Movidius Raises $40M To Bring Computer VisionTo Mobile Devices

482562125 Movidius, the company that makes the vision processor that powers Google’s Tango tablet, today announced that it has raised a $40 million funding round led by Summit Bridge Capital — a collaboration between Atlantic Bridge Capital and WestSummit Capital. This marks one of the largest funding rounds in a fabless semiconductor company in recent years. New investors in this round… Read More

11 Ways to Make Your Content Appealing to International Audiences

international-content

For most of you, customers can come to you from any country in the world. That means all of your potential customers -- the people visiting your website, reading your blog posts, and clicking on your calls-to-action -- might speak a myriad of different languages or live in totally different time zones. Once they reach your content, how well will it resonate with them?

As your international traffic grows, you'll want to be sure that you can convert that traffic into leads -- and that means keeping your international visitors in mind every time you write about a holiday or publish data with certain units of measurement.

In this post, I'll share some tips to help you create content that appeals to your entire audience, no matter where in the world they come from.

11 Tips for Making Your Content International

1) Identify culturally rooted content.

When writing for a global audience, we should all be more aware of how our own cultural norms creep into our content. Each time you write a blog post or some other piece of content, imagine you’re reading it out loud to someone who is visiting your country for the very first time. Did you include any terms or concepts that would require additional context or explanation? Look for culturally rooted items in your content, and be sure to add a quick note or explanation for your international viewers.

For example, let’s take a look at this blog post about Thanksgiving Break:

culturally-rooted-content

The content of this post isn’t just helpful to the Americans and Canadians who celebrate Thanksgiving. The advice could just as easily help marketers who are getting ready to take a day or two off to celebrate many holidays around the world. And yet, many of the references -- to turkey, pie, and so on -- require North American cultural knowledge. In fact, the featured image itself might not be attractive for people who have never seen, let alone eaten, pumpkin pie.

Here are some examples of culturally relevant items and explanatory notes you could add to the post:

  • Thanksgiving = a national holiday celebrated by families in the USA and Canada
  • Cranberry sauce = 
a typical food served on this holiday
  • Warm fireside chats =  a typical family activity associated positively with this holiday
  • Pumpkin pie = a 
traditional holiday dessert

Depending on your goals, you might decide to translate your post into other languages. In translated versions, you could swap out any country-specific holiday references for ones that are relevant for each target group. Or, you might simply decide to offer readers a different version of the post that is relevant to more people than a single holiday in just one region.

2) Be aware of seasonal references.

A blog post published in the summer in the Northern Hemisphere might talk about ice cream and vacations from school -- but during that time, the poor folks the Southern Hemisphere might be battling snowstorms and bitter cold.

I'm not saying you should never write about the seasons -- but you will want to be aware of your seasonal references and how they might be interpreted by folks on the other side of the globe. If someone on your team is in charge of localizing all your content, you could flag the seasonality of a given blog post, for example, so that “localizer” can update the content. Or, publish and promote it at a more appropriate time of year for the target markets.

Here's an example of a blog post that references a "summer sales slump":

seasonal-blog-posts

If you were to translate the content in the blog post above into other languages, you might decide to swap out the references and images so it references the correct time of year for your target audience. Or, you might just adjust the content to reflect the warmer season in their country, and then select a date for publication that coincides with that time of year.

3) Watch for units of measure.

Do you go the extra mile for your customers? Maybe you shouldn’t if they prefer kilometers. Rather than introduce units of measure that might be specific to just one set of countries, you might consider simply tweaking the content slightly to make it more global-friendly.

Here are two easy ways to improve written content for international readers:

  1. Use a unit of measure that’s is relevant to more people: “... within a five-block radius of your restaurant ...”
  2. Show alternate units of measure: “... within a one-mile (1.6 km) radius of your restaurant ...”
  3. For a more advanced solution, use a custom field to automatically display the appropriate unit of measure appropriate for the visitor’s country (as stored in a database) or using geo detection based on the user’s browser with a smart default if no browser-based language or geo data is available.

4) Mind monetary references.

A “millionaire” in some countries might be anyone with a few thousand dollars, depending on currency conversion. Likewise, someone who earns “six figures” might actually not be doing so well. Americans know implicitly that this is an annual income amount, but many countries think in terms of monthly salaries instead.

Consider this example, in which we’ve used the phrase "six-figure income":

six-figure-incomes

If it won’t dilute the power of the text, consider using a synonym or a replacement in the source text to make it universally understood. For example: “... who earn in the highest income brackets ...” or “... who have high levels of discretionary spending …”

Or, annotate the text to make it clear that by “six-figure income,” you’re actually referencing a high-wage earner in the United States.

5) Create CTAs with translation in mind.

