How to Actually Monetize Facebook Traffic with Messenger

For years, Facebook has been one of the best places to build and reach your audience. Over that same period of time, though, it’s become much more of a pay-to-play channel.

In the earlier days of Facebook, you could create a post and count on your audience seeing it. Now, you’re lucky if that content reaches even 4% of your fans. Even if you can cut through the noise and reach them, though, can you say with confidence how it helps your business? Valuing your Facebook audience has been a black hole for many marketers. It’s hard to tie that audience to activity further down the funnel.

Facebook wants businesses to keep their audience on Facebook properties. Posts that link out to external websites often see lower reach than those without.

Messenger might be the key to monetizing your Facebook audience in a delightful way. Using channels together make them work better together. In other words, Facebook + Messenger = $ is the same thing as 1 + 1 = 3.

With over 1.3 billion monthly active users, there’s a good chance your audience already uses Messenger. Facebook continues to invest in building new ways to reach your audience. One of those is “Comment-to-Messenger”. All a visitor has to do is comment a specific keyword on one of your Facebook posts. Then, a Messenger chat opens up, even if it’s the first time you’ve talked.

This is a powerful way to send automated, contextual follow-ups to your audience. There’s lots of potential here across Marketing, Sales, and Service. But if you’re trying to monetize your audience, you need to be using it for conversational marketing today.

Our Facebook audience loves watching videos on marketing-related topics, like SEO. And the only thing people love more on the internet than watching videos are taking quizzes. It’s one reason that BuzzFeed continues to dominate engagement.

For a video on SEO myths, the post description said to comment “SEO” to test your knowledge in Messenger. More than 2% of people who viewed the video commented that keyword on the post. That’s a good baseline to shoot for as you start running these tests.

 

 

Here’s my approach for creating great Messenger quizzes:

  • Write for the channel.
  • Messenger is a more personal channel than email. Use gifs, emojis, and shorter copy to make the experience feel more natural.
  • Use progress markers.
  • Use these throughout the quiz to let people know how far along they are. There’s nothing people hate more than a conversation with no end in sight. Once a user completes half of the questions, give them a “you’re doing great — we’re halfway there” to set expectations.
  • Provide feedback.
  • If someone’s taking a quiz, they want to see how much they know for themselves. When they answer, let them know in a contextual way if that was right or wrong.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Make users think about what the answer is to the question, not how to answer the question. If you can avoid it, don’t make users type in text responses. Use features of the Messenger platform like Quick Replies to give users an easy way to move forward.

Incorporating those guidelines helped create a quiz that users loved to take. In fact, 95.31% of people who started the quiz answered all 5 questions and got their score. That’s 86.88% higher than the average completion rate, according to AdEspresso.

After they finished the quiz, they received a contextual card with their score and a next step. Because they were already engaging with us on SEO, it was natural to ask them to download an ebook on the same topic.

We turned our traditional lead generation form into a one-to-one conversation. Instead of asking users to fill out eight fields at once, we asked them questions one at a time and made it feel more natural.

It was a much more delightful way to download an ebook. We met users on the channel where they spend their time. And we gave them an experience that felt natural and human-like.

68.89% of people who started downloading the ebook converted and filled out all the information. You don’t get conversion rates like that anywhere other than messaging.

Re-engagement was a big part of the success for both the quiz and the ebook. If someone started but didn’t finish, they got a message to come back in and finish getting their offer 24 hours later. This persistence of identity is invaluable compared to web traffic. With web forms, if someone only fills out a few pieces of information, you have no way to contact them again.

People went from viewing a Facebook video to becoming a lead in less than two minutes — without ever leaving Facebook. Growing an audience on Facebook will be a top priority for marketers for years to come. It’s more important than ever that you have a plan in place to monetize them over time. Messenger’s the key to doing that.

 

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Unriddled: The Latest From Facebook, Announcements From (And About) Apple, and More Tech News You Need

Welcome one, welcome all to a very warm Wednesday. Not only have we reached the week’s halfway point, but we’re one day away from the official start of summer here in Boston.

This Wednesday also brings another edition of “Unriddled”: the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s mid-week digest of the tech news you need to know. We’ve sifted through the vast pool of tech news items to help you decrypt what’s happening.

It’s our Wednesday tech news roundup, and we’re breaking it down.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. A Big Departure and New Ads From Facebook

Last week, Facebook’s now former head of public policy and communications, Elliot Schrage, announced that he would be leaving the social media giant.

“Leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy,” Schrage wrote in his official statement, “but it’s also intense and leaves little room for much else.”

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In his announcement, Schrage also said that he would stay on just long enough to find and assist with the on-boarding of a replacement. It comes after months of criticism toward Facebook — from lawmakers, consumers, and others — not only for the Cambridge Analytica crisis, but also, for how the company responded to it.

