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The Age of the Connected Customer

Growing a business has never been easy. But these days, it feels impossible.

Companies are trying to predict growth in an unpredictable macro environment. The economy is down, the market is volatile, socio-political issues are raging, and the dust is still settling on hybrid work. Every week, there’s a new twist or turn.

In case navigating all this uncertainty isn’t hard enough, companies are dealing with another major shift. Over the past year, the strategies that businesses rely on to attract, engage, and delight customers have started to break. It’s harder to generate demand, drive leads, reach prospects, and meet customers’ high expectations. At the height of the pandemic, many businesses thrived in a digital-first world, but now that momentum is slowing and it’s harder than ever to connect with customers.

The flywheel feels frozen. But why?

This question keeps me up at night. Helping organizations grow better is our mission at HubSpot. We’re passionate about helping scaling companies get ahead and navigate periods of uncertainty. That’s why we went on a listening tour to understand what’s standing in the way of our customers’ growth, and how we can help solve it.

Across hundreds of conversations with customers, there was one word that kept coming up: disconnected. We discovered that companies are in a crisis of disconnection today, caused by three major disconnects. They’re struggling with disconnected systems, disconnected people, and disconnected customers. I want to share what we’ve learned about each disconnect, and how we believe companies can solve this crisis.

Systems Are Disconnected

The first theme we heard loud and clear is that companies are struggling with disconnected systems. This has always been a problem, but it’s gotten worse over the past few years. We recently ran a pulse survey to understand the biggest challenges businesses are facing, and the number one pain point was disconnected systems (HubSpot Market Research, 2022).

It makes sense when you think about it. During the pandemic, companies shifted to fully-digital overnight and there was a frenzy of buying point solutions. They bought a tool for every task, every team, and every department. As a result, the average scaling company has 242 SaaS tools today. The problem isn’t that companies have a lot of tools, though — it’s that too few are connected. Each has its own data and processes but there’s no one place tying it all together.

As a result, companies are spending more time connecting data than connecting with their customers. They have to spend hours cleaning data and trying to cobble insights together from different systems. What’s worse is that their go-to-market teams don’t have a unified view of the customer’s journey, so they’re working in silos and their customer experience is suffering.

It’s a total mess.

That’s why, when it comes to growth, it’s time to accept that disconnected point solutions are not the solution.

People Are Disconnected

The second disconnect is that people have become more disconnected from each other. From quarantining, to social distancing, to working remotely, isolation has become part of our daily lives. The problem is, we’re human. We rely on each other for support and connection.

When I need advice at work, do you know what I do first? I lean on my peers. I reach out to a mentor, a co-worker, or my network for support. But it’s become harder to tap into one another; we aren’t bumping into each other at the office or meeting up at networking events like we used to.

In fact, 45% of workers say that the number of people they interact with at work decreased, and 57% of people say that they engage in fewer social activities these days. No wonder Peloton became so popular during the pandemic. For me, it wasn’t just about exercise, it was about being part of a community.

And I know I’m not alone. When I talk to our customers, I hear the same theme loud and clear: They crave community. They want to build deeper relationships with their co-workers, their customers, and their network, but it’s not as easy as it once was.

Companies Are Disconnected from Customers

The third and final disconnect is that companies are more disconnected from their customers than ever. They’re writing blogs at a frenzied pace but still can’t drive traffic. They’re emailing prospects but can’t get a response. The channels and strategies that used to work for companies now seem to be working against them. So, what changed?

We dug into this and found that there are two major shifts happening. The first is that people are digitally drained. From our social feeds, to our inboxes, to our text messages, we are bombarded at every turn. As a result, buyers aren’t engaging with companies like they used to, and you can see it in the data.

In 2020, 65% of Google searches ended without a click, and the average blog shrunk by -1.64% in 2021. According to HubSpot data, sales email response rates have plummeted by 40% compared to pre-pandemic rates. The channels companies have relied on to attract and engage customers are now overly saturated, pushing people out and ad costs up.

