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Part II Video: Danny Sullivan on what he sees differently now working inside Google

Knowledge, understanding and objectives have all changed for Danny Sullivan now that he is at Google.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

SEO myths busted by an ex-Googler

Google doesn’t hate your website, AdWords don’t impact SEO and ‘freshness’ and keywords are not as important as you think.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

New SERP feature truncates title tag in favor of location

Google automatically adding locations to title tags can work well in local businesses’ favor.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Google My Business discontinues toll free phone support

This will impact how quickly your Google My Business issues can be addressed.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 4 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Google expands Local campaigns inventory, BOPIS offers for Shopping campaigns

New Local inventory includes Promoted Pins in Maps and catalog-style ads in Display.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 4 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

The Beginner's Guide to Conversational Marketing

How did your grandparents, parents, and younger siblings grow up gossiping about the latest party? I bet they’d all have different answers.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a trip back in time.

First, we sent letters. If you think handwriting a card took a long time, think about the time it took to receive a response by plane, train … or pony.

The 1800s brought many new technologies, including the telegraph. It may sound cool, but think about how long it took to translate details into morse code. I’ll give you a hint: .. – / – — — -.- / .- / .-.. — -. –. / – .. — ..-.-.

Years later, the fax machine allowed us to send messages and images over telephone lines. Unfortunately, the earliest machines cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you still had to create a hard copy of your message.

Then came “leave a message after the beep” … voicemail. We’ve all put off listening to that 3-minute long message. It’s easy to ignore or it can be the start of an endless game of phone “tag”.

After voicemail came “you’ve got mail.” While revolutionary, inboxes quickly became overwhelmed. Your thoughtful email lay forgotten under a pile of spam and promotional messages.

Then the people who brought us email rolled out AIM or instant messenger. As the name implies, this was the first instant messaging service. Except your friends weren’t always online. Sometimes their away message was set to Outkast lyrics. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, anyone?

Around the same time, SMS texts hit mobile phones everywhere. You can now text your friend all of the essential party details and 🎉🎉🎉emojis.

Finally, we arrived at live chat. Live chat allows for instantaneous responses. You write a quick message and see those three little dots signaling a reply. The days of waiting for weeks to hear from someone are over – conversations are always happening.

With HubSpot’s free live chat software, you can connect with your website visitors in real-time to convert new leads, close more deals, and provide better support to your customers.

With each new iteration of technology, our accepted response time has changed — friends make plans faster, families stay closer, and businesses provide answers instantly. In the age of live chat, customers expect conversations to happen how, when, and where they want.

Sounds intimidating, right? Don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as you think. While the technology we use to communicate has changed, the core elements of communication have stayed the same. People always have and always will expect conversations to be helpful, personal, and empathetic. The only difference now is we have the technology to have those conversations at scale. That’s the power of conversational marketing.

Let’s talk about conversational marketing and its benefits, how it will help your business grow, and what you need to build a successful conversational marketing strategy.

Check out our Introduction to Conversational Marketing course from HubSpot Academy.

For example, many startups have created user groups on Slack. These groups allow customers and prospects to ask questions and get advice on a channel they’re already using to communicate throughout the workday … but wait, weren’t we talking about conversational marketing? How did we get started talking about customer support?

See, here’s the thing with live chat, it’s an incredibly powerful communication channel that has a strange way of breaking down the walls between support, sales, and marketing.

Sure, conversational marketing is the topic of the day, but we believe it is just one small piece of the puzzle. Conversations should take place across your entire business. In the future, businesses will need to develop a comprehensive conversational growth strategy to deliver better customer experience throughout the entire customer journey.

Conversational sales will play a huge role in helping reps connect with prospects in a more helpful, organic way. And customer success teams have already seen significant benefits using chat as one of their many support tools. While you’re developing your conversational marketing strategy, consider how it can impact every part of your business.

The Key Elements of Conversational Marketing

OK, you may be thinking, “conversational marketing sounds a lot like my current marketing strategy. I’m on multiple channels. I’m having conversations with my audience.”

If you’re a customer-focused marketer, chances are you’re almost there. Here are the four key components of conversational marketing and how to best refine your strategy.

1. Conversations happen in customer-time.

Conversational marketing is an asynchronous relationship. Meaning conversations should occur whenever the customer prefers — whether that’s in real-time, after finishing their meeting, or later that night when they have a spare moment. While it’s important for businesses to be able to chat in real-time, it’s just as important for them to be able to finish a conversation at whatever pace the customer wants. Sometimes that means starting a conversation at 7 a.m. over their first cup of coffee and finishing at 9 p.m. after they’ve put their kids to bed.

HubSpot Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah says, “Customers should be able to pick up things right where they left off whenever it is convenient for them to continue. The key is to remember that conversational marketing should be designed around the needs of the customer — not the needs of the business.”