You want your international visitors to convert just as much as your national ones -- so it's especially important to double-check that your CTAs will be effective for other languages and countries.

If you’re planning to translate content at some point, you can “pseudo-localize” by adding 40% more characters to the text to make sure it will fit when translated into most languages. Also, you’ll want to reduce surrounding graphics, and leave more space on buttons, to ensure text will fit when localized.

Ideally, every CTA should separate the text layer from the image layer to enable quick translation. This is also a best practice for SEO in general, as text embedded in images isn’t usually picked up by search engines. If you can’t separate the text layer from the image layer, any images that contain text will need to be created for each language separately, which is time-consuming and expensive.

When designing a CTA that will later be localized, leave 40% more space than you would normally leave to allow for text expansion in other languages. Here's one example:

twitter-tips-cta

Would “Download Guide” look nice on this image if it were nearly double the number of characters? Probably not. In fact, it might not fit at all. Resizing the screenshots slightly will free up a bit more space for the text. The font size might also need to be adjusted, or the surrounding box might need to be enlarged.

Another option? When translating, tell the translators to feel free to substitute “Download Guide” with something that might be shorter in another language, like “download” or “access” or “show me.” Otherwise, most translators will be faithful to the source language instead of using a term that might actually look and fit better.

6) Observe date differences.

Not every country has a weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Also, some countries use a lunar-based calendar. If you can swing it in a way that sounds natural, try to avoid references like this in your writing.

For example, the first line of the blog post below reads, "It's already Sunday?! Man, the weekends fly by so quickly in the summer."

date-differences

Again, "Sunday" doesn't mean the end of the weekend for everybody. In this case, a simple text swap is all that's needed. You could replace that line with something like, “The weekend’s nearly gone?! Man, it always flies by...”

7) Avoid images with text.

If you've gone through the trouble of translating a blog post into another language, you'd never want to accompany that translated post with an image in the original language. Either your readers will get confused, or they'll feel like the content wasn't designed for them.

When possible, choose a source image that will resonate universally. If you really need one with words in it, alert the translator of what other types of images might work instead, so they can select another.

For example, the featured image in the blog post below shows a hand with the word "STOP" written on it:

avoid-images-with-text

Remember, although the hand sign might look familiar, the word “STOP" isn't the same in every language. Instead, opt for a more universal symbol that accomplishes the same thing, like a stoplight.

stop-light

8) Give translators the tools and permissions to adapt liberally when needed.

Sometimes, there might be elements within a piece of content that might not make perfect sense for the target audience. In these cases, it'll be important to let the translator know what to do and how far they can go to customize it for a specific audience.

For example, if you have a diagram within a post, can the translator delete the diagram and simply describe it instead with words? Or do they need to adopt the diagram with a localized version? Give them clear instructions.

Take a look at this screenshot from a blog post we wrote optimizing AdWords campaigns for desktop and mobile:

localized-versions

Someone translating this post might be able to swap these diagrams out with a description. Or, if given instructions and the original image files, they could adapt these images to a new language. Finally, remember that something like "pizza" may not be relatable to, say, a Japanese audience -- it might be more appropriate to use an example like "sushi" instead.

In this example, a translator would also note that the time format used in the image will vary depending on location.

9) Translate keywords properly.

Keywords that rank well in your country may not rank well in other countries -- and their direct translations might not, either. But finding the right keywords and optimizing the blog post for these keywords will be worth the SEO boost.

When you're negotiating translation costs as part of localizing content, you may want to discuss the selection of a relevant keyword for the source country. They can usually do this by using web-based tools to research keywords

10) Create a feedback loop.

Creating global content is a team effort. Any way that the authors of content in its original language can make the translation process easier for the translators --and vice versa -- will only speed up the localization process in the future.

Share any comments translators make with the source content team to help them stay aware of anything inhibiting the translation process, or that might help them select better terms in the future. They don’t need to be hypersensitive to localization, but it’s good for them to keep some examples top-of-mind. Over time, this will make everyone's jobs easier.

Here’s an example of a piece of content flagged by a Japanese translator:

hubspot-partner-example

japanese-translator-comment

The word "exposure” might carry multiple meanings and possible translations in Japanese -- some of them negative. “Visibility” might be a better alternative that lends itself to less confusion.

Here’s another example, this time from Brazil:

portuguese-translator-comment

The term “marketing agency” isn’t common in some languages and countries. The translator wants to ensure it’s OK to use a local equivalent instead.

11) Consider crediting your translators.

Translators can be great advocates for their own work, especially if they have a bio or online resume that points others to examples of their work. Consider crediting them by including something like “translated by [name]” or “adapted by [name]” at the bottom of the post. Doing this will make it clear to readers that the content was adapted, therefore setting the right expectations for your international visitors. It'll also help you develop good relationships with your translators.

