Concept art has been around for quite a while but we have started to hear and, in this case, see more about it only recently. Movies, video games, books, all utilize concept art during their creation and the internet allows us to glimpse into the journey a masterpiece takes before coming to life.
Simply put, concept art is the first piece of visual art designed for a media piece. The process usually goes as follows, the theme and script of the piece are prepared, and based on those, the concept artist prepares rough drafts based on those. Those are then reviewed and if they reflect what the creators have in mind, are forwarded to the art team which builds on the concept art.
Concept art is usually in the form of sketches and rough drawings but can be detailed depending on the deadline of the project or the creators. Some forms of concept art can be a little more detailed especially pieces created for FRP games such as dungeons and dragons.
Concept art is vital for video games and movies as those two usually rely on 3D Modeling and quickly sketching out a concept is not easy to do so on those platforms. Instead, having illustrations that reflect the environment, characters, and even objects look like helps speed up the process significantly.What Does a Concept Artist Do?
Concept artists are tasked with creating the first visual representations of a project. So, they have to come up with concepts that reflect the vision of the creators. This requires them to have a couple of skills such as working with tight deadlines, creativity, and good communication skills.Our Favorite Fantast Concept Art Picks
As a bonus, we’ve included quite a few of our favorite concept art examples. We’ve mainly included fantasy concept art pieces of video games, D&D, and TV shows. You can find examples of concept art from God of War, Diablo, the Witcher, Game of Thrones, and Studio Ghibli. Have a look at the pieces we’ve collected for you and let us know if you think that there’s cool concept art that we should include in the article.Pinterest Source: Pinterest Source: Pinterest Source: Pinterest Source: Pinterest Source: Pinterest Source: Pinterest
When you are a company owner or a manager of a business of any size and think of creating a website, all you have to do is to hire a web developer. They should be the person who will improve your company by contributing their talents to front-end and back-end development. This team member should be chosen carefully so that the website will accomplish the following tasks:
If you never hired a full-stack developer before, you should know how to do it effectively and in a time-saving manner. These days, when most of the companies are partly or even fully working remotely, you might want to consider hiring a remote developer, which has some benefits over an in-house employee, and also some specifics in the hiring process.
The decision of hiring a remote developer should always be based on the benefit of the company. For example, if you are in the US, EU, Canada, or Australia, where the cost of software development is the highest in the world, hiring remote engineers from other regions will allow cutting on development costs. Also, as long as you are not limited to one region, you have a higher chance to find talent which fits your project the best.
Additionally, when you need to hire a team in the shortest time possible to deal with minor tasks, it’s easier to outsource the job than going through the whole hiring process of in-house developers. In that case, it is much easier to hire a freelance developer. Or if you need a more trusted source, you can use the YouTeam platform (backed by Y combinator), where your first candidates will be sourced within 48 hours.
That is just some basics about hiring remote developers, but you can read more to learn the pros and cons of insourcing and outsourcing a team of devs.
In any case, the final decision about hiring a new remote developer that should fit your team is on you. So here is the guide on how to find a qualified one by simply asking the right questions.Question #1: Experience & Cases
Firstly, you need to ask the candidates about their relative experience and case studies. It is very important to understand that the candidates fully understand what they will be doing. For each type of business or a product, there is a different type of website.
There are websites for e-commerce and landing pages, for example. The first type must include a basket, a catalog, payment methods, and many more features to make the users comfortable and satisfied. The second one is usually used for services in different business niches: events, marketing campaigns, webinars, etc.Question #2: Test project
Discuss if they are open to doing a small project first before you decide if you want to hire them for the long term. This question is very sensitive. Completing a test project requires the same skills and effort as completing a long term project. The only difference should be the time candidates spend on it: test projects should take much less time, meanwhile, it should not influence the quality of the end-results.
For instance, if the website which you plan to develop is a complex one, so shall the test project be. Here are the aspects of a good test project for a website developer.Question #3: Programming questions
The following questions will help you find a highly qualified remote website developer and find out who is the most capable of creating a comprehensive website:
If your candidates can respond correctly to the up-mentioned questions, no doubt they are the best in the field. After the interview, you may give a short task to write code. And for checking the code from the technical task you may need some instruments.Question #4: Independent code vetting
There are plenty of automated online vetting instruments, which generate tests according to the tech task of your project. Such tools are widely used in many companies and help the recruiters and business owners to find a perfect candidate.
The tools are very suitable for the vetting of remote candidates:
So, when it’s your case and you want to vet a code on your own, read the full review on code vetting instruments here.Question #5: Deadlines & Payment
This is where another stage of the selection begins. When technical tasks are completed successfully and the candidates are ready to discuss bureaucratic matters, mention the budget and deadlines in the first place.
Do not hesitate to make several conference calls as you need to understand the personalities of devs and their style of work. Make it clear about the KPIs, payments, and their frequency (maybe, the dependency on the progress of the project), the time frame of the project, and the budget for your website.
Be sure you speak the same language with a person you’re going to hire, so the building of trust between you both will not take long.Question #6: Project management
One more important thing that might influence website development as well as project management. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to effectively manage remote developer teams.
Ask your candidates what tools they usually use while working on the project to communicate, mark the progress, and make reports. The majority of remote website developers use Jira, Slack, or Asana for communicating with their supervisors and marking the project progress. Also, you both may use Google Drive and Dropbox for sharing files.
When the tools are chosen it’s time to discuss the actual management of the project:
When the management stage is completed, you, as the owner, have to document all the agreements and details of pre-development arrangements, KPIs, and the development itself plus the to-do list after website development.Question #7: Communication
The last question of our list of essentials queries to make when hiring a remote developer is about communication. Remote communication has its aspects, and the first one is the tools you will use for communication. Now the most frequently used tools for this purpose are Zoom and Skype. The choice of a communication tool often depends on the location of your dev: in the USA they prefer Zoom, in the EU and Eastern Europe it is Skype.
Don’t forget to check the candidates on their soft skills: you need to work it out together. Make sure that the style of communication suits you all: from avoiding rude language to the manner of the interaction. You both should be comfortable with each other to complete the project.How to hire a remote website developer safely
While hiring a remote web developer the questions of safety and trust are very important. It doesn’t matter if you are hiring someone for a long term or a short term project, as a client, you should be completely protected from any issue that may appear.
So, where to hire a remote website developer?
If you’re looking for an individual engineer that will help you with a small task or a short-term project, UpWork is one of the best options. It’s a platform for freelancers from all over the world. Here you can find the contractors who speak the same language as you and pay in a comfortable currency. But the popularity of the platform also attracts different kinds of people (from beginners to the top-rated contractors), so finding the right candidate can take some time and energy. Also, keep in mind that hiring an experienced engineer can be costly.
When you need to hire engineers for long term projects, there’s another trusted platform — YouTeam — a marketplace for hiring offshore teams of developers and other creators. The advantages of hiring from there is big:
It is up to you which platform to choose when they both are very good towards clients and engineers they work with.The bottom line
Hiring a remote website developer might be a challenge for those who never did it before. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, using a remote website developer is a necessity now for a majority of businesses.
First of all, you have to decide if you want to hire website developers yourself or need a contractor to do that for you. The hiring platform can help to source the best candidates. But the final decision about hiring is yours. Use our guide to make sure that you’ve discussed all aspects of the future work with your potential employee and they will be the best fit for your team as well as your project.
Illustrations are great pieces of art. There are so many great works out there, and we’ll be taking on some of the most influential and famous illustrators, and their works.Famous Illustrators
Charles M. Schultz is the creator of Peanuts, and basically the godfather of daily comic strips.
Peanuts is one of the most famous, most translated, most awarded, and most influential comic series ever. Since it’s been created, it’s been published in 2,600 daily newspapers in 75 countries and 21 languages. Since the creation of Peanuts, Schultz drew and published 17,897 strips for Peanut. Can you imagine that?
Since the strip started, Schultz only took one holiday break, and that was for 5 weeks, in 1997 to celebrate his 75th birthday, but kept running the reruns of Peanuts during that time. That only happened once during Schultz’s lifetime.
Schultz had received the most prestigious awards from fellow cartoonists, won Emmy awards for his animated works, had NASA spacecraft named after his characters.
What an inspiration!H.R Giger Credit: AZCentral
If you are into sci-fi, there is no chance you haven’t seen any of Giger’s workaround. His style is incredibly unique, melding the biological and the mechanical aspects together. His talents were discovered by Ridley Scott and Giger’s talents were put on a display with a sci-fi movie, called Star Beast. Later, this movie was entitled to Alien as we all know and love today.
Giger created amazing work throughout his life, and he actually created the concept art for the movie adaptation of Dune by Jodorowsky. The film actually never got made, but check out Giger’s Dune concept art to see what could have been!Richard Corben Credit: Pinterest
Richard Corben may not be as widely known as some of the illustrators in the list, but when you see his work, you instantly identify it even if you don’t know his name. He is best known for his comic work that is featured in Heavy Metal Magazine. He has also received many awards, and H.R Giger actually once wrote: “People like Richard Corben are, in my view, maestros.”William Blake Credit: Tate.org.uk
William Blake was a 19th century English poet and a painter. Even though his art didn’t gain much popularity during his lifetime, his art had a huge influence on the world. His depictions of various subject matters and biblical ones still take a huge place in popular culture today. Blake has influenced and inspired many artists with his poetry and painting.Maurice Sendak Credit: Barnes & Noble
Maurice Sendak was an American illustrator and children’s book writer. He gained popularity with his famous book, Wild Things Are, that was published in 1963. The book influenced many children around the world, especially in the USA.
The book sold 20 million copies since it’s publication date and changed the whole perception of artwork for children’s books. Sendak never created a sequel for the book, one the basis of finding the idea “boring”.
After his death in 2012, the New York Times actually put together all his lifetime achievements and deemed Sendak as the “the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century”.
These are the 5 most famous illustrators that influenced many artists around the world, and their works keep living on. And those artists are now creating some of their own amazing artworks, if you are interested in learning more about them, make sure to check the best cg artwork around the world.
“Proficient in Excel” is a common skill reported on resumes. And while many feel confident in their ability to navigate Excel, there’s a lot beyond the rows, columns, and simple mathematics that beginners are accustomed to using.
Most businesses use Excel for a range of projects, and most require a knowledge level that exceeds the basics.Excel: An indispensable tool
A strong knowledge of Excel can give you an advantage in any industry, as it’s a powerful tool for a wide scope of both simple and complex tasks — analyzing stocks, budgeting, managing projects, and organizing client information.Finance
Financial analysts used to spend weeks solving complicated formulas, either by hand or with slow computer programs. Today, these analysts can do the same work in minutes — thanks to Excel.Marketing
Spreadsheets are a powerful tool when it comes to tracking sales targets and analytics. Carefully organizing your data with Excel can help you plan future marketing strategies and allow you to reflect on your past successes and on areas that need improvement. With more advanced tools, such as pivot tables — which we’ll explain in depth later — you can easily summarize customer and sales data by category.
You can also use Excel to organize social media posts or store data for mailing lists and other market research.Human resources
Excel can help you manage payroll and employee information, giving you the ability to visualize trends, track expenses, and see an organized collection of all employees and their compensation levels.
