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How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template

Earning the trust of prospective customers can be a struggle. Before you can even begin to expect to earn their business, you need to demonstrate your ability to deliver on what your product or service promises.

Sure, you could say that you’re great at X or that you’re way ahead of the competition when it comes to Y. But at the end of the day, what you really need to win new business is cold, hard proof.

One of the best ways to prove your worth is through a compelling case study. In fact, HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report found that case studies are so compelling that they are the fifth most commonly used type of content used by marketers.

Below, I’ll walk you through what a case study is, how to prepare for writing one, what you need to include in it, and how it can be an effective tactic. To jump to different areas of this post, click on the links below to automatically scroll.

Case Study Definition
Case Study Templates
How to Write a Case Study
How to Format a Case Study
Business Case Study Examples

Case Study Definition

A case study is a specific challenge a business has faced, and the solution they’ve chosen to solve it. Case studies can vary greatly in length and focus on several details related to the initial challenge and applied solution, and can be presented in various forms like a video, white paper, blog post, etc.

In professional settings, it’s common for a case study to tell the story of a successful business partnership between a vendor and a client. Perhaps the success you’re highlighting is in the number of leads your client generated, customers closed, or revenue gained. Any one of these key performance indicators (KPIs) are examples of your company’s services in action.

When done correctly, these examples of your work can chronicle the positive impact your business has on existing or previous customers and help you attract new clients.

Case Study Templates

To help you arm your prospects with information they can trust, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to create effective case studies for your business with free case study templates for creating your own.

And to give you more options, we’ll highlight some useful templates that serve different needs. But remember, there are endless possibilities when it comes to demonstrating the work your business has done.

1. General Case Study Template

Starting off with a straightforward, generic template can be a great foundation for your case study. With this first template, your business can elaborate on any solution provided to a satisfied customer — from their background, to what led to them doing business with you, to the results they’ve seen.

Along with the simplistic design of this template, each section is clearly distinct and outlines the type of information or direction to take to tell you and your customer’s story better. And for added benefit, when you download this template you’ll find bracket prompts for ideation and instructions to follow as you fill it in.

2. Data-Driven Case Study Template

For those looking to show off objective and numeric solutions, HubSpot’s Data-Driven template is a great template to work with. It’s structured to highlight the most notable achievement metrics that a specific customer has seen with your product and/or service.

As you work through this template, you’ll find similar bracketed prompts and sections as the generic template — but with more eye-catching visual cues for your customer’s success points to be properly showcased.

3. Product Specific Case Study Template

Do you have a specific product or service that you’re trying to sell, but not enough reviews or success stories? This Product Specific case study template will help.

This template relies less on metrics, and more on highlighting the customer’s experience and satisfaction. As you follow the template instructions, you’ll be prompted to speak more about the benefits of the specific product, rather than your team’s process for working with the customer.

4. Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template

You can find templates that represent different niches, industries, or strategies that your business has found success in — like a bold social media business case study template.

In this template, you can tell the story of how your social media marketing strategy has helped you or your client through collaboration or sale of your service. Customize it to reflect the different marketing channels used in your business and show off how well your business has been able to boost traffic, engagement, follows, and more.

5. Lead Generation Business Case Study Template

It’s important to note that not every case study has to be the product of a sale or customer story, sometimes they can be informative lessons that your own business has experienced. A great example of this is the Lead Generation Business case study template.

If you’re looking to share operational successes regarding how your team has improved processes or content, you should include the stories of different team members involved, how the solution was found, and how it has made a difference in the work your business does.

Now that we’ve discussed different templates and ideas for how to use them, let’s break down how to create your own case study with one.

1. Get started with case study templates.

Telling your customer’s story is a delicate process — you need to highlight their success while naturally incorporating your business into their story.

If you’re just getting started with case studies, we recommend you download HubSpot’s Case Study Templates we mentioned before to kickstart the process.

2. Determine the case study’s objective.

All business case studies are designed to demonstrate the value of your services, but they can focus on several different client objectives.

Your first step when writing a case study is to determine the objective or goal of the subject you’re featuring. In other words, what will the client have succeeded in doing by the end of the piece?

The client objective you focus on will depend on what you want to prove to your future customers as a result of publishing this case study.

Your case study can focus on one of the following client objectives:

Complying with government regulation
Lowering business costs
Becoming profitable
Generating more leads
Closing on more customers
Generating more revenue
Expanding into a new market
Becoming more sustainable or energy-efficient

3. Establish a case study medium.

Next, you’ll determine the medium in which you’ll create the case study. In other words, how will you tell this story?

Case studies don’t have to be simple, written one-pagers. Using different media in your case study can allow you to promote your final piece on different channels. For example, while a written case study might just live on your website and get featured in a Facebook post, you can post an infographic case study on Pinterest and a video case study on your YouTube channel.

Here are some different case study mediums to consider:

Written Case Study

Consider writing this case study in the form of an ebook and converting it to a downloadable PDF. Then, gate the PDF behind a landing page and form for readers to fill out before downloading the piece, allowing this case study to generate leads for your business.

Video Case Study

Plan on meeting with the client and shooting an interview. Seeing the subject, in person, talk about the service you provided them can go a long way in the eyes of your potential customers.

Infographic Case Study

Use the long, vertical format of an infographic to tell your success story from top to bottom. As you progress down the infographic, emphasize major KPIs using bigger text and charts that show the successes your client has had since working with you.

Podcast Case Study

Podcasts are a platform for you to have a candid conversation with your client. This type of case study can sound more real and human to your audience — they’ll know the partnership between you and your client was a genuine success.

4. Find the right case study candidate.

Writing about your previous projects requires more than picking a client and telling a story. You need permission, quotes, and a plan. To start, here are a few things to look for in potential candidates.

Product Knowledge

It helps to select a customer who’s well-versed in the logistics of your product or service. That way, he or she can better speak to the value of what you offer in a way that makes sense for future customers.

Remarkable Results

Clients that have seen the best results are going to make the strongest case studies. If their own businesses have seen an exemplary ROI from your product or service, they’re more likely to convey the enthusiasm that you want prospects to feel, too.

One part of this step is to choose clients who have experienced unexpected success from your product or service. When you’ve provided non-traditional customers — in industries that you don’t usually work with, for example — with positive results, it can help to remove doubts from prospects.

Recognizable Names

While small companies can have powerful stories, bigger or more notable brands tend to lend credibility to your own. In fact, 89% of consumers say they’ll buy from a brand they already recognize over a competitor, especially if they already follow them on social media.

Switchers

Customers that came to you after working with a competitor help highlight your competitive advantage and might even sway decisions in your favor.

5. Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.

To get the case study candidate involved, you have to set the stage for clear and open communication. That means outlining expectations and a timeline right away — not having those is one of the biggest culprits in delayed case study creation.

Most importantly at this point, however, is getting your subject’s approval. When first reaching out to your case study candidate, provide them with the case study’s objective and format — both of which you will have come up with in the first two steps above.

To get this initial permission from your subject, put yourself in their shoes — what would they want out of this case study? Although you’re writing this for your own company’s benefit, your subject is far more interested in the benefit it has for them.

Benefits to Offer Your Case Study Candidate

Here are four potential benefits you can promise your case study candidate to gain their approval.

Brand Exposure

Explain to your subject to whom this case study will be exposed, and how this exposure can help increase their brand awareness both in and beyond their own industry. In the B2B sector, brand awareness can be hard to collect outside one’s own market, making case studies particularly useful to a client looking to expand their name’s reach.

Employee Exposure

Allow your subject to provide quotes with credits back to specific employees. When this is an option for them, their brand isn’t the only thing expanding its reach — their employees can get their name out there, too. This presents your subject with networking and career development opportunities they might not have otherwise.

Product Discount

This is a more tangible incentive you can offer your case study candidate, especially if they’re a current customer of yours. If they agree to be your subject, offer them a product discount — or a free trial of another product — as a thank-you for their help creating your case study.

Backlinks and Website Traffic

Here’s a benefit that is sure to resonate with your subject’s marketing team: If you publish your case study on your website, and your study links back to your subject’s website — known as a “backlink” — this small gesture can give them website traffic from visitors who click through to your subject’s website.

Additionally, a backlink from you increases your subject’s page authority in the eyes of Google. This helps them rank more highly in search engine results and collect traffic from readers who are already looking for information about their industry.

6. Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.

So you know what you’re going to offer your candidate, it’s time that you prepare the resources needed for if and when they agree to participate, like a case study release form and success story letter.

Let’s break those two down.

Case Study Release Form

This document can vary, depending on factors like the size of your business, the nature of your work, and what you intend to do with the case studies once they are completed. That said, you should typically aim to include the following in the Case Study Release Form:

A clear explanation of why you are creating this case study and how it will be used.
A statement defining the information and potentially trademarked information you expect to include about the company — things like names, logos, job titles, and pictures.
An explanation of what you expect from the participant, beyond the completion of the case study. For example, is this customer willing to act as a reference or share feedback, and do you have permission to pass contact information along for these purposes?
A note about compensation.

Success Story Letter

As noted in the sample email, this document serves as an outline for the entire case study process. Other than a brief explanation of how the customer will benefit from case study participation, you’ll want to be sure to define the following steps in the Success Story Letter.

7. Download a case study email template.

While you gathered your resources, your candidate has gotten time to read over the proposal. When your candidate approves of your case study, it’s time to send them a release form.

A case study release form tells you what you’ll need from your chosen subject, like permission to use any brand names and share the project information publicly. Kick-off this process with an email that runs through exactly what they can expect from you, as well as what you need from them. To give you an idea of what that might look like, check out this sample email:

8. Define the process you want to follow with the client.

Before you can begin the case study, you have to have a clear outline of the case study process with your client. An example of an effective outline would include the following information.

The Acceptance

First, you’ll need to receive internal approval from the company’s marketing team. Once approved, the Release Form should be signed and returned to you. It’s also a good time to determine a timeline that meets the needs and capabilities of both teams.

The Questionnaire

To ensure that you have a productive interview — which is one of the best ways to collect information for the case study — you’ll want to ask the participant to complete a questionnaire before this conversation. That will provide your team with the necessary foundation to organize the interview, and get the most out of it.

The Interview

Once the questionnaire is completed, someone on your team should reach out to the participant to schedule a 30- to 60-minute interview, which should include a series of custom questions related to the customer’s experience with your product or service.

The Draft Review

After the case study is composed, you’ll want to send a draft to the customer, allowing an opportunity to give you feedback and edits.

The Final Approval

Once any necessary edits are completed, send a revised copy of the case study to the customer for final approval.

Once the case study goes live — on your website or elsewhere — it’s best to contact the customer with a link to the page where the case study lives. Don’t be afraid to ask your participants to share these links with their own networks, as it not only demonstrates your ability to deliver positive results and impressive growth, as well.

9. Ensure you’re asking the right questions.

Before you execute the questionnaire and actual interview, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. A strong case study results from being prepared to ask the right questions. What do those look like? Here are a few examples to get you started:

What are your goals?
What challenges were you experiencing before purchasing our product or service?
What made our product or service stand out against our competitors?
What did your decision-making process look like?
How have you benefited from using our product or service? (Where applicable, always ask for data.)

