Webinar Information and Backstory
Hubspot had their "Inbound marketing" webinar last week where they tried to break their world record for the largest viewer base during a single webinar that they had set the previous year with their Science of Social Media webinar. Unfortunately they fell short slightly however they raked in over 20,000 tweets in the span of an hour, a pretty impressive statistic in itself. So falling short by Hubspot's standards seems to be equivalent to overwhelming success by anyone else's standards.
This Webinar was done as sort of a prequel and amp-up for Hubspot's Inbound 2012 Conference. Inbound 2012 is a 3 day long conference with over 2,000 attendees, 6 keynotes, hands on product demos for the "Hubspot All-in-One Marketing Tool" which is basically Hubspot's flagship SEO, Social Media and general Inbound marketing software (it's seriously good).
The Mad Scientist
Regardless of all the world record breaking mumbo jumbo and hype train there was an explosion of information running out from the key presenter's overwhelming amount of research data. Dan Zarrella, the mad scientist at Hubspot led the webinar with an almost whip lash ensuing amount of data.
Dan is author of "The Social Media Marketing Book" and is an award winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist. If you were listening in on this webinar you would also know that he spins off ninja analytics data so fast that it could make even the best copywriter's fingertips bleed just trying to keep up!
Data and Takeaways (and how to use them!)
Dan went highly in depth over a number of topics including general SEO points, Social Media, Email and Conversion Rate Optimization all of which he provided a substantial amount of data for. Sadly i'll admit that I was not fast enough to catch all of the data, but I was fast enough to jot down my favorite key points that I think are very interesting and can potentially yield very high results if coupled with the right actions in a campaign.
SEO Data and Takeaways
So first and foremost I am going to get into the SEO side of things, mainly because I am primarily an SEO myself.
- 90% of users said that they believe organic listings are more trustworthy than PPC ads
The overall message of this statistic that organic SERP listings are trusted more than PPC listings is pretty common knowledge at this point however it is not common knowledge of to what extent. 90% is a massive margin, those who think they can throw money at PPC ads and have a better outcome than having a good content strategy to get position in the SERP's organically are just wrong. I do not recommend NOT doing PPC however, just don't pidgin hole your business into paid traffic, so then if the lights go out on your money stream you will still have a strong SEO foundation from where you will be getting steady search traffic. PPC is honestly great, it has a 90% higher conversion rate per click through than SEO does in fact (usually because it is a direct product that is being searched for, where Google would rather show good information on the given search term and most don't have their high content product descriptions to be shown organically). Message being, get a strong SEO foundation before you decide to start a massive PPC campaign.
- nearly 50% of users choose which link to click in the SERPs based on the listing's META DESCRIPTION, 30% choose via title tag and 20% choose via urls
This is a crucial point of data that can easily be under utilized for those of us who take Google's algorithm changes to literally and don't take into account the CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) that needs to perfectly counterbalance all SEO efforts. In a recent algorithm update Google took out meta descriptions as a ranking factor for their SERP's, meaning mentioning your keyword 4-5 times in a 150 character description no longer increases your page's relevance. This change was honestly heavily needed, this ranking factor led to a large amount of obnoxious spamming of keywords in what should be a descriptive summary of the page.
After this change was put in place many people just stopped caring about their meta descriptions, thinking it did not directly help them in the rankings. While it is true it does not help the rankings of a page it is obviously proved with this data that a well done meta description with a clear point and call to action will drive more traffic than any other on page element in the SERPs. Besides, what is the point of getting to the top of the page if your descriptions are shot and they don't convert?
- 60% of users said they don't click the top link immediately in SERP's, instead they scan to gain trust signals from the first page listings
This ties greatly into the above explanation of why there is a major importance for quality meta descriptions. ~90% of users choose a listing from the first page of the SERP's, 60% of which don't click the top link immediately, instead scan to find trust signals, and 50% of the users choose which link to click depending upon which one has the best meta description.
