Monthly Archives: June 2016

The TopRank Marketing 7 Point Email Marketing Engagement Cheat Sheet

email marketing engagement

Email marketing presents a whole host of opportunities (and challenges) for companies that want to engage prospects and customers on an ongoing basis. You may have found that creating quality email content on a consistent basis can seem like a lot of work. Which leads you to question if it’s really worth the effort.

In 2014 eMarketer found that email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States. With research like that backing up the usefulness of email marketing, it’s a tactic you can’t afford to ignore.

If you’re tired of seeing your unsubscribe and spam rates increase at a steady pace, incorporate these 7 steps to connect with your email audience on a more engaging level.

#1 – Personalize the Message

Imagine if you received a letter in the mail and the opening read “Dear Customer” or some other sort of generic greeting. Chances are you would quickly toss that mail into the recycling bin.

Emails can be personalized in a few ways. The simplest include adding the recipient’s name to the subject line or greeting. Another option (which often requires the use of marketing automation) is to personalize the message based on different trigger points.

For example, if someone signs up for a demo of your service or made a purchase, you can then set appropriate trigger points for them to receive a welcome or thank you email with additional next steps or information.

LinkedIn Email Marketing

#2 – Let Readers Know Right Away What the Message is About

Consumers today are busy. One way to help them cut through the clutter and is to clearly let them know what your email is about right away. The subject line offers a great opportunity for them to understand at-a-glance what you’re offering. If you send different types of emails (newsletters, offers, etc.) on a consistent basis, you can call those out right away.

Content Marketing Institute Email Marketing

#3 – Create Exclusivity

Who doesn’t want to feel like they are appreciated and part of something special? Now there is a difference between asking your readers to “Act Now!” and saying “We Have Something Just For You”. The latter helps reiterate to your customers that they’re important to your business. While the former creates urgency, and sometimes anxiety for readers.

Here are 4 ways that you can help create exclusivity for customers with your email marketing:

  1. Offering deals or incentives that are only available to a select group
  2. Sharing updates or new content to this group prior to releasing to the general public
  3. Bonuses for referring other people
  4. Sneak peeks into new products, or even ask them to provide feedback

#4 – Send Updates from the Founder/CEO/President

From time to time, it’s good to include special announcements and thought leadership content from leadership within your organization. These types of messages are typically meant to engage and inspire readers.

This approach can be especially impactful if there is a well-known person within your organization that is associated with the brand.

TopRank Email Marketing

#5 – Include Compelling Imagery

Hubspot found that 88% of subscribers prefer to receive HTML emails from companies versus the 12% that prefer plain text. Additionally, 65% prefer emails that contain mostly images while 35% prefer mostly text.

When delivered properly, well-designed emails can be very impactful. However, all email clients render HTML and CSS differently. SendGrid provides some helpful do’s and don’ts for marketers designing email campaigns for multiple email clients.

BuzzFeed Email Marketing

#6 – Make it Easy for Your Audience to Take the Next Step

Any calls to action within your email campaigns should be very clear, compelling and visually appealing. There should be no question in the customer’s mind what step they should take next.

Email calls to action should:

  • Be succinct
  • Tell your audience what to do
  • Stand out from the rest of your content

Another best practice to follow is that your email message should typically only include one call to action so as not to confuse the reader.

#7 – Above All, Offer Valuable Content

All of the tips above will help you create a more impactful email marketing campaign, but this step is the most important.

It doesn’t matter how great your email looks, or how clear your call to action is if your content is not high-quality it will not provide value to your customers. Don’t send email campaigns just for the sake of meeting a monthly quota, make sure that you are always offering something valuable that readers can’t get somewhere else.

Where do you think the biggest email marketing opportunities lie within your organization?

Header image via Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. | The TopRank Marketing 7 Point Email Marketing Engagement Cheat Sheet |

The post The TopRank Marketing 7 Point Email Marketing Engagement Cheat Sheet appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Some sex toy makers have ‘reinvented’ the condom, and it looks like a Norman Foster building

There’s nothing inherently wrong with condoms, but some Swedish designers and sex toy manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to reinvent the condom by turning it into what looks like a Norman Foster creation. Called the Lelo Hex, the condom uses a honeycomb design to reinforce the strength. I got the opportunity to check out Lelo Hex at a launch party earlier this month and tried stretching and pulling the condom with all my strength, but condom managed to remain intact. Despite this design, it’s not the thinnest condom on the market. The Lelo Hex measures in at around 0.055mm thick – many…

This story continues at The Next Web

The Next Web

7 Ways Sales Emails Fail & 7 Ways to Win



Like you, my email inbox is filled with email marketing newsletters, requests for information, spammy emails that managed to make it through my filter and the urgent things I actually need to respond to. Each day as I watch the number of unread emails grow, it takes more and more convincing for me to open the emails that do not come from people I know.

In my role as the Director of Agency marketing for TopRank Marketing, I receive a steady influx of emails each day from sales reps at various companies trying to meet with me about how their solution will make me more effective at my job. Nine times out of ten, I have had no previous contact with these reps, nor have I signed up to receive emails from them.

As marketers we know that a good email marketing campaign will provide value to our audience and build credibility. So, why should sales emails be any different? If the average buyer gets over 100+ emails per day, opens 23% of them and clicks on just 2%, what can you do to make sure your emails don’t fall into the 77% of emails that end up in the inbox graveyard?

Examples of Bad Sales Emails I Have Actually Received

I’ve selected a few of the more mild yet still ineffective sales emails that I have received recently. The names and companies have been removed to provide anonymity. 

