Category Archives: Online Marketing

65 Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts to Help You Photoshop Like a Pro

photoshop-shortcuts-compressor.jpg

Have you ever accidentally wasted an entire day in Photoshop?

I have. It’s not like you start out aimlessly. You have a simple goal in mind, like cropping a photo, improving the resolution, or changing the size of the canvas. But then, you look at how many options there are — and trying to figure out which buttons to press to execute a single task suddenly turns into an attempt to solve The Riddle of the Sphinx.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just press a button, and magically, do what you wanted to do? Well, we’ve got good news for you: It turns out there are a wealth of Photoshop shortcuts that pretty much work just that way. New Call-to-action

By pressing a few keys on your computer keyboard at the same time, you can select tools, manipulate images and layers, and even make adjustments to your project’s canvas. But if we’re being honest, if you’re just starting out with the software, there might be far too many Photoshop shortcuts to remember them all. That’s why we created this guide — for you to bookmark and return to next time your design project leaves you stumped.

Note: All of these shortcuts can be accessed on PC and Mac, but sometimes, they’re different on each operating system. We’ve included both types below, and in the cases where they might be different, Mac instructions appear in italicized parentheses. Also, in these formulas, the plus sign (+) is present only to represent the combination of key commands. On occasion, it might be part of the command itself, like when you press the plus sign to zoom into a part of an image, but otherwise, don’t press the plus sign between commands.

65 Photoshop Shortcuts to Save You Time

Got something specific in mind? Click on a section below to jump to that section.

Getting Set Up
Choosing the Right Tools
Using the Brush Tool
Using the Marquee Tool (for Slicing/Selecting)
Using Different Blending Options
Manipulating Layers & Objects
Saving Your Work for Later

Getting Set Up

You’d think setting up your content in Photoshop would be second nature. But sometimes, the shortcuts to change the background size, or zoom into your project aren’t what you think. Here are some of the most crucial fundamental shortcuts to know:

1) Control + Alt + i (Command + Option + i ) = Change the image size.

2) Control + Alt + c (Command + Option + c ) = Change canvas size.

3) Control + + (Command + + ) = Zoom in.

4) Control + – (Command + – ) = Zoom out.

Control + ‘ (Command + ‘ ) = Show or hide the grid, the automatically-generated horizontal and vertical lines that help align objects to the canvas.

Choosing the Right Tools

These shortcuts will activate different groups of tools, like “Lasso,” “Brush,” or “Spot Healing Brush.” Within these tools, though, there are different functions. Under the “Magic Wand” tool group, for example, you have the option to execute a new selection or add and subtract from a current one.

Each one of these tools has a keyboard shortcut, and we’ve outlined some of them below.

5) v = Pointer, a.k.a. Move Tool pointer-tool.png 

6) w = Magic Wand magic-wand-tool.png

7) m = Rectangular Marquee, a.k.a. the Select Tool marquee-tool-1.png

8) l = Lasso lasso-tool.png

9) i = Eyedropper eyedropper-tool.png

10) c = Crop Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.09.20 PM.png

11) e = Eraser Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.21.32 PM.png

12) u = Rectangle rectangle-tool.png

13) t = Horizontal Type text-tool.png

14) b = Brush Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.15.15 PM.png

15) y = History Brush history-brush-tool.png

16) j = Spot Healing Brush spot-healing-tool.png

17) g = Gradient Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.14.32 PM.png

18) a = Path Selection path-selection-tool.png

19) h = Hand hand-tool.png

20) r = Rotate View rotate-view-tool.png

21) p = Pen pen-tool.png

22) s = Clone Stamp clone-stamp-tool.png

23) o = Dodge Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.16.48 PM.png

24) z = Zoom Tool zoom-tool.png

25) d = Default Foreground and Background Colors Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.23.24 PM.png

26) x = Switch Foreground and Background Colors Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.25.24 PM.png

27) q = Edit in Quick Mask Mode Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.26.26 PM.png

28) x = Change Screen Mode Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.27.48 PM.png

Using the Brush Tool

With the brush settings, you can change the size, shape, and transparency of your brush strokes to achieve a number of different visual effects. To use these keyboard shortcuts, first select the Brush tool by pressing b. brush-tool.png

29) , or . = Select previous or next brush style.

30) Shift + , or . = Select first or last brush style used.

31) Caps Lock or Shift + Caps Lock (Caps Lock) = Display precise crosshair for brushes.

32) Shift + Alt + p (Shift + Option + p) = Toggle airbrush option.

Using the Marquee Tool (for Slicing/Selecting)

When used correctly, the marquee tool will let you select individual elements, entire graphics, and determine what is copied, cut, and pasted into your graphics.

To use these keyboard shortcuts, first select the Marquee tool by pressing m. marquee-tool-2.png

33) Control (Command) = Toggle between Slice tool and Slice Selection tool.

34) Shift + drag = Draw square slice.

35) Alt + drag (Option + drag) = Draw from center outward.

36) Shift + alt + drag (Shift + option + drag) = Draw square slice from center outward.

37) Spacebar + drag = Reposition the slice while creating the slice.

Using Different Blending Options

Blending options include a number of features to enhance the look of your graphic. You can always choose a blending option by going to the top menu bar, under Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Or, you can double-click any layer to bring up the options for that particular layer.

Once you open blending options, you can use keyboard shortcuts to select them without moving your mouse. To use the shortcuts, select the Move tool (“v”), and then select the layer you’d like to use the blending options on. Below are some of the most popular modes.

38) Shift + + or – = Cycle through blending modes.

39) Shift + Alt + n (Shift + Option + n) = Normal mode

40) Shift + Alt + i (Shift + Option + i) = Dissolve

41) Shift + Alt + k (Shift + Option + k) = Darken

42) Shift + Alt + g (Shift + Option + g) = Lighten

43) Shift + Alt + m (Shift + Option + m) = Multiply

44) Shift + Alt + o (Shift + Option + o) = Overlay

45) Shift + Alt + u (Shift + Option + u) = Hue

46) Shift + Alt + t (Shift + Option + t) = Saturation

47) Shift + Alt + y (Shift + Option + y) = Luminosity

For more niche blending shortcuts, check out these tips from Adobe.

Manipulating Layers & Objects

If you want to modify an object or get complex with multiple layers, here are some shortcuts you might like to know:

48) Control + a (Command + a ) = Select all objects

49) Control + d (Command + d ) = Deselect all objects

50) Shift + Control + i (Shift + Command + i ) = Select the inverse of the selected objects

51) Control + Alt + a (Command + Option + a) = Select all layers

52) Control + Shift + E (Command + Shift + e) = Merge all layers

53) Alt + . (Option + .) = Select top layer

54) Alt + , (Option + ,) = Select bottom layer

Note: In shortcuts 55-57, the brackets ([ ]) are the keystrokes in the command, and “OR” refers to the actual word — as in, press one bracket OR the other, not the letters “o” and “r.”

55) Alt + [ OR ] (Option + [ OR ]) = Select next layer down or up

56) Control + [ OR ] (Command + [ OR ]) = Move target layer down or up

57) Control + Shift + [ OR ] (Command + Shift + [ OR ]) = Move layer to the bottom or top

58) Shift + Control + n (Shift + Command + n) = Create a new layer

59) Control + g (Command + g) = Group selected layers

60) Control + Shift + g (Command + Shift + g) = Ungroup selected layers

61) Control + e (Command + e) = Merge and flatten selected layers

62) Control + Shift + Alt + e (Command + Shift + Option + e) = Combine all layers into a new layer on top of the other layers. Note: This step gets you one, combined layer, with all elements of that layer in separate layers below — which is different than a traditional merge-and-flatten layers command.

63) Control + t (Command + t) = Transform your object, which includes resizing and rotating

And Finally — Save Your Work for Later

Congratulations — you’ve finished working on your project, and now, you want to share it with the world. Save time saving your project by using these simple shortcuts:

64) Control + Shift + s (Command + Shift + s) = Save your work as …

65) Control + Shift + Alt + s (Command + Shift + Option + s) = Save for web and devices

Which Photoshop shortcuts can’t you live without? Let us know in the comments.

