Account-based marketing tactics are set to account for a growing share of marketing budgets in 2020. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of marketers who are using account-based marketing (ABM) tactics plan to increase their ABM budgets in the coming year, according to a study by Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) and the ABM Leadership Alliance. On average, the ABM-practicing marketers said they dedicated 29% of their budgets to ABM in 2019.

The report, which surveyed 196 marketers from B2B technology and business services companies, found that 71% of the companies saw greater ROI within their ABM efforts compared to their traditional marketing initiatives.

Majority of companies still experimenting with ABM. Of the marketers surveyed, the largest share (43%), fit into ITSMA’s “experimenting” category, meaning they are beyond “exploring” ABM strategies and are now piloting, measuring and refining their approach. ITSMA’s ABM adoption model is made up of four levels: Exploring, Experimenting, Expanding and Embedded.

A total of 73% of the survey participants were either experimenting or expanding — with 30% categorized as “Expanding” or looking to increase account coverage via ABM. Seventeen percent were categorized as “Embedded,” the most evolved stage of ABM adoption (marketers who have evolved their ABM strategy to drive strategic growth for their business).

Most popular ABM tools: Email, website, CRM and social. More than 70% of the respondents said they rely on their website, email marketing, CRM and social to implement ABM campaigns. Most are using analytics, account insights and marketing automation.

Less than 30% are using tools like chat, data management platforms, content activation tools, CDPs or predictive analytics.

What the ABM all-stars are doing. When looking at the most effective ABM programs, the top marketers were more likely to be using analytics, account insights and engagement insights.

The report also found that the top-performing ABM marketers use two or three different ABM programs (either one-to-one, one-to-few or one-to-many). “More companies will try multiple types of ABM in a blended strategy to keep up with demand from their sales and account teams if they started with One-to-One ABM, or to increase their focus on their most important accounts if they started with One-to-Few ABM or One-to-Many ABM,” said Bev Burgess, the senior VP and ABM practice lead for ITSMA.

Of the survey respondents, 63% were currently practicing only one tactic — with the largest share (25%) focused on one-to-few ABM programs. Twenty-two percent were practicing at least two tactics, with the largest share in this group implementing both one-to-one and one-to-few programs.

What’s to come in ABM. More than half (51%) of the marketers surveyed said they plan to blend their ABM approach in the coming year by using more than one type of ABM — adding either one-to-one, one-to-few or one-to-many tactics to their existing program.

Sixty-four percent of marketers said they plan to increase their ABM staff in the coming year. As far as how much businesses plan to increase both their ABM budgets and staff, on average, marketers reported they plan to increase budgets by 21.3% and staff by 19.3%.

When asked where the budget increases will be spent, 21% said they plan on investing in their ABM platform and adding predictive capabilities to their ABM technology stack in the next 12 to 18 months. Only 13% planned to invest in account insights and 12% in engagement insights — even these technologies were most often used by companies with the most effective ABM programs.

Why we care. Of the marketers whose ABM programs were categorized as “Embedded” (those with the most elite ABM efforts per the ITSMA adoption model), 45% reported their ABM initiatives drove revenue growth. Seventy-five percent of the top performers saw significant improvements within their account relationships and 59% saw an improvement in brand reputation.

Burgess says ITSMA has witnessed a sharp rise in interest in account-based marketing for more than five years now, with no signs of it slowing down. Three-quarters of the top performers reported significant improvements within their account relationships, and 59% saw an improvement in brand reputation.

“ABM will continue to influence the way we do our broader marketing too, such as One-to-Few ABM principles shaping vertical marketing and One-to-Many ABM shaping ‘always on’ offering campaigns,” comments Burgess in the benchmark report.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.


It’s the time of year when invites to work holiday parties arrive in our inboxes. Beginning with Thanksgiving, we enter a season that welcomes us to reflect, take stock, and express gratitude for the past 12 months. As we juggle tasks to wrap up the year and prepare for the next, gratitude can feel superfluous and even forced. Yet if we can define gratitude in our lives and cultivate a practice of thankfulness year-round, it will not only bolster our happiness and creativity, but sustain us through busy seasons full of demands and expectations.


Defining Gratitude 

There are two components of gratitude, according to psychologist and UC Davis professor Robert Emmons. First, it’s an affirmation that there are good things in the world. This doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge reality, but that we accept the dualities of life, knowing there can be challenges, burdens, and hardships and “gifts and benefits” we’ve also received. It’s about looking at our lives holistically and seeing goodness where it exists. 

Emmons explains that the second part of gratitude is “figuring out where that goodness comes from.” He goes on to note that, “We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride…We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

Gratitude at Work 

When was the last time you acknowledged the good in your work life? It could come in the form of genuine appreciation for a boss who recognizes your talents, a colleague who covered for you during vacation, or perhaps it comes in the form of a new client project or another opportunity to grow professionally. Simply having made progress toward team goals during a given day can also be a source of gratitude. When you felt appreciation, did you express it, either privately to yourself or publicly to others? If you answered yes, you’re in the minority. 

Research shows that most of us are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else, according to a survey of 2,000 participants conducted by the John Templeton Foundation. While 94% of women and 96% of men agree that a grateful boss is more likely to be successful, 74% never or rarely express gratitude to their boss. Yet people are eager for their boss to appreciate them—70% said they would feel better about themselves if their boss expressed gratitude for them, and 81% said they would work harder. 

Someone has to go first. If we want to be more appreciated, we could start with expressing our appreciation. Even if we don’t feel grateful, we can lean into it. In this New York Times article, by social scientist Arthur C. Brooks, he notes that acting grateful can lead to actually feeling grateful. Further, he encourages us to start with interior gratitude, or “the practice of giving thanks privately.” Next, he suggests public expression of gratitude, which could include emails or thank you cards to colleagues. Finally, he urges us to be grateful for seemingly insignificant things, like a warm, sunny day or a smile from a stranger on the street.  