2. Conversations are scalable.

Because conversations happen on customer-time, all conversations need to be scalable. A customer doesn’t care if you’re talking with 50, 500, or 5,000 other people — they only care about the issue they need to be solved. Businesses, especially SMBs, shouldn’t get left behind due to a lack of resources or manpower. This is where chatbots come in. Bots make 24/7 support possible by providing answers to common questions based on data that already exists. Businesses shouldn’t sacrifice human interaction for scale. Rather, bots offer quick access to information or a human.

3. Conversations have context.

Conversations can’t exist in a vacuum; they need context and should get smarter as you collect more information. This is important for two reasons. First, it’s what customers expect. Think about it: If you called a company yesterday to report a defect in something you ordered, and then you chat them the next day about needing return instructions, you’d expect the person you’re talking with to have access to previous interactions and know which product you’re sending back.

Second, context is what makes messaging convenient. Without it, bots or a support rep would need to ask people the same qualifying questions every time they interacted with them — wasting their time and testing their patience. If you’ve ever called customer support, you know how frustrating it is to repeat your account number time after time as you’re passed around to different departments.

People want to get the answer to their question as quickly as possible and with the smallest amount of effort. This is why it’s so important to make a CRM part of your conversational marketing strategy. Context means gathering, storing, and making accessible customer data — from recent orders to visits to pricing pages to their job title. The more you know about the customer and the more you can demonstrate that in the conversation, the more helpful you’ll be.

4. Conversations meet customers where they are.

Inbound Marketing is about providing value to your audience and meeting them where they are. Conversational marketing is just a part of that now — thanks to the mass adoption of messaging and new tools and technology.

And that means conversations should happen on the channel that best suits your customer — that might be over the phone or on Facebook Messenger, with a human or a bot. People don’t want to be forced to call a 1-800 number if they could easily send a quick chat message and grab a link to a knowledge base article. HubSpot’s bot expert Brian Bagdasarian states:

“Businesses should strive to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right person, with the right information, on the right channel, every single time.”

Conversational Marketing Is More Than Just Live Chat

Some people equate conversational marketing with live chat — something that’s been around for a while. But it’s much more than that. Conversational marketing isn’t about a single tool. While Facebook Messenger, Slack, SMS, email, and others allow conversations to happen, this is about the changing communication preferences of consumers that in turn, should change how you view one-to-one conversations.

For example, social media giant Facebook is drastically changing the way its users engage with businesses. There are over 65 million business pages on Facebook, and over 2 billion messages are exchanged with these businesses each month on Facebook Messenger. That’s a lot of conversations happening. Consumers are using Facebook Messenger and other popular messaging platforms to get content delivered, shop and buy, and access support.

With access to new technology, businesses can use these emerging platforms to easily meet consumers where they are already spending their time. Still not convinced? 85% of consumers spend their time in five popular apps, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. And according to Facebook’s February earnings, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger had 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion monthly active users, respectively.

But remember, businesses should not only be communicating on a variety of channels, but they should also be prepared to continue those conversations across all channels without missing a beat.

The Benefits of Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing isn’t new — we have conversations every day, and as you saw from the timeline above, it’s been that way for a while. So why wouldn’t we use tools that optimize conversations for business? Let’s talk about a few of the key benefits.

1. Conversational marketing is a more delightful way for customers to get answers.

People are increasingly turning to mobile to shop and make purchases. As a result, more people are interacting with content that is more mobile friendly. Consumers that use their phone as their primary internet device have grown to prefer video content, social content, and messaging-based interactions.

Think about how many times you pick up your phone during the day. According to TechCrunch, consumers spend 5 hours per day on their phones. It makes sense. I’m guessing it’s your first line of defense when looking up an answer to a quick question. Conversational marketing channels like messaging apps and email are innately mobile friendly. It’s a lot easier to chat with a rep or even a bot to get an answer than spend time scrolling and clicking through a company’s website. Messaging apps allow customers to provide information specific to their problem so businesses can give quick, personalized support.

HubSpot recently experimented with delivering content offers via Facebook Messenger and saw some incredible results – the test saw a 2.5X increase in open rates and 6X the number of clicks when compared to email. This improved performance is due in part to the channel’s push notifications, but it also aligns with how people want to shop, buy, and engage with companies today.

And conversational marketing doesn’t just present an opportunity in the U.S. In fact, in many regions, messaging apps like WeChat and WhatsApp are the primary channel for both personal and professional communication.

hubspot research messaging usage latin america

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2. Conversational marketing is a great way to gain new, valuable insights about your customers.

Think about it, when else do your customers tell you in their own words what they want to do, learn, or change? You don’t get that candor with a website or an advertisement.

HubSpot’s Conversational Marketing Manager Connor Cirillo states,

“Your conversational marketing audience is much more insightful than your other channels. They’ll tell you in their own words how they want to interact with your business. There’s no inferring or guessing, like with web traffic.”

And with conversational marketing, you can gather that data at scale. This especially holds true for messaging channels. Chat interfaces can record data that can then be used to optimize for better customer interactions, product improvements, more helpful content, and more.

