SATURDAY SIX: The Six Most Artistic Snacks at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts!

first_imgShare This!This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at The Six Most Artistic Snacks at Epcot’s Festival of the Arts! When word came around that Epcot was adding another festival to its annual lineup, we were skeptical to say the least. Sure, we love the Flower & Garden and Food & Wine festivals, but did we need another one? Long story short: YES. Yes, we did.–The festival is filled with incredible art to see (and buy) along with an even better menu of unique food and drink options. From the Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts to the Wild Mushroom Risotto, the festival is filled with indulgent foods, but as always we here at the SATURDAY SIX were drawn to the more sugary based options. Today we’re going to look at the most artistic snacks at the festival, along with a whole bunch of non-food related reasons detailing why we really love the Festival of the Arts. It’s basically TWO editions of the SATURDAY SIX in ONE. You’re Welcome! Let’s start this party off right with…# 6 – Mary Blair White Chocolate Art PaintingThis may be the coolest looking chocolate in the history of chocolates at Walt Disney World, a miniature Mary Blair “painting” on a chocolate easel. This is such a fantastic idea executed so flawlessly that you don’t mind paying $7 for a pretty small piece of chocolate. The chocolate itself tasted really good, even though it is so pretty we didn’t even want to eat it (but c’mon, it’s chocolate, it was gonna be eaten sooner or later).Served at The Painter’s Palette, ($7)Mary Blair White Chocolate Art Painting. An E-Ticket snack. (photo by Brandon Glover)–Reason We Love the Festival of the Arts: Figment’s Brush with the MastersEpcot continually has the best scavenger hunts in any Florida theme park, thanks in part to the great souvenirs you get when accomplishing your hunt. The Easter Egg hunts are always a blast during the spring, and we also enjoyed Remy’s “Hide and Squeak” hunt during Food & Wine. For Figment’s Brush with the Masters, guests are given a blank map along with a set of stickers featuring well known paintings. You then have to go from country to country in World Showcase to match the correct country with the painting it features. In a fun twist, each of the famous painting features our favorite Epcot character, Figment!Blank map. (photo by Megan Stump)Figment inserted into Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting. (photo by Megan Stump)–Once you have correctly identified all the paintings, you take take your completed map to Disney Traders (the large gift shop at the very front of World Showcase) and pick up one of four awesome pins featuring Figment. This scavenger hunt was fantastic.Completed map. SPOILER ALERT. (photo by Brian Carey)HOW GREAT ARE THESE MAGNETS?!!!! (photo by Brian Carey)–# 5 – Pop’t ArtReaders of this fine blog series should know by now that we are obsessed with anything Pop Tart related at the theme parks. The Pop-Tart Sandwich was life changing (note: we didn’t say in a good way) and the Pop-Tart Sundae is a wonderful family dessert. Turns out we also like snacks that look like Pop-Tarts. The Pop’t Art is described as an “abstract-designed sugar cookie with chocolate hazelnut filling” and it is basically a five hour energy in cookie form. The colorful icing on top of regular icing provides an extremely sweet taste, and – like a normal Pop-Tart – there is a small amount of a chocolate hazelnut filing inside. Each one is unique in design.Available at The Painter’s Palette and Pop Eats. ($4)Pop’t Art. (photo by Brandon Glover)Cross section of Pop’t Art. (photo by Megan Stump)–Reason We Love the Festival of the Arts: Fun Photo Ops!In another ingenious idea, the Festival of Arts features photo ops in which guests can literally step into the frame of iconic paintings. There are WDW photographers available and these pics can be added to your PhotoPass account.Theme park podcasters LitemAndHyde and Brandon Glover “cross the Delaware” with George Washington himself.Brandon Glover steps into Renoir’s “Lunching of the Boating Party” mistakenly thinking it was a BOATHOUSE party at Disney Springs.–# 4 – Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate-Chip CookieA thick chocolate-chip cookie the size of an entire paper plate? We’re down with that. Oh, and it has the whimsical appearance of an artist’s palette with various icings as “paint?”  Love it. Like many of the festival’s offerings, the size of the food is great for sharing. This is a stark contrast to the growing trend at Food & Wine which could have the subtitle “Honey, I Shrunk the Serving Size” added on to it. One nice touch is that each cookie in itself is a work of art – so to speak – as the splotches of paint are added on after purchase.Available at Cuisine Classique, The Artist’s Table, and Decadent Delights. ($5.50)Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate-Chip Cookie. (photo by Brandon Glover)–Reason We Love the Festival of the Arts: Character ArtThere are several spots in World Showcase which feature art of Disney characters. In Germany there is a painting of Snow White. Mexico has Donald Duck. Our favorite is in France, where not only is there a drawing of Belle reading a book, but it sits on an elaborate easel that look’s like it came straight from Maurice’s workshop. What a great touch.Belle in France. (photo by Brandon Glover)Donald appreciating his drawing in Mexico. (photo by Megan Stump)–# 3 – Deconstructed Purple Sweet Potato PieThe menu described the Deconstructed Purple Sweet Potato Pie as a “salted caramel, bourbon-soaked cake and marshmallow whipped cream.” You had us at bourbon-soaked.You had us at bourbon-soaked.This is truly next level art in the form of a dessert with some true creativity throughout the dish. It is like being at an avant-garde art show, knowing what you are looking at took a lot of skill to create, but have no idea what the meaning behind any of it actually is. It just looks cool. The actual purple sweet potato pie mousse has a great taste once your mind overcomes the weird texture.Served at Decadent Delights. ($6.50)Deconstructed Purple Sweet Potato Pie.(photo by Brandon Glover)–Reasons We Love Festival of the Arts: Do It Yourself MuralIn a fantastic synergy with Glidden paints, guests had the ability to work together on painting an Epcot mural. At the Expression Station, each guest was able to paint a few squares on a giant paint-by-numbers mural that ended up revealing the gorgeous art of Herb Ryman. Slowly the “big picture” (literally) comes into focus. In a way, this mural represents the spirt of the Epcot of old, recapturing imagination.Mural in process. (photo by Brandon Glover)Guests painting mural. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Paint by number writ large. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Close up of one completed section. (photo by Brian Carey)Mural all but finished. (photo by Brian Carey)A postcard featuring the Herb Ryman art that is seen in the mural. (photo by @bioreconstruct)–# 2 – Triple Chocolate MousseThe Triple Chocolate Mousse stands out from the other pieces on our list and looks like it fit right in as the capper to the 10 course meal at Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table or a dessert experience at Remy on the Disney Cruise Line. It’s that gorgeous. Just an amazing dessert that scores an A+ on presentation and another A+ on taste. The price at first seems a little high compared to many other desserts at the festival, but you taste every penny and then some.  It is described as “Chocolate crunch, dark chocolate sauce, and gold leaf from our Master Pastry Chef.” After finishing, we wanted to pull a Michael Scott from The Office and tell the Chef, “I am really proud of you.”Served at The Masterpiece Kitchen. ($9.25)(photo by Brandon Glover)–Reason We Love the Festival of the Arts: Live Artists Doing Their ThingThroughout the festival guests have the chance to see artists working in various mediums right in front of their eyes. This is not just the classic “artist painting on an easel” either, as there are artists doing chalk work on the pavement, mural painting, and even producing art on pairs of TOMS shoes that you can purchase. We are hearing that “due to guest demand” Burgan Fine Art may be added to a future Festival of the Arts (or was that “banned?” Have to double check that on that one.)Artist (photo by Brandon Glover)Mural in progress (photo by Brandon Glover)The brilliant Rob Kaz of Rob Kaz Art fame. (photo by Brandon Glover)TOMS shoes painted with Woody and Buzz designs. (photo by Brandon Glover)–# 1 – White Chocolate Figment PuzzleThis just about gets a perfect overall score for the Festival of the Arts. Served on a fun cardboard artist palate, this snack allows the family to paint the white chocolate Figment puzzle using various colored icing, blue chocolate candies, and sprinkles. Let’s see: Unique design? Check. Various forms of sugar? Check. Interactive? Check. Use of Figment. Check. While this may not get the “wow” factor when it comes to taste, this is the type of snack that contains the very essence of the Disney Difference.Served at Painter’s Palate,  . ($6.50)(photo by Brandon Glover)(photo by Brandon Glover)–Reason We Love the Festival of the Arts: Figment TopiaryWe love Figment. We love topiaries. ‘Nuff said.Figment topiary in front of Spaceship Earth. (photo by @bioreconstruct)Figment! (photo by Brandon Glover)–HONORABLE MENTION – Almond Frangipane CakeThis slice of cake is possible the “signature dessert” of the festival considering how much it used in all of Disney’s ads. It’s colorful, it’s fun, and it actually tastes really good. The cake itself is most, the raspberry jam has a nice sweet taste, and the chocolate icing is a great capper.Available at Pop Eats. ($4.25)Almond Frangipane Cake. (photo by @bioreconstruct)–So there you have it: The Most Artistic Food Options at EPCOT’s Festival of the Arts! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:What You Need To Know Before Going to Festival of the ArtsSix Reasons We LOVE Epcot!The Six Best Kept Secrets at EpcotThe Six Best Snacks in Epcot’s World ShowcaseThe Six Most Interesting, Unusual, and Strangest Gifts in Epcot’s World ShowcaseThird Annual Theme Park Turkey of the Year Awards ($12.99 “Hurricane Box,” Shanghai Disneyland Etiquette Guide and more!)Six Pieces of Disney Merchandise That Don’t Exist (But Totally Should)Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, the sommelier of Tony’s Town Square Brian Carey, the Bio-est of all Reconstructs @bioreconstruct, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde , while fellow Potterheads may enjoy Meg’s work on the Central Florida Slug Club.EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS go out to one our favorite families in all of Florida. Mr. LitemAndHyde along with his lovely wife and two incredible kids were INVALUABLE to the SATURDAY SIX and are considered honorary staff members with all the rights and privileges that come with.FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2017 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now and support SIX NATION (boy do we need a better name than that.)Real News.last_img read more