Email #1

Subject: quick question

Dear Ashley,

We have invented a technology that targets the WiFi in a household, on a 1:1 basis with 95% accuracy. This is possible because we have mapped the IP addresses of over 160 million households, most of the major colleges throughout the USA, hotels, airports, and more.

We are the only company in the world that has this technology. Would you have 15 minutes to chat?

Looking forward to hearing back!



Email #2

Subject: Quick Question 

Hey Ashley,

Have you considered building your team?

I’d like to share a quick idea with you that has helped our client with customer retention and acquisition.

Ashley, let’s schedule a quick 15 minute call so I can share the ideas with you. When works best for you?

All the best,
Phone Number
Physical Address

Email #2 Part 2

Subject: RE: Quick Question

Hey Ashley – I sent an email to you three days ago. I was wondering if you put any thoughts into growing your team?

Ashley, let’s schedule a quick 15 minute call. What day works for you?

All the best,
Phone Number
Physical Address


Email #3

Subject: a few ways

Ashley – I have a few ways you can improve your growth strategy and operations over the next few months, while gaining better insight into your business.

Interested in a quick 5 minute chat later this week?

P.S.: I promise it’ll be more effective than your current strategy.

Physical Address


The list could go on and on and on. While these aren’t the worst type of emails you could send or receive, they aren’t impactful and don’t garner a response. What is fundamentally wrong with these emails?

7 Ways Sales Emails Fail

#1 – They Are All Cold Emails
No effort was made to connect with via social networks or other means before sending out a cold email trying to convince the reciptient to give them money.

#2 – There Is No Personalization
These emails could have been sent to anyone. A little research about your prospects can go a long way.

#3 – There Is No Empathy For Pain Points
If someone is on an email list, they should have had access to the company website as well as the title of the person they are reaching out to. With this information, it should be fairly easy and quick to uncover what some of the challenges someone in that role experiences, or what it is that they actually do.

#4 – Some Are Borderline Insulting
Promising to deliver a better strategy than what is currently being executed current insults what it is that a prospect does as a professional. Plus that’s a very bold statement when you have no insight into the performance of the current solution.

#5 – There Is No Way to Find out More About the Company
In order to test the legitimacy of some of these emails, it would have been nice if they would have included a hyperlinked URL to their company website in their signature or somewhere else in the email. None of them did.

#6 – There is No Value Being Offered
Not one of these emails offered up a case study or any validation that they could truly help in some way, or an example of how they had helped other companies in a similar situation.

#7 – Harassing Prospects Doesn’t Work
Telling your prospect that you’ve sent them numerous emails before is not a good way to elicit a response. The prospect doesn’t owe you anything.

7 Ways to Win

#1 – Network & Connect With Prospects FIRST
Before reaching out cold, make an effort to network to prospects by seeing if you know someone in common on LinkedIn or have similar interests. You can also begin following them on social networks like Twitter. This can create an opportunity for recognition when you do reach out via email and provide you with insight into what types of content they share and care about.

#2 – Personalize Your Approach
By putting in a few minutes of research before reaching out, you can quickly identify ways to personalize your email communication. It could be a matter of reading articles they’ve published, finding out where their company is located and making mention of it in your email, the opportunities for slight personalization to have an impact are vast.

#3- Show That You Understand Their Pain Points
You may not have met your prospect personally but with a little legwork you can determine that person xyz that works at this size of company and has this job title will likely experience these pain points. Use a portion of your email communication to show how your company/solution/services can help make life easier for them.

Keep in mind that if you’re emailing the marketing manager, director of marketing or CMO at a company, there will be different pain points or approaches that you need to take in order to sync with their specific needs.

#4 – Compliment & Flatter Your Prospects
We all like someone to take notice of the work that we’ve done. If a person trying to connect with a prospect makes mention of something created by the person they are reaching out to, it is likely that they will be much more open to what is being said.

#5 – Ask for Permission, Don’t Assume
When you use language that indicates you’re confident that the prospect will respond or participate in your ask, it can be a major turn-off. Instead, ask if they are interested in learning more or connecting. It is less invasive and allows the prospect to feel like they are in control instead of being manipulated.

#6 – Offer Proof of Concept
If you’re going to make bold statements in your outreach email, you had better be able to back it up with data. Linking to examples of your work or case studies within the email are an incredibly effective way of showing proof of success and how you have helped other people like them solve similar problems.

#7 – Make it Easy for Prospects to Research You
The simple inclusion of a link to the company website, blog or social links can make it easy for prospects to determine the legitimacy of a company sending them a communication. Since we know today’s buyers are self-directed, it will also give them an opportunity to dive in and learn more about your offering  on their own.

Start Creating More Meaningful Communications Today!

There is a clear opportunity for sales and marketing teams to collaborate and follow email marketing best practices as it relates to sales emails. The convergence of these two teams can help companies create a better and more cohesive experience for all prospects, no matter where interactions are happening. 

Are you guilty of sending sales emails that fail? What do you think you can do to create more effective emails that provide a better experience for your sales prospects?

Header image via Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. | 7 Ways Sales Emails Fail & 7 Ways to Win |

The post 7 Ways Sales Emails Fail & 7 Ways to Win appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

7 of the Best Facebook Live Videos We’ve Ever Seen


This week, Facebook announced grand plans to take their already successful live broadcasting platform to great heights. The announcement included product updates like two-person broadcasts, waiting rooms for viewers, and Snapchat-esque filters all in the works.

With these updates in mind, carving out a strategy for Facebook Live seems like a no-brainer.

Oh, and did we mention the potential live video has for Facebook engagement? Initial data from Facebook revealed that people comment 10X more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.