That being said if you have any wonders on what you should do to optimize your meta descriptions a few key points I would give would be to, A) cap off or shorten any descriptions you have to 150 characters or less, this is the max shown in Google SERPs. B) some modern CMS's such as Shopify and Wordpress (my personal favorites) have tools that can auto generate meta descriptions from on page content (like a product description) that then cap the descriptions character count at 150 so that there are no overages (makes your listing look far more clean in the SERP). C) use your brand in your descriptions, this is something that gets very overlooked but it creates a massive trust signal for new unique visitors and repeat visitors that are searching for a certain product by name etc.
*SEO Takeaways: Put more emphasis into writing clear and concise meta descriptions, A/B test their conversion rates with different wording and call to actions.
Social Media Data and Takeaways
It should also be mentioned (as I should have in the introduction) that this webinar was also co-presented by Hootsuite an incredible Social Media Management service platform where you can set up and monitor all of your client's social media profiles, set up scheduled post times for peek hours of engagement, see recurring trends and analytics over your accounts and their engagements etc (this tool is just brain-deadly necessary for an Social Media marketer). That being said with Hootsuite's help Dan was able to uncover a massive amount of data concerning Social Media influence.
- updates that contained photos had 80% more shares and likes than posts with plain text - updates that contained videos had 60% more shares and likes than posts with plain text
From these two statistics you can see that people want to see visual content, there is no reason not to take a few seconds to find a unique piece of visual content to go along with any point or question you are posting via text. Image content that goes along with these posts should be easily digestible such as memes, e-cards etc. Each share counts just as much as an individual link for whatever content you post, except it is a link that is directly presented to anyone who is subscribed or friends with the person who shares said link. Long and short of it is, you want shares. Users couldn't be bothered to share or repost plain text updates, however throw an interesting, funny or just generally awesome visual along with it and you will have up to an 80% better chance to get higher more shares.
Just as an example of how effective this is I decided to pop over to my personal Facebook account and find the first good example that I saw, immediately I saw this update from Top Gear's page. The text just says a small description of a gallery that they posted on their site with a call to action encouraging people to engage in the content posted. Seems bleak right? However throw an image featuring a couple of Bugatti Veyrons and a Koenigsegg on to that call to action and voila, the result is 1,161 shares and 8,730 likes just 21 minutes after posting!
(fun fact, I shared and liked this picture and checked out the rest of the gallery after writing this )
- content posted between 5-6 pm on weekends had the highest share and like rate
This fact can be pretty face-palm inducing as it is so simple that it seems everyone should know it, yet most don't know it and even more don't ACT USING IT! With tools like Hootsuite, Tweetbot etc. you can set up the times you want your content to publish, so even if you write your content during the day you can set it up to publish during this peek engagement time. This can have a steady increase in engagement by adjusting your post times a bit, not saying that all content should be posted during these times yet that you should prioritize your content to maximize it's exposure to these peek engagement times.
The most important thing to take away from this is on the viral marketing side of things, if you are creating content that is meant to go viral or has been planned to be a viral attempt from the beginning schedule it to all go active and be promoted via all social platforms at this time. Engagement tends to have a rapid increase in traffic from somewhere around 15% from 2-3pm and to rapidly increase from 4-7pm to somewhere around 60% or higher.
An example I would love to show would be one that I saw get promoted on my Facebook stream a couple weeks ago at around 4pm, Ken Block's Gymkhana Five. Ken Block's Gymkhana videos are classic viral content marketing and within 24 hours of posting this video on Youtube and promoting it on Facebook and Social Media the video had raked in over 5,000,000 views.
(I hope I am not creating a car related theme in this post, sorry to any non automotive or extreme sports fans!)
