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25 Stats That Make the Case for Infographics in Your Marketing

When we think about visual marketing content, it’s easy to default to popular mediums like television, web video, and social media. It’s for good reason, too. These channels do a great job of grabbing your audience’s attention and getting them familiar with the visuals related to your brand.

But, there’s one type of visual marketing content that’s sometimes overlooked by marketing teams. It’s not as flashy as high-end influencer videos or Super Bowl commercials, but it’s one of the most effective and reliable forms of marketing content.

Infographics are an excellent marketing tool for educating customers and sharing information. They describe a product, service, dataset, or action in a visual way so that it’s easier to comprehend as the reader. Infographics have been used for marketing purposes since the 19th century and they continue to be an effective tool for marketers to this day.

Read on for some additional stats you should know about infographics this year.

Infographic Stats to Know in 2020

Marketing Efforts

  • 32% of marketers believe that visuals are the most important type of content that they’re business creates. (Social Media Examiner)
  • In 2019, 74% of marketing content contained a visual element. (Venngage)
  • 65% of brands use infographics for marketing purposes. (Xerox)
  • 56% of marketers use visuals in all of their marketing content. (Social Media Today)
  • Infographics can increase website traffic by up to 12%. (One Spot)
  • Infographics are the fourth most-used type of content marketing. (HubSpot)
  • In 2018, 69% of marketers said that visual content was either “very important” or “absolutely necessary.” (Venngage)

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Buyer Behavior

  • 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. (Infographic World)
  • On average, people will remember 65% of the information they see in a visual. Whereas they will only remember 10% of the information that they hear out loud. (Cognition)
  • Infographics are 30 times more likely to be read in their entirety than blog posts or news articles. (Digital Information World)
  • 65% of buyers are visual learners — meaning they absorb the most information when they look at an image, graphic, or video. (Pearson)
  • Web articles that contain images receive 94% more views than articles that don’t. (Jeff Bullas)
  • When directions are accompanied by visuals, readers are 323% more likely to complete the action described. (Springer)
  • Web content that includes images gets 650% more engagement than content that only includes text. (Webdam)
  • 84% of people who have used an infographic consider them to be useful. (Infographic World)

Sales Engagement

  • Infographics and other colorful visuals can increase sales by up to 80%. (Xerox)
  • Consumers tend to focus on “information-carrying images” like infographics more than they read the page’s text. (NN Group)
  • Buyers understand infographics better than they understand written instructions. (Springer)
  • The brain processes visual information 60 times faster than written information. (Content Factory 1)
  • Presentations with visual aides are 43% more persuasive. (MIS Research Center)
  • In 2018, 42% of marketing teams spent less than 10% of their budget on creating visual content. (Sproutworth)
Infographic-stats-sales

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Social Media

  • Infographics are liked and shared more than any other type of content on social media. (NN Group)
  • Facebook posts that include an image receive twice as much engagement than posts that don’t include an image. (BuzzSumo)
  • 74% of marketers include visuals when posting on social media. (Social Media Examiner)
  • Tweets that include visuals are 150% more likely to be retweeted. (Buffer)

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Using Infographics With Your Marketing Strategies

Infographics are used in a variety of marketing campaigns. You can use them to educate buyers about new products or services, or you can use them to enhance your marketing content by adding an eye-catching visual element.

You can also utilize them to explain how to use a product or service effectively. Adding visuals to your onboarding process can make it a lot easier for new customers to learn how to use your product or service — which can make a significant difference in customer satisfaction and retention. After all, your customers may be happy when they buy your product, but they won’t be thrilled for long if they can’t figure out how to use it.

If your looking to create you’re own infographics, learn how to create infographics with free PowerPoint templates.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

The Evolution of Content Marketing: How It's Changed and Where It's Going in the Next Decade

A sound content marketing strategy is one of the better ways a business can help shape its brand identity, garner interest from prospects, and retain an engaged audience. It lets you establish authority in your space, project legitimacy, and build trust between you and who you’re trying to reach.

As you can assume, it’s well worth understanding. But that’s easier said than done. Content marketing isn’t static. The landscape of the practice is constantly changing. It doesn’t look the same now as it did ten years ago, and in ten years it won’t look the same as it does now.

It’s a difficult topic to pin down — one with a fascinating past and an exciting future. Out of both genuine interest and forward-thinking practicality, it’s important to understand both where it’s been and where it’s going.

Here, we’ll get some perspective on both. We’re going to take a look at how content marketing has evolved in the past decade, and how it’s going to evolve in the next one.

How Content Marketing Evolved in the Past Decade

Google changed the game.

In 2011, Google conducted its landmark Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) study. It found that 88% of shoppers use what’s known as a Zero Moment of Truth — a discovery and awareness stage in a buying cycle where a consumer researches a product before buying it. Google’s research also indicated that word of mouth was a definitive factor in swaying that moment.

The study provides a unique point of reference in the context of content marketing’s evolution. It captures the essence of how and why businesses needed to focus on content marketing at the beginning of the 2010s.

It was tacit evidence that companies’ stories were being told online — well beyond the control of their marketing departments — and it was in their best interest to help shape those conversations.

The ZMOT study highlighted the need for sound Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ranking for relevant keywords on search engines became all but essential to bolstering a company’s online presence and holding up during consumers’ Zero Moments of Truth.

But that study wasn’t the only bombshell Google dropped in the early 2010s. Around the time the study came out, Google’s search ranking algorithm changed to discourage “keyword stuffing” — the practice of repetitively loading a webpage with specific keywords to try to sway search engine rankings.

The change represented what is still a continuous effort by Google to provide users with positive, helpful online experiences. And it did just that. The shift that set the stage for businesses to focus on producing more high-quality, meaningful content.

Social media rose.

