Updated: Apr 28

Do you use hashtags on your LinkedIn posts? Should you?

Over the last week, we polled our audience on LinkedIn to get their perspective on whether they’ve added hashtags into their LinkedIn approach, and the overwhelming majority now have, according to the over 3,000 people that took part.



But still, 15% have not – so the question is should you bother using hashtags on your LinkedIn posts, and are hashtags actually helping to improve your content performance?


As a quick refresh, LinkedIn actually supported hashtags back in 2013, before deactivating them for several years due to lack of usage, the re-instating support again in 2016. Given the platform’s own shifts on such, it makes sense that questions remain as to whether people should or shouldn’t use them, but over the last couple of years, in particular, LinkedIn’s worked to put more emphasis on hashtags as a connective tool, in helping to show users more relevant content, and helping brands link-into niche interests.


For example, users can now manage their followed hashtags as a means to control their news feed, while company pages can also attach themselves to certain tags via the ‘Community Hashtags’ feature, which then enables you to post as your brand in related discussions.

We actually spoke with LinkedIn about hashtag use on the platform last year, and they recommended these key practices:

  • Use them correctly - Be sure to include the # sign before any keyword or phrase. Avoid any spaces, punctuation, special symbols or emojis

  • Don’t overdo it - We recommend using no more than three hashtags per post, and leveraging both broad and niche hashtags for increased exposure

  • Do your research - Before including a hashtag, type it into the LinkedIn search bar to make sure it has strong usage in order to connect you to the most relevant audiences.

  • Go niche - Try going as specific as possible for increased exposure (#TED2021 vs. #marketing)

So we have some insight here into optimal hashtag use on LinkedIn, direct from LinkedIn itself, as well as some helpful tips on how to find the right tags for your posts.


But do they actually help?


It’s hard to say. In our experience, posting to the SMT page, we haven’t seen a significant boost in traffic from LinkedIn as a result of using hashtags. We add two hashtags to every post, and in comparing our referral traffic numbers, the results are relatively steady over the past two years, if not lower last year than previous, while we’ve been adding tags.


Of course, it also depends on your focus – we’re generally focused on referral traffic, and we measure that over in-app performance, so it’s possible that while we may not be driving a heap more clicks, we could be generating more discussion on LinkedIn as a result of linking into certain tags. Certainly, our LinkedIn follower count has increased over time, and that can have its own benefits. But results will vary, and the only way to know for sure what the best hashtag approach is for your audience is to take baseline performance measurements, then test for 3-6 months, or more, to see if any changes you make impact those numbers.


If you’re looking for further LinkedIn hashtag insight, you can test out the tags that LinkedIn recommends below each of your posts in the composer, while you can also search for hashtags in the app to glean more insight into how many followers each has and other, related tags.


LinkedIn also recommends following LinkedIn Editor Dan Roth’s Creator Weekly newsletter, in which he regularly shares trending topics on the platform, which could highlight new hashtag opportunities.


The consensus, based on our poll, would suggest that you should be using hashtags, but our recommendation is to conduct a more conclusive test of your own to measure their effectiveness. And maybe, as the new year is shifting into gear, now is the right time to try them out and see what results you get.


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Updated: Apr 28

The phrase “marketing plan” can mean many things, from your social media/ad campaign schedule to your lead nurture pipeline to your overall strategic goals. Ideally, you’ll bring all these tactics together in a cohesive strategy. And this will become your capital-letter Marketing Plan!


This can be a daunting task, especially if you want to grow or scale up your (or your client’s) business. It’s always better to plan first, take action second! Especially if you want to optimize your budget, as you likely do.


With that said, let’s explore the core elements of a strong marketing plan — step by step.



What is a Marketing Plan, and What Does It Include?


No two marketing plans are alike. Depending on your industry, business model, and target audience, you’ll have your own mix of channels, goals, and brand alignment tactics. However, most marketing plans have 9 key sections that will guide your strategy.


