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20 Tools for Creating and Delivering Amazing Presentations

If you’re in business, you need to know how to create captivating presentations. Whether you’re trying to convince your boss to support a new campaign, talking with a prospect to close a deal, or building a new piece of marketing collateral, you need to know how craft a presentation that won’t put people to sleep.

The best (and easiest) way to do that? Use the right tools to create and deliver your presentation.

If you’re not sure which tools to use, look no further than this blog post. We’ve compiled our list of the top presentation tools for sales and marketing professionals. They’re listed below, in no particular order. But first …

Why You Should Use Business Presentation Templates

Using a professional presentation design ensures your content is conveyed in a clear, creative, and visually appealing way. To make it stand out further, try using HubSpot’s custom-build templates rather than utilizing one of the existing templates in in your presentation software. You can download them for free here.

Best Presentation Tools

1. Canva

canva-presentation-tool

Canva makes design easy — even for marketers and salespeople who feel like they’re design-challenged. The platform gives you a bunch of presentation templates to use right away, and it’s very easy to customize them to your organization and presentation objective. Plus, a variety of apps that integrate with Google Drive, Instagram, and YouTube, to name a few.

Pricing: Free; Pro, $12.95/month for up to five people; Enterprise, $30/month per person

2. Powtoon

powtoon-video-presentations

Often, being different is what attracts prospects, and Powtoon can help you do that in your presentations. Powtoon’s animation software lets you easily create videos with props, characters, and more — which can help you differentiate your company when talking with prospects.

Pricing: Pro, $19/month; Pro+ $49/month; Agency, $89/month

3. PowerPoint

microsoft-365-presentation-software

For years, PowerPoint has been the standard in presentation software, but it hasn’t remained static. PowerPoint is full of features to make sales and marketing presentations dynamic and engaging. (Here are just a few ways you can do that.)

Pricing: Business Basic, $5/user/month; Business Standard, $12.50/user/month; Business Premium, $20/user/month

4. Oomfo

oomfo.png

A PowerPoint add-in, Oomfo helps sales and marketing pros create those oh-so-important interactive charts for presentations. Specialized charts, live charts from multiple files, data from cloud applications, interactive options, one-click conversions — it’s all possible, and more, with Oomfo.

Pricing: Free

5. Keynote

keynote-presentations

Apple’s Keynote allows users to work between their Mac and iOS devices, as well as with people who use Microsoft PowerPoint. With easy-to-use visual tools, drag and drop functionality, interactive charts, and more, Keynote is a popular choice among sales and marketing professionals.

Pricing: Free

6. Beautiful.ai

beautiful-ai-presentation-design

Create beautiful slides, pitches, and proposals without a team of designers. AI applies design rules in real time, and a library of free photos and icons are at your fingertips.

Pricing: Basic, $0; Pro, $12/month; Team, $38/user/month

7. Haiku Deck

haiku-deck-presentation-design

Available for the web or iPad, Haiku Deck has become a favorite of sales and marketing pros. With Haiku Deck, professionals can quickly create presentations that can be “easily projected, shared, posted, embedded on a website or blog, or viewed on any web-enabled device.” Though it’s another tool that helps you create presentations from scratch, its ease-of-use sets it apart from the rest.

Pricing: Pro, $9.99 – $19.99/month; Premium, $29.99/month

8. Vyond

vyond-animated-videos

Vyond is an online animation software that allows you to create animated videos for marketing campaigns, sales enablement, or even human resources. Use their library of customizable templates or create your own from scratch.

Pricing: Essential, $229/year; Premium, $649/year; Professional, $999/user/year; Enterprise, contact for pricing

9. emaze

emaze-quick-presentations

Busy sales and marketing pros choose emaze because it makes creating amazing presentations quick and easy. The options abound with emaze: Choose a professionally designed template and then create a slideshow, video presentation, or 3D presentation.

Pricing: Business Plan, contact for pricing; Executive Plan, $40/month; Pro Plan, $13/month

10. Camtasia

camtasia-screen-recording

TechSmith’s Camtasia is an amazing tool that helps you create professional videos. You can record screen movements, import HD video from another source, customize and edit the video, and then share the completed video presentation on practically any device. 

Pricing: Individual, $249.99/user/year; Business $249.99/user/year; Education, $169.99/user/year; Government and Non-Profit, $223.99/user/year

11. SlideShare

slideshare-slides

SlideShare is a popular choice for sales and marketing professionals looking for a way to share their content publicly. Because it already has a built-in audience, you can easily distribute your presentation out to lots of people — and those people can embed your SlideShares on websites and blogs, or share them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Pricing: Free

12. SlideDog

slidedog-presentation-tool

Sometimes, sales and marketing professionals need to be able to move between presentation tools, but it’s not always possible because of their technical limitations. SlideDog is the solution, as it enables users to switch between PowerPoint, Prezi, PDF, web pages and others.

Pricing: Free; Pro, $99/year; Pro Event, $49 for one-time payment

13. Presentation Assistant

presentation_assistant

Presentation Assistant lives up to its name: It assists professionals by enabling them to annotate, zoom, and more during a presentation. Sales and marketing professionals can clarify and emphasize points more clearly to their audience with Presentation Assistant.

Pricing: Presentation Pointer, $29.95; Presentation Screen Master, $29.95

14. authorSTREAM

authorstream

Sales and marketing pros choose authorSTREAM to make their presentations dynamic and engaging. authorSTREAM allows users to share their PowerPoint presentations publicly or privately, broadcast them, convert them to video, communicate and collaborate about them, and more.

Pricing: Free or paid plans start at $4.20/month

15. Zentation

zentation-online-presentations

With Zentation, salespeople and marketers combine video and slides into a simulated live experience. Presentations created with Zentation become webinars, webcasts, and virtual events for prospects and customers — all great collateral for marketing and sales.

Pricing: Free; Premium, $10 – $45/month; White-Label, contact for pricing

16. Prezi

prezi-tool

Sales and marketing professionals love Prezi because it is cloud-based. Prezi makes creating, editing, and presenting from your browser, desktop, iPad, or iPhone possible anywhere, any time.

Pricing: Standard, $5/month; Plus, $15/month; Premium, $59/month

17. Brainshark

brainshark-sales-enablementSales reps and marketers often choose Brainshark, a cloud-based presentation tool, because it allows them to create and deliver presentations live or on-demand (even using their iPad or iPhone), use on-demand video content, polls, or surveys for increased engagement, and embed presentations in websites and blogs.

Pricing: Contact for pricing

18. Vcasmo

vcasmo

Vcasmo is a unique presentation tool — it’s a multimedia solution that enables users to synchronize a video and slideshow, side by side. Sales and marketing pros love Vcasmo because it supports playback in three forms: browser, mobile, and iPad. 

Pricing: Free; Standard, $10.99/month; Professional, $16.99/month

19. ViewletBuilder

viewlet_builder

ViewletBuilder is a different presentation tool; it captures critical screen updates and cursor position changes so sales and marketing pros can create presentations detailing how their product or sites work. With a plethora of features, ViewletBuilder allows for editing and enhancing and includes a variety of publishing and sharing options, too.

Pricing: Pro, $399; Enterprise, $599

20. Zoho Show

Zoho-show

Zoho Show is a top pick for sales and marketing pros because it lives online, making it possible to create, access, present, and more from anywhere, any time. The simple, intuitive interface and collaboration features are just two of its beloved benefits.

Pricing: Contact for pricing

What are you waiting for? Pick a tool and start creating. Your prospects are waiting.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

 

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

What Is the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint?