But content marketing’s evolution wasn’t exclusively linked to search engines. Social media’s meteoric rise to prominence — one of the most disruptive trends in human history — also had a profound impact on the practice. As these platforms developed into mainstays of everyday life, they presented new challenges for content marketers.

As social media evolved, it popularized a different kind of content consumption than search engines. The difference boiled down to a matter of “pointed versus passive.”

Consumers use search engines to find content more pointedly. Generally speaking, when you use a search engine, you’re looking for a specific answer or a specific subject. Social media allowed users to consume content more passively on their preferred platforms. The content you see on your Facebook feed is finding its way to you — not the other way around.

That trend incentivized the creation of more shareable, attention-grabbing content that could easily be spread across social media channels.

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Video made a push.

Video also emerged as one of the prevailing content marketing mediums as the decade progressed, particularly among younger consumers. By 2017, over 50% of consumers wanted to see videos from brands they supported — more than any other kind of content.

How Content Marketing Evolved in the Past Decade video

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Video is inherently engaging. Generally speaking, it’s easier to follow than blog posts, email newsletters, or ebooks. Gradually, audiences took to it more and more as the decade progressed. By the end of the 2010s, platforms like YouTube were central to the landscape of content marketing.

Obviously, content marketing underwent several shifts in the 2010s, but as I said at the beginning of this article, the practice isn’t — and will never be — static. There are still plenty of changes to come.

How Content Marketing Will Evolve in the Next Decade

Video content will continue to rule.

As I just mentioned, video was emerging as one of the most — if not the most — important mediums for content marketing at the end of this past decade. There’s no indication that that trend is stopping anytime soon.

As of 2020, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool — up 24% from 2016. And 92% of marketers who use it consider it an important part of their marketing strategy. It’s already a staple in several companies’ content marketing operations, and research indicates that base is going to expand.

According to a survey by Wyzowl, 59% of marketers who weren’t using video in 2019 expected to be using it throughout 2020.

How Content Marketing Will Evolve in the Next Decade video

 

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All told, it looks like the exploration and expansion of video as the preeminent medium for content marketing is going to continue. The priority for marketers is going to be a matter of standing out.

That could mean emphasizing the quality of the content you produce — ensuring it’s enriching, well-crafted, and relevant to viewers. You could also try looking to emerging platforms like TikTok.

No matter how individual producers and companies manage to innovate when it comes to video marketing, the medium is going to be a mainstay in the evolution of content marketing going forward.

Adjusting for mobile will be essential and present new opportunities.

According to Statista, global mobile data traffic in 2022 will be seven times larger than it was in 2017. Mobile device usage is increasing astronomically, and it’s in every content marketer’s best interest to keep pace with that trend.

In 2019, 61% of Google searches took place on a mobile device, and that trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Having a website optimized for mobile devices will be central to successful SEO efforts. And a lot of the content you create will need to fit that bill as well.

Blogs should be easily navigable on smartphones. Readily accessible video content that your audience can watch on mobile devices will be a big help as well. Prospects and customers will need to be able to get as much out of your mobile resources as your desktop ones.

This shift towards mobile will also present new opportunities through emerging kinds of media. More novel mobile technology — like virtual and augmented reality — will have a very real place in the future of content marketing.

As people continue to rely more on their mobile devices, content marketers will have to as well.

Successful content will be more empathetic, purposeful, and customer-first.

Google’s ranking algorithm aims to prioritize the content that will mean the most to searchers. Ideally, by Google’s standards, the first ranking search result for any keyword is the one that best addresses whatever users are searching for. And in all likelihood, they’ll keep tinkering with their process in pursuit of that interest.

While there’s no telling exactly how the algorithm might change going forward, one fact remains — marketers need to focus on high-quality content that will register with consumers. That means understanding your audience and putting considerable effort into how to reach them best.

As HubSpot Senior Content Strategist Amanda Zantal-Wiener puts it, “Where I’m starting to see content turning a corner is in the area of empathy. In the years to come, marketers are going to start creating more content that’s truly created in the mindset of putting themselves in the shoes of others — be it their customers, prospects, partners, or someone else within their audiences. They’ll ask questions like, ‘What does my audience need from me right now? What can I create that’s truly going to help them?’ That’s going to become a requirement for marketers when they begin brainstorming content.”

Research, outreach, and community engagement will become even more important in the context of content creation. Content marketing is trending towards audience enrichment as opposed to product promotion. If this shifting tide holds true, content marketing will continue to become more targeted, purposeful, and customer-centric as the practice evolves.

If there’s anything to take away from understanding the previous and upcoming evolutions of content marketing it’s this — don’t get too comfortable. New trends and challenges are always emerging, and it will always be in your best interest to stay abreast of them.

And above all else, focus on consistently creating high-quality content that your audience will always be able to get something out of.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

So You've Got Your Topic, Now Here's How You Create Content That Can Rank

Have a topic for a post or other content? That’s a great start, but to reach your target audience on search engines, you have to know how to rank for that topic–which requires a lot of organization and research. Here are some tips for how to create content that ranks. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.marketingprofs.com

3 Creative Ways to Give Your Content Efforts a Boost — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

We know that content is our doorway to earning countless SEO benefits for our sites. Admittedly, though, it’s too easy to get stuck in a rut after one too many content marketing campaigns. 

In this 2017 holiday edition of Whitebeard Friday (see what we did there?), Rand offers three novel ways to add sparkle to your content creation efforts.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special Christmas edition of Whitebeard Friday. This week, I wanted to try and help with just a few tactical suggestions on some creative ways to pump up those content marketing campaigns.

I’ve seen that many, many folks in the SEO world, of course, naturally, are investing in content marketing because content is the path to links and amplification and search traffic. Sometimes those content campaigns can feel a little stale or repetitive. So I have some creative ideas, things that I’ve seen some people executing on that I think we might be able to leverage for some of our work.