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

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10 Product Page Split Tests To Increase Your Ecommerce Conversions

10 Product Page Split Tests To Increase Your Ecommerce Conversions

In order to execute a successful pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaign, a significant amount of split testing is typically involved.

With Facebook ads, for example, you need to test the image, value proposition, call-to-action, headline, body text and audience for each ad. Because of the infinite number of combinations available to test, it often takes some trial and error before you get an ad that has a high click-through-rate (CTR) with a low cost-per-click (CPC).

Even once you’re able to send prospective buyers to your website, you’re still not home free. Next, you need to test a number of things on your product page before you can achieve a good conversion rate.

Did you know only 22% of businesses are actually satisfied with their conversion rates?

In fact, 85% of marketers are now focusing on conversion rate optimization. If you aren’t meticulously split testing your product pages, then you’re leaving money on the table.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to split testing. What works for one business may have disastrous results for another.

Bearing that in mind, here are some of the product page split tests that you can conduct to improve your eCommerce conversions.

1. Add-to-cart button colors

Your add-to-cart button should be the focal point of your landing page. If people don’t notice it, for whatever reason, this will negatively impact your conversions.

Much has been written about the ideal color for add-to-cart buttons, and there are no definitive answers. One point of view is that you should choose a color for your button that dramatically contrasts with the rest of your branding in order to stand out. But there is no conclusive evidence that this works.

In a study of 50 leading eCommerce brands, 32% used orange add-to-cart buttons while 24% used blue. There wasn’t a consensus about what worked best because every company is different.

However, it’s worth your time to split test several different colors for your business. In an eCommerce split test performed by Receptional, a click rate increase of 344% was achieved by changing the store’s add-to-cart buttons from orange to purple.

2. Pricing displays

The way you present your pricing information is incredibly important. You can test the results of tiered pricing vs. straight pricing in a split test.

With straight pricing, you simply display the price of the product. With tiered pricing, you offer prospects the appearance of options (even though most will elect the middle choice in a tier).

Variant A (below) represents straight pricing.

Variant B, from web host iPage, represents tiered pricing.

In addition, think carefully about whether your pricing information is displayed prominently enough on your product page.

Royal Discount, an eCommerce company that offers discounted computer software from recognized manufacturers, uses a business model dependent on competitive pricing.

The company hypothesized that pricing information on product pages may not have been sufficiently emphasized and was harming conversions.

It added a crossed out Manufacturer’s Suggested Price, next to the display pricing, which boosted conversions slightly. Next, it ran a split test for 30+ days where sales prices were displayed in bold, and in a larger font size (compared to the control landing page).

The new landing page improved conversions by 36.54%, increasing the company’s revenue by 10.21%.

3. Free shipping

In addition to split testing your pricing displays, you may want to experiment with increasing your product prices and offering free shipping to compensate for that. Unexpected shipping charges at the checkout are the number one cause of abandoned carts so this also helps solve that problem.

Customers will be more inclined to purchase if they think they’re benefitting from free shipping, even if they’re actually paying you exactly the same amount of money.

After all, it doesn’t matter to you whether you receive $15 for a product and $5 for shipping, as opposed to $20 for a product and $0 for shipping. What matters is increasing the number of conversions on you product page – so be sure to split test different shipping options.

NuFace, a manufacturer of skincare products, experimented with placing a ‘FREE SHIPPING OVER $75’ banner prominently on its online store. This test resulted in a 90% increase in orders, as well as a 7.32% increase in average order value.

In other words, the free shipping offer enticed people to buy additional products at the store.

4. Social proof elements

It’s universally acknowledged that having social proof elements, such as customer reviews and testimonials, on a product page is a good thing. If you’ve just arrived at an unknown company’s website via a Facebook ad, it’s unlikely you’ll purchase from them unless they’ve won over your trust.

According to a study by Nielsen, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from someone that they know and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone that they don’t know if they’re exposed to factors that build trust.

Posting testimonials, reviews and possibly even celebrity endorsements on your product page will help to alleviate anxiety and increase conversions.

FigLeaves, a retailer of women’s clothing, improved conversions by 35% after adding customer reviews to the site.

Test whether reviews improve your conversions. If you get a positive result, also test where your reviews are positioned on your product page.

A range of star ratings also help to build trust, unlike an abundance of sugarcoated 5-star reviews with no signs of negativity. In the real world, no company is flawless and consumers understand this. They expect to see minor criticisms.

Vegan Horizon, a manufacturer of cruelty-free, non-leather accessories, improved conversions by 9.8% after installing Sales Pop – a Shopify app that displays pop-ups of recent customer purchases for social proof purposes.

You may also want to split test Facebook comment screenshots as a form of social proof. Check out this screenshot of a product page by Frontline Gadgets advertising a tactical watch.

With so many links and positive comments posted on a reputable social media platform, this simple screenshot demonstrates authenticity and trust.

5. Security badges

Falling victim to online fraud is a legitimate concern for today’s consumers. If someone is going to enter their credit card details at your checkout page, they need to feel safe and secure in doing so.

In a study on cart abandonment, 13% of shoppers stated that security concerns were an issue for them. One of the best ways to deliver a firm sense of security is by featuring a trust badge on your product and/or checkout page.

Symantec, formerly known as VeriSign, is one of the most well-renowned Internet security companies. Its distinctive trust badge is highly recognizable.

By incorporating this trust badge on a request-a-quote landing page, Blue Fountain Media increased their conversions by 42%.

You can also test a money back guarantee (if appropriate) on your landing page, since this alleviates consumer anxiety about buying a defective or misrepresented product.

6. FAQs

If you’re using Facebook ads to send traffic to your product page, carefully consider the comments you receive beneath the ads. If people are asking the same questions time and time again, provide answers to them on your product page.

Cover the features of your product in your FAQs, as well as any potential shipping and delivery queries. The more detailed information you can convey, the more people will feel secure in making a purchase.

Although building a FAQ section can be tedious, it’s definitely worth the effort. If you use Inspectlet to watch how visitors interact with your landing page, you might be pleasantly surprised to see how much time they spend browsing your FAQs.

While not an eCommerce brand, non-profit organization Kiva improved its conversion rate by 11.5% as a result of featuring FAQs on the company’s donation page.

7. Payment options

In a study of online shopping, 28% of shoppers revealed that they abandoned purchases when their preferred method of payment was unavailable. Since 57% of shoppers use their credit/debit cards while another 29% use a digital wallet such as PayPal, you can retain most customers by offering both options.

If you’re using Shopify, register a PayPal business account and enable PayPal checkouts on your store. The process is very straightforward and can dramatically improve your conversion rate.

Additionally, you can allow visitors to check out via PayPal without registering a Paypal account. Check out the following guide for doing so.

8. Live chat

If you’re driving a sizeable amount of traffic to your product page but your conversion rate is poor, you might want to consider integrating a live chat feature on your site. Research indicates that visitors invited to chat are 6.3 times more likely to become customers than those who don’t chat.

Similar to FAQs, live chat can help alleviate fear and build trust. Plus, live chat is far more personal – it allows you to answer any specific queries as well as inject some humanity into your brand, which ultimately boosts conversions.

Live chat can also be extremely great at reviving abandoned carts. By inviting these individuals to speak with you in real-time, you get feedback as to why they haven’t gone through with the purchase. Then you can (hopefully) make the necessary adjustments to get them to convert.

Split test whether live chat works for you. If you don’t notice an increase in conversions with live chat enabled, don’t pursue it, as it can eat up a lot of time.

9. Video

Visual content, particularly video, is essential if you want to engage consumers in this distraction-ridden age of information. In fact, a study by Microsoft shows that the average person now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish.

A video is a sensory-rich medium that allows you to convey your message effectively and engagingly.

A store selling paintball equipment, Paintball Online, integrated videos on more than 5,000 product pages. The result was that pages which included videos were viewed for two minutes on average whereas pages without videos were viewed for only 35 seconds.

There are many talented freelancers on UpWork who can put together an inexpensive whiteboard explainer video to showcase your product.

Put a video on your product page and test whether it improves conversions.

10. Scarcity and urgency elements

You need to encourage consumers to purchase your product from the moment they arrive at your landing page – otherwise, they might procrastinate and plan to return to the page later. You can run a retargeting campaign to re-engage former visitors to your site, but you’ll spend less money on ads if they convert the first time.

