Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Ultimate List of 394 Email Spam Trigger Words to Avoid in 2021

After spending hours creating an email marketing campaign, the last thing you want to do is get blocked by your recipients’ spam filters. Luckily, by avoiding common email spam trigger words, you can successfully prevent your emails from getting routed to spam folders.

Click here to download our free beginner's guide to email marketing.

Let’s take a look at what spam trigger words are, what gets emails sent to spam, and which spam words you should avoid when creating your email campaigns.

Spam filters can be triggered for a variety of reasons, causing your email to skip recipients' inboxes and land straight in their spam inbox. One of the easiest ways to avoid spam filters is by carefully choosing the words you use in your email's subject line.

Trigger words are known to cause problems and increase the chances of your email getting caught in a spam trap. By avoiding these words in your email subject lines, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting beyond the filters.

Spam trigger words alone aren’t enough to send your email to spam. For instance, if you are offering a 3-for-1 discount sale, you can still advertise that in your emails and not get sent to spam. It’s important to understand all the factors that come into play when emails get identified as spam.

What causes emails to go to spam?

Email providers look for a number of factors when deciding whether to automatically send your emails to spam. If you’ve made it on an email blacklist, that means you’ve repeatedly sent emails to recipients who haven’t signed up for your email list.

Your emails can get sent to spam if you:

  • Don’t include an unsubscribe button in your email
  • Send poorly-designed emails with broken or glitchy code
  • Address your recipient by “my friend” or “dear” (or not by their name)
  • Buy email lists online and mass-send messages to email addresses that don’t exist (resulting in a high bounce rate)
  • Use all-caps text and extreme punctuation (!!!!! or ?????)
  • Include strangely formatted fonts (𝖑𝖎𝖐𝖊 𝖙𝖍𝖎𝖘)
  • Provide links to fraudulent websites

Email providers only want to deliver emails from high-reputation senders. To be a high-reputation sender, do the following:

  • Include an unsubscribe button
  • Design your emails with clean code using a tool such as Marketing Hub
  • Personalize your emails with the recipient’s first name
  • Only email those who’ve subscribed to your email list (if you don’t have any, you should learn to naturally increase your email list subscribers)
  • Keep your email deliverability high
  • Keep the text free of odd formatting and extraneous punctuation
  • Only link out to reputable websites

If you meet these criteria, you can get away with using “classic” email spam words in your subject line and your email. The text surrounding the spam phrase also matters, as does your history as an email sender. If email providers don’t have a reason to mistrust you, they simply won’t.

Email Spam Words to Avoid

When writing your email subject lines, you want to avoid:

  • Over-sensationalizing
  • Over-promising
  • Using strange formatting to “stand out” in the recipient’s inbox

Next time you sit down to write an email subject line, consult the exhaustive list below. In fact, you might want to bookmark this list so you can refer back to it every time you craft an email subject line.


  1. As seen on
  2. Buy
  3. Buy direct
  4. Buying judgments
  5. Clearance
  6. Order
  7. Order status
  8. Orders shipped by shopper


  1. Dig up dirt on friends
  2. Meet singles
  3. Score with babes
  4. XXX
  5. Near you


  1. Additional income
  2. Be your own boss
  3. Compete for your business
  4. Double your
  5. Earn $
  6. Earn extra cash
  7. Earn per week
  8. Expect to earn
  9. Extra income
  10. Home based
  11. Home employment
  12. Homebased business
  13. Income from home
  14. Make $
  15. Make money
  16. Money making
  17. Online biz opportunity
  18. Online degree
  19. Opportunity
  20. Potential earnings
  21. University diplomas
  22. While you sleep
  23. Work at home
  24. Work from home

Financial - General

  1. $$$
  2. Affordable
  3. Bargain
  4. Beneficiary
  5. Best price
  6. Big bucks
  7. Cash
  8. Cash bonus
  9. Cashcashcash
  10. Cents on the dollar
  11. Cheap
  12. Check
  13. Claims
  14. Collect
  15. Compare rates
  16. Cost
  17. Credit
  18. Credit bureaus
  19. Discount
  20. Earn
  21. Easy terms
  22. F r e e
  23. Fast cash
  24. For just $XXX
  25. Hidden assets
  26. hidden charges
  27. Income
  28. Incredible deal
  29. Insurance
  30. Investment
  31. Loans
  32. Lowest price
  33. Million dollars
  34. Money
  35. Money back
  36. Mortgage
  37. Mortgage rates
  38. No cost
  39. No fees
  40. One hundred percent free
  41. Only $
  42. Pennies a day
  43. Price
  44. Profits
  45. Pure profit
  46. Quote
  47. Refinance
  48. Save $
  49. Save big money
  50. Save up to
  51. Serious cash
  52. Subject to credit
  53. They keep your money — no refund!
  54. Unsecured credit
  55. Unsecured debt
  56. US dollars
  57. Why pay more?

Financial - Business

  1. Accept credit cards
  2. Cards accepted
  3. Check or money order
  4. Credit card offers
  5. Explode your business
  6. Full refund
  7. Investment decision
  8. No credit check
  9. No hidden Costs
  10. No investment
  11. Requires initial investment
  12. Sent in compliance
  13. Stock alert
  14. Stock disclaimer statement
  15. Stock pick

Financial - Personal

  1. Avoice bankruptcy
  2. Calling creditors
  3. Collect child support
  4. Consolidate debt and credit
  5. Consolidate your debt
  6. Eliminate bad credit
  7. Eliminate debt
  8. Financially independent
  9. Get out of debt
  10. Get paid
  11. Lower interest rate
  12. Lower monthly payment
  13. Lower your mortgage rate
  14. Lowest insurance rates
  15. Pre-approved
  16. Refinance home
  17. Social security number
  18. Your income


  1. Acceptance
  2. Accordingly
  3. Avoid
  4. Chance
  5. Dormant
  6. Freedom
  7. Here
  8. Hidden
  9. Home
  10. Leave
  11. Lifetime
  12. Lose
  13. Maintained
  14. Medium
  15. Miracle
  16. Never
  17. Passwords
  18. Problem
  19. Remove
  20. Reverses
  21. Sample
  22. Satisfaction
  23. Solution
  24. Stop
  25. Success
  26. Teen
  27. Wife


  1. Dear [email/friend/somebody]
  2. Friend
  3. Hello


  1. Ad
  2. Auto email removal
  3. Bulk email
  4. Click
  5. Click below
  6. Click here
  7. Click to remove
  8. Direct email
  9. Direct marketing
  10. Email harvest
  11. Email marketing
  12. Form
  13. Increase sales
  14. Increase traffic
  15. Increase your sales
  16. Internet market
  17. Internet marketing
  18. Marketing
  19. Marketing solutions
  20. Mass email
  21. Member
  22. Month trial offer
  23. More Internet Traffic
  24. Multi level marketing
  25. Notspam
  26. One time mailing
  27. Online marketing
  28. Open
  29. Opt in
  30. Performance
  31. Removal instructions
  32. Sale
  33. Sales
  34. Search engine listings
  35. Search engines
  36. Subscribe
  37. The following form
  38. This isn't junk
  39. This isn't spam
  40. Undisclosed recipient
  41. Unsubscribe
  42. Visit our website
  43. We hate spam
  44. Web traffic
  45. Will not believe your eyes


  1. Cures baldness
  2. Diagnostic
  3. Fast Viagra delivery
  4. Human growth hormone
  5. Life insurance
  6. Lose weight
  7. Lose weight spam
  8. Medicine
  9. No medical exams
  10. Online pharmacy
  11. Removes wrinkles
  12. Reverses aging
  13. Stop snoring
  14. Valium
  15. Viagra
  16. Vicodin
  17. Weight loss
  18. Xanax


