Here Are the 7 Top Tech Trends to Watch in 2018, According to CES

The first Media Day of CES 2018 kicked off in Las Vegas today, rich with presentations from exhibitors on what’s to come in tech in the foreseeable — and at times, somewhat distant — future.

But on a higher level, core industry trends and patterns were presented today at the 2018 Tech Trends to Watch session, given by the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) senior manager of market research Lesley Rohrbaugh, as well as senior director of market research Steve Koenig.

I’ll be here all week to bring you the latest announcements from this year’s sessions and events. For now, here’s a look at the trends I anticipate hearing — and learning — all about.

1. 5G

5G is a type of wireless technology that you may have heard about in recent headlines — such as Verizon selecting Samsung as the provider for its 5G commercial launch.

One reason why it’s such a big deal is that it will result in higher wireless speeds, capacities, and lower latency — which generally means that there will be far fewer delays or “technical hesitancies” in some of the things it powers, like wireless VR or autonomous vehicles.

IMG_1866.jpg

That benefit is two-fold. Not only does it enrich a user experience when it comes to something like AR or VR by providing higher data rates, but it’s also practical for safety — which is where the latency piece comes in.

As Koenig explains, one of the key pieces of autonomous driving technology safety is the ability for it to independently make operational decisions — quickly, and perhaps more seamlessly than a human driver could.

But just how fast is 5G? During the presentation, the example of a two-hour movie download was used. On a 3G network, for example, that would take 26 hours. On 4G, it would be lowered to six minutes. But on 5G, it’s lowered to 3.6 seconds.

2. Artificial Intelligence

We’ve talked a lot about this one, and it came up in some of the major press events of 2017.

A considerable amount of attention will be paid to the role of AI in digital personal assistants, which plays into the smart home sector. There, AI technology like machine learning lends itself to the ability to recognize user preferences and behavioral patterns.

Smart speakers, for example, were named as some of the heaviest hitters in the CTA’s Consumer Tech Industry Forecast, with a predicted revenue of $3.8 billion (an increase of 93%), and 43.6 million units sold (+60%).

Within this realm, AI also plays a major part in autonomous driving capabilities — especially when it comes to sensory perception (like objects in the vehicle’s path), data processing, and action. That, too, was a key piece in the industry forecast, with $15.9 billion revenue predicted, or 6% growth.

What’s next? Two key things to come were identified, the first being conversations with context — like machines carrying on conversations with humans with better natural language processing, to make it more like the way we speak to each other.

The second is the ability of AI to build trust and reduce bias with users — which, when executed successfully, can help AI systems do things like explain why it makes certain recommendations of actions or content.

3. Robotics

Robotics, in this context, seemed to play the biggest role in consumer electronics — which seems fitting, seeing as CES is largely about the newest technology in that sector.

The speakers seemed to take a particular interest in Kuri, a robot that was described as a “family friend” that can “capture life’s moments automatically using face recognition.” It’s a bit nostalgic of the Google Clips photo technology announced last fall, which boasts allowing users to spend more time in the moment, rather than taking the perfect picture, with similar recognition technology.

The event also shed light on Honda’s robots, which are engineered around what it calls its “3E Philosophy,” built on the pillars of empowerment, experience, and empathy. It reflected a pattern of working to incorporate more empathy into robotics — like Kuri, these would be moving, speaking computers with feelings.

4. Voice: The Fourth Sales Channel

The CTA’s research has shown that one in four shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season.

Here’s an area where marketers can use the rise in smart speaker sales (and its anticipated continued growth) to their advantage. Voice assistance and technology are becoming larger parts of a brand’s identity — an area of opportunity for those who have not yet begun to leverage it as such.

So, how can marketers do that? I recommend looking into ways to merge your brand with voice assistants and see how you can create content exclusively for that medium — for example, something like building a custom, branded skill for Amazon Echo.

5. Facal Recognition on the Go

From the iPhone X Face ID technology to your car being able to recognize your eyes and nose, our faces are playing a greater role in helping our devices recognize us and capture our preferences — anytime, anywhere. And, it seems, we’re becoming more comfortable with it.

According to the CTA’s research, users have a growing amount of trust in this technology being used for such personal data as medical information. But it’s also often a matter of convenience — as a video shown later in the day by NVIDIA indicated, face recogniton can be used by smart vehicles to recognize its owners for unlocking doors, opening trunks, and more.

All of these patterns are reflected in the anticipated uptick for in-vehicle technology — revenues this year are predicted to reach $15.9 billion, which is a 6% increase.

Source: CTA

6. Virtual Reality

VR isn’t exactly a new trend, but what I’ll be keeping our eyes on is the newest use cases for it.

Content, it’s predicted, is where the most noticeable change and evolution will take place, especially when it comes to creating immersive experiences for brand awareness.

Where once this technology was almost exclusively used to tell a story for the purpose of entertainment, businesses and organizations are now presented with an opportunity to leverage VR for commercial purposes — like shopping, for example, or a deeper look inside what helps a business run and create its products or services.

Augmented Reality (AR) is further working its way into the B2C space, as we enter the era of what was called “AR for all.” There have been several consumer-oriented use cases from brands like Ikea and Wayfair — using the technology for things like home decor — as well as demonstrations on how it enhances a gaming experience from both Apple and Google.

But AR first made a name for itself in the B2B sector — largely for purposes related to trade shows and enhancing information delivery to analysts. And as it continues to grow its presence within the consumer sector, I don’t anticipate it leaving B2B behind. As the technology improves, many of the purposes it was originally used for will also continue to evolve, presenting an opportunity for business-facing marketers.

7. Smart Cities

From self-driving pizza delivery vehicles (seriously — this is a thing) to environment and energy usage, smart cities are where society and technology intersect.

While Smart Cities fill a new enough category that their roles in marketing remain fairly open-ended, they do present an opportunity for brands looking to increase their roles in the community — especially where technology is concerned.

One of the best cases for the growth of Smart Cities, for example, is how they will work to bolster public safety and services — something that cannot happen without the cooperation of the market, organizations, and regional leadership.

By exploring where their own organizations fit into the ecosystem of a Smart Cities, marketers can work ahead of the curve by looking for ways their brands can actively support and contribute to a Smart City, thus playing a larger role in what remains, for now, an emerging trend.

As always, I’m open to your take on these trends. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter.

The post Here Are the 7 Top Tech Trends to Watch in 2018, According to CES appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

The first Media Day of CES 2018 kicked off in Las Vegas today, rich with presentations from exhibitors on what’s to come in tech in the foreseeable — and at times, somewhat distant — future.

But on a higher level, core industry trends and patterns were presented today at the 2018 Tech Trends to Watch session, given by the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) senior manager of market research Lesley Rohrbaugh, as well as senior director of market research Steve Koenig.

I’ll be here all week to bring you the latest announcements from this year’s sessions and events. For now, here’s a look at the trends I anticipate hearing — and learning — all about.

1. 5G

5G is a type of wireless technology that you may have heard about in recent headlines — such as Verizon selecting Samsung as the provider for its 5G commercial launch.

One reason why it’s such a big deal is that it will result in higher wireless speeds, capacities, and lower latency — which generally means that there will be far fewer delays or “technical hesitancies” in some of the things it powers, like wireless VR or autonomous vehicles.

IMG_1866.jpg

That benefit is two-fold. Not only does it enrich a user experience when it comes to something like AR or VR by providing higher data rates, but it’s also practical for safety — which is where the latency piece comes in.

As Koenig explains, one of the key pieces of autonomous driving technology safety is the ability for it to independently make operational decisions — quickly, and perhaps more seamlessly than a human driver could.