By using urgent language and conveying the scarcity of your product, visitors will be encouraged to convert then and there.

One of the easiest ways to inject urgency into your product page is with a countdown timer. If you’re using Shopify, try installing the Hurrify app and testing the results.

Marcus Taylor says on Conversion XL that he achieved an incredible conversion rate boost from 3.5% to 10% by putting urgency and scarcity elements on his landing page. The new landing page featured a countdown timer and a counter of products currently sold (which leveraged social proof).

Taylor split tested both landing pages simultaneously and logged the results.

Here is Variation A of the landing page:

And here is the high-performing Variation B:

If someone believes that your product is in limited supply (and there are social proof elements that suggest the demand is high) your conversion rate is likely to increase.

Summing up

While we might have only covered the tip of the iceberg, I hope this post has shown you how valuable – and I would say necessary – using product page split tests is to improve your eCommerce conversions.

Can you think of any other product page split tests that can help improve your conversion rate? Please let me know in the comments below.

Guest Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands, including Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Target and others, to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, his blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+and LinkedIn.

The post 10 Product Page Split Tests To Increase Your Ecommerce Conversions appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.


Will Organizational Culture Ever Catch Up with Technology?


The pace of technological innovation today isn’t just fast. Technology is evolving at an exponential rate. While in many ways, businesses have reaped the benefits of such progress, without a similar transformation of company culture, how can organizations truly harness what’s available? Find out more in in Microsoft Office’s Modern Workplace.

The post Will Organizational Culture Ever Catch Up with Technology? appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

6 Content Marketing Research Tools You’ll Fall in Love With


If you want to know how to create content that people are actually searching for, you need to become a content marketing research expert. But it doesn’t have to be that hard or expensive! To uncover the top trends and topics of interest within your industry, you just have to roll up your sleeves and […]

The post 6 Content Marketing Research Tools You’ll Fall in Love With appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

6 CRO Mistakes You Might Be Making (And How to Fix Them)

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You just ran what you thought was a really promising conversion test. In an effort to raise the number of visitors that convert into demo requests on your product pages, you test an attractive new redesign on one of your pages using a good ol’ A/B test. Half of the people who visit that page see the original product page design, and half see the new, attractive design.

You run the test for an entire month, and as you expected, conversions are up — from 2% to 10%. Boy, do you feel great! You take these results to your boss and advise that, based on your findings, all product pages should be moved over to your redesign. She gives you the go-ahead.

But when you roll out the new design, you notice the number of demo requests goes down. You wonder if it’s seasonality, so you wait a few more months. That’s when you start to notice MRR is decreasing, too. What gives?

Turns out, you didn’t test that page long enough for results to be statistically significant. Because that product page only saw 50 views per day, you would’ve needed to wait until over 150,000 people viewed the page before you could achieve a 95% confidence level — which would take over eight years to accomplish. Because you failed to calculate those numbers correctly, your company is losing business.

A risky business

Miscalculating sample size is just one of the many CRO mistakes marketers make in the CRO space. It’s easy for marketers to trick themselves into thinking they’re improving their marketing, when in fact, they’re leading their business down a dangerous path by basing tests on incomplete research, small sample sizes, and so on.

But remember: The primary goal of CRO is to find the truth. Basing a critical decision on faulty assumptions and tests lacking statistical significance won’t get you there.

To help save you time and overcome that steep learning curve, here are some of the most common mistakes marketers make with conversion rate optimization. As you test and tweak and fine-tune your marketing, keep these mistakes in mind, and keep learning.

6 CRO mistakes you might be making1) You think of CRO as mostly A/B testing.

Equating A/B testing with CRO is like calling a square a rectangle. While A/B testing is a type of CRO, it’s just one tool of many. A/B testing only covers testing a single variable against another to see which performs better, while CRO includes all manner of testing methodologies, all with the goal of leading your website visitors to take a desired action.

If you think you’re “doing CRO” just by A/B testing everything, you’re not being very smart about your testing. There are plenty of occasions where A/B testing isn’t helpful at all — for example, if your sample size isn’t large enough to collect the proper amount of data. Does the webpage you want to test get only a few hundred visits per month? Then it could take months to round up enough traffic to achieve statistical significance.

If you A/B test a page with low traffic and then decide six weeks down the line that you want to stop the test, then that’s your prerogative — but your test results won’t be based on anything scientific.

A/B testing is a great place to start with your CRO education, but it’s important to educate yourself on many different testing methodologies so you aren’t restricting yourself. For example, if you want to see a major lift in conversions on a webpage in only a few weeks, try making multiple, radical changes instead of testing one variable at a time. Take Weather.com, for example: They changed many different variables on one of their landing pages all at once, including the page design, headline, navigation, and more. The result? A whopping 225% increase in conversions.

2) You don’t provide context for your conversion rates.

When you read that line about the 225% lift in conversions on Weather.com, did you wonder what I meant by “conversions?”

If you did, then you’re thinking like a CRO.

Conversion rates can measure any number of things: purchases, leads, prospects, subscribers, users — it all depends on the goal of the page. Just saying “we saw a huge increase in conversions” doesn’t mean much if you don’t provide people with what the conversion means. In the case of Weather.com, I was referring specifically to trial subscriptions: Weather.com saw a 225% increase in trial subscriptions on that page. Now the meaning of that conversion rate increase is a lot more clear.

But even stating the metric isn’t telling the whole story. When exactly was that test run? Different days of the week and of the month can yield very different conversion rates.

conversion-rate-fluctuation.png

For that reason, even if your test achieves 98% significance after three days, you still need to run that test for the rest of the full week because of how different conversion rate can be on different days. Same goes for months: Don’t run a test during the holiday-heavy month of December and expect the results to be the same as if you’d run it for the month of March. Seasonality will affect your conversion rate.

Other things that can have a major impact on conversion rate? Device type is one. Visitors might be willing to fill out that longer form on desktop, but are mobile visitors converting at the same rate? Better investigate. Channel is another: Be wary of reporting “average” conversion rates. If some channels have much higher conversion rates than others, you should consider treating the channels differently.

Finally, remember that conversion rate isn’t the most important metric for your business. It’s important that your conversions are leading to revenue for the company. If you made your product free, I’ll bet your conversion rates would skyrocket — but you wouldn’t be making any money, would you? Conversion rate doesn’t always tell you whether your business is doing better than it was. Be careful that you aren’t thinking of conversions in a vacuum so you don’t steer off-course.

3) You don’t really understand the statistics.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started learning CRO was thinking I could rely on what I remembered from my college statistics courses to run conversion tests. Just because you’re running experiments does not make you a scientist.

Statistics is the backbone of CRO, and if you don’t understand it inside and out, then you won’t be able to run proper tests and could seriously derail your marketing efforts.

What if you stop your test too early because you didn’t wait to achieve 98% statistical significance? After all, isn’t 90% good enough?

No, and here’s why: Think of statistical significance like placing a bet. Are you really willing to bet on 90% odds on your test results? Running a test to 90% significance and then declaring a winner is like saying, “I’m 90% sure this is the right design and I’m willing to bet everything on it.” It’s just not good enough.

If you’re in need of a statistics refresh, don’t panic. It’ll take discipline and practice, but it’ll make you into a much better marketer — and it’ll make your testing methodology much, much tighter. Start by reading this Moz post by Craig Bradford, which covers sample size, statistical significance, confidence intervals, and percentage change.

4) You don’t experiment on pages or campaigns that are already doing well.

Just because something is doing well doesn’t mean you should just leave it be. Often, it’s these marketing assets that have the highest potential to perform even better when optimized. Some of our biggest CRO wins here at HubSpot have come from assets that were already performing well.

I’ll give you two examples.

The first comes from a project run by Pam Vaughan on HubSpot’s web strategy team, called “historical optimization.” The project involved updating and republishing old blog posts to generate more traffic and leads.

But this didn’t mean updating just any old blog posts; it meant updating the blog posts that were already the most influential in generating traffic and leads. In her attribution analysis, Pam made two surprising discoveries:

76% of our monthly blog views came from “old” posts (in other words, posts published prior to that month).92% of our monthly blog leads also came from “old” posts.

