The Simple Test That Doubled Leads in One Week

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We’ve talked about the best practice of matching your offer and blog post topic as tightly as possible many times on the HubSpot Marketing Blog. But just in case you haven’t heard of this best practice before, I’ll give an example.

Let’s say you have a post explaining different types of commercial cooling systems that gets a steady amount of organic traffic each month. The best fit offer for this post would be a quiz to determine the right cooling system for your business, or a cooling systems pricing comparison sheet.

Because the offer closely aligns with what brought the visitor to your blog post in the first place — an interest in learning about commercial cooling systems — it’s natural for visitors to want to consume this additional content and convert on a lead form. On the other hand, an ebook on ventilation best practices probably wouldn’t convert traffic as well, since it’s not as well-aligned with the topic of the blog post.

A few years back, we did an audit of our highest organic traffic posts on the HubSpot Blog to see if our offers were as optimized for conversion as they could be. We found several areas to more tightly align blog post topic with offer topic, and saw CVRs climb. For example, conversions from this post increased considerably when we swapped a generic marketing offer for a press release template.

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The bottom of the post CTA

Fast forward to today. It had been a while since we took a look at those posts. After all, all of the optimization work that could be done had been done, right?

But then I started digging into the conversion rates of the offer landing pages themselves … and discovered a whole new gold mine of opportunity.

Here’s the quick and dirty of how I doubled leads from 50 of our top-performing blog posts in one week by analyzing landing page CVRs.

Gathering the Data

First, I created a massive spreadsheet that included data on:

  • Blog post traffic
  • Leads generated from blog posts (HubSpot customers, you can do this via attribution reports. Learn how here.)
  • Conversion rate of offer landing page

Here’s what that looked like (this snapshot features some of our worst-converting blog posts — clearly, there’s some work to be done):

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Blog data: URL, views, leads attributed, and CVR

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Separate tab with offer LP submission rate data

Then, I sorted by highest number of blog post views and highest number of leads generated, and started comparing to offer landing page CVR. This helped me prioritize my optimization efforts so I could see where the potential to move the needle was the greatest — i.e. an offer with a 70% submission rate but 800 monthly views wouldn’t be as good an opportunity to increase raw leads as one with a 45% submission rate and 15,000 monthly views.

The sweet spot was high blog post views + low number of leads generated + low landing page submission rate.

Auditing the Offers

Then, for the top 150 viewed blog posts, I manually audited and noted the URL of which offer LPs were being used. I found that some offers were tightly aligned to the topic of the blog posts while others were not. I also found that some of the offers we were directing visitors to were out of date — not the best experience.

Next up? Some VLOOKUP magic to match offer landing page submission rate to the blog posts that offer was being linked from. It quickly became clear that some of our best-performing blog posts were pointing to some of our worst-performing offers. I also spotted a few trends in subject matter among our lowest performers, such as social media, career development, and content creation.

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Finally, I went through our offers library and identified the content offers with the highest submission rates, and sorted them by topic category. These would be the replacements for the laggards.

The Results

After all this number crunching, I was able to identify 50 blog posts that represented our lowest-hanging fruit. I went through and swapped out these posts’ CTAs (or created new ones from scratch) for the most tightly-aligned offers with the highest submission rates.

The results were even better than I expected. After one week, these posts generated 100% more leads than average — even while post traffic was down 10%. This seemingly small tweak made a big impact on our leads.

We’ll be keeping an eye on how this pans out long-term. But in the meantime, here are a few takeaways and lessons learned I hope will be as valuable for your team as they were for ours:

  • When deciding what offer to pair with what blog post, don’t neglect to check the submission rate of the offer landing page. As we found, this is an easy way to quickly increase the number of leads you’re generating from your best-performing blog posts — especially if you have multiple offers on the same or similar topics.
  • Regularly audit your offers to ensure the content isn’t out of date. Outdated content will create a negative visitor experience and hurt your conversion rate.
  • Regularly audit the conversion paths of your top blog posts. Set aside time for optimization every few months so you can ensure you’re using your content to generate the most possible leads. Optimization isn’t a one-and-done thing.

Have you ever done a similar optimization project? Comment below with your best experiments and hacks to increase conversion rate below (and hey, we might even feature your experiment on our blog).