HR professionals can use Excel to see where costs are going and to plan for — and control — future expenses.Overview of Excel’s uses
While there are obvious uses for Excel in particular industries, as mentioned above, this software provides limitless tools for a wide variety of businesses:
Solid knowledge of this software means you’ll be well aware of all the formulas and shortcuts that can save you from long, tedious hours of data entry and manual mathematics. If you’re looking to tackle this sometimes intimidating program, the rest of this Microsoft Excel tutorial will provide you with key tips and tricks that will help you conquer the software.Excel basics Laying the groundwork
When you open a spreadsheet, the empty rows and columns stare back at you, waiting to be put to use. The options are endless, as Excel can tackle an exhaustive list of tasks. The key, however, is knowing how to use the program to its fullest potential.
Before dedicating hours of tireless work maneuvering complicated spreadsheets and manually copying and pasting data, it’s important to master the basics. In return, you’ll be better prepared for any Excel project that’s thrown your way.The building blocks of Excel
When you get started with a new spreadsheet, you’ll probably need to make some tweaks and adjustments to the standard layout of a new Excel sheet.Inserting rows/columns
As you input data, you’ll probably need to add more rows and columns. While you could do this one by one, this is a perfect example of how understanding Excel and its shortcuts can save you significant time and frustration.
To add multiple rows or columns in a spreadsheet, highlight the number of preexisting rows or columns that you want to add. If you want to add four rows, highlight four rows on the spreadsheet, right-click, and then select insert. Now you’ve efficiently added an additional four blank rows into your spreadsheet.How to move rows and columns
You’ll probably also need to move rows and columns in your spreadsheet. Your first instinct may be to copy the row and paste it where you want it, then delete the original. While that will certainly get you the results you want, there’s a quicker way to move rows and columns in Excel, explains Microsoft Office Support:
If you’re dealing with a data-heavy spreadsheet, it may be helpful to hide or unhide rows and columns so that you can see the information you need to understand and analyze your statistics. Just follow these steps:
You can also identify the row or column you wish to hide by typing the identifier in the Excel name box to the left of the formula field. To hide the third row, type B3.
To unhide columns or rows
In some cases, you may need to hide an individual cell in Excel, which is a little less straightforward than hiding rows or columns. Deleting a cell will clear it from your spreadsheet, so it will no longer be used in formulas, and you’ll lose the content. To remove the individual cell from view, but keep it in action
There may come a time when you need to merge two or more cells into one large cell. This can help to display your data or better fit the amount of content you’re trying to share. If you’re trying to merge cells that contain data, the Excel “merge cells” feature will eliminate the data in all cells except for the cell in the upper left position of the selection.
The Merge & Center option in Excel is the fastest way to do this:
This can be useful if you have a long list of items and want to use the cells to the right to create a larger space to fit your text. If you click the Merge & Center option, a dropdown menu will appear. This menu gives you the options to Merge Across, Merge Cells, and Unmerge Cells. Make sure that all of your important data is in the top-left cell, or it will be erased.
To unmerge cells in Excel, select the cell and the arrow next to Merge & Center so you can select Unmerge Cells from the dropdown menu.How to split cells
Sometimes you may want to separate a list of items in one cell. Instead of re-entering all of your information, there’s a shortcut that can make your life easier.
If a set of data is separated by a comma or other characters in a single cell, you can use Text to Columns to spread the data into their own individual cells:
This is a good preventive measure to take if you anticipate sharing your spreadsheet with others. Locking cells will prevent accidental changes to your data. You can lock all the cells in a worksheet, or you can simply select specific cells to lock if you want to allow other people to alter parts of your spreadsheet.
When you protect a sheet or workbook, by default all the cells will be locked. This prevents them from being reformatted, deleted, or edited. Here’s how to lock a sheet:
If you’re looking to protect only certain cells in an Excel worksheet and want to leave the remainder open to editing, you can take a different route. For example, if you have a collaborative worksheet that has names and information that will always stay the same but quantities that change every month, you may only want to lock the unchanging cells.
You can choose which cell should be locked by using the formatting properties for the cell:
You can use a keyboard shortcut if you want to change the protection on cells that aren’t adjacent to one another. Simply select a cell or group of cells and use the Format Cells feature to lock or unlock it. To do the same thing with other cells, the keyboard shortcut is F4. When you press that, it will replicate what you did in the previous cell.Formatting text
To apply either a strikethrough, subscript, or superscript to text within Excel, start with the Font Settings button, which appears in the lower right corner of the Font section. You can also use a keyboard shortcut: CTRL + 1.
This will open a dialog box, which provides more extensive font options. Here, you can adjust the font type, color, size, style, and effects. Under the effects is where you’ll find options for strikethrough, superscript, or subscript. Just check the box for the one you’d like to apply. Click OK, and the text in your selected cell will be modified.Pro Tip
CTRL + 5 will apply a strikethrough to the text in selected cells.Using simple math in Excel
Excel has useful formulas that can complete calculations. Here are four simple tips to remember when applying Excel formulas to perform basic math:
If you’re looking to use multiple operations in one formula, remember the order of operations (PEMDAS). Apply parentheses around the math equations that should be calculated first.Using Goal Seek
Goal Seek is a tool that helps you see how one value in a formula is going to affect another value. Essentially, it figures out what you need to do in order to get the result you want in the cell that contains your formula.
This is really helpful because it does a lot of the thinking for you. All you need to do is specify these three things:
Goal Seek is useful for financial modeling. Business owners often use it to determine the amount in sales they need to make to reach a target benchmark.
To use Goal Seek
Large amounts of data and complex calculations can be overwhelming for anyone. However, Excel has many tools, like some key formulas we’ll cover here, to make spreadsheets less daunting. Using these formulas can increase productivity, decrease stress, and maximize accuracy — no more calculation mistakes!
There’s an exhaustive list of complicated formulas available to every Excel user, and while they’re all waiting at your fingertips, it’s important to know which formula to use and when to use it. Here are some formulas that can help you master Excel and streamline your tasks.How to calculate standard deviation
Standard deviation is a statistic that measures how much variation is in a data set. It’s a useful tool when scientists are conducting a study and need to track the degree of variation in the data. A low standard of deviation illustrates that the variations are very close to the mean, and a high standard of deviation reveals that data points are spread further out from the mean.
Often, finding the standard deviation for an entire population can be unrealistic, hence the popularity of using a sample of the population when dealing with a large data set.
Excel allows you to calculate the standard deviation (which is functionally the same as calculating standard error) of your data without having to do any math yourself. You just need to understand which formulas to use, as there are six standard deviation formulas in Excel.
For sample standard deviation — the most common choice — the applicable formulas are STDEV.S, STDEVA, and STDEV.
Here are the three key formulas broken down:
If you decide it’s reasonable to calculate the entire population, these formulas function the same way.Using the STDEV.S formula in practice
The syntax of the function used in Excel looks like this: STDEV.S (number 1,[number 2], etc.).
Number 1 is the mandatory argument in the formula. Number 2 is the optional argument in the formula. The optional argument can be something as simple as a single data point, a range of data, a reference to an array, or any of the additional 200+ arguments
If you’re using the numbers in column A, the formula may look like this when applied: =STDEV.S(A2:A10). Excel will then provide the standard deviation of the formula.How to calculate an average
You may need to find the average of your data, for example, determining the average price of your products or the average amount of time it takes to complete a task. You don’t need to waste time calculating this yourself when Excel has a formula that can do it much quicker.
The AVERAGE function looks for what is called the central tendency, says Microsoft Office Support. Basically, this means that it looks for the center point in the distribution of your data.
The average is an arithmetic mean, which is calculated by adding a group of numbers and then dividing by the total count of those numbers.
To calculate the average of numbers in a contiguous row or column
If the range B2:B20 contains numbers, the formula AVERAGE=(B2:B20) will return the average of those numbers. Number 1 is required as the first number, cell reference, or range for which you want the average. Number 2 is optional and can involve additional numbers to include, as well as cell references or ranges you want the average of.How to calculate linear regression
If you have a lot of data and need to use it to make predictions about the future of your business, there are endless factors that can impact these numbers. Regression analysis can tell you what factors matter the most and how they relate to each other. Linear regression models the relationship between two variables, one of which is independent and the other, which is dependent, using a linear function.
In Excel, you perform a linear regression using the least-squares method. The formula is y = bx + a.
The goal is to find a and b.
The LINEST function in Excel uses the least-squares method to calculate a straight line that best explains the relationship between your variables and returns an array that describes the line. The syntax will look something like the following:
=LINEST(known y,known x)
The “known ys” are required and reference the dependent y values in the regression equation. Typically, this is a single row or column. The “known xs” are optional and involve a range of the independent x values.
This must be entered as an array formula. Select two adjacent cells in the same row, type the formula, and press Ctrl, Shift, and Enter (simultaneously) to complete it. In return, the formula provides the b coefficient and the a constant.Analysis ToolPak
You can run regressions in Excel by using a special tool included with an add-in. This will eliminate the need to use the LINEST function. To run the Analysis ToolPak
Once you get comfortable with formulas, you may find that you’re using one of more of them frequently in one spreadsheet. This can start to make your data confusing. You might wonder how these formulas relate to each other and what your original data was. Opting to show your formulas within Excel instead of the results can help you keep track of what was used in each calculation as well as make it clear whether you made any errors in your formulas.
When you enter a formula in a cell and press Enter, Excel will immediately display the results. However, there are a couple other options for displaying all the formulas within the cells instead.Using the Excel ribbon
While on your Excel worksheet, go to the Formulas tab and select the Formula Auditing group. Next, click the Show Formulas button.
You’ll instantly see the formulas displayed within the cells. If you want to perform a quick check of everything for accuracy, you can just as easily revert to the original display. In that case, just select the Show Formulas button again.Show Formulas shortcut
To quickly see every formula displayed, this is the fastest route. If you plan on toggling back and forth often, remembering this shortcut will save you a lot of time.
The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + ` (hold the control key and the grave accent key simultaneously). The grave accent key is the furthest to the left at the top of your keyboard — just to the left next to the number 1 key.How to use absolute reference
In an Excel spreadsheet, a cell reference is used to set up a formula that will calculate information you want from a cell or a range of cells. It can refer to data from contiguous cells, in different areas of the worksheet, or on other worksheets in the same workbook.
Relative cells copied to more than one row or column will change depending on their position. This is useful when you want to use the same calculation in each row or column. But if you need your cell reference to stay the same when it’s moved, copied, or filled, you’ll find absolute reference useful. It will allow the reference to point back to the same cell, regardless of the appearance of the workbook.
Here are the steps to creating an absolute reference:
Mastering Excel is all about knowing how to do things in the most effective, time-efficient way. Since Excel is the go-to software for making sense of data, the more you know about it, the better.
According to the Harvard Business Review, if we work in an office setting, we spend a surprising amount of time — over 10 percent of our lives — working with spreadsheets, and for people who work in data-driven fields (like research), that percentage triples.
That’s a lot of time, which is why improving your Excel skills and decreasing the amount of time you spend with it each day would make you more productive and get some hours of your life back. Here we’ll cover some Excel functions that can make your data-driven tasks a bit easier.Using the IF function
According to Microsoft Office Support, a lot of Excel users find the IF function one of the most useful. It helps you run a kind of logical test on your data. Basically, it enables you to ask Excel to test a condition, and it will tell you whether the condition is TRUE (has been met) or FALSE (has not been met).
