Ahmad Imam, Ambassador at Success Resources | International Speaker & Influencer

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Ahmad Imam is an edutainer, sales extraordinaire, LinkedIn personality and speaker. He empowers progressive professionals to create a strong and intentional brand with knock-out content. So they can reach more people and build stronger relationships which drive revenue and growth.

Having been involved in over $1B worth of sales transactions over a 15-year career, Ahmad is a savvy negotiator. He grew his 100,000+ LinkedIn audience in just 15 months and regularly shares with them his secrets to gaining greater confidence, maintaining focus and getting what you want.

A video trailblazer, Ahmad’s charismatic personality has seen many of his posts go viral, and he averages 2 million views on his content per month. His ‘The Most Epic Music Video in LinkedIn History’ was featured in online articles from Forbes and Inc.

In 2019 he educated more than 500 people on the value of using LinkedIn for personal branding and building your authority. He aims to double that number in 2020.

Ahmad is also a brand ambassador and partners with companies that align with his core values of kindness, integrity, optimism and growth. A proud father and husband, his family are his greatest inspiration. One he uses to help others achieve their maximum potential.

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The Success Story podcast is focused on speaking to incredible people who have achieved success through trials, tribulations, wins and losses. In each episode we sit down with leaders and mentors.  We document their life, career and stories to help pass those lessons onto others through insights, experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

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77 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2020

Social media is everywhere. For many people, social media is used daily for entertainment, socialization, and even news consumption — myself included.

Additionally, over the last two decades, it has risen as one of the primary marketing channels.

With over 40% of the world’s population on social media, it’s critical your business devise an effective social media strategy to reach your intended audience.

But whether you’re pitching a social media campaign to your boss or deciding which social media platform your business should put paid advertising behind, it’s vital you use data to support your efforts.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of essential social media stats to ensure you know where to focus your marketing efforts in 2020 to get the highest ROI.

Download Now: State of Marketing in 2020 Report

Social Media Marketing Statistics/Data 2020

  • Nearly 50% of the world’s population uses social media. That’s over 3 billion users worldwide. (Statista)
  • In 2019, 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers were active social media users. (Emarketer)
  • 54% of social browsers use social media to research products. (GlobalWebIndex)
  • Each person spends an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes on social networks and messaging. (Globalwebindex)
  • 321 million new people joined social media in 2019, which brought the total from 3.48 billion to 3.8 billion social media users (an increase of 9%) in 2020. (Hootsuite)
  • Millennials are logged on to social media for an average of two hours and 38 minutes daily while Gen Z logs on for two hours and 55 minutes. (World Economic Forum)

Facebook Statistics

  • Facebook usage among teens is dropping gradually according to the latest social media statistics. While 71% of teens claimed to use the platform in 2015, the number has now dropped to 51%. (Pew Research Center)
  • 68% of Americans use Facebook. (Pew Research Center)
  • 74% of Facebook users check it daily. (Pew Research Center)
  • Most people access Facebook around eight times each day. (SmartInsights)
  • 96% of Facebook users access it on mobile. (Statista)
  • If your Facebook ads contain images, then they will be between 75% and 90% more effective. (Consumer Acquisition)
  • 93% of social media advertisers use Facebook ads on a regular basis. (Social Media Examiner)
  • At least 3% of Facebook profiles are fake. (Facebook)
  • The best time to post on Facebook is weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday is the best day to post while Sundays show the least traffic. (Sprout Social)
  • .6% of marketers use Facebook video ads. (Buffer)
  • Facebook Stories has 500 million daily viewers. (TechCrunch)
  • With 36% of viewers watching political Story content, politics is the top-Facebook Stories topic. (Statista)
  • Video promotions are equally as important as photo promotions. (Social Bakers)
  • 81% of businesses prefer video marketing on Facebook. (Buffer)

For more stats related to Facebook, Facebook Stories, and Facebook Ads, check out this detailed list.

Twitter Statistics

  • Twitter has more than 330 million monthly active users. (Statista)
  • In Q3 of 2019, Twitter had more than 145 million monetizable daily active users — a 17% YoY growth. (Twitter)
  • Twitter’s 2019 Q3 revenue was $824 million, or 9% higher than Q3 in 2018. (Twitter)
  • 22% of adults in the U.S. use Twitter, down from 24% in 2018. (Statista)
  • Link clicks account for 92% of all user interaction with tweets. (HubSpot)
  • 83% of the people who sent a Tweet to a company and received a response, felt better about the company and were more likely to do business with them. (Twitter)
  • Only 3% of Tweets about customer service issues call out the company’s username with the @ symbol. (Marketing Land)
  • People are 31% more likely to recall what they saw on Twitter vs. general online browsing. (Twitter)
  • 53% of users say they bought a product they first saw on Twitter. (WebFX)
  • Twitter ads are 11% more effective than TV ads during live events. (Twitter)
  • The best times to post on Twitter are Wednesdays at 9am and Fridays at 9am. The best days to post are Tuesday and Wednesday, while Saturday sees the least engagement. (Sprout Social)

For more on Twitter, check out Twitter Marketing in 2020: The Ultimate Guide.

Instagram Statistics

  • As of late 2019, Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users, and 500 million of them use it daily. (Statista)
  • Instagram continues to attract a younger audience with 72% of teens saying that they use the platform. (Sprout Social)
  • 64% of Instagram users are under the age of 34. (Statista)

Statistic: Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of April 2020, by age and gender | Statista

  • Ad spending on Instagram is 23% higher than on Facebook according to an internal analysis by Merkle. (DigiDay)
  • Videos get 21.2% more interactions compared to images and 18.6% more interactions compared to carousels. (Sprout Social)
  • 71% of US businesses use Instagram. It surpassed Twitter in business users in 2017. (eMarketer)
  • The best times to post on Instagram are Wednesday at 11am and Friday from 10-11am. Wednesday is the overall best day to post while Sunday sees the least amount of engagement. (Sprout Social)
  • Between 2016 and 2020, eMarketer estimates Instagram added 26.9 million users — almost double the incremental users expected for Twitter, and far more than any other social platform tracked. (eMarketer)


  • In 2019, an estimated 25% of Facebook’s total ad revenue came from Instagram. By the end of 2020, Instagram’s share of that revenue will grow to 30% globally. (Recode)

For more Instagram stats, click here.

LinkedIn Statistics

  • LinkedIn has more than 690 million active users. (LinkedIn)
  • In Q1 of 2020, LinkedIn sessions increased 22 percent year-over-year. (LinkedIn)
  • In Q2 of 2020, LinkedIn revenue increased 21 percent year-over-year (LinkedIn)
  • In 2019, LinkedIn made more than 6.8 billion in revenue. (LinkedIn)
  • Marketing Solutions is LinkedIn’s fastest-growing segment. It grew 44 percent year-over-year in Q1. (LinkedIn)
  • LinkedIn received 30 billion sessions from its members in 2019. This was a year-over-year increase of 27 percent. (LinkedIn)
  • In 2019, LinkedIn was voted the most trusted network. (Business Insider)
  • 80% of social media B2B leads come from LinkedIn. (LinkedIn)
  • Over 46% of all social media traffic to company websites comes from LinkedIn. (LinkedIn)
  • The best times to post on LinkedIn are Wednesdays from 9-10 a.m. and 12 p.m. The best day for posting is Wednesday and the day with the least engagement is Sunday. (Sprout Social)

Want to learn how to up your marketing game on LinkedIn? This post walks you through the ins and outs of using LinkedIn for business.

YouTube Statistics

  • YouTube is the second-largest search engine globally. (HubSpot)
  • YouTube is the preferred form of social media marketing worldwide. 83% of all consumers prefer it. (Hubspot)
  • 54% of all people want marketers to put out more video content, and this is an excellent place to begin. (Hubspot)
  • Most of YouTube’s user base is male. The ratio is 55% men to 45% women. (Journalism.org)
  • On mobile devices alone, YouTube reaches more adults aged 18 to 49 during prime time than any cable network does in an average week. (Think With Google)
  • 75% of adults report watching YouTube on their mobile devices. (Think With Google)
  • More than 70% of YouTube watch time is generated from mobile devices. (YouTube)
  • 96% of all teens in the United States use YouTube. (Forrester)

TikTok Stats

  • According to a leaked advertising pitch deck from October 2019, TikTok reports having 800 million monthly active users worldwide. (AdAge)
  • Douyin, TikTok’s original standalone app in China, had 300 million users at the time Musical.ly merged with TikTok. (The Verge)
  • In early 2019, TikTok was the third-most downloaded app globally. (Business of Apps)
  • By February 2019, TikTok hit 1 billion downloads, beating Instagram and Facebook in app stores. (Business Insider)
  • Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34 with 26% between 18 and 24. (MarketingCharts)
  • Just over one in eight adults have joined TikTok. (MarketingCharts)
  • 56% of TikTok users are male. (AppApeLab)

For more on TikTok, check out this blog post on its growth and popularity.

Reddit Stats

  • Between 2017 and 2019 Reddit grew from 330 million monthly active users to 430 million. (Reddit)
  • The site receives more than 21 billion monthly screen views. (Reddit)
  • While Reddit was reportedly sold for between $10-$20 million, the company’s valuation grew to 1.8 billion after 2017 funding rounds. (CNBC)
  • Reddit is predominantly male. 15% of male internet users between 18 to 29 say they use Reddit. (Pew Research Center)
  • Only 10% of female internet users under 50 say they use Reddit. (Pew Research Center)

Want to determine if Reddit is right for you? Read this blog post for 27 more Reddit stats.

Social Media Consulting Services 

Many businesses hire external social media consulting agencies to manage their voice and reputation online. Alternatively, some businesses create roles in-house for a social media consultant — this is someone who is responsible for increasing brand awareness, responding to customer service complaints across social media platforms, and engaging with your audience online.

Whether you’re considering hiring an external social media consulting service or creating a role in-house, take a look at these trends that demonstrate the importance of social media consulting:

  • 71% of consumers who’ve had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. (Ambassador)
  • 80% of companies online are under the impression that they deliver exceptional social media customer service, while only 8% of their customers say they agree. (Smart Insights)
  • 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business. (Buffer)
  • Social networks are the biggest source of inspiration for consumer purchases with 37% of consumers finding purchase inspiration through the channel. (PWC)
  • Social media is the most relevant advertising channel for 50% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials. (Adobe)
  • 50% of consumers say that seeing user-generated content would increase their chances of buying products through a brand’s social media. (Curalate)

Social Media Consulting Proposal 

All these stats have given you the data you need to work with — now it’s time to put your knowledge to use and create your own social media consulting proposal.

If you’re a social media consultant and you’re pitching a branding, marketing, or advertising campaign to a client, it’s critical you’re able to show how you’ll help your client grow their business.

