Tag Archives: marketing

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Virtual Reality

Customers are more inclined to engage with or purchase from brands they feel the strongest connection with. This isn’t a new development. What is new is the definition of the term “engagement” itself, or more accurately, what defines a customer’s engagement.

For many customers today, an experience is inauthentic if it’s not interactive. Meaning, they have to be able to reach out and feel like they’re grabbing the thing you’re selling, which is a far cry from the days where leaving a comment on a blog post counted as a sufficient interaction.

71% of consumers think a brand that uses virtual reality is forward-thinking. And however you feel about the term “forward-thinking,” one thing is for sure: these brands stand out and gain consumer attention.Click here to sharpen your skills with the help of our content marketing  workbook.

Despite what you might think about VR, it’s not a completely inaccessible marketing tactic. Creating a content marketing strategy for virtual reality isn’t that different from a normal content marketing strategy, but it requires an understanding of engagement through interactivity.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for VR

Keep Your Existing Audience in Mind

How does your ideal customer consume your content already? Is it through a weekly webinar or Q&A? Or maybe a daily vlog from the CEO’s desk? Whatever content routine you’ve created, you can continue that strategy while incorporating VR technology.

For example, if your primary medium is Facebook video, you can start producing virtual reality content on Facebook Spaces Although Spaces is still in beta, it’s poised to become a Facebook standard in the not-so-distant future. There’s no better time than the present to start thinking of ways to make it benefit your brand.

Does your business have an app? One emerging trend for app-based businesses is to infuse virtual reality content for use with a Samsung or iPhone paired VR headset. Take mega-ticket marketplace Stubhub as an example. They’ve now added a 360 degree virtual reality view to every ticket purchase, allowing customers to see the view from their actual seats.

Screenshot via Recode

These virtual views have been available on Stubhub.com for a while now, but used to be standard (rather than 360 degree) images. Thanks to the incorporation of VR, the brand has enhanced their customer’s existing experience, and helped them better navigate to a purchase.

Just think of how many times you’ve decided against buying tickets because you weren’t sure about the view. Stubhub is effectively solving this problem by tweaking their existing content to enable VR capabilities.

Don’t Just Content, Create An Experience

The notion of a content marketing strategy combined with virtual reality might be misleading. After all, virtual reality is not about the content, it’s about the user experience. Thus, your content creation strategy should aim to be immersive for the consumer, giving them an in-depth view at your product offerings.

Store “Walk-Throughs”

Take the customers through your store, showing them your best inventory and product offerings first hand, like Shopify. The e-commerce giant is about to release their all-new thread studio, which is a VR app that will take consumers into a virtual studio to view t-shirt designs and other apparel.

Image via Shopify

Once they’ve mixed and matched colors and found the design that’s best for their project, they are sent to Shopify’s print-on-demand provider, Printful. From here, they can turn their virtual vision into a real-life, tangible product. As brick-and-mortar stores continue to shut their doors, they’ll be replaced by these virtual stores that allow consumers to walk through and browse without leaving the house.

Seek Long Distance Customers — Yes, Really

Not that you should only seek customers who live far away, but VR will make it easier to craft content to a more widely located buyer pool.

Just think about how VR will transform the home buying process. If you’re a realtor, you’ll be able to take potential buyers through a completely virtual tour of your property. People from around the world can see a home inside and out like they’re visiting in person.

Forbes writes about this in their article about VR in real estate, only they add another possibility to the mix. They posit that realtors would be able to allow their clients the ability to make custom changes to the home through the VR app, helping the user experience become more interactive, and giving clients a clearer vision of what it’d be like to live in the property.

Show Consumers What Products Will Look Like

Giving consumers a visual of what furniture and household items will look like is an important way to encourage them to purchase.

Home improvement giant Lowe’s has already added a VR element that mirrors the home customization idea. Called Holoroom, it takes customers through a model home to provide a look at what the space would look like with their products.

IKEA has been adopting a similar concept for years, in the form of an augmented reality product catalog. They also recently launched an augumented reality app called Ikea Place.


Image via: Architectural Digest

For the record, augmented reality is very similar to virtual reality, only the former layers artificial elements on top of a realistic background whereas the latter generates an entirely artificial environment.

Provide an Emotional Journey

Honor Everywhere provides a virtual reality experience to terminally ill military veterans, allowing them to “visit” the war memorials in Washington D.C. Volunteers are bringing VR headsets into assisted-living centers to give to the veterans and let them enjoy the experience.


Image via WTOP.com

Although there’s nothing quite as unique as this cause, you can still find ways to take customers on an emotional journey through your own VR content.

“Emotional” doesn’t have to mean sadness: think in terms of what your audience is most passionate about and produce content that addresses those areas.

For example, if you’re writing a travel blog that doubles as an affiliate site, your goal is to truly sell the one-of-a-kind experience a customer will feel by purchasing your vacation package. Through the immersiveness of virtual reality, you can take effectively transport them to the beaches of Rio de Janiero, or atop the Eye of London in a millisecond of time.

You can even take a page out of the always adventurous MythBusters’ playbook, and give consumers a first person tour of a wrecked ship that rests in shark-infested waters.

There’s nothing like a swim among sharks to rouse people’s’ emotions.

Embrace Your Location

If the goal is to immerse your virtual audience into a new space, then it only makes sense to show them a fun location.