1. Niche groups

First one, if you can identify in your community these sort of small but vocal niche groups that are . . . when I say your community, it doesn’t have to be people you already reach. It can be people inside the community of content generation and of topical interest around your subject matter. Then help them to amplify their voices or their causes or their pet projects, etc.

So I’ll use the example of being in the foodie and gourmand world. So here’s a bunch of foodies. But this particular tiny group is extremely passionate about food trucks, and, in particular, they really hate the laws that restrict food truck growth, that a lot of cities don’t allow food trucks to be in certain spaces. They have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get licensed. They are not permitted to be permanently in a place for a whole week. Whatever it is, whatever those legal restrictions are. So by serving this small group, you might think that content is way too niche.

The wonderful part is that content is the kind that gets amplified very loudly, very repetitively, that can help you earn links and traffic to this small community. If that community is small and loud and feels like their voices aren’t being heard elsewhere, you can build some great brand advocacy inside that group as well. By the way, I would urge you to be authentic, choose causes that you or your company also care about. Don’t just pick something at random.

2. Products and services

Second, if you can, try and seek out products and services that your audience uses or needs, but that doesn’t actually directly conflict with your business. Then create a resource that lists or rates or ranks and recommends those top choices. We’ve actually done this a few times at Moz. I have this recommended list of agency and consultant providers, but Moz does not compete with any of those. But it’s a helpful list. As a result of listing those folks and having this sort of process around it, many of those people are pumping up that content.

Now here’s another example. Foodie Moz, Foodie Moz sounds like a great domain. I should go register that right after this hat stops hitting me in the back of the head. I don’t know how Santa deals with that. So Foodie Moz presents the best cookbooks of 2017. Now, Foodie Moz might be in the food and recipe world. But it turns out, the wonderful part is cookbooks are something that is used by their audience but not directly conflicting with them.

Since it’s not self-promotional, but it is useful to your audience, the likelihood that you can earn links and amplification because you seem like a non-self-interested party is much greater. You’re providing value without asking anything in return. It’s not like anyone buying these cookbooks would help you. It’s not like you have some ulterior motive in ranking this one number one or that one number two. You’re merely putting together an unbiased set of resources that help your audience. That is a great way to get a piece of content to do well.

3. Content creators

Third, last but not least here, if you can, find content creators who have been very successful. You can recruit them, the people who have had hit pieces, to create content for your brand. In a lot of ways, this is like cheating. It’s almost like buying links, except instead of buying the links, you’re buying the time and energy of the person who creates content that you have high likelihood or high propensity for being successful in that content niche with what they create because of their past track record and the audience they’ve already built.

Pro-tip here. Journalists and media contributors, even contributors to online media, like a BuzzFeed or something like that, are great targets. Why? Well, because they’re usually poorly paid and they are desperate to build a portfolio of professional work. Some of these folks are insanely talented, and they already have networks of people who have liked their work in the past and have helped amplify them.

So if you can use a tool like BuzzSumo — that would be generally what I’d recommend, there’s a few others, but BuzzSumo is really great for this — you can search for, for example, recipes and see the most shared content in the recipe world in, say, the last three months. Then we can identify, “Oh, here we go. This person wrote the hardest recipe challenge gifts. Oh, all right. That did really, really well. I wonder if we can see who that is. Oh look, she does freelance work. I bet she can write for us.”

It’s like cheating. It’s a great hack. It’s a great to way to recruit someone who you know is likely to have a great shot at their work doing well, give them the freedom to write what they want, to create what they want, and then host it on your site. A great way to do content creation, for a decent price, that has a high likelihood of solid amplification.

All right, everyone, look forward to some of your thoughts and tactics. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas from all of us at Moz. For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, happy belated Hanukkah. I know that I’m filming this during Hanukkah, but it’s probably after Hanukkah that you’re seeing it. For those of you who are celebrating any other holiday this year, a very happy holiday season to you. We look forward to joining you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Sitecore announces headless CMS offering

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How To Design A Simple UI When You Have A Complex Solution

What is it they say? Complex problems require complex solutions? That is certainly true when developing apps and software.

But how do you ensure that the complex backend doesn’t trickle over to the frontend?

A complex UI, in general, is more than enough reason for many people to abandon a website or mobile app. When it comes to paying or subscribed users, though, don’t expect any of them to settle for your software’s complicated interface.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your product is. If the outward appearance of it drives your users crazy, you can expect large amounts of costly user churn in return.

The Flatfile team is very familiar with this problem, having built a successful data importer, which is a technology that many designers have struggled to build on their own. Below, we’re going to look at some of the tips that helped them overcome this UI design challenge and can help you, too.

How To Design A Simple UI For A Complex Solution

Your goal when designing the frontend of your solution is to present a very simple and intuitive interface to the user (and sometimes for their end users, too).

So, how was Flatfile able to accomplish this? The data onboarding process alone can be a complicated one — having to take data from a variety of sources, file types, and users and then translate it into usable data inside the app. Getting users to prepare, validate and sanitize their data on the frontend is no easy task either.

In addition to the standard software design process, Flatfile took additional steps to ensure that users never caught a whiff of how complex their product really was. Here’s what they learned:

1. Figure Out Your Users’ Goals So You Can Design A User-First UI

In order to build a product that users find useful, you have to design for their goals and from their perspective. If you lose sight of that, you could end up with a UI that prioritizes your goals and priorities, which allows the complexities from behind the scenes to shine through.

Let’s look at how this misstep can have serious ramifications for your app or software.

Instagram recently updated the header and footer of its long-standing interface. Here’s what the header looked like before and after November 2020:

The earlier design contains two symbols/actions:

  • The camera icon to take or upload photos.
  • The Messenger icon to chat with connections.

