hand-off process starts long before getting any leads. Start by creating an SLA with Admissions. SLAs, common in service organizations, ensures your school meets its obligations to its prospective students. At HubSpot, we encourage our clients to create SLAs between Marketing and Sales. It spells out each department’s roles and obligations in their lead generation and conversion process. The same idea applies to finding prospective students and converting them into enrolled students.An effective SLA also defines goals and success metrics that Marketing and Admissions must meet. Crafting the SLA together takes agreement on critical terms, especially what makes up an “Admissions Qualified Lead (AQL).” These are the criteria that define when a lead is ready to hand-off. When you agree, complaints of bad leads go away. Consider some of these criteria to include:What demographic, expressed interests, and behavior triggers qualify a lead?Does it take a volume of actions, say downloading many pieces of content?Are there any “rocket to the top” actions that trigger an AQL, say scheduling a campus tour?Clarifying any criteria that will send an AQL back to Marketing. For instance, a lead met the formal AQL triggering criteria. But Admissions can see this lead isn’t quite ready to speak with them. It takes patience and observation to help Admissions define what they see. Only then can you translate those criteria into an SLA. Defining what actions and results are expected of each person in the process.Drawing a direct connection between Marketing’s lead generation goals and Admissions’ enrollment goals.Enjoying the teamwork inspired by having shared goalsThe first metric, often set by a group of stakeholders, is your enrollment goal. The rest of your goals fall into place from there. For example, you have an idea of how many students you need to accept to reach your enrollment number. Based on that, calculate how many leads you need in your contact database. Finally, how many prospects at open houses and visiting your website will you need to get enough leads? When you both agree on these numbers, you’re working as partners, instead of adversaries.Working together also means clear and regular communications on both sides. Check-in meetings help make that easy (more in tip #3). The SLA may include a Marketing goal of attracting a specified number of people to open houses. Of those prospects, a certain number should become leads, and admissions then commits to touching each AQL a certain number of times. For example: Admissions sends X emails and makes Y phone calls over a certain period of time.Below you’ll find in-depth guidance on what metrics to include in your SLA and how to calculate them. The template uses sales terminology. You’ll want to change it to fit the metrics and terms your school uses.Speaking of templates….2) Use a Consistent Strategy and Templates to Streamline the Lead Hand-off ProcessDon’t fumble here. The goals and action steps on each side of the house are clear in the SLA. The hand-off process must run smoothly so it doesn’t become the weak link.Outline this process with Admissions, step-by-step:What triggering criteria turn a lead an AQL? This is part of your SLA.How does Marketing notify Admissions of new AQLs? Ditto for Admissions sending leads back to Marketing? Is it a spreadsheet report? An email? Is the information automatically synced between databases, or manually sent?What information is included in the report about the AQL? Besides contact information, what about content consumed, program web pages they’ve visited. Have they looked at financial aid information, or not? Should the “Return to Marketing” report include the reason why, how many times admissions made contact, etc.?How often is a hand-off report sent? Is it a weekly or daily spreadsheet listing all AQLs? Or are emails about a specific prospect sent immediately once a prospect becomes an AQL?Who gets these reports? Who allocates responsibility for specific AQLs to the person in Admissions accountable for follow-up?Besides documenting the hand-off process, create templates to track and communicate necessary information. If you both agree to hand-off individual AQLs via email – develop a formal email template. Same for emails that Admissions should use when they return a lead to you. Using marketing automation simplifies this with workflows. A workflow’s rules can automatically:Extract the correct informationPlace it in the appropriate emailSend it to the right personAt whatever frequency you define 3) Have an Ongoing and Open Feedback Loop to Foster Communication and SuccessAn SLA only works when there’s mutual monitoring and accountability. Hold regular SLA meetings to review where everyone’s metrics stand against the goals.At the meeting, discuss why you’re ahead, or behind, on your numbers. It’s also a good time to clear up any blips before they