  1. #1
  2. 100% free
  3. 100% satisfied
  4. 4U
  5. 50% off
  6. Billion
  7. Billion dollars
  8. Join millions
  9. Join millions of Americans
  10. Million
  11. One hundred percent guaranteed
  12. Thousands


  1. Being a member
  2. Billing address
  3. Call
  4. Cannot be combined with any other offer
  5. Confidentially on all orders
  6. Deal
  7. Financial freedom
  8. Gift certificate
  9. Giving away
  10. Guarantee
  11. Have you been turned down?
  12. If only it were that easy
  13. Important information regarding
  14. In accordance with laws
  15. Long distance phone offer
  16. Mail in order form
  17. Message contains
  18. Name brand
  19. Nigerian
  20. No age restrictions
  21. No catch
  22. No claim forms
  23. No disappointment
  24. No experience
  25. No gimmick
  26. No inventory
  27. No middleman
  28. No obligation
  29. No purchase necessary
  30. No questions asked
  31. No selling
  32. No strings attached
  33. No-obligation
  34. Not intended
  35. Obligation
  36. Off shore
  37. Offer
  38. Per day
  39. Per week
  40. Priority mail
  41. Prize
  42. Prizes
  43. Produced and sent out
  44. Reserves the right
  45. Shopping spree
  46. Stuff on sale
  47. Terms and conditions
  48. The best rates
  49. They’re just giving it away
  50. Trial
  51. Unlimited
  52. Unsolicited
  53. Vacation
  54. Vacation offers
  55. Warranty
  56. We honor all
  57. Weekend getaway
  58. What are you waiting for?
  59. Who really wins?
  60. Win
  61. Winner
  62. Winning
  63. Won
  64. You are a winner!
  65. You have been selected
  66. You’re a Winner!


  1. Cancel at any time
  2. Compare
  3. Copy accurately
  4. Get
  5. Give it away
  6. Print form signature
  7. Print out and fax
  8. See for yourself
  9. Sign up free today


  1. Free
  2. Free access
  3. Free cell phone
  4. Free consultation
  5. Free DVD
  6. Free gift
  7. Free grant money
  8. Free hosting
  9. Free installation
  10. Free Instant
  11. Free investment
  12. Free leads
  13. Free membership
  14. Free money
  15. Free offer
  16. Free preview
  17. Free priority mail
  18. Free quote
  19. Free sample
  20. Free trial
  21. Free website


  1. All natural
  2. All new
  3. Amazing
  4. Certified
  5. Congratulations
  6. Drastically reduced
  7. Fantastic deal
  8. For free
  9. Guaranteed
  10. It’s effective
  11. Outstanding values
  12. Promise you
  13. Real thing
  14. Risk free
  15. Satisfaction guaranteed

Sense of Urgency

  1. Access
  2. Act now!
  3. Apply now
  4. Apply online
  5. Call free
  6. Call now
  7. Can't live without
  8. Do it today
  9. Don't delete
  10. Don't hesitate
  11. For instant access
  12. For Only
  13. For you
  14. Get it now
  15. Get started now
  16. Great offer
  17. Info you requested
  18. Information you requested
  19. Instant
  20. Limited time
  21. New customers only
  22. Now
  23. Now only
  24. Offer expires
  25. Once in lifetime
  26. One time
  27. Only
  28. Order now
  29. Order today
  30. Please read
  31. Special promotion
  32. Supplies are limited
  33. Take action now
  34. Time limited
  35. Urgent
  36. While supplies last


  1. Addresses on CD
  2. Beverage
  3. Bonus
  4. Brand new pager
  5. Cable converter
  6. Casino
  7. Celebrity
  8. Copy DVDs
  9. Laser printer
  10. Legal
  11. Luxury car
  12. New domain extensions
  13. Phone
  14. Rolex
  15. Stainless steel

Use Spam Trigger Words Sparingly and Within Context

So long as you use email marketing best practices and use spam trigger words within context, you can bypass spam filters. Spam filters have become much more sophisticated in recent years. Using one or two phrases won’t hurt you, but make sure to only email customers who want to hear from you and to always personalize your emails. Doing so will optimize the results of your campaign and keep you out of spam folders.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

New Call-to-action

The Ultimate List of 394 Email Spam Trigger Words to Avoid in 2021 was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

How to Understand & Calculate Statistical Significance [Example]

Have you ever presented results from a marketing campaign and been asked, “But are these results statistically significant?” As data-driven marketers, we’re not only asked to measure the results of our marketing campaigns but also to demonstrate the validity of the data — exactly what statistical significance is.

While there are several free tools out there to calculate statistical significance for you (HubSpot even has one here), it’s helpful to understand what they’re calculating and what it all means. Below, we’ll geek out on the numbers using a specific example of statistical significance to help you understand why it’s crucial for marketing success.

New Data: Instagram Engagement Report [2021 Version]

In marketing, you want your results to be statistically significant because it means that you’re not wasting money on campaigns that won’t bring desired results. Marketers often run statistical significance tests before launching campaigns to test if specific variables are more successful at bringing results than others.

Statistical Significance Example

Say you’re going to be running an ad campaign on Facebook, but you want to ensure you use an ad that’s most likely to bring desired results. So, you run an A/B test for 48 hours with ad A as the control variable, and B as the variation. These are the results I get:




Ad A



Ad B



Even though we can see based on the numbers that ad B received more conversions, you want to be confident that the difference in conversions is significant, and not due to random chance. If I plug these numbers into a chi-squared test calculator (more on that later), my p-value is 0.0, meaning that my results are significant, and there is a difference in performance between ad A and ad B that is not due to chance.

When I run my actual campaign, I would want to use ad B.

If you’re anything like me, you need more explanation as to what p-value and 0.0 mean, so we’ll go through an in-depth example below.

1. Determine what you'd like to test.

First, decide what you’d like to test. This could be comparing conversion rates on two landing pages with different images, click-through rates on emails with different subject lines, or conversion rates on different call-to-action buttons at the end of a blog post. The choices are endless.

My advice would be to keep it simple; pick a piece of content that you want to create two different variations of and decide your goal — a better conversion rate or more views are good places to start.

You can certainly test additional variations or even create a multivariate test, but, for this example, we’ll stick to two variations of a landing page with the goal being increasing conversion rates. If you’d like to learn more about A/B testing and multivariate tests, check out "The Critical Difference Between A/B and Multivariate Tests."

2. Determine your hypothesis.

Before I start collecting data, I find it helpful to state my hypothesis at the beginning of the test and determine the degree of confidence I want to test. Since I’m testing out a landing page and want to see if one performs better, I hypothesize that there is a relationship between the landing page the visitors receive and their conversion rate.

3. Start collecting your data.

Now that you’ve determined what you’d like to test, it’s time to start collecting your data. Since you’re likely running this test to determine what piece of content is best to use in the future, you’ll want to pull a sample size. For a landing page, that might mean picking a set amount of time to run your test (e.g., make your page live for three days).

For something like an email, you might pick a random sample of your list to randomly send variations of your emails to. Determining the right sample size can be tricky, and the right sample size will vary between each test. As a general rule of thumb, you want the expected value for each variation to be greater than 5. (We’ll cover expected values further down.)

4. Calculate Chi-Squared results.

There are several different statistical tests that you can run to measure the significance of your data, and picking one depends on what you’re trying to test and the type of data you’ll collect. In most cases, you’ll use a Chi-Squared test since the data is discrete.

Discrete is a fancy way of saying that your experiment can produce a finite number of results. For example, a visitor will either convert or not convert; there aren’t varying degrees of conversion for a single visitor.

