CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos or video on a mobile deviceIt’s 2 1/2 months before pitchers and catchers are due to report to spring training. A’s hurler Daniel Mengden already has nailed down his first save.Mengden was returning to his Houston home when he ran across a rescue in progress, MLB.com reported. Two puppies were trapped in a storm drain.“It was just kind of dumb luck,” Mengden told MLB.com. “I noticed some people were outside their cars, kind of …
Refugees flee fighting in Sudan in May 2008. (Image: Irin Photo)The Sudanese government’s announcement of a ceasefire in Darfur would not alone solve a crisis that has lasted nearly six years and left hundreds of thousands of people dead – but offers a glimmer of hope, analysts say.On Wednesday 12 November Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir announced an “immediate, unconditional ceasefire” in Darfur. He called for an immediate campaign to disarm militias accused of committing some of the worst atrocities during the conflict.The pronouncements were among the recommendations of the Sudan People’s Initiative, bringing together government, political opposition parties and civil society to brainstorm solutions to the crisis in the North African country.Darfur rebels boycotted the forum and one of the most powerful groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), said it would not accept a ceasefire without a framework of agreement, declaration of principles and a timeframe for ceasefire.“Without that, we are not interested in any talk that is not going to be substantiated by improvement on the ground,” El-Tahir El-Fak, speaker of JEM’s Legislative Assembly, said.Observers said the success of the latest ceasefire depended not only on its implementation, but other political steps.Pagan Amum, secretary-general of the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), a partner in a government of national unity following the 2005 peace deal, said the ceasefire was a good start.“[But] declarations are not enough. Implementation is what is needed.”Amum said this ceasefire alone would not be enough to convince the international community to suspend Bashir’s likely indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, but rather, “a peace process, giving results and serious commitment”.While many are sceptical of just how genuine this latest commitment is, others doubt the promises made now will be kept if and when the ICC decides to issue an arrest warrant.PreconditionsA Western diplomat said the government had to meet a set of criteria in order to seek a deferral of the indictment: faster deployment of the UN-African Union force, Unamid, cessation of hostilities, a better environment for displaced people and humanitarian aid workers, and uninterrupted implementation of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement.This ceasefire, if it held, would satisfy only one of those criteria. What is more, the president announced the ceasefire with a caveat – “provided that an effective monitoring mechanism be put into action and be observed by all involved parties”.“There are no forces that can monitor the ceasefire,” said Foreign Minister Deng Alor of the SPLM, adding that he doubted Unamid had the capacity yet. “The decision to call for a ceasefire is a positive thing, but then it has to be made to work.”Other Sudan People’s Initiative’s recommendations – all endorsed by the president, who said he would create a special committee to monitor their implementation – included the release of Darfurian political prisoners, individual and collective compensation, and increased police presence in the camps for displaced people.Darfur rebels said they were disappointed that some key issues were not nailed down, including the release of JEM fighters sentenced to death, making the three states of Darfur a semi-autonomous region, and giving the region a vice-presidential post.These issues, according to analyst Alex de Waal, were critical for Darfurians, “because they provide those cast-iron guarantees that Darfur’s wishes cannot be overridden by a national political system in which they are a numerical minority”.Bashir called on the rebels to come to the negotiating table and said he would create a committee charged with wooing them, but De Waal said: “Bashir needs to build a lot of confidence before he can expect the movements to respond positively.”Still, the analyst remained cautiously optimistic.“The most important reality today is that the denial and self-imposed political paralysis that have marked the Sudanese political establishment’s approach to Darfur have been decisively overcome … There’s a glimmer of hope.”Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at email@example.com.Source: Irin NewsRelated articlesAfrica: fast factsBetter government across AfricaUN, AU strive for peace in Africa
Advertising Back in 1999 a lot of startups burned through all of their cash on crazy advertising programs and marketing stunts. Even though HubSpot recently raised $12 million in venture capital financing, that’s not us. In fact, because we use mostly inbound marketing, we spend relatively little on marketing. So, I thought it might be fun to think about the ways we could (but won’t) spend the money.Send 17 Million Pieces of Direct Mail. There are a bunch of services where you can rent a list, they will print, address and mail a postcard for you for about $0.70 including postage. There are 25 million businesses in the US, we could get rid of the 8 million that are not a good fit for HubSpot, and send the rest of them a postcard.Place 50 Million Cold Calls. I found this service online that will make 1,000 cold calls for $250. Well, I’ve got $12 million dollars, and I figure I should get a little discount for buying in bulk. With 50 million cold calls, we could call every single business in the US…. twice. How awesome would that be! Talk about a great way to get the word out. After just a couple weeks every single business owner in the US would know HubSpot. Talk about buzz!!!Create a mascot and make it world famous. I am thinking that we need to do something with the orange widget in our logo. Give it a face and a name, and have it walk around and talk to people about marketing. Maybe it could also be really snarky and sarcastic and make funny jokes about how lame most advertising is. We’ll schedule some time with the creatives at our NYC advertising agency and then hire a director to film some short movies with our new mascot. (Inspiration: Do you remember the Pets.com sock puppet? It was a character that the startup created to market itself. When the company finally went bankrupt, many people speculated that the sock puppet character was worth more than the company.) Buy 1 Billion Pop-up Ads. If you assume a $12 CPM for pop-up ads we could get a billion of them. Imagine a billion pop-ups invading every computer online. We could do all of the “best practices” for pop-up ads. “Squash the monkey and win a prize.” “Pick who will win, Obama or Hillary.” “System message: Your computer is about to electrocute your mother unless you click this box and pay $9.95 to have the virus removed.” I think the response to this would be huge!Start a Fleet of 5 HubSpot Blimps. This would be cool. We just pick the 5 best markets in the US for HubSpot and park a blimp overhead 24×7. A blimp is about $2 million, so this plan still gives us $400K to pay for