These tidbits are just the tip of the international iceberg, but following them will help you begin creating content that resonates beyond just your own local borders. After all, your next customer could be anywhere.

What tips do you have for creating content that appeals to an international audience? Share with us in the comments below.

Writing Good CTA

PayPal Punished: What Does That Mean for Ecommerce?

paypal punished ecommerce

What is an ecommerce company to do when one of their “most trusted” payment options gets a big slap on the wrist from the US Treasury? Most are learning right now, though data isn’t yet available to report. So, what exactly happened, and how might it affect your small to medium ecommerce business?

A $7.7M Slap Hurts

Apparently, PayPal disregarded US sanctions and allowed money transfers to forbidden accounts, including some linked to Cuba, Iran, and terrorist organizations. The Treasury Department said in a statement, “PayPal’s management demonstrated reckless disregard for US economic sanctions requirements in deciding to operate a payment system without implementing appropriate controls.”

Fair enough, right? When people send money through PayPal, the company should know who’s spending it and where it’s going. The lack of regulation regarding payments to countries and organizations under sanction by the U.S. Treasury Department is kind of shocking. Right now, a $7.7M settlement really is little more than a slap on the wrist, but it’s also a warning that stricter punishment could follow.

What This Means for Ecommerce Now

As of right now, ecommerce business shouldn’t slow much. Individual companies are, of course, encouraged to reflect on their own beliefs regarding the “reckless disregard” of the sanctions and where PayPal allowed payments to be made. There are other online payment options available, including Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

The amount of the settlement won’t affect operations for PayPal, however. If you prefer to keep using the online wallet, there will be no interruption. You may want to consider introducing some other options for your customers, though. While the judgment doesn’t seem to be big news now, it won’t take long for word to spread.

What This Means for Ecommerce in the Future

As news begins to spread about the judgment, especially the reasons for the settlement, some buyers may feel the need to abandon PayPal as a payment option. This isn’t a promise of things to come or even a prediction. However, consumers can be passionate people, and your ecommerce company should always be prepared for this.

A slap on the wrist doesn’t always teach a lesson, either. Ecommerce companies that use PayPal services for payments can hope the digital wallet has a strong enough reporting system in place now. If not, PayPal could face stricter punishments in the future.

Preparing for Tomorrow

PayPal did bring in new management to their compliance division in 2011, so we can be sure they took the issue seriously. PayPal says they now have a program in place to scan all payments in real time to prohibit payments to unauthorized countries and organizations.

Should they not, prepare for sales without PayPal. With so many other options available, you shouldn’t have trouble finding something that fits your needs and makes your customers happy.

What are your thoughts about the judgment against PayPal? Would this new keep you from using the services as your online payment solution? We’d love to know what you’re thinking, so leave us a comment.

19 (Easy To Fix) Blunders That Are Hurting Your Conversion Rates

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Want to Start a Podcast? Here’s How to Do It [Free Guide]

BLOG-IMAGE-how-to-create-a-podcast

From Serial to StartUp and Bill Simmons, it's no secret that podcasts are gaining immense popularity. According to Edison Research, 17% of Americans (46 million and counting) listen to podcasts on a regular basis. That’s up from just 9% in 2008.

As more consumers become comfortable with on-demand audio, podcasting is becoming an attractive content format for businesses looking to grow their reach. Podcasts allow your content to reach people when they aren't just sitting at their computers -- instead, it can reach them on their drive to work, at the gym, or while they’re doing work around the house. Reaching more people more often can help a business grow their audience and establish them as experts in their field.

Want to start a podcast for your business? While information about podcasting exists on the web, most of it is outdated and confusing.

In our new ebook How to Create a Podcast, we'll guide you every step of the way so you can get a successful podcast up-and-running fairly quickly.

You'll learn:

  • The business value of starting a podcast
  • How to set up your podcast RSS feed without needing to know any code
  • The gear and software you'll need to record and edit your audio (and how easy it is)
  • Ideas for content and tips to prepare for each episode
  • Tips and techniques for marketing your podcast as well as its performance

Ready to get started? Click here to download How to Create a Podcast to learn everything you need to get started.

twitter-logo Click to Tweet: 

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 "Learn how to create a podcast that your audience will love http://hubs.ly/y0Hk_k0 by @HubSpot"

 

 

Creating Content That Sells: 9 Top Lessons From a Conversion Copywriter

copywriting-tips

From her own witty introduction in her AMA on Inbound.org, Joanna Wiebe makes it clear that she has a lock on copywriting. And she's not just any copywriter. Joanna's a “conversion copywriter” (a phrase my copywriter friends may want to adopt for their LinkedIn profiles), meaning she writes content that drives conversions and sells products. And she has a lot to say about how to make your words count -- in dollars and sense.

