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Everything You Need to Know About Twitter Ecommerce Marketing in 2020

Twitter was one of the first social media platforms I ever joined, but it wasn’t nearly as fancy as it is today. Now, there are a variety of features you can use to take your ecommerce business to the next level.

Unlock tips, systems & recommended resources to stay ahead of the tech curve.

In fact, according to Twitter, its users are 2.7x more likely to purchase a product after seeing it on the platform. Partner with influencers and that purchase intent increases by 5.2x! Needless to say, Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool for your business, whether you’re new to the platform or growing steadily.

Without further ado, let’s walk through some strategies and examples to help you perfect your Twitter presence

Twitter Ecommerce Marketing Strategies

1. Design an eye-catching profile.

To start, your Twitter profile should be optimized to make a great first impression and eventually generate sales. To do this, you’ll need consistent branding across your profile layout, which means your cover photo and profile picture should be complementary and visually appealing.

The profile picture will likely be a picture of your logo or something that represents your business while the cover photo will further communicate your brand, mission, or message.

As for your bio, this section is like the elevator pitch of your business. Think of this section as another opportunity to spark interest in those who come across your profile. You can use keywords relevant to your business here for a more targeted approach. Also, don’t forget to add a link to your ecommerce site so people know where to find your products!

Lastly, you can use the pinned tweet feature to keep a tweet at the top of your profile. This feature is great for emphasizing a message or promoting new products.

Here is an example of a well-optimized Twitter profile from Away, a travel & luggage ecommerce company:

twitter ecommerce marketing strategy featuring away's eye-catching profileSource

2. Engage with your fanbase.

What’s great about Twitter is that it’s made for 24/7 interactions and constant activity, whereas very frequent posting from brands on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook may feel disingenuous and spam-like.

This perk means you should always be interacting with your followers and fans. To do this, keep an eye out for your mentions (tweets including @yourusername) and respond to them. You can also retweet and favorite mentions to give a nod to these users.

Another way to engage with your fanbase is by sending interactive tweets. Question prompts or Twitter polls, tweets where you can create polls and see instant results, are perfect for this.

You can ask about topics related to your product or even something entertaining relevant to your industry. Polls are also another way to gather opinions, so there’s some bonus market research! Here’s an example of a poll that Old Spice included in one of their Tweets:

3. Grow your following.

Beyond your existing followers, it’s also important to grow your audience to increase your brand awareness and attract more customers to your ecommerce store. From a technical standpoint, having more followers also allows you to distribute your content and get the word out about whatever it is you sell faster.

Garner new attention by participating in Twitter conversations relevant to your business. A strategic way to be part of the conversation on a large scale is by using trending Twitter hashtags. With trending hashtags in your tweets, you’re tapping into an entirely new network of people who may find interest in what you have to offer.

On a smaller scale, you can reach new users by searching keywords relevant to your ecommerce business using Twitter’s search function. You’ll find conversations and questions about these keywords that you can offer some value in, which may lead someone to tap on your profile and give you a follow in return. You can go about this practice yourself, but here are some social listening tools to lend a hand.

To acknowledge new followers, set up your account with automated direct messages, which send new followers a customized message. Your message should be friendly, welcoming, and show appreciation for the new follow. An automated DM that feels sincere can begin a relationship and move a prospective customer forward in their buyer’s journey.

4. Schedule your content.

With Twitter, the more active you are, the better. Having constant activity boosts your brand reputation and keeps your business top of mind for prospective customers, assuming your tweets are meaningful and speak to the audience. You can enlist a social media management tool to help you maintain your presence by scheduling your posts in advance.

There are also optimal posting times on Twitter you can take advantage of when scheduling your content. B2C companies experience higher clickthrough rates on weekends while B2B companies see more success on weekdays. B2C companies also find the best times to post in the day to be 8 to 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 7-9 p.m.

Scheduling your content is also a great way to plan ahead for special occasions such as holidays and cultural events. Joining conversations regarding these topics is another opportunity to promote your ecommerce business, so think in advance of how you want to craft your message.

Though scheduling your content can make your workflow more efficient, it doesn’t mean you can just schedule and forget. Twitter is a platform that is very much about the here and now as news and trending topics change by the hour. A mix of scheduled posts and live tweets are a perfect combination to grow your exposure.

5. Make the best of Twitter Ads.

Twitter offers a variety of ads depending on your objective. For ecommerce, the best types of ads are awareness and website click campaigns which promote your brand and generate conversions respectively.

For awareness ads, you will be billed for every 1,000 impressions and for website ads, you will be billed for every click to your website. You can also use remarketing in your ads to target people similar to those who have visited your website.

When creating ads, there are several tips to keep in mind for best performance. Twitter users crave short and sweet content, so keep your ads concise and to the point. You also want to make sure your ad copy is friendly, human, and approachable to match Twitter’s conversational atmosphere.

Beyond text, visuals are also a helpful tool to use since images and videos can speak louder than words. They can also be a great way to provide better context for your audience. Below is an example from Daily Harvest of a website click campaign so you can see how all of these characteristics of an effective Twitter ad complement each other:

For a step-by-step outline on how to set up Twitter Ads, check out our simple guide.

Twitter Ecommerce Marketing Examples

1. Alexa

Amassing 1.1million followers, Amazon’s Alexa is a fan favorite on Twitter for its funny and conversational tweets. Just a look at Alexa’s profile can provide a good idea of the account’s personality.

twitter ecommerce marketing example - AlexaSource

To break it down, the branding of this account is well done because the bio is written in such a human tone and is comparable to the typical Twitter bio of any other person. Additionally, its Twitter handle, @alexa99, is like what you would find of the average Twitter user handle, making the account much more relatable.

Alexa is also no stranger to sending polls and asking prompts to create engagement with its fans. Its prompts are also personal and lighthearted, so users who choose to share their opinions are happy to do so and feel like they are part of the conversation.

2. Zappos

twitter ecommerce marketing example - ZapposSource

Zappos is known for its phenomenal customer service, which certainly carries over to their Twitter. The Zappos Twitter account managers focus on social listening and reply to their mentions or relevant tweets almost every hour, allowing them to win over new fans and continue to impress loyal followers.

Below is an example of how Zappos uses social listening:

Although Zappos was not directly mentioned with an “@,” they were still quick to hop in and provide a solution for the potential customer. Zappos also put the cherry on top by providing a direct link to solve the customer’s problem, accelerating the customer’s buying process while standing out against its competitors.

Above is another example of Zappos keeping in touch with customers. They replied in a witty way and also retweeted the customer’s mention. It may be easier to leave a satisfied customer be, but why not join the party and celebrate their satisfaction with them?

3. Warby Parker

twitter ecommerce marketing example - warby parkerSource

Beyond celebrating customers, it’s also important to show customers your values and your support for them. In light of the continuing Black Lives Matter movement, Warby Parker has used Twitter to show their stance through words and actions.

The above shows Warby Parker’s statement on the Black Lives Matter movement. The company not only shows solidarity but has also gone beyond performative activism by sharing what actions they will take to tackle the issue.

As a business with influence and power, their allyship and support for anti-racism speaks volumes to their target audience and has the potential to dramatically improve their customer and employee relations.

4. Fenty Beauty

twitter ecommerce marketing example - fenty beautySource

Right off the bat, Fenty Beauty differentiates itself by using a hashtag in its bio. This makes the brand easier to find for people who are searching for cruelty-free beauty products on the platform. However, if you choose to put hashtags in your Twitter bio, one is enough. Try not to flood your description with hashtags since it can be off-putting.

What the Fenty Beauty Twitter account does well while selling beauty & cosmetics products is show real use cases of their collection that other customers can relate to.

In the above example, Rihanna, founder of Fenty Beauty, shows a short demo of one of the company’s lipsticks. This video is an effective way to reel in people who may be on the lookout for similar products. On top of that, video content on Twitter is a useful tool to cut through the text-focused platform and grab the attention of more potential customers.

For your ecommerce business, consider how you can show your audience why they should care about your product through your tweets. This could be in the form of video demonstrations or perhaps a before and after comparison.

5. Chewy

twitter ecommerce marketing example - chewySource

Chewy is an online one-stop-shop for all pet needs, from pups to lizards. Chewy’s Twitter account lives up to its slogan and brings together pet owners of all kinds. Pet owners tweet at the account and, similarly to the previous accounts we reviewed, Chewy replies in a way that feels personal. Here’s an example of what I mean by this:

In this customer interaction, Chewy was able to provide a solution while showing empathy, something customers often crave from businesses.