Keep in mind that the questionnaire is designed to help you gain insights into what sort of strong, success-focused questions to ask during the actual interview. And once you get to that stage, we recommend that you follow the “Golden Rule of Interviewing.” Sounds fancy, right? It’s actually quite simple — ask open-ended questions.

If you’re looking to craft a compelling story, “yes” or “no” answers won’t provide the details you need. Focus on questions that invite elaboration, such as, “Can you describe …?” or, “Tell me about …”

In terms of the interview structure, we recommend categorizing the questions and flowing them into six specific sections that will mirror a successful case study format. Combined, they’ll allow you to gather enough information to put together a rich, comprehensive study.

Open with the customer’s business.

The goal of this section is to generate a better understanding of the company’s current challenges and goals, and how they fit into the landscape of their industry. Sample questions might include:

How long have you been in business?
How many employees do you have?
What are some of the objectives of your department at this time?

Cite a problem or pain point.

To tell a compelling story, you need context. That helps match the customer’s need with your solution. Sample questions might include:

What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution?
What might have happened if you did not identify a solution?
Did you explore other solutions before this that did not work out? If so, what happened?

Discuss the decision process.

Exploring how the customer decided to work with you helps to guide potential customers through their own decision-making processes. Sample questions might include:

How did you hear about our product or service?
Who was involved in the selection process?
What was most important to you when evaluating your options?

Explain how a solution was implemented.

The focus here should be placed on the customer’s experience during the onboarding process. Sample questions might include:

How long did it take to get up and running?
Did that meet your expectations?
Who was involved in the process?

Explain how the solution works.

The goal of this section is to better understand how the customer is using your product or service. Sample questions might include:

Is there a particular aspect of the product or service that you rely on most?
Who is using the product or service?

End with the results.

In this section, you want to uncover impressive measurable outcomes — the more numbers, the better. Sample questions might include:

How is the product or service helping you save time and increase productivity?
In what ways does that enhance your competitive advantage?
How much have you increased metrics X, Y, and Z?

10. Lay out your case study format.

When it comes time to take all of the information you’ve collected and actually turn it into something, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Where should you start? What should you include? What’s the best way to structure it?

To help you get a handle on this step, it’s important to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the ways you can present a case study. They can be very visual, which you’ll see in some of the examples we’ve included below, and can sometimes be communicated mostly through video or photos, with a bit of accompanying text.

Pro Tip: Even if you do elect to use a visual case study, it should still include all of this information, but be presented in its intended format

Whether your case study is primarily written or visual, we recommend focusing on the seven-part outline, below.

Title: Keep it short. Develop a succinct but interesting project name you can give the work you did with your subject.
Subtitle: Use this copy to briefly elaborate on the accomplishment. What was done? The case study itself will explain how you got there.
Executive Summary: A 2-4 sentence summary of the entire story. You’ll want to follow it with 2-3 bullet points that display metrics showcasing success.
About the Subject: An introduction to the person or company you served, which can be pulled from a LinkedIn Business profile or client website.
Challenges and Objectives: A 2-3 paragraph description of the customer’s challenges, before using your product or service. This section should also include the goals or objectives the customer set out to achieve.
How Product/Service Helped: A 2-3 paragraph section that describes how your product or service provided a solution to their problem.
Results: A 2-3 paragraph testimonial that proves how your product or service specifically benefited the person or company and helped achieve its goals. Include numbers to quantify your contributions.
Supporting Visuals or Quotes: Pick one or two powerful quotes that you would feature at the bottom of the sections above, as well as a visual that supports the story you are telling.
Future Plans: Everyone likes an epilogue. Comment on what’s ahead for your case study subject, whether or not those plans involve you.
Call to Action (CTA): Not every case study needs a CTA, but putting a passive one at the end of your case study can encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you’ve done.

To help you visualize this case study outline, check out the case study template below, which can also be downloaded here.

When laying out your case study, focus on conveying the information you’ve gathered in the most clear and concise way possible. Make it easy to scan and comprehend, and be sure to provide an attractive call-to-action at the bottom — that should provide readers an opportunity to learn more about your product or service.

11. Publish and promote your case study.

Once you’ve completed your case study, it’s time to publish and promote it. Some case study formats have pretty obvious promotional outlets — a video case study can go on YouTube, just as an infographic case study can go on Pinterest.

But there are still other ways to publish and promote your case study. Here are a couple of ideas:

Lead Gen in a Blog Post

As stated earlier in this article, written case studies make terrific lead-generators if you convert them into a downloadable format, like a PDF. To generate leads from your case study, consider writing a blog post that tells an abbreviated story of your client’s success and asking readers to fill out a form with their name and email address if they’d like to read the rest in your PDF.

Then, promote this blog post on social media, through a Facebook post or a tweet.

Published as a Page on Your Website

As a growing business, you might need to display your case study out in the open to gain the trust of your target audience.

Rather than gating it behind a landing page, publish your case study to its own page on your website, and direct people here from your homepage with a “Case Studies” or “Testimonials” button along your homepage’s top navigation bar.

Business Case Study Examples

You drove the results, made the connection, set the expectations, used the questionnaire to conduct a successful interview, and boiled down your findings into a compelling story. And after all of that, you’re left with a little piece of sales enabling gold — a case study.

To show you what a well-executed final product looks like, have a look at some of these marketing case study examples.

1. “Shopify Uses HubSpot CRM to Transform High Volume Sales Organization,” by HubSpot

What’s interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. This reflects a major HubSpot value, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why Shopify uses HubSpot and is accompanied by a short video and some basic statistics on the company.

Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it’s elaborated upon in the additional text on the page. So, while case studies can use one or the other, don’t be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project’s success.

2. “New England Journal of Medicine,” by Corey McPherson Nash

When branding and design studio Corey McPherson Nash showcases its work, it makes sense for it to be visual — after all, that’s what they do. So in building the case study for the studio’s work on the New England Journal of Medicine’s integrated advertising campaign — a project that included the goal of promoting the client’s digital presence — Corey McPherson Nash showed its audience what it did, rather than purely telling it.

Notice that the case study does include some light written copy — which includes the major points we’ve suggested — but lets the visuals do the talking, allowing users to really absorb the studio’s services.

3. “Designing the Future of Urban Farming,” by IDEO

Here’s a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, he or she is greeted with a big, bold photo, and two very simple columns of text — “The Challenge” and “The Outcome.”

Immediately, IDEO has communicated two of the case study’s major pillars. And while that’s great — the company created a solution for vertical farming startup INFARM’s challenge — it doesn’t stop there. As the user scrolls down, those pillars are elaborated upon with comprehensive (but not overwhelming) copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and additional visuals.

4. “Secure Wi-Fi Wins Big for Tournament,” by WatchGuard

Then, there are the cases when visuals can tell almost the entire story — when executed correctly. Network security provider WatchGuard can do that through this video, which tells the story of how its services enhanced the attendee and vendor experience at the Windmill Ultimate Frisbee tournament.

5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Boosts Social Media Engagement and Brand Awareness with HubSpot

In the case study above, HubSpot uses photos, videos, screenshots, and helpful stats to tell the story of how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used the bot, CRM, and social media tools to gain brand awareness.

6. Small Desk Plant Business Ups Sales by 30% With Trello

This case study from Trello is straightforward and easy to understand. It begins by explaining the background of the company that decided to use it, what its goals were, and how it planned to use Trello to help them.

It then goes on to discuss how the software was implemented and what tasks and teams benefited from it. Towards the end, it explains the sales results that came from implementing the software and includes quotes from decision-makers at the company that implemented it.

7. Facebook’s Mercedes Benz Success Story

Facebook’s Success Stories page hosts a number of well-designed and easy-to-understand case studies that visually and editorially get to the bottom line quickly.

Each study begins with key stats that draw the reader in. Then it’s organized by highlighting a problem or goal in the introduction, the process the company took to reach its goals, and the results. Then, in the end, Facebook notes the tools used in the case study.

Showcasing Your Work

You work hard at what you do. Now, it’s time to show it to the world — and, perhaps more important, to potential customers. Before you show off the projects that make you the proudest, we hope you follow these important steps that will help you effectively communicate that work and leave all parties feeling good about it.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2017 but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in July 2021.

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How to Create an Editorial Calendar in Google Calendar [Free Templates]

Whether you’re managing thousands of blog posts or a few dozen articles, you know that it’s imperative to have an editorial calendar to keep track of it all.

The good news is, there are a lot of great calendar tools out there you can choose from. In fact, for those of you who are HubSpot customers, there’s a marketing calendar built right into HubSpot’s software.

But one of the best editorial calendar options is Google Calendar. It includes features like repeat scheduling, syncing, and adjustable visibility so you can collaborate effectively with your team. Best of all, it’s completely free to use.

Intrigued yet? Here’s how to set up your editorial calendar using Google Calendar.

Follow Along With These Free Editorial Calendar Templates

Download the Template for Free

Step 1. Download HubSpot’s free editorial calendar templates.

Download Now

First thing’s first: Download the calendar templates above (they’re free.) By doing this, you’ll have three editorial calendar templates on your computer to use at your leisure: one for Google Calendar, one for Excel, and one for Google Sheets. In this blog post, we’ll be going over how to import the Excel template into Google Calendar.

Step 2. Customize your template and prepare for import into Google Calendar.

The publish dates on the templates you download will be stamped for a previous year.

Feel free to change them to the current year in the spreadsheet itself — you can also drag them to the dates of your choosing after uploading the file into Google Calendar.

Google Calendar makes it easy to load a calendar you might have pre-created in another program into Google. This includes Microsoft Excel. Next we’ll show you how to import the Excel calendar template you downloaded in the previous step into Google Calendar.

Step 3. Open Google Calendar.

Once you’ve downloaded (or created) a calendar that opens in Microsoft Excel, it’s time to open Google Calendar. Just make sure you’re already logged into the Gmail account you want this calendar to give access to.

Step 4. Use the left hand dropdown menu to create a new calendar.

Next, set up your Google Calendar to accommodate the information in your Excel spreadsheet. To do this, go into your Google Calendar and click the plus sign to the right of “Other Calendars,” as shown in the screenshot below. Then, in the dropdown menu that appears, select “Create new calendar.”

Step 5. Fill out the details of your new calendar.

Fill out the fields that appear on the next screen. This includes a brief description of your calendar, as shown below, to give people proper context when you invite them into this calendar. When you’re done filling in the details, click “Create calendar.”

Step 6. Import your XLS or CSV file from the same dropdown menu.

Using the same dropdown menu you used to create your editorial calendar, you’ll now import the Excel file itself into Google Calendar. Click that plus sign and select “Import.”

Click the upload box that reads “Select file from your computer,” and locate the file entitled “Blog Editorial Calendar – Excel” that was included in the ZIP file you downloaded in Step 1 above.

Step 7. Select which calendar to add this file to.

In the second box below your imported file, click the “Add to calendar” dropdown. Be sure to choose the calendar name you just created from the dropdown menu, as shown below. Then, click “Import.”

Step 8. Click Import.

Once you’ve uploaded your Excel file and selected the calendar you want to add this file to, click “Import.” You should see an Import calendar dialog box telling you that seven events were successfully imported. Click “Close.”

You can now change the dates of the first seven assignments in the original Excel document if you’ve not already done so. Navigate to the start of your calendar. Be sure all of your other calendars are temporarily hidden by clicking the colored box to the left of the calendar name.