Here are six steps you’ll need to take to ensure your social media consulting proposal or business plan is effective:

  1. Set clear goals. Figure out exactly where your company or client wants to go as far as their business and social media numbers. The clearer and more detailed the vision, the better. Follow SMART Goal guidelines to ensure that you’re on the right track.
  2. Understand your customers. Know who your target demographics are, because these are the people you’re trying to reach and engage. Gather your own social media statistics and use existing data your company or client might already have to figure out who’s interacting with the business and who might be good future prospects to reach. After you’ve done your research, you can create useful character personas to help you better understand and categorize customers.
  3. Understand your competition. Those “similar-but-different” companies are going to be out there. And, as with most aspects of the business world, the better you know them, the better you can know how to have a leg up on them. You can conduct this research at the same time you’re researching your customers, because chances are they’re interacting with competitors as well. Once you’ve gathered the data on your competitors, one of the most effective ways to use it is to figure out where there might be voids in their services that your business can fill.
  4. Be familiar with any existing social media presence. If you’re hired to run a company’s social media accounts, it’s critical you know about any previous social media postings, accounts, and experiments. By understanding what your client has already tried, you’re better equipped to take them where they need to go in the future.
  5. Don’t forget to pull your data. Before your new implemented strategies go underway, it’s important to collect a baseline of how it was before, so that you have something to measure against in the future. For example, if you take inventory of how many views you’re getting on Instagram Stories before the new strategy is in effect, you can see if the new ideas are improving these numbers or not. It’s important to keep a close eye on what is affecting your growth (positively or negatively) so that you know when you’re on the right track or when you need to try something new so your business can keep growing.
  6. Develop your strategy based on your findings. Define what your content will be, what platforms it will be distributed on, and how it will vary between platforms. Figure out smaller details at this stage too, like your client’s tone and voice on social media (either what it currently is or what it should be), along with design and style elements. Always be sure you’re staying true to your company or client’s brand by consulting with existing materials like mission statements, guides, or brand books.

Finally, take a look at HubSpot’s free Marketing proposal template (useful for both PDF & Word) to get you started creating a comprehensive social media consulting proposal.

Let data drive your social strategy.

Social media marketing statistics can show you the state of the business world today, where it might be going, and how you can ensure your business is continuously meeting customers where they want to be met. Use these statistics to your advantage to help you understand what you need to do to effectively use social media for your business today.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in August 2019, but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in May 2020. 

Guest Post

By Emily Coates

Emily graduated from the University of Missouri with an English degree in 2014. Since then, she has traveled to Japan to teach English abroad and returned to school to receive a master’s certification in Secondary Education. She currently resides in Chicago with her lovely wife, and continues to write.

The High Road

be successful and to triumph, collaboration is required. If we hope to invoke change, if we hope to inspire we need to respect the other side of the fence and adopt the ability to see the world through different lenses

No one will ever have the full story, the complete view.

Collaboration is founded on a bedrock of respect.

John Baldoni writes in Grace: A Leader’s Guide to A Better Us,

“Our culture has become more coarsened. The rancor in our political system, fueled as it is by people who do not want to listen to one another, paralyzes so much of our public discourse.”

Every single story you read, TV broadcast you consume, tweet you skim is hindered by biases.

We need to understand the world and our reality is not binary.

Personal biases, political affiliations, anger, stress, anxiety, passion, sadness, memories, experiences and insights, each drastically influencing how we interpret the world and make decisions.

Ziad Abdelnour wrote in Start-Up Saboteurs: How Incompetence, Ego, and Small Thinking Prevent True Wealth Creationm.

Listening is the single most important life skill in professional and personal relationships. Ernest Hemingway said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” It’s sad but true: Most people have their own agenda and are too busy talking (or waiting to talk) to listen to you attentively. If you, unlike most people, can truly listen with empathy, then people will like you — and eventually help you get what you want.

When we incorrectly assume that we know all facts and have a handle on all things, we immediately focus on the “other” as antagonists in our own story. We disable dialogue and put up walls that defy, logic, reason and understanding in hopes of maintaining a fact-defying us vs. them dichotomy.

Instead of assuming that the other is an assault on us, start to ask the question why.

Why have they taken that stance?

Why have they done that?

Why have they said that?

Why do they believe that?

Why did that come to that conclusion and make that choice?

When approaching these conflicts, turned conversations adopt the strategy of assuming positive intent.

As Julie Peterson outlines in The Trust Factor,

As you discuss the possible reasons with a mind-set of assuming
positive intent, you open up the conversation for real solutions because you
allow individuals to address the circumstances without having to defend
themselves. Their energy is no longer spent on defense and survival.

We must assume that others are motivated by positive intentions. As former CEO and Chairman of Aetna Ron Williams advocates, positive intent. He writes in Learning to Lead that assuming positive intent is an…

“empowering strategy that disarms defensiveness and turns potential enemies into allies. If there’s something that will make you feel really good to say — something you are itching to say — don’t say it. Blowing up in the face of provocation is a way of losing power, not of claiming it.”

In the heat of the moment, assume we have to remember that assuming positive intent is not the defacto response to conflict.

We are not wired to see the positive and to avoid conflict. We are wired to focus on the negative, dive head first into conflict and incorporate all of those biases (personal biases, political affiliations, anger, stress, anxiety, passion, sadness, memories, experiences and insights), in our biological response to conflict derived from a fight or flight response.

We have to circumvent our biological drivers to use the positive intent strategy, start difficult conversations and ultimately drive collaboration.

The ability to start conversations with positive intent allows us to uncover misunderstandings and miscommunications and start interactions with empathy and thoughtfulness. Although not every person adopts positive intent, we must focus on how we react to situations, not how they react.

Although this is easier said than done, as we can all agree it’s easier to give respect when respect is received and it’s harder to give it when it’s not. This response requires us to exercise that thoughtfulness and empathy in a way that circumvents our innate response.

We take the high road.

Craig E. Runde, the Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics at Eckerd College puts it simply in Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader.

When people take the high road by using constructive responses, conflicts often take on the problem-solving qualities associated with task conflict. Creativity is enhanced, and decision-making quality is improved. Participants become more committed to implementing solutions because they have been involved and engaged in resolving issues. In addition, relationships and morale are improved when people collaborate effectively. Negative emotions recede, and positive ones take their place.

We always are taught to take the high road, however the actual action items required to follow this path are usually lost on us.

Let’s understand that the high road is to assume positive intent.

The high road is to fight innate reactions and resort to an us vs. them dichotomies.

The high road is empathy, awareness and understanding.

The high road is collaboration and communication.

The high road is what we need.

That’s true leadership.

Jim Bostwick, Lawfirm Partner | Landmark Case Winning Lawyer & Author

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James Bostwick is one of the most respected medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers in the nation. As Founder of Bostwick & Peterson, he’s cultivated a reputation as a top-tier specialist in catastrophic malpractice cases and has secured numerous record-setting verdicts and settlements.

Nationally recognized Bostwick specializes in complex medical malpractice, birth injury, and catastrophic or wrongful death claims and achieved the largest ever personal injury malpractice verdict in the United States. 

As a voracious reader of legal fiction, he always loved stories about criminal trials, but was struck by how seldom anyone wrote about the other cases that fill the courtrooms of America. 

Civil cases can have potentially devastating economic consequences for everyone involved. His vast experience provides a glimpse into this world of hard working and risk-taking lawyers that are far more driven by the needs of their clients than the potential rewards. 

James Career & book was inspired by a real San Francisco trial. In 1984, Bostwick was pushed to the brink of economic disaster when he sued the most famous trial lawyer in America for legal malpractice. He ultimately obtained a record verdict of $21 million on which his book ‘Acts of Omission’ is based.


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Stories worth telling.

On the Success Story podcast, Scott has candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights. 

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.


Website: www.scottdclary.com

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The 99/1 Rule

The single biggest hurdle anyone can have today, is an overexposure to options. The food we eat, the things we buy, the tasks we take on.

The most important skillset a person OR a business can focus on in terms of efficacy and effectiveness is the ability to prioritize. With endless amounts of things to do and endless of ways to do it, both the individual or the business can get lost in “doing”, and never see the results or outcomes.

Everyone can come up with a good idea.

Everyone can execute on a good idea.

The problem is that a successful life, or a successful business is not contingent on the execution of one good idea.

It is contingent on the execution of multiple good ideas.

Let’s understand this through the 80/20 rule.

80% of the outcomes is generated by 20% of the action… but let’s take it a step further.

Let’s adopt a 99/1 rule.

Generate an absurd amount of great ideas and focus on prioritizing the 1% that have the highest impact.

When that task is completed, move onto the next 1% task.

Execute this with ruthless disregard for the 99%, except the ones that keep the business afloat, or the things you have to do in your day.

This is what differentiates someone who can 10x their business/life/passion/hobby from someone that drifts about life & business in prolonged ambiguity and inconclusiveness.

8 Manipulative Negotiation Tactics and How To Navigate Them

A negotiation tactic, as compared to a negotiation strategy, is a single maneuver to be employed in the heat of battle; a move, countermove or adjustment employed as you work to gain the best possible outcome at any given moment. Tactics may also be used manipulatively by another party, to move you from a position of safety to a place where you are more vulnerable to attack. As a negotiator, you must be prepared for such tactics at every turn.

Most tactics fall into one of five basic categories: Pressure, Delaying, Manipulative, Power (One-Up) and Collaborative. We will discuss some commonly used tactics, and how to identify and neutralize them to keep the negotiation on the principled track.


1. Deadlines pressure both parties in a negotiation to make choices and are used to create movement. Deadlines may be artificial or real. They can be external deadlines imposed by the other party or internal deadlines within your own organization. “If I don’t get your order by Friday, I can’t guarantee the delivery you need.”

– To neutralize the Deadline, test it. Ask questions to see how real and how firm it is. The person setting the deadline is counting on the fact that it’s human nature to believe deadlines are real. It is in your best interest to be skeptical. If you decide that the deadline is real, determine where it comes from, whether an extension is possible, and what the consequences would be of missing the deadline.

2. Competition is another powerful pressure tactic. When people are clamoring for the other party’s product, they can charge a more competitive price. When people are clamoring to sell to you, you can generally pay a lower price. The other party can “create” competition by saying, “We’ll have to send this out for bids.” They can also create a sense of competition by talking about previous orders with other companies or about what someone else is doing. “I like your product, but Acme down the street sells almost the same thing for $100 less. Can you match that?”

– To neutralize this tactic, ask questions to find out as much information as possible about what the competition is offering. Is the product the same? Is it of the same quality? What are the payment terms? Are they adding more charges for delivery or packaging?


3. The Limited Authority tactic creates a situation where the negotiator cites their limited ability to make a decision, creating a stall in the negotiations. The advantage of using Limited Authority is that it may lower your aspiration level. It also allows time to delay decisions. “My boss will have to authorize this.”

– The keys to countering this tactic are finding out who makes decisions and arranging a way to meet with them. It is important, when possible, to start negotiating with the individual who has final authority in order to prevent this tactic from being used. Try to find out what standards are used to determine whether an agreement will be authorized or not.

4. A similar and related tactic, the Missing Person tactic, occurs when the other party acts as if the Missing Person needs to be included in the deal, wouldn’t accept something you’re suggesting, or needs to be consulted on some detail. It’s not that the person you’re talking to wouldn’t like to continue the negotiation, but they say someone else needs to be involved AKA. ” someone who was never present at the meeting or who left earlier, or someone who has to authorize something. “I can’t discuss delivery times because our scheduling manager is out for the rest of the week.”

– Prior to negotiating, attempt to find out who makes final decisions regarding delivery times, price, payment terms, etc. You can also ask to set up a meeting with that person if the other party attempts to use this tactic.


5. The Moral Appeal tactic is supposed to remind you that the goal of the negotiation is mutual satisfaction. It appeals to your sense of fairness. It includes any statement whose purpose is to get you onto the other party’s side. “Let’s be fair. You can’t expect a firm price with the problems in the economy.”