Although we express gratitude the least at work, gratitude in the workplace can be transformative. As the HeartMath Institute notes, “The greater your capacity for sincere appreciation, the deeper the connection to your heart, where intuition and unlimited inspiration and possibilities reside.” This can lead to increased creativity. As Steven Kramer and Teresa Amabile note in their book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, feeling accomplished and appreciated can lead to greater internal motivation and “when people are more intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to be creative.” 

Further supporting the theory that gratitude improves our work lives, Kim Cameron and his colleagues at the University of Michigan found that workplaces characterized by positive practices, including expressing gratitude increased positive emotions in employees, which amplified their creativity and ability to think creatively. Whether you are a company of one or one of many, gratitude can boost your creativity and increase your happiness at work. 

Tips for Putting Gratitude into Practice Year-Round 

Practicing gratitude year round, not just during the holidays, can have a positive, lasting impact on your creativity and career. Building a sustainable practice can start with small steps integrated into your existing life:

  1. Shift your focus. In his book, Consolations, the poet and author David Whyte reminds us that, “Being unappreciative might mean we are simply not paying attention.” Gratitude can start with simply setting an intention and looking for things to be grateful for in your day-to-day rather than focusing on negative aspects of our work. For example, if you had a challenging problem come up at work, perhaps you can be grateful that you have the skills to address it or the power to change it. 
  2. Build gratitude into your routine. It doesn’t take much time to develop a robust practice. You could set aside 15 minutes once a week to make a list of what you are grateful for. Or you could make it part of your nightly routine to say thank you for one part of your day. As a coach, I encourage my clients to use these prompts if they’re stuck: What opportunities have arisen for you this week? What accomplishments or small wins have you had? Pro tip: Put time for this kind of reflection on your calendar to automate check-ins.
  3. Rule out negativity. The people around us and the environments we spend time in influence us. That includes ourselves! Start by reframing negative self-talk. For example, “I’m no good at this. I can’t get the hang out it,” could be reframed as, “This is hard, but I’m learning and I’ll get the hang of it with time and practice.” If there are relationships or spaces ruled by negativity, consider how to address them. You could demonstrate gratitude and see if the tone of conversations changes, you could confront the negativity directly, or you could remove yourself from the situation. If you can’t remove yourself because it’s at work, for example, you could set boundaries like refusing to participate in negative gossip.  
  4. Show your appreciation. Just as negativity can be contagious, so can gratitude and appreciation. In this episode of the podcast Hurry Slowly, psychologist and author Adam Grant suggests setting aside time each week to show appreciation through a note, card, or email: “Would you have guessed that just the words ‘thank you’ would be enough to not only lead to a 50% increase that they’re willing to help you again, but also then make them more likely to help somebody else who reaches out?”
  5. Keep it real. Yes, there’s usually something we can find to be grateful for, but don’t force it. Do your best to express your gratitude while still accepting the complexities that exist. Your gratitude doesn’t negate the challenges, difficulties, or realities of your situation, but it can give you a foundation for resilience as you move forward. 

Developing a gratitude practice takes time and patience, but the power of thankfulness can shift your attitude toward your work and make the process more creative, innovative, and fulfilling—not just during the holidays, but all year long. In the words of the late poet, Mary Oliver, “Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.” Look for it, feel gratitude for it, and express it. 


About The Author

Suzanne Scacca is a former WordPress implementer, trainer and agency manager who now works as a freelance copywriter. She specializes in crafting marketing, web …
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You may have heard that FOMO is harmful for consumers. There’s even research that supports it. That said, what if we removed “fear” from the “fear of missing out” and put the good parts of this marketing strategy to use in web and app design? It’s possible to do and this article will unpack four ways you can more delicately and ethically use (F)OMO when designing digital experiences.

Consumers are motivated by need and desire. And sometimes, just sometimes, they’re motivated by FOMO. That’s right: we can now add the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ to the list of drivers that get consumers onto our websites and into our apps.

With that said, when we take a closer look at what FOMO really means and the negative impact it can have on consumers, is it something we really want to be encouraging as we build digital experiences for them? My answer to that is:

Yes, but you must use FOMO responsibly.

FOMO can be a really effective tool to add to a marketing and sales strategy. As a web designer, though, you need to find ethical ways to appeal to your users’ fear of missing out. Today, I’m going to show you some options for doing this.

A More Ethical Way To Design with FOMO

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out”, and while it might seem like some innocuous acronym like YOLO or LMAO, this isn’t a cute way of saying “Wish I were there!”.

The fear part of FOMO is all too real.

A 2013 study titled “Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out” defined FOMO as:

A pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, FoMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.

One of the conclusions from the report was that “FoMO was associated with lower need satisfaction, mood, and life satisfaction.”

It’s not just scientists taking note of the negative effects of FOMO in marketing, social media or otherwise. The Competition and Markets Authority went after hotel booking sites for using misleadingly urgent and deceptive discount marketing messages to increase sales.

Even without the fear of retribution from some standards authority, you really need to think about how your web and mobile apps leave your users feeling. A little bit of envy might be fine, but once the general sentiment trickles over to jealousy, disappointment or stress, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing and why.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can leverage the underlying concept of “missing out” and strip away the fear elements.

Quick note: All of the examples below are from mobile apps, however, you can use these design principles on websites and PWAs as well.

Gently Remind Visitors About Limited Availability

There’s nothing wrong with presenting limits to your users on what’s available or for how long it will remain available. It only becomes a problem when how you convey this sense of urgency or limitation causes stressful decision-making.