For reference, here’s how the syntax for the IF formula looks:
IF(logical_test, [value_if_true], [value if false])
There are three arguments in what we see above, but only the first one (logical_test) is required. This is where you establish the rules of your test using a value or other data point. The remaining arguments are optional:
Example of IF functions
If you’re testing to determine whether a score is pass or fail, it could look like this:
=IF(A1>=75, “Pass”, “Fail”)
So if the value in A1 is equal to or greater than 75, Excel will return with a “Pass.” Otherwise, it’ll return with a “Fail.”Using VLOOKUP
VLOOKUP can be a huge help when you’re looking for something specific within Excel, as it eliminates the need to scroll through all of your data. It helps you find things in a table or a range based on rows, depending on your preference. Generally speaking, the VLOOKUP function tells Excel
It’s most useful to organize your data so that the value you look up is to the left of the return value you want to find.Steps to using VLOOKUP
Microsoft Office Support suggests the following to build your VLOOKUP syntax:
The function will look like the following:
=VLOOKUP(lookup value, range containing the lookup value, the column number in the range containing the return value, approximate match (TRUE) or exact match (FALSE))Using the MATCH function
The MATCH function is another lookup and reference tool within Excel. It searches for a specified value in a range of cells and returns the relative position of that value.
Here’s the syntax for the MATCH function:
MATCH(lookup_value, lookup_array, [match_type])
The first two elements are required. The look_up value sets up the value you’re looking for. The lookup_array specifies the range of cells to search. The match type is optional. It can be one of these values: 1, 0, -1.
Excel’s INDIRECT function is unique because it doesn’t perform calculations or evaluate conditions or logical tests. The INDIRECT function is a reference tool that allows you to make adjustments to a cell reference in a formula rather than having to make changes to the actual formula. It gives you a lot of flexibility because adding or deleting rows or columns won’t impact the indirect references.
The syntax for using the INDIRECT looks like this:
Ref_text is a cell reference or a named range. A1 is a logical value that specifies what type of reference is contained in the ref_text argument. If true, ref_text is seen as an A1-style cell reference. If false, ref_text is treated as a R1C1 reference.
If you’re looking to build dynamic cell references or lock cell references to prevent automatic changes, INDIRECT will be an incredibly useful tool.Data filtering, sorting, and formatting Getting organized
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of Excel and some useful formulas and functions, we’ll cover some ways to format, sort, and filter your data so that you can more easily manage it.Making a pivot table
A pivot table can be an incredibly helpful tool for summarizing and making sense of your large and potentially overwhelming data sets. Pivot tables provide a summary of the data within a chart, making worksheets with long rows and columns much more visually appealing and understandable. You can use them to compare sales of different products, combine duplicate data, or count rows that have data in common.
Here are the key steps to creating a pivot table:
Dropdown lists can be useful tools for showcasing predefined lists or creating an interactive form on an Excel spreadsheet.Using data from cells
If you already have a list in the cells of your Excel worksheet, follow these steps:
A Microsoft Word file is referred to as a document. An Excel file is referred to as a workbook. A number of individual worksheets can often represent related information within one Excel workbook. You may occasionally find it useful to combine the worksheets in a workbook to access the data represented in each sheet at the same time.
Here’s how to consolidate your worksheets:
Duplicate values can sometimes create problems in your Excel worksheets, largely because they can skew your data. If duplicates are complicating your data sets and making them harder to understand, Excel has some ways to manage this. For example, you can use conditional formatting to find and highlight any extra data you may want to clear.
Here are the steps to apply conditional formatting:
To begin, click on the column that you want to work on:
You can easily organize your data from A–Z with the filter function in Excel. Follow the steps below:
Sometimes you’ll need to switch data that’s in different cells. Of course, you can take the more manual route of copying the information you want to move and pasting it where you want it, but this sometimes creates the problem of duplicate data.
Excel has a handy formula that will actually do the work for you and help you avoid that problem. Here’s how to use the TRANSPOSE function to rearrange your cells:
=TRANSPOSE(area you want to transpose)
If you want to transpose the information from A10 to B14, the formula will be =TRANSPOSE(A10:B14).
The quickest way to autofit in Excel is by double-clicking the column or row border.
Excel is really impressive when you’re dealing with complex calculations or extensive data entry, but it isn’t always the easiest thing for our eyes to make sense of. Long, exhaustive rows and columns can be hard to process.
So when you’ve made sense of your data and need to present the story the data reveals, sometimes a visual aid can really help. Here are some tips and tricks for data visualization that will take you beyond the spreadsheet.Using tables in Excel
When your data is organized in rows and columns, it may look like a table. But an Excel worksheet tends to lack the stylized, colorful presentation of a true table. Using the Excel table option allows you to create the look of a table and isolate certain portions of a worksheet that will function independently of other information in the worksheet.
Besides the obvious aesthetics, here are some other bonuses of using a table:
It’s important to make sure that your data is clean before you get started, so remove any blank rows and choose appropriate headings for your columns.How to create a table
Here’s how to create a table that uses a default style:
If you’d prefer to select your own style for the table, follow these steps:
The name of your table will automatically default to Table1 or Table2. This is fine if it suits your needs, but it’s often easier to locate a specific table if it has a distinct title.
You can rename a table in a few easy steps:
Charts are undoubtedly one of the best tools to translate your data from a chaotic group of numbers and unwieldy text to something that’s understandable and effective. Here, we’ll cover how to make a range of graphs and charts — from a pie chart to a histogram:
Excel doesn’t offer a built-in Gantt chart option, but with a little clever formatting and the bar graph functionality, you can build one yourself.
A histogram is a graphical representation of the distribution of numerical data. Like Gantt charts, it isn’t available through Excel’s built-in options, but you can use a formula to get the presentation you want.
The FREQUENCY function will return the number of values that fall within specific ranges, ignoring text values and blank cells.
The syntax is as follows:
Enter the FREQUENCY function as a multi-cell array formula. Select a range of adjacent cells to output the frequencies, type the formula in the formula bar, and complete it by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Enter.Applying Excel to your life and business
Being confident in your Excel capabilities will help you succeed in the office and beyond. Once you’re acquainted with the software and know the wide range of its capabilities, you may find yourself using Excel to complete a much wider range of tasks, both at work and at home.
To make things easier, we’ve included tips for converting your Excel documents into different formats, as well as several real-life use cases for Excel.Excel conversions Excel to PDF in Microsoft Office
As we’ve seen throughout this guide, Excel can tackle a lot of data-related projects — from working through basic math to creating more complex formulas and completing a wide range of data visualization tasks. That makes Excel a powerful tool for project management.
Gantt charts, as an example, can be an incredibly powerful way to track the phases of a project. The series of horizontal bars each represent a specific task for your project and can make your team’s work schedule more understandable through clear visuals.
Excel can also be great for making and updating budgets. Excel’s seamless compatibility with other Microsoft Office software, like Word and PowerPoint, means that it’s also easier to present your budgets in a variety of ways.How to make a budget
While creating a budget for Excel at work is going to be more extensive and complex than making your own, this is a great way to showcase how the software is a vital tool at the office and at home. Here’s a quick guide for making an at-home budget or for tracking work expenses using Excel:
In some cases, you might want to randomize your data. To generate random whole numbers in Excel, use the RANDBETWEEN function. This will generate a number between two numbers that you specify.
Microsoft Excel has built-in tools that make it easier to find specific information and keep track of data. To create your own database in an Excel worksheet, follow these steps:
We’ve dedicated a lot of time to covering what you can do with Excel and how to do it, but there are other options out there for completing your Excel-oriented tasks.Google Sheets vs Excel
Google Sheets is probably the number-one alternative to Excel; its cloud-based technology makes it optimal for sharing your data with coworkers and clients, and it can do the majority of what an average Excel user needs. Its auto-save feature prevents you from losing your worksheets during unexpected computer issues.
Although Excel has a significant head start, Google is catching up in terms of both functions and formulas.Other Excel alternatives
Apache OpenOffice Calc is another alternative to Excel. It resembles Microsoft Office software from around 2003. Though it can complete most of the same functions as Excel, it often does so in different ways.
On the downside, LibreOffice Calc struggles with advanced charts, and it can’t handle outside data sources, says TechRepublic.JotForm and Excel
JotForm is well integrated with Excel, which can save you the headache of converting data and help make sharing more efficient. You can export your forms from JotForm to an Excel spreadsheet with ease, and you can indicate which fields to include in the report. You can also apply password protection to your report.
While Excel can seem daunting at first glance, once you’ve become comfortable with the ins and outs, you’ll find it to be an incredibly useful tool. Taking it step by step and familiarizing yourself with the basics before moving on to more complicated territory will make it feel a lot less daunting.
When it comes to sorting, organizing, and understanding your data, Excel could quickly become your favorite tool. JotForm’s capabilities for importing and exporting Excel reports are especially helpful for all users, whether they’re a certified pro or just starting out.
Early 1980s, we are in Hawkins, Indiana trying to solve the mystery of the Upside Down. Who could ever watch Stranger Things and not fantasize about being a part of that nerdy gang, right?
This nostalgic, binge-worthy sci-fi series surely was something special. Primarily inspired by the classic 80s horror movies, Stranger Things revived a lot of memories, especially for Stephen Spielberg and Stephen King fans. The show goes deeper in many pop-culture elements and makes fans of A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Ghost Busters appreciate it even more if that’s even possible.
Some members of the gang might seem a little less interested in playing Dungeons & Dragons towards the end of the show because of the hormones however Stranger Things was also a geek haven for D&D fans especially in the first season.
Beyond all this, if there is one stylistically recognizable feature of Stranger Things, it’s the logo. Glowing red letters floating in the darkness as the frame zooms out, and all combined with the spooky theme at the end, Stranger Things!
Beyond doubt, it is one of the most iconic TV series logos of all time. More than recognizable in fact some fans even argue that aesthetically the 80s themed title sequence symbolizes the hive-mind concept and the collectivism theme in the show.Dissecting the Stranger Things Logo
The history of the Stranger Things logo dates back to the 1970s. The font was designed by an American type designer and calligrapher, Ed Benguiat, and released by the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in 1977. It is widely used in popular culture and was specifically chosen by Imaginary Forces, a creative studio whom Duffer Brothers work with.
If you are wondering why this font looks so familiar, it’s because ITC Benguiat is used on the covers of Stephen King novels published in the 1980s. That is exactly why it was chosen to be the font of the Stranger Things logo.
One last fun fact is that it is also used by Quentin Tarantino for the opening and end credits of his movies
Without further ado, we like to share some of the best Stranger Things logo variations and artworks that will take you deeper into the darkness.Stranger Things Logo and Artworks by Jonathan Ball Stranger Things by Rafael Serra Stranger Things by Marie Bergeron by milo van sluis by Sam Dunn by Studio ?adne Halo by Timi Alonge Hawkins by bek 11 by Deborah Lee by Hans Bennewitz by doug ahern design by Jonathan Ball Conclusion
These were some of our favorite Stranger Things logo variations and artworks that make us feel like we are wandering in the unknowns of the Upside Down. Tell us in the comment section, if it weren’t for this epic logo, would Stranger Things give us the chills it usually did when we see a glowing, red neon billboard at night.
Launching a new podcast show is so darn exciting.
(I know, I’ve been podcasting for over five years and have launched two successful shows so far.)
First, you read everything there is about starting a podcast. You get the right gear and figure out how to make everything sound great. And finally, you hit record and feel the thrill of the show coming together.
But eventually, reality kicks in too. You realize that you must find a way to attract listeners. Without them, all your efforts would have been in vain, after all.
A pretty scary thought, right?
Well, true, but only until you’ve read this post. Why, because this guide will teach you everything about getting those crucial first listeners for your show.