– Explain to the other party that the terms you have agreed to are in each other’s best interests. Ask probing questions to find out what will happen to the other party. What is their underlying motivation?

6. Good Guy/Bad Guy – we have all seen this one used on police shows on television. One member of a negotiating team takes an extreme stand or radical position, making excessive demands and refusing to offer reasonable concessions. This tends to intimidate you, get you off-balance and lower your aspiration. Then the “Good Guy” comes into the act with conciliatory and soothing comments and a more reasonable offer. Even though the offer may still not be very good in absolute terms, it looks great in comparison to what the “Bad Guy” had to say. Often the natural impulse is to agree.

– Be careful not to be taken in by the Good Guy. While his offer may sound fantastic compared to the Bad Guy’s, the terms may still be unacceptable. Find out more about the terms, and see if they are consistent with your objectives.


7. Blanketing is generalizing: saying that everyone’s doing it. Kids are experts at this tactic. However, it also appears frequently in business. The objective of the tactic is to create credibility and weaken the other side’s position. “How can I continue to buy from you? Everyone else is lowering their prices.”

– Use objective criteria to determine just what the correct (fair) provisions of your agreement should be. For example: industry standards, rate of inflation, or standard profit margin. Also, ask questions to find out what the competition is offering or what deals have been drawn up with other clients. “Who is ‘everyone’?”

8. Association is a tactic that may occur in conjunction with Blanketing. Many of the most successful sales people will use this tactic at the beginning of a sales call or a negotiation to enhance their credibility. Also known as “name dropping,” this tactic is a popular way of increasing the other party’s power in a negotiation. It can be blatant or subtle. It is most effective when true, but can be very manipulative when untrue. “This project reminds me of one I did for B.F. Goodrich.”

– Ask the other party probing questions to find out what they did for the other companies. What terms did they agree to? How large was their order? Get as many details as possible about what they’ve done for them in the past.

With a basic understanding of the types of manipulative tactics and how they work, you can move to neutralize almost anything the other party attempts. Remember to keep working on a principled level and try for a win-win outcome.

Guest Post

By James Baker

James Baker is the founder of Baker Communications. Baker Communications offers leading edge Negotiation Training solutions that will help you address the goals and achieve the solutions addressed in this article. For more information about how your organization can achieve immediate and lasting behavior change that leads to bigger wins during negotiations in any setting, click here.


The 13 Best Email Template Builders for Any Budget

Email marketing is an undeniably powerful strategy for lead acquisition and customer retention — in fact, 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI, and 93% use email as a major channel for content distribution.

Of course, creating an email marketing campaign isn’t easy, and it might require you to build a template using HTML so you’re not designing and altering every new email from scratch.

Thankfully, there are dozens of email template builders available, all of which can help you intuitively and quickly create new email templates for your upcoming campaigns.

Then again, the fact that there are dozens of tools available can pose a challenge — how are you supposed to know which template builder will best suit your needs?

Fortunately, you’re in luck. We’ve done the homework for you, compiling a list of our 13 favorite email template builders, complete with pricing, screenshots, and a general overview of each app’s unique features. Keep reading to choose the best email template builder for your company.

But first — why do you need an email template builder, anyway?

Boost opens & CTRs. Get started with HubSpot’s free email marketing software.

Why You Need an Email Template Builder

Email marketing remains one of the highest-ROI marketing strategies, in part because of how easy and inexpensive it is to create a campaign, but if you’re designing and sending emails on a frequent basis, you’ll need additional support to work efficiently—and maximize your results.

An email template builder grants you several advantages:

  • Better design features. Without a template builder, you may struggle to arrange your content in blocks as you want, or add videos to your email.
  • Initial time savings. Most email template builders rely on intuitive mechanics, like drag-and-drop editors, so you can design your emails faster.
  • Long-term time savings. Creating a library of email templates can save you a ton of time long-term, allowing you to quickly choose and lightly edit past templates for new emails.
  • Replicability. Did you see impressive results with your most recent campaign? With an email template builder, you can easily replicate it with some minor tweaks in the future.
  • Analytics. Most email template builders also feature built-in analytics, which you can use to study your past email marketing efforts and make improvements to your approach.

Additionally, depending on the email template builder you’re using, you may have access to even more features. Let’s dive into some of the best builders, next.

The Best Email Template Builders

1. HubSpot

HubSpot offers a comprehensive, start-to-finish solution for all your marketing needs. You can create a sleek, on-brand email campaign using HubSpot’s drag-and-drop editor, and customize the template to match your brand and align with your goals.

Additionally, you can customize each email depending on your recipient’s lifecycle stage, list membership, or any information in their contact records to ensure each email is designed for optimal conversions. Best of all, the email tool provides top-notch analytics and A/B testing tools so you can continue to refine your marketing strategy over time.

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Unique Features

  • Analytics to provide deep insights into your email success rates, including open-rate, most popular links clicked in an email, who engages with each email, when and on which device, and what emails perform best.
  • Tailor each email to individual subscribers based on lifecycle stage, list membership, or any other contact information to serve the best calls-to-action to segmented groups.
  • Ability to run A/B tests to improve open-rates and clickthroughs.
  • More than 100 email templates available by default.
  • Custom landing page creation tools.
  • Advanced social sharing options.
  • Integrations with other marketing tools (more than 300 third-party apps).
  • 24/7 support from customer service reps.


You can get started with HubSpot’s email tool for free. Alternatively, if you’re already a HubSpot customer (professional or enterprise), the email tool is already included.

2. MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the top names in email marketing, in part because of its accessibility. It’s super easy to learn and build your first few email templates, and you can get started right now with a free plan. As you scale your business, you’ll find additional options, features, and tools for your needs.


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Unique Features

  • More than 100 email templates available by default.
  • Custom landing page creation tools.
  • Advanced social sharing options.
  • Integrations with other marketing tools (more than 300 third-party apps).
  • 24/7 support from customer service reps.


MailChimp offers a free plan that provides basic templates, marketing CRM, surveys, and even website creation. At $9.99 per month, you’ll get additional support, custom branding, A/B testing, and all email templates.

To get access to custom templates, retargeting ads, and better audience insights, you’ll need the Standard plan at $14.99 per month. Advanced plans, including a Premium tier at $299.00 per month, are also available, and offer features like advanced segmentation, multivariate testing, and more.

3. BEE Free

BEE Free is a free online email editor that has been used by more than a million people. In just a few clicks, you can get started designing your first email template — or use one of the 150 templates currently available by default. It also offers free design ideas on its own blog.


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Unique Features

  • 150 predesigned templates (and additional paid templates).
  • Full responsiveness for mobile friendly designs.
  • Integration with many SaaS apps.
  • Options to pick up where you left off.


BEE Free, as you might have guessed, is free. You can drag-and-drop to create emails without even needing to sign up. However, you may eventually want to upgrade to one of three BEE Pro packages, which are targeted to freelancers, marketing teams, and agencies. Pro plans start at $15 per month.

4. Mosaico

Mosaico.io is an open source email template builder, which is something of a rarity. You won’t find any predesigned templates, as you would with other email template builders, but you will be able to alter the tool however you see fit.


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Unique Features

  • A unique click-based design tool, abandoning the traditional “drag-and-drop” model.
  • Community support, due to its open source nature.
  • Infinite flexibility, if you’re willing to put in the work to customize it.


Mosaico is currently completely open source, so you can use it for free. In fact, the entire code base is available on GitHub.

5. Email Monster

Email Monster is another free email template builder, with a simple, easy-to-grasp approach. You can choose any of its 100+ base kit templates and edit the template as you see fit. You can also install the free Chrome extension if you want to integrate directly into Gmail.


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Unique Features

  • Template designs are immediately available, so you can start in mere minutes.
  • A free Chrome plugin so you can use the tool directly in your browser.
  • The ability to save and download templates for future use.


Email Monster is free, with no upgrades or paid plan options available at this time.

6. AWeber

AWeber is specifically designed for small businesses eager to get started with email marketing, but who might have trouble knowing where to begin. Predesigned templates, custom designs, and email automation are all available.


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Unique Features

  • A drag and drop AMP carousel, which allows you to add AMP image carousels to your emails.
  • AWeber’s Smart Designer, which uses AI to construct and recommend email templates.
  • A campaign marketplace that allows you to design and launch full email campaigns.
  • 24/7 customer service.


Pricing scales based on the number of subscribers you’re emailing. Plans start at $19 per month, which covers you up to 500 subscribers. The top tier, for 10,000 to 25,000 subscribers, is $149 per month. Pricing options for businesses with more than 25,000 subscribers are available upon request. You can also choose to be billed quarterly or annually to reduce your per-month costs.

7. Unlayer

Unlayer allows you to build email templates from scratch, but also utilize merge tags and embed customizable, dynamic content into the body of your messages. It’s designed for SaaS companies, but could feasibly be used by any industry.


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Unique Features

  • Dynamic content that changes based on defined conditions.
  • Large-scale template management.
  • Developer friendliness, with full support documentation, for unique customizations.
  • Options for landing pages and further marketing support.


The basic plan option is free. Premium packages are available at $99 for startups, $199 for businesses, and $399 for growing businesses.

8. Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor is primarily focused on email marketing, but has other features you can use for a variety of other marketing and ecommerce purposes. Because it’s designed to work for teams, it’s ideal if you have many people working together on your campaigns.


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Unique Features

  • Template management and collaboration for teams.
  • Built-in support for surveys with unlimited questions.
  • 80 predesigned email templates.


Pricing varies based on how many subscribers you have. You can get started for free, but if you want access for more features, or if you need more support, you’ll need the Basic plan for $9 per month, the Unlimited plan for $29 per month, or the Premier plan for $149.

9. Chamaileon.io

Chamaileon.io is a cleverly-named email template builder that allows your team to design emails collaboratively, complete with drag-and-drop mechanics so you never have to worry about coding. You can also design and follow a set email campaign workflow, simplifying your efforts in the future.


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Unique Features

  • Collaborative email design for teams working together on the same templates.
  • Unique and flexible account roles for multiple levels of access.
  • Replicable testing settings to allow for easy testing of new designs.


The free plan gives you much of what you need as an individual, but as you start adding seats and getting access to more features, the cost goes up. Premium plans start at $20 per month, with the Pro plan at $40 per month, and the Pro Team plan at $200 per month.

10. Designmodo

Designmodo‘s email builder is designed to bring teams together for the email template building process. You can use it to design emails however you like, then export as HTML, or to a full email service provider like Mailchimp.


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Unique Features

  • Modular designs that help you stack, customize, and rearrange your options.
  • Long-term content management to help you revisit previous successes.
  • Unlimited exports, which is ideal if you’re exporting to other services frequently.


For a single user and 10 modules, you can use Postcards for free. Business plans start at $15 per month, and an agency plan starts at $25 per month.

11. Stripo.email

Stripo.email helps you create responsive email templates without any HTML coding skills necessary. It also features innate dynamic AMP support, and a robust testing tool to help you preview your email in more than 90 popular environments, including variants for devices and browsers.


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Unique Features

  • Drag-and-drop AMP blocks for image carousel and/or accordion support.
  • Thorough testing in nearly 100 different environments.
  • A customizable module library, allowing you to reuse past successful elements.
  • Integration with many ESPs and third-party tools.


