What Is Quora? A Marketer’s Guide to the Most Underrated Platform of 2018

Part of a social media manager’s job is to filter through which platforms are or aren’t relevant to their industry — or, more importantly, their audience. But there’s more to choose from than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Believe it or not, Quora is one such platform you might want to add to your marketing portfolio.

What Is Quora?

Quora entered the social marketplace about eight years ago, and it has since become a website worthy of a marketer’s attention. This question-and-answer platform allows users to ask, answer, and even edit the responses to questions related to virtually any topic or industry.

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A handful of unique features for this website make it compelling to marketers:

  • Follow users — and be followed
  • Answer questions relevant to your industry
  • Display personal and professional titles above your answers
  • Reap SEO benefits for your business over the long term
  • Access new audiences via Quora emails
  • Use links in your answers to bring traffic to your website

How to Use Quora for Marketing

Follow Users on Quora

Quora emulates a feature of Twitter and LinkedIn in that it has a follow feature. This follow feature allows users to connect with readers, colleagues, and other businesses so that they can associate with people who contribute to similar conversations. Users on Quora can ask or answer questions while following questions and people to create a stream of information aligned with their audience’s interests.

When first signing up for Quora, you can start by following your connections from Facebook and Twitter. This allows you to connect and nurture your relationship with those you already know you’ll want to answer questions for. It also helps you understand what your core customers and readers are most interested in learning about.

Answer Questions Around Your Industry

Quora shares features with other popular social applications, so what makes Quora unique? Two main elements: design and community. Quora’s forum-like design makes for a positive user experience in that it focuses its users entirely on specific questions and answers, rather than broad trending topics that brands can’t easily participate in.

In other words, whereas social networks like Twitter and Facebook focus primarily on the user, Quora is designed to focus on the question. In doing so, all Quora users “play by the same rules,” so to speak. This ultimately helps business users carry over their subject-matter expertise and extend that expertise to more audiences.

Display Professional Titles to Establish Authority

In addition to design, Quora’s community provides rich and relevant answers to the things people are searching for and talking about. This ensures that the focus of the website will always depend on and cater to the interests of each user and their followers.

Opposite what you might think, this open-dialogue community doesn’t produce as much subjective or inaccurate information as you’d think. Each user’s answer competes with the answers other users post under the same question. The answer’s relevance therefore depends on how many views and upvotes it receives by the Quora community.

This competition among answers encourages only the most knowledgeable users to participate. For this reason, many of them display their professional titles and business affiliations as an added sign of trust in their response. Quora also allows you to publish photo headshots, reinforcing its commitment to real, human answers — with a hint of networking potential for the employee answering the question. See how this looks in the Quora question below.

Question on Quora asking What virtual reality is, answered by man with professional title

The expertise of the people who are answering questions on Quora is truly impressive and only adds to the value of using the platform.

Use Quora as a Boost of SEO for Your Business

You’d think because Quora answers can be posted for free by anyone, Google wouldn’t rank these answers all that highly. On the contrary, Quora answers do quite well in search engine rankings because Quora is designed to rank its best answers by how much its users trust them.

In other words, Quora has done all the work for Google already — all you have to do is write an answer that users view and trust the most, and you can give your business some great exposure on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

Keep in mind that Quora answers are automatically given “nofollow” tags, which prevent search engines like Google from ranking website links inside your Quora answer any differently just because the Quora post itself might appear high up in a search result. For this reason, you should still invest plenty of time into your website’s on-page SEO — the search engine optimization given to your own webpages, as opposed to the tactics used elsewhere, like Quora.

Access New Audiences via Quora Emails

Just because you have a limited amount of email subscribers to your emails doesn’t mean you can’t get some brand recognition in Quora Digest …

Quora Digest emails typically consist of 10 answers to questions the recipient would likely want to see. Recipients can receive these emails as often as multiple times per week or as infrequently as once a month. It all depends on how much time the user spends on Quora.

Although the content of Quora Digest emails is generated automatically by Quora, marketers can still win a spot in these emails by answering questions that rank highly on Quora. The more questions you answer, the more authority you’ll build. This increases your answers’ rankings and, ultimately, puts you in a Quora Digest.

The best part? These Quora emails go right to users who are interested in the topics you’re answering questions on. You get direct exposure to the people who fit your buyer persona without any of the heavy lifting involved in adding them to an email list.

Use Links in Your Answers to Bring Traffic to Your Website

Many businesses use Quora not just to connect with potential customers and build authority on a subject, but to gain website traffic, too.

When looking for questions to answer on Quora, consider if you already have webpages or blog posts that answer the question a user is asking. If so, take an excerpt from your blog post and use it to build your answer in Quora. When you’re done, link out to your blog or website content as an invitation for users to learn more about the subject. See what this looks like in the Quora question below.

Answer to Quora question with a link to author's website for more info

It’s unclear how effective this tactic is when done at length, so be careful how much you rely on Quora for blog or website traffic. Ultimately, you want most of your information to live in one place, that place should be your website.

As you can see, there are several clear benefits to Quora. For one, it caters to specific subject matters. You can pick your own expertise areas and then stay there as your chief engagement. If your business or expertise is in foreign currency exchange, for example, you can write for a dedicated category of questions where you can relay your leadership and help answer questions for your followers.

And yes, that very field has its own category of questions on Quora where people want to learn more about currency exchange. Check it out below.

Group of Quora questions about foreign currency exchange

Then, as a marketer, you can consider the people who are asking questions or engaging in discussion with you as your potential leads.

If you see someone is asking for help picking a good foreign exchange broker, or how to know if someone is a good adviser, don’t be afraid to mention your services and include the URL to your website when answering their question.

You can also use Quora to do research on what you should blog about. Any good answer is going to be more than a paragraph, and could be used as the basis for your newest blog post. This is a great way to do keyword research and get a sense of what the keyword phrases and description that your potential leads really use, and see what they don’t understand or should know about your business.

If someone is asking a fundamental question about your industry, think about writing a blog post to reply and then linking them in your answer to the blog post. You can bring them to your website, show them your calls-to-action, and present them with an offer all while answering their question.

Have you started using Quora yet for your business?

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What Happened When I Tried (And Failed) to Quit Instagram

My name is Amanda, and I’m addicted to Instagram.

