Tag Archives: Best

United Airlines and Cleveland Facebook Live killing reveal the best and worst of social media


Social media gets something of a bad rap for its always-on flow of information that gives everyone a voice, even if they don’t have anything of much consequence to say.

Sometimes we’re reminded of the true power Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the like have to capture and communicate important messages that may otherwise have been lost. Other times, we’re reminded that social media is capable of capturing events that have no place on a public forum.

Two incidents in particular from the past week help illustrate social media at its best and at its worst.

Last week, United Airlines hit the headlines over the way it forcibly removed a passenger from one of its planes after it failed to find volunteers willing to give up their seat on an overbooked a flight. A number of videos captured from the plane were shared on social media almost immediately, revealing to the world the potential horrors that await United Airlines passengers who “refuse to volunteer” to be “re-accommodated.”

On the one hand, the videos made for disturbing viewing — a grown man screaming and bloodied, yanked from a flight he’d paid for by cops at the request of a billion-dollar corporate giant. It wasn’t pleasant to watch, but it helped highlight why social media can be an immensely powerful force. Without smartphones and social media, the incident would not have garnered the global attention it subsequently received, and United Airlines would not have been forced to reconsider its procedures for managing overbooked flights. And the Chicago Police would presumably not have suspended the officers responsible.

On the flip side, as I write this, police in Cleveland, Ohio are hunting for a man who broadcast himself on Facebook Live as he killed a stranger at random. This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened, either. And the video remained online for hours after the shooting before Facebook finally removed it from the suspect’s Facebook Page.

Everyone now has a smartphone in their pocket, meaning everyone has the potential to be a journalist and a one-person film crew — recent history is awash with examples of ordinary people who have captured major events and shared them with the world.

But as United Airlines strives to overhaul its company policies and practices in the wake of damning media coverage captured by a handful of citizen hacks, the Cleveland killing has given us a stark reminder that in the wrong hands, social media really can be the darkest of forces.

Social – VentureBeat

Watching all Casey Neistat vlogs is the best way to spend your time today


Remember Casey Neistat? YouTube’s favorite vlogger gave up on his craft on November 16, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching him. His daily vlog experiment started over a year ago, and since then he has produced a ridiculous amount of footage. Two days, eleven hours and 56 minutes spread over 419 videos, to be precise — but if his final vlog is to be believed, that’s all there’s ever going to be. To fill the void, Moritz Kobrna decided to create 24/7 Casey Neistat, a web app streaming all of his vlogs chronologically around the clock, in sync with everyone…

This story continues at The Next Web


The Next Web

Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests

Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests

It’s crucial that you take high-quality photos during a demonstration. They can make the difference between having 20 people see your message and reaching 20,000. Captivating photos and video footage can help a local event garner attention all over the country. The best images tell a clear story, capture the essence of the event, and make viewers feel like they are part of the action.

Working with a PETA outreach coordinator, you can take your activism for animals to the next level. Check out the tips below to help you get some great images from your demo and learn how to send them to PETA. We may be able to promote your event to our millions of social media followers and website readers.

When taking photos, be sure that they will answer these questions:

What’s the issue?

Whether you’re protesting against a circus that abuses animals or a restaurant that serves foie gras, anyone who sees your photos should immediately grasp what the issue is and how it causes animals to suffer. Treat this as an opportunity to educate people who are unfamiliar with the type of cruelty that your demo aims to expose.

What’s the tone?

Whether the demo is silly and lighthearted, dramatic and serious, or downright sexy, your photos should elicit a clear emotion in viewers. If, for example, your event is meant to be shocking, then photos of smiling people probably aren’t your best bet.

What makes this event special?

Your photos should make viewers stop to take a closer look. People consume media very quickly these days, so give them a reason to pause as they scroll through their Facebook news feeds. Anyone can stand at the side of a road holding a sign, so try to focus on the more eye-catching elements of the demo. If a mascot is at your event, be sure to get some shots of that. Images of children, workers in uniform, and any animal companions who have come with their guardians also tend to stand out.

These are the shots that you should always get:

The Signage

Your message is, after all, what you are trying to convey through your pictures. The signs that you photograph shouldn’t feature too many words. Pick ones with succinct, straight-to-the-point, punchy messages. Make sure that your shots of them are clear and the words are legible.

The Peak of the Action

Have your camera ready both at the beginning of the event and at points when people are most active. Demos taking place in a busy area inevitably attract more attention, so be ready for the public to get involved in one way or another. Get some shots at times when the most activists are present so that people will know that your event was a big deal.

Demo at opening of Canada Goose flagship store

The Whole Scene

Photograph the “big picture” surrounding the demo. Are you protesting outside a storefront or corporate headquarters? If so, make sure that the logo of the targeted company is visible, perhaps on a window or awning above where the activists are standing—or maybe even on the side of a building. If you’re outside an animal-unfriendly event, try to get some photos in front of the entrance or near any promotional banners that the organizers have hung. People need to know where the protest is taking place, as that will help them understand why it’s happening.

Crowd Reactions

If you’re handing out food, show people eating it. If you’re playing a sad video, capture people crying. If you have head-turning visuals, photograph the surprise on the faces of passersby. When people see others reacting, it can help shape how they react.

Some Impactful, Close-Up Shots

Ask one person with a sign to take a few steps out from the bulk of the action. Individual stories sometimes have a greater impact than the “big picture.” The full scope of animal abuse can be hard for people to take in, so showing a close-up of one person in front of the crowd helps viewers place themselves in the shoes of that activist.

Here are some final tips:

Come prepared. If you know in advance where the demo will take place, you can scope out the location beforehand. Take some test shots the day before. Note where the sun falls. See how much foot traffic the area typically experiences. That way, you won’t have to figure out all the details on the fly.

If you know there will be children present, be sure to bring something (a pen and paper or your cell phone) with which to record the contact information of their parents or legal guardians. If you provide PETA with their e-mail addresses, we can follow up by sending forms to request consent for using photos of their children.