The free plan is all you’ll need to get started. Billed yearly, the Business plan is $125 (or $10.42 per month), and the Agency plan is $400 (or $33.33 per month).

12. Taxi for Email

Taxi for Email provides scalable email template creation, as well as the ability to create email workflows. It also allows you to assign various tasks and permissions to your team, so each of your marketers can play a role in perfecting your email campaign.


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Unique Features

  • Team dynamics, including collaborative tools, access assignment, and user permissions.
  • Robust testing on-demand as you design.
  • Support for multiple languages and email segmentation.


Taxi for Email doesn’t publish their pricing, but you can submit a short contact form on their website to get a free quote.

13. SendGrid

SendGrid is an email service that provides support for email template designs — additionally, it offers email functions like automatic shipping notifications and password resets. It also boasts an open API, which you can use to integrate with just about anything.


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Unique Features

  • A wide variety of tools, including email design, automation, signup forms, and more.
  • APIs, SMTP Relay, and Webhooks.
  • Delivery optimization tools so you can increase delivery rates.


The basic version of the tool is free, and paid plans start at $14.95 per month for the essentials, or $89.95 per month for the Pro plan. Rates increase as you send more emails per month.

Choose the Best Email Template Builder for Your Needs

While it’s arguable that some of these email template builders are superior to some of the others, all of them have strengths and weaknesses. The best email template builder will be the one that most closely aligns with your organization’s goals — giving you all the tools you need, at a price within your budget.

When you narrow the list down to a few options, give each one a try (since most of these tools either offer a free trial, or a free version altogether), and get a hands-on feel for which tool might serve your organization best.

Guest Post

Written by Jayson DeMers

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of EmailAnalytics, a productivity tool tool that connects to your Gmail or G Suite account and visualizes your email activity — or that of your employees. Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Lan Belinky, Co-Founder at Boscia | Leading a Global Skincare Brand

For More Episodes Visit: https://www.podcast.scottdclary.com

With deep rooted beauty beginnings, Lan Belinky was destined to lead a global skincare brand. Born and raised until her young teens in Japan, the infamous center of skin care innovation, Lan was fascinated by the infinite beauty trends and tactics she was continually exposed to. Mesmerized by her Grandmother’s meticulous 6-step beauty ritual and her Aunt’s unique product application practices; the allure of the beauty world naturally beckoned.

In the Spring of 1996, Lan’s family moved to the United States so her Father and boscia Founder, Gen Inomata, could realize his dream of bringing Japanese influenced skincare stateside. Lan spoke solely Japanese at the time and worked diligently to learn English as a second language and acclimate into the American culture that was so brand new to her — but always, always held close her Japanese roots.

Fast-forward a few years later, Gen’s dream was realized and boscia was born. Lan attended The University of the Incarnate Word and graduated with a degree in Business Marketing, while spending every available moment helping to cultivate boscia. After graduating, Lan joined boscia full-time and helped lead many of the brand’s major milestones including the first foray into prestige retail, triple digit year over year growth and global expansion.

Show Notes





The Success Story podcast is focused on speaking to incredible people who have achieved success through trials, tribulations, wins and losses. In each episode we sit down with leaders and mentors. We document their life, career and stories to help pass those lessons onto others through insights, experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/successstorypodcast

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sdouglasclary

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sdouglasclary

Facebook: https://facebook.com/sdouglasclary

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/sdouglasclary

Which Types of Live Video Are People Actually Watching? [New Data]

In 2019, global internet users watched 1.1 billion hours of live video. That equates to 12,557 decades of online content.

And the craziest part? People will probably spend even more time streaming content in 2020.

The statistic above is just one of many that shows how popular live video is becoming. And, with any social media or online video trend, marketers are taking notice and learning how to implement it in their own tactics.

If the mounting research about live video has intrigued you, you might be asking more questions about live video in the near future.

Specifically, you might be wondering, “Which types of live content are driving people to tune in?”

To figure out what’s driving the world to watch multiple lifetimes’ worth of content in one year, I decided to conduct a Lucid survey of over 400 consumers to learn which types of content they watch the most.

→ Access Now: Video Marketing Starter Pack [Free Kit]

Which live videos do consumers actually watch?

If you’ve followed live stream trends, you might think content that focuses on entertainment such as behind-the-scenes content, or video game streaming, might make the top of the list as the most popular type of live content.

However, when I asked consumers, “Which type of live video are you most likely to watch if you see it on one of your social network feeds?”, their answers surprised me.

The top three live videos that people say they’re most likely to click on actually emphasize content that’s educational or allows viewers to learn something new.

In fact, the type of live videos consumers are most likely to view is “A Q&A with an influencer, celebrity, or expert in your industry,” which received nearly 30% of the votes.

Below is a quick look at the top four live video types that polled consumers selected:

Live video types

Data Source

Live video formats that consumers were less interested in were behind the scenes video streams, theatrical stories with a script or plotline, and virtual conferences or events. These topics received between three to eight percent of the votes.

While the least popular types of live video focus more on gaming and entertainment, the top three formats are informational and can be used by brands to discuss their industry, grow awareness, or highlight a product online.

Below, I’ll walk you through the three most common live video formats, note how you can leverage them as a marketer, and offer branded live video examples to inspire you.

3 Types of Live Video Consumers Love Watching

Live Q&As

Live Q&As can be affordable to produce, engage multiple audiences at once, allow you to interact with your fans, and highlight your brand’s expertise at the same time.

If you host a Q&A with an influencer or thought leader, you boost the chances of their followers tuning in to comment with questions or learn more about the guest. In the process, they’ll learn a bit about you and your brand. If you appear on a Q&A, the host’s audiences will learn more about you and potentially get the opportunity to interact.

Can’t book a thought leader or influencer? You can also coordinate Q&As with experts from your own company. This will allow experts in your industry to learn about a topic your employees are highly skilled in. This provides audiences value and allows them to engage with your brand in a new way. Additionally, prospects and customers that view this type of live video will see the depth of knowledge that your team has, which might result in them trusting the quality of your product.

Product Tutorials

While brands have been recording, editing, and publishing online product demos and tutorials for years, this process can also take place on live platforms.

Although a pre-recorded product tutorial has the benefit of being edited, a live product tutorial authentically highlights a product with no added editing.

Here’s an example of a live product tutorial streamed by The Nail Prop Shop which highlights tools that help consumers paint their nails like professionals:

In the product tutorial above, you’re seeing how the product and the host authentically without edits, artificial lighting, or anything else that could boost the aesthetics of the product. Because of this, you can easily imagine what it would be like to use the product in your own life.

Educational Content

People crave knowledge. And, even when you don’t directly discuss your product or service, you can leverage your audience’s curiosity by launching live how-tos or explainers related to your industry.

For example, if you’re marketing a restaurant, you might create a recipe or food-related how-to video. Or, if you’re marketing a fitness brand, you might stream a workout that audiences can try.

Like Q&As, a how-to or explainer gives you the opportunity to show off your brand’s range of knowledge and expertise in your industry. Audiences who see this content might value your expertise and trust your brand because its team has shown a strong understanding of the industry and what audiences want to learn about.

Here’s an example of a live how-to streamed by Planet Fitness. Rather than discussing what customers can get from a gym membership, a trainer from the gym shows audiences workouts that they can use to stay in shape — even outside the gym.

Creating Your First Live Video

If you’ve been inspired by the data or the videos above and are interested in coordinating your first live video, here are a few things you should consider before going live:

  • Picking the Right Plattform: Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Twitch, TikTok, and LinkedIn offer a live video feature. Before you go live, research the audiences of each platform to determine which will best align with your own targets.
  • Planning and Rehearsing: Once you go live, people will immediately be able to watch your content. To prevent any major blunders, you might want to rehearse prior to streaming or create an outline of what you plan to do while live.
  • Including Interactive Elements: To engage with audiences further, consider encouraging them to ask questions or share their thoughts in the video stream’s comment section. Try to answer a few of these questions or respond to one of the comments to show viewers that you’re interested in what they have to say.

Guest Post

By Pamela Bump

Pamela Bump is an Audience Growth Marketing Manager and Staff Writer for the HubSpot Blog. She has previously written and contributed to audience growth strategies for publications including Harvard Business Review, MedTech Boston, and Innovation Leader.

The RACE Digital Marketing Planning Framework

We created RACE to help digital marketers plan and manage their digital marketing activities in a more structured way since we found that many don’t have a well-formed digital marketing strategy. In this post, first published in July 2010 and since updated with a new infographic and summary of the digital marketing KPIs you should track, we show how you can simplify your measurement and reporting of digital marketing through RACE Planning.

To explain and fully define ‘What Is Digital Marketing?’ we created this popular infographic structured around RACE in 2012 and updated in 2020 as shown below. It shows the key measures to set targets for and evaluate at each stage of the funnel.

Within our Digital marketing E-learning course and Digital marketing strategy toolkit for premium members we break each part of RACE down into 5 essential activities to give 5X5 = 25 activities that must be planed for successfully managing continuous always-on integrated marketing across the customer lifecycle.

What does RACE Planning stand for?

The RACE mnemonic summarizes the key online and multichannel marketing activities that need to be managed as part of digital marketing. RACE covers the full customer lifecycle or marketing funnel from:

(Plan) > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage

There is an initial phase of PLAN, which involves creating the overall digital strategy, objective setting and plan, so sometimes members call it PRACE, but we prefer RACE Planning for simplicity.

We have defined four steps of engagement across the customer lifecycle, since in online marketing there is a major challenge in gaining interaction, participation with prospects and creating those all-important Leads after the initial customer touchpoint.

These interactions, covered in the Act step can take place over several channels and touchpoints such as web, mobile, social media and email contacts, so these leads need separate management from final conversion to online or offline sale through techniques like retargeting and assisted selling.

RACE consists of these four steps or online marketing activities designed to help brands engage their customers throughout the customer lifecycle.

  • 1. REACH. Reach involves building awareness of a brand, its products, and services on other websites and in offline media in order to build traffic by driving visits to different web presences like your main site, microsites or social media pages. It involves maximizing reach over time to create multiple interactions using different paid, owned and earned media touchpoints.
  • 2 ACT. Act is short for Interact. It’s a separate stage since encouraging interactions on websites and in social media to generate leads is a big challenge for online marketers. It’s about persuading site visitors or prospects take the next step, the next Action on their journey when they initially reach your site or social network presence. For many types of businesses, especially, Business-to-Business, this means generating leads, but it may mean finding out more about a company or its products, searching to find a product or reading a blog post. You should define these actions as top-level goals of the funnel in analytics. Google Analytics Goals can include “Viewed product”, “Added to Basket”, “Registered as a member” or “Signed up for an enewsletter. Act is also about encouraging participation. This can be sharing of content via social media or customer reviews (strictly, part of Engage). The specific goals and dashboards need to be defined for each business as explained in our Delivering results from digital marketing guide. It’s about engaging the audience through relevant, compelling content and clear navigation pathways so that they don’t hit the back button. The bounce rates on many sites is greater than 50%, so getting the audience to act or participate is a major challenge which is why we have identified it separately.
  • 3. CONVERT. This is conversion to sale — occurring either online or offline. It involves getting your audience to take that vital next step which turns them into paying customers whether the payment is taken through online Ecommerce transactions or offline channels.
  • 4. ENGAGE. This is long-term engagement that is, developing a long-term relationship with first-time buyers to build customer loyalty as repeat purchases using communications on your site, social presence, email and direct interactions to boost customer lifetime value. It can be measured by repeat actions such as repeat sale and sharing content through social media. We also need to measure the percentage of active customers (or email subscribers) and customer satisfaction and recommendation using other systems.