Your Business’s Marketing Goals

What’s the point of planning if not to meet (and surpass!) your goals? The foundation of your marketing plan comprises your business’s main initiatives — at least with regard to marketing.


Determine what you’d like to achieve in terms of brand-building. Is it paid advertising, social media growth, website visitors? And so on. The SMART framework can help you structure these goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.


For example, “Get more followers on our business’s Twitter page” is not a well-defined goal. The SMART version might read: “Get 1,000 more Twitter followers by the end of Q2 2022.” You would then measure your follower growth at regular intervals until that deadline.


Don’t forget to declare the benefits of achieving this goal. This is where “relevant” comes in. Is your Twitter goal going to help you drive more web traffic? Establish your brand authority? Context is everything!


Target Customers

There are many ways to describe your target audience. As marketing is ultimately about connecting with potential customers, this is the bread-and-butter of your marketing strategy. No matter your industry or business model, you absolutely must know your audience before you try to reach them.


Many companies create a buyer “persona.” This is a hypothetical construct that describes your ideal customer. If your target audience comprises several distinct segments, you can create a unique persona for each one. The persona may include any of the following, depending on your industry and offering:

What is included?

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Geographic Location

  • Education

  • Profession/Industry

  • Favorite Hobbies and Social Activities

  • Worldview/Religious, Philosophical, or Political Views

  • Preferred Media, Social Channels, and Information Sources

  • Core Desires/Pain Points/Aspirations

As we’ll discuss in a moment, it’s especially important to know the last two. There’s no benefit in marketing your acne cream to those who don’t have acne or setting up a Facebook page if most of your audience is on TikTok or Snapchat.


Another model is the Ideal Customer Avatar aka Ideal Client Avatar (ICA), which is often used by service-based businesses. As the name suggests, this model describes the ideal person you’d like to reach — someone who is especially likely to seek and book your services. The ICA is often more easily defined after you’ve been in business for a while. That way, you can profile your most frequent customers.


Either way, when describing your target audience, it’s important to align them with your business’s overall market position. You likely defined this in your overall business plan. If not, or if you need to create a marketing plan for a client, consider which needs or wants the business fulfills. Then, reverse-engineer those desires into your persona.


All personas/avatars should meet these two qualifications:


(A) their primary goals, desires, and pain points could be solved by your business’s offering


(B) their interests, location, age, economic status, and social behavior put them in a position where they can encounter your business


For example, you can target health-conscious Gen Z college students all you want, but they likely aren’t willing or able to buy your home gym equipment. It isn’t worth your while to figure out how to market to them.


On the flip side, be sure that you’re aligning your persona with your market position. You may think that middle-aged homeowners earning six figures are your ICA, but actually, your offering better suits millennial renters who need fitness equipment that doesn’t require modifying the house.


Marketing Plan Example: ICA and Persona Marketing Templates

Here’s a handy grid for mapping out your ideal client/customer avatar.

And here’s a marketing plan template for your target persona:


Competitor Analysis

It’s not business without competition. There will always be other companies clamoring for the same target customers that you’re seeking. The good news is, there are several ways to make your brand distinctive — and they all start with understanding your competitors top-to-bottom.


You likely defined your competitors in your business plan, but they’re worth another look specifically for your marketing strategy. Someone who may seem like a hot competitor on paper may have a weak social media presence — which would allow you to gain dominance in that regard. By the same token, a company with lackluster products may still claim the lion’s share if they can beat you in advertising. (For example, many retailers face a constant battle with a certain river-themed eCommerce site.)


When evaluating your competitors, make note of their successes, drawbacks, and limitations. Look for gaps you can fill or audience segments/marketing channels where you can gain an advantage. Here are some questions to ask about each competitor:

  • What’s their website/digital presence like, in terms of style, engagement, and activity level?

  • How does their ideal audience differ from mine? (e.g., their ICA is a working mom, while your target audience includes all moms)

  • Are they relying on outbound tactics (e.g., paid ads, cold messaging, PR) or inbound tactics (e.g., social videos, lead magnets, viral campaigns)?

