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Product Launch Checklist: How to Launch a Product, According to HubSpot’s Experts

Like a tree falling in the woods, if you plan a product launch without spreading the word — will anyone use it? Will anyone even want it?

Probably not. Whether you’re launching something huge, something small, or you’re updating a current offering, you’ll want to start your preparation well in advance of the launch date with a product launch checklist.

Because there are so many moving parts in this process, bringing your product to market can be intimidating and tricky. To help you, we’ve come up with a step-by-step checklist for a successful product launch and gathered the best product launch tips from a HubSpot Product Marketer.

1. Learn about your customer.

Whether you call it “market research,” or “customer development” it’s key to learn about what drives your customer. Identifying their goals, motivations, and pain points could lead you to developing and marketing a valuable solution.

You don’t need to perform years of intense research to learn about your customer. In fact, we suggest just talking to 12 to 15 current or prospective customers.

When speaking to them, pay extra attention when they start sentences with “I wish a product did this function…” or “Why can’t products do this?” When they give these statements, respond with questions that go deeper, like “Can you get more specific about that?” If they don’t bring up any pain points, ask them a few specific questions that will encourage them to give deeper answers.

These conversations will give you a solid idea of what their biggest pain points are and how you can market a solution to them. Once you learn these key details about your customers, you can develop a buyer persona that your team can focus on serving.

2. Write a positioning statement.

Write out a statement that can clearly and concisely answer these three questions:

Who is the product for?
What does the product do?
Why is it different from other products out there?

If you’d like to go even deeper, create a statement that answers the following questions:

What is your target audience?
What segment of the target audience is most likely to buy the product?
What brand name will you give your product or service?
What product or service category does your product lie in?
How is it different from competitors in the same category?
What evidence or proof do you have to prove that your product is different?

Still need more guidance on how to write a positioning statement? Check out this template.

3. Pitch your positioning to stakeholders.

Once you’ve established your position statement, present it to stakeholders in your company so they are all on the same page.

If your employees have a hard time buying into the product, your customers might as well. If your team loves it, that might be a great sign that the product launch will go well.

4. Plan your go-to-market strategy.

This is the strategy that you will use to launch and promote your product. While some businesses prefer to build a funnel strategy, others prefer the flywheel approach.

Regardless of which method you choose, this process contains many moving parts. To create an organized strategy for launching your product, it can be helpful to use a template, like this one.

As you create the strategy, also start considering which type of content you’ll use to attract a prospective customer’s attention during the awareness, consideration, and purchase decision stage. You’ll need to produce this content in the next step.

5. Set a goal for the launch.

Before you get started on implementing your strategy, make sure you write down your goals for the launch.

Alex Girard, a Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, says, “Create specific goals for the launch’s success. Keeping these goals in mind will help you focus your efforts on launch tactics that will help you achieve those goals.”

For example, the goals of your product launch could be to effectively establish a new product name, build awareness, or create sales opportunities.

One of the best ways to set goals for your launch team is to write them out like SMART goals. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

6. Create promotional content.

After planning out your go-to-market strategy and writing your SMART goals, start producing content that will support and align with those promotional efforts. This can include blog posts related to your product or industry, demos and tutorials, and landing pages.

Our go-to-market template will also help you determine which content you should create for each phase of your prospective customer’s buyer’s journey.

7. Prepare your team.

Be sure that your company and key stakeholders are ready for you to launch and begin marketing the product. Communicate with the company through internal presentations, Slack, or email to keep your company updated on your launch plan.

8. Launch the product

Once you’ve completed all the above steps, you can launch the product.

9. See how well you did in achieving your goals.

After you launch your product, track how the go-to-market strategy is performing. Be prepared to pivot or adjust aspects of your plan if they aren’t going smoothly.

Additionally, don’t forget about the goals you set before the launch. See how well you did in achieving those goals. If the launch didn’t meet expectations, you can rethink your go-to-market strategy and adjust from there.

The cost of launching a new product varies significantly. For instance, an entrepreneur will see vastly different costs for launching a product on Amazon than an enterprise company might see for launching a product in a million-dollar market. 

Let’s consider two examples to explore this more closely. 

In the first example, let’s say you’re an entrepreneur who has invented a design app you’re hoping to sell online. You might conduct market research to determine which marketing strategies work best for your goals, which messaging resonates best with your audience, and which design elements appeal to your desired prospects. If you use a few focus groups to determine these answers, you might expect to spend roughly $5,000. 

When you’re bringing a new app to the market, you’ll need to choose the best go-to marketing strategy for your needs. Regardless of the strategy you choose, they all cost money. For instance, product branding could cost roughly $1,000 if you’re paying a designer to help you out, and website design could cost anywhere from $500-$3,000 if you’re paying a web designer a one-off fee. 

These fees don’t include the cost you need to pay yourself and any employees if this is a full-time job. It also doesn’t include the costs of hiring an engineer to update the app’s features and ensure the app is running smoothly. 

With this simplified example, you’re looking at roughly $8,000. Of course, you can cut some costs if you choose to do any of these tasks yourself, but you might risk creating a subpar customer experience.

On the other end of the spectrum, let’s consider a large enterprise company that is launching a new product. Here, you’ll likely pay upwards of $30,000 – $50,000 for market research.

Perhaps you’ll spend $15,000 on brand positioning and the marketing materials necessary to differentiate yourself against competitors, and you might pay upwards of $30,000 for all the product design and brand packaging. Finally, your marketing team could need a budget of roughly $20,000 for SEO, paid advertising, social, content creation, etc. 

All said and done, launching a product against other enterprise competitors’ could cost roughly $125,000. Again, that doesn’t include the costs you’ll pay your marketing, product development, and engineering teams. 

How to Launch a Product Online

To launch your product online, you’ll want to ensure you’ve followed the steps above. However, there are a few additional steps you’ll want to follow to gain traction primarily online. 

1. Figure out the story you want to tell regarding your product’s bigger purpose. 

What story do you want to tell across social platforms, landing pages, and email? This is similar to your positioning statement but needs to be geared entirely toward your target audience. Ask questions like, Why should they purchase your product? And How will your product or service make their lives better? 

Communicating cross-functionally ensures the communication materials you use across various online channels align — which is key when it comes to establishing a new product in the marketplace. 

Consider, for instance, how Living Proof announced its new product, Advanced Clean Dry Shampoo, on its Instagram page. The story revolves around a simple nuisance common with most other dry shampoos — How consumers still want that just-washed feeling, even when using a dry shampoo. 

Image Source

By focusing on how the product will benefit consumers through storytelling, and using a new hashtag #NoWastedWashes, Living Proof builds excitement and demand for its new product. 

2. Display customer testimonials, case studies, and other social evidence to positively frame your new product. 

Consumers want to see that other consumers have already taken the risk and purchased your new product before doing it themselves. This is where social proof comes into play. 

In the weeks leading up to a product launch, or shortly after it’s launch, begin posting customer testimonials, reviews, and case studies to showcase how your new product has already helped other people. Take this a step further and employ influencers to share the word about your product as well, if it’s a good fit for your brand. 

Consumers are smart enough to know they shouldn’t trust every advertisement they see — but they can trust fellow consumers. So leverage that trust through social proof methods. 

3. Create a social and email campaign. 

Create a full, comprehensive social media campaign to increase interest and awareness of your new product.

Use paid advertising to reach new audiences, create full product explainer videos to use across your social channels, and use email to reach existing customers and provide an exclusive, first look at your new product’s features.

Additionally, you might consider hosting a live stream to connect directly with prospects and existing customers and invite experts from your product development team to explain the new features of your product. 

It’s important to note — in this stage, you’ll want to pay attention to how consumers are interacting with the communication materials regarding your new product. Share concerns and feedback with the product development team — it’s important to trust your consumers and use their feedback to strengthen your product. 

4. Have a pre-order option. 

If a consumer is excited to purchase your new product, don’t make them wait — provide an option to pre-order the product or service before it’s even available. This helps spread out demand while enabling consumers to purchase the product whenever they’re feeling most inclined to do so.

Product Launch Best Practices by Industry

1. How to Launch a Digital Product

When launching a digital product, you’ll want to begin building anticipation with a strong content marketing strategy. Use blog posts, email marketing, social media, and other channels of distribution to increase interest and demand for your digital product. 

You’ll also want to ensure you’re leveraging lead generation strategies to reach existing customers and prospects. 

For instance, let’s say you’re launching an online course on SEO. In the weeks leading up to the launch, you might create SEO-related blog content to send to your email subscribers with an option to join the SEO course’s waitlist. This helps you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing materials while reaching an audience that has already demonstrated interest in your brand. 

How to Launch a Product on Amazon

Anyone who’s ever shopped on Amazon knows the importance of a good product listing. In the weeks leading up to launch, take the time to create a strong, high-converting product listing — including taking high-resolution photos of your product, writing a description that outlines your product’s differentiating features, and using keywords to help your product rank on Amazon

Additionally, product reviews are incredibly important on Amazon, so you’ll want to ensure you have reviews ready to go before you even launch your product on Amazon. To do this, ensure you’ve either launched your product on your own website first (which gives you time to earn reviews before launching on Amazon), or send your product to a select group of interested buyers ahead of the full launch, and collect reviews from them. 

Finally, ensure you’re ready for an Amazon product launch by checking inventory. You never know how quickly your product might gain traction on the eCommerce superstore, so make sure you have enough products to fulfill Amazon orders quickly. 

Take a look at HubSpot’s The Ultimate Guide to Selling on Amazon for more information related to Amazon. 

How to Launch a SaaS Product

To launch a SaaS product, you’ll want to start by researching competitors and understanding the marketplace at large.  There’s plenty of demand for SaaS products, as the industry is expected to grow by more than 16% by 2026. However, the SaaS industry is also well-saturated, so before launching a SaaS product, you’ll want to determine how your product differs from all the others in the industry. 

To create a successful product launch, you’ll want to conduct market research and focus groups to determine the true benefits and differentiators of your product. 

Next, you’ll want to employ a strong content marketing strategy to increase your website’s visibility on search engines and to ensure your business is appearing in search results for topics related to your product. 