For example, CNN uses a bot to provide their audience with tailored content based on keywords. Users simply send the bot a message with a topic they’re interested in, and it will send back related news stories. Not only is it a quick, easy way for readers to get the news they care about most, CNN is collecting valuable consumer data with every chat.

Once businesses collect consumer data, they can use it to define trends and make more informed decisions. For example, imagine that your company redesigned its website or provided a discount on merchandise. If a prospect or customer has a difficult time navigating the new website or applying the coupon, they can live chat with a representative to receive instructions on how to best navigate the issue.

Not only does live chat help solve the immediate customer’s concerns and keep them on the site, the information from that chat can help you determine if you need to fix a part of your website’s UX or send out more detailed instructions on how to apply the discount. Being able to determine common customer pain points as they occur can save a business thousands of dollars.

And not only is conversational marketing data helpful for recognizing tech issues and common customer pain points, it also can identify opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell. If a customer is chatting with a rep about a product they are considering buying, the rep could take that opportunity to point out other items customers frequently bought based on previous interactions.

3. Conversational marketing is a great way to build relationships.

With messaging apps and social media, we’ve found a way to talk with more friends, more frequently. Conversational marketing can drive lead generation by reaching new audiences on different channels or by giving people a more convenient way to get in touch with support.

According to Harvard Business Review, messaging apps “provide a continuous thread between customers and brands”. This thread allows for continuous communication which makes conversations more natural and “opportunities to cross-sell, encourage sharing, solicit input, and flow seamlessly between commerce and support” more frequent.

According to TopBots’ Adelyn Zhou,

“Questions that are awkward or annoying coming from a brand are socially acceptable and even welcome in chatbot interactions.”

Bots allow companies to collect a lot of information in a natural way. Instead of coming face-to-face with a long form, customers can share a little information over the course of multiple conversations. HubSpot was able to attract 20% more qualified leads by merely adding live chat as a communication channel. What would a 20% increase in qualified leads look like for your business?

And not only is conversational marketing more convenient for customers, it’s also a great way to show off your brand’s personality. Through copywriting, images, emojis, and videos, you can give your messaging conversations a personality — one that reinforces your brand. Customers and prospects are likely to keep engaging with your brand if you make it enjoyable and easy to do so!

1. Domino’s Pizza

Domino’s recent Domino’s AnyWare initiative allows customers to order pizza from, well, literally anywhere. This includes conversational channels like Slack, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and text message — by simply texting the pizza emoji.

dominos conversational marketing example

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Customers must first enable text ordering and set up an “Easy Order” on their Domino’s profile, which is what they’ll order when texting 🍕. Beyond that, however, ordering a pizza doesn’t get much simpler.

2. HubSpot

HubSpot allowed people to register for its Four Days of Facebook Campaign through multiple channels, including Facebook Messenger. Users loved the conversational UI and were quick to encourage their friends and coworkers to sign up as well.

facebook messenger gif example conversational marketing

And success wasn’t just about getting people to register for the live event. Facebook Messenger was the highest converting source of new product users to HubSpot Marketing Free via the campaign.

3. London & Company

London & Company walks prospective mortgage customers through their Mortgage Finder form. But instead of a lengthy form with multiple fields, London & Company displays a chatbot/ messenger format with one question at a time.

london and company conversational marketing example

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This conversational format is user-friendly and easy to navigate, which likely helps London & Company collect information from and convert potential new leads.

4. HelloFresh

HelloFresh, a subscription meal service, launched their Freddy Freshbot chatbot in 2017. Customers can chat with Freddy through Facebook Messenger.

hellofresh conversational marketing example

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Freddy provides customer service, recipe ideas, answers to frequently asked questions, and meal reminders. With Freddy Freshbot, HelloFresh does a great job providing support well beyond the order and delivery process, ensuring its customers feel comfortable cooking its meals and eventually renewing their subscriptions.

5. Sephora

Sephora used Kik messenger to learn more about their target market by asking them if they wanted to participate in a quick, social-like quiz about their beauty habits. Once users accepted, they answered questions about their age, makeup preferences, and favorite products. From there, the app was able to deliver relevant content such as how-to videos and product reviews based on the individual’s answers.

A chatbot makes it easier for customers to find and purchase products they like and frees up human employees for other tasks.

sephora conversational marketing messenger example

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Conversational Marketing and Inbound Marketing

At this point, you’ve probably noticed the similarities between the core ideas behind conversational marketing and inbound marketing. That’s because conversational marketing is a piece of inbound marketing, just like email marketing or blogging. Inbound Marketing is all about creating value where your target customer is spending their time — that could mean writing a blog, interacting on social media, or sharing a video on YouTube. Now that technology has made conversational marketing a possibility, it’s a key part of inbound marketing.

HubSpot Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah states,

“Conversation marketing is not new. Not only have we long been having conversations with customers — even the term itself has been around for at least a decade. The reason for the renewed interest in conversational marketing is that because of advances in technology and shifts in consumer behavior, conversational marketing can now happen at scale. We can have direct, one-to-one conversations with individual customers on their timeline — not ours.”