Chewy also takes advantage of their large Twitter following to promote their blog posts, which provide helpful information for the various types of pet owners their target audience includes. Their insights are relevant, valuable, and prove how much the company cares for pets and parents.

Phew! That’ll give you plenty to think about. If you want more examples of successful Twitter accounts, we’ve got you covered here. At the end of the day, Twitter is a top social media platform that can bring your business values and mission to life.

It’s also a powerful marketing tool to tune into your audience, build relationships with your followers, and boost sales. For more detailed information on exactly how to raise brand awareness and increase sales on Twitter, see our ultimate guide to Twitter marketing.

Stay Current on Emerging Tech

Originally published Jul 8, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 08 2020

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Twitter Marketing

5 Creative Ways to Use Social Media Data as a Source for Your Content

Creating powerful, newsworthy, and informative content is the goal, but it can be hard to achieve if it’s not data-driven.

After creating content for seven years, our team fully believes that having data as the driving element in your content campaign is the differentiator between good content and newsworthy, link-worthy content.

Coming up with creative sources for your data-driven content can be difficult sometimes, especially if what you want to examine with your content can’t be revealed through a survey methodology or an existing data set.

There are hundreds of sources of data you can use to shape your content, but the type of data I’m focusing on today can be collected from scraping publicly available information from social media platforms.

Social media platforms offer something unique that other data sources cannot. When you scrape a social media platform with intention, you have the opportunity to acquire massive amounts of information from real people, in a matter of minutes.

With the right analysis, this information can glean insights into your topic of choice that the public wouldn’t have otherwise known. Any new, surprising, or controversial information you infer from the analysis will have journalists begging to take the exclusive and cover your content marketing campaign for their publisher.

In this post, I’m going to share five examples of social media scrapes that earned top-tier publisher press, and why they worked. But first — what does social media data scraping mean, anyway? 

Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar Template

What is social media data scraping?

Social media data scraping is a methodology that incorporates third-party technology to automatically scrape data from a website such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

By using third-party data scraping tools such as Octoparse or Parsehub, you’ll receive your data in a neat excel package that will then allow you to analyze it however you wish.

Popular aspects to analyze with social media data sets include conducting a sentiment analysis, analyzing volume and frequency of certain words or symbols, and looking at patterns of individual words with location data.

Next, let’s dive into how you can use the data you scrape as inspiration for future content. 

How to Use Social Media Data as a Source for Your Content

1. Peruse Instagram to come up with fun content ideas.

In our first example, we’ll look at a content campaign called #SexiestLocations on Instagram.

The execution of this project was fairly simple: our research team collected over 4 million posts on Instagram that contained the hashtag #sexy. They then analyzed the posts that included a geolocation tag. From this, they were able to glean the “sexiest” countries in the world, as well as U.S. states.

social-media-source-for-content

Safe to say, publishers ate it up.

While it’s actually impossible to truly learn what the sexiest place in the world is (sexy is a subjective term) our team produced a fun campaign for our client that used geo-bait to appeal to light-hearted online sites, like Glamour, E! Online, Women’s Health, and Elite Daily.

2. Explore Twitter to learn more about a pressing topic.

In our second example, we’ll look at a campaign covering a much different topic: college drinking habits.

In this methodology, rather than exploring Instagram, the team analyzed Tweets from Twitter instead. The researchers looked at tweets within a 1.5 mile radius of the center of small, four-year colleges and universities that included the keywords “drunk,” “drinking,” “alcohol,” “booze,” “beer,” or “wine.”

social-media-source-for-content

There are official rankings that come out every year that pit universities in America against each other for the top “party school” in the nation. This project speaks to this notion in a new way, by looking to data from Twitter to back up those claims.

This campaign speaks to the ongoing conversation about the problem and prevalence of dangerous levels of college drinking in America. Again, using geo-bait and highly targeted digital PR outreach, this campaign was able to earn coverage at the Huffington Post, Adweek, Elite Daily, and BroBible.

3. Don’t overlook niche social platforms, like Yelp.

You don’t just have to stick to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram when creating content from social media data. There is a world of niche community platforms that can give you so much unique, interesting information that you can’t find anywhere else.

For instance, this content example uses popular restaurant review platform Yelp to glean insights about Americans’ dining preferences. What are the most popular cuisines in different cities across America? Using Yelp’s Fusion API, this study analyzed more than 120,000 restaurants in the U.S. with their ratings, pricing, and restaurant categories.

social-media-source-for-content

Yelp turned out to be a treasure trove of solid data. This visualization shows viewers the most unique restaurants for each city, the number of restaurants, and more. From this, you can see that Boston has more bagel restaurants than other cities, per capita.

This project saw a lot of success very quickly — once the exclusive went live on the Temple University section of ULOOP, it quickly syndicated to other U.S. university sites and earned over 100 pieces of unique media coverage.

4. Analyze tweets for advanced textual insights.

There are times when using a Twitter scrape just isn’t enough, and you need external analysis. In one of the coolest uses of Twitter data I’ve seen, a campaign called “Most Powerful Women” does just that.

IBM Watson Personality Insights is a free online tool by IBM that allows you to analyze text for prevalence of character traits. Typically you might use this tool to analyze speeches that people have given, or articles they’ve written. In the absence of that, you can use their own personal Twitter timeline to get samples of their writing.

social-media-source-for-content

The study sought to find out what the similarities and differences are between some of the top 100 “most powerful” women in the world. From Oprah to Queen Elizabeth, the takeaways gleaned from this study are numerous.

The exclusive to this project went to Bravo, a site that often covers powerful women for their audience, anyway.

For those of us who want to be powerful women too, we can learn which traits will take us all the way to the top, based on the most common traits shared by these famous and powerful women.

5. Conduct a survey for more actionable insights.

In my final example, we’ll look at #AdAnalysis, a campaign that combines an Instagram scrape methodology with a survey of 1,000 Americans to derive fascinating insights on the topic of influencer marketing on Instagram.

The campaign researchers sought to answer a few questions: What types of photos are popular for advertisements, and which demographics respond to promoted posts the most positively?

The first question was answered with a data scraping, and the second was answered with a survey.

Combining the two methods of research allowed the campaign to offer more well-rounded and actionable insights to journalists and news publishers.

social-media-source-for-content

This campaign earned coverage for our clients’ desired niche with placements on Adweek, eMarketer, MarketingProfs, and Tech.co.

Best Practices for Scraping Social Media for Content Marketing Campaigns

After producing over a hundred social media scrape campaigns over the past seven years, we’ve learned first-hand what types of social media campaigns excel during digital PR outreach.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Yelp all have their unique benefits and can offer valuable insight into topics across the spectrum.

In this post, I walked through five campaigns that used social scraping as a methodology. All three campaigns represented diverse subject matter: college education, sex and relationships, food, leadership, and advertising. This methodology can clearly be used across all verticals — for nearly any brand in any niche.

Here’s some tips to keep in mind when producing content with a social media scrape.

  • Hashtags are typically subjective, so keep projects lighthearted in nature in order to earn major coverage.
  • Stay away from using social scrape methodologies to talk about things that are scientific or close to health topics — people looking for health advice should get information from licensed professionals.
  • Make sure that no matter the topic, whatever you produce contributes to an ongoing conversation.
  • Exercise caution when combining newsjacking and the scrape methodology, because trending news topics can become old very quickly if you don’t earn coverage immediately.

Happy scraping!

editorial calendar

Originally published Jul 8, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 08 2020

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Blog Post Topics

Extended Marketing Mix: What It Is and Why It’s Useful

Cooking is my favorite pastime. It’s so much fun to find new recipes and learn about new ingredients. Plus, (usually) the results are delicious. Finding new recipes and ingredients is nothing short of delightful.

One meal I love to make is grilled cheese — but not just any ole’ grilled cheese. Instead, I use plant-based ingredients and add two condiments: butter, and mayonnaise (trust me).

If I were making grilled cheese for me, I’d have to add some things. First, all of my ingredients have to be plant-based due to my dietary restrictions. Second, I’d add two more condiments: butter and mayonnaise (trust me).

On its own, cheese and bread is a great duo. But with a few additions, a nice duo becomes an excellent mix — one that I’m always excited to eat.

Like a perfect sandwich, every marketing structure calls for good strategies, or “ingredients,” that make it great. Those “ingredients” are generally referred to as a marketing mix, and can be summed up in four categories: Product, pricing, placement, and promotion.

→ Free Resource: 4 Marketing Mix Templates [Access Now]

While the marketing mix describes the basics for product marketing, it doesn’t have room for services marketing. That’s where the extended marketing mix comes into play. And, just like my vegan grilled cheeses, a few additional changes can elevate your service marketing structure to the next level.

