Cracking the Code: Sustained User Engagement

It is one thing to have devotedĀ fans that follow you across multiple platforms. It is another to have tribal leaders who direct a community. This is a very important distinction if your goal is to create sustained engagement. Getting fans to notice you is the first...

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Unriddled: The Tech News You Need, Explained

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Wednesday. Allow us to introduce "Unriddled" -- the HubSpot Marketing Blog's mid-week digest of the tech news you need to know. This week, we've got stories from Google, Amazon, Instagram, and more. So when the volume of stories of these...

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4 Signs You've Found an Informed Candidate

In the search for top talent, every recruiter prefers an informed candidate. Why? Informed candidates make the hiring process easier by asking smarter questions, doing the necessary research on the company, and tailoring their expectations to the role they’re applying for.

So how can these job-seeking unicorns be spotted?

Here are a number of indicators that will show you that you have an informed candidate in your application pipeline — for more, download the Ultimate Screening Checklist.

1. They Came as a Referral

Every year, employee referrals top the list as a source of new talent for employers — in 2016, 30 percent of all hires were a result of employee referrals, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

This is no accident: employee referrals are one of the most reliable sources for informed candidates. One reason for this is that your employees share your goal in wanting to recommend a good candidate — it makes them look good, brings in their friend or acquaintance to the company and sometimes even gives them a bonus for a successful referral.

In addition, referred candidates are often better informed because they have a friend who can fill them in on the ins and outs of the company, both before the interview and during the onboarding process. Referred candidates also save hiring time in the long run: multiple studies have shown that referred candidates have a higher retention rate — a 2015 study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics showed that in high-tech jobs, referred candidates are 26 percent less likely to quit.

2. Their Resume Is Tailored to the Job Description

In today’s digitized job application process, candidates can send out a flurry of job applications with just a few clicks of a button. High-quality candidates, however, will spend time tailoring their resume to fit the company and the specific job description. One place to look for this is in the candidate’s statement or objective section.

Statements that are bland and can apply to any job show a lack of thoughtfulness, while a statement that clearly is aligned with the goals of the company and the role that is being asked for is a clear sign you have an informed candidate on your hands. In addition, the presence of relevant industry keywords shows that they are familiar with the industry and know how to use the terminology.

3. They Understand the Role

Having an understanding of the role that they’ve applied to saves time for both the candidate and the employer. The applicant’s resume and cover letter, as well as the questions they ask during the interview, are the best places to see that they have thought about how their experience qualifies them for each specific aspect of the role. At the same time, it is your duty as an employer to follow best practices for writing a job description, and make the duties and expectations for the role as clear as possible.

4. They Ask Intelligent Questions

Before coming in for an interview, any competent candidate should have done their research on the company — if they have, it will likely show in the questions they ask you. Asking informed questions shows that they have both invested time in bulking up their knowledge of the company and getting to know the company on a deeper level. Bonus points if they bring up recent company news or product developments!

This article was originally published on Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites. Glassdoor combines all the jobs with valuable data to make it easy for people to find a job that fits their life, while also helping employers hire quality talent at scale. Are you hiring? Post jobs for free with a 7-day trial.

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5 Tips for Giving Constructive Feedback to a Writer

“I’m not comfortable putting my name on this.”

I received this comment once from a colleague at a previous employer, responding to an article I wrote for him under his byline. But when I dug in, I found that his issue with the piece were a few small errors that were easy to fix. Sweeping remarks like “I don’t like it” were common at that job, and they often arrived with little direction by the author for how to revise.

This criticism was so disheartening, there came a point where I’d actively avoid writing for certain people because of how they expressed their feedback.

The reason my colleague’s comment struck a nerve with me isn’t because I’m a delicate flower who can’t take being told my work is insufficient. It’s because it wasn’t constructive. Feedback to a writer needs to — among other things — highlight the first draft’s specific flaws, its strengths (however few there might be) and the goals of the assignment. Otherwise, the writer has no incentive or means to improve.

This was a guidepost for me when I worked as a content editor, and being on the other side of the writer-editor relationship showed me just how valuable good feedback can be to a writer’s motivation and final product. The problem is, even if your intentions are good, feedback can still come across as aggressive or confusing to a writer if it’s not delivered, packaged, or expressed correctly.