The most recent design has pivoted all icons to the right. There are three of them now:

  • The plus symbol to create Instagram posts, stories, reels and lives.
  • The heart symbol to view activity (i.e. post engagement, new followers, etc.).
  • The Messenger icon maintains the same design and placement.

Looking at the header, you might not think much is wrong here. However, Instagram likely didn’t redesign its navigation to improve aesthetics or usability. The new footer is proof of that:

Look at the middle and second-to-last icons. After November, the plus and heart icons were moved to the top-right corner of the app and replaced with the following:

  • A link to Instagram reels, a feature that acts similarly to TikTok (and arguably increases the addictiveness of the platform).
  • A link to Instagram shopping, a feature that enables users to shop from popular stores (not ones they actively follow).

The UI no longer (primarily) encourages users to curate content from their favorite accounts or to make organic connections with other users. Instead, the UI prioritizes the new pay-to-play aspects of the platform, favoring brands and influencers that spend money on it.

Consequently, the usability of the app has been compromised as the notification and creation buttons have moved out of the thumb zone and into a corner of the app. Not only does it make the app more challenging to use, but this further draws awareness to what’s going on behind the scenes. If Instagram users weren’t thinking about the complex algorithms and business decisions at work, the UI now calls attention to them.

Before you do anything else, figure out what your users want to accomplish as well as how they expect it to happen. Then, sum up your users’ goals similar to how Randy Wiafe, the Head of Product for Flatfile, does:

“The goal for Flatfile’s users is to smoothly import their customer’s data. Flatfile’s users need to move data from one software product to another and this process needs to be as easy as possible because it is one of the first product experiences that a new customer will have — importing their data.”

You can’t afford to lose sight of this. Because if you’re not designing a UI that’s in line with your users’ goals and their preferred journey, then you’re likely to reveal some of the complexity happening behind the scenes.

2. Evaluate The Competitions’ Products In Order To Create Your MVP

A minimum viable product is absolutely necessary any time you build an app. Not only do you save time and money by developing only the simplest version of the product to start, but a live and working beta gives you something to gather real user feedback from as you iterate.

That’s what Flatfile did. Wiafe explains the value of the MVP:

“The beta really opened our eyes in terms of how customers and their end users interact with the product. Being able to understand why and how users were getting blocked helped us improve the experience considerably.”

That said, how do you know how minimal to go with the UI of your MVP? Because there’s a huge difference between minimal and unusable.

Rather than start the design process from scratch, I’d recommend spending time inside the software from your competitors.

Obviously, I’m not advocating that you steal someone else’s designs. What I’m suggesting, however, is that you get some first-hand experience with them.

For starters, this will allow you to identify trends across the UIs — design trends that your prospects are already comfortable and confident engaging with. Secondly, you can use these demos to pare down your MPV to the absolute minimum needed.

Let’s pretend you’re building a payment gateway software. You might start with Stripe:

And 2Checkout:

I’ve stripped out all of the data from these dashboards and left only the main components, navigation and labels. What are the common threads we see between the two UIs?

  • A search bar near the center of the header,
  • A link to the user settings or account info in the top-right corner,
  • A left-aligned control panel that takes up between a ⅙ or a ⅕ of the page,
  • Data presented within self-contained blocks,
  • Neutral sans serif fonts used for labeling,
  • Color contrast is minimal and only exists in the dashboard to indicate selected tabs or to distinguish data sets.

That’s just a basic analysis, but you get the point. By stripping out the details and effectively turning your competitors’ products into wireframes, you can identify the design details that users would feel comfortable and confident in seeing within your software.

You can also use this time spent on their products to figure out where their complexity is showing through. Is the hierarchy of data presented illogical? Are there elements included that overcomplicate things because they appear on the wrong screens? Are you asking users to take one too many steps in reaching their primary objective?

One thing that Wiafe suggests is to not treat your MVP strictly like a wireframe:

“Another area of focus for us was how to make this experience feel good to our users. We didn’t want the beta to be cold and unexciting. We wanted to make a good first impression and that meant we needed to spend time giving the software some character before pushing it out.”

So, yes, you’ll use the competitors’ software to flesh out the design specs that will keep the UI simple. However, your MVP still needs to be a viable product that users want to use, which means designing it to be engaging.

3. Introduce Complexity Incrementally And Confirm With User Testing

Have you ever ordered food from a restaurant via a delivery app and wondered why it’s taking so long?

You place your order at 8 p.m. The app says the restaurant confirmed the order a few seconds later and you’ll have the food around 8:45. At 8:40, you open up the app to see where the delivery driver is on the map and you wonder why they’re not moving. Or, worse, why they’re heading in the wrong direction. Your stomach starts to grumble and you regret not picking up the order yourself.

If you’re not familiar with this, lucky you. But if you Google “delivery driver went in wrong direction on app”, you’ll see what I mean:

This is a new problem for people that dine out. In the past, all they’d get was an order confirmation message and then they’d receive a call, text or knock on the door when their food arrived.

But delivery apps have changed over the last year or so, providing full visibility not only into the restaurant’s progress cooking your food, but also showing you the exact whereabouts of the delivery driver.

Was this a feature that was absolutely integral to the success of delivery apps? If it’s infuriating users to the point where they’re experiencing high volumes of customer service complaints, order refunds or user churn, then no, it wasn’t.

This is why complexity should be introduced to your MVP little by little and only fully integrated once user testing confirms that it’s a worthwhile addition.

As Wiafe explains:

“Depending on the user of the product, introducing complexity to the product varies. With our Portal product, we work with developers more frequently so it wasn’t a problem increasing the complexity of the importer. However, Concierge was built for customer success and implementation teams, who tend to be less technically-minded. So we were very careful about adding any complex features or components to the software until we tested them.”