become full-blown issues. If Admissions thinks too many prospects on the last report weren’t qualified — resolve the problem. Are the workflow rules parsing the data correctly? Do the AQL criteria need tweaking?Use it to address higher-level issues, such as:Why has there been poor attendance at open houses?Website traffic to the admissions page has dropped, what’s going on?Has traffic to Admissions’ page gone down?Have downloads of the “Admission Checklist and Deadlines” content jumped?Dissect the reasons and build on the strengths you identify for future successes.Decide how often to meet. A monthly meeting could focus on higher-level, more strategic topics. Use weekly meetings for tactical issues. Whatever the schedule is, make sure both departments treat it as a priority.ConclusionYou’re both responsible for meeting your school’s enrollment goals. Work together to set underlying goals, clarify mutual responsibilities and tasks, and establish a clear hand-off process.This will help you connect the work of both departments, improving both efficiency and effectiveness. It leverages your combined resources in the smartest way possible, while also showcasing the value Marketing brings to the process. Most important, it ensures you’re seen as an indispensable, valued partner in the enrollment process. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Topics: Landing Page Copy Most conversion rate optimization experts you’ll meet would agree: Copywriting first. Design second.The idea is that copy (and the message you’re trying to convey through that copy) should dictate design – not the other way around. Now, this is in no way meant to underestimate the importance of design. Design can breathe life into the story the copy is telling, and done properly, great copy plus great design will always outperform great copy alone.The point is, it’s not hard to find examples of “ugly” pages outperforming beautifully designed pages – and in those cases, it usually boils down to the copy.Copy first. Design second.We’ve been chatting about this a lot lately on HubSpot’s marketing optimization team. In the past, our marketing team has typically followed a design first, copy second order of operations when designing web pages. And it’s hard to blame us. We try to move fast and ship projects quickly, and the design before copy approach is definitely the quicker of the two, since copy can be written in tandem with the development of the design.But when copywriting comes first, design can’t even begin until copy is complete. And because development can’t happen until design is done, this definitely extends the timeline of project execution. The problem is, this means you’re crafting copy under the limitations of a fully baked design, handicapping your ability to tell the story in the best way possible. Now I’ll admit: All this “copy before design” business always sounded great to me in theory, but conversion rate optimization experts also warn against the dangers of “best practices,” so it was really enlightening to find an example of this theory proven out on one of our very own web pages. The ExperimentIn addition to our main free trial landing page, we also have a bunch of targeted, tool-specific free trial landing pages that the marketing team uses for more segmented campaigns. Below you’ll find an example of one (image B), which is targeted to specifically promote HubSpot’s Blogging tool. And here are the two compared to each other …A. Main Free Trial Landing Page (Above the Fold)B. Tool-Specific Free Trial Landing Page (Above the Fold)As you can see, these tool-specific landing pages were built using an older template, and when we redesigned our main free trial landing page to look the way it currently does, its tool-specific counterparts remained in the former design. Seeing this as low-hanging fruit from a conversion perspective, I converted three of our most trafficked tool-specific free trial landing pages into the newer template. To be sure the newer design was still in fact the better converting design, I A/B tested each page against its pre-existing design. The Initial Results When I first analyzed the results of these three tests, the variation (i.e., the design using the newer template) only won for two of the three pages. Naturally, I tried to understand why. When I took a closer look at the third one (the free trial landing page for our Keywords tool), I noticed a difference. Can you spot it?Older Template (Control)Newer Template (Variant)Okay … obviously there are a few differences here, considering the design is completely different. But the one that stuck out to me immediately was that the positioning of the header/subheader copy in the control was very different than that of the variant. Control Header + Subheader Copy:Find Out Which Keywords You (And Your Competitors) Rank ForInstantly access SEO data with HubSpot’s Keywords tool by