Here, let’s dive into what extended marketing mix means, and how it can help

Extended Marketing Mix vs. Marketing Mix

The marketing mix pillars work together to help you make business decisions that’ll define marketing strategy and activities. Identifying these pillars points out what you need, where your company excels, and where it can improve.

The four pillars of the original marketing mix are as follows:

  • Product — This is what your company sells.
  • Place — This identifies how you will sell the product to customers in their preferred way to shop. For instance, will you sell your product on a website, or in a brick-and-mortar shop?
  • Price — This determines how much money you need to sell your product for to hit revenue goals while remaining within price ranges determined by the industry at-large.
  • Promotion — This is where you flesh out the methods you use to engage customers. Promotion, selling, PR, sales, and ads are how businesses commonly communicate with their target market.

Notice how the marketing mix naturally works together. Products need a price, place to be sold, and promotions to reach an intended audience. Promotions need a product, price, and place to make that messaging effective. Ultimately, any way you look at the mix, you’ll find how the other three fit.

On the other hand, the extended marketing mix is just that — an extension of the original pillars. Instead of just four components, there’s an additional three. These three allow for a more complete, updated mix.

The extended marketing mix came along when marketers noticed the original was outdated and needed a few extra pillars. With the additions, the marketing mix now allows for services marketing.

  • People — Describes the people behind the company. No matter the role, the people working with the product are as essential as customers. They advocate for the company and communicate the business’ value to their customers.

Example: The baristas at my local coffee shop create an exceptional customer experience. Of course, the lattes are good, but my favorite barista greets me by name and knows my order, and that ultimately keeps me coming back. A company is only as good as the people behind the scenes.

  • Processes — Identifies how you will meet customer expectations. Outline what you will do to deliver a fantastic consumer experience every time. Consider creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) to solidify processes.

Example: Let’s revisit the coffee shop scenario. Baristas have a recipe to follow when making various drinks that make sure the customer gets their order the way they expect.

  • Physical Evidence — Notes the physical elements needed to complete the mix. Even if a company provides services, there are physical aspects that companies use to delight customers and set themselves apart from competitors, like promotional materials.

Example: The coffee shop in my neighborhood thrives and defines itself with being a local business among the mass of coffee chains in my area. Everything is local — the beans, the mugs, and the decor comes from the Boston area — and that’s how it’s different from a massive chain.

The extended mix, like the original, works with the rest of the mix.

First, let’s talk about how the three Ps can intertwine. People at your company have to follow the processes set in place, using physical evidence. We can also say the processes set in place define the role of people and physical evidence.

If we look at the both mixes, we see the same. Companies need the right people to execute promotion of the product or service. To put the connection between the mixes in a different way, the extended mix is a customer-facing toolkit for enhancing the marketing mix.

The extended marketing mix helps companies define their marketing strategy in a well-rounded system. Identifying each portion of the mix gets you one step closer to a functional, complete marketing plan.

Consider using the extended marketing mix to help you make business decisions that sets your company apart from competitors. For instance, fleshing out the tools needed for promotion involves coming up with an individualized marketing campaign audiences love.

Marketing mixes are considered a foundational part of any organization. If you are just starting to define a business plan, use this strategy to help with budgeting for marketing. The different elements of the mix helps figure out costs.

Every pillar, especially price and promotion, help you determine where to allocate your budget. For example, you have to determine a fair price for your product, and finalize how much you’re willing to put towards other factors, such as promotion and physical evidence.

Now that you know a little more about the extended marketing mix, are you going to use it to figure out your next campaign’s expenses? Remember, this strategy isn’t just for start-ups. If you’re struggling to define a successful strategy, identifying these pillars can be a helpful organizational tool.

Marketing mixes and their extension. Cheese and bread. Chai leaves and hot water. Duos are best when they work together — how are you going to make your marketing mixes work together for your company?

marketing mix

Originally published Jul 8, 2020 4:00:00 AM, updated July 08 2020

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Marketing Budget

CMO Compensation Trends: Female Sr. Marketers Outearn Male Sr. Marketers

Female senior marketers received a higher base salary and bonus, on average, than male senior marketers in 2019, according to recent research from the CMO Council.

The report was based on data collected in 2019 and 1Q20 from 150 CMO Council members as well as data from 325 chief marketer profiles created on the CMO Compensation portal.

The average salary for female senior marketing executives for the time period examined was $212,898, and the average bonus was $56,229.

That compares with an average base salary of $209,525 and an average bonus of $53,388 for male senior marketing executives.

Compensation varied significantly by company size:

  • Senior marketers at large (250+ staff members) companies earnrf an average salary of $236,186.
  • Senior marketers at micro (1-9 staff members) earning an average salary of $175,057.

23 Conversion Rate Optimization Tools for Research, Feedback, Analytics & More

In some cases, these optimization techniques might be as basic as changing the color of a CTA. In other cases, there’s a lot more that can be improved. Before you create any content, you’ll want to call upon these tools to draw inspiration and check out what other smart marketers have seen success with in the past.Don’t know a thing or two about either? Enter: Really Good Emails.Price: Contact for pricingUsing these tools, you’ll have the information you need to organize content, CTAs, and page design in a way that makes the most sense for engagement.

A Look Back at How COVID-19 Impacted Businesses in Q2

Since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, businesses have had to reckon with its economic impact for over a full quarter.

For the last several months, we’ve been publishing weekly cuts of data on core performance metrics, to provide business owners with useful benchmarks as they adapted to circumstances that were changing by the day.

Now that businesses have closed the books on Q2, we wanted to take a step back and assess where our customers are, four months later. How does the state of business compare today to where it was in March? How have teams changed their behavior to adapt to the new economic climate? What’s worked, and what hasn’t? And what changes are here to stay?

This retrospective takes a deep dive into buyer interest, marketing and sales outreach, and sales outcomes (spoiler alert: there’s a lot of engaged prospects out there, but sales teams have work to do in capturing that interest). We examine how different industries, regions, and company sizes have been impacted by COVID-19, and offer suggestions for investments that make sense right now.

HubSpot can’t make predictions about what will happen, and nobody knows what the future looks like. But we hope this report from our customer base provides a helpful reference as businesses enter the next quarter, and that the insights are useful to you in some way. To explore the accompanying dataset on your own, you can find our interactive microsite here.Adapt 2020 HubSpot

This data is based on benchmarks calculated using weekly averages from Q2 vs. post-holiday weekly averages from Q1. Because the data is aggregated from our customer base, please keep in mind that individual businesses, including HubSpot’s, may differ based on their own markets, customer base, industry, geography, stage, and/or other factors. While certain data is reported by industry, please note that we do not track all industries, and that HubSpot’s industry classifications may not correspond with standard industry classifications.

What We’re Seeing Today: A Q2 Snapshot

When COVID-19 began shutting down economies in Q1, businesses that already had an online presence were at a distinct advantage. The data shows steady and sustained growth in buyer engagement, and that businesses with an online presence were ready to capture that interest.

The story gets a little murkier once buyers actually start to engage with companies. Marketing teams have risen to the challenge of keeping prospects interested in a messy, chaotic crisis and met an audience of buyers who suddenly spend all day at their computer. While email volume has risen significantly — typically a no-no for teams hoping to keep their open rates up — open rates have risen faster than volume has grown, demonstrating that teams have been successful at providing relevant and helpful content.

On the sales side, things aren’t going so well. We at HubSpot are wholly empathetic to the uncertainty of buyers everywhere and the stressful situation salespeople work in right now — and that stress has been reflected in an explosion in prospecting activity. Sales teams sent up to 60% more email than pre-COVID benchmarks. But response rates have been dismal. Marketing teams have been able to connect, but sales teams haven’t. This is a huge area of opportunity for businesses as they enter the next quarter of COVID-19.

How COVID-19 Impacted Businesses in Q2

1. Buyer Interest

Site Traffic

Website traffic has been one of the strongest-performing marketing metrics over the last three months. As buyers have moved their purchasing online out of necessity, businesses with an established digital presence have reaped the rewards. Global site traffic increased by 16% during Q2 compared to Q1. Traffic started increasing the week of March 9 and peaked during the week of April 20, at 24% above the benchmark. The metric then settled in the 15-20% range throughout May and June, and currently sits at 20% above the pre-COVID benchmark. Since we saw a similar drop for this metric at the end of Q1, we hope that site traffic will rebound again in July.