*Takeaways: spice up your social sharing with a bit of easily obtainable and easily digestible content, and for the content that you take major time on give it all of the chances it can get to go viral
- spike in reading and interactions after 5-6 pm on weekdays - highest spike in engagement and interaction (favorites, retweets, replies) on the weekend
These statistics sort of fall under the same principles discussed under the Facebook section above, adjust your schedule to have the maximum exposure possible for your highest prioritized content. Save viral for the weekend or (preferably) around 5-6pm on Friday nights.
Blogging Data and Takeaways
Blogging has been around for a good while now and most people don't take advantage of the potentially massive benefits it can yield for their businesses. Some of these statistics that Dan gave in this webinar gave some clear and obvious selling points to get your clients to set up a blog with a solid content strategy.
- 80% of users read at least one or more blog posts a day - most readers read early in the morning 9-11am - blogs that had the highest views were posting 1 post per day (30 p/month)
These engagement statistics are very useful under the same principle as the social interaction hot spots mentioned above. 80% of users are reading at least one blog post or more per day, most scan through their RSS feed readers to find something that interests them before reading. This in itself is a high selling point for businesses, if you have a blog you have an 80% higher potential chance of getting exposure from your fresh content.
Most readers read early in the morning 9-11am, this gives a useful time schedule to take into account. Potentially post your content in the morning at around 8am, then promote it via social media platforms around lunch then again at around 5-7pm. Blogs that post ~30 posts per month tend to have the highest viewer count, this is usually because the blog is very active, there is constantly new quality content and will usually be checked up on the most by users or subscribers.
- 70% of buyers of e-commerce stores said that they were usually directly influenced via blog posts - e-commerce stores that had a well managed blog had an ~80% higher search traffic
These metrics are just insane, this made it pretty obvious that any e-commerce store needs a good blog with a well developed content strategy in place. 70% of buyers of e-commerce stores said that they were directly influenced via blog posts, this brings up a complete rethink of product page layouts. If there is a 70% better chance that users will buy your product if they have an in depth and factual blog post to use as reference, why not have that on your site and in your content strategy? With this metric good product descriptions just don't become enough anymore.
Bolster your product pages with a "related blog posts" link box in a prominent location (perhaps directly under your product description) that links to a blog post written directly about the product listed. A frequently refreshed and interactive blog will increase your rankings in the SERPs dramatically as well. I would always recommend to have your blog hosted internally, either as "blog.domain.com" or "www.domain.com/blog/" I prefer the latter.
*Takeaways: set up an internally hosted blog (not under another domain name), set up a content strategy that works well with your business type and be active in creating fresh content.
- I will probably be doing a more in depth blog post on this very soon! :]
Email Data and Takeaways
Email is something that genuinely interests me, there are so many inbound strategies that tie into email and as a standalone it has one of the highest conversion rates of any inbound marketing method. A tool that I majorly recommend to any email marketer is Mailchimp which helps design newsletters, set up scheduled sending times etc. and is very affordable. Well worth the money.
- use personal contact names in subject lines and opening words - use company name personalization in subject lines and opening words
These two are very smart and very under-utilized. Create an automation to where any emails sent automatically use the contact's name in the subject line before what content you are trying to outreach for. In example if John has a Trek Bikes membership and Trek wanted to send out a product update newsletter Trek should set up the subject line to look similar to "Hey John! Check out our new Mountain Biking Gear sales!". Use the same approach if contacting B2B, using personalized contact information increases click through rates exponentially.
- emails sent on saturday and sunday have a much higher click through rate - emails sent at 6-9 am have the highest click through rate
The general feel behind this is that most emails are sent during business hours from 10am-5pm, this is when people's inboxes are clogged with business emails, junk mail etc. This is when people don't care about promotions or content, they are focused on their work and don't want to see promotions pop up in their inbox, it usually ends up with potential customers instantly deleting your mail. Instead aim to where the user is at a lull, from 6-9am people are just getting in to work or checking their mail before they start their workday. This is the time when people will most likely go through and carefully check each piece of mail that they receive. This is the time you want them to see your mail, so they will engage. It's all about the psychology, which is basically what marketing is in general.