You’ll discover the best strategies to help you on the launch day and the best ways to tell new audiences about the podcast.
So, let’s begin.1. Start With More than Just a Single Episode
Imagine – You’ve recorded the first episode. You’ve edited the sound and created amazing show notes. It’s all ready to go.
Now, you just can’t wait to fire it up to Apple, Stitcher, or Spotify.
As irresistible as the urge to upload that episode might be, don’t launch the show with just that one recording. There are good reasons for waiting until you have at least a couple of episodes ready.
First, you’ll give the audience a chance to continue enjoying your show without having to wait for a new episode to land.
People who come across your show, and love what they hear, might want more. That’s hardly possible if they’ll find just one episode live.
Pat Flynn, the host of the hugely popular Smart Passive Income podcast, experienced it first hand. He recalled:
“I once launched a podcast with a single episode and actually received negative reviews from people who had listened to the first episode and were upset that there was only one. When people love your stuff, they’re going to want more of it, so give them what they want.”
Secondly, having more shows on the launch day may help you get to iTunes’ New and Noteworthy category. It’s practically impossible to do with just one episode.
At a minimum, record three to five episodes and publish them all at once. After that, you can start shipping new content at your usual frequency.2. Create Standout Visuals for the Show
Take a look at any podcast category on iTunes. Here’s what I see under Business, for example:
Look how small the show titles are. It’s no different when it comes to the publisher’s name.
But the image… Well, that you can see even from a distance.
This means that your potential audience will, most likely, first notice the show cover, and only then, read the show name beneath it. So, the more engaging and noticeable your show cover is the higher your chances of getting noticed.
But go beyond just the cover. Create additional images you’re going to use to promote shows.
Here’s a list of templates I recommend you design to promote the show.
A bigger version of episode cover to share on social media.
Quotes from the show, and share them on social media as well
Background for audio clips3. Submit Your Podcast to All Directories and Aggregators
I know, it sounds pretty obvious to do. And yet, I see so many new podcasters skipping this step, focusing all their efforts just on iTunes.
Now, Apple’s Podcasting platform is huge and certainly worth the effort. But it’s not the only one. Tons of other apps and directories allow you to submit the show to be discovered by the app’s audience.
Some of the must-do free directories and aggregators include:
(Quick Tip: here’s a full list of podcast directories to submit your podcast to.)
For most of those, you’ll need to create an RSS file to submit. You could create the file yourself, although the process requires you to code it from scratch.
Alternatively, you can use a podcast hosting provider like Castos (disclaimer, my company) to do it for you.4. Leverage Your Guests’ Audiences
This strategy works if you run an interview-based podcast and host guests on the show regularly.
These people have audiences of their own, people who, at a minimum, would be interested in hearing your interview with that person.
That’s your opportunity to introduce the show to new audiences.
Ask your guests to help spread the word on their episode. Since they’ve already taken part in the recording, you can be practically sure that they will want to let their audience know about it.
Also, make it easy for your guests to promote the show. Prepare the visuals I mentioned above for their episode, and share them with the guest. This way, the only thing they’ll need to do is share those visuals on their social media accounts.
To make it super easy for guests to help you spread the word, I recommend sending them at least the following:
Although a podcast is a distinct format – audio – it doesn’t mean that you are limited to presenting it that way only. Look at these YouTube clips, for example:
Neither of those are a video. They contain nothing else but a static background image, and yes, you guessed it – audio from a podcast show.
By converting those episodes into content for YouTube, both podcasts can now present their shows to a whole new audience.
There is one other trick I’d recommend. Instead of the episode title, call the video something like “Interview with [NAME OF YOUR GUEST.] – The title of the show/Topic of an interview.”
This will increase your chances of getting discovered in YouTube search by people looking for content relating to your guest.That’s It?
Well, of course not. You have a lot of work to do to grow your show. The four strategies I outlined above will help you introduce your new podcast to the first listeners and win some of them.
Best of luck!
Up-to-date goals and expectations are critical to staying solvent and successful in a volatile economy.
For many businesses, projections from the beginning of this year no longer remotely apply to their current operations.
In response, businesses must revise their financial forecasts amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
This means reconciling your financial forecasts from the beginning of the year with the current outlook.
As inventories bloat and sales slump, calculate which costs to cut and recalibrate your approach to profitability. Since the recovery timeline is uncertain, it’s best to brace for a prolonged slowdown.
Use this article to learn how to adjust financial expectations for success in a down economy.Adjust to a Unique Recession
The economic shutdowns on both national and local levels due to coronavirus are entirely novel.
Business and consumer confidence plummeted simultaneously, taking both supply and demand with them.
The impact of those changes has created a crunch for the U.S. and global economy, since it is powered by demand for services. Revenues are sliding, costs are rising, and credit lines are being drawn.
Meanwhile, general policy tools such as interest-rate cuts and fiscal stimulus have done little to enliven markets.
Economic inactivity is the reality until health authorities say it’s safe again – and businesses must plan accordingly.
Expect financial dislocations in your industry, revenue, and cost fluctuations, as well as opportunities to capitalize on the upheaval.Revise Down Forecasts
The impact of coronavirus is widespread but felt uniquely by each business.
To remain solvent, businesses must revise the forecasts, KPIs, and targets set at the beginning of the year.
It’s important to react quickly to shrinking profit margins.
As demand drops and prices fall, margins may fall but so too can costs. You must understand clearly where your profits and losses are coming from.
Start by assessing how expenses have shifted due to shrinkage in supply and demand.
You may be able to favorably renegotiate contracts with suppliers and contractors, while other costs may have increased. Be realistic about cost-cutting and remember that expenses may shift in months to come.
Reassess revenue projections with an eye for each stage of the sales funnel. For example, if you aren’t able to invest as much in inbound marketing such as content marketing or paid search ads, that impact may funnel up to your revenue generation.
Analyze profitability by product and customer to see where revenue is expected to hold, increase, or erode in the coming months. Then create new KPIs, sales targets, and forecasts based on these expectations.Aim to Increase Revenues
Businesses must get creative about revenue generation in a down economy.
For example, as competitors suffer liquidity issues or fall short of customer expectations, you can hire salespeople and increase marketing to gain those unserved customers.
Research shows that maintaining or increasing ad output during a slowdown enables you to outsell businesses that cut back. Short-term techniques like sales and price promotions work to attract savings-conscious consumers.
It’s equally important to maximize your current customers.
Implementing a rewards or loyalty program is an effective way to generate profitable upsells and cross-sells.
By showing your customers that you care, you guard them against the competition. Similarly, good customer service is core to earning revenue from both new and current customers.Balance Cost Reductions with Future Investments
While most businesses are cutting back to save cash, it may be wise to invest in the future.
This is because interest rates are at an all-time low and everything you need to operate is dropping in price.
If your margins and revenue projections allow it, consider:
Look for ways to cut back while improving operations. For example, creating lean processes is effective because it both lower overheads and frees up capital.
Training also is best done during slack periods. Upgrading the skills of your employees with on-the-job instruction or free online classes can pay dividends later.
Companies that develop better processes, products, or investments during a recession can emerge stronger on the other side.Avoid Overcorrection as Economy Recovers
Experts say that recovery will likely be quick but not instantaneous.
Instead of a V-shape, the recession may take a U-shape as the economy drags along before picking up again.
Companies will need time to restore inventory, supply chains, and normal staffing levels after months of inactivity. People’s confidence and spending habits may also change, leaving them less inclined to spend.
You’ll need resources to operate when the economy stabilizes, but overestimating your productivity or revenue in the early days of recovery could be disastrous.
For example, if you laid-off most of your employees, the delay and cost of rehiring your workforce will be sizable.
Meanwhile, service providers may have disappeared which can further disrupt your ability to run at capacity.
It’s best to be conservative when estimating post-recovery revenue, and realistic about costs and time needed to get back up to speed.Adjusting Forecasts in the Coronavirus Economy
Accurate financial forecasts and targets help you stay solvent in tough times. Adjust forecasts to inform your business strategy and improve your revenue.
Be sure to look for available loan forbearances, tax delays, and stimulus payouts your company qualifies for. Spending every dollar with intent is the best way to weather the storm.
Increasingly, and especially with the events of the first half of 2020, we are seeing a definitive shift to a more customer-centric culture.
It is no longer about the value inherent in a company’s product or service, but more essentially, what benefits that product/service brings to the consumer.
It needs to address their pain points, facilitate some aspect of their life, authentically help them. This more outward focus on the customer isn’t necessarily new, but it is newly emphasized given a climate in which every purchase is carefully weighed in light of economic impact and overall necessity.
That said, it becomes the responsibility of marketers to more effectively gauge what it is the buying public wants and needs. What strategies can they use to accomplish this? One way is, to begin with, a buyer persona. A buyer persona is basically a placeholder for that actual-ideal costumer. Let’s call it a fictional alter ego of sorts.
Companies have a target demographic, that demographic consists of those individuals toward whom products are geared. Now, the question is, what does this individual look like, generally speaking? What are their interests? Buying behaviors? Income level? Family status? The list can be extensive. The more you know, the better positioned you will be to persuade that person to take a look at your brand and its offerings.
Your buyer persona (or as the case may be personas—as many companies have more than one type of person they target) will serve as your guide. When considering product development, you definitely want to think about what that persona is looking for. When developing a marketing campaign, think about what might appeal most to them. Even as far as your website, develop it with an eye on what will keep that buyer persona on the page.
So how do you create this fictitious persona which (somewhat ironically) will give you a better connection to the real humans you deal with daily? Below are 5 things you need to keep in mind as you sit down at the drawing board to build out your buying personas.1. Research, Research, Research
Yes, in case you were wondering, there is something to be said for rolling up your sleeves and engaging in some good old fashioned research. The good thing here is that you have data at your fingertips. With Google Analytics and Facebook Insights doing much of the heavy lifting for you, it’s usually a matter of reviewing the information and extrapolating from there. You can easily figure out what interests your persona, what their online patterns tend to be, where they live. Using this information when crafting your persona is key.
Additionally, in doing your research due diligence, you can also spend some time on social media and thereby see where that ideal customer likes to hang out. And of course, there is the tried and true method of simply talking to current customers. Interviewing those who are actively working with you offers incredible insights into what your buyer persona is all about. It will take some legwork on your part here, but again you want as much data as you can possibly gather.2. Figure Out Their Most Pressing Pain Points
You ultimately sell goods/services because your customers have a problem or a pain point. It could be that they are lacking something in their life. It could also be that they waste time and thus want to find a way to be more productive. Whatever the pain points, these are things they are seeking to address.
Once you have a firm handle on what those pain points are in terms of your target audience, you apply this to your persona. This is who you need to be focused on and the problems about which they are concerned should be a central component of the campaign(s) you launch.3. What Promise Can You Offer
Hand in hand with defining those pain points is understanding where you come in. That is to say, how can you help alleviate their problems. All any of us want really is to make it through the day and do so with the most amount of happiness possible. You being able to say, here is one thing I can clear up for you, or I can help make that particular problem disappear, is huge.
You also here want to address the potential purchasing barriers your persona might have. People often have to be persuaded to buy; they may want to, but something is holding them back from pulling that trigger. Be it cost or risk, get to the heart of that barrier.4. Determine Their Goals
Whatever group you are targeting, they have goals in mind. They have dreams they are chasing, ambitions they are pursuing. Goals do in fact influence buying behavior. It could be a personal goal, professional, relationship goals even. The aspirations you identify in crafting your ideal persona don’t necessarily have to tie into your company. This again is just additional insight into what type of customer you are likely dealing with.