In Case You Missed It: News and Rumors – Week of February 1, 2019

first_imgShare This!Who’s ready for some football? That’s what I’ve been hearing all week this week, since the Big Game is here in Atlanta. We’ve been living and breathing the event for the past week. It’s been interesting to watch.If you’re not interested in football, or even if you are, I’ve got some great articles for you to read this week. Many are losing the minds over the long awaited release of Kingdom Hearts 3, you’ll be able to catch Black Panther for free, and more.In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and RumorsYikes! There’s been another Hepatitis A outbreak at Walt Disney World. This time it’s at Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue.Disney is making a big bet on clean energy and Forbes recent shared an article about some of the steps the company is taking.This weekend is the Big Game and here are some those who said those famous words – “I’m going to Disney World” over the past few years.To get ready for the new Disney Cruise Line sailings, Port Canaveral is going to be spending $46 million in upgrades.A new Sail Away party is going to be introduced. Disney’s all new deck party will continue to be a high-energy countdown celebration but the change will  be occurring aboard the Disney Wonder. Mickey’s Sail-A-Wave Deck Party will feature Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald.The Walt Disney Family Museum is introducing a podcast, once again. Subscribe on iTunes.Have you been playing Kingdom Hearts 3 nonstop yet? Here are some helpful Keyblade tips.One of the big questions as Disney moves forward with the Fox acquisition is what will happen to “The Simpsons”. Variety takes a closer look.Black Panther will return to the big screen to celebrate Black History Month from February 1–7, at 250 participating AMC Theatres locations. To ensure that the movie is accessible to all, tickets are free and there will be two showings per day at each participating theater.Apparently, there may be a Princess Diaries 3 in the works. Would you go see it?Not long ago documents had leaked that showed that Universal Orlando’s upcoming third theme park was to be called “Fantastic Worlds.” But it looks like Warner Brothers might object to the new name.Comcast’s theme park revenue increased by 15% over this quarter.In Case We Missed ItWhat did we miss? Attach your ideas to a Mickey and Minnie Mouse ”Be Mine” T-Shirt and send it to [email protected] with the words “In Case You Missed It” in the subject line.last_img read more