Schrage’s looming departure is followed by a recent announcement that Facebook will display ads in more places, the latest being Messenger. While ad space has been sold within Messenger for about a year and a half, users will now see autoplay video ads.

The changes provide another means of ad revenue for Facebook, but how well-received they are by all users remains to be seen. Read more about the new autoplay video ads from Recode‘s Kurt Wagner. Read full story >>

2. Aleksandr Kogan Appears Before Senate Sub-Committee

Aleksandr Kogan — the Cambridge University professor who developed the app blamed for improperly obtaining Facebook user data that would later be exploited by voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica — appeared yesterday before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security.

Very little new information emerged from the hearing, where Kogan was joined by witnesses John Battelle (CEO of NewCo) and Ashkan Soltani (former CTO of the FTC).

In his written testimony, Kogan discounted the effectiveness of any data obtained by his app in “a political campaign,” but did comment on what he sees as flaws in Facebook’s approach to terms and user consent, as well as what can be done to prevent similar events or crises. Alfred Ng of CNET writes more on today’s events and Kogan’s commentary. Read full story >>

3. Apple Closes the Data Transfer “Backdoor”

Apple is making it harder for law enforcement to hack iPhones, announcing a future software update that would disable the phone’s charging and data port — the port used by authorities to transfer the phone’s data to another device — if it’s been inactive for an hour since it was last locked.

The announcement comes after a 2016 high-profile disagreement between Apple and the FBI, when the former refused to provide what it called “backdoor” methods of accessing a locked iPhone. which it cited as potential violations of “basics of digital security.”

At the time, the FBI eventually enlisted a third-party that discovered a loophole — which is what Apple is seeking to close with this latest update. Jack Nicas of the New York Times has the full report. Read full story >>

4. Apple + Public Safety

Meanwhile, Apple has announced more consumer-friendly, public-safety-oriented features within the yet-to-be-released iOS 12. When an iPhone user makes a call to 911, the public emergency telephone number in North America, the device will automatically and securely share its location with first responders.

The feature addresses the growing number of emergency calls made from mobile devices — about 80%, Apple says — that previously could not be traced to a precise location. And while the FCC requires wireless carriers to locate 911 callers “within 50 meters at least 80% of the time by 2021,” Apple says that’s not soon enough — and wants to provide a more immediate solution. Read full announcement >>

5. The App Store and Antitrust

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Apple to a lower court’s ruling that would allow a class-action lawsuit by iPhone customers.

The plaintiffs seeking the suit claim that Apple has an unfair monopoly on mobile apps, which leads to prices that are more “inflated” than they would be if apps were available for purchase from other outlets. And while developers determine a price point for a given app, Apple charges them 30% commission for every purchase. Andrew Chung of Reuters explains more. Read full story >>

6. Login With Snapchat

Snapchat announced last week that it would launch a brand-new “Snap Kit” for developers, which contains — among other items — a “Login Kit” that allows users to log into certain sites with their Snapchat accounts.

The Snap Kit launch comes at a time when social networks, like Facebook, are dealing with particularly high scrutiny for the way these login APIs can be misused, such as the improper sharing of personal user data, even if unintentional. But Snapchat’s Login Kit shares far less information — only the user’s display name and Bitmoji avatar — with third parties than Facebook Login does. Read full announcement >>

That’s all for today. Until next week, feel free to weigh in on Twitter to ask us your tech news questions, or to let us know what kind of events and topics you’d like us to cover.

Design 101: Asymmetrical and Symmetrical Balance

Let’s take a look at one of the most famous buildings in the world — the Taj Mahal. While there are numerous reasons the Taj Mahal is aesthetically-pleasing, one reason is its symmetrical balance, which evokes a sense of traditionalism and stability.

Image courtesy of livescience.com.

Now, let’s take a look at another famous piece of artwork — The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. This painting, unlike the Taj Mahal, is asymmetrical in nature — and yet, it’s still balanced and strategic in design.

Image courtesy of Moma.org.

Looking at the Taj Mahal and The Starry Night, you can see the profound beauty of both types of balance in design. But for the purposes of every day design, which one should you use? What’s the real difference?

Here, we’ll define asymmetrical and symmetrical balance, and compare the two, so you can choose properly for your own creative purposes.

The Definition of Symmetrical Balance

Symmetrical balance occurs when you have two identical sides of a design with a central point of axis — so if you cut the design in half, the left and right are mirror images of each other. To be considered perfectly symmetrical, a design needs to have equally weighted visuals on either side.

Symmetrical design allows you to draw attention to all areas of an image equally. Since this form of design is usually very structured and rigid in nature, it’s referred to as formal balance. For marketers, symmetrical design is ideal for projects like event invitations or discount offers, but can seem boring if used on more creative pieces.