Despite how many PowerPoint presentations I’ve given in my life, I’ve always struggled with understanding the best practices for creating them. I know they need to look nice, but figuring out how to make them aesthetically pleasing and informative is tough. 

I’m sure my experience isn’t unique, as finding the correct balance between content, design, and timing can be difficult. Marketers know this more than anyone, as success in the role is often marked by being able to create engaging campaigns that tell a story and inspire audiences to take a specific action, like purchasing a product. 

However, PowerPoint presentations are different from advertisements. Understanding how to leverage your marketing knowledge when creating PowerPoints can be tricky. Still, there are various resources for marketers to use when creating presentations, one of which is the 10/20/30 rule. 

Coined by Guy Kawasaki, the rule is a tool for marketers to create excellent PowerPoint presentations. Each element of the formula helps marketers find a balance between design and conceptual explanations, so you can capture audience attention, emphasize your points, and enhance readability. 

Guy Kawasaki PowerPoint

Guy Kawasaki, one of the early Apple employees, championed the concept of a ‘brand evangelist’ to describe his position. He spent most of his time working to generate a follower base for Macintosh, the family of Apple computers. Today he works as a brand evangelist for Canva, an online graphic design tool. 

Given that he’s had significant experience giving presentations to captivate audiences, he’s figured out that the 10/20/30 is a successful formula to follow. Kawasaki’s book, Art of The Start, is where he first introduced the concept and described how it works.

Let’s cover each part of the rule in more detail. 

10 Slides

Kawasaki believes that it’s challenging for audiences to comprehend more than ten concepts during a presentation. Given this, marketers should aim to create PowerPoints with no more than ten slides, i.e., ten ideas you’ll explain. Using fewer slides and focusing on the critical elements helps your audience grasp the concepts you’re sharing with them. 

In practice, this means creating slides that are specific and straight to the point. For example, say you’re presenting on the success of your recent campaign. Your marketing strategy was likely extensive, and you took a series of different actions to obtain your end result. Instead of outlining every aspect of your campaign, you would use your slides to outline its main elements of your strategy. This could look like individual slides for summarizing the problem you hoped to solve, your goals, the steps you took to reach your goals, and post-campaign analytics data that summarizes your accomplishments. 

It’s important to note that there shouldn’t be overwhelming amounts of text on your slides. You want them to be concise. Your audience should get most of the information from the words you’re speaking; your slides should be more supplemental than explanatory. 

20 Minutes

After you’ve spent time coming up with your ten key points, you’ll need to present them in 20 minutes. Knowing that you’ll only have 20 minutes also makes it easier to plan and structure your talk, as you’ll know how much time to dedicate to each slide, so you address all relevant points.

Kawasaki acknowledges that presentation time slots can often be longer, but finishing at the 20-minute mark leaves time for valuable discussion and Q&A. Saving time in your presentation also leaves space for technical difficulties. 

30 Point Font

If you’ve been in the audience during a presentation, you probably know that slides with small font can be challenging to read and take your attention away from the speaker. 

Kawasaki’s final rule is that no font within your presentation should be smaller than 30 point size. If you’ve already followed the previous rules, then you should be able to display your key points on your slides in a large enough font that users can read. Since your key points are short and focused, there won’t be a lot of text for your audience to read, and they’ll spend more time listening to you speak. 

Given that the average recommended font size for accessibility is 16, using a 30-point font ensures that all members of your audience can read and interact with your slides. 

Make Your Presentations More Engaging

The 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint is meant to help marketers create powerful presentations. 

Each element of the rule works in tandem with the other: limiting yourself to 10 slides requires you to select the most salient points to present to your audience. A 20-minute timeline helps you ensure that you’re contextualizing those slides as you speak, without delving into unnecessary information. Using a 30-point font can act as a final check for your presentation, as it emphasizes the importance of only displaying key points on your slides, rather than huge blocks of text. Font size then circles back around to the ten slides, as you’ll craft sentences from your key points that will fit on your slides in 30-point font. 

Being mindful of slide count, text size, and presentation length ensures that your audiences are captivated by your words as you explain the value behind your work. 

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com


From The Experts: Global Digital Accessibility Developments During COVID-19

What impact has COVID-19 had on companies across the UK and beyond? I’ve been hosting a series of monthly webinars with senior accessibility guests from global brands such as Microsoft and ATOS, and UK giants like Barclays and Sainsbury’s. We’ve been talking Covid, the challenges and opportunities the crisis brings, agile adjustments, digital inclusion and much, much more.

Top Tips From The Experts

Visit our website for this evolving series of webinars for full interviews and transcripts, but in this article, I’ve brought together the top tips on Covid challenges and opportunities covered by my guests to date. Let’s start with the Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO) at Microsoft.

Jenny Lay-Flurrie (Microsoft)

The very fact that Microsoft has a CAO — an accessibility lead at C-level — demonstrates its commitment to accessibility (AKA ‘Digital inclusion’. Follow the accessibility guidelines and you end up with a product that is inclusive and easier to use by all.) Importantly (in my opinion) Jenny also has ‘lived experience’ of disability.

Jenny began by emphasising the priority that all companies should place in digital inclusion;

“It’s never been more important to think about accessibility during these times. I think while accessibility’s clearly been a priority for Microsoft… the limelight the pandemic has put on the need for Access has been pretty humbling and one hell of a learning journey.”

Jenny is deaf and has, before Covid, always been accompanied by an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter. Since that first day of lockdown they’ve never been together in the same room;

“We had to learn how to work remotely. This isn’t something that we’re used to doing. We had to really learn that skill set. I will tell you that was its own journey and I think every individual has been on their journey sort of figuring out how this works.”

This is why having senior team members and decision-makers with lived experience of disability is so vital to ensure that accessibility is sufficiently and continually prioritized within your organization — and that decisions are based upon input from those who really know what both inclusion and exclusion looks like.

Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk — its free customer support service for those with disabilities — saw volumes rocket after lockdown;

“They doubled pretty much overnight. We’ve been steadily running at two to three hundred percent of volume expectations, and we’ve been running this for seven years.”

Whether you decide to provide well-signposted channels specifically for disabled customers, or whether you ensure that individuals flagging a disability to the general customer support agents are provided the level of specialist support they need, the ability of users to get answers to questions relating to alternative formats, accessibility settings or assistive technologies is crucial.

Video conferencing has obviously been one of the key technologies that has made home working possible. After lockdown, the majority of questions that Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk received were about Teams. Because Teams was already accessible, they could then go on to address additional requests (most commonly-requested was AI-powered captions) without having to scramble to retrofit inclusion that hadn’t been sufficiently prioritized pre-Covid. Jenny says;

“We’ve had a 20 year plus history with accessibility, but really our focus in the last few years of infusing it across a company stood us in good stead. It meant we have the foundation so that we could lift quicker. So yeah, it’s been one heck of a ride and, my gosh, very humbling.

“I think there’s a pull, a natural human pull to go back to the way it was. I actually don’t think that is possible anymore. I think from a technology perspective, it’s definitely driven a ton of innovation and I think that there’s risks with that.”

She goes on to highlight the challenge associated with disabled employees working from home without physical support on-hand;

“If you do put out something that’s inaccessible, the impact is far more profound because you, for example, don’t have the ability to just grab a pair of eyes. I don’t have the ability to grab a sign language interpreter and understand a video if it doesn’t have captions.”