This is something I talked about in a recent post, “How to Stop Analysis Paralysis with Web Design”.

Basically, when you induce stress in your visitors or consumers, it makes the decision-making process more difficult and can lead to regretful purchases or no purchases at all. In that last article, the focus was on the drawbacks of presenting customers with too many choices.

However, the same kind of response (i.e. dissatisfaction and overwhelm) can happen when you put pressure on them to make a choice on the spot.

So, instead of displaying a large timer counting down the minutes left to buy items in their shopping cart or a bright red banner that screams “24-Hour Sale!”, use more gentle reminders around the site or app.

Best Buy has an entire section on its product pages dedicated to in-store and online availability:

Best Buy out of stock
Best Buy lets customers know when products are out of stock in store and online. (Source: Best Buy) (Large preview)

Now, if this were a product with only one color or memory option, I’d suggest removing it from the online inventory altogether. If you can’t provide a date when the product will become available again or put customers on a waitlist, don’t bother teasing them with an out-of-stock listing.

That said, this item has multiple variations, which makes the “sold out” notice quite potent.

Paul Messinger, a professor of business and researcher at the University of Alberta, commented on this phenomenon:

Sold-out products create a sense of immediacy for customers; they feel that if one product is gone, the next item could also sell out. Our research shows there’s also an information cascade, where people infer that if a product is sold out, it must have been good and therefore a similar available product will also be desirable.

What’s also nice about displaying sold-out products is that it reduces the number of choices consumers have to make. Granted, some may be unhappy because the silver phone they wanted is unavailable, but, as Messinger says, this limitation on what they can buy might encourage them to try another variation of the product.

One of my absolute favorite examples of gently nudging consumers to use or buy your products is Hulu:

Hulu app expiring content
The Hulu app has an entire tab dedicated to “Expiring” content. (Source: Hulu) (Large preview)

There is an entire tab in the app that lets users know which content is about to expire.

For those of you who stream content like a maniac (like myself), you know how easy it is to lose track of shows and movies you’ve added to your list. You also know how hard it can be to find the perfect thing to watch when you have dozens of options sitting in your queue, especially if you use more than one streaming service.

That’s why this “Expiring” tab is brilliant. The second I see it, I think, “Either use it or lose it, Suzanne” — which is incredibly motivating. Also, the fact that I have a much shorter list to work with helps me get to a decision more quickly.

This would be useful for e-commerce websites, for sure. If you have products that are low in inventory, give them a dedicated space for shoppers to peruse — kind of like a bargain bin without the bargain.

If your website runs a number of offers simultaneously, you could use a similar approach as well. Create a page for “Offers” or “Rewards” and break out a separate tab that shows users all the offers that are about to expire.

Call Attention to Rewards

When selling something online — be it a subscription to a repository of plugins or a store full of products — don’t forget to enable account registration. Sure, it’s a nice touch for users that want the convenience of saving account details so they don’t have to input them with each new purchase. There’s another reason to encourage your users to register though:

So you have a way to call attention to their spendable rewards.

FOMO isn’t always the fear of missing out on what others are doing. Sometimes it’s just a fear of missing the chance to get a really good deal. Promoting attractive sales offers (“75% off everything in store!”) is one way to do that, but, again, you have to recognize that that’s only going to stir up issues caused by the paradox of choice.

A softer but still effective way to compel users to buy sooner rather than later is to show off their rewards totals or expiration dates.

As a Gap customer, this is one of my favorite things about shopping with them. Whether I’m in store, on the app, shopping through the website or looking through my email, I receive these kinds of reminders:

Gap rewards reminder
Gap reminds logged in users when they have rewards to spend. (Source: Gap) (Large preview)

The “Redeem your Super Cash” reminder is the first thing I see when I log in. Even if I’ve gone to the app with the intention of just window browsing, that rewards reminder (and the impending expiration) almost always motivates me to buy something so I don’t lose my member perks.

Unlike sales banners that promote generic offers, this approach works really well because you’re appealing to loyal customers — the ones who’ve already signed up for an account and have a history of buying from you.

And if you’re worried about a banner of that size taking up too much space in your app or mobile website, think again:

Gap pulsing blue rewards reminder
Gap uses a pulsing blue ticker in the top-left corner to remind users about unspent rewards. (Source: Gap) (Large preview)

Gap doesn’t continually show the rewards reminder.

See the icon in the top left corner with the circle over it? That circle is pulsing. It’s there to let customers know that there’s something to look at before they check out. And that something are the rewards they need to spend before they lose them.

Hotels.com, on the other hand, dedicates an entire page to rewards:

Hotels.com Rewards tab
Hotels.com users can access their free night rewards on the “Rewards” tab. (Source: Hotels.com) (Large preview)

It’s similar to that urge people feel to log into social media just to check on what’s going on and to make sure they’re not missing anything. This “Rewards” tab should send a similar vibe: “Hmmm… I wonder how close I am to my free night?”

Although you can’t see it here, Hotels.com has a policy about how long customers can hold onto these earned nights before they lose them. (It’s just below this section.) By gently reminding users about this stipulation, it likely encourages its rewards members to book more trips so they can get their free night.

Encourage Sharing with Friends and Family

One of the problems with building FOMO into a website — much like any marketing you do for business — is that it’s coming from you. Until you’ve earned the trust of visitors and users, how are they supposed to believe a product marked as a “Top Seller” really is what you claim it to be? Social proof is supposed to help mitigate these kinds of concerns, but even that can be faked.

You know what I think is a more effective way to generate FOMO? Let your customers and clients do it for you.

Here’s how Airbnb does it:

Airbnb 'Invite friends' feature
Airbnb rewards its users for inviting friends. (Source: Airbnb) (Large preview)

The “Invite friends” feature encourages users to let their friends, family and colleagues know about how awesome the Airbnb experience is.