Why RACE Planning?

We created the RACE Planning system to help give a simple framework to help small and large businesses alike take the best advantage of the opportunities available from digital marketing.

In our research, we have found that, shockingly, many businesses don’t have a digital marketing strategy. When creating a digital marketing strategy, knowing how to structure it and where to start is sometimes the biggest challenge!

There are so many tools and tactics available that it’s difficult to know where to start. We hope RACE gives a structure to help you review and prioritize when there are so many options, but some options work better than others.

RACE is a practical framework to help manage and improve results from your digital marketing. It covers always-on digital marketing activities across the customer lifecycle which are sometimes neglected in favour of campaign-based activities for launching new products and promotions. Investing time and budget in planning always-on activities is vital for many businesses to connect with customers who are researching new products by searching or asking via social media.

Ultimately, it’s about using best practice web analytics techniques to get more commercial value from investments in digital marketing. We hope it will help simplify your approach to reviewing the performance of your online marketing and taking actions to improve its effectiveness.

Using KPIs to manage RACE

In our Marketing manifesto we explained that we believe that data-driven marketing is the best approach to growing business through digital marketing. Priorities and improvements should be based on a sound evaluation and optimization process using digital analytics showing which marketing activities are effective and which aren’t. This diagram shows relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be used at each stage.

Here’s an example of our recommended measures in a simpler summary of RACE KPIs which could form a dashboard — the best dashboards show not only volume and how they change through time, but also the quality of visits and the value generated.

Many of these KPIs be created from Google Analytics although it needs to be customized for each business to record goal value or revenue per visit. For some other measures such as social mentions, you need to pull in from other tools.

For premium members, we offer an interactive monthly reporting dashboard based on RACE using the Google Analytics API to rapidly create monthly reports using Google Docs Sheets.

The dashboard makes it easy to compare digital marketing performance through time with a focus on the key digital marketing measures across the customer lifecycle or marketing funnel defined across the Smart Insights RACE planning framework. For example, you can compare year-on-year or compared to the previous reporting period both overall and for each of the digital marketing channels such as organic, paid search, email and social media marketing.

Marketing activities to manage within RACE

All of our guidance on Smart Insights from our blog posts to detailed guides and templates are structured according to RACE. This is a summary of some of the main activities which our guides, templates and free blog guidance cover.

Of course, there are many more online marketing activities which are covered in our e-learning.


Google Analytics has over 60 reports displaying many more metrics and that’s before you start segmenting your audience… Other web analytics tools have more… This makes it difficult to know what to report; you have to identify your “critical few” Key Performance Indicators which you report on regularly to review performance and identify problems. Here we have suggested just 3 KPIs for each area which applies to a retail site. We’ll have more on these and related performance drive measures in later posts.

RACE is Social! Digital marketing is not just about your website

Digital marketing today is not just about your website, and in fact it never has been, partnering with other sites and “swimming with the fishes” has always been important.

But today, the popularity of participation in social media with web users means that how to reach, interact, convert and maintain ongoing engagement of customers through social networks is vital to the success of a brand. At each step in RACE you need to think how social media can help achieve your goals and how you can measure the effectiveness of social media.

RACE is integrated

Digital channels always work best when they’re integrated with other channels, so remember that where appropriate, digital channels should be combined with the traditional offline media and channels. The most important aspects of integration are first using traditional media to raise awareness of the value of the online presences and drive visitors to the website(s) at the Reach and Engage stages. Second, at the Convert and Engage steps stage customers may prefer to interact with customer representatives as part of the buying or customer service process.

So that’s an introduction to the Smart Insight RACE framework. We hope you find it useful when you’re planning and managing digital marketing!


I also like to credit the REAN (Reach > Engage > Activate > Nurture) framework for web analysts which influenced my thinking back in 2010. It was originally developed by Xavier Blanc and popularised by Steve Jackson in his book Cult of Analytics of which I’m a big fan.

We devised RACE since we wanted to develop our own approach for improving digital marketing and we feel Step 2 is more about initial interactions with a brand and in step 4, customer engagement is a longer-term process.

Through 15 years of advising marketers through my books and training I’ve found that, after time has passed, all that often remains from the course as a takeaway is a framework on which to hang future actions. C’est la vie! But busy people seem to like frameworks and mnemonics to structure their actions. To help digital marketers structure their thoughts, over the years I’ve created or been involved with these frameworks too — I hope you find they’re useful — that’s what we aim for — to make marketing life simpler and more profitable.

And finally, it’s why we’re called SMART Insights — we believe the best marketers compete and win by a data-driven or insight-driven approach to marketing.

Guest Post

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

THIS is who you should hire

If you’re looking to hire someone, stop looking for an MBA or 20 years experience in some niche industry.


Look for people who.


– Are self taught. (autodidact)

– Are comfortable with uncertainty.

– Make no excuses.

– Have extreme ownership.

– Have resilience and grit.

– Want to change the world.

– Are passionate about something (it’s your job to channel that passion towards your company).

– High IQ… Higher EQ.

– Show humility and gratitude.

– Share credit for wins, own losses.

– Brings others up.

– Has a high level of self awareness and can articulate their own faults.

– Competes & likes to win.

– Are flexible but focused.


What else would you add to this list?

Microsoft Partner Productivity Hacks #2

How do you ease the burden of collaborating remotely?

One of my solves is my Productivity Hack #2 as a #MicrosoftPartner.

Within our business, the majority of our collaboration is in person. Things like contract deal points are hashed out together in one room. When we started WFH, version control was a problem. Document edits were emailed back and forth, and a lot of time was lost trying to nail down the latest version.

*Having documents in the cloud alleviates these pain points, and gives us the control we need over our workflow. For example:*

– We use view-only links when sharing finalized documents or assets across our org, allowing everyone to view the files without being able to make edits.

– We send editable share links when input from multiple stakeholders is needed, allowing for real-time collaboration, while maintaining version control.

– We use anonymous links for sensitive documents we need to restrict access to, such as pending client contracts. The link prevents unauthorized users from accessing, even if they somehow get a hold of it.

This was a simple process to adopt, and allows us the flexibility we need to collaborate both internally & externally.

For more resources to help keep YOUR team productive, check out https://bit.ly/2AGM1LF


What skills are EMPLOYERS looking for?

Although technical skills are important, soft skills (attitudes and aptitudes) are far more important to most employers (at least the ones you want to work for).

Here are some skills that will always make you a favorable candidate.

Don’t be afraid to highlight these on your resume or in your interview.

– Resilience
– Coping with pressure
– Punctuality
– Overcoming obstacles
– Calm & collected
– Positive
– Flexible
– Verbal & written communication skills
– Problem solving
– Analytical
– Self Management
– “Attitude” which roughly translates into a mishmash of all those aforementioned skills

Notice a common trend — none of these skills require an MBA or 10 years “on the job experience”.

These are all transferable and highly valuable skills.

They’re about to become even MORE valuable as more of us work from home.

Think of a few stories that help you describe how you have these skills and include them as you walk through your resume.

This is what truly gives you an advantage, when you’re being interviewed.

19 Ways to Effectively Increase Your Conversion Rate

Have you ever heard the term “analysis paralysis”? It’s the concept that too many choices can inhibit a person’s ability to make a decision.

It’s like when a visitor is on your website and there are too many places to look or there’s a confusing design.

When this happens, visitors won’t convert.

Download Now: Free 8-Week Conversion Rate Optimization Planner

As a marketer, it’s important to remove any type of barrier to conversion. To do this, you should calculate your conversion rate and analyze why visitors aren’t converting on your site.

Whatever the reason, I’m sure you’re wondering how you can improve your conversion rate.

Below, let’s review how to increase your conversion rate for both your desktop website and mobile site.

Improving Your Website’s Conversation Rate

1. Use a CRO planner.

Getting started with conversion rate optimization can seem like a daunting task.

The first step to improving your conversion rate? Use a CRO planner.

With a CRO planner, you’ll be able to analyze and develop a strategy for increasing your conversion rate.

For example, with HubSpot CRO planner, you’ll find instructions on how to conduct a site audit, identify areas to improve your conversion funnel, understand users on your site, and go through the process of A/B testing and experimentation.

CRO planners can be helpful because they take through the entire process from A to Z.

HubSpot's conversion rate optimization planner.

2. Shorten your forms.

One reason that users don’t convert is because there’s friction in the process. For example, if you have a long form, visitors might be hesitant to fill it out.

It’s your job to eliminate hesitation, not create it. By shortening your forms, you’ll create trust among your audience. Plus, it takes less time to fill out so users are more likely to complete it.

3. Include social proof.

Did you know that 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews and 97% say customer reviews factor into their buying decision?

Without a doubt, your reputation and online presence impact your conversion rate. That’s why you should include social proof on your site.

You can link to your Yelp or any other directory page where customers have left reviews.

Additionally, you should also add testimonials and reviews right on your site so visitors don’t have to go to a third-party site.

It should be apparent that your customers have enjoyed using your product or service. If it isn’t, your conversion rate will suffer.

4. Track how people interact with your site.

It’ll be hard to improve your conversion rate if you don’t understand how users are interacting with your site.

But how can you see where visitors are getting tripped up? With website analysis tools, you can see screen recordings of users on your site. You’ll see what they click on, if they skip over an offer, or if they stop filling out a form in the middle.

Additionally, these tools should include heat maps of your site, so you can see what elements stand out and what draws the eye.

A tool like Crazy Egg or HubSpot’s website grader can help you see what you’re doing well and diagnose what areas of your site you need to improve.

5. Add live chat.

When a web visitor doesn’t convert, they might have a question or concern about your product or service.

To avoid losing potential customers, you should consider adding live chat to your site.

With live chat, your customer service or sales employees can alleviate concerns of prospects who are on the fence.

6. Test your offers.

Sometimes it can feel like you’ve checked everything — you’ve written strong copy, included social proof, and have optimized your forms … but you still aren’t converting.

When this happens, it’s time to check your content offers. Do they align with your audience? Are they creative and compelling? Do the offers make sense for the page they’re on?

Think about your current offers and answer those questions.

For example, offering a free trial or consultation is fairly generic. Instead, you could offer something like HubSpot’s Website Grader. With this offer, the customer is getting a lot out of it. They’re getting actionable advice, for free, and they don’t need to clear out time on their calendar to get it.

Tangible and compelling offers always perform better than a generic offer. To improve conversions, you need to analyze and test your content offers.

7. Communicate your value proposition.

On any landing page, your value proposition should be clearly communicated. To do this, you need to have a solid understanding of who your audience is and your buyer persona.

Write your copy specifically for your target audience. For example, you can address their goals, motivations, and pain points.

Additionally, you should discuss the benefits of your product or service over the features. Benefits will help your potential customers imagine their life with your product, while features are easy to skim and ignore.

Your copy should communicate how your product or service can solve your audience’s problem. If you aren’t converting, you should check and see how well your copy is written.

8. Incorporate multimedia elements to your landing pages.

Have you ever ordered something at a restaurant and when it came out, it looked completely different than what you imagined?

You don’t want this to happen when people download your content offers. To avoid this, include images and videos of your product or service on your landing pages.