For example, on the week of January 3, you should just see one “Blog TBD” calendar event on each day from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Use the edit window of each assignment to change the publish date. So, for instance, if you’re satisfied with the 10 a.m. publish time, you can simply change the date. Each assignment will then appear as event blocks in your monthly calendar view.

Step 9. Determine your publishing schedule.

Now that you have your calendar created, it’s time to fill it in with assignments for the year. This is when you have to make some decisions about your blog’s publishing schedule.

While the Excel file you imported accounts for one blog post per day, this doesn’t mean you need to publish seven days a week. You can choose to publish every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or perhaps you plan on posting on just Thursdays. Remember, the key to successful blogging is quality over quantity.

Don’t overcommit to a blogging schedule if the quality of your content will take a hit. How often your company should blog will vary depending on your business goals and resources.

If you decide to decrease the number of days you want to publish, click on the calendar event of that day and select “Delete.”

Even if you want to publish multiple times a day, updating this calendar is as easy as adding an event. Select a slot on your calendar to add another “Blog TBD” event and copy the default description from another one of the events you imported.

Next, it’s time for some minor adjustments. Currently, the “Blog TBD” events are set for 10 a.m. Feel free to move these events to whichever time your blog publishes content during the day.

Step 10. Set up recurring events.

Now that your publish dates and times are set, you can make these recurring events on your calendar.

If you have a regular publishing schedule, say every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00 a.m., you can put that in as a recurring “slot” on your calendar. It’s okay if you don’t have a piece of completed content — or even a working title — to put there yet. It’s just a reminder that you want to publish something that day.

To add your recurring slot, click on your first “Blog TBD” event and click the pencil icon to edit your event. This will take you to the details of the post, where you can create a custom recurring schedule for each assignment, as shown in the screenshot below.

You can set the post up as a recurring post, so it automatically appears every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00 a.m. (or whatever days and times you want).

Once you’ve selected the recurring days, hit “Done” and “Save,” and you’ll have an editorial calendar framework to work with.

For now, keep the event’s title as “Blog TBD,” but feel free to customize the description with any extra details you want to be sure you include for each post. Wait to invite any guest, as we’ll use this to assign posts to an author once you begin filling in your topics. With everything complete, click “Save.”

If you don’t have a recurring schedule like this, you might not need an editorial calendar just yet — but it is an excellent way to set goals for yourself. For example, if you know you want to publish a certain number of posts each week, even if you don’t hit every single slot, it’s a good reminder for yourself and your team that this is something you should all be striving for.

Step 11. Fill in your publishing slots.

Now that you know all of the slots you want to fill, you’ve got to actually fill them. (If you don’t have topic ideas yet, check out this free topic idea generator. It’ll give you some good ideas for content to put in the calendar.)

Let’s say one of the posts you want to write is “10 Surprising Facts About Tapirs,” and one of the posts you’ve already written and want to publish later is “Think You’re Cut Out to Own a Tapir? Read This First.” Just add them both to the calendar by clicking on “Post – TBD” on the correct date, choosing “Edit Event,” and then changing the “Post – TBD” text to the actual title of the post.

Now, let’s say you don’t want to write “10 Surprising Facts About Tapirs,” and you want your colleague to write it instead. To assign the post an author, you’ll invite them to the event as a guest. To do this, click on the event, hit “Edit Event,” then invite that colleague to the post by typing their name or email address into the “Add guests” box, selecting “Add” when their name pops up and hitting “Save” on the event once you’re done.

Now, anyone can see who is responsible for writing the post that’s going up in that time slot.

You can take it a step further by adding details to the “Description” box of the event, as shown in the large box in the screenshot above. You might include a quick synopsis, the keywords you plan to target the post for, the target audience you’re trying to reach, and the offer or CTA you will direct the reader to at the end of the post. Don’t forget to add the draft’s due date.

Before Google Calendar lets you save the event, you’ll see a dialog box asking if you would like to change just this event or all of the events in the series. Select “Only this event.”

Repeat these steps to assign each blog topic today and in the future.

Step 12. Share your editorial calendar with others.

Now that you have your calendar set up, you can invite people to see it. I’d recommend you start with your immediate team and regular contributors — as well as anyone who regularly asks you about publishing content on your company blog.

To share this editorial calendar with people, simply find your editorial calendar under “My Calendars,” as shown below. Click the three dots next to the calendar name and select “Settings and sharing” when it appears in the dropdown menu. You’ll be taken to the same screen when you first filled out the details of your editorial calendar in Step 2.

Then, you can add in the names of people with whom you’d like to share the calendar and set the right permission levels for each invitee.

It’s wise to keep those with the permission settings to manage changes and sharing to a minimum so there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen — but I recommend you let everyone see all event details, so it’s clear exactly what content is going up in each slot.

Under the “Share with specific people” heading, enter the email addresses of those on your content team and decide if they have viewing, editing, or admin privileges. Save your updated settings.

Why Using Google Calendar as an Editorial Calendar Works

Google Calendar has amazing features that will help you manage your editorial calendar. For starters, if you use Gmail for your corporate email, everyone that you work with will already be in Gmail (and their calendar, specifically) all day.

As a result, it won’t be hard for people to form a habit of checking the editorial calendar because it won’t be difficult for them to find it.

Google Calendar also makes things really easy to move around and schedule because, well, it’s already a calendar. It has all the functionality you need to schedule stuff out and let the people who need to know about it know.

Along those lines, allowing people to view your calendar is simple, making it easy for multiple teams to collaborate, see what’s being published, and figure out when they might launch content and campaigns.

Finally, this sets a precedent for other teams to coordinate with your team in a straightforward way. You can have a calendar for upcoming campaigns, offers, social media pushes, product launches — you name it. And you can all share those calendars for a single-screen view of everything that’s going on so you can coordinate more easily.

Are there other solutions for maintaining an editorial calendar? Of course. But if you’re looking for a free, not-too-shabby, minimum viable product, then Google Calendar is for you.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Write a Great Email Signature [+ Professional Examples]

Around the globe, more than 300 emails are sent and received each day, on average. That’s 300 opportunities to market yourself and your business in those individual emails you send.

A lot of people treat their email signatures like an afterthought, which is a big missed opportunity. Those signatures are a chance for you to make it clear who you are, make it easy for people to reach you, and give people a place to go to find out more — either about you, about your business, or about something you’re working on.

So, if you’re just putting your name and a point or two of contact information in your signature, you’re not taking full advantage of the opportunity to connect and engage with the people you’re emailing. So what exactly should go in your signature?

1. First and Last Name

Just like with snail mail correspondence, your name should always be included so that the recipient of your message knows who it was from. This manifests in the email signature, often as the first line of text.

2. Affiliation Info (Such as Job Title and Department)

Closely following your name should be your affiliation information. Your affiliations could include your job title, your company or organization, and/or even your department. Your name should eventually be its own draw, of course, as you build a relationship with the recipient, but providing this information provides more context about the conversation and your role in it.

In addition, affiliating yourself with a larger organization lends you more credibility, especially if it’s a recognizable organization. This helps you get the attention of your readers so they take your message seriously.

3. Secondary Contact Information

Secondary contact information is important, too, so that the recipient knows how else to contact you. Secondary information might include phone, fax, or any other method of communication you want to emphasize. In situations where you don’t want to cough up your direct line, you could take this opportunity to promote your personal website — a passive way to open the lines of communication without flooding yourself with outreach if you don’t want it.

4. Social Profile Icons

Your social media presence is a major part of your personal brand because it helps you gain a following in your space and shows people what you care about. You can tell a lot about a person by what they post and how they portray themselves.

That’s why it’s a great idea to include links to your social media pages in your email signature. It not only reinforces your personal brand, but it also helps people find new ways to contact and follow you.

Even better? It can help drive traffic to your online content if you’re posting links to that content on social media. So if you do include social icons in your signature, make sure you’re keeping your social profiles up-to-date and chock full of interesting, relevant content. (In other words, if you haven’t tweeted in six months, you may want to leave Twitter out.)

Why use social media icons instead of simply text links? Because icons are more easily recognizable for folks skimming your signature — and they’ll stand out from the rest of the text in there. According to research from NeoMam Studios, visuals shown in color increase a person’s willingness to read the rest of the content by 80%. That’s a huge advantage. Plus, icons are big space-savers in a place where you might be packing a lot of information.

Even if you have a presence on a lot of social media sites, though, try to cap the number of icons to five or six. Focus on the accounts that matter most to growing your business or building your personal brand.

If you do include a lot of social media icons, at least try to cut back on the other content if possible so your design isn’t too busy. Check out the example below, made using HubSpot’s Email Signature Generator.

5. Call to Action

One of the smartest things you can do in your email signature is include a call-to-action. The best email signature CTAs are simple, up-to-date, non-pushy, and in line with your email style, making them appear more like post-script, and less like a sales pitch. Choose a CTA that aligns with one of your current business goals, and update it when those goals change. Here’s an example of a HubSpotter’s email signature that includes a CTA for the HubSpot Podcast Network:

6. Booking Links

If you find yourself emailing back and forth with colleagues and clients who want to book meetings with you, make it easy for them by including a link to book your calendar right in your email signature. Here’s an example from our own Bryan Lowry, below.

There are many tools out there that’ll help people book appointments. Bryan from the example above uses HubSpot’s shareable personalized booking link. If you’re a HubSpot Sales customer, you can share your personalized meeting link with anyone who you want to book a meeting with and let them choose from your available times. If you want, you can make it so the HubSpot CRM automatically creates a new contact record for anyone who books a meeting if one doesn’t already exist.

If you aren’t a HubSpot customer, one great meeting tool is Calendly, which is free for Basic and lets you integrate your Google or Office 365 calendar. If you’re looking for a Calendly alternative, YouCanBook.me is another booking tool that goes for $7 per calendar per month.

7. Industry Disclaimer or Legal Requirements

Some industries such as legal, financial, and insurance have specific guidelines on email usage and etiquette to protect private information from being transmitted. For this reason, you may want to look into what regulations your industry has in place and include a disclaimer in your signature about email transmissions. Mail-Signatures offers a number of email disclaimer examples, including this one:

“The content of this email is confidential and intended for the recipient specified in the message only. It is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message with any third party, without a written consent of the sender. If you received this message by mistake, please reply to this message and follow with its deletion, so that we can ensure such a mistake does not occur in the future.”

8. Photo or Logo

An image is a great choice to spice up your email signature. If you want a personal touch so that recipients you’ve never met can associate your name with your face, consider using a professional photo in your signature. Alternatively, you can use the company’s logo to add more brand awareness to the email.

9. Pronouns

While not as common in email signatures and certainly not required, adding your preferred pronouns to your signature is helpful, especially when emailing individuals you’ve never met. It also takes ambiguity away if you have a name perceived as gender-neutral.

Now that you know the elements you should include, what does a great email signature look like? Here are some tips for creating signatures that are helpful and professional, including a few great examples.

1. Emphasize your name, affiliation, and secondary contact information.

As you might guess, your name comes first. Closely following your name, however, should be your affiliation and where else people can reach you.

Your affiliation could mean your job title, your company, your school, or a similar organization that you deem important to your recipients. Your name should eventually be its own draw, of course, but using a more popular brand name — and even its logo — ensures you get the attention of your readers and they take your message seriously.