Now, we get it. Going live, well, it’s kinda scary. What if you mess up? What if the camera wigs out? There are a number of things that could go wrong. But while you’re contemplating the risk, a ton of brands are out there engaging their audience in some really exciting and personal new ways.

To help you shake the nerves, we put together a list of some of the best Facebook Live broadcasts we’ve ever seen. From live debates to intense trainings, you’ll get a little taste of everything to inspire you to fire up a stream for your own company.

(And read this article for more tips on how to get started with Facebook Live.)

7 of the Best Facebook Live Videos We’ve Ever Seen

1) Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is an endurance event series known for its military-style obstacles and enormous sense of community. A few weeks ago, they took to Facebook Live to broadcast their Merrell Michigan Training Event with Coach T. Mud, a.k.a. Kyle Railton. Infectious energy aside, this stream made the list for a few reasons.

For one, it serves as a great use case for how to keep your community engaged — even when they can’t make it to your event. By bringing the event right to their audience’s desktop or mobile device, they can choose to follow along with the training, or simply get a sense of what they might be signing up for.

At the beginning of the broadcast, Coach T. Mud gives a shout out to the Tough Mudder Snapchat handle to encourage those at home — and at the event — to follow along with the training there. This is a great way to cross-promote your channels and increase overall engagement.


Around the six-minute mark, the person filming chimes in to reiterate where they are streaming from. She does the same thing again around the eight-minute mark. This is a great strategy for keeping those who might be joining mid-stream in the loop.

Finally, we really love the way Coach T. Mud gets up close and personal with some of the attendees around the 18-minute mark. While he mainly uses this time to get to know the Tough Mudder community a little better, he also sneaks in some subtle promotions, like this:


Well played, Coach.

(Want to learn more about Tough Mudder’s growth strategy? Check out this episode of The Growth Show featuring Tough Mudder Founder and CEO Will Dean.) 

2) Benefit

One really interesting route brands have taken with Facebook Live is the series approach. In other words, they broadcast a themed video series on a set date and time, usually weekly.

Why does this work so well? As Author Laura Vanderkam explains: “TV shows come on at certain times so people get in the habit of watching them. You can do the same with Facebook Live.”

One of my favorite examples of this come from the folks at Benefit, who host a series called “Tipsy Tricks” every Thursday at 4:15 P.M. Here’s one of the episodes from a few weeks back:

One of the most interesting things they do throughout this particular video is ask questions of the audience to inform how the video will play out. For example, around four minutes in, the host polls the audience to determine which product they’d like to see them use in the makeup look they’re creating.


Then, they give a couple of minutes to let the audience weigh in before following through based on the responses — it’s sort of like a beauty-themed, choose-your-ownadventure game.

This strategy aims to keep those watching engaged, while also helping the folks at Benefit learn more about their audience’s product preferences.

Another way they’re keeping the audience involved? Benefit allows their viewers to submit ideas via Facebook Live comments or Snapchat to help the hosts brainstorm future topics to cover. You can see this in action by checking out the comment thread on this video, where they ask viewers to Like the comment if they’d like to see an episode about concealing:


3) Jason Carr

The next Facebook video on the list comes to us in two parts. In an interesting series of events, Jason Carr, a former news anchor for FOX 2 in Detroit, takes Facebook Live viewers on a ride to his new gig at WDIV-TV, Local 4 News … but he doesn’t tell them that. At least not in the beginning.

The first video begins with Carr explaining that he’s going Live to follow up on a promise he made during his final broadcast for FOX 2 earlier that morning. This was his first right move: Using Facebook Live to extend the conversation following something like a webinar, interview, or panel discussion is a great way to connect with your audience while they’re already engaged.


Viewers watch as Carr — who is broadcasting live from the back of a Cadillac — takes a trip to what he refers to as “parts unknown.” During the first half of the stream, he provides some context around leaving the station, while engaging with viewers in the comments and continuing to build suspense for where he’s headed.

The whole suspense aspect is key, as it helps Carr spark his audience’s curiosity. After all, a little curiosity can go a long way: Research from the University of California revealed that sparking participant’s curiosity with the right question helped to prepare their brain for learning, while also making learning a more rewarding experience.

Just before the stream wraps up, we see Carr arrive at his secret destination — his new station — where he announces that he’ll pick back up once he has a chance to go in and get settled.


A little over an hour later, Carr fires up his stream again to give viewers a behind the scenes look at his first appearance on the new job.

Talk about a creative way to announce a new hire.

4) Grazia UK

This Grazia/Facebook collaboration just might be the most interesting use case for Facebook Live on our list. This month, the team at Grazia UK, an Italian women’s magazine with international editions, headed off to Facebook’s London headquarters to piece together their first “community issue.”

They took to Facebook Live to document a week’s worth of behind-the-scenes footage, allowing their audience to participate in things like their editorial meeting, cover shoot, and GraziaxFB Brexit Debate.

While all of the footage really helped to pull back the curtain for Grazia’s audience, the GraziaxFB Brexit Debate was one of the most successful broadcasts of the week — and for good reason.

The debate, chaired by The Guardian’s political editor Anushka Asthana, was centered around the UK’s decision to remain in or exit the European Union. The panelists were each given time to discuss their views, while also leaving time for questions from both the live audience and Facebook audience.

Asthana encouraged Facebook Live viewers to submit their ideas via the hashtag #GraziaxFB at the beginning of the broadcast.


Note: If you’re hosting a live debate, discussion, or training, coming up with a hashtag in advance is a great way to organize the submission process for questions. (Read this article for tips on how to use hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.)

Overall, the discussion was timely, well executed, and helped to get the Grazia community talking about not only the Grazia/Facebook collaboration, but also the larger political issue at hand.