The second change is that we are now living in a privacy-first world. People are more protective of their data than ever. Apple’s recent ad campaign is a great example of this shift; they’re positioning privacy as the iPhone’s core value proposition. When one of the most valuable companies on the planet comes out that strongly on a value, we should all take notice. What this means for businesses is that the cookies, tracking, and consent they’ve depended on are now being cut off in a privacy-first world.

Buyers today are digitally drained and distrusting of companies with their data. Both of these shifts lead to companies being more disconnected from their customers than ever. And that’s exactly what I hear from our customers. They’re struggling to cut through the noise, to reach prospects, and to build relationships with customers the same way they used to. They’re coming to terms with a hard truth which is that old go-to-market strategies won’t work in this new world.

Based on our research and conversations with customers, these three disconnects are clear. Systems are disconnected. People are disconnected. Companies and customers are disconnected.

This all leads to a crisis of disconnection.

Companies are struggling with unprecedented disconnection from their customers and each other, compounded by disconnected systems. They’re grasping for growth. Their revenue is unpredictable. Their flywheel is stalled. Their teams are burnt out.

That’s why it’s time to evolve. Companies can’t continue relying on broken data, broken processes, and broken strategies. The only way to solve this crisis is to adapt and find new ways to grow in the Age of the Connected Customer.

Introducing the Age of the Connected Customer

For years, companies have relied on legacy CRMs to ‘manage’ their customer relationships. But that won’t cut it in this new world. We believe the companies that will win in the future are the ones that focus on customer connection, not customer management. That means you need more than data, you need context. You need more than leads, you need connection. You need more than contacts, you need community.

You need a connected customer growth strategy. Connected customer growth is about optimizing every stage of your customer’s journey to boost connection. It’s about evolving your Attract, Engage, and Delight strategies to provide more value and relevance. You can start by asking yourself questions like: What 20% of content creates 80% of value for our customers? How can I use data to bring more context to my customer conversations? How can I make it easier for customers to buy? These types of questions will help you identify easy ways to optimize your flywheel for customer connection.

But evolving your strategy alone isn’t enough. You need the right technology to make connection possible — connection with your data, your teams, and your community. That’s why we’re bringing three powerful parts of HubSpot’s solution together:

Connected Applications: Our Hubs — Marketing, Sales, Service, CMS, and Operations — are designed to connect your entire front-office. They give go-to-market teams a single, unified view of the customer journey.

Connected Platform: Our CRM platform powers the Hubs with connected data — including commerce data — and extensibility. The platform is customizable and has over 1,100 app integration partners to give companies flexibility at scale.
Connected Community: Companies need more than software to grow, so we’re bringing together educational content through our Academy, as well as assets and expertise through our partner networks.

The combination of all three is our connected customer platform. To learn more about what we’re building at HubSpot and some exciting new features to help boost connection, visit

You can expect to learn much more from us over the next year on how to put customer connection into action, optimize your strategies, and how HubSpot’s platform is evolving to connect data, strategies, and people. As we step into the Age of the Connected Customer, I am confident that scaling companies can emerge stronger from this crisis.

And we’re here to help you grow better, connected.

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50 Free Online Marketing Classes to Take This Year

It’s no secret that individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher are more likely to find employment and earn higher incomes than those who don’t. But did you know that earning a certification can follow this same trend?

Given the rate at which new digital marketing technologies and software are developed, it can be overwhelming to learn through blog posts and ebooks alone. That’s where self-paced online courses come in — but which do you choose?

Below are the best free online courses you can take to strengthen your digital marketing skills.

Content Marketing
Social Media Marketing
SEO Marketing
Email Marketing
Web Development and Site Design
Online Advertising Courses
Other Digital Marketing Courses

Want to learn more about brands and organizations that offer the courses on the list below? Scroll to the end of this post, or jump to the section.

