How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Virtual Reality

Customers are more inclined to engage with or purchase from brands they feel the strongest connection with. This isn’t a new development. What is new is the definition of the term “engagement” itself, or more accurately, what defines a customer’s engagement.

For many customers today, an experience is inauthentic if it’s not interactive. Meaning, they have to be able to reach out and feel like they’re grabbing the thing you’re selling, which is a far cry from the days where leaving a comment on a blog post counted as a sufficient interaction.

71% of consumers think a brand that uses virtual reality is forward-thinking. And however you feel about the term “forward-thinking,” one thing is for sure: these brands stand out and gain consumer attention.Click here to sharpen your skills with the help of our content marketing workbook.

Despite what you might think about VR, it’s not a completely inaccessible marketing tactic. Creating a content marketing strategy for virtual reality isn’t that different from a normal content marketing strategy, but it requires an understanding of engagement through interactivity.

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for VR

Keep Your Existing Audience in Mind

How does your ideal customer consume your content already? Is it through a weekly webinar or Q&A? Or maybe a daily vlog from the CEO’s desk? Whatever content routine you’ve created, you can continue that strategy while incorporating VR technology.

For example, if your primary medium is Facebook video, you can start producing virtual reality content on Facebook Spaces Although Spaces is still in beta, it’s poised to become a Facebook standard in the not-so-distant future. There’s no better time than the present to start thinking of ways to make it benefit your brand.

Does your business have an app? One emerging trend for app-based businesses is to infuse virtual reality content for use with a Samsung or iPhone paired VR headset. Take mega-ticket marketplace Stubhub as an example. They’ve now added a 360 degree virtual reality view to every ticket purchase, allowing customers to see the view from their actual seats.

Screenshot via Recode

These virtual views have been available on for a while now, but used to be standard (rather than 360 degree) images. Thanks to the incorporation of VR, the brand has enhanced their customer’s existing experience, and helped them better navigate to a purchase.

Just think of how many times you’ve decided against buying tickets because you weren’t sure about the view. Stubhub is effectively solving this problem by tweaking their existing content to enable VR capabilities.

Don’t Just Content, Create An Experience

The notion of a content marketing strategy combined with virtual reality might be misleading. After all, virtual reality is not about the content, it’s about the user experience. Thus, your content creation strategy should aim to be immersive for the consumer, giving them an in-depth view at your product offerings.

Store “Walk-Throughs”

Take the customers through your store, showing them your best inventory and product offerings first hand, like Shopify. The e-commerce giant is about to release their all-new thread studio, which is a VR app that will take consumers into a virtual studio to view t-shirt designs and other apparel.

Image via Shopify

Once they’ve mixed and matched colors and found the design that’s best for their project, they are sent to Shopify’s print-on-demand provider, Printful. From here, they can turn their virtual vision into a real-life, tangible product. As brick-and-mortar stores continue to shut their doors, they’ll be replaced by these virtual stores that allow consumers to walk through and browse without leaving the house.

Seek Long Distance Customers — Yes, Really

Not that you should only seek customers who live far away, but VR will make it easier to craft content to a more widely located buyer pool.

Just think about how VR will transform the home buying process. If you’re a realtor, you’ll be able to take potential buyers through a completely virtual tour of your property. People from around the world can see a home inside and out like they’re visiting in person.

Forbes writes about this in their article about VR in real estate, only they add another possibility to the mix. They posit that realtors would be able to allow their clients the ability to make custom changes to the home through the VR app, helping the user experience become more interactive, and giving clients a clearer vision of what it’d be like to live in the property.

Show Consumers What Products Will Look Like

Giving consumers a visual of what furniture and household items will look like is an important way to encourage them to purchase.

Home improvement giant Lowe’s has already added a VR element that mirrors the home customization idea. Called Holoroom, it takes customers through a model home to provide a look at what the space would look like with their products.

IKEA has been adopting a similar concept for years, in the form of an augmented reality product catalog. They also recently launched an augumented reality app called Ikea Place.


Image via: Architectural Digest

For the record, augmented reality is very similar to virtual reality, only the former layers artificial elements on top of a realistic background whereas the latter generates an entirely artificial environment.

Provide an Emotional Journey

Honor Everywhere provides a virtual reality experience to terminally ill military veterans, allowing them to “visit” the war memorials in Washington D.C. Volunteers are bringing VR headsets into assisted-living centers to give to the veterans and let them enjoy the experience.


Image via

Although there’s nothing quite as unique as this cause, you can still find ways to take customers on an emotional journey through your own VR content.

“Emotional” doesn’t have to mean sadness: think in terms of what your audience is most passionate about and produce content that addresses those areas.

For example, if you’re writing a travel blog that doubles as an affiliate site, your goal is to truly sell the one-of-a-kind experience a customer will feel by purchasing your vacation package. Through the immersiveness of virtual reality, you can take effectively transport them to the beaches of Rio de Janiero, or atop the Eye of London in a millisecond of time.

You can even take a page out of the always adventurous MythBusters’ playbook, and give consumers a first person tour of a wrecked ship that rests in shark-infested waters.

There’s nothing like a swim among sharks to rouse people’s’ emotions.

Embrace Your Location

If the goal is to immerse your virtual audience into a new space, then it only makes sense to show them a fun location.

Offer them a virtual tour around your city, show them a famous landmark, take them to a special event. It’s mid-July at the time of this writing, so a San Diego company might want to show their audience around Comic Con — just an example.

Use Outside Content

Perhaps the most underrated — or under talked about — aspect to content marketing is the cultivation of a community of users, many of whom can contribute their own content.

Thanks to tools like Facebook Spaces, Periscope, and now YouTube, your brand can easily integrate user-produced VR videos onto your website.

Reach out to consumers through channels like social media, email marketing campaigns, and calls-to-action on your website.

What to Do as a Content Creator?

Should you overhaul your entire content strategy to make room for virtual reality? For most of us, the answer is no.

But 2017 is the year we should at least start acknowledging its existence, and begin experimenting with it. Content creators should A/B test with and without virtual reality technology, then gauge the user’s response.

Rather than dedicating your entire site to VR, start with individual posts or pages, then begin building as you see fit.

Free Content Marketing Workbook

  Free Content Marketing Workbook

How to Identify Which Experiments to Run

The last time I made an appearance here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, I wasn’t shy about my love of experiments.

At the same time, I wasn’t shy in my sense that, all too often, they’re conducted for the wrong reasons. We talked about how the purpose of online experiments is to answer questions about how people use your website.

But how do you know which questions to ask? And how do you know whether experiments are even a viable option to answer your questions in the first place? Before you jump in, you need to make sure you know these things.Click here to start A/B testing using our guided instructions and tips from professionals.

Not sure where and when you should start? Fear not — we’re here to help. Let’s get to it.

How to Tell If You Can Run Experiments

Before you come up with experiments to run, you need to make sure you can accurately run them. Experiments should be completely off the table until you have an established online presence and means to track behavior. To do that, you’ll need five things.

1) Traffic

In order to trust that the results of an experiment are unlikely to be influenced by randomness, you need to have a high volume of traffic. Some experiments require larger sample sizes than others — even hundreds of thousands, in some cases — but typically, you’ll need a minimum of 100 unique page views per day to reach statistical significance within a reasonable amount of time.

2) Goals

In an experiment, your hypothesis is the statement you’re working to prove. But what is it that you’re trying to improve as a result of this test? Those are your key performance indicators (KPIs) — the quantifiable measures of the experiment’s success. Without those, you have no North Star to guide the purpose of your experiment, or the objectives behind it.

3) Tracking

In order to measure and observe the performance and results of your experiment groups, you’ll need to establish which data you’ll be tracking and monitoring. In the digital realm, that might include factors like:

  • Which pages are people visiting?
  • Where did they come from?
  • What are they doing once they arrive at those pages? Are they converting, bouncing, or taking another action?