In the words of Grazia Editor Natasha Pearlman: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring Grazia to life for our readers, and at the same time launch our real-life community, in partnership with the biggest social media network in the world.”

“The Grazia audience aren’t just readers, they are part of the brand – their views and opinions shape our content and really matter,” she went on to explain. “Now they can participate with us in real time.”

5) Tastemade

When you live in an apartment in Boston (or any city, really), you quickly learn how to make the most of a small kitchen. But this video from Tastemade takes that concept to a whole new level.

According to Tastemade’s Head of Productio Jay Holzer, the tiny cooking concept was inspired by one of Tastemade’s Japanese partners. As it turns out, miniature cooking is quite popular in Japan, as a result of kawaii — the quality of ‘cuteness’ — which is plays a prominent role in Japanese pop culture.

While Tiny Kitchen started as a pre-recorded series, the folks at Tastemade tested their luck with Facebook Live by recording this real-time cooking demonstration:

What’s great about this particular use case is that it can be enjoyed without sound. In other words, viewers can tune in without having to stop and adjust their volume, or put on headphones.


The strangely fascinating footage is really easy to consume, which likely contributed to the success of the original episodes. By going live, Tastemade simply added a unique interactive element. And 3.7 million views later, they’ve proved it works.

The lesson? Sometimes, less it more. 

6) BuzzFeed

While BuzzFeed recently made headlines for their not-so-perfect Facebook Live attempt with none other than the president of the United States, we can assure you that they know what they’re doing.

On a much less serious note, the folks at BuzzFeed took to Facebook Live this past March to host an epic live dance battle.

But this wasn’t just any old dance battle: “Dance Craze Battle: Live” was an interactive competition that required the audience to vote on performances and submit suggestions for dance moves.


In between the first two rounds, the host took time to get to know each of the contestants a little better by asking them a few questions. This was really smart for two reasons:

  1. It created an opportunity for BuzzFeed to show off their team and humanize their brand.
  2. It gave time for viewers to submit ideas for the second round of dance battles.

With the help of user submissions in round two, viewers watched as their ideas came to fruition in the form of some pretty interesting dance moves, like “crying college student”:


After each dance, the person monitoring the comments section prompted viewers to cast their vote:


And the entire thing came to a close with a spirited dance party … because why not, right?


Even though this broadcast carried on for half hour, the level of engagement likely helped them keep viewers interested all the way through. When you’re planning a Facebook Live video, keep in mind that length isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it provides you with a chance to reach more people. 

7) Callaway Golf

The folks at Callaway Golf are no strangers to live video. In May 2015, Callaway debuted a live show hosted by their SVP of Marketing and Brand Management Harry Arnett. While this particular live series didn’t unfold via Facebook Live, it’s likely that it made the transition to broadcasting content live on Facebook much easier.

According to Arnett, the experience of live video brings Callaway back to their roots: “We felt like if we could figure out a way to be unique in it, provide utility to it, and be a contributing citizen in the community of golfers, we could become sort of the people’s brand,” he told Golf Digest, “which was very closely connected to the DNA of the company when it got started 20 years ago.”

A great example of their segue into Facebook Live is this exclusive tour of Arnold Palmer’s office, led by Palmer’s assistant and longtime friend Doc.

For golf enthusiasts, this is a dream come true. After all, Palmer is known to be one of the greatest players of all time. But it’s the experience that the video delivers that makes it really interesting for those tuning in.

For one, the person behind the camera makes an effort to keep viewers involved throughout the tour. For example, around five minutes in, he thanks the audience for tuning in and checks in to see if they have any specific questions or things they’d like to see. This is a great way to keep people who might be thinking about dropping off engaged.


Around the 20-minute mark, the cameraman also takes a minute to reintroduce the tour guide, Doc, to clarify his relationship with Palmer for those just tuning in.


While there are mentions of Callaway products throughout the video, it’s by no means the main focus. Instead, the cameraman works to surface interesting facts and stories from Palmer’s assistant to keep those geeking out at home both entertained and engaged. For example, around the 23-minute mark, he prompts Doc to tell the story behind Palmer’s infamous umbrella logo:


Pretty cool, right?

If you’re just getting started with Facebook Live, make note of Callaway’s tactics. And remember: Your broadcast doesn’t have to be all about your product or service for it to be successful. At the end of the day, you want people to remember the experience you provided them, which will ultimately help to keep you top-of-mind. 

Getting Started With Facebook Live

Now that you’re feeling inspired, it’s time to get out there and try it for yourself.

If you’re feeling up to it, but still think you need a little training, check out this post from my colleague Lindsay Kolowich. She’ll walk you through how to broadcast on Facebook Live, how to analyze your live video’s performance, and the top tips and tricks for getting the most out of the platform.

Have you experimented with Facebook Live? What is your favorite example? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

free guide: how to use facebook for business
HubSpot Marketing Blog

Tradeshift acquires Hyper to launch virtual travel assistant for the enterprise

On board Flight QF2 from London Heathrow LHR to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi BKK

Tradeshift has acquired Hyper, the company behind the portable travel assistant by that name. The move gives the enterprise software provider an opportunity to extend its reach into a new vertical: business travel. Hyper said that existing users will still be able to use its app, but it will now be more business travel-focused.

Although financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Hyper cofounder Minqi Jiang told VentureBeat that “all stakeholders in the company, including seed investors, advisors, and employees, made a positive return.” Both of the founders are joining Tradeshift, where Jiang will focus on design and end client needs, while Peter Zakin will lead operations on the platform side.

