Toilet Talk: Meeting One of the World’s Grand Challenges

first_imgPieces of a puzzleThere are a number of other techniques being explored and being tested. They include the use nanomaterials to separate usable water from fecal sludge and thicken the feces for further treatment; electrochemistry to break down fecal solids into fertilizer and sanitize the water to be reused for flushing or irrigation; and hydrothermal carbonization, which converts fecal sludge into an aqueous suspension of charlike material that is safe to handle and easily separated from the liquid phase.Another BMGF-funded device is the omni-processor, a wastewater treatment plant device that treats a community’s waste to a safe end product at little to no energy cost and creates safe drinking water that’s good enough for Bill Gates to drink.While early-stage toilet technologies may eventually provide sustainable sanitation for many communities, the solution to the world’s toilet problem has no single solution. Approaches by the private sector and those promoted by universities and foundations around the world are all pieces to the puzzle.Despite the basic facts of life that we all need to rid our bodies of waste, this is not an easy problem to solve, and we have not evolved quickly enough to keep up with our own poop. While demand must originate from local communities, innovations in technology will keep us imagining what the possibilities are, and if we can meet the UN’s SDGs, then maybe everyone can enjoy a little “me time” in the bathroom. Karl Linden is a professor of environmental engineering and the Mortensen Professor in Sustainable Development at the University of Colorado. This post originally appeared at The Conversation. RELATED ARTICLES Does a Composting Toilet Stink Up Your House?Do Low-Flow Toilets Really Work?Collection and Use of Urine Niagara’s Innovative 0.8 gpf “Vacuum-Assist” Stealth ToiletCan Switching to a Dual-Flush Toilet Save Heat?Q&A: Composting toilet in a Passive House? Sustainable sanitation technologiesSanitation systems protect human health by providing facilities and services for the collection and disposal of human urine and feces, ensuring a clean environment and breaking the cycle of disease. In order to be sustainable, sanitation technologies must be economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally sound.Economic viability ensures that a sanitation system can be built, operated, and maintained without outside subsidies. Social acceptability determines adoption and proper operation and maintenance. Environmental sustainability refers to the technology’s ability to reduce harmful pollution, use limited resources (water, land, energy), and recover resources contained in human waste.Sanitation technologies include anything from pit latrines to flush toilets connected to septic or sewer systems. But in many cases, existing systems have technical or operational problems.Pit latrines are socially unacceptable due to odors, and they are environmentally unsustainable since they only collect waste and do not treat it. Flush toilets connected to septic tanks or sewers must not only transmit the waste away but also treat it in centralized facilities. That requires major infrastructure, which uses precious water resources and is not possible in areas that need sanitation the most. Construction, operation, and maintenance of sewer infrastructure and treatment plants represent prohibitive costs for many parts of the developing world.What, then, is a better alternative?The world needs sanitation systems that are socially acceptable, reduce water consumption, take advantage of renewable energy, operate off-grid with little maintenance, and harvest useful products from human waste. The introduction of sustainable sanitation technology would result in greatly improved health, a cleaner environment, and energy conservation for both the developing and developed world. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a 25-year effort that wrapped up in 2015, aimed to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” While the goals for “access” to safe drinking water have been met, the UN revealed that 1.8 billion people still use drinking water that is fecally contaminated, connecting the dots between lack of adequate sanitation and contamination of drinking water.Since the MDGs have ended, the world is now striving toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a 15-year effort to achieve universal and equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation.How can we achieve safe sanitation? One way is through innovation.center_img How is it possible that 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities in 2015?While many westerners use their bathroom time as “me time,“ 40% of the world’s population may be pooping outdoors, in an unsanitary latrine, or in a plastic bag and launching flying toilets to dispose of their waste.The environmental impact of the worldwide sanitation situation cannot be underestimated. Not only do the unsanitary conditions and noxious odors of many latrines pose a health hazard for fecal-transmitted diseases, but in many cases the fecal matter ends up in the environment, untreated.Recent analysis by the World Bank reported that in a study of 12 cities, an average of 69% of the fecal sludge was released untreated into the environment – that is, only 31% was safely treated. In places like Dhaka, Bangladesh, only 2% of the fecal sludge is safely handled, while 98% is dangerously released into the environment. Toilet techIn parallel with efforts to change the face of conventional latrines, there is a wide effort underway to completely rethink what a toilet is and how we can recover the value in waste.The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in 2011 launched the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge and funded 16 teams around the world to dream big and re-create the toilet paradigm. (The BMGF is a funder of The Conversation Media Group.) Clearly, business as usual is not working, and given society’s experience in other sectors, why not develop “leapfrog” technologies that leave our 20th-century toilet behind?While technology is not the single solution to the worldwide sanitation crisis, it does have the potential to reshape the landscape and create new ways to do your business.The 21st-century toilet must provide a safe and hygienic environment, effectively treat the waste for safe handling, and recover resources embedded in the waste. It should also do all this while using no water resources or electrical energy.To meet this challenge, our group at the University of Colorado Boulder developed the Sol-Char Toilet, which uses concentrated solar energy to destroy the pathogens in fecal waste and transform the waste into biochar, similar to charcoal made from plants and other organic materials. Biochar is a valuable, safe-to-handle product that can serve as an agricultural amendment or be made into a char-fuel briquette with similar heating efficiency to commercial charcoal. This household toilet prototype is being redesigned into a system that can serve multiple houses in a community setting. Turning waste into valuable productThis need for better sanitation technologies has spawned a wave of innovations in toilet technologies, driven by the private sector, public sector, and foundations.Solutions making headway range from adapting and improving on the current paradigm of pit latrines to development of novel devices and approaches.Businesses such as Sanergy profit from providing clean toilet services and the collection and recovery of fecal waste. They provide the toilets, keep them clean, haul the fecal waste, treat and then reclaim the waste resources for reuse in agriculture. Using a franchise approach, their waste haulers safely compost large volumes of fecal sludge to make and sell valuable fertilizer. The Sanergy model can reach deep into informal settlements by using human labor to access and haul waste in areas which trucks cannot access.Another social enterprise, Sanivation, has a similar collection model to Sanergy but turns fecal waste into a fuel through a briquetting process. Their approach is to install low-infrastructure mobile toilets that can be deployed in urban communities and refugee camp settings. After collection, the waste is treated using solar energy. This solar-dried waste is then combined with a binder and made into fuel briquettes that can be sold as a replacement for wood, coal, and other sources.last_img read more