Intro to Lead Gen

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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.eMarketerestimates 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 toRetail 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 calledThe 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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9 Easy Ways to Get Busy People to Repond to Emails

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You might think you spend the majority of your time at work sitting in meetings or talking on the phone, but you could be wrong.

In fact, a significant portion of your work week could be spent writing, ready, and responding to emails.

A recent study from Adobe revealed that workers are spending 4.1 hours per week checking and interacting with our work emails. Despite the adoption of tools like Slack, workers are using email more than ever — and what’s more, it can take us up to 25 minutes to get back on task once we’ve interrupted by checking and reading email during the workday.

So needless to say, when you draft an email — whether it’s to your manager, your direct report, or a contact you want to work with — you want it to be well-crafted and impactful so it doesn’t expend even more time. So we’ve put together these tips for writing emails — that will get opened and replied to, without wasting anyone’s time.

How to Write Emails Your Contacts Will Actually Reply To

1) Write a descriptive subject line.

Your subject line should outline the reason for your email so the recipient is compelled to open and answer it. It should also be clear and succinct — after all, if your subject line is clear, your email will likely be, too. We suggest avoiding full sentences and only putting the meatiest part of your reason for emailing in the subject line.

Phrases to Avoid:

  1. “Checking in”
  2. “Touching base”
  3. “Following up”

Example Subject Lines:

  1. “Question about your blog post about Snapchat”
  2. “Meeting information for Monday, 5/1”
  3. “New data: 43% of consumers want video content”

2) Get to the point, and quickly.

In the opening lines of your email, you might be tempted to enumerate on your credentials or your organization, but you can do that later. Instead, the opening line of your email should immediately get to the point so the recipient immediately understands what’s being asked of them.

The basic format of a successful email should be:

  1. Opening greeting
  2. Reason for emailing
  3. Details
  4. Call-to-action
  5. Closing greeting

This format is considerate to your reader, who has trouble maintaining attention for long periods of time, and it compels you to write clearly and compellingly to make the recipient keep reading.

3) Use basic language.

Remember the episode of Friends when Monica and Chandler asked Joey to write them a letter of reference, and he used his thesaurus too enthusiastically?

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Source: Rebloggy

In this case, Joey changed so many words to their more advanced synonyms that his original meaning was completely convoluted. This can happen with your emails, too.

Resist the urge to use industry jargon or flowery language and stick to the basics. Make your sentences clear, straightforward, and short — if a sentence requires more than one comma, consider breaking it into two sentences. The easier your email is to understand, the easier it will be for the recipient to quickly respond.

4) Use numbers.

There are a few ways you can use numbers and statistics in your email that will make it easier to attract and keep the recipient’s attention.

  1. Numbers written as numerals (23) instead of words (twenty-three) have been shown to attract reader attention when they quickly scan what they’re reading online — which research shows internet users are more and more likely to do.
  2. Numbers as statistical data lend your email more credibility. Numbers represent facts, which your reader might be more compelled to respond to.

See what we did there? The numbered list probably drew your eye more than writing that out in paragraph format would have. Formatting helps too — more on that later.

5) Keep it as short as possible.

Keep it short and sweet.

Researchers analyzed over five years of emails, and they found that shorter emails resulted in faster response times. That’s helpful when you consider that reading and responding to emails can eat up so many hours in your week. Shorter emails help you and the recipient spend less time writing and replying to emails, which makes everyone more productive.

Our trick for keeping emails short is by typing them in Twitter first. Emails don’t have to be under 140 characters, but it’s a good guardrail for having maximum impact in fewer words. You can keep your emails shorter by using numbers, omitting unnecessary words like adjectives and adverbs, and thinking carefully about formatting. 

The ideal email length varies depending on your industry, but we suggest keeping your emails under 200 words in length. The average screen reading speed is 200 words per minute, so aiming to keep messages below that target is a good rule of thumb.

6) Use bullet points.

Whenever possible, use bullet points or a numbered list to organize your email structure. Here’s why:

  • Bullets don’t require full sentences, so you can use fewer words to get the same message across.
  • Bullets help break up the formatting of an email to maintain the reader’s attention.
  • Bulleted or numbered lists help clearly outline steps in a process that need to be taken, which is useful for email documenting meetings or initiatives.

We suggest using only three bullets. Studies have shown that our brains like to be presented with three options to consider. Use three bullets or numbered items in your emails for maximum impact.

7) Answer the question “so what?”