Whether you’re reviewing the work of a ghostwriter, freelance writer, or even a direct coworker, here are five tips I’ve picked up as both a writer and editor on giving constructive feedback to the people who create content for you.

1. Comment on the Good Qualities First

I can attest to how tempting it is to end a business relationship with those who only mention what you did wrong. Harvard Business School found a similar trend: In a study of 300 U.S.-based employees, a person was 44% more likely to disassociate from a colleague who gave them feedback that was more negative than the recipient’s self-evaluation.

So, how do you call out the bad parts of someone’s work without sounding like a jerk? Start with the good parts. Introducing feedback on a piece of content with what it does well accomplishes three things for the writer:

It fuels their motivation to approach revisions and new assignments. It gives them a vantage point for where their work fell short. It tells them what’s working and what they should keep doing.

If you struggle to find strengths in a writer’s first draft, don’t be afraid to broaden the subject of your praise. For example, if an article on search engine optimization (SEO) is full of advice based on an outdated version of Google’s algorithm, clarify that the writer was right to include such a thorough variety of SEO tactics, as this will make the final article that much more valuable.

2. Call Out a Recurring Mistake Right Away

As a copy editor, I had a bad habit of waiting 10 articles before telling a writer about a mistake they kept making. It was just easier fixing it myself instead of sending it back to them — so easy that I eventually forgot I’d already fixed these things in previous content. Unfortunately, this became exhausting, and when I finally informed a writer of an error, it didn’t go over well.

Don’t follow younger Braden’s example.

No matter how easy it is in the short term for you to correct chronic flaws in a writer’s work, you’ll eventually want them to learn the right way of doing it in the first place. But when you wait multiple occurrences before flagging the issue, you can cause a lot of confusion. “Why now?” The writer might ask you. “Do you have a new style guide that enforces this?” An awkward “er … not exactly” is sure to follow.

In addition, failing to call out issues in their work right away compromises their trust in your feedback. If you want a writer to listen to your feedback, you need to be honest about their mistakes, 100% of the time.

If you notice a recurring error in a writer’s work, address it on-sight. This solves the problem before it becomes a habit and makes the writer more attentive to the guidelines of their assignment.

3. Provide a Style Guide or Cheat Sheet

Speaking of guidelines, give your writer some. Even if the only editorial parameters you have in place are the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style, make sure this material is in your writer’s hands.

Stylebooks enable your writer to refer to this material instead of reaching out to you every time they’re unsure of something. It also allows you to back up any constructive feedback they might be skeptical of directly via official directions they already have in their possession.

Does your writer’s assignment call for project guidelines that are more complex or specific than AP or Chicago style? Package these heavier guidelines into a PDF ebook that you can distribute to new content creators as they join your ranks (get some ebook design templates here). Here’s one idea:

Use these templates as way to organize the company-specific editorial issues and questions you know will come up frequently.


Here are a few ideas of what you might include in such a guide:

Target audience. Who’s your intended readership? Outline your target buyer persona here so your writers can make sure everything they create benefits this person. Product info. How should writers refer to your products or services? Details could range from spelling, to capitalization, to which writing topics are associated with which products — ensuring any calls to action are directed toward the right conversion paths. Competition. Who are your competitors? List each one, and detail how you prefer they be referred to (or not). Tone. What tone should your writers take in their writing? Company blogs need to distinguish themselves by talking in a way that resonates with their audience. You might compare your tone to a real-life figure and their style of speech to make a tone guideline more concrete. Perhaps they’re especially formal — or somewhat snarky.

In addition, take this opportunity to include company exceptions to either the AP or Chicago style guides. Professional writers tend to base their writing style on one of these stylebooks, so use this as a benchmark for your writers as they create content, but don’t hesitate to include exceptions as you see fit.

For example, AP’s stylebook forbids use of the oxford comma (the last comma in a list of three or more items), but you might decide you prefer having it throughout your website. Note exceptions like these in your cheat sheet.

4. Include Edits With Your Revision Requests

Which YouTube video would you rather watch: Someone describing how to play guitar, or someone holding a guitar and demonstrating each chord? The latter, right?

The same goes for feedback on writing. When pointing out a weakness in the text, offer a sample fix.