There was no intention to sell this early, according to Jiang. Hyper and Tradeshift were originally supposed to have a sales meeting, but then Tradeshift became interested in Hyper’s “human-in-the-loop, real-time messaging technology.” Now that the deal is sealed, Jiang hopes that his team will be able to leverage more resources to improve the tech behind his product and extend its reach into the enterprise.

Hyper Flight itineraryHyper launched in January with the goal of making corporate travel more efficient through the use of virtual assistants. As Jiang and Zakin told us at the time, the idea emerged out of experiences they had while working at Google and Venmo, respectively: Both were frustrated by how travel is booked through brick and mortar travel agencies. They sought to overcome these inefficiencies with an app that is similar to messaging services and assistants like Facebook M and Operator.

When you need to book a trip, the system will route your request to a team of call agents located in the U.S. and overseas. Hyper says that these agents have deep domain expertise to respond with the best options for your trip. You can tell the service your preferences, like whether you want window or aisle seating, single occupancy hotels, what type of car you want to rent, and more.

Tradeshift GoWe’re told that the acquisition closed in May, and today Tradeshift announced a by-product of the relationship: A virtual assistant for business travel. Called Tradeshift Go, it’s aimed at simplifying payments and bookings, and the company claims that it will “overcome common problems that have long plagued mid-sized businesses”  — including credit card reconciling, fraud, and inefficient transaction processes.

The new service uses a mix of machine learning and human intelligence to provide a useful experience for businesses. It pulls in the chat interface from Hyper, giving employees a comfortable screen through which to input their needs. And it’s not just a mobile app but is also accessible through a web browser, and by email. Tradeshift Go also provides analytics so that you can track transactions that include buyers, approvers, and department codes. Email alerts can be enabled to warn finance teams of suspicious purchases or let them know if budget limitations are exceeded.

Hyper had raised $ 410,000 in funding from HLVP, Greylock Partners, and others. Its service was free to consumers, and it had a business plan for $ 25 per user per month that offered additional features, such as advanced reporting, group bookings, expense and duty of care integrations, and more.

AI. Messaging. Bots. Arm yourself for the next paradigm shift at MobileBeat 2016. July 12-13 at The Village in San Francisco. Reserve your place here.

Social – VentureBeat

Reasons Inbound Marketing Campaigns Fail – And What To Do About It! [Infographic]

ThinkstockPhotos-530976247.jpgImplementing an Inbound Marketing campaign is not always an easy process.

Sure, you may be aware of the individual components that Inbound marketing campaigns need. But putting those pieces together can be hard. It’s easy to go wrong, make mistakes, and end up with results that are wildly different from your goals.Campaign mistakes can dramatically hinder lead generation and ROI performance. So to help you avoid error in your strategy planning, here are the most common mistakes that Inbound campaigns encounter – and how to fix them.

Inbound Marketing Mistakes

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

New PETA Stickers Expose Products Tested on Animals

New PETA Stickers Expose Products Tested on Animals

Did you know that April 24 to 30, 2016, is World Week for Animals in Laboratories?

Given the number of cruelty-free options out there, it’s hard to believe that every year, hundreds of thousands of rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs, and other animals have chemicals smeared on their skin or in their eyes and are poisoned and killed in archaic tests.


Do you know someone who is unaware of what testing on animals really looks like?

On behalf of animals in laboratories, let that person know what really goes into every bottle of animal-tested dish soap, mascara, and laundry detergent by labeling the products yourself with our new stickers. And if he or she has products that weren’t tested on animals, label those, too!


Fill out the form below, and we’ll send you a page of stickers with both options as well as a copy of PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide for you to share—for free.

Note: To maximize the chances of these arriving to you by April 24, please place your order by April 10.

All fields in bold are mandatory.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

For more ways to help animals:

If you’re already a member of the Action Team, check out other ways that you can save animals by using stickers.

The post New PETA Stickers Expose Products Tested on Animals appeared first on PETA.

Action – PETA

How to Deliver the Perfect Business Pitch: 8 Tips Inspired by ‘Shark Tank’


A great business pitch is among the first of many hurdles an entrepreneur must jump to get their company off the ground.

While it’s not necessarily an indicator of future success, it’s a critical moment for any business. A great pitch can bring valuable partnerships to the table — partnerships that come with even more valuable financial incentives.

Business pitches take place in a wide variety of settings, from elevators, to offices, to cocktail parties. Some lucky entrepreneurs get the chance to pitch their businesses on ABC’s hit TV series Shark Tank, where promising entrepreneurs pitch to a panel of five “Sharks” — self-made multimillionaire and billionaire investors who’ve achieved enormous success in their respective industries.

These entrepreneurs have a short amount of time to tell their stories, sell their products, answer questions, and overall make an impact that they hope will lead to a major money-making opportunity.

There’s a lot about delivering great product pitches that we can learn from the show. Read on to learn about tips from successful Shark Tank product pitches.

(Do you have a startup you want to pitch? Enter HubSpot’s pitch-off competition for a chance to pitch your business on-stage at #INBOUND16 in front of thousands of marketing and sales professionals, early-adopters, techies, and our panel of all-star judges. Click here to learn more about how to enter the pitch-off.)

8 Tips From Successful Shark Tank Product Pitches

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Selling your idea is as much how well you present it as it is the idea itself. Back in 2012, Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran told Business Insider that the best pitch she’s every seen on the show was from Sabin Lomac and Jim Teslikis, co-founders of a seafood truck company called Cousins Maine Lobsters.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘My God, these guys are amazing!'” said Corcoran. “They were clear, they were good-looking (you couldn’t take your eyes off them), they were high energy, and they answered every question and objection like geniuses. Genuine, rock solid, and perfect answers.”