Multimedia elements make your site feel more trustworthy. Plus, it’s the preferred way of consuming content.

To improve your conversion rate, try adding images of graphs and charts, or video testimonials to your site.

9. Write strong CTAs.

A huge component of conversion is your call-to-action (CTA). Your CTA could be to download an offer, share a post on social media, or subscribe to your email newsletter.

Whatever it is, you need to include CTAs throughout your website and landing pages. Usually, this means that they’re clear and easily accessible.

Typically, each landing page will only have one call to action, but be incorporated several times on a page. For example, this blog post has three CTAs that lead to one offer. One at the bottom of the page, one in the text in the introduction, and one that pops up after scrolling down the page.

The important thing to note is that you can access the CTA no matter where you are on the page.

10. Meet your audience’s expectations.

When someone clicks on your site after reading your meta description on Google or seeing your search engine ad, your landing page needs to follow through.

You have to deliver on the promises that were made in that copy. For example, if a user sees this post in Google, they’re going to expect to find strategies to improve their conversion rate. If they clicked through and this page only had pictures of puppies, they’d be confused.

If a landing page doesn’t deliver on what a user thought they were getting, they won’t convert. That’s why you need to think about the entire process from seeing an ad, going to your landing page, and downloading an offer.

If a landing page isn’t converting, review your social media posts and search engine descriptions to see if you follow through on the promises you made.

11. Conduct A/B testing.

It’s not always easy to know what’s working and what isn’t. When that happens, you should conduct A/B tests.

See what types of headlines, colors, copy, layout, and CTAs work for your audience. Get creative with your experiments.

For example, you can try testing an entirely new type of CTA or completely changing the format of your copy.

12. Increase trust and remove friction.

Users don’t convert if they don’t trust your brand or experience friction in the process.

So, how can you increase trust?

You can use several tactics, including money-back guarantees, updating your site content regularly, avoiding spammy links, and making the site easy to use.

If it looks like you haven’t posted a blog in two years or there are a lot of broken links — that’s friction and it creates distrust.

Additionally, you can include team bios so your audience knows who they’re getting information from.

If your site doesn’t include these elements, it could impact your conversion rate.

13. Create abandoned cart email campaigns.

Have you ever been on a site, added something to your cart, but decided not to check out? We all do it and that means it’s probably happening on your site too.

You shouldn’t forget about those potential customers. If someone abandons their cart, they should receive an abandoned cart email campaign.

With this type of an email campaign, you’ll email users a reminder about the products in their cart, send a follow-up, and then perhaps include a discount or offer.

If you don’t send this email, you’re losing out on conversions.

How to Increase Mobile Conversion Rate

14. Improve your page speed.

When it comes to mobile conversion, a huge obstacle is page speed. This is the time it takes for your content to appear on the screen.

Did you know that 40% of people abandon sites that take more than 3 seconds to load? On mobile specifically, a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

If your mobile page isn’t converting as well, analyze your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed tools. This will test your mobile page speed.

To improve your page speed, images need to be smaller and compressed. Additionally, your site should be responsive and optimized for mobile.

15. Optimize for mobile.

Since Google switched to mobile-first indexing, mobile optimization has been more important than ever. If you don’t optimize for mobile, your Google rankings might be impacted, which could reduce conversions.

You might be wondering, “How do I optimize my site for mobile?”

Before you begin, it’s important to remember that mobile and desktop experiences are different.

You can use Google’s mobile testing tool to see if your site is mobile-friendly. With this tool, you’ll get recommendations for how to improve your site’s mobile performance.

For example, you might need to increase your font on mobile, compress your images, or improve page speed.

16. Enhance the purchasing process.

Making a purchase on your phone should be a simple process.

That means you shouldn’t have too many steps in your checkout process and your payment buttons should be easy to see and click.

Additionally, try to remove restrictions on online forms where you gather payment information. Personally, I’m always stopped on mobile forms because the name of my city is too long (22 characters).

Users should be able to check out as a guest and use whatever payment method they want, whether that’s Google Pay, Apple Pay, or by PayPal.

Ultimately, this process should be easy and pain-free. A complicated checkout process will reduce mobile conversions.

17. Be creative with your mobile marketing.

When you want to increase your mobile conversion rate, that doesn’t just mean you need to adapt your site to the mobile experience.

You can also start to get creative and run mobile-only marketing campaigns.

For example, maybe you can start an SMS text message campaign, or you can use push notifications on your app.

These creative, out of the box techniques can help increase your mobile conversion rate.

18. Make adjustments to your mobile site.

Since the mobile and desktop experiences are different, your mobile and desktop sites should be different.

For example, your email subscriber form might be smaller or nonexistent on your mobile site.

Additionally, you’ll probably use different CTAs on your mobile site. For instance, when you read this blog, the website and mobile have different types of CTAs. While the offer is the same, the button and the way to access the CTA isn’t.

On mobile, less is more. Your mobile site should be simple and eliminate distractions. This can mean you have simplified navigation and use a hamburger menu so it’s easy to get around your site.

19. Localize your content.

Mobile users are usually on your site because they’re looking for contact information, want to know your location, find directions, or look up reviews.

That’s why you should optimize for local marketing. This means adding location pages to your website, managing your online directory listings, and creating local content.

To improve your mobile conversion rates, consider localizing your content so you perform better in local searches.

Before I sign off, I want to remind you that many of the tactics for improving your website’s conversion rate can be applied to mobile CRO.

At the end of the day, we’ve all been consumers before. Take a step back, look at the bigger picture, put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and think about whether you would make a purchase off your site.

Guest Post

By Rebecca Riserbato

Rebecca is a Junior Staff Writer for the HubSpot Marketing, Sales, and Service Blogs. Her background is in content creation. From writing for a celebrity news site to a parenting magazine, she’s a content-generating machine. When she’s not hard at work, she loves to travel, read, and eat carbs.

Andrew Undem, Founder at SURE Group | #1 Brokerage & 120,000,000 Real Estate Sold

For More Episodes Visit: www.podcast.scottdclary.com

Andrew Undem is a real estate entrepreneur with a decade of experience under his belt. Andrew Undem founded the SURE Sales Group in 2014. Since then their organization has grown to over 20 agents and staff with annual sales consistently over $120,000,000.

SURE Sales Group is known for their unique blend of sales, marketing, and negotiation mastery. Over the past 5 years SURE Sales Group has been recognized by WSJ, Remax as well as the #1 brokerage in Baltimore and the #3 brokerage in the state.


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The Success Story podcast is focused on speaking to incredible people who have achieved success through trials, tribulations, wins and losses. In each episode we sit down with leaders and mentors. We document their life, career and stories to help pass those lessons onto others through insights, experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/successstorypodcast

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sdouglasclary

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sdouglasclary

Facebook: https://facebook.com/sdouglasclary

LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/sdouglasclary

Andrew Undem, Founder at SURE Group | #1 Brokerage & 120,000,000 Real Estate Sold
Andrew Undem, Founder at SURE Group | #1 Brokerage & 120,000,000 Real Estate Sold

Andrew Undem is a real estate entrepreneur with a decade of experience under his belt. Andrew Undem founded the SURE Sales Group in 2014. Since then their organization has grown to over 20 agents and staff with annual sales consistently over $120,000,000. SURE Sales Group is known for their unique blend of sales, marketing, and negotiation mastery. Over the past 5 years SURE Sales Group has been recognized by WSJ, Remax as well as the #1 brokerage in Baltimore and the #3 brokerage in the state.

Developing Real Leadership: The 5 BIG Mistakes

The 5 BIG Mistakes that organisations make when developing their leadership talent is costing them in productivity, staff engagement, staff satisfaction and staff retention; never mind the escalating costs of replacing individuals and getting them up to speed to do an effective job.

As you read through these 5 BIG Mistakes – and the problems they create – you’ll immediately be in a position to introduce new strategies to develop your leadership talent, increase engagement and reduce those costs associated with employees being disengaged and leaving your company for “greener pastures”. In fact… continuing to do what the industry has always done will continue to get you the same results. Many of the standard old and tired approaches to leadership development simply don’t work and fail to deliver on organisational (and employee!) expectations. It’s time to take a new approach.

Every organisation wants them and every organisation says they’re committed to building them but how many organisations actually produce great leaders at every level throughout their business?

There are many benefits of having leaders, including self-leaders, at every level of the organisation and some of these include:

  • Proactivity: The ability to set and achieve our own objectives.
  • Accountability: Taking responsibility for our mistakes and making them right.
  • Motivation: That drive that gets us to the office early and keeps us focused throughout the day.
  • Confidence: Being able to present new ideas and having the self-assurance in ourselves and our capabilities.
  • Harmonisation: Being a team player, making decisions and acting in-line with organisational values.
  • Enthusiasm: Having the energy and “juice!” to overcome any challenges we come across.
  • Inspiration: The ability to move people toward a cause that is greater than themselves.
  • Self-awareness: Understanding ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses and taking on the challenge of becoming better.

#1: Employees will pick up leadership skills on the Job…

If you want to be a great leader the best way to become one is to get close to an individual who already demonstrates great leadership practices. Stick with them as much as you can, learn everything you can from them, observe them, especially in the tough times; get to know how they think and how they make decisions. Most importantly, identify those unique character traits that set them apart and work on developing those within yourself.

That’s the ideal way… regrettably most organisations lack great leadership in the first place and there is a shortage of good leadership role-models. Unfortunately, when people are asked about ‘leadership’ they tend to think ‘management’.

Start developing real leadership skills in your organisation now and reverse this trend!

Another unfortunate aspect of organisation culture is that there is no incentive to developing leaders; therefore we are more concerned about getting the job done rather than spending the time needed with our people to help them grow. We are too busy in our day to day jobs to realise that by developing our teams they will experience the confidence to step up and take on many of the day to day tasks that prevent you, a leader of people, from focusing on where you can add value most. Most leaders don’t have the skill-set to do this because they have never experienced it themselves and lack the knowledge of how to apply it to others.

Bill O’Brien, former president of Hanover Insurance in the United States argues that managers must redefine their job. They must give Bill O’Brien up “the old dogma of planning, organizing and controlling,” and realise “the almost sacredness of their responsibility for the lives of so many people.” Managers’ fundamental task, according to O’Brien, is “providing the enabling conditions for people to lead the most enriching lives they can” (Senge, 1992).

Developing a great leadership culture doesn’t happen by chance. It takes time, effort and focus. It takes an understanding of the core leadership competencies and embedding these into the organisational culture where they are measured and reviewed.

Each member of staff should be on a leadership programme with goals and objectives within this space. Cave and Tappin (2008) suggest that to become a complete leader of tomorrow requires apprenticeship. Learning leadership is like a quest – there’s no defined path to success. It’s a personal journey and is different for everyone.

Identify where your leaders are spending their time. Is their focus on developing their people or managing the things their people do?

Believing that employees will learn on the job without a dedicated leadership culture in place will lead to disappointment and frustration for all involved.

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” ~ John Buchan

How are you going to start developing your people rather than manage them? What activities can you let go of and give to an aspiring team member to free up your time and contribute to their growth?

What are the leadership objectives for your team members or yourself? Remember, leadership is about leading yourself first! What changes can you make in your life to become a real leader?