For example: Let’s say you’re reviewing a post that links out to various sources, but none of those hyperlinks use the name of the source as their anchor text — a policy of yours in this hypothetical situation. Don’t just describe the issue the way I just did; call out the problem and then fix it for them in a comment once or twice so they know what you mean.

According to Moz, “anchor text” is the clickable word or phrase attached to a hyperlink (see what I did there?).

Going out of way your way to suggest a fix not only gives the writer context for the errors you’ve identified and help correcting them, but it also shows you’re genuinely interested in seeing a successful final draft — to the point where you’ll put in some sweat and effort of your own.

5. Supplement Written Feedback With a Verbal Introduction

When I was a freelance writer for an SEO agency, I had minimal contact with the editor, and that made it difficult for me to find encouragement in the tone of their written comments. By contrast, I regularly met my editor in person while writing for an environmental company and I was always motivated to execute on each request for revision.

Calling or video-chatting a new freelancer — or even an in-house hire you won’t meet with regularly — is more important to a working relationship that you might think. Doing so for a new writer establishes a rapport and shorthand that can go a long way toward the writer’s cooperation and understanding as you begin to assign more work to them.

It also makes them more comfortable calling or approaching you if they’re unsure about a piece they’re working on. This can prevent long periods of email tag and ensure both parties stay on task.

After receiving a first submission

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Why the 'Pivot to Video' Is Dangerous for Publishers

When I read that the average American spends five-and-a-half hours per day watching video content, I scoffed. Between video explainers on Facebook, Game of Thrones, and Netflix, that average is closer to my daily minimum time spent watching videos.

After all, 2017 was “the year of video” — why shouldn’t people consume more videos, and why shouldn’t creators make more?

As it turns out, there is such a thing as too much video. Publishers like MTV News, which laid off most of its editorial crew last year to focus on video; and Vox Media, which scaled back its video team this year, have seen how hazardous a “pivot to video” can be.

No, not that kind of pivot. I’m talking about the “pivot to video.”

What is pivoting to video? It’s not changing seats on the couch to get a better view — it’s the latest example of marketers and content creators being so eager to adopt a new platform or medium that they ruin it.

What Is a Pivot to Video?

Pivot to video (verb): To decrease or entirely shutter written editorial operations to focus on creating more video content

Synonyms: restructuring, reorganizing, refocusing

If this sounds like a joke … well, the dictionary definition is kind of a joke. But “pivoting to video” consists of publications deciding to focus so entirely on video that entire writing and editorial staff are laid off completely.

It started with MTV News.

You might not be surpised to hear this — after all, the word “television” makes up two of the three letters in MTV. But after an organizational restructuring at MTV in 2015, long-form editorial and video content about politics, culture, and social issues helped improve the network’s ratings and engagement on web properties. MTV News staffed its team with content creators who produced documentary-style videos and 4,000-6,000-word long-form written pieces — most of whom were let go in June of this year, when MTV News “pivoted” to create more short-form music and entertainment video over long-form editorial pieces.

Twitter was flooded with tweets from former employees announcing their newfound employment status, friends calling for publishers to hire them, and content creators from all media decrying — and defending — the strategic pivot.

I’ve been laid off by @MTVNews. I’ll miss seeing my brilliant, talented colleagues, and I look forward to continuing my career elsewhere.

— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) June 28, 2017

.@MTVNews I’m a fan of video. I work in video. But behind strong video, you also need strong storytellers.

— Traci Lee (@traciglee) June 28, 2017

I’ve been in digital media for 12 years. One thing I’ve learned is that nobody wants to read anything over 1,000 words. MTV is more proof.

— Andy Gray (@AndyGray35) June 28, 2017

But the pivot didn’t stop there.

Over the past year thus far, several major publishers have pivoted, structured, reorganized, and refocused on creating video content — at the cost of writers’ and editors’ jobs. Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, Vice, and HuffPost have all focused efforts on creating short-form video content — and all have laid off writers and editors. One publication — Vocativ — laid off its entire editorial staff “to focus exclusively on video content.”

In fact, “pivoting to video” has become such a ubiquitous term in the digital space that it’s become a joke in and of itself.

Quit doing this. No one wants video. We all read faster than people talk, it eats up data, and you can’t watch video on the toilet at work.