South Africa’s wireless future

first_img26 May 2006South Africa is to focus on less costly wireless networks as it moves to roll out a broadband infrastructure across the country that is “robust enough” to cater for all socio-economic, business and research needs.And state-owned company Sentech, Africa’s largest broadcast signal distributor, is to “form the core” of South Africa’s wireless broadband rollout, Minister of Communications Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said in the National Assembly on Thursday.While Sentech would be the driver of this infrastructure rollout crucial to meeting the communication needs of a growing economy, this would coincide with the strengthening of a liberalised policy environment that would seek to attract other investors to wireless broadband infrastructure.Affordable accessJustifying the use of Sentech to push wireless broadband networks, the communications minister said in her budget vote speech, that international experience had shown that where adequate broadband infrastructure existed, access to it was more affordable.“Experience has also shown us that where adequate infrastructure is in abundance, this has been as a result of direct and deliberate government intervention, particularly so in developing countries.“Consistent with Cabinet’s declaration that ours is a developmental state we have decided to examine the contribution that the assets of state-owned enterprises can make to achieve affordable broadband access in our country.”The reason for the emphasis on wireless broadband – as opposed to the backbone cables that link South Africa’s business centres – is because of the great costs involved in digging trenches for the rollout of the fibreoptic cables that transmit the data-carrying digital signals.‘Less costly’With the need to provide broadband access to the country’s remote and rural areas, “wireless broadband networks are less costly to roll out as they do not require the digging of long trenches”, said the minister.Sentech, already a leading company in the provision of converging communication solutions, is to be the vehicle for this.On top of this, its wireless broadband infrastructure network is to be expanded beyond its current footprint to enable it to carry voice to the end user, making full use of its multimedia licenceDiscussions on an appropriate funding model for the commercially-driven state-owned enterprise were being finalised, said the minister, adding that this would take into account “the fact that Sentech provides and should continue to provide both public and commercial services”.Eassy accessAnother major development regarding broadband rollout is the development of the Eassy cable that will finally complete the broadband infrastructure surrounding the continent.This cable – the Eastern Africa Submarine Sea Cable commonly referred to as Eassy – involves 23 African countries including South Africa, which is a co-initiator of the project, and more than 30 African companies under the coordination of NEPAD’s e-Africa Commission.With fears over costs of access to this cable – due to be completed by next year – already being voiced by some of the smaller telecommunications players in the continent, as well as potential consumers, the minister moved yesterday to restore broad confidence in this major project that should drastically reduce telecommunications costs along Africa’s eastern flank.With ministers of the 23 countries participating in the Eassy project meeting in Johannesburg in two weeks’ time, Matesepe-Casaburri said she had taken a policy decision to support “the application of open, non-discriminatory and affordable access to these networks”.Electronic communicationsThe new Electronic Communications Act, with its references to “essential facilities” would regulate access by local operators to international communications networks.To support this non-discriminatory access, Matsepe-Casaburri announced her backing of the use of special purpose vehicles (SPVs) as a business model for the development, ownership and maintenance of the cross-border terrestrial and submarine cable segments of these networks.South Africa’s mobile operators would now be invited to participate in the project, she said, adding that the self-help principle of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development had won the day.The Electronic Communications Act has been signed by the president and gazetted, with a date yet to be determined for it to take effect in law.Source: BuaNews Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Zim hand Bafana 2-1 friendly defeat

first_img11 September 2013Zimbabwe handed a mostly South African-based Bafana Bafana a 2-1 beating in an international friendly at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday evening.In fact, 18 of the players on the pitch at the start of the contest ply their trade in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). Goalkeeper Darren Keet was the only South African who plays his football outside of the country.CHANThe line-up revealed, perhaps, some of coach Gordon Igesund’s thinking ahead of next year’s African Nations Championships (CHAN), which take place in South Africa from 11 January to 1 February.The event will feature national teams made up of only home-based players. In the Zimbabwean match, however, Igesund was unable to select any players from Orlando Pirates, who were not considered because of club commitments.Perhaps, with the Buccaneers’ players playing in their backyard, the result might have been different, but Zimbabwe were full value for their victory.Scoring chanceThe Warriors took the game to Bafana Bafana and created a scoring chance in the very first minute, but Kaizer Chiefs striker Knowledge Musona fired high over the bar.Keet was then called on to deny Kingston Nkhatha by racing off his line to deny the Amakhosi’s man run onto a long ball.Khama Billiat enjoyed a fine game and was a constant thorn in the home team’s side. He came close with a long range effort, but was just off target.After good build-up play, Bernard Parker had a chance for Bafana Bafana 10 minutes from the break, but the Zimbabwean defence scrambled and conceded a corner.Reneilwe Letsholonyane then put in a good run, but the linesman blew the call and flagged him for being offsides.LeadFive minutes into the second half, the Warriors took the lead from a corner. After bringing the ball down smartly off his chest, Musona blasted the ball past Keet, with a powerful left-footed volley that left the goalkeeper helpless.Billiat posed another question when he tried to set Nkhatha up, but Keet was aware of the danger and came out quickly to snuff it out.Parker might have levelled for South Africa, but his header was off target, passing to the right of Washington Arubi’s goal.Tsepo Masilela narrowly missed out on scoring his first goal for Bafana Bafana in the 74th minute, but his shot frustratingly passed just over the bar.Wrong callZimbabwe should have taken a 2-0 lead 10 minutes from time, but Musona was blown up for being offside. Replays suggested the linesman got it wrong again.The match passed into time added on and four minutes after the regulation 90 Cuthbert Malajila put the Warriors two goals ahead after being set up by Nkhata, whose work left the Sundowns’ man needing only a tap-in to score.Parker snatched a late consolation goal for South Africa with a shot from distance, but there was no time left to find a second goal and Zimbabwe claimed the spoils 2-1.last_img read more