Hey, I just booked this awesome apartment in Montreal for Christmas. You’ve got to check this out! Oh yeah, you also get $40 off your first booking!

Even the headline on the landing page encourages them to share the experience; not just do it to get free travel credit (though that’s a nice incentive, too):

Airbnb referral program
Airbnb encourages its users to share their love of travel by rewarding them and their referrals with travel credits. (Source: Airbnb) (Large preview)

Imagine that friend who’s busy running a business and in dire need of a vacation. They receive this offer from you — a person they know and trust. Of course, their reaction is going to be, “I need to do that, too!” And with a discount code in hand, that’s a pretty strong source of motivation to get in the app and make a purchase.

You’ll find another great example of generating FOMO through your users from the 23andMe website:

23andMe 'Share your Ancestry'
The home page for 23andMe invites users to ‘Share your Ancestry’. (Source: 23andMe) (Large preview)

For those of you who haven’t signed up for one of these genetic testing services, it’s actually pretty cool. You submit a saliva sample and they tell you what your ancestral background is (as well as how it can affect your health). But it’s more than just, “Your maternal family originates from Turkey.” It gets super-specific on what parts of the world your ancestors are from.

Notice that banner in the screenshot above that says “Share your Ancestry”? That’s where users find auto-generated social posts that are designed to be share-worthy (they look like Facebook and Instagram Story cards):

23andMe social sharing
23andMe auto-generates social posts users can share with their friends and followers. (Source: 23andMe) (Large preview)

This is my ancestral breakdown according to 23andMe. So, let’s say I want to joke about how boringly anti-nomadic my ancestors were on Twitter. I could edit the banner or share it as is. And guess what? That’s free advertising for 23andMe, even if I chose to ditch the logo they placed at the bottom of the file.

As those posts reach social media connections — those that know the user or those that are only acquainted with them online — FOMO starts to rear its head. “Oooh! I really want one of these! Where’d you find this out?”

With this kind of FOMO marketing on your site or app, you can stop relying so much on heavily-discounted sales events and other urgency-inducing tactics (which will cost you more in the long run). Instead, let your users generate that intensified interest.

Use More Grounded Photos and Designs

You’ve no doubt heard about lifestyle influencers using shady promotional tactics to increase sales.

One of the most well-known examples of this is the Fyre Festival, which created a bunch of buzz on social media thanks to promotional videos of celebrities and supermodels partying it up in the Caribbean. The people behind this failed festival didn’t care about the experience. They focused solely on the image of it and consumers ate it up with a spoon — until they realized that image was a lie once they got there.

Then, you have micro-influencers who try to make money from affiliate sales. However, all is usually not what it seems as Jordan Bunker explained to The Guardian:

All isn’t how it is perceived on Instagram. People assume I have a great life and everything is handed to me. I live with my parents and I work from a desk in my room; it’s not like I have a separate working space or office.

That’s not the only deception. Influencers often make their luxurious lives seem like something that’s easy to achieve. The reality, however, is that many of them have to work really hard to stage their life, every second of every day, hoping to get the perfect shot that will make consumers want to follow them or buy the stuff they promote.

But as Lucie Greene, an analyst who specializes in consumer behavior, pointed out:

We’re seeing a rising awareness of how social media use and influencer culture affects mental health, from Fomo (Fear of Missing Out) to driving compulsive, addictive consumption, to feelings of isolation.

Granted, the messages alone that influencers send to followers are often problematic. But so, too, are the images. So, as you design your website and integrate photos from your clients or from stock photo sites, think about what message you’re really sending.

Sephora, for instance, promotes its products with photos of the actual products. You might see a model or two on the top of the home page. For the most part, though, the focus is on the products.

That said, cosmetics and other beauty products can be used to convey a certain image and lifestyle — one that consumers desperately want. So, is Sephora missing out on an opportunity to create a “Sephora Lifestyle” by not photographing models using its products?

Sephora Inspire community
Sephora lets its users’ photos inspire the right kind of FOMO. (Source: Sephora) (Large preview)

Unlike many other retailers who might share photos of models living their lives in some far-off, exotic locale while wearing their products, Sephora doesn’t do that. The only time you really see photos of its cosmetics and products in action is here, in its “Inspire” community.

So, rather than leave its customers pining for some life that they may unconsciously associate with the red lipstick they were thinking of picking up, real customers get the chance to paint a more realistic portrait of its products.

Sephora Inspire gallery
A gallery of product photos from the Sephora Inspire page. (Source: Sephora) (Large preview)

As consumers grow weary of artificially enhanced photos and scenarios, you’re going to find it harder to make them feel like they’re missing out. However, by allowing your customers to provide a real look at what your products can do (and this goes for any kind of product, physical or digital), that’s where you’ll start to see consumers responding to feelings of missing out.

Before I wrap up here, I want to point out that this isn’t just for companies that sell affordable products.

The Inner Circle, for example, is an exclusive dating app. In order to join, users must first be prescreened and approved.

Now, you might think that a luxury brand like that would want to use influencer-like photos to show users how much they’re missing out by not dating in their “class”. But they don’t.

The Inner Circle dating app with bar photo
The Inner Circle luxury dating app doesn’t focus on the luxurious side of dating. (Source: The Inner Circle) (Large preview)

In this first example from the app’s signup page, you can see that the focus is on finding a popular spot to hang out and meet people. While the black-and-white filter does give it a swankier vibe, there’s nothing about the people in the photo that necessarily screams “Exclusive!”

The same thing goes for this photo:

The Inner Circle dating app with date in the park photo
The Inner Circle paints dating in a positive and natural light. (Source: The Inner Circle) (Large preview)

This is the kind of date most people would go on: a date in the park. The people in the photo aren’t all glammed up or wearing clothes made by high-end luxury designers.