Electric Resistance Floor Heat

first_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Members Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details. In most regions of North America, electric-resistance space heating is expensive to operate. Since air-source heat pumps use only 33% to 50% as much electricity as electric-resistance heaters, most homeowners who want to heat their homes with electricity specify air-source heat pumps.That said, there may be a good reason to include some electric resistance heat in your home: for example, if your house is very small and well insulated; if you live somewhere with low electricity rates; if your house is equipped with a large photovoltaic (PV) system; if you want to supplement the output of an air-source heat pump on the coldest nights of the year; or if you want to make your bathroom a little more comfortable.There are many ways to provide electric-resistance heat: you can install electric-resistance baseboard units, electric-resistance wall panel heaters, electric-resistance cove heaters, or an electric boiler connected to a hydronic distribution system. In this article, I’ll focus on another type of electric-resistance heat: electric-resistance cables or mats installed under flooring (usually tiles). The most common place to install this type of heat is in a bathroom.If someone in your family likes the feeling of a warm bathroom floor, and you don’t mind the operating cost for a small amount of electric-resistance heating, you may be thinking of installing electric-resistance heating cables under your bathroom flooring. Is this a good idea?Opinions vary widely on this point. Suffice it to say that electrically heated bathroom floors aren’t a total energy disaster, and many people like them.How much electricity will it take to heat your bathroom floor? The answer, of course, is “it depends.”A typical installation draws from 12 watts to 15 watts per square foot. Let’s start with some assumptions:When operating, the floor draws 480 watts, so the… center_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log inlast_img read more