Offer them a virtual tour around your city, show them a famous landmark, take them to a special event. It’s mid-July at the time of this writing, so a San Diego company might want to show their audience around Comic Con — just an example.

Use Outside Content

Perhaps the most underrated — or under talked about — aspect to content marketing is the cultivation of a community of users, many of whom can contribute their own content.

Thanks to tools like Facebook Spaces, Periscope, and now YouTube, your brand can easily integrate user-produced VR videos onto your website.

Reach out to consumers through channels like social media, email marketing campaigns, and calls-to-action on your website.

What to Do as a Content Creator?

Should you overhaul your entire content strategy to make room for virtual reality? For most of us, the answer is no.

But 2017 is the year we should at least start acknowledging its existence, and begin experimenting with it. Content creators should A/B test with and without virtual reality technology, then gauge the user’s response.

Rather than dedicating your entire site to VR, start with individual posts or pages, then begin building as you see fit.

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7 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make


I have money in my savings account because my bank has a built-in auto-deposit process. I’m not logging into my account every day and moving money around, but when I do log in, I can see the progress I’ve made toward my goals by setting my account to automate deductions.

Think of marketing automation like auto-deducting money from your checking account and putting it into savings: The automatic process lets you invest in your future goals in an easier way than if you did it manually.

Marketing automation can play a significant role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy, but there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

We want to help you understand marketing automation, and how and when to use it to your organization’s benefit. In this post, we’ll discuss traps marketers can fall into when incorporating marketing automation and alternatives that solve for these challenges.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Quite simply, marketing automation refers to the software that exists to automate marketing actions — actions like email, social media, and more. All of these automated actions are designed with the concept of lead nurturing in mind. In other words, marketers are creating and automating various types of content with the goal of actively attracting, qualifying, and moving prospects through the sales funnel towards a purchase.

And the marketing automation industry is huge — Emailmonday estimates that 49% of companies use marketing automation software, and Marketing Automation Insider estimates that the industry is worth $ 1.62 billion per year.

The trouble is, because marketing automation software has grown so significantly as a part of the inbound marketing movement, some marketers aren’t adopting it correctly. Let’s dig into some of the most common marketing automation mistakes below.

7 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

1) You’ve invested in marketing automation without an inbound lead generation strategy.

The Problem:

You’ve purchased and started using marketing automation software, but you don’t have a strong content strategy in place yet. As a result, you aren’t attracting enough qualified leads to your website, so the ROI of your marketing automation software is low.

To solve this problem, you might be considering buying an email contact list to build the size of your database.

The Solution:

Before you buy an email list, don’t.

You see, it’s not a sound lead generation strategy to purchase email contact lists for a few reasons. For one, people don’t generally like being contacted unsolicited, and you don’t want to irritate potential customers. Additionally, purchased email lists have generally high churn rates — because the leads are often unqualified — meaning your database won’t have the long-term growth that you’re looking for.

Instead of going that route, focus on developing an inbound marketing strategy aimed at attracting folks that actually want to hear from you. Write blog posts, create content offers, calls-to-action, and landing pages, and optimize your website so it will rank well in organic search. These efforts will ensure that your content is being discovered by your audience. Then, once you start generating more leads, you’ll be able to nurture them effectively with automated emails and social media posts.

2) You don’t have a goal for your marketing automation.

The Problem:

You’re sending out multiple automated email and social media messages without an end goal in mind. 

The Solution:

Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you’ll want to assign these goals to each automated effort — social media, email workflows, and so on — to ensure it’s easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual Workflows App (currently in beta) lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow. A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflow that achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

3) You don’t segment your email list.

The Problem:

You have a database full of qualified leads, but you’re using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that aren’t customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails aren’t useful to them.

The Solution:

Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so you’re sending specific emails to specific people that they’re more likely to open.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 77% of email marketing ROI came from targeted, segmented campaigns in 2015, and segmented emails generate 58% of all revenue. Seems like a must-have strategy, right? Unfortunately, only 42% of email marketers are sending targeted messages.

With the right marketing automation software, it’s easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens of criteria, both demographic and behavioral.

Need inspiration? We recently published a blog post with 30 ideas for email list segmentation from real brands.

4) You send too many emails.

The Problem:

Perhaps your email list isn’t segmented, or maybe you’re a little overzealous with your marketing automation software. Whatever the reason, you’re annoying potential prospects by sending way too many emails.

The Solution:

Strategically send fewer emails.

When it comes to your email database, focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to have a lower volume of leads with higher engagement rates than a massive database of people who don’t open your emails.

Why? Because higher quality leads are more likely to become customers.

A staggering 78% of customers recently surveyed by HubSpot Research have unsubscribed because the brand was sending too many emails. To avoid sending one of many such emails, make sure that every single email you send provides value to leads in a way that they won’t be able to help but click.

5) You’re only automating your email marketing strategy.

The Problem:

You use your marketing automation software to send out emails, and not much else.

The Solution:

Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that don’t seem time consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time you’ll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

6) You’re only sharing your marketing automation efforts within your marketing department.

The Problem:

You have marketing automation set up only for email marketing, social media, and other lead activities that are only impacting your marketing team’s bottom line.

The Solution:

Use a “smarketing” approach, and make your marketing automation work for sales reps as well.