4) Baseline Metrics

Even if you’re hoping to make improvements to your funnel, before you start an experiment, you should have an established, recorded funnel conversion rate (CVR). In other words, before you begin, you should be able to track:

Funnel visit -> retained customer

If you try to start an experiment without that information, you’ll have no benchmark to compare where you were prior to running it — and therefore, you won’t know if you’re any better or worse off as a result.

5) You’ve picked all of the low-hanging fruit.

Make sure you’ve fully built out and iterated on all of the basic requirements for your funnel to work or even operate correctly. For example, in the ecommerce sector, you might want to do something like optimize your online product catalogue. But you can’t do so until you’ve made sure every product is listed there, you have a complete online checkout system, and have a way for visitors to contact you for customer service.

We have a phrase for this step: “Don’t start hanging up pictures before you paint the walls.”

How Do I Know If I Have These Five Things?

If you find yourself asking that question, we recommend running an A/A test — an experiment where you go through all the motions of running and tracking an experiment, without actually changing anything. We do this in three steps:

  1. Run the dummy test for five business days.
  2. Take the test down.
  3. Analyze the results.
    • Do you have 500+ unique users enrolled in the experiment?
    • Can you track both experiment groups full funnel?
    • Is funnel CVR about equal for both experiment groups?

So, do you have those five things? Nice job — you’re already ahead of the curve. But experimentation still only makes sense when you can identify questions worth answering through quantitative research.

Identifying experiments

First things first, you need to pick a funnel that you want to optimize through experimentation. Once you have your funnel, identify the unanswered questions you have about how your audience moves between its stages. To identify unanswered questions, we need to take stock of what we already know.

Identifying who moves through your funnel, and why

Do you know exactly who’s entering the funnel and from where, with quantitative and qualitative data to back it up? How about why they’re entering the funnel, with the same supporting data? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, this is where you should start.

Next, if you look at your funnel, can you figure out why people aren’t converting between steps?

Source: Apolline Adiju

Identifying knowledge gaps for how people move through your funnel

Let’s look at the following conversion:

Basic visit > purchase

Our goal is to identify why people do not convert between steps in our funnel. To find out, we need to list reasons why we think people are not converting, and seek out data to back up our claims. We will know that we have listed the right reasons when we can account for more than 100% of unconverted users, with supporting data.

  • Are people not purchasing because:
    • They have unanswered questions about the product? (Let’s say this reason accounts for 5% of non-purchasing users.)
    • They aren’t ready to make a purchase yet? 10% of non-purchasing users
    • They don’t see how the product fits into their lives? 40% of non-purchasing users
    • The product doesn’t align with what they are looking for? 5of non-purchasing users
    • There are better-priced alternatives? 10% of non-purchasing users
    • There are alternatives with more or better features? 10% of non-purchasing users
    • They lack confidence in the product or the company that sells it? 30% of non-purchasing users

Note: These percentages total >100% — each given user often has multiple reasons for deciding not to purchase.

If you find that you’re struggling to put together a list of reasons as to why people don’t convert, you’ll need to gather qualitative feedback from your customers.

Once you’ve put together a thorough list, take a step back and look for areas of opportunity. For example, on the list above, hone in on, “They don’t see how the product fits into their lives,” and ask, “Why?” Assuming we have product market fit, there must be something we don’t understand here. Otherwise, how can 40% of non-purchasing users be unable to see themselves using the product? It could become a fundamental question that we aim to answer through quantitative experimentation.

To boil it down: Experiments answer questions. To identify experiments, you need to identify gaps in your knowledge, and to do that, list what you do know — that will help you more easily identify what you don’t.

Next Steps

We hope that this post has provided you with the tools to identify when you should run experiments. In my next post, we’ll get into ways you can discover the unanswered questions about your funnel, and prioritize those questions to maximize your investment in a given experiment. Plus, we’ll provide a helpful framework for doing so.

How do you identify which experiments to run? Let us know your approach — and hey, we might even feature your experiment on our blog.

Free Guide AB Testing

  Free Guide AB Testing

Staff awareness is vital to GDPR compliance

A recent study by Alfresco and AIIM revealed that 21% of senior executives in the UK have little or no awareness about the effect the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have on their organisation.

Thirty-one percent of the organisations questioned had experienced data loss or exposure in the past 12 months due to what they felt was staff negligence or bad practice.

Staff need to be aware of GDPR requirements

With organisations facing significant fines for non-compliance (up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million – whichever is greater), it is essential that all staff have an understanding of the requirements of the new Regulation and how it will affect them.

All staff members should be made aware of the key changes introduced by the GDPR and the requirements that will affect their day-to-day work.

Get your staff prepared for the GDPR

With only nine months until the Regulation comes into force, now is the time to educate your staff on GDPR compliance.

IT Governance’s publishing division, ITGP, can produce all of its GDPR books in customised formats. Books can feature your company logo or a bespoke foreword, or can be customised to your company branding guidelines.

So far in 2017, ITGP has printed more than 6,000 customised books to help companies educate their staff on GDPR compliance requirements.

Find out how you can get your staff prepared for the GDPR with customised books >>

GDPR - Branded Publishing

How to Use Excel: 14 Simple Excel Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts

Sometimes, Excel seems too good to be true. All I have to do is enter a formula, and pretty much anything I’d ever need to do manually can be done automatically. Need to merge two sheets with similar data? Excel can do it. Need to do simple math? Excel can do it. Need to combine information in multiple cells? Excel can do it.

If you encounter a situation where you need to manually update your data, you’re probably missing out on a formula that can do it for you. Before spending hours and hours counting cells or copying and pasting data, look for a quick fix on Excel — you’ll likely find one.Click here to download our collection of free Excel templates that will make your life easier.

In the spirit of working more efficiently and avoiding tedious, manual work, here are a few Excel tricks to get you started with how to use Excel. (And to all the Harry Potter fans out there … you’re welcome in advance.)

How to Use Excel

If you’re just starting out with Excel, there are a few basic commands that we suggest you become familiar with. These are things like:

  • Creating a new spreadsheet from scratch.
  • Executing basic computations in a spreadsheet, like adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing in a spreadsheet.
  • Writing and formatting column text and titles.
  • Excel’s auto-fill features.
  • Adding or deleting single columns, rows, and spreadsheets. Below, we’ll get into how to add things like multiple columns and rows.
  • Keeping column and row titles visible as you scroll past them in a spreadsheet, so that you know what data you’re filling as you move further down the document.

For a deep dive on these basics, check out our comprehensive guide on How to Use Excel.

Okay, ready to get into the nitty-gritty? Let’s get to it.

14 Excel Tips to Try

1) Pivot Tables

Pivot Tables are used to reorganize data in a spreadsheet. They won’t change the data that you have, but they can sum up values and compare different information in your spreadsheet, depending on what you’d like them to do.

Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say I want to take a look at how many people are in each house at Hogwarts. You may be thinking that I don’t have too much data, but for longer data sets, this will come in handy.

To create the Pivot Table, I go to Data > Pivot Table. Excel will automatically populate your Pivot Table, but you can always change around the order of the data. Then, you have four options to choose from.

  1. Report Filter: This allows you to only look at certain rows in your dataset. For example, if I wanted to create a filter by house, I could choose to only include students in Gryffindor instead of all students.
  2. Column Labels: These could be your headers in the dataset.
  3. Row Labels: These could be your rows in the dataset. Both Row and Column labels can contain data from your columns (e.g. First Name can be dragged to either the Row or Column label — it just depends on how you want to see the data.)
  4. Value: This section allows you to look at your data differently. Instead of just pulling in any numeric value, you can sum, count, average, max, min, count numbers, or do a few other manipulations with your data. In fact, by default, when you drag a field to Value, it always does a count.

Since I want to count the number of students in each house, I’ll go to the Pivot Table and drag the House column to both the Row Labels and the Values. This will sum up the number of students associated with each house.

Pivot Table

2) Add More Than One New Row or Column

As you play around with your data, you might find you’re constantly needing to add more rows and columns. Sometimes, you may even need to add hundreds of rows. Doing this one-by-one would be super tedious. Luckily, there’s always an easier way.