For many of us, our dreams and goals are what make us tick. We are driven in most aspects of your lives by this vision of what is to come. So yes, your buyer persona needs to have specific goals in mind. To figure out what these maybe, you could always again talk to current customers. Social media is another great way to gain information on your audience as far as their dreams and ambitions are concerned.5. Make Your Buyer Persona as Real as Possible
Once you’ve put in the time, energy, and research to figure out the “nuts and bolts” of your fictional customer, you want to set about defictionalizing that persona. In other words, try and build a buyer that is as real-seeming as possible. While this may seem somewhat strange at first, it goes a long way toward enabling you to relate to them and thereby design/develop/write for them and ultimately, if you’ve done your job, sell to them.
Go so far as to give them a name, job, family, location. What do they do in their spare time? What places have they traveled to? Put all of the pieces together and from this jigsaw watch, that buyer starts to take actual shape. And then, of course, it is all about keeping that buyer persona in mind as you make key decisions on everything from marketing to overall brand development.
Telecommuting is finally getting some respect. What was once an obscure work arrangement confined to a small number of jobs is now considered “the new normal” and an important factor for many job seekers.
Since 2005, regular telecommuting has increased by 173 percent. And since the onset of COVID-19, telecommuting has become a necessity, helping many organizations keep the proverbial doors open. Around half of the American workforce is telecommuting during the pandemic, more than double the amount who did so even occasionally in 2017–2018.
Many are hailing telecommuting as the future of work. The World Economic Forum has called it “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workforce. Technological advances ranging from the rise of cloud-based SaaS to improvements in internet connectivity and videoconferencing have made telecommuting easier and more practical. Remote work in some form — whether it’s part of the time or all of the time — is likely here to stay.
This is good news for employees and employers alike.
Telecommuters are an average of 35 to 40 percent more productive than office workers, and employees benefit from better work-life balance, among other things
But that doesn’t mean telecommuting isn’t without challenges. Organizations and employees that prepare and make a conscious effort to mitigate the downsides and maximize the benefits will get the most out of telecommuting. This guide aims to give you the background to do just that.
Here’s what you’ll learn in the chapters ahead:
Though much of this guide is intended for both managers and employees who are making the switch to telecommuting, some aspects will be valuable to organizations whose employees have been working remotely for some time. Whether you’re an employee or a manager, there’s always more you can learn and ways to be more efficient and get more out of the telecommuting experience.Telecommuting vs working from home
Working from home
Several of these terms seem to refer to the same thing, but do they?
“Distance work, remote work, geographically dispersed work — all these terms encompass a variety of work arrangements,” says Debra Dinnocenzo, founder of Virtual Works!, a telecommuting consultancy. “There are no agreed-upon definitions.”
While many people use the terms interchangeably, they have subtle differences in connotation. Telecommuting is the oldest of these terms; it’s been in use for nearly 50 years. At the time it was coined, the term spoke to the potential of then-emerging telecommunications technology to allow workers to transcend the downsides of commuting to the office.
Since then, the nature of knowledge work has changed. Mobile devices, SaaS tools, near-ubiquitous internet connectivity, globalization, and the increase in independent contractors has led to a multitude of new workplace configurations — and new terms to describe them.
So while telecommuting is rapidly growing in practice, the term itself is waning in popularity. According to Global Workplace Analytics, many people and organizations are moving away from using the terms telework and telecommuting, instead using remote work, distributed work, mobile work, smart working (U.K.), and workshifting (Canada).Telecommuting vs working from home
Telecommuting and working from home are two commonly used phrases to describe similar work arrangements.
Telecommuters are employees who have jobs that are usually done in an office but work offsite part time or full time. They may need to come to an office for certain tasks or events, or they may never meet their team in person.
This may be a formal arrangement or done ad-hoc. They most often work from home but can work from anywhere as long as their jobs are completed. Telecommuters are usually knowledge workers whose work is enabled by technology.
“I’d say that telecommuting incorporates some element of periodic, onsite work,” says Blake Stockton, business analyst at Fit Small Business. “Although both telecommuting and work from home rely heavily on communication tools like email, Slack, Trello, and Telegram, some would associate work from home with being geographically distant or, on certain occasions, flat-out uncontactable.”
Telecommuting as a concept typically refers to employees, rather than freelancers and the self-employed. (The “commuting” part implies there is an office they would otherwise be commuting to.) However, some may call self-employed remote workers telecommuters as well. In this guide, we’re referring to an employee arrangement, although for topics like best practices, there is crossover with remote contractors as well.
Working from home means just that: working from home. Some who work from home may have a home office or a home-based business. Not all people who work from home are telecommuters, just as all telecommuters don’t work from home, but there is crossover between the two.The history of telecommuting
The terms “telecommuting” and “telework” were coined in 1973 by former NASA engineer Jack Nilles in the book The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff. At the time, the OPEC oil crisis was in full swing, causing high fuel prices and long lines at gas stations across the U.S. Nilles proposed telecommuting as an alternative to transportation, and a solution to the growing problems of traffic, sprawl, and environmental degradation.
Over the next two decades, telecommuting grew slowly. In 1979, author Frank Schiff coined the term “flexplace,” and brought greater attention to the concept with an article for The Washington Post called “Working at Home Can Save Gasoline.” The first conference on telework took place the following year.
In the 1980s, retailer JC Penney began hiring home-based call center workers to take catalog orders. Throughout the rest of the decade, telecommuting slowly saw some adoption as fax machines and personal computers became widespread, enabling some office workers to begin working from home.The modern history of telecommuting
The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 raised awareness of air quality issues and encouraged a new wave of activity to support telecommuting. The federal government established the Interagency Telecommuting Pilot Project to popularize teleworking for government agencies in Washington, D.C., in 1992. Four years later, it implemented the National Telecommuting Initiative to help workers find teleworking opportunities. Major corporate players joined in, with AT&T creating an Employee Telecommuting Day and American Express transitioning its travel-related sales division to virtual offices.
Telecommuting saw huge growth in the late 2000s and 2010s, as improved internet connectivity and the growth of cloud computing and SaaS tools made it easier and more practical. According to Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting has increased 173 percent since 2005. Some companies, such as Automattic (the web development company that created WordPress) and social media management software Buffer, have established themselves as entirely remote companies.
2020 has seen an unprecedented explosion in telecommuting worldwide due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we can’t know the future, it seems likely this will prove to be a turning point for wider permanent adoption of telecommuting.Telecommuting trends and statistics
To get a better understanding of who telecommutes and how often, let’s take a look at some telecommuting statistics gathered from various sources and surveys over the past few years.Who is telecommuting?
According to Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of American Community Survey data, a typical telecommuter is
Of those who telecommute, 75 percent earn more than $65,000 per year, putting them in the upper 80th percentile of all employees — home- and office-based. In more than half of the top U.S. metro areas, telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice. It has grown far faster than any other commute mode, such as public transit, bicycling, or driving.
In enterprises, telecommuting is popular among executives and high-ranking managers. According to an Owl Labs survey, there are 18 percent more executives working remotely than there are working onsite. Forty-six percent of C-suite members and 55 percent of VPs work remotely at least part of the time.Size of the telecommuting workforce
How does telecommuting impact productivity? Let’s look at the numbers:
The history of telecommuting is one of continued growth and greater adoption, and the current trends and statistics seem to indicate that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future. And it’s no wonder, with all the advantages that telecommuting can bring. In the next chapter, we take a look at some of those benefits.Advantages of telecommuting
Telecommuting is an attractive proposition for many office employees, but they aren’t the only ones who benefit. Employers also have a lot to gain from a thoughtfully designed — and well-executed — work-from-anywhere plan.
The pandemic gave employers a compelling reason to start telecommuting programs; as a result, there have been many opportunities to study the phenomenon. Below are some of the benefits of telecommuting, many of which were known before the current crisis, and some of which have become clear only recently.1. Both employers and employees save money
Commuting to and working in an office costs both employers and employees big bucks. These expenses are reduced when workers telecommute. Employees working from home or close to their residence can save between $2,500 and $5,000 per year (or more) when telecommuting since they no longer have to pay for transportation, parking, and lunch on workdays. A survey by CosoCloud showed that 30 percent of remote workers reported saving as much as $5,240 per year.
For employers, telecommuting can reduce or eliminate the costs associated with maintaining an office. The primary savings are in real estate, but additional savings come from reductions in parking spaces, utilities, facility compliance costs, office supplies, travel subsidies, business travel expenses, and more. Global Workplace Analytics conservatively estimates that for every employee who telecommutes half-time, the employer saves an average of $11,000 per year.2. Employees are more productive
While it may seem that out-of-sight employees will slack off, anecdotal evidence, research surveys, and scientific studies all seem to show the opposite. As we listed in the previous chapter, the statistics show that telecommuters are more productive than their in-office counterparts.
Why the increase in productivity? Employees who telecommute can control their environment and work in a manner that best suits them. They don’t have to deal with the interruptions and distractions that so often happen in the office.
That’s not to say telecommuting can’t have its own distractions. (We’ll discuss those in the next chapter.) But by following the best practices we discuss later in this guide, employers and workers can achieve true productivity gains with telecommuting.3. Employees have more flexibility and a better work-life balance
Many employees are attracted to telecommuting because it gives them more control over their time. The flexibility of telecommuting allows workers to work during the hours they are most productive, take healthier breaks, and tend to the other responsibilities in their lives like household chores, personal errands, and caring for their families and children. This flexibility usually results in better work-life balance, happier employees, and greater productivity.
“The advantages of telecommuting include avoiding a stressful commute to work and having a more flexible schedule,” says Stockton. “A telecommuting employee has the luxury of eating lunch at home and being able to exercise in the middle of the day.”
Employees also get the time back they would otherwise spend commuting — for a half-time telecommuter, that saves 11 workdays per year. Extreme commuters can save more than three times that amount. That’s time better spent working, relaxing, or taking care of non-work responsibilities.4. Employers can hire from a wider talent pool
Companies that offer the opportunity to telecommute are no longer restricted to hiring professionals within driving distance of the office or left paying expensive relocation costs. Having access to a global talent pool also opens up positions to a much broader and more competitive range of applicants, allowing employers to hire the candidate who is the best fit for the job, regardless of where they live. This paves the way to a more diverse and more balanced workforce.5. Teams experience improved morale and higher employee retention
In addition to being more productive, telecommuters are also happier and enjoy their jobs more. A survey by OwlLabs found that 83 percent of employees said having the option to telecommute would make them happier. Similar percentages of employees indicated it would make them feel more trusted, alleviate stress, and improve their health and well-being, making them more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. Telecommuters were also 13 times more likely than onsite workers to say they planned to stay in their current job for the next five years.
For employers, happier and healthier employees mean less turnover and greater employee retention, fewer missed days of work due to illness, and a more motivated workforce. These all add up to direct savings — and a more enjoyable working environment for everyone.6. Enterprises improve their business continuity
COVID-19 has made clear another benefit of telecommuting: the impact on business continuity. “Telecommuting has saved the day during this pandemic. People talk about getting back to work, but many of us are still working. This couldn’t have happened 20 years ago,” says Dinnocenzo.