Hi, Amanda.

The thing is, I have an issue with Likes. As is the case with many other Instagram users, I get a small sense of glee when people Like my posts. But jealousy eventually started creeping in. “Why does this friend of mine like our mutual friend’s photo, but not mine?”

Juvenile: Yes. Uncommon: No.

I thought it could be solved by turning off notifications, but alas — that only led to checking the app more often. So, one Saturday night, I decided that it was time to quit cold turkey: to deactivate my account, delete the app from my phone, and call it quits with Instagram for good.

Spoiler alert: I failed, miserably.

But it turns out that there’s some science behind my failed attempt to quit Instagram — and that I’m not alone in breaking up with the app, only to come back to it. Here’s what happened when I tried to quit, and why those efforts may have been doomed from the start.

What Happened When I Tried to Quit Instagram

It seems as though there’s an app for everything, especially when it comes to social media. Of course, there are the networks themselves, but there also exists myriad apps to manage your presence on them: to schedule posts, Like posts in bulk, and even see when someone has unfollowed you.

It was an app for that last part that got me into trouble. On top of my existing Like mania, it turns out that seeing who had unfollowed me on Instagram didn’t exactly instill positive feelings.

When I shared one particular freak-out-inducing unfollow with my friend, she asked me two pointed questions: “Has this app ever made you feel good? Or does it just make you feel sad and anxious?”

Yikes. That question didn’t just apply to the unfollower-count app — it also applied to Instagram itself.

And so, I quit. For about 72 hours.

At first, it felt quite liberating and validating. My iPhone’s Screen Time report quickly noticed the decrease in time spent on the site, even during a condensed period, which made me feel like I had made the right decision. In fact, Instagram wasn’t even ranked within my top five most-used apps anymore. Yippee!

IMG_3588

But it wasn’t long before my fear of missing out (FOMO), as the phrase goes, started to kick in. I missed seeing what my friends were up to, despite the absence of Instagram spurring me to actually check in with messages like, “How’s your weekend going?” My parents missed seeing the flood of pictures of my dog that I would usually post. And most of all, I missed sharing these visual moments from my life.

So, this morning, I reinstalled the app.

It wasn’t long for Instagram to top the list of my most-used apps on my Screen Time report. What a difference three days makes — check out today’s report, compared to the one above:

IMG_3589

So, why is it so hard to quit Instagram? Just how addicting are social media apps — and are they designed to be that way? And how many people have also made similar efforts, only to fail just as spectacularly as I did?

The Psychology of Instagram

I’m not the only one asking these questions. Academic researchers have turned them into full-blown studies, showing a variety of conclusions.

But among the most interesting research outcomes, many experts have found that there is an addictive quality to social media apps — Instagram, in particular.

Take this article from Harvard University about the connection between dopamine production and social media notifications. Dopamine, the story explains, “is a chemical produced by our brains that … gets released when we take a bite of delicious food [when] when we have successful social interactions.” In other words, it’s a chemical that makes us experience a sense of reward.

Figure1

Source: Harvard University 

But should we engage in these reward-inducing behaviors enough, explains the articles author, Harvard Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology research technician Trevor Haynes, we begin to become addicted to them, and expect a sense of reward when we perform them. And one of those behaviors, it turns out, is checking social media.

Figure2

Source: Harvard University 

The way that psychobiology plays out with something like Instagram, is that when you open the app, you expect to see notifications that your content has been liked or otherwise engaged with. We become accustomed to being rewarded for the behavior of opening the app, and therefore, addicted to doing so.

But when we open the app only to find no notifications, the sensation might be similar to biting into a piece of food that’s unexpectedly repulsive, or telling a joke for a crowd that completely falls flat.

Image-1

Are Social Media Apps Designed to Be Addictive?

Okay, so maybe apps like Instagram play a big role in these dopamine triggers — but are social apps actually designed to be addictive? We asked 833 internet users across the U.S., UK, and Canada if they think so.

Do you think social media apps are designed to be addictive_

Over half of the respondents indicated that social media apps are not only addictive — but that they are, in fact, designed to be that way.

There may be some truth behind that public perception. According to a “60 Minutes” interview with technologist and neuroscientist Ramsay Brown, Instagram will sometimes withhold notifications of Likes and comments for a prolonged period of time, only to release them in a bulk at once.

That pattern of notification withholding-and-bursting encourages users to check the app more frequently, suggests Haynes.

“Your dopamine centers have been primed by those initial negative outcomes to respond robustly to the sudden influx of social appraisal,” he writes, which “takes advantage of our dopamine-driven desire for social validation, and it optimizes the balance of negative and positive feedback signals until we’ve become habitual users.”

So maybe that’s why it’s so hard to quit. To find out if I was alone in my challenge to stay away from Instagram for good, I ran another survey of 832 internet users across the U.S., UK, and Canada, asking: Have you ever tried to quit using Instagram?

Have you ever tried to quit using Instagram_ (1)

Interestingly, about 40% of respondents indicated that they had never used Instagram in the first place.

Have you ever tried to quit using Instagram_ (2)

When adjusting for that, just under half of the remaining 500 participants said that they had never bothered trying to quit using Instagram — or considered it — in the first place. And while these results alone can’t say for certain, it’s possible that this reluctance to quit the app altogether could be due to its aforementioned addictive nature.

Can the Phone-Checking Crisis Really Be Resolved?

It’s an interesting dichotomy — that such a considerable portion of people can both believe that social media apps are designed to be addictive, but at the same time, not want to quit using them.

We’ve discussed a similar phenomenon when examining the reluctance of many Facebook users, for example, declining to leave the site or delete their accounts despite the company’s many privacy-related crises. Why is it, I asked, that people continue to stick with social media networks, despite the various risks involved?

“My personal opinion is that people are making mental tradeoffs. It’s a primary connection point to family members, to news, to society at large,” HubSpot VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson said at the time. “And for now, there is no viable replacement to that. The trade off I’d argue people are making is the very real value of that connection point, versus the not-yet-personally-actualized threat to privacy or security of data.”