Just because the subject of your email is important to you doesn’t mean the recipient necessarily agrees. You need to ensure that your reader comes away from your email with the answer to the question “so what?”

Psychologist Ellen Langler found that the use of the word “because” made people more likely to comply with the request. By providing the reason behind asking someone to help you or do something for you in an email, you make it easier for the recipient to say “yes.”

When asking for someone else’s time and effort, make sure to include a “because … ” so they can understand the impact their compliance will have.

8) Make your ask clear.

Some emails have clear asks, and some emails do not. Either way, make sure to clearly state what exactly you need from the recipient of your email to make it easier for them to reply.

Remember the email structure we mentioned above?

  1. Opening greeting
  2. Reason for emailing
  3. Details
  4. Call-to-action
  5. Closing greeting

Start your email with the reason you’re emailing, provide the recipient with details and the “so what?” of your message, and close your email with a clear ask for next steps. Whether you need them to edit a blog post, attend a meeting, or you don’t need any specific action from them at that time, make sure that is the last line of your email.

The final line of your email will likely be most memorable, so if the recipient doesn’t reply right away, they’ll be able to easily remember what they need to do next.

9) Know when to take it offline.

Sometimes, the best email isn’t an email at all. Instead, it’s a phone call, a Slack direct message, a virtual conference, or an in-person meeting.

We’ve told you to keep your email as clear and succinct as possible. So if you’re drafting your message and finding that it requires any of the following, that could be an indication that it’s time to sit down and talk about what you’re working on:

  • If your email is highly time-sensitive, explore if there is a faster way to reach that person in the office or using a messaging app.
  • If it takes you multiple paragraphs to get your point across, consider if you want to produce a slide deck to present in a meeting.
  • If you need answers to multiple complicated questions (that don’t involve a yes or no answer), send a meeting invitation instead — but include the questions in the event description so the recipient can prepare.

A good indicator to determine if you should take your message offline is how long it takes you to write out your email. If you have to keep editing and rewriting to make your points clear, they might not be clear to your recipient, either. 

Luckily, meeting invites are short and sweet, and they involve a simple yes or no answer. Make sure to provide context in the event description, or a pre-meeting email, so attendees can prepare for the conversation early.

Email Is an Art

If you’re emailing your colleagues and contacts, they’ll understand a run-on sentence or a typo here and there (although we advise self-editing before pressing “send,” of course). But when it comes time to start emailing subscribers and leads on behalf of your brand, check out our free beginner’s email marketing guide for more suggestions and ideas.

What are your strategies for writing actionable emails? Share with us in the comments below.

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12 Growth Experts to Follow

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Growth hacking is one of those topics that remains awe-inspiring. There’s still a bit of elusiveness, but everyone wants to get in on it. After all, who doesn’t — whether holistically as a person, or when speaking of a business — want to grow? And while there might be many definitions surrounding the buzzword, we like growth hacker Aaron Ginn’s summation:

A growth hacker is someone whose passion and focus is pushing a metric through use of a testable and scalable methodology.”

This definition emphasizes how much entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals alike can learn from the depth of understanding possessed by growth hackers. It’s their abilities to draw connections between how a company is performing and the actions needed to lead to healthy, rapid growth, that improve performance and set a company up for success. New Call-to-action

But who are these growth experts? Where are they, and how can marketers find their insights and learn how to apply them? And since the term’s become so popular, how do you cut through the noise to find the most applicable expertise?

We’ve rounded up some of the top growth experts who have some of the best content and insights on growth hacking on the web. Following each of them will help you discover actionable strategies and best practices, so you might want to bookmark this page as a directory for future reference.

12 Growth Hacking Experts to Follow

1) Brian Balfour

Founder and CEO, Reforge

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Source: Heavybit

You can count Brian Balfour as another growth expert who cut his teeth in the startup sector. In fact, he’s been known to quote the words of investor Paul Graham: “Startups = Growth.” But here’s where Balfour’s unique skillset and knowledge comes in — not only was he the co-founder of startups like Viximo and Boundless Learning, both of which were acquired, but he also worked in venture capital (VC) as an entrepreneur-in-residence.

In other words, he’s seen both sides of the coin: The startup, and the investor. That experience lent itself to his previous role as VP of growth at HubSpot, as well as his position back in the business driver’s seat as founder and CEO of Reforge, a creator of growth programs. Follow his insights on his blog, Coelevate, or on the Reforge blog.