If professional photographers show up, pay attention to what they do. You might not be a pro, but that doesn’t mean your shots can’t be just as powerful as those taken by someone working for a news wire or local TV station. If you’re unsure where to start, take inspiration from what the experts photograph. Just be sure to remain respectful. Remember: They’re there to get more eyes on the demo, too.

Then, send your photos to us.

If you’re already working on your demo with a PETA outreach coordinator, just e-mail your photos to your contact with a clear subject line and a one- or two-sentence explanation of the event for reference.

If you’re unsure which coordinator to contact, you can consult our handy map.

Never stop fighting for animals. There are plenty of other ways you can help animals through activism. Learn more now:

The post Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests appeared first on PETA.

Action – PETA

14 of the Best Product Page Design Examples We’ve Ever Seen

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If you look at how product pages take shape across different companies, it’s clear that they run the gamut. Some go for the direct approach, displaying an image of a product and explaining why someone should buy it. Other companies create elaborate pages with moving parts and fancy coded elements.

Of course, some companies fare better than others at creating delightful product pages.

But since we prefer to focus on the positive, we scouted out 14 examples that we find truly admirable. From messaging, to value propositions, to general product promotions, these brands nail these features in a persona-friendly way. Download even more great web page design examples here.

And after checking out these pages, you might want to buy their products, too.

14 Remarkable Product Landing Page Designs

1) Bellroy

Bellroy sells thinner-than-typical wallets. There’s value to that — but what is it, and how do you get the consumer to understand it?

To answer those questions, Bellroy divided its product page into three stages of the buyer’s journey — understanding the problem, how to fix the problem, and how Bellroy can resolve the problem.

There’s even an interactive section that shows how the skinny wallet will fill up in comparison to a different wallet. As users move a slider back and forth along a line, both of the wallets fill up with cards and cash, visually displaying the very problem Bellroy’s skinny wallet solves.

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[Click here to see Bellroy’s full product page.]

2) Wistia

Wistia is a video hosting and analytics company that provides users with detailed video performance metrics. It might sound like a snooze-fest, but let’s dive into what really makes this product page stand apart.

First, we’re presented with five, colorful graphics illustrating their tools’ value propositions. And in case that’s all the user really needed to see, those graphics are followed by two calls-to-action.

But, if you continue scrolling, you’ll see a video with information about Wistia’s capabilities for that video — calls-to-action, email collectors, video heatmaps, and viewing trends.

One of the best ways to explain a visual platform’s features is to demonstrate them on a product page. This one shows users all of Wistia’s features and how they work, day-to-day.

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Click here to see Wistia’s full product page.

3) Square

Square is a mobile transaction company that merchants can use to collect payment from customers — anywhere, any time, as long as they have a compatible phone or tablet.

The product marketing challenge here is to show why Square is an easier alternative than a typical cash register — and its product page displays those reasons in a visually captivating way.

The main headline of each section of this product page has bold, succinct copy: “Small credit card reader, big possibilities.”

The rest of the page is clearly organized headlines — which kind of read like answers to frequently asked questions — plenty of white space, succinct copy, and appropriate images. Anyone looking into each section can understand exactly how Square works at every stage of a transaction.

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[Click here to see Square’s full product page.]

4) Rent the Runway

Some companies — especially in ecommerce — can have up to thousands of product pages. Rent the Runway, an online dress rental company, is one of them.

Rent the Runway has an individual product page for every dress it carries, with all the information a customer could want — images, measurements, fabric, price, and reviews. So what sets them apart? The exceptional detail of the “Stylist Notes” and “Size & Fit” sections.

These details are clearly and carefully curated from stylists and reviewers. They don’t just explain what a dress is made of and how it looks — they cover how it fits on every part of the body, which undergarments should be worn with it, and for which body types it’s best suited. That kind of Information not only delights customers and encourages their trust, but it also makes for a more confident buying decision.

Also, notice how there’s plenty of white space surrounding the product images and description. According to research by ConversionXL, that white space creates a higher perceived value — in this case, price — of the product in the user’s mind.

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[Click here to see Rent the Runway’s full product page.]

5) Coin

Coin is like a credit card, but better — it actually keeps the information from all of your credit cards in one place. In other words, instead of filling your wallet with two credit cards, a debit card, three gift cards, and two rewards cards, you can fill your wallet with one: Coin.

Some product pages depend on text to highlight product differentiation. But Coin invites the viewer to visually consume all of its elements. That starts with a video at the top of the page to show how Coin works — and how cool it is, of course.

But keep scrolling. Coin displays its product positioning and differentiation through a visual journey of the Coin card. Just check out that fun animation — what a great way to represent how a product works.

Coin
[Click here to see Coin’s full product page.]

6) Oreo

If you’ve seen any of Oreo’s marketing, you shouldn’t be surprised they’re on this list. But sometimes, being well known can actually make it harder to create a product page. So how did they do it?

The focus of Oreo’s product page is how these simple, classic cookies can help people unleash their imaginations, dare to wonder, and become generally happier. It features a series of videos, one after another. One is accompanied by the lyrics, “It’s so easy to let your imagination go when you play with Oreo,” paying tribute to the age-old discussion about the “best” way to eat them. The page takes a creative, bold approach to marketing with what might otherwise be thought of as an ordinary snack.

Oreo also took a unique design to this page. Even though the cookies themselves are monochrome, the page is wonderfully colorful, from the videos, to the backgrounds, to the graphics.

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[Click here to see Oreo’s full product page.]

7) Fitbit Charge

When I was assigned this post, I asked a few people for their favorite product page suggestions. I was amazed how many people immediately recommended Fitbit — and after checking out the site, I can see why.

The page starts off with a value proposition — not a list of features. It’s a hero image of people hiking a mountain, who we can imagine are wearing Fitbits, with the copy, “Energize your day.”