— Peter Lynn (@Peter_Lynn) July 21, 2017

the WH communications department is pivoting to video

— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) July 31, 2017

How’s that video push working out for everyone? – Vox Media Lays Off 50 Staffers, or 5% of Workforce via @variety

— Merrill Barr (@MerrillBarr) February 21, 2018

Fast-forward to this year (no pun intended): Facebook announces it will reduce brand and publisher content on its users’ news feeds, and Vox Media lays off 50 video producers across Racked, Curbed, SB Nation, and other online properties in its portfolio.

With respect to social media, snarky tweets from within the industry aren’t the only reason to take your foot off the video gas pedal. There are a few big reasons a complete pivot to video is ill-advised. Keep reading — I’ll explain.

The Reason People Pivot to Video

Let’s call a spade a spade — publishers are pivoting to video to make money.

In the age of pre-roll and mid-roll advertising, it’s harder to ignore a video ad when it’s the only thing standing between you and a video you want to watch. Ads are easier to ignore when they live in the side margins and on top of written long-form articles, so publishers might see a greater opportunity to make money from placing video ads over video content.

And the biggest piece of the digital advertising pie now goes not to advertisers or publishers — but to Facebook and Google. So it’s understandable that media companies and publications are doing whatever they can to drive ROI on the content they produce.

But the pivot to video isn’t happening at random — these strategic reorganizations are also a nod to the growing popularity of video content, which we can’t deny — nor would we want to.

We’ve blogged at length about video being engaging, in-demand, and a smart way for brands to diversify content and connect with audiences in new ways. And making videos is smart — it just shouldn’t be the only content your brand produces.

It’s true that videos are growing in popularity — your audience wants to see videos, videos drive results for your business, and videos are an extremely favorable medium across different social media platforms. It’s also true that the human attention span is waning. But this doesn’t mean you should send your editorial staff packing. You don’t need to “pivot to video” to develop a smart video strategy as part of your content production engine — and we’ll show you how.

What to Keep in Mind When Pivoting to Video 1. People Like to Read

Setting aside for a moment the fact that the written word has been in existence for several thousand years (thank you, Flinstone family), the popularity of video content and written content aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, audiences want more written content and more videos — so can’t we all just get along?

In 2017, we learned that roughly half of consumers want to see more video content — but almost the same amount also wanted to see more news articles.

But in a new HubSpot Research survey released in February 2018, we learned that the popularity of video content is increasing — especially among people 18 to 24 years old. What’s a marketer to do?

Content consumption preferences are always changing, and they vary across different age groups, content formats, and subject matter. There are some cases when the written word is a better way to share information than video content — especially as people are still browsing a business’s website (and the written content included on it) more than purely video.

In some cases, audiences don’t want videos at all. For example, in the United States, NiemanLab found that video isn’t growing as rapidly as one might think.

In fact, roughly half of those surveyed didn’t watch any online news videos — and more than two-thirds said they consumed most news in text format. Most video being consumed was short and sweet and entertaining — leaving plenty of room at the table for written content consumption, too.

So, people are watching videos, but they’re also consuming a lot of text content, too. How should publishers and content producers address the diversifying content preferences of audiences?

The Solution

Make great videos and write great articles. In fact, ideally, you should be writing articles and reports, and then incorporating videos and other multimedia elements into them. Give the people what they want — which is written, visual, and audio content.

Think about how your audience wants to learn. According to the survey above, people are more interested in consuming in-depth news information by reading it, whereas they might be more interested in watching shorter, more consumable video content. While a video might be a good fit for briefly explaining a complicated topic, it might not be the best fit for a detailed breakdown of SEO best practices — like in these examples.

If you don’t know the answer to this question, ask your audience. If you’re not sure about your industry or audience’s preferences, ask them. Using an email newsletter or a Twitter poll, ask questions like, “What would you most like us to produce a video about?” or “Do you prefer written or visual explainers?” to figure out where to get started.


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9 Email Marketing Habits It Pays to Break

Before you break any email marketing habits or best practices, it’s important to first understand why they work.

Once you’ve mastered basic email content creation, you’ll be in a better position to experiment and test certain components of your strategy. In today’s ultra-competitive email landscape, you need to perform tests in order to find out what drives your specific recipients to open, read, and click.