#2: Sending employees on 2 or 3 day leadership training courses…

If you’ve ever been on a 2 or 3 day training course I’ve no doubt that you learned a lot of valuable information and that the course was a great buzz… a fantastic cerebral hit! You’ve probably come away from the course motivated to make loads of changes and become a truly great leader.

But what happens when you get back to your desk? Generally there are hundreds of unread emails waiting for your urgent attention. That little light on your phone is blinking away telling you have several phone messages also waiting for your urgent attention. Don’t forget about your team… They’ve been fighting the fires while you were away and now they all need a decision on this and a decision on that. Soon those valuable lessons you learned during those two or three days recede into distant memory and you never get the opportunity to make any real and lasting change.

Organise your training in a series of short hits over a period of weeks to allow time for practice and feedback.

Apart from the inconvenience of being out of the office for two or three days at a time and never really being able to shut off to give the material the attention it deserves, does the core content actually deal with real leadership competencies?

And more to the point, does it help you develop them? I would argue that they don’t and they can’t. Orr and Sack (2009) suggest that no one has time for anything that isn’t going to help them do their job better or faster today. Make sure that you provide skill building opportunities that are just-in-time for on-the-job application.

Real leadership stems from character and the thing with character is that it can’t be developed in a couple of days… no matter how well the material is delivered. When I mentioned above that most courses are a ‘fantastic cerebral hit’ I wasn’t exaggerating. Intellectually they are very stimulating but that’s the problem.

You see, most people know the competencies of great leaders but very few know how to develop those traits that makes them stand apart. If it was as simple as understanding these traits we’d all be leaders but unfortunately this is not the case. It’s not the case because the area of the brain that is involved in, say, developing empathy (a core leadership attribute), is different from the area that is used to understand an intellectual task, such as risk analysis.

A large part of your leadership development should be on creating awareness, developing rapport, influencing and active listening skills.

Developing leadership competencies takes longer, it takes practice and it is largely a personal journey of understanding yourself, your fears and what makes you tick.

Sending employees on a two or three day training course is largely a ‘tick the box’ exercise for most organisations (merely an output) that rarely delivers on helping your people transform into great leaders… the real outcome.

Emotional Intelligence involves the circuitry of the brain that runs between the executive centres (prefrontal cortex) and the limbic system, which governs feelings, impulses and drives. Skills based in the limbic areas, research shows, are best learned through motivation, extended practice and feedback. The limbic brain is a much slower learner [than the neocortex used in intellectual learning] particularly when the challenge is to relearn deeply ingrained habits.

This difference matters immensely when trying to improve leadership skills: At their most basic level, those skills come down to habits learned early in life. If those habits are no longer sufficient, or hold a person back, learning takes longer. Re-educating the emotional brain for leadership learning, therefore, requires a different model from what works for the thinking brain: It needs lots of practice and repetition (Boyatzis, Goleman, & McKee, 2002). That’s why standard two or three day leadership training courses don’t develop true leadership skills.

“Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.” ~ Harold Geneen

Are you going to continue to be a follower and send your people on the same old “trusted” leadership courses or are you going to be a leader and try something new? Something that will make all the difference!

Do you trust that you have leadership skills in you now or will you rely on a training course to tell you what they are? Are you going to step up and trust yourself… and surprise yourself?

#3: Focussing only on the intellectual competencies…

Management is largely about the ‘head’; it’s planning and control, systems processes, problem solving, written communications, and so on and it’s really important for organisations to have people who excel at these functions. There’s no doubt that in order to be competent at any of the above there is a certain level of intelligence (IQ) needed. However, this is management.

Leadership, on the other hand, is all about the heart; it’s feelings, it’s emotions, it’s connectedness, our sense of respect and values. It’s about being aware of ourselves and being able to understand others. These competencies are much more intangible and are often referred to as ‘soft-skills’… they’re called this because they’re much harder to grasp. People who exhibit these skills generally have a high Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Real leaders, and people who are, in general, happier in life, have a high level of EQ. An example of some of the research on the importance of EQ as a predictor of success is the Sommerville study, a 40 year longitudinal investigation of 450 boys who grew up in Sommerville, Massachusetts. Two thirds of the boys were from welfare families, and one-third had IQ’s below 90.

However, IQ had little relation to how well they did at work or in the rest of their lives. What made the biggest difference was childhood abilities such as being able to handle frustration, control emotions, and get along with other people (Snarey & Vaillant, 1985 cited by C. Cherniss, 2000).

Measure key soft-skills in all performance reviews – the application and measurement of these will be different for leaders and for staff.

If we are to manage things and lead people we must be able to deal with the whole person but firstly we must be able to deal with ourselves, to manage our thoughts and our emotions. We must learn to ‘respond’ rather than react. The very word [empathy] seems unbusinesslike, out of place amid the tough realities of the marketplace… Rather, empathy means taking employee’s feelings into thoughtful consideration and then making intelligent decisions that work those feelings into the response (Boyatzis, Goleman, & McKee, 2002).

To help develop leadership competencies within an organisation is it importantValues-Road-Sign to measure the softer skills and adherence to organisational values in a similar manner to the harder skills that normally determine the objectives of a role.

What are your organisational values and what are the behaviours associated with these? How can they be measured and, if an employee is not living up to them, what professional development is available to them?

It is not possible to leave our emotions at the door when we walk into the office. Human beings are emotive creatures and the decisions we make are largely driven by the emotional centres of the brain. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has shown that it is impossible to make a purely intellectual decision without involving those areas that are associated with “gut” responses, empathy and emotional intelligence (Caceda, Gilkey, & Kilts, 2010).

If people do not share a common vision, and do not share a common business reality in which they operate, empowering people will only increase warning-sign11organisational stress and the burden of management to maintain coherence and direction (Senge, 1992). Deepening awareness of personal and corporate ethics and values will enable managers to make decisions and take actions in a consciously principled manner. It is increasingly important that managers model ethics and values to reinforce the organization’s standard of conduct. (Orr, & Sack, 2009).

“Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration-of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.” ~ Lance Secretan, Industry Week, October 12, 1998

How can you become more ’emotionally intelligent’ in your work environment? What simple steps can you take to draw out the best in your people… and in yourself?

How can you become more in tune with your employees’ emotions? How can you help them overcome a challenging time they might be facing to enable to move past it and perform at their best?

#4: Not having a clear development plan for each leader…

For most people who want to develop their career they would look at the qualifications needed to excel in that role. For example, if I was a junior project manager I might focus on getting a PRINCE2 qualification or work towards gaining the points needed to sit the Project Management Institute (PMI) exam and gain accreditation. However, what does a development plan look like for a leader?

“Self-development correlates with performance and potential at the manager level though it is not perceived to be important. Being skilled at self-development involves a strong commitment to self-improvement and active effort toward using strengths and making up for weaknesses. Managers tend to be average at this, and we know that it is moderately difficult to develop. However, the simple act of acknowledging the value of self-development can provide managers with more opportunities to put this critical skill into practice” (Orr, & Sack, 2009).

Because leadership is primarily associated with honing our soft-skills the approach is a little different. Firstly, as mentioned above, developing leadership competencies is largely a personal journey. There are five steps to this process and I would like to concentrate on the first two in this section of the paper.

The first step on the journey is to create a vision of what type of leader we want to be. What are the attributes, the competencies, the characteristics and the behaviours we want to exhibit? The next step is to develop an accurate awareness of our strengths and our development opportunities… and this is where most people fall down. As human beings, we are very unconscious to ourselves and often have a skewed picture of who we think ourselves to be and who others think we are. Our delusions become a serious liability when we need to change (Goldsmith, & Reiter, 2007). A study of CEOs of health services companies by Eric Harter, CEO of Health Care Partners in Lexington, Kentucky, found that self-awareness of leadership abilities was greatest for CEOs of the best performing companies and poorest for CEOs of the worst performers (Boyatzis, Goleman, & McKee, 2002). The decisions made by self-aware people generally mesh with their values and therefore, they more often find their work energizing (Boyatzis, et al, 2002).

So how do we develop a deeper awareness of ourselves? Under normal circumstances it’s difficult because our subconscious, our ego(s), protect us from anything that may challenge our sense of identity. Change rarely comes from hearing harsh feedback from our boss, it rarely comes from being passed over for promotion. To create lasting change, awareness needs to come from within ourselves and developing such an awareness (and being able to take on feedback) is half the battle to becoming a truly great leader.

Therefore, every leadership development programme must involve a heavy component of creating self-awareness in the individual before any lasting change can occur.

“Absolute identity with one’s cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership” ~ Woodrow Wilson

Does your leadership development plan include improving on the critical areas of leadership such as self-awareness? Are leadership competencies part of your (and your team’s) performance measurements? What do these look like?

How do take on feedback? Do you recognise the different types of feedback you are receiving? Some are more subtle than others… Are you aware of your values and do these align with your organisation?

# 5: Leadership strategy is not aligned with business strategy…

The biggest impact on both an organisation’s current business strategy and on the business futures it needs to create is the way a leader leads his/her team… and the way his/her successor leads their teams (Berger, Carrasco, Madala, & Painter, 2011).

There needs to be a very clear vision for the organisation and every leader should be able to articulate that vision and the strategy proposed to achieve it. Every leader should be able to demonstrate how what they are doing on a day to day basis moves the organisation a little closer to achieving its strategy.

Every team member should also know how, by what they do, they contribute to the overall benefit of the team and the organisation. They should know that they are more than a cog in the wheel and that what they do is important. It’s more than about ‘punching the clock’ at the beginning and the end of a day; it’s about contributing and having a sense of satisfaction in what they do.

And finally, organisations should have a clear picture of what their business strategies should be in 1, 3 or even 15 years out and identify the skills and leadership traits that will be needed a) to get there and b) to maintain momentum and continued growth when it does get there.

According to Orr and Sack (2009), “Creativity and Innovation Management are two skills that we know correlate with high performance, but these have decreased in both skill and perceived importance since 2003. In order to be competitive, it’s time to move out of crisis management and begin to value innovation and the creative process once again. These skills won’t be luxuries – they will be critical success factors and possibly a matter of survival for organizations in the next couple of years.”

How is your organisation preparing for the future?

Guest Post

By Cillin David Hearns

Cillin has experience in a range of industries – Fitness, Sports therapy, Government, Industrial, IT Consulting, and Banking. In every industry he has gravitated towards the human side of business – coaching and mentoring colleagues and project teams, sparking his move to start Setanta Consulting.

When it comes to coaching and mentoring, Cillin sees himself as both the scientist and the subject trying out new ideas and approaches to change himself before sharing his findings with clients. He is a student of psychology and continually seeks out the latest technologies in performance coaching and behavioural change to best meet the needs of his clients. Cillin has completed two Ironman events, holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate and has won several European martial arts titles, so he knows what it takes to achieve goals – both personally and professionally.

Using the Babcock Coaching Methodology, Cillin’s approach to coaching is determined largely by the needs of his clients. Immersing himself completely, Cillin walks alongside those he engages to fully understand the challenges they are facing and tailors his approach to ensure the very best outcomes.

Your Blueprint to Create the Perfect Content Marketing Strategy

Creating content can feel discouraging.

For instance, you might spend hours producing something that’s amazing, only to get little engagement, traffic, or leads. What’s more, later, you’ll have to explain that ROI to your boss — talk about a dreadful workday.

If you’re feeling frustrated or burnt out with your content creation process, you’re in luck. Here, we’ve created a complete blueprint to a successful content marketing strategy.