Free Online Marketing Courses

Free Content Marketing Courses

1. HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy

2. HubSpot Content Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy

3. Internet Marketing for Smart People – Copyblogger

4. Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content – Coursera

5. The Strategy of Content Marketing – Coursera

6. Copywriting Blunders – Udemy

7. Content Marketing for B2B Enterprises – Udemy

8. Semrush Content Marketing Toolkit Course – Semrush

9. Copywriting Quick Start: Top FREE Writing Tools & Hacks – Udemy


Free Social Media Marketing Courses

10. Free Social Media Certification – HubSpot Academy

11. Developing an End-to-End Instagram Marketing Strategy For Your Business – HubSpot Academy

12. Diploma in Social Media Marketing – Alison

13. Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate – Meta BluePrint

14. Social Media Analytics – Quintly

15. Social Media Quickstarter – Constant Contact

16. Semrush Social Media Toolkit Course – Semrush 17. Become a Social Media Marketer – LinkedIn Learning (one month free)

Free SEO Marketing Courses

18. SEO Training Course – HubSpot Academy

19. Digital Marketing Course – Google Digital Garage

20. SEO Training Course by Moz – Udemy

21. SEO – QuickSprout

22. SEO Specialization – Coursera

23. Semrush SEO Toolkit Course – SEMRUSH

24. Online SEO Training – Yoast

Free Email Marketing Courses

25. HubSpot Email Marketing Certification – HubSpot Academy

26. Email Marketing Course – Sendinblue Academy

27. Email Marketing Made Easy for Beginners – Udemy

28. Email Marketing for Beginners – Skillshare

Free Web Development and Site Design Courses

29. Make a Website – CodeAcademy

30. Learn Javascript – CodeAcademy

31. Learn Ruby – CodeAcademy

32. Learn Python 3 – CodeAcademy

33. Learn HTML & CSS – CodeAcademy

34. Learn to Code Awesome Websites – General Assembly

Free Online Advertising & PPC Courses

35. What Digital Advertising Is and How to Do It – HubSpot Academy

36. How to Build a Paid Media Strategy – HubSpot Academy

37. PPC UniversityWordstream

38. Advertising Your Business Online – Alison

39. Advanced Competitive Research Practices with Semrush

40. Copywriting 101: Crafting Your First Ad Campaign – Skillshare

41. Semrush Advertising Toolkit Course – Semrush

Other Free Digital Marketing Courses

42. Graphic Design Basics – Canva

43. Graphic Design Specialization – Coursera

44. Photoshop 2020: One-on-One Fundamentals – LinkedIn Learning

45. InDesign 2020: Essential Training – LinkedIn Learning

46. Video Marketing Course- HubSpot Academy

47. Event Marketing Course and Certification – Eventbrite

48. Event Sponsorship Course and Certification – Eventbrite

49. Affiliate Marketing for Beginners – Udemy

50. YouTube Ads Certification – YouTube

Benefits of a Digital Marketing Certificate

The most well-known benefit of earning a marketing certificate is the potential for better pay and career advancement, but there are plenty more rewards to reap by honing your skills. Here are a few of the top advantages of earning a digital marketing certificate.

1. Specializing in a Marketing Niche

The “jack of all trades, master of none” mantra is the marketer’s enemy.

Any experienced marketing professional will advise someone looking to enter or grow into the field to narrow their focus.

There are simply too many roles within marketing to specialize in all of them.

Certifications come in handy because they’re narrow enough in scope to give you a high-level overview of how the skill fits into a larger marketing strategy but tactical enough to show you exactly how to execute the skill in your day-to-day work.

2. Communicating Advanced Marketing Concepts

Whether you’re interviewing for a marketing role or pitching a client, one thing’s for sure — you’ll need to sound like a skilled marketer.

Sure, you can fake it ‘till you make it, but I don’t advise this route. Shibboleths will only get you so far before someone notices a gap in your experience.

Certification courses are comprehensive education tools that will teach you essential marketing lingo and exactly what it all means.

Best of all, you’ll be able to communicate advanced concepts confidently without over or under-explaining which can undermine your credibility.

3. Building Your Resume

When it comes down to it, your resume will almost always precede your presence.

Before an interview or a client meeting, people will look to your resume and portfolio first to verify your skills.

Adding the certifications you’ve received after completing marketing courses is a smart way to get picked up by resume scanners and it’ll catch the attention of human eyes, too.

Even if you have several years of experience, a certificate can still help get your foot in the door so you can speak in detail about your experience during an interview.