Accessibility has always driven innovation in digital products — and Covid has prioritized their implementation. Many of the new features in Teams, for example, were driven by a strategy of inclusion. Something as simple as hand raise (which lets the host see that you’re waiting to ask a question) was included after feedback from users experiencing anxiety around when to interrupt the conversation — but as a result had significant benefits for those with disabilities or impairments. Jenny says,

“That’s got really cool implications for cognitive neurodiversity, let alone deafness and other disabilities … With every scenario like this one you do get an innovation boost.”

A big thanks to Jenny for her insights into how an inclusion agenda has both benefitted Microsoft and its customers around the world during the Covid crisis and beyond.

Now let’s turn to the ever-so-slightly important issue of accessible banking…

Paul Smyth (Barclays)

Paul Smyth is a fellow MBE recipient, and founder and leader of Digital Accessibility at UK retail bank; Barclays. It goes without saying that effective access to online banking is very important and, during this period of the pandemic, absolutely essential. Imagine the impact of delivering those services in a way that excludes around 20% of your customers — and in a way that often makes it harder for the other 80% too. A commitment to accessibility and providing sufficient support to disabled and vulnerable customers is key.

Paul chose to focus first on supporting disabled and vulnerable customers:

“I always thought that accessible customer service comes down to three things; offering flexibility, choice and personalization. I think now, in this Covid crisis, there’s maybe two more things that are important for brands to respond to; about being responsive and being responsible … and again making sure they can do their banking how, where and when they want.”

At the onset of lockdown, the use of cash and branches reduced significantly. Barclays proactively reached out to all disabled and otherwise vulnerable customers, outlined extra support and services available, made sure that those customers were fast-tracked when they used phone banking along with NHS workers, and elected to provide specialist support through their main number and not a special one “buried away”. Both this approach and that of Microsoft to provide a specific support line for disabled customers are valid — the main thing is that people can easily find out about the channel and easily find the information and support they need when using it.

Barclays also put in place some very practical measures aimed at bridging the absence of ‘hands-on’ support that vulnerable customers may experience during the pandemic. These included contactless wearables, that the customer could top up for family or friends to then take to do their shopping without having to give them their credit or debit card, as well as ’Cash to the Doorstep’ for those who are shielding. Finally, Barclays reviewed its talking ATMs to confirm that user journeys spoke well for blind and visually impaired customers.

Paul then turned to digital banking. He confirmed that millions more are now using its website and app to do online banking.

“For many of those customers that are quite new to digital and being forced to do it, it’s great that we have our main website and app that you know are accessible — they’re accessibility accredited by AbilityNet. We’re serious and committed about that, we go to great pains to make sure they’re [ATMs] are technically accessible and we do disabled user testing to give a great experience for a greater number of people.”

Barclays has also seen a massive increase in features such as cheque imaging to process and pay a cheque using your mobile’s camera. To help all customers get to grips with these novel new capabilities, Barclays has also created simple guides for those new to digital, on how to use and get the most out of their online and mobile services. Being simple, and inclusive, they will be accessible and understandable to the broadest possible audience.

Paul also had much to say on Barclays’ response to Covid when it comes to its employees. For those with a disability, they were quick to duplicate at home any assistive kit needed at work. As lockdown went on, they had a ten-fold increase in similar requests from other employees without an impairment and, as a result of needing to process the needs of those with disabilities, were then more readily able to put into place scalable solutions for the broader workforce — getting ergonomic chairs and monitors out in volume. They didn’t take a reactive role, however, but proactively invited requests for equipment driven by awareness campaigns.

With regards to transitioning back to the workplace:

“We ensured that diverse voices of all employees were canvassed in terms of how and when they might return to the office, rather than relying on the decisions of senior leaders in their spacious smart home offices.”

Paul also flagged that more socially-distanced workspaces going forward might have advantages for disabled employees, such as better wheelchair access and lower noise levels.

He concludes;

“So it’s really important that we amplify the voices of the disability community in particular as well as people with a whole wide range of backgrounds, to make sure we’re going in eyes wide open to review the ways we’re going to be working from home and the tools that everybody needs to succeed, as well as how the offices of the future are also going to be slightly different from what we have now.”

A huge thanks to Paul for some really practical and impactful tips on what prioritizing inclusion looks like in practice. Now let’s turn to a truly global tech giant…

Neil Milliken (ATOS)

Neil Milliken is Global Head of Accessibility at ATOS, host of AXS Chat and winner of the 2019 Business Disability Forum award. We got started by talking about the shift to home working and how this was handled in such a massive organisation as ATOS. As an early adopter of flexible work patterns, ATOS were well-prepared for the shift to home working:

“As an organization, we were actually doing flexible working quite some time ago, so it’s been really quite good for us in that we were fairly well prepared, not just technologically, because we had the set‑up to enable people to work from home, but in terms of organizational mindset. Because actually a lot of the stuff about working from home isn’t about the technology. It’s about trust. It’s about understanding and allowing your employees to work on their own without micromanaging and seeing them. That said, you know, we still need to make sure that all of the accessibility features work on remote. We need to make sure that people have suitable environments to work in, and that’s problematic if people are working from home.”

Neil emphasized the importance of virtual face-to-face contact, but also warned of overload:

“I think there is a real Zoom fatigue. I’m amazed we have people on this webinar because everybody’s doing a webinar! Me included. We have been doing AXS Chat for six years. It is great to turn the video on to get the visual cues from someone. As a very visual person, that lag between what is being said and the microsecond delay actually puts a fair amount of strain on you. I know that’s not relevant to you so much. But it certainly is among the dyslexic and neurodiverse community.”

As a blind person, I can still see the benefit of having my camera on so that others can get visual signals while I speak, but others may wish to have theirs off for a host of reasons including bandwidth, visual overload, self-consciousness of their appearance or background or a whole host of other personal circumstances.

Neil also talks about a proactive approach to up-skilling employees:

“We work quite closely with organizations like the International Association of accessibility professionals, as does AbilityNet, so we are both parts of the UK chapter there. I have been working with them on strategic leadership certification in accessibility.”

I couldn’t agree more with Neil here. Professionalizing accessibility within your leads and champions is an important element to ensuring an adequate level of knowledge of both guidelines and testing techniques.

He also flags the importance of identifying future accessibility champions via the apprenticeship route:

“At the other side, shifting left, in terms of not leadership, but people to deliver, we have been working on apprenticeships. It’s actually quite hard to find enough people to address the scale of the problem with the skills that we need in the market. So we determined a few years back, that we needed to grow our own skills and we started doing apprenticeships. When we found that people were interested in poaching our former apprentices, I thought maybe this is a signal that we need to go wider.”

As a result, ATOS decided to collaborate on a standardized approach to accessibility apprenticeships:

“Again, working with AbilityNet and Shell and Barclays and a consortium of other organizations, we have created this accessibility apprenticeship standard. It’s for accessibility specialists. It’s the equivalent of a foundation degree; so the first year of a degree — a Level 4 apprenticeship. That’s almost ready to go. I expect that we should be ready to have a first cohort at the beginning of next year… all being well, because Covid is definitely throwing a spanner into the works with things right now.”

Lastly, let’s hear from another company delivering a key service during Covid; Sainsbury’s.

Bryn Anderson (Sainsbury’s)

Bryn Anderson, formerly of SiteImprove, is now an accessibility specialist at Sainsbury’s and a key part of its on-going mission to be market-leaders in digital inclusion in the retail sector. Himself disabled, he flags how digital inclusion shot to the top of the agenda during lockdown:

“I’m visually impaired, born with albinism and certainly I did not identify as someone who was disabled, which was a lot down to my parents … but I find myself identifying with it more and more. Especially during the pandemic, it really carried weight. And the topic, accessibility, disability, it was really mainstream. We were having tech huddles and digital huddles of hundreds of people. 600 people on the calls and accessibility and disability are at the top of the agenda. So incredible in that respect but it does not mean that people understand it, right? …Just because it is being talked about, does not mean that everyone understands it.”