Tiger Woods and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn break up

first_imgPro golfer Tiger Woods and US Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn have broken up after a nearly three-year relationship, the pair said on Sunday.Vonn, 30, used her Facebook page to announce the split before Woods confirmed it on his website.”After nearly three years together, Tiger and I have mutually decided to end our relationship,” Vonn said.”I will always cherish the memories that we’ve created together. Unfortunately, we both lead incredibly hectic lives that force us to spend a majority of our time apart.””I will always admire and respect Tiger. He and his beautiful family will always hold a special place in my heart.”Woods, 39, confirming the breakup, said, “I have great admiration, respect and love for Lindsey and I’ll always cherish our time together. She has been amazing with (daughter) Sam and (son) Charlie and my entire family.””Unfortunately, we lead very hectic lives and are both competing in demanding sports. It’s difficult to spend time together.”Woods, a four-times Masters tournament champion, and Vonn, a four-time World Cup ski champion and Olympic gold medalist, announced in 2013 that they were a couple and were routinely seen as spectators at each other’s sporting events.Both went through long recoveries from injuries that prevented them from competing in their respective sports. Woods played at this year’s Masters and is due to compete at the Players Championship this month in Florida.Vonn returned from knee surgery to break the record for most World Cup ski championship wins by a woman. Woods, 39, has been single since a 2010 divorce from former Swedish model Elin Nordegren, which occurred less than a year after the golfer became embroiled in an infidelity scandal that rocked the sports world.advertisementMore than a dozen women said they had affairs with Woods, and the golfer admitted to “transgressions.”Companies including Accenture Plc, AT&T and PepsiCo’s Gatorade ended their sponsorship deals with Woods in the wake of the scandal.last_img read more