While the right content and design are necessary components for email success, running tests will help you understand how to stand out in your readers’ inboxes. And to understand what to test, it’s helpful to revisit your current strategies and consider which email habits might be appropriate to mix up, or break altogether.

In this post, we’ll explore a number of commonly overlooked email habits you should start breaking and experimenting with to find the best strategy for your company.

9 Email Marketing Habits It Pays to Break 1. You Always Use the Same Sender Name

How to Break It: Get Friendly With Your “From” Name

While it’s helpful to set certain expectations with your email recipients, don’t limit yourself to only sending messages from your company name, or from one team member. Experimenting with “friendly froms” can increase open rates. For example, instead of simply sending an email from the name of your company, you might provide an employee’s name, such as “Tim at”

But before you go crazy, always ensure your email activities do not violate the CAN-SPAM act. Your froms should not be false or misleading. However, there are ways your organization can make adjustments that delight your recipients.

Chubbies, a men’s fashion company with over 1.5 million Facebook followers, is well-known for getting creative with their from names. While their approach is very specific to their organization’s tone, style, and audience, you can look to them for inspiration.

One study found that while Chubbies’ messages had slightly lower inbox placement rates, their “fun and unusual friendly forms” saw higher read rates and lower “delete without reading” rates.

Here’s an example of how Chubbies gets creative with the friendly from:

Chubbies also makes sure their fun “friendly” from names go with their subject lines and preview text.

This synchronization allows them to use every space available to them in your inbox to grab your attention and make a lasting impression. Again, before testing strategies like this yourself, consult with a law professional about the CAN-SPAM act to ensure you’re not in violation.

2. You Treat Your Subject Line Too Literally

How to Break It: Write Copy That Visually Stands Out

Consumers are inundated with emails all day long, which means your subject line is the one factor that will get someone to open your message.

Consider the following example:

What stands out? Caps lock text? Numbers? The use of an emoji? Personalization? Humor? White space?

To catch someone’s attention as they scroll through their unread messages, it’s important to consider how your subject line appears next to others visually.

While your subject line text should reflect the contents of your message and match your organization’s tone and style, it’s important to use this space as creatively as possible. Test small tweaks with your audience to see if anything helps grab their attention.

3. Your Preview Text Is Auto-Populated

How to Break It: Use That Hot Preview Text Real Estate

If your email client supports preview text, also known as pre-header text, you can optimize it for every email you send. Allowing this text to auto-populate is a lost opportunity to grab attention or delight your recipients.

Though it takes some code, the use of this space will help you stand out from others who do not go to the same lengths to make theirs unique.

Experiment with clever, related text, like how Chubbies does in the example above, or try using just a few words to create more white space.

In the example below, Crate and Barrel writes preview text that is an extension of their subject line and creates eye-catching white space.

And in the following example, the Skimm uses their preview text to address a previous technical error in a light-hearted manner.

4. Your Copy Is So Professional It’s Boring

How to Break It: Develop a Distinct Tone of Voice

Your organization’s tone of voice can be one of your biggest differentiators. Whether you use a certain style of humor or strive to sound as academic as possible, a well-crafted voice allows readers to connect with your organization on a human-to-human level.

In a time when technological advancement has us fondly looking to the past and remembering more intimate times, businesses can struggle to both scale and maintain the “humanness” of a mom-and pop-shop.

Your tone can help you combat that struggle. The answer is having a personality.

According to one of Chubbies’ four founders, Tom, they thought, “Everything’s a little too serious in men’s fashion.” To stand out and attract people to their brand, he says, “We wrote our emails like we were writing to our friends.”

In a podcast interview by Smart Passive Income, he advised organizations to think about their own brand as a unique person.

“Think about it like a person with a personality. More often than not, that personality is going to be yours—as the business owner, as the person who’s going to be writing or creating this content. Write about the things you care about, write about the things that have an emotional connection with you, and that’s where you’ll start to find kernels. We were not knocking it out of the park every time we wrote but because we were passionate about it, it enabled us to keep testing and keep driving.”

When you approach your communication under this lens, you’re bound to create content that doesn’t just deliver a message, but also forms a connection.