Why? Because these were the blog posts that had slowly built up search authority and were ranking on search engines like Google. They were generating a ton of organic traffic month after month after month.

The goal of the project, then, was to figure out: a) how to get more leads from our high-traffic but low-converting blog posts; and b) how to get more traffic to our high-converting posts. By optimizing these already high-performing posts for traffic and conversions, we more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by the old posts we’ve optimized.

hubspot-conversion-increase-chart.jpg

Another example? In the last few weeks, Nick Barrasso from our marketing acquisition team did a leads audit of our blog. He discovered that some of our best-performing blog posts for traffic were actually leading readers to some of our worst-performing offers.

To give a lead conversion lift to 50 of these high-traffic, low-converting posts, Nick conducted a test in which he replaced each post’s primary call-to-action with a call-to-action leading visitors to an offer that was most tightly aligned with the post’s topic and had the highest submission rate. After one week, these posts generated 100% more leads than average.

The bottom line is this: Don’t focus solely on optimizing marketing assets that need the most work. Many times, you’ll find that the lowest-hanging fruit are pages that are already performing well for traffic and/or leads and, when optimized even further, can result in much bigger lifts.

5) You base your CRO tests on tactics instead of research.

When it comes to CRO, process is everything. Remove your ego and assumptions from the equation, stop relying on individual tactics to optimize your marketing, and instead take a systematic approach to CRO.

Your CRO process should always start with research. In fact, conducting research should be the step you spend the most time on. Why? Because the research and analysis you do in this step will lead you to the problems — and it’s only when you know where the problems lie that you can come up with a hypothesis for overcoming them.

Remember that test I just talked about that doubled leads for 50 top HubSpot blog posts in a week? Nick didn’t just wake up one day and realize our high-traffic blog posts might be leading to low-performing offers. He discovered this only by doing hours and hours of research into our lead gen strategy from the blog.

Paddy Moogan wrote a great post on Moz on where to look for data in the research stage. What does your sales process look like, for example? Have you ever reviewed the full funnel? “Try to find where the most common drop-off points are and take a deeper dive into why,” he suggests.

Here’s an (oversimplified) overview of what a CRO process should look like:

Step 1: Do your research.Step 2: Form and validate your hypothesis.Step 3: Establish your control, and create a treatment.Step 4: Conduct the experiment.Step 5: Analyze your experiment data.Step 6: Conduct a follow-up experiment.

As you go through these steps, be sure you’re recording your hypothesis, test methodology, success criteria, and analysis in a replicable way. My team at HubSpot uses the template below, which was inspired by content from Brian Balfour’s online Reforge Growth programs. We’ve created an editable version in Google Sheets here that you can copy and customize yourself.

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Don’t forget the last step in the process: Conduct a follow-up experiment. What can you refine for your next test? How can you make improvements?

6) You give up after a “failed” test.

One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten around CRO is this: “A test doesn’t ‘fail’ unless something breaks. You either get the result you want, or you learned something.”

It came from Sam Woods, a growth marketer, CRO, and copywriter at HubSpot, after I used the word “fail” a few too many times after months of unsuccessful tests on a single landing page.

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What he taught me was a major part of the CRO mindset: Don’t give up after the first test. (Or the second, or the third.) Instead, approach every test systematically and objectively, putting aside your previous assumptions and any hope that the results would swing one way or the other.

As Peep Laja said, “Genuine CROs are always willing to change their minds.” Learn from tests that didn’t go the way you expected, use them to tweak your hypothesis, and then iterate, iterate, iterate.

I hope this list has inspired you to double down on your CRO skills and take a more systematic approach to your experiments. Mastering conversion rate optimization comes with a steep learning curve — and there’s really no cutting corners. You can save a whole lot of time (and money) by avoiding the mistakes I outlined above.

Have you ever made any of these CRO mistakes? Do you have any CRO mistakes to add to the list? Tell us about your experiences and ideas in the comments.

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The Ultimate Marketing Case Study Template

The marketing case study is one of the oldest and most venerable examples of content marketing. From Oprah touting how Weight Watchers has worked for her, to American Express endorsing SalesForce, case studies are prevalent across industries and marketing forms.

According to a B2B marketing trends report, customer testimonials and case studies are considered the most effective content marketing tactics by nine out of ten B2B marketers. According to Social Fresh, customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89 percent. Seventy-three percent of people have used marketing case studies in the past 12 months to make B2B purchasing decisions.

Use this guide to understand how to use case studies for your organization. It offers instructions on how to secure a first-rate case study, and a template for getting started on a case study today.

The Basics

What is a case study and why are they so important?

Definition

According to Top Rank Marketing Blog:

A “case study” in the context of marketing is an analysis of a project, campaign or company that identifies a situation, recommended solutions, implementation actions, and identification of those factors that contributed to failure or success.

As the aforementioned stats illustrate, marketing case studies are important because they help you sell your company’s product. They validate the statements your company makes about your product, and allow potential buyers to see your product in action. This blog post will help you secure and create a case study that sets your company apart from its competitors.

Here’s what you need to do to secure a case study.

Steps for Getting a Marketing Case Study

The first (and often hardest) part of creating a marketing case study is getting a customer to agree to one. No doubt many customers are pleased with your product. But it’s no small thing for them to take time out of their busy schedule to talk about how awesome the product or service they’re paying for is.

Many larger companies also have formalized rules around providing testimonials. This can extend the process of getting a case study, as they have to go through legal, senior management, and more, just to get approval.

Increase your case study prospects. Create a formalized process that ensures you get the case studies you need on a regular basis.

Meeting

Meet with customer success, sales, and marketing to get them on board with creating regular case studies. From this meeting, create a formal document that outlines how to submit marketing  case study opportunities, the frequency that customer success are expected to do so, and the process/time commitment involved after a client has agreed to participate.  
Include a case study request email template to save customer success time. Consider these sample templates:

Case Study Request Templates (SitePoint)
Case Study Request Templates (Boast)

Including It in the Contract

Some companies choose to include a customer testimonial or case study commitment in part of their purchase agreement. This is a great way to guarantee you’ll have case studies in the pipeline. It’s also a conflict of interest, and some would argue flirts the line of ethical behavior. By including case studies in a contract, you’re essentially paying for testimonials.

You want to publish only truly impressive, stand-out marketing case studies. Customers who are doing so well with your product that you’d want to make a case study from their experience are likely to be happy to help. Customers who need a contract to be forced into a case study aren’t often the ones you want as a face for your brand.

Gather Information for Your Marketing Case Study

After a customer agrees to do a case study, take the following steps to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Send an Email

It should introduce you if you haven’t already. Confirm the date and time for your first phone call or in-person meeting. Address the time commitment of the case study, and include the questions you plan on asking.

With customer testimonials the person you’re interviewing needs to have well-spoken and thought out responses about your product. Here are some sample questions you could ask:

How did you find out about our company?
What made you start looking for our solution?
Which other products did you look at before deciding on ours?
Why did you choose our solution above others?
How has using our solution been so far? Tell us about your experiences and what you’ve done with it?
How has our product benefitted you and your team?
What results have you seen with our solution so far?
What do you hope to do with our product moving forward?

Interview

Next, conduct the interview. Whether it’s in person or over the phone, make sure to record the interview for transcription later. Make sure to inform them that you’re recording them. Aside from being common courtesy, it’s also illegal in some states to record someone without their consent. As you’re interviewing, make note of any especially interesting points, as well as numerical results.

Take Pictures and Record Video

If you’re conducting an interview onsite, take pictures and video. If not, ask your customer to send some over. The more visual your marketing case study is, the better. According to Animoto, four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.

Transcribe

Transcribe and fact check the interview. Try using a service website like Fiverr for quick transcription that won’t break the bank.

Gather Data

Find out information about the company and their results with your product outside of the interview. Ask if you can see their results or look into their reporting for numerical information to back up the information in the interview. If they don’t have this information, look internally for more general stats on your product’s impact on the people that use it.

Find a Story, Start Writing

Once you have all the data you need, start pulling together your copy, video, and images into a shareable document. Use the marketing  case study template below to create a first-class case study.