With the exception of last week, construction is one of the few industries where website traffic has risen consistently, increasing by 28% since Q1. In fact, traffic to construction websites was almost 50% above the benchmark at the start of June, before coming down a bit later in the month. Computer software followed a similar trend until late April; its positive momentum stalled during May, but rose again in early June. Both industries plateaued last week, but are still trending around 40% above the benchmark.

All other non-structurally impacted industries are following the global trend at just above or below the benchmark. But this average is a tale of two pandemics — some industries are overperforming, while others are lagging far behind. Industries like human resources and manufacturing are seeing similar traffic patterns to pre-COVID, and have remained consistent throughout May and June. Travel, an industry that was structurally impacted by COVID-19, has recovered a remarkable 40% since the week of March 30. Its site traffic is now just below the benchmark at -1%.

Customer-Initiated Chat

Since the business world has suddenly shifted to a remote setting, chat volume has soared. Sales teams have pivoted to chat to grow their pipelines, while customer service teams are leveraging this medium to manage the increased demand for support.

With the exception of two weeks, chat volume has steadily risen week-over-week since the beginning of March, peaking at 45% above the benchmark in late-May. Total chat volume in Q2 outpaced Q1 by a notable 31%. As restrictions on businesses continue to be lifted around the world, it’ll be interesting to see if chat volume maintains this steady growth.

Every industry is trending above the benchmark when it comes to live chat. This is a positive sign that buyer interest is increasing, and that people are engaging with companies more frequently. The industries that have seen the strongest performance in Q2 are construction, consumer goods, human resources, and manufacturing, which all grew by 25% or more during this last quarter. Consumer goods and construction were certainly outliers in Q2, with both industries seeing a bump of 45-50% in volume.

2. Buyer Engagement

Email Marketing

Global marketing email sends rose significantly during the week of March 9, and stayed at elevated levels throughout Q2. Marketers sent 21% more emails during Q2 than Q1, and email sends have recently peaked at 36% above the benchmark during the week of June 15. This elevated volume is the basis for one of this report’s most surprising findings — open rates have not only remained steady relative to the increased send volume, they have actually gone up. The world has only gotten noisier since COVID-19 shut down business as usual, so this is a real testament to marketing teams that have been able to remain relevant and top-of-mind in a stressful time.

Email open rates have hovered around 10-20% above the benchmark throughout Q2. Currently, marketing email open rates sit at 18% above pre-COVID levels. It’s clear that marketing email has been a reliable outlet for engagement during the pandemic, leaving it up to sales teams to capitalize on these opportunities.

It’s also interesting to see how companies of different sizes pivoted their approach to email marketing during COVID-19. For instance, companies with 0-200 employees experienced the most growth in terms of marketing email sends during the past few months. In Q2, 0-25 employees grew 31% compared to Q1 and 26-200 grew 21%. Companies with 201+ employees sent 14% more emails in Q2, and currently this metric sits at 23% above the pre-COVID benchmark.

Even as open rates reached unexpected highs, one rule of marketing email remained true — companies that sent less email got more opens. Companies with 201+ employees had the smallest increase in email volume, and saw consistently higher open rates, currently performing 25% above the benchmark at the end of Q2. 0-25 and 26-200-employee companies also showed a strong end of June, with open rates roughly 15% above benchmark. These numbers are likely trailing behind larger companies because 0-200 employees are sending a lot more emails to a smaller customer base.

All the industries we’re tracking seem to be following the same global trend for marketing email sends, with the exception of human resources, which is sending 81% more email than pre-COVID levels. However, open rates have been quite volatile since late March, calling into question how effective their strategy has been. Right now, open rates for human resources are trending 4% below benchmark, consistent with the maxim that companies should be using email to communicate with customers, but not overusing it to the point where it’s ineffective.

Sales Emails

If Marketing’s job is to identify buyer interest, Sales is responsible for finding the prospects in that pool who will eventually become customers. While sales outcomes are improving (more on this later), sales prospecting has fallen short of its potential.

The number of emails sent by sales teams experienced an immediate and dramatic uptick following the pandemic declaration. From early-March to late-April, sales teams pushed hard to generate pipelines, leading to a 42% increase in email volume. Compared to Q1, sales teams sent 44% more email in Q2. Today, global sales email volume is at an eye-popping 59% above the pre-COVID benchmark.

The problem is that customers aren’t responding to sales emails the same way they’re responding to marketing ones. Like marketing, sales teams increased their email send frequency following the pandemic declaration. But, unlike marketing, their response rates fell significantly during the week of March 16, and have hovered at 25-30% below the benchmark ever since.

Response rates dropped 24% in Q2, even as email volume fluctuated throughout the quarter. As sales teams increased email sends, customers began to tune these messages out or even mark them as spam in their inboxes. So far, it seems if email send rates remain this high, we can expect response rates to trend in the opposite direction.

Two industries — construction and consumer goods — have really stood out. In Q2, both more than doubled the number of sales emails sent compared to Q1, are still well above the benchmark despite some decline in volume during June. Their response rates have been correspondingly lower than the global decrease, with both industries receiving 33% fewer responses in Q2 than Q1.

These trends tell an important story. Email prospecting, to put it bluntly, is out of control. It’s easy to send thousands of emails with just a few clicks, and in a chaotic time, we understand why sales teams are sending so many. But volume and quality is a tradeoff — the time a team saves by sending out email blasts is wasted if that outreach isn’t personalized, relevant, and helpful. These gaps are clear in the data. At this point, sales teams should be working closely with marketing to understand how they can improve their email engagement rates, and sending far less email.

Call Prospecting

As both marketing and sales email volume went up globally, call prospecting plummeted, falling to a low of 27% below the benchmark by the week of April 6. This has been trending upward since, as call events are now at 9% below pre-COVID levels. However, the total number of prospecting activities (email and calling) has increased by 19%, and the shifting ratio between calling and emailing is revealing. In Q1, the ratio was closer to 1:1 while in Q2, sales people sent more than twice as many emails as they made calls. Sales teams will need to return to their pre-COVID balance in order to see improvements in response rates.

All regions have demonstrated overall positive momentum since the week of April 27. EMEA is the furthest below benchmark at -18%, while NORTHAM and APAC are close to pre-COVID levels, trending at 6-7% below the benchmark. LATAM is currently the closest to the benchmark at -2%, following a recent rise in call activity in June. We hope to see these numbers continue to trend in a positive direction as we move into the start of Q3.

3. Sales Outcomes

Deal Creation

New deal creation took a nosedive in March, as companies paused “business as usual” to understand what cutbacks and operating changes they’d need to weather the pandemic. Globally, the number of new deals created was at its lowest point the week of April 6, where 30% fewer deals were created compared to pre-COVID levels. Overall, the number of deals created in Q2 is 8% less than the number of deals created in Q1, and this trend is reflected in all regions and company sizes.

More recently, this metric has been on an upward trajectory globally, though this growth has been volatile. In the 11 weeks since April 6, eight weeks have seen week-over-week growth in deal creation, while three weeks have seen week-over-week decline. The number of deals created have increased for each of the last four weeks, and businesses are hoping that this trend will hold.

All regions are trending positively and are re-approaching pre-COVID levels. APAC, the region that was first impacted by COVID-19 and has to date been relatively successful at containing the virus’ spread, created 5% fewer deals in Q2 than in Q1. North America created 6% fewer deals in Q2, and EMEA and LATAM trail the group at 12% below Q1 averages.

All company sizes are on a similar upward trend, though none have returned to pre-COVID levels. Companies with more than 200 employees are leading the pack, creating just 2% fewer deals in Q2 than in Q1. Compared to Q1, companies with 0-25 employees are down 8%, and companies with 26-200 employees are down 12%.

Unsurprisingly, deal creation cut by industry is seeing the most variability. Travel and entertainment, the two most structurally impacted of the industries we’re tracking, are still far below pre-COVID benchmarks (35% below and 27% below, respectively). Consumer goods is 11% below benchmark, human resources is 10% below benchmark, and computer software is 3% below benchmark. The two industries that are outperforming pre-COVID levels are manufacturing (6% above) and construction, a whopping 36% above benchmark.

Deals Won

Globally, the number of deals won is trending upward as well, and was 8% above benchmark the week of June 22. Like deal creation, this metric has been highly variable since its lowest point — also the week of April 6, when it was 36% below pre-COVID benchmarks. Deals won has seen week-over-week increases for 10 out of the last 11 weeks.

When comparing Q2 to Q1, this metric lagged slightly behind new deals created in its climb toward pre-COVID levels. There were 11% fewer deals won in Q2 compared to Q1, with variability among regions, industries, and company sizes balancing out to that number. As deal creation is a leading indicator of future revenue, this trend is to be expected.