5. Your CTA Is Literal

How to Break It: Get Creative With Button Copy

Every inch of your email is an opportunity and each word should be intentional, especially the areas that ask your readers to take an action.

Here a few favorite examples of ways to get clever and entice your reader to click. Today’s consumer is well aware of the fact that you’re trying to lead them to a desired action. With that in mind, you might experiment with your call to action copy and use each “click here” spot as a chance to delight.

InVision uses witty copy and bright colors to catch the eye and entice their readers to click.

Classy, an online fundraising platform for nonprofits, similarly uses the CTA as an opportunity to be more playful with their copy and create a memorable experience for their blog subscribers.

6. You Keep It Short and Sweet

How to Break It: Experiment With Length

The Skimm’s 6 million email subscribers prove that emails don’t always have to be short and sweet, or highly visual to be successful. While some data points to ideally having relatively short email copy, the Skimm’s emails can get quite long (though they are broken into sections for digestibility). And while they don’t typically include very many visual components, they focus on making one thing very easy for the reader. Sharing.

In this example alone, there are nine opportunities to share the email with a friend or colleague. Which leads us to our next habit:

7. You’re Focused on Content

How to Break It: Consider How Design Feeds Growth

If content is King, design is Queen.

Your content could be strong and interesting, but if your design doesn’t include the ability to easily share your message, you’re holding your content back. According to Bernadette Jiwa, author of Marketing: A Love Story, “Growth hacking is really the practice of creating and leveraging word-of-mouth with intention.”

She continues, “Growth hackers optimize their business to acquire new customers by first delighting one customer and then making it easy for that customer to share the store with friends.”

You work hard to ensure your content delights—don’t send it off to die in the bowels of your clientele’ inboxes. Incorporate tools that give your email the legs it needs to grow.

8. You Use Personas to Make Assumptions

How to Break It: Demonstrate Intimacy

As marketers, we have to make assumptions. We can’t possibly know each of our audience members intimately. While segmentation and building personas is important to delivering relevant content, today’s consumers are expecting you to know more about them than ever.

If you can’t demonstrate intimacy, you’re going to fall short. If marketers aren’t using segmentation by now, they’re at least aware of the tactic and how other organizations benefit from it. While developing personas and lists to send more personalized messages is a step in the right direction, we can take action to further personalize our content and show readers we’re paying attention—and that we’re listening.

Consider what data you might share with your readers to develop a sense of

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Can Artificial Intelligence Write Better Email Subject Lines Than Humans?

For certain types of email subject lines, the answer is …


That might be surprising to marketers.

For a long time, AI has been either an over-hyped set of technologies that didn’t deliver on their promises or it’s been a pie-in-the-sky idea that didn’t translate into real-world applications.

My, how the times have changed.

AI is a term for a group of related, but distinct, technologies. “AI” includes things like machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing — to name a few.

Many AI technologies are still in their infancy. They look good on paper but haven’t reached their potential.

But other AI technologies have advanced rapidly to become game-changers.

It’s this second group that is driving the very real AI explosion we’re seeing today.

Two technologies in particular have driven AI progress: natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG).

NLP is when a machine “reads” text. It turns that text into code a machine system can then interpret. NLG is when a machine uses that code to then generate its own words. Both are AI technologies.

These technologies power Siri and Alexa, ushering in an exciting new age of voice search. In the process, how marketers get found is changing. (In fact, HubSpot is leading the charge for voice search friendly marketing.)

NLG and NLP also power highly accurate Google translations, where you can translate between almost any language. Google has even added this functionality to earbuds that translate speech in foreign languages.

And these technologies are found in AI-powered marketing tools like Acrolinx, which uses NLP to assess your content and recommend improvements.

One other major use case enabled by NLP and NLG is, you guessed it, writing email subject lines.

There are AI tools today that write email subject lines better than people.

Two players in this space are Persado and Phrasee.

Persado has $66 million in funding and offers AI email subject line writing, in addition to automatic social media and language generation for enterprise marketing.

Phrasee, on the other hand, uses AI to write and test email subject lines, email copy and generate email CTAs. You feed it email data and it analyzes the data to learn what works. It generates optimized subject lines that do better than 98% of human ones. And it uses what it learns from your emails to stay consistent with your brand.

