Homepages vs Landing Pages: Where to Drive Paid Traffic for Higher Conversions

I’m going to give this to you straight. If you’re directing your hard-won PPC, Facebook, Twitter or banner ad traffic to your homepage…

There is a better way.

Conversion happens on landing pages.

And your homepage is not one of them.

Why?

Your homepage is a hub. It’s a jump off point to the rest of your site’s content. A landing page is a destination. It’s where you want visitors to end up.

Let me show you what this looks like.

Where to Go (and How You Get There)

Picture this:

You’ve decided to go on vacation. You call up your travel agent. You tell him you’re in the mood for tropical climates, white sand beaches, and public intoxication.

I know just the place, he says.

Your travel agent, who moonlights as an Uber driver, picks up you up and you’re away. Ready to soak up that mojito-laden air.

But, instead of taking you to a resort, he drops you off at the airport. He leaves you there — with no idea where you’re going or what to do next.

See where I’m going with this?

You are the prospect and your travel agent/Uber driver is your ad.

You had an idea of what you wanted and where you wanted to go. But instead of him taking you there — you’re left in a crowded terminal with only one question:

What now?

Sure, you may meander around for a bit. You might even stumble upon a flight to a coastal city.

But, odds are, you’ll find someone else who will actually send you somewhere. Someone who will set you on the path to a beautiful and exotic land—ing page.

It’s About Awareness, Intent, and Direction

Every visitor who clicks on an ad, comes to your site or buys from you, is in a certain stage of problem awareness.

Here’s a brief a rundown on the five stages:

  1. Unaware – The first stage The prospect doesn’t know they have a problem. Enter Dwight. The marketer who works his nine to five, five days a week without issue or complaint.
  2. Problem-Aware – This stage comes after something triggers a feeling of discontent. A disconnect between desire and reality. It’s Dwight at his desk at 9:37am, realizing he feels burnt-out. He doesn’t know what he needs. He only knows he has a problem.
  3. Solution AwareVacation. He needs a vacation. The solution stage is when a prospect identifies a way to solve their problem. But, still unaware of the options. He doesn’t know where he can go to get the relaxation he needs.
  4. Product-AwareIceland? Sydney? Hawaii? The next stage is awareness of the available options. It’s a prospect knowing your solution exists and what it can do.
  5. Most-Aware – Dwight likes Hawaii. The final stage is when the prospect is not only aware of your solution but when it’s also the top contender.

What does this have to do with paid traffic?

Two things.

First, the awareness stage dictates what they’re looking for, why they’re looking for it and how they got there.

In a word: Intent.

Second, knowing which stage a prospect is in allows you to write targeted ad copy. It’s the copywriting adage of joining the conversation that’s already going on in their head — in action.

And it’s not only your ads. Every page on your website addresses concerns at different levels of product awareness. The goal of paid ad campaigns is to prime for conversion by moving them through these stages.

So, which would better fulfil this goal? A homepage or a landing page?

If you answered homepage. Read on.

If you answered landing page. Nice. Read on.

Why Copywriters Hate Writing Homepages

I know what some of you are thinking:

Our homepage has the product on it. By sending traffic there, we’re making visitors product-aware. Plus, it’s littered with information about our value proposition. And THAT will move them into the most-aware stage. It’s the ultimate landing page. Bazinga.

Fair point. But, remember the ultimate goal is conversion. Convincing Dwight that Hawaii is the best place to be, doesn’t mean he’s booked the ticket. Getting to the final stage of awareness is still only awareness — not action.

And although visitors are “landing” on it, I’ll say this again:

A homepage is not a landing page.

Homepages are the gateway to the rest of your site. They are for visitors at every stage of awareness. This makes writing homepage copy a bit of a doozy.

But, landing pages are purpose-built conversion-machines. They follow an optimized set of design principles. Squeezing out every sign-up, opt-in and sale possible. They do this by adhering to a staple of conversion copywriting:

The Rule of One.

The Rule of One is to design each page with one reader and one big idea in mind. For example, Spotify’s landing page for a product-aware prospect (one-reader) with a free trial offer (one big idea):

spotify premiumNo more, no less.

The purpose of the Rule of One is to convert. It gives a single visitor a single path.

This is why homepages are troublesome for copywriters. A homepage is for everybody, and so, it converts nobody. Sure, you may have a CTA above the fold, smack-dab in the center. But, how many conversions do you get compared to a purpose-built landing page?

A lot less, I’d assume.

Focus Trumps Clutter

The real problem with sending visitors to your homepage is onus of responsibility. You make them responsible for navigating through your site. You make them responsible for finding your landing pages.

You make them responsible for your conversion rate.

Let’s go back to Dwight. He knows he has a problem. He needs a solution — so he Googles:

feel less stressed work google queryDwight’s problem aware search query

And this ad comes up. What do you think he’d prefer to see when he clicks on it? A solution to his workplace woes? Or a page cluttered with links and information that may or may not be relevant?

Directing paid traffic to conversion relies on visitor expectationjoin the conversation that’s already going on in their head.

If they’re in the problem stage, they’re expecting a solution. If they’re in the solution stage, they’re expecting a product.

Give it to them.

The first page they see plays a pivotal role in convincing them your offer is worth their time and attention — make it count.

There is already plenty of content out there on designing landing pages. So we won’t get into that here. But, there is one aspect of landing page design that makes it a conversion beast:

Variation.

As in, multiple, targeted and focused designs. Here’s an example: Instapage — a landing page building platform.

If anyone knows how to design landing pages, it should be them, right?

Now, here’s where you come in. You have a problem. You need landing pages. And you need them now.

You go on the Google machine and search for “how to build landing pages”. You scroll down and click a link to Instapage’s homepage:

instapage guaranteeNot a landing page.

Immediately you see menu items, a CTA button, and a video play button. There’s also “3 Brand New Design Features” to check out. You don’t even know the old features yet.

You’re at the airport.

Why are you here? Where do you go? What’s the next step?