Since you aren’t launching a physical product, your marketing efforts need to convince businesses that your product can solve their needs. For instance, take a look at how HubSpot positioned the new Operations Hub product.

Additionally, you might want to offer free trials or a freemium option for smaller businesses on lower budgets to test out your offerings before committing. 

For a full SaaS rundown, take a look at HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Software as a Service (SaaS)

How to Launch a Food Product

To launch a food product, you’ll first need to ensure you’re prepared for the costs required to do so — including how much it costs to package and store the product (including packaging, warehousing, and distribution), and how much it costs to sell the product (including branding and digital marketing). 

Next, you’ll want to follow federal and state food regulations. For instance, you need to ensure you’re following health department rules for food preparation surfaces, refrigeration, and sanitation.

You’ll also need to make sure the labeling you use on your product’s packaging is accurate, which requires you to send your food product to a lab for analysis and check with your state commerce to see what it requires when it comes to nutrition labels. 

When launching a food product, you’ll likely want to hire a food broker. A food broker can foster relationships with national or local grocery stores and will create a promotional plan to help increase sales as soon as your food hits the shelves. 

Typically, a supermarket will test out your product for a few months before determining if there’s enough consumer interest to keep it stocked — which is why a food broker can be incredibly useful for using business intelligence and industry knowledge to ensure a successful food product launch. 

Product Launch Tips

To learn the best practices for a successful product launch, I talked to Alex Girard again.

The HubSpot Product Marketing Manager said he had three main tips for a successful product launch:

Your product positioning should reflect a shift you’re seeing in the world, and how your product helps your customers take advantage of that shift.
Create a recurring schedule for you and the core stakeholders for the launch to check in and ensure you’re all on the same page.
Make sure you keep the product team in the loop on your marketing plans. The product team could have insights that inform your overall marketing campaign.

However, sometimes, external factors might impact your ability to launch a product. When that happens, you might need to delay your launch.

How to Know When to Delay a Product Launch

To understand when, and why, you might hold off on a product launch, Girard told me there are three key reasons why you might want to delay a product launch, including:

When your product itself isn’t ready and you need to change your timeline to create the best customer experience possible.
If a situation occurs where your current customers are having a less-than-optimal experience with one of your current products. Before launching and promoting a new product, you should make sure your current customers are satisfied with your existing product offering.
If something occurs on an international, national, state, or local level that requires your audience to readjust their priorities and shift focus away from your company and its product launch. Make sure that when the time comes to launch, your target audience is ready to learn about your new product.

If you’re looking for templates to coordinate your team efforts and align your company around your new product’s messaging, download our free product marketing kit below.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

 
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The 2 Simple & Straightforward Methods for Market Sizing Your Business

When you’re considering a new venture, one of the first things you should do is determine whether there is a valuable market for it.

Imagine putting in months of hard work to realize that there are only 100 people in the U.S. who will potentially buy your product. Knowing this early on will enable you to make educated business decisions and decide what’s worth pursuing.

Discover the methods to calculate your market size and accurately measure your business’ revenue potential.

There are several reasons why every business should spend time sizing its market:

It helps you determine if it’s a worthy investment – Say you have a great idea for a product but there are currently only 100 people who would buy it. From there, you can decide if that population size is worth the cost of manufacturing, production, distribution, and more for your product.

It helps you estimate maximum total profit – If you know how many people your business has the potential to reach, you can estimate how much revenue you can generate. This is valuable for both business owners as well as investors.

Who you’re marketing to and what their needs are – No business can succeed without marketing. Knowing your market size is the first step in understanding your target market and their needs.

Market Sizing Methods

Top Down Approach

The first is a top-down approach, in which you start by looking at the market as a whole, from a bird’s eye view, then refine it to get an accurate market size. That would look like starting from your total addressable market and filtering from there.

Market Sizing Example

Let’s say you want to launch a wine company. First, you’d want to determine how many liquor stores are in the United States — this helps you figure out the total market to which you could theoretically sell your product.

After your research, you discover there are 50,000 liquor stores in the United States. Of that total list, you only want to sell to the New England area — including Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island.

You determine your target market includes the 1,000 liquor stores in the New England area. From here, you conduct research and speak with alcohol distributors to determine there’s a roughly 40% success rate for wine distribution.

Using this as an example, we’d calculate the market size using the following formula:

1,000 liquor stores x 40% = 400 liquor stores

Then, if you assume each liquor store will result in $20,000, you can figure out potential revenue using the following formula:

400 liquor stores x $20,000 = $8,000,000

This means you stand to make $8 million if you penetrate 40% of the total market in the New England area.

Bottom-Up Approach

A bottom-up approach is the exact opposite – starting small and working your way outward.

This looks like first identifying the number of units you can expect to sell then considering how many sales you anticipate from each buyer and finally the average price per unit.

Market Sizing Example

Using the same wine example – Say you found recent data showing that the average cost of a wine bottle in New England is $10. A survey shows that the average consumer buys one bottle of wine a week, or 48 bottles a year. This means that the average consumer spends $480 per year on wine.

Next, you discover that the number of consumers (or households) you can expect to reach in the New England area is 16,000.

As a result, your market size is 480 x 16,000 = $8,000,000.

It’s important to note that both methods ignore the existence of competitors, customer churn rate, and other factors that impact sales. With this in mind, you’ll want to remain conservative when estimating how much of the market size you’ll win and use this as a starting point.

How to Leverage Your Market Size

You have your estimated market size — now what?

Market size helps your business answer the following questions:

How much potential revenue can we earn from this particular market? In other words, is it even worth our time and energy?

Is the market big enough to interest us?

Is the market growing? Will there still be opportunities to earn revenue from this market in 3, 5, 10 years?

Market size is a critical number to know when you’re looking for funding. Investors are going to need to know how much money they have the potential to make from a given market. Additionally, it’s vital to recognize whether the potential revenue you can make outweighs your business’ costs.

Once you have market size, you’ll also want to consider how saturated the market already is with your competitors’ products.

Ultimately, you can’t capture the total addressable market (TAM) — some of those people will choose competitors’ products over yours. So you’ll need to determine whether you have a shot at earning enough consumers out of the TAM to make this a worthwhile venture.

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

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The 6 Stages of the Product Life Cycle

When I was 12 years old, I used to be confused about my cousin’s CD collection. Why have CDs when I could go on iTunes and listen to all my favorite songs? This is a perfect example of a product life cycle (PLC) in action.

No one wants their product to become “obsolete” and reach the end of its product life cycle. That’s why it’s important to understand what stage your product is in so you can make better marketing and business decisions.

Below, we’ll learn about the product life cycle inside and out. If you’re in a pinch, use the links below to jump straight to what you need:

What is the product life cycle?
Breaking Down the Product Life Cycle Theory
What are the stages of the product life cycle?
Product Life Cycle Examples
International Product Life Cycle
When to Use the Product Life Cycle

In the marketing industry, the typical depiction of the product life cycle only has four main stages — Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. At HubSpot, we agree that these are vital for a product, but the two stages “Development” and “Decline” aren’t nearly covered enough.

As marketers, it’s important to understand how your tactics and strategies change depending on the stage your product is in. Let’s break down each of the six stages of the product life cycle.

Breaking Down the Product Life Cycle Theory

In the late ‘60s, Harvard Business School professor Raymond Vernon developed this marketing theory in response to an economic model that failed to account for trends present in international trade – that’s why it was originally called the international product life cycle theory.

It stated that products developed in an international market had three phases:

New product
Maturing product
Standardized product

Here’s a quick breakdown of his theory.

Vernon theorized a new product would perform best in its country of origin to keep manufacturing and production costs low. Once the product gained demand, companies could begin exporting to other countries and continue building local production plants in each new location.

Having these local plants would offer the flexibility to make changes to the product without incurring huge costs.

The standardized phase would involve an influx of competitors, which would lead the company to focus on driving down production and manufacturing costs to remain competitive. As the market becomes saturated and a new product gets introduced, the company loses its relevance in its home country and shifts gears to create something new, with the cycle beginning again.

Since then, the product life cycle theory has evolved to focus less on geography and more on marketing. Let’s dive into it next.

You can use this template to map out your own product’s life cycle phases.

Download the Free Product Life Cycle Template

1. Development

The development stage of the product life cycle is the research phase before a product is introduced to the marketplace. This is when companies bring in investors, develop prototypes, test product effectiveness, and strategize their launch.

In this stage, companies typically spend a lot of money without bringing in any revenue because the product isn’t being sold yet.

This phase can last for a long time, depending on the complexity of the product, how new it is, and the competition. For a completely new product, the development stage is particularly difficult because the first pioneer of a product isn’t always as successful as later iterations.

Development Stage Marketing Strategy

While marketing typically begins in the introduction stage, you can begin to build “buzz” around your product by securing the endorsement of established voices in the industry.

You can also publish early (and favorable) consumer research or testimonials. Your marketing goal during this stage is to build upon your brand awareness and establish yourself as an innovative company.

2. Introduction

The introduction stage happens when a product is launched in the marketplace. This is when marketing teams begin building product awareness and targeting potential customers. Typically, when a product is introduced, sales are low and demand builds slowly.

In this phase, marketers focus on advertising and marketing campaigns. They also work on testing distribution channels and building product and brand awareness.

Introduction Stage Marketing Strategy

This is where the fun begins. Now that the product is launched, you can actually promote it using inbound marketing and content marketing.

Education is vital in this stage. If your marketing strategies are successful, the product goes into the next stage — growth.

3. Growth

During the growth stage, consumers have accepted the product in the market and customers are beginning to truly buy in. That means demand and profits are growing, hopefully at a steadily rapid pace.

The growth stage is when the market for the product is expanding and competition begins developing. Potential competitors will see your success and will want in.

Growth Stage Marketing Strategy

During this phase, marketing campaigns often shift from getting customers’ buy-in to establishing a brand presence so consumers choose them over developing competitors. Additionally, as companies grow, they’ll begin to open new distribution channels and add more features and support services. In your strategy, you’ll advertise these as well.