In one case study, Phrasee helped Virgin Holidays increase their open rates by 2%. That may not sound like much, but it was worth millions in new revenue. The tool also streamlined a process that used to take weeks; today it takes seconds.

Both tools operate without much human involvement at all.

That’s actually a good thing.

See, humans aren’t that great at writing and split testing emails, social media, headlines, etc. We get too married to creative ideas. We fail to dispassionately pick the best subject lines based on the data. Heck, sometimes we just aren’t great at writing or do split testing wrong.

In this case, AI is better equipped than us at this task. It excels at analyzing vast volumes of data and extracts insights from that data. Phrasee routinely uses 100,000+ emails as a dataset.

So, yeah, often AI can write email subject lines better than humans. And that’s good news for marketers.


Because it makes your marketing better.

Marketers are drowning in data and don’t ever seem to have enough time or budget to maximize performance. Strategically applied AI can automate and augment processes in a significant way. They both improve performance and free you up to do other, higher-value tasks.

In a lot of cases, this is a win-win scenario. Marketers get better results and get to do more of what benefits their brand most. (Which also happens to be the most interesting stuff anyway.)

But this is why marketers need to start seriously experimenting with AI now. You need to begin to understand what tools are out there and what they can do for you.

Because certain marketing AI possibilities are very promising. But if your competitors start using this when you’re not, you could be in deep trouble.

AI in marketing right now has a very “first-mover advantage” to it. Let’s say I start using a tool like Phrasee to write my email subject lines. I improve performance almost immediately. I reinvest hours each week into building better campaigns in every area of our marketing. And I collect more and more data on what subject lines work best, improving performance even more.

It’s a virtuous cycle. A flywheel that spins faster and faster the longer you stick with it.

In other words, the advantages of using AI the right way compound over time. It’s hard to catch competitors with a sizable head start. Someday, that may change. But right now marketing AI is in its infancy. Brands using it possess an outsized advantage over those who don’t.

No matter what type of marketing you do, one thing is clear: you need to start exploring AI’s possibilities. We started the Marketing AI Institute to help. It’s a content hub that provides actionable information on AI for marketers. It features real-world use cases and expert advice from leading companies like HubSpot. We encourage to check it out today.

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The 5 Biggest Social Media Lessons HubSpot Learned in 2017

2017 was a year of experimentation.

We were committed to shifting our entire social media strategy to grow our viewership and audience, while continuing to engage with our audience where, when, and how they wanted.

To successfully do this, we spent the year experimenting with how to best deliver content on all platforms, particularly on Facebook.

We succeeded in some risks and failed in others. It was a hefty undertaking.

Here, we’ve compiled our five biggest social media lessons from 2017. We are hopeful that these lessons will prepare you to successfully shift your own social media strategy (without any of the setbacks).

Social Media Lessons from 2017 The most important factor on Facebook is still your audience. Live or die by the first three seconds. People want to be seen and included. Topical is key. Native is better than non-native. 1. The most important factor on Facebook is still your audience.

Facebook can be intimidating for social media teams, particularly those with smaller budgets. Fortunately, we found money isn’t the biggest factor when it comes to performing well (which is ideal, for both us and our audience).

The biggest factor is your audience, measured through views, view retention, and engagement.

Here’s the deal: Facebook is a discovery model platform. Its primary goal is to make the audience happy. So you’ll only get ROI if you create quality content for your audience.

For example, we put equal money behind a Walking Dead spoof video, and a Berlin city pride video. We had a firm understanding of both target audiences and posted at days and times best suited for them.

Our audience greatly preferred the Walking Dead video, which meant Facebook rewarded this video by expanding our reach and capturing more viewers.

Basically, we got more bang for our buck with this video because our audience liked it, not because we paid for it.

2. Live or die by the first three seconds.

You know how you only have seven seconds to make a good first impression?

It’s even shorter for video.

It’s imperative to engage your audience in the first three seconds of your video, or you’ll lose them. So we focused on telling our entire story in three seconds, and then retelling it with more detail throughout the rest of the video.

The better we became at optimizing the first three seconds, the more our average watch time increased.