Secondary contact information is important, too. You might not want to endorse your personal phone number, but you could take this opportunity to promote your personal website — a passive way to open the lines of communication without flooding yourself with outreach you don’t want.

Here’s a sample email signature that hits on all three things described above nicely. Kevin’s first and last name are accompanied by his affiliation with the University of Connecticut. He also promotes his personal website so his recipients have another outlet to see his work and contact him for more information.

Want to create a signature like the one below? Use HubSpot’s Email Signature Generator.

2. Keep the colors simple and consistent.

Branding is most effective when it’s consistent — and that includes your email signature. Adding color to your email signature is a nice touch that’ll help it stand out from the rest of your email. But if you do choose to use color, be sure to stick to one or two in addition to dark text.

Use subtle highlights to match your logo or branding, like Brittany Hodak does in her email signature, below. Notice how her social media icons are the same blue hue as the ZinePak logo.

3. Use design hierarchy.

Good design is all about presenting your information in an easily digestible manner. Because your email signature is likely more a list of information than it is a compelling story, you’ll want to use hierarchy to direct readers’ eyes to what they should be reading first.

Scale your name up to a larger font so that it attracts the most attention, like you would on a resume. Then, pick and choose information to bold and color based on importance so you can help guide people’s eyes logically through the design.

4. Make links trackable.

So you put a few links in your email signature, including your CTA and your social media icons. But is anyone actually clicking on them?

To figure out whether the links in your signature are actually attracting clicks and making an impact, you’ll want to make those links trackable — just like you would any other link in your emails.

Follow these instructions to easily make a tracking link that helps you attribute traffic to your website to your email signature. From time to time, you might switch up the format of your signature or the wording inside your signature to see what drives the most clicks.

5. Use space dividers.

Although you never want to jam-pack your email signature for too much information, there are ways to fit a lot of text into a compact area like this one without compromising design.

This is helpful for breaking up different types of information, like your name and contact information, your logo, any calls-to-action you have, or even a disclaimer.

Using space dividers within your design, as in the example below, is one great way to do this. You can also use glyph dividers, which is the vertical bar symbol (i.e., |.)

Image Source

6. Include an international prefix in your contact number.

If you work with people around the world, don’t forget the prefix for your country’s code when you list your contact phone number. Many people overlook this if they aren’t used to dialing international prefixes themselves, but it’s really helpful for your international colleagues and clients to have it right there. Here’s a list of country codes if you don’t know yours.

Here’s an example from Kit Smith, formerly of Brandwatch, a company that has offices in both the United States and Europe and works with international clients. Including the U.S. country code makes it easier for folks in other countries to reach him by phone.

7. Make your design mobile-friendly.

According to Truelist, over a third of professionals open emails on their phone making it a prime method of communication for business and professional matters.

The more people who read email on mobile devices, the more you’ll want to keep mobile users top-of-mind when you’re writing emails — including your email signature.

One major way to make your email signature mobile-friendly is to make your signature’s design easy to read and clickable for mobile users. This is where scale becomes really important. Make sure your text is large enough to read on small mobile screens, and that your links and buttons are large enough — and spaced out enough — for folks to tap on with their fingers.

Check out the example below, and note how much space there is between different clickable elements like the social media icons. These are great for tapping with your finger on a mobile screen so that users don’t accidentally tap on the Facebook icon when they meant to go to Twitter.

Image Source

8. Use an email signature generator.

If you’ve tried all of these steps and you’re still not happy with how your email signature turned out, don’t fret. These digital sign-offs can be tricky to get perfect. Try a free email signature generator to do the heavy lifting for you instead.

Rather than choosing the colors, fonts, and layout yourself, this generator gives you several combinations to choose from. Simply add your information, photos, and links. Then choose your colors. Once you’re satisfied with your email signature, you can add it to your email account right away.

9. Check your new email signature for quality.

Finally, as with any part of an email, make sure your signature looks as good as you think it does by testing it with various email clients. Microsoft Outlook doesn’t recognize background images, for example, so avoid using those. Other email clients don’t load images by default at all.

Best Professional Email Signature

The best professional email signature will be true to who you are both in and outside the workplace. Once you include the basic contact information, the rest of your email signature is a blank canvas for you to share a bit of personality with each professional email you send.

Armed with these email signature best practices, you can create your own signature that aligns with your brand and gives your emails a little extra umph.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How To Write Meta Descriptions

I’ll be the first one to admit it: the first time I wrote a blog post, I had a lot of new terminology to learn.

Specifically, I didn’t know the purpose of a meta description and why adding one to a blog post was so important. After all, wouldn’t Google highlight the most relevant part of my blog in search results? Not quite.

This post will show you why meta descriptions are important and how to write effective ones. Before all that, though, let’s discuss what a meta description is.

What is a meta description?

A meta description is the snippet of information below the blue link of a search result. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher.

Any words that match the search term are bolded in the description. The end goal is to convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website.

Here is an example of a meta description as it would show up on a search engine results (SERP) page:

Notice that, because the query is “What is inbound marketing?”, the two words are bolded in that meta description.

Also notice how the meta description gives a clear and concise snapshot of the topic, which signals to the reader what they can expect.

To remain visible within Google, you should keep your meta descriptions somewhere between 140-160 characters in length.

Why are meta descriptions important?

Meta descriptions are important because they let Google know what your webpage will be about. If Google can read and comprehend the content of your meta description, they will have an easier chance of ranking your page to answer search queries.

🧡 TL;DR: Meta descriptions increase organic traffic and bring more eyes to your webpages.

If you don’t include a meta description, Google will display a snippet of text from the first paragraph of your page. If there’s a search keyword in that text, it’ll be bolded. While this isn’t a bad thing, not including a meta description means missing out on the chance to personalize the message you deliver to browsers.

Meta Description Examples

Meta descriptions should be quick, one- to two-sentence summaries of the content within your web page. They should tell the reader what they can expect to find after clicking on your link. For example, here’s a meta description for a data-driven marketing report:

This meta description accurately describes what will be found in the report, who is presenting the information, and why the content will be helpful to readers. If browsers were typing in queries such as, “SEO trends in 2021,” it’s likely that this meta description will appear in their results.

Meta descriptions follow a few simple rules: They’re short, descriptive, and use keywords. But after that, you have free reign to play around with what they will say. Use this to your advantage when you’re creating your meta description:

If you know that your webpage will present content that’s usually considered a bit dry, the way to engage browsers is to make a compelling meta description, like the one above.

Readers often check only the first page of results for their search queries. Because of this, where you rank on a webpage matters. Even though meta descriptions aren’t the be-all, end-all that determines your rank, (you’ll want to fully optimize On-Page SEO for that), they sure do help.

A great meta description has the potential to appear on the first page of results, and a great one might even be first, like this example below:

The meta description told Google how their page will fix the challenge of the query.

Now, you may wonder if there’s a secret key or formula to writing a perfect meta description, besides the rules above.While the secret key hasn’t been located yet, there are some tips and tricks you can follow when writing your meta description. Let’s talk about a few, next.

Meta Description Tips

Google suggests that a meta description should tell users what that web page is about. Based on the information in a meta description, the search engine ranks results on relevancy.

Think of meta descriptions as a pitch for your webpage. Communicate why the page will be helpful to the reader, and make sure it accurately reflects what’s on the page. If a reader doesn’t find what the meta description promises, they’re probably going to click away.

Let’s get into some tips for writing an amazing meta description.

1. Answer the question.

It’s likely that people are on Google searching for an answer to a question. Try to get into their heads and think about what they’re looking for that your content can help with.

Use your meta description to answer that question with a solution or benefit. For example, let’s say your web page provides readers with a free template for writing standard operating procedures.

The question audiences will most likely Google is “What is an SOP?” Your meta description, then, should tell readers that they can use your guided template to learn how to write one. For instance, this would be my meta description if I were to write one to answer this query:

💻“Learn everything there is to know about writing a standard operating procedure (SOP), and find out how to write one that’s amazing.”

This meta description answers the question and provides a little detail about the rest of the contents of the post.

2. Mention a solution to the challenge.

Provide a solution to the challenge your readers are looking to solve. For instance, if you’re writing a blog post that’s a listicle roundup of helpful CRM software, mention how many items are in the post and why that post will be valuable to readers.

If I were to write a meta description for a roundup, in this case, I would go with something like this:

💻“Discover the 15 best CRM software options for your small business and learn why they’re great for simplicity, customer retention, and organization.”

Remember, meta descriptions are the elevator pitch of your page — sell the content of your post in a way that will get readers to click. This description tells readers how many options they will read about and why they’re important to know.

3. Keep the description concise.

The body of your page is where you’ll educate your audience, so the meta description doesn’t need to be lengthy. Provide a quick summary of the page — or the point of the page that will stand out to readers. Meta descriptions should be under 160 characters long.

A good way to check the length of a meta description is to draft a tweet. Twitter limits you to 280 characters and lets you know when you reach your limit:

If your description fills more than half of the circle in the tweet box, you should think about trimming it down. Meta descriptions should serve as a snapshot, not the body text of the post — save that for when the readers access your page.

4. Don’t overuse the keywords.

While your meta description should have keywords, it also should read naturally to the reader. If you overuse keywords just to get a high rank, readers might not understand your meta description. A tough-to-follow description could turn a browser away from your page.

For example, let’s say your webpage is delivering a content offer for interview materials and the primary keywords are “interview success,” “tips for great interviews,” and “interview preparation.”

You could write a meta description that reads along the lines of, “An interview success offer that’s free to download to be successful in preparing for interviews.” However, this reads a little clunky and is hard to follow, right? Instead, try going with something more smooth:

💻“Learn the tips and tricks for acing interviews with this downloadable job seeking kit.”

This description still uses two keywords but also makes sense to the reader and gives them the background information they need to know how that offer page will help them.

5. Be engaging and unique to readers.

If you can, make your meta descriptions fun and engaging to read. Something eye-catching that will stop the reader from scrolling through a SERP. This is especially helpful if your webpage content is meant to be engaging and unique.

Match the tone of the content in your meta. Let’s say the content for your webpage is a blog post about funny workplace memes. Your description of this could be straightforward and accomplish everything a meta description should, such as, “These 20 workplace memes are funny, timely, and shareable.”

A description like that covers all of your bases, but it leaves the personality out. The post sounds like it was fun and interesting to put together, so that shouldn’t stop with the body text! Instead, try this more compelling approach:

💻 “Brighten your work day with these fresh, fun memes that any professional can relate to. Cat videos, anyone?”

A description like that sells your content, tells readers what they can expect, and still manages to be interesting in just two sentences.

6. Entice readers with a call-to-action.

If you want to persuade the reader to take action — or create a sense of urgency — try tacking a call-to-action at the end of your description.

Let’s look at this example from Neil Patel:

There are plenty of CTAs to choose from — for example: Learn More, Sign Up Today, or Start a Free Trial. Context matters here, so choose one that works with the content you’re providing.

7. Avoid duplicate meta descriptions.

While Google won’t actively penalize you for duplicating the meta descriptions on your site, it’s still bad for SEO. Why? If you have too many identical descriptions, search engines may flag some of your content as low-quality or redundant, thus impacting your ranking.