Where to Find Free and Affordable Courses

The free courses we mentioned above are amazing resources for budget-conscious marketers. They’ll teach you the basics of the subject and give you some tactical knowledge you can apply right away.

If you want to become more competitive in the job market or if you have a bit more time and resources to dedicate to furthering your education, check out the following platforms. They’re not all free, but they’re affordable and will provide you with up-to-date course material.

1. HubSpot Academy

HubSpot Academy offers certification and training courses to teach people how inbound marketing and HubSpot software work. Classes are often taught by marketers at HubSpot and are made up of video lessons, quizzes, and tests.

Most HubSpot Academy classes are available free of charge, and if you pass the certifications, such as the two below, you get a nifty certificate and badge to share on your social media profiles.

2. Copyblogger

Copyblogger is a content marketing company that creates content about content (so meta).

Its blog provides a ton of great resources about digital marketing, and this class, “Internet Marketing for Smart People,” is made up of ebooks and emailed lessons, and other course materials.

Copyblogger adopts four pillars of content marketing success, which it delves into over the course of this class.

3. Coursera

Coursera offers MOOCs (massive online open courses) created and taught online by universities such as Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California system.

These courses start at various times throughout the year, so browse the catalog to see when one lines up with your schedule.

4. Udemy

Udemy is another online learning platform that focuses specifically on courses related to skill building for working professionals.

One thing to note about Udemy: The classes we’ve highlighted are free, but the site features a myriad of other paid options for as little as $10, in some cases.

If you have a good experience with a free course, try a paid one to get even more value from the content on this site.

5. WordStream

Wordstream is a search engine and social media marketing software company that helps marketers drive the greatest ROI from their paid search and social media campaigns.

These free guides and ebooks distill learnings and best practices for users with varying levels of expertise running pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Here are some of its topics and offerings:

6. Social Lock

Social Lock is a social media consulting, management, and strategy agency that also provides educational content and courses.

The Standout Social Content Course is a comprehensive guide for small business owners who want to grow sales through social media. Although this course isn’t free, it’s available at an affordable rate and can even be paid in installments if you’re on a tight budget.

If you need free resources that can teach you how to generate revenue that can pay for a course like this, Social Lock offers a Hustle with Hashtags eBook and Social Media Post Ideas.

7. edX

edX is another MOOC provider that features courses offered by top-tier universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston University.

Like Coursera, classes are taught online and start at specific times throughout the year. Here are just a few of the many courses you can find on edX:

8. LinkedIn Learning (formerly

LinkedIn Learning hosts hundreds of courses taught by industry experts from all around the world.

The best part of LinkedIn Learning is that the course suggestions are customized to your profile.

If you have content marketing as a skill in your LinkedIn profile, the algorithm will suggest relevant courses, such as how to start a podcast or track the ROI of a content marketing strategy.

Similarly, your role will also influence the suggestions you see. As a marketing writer, I get recommended copywriting, SEO, and social media marketing courses. If I were a data scientist, I may be recommended courses on programming languages and machine learning.

To access the platform, the first month is free then up to $39.99/month.

9. Alison

Alison offers over 4,000 online classes in various professional skills users can take at their own pace.

This content repository includes courses that lead to certificates and diplomas — you choose which is best for your goals.

For an even more rigorous curriculum, you can choose a learning path that combines several lessons and courses into one learning track that gives you a well-rounded learning experience.

10. Meta Blueprint

At this point, you probably already know what Meta is (formerly Facebook) and what it does.

What you might not know is that the platform offers several training and certification programs.

Meta Blueprint offers self-paced and live e-learning courses for marketers seeking to grow their organizations using Facebook.

Blueprint offers classes in different languages on how to use Facebook and Instagram.

11. quintly Academy

quintly is a social media analytics tool that offers courses through quintly Academy.

The self-paced course provides an overview of social media analytics, benchmarking, and goaling using downloadable written materials and video lessons. These courses are available to take at no cost — simply sign in to enroll for free.