3. People just want to be seen and included.

The more our videos dug into a specific, targeted audience, the better they performed. Here’s why: we believe if someone can affirm their identity through a piece of content (like an entrepreneur sees herself in a video about “top 5 traits for entrepreneurs”), then that video is more likely to be shared, commented on, and liked.

People are vocal in communities that strongly correlate to their identities and relate to their passions. Essentially, they want to feel included and seen on content that relates to them.

The “top 5 traits for entrepreneurs” video might alienate a broader audience (those who don’t identify with the qualifier “entrepreneur”), but it encourages an entrepreneur audience to be more vocal: to share their opinions, tag their friends, and share the video on their pages.

And, like we’ve said, audience engagement is key to success.

4. Topical is key.

When something really big, good or bad, is circulating the news outlets, you’ve probably noticed the consequences on your newsfeed: instead of puppy videos and a friend’s engagement pictures, you’ll primarily see content related to that event.

Both Facebook and Facebook viewers are interested in seeing content that is most relevant in that time and place.

It’s important to understand that news, seasons, cultural events, and holidays can have an impact on whether or not your video performs well. When evaluating your video’s performance, keep this in mind.

5. Native is better than non-native.

Although we had our hunches, we wanted to verify whether people actually prefer native content to non-native content.

For a long time, HubSpot’s Facebook page consisted primarily of non-native video content and link posts. We decided to compare one of these non-native video posts with a native video almost identical in content.

We had a clear winner: Facebook as a platform, and Facebook’s audience base, clearly favored native video content. The native video was viewed almost 160x more than the non-native link.

This supported our commitment to a major strategy shift, both in 2017 and in the future.

Big Takeaway for Your Business:

In 2017, we focused primarily on video as our content format, and primarily on Facebook as our platform. We made these decisions strategically: Facebook is where the majority of our audience lives, and videos are well-received by this audience.

For you to find the same level of success, you also need to dig deep to understand where your audience lives, and which content format your audience prefers. It might look different than ours, and it might require you to shift in a different direction than we did.

It might even take you a year’s-worth of trial and error (but hopefully, with these tips, a little less error).

Looking Forward to 2018

Now that we’ve succeeded in producing high-quality native content that engages and grows our audience, we want to do the same thing in 2018: only better, bigger, and more.

Here’s the real bottom line: don’t lose sight of what your numbers actually mean. Getting views, comments, and likes on Facebook isn’t about “winning” at Facebook, it’s about creating strong relationships between your audience and your brand.

And targeting ads, optimizing content, and finding the right community to engage with isn’t just about “spending your money wisely.” It’s also about finding the right leads, where and when they want to be found.

Dig into that, and strive for ceiling-breaking results in 2018.

Good luck!

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How to Bookmark a Tweet

Have you ever seen an article, thread, Tweet, or GIF on Twitter and thought, “I really want to save this for later?”

Until now, the only way to save a Tweet was to like it, copy the link somewhere, or screenshot it.

Now, there’s an easier way.

Twitter just announced a new Bookmarks feature that allows you to save Tweets on Twitter and return to them later.

The Bookmarks feature makes it easier to share Tweets privately. If you see a cool thread and want to share it with a friend but don’t want to tag her in the thread, you can bookmark it and Direct Message it to her (or text, or email).

The Bookmarks feature is rolling out on your Twitter for iOS, Android app, or, but is not available for desktop.

The Bookmarks feature is incredibly simple to use. Here are the three steps you need to know to use Twitter’s Bookmarks feature.

How to Use Twitter’s Bookmarks Feature From a Tweet, tap the share icon. Select “Add Tweet to Bookmarks” (you then have option to “view” Bookmarked Tweet). To view your bookmarked Tweets, tap “Bookmarks” from your profile icon menu. 1. Find a Tweet you want to bookmark.

  2. Click the share icon.

  3. Select “Add Tweet to Bookmarks.”

  4. To see all your bookmarks, click your profile icon to access the menu and select “Bookmarks.”

If you want to remove Tweets from your Bookmarks, just open your Bookmarks tab, click the share icon on the Tweet you want to remove, and select “remove Tweet from Bookmarks.”

And that’s it! You’re all set to try Bookmarks for yourself. Save your favorite threads, your favorite Tweets, and even your favorite HubSpot blog posts.

You know, just an idea.

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