gas and pilots for each blimp (and you thought I wasn’t thinking ahead). Everyone in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco would be wondering “What the heck does HubSpot have to do with a blimp?” We’d be wondering the same thing. But it would still be cool. Put Marketing Devices Similar to Bombs in a City. You all heard about the backfired marketing stunt in Boston from Turner Broadcasting? Where they put electronic signs that got mistaken for bombs around the city? Sure, it shut down a lot of the major roads and got them sued and they had to pay a ton of fees in damages to the city. But talk about BUZZ, baby! The stunt got them coverage in the New York Times! All PR is good PR as they say. And with $12 million we can place a lot of devices and still pay off a bunch of lawsuits. Bring it on!The HubSpot NASCAR team. Sure, there is not a strong connection between NASCAR fans and HubSpot’s target market. But who can resist the lure of getting involved in one of the fastest growing sports in the US, especially when it is much more open to commercial involvement that other sports. A cool $12 million will net us a lead sponsorship of a lower level NASCAR team, including our logo on the car, uniforms, using the crew in marketing events, and more. Hire a Celebrity Spokesperson. Want a great way to get people to pay more attention to your company? Hire a celebrity as your spokesperson. GoDaddy has Danica Patrick. Accenture uses Tiger Woods. I had a hard time thinking about who would be best for HubSpot. But I think Oprah might be a good choice – she has proven she has staying power, and she is basically a self made marketing success having promoted herself for years. Another choice might be Martha Stewart. I’d just want to hear her say “HubSpot, its a good thing.” But I guess the whole insider trading and prision thing might not be a positive for our brand. If you have ideas about this, leave a comment. I’m all ears. 10,000 Hours of Infomercials. Have you ever bought a set of steak knives from a late-night TV ad? What about a juicer or car wax? And don’t forget any number of cleaning products from electric sweepers to miracle stain removers. Do you dread your nights of insomnia because you fear it will cost you more than just lost sleep because the infomercials are too convincing? Clearly we’re missing a big opportunity here. I mean at 2am when you can’t sleep, you are certainly looking for some inbound marketing software. HubSpot Infomercials, here we come! “Get started fast with just 12 monthly payments of $250! Buy today and get a Free Website Grader Report!” Send 250 Billion Spam Emails. Yes, 250 BILLION with a B, baby!!! This is an even better deal than those cold calls. I found this service online that will send 4,000,000 “opt-in emails” for just $200, and again, they discount at higher volumes so I should be able to get an even better rate. Think about the effect this would have. If we sent them all at once we could probably crash the entire Internet. Sure, probably a lot of them would be blocked by Spam filters. But some of them would have to get through. Plus the buzz factor would be tremendous!!! Pretty much everyone on the planet could get an email from HubSpot. Or every person in the US old enough to use email could get 1,000 HubSpot advertisement emails. That’s one a day for three years. Huge! The best part about this program… they take credit cards online so I get 12 million AMEX points once I fill out my expense report. Can you say 4 weeks all expenses paid in Tahiti? I can!What would you do if you wanted to waste $12 million on marketing? Leave a comment with your own funny idea.The Funniest Idea of How to Spend $12 Million to Market HubSpot will Win a $100 Amazon Gift CardPost your idea as a comment on this article. The comment must be made by 12 midnight on Tuesday, May 20, and I alone will be responsible for determining what the funniest idea is.Update: Contest is Now ClosedThe winner is Pete from www.elrhino.com. His reponse, and the accompanying Boston Globe article was the one that caused the most out loud laughter around the office. Click here to open the full size version in a new window. Pete should email me at mvolpe [at] hubspot [dot] com to claim your prize.There were lots of good ideas! All the other tattoo ideas were good, the in person pop-ups suggested by Lisa Warnock were cool (and actually could be do-able on a small scale), and the awesome idea of HubSpot toilet paper by Darren Angus with the slogan “When you least want to be interrupted, you’ll be happy we are there.” I wonder what Charmin would charge for that? Originally published May 19, 2008 10:36:00 AM, updated October 29 2019 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
Download the 18-page eBook. Here are a handful of tips that are included inside the eBook: that walks you through the entire video creation process: Marketers can use video to generate traffic to their websites, build brand buzz, collect inbound links (which can help SEO), and build social media presence and reach. Filming Technique: To show the perspective of a person listening to another person, use an Over Shoulder shot. To get this shot, put the corner of the camera directly behind the shoulder of the person listening. Lighting Technique: Avoid recording a scene with a window in the background. This will cause your subjects to be dark and difficult to see. full of suggested beginner and intermediate cameras, audio equipment, editing programs and measurement tools. eMarketer predicts step-by-step eBook Originally published May 11, 2010 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 that by the year 2013, 85% of Internet users (or 188 million people) will consume online video. The eBook also includes a Download the free eBook. Research company Promoting: Send traffic to your YouTube video immediately after publishing. YouTube rewards videos that receive a surge of traffic within the first 48-hours of being live by recommending the video to more viewers. To help you take advantage of video, we’ve created a Online Video Marketing Kit Video Equipment List . Topics: Want more? You can download additional resources on how to use video for business in our Video Editing: A video that begins suddenly (or loudly) can be jarring. Add video transitions like fade-ins and fade-outs between clips to add professional polish. This eBook is a great guide to learning how to create video from a business perspective. Use it to create great new video masterpieces that drive traffic, leads and business. How to Use Online Video for Marketing. Driving Business: Determine your video’s call-to-action when writing your video script. Video Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
on the topic. Based on over 170,000 blog posts I’ve created a visualization of the best times and days to post for views, links and comments. Click on the image below to see it full-size. Originally published Dec 8, 2010 5:51:00 PM, updated October 18 2015 For more data like this, be sure to Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack . In working on the data for my big overarching post for ProBlogger Science of Blogging webinar tomorrow register for tomorrow’s webinar Over the past few years, I’ve researched and written a lot about the best time, and recently, I wrote a , one of the most important questions I could ask my data was “when is the best time to publish a blog post?”