These photos feel accessible. They let users know that, at the end of the day, they’re using this app to make real-life connections. There’s nothing exclusive about that.

And if a luxury brand like The Inner Circle can send that kind of message to its users with photos, then any brand should be able to do the same and be successful with it. Just be honest in what you’re portraying, whether it’s a photo of someone cooking with your products or a look inside the real (not illustrated) dashboard of your SaaS.

If you want to give prospects the feeling that they’re about to miss out on something worthwhile, just be real with them.

Wrapping Up

Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but deceptive FOMO tactics will eventually catch up with you when customers start to realize they were misled by inflated numbers, exaggerated scenarios or seemingly time-sensitive or exclusive offers.

Remember: the websites and apps you build for clients shouldn’t just attract and convert customers. They also need to help your clients retain that business and loyalty over the long term. By being more responsible with the messages you’re sending, you can help them accomplish that.

Smashing Editorial(ra, yk, il)


“It’s the end of the day and I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing.”

“My to-do list is constantly growing and I feel overwhelmed.” 

“I want to feel more productive and accomplished at work.”

“I’m spread so thin that I’m not successful at anything.”

Sound familiar? You’re not the only one. Over the past two years since beginning my coaching practice, I’ve worked with nearly 100 creatives. Many of my clients come to me feeling overwhelmed, distracted, and unable to find time in the day to do their most important work. One of the first places we start is to take a comprehensive look at how they are spending their days. More specifically, we examine the drains and incompletions that often leave them with little to no energy to complete the work that is their actual priority.

We have a finite amount of attention to devote to daily tasks. Research shows that, on average, in an 8-hour day, employees are only productive for 3 hours. According to the study referenced, the other five hours are littered with unproductive activities, like reading news websites, checking social media, discussing non-work-related things with co-workers, searching for new jobs, texting, smoke breaks, making coffee, and so on. 


Defining Drains and Incompletions 

What about the tasks, which may be categorized as productive, that drain the time and energy we want to spend on priority work? These drains actually include things we may have to do: commuting, personal admin, email correspondence, meetings, calls. It might not be an option to remove these items from our to-do list, but perhaps we can rethink how we do them. 

If drains take away our time and energy from important tasks, then incompletions take a toll on our mental bandwidth. How many to-do items are rolling around in your head at any given minute? I forgot to call so-and-so. I need to reply to that email from my boss. I promised my co-worker I’d get that report to them last week. And the list goes on. 

Incompletions are any items on our to-do lists that we have yet to complete. They can be related to work, but they can also be personal. Regardless, they take up room in our minds. Incompletions can be negligible, like responding to a simple email, or they can be acute, like dreams we have put off, conversations to be had, projects we need to wrap up, or promises we’ve yet to deliver on. 

List of drains and incompletions

List of drains and incompletions.

Identify What is Stealing Your Time, Energy, and Attention

Addressing both drains and incompletions can help you free up bandwidth and be more present and productive in your day-to-day. In his book, Deep Work, author Cal Newport reminds us that, “Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.” If you are spending your time, energy, and attention on tasks that don’t support your overall mission or key priorities for your work, it’s time to re-evaluate where your energy is going. Here’s how you can start: 

Step 1: Identify your drains and incompletions 

Set aside 15-20 minutes on your calendar and minimize distractions for this check-in with yourself. Spend five minutes listing down all of your drains and incompletions. There’s no need to categorize them. Write every last item you can think of, from the light bulb that needs to be replaced in your bathroom to that conversation you need to have with your colleague, until you there is nothing left swirling around in your mind. 

Step 2: Understand what you can and cannot control

Before you begin to decide how to address the items on your list, there’s a critical step. You must determine what you can control and what you cannot. How much time do you spend worrying, problem-solving, and fixating on what you cannot control? This can leave us feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and disempowered. 

Drains and incompletions within your control and those outside your control.

Drains and incompletions can be divided by those within your control and those outside it.

Even when it feels like you have no control, you can still choose how you engage, respond, or proceed. It’s more fruitful to spend your time, energy, and attention on what you can do something about. 

Take a look at the drains and incompletions you listed. Now, cross off all of the items you have no control over. It’s time to stop giving away your precious resources to these things. Commit to redirecting your energy to addressing the things you can actually do something about. 

Step 3: Make a plan of action that works for you

Take a look at the drains and incompletions items left on your list. Confirm they are all items you can directly address, meaning you have some level of control over them. Now, spend ten minutes going through your list and deciding how you will tackle each item. 

A few ways you could address incompletions include:

  • delegating or outsourcing 
  • stop procrastinating and do it
  • identifying if you’re missing a resource to complete the item and, if so, how you’ll find the resource(s)
  • let it go altogether 
  • putting an end to perfectionism that causes you to wait until the “perfect” time or until you can do the task “perfectly” 
  • automating the task on your calendar if it’s something that needs to be done on a regular basis so you don’t forget 

To address drains, you could consider: 

  • setting clear boundaries around what you are available for and when (i.e. scheduling time on your calendar to work without distraction)
  • shifting the way you use your time (i.e. finding a way to make your commute more enjoyable or using it as an opportunity to decompress)
  • limiting time spent on drains that can consume your day (i.e. only checking email at certain times throughout the day)

Motivation for Change 

The biggest hurdle in beginning to address drains and incompletions is that it’s a process that will require your time, energy, and attention. It may feel like an overwhelming request at first, especially if you already feel depleted of energy. However, the short-term investment will create long-term rewards as you take action and see results. Addressing drains and incompletions may seem like a small, simple idea, but it can dramatically improve your workflow and increase your energy and feelings of productivity. 