Now for comparison, here is the landing page after clicking on the PPC ad for the same search query:

instapage landing pageTwo roads did not diverge in a yellow wood.

See the difference?

The landing page has a clear path for the visitor to “GET STARTED NOW”. Clicking either button takes you to a page with a simple signup form — and nothing else. Below the fold, you see the features most pertinent to your search query: how to build landing pages.

instapage below the fold landing pageShould you get started or get started?

What’s more, every single clickable element leads to the same sign-up page as the first CTA button. Like Spotify’s landing page, it gives a single visitor a single path to conversion.

instapage customers tweetYes, even these testimonials at the bottom of the page are clickable.

The focus is on the visitor’s intent — anticipating their needs. And by presenting the right information, they meet their expectations.

Now, let’s see the search query: “high converting landing pages”. This is the PPC ad’s landing page:

instapage advertising landing pageNot only is the headline more ROI focused, but the hero image is also analytics-themed.

Again, above the fold there is a central focus — get started now. Below the fold are features relevant to the visitor’s intent and expectations. In comparison, the homepage now looks cluttered and directionless.

Targeted, focused, and relevant landing pages are the key to high conversions.

One company found their ad-specific landing pages outperformed their generic pages by 115%. And companies have seen a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15.

This is the beauty of directing paid traffic to landing pages. You can create them based on exactly what the visitor needs to see at their stage of awareness.

Homepages are static — There can be only one.

The Bottom Line

If you’re directing paid traffic to your homepage — you’re wasting your marketing budget.

Your homepage was never meant to be more than a central hub. A starting point. Whereas landing pages have every single element designed, tested and optimized for conversion.

You are paying money for this traffic.

If you currently have ads directed to your homepage, direct them to a relevant landing page. Go, now.

If you already direct them to a landing page, ask yourself:

  • Is this the most optimized landing page for the intended reader’s stage of awareness?
  • Does the landing page present information that they’d expect to see?
  • If it doesn’t, can I build another landing page that would be better suited?

Remember, Dwight needs the vacation. Don’t leave him wandering through the airport.

If you show him the boarding gate — he’ll get on the plane.

About the Author: Andy Nguyen is a professional copywriter for hire. He helps B2B SaaS and marketing companies produce content their audience wants to read.

​Moz Local Report: Who’s Winning Wealth Management?

Posted by Dr-Pete

As more people look for financial advice online, brick-and-mortar wealth management firms and financial advisors are competing harder than ever for search customers. More than 70% of millennials use search engines for research, and 15% of 18–34 year-olds are turning directly to search engines for financial advice. As consumers in their 20s and 30s grow their wealth, have families, and begin planning for the future, who is best situated to capture their attention online?

This turns out to be a more difficult question than you might think. Focusing on Google, there are three major areas where financial service providers can compete: organic results, local results, and paid results (ads). Even organic results are increasingly localized, with top rankings varying wildly from city to city, and traditional organic results are often pushed below both ads and the local 3-pack. Local packs command a large amount of screen real-estate — here’s a local pack for “financial planner” in my own suburban Chicago neighborhood:

In partnership with Hearsay Systems, which provides Advisor Cloud solutions for the financial services industry, we decided to find out who’s leading the pack (no pun intended) in 2017 for wealth management and financial advisory searches across organic, local, and paid results.

Get the full report

Research methodology

For the purposes of this study, we decided to target five keyphrases related to wealth management and financial advisory services:

  1. financial advisor
  2. financial planning
  3. financial planner
  4. financial consultant
  5. wealth management

For each keyword, we looked at page one of Google results across 5,000 cities (the 5K largest cities in the contiguous 48 states, according to US census data). We then captured URLs and ranking positions across organic, local, and paid results.

To aggregate the data, we weighted each result by the population of the corresponding city and the estimated click-through rate (CTR) of its ranking position. We used a fairly conservative CTR curve, weighting top results a bit heavier, but not too dramatically:

For the final analysis across all five keywords, we weighted each keyword by its estimated search volume (according to Google Adwords) in the United States. By far, “financial advisor” was the most popular keyword, scooping up about 55% of search share across the keyword set.

Since some large brands use multiple websites (domains), we consolidated their numbers across those domains. So, for example, morganstanley.com and morganstanleybranch.com were grouped together in the final analysis. Quite a few brands have separate domains for their corporate site and local/branch locations. We’re interested in the strength of the brands themselves, not the particulars of how they divvy up their websites.

Top 5 organic leaders

The Top 5 for organic results were dominated by informational and news sites. The following graph compares the total “Click Share” based on all available clicks across all sites:

Investopedia led the way, scoring almost one-fifth of all clicks in our aggregate model, across more than 4,000 ranking domains. Among major players in the financial services space, only Edward Jones made it into the Top 5.

This is consistent with the idea that people are seeking general financial advice, and may not always be looking to organic results to find local service providers. Google’s results can often tell us a lot about how they’re interpreting search intent.

Curious case of keyword #4

Across the five keywords, we generally saw similar patterns. There were ranking variations, of course, but most of the top sites for one keyword performed well across the other keywords in organic results. The notable exception was keyword #4, “financial consultant.”

The Top 10 organic competitors for “financial consultant” included Monster.com (#1), Indeed.com (#4), Glassdoor (#5), and Robert Half (#7). Google seems to be interpreting this search as a job-hunting search and not a search for a service provider. This goes to show how important it is to make sure you’re targeting the right terms.

Top 5 local leaders

Applying the same analysis to the local pack, we came up with the following Top 5…

Traditional wealth management players performed much better in local pack results. Across our data, though, Edward Jones dominated the competitors in local rankings, consuming almost 40% of the total Click Share.

Interestingly, there was more overall diversity in local pack results, even with one dominant player and only three ranking positions per page. While just over 4,000 different domains ranked across organic results, local packs in our data set sampled from almost 7,000 different domains.