Marketing Case Study Template
Title

Too many companies title their case studies things like “[insert company name here] Case Study.” This is both boring and uninformative. Use the case study title to help potential readers decide if it’s something that applies to them. Include a description of the company and some of their results. E.g. “Case Study: How CS2 Compliance Is Succeeding With Curata Content Curation Software”


Subtitle

The subtitle should round out the reader’s expectations of what’s in the study. Include more numerical improvements, or an overview of what happened. E.g. “Creating and Growing an Excited Community in a Highly-Regulated, Niche Market”

Their Company Overview

We recommend pulling the company overview directly from the company’s website. It should be two or three sentences and highlight parts of the company most important to your audience. If you’re looking to highlight the company size, mention it here.

Your Company Overview

It’s okay to use a boilerplate description here. However, if there is something else that might be beneficial to include in this particular use-case—add it. If you have more than one product description in your boilerplate description, focus on the product the marketing case study focuses on.

Introduction

The introduction should present the company you’re talking about and their problem. Here’s an example:

CS2 Compliance, a regulatory consulting firm for financial services clients, wanted to build a community for its clients and save time answering regulation-specific questions in individual emails. They wanted a solution that made content creation easier, found topical subjects in their industry, and enabled them to quickly publish to their website and newsletter.

Solution

The next section should introduce your product and why your customer went with you. Example:

They chose Curata Content Curation Software (CCS). Curata CCS uses machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence to help marketers discover and publish industry-specific content across marketing channels.

Action

This should describe how your product or service was implemented and how it made the overall process smoother, easier, cheaper, etc. Example:

CS2 uses Curata CCS to curate articles that answer a variety of FAQs, building a robust content program including discussion boards, webinars, and frequent newsletters. This has led to strategic and streamlined website content and newsletter publication for CS2.

Results

Finally, show the results. They support the statement that this company was successful with your product. If you have further information about how customers perform with your product, include it here. Include how your client is planning on using your product in the future to grow and expand their goals. Example:

Newsletters now have an open rate of 42.52 percent, and a click-through rate of 23.11 percent, both significantly above industry averages. With Curata, CS2 exceeded community registration goals by over 60 percent. CS2 is now using Curata to expand their reach and create custom experiences for each sub-audience within their online community.

Pull Quotes

Once the meat of your marketing case study is written, choose some pull quotes to highlight. Example:

CS2 co-founder and president Mary Harris King had this to say about Curata: “Curata keeps our current clients up-to-date with interesting articles while integrating with our public facing website so potential clients can see our newsfeeds, and sign up for the daily news digest, etc. It’s a great way to reach both audiences.”

Statistics

Case studies are a compelling way to convince prospects to buy your product. They’re even more compelling when your claims are supported by data and hard information. Use company information and stats, outside numbers, and numbers from your customer to round out your marketing case study. Writing on how curation improves content marketing ROI? Include a stat from a trusted source. Example:

Over 50 percent of marketers that curate content indicate that it has increased their brand visibility, thought leadership, SEO, web traffic, and buyer engagement.

Conclusion

Many case studies include a conclusion at the end wrapping up all the details. Instead, try a big, colorful CTA. While a conclusion is nice, making sure the reader doesn’t have to consume more than they need is even better. If your marketing case study is very long, include the most important points at the beginning in bullets.

Distribute and Promote Your Marketing Case Study

Case studies are effective on your website and as a sales enablement tool. They should also be sent to your sales team. Include a description of what it’s about and the situations it should be most effective for.

Other ways to maximize the impact of a case study include:

Place it on your home page
Send an email sharing it with the case study’s target audience, or as part of your newsletter
Write a supplemental blog post to drive traffic to the case study. Focus on the problem solved in the case study and write an informational post on that topic
Add the case study to relevant landing pages
Add it to you or your coworkers’ signatures
Insert it into a slideshow or longer presentation on product use cases
Share the case study on social media

Examples of Awesome Marketing Case Studies

For more information, check out some standout case studies by other companies.

Bitly

Bitly marketing case study exampleBitly’s case study is notable for a couple of reasons. First, their decision to use a slide deck over a single page document. It’s easy to digest and different enough that it piques the reader’s interest. The layout is sleek and skimmable with easy takeaways. Bitly includes images and a colorful layout that’s more interesting than a traditional, text-heavy marketing case study.

Kantar Media Division Cymphony

Kantar media created a case study video of their work for Samsung. For a service-based product, this form of marketing case study proved extremely effective. Kantar describe their process, their findings, and their results in a quick, story-heavy video.

Zendesk

Zendesk include customer testimonials in a visually appealing multimedia library on their website. This allows visitors to search by use case, industry, and company size to find the most relevant story to them.

For an example of one of Curata’s case studies, check out “How CS2 Compliance is Succeeding With Curata Content Curation Software” [pdf].

Marketing case studies can be hugely effective. They provide proof of concept to potential buyers, and drive your audience further down the funnel. They can also serve as a powerful sales enablement tool. For more on how to drive your audience further down the funnel and measure your content’s efficacy, read Curata’s eBook: Content Marketing Metrics: Account Based Marketing Edition.

The post The Ultimate Marketing Case Study Template appeared first on Curata Blog.

10 of the Best Ads from June: Boomerang, Bugs, and a Perfectly Useless Chatbot

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It’s finally, finally summer.

To celebrate the sun emerging (and the temperature in our offices dropping to subarctic extremes), I attempted to find some summery ads to feature in this month’s roundup. Instead, I ended up with a weird chatbot, a novelty phone, and several ways to kill bugs. 

Regardless of seasonal appropriateness, this month’s ad roundup showcases some inventive ad formats and new concepts from agencies around the world. Check them all out below. 

10 of the Best Ads from June
1) Bufdir (The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs)

This heartwarming ad from Oslo-based agency Kitchen (Leo Burnett/Publicis) racked up 120 million views in just one week — and the hype is completely deserved.

To emphasize the importance of community in raising a child, “The Lunchbox” tells the story of a young boy who finds himself without a lunch at school. After wandering the halls of his school to kill time, he returns to his desk to discover each of his classmates have pitched in an item for a complete meal. 

 

2) Arby’s

Chatbots are shaping up to be an inescapable trend in 2017, and it seems like every brand is jumping on the wagon — regardless of industry. 

With the ad world fawning over Domino’s pizza tracking tool, Arby’s teamed up with Minneapolis-based agency Fallon to create a high-tech chatbot of their own: The Arby’s Pizza Slider Chatbot. Despite the name, this little Facebook Messenger bot will not actually help you order a pizza slider (or anything) from Arby’s. In fact, it’s designed to do absolutely nothing helpful. 

Check out my conversation with the bot below. (Unsurprisingly, the Arby’s Pizza Slider bot has no time for vegetarians.)

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3) Howler Magazine

Back in the late 80’s, Sports Illustrated released an exciting new offer: Buy a subscription to the magazine, and you got a free football shaped phone. If this ad was any indication, people were psyched. The kitschy little device convinced literally millions of people to shell out $55 for an SI subscription.

Fast forward to 2017, and the folks at Howler, an American soccer magazine, teamed up with Kovert Creative to produce a delightful, celebrity-studded spoof on the classic campaign. Their version features — what else? — a soccer ball phone, and includes appearances from comedians Sarah Silverman, Will Arnett, and Jack Black, among others.

Unfortunately for novelty phone aficionados, Howler only made one soccer phone. And according to their website, it’s already taken.

The Soccer Ball Phone

Introducing the Soccer Ball Phone! We teamed up with some of our favorite comedians to parody those iconic magazine commercials that were all over TV in the early ‘90s. Go to https://fifa.wtf/soccerballphone for a special subscription offer now!

Posted by
Howler Magazine on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

 

4) Showtime – Ray Donovan

The copywriting shines in this ingenious promo spot for Showtime’s crime drama, Ray Donovan, now entering its fifth season. The first half of the ad features an ominous, threatening voice over from series star Liev Schreiber. In the second half, Schreiber’s phrases are repeated in reverse order, taking on a completely different tone: reassuring and protective. The ad — created in-house at Showtime — perfectly captures the title character’s duality.

