6 Money Skills Every College Student Should Learn

first_imgGetting physically fit takes discipline, effort, and more than a little energy to get to where you want to be. Regularly moving your body and sticking to a fitness plan isn’t easy, and doing so is certainly commendable—and comes with… Full Story,Table of Contents Benefits of Working During Retirement Phased Retirement Types of Employment Recommended Jobs for Seniors  Resources for Seniors  Retirement looks different for everyone. Some people dream of playing golf and visiting their grandchildren, while others see it as… Full Story,A study conducted by Charles Schwab just last year found that three in five Americans live paycheck to paycheck, yet only one in four has a written financial plan. In fact, the majority of Americans are hesitant to receive any… Full Story,Life is unpredictable. Some days aren’t all sunshine, like when your car breaks down or your house needs a repair. These situations happen to everyone. That’s why it’s important to save while things are going well, so you can cover… Full Story,Structure is the key to growth. Without a solid foundation – and a road map for the future – it’s easy to spin your wheels and float through life without making any headway. Planning allows you to prioritize your time,… Full Story,Car accidents are not only scary but also a monumental hassle. That’s largely thanks to what comes after the accident itself.   After an accident, you’ll likely have to spend ample time on the phone with your insurer. Then there’s dealing… Full Story,If you’re a furloughed government employee, you are likely feeling a good deal of stress and uncertainty about how to manage your finances during the government shutdown. While missing a paycheck is a financial moment no one wants to experience,… Full Story,Buried underneath paying bills, digging out of a debt hole, and saving for your kids’ college is the marathon of money goals: retirement. Cue the fantasies of spending your days at a leisurely pace, working on The Great American Novel—at… Full Story,When I’m on top of finances, I’m all up in my money management apps, checking my balances and the swift progress I’ve been making on my savings goals. But when things aren’t going so hot? I’m like an ostrich with… Full Story,With all of today’s home-based tech gadgets and virtual personal assistants, smart homes are quickly becoming ubiquitous. And with high demand for connected products, so too comes ease of use, accessibility and affordability.   But as with all expenses, it’s important… Full Storylast_img read more

How Mint is Helping Users Prevent Overdraft Fees

first_imgAn overdraft fee can be a headache and often one of the most expensive fees from a bank. Minters, there’s a good chance that at some point in the last year, you have seen the dreaded “NSF Fee” transaction on your bank statement. Trust us, we’ve all been there, and we want to share an exciting update behind our overdraft prediction feature.For those unfamiliar with the term, NSF, or Non Sufficient Funds, is when a customer tries to make a purchase without enough funds in their bank account to cover the transaction. The amount overdrawn incurs interest at a rate determined by the account provider and likely some additional (hefty) fees. For example, on your bank account if you overdraw by a minimal amount, event $1, you may be on the hook for a $30 (or more!) NSF fee per the terms you agreed to when you signed on for your account.This can really add up. Every year, U.S. consumers pay more than $15 billion in fees for overdrafting their checking accounts. On Mint, we were able to see that $250 million in NSF Fees are paid out annually to our top 5 banks alone. With so many of you entrusting us with your financial data, it is our goal to give you plenty of notice to stop incurring these preventable charges.Our overdraft prediction feature is a smart technology leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict when you are likely to result in an overdraft in the next few days, based on your spending patterns. The feature is now open to Minters using the top 3 banks in the US. To date, we’ve sent more than 650,000 alerts and saved Minters over $900,000 a year.As our team continues to work to make our overdraft prediction more accurate, more timely, and available for more banks, we hope it provides you with the assurance that overdraft fees will no longer sneak up on you!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) RelatedHow Much Money Should You Keep in Your Checking Account?September 5, 2019In “Saving”A Simple Financial Spring Cleaning ChecklistApril 6, 2018In “Budgeting”Everything You Need to Know About Opening a Savings AccountNovember 29, 2018In “Saving” Post navigationlast_img read more

A New Coalition Will Prove Sustainable Cities Are Better for Growth, Better for Climate

first_imgCities are all about efficiency. It’s why they exist: to allow easy access to jobs, goods, services and ideas. However, in many countries, new and expanding cities are sprawling, car-dependent and uncoordinated – a set-up that’s not only inefficient, but carbon-intensive.Thankfully, a new vision for sustainable urban growth is spreading, emphasizing the economic and environmental benefits of compact, connected and coordinated cities. More efficient urban growth can drive a productive, equitable economy while limiting traffic accidents, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Wide consensus is forming among national and local leaders, who understand the economic case for an urban transition. But while we have agreed on a better vision for future cities, what remains to be seen is the “how” of the transition.To find these solutions, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, New Climate Economy and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group are teaming up to launch the Coalition for Urban Transitions. The Coalition, unveiled during today’s Climate Action 2016 Summit, will bring together global leaders and evidence-based solutions to make the economic case for a new model of urban development: one that is more productive, safer, healthier, more inclusive and lower carbon.Working with 20 partner organizations, the Coalition will develop a continuous stream of economic evidence and policy strategies to help national and local decision-makers working towards a transition. It will be championed by a high-profile Urban Leadership Group, expected to include members of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and other prominent city, national and international leaders.Together, these institutions and individuals span the globe. What they all share is a common purpose: unlocking a better urban future for all.This will be one of the first major international initiatives to focus on the economics of urban transitions, and will focus in particular on the role of national policymakers. Through high-level thought leadership and a series of country studies, the Coalition will help put effective urban infrastructure investment where it belongs—at the heart of national economic development planning.The Economic Case for Better UrbanizationAnalysis by the New Climate Economy finds that investing in public transit, building efficiency and waste management in cities could unlock an economic dividend worth almost $17 trillion by 2050 from energy savings alone – and that’s just a fraction of the wider benefits. This could also reduce carbon emissions each year by more than the current annual emissions of India.Evidence-based solutions like improved finance for infrastructure, integrated land-use planning, and transit-oriented development can empower sustainable, economically dynamic cities. For example, WRI Ross Center research shows that investing in sustainable transport could save as much as $300 billion per year, while C40’s Transit Oriented Development Network is advancing policies for integrated land use and transportation. Better Planning for Better CitiesIndividual cities often do not have the resources to carry out large-scale investments in smart urban infrastructure. Only 4 percent of the 500 largest cities in developing countries are deemed creditworthy in international financial markets.National governments, though, working hand-in-hand with cities and the private sector, can unlock the power of urban areas to invest and innovate. For example, national leaders and ministers can:Develop national urban infrastructure strategies (like China’s National Plan for New Urbanization) and set up integrated land use and transport authorities to more effectively plan and connect urban growth; Reduce or eliminate fossil fuel subsidies to remove incentives for car-centric development and encourage more sustainable transport; Change planning laws to encourage mixed-use development over sprawled, segmented cities; and Scale up innovative finance mechanisms to support large-scale urban infrastructure projects.National economic planning has too long ignored the real importance of cities, so that’s where the Coalition for Urban Transitions comes in. It will link city-level strategies with broader economic development planning, so that individual city efforts add up to more than the sum of their parts.Next StepsThe Coalition will work on the ground with three to five rapidly urbanizing countries on their national urban infrastructure and financing strategies. Potential countries include China, India and a number of rapidly urbanizing African, South Asian and Latin American economies. The work will be demand-driven, based on timely and relevant research, and done in close collaboration with key economic decisionmakers.There’s evidence this method of change works. Last year, the New Climate Economy collaborated with the Ethiopian government to inform its national level urbanization strategy. It found that Ethiopia’s development was too focused on its capital, Addis Ababa, at the expense of its other cities. The Unlocking the Power of Ethiopia’s Cities report mapped out potential city clusters and corridors of economic activity that could enhance the role of secondary cities without taking away from Addis’s growth. Policymakers incorporated this more efficient approach into Ethiopia’s new Five Year Growth and Transformation Plan, which is being implemented today.With the help of the Coalition for Urban Transitions, leaders at all levels can be empowered to transform cities through relevant research and locally appropriate policies. By working to inform economic development planning, we can have better cities, better growth and a better climate.For more information on the new initiative, visit www.coalitionforurbantransitions.org.last_img read more

6 Basic Questions to Ask When Picking an Email Marketing Solution

first_img Email Marketing Topics: There are all kinds of solutions out there, but I’m primarily focusing on software solutions that streamline your email marketing efforts, companies like Constant Contact, Emma, ExactTarget, MailChimp, Bronto and Vertical Response.  I am trying to cover the basic questions you should ask yourself and ask of the provider before you sign up.  If anyone has other ideas about basic questions (not overly detailed or technical ones) please leave a comment.What is the fee or cost-structure? Do you have to sign a long term contract?  Is it a SaaS model? I would not bother with any email marketing software you have to install and maintain yourself.  The main value of an email marketing system is the deliverability – they make sure your thousands of messages get into most people’s email boxes.  Do they price by the number of people on your list?  By the number of messages you send?  Build a simple model of what the service will cost you over the next 12 months.  If you have a big list but send emails infrequently, you might be better off paying per email, or if you have a small list and send weekly, you might want to pay by the size of your list.Can one person manage their solution and still utilize all the features of the software? How much time does it take?  This seems like an obvious one, but make sure you see a demo or use a free trial so you understand what it takes to implement an actual email marketing campaign. Your time is probably a lot more valuable than the amount of money you will spend on the tool, so make sure it is quick and easy to use.  You may find that you’re paying for features you don’t need, or won’t have the time to leverage.  Or worse, you may need specific features that are not part of the package you purchase.Does it have the metrics and tracking you need?  Email marketing is all about testing, measuring and improving.  At HubSpot, we do Internet marketing, so we always conduct tests of different email subject lines, different content, different calls to action, etc.  Here’s a quick list of features you’ll probably want to have: (1) Tracking click-through rates (2) Tracking open rates – though reliable open rate data is becoming harder and harder to get (3) This is more advanced, but A/B testing can be important – How easy is it to split your email list so that you can test different subject lines and different content, and (4) Layout and design controls – how easy is it for you to make a nice looking email that will convert well?  Does the provider put their logo at the bottom of the emails?  Can it be removed?What is the process for post-sale customer support? What about consulting services?  Again, just like with any software application, having customer support after the sale is crucial. You don’t want to be left by the wayside with a robust email application, a campaign that needed to go out five minutes ago, and a blazing fire that you can’t put out because you don’t have the appropriate customer support channels from your provider.  Do they have an 800# conspicuously posted on their website?  The most frustrating thing is to need to send out a campaign today nd not be able to contact a support person quickly to get an answer to your question.How will their application ensure you comply with email laws?  This is the technical side of email marketing that could be considered boring if you’re not into things like U.S. CAN SPAM law compliance issues. Who doesn’t love a good compliance issues conversation?  Most of the big providers are OK, but you should check if you are using someone less well known.  You are the one held liable for violations.  A couple quick reminders – legally, every email needs to have a method to unsubscribe, and also include a physical address of your business and phone number.What about managing bounce rates? What about unsubscribes?  Another important task is managing your unsubscribes.  Make sure their application offers an easy-to-use unsubscribe system.  The quickest way to annoy a prospect is to send them an email after they have unsubscribed, or to make the unsubscribe process difficult.Whether you’re in a B2B or B2C market, you need to be utilizing smart email marketing tactics. While I believe that more and more the right way to communicate with prospects is through a blog that uses RSS and email updates to your subscribers, email marketing is still an effective tool when used properly and sparingly. Originally published Feb 8, 2008 10:48:00 AM, updated October 30 2019 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Shocking Edelman Survey Results Reveal Less Trust in Social Media Referrals