12. Google Digital Garage

Google is another company you’ve probably heard of before, and its digital marketing course offers a ton of valuable information if you plan to advertise on the search engine.

You can even take a Google AdWords certification at the end of the process that helps you beef up your resume.

Google has expanded its course offerings to include other types of digital marketing, too, so check out the site for up-to-date insights in the marketing world.

13. Codeacademy

Codeacademy offers free, interactive coding classes that take you from bare-bones to building a fully functioning website.

The courses we’ve highlighted below just scratch the surface, though. Codeacademy offers a variety of course topics so you can truly focus on your niche.

These classes include lectures and a workspace in the same browser window so you can see the effect of your work as you create it — how cool is that?

14. General Assembly

General Assembly offers live online courses that can be accessed for free or for a fee.

These courses specialize in technical skills and disciplines like the fundamentals of HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript.

Each one is categorized as one of five types that range from full-time immersive learning to on-demand learning. Once you choose your time commitment, simply find a course that works with your schedule.

15. Canva

Canva helps people easily make beautiful images for web design, and Canva Design School offers design courses that are valuable for any kind of storyteller.

The Creativity course explores the challenges of constant creation and innovation and how to do it well — with visuals, of course.

Become a Marketing Powerhouse with These Free Certifications

I’m sure all marketers (myself included) can agree that furthering our education in this field is a worthwhile way to advance our careers or businesses.

Earning a certificate from a reputable online course is one of the most convenient ways to accomplish this.

Whether you want to take a free online marketing class or you’d like to devote more time and resources to a paid one, you can’t go wrong with one from this list.

Just remember to focus your studying on a specific sector of marketing and develop a niche skillset — you’ll be well on your way to success as a consummate marketer.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in May 2018, but was updated in July 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness.

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How to Grow Your Podcast

Podcasts have become increasingly popular over the years for a variety of reasons. As more people work from home, listening to podcasts helps them feel like they’re a part of a discussion among friends. Podcasts are also easily accessible and can be listened to anywhere, whether you’re on a long commute or a quick jog.

As podcasts become more relevant, more seem to be published every day — so if you’re interested in starting one, you’re probably wondering how to grow your podcast audience and stand out above the rest.

Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to expand your podcast’s reach. From leveraging email marketing to networking with other podcasters, growing your podcast doesn’t have to be a challenge. Let’s explore several different tasks you can do to find your audience.

Submit your content to every podcast app and directory.
Have a target audience.
Add video to your podcast.
Be active on social media.
Network within the podcast community.
Share older podcast episodes.
Create a podcast trailer.
Host a contest or giveaway.
Set up and organize a website.
Leverage email marketing.
Invite guests.
Become a guest yourself.
Invest money in ads.
Use podcast SEO.
Build a marketing workflow.
Include a Call-to-Action.

How to Grow Your Podcast Audience in 16 Steps

Whether you’re a new podcaster building an audience from scratch or a more established podcaster trying to expand your reach, here are some methods you should include in your marketing strategy:

1. Submit your content to every podcast app and directory.

In order to grow your audience, your podcast needs to be available wherever the listeners are. To get that kind of exposure, submit your podcast’s RSS Feed to every podcast directory you can find.

Start with platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts since they are the most popular platforms — but don’t stop there. There are plenty of smaller podcast platforms listeners use every day, so you need to submit your RSS Feed to those places as well to attract as many listeners as possible.

Though submitting your podcast to all these different places might sound overwhelming, it’s actually very simple. Just open an account and submit your podcast to each show by completing a form. Once you’ve done that, your show will automatically update on each platform every time you post a new episode.

2. Have a target audience.

Creating a podcast you think everyone can enjoy may sound like a good idea, but podcasts without a niche are very difficult to market — especially if they’re brand new. Instead of trying to have mass appeal, find a clear focus for your podcast.

For example, For Colored Nerds is a weekly podcast that uses pop culture as a way to dissect different aspects of Black culture. The podcast was so successful it led to the hosts being picked up for another podcast called The Nod, which was adapted into a TV show on Quibi.