I think Bryn’s point here is key. Even though it’s crucial to get buy-in for digital inclusion at the highest level — with the protection of time and resources required to ensure it’s achievable and maintainable in the long-term — it still takes a concerted effort for all those who are involved in digital in any way to get to grips with what inclusive design looks like in their role and daily tasks. Moreover, it’s vital that they hear first-hand from disabled colleagues or guest customers to have the confidence that their interpretation of the accessibility guidelines is appropriate. Don’t do accessibility in a vacuum — involve those with lived experiences and make sure this approach is formalized and frictionless — not ad-hoc and erratic.

I asked Bryn whether Sainsbury’s’s long-standing prioritization of accessibility helped it during Covid:

“If we take the business as a whole, we were well-prepared in that a lot of people understand what inclusion and accessibility is. Our drivers, pre-Covid, would make exceptions for people, help to carry shopping on the delivery front, and like you mentioned, we have had an accessibility agenda for some time.”

And it seems that Covid has thrown a new focus on the importance of ensuring that its products are accessible and reflect a user’s preferences:

“I was reporting on iOS statistics in the build-up to Covid about font scaling … what is the percentage of sessions completed with a larger font setting? It was 30% of the iOS sessions, which is huge, right? So, that knowledge is there. So we knew that, actually, I beg your pardon, it was 27, it went up to 30 through March, April and May which is also interesting.”

Bryn continues:

“But the other piece, the biggest piece — and I think companies like Sainsbury’s have a massive opportunity here, like Microsoft as well and other large corporates — to really utilize the workforce to leverage their voice as people with disabilities. We know that a huge amount of our workforce (we have 190,000 employees) have impairments. There is a lot of grassroots stuff. A lot happens at that level.”

He goes on to say how important it is to bring those voices together in a way that ensures they are evaluated and acted upon. Called the Enable Network, it comprises colleagues with disabilities at every level within the organization.

“We have people in logistics talking to designers in my team about colleague applications, for example. It gives people a voice, it raises awareness and of course, the most important thing, which is the education piece … You can talk theoretically about someone with a cognitive impairment or dyslexia, but when someone with dyslexia says ‘I tried to do this on your application, it does not work,’ that is where the education happens.”

I asked Bryn about how best to ensure that you can utilize the experience of this wonderfully diverse workforce without it clashing with their day-jobs:

“I think that the reason it can exist in a business is because you have a policy, and you have the initiative from the top-down in the first place. It is hard to do that guerrilla-style underground revolution approach. So everything, every time we have a meeting, every time we connect a colleague to a colleague, it is under the banner of: We want to be the most inclusive retailer where people want to work and shop. So you better turn up!”

We briefly talked about the role of an automated accessibility checking solution (software that can scan a website and highlight a portion of those accessibility errors present) and if it will ever be able to do a full accessibility audit of a website;

“We build and maintain the Sainsbury’s design system which is called Luna. We built a dashboard that monitors a few pages of each of our main customer-facing brands. Obviously, I will caveat that by saying automation is great for doing top of the funnel stuff, but … it can’t test if every task can be completed with a keyboard, for example, so I think we are a long way from that.”

Bryn goes on to warn of organizations that claim to take care of accessibility for you:

“I don’t want to name names but there are solutions out there saying that this sort of remediation solution where: We will bring you 100% compliance, you only have to pay £1,000 a month — whatever. Completely limited solutions … band-aid solutions. There is nothing clever about them.”

It’s true. There’s no shortcut to accessibility — but with some effort, education, and prioritization we see the results.

Lastly, I asked about the challenge of ensuring that inclusive design comes from the content creators and developers, rather than retrofitting, where the onus and responsibility shifts from the people that are developing the solutions to those who must patch and repair accessibility where possible:

“There are too many cooks in the whole process. That is one of the biggest problems. Not everyone has the same level of knowledge … it is a huge challenge and a huge education piece for all of the parts of the system that accessibility touches so, ironically, it is hard to be inclusive without a specialist at the moment.”

It’s true. As we’ve heard from my other guests above, accessibility issues touch every department and every role to some extent — and yet, until it is taught as a standard part of every digital worker’s role, it will require champions with additional knowledge to be actively involved. That’s a tough ask across an organization of the size of Sainsbury’s (or indeed ATOS, Barclays or Microsoft) but these amazing organizations are definitely giving it the priority and resources it deserves.

Some Straightforward Steps To Better Websites

Accessibility can be a daunting topic if you’re just beginning to get to grips with it. Let’s finish off by looking at some simple, straightforward steps to get you started — for websites at least.

These five tips will make your site slicker and better to use for a wider audience and will help you meet your obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

1. Hide Your Mouse To Check Keyboard Accessibility

Making your site accessible without using a mouse is a legal requirement and something that will benefit many of your visitors. People with little vision rely on keyboard access as they cannot easily see the mouse cursor on the screen. Sighted users with motor difficulties such as Parkinson’s or a stroke can find keyboard access simpler as well.

Just by hiding your mouse and trying to access your site and all its options with only a keyboard can show how you’re doing and how to improve this. In particular, make sure that a visible focus indicator is always present (preferably a highly visible one), ie, so it is very obvious where your mouse or cursor is at any given time. Also make sure that there is a logical focus order around the page, ie that the page is set up in a way that doesn’t mean screenreaders or other technology jump all over the page and don’t make sense to all users.

2. Avoid Poor Contrast

Everyone finds low contrast text difficult to read, particularly people with low vision. Use a contrast checking tool such as Tanaguru’s Contrast Finder, this allows you to enter two different colors and check the contrast between them. It can also suggest alternatives if the colors have insufficient contrast. Alternatively, a color picker tool like the Contrast Analyser from the Paciello Group will help.

Hint: Trust your eyes too — it can be simple to spot offending text colors by eye, and then just verify them with the tool. This is best used early in the design process, so that issues can be addressed before the site goes live.

3. Do A Free Accessibility Check

The organization WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) provides a free, automated, online checker here. This can give you quick feedback on some more technical issues on your website, e.g. if forms are correctly marked up with labels. This is a great way to highlight issues during the development process. Be aware that any automated testing can only cover a small subset of all possible accessibility issues. However, it is a valuable technique when used alongside manual testing.

4. Provide An Accessibility Page

An accessibility page is often an opportunity for organizations to state what measures they have taken to make their site accessible. You can also use this page to let people get in touch with any difficulties they experience while using your site. (See AbilityNet’s accessibility page for an example.)

Getting feedback from people visiting your site is very valuable. By making it easier for users to feedback to you directly, you will benefit greatly by both demonstrating your commitment to improving your site, and being able to respond to individual issues as they arise.

5. Content Is King: Know Your Audience

People come to websites to find information, or to carry out an action. It makes sense to make this process as easy as possible for people. Know your expected audience, and write copy accordingly. Using financial jargon may be fine for visitors with a financial background, but other users may miss out. Good practice is to avoid jargon, or if it is necessary, provide a glossary.

Make use of headings, paragraphs, and bulleted lists to break text up into meaningful sections. Make one key point per paragraph. Use different methods to convey information. Some users will prefer to read content, others will benefit from a video, others prefer a simplified, or illustrated guide.