In Germany, Consumers Embrace a Shift to Home Batteries

first_imgThis post originally appeared at Yale Environment 360.   Stefan Paris is a 55-year-old radiologist living in Berlin’s outer suburbs. He, his partner, and their 3-year-old daughter share a snug two-story house with a pool. The Parises, who are expecting a second child, are neither wealthy nor environmental firebrands. Yet the couple opted to spend $36,000 for a home solar system consisting of 26 solar panels, freshly installed on the roof this month, and a smart battery — about the size of a small refrigerator — parked in the cellar.RELATED ARTICLESA Bright Future for Solar + Battery Systems in AustraliaVermont Utility Is the First to Offer Tesla BatteryBig Batteries, Not New Power PlantsNew Life for Old Electric Vehicle BatteriesWhat’s Driving the Cost of Residential Solar-Plus-Storage? On sunny days, the photovoltaic panels supply all of the Paris household’s electricity needs and charge their hybrid car’s electric battery, too. Once these basics are covered, the rooftop-generated power feeds into the stationary battery until it’s full — primed for nighttime energy demand and cloudy days. Then, when the battery is topped off, the unit’s digital control system automatically redirects any excess energy into Berlin’s power grid, for which the Parises will be compensated by the local grid operator. “They convinced me it would pay off in ten years,” explains Paris, referring to Enerix, a Bavaria-based retailer offering solar systems and installation services. “After that, most of our electricity won’t cost us anything.” The investment, he says, is a hedge against rising energy costs. Moreover, the unit’s smart software enables the Parises to monitor the production, consumption, and storage of electricity, as well as track in real time the feed-in of power to the grid. The Parises are one of more than 120,000 German households and small-business owners — and an estimated 1 million people worldwide — who have dug deep into their pockets to invest in solar units with battery storage since lower-cost systems appeared on the market five years ago. “No one expected this kind of growth, so fast,” says Kai-Philipp Kairies, an expert on power generation and storage systems at the RWTH Aachen University in western Germany. Today, one out of every two orders for rooftop solar panels in Germany is sold with a battery storage system. The home furnishing company Ikea even offers installed solar packages that include storage capacity. Battery prices have plummeted so dramatically that Germany’s development bank has now scratched the battery rebates — covering about 30% of the cost — that it offered from 2013 to 2018. To be sure, 120,000 households and small businesses represent only a tiny fraction of Germany’s 81 million people. But analysts say this recent growth demonstrates the strong appeal of a green vision for the future: a solar array on every roof, an electric vehicle in every garage, and a battery in every basement. Analysts see the embrace of home batteries as an important step toward a future in which low-carbon economies rely on increasingly decentralized and fluctuating renewable energy supplies. To date, electricity storage has lagged far behind advances in solar power, but as batteries become cheaper and more powerful, they will increasingly store the uneven output of wind and solar power, contributing to the kind of flexibility that a weather-dependent source will require. A lithium-iron-phosphate battery, which allows homeowners with photovoltaic panels to store excess solar electricity for later use. [Image credit: Sonnen] Trend revives Germany’s solar panel industry The budding popularity of solar panel and battery systems, driven by a drop in lithium-ion battery prices, has thrown a lifeline to Germany’s moribund solar sector, which has been reeling in recent years in part because of low-cost production of solar panels in China. The progressive decline of feed-in tariffs — guaranteed remuneration for consumers supplying energy to the grid — also led to a sharp drop in solar energy deployment. But against all odds, companies like Enerix, Sonnen, and Solarwatt have gotten back on their feet thanks to home energy storage systems. In 2012, Enerix had to shut down eight of its 15 affiliates in Germany and Austria. But since the battery boom, it has been reopening old shops and starting new ones, today boasting 54 outlets that sell panels, batteries, and energy optimization systems. Germany now has some 44 manufacturers of home energy storage systems. Germans have installed solar-panel arrays on more than 1 million buildings, but most of them lacked storage units. Now, a growing number of those homeowners are buying batteries. German electricity storage units also are being sold in France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, as well as Australia and South Korea. The systems are not cheap, but they offer independence The price tag of a home storage system depends on the size of the house or business, the owner’s energy needs, the building’s access to sun, and the quality of the panels, batteries, and management systems. For a small house with just 20 panels, one can expect to pay about $8,000 to $11,000 for the PV array and roughly the same amount for the battery and DC/AC power inverter. The largest home batteries go for around $34,000. And for an extra $500, advanced devices connect the system to household appliances and optimize energy use, as well as regulating feed-in to the grid. With such top-of-the-line technology and lots of sunlight, an owner might save as much as 80% on electricity bills, according to Solarwatt, a Dresden-based outfit manufacturing smart tech. But the economics of battery storage aren’t the only, or even the main, motivation of most battery system buyers, says Matthias Schulnick of Enerix Berlin. “More and more people want to be independent of the power companies and rising prices,” he says. “And they want a green footprint, to do something for the future.” In Germany, in just a few short years, home storage units morphed from a quirky niche product for tech nerds and Green Party voters to one with enormous mainstream potential. The consulting firm McKinsey predicts that the cost of energy storage systems will fall 50% to 70% globally by 2025 “as a result of design advances, economies of scale, and streamlined processes.” Signs of the explosion in interest are everywhere: Earlier this month, the British-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell purchased Sonnen, Germany’s leading maker of home batteries. The German utility giant E.ON is a step ahead of Shell, having teamed up with Solarwatt in 2016 to sell combined solar-and-battery units. The Energy Storage Association, a U.S.-based trade group, projects that energy storage capacity will soar eight-fold from 2015 to 2020, becoming a $2.5 billion market. Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects that within 20 years the global energy storage market, of which home storage is just one part, will have attracted $620 billion in investment. With smart home energy systems, energy generated by solar panels is stored in batteries and used to power appliances and charge electric vehicles. [Image credit: Enerix] In California, as of 2020 all newly constructed residential buildings must be outfitted with solar panels. The owners of these buildings will surely be giving battery systems a hard look as prices fall. Adding home batteries becomes especially attractive for consumers who own electric vehicles. The downside of the battery bonus, explains Kairies, is that “under today’s conditions it takes about a decade to pay off the battery from savings on energy bills. But most of the lifespans of these batteries today aren’t much more than 10 years, at most 15 years. Then you have to buy a new one.” Big advances in battery performance The boom-in-progress is in large part a consequence of spectacular advances in the performance of lithium-ion batteries — the standard type of battery found in most electric vehicles and cell phones. In laboratory conditions, technicians — who were working on improving electric vehicle batteries, not home storage units — increased the lithium-ion battery’s density by tweaking the conductors and the chemicals, which doubled storage capacity. This sent the price of storage, measured per watt hour, plummeting by half. Solar panels, too, are cheaper than ever before, although their decades-long price decline has leveled off. Experts differ widely on the future of battery-based storage technologies and the implications for decentralized energy generation. Some, like Julia Poliscanova of the Brussels-based watchdog group Transport and Environment, argue that lithium-ion will remain the go-to battery type for the foreseeable future. The emergence of recycled EV batteries, which have too little capacity for cars but enough for household needs, would drive down costs even farther while giving lithium-ion batteries second and third lives, she says. Others, like Stefano Passerini, director of the Helmholtz Institute in Ulm, a battery research center in Germany, says the next generation of small-scale storage will be sodium-ion batteries, which, unlike lithium batteries, don’t require cobalt, a mined chemical element that is ever-harder to find. “Since home batteries can be larger than EV batteries, we should conserve the cobalt that’s available for cars, and go a different way with home storage,” he says. The clean-energy pioneer EWS Schönau is developing environmentally friendly batteries, such as largely recyclable saltwater batteries that contain neither carcinogenic heavy metals nor scarce minerals. Regardless of the type of battery, home energy storage units can help smooth out fluctuations in electricity production, a function known as “balancing.” When the grid is flush with power, for example, grid operators can pay battery owners — even ones with no solar array attached to them — to store the excess for them. When the grid needs power, home and car batteries can feed energy into the grid. Experts say balancing is critical to the larger project of a low-carbon world. But this scenario is still largely in the future. “What we have now [in home storage] certainly helps,” says Passerini, “But it’s still very little.” He says the next step is enabling home energy producers to sell to neighbors and tenants, a service known as peer-to-peer electricity trading. This would allow consumers without access to home-generated power to take advantage of the clean energy of those who produce more than they need. Volker Quaschning, a professor of renewable energy systems at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, put the scale of the challenge in perspective: “We have over 100,000 home-generation and storage systems [in Germany], but in order to hit the Paris goals we need 10 million in Germany alone. There’s huge potential, but it has to be cheaper and easier.” He says that requires eliminating energy-consumption taxes on households and businesses that generate electricity for their own use and maintaining solar energy’s guaranteed tariffs, which encourage investment. “Home storage can be expanded the same way we did solar power,” says Quaschning, referring to investment and production incentives, “which eventually created economies of scale and brought prices way down.” It worked once, he says, and it can work again.   Paul Hockenos is a Berlin-based writer whose work has appeared in a number of publications.last_img read more