Identifying the influencers Building relationships with them Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack In a way, PR is one of the original forms of content marketing. Public relations professionals do plenty of things, of course: publicity, reputation management, and media relations, to name but a few. But the heart and soul of PR has always been planting stories in the media: in newspapers, magazines, on television and radio. With the exception of “the exclusive,” the primary tool in the arsenal for planting stories has traditionally been the press release, a brief, persuasive, one or two page document intended to persuade its journalist recipients that a certain topic is worth their time, attention, and coverage. An This lays out a new set of challenges: That’s a real game changer. our free webinar Content Marketing . Influencers can be bloggers or others with a significant social media following who are talking online about the issues, products, or services that fit with whatever a PR professional is working to publicize. And unlike the mainstream media, these essential targets are not necessarily versed or experienced in dealing with PR pros. . They’re no longer a private, one-to-one communications channel (once upon a time, releases were mailed, and later faxed, to newsrooms). In today’s age, press releases are distributed via wire services — wire services that are immediately picked up by all the major news services including Google, Yahoo, AOL News, and Bing. In other words, the second a press release is actually released content marketing How are you adapting to the changing nature of isn’t dead in the context of content marketing. Instead, it’s optimized for a variety of different target audiences as well as for search engines. Given that once a release crosses the wire, it’s “out there” for anyone to find (not just journalists), keyword research has become an essential component of optimizing press releases for search. Once you decide on two or three relevant search terms, these terms should be incorporated into the headline and opening paragraph of the release. It’s become increasingly important for press releases to contain links to video, photos, executive bios, a company or product web site — anything that will expand upon and enrich the story. influencers End-users, potential buyers, or clients can now be the target of your press release. In bygone days, that target was limited to the press. Where PR pros used to jealously maintain, guard, and update media lists, their who’s-covering-what-beat Rolodex of who to reach out to place stories, the challenge now is to target on Thursday, July 28, when we’ll discuss these concepts in greater details, as well as flesh them out with case studies. Finding the online communities where relevant discussions occur press releases don’t work that way anymore Yet, fundamentals remain the same. PR professionals are good at helping to shape and to spread stories, and , will be published by Pearson in September. Find the Influencers (Not Necessarily the Journalists) themselves effective press release , a digital marketing consultant specializing in content marketing and SEO as well as a sought-after speaker, writer, and author. Her next book, . I hope you’ll join us for Creating awareness and enough enthusiasm to encourage these people and groups to discuss the product/service/story. Enter the Optimized Press Release the media. Moreover, they interface and target a media landscape that’s grown far beyond traditional press and broadcasts outlets. But ? public relations Public relations just plain doesn’t work the way it used to is, as we’ve seen, very much about stories. In a digital landscape, this necessitates not only finding and shaping stories, but also determining how they are told, through which channels, and to whom. Rebecca Lieb Topics: This is a guest blog post by Originally published Jul 19, 2011 5:05:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 , the PR practitioner has broken his or her own story. It’s hard to persuade people in the news business to pick up “news” once the story is already “out there.” Public Relations So while PR practitioners were once exclusively in the business of influencing the media (and they still are), they (like all other content marketers) are
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an email newsletter, you’ve likely been more bored than that shamelessly cute baby to the right. I get it — when you’re not sure what to write, but you feel like an email has to go out, why not send an update about products, services, and what’s going on at your company?Unfortunately, the result is often a whole lot of generic, irrelevant content sent to a poorly segmented list — and that results in low open/click-through rates and lots of unsubscribes. That means best case scenario, your reputation is dinged in your subscribers’ eyes; worst case scenario, your reputation is dinged by Return Path and future email deliverability is negatively impacted.But there are awesome email newsletters out there. So what separates the triumphs from the tragedies? And how do you ensure your email newsletter is successful? This blog post will break down why email newsletters fail, and how you can ensure your recipients love every newsletter you send! Why Email Newsletters Often Fail, and How to Make Yours Succeed First, let’s define what an email newsletter is, and what it isn’t. An email newsletter is an email from a business that communicates announcements about products, services, industry, or general company information. It includes a mix of content, like event reminders, surveys, educational information about your product, service, or industry, and promotions and other offers.An email newsletter is not a dedicated promotional email that contains information about just one offer; a digest that simply summarizes a roundup of content you’ve published; a lead nurturing email (though a side effect certainly may be a better nurtured lead); or a transactional email that provides order information or prompts a shopper to complete a purchase. These other types of emails are important parts of your email marketing strategy, and you can learn more about them in this blog post .Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s examine why email newsletters often fail, and what you can do to prevent said failure. Poorly Segmented List As with any email marketing, the content in your email newsletter should be relevant to your audience. And that doesn’t happen without list segmentation. The problem is, often email newsletters are sent as the catch-all content — it’s so generic, it can apply to everybody on your email list!Or no one at all … because as we’ll discuss in more detail in the next section of this post, generic content doesn’t get you far. Your email newsletter should only go out to those recipients who are interested in the subject matter of the newsletter. I can tell you right now that there are people on HubSpot’s own email list that don’t give a whit (not a typo) about marketing automation, but are extremely interested in how to get leads from social media; and vice versa. If my newsletter focuses on the latest social media developments — is it wise to send that newsletter to subscribers who wanted to hear about marketing automation software? I think not.There are two ways to remedy this. The first is to marry the interests of both list segments and write a newsletter about, say, social media marketing automation . The more list segments you have, however, the more difficult it will become to create newsletter content that applies to everyone. If you’re facing this problem, the better solution is to tailor content to each list segment. This means either segmenting lists yourself and creating newsletter content that is relevant to that list segment, or letting recipients opt in to newsletters about a specific subject matter.Finally, whenever you create a call-to-action on your website for a visitor to sign up for your email newsletter, be as clear as possible about the content of that newsletter. Setting these expectations up front will help you capture those who truly want the content your newsletter will cover, and filter out those who will ultimately be disappointed with the content of your email.When properly segmented, email newsletters have one of the highest click-through rates (CTRs) of all email types — far exceeding promotional or transactional messages. This is the first step you should take on your way to creating a successful email newsletter. Information Overload Email newsletters often suffer from a few types of information overload: either the breadth of information covered is too wide, the quantity of information is too overwhelming for any reader to actually consume, and/or the information is just plain not interesting. Let’s break down how to avoid each of these problems.We’ll begin with the issue of covering too wide a breadth of information, which we touched on in the first section of this post. If you send an email about too many subjects, it’s too unfocused to be relevant to anyone. Let’s play a game of “one of these things is not like the other” to demonstrate the concept further. You run email marketing for a clown college, and for your next email newsletter, you want to touch on the following topics:Clown financial aid application deadlineClown work study programsClown intramural sports leaguesStudent loan options for clownsWhat would you leave out? The information about sports leagues, right? It’s not that some of your prospective and current clown students aren’t interested in sports clubs at the school, it’s just that not all of them will be — and doesn’t it make sense to talk about what that entire list segment does care about (paying for school) and save the sports talk for another list segment that does care about extracurriculars?Just as you should provide your readers a focused subject matter in your emails, you should help them maintain that focus by limiting the amount of text in the email. Often email newsletters try to write an entire article about their subject matter — but is an email really the place to detail what options clowns have for student loans? If it requires more than a couple sentences of explanation, a web page is the more appropriate venue. Write a brief description of the content in your email newsletter, then include a link to read more on your website so your reader isn’t overwhelmed with text in the email. Not only is this easier to consume, but it also drives visitors to your website, provides opportunities for reconversion, and gets you more indexable pages filled with great content to improve your SEO !Finally, newsletters often suffer from talking about information that no one cares about, which usually takes the form of self-promotional content. It’s not that you shouldn’t talk about your product, service, or company — that’s part of the definition of an email newsletter. But there’s a way to present that information that demonstrates value for the reader, instead of appearing like a relatively meaningless press release or announcement. Ask yourself the “so what?” of any announcement you’re making. For example, why does it matter to the reader that you’re launching a new product? Will it make them better at their jobs? If so, how? Announce the feature, and then explain the end benefit of that feature for your reader. If you can’t think of an end benefit, nix the content from your newsletter. Competing Calls-to-Action In most email marketing, with every new call-to-action you include, the effectiveness of each is diluted more and more. So in an email newsletter with so many different pieces of content contained therein — surveys, deadlines, offers, product launches, etc. — it’s easy to break one of the cardinal rules of email marketing: including only one call-to-action!So how do you get past this? The first step is acceptance — there will be more than one call-to-action in your email newsletter. But that doesn’t mean they have to compete with one another. Take a step back, and ask yourself what you want your recipients to do when they read your newsletter. What’s the point?Let’s revisit our clown financial aid example. Perhaps the email marketing manager decided the point of the newsletter is to show prospective students the options they have at their disposal to pay for school — financial aid, work study, and student loans. These may all point to different pages on the website when the reader clicks through on the story, but the call-to-action on each of those pages could point to one all-inclusive guide about paying for clown college. The end goal is the same: getting clowns to pay for school. Each of those pieces of content, the pages a reader lands on when they click through, and the calls-to-action available to them on those pages all contribute to that goal.You can also use design to emphasize one particular story over others. For example, if the financial aid deadline is the most important part of the newsletter, it should act as a feature story and take up more room in the newsletter than the rest of the stories. In fact, let’s look at how else design can make or break your email newsletter. Inconsistent Design and Layout Because email newsletters are a compilation of stories, many businesses change the appearance of the emails from send to send to accommodate the ever-changing content. It makes sense — images could be different sizes from week to week, there might be an uneven balance of content, or you can’t decide which content should be prioritized. But instead of making the difficult choices, marketers often just adapt their newsletter design to accommodate that send’s specific needs.Don’t do it! Not only does it take lots of time to edit your email template, but it confuses your regular readers. Use a standard format