first_img , which highlights some findings regarding .  So do these findings about the decline in peer-to-peer trust completely undermine the power of referrals? Public relations firm Edelman recently released its Download our Learn more about inbound marketing and how to combine blogging, SEO and social media for results. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, people still need to hear things in five different places before they actually believe it.  Therefore, a social media referral isn’t the be-all, end-all.  People still look to different sources before making decisions.  Allocate your marketing budget smartly by putting some aside for social media interaction and dedicating some to other One possibility includes the reach of social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  Now that social networks are increasing in popularity, users are maintaining larger groups of “friends” that include more casual acquaintances, possibly dulling the credibility of peer networks. It’s no longer a matter of trusting the opinion just because it’s the opinion of a peer.  Now people are less likely to trust an opinion unless it’s from a person they inbound marketing kit word of mouth marketing Another possibility?  Now that marketers are getting a firm grasp on social media, consumers are becoming more skeptical about the influences behind peer referrals.  Again, this skepticism increases if it’s the opinion of a peer they don’t really know. . continue to carry their weight in social media.  Still, something has to have changed since 2008, right?        Not exactly.  As we mentioned in this morning’s post, know. social media marketingcenter_img 2010 Trust Barometer I don’t know about you, but as social media continues to be a marketing hot topic, I’ve seen a lot of discussion emphasizing the importance of company/product referrals and that may shock you.   inbound marketing initatives Be smart about your social media interactions. Why the decline in peer-to-peer trust? Originally published Feb 8, 2010 12:23:00 PM, updated July 18 2013 referrals from friends For marketers, this means that building credibility in people’s social media reactions is crucial. The best way to do this is by creating valuable content that people will want to share with their networks. Inbound Marketing Kit like creating content. According to the latest survey, the number of people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of information about a company has dropped from 45% in 2008 to 25% in 2010, decreasing almost by half! Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

20 Brand New Comedy Videos! “HubSpot Originals” Trailer [Video]

first_img Webinar: How to Use Online Video for Inbound Marketing Tuesday at 12:00pm EDT, we’ll be launching a new video as part of the series. Every Topics: subscribe to our YouTube page . Get ready for some video entertainment that’s a bit edgy and absolutely hilarious. (Also, we’re quite proud that the majority of the actors are HubSpot employees!) How do you get started with YouTube, video podcasting, live streaming, or viral videos.center_img Originally published Apr 6, 2010 12:00:00 PM, updated July 04 2013 Download the free webinar Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Be sure to tune into the blog, or For the past month, the HubSpot marketing team has been working with stellar video producer @ WoodyTondorfto create a series of 20 comedy shorts. Woody is formerly of HBO Labs, as well as the mastermind of Streamy-nominated web show ” Elevator.”      to learn how to use online video to grow your business with inbound marketing.last_img read more

5 Marketing Lessons from Netflix

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Originally published Apr 27, 2011 2:17:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 This week, video distribution company Netflix announced its first quarter earning . With the announcement came an important milestone for the company: Netflix now has more paying subscribers than Comcast, the largest cable television provider in the United States. How did a company that sent DVDs in the mail become one of the largest media distribution companies in the world? Looking at Netflix’s growth, we drew five valuable lessons for marketers.5 Marketing Lessons From Netflix 1. Create Ubiquity – Overtime, Netflix created ways to distribute content in the formats its customers wanted: DVDs, computer, tablet, smart phone, TV, etc. Netflix understands that different customers and prospects have different needs. While working to solve for customer needs, Netflix also built an ubiquitous platform for delivering premium video content. Marketing Takeaway: In a world of inbound marketing, it is important to create this same type of distribution ubiquity with marketing content. For example, is your website usable on a smart phone? Prospects want to interact with your business in different ways so it is critical you provide these opportunities. 2. Market a Minimum Viable Product – Netflix was a DVD-by-mail business until it made the bold decision to start streaming video content. However, when the Netflix started its streaming service, it wasn’t full of the same content that was available via mail. Instead, it was only a small portion of its content, but that didn’t stop the company from actively promoting it to new and existing users. Marketing Takeaway: It is easy to drop an idea or a campaign because it isn’t “ready.” Netflix has taught us that “ready,” really, never happens: many people are still not satisfied with the content available through their streaming video service. However, this hasn’t stopped Netflix from meeting and exceeding its goals as a company.  Marketers should follow Netflix’s example and release ideas early and continue to improve upon them overtime. 3. Give Prospects What They Don’t Know They Want – When Netflix began streaming videos, their DVD-by-mail business was thriving and most customers were happy to wait a day or two to get their next DVD. With streaming content, Netflix reset customer expectations and solved a problem that customers didn’t even realize they had. By launching streaming before huge customer demand emerged, Netflix was able to focus on how they wanted to solve the problem versus directly addressing customer complaints. Marketing Takeaway: Marketers spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what potential customers want. Often times, what is best for your business and for your customers isn’t even on their radar. In a crowded social Web, sometimes marketers must be the genesis of an idea and sell and distribute it to prospects. 4. Quickly Abandon Dying Platforms – What would Netflix’s business look like today if they were still only mailing DVDs? Netflix understood that usage and adoption of DVDs would gradually decline and worked aggressively to increase adoption of streaming video. Marketing Takeaway: Not all forms of marketing remain effective. As a marketer, you need to have clear analytics and return on investment metrics for both outbound and inbound marketing strategies. Once you can predict a prolonged decrease in results, consider reallocating marketing budget to other tactics that are increasing in value and adoption. 5. Publish and Distribute – Recently, Netflix made an interesting announcement. The company funded the production of a new show called “House of Cards,” featuring Kevin Spacey. This move marked a major transition for the company – it took them from a mere content distribution company to a business that creates and distributes video content. This move puts Netflix in direct competition with companies like HBO and Showtime. Marketing Takeaway: Value lies in vertical integration. The way Netflix is now in competition with HBO and Showtime, every business should consider itself in direct competition with their industry’s leading trade magazine. The Internet has democratized publishing. Marketers need to develop a strategy for creating content related to their business and industry as well as building reach through blog subscribers, social media and email lists. Leverage this reach and content and act as a vertically-integrated pubisher for your industry. What lessons would you add to this list? Marketing Case Studieslast_img read more

Should Business Owners Outsource Social Media? [Marketing Cast]

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Are you planning on outsourcing blogging and social media engagement? Test to See If You Are Good at It If You Aren’t Good at it, Consider Outsourcing Originally published May 23, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated October 18 2015 Finding the right person to manage your company’s social media presence can be a challenge. Should your CEO be blogging? Who should be tweeting? “What’s more important,” says David Meerman Scott, “is do you have something to say?” Social Media Topics: Do you like writing emails? Do you care about crafting a well-written email that people will be interested in reading? “In that case,” David says, “you will probably make a good blogger.” If you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t enjoy blogging either. You, yourself, don’t have to be on social networks, David notes. But your business should. So how do you decide whether social media should be an in-house responsibility or something you outsource? Here are a few quick tips: If you are thinking about outsourcing, the right people to hire would be professional journalists. Don’t outsource to the so-called social media experts, David advises. Reporters are great at telling stories that are interesting to readers. Inbound Marketing Another test: before you start blogging and tweeting, start leaving comments on blogs similar to what you want to launch. That will give you an idea of what it takes to engage an audience on these channels. If you find you like that, you will most likely be successful at blogging and increasing engagement through social media.last_img read more

