The @AustralianOpen is back to light up 2017

Your must follow guide to the amazing tennis action that will be served up during the 2017 #AusOpen.

Trump is using Facebook ads to unload Inauguration tickets

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With just a few days remaining until is inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump seems to be taking strange steps to unload tickets for the big event, scheduled for this Friday, January 20, 2017.

Several users have noticed a sponsored video from Trump appearing on their Facebook timelines with Trump offering them a chance to register for free tickets for the big event, which includes both the welcome concert and the swearing-in ceremony. 

Is this for real? Donald Trump is so desperate to fill up seats at inauguration that he's put an ad on Facebook to invite people? pic.twitter.com/HDnSV2tZbd

— Mario Almonte (@Almonte) January 16, 2017 Read more...

More about Facebook Ads, Tickets, Inauguration 2017, Donald Trump, and Business

5 Insane Advantages of an Inbound Website Redesign

ThinkstockPhotos-606672336-1-021827-edited.jpgLet me ask: What are some of the biggest problems you're having with your website?

Here are some we hear often: 

  • The design gets outdated so quickly, and we don't have the resources to update it every 1-2 years.
  • I have trouble demonstrating ROI from my website and tracking meaningful analytics.
  • I want to make improvements, but don't have the skills.
  • My website isn't really benefiting my marketing/lead generation strategy.

What if I told you that there's a new website model that solves all these problems? (I’m not usually one for hyperbole — but this one, I really mean.)

We call it an "inbound website," and it’s a great partner to an inbound marketing strategy.

Gone are the days when static brochure websites fit the bill: 

You know the type, with basic information and a "contact us" page? Your website must now be an online sales platform for your business — an integral part of marketing to prospects. If your website isn't selling around the clock, you're missing out on leads and revenue.

The inbound website is a new way to think about your online presence.

Here's how it works:

  • Your inbound strategy and marketing funnel are baked right into your website.
  • You have a dedicated web team (in-house or hired) that monitors performance and makes changes monthly.
  • You typically host on a platform that makes growth-driven design easy. 

An inbound website is still a relatively new idea for many marketers, so I'd like to break down how the model works. 

Here’s are the advantages of an inbound website redesign: How it can grow leads and conversions, trade cost for value, and improve ROI for your business.

Download the free eBook, "Grow Leads and Revenue With an Inbound Website Redesign."

1) You’ll drive conversions by creating a 24/7 marketing funnel.

Oftentimes marketers think about a website as a piece of a marketing strategy.

But starting right now, don't think about your marketing strategy and your website as two different things.

They're entwined. Your website is the hub for your marketing and sales strategy — a complete lead generation platform, with marketing strategy baked right in.

How does that work?

Think about how your marketing funnel works with the inbound equation. You have different elements and assets to attract, convert, close, and delight customers.

When you attract attention online, where do you drive traffic? Your website.

Where do you primarily host your blog and content offers? Your website.

Where are people converting on your offers? Your website. 

How do you host forms to gather more information about people, so you can effectively market to them? Well, you know by now.

Your inbound marketing strategy should be the driving force for your website — and should dictate your website’s organization and user pathways.

More simply, you'll set up your website to align with the inbound methodology. 

Your inbound website funnel should include:

  • A blog and search-engine-optimized pages to attract site visitors at the top of your funnel.
  • Corresponding conversion elements, like landing pages and calls-to-action, to help convert visitors into leads.
  • Forms and other tools to gather lead intel, so you can better nurture leads and eventually close them into customers.
  • Personalization and smart content that tailors your website to customers, helping to delight

When you start on your inbound website redesign, you don’t just think about aesthetics — you consider functionality, too. Ideally, you’ll redesign your site’s entire structure in accordance with the inbound methodology. 

That is, each page serves a specific purpose, and corresponds to a specific point in the buyer’s journey.

A visit to your website isn’t random. It’s the first step on a pathway towards conversion. Each click should be logical and clearly defined — One page leads to the next, as you move users further down the journey. 

What are you left with?

A website that eventually works as a 24/7 marketing funnel, driving conversions while you sleep.

2) You’ll generate leads by showing up earlier in the buying cycle.

Did you know that buyers complete more than half of the buyer's journey before talking to sales?

This means that your buyers are already researching and deciding on solutions long before a sales call.

The most successful companies are present in the first half of this journey — their websites help educate buyers throughout the sales cycle.

Is your website up to the task?

With a traditional website, you may publish basic information about your services. Then, you wait for website visitors to visit "Contact Us" and place a call.