4. Maturity

The maturity stage is when the sales begin to level off from the rapid growth period. At this point, companies begin to reduce their prices so they can stay competitive amongst the growing competition.

This is the phase where a company begins to become more efficient and learns from the mistakes made in the introduction and growth stages. Marketing campaigns are typically focused on differentiation rather than awareness. This means that product features might be enhanced, prices might be lowered, and distribution becomes more intensive.

During the maturity stage, products begin to enter the most profitable stage. The cost of production declines while the sales are increasing.

Maturity Stage Marketing Strategy

When your product has become a mature offering, you may feel like you’re “sailing by” because sales are steady and the product has been established. But this is where it’s critical to establish yourself as a leader and differentiate your brand.

Continuously improve upon the product as adoption grows, and let consumers know in your marketing strategy that the product they love is better than it was before. This will protect you during the next stage — saturation.

5. Saturation

During the product saturation stage, competitors have begun to take a portion of the market and products will experience neither growth nor decline in sales.

Typically, this is the point when most consumers are using a product, but there are many competing companies. At this point, you want your product to become the brand preference so you don’t enter the decline stage.

Saturation Stage Marketing Strategy

When the market has become saturated, you’ll need to focus on differentiation in features, brand awareness, price, and customer service. Competition is highest at this stage, so it’s critical to leave no doubt regarding the superiority of your product.

If innovation at the product level isn’t possible (because the product only needs minor tweaks at this point), then invest in your customer service and use customer testimonials in your marketing.

6. Decline

Unfortunately, if your product doesn’t become the preferred brand in a marketplace, you’ll typically experience a decline. Sales will decrease during the heightened competition, which is hard to overcome.

Additionally, new trends emerge as time goes on, just like the CD example I mentioned earlier. If a company is at this stage, it’ll either discontinue its product, sell the company, or innovate and iterate on its product in some way.

Decline Stage Marketing Strategy

While companies would want to avoid the decline stage, sometimes there’s no helping it — especially if the entire market reached a decline. In your marketing strategy, you can emphasize the superiority of your solution to successfully get out of this stage.

To extend the product life cycle, successful companies can also implement new advertising strategies, reduce prices, add new features to increase their value proposition, explore new markets, or adjust brand packaging.

The best companies will usually have products at several points in the product life cycle at any given time. Some companies look to other countries to begin the cycle anew.

Now that we’ve gone through stages, let’s review some real-life examples of them in action.

Let’s follow the product life cycle of popular products that have since reached the decline stage.

1. The Typewriter

The typewriter was the first mechanical writing tool — a worthy successor to pen and paper. Ultimately, however, other technologies gained traction and replaced it.

Development: Before the first commercial typewriter was introduced to the market, the overall idea had been developed for centuries, beginning in 1575.
Introduction: In the late 1800s, the first commercial typewriters were introduced.
Growth: The typewriter quickly became an indispensable tool for all forms of writing, becoming widely used in offices, businesses, and private homes.
Maturity: Typewriters were in the maturity phase for nearly 80 years, because this was the preferred product for typing communications up until the 1980s.
Saturation: During the saturation stage, typewriters began to face fierce competition with computers in the 1990s.
Decline: Overall, the typewriter couldn’t withstand the competition of new emerging technologies, and eventually the product was discontinued.

2. Vine

Skipping forward to the 21st century, we see the rise and fall of Vine, a short-form video-sharing app that was the source for many memes at its peak but eventually declined due to other platforms.

Development: Vine was founded in June 2012 and mainly competed with Instagram.
Introduction: The app was introduced to the public in 2013. Its differentiating factor was its short-form video format — users had only seven seconds to film something that was hilarious, absurd, or a mixture of both.
Growth: Only two years after its release, Vine had over 200 million active users. Its popularity led to the advent of the phrase “Do it for the Vine.”
Maturity: Because it was only in the market for a few years, Vine never reached the maturity stage. While adoption was high, it was still a fairly new app.
Saturation: Vine competed in an already saturated market. Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube were the pre-eminent names in their category, and Vine soon started to decline in use.
Decline: When Musical.ly was introduced, Vine lost a large amount of its user base and shut down. It was succeeded by Byte, a similar short-form video-sharing platform, but none of these have been able to surpass Tik Tok, which launched months after Vine’s end in 2016.

3. Cable TV

Remember the days of switching TV channels to find what to watch? I do — and they feel distinctly like something of the past. While cable TV is still around, it’s safe to say that it’s nearing the decline stage.

Development: Cable TV was developed in the first half of the twentieth century. John Walson has been credited with its invention.
Introduction: The first commercial television system was introduced in 1950, and by 1962, the technology saw the first hints of growth.
Growth: After a decades-long freeze on cable TV’s development (due to regulatory restrictions), the technology began gaining traction, and by 1980, more than 15 million households had cable.
Maturity: Cable TV matured around the 1990s. Around seven in ten households had cable.
Saturation: The start of the 21st century saw an oversaturation of this technology, and it also started to compete with other modern developments such as on-demand services and high-definition TV (HDTV). While the internet was still in its nascent stages, it would soon gain on cable TV as well.
Decline: From 2015 onwards, cable TV experienced a marked decline. Online video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have taken precedence — and this trend is set to continue.

4. Floppy Disk

This relic was once a popular and convenient way to store and share data between computers. I barely understood what they were growing up, and it astounds me to think of the very existence of cloud data sharing and other mass memory storage means.

Development: The first floppy disk was developed in 1970 by IBM engineers. It was an 8-inch flexible magnetic disk in a square case with 2MB storage capacity.
Introduction: It was introduced in 1971 and largely became known as the only way to transfer or store data.
Growth: The floppy disk was majorly used in the 1980s-1990s.
Maturity: Sold well in the market during the 1990s. Improving with time, it could hold 200MB of storage.
Saturation: Major competitors emerged at the beginning of the 21st century. The invention of USB cables, external hard disks, and CDs gave people options to store their data.
Decline: The floppy disk faced a major decline up to Hewlett-Packard stopping production for the disk in 2009. The storage capacity for other products in the market grew to be more efficient.

Not all products need to face the decline stage. Companies can extend the product life cycle with new iterations and stay afloat as long as they have several products at various points of the product life cycle.

International Product Life Cycle

The international product life cycle (IPL) is the cycle a product goes through in international markets. As products begin to mature and companies want to avoid the decline stage, they’ll typically begin to explore new markets globally.

When products reach mass production, manufacturing and production shift to other countries as well.

The international product life cycle stages are identical to that of a normal product life cycle. The development stage looks different, however, because local customs and regulations can affect how long it takes to bring the product to a new marketplace.

However, once you lay the groundwork in a new marketplace, your competitors will be sure to follow, and the life cycle stages will continue up until saturation and eventually decline. Your option is to either expand into another market or learn from prior mistakes and innovate before the decline stage rolls around.

Next, we’ll look at when you should use the product life cycle.

When to Use the Product Life Cycle

Businesses use the product life cycle to achieve the following:

Establish competitive authority. If your product is new and recently introduced to the market, you can advertise it as a new and improved alternative to an existing product. If the product is established, you can vouch for its long history of use in your branding.
Decide on a pricing strategy. Depending on the life cycle stage your product is in, you’ll choose how to price the product. A new product may be priced lower to entice more buyers, while a product in the growth stage can be priced higher.

Create a marketing strategy. Your product life cycle stage will determine which strategy to pursue. Maturity and audience knowledgeability play a big role in the type of content you publish on your site and social media profiles.
Respond before the product begins its decline. There’s no worse feeling than watching your product slowly become obsolete or be displaced by a competing product. By keeping the life cycle stages in mind, you can create a strategy that keeps you ahead of the curve as you reach the saturation and decline stages.

The product life cycle benefits businesses because they can shift their wording and positioning to best market the product at the stage it is in. If your product has recently been introduced and you try to market it as a long-established solution, consumers will see right through it and trust you less as a result.

Keep Your Product’s Life Cycle in Mind

Whether you’re developing a brand new product or working with a mature, well-established brand, you can use the product life cycle stages as a guide for your marketing campaigns.

Each stage will dictate how you inform your audience about the product, how you position your brand in the marketplace, and how you decide to move forward after the decline stage.

By keeping your product’s life cycle in mind, you can invest in better marketing campaigns that result in a higher ROI.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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15 Productivity Hacks for a Successful 2023

One of my biggest challenges with working from home is staying focused and completing every task on time. After all, home is where my TV, phone, kitchen, and cats are — it’s not exactly set up with productivity in mind. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get things done. Fortunately, there are many practical, productive tips to help anyone reach their goals, whether they work from home or in an office.

Here are 15 productivity hacks to keep you focused so you can achieve your goals.

Eat breakfast every day.
Exercise in the morning.
Take time to free-write.
Plan the day ahead of time.
Take regular breaks.
Set a single goal for the day.
Don’t be afraid to say ‘No.’
Wake up early.
Schedule some self-care.
Create deadlines.
Work in short bursts.
Have a dedicated workspace.
Avoid multitasking.
Work near natural light.

Forget about perfectionism.

Best Productivity Hacks for a Successful Day

Here are some great productivity hacks that will set your day up for success.

1. Eat breakfast every day.

Breakfast gives your body the energy it needs to stay alert and focused. Skipping breakfast can result in feeling sluggish in the morning, and you will likely have difficulty concentrating. According to the Harvard Business Review, food (or lack thereof) affects our cognitive performance and decision-making.

“Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert,” psychologist Ron Friedman said. “When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused, and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.”

Pro-Tip: Try meal-prepping your breakfast the night before. Overnight oats and yogurt parfaits are easy to make ahead and grab when you’re on the go.

2. Exercise in the morning.

Thirty minutes of regular exercise can boost one’s overall energy, so it makes sense you’ll be more productive during the day after a morning workout. According to Healthline, exercise helps oxygen and nutrients travel to your heart and lungs, which improves your cardiovascular system, stamina, and endurance.

Pro-Tip: Don’t overwork yourself. Too much exercise can result in injury, fatigue, depression, and anxiety, according to Everyday Health. Stick to 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week, to be safe.