In her AMA, Joanna goes into the details of copywriting price points, building a business, and, of course, how to write copy that converts and delights. I'd urge you to check out the full thread, but if you want a quick summary of some of her best copywriting advice, check out the nine tips below.

The 9 Top Copywriting Lessons From Joanna Wiebe

1) Don't Go After "Big Fish" Clients for the Case Study

Everyone wants the “big fish” clients -- except for Joanna Wiebe.

She argues in favor of landing the middle-sized fish that are more agile, don’t hand you off to the “execution level,” and don’t require you to sign an NDA (so you can use them in case studies). She attracts them by giving “away as much info as I can.” This info includes lessons, formulas, experiments, and other extremely useful information. “Then reserve for purchase the stuff that people want after they’ve consumed your awesome free stuff.”

2) Spend 90% of Your Writing Time on Crafting Strong Headlines

Joanna had lots to say on headlines, which is no surprise since she spends 90% of her writing time crafting two of them for each piece (for split-testing purposes).

She also says: Don’t stuff them with keywords, and don’t listen to old-school SEO dictators on how to write them. Make headlines attention-grabbing, but not skeezy, and feel free to borrow from winning formulas.

Pro tip: Great headlines are often incarnations of the value proposition of the thing you’re trying to sell.

Another Pro Tip: Ask yourself this question about the prospect for whom you’re writing: “What was going on in your life that brought you to us today?”

A Third Pro Tip: On landing pages, align your headline and button copy to increase conversions.

3) Write a Really Great Headline by Using Data, “Even If," and "Without"

There’s a lot to be said about headlines, because they are THAT important. Here are a few things you can include to make your headline stand out:

  • Add some data about the outcome
  • Throw in an “even if” clause to overcome hesitation
  • Or, replace “even if” with “without” -- what don’t you have to do to get the result?

4) Write Value Propositions -- Not Positioning Statements

At its core, a value prop should express what is unique and desirable about your offer -- don’t confuse it with a positioning statement. Do state something about what the product does. Maybe include the end benefit (you don’t want your value prop to be a laundry list of benefits). You may want to test value props that address different stages of awareness (see tip #5). Also, read Value Proposition Design by Alex Osterwalder and check out this worksheet from Marketing Experiments.

5) Familiarize Yourself With the Types of Awareness 

There are a few different types of awareness that people will have during the sales process. Depending on their stage of awareness, they will need different content and messaging:

  • Pain Aware people respond to seeing solutions to their pain, or even their pain itself.
  • Solution Aware people respond to high-level benefits -- so don’t think of the problem, folks, think of the solution.
  • Brand/Product Aware people want to see the biggest and best benefit your product has to offer before you introduce them to the rest of the benefits. They love the phrase "But wait, there’s more!"
  • Problem Aware people realize they have a problem ... but they have no idea how to solve it. 
  • Completely Unaware people are more clueless about their problems than Alicia Silverstone in the ‘90s.

6) Embrace the Similarities Between Value Props and Taglines

This is what a valueproptagline looks like:

Kayak: Search one and done.

Sometimes, the best taglines are your value props, but whittled down even smaller while maintaining specificity. (And hey, if it was easy, we wouldn’t need people like Joanna Wiebe!)

7) Keep Swipe Files for Inspiration

Haven’t heard of a swipe file? It’s a collection of memorable content that you can then use for ideas. Save what you love, and what you noticed – good or bad. Then, when the well runs dry, you’ve got a handy file of inspiration.

8) To Write Content That Surprises, Shocks & Generates Shares, Pick a Fight

Not a person -- unless you’re willing to burn bridges -- but take on an accepted way of doing things and turn it on its head. Be provocative, but not insulting.

Still stuck on what to write about? Survey your blog visitors and email subscribers on topics interest them most, and mine your customers' FAQs. 

9) Eschew the Top 10 List for the Top 9 List

Top X lists (whatever the number) still work well if -- and only if -- they add something meaningful to a timely conversation. Be different. Be better.

Also, odd numbers often work better than round numbers, which is why this list of Joanna Wiebe wisdom stops here.

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8 Ways Home Builders Can Use Houzz for Lead Generation

house

Since its inception in 2009, Houzz.com has quickly become a valuable tool to help home builders increase online exposure. According to Houzz, the site is home to 25 million users looking for unique home design ideas and possessing an average household income of $125,000.

For home builders, there’s no question the target audience is there. The challenge lies in maximizing Houzz exposure to convert Houzz users into leads you can actually follow up with.

These eight tips will help you go from simply having a Houzz profile to managing a Houzz presence that produces tangible leads. 