It's a far stretch from website visitor to final customer, and your website experience doesn't nurture the gap in between. (Think of a large ravine. Now imagine that you're expecting people to jump over that ravine to purchase from you. An inbound website model builds the bridge in between.)

With an inbound website, you nurture leads gradually, from first touch to final purchase.  

Your website is paved with content for the buyer's journey... AKA, those three stages that buyers take before purchasing a product.

  1. Awareness — Person is aware they have a problem, and they're looking to identify and understand it.
  2. Consideration — Person becomes aware of potential solutions (including your product or service!) They actively seek to understand these solutions better.
  3. Decision — Person is fully bought in to the solution, and is now deciding where, when, and how to purchase. 

Do you see how your website content has a chance to address all three stages? 

By hosting content throughout the buyer's journey on your website, you write the narrative of first how and then why your solution is best for person's problem. 

That makes you present for that “zero moment of truth,” the critical moment when people are researching and deciding on where (and how) to purchase.

Without such a content strategy, your business will have a hard time generating leads online and driving sales.

3) You’ll see steady improvement in performance and design.

Are you redesigning your website every few years to keep with current trends? What happens in between redesigns?

Chances are, if your website isn't improving all the time, it's missing out on leads and sales.

That's the genius of a growth-driven design — a fundamental part of the inbound website model.

You wouldn't ignore your marketing for a year, let alone a month... so you shouldn't let your website gather dust, either.

Instead of yearly redesigns, you invest in monthly changes to your website design and strategy.

Here’s how it works in a cycle:

  1. Your web team (or an agency with an inbound website service) will set or revise SMART goals to pinpoint certain metrics of value to your business. 
  1. They will analyze data on your website performance. They'll monitor things like content conversion, button clicks, popups, design organization, landing pages, and the purchase path as a whole. They can use tools like Hotjar, implement user testing, and watch performance in Google Analytics or your CMS. 
  1. Then, they'll make frequent improvements reacting to the data — ideally, on a monthly basis. Then, repeat with step 1!

Marketers love this model, because they’re always aware of how a website is performing. (Now I can't imagine going a day without knowing how my website is doing!)

You’re not waiting for the next redesign to roll around to make improvements and fix problem areas… you’re proactively committing to your website’s success.

The result? Your website is constantly showing its best face to buyers.

It's converting at a higher rate and growing. You can head back to the C-suite to brag about your great ROI!

4) You trade one-time cost for long-term value (and prove ROI). 

When you think about a website redesign, you might be planning the appearance of your website.

But what about the functionality? What about lead generation potential, and conversion opportunities?

Many businesses use periodic website redesigns to keep their websites up-to-date — and they focus mainly on aesthetics.

This can get costly for several reasons:

  1. You go into a redesign without much strategy, so you inject money without promise of ROI.
  2. Redesigns can (and often do) go over budget and take longer than planned.
  3. In between redesigns, your website isn’t growing and improving — meaning your investment only generates return as long as that strategy is relevant.

With an inbound website, you don’t need to cram all of your strategy for the year into one redesign — you’re constantly improving.

You can generate more value by investing month-to-month in incremental changes, instead of one big website redesign cost up-front.

There’s also immense value in being able to prove ROI: According to the 2016 State of Inbound report, organizations that can calculate ROI are 1.6X as likely to receive higher budgets. 

With an inbound website model, you’ll always be monitoring data, so you’re aware of how your site’s performing — and proving that your changes are having an impact.

5) You’ll qualify contacts with smart content and baked-in lifecycle strategy.

 According to the Annuitas Group, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

It's simple: Better educated leads have more trust in your solutions, and make more confident investments.

What does your lead nurturing process look like now? 

For many marketers, it’s either manual and cumbersome, or nonexistent.

Are you manually moving people in and out of different lists, emails, and processes — trying to figure out where the heck they are in the buying process so you can tailor to them?

Or, are you not nurturing leads at all, and applying a wide umbrella experience to everyone?

Either situation is a mess… and leaves business leads on the table.

When an inbound website is set up correctly, though, it creates a complete lead nurturing process automatically.

This makes qualifying leads a snap.

With clear pathways for the buyer’s journey baked into your website, you’ll have an idea of where people fall in your sales cycle based on which pages they visit, which offers they’ve downloaded, and which forms they’ve filled out.

You’re not piecing together different actions to try and understand intent — you’ve set up a complete customer lifecycle with your website content.

Qualifying people is as simple as seeing how far leads have advanced down it. (This is made even easier with a lead database system like HubSpot, which clearly shows how people have engaged.) 