But just how fast is 5G? During the presentation, the example of a two-hour movie download was used. On a 3G network, for example, that would take 26 hours. On 4G, it would be lowered to six minutes. But on 5G, it’s lowered to 3.6 seconds.

2. Artificial Intelligence

We’ve talked a lot about this one, and it came up in some of the major press events of 2017.

A considerable amount of attention will be paid to the role of AI in digital personal assistants, which plays into the smart home sector. There, AI technology like machine learning lends itself to the ability to recognize user preferences and behavioral patterns.

Smart speakers, for example, were named as some of the heaviest hitters in the CTA’s Consumer Tech Industry Forecast, with a predicted revenue of $3.8 billion (an increase of 93%), and 43.6 million units sold (+60%).

Within this realm, AI also plays a major part in autonomous driving capabilities — especially when it comes to sensory perception (like objects in the vehicle’s path), data processing, and action. That, too, was a key piece in the industry forecast, with $15.9 billion revenue predicted, or 6% growth.

What’s next? Two key things to come were identified, the first being conversations with context — like machines carrying on conversations with humans with better natural language processing, to make it more like the way we speak to each other.

The second is the ability of AI to build trust and reduce bias with users — which, when executed successfully, can help AI systems do things like explain why it makes certain recommendations of actions or content.

3. Robotics

Robotics, in this context, seemed to play the biggest role in consumer electronics — which seems fitting, seeing as CES is largely about the newest technology in that sector.

The speakers seemed to take a particular interest in Kuri, a robot that was described as a “family friend” that can “capture life’s moments automatically using face recognition.” It’s a bit nostalgic of the Google Clips photo technology announced last fall, which boasts allowing users to spend more time in the moment, rather than taking the perfect picture, with similar recognition technology.

The event also shed light on Honda’s robots, which are engineered around what it calls its “3E Philosophy,” built on the pillars of empowerment, experience, and empathy. It reflected a pattern of working to incorporate more empathy into robotics — like Kuri, these would be moving, speaking computers with feelings.

4. Voice: The Fourth Sales Channel

The CTA’s research has shown that one in four shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season.

Here’s an area where marketers can use the rise in smart speaker sales (and its anticipated continued growth) to their advantage. Voice assistance and technology are becoming larger parts of a brand’s identity — an area of opportunity for those who have not yet begun to leverage it as such.

So, how can marketers do that? I recommend looking into ways to merge your brand with voice assistants and see how you can create content exclusively for that medium — for example, something like building a custom, branded skill for Amazon Echo.

5. Facal Recognition on the Go

From the iPhone X Face ID technology to your car being able to recognize your eyes and nose, our faces are playing a greater role in helping our devices recognize us and capture our preferences — anytime, anywhere. And, it seems, we’re becoming more comfortable with it.

According to the CTA’s research, users have a growing amount of trust in this technology being used for such personal data as medical information. But it’s also often a matter of convenience — as a video shown later in the day by NVIDIA indicated, face recogniton can be used by smart vehicles to recognize its owners for unlocking doors, opening trunks, and more.

All of these patterns are reflected in the anticipated uptick for in-vehicle technology — revenues this year are predicted to reach $15.9 billion, which is a 6% increase.

Source: CTA

6. Virtual Reality

VR isn’t exactly a new trend, but what I’ll be keeping our eyes on is the newest use cases for it.

Content, it’s predicted, is where the most noticeable change and evolution will take place, especially when it comes to creating immersive experiences for brand awareness.

Where once this technology was almost exclusively used to tell a story for the purpose of entertainment, businesses and organizations are now presented with an opportunity to leverage VR for commercial purposes — like shopping, for example, or a deeper look inside what helps a business run and create its products or services.

Augmented Reality (AR) is further working its way into the B2C space, as we enter the era of what was called “AR for all.” There have been several consumer-oriented use cases from brands like Ikea and Wayfair — using the technology for things like home decor — as well as demonstrations on how it enhances a gaming experience from both Apple and Google.

But AR first made a name for itself in the B2B sector — largely for purposes related to trade shows and enhancing information delivery to analysts. And as it continues to grow its presence within the consumer sector, I don’t anticipate it leaving B2B behind. As the technology improves, many of the purposes it was originally used for will also continue to evolve, presenting an opportunity for business-facing marketers.

7. Smart Cities

From self-driving pizza delivery vehicles (seriously — this is a thing) to environment and energy usage, smart cities are where society and technology intersect.

While Smart Cities fill a new enough category that their roles in marketing remain fairly open-ended, they do present an opportunity for brands looking to increase their roles in the community — especially where technology is concerned.

One of the best cases for the growth of Smart Cities, for example, is how they will work to bolster public safety and services — something that cannot happen without the cooperation of the market, organizations, and regional leadership.

By exploring where their own organizations fit into the ecosystem of a Smart Cities, marketers can work ahead of the curve by looking for ways their brands can actively support and contribute to a Smart City, thus playing a larger role in what remains, for now, an emerging trend.

As always, I’m open to your take on these trends. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter.

The post Here Are the 7 Top Tech Trends to Watch in 2018, According to CES appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

11 New Year's Resolutions You Should Actually Keep

If you’re anything like I am, you have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions.

It seems like a natural time to make important changes. It’s like a universal pressing of the “reset” button. Maybe that’s why 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in the first place. But here’s the thing — only 9.2% of us are successful in achieving them.

We suspect it has something to do with the nature of the resolutions themselves — which seem, much to our joy, to be evolving. Lasy year, for instance, we reported that according to a study by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top 10 resolutions of 2015 included things like losing weight and falling in love.

And while this year’s top 10 resolutions, according to a survey conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, are similar — “self improvements,” “find the love of my life” — we noticed a new one on the list: “Learn something new on my own.”

Why do we love that resolution so much? Because it’s something that can help you become better at what you do every day.

That’s the challenge we posted last year: to come up with and stick to professional New Year’s resolutions — things that will make you more creative, productive, and generally more content at work.

Short on ideas? Here are 11 of ours to help you get started, along with resources to help you actually accomplish them.

1. Designate an electronics-free zone.

Why?

Our bodies are smarter than you might think. They’re trained to respond to light and dark, which according to the National Sleep Foundation send us important signals, like the time of day. Those signals also aid our bodies in adjusting our circadian rhythms — that’s the handy 24-hour physiological cycle that helps us fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

All of that is pretty cool … until screens are added to the equation. Our brains recognize the brightness from phones, computer monitors, and even TVs as external light, which sends the signal that we should be awake. That’s why it’s harder for so many of us to fall asleep when we’re exposed to too much screen time at night. The verdict? Put the devices down before bed.

How?

At INBOUND 2013, Arianna Huffington — who later went on to pen The Sleep Revolution — gave some great advice regarding the sleep/screen conundrum: Ban electronics from your bedroom for good.

“I never take devices to bed,” she said. “iPads, iPhones, Blackberries — I don’t charge them near my bed, because I feel it’s imperative to be able to have uninterrupted renewal time.”

This habit is a tough one to break, and it’s one that I’ve personally been working on for years. So if you like to watch movies or shows on your computer before bed, for example, I can relate — these are the mindless things that help us unwind at the end of the day. Luckily, there are solutions to help you resolve the problem for good, some of which might still allow you to indulge in your evening TV viewing.

Helpful Resources

We’d encourage you to ditch the electronics completely before bed. Instead, try reading, journaling, or maybe even a few minutes of yoga. And if you absolutely cannot part with your electronics:

  • Try downloading a desktop app that reduces your screen’s blue light as the day progresses — that’s the kind emitted from most electronics and is often cited as the culprit for sleep loss. We recommend f.lux, which adjusts your screen’s blue light depending on the time of day, or the similar filter from PC Sun Screen.
  • Plus, the latest iPhone OS now comes with a “night shift” mode, which accomplishes the same thing after sunset.