10 Ways to Instantly Amplify the Social Proof of Your Marketing

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Apr 17, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 An individual’s purchasing decision can be influenced by a large number of factors. Are you considering how influential social proof can be in that mix? According to Goog le , 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. Furthermore, a CompUSA and iPerceptions study revealed that 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.While product reviews are only one type of social proof, those are some pretty persuasive statistics to consider. It demonstrates that people can heavily influenced by others’ experiences, making a case for why social proof is such a powerful concept for businesses to leverage. Are you giving the social proof of your business the visibility it deserves? In this post, we’ll lay out exactly what social proof is, discuss the various types, and explain the ways you can leverage it in your business’ marketing efforts. What Is Social Proof? ‘ Social proof ,’ also referred to as ‘informational social influence,’ is the concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior. In other words, it’s the mentality that, if other people are doing it, and I trust those people, that’s validation that I should also be doing it. This third-party validation can be a very powerful motivator for your site visitors’ and prospects’ actions. Social Proofcenter_img Topics: Night clubs and bars limiting entry, making patrons wait in line outside to increase the perception that the venue is popular to attract more passersby.TV shows playing canned laughter or recorded applause to elevate the perception of funny or applaudable situations.McDonald’s fast-food restaurants displaying signs boasting “Billions and Billions Served.”So while the concept of social proof may be nothing new, the rise of the internet and social media adoption have certainly made social proof a lot easier to leverage and exploit, especially in a marketing context. Building and providing better visibility for your business’ social proof can be a powerful addition to your marketing strategy . 5 Categories of Social Proof As I mentioned, reviews aren’t the only marketing tool that can be classified as social proof. In an article about social proof , TechCrunch clearly identified 5 different categories of social proof: Expert Social Proof: Approval from a credible expert, such as an industry blogger or other authority Celebrity Social Proof: Approval or endorsements from celebrities, especially those that are unpaid  User Social Proof: Approval from current users of the product/service, such as customer testimonials, case studies, and those all-powerful reviews ‘Wisdom of the Crowds’ Social Proof: Approval from large groups of other people (Our traditional examples above would fit nicely into this category of social proof.) ‘Wisdom of Your Friends’ Social Proof: Approval from your friends or people you know Now let’s discuss the various types of social proof your business has at its disposal, and how to surface them for marketing purposes. You might actually be surprised to find out that you have more social proof than you thought!  10 Types of Social Proof for Marketing 1) Social Media Mentions Regularly monitoring your social media presence can be a great way to source social proof, especially User Social Proof, on a regular and ongoing basis. Incorporate mechanisms to surface some of these instances of social proof into your day-to-day monitoring activities. If you’re using a third-party tool like HootSuite or HubSpot’s social media monitoring , you can track mentions of your products or services and surface any positive mentions you find.HubSpot’s social media marketing team, for example, stars any positive HubSpot brand and product mentions on Twitter as favorites, which can be viewed in the HubSpot Twitter account’s ‘Favorites.’ 2) Embedded Tweets Speaking of Twitter, have you played around with Twitter’s new embeddable tweets feature? If someone tweets something positive about you, now you can embed that tweet on your product or case study pages (or elsewhere) to add credibility and emphasize User Social Proof.Here’s a step-by-step guide to using Twitter’s embeddable tweets feature to help you get started, and below is what an embedded tweet looks like:@ HubSpot is the the best thing to have landed in New England since Tom Brady— Ted Engel (@iamtedE) April 6, 2012 3) Social Plugins Consider adding Facebook social plugins such as the Activity Feed, the Recommendations Plugin, the Like Box, and the Facepile Plugin to your website and blog content. These plugins put social proof at the forefront, showing site visitors thumbnail images and/or names of people they know who have already liked, recommended, subscribed to, shared, commented on, etc. the content the plugin is installed on. 4) Social Media Sharing/Follow Buttons Social sharing is a form of social proof, so make it simple and easy for your fans, followers, subscribers, etc. to share your content. Include social media sharing and follow links/buttons on all your content — on every blog post, every landing page, every page of your ebooks — everywhere! When you make it easy for people to share the content they love, there’s a better chance they’ll actually share it, expanding the reach of your content and spreading social proof for your business. For social game service provider Zynga, for example , friends inviting friends to play through Facebook and other social networks helped the company grow from 3 million to 41 million average daily users in just one year . 5) Case Studies & Testimonials Another great form of user social proof, publishing case studies and testimonials allows you to highlight the positive experiences of your happiest/most successful/passionate customers.Consider the various ways you can identify and feature your best customers. Connect with your customer service team and ask them to alert you whenever they come across a particularly happy customer. Then approach them for a testimonial or case study. At HubSpot, for example, we feature customer case studies on our case studies blog , feature user testimonials here , as well as showcase customer love through our ” I HubSpot Because ” campaign:    6) User-Generated Content User-generated content such as blog posts, photos, and even video can be another fantastic form of user social proof. Usually crafted by your brand’s biggest fans, this content is often very genuine, enthusiastic, and positive. Video user testimonials on YouTube, for example , generated 3x the conversion rate vs. organic traffic for Beachbody, the makers of P90x fitness.Consider holding a user-generated content contest, and feature the best submissions on your website, blog, and via social media. 7) User Reviews & Ratings User reviews and rating systems can be found on review sites such as Yelp, within social networks (LinkedIn Reviews is a great example), or particularly in the case of ecommerce businesses, implemented directly on your website. And according to Harvard Business Review research , a 1-star increase in Yelp rating leads to 5-9% growth in sales. To encourage more positive reviews on third-party review sites, check out this helpful guide to accumulating awesome online reviews . 8) Social Advertising One of the most recent internet-based applications of social proof is in social advertising, or ads that leverage the social context of the user viewing them. In other words, in social advertising, the marketer targets users based on what they know about that individual’s social network. Promoted Tweets and various Facebook Engagement and Sponsored Stories ads are great examples of social advertising, which enable marketers to better target their advertising efforts and leverage ‘Wisdom of Your Friends’ or ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ Social Proof in advertising efforts, as seen in the example at right.To experiment with Facebook’s social advertising functionality, check out our free ebook on creating effective Facebook ads (no form submission required!). 9) User Statistics This form of social proof, which falls under the category of ‘wisdom of the crowd’ social proof, can be leveraged by surfacing such user statistics as blog subscribers, customer install base, user successes, etc. What are some of your business’ most impressive stats? Do you have an impressive install base (remember our McDonald’s example)? Is your blog subscribership something to brag about? Have you been in business for decades? Have your customers collectively accomplished something impressive?For example, HubSpot customers generated a grand total of 12.4 million leads in 2011, which is testament to the effectiveness of the HubSpot software — and a stat we were sure to include in the 2011 HubSpot Year in Review . 10) Media & Blog Mentions That’s right — media mentions are definitely a form of Expert Social Proof, so be sure you’re giving that PR coverage the attention it deserves! Keep your press room up-to-date and make it more social so people can easily find and share your positive press with their networks.To learn how to ramp up your media and blogger relations efforts to get more coverage, check out this blog post . Leverage Social Proof Everywhere Now that you know about the various social proof tools at your disposal, leverage them! Promote all those awesome testimonials, user statistics, tweets, etc. using your social media channels, sprinkle them throughout your website and blog, and create dedicated pages on your website to house certain types of social proof such as case studies, reviews, and testimonials. Use them in product marketing collateral, on landing pages, and in email marketing communications. After all, social proof will only be effective if you give it visibility.   Are you giving your business’ social proof the visibility it deserves? Image Credit: deadserpents , wfyurasco last_img read more