How to get started with an inbound website redesign

Maybe you've downloaded a website template and are wondering how it's going to generate leads and produce ROI.

Maybe you're dabbling in inbound strategy elements — like blog posts, landing pages, and calls-to-action — but aren't seeing them come together.

An inbound website will give direction to your strategy and web design.

Real success comes in combining both elements: a solid inbound marketing strategy and an inbound website to execute it. 

We see many people start with strategy planning and then try to redesign their website — but they really must happen in tandem. 

Here’s how to get started with your own inbound website redesign: 

  1. Download the free “Inbound Websites” eBook if you’d like to learn more about the process and how it grows revenue.
  2. Decide if your web team could handle an integration with your marketing efforts — or if you need to partner with an inbound website agency.
  3. Analyze your current web hosting platform and CRM to see if they can easily sustain the inbound website model.

A note on platform: Your website's hosting platform can make a huge difference to your inbound website.

If your website's design relies on hard code, you'll need someone with marketing background and coding chops (not to mention a lot of free time) to monitor the site and make improvements.

Free platforms like Wordpress, on the other hand, can be a great easy-to-use hosting option. But these often don’t relate as closely to your marketing elements... and you might have to spend time managing different marketing tools. 

If you're able to host on an automation platform like HubSpot, however, you can accomplish a lot very simply. 

For example, you can continually monitor the performance of each page. You can see conversion rates on your landing pages and calls-to-action. You can set up easy A/B tests for different elements, like forms and buttons, to see what performs better. 

Marketing automation software also tracks how each lead interacts with your website, so you can improve pages based on actual user behavior.

With HubSpot or a similar platform, you're able to more easily monitor the success of marketing elements on your website, which makes monthly improvements smooth and effective. 

No matter which platforms and tools you choose, the principle of an inbound website is what’s important. 

Let’s recap. What is an inbound website model? 

  • Your inbound strategy and marketing funnel are baked right into your website.
  • You have a dedicated web team (in-house or hired) that monitors performance and makes changes monthly.
  • You typically host on a platform that makes growth-driven design easy.

 Grab the free eBook, "Grow Leads and Revenue With an Inbound Website," to learn more!

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Google+ won’t go away

rip-google-plus1 Since Google+ is still alive and kicking, Google is rolling out three updates to the product over the next couple of weeks. For one, those who still use Google+ will be able to hide low-quality comments so that they can focus “on the comments that matter most,” Google+ Product Manager Danielle Buckley wrote on the company’s blog today. Another update entails zoom… Read More

Facebook spent even more on Oculus than everyone realizes

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Back in March 2014, Facebook announced it acquired Oculus, the "leader in immersive virtual reality technology, for a total of approximately $2 billion." 

Turns out that was fake news — or maybe just a poorly written lede. 

Facebook did acquire Oculus, but the price tag was much larger than previously stated and widely reported. The realization came after the attorney for video game maker ZeniMax Media (which is suing Facebook for allegedly stealing the intellectual property) directly asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in court testimony Tuesday. Read more...

More about Tech, Business, Oculus Vr, Oculus Rift, and Facebook

Google Drive goes down

google-shop17 Google Drive is having some major issues today. Sometime around 8am PT this morning, the storage service that forms the basis of most of Google’s online productivity suite (though not Gmail) started slowing down and many users (at least in the U.S.) are seeing now only seeing Google’s version of the spinning beach ball instead of their files. Because Drive is at the core of so… Read More

What We Learned From Our First Year on Medium

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on Context, a publication brought to you by Medium’s Creative Strategy team. Follow the publication to keep abreast of the best ideas in brand storytelling.

Two years ago if you asked me to explain the concept of content marketing I would start by talking to you about planets.

Imagine you are a marketer standing all alone  --  like The Little Prince  -- in the middle of a small planet. That planet is your website. Today it doesn’t get many visitors because it’s too small to notice and the universe is filled with bigger, more interesting planets.

But like planets, as you build up the mass of content around you, your website grows, and your gravitational pull becomes stronger. More content, keywords, and inbound links pulls more people your way. Content becomes your magnet.

This fundamental principle of content marketing has been a key part of HubSpot’s marketing playbook. Our “planet,” comprised of our website and blog, continues to fuel our company’s growth at a higher rate than any other marketing tactic. You may find it odd then, that about a year ago, we very quietly walked to the edge of our home planet and stepped off.

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Amazing space cat by William Herring

Getting Behind the Idea of Publishing Off-Site

We started ThinkGrowth.org, an off-site publication on Medium.com. November 2016 marked the one year anniversary of ThinkGrowth.org and I wanted to share a little bit about what we’ve learned: why we did it, where we stumbled, and  -- because benchmarks were hard to come by when we were getting started  -- what our numbers looked like throughout the year.