Although conversations are nothing new, our ability to have 1:1 conversations at this scale and across multiple channels is. With inbound marketing, you can first attract potential customers to your brand. You can then use conversational marketing to allow people to initiate conversations when they want, where they want, and how they want – giving your audience the control.

How do conversations fit into the inbound methodology? Well, we see conversations taking place throughout the entire customer lifecycle, though there’s not a strong case to be made for it in the attract stage as the discovery of brands on messaging platforms is still immature.

Facebook Messenger’s Discover tab, which launched mid-2017, is one attempt at solving this. But conversations can be used in place of forms to attract and capture leads, by sales teams to convert those leads into customers, and by customer success teams to delight customers with quick and convenient support. For example, using live chat during the sales process could help convert more leads because it allows prospects to interact in a way they already prefer to buy.

conversational marketing inbound marketing methodology

How Conversational Marketing Will Grow Your Business

Okay, we know conversational marketing is all about improving 1:1 relationships, but how can businesses actually start to build out a strategy for success? Cirillo recommends starting with one goal and then working backward.

“Know what you want to get out of the conversation and what data you need to make that happen. Every conversation should add value to your business.”

Analyze your answers and work to create the best possible experience for your customers. While there are many things you can do to help optimize your conversations, here are a few essentials:

Your CRM and Conversational Marketing

When you have a conversation with a friend, you don’t expect to have to remind them of things like your name or where you live — the same holds true when customers have conversations with a business. That’s why using a CRM is so important. A CRM is like a digital memory that allows you to have conversations with customers like you know them.

A successful conversational marketing strategy is dependent on fast and reliable access to a shared knowledge base that includes data such as communication history and necessary customer information. Companies who want to do conversational marketing will need a way to store and organize that data in order to have more seamless interactions with customers. With the help of a CRM, you can organically promote events and products, distribute content, and provide support all through chat.

So, what data should marketers collect? You don’t need to know everything about them, but you should know the basics and details of past conversations. Cirillo encourages marketers to think first about why they’re using chat:

“Success with conversational marketing will look different depending on the use case. There’s not an overarching metric for this world. Track the ‘time to solution’ or conversion rate if you’re solving for utility. If your experience is less about a particular action, then retention might make more sense.”

Start with what you want your customers to be able to accomplish via chat and then build out processes for acquiring the necessary information.

In addition, you can’t implement a conversational marketing strategy without a process for tracking performance, moments of confusion or drop-off, and new questions. You should always be gathering data and optimizing the experience.

Adding Automation with Chatbots

Once your CRM is set up, it’s time to think to think about how you can scale your conversations. This is where chatbots can help.

Business isn’t just happening in one city, in one state, or in one timezone — it’s happening all around the world, every minute of every day. As I mentioned earlier, adding automation with chatbots is crucial in keeping up with a volume of conversations and to have a fighting chance at 24/7 support. Bots allow SMBs to compete with enterprise-sized businesses.

Customers expect to be able to connect with businesses whenever they need to. According to research from Aspect Software, 65% of consumers feel good about themselves and the company when they can handle an issue without talking to a live person, and 61% think that chatbots allow for faster answers.

Here are few ways chatbots can help:

  • Answer FAQs or customer-specific questions where data is already available
  • Qualify Leads
  • Promote events, products, and content
  • Schedule meetings
  • Get feedback from customers and prospects

Keep in mind that while chatbots can do many things, they should never be used as a barrier between customers and a human. 86% of consumers want the option to transfer to a representative if their request is too complicated for a bot to handle. Bots can’t replace human talent, but they can help augment teams during off-hours or when conversation volume is too much for a small group to handle.

Learn how to build the fundamentals of your Conversational Marketing strategy.

An Inbound Approach to Conversations

Developing a conversational marketing strategy can take time – it’s not easy to think about process when you’re trying to keep up with the day-to-day demands of running a business. That’s why HubSpot’s Brian Bagdasarian created some tips for building a conversational marketing strategy. Conversational marketing isn’t something you can set and forget, you have to continuously optimize your strategy to see the best results, but there are five things you should keep in mind: Personalize, contextualize, standardize, empathize, and optimize

Personalize

When speaking with a customer or prospect, conversations should be personalized with relevant shared knowledge. Shared knowledge is the foundation of good conversations. Think about it: If you’ve already given a business you’re phone number, do you really want to waste time reciting it every time you have a simple question? Personalized details make the conversation feel more natural and help you to get to the root of the issue as quickly as possible.

Contextualize

Conversations that have context not only improve the end-user experience, they also help minimize misunderstandings and get straight to the heart of the issue. Because you don’t have to waste time collecting information you already have access to, you’re able to provide immediate value. Context is necessary to help answer the right question, at the right time, in the best way possible.