2) Andrew Chen

Head of Rider Growth, Uber

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Source: StartCon

Say what you will about Uber, but there’s one thing that most of us can agree on: It’s experienced unequivocal brand growth since its 2009 founding. But growth like that needs to be properly scaled, which is when you bring in an expert — like Andrew Chen.

Like Balfour, Chen has worked as both an entrepreneur-in-residence in the VC sector, and independently as what he calls an “entrepreneur-out-of-residence.” In both capacities, however, he focused on growing early-stage businesses, like Barkbox and Tinder, wearing the hats of both a business owner and an investor. The man loves growth — in fact, he even publicly identifies as the “plus one to” Zendesk’s own growth marketing expert, Brianne Kimmel.

Follow Chen’s insights on his website.

3) Sean Ellis

CEO, GrowthHackers

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Source: Popcorn Metrics

It could be said that Sean Ellis was a growth hacker before that term became, well, a thing. In August 2008, he became the “interim growth executive” for Eventbrite — a role that set the tone, it seems, for his career trajectory. Since then, he’s also served in interim growth roles with companies like Dropbox in their earliest stages. In other words, he helped some of the most recognizable names in tech — say it with me — grow.

Formerly the founder and CEO of marketing software company Qualroo, Ellis now has the same title at, quite appropriately, GrowthHackers: A community of resources and experts that “helps teams unlock their company’s full growth potential.” He also shares tips on his blog, Startup Marketing, where he (and we) recommends getting started with this post on “The Startup Pyramid.

4) Nir Eyal

Best-Selling Author, Consultant, and Public Speaker

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Nir Eyal’s LinkedIn profile is a visual feast for those who can’t get enough of stories about those who have led emerging companies to profitability and acquisition. It was his experience of that kind with companies like Sunshine Business Development and AdNectar that lent to the expertise that went into his best-selling book, Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products, which answers the question — among others — “How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?”

Aside from the book, Eyal’s tips and insights can be found on his blog. And get this — if you really want to pick his brain, you can even schedule time to chat with Eyal via his website.

5) Noah Kagan

Chief Sumo, Sumo Group

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Source: Sumo.com

Sometimes, we meet people who have done so much in such a short period of time that it forces us to ask, “How many lives have you had?”

That’s what we think when we look at the experience leading up to Noah Kagan’s role as Chief Sumo with the Sumo Group, the maker of tools to help companies grow website traffic. From Facebook to Mint, Kagan has helped to launch and market several products and services.

Kagan’s blog, OkDork, is what he calls a guide to “marketing, business musings, online communities and other things to kill time while you are at work.” But it’s also a community — he invites readers to participate, comment, and exchange thoughts. And, OkDork now houses the podcast he launched in December 2016, “Noah Kagan Presents.”

6) Brianne Kimmel

Growth Marketing, Zendesk

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Source: Twitter

Zendesk is one of those SaaS companies that just keeps killing it, despite a constantly-evolving environment. And that’s a big element in successful growth — having the agility to adapt to a changing market.

Within the walls of Zendesk, the aforementioned Brianne Kimmel oversees the marketing and growth strategies to embolden the company’s conversion. It’s not exactly her first rodeo, either — before her role there, she also contributed to the growth of companies like Hotwire and HotelClub, which is now an Orbitz company. And while we have yet to find a personal blog to host her insights — but, cough, we’d love to see one — she does share her expertise and insights as an instructor with General Assembly.

7) Fareed Mosavat

Senior PM, Growth, Slack

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Source: LinkedIn

It’s probably fair to count Fareed Mosavat as one of those marketers who mastered growth before it became a buzzword. Looking at his work experience, it’s clear that he’s set foot in a number of big-name, early-stage tech companies and led the growth of major products. From RunKeeper to Instacart, Mosavat knows how to take data and use it to build something significant.

When he wrote about his decision to join Slack on his Medium publication — which we highly recommend for thoughts and insights on growth — he credited the company’s deeply ingrained principles of “playfulness, empathy, diversity, and craftsmanship” with its “endless opportunity for meaningful growth and product work.” So he’s not all about data — he’s someone who also places equal importance on a qualitative, cultural approach to growth.