Top 5 Inbound Marketing Articles of the Week: Blogger Frustration

first_img fresh ideas for new blog articles Author: article this week refers to the affliction as blogging frustration, and it’s what keeps bloggers far and wide unable to think of Author: Our top 4. to measure your engagement, and setting goals for yourself. Photo by Martin Kingsley maximize your business’ presence on Twitter Influential Marketing Blog on Take a break, relax, and try new techniques to help inspire you before you start pulling out your hair from blogger frustration. Choosing the right domain name is important, yet Rohit writes that while most people understand its importance, many continue to fall victim to the same mistakes when choosing a URL.  He urges business owners to avoid the following 6 pitfalls: Originally published Apr 9, 2010 12:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Search Engine Journal Not registering common alternate versions marketing metrics Metrics to Measure Your Personal Brand Not reading it together without caps Rohit Bhargava Take some time to Author: . He walks readers through the types of online marketing decisions small businesses must make, from what to include on your website to which social media sites to get involved with (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) to other tools like email marketing.  Brogan also talks about his recommendations for how to split your time doing online marketing, advising 25% of your time spent on listening, 5% on connecting and 25% on publishing/creating content.  Marketing Takeaway: Successful use of Twitter involves a healthy balance of optimization, content promotion and social interaction. Personal Branding Blog and make decisions about your online marketing programs before you start Chris Brogan . Marketing Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of a carefully chosen domain name for your business. of Marketing Takeaway: We’ve written many times about the business and marketing benefits of Twitter.  So maybe you’ve created an account — now what?  Nick’s article shares several useful tips to help you generate a following and 1. Failing to use relevant keywords in a URL  Problogger Some of his words of wisdom include basics like optimizing your username, profile, image and background but also extend to advice about thinking before you tweet, not spamming your followers, being social and tweeting about more than just your business/products. …  It may not seem obvious, but Decision-Making: The Lifeblood of Business to learn how to create a thriving blog. Marketing Takeaway: on 3. Author: Author: Some of his suggestions include avoiding panic, closing all distractions, taking a break, listening to music, exercising, and browsing blogs completely unrelated to your niche for new ideas.   to help you evaluate your online visibility and engagement, which include comparing your content creation effort to leaders in your field, using various think Mark Hayward Automatically using your business name 2. Learn how to build your business blog into an inbound marketing machine. Marketing Takeaway: on Topics: OPEN Forum inbound marketing Begin building your personal brand by starting small and setting concrete, achievable goals.  5. Blogging Frustration! 10 Simple Tip to Keep You From RIPPING Your Hair Out doing making decisions about online marketing Does Your Company Twitter? 10 Tips to Become A Great Business “Twit” Webinar: Advanced Business Blogging Because those who blog consistently are constantly pressured to come up with fresh content, it’s no surprise that frustration is a common blogger emotion.  Mark’s article understands this well and offers 10 useful tips to help bloggers deal, relax and then get back to the drawing board. Nick Leroy Assuming the best URLs are taken grading tools Brogan’s article discusses the importance of decision-making in business, specifically focusing on personal brands are indeed important to a company’s overall business brand Pete Kistler 6 Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing a Domain Name Pete offers several useful Download the free webinar them.  on . Want to make sure your personal brand is measuring up? Blog Examples Thinking people can spell, or that they all spell the same waylast_img read more