for every single newsletter so it is recognizable to your subscribers. That means the same layout, the same image alignment, and the same placement of links and calls-to-action so your reader can scan and find the information they want. For example, I get a weekly email from Urban Daddy called “The Weekender” that summarizes events going on around Boston that I might be interested in. Take a look.Notice how the format for each story follows the same structure, as does the overall email. First, I know I can scan the email for big, bold days; so if I want an activity for Saturday, I can scroll down to that day. And if I find one heading or picture that interests me, I know I can read a short blurb of copy, and find more information via the link in the story’s footer — along with date, time, location, and contact information. Following this consistency for every email means when I see it in my inbox, I know it won’t require a lot of my time to scan and consume the information I want. Vague Subject Lines This is an easy fix, but such a common email newsletter faux pas. Often, the subject of an email newsletter is something along the lines of Weekly [Company X] Newsletter or Monthly [Product Y] Update . What does this mean? What will the reader learn? The interesting part of the email isn’t the frequency at which the recipient receives it — it’s the juicy information you’re divulging!Let’s continue to work off the Urban Daddy example above. The subject line of that email is: UD | Waffles, $1 Oysters, and… Iceland They don’t mention that this is the weekly digest I receive — I already know that’s what Urban Daddy sends me! Instead, they mention some of the best offers around Boston this weekend that prompt me to open the email. Just as you must demonstrate the “so what” within the email copy, so must you explain the value of the email with a descriptive and enticing subject line .Email newsletters have the opportunity to be chock full of interesting content, and as such are a very useful inbound marketing tool. So it’s a shame when marketers put significant time and effort into compiling and sharing their best announcements, offers, and content in an email newsletter, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Use these tips to ensure your next email newsletter is a smashing success and leads to an ever-increasing, dedicated list of subscribers that look forward to reading your email content. What components of email newsletters do you find valuable? Share your recommendations in the comments! Image Credit: Big yawn Topics: Originally published Mar 29, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Email Newsletters Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
For marketers, Reddit has a lot of things going for it: most notably, an audience that’s both young and huge. Last month, Reddit drew 71 million unique visitors who viewed 4.8 billion pages. Their big challenge, however, is to find a way to make money from that audience without driving it away. Lately Reddit has been experimenting with a new sponsored content campaign in which Reddit creates original video content based on ideas generated by Reddit users. The program has won praise from Edelman content chief Steve Rubel, who writes in AdAge, “The internet isn’t TV, and Reddit knows that and has an approach to original content that might just work if it can stick to what made it a success. Reddit knows that the best way for marketers to get involved is not just through content, but conversation.”The first attempt in content creation is “Explain Like I’m Five,” a series of videos inspired by a subreddit of the same name. (A subreddit is what Reddit calls a topic-specific domain. There are about 5,000 active user-generated subreddits on Reddit.) The videos are sponsored by DonorsChoose, a charity that helps teachers get supplies for their classrooms.The video series, which takes complex topics and explains them to 5-year-olds, is hosted on Reddit’s YouTube channel, aggregated on the DonorsChoose website, and promoted on the ‘Explain Like I’m Five’ subreddit — in an effort to motivate Reddit users to donate to the charity. Reddit even asks its community to contribute ideas for scripts for new videos. Here’s one video:Reddit is trying to identify other subreddits that could lend themselves to being turned into original programming. Next up for a video treatment is a subreddit called “Crazy Ideas,” says Reddit General Manager Erik Martin. Martin says that, for now, Reddit sees the idea as experimental and isn’t selling it in a big way. “There are maybe a few brands we would work with. But it needs to be the right idea and the right sponsor,” he says.As Rubel points out, Reddit’s challenge will be to add mainstream advertisers to its mix without losing its edge and turning off its audience.To be sure, this is the same challenge most user-generated sites confront as they try to attract advertisers (e.g. concerns about porn on Tumblr, or the recent scandal where advertisers suspended Facebook campaigns because of offensive content). But even in the anything-goes world of user-generated content, Reddit pushes the limits. The site contains a huge amount of stuff that could be called “not safe for work.”The trick — for Reddit and for marketers — will be to reach the attractive parts of the Reddit universe and steer clear of the less savory elements. Whether it can be done remains to be seen. Martin points out that “the vast majority of content on Reddit is [safe for work],” and that advertisers can target content that’s safe and be sure that their ads will not run next to racy content.Also, keep in mind that getting in early will have an extra benefit — your brand could get pulled along in all the coverage about the Reddit program. DonorsChoose got mentioned in the Steve Rubel article in AdAge, and this one here on the HubSpot blog, as well as here on a teaching blog, here on Entertainment Weekly, and here on Mediabistro.Thoughts on Reddit’s new sponsored content program? 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 Originally published Jun 4, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Native Advertising