  • Who seems to be interacting with their social media, and how do those people compare to my ICA?

Take notes on any confusing or underdeveloped aspects of their brand presence, especially if those would be annoying to your shared ICA. By fulfilling your target audience’s needs, you can position yourself as a more compelling brand. For example, your competitor may also be targeting eco-minded beauty fans — but none of their makeup product pages list the ingredients. If you do so, you’ll immediately align your website with your ICA’s prevailing concerns about that.


 

Marketing Plan Example: Competitor Analysis

Here’s a handy table to evaluate your competitor’s advantages and drawbacks.


SWOT Analysis

Your SWOT analysis is an honest look at your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Again, you likely did this in your business plan, but let’s revisit SWOT for marketing (or on behalf of your client).


Once you’ve analyzed your competitors (which are part of your threats), you should have a good idea of how your business’s strengths can put you at an advantage. Codify those strengths in terms of your marketing presence. Will you be able to produce high-value social content? Run affordable ads on low-competition keywords? Identifying these strengths will help you prioritize your marketing strategies.


Be honest about your weaknesses as well. Is your marketing budget too tight to invest in paid advertising? If so, consider how your strengths could help tweak your strategy (e.g., you have good customer data that you can use for retargeting campaigns). Is your brand identity a bit muddled? If so, how can you clarify your value and purpose to your audience?


Opportunities may include digital channels that you could dominate for your target audience and new technology that will make your campaigns more efficient. You should also consider whether certain channels or tactics are giving you a good ROI. If not, these could also be “threats” to your marketing success.


Marketing Plan Example: SWOT

Here’s a handy table to help identify your business’s or client’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.


Market Strategy

Once you’ve assessed your target audience, competitors, ideal channels, and positioning, it’s time to put it all together. The market strategy portion of your marketing plan guides your overall campaigns and tactics. It typically includes the “seven Ps of marketing,” which are:


Product: This is probably self-explanatory. Your “Product” is, of course, the core offering that you’re putting before your target audience. It should provide a solution to their most pressing desires and pain points.


Price: When setting your price point, consider how it aligns with your ICA’s preferences. Will they accept the cost for the value they receive? How do you present your offering’s value and price, and how does that compare to your competitors?


Place: When you created your personas, you should have identified where your ideal customers spend time, both physically and virtually. Which channels will help you get your product in front of them? Moreover, where are they most likely to buy? For example, your audience may be active on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean they’re amenable to shopping there. That’s why it’s crucial to understand each persona’s buying journey — especially if you’re implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy.


Positioning: Product, Price, and Place all feed into your market position, i.e., the specific niche you serve and the gaps you fill. The Positioning part of your market strategy defines the nexus of your offering, appeal, and overall value. It is crucial for distinguishing yourself from your competitors.


Promotion: “Promotion” describes how you get your product in front of your target audience. Are you focused on “interruptive” advertising, such as paid ads and sponsored content? Do you use salespeople or influencers? Again, these decisions entirely depend on your ideal customers, where they spend time, and how they make purchasing decisions.


People: You’ve spent a lot of time studying your potential customers. Now, shift the focus to your team. Who will perform the tasks in your marketing strategy? What are their proficiencies? How can they best fulfill their role? Too many business owners forget about this, and before long, they find their campaigns struggling because they didn’t procure the right designers, copywriters, sales reps, etc.


Packaging/Physical Evidence: You can say all you want about your brand, but if your presentation doesn’t jibe with your target audience, you’ll struggle to reach them. As the saying goes, an image is worth a thousand words. Your overall visual branding (product packaging, digital aesthetic, store design, etc.) plays a huge role in your marketing’s success. It creates recognizability, which, in turn, breeds trust and loyalty among your customers.


Helping Your Clients Create A Marketing Plan For Bigger Growth

When a client books your agency to help with marketing, they usually haven’t gone through all the steps above. Often, they’ve focused on their go-to-market plan rather than their marketing plan! Guiding them through the process can help them clarify their goals and identify new opportunities.