By region, APAC has made the best recovery, with only 6% fewer deals won in Q2 than in Q1. EMEA is the farthest behind at 17% fewer deals won in Q2, while LATAM and NORTHAM are on par with each other at 13% and 9% below Q1 volume, respectively.

Companies with 0-25 employees are closest to Q1 volume, at only 5% fewer deals won in Q2. Companies with 26-200 employees won 17% fewer deals in Q2 than in Q1, while companies with 201+ employees won 16% fewer deals.

As with deal creation, deals won is the most variable when viewed through an industry cut. Four industries are closing more deals than pre-COVID, while three are still far below. Here’s how each industry we’re tracking shakes out:

Above pre-COVID benchmarks:

  • Construction: 24% above benchmark
  • Computer software: 14% above benchmark
  • Manufacturing: 13% above benchmark
  • Consumer goods: 8% above benchmark

Below pre-COVID benchmarks:

  • Human resources: 20% below benchmark
  • Entertainment: 21% below benchmark
  • Travel: 29% benchmark

Perhaps more than any of the other metrics covered in this piece, the long-term health of both deal creation and deals won wholly depends on how the biological reality of the pandemic unfolds. It’s also important to remember that this data should be viewed not as a commentary on the overall health of the economy, but rather as a snapshot of how businesses are behaving right now. Because our data is pulled from HubSpot customers, it is not reflective of the entire economy and does not capture the economic circumstances of any individuals or HubSpot’s own business.

Takeaways

1. Invest in chat.

As many businesses move online for the first time, live chat numbers have skyrocketed in a few industries: construction, consumer goods, and manufacturing. The next few months of the pandemic are, by all expert accounts, uncertain. But we can say that there will be a significant change in how structurally affected industries operate in the future. Many companies who have transitioned online recently will remain online in the future, and this is an investment businesses will be thinking seriously about.

Investing in chat is not only a way to capture the significant uptick in online buyer interest, it’s also a long-term play to help scale your business. Even simple chatbots can take the manual work of basic qualification screening, meeting booking, lead routing, and even simple customer service tasks off your team’s plate, leaving them free to focus on higher-value activities.

Resources to Help:

Free Software to Get Started

2. Shift prospecting away from quantity and toward quality.

The ratio of call prospecting to email prospecting was almost 1:1 before the pandemic. Now it’s closer to 1:2. But response rates are historically low for the non-holiday season, a disconnect between marketing and sales performance that cannot be explained purely by the economic downturn. Salespeople are prospecting 19% more than they were in Q1, and the quality of that outreach has suffered as activity has increased.

Calling is inherently a forcing function in quality sales prospecting. It’s almost not worth it to get on the phone unless you do some research, and that background is key to building rapport, qualifying (and disqualifying), and connecting with buyers. In the age of COVID-19, your entire qualification framework should change — a product that would never have been considered pre-pandemic could be business-critical today, and vice versa. Rethink what a “good fit” looks like right now, create crisp disqualification frameworks to work through leads efficiently, and reprioritize prospecting appropriately. Sales should also be borrowing tactics from marketing — personalization through content, adding a personal touch through video, and prioritizing help over selling.

This ratio also reveals a broader principle sales leaders would do well to remember. Part of sales will always be a volume game, and it’s pointless to deny that. Adopting automation and software cuts down on the time the team has to spend manually sorting leads, and frees them up to feel secure in taking a slower approach to prospecting. Prospecting must be worked from an individual and an operational perspective, and can’t succeed without investment in both processes.

Resources to Help:

Free Software to Get Started

3. Invest in online discoverability.

As a company that sells software to help businesses grow online, we’re witness to a unique moment for our industry. Huge numbers of businesses and buyers shifted online out of necessity, many for the first time. Because this data is reflective of our customer base, which contains companies that have chosen to invest in their online strategy, we don’t have a clear picture of what these numbers look like for businesses that are still 100% offline. But one thing is clear: Businesses that already had an online presence in March were at an advantage.

For most of us right now, our business’s online presence is our business. Whether it’s through a website, a landing page, or a business run through social media, buyers need to be able to find you online. Prioritizing relevant and helpful content, investing in SEO, or taking advantage of a cheaper-than-usual ad marketplace (global ad spend is 8% below pre-COVID levels, and fewer buyers means cheaper keywords), are just a few of the many options you have to reach the right buyers at the right time.

For businesses that do not already have online presences, it may seem intimidating to think about building a website. But the ubiquity of CMS software in 2020 means that it’s possible to stand up a simple site in half a day, for free. And social accounts take even less time. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution — if a website is too daunting right now, it’s perfectly fine to start with just one account and go from there. Any move to online will be more valuable than relying exclusively on analog methods of growing your business.

Resources to Help:

Free Software to Get Started

Sign up for this week’s webinar for more insights surrounding our three-month COVID-19 retrospective.

Adapt 2020 HubSpot

HubSpot COVID-19 Q2 Retrospective Infographic

Originally published Jul 7, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated July 07 2020

How SEO is Different Around the World, According to HubSpot Content Strategists

In 2020, brands are increasingly growing global awareness with international marketing strategies. And, one major way they’ve driven traffic from different regions to their site is through international SEO.

But, like any marketing campaign, SEO is not always a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, every country is diverse, uses the internet a little differently, and might have different sets of regulations. Not to mention, audiences in one country might have vastly different interests, cultural backgrounds, and values than audiences in another region.

As a marketer, your biggest goal should be to know your audience. And, according to HubSpot SEO experts, this is no different when it comes to building an SEO strategy for your international or multi-language website.

“When you run a multi-language version of your website and you’re serious about delivering best-in-class, high-quality content to audiences around the globe, you should invest in an international SEO strategy that will rely strongly on a proper technical structure and global content strategy that considers local nuances,” advises Karolina Bujalska-Exner, HubSpot’s international SEO manager.

But how do you create a winning international SEO strategy? First, it’s important to identify how SEO, search engine algorithms, and search platforms might vary from region to region.

To help those interested in gaining global online awareness, I spoke with HubSpot’s SEO experts to learn how optimization strategies differ around the world. Here are four things to know.

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4 Ways SEO Varies Around the World

1. Your search competition might vary in different geographies

When you’ve only marketed your brand in one country, it will take time to get a social media following, email subscribers, traffic, and other metrics from a new international audience. This is because people around the world are just getting familiar with your brand for the first time.

Although SEO focuses on search, it will similarly take time to grow awareness on another country’s Google or Bing domain.

“Every region of the world has its own Google ccTLD (for example, Google.com, Google.es, Google.fr, Google.jp, etc). Each Google domain follows similar — if not identical — algorithms, but each one is ultimately its own market with its own economy of publishers,” Becker explains.

“A different Google site doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be starting with zero domain authority if you were to expand your content to other regions,” Becker adds. “But it does mean your brand might not have the same awareness it has on Google.com. Therefore, traffic growth may be a bit of an uphill battle as you establish an audience.”

Even though you might be ranking on the U.S. version of Google, keep in mind that audiences on Google.fr in French territories might not know you exist just yet. As you create more content for these markets, they’ll get more chances to click on your content and boost your website’s authority. However, when you start with no SEO or content strategies catered to this market, it will take time to get traffic needed to rank quickly.

2. A region’s language and local nuances can impact your rankings in that territory.

If you’ve done any research on SEO, you probably know that keyword research is a vital way to create and optimize content so it ranks on Google. This is no different in other regions where English or your website’s language might not be as smoothly translated.

“When serving content in different languages, translations or localisations sometimes might not be enough to win rankings or get valuable traffic from another locale,” says Bujalska-Exner.

“Why? Even when the most amazing content is optimized for one region, it might not have a similar meaning or wording when translated to another regional language.”

To mitigate translation issues, Bujalska-Exner says, “It’s important to do your keyword research in the target language so you can find the best regional opportunities for main and long-tail keywords.”

“The same goes for search intent. One term might have completely different intent in another country,” Bujalska-Exner adds. “The way SERPs look varies across the globe. Some countries have more specific search features present than others. This should always be taken into account when deciding how to structure your content.”

As you do international keyword research, Bujalska-Exner advises, “Remember that some SEO tools offer more accurate results for search volumes in specific languages or regions than others. Test several tools before implementing one that provides the most accurate information for your target language.”

Aside from doing research, another helpful way to optimize content for one region is by writing it in that locale’s language from the start.