3 Meta Description Mistakes You Might Be Making

first_imgIf you’ve ever been to one of my Website Optimization Webinars you’ll be pretty familiar with the advice we give companies on how to get their website to rank better on the search engine results pages.  Create content that’s valuable to your target readership and you’ll attract inbound links.  These links will increase your SEO credit and hopefully you’ll see your website crack the first page on the search engine results pages for your most relevant keywords. However, that’s only the first step towards getting found, and if you stop there then it’s likely that you’re selling yourself short.  Getting on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is a great first step, but as research has shown your placement on the page also has an incredible effect on the amount of traffic you drive to your site.  It has been measured that over a third of the traffic goes to the first search result and that traffic continues to decrease significantly as your place on the results page decreases.   Although boosting your ranking on the SERP is one way to increase traffic the meta description has also has an impact on driving traffic to your website. The Often Misunderstood Meta DescriptionThe meta description is not something that is visible on your web page.  The short summary of the web page, which is usually included at the top of the pages source code in a  tag is not used by the search engines for any SEO purposes.  What the meta description is used for is to provide the searcher with a short description of the page (<150 characters to be exact) beneath each result.  In fact, if a meta description is not included in the source code then the search engine will usually display part of the contents from the page in its place.  Since the meta description is not as well understood as other page elements there are some very common mistakes people make when creating their websites. 1. Missing Meta - The most obvious mistake is to forget to include one entirely.   As I mentioned earlier, if the meta description is omitted the search engine will simply take a part of the content from the web page.  Of course the piece of content that search engine uses usually isn’t a thoughtful succinct summary of your website and most likely will not give the searcher a good idea of whether your result is what they are looking for or not.  The search engines will also abruptly cut off any text longer than 150 characters, which can look sloppy and read awkwardly. 2. Keyword Stuffing - A lot of webmasters that don’t understand the purpose of the meta description see it as another opportunity to boost their SEO by jamming a bunch of keywords in there.  Since the meta description has no effect on SEO this will actually have a negative impact on the traffic your website will get.  Think about it for a second.  Which result are you more likely to click on? “Website Grader – Free SEO tool from HubSpot that provides an Internet Marketing Report for your website.” Or “Website Grader, SEO, Inbound Marketing, SEM, Internet Marketing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing.”  The first is easily read and provides a simple description of what the viewer can expect to find on the page.  The second just looks like what it is, a mish-mash of internet marketing keywords.  3. Not Including Any Keywords - Although keyword stuffing should be avoided, carefully thinking about how to incorporate your keywords into your meta description should not be overlooked.   When someone searches for a keyword or keyword phrase in a search engine if those keywords are present in your meta description they will be bolded.  This draws more attention to your result and increases the likelihood that someone will click on your result.  It makes sense that the result that includes the keyword phrase in the meta description is more likely to be what the searcher is looking for than one that does not. I hope that these tips helped you to better understand the meta description and how it can be a very useful tool in increasing traffic to your website.  If I missed anything be sure to stop by the website optimization webinar and let me know.   Topics: Originally published Jan 14, 2011 10:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 On-page SEO 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

5 Steps to an Awesome B2B Facebook Page

first_img – Remember that social media is, well, social. By liking the Pages of business partners, valued vendors, and customers, Facebook will notify the administrators of those Pages. In return, some of them may also decide to like Topics: – When thinking about Facebook, a new metric comes to mind: visitor-to-like. As a B2B company, you ultimately want to maximize the percentage of people who visit your Facebook Page and click the “like” button. One important way to achieve this goal and establish expectations with new fans is to implement a ‘welcome’ landing page that invites new visitors to like your Page. Technically, there are many ways to execute this. HubSpot customers, for example, can install the For B2B companies looking to use Facebook as a tool for prospect engagement and lead generation, there are a few important steps they can take to maximize results. – Engagement is critical on Facebook, and it is the fuel for an important strategy called news feed optimization. When Facebook users log in, they’re automatically presented with a news feed of what Facebook has determined is the most relevant information for them based on their interests and engagement. As a marketer looking to maximize the reach of content shared on Facebook, news feed optimization offers a huge opportunity. Therefore, to expand the reach of your content, you must encourage engagement on your Page. Some ways to do this is to periodically ask questions and post remarkable content to get your fans interacting with you and other fans. 3. Integrate Social Content check out 25 B2B companies that have already done it well . Page, which will also expose it to the individual fans of their Pages. Think of this as leveraging Facebook for co-marketing efforts. Yes, it is important to share content from your website and blog across various social media sites. However, remember that it is also important to offer content unique to the audience of that social network. For Facebook, this could mean including a special guide or resource for your community on Facebook.  5. Create Custom Facebook Content and Notifications – 2. Use Engagement to Build Reach 4. ‘Like’ Other Pages Originally published May 25, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 1. Welcome New Page Visitors Because of their industry expertise and history of content creation, B2B companies are often well suited for social media marketing. While it might make sense for B2B companies to start with a business-focused network like LinkedIn, Facebook certainly has its own place in B2B social media strategy. If you’re curious about how, your free Facebook Welcome Application What other steps would you add? How is your B2B Facebook Page performing? – Facebook is the gateway to the internet for many people. They use it as a home base. In fact, one in eight minutes on the internet is spent on Facebook. Because Facebook has become such an online home for people, it is important to incorporate content from other social channels like YouTube and SlideShare to extend the life and reach of that content. . Facebook Business Pages 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