As you scroll down the page, it goes through four quick steps explaining how the product works. What’s more, a lot of these are interactive — the section under “Everything you need, all in one place” allows users to hover over different features to see how they appear on Fitbit’s mobile app.

But the page also explains why these features are valuable. For example, one tracks everything you do from walking, to running, to sleeping. Why does that matter? Well, you can have your current records on hand, and try to beat them.

Knowing that users might not remember all of the specifics when they leave the page, Fitbit was sure to focus on how these features will actually make a difference in the visitors’ lives. Well played.

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[Click here for Fitbit Charge’s full product page.]

8) Volkswagen

Volkswagen takes an interactive approach to their product marketing. Instead of listing out all of the features you can have in a car, they walk you through the process of actually building your car. As you go through that process, Volkswagen highlights the different features you could choose, then gives you a preview of what the car will look like and how that will affect the price.

Even though I’m not currently in the market for a new car, I personally had fun tinkering with the different customization features on the page. What color do I want? Do I want premium audio? (Yes.) It’s an interesting way for the brand to eliminate the notorious connotations of “car salesmen,” by allowing users to learn about and select features independently.

Plus, there’s a nifty matchmaking feature that allows you to see which nearby dealerships have the car with all of your preferences in its inventory.

(If you want to see a regular product page, they’ve got that, too.)

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[Click here to see Volkwagen’s full product page.]

9) Seattle Cider

The folks at Seattle Cider claim their cider is “not your standard cider.” Well, neither is the product page. It reads like a story, beginning with attractive, high-definition images of the cider selection, which happen to have really cool label designs. As you hover, an explanation appears of what differentiates Seattle Cider’s products from others, and what makes each variation special.

But my favorite part is what comes next: a really cool, interactive display of how cider is made from start to finish, which plays for users as they scroll. It’s a surprising and delightful user experience that goes above and beyond the typical product page, because it doesn’t just display the products. It shows where they come from, and how.

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[Click here to see Seattle Cider’s full product page.]

10) OfficeSpace Software

OfficeSpace sells facility management software to help folks manage, well, office spaces. Like the name, the product page is very clear and direct.

Each section of this product page is dedicated to a different feature of the software. The headline explains the feature, and the subheadline explains why this feature is important as you evaluate different software.

That makes it easy for prospects to quickly digest what the product offers, but also read more details on its value proposition, if they choose to. And, if someone wants to learn even more about a particular feature, there are clear calls-to-action to do so.

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[Click here to see OfficeSpace’s full product page.]

11) Orangina

This carbonated citrus drink has been around since 1935, and it has exactly four products — original, red orange, light, and tropical. So, how does Orangina keep its product page both current and special?

For one, it’s fun to explore. When you hover your mouse over any of the blocks, the picture or icon animates — the bottles dance around, the orange slices in half, and the thermometer drops. The animated images and bold colors fit in perfectly with the Orangina brand’s bold, fun personality.

Also, you might notice that some of the blocks are actual products, while the others are simply tips and details about their products. If you don’t have a lot of products to sell, consider interspersing them with tips and information about the products you do have available.

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[Click here to see Orangina’s full product page.]

12) Mango Languages

Mango Languages creates “lovable” language-learning experiences for libraries, schools, corporations, government agencies, and individuals. Its homepage has illustrated calls-to-action for each of these buyer personas — from public libraries, to government offices, to individuals who want to learn something. Each of those calls-to-action leads to a different product page that’s colorful, clearly written, and very comprehensive.

Take a look at the example for individuals below. Like every other part of the website, it exudes Mango’s friendly, approachable, and helpful brand personality. The video couldn’t be more delightful. I mean, a guitar-playing mango in a top hat? Yes, please.

As you scroll, you’re greeted with clear value propositions that use playful language that’s true to brand — for example: “Useful stuff. Zero fluff.” Everything about the page says “simple to use,” “fun,” and “effective.”

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[Click here to see Mango’s full product page.]

13) PaletteApp

Like Volkswagen, PaletteApp, a maker of flooring products, took the interactive approach to its product page. It helps make designers’ lives easier by leveraging the world’s largest digital database of architectural products and materials. There are a lot of them — from flooring to countertops — and the goal of the product pages is to make it painless for designers to find and collect the products they like.

Notice below how users can hover their mouse over each product to request a sample, add it to their library, or add it to their personal palette. Options can be filtered by application, price, product type, color, and manufacturer, too, which is important with so many products available. PaletteApp does an impressive job of making it easy to whittle down your choices.

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[Click here to see PaletteApp’s full product page.]

14) Minwax

Minwax makes products to help people care for their wood furnishings and surfaces. Riveting, right? But the brand has managed to create a product page that’s not only relevant, but also, helps users quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.

That’s thanks, in part, to the Minwax Product Finder module. It functions like a quiz, asking a series of multiple-choice questions, like “What kind of project is it?” and “What are you looking to do?” Once you answer the questions, the quiz generates recommended products, which includes a handy “Don’t Forget” list with the tools you’ll need to get the job done — things like safety glasses, gloves, and sandpaper. Helpful tips like this go above and beyond a normal ecommerce product page.

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[Click here to see Minwax’s full product page.]

Ready to work on your product page?

So, what have these brands taught us about product pages? Well, we think it boils down to a few must-haves:

  • Make it interesting and fun, especially if you have a less-than-riveting product.
  • Make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
  • Make it personal. Allow users to “build their own” product, to show them that you can meet their preferences.
  • Make it informative. Without bogging it down in detail, be sure to include the right pieces of information that will show users what sets your products apart.

What other great product pages have you seen, and what makes them great? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

50 examples of beautiful website design


HubSpot Marketing Blog

16 of the Best Examples of Beautiful Blog Design

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According to a recent U.K. survey, bloggers have ranked as the third most trustworthy source of information, following only friends and family. That’s right — bloggers are trusted more than celebrities, journalists, brands, and politicians.

But how do you get people to fall in love with your blog in the first place? (Aside from remarkable content, of course.)