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 Sep 22, 2016 1:30:00 PM, updated October 29 2019 Referral Marketing Most marketers have one goal in common: increasing the amount of traffic to their website. There are various tactics for accomplishing this goal including search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising (PPC), blogging, social media marketing, etc. The problem is that SEO takes times, PPC is expensive, Google is becoming oversaturated with blog content, and social media has always had a problem proving ROI.One often overlooked tactic that can potentially have the greatest impact is referral traffic. So, what is referral traffic and how can you use it to generate more leads?Access Now: 22 SEO Myths to Leave Behind This YearWhat Is Referral Traffic? Visitors that come to your website from sites other than the major search engines are considered referral traffic. When someone clicks a link on a website or social network and is then taken to another site, tracking software, such as Google Analytics or HubSpot, counts that visitor as referral traffic. The originating website is called the “referrer” since it refers traffic from one website to the other. Why Is Referral Traffic Important?Referral traffic is important to inbound marketers because it sends potentially qualified visitors to your website from trusted websites. This in turn gets your content in front of new people, giving your website the opportunity to convert that visitor into a lead and your sales team the opportunity to convert that lead into a new customer.But that’s not all! Referral traffic also has SEO benefits. When someone visits your website from another site they are usually clicking on a link or completing some type of social activity. Google and other search engines consider these links and social signals as positive ranking factors as long as they are coming from trusted websites.Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let’s get started on getting you some juicy referral traffic so you can brag about all the hot leads you have rolling in. 7 Steps To Generate More Referral Traffic1) Publish Your Website To Online DirectoriesSubmitting your website to online directories is one of the easiest ways to get referral traffic but you don’t want to publish your website to every directory out there. Instead, focus on the ones that are most relevant to your industry or generate the most traffic. Whether you’re a veterinarian in St. Louis or an assisted living facility in Daytona Beach, Moz has you covered. They offer a free resource for finding the top directories by category and city.Once you’ve submitted your website to the top directories for your city and industry, I’d focus on finding directories that can generate some serious traffic. How do you know which directories will accomplish this? It’s as simple as performing a Google search. The directories that appear at the top of the search results should, in theory, generate the most traffic. For example, if you do a search for “personal trainer in los angeles” there are 4 directories that show up on the first page of the search results: Yelp, YourTrainer, IdeaFit & Thumbtack. You can’t use SEO to pass up these directories in the search results overnight. What you can do, however, is list your website on these directories in order to generate quality traffic and get some free SEO juice. After all, if someone is looking for a personal trainer in Los Angeles and they find your website via Yelp, that referred visitor is just as valuable to you as them landing directly on your website. 2) Get Published On Review WebsitesReview websites are a great source for getting more referral traffic. These visitors have already gone through the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey. They’ve now reached the decision stage and are comparing vendors or products. What better time to get your product or service in front of them for consideration?Getting listed on a review website can vary depending on whether you are a B2B or B2C company. If you perform a search for “st louis roofing company reviews” there are 3 websites that you would want to be listed on if you were a roofer: HomeAdvisor, BBB & AngiesList.By adding your website to these 3 directories you are increasing the likelihood of your website being found during the decision phase of the buyer’s journey. If you are operating a respectable roofing company that treats customers fairly you should have no problem standing out from other roofers that have not so positive reviews.B2B businesses will find that it is more difficult to get featured on review websites. A lot of times you have to “pay to play,” meaning you will basically have to pay to be featured towards the top of the review listings. For example, if you do a Google search for “top mobile app developers” the first search result is Clutch.co. They showcase a list of mobile app development firms with reviews but if you look closely you’ll notice that they are “sorted by sponsor.” Essentially these companies are paying to have their website and reviews featured first. It’s a slick way for Clutch to make money but also maintain it’s reputation as a respectable source for reviews.3) Publish Guest Blog PostsGuess what? You’re currently looking at step 3 of the 7 steps for getting more referral traffic to your website. That’s right. You’re reading a guest blog post by Leap Clixx, a HubSpot Partner Agency. Guest blog posts create numerous opportunities to get referral traffic to your website. External links (like the two in this paragraph), author bios, and call-to-actions (like the one at the bottom of this post) are typically present on most blogs. If you can get a post featured on a well-know industry website you’ll benefit from the referral traffic and links coming to your site. It’s best to focus your efforts on websites that are considered thought leaders in your industry. Since we’re an Inbound Marketing Agency, HubSpot is the perfect place for us to post a guest blog post. Can you think of a more respected website when it comes to the topic of inbound marketing? I mean, HubSpot literally coined the term inbound marketing. Here are a couple tips to keep in mind when guest blogging:Focus on websites related to your industry – No one wants to read about Fall fashion trends on a blog about guns & ammo, unless you’re talking about camo. Keep the target audience in mind while writing – Most blogs have strict guidelines in place for guest bloggers. Write content under your own name – After all, you don’t want someone else getting credit for your work. Link to influencers – They will notice and might even help promote your guest blog post, which in return will increase the referral traffic it generates. 4) Leverage Social MediaAccording to Social Media Examiner, a whopping 89% of marketers indicated that social media generated more exposure for their business. Additionally, 75% found their website traffic increased as a result of their social media efforts. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest were the top 7 social media platforms used by marketers. Being active on social media isn’t just trendy anymore; it’s a tactic most marketers are using to get more traffic, leads, and sales.Everytime you tweet, share, like, or pin a piece of content you are creating an opportunity to drive referral traffic to your website. Plus, you’re increasing the likelihood of your content showing up at the top of Google. 