5 Ways to Maximize Ecommerce Holiday Marketing

first_imgSay “Happy Holidays” to a shopper, and they’ll most likely interpret it as, “Congratulations! Here’s your giant headache. You’re welcome.” After all, what is a holiday shopping trip mean, anyway? Christmas music looped until you can’t stand it anymore, a square mile of pavement around the mall with no place to park, and a million shoppers everywhere. To most people, this corresponds with a huge amount of inconvenience and frustration, which means that, if given the choice, most people will shop at home if they can, via the internet. For your ecommerce business, this can be nothing if not advantageous, at least if you’re adhering to ecommerce holiday marketing best practices. Here are some tips for maximizing your potential this holiday season.5 Ways to Maximize Ecommerce Holiday Marketing1. Incorporate a countdown on your website. Customers should be reminded of how close the big day is to today’s date. Find a “time until holidays” counter that will show how much time is left until the day of gift-giving is upon them. You can pick out free countdown clocks from the selections offered here and here.2. Add new shipping options for the holidays. If you already offer free shipping over a certain monetary amount, consider dropping that amount for the month of December. If you don’t normally offer free shipping but can do it for the holidays, do it. If nothing else, remind customers that your shipping is quick and efficient, and clearly advertise the last day customers can order in time for the holiday they are ordering for. For example, if 5 days is the absolute maximum shipping time, remind customers that their last day to order for Christmas delivery would be December 19th.3. Offer gift cards for the holidays. Gift cards are a solid way to bring in revenue without having to expend goods or services — not yet, at least. If you are not already offering gift cards, you should do it at least for the holiday season. Not only will you be bringing in revenue, you will also be capitalizing on the flurry of purchases that lead up to the holidays. Plus, you might bring in new customers — both gift givers and recipients.4. Optimize buying guides. Most people find it easier to be told what to do. If you’re the one telling them, the result is more revenue for your business. Do this in your buying guide, and make sure your buying guide gets seen by optimizing it so Google returns it in its shopping search results page. Include the term “buying guide” in all your onsite elements: headers, content, metas, titles — as much as you can. The goal is to get it indexed in Google’s product pages, which means more conversions for your company.5. Ask for newsletter registration on the order confirmation page. The confirmation page is essential because it includes all the order information so the customer can review and confirm the information they just gave you. This increases customer confidence and allows you to include an option for the customer to receive your newsletter. Email marketing is a sure way to drive sales. You can even set the page to have this box pre-ticked when the customer lands on the order confirmation page. Including this prerequisite means the distribution of timely information, which means more returning customers, which means more business for your company.How else can you maximize the effectiveness of your ecommerce website this holiday shopping season? Topics: Originally published Oct 25, 2011 8:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Ecommerce Marketinglast_img read more