The Sales Game Has Changed: Here’s How to Adapt

first_img Originally published Apr 3, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack This is a guest post written by Dave Kurlan, a top rated speaker, best selling author, and sales development thought leader. His top-rated business blog, Understanding the Sales Force, is read by thousands of sales and marketing leaders.The sales profession has come a long way — and I’ll venture to say that much of the changes have occurred as recently as the last 5 years. Technology adoption among consumers has picked up pace; marketers have changed their lead generation and engagement tactics to shift towards a less interruptive, more invitational focus; and sales professionals have had to adapt their sales methods to communicate with a consumer who has gotten better at dodging their calls. In fact, what Salesforce.com calls the Social Enterprise starts with developing a Customer Social Profile and interacting in modern ways. Let’s dive into how the sales game has changed in recent years, and the tools sales professionals have used with success to adapt to this new landscape.How the Sales Game Has ChangedSo just how much has selling changed in the last five years? Everyone has their own opinion, but I would say, “A lot!” Consider the following circumstances that were infrequent or nonexistent just a few years ago, and are now a constant scourge for sales and marketing professionals.The recent economic crisis changed the way that businesses and consumers spend money. We were embarrassed into controlling our discretionary spending, conducting more due diligence, and being more price-conscious. The result? There is considerably more resistance to what is being sold, while there is significantly less money available to spend.The internet has made information, once only available from salespeople, accessible to everyone with an internet connect or phone. The result? Salespeople are being invited into the buying process much later, are expected to present and propose, and then wind up chasing the business. There are remedies for this, but they aren’t simple to learn, and salespeople aren’t able to put them into practice without training and coaching help.Prospects don’t answer their phones or return calls anymore. The result? It’s more difficult than ever for salespeople to connect by phone, even when following up on inbound leads.Tools and Technology Sales Professionals Use to Overcome These New HurdlesThat’s all of the bad news. But there’s good news to compensate for some of this: Sales and Marketing have started working in better alignment and finding tools to help get in contact with leads that are actually excited (or at the very least, not annoyed) to talk with them. In other words, successful salespeople have found a way to have a two-way conversation instead of a sales pitch using great new technology that has developed over the past several years. Here’s how they are doing it:1) Utilize the nuanced features of LinkedIn. If you’re a B2B marketer, LinkedIn should be an invaluable source of lead generation for your business. LinkedIn has made it easier than ever to be proactive about getting introduced to new opportunities. Our clients use LinkedIn in several ways to get introduced to prospects that may be useful for you, too:Explore who your contacts know, and ask for introductions to people who fit your target audience.Reach out directly to 2nd- and 3rd-level contacts, referencing the 1st-level contact you have in common.Join groups where your target audience hangs out, answering questions, and contacting people who have issues with which you can help.Use LinkedIn Answers as a way to ask and answer questions; you’ll gain visibility and credibility and be able to identify people who have problems you can help solve.Reach out to members who have recently viewed your profiles and ask how they found you and what interested them about your profile.Congratulate 1st-level contacts who have updated their profiles — especially if they’ve changed jobs and/or companies — to learn about new opportunities for doing business together.Post links to your articles, blogs, events, and lead generating offers to drive site traffic and generate leads.2) Don’t ignore the less popular social tools. I’ve found one of the most useful social sales tools to be Reachable.com, though there are certainly others that have worked wonders (share yours in the comments). In short, Reachable shows you how to get introduced to people you don’t know. Let’s say you have a business development deal that could appeal to, say, Tim Cook at Apple, but you don’t have an introduction to him. From inside Reachable, you enter your name and Tim’s name, and Reachable will instantly render a visual map of your network, showing people in your network that are between you and Tim, as well as the best route to take to get introduced.3) Remember that blogging isn’t just for marketers. Some organizations think of business blogging as a marketing function, but if sales professionals write blog posts, they’ll instantly gain more credibility to prospects. It differentiates you from most salespeople who, instead of creating educational content, are spending time on the phones — that element of trust will help get you more call-backs. It also helps you generate better visibility; my own blog has more than 800 articles, so it becomes more and more likely, with each passing day, that one of my articles will turn up in somebody’s Google search results on queries related to my industry.4) Leverage lead generating and lead nurturing tools. We use lead generation and nurturing tools like Hubspot’s inbound marketing software to make it easier to generate quality leads — but to do it, we stay dedicated to creating new blog content, lead gen offers, and optimized landing pages. As a result of the blogging platform and rich suite of analytical tools combined with our dedication to creating content and landing pages, our incoming leads have increased one hundred times over, going from 15 to around 500 leads per quarter. And when those leads are followed up with via email using targeted lead nurturing content, Forrester Research and Annuitas Group report that organizations can generate up to 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost — and those leads make 47% larger purchases, too.5) Stay organized with a CRM. CRM tools like Salesforce.com and Landslide make it easier to memorialize, track, and stay on top of opportunities in the sales pipeline. Sales professionals using tools like these stay true to their sales process — the tool requires it — enter more relevant notes into the system because the fields have been predefined by Sales and Marketing, have much greater success with follow-up, and management has a dashboard that provides real-time statistics on the pipeline, its balance, movement, and forecast. The reports based on that information provide statistically accurate fodder for coaching and accountability.6) Use video as a sales assist. Video content can feel more personal than written content, and it helps sales organizations tremendously as a follow-up content asset. While you can certainly leverage your YouTube channel, there are also professional video hosting sites like Wistia that allow you to manage your videos, embed compelling messages on your web site and even in your emails, so you can more effectively tell your story. We send links to prospective clients so they can view short but powerful and professional video clips to either get them engaged or continue a conversation.7) Track prospect engagement with email attachments. Content tracking sites like Visible Gains allow you to measure how engaged prospects are with your email attachment content — key for sales people who rely on sending proposals and educational material that is often in PDF format. You can create personal pages for your prospects and instead of attaching files to your emails, you’ll send a link to the personal page you created for them and get insight into what they view, when they view it, and how often they return to it. Applications like this let you know exactly how engaged, interested, and serious your prospects are.Have the Changes to Professional Selling Leveled Off?No; actually, I anticipate there is still more change to come. The biggest change in the works is the great migration to inside sales. It’s far more efficient and significantly less costly to have an inside sales force rather than an outside sales force. But this transition isn’t a clean one. Certain business models generate customers that must see their salespeople on a very frequent basis. For others, being inside means they can reach 10 customers each day instead of two. For most companies then, the big challenge becomes not only whether to make this move to inside sales, but to what degree, and over what period of time. Even more important is what happens to the outside salesperson that is “moved” inside. Should that remote, outside sales person be replaced with a local, inside salesperson? Should that person simply work from their home office, or is that person relocated?Despite a steady stream of sales professionals looking for work, there has been a recent decline in the availability of good sales talent. New strategies and tools for finding, attracting, interviewing, selecting, hiring, and on-boarding have become necessary just to fill existing openings before new positions can be constructed.All in all, there has been tremendous change with more to come. If you manage a sales force and want to get ahead of the curve, you might be interested in attending my Annual Sales Leadership Executive Event.Have you noticed a shift in the sales landscape, for better or for worse? Share what you’ve noticed and how you’ve coped with those changes.Image credit: f_shields Topics: Inbound Sales (Marketing)last_img read more

The Marketer’s Ultimate Guide to Link Bait

first_img Link Building Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Can we please come up with some better terminology for the concept of ‘link bait,’ already? It just sounds so … slimy. For me, it conjures up thoughts of those evil bait-and-switch advertising schemes.But I’m going to say it loud and proud — “Not all link bait is bad!” So while it may get a bad rap as low-quality, lazy, or misleading content, I’ll admit that I support the creation of an awesome, white-hat link bait post from time to time. And heck … so does Google’s own Matt Cutts himself ! What Is Link Bait? According to Matt Cutts, you can simply think of link bait as “something interesting enough to catch people’s attention…And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” he adds.Now, if Matt Cutts’ endorsement isn’t enough to convince you that you don’t have to feel like a sleaze ball to create some link bait, I’m not sure what will. Maybe Brian Clark of Copyblogger can sway you with his stance on the topic ? He believes that link bait is “just a sexy term for high-quality content that benefits the reader,” even if he does admit that the term is pretty darn “inelegant.” And I’m sure most experts would agree. Sure, the concept of link bait is a little bit subjective, and marketers should consider link bait as any piece of content that generates significantly more links and traffic than the average piece of content they publish. But more on that later.The term seems to have originated from the SEO world, referring to content that is effective for attracting inbound links to your website, thus boosting your off-page SEO. But we’re not really here to debate the negative connotations or the history of the term ‘link bait.’ If you want a brief history lesson, check out Clark’s article . Instead, let’s use this article to talk about why link bait is so effective, how it can benefit your marketing, and how you can approach creating top-notch link bait content that your readers love … and value. Why We’re Sold on Link Bait at HubSpot At HubSpot, we’ve known for a while — anecdotally — that link bait content is extremely beneficial to our business blogging efforts. But we never really looked at the numbers. So I decided to dig into HubSpot’s Blog Analytics and do a quick and simple analysis on the success of what we can consider to be the ‘link bait’ content we’ve published on this very blog. HubSpot’s Link Bait Analysis I looked at all articles we’ve published to this blog during the span of 1 year — from July 2011 through June 2012. For the purposes of my analysis, I defined ‘link bait’ as any post that has generated at least 50 inbound links since it was originally published, but it’s important to note that you might define link bait differently depending on how much traction your blog typically gets. For example, if the average article on your blog typically gets 2 inbound links, maybe 15 inbound links would be your benchmark for link bait success.Once I sorted the articles by the number of inbound links they’ve generated, I averaged the number of page views each category of articles (those with at least 50 inbound links compared to those with fewer than 50 inbound links) generated. What I learned was, articles that have accumulated at least 50 inbound links average 500% more views than articles that have attracted fewer than 50 inbound links. Not too shabby, huh? Why Link Bait Rocks As is evident from our internal analysis, link bait content can be extremely beneficial to your marketing. Here are 3 powerful reasons why: 1) Increased Search Rankings Because link bait content is so interesting, it’s usually very effective for generating inbound links (remember, it’s called link bait for a reason). After all, people are way more likely to link back to something if they find it interesting. As a result, link bait content is extremely powerful for boosting your website’s off-page SEO , which we know is the most influential way to increase your organic search rankings. So as you’re creating content you predict will make great link bait, be sure you’re optimizing it using the keywords you want to rank for in search. This will help you leverage your link bait content to boost your rankings for the keywords you want to get found for in search. 2) Tons of (Sustainable) Traffic … & Conversion Opportunities! Because link bait content is interesting, there’s usually a level of virality to it, since people will naturally want to share it with their connections. As a result, link bait content is also usually a major traffic driver, as is evident from our internal analysis of HubSpot’s own link bait content. And the more traffic you generate to your blog, the more visitors you have the opportunity to convert into leads and customers! Just be sure your blog is optimized for conversion: use calls-to-action for your top marketing offers on every blog post as well as in your blog’s top/sidebar(s). As a bonus, because link bait content has the tendency to rank well in search, the traffic it generates is usually very sustainable , since searchers will continue to stumble upon your link bait content long after it was originally published. HubSpot’s blog, for example, still generates regular traffic and leads from link-bait articles we originally published several years ago. Talk about a return on investment! 3) Exposure to New Audiences Remember how we talked about how link-bait content is usually very sharable? Because this is so, link bait has a lot of potential to expose your business and your content to entirely new audiences you might not have reached otherwise. Thus, it helps you grow the top of your funnel, expanding your reach and attracting new blog readers. And even if these new readers will never buy from you, increasing your reach and growing your following definitely has its benefits .    Link Bait: What Works? As we mentioned earlier, what any given marketer considers to be link bait is going to vary from business to business, industry to industry, and audience to audience. The key is to experiment with ideas you suspect will be successful for your particular blog, regularly conduct analyses like the one I did above, and learn from what tends to work as link bait for you. And just like setting out to create something that will definitely absolutely “go viral” is unrealistic, setting out to create link bait is never a given. The best you can do is emulate the qualities of content that have typically led to tons of inbound links and traffic for you in the past … and cross your fingers. Only after your article has been published will you know if it was truly successful as link bait.So if you’re just starting to figure out what has historically made successful link bait content for marketers, here are some ideas to get you going, each accompanied by a successful link bait example from the HubSpot blog: 1) Original, Striking Data Publishing original data is not only a great tactic for earning media coverage — it can also make great link bait fodder. If you’re a business that has access to original data that you can analyze to expose, add to, or refute an industry topic or trend, take advantage of it! If not, maybe there’s an opportunity to partner with a research firm instead. HubSpot Example: LinkedIn 277% More Effective for Lead Generation Than Facebook & Twitter [New Data] (41K views, 239 inbound links) 2) Controversial Content Who doesn’t love a little heated debate? Controversial content usually garners a lot of attention, so if you have an opinion on a controversial issue, you might have some link bait fodder on your hands. Your content doesn’t even have to be centered around a radical opinion to leverage the power of controversy, either; it could just present a bit of data that refutes a common assumption your audience might have.Just don’t go overboard with the controversy (you do still want to be likeable, right?), and don’t be controversial just for the sake of being controversial. Make sure you’re passionate about the stance you’re taking, and always try to lean on data to back up your claims, like the post below does. HubSpot Example: 63% of B2B Companies Don’t Generate Leads From Social Media [New Data] (5K views, 53 inbound links) 3) Being the Most Comprehensive (Or First) Resource on a Popular Topic Taking a topic you know performs well on your blog and publishing the most comprehensive post about it on the web (or at least attempting to) can make for a great link bait win. Is there a popular topic in your industry that few have written about (or written about well) where you see an opportunity? Jump on it! Even better if you can be one of the first to produce comprehensive content on a trending topic, as we did in our Pinterest example below, just as Pinterest was gaining traction as a marketing tool. HubSpot Examples: The Ultimate Facebook Marketing Cheat Sheet (51K views, 4K inbound links); The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pinterest for Marketing (36K views, 248 inbound links) 4) Visual Content Visual content is all the rage in marketing these days, especially when it comes to social media marketing. So it’s no wonder it makes excellent link bait content. Just take infographics, for instance. When looking at the same set of HubSpot blog articles I analyzed in the beginning of this post, I also took a look at the performance of blog posts containing infographics compared to all other posts.What I found was, blog articles that included infographics generated an average of 178% more inbound links and 72% more views than all other posts. And many of those posts contained third-party infographics that we simply shared on our blog because we thought our audience would find them interesting — in other words, they weren’t necessarily HubSpot-original infographics. And visual content doesn’t have to take the form of infographics to be link bait-friendly, either. Sometimes posts that consist of a curation of awesome visual examples (like the example we share below) can work out just as well. Other types of visual, link-bait content you can create include cartoons or content/concept visualizations . HubSpot Example: 17 Examples of Creative Facebook Page Cover Photos (19K views, 56 inbound links) 5) Content That’s Creative, Entertaining, or Fun This content goes far because it’s usually easy to consume, great fodder for sharing, quick to scan, requires little thought (on your readers’ end), and well … it’s FUN! Think music videos or just content that leverages pop culture references or emerging, mainstreamed trends, like our example below. HubSpot Example: Memejacking: The Complete Guide to Creating Memes for Marketing (5K page views, 237 inbound links) 6) A Title People Simply Can’t Help Themselves From Clicking (Accompanied by Awesome Content) Don’t gloss over the text within those parentheses. The important thing to remember about this one is, you can have a really intriguing title that people just can’t help but to click, but if the content within doesn’t live up to that title, it won’t achieve link bait status. If your title is overly sensational and hyperbolic, yet the content it alludes to is barely average, you’ll undermine your credibility and lose readers’ interest in your content altogether. HubSpot Example: 15 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website (28K views, 92 inbound links) Remember: Quality, Value, and Balance Should Still Matter By now, you should be pretty convinced that link bait isn’t always some evil, black-hat marketing tactic you need to avoid like the plague. But that doesn’t mean all link bait is high quality , or that you can’t abuse it. After all, link bait had to get its bad rap from somewhere, right?Before you set off to create a piece of content you think will make great link bait, make sure your answer to the question, “Will my audience still find this valuable?” is “Absolutely!” And remember, there is such thing as ‘entertainment value,’ too.Furthermore, think of your blog like a well-balanced diet. If you feed your blog readers the same diet of lean meat, hearty grains, and nutricious vegetables all the time and deny them of any sort of dessert (or variety), even though it might be good for them, they might also start looking for a new chef. So go ahead — give your readers some candy every once in a while. Just don’t give them too much, or their teeth will rot. Are you incorporating link bait into your business blog ‘s content mix? What results have you seen? Originally published Jul 18, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics:last_img read more