8) Neil Patel

Co-founder, KISSmetrics and Hello Bar

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Source: Pioneers.io

If you work in the digital marketing space in any capacity, chances are, you’ve at least heard of Neil Patel. He is, for lack of a better word, a bit of a growth rockstar. According to his LinkedIn profile, it wasn’t long after graduating from CSU Fullerton that he founded KISSmetrics, which has become one of the leading, most recognizable analytics platforms.

Today, Patel continues to juggle various outlets as a growth expert. He founded Crazy Egg, which creates a website heat map for marketers to observe which sections of a page get the most engagement. Then, there’s Quick Sprout, where he consults and leads an online “university” on growing website traffic — he also maintains a blog there, where he provides tips on conversion, marketing tech, and more.

As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Patel also keeps his own website up and running, where he has yet another blog full of teachable moments, “from ‘aha’ to ‘oh sh[*]t’.” Plus, he’s got a podcast: “Marketing School.

9) Sujan Patel

Co-founder, Web Profits (among many others)

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Source: Infusionsoft

Like everyone else on this list, we imagine that Sujan Patel is rather busy. In addition to his most recent role as the co-founder of growth marketing agency Web Profits, he’s also the co-founder of Mailshake, as well as one of the minds behind LinkTexting.

On top of that, Patel is constantly sharing his ideas and perspectives with the public, both as a regular contributor to Forbes, and through his personal blog. If you’re looking for inspiration, we recommend checking out his roundup of growth marketing underdogs.

10) Eric Peters

Senior Growth Marketing Manager, HubSpot Academy

Many marketers are faced with the lofty task of growing a brand or comprehensive strategy from scratch. They might be part of a newly-created marketing department, or building their own presence as an entrepreneur. And for many of them, the first step toward that growth is taking a free certification course in their HubSpot Academy Learning Center. Eric Peters is responsible for driving growth for HubSpot Academy’s free courses, which come with a suite of free marketing and sales tools to apply to what you’re learning in the HubSpot growth stack.

But he’s no stranger to this kind of growth marketing. Before HubSpot, he was tasked with measuring and optimizing how users flowed through the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company he previously worked for. In other words, it was his job to figure out the monetization part of that user movement — from acquisition, to activation, to upgrades. In the tech realm, it’s a path with which many marketers are familiar, or eventually have to master.

Peters often shares his insights with the public on the HubSpot Academy blog, and in videos like the one below.

11) Rebecca Rosenfelt

Product Manager, Airbnb

According to Crunchbase, Rebecca Rosenfelt arrived at Airbnb when it acquired her company, Inhabit Vacations. It was a brand that looked to provide travelers with truly local tastes, by connecting visitors to certain cities with the people who called it home. Today, Airbnb offers a similar service, by offering users curated experiences in a variety of cities.

It’s all part of Airbnb’s global growth strategy, and its efforts to cultivate a recognizable presence, including internationally, for not just home sharing, but also, a truly local experience anywhere in the world. It makes sense that Rosenfelt was picked as the person to initiate and oversee that growth — not only did she have the travel sector experience, but she also has the business chops, from her early work in global consulting to her ownership of a real-estate-focused magazine.

And while we certainly think of Rosenfelt as an expert, it seems as though she might be a bit modest about it — as far as we can tell, she no longer has a Twitter presence or personal blog. However, she does share her insights through a number of speaking engagements, like this one for Traction Conf:

12) Alex Schultz

VP of Growth, Facebook

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Source: Wired

At this point, we’d like to assume that the folks at Facebook know a thing or two about growth. In the span of 12 years, it’s gone from a small, academic-only online toy, to a publicly-traded, consistently growing media distribution platform. And since 2007, Alex Schultz has been the person in charge of that growth.

But for all the years he’s been with the company, Schulz was no stranger to tech marketing before his tenure at Facebook. He previously managed affiliate marketing in the U.K. for eBay, and in 1996, he’s said to have launched a website, paperairplanes.co.uk, “to help everyone have more fun with paper airplanes.” Take flight, indeed.

Get Growing

At first, growing something like this from scratch might look to be a daunting task that’s successfully executed by only a select few. But as these experts have shown, it can be done — and they’re more than willing to share their knowledge.

Plus, there’s a plethora of quality resources to help you master your growth, from blogs to HubSpot’s growth stack. As a next step, start to formulate a gradual plan, with manageable actions and benchmarks. And fear not — as this list shows, there’s always someone out there who will be willing to help.