When you have a regional creator write your content in their language, the writer can better ensure that content is “optimized, helpful, and engaging” to the regional audiences. They can also use their knowledge of the area and audience to include “local examples and ideas,” Bujalska-Exner says.

“There are many ways to set your website for an international audience. The most common are separate ccTlds, subdomains, or language folders.” Bujalska-Exner explains. “Each of those has advantages and disadvantages. You should choose your strategy based on what you want to achieve. You have to think of your SEO needs, the resources you have or might invest in, and choose the best option for you.”

For a technical comparison of ccTlds and international subdomain options, check out this guide.

3. The top search engines in some regions might not be Google or Bing.

While search engines behave similarly internationally, it’s important to know that some of the major sites like Google, Bing, or Yahoo are rarely used or banned in other countries. When marketing web content in these areas, you might need to consider an alternative other than optimizing your site for major search platforms.

“One very clear difference that does exist globally is a search engine’s share of voice in various countries,” Becker explains. “Most search engines you’ve heard of — Bing, Yahoo, Google — have similar algorithms and ranking factors. Therefore SEO for one engine will benefit you across multiple engines. However. some national markets operate on a completely different set of rules “

As our SEO experts have revealed, you don’t have to dramatically change your SEO process, or learn about a whole new list of algorithms to rank on Google in different countries.

But, while the foundation of your keyword research and SEO strategy could be similar from country to country, you’ll still need to identify how search behaviors vary internationally, which languages will be key to your SEO, and local topics that certain international markets might be more heavily searching.

“When discussing SEO, we usually think about optimizing for Google. But, there are many countries in the world where Google’s market share is actually very low,” Bujalska-Exner explains. “Instead there are other regional alternatives that are used as primary engines. For example Yandex is used in Russia and Baidu is primarily used in China.”

Although search engines like Baidu, shown below might look similar to Google, they don’t necessarily act the same, according to our experts.

Baidu, a Chinese search engine.

Becker, who also points out China as one region with its own search engine, adds, “China is unique in that Google does not have a presence in this country at all. The primary source of information in China is from Baidu, which does not resemble the ranking factors that marketers are familiar with from Google.”

4. SEO isn’t that different around the globe — but you still need a strategy for each country.

Because platforms like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are still present around the world, optimizing your website for them won’t be that different from country to country. According to Braden Becker, a senior SEO strategist, there are a number of strategies that will work for these search engines in many different countries.

“SEO isn’t really something that differs globally, but rather extends globally,” says Backer. “In the case of HubSpot, we have an SEO strategy that is both native to each region, but also follows a number of universal SEO techniques that marketers need to know in order to do international SEO successfully.”

Yes. If you want to develop audiences in international territories, you’ll need to keep in mind that people in other regions will be searching for different phrases in different languages. This instantly will make keyword research and SEO strategies different in each area.

However, the ranking algorithms that major search platforms, like Google, use in one country aren’t much different in another. So, if you have SEO specialists in different locations, they might use a similar keyword research and SEO optimization strategy. However, they’ll likely discover different lists of keywords and different blog posts to optimize based on what people in their area are looking for.

Navigating International Marketing

Like any other international or audience growth marketing strategy, you’ll ultimately need to know your target audience, give them content that they enjoy, and encourage them to visit your website more often. As you gain traffic to your international website, you’ll gain brand awareness as well as ranking authority from these markets.

For more international marketing tips, check out this post on social media platforms that weren’t founded in the U.S., as well as this list of brilliant international marketing examples.

Want to dive deeper into international SEO? Here’s a technical guide on how to optimize your site for global search engines. Or, worried you’ll make a major global SEO mistake? Read this post to discover how you could sabotage global SEO.

marketing

Originally published Jul 7, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 07 2020

Topics:

SEO

How These 7 Companies Thrived During the Recession

In 2008, the Great Recession was all over the news. At 14, I didn’t exactly know what that meant. However, I understood that my parents were struggling financially.

While it was the first economic crisis I was old enough to remember, it isn’t the only economic downturn we’ve seen, nationally or internationally.

In 1997, there was the Asian financial crisis. After 9/11, the New York Stock Exchange closed for four days, the first time that had happened since World War I.

The world has faced uncertain times before, and I’m sure it will again. But, how do companies thrive during financially rough times?

In this post, we’ll review seven companies that grew during the recession and see how they succeeded during economic uncertainty.

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1. TeamLogic IT

TeamLogic IT provides IT solutions and consulting services for small businesses. Interestingly, IT has been a growing industry during times of uncertainty, including the 2008 recession.

Since consumers are becoming more and more dependent on newer technologies, this industry usually does well during economic recessions. Technology impacts almost every area of our life from our security to our entertainment.

In fact, sales for technology increased during the 2008 recession.

Because of this trend, TeamLogic IT weathered the storm of 2008 well.

If you want to start a business, it’s important to consider whether that industry has done well during times of economic unrest. Industries such as tech, discount stores, accounting, grocery, healthcare, and DIY/repairs do well.

2. Netflix

You might be thinking, “Of course Netflix survived the 2008 recession, it’s a huge company.”

However, in 2008, Netflix wasn’t yet the media giant it is today.

In fact, Netflix introduced a new product (the streaming service), around the time of the Great Recession as a response to dying video rental stores.

Then, during 2008 and 2009, the company continued to work on partnerships with organizations like Xbox so people could stream through those devices.

It was these innovations that allowed the company to continue to grow during the economic downturn. In fact, they were increasing memberships and subscriptions during the 2008 recession while other companies were struggling to maintain revenue.

Additionally, 2008 wasn’t the only time this company has faced a recession. Netflix was founded before the dot-com bubble and had to weather that storm in the early 2000s.

It was during these times that the brand innovated ways to continue to appeal to their audience, whether that meant introducing new products or expanding its products with partnerships and collaborations.

3. Citigroup

Every year, the Federal Reserve conducts stress tests to see how much capital banks would have if they were subjected to hefty losses.

Interestingly, in 2014, Citigroup had grown in assets, making it one of the only banks to have grown since the 2008 recession.

This bank grew in the aftermath of economic distress while others didn’t because they worked on branding and offering quality services. Citigroup started supporting certain community services which helped with their brand story.

In fact, marketing played a large role in Citigroup’s ability to grow after the 2008 recession.

4. Lego

Lego is an interesting case study because you might think that toys and amusement parks or play centers are unessential, so the industry would be impacted by an economic crisis.

However, during the 2008 recession, Lego decided to expand into a global market.

The company concentrated its efforts on building revenue in Europe and Asia while the U.S. faced economic distress.

By doing this, the company reached an all-time high profitability during a recession. This company expertly knew to expand to global markets when its main market was facing an economic downturn.

5. Groupon

Groupon is another company that you might think, “Of course they survived an economic downturn.”

However, Groupon was just a startup in 2008. In fact, the company launched in the middle of the Great Recession. How can this happen?

Well, surprisingly, startups tend to do well during recessions because they usually fill a need and are able to spend less money because of discount prices.

With Groupon specifically, the site did well because it was offering discounts.

Discounts are in extreme demand during recessions because consumers are trying to cut costs wherever they can. Discounts actually offer consumers a way to survive a recession, which is why discount stores tend to do well during economic instability.

6. Mailchimp

Mailchimp has been around for almost 20 years and has survived several economic uncertainties. The company weathered the economic downturn in 2001 (in fact, that’s when it was founded), and the 2008 recession.

So, how did the brand survive and thrive during a recession? Well, the company was founded during the 2001 crisis and was able to do well because of it.

In 2008, the company survived because they changed their entire business model. They became a freemium business, and their revenue soared after that.

Many customers wanted to use Mailchimp during an economic crisis because it was free. By adjusting to the times and offering a free product, the brand was able to grow and they’ve maintained that business model ever since.

7. Warby Parker

Warby Parker is another example of a brand that was founded during the Great Recession. The reason they were able to succeed during this time? They filled an enormous gap in the marketplace.

While you might think that you shouldn’t start a business during an economic crisis, it’s actually a good time to notice gaps and pain points in the marketplace and fill the need.

Warby Parker did that when they realized it was hard to purchase an affordable pair of fashionable glasses online.

They filled a need and customers showed up even though they weren’t spending a lot of money. The company was marketed as affordable (which was necessary during a recession) and customers needed an affordable glassware solution.

Even if your company isn’t as big as these examples, remember that a lot of enterprise companies today started during a recession.

As another example, Microsoft started after the recession in the 70s. Apple transformed its brand after the 9/11 economic downturn by introducing new products and investments.