Are You Screwing Up Your Twitter Images? 7 Do’s and Don’ts to Live By

first_img Originally published Jul 22, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 What other Twitter image do’s and don’ts should people know?  Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Just posted a photo http://t.co/lmByEY8T7Q— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 11, 20145) Do use photo collages to upload up to 4 pictures at once.Twitter recently came up with a new feature allowing you to add up to four pictures to your tweet in a collage. So the next time you use an image, think about whether or not your tweet could be improved by having more than one picture. It isn’t always the right or necessary thing to use a your collage, but it can add some more flair to your tweet and attract more attention from your followers. Here’s an example of what a collage looks like:center_img Twitter Images 14,000 already registered for the World’s Largest Webinar! Save your seat: http://t.co/Nr7M6B9q2Q #WLW14 pic.twitter.com/aUAVCQcHPg— HubSpot (@HubSpot) April 8, 20146) Don’t use photos that could be interpreted as offensive.There is a fine line between funny and offensive, and it is important for brands to not offend their followers. Before you post a joke, consider how all of your followers will react to it. Similarly, if you are posting an image relating to a current event, ask yourself the same question. How will your followers react to it?7) Do use images as a way to squeeze in extra characters.Sometimes it is hard to squeeze in everything you want to say in one tweet. But when you use images, you actually get some more real estate to add additional text to your tweet. For example, back in January, we ran the 30-Day Blog Challenge. To promote the contest on Twitter, we tweeted pictures of advice from seasoned bloggers. If you are tweeting a contest or something else where you really want to get more words in there, consider using images to help you get there.30-Day Blog Challenge Tip #26: Speak Visually http://t.co/PFkWHRI9aJ #blogfor30 pic.twitter.com/kILzaD9yoA— HubSpot (@HubSpot) January 27, 2014 Images are crucial to making your marketing stand out, especially on Twitter. Ever since Twitter made photos automatically display in-stream, they’ve been helping marketers get even more results out of the 140-character social network — in fact, an A/B test we ran found that tweets with images get 55% more leads.Though images themselves can help boost your presence, some are better than others. It’s not just enough to slap any ol’ image onto a tweet — you need to choose the right image. But what does right really mean? Let’s dig into it. Keep on reading to learn some essential do’s and don’ts for using images on Twitter. 1) Do use proper Twitter image dimensions.When you upload new images for your Twitter header image, profile picture, or tweets, there are certain dimensions you must stay within to make sure your images look great. Your header image should be 1500 pixels wide x 500 pixels tall, your profile picture should be 400 pixels x 400 pixels, and your tweet images should be 876 pixels wide x 438 pixels tall to show up properly in your Twitter timeline.When you upload a photo you have the option to crop it to these sizes, but it is helpful if you do this in advance so nothing gets cut off. You should also keep in mind that the profile picture covers a small section of your header image, so make sure to design accordingly.2) Don’t lose out on the opportunity to include a picture when you link to an article.When you use an image, it stands out in your followers’ streams. Twitter users follow thousands of accounts, and only using text with links can make someone get lost. Images help change that.You don’t need an image in every tweet that you post, but if you are linking to an article, there is most likely an image that you can use to complement the link — usually an image from the article or something relating to that article. 3) Do use a Twitter header image that best reflects your brand.The next time you update your Twitter header image, think about how the image you select reflects your brand. When someone lands on your Twitter profile, what will your header image say about you? It should reflect your personality and give an indication of what your company actually does. Let’s take JetBlue for example. What do you think their header image is trying to convey? To me, it shows that JetBlue isn’t your typical airline. They have a fun and engaging brand (and crew). It also tells me that if I use their airline, I won’t have an experience like those with any other airline. All of this conveyed just through an image!4) Don’t push images directly from Instagram to Twitter.When you upload a picture on Instagram, you have the option to push it to Twitter to share with all of your followers — that doesn’t mean you should. A while back, Twitter stopped showing Instagram photos. Instead, Instagram photos pushed to Twitter show up in tweets as links. The next time you take a picture on Instagram and want it to go to Twitter, take the extra time to post the picture separately so it appears as an image in your Twitter stream instead of just a link. You can also use Zapier to automatically do this. Looks like LeBron should have set up a Zap!last_img read more