3. Take time to free-write.

You don’t have to be a skilled writer to reap the benefits of free writing. Free writing in the morning or before bed can help organize your thoughts, boost creativity, and relieve stress. Writing can also improve your communication skills, making you a more effective leader.

Pro-Tip: Dedicate about 30 minutes to an hour of free writing every morning or every evening. And remember, no one needs to see what you write. So, don’t stress about the quality.

4. Plan the day ahead of time.

Write down a detailed plan of your day either the night before or in the morning. Include all your tasks for the day, the order in which you’ll complete them, and the time you’ll need on each assignment. Having a schedule will keep you on track and lessen the chance of drifting away from your duties or wasting time — because you’ll know what you need to do and when you’ll need to do it.

Pro-Tip: Get in the habit of keeping and updating a daily planner or calendar. Or make a daily to-do list in the notes app of your phone.

5. Take regular breaks.

It’s easy to get so invested in work that you skip lunch or focus to the point of exhaustion. Make sure to schedule moments to step away from your tasks and unwind. Permitting yourself to relax will help clear your mind and return to work with a more precise focus.

Pro-Tip: During those breaks, you can eat lunch, walk, stretch, read a book, meditate, or chat with friends. Make sure your activities leave you feeling refreshed and ready to work when the break is over.

6. Set a single goal for the day.

Think of one goal you want or need to accomplish for the day, and break that goal down into multiple tasks. Allot a certain amount of time to each task. Doing so will help you stay focused and ensure your tasks align with your vision.

Pro-Tip: Always ensure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. In other words — establish SMART goals.

7. Don’t be afraid to say ‘No.’

Setting boundaries is a major key to productivity. Understandably, you may want to be helpful whenever you can, but you won’t be able to get things done if you’re constantly taking on requests from others. So learn to say ‘no’ to last-minute requests, impromptu phone calls, and inconvenient plans so you can stay on track.

Pro-Tip: If you have a shareable digital calendar, like Google Calendar, mark off specific days and times you’re unavailable for meetings or requests and share it with your colleagues.

8. Wake up early.

You can achieve a lot by simply waking up early in the morning. An early start will give you time to eat a good breakfast, work out, shower, and gear up for the day ahead. You may even complete your tasks earlier, allowing more free time in the evening.

Pro-Tip: If you’re not used to waking up early, try easing yourself into the habit. Try going to bed and waking up 20 minutes earlier each day until you’ve reached your goal time. For example, if you usually wake up at 8:30 a.m. but want to start waking up at 6:30 a.m.— set your alarm for 8:10 a.m. on the first day, then 7:50 a.m. the next morning. Keep setting your alarm earlier and earlier each day until you reach 6:30 a.m.

9. Schedule some self-care.

One of the biggest enemies of productivity is burnout, and the best way to avoid burnout is to make time for self-care. Examples of self-care include:

Reading your favorite book
Creating a relaxing nighttime routine before bed
Journaling
Exercising
Going for a walk
Meditating

Pro-Tip: Try to fit self-care activities into your daily routine so that you’ll always have something to look forward to.

10. Create deadlines.

You never want to spend too much time on a task, so it’s essential to give yourself a specific amount of time to complete something and a day and time it needs to be done. Doing so will provide a healthy sense of urgency and help you properly manage your time.

Pro-Tip: Audit your time to see how long specific tasks take to complete so that you can create realistic and manageable deadlines.

Productivity Hacks at Work

These hacks will help you stay focused at work.

11. Work in short bursts.

It’s hard to stay focused on the same thing for a long time, so make things easier on yourself by working in short bursts. For example, the Pomodoro method is a popular technique for boosting productivity. The Pomodoro method consists of working in 25-minute increments with 5-minute breaks in between each session.

Pro-Tip: If the Pomodoro method doesn’t seem to work for you, try adjusting the time increments and breaks to something you’re comfortable with.

12. Have a dedicated workspace.

This hack is especially useful if you’re working from home or remotely. Create a space that has all the tools you need to be productive and is only used for work. So, avoid having your dedicated workspace in your bedroom or an area used for recreation. You’ll need a space that you can leave once you’re done with work for the day.

Pro-Tip: Some homes are filled with too many distractions for workspace, so don’t be afraid to find areas outside the house to work, such as your local library, shared office space, or coffee shop.

13. Avoid multitasking.

There’s a misconception that multitasking is a great way to finish multiple tasks quickly because you’re working on various things at once. But in reality, only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively. That’s because the human brain can most focus on one task at a time, according to most recent studies.

When we try to multitask, our brains are just bouncing back and forth between different tasks, which can slow performance and result in more mistakes.

Pro-Tip: Group similar tasks together and complete them one-by-one, instead of simultaneously. By grouping similar duties, your mind can quickly shift its focus to the next job on your list.

14. Work near natural light.

Most recent studies show that natural light is key to boosting productivity. One study found that workers in office environments with optimized natural lights reported an 84% drop in symptoms like eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision. These symptoms are common with prolonged usage of a computer or devices at work — which can hinder productivity.

In other words, natural sunlight contributes to a more comfortable environment. And when you feel better, you’ll likely work better, too.

Pro-Tip: Try setting up your workspace near a window or sunny area.

15. Forget about perfectionism.

Focus on getting the job done right rather than perfectly because nothing is ever truly perfect. I’ll never forget when I was a journalist and spent too much time writing an article for work. I spent so much time trying to make it “perfect” that I missed my deadline. You should always take pride in your work, but you should also know when to move on to the next thing.

Pro-Tip: Create a short list of things a task must have to be considered complete. Once you check off everything on the list, move on to the next task — even if the first one isn’t perfect but still checks every box.

When all else fails, the most significant hack to productivity is patience. There will be days when things don’t go as planned, and you don’t achieve everything on your to-do list. On those days, be patient with yourself and remember that tomorrow is another opportunity to do better.

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Scheduling Instagram Posts: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

Posting Instagram content when your audience is most active on the app increases chances of engagement, brand awareness, referral traffic, and conversions. However, it’s not always efficient to hover over your phone or laptop to post on Instagram at the perfect moment — so you’ll need a way to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time.

This is where Instagram scheduling software comes into play.

Can you schedule Instagram posts?

Why You Should Schedule Your Instagram Posts

Instagram Scheduling Best Practices

Best Way to Schedule Instagram Posts

Tools for Scheduling Instagram Posts

HubSpot Social Media Management Software

Later

Tailwind

Buffer

Sked Social

Sprout Social

Loomly

How to Schedule Instagram Posts

Schedule Your Instagram Posts

Can you schedule Instagram posts?

Yes! If you’re a content creator or business owner with access to Meta’s Creator Studio, you can connect your Instagram account to Creator Studio to schedule posts.

If you don’t have Creator Studio, Instagram’s API lets users of marketing tools like HubSpot schedule Instagram posts in advance.

It’s also worth mentioning that Instagram is testing a new in-app tool to schedule posts and Reels. In October 2022, a Meta spokesperson said, “We are testing the ability to schedule content with a percentage of our global community.”

That same month, Twitter user @WFBrother posted a screenshot showing how the tool works.

Now you can schedule posts on the Instagram app! ✨

You can schedule posts and reels by going to Advanced settings when creating new content. #Instagram @MattNavarra pic.twitter.com/yJykq108wK

— ㆅ (@WFBrother)
October 18, 2022

However, the tool is still in the testing stage, so you’ll need to rely on either Meta’s Creator Studio or third-party social media scheduling software to schedule your content.

Why You Should Schedule Your Instagram Posts

There are many reasons you should get in the habit of scheduling your Instagram posts. One reason is that it saves valuable time and gives you the opportunity to plan and execute a comprehensive marketing strategy. Think about it — instead of scrambling to post content at the perfect time, you’re able to schedule a string of compelling posts that include stories, Reels, carousels, polls, and more in advance.

You’ll also have more time to interact with followers and reply to comments, which can build lasting relationships with customers and generate leads.

Instagram Scheduling Best Practices

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when scheduling posts to Instagram.

1. Schedule posts to go live when your audience is the most active.

Track how your posts perform at different times, and use that information to optimize your posting schedule. To get you started, here are some great posting times, according to Search Engine Journal:

Monday: 6 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m.
Tuesday: 8-10 a.m., 2 p.m.
Wednesday: 9-11 a.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 7 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., 2-4 p.m.
Saturday: 8-11 a.m.
Sunday: 6-8 p.m.

2. Craft your captions with care.

If you’re scheduling content ahead of time, there’s no need to rush writing your caption. Take the time to figure out the right hashtag to use, the right accounts to tag (if any), and a compelling call to action.

3. Engage with your audience.

The time you save by scheduling posts can be used to connect with your audience, Block off time to reply to comments, and host polls. If your audience tags you in a story, post that story to your account.

Best Way to Schedule Instagram Posts

The simplest way to schedule Instagram posts will be via Meta’s Creator Studio if you have access to it. To schedule posts via Creator Studio, do the following:

Connect your Instagram account to Creator Studio.
Click “Create Post.”
If you have more than one Instagram account connected to the studio, click the account you want to post to.
Add a caption.
Click “Add Content” to select the video or photos you want to post.
Click “From File Upload” to upload new content, or “From Facebook Page” to post content you already shared to Facebook.
Click the arrow next to “Publish.”
Select “Schedule.”
Choose the date and time you want your content to post on Instagram.
Click “Schedule.”

If you don’t have Creator Studio, you can use plenty of excellent, user-friendly scheduling software. Here are some of your best options.

1. HubSpot Social Media Management Software

Price: $0/month (Free), $45/month (Starter), $800/month (Professional), $3,600/month (Enterprise)

With HubSpot’s Social Media tool, which is part of HubSpot Marketing Hub, you can schedule and publish social posts to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. From within HubSpot, you can edit your post, schedule it, and add @mentions to tag other accounts and users.

Upload the image you want to share on Instagram to HubSpot, then drag and drop it into the post you’re scheduling. You can preview the final post before it goes live to see what your visitors will see.