To add multiple rows or columns in a spreadsheet, highlight the same number of preexisting rows or columns that you want to add. Then, right-click and select “Insert.”

In the example below, I want to add an additional three rows. By highlighting three rows and then clicking insert, I’m able to add an additional three blank rows into my spreadsheet quickly and easily.

insert Spaces

3) Filters

When you’re looking at very large data sets, you don’t usually need to be looking at every single row at the same time. Sometimes, you only want to look at data that fit into certain criteria. That’s where filters come in.

Filters allow you to pare down your data to only look at certain rows at one time. In Excel, a filter can be added to each column in your data — and from there, you can then choose which cells you want to view at once.

Let’s take a look at the example below. Add a filter by clicking the Data tab and selecting “Filter.” Clicking the arrow next to the column headers and you’ll be able to choose whether you want your data to be organized in ascending or descending order, as well as which specific rows you want to show.

In my Harry Potter example, let’s say I only want to see the students in Gryffindor. By selecting the Gryffindor filter, the other rows disappear.


Pro Tip: Copy and paste the values in the spreadsheet when a Filter is on to do additional analysis in another spreadsheet.

4) Remove Duplicates

Larger data sets tend to have duplicate content. You may have a list of multiple contacts in a company and only want to see the number of companies you have. In situations like this, removing the duplicates comes in quite handy.

To remove your duplicates, highlight the row or column that you want to remove duplicates of. Then, go to the Data tab, and select “Remove Duplicates” (under Tools). A pop-up will appear to confirm which data you want to work with. Select “Remove Duplicates,” and you’re good to go.

Remove Duplicates

You can also use this feature to remove an entire row based on a duplicate column value. So if you have three rows with Harry Potter’s information and you only need to see one, then you can select the whole dataset and then remove duplicates based on email. Your resulting list will have only unique names without any duplicates.

5) Transpose

When you have low rows of data in your spreadsheet, you might decide you actually want to transform the items in one of those rows into columns (or vice versa). It would take a lot of time to copy and paste each individual header — but what the transpose feature allows you to do is simply move your row data into columns, or the other way around.

Start by highlighting the column that you want to transpose into rows. Right-click it, and then select “Copy.” Next, select the cells on your spreadsheet where you want your first row or column to begin. Right-click on the cell, and then select “Paste Special.” A module will appear — at the bottom, you’ll see an option to transpose. Check that box and select OK. Your column will now be transferred to a row or vice-versa.


6) Text to Columns

What if you want to split out information that’s in one cell into two different cells? For example, maybe you want to pull out someone’s company name through their email address. Or perhaps you want to separate someone’s full name into a first and last name for your email marketing templates.

Thanks to Excel, both are possible. First, highlight the column that you want to split up. Next, go to the Data tab and select “Text to Columns.” A module will appear with additional information.

First, you need to select either “Delimited” or “Fixed Width.”

  • “Delimited” means you want to break up the column based on characters such as commas, spaces, or tabs.
  • “Fixed Width” means you want to select the exact location on all the columns that you want the split to occur.

In the example case below, let’s select “Delimited” so we can separate the full name into first name and last name.

Then, it’s time to choose the Delimiters. This could be a tab, semi-colon, comma, space, or something else. (“Something else” could be the “@” sign used in an email address, for example.) In our example, let’s choose the space. Excel will then show you a preview of what your new columns will look like.

When you’re happy with the preview, press “Next.” This page will allow you to select Advanced Formats if you choose to. When you’re done, click “Finish.”

Text to Column

Excel Formulas

7) Simple Calculations

In addition to doing pretty complex calculations, Excel can help you do simple arithmetic like adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing any of your data.

  • To add, use the + sign.
  • To subtract, use the – sign.
  • To multiply, use the * sign.
  • To divide, use the / sign.

You can also use parenthesis to ensure certain calculations are done first. In the example below (10+10*10), the second and third 10 were multiplied together before adding the additional 10. However, if we made it (10+10)*10, the first and second 10 would be added together first.

Simple Math

Bonus: If you want the average of a set of numbers, you can use the formula =AVERAGE(Cell Range). If you want to sum up a column of numbers, you can use the formula =SUM(Cell Range).

8) Conditional Formatting Formula

Conditional formatting allows you to change a cell’s color based on the information within the cell. For example, if you want to flag certain numbers that are above average or in the top 10% of the data in your spreadsheet, you can do that. If you want to color code commonalities between different rows in Excel, you can do that. This will help you quickly see information the is important to you.

To get started, highlight the group of cells you want to use conditional formatting on. Then, choose “Conditional Formatting” from the Home menu and select your logic from the dropdown. (You can also create your own rule if you want something different.) A window will pop up that prompts you to provide more information about your formatting rule. Select “OK” when you’re done, and you should see your results automatically appear.

Conditional Formatting

9) IF Statement

Sometimes, we don’t want to count the number of times a value appears. Instead, we want to input different information into a cell if there is a corresponding cell with that information.

For example, in the situation below, I want to award ten points to everyone who belongs in the Gryffindor house. Instead of manually typing in 10’s next to each Gryffindor student’s name, I can use the IF THEN Excel formula to say that if the student is in Gryffindor, then they should get ten points.

The formula: IF(logical_test, value_if_true, value of false)

Example Shown Below: =IF(D2=”Gryffindor”,”10″,”0″)

In general terms, the formula would be IF(Logical Test, value of true, value of false). Let’s dig into each of these variables.

  • Logical_Test: The logical test is the “IF” part of the statement. In this case, the logic is D2=”Gryffindor” because we want to make sure that the cell corresponding with the student says “Gryffindor.” Make sure to put Gryffindor in quotation marks here.
  • Value_if_True: This is what we want the cell to show if the value is true. In this case, we want the cell to show “10” to indicate that the student was awarded the 10 points. Only use quotation marks if you want the result to be text instead of a number.
  • Value_if_False: This is what we want the cell to show if the value is false. In this case, for any student not in Gryffindor, we want the cell to show “0” to show 0 points. Only use quotation marks if you want the result to be text instead of a number.


Note: In the example above, I awarded 10 points to everyone in Gryffindor. If I later wanted to sum the total number of points, I wouldn’t be able to because the 10’s are in quotes, thus making them text and not a number that Excel can sum.

10) Dollar Signs

Have you ever seen a dollar sign in an Excel formula? When used in a formula, it isn’t representing an American dollar; instead, it makes sure that the exact column and row are held the same even if you copy the same formula in adjacent rows.

You see, a cell reference — when you refer to cell A5 from cell C5, for example — is relative by default. In that case, you’re actually referring to a cell that’s five columns to the left (C minus A) and in the same row (5). This is called a relative formula. When you copy a relative formula from one cell to another, it’ll adjust the values in the formula based on where it’s moved. But sometimes, we want those values to stay the same no matter whether they’re moved around or not — and we can do that by making the formula in the cell into what’s called an absolute formula.

To change the relative formula (=A5+C5) into an absolute formula, we’d precede the row and column values by dollar signs, like this: (=$A$5+$C$5). (Learn more on Microsoft Office’s support page here.)

Excel Functions

11) VLOOKUP Function

Have you ever had two sets of data on two different spreadsheets that you want to combine into a single spreadsheet?

For example, you might have a list of people’s names next to their email addresses in one spreadsheet, and a list of those same people’s email addresses next to their company names in the other — but you want the names, email addresses, and company names of those people to appear in one place.

I have to combine data sets like this a lot — and when I do, the VLOOKUP is my go-to formula. Before you use the formula, though, be absolutely sure that you have at least one column that appears identically in both places. Scour your data sets to make sure the column of data you’re using to combine your information is exactly the same, including no extra spaces.

The formula: =VLOOKUP(lookup value, table array, column number, [range lookup])

The formula with variables from our example below: =VLOOKUP(C2,Sheet2!A:B,2,FALSE)

In this formula, there are several variables. The following is true when you want to combine information in Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 onto Sheet 1.