Image Credit: Business Insider

Once she started working with them, Corcoran understood the secret to their polished appearance on the show: preparation. The two co-founders had spent a tremendous amount of time and energy preparing for their appearance on the show. For instance, they watched all four existing seasons of Shark Tank and wrote down every objection any shark had ever asked an entrepreneur. Then, they prepared and practiced their answers and quizzed each other to make sure they had it all down before appearing in front of the Sharks.

“I haven’t seen it before, and I haven’t seen it since,” Corcoran said of their avid preparation.

The Takeaway

Before you make your pitch, you’d better do your homework. Study the bios, social media accounts, and investment backgrounds of every single investor who will be in the room. Make sure you understand what drives each of them so that you can adapt your pitch accordingly. Remember: Your presentation shouldn’t be the same if you’re pitching to a potential partner versus a potential engineer hire, for instance.

Know the key points of your presentation cold and nail at least the first few minutes of your presentation where it’s just you doing the talking. It’s harder to straighten out a bad pitch than it is to keep the momentum of a good one going.

As Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban says, “Do the work. Out-work. Out-think. Out-sell your expectations. There are no shortcuts.”

2) Practice your pitch in front of real people first.

We’re all heard the mantra “practice makes perfect” time and time again, but I want to really hammer home that how well and often you practice your business pitch can make a potentially life-changing impact on you and your business.

Let’s take the case of Aaron Krause, the man who created the product Scrub Daddy, a smiley-faced cleaning utensil that received a bid from Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner — and has been called the most successful product in Shark Tank history.

In addition to having a phenomenal product, Krause’s differentiator was practicing his pitch in front of other people before going on the show. According to Krause, he practiced for months in local grocery stores where he was selling his product. In the process, he refined his pitch so well over a period of months that, when he finally appeared on the show, his delivery and demonstration was flawless. Shark Tank investor John Daymond said it was “like watching a live infomercial.”

Later, Daymond would say it was his favorite pitch of the first six seasons of the show. Daymond was beat out by Greiner, who invested $ 200,000 in exchange for 20% equity in Scrub Daddy.

The Takeaway

The more familiar and comfortable you are with your pitch, the more effective your presentation will be. Like Cuban said, there are no shortcuts here: You have to practice (a lot) to reach the level of familiarity and comfort that’ll result in a flawless presentation. And that flawless presentation could make you a lot of money.

At the end of every practice pitch, ask yourself what you would change about it. In fact, in certain settings, you might ask the people you pitched to what they would change about it. Use it as a learning exercise by reflecting on what went well and what you can do differently next time.

Pro Tip: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki suggests that you throw away your pitch and start with a clean slate every five pitches or so. “Let this ‘version 2.0’ reflect the gestalt of what you’ve learned instead of being a patchwork quilt,” he wrote.

3) Tell a great story, and make an emotional connection.

While some presentations are more formal and have rigid structures, pitches tend to have more flexibility — and presenting your pitch as a story can be much more compelling than a list of facts.

One of the best showcases of how a compelling story can win over investors (and can even, in some cases, make up for lack of business acumen) comes from Tree T-PEE founder Johnny Georges. That pitch was the most emotional moment ever on the show, said Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary. “It actually is the reason the show won an Emmy,” he said. Shark Tank had won an Emmy for Outstanding Structured Reality Program in 2014.

Georges’ pitch began with the story of how he developed a business from his late father’s invention, a device farmers can use to reduce the amount of water wasted by irrigating orange groves.


Image Credit: Business Insider

The investors liked the technology and the patient, but they told Georges they were disappointed by his lack of drive to make these devices more profitable.

Georges’ response? He launched into a powerful story of why he believes so strongly in helping his fellow farmers and carrying on his father’s legacy. “It was a particularly powerful moment in Shark Tank,” said O’Leary, “and no one’s going to forget it. Every Shark had a tear in their eye, including me. He is a great soul, that man.”

A guest investor on the show that day, Paul DeJoria, ended up investing $ 150,000 for 20% equity.

The Takeaway

This story isn’t about how to make up for not being business-savvy. But it is a powerful example of how making an emotional connection with the investors and connecting with them on a human level can make a big difference in the outcome of your pitch.

Remember: People tend to react emotionally first, and then rationalize logically. Research shows that even decisions we believe are logical ones are arguably always based on emotion.

“People cannot run emotion and logic at the same time,” wrote Martin Soorjoo, author of Here’s the Pitch: How to Pitch Your Business to Anyone, Get Funded and Win New Clients. “This means that when you construct and deliver your pitch, focus on ensuring you achieve favorable power dynamics and inspire and engage your audience so that you keep them in the emotion zone.”

4) Promote yourself as a savvy business person.

The entrepreneurs on Shark Tank who’ve given the best pitches not only tell a compelling story, but also promote themselves as smart, savvy businesspeople. After all, an investment results in a business partnership — and investors want to work with smart people who know what they’re doing and can make them money.

Brian Lim is one such entrepreneur. In 2015, he pitched his product EmazingLights, which are gloves with LED lights in the fingertips that have become popular at raves and music festivals.

At the same time he pitched his product, he also pitched both the product and his own work ethic and business acumen. He credited the $ 7 million in annual revenue he’d earned through EmazingLights to his focus, passion, and long-term vision to beat out his competitors in the emerging rave apparel space.

“We own 80% of the global gloving market,” said Lim in his pitch. “The rest of the market is made up of four or five of our competitors, and I guarantee they do not operate at the same level.”

He used data to back up strong statements like these. For example, he started the company with $ 100 and has grossed over $ 13 million in four years while starting another supporting company for the rave community called iHeartRaves.

“In my view, the transient nature of it has me a little nervous, but I can see someone here who’s working his tail off, which is interesting,” said O’Leary before making the first offer.