2. Write something every day.

Why?

Sadly, the decreasing quality of writing in the U.S. has been making headlines for a while now. And people want to become better writers — they just have trouble investing the necessary time.

But it’s an important skill. And if you’re going to be blogging regularly — which we recommend you do — the writing needs to be good.

If you want to become a better writer, then you need to write a lot. The way to improve that skill is the same way you’d approach any other — with practice.

It’s the same advice we give to people who want to blog more consistently (another worthy New Year’s resolution) which is to treat it like working out. You’ve got to do it consistently to see great results. After all, you can’t just publish a blog once every few months and expect to rack up views, leads, and customers. The same goes for your overall writing skills.

How?

To start, get into the habit of writing on a daily basis. Neil Patel suggests writing for at least 30 minutes every workday, skipping the weekends. Remember the advice we just gave to journal before bed, instead of looking at a screen? Here’s a great way to put that time to use.

And even if you don’t identify as a writer, pick a question — something from a customer, a friend, or a topic that’s always piqued your curiosity — and write something about it. Or, just write nonsense. It’s the habit of writing regularly that’s important, especially in the beginning.

Helpful Resources

When we encourage people to write more, one of the most common objections is, “I have nothing to say.” We profoundly disagree, and thought that these tools might help to generate some ideas:

  • Daily Page: Emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you’ve written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.
  • 750 Words: Encourages you to write 750 words per day about anything you want. It gamifies writing by giving you points for writing at all, for writing 750 words or more, and for writing on a consistent basis.
  • Twords: Calls itself “the app that nudges you to write.” It notifies you when you haven’t written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable — and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help you stay on track.

3. Keep up with Google.

Why?

Google likes to make changes to its algorithm as much as certain pop singers like to change boyfriends. But all of them are made to improve user experience, which is a good thing — it helps searchers discover the best content for what they’re seeking.

This year, we challenge you to really keep up with those changes. That doesn’t just mean staying on top of news about the latest changes. It also means keeping your content at the highest quality to make Google’s algorithm happy, which means more people will be able to find you. Win-win.

How?

Consider reorganizing your content library into content clusters since SEO is evolving to favor topics over keywords, according to Matthew Barby, global head of growth and SEO at HubSpot. That will help you harness more search traffic, because you’ll have a larger pool of relevant keywords and phrases to be discovered.

In general, it’s a good idea to regularly revisit and refresh your content strategy, too. Not only does it prevent your content from getting stale, but it also helps you to keep up with what people are searching for, which in turn will help you keep pace with Google.

Helpful Resources

4. Improve your design skills.

Why?

In case you haven’t heard, visual content is a pretty big deal in marketing. For one thing, it’s 40X more likely to be shared on social media. Plus, when a relevant image is paired with information, people retain 55% more of that information after three days.

But quality visual content goes beyond a Google image search or stock photography. At the same time, however, not everyone has an ample design budget. For that reason, we believe that 2017 is the year for you to master some design skills. That will allow you to create the content yourself — or, if you do have a bigger budget, learn to better communicate with contractors and agencies that create it for you.

How?

These days, learning a new skill has become its own industry. Never before have there been so many online resources — many of which are either free or relatively inexpensive — to self-educate. And many of them are available outside of the classroom, like on YouTube how-to videos, Coursera, or Khan Academy.

If your company has something like a tuition reimbursement program, here’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that benefit. Many community colleges offer design courses, some of which are taught in the evenings. Do a local search for these classes in your area, and find out what’s available — it might not be too late to enroll for the next semester.

Helpful Resources

5. Take breaks.

Why?

Despite 90% of employers encouraging breaks, it seems that only 45% of us are okay with taking them.

So what’s with the other 55%? It turns out that we’re too guilty to leave our desks for prolonged breaks — we’re afraid that it’ll make us look less productive, or take away time that could be used to get work done.

But it turns out that the opposite is true. In fact, the top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. There’s tremendous value in breaks, and we could all stand to benefit from them.

How?

When we’re “in the zone,” so to speak, it’s easy to forget to come up for air. That’s why I take the advice of that top 10%, and actually put reminders in my calendar to take a 17-minute break every 52 minutes.

During those 17 minutes, I completely step away from work — no email, no work-related calls, and whenever possible, no sneak peeks at my phone. And during those 52 minutes of work? That’s your time for hyper focus. Close those tabs that you have open to check social media — unless you’re using it for work, that is — and remind yourself that there’s a break coming.

Helpful Resources

6. Listen to one podcast per week.

Why?

Podcasting is a thriving mini-industry. It’s no wonder — listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new without it being a direct skill you are mastering.

That’s true from an early age, which is why many teachers are also incorporating podcasts into their lesson plans. In fact, one English teacher found that assigning the Serial podcast to his students helped them pay more attention to the written word. While listening to any given episode, he reported that their eyes became affixed to its written transcript. In other words, it seemed the auditory version of a story aided their ability to process accompanying written content.

And maybe that’s why the popularity of podcast-based lesson plans increased by a whopping 650% in 2015 — the year after Serial first launched. It’s not just that podcasts themselves are tremendously informative (which they are). As it turns out, they might even enhance your skills in other areas, too.

How?

A simple app download can go a long way when you’re aiming to discover more valuable podcasts. We particularly like Stitcher, which catalogs over 65,000 podcasts and allows you to curate your own listening collection, depending on your subject interests. Whether you’re looking to become a better marketer or a better cook, chances are, there’s a podcast out there that can help.

Helpful Resources

7. Ask for help.

Why?

Back in 2014, Care.com took a survey of working mothers that was quite eye-opening. Among the more surprising findings was one about the concept of asking for help — something that 29% of respondents felt guilty about doing, especially when it came to things at home.

At the same time, however, 79% also felt like they were falling behind at work, and 75% saw an overall reduction in stress when they did enlist help.

These numbers go beyond working mothers, however. It seems that there’s an epidemic of fear when it comes to asking for help at work. Many of us sense that asking questions about an assignment, for example, will make us look like we weren’t paying attention, or aren’t as smart as our peers thought. But when we don’t ask questions, we’re actually setting ourselves up for failure, by forcing completion of a task without all of the necessary information.

How?

This resolution is one that actually begins with management. On my very first day at HubSpot, my boss said something to me that I will never forget: “I’ll help you with whatever you ask me for help with. The most successful people ask for help when they need it!”

If you’re a manager, think about how often your team is asking for your help. If you’re not receiving a lot of questions, you might want to send a similar message. By setting that tone, your team is aware that it’s okay if they don’t know everything.

And on the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s more likely than not that the person you need it from is happy to answer your questions.

Helpful Resources

8. Embrace emerging technology.

Why?

This year, we’ve written a lot about types of technology that, from the top-down, are still emerging — things like artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual/augmented reality.

When we cover this technology, we like to think about trends that were emerging only a few years ago that ultimately left those who ignored them far behind in their marketing strategies. After all, social media was once an emerging trend — imagine what happened to those who wrote it off as merely shiny and new.

That’s why we constantly encourage marketers to not only embrace emerging technology, but to also truly invest the resources to learn about them and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.

How?

You can always tune in here, as we bring you our take on the latest in these topics. But beyond that, we encourage you to approach the type of content that scares you, and that you might unconsciously stray from because the subject matter seems overwhelming. (Hey, we’ve all been there — present company included.)

In the meantime, check out some of what we’ve already covered below.

Helpful Resources

9. Use your vacation time.

Why?