As well as from 6-9am weekdays, the weekend has a major swing upwards in engagement and click-throughs. During the week user's inboxes are always so crammed with mail and junk mail that some things just fall by the waste side. However during the weekend there is less mail to go through, so this is a time where users take their time on the mail they get. As well as taking the time on the mail they get, this is also the time that people go shopping! If you have any physical locations for commerce that coincide with your e-commerce specials this is the time to throw those in your newsletters and send! People will see your emails and either shop online or go straight to your location with their email on their smartphone.
An example I would say for this (because they get me every single time) is Express, they always have awesome email newsletters with massive promotional sales. They catch me when I am free or when I may be near a mall and I usually end up strolling in and buying some awesome clothing.
- emails with subject lines containing brackets [ ] instead of parenthesis ( ) have a higher click through rate - email subject lines that have to be truncated and contain ampersands "&" instead of written out "and" have a higher CTR (subconsciously feel that there was so much important content that you could not fit it all using written words.. again, psychology)
These are small tweaks but they are tweaks to consider, changing your parenthesis to brackets is a small change and one that will help click throughs. Truncated subject lines (meaning they are cut off and have the … after the last word) usually have a higher click through because people get excited seeing that there was so much content that some could not fit in the subject line, usually users will click on this just to see what the rest of the subject says and if your newsletter is pretty they will probably stay to see the rest.
*Takeaways: schedule your email times carefully for your audience, use contact names in your subject line for personal trust values, get a good newsletter template / design.
Conversion Rate Optimization Data and Takeaways
Last but certainly not least, Conversion rate optimization. CRO is probably one of my favorite things that I get to do, I love how minor edits to text / call to actions can dramatically increase revenue and user retention. EVERY SEO or Inbound marketer should be aware of your conversion funnel and how to improve upon it.
(for an even deeper dive into CRO I would heavily recommend taking a gander at this CRO SEOmoz blog post by Stephen from Conversion Factory titled, "The Definitive How-To Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization"
- call to action buttons that had a default text of "submit" had an 80% lower click through rate than buttons with a specific purposeful call to action (people felt disdain to click on the "submit" button because it had a negative connotation, users felt more comfortable clicking a button that had a direct purpose such as "sign up") - call to action buttons that had an orange and or red hue to them had a 30-40% higher CTR, this was tested over more than 1000 sites that all varied in color, all turned out to be true to at least a 30% margin some far higher than others.
With just these two small changes to a call to action button you can yield a 110% increase in click throughs. I wouldn't recommend making any changes without A/B testing through analytics (TEST EVERYTHING) however you should definitely be trying some tweaks out.
- pages that contained forms that had a large text box instead of a smaller text box had a 30% higher bounce rate (felt obligated to write more in which case was too high of a barrier to entry)
- landing pages that contain the words "free" have the highest conversion rate (signup submission call to action that contains the word "free" in the tagline will have the highest conversion rates)
- asking for an address in a submission form creates more than a 70% bounce rate, forms that do not contain an address field have a 90% higher completion rate (people don't want to feel obligated to give away that personal of information, if you need a local understanding for some sort of store locator etc. only ask for a postal code)
Landing pages shouldn't be sales pages, they should be conversion pages for submissions. Free signup for mail letter, some sort of free item or discount in the banner, things like this will drive higher conversions. Instead of saying "buy this now for only $20" say "Subscribe to our e-mail list and get 30% off your next order!" (which would still equal out to the same price) Conversion rate for call to actions almost all fall to the psychological effect of how you are trying to push your product, people don't want to be rushed or pushed to buy.
*Takeaways: simplify your call to actions, use relevant text to describe what your call to action button will do (i.e. sign up, subscribe etc.) and A/B test everything!
These are the main points I took away from Hubspot's Inbound Marketing Webinar, if you have any other things that you would add that I missed or things that stood out to you please post them below!