11 Great Ways to ‘Get Personal’ in Your Email Marketing

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Let’s be real: no one really enjoys feeling like they’re being marketed to. So as a marketer, that’s why it’s your job to create an experience that makes your prospects feel like you’re speaking to their specific needs and offering them a product or services that adds value to their lives.When it comes to email marketing , the best way to make this possible is through personalization. But how exactly do you make your email marketing ‘personal’? Below are some best practices that will set you off on the right foot in creating more personalized emails that get more opens and clicks. Before You Email 1. Create customer personas. In order to better personalize your emails, the first thing you’ll need to do is understand the characteristics of the people you’re targeting.  Having well thought out buyer personas , the visions of your ideal customers, is crucial, because it will influence how you target your audience. As you’re crafting your personas, think about your best customers’ demographic information, job level, specific pain points, and their goals. You can read more about developing strong buyer personas in this blog post . You may find that you have 3, 10, or more of these ideal customers, and knowing them will enable you to start segmenting your emails . 2. Ask the right questions on your forms. Now armed with an understanding of your buyer personas, you can start asking questions on your landing page forms that will help you begin gathering the information you need to help you segment your leads. Ask yourself, what are the characteristics of each persona? Further, what information will help your sales team sell?Knowing factors like business size, revenue, location, B2B or B2C, job title, etc. can be very insightful when you craft the language and content in the marketing messages that you send. For the marketing team at HubSpot, for example, it’s important for us to know the size of contact’s business, because the marketing challenges of a 5-person company are much different than those of a 5,000-person company. 3. Gather information from outside sources. In addition to what you gather from your lead-capture forms, it’s also important to collect additional information from sources like social media and your CRM. This information may include lead intelligence such as a contact’s social media usernames on Twitter and LinkedIn as well as behavioral information such as what types of content they’ve downloaded on your website, what emails you’ve sent them in the past, or whether they’ve spoken to a sales rep. Ideally, if your CRM system and your marketing software are integrated, you can automate this process .Once you have these types of information, you can use it to create better segments. For example, you might choose to send a different message to contacts who use Twitter (perhaps to offer them some kind of Twitter-only promotion) than you would to people who don’t have Twitter accounts. Additionally, you would probably send one message to lead who has already spoken with a sales rep, and a totally different message to a lead who has not yet been contacted by Sales. 4. Segment, segment, segment! Now that you’ve painstakingly gathered all this information, it’s time to use it! At HubSpot, we like to use the phrase “segment of one” to describe ideal targeting. Remember, nobody like feeling like a “lead.” Your prospects want to feel like they’re being spoken to as — and actually engaging with — a real person. Slice and dice your list into smaller sub-lists using  specific criteria ( here are 27 real ways you can do it ) so you can craft personalized, targeted emails that better speak to all the different types of contacts you have in your email database. In fact, in new data released for the upcoming Science of Email Marketing webinar , HubSpot found that marketers with only one email list generated a lower average click-through rate (7.3%) than marketers who segmented their overall email database into 2 to 6 lists (8.3%) .HubSpot, for example, markets and sells our product to wide variety of marketers. The messaging that we use when speaking to enterprise-sized companies is very different from our messaging to small businesses. Furthermore, the offers we promote to B2C, ecommerce businesses are different from the offers we use for B2B companies. 5. Position your offers specifically for that segment. Remember, the content and language you use within the email itself is just as important as the effort you put into segmenting your sends in the first place. That’s why you need to make sure that when you’re emailing a certain segment, the offers you promote — and the language you use to promote them — align with the interests and needs of that particular segment.To give you a real-life example, here at HubSpot, our general software demo landing page generally only generates a 7% conversion rate on average. But recently, we created an automated follow-up campaign promoting the demo to a very specific segment of our leads. Because we adjusted the language in the follow-up campaign specifically for that segment, we saw a 25% conversion rate for that group on the exact same landing page. The takeaway here? When you target a very specific group of leads, it’s much more effective to craft a message that will resonate well with that particular group. Getting the message right means better conversions. In Your Email 6. Use a real reply-to email address. The whole reason you’re sending a prospect an email is to engage them and get them to respond, so why would you use [email protected] as the reply-to address in your emails? Using a real person’s name like [email protected] will not only help to make your emails more recognizable and credible, but it will increase your open rate and also make your email feel more personal. The best possible approach is to use a dynamically populating email address, so that the email comes directly from the sales rep or the person who is assigned to the contact you’re emailing in your CRM system. (If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can do this with HubSpot’s new email marketing tools .) 7. Customize the sender name .For the same reason, you’ll want to make sure that you customize the sender name in the email. In a best-case scenario, use the name of the lead’s sales rep owner. Short of that, try to use a name that a lead might recognize, like a well-known person in your marketing department, or even your CEO. In fact, according to an A/B test conducted by our own marketing team at HubSpot, we found that emails sent by a real person are more likely to be clicked on than emails sent from a company name. 8. Add personal information to the body of the email. Whenever it makes sense, you should use personalized information inside the email. As a good marketer, you’ve spent time and energy colleting rich information like about your leads like their name, industry, etc., and including that information in your email body will make your emails feel even more personal.For example, if you’re sending a follow-up email to someone who downloaded one of your ebooks, you can start off the email by saying, “Thanks for downloading !” Using dynamic tags within your email marketing tool can make this possible. Note: There are conflicting reports on whether or not customizing your email subject lines leads to higher or lower open rates. The common belief today is that you should not personalize your subject lines; however, I would recommend that any marketer test this out with their own leads. After Your Email 9. Keep your sales team up-to-date. As a marketer, it’s important to coordinate with Sales. The last thing you want is for your leads to get duplicate or competing emails from your marketing team and their individual sales rep. Be sure your sales team is aware of the various types of email communication your prospects are receiving. This can easily be done using a CRM.Additionally, once you’ve handed off your leads to Sales, you need to make sure that they can access the lead intelligence and email history you’ve captured and documented for your leads, and help them understand how to use that information to advance the sales process . This is why it’s extremely important to integrate your marketing database, email system, and CRM.  10. Keep track of who has opened and clicked. Tracking opens and clicks are not only your way of knowing how well your emails are performing, but they are also a powerful way to further personalize email content for your prospects. If you can track opens and clicks for each email that you’ve sent to your prospects, you can easily start building a profile of what types of content each prospect is interested in receiving from you. For example, if you see that a prospect has opened all of your emails relating to webinars, then you can assume they would be a good candidate to receive your email promotions for future webinars. 11. Think about when someone last received an email. Don’t over-email your list. Know when you last emailed your contacts, and create blocked (suppression) lists that prevent prospects you’ve recently emailed from getting too many messages. To help you find your sweet spot, this article will help you determine the right email frequency for your prospects . These tips and best practices will help improve any marketer’s email open and click-through rates. What other tips and suggestions do you have for improving email personalization? Email Newsletters Originally published Jun 11, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017last_img read more