You can test based on varying degrees of confidence (sometimes referred to as the alpha of the test). If you want the requirement for reaching statistical significance to be high, your alpha will be lower. You may have seen statistical significance reported in terms of confidence.

For example, "The results are statistically significant with 95% confidence." In this scenario, the alpha was .05 (confidence is calculated as one minus the alpha), meaning there's a one in 20 chance of making an error in the stated relationship.

After I’ve collected the data, I put it in a chart to make it easy to organize. Since I’m testing out two different variations (A and B) and there are two possible outcomes (converted, did not convert), I’ll have a 2x2 chart. I’ll total each column and row so I can easily see the results in aggregate.

statistical significance example

Once I’ve created my chart, the next step is to run the equation using the chi-squared formula.

Statistical Significance Formula

The image below is the chi-squared formula for statistical significance:

chi-squared formula for statistical significance

In the equation,

  • Σ means sum,
  • O = observed, actual values,
  • E = expected values.

When running the equation, you calculate everything after the Σ for each pair of values and then sum (add) them all up.

5. Calculate your expected values.

Now, I’ll calculate what the expected values are. If there were no relationship between what landing page visitors saw and their conversion rate in the example above, we would expect to see the same conversion rates with versions A and B. From the totals, we can see that 1,945 people converted out of the 4,935 total visitors, or roughly 39% of visitors.

To calculate the expected frequencies (E in the chi-squared formula) for each version of the landing page, we can multiply the row total for that cell by the column total and divide it by the total number of visitors. In this example, to find the expected value of conversion on version A, I would use the following equation:

(1945*2401)/4935 = 946

statistical significance chi-quared expected values table

6. See how your results differ from what you expected.

To calculate Chi-Square, I compare the observed frequencies (O in the chi-squared equation) to the expected frequencies (E in the chi-squared equation). This comparison is done by subtracting the observed from the expected value, squaring the result, and dividing it by the expected frequency value.

Essentially, I’m trying to see how different my actual results are from what we might expect. Squaring the difference amplifies the effects of the difference, and dividing by what’s expected normalizes the results. As a refresher, The equation looks like this: (observed - expected)*2)/expected

how to find statistical significance using chi-squared formula

7. Find your sum.

I then sum the four results to get my Chi-Square number. In this case, it’s .95. To see whether or not the conversion rates for my landing pages are different with statistical significance, I compare this with the value from a Chi-Squared distribution table based on my alpha (in this case, .05) and the degrees of freedom.

Degrees of freedom are based on how many variables you have. With a 2x2 table like in this example, the degree of freedom is 1.

In this case, the Chi-Square value would need to be equal to or exceed 3.84 for the results to be statistically significant. Since .95 is less than 3.84, my results are not statistically different. This means that there is no relationship between what version of landing page a visitor receives and the conversion rate with statistical significance.

8. Report on statistical significance to your teams.

After running your experiment, the next step is to report your results to your teams to ensure everyone is on the same page about next steps. So, continuing with the previous example, I would need to let my teams know that the type of landing page we use in our upcoming campaign will not impact our conversion rate because our test results were not significant.

If results were significant, I would inform my teams that landing page version A performed better than the others, and we should opt to use that one in our upcoming campaign.

Why Statistical Significance Is Significant

You may be asking yourself why this is important if you can just use a free tool to run the calculation. Understanding how statistical significance is calculated can help you determine how to best test results from your own experiments.

Many tools use a 95% confidence rate, but for your experiments, it might make sense to use a lower confidence rate if you don’t need the test to be as stringent.

Understanding the underlying calculations also helps you explain why your results might be significant to people who aren't already familiar with statistics.

If you’d like to download the spreadsheet I used in this example so you can see the calculations on your own, click here.

Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2013, but was updated in September 2021 for freshness and comprehensiveness.

instagram statistics

How to Understand & Calculate Statistical Significance [Example] was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

The Ultimate Guide to Succession Planning

At one of my first jobs out of college, my manager admitted that my professional growth "wasn't a priority." I knew I wasn't in a leadership role that required succession planning, but the admission still stunned me. Without support for career development, I wound up leaving the company.

This situation may seem dramatic, but it points to the importance of having a succession plan in place. Of course, senior leadership roles take precedence because these can create a larger vacuum if the position is left unfilled. But succession planning can (and should) extend to all leaders across a company.

→ Click here to download leadership lessons from HubSpot founder, Dharmesh Shah [Free Guide].

Developing a succession plan can set your company up for smooth transitions when leaders resign or accept a promotion. It can have a major impact on employee morale and can position your team to skillfully handle future business challenges.

But you don't want to wait until you absolutely need a successor. At that point, you're scrambling and may choose the wrong person. Let's look at the ins and outs of succession planning so your team is prepared for any transition.

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is a strategic process for identifying high-potential employees and taking steps to prepare them for future leadership positions. It helps your business develop and retain the talent pipeline so you can quickly fill vacant leadership roles.

Some succession plans look ahead 12 to 36 months for when a leader retires, steps down, advances, or leaves. Others, including CEO succession plans, look years into the future to secure the next several generations of leaders. We'll cover the specifics of C-suite transitions later on. But all succession planning has similar benefits for thinking ahead and identifying what you want in a successor.

Why is succession planning important?

In the Global Leadership Forecast 2021 report, 11% of surveyed organizations said they have a "strong" or "very strong" leadership bench — the lowest reported in the past decade.

The benefits of strong leadership are apparent. It improves employee turnover, ensures the execution of goals, and contributes to the company's survival. So if a crucial leader leaves, a succession plan can help ensure the role is filled and your company continues to thrive. But that's not the only upside.

Benefits Of Succession Planning

  • Finding and developing people for future leadership roles allows you to promote from within. These employees have organizational knowledge and internal relationships that outside hires lack.
  • Letting employees know that you're investing in them is a huge morale boost. It can also increase motivation and loyalty to the company.
  • Training employees for leadership roles forces you to identify the skills, knowledge, practices, and relationships needed for each role in your succession plan. This can attract new talent, retain current employees, and keep you competitive.
  • Hiring for highly specialized roles isn't easy. Succession planning helps you find people with unique competencies when it comes time to replace the current employees.

Currently, leaders looking to develop skills outside of their daily work want more coaching and development assignments, in addition to assessment and formal training. Succession planning is the perfect way to formalize training for both present and future leaders.

Succession Planning Best Practices

Succession planning isn't simple. But if you consider these best practices as you choose successors, your company will be well-equipped to manage transitions and unexpected changes.

Formalize a Plan

The earlier you set a succession plan, the better. You don't want to risk a leadership vacuum that leaves teams feeling unsupported. That can quickly waterfall into an entire team or department leaving, especially if the leader is particularly strong and has a close relationship with their direct reports. Once you have a succession plan, write it down. Then, make it clear there's a plan in place for when the inevitable transitions happen.

Stay Dynamic

Volatility is common at every company. People move cities, find new jobs, and retire. Your succession plan should be able to adapt to change. Instead of creating a plan and only revisiting it when the time comes to fill a role, see the plan as an evolving process that needs to be constantly updated.

Evaluate Talent

Part of a fluid succession plan is taking the time to assess employees' interests, skills, performance, and opportunities. This can be done through 360-degree feedback, weekly check-ins with managers, informal training, or tools like the nine-box grid. The goal is to get an idea of people's strengths and weaknesses, career goals, and growth opportunities so you know who may be the right fit for leadership roles.

Communicate Openly

Communication builds trust, which makes it easier to set expectations and ensure everyone is on the same page. As you build a succession plan, have honest conversations with employees. Find out where people want to be, and tell them where they're currently at. The whole point is to make your plan a reality, and successors will appreciate your openness when the time comes to offer them a role.