  • Lookup Value: This is the identical value you have in both spreadsheets. Choose the first value in your first spreadsheet. In the example that follows, this means the first email address on the list, or cell 2 (C2).
  • Table Array: The range of columns on Sheet 2 you’re going to pull your data from, including the column of data identical to your lookup value (in our example, email addresses) in Sheet 1 as well as the column of data you’re trying to copy to Sheet 1. In our example, this is “Sheet2!A:B.” “A” means Column A in Sheet 2, which is the column in Sheet 2 where the data identical to our lookup value (email) in Sheet 1 is listed. The “B” means Column B, which contains the information that’s only available in Sheet 2 that you want to translate to Sheet 1.
  • Column Number: If the table array (the range of columns you just indicated) this tells Excel which column the new data you want to copy to Sheet 1 is located in. In our example, this would be the column that “House” is located in. “House” is the second column in our range of columns (table array), so our column number is 2. [Note: Your range can be more than two columns. For example, if there are three columns on Sheet 2 — Email, Age, and House — and you still want to bring House onto Sheet 1, you can still use a VLOOKUP. You just need to change the “2” to a “3” so it pulls back the value in the third column: =VLOOKUP(C2:Sheet2!A:C,3,false).]
  • Range Lookup: Use FALSE to ensure you pull in only exact value matches.

In the example below, Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 contain lists describing different information about the same people, and the common thread between the two is their email addresses. Let’s say we want to combine both datasets so that all the house information from Sheet 2 translates over to Sheet 1.


So when we type in the formula =VLOOKUP(C2,Sheet2!A:B,2,FALSE), we bring all the house data into Sheet 1.

Keep in mind that VLOOKUP will only pull back values from the second sheet that are to the right of the column containing your identical data. This can lead to some limitations, which is why some people prefer to use the INDEX and MATCH functions instead.


Like VLOOKUP, the INDEX and MATCH functions pull in data from another dataset into one central location. Here are the main differences:

  1. VLOOKUP is a much simpler formula. If you’re working with large data sets that would require thousands of lookups, using the INDEX MATCH function will significantly decrease load time in Excel.
  2. INDEX MATCH formulas work right-to-left, whereas VLOOKUP formulas only work as a left-to-right lookup. In other words, if you need to do a lookup that has a lookup column to the right of the results column, then you’d have to rearrange those columns in order to do a VLOOKUP. This can be tedious with large datasets and/or lead to errors.

So if I want to combine information in Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 onto Sheet 1, but the column values in Sheets 1 and 2 aren’t the same, then to do a VLOOKUP, I would need to switch around my columns. In this case, I’d choose to do an INDEX MATCH instead.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say Sheet 1 contains a list of people’s names and their Hogwarts email addresses, and Sheet 2 contains a list of people’s email addresses and the Patronus that each student has. (For the non-Harry Potter fans out there, every witch or wizard has an animal guardian called a “Patronus” associated with him or her.) The information that lives in both sheets is the column containing email addresses, but this email address column is in different column numbers on each sheet. I’d use the INDEX MATCH formula instead of VLOOKUP so I wouldn’t have to switch any columns around.

So what’s the formula, then? The INDEX MATCH formula is actually the MATCH formula nested inside the INDEX formula. You’ll see I differentiated the MATCH formula using a different color here.

The formula: =INDEX(table array, MATCH formula)

This becomes: =INDEX(table array, MATCH (lookup_value, lookup_array))

The formula with variables from our example below: =INDEX(Sheet2!A:A,(MATCH(Sheet1!C:C,Sheet2!C:C,0)))

Here are the variables:

  • Table Array: The range of columns on Sheet 2 containing the new data you want to bring over to Sheet 1. In our example, “A” means Column A, which contains the “Patronus” information for each person.
  • Lookup Value: This is the column in Sheet 1 that contains identical values in both spreadsheets. In the example that follows, this means the “email” column on Sheet 1, which is Column C. So: Sheet1!C:C.
  • Lookup Array: This is the column in Sheet 2 that contains identical values in both spreadsheets. In the example that follows, this refers to the “email” column on Sheet 2, which happens to also be Column C. So: Sheet2!C:C.

Once you have your variables straight, type in the INDEX MATCH formula in the top-most cell of the blank Patronus column on Sheet 1, where you want the combined information to live.


13) COUNTIF Function

Instead of manually counting how often a certain value or number appears, let Excel do the work for you. With the COUNTIF function, Excel can count the number of times a word or number appears in any range of cells.

For example, let’s say I want to count the number of times the word “Gryffindor” appears in my data set.

The formula: =COUNTIF(range, criteria)

The formula with variables from our example below: =COUNTIF(D:D,”Gryffindor”)

In this formula, there are several variables:

  • Range: The range that we want the formula to cover. In this case, since we’re only focusing on one column, we use “D:D” to indicate that the first and last column are both D. If I were looking at columns C and D, I would use “C:D.”
  • Criteria: Whatever number or piece of text you want Excel to count. Only use quotation marks if you want the result to be text instead of a number. In our example, the criteria is “Gryffindor.”

Simply typing in the COUNTIF formula in any cell and pressing “Enter” will show me how many times the word “Gryffindor” appears in the dataset.


14) Combine cells using “&”

Databases tend to split out data to make it as exact as possible. For example, instead of having a data that shows a person’s full name, a database might have the data as a first name and then a last name in separate columns. Or, it may have a person’s location separated by city, state, and zip code. In Excel, you can combine cells with different data into one cell by using the “&” sign in your function.

The formula with variables from our example below: =A2&” “&B2

Let’s go through the formula together using an example. Pretend we want to combine first names and last names into full names in a single column. To do this, we’d first put our cursor in the blank cell where we want the full name to appear. Next, we’d highlight one cell that contains a first name, type in an “&” sign, and then highlight a cell with the corresponding last name.

But you’re not finished — if all you type in is =A2&B2, then there will not be a space between the person’s first name and last name. To add that necessary space, use the function =A2&” “&B2. The quotation marks around the space tell Excel to put a space in between the first and last name.

To make this true for multiple rows, simply drag the corner of that first cell downward as shown in the example.

Combine with And

We hope you found this article helpful! Bookmark it to keep these handy Excel tips in your back pocket.

Other Excel Help Resources:

Free Download Excel Templates

  Free Download Excel Templates

August Social Media News: Facebook Watch, YouTube Messaging & More

We’re about to hit September, and you might be feeling anxiety about you or your family heading back to school, the busy season at your office, or the prospect of a limited number of beach days left in the year.

We feel you — because even though we took a summer break, social media networks sure didn’t.

Social networks are constantly innovating new products and making tweaks that are hard to keep up with, which is why we started writing this monthly social media news roundup.Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

From Facebook to Snapchat, from new product launches to small tweaks, here’s a list of what’s new in social media this month. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.

And if you don’t have time to read this whole post, we made a short video to give you the biggest headlines below:

11 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month


1) Snapchat has partnered with college newspapers on Discover.

The ephemeral messaging app will share original content from U.S. colleges and universities on Snapchat Discover — in specific editions for each college’s location.

Business Insider noted that this is the first time parent company Snap Inc. has partnered with smaller publishers to create original Snapchat Discover content — where previously, it’s worked with outlets like Vox, BuzzFeed, and The New York Times.

What is typical is Snapchat’s push to engage younger users — between the ages of 18-24, the demographic segment where Snapchat is most popular. More than half of eMarketer survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 said they use the app all the time.


Source: eMarketer/Recode

It’ll be interesting to see how this content performs — for Snapchat, and for the partner colleges creating the content. Young users are the app’s path to growth — or at least, its path to preventing decline — more on that next.

2) Snapchat has more users, but less value.

Parent company Snap Inc. hosted its 2017 Q2 earnings call, and the results weren’t exactly 🔥.