starting a 30-day free trial.Variant Header + Subheader Copy:Try HubSpot’s Keywords Tool Free for 30 DaysGet found in search for the keywords that matter.The positioning in the control was primarily focused on the value of the Keywords tool, specifically emphasizing the competitive intelligence the tool provides, whereas the positioning in the variant was focused on clarifying what the offer was itself (i.e., a free, 30-day trial). And while I had made sure the variant still mentioned the competitive intelligence value of the Keywords tool, I had buried it lower down on the page … below the fold. Isolating VariablesThe problem with this test was that I wasn’t isolating the variable I was trying to prove. In this case, I wanted to prove that the new design for the page performed better than the existing design, yet I was manipulating more than one variable: design and copy. So after I had my “duh” moment, I decided to tweak the positioning in the header copy of the variant to match the control, and let the test run for a few more weeks. This way I’d be doing a better job of isolating design as the variable I was testing.Here’s what the header and subheader copy in the control and variant looked like after I tweaked the variant. Note that I made no changes to the copy in the control …Control Header + Subheader Copy:Find Out Which Keywords You (And Your Competitors) Rank ForInstantly access SEO data with HubSpot’s Keywords tool by starting a 30-day free trial.Variant Header + Subheader Copy:Find Out Which Keywords You & Your Competitors Rank ForGet SEO data instantly with a free trial of HubSpot’s Keywords tool.And here’s how it looked in each template variation … Older TemplateNewer TemplateFinal Results A few weeks after making those tweaks, I re-evaluated my test. Bingo! The variant was the new winner with 99.07% confidence and a 20% increase in conversion over the control.Aside from the fact that this was (ultimately) a successful test, what I love is that it proves how influential copy can be. The only reason the control originally outperformed the variation was because people preferred the copy in the control — even though the design of the variant ultimately performed better. So there you have it: Don’t underestimate copywriting in favor of design. In fact, copywriting can be even more influential than design when it comes to conversion rate optimization. Originally published Dec 28, 2016 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post!
Very cool helmets for Senior Day!! #osufbequipmentcrew pic.twitter.com/Em8Gjt3JvA— Robert Allen (@RAllenGoPokes) November 12, 2016• Tim Brando was more concerned about Mahomes getting to 4,000 yards than I was about my children speaking their first words.• I felt like Tech had 25 third and ones in the first half.• Three straight drives of 75 yards that resulted in TDs. Impressive.• The Jalen McCleskey fumble was almost a back-breaker. It let Tech tie the game at 28 at the end of the first half. Games like these with big boy offense mean that single turnovers can completely flip games. OSU flipped it back when Vincent Taylor picked up a loose ball in the fourth quarter thankfully, but it’s strange that McCleskey (of all people!) could have provided the mistake that cost you as a two-TD favorite at home.• Oklahoma State’s 605 yards were the fifth-most a team has gained on Tech this year. Fifth!• For how disciplined Kliff seems to be, his team seem pretty undisciplined. They get an average of 68 penalty yards per game, but were only clipped for 15 yards on Saturday. Of course OSU had 80 penalty yards.• We got the full Gundy tonight.Gundy looks incredible right now. The full mullet flow. The old throwback sweatshirt. Big 12 title on the line. pic.twitter.com/pHfMDE5Pde— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 12, 2016• Tech’s receivers had a lot of drops. Kliff must love that.• Justice Hill was in 5th grade the last time Tech won. He was four years old the last time Tech won in Stillwater (also, Kliff was the QB the last time Tech won in Stillwater).• Tim Brandon calling Texas Tech “bush league” for not including a player who switched numbers on its numerical roster was pretty humorous to me.• Vincent Taylor could have run through that hole Rennie Childs ran through in the second half. Mah gosh.• Tech finished 11/20 on third and fourth down. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Tech, but that was pretty frustrating to watch.• From our Slack chat: How much does Patty Mahomes look like Yeah Yeah from Sandlot?!• OSU didn’t close like I would have thought in the fourth quarter. I really thought the depth was going to shine through late, but Tech scored on its final three drives.• Jordan Sterns had a tremendous final game at BPS. Eight tackles and two TFLs. Gonna miss that dude.• Tre Flowers going with the Carolina blue mouthpiece was interesting.