Understanding your users’ objectives and expectations is valuable when you’re first starting out. But don’t assume to understand everything that’s going through your users’ minds once you have a live app or software that’s out there.

Unless you’re in your users’ shoes, experiencing it exactly as they are, you really have no idea what new layers of complexity will do to the usability as they perceive it.

So, it’s incredibly important to formulate working hypotheses related to what will happen when you introduce more complexity to the UI or when you remove something you believe to be too complex. Once you have a data-backed idea, you can start soliciting feedback from your users and refining your product.

Wrapping Up

In order to build an app your customers will use, you have to actually give them something to work with and not something that requires them to contact customer support for help every week. Or that has them questioning why they’re using something that causes them more stress and frustration than before.

So, be careful about how much of the backend complexity you allow to infect the frontend. If the UI is too complicated to navigate or too convoluted to understand, users will revolt and flee en masse.

Reblogged 1 year ago from smashingmagazine.com

Corporate Image: Why Your Brand’s Public Perception Matters More Than Ever Now

In 2019, Contently, a content marketing software company that connects freelancers with enterprise brands, made a controversial move — in an effort to increase profitability and, in turn, provide more creative opportunities to their freelancers, the company announced that they’d begin charging freelancers a mandatory service fee for every assignment they book.

As you might already know, the response wasn’t great. Many freelancers messaged the company and explained the fee could hamper their earning potential, or even end their freelance careers.

Fortunately, the freelancers’ feedback didn’t go unnoticed or unrewarded. As a result of the honest feedback, Contently’s CEO Joe Coleman announced via Twitter that the company had decided not to implement the new service fee.

Contently’s realization that they weren’t prioritizing the needs of their customers ultimately helped save — and even enhance — their corporate image.

Here, let’s dive into what corporate image is, and why it matters. Plus, five ways you can bolster your own corporate image today.

What is corporate image?

Your company’s corporate image is your brand’s public perception. You can help shape it by telling the public what kind of company you are through marketing and advertising.

But what really sculpts your corporate image is your company’s actions, like performing well financially, developing innovative products and services, following ethical business practices, actually operating by your values, appropriately responding to company criticism, providing tremendous customer service, treating your employees with dignity and respect, and attracting elite talent.

All of these actions fuel the flywheel of your brand’s word-of-mouth marketing, which is the most effective and trusted form of marketing, especially when the internet has enabled every brand to scream for your audience’s attention today.

Developing a stellar corporate image also opens up more opportunities for customer testimonials, case studies, product reviews, and awards that can provide the social proof needed to earn new customers’ trust.

Why Corporate Image Is More Important Than Ever Before

Nowadays, most people support brands that share the same values as them.

In fact, brand values is often a critical factor in someone’s purchasing decision. For instance, 83% of millennials find it important to purchase from companies that align with their values.

Additionally, Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading global public relations firms, found that global executives, on average, attribute 63% of their company’s market value to their company’s overall reputation.

More than likely, you already know this on a quantitative level, as well. Consider, for instance, the last time you made a purchase on a product or service for which you could have found a cheaper alternative.

Perhaps you purchased a new iPhone, or splurged on that Patagonia jacket you’ve wanted for a while.

Ultimately, you likely made that purchasing decision, at least in part, due to the brand’s reputation and overall image.

That is why corporate image matters — it can influence whether consumers’ want to buy from you, and can increase brand loyalty when people feel your values align with their own.

Next, let’s dive into how you can boost your own corporate image.

How to Improve Corporate Image

1. Identify your company’s purpose.

If you truly want to build a loyal following for your brand and, in turn, strengthen your reputation, your company’s core message should focus on your purpose — not how you make your product or what your product is.

This notion, that people buy the “why” behind your organization — not the “what” or “how” — isn’t just some idealistic trend catching fire in the business world today, though. It’s actually rooted in human biology.

The most primal part of the brain is called the limbic system, and it controls all decision making. It also happens to control all our emotions and feelings. So, resonating with your audience will also appeal to the part of the brain that’s responsible for action. In other words, if you can evoke emotion, you can drive behavior.

Conveying a clear and convincing purpose through all your brand’s actions will forge the emotional connection required to persuade an audience to support you. And the more people who support you, the stronger your reputation will become.

2. Make sure you can walk the walk.

Sometimes, brands that want to reap the rewards of being a mission-driven company don’t actually adhere to the values they claim they’re so passionate about. But even though being aquasi-mission-driven company can attract new customers, once they uncover your hypocrisy, it’s almost impossible to retain them.

A Yale psychology study suggests that highlighting your morality is essentially a short-cut to high status. But if people realize you don’t actually possess the traits that shot you up the social ladder, they’ll lose trust in you and respond harshly to your deception.

Before you start boasting about your company’s dedication to putting the customer first, make sure your actions are actually aligned with these values, or that you have a plan in place to do so.

3. Own your mistakes.

Even the smartest brands make mistakes. But what separates the great companies from the good ones is their ability to admit that their wrong and change course in light of new information. Unfortunately, a lot of companies won’t admit their mistakes or change their minds, even if it’s the right choice, because they have too much pride or don’t want to seem weak.

However, admitting you’re wrong actually requires a lot more strength than sticking to something that hurts your customers just because you’ve invested a lot of time or effort into an initiative. By owning your mistake and correcting it — instead of blaming the issue on external factors — your customers will understand the rationale behind your decision and appreciate your honesty and humbleness.

Just like Contently, making a mistake that hurts you customers can spark harsh backlash and even start a trending Twitter hashtag that undermines your brand’s integrity. But, ultimately, you can still earn back your customers’ trust and support if you put your pride aside and own and correct your mistakes.