Conversations that aim to answer the most important question first will provide the best user experience. Even though it’s a conversation, this isn’t like a conversation with friends. When customers interact with your business, chances are they don’t want to spend time talking about cat videos or their weekend plans. They want to solve their most immediate need in the fastest and easiest way possible. Spend time analyzing your interactions to determine what data will help improve your customer relationships.

Standardize

However, it’s important not to get too caught up in personalizing your messages. While personalization and contextualization are important, standardizing elements of conversations helps bring a level of professionalism and consistency to your business. Conversations should be repeatable and predictable.

Figure out your customer’s most frequently asked questions and draft approved answers for bots and marketers to use. Repeating conversations will help automate, optimize, and improve future interactions. Predictable conversations help to users have a natural dialog with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Standardization is crucial to delivering clear, consistent answers, across conversations and users.

Empathize

When involved in a conversation, we often have to deliver the right answer before correcting the problem. For example: Let’s say you receive an email with a coupon code from one of your favorite stores. You spend a half hour scrolling through their products trying to decide what to buy, but when you finally enter the code to make your purchase, it doesn’t work.

You’re understandably annoyed that you wasted all that time when you weren’t even planning on buying something without that code. The business should emphasize with your issue and assure you that they understand the problem before the can move forward with providing a solution. Emphasizing helps customers feel valued and heard.

Optimize

Finally, it’s crucial to optimize. Learn from your past conversations so you can improve them in the future. Optimize for the strengths of the channel and for the answer – aim to provide answers that people would receive in a real, one-to-one conversation.

For example, live chat or phone might be better for providing support, while Facebook Messenger could be a better choice for content delivery. Listen to your customers and observe their behavior as you build out your strategy and make changes where needed. Conversational marketing is an iterative process — what you thought might work may not always provide the best experience. Take time to ask your customers for feedback. Their advice will help you delight your next customer. Remember, every conversation should be impactful and help add value to your business.

bot conversational marketing example

Moving Forward: Why Conversations Are the Future

Phew, you made it to the end. Good convo guys.

We’ve come a long way from letters and telegrams. For the first time, people are having meaningful conversations with businesses on a massive scale thanks to automation with bots, a CRM, and new channels. Conversational marketing is changing the way companies talk with their customers by making interactions seamless and faster than ever before. Your customers are having conversations. Why not join in?

The most important things to focus on are the channel, the conversation, and how the strategy fits in with your overall inbound marketing strategy. Channels should be simple for businesses and consumers to use, conversations should follow a clear process and serve a purpose, and your inbound marketing strategy should inform your conversational marketing strategy.

Remember, humans have been having conversations since the beginning of time. Technology is only making it easier and more productive for businesses and their customers to connect. While the days of communicating by the Pony Express may be over, thoughtful, friendly conversations (and gossip) will continue to stand the test of time and technology.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Reblogged 4 days ago from blog.hubspot.com

The Best Time to Send an Email (Research-Backed)

Here’s a little exercise for you: Check the timestamps on the emails you’ve gotten in the past day. What have you found? For me, I noticed that most of my emails, especially my subscription emails, were sent between 9-10 AM, or 5-6 PM.

This isn’t a coincidence, either.

While the answer to “What’s the perfect time to send an email to my customers?” isn’t an exact science, there are some key findings we’ve discovered through heavy research, and those times listed above are right in line with what we found. Keep reading to find out the best time to send an email, according to our findings.

Why Email Matters For Your Business

Automated email marketing provides a chance for you to improve sales conversions — maybe even by 14%. It’s a way to send customers unique offers — such as product sales or newsletters updates — with information your reader can’t get anywhere else.

Emails should be personalized with what your customers want to see, allowing you an instant way to communicate with them. Your emails should contain information your customers are interested in learning more about, such as discount offers, business updates, or product/service launches.

HubSpot‘s marketing email tool allows users to create and send automated emails for free. It also gives you the option to schedule your emails according to the preferences you’ve set. Then, your emails will then be sent to the list(s) of contacts you select.

When you reach this option in your automated email tool, you probably spend some time wondering when exactly your audience would like to receive your email, especially if it includes a limited-time offer. You want to make sure the highest number of customers possible are reading your emails. We’ll go over what we found next.

When is the Best Time to Send an Email?

When it comes to what time and day you should send an email and days, we found some researched-backed best practices.

These numbers are from GetResponse, an email marketing software that combed its data to compile a report of email marketing benchmarks. They analyzed 4 billion emails from 1,000 active senders.

graph of the best times to send an email

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The highest line of the graph represents the open rate. The purple line (i.e., the one below it) represents the click-to-open rate. Below that, the dark blue line, represents the click-through rate. The almost transparent data counts the number of messages sent in percent value.

Keeping your audience in mind is a good tip for figuring out the time to send your emails. If your buyer persona is a professional with a nine-to-five job, sending emails during their ideal downtimes are the best. For instance, HubSpot sends emails between 8-9:30 AM ET to match our audience’s daily routines.