 

5) Nutella

Using a special randomizing algorithm, Ogilvy & Mather Italy developed seven million unique jar designs for Nutella. Each colorful package is 100% one-of-a-kind, but if you’re looking to pick one up, you’re late to the game: According to the agency, all seven million of the limited-edition jars sold out in one month at Italian supermarkets. 

 

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6) SM Supermalls

This Father’s Day ad from the Phillipines went viral for its heartwarming (and hilarious) twist ending.

Created by Tribal Worldwide Philippines for SM Supermalls, the ad follows a family as they prepare for the daughter’s extravagant birthday bash. Throughout preparations leading up to the event, the father looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. We soon find out he’s not quite as unemotional as he seems. 

Daddy’s Girl

Most of us share an emotional bond with our moms. But with our dads? It’s a bit more complicated. Watch now and share with us your own #DadsDayFeels!?❤ #HaveAHappyDadsDay

Posted by
SM Supermalls on Saturday, June 10, 2017

 

7) Delta

According to research from Wieden + Kennedy New York, singles who feature travel pictures on their Tinder profiles are more likely to be swiped right. But if you can’t afford to travel to an exotic locale for the selfie opportunities, Delta has you covered. 

The airline worked with W+K to create the #DeltaDatingWall, a mural in Brooklyn that features perfectly Instagram-sized selfie backgrounds of cities around the world. So if you want to trick your future husband into thinking you visited Honolulu and Zurich in the same day, this is the ideal place to do it. 

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8) Nature Conservancy Brazil

To bring attention to the not-so-distant consequences of climate change and inspire some environmental urgency, the Nature Conservancy Brazil launched a line of apocalypse supplies called The Products of Tomorrow.

Presented in slick, futuristic packaging, the products seem innocuous at first: an apple wrapped in a silver bag, a canister of sunscreen, a bottle of water. But on closer inspection, the details paint a scary vision of our future: the apple is only 3% fruit, the sunscreen is SPF 350+, and the bottled water is “low-acidic rain water.”

 

9) Bacardi

In this colorful, BBDO New York-produced ad for Bacardi, the residents of a idyllic Caribbean town are quite literally caught in a repetitive loop. Inspired by Instagram’s Boomerang effect, the summery spot features a catchy beat from Major Lazer. 

 

10) Flora

Who says print ads can’t break some new ground? This Brazilian magazine ad for Mat Inset insecticide from WMcCann invites consumers to “Discover two ways to kill insects.” One is the product, and the other is this delightfully low-tech innovation:

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What Is Channel Strategy? What Marketers Should Know

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Be honest. Do you know what your non-marketing colleagues do all day?

Sure, you might have a general idea of what your co-workers in sales, finance, and HR do, at least categorically. But it seems that many of us — myself included — have those days, weeks, and months when we’re so bogged down in our own daily hustle, that we become a bit oblivious to what everyone else around us is working on. After all, that’s probably why the phrase, “put your blinders on” exists.

But while a colleague’s job might look different from our own, there’s actually quite a bit that we, as marketers, can learn from them. One of those things is channel strategy. New Call-to-action

That’s why I recently sat down with my colleague, Adrianne Ober, a Channel Consultant here at HubSpot. After speaking with her about what she does every day — and about the most important knowledge she’s gained in this role — I’ve realized that there are a lot of channel strategy lessons that marketers can apply to their own work.

So, what did we learn? Read on to find out — or listen to our interview with Adrianne by pressing “play” below.

What Is Channel Strategy?

A channel strategy, according to TechTarget, “is a vendor’s plan for moving a product or a service through the chain of commerce to the end customer.”

In many environments, this kind of channel strategy takes the form of a reselling program — here at HubSpot, we work with Marketing Agency Partners who not only grow with HubSpot software but also, teach their clients how they, too, can be more successful with it.

That’s where channel consultants like Ober come in. “My role is a combination of an account manager and an implementation specialist,” Ober explains, but her day-to-day work encompasses much more than that. “Our focus is to work with our new Agency Partners, to onboard them to the program and support their reselling and delivery efforts.”

Reselling programs aren’t exactly uncommon, especially within tech companies, but what makes Ober’s job different is its true partnership nature. “We really do invest a ton more than other companies do in their partner programs,” she says, “to ensure they are getting the most out of it to help grow their businesses.”

What Can Marketers Learn From a Channel Consultant?
Building Your Own Channel Strategy

Not all marketers work for agencies, but many of us are responsible for positioning our respective products and services as solutions for our target audiences. For example, HubSpot’s Marketing Software provides automation solutions for marketers — what solutions does your organization offer?

In a way, channel strategy could be described as a formal approach to word-of-mouth marketing. How can you provide solutions to your customers that they, in turn, can share with and provide to their own networks? Ober challenges and encourages marketers to ask that question, find the best answer, and make it a reality.

There’s a “relationship-building aspect” of every marketer’s job, she explains, even for those who don’t work with customers directly. Chances are, you’re still responsible for crafting the messages and content that’s going to reach customers, and ultimately, that’s one way for brands to build a relationship with a target audience — by establishing themselves as a trustworthy, shareable resource for solving problems and meeting needs.

But where can marketers begin? “Product knowledge is … imperative,” Ober says. Start by becoming an expert in the solutions provided by your organization — not just the products and services you offer, but also, with the industry at-large. “We need to be comfortable with usage and training,” she explains, in order to establish that trust with both current and potential customers.

A Marketer’s Biggest Pain Points

The thing about HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program — one that even I’m guilty of forgetting — is that its channel consultants work with marketers, day in and day out. That means people in Ober’s position hear about the most common struggles faced by marketers every day and are tasked with proactively offering solutions.

So not only can marketers stand to benefit by implementing their own strategies — but speaking with people like Ober, it turns out, can help us to take a step back, examine our biggest pain points, and figure out how to efficiently tackle them.

“The biggest struggles I hear about are pricing, process, scaling, hiring, and time management,” she explains. In other words: growing pains. “In order for agencies to scale their businesses, they need to develop a repeatable process, which means they need to have a handle on time management for their team and make the right hires at the right time.”

Sound familiar? Maybe that’s why growth marketing is such a hot topic right now — no matter the size of the company they work for, it seems that these are pains experienced by a number of marketers. Those working in SMBs are often tasked with many of the responsibilities mentioned by Ober to help their employers grow. And those working for larger organizations, while not necessarily tasked with growing the business, are often tasked with building, executing, and growing new campaigns and initiatives.

That’s why it’s so important, Ober says, to make time for the learning process, no matter how “underwater” marketers tend to feel when they’re facing deadlines and other time-sensitive priorities.

“Our most successful partners make the time to build their process, invest in the education we provide for their team and take the time to price their services appropriately,” she says. “Marketers can and should make time to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry [they work in], connect with peers, and read up on trends.”

A Similar Skill Set

Finally, I asked Ober, “What else can marketers learn from a channel consultant?” To answer that, she pointed to many of the skills required of her job that overlap with those most crucial to a marketer’s success.

“This role requires us to confidently assess a marketing strategy as it relates to the overall goals,” she says, “whether it’s for a Partner Agency’s own marketing or one of their clients.”

And no matter what their industry, it seems that skill is highly valuable to all marketers — to be able to objectively measure their own strategies, and to figure out what is (not) working.

And “even more so,” Ober explains, is the shared, necessary ability of both marketers and channel consultants “to recommend the right tools and approach to go with the strategy.”

But doing that requires a high-level of communication skills, whether you’re making these recommendations to customers, your colleagues, or your boss. “We need to be able to [identify] not only where these gaps may be,” Ober points out, but also to align them with goals. Skilling up in those areas, she says, can ultimately help marketers accurately evaluate the feasibility of a situation, whether it’s marketing strategy or budget — or being able to predict how (and if) your brand will resonate with a given audience.

Looking Forward

With INBOUND on the horizon, Ober says she’s looking forward to discussing channel strategy and exchanging knowledge with industry professionals.

“I love seeing my Partners in person,” she shares. “I’m excited to talk with them about some products that were teased last year and are in beta now.”

But maybe even more than that, is how excited she is to hear about other marketers’ ideas.

“INBOUND is a place for peers to connect, and [we all] come away from the event with a ton of ideas,” she says, “and, as a result, a ton of motivation to dig in.”

Have you used channel strategy or consulting? Let us know in the comments.