4. Offer the best customer service possible.

For many customers, one of the first interactions they’ll have with your brand is through a customer service representative — so customer service plays an undeniably critical role in corporate image.

Customer service representatives can demonstrate your company values in both their actions and words. For instance, consider Glossier’s customer service department (known as the gTEAM), who are responsible for responding to customer messages on social media and creating personalized experiences for each customer who reaches out.

This type of authentic, customer-first attitude is a small example of a bigger Glossier core value: “Devoted to the Customer”. Ultimately, each interaction your customer has with your company has the power to form their entire perception of your brand — and those customers will share both positive and negative feedback with friends. For this reason, customer service is a vital component to consider when improving corporate image.

5. Make sure your website and social media presence reflect your current corporate image.

Corporate images change over time. Just consider HubSpot’s Culture Code, which has been updated over 25 times since it was first created — while the values have stayed the same, the messaging has required adjustments to reflect HubSpot’s most up-to-date corporate image. 

As your organization grows, as consumer preferences and industries change, and as you learn more about what makes your customers happy, your priorities or vision might shift slightly. To reflect the most relevant, accurate version of your corporate image, then, it’s critical you maintain a strong social media and website presence.

Oftentimes, social media is the first opportunity people have to discover your brand — and they’ll likely make a snap judgment of your entire image as a result of a few images or videos at the top of your feed. So make them count.

Similarly, your website is your digital storefront. In much the same way you might repaint your house every few years and add fresh flowers to the pots outside, you’ll want to update your website regularly for freshness.

Take a look at your website and consider whether it truly reflects your current corporate image. If not, consider whether a complete redesign is necessary, or whether a few small tweaks could do the job.

Ultimately, creating a strong, positive corporate image can’t happen in a vacuum. You’ll need to align all aspects of your company — from marketing to sales and service and operations — under a strong vision and mission statement, and ensure leadership walks the walk when it comes to inspiring employees.

A strong corporate image will look different for each organization, but ultimately, corporate image can be the difference between a good company, and a great one. 

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

17 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for the Marketer in Your Life

The days remaining in 2020 are few, and 2021 is just around the corner — things you undoubtedly know already.

But here’s something you may have forgotten about: There’s not much time left to finish up your holiday shopping. (Gasp! We know.)

Maybe you’re a marketer looking to complete your wish list. Or, maybe you’ve got a team of marketers you want to make smile.

To help you out, I’ve searched the internet far and wide (it’s kind of what I do), and found you some of this year’s best gifts for marketers.

Without further ado …

17 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Marketers

1. Send a Starbucks eGift Card

Once upon a time, Starbucks offered a Tweet a Coffee program, which was retired after testing it in beta. I tried it for the first time earlier this season when Emily Maxie, B2B tech marketer at Very said something nice about our social media tool. I was really thrilled and just wanted to do something nice in return. Tweeting a coffee was an easy, hassle-free way to surprise co-marketing partners, customers, or others. Plus, it was almost instantaneous, so it was a savior for last-minute shoppers.

Although that program has been retired, there’s still a good alternative: Send a Starbucks eGift Card. Just add a personal message and the amount you’d like to give, enter an email address, and hit “send.”

Where to get it: Starbucks

Cost: Buyer’s choice

2. Blogging Fuel Mug

As comedic writer Dave Barry once explained, “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”

Not only is this mug a good way to keep your favorite marketer sufficiently caffeinated, but its message is also on point. Around here, at least, our marketers love creativity — but we also love precision. And, we love the written word. So when this mug came across our radar …

Source: Amazon

… we knew it had to make this list.

Where to get it: Amazon

Cost: $14.95 + $4.95 shipping

3. “Eat. Sleep. Blog.” T-Shirt

This is a pretty great gig we all have. Sure, there are seemingly unattainable lead goals and endless writing deadlines. But think about it for a moment: Every day, we get to get up and figure out how to capture people’s fascination. It’s an amazing job.

This shirt summarizes that sentiment nicely.

Source: Amazon

Oh, and it’s really comfortable for blogging.

Where to get it: Amazon

Cost: $17.39

4. HubSpot Fleece-Lined Winter Hat

We’re not sure how the weather looks in your neck of the woods, but around the holiday season, it starts to get cold where HubSpot is headquartered, in Boston.

It’s sweater weather. Hat weather. Fleece-lined hat weather, to be specific.

Luckily, HubSpot has a hat for that.

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And while you’re at it, check out these other last-minute gifts from the HubSpot Shop:

Where to get it: HubSpot Shop

Cost: $15

5. “But First, Coffee.” T-Shirt

It’s best to wear your priorities on your sleeve … er … torso. This cozy T-shirt puts your working style out in the open. In fact, it may double as a signal for the best way to bribe you for extra work.

Don’t work in a jeans-friendly office? Nothing a blazer and nice pants can’t fix (she writes as if she has actual fashion sense).

Where to get it: Skreened

Cost: $29.99

6. Mophie Smartphone Case

A few years ago, a group of HubSpotters got these cases while working long hours at the INBOUND. But they’re not just any cases — they’re Mophie smartphone cases.

Mophie is a smartphone cover that also doubles as extra battery life.

Source: Mophie

They’re a little clunkier than the standard phone case, but they can extend your phone’s life by 100% or more. If you know a marketer who is often working on the road.

Where to get it: Mophie

Cost: About $100, depending on variety

7. Book Cover Laptop Case

Rumor has it writer Jorge Louis Borges used to sleep surrounded by books. He’d crawl into bed with stacks of them on either side. His last scent before sleep would be that of open pages and intricately worded lines.

Source: Twelve South

This isn’t quite as poetic, but it’s close.

This laptop cover would be a good fit for the bookworm on your team.