If you’re sending emails that include a sale or promotion, try sending them during the times your audience tends to take their lunch breaks.

Just keeping up on daily routines isn’t the only metric that factors into marketing emails. Others, such as click-through rate (CTR), click-to-open rate (CTOR), and open rate (OR) are also helpful to look at when creating emails.

Click-through rate

Click-through rate refers to the number of people who open a link or image in an email. This number will always be smaller than the open rate of emails opened due to the fact that it’s calculated using the total number of emails sent. CTR reflects conversions through email. So if you send 500 emails and 250 are opened, but only 75 links are clicked, your click-through rate is 75.

Click-to-open rate

When comparing the number of people that opened your email and the number that clicked on any links, that data is called click-to-open rate. This metric helps you identify which information in your emails is relevant to consumers. Finding CTOR is done by diving CTR by the open rate and multiplying it by 100%. For example, if your email receives 200 clicks and 120 opens, your click-to-open-rate is 60%.

Open rate

The open rate, then, is the percentage found from the number of subscribers who opened your email campaign. Emails that have great open rates have short, effective subject lines. Plus, they’re optimized for previews and preheader text.

This gets into the best day to send through an email. CampaignMonitor collected data from millions of emails used on their service. They put together the best day as it pertains to data collection.

visual of best days to send emails

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From this data, it looks like the best days for seeing a good blanket of success fall during the workweek. People are mostly opening and reading through emails in the middle of the week. It’s also good to keep in mind the lowest unsubscribe rate: during the beginning of the week.

CampaignMonitor also reported that Marketing and Advertising is one of the top industries that see success with email marketing, so making sure those emails are memorable is key to delighting customers.

Email marketing can be a tricky subject. There are so many industries taking advantage of it in their own way and making an impact. How do you measure up?

Your subscribers are already interested in your content. They appreciate what you are offering as a company, and as long as you’re sending them emails that relate to that, you have a good chance of obtaining great metrics.

Reblogged 4 days ago from blog.hubspot.com

Best Instagram caption ideas for engagement

With its massive user base and image-rich layout, Instagram gives you the perfect platform to visually engage your audience. In fact, it sees the most engagement among all social media platforms.

A study by Rival IQ found that the median engagement across all industries on Instagram is 1.60%. Facebook and Twitter see a median engagement of 0.09% and 0.048% respectively. That’s a colossal difference proving just how engaging Instagram is.

But with a platform that’s so focused on visuals, it’s easy for marketers to overlook another key element to engage their audience–their Instagram captions. They’ll often come up with something on the spot without giving it a second thought.

This is a huge missed opportunity to give some context to your post and open up a dialogue between you and your followers. Plus, planning your captions ahead of time will make it easier to schedule your posts and save you time.

So if you want to optimize your Instagram marketing strategy, it’s time you put in more effort to come up with captivating Instagram caption ideas that inspire action.

How to write Instagram captions that engage

First, start by learning how to write Instagram captions that will resonate with your audience. Check out these best practices that will help you create engaging Instagram caption ideas.

1: Give more context to the post

You can’t go wrong with Instagram captions that give your photo or video some context.

Not all of your posts are self-explanatory. For instance, let’s say you posted a picture of a breathtaking sunset view. Your followers won’t necessarily know where the place is or what’s going through your mind when you took the photo.

By giving some context through your caption, you can easily draw your followers in and get them to relate with you or understand you better.

For example, Brit + Co. posted an illustration of a woman sleeping with her headphones on. While the image is appealing, it doesn’t really say much about what the brand is trying to convey. To give some context to the post, it added a caption asking people if they want sleep hacks for a stress-free holiday season.

2: Use a consistent tone

If you already developed a brand voice, you probably want to use it in your website content, marketing copy and brand communications. Don’t forget to use it in your Instagram captions as well to maintain a consistent brand voice across every channel.

3: Keep it short and easy to process

Lengthy captions may be difficult to read and process. Users typically want to quickly scroll through their feeds and they won’t necessarily have the time or patience to read through everything.

So if you want to come up with Instagram caption ideas to engage people, keep them short and to the point. Although this isn’t always possible for every single post, use lengthy captions only when it’s absolutely necessary. Even if you do, make sure you add line breaks to improve readability.

Check out this short and sweet caption from Chewy.

4: Be helpful

Consider using your Instagram captions to provide useful information to your followers. This could be anything from how-to instructions to recipes, depending on your industry. If you’re providing value through your captions, there’s a good chance you’ll draw in your audience and keep them engaged longer than usual.

Califia Farms, for instance, regularly shares tips on how to spice up its products with new recipes through Instagram captions.

5: Use hashtags, acronyms and emojis (to a point)

Hashtags help your content get discovered, while emojis break up huge blocks of text and make them easier to read. Social media acronyms also make you more relatable by speaking your target audience’s language. Learn how to write Instagram captions that include relevant hashtags, acronyms and emojis that will resonate with your audience.