Let’s take a look at an (admittedly very basic) example of symmetrical balance:

Not quite the Taj Mahal, but it’ll do.

The Definition of Asymmetrical Balance

Asymmetrical balance occurs when you have different visual images on either side of a design, and yet the image still seems balanced. To be considered asymmetrical, a design needs to have unequal visual weight on either side, but those unequal visuals need to balance each other.

Asymmetrical designs can evoke feelings of movement and seem more modern than symmetrical designs, but it can be more difficult and less straightforward to create relationships between the design’s individual elements.

Let’s take a look at an example of asymmetrical balance:

It’s important to note asymmetrical balance is still strategic — placing shapes haphazardly around a page won’t create a compelling composition. To create a successful asymmetrical design, you still need to figure out how to balance out the image.

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, for instance, uses a notable visual, the sun, in the top right, and balances it out with a dark cypress tree in the bottom left. It would not be a successfully asymmetrical balance if van Gogh put both the sun and tree on the right side of the page.

13 Simple Tools for Creating Animated GIFs, Images, and Videos

Even if you create loads of visual content, it can be a struggle to hold your audience’s attention — especially when you’re trying to communicate complex, detailed, and abstract topics. 

What’s a marketer to do? 

One option that often gets overlooked is animated images or videos. They’re great because they can explain a point in a matter of seconds. They also grab attention and help convert viewers into leads and buyers.

Download our free guide to learn how to create and utilize video in your  marketing to increase engagement and conversion rates. 

An animated image, GIF, or video might sound difficult to create, but in reality, you don’t need to carve out a budget to add this type of visual content to your marketing strategy. Check out the following tools that let you easily create cool animated images and video.

Animated Flows

1. WhatFix

Price: Free

If you’re looking for a simple way to instruct someone on how to do something online, the following tool is super handy.

This tool is actually the one that has inspired the whole article. WhatFix lets you create quick flows showing steps users should take. You can embed the widget on your web page or send your users to the “live” version of the link that will play all the steps on your actual web page.

You can play with the widget below or on the WhatFix website.

You’ll need WhatFix’s extension for Firefox or Google Chrome to build those widgets, but other than that, the process is so easy. Just click the links on your page and type in the instructions for each link. The extension will record everything and immediately put together a widget for you.

It also creates YouTube videos on the fly, which is a great re-packaging option. Here’s an example of what that can look like.

WhatFix offers its basic features for free: You can go ahead and try creating those flows right now. It does have a business version that has an option to create private flows, export flows, and more.

Animated GIF Makers

Animated GIFs have remained a standard in basic online media over the years. Social media platforms like Tumblr thrive on them, and a single GIF reaching viral status can have a big impact on your social strategy and success. They are also great for creating animated instructions that will auto-play the steps on Twitter, Pinterest, and now Facebook.

Here are my favorite GIF image generators:

2. GIFBrewery

Price: $4.99 one time

Mac users can quickly convert sections of their videos into GIFs using GIFBrewery. You just purchase and download the app onto your Mac OSX, and use it from your computer as often as you’d like.

The steps are easy to follow, and the interface rather intuitive. You can edit the GIFs with overlay text and images, apply image filters, and more. It is a great tool for making preview animations for longer videos to post on Pinterest, your blog, Instagram, and beyond. It does cost $4.99, but it is well worth the price if you are planning on regularly making GIF files.

3. Gyazo

Price: Free

While it is technically a screen-capture tool, you can capture and save GIFs and videos now using Gyazo. It is a free tool available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. All captures can be quickly shared on multiple platforms, too.

This is a great, if somewhat casual, tool for anyone who takes screen captures and wants to show them off to others. With a bit of creativity, it could be used in other business-related capacities, though it may not have all the tools you are looking for.

Here’s an example of a GIF made from HubSpot’s YouTube video on topic clusters:

Animated GIF made with Gyazo using HubSpot's YouTube video on topic clusters

Price: Free4. Recordit

Need to make a fast screencast, such as a simple demo? Recordit is specifically meant for quickie tutorials or examples, rather than those that require longer record times.

You simply drag the space you want to capture, hit record, and show viewers what they need to see before stopping the recording. It breaks these down into moving slides and converts the file into a GIF rather than a video recording. If this sounds like something you would like to integrate into an app, they now have an API, too.

Here’s an example that actually took me five seconds to create — it’s quite easy to explain your point:

Animated GIF created with Recordit showing how to sign up for a keyword report

5. GIFDeck

Price: Free

Do you share educational content on SlideShare? (Hint: You should!) GIFDeck a great way to turn your decks into GIFs. Here’s an example of one I created just recently:

Animated GIF created with GIFDeck showing a SlideShare on content marketing

6. Make a GIF

Price: Free

This is a more extensive GIF maker that allows you to choose from a couple of options to make your GIF. On Make a GIF, you can create from screenshots, YouTube videos, uploaded videos, or premade GIFs.