Believe it or not, there’s a phenomenon out there known as “vacation shaming” — the act of being made to feel guilty about going on vacation by managers, colleagues, or ourselves. No wonder 47% of us feel shame or guilt at work for taking time off — it’s mostly because we’re afraid it’ll make us look less dedicated.

That’s actually not how it works at all. It turns out that taking time off actually makes us more productive. In fact, in regions where people tend to take more vacation — like Brazil and Sweden, where paid time off is mandatory — employees tend to bring greater urgency to their work. That’s probably because, according to the Harvard Business Review, “spending less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

How?

Vacation aiding productivity echoes the research done about how breaks help us at work. The biggest requirement is planning. Have a look at your calendar, and figure out when you’ll be the busiest. Are there certain weeks when you’ll have a little more time to get ahead? Those are good pre-vacation weeks, since they’ll allow you to increase your output before you head out.

Here’s where that resolution to ask for help can be put to use, too. In addition to planning your own workload, ask the same of your colleagues. If there are certain weeks when they’re able to fill in on your behalf, that might be a good time for you to plan a vacation. But that goes both ways — make sure they’re aware of when you’re available to pitch in, too.

Helpful Resources

10. Read more.

Why?

The most successful people never stop learning. There’s a reason why 70% of adults in professional or managerial roles continue their education — it’s one of the best ways to keep up with industry trends, learn from experts, and get the creative juices flowing.

One of the best ways to do that outside of a classroom is to read what others are writing about. Reading more might even help you become a better writer, and exploring external content helps you to gain different perspectives of vital issues, whether they’re of personal or professional interest.

How?

The tough thing is, since there’s so much content out there, you have to be discerning to find the really good stuff. To start, three places where content quality stays high are Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, and Slate. (Don’t be afraid to pay for top-tier content, by the way. There’s a reason it costs money, and it’s often well worth it.)

You’ll want to spend time reading more niche or industry-specific content, too. To make it easier to read them all, look for applications that let you read all your favorites all in one place, like Feedly.

Helpful Resources

11. Move to the next level of your career.

Why?

“Next” can mean different things for different people — changing your title, getting more responsibilities, gaining more authority in your industry, or starting your own business. Whatever it is, start now — it could take longer than the next year to fully accomplish it.

Don’t let that scare you out of it, though. If you don’t start moving forward now, it’s easy to keep putting it off. Even if you’re happy in your current professional situation, we’ve outlined many reasons in this post to continue learning, or at least add to your success with new goals and accomplishments.

How?

When it comes to big, life-changing moves, planning is fundamental. If your goal is really monstrous, try breaking it into a year-over-year plan, and using the first year’s plan as the basis for your resolutions.

But if you’re simply looking to grow and accomplish more, there are smaller steps that you can take this year. Jumping on opportunities to share your skills with others, for example, can enhance your career, especially if you do so through public speaking engagements. These aren’t just beneficial for your audience — they provide a great way to present yourself as an expert, increase your visibility both online and offline, and build your personal brand. Plus, getting your name out there in the context of your job is beneficial for your company, too.

Talk with your manager about opportunities your company can introduce, like local meet-ups or conferences. You could also get in touch with a university and offer a guest lecture — after all, there’s something very rewarding about inspiring future talent.

Helpful Resources

Show Your Resolve

There you have it. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be quite so flighty, or involve gyms and special diets. They can help you become a better employee, and to continue learning and improving, no matter where you are in your career.

That said, do what works for you. We wouldn’t expect anyone to try to tackle all of these resolutions. Depending on where you are in life, some might be more feasible and practical than others. Think about your priorities, and choose from there.

From our team to yours, Happy New Year. We can’t wait to hear about how you put these resolutions to work.

The post 11 New Year's Resolutions You Should Actually Keep appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

If you’re anything like I am, you have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions.

It seems like a natural time to make important changes. It’s like a universal pressing of the “reset” button. Maybe that’s why 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in the first place. But here’s the thing — only 9.2% of us are successful in achieving them.

We suspect it has something to do with the nature of the resolutions themselves — which seem, much to our joy, to be evolving. Lasy year, for instance, we reported that according to a study by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top 10 resolutions of 2015 included things like losing weight and falling in love.

And while this year’s top 10 resolutions, according to a survey conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, are similar — “self improvements,” “find the love of my life” — we noticed a new one on the list: “Learn something new on my own.”

Why do we love that resolution so much? Because it’s something that can help you become better at what you do every day.

That’s the challenge we posted last year: to come up with and stick to professional New Year’s resolutions — things that will make you more creative, productive, and generally more content at work.

Short on ideas? Here are 11 of ours to help you get started, along with resources to help you actually accomplish them.

1. Designate an electronics-free zone.

Why?

Our bodies are smarter than you might think. They’re trained to respond to light and dark, which according to the National Sleep Foundation send us important signals, like the time of day. Those signals also aid our bodies in adjusting our circadian rhythms — that’s the handy 24-hour physiological cycle that helps us fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

All of that is pretty cool … until screens are added to the equation. Our brains recognize the brightness from phones, computer monitors, and even TVs as external light, which sends the signal that we should be awake. That’s why it’s harder for so many of us to fall asleep when we’re exposed to too much screen time at night. The verdict? Put the devices down before bed.

How?

At INBOUND 2013, Arianna Huffington — who later went on to pen The Sleep Revolution — gave some great advice regarding the sleep/screen conundrum: Ban electronics from your bedroom for good.

“I never take devices to bed,” she said. “iPads, iPhones, Blackberries — I don’t charge them near my bed, because I feel it’s imperative to be able to have uninterrupted renewal time.”

This habit is a tough one to break, and it’s one that I’ve personally been working on for years. So if you like to watch movies or shows on your computer before bed, for example, I can relate — these are the mindless things that help us unwind at the end of the day. Luckily, there are solutions to help you resolve the problem for good, some of which might still allow you to indulge in your evening TV viewing.

Helpful Resources

We’d encourage you to ditch the electronics completely before bed. Instead, try reading, journaling, or maybe even a few minutes of yoga. And if you absolutely cannot part with your electronics:

  • Try downloading a desktop app that reduces your screen’s blue light as the day progresses — that’s the kind emitted from most electronics and is often cited as the culprit for sleep loss. We recommend f.lux, which adjusts your screen’s blue light depending on the time of day, or the similar filter from PC Sun Screen.
  • Plus, the latest iPhone OS now comes with a “night shift” mode, which accomplishes the same thing after sunset.

2. Write something every day.

Why?

Sadly, the decreasing quality of writing in the U.S. has been making headlines for a while now. And people want to become better writers — they just have trouble investing the necessary time.

But it’s an important skill. And if you’re going to be blogging regularly — which we recommend you do — the writing needs to be good.

If you want to become a better writer, then you need to write a lot. The way to improve that skill is the same way you’d approach any other — with practice.

It’s the same advice we give to people who want to blog more consistently (another worthy New Year’s resolution) which is to treat it like working out. You’ve got to do it consistently to see great results. After all, you can’t just publish a blog once every few months and expect to rack up views, leads, and customers. The same goes for your overall writing skills.

How?

To start, get into the habit of writing on a daily basis. Neil Patel suggests writing for at least 30 minutes every workday, skipping the weekends. Remember the advice we just gave to journal before bed, instead of looking at a screen? Here’s a great way to put that time to use.

And even if you don’t identify as a writer, pick a question — something from a customer, a friend, or a topic that’s always piqued your curiosity — and write something about it. Or, just write nonsense. It’s the habit of writing regularly that’s important, especially in the beginning.