58% of marketers using social media reported improved search rankings. Like I said before, referral traffic not only brings more potential customers to your website, it also helps with SEO. 5) Comment On BlogsA question that comes up a lot is “Does blog commenting help SEO?” It not only can help with SEO but it can also generate more referral traffic for your website. According to Neil Patel, his 240+ comments on blogs have generated close to 4,000 visitors to his website. Commenting on blogs will definitely increase your referral traffic; just make sure you’re not filling the interwebs with more spam. Here are a couple tips for the newbie blog commenters out there:Make sure your comments are valuable – No one likes a complainer or bragger. If your comments are negative or promotional in nature just keep them to yourself. Focus on blogs that allow links in the comments – Remember, you’re trying to get more traffic. In order to do that you need to add a link to your websiteIf you aren’t first, you’re last. – Just like search engines, if your link is at the top of the comments list you’re more likely to generate more clicks and traffic. 6) Be Active On Industry ForumsOnline forums are a great source of potential leads and customers but are often overlooked as a marketing tactic for generating traffic. Similar to blog comments, you should focus your efforts on forums in your niche and always be trying to add value without sounding too promotional. I’ve outlined a couple steps and tips below for getting the most out of forum marketing:Make sure the forum is active – Don’t waste your time on a forum that hasn’t had a new post for a month. Register using your brand name – You want to make sure people associate your comments with a memorable brand name. Create a signature with a call-to-action link – This is how you’re going to drive traffic to your website. It’s time to participate – You’ll want to participate in the areas of the forum where you have the most expertise. Use real life examples – Don’t just offer your advice. No one likes a know-it-all. Try to provide value using your personal experiences. Share your resources – Start a new thread with a link to resource you think could benefit the group. If you’re proud of a particular piece of content it’s likely others will enjoy it too. 7) Publish InfographicsWhen asked to select the single most important form of content for their business, 37% of marketers picked visuals. The reason is pretty simple. Humans have attention spans shorter than goldfish and it’s easier for the brain to consume an image than a bunch of text. Plus you’ve probably noticed that an image of a cute puppy gets liked and shared more than a 100+ page industry report.The great thing about infographics is they can help people understand complex data with simple visuals. The goal is to get your infographic shared, liked, and pinned on social networks and have others embed it in their articles (like I’ve done above), thus creating links to your website.In addition to your own website, there are several websites where you can post an infographic. One of my favorites is Pinterest. After all, Pinterest is responsible for around 5% of all referral traffic to websites, second only to Facebook. Pinterest gives you the option to link your infographic to your website and makes it easy for it be shared on other’s boards. Next StepsOnce you start receiving additional referral traffic, you’ll want to make sure your website is ready for these new visitors. In this FREE eBook “Turn Your Website Into A Lead Generation Machine,” we go over some best practices for ensuring your website is setup to convert visitors into leads for your business. Download it now by clicking on the link above or on the banner below.
Virtual Reality (VR) Originally published Nov 29, 2016 1:30:00 PM, updated September 28 2018 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! Virtual reality is the hot new video marketing tool disrupting business plans and budgets across the planet. Audiences are loving it and want more: a 2015 study found that 81% of consumers would tell their friends about their VR experience, and that 79% would seek out additional experiences. The demand is so huge Deloitte predicts that by 2020 the global market may be worth around $30 billion.Because of this growing demand everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and offering VR production as part of their services.Unlock tips, systems & recommended resources to stay ahead of the tech curve.I get it – as an integrated marketing agency with an in-house video production department, becoming a virtual reality agency was a natural next step for us, so we sent the team on training, hired in specialists and acquired the kit we needed. We’ve learned loads on our long VR journey; it truly is a different beast to 2D and takes some serious skills to tame. We’ve outlined 7 important differences to help you prepare for your own VR adventure – consider them carefully, they could save you buckets in tears and pennies.1. You need specialist equipmentVR production requires some specialist equipment that can seem incredibly intimidating, not to mention expensive. At the very least you will need a 360 camera rig and editing station (with an i5 processor or above), as well as a PC and headset to review the footage. In terms of camera gear, there is a range of options to suit different levels of budget and ambition. The Samsung Gear 360 is one great option at entry level that consists of two cameras with a 180-degree view. It’s priced at around US $460.If only the best will do, consider the 8K, waterproof, six-camera GoPro Omni. It captures everything – and its resolution is almost faultless with minimal stretching. The price for this fancy rig is around US $4600.If you want movement in your video, you need to budget for extra gear like drones and dollies. Now that you’ve got your camera gear sorted you need to think about your editing equipment. At TopLine Comms, we recently bought a beast of an editing machine to deal with the sheer amount of high-res footage that each camera rig produces. This machine can process footage with resolutions ranging from 720p to 8K and is completely customized for VR production.2. Avoid the danger zoneVR film sets have their very own ‘danger zone’ – usually a radius of 1.5 meters from the camera rig. Anything filmed in this zone will come out weird and blurry so your production team will need to keep it clear of any people or objects that could distort the shot.Stitch lines can have a monstrous effect on your VR content so make sure you’re working with a crew who pays attention to where they are and keeps focal points as far away from them as possible.But remember, even if the danger zone is kept clear, the different angles of footage will still have to be stitched together using specific software like Kolor Autopano Video Pro and Kolor Giga.While some VR equipment – like the Samsung Gear 360 on the Galaxy s7 smartphone – have an automatic onboard stitching function, there are some drawbacks you have to bear in mind: the footage you get will have a lower resolution and the processing time will