It is also a free image hosting site, so once the GIF has been made, you can link to it directly from the Make a GIF gallery. Accounts are free, and if you change your mind about a GIF, you can easily request that it be deleted.

Here’s a GIF I animated from two separate pictures of HubSpot’s tagline during Pride Month:

Animated GIF created with Make a GIF showing HubSpot's Pride Month tagline

7. GIFYT

Price: Free

YouTube videos are a great source for screencasts. If your users create screencasts of how they use your product, turn those videos into animated GIFs to share with your community. That means original content for you and more exposure for your fans’ videos. 

You can make GIFs from YouTube videos using GIFYT. Just paste in the URL, select the time period you want captured, and convert it to a GIF.

It is very easy to use, fast, and free. The only downside is that you have to be careful you don’t select too long a clip duration. Keep it short and relevant for the best quality GIFs.

Here’s a GIF I created using an animated video from HubSpot’s YouTube channel:

Animated GIF created with GIFYT showing HubSpot's logo animation

Video Animation Software

Then there are times when you want to make a full-fledged animation — audio, story, and all. Luckily, the tools at your disposal aren’t all that complicated.

The following tools are quite similar. I tried all of them and was satisfied. They are all easy to use, as well — you don’t need any video editing experience to put together animated video instructions. You do need to invest some time into a script and some visual elements to make these instructions appealing. The good news? You can then convert them into animated GIFs using the tools above.

None of these tools are free, but they all offer a free trial, so you can play with them all and choose the one you prefer.

8. PowToon

Price: $59/month; $19/month for at least a year

PowToon video animation software

PowToon describes itself as an animated video and presentations creator that can be easily exported to YouTube. Simply “pick a look you like” from one of five animation themes, and piece together the characters, objects, layouts, and backgrounds you need to tell your story.

9. VideoScribe

Price: Free to try; $29.00/month; $16/month if you pay annually; $665 if you pay once

VideoScribe video animation software

VideoScribe specializes in whiteboard videos, and it lets you create really nice video animations. It’s a downloadable piece of software that you can take offline if you pay for the PRO plan. It supports both Mac and PC, and also has mobile applications that I haven’t yet tried (but am definitely planning to).

10. Vyond

Price: $79/month or $599/year

Vyond video animation softwareImage via G2 Crowd

Vyond, formerly GoAnimate, is a web application that can be used to create cartoon videos. It also has a collaboration feature, which comes in handy when you’re trying to coordinate with a larger team.

11. Animaker 

Price: Free with limited features or $12/month

Animaker video animation software

Animaker is a one-stop shop for 10 types of videos for every purpose and channel. From explainer videos to animated infographics, this tool breaks down the templates you’d need based on the specific purpose of your video.  

12. Moovly

Price: Free to try; $24.92/month

Moovly video animation software

Moovly is a “drag, drop & animate” tool that allows you to create quick animated videos right in your internet browser. Like many animation tools, this product drafts explainer videos, whiteboard-style animations, advertisements, and more. Moovly also gives you more than 750,000 free video clips to work from.

13. Synfig

Price: Free

Synfig video animation software

Synfig is surprisingly detailed for being a completely free platform, but it’s an easy downloadable tool that’s compatible with any computer. The product gives you a user-friendly menu of tools to edit your subjects’ shape, color, and movements one frame at a time.

These are just a few tools I’ve used to create animated images and videos — but there are plenty of other options out there. 

Want to learn more about video editing? Check out 9 of the Best Free Video Editing Software to Try

free guide to video marketing

 
Free Guide Use Video in Buyer's Journey

13 Amazing YouTube Pre-Roll Ads That Last Just Six Seconds

You technically can’t skip these ads. But you wouldn’t want to anyway.

In 2016, at Sundance, YouTube unveiled a new ad format to brands: the unskippable, six second “bumper” ad. To prove it was possible to cram a compelling story into such a short window, they recruited a handful of creative agencies to test drive the format — and the results were pretty convincing.

After that, huge brands like Under Armour and Anheuser-Busch adopted the new six-second ad format to tell quick but gripping stories that actually stuck with audiences.

In fact, according to Google, 90% of bumper ad campaigns boosted global ad recall by an average of 30%. That’s pretty impressive for taking up only six seconds of someone’s day.

It might seem like you can’t accomplish much in that amount of time, but with a little creativity, brands can use it to forge an emotional connection with their audience and implant a vivid memory of those feelings in their minds.

Unlock the one resource you need to start growing your YouTube business  channel.