Think bigger than just the marketing team: What processes would help your sales team if they were automated?

For example, if there were a process in place that alerted reps to when their leads were checking out parts of your website, that would help inform their next call or email. When a lead fills out a form, it could trigger a specific email send from marketing and a follow-up call from their sales rep. Marketing automation software also helps users set follow-up tasks and to-do lists, which reps could use to keep track of the many leads they’re working at a given time.

Take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level by making processes easier for team members across the board to achieve their goals with the help of marketing automation.

7) You use too many different tools.

The Problem:

Roughly half of marketers use marketing automation software, and those who do often combine different strategies into a “Frankensystem” of tools to achieve their bottom line.

For example, they might start on a whiteboard, move to a spreadsheet, then shift onto an online flowchart maker, and only then will they use marketing automation software. This system is problematic in a few ways — it’s time consuming, numbers can be incorrectly analyzed, and communication is complicated.

The Solution:

Invest in all-in-one marketing automation software.

The point of marketing automation is to make things easier and more efficient, and your team won’t achieve that if you’re spending too much time updating different documents or manually targeting your leads database.

All-in-one marketing automation software offers a variety of criteria options to target your audience, as well as visualization tools so you can see how your marketing automation efforts are working together. That means you’ll be spending less time writing out numbers and emailing spreadsheets to your team members, and more time implementing strategies designed to qualify leads.

What’s the biggest challenge you encountered when you purchased marketing automation software? Share with us in the comments below.

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What Successful Marketing Looks Like Today: 8 Foundational Principles [Infographic]


When you think of the basics of marketing, you might be thinking: Okay, create an awesome website; design and send some cool emails; post strategically to social media; maybe supplement with some advertising.

But what about the principles behind your campaigns? When you’re planning and doing all of these marketing activities, what motivates your decisions?

Today, the most successful marketers aren’t just crossing items off their to-do lists; they’re taking a holistic, adaptive approach to their marketing. They’re elevating the customer experience, building personalized connections, adapting to the evolution of technology, attracting customers to them using inbound marketing, and more.

When marketers take this approach, they start creating a better brand experience and driving real business results. To learn more about the eight pillars of modern marketing, check out the infographic below from Olive & Company.


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HubSpot Marketing Blog

Fanbytes launches its programmatic Snapchat influencer marketing platform


Influencer marketing continues to grab the attention of brands everywhere, especially in light of the ongoing attack on advertising through ad blockers.

But one network that has proven difficult to tap into — thanks to its stance on third-party tools using its API and difficulties measuring performance metrics — is Snapchat.

Today, Fanbytes — a UK startup run by a group of young entrepreneurs and engineers — is announcing the launch of its programmatic Snapchat influencer network and performance measurement platform. The product uses a combination of both content and technology to solve the problem of how to use Snap Inc’s ephemeral messaging platform for influencer marketing purposes.

The company itself is a testament to the influence being wielded by the “Snapchat generation.” Founded by three 20-somethings, it has grown into a seven-figure business in less than 18 months. Instead of following the agency business model, Fanbytes has made its technology available as a self-service platform.

So how does it work?

Fanbytes — which started out by providing influencer marketing content on YouTube for clients such as Adidas, Puma, and Disney — has built a media network that has already clocked up an impressive 5 million views.

Customers select the audience they want to target, and Fanbytes will then determine the best mix of influencers to reach that target demographic. This includes the ability to target by location.

“The influencers create the content, and they distribute it across Snapchat,” Timothy Armoo, CEO, and cofounder at Fanbytes, told me. “Many times, there is the opportunity to also do cross-promotion around an influencer’s Twitter and YouTube audiences. We’ve built a SaaS tool to help brands manage their account.”

Fanbytes then uses its technology layer, without using the Snapchat API, to assess performance and understand how well the campaign is performing — measuring views, screenshots, and story completion rates.


“We’ve built a layer of semantic data technology on top of our platforms, enabling brands to find the perfect influencers,” Armoo said. “We’ve developed our proprietary technology, which interfaces with the Snapchat app, enabling brands to be able to measure performance and analytics across Snapchat. It was a hard technical feat — it’s what happens when a group of geeky 21-year-olds go into a room for a week and refuse to leave until it’s done.”

Fanbytes also makes use of smart, short URLs to promote “virtual click-through.” Snapchat doesn’t allow for actual click-through from snaps, but with a short, memorable URL, users can head straight from the story to their browser to type in a URL that invariably leads to a landing page with information, an offer, or a sign-up form.

“We’ve built an analytics dashboard helping brands track results,” Armoo said. “Everything from attribution to short links is included in the dashboard, enabling brands to get a full 360-degree view of how they are doing.”

While initially focusing on the entertainment industry, Fanbytes is launching with an extended network that takes in such verticals as fashion, beauty, gaming, and fitness. The company estimates its launch network will generate around 50 million monthly views. Pricing is variable based on the campaign.

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Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew?

For many people who have grown up celebrating Thanksgiving, the holiday for giving thanks has a underlying theme: Winning the wishbone. Besides the mounds of wonderful food and extended family gathered at many US households, there might be plenty of turkey to go around, but there is only one wishbone.

Believe it or not, competitive pursuit after a Thanksgiving turkey’s wishbone is a perfect metaphor for understanding better customer centric content marketing.  Prepare yourself for a Thanksgiving themed post without the tryptophan side effects.