7 Customer Loyalty Programs That Actually Add Value

first_imgDid you know it costs a business about 5-25X more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one?Not only that, but existing customers spend 67% more than new customers. In short, customer loyalty really pays off — and customer loyalty programs end up paying for themselves.Access Now: 20 Review Response TemplatesIn light of statistics like these, businesses need to think about what they are doing to keep their customers coming back to their business. 82% of U.S. adults say they’re loyal to brands, and if you’re like more than half of the brands surveyed by L2, your company has already implemented a loyalty program.In this post, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about customer loyalty: what it is and why it’s important, and all about customer loyalty programs and the value they can add for your customers and your business.What is customer loyalty?Customer loyalty is a customer’s willingness to buy from or work with a brand again and again, and it’s the result of a positive customer experience, customer satisfaction, and the value of the products or services the customer gets from the transaction. Topics: Originally published Oct 9, 2019 9:58:45 AM, updated October 09 2019 According to The Loyalty Report 2017, the average consumer is involved in 14 loyalty programs, but have the capacity to engage with only seven. Companies lose money on time and effort, and customers get no more value from the businesses to which they are “loyal.”So how do you keep your business out of that segment? How do you convey enough additional value in your programs to keep your customers coming back?It’s time to look beyond convoluted rewards systems and offer actual value to customers using their loyalty program. Here are some ideas for building a customer loyalty program that might work for your business.Best Customer Loyalty ProgramsSephora Beauty INSIDER & VIBVirgin Atlantic Flying ClubAmazon PrimeTOMS One for OneAmerican Express PlentiSwarm PerksREI Co-opApple 1. Sephora’s Beauty Insider & VIB ProgramsSephora, a cosmetics brand, is an example of a company who does the points-based loyalty program well. Customers swipe their stylish Beauty Insider card at every purchase, and the card tracks the amount of money spent. Every dollar spent earns the member one Beauty Insider point, and shoppers can redeem points for beauty supply items at checkout. Sephora speaks the language of its audience by measuring points in dollars, and rewards in cosmetic items.For its more loyal customers, Sephora also offers VIB and VIB Rouge programs that offer customers even more rewards if they spend enough money at Sephora to reach a certain threshold. It scales up the rewards according to how much the customer spends — which is, of course, a great incentive to keep on shopping.Source: Sephora2. Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubIn addition to earning miles, Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club allows members to earn tier points. The club inducts members at the Club Red tier, then bumps them up to Club Silver and then Club Gold.Club Red members earn miles on flights and get discounts on rental cars, airport parking, hotels, and holiday flights.Club Silver members earn 50% more points on flights and have access to expedited check-in and priority stand-by seating.Club Gold members get double miles, priority boarding, and access to exclusive clubhouses where they can grab a drink or get a massage before their flight.Seem complicated? Virgin Atlantic created a comprehensive benefits table so customers can easily understand the extra benefits they’ll receive as they move from Red to Silver to Gold. The key is to offer benefits in the early stages to hook the customer into coming back. Once they do, they’ll realize that “gold” status isn’t unattainable and offers really cool benefits.Source: Virgin Atlantic3. Amazon PrimeFor $119 a year, Amazon Prime users get free, two-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum purchase, among other benefits.Why is this a great example? Because it provides enough value to frequent shoppers for them to feel like it’s really benefitting them. Actually, analysts estimate Amazon loses $1-2 billion per year on Prime. But the company makes up for it in increased transaction frequency: According to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 per year on Amazon.com, compared with $625 per year spent by Amazon customers who aren’t Prime members.Source: Amazon PrimeAdditionally, after its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Amazon announced it would also offer free 2-hour grocery delivery to Prime members in certain areas — as well as additional in-store grocery discounts available only to Prime members. Of course, they did announce this news around the time they also announced Prime’s membership cost would increase by $20 a year, but Amazon made sure to provide even more rewards for being loyal — even in spite of a price increase.4. TOMS One for OneTOMS Shoes is dedicated to providing resources to communities in need — namely, shoes. The brand is dedicated to “improving lives” and promise that, for every item purchased, TOMS will help a person in need. The initiative started with TOMS donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased, but the initiative has grown to help ensure clean water access, improving maternal health care, and supporting other organizations through themed products — like the elephant-dotted TOMS I once purchased that shared profits with the Wildlife Conservation Society.Source: TOMS5. American Express Plenti ProgramAmerican Express has a huge partner base with companies across the country. The company’s Plenti program, launched in May 2015, lets consumers pool their rewards from various retailers like Macy’s, AT&T, Rite Aid, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hulu, and more. Plenti members earn points for shopping at these stores and redeem points at these stores by linking their existing store loyalty card to their Plenti account. For example, customers can use Plenti points they’ve earned from something like renting a car from Enterprise in order to pay their AT&T phone bill.Flexibility is the biggest appeal here for customers, since points can be earned and redeemed at a variety of retailers. According to Fortune Magazine, “For the companies, even ones like Macy’s that already have huge loyalty programs, Plenti is a way to tap into the broader customer base of its partners, save on program costs, and lift sales by offering a more appealing program to customers.”Source: Interbrand6. Swarm PerksSwarm, a check-in app, uses Swarm Perks to gamify and incentivize users to check-in to different locations and share what they’re up to with friends. With Swarm Perks, users can get discounts for locations they check-in to — like a 20% off coupon at Best Buy.Source: The VergeUsers can also compete in sweepstakes challenges every week, where they are entered into a drawing after check-in at a participating location to win things like dream vacations, spa days, and shopping trips.Source: The Verge7. REI Co-opREI’s Co-op membership program harkens back to the outdoor gear company’s roots as a co-op — a consumer organization that is truly “owned” by the consumers and managed to meet the needs of its members. In fact, REI is the largest consumer co-operative enterprise in the United States.If you’re not familiar with co-ops, here’s how it works at REI: Customers can become lifetime members by paying a flat fee of $20 — and that’s it.From there, members are rewarded with 10% of the total amount of money they spent at REI in the previous year, access to deeply-discounted “garage sales,” discounted wilderness and outdoor adventure classes, and members-only offers for discounts and new products.As a member myself, I can confirm that the $20 I invested has been made up more than a few times over. But more than just the discounts, I feel good about spending my money with REI because of their commitment to this co-operative vision of giving back to outdoor conservation and their prioritization of the members over the profits — as reflected in REI’s widely-publicized vow to close its stores on Black Friday every year. It feels good to be prioritized and rewarded for my support in a tangible way — as I’m sure it does to the other 177,000 members.8. AppleEven the most loyal Apple customers don’t get special rewards or discounts … because it doesn’t offer them to anybody. Apple “enchants” customers by delighting them with a product or service the very first time.”The loyalty is voluntary and long-lasting,” explains Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki. Apple has plenty of supporters, both online and offline, ready and willing to rave about its product. For them, loyalty happens organically.How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Loyalty ProgramAs with any initiative you implement, there needs to be a way to measure your success. Customer loyalty programs should increase customer happiness and retention, and there are ways to measure these things (other than in rainbows and sunshine).Different companies and programs call for different analytics, but here are a few of the most common metrics companies watch when rolling out loyalty programs.Customer Retention RateCustomer retention is an indication of how long customers stay with you. With a successful loyalty program, this number should increase over time as the number of loyalty program members grows. Run an A/B test against program members and non-program customers to determine the overall effectiveness of the loyalty initiative. According to Fred Reichheld, author of the Loyalty Effect, a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-100% increase in profit for your company.Negative ChurnCustomer churn is the rate at which customers leave your company. Negative churn, therefore, is a measurement of customers who do the opposite: either they upgrade, or they purchase additional services. These help to offset the natural churn that goes on in most businesses. Depending on the nature of your business and loyalty program, especially if you opt for a tiered loyalty program, this is an important metric to track.Net Promoter Score®NPS is a customer satisfaction metric that measures, on a scale of 1-10, the degree to which people would recommend your company to others.NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors (customers who would not recommend your product) from the percentage of promoters (customers who would recommend you).The fewer detractors, the better. Improving your net promoter score is one way to establish benchmarks, measure customer loyalty over time, and calculate the effects of your loyalty program.Customer Effort ScoreCustomer Effort Score (CES) asks customers, “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to solve a problem with the company?”Some companies prefer this metric over NPS score because it measures actual experience rather than the emotional delight of the customer. A Harvard Business Review study found that 48% of customers who had negative experiences with a company told 10 or more people. In this way, customer service impacts both customer acquisition and customer retention. If your loyalty program addresses customer service issues, like expedited requests, personal contacts, or free shipping, this may be one way to measure its success.To learn more about customer loyalty, read about how to use customer loyalty analytics next.Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc. It might sound obvious — of course, brands want to provide great customer service so customers will continue subscribing or purchasing. But customer loyalty is paramount to brands’ success — because loyal customers can grow business faster than sales and marketing.Why Is Customer Loyalty Important?Customer loyalty is something that all companies should aspire to simply by virtue of their existence: The point of starting a for-profit company is to attract and keep happy customers who buy your products to drive revenue. Loyal customers convert and spend more with brands they’re loyal too more often, and they tell their friends and colleagues about those brands, which helps drive free referrals.There’s a lot of data to support the value of cultivating customer loyalty:Loyal customers convert and spend with brands they like more often.Loyal customers spend more than others.Loyal customers tell their family and friends about positive experiences. Word-of-mouth marketing is more effective at driving new customers than branded content and advertising, and in turn, these referred customers become loyal customers that are likely to spend more than average. In the U.S., 40% of online shopping revenue comes from repeat customers, who make up only 8% of site visitors.And in a world where hundreds of different options for virtually any product or service a customer might purchase, the fact that so many keep coming back to the same brands is really saying something. It indicates that a customer trusts and loves a brand — and that the value they get from being a customer outweighs the potential benefit of a lower price or a different product from another brand.Since we know that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer, the prospect of mobilizing and activating your loyal customers to recruit new ones — simply by evangelizing a brand — should excite marketers, salespeople, and customer success managers.But how do you do it? How do you take happy, satisfied customers into loyal brand evangelists? How do you use positive Yelp reviews, glowing tweets, and Instagram mentions to propel your brand’s growth?Well, we have a few ideas. How to Keep Customers LoyalUse a simple points-based system.Use a tier system to reward initial loyalty and encourage more purchases.Charge an upfront free for VIP benefits.Structure non-monetary programs around your customers’ values.Partner with another company to provide all-inclusive offers.Make a game out of it.Be as generous as your customers.Scratch the “program” completely.Build a useful community for your customers. 1. Use a simple points-based system.This is the most common loyalty program methodology. Frequent customers earn points, which translate into some type of reward. Whether it’s a discount, a freebie, or special customer treatment, customers work toward a certain amount of points to redeem their reward.Where many companies falter in this method, however, is making the relationship between points and tangible rewards complex and confusing.”Fourteen points equals one dollar, and twenty dollars earn 50% off your next purchase in April!”That’s not rewarding. That’s a headache.If you opt for a points-based loyalty program, keep the conversions simple and intuitive.Although a points system is perhaps the most common form of loyalty programs, it isn’t necessarily applicable to every business type. It works best for businesses that encourage frequent, short-term purchases, like Boloco.2. Use a tier system to reward initial loyalty and encourage more purchases.Finding a balance between attainable and desirable rewards is a challenge for most companies designing loyalty programs. One way to combat this is to implement a tiered system which rewards initial loyalty and encourages more purchases.Present small rewards as a base offering for being a part of the program, and then encourage repeat customers by increasing the value of the rewards as the customer moves up the loyalty ladder. This helps solve the problem of members forgetting about their points and never redeeming them because the time between purchase and gratification is too long.The biggest difference between the points system and the tiered system is that customers extract short-term versus long-term value from the loyalty program. You may find tiered programs work better for high commitment, higher price-point businesses like airlines, hospitality businesses, or insurance companies.3. Charge an upfront fee for VIP benefits.Loyalty programs are meant to break down barriers between customers and your business … so are we seriously telling you to charge them a fee? In some circumstances, a one-time (or annual) fee that lets customers bypass common purchase barriers is actually quite beneficial for both business and customer. By identifying the factors that may cause customers to leave, you can customize a fee-based loyalty program to address those specific obstacles.According to a study of 500 leading global brands, cart abandonment rates reached 75.6% across retail, travel, and fashion. This abandonment is often caused by “sticker shock” after tax and shipping prices have been applied. Below, we’ll take a look at Amazon, the ecommerce giant that’s found a way to combat this issue using a loyalty program with an upfront fee.This system is most applicable to businesses that thrive on frequent, repeat purchases. For an upfront fee, your customers are relieved of inconveniences that could impede future purchases. Amazon’s mastered this for ecommerce, but this model also has potential to work forB2B businesses that deliver products to businesses on a regular basis.4. Structure non-monetary programs around your customers’ values.Truly understanding your customer means understanding their values and sense of worth, and shared valued have a huge impact on if a customer will be loyal to a brand. In fact, CeB surveyed consumers on customer loyalty and found that customers were loyal “not to companies, but to beliefs.”Depending on your industry, your customers may find more value in non-monetary or discounted rewards. While any company can offer promotional coupons and discount codes if they want to, businesses that can provide value to the customer in ways other than dollars and cents have a unique opportunity to connect with their audience.5. Partner with another company to provide all-inclusive offers.Strategic partnerships for customer loyalty (also known as coalition programs) can be super effective for retaining customers and growing your company. Which company would a good fit for a partnership? Again, it boils down to fully understanding your customers’ everyday lives and their purchase processes.For example, if you’re a dog food company, you might partner with a veterinary office or pet grooming facility to offer co-branded deals that are mutually beneficial for your company and your customer. When you provide your customers with value that’s relevant to them but goes beyond what your company alone can offer them, you’re showing them you understand and care about their needs. Plus, it’ll help you grow your network to reach your partners’ customers, too.6. Make a game out of it.Who doesn’t love a good game? Turn your loyalty program into a game to encourage repeat customers and — depending on the type of game you choose — help solidify your brand’s image.With any contest or sweepstakes, though, you run the risk of having customers feel like your company is jerking them around to win business. To mitigate this risk, it’s important to make customers feel like you’re not duping them out of rewards.The odds should be no lower than 25%, and the purchase requirements to play should be attainable. Also, be sure your company’s legal department is fully informed and on-board before you make your contest public.When executed properly, this type of program could work for almost any type of company — even an off-the-beaten-path B2B company. If your audience enjoys having a little fun and purchases frequently, this type of program can make the buying process both fun and engaging.7. Be as generous as your customers.From the outside looking in, customer loyalty programs can appear to be nothing more than a scheme to get customers to spend even more money. (Let’s face it, we can all be cynics sometimes.)That’s why loyalty programs that are truly generous stand out — and why customers who are members rave about them far and wide.If your customer loyalty program requires that customers spend a ton only to be rewarded with meager discounts and samples, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, walk the walk on showing customers their value to your brand by offering a loyalty program that’s so good, it would be foolish not to become a member.8. Scratch the “program” completely.Considering how many marketers offer loyalty programs, one innovative idea is to nix the idea of employing a program altogether. Instead, build loyalty by providing first-time users with awesome benefits, hooking them in, and offering those benefits with every purchase.This minimalist approach works best for companies that sell unique products or services. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you offer the lowest price, or the best quality, or the most convenience; instead, I’m talking about redefining a category.If your company is pioneering a new product or service, a loyalty program may not be necessary. Customers will be loyal because there are few other options as spectacular as you, and you’ve communicated that value from your first interaction.9. Build a useful community for your customers.Customers will always trust their peers more than they trust your business. Between social media, customer review sites, forums and more, the slightest slip up can be recorded and uploaded for the world to see. But, you can turn this into a positive by creating a community that encourages customer-to-customer interactions. One way to do this is with self-service support resources. If you have a knowledge base, you can add a community forum. A community forum encourages customers to communicate with one another on various topics, like troubleshooting the product or retelling service experiences. Even if they leave negative feedback, at least it’s left on your domain where you can respond to it and deal with it accordingly. My colleague pointed out his favorite community forum, the HubSpot Ideas Forum. On this site, customers can pitch ideas and upvote each other’s posts. If the idea is good, the product team will consider it for an upcoming sprint. If the idea can already be done with the product, the support team will reach out with a solution. This lets our team provide both proactive and reactive customer service through one resource. As communities progress, you may formalize them to keep things organized. Having a consistent system in place ensures fairness and keeps customers satisfied over time.This is where customer loyalty programs come in handy.What is a customer loyalty program?A customer loyalty program is a rewards program offered by a company to customers who frequently make purchases. A loyalty program may give a customer free merchandise, rewards, coupons, or even advance released products. Customer Loyalty Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