Make Diversity and Inclusion a Priority

Companies with women in leadership roles experience almost 50% higher profit and share performance. And since women, especially women of color, have been most affected by the pandemic, it's wise to consider gender ratios in any succession plan — including the 2SLGBTQI+ communities.

Succession Planning Example

When asked, a whopping 61% of organizations said they didn't have a direct report who could step into their CMO role tomorrow. That's a bad sign for C-suite succession plans. Without a strategy to replace leaders, a company can quickly go downhill.

To avoid chaos, here are a few examples of how succession planning can play out:

McDonald's Smooth CEO Succession

How does a multi-billion dollar company thrive after losing two CEOs in one year? They had a concentrated effort to develop high-potential employees and created a backup plan for their succession plan.

Coca-Cola's Failed CEO Succession

The repercussions of a poor succession plan can affect a company for decades. See the implications of Doug Ivester's term as CEO and the stakeholder concerns that caused his resignation after two years.

Succession Planning Steps


Succession planning example

Image Source

1. Make a plan for your plan.

This step is all about defining the goals of your succession plan and aligning with everyone involved. For some companies, this will mean meeting with your board to outline strategic priorities. For others, it will require meeting with senior leaders to define what you're looking for in a successor.

You'll be ready to move on to the next step once you:

  • Define the roles, skills, core competencies, and experience required for a successor.
  • Gather information and feedback on the above from your team or experts within your network.
  • Forecast your company's needs. Consider turnover trends, retirement dates, compensation strategies, and management training.
  • Update your job descriptions and any leadership models to reflect the information you've gathered. You want to be clear about your expectations before looking for candidates.

2. Identify potential candidates.

Using the succession profiles and job descriptions you've created, you're ready to seek out candidates. Make sure your approach is easy to repeat and introduces as little bias as possible. It can be helpful to get support from the HR team, who can share the tools needed to engage candidates and help facilitate the process.

To identify candidates, you can:

  • Look for leaders who develop others, follow through on projects, take action to support the company vision, and have strong leadership skills.
  • Get insight into each candidate's goals, disposition, and potential by holding interviews, creating surveys, and setting up focus groups.
  • Ask people for ideas on how to improve succession and leadership to get buy-in and discover who's engaged with the process.

3. Inform candidates.

There's a great debate on whether or not companies should let employees know they're succession candidates. But informing people of their potential will not only motivate them—it will prevent them from wondering about their future with the company. A great candidate may jump ship if they're in the dark and think they can find a better opportunity elsewhere.

Instead, communicate your intentions about the positions, people, and planning. Just keep your expectations incredibly clear on the included roles and people involved.

4. Set up professional development efforts.

Your company likely has programs in place for onboarding and training employees. But development is about creating opportunities for people to get experience beyond their current role and skillset. This is especially important for team members who can get caught in a specialist silo.

Once you identify candidates who you want to develop, you'll want to figure out the specific skills and knowledge they'll need to move to the next level. This often involves an individual development plan, continuous feedback, mentoring or coaching, formal training, and open conversations between the employee and their manager.

5. Do a trial run.

As potential successors accelerate their growth, they'll become true contenders for leadership roles. This is the ideal time to start trial runs to test their knowledge and expose them to various aspects of a position. Exposing candidates to real-world situations can highlight what effective leadership looks like and give them insight into overall company goals.

There are a variety of ways to get candidates involved, just choose the method that makes the most sense for the role.

  • Job shadow a senior leader to learn about their day-to-day tasks
  • Take on responsibilities when their manager is away
  • Invite them to sit in on higher-level meetings
  • Bring them into discussions on strategy, execution, or company forecasting
  • Involve them in the hiring process for junior candidates
  • Give them more responsibility on projects or involve them in cross-functional work

6. Adjust your hiring strategy.

Eventually, the time will come when you extend an offer to a potential candidate. And you'll need someone else to fill their role. Luckily, the successor can use their new leadership skills to help interview or train the person filling their position. This can be an employee a few levels down or a new hire.

That's why it's important to adjust your hiring strategy to account for successor's roles. Without them, your plan won't go as smoothly and their team will likely be scrambling to fill the gap.

7. Implement the plan.

Succession planning is a complex process with multiple short- and long-term layers. But eventually, it will be time to make the transition. Make an announcement and celebrate the succession. This will show employees that your company prides itself on strong leadership and has a plan for everyone's career development.

Sometimes, a more gradual transition is needed. Family businesses often struggle with smooth succession planning because of familial relationships, emotions, and intertwined histories. In this case, a clear succession plan based on business needs is exceptionally crucial to ensure the company's continued success

CEO Succession Planning

Only one in three CEOs rank their company's leadership quality as "very good" or "excellent." That's a low score for such a high-stakes business priority — especially considering the majority of CEO successors are internal hires.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) ranks CEO succession as "arguably the most important decision a board can make." Replacing a CEO needs to involve a long-term, well-devised plan that's linked to both short and long-term company priorities.

CEO succession planning can follow similar steps to employee succession planning, but there are specific considerations for this top-level role. HBR outlines the following tips for developing a CEO successor:

  • A candidate's competencies, personal attributes, and experiences need to be connected to business priorities. A charismatic senior leader may seem like the top pick, but a company may need a successor with expert-level technical skills in addition to social skills.
  • Think several generations ahead instead of focusing on the immediate successor. Succession is a long game, so you want to position it as a continuous process to develop top talent.
  • Identify seven potential CEOs in your company across all generations. This can take the stress off of each CEO transition and help keep your talent pipeline top-notch.
  • Train CEO candidates through a combination of on-the-job experience, executive coaching, education, mentoring, and cross-functional training.

Developing talent to take on the CEO role will require time and effort from high-level stakeholders. But it's absolutely worthwhile to prevent the vacuum this leadership role can leave if succession is poorly managed.

If a board is involved in the process, HBR recommends using board meetings to combine strategy sessions with talent development. That way, stakeholders can make sure strategy changes reflect the skills needed for potential successors.

Employee Succession Planning

Succession planning extends to employees in all roles across a company. Viewing it this way, rather than saving succession plans for senior leaders, helps you identify high-potential employees at all levels. You can then take steps to develop them into leaders who are able to take on additional responsibilities when a role opens up.

When looking for successors, keep an eye out for employees who are interested in learning new skills, are comfortable with change, can adapt to uncertainty and new leadership, and can manage various work environments. All potential successors should be motivated and engaged in the process because they have a chance to grow their knowledge and take on more challenging, rewarding roles.

When you see a path for an employee's growth, they'll see it too. So the next time a key leader steps down or a new director position is created, you'll know just the right people to recruit for the role.

New Call-to-action

The Ultimate Guide to Succession Planning was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Brand Awareness

Have you ever heard people refer to themselves as “Apple people,” “Nike people,” or “Trader Joe’s” people?

This is what brand awareness can do for a brand: embed itself into consumer lifestyles and purchase habits so that they don’t have to think twice before becoming a customer — time and time again.

This guide will help you better understand brand awareness, establish it among your audience, and build campaigns that allow it to continually grow and change with your business. Let’s dive in.Download Now: Free Brand Building Guide

Brand awareness might seem like a vague concept, and in truth, it is. For those marketers and business owners out there who like to gauge success with neat and tidy numbers, brand awareness will likely ruffle your feathers.

But just because it isn’t a metric that can be perfectly determined doesn’t mean it doesn’t carry value. Brand awareness is incredibly important for business success and overall marketing goals. Here’s why.

Why is brand awareness important?

Brand awareness fosters trust.

In a world where consumers rely on extensive research and others’ opinions before making a purchase, brand trust is everything. Once a consumer bonds to your brand, they’re more likely to make repeat purchases with little to no forethought — which then bridges the gap between trust and loyalty.