Snapchat grew by seven million users in the last quarter, but that was still a miss — while it hit 173 million users by the end of Q2, investors anticipated it hitting 175.2 million instead. Its share price declined by roughly 6% as the company also reported its average revenue per user was $0.02 lower than predicted.

Snap Inc. has had a rocky journey since its IPO earlier this year. It will be interesting to see what they innovate next to compete with Facebook and Instagram in the battle for the most popular camera and sharing app.


3) Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will start penalizing sites that aren’t optimized for mobile.

Facebook announced a few new tweaks to its News Feed algorithm — most notably, perhaps, was the announcement that links to sites that aren’t optimized for mobile viewing.

Facebook will now start taking link loading speed into account when deciding how to rank posts in the News Feed, to improve user experience for more than half of users who access the site via mobile devices.

If your site isn’t already optimized for mobile users, this ebook can help you get started.

4) Facebook has started autoplaying News Feed videos — with the sound on.

I received this notification when I opened up my Facebook app just last week:

video with sound facebook-1.png

Facebook has been gradually rolling out volume-on video autoplay for several months, but this announcement marks a big change to what’s largely been a silent world, with more than 85% of Facebook users preferring to watch videos without sound.

5) Facebook launched new camera features, including GIF recording and 360-photo capturing.

Facebook made a few big upgrades to its in-app camera this month. Swipe right on your News Feed on the mobile app to start broadcasting live, or to create a GIF and immediately share content on your Facebook Story or in a new post.

facebook licacap2-3.gif

6) Facebook launched the Watch tab for original video content.

Facebook’s going all in on video content this month — most notably, with its launch of the Watch tab, where creators and networks are developing original content specifically for the social network.


Source: Facebook

Tap the video icon to see what creators like MLB, A&E, and Refinery29 are creating for Facebook, in yet another move to keep more people coming to its site to get what they need — namely, entertainment.


7) Instagram launched Instagram Live — with two users.

Instagram will now let you go live with a friend — featuring a split broadcast screen like the one shown below.


Source: Instagram

Now that you can save live broadcasts and share them to your Instagram Story for later viewing, users might be more interested in trying out a broadcast to engage and activate a bigger audience the way Facebook Live has succeeded. (We’ll be trying it out on our Instagram soon — make sure you’re following us.)

8) Instagram (and Facebook) launched comment threading.

Instagram and Facebook rolled out a small UX change that will make engagement and interactivity a bit easier for users — by launching threaded comments.

instagram comment threads.png

Source: Instagram

Any user knows the pain of trying to track down a friend’s comment when they’ve been tagged in a popular post on Facebook or Instagram, and this change solves that problem — and might make users more keen to tag friends in comments (which signal engagement in both apps’ news feeds).

9) Instagram users can now edit Story and Direct Message replies.

Last month, Instagram announced the ability to reply to Stories and Direct Messages with photos and videos.

And this month, users can reply with melded photos and videos that manipulate the original image — like in the example below.


Source: TechCrunch

The next time you see a photo or video you want to reply to, tap the thumbnail in the upper right-hand corner to edit it with drawings or emojis, and add your own half-selfie to it.


10) Users can now pinch to zoom in on photos.

Pinterest added a few new ways to search for images, as well as a subtle UX change that now allows users to pinch and zoom in and out on photos of pins.

pinterest zoom-2.gif

Source: Pinterest

This might seem like it’s not worth even writing up, but this change is a nod to other visual-first social networks, like Instagram and Facebook. As Pinterest becomes a more shoppable social network, with the ability for users to tap and buy specific products within pins, it will be interesting to see how the competition heats up.


11) YouTube added in-app messaging and vertical video capabilities.

At the very end of this month, YouTube unveiled a whole new visual identity — including a new logo for the first time.

Two of the big changes that marketers will want to make note of? The new in-app messaging feature, and the responsive video display that now shows vertical and square videos.

The new in-app messaging lets users share videos with friends without having to leave the app, which is the new name of the game for social networks — getting people to do what they want, without having to leave the platform. Plus, this feature is also a step toward YouTube competing with Facebook for a bigger piece of the video-watching pie.


Source: YouTube

And in another change, YouTube now supports vertical and square video formats, in addition to horizontal video. Remind you of anything — like, perhaps, every other social network?

Vertical videos were made popular by Snapchat, and are all over Instagram and Facebook now. The same goes for square videos. Why? Because these formats take up a greater share of the mobile user’s screen — keeping them more engaged in the app while they spend time streaming. Marketers should consider making YouTube part of their video distribution strategies besides just social media.

Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

  How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel E

Onliner Spambot breaches 711 million email addresses and passwords

A spambot going by the auspicious name of Onliner Spambot has launched a successful cyber attack that has compromised 711 million email addresses and passwords.

This was discovered when security researcher Benkow came across a web server that hosts text files containing email addresses, passwords and email server information that spammers use to send spam, according to Zdnet.

The spammers use these credentials to send out malware spam, which are able to bypass spam filters because they use legitimate email servers.

The campaign is successful because the spambot tests each entry by connecting to the server to ensure that the credentials are valid and that spam can be sent. The accounts that don’t work are ignored.

Those credentials allow the spammer to send what appears to be a legitimate email.

Benkow explains that Onliner Spambot used the SMTP credentials to send its Ursnif malware-laced spam.

The Ursnif banking trojan has been infecting users since 2016 to steal banking information from target computers including credit card data.

The list used by Onliner Spambot has about 80 million accounts, according to Benkow. Each line in the files contains the email address, password, SMTP server and port used to send the email.

Spambots send a ‘dropper’ file that looks like a normal email attachment and downloads malware when opened. The emails sent by Onliner Spambot, contain a hidden pixel-sized image that gets past spam filters because the credentials are legitimate. When the email is opened, the pixel image is loaded and sends back the IP address and user-agent information that identifies the type of computer, operating system and other device information. This helps the attacker know who to target with the Ursnif malware.

This trick is called ‘fingerprinting’, and also enables the spammer to establish whether the email campaign has been successful.

You can check if your email address is on the list by going to – a website that stores details of email addresses that have been leaked. If your name is on the list, change your password now and keep an eye on any suspicious activity on your bank account.

Concerned that the lack of security awareness among your staff may cause a data breach?

Don’t let your staff be your single point of failure.

Find out how to implement an information security management system that considers staff awareness an intrinsic element of effective information security and helps you tackle data security across technology, people and processes >>>

What Makes Good Copywriting? 6 Characteristics of Top-Notch Copy

Mad Men fans everywhere remember the pivotal first scene where we learn just how talented Don Draper is at his job.

Faced with an almost-impossible copywriting task, he rose to the occasion to solve a huge problem for his client, Lucky Strike. In spite of research warning customers of the dangers of cigarettes, Draper delivered the iconic slogan — “It’s toasted” — to differentiate the brand from its competitors.

Now, we definitely aren’t advocating for smoking cigarettes (or many of Draper’s health choices). But fictional or not, you can’t deny the memorability and catchiness of that tagline.Click here to sharpen your copywriting skills with the help of our content marketing workbook.

It’s easy to recognize good copywriting when you see it, but there are actually several characteristics that really separate outstanding writing from the rest of the pack. Want to know them? Read on below to find out.

6 Good Copywriting Examples From Real Brands

1) It tilts your perspective.

Sometimes, all a message needs to break through is a slight shift in angle. We’ve grown so accustomed to blocking out marketing messages, we don’t even see them anymore. One of the most powerful things a copywriter can do is break down a reader’s guard with an unexpected approach. Every story has a myriad of angles — your job as a copywriter is to find the one that resonates.

Source: Silence Sucks

The above ad from Sage Therapeutics pressing the importance of talking about postpartum depression works because instead of asking readers to care about something they don’t know, it puts them in the position of experiencing the struggle that mothers suffering do. Did they miss some readers who quickly passed by the ad thinking it was for adult pacifiers? Most definitely. But the ad resonated that much more thoroughly with those who read it.

The next time you sit down to write, try out this approach. Don’t take the topic head on. Instead, ask yourself why it matters. Each time you write down an answer, challenge yourself to push it further. Find the larger story happening behind your message.