So on Instagram, it could be that the tradeoff comes in the form of sharing visual snippets of our lives with friends, family, colleagues and strangers — and being able to observe those moments of theirs, along with brands we follow, in return — versus the “threat” of addiction-like repercussions.

Of course, social networks and tech companies allege that they are responding in kind. There’s Apple’s aforementioned Screen Time reports, and both Facebook and Instagram have said that they’ll “soon” rollout tools to help users manage their time spent on both apps — though it seems that no one has seen or been able to use those features just yet.

new-tools-to-manage-your-time

Source: Facebook

As for how effective these tools will be — we’ll have to wait to find out. But in the meantime, this entire phenomenon may serve as an opportunity for marketers and content creators.

There are ways, for example, to encourage audiences to both engage with your brand on social media, while also enjoying life offline; for example, asking users to post a photo or video of themselves using your product or service in an offline setting, or sharing content that shows how your brand helps them spend more time doing what they love.

But if you’ll excuse me — I have some analog time of my own to attend to.

6 Tips for Writing Compelling Bullet Points

Bullet points are arguably the most versatile tool in a writer’s arsenal. They break up your writing, making it easier to digest. And by drawing more attention to your ideas, they can also inspire action.

Whether you’re writing landing page copy that aims to convert visitors into contacts, or a work report that aims to persuade your team lead to pursue your proposed strategy, crafting compelling bullet points is crucial for making your ideas easier to understand and encouraging your desired action. Here are six ways you can do that.

6 Tips for Writing Compelling Bullet Points

1. Keep them brief.

The more unnecessary words your trim from your bullet points, the easier they are to understand. Concise writing is lean. And readers can zip through it with little effort. To sharpen your bullet points, follow the three writing tips below:

  • Avoid linking verb phrases like, “Justin was writing about his cross-country trip.” “Justin wrote about his cross-country trip,” sounds more forceful. Linking verbs have a passive effect, which is why they can’t pack much of a punch.
  • Change prepositional phrases like, “The decision of the executive team was final,” to “The executive team’s decision was final.” Prepositional phrases make sentences longer and harder to follow.
  • Reduce verb phrases like “The results are suggestive to the fact that on-page SEO still works.” to simple verb phrases like “The results suggest that on-page SEO still works.” The latter sounds much smoother.

2. Start your bullet points with a verb.

To hook your audience and persuade them to keep reading, your bullet points’ first word needs to immediately capture their attention. Starting a bullet point with a verb, which reveals the most information about your bullet point, can instantly pull an audience into your writing.

For example, which of the following bullet points immediately grabs your attention?

If we distribute blog content through Facebook Messenger, we can:

  • Leverage a distribution channel with high-engagement rates and rely less on email.

Or

If we distribute blog content through Facebook Messenger:

  • We can leverage a distribution channel with high engagement rates and rely less on email.

Even though there’s only a slight difference between the two bullet points, the one that starts with a verb can engage an audience quicker and prompt them to read the rest of the bullet points.

3. Keep them consistent.

Keeping your bullet points consistent makes it easy for your readers to fall down the page and easily digest its information. To do this, stick to the same number of lines per bullet point, start each bullet point with the same type of speech, like a verb, and maintain the same grammatical form.

For instance, consider the two examples below. One keeps its bullet points consistent and the other one doesn’t.

Pivoting to an organic-only blogging strategy will:

  • Boost our blog’s short-term traffic.
  • Sustain our blog’s long-term traffic.
  • Build our website’s domain authority.

Pivoting to an organic-only blogging strategy will:

  • Boost our blog’s short-term traffic.
  • Sustain our blog’s long-term traffic.
  • Finally, we’ll be able to build our website’s domain authority.

The second example has incongruent bullet points. It throws the reader off and confuses them, increasing the likelihood that they’ll disengage with the writing.

4. Use bullet points in the right place.

Bullet points give your audience a refreshing break from blocks of text, but if you make your copy or report look like a shopping list, they’ll want a break from your bullet points.

To effectively engage and persuade your audience with bullet points, use them in moderation — highlight essential information and list items that would look jumbled if you wrote them in paragraph form.

5. Lead with the benefits.

There’s a copywriting adage that goes “features tell and benefits sell”. And it’s a timeless truism that can be applied to any form of writing. Why? Because a list of features doesn’t specify how your audience will directly benefit from your product or ideas. Highlighting the benefits can help your audience visualize a better future, one that includes your product or fleshed out ideas in their lives.

For instance, a job ad that describes how you can “Arrive and leave work comfortably, thanks to a heated garage,” will resonate with candidates more than a job ad that states the company has a “Heated parking garage.”

6. Sell a feeling.

Psychology tells us that emotions drive our behavior, while logic justifies our actions after the fact. Marketing confirms this theory — humans associate the same personality traits with brands as they do with people. Choosing between two alternatives is like choosing your best friend or significant other. We go with the option that makes us feel something.

This is also the reason why pitching a product’s features is a lousy attempt at persuasion. Features only appeal to the logical part of your brain, which we know doesn’t drive action nearly as well as appealing to the emotional part of your brain does.

So if you’re writing social media copy for the grand opening of your new sporting goods store, don’t write a bullet point about the number of gloves you have in stock. Write a bullet point about the lasting family memories your customers will make playing catch with their kids — they’ll never forget those moments.

We Launched 3 Podcasts in 3 Years: Here’s What We Learned

Several years ago we launched The Growth Show because we fell in love with audio as a way to inform, inspire, and engage an audience. There was something special about the medium, something immersive but also adaptable to the busy lives that people lead. Podcasts fit into our commutes, our workouts, our in-between times in a way that other formats just can’t.

We were not alone in this love for the medium. A few mile-marker facts: Nearly 1 in four americans, roughly 68 million people are listening to podcasts on a monthly basis. Outside of the United States podcasts are being consumed at similarly a rapid rate. The average podcast listener skews younger with 44% of podcast listeners being millennials (18-34) and 33% being Gen Xers (35-54).

That means there are over 52 million people in the US in the early-to-prime portions of their careers listening to podcasts. The podcast audience tends to have a higher education level with over 57% having a bachelor’s degree or above.

We launched 3 different podcasts, with 3 totally different approaches.

So if you want to start a podcast, good news is the water’s warm. There’s a strong and growing appetite for audio content. But what sort of podcast should you start? That question is a little harder.