3. Add video to your podcast.

Video is still a preferred format for many consumers, so you should find ways to incorporate video into your podcast. One way to do this is to simply add a static image to your audio file so you can convert it to a video file.

Another way is to film yourself recording the podcast with your guests and co-hosts. You can also create short video clips of standout moments from your episodes. No matter what you decide, always post video content to YouTube and apps like Instagram and TikTok.

4. Be active on social media.

Attract and engage with your audience online by responding to comments on apps like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. For example, Crissle West is one of the hosts of a podcast called The Read.

In between episodes she can be found on Twitter interacting with her followers, posting about her favorite artists, and answering questions about episodes. The Read also has a segment that focuses on mental health, and Crissle will sometimes post mental health advice on Twitter as well.

5. Network within the podcast community.

Join Facebook groups, Reddit forums, and other online podcaster communities to network. In these digital spaces, you can answer questions, get useful tips, contribute to discussion topics, and showcase your personality.

Another way to get involved in the podcast community is to attend conferences, exhibitions, and meetups geared towards podcasters and content creators in your niche. Networking within the community will open doors to new opportunities, help you find great guest speakers, and will help you guest on other podcasts.

6. Share older podcast episodes.

Promoting your latest episode is important, but you shouldn’t stop there. Give your older episodes a second life online by sharing older clips whenever possible.

For example, if there is a topic trending on social media that you’ve covered in an old episode, share a clip from that episode that coincides with the trending discussion. You can also make a compilation video of some of your favorite moments from past episodes and post it on YouTube.

7. Create a podcast trailer.

In the same way movie trailers can entice viewers to watch a new film, podcast trailers can entice listeners to tune in. For the trailer, avoid just using a snippet from a previous episode.

Instead, get creative and craft something that perfectly captures your podcast’s value. You can do this by compiling a montage of clips or using narration. Be sure to showcase your best moments and the biggest guests you’ve had on the show.

Once you’ve created your custom trailer, post it on all platforms — and pin the trailer to the top of your profiles so it’s the first thing potential listeners see.

8. Host a contest or giveaway.

Few people can resist the allure of free stuff, so contests and giveaways are one of the easiest ways to attract an audience to your podcast —but be aware that some people will only engage with your podcast for the chance to win something and won’t stick around after the contest or giveaway is over.

To make the contest work in your favor, have listeners leave reviews or generate buzz about your podcast for a chance to win.

For example, announce the giveaway on your show and on social media. Tell your listeners to leave reviews about your podcast on platforms like Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, — then you can pick a random reviewer to win. Even if that person never tunes in again after winning the prize, their favorable review will last forever.

9. Set up and organize a website.

Your listeners will likely only listen to your podcast on their favorite platforms, but having a website can still help your podcast grow its audience. A website will give potential listeners the opportunity to find your site, listen to a sample of an episode or two, and read what your podcast is about before deciding to commit to listening fully.

Make sure to use SEO to boost your website in search results. To do this, create a unique page on your website for every new episode. Then add notes and a complete transcript of your episode to the page. Use keywords in the notes, descriptions, and wherever appropriate.

10. Leverage email marketing.

Another perk to having a website is that it can collect email addresses you can send marketing content to. Add sign up boxes at the end of each blog post and to your social media profiles, or you can overlay the entire website to get your fans email addresses.

Once you have that information, you can send email notifications whenever a new episode drops or send a weekly newsletter. Don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, if you run a podcast about comic books, you can send listeners an email recommending a new Marvel film hitting theaters.

11. Invite guests.

Interview guests who are within your niche so that you can expose your content to their audience. Your guest will likely take to social media to promote their appearance on your podcast, resulting in free marketing.

You also don’t have to invite famous celebrities or high-profile influencers. Though guests with a large fanbase are valuable, anyone with a good story that fits within your topic can make your podcast stand out. Just make sure you’re prepared with good questions and a topic of discussion.

12. Become a guest yourself.

You’ve networked within the podcast community and have had guests on your platform, so why not use the connections you’ve made to become a guest yourself? If you’re not being invited organically then reach out to shows you think you can add value to.