Covid: More Opportunity Than Challenge

In conclusion, it looks like Covid has brought organizations to a realization that now, more than ever, is the time to embrace accessibility and ensure that products are usable by all; all your customers and all your employees. Your organization can also benefit from the digital inclusion bonus by following some of the approaches outlined above.

So, how’s your organization doing? Are you proactively and systematically benefitting from your diverse employees and customers — or are your accessibility efforts ad hoc and uninformed? Do you distribute the responsibility for digital inclusion across departments, or do you rely on an isolated team without the reach or authority to make a real impact? Are you prioritizing accessibility early and putting the right tools and training in place — or are you choosing to reactively retrofit inclusion?

If you’re not sure about the answers to any of the above and you’d like to be stepped through the process of evaluating the level of accessibility that currently exist within your organization’s digital properties, policies, processes, and practices — and systematically assisted in compiling a roadmap to compliance — then organizations such as AbilityNet can help.

At present, only a vanishingly small proportion of websites are accessible and legally compliant. As a disabled person myself, I am only too acutely aware of what digital exclusion means to those shut out of online services. Some of these services (like food shopping, banking or video conferencing) will be vital to survival and employment during this unprecedented time of pandemic and isolation. Others, arguably less essential, will nevertheless immeasurably add to our quality of life. Let’s learn from the mega-brands who have chosen to be inclusive, and let’s help make everyone’s life a little better during Covid and beyond.

AbilityNet’s digital accessibility experts can offer advice about how to improve your website’s accessibility. Visit the AbilityNet website for more information.

Further Resources

If you’ve found this article useful, here are a few more I’ve written recently on related topics:

You can read all my articles on the power of tech and inclusion on the AbilityNet website.

Reblogged 1 year ago from smashingmagazine.com

Location Data + Reviews: The 1–2 Punch of Local SEO (Updated for 2020)

Posted by MiriamEllis

Get found. Get chosen.

It’s the local SEO two-step at the heart of every campaign. It’s the 1-2 punch combo that hinges on a balance of visible, accurate contact data, and a volunteer salesforce of consumer reviewers who are supporting your rise to local prominence.

But here’s the thing: while managed location data and reviews may be of equal and complementary power, they shouldn’t require an equal share of your time.

Automation of basic business data distribution is the key to freeing you up to focus on the elements of listings that require human ingenuity — namely, reviews and other listings-based content like posts and Q&A.

It’s my hope that sharing this article with your team or your boss will help you get the financial allocations you need for automated listings management, plus generous resources for creative reputation management.

Location data + reviews = the big picture

When Google lists a business, it gives good space to the business name, and a varying degree of space to the address and phone number. But look at the real estate occupied by the various aspects associated with reputation:

If Google cares this much about ratings, review text, responses, and emerging elements like place topics and attributes, any local brand you’re marketing should see these factors as a priority. In this article, I’ll strive to codify your actionable perspective on managing both location data and the many aspects of reviews.

Ratings: The most powerful local filter of them all

In the local SEO industry, we talk a lot about Google’s filters, like the Possum filter that’s supposed to strain local businesses through a sort of sieve so that a greater diversity of mapped results is shown to the searcher. But searchers have an even more powerful filter than this — the human-driven filter of ratings that helps people intuitively sort local brands by perceived quality.

Whether they’re stars or circles, the majority of rating icons send a 1–5 point signal to consumers that can be instantly understood. This symbol system has been around since at least the 1820s; it’s deeply ingrained in all our brains as a judgement of value.

This useful, rapid form of shorthand lets a searcher needing to do something like grab a quick taco see that the food truck with five Yelp stars is likely a better bet than the one with only two. Meanwhile, searchers with more complex needs can comb through the ratings of many listings at leisure, carefully weighing one option against another for major purchases. In Google’s local results, ratings are the most powerful human-created filter that influences the major goal of being chosen.

But before a local brand can be chosen on the basis of its high ratings, it has to rank well enough to be found. The good news is that, over the past three years, expert local SEOs have become increasingly convinced of the impact of Google ratings on Google local pack rankings. In 2017, when I wrote the original version of this post, contributors to the Local Search Ranking Factors survey placed Google star ratings down at #24 in terms of local rankings influence. In 2020, this metric has jumped up to spot #8 — a leap of 16 spots in just three years.

In the interim, Google has been experimenting with different ratings-related displays. In 2017, they were testing the application of a “highly rated” snippet on hotel rankings in the local packs. Today, their complex hotel results let the user opt to see only 4+ star results. Meanwhile, local SEOs have noticed patterns over the years like searches with the format of “best X in city” (e.g. best burrito in Dallas) appearing to default to local results made up of businesses that have earned a minimum average of four stars. Doubtless, observations like these have strengthened experts’ convictions that Google cares a lot about ratings and allows them to influence rank.

Heading into 2021, any local brand with goals of being found and chosen must view low ratings as an impediment to reaching full growth potential.

Consumer sentiment: The local business story your customers are writing for you

Here’s a randomly chosen Google 3-pack result when searching just for “tacos” in a small city in the San Francisco Bay Area:

taco3pack.jpg

We’ve just covered the topic of ratings, and you can look at a result like this to get that instant gut feeling about the 4-star-rated eateries vs. the 2-star place. Now, let’s open the book on business #3 and see precisely what kind of brand story its consumers are writing, as you would in conducting a professional review audit for a local business, excerpting dominant sentiment:

tacoaudit.jpg

It’s easy to ding fast food chains. Their business model isn’t commonly associated with fine dining or the kind of high wages that tend to promote employee excellence. In some ways, I think of them as extreme examples. Yet, they serve as good teaching models for how even the most modest-quality offerings create certain expectations in the minds of consumers, and when those basic expectations aren’t met, it’s enough of a story for consumers to share in the form of reviews.

This particular restaurant location has an obvious problem with slow service, orders being filled incorrectly, and employees who have been denied the training they need to represent the brand in a knowledgeable, friendly, or accessible manner. If you audited a different business, its pain points might surround outdated fixtures or low standards of cleanliness.

Whatever the case, when the incoming consumer turns to the review world, their eyes scan the story as it scrolls down their screen. Repeat mentions of a particular negative issue can create enough of a theme to turn the potential customer away. One survey says only up to 11% of consumers will do business with a brand that’s wound up with a 2-star rating based on poor reviews. Who can afford to let the other 91% of consumers go elsewhere?

The central goal of being chosen hinges on recognizing that your reviewer base is a massive, unpaid salesforce that tells your brand story. Survey after survey consistently finds that people trust reviews — in fact, they may trust them more than any claim your brand can make about itself.

Going into 2021, the writing is on the wall that Google cares a great deal about themes surfacing in your reviews. The ongoing development and display of place topics and attributes signifies Google’s increasing interest in parsing sentiment, and doubtless, using such data to determine relevance.

Fully embracing review management and the total local customer service ecosystem is key to giving customers a positive tale to tell, enabling the business you’re marketing to be trusted and chosen for the maximum number of transactions.

Velocity/recency/count: Just enough of a timely good thing to be competitive

This is one of the easiest aspects of review management to convey. You can sum it up in one sentence: don’t get too many reviews at once on any given platform but do get enough reviews on an ongoing basis to avoid looking like you’ve gone out of business.

For a little more background on the first part of that statement, watch Mary Bowling describing in this LocalU video how she audited a law firm that went from zero to thirty 5-star reviews within a single month. Sudden gluts of reviews like this not only look odd to alert customers, but they can trip review platform filters, resulting in removal. Remember, reviews are a business lifetime effort, not a race. Get a few this month, a few next month, and a few the month after that. Keep going.

