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Christopher

Creating HubSpot Smart Content

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Web content is typically composed of written content like blogs, web pages, and email newsletters.  All of this content is somewhat generalized and strategically key-worded for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  While SEO is an important need to consider, it is also important to remember that actual humans are processing this written information for more than just a word match.  Therefore whenever possible the content should be appealing, easy to read, and accurate enough that they think it actually applies to them.  

Which brings up the question, does a one size fits all approach work in today’s business world?  Are we just adding to the noise, by broadcasting a message mostly for search engine robots to crawl hoping they serve us up to their users?  Perhaps there is a better way, to provide a tailored message, at least in subtle parts that makes them feel like they are being spoken to directly.  This blog post is focused on learning and testing smart content through the HubSpot marketing platform.

HubSpot has created a clever way to tailor content so that certain people see different things.  For example, a person new to a site who is broadcasting with an unknown IP address might see a large green graphic that says “Welcome to this website”. Contrast this with a person who has visited the site multiple times already.  The recognized IP address would be shown a different graphic that would say “Welcome Back to this website”.  For this example, the marketing message would not achieve much, but it illustrates the basics of the tool and logic of how the software works.  Creative and effective ways can be developed to manipulate this tool.  This could be the ticket to provide fresh content on pages that typically do not change much for a couple years.  What a difference it could make for visitors to consistently see new ideas and fresh offerings related to their shopping experience.  Much like going to the same buffet for a week straight.  The first day it was exciting, but by the end of the week, there was no excitement to go back.

HubSpot smart content is the way that marketers at can effectively and efficiently develop different messages for different customers. Setting up for HubSpot smart content is a little tricky, but the really hard part is coming up with a strategy for what you would say and to who.  To experiment with this tool I chose a contact page that was frequently viewed by people around the country.  The goal was to create a different graphic, advertising training events in different states.  This graphic would change, based on the viewer’s IP address.  Should someone from an IP address outside of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, or Colorado visit the pages with this smart content, they will see nothing.  But each person inside those 9 states, should see the respective graphic that matches their location. This method has a greater chance of success in comparison to marketing training events at random to every visitor.  A person in Utah would be unlikely to click on an event for another state.

After establishing contact lists so that the people of each state were divided up into groups, I was ready to construct the graphics.  Similar graphics were designed to show a message inviting them to find out more about training.  The left side of the graphic was altered to show different state names.  Then I positioned the smart marketing module into the page I wanted to test on.  Since then, two weeks have passed and we have the results of HubSpot smart content.  California, due to it’s size and population, is the forefront winner of the most views and clicks.  All states have shown up in the analytics and there is proof that people in Utah are seeing the Utah advertisement as well as other states seeing theirs.  This is an exciting tool that should give us more options for other types of marketing in the future.

Using Video Content to Educate and Market

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Video content over the last few years has grown exponentially both in quality and quantity.

This growth can be notably measured, not only in terms of new video creation but also market adoption across many industries.  Video content growth is truly significant in that video is a preferred method for advertisement and customer engagement.  The primary driver to this rise in the value of video content is equipment like smart mobile phones and high data load supporting networks.

The mobile technology that has evolved in recent years now allows for a person to stream video almost anywhere they go.  Likewise, websites like YouTube and Vimeo have created a robust platform that is free for people to upload their personal reviews of products and how to videos.  This has triggered a large shift of people moving from reading about products to watching videos of other people’s experiences and opinions.

There are many challenges to creating effective marketing video content. The first of which would be the financial cost and time investment.  Video editing software can be extremely expensive to purchase or license.  As well, the equipment like cameras and microphones can add up quickly.  These devices are also complicated to learn and run properly.  Any company or organization that plans to make a serious investment in their video production capabilities, no matter how simple, will have to address these concerns in some way.

Businesses have to make a decision between hiring a dedicated videographer vs. outsourcing to a professional third party production company.  While some choosing to stay in-house might save money, the final product could be much lower quality and take longer to create.  Outsourcing the video allows a business to focus on running their business.  Much like payroll or HR, it is sometimes handled best by someone else and not the business owner themselves.

The future marketing possibilities of video are quite staggering to think of when you consider the advancements in augmented reality video, virtual headsets, and click and explore 360 image mapping.  It’s now appearing on real estate websites that you can click and drag your way around the inside of a house as though you were already there.  You can walk into a bathroom and study the layout and perspective all the way around. This type of video and 360 image marketing would be of fantastic use for marketing products, locations, and the brands.

How to Hire Freelance Writers

By | HubSpot | No Comments

Recently a client needed help to source a freelance writer to assist with marketing materials.  This post will share some of the experience.

This is a common challenge that exists today for marketing teams trying to find good written content to use in marketing materials like blogging.  Blogging is a type of news feed in which articles can be published online and released in synchronization with other promotions.  One of the goals for web and blog content is to attract a steady readership that will share the content with others on social media channels.  This also helps to raise search rank and contributes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search rank is controlled by companies like Google and Bing, who will rank your web content based on the overall level of interest by the public.  Creating fresh web and blog content is a never ending task which can require daily maintenance and a coordinated effort across many departments.  Writing this content can become time consuming and difficult to juggle along with other daily jobs tasks.  

For most In-House marketing teams, web and blog content is written by employees that have other dedicated tasks they must attend to.  Having an additional task for writing content can sometimes create a burden that becomes evident when deadlines creep in and project schedules collide.  The shortage of time and resources for written content is what has exposed the widespread need for an external freelance writer.  Additionally a freelance writer could provide an outside perspective to the content and help with SEO strategy.