When you do this, prepare an elevator pitch that explains who you are, what you do, and why you’d be an excellent guest. And once you’re a guest, don’t forget to promote your podcast, social media, and website.

13. Invest money in ads.

The strategies I’ve listed all have the potential to grow your channel over time, but if you want quicker results you should also leverage paid advertising. For example, you can purchase ad space on another podcast that is similar to yours.

If you go this route, purchase space on about four episodes to get enough exposure. You can also purchase Google and Facebook Ads to boost visibility.

14. Use podcast SEO.

I mentioned using SEO for your podcast’s website, but podcast SEO is just as important. Since podcasts are an audio medium, there aren’t a whole lot of SEO opportunities — but there are still a few to take advantage of.

Include the names of any guests, topics, or events in your episode that can grab listeners’ attention when they’re searching podcast directories. You should also include words and phrases in your description and headlines that listeners would type into search engines.

15. Build a marketing workflow.

Create a checklist to follow each time you publish a new episode. This will help you stay consistent in your marketing efforts and ensure every episode is getting the same chance to flourish online.

Over time, you can refine your marketing flow as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Here are some tasks to include in your workflow:

Craft promotional posts, graphics, and videos for TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Deliver media kits with social media posts and copy to guests so they can easily promote the episode.
Publish a blog post to the website with the episode’s description and transcription.
Add the latest episode to your email signature.

16. Include a Call-to-Action.

At some point in every podcast episode you need to include a call to action. A CTA is a request for listeners to do something. Most podcasts typically have them at the beginning and end of each episode. Your CTA should be attention-grabbing but also short and simple. Here are a few examples:

“Remember to follow [Podcast Name] on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok for the latest news regarding episodes and contests.”

“Make sure to hit the subscribe button if you haven’t already so you’ll never miss an episode.”
“Visit our website so you can subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest updates on our show straight to your email.”

Once again, always include a CTA in every podcast episode, in fact — make it a part of your marketing workflow.

It seems like a new podcast is airing every day, but these tips will help your podcast stand apart from the competition. Now that you know what you need to do, you’re ready to start promoting your podcast and growing your audience.

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Instagram Cancels Plans for TikTok-Like Full-Screen Video Feed: What Brands Can Learn

Gone almost as fast as it was introduced — Instagram’s full-screen video feed proposal has been retired.

Earlier this summer, Instagram revealed plans to test out a new full-screen mode for its feed and an updated navigation bar, hoping to make content on the platform more immersive than its signature, scrollable picture feed.

This decision was congruent with the company’s stated goal of making its competition with TikTok a major priority, as the appeal of TikTok lies within its fullscreen randomized video feed, intuitive algorithm, and easy to navigate UX.

Image Source

To rival their competitor in the form of mimicry entailed putting more reels and suggested content into the feeds of Instagram users, and to put more an emphasis on video content as opposed to stills.

Michael Sayman, a former software engineer with experience working in Facebook, Google and Twitter says, “Everyone’s eyes are glued to TikTok and the way it works right now,” in regard to the way it’s won over younger age demographics.

Instagram knew their target demographic was primarily Millennials; roughly 31% of global Instagram audiences were aged between 25 and 34 years.

TikTok, on the other hand, has amassed a massive following of Gen X and Gen Z; 25% aged between 10 to 19 years, and 22% to users aged between 20 and 29. Instagram wanted to tap into the success garnered from younger audiences as TikTok grew exponentially in 2021, generating $4.6 billion, a 142% increase year-on-year.

Why did Instagram walk back its plans?

Any social media marketer can tell you that a successful brand needs to be adaptable and reflect changes in user behavior, but this constant need for innovation can be met with huge success, or a PR blunder. Instagram experienced the latter.

Outcry of dismay came from viral infographics in the Instagram app and seeped out into competitor platforms from users upset at the announcement.

The most viral calls for Instagram to cancel its plans were in the form of a petition titled, “MAKE INSTAGRAM INSTAGRAM AGAIN.” That was even endorsed by the likes of celebrities such as Kylie Jenner who’ve amassed over 300 million followers on the platform.