Brand awareness establishes that brand trust. When you put a proverbial face to your brand name, consumers can trust easier. Brand awareness efforts give your brand a personality and outlet to be sincere, receive feedback, and tell a story. These are all ways that we, as humans, build trust with one another. The human/brand relationship isn’t any different.

Brand awareness creates association.

When you’ve had a paper cut, I bet you’ve put on a Band-Aid. When you had a pressing question, I’m sure you’ve Googled it. When you needed to make a few copies, I’m guessing that you Xeroxed them. And when you’ve packed for a nice picnic, I’m willing to bet you grabbed a Coke to drink.

Am I correct? Most likely. But ... notice how the some of the words above are capitalized. These are brands, not nouns or verbs.

Speaking in brand-less terms, Band-Aid should be referred to as bandage, Google as a search engine, and Xerox as a copier. But it’s more fun to refer to the brand itself, even if we aren’t using their specific product.

That’s what brand awareness does. It associates actions and products with particular brands, subconsciously encouraging us to replace common words with branded terms. And before you know it, simple paper cuts or picnics are doing the marketing for us.

Brand awareness builds brand equity.

Brand equity describes a brand’s value, which is determined by consumer experiences with and overall perception of the brand. Positive experiences and perception equal positive brand equity, and the same goes for negative notions.

Here are a few valuable things that come from positive brand equity:

  • Higher prices due to higher perceived value
  • A higher stock price
  • The ability to expand business through product or service line extensions
  • Greater social impact due to brand name value

How does a brand establish (and increase) brand equity? By building brand awareness and consistently promoting positive experiences with the brand. Brand awareness is the foundation of brand equity.

Once a consumer is aware of a brand, they start to recognize it without assistance, seek it out to make a purchase, begin to prefer it over other similar brands, and establish a loyalty that not only spurs on other purchases but also inspires recommendations to family and friends.

That is why brand awareness is so important. It establishes trust with your customers, creates positive associations, and builds invaluable brand equity that allows your brand to become a household name and consumer staple.

Brand awareness among your audience and the general public doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t happen from a simple advertisement or marketing campaign.

Strong brand awareness is a result of multiple simultaneous efforts that extend beyond trying to get paying customers.

If you expect to raise awareness of your brand by running a few product advertisements on Facebook, you won’t get very far. Not only will the consumer be focused on the product (not the brand), but the ad will also lack impact beyond a simple sale.

Here are some ways to establish a solid brand awareness foundation and make a lasting impact with your audience:

1. Be a person, not a company.

When you get to know a new friend, what do you like to discover about them? I like to learn about hobbies, passions, likes and dislikes, and more. I also pay attention to how they speak, what they like to talk about, and what stuff gets them excited.

These are the traits your brand should determine and promote about itself. To leave an impact with your audience, you’ve got to define yourself as more than a company that sells stuff. How else would you define yourself? What words would you use if you had to introduce your brand to a new friend?

2. Socialize.

Introvert or extrovert, outgoing or quiet, all humans benefit from social contact and spending time with one another. It’s how we stay connected, learn new things, and become known by others.

The same goes for your brand. If you only attempt to connect with others when trying to make a sale or get support, you won’t be known as anything beyond a business with a singular intention (and the same goes for a person).

To raise awareness of your brand, you’ve got to be social. Post on social media about things unrelated to your product or services. Interact with your audience by asking questions, commenting on posts, or retweeting or sharing content you like. Treat your social accounts as if you were a person trying to make friends, not a business trying to make money.

Research shows that over 50% of brand reputation comes from online sociability. Being social leads to greater awareness and simply being known.

3. Tell a narrative.

Storytelling is an incredibly powerful marketing tactic, whether you’re marketing products or promoting your brand. Why? Because it gives something real for your audience to latch onto.

Crafting a narrative around your brand humanizes it and gives it depth. And weaving this said narrative into your marketing inherently markets your brand alongside your products or services.

What should your narrative be about? Anything, as long as it’s true. It can be the narrative of your founder, the tale of how your business had its first product idea, or the little-engine-that-could story of how your small business made it in this big world.

People like hearing stories about each other. Authenticity is impactful, and it can lead to a big boost in brand awareness.

4. Make sharing easy.

Whatever your industry, product offering, or marketing strategies, make it easy for your audience to share your content. This could be blog posts, sponsored content, videos, social media posts, or product pages. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s shareable.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective way to establish trust and familiarity among customers. If someone sees that a friend or family member is recommending a product or service, they’ll take notice of that product … and brand. Is this a brand worth exploring? Do they have other great products I can rely on? What are their social accounts like, and what do they talk about?

If you make it easy to post about your stuff, consumers will raise brand awareness for you by simply clicking “Share”.

Brand awareness is about impact.

It’s about interacting with your audience in ways that don’t only ask for money, participation, or loyalty.

Imagine if you met a new person who wanted to be your friend. If they asked for any of the above, you’d probably laugh and walk away, right? Not only is that a shallow approach to friendship, but it also leaves no lasting impact on you.

The same goes for establishing and building brand awareness among your audience.

You already know how to start building your brand awareness from the ground up. Now, it’s time to put together a simple yet powerful brand awareness strategy that will keep the flywheel turning.

1. Guest blog on other niche websites.

Guest blogging is one of the best ways to increase brand awareness with minimal effort. You can take advantage of the traffic that’s already arriving at another website to get more eyes on your brand while offering helpful and relevant content.

In other words, you’re not just pushing out your product on people who aren’t ready to buy, but rather writing in your brand voice and presenting yourself as human first, company second. Another great alternative to guest blogging would be publishing sponsored content on niche websites.

2. Try co-marketing.

Co-marketing is an excellent way to build brand awareness — not only because you’d be taking advantage of another brand’s audience but because it can highlight who you are and what you offer in the marketplace.

For instance, if your company sells dog leashes and toys, you could potentially partner with a dog walking app. The campaign itself could appear in any number of ways: You could create a shared offer (“download the app and get one free leash”) or host an Instagram live together. No matter what, partnering up with another brand could help you double and even triple your reach.

3. Advertise everywhere.

I know, I know: Advertising many not build brand awareness so much as it builds product awareness, but still — it’s one of the best tools you can use to get people to find out about your brand in a low-touch, unobtrusive way.

Consider Grammarly. It feels like just a few years ago, no one knew about Grammarly. Now it’s one of those brands that you automatically think of when you consider online proofreading software. That’s because they’ve launched robust social, video, and display advertising campaigns that appear nearly everywhere.

You might consider starting with online advertising, which includes paid social media and PPC. If you’re interested in truly appearing everywhere and launching more sophisticated campaigns at a mass scale, you can launch programmatic advertising campaigns.

4. Hire a face or create a mascot for the company.

This may not be doable for smaller companies, but if you do have the budget, consider hiring an actor or spokesperson to represent the company. What do you first think of when you think of Progressive? Flo, who’s even been termed “Progressive girl” for her fun and friendly personality.

This allows you to not only humanize your brand, as mentioned in the previous section, but give a sense of the friendly and knowledgeable service customers can expect to receive.

You don’t have to use a person, either. GEICO is a great example of this. The moment you see that friendly lizard, you know it’s GEICO. Creating an animated mascot may be a cost-efficient but equally effective way to give a face to your brand.

5. Choose an image or symbol that represents you.

Nike is not even Nike anymore. It’s a check mark. The moment you see that check mark, you know it’s Nike. Or how about McDonald’s yello “M”? Or Apple’s bitten apple?