Top 5 paid/ad leaders

Morgan Stanley led the way in paid positioning, capturing just under 20% of Click Share. The rest of the Top 5 paid players were a bit more well-rounded, consuming roughly equal shares…

Interesting to note that relative newcomer SoFi seems to be spending pretty heavily in the space. SoFi (“Social Finance”) is an online finance community clearly aimed at the digital generation.

Given that this is a competitive space with relatively high costs-per-click (CPC), only 366 domains appeared in paid listings in our study. This was not due to a lack of ads — over 99% of the search results we examined displayed ads, and almost every search had a full complement of seven ads.

Non-traditional players

In addition to SoFi, a couple of newcomers fared pretty well in our data relative to their size and spend. Betterment.com appeared in 25th place in organic and 16th in paid. NerdWallet came in 46th in organic results and 22nd in paid. Credio.com took 20th place in organic overall but had no paid presence.

The one advantage traditional players clearly still have is in local results, where none of these newcomers ranked. Big brands with multiple brick-and-mortar presences still dominate local pack results, for obvious reasons, and online-only players can’t compete in local/map results. This makes performing well in local results even more important for big brands with a strong, nationwide physical presence.

Big winner: Edward Jones

Squeezing a lot of data into one graph can be a little dangerous, but let’s take a peek at what happens when we aggregate across all three types of listings (organic, local, and paid). Here are the Top 5 across all of the data in our study…

The combination of their dominant #1 position in our local data, #5 in organic, and a solid #25 in paid makes Edward Jones the clear overall winner, grabbing just over 14% of total Click Share in our study. Industry powerhouse Morgan Stanley comes in at #2, thanks primarily to their #1 paid ranking and #5 local position.

What’s the secret to Edward Jones’ success? Despite what the Internet wants you to believe, there’s almost never just one weird trick to search marketing success in 2017. One significant factor may be that Edward Jones has gone all-in on hyper-local pages. Their dominant local presence was made up of over 7,000 unique URLs representing their individual advisors.

Each advisor page has a clear, consistent Name, Address, and Phone number (or “NAP,” to use local search lingo), office hours, and other essential information. While the pages aren’t particularly unique, Edward Jones has done a good job of making sure that local offices are well represented and have a consistent, structured page.

It’s worth noting that even local rankings are very keyword specific. While Edward Jones ranked #1 overall in local packs for all four keyphrases starting with “financial…”, they fell to #23 for “wealth management.” Edward Jones has clearly carved out their niche.

The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, maintains their dominant organic position with just a single page: a guide to choosing a financial planner. This page clearly benefits from WSJ’s overall authority, and it shows just how different ranking for organic and local search has become these days.

A few tactical takeaways

Based on this research, what advice would we give to financial players (big and small) who hope to be competitive in Google search?

Brick-and-mortar should focus on local

The big financial players with physical offices need to capitalize on that fact, because online-only players won’t be able to compete in local results (at least for now). While a hyper-local approach (to the tune of thousands of pages) is a big undertaking and not without risk, I’d highly recommend testing it if you’re a big player in the space. Edward Jones’ success with this approach can’t be ignored.

For local, focus attention on key markets

You don’t have to compete in every market (you’re probably not even physically in every market). Across even five keywords and 5,000 cities, there were roughly 7,000 domains ranking in the local 3-pack. That means that the winners for any given market varied wildly. Invest your hyper-local resources in key markets with the highest potential ROI.

Online-only should invest in content

Sure, the Wall Street Journal is a huge player, but the fact that they ranked across thousands of cities and highly competitive keywords with a single piece of content is still pretty amazing. Google seems to be interpreting these keywords as informational, and so online-only players need to invest heavily in content that hits the research phase of the buyer cycle. If big financial players hope to compete for organic, they may have to do the same.

You may have to pay for placement

I’ve worked in paid search in a former life, and I believe a balanced approach to search marketing has to be an eyes-wide-open approach. Right now, ads have prominent placement on these searches, often with a full seven ads per page (including four at the top). If you have the money and want to compete against organic and local pack results, you have to at least run the numbers on advertising.

Get the full report

Special thanks to our partners at Hearsay Systems for their industry expertise and contributions to planning this project and analyzing the data. Hearsay provides Advisor Cloud solutions for the financial services and insurance industries.

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14 Essential Tips for an Engaging Facebook Business Page

how-to-make-a-facebook-business-page-compressor.jpg

Whether you’re setting up a brand new Facebook Page for your brand, or you just want to make the most of your existing one, it’s probably a smart move — Facebook is home to nearly 2 billion monthly active users.

It should be easy enough, right? Just slap together a photo, a couple of posts, and expect the leads and customers to roll on in, right?

Wrong.

If you’re not creating a Facebook Page with a comprehensive strategy to get noticed, Liked, and engaged with, the chances of actually generating leads and customers from it are pretty slim. For example, you can’t just choose any picture — you have to choose one that’s the right dimensions, high-resolution, and properly represents your brand. New Call-to-action

But it doesn’t end there — so we compiled the tips below to make sure you’re creating an engaging page that takes full advantage of everything Facebook marketing has to offer.

14 Facebook Business Page Tips

1) Don’t create a personal profile for your business.

We’ve come across many well-meaning marketers and entrepreneurs who create personal profiles for their brands, instead of an actual Facebook Business Page. That puts you at a huge disadvantage — you’re missing out on all of the content creation tools, paid promotional opportunities, and analytics/insights that come with a Facebook Business Page. Plus, a personal profile would require people to send you a friend request in order to engage with you, and the last thing you want to do is make that more difficult for customers.

And while you’re at it — don’t create an additional public, “professional” profile associated with your business. For example, I already have a personal profile on Facebook that I largely keep private; the practice I’m talking about would be if I created a second, public one under the name “AmandaZW HubSpot,” or something along those lines. People usually do that to connect with professional contacts on Facebook, without letting them see personal photos or other posts. But the fact of the matter is that creating more than one personal account goes against Facebook’s terms of service.