The answer is highly dependent on what you want the podcast to achieve for your audience and company — and most people aren’t exactly sure. Plus podcast analytics are a little behind the times still so you get less insight into what’s actually resonating in a show. Over the last three years we used three very different approaches to better understand the role that podcasting would play in our company. Here’s what we found.

The Editorial Podcast

Our vehicle: The Growth Show (New season comes out today!)

Goal: Brand

Purpose: Use storytelling and guest selection to advance HubSpot’s point of view.

In 2015 we launched our first podcast, The Growth Show. It started as a straight interview show with business leaders we respected and morphed into what it is today: a blended editorial podcast on unique approaches to growth.

Over the years, The Growth Show has garnered over 1.5 million downloads, been featured on iTunes New & Noteworthy, and consistently named a top business podcast. We have had unforgettable guests such as Alec Baldwin, Julie Zhuo Vice President of Product Design at Facebook, Jonah Peretti founder of Buzzfeed, and Kristen Kish a winner of Top Chef. And there have been no shortage of pivots and lessons along the way.

What’s special to me about The Growth Show — beyond the fact that I host it — is that it has become a platform for us to use storytelling to highlight a different kind of business growth.

HubSpot has long espoused the idea that to make a legacy impact, it’s not enough for your company to just grow bigger, you have to find a way — and make the sacrifices — to grow better. You have to pursue the sort of growth that hitches your success directly to the success of your customers.

The Growth Show is a platform for us to tell that uncommon growth story. Season three, which goes live TODAY, is all about companies that relied heavily on the advocacy and loyalty of their customers to fuel their growth.

The Mass-Appeal Podcast

Our vehicle: Weird Work

Goal: Reach

Purpose: Develop a mass-appeal podcast to bring entire new new audiences into the fold

In 2017, we added to our podcast docket with the launch of the very quirky Weird Work. (You can read more about Weird Work in my post Why We’re Starting a New Podcast That Has (Almost) Nothing To Do With Our Company).

The question we were pursuing was whether developing a mass-appeal show that had little to do with our core brand would help us tap into new audiences and create an opportunity for us to reach those audiences through sponsorship spots or related content.

With Weird Work, we tried our first attempt at monetizing a podcast by running HubSpot sponsor ads amid the content. We kept the ad relevant. Because the concept of the show often involved people making major career shifts to follow a (weird) passion, we ran ads for HubSpot Academy in the hopes that listeners interested in career pivots would also get value out of professional development classes.

We gave listeners a special URL, and set our expectations conservatively. We were hoping to get 100 visits to HubSpot Academy off the podcast. We ended up with 245 for the season. Nothing to hang the business on, but a sign that podcast listeners will take action on an ad.

The Tactical Podcast

Our Vehicle: Skill Up

Goal: Search Traffic

Purpose: Prepare for an uptick of Google search as a driver of podcast discovery.

Google has been leaning into audio content lately in its quest to organize the world’s information. It has a new partnership with PRX International to remove barriers for people wanting to start podcasts, it introduced a new podcast app on android phones, and is on a mission to automatically transcribe podcasts and surface them in search results.

Seeing this sea change of opportunity in what has historically been the toughest nut to crack in podcasting — discoverability — we launched a new podcast this summer geared toward a common search query in our industry: SEO. Millions of people search Google every day looking for how-to advice, and for a number of them, audio may be the better format for that advice. The very tactical, Skill Up podcast is an attempt to be the answer those people seek.

So, where are we now?

Well, today we release our the third season of The Growth Show. Each week beginning October 17th we will be releasing an episode that explores the inspiring stories behind how people grow a business, an idea, or a movement. Scattered in between our normal weekly releases we are going to create short episodes that focus on hyper specific topics and trending news stories. I’ll leave you with a teaser and then I’ll hopefully find my way to your eardrums as a result.

A few of the upcoming episodes:

  • How Glossier is creating the future of brands with its customers
  • I turned down $30 Million from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank
  • How Spartan’s Joe De Sena Fueled a Movement
  • Finding confidence in Founding ClassPass
  • What MoonPie can teach you about social media marketing

This is where I encourage you to subscribe to The Growth Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. And you think: “Meghan, I know how podcasts work.” You’re right. You’re right, but I had to say it.

Here’s something you might not know. If you have a smart speaker like an Amazon Alexa or Google Home, you can also listen just by saying, “Play the podcast: The Growth Show”

Thank you all for those who do tune in to any of our podcast and to those of you who have shared our shows with a friend or left a review. We’re all figuring out this evolving podcast world together and I truly truly appreciate the support.

How We Topped Product Hunt (Overnight)

Nothing summons the old imposter syndrome monster quite like the moments before a big project launch. All at once, you begin to question every decision you’ve made along the way — from the name of the project down to the comma placements.

For me, these nervous feelings are still fresh. Back in August, my team and I released a totally revamped version of our buyer persona tool, Make My Persona.

We’d been hard at work on the project for months and were all in agreement that it’d shaped up to be something uniquely valuable — something different than we’d worked on before. Nonetheless, I proceeded with caution as I began green lighting the promotion plans we’d put together.Create a customizable buyer persona in minutes using our free Make My Persona  tool.

Email? Check. Social media? Check. Blog post? Check.

The feedback started to roll in almost instantly … and it was positive. 

Users loved the tool. And that’s when I knew it was time to spread the word a little further. So I pulled up Product Hunt, spun up the tool details, and set it free for the community to have at it. I gave the listing a courtesy upvote from myself and closed my laptop. It has been a long few months — and even a longer few days.

What happened next? Something special.

Make My Persona: The #1 Product of the Day

The great thing about having team members in Dublin is that they are up and at it hours before we’ve had our coffee here at HubSpot headquarters in Cambridge, MA. This means I often wake up to surprises from the designers and developers I work with — from updated wireframes to development progress to reimagined solutions for project blockers.

Though, I can confidently say that the Friday morning after our launch brought about my favorite surprise yet: A Slack message from my colleague claiming that Make My Persona had been featured as the #1 “Product of the Day” on Product Hunt.

I rushed to the site to confirm and was delighted to see that my single upvote had grown into nearly 200 upvotes overnight. We were topping the charts and new upvotes were being tacked on by the minute. 