Instead, make it meaningful, easy to understand, and descriptive — like it’s an elevator pitch for your blog post.

Back to You

Your meta description is your chance to win over readers. Be sure to create an engaging meta description for your website that persuades people to choose your content first. After all, if your webpages are made to be helpful and valuable to browsers, so should the content that’s describing it.

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11 of the Best Microsite Examples We’ve Ever Seen

They say the best things often come in small packages. Think about it: jewelry, books, the keys to a new car … all of these things support this notion. And with our attention spans shrinking below that of a goldfish, it should come as no surprise that we crave more focused content at a smaller scale, too.

Here’s where microsites come into play. Unlike regular websites, microsites tend to be simplistic and easier to navigate. This isn’t to say they won’t make you want to poke around for a while, though. In fact, the really great ones do just that. In this post, we’ll show you some great design examples of microsites in action.

What is a microsite?

A microsite is a web page or small website made to promote a company’s product, service, campaign, or event. Microsites typically use a different domain or subdomain from the main company website and include links back to the main website, but act as a separate entity for the brand.

Microsites can help brands achieve a number of things. As HubSpot Product Manager Alex Girard puts it, “You can use a website to create a digital experience for a number of different moments in the buyer’s journey. It doesn’t have to be just a corporate ‘.com’ website for converting visitors to leads. You can build digital experiences that span the entire customer journey.”

For example, many companies use them to highlight a specific campaign or target specific buyer personas. Others use them to tell a short story or to experiment with new types of branded content, or to spread to a new region. With a big event coming up, a company might launch a microsite to spread awareness and promote sign-ups.

Whatever the reason, the goal of a microsite is to engage visitors with a specific message, generate interest, and draw them to the business’s offerings.

1. Website Grader (HubSpot)

HubSpot Website Grader is a microsite to improve your website, for free. Paste in your site’s URL and your email address, and Website Grader will leverage Google Lighthouse’s automated assessment system to assign a grade to your website.

Website Grader calculates your grade based on four key factors — performance (how fast your website is), SEO, mobile, and security — each of which receives its own score. For each factor, Website Grader breaks down your site’s rating and suggests areas for improvement.

Along with its suggestions, Website Grader directs visitors to a HubSpot Academy course on increasing their website grade. If users need more guidance, they can click one of several CTAs on the assessment page to take the course.

2. Listening Together (Spotify)

Spotify knows how to make a microsite — its hugely popular Spotify Wrapped series began as a microsite and has since become a feature of its mobile app. In 2020, the streaming platform introduced a new microsite to support its Listening Together campaign.

The microsite features a spinning three-dimensional map of the Earth covered with pins. Each pair of pins represents two users pressing play on the same track at the same moment. When you click a pin, you can hear the song being played, making this microsite a means for discovering new music.

Overall, it’s the kind of microsite that only a brand like Spotify could pull off, a clever and heartwarming reminder of how music brings us together.

3. My Creative Type (Adobe)

Adobe’s software suite contains more than a couple of industry-standard tools for visual creatives. Beyond the well-renowned tools it makes, a big force behind Adobe’s success is the brand’s ability to align itself with customers through marketing. The microsite My Creative Type is a prime example.

On this microsite, visitors complete a short questionnaire to determine their “creative personality.” The 15 questions assess your thinking, behavior, and outlook, each followed by a playful video metaphor for the answer you give.

At the end, you’re given one of eight creative types (I got “the Maker”) and a description of your strengths, potential, motivations, and advice for pursuing creative goals. You can then download your type or share it on social media.

Though it’s not made entirely clear how empirically sound all of this is, it’s still a fun way to bring new aspiring artists into the fold.

4. Emojitracker (Emojipedia)

There’s no “point” to emojitracker.com. It was created by Matthew Rothenberg, former Head of Product at Flickr and Bitly, as an experiment to track all emojis used on Twitter in real-time. Now, it’s maintained as a microsite for Emojipedia.

The only calls-to-action on the site are some outgoing links at the very bottom. Otherwise, it’s just for pure interest. With no navigation bar or way to get to another site, it might actually confuse some visitors.

Emojipedia might break some rules of user interface design, but it also shows that microsites don’t need to have complicated designs and that a cool idea can get you pretty far. Make it simple enough to keep people on the page without taking up too much of their time.

5. Elf Yourself (OfficeMax)

I think it’s a rule that you can’t write about microsites without mentioning Elf Yourself, perhaps the most successful microsite of all time. Come the holiday season, expect your inbox to be rife with animations because Elf Yourself isn’t going away.

What made the site so popular in the first place? Well, it’s hilarious. Besides that, the content is easily shareable, the website is simple to use, and it makes the users the stars. You would hardly know this is a corporate-sponsored site.

OfficeMax used the microsite to be creative and let their freak flag fly, and actually pulled it off. The company focused its campaign on the consumers, not the brand — but the sales tie-in came at the end of the Elf Yourself videos in the form of coupons and promos.

6. Blue Heart (Patagonia)

Patagonia is one of the few exceptional brands that not only offers a top-tier customer experience, but goes above and beyond in its advocacy work. In a partnership with Farm League, the company created a microsite to draw attention to environmental harm caused by hydroelectric dams in the Balkan region.

Unlike most other microsites, the Blue Heart website does not include prominent CTAs directing visitors to the main Patagonia website. Instead, it places focus completely on the story being told with various elements: a short film, articles, and an interactive map.

It’s rare for brands to put out microsites of this quality — Blue Heart is an engaging, visually rich experience with a mission that goes far beyond generating leads for the business to serve a greater mission.

7. Inside CHANEL (Chanel)

Inside Chanel is a microsite that harnesses multimedia to educate visitors on the company’s history and heritage. The site houses a ton of short, social videos that chronicle the people, places, items, and events that have contributed to the continued success of this iconic fashion brand.

The purpose? “The strategy behind this microsite is to create some accessibility of Chanel’s history, but more importantly, their success throughout the years,” explains Dalia Strum, president of Dalia Inc.

We love their video-centric approach to visual storytelling. Each video pulls back the curtain and gives you an exclusive look at behind-the-scenes photos and stories as they pertain to different aspects of the brand — color, couture, and so on.

This site isn’t Chanel’s first stab at microsite creation. In fact, the brand has experimented with multiple microsite formats, including the editorial-style site Chanel News.

8. Xbox Museum (Microsoft)

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Xbox brand, Microsoft launched the microsite Xbox Museum, a virtual tour of its various consoles throughout the years.

This content-rich site is built around the significant events in Xbox’s history, including console launches, design plans, game releases, and more. You play as a character who navigates a virtual timeline, visiting articles marking each event.

It’s a unique and fitting way to celebrate such a huge milestone for the business, plus a way to capture the nostalgia of long-time fans and the interest of new ones.

9. Life at Home (Ikea)

2020 and 2021 marked a major shift in where and how we spend our time. To shed light on the intersection of mental health and living space, Ikea published a microsite of original research and ways to be happier at home.

Throughout the report, readers learn how our mental health, families, and communities have changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They emphasize the role of a comfortable living space and strong relationships in our mental well-being. Other cool elements include a map visualization, videos, and short questions posed to the reader.

Ikea’s microsite expertly connects the importance of safe living spaces and healthy relationships back to its branding, forming positive associations in the minds of visitors and bringing them closer to a purchase.

10. NASA Spacecraft (NASA)

Let’s be honest, spaceships are probably the coolest thing ever, and NASA knows this. That’s why they launched (pun intended) this microsite: to catalog all of its satellites, from its first in 1960 all the way until its most recent launch, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Each spacecraft has its own three-dimensional visualization that you can rotate and view from various angles, along with a brief description. It’s enough to reignite any kid’s (or adult’s) interest in space research and exploration.

11. Chipotle Farmers Market (Chipotle)

Fast casual dining favorite Chipotle wants you to know that its ingredients are sourced sustainably and ethically from family farms, so it launched a microsite dedicated to supporting them.

The Chipotle Farmers Market is a microsite that lists some of the company’s suppliers and links to their websites where you can purchase their products directly. The site is also a means to advertise the Seed Grants program, which gives $5,000 to 50 farmers under 40.

Microsite vs. Website

While microsites are often their own websites, there are a few things that differentiate them from what we usually call websites.

The main difference between a website and a microsite is its purpose. An organization’s website often does many things, including explaining its products or services, sharing its values and mission, and selling products. It’s the main place where visitors, leads, and customers go to learn or do business with you. It’s also probably built in order to drive conversions and encourage visitors to a purchase.

Microsites, on the other hand, could be made for a bunch of different reasons. As Girard explains, microsites are “smaller websites, separate from a company’s corporate website, that enable marketers to quickly build content for and report on the success of a specific initiative.” This initiative could be a campaign, a product launch, an event, or other way to draw in current and potential customers. Still, all microsites are usually focused on brand awareness or conversion. They also typically occupy a different domain or subdomain than the primary website.

Additionally, as their name implies, microsites are typically smaller than full company websites. As we saw in our examples, a microsite could range in size from one page to several, but almost always fewer pages than the main website it’s related to.

Microsite vs. Landing Page

Like microsites, landing pages are focused on a specific goal related to a marketing play. However, a landing page is not a website — it is a single web page within a website intended to inform visitors about an offering and drive conversions.

While landing pages feature minimal design to keep visitors focused on generating leads, microsites encourage exploration and engagement. Microsites aim to build positive connections between people and brands, so visitors are more likely to convert later in their journey.

Microsites: Small But Mighty

At least when it comes to websites, companies don’t like taking risks. The goal is to get visitors from landing to conversion to purchase as seamlessly and as quickly as possible. That’s why businesses spend so much of their resources on design and the user experience.

But, microsites aren’t a company’s main website — that’s the point. As a result, they’re some of the coolest projects on the internet. Microsites are a chance to experiment with new content, promote a unique message, do something offbeat, and, most importantly, create value for visitors.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Write Professional Yet Kind Rejection Letters [4 Templates]

It’s never easy notifying someone that they didn’t get the job.

This often leads to generic emails, or worse, complete silence – that’s where a rejection letter template can come in handy.

While it’s never fun to do it, there are kind yet professional ways to reject an applicant that preserve your employer brand.

How to Write a Rejection Letter

You might not think twice about a rejection letter once you send it. But the truth is, your rejection letter is a reflection of your company. If it’s poorly written, that leaves a negative impression of your company that could easily spread to other candidates.

This is why writing a thoughtful rejection letter is key. It allows you to maintain a good relationship with the applicant, even if they were not a good fit for a particular role. Who knows, you may want to circle back to them if another position opens up.

When that comes up, you want a candidate to be excited about the prospect of working with you – and how you communicate plays a pivotal role in this.

It’s critical you remain positive with your language and focus on language from the job description itself.

In addition, keep in mind that a rejection letter is a fantastic opportunity for the candidate to receive positive feedback and learn how to do better in the future. Consider how you can include specific and valuable feedback.

A rejection letter can be broken down into three sections:

Paragraph One

Your first paragraph should be completely personalized and include the applicant’s name and the position for which they applied. Next, thank the candidate for their interest in your company and for taking the time to interview.

Finally, it’s critical you tell the candidate within the first paragraph you’ve decided to move forward with another candidate.