Why Six-Second Bumper Ads Work

Suffering through 15-, 30-, or even 60-second pre-roll ads prompted so many head shakes and back-button clicks that eventually, YouTube added a skip button to their ads in 2009. In theory, though, an ad’s first five seconds are enough to hook viewers and hold their attention for the rest of its duration.

But we all know this rarely happens. Whenever a YouTube ad pops up and shields you from your favorite video, what do you usually do? You immediately glue your eyes to the skip button’s countdown clock and wait … until those lingering seconds finally slug by.

Fortunately, the six-second pre-roll ad engages viewers without testing their patience. When YouTube plays such a short ad for them, it’s not as annoying as a full-length ad. And when brands craft these ads into fast, captivating stories, they can resonate well with audiences.

This lets YouTube sustain their ad business while helping brands create a more enjoyable and memorable user experience for its viewers.

So, if you’re running a six-second pre-roll ad on YouTube right now, hats off to you. If not, here are 13 examples to help you brainstorm the best way to delight your YouTube viewers without getting in the way of their chosen video.

13 Exceptional Six-Second Pre-Roll Ads on YouTube

1. YouTube

Campaign: YouTube Advertisers

To further promote their new ad format’s creative potential, YouTube challenged filmmakers and ad agencies to retell classic pieces of literature in just six seconds.

These are some of the most complex novels ever written. So creatives needed to convey each story’s core in a simple yet spellbinding way.

Rethink, a Canadian agency, did just that. Their rendition of Hamlet is clear and concise (we all know that everyone dies when modern day Claudius spams the buy button). But it’s also unexpected and funny because it gives us a glimpse of how Hamlet could’ve transpired in today’s digital age.

2. Bounce

Campaign: Dryer Sheets

Billy’s sneaky grin at the end of this bumper ad gets me every time.

Bounce didn’t reach for the stars with this short ad, but it’s topical humor was perfect for the time allotted. And what it promotes is appropriate given how easily forgettable dryer sheets can be when doing laundry. You’ll think about Bounce every time you fill the dryer (or get your son stuck on the back of your shirt) from now on.

3. Mom’s Touch

Campaign: Spicy Chicken Wings

Mom’s Touch is a chicken burger restaurant chain based in South Korea, and the language barrier in the YouTube ad above doesn’t stop you from loving it.

Google actually ranked this YouTube ad in the top 20 bumper ads in the world in 2017, and it’s only five seconds long. The company didn’t even take the additional second to squeeze more attention out of its customers. It featured just a sheep who shows you exactly how spicy their chicken wings really are.

4. Chipsmore

Campaign: #takeiteasy

I know you fell for it too.

When I first saw the red face of doom, disappointment started spilling over me. But, luckily for us, the Chipsmore’s Cookie Guy saved the day.

The thing is, we just wanted to watch the ad. Imagine how someone who wanted to watch a video after it must’ve felt.

They were probably frustrated at the initial sight of the “broken” video link, then surprised when the Cookie Guy appears, which grabbed their attention. And, finally, delighted when their favorite video starts.

This ad takes its viewers on an emotional roller coaster. And, honestly, who doesn’t have fun on those?

5. Road Lodge

Campaign: Relaxing Hotel Rooms

This is a prime example of insanely honest marketing.

Road Lodge sets the expectation that their hotel is best suited for relaxation. And not so much for partying.

You might think they’re deterring potential customers from their hotel — and you’re right — they are. But it’s actually a good thing because these people would never stay at their hotel in the first place.

And since their honesty signals confidence, builds trust, and shows that they value their customers’ experience more than short-term profits, their target market becomes more attracted to them.

Road Lodge knows that if you’re brutally honest about your product or service, then you won’t disappoint your customers. This makes it a lot easier to maintain their loyalty.

6. Under Armour

Campaign: It Comes From Below

When you play baseball, nothing matters more than your stats. They’re a direct measurement of your performance and can even define your value as a person.

Under Armour sought to uproot this belief.

In six short seconds, Droga5, Under Armour’s agency, works with Washington Nationals right fielder, Bryce Harper, to inject purpose into ball players everywhere. The pre-roll ad motivates viewers to place their value in their character instead of their numbers.

7. PG Tips

Campaign: Keep It Tea

This ad from a popular English tea brand was designed to hold your attention one second at a time. The pre-roll ad opens to show cloth hands, making you wonder what exactly is holding this mug of tea. Oh, it’s a puppet monkey. And it’s adorable.

The cuteness and simplicity behind this ad was intentional, as well. In its YouTube video’s caption, PG Tips delivers a note of solidarity against the “silly and ridiculous.” Sometimes the truest messages only need six seconds of your time.