1) Include Strategic Keywords

Be sure your target audience discovers your profile when they search Houzz for terms that matter to them by including keywords in your business description and your projects. For example, a Dallas home buyer in the market for a custom builder may want to see examples of unique exteriors on Houzz created by Dallas-area home builders.

To find these examples, they might search “Dallas exteriors.” If you’re a Dallas builder, you would want to appear in this search. Therefore, builders should include relevant geographic terms in addition to terms that describe the nature of the project or photo. For example, instead of titling your project “Kitchen Remodel”, consider calling it “Dallas Kitchen Remodel.”

When you add a project, there is a specific section to include keywords. To add keywords to an existing project, simply click “edit” on any photo and you will see the keywords section appear. Houzz provides a quick and easy YouTube tutorial to help you add keywords correctly.

Take time to add as many relevant keywords as possible in this section. Be sure to include the same type of relevant keywords in the “Description” field of your projects. Be as detailed as possible with these descriptions. It takes time but it’s worth it because it will help more people find you.

Keywords are also important because Houzz profiles are indexed by Google. So, when someone searches a term like “Dallas builders” in Google, Houzz’s list of Dallas builders shows up in search results. When someone clicks on that search result, they see a list of local builders with reviews and examples of work.

So, it’s extremely valuable to appear in these Houzz lists. It’s even more valuable to appear in a high position. One of the best ways to improve your ranking in these lists is by increasing your company’s reviews on Houzz. 

2) Increase Reviews

The best sales leads have always come from word-of-mouth referrals. Online reviews are often almost as valuable as a friend recommending your company to another friend. Today’s consumers conduct a lot of research before making purchases. Online reviews are one resource that people regard heavily when making a large purchase like a home. 

Houzz reviews are no different, and the more you receive, the higher you are likely to rank in the Houzz directory for your geographic area. Therefore, you should encourage your clients to submit reviews. Houzz makes this really easy with their “Get Reviews” feature. 

You can send an email straight from the Houzz platform to your clients requesting a review. The email contains a link that will take your client straight to the location where they can submit a review. Houzz provides a quick YouTube tutorial for this feature, as well. 

 

If you have business partners like interior designers or landscapers that are also on Houzz, it’s helpful to request reviews from them, as well. Providing reviews for your partners will help motivate them to provide reviews for you. This will help both of you rank higher for your services and geographic locations.

3) Link Projects to Blog Posts

When you add a project to your Houzz profile, you can include an external link to provide more information on that project. Therefore, we recommend creating a blog post on your website that expands on each Houzz project.

You can then include the link to that blog post in the actual Houzz project. This strategy will help increase traffic to your website, provide additional blog content, and encourage people to learn more information about your company beyond what’s in your Houzz profile. It could also lead to new blog subscribers.

Plus, if you include calls-to-action in your blog posts, you will encourage lead generation. By including a call-to-action that links to a landing page with a form to download a piece of valuable content (such as a buyer’s guide), you may generate tangible leads that you can follow up with. 

4) Engage Users Through “Questions” and “Advice” Features

Houzz provides a “Questions” feature that allows users to ask you questions about your projects. Be sure to monitor your Houzz profile closely so you can respond to questions in a very timely manner. Timeliness is key for turning someone who has posed a question into an actual lead.

Responding quickly shows you are a tentative builder that cares. It also helps you ensure you connect with the user when they are still in the right mindset. If you respond several days after the question is asked, the user may have received his answer somewhere else, or he may have become preoccupied with something else.

Responding in a detailed and thorough manner is also important because it shows you are an expert. This is why the questions feature is so valuable. It helps you show that you are a tentative, caring, expert home builder. And who wouldn’t want to hire a home builder like that?

Houzz also offers an “Advice” feature. Engaging in discussions here helps you obtain additional exposure and establish your expertise. Spend time answering questions and contributing valuable insight to discussions. Both the “Questions” and “Advice” features allow you to engage one-on-one with users, and start building relationships. 

5) Utilize Bookmarks for CRM

The “Bookmarks” feature allows you to keep track of your favorite discussions on Houzz. If you are communicating with potential leads in discussions, it may be helpful to note that in your CRM system.

Bookmarking your discussions will allow you to easily return to those discussions and review your interactions so you can record information about the contact in your CRM system.

6) Add a Houzz Badge or Widget to Your Website

Adding a Houzz badge or widget to your website’s home page will help boost your ranking in the Houzz directory. There are several badges to choose from, including a badge that simply indicates you have a Houzz profile to badges that indicate any special Houzz recognitions you may have received.

Houzz also offers widgets that will allow you to display your Houzz reviews or add a slideshow of your Houzz projects to your website. Adding these features to your website will help demonstrate your company’s status and expertise to visitors who enjoy and trust Houzz as a resource.