Product Hunt Make My Persona

In an attempt to understand exactly how we landed ourselves in this situation, I started reading articles from other teams that had seen success on Product Hunt. From what I could gather, this wasn’t something that was supposed to happen by accident. People had calculated plans. They’d researched the best time and date for launching. They’d done their homework.

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t as strategic about the launch as I could have been. I’d launched a couple of lead generation tools on Product Hunt in the past, but our strategy still needed refining. I was learning. Though, the listing did check a lot of the launch “best practices” suggested by Product Hunt:

  • We had a great explainer video heading up the gallery 

  • An animated thumbnail 

  • Quality screenshots of the tool’s experience 

  • A clear and concise description 

  • Links from features around the web 


Product Hunt Listing

But I also missed a lot of opportunities:

  • I hunted the tool myself 

  • I didn’t have all of our Makers in order before launching 

  • I failed to have one of the Makers post a comment to invite feedback 

  • I didn’t arrange any reviews 

  • I asked no one to upvote it — in fact, I didn’t even tell anyone I’d posted it yet 


Suddenly, I could feel the imposter syndrome monster bubbling up again. Did we deserve this recognition? Was this a mistake?

I silenced that internal dialogue quickly. Of course we deserved this. This tool was unique, helpful, and visually stunning. I was proud of it for a lot of different reasons, so I decided to focus on that instead. And after tracing back the steps we’d taken to get here, it became clear why we’d been so successful. Allow me to explain …

The Hidden Success Ingredient: Over-Investing in the User Experience

We had a kickoff for the project back in May where we drew up this list of improvements we wanted to make to the existing tool:

  • Offer a solution for everyone
  • Reduce friction in the conversion process

  • Make the experience more engaging

  • Encourage collaboration and customization

  • Make the avatars more diverse to better represent all people


We referred to this bulleted list as our “rebuild objectives” and they all had one thing in common: they solved for the user. That was the hidden success ingredient. It suddenly felt so obvious. People were upvoting this tool because it was simple and engaging and entirely free. We over-invested in making it the best it could be for the end user and it was starting to show.

Here’s how each of those rebuild objectives shook out within the tool itself:

Offering a solution for everyone.

Two Conversion Paths

Make My Persona was a tool that we launched several years ago and made the decision to update this year. When we took a look at the tool’s organic performance, we found it was ranking for a variety of buyer persona-related terms — from “what is a persona” to “buyer persona templates.” To ensure we met the needs of everyone that discovered the tool, regardless of their intent, we split the tool into two parts: 

  • Path #1: This conversion path was designed to help those who were just getting started with personas. Here we provided a brief intro to what a persona is, followed by a beginner’s guide to walk them through how to conduct persona research.
  • Path #2: This was the main conversion path that walked visitors through the creation of an actual persona. Visitors that chose this path would have already completed their persona research and be ready to document it. 

Reducing friction in the conversion process. 

Make My Persona Slider

Persona creation requires a lot of information. And in most cases, the more detail you can provide – the better. With that in mind, we set out to balance the need for context with the even greater need for a simplified user flow.

To do that, we combined similar questions to form seven steps. In each step, we incorporated sliders and dropdown menus to help users input information faster, with less typing.

We also introduced a CTA that allows a user to skip the step-by-step process entirely and head straight to the editable template for an all-in-one view.

As a result, the new version of the gives users the freedom and flexibility to input information and work through the creation process on their terms, without restrictions or roadblocks. 

Making the experience more engaging.

Make My Persona Experience

There are a ton of lovable “micro-moments” throughout the tool that are intended to make the experience more engaging – and more human. 

For example, your avatar reacts to your inputs in the walkthrough mode (giving a thumbs up, winking, etc.) and confetti falls from the screen to help you celebrate when you complete your persona. 

All of these gamified elements create an experience that is fun for the user, encouraging them to continue through to the next step.

Encouraging collaboration and customization.

Make My Persona Experience

Buyer persona creation isn’t always a one person job. And persona documents are not one size fits all. With these two things in mind, we introduced shareable links that users can send along to their colleagues to make edits to the persona and collaborate on the positioning.

This shareable link creates a copy of the master persona to ensure nothing gets deleted, while still providing the flexibility for others to rework the persona data.

To provide greater control over the actual look and feel of the document, we made the persona editor full customizable: users can drag, drop, resize, and reorder the modules to ensure the information that’s most important to them is front and center. They can also adjust the color scheme to align with their branding.

Making the avatars more diverse to better represent all people.

Make My Persona Avatars

The stock photo selection within the old tool was not a good look. There was only one-person of color represented – and an uneven amount of men and women.

In the 2018 version, we made the conscious decision to remove gender from the equation by introducing avatars that represent people – plain and simple. We also aimed to include a variety of skin tones, hair types, and age identifiers. While these were small acts of inclusion, they went a long way in terms of ensuring that everyone felt represented.

The Results: What Happens When You Top Product Hunt

At this point, you’re probably ready for me to skip ahead to the numbers. What impact does getting featured in the #1 slot have on the performance of your project?

Well, the Product Hunt win helped to shape our numbers in a few different ways:

Our upvotes skyrocketed. Being featured on the Product Hunt homepage = visibility. As a result, we ended the day we got featured with 600+ upvotes, though that number continued to grow over the next few days as we remained on the homepage. We also saw a second wave of upvotes from an inclusion in the daily digest email that followed. As it stands, the tool has 1.3K+ upvotes, making it the most successful HubSpot Product Hunt launch in history. 


Product Hunt Upvotes

We saw a big increase in traffic. All said and done, we generated roughly 10K views from Product Hunt. Again, these numbers climbed steadily days after being featured thanks to continued homepage visibility and subsequent emails. We also saw an uptick in traffic from social media, as the listing spawned a lot of love on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. 



We generated some leads. While the conversion rate from the traffic was nothing to write home about, we did pull in some leads from Product Hunt. Note: Because these people likely stumbled upon the tool on the homepage without searching for any terms, there’s no guarantee they actually have a need for it. We’re keeping this in mind as we evaluate the quality of those leads and expect that those who find us through a deliberate search in the future will have more intent. 