Grab your space helmets. Here we go.

Let me make this very clear: you do not own your audience. Regular monthly visitors, big subscriber lists, well-trodden conversion paths give us the illusion that we own the attention of our audience  -- but it is only an illusion. Attention is fleeting, and must constantly be earned.

While a lot of content discovery still happens through search, more and more people are consuming articles directly from platforms like Medium, Facebook, and podcasts. Medium has done a remarkable job with editorial curation and a loyal readership has followed, with a lot of this being driven by mobile. According to 2016 research from eMarketer, 86% of time spent on mobile devices is spent in apps rather than internet browsers. Apps like Medium have become new discovery platforms for content.

And these new discovery platforms come with notable differences in behavior. On the open web, people are searching, but on Medium, people come to spend time reading. This leads to much higher engagement on Medium and it’s this engagement, not search behavior, that fuels further discovery.

As the saying goes, sometimes you have to lose sight of your own shore to explore new lands. We have always tried to build our content strategy by paying attention to our readers over ourselves. Simply put, we decided to publish on Medium because we wanted to be where our readers are.

Breaking Through the New Publication Plateau

We’ve long admired the transparency of companies like Buffer who make a practice of openly sharing their own experiences and data. So, here’s our data from the last year. It wasn’t always pretty.

Medium Launch Chart.png

We started unassumingly on Medium. We didn’t launch with a bang or promotional push. We decided to just get some content up on the platform and see what it did. Our early posts were mostly cross-published content from the HubSpot blog (Medium makes it very easy to do this without hurting your own SEO). These first cross-posted pieces back in November of 2015 netted a few hundred views each, not too exciting.

But we quickly found that certain content just does better on Medium. As I mentioned, people come to Medium to read, not search for information on a specific topic. This makes Medium an inherently social platform where opinion pieces, personal accounts, or reaction posts often have a stronger performance than on our home blog.

Then a few months in, we attached the HubSpot handle to the publication. We saw a small jump as our social followers started to be able to find us and our content better, but the volume of views still wasn’t outstanding. We were making progress, but it was slow.

Optimizing for People After Years of Optimizing for Search

The first break-out post we ever had flew to the top of our most-read list mainly because it was highlighted by Ev Williams. And yes, while Ev is the mayor of Medium, this isn’t about Ev in particular, but rather the underlying point that Medium is a network. Anyone who has built up a following on Medium, whether it be the founder or a talented writer can have a major ripple effect on the visibility of an article just by interacting with it.

We’ve seen that interactions from highly followed readers carry the heaviest weight, but any interaction can make a big difference. We ran an analysis on the correlation between various values and views for all of our articles so far. For us, the most strongly correlated factor with views is recommends (r=0.77). What I like about this lever is that it really is about the quality of the writing. Green-hearted recommendations aren’t typically fooled by click-bait titles, keyword stuffing, or any other shortcut. Recommends come after considered reading.

Another way we started optimizing for people was opening up our publication doors. We’ve seen our best success by finding writers on the rise on Medium and syndicating content they’ve created  -- exposing both them and ourselves to a new audience. Guest contributors have fueled the growth of our audience and brought in a diversity of perspectives that have made our entire anthology better. We’ve published a piece from the CEO of Litmus Paul Farnell and one from the CEO of Mattermark Danielle Morrill. We’re seeing that the best content on ThinkGrowth.org isn’t about us, nor is it necessarily by us.

Discovering the Power of a Built-In Audience

People talk a lot about the power of Medium’s built-in audience. What they don’t tell you is how expansive and varied that audience can be. One of our biggest concerns when getting started with Medium is that we would be preaching to the same choir. But after doing some analysis of our comparative audience across the two sites we discovered that only about 10% of our Medium followers were previously known to us at HubSpot.com.

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This is incredibly powerful. HubSpot has been writing content for more than ten years. Our onsite blogs get more than 4.5 million visitors a month. Discovering this new audience pocket feels like we’re showing up a friend’s party after 10 years of hosting at our own place, and we find a whole new group of wonderful people, and they’re like, “Hey! It’s cool you finally left your own little planet.”

Deciding How to Measure It All

Measuring success on Medium is tricky. First, the rules for success are so different. Second, Medium stats are detached from the rest of our analytics. Third, Medium’s analytics dashboard just doesn’t allow you to go very deep. You can look at total number of views, follower count, number of interactions, time spent reading and so on — but these are very surface level.