The disruption caused by the pandemic won’t soon be forgotten. Organizations that want to remain resilient through unexpected events, while creating a desirable work environment to attract and retain talent, now see the importance of successfully implementing a telecommuting program.Disadvantages of telecommuting
Though telecommuting has a lot of benefits, it comes with its share of challenges and disadvantages as well. While 83 percent of companies reported their transition to telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic was positive, they overwhelmingly said that success came only after overcoming difficulties in the transition.
It’s important to be aware of the potential disadvantages of telecommuting so you can properly prepare. Many of these aren’t necessarily a problem with telecommuting itself but with how it’s implemented. You can mitigate these issues by taking the steps laid out in the next two chapters.1. Managers have less oversight over employees
One reason telecommuting hasn’t been widely adopted sooner is employers’ fear that once workers are offsite — and out-of-sight — they will have no idea if workers are actually working. It’s true: For managers who are used to micromanaging or who need direct oversight over their employees, that’s simply not possible with telecommuting. For telecommuting to be successful, managers must trust their employees, relinquish some amount of control, and create clear performance benchmarks.2. Employees can be more vulnerable to distractions
Getting distracted can be a problem for anyone who works on a computer. This is arguably even worse in an office, as you’re frequently being interrupted. But there’s no doubt telecommuting can bring a whole new set of temptations and distractions. If you’re working from home, household chores may start to look appealing, not to mention TV, social media, family and roommates, or just taking a walk. Even when workers remain disciplined, team communication apps can disrupt focus. Slack has found that the average worker has the app open 10 hours per weekday!
The ability of telecommuters to focus depends on the individual employee and the company culture. While many workers can flourish in a telecommuting situation, some may not. Clear benchmarks can serve as motivators for employees who find the distractions of home difficult to overcome.3. Employers need to address security concerns
Another common concern for employers, especially larger enterprises or those dealing with sensitive information, is security. Allowing workers to telecommute can open up a whole range of vulnerabilities. Employees may work from insecure networks, such as a coffee shop, leaving network traffic exposed. They may access sensitive data from unsecured devices or expose them to others outside the office. They may back up data on personal devices.
These are valid concerns. IT security for telecommuters is different than for security for in-office workers. However, you can address these concerns through policies and training, which we’ll address in the next chapter.4. Unplugging after work can be difficult
According to a study by Buffer, the biggest challenge remote workers face is being able to unplug after work hours. It might sound like a paradox, but telecommuting can make work-life balance more difficult because there’s less of a clear delineation between work and leisure time.
One study found that U.S. employees who switched to remote work once the COVID-19 pandemic hit were logged in for an extra three hours per day. Surveys have also shown that many telecommuters work more hours and take less vacation time than they would if they worked onsite. While this may sound like a benefit to some employers, it can lead to burnout and exhaustion.5. Team members may feel lonely
For many employees, the lack of social interaction that comes naturally in an office can be a big disadvantage of telecommuting. The Buffer report found that 19 percent of remote employees report loneliness as their biggest challenge. The CoSo Cloud survey found that more than half of remote employees say they feel disconnected from in-office employees. The lack of “water cooler” conversations can hit extroverts particularly hard.
To maintain team rapport, managers need to be more conscious and creative about finding ways to bring people together, whether through regular in-person events, online team-building activities, or casual video meetings that encourage socializing.6. Some types of work suffer when telecommuting
While the COVID-19 pandemic is making it clear that more jobs than we thought can be done from home, some types of work remain less effective when done by telecommuters.
In the past few years, companies such as Yahoo and IBM banned telecommuting, citing declines in collaboration and innovation. While working alone can boost productivity, isolation can also prevent spontaneity, creativity, and happy accidents that can happen when people work together.
For creative teams who rely on group brainstorming and new ideas, getting the creative energy flowing in person can be the superior option. And for teams that work closely with physical items, telecommuting can also be a hindrance.
Dinnocenzo relays an example: “I was working with a company that makes lab equipment. They do a lot of process improvement and problem resolution. They’ve found it to be a challenge to do work remotely. They work directly with the equipment, and for them, it’s easier to just do it together in a room. Until technology advances, some things are just harder to do remotely.”How to create a successful telecommuting policy
You can minimize many of the disadvantages mentioned in the previous section by creating a telecommuting policy, management style, and best practices that stress the benefits of telecommuting while avoiding its potential pitfalls.
While successful telecommuting must be founded on trust in your employees, creating a clear telecommuting policy will help clarify employer and employee responsibilities and save you headaches down the line.What is a telecommuting policy?
During COVID-19, telecommuting has been essential to keeping many organizations running. Every organization that has workers who can telecommute needs a telecommuting policy. Even if you don’t plan to make telecommuting an option for all employees, you at least need a plan for telecommuting during emergencies, like the COVID-19 pandemic. By creating and enforcing a telecommuting policy, you can lay out what’s expected of both employees and employers.
A telecommuting policy should determine which employees are eligible for telecommuting and when; how these employees can switch to telecommuting; and the practices, conditions, expectations, and tools they need to use while telecommuting. The policy should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and be a continuous work in progress as you discover the most effective practices for telecommuting for your organization.Legal considerations of telecommuting
It’s important for employers to consult their legal counsel before beginning a telecommuting program or working on a telecommuting policy. If you have to begin telecommuting before your policy is in place, ask legal for guidance as soon as you’re able, because telecommuting can impact compliance in various areas, such as
The first step in creating a telecommuting policy is to determine who is eligible to telecommute and when they are eligible to do so. Organizations implement a broad range of policies that vary from allowing workers to telecommute full time, whenever they want, or a certain number of days per week.
As we mentioned in the last chapter, having employees work offsite can bring new security risks. Work with your IT department to create a technology security plan and policy for all telecommuters, and then provide them with the tools and training they need to be compliant.
Don’t overlook the importance of training once the policy has been developed. GetApp found that despite receiving confidential business data at their remote location, just over half of remote employees say they received internet security training.
When developing your security policy and IT guidelines for telecommuting employees, here are some potential practices to include:
Once you’ve drafted your telecommuting policy, it’s time to create an agreement for employees to sign. A signed agreement helps guide a telecommuting arrangement and can be used to settle any disputes.
If you use one of JotForm’s agreement templates, your telecommuting agreements will automatically be saved as secure PDFs that can easily be downloaded, shared with all involved parties, or printed for future reference.Best practices for effective telecommuting
In the last chapter, we discussed how many of the challenges associated with telecommuting can be overcome with a good telecommuting policy. But telecommuters need more than a policy to be successful. They need the right tools, support from their managers, and good work habits to stay focused, healthy, and productive.
In this chapter, we discuss best practices and tips for both telecommuting employees and managers, the importance of a proper workspace, and the essential equipment and software that all distributed teams need.Tips and guidelines for telecommuting employees Create a work routine
Some remote workers are allowed to work at the time that best suits their schedule and natural rhythms. Are you an early bird who likes to start before the sun is up? Or a night owl who’s most productive burning the midnight oil?
If your job doesn’t require set hours, you get to choose the time that works for you. Take advantage of this, but be sure to maintain consistency.
Working at the same time every day encourages focus and helps you get into the proper mindset of “going to work.” It also helps you turn off when you’re done, so you don’t feel like you’re always working. For more tips on creating a daily work routine, check out our article on being productive while working from home.Take charge of your time
When you’ve carved out a routine, protect your time from family, friends, and coworkers. Start each day with an action plan of prioritized tasks to complete. Henry O’Loughlin, founder of remote work resources blog Buildremote, recommends blocking off time on your calendar to get things done, free from interruption.
“Telecommuting is an advantage in that people can’t see you at your desk and stop by to chat,” O’Loughlin says. “To capitalize on that, block off time on your calendar to work on specific tasks. That will ensure people don’t book meetings or bother you during that time.”Prioritize focus
Telecommuters have a whole new world of distractions that could potentially take time away from work — from household chores and noisy roommates to phone notifications, social media, and distracting websites.
To stay focused, create a suitable workspace. Whether it’s a home office, a co-working space, or even the back corner of your local Starbucks, have a place that facilitates productivity with minimal interruption.
Noise-canceling headphones are a great investment to help you “get into the zone.” Queue up your favorite playlist, or use a service like brain.fm, which uses a science-based approach to create personalized focus-enhancing playlists. If you find music distracting, try a white noise app or a site like Coffitivity that plays ambient sounds.
Once you’re settled in, make a plan for how you want your workday to go. One method is to break work out into timed blocks as laid out in the Pomodoro Technique, which recommends a 25-minute focus session followed by a short break. Apps and browser plugins such as RescueTime, StayFocusd, and Strict Workflow can help you track your time and block distracting websites. When you finish a focused session, reward yourself with a quick break to indulge in some of those juicy distractions.Check in with your team regularly
When you’re not in the office, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your team. To make sure you’re on the same page, be transparent and communicate, even if it’s just for a friendly chat. Let your manager know if you run into any issues, and keep them in the loop.
One caveat: Be careful that your team chats don’t become a way to avoid doing real work. “When people start working from home (managers and employees), the instinct is to be more available and to check in more frequently. That decreases the amount of focused, distraction-free work you can get done,” says O’Loughlin.Turn off when you’re not at work
One of the main challenges of telecommuting is that the boundary between work hours and non-work hours can begin to blur, leading to overwork and burnout. Make sure to divide the two as much as you can, and when you’re not working, avoid the temptation to check your work email or messaging app.
“Employees need to find an ‘off’ when telecommuting. If they are constantly under the stress of work in their home environment, telecommuting won’t be a good experience,” says Stockton.Tips and guidelines for employers
While managers are often concerned about how telecommuting employees make use of their time, the success of a telecommuting program ultimately depends on employers. Managing remote workers requires a different approach than managing onsite workers, and for some managers, the adjustment can require a shift in attitudes and expectations. Here are some tips for team leaders managing telecommuting employees.Set clear expectations
For a telecommuting program to be effective, managers need to set clear expectations for remote workers. While this can be difficult at first, it’s a blessing in disguise for many organizations that are forced to examine and communicate the metrics and tasks that are most important, leading to improved focus and efficiency across the board.
“Remote work really should facilitate better performance management, because you have to be clear about people’s expectations and their deliverables,” says Dinnocenzo. “If you can’t be clear about that, it’s not going to work. We’ve gotten away with not being clear about it in the office, because I would just see you there and assume you’re working, which was a naive assumption.”Respect employees’ time
O’Loughlin cautions managers to respect employees’ time. “As a manager, respect office hours. I’ve heard a number of people say they start working more when they switch to telecommuting because their boss knows they’re always available. That’s dangerous for employee happiness. As a manager, make sure you don’t email after hours or expect responses out of normal hours.”
Dinnocenzo agrees: “When an organization isn’t clear about where the boundaries are, people who work from home feel like they should answer their phone or be responding to emails and their bosses all the time. Managers need to model healthy work hours for their employees.”Stay in touch, but don’t over-communicate
Obviously, it’s important to stay in touch with your employees while telecommuting. But for managers who are used to being very involved, this can pose a challenge. For a telecommuting program to work, you need to trust your employees to get their jobs done and give them the space to do this.
“Build a culture that encourages people to sign off email and chat tools, and to have fewer meetings,” O’Loughlin recommends. “That increases distraction-free work, which is more productive and more fulfilling.”
Stockton adds,“Companies should encourage employees to have ‘snooze’ times for communication tools.”Why telecommuters need the right workspace and equipment
For regular telecommuters, having a proper workspace, such as a home office or a desk at a coworking facility, is critical. Ensuring your telecommuters have a safe workspace not only helps them perform their best but helps your company avoid risks and liability issues.