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The Next Wave in Digital Agency Marketing: Brick-and-Mortar Pop-Ups

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At this point, everyone knows that e-commerce is no longer “the next big thing” — it’s the current big thing. eMarketer estimates e-commerce sales will reach $4.058 trillion in 2020, or 14.6 percent of total retail projections for that year.

The e-commerce space is a hot, crowded market, and the brands that rise to the top will have to be able to cultivate a loyal and rabid fan base. As an agency pro, it’s your job to help your clients grow that base.

You’re probably already killing it using social media, paid advertising, and other digital tools and techniques. However, when even those tried-and-true channels become stale, it’s time to step outside of what we do every day to gain a new perspective.

One way to do that is by placing your clients in a physical location — at least temporarily. 

Thinking outside the box in this way helps them build stronger relationships with their customers, as well as connect organically with fans of similar brands. While people like to purchase online for the convenience, the truth is that many consumers would love to be able to touch, smell, and see whatever it is they’re buying in person.

Building a Concrete Case for Brick-and-Mortar 

According to Retail Dive’s Consumer Survey, 62 percent of consumers want to examine and try out items before buying. Researching products online is key, but most people enjoy the tactile experience of hunting for them and actually touching them.

Shopping is a form of recreation for much of America. One could go so far as to say that America’s real favorite pastime involves going to a store, browsing the options, picking things up, and putting them back — all of which can increase brand awareness and tighten the bond between the brand and the consumer, even if it doesn’t result in a sale.

Of course, e-commerce brands are online for a reason, so diving into brick-and-mortar storefronts may not be in their business plan. That’s why agencies should use physical locations to cross-promote their e-commerce brands. It’s not about making a complete pivot to brick-and-mortar locations — it’s about making a brand’s presence known in a clear and tangible way and boosting consumer interest by bringing related brands together under one roof.

We did this recently at Hawke Media with a new initiative called The Nest. Basically, we took the co-living and co-working cooperative trend to the next level and offered our clients an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a co-retail space.

Launching a Pop-Up Store That Performs

For our recurring pop-up retail space, we curate 10 complementary client brands — including fashion, lifestyle, health, and beauty brands for both men and women — and bring them together seamlessly, without any direct competition.

Every brand has its own custom-tailored space in the store, but we chose certain design elements that lend overall cohesion to the layout of the shop. We produce six in-house events featuring live music, drinks, and giveaways, beginning with a kickoff where each brand can invite 150 guests so there are supporters of each one in attendance.

By launching The Nest, we helped our clients provide a new experience to their customers and cross-pollinate with fans of other brands with minimal involvement on their part. We reached more than 2,800 new customers in person, as well as hundreds of thousands of people on social media.

Before you can make physical cross-promotion work effectively, you have to identify the right e-commerce clients by asking two questions:

Who needs a physical touchpoint the most?
Who will be able to capitalize fully?

Identify brands that currently sell only online but whose products would benefit from being seen and felt in a brick-and-mortar space. Sometimes, it’s difficult to adequately convey their subtle, yet tangible, selling points in the digital realm. Consider the scent of a candle, the taste of craft tea, or the comfort of a hoodie.

Putting clients who sell products such as these into a physical space allows them to establish a connection with a larger pool of potential customers and really showcase what makes them so unique.

Brand buy-in is vital. A lot of e-commerce companies disregard brick-and-mortar options altogether, and that’s OK. They know their space and where they have the best chance of success, so they’re probably not the ones you would ask to pursue a physical channel.

With The Nest, we drove the promotion and awareness-building efforts surrounding the space, and the brands brought in the people and inventory. If the brands aren’t all-in on maximizing the effort to make the experiment work for them, it will weaken the experience for everyone.

Find clients who are excited to try new things and willing to experiment. Collaboration is also key; brands have to be willing to cross-promote each other and share the wealth. The right brands will make any physical location the place to be.

The Keys to Cross-Pollination

Co-retailing is not about huge spikes in revenue: It’s about the experience and about cross-pollinating customers from brand to brand.

Remember these three key points to keep your agency and your brands focused on the goals of a temporary pop-up store:

1) Encourage brands to invite their most ravenous customers. 

In order for brands to cross-pollinate, they have to bring out people who care about the whole industry, not just their brand. If only friends, family, and targeted shoppers show up, they won’t engage with the other brands in the space.

2) Promote it as a social experience. 

People love farmers markets and festivals for a reason: The experience of browsing is often as good as gaining access to the products. Encourage your brands to re-create that experience, and include brands with broad social reach that will entice even more followers to come out. If you have 10 brands, and each introduces 50 of its own fans to another brand, you’ve helped each brand reach 450 new potential customers.

3) Focus on awareness. 

This is a play for attracting customers, not a direct attribution play. When you gather your brands together, it gives their super fans the ability to form connections with other brands. It’s not about driving a direct response, building revenue, or fueling sales; it’s about letting people experience the product and the brand’s culture. Accentuate visual, aural, auditory, or olfactory features — anything that affects the senses will strengthen the connections formed in the space.

As a digital agency, you’re already taking all of the essential steps to serve your clients. But every other digital agency is serving its clients with the same tactics. Doing the same things your competitors do means settling for the same returns or worse. You need novel ways to help your clients’ brands take flight.

Creating a co-retail space was one of the best things we’ve done for our clients in the last year. Opening up to new fan bases lifted everyone’s brand awareness, and allowing customers to see, feel, taste, and experience their products deepened connections.

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Lessons Learned During the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s Email Overhaul

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A few months ago, I took on the task of evaluating and reinventing the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s email subscription.

It’s not that our email subscription wasn’t working. We were gaining an impressive number of subscribers each month. Those subscribers we’re opening and clicking on our subscription emails — and we had the traffic numbers to prove it. But those insights and metrics just scratched the surface when it came to the health of our subscription.

A deeper analysis revealed that we were losing subscribers at nearly the same rate we were gaining them — we had a churn problem. And in some cases, the cause of drop-off had something to do with the frequency at which we were sending these emails.

It was clear that we were leaving opportunity on the table when it came to subscriber longevity and engagement. And perhaps more importantly, it was time to do something about it.

Digging Into Our Existing Email Subscription

Until recently, our email subscription unfolded like this:

Step 1: Someone subscribes to receive either a Daily or Weekly email from us.
Step 2: HubSpot generates an RSS email of our latest content.
Step 3: Subscriber receives the email.

Since we never messed with the existing email subscription in the past, there were seemingly endless opportunities for how the new model might take shape. But before I nailed down a new path, I decided to dig into our current emails and subscriber expectations to see what was going on. This meant crunching some numbers, as well as surveying our unengaged subscribers to diagnose what exactly was keeping them from finding value.

Here’s what I found …

3 Key Takeaways From An Analysis of Our Old Subscription Model
1) Our subscriber list was growing, but people weren’t sticking around.

At the time of my initial research, we were churning approximately 10% of our total subscriber list size each month. I’ll dive into the reasons why folks were likely churning in greater detail below, but quite simply, our subscribers were jumping ship because their needs weren’t being met.

When we took a closer look at exactly how long subscribers were staying engaged with our subscription emails for, we found:

On average, 16% of new Marketing Blog subscribers unsubscribe of their own volition before the six-month mark.
On average, The Marketing Blog retains ~22% of new subscribers for six or more months.

What’s the consequence here? Well, considering that we’re acquiring a sizable number of new subscribers each month, keeping them engaged for a longer period of time means:

More traffic from new subscribers
A better subscriber experience
Better list health and deliverability
More opportunity to convert subscribers into leads

At this point, there are all things that we were missing.

2) Subscribers were overwhelmed by the number of emails they received.

Once churn and engagement numbers were crunched, we decided to issue a survey to the subscribers who were starting to lose interest in our subscription. One of the major themes that surfaced in their responses? Email overload.

In fact, 30% of survey respondents said that the number one thing they didn’t like about our blog experience was the number of emails they received. For more context, here’s a look at some of the raw responses we got:

“Content is good, just send it less often.”
“I would really like it a couple of times a week. Not every day, but not once a week either. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday cadence would be good.”
“It was too much.”
“Too frequent. Would gloss over them as spam.”