5 Steps of A Wishbone Strategy Applied to Content Marketing
Here’s how the wishbone strategy works and how you can apply it to your content marketing strategy.


Step 1: Lobby Mom to ensure turkey is on the Thanksgiving menu. Every year, there are Moms across the country who set their sights on trying some new tradition without any input from the people who will be eating the meal. To avoid a holiday dining catastrophe, kids start begging said Moms to get a Thanksgiving turkey as soon as Halloween is over. Content marketers need to listen to and understand prospect and customer interests to ensure they provide the information that matters most. To this end, consider the content your target audience needs at every point in the purchase cycle from awareness through post purchase support.

Depending on your product or services, this can translate to a variety of different types of content. Here’s an extensive list to choose from, and don’t forget to serve seasonally appropriate content which resonates with your audience. To carry on with our Thanksgiving theme, an example could be links to cool Turkey carving apps, Thanksgiving recipes or instructions for how to make paper decorations look like turkeys.


Photo Credit: carbonated via Flickr

Step 2: Beg Dad to carve the turkey. While this seems like pandering, in our house, Dad was a surgeon when it came to carving the bird and, unlike Mom, he carefully preserved the wishbone for a fair battle. As a marketer, it’s important to go beyond just defining your target audience to understanding what various segments want and need to attract and maintain their attention. Just as many of us play up to Dad’s carving skills, our content must also tightly synch with the needs of prospective readers.


Photo Credit: lapstrake via Flickr

Step 3: Be chosen a wishbone contender. Again, this requires advance planning. It helps to go that extra step with regard to chores and homework as well as positioning yourself nearest to the turkey when it appears fresh from the kitchen. Depending on your family, getting the wishbone can be a situation where, if you snooze, you loose. Similarly, content marketing must be available where prospects are searching for it. We all know there is a dizzying array of apps, ads, channels, widgets (and so on…) vying for our prospects’ attention.

Think strategically in terms of your communication channels such as campaign-oriented website landing pages and emails, seasonally appropriate blog posts from your CEO and instructional videos from product development. Of course don’t just duplicate, rather integrate the appropriate versions of your content on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Depending on your audience, consider third party media placement such as providing articles for other media or sponsored content. Make it easy and compelling for your prospects to choose you through relevant content.


Photo Credit: Roger Smith via Flickr

Step 4: Assess your wishbone stance. When you’re ready to wrestle for wishbone bragging rights, it’s essential to realize that an effective strategy is all about positioning. You must get your thumb as close as possible to the tip of the wishbone. Further, it helps to let your competitor take a first try since this weakens the bone on his side. In terms of content marketing, asses your messaging stance and ensure your tailored content is integrated with the rest of your marketing. This includes linking to the appropriate products in your blog posts, providing commerce on channels like Facebook where your prospects are engaging with you, or sending a post-purchase emails with helpful product usage tips. To help inspire you, check out this Clutter Control Freak post that links to the specific product, a holiday card keeper.


Step 5: Make a good wish. Of course, all of this work is for naught if you don’t have a really good wish. In marketing terms, (I know this is a reach, but bear with me) this means having a contextually relevant call-to-action for your prospect to take the next step in the purchase process. A problem for many marketers is that once you’ve primed your prospect and they leave without buying, they still have an unmet need. Therefore they’ll probably purchase from another firm and, as long as they’re somewhat satisfied, they may not return to your firm – ever.

The one content marketing element missing from this wishbone list is ensuring you’ve got great information that, like the smell of your mother’s fresh cooked turkey, will lure people in. Without quality content, it’s difficult to get your prospects, customers and the public to return for seconds and thirds. You may get them once, but after that you’ll find yourself searching for new customers. Therefore, pack your content with real protein and nutrition to engage your readers over and over again.

What else would you add to this wishbone strategy? How are you ensuring your content marketing remains focused on your target audience’s needs while working to get them to close the deal?

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2011. | Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew? | http://www.toprankblog.com

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5 Email Marketing Tips for Increased Open Rates

email marketing tips

Is your message blending in or standing out in an inbox filled with emails?

Email marketing has become an essential part of engaging and targeting prospects and clients online. In fact, eMarketer reports that 97% of small businesses use email marketing to connect with customers.   There are many aspects that make up an effective email marketing program, but today I’ll focus on how marketers can increase their campaign open rates.

Email content is essential, but getting people to actually open your email is a hurdle many marketers find hard to overcome.  A deep understanding of your customer base as well as their needs and habits for proper segmentation can be key in creating an effective email marketing strategy that produces high open rates.

As marketers we must ask ourselves: If I received this email from another company, would I open it?

#1 – Make a Good First Impression

What are the two things that email recipients see before actually opening an email?  Who the email is from, and what the subject line is.  These two items are your prime real estate for enticing your audience to view your email as opposed to simply trashing it and moving on.

The Sender: Recent studies have shown that adding a personalized feel to the email can be key in increasing open rates.  Instead of sending the email from [email protected] instead utilize the first and last name of a company employee.  Setting up an email to send out messages on behalf of a company CEO or President can have a large impact on open rates.  I would also like to note that many spammers are sending out emails with female first names (without a last name) so be aware of this spamming trend and try to avoid it.