Fans of the musical Rent at HubSpot will always remember the day our publication crossed five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes of reading time.

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The day we discovered Sam Mallikarjunan was a Rent fan.

I’ll admit that as VP of Content I’m always a seduced by a good up-and-to-the-right readership chart. But neither of those may be entirely right when you think about what constitutes success on this platform.

If Medium really is a hybrid between a social network and a publishing platform, and success is determined by how engaging your content is, it may make sense to look at how active that follower base is. Heading into our second year as a publication we still plan on tracking everything (we’re data people after all) but we’d like to start paying particularly close attention to our number of weekly active readers. This is a much higher bar than views and followers alone, but we think this is the best way to hold ourselves accountable as a publication.

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A T. Blake Littwin original  -- used in Brian Halligan’s reflections on evolving HubSpot from a startup to “scale-up."

Looking Ahead

Writing on Medium started as an experiment. Something that could help us stay on top of how reading habits are changing (And boy, are they changing). It wasn’t always the easiest year. We spent months studying our readership, reading advice from Medium editors (Elizabeth Tobey in particular), and talking with peers of ours like Kevan Lee who were also exploring the platform. Thanks to that advice and frankly the ruthless, almost superhuman, focus of Sam Mallikarjunan, Erik Devaney, and most recently Janessa Lantz we’re starting to get there.

We’ve learned enough in the last year to see the potential that exists when as a brand you take the risk of stepping beyond your home planet to explore new channels, platforms, and audiences. I’m happy to say that on the anniversary of our first exploration onto Medium, we’ve decided to increase our investment in that potential by spinning up a brand new team at HubSpot focused entirely on “offsite” content strategy.

We’re going to continue to iterate our publication to make it better. In the words of ThinkGrowth.org writer Sam Mallikarjunan, “We feel good about the growth we’ve achieved with the new blog and just a few writers, but there are even cooler things we haven’t done yet on Medium.”

Stay tuned.

learn how to start a successful blog

AI Throwdown: Google Assistant vs. Siri [Infographic]

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The world is abuzz with tech talk. At the forefront, it seems, is artificial intelligence (AI) -- the "technology that can do things humans can uniquely do, whether it’s talk, see, learn, socialize, and reason," HubSpot's Market Research Analyst Mimi An explains.

We're quickly adopting this technology -- 55% of us use voice assistant technology, for example, on a daily or weekly basis. And it certainly doesn't stop there -- messaging apps are quickly gaining traction in the AI space, too.

Two of the more notable -- and rivaling -- examples of this technology are Siri and Google Assistant. The latter is quite new, having just debuted in May 2016, when it hinted at the release of the Google Pixel, the mobile device to come integrated with it.

The natural question, of course: Which is better?

Zlated Media ventured to find out, putting both personal assistant apps to the test. As it turns out, the answer isn't so simple, and neither one completely outranks the other on all fronts. The findings were worked into this helpful infographic, depicting side-by-side results of how each app functioned in response to a given task or query.

So, is there a winner? Let us know what you think.

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seo myths 2017

Forward, a $149 per month medical startup, aims to be the Apple Store of doctor’s offices

Forward Adrian Aoun It was cold and pouring outside as the Uber pulled up at 180 Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco. Inside, a man dressed all in black offered to take my jacket and umbrella as he ushered me through the clinical white lobby to a set of chairs, handing me a bottle of VOSS. I scanned the room, eyeing a bunch of connected fitness tools and fancy skin serums on a glass table in the front,… Read More

How to Deliver a Presentation That Commands Attention From Senior Management [Free Guide]

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It always feels way more intimidating to present your ideas to senior management than it does to share them with peers, wouldn't you agree? A room full of higher-ups has a completely unique agenda and way of evaluating proposals due to their responsibility for the success of the company -- and many of us marketers don’t know how to tailor our presentations to their preferences.

To make matters worse, a recent study found that office workers typically get just three minutes of consistent attention before their colleagues lose focus due to smartphones or other distractions. In order to grab and retain attention, presenters need to throw out the traditional bulleted-list delivery playbook and focus on telling a story their audience can connect with.

We’ve teamed up with the folks at Prezi to bring you the foundational free guide, How to Give a Killer Presentation to Impress Your Boss. It’s got tips on:

  • Defining the why behind the what to make your audience sit up and lean in
  • How to an ROI proposal to prove the value of your ideas
  • Structuring your presentation for maximum efficiency
  • How to respond to negative body language and earn back lost attention

Click here to download How to Give a Killer Presentation to Impress Your Boss

presentation to impress your boss

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