The second half of the review timing paradigm relates to not running out of steam in your acquisition campaigns. Multiple surveys indicate that the largest percentage of review readers consider content from the past month to be most relevant. Despite this, Google’s index is filled with local brands that haven’t been reviewed in over a year, leaving searchers to wonder if a place is still in business, or if it’s so unimpressive that no one is bothering to review it.

While I’d argue that review recency may be more important in review-oriented industries (like restaurants) vs. those that aren’t quite as actively reviewed (like septic system servicing), the idea here is similar to that of velocity, in that you want to keep things going. Don’t run a big review acquisition campaign in January and then forget about outreach for the rest of the year. A moderate, steady pace of acquisition is ideal.

And finally, a local SEO FAQ comes from business owners who want to know how many reviews they need to earn. There’s no magic number, but the rule of thumb is that you need to earn more reviews than the top competitor you are trying to outrank for each of your search terms. This varies from keyword phrase, to keyword phrase, from city to city, from vertical to vertical. The best approach is steady growth of reviews to surpass whatever number the top competitor has earned.

Authenticity: Honesty is the only honest policy

For me, this is one of the most prickly and interesting aspects of the review world. Three opposing forces meet on this playing field: business ethics, business education, and the temptations engendered by the obvious limitations of review platforms to police themselves.

I often recall a basic review audit I did for a family-owned restaurant belonging to a friend of a friend. Within minutes, I realized that the family had been reviewing their own restaurant on Yelp (a glaring violation of Yelp’s policy). I felt sorry to see this, but being acquainted with the people involved (and knowing them to be quite nice!), I highly doubted they had done this out of some dark impulse to deceive the public.

Rather, my guess was that they may have thought they were “getting the ball rolling” for their new business, hoping to inspire real reviews. My gut feeling was that they simply lacked the necessary education to understand that they were being dishonest with their community and how this could lead to them being publicly shamed by Yelp, or even subjected to a lawsuit, if caught.

In such a scenario, there’s definitely an opportunity for the marketer to offer the necessary education to describe the risks involved in tying a brand to misleading practices, highlighting how vital it is to build trust within the local community. Fake positive reviews aren’t building anything real on which a company can stake its future. Ethical business owners will catch on when you explain this in honest terms and can then begin marketing themselves in smarter ways.

But then there’s the other side. Mike Blumenthal’s reporting on this has set a high bar in the industry, with coverage of developments like the largest review spam network he’d ever encountered. There’s simply no way to confuse organized, global review spam with a busy small business making a wrong, novice move. Real temptation resides in this scenario, because, as Blumenthal states:

“Review spam at this scale, unencumbered by any Google enforcement, calls into question every review that Google has. Fake business listings are bad, but businesses with 20, or 50, or 150 fake reviews are worse. They deceive the searcher and the buying public and they stain every real review, every honest business, and Google.”

When a platform like Google makes it easy to “get away with” deception, companies lacking ethics will take advantage of the opportunity. Beyond reporting review spam, one of the best things we can do as marketers is to offer ethical clients the education that helps them make honest choices. We can simply pose the question:

Is it better to fake your business’ success or to actually achieve success?

Local brands that choose to take the high road must avoid:

  • Any form of review incentives or spam
  • Review gating that filters consumers so that only happy ones leave reviews
  • Violations of the review guidelines specific to each review platform

Owner responses: creatively turning reviews into two-way conversations

Over the years, I’ve devoted abundant space in my column here at Moz to the fascinating topic of owner responses. I’ve highlighted the five types of Google My Business reviews and how to respond to them, I’ve diagrammed a real-world example of how a terrible owner response can make a bad situation even worse, and I’ve studied basic reputation management for better customer service and how to get unhappy customers to edit their negative reviews.

My key learnings from nearly two decades of examining reviews and responses are these:

  • Review responses are a critical form of customer service that can’t be ignored any more than business staff should ignore in-person customers asking for face-to-face help. Many reviewers expect responses.
  • The number of local business listings in every industry with zero owner responses on them is totally shocking.
  • Negative reviews, when fairly given, are a priceless form of free quality control for the brand. Customers directly tell the brand which problems need to be fixed to make them happy.
  • Many reviewers think of their reviews as living documents, and update them to reflect subsequent experiences.
  • Many reviewers are more than happy to give brands a second chance when a problem is resolved.
  • Positive reviews are conversations starters warmly inviting a response that further engages the customer and can convince them that the brand deserves repeat business.

Local brands and agencies can use software to automate updating a phone number or hours of operation. Software like Moz Local can be of real help in alerting you to new, incoming reviews across multiple platforms, or surfacing the top sentiment themes within your review corpus.

Tools free up resources to manage what can’t be automated: human creativity. It takes serious creative resources to spend time with review sentiment and respond to customers in a way that makes a brand stand out as responsive and worthy. It takes time to fully utilize the opportunities owner responses represent to impact goals all the way from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel.

I’ve never forgotten a piece Florian Huebner wrote for StreetFight documenting the neglected reviews of a major fast food chain and its subsequent increase in location closures and decrease in profits. No one was taking the time to sit down with the reviews, listen, fix problems customers were citing, or offer proofs of caring resolution via owner responses.

And all too often, when brands large and small do respond to reviews, they take a corporate-speak stance equivalent to “whistling past the graveyard” when addressing complaints. To keep the customer and to signal to the public that the brand deserves to be chosen, creative resources must be allocated to providing gutsy, honest owner responses. It’s easy to spot the difference:

whistlinggutsy.jpg

The response in yellow signals that the brand simply isn’t invested in customer retention. By contrast, the response in blue is a sample of what it takes to have a real conversation with a real person on the other side of the review text, in hopes of transforming one bad initial experience into a second chance, and hopefully, a lifetime of loyalty.

NAP and reviews: The 1–2 punch combo every local business must practice

Right now, there’s an employee at a local business or a staffer at an agency who is looking at the review corpus of a brand that’s struggling for rankings and profits. The set of reviews contains mixed sentiment, and no one is responding to either positive or negative customer experiences.

Maybe this is an issue that’s been brought up from time to time in company meetings, but it’s never made it to priority status. Decision-makers have felt that time and budget are better spent elsewhere.

Meanwhile, customers are quietly trickling away for lack of attention, leads are being missed, structural issues are being ignored…

If the employee or staffer I’m describing is you, my best advice is to make 2021 the year you make your strongest case for automating listing distribution and management with software so that creative resources can be dedicated to full reputation management.

Local SEO experts, your customers and clients, and Google, itself, are all indicating that location data + reviews are highly impactful and here to stay. In fact, history proves that this combination is deeply embedded in our entire approach to local commerce.

When traveling salesman Duncan Hines first published his 1935 review guide Adventures in Good Eating, he was developing what we think of today as local SEO. Here is my color-coded version of his review of the business that would one day become KFC. It should look strangely familiar to anyone who has ever tackled local business listings management:

duncanhines.jpg

No phone number on this “citation,” of course, but telephones were quite a luxury in 1935. Barring that element, this simple and historic review has the core earmarks of a modern local business listing. It has location data and review data; it’s the 1–2 punch combo every local business still needs to get right today. Without the NAP, the business can’t be found. Without the sentiment, the business gives little reason to be chosen.

From Duncan Hines to the digital age, there may be nothing new under the sun in marketing, but striking the right pose between listings and reputation management may be new news to your CEO, your teammates, or clients. So go for it — communicate this stuff, and good luck at your next big meeting!