The biggest compliment Lim received came from Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavec during negotiations on the episode: “You’re the real deal, man,” he said. “You are probably one of the, if not the best entrepreneur we’ve had here.”

Lim would end up making a deal with Cuban and Daymond, with Cuban giving $ 650,000 for 5% and John taking licensing rights and a 20% commission.

The Takeaway

Lim had a great business plan and the numbers and sales history to back it up — but where he really stood out was in selling himself as a phenomenal entrepreneur and potential business partner.

Investors know that the better their business partners, the less work they’ll ultimately have to do. Use stories about your work ethic and dedication to convince investors that you have what it takes to come up with new ideas and take on business initiatives intelligently, all by yourself.

(If you want to develop your own entrepreneurial skills, here’s a list of resources that’ll help you become more business-savvy.)

5) Make your presentation visual and interactive.

If giving a business pitch makes you think of PowerPoint slides and bullet points, then you’re doing it wrong. On Shark Tank, a common thread for successful business pitches are that these entrepreneurs make their presentations heavily visual and even interactive. In many cases, they bring products or parts of the product that the Sharks can actually touch, hold in their hands, and experience for themselves.

For example, Lani Lazarri, who was 18 years old at the time, gave a thorough demonstration of her line of skincare products called Simple Sugars. Early on in the presentation, she asks one of the investors Laurie Geiner to come up to her table and try the product for herself.

Lani gave Laurie a choice of which flavor to try, and instructed her to add a little bit of water and scrub until she felt the sugars start to melt. She asked Laurie how it felt, to which Laurie responded, “It feels very, very soft.”

“That’s the oils in it,” Lani responded. “The sugar removes the barrier of dead skin cells that naturally sits on top of your skills, which allows the oils to penetrate your skin and provide that moisture.” The visual language helped the other investors in the room feel what was happening without actually trying it for themselves.

In general, you’ll notice that the vast majority (if not all) of Shark Tank‘s best pitches are highly visual and involve interactive elements like Lani’s. The only time you’ll see entrepreneurs use a slide deck is to present the name of the product, and sometimes to show different elements of it that can’t be seen in person.

The Takeaway

Visual presentations and physical interaction have positive psychological impacts on an audience. Research shows the longer we touch or hold something, the more we feel ownership over it — and the more we want it. And the more we feel we already own something, the higher value we place on it.

You can still use PowerPoint slides, but if you do, be sure to offer interesting visual and dramatic slide presentations. (And read this blog post for 14 PowerPoint presentation tips to make your designs more effective, along with free templates.)

Pro tip: Prepare a second version of your slide deck to send out later as a leave-behind that you can include in your follow-up to investors. Your two presentations should match in general flow and content, but the one shown in your live presentation should be highly visual, and the one to send later should have more words and explanations so it can act as a standalone presentation.

6) Highlight product validation by talking about early sales.

Some of the most common questions Sharks ask of entrepreneurs on the show are about sales:

  • What are your sales year-to-date?
  • What do you think you’ll do this calendar year?
  • What do you think you’ll make on it?

For investors, early sales success is one of the most promising signs of the product’s validation. It shows that consumers are already valuing the product and are willing to spend money on it.

One entrepreneur named Max Gunawan pitched his foldable lamp company, Lumio, to the investors on Shark Tank in 2015. In his pitch, he clearly illustrated how an investor could make money off his quickly growing company by explaining that he grew the business to $ 1 million in annual sales within two years.

All five Shark Tank investors offered him deals, and he ended up partnering with Herjavec for $ 350,000 in exchange for 10% equity.

Rebecca Rescate, who founded a toilet training kit for cats called CitiKitty, also used her sales numbers and projections to prove the value of her concept.

After fielding some jokes from the investors initially, she pushed through to explain how she’d made $ 225,000 in sales the previous year all by herself — and earned coverage in major media outlets like The Wall Street Journal to help create a demand. She ended up making a deal with Kevin Harrington for $ 100,000 for 20% equity.

The Takeaway

Along with a compelling story and presentation, talking comfortably about your sales numbers and projections is a very important part of your pitch. Without numbers to back them up, whether a person likes a product concept or not is fairly anecdotal. Investors like to see ideas that are backed by real dollar figures.

If you haven’t put your product on the market yet, you can get an idea of demand and promises to buy from your Kickstarter marketing. If nothing else, Angel Investor Tim Berry suggests bringing signed letters from future customers or from sales channels. “Distributors or retail chains are very helpful,” he wrote in an article for Entrepreneur. “And when possible, don’t just talk about documents. Take a picture and post it on a slide in the deck.”

Remember to be realistic with your sales predictions. If they’re not believable, then you won’t be, either. (Read this blog post to learn more about how to accurately predict your future sales.)

7) Come in with a negotiation strategy.

The negotiation is arguably the hardest — not to mention the scariest — part of a business pitch. One of the most common reasons why entrepreneurs fail to land a deal on Shark Tank is because they don’t negotiate well. Either they haven’t done their homework on the numbers, or they become indecisive or anxious, or both.

Brad Schultz, Aimy Steadman, and Justin Fenchel made up the three-person team behind boxed wine cocktail company Beatbox Beverages.


Image Credit: Heavy

Let me outline how the negotiation went for you …

When the BeatBox team first entered the meeting room, they asked for $ 250,000 for 10% equity. During their pitch, they talked about how they initially invested $ 55,000 in the company themselves, along with an additional $ 100,000 borrowed from friends and family — which resulted in $ 235,000 in sales in their first 14 months.