Which growth experts would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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How Twitter Is Fighting Harassment & Cyberbullying

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I’ll say it: I love Twitter.

I use Twitter to follow breaking news stories, to promote my work and the work of colleagues and peers I admire, and to consume and laugh at jokes and memes. I like spending time on the platform to stay informed and connect with people.

But it goes without saying that I would like Twitter a lot less if I were being bullied and harassed every day.

Harassment has been a growing problem on Twitter over the past few years. Incidents like Gamergate, actor Robin Williams’ death, and the backlash over actress Leslie Jones’ casting in an all-female remake of Ghostbusters shed light on the ugly side of Twitter — the side where individuals hide behind egg profile photos and false names and use hateful, discriminatory language. In this post, we’ll dive into the history of the issue on Twitter and what the site recently announced it’s doing to fight it.

Twitter Fights Harassment: A Long Time Coming

There have been reports of Twitter harassment for almost as long as the site has existed. Blogger Ariel Waldman was one of the first users to chronicle just how difficult — and sometimes, impossible — it was to get Twitter to intervene in cases of repeated, pervasive harassment back in 2008. A stalker published her personal and contact information on the platform, which prompted a string of threats, stalking, and abusive tweets. Waldman started reaching out to Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey for help — only to find out that its terms of service were “up to interpretation,” and that the company wouldn’t intervene on her behalf.

Since then, prominent Twitter users have demanded Twitter take a harder line and shut down accounts that only exist to spew hate. Celebrities and public figures on Twitter have been able to get Twitter to suspend bullies’ accounts, but users demanded a better system for reporting, censoring, and silencing abusive language on the platform.

To make sure we’re all on the same page, Twitter Rules specifically prohibit the kind of abuse we’re talking about here — threats, hate speech, impersonation, and harassment on the basis of users’ race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability, disease, or nationality. However, until changes as recent as March 1, 2017, there haven’t been a lot of options for users who are being targeted to report and stop the abuse.

In December 2016, Dorsey asked for general user feedback — where else, but on Twitter:

A lot of people asked for the ability to edit tweets (I want that capability myself), but a huge portion of responses centered around harassment: providing more and better capabilities for users to stop and report it, more transparency into how abuse is handled by Twitter, and more swift punishment and suspension of repeat offenders.

Twitter started rolling out its responses to user demands in early 2017. Most of these features are operational, but some haven’t been fully implemented, so keep an eye out for these new measures if you ever have to report a tweet.

7 Ways Twitter Is Fighting Cyberbullying and Harassment

1) Expanded notification filtering

NotificationFilterAll_1.pngSource: Twitter

Twitter users can use this tool to filter which types of accounts they receive notifications from. For example, if you don’t want to receive notifications from a user without a profile photo, you could specify that. This tool is meant to filter out abuse from unverified accounts or specific people users have identified as unwanted.

2) More ways to mute content

MuteKeywordTimeline_2.png

Source: Twitter

Twitter expanded on the mute button’s capabilities so users can mute keywords or entire phrases from their notifications sections. Users can also decide how long they want to mute those words — whether it be for a day, a month, or indefinitely. In this way, you can customize which content you see in your notifications and when you see it.

3) Greater transparency around reporting

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Source: Twitter

Whereas previously, users had a hard time understanding when or if their reports of abuse were even being processed, Twitter is now providing transparency. Users will receive notifications when and if Twitter decides to take action so they can keep track of previous reporting.

4) Twitter “time-out”

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Source: BuzzFeed

In a recent article, (warning: explicit/offensive language) BuzzFeed reported that some Twitter users were seeing another new feature, similar to the time-out we all experienced as children (unless you were better behaved than I was). If users’ tweets are flagged as abusive or otherwise in violation of Twitter Rules, their tweets are temporarily limited from view by users who don’t follow them. Hopefully neither you nor your brand’s Twitter will see this notification, but the company is hoping it will send a message to abusers to stop what they’re tweeting or risk further punishment. 

5) Safer search results

Machine-learning algorithms will filter search results so users aren’t served content from accounts that have been reported, muted, or otherwise marked as abusive. The content will still be on Twitter if users are really looking for it, but if it could potentially be abusive, it won’t be served up as a primary search result.

6) Collapsing abusive tweets

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Source: Twitter

Twitter will start identifying and hiding tweets that are deemed “low quality” or from potentially abusive accounts so users see the most relevant conversations first. Like the safe search feature, those tweets will still be on Twitter — but users have to search for them specifically.