At the same time, don’t go overboard with hashtags and emojis as your caption could end up looking messy and difficult to read. See how HGTV adds a single relevant emoji along with just five hashtags in the following post.

That doesn’t mean this is the optimal amount of hashtags. We recommend testing different hashtag densities to see which one works best for you. Sprout Social’s Instagram management tools can help you with this.

6: Ask questions to drive engagement

A lot of your followers may “like” your post, but they won’t necessarily leave a comment. Drive up your engagement rate by asking a question that will compel people to comment on your post.

You can ask them to share their opinion, personal experiences or stories. Asking a question or giving a call to action at the end of your Instagram caption will give them a reason to comment.

For example, Baron Fig posted a picture of its 2020 Confidant Planner. In the caption, it asked followers what they’re excited for in the upcoming year–very relevant, very engaging.

7: When all else fails, recycle relevant quotes

No matter how hard you try, the harsh truth is that you’ll sometimes run out of Instagram caption ideas. When this happens, you can always turn to relevant and popular quotes that have already proven their success.

Since these quotes are already popular, it shows that people can either relate to them or find inspiration in them. Make the most of these quotes the next time you run out of ideas on how to write Instagram captions.

Instagram caption ideas for every occasion

While tips are good, the best way to learn is by example. Some of the best practices won’t always apply depending on the types of Instagram captions you want to write. So take a look at some of these Instagram caption ideas for different purposes.

1: For events

Provide details about the event such as date, time, purpose and venue. If it’s open to the public, share details about how people can join and end with a CTA inviting them to join.

  • Join us for [event] at [venue] on [date + time]. Link in bio to register.
  • We’ll be in [city] for [event] on [date]. Stop by and say hello.
  • *One Day Only* We’ll be opening pop-up stores across town this Saturday. Link in bio to get more details.

2: For contests

Start with the prize to instantly draw in your audience. Then provide details about entry rules and how to participate. These types of Instagram captions convey excitement while providing as much detail as possible.

  • This [prize] could be yours! Participate in our [contest]. To enter: [contest details]
  • Get a chance to win [prize]. All you need to do is participate in our [contest]. More details in bio.
  • Ever wanted to try some of our [product]? Well, here’s your chance. Enter our [contest] and you could win [prize].

3: For promoting a sale

These types of Instagram captions should get people to take immediate action. Create a sense of urgency and get people excited about the sale. Provide details about the sale amount, how people can get it and when it’s ending, so people know not to miss out on this great offer. Don’t forget to add relevant emojis to convey your excitement.

  • 10% off on EVERYTHING only for today! Link in bio to shop. Hurry before sale ends.
  • Save big on [sale category] this [holiday season/event]. Use code: [code] to get 20% off. Happy shopping!
  • We know how much you love the holidays, so we’ve decided to give you a little treat. Here’s 15% off on us. Use code: [code]. Valid till: [deadline].

4: For a product launch

For these types of Instagram captions, you need a bit of mystery along with some excitement. Your captions should be able to get people to anticipate your new product. Consider revealing some exciting details and features that they would be interested in.

  • Something exciting is coming your way. Watch this space. (Keep it short and mysterious when you can’t give out a lot of details about the launch yet.)
  • We’ve got something brewing… Hint: Think [new feature]. Get ready for an exciting announcement in the coming days.
  • You asked; we listened. We’re excited to announce the upcoming [product], which has [feature + benefit]! Coming to you this [month of launch].

5: For employee appreciation

Use your Instagram captions to give your employees the spotlight. Tell their story by explaining where they work, how they work, what they’re working on and what events they recently participated in. This is the perfect way to humanize your brand while showing your appreciation for your employees.

  • This weekend, the [company] team took part in a marathon to raise money for [cause]. Here are some photos of our fun and fulfilling day.
  • Here at [company], we value [positive characteristics]. [Employee name] has been with us for [duration] and perfectly exudes those qualities. Thank you, [employee name] for being part of the [company] team!
  • It takes a lot of skill, time and patience to produce even just a single piece of our [product]. We’d like to take this moment to show our appreciation for the people who make it all happen. Our production team works tirelessly to give you the quality you deserve and expect in our [product].

6: For celebrating a milestone

Even with these types of Instagram captions, excitement is what you should go for. You want people to celebrate the milestone with you, so find a way to involve them. Celebrating a milestone is a little sweeter when there’s a sale too.

  • We did it! [Details of the achievement]
  • [Company] turns [age]! Thank you for joining us on our journey.
  • We put our blood, sweat and tears into it and we finally made it happen! [Details of the milestone]

Start engaging with captivating Instagram captions

From a distance, Instagram captions may not seem very challenging. You may think you can easily come up with one on the spot or you can just use a single emoji. While this is true for your personal Instagram account, it won’t be wise to follow the same practice if you’re managing a business account.