Well, just as your website homepage is like the front door to your business, your blog’s design — much like a welcome mat — is the front door to your business blog. Download our full collection of blog design examples here to inspire your own  blog design.

If you’re not attracting people visually, how will you get them to take the next steps to actually read (and, hopefully, subscribe to) your content? Once you’re done creating the quality content, you still have the challenge of presenting it that clearly dictates what your blog is about. Images, text, and links need to be shown off just right — otherwise, readers might abandon your content, if it’s not aesthetically showcased in a way that’s both appealing and easy to follow.

That’s why we’ve compiled some examples of blog homepages to get you on the right track to designing the perfect blog for your readers. Check ’em out.

16 Inspiring Examples of Beautiful Blog Homepage Design

1) Help Scout

Sometimes, the best blog designs are also the simplest. Help Scout, makers of customer service software, uses a unique but minimalist design on its blog that we love — it limits the use of copy and visuals and embraces negative space.

What we particularly like about this blog is its use of featured images for all posts, including a banner one at the top that highlights a recent or particularly popular entry. These icons are set in front of bright, block colors that catch the readers’ eye and signal what the post is about. And it works — everything about this blog’s design says “clean” and “readable.”

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2) Microsoft Stories

Full disclosure: We’ve totally gushed over Microsoft’s “Stories” microsite before. We can’t help it — what better way to revitalize an old-school brand than with a blog that boasts beautiful, interactive, and inspiring branded content? Plus, the square layout of these stories is reminiscent of the Microsoft logo, which achieves a valuable brand consistency.

Microsoft Stories is also a prime example of how a business blog can be a major asset for an overall rebrand. In recent years, Microsoft has worked to humanize its brand, largely in response to a rivalry with Apple. The “Stories” microsite has a simple tagline — “Get an inside look at the people, places and ideas that move us.” It’s the softer side of Microsoft, so to speak. 

When you’re trying to convey a certain brand message, your blog can be used to communicate it — both aesthetically, and content-wise.

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3) Pando

An important aspect of a well-designed blog is a consistent color scheme and style — after all, 80% of consumers say that color boosts their recognition of a brand.

It’s interesting to see how color consistency can unify the more diversified elements of design. Pando, a blog that explores the startup cycle, incorporates blue tones in several sections of its site — the background, highlight bars, and certain areas of text. But it also uses several different fonts — all of which manage to look seamless together, when tied together by a cohesive color scheme.

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4) Design Milk

Design Milk, an online contemporary design outlet, uses a very simple layout to highlight its posts. The sidebar to the right — which remains visible when a blog post is opened to read — is perfect for showcasing thumbnail images for new articles. That’s an internal link strategy, which helps to encourage readers to remain on the site longer.

The social icons at the top are a pleasant addition to the overall look and feel of the site — they’re easy to spot, and make it easy to share Design Milk’s content. (And to learn more about adding social buttons to your blog, check out this post.)

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5) Fubiz

Fubiz, an art and design blog, is an example of a really sleek design that also includes some cool personalization.

Near the top of the blog’s homepage, readers can side-scroll through “highlighted” posts. Below that is the Creativity Finder, where visitors can select their chosen personas — from “Art Lover” to “Freelance” — location, and the type of content they’re looking for. From there, readers can browse content specifically catered to them. 

We can’t help but love the header image, too. It uses something called “blue mind” psychology, which has found that the sight of open water can naturally draw us in. By using it in a design scheme, Fubiz is able to visually attract visitors to its content.

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6) Webdesigner Depot

With a name like “Webdesigner Depot,” it’s no wonder that this design news site is visually appealing.

One thing that we particularly like is the way Webdesigner Depot has incorporated social sharing icons on each individual post. While we of course suggest actually reading each piece, having those links readily available helps visitors immediately share a headline they find interesting. And check out those navigation arrows on the right — never before has it been so easy to scroll to the top or bottom of a page.

What’s more, the color scheme, background, and fonts are all consistent — which keeps this blog looking professional, but still distinct from the basic blog templates we might be used to seeing.

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7) Mashable

I mean, just look at that header image. The bold colors, the wiring overlay, the gripping pupil and the contrasting text. It absolutely catches the reader’s eye — no pun intended.

Mashable breaks its content into three noticeable sections on the homepage: New posts are listed on the left in the smallest sized thumbnails. “What’s Rising” posts are displayed in the center column as large thumbnails, and the “What’s Hot” posts are shown to the right, also as large thumbnails. This three-pronged approach to displaying content can help readers decide which kind of news matters to them the most — the attention-grabbing top story, or other posts that are currently trending.

Plus, we like that the number of shares is displayed in each post preview — that’s a great form of social proof.

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8) Brit + Co

Everything about the Brit + Co homepage says “clean,” “warm,” and “welcoming.” It’s free of clutter, making the content more digestible, and the layout is extremely organized.

We dig the seasonality of the site, too. I mean, avocado jack-o’-lanterns on the dawn of October? Adorable, and replete with a colorful, fun photo to illustrate the story’s content.

The subtle “trending” header also serves as a nice way to promote popular content, without being too in-you-face about it. Plus, with such great visuals, we took note of the nod to Pinterest — that icon is important to include when your blog incorporates attractive imagery.

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9) Tesco Living

We love the colorful, consistent design of Tesco Living, the blog site of British grocery chain Tesco. 

Remember how we keep harping away at brand consistency? Check out the rhombus-like designs in the top banner — that reflects the same ones that appear in Tesco’s logo.

What Tesco Living has achieved is a great balance of simplicity and boldness. The layout is extremely minimal, but it isn’t dull. Warm and welcoming shades underscore each content category, and the photos add dashes of colors throughout the site. It’s a great example of how the right imagery can achieve an appealing “less-is-more” appearance, especially if that fits in with your overall brand concept.

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10) Crew

Crew Backstage, the blog of the Crew platform for designers and developers, has a fabulously minimalist blog design, but quiet a unique one.