17 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website

first_img Originally published May 3, 2016 8:00:00 AM, updated February 27 2018 Website Design Topics: One of the tenets of inbound marketing is to not annoy people. So why is it that many websites are still chock full of the elements that so many visitors have bemoaned over and over?Perhaps with the sheer excitement (or terror, depending on your personality) that comes with designing your own website, all of the user experience quirks that have driven you crazy over the years escape your mind.Convert more visitors to leads. Click here to try HubSpot’s Lead Flows tool for free. But poor user experience can cause high page abandonment rates, low visitor-to-lead conversion rates, poor organic search listing positions, and a plain ol’ bad reputation.So we compiled a list of the 17 most annoying things we’ve seen on websites to act as a sort of guide for what not to do when designing your website. Let’s take a look at the worst offenders!17 Reasons Visitors Hate Your Website 1) It takes forever to load.Our shortening attention spans are not just making us check our phones several hundred times per day; they’re also making us really impatient when it comes to waiting for websites to load. According to a KISSmetrics report, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. Even a one-second delay decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%.Slow loading time frustrates your site visitors and affects conversion rate and brand perception — especially for mobile users, who are sometimes relying on slower cellular internet connections when browsing the web. How does slow load time impact brand perception, you might be wondering? According to an Ericsson study, the longer it takes a website to load, the more website visitors blame the content provider instead of their mobile service providers.But if you want people to stick around your website, you’re going to have to put optimizing your site’s load performance at the top of your to-do list. Page load time can be impacted by image size, code, videos, and other factors. Learn how to monitor and improve page load time in general here, and learn more about improving the page load time of your mobile website here.2) It isn’t optimized for mobile.When browsing the internet on a mobile phone, have you ever been forced to scroll from side-to-side to read copy on a website? Or have you had to pinch-to-zoom because the words or buttons on a page were way too small? These are all examples of the painful UX people can have on websites that aren’t optimized for mobile. Google announced a major mobile algorithm update in summer 2015 that penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, and it announced it would strengthen the ranking signal from mobile-friendly websites starting on May 1, 2016.A big part of why Google continues to make these changes is to improve the web browsing experience for mobile users. So if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’ll likely lose out significantly in the organic search rankings. Can you really afford to miss out on all that traffic and all those sales? It’s unlikely. Learn more about choosing a mobile optimization approach here.(HubSpot customers: The HubSpot Website Platform uses responsive design, has automatic image compression, and is backed by our CDN for loading your website really quickly — so you don’t need to worry about these things.)3) It offers poor navigation.When someone lands on your site, do they know what to do? Where to go? What their next steps should be?While this might seem like a no-brainer, research by Small Business Trends suggests that 80% of small B2B business websites lacked a call-to-action — as recently as 2013. They weren’t missing out on leads and sales because their CTAs were poorly written; they were missing out because they simply didn’t provide any direction on their website or ask people to click around.Include clear headline copy, jargonless page copy that explains the value of what you do, and a clear primary call-to-action that shows visitors how to take the next steps — whether that’s subscribing to your blog, getting a free trial, watching a video, or any other action you hope visitors will perform on your site.As for your actual navigation bar, read this blog post to learn how to nail down the perfect website navigation, including how to phrase your navigation copy, how to analyze visitor flow, and more.4) It uses excessive pop-ups. Excessive pop-ups that disrupt the reading experience can be seriously annoying — especially when the CTA copy is made to guilt-trip you. You know, the ones that include a button that says something like, “No thanks, I don’t want to improve my website.” Can’t they just let you live your life?If you’re going to use pop-ups there is a right way:Use them in moderation. That way, you aren’t constantly bombarding your visitors with content they may not be interested in.Make them “smart.” Smart CTAs let you display a different pop-up (or no pop-up at all) to different types of visitors based on whether they’ve visited your site before, or whether they’re at a certain stage in the buying cycle. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to create a smart CTA here.)Track them for effectiveness. Assess the number of views and clicks on each pop-up CTA, along with how many submissions the pop-up actually leads to. If you find it isn’t performing very well, consider editing or removing it to create a better user experience for your visitors. You can also run A/B variation tests to test out various copy and offers. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to run an A/B test on a pop-up CTA here.)Use delightful copy. Far too many sites use language meant to guilt-trip visitors into taking the desired action. Don’t follow their lead. Check out the example below in the exit intent CTA Make My Persona, which uses polite language in the “no” option. center_img An alternative to pop-ups altogether? Slide-in CTAs, which are small banners that slide in from the side or bottom of the page with a call-to-action. They tend to be less obtrusive, providing users with more information while still allowing them to continue reading the piece of content. This one from Wait But Why says it all:5) It contains multimedia content that autoplays.Shhhh … I wasn’t supposed to be on this site at work!If someone’s enjoying what they thought was a silent browsing session and they’re bombarded with your theme song or a talking head on a video for which they didn’t press “play” — especially if they can’t find the button for “stop” — what do you think they’re going to do?Some might fumble for their mute button … but I can more easily locate the back button in my browser than my computer’s volume controls. Although Facebook and Twitter now autoplay videos in our feeds, note that they’re always on mute unless users choose to unmute them.Extend the same courtesy to your visitors by not forcing your multimedia content on them. Either let them choose when to play it, or at the very least have it start with the sound off.6) It boasts disorienting animations.You’re probably familiar with the blink test by now. You know, the three seconds users have to orient themselves on any given web page before they click “back” in their browser.Animations, autoplay videos, blinking and flashing paid advertisements, and other interactive entertainment may seem really cool, but if they’re too obtrusive or disorienting, they can detract from a visitor’s focus during those critical three seconds.Keep any animations on your website simple, like the one below from this blog post. This is a simple animated GIF that catches the reader’s eye without being too distracting. (If you want to learn how to make animated GIFs like this one using Photoshop, here’s a simple tutorial.)7) It’s littered with generic or cheesy stock photography.You may already know that using images is great for your inbound marketing. So when it comes to adding images to your website, you go browsing and … find this gem:Hmm. Are we supposed to believe these people work at your company? And are they always that happy about work?This is an example of a bad stock photo. Bad stock photos are generic at best, and ridiculous at worst. Images are helpful if they clarify something for a visitor, and generic stock photography doesn’t help visitors or your business. It’s much better to show real pictures of customers, employees, your company, your product, and your location. If you don’t have any of those, browse this list of the best free, non-cheesy stock photo websites. If you’re particularly design savvy, you can create visuals yourself that directly relate to what you do. (Download this beginner’s guide to visual content creation if you need some extra guidance.)8) It contains a contact form, but no additional contact information.A ‘Contact Us’ form may seem like an easy way to generate an opt-in email list, but it’s really the least valuable form of lead generation for you and your site visitors. Not only is it terribly generic, but it also doesn’t indicate whether or not the contact actually wants to receive ongoing communications from you. It’s more likely that they have a one-time problem or request that needs to be addressed.So, let’s say they do in fact have a one-time request. There’s nothing wrong with having a “Contact Us” module on your site, but it should never be the only means of communication between you and your customers. If your visitor or customer needs help, they want it now. They don’t want to fill out a form and wait to see when, if ever, they get a response.Let people get in touch with you via email, the phone, and social media, and make that information available on your website. (Read this blog post to learn more about how to create a great ‘Contact Us’ page.)9) It has an unintelligible ‘About Us’ page.Does your ‘About Us’ page explain what you do in business babble, or using the words and phrases common to the general population?Let’s play a translation game using HubSpot’s ‘About Us’ page copy. Our ‘About Us’ page doesn’t say this, but read the copy below and think to yourself: Would you know what HubSpot did if it this was what it said?HubSpot assists organizations across multiple countries reduce churn by backfilling the sales pipeline with highly qualified traffic that generates leads that convert into customers with high lifetime value. We achieve this through leading-edge software that integrates all marketing channels for a synergistic view of the data that determines and prioritizes the high-value marketing activities.”Uh, what?Instead, we chose to tell a story on our ‘About Us’ page. Here’s an excerpt from our company story:People have transformed how they consume information, research products and services, make purchasing decisions and share their views and experiences. The customer is more in control than ever — and tunes out traditional sales and marketing messages more than ever. Yet businesses still rely on the same sales and marketing playbook they have used for more than a decade. This mismatch in buyer behavior and company tactics is what led Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah to start HubSpot in 2006 and create the vision for the inbound experience.”Ahh, that’s better. Why? Because it’s written in a way that people actually speak. It doesn’t make your brain hurt like the first iteration did. Check out this post for 12 great examples of ‘About Us’ pages.10) It doesn’t clearly explain what your company does. In the same vein as a bad ‘About Us’ page, it’s really frustrating to click around a company’s website and not get a clear sense of what the company actually offers.The best webpages clearly explain who they are, what they do, and/or what you (the visitor) can do there. If you’re a well-known brand or company (i.e., Coca-Cola) you may be able to get away with not having to describe who you are and what you do. However, most businesses still need to answer these questions so that each visitor knows they are in the “right place.”Steven