That said, don’t expect them to know all the marketing lingo and techniques. Instead, gather details about their target audience, ideal customers or clients, competitors, and goals. Having a conversation can be more illuminating than giving them a chart to fill out.

To reveal their strengths and weaknesses, ask some strategic questions:

  • Are there any sales tactics or marketing channels you feel aren’t delivering results?

  • Where are you spending the most money, and what is your return from that?

  • What questions and concerns do you hear most from your audience?

  • What aspects of your business do you feel people don’t understand?

  • Are there certain marketing or sales tasks that take up too much time?

Help your clients understand that the marketing plan is their roadmap to landing their best customers. Many business owners confuse marketing with development. While it supports their operations and sales, marketing is ultimately about building a strong brand — one that speaks to and attracts their ideal audience. A good marketing plan focuses on how to forge and sustain those connections.


Leverage the Power of Marketing Automation

Whether you’re developing a marketing plan for yourself or a client, you probably want to trim expenses as much as possible. Thanks to the rise of digital marketing, many effective tactics are much more affordable. However, marketing still requires a lot of time — and that can prevent your team from focusing on the strategy at hand!


Automation frees up your schedule and ensures accuracy. As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t require a human touch, let the bots do it. New marketing automation tools can handle everything from email drip sequences to social posting. This saves many hours and reduces the likelihood of errors and lost leads.


Plus, marketing automation reduces your overall campaign spending, which boosts your ROI and allows you to scale up your efforts. If you have backburnered your digital marketing due to budget concerns, look into automation as a way to run sustainable campaigns.

This benefit is something you can pass on to your clients, if applicable. Not only can you handle a higher campaign load but also deliver better results for clients. Check out our client plan for marketing automation to start leveraging this technology for your agency.


Wrapping Up

A marketing plan may seem like a lot of work — and honestly, it can be. However, it’s well worth your efforts so you can clarify your business’s or client’s value and effectively present it to your ideal audience. Plus, it can help you identify opportunities to refine your niche, avoid wasteful tactics, and close market gaps … all of which empower you to boost profitability for yourself or your client.


Want to see how V5 Digital can help your business grow?


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What do psychologists have in common with marketers? Well… a lot, actually. Both look at human behavior to help predict the actions that a person might take. One of the ways marketers have hacked psychology is through colour theory. In the following article, we’ll explore how colour theory can help you select the best colour schemes for email marketing.


How to Pick the Best Colors for Your Emails - V5 Digital
How to Pick the Best Colors for Your Emails

A 2014 study found that the color of a logo impacted how consumers responded to brands. Some colors made brands seem relatable while others made the brands seem modern or fun. Have you ever judged a brand simply by its logo? Then you’re already familiar with this concept!


Years of psychological experiments have proven that beyond being aesthetically pleasing, colors have an effect on our brains, especially our emotional responses. Color psychology explores this fact by researching how color influences human behavior and decision-making. Implementing color psychology in email marketing means paying attention to how different colors can impact the way buyers perceive a brand or marketing campaign.


Even though colors are very important in how a business is perceived, about 65% of small business owners admitted that they chose their logo colors based on personal taste and preference. While a complete re-brand might be out of the question, you can still be strategic about the colors you are working with to create more engaging email marketing.

We won’t dig into the fundamentals of color theory here, but let’s go over how to start incorporating it into your email marketing strategy right away.


How to Pick the Best Colors for Your Emails

Optimizing colors for your emails all comes back to your audience – no surprise there! When thinking about a color scheme, you’re not dissecting every pixel in your campaigns. Instead, color psychology in email marketing allows you to think more strategically about your call-to-actions (CTAs) and user experience (UX).


First, you’ll want to consider who you’re talking to. If your market is high-earning, older individuals, sticking with a more subdued, sophisticated palette makes sense. If your target audience is trend-focused, young shoppers then something in today’s trending colors would fit perfectly for them.