2) It finds connections.

In 1996, Steve Jobs let the cat out of the bag. He was speaking with a journalist from Wired on the topic of creativity and explained:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile.”

Let’s say you have to write an ad for a new pair of sneakers. You could take the assignment head on. You could write about the elasticity of the shoe’s sole or the lightweight design. Indeed, many have. Or you could put all of that aside and instead draw the connection between the product and the experience it evokes.


Source: Pinterest

Two things are happening in this ad. First, the copy recognizes that for many, running isn’t about running at all — it’s about solitude, peace, and restoring sanity to an otherwise hectic life. Second, not only does Nike connect the ad to the experience of running, it actually connects to the sound that those shoes make as they hit the pavement.

This ad is about the complexity of one’s life fading away and being replaced by simplicity and clarity. As the copy progresses, the sentences simplify and the copy’s complexity is slowly replaced by the simple and rhythmic pounding of words: run, run, run, run. The same rhythm one hears when all but their footsteps have faded away. That’s connection.

3) It has a stunning lead.

The following are all headlines or leading sentences from Urban Daddy, an email-based magazine drawing attention to new products, experiences, and eateries.

  • “Six days. That’s how long you have until 65% of your body is turkey.”
  • “There are 8,760 hours in a year. And just one hour in which a stand will be dispensing gratis latkes with homemade applesauce and sour cream in Harvard Square. Yeah, it’s not fair. But 60 minutes is 60 minutes.”
  • “Ewoks. Talk about living.”

What’s common among each of these leads? They make us want to read the next line. I mean, seriously, how much do you want to know where that Ewok thing is headed?

There’s an adage in copywriting that’s loosely credited to copywriter and business owner Joe Sugarman, which roughly states that the purpose of the headline is to get you to read the first line. The purpose of the first line is to get you to read the second line, and so on. In short, if your first line doesn’t enthrall your readers, all is lost.

4) It is born out of listening.

Seeing its plans to launch yet another gym in the greater Boston region, an outsider might have called the Harrington family a wee bit crazy. The market was already flush with gyms, including a new breed of luxury ones that seemed to be in an arms war for the flashiest perks. Gyms across the region were offering massage services, smoothie bars, and fleets of personal trainers. And GymIt wouldn’t have any of that.

What did GymIt have? An understanding of its core audience. Before launching its new gym, the brand did a ton of listening to its primary market of gym-goers. For many in GymIt’s target market, the added benefits associated with luxury gyms were nice to have, but came with a lot of baggage — namely expensive rates and overly complex contracts.

GymIt decided to simplify the gym-going experience for people who predominately cared about getting in and working out. The copy in its launch campaign and across its marketing materials reflects that understanding.


In an older blog post, Copyblogger‘s Robert Bruce put this nicely. “Humble yourself and truly serve your audience, listen to their needs and desires, listen to the language they use,” he said. “If you listen carefully, your audience can eventually give you everything you need, including much of your copy. Get out of their way.”

5) It avoids jargon and hyperbole.

Groundbreaking. Revolutionary. Business Solutions. Targetable Scale. Ideation. Evidence-based approaches. Industry wide best practices.

Have I lost you yet?

When writers struggle to convey what is truly special about their company, product, or service, they sometimes fall back on jargon or hyperbole to underscore their point. The truth is, good copywriting doesn’t need dressing up. Good copywriting should speak to the reader in human terms.

This isn’t to say you should never celebrate awards or achievements. Just be direct in the way you explain that achievement. This homepage from Basecamp does a nice job of highlighting its popularity in concrete terms.


6) It cuts out excess.

Good writing gets to the point — and that means cutting out excessive phrases, and rewording your sentences to be more direct. In an ad celebrating its “academic” readership, The Economist playfully demonstrates this below.


How do you rid excess words from your writing? It’s half practice, half knowing where to cut. This article from Daily Writing Tips is one of the most effective summaries I’ve found on precise writing. Included in its tips:

  • Reduce verb phrases: For instance, turn “The results are suggestive of the fact that” to “The results suggest.”
  • Reduce wordy phrases to single words: You can change “in order to” into “to.” Another example: Turn “Due to the fact that” into “because.”
  • Avoid vague nouns: Phrases formed around general nouns like “in the area of” or “on the topic of” clutter sentences.
  • Read the full list of brevity tips here.

In general, if you can afford to cut without losing the meaning of a sentence, do so. Push yourself to strip down your word count. Turn 50-word homepage copy into 25, then push yourself again to make that 25-word sentence into 15 words. It’s not about brevity so much as it is about making sure every word counts in your writing.

Since my last point was about getting to the point, I’ll keep this brief: Words matter. Every time you sit down to write an ad, web page, video script, or other content for your company, you have the opportunity to break through to people. Find those opportunities in your marketing and make sure that you’ve made the most of them.

Free Content Marketing Workbook

  Free Content Marketing Workbook

How to Add an Email Subscription Form to Facebook

How to Add an Email Subscription Form to Facebook

Having a website and social media accounts are both necessary to get your business noticed. To stay in touch with potential clients email blasts and newsletters are your best avenue of communication. You have a sign-up form on your website, but where else can you add your subscription form to stay in touch and generate leads via email? Social Media!

Making it easy for Facebook visitors to sign up for your website email list. People like easy.

Giving people an easy way to subscribe to your email list on Facebook, dramality increases the likelihood they will subscribe. I’m going to walk you through the steps of where and how to add subscription forms to each of those accounts.

Tip: If you open a window with your social media account and keep this window open, you can view them side-by-side. It will be easy to follow along and accomplish this task.

Continue reading "How to Add an Email Subscription Form to Facebook" at Maximize Social Business by clicking here.

16 Email Subject Lines You’ll Probably Want to Click

I’d venture to guess you get tons of emails in your inbox every day.

From coupons, to daily deal sites, to newsletters, to password resets, to your mother wanting to know when you plan to visit — it’s a lot to sift through, never mind actually open.

So what makes you want to take that extra step to actually open an email? Often, it’s the subject line. After all, it’s your very first impression of the email — and from it, you’ll do your best to judge the content on the inside.Click here to download our free ebook featuring 104 email marketing myths, experiments, and inspiration.

If you’re an email marketer, or just someone who happens to send emails on behalf of your company, you don’t want to be one of those ignored (or — gasp — deleted) emails in your subscribers’ inboxes. You’ve got to make sure your email subject lines are top-notch — and what better way to learn how to do that than by examining some great examples of subject lines? Let’s take a look at what makes a great subject line, followed by a few examples that, old or new, we’re crazy about.

What Makes the Best Email Subject Lines?

Before we dive into these fabulous examples, let’s look at what common elements you might find in a subject line. There were eight different components we found again and again in our top performing email subject lines:

1) Urgency

There’s a phrase that, for many of us, is reminiscent of classic infomercials: “Act now!” And while we wouldn’t encourage using that exact language in your content, we do agree that communicating urgency and scarcity in an email subject line can help compel readers to click (or act) — when phrased creatively and strategically. But because you don’t want to be known as “the brand that cried wolf,” use these subject lines sparingly, and try to limit them to when the occasion genuinely calls for immediate action.

2) Curiosity

Sometimes, subject lines work because of their ability to send the message, “You will benefit from opening this email.” But other times, it’s good to maintain some sense of mystery — especially if it pique’s the recipient’s natural curiosity and interest. Because they require opening the email to get more information, they can result in, well, a higher open rate. But make sure the subject line, while enigmatic, still aligns with your brand. Too obscure, and it could end up being seen as spam.

3) Offers

Here’s where that benefit of opening a given email comes in. At the end of the day, people love new things and experiences — especially when they come free, or at least discounted. Open with that by including it in your subject line. Personally, I’m much more inclined to open my daily newsletters when there’s an offer of or allusion “free stuff” directly mentioned in my inbox.