• Vincent Taylor has better hands than Rashaun Woods (probably).• I thoroughly enjoyed the play where Pat Mahomes would step forward towards his center and hit a quick-slanting WR over the middle. I wish Oklahoma State would implement that.• Wut?Pretty insane number here for The President. pic.twitter.com/FqwfNUw7Z3— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 13, 2016• I still think Gundy needs to hire an end-of-game clock manager. You could pay him $500,000, and he would have already made you money this season!• This was tremendous.Awesome look at the #okstate band honoring the military with a purple heart at halftime. pic.twitter.com/QNujlSyAt8— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 12, 2016 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. I pounded out my 10 thoughts on the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech game here, but we need to get to the notebook. Tons to talk about. Mason Rudolph, James Washington, Chris Lacy, Chris Carson. All the Chris’. All the storylines. Let’s get to work.• My first note was: “How many stops do you need against Texas Tech?” The answer is apparently six as long as they miss the extra point at the end. OSU’s defense faced 13 Tech drives. It got six stops and gave up six TDs and a FG.• Pat Mahomes looked like he was running around on Seth Russell’s leg. What was up with that? If he’s playing with an injury as severe as it appeared, he’s even more of a gamer than I thought (and I already thought he was a massive gamer).• Three straight three-and-outs for Tech to start the game against OSU in the same week Donald Trump was elected president. What a time to be alive. OSU took advantage (sort of), but it really felt like you needed three TDs on those three drives. They only got two.• I like the bandana print on the arm sleeves and socks. I don’t like it on the helmets.• I wish I was as good at anything as Mason Rudolph is at throwing comeback sideline routes.• One of the announcers referred to James Washington as “a high hip guy.” I have no idea what this means, but I feel extremely confident that I am not a “high hip guy.”• Definitely was said.”I own you, Kliff. And I know you want my hair.” pic.twitter.com/93BXu043hH— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguys) November 13, 2016• It has to be so difficult for things to not go your way when you aren’t Iowa State or Kansas bad, but it feels like every 50/50 ball turns against you. I want Kliff to succeed because he seems like a hard-working dude, but it has to be brutal to be a Tech fan right now.• Tech’s first first down was Mahomes running for it on 4th down on its fourth drive. Little panicky early, eh? What was the last time Tech started a game with four straight three and outs?• Tech had 35 first downs. That’s the most OSU has given up since the TCU game last season when it gave up 36. Also, Tech ran 96 plays to OSU’s 66. That’s insane.• Why doesn’t Tech go full Kingsbury? Go for two after every TD, onside kick every time and never punt on a fourth down. This makes sense, doesn’t it?• It seems unfathomable that one unit in one conference could be as bad as Tech’s defense is.• A game like this seems so mentally draining on offense because of how much you have to grind and feel the pressure to score on every possession. I thought OSU did a good job of staying engaged on offense. It probably helps that you know you’re going to put up video game numbers if you’re even remotely involved.• The helmets look better like this than they did on the field.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, who lost his mother to colon cancer in 2013, said in the post-game press conference that the two found solace in each other’s experiences. “I think the game gives him peace,” Prescott told reporters. “We kinda shared this morning about things I’ve been through and kinda let him know, I mean, this game brings me peace and I use it that way . . . [I told him] your father, he’s watching you, he’s got the best seat in the house, and he went out there and I told him to honor him today and Dez did exactly that, had a great night.”“It was emotional,” added Cole Beasley to the Dallas Morning News. “There were a lot of guys with tears in here. We definitely feel for him. And all the stuff he’s been through in his life, he’s still persevering every day. It just shows who he is. He’s been fighting through stuff all his life. No matter what happens to him, he’s going to keep grinding.”Bryant finished the day with six receptions for a season-high 116 yards and a touchdown. He was awarded the game ball in the locker room by head coach Jason Garrett and the two exchanged an emotional embraceWatch Coach Garrett present @DezBryant with the game ball after the win against the Steelers. #FootballIsFamily?: https://t.co/lnXpNzCpXM pic.twitter.com/1GChOGdaLC— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) November 14, 2016 Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant played with a heavy heart in the Cowboys’ 35-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night. Bryant’s father, MacArthur Hatton, passed away from an undisclosed illness Saturday, but Bryant decided to still play. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy saw plenty of targets, but his biggest catch came on a 50-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News set the scene.Bryant paused for a second in the back of the end zone, pointed to the sky and then blew a kiss. Tears started to flow as he fell to his knees. Several teammates consoled him.After the game, he posted a heartfelt message on his Instagram page for his late father.“Daddy I know GOD got you..” wrote Bryant. “I’m hurt but I refuse to ask why….you always wanted me to make sure things are good with the family especially my brothers…I honestly don’t know a man who walked this earth stronger than you…daddy I’m happy to take the torch…rip daddy.” While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
As the last piece of confetti settled to the Alamodome turf late Thursday night and celebrations started to move elsewhere, Mike Gundy was already reflecting on his fifth 10-win season.“A win like this doesn’t guarantee anything,” Gundy said, “but it certainly means a lot for the seniors, the organization and the people that put a lot of time and effort into success.”The disappointments and frustrations of Bedlam seem like a distant memory (or at least an accepted fact) and the Cowboys get to ride off on a good note for the first time in two years. And in one way, for the first time in six.In 2014, when Oklahoma State beat Washington in the Cactus Bowl, they were just glad to be there. The lowest year in several ended with a true freshman quarterback pulling out a Bedlam win that got them the chance to be there in the first place.This year’s Alamo Bowl win was an example of what that QB was capable of. Optimism for next year is not simply, “how good can he be?” but “how far can he take us?”“I’m very excited about coming back for my senior year. It’s a chance to finish what we started this season and another great opportunity to play at Oklahoma State.”That quote is almost six years old. It’s from Brandon Weeden as he and Justin Blackmon announced they would be returning for the 2011 season.While the announcement by Rudolph and Washington was much more subdued (amounting to an 18-second video tweeted out by OSU) the message is the same, especially in terms of what it means to Oklahoma State.In 2010, the Cowboys finished their season with another Alamo Bowl win against a Pac 12 school in Arizona, capping off an 11-2 season. Justin Blackmon was the Biletnikoff winner (his first one) and Brandon Weeden definitely had the numbers to back up a leap to the NFL (4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns).But the duo stuck it out and made history for themselves and Oklahoma State the next year. Could #Rudolph2Washington make a similar run?Next season, the Cowboys get their “easy” home schedule. With the currently constructed Big 12, you can predict home and away opponents by odd and even years. This upcoming odd year will bring Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and Kansas State. Baylor has slipped in the conference pecking order, but Kansas State may be on an uptick.In 2017 the Cowboys figure to take another step in reclaiming a “Tailback-U” moniker that’s slipped away over the last four years. Justice Hill is a stud and has three (!) more years of eligibility. And let’s not forget Jeff Carr who figures to compete for snaps in the new-look backfield. Then you have incoming potential stars like Chuba Hubbard and JD King. All will be competing for playing time.“We should be more consistent in how we block,” said Gundy. “We have good backs. Obviously 27 is coming back. We’ve got young guys redshirting in our program that we like.”In 2010, Kendall Hunter was a senior but was backed up by freshmen Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. In 2011, Randle rushed for 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore. Justice Hill set the freshman rushing record at OSU with 1,142 yards. It’s not inconceivable to imagine he and at least on of the those other guys putting up huge numbers on the ground.Another big difference in the 2011 team and the last few has been the process of rebuilding an offensive line almost from scratch. It was supposed to take about three years (from 2014) and it definitely has. But OSU is finally getting there.“I think we can have up to eight linemen next year that can play,” Gundy said. “I would love to play a first group, then after the fourth series put another group in and play. We may be able to do that. We’ll see.”Of course, the Cowboys will have enough stars at wide receiver to start for three Big 12 teams. I’m only partly kidding. Gundy recognizes his embarrassment of riches at wide-out.