The Subject Line:  If ever there were an opportunity to convince your audience to read this is it.  Email marketing service MailChip has provided some best practice approaches to creating subject lines which include:

  • 4 Words or Phrases to Avoid: free, help, percent off, reminder
  • Localization Helps: providing a city name can increase open rates
  • Newsletter Half Life: using the exact same subject line for each newsletter can decrease open rates
  • Subject Line Strength: keep your subject to 50 characters or less with the exception of highly targeted audiences

To see some additional tips as well as some subject line examples that have been tested as well as the open rate see the study here.

#2 – Timing Isn’t Everything, But It is Important

This is a tactic that requires some common sense as well as some experimentation.  If your emails are sent too early in the morning they can get lost in the shuffle of other emails either sent late at night or early in the morning.  If your emails are sent too late in the afternoon your customer may see it as one more thing to review before quitting time and put off reading it until the morning (which will pile it under even more emails).  It is also important to keep in mind your audience.

If you are running a B2C campaign your audience may have time to check their emails either during lunch or after work.  Try experimenting with time frames that match up with that notion.  If your campaign has a B2B focus I would recommend sending emails in the afternoon or around 7 or 8 in the morning when you know they’ll be reading.  If your email marketing system allows you can always try doing some A and B testing utilizing different time frames to test open rates.

#3 – Avoid Spam Filter Traps

Spam filters analyze a large list of criteria when determining an email’s “spam score”.  If your email campaigns total spam score is over a certain threshold then it is sent to the dreaded Spam inbox.  There are some common mistakes that are easily avoidable if you know what to look for.

  • Spammy phrases such as “Once in a lifetime opportunity!”
  • Too many !!!!!!!!!
  • Sloppy HTML

For additional tips to avoid being sent to the spam filter be sure to visit SpamAssassin.

#4 – Get Rid of Dead Weight

Depending on which email service you use there should be a report that allows you to determine which emails are either bouncing or which subscribers are not opening your emails on a consistent basis.  Your open rate can be dramatically increased by pulling people from your list who never open your emails.  I wouldn’t recommend deleting their emails completely.  Instead, do some digging to find where the email subscriber originally came from so that you can create a more targeted campaign to get them re-engaged.

#5 – Refine the Sign Up Process & Email Targeting

Make it easy for people to sign up to receive email correspondence from your company.  Having potential customers jump through hoops to receive your marketed material is a poor strategy.  In order to make this process effective and engaging perhaps you could provide a fulfillment piece or whitepaper during the initial sign up as a take away and then continue to market based upon their needs.

The more refined your targets within your campaigns are the more likely you are to achieve success with your email marketing campaign.  Creating separate nurture campaigns for prospects and influencers within different industries and job roles is a great way to begin tracking and improving success rates.

What is a Good Open Rate?

Now that we’ve covered 5 important tips for improving the open rate of your email marketing campaigns, I thought that providing some sort of standardization for open rates by industry might also be useful. Open rate is one of the most commonly ased questions with email marketing clients. While you make the decision to implement each of the tips above, it’s important to understand that the open rate of your email marketing campaigns can differ based upon your industry and target market.

Image Credit: Constant Contact

What are some of the tips you’ve followed to increase your email marketing open rates? What are some of the top resources you rely on for email marketing advice?

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5 Marketing Tips for Improving Customer Relationships & ROI With Better Communications

If you keep customers happy they will continue to buy

Improved communication turns one time buyers into lifelong customers.

As marketers and sales professionals there is no doubt that we are focused on obtaining new customers and increasing awareness within targeted market segments.  However, we must also consider the lifetime value of our existing customers and how marketing communications can contribute to that relationship.  Taking the time to examine what kind of communications can keep your brand top of mind with customers and inspire continued awareness for repeat sales and referrals is of enormous value.

Do you know how much your current customers are worth to your company?  In recent years research has found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%.  Armed with the knowledge that satisfied customers has a direct impact on your bottom line, there is no time like the present to begin targeting your current customers.  Here are 5 tips on better customer communications you can start using right now:

Tip #1 – Personalized Email Communication

96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance


96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance.

Creating a steady flow of email communication for customers is not a new concept.  However, how many email campaigns do you send out that are segmented based on purchasing habits or preferences?  Say that you have studied the data relating to your current customers and have identified approximately 5 profiles or personas.  Based on customer information find the persona that best fits each customer.  Then create an email drip campaign for each customer segment with different content based on need.  Keep in mind that the subject line, internal content, and calls to action within the email should be personalized based on customer segment.

Tip #2 – Create A Stellar FAQ Page

53% of customers who shop online more than once a month find customer service extremely or very important


53% of customers who shop online more than once a month find customer service extremely or very important.


Creating readily available and easy to find information is Customer Service 101.  It does not matter if you are B2B, B2C, technology, retail, or any other type of company; your customers will have questions.  A Frequently Asked Questions page on your website, social profiles, or other web destinations should be updated on a regular basis to include new questions or comments.  FAQ’s are also an additional opportunity to optimize content for improved visibility online.  It is important to remain consistent with your answers, provide a clean and easy to read page, and update or remove items that may no longer apply.  If you sell multiple products you may want to consider creating additional pages for each product.  Also, if you sell a product or service that requires assembly or setup you may want to provide instructional videos for your customers.