Now that you know your audience, it’s time to think about the goal of your email campaign. Color plays an important role in how your customers will engage. Do you have a big CTA that is getting all the attention, are you encouraging the reader to browse products within the email, or are you presenting information with a CTA at the end? The ultimate goal will change your strategy.


Campaigns that need a strong call-to-action at the top could use bright, powerful colors like red or orange. If you’re trying to draw the reader’s eye down the email, using subtle hues at the top with bolder colors at the fold will draw users’ eyes down and encourage them to scroll up.


With a goal in mind, now you can explore the color options. Do you need an attention-grabbing color like red for the buttons or do you want to come off calm and friendly with a shade of blue or yellow?


How to Choose the Best Color Schemes for Email Marketing - V5 Digital
How to Choose the Best Color Schemes for Email Marketing

Color Considerations

Certain colors are known to elicit specific emotions. Narrowing down which ones to use will depend on your audience, but can be essential to building your brand relationship with your customers. Color meanings can shift between cultures and gender, so researching color meanings for your target market is a good start.


In western culture, we often see these common colors associated with these moods:


Red

Red is energizing and stimulating. It’s attention-grabbing, our eyes are drawn to it. Red literally stimulates our brains. Studies have shown that red impacts the nervous system more than any other color; when people look at red their blood pressure rises. Red communicates power, assertiveness, strength, and warmth.


Orange

This color represents positivity, warmth, and happiness. It is also often associated with optimism and trust. You’ll see this color a lot in sports team logos and kids’ games because it naturally elicits a positive attitude. It is also often used to represent a deal, so it could be incorporated when the email is a discount or offer.


Yellow

Be careful with yellow. Although it’s often used to represent fun and playfulness, too much of it or the wrong shade can be off-putting. You don’t want someone running from your campaigns because of a too yellow background! If your team isn’t staffed with a design pro, here’s one tool that can help you choose or use one of the many color palette generators available.


Green

It represents nature, growth, serenity, fertility, and prosperity. Green is calming for our brains. It brings a sense of peace and restoration. However, it also bring a sense of urgency when it comes to making decisions. When used in email campaigns, this color can become a powerful tool for discounts, event invites, and limited product offerings.


Purple

This color elicits a sense of calm and luxury. It is also often tied with spirituality and femininity. Purple is a rare color in nature, which is what gives it the sense of wealth and luxury. It has also been found to stimulate the part of the brain responsible for problem-solving and creativity.


Blue

Blue is most commonly associated with calm and trust. It also gives a sense of intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness and reflection. You’ll notice this color the most in brand logos, especially brands that want to seem friendly and trustworthy like Meta (formally Facebook), IKEA, PayPal, and many, many others.


Black

This is the color most commonly associated with elegance, luxury, refinement, power, and stability. Dress codes for luxury events usually call for black attire. However, it can also be associated with darkness and fear like on Halloween or in scary movies.


White

This color is clean and simple — think of crisp white linen or a blank white page. It can give feelings of a fresh start or a clean slate. It represents purity, simplicity, coolness, sophistication, and new beginnings.


V5 Digital makes Email Marketing easy
V5 Digital makes Email Marketing easy

Key Takeaways

With a little creative thinking, you can start working color psychology into your email best practices right away. The goal is finding a few colors that work well for key elements of your marketing, such as orange for announcements or blue for buttons.

You can start using color psychology in your emails right away by:

  • Being mindful of how you want a reader’s eyes to travel through the email.

  • Focus on the CTAs or where you want the customer’s eye to go first.

  • Use colors that are in or compliment the brand palette to tie everything together.

Don’t forget to A/B test! The best way to know if a new design element is working or not is to A/B test it against your regular template. If you would like to get started with email marketing, then contact the V5 Digital Team today.


This article was sourced from our Partners at SharpSpring. With a background in writing, tech support, product training, and community management at SharpSpring, Harryson Pointdujour has years of experience solving problems first-hand and advocating on behalf of SharpSpring’s partners. Most recently, Harryson joined the Product Marketing team to develop high-quality resources and marketing materials that help agencies and SMBs scale.

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