Check out the new Moz Local plans that let you take care of location data distribution in seconds so that the balance of your focus can be on creatively caring for the customer.

New Moz Local Plans

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

How to effectively plan sprints for agile marketing teams

Being a little conservative on the commitment at first is better than constantly taking on too much work and not delivering.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

Demandbase launches Demandbase One

A new platform representing the integration of Demandbase and Engagio solutions.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

301 redirect: Google Webmasters Central to Google Search Central

Five years in the making, the Webmasters Central brand gets retired.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Concrete steps marketers should take now to get ready for CA’s CPRA in 2023

The California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act won’t take effect for two more years, but don’t wait to prepare.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

15 Amazing Blogging Insights Your Analytics Can Tell You

A blog is a critical component of your inbound marketing strategy — it’s the vehicle for driving traffic, generating leads, and establishing authority and trust… All in the early or middle stages of the buyer’s journey.

But how do you know if it’s working?

With all that content, traffic, and leads you’re generating, are you aware that you’re sitting on a gold mine of valuable data? Enter… Blog analytics.

In this post, we’ll cover:

By measuring performance based on data, you can identify what’s working, what’s not working, and why. 

Why Blog Analytics Matters

Let’s say a key stakeholder in your company comes to you with this question: “How is the blog contributing to our goals?” They want to craft the marketing budget and put their dollars toward the activities that make the most difference to the bottom line.

Responding to their question with “Trust me” will not sway that individual to continue celebrating and investing in content marketing. By gathering and analyzing blog data, you can get a pulse on your blog’s:

All of this data is leverage as you prove the ROI of the blog and improve the performance of your blog content. You just have to know how to use it!

Let’s dive deeper on this…

Blog Analytics Metrics and Insights

Let’s break down the individual blog metrics you should be tracking so you can start making incremental improvements and generate even more traffic and leads… based on data that’s right under your nose.

1. Organic Search Impressions

An “impression” is the number of times your post or page has been seen in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The higher your blog posts rank in the SERPs, the more visibility (and, as a result, traffic) your blog can earn through organic search. 

If you have a low number of impressions, your search presence may not be strong enough to get the organic traffic numbers you’re after, and it’s your job to then implement SEO best practices and create content around queries that people are searching for. 

2. Organic Clicks

It’s not enough to simply be present on the SERPs, which is what impression data measures. Your content must be compelling enough to compel the searcher to click. The more organic clicks your content earns, the more traffic your blog receives. 

If you’re finding that your clicks are low, first check your impressions. If impressions are low too, you must work on increasing your impressions.

On the other hand, your impressions could be lower if your content is targeting a low-volume query (i.e. you can’t change search behavior and make people search for something more).

However, if you’re finding that your SERP positions and impressions are high and your clicks are low, you may have to work on your title (blog headline) and meta-description to gain attention and earn more clicks. 

3. Organic Click-Through Rate

Comparing organic impressions to clicks can be hard, but that’s where organic click-through rate comes in. This metric is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click. 

The higher the percentage, the more bang you get for your impressions buck. You can even have posts that get little traffic (because of low keyword volume) that rank highly, get a lot of impressions, and earn a high share of clicks from those impressions. 

At the same time, you could rank lower for a high volume query yet still drive a lot of traffic with a low click-through rate. 

4. Total Views and Visits

A visit measures the number of times your website was seen by a user. Page views refer to the number of times a page was seen by a user. It’s important to keep in mind that there can be multiple page views for every visit since users can browse multiple pages in a single session. 

These overall metrics can tell you: 

  • Whether blog traffic is trending up or down
  • Average number of page views per visit (i.e. whether a user is engaging with multiple pieces of your content when they do visit)
  • Average views per post (how far your content goes on average) 

(And more…)

5. Individual Post Performance

The number of views for individual blog posts can give you more granular data about how your audience responds to the different topics you’re blogging about.

Do you notice that posts about certain topics aren’t doing as well as others? This is likely an indication that those topics aren’t as important to your audience. If this is the case, you might want to publish fewer posts on those topics and more on topics that truly resonate with your target audience.

Blog post views can also help you identify other patterns and cues in your blog content. Does a certain title structure work better than others? Do posts that are more pontificating generate a better reaction than how-to type posts? Use all of these insights to inform your future posts to increase the value of your blog and generate better results.

6. Traffic Referral Source

Your blog’s referral sources will tell you where (which sites) users are coming from and give you a sense of how people are finding your blog. Use this information to identify deficiencies in your blog’s visibility and to help diagnose why you may have low traffic to your blog.

Is the bulk of your traffic coming from social media sites per your heavy social media promotion but few visitors are coming in from organic search — or vice versa?

a chart in excel showing referral sources

Make sure you’re optimizing your blog content with the keywords your target audience is searching for so it gets found in search engines, and allocate some resources to promoting your blog on the sites your audience tends to populate.

Continue to track your referral sources as you ramp up promotion in certain channels so you can determine the ROI of leveraging one channel over another. A lot of focus on social media promo that yields few visitors might not be the best use of your time when another channel is a better driver of blog traffic, for example.

7.  Number of Inbound Links

Inbound links” refer to the links that your blog earns from other sites. Inbound links, or links from other websites and blogs pointing to your blog content, can indicate how authoritative your blog is.

Think of inbound links as votes of confidence. If someone thought your blog content was worth linking to within their own content, it’s a good indicator that content is an authoritative resource on the subject.

Inbound links can also show you how effectively your blog is contributing to your website’s overall SEO, since inbound links are one of the most powerful factors impacting search engine optimization. They can even help you generate blog traffic from the referring website and expose you to brand new audiences.

Individual inbound links will also help you identify some of your blog’s top content that you might consider using as fodder in social media updates, new blog posts, or ebooks.

8. Time on Page

“Time on page” measures how long a user stayed to engage with the content once arriving on the page. It can* be a good indicator of how engaging the content is to your blog visitors. The idea is that the longer they stay, the more time they took to read the information rather than skim and bounce away (more on that later). 

*However, take this metric with a grain of salt. Shorter posts take less time to read and, as a result, have shorter time on page averages. Also, if you take time in making your posts easy for the user to navigate and find what they’re looking for, you may get shorter times for this reason (and that’s okay!).

9. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate will tell you how frequently visitors leave your blog without visiting other pages on your blog. While this is a great indicator of the quality of your content and the stickiness of your blog overall, don’t be fooled by some implications of bounce rate. While you’d probably want visitors to stick around and read other articles on your blog, you probably wouldn’t consider it a bad thing if a visitor clicked on a CTA at the end of your post and headed over to one of your landing pages to fill out a lead-capture form, right?

That being said, if people are quickly leaving your blog for a completely different website, you’ll want to take some measures to increase the quality of your content.

To help decrease bounce rate, consider adding a sidebar widget to your blog that features your blog’s best-performing posts and switching up the homepage of your blog to show a preview of your 5 most recent posts rather than a full view of your most recent post. This will give visitors the ability to choose to read more posts that cater to their individual needs, enticing them to stick around.

10. Social Shares and Comments

social share buttons

Comments and social shares are good supplementary metrics to indicate the likeability of your content and the sentiment of your audience’s perception of it. In addition, comments and social shares can be a great way to identify strengths and weaknesses in your content and help you generate ideas for new content.

If you’re noticing few social shares of your content, make sure you have social sharing buttons installed on every blog article you publish. Be sure that you’re also spending time promoting on social media.

11. Subscriber Count

Your blog’s RSS subscriber and email subscriber count can indicate how much your blog’s stable community of readers is growing over time.