8. Hefty Party Cups

Campaign: Office Party

Here’s another member of YouTube’s list of top 20 six-second ads in the world, and it comes to us from Hefty® — not just a garbage bag brand, according to this energetic ad.

Sometimes, you have to embrace the most extreme uses for your product to get your customers’ attention. Hefty® Party Cups took that to heart with six shameless seconds you won’t soon forget. And hey, maybe it’s the perfect reminder to pick some of those red cups up before that raging shindig you have planned …

9. Mercedes-Benz

Campaign: Mercedes-AMG GT S

Mercedes-Benz targets the Singapore market in this bumper ad for a new two-door sports car. The video uses swift video cuts and a roaring engine to engage their viewers’ senses. This way, its audience can actually see and hear the intensity of reaching 60 MPH in only 3.8 seconds.

10. Universal Pictures

Campaign: Jason Bourne

Universal Pictures used this pre-roll ad to promote the full Jason Bourne trailer, which garnered over 14 million views.

And since the ad is chock full of non-stop action, it piqued viewers’ interest and generated tremendous hype around its trailer release.

11. Burn

Campaign: Energy Drink

Burn’s pre-roll ad is so effective because it’s snappy and visually engaging. And since you can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, a flaming fist across the face will definitely catch your eye.

The slow-mo effect also makes the ad seem longer, intensifying your viewing experience.

12. Airbnb

Campaign: Leave Loving Home Made

Family vacations are the best.

You get to explore incredible places and create timeless memories with your loved ones. Is there any other way you would want to bond with your family?

Airbnb agrees too. So their agency, TWBA, produced a charming ad that showcases the benefits of a family vacation: loads of fun and connection.

13. Geico

Campaign: Unskippable Elevator

The Martin Agency, Geico’s creative partner, deserves a lifetime supply of car insurance for this masterpiece. And although it isn’t just six seconds long, it’s a skippable ad you won’t want to skip.

“Unskippable” was so refreshingly original, it won AdAge’s 2016 Campaign of the Year. And for good reason too. It sympathizes with your annoyance of pre-roll ads, so it ends before you can skip it. But it’s also so unique and witty that you’ll actually watch the entire ad.

Geico says this ad is impossible to skip because it’s already over. But really, this ad is impossible to skip because it’s so clever.

YouTube for Business

The Ultimate Guide to Decision Making

Fruit loops or cheerios? Call or email? John Wayne or Clint Eastwood? To be, or not to be? If you’re like most reasonably decisive adults, you make 35,000 conscious decisions every day. That’s a heck of a lot, but most of them are straightforward or trivial. It’s the major ones — or even a series of smaller decisions — that need some strategic thinking.

The thing is, 98% of organizations aren’t very good at decision-making.

So what’s the problem?

Sometimes it’s a case of time pressure and relying only on impulse or off-base instinct. Other times, we don’t do all the prep work needed to make a smart decision, like identifying all our options and gathering enough evidence. Too much information can be just as bad. Whatever the case, Daniel Kahneman, who studies judgment and decision-making, says we think we’re more rational than we actually are — especially when we let cognitive biases derail our thoughts.

But we know you won’t make those mistakes anymore. Because you’re about to learn the time-tested decision-making techniques that will get results.

Key Decision-Making Skills

Now for what decision-making is not: a talent. It’s a skill you can practice and improve.

Rational decision-making requires specific skills as well as subject matter expertise. For most deliberations, you need to harness:

Must-haves:

Nice-to-haves:

Best for groups:

Critical thinking

Creative thinking

Collaboration

Logical reasoning

Visualization

Communication

Data analysis

Organization

Negotiation

Risk assessment

Time management

Leadership

Helpful Decision-Making Models & Tools

As we mentioned earlier, decisions are best served part reason and part intuition. You won’t implement your decision effectively if it doesn’t feel right (we’ll leave that part up to you), but it’s important to weigh the facts. That’s where practical strategies can help.

Your decision won’t feel so complex if broken into manageable components, but a pros and cons list doesn’t always cut it. Here, we’ll go over three somewhat more complicated yet effective tools: the decision matrix, decision tree, and mental model.

The Decision Matrix

When you’re overwhelmed with options and variables, or you see no obvious choice out of several perfectly good ones, the decision matrix (also known as the decision-making grid or Pugh Method) works wonders.

Let’s say your company needs a CRM. You’ve shortlisted a few industry-leading solutions. Using the decision matrix, you can draw a complete, objective comparison of vendors based on the criteria most important to you, all in one neat little table.

Here’s how to make one:

  1. List your decision options. In this case, your vendors. Arrange them in rows.
  2. List the factors affecting your decision. What are some key considerations when choosing software? Make these your columns.
  3. Add an extra row for weight, and an extra column for total.