We got a lot of shout outs. As I mentioned before, the uptick in traffic from the feature earned us recognition via the Product Hunt email and on social media. But there were a few other unexpected surprises. For example, the tool was also picked up by InVision’s design inspiration extension, Muz.li. This extension curates content from hundreds of sources, including Product Hunt, which is where I suspect we got on its radar. This brought in another 7K+ views. 

Make My Persona Muzli by Invision

Setting the Flywheel in Motion

If you think about these wins in relation to the flywheel, it all adds up.

By investing in the delight stage — the overall user experience of the tool — we were able to build enough momentum to set the rest of the flywheel in motion.

Flywheel

Delighted users shared and upvoted the tool 

Those shares and upvotes helped us attract a larger audience

 Drawing in a larger audience gave us more people to engage and convert

So while we enjoyed basking in the our fifteen minutes of Product Hunt fame, we’re excited to watch this tool continue to build momentum. If you haven’t already checked out it out, you can give it a spin here

 
Make My Persona

Make My Persona

19 of the Best Examples of Mobile Website Design

Now more than ever, businesses are focusing on creating delightful mobile website experiences.

After all, Google has been heavily favoring mobile-friendly websites since 2015 when it updated its ranking algorithm in April 2015, and then started indexing mobile sites in March 2018.

And that’s crucial, seeing as there have been more Google search queries on smartphones than on desktop computers and tablets for over a year now.

Going forward, Google will only continue to raise the bar for what it considers to be mobile-friendly (including page load time) and reflect that in its algorithm updates. So if you haven’t been focusing on improving your mobile experience, you’d better prioritize it now, or your search ranking could really suffer. Additionally, HubSpot Research found that half of US consumers are going online on their phones more than on their computers or tablets. Click here to download a free, 5-part kit to help you grow your mobile  audience.

To help inspire any mobile website design changes you’ll be making, here’s a list of 19 companies who really nailed their mobile web experience.

1. Shutterfly

Shutterfly is an online service that allows users to create photo books, personalized cards and stationary, and more. Because more and more people are taking photos and then accessing them using their smartphones, Shutterfly recognized the need to create a great mobile experience for their customers — and they delivered.

Shutterfly accomplishes two key goals on their mobile website:

  • It’s easy for users to find out information about their offerings.
  • They’re selling that information by way of beautiful imagery.

When you arrive on their mobile site, you’ll see Shutterfly’s latest promotion front and center, as well as a large finger-sized sign-in button for returning members — neither of which overpower the user experience.

shutterfly-mobile-website

Scroll down, and users will see large buttons that make it easy for users to quickly select which type of product they’re interested in. Once users click through to one of those options, they’re greeted with large photos showcasing what Shutterfly is capable of for easy browsing.

shutterfly-mobile-website-2

2. Google Maps

Everyone has their favorite map or directions application. Mine is Google Maps, which I use whether I’m walking, driving, biking, or taking public transportation. What’s special about their mobile website is that it’s virtually indistinguishable from their downloadable mobile app.

The screenshots below are taken of their mobile website, but if you’re familiar at all with the app, you’ll notice they look exactly the same. Not only is the appearance identical, but the mobile website has the speed and functionality of the app.

google-maps-mobile-site-1.png

google-maps-mobile-site-2.png

3. Typeform

Typeform is a Barcelona-based tech company with one simple mission: to “make forms awesome.” Their desktop website is really beautifully designed, greeting visitors with succinct copy, high-definition videos, relevant animations, and other, more complex design components.

But for mobile users, they recognized that complex design components like video and animations could significantly affect page load time, among other difficulties. That’s why they actually removed many of them — which decluttered the site and simplified the overall mobile experience. The mobile website is a simpler version of their desktop website, and it’s still beautifully designed.

typeform-mobile-website

Take note of the large buttons on their menu page — perfect for tapping with your finger on a mobile screen.

typeform-mobile-website-2

4. Etsy

Etsy is an ecommerce website where people can buy and sell vintage or handmade items. Most buyers who visit Etsy’s website are there to do one of two things: Either they’re searching for a specific item, or they’re browsing items in categories that interest them.

The mobile website caters to both types of visitors from the very beginning. When you first go to their mobile website, you’re greeted with an option to search for specific items, shops, or categories.

etsy-mobile-site-1.png

Immediately below the search bar are thumbnail images of trending items that showcase some of the most popular things you can buy on Etsy. Mobile users can view these trending items in a collage format, and the images are big enough for them to easily tap with their finger.

etsy-mobile-site-2.png

5. Adrian Zumbrunnen

This is the personal website of Adrian Zumbrunnen, a UX designer, writer, and speaker. When you visit his website, you’ll notice right away there’s something very unique about it: It’s a conversational website.

It almost looks like a text message conversation you’d normally have on your phone — including the ellipsis to show he’s “typing.” Users are given two response options at the end of every exchange, so it’s kind of like a “choose-your-own-adventure” experience.

While the mobile and desktop experience are very similar, the desktop website feels like it was made primarily for mobile — which could be the direction sites will go in the future.

adrian-zumbrunnen.gif

And if you’d prefer not to engage in the conversation-like exchange, you can simply scroll down for details.

zumbrunnen-mobile-site.jpg

6. Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is, relatively speaking, a fairly new Christmas tradition based on a children’s book. If you’re unfamiliar, the basic premise is this: The book tells the story of Santa’s scout elves, who are sent by Santa to watch over children in their homes all over the world and report back to Santa.

Along with the book, parents can purchase an elf figurine, which they’ll subtly place somewhere in their house where their kids can see it. Every night leading up to Christmas, parents move the elf to a different location around their house to “prove” to their kids that the scout elves are real and always looking over them.

When you first arrive on Elf on the Shelf’s website, you’ll see there are actually numerous types of Elf on the Shelf products you can purchase. But instead of forcing users to scroll through each product individually, the web designers package each product into a large, enticing tile describing the goal of each buyer’s journey, with the featured item displayed on the front.

You’re not buying your own elf or pup — you’re adopting it. It’s a truly empowering experience on such a small screen.

elf-on-the-shelf-mobile-website

7. BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is a news company known for it’s viral content and popular quizzes. It also happens to be one of my favorite sources of entertainment during my commute to and from work.