2) Avoid publishing mishaps with Page roles.

We’ve all heard those horror stories about folks who accidentally published personal content to their employers’ social media channels — a marketer’s worst nightmare. So to avoid publishing mishaps like those, assign Facebook Business Page roles only to the employees who absolutely need it for the work they do each day. And before you do that, be sure to provide adequate training to those who are new to social media management, so they aren’t confused about when they should be hitting “publish,” what they should be posting, if something should be scheduled first, and who they should be posting it as.

To assign these, on your business page, click “Settings,” then click “Page Roles.”

Also, when sharing content on behalf of your brand, make sure you’re posting it as your brand, and not as yourself. You can check that by going into your settings and clicking “Page Attribution.”

3) Add a recognizable profile picture.

You’ll want to pick a profile picture that’s easy for your audience to recognize — anything from a company logo for a big brand, to a headshot of yourself if you’re a freelancer or consultant. Being recognizable is important to getting found and Liked, especially in Facebook Search. It’s what shows up in search results, pictured at the top of your Facebook Page, the thumbnail image that gets displayed next to your posts in people’s feeds … so choose wisely.

When choosing a photo, keep in mind that Facebook frequently changes its picture dimensions, which you can find at any given time here. As of publication, Page profile pictures display at 170×170 pixels on desktop, and 128×128 pixels on smartphones.

Profile photo desktop.png
Profile photo mobile.png

4) Choose an engaging cover photo.

Next, you’ll need to pick an attractive cover photo. Since your cover photo takes up the most real estate above the fold on your Facebook Page, make sure you’re choosing one that’s high-quality and engaging to your visitors, like this one from MYOB’s Facebook Page:

myob.png
myob mobile.png

Keep in mind that, like profile images, Facebook Page cover photo dimensions also frequently change, so we advise keeping an eye on the official guidelines. As of publication, Page cover photos display at 820×312 pixels on computers, and 640×360 pixels on smartphones.

5) Add a call-to-action (CTA) button.

Since Facebook first launched the feature in December 2014, the options for brands to add call-to-action buttons to their Facebook Page’s have vastly expanded. These are things like “Watch Video,” “Sign Up,” or “Book Now” — and each can be customized with a destination URL or piece of content of their choosing.

It’s a great way for marketers to drive more traffic to their websites, or to get more eyeballs on the Facebook content they want to promote. This is a great way for marketers to drive traffic from their Facebook Business Page back to their website. Check out how Mandarin Oriental uses the “Book Now” button in this way, to make it easier for viewers to make reservations.

Mandarin Oriental.png

To add a call-to-action to your Page, click the blue “Add a Button” box.

Add a button.png

You’ll then be able to choose which type of CTA you want to create, and which URL or existing content on your Facebook Page you want it to direct visitors to. To get data on how many people are clicking it, simply click the drop-down arrow on your button and select “View Insights.”

6) Fill out your ‘About’ section with basic information, and add company milestones.

We’ve arrived at one of the most important sections of your Facebook Page: the ‘About’ section.

Although visitors no longer see a preview of your “About” text when they land on your page — instead, they have to click on the “About” option on the left-hand column next to your content — it’s still one of the first places they’ll look when trying to get more information about your page.

Even within the “About” section, however, there are many options for copy to add. Consider optimizing the section that best aligns with your brand — a general description, a mission, company information, or your story — with brief, yet descriptive copy. By doing so, your audience can get a sense of what your Page represents before they decide to Like it.

You might also want to populate sections that allow you to record milestones and awards — like when you launched popular products and services — as well as the day/year your company was founded, or when you hosted major events.

7) Post photos and videos to your Timeline.

Visual content has pretty much become a requirement of any online presence, including social media channels. After all, it’s 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.

And while photos are a wonderful way to capture moments and an actual look at your brand, you should probably invest a good amount of time and other resources into video. The 2017 State of Inbound report cited video as the “main disruptor,” with 24% of marketers naming it as a top priority.

“Watch video” is one of the CTAs that Facebook allows brands to add to their Pages for a reason — because it’s becoming one of the most popular ways to consume content. But it’s not just pre-recording videos. According to the social media channel’s newsroom, “People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.” So don’t be afraid to give viewers an in-the-moment look at what your organization does, but do make sure you’re prepared.

Not sure what your videos should look like? Here’s a fun one that we put together on business lingo.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhubspot%2Fvideos%2F10155380512289394%2F&show_text=1&width=560

8) Determine the ideal timing and frequency for your posts.

An important consideration in your Facebook content strategy should be how frequently you post, and when. If you don’t post frequently enough, you won’t look as reliable or authentic — after all, how much faith do you put in a brand that hasn’t updated its Facebook Page for several months? Post too often, however, and people might get sick of having their feeds flooded with your content.

Here’s where a social media editorial calendar can be particularly helpful. Like any other online content, it can help you establish a schedule for when you share particular posts according to season or general popularity. You’ll probably have to adjust your calendar several times, especially in the earliest stages of setting up your Page, since you’ll want to check the performance of your updates in your Facebook Insights (which you can navigate to via the tab at the very top of your page). Once you’ve observed popular times and other analytics for your first several posts, you can tailor your posting frequency and strategy accordingly.

Wondering how to schedule posts? You can either use an external publishing tool like the Social Inbox within HubSpot software, or the Facebook interface itself. For the latter, click the arrow next to the “Publish” button and click “Schedule Post.”

Schedule post.png

9) Leverage Facebook’s targeting tools.

Facebook allows you to target certain audiences with specific updates — be it gender, relationship or educational status, age, location, language, or interests, you can segment individual page posts by these criteria.

Just click the small bullseye symbol on the bottom of the post you want to publish, and you can set metrics for both a preferred audience, and one you think might not want to see your content.

Target audience.png

10) Pin important posts to the top of your page.

When you post new content to your Facebook Page, older posts get pushed farther down your Timeline. But sometimes, you might want a specific post to stay at the top of your page for longer — even after you publish new updates.