Visitors who subscribe will likely make up your blog’s solid readership, and it usually indicates your content’s true fan base. These readers are most likely to share your content with their own networks, expanding your blog’s reach, so you’ll want to do some work to build up your subscriber count and track its growth over time.

Make sure you display email and RSS subscribe buttons prominently near the top of your blog’s sidebar to encourage new visitors to subscribe to your content.

blog subscribers resized 600

12. CTA Click-Through Rate

A view on your blog post or a social share is not the end-all be-all. You actually want your blog to make a meaningful impact on revenue… and traffic is only part of that equation.

With that in mind, if no one is clicking through from your blog to your landing pages, you’ll never generate any leads. That’s where CTA click-through rate comes in.

CTA click-through rate measures the percentage of visitors who clicked on your blog’s CTA. 

The higher the CTR, the more effective your CTA is for the traffic your blog is currently generating.

But a low CTR could mean a few things:

  • The offer in your call-to-action isn’t compelling or relevant enough (blog readers are there for a reason, and the offer doesn’t meet their needs or excite them)
  • The CTA has not been placed in a prominent enough location for visibility
  • The CTA design just isn’t attractive or prominent enough to warrant a click (whether it be because of the aesthetic design, or ineffective button copy)

To improve your blog’s click-through rate, make sure the offer you’re presenting aligns with the content of your posts as closely as possible, uses compelling button copy that clearly demonstrates the value of the offer, creates a sense of urgency, and that the button utilizes an attention-grabbing design. Conducting some A/B tests is a great way to optimize for the best calls-to-action for your blog to improve click-through rate.

cta click through rate measurement in excel

13. Number of Leads

Obviously, the number of leads generated will tell you how effectively your blog is supporting lead generation. Is it trending up or down? Are they the right kind of leads?

To make sure you have your bases covered here, tell your readers what action you want them to take. Make sure that:

  • Every post you publish includes a call-to-action for a relevant offer
  • The homepage of your blog itself features your best-performing CTAs in its sidebar/top bar
  • You include anchor text links to landing pages within the text of your blog posts

Knowing the number of leads attributed to your blog can also help you diagnose other deficiencies in your blog’s performance.

14. Goal Conversion Rate

The goal conversion rate measures whether your blog readers completed the action you wanted them to (the goal) to convert from a visit to a lead. As opposed to the number of leads metric which tells you how much you’re generating leads for your business, conversion rate tells you how effectively you’re doing it.

Keep in mind that conversion rate is highly dependent on your existing traffic. So if you have low traffic but an amazing conversion rate, you might generate leads at the same rate as you would with high traffic but a low conversion rate. Coupled with the knowledge of your blog’s CTA click-through rate, you can gather some pretty awesome insights.

For example, if you have a high click-through rate but a low conversion rate, this means that while you’re getting visitors to click on your CTAs, they’re abandoning your landing pages before completing the form to convert into a lead. If this is the case, you likely have a conversion problem that can be due to a number of things: the messaging in your CTAs don’t align with the messaging on their landing pages or you could have a number of very landing page-specific problems. Start first with testing better alignment between your CTAs and their landing pages, and if that doesn’t do the trick, dive into landing page optimization testing.

15. Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate

Your blog’s lead-to-customer conversion rate will tell you how effectively the leads you generated from your blog turned into customers. This insight becomes valuable when you’re examining and comparing the effectiveness of your multiple marketing channels against each other. If your blog is one of your top customer-producing channels, it might make sense to allocate more time and human resources to it. If it’s not, the opposite might be a better approach.

Now, all of the above are fantastic metrics to measure the performance of your blog. But how do you get the data? Below are blog analytics tools that can help you gather and analyze blog data. 

1. Google Search Console

google search console blog analytics chart

Google Search Console is a free tool that helps website owners measure and analyze their presence on Google. Based on the data that is provided by Google themselves, you’ll be able to track: 

  • Organic impressions from Google
  • Number of clicks from Google
  • Click-through rate
  • Positioning (the ranking position on Google SERPs)

Google Search Console also provides the ability to segment based on individual pages, individual queries, countries, and devices. You’re also able to compare date ranges to show change over time.

The only thing you need to do to get access to this data is enable it is sign up and verify ownership of your site

2. SEMrush

rankings overview chart in semrush

Image Source

SEMrush is a third-party tool for measuring search presence and rankings. You can use it to track positioning changes over time, monitor your inbound link profile, and optimize content for SEO. 

What makes it different is that SEMrush goes beyond providing the data and into helping you uncover actionable insights. You’ll be able to do keyword research and uncover strategies to help your blog perform better, and you can also do competitive analysis to understand what your competitors’ search presence is like.

3. Arel=”noopener” target=”_blank” hrefs

backlink profile for blog analytics in arel=

Arel=”noopener” target=”_blank” hrefs is a similar tool to SEMrush for tracking search performance and performing keyword research and competitive analysis. With this all-in-one SEO tool, you’ll have access to keyword data, site auditing, and rank tracking. What makes Arel=”noopener” target=”_blank” hrefs special is its SERP feature tracking, helping you understand exactly what your users are seeing when they perform a particular query.

4. Google Analytics

google analytics chart for blog performance

Whereas Google Search Console helps you understand and measure your positioning and performance on the SERPs, before users get to your site, Google Analytics helps you understand what happens after they get to your site.

It’s a free tool. In order to implement Google Analytics, you must set up an account and implement the Tracking ID with a JavaScript tag. Once this tag is in your site’s code and functioning properly, it can then gather data about your site’s users from that point forward (i.e. no back data is available previous to the script being installed).

Google Analytics can help you understand: 

  • Audience – Who came to your site? Where are they located? What are their demographics? What device did they use?
  • Acquisition – Where did they come from? What referring sites sent them?
  • Behavior – Where did they land (which page or post)? What did they do once they got here? How long did they stay? How did they navigate the site? What page did they exit from?
  • Conversions – Did they do what you wanted them to? 

There are many metrics to look at within these larger buckets, and Google Analytics also provides ways to filter, segment, and compare various metrics. This can help you determine if you’re getting the right traffic, if that traffic is trending up or down, and if they’re navigating and converting how you want them to.

5. HubSpot

hubspot blog analytics graph showing event completions (conversions)

HubSpot is a CRM platform that also has marketing, CMS, sales, and service tools to help your business grow better. The advantage of using HubSpot for blogging is that you can monitor the performance of your posts and tie that data into CRM records, helping your team see all of their marketing interactions. This helps you be able to track the complete customer lifecycle from initial blog view to becoming a customer and beyond.

6. StoryChief

story chief blog analytics for social media engagement

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StoryChief is a tool for centralized content management ranging from publishing to blog analytics and content insights. Its analytics, reporting, and data management features help you analyze your data, track trends on top-performing content, and guide you to insights for creating buzz-worthy content. The edge it has over something like Google Analytics is its intuitive interface. (Fun fact: It also integrates with HubSpot.)

7. Tableau

Tableau is a data management software that can help you create data visualizations that can lead you to valuable insights. It works by integrating multiple sources of data and allowing you to drill-down, filter, and build graphs and dashboards to spot trends and forecast opportunities.

Whatever tools you decide to use as you focus on the metrics that matter to your blogging efforts, keep in mind that data alone is not enough to create an actionable strategy. It’s important to understand the context of the data and be able to interpret insights into the inbound marketing activities that will generate ROI.

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

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Google Page Experience Update to launch May 2021 with new labels in search results

Google will highlight search results that have a great page experience.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com