I’m not just talking about a logo, either, though it can certainly be part of your logo. But work with your branding team or a freelance graphic designer to create a symbol that you ubiquitously use in your marketing, advertising, and organic campaigns. You might also consider taking a note from Apple, McDonald’s, and Nike, and incorporating the symbol into your product packaging and design.

6. Create a short, catchy slogan.

Extending the Nike example, you think of the brand immediately when you hear “Just do it.” Creating a short motto or slogan is a cornerstone of a strong brand awareness strategy and is an easy and simple way to increase brand awareness.

It’s definitely tough — imagine condensing everything you’re about in one short sentence. It must explain how you’re different, what you offer, and why customers should choose you. Consider HubSpot’s tagline, “Helping millions grow better.” In four simple words, you understand why our product should be your choice when consider marketing automation tools.

Learn how to write an effective business slogan with this free guide.

Your brand awareness is now effectively off the ground, and people talk about you without needing to see an ad.

What about expanding your established brand awareness and building on that strong foundation? What can you do as a brand to campaign for awareness and constantly increase it?

Here are a few campaign ideas to boost your brand awareness beyond your initial strategy.

1. Offer freemium.

Freemium is a business model that offers a basic product or product line for free, only charging for any products deemed premium or enterprise-level. It’s a popular pricing strategy for software companies, like HubSpot and Trello.

Offering a freemium option allows customers to get a taste of your brand and product before making a purchase. It’s a try-before-you-buy opportunity that can, technically, last forever (as opposed to a free trial period that some companies choose).

It’s common to offer a freemium option with the condition that the brand’s watermark will be shown on any public-facing parts of the product or service. This makes freemium a win-win situation: The consumer gets the product for free, and the brand gets free advertising when consumers use it.

Typeform is another great example of this. Typeform offers a freemium option of its survey software, but customers must include a thank-you page that features the Typeform logo and message.

Brand awareness freemium: TypeformDepending on your type of business and product offer, Freemium may be the best way to raise awareness of your brand among your audience.

2. Create free content.

Nowadays, creating content is easier than ever … which is a good thing because today’s consumers turn to the internet for any and all questions, concerns, and DIY projects.

Content is a fun way to raise awareness of your brand because it’s the easiest way to show personality and share opinions and positioning on issues — two major components that personify and humanize your brand.

Content doesn’t have to be in written form, either. You can also create videos, infographics, podcasts (which we’ll cover below), and more. Sure, written content like blogs and downloadable guides are arguably the easiest, but they’re definitely not the only option.

Content doesn’t have to live on just your website, either. Guest posting and sponsored content provide opportunities to get in front of new audiences and diversify the type of content you create.

If your brand isn’t creating content, you might be missing out on some major brand awareness opportunities. Content provides an amazing way to authentically connect with your audience while getting your brand name in front of people.

3. Sponsor events.

How many festivals, concerts, fairs, and exhibitions have you attended? These types of events are typically not possible without the help of brand sponsorships. (Take a look at a t-shirt, koozie, or string backpack you likely grabbed from the event. See any brand names?)

Sponsoring events is a surefire way to get your brand in front of hundreds, thousands, or millions of people that likely fall into your target audience. From banners to flyers to water bottles, your brand name will be everywhere if you sponsor an event.

Sponsoring an event also allows you to pin your brand name on an event that matches your personality, interests, and passions, meaning consumers will then associate your brand with that event and its aesthetic and character. It can also gelp your company build brand awareness among highly specialized and qualified audiences. Professionals don’t attend events just for fun. They attend to learn the latest developments in the industry.

It’s more than just being a booth in a sea of booths. By being a consistent event sponsor, you’ll cement yourself in attendees’ minds as a leader in the field. They key is to be consistent in your sponsorship.

Consider Red Bull. Red Bull is an energy drink, and without any brand awareness efforts, we’d simply consider it an energy drink. But, thankfully, Red Bull took their marketing to the extreme — literally — by consistently sponsoring extreme sporting events like cliff diving and motocross. They also sponsor athletes. Now, we inherently associate Red Bull with daring and adventurous … and believe that, if we drink it, we can be the same.

Brand awareness events: Red Bull

4. Give your brand a personality.

Treating your brand as a person and defining your narrative are the first steps to giving your brand a personality. The next step would be infusing this personality into your marketing efforts.

When you market your products and services with personality, you can’t help but boost your brand awareness because your brand will shine right through. Sure, your consumers will take note of the pants or pasta you’re marketing, but they’ll also experience your personality through your advertising.

This is a great strategy when mixing your traditional marketing campaigns with brand awareness campaigns. They don’t always have to be one in the same, but they definitely can be.

Consider Old Spice. (Did you just picture the man on the horse? I did.) Their advertisements for their hygiene products are overflowing with personality and humor, and they still mention their products throughout. The advertisement not only makes an impact on its viewers, but a mere mention of the “Old Spice man” also sends consumers back to YouTube to watch the commercial … and to the store to buy some deodorant.

5. Produce a podcast.

More than one-third of Americans 12 and older listen to podcasts regularly. There’s no doubt podcasts play an important role in our lives … and marketing efforts.

Podcasts used to be a complicated process, only created by those with a studio and fancy microphone. Now, it’s easier than ever to create and release a podcast, and doing so can do wonders for your brand awareness efforts.

Why? Because podcasts, like written or visual content, provide a way to connect with your audience authentically. Instead of blatantly promoting your product or service (which we’ve agreed isn’t the best way to go about boosting brand awareness), podcasts give you the opportunity to educate, inform, entertain, or advise your audience and build trust by doing so.

Here are some examples of great podcasts produced by brands you know and love:

See how these brands have chosen podcast topics that relate to their 1) overall brand message and 2) products or services? Doing this helps them relate the podcast back to their brand and continue to raise awareness, too.

Building and growing brand awareness is a never-ending process, just as maintaining a friendship or relationship never really ends.

Boosting your brand awareness through campaigns gives you a chance to dabble in marketing and advertising opportunities you’d otherwise not invest in — meaning new, powerful ways to connect with your audience.

How to Measure Brand Awareness

How do you know if your brand awareness efforts are working? How do you know if you need to change direction, top the competition, or fix a crisis? Just like any other marketing metric, you measure it.

Wait … I thought you said brand awareness couldn’t be measured!

Aha! You’ve been listening. I appreciate that.

You’re right — brand awareness can’t be measured in the traditional sense. But, you can still review activities and metrics that’ll help you gauge where your brand stands in terms of popularity and consumer awareness.

Here are a few ways to gauge your brand awareness and learn where you can tweak your efforts:

Quantitative Brand Awareness Measures

These numbers can help you paint the overall picture of your brand awareness. To measure quantitatively, check out these metrics:

  • Direct traffic. Firstly, direct traffic is the result of people intentionally typing in your URL and visiting your website. Your direct traffic number will tell you how much your marketing is prompting people to visit your website. This is an important metric, as many consumers today discover brands through social media, advertisements, or by typing in keywords related to your brand or product. When consumers go directly to your site, it means they were aware of your brand beforehand.
  • Site traffic numbers. This number just reflects overall site traffic, which will tell you how much of the general internet population is checking out your content and spending time with your brand. It won’t quite tell you where people came from, but that doesn’t matter, because they’re aware of your brand enough to check it out.
  • Social engagement. Engagement can refer to followers, likes, retweets, comments, and more. It’s a reflection of how many people are aware of your brand and socialize with it, as well as how impactful your content is. For instance, sites like Sparktoro can give you a specific score for your Twitter impact.