To solve for this, Facebook offers the ability to “pin” one post at a time to the top of your page. You can use pinned posts as a way to promote things like new lead-gen offers, upcoming events, or important product announcements.

To pin a post, click on the drop-down arrow in the top-right corner of a post on your page, and click ‘Pin to Top.’ It will then appear at the top of your page, flagged with a little bookmark. Just keep in mind that you can only have one pinned post at any given time.

Pin to top.png

11) Decide whether you want Facebook fans to message you privately.

If you want your Facebook fans to be able to privately message you directly through your page, definitely enable the messages feature. You can do so by going to your settings, clicking on “General” on the left-hand column, and then looking for “Messages” on the list of results.

Messages-2.png

We recommend enabling messaging on your page to make it as easy as possible for your fans to reach out to you — but only do so if you have the time to monitor and respond to your messages. Facebook Pages now have a section that indicates how quickly a brand responds to messages, so if you don’t want that section saying that you’re slow to answer, you might just want to skip enabling that feature.

very responsive.png

12) Monitor and respond to comments on your page.

Speaking of monitoring the interactions your fans have with your page, don’t forget about comments. You can monitor and respond to comments via the ‘Notifications’ tab at the very top of your page. While it may not be necessary to respond to every single comment you receive, you should definitely monitor the conversations happening there (especially to stay on top of potential social media crises.

13) Promote your page to generate more followers.

Now that you’ve filled your page with content, it’s time to promote the heck out of it.

One of the first things you can do is to create an ad promoting your Page. To do that, click the three dots at the top menu bar above your posts and select “Create Ad.” From there, Facebook will let you start creating an ad from scratch based on your goals — things like reach, traffic, or general brand awareness. Choose yours, then scroll down and click “continue.”

campaign objective.png

After that, you can choose your targeted audience (similar to what you did with your promoted posts above), where on Facebook you want it to be placed, and your budget — you can learn more about paying for Facebook Ads here.

You’ll probably also be asked to add some creative assets or copy. Remember, you’re paying for this, so choose something that’s going to grab attention, but also has high quality and represents your brand well.

14) Finally, measure the success of your Facebook efforts.

There are a couple of ways to execute this step. You can use something like the social media reports tool in your HubSpot software, and you can dig into your Page’s Insights, which allow you to track Facebook-specific engagement metrics. Here, you’ll be able to analyze things like the demographics of your Page audience and, if you reach a certain threshold, the demographics of people engaging with your page and posts. As we mentioned earlier, the latter is especially helpful to modify your Facebook content strategy to publish more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. You can access your Facebook Page Insights via the tab at the top of your page.

How have you set up top-notch Facebook Pages? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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The Simple Test That Doubled Leads in One Week

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We’ve talked about the best practice of matching your offer and blog post topic as tightly as possible many times on the HubSpot Marketing Blog. But just in case you haven’t heard of this best practice before, I’ll give an example.

Let’s say you have a post explaining different types of commercial cooling systems that gets a steady amount of organic traffic each month. The best fit offer for this post would be a quiz to determine the right cooling system for your business, or a cooling systems pricing comparison sheet.

Because the offer closely aligns with what brought the visitor to your blog post in the first place — an interest in learning about commercial cooling systems — it’s natural for visitors to want to consume this additional content and convert on a lead form. On the other hand, an ebook on ventilation best practices probably wouldn’t convert traffic as well, since it’s not as well-aligned with the topic of the blog post.

A few years back, we did an audit of our highest organic traffic posts on the HubSpot Blog to see if our offers were as optimized for conversion as they could be. We found several areas to more tightly align blog post topic with offer topic, and saw CVRs climb. For example, conversions from this post increased considerably when we swapped a generic marketing offer for a press release template.

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The bottom of the post CTA

Fast forward to today. It had been a while since we took a look at those posts. After all, all of the optimization work that could be done had been done, right?

But then I started digging into the conversion rates of the offer landing pages themselves … and discovered a whole new gold mine of opportunity.

Here’s the quick and dirty of how I doubled leads from 50 of our top-performing blog posts in one week by analyzing landing page CVRs.

Gathering the Data

First, I created a massive spreadsheet that included data on:

  • Blog post traffic
  • Leads generated from blog posts (HubSpot customers, you can do this via attribution reports. Learn how here.)
  • Conversion rate of offer landing page

Here’s what that looked like (this snapshot features some of our worst-converting blog posts — clearly, there’s some work to be done):

spreadsheet-nick-1.png

Blog data: URL, views, leads attributed, and CVR

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Separate tab with offer LP submission rate data

Then, I sorted by highest number of blog post views and highest number of leads generated, and started comparing to offer landing page CVR. This helped me prioritize my optimization efforts so I could see where the potential to move the needle was the greatest — i.e. an offer with a 70% submission rate but 800 monthly views wouldn’t be as good an opportunity to increase raw leads as one with a 45% submission rate and 15,000 monthly views.

The sweet spot was high blog post views + low number of leads generated + low landing page submission rate.

Auditing the Offers

Then, for the top 150 viewed blog posts, I manually audited and noted the URL of which offer LPs were being used. I found that some offers were tightly aligned to the topic of the blog posts while others were not. I also found that some of the offers we were directing visitors to were out of date — not the best experience.

Next up? Some VLOOKUP magic to match offer landing page submission rate to the blog posts that offer was being linked from. It quickly became clear that some of our best-performing blog posts were pointing to some of our worst-performing offers. I also spotted a few trends in subject matter among our lowest performers, such as social media, career development, and content creation.

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Finally, I went through our offers library and identified the content offers with the highest submission rates, and sorted them by topic category. These would be the replacements for the laggards.

The Results

After all this number crunching, I was able to identify 50 blog posts that represented our lowest-hanging fruit. I went through and swapped out these posts’ CTAs (or created new ones from scratch) for the most tightly-aligned offers with the highest submission rates.