Notice that, above the fold, it features one blog post with a large title, subtitle, and call-to-action to read more.

To the left, there’s an equally minimalist call-to-action that makes it easy for readers to connect with Crew, or learn more. Plus, there’s that consistency again — everything above the fold is the same shade of blue, which has been shown to invoke brand trust.

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11) Innocent Drinks

Not only are the folks at Innocent Drinks great copywriters, but the design of its blog is also a great reminder that blog designs don’t have to get super fancy.

Notice how the logo — displayed in the upper left — is simple, cartoonish, and almost delightfully child-like. It works for Innocent Drinks (hint: childhood innocence), and that brand presence is maintained throughout the company’s blog.

The colorful fonts, for example, match the logo and stay in line with the brand’s casual, playful voice. We also like the easily-navigable archive links on the left, which are complemented by the geometric social sharing buttons on the right.

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12) 500px

Much like Crew, the photography blog, 500px, leads with one featured article and a big, bold, high-definition photo to draw the reader in. That makes is pretty clear what the blog is about — it boasts valuable content on photography with gripping photography.

Plus, how cool is it that the social links are right there, obviously displayed above the fold? They keep readers engaged with the content, and make it easy to share the photography — and, content with images is up to three times as likely to be shared on social media.

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13) BarkPost

It’s no secret that we kind of like dogs here at HubSpot. So when a blog dedicated to life as a dog owner came across our radar, it got our attention.

BarkPost, the blog of canine subscription box company BarkBox, is a great example of design for a number of reasons. First, look how easy it is to subscribe — the call to action is right there, above the featured content. The social share icons are easily noticeable, too — and, of course, all in the brand-matching, trustworthy blue.

We also like that BarkPost draws attention to its sister companies, all of which are owned under the Bark & Co portfolio of brands. But at the same time, the blog doesn’t hock its own products — rather, it serves as an informational resource to dog parents and lovers alike.

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14) Goodwill Industries International

Who says nonprofit organizations can’t blog? Nay, they should — and Goodwill’s clean, colorful navigation (again — the trustworthy blue) draw the reader to the important elements of this blog.

The posts are also neatly positioned and easily accessible to readers. And, visitors can pick the type of information that matters to them the most by choosing a topic from the drop-down menu on the top right.

Finally, we love that there’s a collaborative call to action in the introductory text that invites readers to contribute content to the Goodwill blog. After all, the organizations services have reached 37 million people — here’s a way for them to share their stories, or invite donors to write about why they chose to support Goodwill.

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15) charity: water

Keeping the nonprofit blogging train going is charity: water, which makes excellent use of high-quality photography.

Recently, the organization redesigned its blog with a lengthy post dedicated to its 10-year anniversary. Using that opportunity to share its impact over the past decade, chartiy: water maintained a simplistic design with concise text and bright images from the anniversary event.

Plus, there’s a clear CTA to donate at the top of the page. Placing that above a story about charity: water’s impact is a double-edged sword, by both inspiring people to contribute to the cause while making it easy to do so.

charity water blog-1.png

charity: water blog 2.png

16) Johnny Cupcakes

To clear up any confusion, Johnny Cupcakes doesn’t actually make cupcakes. It makes clothing. But the company has done a great job of playing up its brand’s association with baked goods — its blog uses the subdomain “kitchen.”

Plus, the folks at Johnny Cupcakes know a thing or two about brand consistency across channels. Its blog’s simple color scheme and matching fonts help to create a unified user experience from the shop to general content, all the while throwing in bold, colorful images to catch readers’ attention.

Also, visit the website and have a scroll — we think it’s pretty cool how the background images vary, but stay positionally static for each entry.

Johnny Cupcakes Blog.png

Which other blogs have excellent homepage designs? Share more inspiration with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

download 47 examples of beautiful blog design

  download 47 examples of beautiful blog design


HubSpot Marketing Blog

Online Marketing Best Practices: Software & Technology Marketing

software marketing best practicesAt TopRank Online Marketing, we work with clients in many different industries each facing a unique set of problems.  One of the industries we provide online consulting for regularly is software.  Be it network monitoring, healthcare system and hospital software, email marketing, project management, or B2C software, promoting technology solutions has been a part of our expertise since TopRank was founded over 10 years ago.

Software development continues to become even more valuable in today’s social, mobile and overall digital world as companies begin to migrate what were once offline industries into SaaS and cloud based services.  It wasn’t too long ago that recruiting, sales, and marketing relied heavily on meeting in person or over the phone. With advancements in software and devices, organizations are now able to accomplish the same if not better results at a drastically reduced cost.

Here is where software companies are met with a compelling challenge:  With so many new and previously established software solutions available for easy download and implementation, how can you compete in the marketplace?  It is no longer just a price or feature based conversation.  Companies are struggling just to get their brand front and center with potential customers.  Take Google for example, how often do you search and stray farther than the second page of results before you begin contacting companies to setup a demo of some sort?  Chances are you (and your prospects) don’t go past that first page.

Our internet marketing agency works with many companies that are facing similar struggles: How to attract people looking to buy in such a competitive market?  Companies know that they have a great product but don’t know how to go about getting in front of decision makers and influencers within organizations.  By this point we know that an integration of marketing and sales is necessary for success.  In fact, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. Here’s a great guide to lead nurturing from our SaaS client, Marketo.

Before making software marketing consulting recommendations, it’s important to do some due diligence to figure out key information about the software/technology company and their customers including:

  • Current Situation:  Where are they currently marketing? Sales performance? Leads, sales, order volume, length of sales cycle, cost per lead/sale?
  • Objectives: Where do they want to be both short-term and long-term?
  • Target Audience:  Define customer segments, characteristics and preferences. Who is the customer?
  • Pain Points: What problems are solved for both the prospect and the company they work with if they buy your software/service?
  • Differentiation:  What makes your software or technology different from the competition? What is the value proposition?