“Odd though it may seem, there’s been anecdotal evidence that chiropractors have seen a jump in demand due to more telecommuting, and injuries from poor at-home working environments. Employers should equip their employees with effective ergonomic office supplies to work more effectively,” says Stockton.
Telecommuters also need the right equipment to do their job. Whatever tools they need onsite they also need offsite — and potentially additional ones. These requirements will vary by company and role, but a typical telecommuter will at least need a laptop, a strong and secure internet connection, and all the software they need to do their job. (See the list below for software recommendations.)
If they have a customer-facing role, they may need a suitable camera and background for video calls, a headset, and any other communication tools. Your policy should specify the equipment your company will provide, and what (if any) the telecommuter will provide (such as a desk or other office furnishings).Investing in the right technology for telecommuting
While hardware, equipment, and workspace are critical to set the stage, most telecommuters get their work done using cloud-based software. These software tools are the glue that holds remote teams together, making telecommuting practical and scalable for teams of all sizes.
One of the most important things an employer can do is provide employees with an effective set of tools and train them on how to use them. Here’s the baseline of telecommuting software every distributed team needs in order to collaborate and stay on track:
As we’ve learned in this guide, telecommuting can help businesses operate during emergencies, cut costs, help the environment, and access better talent, all while making employees happier and more productive. But that doesn’t mean telecommuting has no challenges and downsides. Implementing a successful telecommuting program requires an organized and dedicated effort from both employees and employers.
While we don’t know what the future will bring, telecommuting will likely continue to become a bigger part of the way we work. We hope this guide helps your telecommuting journey be the best it can be.Meet the telecommuting experts Debra A. Dinnocenzo
Debra A. Dinnocenzo is the founder and president of VirtualWorks!, a learning and development firm that specializes in virtual work issues, such as telecommuting, leading from a distance, virtual teams, and work-life balance in the digital age. She’s a recognized expert on telework and remote leadership and has written several books on virtual workplace topics.Blake Stockton
Blake Stockton is a business analyst at Fit Small Business, an online publication devoted to helping entrepreneurs across the U.S. Stockton has consulted with over 700 small business owners, and assisted with starting and growing their businesses, both brick-and-mortar and online. Outside of his work at FSB, he also serves as a frequent lecturer at the University of North Florida.Henry O’Loughlin
Henry O’Loughlin is the founder of the blog Buildremote, a resource for building remote companies. He is also the director of operations at Nectafy, a fully remote marketing agency that specializes in growth content.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the prospect of a contentious election in the United States and lackluster financial projections worldwide were clouding business horizons. Business-to-business (B2B) marketers’ strategies for 2020 are “overridden by one factor more than any other: uncertainty,” says Polly Kay, senior marketing manager at English Blinds.
Compounding the grim human costs of the pandemic, the economic disruption has pulled the rug out from under B2B marketing departments that traditionally rely on trade shows for face-to-face introductions to new clients. The spread of COVID-19 across the world forced cancellation of approximately 500 trade shows worldwide, erasing 270,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs worldwide and $26.2 billion per month in global economic activity.
“B2B firms are already seeing the beginnings of disruptions that are going to continue throughout the rest of the year, and quite possibly beyond it, too,” Kay says.
How can you adapt your B2B marketing to cope with this extreme situation? How can you keep your lead funnel full when events, the largest slice of most B2B marketing budgets, are suspended? What are the best ways to nurture leads into deals using digital channels exclusively?
We worked with experts to find the answers, which we offer in this comprehensive guide to B2B marketing for 2020.Chapter synopsis
This guide consists of five chapters:
Each chapter stands on its own, so feel free to skip ahead for answers to specific questions. And remember to bookmark this page. Much of what we cover is evergreen. The lessons we’re learning now may prove remarkably useful in the inevitable crises to come.What is B2B marketing?
What do local radio spots aimed at small business owners, a business networking happy hour, volunteering on the board of the local chamber of commerce, and making presentations at trade shows have in common? Each is an example of B2B marketing, a term that encompasses so much that it’s hard to define succinctly.What is B2B marketing?
Let’s break the term down into its component parts. B2B stands for “business-to-business.” Compare B2B companies to B2C, or “business-to-consumer,” operations. If you sell candy bars to the general public, you operate a B2C business. If you sell boxes of candy bars to corporate employee snack programs, you’re in the B2B space.
Here’s the American Marketing Association’s definition of marketing:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
To put it all together, B2B marketing involves communicating one company’s products or services (including software as a service) to other businesses and organizations. B2B is marketing between companies, as opposed to marketing by one company to the public at large.B2C vs B2B marketing
Consumers are individuals who purchase products or services from a company. Most successful B2C marketing campaigns use simple messaging, emotional arguments, and wide targeting.
The B2B audience is different. They are much more analytical when making purchasing decisions. Far less interested in fads, they value what improves productivity and eliminates waste. Business buyers demand to know exactly how your offering is worth their money. Here’s a snapshot of the B2B vs B2C marketing dichotomy:
For more on the differences between B2B and B2C marketing, check out our blog.
The unique characteristics of B2B marketing are clear when you examine recent industry trends. Below are some key B2B marketing trends already gaining momentum and what some experts believe marketers can expect in the years to come.B2B marketing trends
“What you’re seeing now is a huge acceleration of a gradual trend, which is that you’ve got to learn to deal with your audience digitally,” Cummins says. “You’ve got to get people to pay attention to you, even if you’re not physically standing in their way at a trade show.”
The numbers support Cummins’s point. In 2019, U.S. marketing spend for offline media declined by 5.9 percent, reports Winterberry Group’s Outlook for Data Driven Advertising & Marketing 2020, while budgets for online marketing efforts grew 19.1 percent.
Two of the three traditional marketing categories that helped offset the overall decline in offline spending in 2019 were outdoor media (billboards, posters) and experiential marketing (events). It seems likely that widespread stay-at-home orders will affect those two categories in 2020, hastening the decline of traditional marketing channels.
Here are a few more of the trends marketers are following this year:
If you invest in these suggestions, how will you measure your results? B2B marketers must collect data to verify the effectiveness of their efforts — which brings us to the subject of marketing KPIs.Top B2B marketing KPIs
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are the metrics that describe an organization’s progress toward its most important goals. KPIs range from broad data points, such as total yearly profit and sales by region, to very granular information, like contact volume by channel and new vs repeat site visits per month.
Every part of an enterprise has its own set of KPIs. Marketers use KPIs to track their successes and make necessary improvements — which is why we call them “key.”
Which KPIs are most important for marketers to track? That depends entirely on your goals. Here are 10 KPIs that no experienced marketer will ignore.10 B2B marketing KPIs
Now that you have a few B2B marketing metrics to track, you’ll need tools to make sense of all those numbers. There are plenty of SaaS options, and even many free online tools, that provide KPI tracking and analytics for B2B marketers.B2B marketing analytics tools
Your KPI numbers are just raw data. Turning that data into usable intelligence requires analytics tools. Every digital channel you use, from search engines to each individual social media account, generates its own data. Most of these services offer some degree of native analytics, but logging into every one of them every time makes it hard to write meaningful reports.
Marketers use analytics tools to organize the data from a wide variety of sources. Marketers and executives build custom dashboards — personalized analytics pages that display data visually — to gauge a campaign’s success against particular goals on a single screen.
Here are some of the leading marketing analytics tools on the market:
Analytics platforms segment your data, but not all of them automatically import data from all channels — especially if you go beyond digital marketing. Before choosing an analytics platform, consider which channels your audience engages with. Let’s look at the leading marketing channels B2B marketers use to draw in new leads and turn them into customers.The most effective B2B marketing channels
Marketers are naturally focused on their messaging, but where a message appears is as important as any nuance of wording. Placement is an acute consideration for the full range of media channels, from magazines and billboards to search engines, social media, and email.
It doesn’t matter how great your message is if you don’t place it where your customers will engage with it. Your B2B marketing begins with a thorough understanding of your customers, their needs, and where they seek information on products and services relevant to their business. When you have that mapped out, you can determine whether to focus on social, search, or some other space entirely.
Here are some of the most powerful B2B marketing channels that will build and replenish your sales funnel for a continuous supply of leads, no matter how challenging the business environment.Social media marketing
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Reddit, are all powerful platforms for B2B marketers to connect with audiences. Facebook is famous for its low-cost, broad-reach PPC platform. Paid social ads on LinkedIn cost more but typically bring in better B2B leads. (Learn more about the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn for B2B PPC advertising on our blog.)
Social media is much more than just the place for PPC ads, says Ambreen Sharif, cofounder and digital marketing consultant at Workplay Digital. Organic shared media dovetails well with other channels, both online and offline.
“Use LinkedIn to promote your upcoming webinar or offline event,” Sharif says. “Your followers will share it with their networks, colleagues, and friends. Even if they just ‘like’ your post, it’s more likely to appear in their network’s feed.”Email marketing
Email marketing is still going strong in 2020 — just look at the “promotions” tab in any professional’s inbox. The question is, how can marketers best leverage this outbound strategy when an email open rate of 15 to 25 percent is considered high?
“You face a difficult task, to go from unwelcome spam to welcome business conversation,” says Cummins. “That is a tough, tough transition.”
Instead, he says, permission-based email outreach may soon generate more value as the world embraces the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires marketers to allow recipients to opt out of email campaigns.
“Email is still essentially the hub of how business works,” Cummins says. “It’s critical.” Just be sure to ask for permission to stay on the right side of your audience. One easy way to begin these customer-driven email relationships is to post an email list form on your website so that visitors can subscribe to your newsletters or updates.Video marketing
Most internet users watch video online, but that doesn’t mean B2B customers have stopped reading. “I don’t see video marketing as a standalone approach,” says Cummins. “It crosses all channels. You’ve got to integrate it.” Cummins advises adding video clips to outbound emails, or using them to enhance written content. “It has to have a place to live and breathe,” he says.
Regardless of where you post video content, the medium is ideal for explaining complex subjects. Sharif recommends beginning your video strategy with an “explainer video” that clearly explains a difficult subject within your industry.
“Choose a topic that you’re an expert in and that would be of interest to your audience,” she says. “Create a short, high-quality video explaining the concept in simple terms. It’s valuable, it’s shareable, and it demonstrates your expertise in a creative way.”Event marketing
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition industry had been growing steadily for years. As recently as the third quarter of 2019, it grew by 0.6 percent because, by one estimate, exhibiting at a trade show can reduce the cost of a sale by up to 75 percent.
The coronavirus has disrupted trade shows, at least for the time being. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research estimates that up to 80 percent of U.S. trade shows planned for March 1 through May 15 had been canceled. However, CEIR economist Allen Shaw told Trade Show News Network, “Since this is a transitory event, we expect a full recovery for the exhibition industry in 2021.”
Trade shows will return eventually, because there is no real substitute for handling a product and discussing it with someone who can answer all your questions. Sharif advises using this down time to determine how to drive higher attendance in future years.
“It’s not enough to just show up, hand out some business cards and hope for the best,” she says. “It’s worth the extra investment to have a speaking opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and showcase an all-star on your team who’s not only an expert but an engaging and personable speaker.”
Event marketing isn’t an entirely offline strategy. Enhance your booth or presentation by using mobile devices to access on- or offline mobile data-collection forms that let you collect lead information anywhere on the exhibition floor.Content marketing
“Content marketing” refers to the production and publication of helpful materials that are offered for free to a valuable audience. It’s part of the broader technique of “inbound marketing,” which encourages clients to reach out to the selling company rather than the other way around.