The results were even better than I expected. After one week, these posts generated 100% more leads than average — even while post traffic was down 10%. This seemingly small tweak made a big impact on our leads.

We’ll be keeping an eye on how this pans out long-term. But in the meantime, here are a few takeaways and lessons learned I hope will be as valuable for your team as they were for ours:

  • When deciding what offer to pair with what blog post, don’t neglect to check the submission rate of the offer landing page. As we found, this is an easy way to quickly increase the number of leads you’re generating from your best-performing blog posts — especially if you have multiple offers on the same or similar topics.
  • Regularly audit your offers to ensure the content isn’t out of date. Outdated content will create a negative visitor experience and hurt your conversion rate.
  • Regularly audit the conversion paths of your top blog posts. Set aside time for optimization every few months so you can ensure you’re using your content to generate the most possible leads. Optimization isn’t a one-and-done thing.

Have you ever done a similar optimization project? Comment below with your best experiments and hacks to increase conversion rate below (and hey, we might even feature your experiment on our blog).

Intro to Lead Gen

Your 2017 Budget: Is It Time to Pivot?

digital marketingEven the best laid plans go awry. You may have entered 2017 with a substantial backlog of orders, a low inventory count, reduced costs and multiple contractual agreements. However, it’s a reality of business that no matter how well you’ve planned, how much new business you’ve secured, or how well you’ve controlled your costs, at some point something could go wrong. When it does, you must adjust. Understanding how to pivot, and what impact a change of your budget has on your digital marketing efforts, is critical to hitting the ground running in the second half of the year.

Identify the Shortfall

Where did you go wrong? Identify what happened and why. Your company may have over purchased inventory based on a series of customer promises and contracts that were either canceled or didn’t materialize. You may have purchased more than needed due to longer vendor lead times. Perhaps your variable cost structure increased beyond your anticipation as your business volumes grew. Or, maybe you lost a major customer. Regardless of what happened, isolate the root cause and identify an actionable plan to correct the issue moving forward. 

Understand Where You Went Wrong

Identifying the mistake is one thing, but understanding why it happened is another. Did you ignore your historical sales trends and business cycles in favor of a more aggressive sales budget? Did you ignore existing customer relationships because you were enamored with new business? It’s a common occurrence for companies to take their best customers for granted until it’s too late. 

Companies focusing on new business growth sometimes exclude long-term partnerships from the most proactive digital strategies. Instead of increasing customer engagement with all customers, companies may opt to focus on new digital strategies that completely ignore their long-standing customer base. 

digital marketing

Define the Impact on your Digital Marketing Efforts

So, what does this mean for your digital marketing budget? Will you have to cut back and if so, where? Better yet, maybe you can still pursue your plans but on a much smaller scale. Maybe you’ve committed to moving forward with your digital marketing efforts regardless of any decline in business. Ultimately, if you’ve decided that you must cut back, identify the strategies you simply can’t do without. A good rule of thumb is to keep the customer engagement strategies as is. This means continuing publishing high-quality content, pushing new offers and incentives through email marketing, and maintaining a strong presence on social media. 

Implement a Series of Triggers Within Future Budgets 

Let’s assume your shortfall was an excess of inventory counts. This can easily be resolved by having a trigger within the budget that pushes additional inventory purchases once a contract is awarded – and not before. Maybe your trigger comes into effect once you exceed sales by a certain percentage, thereby allowing you to increase a portion of your digital marketing budget. Maybe you have a trigger if you miss sales forecasts. Ultimately, a trigger offers that all-important buffer between go-live initiatives and budget readjustments.  

Your budget doesn’t have to be set in stone. In fact, most companies consider a budget assessment and periodic review a key best business practice. Just be sure to understand what mistake was made and how you can correct it moving forward.

The bottom line is, a flexible digital marketing budget is necessary; it should adjust according to the seasonality of your business and easily be adapted to your existing requirements. Contact us for more information.

5 User Engagement Strategies for SaaS Product Marketers

Want to sustain growth?

It all starts with user engagement. SaaS businesses must aim to educate and entertain their users to boost satisfaction and retention.

For your team, that means building a marketing strategy that keeps users engaged. You want customers to feel compelled to login to your platform in the morning, during lunchtime, and even before bedtime. You want the stickiness factor.

“Once people start using your product, SaaS companies need to focus on making that product as sticky as possible. Your customers need to be using it in their day-to-day workflows,” says Paul Schmidt, a senior consultant at SmartBug Media.

Ready to engage more? Check out the following five user engagement strategies.

1. Send Triggered Messaging

Communication plays an integral role in customer relationships. You’re already emailing customers welcome messages, product updates, and the occasional thank you note.

Powered by data, it’s possible to send more relevant emails to your audience. Triggered messaging takes advantage of customer behavior to automatically deliver a personalized experience.

“Real-time triggered emails get good results because they respond to subscriber actions and are relevant to them, so they benefit from current high engagement. Whereas routine marketing emails can be more like interruptions and are sometimes rejected as irrelevant,” states Mike Austin, a technologist and email marketing expert.

Let’s imagine that new users who don’t take a significant action on your platform within 2 days of signing up are more likely to churn. You can set up a triggered message to nudge these users to login to their accounts.

Below is a triggered message I received from Buffer. Their system automatically emailed me when my social media post surpassed a specific audience reach.

Kissmetrics Campaigns can help you deliver behavior based, automated emails to keep customers engaged every step of the way. You also can build targeted segments and measure your campaign impact.

https://fast.wistia.net/assets/external/E-v1.js

Keep the conversations going beyond the routine emails. Take advantage of customer behavior to send timely messages.

2. Engage with In-App Chat

Over the years as a marketer, you’ve acquired a lot of knowledge about SaaS products. You understand how most platforms work, and you could probably navigate a new software within a couple of hours.

The same can’t be said for your customers. They don’t eat and sleep SaaS technology. Therefore, users will need ongoing assistance to achieve their desired outcomes.