How to Install Custom Fonts on Your Computer [Quick Tip]

first_imgSo you’ve hunted around on the internet to find a custom font you love and want to use in your marketing … now what? Good news: the hard part’s over — you’ve found a font you love. (If you are still looking, check out this post of free fonts to download.) Bad news: so many people get stuck trying to figure out how to start using that lovely font they’ve just discovered, that they give up and settle for Comic Sans (yikes).But take heart! You’re only a few quick steps away from outfitting your next SlideShare, infographic, or whatever it is you’re making with the fabulous new font.Here’s how to install a font on your computer in just a few minutes. Note, these screenshots were taken with specific operating software versions, but the process to install them on other versions should be very similar.  How to Install Fonts on a Mac1) Shut down any program you want to use the font in.Make sure you’re completely shutting down each program, not just hitting the exit button. 2) Download the font to your computer and extract files if necessary.Font files may have a .zip, .otf, or .ttf file extension. If it’s a .zip file, you’ll need to extract the compressed files by double clicking on the file — your Archive Utility will automatically unzip the file. 3) Right click on each font you’d like to add, then choose “Open.” 3) Open Font Book. 4) Select the fonts in your Downloads folder you want to install and drag them to Font Book.5) Open up the program you’d like to use and the font will be there. How to Install Fonts on a PC1) Shut down any program you want to use the font in.2) Download the font to your computer and open zip files if necessary.It may have a .zip, .otf, or .ttf file extension. If it’s a .zip file, you’ll need to extract the compressed files by double clicking on the file — your computer will automatically unzip the file and open the folder inside. Originally published Jun 5, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Topics:center_img 4) Once open, click “Install” to add the font to your computer. 5) Open up the program you’d like to use and the font will be there.And voila! You’re ready to use the font in any program on your computer.Easy as pie, right? What other little nagging how-tos would you like to read a quick tip post on? Leave your ideas with us in the comments — we’ll be sure to give you a shout out if we write about it!Image credit: kpwerker Font Selection Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Blog SEO for the Modern Marketer: How to Optimize Your Posts