When you think of your ideal day, it likely doesn’t include back-to-back meetings, endless calls, being stuck in email land, or completing urgent, but unimportant tasks that don’t support your main work. What if you could feel more productive, less distracted, and have an increased ability to give your most important — and finite — resources to the work that truly matters? Not only is a more productive, focused, fulfilling day within your reach, but you’re the only one who can make it happen for yourself. No one else will value your time, energy, and attention as much as you do. It’s time to rethink the way you spend your days, one drain and one incompletion at a time. 

Tina Essmaker

Posts by Tina

Tina Essmaker is a New York City-based coach, writer, and speaker.


You know that everybody within your organization is responsible for representing your company’s brand at various opportunities — whether it’s meetings, lunches, conferences, or presentations. Yep, it’s important that everybody is part of showcasing your brand identity.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not cringeworthy every now and then.

You see PowerPoint presentations that use random colors and fonts. You see your logo stretched and pixelated on a variety of one-sheets. You see messaging that isn’t at all aligned with the voice and tone you worked so hard to cultivate.

This total disrespect for your branding guidelines keeps you up at night. Yet you’re stumped as to how you can encourage everyone within your company to stick with the rules and really do your brand identity justice.

You aren’t alone. Pretty much every marketer across the globe can relate to this struggle. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can put into play to increase adoption of your corporate branding guidelines so you can rest assured that your company is presented in the best way possible — regardless of the who, what, and where.

What should be included in your branding guidelines?

Maybe that above scenario made you think, “Oh, shoot. We should probably start by actually creating some brand identity guidelines for people to reference.”

If you don’t already have those down on paper, that’s where you need to begin. What are brand guidelines? Think of this as your chance to document all of those rules and best practices for representing your business the way you intended.

While we won’t dive into the nitty-gritty details here, there are a few things that your branding guidelines should absolutely include:

Messaging guidelines

  • Brand history (what led to the creation of this brand?)
  • Brand personality (for example, is your brand more like a thought leader or a close friend?)
  • Brand message or mission statement (why does your brand exist?)
  • Brand key values (what things are important to your brand?)

Visual guidelines 

  • Logo usage (including sizes, placements, etc.)
  • Color palette (what colors are acceptable?)
  • Typestyle (what fonts are acceptable?)

You can even go into more detail with things like letterhead design, accepted photography and images, and more. But the above basics are the things you absolutely need to cover to start with. 

7 tips to encourage people to use your branding guidelines

You have your branding guidelines mapped out. But that’s only half the battle. Now you need to encourage people in your organization to actually abide by them.

How do you make that happen? Here are seven different tips to put into play — starting now. 

1. Provide the necessary context.

You’ll notice that the brief branding guidelines template above mentions things like brand history and a mission statement. Those elements may seem like a formality, but they’re actually an important piece of the puzzle.

That’s because those pieces give everyone across your organization the context they need to better understand those guidelines, which already puts you a step ahead of everybody else.

According to research from Gallup, only 41% of surveyed employees agreed with the statement, “I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand(s) different from our competitors.” 

So rather than just handing out a list of arbitrary rules, empower people to understand the “why” behind those guidelines. Why does the color palette really matter? Does the placement of your logo really carry that much importance?

Spell this out. After all, to someone not in marketing, directions like those are going to seem like really inconsequential details. But tying them to a greater objective or purpose serves as extra motivation to actually stick with them. 

2. Use layman’s terms.

You can’t expect anybody to use your branding guidelines if they can’t actually understand them. That means that if you anticipate everyone across the organization following these directions, they can’t be heavy with jargon and marketing lingo that requires an advanced degree to understand.

For example, that person in the finance department might not know what to do with that color code (it looks like a jumble of letters and numbers to them). That other employee in human resources might not immediately know what a logo is and what isn’t — which explains why they keep using that promotional graphic instead. 

This is why it’s important to have people from a few outside departments proofread your branding guidelines and highlight any areas that are unclear or confusing. This way you can make sure you’ve pulled together guidelines that are easily understood — and not just within your own department. 

3. Keep your guidelines accessible.

People not only need to be able to understand these guidelines — they need to be able to find them. You need to keep this list of rules and expectations somewhere that’s centralized and easily accessible so people don’t have to go digging for them when they need them.

Research from McKinsey states that the average employee spends 19% of their work week searching for and gathering information. That’s a lot of time (and probably more than people will spend voluntarily tracking down your branding guidelines — they’ll more than likely just give up altogether).

So keep them somewhere easy and immediately obvious for everyone. Also, don’t neglect your other assets, such as logos, image files, and templates, that people might need to access when referencing those guidelines.

Our suggestion? Set up a Space in Wrike where you can easily drop and organize your guidelines and all of those other supporting files.

4. Create various templates.

We just mentioned templates in the above tip, and they’re a great way to ensure your brand guidelines are being followed on a repeated basis. Yes, it will involve a little upfront work from you, but it will make things so much easier in the long run.

Create simple templates for resources that are commonly created across your organization — things like PDF sheets, slide decks, social media posts, and more. By doing this, you’re giving people more than just branding inspiration. You’re actually offering them the skeleton of what they need to create. 

Of course, those templates can be customized by different employees for their specific needs. However, the important elements like colors, fonts, spacing, and more will be pre-set — meaning people don’t even need to worry about them the way they would if they were starting completely from scratch.

Just remember that you’ll need to update these templates if and when any of your guidelines change (more on that in a moment!). 

5. Provide a friendly nudge.

Here’s a question: When’s the last time you looked at your employee handbook?

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? You probably haven’t so much as glanced at it since your first week on the job. 

Well, most people probably think of your branding guidelines in the same way. They take a quick skim through them once out of a sense of obligation, and then promptly forget about them in favor of more pressing things.