Nearly 90 percent of B2B purchasers perform online research when looking for a new product or service. This makes an inbound marketing strategy extremely valuable to B2B companies. Providing candid answers to your audience’s research questions is powerful. Never doubt that good content will surface at the top of their search results.
Engaging with savvy B2B audiences requires a content strategy focused on the reader. Cummins advises marketers to ask themselves two questions as they work on content: “What is the user looking for? And, are we providing that in a really helpful, engaging, intelligent way, human to human?” Successful inbound marketing content boils down to a single two-word goal, Cummins says: “Be helpful.”
Marketing channels don’t exist in a vacuum. Some of the most successful B2B marketing campaigns of the past few years used multiple channels to reach highly specific audiences. To learn what may work in the future, let’s take a look at the B2B marketing efforts that produced great returns in the past.Examples of great B2B marketing
The suspension of in-person events has been a setback for gregarious B2B marketers, but even when trade shows were going strong, many of the most effective campaigns of recent years were on digital channels.
If you’re looking for alternatives to your usual booth at a trade show, start by looking at a few digital campaigns. These pre-2020 B2B marketing campaigns demonstrate an impressive range of innovation and can help you navigate this unusual business environment.Upwork: Hey World
“Remember that even with B2B marketing, you’re speaking to a person,” says Sharif. “Ultimately, people are making purchasing decisions, and they’re the ones you have to win over.”
Humor, pop culture fluency, and a touch of irreverence all win people over. The freelancer platform Upwork used all three in its 2018 “Hey World” campaign, which featured (gentle) trash-talking copy like, “Hey Mr. President! Need a social media strategist?” and “Hey Comic Sans user! Need some graphic design help?”
The campaign made the argument that Upwork’s freelancers can help with any business challenge confronting the viewer. It played out on billboards, digital video, and radio, and won a Drum B2B Award for best brand campaign in 2018.Square: Town Square
Digital payments company Square doesn’t call its flagship content marketing page a “blog.” They call it the Town Square Business Resource Center to reflect the company’s commitment to providing not just “content” but resources.
This is where Square publishes useful information for a small business audience, which helps boost traffic via search. Square’s writers cover regulatory updates and growth strategies, as well as personal stories of business success. It’s all easily searchable, with filters based on topic, business type, and content type.
Town Square demonstrates Square’s investment in its customers, according to Khobi Brooklyn, who was the director of product communications and marketing at Square during the rollout of the campaign. Brooklyn told First Round Review that “it’s important to show how much you value your customers. We try to take every chance we have to celebrate small business owners, because that’s core to who Square is.”Dropbox: Marketing Dynamix
Dropbox has evolved from a file-sharing platform into a “smart workplace” innovator focused on new audiences in the business world. In 2017, Dropbox launched an interactive campaign just for marketers called “Marketing Dynamix.”
Through multichannel outreach, Dropbox invited marketers to take a personality test to answer the question, what kind of marketer are you? Individual team members were categorized as one of a variety of marketer types so team leaders could plan more effective communications strategies.
A dedicated Marketing Dynamix microsite allowed visitors to take the test, share results, and browse personalized content based on results. By the end of 2018, the campaign had generated more than 2,000 marketing qualified leads and an estimated return on investment of 25 to 1.HP: The Wolf
Christian Slater stars as a nefarious hacker in a tense narrative thriller — but this wasn’t the TV series Mr. Robot. It’s “The Wolf,” an online video ad campaign from HP. The company took its cue from Hollywood rather than PowerPoint, a rarity in the B2B media ecosystem.
The dramatic series originally streamed on YouTube. It kept viewers on the edges of their seats while illustrating the danger of an unsecured business printer. That security risk is, of course, a problem that HP solves with its line of secured smart printers.
By aiming at the pulse of the business audience, rather than its spreadsheets, “The Wolf” racked up more than 12 million YouTube views in its first two months. The campaign also appeared in 118 earned media placements globally. The flagging printer industry saw B2B sales increase by 6 percent.
This series highlights the value of high-quality storytelling in video marketing campaigns in the B2B space, even if you don’t have the kind of budget HP invested in “The Wolf.”PathFactory: GDPR Wars
After the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, business prospects were inundated with requests for email marketing opt-ins, as required by the standard. These requests were typically dense with legalese that prospects found easy to ignore. An alarming number responded by opting out, not in.
Knowing that its email would be just one among many, content platform PathFactory took a different approach. The company’s marketers framed its opt-in request in terms of a pop culture icon: Star Wars.
GDPR Wars was a single opt-in email that, in three paragraphs, positioned GDPR as a rebellion against impersonal marketing and aligned PathFactory with the “good guys” while fully complying with the new rules for opting in to email contact.
The GDPR Wars email outperformed previous PathFactory email campaigns by 241 percent. It garnered lots of shared media and won a Demand Gen Report Killer Content Award. The lesson?
“If GDPR Wars teaches you anything it’s that you should not be afraid to have fun in your marketing,” writes Evan Doyle on the PathFactory blog. “Regardless of how ‘dry’ the topic is, take some extra time and effort to inject your brand’s personality into your work. It will give your audience a reason to keep coming back.”Samsung: Big & Small
Samsung released the Galaxy Note 8 in Europe with a content-rich campaign based on the premise of large and small businesses learning from each other. “Big & Small — How to Do Bigger Things in Business” featured an original study of business trends, an in-person panel debate, and two short films documenting how employees use the Galaxy Note 8 in their daily lives.
The film about big business, called “Aiming Higher,” is a masterclass in the power of video to show the value of a product. “Aiming Higher” follows an international sales director at an unnamed but clearly global B2B company.
The sales director rhapsodizes about his Galaxy Note 8 with a long list of concrete examples of its usefulness. The video positions Samsung’s device as a “mobile office,” ideal for fast-paced B2B operators.
In total, Big & Small led to a 26 percent increase in B2B sales for Samsung over the previous year. The content reached more than 10 million viewers throughout Europe and the films garnered 250,000 views.B2B marketing beyond 2020: Continued digital growth
The global uncertainty of early 2020 will pass. Markets will rally, and marketers will return to trade shows. Global business leaders will again jet around the world to seal deals in person. But the marketing trends that the 2020 pandemic accelerated are unlikely to fade away.
“Companies have to figure out these questions,” Cummins says. “How do we leverage content online? How do we leverage other digital tools to get in front of people?”
No matter when you read this guide, in 2020 or after, digital communications remain crucial for great B2B marketing. Make those online connections with your audience using marketing templates from JotForm, which range from subscription forms to user experience surveys, and everything in between.
Annual reports are a window into your company. They provide customers, investors, potential clients, shareholders, and employees with an overview of your business’ key achievements and annual performance.
They generally include the following information:
Considering how technical and in-depth annual reports can get, they often leave readers overwhelmed.
So, even though you might have an inspiring business story to share, without a design strategy in place, it’s most likely to fall flat.
Not a designer? You can get started with annual report design templates to create reports that keep readers interested.
Here’s an example of a well-designed annual report. It has a consistent color scheme and accurately encompasses the company performance using visuals, making for an engaging read.Source: Venngage
Let’s take a look at the six best practices to create appealing annual reports that people will actually read.6 Best Practices to Create Appealing Reports 1. Design an attractive cover page
Like it or not: most reports are judged by their cover page.
A wordy and dull cover is certainly not going to pique interest in readers and get them excited to read your annual report. So, don’t let your efforts go to waste — design an attractive cover page that captures attention and generates curiosity in your audience.
Start by establishing an overarching theme that reflects your company’s objectives and milestones. This theme will inspire design elements such as the color scheme, typography, and visuals you choose to include in the rest of the report.
Use bright colors and bold fonts that draw attention and are in line with your brand guidelines. Make sure you don’t clutter the cover page with too much text. Include minimal text that introduces what the report is about.
Be sure to add visuals in the form of abstract imagery, photos of real people, or illustrations that are relevant to the report material.
Take a look at this cover page that uses a shoreline theme. It adopts the imagery of the horizon, creating a sense of opportunity and goal-setting.Source: Venngage 2. Create a text hierarchy
Having to read blocks of text is certainly not an enjoyable experience. It’s tiring and is sure to repel readers.
That’s why it’s always important to create a text or typographic hierarchy which means you need to implement three levels of hierarchy across the report:
While the header is designed to be bold and grab attention, subheaders are slightly smaller and are meant to divide the report into sections. The paragraph or body is heavy on text and needs to be optimized for readability.
Establishing a text hierarchy guides the viewer’s gaze, letting them know where to look and what to read. Factors that contribute to the hierarchy include the choice of fonts, sizing, placement, and alignment.
Here’s an example of a text hierarchy in an annual report. Notice how the headers, ‘finance’, and ‘projects’ are bigger and in bold, giving readers a clear understanding of the section. This is followed by the sub-headings and paragraph text in a smaller sizing.Source: Venngage 3. Visualize your data
Data has a huge role to play in business growth and annual reports are generally filled with lots of data but what happens when you don’t present that data effectively? It leaves readers confused and overwhelmed.
This is why it’s important to use data visualization techniques to visualize data, letting readers understand and interpret it with ease.
There are different types of data visualizations such as:
For example, you can use a timeline template to showcase the milestones your company achieved over the year or a bar chart to show the growth in different product categories.
Take a look at this financial projection report that makes use of three different types of charts (pie chart, bar chart, and tables) to present data accurately.Source: Venngage 4. Incorporate icons
From adding personality and generating interest, to improving memorability, incorporating icons in your annual report design is always a good idea.
They make for powerful visual communication tools because of their ability to communicate ideas easily and quickly. You can use icons to:
Regardless of whether you’re using them as standalone visuals or in conjunction with infographics or charts, make sure the icons you incorporate are in line with the overarching theme of the report.
Here’s an annual shareholder business report that uses icons to differentiate between the different categories of shareholder returns.Source: Venngage 5. Use color-coding
No design is complete without the right use of color. What’s more, colors don’t just contribute to the aesthetics of the report, they also play a huge role in highlighting significant points and improving readability.
You can use color-coding to differentiate between multiple sections or categories. They serve as visual cues, making the information less dense and quicker to understand.
Similarly, it’s also a good idea to use color blocks to group similar or related information. This makes it easier for people to scan the page. You can also use color blocks to create page layouts or make the header stand out.
Take a look at this year-end marketing report that uses consistent color-coding to distinguish between the three campaigns.Source: Venngage
One of the most common mistakes people make while incorporating colors is to make the wrong choice of color combinations. This makes the report look chaotic and ends up distracting readers.
Abide by the principles of color theory and opt for contrasting colors to design an enticing annual report.6. Maintain consistency
Your annual report needs to have a cohesive look and feel. Every page needs to be tied in together so that it reads like it’s coming from one brand.
This is why it’s important to maintain consistent branding across the annual report. From the color scheme and typography to the layouts and use of motifs, you must create a visual consistency to deliver a meaningful and comfortable reading experience.
Here’s an example of an annual report design by a burger joint. Notice how they use a consistent color scheme. They’ve opted for a playful look that is reflected across their design elements.Source: Venngage The takeaway: create an appealing annual report design
Annual reports are important documents that give you the opportunity to showcase your company in a positive light and influence perceptions.
You can either slap some text on a PDF or you can go the extra mile and create a visually-appealing annual report — one that grabs attention and gets people to read it.
So, consider these design best practices to tell your business story effectively and make an impact.