The global economy is resilient and uncertainty has always passed. The economy will recover, but it’s important for your company to be prepared for when a financial crisis happens.

These companies succeeded because they looked for new opportunities, expanded into new markets, adjusted their offers, developed new products, and gave folks a cost-efficient alternative. Innovation and creativity can help you succeed in the next economic downturn.

Want to learn more about business growth? Check out our ultimate guide.

remote sales

Originally published Jul 7, 2020 4:30:00 AM, updated July 07 2020

Topics:

Business Growth

How to Write a Request for Proposal with Template and Sample

Whether you’re working for a small agency or a major marketing firm, you’re probably eventually going to need to fill out a Request for Proposal, or RFP.

Your company can’t do everything internally, and when your business needs to purchase a product or service from elsewhere, you might need to shop around. An RFP allows you to collect offers from various vendors and select the vendor that best meets your criteria, both in regards to skill and budget.

Any time you outsource work to a supplier, there’s a potential for issues such as miscommunication around the scope of the work and the compensation. What a good RFP does is eliminate gray area so that both parties understand what needs to be delivered, when, and for how much.

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RFP Template

Here, we’ve provided an RFP template you can follow for initial structure, as well as a sample RFP for further inspiration. But it isn’t one-size-fits-all — you’ll need to tailor your RFP to best articulate your company’s needs.

RFP template with short-form sections for overview, goals, scope, evaluation metrics, and submission requirements

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RFPs come in all shapes, sizes, and visual formats depending on the needs of your company and the work that must be performed. At the top of a standard RFP, you’ll find the following:

Project Name or Description

Company Name

Address

City, State, Zip Code

Procurement Contact Person

Telephone Number of PCP

Email Address of PCP

Fax Number

The body of the RFP will contain additional details about the project, including:

  1. Background/Introduction
  2. Project Goals and Scope of Services
  3. Anticipated Selection Schedule
  4. Time and Place of Submission of Proposals
  5. Timeline
  6. Elements of Proposal
  7. Evaluation Criteria
  8. Possible Roadblocks
  9. Budget

Read on to learn more about what goes into each of these sections so that you can build an RFP of your own.

1. Background/Introduction

In your introductory paragraph, you’ll want to include useful background information about your company — who founded it, what product or service your company offers, what sets you apart from competitors, and where you’re located. If any vendor is serious about working with you, they’ll want this information before moving forward.

2. Project Goals and Scope of Services

Next, you’ll want to outline the project you need completed, and the goals you expect to accomplish from the project. It’s important you get as specific as possible — even outlining individual tasks and criteria involved. You’ll want to include phrases such as “The award will be given to X firm,” with the “X” establishing how you’ll determine the best candidate.

3. Anticipated Selection Schedule

It’s crucial you include a detailed schedule so vendors know if they can meet your deadlines. You’ll also need to give vendors a window for when they can ask questions regarding your project. This’ll limit the hassle, for you and for them.

4. Time and Place of Submission of Proposals

Similar to paragraph #3, this is important information you’ll want to clearly present, so vendors know how and where to submit themselves for consideration.

5. Timeline

By including a time frame in your RFP, you’re able to eliminate any vendor who can’t work within your time constraints. If you’re flexible on your time, you can write something like, “Our company hopes to finish the project within six months, but we’re open to negotiation for the right candidate.”

6. Elements of Proposal

If you don’t outline clearly and specifically what you expect bidders to include in their proposal, you can’t necessarily fault them if they don’t include it. It’s critical you outline a checklist so vendors know which elements you’re expecting to receive. It’s also a good test for who’s capable of handling your demands — if a vendor can’t complete all elements of your proposal, you probably can’t trust them to finish your project, either.

7. Evaluation Criteria

Outlining your expectations will help eliminate vendors who don’t meet them. For this section, you’ll want to do some brainstorming with your team to come up with a mandatory list of items you feel are the best indicators of impressive candidates. Your list could include samples of past work, a proven success record with companies in similar industries, the expertise and technical skills to meet your demands, and a cost of services within your price range.

8. Possible Roadblocks

Here, you’ll want to outline any roadblocks, such as limited resources or a custom website, that might prevent certain vendors from successfully completing the project. This allows you to eliminate unsatisfactory bidders, and it will also help you determine which vendors have the skills and expertise to tackle those challenges.

9. Budget

Any vendor needs to know how much you’re able to pay them for their services before they’ll move forward with their bid.

RFP Sample

The above elements might manifest on the page in a number of ways. For example, here is an RFP sample from TemplateLab.

rfp sample templatelab with tables and red headingsImage Source 

Now that you understand the elements of an RFP , you can build your own template and then fill it out so that you can start accepting bids. We’ll use a fictitious company, Caroline’s Websites, Inc., to illustrate exactly how each section should be executed, starting with the header:

Project Name or Description: Marketing Services

Company Name: Caroline’s Websites, Inc.

Address: 302 Inbound Ave.

City, State, Zip Code: Boston, MA 29814

Procurement Contact Person: Caroline Forsey

Telephone Number of PCP: 227-124-2481

Email Address of PCP: cforsey@consulting.com

Fax Number: N/A

Next, we’ll go into each of the elements of the RFP with information using the same fictitious company. 

1. Background/Introduction

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. is a web design firm created by Caroline Forsey in 2010. Caroline’s Websites, Inc. prides itself on a team-oriented, solutions-based approach to web design. We provide our clients with web design services including coding, development, and branding. Our staff is located in two offices in Massachusetts.

2. Project Goals and Scope of Services

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. is seeking the services of a full-service communications and marketing firm to develop and execute a comprehensive integrated marketing plan that increases our SEO presence; attracts more social media followers; and effectively completes a lead generation campaign. The award will be made to a responsive and responsible firm based on the best value and professional capability.

The selected firm will be responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive and cost-effective marketing plan.

Tasks include but may not be limited to the following criteria:

• Lead generation campaign

• Paid media strategy

• Production of creative material including collateral and direct mail

• Online marketing campaign

• Website enhancement

• Search engine optimization

• General account management

• Other communications and/or marketing-related assistance as required

3. Anticipated Selection Schedule

The Request for Proposal timeline is as follows:

Request for RFP: June 1, 2020

Deadline for Bidders to Submit Questions: July 5, 2020

[Company Name] Responds to Bidder Questions: July 20, 2020

Selection of Top Bidders / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: July 31, 2020

Start of Negotiation: August 5, 2020

Contract Award / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: August 31, 2020

4. Time and Place of Submission of Proposals

The RFP will be posted on our website, Carolinewebsites.com, and can be downloaded from there directly as of 10 a.m. on June 1, 2020.

Respondents to this RFP must submit one original and five copies of their proposal. Responses must be received no later than July 25, 2020. Responses should be clearly marked “RFP-MarketingServices” and mailed or delivered to the contact person listed above.

5. Timeline

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. needs the project completed within 8 months.

6. Elements of Proposal

A submission must, at a minimum, include the following elements:

• Description of the firm that includes a general overview, names and credentials of creative team, number of full-time employees.

• A one-page narrative outlining the firm’s strengths and distinguishing skills or capabilities as they might relate to Caroline’s Websites, Inc.

• A representative selection of social media ads, direct response material, collateral, and website development created for current and past clients.

7. Evaluation Criteria

The successful respondent will:

• Have been operating continuously as a marketing agency for a minimum of 24 months and possess full-service, in-house capabilities for marketing, creative services, production, media planning and placement, direct response and research.

• The education, experience, knowledge, skills, and qualifications of the firm and the individuals who will be available to provide these services.

• The competitive cost of services.

• The expertise of the firm in working with similar customers.

8. Possible Roadblocks

At this time, Caroline’s Websites, Inc. currently has custom coding on our website, of which bidders should be aware.

9. Budget

Caroline’s Websites, Inc.’s budget for the project is $8,750.00.

These elements were written in a way to clarify the scope of the project that Caroline’s Websites, Inc. wants completed so that suppliers know whether or not to make a bid. Defining the project allows the bidder to determine if they’re a good fit and how much they’d likely charge. Being as transparent as possible serves to benefit (and even protect) both parties in the long run.

To use some of these elements in your own RFP, start with an RFP template and adjust it to your liking.

rfp template

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Originally published Jul 6, 2020 9:00:00 AM, updated July 06 2020

Topics:

RFPs

14 of the Best Meeting Scheduler Tools to Organize Your Day

We complain about spending countless hours in unproductive and mismanaged meetings.

But the greater crime is all the wasted time we spend scheduling the meeting.