And where do you think I’m checking BuzzFeed during my commute? You guessed it: on my phone. BuzzFeed knows that a lot of their visitors are visiting their site on mobile, so they’ve taken great care to create a smooth experience for their on-the-go readers.

When you arrive at BuzzFeed’s mobile website, the first thing you’ll see is some of their most popular pieces of content displayed in a simple, collage-like format using large images that are easy to tap with your finger.

buzzfeed-mobile-site-1.png

For users interested in specific categories, there’s a clickable menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen that lists out all the post categories.

buzzfeed-mobile-site-2.png

8. Evernote

Evernote is an application that allows you to store notes, images, and web articles and then access them across all your devices. Because users tend to download the app or access the website on multiple devices including desktop computer, smartphone, and tablets, it’s essential that Evernote get the mobile experience right.

If you look at Evernote’s homepage on your desktop computer, you’ll notice how clean the design is. The value statements are short and to-the-point, and the graphics add to the brand’s positioning but don’t clutter the page.

evernote-mobile-website-2

When you look at Evernote’s mobile website, you can see they’ve kept their color palate and general brand style entirely intact. The company’s mobile website is clean, simple, and doesn’t detract at all from the value of the app. Evernote’s conversion path is obvious from the centered call-to-action: “Sign up for free.”

evernote-mobile-website

9. Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is a well-known news outlet that reports from everything from politics and current events to entertainment and technology. What makes their mobile website unique is that they actually alter their headlines slightly for mobile users so their content is more easily scannable.

If you compare the desktop versus mobile websites, you’ll notice that the mobile website has fewer words on the homepage. The headlines are shorter and much more digestible — perfect for someone skimming or reading on a small screen.

huffington-post-mobile-website

As with BuzzFeed, you’ll find a clickable menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen listing out all the post categories.

huffington-post-mobile-website-2

10. Express

Express is a clothing store that caters to young men and women. Because their audience often comes to their website to browse clothing, it’s important for their website to include big, clear images of their clothing — especially on mobile devices, when users will need to tap items on the screen with their fingers to click through for purchase information.

Express takes their mobile experience a step further than most online retail sites. If you slide your finger from left to right across an image showing a piece of clothing, the image will change so you can see the clothing in a different view. In other words, users don’t have to load another page to see multiple pictures of the same article of clothing.

Look at the image on the top right in the following two images to see how it changes when you swipe to one side:

express-mobile-website-designexpress-mobile-website-design-2

11. Nationwide Insurance

Nationwide Insurance provides insurance and financial services. You might think a financial company would have a really complicated website, but on mobile, Nationwide Insurance nails down the simple user experience.

When you arrive on Nationwide’s mobile site, you’ll see two tabs at the top allowing you to identify as one of two types of users right away to customize your experience: Personal or Business. Or, alternatively, you can “Find an Agent” or “Find an financial advisor” to learn more information about their services.

Although limiting the experience to these two options excludes Nationwide’s more in-depth features, it makes for a much easier experience for visitors using small screens. This is a great technique to lead potential customers in the right direction if they’re not yet account-holders and are visiting the website for the first time.

nationwide-mobile-website

12. Squaredot

Squaredot is an agency based in Dublin, Ireland that helps marketers build out their inbound marketing strategies. Their mobile website is colorful, simple, and makes for easy navigating.

What sticks out to me most is the visually pleasing color combinations and three-dimensional texture to their homepage — as well as the large clickable dots at the center of each section you can scroll to.

squaredot-mobile-website

These dots are animated call-to-action buttons, and the tapping the ones below the home screen will produce a pop-out page with more information on Squaredot’s approach to marketing.

squaredot-mobile-website-2

13. Zappos

Zappos is an online vendor for shoes and clothing known for their stellar customer service. Their top priority on mobile is to help users search easily for the items they’re looking for on their website, so they’ve put a large search bar at both the top and bottom of their mobile website to make it super easy for them.

This is what the top of their mobile site looks like:

zappos-mobile-site-1.png

14. ABC

ABC is a television broadcasting company known for popular shows like “The Bachelorette,” “The Rookie,” and “General Hospital.” Users visiting ABC’s desktop website are greeted with these options and more. View the network’s television schedule, check out the most recent Emmy winners, watch some of your favorite television shows, or even look at entertainment news relating to those shows.

But because nearly every household today is a multi-screen household, ABC knows its experience on a mobile device should be both simple and ready for viewing.

When you visit the ABC website on a mobile device, you’ll see a dark background for a theatre-like experience with tiles for each program you might want to stream. Users can scan through these options and click into any show they want based on genre, alphabetical order, what’s popular, and similar categories you’d also find on your TV’s streaming platform.

abc-mobile-website

15. Lean Labs

Lean Labs is a marketing agency that creates engaging, responsive, and high-conversion web solutions. (They were also featured on ABC’s hit TV series Shark Tank.) The folks over there do a great job of providing a smooth experience for their mobile users, especially with regard to their design techniques and the emphasis they place on their “10x formula” — which is apparent to visitors within seconds of landing on their mobile site.

Notice how Lean Labs’s mobile website uses scale, contrast, and typeface to distinguish certain elements of their page. You can even see the subtle photo of a mountain set to the website’s background, eliciting the heights your brand can reach as a Lean Labs customer.

lean-labs-mobile-website

And, as explained above, their core “10x” formula is clearly visible and broken down into easy steps for mobile users scrolling through the homepage, with relevant icons to match.

Lean Labs mobile website with circular CTAs to learn about 10x formula

16. SAP

SAP is an enterprise software company that manages business operations and customer relations. The business enhances its mobile experience by condensing information, specifically into one important video case study, playable from the homepage on a mobile device.

sap-mobile-website

SAP also combines some of their calls-to-action into sliders, whereas their desktop website has these CTAs laid out horizontally. This helps keep things simple so mobile users aren’t overwhelmed with a lot of information at once, and it also ensures none of the CTAs are too small to read.

SAP mobile website with call-to-action sliders

17. KISSmetrics

KISSmetrics provides analytics software for businesses. On their homepage, there’s a lot of information explaining what the software does along with a testimonial.