“We’re very fortunate to have a really quality group of mature receivers that have had a considerable amount of experience playing in big games, with the addition of Ateman coming back. Really, we lose Seales and Austin Hays. Stoner was able to play for us some this year until he hurt his foot. We’ll get him back. Then we’ve got some young players that we feel really good about.”“I think it just sets us up to do greater things,” said Washington after the game. “We have Marcell and all of our weapons back. I’m looking forward to coming out next year and doing the same thing, hopefully ending with a great outcome.”On the defensive side, the Cowboys will lose a lot. Vincent Taylor, Mote Maile’, Jordan Sterns, Jordan Burton, Ashton Lampkin, Devante Averette and others have all played their last games as Cowboys.To put it into perspective, the outgoing players accounted for 419 tackles out of the 921 that were credited this season. That’s a huge loss for Glenn Spencer. The burden will fall to the likes of Chad Whitener, Ramon Richards and Tre Flowers to become the playmakers on defense.But that 2011 defense was young as well. Only four seniors played meaningful reps that season but still led the nation in turnover margin, largely due to takeaways. Will next year’s team have the same kind of talent as 2011? That’s yet to be seen. In 2011, a sophomore named Justin Gilbert made a name for himself.The Cowboys were able to end the season on a good note. How much does that really carry over into the spring? I’m not sure. But that’s not really the point anyway.Oklahoma State gets another year with Mason Rudolph and James Washington and finally has figured out their running game. If a young defense can get up to speed quickly enough, we could be in for a pretty special year. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Don’t look now, but Oklahoma State just posted its second-highest final Associated Press Top 25 ranking under Mike Gundy. The Pokes checked in at No. 11 as the final AP Poll was released after the national championship game on Monday evening.USC at No. 3 is pretty ambitious, though I’m not sure who else I would have there. I might rank Clemson and Alabama at Nos. 3 and 4 again and put SC at No. 5. Oklahoma ahead of Ohio State is humorous. Also, am I crazy for thinking Oklahoma State could beat Michigan and Wisconsin?This is actually just the second time a Mike Gundy-coached team has finished in the top 12 of the postseason AP Poll and just the 13th time in school history an OSU team has even finished ranked in the postseason AP Poll. That’s pretty incredible.What does it all mean? Well, it means the hype train has already pulled out of the station for 2017 and is barreling right for September 1 as Oklahoma State is an early top 10 team heading into a new year. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
If you’re reading this, there’s probably a good chance that you spent your Friday watching the Cowboys take on Michigan in their first-round NCAA matchup.Mike Gundy had other plans.Rattlesnake hunt in Okeene, OK with Todd and Wild Bill. pic.twitter.com/0SqWb9LxFk— Mike Gundy (@CoachGundy) March 17, 2017Cowboy backs coach Jason McEndoo took the opportunity to promote his boss. Always ‘crootin’.Every other Head FB coach in America wud buy a pair of rattle snake boots from the store! NOT Big Daddy‼ He hunts his own ? #savage #GoPokes pic.twitter.com/sRoRy1ADVd— Jason McEndoo (@JasonMcEndoo) March 17, 2017I wonder how long it is until OSU uses that pic in an official Tweet. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Burns also holds offers from Georgia and LSU most notably, but his presumed favorite, North Carolina, has yet to jump on board just yet.Burns plays on the AAU circuit for the Georgia Stars and is a self-described traditional big man.“I’m more of a back-to-the-basket post player,” Burns told Scout on the circuit last cycle. “It’s kind of rare to find one now because everyone wants to be on the perimeter shooting threes. I’d rather do something where I could differentiate myself and not be like everyone else. If I need to, I can do other things, but I’d rather have my back to the basket.”Burns is the nephew of former UNC running back Ronnie McGill, and the son of two South Carolina State graduates — another school on his list that has already extended an offer. Oklahoma State’s most recent recruit out of Rock Hill, South Carolina, turned out pretty well, right? Mike Gundy would probably say so.Now Mike Boynton is taking a page out of Gundy’s recruiting notebook, as OSU has extended an offer to four-star center D.J. Burns this week out of Mason Rudolph’s home town. The top 125 recruit in the 2019 class is now up to 13 Division I offers with the Cowboys becoming the latest on his list. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.