Beginning with a job posting on Craigslist (a website bulletin board service), many responses flooded in applying to help with the web and blog content.  The responses totaled nearly 100 people which took considerable time to go through. Among them were a few that my client and I agreed were the stronger candidates and we chose to test out.

We hired two writers for similar tasks and hoped to discover a noticeable difference between the two.  Writer #1 seemed to have all the desired skills and interest in taking the projects head on but he repeatedly turned in grammatical errors, even when they were pointed out to him.  Writer #2 turned out to be our favorite due to his punctuation, spelling, and straight-forward approach to the material.  In addition, Writer #2 had experience with SEO and even helped to restructure some of the content to make it easier to understand.

Since moving forward with Writer #2, we have used him on two different blog articles, some web content, and a few brochures.  He has not disappointed and for the price it’s turned out to be a great experience. Over time, it’s anticipated that he and perhaps other freelancers could become a valuable part of the clients in-house team.  

The ability to outsource work successfully should expand the capabilities when it comes time to plan and complete projects.  My client and I have since discussed the potential benefits of having other videographers and designers participate in quoting on jobs or providing an outside perspective.  Craigslist has proven itself to be a valuable resource for talent, provided you can sift through the vast responses.

Other websites and temp services may be consulted in the future if we need to expand our options.

Cultivate Better HubSpot Email Click Rates

By | HubSpot Email Marketing | No Comments

HubSpot has many powerful features and one very useful and frequently used tool is email marketing. It’s quite different than the kind of email marketing that people have come to dislike and avoid.  This unique strategy for email marketing is to only send to a carefully cultivated distribution list of interested people that request to hear from you.  This blog post consists of understanding how to cultivate distribution lists and subsequently improve open and click rates.

Just for an example, we’ll use a hypothetical company called Rogers Electric.  Rogers Electric has a contact database composed of over 100,000 contacts, most of whom have submitted their information via web form.  These submissions indicate that the contact is officially requesting some type of specific salesperson response or inclusion to the newsletter.  When a contact has identified themselves as one that would like to receive more information, they are entered into the Rogers Electric newsletter distribution list.  One of the goals is to email only the truly interested parties, and there is a way of detecting which customers are actively engaged in the newsletters and website.  This may be counterintuitive to the concept of marketing, but there is a method to this.

This type of marketing, in you which you attract your leads, rather than blast out to everyone possible, is known as “Inbound Marketing”.  Inbound Marketing is a newer concept compared to “mass marketing” and has become an entire revolution in the way companies reach interested parties and potential customers.  The basic idea is to only contact and market to leads that have asked you to.  That way you can avoid creating counter-productive marketing that is deemed as web spam or harassment.  Additionally you are using your own sales resources more efficiently by focusing on those that want to hear from you.

Another thing to consider when creating a newsletter strategy is knowing when the most ideal time is to send it.  Results shared from HubSpot based on previous research and testing have revealed that Thursday afternoons happen to be an ideal time to catch potential leads.  This is when they are most receptive to opening emails from outside parties that do not have a direct correlation to their immediate work.  Frequency is another way to demonstrate courteousness and consideration for your potential customer base, therefore Rogers Electric only sends these emails twice a month.  Time and frequency are vital to the success and rules of Inbound Marketing, otherwise you risk unsubscribes, reports of Web Spam, or alienating your audience.

Aside from who to send to and when, the actual newsletters must of course be relevant, interesting, and helpful to readers.  By presenting fresh content and useful links to quarterly initiatives, Rogers Electric can keep their audience engaged.  By rotating out the content,Rogers Electric has seen how the email newsletters themselves become a tool for study.  The analytics give clues as to what is the most interesting of the promotions and helps to steer future content based on something we saw in the data.

HubSpot has an excellent dashboard for monitoring the success of an email newsletter with interactive graphics, bar charts, and pie charts.  The full amount of emails sent and what portion were opened is made known in real time.  After about 24 hours of an email being sent, the full results can be seen in the dashboard organized by sent, opened, clicked, and unsubscribed.  According to HubSpot resources, less than 2% unsubscribes is a good result but at Rogers Electric, we frequently get less than .8% unsubscribes.  Patterns have been discovered in the analytics whereby proving how colorful graphics or a change in template layout have resulted in an uptick of interest.

When considering the design of the newsletter, much effort has been made to improve the Rogers Electric templates and add aesthetic value to the graphics of the emails.  The technical workings of the HubSpot marketing platform were studied to discover how a new template could be applied best.  The HTML and CSS of the email was altered to make possible a new layout that would host full width masthead images and an attractive three column layout underneath.  The text with the marketing message was reduced in word count to a quick and easy to read section with a link or “call to action”.  Finally, the bottom of the email was used to suggest a couple of other popular topics with Rogers Electric Customers.  

By working hard to understand both the HubSpot email marketing tools and strategies of Rogers Electric, new learning has been achieved about how to improve open and click rates.  Following the rules of Inbound Marketing, we can cultivate our distribution lists to only contain interested parties that want to hear from us.  Producing relevant and fresh content wrapped in an appealing design will help to keep readers looking or entice them to take a second look.  This will result in a distribution list that grows in quantity and becomes a respected resource for information that adds value to the Rogers Electric brand and reputation in the industry.