It’s your job to keep those guidelines top of mind for everyone. So, whenever you see something being used incorrectly or know that the end of the quarter is coming up and the sales team will be pulling together a lot of sales sheets and other assets, drop in with a friendly reminder.

This can be as simple as a polite message in your company Slack channel or a brief email with a link to your guidelines. Here’s what this could look like: 

Hey, team!

I know many of you are hustling to create slide decks, sales sheets, reports, and other assets for your own department. So I wanted to stop by with a friendly reminder to reference and abide by our branding guidelines, which you can quickly access [right here](link to guidelines). 

Following these rules (it’s easy. I promise!) ensures that we’re presenting our brand in the best possible way. 

If you have any questions about the guidelines, please reach out to me or someone else on the marketing team. We’re more than happy to help!


[Your name]

Easy enough, right? Basically, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can share the guidelines once and watch as everything falls into place. It’s going to require some pretty consistent reminders on your part. 

6. Announce when updates are made.

Your branding guidelines aren’t set in stone, which means you’re bound to make some changes every now and then.

Whether it’s something small like a tweak to your logo placement or something major like an entire rebrand, don’t assume that people are keeping a watchful eye on your guidelines and will see those updates on their own.

You need to proactively announce when changes are made by sharing what changed and why. Again, this can be done in a quick email or instant message that looks something like this:

Hey, team!

I wanted to let you know that we’ve made a couple of updates to the [branding guidelines](link to branding guidelines) to reflect our new company color palette. 

For reference, the changes are on page 8 and are highlighted in yellow so you can easily spot them. All templates and supporting resources have been updated as well.


[Your name]

See that line about how the templates have also been changed to reflect those updates? That’s important! Make sure you include those as part of the process so that everything stored with your branding guidelines is current. 

7. Set up a review and approval process.

One surefire way to make sure that everything that leaves your company adheres to your branding guidelines? Require that you put your stamp of approval on it before it heads out the door. 

Create an approval workflow (you can easily set this up in Wrike!) that requires that your department signs off any assets like slide decks, flyers, letterhead, and more before they’re marked as finalized and ready to go. 

Sound like a lot of extra work on your plate? Rest assured that this doesn’t need to be anything overly complex. Even just a simple glance can help you catch any glaring issues that might undermine your brand identity. 

Make this even easier by using Wrike Proof, which centralizes your comments, allows you to leave visual feedback (even on images!), and helps shorten and streamline the entire process. 

Your branding guidelines aren’t suggestions — they’re rules

Designing a brand is hard work, and when people within your company don’t represent it the right way, it’s more than enough to haunt your dreams.

The good news is there are several strategies you can rely on to encourage people to follow the rules and present your brand identity the way it was originally intended. To recap, these tactics include: 

  • Providing the necessary context
  • Skipping the jargon and using layman’s terms
  • Keeping your branding guidelines readily accessible
  • Creating templates that people can use
  • Providing friendly nudges and reminders that your guidelines exist
  • Announcing when updates or changes are made
  • Setting up a review and approval process

Do those things, and you can rest easy knowing that your brand is being presented in a cohesive and positive way. Goodbye, pixelated logos and wonky fonts, and hello brand consistency. 

Need a centralized and accessible place to keep your branding guidelines and supporting assets? Start your free trial of Wrike today.


To ensure your WordPress website looks attractive and engaging, you have to put a lot of thought into the kind of content to add to your pages. Videos, images, audio files and other types of media can help you better present the products or services you’re offering to your client base.

Luckily, WordPress comes with its own media uploader, so you don’t have to bother with using different file managers. However, there’s a limit when it comes to the maximum file size you’re allowed to upload. This can be an issue when trying to add large video files or sizeable images to your site, but it can also create problems when installing a theme or plugin.

But don’t fret! There are actually several ways in which you can change this. We’ll show you just how to increase the maximum file upload size in WordPress, so let’s dive right in, shall we?


engagement on site

We hear a lot about increasing engagement on social media, but it’s rarer to hear about increasing engagement on your site. Yet, the engagement of your website visitors is incredibly important to the success of your company.

Engaged visitors are more likely to buy your product, recommend you to a friend, and stick around longer.

Let’s take a look at 7 ways to increase engagement on your site, and then we will show you how to measure all the progress you’re about to make.

How to increase engagement on your site

increasing engagement on your site

Let’s start by looking at some great ways to increase engagement on any website and then we’ll look at the tools GoSquared offers to measure engagement in real-time.

1. Make the content flow

content marketing for increased site engagement

Starting with something that sounds simple but in reality is difficult to get right.

Your website needs to flow. This is about your content and your navigation. Making it easy for visitors to your site to find what they’re looking for is the easiest way to keep them engaged.

Here are some things to think about:

  • Navigation should be, well, easy to navigate and offer a continuous flow that aids the visitor in getting from one place to the next.
  • Use tagging and smart recommendations to help a visitor get the most out of their own visit based on their own interests. This kind of data-backed tailored marketing is much more effective than a mass approach.
  • Break up long pages of texts with images, pull out quotes and other design elements.
  • Avoid splitting articles up onto multiple pages. For a while people thought that this would help the powers-that-be-at-Google up you search rankings but it’s just irritating for visitors and is the perfect way to encourage them to leave your site.

2. Use automated email to encourage people back

use automated email

Website engagement is not a one-time-only thing. We want visitors to return to our websites again and again. When only 2% of visitors become a customer on their first visit this is something you can’t afford to overlook.

Once you have engaged with a customer and have their email address on file it’s important to keep interacting with this person when they display interest. For example, by setting up an automated email that sends out after a known visitor comes to the website but does not complete an action such as buying or downloading an e-book.