Tip #3 – Social Networking Channels = Customer Service Opportunity

40% of corporate Twitter accounts engage stakeholders on customer service issues


40% of corporate Twitter accounts engage stakeholders on customer service issues.


Last week we shared the example of JetBlue’s customer focused approach on Twitter.  While Twitter may not be a customer solution for all marketers there is an opportunity to utilize your existing social media channels as a way of providing additional customer service for your customers.  Customer service does not only include answering questions or dealing with problems it could also include: sharing useful articles or information, notifying customers of upcoming promotions, or reaching out to customers that are inactive.  Consideration must also be paid to the time of day that your customers are most likely to spend their time online.  There are tools available like Timely, Buffer or Hootsuite which enable you to schedule your Twitter communications during a particular time of day for the highest impact.

Tip #4 – Create Content Based on Customer Need

36% of B2B marketers listed producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge.


36% of B2B marketers listed producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge.


If planned for and organized appropriately, content creation can be executed efficiently and successfully.  A successful content strategy will focus on the needs, pain points, and triggers of your customers.  There are many ways to identify what those needs are including: customer surveys, research, and creation of customer personas based on buying habits.  Implementing a well thought out and concise customer survey can give you additional insight into what makes your customers tick.  A survey is also a great opportunity to crowdsource content from your customers for your customers.  Who better qualified to tell you what they want to read about than those who are purchasing your products or services?

Tip #5 – Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates

500 billion peer impressions are made per year


500 billion peer impressions are created each year.


It is extremely important that you tap into your existing customer base to find individuals or organizations who are willing to advocate on your behalf.  You could ask customers for: written or video testimonials, permission to use them as references, or employ them as a brand advocate to share information with their networks.  As user generated content becomes increasingly popular and credible, keeping your customers happy will continue to become even more essential.

Action Items:

Committing to providing customer support online is something that I recommend every company do no matter what industry you work in.  If you don’t keep your customers happy, someone else will.  I would like to leave you with the following questions that I hope will help you determine what tactics your company should implement to improve your customer service and communication online.

  • How would you rate your current level of online customer service?
  • Do you currently have a plan in place to improve your communication?
  • What tactics have you implemented that have worked?
  • What companies do you personally buy from that provide excellent online communication?
  • What impact has that communication had on your purchasing decisions?

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The Future of Marketing: WordStream’s Founder & ClassPass’ CMO on Where Things Are Headed


Inbound marketing is about matching the way you market and sell with the way people actually want to shop and buy. And after reading the 2016 State of Inbound report, it became clear that inbound was beginning to change at a pace more rapid than anything we’ve seen before.

New technologies were being introduced. Consumers’ habits were evolving. Things were different.

What does that mean for the future of this movement? Quite honestly, we believe that in five years time marketing and sales as you know it will no longer exist. To learn more about the challenges marketers face today, download the free  2016 State of Inbound report here.

To help dissect some of these future trends, we invited WordStream Founder Larry Kim and ClassPass CMO Joanna Lord to have a discussion with HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Kieran Flanagan, via YouTube Live. This talk dives into what the future of inbound marketing might look like, as it relates to content, search, and ads.

Watch the video below to hear the full discussion:

The Future of Marketing: WordStream’s Founder & ClassPass’ CMO on Where Things Are Headed

If you didn’t have a chance to watch the full YouTube discussion, don’t worry. We’ve summarized both Kim and Lord’s thoughts and input below to make it easy for you to distill some of the top takeaways.

How do you see technology changing the way people shop and buy?

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, the future of shopping online is going to be less about stumbling upon something in Google and more about customers actually expressing their preferences for brands. Marketers need to do more marketing. And that boils down to getting people familiar with your brand so that they favor you when it comes time for a purchasing decision.

If your first appearance is when a consumer finally decides to search for your products and services on their own, you’re too late. People overwhelmingly click on the things they are familiar with, so you have to get them even before that.

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord mentioned that when ClassPass first started, they spent a lot of time on the consideration phase and differentiating value props. Because consumers are far more informed, they’re far more in control, and marketers really need to create that bias early. Of course it’s about being where they want you to be, but it’s also about connecting with them sooner.

What stood out to you most in the 2016 State of Inbound report?

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

One of the things that stuck out most to Kim was that inbound marketing and advertising don’t seem to be getting along that well. Advertising is seen as being overrated and annoying — and that’s really unfortunate because, like all channels, it’s less about the medium and more about how you use it.

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

The big thing that stood out to Lord? Video as an emerging vehicle.

She went on to explain that video helps you tell a great story, but today, marketers might over-index on that being videos’ purpose: a dynamic, compelling way to tell a story. However, what came through in the different statistics in the State of Inbound report is that there’s a stickiness to video.

According to Lord, marketers need to be thinking about multiple touch points along the video journey, and different ways to build infrastructure to support and track that effectively. Marketers can’t just be ‘dabbling’ in video at this point — it has to be an all-in play.

Do you think people are frustrated with advertising because a lot of marketers are doing it poorly and not providing a great experience?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord admitted that a lot of advertising is, in fact, poor. A lot of people try to take historical advertising approaches and apply it on new platforms.

The best marketers that understand advertising will see these new and emerging platforms as a way to amplify their best content. Right now, there’s a bit of a disconnect: Marketers are trying to apply a historical approach on new platforms and they need to take a new approach on new platforms.