Where to get it: TwelveSouth

Cost: About $80

8. Subscription to a Streaming Music Service

Okay, so music may not make you smarter, but it does make you happier. And isn’t delight what we’re really after here?

Many marketers already listen to streaming music while they work, but without a subscription, that streaming music is typically limited or interrupted by commercials.

Buying your marketing friend a subscription to a streaming music can get rid of all the commercial interruptions and just leave them with good working music. We’re inbound marketers — thus, we hate commercial interruptions.

Here are a few options:

9. @TwitterName Necklace

It might be a bit excessive, but it’s also kind of awesome. Here’s a gift for the social media strategist who has single-handedly grown your company’s Twitter following from 15 to 500 and beyond.

Source: Etsy

If jewelry isn’t the right gift, there are also a range of social media coasters.

Where to get it: Etsy

Cost: $43.99

10. 1Password

Welcome to secure accounts on the internet. Your password must be 15 characters long with at least two capital letters, three symbols, two numbers, and at least one variation of the Jabberwocky poem.

Nope, that won’t work. And it can’t be the same as any password you’ve used since junior high school.

If you could spare the marketer in your life this frustration, wouldn’t it be a happier new year? Take a look at the 1Password app. It will create and store all of your passwords securely and enable you to log into your accounts with one click.

Where to get it: 1Password

Cost: Plans start at $2.99/month

11. 99U Essays: Manage Your Day-to-Day

One of my favorite books, this collection of essays from 99U, focuses on how to develop a habit of creativity in your work and personal life. It gives you tips on how to put your creative work first and fend off a stream of endless emails, texts, and other interruptions.

Source: 99U

With an average 4.4-star rating on Amazon, this book offers concrete ideas for getting more out of your daily routine and finding the right moments for creative, complex work.

Where to get it: Amazon

Cost: $10.99

12. Freelancer Tools From WriterAccess or Zerys

While they don’t do gift cards, you could help a freelancer’s life easier with tools from WriterAccess of Zerys. Create a gift certificate yourself and wrap it up in a bow: Good for one day of reprieve from creating content.

Where to get it: Zerys or Writer Access

Cost: Varies

13. Premium Versions of Productivity Apps

Marketers use all sorts of freemium tools to organize their time and plan campaigns. Find out what online apps your marketer uses to make his or her day-to-day easier with access to all the bells and whistles for a year.

Here’s a breakdown of some popular ones:

  • Evernote: Evernote is a repository for just about anything: ideas, articles, documents, photos, marketing examples. You can use the tool on your phone, desktop, and tablet, so it goes where you go. The big benefit of Evernote is how searchable it is. You can search documents or even the words in a picture to quickly retrieve your content again. The premium version gets you more storage, better search, and an interesting presentation mode. Cost: $69.99/year
  • Dropbox or Box: We all could use a little space. Help your marketer out by upgrading their Dropbox or Box accounts to a pro version. Cost: Varies
  • Feedly Pro: When Google Reader closed its doors, Feedly was widely adopted as the replacement RSS reader. Feedly Pro is a more powerful version of Feedly with one-click integrations, custom sharing URLs, and full support. Cost: Plans start at $5.41/month

14. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Can you really put a price on peace and quiet? Turns out, Bose can: At a minimum, it’s about $180. Yikes.

But if you can get over the price, this is an amazing gift for anyone who needs to focus throughout the day. Noise-cancelling headphones put your marketers in their own cozy and uninterrupted lead-generating world.

Whether they listen to Mozart or Modest Mouse, these headphones give marketers a chance to block out everything but the work ahead of them.

Where to get them: Bose

Cost: Models start at $179.95

15. Class Reimbursement

For intellectually curious marketers, think about giving them the combo-gift of classes plus the time to learn a new skill.

There are a number of low-cost and free online classes and tutorials out there for people looking to code (Codecademy), design (Skillshare), or acquire other relevant skills. The trouble is finding the time.

If you really want to thrill a marketer on your team this season, give them the classes plus an approved block of time each week to dedicate to the lessons. Wrap it up in one package.

Where to get it: Check out Code Academy and Skillshare, plus your local continuing ed classes. Then, help your favorite marketer figure out how to make the class time possible.

Cost: Varies

16. INBOUND Ticket

Surprise! It’s not too early to buy tickets for INBOUND 2021.

INBOUND is an industry event like no other. Of course, I would say that, because as a HubSpotter, it is the center of my life in August and September. But as it turns out, others think so, too.

Darby Tinch of Mohawk Home said, “This was by far the best conference I’ve attended in a very long time. Not only was it the recharge I needed professionally but also on a personal level. It has been a long time since I’ve been this excited about my career. I cannot wait until [the next] INBOUND!”

Where to get it: INBOUND

Cost: Digital pass on sale right now for $49 (typically $149)

17. Donation in the Marketer’s Name or Honor

If none of the above seems like a fit, consider a donation in your marketer’s name or honor. Donations are a personal thing, so be sure you have a sense of the issues your marketer cares about. But once you do, a gift in his or her honor can be really meaningful.

Where to get it: Because the donation should reflect the gift recipient and there are so many nonprofits we care about here at HubSpot, I’m going to leave the door open here and not make any specific suggestions. Talk to the gift recipient and see what they care most about.

Cost: Whatever amount you see fit.