How to Create 200 Hours Worth of Marketing Content in One Night

first_img Topics: Originally published Jul 9, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Marketers don’t always have it so easy (wait … do we ever?). Summer months are notoriously slow, holidays are difficult to work around, and even weekends take away from the steady flow of leads you want to generate.So how do you push past these obstacles and keep your marketing going strong through the rough patches on your calendar? Here at HubSpot, we’ve found that one of the best (and most fun!) ways to prepare for a slow week, month, or season is to host a marketing hack night.Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts, infographics, and more. What exactly is a ‘marketing hack night’?Great question. A “hack night” (or “hack day” or “hackathon”) is a specific amount of time set aside for a bunch of your team members, coworkers, or employees to get together and work toward some sort of productive goal, typically with the aim of completing a project from start to finish within that timeframe.For example, HubSpot’s first ever marketing hack night, which we held at the end of June, was organized so multiple teams each created a marketing campaign that we could launch in July. We kicked off the event at 5 p.m. and had until midnight to get everything done, beginning with brainstorming initial campaign ideas, all the way through to finalizing our promotional materials, scheduling our email sends, and testing our landing page forms. And the good news is -– it was a huge success! We had nearly 40 HubSpotters volunteer to participate (marketing team members and contributors from other departments alike), and collectively, we cranked out over a couple hundred hours of work in one night.Ready to give your marketing a boost, and incorporate some major company bonding while doing it? Follow these 7 simple steps to make your own marketing hack night a huge success!7 Steps to Planning a Successful Marketing Hack NightStep 1: Determine Your GoalsAs with any project, it’s important to start by deciding on the specific goals you want to accomplish. What do you want the outcome of your hack night to be: a completed, integrated marketing campaign, a batch of blog articles to fill your backlog, a comprehensive content analysis? What metrics will you use to measure your results: traffic, leads, customers, increased social reach, more blog subscribers? And over what timeframe(s)? Put together a list or an outline of your goals, and reference it going forward so you can plan your hack night in accordance with them.Step 2: Organize in a Meaningful WayNow that you’ve decided on your goals, figure out the best way to structure your hack night so your participants can accomplish those goals in the most effective and efficient way possible.For example, if your goal is strictly to get the most and the best possible work done in the least amount of time, you should build teams based on each individual’s strengths. If your goal is to expose people to different areas of marketing that they don’t typically have experience with, build teams of employees from various departments within your company. (We chose the latter, and found that the variety of backgrounds contributed new perspectives to the projects and helped us learn from each other as we worked together.) However you choose to set up your teams, make sure it aligns with your goals.Step 3: Decide on IncentivesDon’t forget — your coworkers are dedicating their personal time to put in some extra work, so you’ll want to decide on a way to reward them for all that extra credit. Why not try some gamification?Choose a selection of prizes and a set of criteria for determining a winner. Framing your hack night as a competition will encourage your participants to produce high-quality work, and since you’ll actually be implementing the results of their work, you want it to be top-notch. If you aren’t sure what would best motivate your participants, ask them! They’ll give you some good ideas and you can choose the ones that are reasonable given your budget. If you’d rather not spend money on prizes, announcing a winner and providing company-wide recognition can still serve as good incentive for participants to give it their all.Step 4: Choose/Create a Supportive EnvironmentWhen planning your hack night, you’ll want to decide on an optimal environment for your participants. Again, this goes back to your goals. Do you want this to be strictly productive with little social focus? Give each team their own conference room so they can concentrate with minimal distraction. Want hack night to be more fun, social, and engaging? Put everyone in one big room!At HubSpot, we found that having everyone work in the same space made our marketing hack night feel more event-like, allowed us to take breaks and socialize with members of other teams, and helped us avoid an atmosphere of biting competition (too much of that is never a good thing). Put on some quiet music in the background. Order dinner. The more inviting you make the environment, the more involved your participants will be. And if certain individuals find that this environment isn’t condusive to working, they can always find a quiet space of their own to hole up for a while (like some of our bloggers did, for example).Step 5: Establish Clear Guidelines, and Communicate Them EffectivelyBefore you kick off your hack night, make sure you have a list of rules and guidelines for the event. What should their main goals be? Will the teams be allowed to help each other? Are there any materials they must use, or must not use? At the start of your hack night, communicate the answers to these questions clearly, so your participants go in with a solid understanding of what they should aim to accomplish and how to go about it.Step 6: Stand Back and Watch Them ShineWhile step 5 is still fresh on your minds, that being said, you don’t want to give them too many rules. Hack nights are a great opportunity to give your company’s employees a chance to work with new people, think outside the box, and step outside of their comfort zones. Let them figure out how to approach their projects. Give them the freedom to make some of the big decisions on their own. Guidelines are good, but don’t restrict their creativity. You’d be surprised what a group of smart people can come up with when they’re motivated, working together, and have the chance to choose their own project, tools, and approach.Step 7: Implement Your WorkYou just organized a whole event. Don’t let the results of your hack night go to waste! One of the most important – arguably, the most important – part of your hack night is actually implementing the work your teams produced. Use those blog posts, landing pages, email sends, social media promotions, graphic designs, pieces of code. Launch your campaigns, update your product. Even if your event was highly social, remember that your ultimate goal was to produce a certain output. So go ahead and take advantage of all the awesome materials you now have, and use the metrics you outlined in step 1 to gauge the success of your results!Congratulations on planning your first hack night! I hope you and your participants find the experience rewarding, take the opportunity to really come together as a team, and most of all, crank out some killer marketing content and results. Happy hacking! Productivity 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

An Insider’s View: Inbound Marketing in Europe Versus the U.S.