The endless back-and-forth communication and steps — reviewing calendars, finding out the best place to meet, setting up a call-in number, adding the meeting to the calendar, and inviting all the necessary attendees. The process makes your meeting a hassle before it even starts.

Effortlessly scheduling meetings without the annoying back-and-forth emails. Get free access to HubSpot Meetings here.

Whether you’re trying to find the perfect window of time to catch up with your busy team, or looking for the best way to coordinate with your clients, these meeting scheduler tools have you covered.

1. HubSpot

A lot of meeting scheduler tools connect to your inbox, but what if you need your meeting schedule available in your CRM as well? HubSpot’s meeting scheduling tool integrates with both your calendar and your HubSpot CRM, so setting up meetings with customers, prospects, or leads is a painless process.

The Meetings tool provides users with a personalized booking link they can share via email to invite people to view their availability and book time. When someone schedules a meeting, it will automatically be added to your calendar, and pushed to the CRM.

(By the way, we humbly recommend our own tool because of the value it provides, especially for sales reps and marketers. Click here to see how it works.)

HubSpot Meeting Scheduling App and Website interface

2. Arrangr

This tool handles meeting scheduling from beginning to end by reserving tentative meeting times and also releasing slots that don’t get taken. It integrates with calendars and CRMs, and it has the capability of scheduling group events. The most unique thing, though, is its ability to suggest the perfect meeting location for all parties.

arrangr meeting scheduler interface on mobile

3. Demodesk

Demodesk is an all-in-one meeting scheduler and assistant designed specifically for sales demo scheduling. Not only do you get custom booking pages, calendar syncing, and meeting analytics, but you can also take advantage of its advanced screen sharing and virtual display options. As a plus, it has native integrations with many tools, including CRMs.

demodesk scheduling date picker interface

4. Rallly

Finding a time for a group of people to meet can be a nightmare, especially if your team is large or includes remote employees. Rallly lets you create a simple, straightforward poll where attendees can vote on a day for an event that works best for them. It also includes an open comment section on the meeting page, so attendees can plan the meeting agenda or discuss details before the event.

rally meeting tool scheduling interface

5. Assistant.to

Assistant.to lets you work directly from Gmail and Google Calendar to select available meeting times and share those open slots with the person you’re trying to schedule a meeting with.

From within the message compose screen in Gmail, you can select the meeting duration and location. This information is included in an email, allowing the recipient to click on the time that works best for them. Once you’ve agreed on a time, the app adds the meeting with all the relevant details to your calendar. Currently, group scheduling is not an option.

assistant.to meeting scheduler

assistant.to calendar interface

6. Calendar

Calendar, which recently acquired Timebridge, is a free service that integrates Google and Apple calendars. The app offers two ways to schedule meetings.

With the “outbound” method, hosts indicate their own availability, list the attendees they’d like to come to a meeting, and use the Calendar software to send out an email to collect everyone’s preferred times. After Calendar determines the ideal time for everyone to meet, the app will schedule the meeting for you. With the “inbound” method, Calendar gives you a personal URL where users can check your availability and request times to meet with you.

Event page creation on Calendar website

7. NeedToMeet

NeedToMeet doesn’t require you to sign up for an account to use their service. You simply enter a brief description of your meeting’s purpose, block off your availability on a calendar, and send the link to attendees. The free version doesn’t sync with your calendar, but they do offer a premium subscription which integrates with Outlook.

This tool differs from services like Rally and Doodle because it allows attendees to indicate their preferred date and times, rather than only choosing from a list of dates and times set by the meeting host.

needtomeet calendar interface

8. YouCanBook.me

If you find yourself struggling to make your availability known to clients, try out YouCanBook.me. This freemium service offers users a custom URL where users can view free spots on your Google Calendar or iCloud Calendar and book time with you.

The service allows you to customize your booking page with different layouts, colors, and your company’s logo.

YouCanBook.me Scheduling tool interface

9. Pick

Pick automatically scans everyone’s Gmail calendars to find open slots, and then delivers a list of mutually available times. You can then send a calendar invite to all attendees directly from the app.

All members of your team need to be on Pick in order to share their availability. The app also provides users with an individual URL so you can share your availability with people requesting a meeting.

pick meeting app which highlights Times That Work for the user

10. Doodle

With Doodle, you can pick date and time options, and poll a group to see what works best for them. You don’t have to sign up for a Doodle account to participate in a poll. You can also create a public Doodle URL, where individuals can request a meeting with you based on your listed availability.

doodle scheduler interface that allows teams to show availability

11. Calendly

Calendly integrates directly with your Google or Office 365 calendar, and gives you a personalized URL where people can view your availability and schedule times to meet you. They offer a basic free plan, and a paid premium plan that allows for group scheduling and other additional features.

To help you stay organized, the app lets you set up custom meeting types and durations, e.g., “30 Minute Check-In” or “60 Minute Project Review.” You can add also add custom questions to the form people use to sign up to meet with you, include a link to a document or web page people should review prior to your meeting, or even make events private.

calendly app dashboard interface

calendly time and day selection screen

12. Clara

Meet Clara, a virtual assistant fueled by machine learning who can schedule all your meetings and get acquainted with your scheduling patterns. Once you sign up, you indicate your preferences as to which days and times you are available for meetings and your favorite locations for coffee, lunch, or drinks.

If someone requests a meeting, you canCC Clara’s email address (which can be customized to your company’s domain), and the virtual assistant will determine a time, date, duration, participants, and location for the meeting. She also understands human commands like, “I’m sick, can you reschedule my meetings on Tuesday?”

It currently only works with Gmail, and it does have a hefty price tag, but it could be worth the cost if scheduling is a major pain point for your company. Especially considering it’s still significantly cheaper than hiring a human personal assistant.

clara-labs calendar view of schedule

13.Google Calendar

If your team uses the GSuite and would like to streamline scheduling processes, you can schedule meetings with others through Google Calendar.

If your work email is already part of a GSuite membership, you can go to your calendar, search another team member under the “Meet with” tab on your left, and then click their name to view their calendar up against your own. If you click on a time slot on that calendar, you can schedule a meeting with both yourself and that teammate.

Meet with feature on Google Calendar

If your teammates aren’t part of your GSuite, you can press the share button and share your calendar with their email address. From there, they can enter the calendar and schedule a meeting time with you.

The options are endless for meeting scheduler tools. The choice is ultimately up to you which one fits your personal workflow.

14. Zoom

Zoom is known as one of the most popular video conferencing platforms, but it also includes tools to make the process of scheduling one a lot easier. You can choose to add the meeting to your calendar (which may send an invite to the recipient for you) or you can copy and paste the generated invite to an email. In addition, Zoom Meetings features include recording and transcripts functions.

zoom meeting scheduler interface

How to Schedule a Meeting With HubSpot’s Meeting Tool

The HubSpot Meetings Tool allows you to book meetings with contacts without wasting time with all the back-and-forth, and it connects with Gmail, Outlook, and more. Best of all: It’s free.

Here are the steps to get started:

1. Sign up for a free HubSpot Sales account.

The Meetings Tool comes free with our Sales Hub, and both are powerful when combined with our free CRM.

2. Click the Meetings link under the Sales tab.

This will take you to the back end of the Meetings tool where you can create your own meeting link.

3. Click the “Create meeting link” button in the top right corner.

You may see the option to choose Personal or Team. If it’s just you that’s requesting the meeting, choose Personal.

4. Fill out your meeting details.

HubSpot asks for the headline (which will show up on your Meetings Tool), name, what you want your link URL to be, and more details.

screenshot of meetings tool to add meeting details in hubspot

5. Configure your meeting in HubSpot.

There are also additional fields for optional details to be included in the invite, such as subject and description that will be sent to attendees.

screenshot of meetings tool to configure meeting in hubspot

6. Designate your availability.

This is the key feature that eliminates the back and forth. By designating when you can meet, this will display only those times for the recipient to choose from.

screenshot of designating meeting availability in hubspot

7. Add form questions for qualification.

If you’re in sales and have your Meetings Tool visible to anyone, you may want to only allow qualified prospects to book with you. This section requires a few fields to give you more insight.

screenshot of hubspot meetings tool form questions

8. Click “Save changes” and check your work.

Once you click this button, you’ll see a popup that includes your page link and the embed code.

screenshot of meeting link created in hubspot

Copy and paste the booking link into your browser and check to see if your Meetings Tool has this meeting configured the way you want it.

screenshot of hubspot meetings tool calendar picker

If you’re ready to take advantage of this neat tool, you can set it up for free right now.

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

Originally published Jul 6, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated July 06 2020

Topics:

Productivity

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