There’s your starter list. There are dozens more ideas out there: subscriptions to magazines or journals, lunch from a local restaurant, or a plethora of other gift certificates anyone would love.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Fake reviews: How to combat a growing online problem

30-second summary:

  • Reviews are critical for both merchants and consumers. That’s especially true right now, as holiday shoppers look to reviews to help make decisions about which TVs, wireless earbuds, home security systems or air fryers to buy.
  • Many consumers will probably encounter inauthentic or illegitimate reviews without knowing it. Fake reviews exist on all the major platforms; it’s really just a question of degree. And it’s a growing problem.
  • Trafficking in fake reviews is a bad idea for many reasons, including platform suspensions and blacklisting. But consumer trust is arguably the most important reason to not try and game the system.
  • Assuming the business is not generating fake reviews for itself, recognizing and removing them can be a challenge. Sophisticated reputation management software tools can help spot fake reviews or monitor incoming reviews in real-time for easier detection.
  • Online reputation is a long game. Reviews aren’t just about rankings. They can help businesses improve products, services, and operations. Businesses that listen to their customers (and care) will have greater loyalty and better referrals over the long term.

Reviews are critical for both merchants and consumers. That’s especially true right now, as holiday shoppers look to reviews to help make decisions about which TVs, wireless earbuds, home security systems, or air fryers to buy. 

But many consumers will probably encounter inauthentic or illegitimate reviews without knowing it. Fake reviews exist on all the major platforms, it’s really just a question of degree. And it’s a growing problem. 

In this article, I’ll discuss what’s at stake with fake reviews, the types of inauthentic reviews, how to recognize them, and how to get them removed.  

The scale of the problem

Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon take different approaches to content moderation and review fraud. Yelp has probably been the most aggressive of the major sites in keeping review fraud down. But Google, Amazon, and the others frequently say they’re actively addressing the problem as well — with varying degrees of success.

Review fraud is an especially big problem on Amazon. Separate studies performed by Objection.co, Fakespot, and The Washington Post have determined that a majority of reviews in certain product categories are deceptive or inauthentic. Objection.co has indicated, for example, that the vast majority of Bluetooth-enabled products in the electronics category are fake in some way. And Fakespot found that reviews for 63% of products in the beauty category on Amazon are illegitimate.

Amazon disputes these findings and contends it’s dealing with the problem. Fake reviews are also a problem on Google, where thousands of Local Guide profiles are controlled by “review farms,” according to Objection.co’s findings.

Review fraud is something of a cat and mouse game, in which shady but increasingly sophisticated fraudsters try to stay one step ahead of platform algorithms. The reasons fake reviews are proliferating are obvious. Reviews impact rankings on Google and Amazon and more than 90% of consumers rely on them to make purchase decisions.

Yet more consumers are starting to notice fake reviews online. According to a 2019 survey, 82% of respondents said they had read at least one fake review in the past year. (Consumers often don’t recognize them.) And the same study found consumers are increasingly turning to multiple review sites before making a buying decision, as a kind of hedge against review fraud.

Types of fake reviews

We often speak about fake reviews as a uniform phenomenon. Yet there’s a spectrum and multiple categories of inauthentic or fake reviews:

  • Business owners who generate reviews for themselves, directly or indirectly
  • Employees who write positive reviews for their employers and ex-employees that write retaliatory reviews of a former employer
  • Customers who lie or exaggerate a bad experience to get a refund or some other compensation
  • Friends and family who write positive or negative reviews on behalf of a business
  • Businesses that pay for reviews or offer some sort of quid pro quo in exchange
  • Global vendors that sell positive and negative reviews to businesses around the world

Many fake review vendors operate offshore in China, India, Bangladesh, or the Philippines. However, according to Objection. co, the most common kind of review fraud is perpetrated by a business owner using a fake profile to write positive reviews about themselves or negative reviews of a competitor. 

Trafficking in fake reviews is a bad idea for many reasons, including platform suspensions and blacklisting. But consumer trust is arguably the most important reason to not try and game the system. According to a global consumer survey released earlier this year by Bazaarvoice, fake reviews can cause a loss of trust in the brand or merchant. A majority of consumers (54%) say they won’t buy the product if they suspect reviews are fake.

Being called out by the platforms – Yelp in particular – can also be harsh. The company’s consumer alerts can remain on business profiles for months, depending on the infraction. That can be the kiss of death for a local business.

Recognizing and removing fake reviews

Assuming the business is not generating fake reviews for itself, recognizing and removing them can be a challenge. Sophisticated reputation management software tools can help spot fake reviews or monitor incoming reviews in real-time for easier detection.

Manual fake-review spotting is more challenging. But some of the things to look for include reviewers not present in the customer database, profiles or names that seem fake, geographically distributed reviews, references that indicate the review is aimed at the wrong business, review content that is “generic” or without much detail, and stars without comments (on Google). There are other signals as well.

Each of the platforms has somewhat different procedures to address questionable reviews and request removal:

 Following these procedures doesn’t always work, however. On Google, in particular, the review(s) in question must violate one of its content policies, which include “spam and fake content.” In addition, Google will remove reviews if they’re written by a non-customer, if they’re directed at the wrong business, or if the review is not based on an actual customer experience (for example, political objection to the business).

It’s generally best to respond to the review publicly and point out the mistake or error (for example, wrong business location) without emotion. If it’s a competitor writing a negative review, politely point out that you don’t recall them as a customer. Then you need to locate and flag the review as “inappropriate” in the Google My Business dashboard. Local SEOs also recommend notifying @GoogleMyBiz on Twitter.   

In the best-case scenario, it can take several days for reviews to be removed by Google if they agree the review was inappropriate. However, there are also instances where it can take much longer, 20 days in one example.

Online reputation is a long game. Reviews aren’t just about rankings. They can help businesses improve products, services, and operations. Businesses that listen to their customers (and care) will have greater loyalty and better referrals over the long term. It doesn’t pay to try and game the system by generating or buying fake reviews.

If the business has an active review management program in place and regular reviews coming in, any isolated review spam probably won’t have a meaningful impact. And any demonstrably fake reviews should be easily identified – and ultimately removed.

Norman Rohr is SVP Marketing & Communications at Uberall.

The post Fake reviews: How to combat a growing online problem appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com