7) Submit a Project to be an Editorial Feature

Submit one of your projects to Houzz’s editorial review team for a chance to be become the subject of a featured article on Houzz, such as their “Room of the Day” or “Kitchen of the Week” articles. If you are selected, you’ll receive free national exposure from one of the most important websites in the home building industry.

These articles are based solely on merit; no one can pay to be selected. So, they act as a great indicator of your company’s expertise and creativity.  If you are selected, you can promote the article via your other marketing channels such as social networks, email marketing, and your blog. 

8) Complete Your Profile in Detail

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth stating. The goal of completing and maintaining your profile isn’t to get it done so you can move on to something else. The goal is to ensure your target audience finds you on Houzz and then takes an additional action like visiting your website or contacting you. So, invest the time into filling out your profile in detail.

Be sure you take advantage of the opportunity Houzz gives to link to all your social networks. If people begin to connect with you in other social networks, they will discover your blog posts and other valuable content. This will help drive them to your website and engage them in lead nurturing.  

The Bottom Line

It’s not necessary to be active in all social networks; just the networks that are most effective for your industry. For builders, Houzz is arguably the most important social network for driving website traffic and leads.

As we’ve described, it can also help increase your search engine and media exposure. These eight tips will help you get the most marketing leverage and lead generation potential out of Houzz.

lead-generation-plan-builders            

8 BuzzFeed Long Reads With Seriously Compelling Stories

long-reads

Most of the content I read online is short and sweet -- and for the most part, I like it that way. While skimming articles on my commute or between meetings, it's nice when the author gets right to the point. But when I have the time, there's something really special about getting totally engrossed in a gripping, detailed, spun-out story.

That's what a great long read does. There are a few outlets that publish amazing, well-researched, canonical stories; among them The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and BuzzFeed.

Yup, you read that right. Although widely known for feel-good, GIF-heavy, and sometimes quite silly content, BuzzFeed's editorial staff actually does long stories really, really well.

Below are some of our favorite BuzzFeed long reads. These are examples of great storytelling that anyone -- marketers, content creators, and just curious humans -- can appreciate and learn from. Enjoy.

The 8 Best BuzzFeed Long Reads

1) 36 Hours on the Fake Campaign Trail With Donald Trump

Even though Donald Trump has only ever toyed with the idea of running for office, he still travels the country giving what might be best described as pep talks about his political ambitions. Why bother, especially when he doesn't really have an interest in running for office?

In this long read, BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins spends some quality time with Trump as he travels on his private jet (with gold-plated seatbelts) from New Hampshire to his 17-acre Florida estate. Read the full story to learn how Trump feels about his "fake" campaign, how he got nudged into politics in the first place, and how he feels about the press.

trump-political-campaign

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

2) The Vocal Life Coach

What do pop stars like Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, and Vanessa Hudgens have in common? They share one of America's most in-demand vocal coaches, Eric Vetro, who's been in the industry for over 30 years. 

Although Vetro's main job is to help singers work on proper technique and maintain their beautiful voices, he isn't just a voice teacher to them. He's a friend, a mentor, and an extremely positive personality, which is a big part of why he's become so successful. In this long read, we're taken through the story of how Vetro built his success, the state of the vocal teaching industry, and what it's like to work with Hollywood actors, Broadway singers, and pop stars.

voice-coach

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

3) Can You Die From a Nightmare?

Ever dreamt that you were in such imminent danger that you needed to escape your bedroom by jumping out the window -- and then woken up screaming, crouching on top of your desk by the window, about to take the plunge?

Doree Shafrir has -- and it was terrifying. Unfortunately, she's had many, many other dreams just as scary, bizarre, and sometimes even violent. But it wasn't until she read a tragic New York Times news story about a 35-year-old man named Tobias Wong who committed suicide in his sleep (despite having no history of mental illness) that she realized she might be dealing with something called "night terrors." In this BuzzFeed long read, Shafrir shares stories of her own bad sleeping experiences and dives into the science of sleep disorders.

sleeping-pill

Image Credit: Adam Setala for BuzzFeed

4) How I Escaped a Kidnapping Attempt in Yemen

Gregory Johnsen fell in love with the Middle East in college, thanks to a series of study abroad programs and many return trips for leisure, then graduate school, and then finally, his job as an American journalist. Of everywhere he'd visited, though, Yemen was his favorite -- and in 2014, his editors agreed to send him there in exchange for three great stories upon his return. He got his stories, alright. In this long read, Johnsen recounts how an innocent trip to a local café turned into a nightmare that almost cost him his life.

yemen-kidnapping

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

5) Training, Tanning, and Branding With the Bikini Bodybuilding Stars of Instagram

There's bodybuilding, and then there's bikini bodybuilding: a newer style of competition that's opened up the world of weightlifting to female athletes who want to promote positive body image in a more attainable, approachable way. Ashley Kaltwasser is one such athlete. At 26 years old, she's not just a bikini bodybuilding champion -- she's also something of an Instagram celebrity, and has experienced all the pros and cons of public exposure. In this long read, Amanda Shapiro tells Kaltwasser's story in the context of today's social media trends.

bodybuilder-champion

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

6) The Girl Who Survived the Brain-Eating Amoeba

Before Kali Harding got to the hospital, her parents thought it was the flu. But her 103-degree fever wasn't responding to medication, a spinal tap ruled out meningitis, and her eyes were rolling back into her head.