After you choose the date and time, your Instagram post will be shared and previewed. Tag it with a relevant HubSpot campaign, so all your social posts associated with a marketing campaign you’re already running are organized.

Once you schedule your post, you can select “Schedule another” to plan another social post. There’s an option to auto-copy and paste content from the post you just scheduled so you can plan similar posts for different dates, times, and platforms.

Lastly, if you’re using HubSpot’s social tool to schedule and publish across other platforms, target specific audience groups (for instance, you can target specific countries or languages on Facebook).

2. Later

Price: Free, $18/mo (Starter), $40 (Growth), $80 (Advanced)

Later is a social media post scheduler dedicated to Instagram. The platform includes a full social content calendar, drag-and-drop post planning, and the ability to publish automatically to your Instagram Business profile. In addition, the service’s Linkin.bio feature allows you to link individual posts to specific product pages.

3. Tailwind

Price: Free, $12.99/mo (Pro), $19.99 (Advanced), $39.99 (Max)

Tailwind is a social media scheduler and innovative assistant platform specifically for Instagram and Pinterest. Using smart features like bulk image uploading and the built-in Hashtag Finder, the tool allows small businesses to personalize their Instagram posts and get them scheduled quickly.

The tool also allows you to visually plan and preview your Instagram post schedule and grid via a single dashboard your audience will see before posting.

4. Buffer

Price: Free, $6/mo (Pro), $65/mo (Essentials), $12/mo (Team), $120/mo (Agency)

Buffer allows you to schedule social media posts across six social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. Buffer for Instagram makes it easy to manage and schedule your posts via a single dashboard.

There’s an option to include hashtags in your Instagram post in the Comments section versus in the caption (to keep the post and caption as simple as possible). Using Buffer’s social media analytics feature, you can also analyze your Instagram posts to determine what worked among your target audience.

In addition to a mobile app for iOS and Android, Buffer also offers an extension for your internet browser.

5. Sked Social

Price: $25/mo (Fundamentals), $75/mo (Essentials), $135/mo (Professional)

Sked Social offers an Instagram scheduling and auto-posting tool for Instagram posts and stories. Using the tool, you can plan to post your stories automatically, whether photo or video, so you never have to intervene or receive reminders to click “Post” again.

You can also schedule your Instagram posts via iOS or Android to upload content directly from your mobile device’s camera roll.

6. Sprout Social

Price: $249/mo (Standard), $399/mo (Professional), $499/mo (Advanced)

Sprout Social is a social media management platform that’s clear with six major social networks, including Instagram. It has a social media content calendar allowing you to schedule your social posts and measure engagements once live.

Easily upload the image you want to post on Instagram, add the caption and other Instagram post details (e.g., location), and then schedule it to go out at the date and time of your choosing.

The tool’s social listening abilities also help you identify unique trends across your Instagram content and then apply these trends to the rest of your Instagram marketing strategy.

7. Loomly

Price: $26/mo (Base), $59/mo (Standard), $129/mo (Advanced), $269/mo (Premium), Request Quote (Enterprise)

Loomly is a brand success platform with content management and social media publishing and scheduling features. Schedule your social media posts in advance — there are automated scheduling and publishing options for various social platforms incl,uding Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. Loomly also offers automated Instagram Ad (and Facebook Ad) publishing.

With the platform, you easily manage your organic and paid social media content — you can also get notifications (via email, Slack, and more) whenever one of your team members works on a piece of social content to make for easy team-wide collaboration. The tool provides social media post recommendations based on trends, events, holidays, and social platform best practices.

Next, let’s dive into how to schedule Instagram posts for an Instagram Business page — for the sake of this post, we’ll use HubSpot as our scheduling and publishing tool.

1. Ensure you have admin access to your Facebook Business Page.

Instagram and Facebook might be separate accounts to you personally, but businesses that want to automate their Instagram posting schedule will need to tether both accounts together. So, you’ll need the username and password of your business’s Facebook account to do this — in other words, head over to the Instagram Business landing page to set up your account if you don’t already have one.

2. Switch to your Business profile on the Instagram mobile app and connect this account to Facebook.

If you have a personal Instagram account, you probably know you can manage more than one profile from the app — and the other profile is your business account (keep in mind you’ll need an Instagram Business account to schedule Instagram posts in HubSpot).

To switch to your Instagram Business page from your page, navigate to your profile on your mobile device and tap the three dots in the upper-right corner of your screen. Then, in the next screen, select “Switch to Business Profile,” as shown below:

Under “Settings,” select “Linked Accounts.” Here’s where you can choose Facebook and link your two accounts together. You might be asked to “Log in With Facebook,” at which point you’ll enter your business account’s username and password. Otherwise, select “Continue as [yourself].”

3. Open HubSpot and integrate your Instagram profile with the “Social” tool.

Now that your Instagram profile is anchored to Facebook, you can integrate it with your post scheduler. As mentioned, we will use HubSpot’s Social tool for our purposes.

Open HubSpot, select “Settings” > “Marketing” > “Social” > “Connect Account” > “Facebook and Instagram.”

 

Click the first option, “Facebook & Instagram,” and follow the prompts to complete this step (which are listed here in greater detail).

4. Create your first social post for your Instagram account.

Once your Instagram account is integrated into HubSpot, you’ll see an option to “Create social post” in your HubSpot dashboard. Click it, and you’ll see icons for which social network you want to start with. Select the Instagram icon to compose your first post for your Instagram account.

5. Compose a message with your desired visual assets, captions, and hashtags.

Customize your Instagram post and upload an image using the landscape icons on the bottom-lefthand corner of the white text field that appears. Then, caption your image with the text, hashtags, and user mentions you’d like to post your photo with, as they should appear on Instagram.

6. Set the date and time of your Instagram post.

Above the photo you’re posting, you’ll see a field where you can add the date and time the date and time that your post will be scheduled to go live. Use this field to automatically set the date and time you want your post to go live on your Instagram profile.

7. Preview your post to make sure it looks right.

Any grammatical errors? Are all your intended hashtags included? Is the image successfully uploaded? Check to make sure, and you’ll be ready to schedule.

8. Click “Schedule message.”

Got any more Instagram posts planned? Draft them now and schedule all of them simultaneously — with HubSpot, you can schedule your social posts in bulk.

Once every post you want to schedule has been loaded into HubSpot, you can hit the “Schedule” button on the page.

Schedule Your Instagram Posts

Start scheduling your Instagram posts to make your workflow more efficient and to ensure the content you need to get in front of your audience does so in a timely fashion.

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

 

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8 Best Project Management Podcasts to Listen to in 2022

The project management field is growing. By 2027, employers will have 88 million PM roles, according to the Project Management Institute. To capitalize on new opportunities, PMs must keep up-to-date with industry trends and insights.

Whether you’re an industry professional or just starting your career, we’ve gathered 8 of the best project management podcasts to help you on your journey. These podcasts cover a wide variety of topics, from company culture to organizational leadership.

Take a deep dive below.

1. Manage This — The Project Management Podcast

Hosts: Andy Crowe, CEO at Velociteach, and Bill Yates, Executive Vice President at Velociteach
Length: 30-45 minutes
Where to listen: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify

This podcast offers an inside look into every aspect of project management. In each episode, Crowe and Yates share insider intelligence and actionable tips. Recent discussion topics include the challenges of management remotely, reshaping project innovation, and building culture.

What we like: Crowe and Yates invite a variety of subject matter experts onto the show. Conversations range from advice for someone just starting in project management to leadership tips – including how to manage uncertainty.

2. PM Point Of View

Host: Kendall Lott, President at OSP International LLC
Length: 1 hour
Where to listen: Apple Podcasts and Stitcher

This podcast comes from the Project Management Institute of Washington, D.C. Plus, you’ll gather a wide range of perspectives on project management. Host Kendall Lott brings experience from roles in project management and within the C-suite. Guests also come from a variety of backgrounds and industires.

What we like: This podcast offers a wealth of knowledge. Each episode includes actionable tips and advice for PMs of all skill levels.

3. Project Management Happy Hour

Hosts: Kim Essendrup, Founder of Kolme Group, and Kate Anderson, Senior Product Manager at PayPal
Length: 35-45 minutes
Where to listen: Apple Podcasts and the podcast’s website

In each episode, Essendrup and Anderson cover a common problem in project management today. They then dive into practical advice and real-life examples. In addition to industry insights and tips, the hosts offer thoughtful case studies.

What we like: Each episode feels like a casual discussion with your friends. If you’re looking for a podcast that offers honest conversations about real-world issues in project management, then this is the podcast for you.

4. The Digital Project Manager Podcast

Host: Galen Low, Co-Founder and Community Lead
Length: 45-55 minutes
Where to listen: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and the podcast’s website

The Digital Project Manager Podcast provides inspiration, how-to guides, tips, tricks, tools, actionable advice, and thoughtful stories. Episodes cover everything under the project management umbrella — including managing budgets and expectations, setting benchmarks, and the factors driving digital transformation.

What we like: Host Galen Low goes beyond just discussing industry trends. He connects with guests and offers actionable advice that will help you through every aspect of project management.

5. The Biker PM

Host: Anthoney Pavelich, Project Manager and Consultant
Length: 25-35 minutes
Where to listen: Spotify

The Biker PM is the perfect project management podcast for small businesses. Host Anthoney Pavelich brings on entrepreneurs and small business owners to discuss the project management challenges they face. Here, they dissect what worked, what didn’t work, and how to navigate new startups.

What we like: Discussions on The Biker PM can benefit any small business owner or entrepreneur who needs guidance on how to avoid project management pitfalls.

6. Projectified

Host: Steve Hendershot, Journalist, Founder, and Chief Creative Officer
Length: 20 minutes
Where to listen: Apple Podcasts and Spotify

Created by the Project Management Institute, this podcast is for people who lead strategic initiatives that deliver value to their organizations. Guests include both senior and rising project managers, business leaders in Fortune 500 companies and startups, best-selling authors, top researchers, and a wide range of leading-edge thinkers.