Qualitative Brand Awareness Measures

This step is where your brand awareness “score” gets a little murky. But these tactics can still help you gauge who and how many people are aware of your brand. To measure qualitatively, try:

  • Searching Google and setting up Google Alerts. Doing this gets you up to speed with how your brand is being talked about online. It will alert you to any news or mentions by third-party press. As your brand grows, its internet real estate will expand beyond your website, so keep an eye on that.
  • Social listening. Social listening is monitoring social media management tools for organic mentions and engagement. Who’s tagging your brand, mentioning it in comments, or using your hashtag in their posts? These tools can help you discover that. And the more your audience is discussing your brand on social media, the more they’re aware of it.
  • Running brand awareness surveys. This process involves getting direct feedback from your customers and audience and can be incredibly helpful with not only understanding who knows of your brand but also what they think of it. You can release surveys through SurveyMonkey or Typeform and share them on social media or directly with your customers. This guide will help you create and promote them.

These quantitative and qualitative metrics will help you understand your brand awareness among your audience and the general public. It’ll never be a perfect number, but keeping your pulse on this measure will help influence campaigns and stay connected to your audience. Regardless of how you gauge brand awareness for your company, avoid these common mistakes when measuring brand awareness.

Brand Awareness Examples

Not sure what a brand awareness campaign can look like? Let’s take a look at some top examples.

1. HubFans

Brand awareness example: HubSpotHubFans is a brand awareness campaign that rewards avid and knowledgeable HubSpot users for spreading their knowledge about the CRM platform. It’s a brilliant campaign because awareness is built not by the HubSpot brand, but by HubSpot customers. That automatically makes the brand seem more approachable and human.

In the same way, you can get your customers to advocate for you by rewarding them if they share knowledge about your product. This will make it easier to build an army of brand evangelists who will effortlessly scale your brand awareness efforts.

2. Apple Events

Brand awareness example: AppleWe all know of companies that release new gadgets and features to keep their product lines up-to-date. But none come to Apple’s level of famousness, and that’s because Apple hosts an entire event dedicated to announcing its new releases.

Even though the updates to the actual products are minimal, Apple has “hyped up” the event to such a degree that you know automatically to watch for the brand’s new developments. That keeps the brand at the forefront of customers’ minds when they're considering a new tech gadget.

3. Rare Beauty’s Mental Health 101

Brand awareness example: Rare BeautyHaving an admirable mission at the core of your company is a great move for building brand awareness — especially if you enable your customers to share resources that can help others.

That’s what Rare Beauty did with its Mental Health 101 initiative. It built a kit that people could share on their social media sites to build awareness about the importance of mental health. By sharing the brand’s kit, users are also sharing the brand itself, which is an excellent way to build brand awareness.

4. Coca-Cola Share a Coke

Brand awareness example: Coca-ColaCoca-Cola doesn’t need more brand awareness, and that’s because it has built it so effectively over time that it has reached iconic status. One such example is its “Share a Coke” campaign, where you can find a Coke bottle with your name in store. Or personalize one with a phrase.

This is a brilliant brand awareness move that capitalizes on customers’ love of personalization, and with it, Coca-Cola ensures it remains an unshakable American classic. This example shows how far personalization will get you in your brand awareness campaign, so try to personalize whenever possible. If your product isn’t disposable, consider giving customers the option to add their name.

5. Beauty Bakerie Matte Lip Whip

Brand awareness example: Beauty BakerieIf your product does something incredible — such as staying put even under a stream of water — consider filming one or more videos about it. That’s what Beauty Bakerie did with its now-famous Matte Lip Whip products.

I remember when my Instagram feed used to filled with videos of people putting Matte Lip Whip swatches under water and washing them with soap. It was so incredible that I couldn’t help but look at the brand. Behold, I was now aware of Beauty Bakerie, and have been following them ever since.

Show off something about your product that might just shock your audience into learning more about you. It’s guaranteed to work like it did for Beauty Bakerie.

Over to You

Brand awareness is a powerful (albeit vague) concept that can have a major impact on your marketing efforts, consumer perception, and revenue.

Follow these techniques for establishing and building awareness for your brand, and you’ll find yourself with a loyal audience that recognizes your brand among competitors, chooses your products time and time again, and recommends their friends and family do the same.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

brand consistency

The Ultimate Guide to Brand Awareness was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.

How to Run A Content Audit in 2021

Think of all the content you create — the good, the bad, and the ones that take a scary amount of time.

Now think of how you organize it. How do you keep track of how content is performing? Do you use those metrics to improve for future campaigns?

If you're missing this kind of organization for your company, consider investing in a content audit. They are an excellent planning resource and roadmap for future content creation, while organizing analytics so you can refer back to high-performing posts if needed. In this post, learn how you can perform one for your own business, and discover high-quality tools to help you streamline the process.

How strong is your website? Grade it using HubSpot's free Website Grader.

Content Audit Goals

Running a content audit for your website can prove to be beneficial for your traffic and improve the experience of your readers.

First, content audits help you take note of the areas on your website that aren't properly optimized for search engine rank. For example, you might add meta descriptions to your blog posts as part of your current strategy, but if that always wasn't the case, a content audit helps you locate which posts need to be updated.

Content audits also help you identify new SEO opportunities to implement on your website. For example, did you know that adding keywords to the headings on your site gives search engines more clues about what your web page is about?

If search engines have as much knowledge as possible about the content on your website, they'll be able to suggest your web pages to browsers more accurately.

Running an audit is a chance for you to update the content on your website to improve the comprehension of your site by readers. For example, you might not know the links on one of your product pages are broken, but a content audit provides you with a reminder to update those links. Let’s discuss some additional benefits below. 

Benefits of Content Audits

Your content audit should help you bring your content up-to-date, improve the rank of your web pages, and make the website you present to readers easy to navigate and free of error. In addition, content audits:

  • Give data-driven insight into the performance of your content, helping you make informed decisions based on factual information rather than just assumptions. 
  • Identify areas for content repurposing or updating where numbers are lower than desired. 
  • Identify pieces of content that perform best that you can leverage in marketing materials. 
  • Understand more about what your audience likes and dislikes. 
  • Content maintenance becomes easier when you have an understanding of what you’re offering. 

To make sure your website content audit is valuable, carve out enough time to complete it. However, you don't have to be in it alone — there are plenty of templates to guide you through a content audit if you're unsure of where to start.

Content Audit Template

This template guides you through checking the On-Page SEO of your website. It works for many page types, like a home page, landing page, blog post, or even a form page. There's a space in the template for you to note the page type to keep the template organized.

website content audit template

Under each section, the template will tell you why it matters for on-page optimization. So, for example, when you note if you have multiple similar pages, canonical tags will make sure they're grouped together.

Below, we'll talk about the sections of the template.

In the first column, you'll specify your page type for each page you're auditing. Then, you'll fill in the URL and note any canonical tags your site may have. Remember, you can find canonical tags in your page's source code.

After that, you'll note if your page is a part of a sequence of pages to ensure that your code is properly formatted for sequencing.

Next up, you'll fill in some details about the page's copy. For instance, the page title. If I included a blog post similar to this one in the audit, for example, I would put "How to Run an SEO Content Audit" in this section, shown below:

SEO content audit template for on-page optimizationThis section makes sure you'll have keywords in your page title, boosting SERP rank. Similarly, in the next section, you'll define the goal of each page and the focus keywords of that page.

So, for this blog post, I would define the purpose as, "Educating readers about creating a content audit," and my keywords would be something akin to "On-Page SEO," and "Content Audits."

After that, you'll note the headlines on your page. A good rule of thumb is to make sure at least one keyword appears in an H2 to help your rank. Same thing with meta descriptions, the next section — a short, concise description of your content should also contain a keyword to improve rank.

SEO content audit template

Once you outline your headings and include your meta description, then you'll focus on images. First, include the file name of your image and note the alt text. Recall that alt text tells Google what your image is about, so if your images don't have any, this is a good reminder to add them.