7) Stopping creation of new abusive accounts

Using another algorithm, Twitter will prevent abusive and flagged users from creating multiple new accounts they can use to spam and harass other users. The algorithm will scan for multiple accounts from the same email addresses and phone numbers, for example, as a way to spot potential bullies.

Machine Learning to Prevent Cyberbullying

If your personal Twitter or your brand’s Twitter are targeted by abuse and harassment on the platform, you have a host of new tools available at your disposal to make sure it stops and that your reputation isn’t affected.

I’m curious to learn more about the new algorithms’ efficacy to block one-off and repeated offenses, and it’s gratifying to see how seriously Twitter is taking this problem. Similar to Facebook’s prompt response after learning about the impact of pervasive fake news stories on the platform, it’s heartening to see social media platforms listening to what users ask for — and working to make social networks a safe place to be.

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5 Services Your Agency Shouldn’t Offer in 2017

The success of a marketing agency isn’t just tied to what you do (and do well) but also to the services you don’t provide.

The services we’re going to discuss today are — in our judgment — firmly in the “don’t” column. They’re either paths that have already been well-trodden by other big players, obsolete tactics that are starting to lose relevance, or services that don’t fit well into the modern marketing playbook.

If you’re thinking of adding any of the following four services in 2017, it might be time to change up your agency’s approach this year.

5 Services Your Agency Shouldn’t Offer in 2017

1) Facebook Killed the Video Ad

Video is touted as an excellent way to engage customers and convert leads, but it can also be relatively expensive and inconvenient to produce. If you agency hasn’t yet made the leap into video production, consider your next move carefully — investing in digital video capabilities is a high-risk, high reward strategy.

But how high is that reward, exactly? Late last year, Facebook drew ire when it revealed it had been artificially inflating video viewership statistics since 2014. If major video platforms have a history of inaccurately reporting views, it raises some big questions about the dependability of video ROI. 

If concerns about ROI don’t give you pause, think about this: specialized video marketing agencies have been doing video longer, know the marketplace better, and will have larger budgets. They’re also beginning to build in advanced features, such as interactive video, and 360-degree video ads. As a video neophyte, you’re unlikely to be able to offer these capabilities if you’re building a video service from the ground up in 2017.

2) Hang Up on Appointment Setting

Appointment setting has always been a weird fit in the marketing universe. Essentially, it’s like running a sales bullpen as a service (SBaaS?), which really has nothing to do with the typical content generation and placement duties of a traditional agency. Therefore, it’s going to be difficult and expensive for any agency to boot up an appointment setting service from scratch — and again, what’s the benefit?

The ROI of cold calling has always been low — and it’s been getting lower. A survey from the middle of last year shows that a large majority of sales professionals think that the effectiveness of cold calling has shrunk dramatically over the last several years.

A lot of people just don’t have phones at their desk any more, and most will simply hang up on numbers that they don’t already know. That’s why it’s probably a good reason to hang up on appointment setting in 2017.

3) Market Research: Don’t Compete, Collaborate

For your dollar, it’s nearly always going to be more lucrative to partner with an existing market research service than to build one of your own. As with video, the incumbents are going to rule — they’ve been around longer, know their subject better, and have more money to burn. In this case, however, it’s better to adopt that old maxim, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

There’s absolutely no shame in collaborating with a pre-existing market research agency. In fact, marketing collaboration has increased across the board. Last year, most client-side marketers (52%), collaborated with external agencies. The most common reason for this was a skills gap. If client-side marketers know that it’s okay to collaborate in the case of a skills gap, agencies should know it too.

4) Approaching the Link Building Apocalypse

Remember the “Mobilegeddon?” A new revision of the Google search algorithm set to raise the visibility of mobile sites at the expense of their desktop-bound competitors. The effect wasn’t initially epochal, but it did cause several major sites to drop in the rankings. Soon, link building may undergo a similar collapse.

Back in September, a new update to the Google algorithm known as Penguin went online. Its goal has been to find and penalize sites that operate in ways designed to game SEO. Link building isn’t shady by definition, but many companies have been using it in shady ways.

One example is by building private blog networks (PBNs) with no purpose except to link back to agency generated content. This Fall’s Penguin update — plus a secretive update that launched in February — appears to be specifically targeted at PBNs. Now, the black-hat link building community has been thrown into turmoil.