What we like: Projectified is produced by the Project Management Institute, a for-purpose professional membership organization for project management. You can trust the podcast’s content to be accurate and in line with industry standards.

7. People and Projects Podcast

Host: Andy Kaufman, PMP, PMI-ACP
Length: 35-45 minutes
Where to listen: Apple Podcasts and Spotify

This podcast focuses on the intersection of people and projects — where work gets done in the real world. Here you’ll learn management tips that can help your team stay on track and collaborate on big-ticket items.

What we like: If you want a fresh take on project management, this is the podcast for you. Host Andy Kaufman and his guests cover various topics, from skill development to surprising ways you already use project management in your daily life.

8. Project Management Paradise

Host: Aaron Murphy, Project Manager
Length: 20-30 minutes
Where to listen: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Audible

This podcast delivers real project management tips and tricks from experts around the world. Host Aaron Murphy talks with business leaders, entrepreneurs, and project managers to offer thoughtful insights.

What we like: After each episode, you’ll walk away with solid guidance and understanding to help you conquer real-world challenges. That includes change management, shifting organizational behavior, and creating a project management style that aligns with your company’s culture.

Choosing the Right Podcast

If you’re looking to gain more actionable insights or expand your skills as a project manager, consider adding these podcasts to your rotation.

Both industry newcomers to long-standing project managers can learn something new from these shows. Plus, you’ll gather tips that can take your project management skills to the next level.

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The Crisis of Disconnection: Why It’s Time to Rethink Your Growth Strategy [HubSpot Data]

This post is a part of The Crisis of Disconnection, a thought leadership series examining the latest research and insights to uncover how businesses can meet their growth goals, even amidst unprecedented changes to the way we work.

If there’s a topline takeaway from the research that prompted us to call The Crisis of Disconnection by name, it’s this. The growth challenges you faced in the last decade won’t be the growth challenges you face in the next decade.

If you’ve been following along, we’re glad you’re back. If you’re just joining us now, we’re glad you’re here.

To recap, here are four things keeping the savviest leaders we know up at night:

Businesses once in hyper-growth mode are now struggling to grow. One in three businesses are already citing “slowed growth” as a top challenge going forward.
Painfully high expenses and increasing costs are leading businesses to re-evaluate their software spend, the tools in their tech stack, and how that impacts their bottom line
Tried-and-true methods for generating demand are becoming less reliable and more expensive. Nearly two-thirds of businesses agree that sales engagement is struggling more now than pre-pandemic.
81% of businesses agree that COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and connect — and “the new normal” is still largely TBD.

You’ve seen the data. You’re tracking the trends. But how will The Crisis of Disconnection manifest in your business?

Disconnection in Context: Challenges for Go-to-Market Teams

Let’s take a closer look at the three overarching disconnects with material impact on scaling companies:

What’s not pictured, and adding a sense of urgency to it all? The macroeconomic fluctuations that seem here to stay. Oscillations in supply and demand, rumors about an impending recession, and decreased access to capital are causing leaders across industries and functions to re-evaluate how to invest in growth.

Let’s consider each core complexity — and its consequences.

1. Disconnected Data and Systems Leads to Decreased Efficiency and Value to Your Business

If having a streamlined tech stack with clean, connected data feels like an increasingly pressing priority, you’re one of many re-examining their CRM solutions (for good reason).

One in four businesses today say disconnected data and systems are among their chief concerns as they grow. And the ever-popular point solution approach isn’t without problems.

Consider the Impacts to Your People

Impact 1: Proliferating tools are creating complex, bloated tech stacks that are increasingly hard to use, integrate, and maintain.

The number of martech solutions is up 24% from 2020. Additionally, new sales productivity research shows:

Sales reps use just 62% of their tech stack.
Sales reps spend 41% of their average workday not selling, costing companies approximately 38% in revenue per quarter.
74% of CRM buyers feel their teams have to switch between too many tools to get the job done, and 76% are using 3 or more applications to manage their relationships with customers
Only 27% of marketers say their marketing data is fully integrated with the tools they use, and 22% of them find it difficult to share data across teams.
Marketers spend an average of 3.55 hours each week collecting, organizing, and analyzing marketing data from separate sources.
Psychologists have found that switching gears and logging into disparate tools can eat up as much as 40% of an employee’s productive time.
A lack of unified data can block progress for individual contributors and make reporting an all-day affair for managers.
It’s harder for both individual contributors and team leads to deliver tangible ROI.

Impact 2: Disconnected systems lead to decentralized data, which causes teams to spend more time searching for answers and less time focusing on high-value activities.

Impact 3: Frequent context-switching results in productivity loss at every level.

Consider the Impacts to Your Bottom Line

According to our research, companies with less connected data & systems are seriously disappointed in the ROI of their tech stacks:

Only 13% of businesses that have a mostly or entirely unintegrated tech stack report excellent ROI.
Businesses that report worse connectedness of their data also report substantially worse ROI from their tech stacks.
Businesses that use 11 or more point solutions see 2.5x higher total cost of ownership than those that use just one.

On the flip side, companies see greater ROI when data and systems are more connected and CRM tools are all on one platform:

But why does connection & integration of your tech stack make such a difference to ROI? To answer that question, let’s take a look at how ROI is calculated:

As you can see in the equation above, total cost of ownership is one of the major factors in ROI  — as TCO increases, ROI decreases, fast.

And, as we’ve learned in our research,  having more point solutions leads to significantly higher cost of ownership, primarily driven by the increased personnel costs associated with using multiple tools.

So, even if a business is getting the same gains from their tech stack, using too many point solutions is likely going to decrease their ROI compared to a company that has consolidated more of its tools on a single platform.

As you can see, streamlining your tech stack does more than reduce friction between your systems and data. It reduces your total cost of ownership. It makes you more likely to weather the volatility ahead, with 52% of businesses with excellent data connectedness reporting they feel well-equipped to grow and thrive, despite the current state of the economy. And it connects your sales, marketing, and service teams (the importance of which we’ll talk more about below).

2. Disconnected People Leads to Decreased Sense of Community and Satisfaction

As you may have guessed, disconnected systems don’t just lead to disconnected data — they also contribute to feelings of disconnection between teams.

At the risk of stating the obvious: the way many of us work took a 180 in 2020. No fewer than 80% of U.S. employees say the crisis materially affected their daily work lives. Within a year, Zoom generated a mere $4 billion in revenue (a 53% increase year-on-year), with meeting participants increasing by 2900%.  Many of us had to learn — and are still learning — how to collaborate digitally instead of in-person.

There have been some upsides (access to more diverse talent, time saved commuting, meetings attended in pajama pants), along with some challenges.

What does this mean? The playbook for attracting, supporting, and retaining employees is — you guessed it — changing.

Employees clearly crave connection and are more likely to feel dissatisfied without it. What’s equally true? Creating moments of connection is more challenging in an increasingly remote world run on siloed systems and partially accessible information. And as The Great Resignation is already showing, the consequences of ignoring how employees feel — inside and outside of work — won’t be insignificant.

3. Disconnected Customers Leads to Decreased Interactions and Opportunities to Delight

If you’re getting the sense that these disconnection challenges are compounding, you aren’t wrong. Disconnected systems, data, and people are all contributing to another problem — brands are facing more hurdles as they try to connect with their customer base.

Before we double-click on the data and what it means for you, here’s a high-level summary (with a spoiler: what worked then won’t work now):

In case you don’t want to take our word for it:

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is up. 49% of those who track CAC say it has increased in the past year.
42% of businesses cite increasing costs to reach prospects/customers as the main obstacle standing between them and continued growth.
Organic growth is diminishing. The average SaaS blog grew -1.6% last year and Google takes more than 65% of clicks.
More than 30% of marketers say that they are experiencing average-to-no returns on their digital marketing investments.
80% of marketers report that getting rid of cookies will have a mild to major impact on their advertising strategy, and just 36% of marketers overall feel completely ready for impending data privacy changes.
Businesses have already spent an average of $1.3 million on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance and are expected to spend $1.8 million more.

What does this mean for your business? It’s getting harder (read: less effective and more expensive) to reach potential customers. And if/when you do reach them, it’s getting harder to exceed their expectations (with fewer insights about their personal preferences than ever). Without a single source of truth about customers, it’s harder for teams to deliver personalized, connected customer experiences. Although 80% of marketers consider personalization the key to increasing revenue and enhancing customer experiences, HubSpot’s research shows that over half of marketers are missing critical data on their target audience that prevents them from delivering that personalized experience. 

So where does that leave today’s go-to-market teams?

Next Steps

So far, we’ve covered the “what” and “so what” associated with The Crisis of Disconnection.

In the final installment of this series, we’ll cover the most important question of all. Now what?

Stay tuned for our next post, and in the meantime, learn how HubSpot can help you connect all the dots.

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5 Ways HubSpot Managers Keep Teams Motivated Before the Holidays

The holiday season can be a time of year when people are surrounded by family, friends, good food, and traditions. As a manager, you might be excited to get some much-needed rest and relaxation while also wondering how you’ll wrap up end-of-year projects alongside thoughts of celebrations. 

You don’t want to lose your stride with a few days off, but you might be worried that getting too aggressive about deadlines can leave you seeming like the Grinch. 

At HubSpot, a company that makes work culture a priority, our people managers are known for creatively and strategically hitting seasonal goals while still building team morale — especially during the holiday season.

To help prevent your team from hitting the holiday slump, we’ve compiled advice from HubSpotters on how to keep teams on track while still embracing the holidays. 

How to Avoid a Holiday Slump

1. Break down goals into achievable targets, phases, or quotas.

People can have a lot on their minds during the holidays, and having to achieve a certain number of goals by the end of the year can seem daunting and overwhelming. 

To alleviate some stress that can arise during an end-of-year rush, split goals up into phases or steps. Your teams can check off smaller tasks that will contribute to achieving the larger goal, and as each step is completed, they’ll feel like they’ve succeeded and remain motivated to conquer the next phase.

“We all have end-of-year deadlines or goals — and at times — they can look very daunting. We’ve found it helpful to break them down into smaller targets,” says Tara Ryan, former Senior Sales Manager at HubSpot. 