Helpful Resources

When we encourage people to write more, one of the most common objections is, “I have nothing to say.” We profoundly disagree, and thought that these tools might help to generate some ideas:

  • Daily Page: Emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you’ve written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.
  • 750 Words: Encourages you to write 750 words per day about anything you want. It gamifies writing by giving you points for writing at all, for writing 750 words or more, and for writing on a consistent basis.
  • Twords: Calls itself “the app that nudges you to write.” It notifies you when you haven’t written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable — and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help you stay on track.

3. Keep up with Google.

Why?

Google likes to make changes to its algorithm as much as certain pop singers like to change boyfriends. But all of them are made to improve user experience, which is a good thing — it helps searchers discover the best content for what they’re seeking.

This year, we challenge you to really keep up with those changes. That doesn’t just mean staying on top of news about the latest changes. It also means keeping your content at the highest quality to make Google’s algorithm happy, which means more people will be able to find you. Win-win.

How?

Consider reorganizing your content library into content clusters since SEO is evolving to favor topics over keywords, according to Matthew Barby, global head of growth and SEO at HubSpot. That will help you harness more search traffic, because you’ll have a larger pool of relevant keywords and phrases to be discovered.

In general, it’s a good idea to regularly revisit and refresh your content strategy, too. Not only does it prevent your content from getting stale, but it also helps you to keep up with what people are searching for, which in turn will help you keep pace with Google.

Helpful Resources

4. Improve your design skills.

Why?

In case you haven’t heard, visual content is a pretty big deal in marketing. For one thing, it’s 40X more likely to be shared on social media. Plus, when a relevant image is paired with information, people retain 55% more of that information after three days.

But quality visual content goes beyond a Google image search or stock photography. At the same time, however, not everyone has an ample design budget. For that reason, we believe that 2017 is the year for you to master some design skills. That will allow you to create the content yourself — or, if you do have a bigger budget, learn to better communicate with contractors and agencies that create it for you.

How?

These days, learning a new skill has become its own industry. Never before have there been so many online resources — many of which are either free or relatively inexpensive — to self-educate. And many of them are available outside of the classroom, like on YouTube how-to videos, Coursera, or Khan Academy.

If your company has something like a tuition reimbursement program, here’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that benefit. Many community colleges offer design courses, some of which are taught in the evenings. Do a local search for these classes in your area, and find out what’s available — it might not be too late to enroll for the next semester.

Helpful Resources

5. Take breaks.

Why?

Despite 90% of employers encouraging breaks, it seems that only 45% of us are okay with taking them.

So what’s with the other 55%? It turns out that we’re too guilty to leave our desks for prolonged breaks — we’re afraid that it’ll make us look less productive, or take away time that could be used to get work done.

But it turns out that the opposite is true. In fact, the top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. There’s tremendous value in breaks, and we could all stand to benefit from them.

How?

When we’re “in the zone,” so to speak, it’s easy to forget to come up for air. That’s why I take the advice of that top 10%, and actually put reminders in my calendar to take a 17-minute break every 52 minutes.

During those 17 minutes, I completely step away from work — no email, no work-related calls, and whenever possible, no sneak peeks at my phone. And during those 52 minutes of work? That’s your time for hyper focus. Close those tabs that you have open to check social media — unless you’re using it for work, that is — and remind yourself that there’s a break coming.

Helpful Resources

6. Listen to one podcast per week.

Why?

Podcasting is a thriving mini-industry. It’s no wonder — listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new without it being a direct skill you are mastering.

That’s true from an early age, which is why many teachers are also incorporating podcasts into their lesson plans. In fact, one English teacher found that assigning the Serial podcast to his students helped them pay more attention to the written word. While listening to any given episode, he reported that their eyes became affixed to its written transcript. In other words, it seemed the auditory version of a story aided their ability to process accompanying written content.

And maybe that’s why the popularity of podcast-based lesson plans increased by a whopping 650% in 2015 — the year after Serial first launched. It’s not just that podcasts themselves are tremendously informative (which they are). As it turns out, they might even enhance your skills in other areas, too.

How?

A simple app download can go a long way when you’re aiming to discover more valuable podcasts. We particularly like Stitcher, which catalogs over 65,000 podcasts and allows you to curate your own listening collection, depending on your subject interests. Whether you’re looking to become a better marketer or a better cook, chances are, there’s a podcast out there that can help.

Helpful Resources

7. Ask for help.

Why?

Back in 2014, Care.com took a survey of working mothers that was quite eye-opening. Among the more surprising findings was one about the concept of asking for help — something that 29% of respondents felt guilty about doing, especially when it came to things at home.

At the same time, however, 79% also felt like they were falling behind at work, and 75% saw an overall reduction in stress when they did enlist help.

These numbers go beyond working mothers, however. It seems that there’s an epidemic of fear when it comes to asking for help at work. Many of us sense that asking questions about an assignment, for example, will make us look like we weren’t paying attention, or aren’t as smart as our peers thought. But when we don’t ask questions, we’re actually setting ourselves up for failure, by forcing completion of a task without all of the necessary information.

How?

This resolution is one that actually begins with management. On my very first day at HubSpot, my boss said something to me that I will never forget: “I’ll help you with whatever you ask me for help with. The most successful people ask for help when they need it!”

If you’re a manager, think about how often your team is asking for your help. If you’re not receiving a lot of questions, you might want to send a similar message. By setting that tone, your team is aware that it’s okay if they don’t know everything.

And on the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s more likely than not that the person you need it from is happy to answer your questions.

Helpful Resources

8. Embrace emerging technology.

Why?

This year, we’ve written a lot about types of technology that, from the top-down, are still emerging — things like artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual/augmented reality.

When we cover this technology, we like to think about trends that were emerging only a few years ago that ultimately left those who ignored them far behind in their marketing strategies. After all, social media was once an emerging trend — imagine what happened to those who wrote it off as merely shiny and new.

That’s why we constantly encourage marketers to not only embrace emerging technology, but to also truly invest the resources to learn about them and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.

How?

You can always tune in here, as we bring you our take on the latest in these topics. But beyond that, we encourage you to approach the type of content that scares you, and that you might unconsciously stray from because the subject matter seems overwhelming. (Hey, we’ve all been there — present company included.)

In the meantime, check out some of what we’ve already covered below.

Helpful Resources

9. Use your vacation time.

Why?

Believe it or not, there’s a phenomenon out there known as “vacation shaming” — the act of being made to feel guilty about going on vacation by managers, colleagues, or ourselves. No wonder 47% of us feel shame or guilt at work for taking time off — it’s mostly because we’re afraid it’ll make us look less dedicated.

That’s actually not how it works at all. It turns out that taking time off actually makes us more productive. In fact, in regions where people tend to take more vacation — like Brazil and Sweden, where paid time off is mandatory — employees tend to bring greater urgency to their work. That’s probably because, according to the Harvard Business Review, “spending less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

How?

Vacation aiding productivity echoes the research done about how breaks help us at work. The biggest requirement is planning. Have a look at your calendar, and figure out when you’ll be the busiest. Are there certain weeks when you’ll have a little more time to get ahead? Those are good pre-vacation weeks, since they’ll allow you to increase your output before you head out.

Here’s where that resolution to ask for help can be put to use, too. In addition to planning your own workload, ask the same of your colleagues. If there are certain weeks when they’re able to fill in on your behalf, that might be a good time for you to plan a vacation. But that goes both ways — make sure they’re aware of when you’re available to pitch in, too.

Helpful Resources

10. Read more.

Why?

The most successful people never stop learning. There’s a reason why 70% of adults in professional or managerial roles continue their education — it’s one of the best ways to keep up with industry trends, learn from experts, and get the creative juices flowing.

One of the best ways to do that outside of a classroom is to read what others are writing about. Reading more might even help you become a better writer, and exploring external content helps you to gain different perspectives of vital issues, whether they’re of personal or professional interest.