You can let them down kindly by including a compliment in the rejection, such as “While your qualifications are quite impressive …”

Paragraph Two (Optional)

The second paragraph is where the personalization really comes in. What you write will depend on your experience with the candidate and how far into the process they got.

For instance, if you’re rejecting a candidate after the first round, you can keep this section brief and jump to paragraph three. However, for a candidate who reached the final round, you’ll likely want to give more context to the reason for the rejection.

The candidate took time to prepare for your interview process, so if you were impressed by them during the interview, it could make a huge difference to let them know.

Simply include one strength of theirs you remembered from the interview process, like “Our team was particularly impressed with your writing skills.”

To truly add value, you’ll also want to include constructive feedback to help your candidate identify areas of improvement. Take detailed notes during the interview (or ask the hiring manager to do so) and when you reject your applicant, provide one or two areas of improvement.

Focus on one aspect of the job description you feel the candidate didn’t quite match.

Say the role required expertise in data analytics, but the applicant wasn’t strong in this area. You might say, “At this time, we’re looking for candidates with a deeper understanding of data analytics…”

If you were impressed by the candidate and genuinely feel they’d be a good fit for your company down the road, leave the door open by telling them you’ll put them into your contact database and reconsider them in the future.

Additionally, if it was a difficult decision, tell your candidate – it can help soften the blow.

Paragraph Three

Conclude by wishing the candidate luck in their job search, and thanking the applicant again for considering your company.

Standard Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview] and taking the time to learn about our company. After careful consideration, we have selected another candidate for the position.

We do hope you’ll keep us in mind when we advertise roles in the future and encourage you to apply again.

We wish you the best of luck in your job search and thank you for your interest in our company.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Feedback Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview]. It was a very tough decision but we have selected another candidate for the position.

Our team was particularly impressed with your [skills], but we felt you lacked experience in [skill/experience]. We’d recommend [taking a course/obtaining a certificate/gaining project experience] to improve.

We would like to stay in touch with you for future opportunities that might be a good fit. Please let us know if you’re interested in remaining in our talent pool.

Thanks again for taking the time to apply and come in to meet the team. We wish you the best of luck in your job search and thank you for your interest in our company.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Redirection Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview]. After careful consideration, we have decided to move forward with another candidate.

Our team was particularly impressed with your [skills], but we felt you lacked experience in [skill]. However, we believe your skillset would align better with [position] and would love to consider you for it.

Please let us know if you would be interested in discussing it further.

We’d like to thank you again for your time and wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Short Rejection Letter

Dear [Name],

Thank you for interviewing for [position] on [date of interview]. After careful consideration, we have decided to move forward with another candidate.

We thank you for your interest in the company and we wish you the best of luck in your job search.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Notifying a candidate that they have been rejected is never easy. By writing a thoughtful letter fit for the situation, you leave the door open for future collaboration and leave a positive impression of your company.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Oct. 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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20 Tips for Starting a New Job

Starting a new job? Then it’s time to put your best foot forward.

Specifically, you’ve got to show up to your new job, make a great first impression, and contribute something of value. No biggie, right?

To crush your new gig right from the get-go, you need to prepare for the first day. Below are 20 of our favorite tips to help you do just that.

Tips for Having a Great First Day

1. Familiarize yourself with the company’s online assets.

You probably already did this as part of the interview process, but it doesn’t hurt to do it again before your first day.

There’s no better way to learn about a company’s marketing than to consume it. Read their blog. Subscribe to their email newsletter. Follow their social media accounts. Download and read their most recent ebooks. All of this information gathering will give you context.

Besides, when you’re in your initial marketing team meetings, you’ll be able to chime in with new ideas since you’ve got the advantage of a fresh set of eyes.

2. Test-drive your commute.

Before your first day, test-drive your commute to work — ideally around the same time you’d actually leave. Practicing your route will put you at ease and help reduce the possibility of getting lost or being unaware of road closures.

Be sure to add extra time in case of rush-hour traffic! Your future self will thank you later.

3. Plan out your wardrobe.

You’ll be most confident if you’re wearing something you’re comfortable in. Take a moment the night before your big day to think about what you’ll wear in the morning.

Double check the company’s dress code policy. Do you need to iron a suit to wear, or is your company more casual? Give yourself the gift of confidence and plan out your wardrobe.

4. Research your new boss on social media.

To help you familiarize yourself with your new boss, have a look at their Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and any writing they publish (either on the company blog, their personal website, or an external site like Medium).

If you’re like me, taking physical notes can help you better remember things — so write down a few quick notes about what content they’ve been sharing online and some of their interests or hobbies. This will give you fuel for future small talk on the first day.

5. Read The First 100 Days.

First impressions are hard to change, so it’s a good idea to make some positive contributions quickly. That could mean differentiating yourself from your peers with a new idea, asking thoughtful questions, providing feedback, leading a new project to success, or simply showing your team that you are a curious lifelong learner.

Check out our new guide, The First 100 Days. It will show you how to make the most of your first 100 days on the job, including tips from successful employees, managers, and companies such as Eventbrite and Twitter EMEA & APAC.

6. Pack your favorite desk accessories in your bag the night before.

Are you an avid pen-and-paper note taker? Do you like to have a water bottle or coffee cup at your desk? Would you prefer to always have breath mints on hand?

Think about the small items you like having at work and make sure they’re in your bag the night before your first day. These things will make you feel more at home at your new job.

7. Pay attention to your body language.

Body language can have a huge impact on how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. According to research by social psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, “power poses” can actually make you feel more confident — and appear that way to others. So before you walk through the door, remember to pull your shoulders back, tilt your chin up, and stand tall.

8. Prep your “introduction speech.”

Your new manager or boss will likely introduce you to the team — either in person or remotely. While this is usually informal, you should have an idea of what you want to say.

In a few sentences, say a little bit about yourself and why you’re excited to be joining the team. If you’re on a remote team, go the extra mile to message your coworkers saying hello and letting them know you’ve joined the team.

9. Uplevel your small talk.

Learning more about your coworkers can help you integrate into the team. Plus, it makes the job way more enjoyable when you build a sense of community and camaraderie with others.

Plan some small-talk topics ahead of time and ask plenty of questions, such as, “How long have you been at the company?” or, “What’s your favorite lunch spot around here?” Being open and genuine can go a long way with your new team members.

10. Check the company’s BYOC policy.

Some employers have a Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. This may include laptops, smartphones, or tablets. In many remote-first companies, you may be expected to use your own laptop, or one is provided. Double check with your manager or consult the HR manual if you have it.

11. Take a mental note of potential mentors.

As you move through your first few days, make a mental note of individuals who could serve as a mentor — ideally someone within your department. Besides being a great resource, mentors can guide you in your professional development and long-term goals.

Once you’ve spotted potential candidates, get the conversation started by introducing yourself in person (or, if you’re remote, send an email or set up a video chat.

12. Bring your HR/Payroll Paperwork.

Typically, you’ll need to fill out HR/payroll paperwork during the onboarding process. If you’re asked to fill something out before your start date, make sure to complete it and bring it with you on your first day. This gets the ball rolling and presents yourself as an organized employee.

13. Plan your goals for the next 30 days.

Your short-term goals are just as important as your long-term ones. During your first 30 days, chances are you will spend the majority of your time attending trainings, learning the ropes, and meeting team members. Map what goals you hope to accomplish during this time. Make sure they’re realistic and specific by using the SMART method.

14. Create healthy habits.

What habits can help with your new schedule? Maybe it’s going for a walk in the morning to be extra focused or meal-prepping your lunches during the weekend. Or, it could be writing a to-do list when you first arrive at work.

Creating healthy habits and routines is especially crucial for remote workers who may struggle to separate work and personal life.

15. Leverage LinkedIn.

Hopefully, by the end of the first week or two, you’re settling nicely into your job (and loving it). Consider sharing the news by updating your LinkedIn profile to let your network know. This also lets potential recruiters know that you’re not open to new jobs.

While you’re there, add your new team members and “follow” your company’s LinkedIn page.

16. Embrace the learning curve.

It’s normal to face a steep learning curve when starting a new job. Between orientation, trainings, and meetings, you may find yourself overwhelmed and stressed.

Be proactive and reach out to your manager or coworkers with questions to provide clarity and get you back on path. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re confused or overwhelmed — in fact, this shows that you care about doing a great job. And, it can be a great way to connect with another person on a human level.

17. Set healthy boundaries early.

Attention all remote workers — this point is especially important for you!

During the first few months of your job, you may find yourself going to work early and leaving late — or even working on the weekend. It’s understandable — you want to do a good job. But stretching yourself thin is detrimental in the long run. This is why it’s essential to set healthy boundaries for work.

For instance, you could disable your Slack notifications during lunch or designate a room in your home as an “office” to create a physical boundary between work and life. In any case, it’s important to set healthy boundaries early and revisit them often.

18. Observe the company culture.

Many companies look for candidates who fit their company culture. Now that you’re through the door, you can witness it first hand. How does it play out day to day? And what positive attitudes can you adopt?

Remember that as you step into your new role, you can also shape and contribute to the culture in a meaningful way.

19. Keep your manager in the loop.

Odds are, you’ll be working closely with your manager during your first few weeks. During this time, keep the communication lines strong.

Inform them on what you’re working on, if any disruptions could interfere with your onboarding (like a scheduled internet outage), or if you have any questions. By keeping your manager in the loop, you can build trust and save yourself (and your manager) a lot of confusion.

20. Don’t overthink it.

You were hired for a reason. So don’t get so caught up in preparing for your first day that you get too nervous when you actually show up. The night before your first day, take the time you need to relax so you can get a good night’s sleep. Your new coworkers are excited you’re on board — you just need to show up, be friendly and confident, and make ’em glad they hired you.

Back to You

Congratulations on your new job! While exciting, the hard work isn’t over just yet — you still need to ace your first day. Use the tips in this article to lead with confidence and give a positive first impression.

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12 of the Best Programming Languages to Learn in 2022

So, you want to learn how to program. Honestly, great choice — pursuing software or website development is a challenging but highly rewarding career path.

Now, for your next big decision: Which programming language should you start with? It can feel like a daunting choice, since your first language is your first exposure to the world of programming can set the tone for your learning experience.

If you pick one that’s too challenging, you might get discouraged and lose interest early on. Pick one that’s too simple and you may miss out on fundamental concepts you’ll need to lock down an entry-level development job. Plus, with hundreds of programming languages being used today, where do you even begin to look?

Fortunately, you don’t have to learn every language under the sun to break into the field. Many developers before you have come to a general consensus about which programming languages are best for newcomers.

To get you started coding as soon as possible, we’ve compiled 12 excellent beginner options you can pick from depending on your interests and desired career path.

If you’re a beginner, most software engineers recommend learning Python, Java, or C first. Below, we’ll give you a rundown of each of these programming languages and others, while describing what they’re used for and why you might want to try each one.

1. Python

Many new programmers will gravitate to Python as their first language. It has many qualities that make it perfect all-around for beginners.

Python is a high-level, general-purpose scripting language with syntax that is very simple and digestible compared to other programming languages. This makes it easy to learn relatively quickly and start building simple projects without sweating the details.

Python is also known for its broad range of libraries that allow you to extend the language to do just about anything, including software development, data analysis, machine learning, server-side web development, and a ton more.