take longer.If you want higher quality footage – Samsung Gear 360 can still do it, but then you have to use a computer and specialist stitching software. Ultimately, you need to decide what will work best for you and your budget.3. Think about people on setWe know that when you commission your first VR project, you will probably want to be on-location. With normal video production, this is fine. With VR video production, it’s not fine. Remember, these cameras are filming 360-degree content which means everything will be in the shot. Even if you stand behind a tree and don’t breathe, you’ll get picked up.This means that if you insist on being on set, the director will likely ask you to get in character, put on a costume and blend in. No joke. Crew on the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, had to do it.So if dressing up is your thing, by all means attend the shoot. If not, you can’t be on set. Sorry.4. Give the voice over directionScripting voiceover for content that can literally go in any direction is tricky. Unlike 2D, your audience can look anywhere at any moment. So, if the VO is talking about something happening on the right, best the script directs them to look right. Rather than record the VO before filming, work with your production agency to do it afterwards.You also have to keep in mind that most cameras focus on visuals at the expense of audio quality. To fix this you can hire special recorders for 360-degree sound, like Core Sound’s TetraMic and Brahma Tetrahedron, for example. This will, of course, be an additional expense.5. Be patient with the editPost-production is where the true magic happens but be prepared for it to take time – much more time than editing 2D footage. Merging stitch lines will take at least a week, more if your production has used multiple cameras.The edit begins by uploading the footage into specialist software, like Kolor Autopano Video Pro and Kolor Giga. The content is sync’d and then the angles are stitched together.Once the videos have been stitched together, your editing team will often have to fix the horizon. During the stitching process the software will automatically merge the different angles to reduce the appearance of seams. However, sometimes this results in an image that is off centre or off axis. This can only be corrected by manipulating the video.What’s more, all objects directly above or below the camera (like tripods) will have to be ‘disappeared’ using skilful editing techniques such as superimposing a reference photo over it. Or, the editor can opt for the cruder method and stick a relevant graphic over it.We once attached one of our 360 camera rigs to the front of a skateboard, but the clamp holding the camera up was visible in the footage. To edit this out we had to manually lay another image of a skateboard over the actual skateboard in the shot.All of this makes VR editing a much lengthier process than traditional video editing.6. Prepare to pay moreVR is relatively expensive to produce. It costs more than 2D but not as much as a Spielberg blockbuster (unless you’re referencing one of his epic films from the last century). Truth is, it doesn’t pay to cut corners – ultra-low-cost equipment and crews often result in ultra-low quality.To put the costs in perspective it helps to look at the requirements in terms of time, people involved and post-production process. For a 2D filmed video you will usually need a producer or director, a camera operator and a sound recordist. Then the post-production process will involve and offline edit, motion graphics and colour grading. All of this will take about 5 weeks could cost between US$6 500 and US$10 000.With a 360-degree video, however, you’ll need more crew members, including a producer or director, a camera operator, a digital imaging technician a sound recordist and a runner. As mentioned above the post-production process is also more extensive with VR. It will typically include stitching, offline editing, plating, motion graphics and colour grade. This pushes the project timescale to around 7 weeks with costs ranging from US$ 9 000 to US$13 000. But remember, VR projects don’t all cost the same – productions with bigger kit, multiple days of filming and some basic graphics could be around US$13 000 to US$20 000. A high end VR experience with lots of animation could be upward of US$130 000.With VR it’s worth investing in an agency that won’t mess up the postproduction process, and that will be able to advise you on the best shots for your video. You might think that it’s a good idea to have a camera on the floor while people zip past on bikes. While this sounds dynamic in theory, the shot’s perspective will place your viewer on the floor too – which might not be the most comfortable experience. A good VR video agency will point these things out to you, so you can make better, more informed decisions.That said, your VR project also should not eat your entire marketing budget – what good is cool new content if you can’t afford to take it to market?7. Make it audience friendlyAlmost everyone wants to watch VR content but not everyone has the required headsets. If you’re producing an experience to showcase at an event or in the office then no problem, you’ll have the relevant equipment on-hand.If you’re assuming that your viewer has an Oculus Rift at home, your amazing VR experience will fall flat. The best you can do is make sure that your audiences can immerse themselves in your VR content through as many platforms as possible: from Google Cardboard to YouTube to Sulon Q.When producing content that has to be viewed with a headset, give some thought to motion sickness and make sure your viewers won’t feel too nauseous (remember Nintendo’s first attempt at VR that had people literally throwing up?). Relatively static shots are best as they allow viewers to move their heads freely and enjoy their immersive experience without unpleasant side-effects.If you’re still not sure if VR is right for you, consider what you want to use the video for. Will an engaging, immersive video experience get the job done better than a traditional video? If the answer is yes, then you should consider VR. However, you also have to keep your budget and project timeline into account. While VR videos create a great experience they do take longer and are more expensive to make.If you analyze your prospective project according to the 7 characteristics of VR videos listed above, you should get a good idea of whether what you want to achieve can be done through VR and whether you have the budget to make it work. The great thing is, should you decide to attempt VR you don’t have to go at it alone. You don’t have to be a VR expert if you work with an agency that is able to advise you on everything from shooting location to sound effects.If virtual insanity is getting you down and you need some expert guidance, download our Marketer’s Guide to Virtual Reality.