Krugg sums it up best in his best-selling book, Don’t Make Me Think: If visitors can’t identify what it is you do within seconds, they won’t stick around long. Here are 15 examples of great homepage design from companies who did this particularly well.11) It contains keyword-stuffed copy. Remember back in the early 2000s when you went to a website and saw paragraphs and paragraphs of copy? Aside from being visually overwhelming, if you read that copy you’d find nothing more than a bunch of keywords meant for crawlers, not humans.Unfortunately, some websites are still writing for bots, even though Google’s algorithm is far more sophisticated at determining a page’s relevancy than it was 10 years ago. Stuffing your content with keywords is one of the most common search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes marketers make. While keywords are crucial to driving SEO success, Google will penalize your website in search for keyword-stuffing.Even more importantly, keyword-stuffed copy makes for a bad reader experience. So instead or cramming a keyword in every chance you get, read this blog post to learn the five parts of your website where you should optimize for keywords.12) It’s missing social sharing buttons on content.If you’re writing for humans, you probably have some really interesting content on your site — content that people want to share on social media, perhaps. That’s why it’s a huge disappointment to scroll up and down looking for a “Tweet This!” button, only to realize there aren’t any social sharing buttons on your website.Social sharing buttons make it easy for your readers to share your content on social networks because they don’t have to manually copy and paste your URL and compose a tweet. And easy social sharing options means your content gets more visibility, which means more site traffic, better search engine rankings, and more lead generation opportunities. Read this blog post to learn how to create social sharing and follow buttons for the major social networks. 13) It doesn’t have a blog.If you don’t have a blog, you’re missing out on an opportunity to provide your visitors with a ton of valuable information. (And you’re missing out on ranking opportunities, too.)These days, consumers are empowered to perform in-depth company research on their own before ever contacting a salesperson. If they find answers to their common questions in articles on your company’s blog, they’re much more likely to come into the sales process trusting what you have to say because you’ve helped them in the past. (This is one of the many benefits of business blogging.)14) It employs titles and headlines that are incongruous with your content. If you’re an avid content creator, you know how important a well-crafted title is. Great titles are what cause people to click through to read what you have written. But if they’re met with content that’s unrelated to the title you provided, you’ll disappoint visitors — and they’ll often abandon your site.This is why click-baity headlines aren’t a very fair way to get people to your site. They take advantage of our natural curiosity. If you’re going to use that tactic, you’d better deliver content that excites as much as the title. If not, you’ll just annoy people. The lesson: While it’s important to capture peoples’ attention in titles, make sure it isn’t misleading and your content can actually live up to what you promised you’d deliver.15) It displays call-to-action copy that doesn’t align with the offer. Along the same lines, your calls-to-action should align with what visitors receive when they redeem your offer. There’s nothing more frustrating than being promised a 50% off coupon in the call-to-action copy, only to redeem it and find there’s a caveat that says you must first spend $1,000. On select items. In-store purchases only.This is not only insulting to your visitors, but it will also hurt your reputation — not to mention your conversion rates. 16) It contains internal linking that isn’t user-friendly.When done correctly, internal links are helpful for readers and website alike. They point readers to other relevant information, and help you improve the organic ranking for important pages on your own website. But some websites seem to have trouble executing internal linking correctly, pointing users to irrelevant pages, linking strange phrases within the copy, and overdoing it to the point of making content unreadable.Include internal links only to relevant pages on your website that will enhance a reader’s experience, and include that link on the anchor text that makes the most sense. (Pro Tip: Be sure to have all links open into a new tab in your browser, not the same window. Visitors may not be done reading the content on this page, and you don’t want to navigate them away while they’re still reading!) 17) It displays image sliders that take forever to load. Image sliders, also known as image carousels, serve as a way to showcase multiple images in a space-efficient manner. But you have to be careful with these because there’s a right way and a wrong way to use them.The right way: Your slider loads images quickly and doesn’t require a new page to load every time a user clicks.The wrong way: Every time you click the arrow for the next image, your page loads an entirely new web page. This can increase page load time by several seconds as the entire webpage reloads.Remember: The longer it takes a webpage to load, the more people will abandon it. So make sure yours loads quickly and doesn’t require a reload. You’ll also want to accompany the visual elements with written copy above or below the slider. Many readers are scanners and wont’ invest the time to click through every image in the slider.(HubSpot customers: Read this post to learn how to include an image slider on a page using HubSpot.) What website components drive you nuts? Share them in the comments.Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

The Biggest Opportunities for Agencies in 4 Charts

first_imgYou’ve heard this common theme repeated by your parents, your teachers, your managers … even your significant others: It’s up to you to take ahold of the opportunities presented and make something of them.The problem is that opportunities usually equal choosing the hard thing. It’s much easier to stay constant on the current path, walking with the wind rather than against it. But as Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” And when it comes to your business, there are a lot of difficulties that equal big opportunities. However, when you’re in the middle of it, it’s not easy to recognize or focus on what actually matters — it’s that whole “can’t see the forest for the trees” conundrum. We pulled a few stats from our Agency Pricing & Financials Report that detail how agencies price their services, manage their firms, sell, and service their clients to highlight a few issues that, if improved, could equal significant opportunities for agencies as they work toward growth, stability, or higher profitability. Download the full report here or view a few of the interesting charts below.4 Revealing Charts on Agency Business Practices1) 57% of agencies win less than 50% of proposals sent.Depending on how in-depth your agency’s proposals are — the length, the amount of research you do, how much you give away (i.e., the strategy), and design — creating a proposal can be a time-consuming and arduous process. It might take you two hours, eight hour, or upwards of 40, depending on the requests of the prospect. And all of that time is arguably wasted if you don’t win. That’s why it’s so concerning to see that a majority of agencies don’t win even half of the proposals they create. Increasing the conversion rates of your proposals by improving your sales process should be a priority. And this all starts with understanding what types of clients actually want to buy your services — what makes a prospect a good fit. By having the right qualifying questions, you can increase the time you spend with prospects who would benefit and see the value of your services and spend less time writing proposals that are ignored or irrelevant.  2) 44% of agencies don’t use a CRM, and 42% haven’t defined their ideal client. That many agencies don’t use a CRM and have yet to identify which clients are a good fit for their agency and services further supports the low conversion rate on proposals. In the survey, we also asked how satisfied respondents were with their sales process: Only 28% were satisfied or very satisfied, while 41% were not satisfied or very dissatisfied. Even more confusing is the 31% who responded as “neutral,” signaling a lack of concern or worry about growth.I’m not saying that every agency needs to be highly focused on gaining more and more and more new clients. In fact, the opposite is often recommended. You can grow by building a roster of 10 or 20 highly profitable client accounts that provides your team with the opportunity to do highly rewarding work.But without a sales process — and an understanding of who these future profitable clients are, how they think about marketing, what they value, etc. — then you’re simply chasing one account after another.And without a tool or system for tracking prospects, you could be losing out on valuable business you’ve already invested hundreds of hours in. If you’re marketing your agency right, the clients you really want should already know about you. And even if they’re not ready to switch shops today, they should think of you when they do begin to look around. A CRM can help you to stay in touch with these people — something that old Excel file can’t yet handle. 3) Agencies fail to track future-looking metrics.Without tracking the right financial metrics, agencies can’t truly understand the health of their business. And while it’s necessary to track revenue and profit numbers, these only tell the story of how well the company is doing today, not tomorrow or next week or three months from now.Metrics such as leads generated and client satisfaction provide more forward-looking information. By tracking average client tenure, you can spot clients at-risk of leaving before you get that dreaded phone call or request for an urgent in-person meeting. It also doesn’t reveal the opportunities for greater efficiencies. Do you know how much your agency is losing due to overservicing? Do you understand which client accounts are profitable? And which ones are costing you money? If the utilization rate for your agency is too low, then maybe your firm has become top heavy, with too many non-billable employees in management. If you’re employee satisfaction score is low and turnover is high, what’s causing this? As I hope the above shows, these metrics are only the starting points for more in-depth conversation and analysis, but they will help guide you to new information and possibly a solution. Otherwise, you’re simply running in the dark toward revenue and profit numbers.  4) Agencies are too reliant on referrals and word of mouth.It’s no surprise that referrals are listed as the best source of new leads for agency new business. And referrals are valuable — we know that referrals convert at a higher rate and have a higher lifetime value. However, by relying on referrals too heavily, agencies are essentially putting their new business development in the hands of their clients — some who are happy and some who are not. And referrals don’t scale as well as many other methods, such as focusing on lead generation through blogging, social media, PR, and events. In addition, referrals are influenced by things such as public speaking, publishing educational content, the professionalism of your web presence, etc., so it’s important to create a sustainable plan for marketing your agency and driving both referrals and new connections with clients outside your current sphere of influence.What are the biggest opportunities for improvement in your agency? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Aug 16, 2016 5:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Agency Marketinglast_img read more