It was a sample of cerebrospinal fluid that came back with the verdict: Kali had a "brain-eating amoeba" -- a parasite found in fresh water and mud that can enter a person's brain directly by way of their nasal passage. The survival rate for this particular organism? One percent. In this long read, Peter Smith recounts the miraculous story of Kali's survival and the state's hunt for the parasite's origin in the local water system.

amoeba-survival

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

7) I Had a Stroke at 33

"I am trapped in my brain."

"My memories are mixing with imagination."

When Christine Lee had a stroke on New Year's Eve, these are things she wanted to say, but couldn't. She's lost her voice and her words. When she finally got to the hospital, she was 40 years younger than everyone else in the stroke unit. In this tragic and fascinating story, Lee recounts what it was like to experience a stroke and how it affected her thoughts, her movements, her relationships, and her life in the months and years afterward -- the good and the bad.

stroke-at-33

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

8) Why I Bought a House in Detroit for $500

When he was 23 years old, Drew Philp bought a house -- a fixer-upper, you could say. In a city where abandoned houses and buildings are commonplace and young people are flocking to other, more prosperous cities, Philp decided not only to stick around Detroit, but to invest in it. In this long read, learn the story of how one man took what he called "an American vision of torment" and created a home.

detroit-house

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

What are your favorite long reads (BuzzFeed or not)? Share them with us in the comments below.

Writing Good CTA

3 Ways to Optimize Your Landing Pages to Better Address Human Behavior

persuasive-design

Just like some words are more persuasive than others, some designs are more persuasive than others, too. A landing page's layout, the fonts and colors used, image placement, form length, and other design factors can have an impact on how many people actually choose to fill out the form.

Want to design a landing page that persuades people to convert? Then you'll need to take a step back from the aggregate data about site visits, conversion rates, and lead numbers, and think hard about the human behind the screen. What makes him or her tick? What are her or his goals? Only after considering these questions can we begin to think about optimizing our landing pages for conversion.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is, simply, understanding human behavior.

Easier said than done, you might be thinking. Well, let's break it down a little bit. According to the Fogg Behavioral Model for persuasive design, human behavior is a product of three factors: motivation, triggers, and ability. The more you keep these factors top-of-mind as you design your landing page, the more persuasive your design will be.

In this post, we'll explore these three factors of human behavior. For each factor, you'll come away with solid, data-backed takeaways that you can use when designing your own, high-converting landing pages.

And if you want to learn more data-backed CRO hacks, watch our on-demand webinar with Wordstream.

1) Motivation

According to Fogg's behavioral model, humans are primarily motivated by: pleasure/pain, hope/fear, and social acceptance/rejection.

For our purposes, it's inspiring hope and social acceptance that are most relevant. Hope allows users to anticipate a positive outcome, and the desire for social acceptance is a hardwired into us as we historically depended on living in groups to survive.

Takeaways for Marketers

Convey your company's expertise.

Chances are that your business writes offers on topics your colleagues are experts in. Why not show that off on your landing page? Dedicate space on your where you can tell visitors what it is that your company specializes in. By establishing authority in the field, you'll give visitors more of a reason to trust the content behind the form, making them more likely to convert.

We've actually tested this theory at HubSpot. In one test, we included a blurb next to our logo on several landing pages that briefly conveyed our expertise. It said, “HubSpot is an inbound marketing software platform that has helped over 12,000 companies attract visitors, convert leads, and and close customers.” Landing pages with this variation saw, on average, a 3% increase in conversion rates compared to those with just the plain logo.

List the number of downloads an offer has.

Never underestimate the power of social proof. When visitors see that a whole bunch of people have downloaded the offer before them, they're more likely to follow the herd. That number of downloads establishes a norm, and people like following norms.

At HubSpot, we tested added the following subtitle to some of our landing pages: “Join X marketing professionals who have already downloaded this offer!” Landing pages with this variation saw, on average, a 4% increase in conversion rates compared to those with just title and a offer-related subtitle.