How?

The tough thing is, since there’s so much content out there, you have to be discerning to find the really good stuff. To start, three places where content quality stays high are Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, and Slate. (Don’t be afraid to pay for top-tier content, by the way. There’s a reason it costs money, and it’s often well worth it.)

You’ll want to spend time reading more niche or industry-specific content, too. To make it easier to read them all, look for applications that let you read all your favorites all in one place, like Feedly.

Helpful Resources

11. Move to the next level of your career.

Why?

“Next” can mean different things for different people — changing your title, getting more responsibilities, gaining more authority in your industry, or starting your own business. Whatever it is, start now — it could take longer than the next year to fully accomplish it.

Don’t let that scare you out of it, though. If you don’t start moving forward now, it’s easy to keep putting it off. Even if you’re happy in your current professional situation, we’ve outlined many reasons in this post to continue learning, or at least add to your success with new goals and accomplishments.

How?

When it comes to big, life-changing moves, planning is fundamental. If your goal is really monstrous, try breaking it into a year-over-year plan, and using the first year’s plan as the basis for your resolutions.

But if you’re simply looking to grow and accomplish more, there are smaller steps that you can take this year. Jumping on opportunities to share your skills with others, for example, can enhance your career, especially if you do so through public speaking engagements. These aren’t just beneficial for your audience — they provide a great way to present yourself as an expert, increase your visibility both online and offline, and build your personal brand. Plus, getting your name out there in the context of your job is beneficial for your company, too.

Talk with your manager about opportunities your company can introduce, like local meet-ups or conferences. You could also get in touch with a university and offer a guest lecture — after all, there’s something very rewarding about inspiring future talent.

Helpful Resources

Show Your Resolve

There you have it. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be quite so flighty, or involve gyms and special diets. They can help you become a better employee, and to continue learning and improving, no matter where you are in your career.

That said, do what works for you. We wouldn’t expect anyone to try to tackle all of these resolutions. Depending on where you are in life, some might be more feasible and practical than others. Think about your priorities, and choose from there.

From our team to yours, Happy New Year. We can’t wait to hear about how you put these resolutions to work.

The post 11 New Year's Resolutions You Should Actually Keep appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018

Who wants to 10x their revenue? Okay. You can put your hand down. Of course, you want to 10x your revenue this year. Everyone wants to. But I don’t mean to discredit that goal. It’s a worthy undertaking — one that should be at the top of every serious marketer’s list. However, like many dreams … Continue reading “What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018”

The post What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018 appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

Who wants to 10x their revenue? Okay. You can put your hand down. Of course, you want to 10x your revenue this year. Everyone wants to. But I don’t mean to discredit that goal. It’s a worthy undertaking — one that should be at the top of every serious marketer’s list. However, like many dreams … Continue reading “What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018”

The post What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018 appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

How HubSpot's Pricing Page Redesign Increased MQL Conversions by 165% & Free Sign-Ups by 89%

A few months ago during INBOUND 2017, we launched a complete redesign of HubSpot’s website pricing page. Not because it hadn’t been redesigned in a few years (it hadn’t), but because we saw a big conversion opportunity from a page that had a lot of untapped potential.

And boy, did it pay off. Not only did we increase the number of MQLs the page generated by 165%, but we also increased sign-ups for our free products by 89%.

It’s no small feat to increase free product sign-ups while also increasing the number of people who raise their hand and say they want to talk to our sales team about our premium products. But I’m not really here to brag about numbers (though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even a little bit proud). I’m here to talk about process.Click here to learn best practices for optimizing landing pages and generating  more leads.

A redesign of a website’s pricing page is typically a huge undertaking that involves a lot of company stakeholders. For us, those stakeholders were web strategy (my team), product marketing, sales operations, legal, pricing and packaging, and localization. And when you have that many opinions involved, it’s easy to cave in and make compromises that A) dilute the overall quality of the work you’re doing, and B) detract from the original goals of your redesign.

So keep reading if you want to learn more about our research behind the redesign, our goals, how we made sure we stuck to those goals during a months-long redesign process with multiple stakeholders, and why we changed what we did. 

Before and After 

You can check out how the old page looked via the Wayback Machine here, and you can find the new page here. Or just take a look at the quick snapshot below … 

Before

old-pricing-page-1.png

After

hubspot-pricing-page-1.png

The Goals of the Redesign

The pricing page has always stood out to my team as being rife with opportunity. Up until this redesign, it had been built primarily as a sales enablement tool. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s also important to note that the pricing page is the second most visited page on our website — second only to our homepage. As a result, the pricing page generates a lot of really broad traffic from visitors who, compared to the sales reps the page was originally optimized for, have much less knowledge of our products.

This meant we had been neglecting to optimize the page for its primary user: the website visitor. As a result, the pricing page was converting visitors at a poor rate, and given the hefty amount of traffic it generates every month, we hypothesized that we were leaving a whole lot of conversations on the table. So our goals were twofold.

  1. Optimize for conversions. Our pricing page should either drive visitors to sign up for a free product or contact our sales team.
  2. Create a positive user experience. Pricing should be presented in a way that is both transparent and easy for users to understand.

The Research Behind the Design

The new pricing page was launched near the end of September, but we started conducting research to lay the groundwork for the redesign way back in May, and let me tell you: It was extensive. In fact, pretty much every decision we made about every aspect of the redesign — the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events — all of it had roots in some aspect of our research.

Defining Guardrails and Omissions

We compiled our goals and the findings of our research into a slide deck that defined specific guardrails and omissions for the redesign based on the insights we uncovered through our research and discovery phase.

We shared this deck with all the page’s key stakeholders and asked them to sign off on the plan before we got started. This gave us a document to refer back to throughout the redesign process to ensure we were staying true to our goals and sticking to our guardrails.

Here’s a look at the different types of research we conducted and how its insights led to specific changes on the pricing page. 

1. Qualitative Data

First, we analyzed the performance of the existing pricing page from a traffic and conversion perspective.

From this, we learned that people on the pricing page preferred to pick up the phone and give us a call, which led to our decision to feature the sales phone number more prominently in the new design.

We also learned that pricing page users were actively clicking between the pricing for our different products (the Marketing Hub, the Sales Hub, and HubSpot CRM), so we made the navigation between products even more prominent so users could move freely from one product’s pricing to another’s.

quantitative-data.png

 

2. Pre-Testing of Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

In the months leading up to the redesign, we also did some A/B testing to inform our pricing page’s conversion strategy. Historically, the CTAs for the paid products on our pricing page had always linked to our contact sales landing page. But those CTAs had a really poor conversion rate, so we tested them against a demo CTA that led to our demo landing page instead.

While the demo CTAs generated a higher volume of conversions, the data showed that the contact sales CTAs would ultimately result in more customers (due to the higher close rate of contact sales conversions). This informed our decision to keep that contact sales conversion on the new page.

To inform our CTA copy decisions, we ran an additional CTA copy test (“Contact Sales” vs. “Talk to Sales”) and saw a 46% increase in clickthrough rate with the use of the “Talk to Sales” copy, which we therefore implemented in the redesign.

talk-to-sales-1.png

 

3. Chat Transcripts

We also reviewed transcripts of the chat conversations that were happening on the pricing page to determine the common questions users were asking while they were on the page.

From this, we learned that people were often skeptical that the CRM was truly free, which led to our decision to incorporate copy on the CRM pricing page to directly address that concern.

We also learned that people were confused by the contact tier pricing for the Marketing Hub, so we incorporated a slider that shows users how purchasing additional contacts directly impacts their pricing, and also added a tooltip to explain to users what “contacts” are.