“Simply establishing the fact that you are available makes your customers feel better. It makes them not just view the product as some pixels on the screen, but as an extension of the people behind it’s creation: you,” writes Ryan Angilly, CEO of Ramen.

In-app chat is an effective tool to provide one-on-one help to your customers. You’ll learn what features users find difficult, and you can ask users specific questions about their engagement. Your conversations might look the following image from Pipz:

pipz in app messagingImage Source

Some in-app chat platforms offer the capability to segment users. You could identify key behaviors hindering customers from achieving full product adoption. Then, initiate an in-app chat to guide users through their particular roadblocks.

You also want to remind your team to respond to chat messages quickly. Most people don’t like waiting for answers for long periods of time. Another good tip is to be personable on chat support. Emojis help break the monotony.

3. Garner Attention with Video Tutorials

After a customer makes a purchase, it’s important to provide continuing education. An informed customer is more likely to find success with the product, as a result increasing your retention rates.

While well-intentioned customers want to learn, your SaaS product continues to compete for their attention. There’s the everyday demands of work, family time, and several other random distractions vying for your customer’s time.

Blogs, ebooks, and guides are the most common forms of educational tools used by businesses. It’s cost-effective and gets the job done. However, text isn’t always an engaging content format.

Video tutorials are one way to compete for your customer’s attention. Videos are visually stimulating and convey your message faster.

Check out the example below from Wrike. The project management company created a video series of tutorials to walk users through their features and benefits.

wrike explainer videosImage Source

To produce captivating video tutorials, start with your customer in mind. What do they want to learn? Schedule time with your customer success team to match your content with users’ pain points.

Beyond the topic, the video should connect with your audience on an emotional level. Use storytelling tactics, like narrative patterns and conflicts, to draw people in and make the experience memorable.

4. Add User Incentives

The right incentive works as a catalyst to influence user behavior. Depending on your company’s goals, you want incentives to serve a real purpose for your customer.

Most companies fall into the trap of giving their customers superficial incentives. That might include a free key chain or the chance to enter a sweepstakes. While these incentives are useful, they might not correlate with growing your engagement.

So let’s skip the swag bags for now. Instead, concentrate on activities that will create product stickiness and transform dormant users into habitual advocates.

Some of those activities may involve offering beta test opportunities for users to try out new features or inviting users into an elite community, like Sprout Social’s All Stars Program.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as creating a Facebook group for users to share tips and ask questions. That’s exactly what CoSchedule did!

coschedule Facebook group

Incentives should be highly valued by your users. Practice strategies of exclusivity or surprise and delight to get users excited about receiving an incentive. A customer who isn’t expecting your incentive will be even more thrilled to receive it.

5. Employ Gamification

The concept of engaging customers with games isn’t anything new. For decades, businesses have seduced customers with seasonal contests.

What’s different now is the method of implementation. The Internet is making it practical to employ gamification principles on a larger scale and at the customer’s convenience.

SaaS businesses see this an opportunity to remedy low customer engagement rates. With the right games, your team can persuade customers to stay on your platform longer.

“Can we do something about our users’ shrinking attention span? No. Can we try to keep them engaged and learning despite the dire circumstances? Absolutely. Gamification and interactive content (e.g. quizzes) are only part of the new dynamic content trend that is emerging in training documentation,” says Noa Dror, content manager at Iridize.

Quuu Promote showcases a great example of how SaaS companies can influence product usage. Their team uses loyalty badges to encourage users to promote more content. The badges are earned when a user’s content attains a specific number of clicks or shares. And as a bonus, the user can earn free credits toward their next purchase.

loyalty badge showcase

Not ready to scale gamification to all your customers? Run a beta program on a segment of your user base. Then, monitor your predetermined success metrics, like usage frequency, to see whether your program produces positive outcomes.

Start Engaging Your Users

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. To retain your users, experiment with different engagement strategies to improve retention.

You can send triggered messaging to remind users to login to your platform. Work with your SaaS team to deliver customer solutions with an in-app chat tool. Lastly, consider how user behavior coupled with gamification can increase engagement.

Engage to retain.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

How to Keep Your Computer’s Desktop Clean & Organized: 7 Helpful Tips

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If you fell behind on your spring cleaning this year, it’s okay — so did I. I haven’t put away my winter coats, I haven’t unpacked all of my moving boxes, and I haven’t cleaned my computer’s desktop lately.

You know what I’m talking about — all those forgotten documents and miscellaneous screenshots that have been slowly taking over our screens for weeks — and sometimes, even months.

Hoarding files on your desktop not only makes it challenging to locate what you need when you need it, but it can also compromise the speed of your computer. Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

To help you keep your desktop tidy, we’ve come up with a few helpful tips. From creating a folder system, to trying out a new desktop design, these suggestions are designed to help you unbury yourself and stay productive in the process.

7 Computer Desktop Organizing Tips

1) Create a folder system.

Be honest: How many files do you have on your desktop right now? 10? 20? 100? Have you lost count? If your desktop looks anything like the image below, you may want to start by moving everything into one folder to clear the air.

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Source: Gizmodo

To create a new folder on a Mac, right-click on your desktop and select New Folder from the menu. The folder will appear on your desktop instantly. To change the folder’s name, double-click on “untitled folder,” and you’ll be able to edit a text box with a new name.

To create new folders in Windows, right-click on your desktop and select New > Folder from the menu. To rename the folder, click on it, enter a new name, and then press Enter.

Once you have your folders created, you can begin to divvy up your files. How you choose to organize your folder system will be dependent on your specific role. For example, I frequently write blog posts that contain a lot of visual examples. To simplify the process and keep a record of what I’ve included in the past, I’ve created two folders: Current Examples and Example Archive.

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When I’m rounding up examples for a new post from the web, I drop them in the Current Examples folder. This way, I can easily locate them when I go to write the post. Once the post is prepped and scheduled, I move the images to the Example Archive folder to make room for my next post.

2) Choose a naming convention for your files.