3. Use chat prompts when visitors show exit intent

time spent on site

Some live chat tools offer the option to place chat prompts across your site. You’ll see one in the bottom right-hand corner now.

You can edit these prompts to say absolutely anything you like and they are a great way to grab your visitor’s attention or start a conversation. One of the options we have with the GoSquared Live Chat – which you can use for free to try this out – is to set a chat prompt to appear when the visitor shows what we call ‘exit intent’.

This is pretty much what it says on the tin – the visitor is displaying signs that they are about to leave your website.

By interrupting them with a chat prompt you avoid the forcefulness annoyingness of a mid-screen pop-up whilst still reminding them there’s more to explore.

4. Reduce page load times

reduce load time for better engagement

A really easy way to stop a visitor giving up before they’ve even reached your site is to have it load quickly.

A site like Pingdom has an excellent suite of tools to measure how quickly a site loads and importantly they measure this data constantly and from across many locations around the world. It’s important to remember that just because a site loads quickly in your home or office it doesn’t mean it does in Europe, China or Australia.

Trim down your web site by removing unnecessary scripts. Remember that a lot of your visitors will be using a mobile device so it’s important – actually, it’s crucial – that any website you run is optimised for different devices.

If you want to get technical we’ve written a post over on our Engineering Blog which will show you exactly how we keep our own JavaScript light and fast.

5. Make it accessible with design and function

accessibility for site engagement

Much the same as making the content easy to get to and easy to follow, the content should be accessible and legible.

Your website should be tested for basic functionality in as many browsers as possible and that includes mobile browsers. We are all used to a very high standard of web design and functionality these days. We expect sites to load in fractions of a second and for design to be beautiful and easy to use.

devices used analytics site engagement

Good, accessible design rarely means complicated design.

The content on your site should be designed to be read. Think about these things:

  • Use large and spacious fonts that render well on displays both big and small.
  • Help the text readability with neutral background colours that don’t overwhelm the text or the visitor’s eyes.
  • Make headings clear and bold to break up the sections of text and space things out with clear and relevant images.
  • Get the point across. Use images, use diagrams and use uncomplicated language. Your topics might be complex, but your words should be easy to understand.

6. A/B Test

testing your site engagement

The best solution to understanding how different designs work is to A/B test them.

This simple method shows a different layout to different visitors (usually just two are tested at the same time).

So, let’s say you wanted to increase the number of users commenting on your site, you could create a design that has a stronger emphasis on commenting and deploy it alongside your existing design.

Tools like Google Optimize, VWO, and Optimizely can test variations of a page against live traffic and return measurements on how each design performs. You can then use this information to choose which version of your site to roll-out for all visitors.

7. Be social

be social for higher site engagement

Making it easy for readers to share pages from your site on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the rest is a great way to ensure higher engagement.

A tweet from an industry big-wig recommending a product, or a post from a friend enthusiastic about an article are great forms of social marketing.

Social media not only encourages further sharing with a level of peer-to-peer trust involved but it also helps build an audience of long term readers and loyal users.

How can you measure engagement?

measure site engagement analytics

So, you’re ready to try out some new things on your site to increase engagement time, but you’re also going to need a way to measure if your work is having any effect.

If you’ve not already got an analytics tool set up on your site then you can give ours a go for free. It’s really simple to use and quick to get started. What are you waiting for?

Got it? Ok, let’s look at how we can measure all this new engagement you’re about to get.

We’re going to use our own dashboard in these example as it’s what we know best, but you should be able to find similar features in other tools you might be using.

Time on Site

average time on site engagement

It’s impossible to use traditional ideas of bounce rate to define the engagement on a page.

What’s really important to know here is that the majority of tools register a bounce when the user only visits a single page before leaving your site. This isn’t necessarily a negative action, especially if you have a one-page website, or if your landing page gives a comprehensive overview of your offering.

Instead at GoSquared we use time as a measure of bounce, so a legitimate visit will be registered if your visitors look engaged, even if that’s only with one page of your site.

You’ll often see this referred to as “stickiness” – simply, how long does your visitor stick around for. If it’s not clear – you want a sticky site. The stickier the better in this case.

Using time on site as a core engagement metric is a great indication of whether the changes you are making are helping to keep people online longer.

If you’ve got to this point and are thinking “What on earth is a bounce?” you might find our analytics guide useful. You can download The Fundamentals of Analytics for free and get to grips with all the basics of measuring your site’s success

Depth of Visit

time spent on site engagement

Depth of visit is a way to see how many pages of your website the average visitor looks at. Whether this metric is important to you will really depend on the type of website you have. Our post on the metrics that matter to your site will be helpful in figuring this out.

Active vs. Idle

time spent on site engagement

Our visitor activity detection is incredibly accurate and powerful – we think it’s some of the best analytics software available today.

An “active” visitor is someone who has your website open on their current tab or window. AKA they are looking directly at your website.

An “idle” visitor might have your tab open in the background whilst they are looking at something else or comparing your product to someone else’s, or have gone off to make a cup of tea.

This is an important engagement metric for a lot of businesses because the higher percentage of active visitors you have it’s safe to assume your website content is more engaging and more effective than if you had a large percentage of idle visitors.

Remember that idle visitors doesn’t mean uninterested or failed visits – your website is just not grabbing and keeping your visitors in the way you might like it to.

At the core of it “Active vs. Idle” helps you understand more than just how many people are online, but how many people are actively engaged by your content right now.

Start using GoSquared to measure engagement today

start with GoSquared

We love hearing from businesses who have tried out the tips we share so please do get in touch on twitter or via live chat.

If you want to try out any of the tips in this post you can get our free Analytics tool, our free Live Chat tool, or sign up for the beta version of our Marketing Automation tool.