Agencies working with internal client marketing teams is an essential part of a successful online marketing engagement.  When the agency can work with internal marketers on strategy and planning together, they are able to determine top ranked objectives and can then tailor the solutions to meet the unique needs of the situation. That’s how top agencies (like TopRank) work with clients vs. providing ala carte or commoditized services.

One of our clients is a leading software company in the recruiting industry.  This client wanted to increase their qualified lead inquiries by at least 100% a month.  A qualified lead was defined as a prospect submitting a request for information, setting up a demonstration, or contacting the company directly.  Through a combination of what we call a “push and pull” communications strategy we were able to significantly exceed initial projections.

Push communications were implemented with the intention of increasing brand awareness of the client as a leader and respected source within their industry.  Pull communications included a series of tactics aimed at educating and encouraging prospects to begin making inquiries regarding their software solutions.

The tactics that were used to draw in prospective customers included:

Many corporate marketers can get tunnel vision when it comes to marketing their software. They may prejudge integrating channels like search or social media and discount the value of outside expertise because of concerns about effectiveness or the idea of change. Whatever the barrier to getting outside expertise is, there are many situations where it can make a world of difference – especially with situations like the one above where a division of an international software company spiked sales and now has processes in place that would have taken years to do on their own. Ongoing online marketing consulting continues to provide value and more than pay for itself with increases in performance, efficiency and effectiveness.

The simple approach of Situation, Objetives, Audience, Pain Points and Differentiation seems straightforward but so many companies are still on the “Features and Benefits” hamster wheel. An outside online marketing service can break free of those confinements and duplicate outcomes with less effort in the long run.

The process and marketing mix above isn’t limited to software and technology of course. What approach does your company take towards software and technology marketing? Are you integrating channels like SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing?

 


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2012. | Online Marketing Best Practices: Software & Technology Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Online Marketing Best Practices: Software & Technology Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Digital Newsletters as Content Marketing: Pros, Cons, Best Practices and Award Winning Examples

Digital NewslettersIt seems fitting to discuss digital newsletters during the month of October, since the birth of email harkens back 40 years ago this month.

Love it, hate it or tolerate it, without email marketing, digital marketers would have been responsible for the destruction of many, many more trees without it!

Digital newsletters are scheduled, recurring messages from companies to a list of subscribers that usually has a web page counterpart or archive which represents a specific type of content.

In contrast, many Email marketing efforts can include automated messages triggered by an auto-responder, e-blasts to a rented list or a list shared by a complementary business, or as part of a drip campaign run through a marketing automation platform.

Like other smart content marketing tactics, digital newsletters tend to follow a consistent editorial format directed to specific customer segments. Newsletters are often used to build and maintain strong relationships with prospects, customers and clients by providing useful tips, information and company news.

You can find TopRank’s digital newsletter here.

A winning newsletter design incorporates a variety of visuals and smart copywriting, which are important elements that contribute to a company’s overall impression and brand message. TopRank’s experience with marketing automation and cross-channel promotion gives us a unique perspective on how best to utilize both email marketing and digital newsletters, depending on your business goals.

A study by the Nielsen Norman Group suggests that readers become emotionally attached to e-newsletters and look forward to receiving them, provided they are timely and informative.

Many digital newsletters follow a tried and true format for content creation:

  1. News: Relevant business news or even industry news in order to keep your audience up to date
  2. Educational content: Emails that provide your recipients with content that discusses new concepts and helps expand their knowledge on a certain subject
  3. Reviews: Review useful sources that you assume or know your audience can benefit from
  4. Top Tips: Create a series of useful tips about your product or service

Pros

  • Timely. Digital communication is hands-down the timelier format for news, updates and announcements.
  • Cost-effective. The savings on printing and postage when compared to the print version are obvious.
  • Searchable and sharable. Because a digital newsletter represents a web document, it’s a searchable piece of content and can be optimized. Although search engines can read PDF documents, it would be even more effective if an HTML page were created, increasing its ‘crawlability’ and ‘shareability.’ (At a minimum, fill in the Document Properties found by right-clicking the PDF.)
  • Cross linking. Linking to other relevant internal pages as well as related informational sites or articles of interest enrich the reader’s experience and regard for your company and its communications. Your digital archive also represents evergreen content, increasing the chance that it will drive online traffic and the possibility of gaining new subscribers.
  • Thought leadership. Think pieces and trend analysis delivered on a regular basis can position your company as an industry expert sharing its know-how (B2B) or establishing your brand as a trend setter (B2C).

Cons

  • Volatile communications environment. With the continual blurring of work and personal life, your digital newsletter hits the recipient’s inbox accompanied by a jumble of spam, other commercial email and inter-office exchanges. Even recipients who have opted-in to receiving your newsletter may likely delete it after a brief viewing.
  • Strain on resources. Depending on the quality and ambitions of your digital newsletter, outside costs of researching, writing and designing it may be comparable to a printed piece.
  • Mobile usability. New research finds improved usability metrics for subscribing to newsletters, but problems with reading them on mobile devices.
  • Budget and timeline. Because digital and traditional marketing techniques are merging, it’s increasingly difficult to manage and fund digital newsletters on their own. Getting budget approval to publish a quality digital newsletter may mean poaching another department’s budget or sharing internal resources, slowing down deliverables.

What the Experts Are Saying:

“Content is a key component of email marketing for lead nurturing and providing prospects with information about products, services and news about the company and industry. At the same time, email marketing is an essential part of content marketing in getting that content in front of prospects and customers.” Chris Baggott, Chairman and co-founder, Compendium, MarketingSherpa

“We’ve moved from personalization to individualization. It used to be enough to simply add ‘Dear Joe’ in the body of an email. Now, marketers need to change the message and the offer based on the customer’s needs, brand awareness and email interactions.” Sheryl Pattek, VP-principal analyst, Forrester Research.