2) Ability

In persuasive design, "ability" is synonymous with "simplicity." Simplicity factors can vary by individual: Some people have more time, some people have more money, and others can invest in tasks with a larger cognitive load, while still others cannot.

Basically, simplicity is a function of a person’s scarcest resource at the moment a behavior is triggered. In marketing, we want to make our landing pages as simple as possible in terms of time and cognitive load.

Takeaways for Marketers

Use images instead of words.

When people want to download an offer, they may not have the time to read through a lot of words. Chances are, they have other things on their mind and may not have the cognitive space to read through a lot of difficult content on your landing page. To reduce words on your landing pages and get to the point more quickly, try showcasing the value of your offer through images. Not only is visual content appealing, it's also much easier to digest than words. 

At HubSpot, we ran a test where we looked at conversion rates of landing pages with the offer value proposition listed in bullet point format to those with the value showcased by screenshots of the offer. We found that landing pages with screenshots had conversion rates that were, on average, 3% higher than those with bullet points.

Reduce the number of form-fields you have on your forms.

Filling out forms is time-consuming. If a person comes to a landing page and sees a ton of form fields, they might feel overwhelmed and bounce from the page quicker than you can say “conversion.” Upon initial contact, it may be better to present a shorter form to the visitor. Although shorter forms mean you won't get as much information from visitors, you can use strategies like progressive profiling to gather more information from them later on. It's better to get more people to convert.

At HubSpot, we ran an experiment where we replaced our longer form with a form that only showed four fields at first. The landing pages that showed four form fields at first had a 7% higher conversion rate, on average, than the longer ones.

3) Triggers

A trigger is something that tells people to perform a behavior now. There are three types of triggers:

  • A spark is a trigger that motivates behavior.
  • A facilitator makes behavior easier.
  • A signal indicates or reminds.

With interactive technology, triggers have become more important than ever before: A person receives a trigger, and they're encouraged to act immediately, and sometimes on impulse.

Takeaways for Marketers

Mention the word “free” in the landing page title.

When people come to a landing page, they may hesitate to convert if it's not clear that an offer is free. Don't leave them to ponder -- instead, mention explicitly that they don't need to pay any money to download the offer.

At HubSpot, we tried this with a few of our landing pages. Landing pages with the word “free” in the title had a 3% higher conversion rate, on average, than those that didn’t.

Use words of urgency in the landing page header.

Triggers can also be used to encourage people to act on impulse. Add words that cue urgency to increase the likelihood that they'll go with their gut reaction of downloading.

At HubSpot, we added urgency phrases like “immediately,” “available now,” “limited time only,” and “don’t miss out” to a few of our landing pages. The pages with the urgency wording had an average conversion rate 4% higher than those that didn’t.

When you design a landing page that has factors of motivation, simplicity, and triggers present, then conversion -- your target behavior -- will increase.

Have you tested any of these CRO tips on your landing pages? Share your experiences in the comments below.

free webinar: conversion rate optimization

How the 2015 MTV Movie Awards unfolded on Twitter

This evening, stars and fans gathered to celebrate the year’s most- loved movies and performances at the 2015 MTV Movie Awards. As the unpredictable night of celebrity antics and live performances unfolded, many viewers took to Twitter to share real-time reactions to the show.

The MTV Movie Awards never disappoints in delivering a buzzworthy show. Here are the moments that generated the most conversation on Twitter globally (three hours before and during broadcast):

  1. The Fault in Our Stars wins Movie of the Year
  2. Fall Out Boy and Fetty Wap perform
  3. Tinashe, Ty Dolla $ign and Charli XCX perform

Viewers chimed in with Tweets as actors collected their Golden Popcorn for best villain, hero, WTF moment and other categories. Here are the most Tweeted-about stars (three hours before and during broadcast):

  1. Dylan O’Brien (@dylanobrien)
  2. Shailene Woodley (@shailenewoodley)
  3. Ansel Elgort (@AnselElgort)

A Twitter Mirror featuring Tweets from @glamourmag captured some of the night’s most candid moments with celebrity selfies:



What’s more, MTV brought fans closer than ever with @Periscopeco broadcasts offering live streams of celebs like Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, and Rebel Wilson, showcasing the night through their eyes. 

Some other notable Tweets from the evening include:

Twitter TV activity and reach data for the U.S. market will be available from Nielsen here tomorrow at 1pm EST.

Until next time!

Are The Fortune 500 Ready For Mobile Search?

2561885967_ace74d2a6a_o On April 21 Google will be making significant changes to its mobile search algorithm to promote sites that the search giant feels are mobile friendly (aka #Mobilegeddon). Mobile friendly sites render different layouts depending on the size of the browser screen, and as mobile penetration rates prove, with more people accessing the web through mobile devices, the decision makes sense. Read More
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