“Tell me how you’re going to take it from $ 235,000 to $ 5 million,” Herjavec responded. Fenchel said that the money would be used mostly to hire brand ambassadors to set up tastings at liquor stores.

Another investor at the table, Mark Cuban, didn’t like it. “Your leverage points for any one store aren’t great,” he came back. What Cuban meant here was that getting products in even the largest private store doesn’t offer potential for massive growth, according to Business Insider‘s coverage of the episode. A better strategy, Cuban said, would be to bring their products to big events with thousands of people.

After some back-and-forth about promotion and distribution strategies, Fenchel and his team received a number of different deals from the investors that they’d need to consider against their initial request for $ 250,000 for 10% equity ($ 2.5 million valuation):

  • $ 400,000 for 20% equity from Barbara Corcoran ($ 2 million valuation)
  • $ 200,000 for 20% from Kevin O’Leary ($ 1 million valuation)
  • $ 600,000 for 33.3% equity from Mark Cuban ($ 1.8 million valuation)

Along with the offer, Cuban argued that the entrepreneurs should pick him because he thinks BeatBox has a shot at going viral in the same way that Skinnygirl did. He pressured Fenchel and his team to make a decision — and they were quick to respond. This is even more impressive since they were a team of three, but ultimately, they’d agreed to give Fenchel the final say without objecting.

Fenchel was immediately prepared with a counter-offer. “Would you do $ 1 million for a third?” he asked. Cuban said yes.

That was a successful negotiation. Here’s what a failed negotiation looks like on Shark Tank, where even promising entrepreneurs have missed out on deals because they were indecisive.

In this case, Lei Yu and Tyler Freeman, the co-founders of the wearable technology company DrumPants, are a prime example of this. They walked onto the show asking for $ 150,000 in exchange for 5% equity. From there, they received two offers: $ 150,000 for 20% equity from Herjavec, and $ 250,000 for 20% from Daymond. Yu and Freeman then ask if they can step into the hallway to discuss.

Back in the tank, O’Leary says, “You know what happens in Shark Tank when you leave the tank? Nasty, nasty things. What is wrong? You’ve got two offers. You’ve got to make a decision.”

When they came back in, Freeman asked Herjavec if he’d drop his stake from 20% to 15% for the same $ 150,000, to which Herjavec doesn’t respond. Finally, Herjavec — and eventually Daymond — withdraw their offers because the two co-founders were so indecisive.

“I think what your challenge is, and you’ve probably been hearing it your entire lives, is that you’re both very deliberate,” Cuban tells them before they leave the stage. “But that’s part of the problem, right? Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. Right? Paralysis via analysis.”

The Takeaway

Before you confront your investors, you need to come up with a plan for negotiating. This is the part of your pitch where the stakes are very, very high. You’ll need to do a lot of preparation ahead of time. Make sure you’re totally familiar with your product or service, the industry, and the competition — including details like numbers.

You’ll also want to research how each of the investors you’re meeting with have negotiated in the past. If you know anyone who’s dealt with them before personally, get in touch with them. “Many negotiators develop patterns and certain styles that you may be able to use to your advantage,” writes Michael Sanibel for Entrepreneur.

Sanibel also recommends having the endgame in mind as you come up with your negotiation strategy. And during the negotiation, you’ll need to be prepared to go after a win-win situation, which could mean splitting the difference between your ask and an investor’s offer.

8) Keep your cool.

Giving any sort of presentation is nerve-wracking enough. But when you’re pitching your passion to people who are primed to be both skeptical and critical, it can really feel like you’re stepping into the hot seat and putting yourself out there. And when the questions start pouring it, it can sometimes feel like you’re getting “attacked.”

But keeping your cool can pay off big time. One of the biggest Shark Tank deals in the history of the show was won because the person pitching kept a cool head during a barrage of questions and expressions of doubt.

The deal was won by Andrew McMurray, the chief consultant of single-serving wine company Zipz Wine, who negotiated a whopping $ 2.5 million investment in exchange for 10% equity from Kevin O’Leary in 2014.

The Shark Tank investors had a lot of questions and concerns about McMurray’s business. Most notably, O’Leary argued that the founder of a very similar-looking company called Copa Di Vino had come onto the show twice and left with nothing. The investors berated McMurray with questions about his licensing deal, his branding, his pricing, and more.

Many people would have broken down under the pressure, but check out how calmly McMurray handled the negotiation.

When it came time to make a decision, McMurray made a quick phone call to check with his partners, but ultimately took the deal. He wouldn’t have been able to do it without his ability to keep cool and stay reasonable throughout the negotiation.

The Takeaway

While you may feel nervous, it’s important to keep a cool head during your pitch. If you’re visibly uncomfortable, you’re only going to make the investors uncomfortable — and they might see that as a lack of confidence.

The more you know your product and the industry, and the more prepared you were for the Q&A, the more likely you’ll be able to draw on what you know to offer answers to questions you expected and those you didn’t expect.

“Staying positive and not getting on the defensively will always lead to a more natural and approachable cadence to your pitch,” writes Ben Schippers for TechCrunch. If you get a question you aren’t comfortable answering or don’t know how to answer, don’t make something up or skirt around the issue. Schippers suggests responses like these:

  • “That’s a great question, give me a day or so to do some research and I’ll report back.”
  • “I haven’t approached my research from that perspective, I’ll be sure to it — great suggestion.”

If an investor points out a deficiency in your business plan, you might talk about how the investor’s guidance and capital can help turn those weaknesses around.

And hey, if things go poorly, don’t dwell on it. Learn from the experience, make identifying what you’ll do differently next time into an exercise, and then cut yourself some slack and move on.

What other tips for delivering the perfect pitch can you add to this list? Share with us in the comments.

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