As with most of the services listed above, if you’ve been link building for a while, and you’ve been doing it in a balanced and organic manner, you’re probably in the clear. If you haven’t been link building at all, and don’t know where to begin, 2017 probably isn’t the best year to start.

Stick with What Works

To make it as a marketing agency, you don’t necessarily need to break new ground — but agencies should probably avoid the well-trodden paths. In the examples above, the marketplace of ideas is either so crowded that a new player can’t really get a toehold, or the edifice is beginning to crumble. Black-hat SEO tactics never have a great deal of longevity, and even venerable tactics such as cold-calling are seeing their last days.

With that in mind, the principles for agency success still haven’t changed. Iterate on successful strategies. Collaborate when necessary to aid in the success of your clients. Keep on like this, and when you find the idea that does put you over the top, Facebook-like success may not be out of reach.

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13 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2017

The landscape of web design is constantly evolving. 

Something that looked modern and fresh yesterday can appear dated seemingly overnight, and trends once dismissed as irrevocably passé can unexpectedly cycle back in vogue. 

To help you prepare for wherever the web design tide takes us in 2017, we’ve put together a list of 13 trends to keep a close eye on. Check them out below, and get inspired to tackle your web design projects this year with style.

13 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2017

1) Bold Typography

More and more companies are turning to big, bold typography to anchor their homepages. This style works best when the rest of the page is kept minimal and clean, like this example from French agency Big Youth

2) Cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs — high-quality videos or GIFs that run on a smooth, continuous loop — have become a popular way to add movement and visual interest to otherwise static pages. Full-screen loops, like this stunning example from Danish agency CP+B Copenhagen, are sure to hold visitors’ attention for longer than a quick glance. 

3) Experimental Compositions

To stand out in a sea of tidy masonry style layouts, some designers are opting instead for more eclectic structures. Design director Will Geddes displays samples of his work in this unexpected collage of overlapping images. 

4) Bright Gradients

Kaleidoscopic gradients are coming back in a big way. Zurich-based agency Y7K illustrates a perfect example of how to make this two-tone effect look fresh and modern, with their full-screen, gradient-washed homepage. 

5) Vivid Layers of Color

Staggered, stacked layers of color add depth and texture to a simple site layout, as seen in this stylish example from Portugese designer Melissa Meio-Fio

6) Straightforward, Simple Text

Some websites are cutting out images and prominent navigation sections altogether, relying on a few choice lines of straightforward text to inform visitors about their company.

Danish agency B14 uses their homepage real estate to simply describe their mission statement and provide links to samples of their work. It’s a modern, uncluttered approach to presenting information. 

7) Illustration

More companies are turning to illustrators and graphic artists to create bespoke illustrations for their websites. After years of flat design and minimalism, adding illustrated touches to your site is a great way to inject a little personality, as seen in this charming example from NewActon (designed by Australian digital agency ED). 

8) Ultra-minimalism

Taking classic minimalism to the extreme, some designers are defying conventions of what a website needs to look like, displaying just the absolute bare necessities. The site from designer Mathieu Boulet is centered around a few choice links to his social profiles and information. 

9) Duotone

These parred-down, two-tone color schemes look cool and contemporary, like this example from Australian Design Radio.

10) Mixing Horizontal and Vertical Text

Freeing text from its usual horizontal alignment and placing it vertically on a page adds some refreshing dimension. Take this example from director Matt Porterfield, which mixes horizontal and vertical text alignments on an otherwise very simple page. 

11) Geometric Shapes and Patterns

Whimsical patterns and shapes are popping up more frequently on websites, adding some flair in a landscape otherwise ruled by flat and material design. Canadian design studio MSDS uses daring, patterned letters on their homepage. 

12) Modular Design

Modular design is certainly sticking around in 2017. It’s a foolproof way to create a clean, accessible website that keeps visitors interested. This example from design studio Waaark offers a twist on modular design: When you hover over the dividing edges between modules with your cursor, you produce an unexpected ripple effect. 

13) Overlapping Text and Images

Text that slightly overlaps accompanying images has become a popular effect for blogs and portfolios. Freelance art director and front-end developer Thibault Pailloux makes his overlapping text stand out with a colorful underline beneath each title. 

What web design trends do you think will really take off in 2017?

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