Sitting for more than 9 hours a day could kill you earlier!

first_imgHigher levels of physical activity — regardless of intensity — are associated with a lower risk of early death in middle-aged and older people, a study claims. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), also show that being sedentary, for example sitting for 9.5 hours or more a day — excluding sleeping time — is associated with an increased risk of death.The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week for adults aged between 18 and 64 years.However, these are based mainly on self-reported activity, which is often imprecise. So exactly how much activity — and at what intensity — is needed to protect health remains unclear.How did the researchers conduct the study on sitting hours contributing to early death?Researchers led by Professor Ulf Ekelund at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, Norway analysed observational studies assessing physical activity and sedentary time with death.Studies included in the research used accelerometers — a wearable device that tracks the volume and intensity of activity during waking hours — to objectively measure daily activity levels.Examples of light intensity activity include walking slowly or light tasks such as cooking or washing dishes. Moderate activity includes any activities that make you breath harder, such as brisk walking.Data from eight high quality studies involved 36,383 adults aged at least 40 years with average age of 62.Activity levels were categorised into quarters, from least to most active, and participants were tracked for an average of 5.8 years.advertisementDuring follow-up, 2,149 (5.9 per cent) participants died.After adjusting for potentially influential factors, the researchers found that any level of physical activity, regardless of intensity, was associated with a substantially lower risk of death.How does physical activity level compare with potential death risk?Deaths fell steeply as total volume of physical activity increased up to a plateau of about 300 minutes (five hours) per day of light-intensity physical activity or about 24 minutes per day moderate intensity physical activity.At these levels the risk of death was halved compared to those engaging in little or no physical activity.”These results are fantastic. It has previously been widely assumed that more is better in terms of physical activity for health,” said Tom Yates, a professor at the University of Leicester in the UK.However, this study suggests health may be optimised with just 24 minutes per day of brisk walking or other forms of moderate-intensity physical activity.”Another important finding was that spending 9.5 hours or more each day sedentary — which essentially means sitting was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of death, with each hour more above this threshold increasing the risk of death further.”This highlights the importance of avoiding spending most of the day sitting, as well undertaking purposeful physical activity,” said Yates.Limitations of the researchThe researchers point to some limitations. For example, all studies were conducted in the US and western Europe, and included adults who were at least 40 years old, so findings may not apply to other populations or to younger people.They said the large sample size and device-based measures of sedentary time and physical activity provide more precise results than previous studies.”These findings really reinforce the saying ‘Doing something is better than doing nothing’,” said Charlotte Edwardson, an associate professor at the University of Leicester.”Also, a large risk reduction was seen between the least and the second least active group suggesting that incorporating some time doing physical activity, light or moderate intensity, in daily life is associated with a big health benefit,” said Edwardson.Read: Long sitting hours can decrease your life span! 5 health hazards of sitting you didn’t knowRead: Prolonged sitting is bad for health even if you do lots of physical activity in the dayRead: 10 tips to prevent back pain in children and teens from long hours of sitting or studyingRead: 22 tips to get rid of desk job related health problems at your workplacelast_img read more

Zlatan or Ishant: Rohit Sharma comes up with cheeky throwback photo

first_imgRohit Sharma seems to be enjoying his time on and off the field. Having successfully conquered his final frontier in whites, the India star is gearing up to lead India in the upcoming 3-match T20I series against Bangladesh.Rohit Sharma took to Instagram on Friday to post a throwback photo of the team’s training session in which he is sharing a light moment with Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. It is from the times when Ishant had a ponytail and Rohit seems to have been reminded of Zlatan Ibrahimovic — the former Manchester United star who was known for his ponytail.”We got zlatan amongst us. Great fun chatting,” Rohit Sharma wrote on the social media platform as captain for the image.Meanwhile, India began their training session in Delhi amid rising pollution levels in the lead up to the 1st T20I. Rohit Sharma will be key as India will be without Virat Kohli for the T20I series.Team India, from the photograph uploaded by BCCI’s social media handle, aren’t training with pollution masks, unlike their Bangladesh counterparts. Both the teams though have played down the concerns surrounding the dip in air quality index in Delhi.While it was speculated that the 1st T20I would be moved out of Delhi, BCCI president Sourav Ganugly confirmed India and Bangladesh will play the match as scheduled in Delhi.advertisementAs the pollution level in the region entered the “severe plus” category, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority also banned the bursting of crackers during the winter season.The air quality in Delhi-NCR deteriorated further Thursday night and is now at the severe plus level, EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said in a letter to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.”We have to take this as a public health emergency as air pollution will have an adverse health impact on all, particularly our children,” he said in the letter.Meanwhile, all construction activities has also been banned in the national capital till November 5.According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality in Delhi deteriorated to 425 in the morning.It is worth noting that all the pollution measuring stations in Delhi-NCR are recording AQI levels above 400, with the poorest air quality recorded at outer Delhi’s Bawana (716).Also Read | 2 years after Sri Lanka players vomitted, Bangladesh set to face ‘baptism by air’ in DelhiAlso See:last_img read more

Wenger rules out Aubameyang approach

first_imgTransfers Aubameyang to Arsenal? Not going to happen, says Wenger Chris Burton Last updated 1 year ago 17:12 1/5/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Getty Images Transfers Arsenal Arsène Wenger Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Borussia Dortmund Bundesliga Premier League Southampton The Borussia Dortmund star has once again been heavily linked with a move to England, but the Gunners boss insists he will not end up at the Emirates Arsene Wenger has no intention of making a move for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the January transfer window.The Gabon international striker has long been linked with a move to England, with several clubs mentioned as possible landing spots.Everton are said to be weighing up an approach, with Sam Allardyce having conceded that he is looking to bring another proven frontman into Goodison Park. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Wenger, though, will not be joining the chase, with the Frenchman ruling the 28-year-old – who has 21 goals to his name this season – off his winter wish list.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to ArsenalQuizzed about any possible interest at his pre-weekend press conference on Friday, the Gunners boss said: “No, that is not a possibility.”While distancing himself from one possible incoming at Emirates Stadium, Wenger has also sought to address the issue of one mooted outgoing.Theo Walcott has struggled for regular game time this season, sparking speculation that he could soon be on the move.The England international is yet to start a Premier League game in 2017-18 and has seen just 47 minutes of top-flight action.Wenger, though, maintains that the 28-year-old forward remains part of his plans.He added: “I want him to stay.”Theo Walcott Arsenal 2017Walcott has been linked with a return to his roots at Southampton, as a product of the club’s academy system who left for north London back in 2006.“I heard about that but I want him to stay,” said Wenger.Walcott has made 395 appearances for Arsenal to date, netting 108 goals.Slipping out of favour is, however, preventing him from making the most of his supposed peak years, while he has also slipped down the pecking order with England in World Cup year.last_img read more

Bolt excited by Borussia Dortmund trial

first_imgBorussia Dortmund Man Utd fan Usain Bolt excited by Borussia Dortmund trial Dejan Kalinic 15:47 1/30/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Borussia Dortmund Bundesliga An eight-time Olympic gold medalist is looking forward to having the opportunity to showcase his football ability with the Bundesliga outfit Usain Bolt is excited about his trial with Borussia Dortmund in March as the sprinting great looks to pursue a football career.An eight-time Olympic champion, the 31-year-old retired last year after an incredible career that also included 11 world titles.Bolt said he was looking forward to his trial with Dortmund before making a decision on whether he had a career in football. Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player “That is something that I want to do, as you said I have trials with Borussia Dortmund so that’s something that is on the table,” he said.”After the trials, then I can determine if it makes sense to do it or it doesn’t make sense. That’s what the plan is.”Dortmund have battled in the Bundesliga this season, sitting sixth in the table and 19 points behind leader Bayern Munich.Bolt would be a surprise addition to their ranks, but the sprint star has long expressed a desire to get into football.He is now chasing that dream, and has already offered his services to David Beckham’s new MLS franchise in Miami.Bolt said after seeing the former England captain announce his expansion plans: “On a serious note, if you need a striker, I’m the guy. If you need goals, I’m the guy. I got you.”last_img read more

Wait, Which Conference Has the Best OSU in the Country?

first_imgNumber of QBs22 Wins over top 50 (FEI)12 Team 1Team 2 Wins over top 30 (Sagarin)02 On paper, those teams are pretty similar, right? Team 1 is Ohio State. Team 2 is Oklahoma State. Now, Ohio State has struggled relative to what many folks thought it would be. Maybe the same could have been said of Oklahoma State.But if you would have told me that going into the bye week in mid-October that Oklahoma State and Ohio State would both be 6-0 and comparable in loads of statistical categories … hooo boy. I would have been pretty pleased with that. Margin of victory37-1737-20 Yards per play (Offense)6.686.13 PPD (Defense)1.151.48 FEINo. 10No. 13 S&PNo. 28No. 34 Record6-06-0 Let’s talk.Oklahoma State has not been pretty so far this year.“Well, we won. We didn’t lose. So on to the next week …” is how Mike Gundy said it after the West Virginia game on Saturday. I thought that was fitting.What’s interesting to me is that, outside of Baylor, nobody is really blowing teams away. Take last year’s champ (and this year’s favorite) Ohio State. I put together a little blind resume for both OSU’s to see if you could distinguish between them.Here’s the legend: Sagarin | PPD = points per drive in non-garbage time against FBS teams | FEI = drive efficiency | S&P = play by play dataAdChoices广告 Sagarin rankNo. 14No. 18 Yards per play (Defense)4.114.54 Strength of schedule (Sagarin)No. 86No. 54 PPD (Offense)2.542.52 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more