3) Subscribers didn’t always feel that the content was relevant to them.

The cool thing about running a blog that’s been around for so many years is that some of our subscribers have been there since the beginning. They’ve skilled up through the ranks with the help of our content and have evolved into savvy inbound marketers. But then there are our new subscribers — each with varying degrees of marketing experience and interest.

Was our existing email subscription meeting the needs of everyone? Not quite. Mostly because we were sending the same exact blog posts to our subscriber base, regardless of their content preferences.

Launching a New Wave of Subscriptions

Taking what we learned from our old subscription, along with all of the feedback collected from our existing subscribers, we set out to design a new model.

We had two goals in mind:

Reduce subscriber churn
Improve clickthrough rate

And we planned to hit those goals by solving for two problems:

Finding a way to provide a more personalized content experience. This issue surfaced a ton in the feedback we collected from our existing subscribers. To keep people coming back for more, we needed to create a more tailored content experience.
Determining a more manageable email cadence. People were overwhelmed. They couldn’t keep up with every single daily send and they wanted us to pump the breaks.

With these two core challenges in mind, we landed on was a twice-weekly newsletter series made up of four goal-oriented editions:

Get Inspired. Outstanding marketing examples, design inspiration, and game-changing ideas that’ll keep you on your toes.
Get Growing. The hacks, strategies, and actionable advice you need to master inbound marketing and reach your growth goals.
Get Ahead. The latest marketing and tech news to keep you in the know and ahead of the curve.
Get Better. Expert career and professional growth guidance designed to help you skill up, stay motivated, and work smarter.

We also offer a “Get All of Them” option, where subscribers receive a newsletter contained the best of each edition.

How the New Subscription Works

Launched at the beginning of May, the new subscription was only rolled out to new subscribers — existing subscribers would still receive their daily or weekly sends while we tested out the new model. The goal was to roll out the new emails to our entire subscriber base once we had an opportunity to do some testing.

Here’s how it played out …

1) Visitors opt-in via any of our subscription CTAs across the website and blog.

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2) New subscribers receive a welcome email once they sign up with a link to a subscription preferences page.

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3) Subscribers choose which email newsletter best fits their interests and needs.

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For example, someone tasked with growing their brands presence online might subscribe to the Get Growing newsletter. This edition offers marketing tips and advice on building and executing on an inbound strategy that scales.

With Change Comes Complications …

Going into this experiment, I had a theory about what would happen. I’d done some research and I’d put a lot of thought into the changes we were making.

But once I got the new subscription off the ground, a couple of unexpected things happened …

People weren’t flowing into the newsletter lists all that smoothly.

In fact, the edition-specific subscriptions were growing really slowly — so much so that we decided to hold off on sending content due to the diminutive size of lists.

It was clear that this bucketing process proved to be more complicated than we’d anticipated. The welcome email — which houses the subscription preferences landing page link — was seeing a 40% open rate, leaving 60% of folks unaware that tailored subscription options even existed. And clickthrough data revealed that less than 5% of subscribers had visited the subscription preferences page to date.

The “Get All of Them” list was the only one showing significant growth.

Interestingly enough, folks were flowing into the list for the all-inclusive newsletter — the one that contained a mix of content from each of the four niche editions. This is the one list that we actually did start sending emails to.

To be fair, this was an easier list to end up on for a few reasons. For one, we decided to auto-subscribe folks who chose not to personalize their subscription to the Get All of Them option — these subscribers made up 36% of the whole list.

We also auto-subscribed those coming in via the subscribe checkbox on our lead generation forms to avoid sending them a kickback and a welcome email all at once — these subscribers made up roughly 60% of the whole list.

That meant that only the remaining 4% of subscribers on the total Get All of Them list voluntarily opted-in to receive that newsletter on the subscription preferences landing page.

What Gives?

We asked. They answered. We listened.

Yet it seemed as though our solution to the tailored content problem was missing the mark. Did people really want personalized content enough to take the extra step? We weren’t so sure anymore — especially after we took a look at the numbers for the emails we did send.

The (Early) Numbers

Complications aside, we do have several weeks worth of Get All of Them sends and findings under our belt. And much to our surprise, the numbers have been pretty inconsistent — and a little underwhelming.

Clickthrough & Open Rate

After seven sends, the average clickthrough rate for the Get All of Them newsletter falls at about 5.1%, while the last seven sends of the existing Daily and Weekly emails saw 5.3% and 6.7% clickthrough rates, respectively.

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As for the open rate, the new subscription email saw an average of 34%, while the last seven sends of the existing Daily and Weekly emails saw 40.37% and 24.84%, respectively.

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Takeaway: The clickthrough rate for the new email fell a little short of its Daily and Weekly predecessors. This is likely due to the fact that this newsletter is curated very similarly to the old subscription, in that subscribers are receiving a mixed bag of content on a variety of topics that may or may not be relevant to them. The open rate fell in the middle of the Daily and Weekly performance, revealing that twice weekly was a manageable cadence, but perhaps not the perfect solution.

Subscriber Churn Rate

The good news? Churn was down. The overall churn rate for twice weekly subscribers during the month of May was 4.2% — over a 5% reduction from the old subscription’s churn rate last month.

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Takeaway: This signals to us that folks are finding value in the two updates a week — at least enough to stick around. If we can keep churn low like this, we’ll be able to reap the benefits of increased traffic and improved list health.

Preparing for V2: What Needs to Change?

So, was this experiment a flop? Not really — and it’s not over. While there have been a handful of blockers, the important thing here is that we are learning something new by trying something different.

As we start to think about how to solve for the challenges that surfaced during the V1 launch of this new subscription model, there are a few lessons we can apply to set ourselves up for success in V2.

1) The design needs testing.

With the help of the comments I received via the feedback loop at the bottom of each email send, I determined that the new design wasn’t resonating with everyone. A few people suggested more visuals, while others noted it was a little lengthy.

We plan to run some A/B tests here to determine a format that inspires the best clickthrough rate.

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(Have ideas on how we can improve? Leave a comment — we’d love to hear them.)

2) The subscription preferences landing page is creating friction.

We knew going into this that asking subscribers to essentially opt-in twice wasn’t going to be easy. Asking folks to complete an action in the welcome email wasn’t ideal, but the dedicated landing page did allow us the time and space to explain the editions in detail.

Moving forward, we could eliminate that page altogether and provide an option to customize your subscription directly within the body of the email. This would eliminate the need for subscribers to clickthrough to the subscriptions page, and hopefully increase participation.

Another option? Renaming the newsletters so they are more self-explanatory and adding them as options directly on the subscribe CTA. This would eliminate the need for a welcome email and lower the barrier to entry.

3) We need to up the open rate.

The open rate for the new email sends exceed that of our existing Weekly subscription, but fell short of the Daily, proving it’s hard to stay top-of-mind when people aren’t hearing from you every single day.

To solve for this, we’re already experimenting with different days of the week to determine the best possible time to send these emails. We’re also exploring different subject line formats aimed at piquing interest and upping opens.

Variant A

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Variant B

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Results: Variant A (with the emojis) outperformed Variant B.

4) We need to find a way to introduce subscription tailoring to checkbox subscribers.

A look at the early numbers revealed that nearly 60% of our subscribers were coming in through the checkbox on our lead gen forms. After a discussion with our nurturing marketers, we opted to auto-subscribe these folks to receive the Get All of Them newsletter, rather than hitting them with two emails.

On a larger scale, we’re looking at ways to create smart, all-in-one kick back emails to be sent when a visitor takes an action that would typically prompt multiple follow up emails — for example, downloading an offer and subscribing to the blog at the same time. This internal project would give us the opportunity to introduce our subscription newsletters to all new subscribers, including those converting on the subscriber checkbox.

As a more immediate solution, we’ve started to add a snippet of text at the top of each email that encourages folks to check out the subscription preferences page if they wish to receive more personalized content.

Try, Try Again

It’s safe to say the road to a better, more personalized email subscription hasn’t been easy. There have been setbacks and curveballs, but mostly importantly, there’s been progress. We look forward to continuing to iterate on our new model in an effort to create an email subscription that people actually look forward to.

Want to check out the new subscription for yourself? Subscribe here and let us know what you think.

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