Your table might look something like this:

decision-matrix-1

  1. Score each option for each factor. How well does Vendor B satisfy ease of use, for example? Work your way down each column, scoring the vendors from 0 (poor) to 5 (rockstar). Be as objective as you can.
  2. Give each factor some weight. How important is the factor to your decision? Underneath, add a number from 0 (unimportant) to 5 (indispensable). (Not sure? Paired Comparison Analysis can help figure this out.)

For example:

decision-matrix-2

  1. Calculate your weighted scores. Multiply the scores from step 4 by the values in step 5 where they intersect. These are your weighted scores for each option/factor combination. Make them your new cell entries.
  2. Add up the weighted scores for each option. Pick the highest.

Using our example, Vendor E triumphs:

decision-matrix-3

It’s easiest to move things around and swap out figures using a Word or Excel template. You’ll find plenty of free templates and examples online, but these should get you started:

The Decision Tree

A decision tree is 1) a sort of pattern used in machine learning and data mining to map out algorithms, and 2) a flowchart any organization can use to map out the costs, benefits, and probabilities of every possible outcome at multiple stages of every decision within a decision.

Don’t worry. It isn’t as complicated as it sounds. We’ll use our CRM software example to illustrate.

The tree starts with a single square, the decision node, representing the decision to be made (source the world’s best CRM). The decision node branches off into possible actions or solutions (your CRM vendors).

decision-tree-1

The next nodes depend on results. If the outcome of choosing a vendor is uncertain, its branch ends with a circle, the chance node. If the vendor brings up another decision, its branch ends with a square and starts over.

decision-tree-2

Chance nodes branch into possible outcomes of each solution. Using customer satisfaction as an example metric, you might have a branch for “good” and “poor.”

On each branch, add the probability of each outcome as a percentage. At the end of the branch, add a cash value or score based on how much the outcome is worth. Use your best guess if you don’t have hard data.

decision-tree-3

Continue to expand your tree until every line reaches an end node (a triangle), meaning you’ve considered every possible outcome and decision that could come from the original decision.

Supposing we’re done with outcomes for this example, the result would look something like this:

decision-tree-4

Now you’re ready to begin calculating the value of each node. Working backward:

  1. Calculate the value of uncertain outcomes (circles) by multiplying their cash value by their good/poor probability. Jot down the total for each vendor. For Vendor A, that would be ($800,000 x 0.6) + ($7,000 x 0.4) = $482,800.
  2. Calculate the value of decisions (squares), first by noting the cost of each option. Subtract that cost from the value of the uncertain outcome. The result represents the benefit of the decision. Say Vendor A cost $100,000, its benefit would be $382,800.
  3. Go for the vendor with the biggest benefit, i.e., the largest number.

Take advantage of free trials from dedicated decision tree makers like Lucidchart, SmartDraw, or Zingtree before buying a plan. On a smaller budget, you can make basic flowcharts in Word.

Mental Models

A mental model is a framework or theory about how the world works. We use mental models to guide our everyday perception and behavior, but also as tools to see problems more rationally so we can take appropriate action.

The key, since you can’t explain every problem with one worldview, is to learn (and use a combination of) as many mental models as possible.

Experts say expanding your set of mental models is the best way to improve your analytical and decision-making skills. And chances are, you’ve already used one without knowing it had a name. Common models include:

  • Confirmation bias: the human tendency to interpret signs in ways that confirm what we already believe.
  • Inversion mental model: considering outcomes you want to avoid rather than pursue.
  • Opportunity costs: recognizing that every choice comes at the cost of another.

The Farnam Street Latticework of Mental Models details more than 100 of these frameworks, but according to James Clear, you need only master a few dozen to become a world-class thinker. This guide explores 14 of the most common.

The Decision-Making Process

The secret to efficient decision making? A structured, step-by-step approach. Various psychologists recommend anywhere between five and seven steps (think back to high school processes like GOFER and DECIDE) to an informed conclusion. Since this is the ultimate guide, you get an eight-step mishmash of them all.

Group Decision Making: How to Get a Team Involved

You can’t make every decision as an individual, of course. At some point, you’re going to need buy-in for an idea, or ideas from others.

Open discussions make great discussions, but in the wrong setting, they’re floodgates to conflicting opinions or inefficient brainstorming. The above process works well in teams, but can only go so far without using group (AKA collaborative) decision-making techniques as a basis.

You might already be familiar with a few formal approaches to group decision making, such as:

  • Consensus: Negotiating the decision until all group members understand and support it to some degree (not necessarily unanimously).
  • Voting: Making a decision by majority, by negative minority, or by ranking.
  • Decision by authority: Consulting the group for ideas and advice but making the final decision as an individual.

However, there’s no correct method for each team. Different situations call for different levels of participation.