With her sales team, Ryan says she uses monthly and weekly quotas to break down major goals: “Quotas are easier to digest when we break them down into ‘25% attainment by the end of week one,’ ‘50% attainment by the end of week two,’ ‘75% by week three’, and then ‘100%+ by the end of the month.'”

“The process of breaking down goals allows us to measure our progress on a weekly basis and more chances for us to celebrate team wins,” Ryan adds.

When you do set goals, involve your team. Their input will let you know what they’re hoping to accomplish, so you can set realistic goals as a group and discuss how to tackle possible roadblocks. 

“If I know we’re about to enter into a time where it’s easy to slow down, like the summer or holidays, I try to get my group together to brainstorm what we want to accomplish as a group and vote on one goal,” says Caroline Ostrander, a Senior Manager on the Customer Onboarding team.

Like Ryan, Ostrander also embraces the idea of aiming for a limited number of reachable goals rather than trying to achieve everything all at once.

“One goal helps the team focus and prioritize when we might feel unmotivated. [After the vote], I look for one or two volunteers to lead the charge on the goal and find fun and creative ways to keep it top of mind,” Ostrander explains.

2. Prepare for winter weather hurdles with work-from-home protocols.

At HubSpot’s Cambridge, MA headquarters, winter weather is familiar, and we understand how one big snowstorm can really knock us off our schedule. If you live in an area where winter weather can impact your workflow, staying ahead of this hurdle is essential. A great way to do this is to devise a winter protocol for your team. 

Larry Rodman, former Customer Support Manager, suggests asking your team members to take their laptops and work devices home with them if there’s a possibility that your office might close during a storm.

“Always bring everything you need to work home [at the end of the work day; you never know what the weather will be on any given day,” Rodman says.

If you live where winter weather isn’t an issue, it can still be beneficial to consider a work-from-home or hybrid model for the holiday season. It would give your employees more flexibility in how they work during a time when they may want to spend more time with loved ones, even if they do so while working.

The rise in popularity of remote work means that some of your employees might already be working from home or a hybrid model, so you can offer in-office employees the opportunity to take new flexibility during the holidays.

3. Encourage team members to take time off for the holidays.

Your employees have a life outside of work, so aim to encourage your team members to take time off for themselves during the holidays when they don’t work at all. 

“Be transparent and empathetic with your team. Make sure they are comfortable taking time off at the holidays,” says Senior Director of Marketing Amanda Sibley. She encourages her team to share their off days on a shared calendar, but also clearly communicates expectations to ensure people don’t lose steam.

“I ask for 100% effort until they are off,” Sibley says. “I often will say something like, ‘It’s really important to take time off, so I’m glad you all have chosen a week during the holidays! — Until then, in order for us all to relax and enjoy family time, we need to be at 100%, so please focus until that time!”

Encouraging your employees to take time off also has proven psychological benefits. Studies show that it can make people more productive, and when people are removed from environments that they may associate with anxiety, their stress levels can lower. Employees who feel refreshed and less stressed are more likely to come back to work with a clear head, ready to start the year off on a positive note. 

4. Give employees a day or even a few hours for holiday errands.

Even with upcoming time off, people’s minds can wander with thoughts of holiday errands and planning before upcoming celebrations. To help employees remain focused while at work, you can offer additional hours off to prep for the holidays ahead of time. 

“Give time for those who need it to handle the crazy stuff needed for the holidays,” suggests Sibley. “What about a half-day in the middle of the week or in early December to do all their holiday shopping when the crowds are less?”

This tip can be helpful when paired with offering remote work options, as team members can take breaks from work while accomplishing separate tasks. For example, if employees prepare for an at-home celebration, they can take breaks to cross off items on their to-do lists and return to work with a clear head. 

5. Celebrate the holidays — and your team’s accomplishments.

Lastly, embrace the holiday season, celebrate, and end your year on a high note. After all, you and your team have worked hard to achieve your annual goals. 

“Don’t pretend like the holidays aren’t happening. Celebrate with your team,” encourages Senior Social Media Manager Kelly Hendrickson; “Knowing there is a specific time for fun, helps focus that holiday spirit.”

End-of-year celebrations allow teams to bond, review the year’s accomplishments, and show gratitude for one another. The holidays can also be challenging for some people, so creating space to celebrate and spread cheer at work can be a welcome opportunity that boosts morale. 

Aside from general celebration, the most important goal of these events is to have fun and reward your teammates for a year of hard work. When planning an end-of-year meeting, Ryan suggests asking each of your team members to note one individual or group accomplishment that they’re most proud of from the past year. “This is a great chance to remind the team of all the wins you had together over the last 12 months,” says Ryan.

Rodman also says he emphasizes team accomplishments at end-of-year celebrations, explaining that rewarding accomplishments can help to motivate your team even after they return from the holidays.

Get in the Holiday Spirit

It can be easy to forget how fun the holidays are when thinking about end-of-year deadlines. But, as we’ve seen from HubSpot managers above, getting in the holiday spirit will benefit your mood and your team. Don’t be afraid to embrace the pleasantries of this time of year.

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Marketing Budget: How Much Should Your Team Spend in 2023? [By Industry]

As a marketer, you’re always pitching new ideas to your team. And you’ve also faced a consistent follow-up question, “How much from our marketing budget do we need to execute?”

Ultimately, being a successful marketer isn’t just about thinking strategically. It’s also about adhering to a strict budget, achieving new levels of growth, and choosing the most cost-effective options for your company.

We’ll explore how you can do these and determine how your budget matches up against competitors. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Why You Need a Marketing Budget
Inside a Typical Marketing Budget
Marketing Budget as a Percentage of Revenue
Marketing Budgets by Industry
6 Expert Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Marketing Budget

Read the full piece for more. You can also learn how HubSpot’s SVP of Marketing will spend a $10 million marketing budget in the podcast below.

Why You Need a Marketing Budget

Today’s marketing landscape is complicated. With recession looming, budget cuts have become common and underperforming marketers quickly fall under the axe. Creating a comprehensive marketing budget is your silver bullet for avoiding these outcomes and having cash to execute your marketing strategy.

Developing a marketing budget also helps you:

Prioritize projects to invest in.
Allocate funds for software purchases.
Compare your year-over-year progress.
Allocate funds for projects in advance.
Justify the importance of specific projects.
Calculate the ROI from your marketing projects.
Show the value of proposed marketing projects to your higher-ups.
Show positive ROI, which can help you get a better budget in the future.
Allocate funds for freelancers and full-time hires who’ll execute your strategy.

Inside a Typical Marketing Budget

Marketing will comprise roughly 13.6% of a company’s total budget in 2023, according to Deloitte’s Annual CMO Survey. That’s up 3.9% from the two previous years.

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Even with a recession looming, many marketers expect their annual budgets to increase in 2023.

In a HubSpot survey of 1,000 marketers, 47% of respondents reported that their budget would increase. Another 45% expect their budgets to stay about the same in the new year.

Prioritization of marketing channels is also shifting. Traditional advertising will make up less of 2023’s marketing budget, Deloitte reports, shrinking by 0.7%. Instead, marketers plan on spending more money on social media and new media platforms.

For instance, marketers plan to invest the most in Facebook marketing in 2023. While many marketers already have a robust Facebook strategy, 25% of marketers surveyed by HubSpot will invest in the platform for the first time next year.

Further, video will be a bigger investment in many marketers’ budgets. HubSpot found that 91% of markets plan to increase or maintain their investment in YouTube next year.

Meanwhile, on TikTok, 56% plan on increasing their TikTok investment in 2023 — the highest increase of any social media app. Another 34% plan to maintain their current TikTok budget.

Influencer marketing is another lead-generation tactic worthy of investment. According to our State of Marketing Report, 68% of marketers worked with influencers in 2022 and 88% have a dedicated influencer marketing budget.

This trend will continue in 2023. In fact, 89% of marketers plan to increase or maintain their investment in influencer marketing next year. An additional 17% will invest in this marketing tactic for the first time.

We’ve explored how companies intend to spend next year’s budget. Next, you’ll learn how marketing spend relates to a brand’s revenue. Let’s dive in.

Marketing Budget as a Percentage of Revenue

The amount of revenue businesses allocate to marketing has grown over the past 12 years, with the average at 13.8% of overall company revenue in 2022. That’s over 5% growth since 2011.

B2B product industries allocate, on average, roughly 7.8% of revenue to marketing. This is similar to B2C services (6.5%) and B2B services (5.9%). B2C Product allocates the highest amount at 15.1% of total revenue.

Small businesses are also spending. In a survey of 85 small business owners and marketers, 52% said they’re spending $5–$15,000 per month on marketing.

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Decisions related to marketing budget allocation remain largely industry specific. To determine more accurate insights for your business, let’s explore marketing budgets by industry.

Marketing Budgets by Industry

Deloitte recently did a survey showing the percentage of revenue industries should spend on marketing. Here’s the data.

INDUSTRY

MARKETING BUDGET

(% OF COMPANY REVENUE)

Banking, Finance,

Insurance, and Real Estate

8%

Communications media

10%

Consumer packaged goods

9%

Consumer services

6%

Education

3%

Energy

1%

Healthcare

18%

Manufacturing

13%

Mining and construction

3%

Retail wholesale

14%

Service consulting

21%

Technology

21%

Transportation

6%

As a marketer, it’s important you use these percentages as benchmarks, especially for industries allocating low marketing budgets.

If your industry is reluctant to spend on marketing initiatives, that’s an opportunity for your team to shine.

Once you convince the higher-ups about what you need to execute your top strategies, you’ll easily outshine others in your industry and make your company a reference for how other teams should do marketing.

6 Expert Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Marketing Budget

1. Understand your customer journey.

A customer journey is not as straightforward as Googling a term, jumping on an email list, and then converting. The journey is full of twists and turns.

Figuring out how your customers go from product awareness to purchase varies among industries. What works for B2B brands may not work for B2C, or for small businesses.