Next, you're going to focus on links: internal and outbound. Remove broken internal links, and make sure your page has at least 2-3. (Remember, internal links help you to boost the traffic of other pages).

Following your link optimization, note the page speed. If your page takes longer than 2 seconds to load, it might not keep the reader's attention.

Finally, the last section makes sure your page is available for sharing on socials and is mobile-friendly. These functions of the page improve the accessibility of your webpage.

Content Audit Spreadsheet

This template also offers a spreadsheet checklist. The SEO Audit Checklist is another spreadsheet that makes sure the content of your website is fully optimized and up-to-date. So, the first template helps you update the On-Page SEO of your website, while the checklist gives you an in-depth reference for running the audit:

website content audit spreadsheet templateFor example, when you go through the worksheet, you can expect to include information about the On-Page elements of your website. Still, you’ll also be checking for crawling and indexing, ranking factors, the content and link structure, status codes, coding, and internalization.

To use the checklist, you'll simply mark "Yes" or "No" for each task, and add any notes to refer to.

How to Run a Content Audit

1. Think of your goals.

First, think about what you want to accomplish. When you have your goals in mind, you will have a better idea of how to categorize your audit later.

Ultimately, a content audit identifies engaging content for your audience and can include information on SEO and conversion rates. One goal to consider could be to determine which of your pages need to be SEO-optimized. Alternatively, you might think about finding the most interesting and best-performing content for your website visitors and place that on your homepage or in an email newsletter.

Identifying company goals will ensure your content audit is useful for bookkeeping and updating your strategy with improved tactics. After this is complete, then it's time to collect your content.

2. Gather your content.

Which content are you going to audit? The types of audits are typically those for product descriptions, blog posts, multimedia, and publications. Decide this, and gather the backlog of all of that content.

To accomplish this, collect the URLs of the web pages you've chosen to audit. If you have a small website, you can do this manually and put them in a spreadsheet. However, there are also online tools to do it for you, like SEMrush, Screaming Frog, and HubSpot.

SEMrush and Screaming Frog will provide this information based on your sitemap. A sitemap is a file that has all of your website's information and can be created for free online. For more information on sitemaps, check out our guide here.

3. Categorize your content.

After receiving your audit, categorize it on the spreadsheet. Some online tools categorize the information for you, but it’s also doable to do it yourself. The categories will keep you organized so you can ensure your content audit meets your needs.

Some categories you can include are content type, author(s), publication date, and content format. Think of categories that are useful to know from different pieces of content. For instance, if you are auditing blog posts, important information to pull would be the date of publication or update, the author, the type of content, and metadata (Such as the title and description).

Another critical category is metrics. Some online tools will include them in the audit, but Google Analytics can also pull data for you. Metrics can provide more information for your analysis later.

At this point, your spreadsheet should have URLs of your content, categories, metadata (if included), and metric data.

4. Analyze your data.

Now, it's time to look at your data critically. This is the step that will give you a good measure of the state of your content. When analyzing your data, here are some things to take note of:

  • Content that's missing — What is your audience interested in that you haven't covered?
  • Content that's underperforming — Which pieces of content aren't getting the numbers you want?
  • Outdated content — If you have old content, can it be updated or reworked to maintain optimization?
  • Home run content — Content that has performed extremely well.

Based on the results of this analysis, organize them in the spreadsheet. A way to do this is to assign different colors based on what you're analyzing and highlight the rows with those colors so you have an idea of which category is which, and which ones take up the largest portion of your overall content library.

5. Create action items.

In this step, you will finalize and clean up your audit. You now know what to focus on based on the analysis and can go from there. Think about the posts to delete, update, re-write, or re-structure.

To organize these action items, add one last column to the spreadsheet — one that's close to the front so you can keep tabs on it. This column will let you know the action to take on a specific URL. For example, are you going to keep, update, delete, or re-write that blog post?

If you plan on ranking by priority or including a timeline for this audit, now would be the time to include that, as well. Some organizations use full-blown content calendars, while others don't need it. To make a priority timeline that fits in best with your content audit, think back to your goals and which items make sense to execute first.

6. Optional: Choose a content audit tool. 

While not a requirement, choosing a content auditing tool can help you with your process. The most significant benefit of using a content audit tool is that they are fast, helping you save a considerable amount of time. Rather than gathering URLs manually, the tool can automatically aggregate the content you’re looking for and display metrics for you to see. 

Website Content Audit Checklist

The graphic below is a checklist you can use to ensure you’re on the right track when performing your content audit. 

website content audit checklist

Now, let's go over some content audit tools you can use to further automate your content audit process.

Content Audit Tools

1. Screaming Frog

Price: First 500 links free, unlimited for $150/year

Screaming Frog is a website crawler. It collects URLs from your sitemap and create an SEO audit for you. If you have a smaller site, Screaming Frog can audit up to 500 links for free.

website content audit tools: screaming frog SEO crawler Image Source

The desktop Screaming Frog website is great because it provides you a ton of analysis about your website, and categorizes it for you. Because the audit is SEO-based, it also gives you information on how to improve your SEO, which is likely useful, depending on your goals.

2. Casted

Price: Contact sales for individual quote

Casted helps you understand how contacts are engaging with your podcast content so you can make actionable business decisions to drive engagement. If you’re a HubSpot user, Casted integrates with Marketing Hub, and you can leverage CRM tools to create lead capture forms to draw in your listeners for further nurturing. 

podcast content audit tool: casted podcast tool

Image Source

3. SEMrush

Price: Free trial, then $199-$449/month

In three steps, users of SEMrush can receive a robust audit. By putting in the desired domain, you'll get a customized report that shows you where you can improve your site:

website content audit tool: SEM rush sample audit report

Image Source

From there, you can connect an analytics tool account, like Google Analytics, if you want to see more information about your sitemap, like posts that are the most engaging for your audience. You can use this information when developing strategy — identifying content that performs well for your audience gives you an idea of what to cover.

4. Google Analytics

Price: Free

While Google Analytics doesn't give you a traditional audit, it provides good information that will help you formulate your audit. It lets you know who is visiting your website, and from where. Additionally, it gives a rundown on the behaviors of your visitors:

website content audit tool: Google AnalyticsIt gives you data about the amount of time visitors are seeing on webpages, the most popular webpages, and different patterns seen in your visitors. One of these patterns could be the most popular blog post in the US from visitors aged 18-24.

5. DYNO Mapper

Price: $99-$450/month

If you're looking for a sitemap generator, DYNO Mapper has that function available. Also available on DYNO Mapper — a content audit tool. This website is really good at finding potential problems in the SEO of your content.

DYNO Mapper content auditImage Source

DYNO Mapper also keeps a progress report of your audits, so you can monitor how they're improving and performing. The audits themselves present how your content can be given in the best way to search engines, an excellent metric for content audits.

6. WooRank

Price: $60-$249/month

WooRank has two amazing features for content auditing: SEO monitoring and Site Crawler. SEO Monitoring from WooRank lets you know the state of performance on your landing pages, which is information you can put into an audit. It also lets you know if your website ever goes down and how that affected SEO, another metric to import if you're tracking web page metrics in your audit.

WooRank SEO website grader

Image Source

The Site Crawl feature lets you know how Google sees your site and interprets the information for search engines. This information is great knowledge to make audits more effective when you're coming up with action items for the future.

Now that you know ample knowledge about content audits, how to create them, where to source them, and important essentials to include, you are fully prepared to incorporate them into your organization. Give it a try, and use it to elevate your next campaign. Happy auditing!

evaluate your website's SEO for free

How to Run A Content Audit in 2021 was originally posted by Local Sign Company Irvine, Ca.