Before the meeting, you have your own decisions to make. Which method will leave your team feeling best about the solution? Have you invited only the people who need to be involved? Here comes another decision tree: the Vroom-Yetton Decision Model. Based on seven qualifying questions (which, incidentally, can help determine whether you need to involve a group at all), the model will guide you to the most efficient decision-making style for your situation. 

Conclusion

By now you know that wise decisions rely on a lot more than instinct. But it’s not enough to memorize a bunch of techniques either. Hopefully, this guide has left you with a sense of what tool to apply to what problem.

A few final rules for mature and ethical decision-making:

  1. Overconfidence is not your friend.
  2. Don’t overthink it.  
  3. Don’t be afraid to use competitors’ experiences as benchmarks.
  4. Always be optimizing.

And if your decision turns out to be the wrong one, you probably need to generate more information or options. Keep calm, use that feedback loop, and think of your decision more as a journey than a destination.

5 Ways You’re Losing Good Candidates In The Recruitment Process

A candidate’s opinion of your organization will be shaped almost entirely by the recruitment process. Consider their first touch point with your company as a first date. While it’s crucial for the candidate to sweep the recruiter off their feet, recruiters often forget how important it is for them to create a positive impression in favor of the organization. This courtship is a two-way street, as unemployment rates across North America are steadily dropping, leaving a smaller pool of qualified and competent available job seekers.

After a bad candidate experience, 72% of job seekers report sharing their encounters online. This alone can severely diminish an organization’s brand equity and prevent future applicants from considering them as employers. In fact, 55% of job seekers report avoiding certain companies after reading negative reviews.

Every interaction with a candidate sends a clear message about the organization. Let’s examine some common recruitment mistakes, and the message they send to good candidates that might scare them away.

5 Ways You’re Losing Good Candidates In The Recruitment Process

1. Drawing Out the Recruitment Process

The interview process can be lengthily based on an organization’s hiring policies. The overall process can take an average of 23.7 days. While a great candidate might be considering your organization, they are likely considering other companies as well. By drawing out your process, you are communicating to a good candidate that not only are you still not sure about them, but they might not be your top pick. As a result, good candidates may withdraw themselves from the pool. Having multiple screening methods beyond the interview (IQ tests, presentations, panel interviews, etc.) can also slow down the process and create more hurdles that scare candidates away.

Eliminate any unnecessary steps or meetings, and make an offer as quickly as possible. Remember, if you string candidates along and treat them poorly, they will likely share this experience on sites like Glassdoor, so communicate transparently and frequently.

2. Showing Up Late/Unprepared to Interviews

Of course, uncontrollable circumstances can sometimes occur. However, if a candidate is taking time away from their job for an interview, the minimum requirement should always be that an organization is timely, prepared, and have read the candidate’s resume. Otherwise, the candidate might leave feeling as though the company does not value their time, and likely does not value the time of its employees. Be prompt with each interview, and don’t think that letting a candidate sit in the lobby while you answer emails won’t impact their overall impression!

3. Asking for Finished Work

Asking a candidate to produce similar work to that required of the job can be necessary when searching for a specific skill set. However, asking a candidate to produce real work that will be used in the business is unethical and should not be a best practice within your organization. This tells candidates that you’re comfortable taking advantage of the people you work with and you might not always be ethical in your business.

When asking candidates to submit an exercise to demonstrate their skill set, consider how long it will take them to complete this work. If it takes longer than a few hours, this request will likely be seen as unreasonable and will result in many qualified candidates removing themselves from the recruitment process.

4. Calling Them Without Setting Up a Time to Chat

In a traditional recruitment process, a recruiter would identify a list of resumes, and begin calling potential candidates. While calling a candidate is certainly quicker than writing up an email, it can become extremely invasive for individuals who are currently employed. Seventy percent of organizations utilize an open floor concept, which means most people can’t pick up their phones in private while they are at work. As a recruiter, you’ll know whether or not a candidate is currently employed, and calling them without setting up time over email might convey the impression that your organization is unprofessional and not considerate of their personal circumstances. When it comes to candidate preference, 79% of those surveyed prefer being contacted through email first.

5. Forgetting to Sell the Company and Opportunity

Finally, remember that as a recruiter, you are trying to sell a candidate on your organization. It’s important to be transparent about the realities of the job. It’s also crucial to share positive information about the culture, highlight their growth potential, and always ensure the candidate is completely informed of all aspects of the role they are interviewing for. Like in any sales cycle, you must close your candidate!

Losing good candidates to a bad recruitment process will not only damage your talent pipeline, but will influence how consumers interact with your brand and products in the long run. The best candidates understand that interviewing is a two way street, so information must always be shared both ways, and candidates must always be treated with respect and value!

This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and was re-published with permission.