Since you need to post consistently and follow a strict posting schedule, you should always plan ahead of time, which you can do with Sprout’s Instagram management tools. These tips will give you an idea of how to write Instagram captions that resonate with your target audience and engage them. Make the most of them to optimize your Instagram content strategy.

What types of Instagram captions have you found to be the most engaging for your audience? Let us know in the comments.

This post Best Instagram caption ideas for engagement originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Social Spotlight: #FreshXIngridNilsen

Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where we dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.

Overview

Influencer marketing is everywhere in today’s recommendation-driven environment, but getting it right can be tricky. Finding an influencer your audience will identify with, find aspirational and take at face value – all at the right, mutually-beneficial price – is a challenging process without a guarantee. Fresh Beauty is one brand that got it right when it partnered with beauty vlogger Ingrid Nilsen, and the authentic, relevant connection created between the brand and its target audience constitutes a social influencer success story.

Analysis

Founded as a single shop in 1991, Fresh has been making beauty products that highlight natural ingredients from around the world for nearly three decades. Transparency has always been a hallmark of the brand, especially when it comes to founders Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg, who often tell their story of being immigrant entrepreneurs and being inspired by the products and experiences of Europe and their native Russia. Being open about the brand’s origins and what drove them to go into business set the duo up for influencer marketing success some 28 years later, when they partnered with Ingrid Nilsen to create a new offering in a popular product line based on her lifestyle and aesthetics. It’s a purple-hued lip tint called Sugar in the City which Nilsen co-created with Roytberg in Fresh’s Paris lab, documenting the process for her followers on YouTube and Instagram.

  • Goals: Awareness, consideration and sales were the primary goals of the collaboration for Fresh. By partnering with Nilsen, the brand unlocked access to her sizeable social media following (3.7mm subscribers on YouTube and 1.3mm followers on Instagram), which drove awareness with an audience that is interested in beauty and open to recommendations from Nilsen. The latter piece of a carefully considered partnership – that Nilsen’s followers are likely looking to her to make recommendations – is what drives consideration; if Fresh is good enough for Ingrid Nilsen, it’s a viable brand for many of her followers. Finally, there’s the sales goal: By making the collaboration a limited-time offer, Fresh and Nilsen are able to drive urgency to purchase.
  • Offline connection: This is where this influencer campaign really shines as a partnership. It’s common knowledge that in 2019, successful influencer marketing doesn’t involve handing off brand-created content to someone with a lot of followers and paying them to post it on their channels. Most brands understand that and invite influencers to create their own social content, but Fresh took it one step further and solidified its trust in the partnership (and in Ingrid) by inviting her to creative-direct everything from the announcement video to the product itself. Fresh handed over nearly complete control to Nilsen, and that level of trust makes an influencer feel invested in a partnership as their own. The results? 4.5 million impressions for Fresh on Ingrid’s channels in just 4 months.
  • Key channels: Ingrid’s primary social channels, YouTube and Instagram, were the key creative outlets for the Sugar in the City launch content. Fresh itself posted the launch video to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (and augmented the Insta video with additional still image and carousel posts about the partnership, which garnered an average of 60% more engagement than its general product posts), but for the most part the brand got out of the way and let the story be told on Nilsen’s channels. This may not seem like a big deal but it represents the scary but infinitely more effective trend of handing creative control over to the influencer partner, which ensures the content is aligned with what his or her audience wants and expects.

Takeaways

Influencer marketing is only dead in its laziest form. The deeper a partnership brands are willing to forge with influencer-creators, the more relevant the resulting products, content and campaigns will be. From letting your audience’s real behaviors and affinities drive your vetting process to giving up creative control, the bravest brands are seeing more compelling results the greater risks they’re willing to take.

TL;DR:

  1. Know your current audience backwards and forwards. When a brand takes the time to understand its own audience and uses those insights to vet potential partners, it increases the chances of adding the influencer’s audience members to its own because there is a natural alignment in what content works for both.
  2. Find a partner who is willing to stick their neck out for the collaboration. Anyone with a high follower count can post sponsored content or record a quick plug for a brand that’s paying them, but it’s an entirely different beast to put your name on a product. Especially when you’re driving the product development and therefore largely responsible for the success or failure in the marketplace. If a partner is willing to do that, you know she believes in your brand and will stake her own reputation on it.
  3. Get as out of the way as your lawyers will let you. Fresh won when it gave up creative control – of the product, the name and packaging, the launch video and the primary social content creation and distribution. The brand put its trust in Nilsen that she knew her audience (and Fresh’s) and would create a product and marketing campaign that would appeal to both.
  4. Keep your bottom line in mind. Consider marrying an innovative influencer campaign with a tried-and-true sales tactic like seasonality or limited-time-only to inspire quick, affinity-driven purchase decisions.

 

This post Social Spotlight: #FreshXIngridNilsen originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 4 days ago from feedproxy.google.com

Here’s what you need to know about Google’s newest local algorithm update

Google’s biggest local algorithm update since 2016 will require businesses and agencies to be more vigilant about fighting spam in affected areas.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 4 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com