4) Personalization

No two email subscribers are exactly the same — and, sometimes, that means the emails you send them shouldn’t be, either. At this point in time, marketers have never had more ways to learn about their subscribers’ preferences, jobs, or general (dis)likes. So when you send them content, on occasion, make it catered toward the individual.

5) Relevance and Timeliness

When we subscribe to an email list, much of the time, it’s because we want to be kept informed, or at least learn more about a given topic (more on that later). Similar to piquing your audience’s curiosity, crafting email subject lines that incorporate trending topics or timely headlines can help you establish your brand as an authority within your industry — and can compel people to click to read.

6) Name Recognition

Let’s face it: We all have famous people who, at some point, we presently or previously have admired. And when you understand your audience’s preferences and interests, you can pique their interest by including the names of this admired, recognizable individuals by including them in your content — and mentioning them in your email subject lines. But take heed: This tactic really only works when it aligns with your brand, product, or service, so keep it relevant, rather than just throwing out a recognizable name for the sake of recognition.

7) Cool Stories

At risk of sounding like a broken record, here’s another place where curiosity comes into play. By front-loading your email subject line with a compelling allusion to a story that the message tells — but can only be read if opened or clicked — your audience is like to become intrigued, and want to learn more. Again, make sure the story is relevant to your brand. Otherwise, it might just confuse your readers and prevent them from opening the email.

16 Email Subject Lines to Inspire Your Own

1) Warby Parker: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”

Not too long ago, a HubSpot alum received this email two weeks before he needed to renew his prescription — talk about great timing. And when you’re eye prescription is expiring, it happens to be an excellent time to upgrade your glasses. By sending an email at the right time, Warby Parker increased its chances of this email getting opened.

But timing isn’t the sole reason we included this example. This subject is brilliant because it appeared at the right time and with the right tone. Using conversational words like “uh-oh,” keeping the subject line sentence case, and leaving out the period at the end, the subject line comes across as helpful and friendly — not as a company trying to upsell you.

2) Groupon: “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”

It’s hard to be funny in your marketing, but Groupon’s one of those brands that seems to nail it again and again. After all, who can for get this classic unsubscribe video?

This subject line is no exception. The quip, “(Unlike Our Nephew Steve),” actually had us laughing out loud. Why? It’s completely unexpected. The first part of the subject line looks like a typical subject line you’d get from Groupon, highlighting a new deal. The parenthetical content? Not so much — making this one a delightful gem to find in your inbox.

3) Clover: “👗 Free (Cool!) Clothes Alert 👖”

First of all, we have a not-so-secret love for emojis in email subject lines. Personally, I’m partial to turquoise — so when I see an email implying that I might somehow be able to obtain a free turquoise dress, chances are, I’m clicking.

That’s part of what makes this subject line work. It draws the recipients eye by using visual content (emojis), and it hints at an offer of something free. That hints at an incentive to open the email: There’s a something to gain inside.

4) King Arthur Flour: “The timer’s going off on your cart!”

Similar to Warby Parker, this subject line makes use of urgency. If I don’t take action on my King Arthur Flour shopping cart — like actually buying them — it will be cleared, and I’ll have to start all over again.

Okay, so maybe this is a low-risk scenario. But when it comes to my baking goods, personally, I don’t like to take any chances, or risk forgetting what I was going to buy. That’s where the personalization aspect of this subject line comes in: King Arthur Flour — especially its online shop — tends to attract both professional and home bakers who take all things culinary a bit more seriously than, say, someone who only buys flour on occasion from the supermarket. And wouldn’t you know? Those are the same bakers who probably don’t want to spend time building their shopping carts from scratch.

The moral of the story: Know your audience when you’re writing email subject lines. Is there something that they take seriously more than others? If so, incorporate that into your copy.

5) Manicube: “*Don’t Open This Email*”

Ever been told to not do something? Being asked to refrain from something can actually have the opposite effect — you now want to do that thing even more.

That’s the strategy behind Manicube’s subject line. It’s a simple but effective way to make people curious enough to open your email. (Just be sure that the contents of your email actually have something worthy of that subject line.)

6) Refinery29: “I got Botox—& THIS is what it looked like”

Okay, so maybe your business doesn’t involve Botox. But still — are you intrigued? I am, and despite my better judgment, I clicked.

That’s the power of leading your emails with a story: It sparks curiosity, which works in two ways. There are times when our natural curiosity can pique our interest without context, such as in the example above. But in this case, the subject line implies that there’s an intriguing story ahead. Why the heck did this person get Botox? And what did it look like? As the saying goes, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

Think of the stories behind your industry, and then, find ways to include them in email newsletters and frame them within the subject line in a way that piques your recipients’ collective curiosity.

7) Zillow: “What Can You Afford?”

Imagine getting this subject line in your inbox from a website showing apartments for rent. It’s both exciting and encouraging (“Here are a bunch of apartments right in your budget. Yay!”), but also kind of competitive — pitting your cash against what the market offers. Would you click it? I certainly would.

Personalizing emails to cater to your audience’s emotions — for which there’s a broad spectrum, when it comes to real estate — is key to getting people to open your emails. You don’t have to be a psychologist to know how to take advantage of them, either. In addition to principles like urgency, crafting an email subject line that implies scarcity is another great way to increase your conversion rates.

8) UncommonGoods: “As You Wish”

When writing emails, you should also think about the recognizable names and reference that make people tick. For example, take this subject line from UncommonGoods forwarded to us from HubSpot’s Content Director, Corey Wainwright, who happens to be a die-hard fan of The Princess Bride. Apparently, “As You Wish” is a pretty big reference to that movie (I know, I know — I need to watch it again), so when she saw this subject line in her inbox, she just HAD to click.

Even though she knew logically that the email was part of a larger-scale send, it almost seemed like it was tailored to be sent personally to her — after all, why else would it include a reference to Princess Bride in the title?

UncommonGoods knows its buyer persona like the back of its metaphorical hand. While it may not send emails to individual subscribers with references to their favorite movies in the title, it does have a general understanding of its subscribers and their interests.

9) TechCrunch: “Google sees smartphone heroics in Oreo. It’s The Daily Crunch.”

If you’re subscribed to a newsletter from a publication like TechCrunch, chances are, you signed up because you’re either interested in or want to learn more about technology. To reflect that, the media outlet crafts its daily email roundups (“The Daily Crunch”) with a subject line that reflects one of the latest, most compelling news items in the industry.

Here’s the thing: Staying on the cutting edge is hard, especially with something that evolves as quickly as technology. So by writing email subject lines that reflect something that’s recent and relevant, TechCrunch is signaling to email recipients that opening the message will help them stay informed and up-to-date on the latest industry news.

Think about the things that your audience struggles to keep up with — then, craft an email roundup and matching subject line that reflects the latest news in that category.

10) Eater Boston: “Where to Drink Beer Right Now”

Okay, you caught me: I’m a beer lover. (One of the many reasons I like working at HubSpot.) But that’s not what hooked me here. The subject line arrived in my inbox just at the time I needed it: at 6:45 on a Wednesday evening. Absolutely. Genius.

Think about it: You’re just over hump day and want to decompress with a few coworkers after work. Right as you’re about to head out, you get a notification on your phone that says, “Where to Drink Beer Right Now.” Perfect timing makes this subject line something you can’t help but click on.

For your own emails, think about how timing will affect how people perceive your emails. Even if you send an email in an off-peak hour, you could get higher engagement on your email — if you have the right subject line.

11) BuzzFeed: “Not Cool, Guys”

Okay, we admit it: We love BuzzFeed. If nothing else, its staff knows how to write great copy — and that sentiment includes an exceptional email marketing team. Many of my colleagues have signed up for BuzzFeed’s daily emails, and pretty much any day of the week, they win for best subject line in their inboxes.

While there are a few of BuzzFeed’s subject lines here and there that aren’t anything to write home about, it’s the combination of subject lines and the preview text that is golden. They’re friendly, conversational, and, above all, snarky.