But their mobile site is displayed a little differently: On a mobile device, the information on their site is shown in a list with alternative dark and light modules. This makes it easy for users to skim the page without getting lost in text.

kissmetrics-mobile-website-2

They’ve also made the text and fields on their forms large and easy to read:

KISSmetrics mobile website with large form fields for users to sign in

18. idig Marketing

idig Marketing is a development and communications provider. Their mobile website is laid out similarly to their desktop website, but I especially liked how they incorporated the interactive heart icons into their blog posts so users can “Like” their posts.

This mimics the “Like” heart icon in Instagram and Twitter, which is easily recognizable for mobile users familiar with those platforms.

idig-marketing-mobile-site-2.jpg

19. IndiaMART

IndiaMART is the largest online B2B marketplace in India, and its simple category-based mobile store makes it one of the best mobile websites we’ve ever seen in the ecommerce industry.

The company’s mobile homepage puts the search bar right at the top so you can always retreat to a custom search if browsing no longer suffices to find the item you’re looking for.

But, IndiaMART makes it easy to peruse its digital aisles by sorting each item by item type, and then sub-types within each item type — a smart design move to encourage users to explore your site further. Under “Apparel & Garments,” for example, you have easily clickable tiles to check out more specific categories of clothings, such as menswear, women’s dresses, and even suits, sarees, and similar garb native to India.

indiamart-mobile-website

Underneath IndiaMART’s browsing tiles, the company has its own trending section specifically for merchandise people are paying most attention to — similar to a trending list of news on a social media platform. Each trending category has a mobile-friendly call-to-action button allowing users to get price quotes for the product they’re interested in.

indiamart-mobile-website-2

Want more information on how to optimize your business for mobile devices? Download the free kit on mobile marketing below.

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9 Ads With Subliminal Messages You’ve Probably Missed

David Ogilvy, the modern Father of Advertising, once shared this great quote: “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”

Advertising is supposed to be impactful and clever, but not overpowering. There are plenty of examples you’ve likely seen many times without realizing it at the time, but still managed to change your perception of the brand. Why? They reached you on a subliminal level.

In short, be subtle.

And advertisements have a long history of being subtle. Whether they’re hiding a double-meaning in a logo or working some Photoshop magic, subliminal ads definitely meet the criteria of clever. And the more clever the ad, the better we feel about “getting” it — and the better we feel about the product.

Get the ebook on which rules of digital advertising were myths all along.

Here’s our list of eight ads and logos with subliminal messages you’ve probably missed.

9 Subliminal Advertising Examples That Deliver a Subtle Message

1. Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola Halloween Ad

Subliminal message in ads by Pepsi and Coca-Cola

This is subliminal messaging at it’s core — subtle, but still clever. Pepsi released the image on the left and Coca-Cola responded with the image on the right. Pepsi’s original ad is subliminal in that it makes the viewer think and chuckle a bit: it’s funny to suggest that getting a Coke when you wanted a Pepsi is scary. Coca-Cola’s response is perfect, as well, and becomes a great learning tool: sometimes, the tagline really does make the image.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

Subliminal message in blue and yellow logo of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team

The MIlwaukee Brewers logo from 1978 to 1993 is an iconic example of a subliminal logo. Composed of an M and B to make a catcher’s mitt, this logo was designed by University of Wisconsin art education student, Tom Meindel.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean

Ad for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean with subliminal message using shape of Mickey Mouse's ears

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean bridges the gap between family-friendly and adult action movie, and did it well — the franchise has earned over $3.7 billion in box office sales alone. While I can’t say subliminal messaging — and the visual overlap between the skull-and-crossbones and Mickey Mouse’s ears — are the reason why, I still love finding this secret.

4. Baskin-Robbins

Baskin-Robbins logo with number "31" subliminally hidden in brand initials

Baskin-Robbins isn’t just famous for its ice cream — it’s famous for having 31 flavors of it. See how the end of the “B” and the beginning of the “R” in the logo above form the number “31”? The color contrast, and positioning the brand’s initials just right, expose this subliminal message just the right amount to help you remember what makes Baskin-Robbins different from other ice cream parlors.

5. Amazon

Subliminal message embedded in yellow arrow of Amazon logo

An oldie, but a goodie, many don’t see the subliminal message in Amazon’s logo — the current logo has been in use since around 2000 and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Why should it? The cute arrow connecting A to Z, while forming a grinning face, works so well to make you feel happy and see Amazon as an all-inclusive resource.

6. SFX Magazine

SFX Magazine covers with famous women on the front

SFX is a sci-fi magazine that began in 1995. The mag focuses on sci-fi and fantasy news — and some subliminal messaging to attract readers. Many sites have reported that the SFX logo often appears different when women are on the cover, making the reader view the title as “SEX.” How much does sex sell? SFX has a circulation of about 26,000.

7. Tostitos

Tostitos logo with shape of friends sharing chips and salsa

The Tostitos logo is fairly well-known, but you may have missed the subliminal message in it (and in every Tostitos ad that shows the logo). Notice how the fourth, fifth, and sixth letters in the brand name also make two friends sharing chips and salsa? I did, too — and I wondered why it took me this long to find them.

8. Spartan Golf Club

spartan-golf-logo-large

While an advertising campaign might last for a quarter, a logo can last for years — which gives a long shelf life to a well-designed logo. This Spartan Golf Club logo is, in my opinion, one of the best.

The design is just the right amount of subtle: The black silhouette of a golfer’s backswing also looks like the face of a Spartan warrior, while the trail pattern of his swing also makes the shape of the classic trojan helmet.

9. FedEx

FedEx logo with hidden arrow between E an X

Another oldie-but-goodie subliminal message can be found in the FedEx logo. Whitespace in the logo clearly shows an arrow — an indication of the company’s speed and ability to get your delivery from Point A to Point B.

Subliminal messages can do a lot of legwork for you well after the campaign is done. Great ads will be shared, and reach a near-viral status, if the message is clever and subtle.

But of course, even the best ad will eventually fall out of style. If you’re looking to make a lasting impression on your prospects and customers (and make the most of your marketing spend), be subtle and clever with all your content.

Learn more about context marketing in this free ebook from inbound marketing agency Cleriti.

Digital advertising myths ebook
 
Myths about digital advertising