2. Java

Java is another widely used general-purpose programming language that’s excellent for beginners. Not only is it a great introduction to the art and science of programming — it’s also one of the most sought-after languages at companies of all sizes (including HubSpot!), making it a solid foundation for a career.

The Java Virtual Machine lets Java run on virtually any hardware and operating system, making it among the most widely used programming languages in the world. It’s most commonly on the back ends of software applications, from large-scale enterprise applications to mobile apps. Notably, the Android OS is based on Java.

While Java does have a bit steeper of a learning curve than Python, it’s definitely manageable and one of the best options for first-time programmers.

3. JavaScript

JavaScript (no relation to Java, despite their similar names) is the de facto programming language of the web. It’s primarily used on the front end of websites and applications to make them dynamic and interactive. It can also be used server-side with frameworks like Node.js.

It’s also the most popular programming language according to Stack Overflow, used by 68% of professional developers. It’s also used on over 98% of all websites. With those numbers, it’s safe to say that anyone who wants to learn web development should make JavaScript one of the first languages they learn.

JavaScript is somewhat notorious in the developer community for its complexity, but that’s only if you dig into the advanced stuff. For beginners, JavaScript is intuitive, flexible, and easy to pick up. Plus, you don’t need to install another application or compile your code to see your code work — just run it in your browser.

4. HTML and CSS

Okay, HTML and CSS aren’t technically programming languages. However, if you’re interested in web development, these should be the first two languages you learn besides JavaScript. You can’t really build anything web-based without at least some HTML knowledge, anyway.

HTML is the language that defines the content and structure of web pages. When you view a web page, you’re looking at your browser’s interpretation of an HTML file. CSS is an accompanying language that defines the style of the page — it’s what makes websites look nice, basically.

The good news is that, since HTML and CSS steer clear of the programming part of web development, they’re both pretty straightforward and a great way to get a sense of what coding a website feels like without committing to a whole programming language. Take a few days to get comfortable with these two and, if you like them, consider an introductory JavaScript course.

5. C

Some programming languages, like Python, are ideal for new programmers because their syntax is simple and human-readable. Essentially, you can write programs that do a lot of things with less code. On the other hand, some other languages are more challenging because their syntax is closer to machine code (a very low-level, entirely numerical language that computers process). If you hadn’t already guessed, C is one of these languages.

So, why would anyone start with a lower-level language? Ultimately, starting with C can be more rewarding in the long run because it helps you build a better foundation of knowledge. So much of learning how to program involves problem-solving, rather than just learning syntax. For anyone who wants to dive into the technical side of things and really understand how their programs work, C is your best bet.

For this reason, C is widely taught in introductory college computer science courses. However, it also involves more complex syntax than some other programming languages — you need to write more code to get things done. But, if you want to be challenged, learning C will help you ultimately become a more well-rounded programmer.

A very influential language, C also forms the foundation for most modern programming syntax, so learning will give you key skills you can then apply to other languages. In terms of applications, C is most commonly used for desktop applications, operating systems, and databases.

6. C++

A successor of C, C++ is also popular among programmers. The name comes from the “++” operator in C, which adds a value of one to an integer. (Yes, even developers like to have fun sometimes.)

C++ builds on C by including classes and objects, which allow you to represent real-life objects in the code. This added sophistication opens many more possibilities to the language and makes it much better equipped for developing sophisticated applications, like system or application software, drivers, client-server applications, embedded firmware, and video games.

And, fun side note, C++ was also my first programming language. 🎉 🎉

7. C#

Another popular offshoot of C, C# (pronounced “C sharp”) was developed by Microsoft to run on its .NET platform for Windows applications. C# is still very common in desktop applications, it’s also known it for being the language of the Unity game engine. This means that those interested in video game development will likely need to learn C# at some point.

Once you’ve learned the basics of C, consider taking on C# next, as it will be easier to pick up once you’re familiar with the syntax of the C family of programming languages.

8. Ruby

For you aspiring web developers, this is another popular choice for beginners. Ruby is a server-side scripting language that’s one of the easier ones to read and pick up as a first language.

A big reason for Ruby’s popularity is the open-source web application framework Ruby on Rails, which has been widely adopted by startups and large tech companies like Square, Shopify, Airbnb, and Hulu, making it a valuable skill career-wise.

A main philosophy of Ruby on Rails is convention over configuration. In other words, it trades flexibility for convenience, and a lot of programming decisions are already made for you. While learning Ruby on Rails will be a heavier lift than the basics of Ruby, you’ll eventually be able to help build impressive web applications as a result.

Still, we recommend learning the basics of the Ruby programming language first, before diving into the Rails framework that goes on top of it.

9. PHP

Here’s one more popular server-side scripting language that’s valuable to know if you’re interested in web development. PHP is an open-source language that’s used to build dynamic web pages on-the-fly, making for a more personalized browsing experience. Highly flexible, beginner-friendly, and with tons of frameworks, PHP tops the list for most-used languages by beginners and professionals alike.

PHP is also the core language for the WordPress content management system and is a staple in the WordPress developer’s toolkit. Since WordPress is free and open-source, peeking at its core files is a good way to get some exposure to how PHP powers websites.

10. SQL

Are you interested in working with databases, or any kind of job that involves storing, fetching, and analyzing data? In that case, it’s definitely worth your time to pick up SQL at some point.

SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language (and is often pronounced “sequel”) is the standard programming language for managing relational databases. A relational database is one in which data points are related to each other, organized in tables of columns and rows.

SQL allows you to add data to, extract data from, and change data inside relational databases, making it most useful for data analysts and scientists, as well as product experts, business analysts, and marketers who wish to factor business data into their decision-making.

You can’t exactly “build” things with SQL in the same sense as other languages here — it has a much more specific purpose. But, if you aspire to work with data in any capacity, SQL is a must-know.

11. Swift

Swift is a newer programming language created by Apple to develop iOS and macOS applications. If you think building apps is something you’d want to do, learn Swift — you’ll need to know it eventually to make a career in iOS and macOS development.

Like other languages we’ve discussed here, Swift has relatively straightforward, human-readable syntax and is a pretty forgiving language when it comes to mistakes. It’s also a very scalable language that makes it easy to translate your projects from small experiments to full-blown app pursuits.

12. Go

To close out our list, we have Go (also known as Golang), a general-purpose. Go was created by Google to support software development projects. It’s similar to C, but with easier syntax and some added functionality to support more efficient building and more scalable projects. Some people see Go as combining the more user-friendly aspects of several programming languages into one.

Go has gained traction among developers of cloud-based applications, AI and machine learning, web servers, data tools, and command-line tools.

For more general advice on how to pick which language to learn first, check out this great video from Codecademy.

Learn to code.

As I said, picking a first programming language is intimidating. But, the good news is that once you get a feel for one language, it’s easier to transfer your knowledge to other similar programming languages. For example, if you started with C, you can take on C++, JavaScript, or PHP without having to relearn a ton of new concepts.

Whichever language you choose, the most important thing isn’t the exact syntax of the language you’re writing (though, yes, that is important). Rather, it’s the fundamental concepts of computer science, the problem-solving skills you pick up along the way, and, eventually, the ability to think computationally as second-nature.

That might all seem far off to you right now. But, with diligent practice and dedication to the languages you’re learning, a new career can be closer than you think.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Instagram’s New Algorithm Update Prioritizes Original Content: What Marketers Need to Know

Consistently creating high-quality, engaging, and relevant content across social channels can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming for marketers.

To combat those challenges, most marketers have relied on reposting content from other creators and brands as an opportunity to fill in their social calendars and provide valuable content on a more consistent basis.

In fact, reposting is an incredibly popular option for sharing information, funny memes, or interesting trends with your own audiences without needing to re-create the wheel — consider, for instance, how Instagram’s #repost hashtag has over 560 million posts.

But as of April 20, 2022, reposted content will no longer be rewarded. Here’s what Instagram’s new algorithm update means for marketers.

What Instagram’s New Algorithm Update Means for Marketers and Creators Alike

Original Content Will Be Prioritized

On April 20, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, tweeted an announcement that Instagram is now ranking based off originality.

📣 New Features 📣

We’ve added new ways to tag and improved ranking:

– Product Tags
– Enhanced Tags
– Ranking for originality

Creators are so important to the future of Instagram, and we want to make sure that they are successful and get all the credit they deserve. pic.twitter.com/PP7Qa10oJr

— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri)
April 20, 2022

As he puts it, “If you create something from scratch, you should get more credit than if you’re re-sharing something you found from someone else. We’re going to do more to try and value original content more, particularly compared to re-posted content.”

On the surface, this seems like a fair deal. If a marketer goes through the trouble to create a unique, original infographic, for instance, she should be rewarded by getting her post ranked higher in the algorithm than someone who is re-posting her same infographic.

Additionally, this is a good experience for users. Instagram users don’t want their feeds to be cluttered with all the same content, reposted again and again. Each time they scroll, they want to see fresh, new posts.

However, ‘originality’ can be a difficult thing to define. For instance: Is it still considered original if it’s a branded video that was first posted on your YouTube account, and then re-posted to your Instagram Stories?

Or — what if your CEO is mentioned in another brand’s post, and you want to re-share with your own audience?

As Mosseri said on Twitter in response to one question, “The idea is if you made it, it’s original. It’s okay if you edited it outside of Instagram and then bring it in via the gallery. Identifying ‘originality’ is hard though, so we will iterate over time.”

It’s looking like this decision is primarily designed to decrease the amount of aggregator accounts on the social platform — accounts which are focused on compilations of other creators’ content, like @HilariousYouTubeVids or @CelebFashionInspo.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for marketers. It can be incredibly difficult to get your content in front of new audiences, particularly when you’re competing against the same re-posted TikTok video from 50 different accounts.

It’s equally exciting for content creators. In the past, if you created a funny Instagram Stories video and someone re-posted it to their Instagram feed where it gained a ton of traction, you wouldn’t necessarily reap the benefits from that – the re-poster would get the views, likes, and shares.

Now, Instagram is rewarding originality, so if you’re the first one to create and share a piece of content, this new algorithm update should help you remain the sole beneficiary.

Plus, as Mosseri disclosed in response to another tweet, Instagram’s algorithm already prioritizes original content, so this is nothing new. The photo-sharing app is simply leaning more heavily in this direction and re-evaluating the AI systems they currently use to detect original content.

To recap, Instagram’s new shift towards rewarding original content will:

Largely penalize aggregator sites. So if your entire account is based off posting funny videos from other people’s accounts, you could see a decrease in ranking. If your account is mostly filled with original content, you shouldn’t be impacted.
Be iterated on over time. Instagram is still working to define what ‘originality’ means, and as Mosseri puts it, it will take time to get it right when it comes to identifying what’s truly original.
Allow you to post content you’ve created and edited outside the app. Feel comfortable posting your own content that you’ve already posted on your other social channels, as well as any content you’ve edited outside of Instagram. Since you made it, it’s still original.
Reconsider your strategy if you primarily post user-generated content. There’s plenty of proof that user-generated content (UGC) is an effective marketing strategy, and it’s not going anywhere. However, if your entire feed is made up of re-posted content from your customers, you might want to reconsider the ratio of UGC to original content. To get around this, consider creating original branded content with quotes or short videos from your customers and advocates.