One of my biggest worries when I implemented a folder system was that it would be too difficult to find my files once I got organized — ironic, right?

But between documents, screenshots, and other files for the multiple blog posts I work on each week, there are a lot of different items I’m dropping into folders that can get lost in the shuffle. That’s why I started using a naming convention to organize my files, so I could quickly find them once they were organized into folders.

Choose a naming convention for types of files, topics, projects, or any other way that makes it easy for you to search for them. For example, when I’m creating files for HubSpot Marketing Blog posts, I use this naming convention:

  • MKTG-Draft-OrganizeDesktop
  • MKTG-Screenshot-OrganizeDesktop
  • MKTG-GIF-OrganizeDesktop

This way, it’s easy for me to find files by typing Command + F (Mac) or Control + F (Windows) and typing in the naming convention to narrow your search:

search-mac-desktop-organizing.png

This way, I don’t have to click into my perfectly organized, but likely very full, folders to find exactly what I need. Instead, I can simply search for and immediately find files by using my naming convention.

3) Experiment with a sectioned wallpaper.

Want to take your folder organization a step further?

While your desktop wallpaper is a great place for you to display a photo of your dog or latest vacation, there are also a ton of wallpaper options available that can actually help you stay organized. These wallpaper designs — in combination with your folder system — make it easy to corral specific sections of your work. (It’s kind of like using iPhone folders … but for your desktop.)

To get you started, we’ve included a few options to choose from below.

MoritzFineDesigns Yellow Wallpaper

[Download here via Moritz Fine Designs]

Lifehacker_Wallpaper_Sections.jpg

[Download here via Lifehacker]

MoritzFineDesigns Chalkboard Wallpaper

[Download here via Moritz Fine Designs]

Lifehacker Organized Wallpaper Design

[Download here via Lifehacker]

4) Use a Chrome extension to pre-organize your screenshots.

Screenshots are one of the biggest contributors to desktop clutter. When you capture a screenshot on a Mac (Command + Shift + 3) or PC (Alt + Print Screen), the image saves directly to your desktop. And if screenshotting is something you find yourself doing a lot, you’ll notice that it doesn’t take very long for it to make a mess of things.

To avoid having your screenshots automatically save to your desktop, you can use a screen capture tool such as the Awesome Screenshot extension for Google Chrome. Not only does this tool provide you with more advanced screen capture capabilities — annotations, selective capture, delayed capture, etc. — but it also aims to simplify the way you store your shots.

With Awesome Screenshot, you have the option to manually choose where you’d like to save your file, or you can create an account where you can save files to specific projects.

The latter will require you to sign up for a free account, but here’s how it works:

  1. Capture an image by clicking the extension and selecting an option from the menu.Capturing a Screenshot on Awesome Screenshot
  2. Crop and annotate your screenshot as you see fit, and then hit Done.Awesome Screenshot Annotation
  3. Select your desired option for saving from the menu on the right. If you’d like to save the image to a project’s folder on Awesome Screenshot, select Save on Awesome Screenshot at the top.Awesome Screenshot Save
  4. Insert a name for your file and identify which project you’d like to save it to by selecting an option from the menu. To save it, hit Upload.Awesome Screenshot Saving Option
  5. To access your file at any time, visit the appropriate project folder in your account dashboard. Awesome Screenshot Project Library
  6. When you add screenshots to a project folder, you can then collaborate with other members of your team by sharing the folder, adding point-specific comments, further annotations, etc.Awesome_Screenshot_Project_Commenting.png

5) Get inspired by a motivational wallpaper.

Not a fan of the sectioned off wallpaper? No worries. There are other wallpaper options that can give you the motivation to stay organized.

According to psychologist and motivation expert Jonathan Fader, inspirational or motivational messages often serve as a powerful incentive for us to try harder. “There’s a little bit of implicit coaching that’s happening when you’re reading it. It’s building that self-efficacy in that kind of dialogue that you’re having with yourself,” he explains.

So if you’re looking for a little coaching to help you stay organized, adding an inspirational message to your desktop can serve as a friendly, daily reminder.

Want to create your own motivational wallpaper? Follow the instructions below to learn how using Canva.

  1. Click on “Use custom dimensions” in the top right-hand corner and add your dimensions. Some of the most common desktop wallpaper resolutions are: 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, and 1920 x 1080.Canva_Custom_Dimensions.png
  2. To add a background image, click on Elements > Photos. You can also choose a plain color or pattern background by selecting Background.Canva_Elements_and_Photos.png
  3. Select a photo and adjust the size using the resizing points around it. Canva_Photo_Background.png
  4. To add text, click on Text and choose a heading or template from the options listed. Adjust the template text by adding your quote of choice. (I chose a quote from Barbara Hemphill on clutter.)Adding_Text_to_Canva.png
  5. To save your creation, click on the Download button in the top right-hand corner and select Image: high quality (PNG).Download_Your_Desktop.png

To set this image as your wallpaper on a Mac or Windows computer, refer to the following tutorials:

6) Invest in a storage solution.

If you’re constantly dealing with managing and organizing a lot of files, you may want to invest in an application like Dropbox to better manage your assets.

Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage and file synchronization. Users can create a folder on their computers that syncs with the service, making it easy to access the content no matter what device you’re using. Rather than dragging everything onto your desktop, simply store it in Dropbox where you can quickly and easily search for it whenever you need it.

You can also share folders with other users to create a central space for all of your shared files. This helps to prevent any bottlenecking that might occur when others are forced to wait on you to locate a specific file.

Clean desktop. Organized files. It’s a win-win for everyone.

7) Schedule a weekly or monthly cleaning.

As shown by the example we used back in the first tip, it’s easy for your desktop to get kind of, well … scary.

To ensure that you’re keeping up with desktop maintenance on a regular basis, set a recurring event on your calendar to remind you to get rid of anything unnecessary. This can be a weekly or monthly event, depending on how much damage you typically do.

organizing-desktop-calendar-event.png

How do you organize your desktop for optimal productivity? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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