Vertical Response

Award Winning Digital Newsletter

Who better than an application service provider to win for Best Email Online Newsletter Campaign judged by the Web Marketing Association? In June 2011, this self-service email solutions provider completely revamped their VR Buzz newsletter strategy.

Getting it Right

  • Invested in a completely redesigned newsletter to reflect their new branding
  • Created compelling content and visual design, ensuring consistency across all channels
  • Produced multiple versions based on where the subscriber was in the marketing life cycle

This effort resulted in a substantial increase in engagement, with open rates in the 40 to 45 percent range and click-through rates in the 3 to 10 percent range.

Dominion Credit Union

Engaging Customers with Digital Newsletter

Winning the award for Electronic Marketing from the Marketing Association of Credit Unions and an award of merit from CUES Golden Mirror Awards™ who honor imaginative marketing efforts from around the credit union world, it just goes to show that generating buzz can come in small packages. This is a true digital newsletter created in PDF format for members to revisit on the website at their convenience.

Getting it Right

  • Newsletter archive link hosted on their website home page, which helps with SEO
  • Included relevant news to its member, featuring their new mobile solutions in the headline
  • Educated members about current market interest rates
  • Featured tips on how to save money during the upcoming holiday season

Digital Newsletters serve an incredibly useful function as a content marketing tactic. Reader segmentation helps newsletter editorial align with the specific interests of subscribers, creating a win, win content marketing experience for brands and readers alike. Whether reader lists are fed by brand social communities and networks or other company online marketing, digital newsletters help instill confidence and trust that guides prospects along the sales cycle from consideration to purchase and beyond through retention and advocacy.

If you liked this post, be sure to read about our full list of content marketing tactics.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2013. | Digital Newsletters as Content Marketing: Pros, Cons, Best Practices and Award Winning Examples | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Digital Newsletters as Content Marketing: Pros, Cons, Best Practices and Award Winning Examples appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

12 of the Best ‘Contact Us’ Page Examples You’ll Want to Copy

best-contact-us-page-examples.jpeg

When you think of great website design, you probably think about a website’s homepage, or their blog, or their product pages.

But what about a website’s ‘Contact Us’ page?

Far too many website designers put contact pages near the bottom of their priority list in terms of copywriting and design. Think about how many contact pages you’ve stumbled upon that look like they were built in the 1990s, even if the rest of the website is beautiful and updated.

That, my friends, is a huge mistake. Your ‘Contact Us’ page is one of the top four most important pages on your website. For most companies, it’s typically one of the most-visited site pages.

So, what do great ‘Contact Us’ pages look like?

Typically, the best contact pages …

  • Explain why someone should contact them, and describe how they can help solve their visitors’ problems.
  • Include an email and phone number so visitors can quickly find the right information.
  • Include a short form using fields that’ll help the business understand who’s contacting them.
  • Include a call-to-action to keep people on their website — and provide them with another option if they don’t want to complete the form.
  • Showcase the company’s thought leadership, whether that’s by including a list of recent blog posts or articles about the company in the press.
  • Link to active social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to give visitors a way to engage with the business.
  • Redirect to a thank-you page that explains when and how you’ll be contacting them.

Ready to get inspired? Below, we’ve curated 12 examples of some of the best ‘Contact Us’ pages out there. Check ’em out — and think about how you can incorporate some of these ideas into your own contact page design. (To browse more ‘Contact Us’ pages, check out Crayon’s ongoing collection of contact page designs here.)

12 of the Best ‘Contact Us’ Page Examples

1) Tune

There’s a lot going well for Tune’s contact page: the beautiful design, the calls-to-action, the clearly displayed contact information, and the form below the fold for visitors who want to get in touch with specific inquiries.

What I love the most about their page, though, is how welcoming they are. With copy like “We’re Here to Help!” and “Reach out to us anytime and we’ll happily answer your questions,” it makes visitors feel like they’re being taken care of. Many business’ contact pages are rather cold — but the more friendly you make your page’s copy, the better you’ll make your visitors feel. After all, you should want them to contact you so you can help them and start building a relationship.

tune-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

2) Achieve3000

Like many businesses out there, Achieve300 has a lot of different types of people visiting their website — and what these people want to contact them about can vary widely. That’s why they’ve decided to go deeper than the one-size-fits-all approach.

Below that nice hero image and a few words explaining what visitors will get when they contact them, you’ll find three options: You can request a demo, you can reach out to a sales rep, or you can get in touch with customer support. Each one of these options leads to a separate landing page, like the one I’ve included below this screenshot. What a great way to cater to the most common needs of your various web visitors.

achieve3000-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

Here’s the landing page form made specifically for customer support inquiries:

achieve3000-customer-support-contact-page.png

3) Choice Screening

Hands down, the best thing about Choice Screening’s ‘Contact Us’ page is their copy. It doesn’t get much better than this — all starting with that concise, delightful “Talk to a Human” header.

Following all that great copy is a well-organized page with contact information including emails for every different department, followed by a form. The form’s a little lengthy for most businesses, but for a business that runs background checks of all kinds, the form fields are likely necessary to help them organize all their inquiries.

When considering how long your own forms should be, think about whether you’d rather have more inquiries coming in, or higher quality inquiries coming in. As long as you have other, easier avenues for folks to contact you, a longer form can be OK for some businesses.

choice-screening-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

4) Atlas 1031 Exchange

At first glance, Atlas 2031 Exchange’s contact page doesn’t have the sexiest of designs. But when you look closely, you’ll realize that it has every single aspect of a great ‘Contact Us’ page — and that starts with functionality.

The page explains thoroughly how responsive they are to questions: “We are incredibly responsive to your requests and value your questions.” Then they actually list out what people will get when they ask a question, including a promise for a short response time of 12 hours or fewer. The page also includes easy-to-read contact information, social media buttons, links to offers, and even a list of recently published blog posts. Well done.

atlas-2031-exchange-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

5) Morroni

Let’s be honest … these days, most people would much rather fill out a form than get on the phone and talk to someone. When choosing what to ask people in your forms, make sure you choose ones that’ll help your specific business understand the person contacting you — and even help you qualify them as a potential lead.