first_img Inbound Marketing Originally published Jun 14, 2013 3:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 At the launch of HubSpot’s European office in Dublin in March, my colleagues here at Brightfire shared some insights from a few of our customers on what it’s like to do inbound marketing in Europe — because, well, it’s a bit different than in the U.S.In this blog post, I wanted to continue that discussion by sharing our view of some key differences between inbound marketing in Europe versus inbound marketing in the U.S. — this time drawing on data from HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Europe Report 2013, along with what our clients have experienced.1) Inbound marketing is growing just as quickly in Europe as in the U.S. This may come as a surprise, as there’s often a misconception that inbound marketing in Europe is 12-18 months behind the U.S. According to the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Europe Report, however, inbound marketing is growing at an impressive rate in Europe. Nearly 60% of companies are already practicing inbound marketing and 42% are set to increase their inbound marketing spending in 2013.Customer buying behavior has changed in Europe in exactly the same way as the U.S. Leads and customers research online, view websites, consume content, and actively engage on social media — so it’s no wonder that inbound marketing is catching on fast with marketers.Though more and more marketers are adopting inbound marketing, our clients think there is still work to be done in the UK and Europe to make the inbound marketing concept clearer to businesses looking to engage customers online. Clients have also stressed the importance of an inbound strategy that aligns all online marketing practices with business goals.2) Inbound marketing enjoys slightly higher internal support in Europe than it does in the U.S.The 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Europe Report also found that the rate of internal support for inbound marketing in Europe is actually extremely high. 36% of respondents confirmed that inbound is completely integrated with their marketing strategy — 1% higher than the U.S. number. Further, 44% answered that inbound is somewhat integrated. This means that 4 of 5 European marketers have at least somewhat integrated their inbound campaigns with larger marketing goals.How have European marketers been able to get this internal support? They’ve had the benefit of being able to observe the early adoption of inbound marketing in the U.S. As a result, they are able to put data in front of their executive sponsors that drives buy-in. Our clients have found that once co-workers understand inbound marketing as a holistic approach, then there is higher likelihood of internal support. Because many Europeans are enjoying the benefit of internal buy-in for inbound marketing strategies, there’s a tremendous opportunity to gain more clarity around the areas of inbound where European marketers are particularly weak. For instance, many European inbound marketers struggle to prove ROI — 1 in 4 report concern around proving ROI for their inbound activities. Later on we’ll discuss their troubles with A/B testing and lead nurturing, too. Solving these problems will be easier when internal stakeholders are already bought in to the inbound marketing philosophy.3) European inbound marketers are still predominantly focused on growing the top of the funnel, whereas U.S. inbound marketers have a more developed approach to lead nurturing.We also found that the top priorities for European marketers look very similar to those of the U.S. 23% of those surveyed said that “reaching the right audience” was their most important priority, followed closely by converting more leads to customers.Since the start of any inbound marketing journey begins at the top of the funnel, it’s not surprising that many of our clients who are at an early stage in their inbound strategy are focused on building the right online audience. Companies that are trying to engage audience across multiple European countries have a unique inbound marketing challenge: creating multilingual content. Since most European inbound marketers are focused on creating top-of-the-funnel content, the development of personalized lead nurturing programs is less of a priority. However, European marketers might still consider investing more in developing their lead nurturing programs to make the most out of their concerted content creation and top-of-the-funnel efforts. With even more resources for content creation required than their U.S. counterparts, wringing the most ROI out of the leads generated with a nurturing program will make their efforts more cost-efficient.4) European marketers don’t align with their sales teams as well as U.S. marketers align with their sales teams.In the same report, we found that even though European marketers are setting the right kind of priorities and metrics to measure their team’s success, there is still evidence of a Marketing-Sales divide in most companies. Only 22% of European firms had a formal agreement between Sales and Marketing — 3% lower than the U.S. figure of 25%.While a formal agreement between Sales and Marketing isn’t always in place, we work hard with our clients to build Sales and Marketing alignment and have found this to be a vital component of their success with inbound marketing. Some of the building blocks for alignment are: executive sponsorship, Sales involvement in defining a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), participation in content promotion (e.g. sales executives sharing the company’s latest blog posts on their own LinkedIn account), and feedback to Marketing on the quality of MQL.5) European marketers don’t test their inbound strategies as much as their U.S. counterparts.European marketers are also a little behind the U.S. in website optimization adoption. Only 25% of marketers in Europe are doing some form of testing — either A/B tests or multivariate — as part of their inbound strategy. Further, 49% of European marketers reported not testing at all, a rate 5% worse than the U.S.This testing delta may explain why the U.S.’s website conversion rates are nearly double European rates — a 10.7% average vs. Europe’s 5.7%.In almost every discussion we have with our prospects and customers, I’ve found they have an unrealistic view of what conversion rates they can achieve. This seems to be based on a lack of appreciation of the effort required to drive up and maintain the kinds of rates reported in the U.S. Testing is clearly a key factor in this, but our best-performing clients acknowledge the importance of revisiting and refining their personas’ buying journeys. Such refinement is not possible without accurate testing data married to insight into the personas’ real issues.We have an opportunity to grow conversation rates in many ways — it’s simply up to us to begin using the tools we have and experimenting a bit more.Johnny Mone is the VP of Business Development at Brightfire, which specializes in B2B technology marketing. They are one of the longest-serving and most successful HubSpot partners in Europe. Image credit: GlasgowAmateur Topics: 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