Plan your content for every persona and stage of the buying cycle. [Free Content Mapping Template]

In this post, I’ll walk you through the different aspects of the content blueprint and why each facet is so important for marketers to include in an overall strategy. For more information on content marketing strategies, we’ve created a content marketing workbook that’s free to download.

Otherwise, let’s dive into creating a content marketing strategy that will bring you that ROI you’re looking to earn.

How to Develop and Implement a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

We’re going to look at three different stages that make up the blueprint. These stages will outline the main steps you can take to create your strategy. Then, we’ll go into depth with details about making that happen.

Let’s start with step one — getting decision-makers on-board with your strategy.

Stage 1: Getting buy-in from your stakeholders in order to green light your strategy.

All great content marketing plans start with getting people within the company to buy into your vision — basically, the people who can give you the resources, budget, or information that’s required to make your plans a successful reality.

For example, internal customer-facing teams, such as customer support, can share their expertise and help fuel your content creation efforts. Because they have regular contact with customers, they’ll know some of your audience’s biggest challenges or what they care most about — which comes in handy when you need to create content those customers care about.

Additionally, your marketing team likely has a limited budget. To implement certain strategies and forgo others, it’s vital you’re able to get leadership on board with your vision.

To make this happen, you’ll need a pretty awesome pitch. Generally, this pitch should do three things:

1. Talk about key challenges you will solve with your strategy.

You’ll want to give an overview of the key challenges your content marketing plan will solve. Instead of complicating this step with an overload of data points, keep it simple and concise. Summarize your key challenges in just a couple of charts so it’s more comprehensive.

For example, in this chart below, the marketer’s key challenge is that their overall CPL (cost per lead) is being inflated by the amount of money they are spending to acquire leads through paid programs.

example of CPLBy implementing a solid content strategy, CPL can be reduced. Notice how this chart states the need for a strategy, presents key supporting data, and makes that information easy to comprehend.

2. Talk about how your strategy will relate to business metrics.

Try to always keep your audience in mind. Senior management will be focused on cost and revenue. How can your marketing strategy help with those metrics?

In the example above, the answer is clear: Reducing the CPL reduces the cost it takes to acquire a customer, which can increase profit down the road.

When you present your pitch to decision makers, make sure to outline how reaching your goal will also help reach the greater goals of your business.

3. Give high-level details on your strategy to achieve these goals.

Finally, you might consider talking through how your content strategy is going to help solve these key challenges and influence those business metrics. You can use this template generator to help you organize your ideas. The goal of this step is to prove to senior-level management that you’ve thought through your plan and what resources you need to make it a reality.

Now, you’ve created your pitch and you’re ready to present to upper-level management. Remember, this pitch will help you convince the right people that your content marketing strategy will be successful.

You should have a pitch before you begin planning your content strategy because you’ll stakeholders will be aware of what campaign you plan to run to achieve your business goals. However, while you don’t need to fully develop your strategy until you get support from leadership, it’s still critical you spend time reviewing metrics and making a tentative game-plan for when you do develop the strategy.

Next, we’re going to talk about how to develop that aforementioned winning strategy.

Stage 2: Develop your content strategy.

In a HubSpot report, it was found that 56% of survey respondents said they were doing content marketing without a plan. Content creation can definitely be difficult, but having a content plan helps. It takes into account key challenges, business goals, and metrics, which will make you more successful in the long term.

Let’s talk about what a winning content strategy should include.

1. Include the buyer personas you are targeting.

At HubSpot, we align content around different buyer personas. This allows us to stay really focused on for whom we’re creating content. We keep our buyer personas’ goals and challenges in mind so we can address these at each stage of the buying process.

As an example, here is a persona I’ve built for a company software company that provides tools that streamline day-to-day business processes, offers inbound marketing courses, and makes reporting easier.

Meet “Marketing Macy”:

Marketing Macy persona

To make this persona, I used a free persona builder that made the process incredibly fun. In addition, I was able to point out exactly how to connect with a target audience by identifying why they would love a company and what challenges they were looking to solve.

To create content that’s going to be relevant to Macy at each stage of the buying cycle, we’ve included key information about her goals, challenges, and why she would love a company that offers CRM and CMS software. Knowing an ideal target customer like Macy makes it easier to connect with them.

2. Understand where the content gaps are in your buying cycle.

Make sure you understand where the content gaps are in the buying cycle for your buyer personas. To achieve this, you should conduct a content audit. Additionally, ask yourself if your buyer persona has the information they need at each point of the buying cycle.

For example, at HubSpot, content is created that attracts Mary to our site and helps her evaluate our software based upon what we know about her goals and challenges. We then ask ourselves if she has everything necessary to feel confident in purchasing our product based on those goals and challenges.

If you identify those gaps, you can focus on making sure that content is in your strategy. For instance, let’s say that you have a gap in content for the evaluation stage. Identifying that is the first step in creating helpful content for that stage.

Next, we’ll talk about how to create and push the content that will bridge those gaps.

3. Create relevant content ideas and stick to an editorial calendar.

Once you have identified your personas and understand what content you need to move them through the buyer process, it’s time to brainstorm content ideas to fill in those holes.

When you understand to whom you’re marketing, it can be easier to come up with relevant content. To ease the process further, check out our post about how to map out content. Ultimately, though, make sure every piece of content you create is engaging, delightful, and created with intent.

Ask yourself during the creation process if your content achieves those three things. Let’s look at this social media post as an example:

This post is engaging because it includes a graphic that attracts the attention of audiences. It’s delightful, because the graphic and supporting copy are easy to comprehend and uses emojis to illustrate a point. Additionally, it’s created with the intent to provide value to customers who may be looking for remote working tips.

Creating content is half the battle, though. Another thing to figure out is when to schedule the publishing of that content so it gets seen by the right people and is delivered consistently.

That is why all great content plans have an editorial calendar so that people within the company can see what content is being published and what dates that content is going live. Editorial calendars keep teams in sync and organized — as far as visual workflows go, it’s a necessity.

When you’ve identified your persona, created content for them, and have finalized a calendar-based schedule, this stage is complete. The next stage is to figure out the publishing details.

Stage 3: Determine a publishing plan for your content strategy.

One of the biggest shifts in marketing today is transforming our mindset from that of a traditional marketer to that of a publisher. Sometimes, as marketers, we think in terms of immediate wins, which is why we tend to prioritize our ad budget for paid media. We invest a certain amount of spend in return for an approximate number of leads and customers.

Moving to a publisher model means investing more upfront to start creating content assets that will have a far greater impact over a longer period of time. For example, the HubSpot blog generates most of its traffic from blog posts not published in that month. This is because the content we’ve created in the past has long-term value for the company in both the leads and customers they generate each month.

A lot of companies talk themselves out of publishing before they even get started due to a lack of immediate resources. However, a content team of one can be successful if they know how to source content effectively.

Here are two tips to keep in mind to become a publishing rockstar:

1. Think about scaling your content by repackaging in several formats.

Consumers today connect with brands across different channels, whether that be on social media, through email marketing, or on your website. When developing a new piece of content, think about how you can repurpose that content into various formats.

For example, if you’ve developed a series of blog posts, such as a series about customer retention, you could turn them into a comprehensive customer service ebook.

2. Make sure the quality of your content always remains high.

Whether you’re creating a single piece of content a week or several pieces a day, the quality of your content should always remain extremely high if you want it to pay off in the long run.

Creating an editorial checklist will help you manage this process. With a checklist, you can quickly check each piece of content for quality issues and educate your team on what it takes to publish content for your company.

In HubSpot’s content blueprint, you’ll find a range of templates that make scaling content really easy and provides an intuitive, ready-made editorial checklist.

Stage 4: Promote your content early and regularly.

So, you know about your target audience and you’ve created content specifically tailored to them. The task now is how to distribute that content to your audience effectively.

The key to effective distribution is to increase the number of distribution channels, such as blogs, email, and social properties. Additionally, you have to expand the reach of that content to a broader audience.

Promotion is a critical part of a content blueprint and something marketers should think about at great length during their planning phase.

To become an expert at promotion, you should:

1. Make promotion an essential part of the planning process.

When my team is planning out a content campaign, we put as much thought into the distribution of that content as we do into the campaign development. We want to know who that content is for and how can we make sure they get it.

For instance, if you are distributing content on social media platforms, discuss in great length how to prioritize budget, posting schedule, and using the tools offered by social channels to expand the reach of your content.

2. Make sure your team is equipped with promotional skills.

Being able to promote content to the right audience isn’t an easy job. Over time, the skills to distribute content effectively will be critical to long-term success.

If you want to learn more about how you can be effective at promoting your content, we have lots of information on outreach, seeding your content, and even the best way to repackage it for different networks to increase its exposure right inside — you’ve guessed it —our content blueprint.

Sometimes, learning the proper promotional skills comes with trial and error. You have to figure out what your audience responds to the most. For instance, you can create an A/B test with the content you want to push on social channels to see what types of messaging your audience prefers.

Additionally, you can experiment with multiple content types to get a gauge of what targeted content really resonates with your audience. To get an idea, check out what your competition is doing, and what works for them. You can also do some social listening to observe the patterns in web behavior of your target customers.

How are you doing with your content strategy so far in 2020? Where do you hope to improve your content marketing the most this year? With this guide, you’ll be fully prepared to take on the world of content marketing, and do it successfully.

Guest Post

By Kieran Flanagan

Kieran Flanagan has a proven track record in helping SaaS businesses, from start-ups to enterprise-level grow their traffic, users and revenue. He is a thought leader on growth marketing and speaks at events across the globe on the topic. For more frequent updates follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Inaction = Action

Inaction is ACTION. Start being responsible.

As adults we are responsible for the things we do.

We are also responsible for the things we don’t do.

We need to be more black and white and less superfluous about our attitude towards inaction.

Inaction is a conscious decision.

Inaction to..

Not start a project…

Not go to the gym…

Not spend time with our significant other…

May seem like a low gravitas decision or a “neutral” decision.

But what if the situation carried more weight?

Would turning a blind eye to a child being abducted in the park or choosing “inaction” still be something we’d take so lightly?

Of course not.

Even though most of us will never be in the second scenario, the example still highlights a very important point.

Inaction is still action.

Not doing is still doing something.

Let that lesson guide everything you do, and know that whatever you choose not to do.

The outcome of the inaction (aka action) is still your responsibility.

Agree? Support & comment #action in the comments below.

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What do employers ask YOUR references?

What do employers ask YOUR references?

Reference checks are the finish line..

The final step before you can start your new job.

With so much transition recently, there’s a good chance you should be refreshing your reference list.

But when you reach out to chat with your references, you may have no idea what questions your new employer may ask.

Here’s a quick list to help you both prepare and make the check go as smooth as possible.

1. Would you rehire the person (and why)?

2. How did the person handle pressure, stress & conflict?

3. How did the person contribute to the culture?

4. What was her/his position? Can you describe the job responsibilities?

A true reference check is less about the day to day job you did (hard skills) and more about your ability to contribute to the new organization.

Recruiters are well aware that named references will give positive feedback.

It’s the recruiters job to dig through that and find out how successful the new person will be in the new position – regardless of the positive feedback the reference will give.

Prep these questions.

Increase the chances of leaving the recruiter with a good feeling, when they get off the phone with your reference.

Thoughts? Comment below.👇

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