Here’s the text that followed the subject line above: “Okay, WHO left the passive-aggressive sticky note on my fridge. Honestly, who acts like this?” That conversational tone and snark pull us in over and over again — and it’s the preview text that completes the experience for me.

We’re not all equipped to be snarky writers, but most email platforms have the preview text easily available to edit. How can you use that little extra space to delight your customers (oh, and probably improve your email stats)? Maybe you could use the subject line as a question, and the preview text area as the answer. Or maybe it’s a dialogue: The subject line is one person, and the preview text is another.

You get the idea. By using that space, you have more opportunities to attract new subscribers.

12) Thrillist: “DO NOT Commit These Instagram Atrocities”

No matter how humble people are, most don’t like to do things wrong … so why not play on that natural human tendency in an email subject line, especially if you’re in the business of helping clients (or prospective clients) succeed? Thrillist certainly does in the subject line above, and it makes the language even more vibrant by using DO NOT — a great takeaway for B2B marketers.

Instead of using the typical contraction “don’t,” Thrillist spells it out and adds the all-caps for effect. That way, you’ll notice the subject line in your inbox, and then not, finder it harder to resist clicking on it.

Think about how going negative in your marketing might be a good thing. For example, many of us have anxiety about looking silly and stupid, so figure out how you can play to those emotions in subject lines. Of course, it’s important to back up that subject line with encouraging, helpful content, so that you’re not just ranting at people all day.

Getting negative can get your subscribers’ attention — this subject line certainly caught mine.

13) Buffer: “Buffer has been hacked – here is what’s going on”

Next is a subject line from Buffer. Back in 2013, Buffer got hacked — every tech company’s worst nightmare. But Buffer handled it exceptionally well, especially on the email front.

What I admire about the subject line is that it’s concise and direct. In a crisis, it’s better to steer clear of puns. People want to see that you’re not only taking the situation seriously, but also be reassured that the world isn’t ending.

Because of the way the subject line is worded and formatted, you feel like Buffer is calm and collected about the issue, and is taking your personal safety into consideration. That’s pretty hard to do in just a few words.

14) Copy Hackers: “Everything you wanted to know about email copy but were too afraid to ask”

Here’s another great example of leveraging your audience’s full plate to your email marketing advantage. Who hasn’t refrained from asking a question out of fear of looking silly or out of the loop? Excuse me, while I sheepishly raise my hand.

” … but were too afraid to ask” is one of those phrases that, to us, probably won’t go out of style for a long time. People seek insights from Copy Hackers — an organization dedicated to helping marketers and other professionals write better copy, as the name suggests — because, well, they have questions. They want to improve. And when that audience is too afraid to ask those questions, here’s Copy Hackers, ready to come to the rescue with answers.

What does your audience want to know, but might be too embarrassed to ask? Use that information to craft your content — including your email subject lines.

15) Wag!: “🐶 Want a Custom Emoji of Tullamore & 6 Months FREE Walks? Book a Walk Today for Your Chance to Win!”

First of all: For reference, Tullamore is my dog.

Second: Another emoji for the win — especially when it’s a cute dog.

Here’s a great example of how personalization goes beyond the email recipient’s name. Wag!, an on-demand dog-walking app, includes the names of its customers’ pets in a portion of its email subject lines. But this type of personalization is more than just a first-name basis. If there’s anything I love more than free stuff and baking goods, it’s my pup. Wag! knows that, and by mentioning Tullamore by name in the subject line — in tandem with an offer, no less — it catches my attention and piques my interest.

16) Quirky: “Abra-cord-abra! Yeah, we said it.”

Last, but certainly not least, is this punny email subject line from Quirky. Yes — we’re suckers for puns, in the right situation.

What we like most about it is the second part: “Yeah, we said it.” The pun in the beginning is great and all — it refers to a new invention featured on Quirky’s site to help everyday consumers detangle their numerous plugs and cords — but the second sentence is conversational and self-referential. That’s exactly what many of us would say after making a really cheesy joke in real life.

Many brands could stand to be more conversational and goofy in their emails. While it may not be appropriate to go as far as Quirky’s subject line, being goofy might just be the way to delight your email recipients.

These are just some of our favorite subject lines — and since we receive plenty of them, we’ll continue adding the best ones as we discover them.

104 email marketing myths, experiments, and inspiration

  Free Download 104 Email Myths

List of data breaches and cyber attacks in August 2017

Update 30/08/2017: Well, this month’s total number of leaked records looked like it was going to be very low, but in fact it’s the highest one we’ve ever done. The discovery of the Onliner spambot has added 711 million records to the list.

August was – relatively speaking – a pretty quiet month. As far as I’m aware, just 4.6 million records were leaked, which is 139 million fewer than in July.

However, while the overall number this month is far lower, there were still plenty of incidents, including quite a few healthcare data breaches – one of which exposed the HIV status of 12,000 people.

Did I miss anything? Let me know.

Cyber attacks & ransomware

Malware attack disrupts hospitals

HBO hackers obtained all of HBO’s social media logins and GIPHY credentials

Another rough week for HBO as hackers and mistakes result in more leaks

Turkish hackers attack Armenian webpages again

Cyberattack on UCLA server potentially accesses student information

Pacific Alliance Medical Center notifies 266,123 patients of ransomware incident

South Korea LG service centers attacked by ransomware

FC Barcelona has its Twitter and Facebook accounts hijacked by the OurMine gang.

Sony social media accounts hijacked as hackers claims to have stolen PSN database

Attack on Ireland’s state-owned power provider blamed on state-sponsored hackers

Data breach

HIDS4U customers warned of free gift email attack after customer database leaks

Hackers claim to have leaked Game of Thrones season finale details

Oops! Aetna exposed 12,000 customers’ HIV statuses through envelope window

Indian Bank faulted for losing customer’s net banking credentials

Labor Department blames data breach for injury reporting site’s shutdown

OAIC investigating Flight Centre customer data leak

 Anonymous hacker claims to have stolen the NHS medical records of 1.2million Brits

US Voting Machine Supplier Leaks 1.8 Million Chicago Voter Records

OSHA Suspends ITA Due to Security Breach

Error exposes private info on thousands of South Wash. Co. students

Islington Council faces huge fine after massive data breach hit 90,000 people

Medical records of Norfolk patients found in a petrol station, a King’s Lynn restaurant and on the pavement

Lake Health investigating missing obstetrics records

Surgical Dermatology Group notifies patients after TekLinks hacked

Vancouver pot dispensary patient data breach highlights regulatory haze

State juror pool data breach exposed Social Security numbers

Personal data belonging to up to 21,000 TalkTalk customers could have been used for scams and fraud

Italian bank UniCredit admits data breaches affecting 400,000 customers

Medical clinic breaches 1000 people’s privacy

Data of 100,000 Dutch lease drivers leaked

Big data breach unmasks Bloomberg chat room users

GPAs mistakenly sent to parents, students

Patients’ records stolen from Walsall health worker’s car

​UC Health hospital notifies patients of medical records being compromised

Personal Info of 650,000 Voters Discovered on Poll Machine Sold on Ebay

Kaleida Health notifies 2,789 patients about phishing incident

NHS staff personal data leaked in latest data breach

Nude photos of Anne Hathaway leaked online by hackers

Financial information

Oceanside investigating possible data theft on bill-paying website

Hacker Nets over $500,000 after Hacking Enigma before ICO Date

San Antonio Institute for Women’s Health warns patients personal data compromised in network hack


Leak of >1,700 valid passwords could make the IoT mess much worse

BankBot trojan tries to sneak apps onto your Android smartphone without permission

Two zero-day vulnerabilities disclosed after Foxit refuses to patch PDF Reader

Vendor-neutral smart car bug has ‘dangerous’ and ‘even fatal’ consequences

Fighting back

Google awards student $10k for discovery of App Engine data leak flaw

Turkey Arrests Five Suspects in Qatar News Agency Hacking

UK government sets out tougher guidelines to protect smart cars from hackers

Former Air Force member sentenced for stealing fellow members’ information