Lastly, we learned that because we had only been displaying pricing for our Marketing Basic, Professional, and Enterprise plans on our main pricing page (with pricing for our free and Starter plans living on an entirely separate, fairly hidden page), the $200 Marketing Basic price tag gave a lot of visitors sticker shock. This supported our decision to incorporate pricing for our free and Starter plans (and sign-up CTAs for our free marketing tools) into the core pricing page to prevent users from disqualifying themselves based on cost alone, and from getting scared away before getting started with our software.

chat-transcript-changes.png

 

4. Interviews With HubSpot Sales Managers & Reps

Knowing that the pricing page is still an important tool for our sales team, we interviewed sales managers and reps alike to gather their feedback on the old pricing page — what they liked and didn’t like, what was working for and against them, and what other opportunities they saw for the upcoming redesign.

From this, we learned that we weren’t putting enough emphasis on the customer support we have — and that customers see it as just as valuable as any other software feature. This led to our decision to include customer support in the page’s feature grid, and to dedicate an entire section of the page to highlighting our various customer support options for paying customers.

We also learned that pricing page users need help determining which particular plan is right for them, and that we should make pricing transparent enough for users to understand what they get with each plan, but also intricate enough that users need diagnostic and prescriptive help from a sales rep. So we updated the copy for the descriptions that go along with each plan to help users more easily self-identify which one is right for them. We also used the copy positioned next to the the sales phone number to communicate to users that the best way to determine the right plan is to talk to a salesperson directly.

sales-feedback.png

 

5. Qualitative User Testing

Furthermore, we conducted user testing on the old pricing page to understand what was already working, and where it fell short.

In addition to further validating insights from some of our other forms of research (e.g. the sticker shock of the Marketing Hub, the confusing contact tier pricing, the oversight of not featuring our customer support services more prominently, users’ difficulty in determining which plan is right for them, and the need for the easy navigation between pricing for different products), we also learned about the elements of the old pricing page that were particularly important to users: transparent pricing, a pricing calculator component, and the ability to easily compare plans.

In addition, we learned that users were having a difficult time comparing the value between different plans, and we discovered that the page’s cognitive load was high. In other words, there was too much information on the page for users to process at once, and they were suffering from information overload.

This led to our decisions to use expandable modules on certain parts of the page to reduce cognitive load, and to redesign the feature comparison table into something that A) was simplified and more easily digestible, and B) made it easier for users to compare the value between plans — the feature grid we have today.

user-testing-changes-1.png

 

6. Competitive Analysis

Pulling primarily from the Montclare SAAS 250 list of the most successful SAAS companies, we also spent time gathering examples of other companies’ pricing pages, analyzed the pros and cons of each approach, and drew inspiration from the pieces we liked.

This helped us validate that the new SKU/plan navigation we were planning to implement (to enable users to easily toggle between pricing plans and compare the available features) was a smart direction.

sku-nav.png

 

7. Building for a Scalable Future

My team keeps testing road maps for many of the core, heavy-hitting pages on our website. Here, we document all the tests we’d like to run and the insights from research we’ve done to come up with those testing ideas — all organized into a timeline of what we should test first.

So as part of the redesign, we sat down with HubSpot Chief Strategy Officer Brad Coffey so we could design a pricing page that would easily scale with, adapt to, and align with our potential business strategy.

Evaluating the Results of the Redesign

After the redesigned page went live, we repeated a lot of the research above to check in on how the new page was performing.

We’ve already mentioned that the redesign led to 165% more hand-raisers and 89% more free users in the month after the redesign (9/27/17 – 10/24/17) compared to the month prior (8/29/17 – 9/25/17), but we also conducted user testing and solicited feedback from our sales team on the new design. Here’s a summary of the feedback we gathered and the ways we’re acting on it.

Feedback From User Testing

From user testing, we learned that the new pricing page design is strong — users intuitively use much of the design, and it’s easy for them to understand what they’d be getting from each pricing plan.

Users also commented that the conversion events on the page seemed well-balanced and not intrusive. They said the CTAs throughout the page to talk to Sales, call us, and chat with us weren’t overly aggressive; they were actually helpful!

We also identified some room for improvement, and learned that there were some small design and copy tweaks we could implement to improve the user experience even further still, which we’ve been following up on.

Feedback From the Sales Team

In addition to users, we also solicited feedback from our sales team, who identified a few updates we could make to the design to make our pricing even more transparent and user-friendly to prospects.

As a result, for example, we made the pricing page URL dynamic so it  changes based on a user’s selections in the pricing calculator. This made it much easier for sales reps to share specific pricing configurations with prospects, who could in turn share those configurations with other decision-makers in their company.

configuration-url.png

Design Based on Insights

Our redesign wasn’t successful by chance, and none of the changes we made were made on a whim. All of the decisions we made (the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events) were strategic and deliberate, rooted in insights we learned from some aspect of our research. 

The lesson is this: When you test and design based on insights you’ve learned from real research, that’s how you generate real results.

So if you’re considering a redesign, make sure there is a real, data-backed reason for doing it, and do your due diligence to identify which parts of your design are failing (and why) so you know exactly what to fix and how to fix it. Redesigns are a time-consuming, and often expensive, undertaking, so you’ll want to do your best to make sure the results were worth the effort. 

landing-page-design-ebook

 

Free Guide Optimize Landing Pages

The post How HubSpot's Pricing Page Redesign Increased MQL Conversions by 165% & Free Sign-Ups by 89% appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

A few months ago during INBOUND 2017, we launched a complete redesign of HubSpot’s website pricing page. Not because it hadn’t been redesigned in a few years (it hadn’t), but because we saw a big conversion opportunity from a page that had a lot of untapped potential.

And boy, did it pay off. Not only did we increase the number of MQLs the page generated by 165%, but we also increased sign-ups for our free products by 89%.

It’s no small feat to increase free product sign-ups while also increasing the number of people who raise their hand and say they want to talk to our sales team about our premium products. But I’m not really here to brag about numbers (though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even a little bit proud). I’m here to talk about process.Click here to learn best practices for optimizing landing pages and generating  more leads.

A redesign of a website’s pricing page is typically a huge undertaking that involves a lot of company stakeholders. For us, those stakeholders were web strategy (my team), product marketing, sales operations, legal, pricing and packaging, and localization. And when you have that many opinions involved, it’s easy to cave in and make compromises that A) dilute the overall quality of the work you’re doing, and B) detract from the original goals of your redesign.

So keep reading if you want to learn more about our research behind the redesign, our goals, how we made sure we stuck to those goals during a months-long redesign process with multiple stakeholders, and why we changed what we did. 

Before and After 

You can check out how the old page looked via the Wayback Machine here, and you can find the new page here. Or just take a look at the quick snapshot below … 

Before

old-pricing-page-1.png

After

hubspot-pricing-page-1.png

The Goals of the Redesign

The pricing page has always stood out to my team as being rife with opportunity. Up until this redesign, it had been built primarily as a sales enablement tool. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s also important to note that the pricing page is the second most visited page on our website — second only to our homepage. As a result, the pricing page generates a lot of really broad traffic from visitors who, compared to the sales reps the page was originally optimized for, have much less knowledge of our products.

This meant we had been neglecting to optimize the page for its primary user: the website visitor. As a result, the pricing page was converting visitors at a poor rate, and given the hefty amount of traffic it generates every month, we hypothesized that we were leaving a whole lot of conversations on the table. So our goals were twofold.

  1. Optimize for conversions. Our pricing page should either drive visitors to sign up for a free product or contact our sales team.
  2. Create a positive user experience. Pricing should be presented in a way that is both transparent and easy for users to understand.