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

When it comes to this debate, Kim explained that he thinks we need to be pickier in terms of what it is we’re advertising.

He went on to explain this example: If you have $ 1K to spend on social media advertising, and your blog puts out 10 posts a month, the worst thing could do is split the money up and use $ 100 to promote each post.

Why? Because some of them are going to be garbage, and one or two of them might be great.

Kim argued that what marketers need is a change in mentality. Instead of dividing the money equally, you should take the $ 1K and go all-in on the top performing post. Doing this will not only get you a much higher ROI, but ultimately it will help you appear less annoying in the eyes of those coming across it, as you’re promoting stuff that people actually find interesting.

Do you think that video has a place across the whole funnel, or does it work better in one part of the funnel?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord explained that while it’s probably very specific to the brand and the service or product they offer, video can be used in every part of the funnel. She followed that by stating that video is often more compelling in different phases for different brands.

For example, ClassPass is a lifestyle brand with a demographic of young urban women, which provides an opportunity to use video more often — and in more phases — than some B2B companies.

She went on to explain that one of the best places that video comes into play for ClassPass is actually in post-conversion nurturing for lifetime value, because it’s all about motivation and milestones, and that’s the voice of a customer story.

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, the purpose of content marketing and advertising is to bias people. You want people to have happy thoughts about your brand and what it is you do, so later when they need to buy whatever it is you’re selling, they favor you.

When it comes to the effectiveness of video, he thinks that the message you convey through video is more memorable, inspiring, visual, and dynamic than any other medium. And from that perspective, video content is orthogonal to the funnel, meaning you should be creating video assets for every stage.

While Kim doesn’t think of bottom of the funnel or top of the funnel as being more important than the other, he does have a hard time with the costs tied to video production.

To avoid wasting budget, he suggests auditioning a lot your content to see what performs best — especially in regards of engagement. Then, transforming only the top-performing stuff into video content.

What big bets are you making at WordStream and ClassPass around marketing tactics that you think will be important over the next couple of years?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord explained that their top investment priorities are photography, video, and humanizing the brand.

People love the service when they when they sign up and when they try a class, but there’s also a lot of noise in fitness, and there are a lot of great brands to compete with. Everyone is getting into health and fitness and wellness, which is why ClassPass’ biggest investments are around differentiating the brand’s point of view. And they way they see it, photography and video are their strongest bets in terms of bringing what’s important to them and their audience — living fully and spending time of experiences that nurture you — to life.

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, one of the challenges WordStream has is that they’ve kind of tapped out the market of low-funnel people — people who are actively searching for these types of pay-per-click advertising solutions.

So when he thinks of growth in 2017 and beyond, it’s all about creating demand and awareness among people who aren’t actively searching for the products and services that WordStream sells. He explains that if you’re just waiting for people to search, you’re not really growing your market — you’re just harvesting the demand of people who are already looking to buy that thing in the first place.

His goal is to create biases in people’s minds earlier on, so that when the need arises for advertising solutions, they’ll automatically think of WordStream.

What formats would you encourage marketers to invest in over the next 12-24 months?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

According to Lord, the vehicle is important. And when it comes to vehicles and formats, video is going to be very important — especially episodic content and snippet video.

She went on to explain that episodic content is the idea that there’s a volume or a series to it. In other words, you’re telling a story over a long period of time. It’s a multi-touch approach, and that allows you to meet people earlier in the funnel, nurture them, and hopefully bias them along the way.

How important is it to publish content on external sites like Medium or LinkedIn?

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, if you’re in the tech space, Medium is a fantastic outlet for content publishing and content syndication.

In the last six months, he was able to become the top 20th ranked author on Medium. (That’s about a million views of his content every month.) The best part? He said it wasn’t all that hard — all he did was syndicate existing content. And Medium makes that easy with the help of its republishing tool.

In terms of time distribution, Kim went on to explain that he spends about 20% of his time creating content for external sites. However, he also urged that the worst thing you could ever do is abandon your blog, and that 70-80% of the content you create should still be going there. 

What evolving consumer trends will disrupt marketing the most over the next year?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

One thing Lord mentioned that she is currently focusing on is this concept of being the backdrop to a consumer’s life. As she explained it, a lot of companies are thinking about the currency of time: How can you have enough value around your core product so that it’s actually consuming more of someone’s time?

ClassPass is primarily an app-based experience, but everything they’re starting to test in the product will be peripheral and adjacent to that, so they can earn the right to have more of someone’s time. Part of that is thinking through the many times a person might need your brand or product in a day — in other words, what are they hiring you for in their day? If you uncover that, you can build it into your product road map.

Lord also stressed the importance of personification. She asked the questions, “Who does your customer want to be?” and “What will they need to hire you for in 3-5 years if you do your core job right today?”

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

The biggest thing that’s going to grow revenues for WordStream over the foreseeable future, and for their customers, is advertising. Not just advertising the same old way, but online advertising using ridiculously powerful new technologies that have been released in the last 12-18 months.

For example, they are currently focusing on the ability to target specific ads to specific phone numbers or email addresses. According to Kim, it’s kind of like email marketing, where you can target people who are on your lists and build custom audiences. What’s different is that you’re not limited to segmenting by just everyone on your lists — you can segment by behaviors and interests and demographics. According to him, it has never been easier, in the history of marketing, to go after your target market.