first_img Topics: Originally published Oct 9, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated April 12 2018 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack With Google making 10 algorithm changes in the last four months and keyword data getting harder to come by, it may be ideal for marketers to take a step back and get back to SEO basics.Despite the revolving door of new algorithms and search engine policies, the fundamentals of getting your content found have remained pretty consistent.Access Now: 22 SEO Myths to Leave Behind This YearSo, let’s save the hand-wringing and future-predicting for another day and keep it simple. Here’s what you need to know to optimize your blog posts for search.Turn Keyword Research Into Blog TopicsNo company can rank for everything (believe me, we’ve tried). Therefore, the best SEO strategy is to focus on a few key phrases or topics that are critical to your company.Start with a topic you really want to rank well for — in our case, it might be “inbound marketing.” Then, put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customers (or better yet, interview a few). What would they search for that would bring them to your doorstep? What questions or challenges do they have that you can help address? People are increasingly using full sentences or long phrases to find the content they need. With the proliferation of content, a simple search for “cars,” for example, is not going to get searchers the results they need. Thus, searches have become far more detailed and specific — “what to know before buying a car,” “most trustworthy Volvo dealerships near Boston,” and so forth.As a result of these more complex searches, Google has actually changed its algorithm to better fit conversational questions from searchers. This is good news for blogs, which are designed by nature to be educational, answer questions, and provide background info. It’s also good news because identifying these questions can give you a veritable hit list of search-friendly posts to write. Optimize Blog Post Headlines and URLsOnce you have your list of blog posts, you’ll want to make sure you’ve optimized the headlines. Keywords do best when they’re at the front of the headline. So, for example, if we’re trying to rank our content to appear for searches about inbound marketing: “Inbound Marketing: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started” will do better than “Everything You Need to Know to Get Started With Inbound Marketing.”Keywords are important, but you also want to write the sort of headline that is likely to get clicked and shared frequently. The frequency with which a piece of content gets shared can positively impact its ranking on search engine result pages. In fact, in recent years, social elements have been increasingly important to search. We’ll touch upon that more below in the Social Search section.You might want to test different headlines to see what style or format generates the most activity for you. One of the reasons list headlines, like “10 Reasons You Should Have Your Cake and Eat it Too,” are so common online is that they tend to attract more clicks.Don’t force your content to fit a common practice, though. Instead, try out different headline structures. You may find that questions or humor work best for generating clicks and shares on social media. Additionally, keep your headlines short — ideally, under 65 characters — so that they don’t get truncated in search engine results.In addition to the title, search engines use the words in a page’s URL to determine if it’s relevant to the search at-hand. So if you are able to edit the structure of your URLs, it’s imperative to make sure that you’re including keywords there too.The URL serves as a nice backup for your headline in optimizing for keywords. You may decide that you want to be a bit more creative with your headline to generate more interest as the post gets promoted across your marketing channel. If you do that, a good URL structure can help.The same rules apply for positioning the keywords in your URL. Keep keywords early and separate them by dashes. The URL hubspot.com/inbound-marketing is more effective than hubspot.com/inboundmarketing.Create SEO-Friendly Links and Anchor TextWhen search engine spiders crawl your blog, they don’t read every word. Instead, they scan for certain parts of your post: the headline, subheaders, alt-text of images, and anchor text. Anchor text is the word or phrase you highlight when you insert a hyperlink. Choosing the right words to hyperlink can help add some important SEO value.In addition to choosing the right words, you want to think about the placement of those words.  If you link to the same internal page multiple times in a single blog post, make sure you optimize the first occurrence of that link. Typically, search engines will rely more heavily on the first instance of anchor text for a given link than subsequent instances. SEO and analytics company Moz has a great post and illustration that explains this practice. So whenever you use your blog to link to other content on your site, make sure that the first reference point includes the best keywords.  You also want to ensure you’re linking to the right pages. Instead of dispersing your links and anchor text to a number of different pages, It may be better to point all of your traffic and internal links to a pillar page that is already ranking so you can further advance its SEO weight. You can learn more about this strategy in our SEO training.(Tip for HubSpot Users: If you use HubSpot to blog, you’ll see a real-time update of how many important keywords you’ve included in your post. Clicking on one of those keywords will show a listing of pages on your site that already rank for it. This means you can use your anchor text to drive traffic and hopefully improve where your rank in search results.)Below is a list of pages on our website that rank for the phrase “keyword data.” One page currently ranks fifth on Google for that keyword phrase. The other two pages rank much lower. We could drive traffic to the second and third pages on that list, but it probably would be a waste.Moving a page from a rank of 100+ to a rank of 99 doesn’t help much, since most clicks on search engine results pages go to the first few. Choosing to point our internal links to that high-ranking page and possibly moving it from fifth-highest to fourth-highest, however, would have a huge impact.What About Tags? Are They Good for SEO?Tags are good when applied judiciously, but they can actually be harmful if overused. As Joost de Valk of Yoast explains:”One of the most common issues we encounter on sites in our website reviews is the overuse of tags. Note that a tag in and of itself does not improve your SEO. The only way it improves your SEO is by relating one piece of content to another, and, more specifically, a group of posts to each other.”Because each tag creates a separate aggregative page, some SEO experts argue that having too many similar tags on your content — for example, having “email,” “email marketing,” and “emailing” — can come across to search engines as duplicate content and end up getting you penalized.Due to this, be smart about your blog tags. Don’t create a tag for something you don’t need to rank for and don’t introduce synonym tags for the same content.To start, choose a set of keywords for which your blog should rank — roughly 15-25 keywords should be good. Then, make it clear what those tags are to anyone who blogs for you. Advise them not to introduce new tags unless you commonly write on the topic and it’s not addressed in your initial list.If you have an existing blog and you’ve already discovered you have way too many similar tags, you can improve your SEO by starting to organize and clean them out.HubSpot’s blogging software allows you to easily group or re-categorize tags whenever you need to. If you use WordPress, there is a collection of plugins that can help you with that too. (Note: I haven’t tried any of the WordPress plugins, so I can’t speak to their effectiveness.)Learn About Social SearchSocial search is an evolving term for the way in which search engines factor a user’s social network into how results are displayed after a search query.In social search, content that has a social connection to you in some way is prioritized. A social connection could mean someone you are linked to via Facebook, Twitter, or any other major social network. Alternately, some forms of social search prioritize content that has been shared by social media influencers, even if those experts aren’t directly tied to you.Further, content that is shared more on social media does better on search rankings because it naturally increases the number of inbound links and traffic to your pages. The best way to optimize your blog posts for social search is to make sure that you are integrating social elements to it. Social sharing icons have become standard on most blogs. They make it easy for a reader to quickly share your content across their network.If you’ve got a particularly salient point in the body of your post, you can add a link after that encourages your readers to Tweet it out with a link back to your post. We did so in this post with each data point and saw great results in terms of the virality of the content. Click to Tweet is a great free service that makes this easy.Also, if you have author bios for your bloggers, encourage them to link up their individual social media accounts, particularly their Google+ accounts. Doing so will improve how your posts look on search engine ranking pages by adding an image from Google+ to the listing.In the example below, the HubSpot post is listed with an author picture, whereas the Mashable post is just text. Even though the HubSpot post is lower in the rankings, the addition of the author picture can help grab attention and generate clicks. Focus on Mobile OptimizationA stat some marketers may not know: 15 percent of all internet search traffic is driven by mobile devices today. Because of this, Google has actually begun to deprioritize websites and blogs that aren’t mobile optimized in search rankings when a search is conducted on a mobile device.That’s important.It means that even if you’ve done everything right to optimize your content, you still may not be findable for the growing number of people who search and read content online. That’s a shame, as mobile users have been shown to be more action-oriented than their desktop counterparts.You can take a preview of how your blog currently looks on multiple mobile devices over in HubSpot Device Labs. This tool will show you an emulation of your site on different iPhone, Android, and tablet devices. You’ll also get an estimate of the average amount of traffic driven by those devices.Google recommends optimizing your website using some form of responsive design. (HubSpot’s blogging software uses Twitter Bootstrap for responsive design). Any mobile-optimized website will fare better on mobile search results than non-optimized versions.The strategy of search engine optimization changes frequently, but some things will always come naturally to it. Create content that provides value and answers search queries that people need addressed. Be relevant, shareable, and useful and the search rank will follow.Have you seen greater success implementing these SEO best practices for your blog? Tell us about it in the comments below! Blog Optimizationlast_img read more

Quiz: Can You Guess the Brands Behind These 16 Slogans?

first_imgThis post originally appeared on Agency Post. To read more content like this, subscribe to Agency Post.A few well-chosen words is often all that is needed for a consumer to recall a favorite brand. But today, marketers and advertisers tend to rely on visual cues — a font, a color, a spokesperson, or even an icon — to inspire.Consider this: What phrase do you associate with Nike? Would the brand symbolize the same attitude without their famous “Just Do It” tagline?There is power in right words. But if you still don’t believe me, take our quiz below. Can you guess the brands behind these famous taglines and slogans? And how do these phrases change the way you think about each company?Free Download: Slogan Writing Guide and Examples 5) Believe In Your Smellf. 16) When you care enough to send the very best. Topics: 9) Behold the power of cheese. 12) Play. Laugh. Grow. 11) Does she or doesn’t she? Read How to Write a Great Value Proposition [Infographic]. 10) Get your own box. 1)The happiest place on earth.(Click below to reveal the brand.)2) Life’s Messy, Clean It Up. 4) Betcha can’t eat just one.center_img Originally published Feb 1, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated April 18 2018 6) The taste of a new generation.7) A Passion For the Road. 14) Don’t dream it. Drive it. 8) We know money. 3) Leave the driving to us. 15) Let your fingers do the walking. 13) The best a man can get. Brand Slogans Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more