The Research Behind the Design

The new pricing page was launched near the end of September, but we started conducting research to lay the groundwork for the redesign way back in May, and let me tell you: It was extensive. In fact, pretty much every decision we made about every aspect of the redesign — the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events — all of it had roots in some aspect of our research.

Defining Guardrails and Omissions

We compiled our goals and the findings of our research into a slide deck that defined specific guardrails and omissions for the redesign based on the insights we uncovered through our research and discovery phase.

We shared this deck with all the page’s key stakeholders and asked them to sign off on the plan before we got started. This gave us a document to refer back to throughout the redesign process to ensure we were staying true to our goals and sticking to our guardrails.

Here’s a look at the different types of research we conducted and how its insights led to specific changes on the pricing page. 

1. Qualitative Data

First, we analyzed the performance of the existing pricing page from a traffic and conversion perspective.

From this, we learned that people on the pricing page preferred to pick up the phone and give us a call, which led to our decision to feature the sales phone number more prominently in the new design.

We also learned that pricing page users were actively clicking between the pricing for our different products (the Marketing Hub, the Sales Hub, and HubSpot CRM), so we made the navigation between products even more prominent so users could move freely from one product’s pricing to another’s.

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2. Pre-Testing of Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

In the months leading up to the redesign, we also did some A/B testing to inform our pricing page’s conversion strategy. Historically, the CTAs for the paid products on our pricing page had always linked to our contact sales landing page. But those CTAs had a really poor conversion rate, so we tested them against a demo CTA that led to our demo landing page instead.

While the demo CTAs generated a higher volume of conversions, the data showed that the contact sales CTAs would ultimately result in more customers (due to the higher close rate of contact sales conversions). This informed our decision to keep that contact sales conversion on the new page.

To inform our CTA copy decisions, we ran an additional CTA copy test (“Contact Sales” vs. “Talk to Sales”) and saw a 46% increase in clickthrough rate with the use of the “Talk to Sales” copy, which we therefore implemented in the redesign.

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3. Chat Transcripts

We also reviewed transcripts of the chat conversations that were happening on the pricing page to determine the common questions users were asking while they were on the page.

From this, we learned that people were often skeptical that the CRM was truly free, which led to our decision to incorporate copy on the CRM pricing page to directly address that concern.

We also learned that people were confused by the contact tier pricing for the Marketing Hub, so we incorporated a slider that shows users how purchasing additional contacts directly impacts their pricing, and also added a tooltip to explain to users what “contacts” are.

Lastly, we learned that because we had only been displaying pricing for our Marketing Basic, Professional, and Enterprise plans on our main pricing page (with pricing for our free and Starter plans living on an entirely separate, fairly hidden page), the $200 Marketing Basic price tag gave a lot of visitors sticker shock. This supported our decision to incorporate pricing for our free and Starter plans (and sign-up CTAs for our free marketing tools) into the core pricing page to prevent users from disqualifying themselves based on cost alone, and from getting scared away before getting started with our software.

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4. Interviews With HubSpot Sales Managers & Reps

Knowing that the pricing page is still an important tool for our sales team, we interviewed sales managers and reps alike to gather their feedback on the old pricing page — what they liked and didn’t like, what was working for and against them, and what other opportunities they saw for the upcoming redesign.

From this, we learned that we weren’t putting enough emphasis on the customer support we have — and that customers see it as just as valuable as any other software feature. This led to our decision to include customer support in the page’s feature grid, and to dedicate an entire section of the page to highlighting our various customer support options for paying customers.

We also learned that pricing page users need help determining which particular plan is right for them, and that we should make pricing transparent enough for users to understand what they get with each plan, but also intricate enough that users need diagnostic and prescriptive help from a sales rep. So we updated the copy for the descriptions that go along with each plan to help users more easily self-identify which one is right for them. We also used the copy positioned next to the the sales phone number to communicate to users that the best way to determine the right plan is to talk to a salesperson directly.

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5. Qualitative User Testing

Furthermore, we conducted user testing on the old pricing page to understand what was already working, and where it fell short.

In addition to further validating insights from some of our other forms of research (e.g. the sticker shock of the Marketing Hub, the confusing contact tier pricing, the oversight of not featuring our customer support services more prominently, users’ difficulty in determining which plan is right for them, and the need for the easy navigation between pricing for different products), we also learned about the elements of the old pricing page that were particularly important to users: transparent pricing, a pricing calculator component, and the ability to easily compare plans.

In addition, we learned that users were having a difficult time comparing the value between different plans, and we discovered that the page’s cognitive load was high. In other words, there was too much information on the page for users to process at once, and they were suffering from information overload.

This led to our decisions to use expandable modules on certain parts of the page to reduce cognitive load, and to redesign the feature comparison table into something that A) was simplified and more easily digestible, and B) made it easier for users to compare the value between plans — the feature grid we have today.

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6. Competitive Analysis

Pulling primarily from the Montclare SAAS 250 list of the most successful SAAS companies, we also spent time gathering examples of other companies’ pricing pages, analyzed the pros and cons of each approach, and drew inspiration from the pieces we liked.

This helped us validate that the new SKU/plan navigation we were planning to implement (to enable users to easily toggle between pricing plans and compare the available features) was a smart direction.

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7. Building for a Scalable Future

My team keeps testing road maps for many of the core, heavy-hitting pages on our website. Here, we document all the tests we’d like to run and the insights from research we’ve done to come up with those testing ideas — all organized into a timeline of what we should test first.

So as part of the redesign, we sat down with HubSpot Chief Strategy Officer Brad Coffey so we could design a pricing page that would easily scale with, adapt to, and align with our potential business strategy.

Evaluating the Results of the Redesign

After the redesigned page went live, we repeated a lot of the research above to check in on how the new page was performing.

We’ve already mentioned that the redesign led to 165% more hand-raisers and 89% more free users in the month after the redesign (9/27/17 – 10/24/17) compared to the month prior (8/29/17 – 9/25/17), but we also conducted user testing and solicited feedback from our sales team on the new design. Here’s a summary of the feedback we gathered and the ways we’re acting on it.

Feedback From User Testing

From user testing, we learned that the new pricing page design is strong — users intuitively use much of the design, and it’s easy for them to understand what they’d be getting from each pricing plan.

Users also commented that the conversion events on the page seemed well-balanced and not intrusive. They said the CTAs throughout the page to talk to Sales, call us, and chat with us weren’t overly aggressive; they were actually helpful!

We also identified some room for improvement, and learned that there were some small design and copy tweaks we could implement to improve the user experience even further still, which we’ve been following up on.

Feedback From the Sales Team

In addition to users, we also solicited feedback from our sales team, who identified a few updates we could make to the design to make our pricing even more transparent and user-friendly to prospects.

As a result, for example, we made the pricing page URL dynamic so it  changes based on a user’s selections in the pricing calculator. This made it much easier for sales reps to share specific pricing configurations with prospects, who could in turn share those configurations with other decision-makers in their company.

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Design Based on Insights

Our redesign wasn’t successful by chance, and none of the changes we made were made on a whim. All of the decisions we made (the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events) were strategic and deliberate, rooted in insights we learned from some aspect of our research. 

The lesson is this: When you test and design based on insights you’ve learned from real research, that’s how you generate real results.

So if you’re considering a redesign, make sure there is a real, data-backed reason for doing it, and do your due diligence to identify which parts of your design are failing (and why) so you know exactly what to fix and how to fix it. Redesigns are a time-consuming, and often expensive, undertaking, so you’ll want to do your best to make sure the results were worth the effort. 

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The post How HubSpot's Pricing Page Redesign Increased MQL Conversions by 165% & Free Sign-Ups by 89% appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

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