Instagram’s Algorithm Update Will Also Offer Product Tags and Enhanced People Tags

This is part of a larger Instagram algorithm update, which will also now offer product tags to everyone (they were previously only given to select accounts), as well as enhanced people tags (which allows you to provide a short description beneath your name that will show up when users click on the tags in a post, like ‘Caroline Forsey: Writer’).

In response to the question, Why now?, Mosseri says, “As we lean more into recommendations it’s becoming increasingly important that [we] don’t overvalue aggregators, as that would be bad for creators, and therefore bad for Instagram long term.”

Ultimately, Instagram’s goal here is to ensure its users’ feeds don’t just become one big replica of the same few messages. And that’s a good thing: It means there will be more space, moving forward, for your branded content to reach new audiences, and you’ll see a reward for the hard work of creating unique, one-of-a-kind content.

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SEO Glossary: 100+ Essential SEO Terms Marketers Should Know in 2022

Do you want to optimize your website but have trouble communicating with the technical folks running it? Then, you need an SEO glossary.

Jargon alone shouldn’t stop you from making your site the powerful marketing tool it can be.

This is a list of the most essential search engine optimization (SEO) terms to help marketers communicate with developers and understand how to optimize their websites.

# | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | W | X |

40 SEO Terms You Must Know!

Numbers

2xx status codes – Code sent by the server to say that the request was successful.

301 Redirect – The process of permanently redirecting a webpage from one URL to another.

302 Redirect – The process of temporarily redirecting a webpage from one URL to another.

4xx status codes – Code sent by the server to say that the request was unsuccessful and the information was not found.

5xx status codes – Code sent by the server to say that there was a problem with the server.

A

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – An open source project by Google to help publishers create webpages and content that are optimize for all devices.

ALT Text/Alt Attribute – A description of an image in your site’s HTML. Unlike humans, search engines read only the ALT text of images, not the images themselves. Add ALT text to images whenever possible.

Anchor Text – The actual text of a link to a web page. On most websites, this text is usually dark blue and underlined, or purple if you’ve visited the link in the past. Anchor text helps search engines understand what the destination page is about, it describes what you will see if you click through.

Authority – How reliable a website is based on search engine’s algorithm.

B

Backlink – A link pointing to an external webpage.

Black Hat – Practices that go against Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Blog – A webpage that includes blog posts related to specific topics and/or industry.

Bookmark – A link to a website saved for later reference in your web browser or computer.

Bot – A software application that is programmed to complete specific tasks.

Bounce Rate – The amount of users who leave a webpage after only viewing one page.

Branded Keyword – A search query (keyword) that refers to a specific brand. E.g.: “Nike shoes”

Breadcrumb – A web link that lets you know where you are on a website and how far you are from the homepage.

Broken Link – A link that leads to a 404 error page. This can happen if a webpage is removed without a redirect. (See 4xx status codes)

Browser – Software that allows you to access information and data on the internet. The most common browsers include Google Chrome, Safari, and FireFox.

C

Cache – A storage location that collects temporary data to help websites, apps, and browsers load faster.

Canonical URL – The canonical URL is the best address on which a user can find a piece of information. Sometimes you might have a situation where the same page content can be accessed at more than one address. Specifying the canonical URL helps search engines understand which address for a piece of content is the best one.

ccTLD – Stands for country-code top-level domain and is used to define the domain for a specific country or region. E.g. www.mysite.co.uk

Cloaking – A black hat practice used to display different information on a webpage than what was expected.

Conversion Form – A form through which you collect information about your site visitor. Conversion forms convert traffic into leads. Collecting contact information helps you follow up with these leads.

Crawler – A program used by search engines to gather information on websites and accurately index them.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – The part of your code that defines how different elements of your site look (examples: headers, links).

D

Deep Link – This can refer to two things: A link pointing to content on a mobile application or a link pointing a webpage other than a homepage.

De-Index – When a search engine removes a website or webpage from search results.

Disavow – When you tell Google to ignore links because they’re low-quality, spam, or artificial.

Do-follow – A hyperlink that instructs search engines to follow the link instead of the “nofollow” attribute. (See nofollow)

Domain – The main web address of your site (example: www.yoursite.com).

E

External link – A hyperlink that points to a webpage on another domain. This is also known as a backlink. (See backlink).

F

Featured Snippet – Highlighted excerpts that appear at the top of some Google search results, known as position 0.

The Fold – The “fold” is the point on your website where the page gets cut off by the bottom of a user’s monitor or browser window. Anything below the fold can be scrolled to but isn’t seen right away. Search engines place some priority on content above the fold since it will be seen right away by new visitors.

G

Google My Business – A local business directory from Google.

Google Search Console – A free Google tool that allows you to monitor how a website is performing.

Guest Blogging – The practice of publishing a blog post on a website owned by someone else.

H

Header tag – Code used to designate headings and subheadings from paragraphs.

Headings – Section headers on your website that are placed inside of a header tag, such as an H1 or H2. This text is often presented in a larger and stronger font than other text on the page.

HTML – The code part of your website that search engines read. Keep your HTML as clean as possible so that search engines read your site easily and often. Put as much layout-related code as possible in your CSS instead of your HTML.

I

Image Compression – The practice of reduce an image’s file size to speed up a web page.

Indexing – A process used by search engines to analyze the content of website and catalog files.

Inbound Link – A link from another website to yours.

Internal Link – A link from one page to another on the same website, such as from your homepage to your products page.

Indexed Pages – The pages of your website that are stored by search engines.

J

Javascript – A scripting language that allows website administrators to apply various effects or changes to the content of their website as users browse it.

K

Keyword – A word that a user enters in search. Each web page should be optimized with the goal of drawing in visitors who have searched specific keywords.

Keyword Difficulty – Refers to how competitive a keyword is and how difficult it will be to rank for it.

Keyword Research – The process of searching for keywords to target in your content based on volume, keyword difficulty, and other factors.

Keyword Stuffing – The overuse of keywords in your content in an attempt to rank higher.

L

Lazy Loading – A method used to improve page speed by deferring the loading of an object until it’s needed. An example of this is the infinite scroll on websites.

Link Building – The activity and process of getting more inbound links to your website for improved search engine rankings.

Link Juice – The value or authority a website gains when receiving a backlink from a high-authority website. (See backlink.)

Link Schemes – What Google defines as spammy tactics used to trick Google’s PageRank and increase search rankings by buying or selling links, excessive cross-linking, or other manipulative tactics.

Long Tail Keyword – Longer, more specific queries that include more than three words.

M

Metadata – Data that tells search engines what your website is about.

Meta Description – A brief description of fewer than 160 characters of the contents of a page and why someone would want to visit it. This is displayed on search engine results pages below the page title as a sample of the content on the page.

Meta Keywords – Previously used by search engines in the 90s and early 00s to help determine what a web page was about, the meta keywords tag is no longer used by any major search engines.

Minification – The practice of removing unnecessary characters in the source code to help a page load faster without affecting functionality.

Mobile-first Indexing – This refers to Google primarily using the mobile version of a webpage for indexing and ranking. In the past, desktop was the go-to.

N

Nofollow – When a link from one site does not pass SEO credit to another.

O

Organic traffic – Refers to visitors who discover your website on the SERPs instead of a paid ad.

P

Page Speed – Refers to how quickly a webpage loads. Influencing factors include file sizes, the source code, and the web server.

Page Title – The name you give your web page, which is seen at the top your browser window. Page titles should contain keywords related to your business. Words at the beginning of your page title are more highly weighted than words at the end.

PageRank – A number from 0-10, assigned by Google, indicating how good your overall SEO is. It is technically known as ‘Toolbar PageRank.’

Pagination – When a series of content is broken up into a multi-page list. Think of category pages on e-commerce sites.

Panda – Was previously a separate Google algorithm to track down black hat tactics but now is part of Google’s core algorithm.

People Also Ask – A feature that can show up on the SERP to show related questions and answers to a query.

PPC (Pay-Per-Click) – Advertising method in which an advertiser puts an ad in an online advertising venue and pays that venue each time a visitor clicks on his/her ad. Google AdWords is the classic example of this.

Q

Query – The words or phrases a user enters into a search engine.

R

Rank Brain – Machine learning component of Google’s algorithm which works to understand queries and deliver the best results.

Ranking Factor – The factors that influence a website’s ranking on search engines.

Redirection – When a URL is moved from one location to another. (See 301 and 302 Redirect).

Referrer String – A piece of information sent by a user’s browser when they navigate from page to page on the web. It includes information on where they came from previously, which helps webmasters understand how users are finding their website.

Rel=canonical – An HTML tag that tells search engines which version of a webpage is original and which is duplicate when there are multiple pages with similar content. (See canonical)

Responsive design – A design practice that allows a website to adapt to any device it’s viewed on, making it a better user experience.

Robots.txt – A text file that tells search engine crawlers which areas of your website are accessible and which ones they should ignore.

RSS Feed – RSS stands for ‘really simple syndication.’ It is a subscription-based way to get updates on new content from a web source. Set up an RSS feed for your website or blog to help your followers stay updated when you release new content.

S

Search Intent – Refers to the reason why a user conducts a search.

Search Volume – The number of times a keyword is searched in a given period, usually a month.

Seasonal Trends – Natural increase and decrease of keywords during specific times of the year. E.g.: The keyword “Halloween costume” sees an increase in the fall months and a dip in the spring and summer.

Seed Keyword – Short-tail keyword, also known as a root keyword, which is the primary keyword you want to rank for and considered the umbrella term.

SEO – Stands for search engine optimization and refers to the tactics used to optimize your website page to reach and maintain a high ranking on search engines for particular keywords.

SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) – The page that you are sent to after you run a query in a search engine. It typically has 10 results on it, but this may vary depending on the query and search engine in question.

Sitemap – A special document created by a webmaster or a piece of software that provides a map of all the pages on a website to make it easier for a search engine to index that website.

Social Media – Online social networks used to create online communities.

Spider – Also known as a web crawler, it’s a computer program that browses the internet and collects information about websites. (See crawler)

SSL Certificate – Stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and is used to encrypt data that passes between a web server and the browser. A website without an SSL certificate is vulnerable to hackers who may gain access to confidential information.

Status Code – The response code sent by a server following a request. (See common status codes)

Structured Data – Any set of data that is organized and tagged to help search engines understand the information.

Subdomain
A subsection of a primary domain used to better organize your website and allow easier navigation.

T

Traffic – The amount of visits to your website.

Title Tag – The title of a page on your website, which is enclosed in a <title> HTML tag, inside of the head section of the page. It appears in search engine results and at the top of a user’s web browser when they are on that page.

Traffic Rank – The ranking of how much traffic your site gets compared to all other sites on the internet.

U

Unnatural Links – What Google describes as creating links that a site owner doesn’t vouch for or place for editorial reasons. (See link schemes).

URL – The web address of a page on your site (example: www.yoursite.com/contact).

User Experience (UX) – Refers to the feeling users have when interacting with a product, service, or (in the context of SEO) a website or mobile application.

W

White Hat – SEO tactics that comply with best practices and don’t manipulate search engines.

Website Navigation – The elements and components on a page that allow you to easily access the various webpages on a website.

X

XML – Stands for extensible markup language which is used by search engines to understand website data.

XML Sitemap – A file that lists a website’s important pages so that search engines can easily find and crawl them.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Dec. 2011 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.