This is why David Hoos, B2B performance marketing manager at The Outloud Group, says you should take time to understand your customer journey before spending a dime of your marketing budget. If you invest in this research first, you’ll uncover:

What channels to spend your budget on.
What platforms to reach your target audience.
What messages will resonate with them.
What creative will entertain and educate them.
What solution will convert them.

Understanding your customer journey is key to unlocking the highest ROI efforts. Done right, this guarantees the best use of your marketing budget.

2. Hire a marketing agency where needed.

It may be difficult to oversee multiple marketing projects without help — even when you have an in-house marketing team.

Besides the time required to hire, train, and onboard a team, you’ll pay salaries and offer some benefits. All this might be a stretch if your budget can’t cater to a huge team or if you don’t have the time to supervise them. This is where marketing agencies come in.

While agencies aren’t cheap, they eliminate some of these challenges and they can function as an extended arm of your team. Partnering with marketing agencies also gives you access to a team of specialists who may help you hit your goals faster and won’t waste your marketing budget.

3. Get an in-house marketing team.

Relying on an agency to run all of your projects isn’t the wisest use of your marketing budget. Marla Malkin, vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships at Attivo ERP, agrees.

4. Invest in content repurposing and updating.

Charlie Southwell, marketing director and SEO specialist at Let’s Talk Talent, notes that creating unique and valuable content is expensive. For this reason, Charlie’s team tries to repurpose everything they create.

Their first step is to produce evergreen content that’ll remain valuable for at least two years. After creating these assets, the team repurposes and promotes them in multiple content formats.

If you have published some evergreen assets a while back, consider updating them. Besides providing current info for your audience, a content update may make your pieces move up the SERPs.

The best part about content repurposing and updating is the leeway to re-promote your assets multiple times a year. In Charlie’s words, “Not doing this is a missed opportunity that prevents content from getting enough mileage and maximizing value from your marketing budget.”

5. De-prioritize underperforming channels.

Understanding the channels that drive the most revenue for your business is critical to marketing budget optimization.

Businesses should constantly assess their campaigns to uncover those that underperform, As says Sidharth Kumar, director of product marketing at Exoprise Systems. Doing so will help optimize spending in the right direction and phase out campaigns that don’t generate any ROI.

If you have data suggesting some underperforming channels might still work, use those channels for experimentation and apply the 70-20-10 rule when budgeting for them.

Here, 70% of your marketing budget goes to proven strategies, 20% goes to new strategies, and 10% goes to experimental strategies, which could highlight opportunities for future growth.

6. Constantly re-evaluate your marketing strategy.

A marketing strategy that’s done right will have objectives and key results, which follow the SMART framework. This is important for budget optimization, as SMART goals and metrics help you track progress and identify channels and campaigns that work.

“Constantly reviewing and re-evaluating your marketing strategy helps you know when to stay the course or pivot,” says Thomas Simon, marketing manager at Monitask. “It also lets you use effective tactics and not blindly follow a particular plan without the data or results to back your decision.”

But how often should you do a review?

Corey Haines, co-founder of SwipeWell, recommends marketers do a biweekly or monthly review of budget allocation. “Regular reviews help you cut unnecessary spending, reallocate to high-performing campaigns, and decide when to increase or decrease variable costs like ad spend,” Corey says.

Manage Your Marketing Budget the Right Way

Now that you know the typical percentage of a marketing budget by percentage and revenue the next step is to learn how to manage your marketing budget.

Check out our guide to managing your marketing budget to refine your strategic plan for 2023.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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How to Easily Manage Customer Data Across Multiple Apps

Wouldn’t it be nice if customer data management were easy? Are you longing for a world where your contact’s email, conversion date, and who on your team spoke with them last are readily accessible?

If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Managing customer data can get messy, especially if your business uses multiple apps.

However, putting your customer data in order is easier than you think, even if it is in a state of chaos. In this post, you’ll learn how to keep your customer data organized, clean, and up-to-date across all your apps.

In this post, we’ll cover:

What is Customer Data Management?
Benefits of Customer Data Management
Where Customer Data Lives
Best Practices of Customer Data Management
Managing Customer Data: Data Types

Let’s dive in.

Benefits of Customer Data Management

Customer data is one of the most valuable assets in your organization. Intelligent customer data management will improve your customer experience and ultimately help your business grow and increase revenue. See of biggest benefits of customer data management below.

1. Improved Customer Experience

Customers may interact with sales, marketing, support, admin, or billing when dealing with your business. A well-implemented customer data management strategy makes all your customer data transparent to all departments, allowing you to personalize customer interactions at every touch point.

In 2020, 87% of customers felt that brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience. CDM helps you do that.

2. Compliance

Depending on where you do business, compliance laws govern how customer data should be collected and used. An intelligent customer data management strategy will ensure that you remain compliant and avoid hefty fines.

3. Eliminating Data Silos

Data silos are customer data segments that are controlled or only visible to one department or business unit. Managing customer data facilitates data transparency and accessibility among all groups that need it. This benefits both the customer and your business.

4. Improved Audience Targeting

A seamless customer data management process is sure to make your marketing department smile. With all your customer data organized in one place, your team can make improved marketing decisions on ads and social media posts based on audience segments gleaned from your customer data.

5. Squeaky Clean Data

Establishing a precedent of customer data management benefits all your internal teams. Keeping the data your company frequently analyzes organized makes life easier for all your departments and improves your bottom line.

Where Customer Data Lives

Customer data may be stored across several different apps, including but not limited to your:

CRM
Customer support software
Customer satisfaction survey platform
Live chat
Social media inboxes

If these systems are siloed or disconnected, you risk inconsistent data and poor customer experiences.

For the most seamless customer data management, your apps must seamlessly communicate data back and forth.

Best Practices for Customer Data Management

1. Create a single view of your customers and prospects.

“The number one thing you can do to set your organization up for success when it comes to managing customer data is to strive toward a single view of your customers and prospects (i.e., having a single, accurate record for each customer),” Duggan-Herd says.

Even if you have information coming from many different apps, your team should strive to create one place where you can see an aggregation of this customer data. To do so, you may need to invest in technology, including a CRM, customer data platform, or data management platform.

Implementing one of these solutions will allow you to “identify and resolve duplicate or incomplete records, and records with conflicting information,” Duggan-Herd explains. The ease of data management will make implementing a new software well worth the time.

2. Keep clean, accurate data in each app.

Your customer data is the sum of its parts. Therefore, it is crucial to keep the data in each app fresh and reliable. That means ensuring all records are up to date, consistent across apps, and free of errors or duplicates.

“One tip for ensuring customer data accuracy is to validate records as they come in,” suggests, Duggan-Herd. “A simple way to do this is by enforcing a CAPTCHA and implementing a confirmed opt-in process.”

Managing customer data is an ongoing process. You’ll need to perform regular quality checks to ensure your data is immaculate, giving your teams consistent access to valuable insights.

3. Use segmentation for clear organization.

Segmenting your customer data is the process of dividing your customer data into segments using common characteristics. Proper customer data management makes it simple to create customer segments and begin honing in on your customer personas.

Using contact management software or a CRM, you can store customer contact records with identifying information like name, email, company, region, etc. You can also create custom fields that fit your business needs and allow you to create customer segments.

For example, using your customer data, you can create a customer segment for contacts in the U.S. who have signed up within the previous six months. You can use this segmentation to target customers with personalized messaging that aligns with their needs and customer journey. Perhaps you want to message new customers in the U.S. with a discount deal for a premium add-on. Proper CDM and segmentation make that dream reality.

4. Sync data both ways.

Your apps must communicate customer data back and forth. If your apps can’t sync customer data, you’ll end up with data silos, which you know we aren’t a fan of. Some software offers built-in integrations that connect disparate apps and allow them to share data, which is pretty nice.

If you have two apps that don’t share a native integration, you can look to a trigger-action automation solution like Zapier, which acts as a middle-man between two apps. For example, you can set up a Zapier automation that triggers when a new contact joins your email list. Zapier will create a new contact in your CRM software with all the information gathered from the email sign-up.

However, our favorite solution is a two-way sync. A two-way sync solution mirrors the data between two apps and seamlessly updates customer data in one app when it is changed in another. We love this solution because it reduces the possibility of data disparity from an integration glitch or a Zapier trigger that failed to fire.

Two-way sync is the most reliable way to make your data readily accessible to all your teams across your entire app stack.

5. Keep it simple.

It’s always a good idea to keep things simple, and customer data management is no exception. Here’s what we mean.

Standardize data organization. Consolidate your data fields as much as possible. For instance, having one property for “Industry” rather than overlapping properties for “Sector,” “Business type,” and “Industry.”
Decide which data to sync. Rather than syncing everything, figure out the crucial, value-adding data that provides the most insight for your teams and sync that.
Create transparent processes and documentation. For adding, editing, and viewing customer data to make life easy for you and your colleagues.

With a two-way data sync between the apps that hold your customer data, you can give your team access to up-to-date and correct customer data everywhere and provide a five-star customer experience.

Managing Customer Data: Data Types

Managing customer data is instrumental in keeping your records clean and creating positive, personalized customer experiences. Here are the types of data to consider when crafting your CDM strategy.

Identity Data

Identity data includes attributes that tell you who the customer is. This is typically information that a customer will submit to you via a form. That includes:

Name.
Email.
Address.
Phone Number.
Date of Birth.
Job Title.
Annual Income.
Martial Status.
Education.
Website visits.
Emails opened.
Customer support logs.
Time spent on page.
Products left in shopping cart.

Attribute Data

Attribute data gives a more specific look into the characteristics of your customers. That includes:

Behavioral Data

Behavioral data is gleaned from direct interactions with your customers via your website. Behavioral data is very important and can give insight into your customer’s needs without them having to tell you explicitly. This data often includes:

Create a customer data management strategy.

The amount of customer data available to you can be overwhelming. You’ll want to define which data points are most valuable to you, instead of compiling every single data point into a hefty and difficult-to-analyze pool.

When creating your customer data management strategy, you’ll want to research what data is most critical to improving customer interaction and internal analysis. Start by focusing your efforts on that.

Soon, you’ll be on your way to gathering — and using — clean, complete data.