Of course, some people do like picking up the phone … hence the delightful quip before the phone number. We also like Morroni’s challenge-response test to figure out whether visitors are human: “How’s your math? 2+6 = ?.”

morroni-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

6) Dubsat

“How can we help you?”

That’s a classic customer service question — and if you think about it, isn’t a contact page kind of like a place to offer great customer service?

That’s how the folks at Dubsat frame their contact page. Below the nice hero image is that simple question, followed by a dropdown menu to help personalize the experience. If visitors choose to talk to sales, they’ll see one form show up below the fold. If they choose to get support for one of Dubsat’s specific services, they’ll see another one show up.

They also show their general contact information in a fun way, too. Keep scrolling and you’ll find a visual list of the cities where they have locations. Hover your mouse over those cities, and the image changes to that location on a map, along with all the necessary contact information. Very beautifully and cleverly designed.

dubsat-contact-us-cities.gif

Here’s what the whole page looks like:

dubsat-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

7) Pixpa

You’d be surprised how many ‘Contact Us’ pages don’t include a call-to-action. Although the main purpose of your contact page is to help people get in touch with your company, there’ll always be folks who land on the page and don’t want to fill out the form. That’s where a little secondary CTA can fit in nicely.

It can be as simple as a button leading to your blog. Or, it can lead people to demo your product, download a how-to guide, or watch a video. The folks over at Pixpa chose to add a CTA at the bottom of their ‘Contact Us’ page for a free trial. That way, they’re providing value to the folks who land on the page and really just want to talk to a sales rep directly.

pixpa-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

8) PeopleMetrics

Sometimes, the simplest approach is the best approach. PeopleMetrics’ contact page is clean, well written, and does exactly what it’s supposed to do. They know that most of the people who land on their contact page are scanning for the easiest and best way to get in touch, so they didn’t let any heavy design get in the way.

To make people’s lives even easier, they let you use your Facebook or Google Apps login, shortening the conversion path even further. Plus, we love how conversational and fun the copy is: “Feeling formal? Then fill this out and we’ll get back to you.”

peoplemetrics-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

9) Legalia

Here’s another contact page with a clean, functional design. All the information you need to know, including a short form, is consolidated into a smaller space that doesn’t feel crowded. One way they accomplish this is by changing those large images of the building into maps of the locations — which you can do by clicking the “voir le plan” (“view the map”) button below the address.

legalia-voir-le-plan-button.gif

I’d also like to point out a small but important detail for businesses who have international customers. Check out how Legalia included the prefix for their country’s code when listing their contact phone number. Many people overlook this if they aren’t used to dialing international prefixes themselves, but it’s really helpful for your international colleagues and clients to have it right on there. Here’s a list of country codes if you don’t know yours.

And here’s what the whole page looks like:

legalia-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

10) Elluminati

The folks at Elluminati focus their page on location, starting with the hero image at the top — which is actually an embedded Google Map of their location. Users can click on the map, zoom in and out, and search for directions from the Google Maps app right from that embedded map — which is helpful for everyone, including mobile users.

And while white text can be a bit jarring in some cases, it works well against the eye-catching, block color background. We also love the more subtle, very smooth-looking design elements they’ve included, like the social media buttons that fill in with color when you hover your mouse.

elluminati-contact-page-social.gif

Here’s what the whole thing looks like:

elluminati-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

11) Weifield Group Contracting

With the continuing rise of mobile web browsing and Google heavily favoring mobile-friendly websites on their search engine results pages, it’s important that all pages on your website — including your ‘Contact Us’ page — are mobile-friendly.

This includes simplifying your navigation, keeping forms short and sweet, including large CTA buttons that are easily tappable with a thumb, and large form fields that make it easy for folks to fill it out on their mobile devices instead of having to pinch and zoom.

The Weifield Group’s contact page is a great example of one that is mobile-friendly and responsive. Check out the desktop version of their contact page first, followed by their contact page on mobile — and note how they’ve optimized every part of their page for mobile. The text is large, the form fields are easy to fill out, and their CTA button is large and easily tappable, making for a much more seamless mobile experience.

Here’s the desktop version:

weifield-group-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

And here’s the mobile version:

wefield-group-contact-us-mobile-1.png weifield-group-contact-us-mobile-2.png

HubSpot Customers: If your website is on the Content Optimization System (COS), then your site is already mobile-friendly from a technical point of view. The HubSpot COS uses responsive design to adapt to any mobile device and fully passes the sniff test on Google’s new algorithm.

12) Survicate

Survicate’s contact page is another example of a beautifully simple layout combined with friendly, welcoming copy. I love the subheader below the fold and just above the form, which reads: “Let’s talk about your project.” That kind of conversational, colloquial language is exactly the kind of copy that makes visitors feel closer to a brand.

The form itself is simple, with large form fields and CTA buttons — making it very mobile-friendly. Below that, they’ve laid out all the typical contact information — office address, phone number, email, hours of operation, etc. — in a way that’s easy to read and scan.

Finally, I love that their icons and primary CTA reflect the same color yellow as their logo. All of these simple touches make for a clean, visually appealing design.

survicate-contact-us-page.png

[View the full ‘Contact Us’ page here.]

So there you have it: a list of some of the best ‘Contact Us’ pages out there. Take a look at your business’ contact page and see how it stacks up — or if there are any changes you can make to give your site visitors a better, easier, and more enjoyable experience.

Which great ‘Contact Us’ pages have you found that are worth adding to this list? Share with us in the comments below.

download 50 examples of brilliant homepage design
HubSpot Marketing Blog

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

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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.

Tough_Mudder_Snapchat.gif

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:

Tough_Mudder_Training_Resources.gif

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.

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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:

Benefit_Facebook_Live_Comments.png

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”:

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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