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I can only imagine the panic that Instagram’s marketing team had gone through after the announcement as a marketer myself, but I can see why it played out the way it did. There were many factors that could have led to this eruption of emotion at the company’s announcement.

Why Instagrammers Don’t Want the Full Screen

Social media users don’t necessarily dislike viewing fullscreen content. If that was the case then TikTok wouldn’t have amounted to over one billion monthly active users.

What really makes people dislike the full-screen UX change is that it takes away what they enjoy most from the app — its originality and the nostalgia its user base loves is something that they don’t want to fade away.

Instagram’s current feed draws in consumers differently from competitors because it’s:

More intimate and than fleeting or short tweets on Twitter
A “cooler” social space to connect with friends, family and creators than Facebook
More diverse active users with longer-lasting content than Snapchat
Isn’t exclusionary like Clubhouse

The further it strays from its original mission and vision, especially with previous editions like shopping features and reels, the less users will actually derive value or emotional attachment to the platform they know and love.

Dear Instagram, please stop trying to be TikTok. I want to see photos from friends, not videos from strangers.

— Abby Libby stands with Libs of Tiktok (@abbythelibb_)
August 7, 2022

What Brands Can Learn

The fact that Instagram learned from its mistake and rolled back its planned feed changes is a teachable moment for marketers and brands looking to avoid this type of uproar.

1. Run major UX changes by your audiences.

Your biggest asset as a social media channel is your users. They’re the ones that drive your relevance, produce content that reel in more sign-ups, and make your platform worth visiting — so why would you exclude them from the conversation?

Your audience knows and uses your platform on a daily basis, so when you prepare soft-launch UX changes, let them know. Notify your audience of what’s to come and give them the ability to chime in, this is known as social listening and has the potential to increase your company’s longevity if you can keep them satisfied.

2. Understand what your audience wants from you.

One of the most prevalent complaints I’ve seen through the past few years on social media channels like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram is that the new updates in UX/UI are usually never the ones users are actively asking for.

Coming from my own experience online, I’ve found that the most common gripes social media users have shared is their disinterest in changes that no one’s really asked for.

For years, the two most talked about demands have been for Instagram to:

Prioritize chronological timelines over suggested feed
Revert the algorithm to prioritize photos

And while not every request is feasible, or necessarily in the vision of the brand’s future, understanding the want and needs of the people using your product or service is necessary for continued growth and improvement.

3. Identify where to innovate rather than compete.

Brands have to learn how to do more than just mimic to establish market dominance, and that can manifest from refocusing on innovation.

Re-centering strategy on more in-depth market research and exploring ideas that haven’t already been done can be a challenge, especially when the dta isn’t already there to back up on its success, but it’s worth trying if you invest the time and effort to figure out what’ll take the digital world by storm.

4. Learn when and how to pivot.

Effective and organized change management is an important part of any growing or evolving company.

As marketers, our job is to make the brand image shine with each and every addition, change or innovation your brand executes. But in the case of an abandoned idea, you’ve got to work against the clock to refocus on the next best thing.

Marketing is a constant experiment with never ending variables, so prioritize on adapting with those variables as they come.

What’s Next For Instagram?

In July, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri wrote, Now, I want to be clear: We’re going to continue to support photos—it’s part of our heritage, you know, I love photos; I know a lot of you out there love photos too. That said, I need to be honest—I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.”

“We see this even if we change nothing. We see this even if you just look at the chronological feed,” he added. “If you look at what people share on Instagram, that’s shifting more and more to videos overtime. If you look at what people like and consume and view on Instagram, that’s also shifting more and more to video over time, even when we stop changing anything. So, we’re going to have to lean into that shift while continuing to support photos.”

From this message alone — it’s safe to say that Instagram isn’t going to shy away from change. As one of the largest social media platforms, it has a lot at stake if it becomes too stale or stagnant, but also has just as much to lose if it fails to keep its charm.

And as fast as the company was to implement and cancel TikTok-like video feed plans, it seems they’re already in the works of adding new challenge-like features against even newer competitors like BeReal.

Wherever Instagram’s headed, I hope its team takes heed from users and keeps a healthy balance between active listening and innovating.