If you enjoyed this discussion between Larry Kim and Joanna Lord, head over to stateofinbound.com to learn more about the future of content, search and ads and how it’s evolving in 2017.

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

HubSpot Marketing Blog

12 Clever Ways to Use Your Email Signature to Support Your Marketing Campaigns


You know that you’re a true email marketer if every single one of your emails includes a call-to-action. And I’m not talking about email marketing blasts here. What I have in mind are the individual, personal email messages you send on an everyday basis.

Yes, your personal email signature can provide a serious marketing opportunity.

You are most likely already using your own email signature to provide information about who you are and where you work. But you can take this practice to the next level by updating your signature to reflect the marketing campaigns you are running today. Easily create your own professional email signature with our free Email  Signature Generator here.

Are you missing out on another opportunity to spread brand awareness or nurture prospective customers? Wondering what exactly you can promote through your email signature? Here are twelve awesome suggestions.

12 Professional Email Signature Ideas to Support Your Marketing Campaigns

1) Your Homepage

The least you should promote in your email signature is your company’s website. But in order for this tactic to be efficient, you have to make sure your homepage acts like a landing page.

In other words, it directs the visitor’s attention to the activity you want them to take. For instance, HubSpot’s homepage suggests that you receive a free product demo. Including your website’s homepage in an email signature also helps to expand awareness of your brand. Here’s an example (with help from our friend, Harry Potter):

harry.png2) Social Media

When it comes to the usage of social media in email signatures, you have two options. You can either include a link to your personal accounts on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, etc., or you can include links to your company’s accounts. Both are good options. Check out how HubSpot’s Principal Marketing Manager Pam Vaughan promotes her social channels in the example below:

pamfinal.png3) Your Blog

Your blog is one of the smartest things you can include in your email signature because it provides value to the community and gets updated on a regular basis. The fresh content on your blog is more engaging than a static homepage and will most likely retain the attention of the visitor for longer.

If you do shine light on your blog, don’t forget to include calls-to-action throughout your posts to encourage readers to take the next step and become a lead. Using our email signature tool, you can create a dynamic email signature that includes an RSS feed, which shows the title of your most recent blog article and automatically updates as new articles get published. Check out my editor, Carly Stec‘s:


4) Book

Have you written a book? Has your manager or CEO written one? Don’t be shy about it. Share a link to the book in your email signature. That will help you build authority and credibility among the people you communicate with. Here’s our own Aja Frost promoting her ebook:


5) Conferences & Events

Is there a company trade show coming up soon? Or maybe you are speaking at a conference? Change your email signature to reflect that. While your email signature might not necessarily help you generate more registrants, it will surely spread the word about the event and gain some awareness among your target audience. Here’s an event promotion signature from my colleague, Elijah Clark Ginsberg:


(P.S. – Are you registered to hear from Alec Baldwin, Serena Williams, and other marketing and sales professionals at INBOUND 2016 yet?)

6) New Marketing Offer

Have an offer that’s doing a great job of converting traffic into leads? (You can tell by looking at their corresponding landing pages’ visitor-to-submission rates in your marketing analytics). Identify your best performing offers, and then expose them to more traffic. Use your email signature to share a link to a popular ebook or a webinar. Or if you’re currently featuring a new campaign that highlights a particular offer, use that in your signature instead. Here’s an example of my own signature promoting this ebook:


7) Industry Research

Speaking of data, don’t underestimate the impact that facts and figures can have in a marketing context. People on the web are overwhelmed with information, which encourages them to look for specifics. If you publish an industry report based on proprietary research, as Mimi An does over at HubSpot Research, consider including a link to it in your email signature:


8) Case Studies

Salespeople love this one. If you’re talking to potential customers, what’s better than sharing stories of successful ones?

For instance, you can mention how your product or service increased the ROI of customer XYZ, or quote a customer in your email signature to boost your company’s credibility.

hermione.png9) Free Tool

If your company happens to have a free tool, such as an ROI calculator, educational game, or blog topic generator, give it some marketing love. Free online tools have the power to engage readers and get them further interested in your product or service. Check out Eric Peters‘ signature promoting HubSpot’s free email signature generator (meta, we know):


10) Demonstration of Your Product / Free Consultation

When you are having a tough sales month, consider using an email signature that promotes a free consultation with your team or even a demonstration of your product. In that way, you’ll increase traffic to these middle-of-the-funnel marketing offers and show your sales organization that you’re taking advantage of every possible opportunity to help them out. 


11) News about Your Company

If your team or company has received recognition for exceptional work, highlight the news article or press release in your email signature. News that your company is doing exceptional work will drive traffic to your blog and promote greater brand awareness for your organization. Here’s an example from HubSpot Senior Recruiter Emily MacIntyre:


12) Promotional Videos

Has your company ever produced a promotional video? (Here’s an awesome video about HubSpot’s culture, for example.) Add a link to your company’s video so recipients can learn more about you without navigating away from the email message. You can promote a campaign, an event, or an offer in a more engaging way than a hyperlink alone. Here’s an example from our own Angela O’Dowd promoting HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program:


Ready to rework your email signature? Simplify the process using this free email signature generator.  

Have any other ideas for what your email signature can promote? Share them in the comments section below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free email signature generator

  free email sign

HubSpot Marketing Blog