Marketing Trends Brands Should Watch Out for in 2019

The year 2018 saw a lot of transformation in marketing, from big guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai being questioned in front of the senate, GDPR coming in effect, to the launch of Android Pie. Consumers are more aware and being cautious of their privacy than ever before. All of this is going to impact marketing as a function and here are such … trends which brands should watch out for in 2019 for being successful.

Augmented Reality reaches masses

Google launched the 1st release of ARCore (a software development kit) in March 2018 which opened the doors for building augmented reality experiences. A lot of applications (mobile & web) with AR experience will be coming up opening the whole new avenues of possibilities around Shopping, Hotel booking, Events, simulations, training, education and so on. Imagine wearing shirts before buying from your camera Lens, being inside a hotel room before booking. Remember PokemonGo?  That’s just an application of Augmented Reality.

There are a lot of fun games and applications if your Smartphone supports ARCore though! I just tried Sketchfab on Andriod Pie, it’s fantastic! Look at the car on my sofa.

AR experience marketing trends

Learn More:

  1. AR Core
  2. Sketchfab
  3. Smartphones and devices which support AR Core

Omni Channel Marketing Content

One size fit all will no longer work, with google awarding separate ranks for Desktop and mobile users and YouTube being the second largest search engine, the new imperative for brands is to have an omnichannel content strategy. Your users are everywhere, consuming more content for business and personal purposes. It was okay to be on one or few specific channels some time ago but not anymore, the biggest trend I observed justifying this is the fact that every product brand in social media is doing advertising on the channels owned by their immediate competition. Why? They see prospects and consumers across all channels now.

Example one:

LinkedIn advertises on google display network

Linkedin Advertizes on GDN

Google ads are also seen on LinkedIn now (notice the right-hand top side)

Linkedin has Google display ads enabled for retargeting

Twitter advertising on Linkedin

Twitter ads on Linkedin

LinkedIn and Facebook advertising on Google (ads in yellow)

LInkedin and Facebook Ads on google

It basically means that all combinations are possible now. If those leading  brands are doing this. Why shouldn’t you?

Learn More

Step by Step Guide To Setup LinkedIn Ads

Voice Search would continue to Grow!

With rise of smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos one, voice search would continue to grow in 2019. Currently, most of the applications of voice search are towards local searches. It would also spread out for real life situations like shopping. It will also go by the fact around which company owns what. For instance, Amazon owns Echo and Amazon ecommerce, so people could really do shopping while ordering from Alexa. Since more than 50% of shopping-based searches in the US origin on, Amazon would continue to lead this domain. For marketing, in this example, it means to be a listed product on Amazon, so people could order while talking to Alexa. Have voice search enabled on your website and do local SEO

Learn More:

  1. Voice Search for Local Business Study by Bright Local
  2. How to: Add Voice Search to a Website
  3. What is local SEO

Slow Growth in Visual Search

Google and Bing do offer visual search, it is not used as extensively as text-based search though! Last two years has been a challenge and a lot of players in this market were trying to figure out the accuracy levels from image search results as such. Pinterest, Amazon and eBay offer visual search too, along with a lot of small players like TinEye and picsearch. This domain would continue to see more niche players and will continue to grow. For marketing, having text, image alt tags, embedding visual search among apps, and building image libraries is a good way to get started. Upon advancements, advertising opportunities would slow grow in visual search as well.

Example: you can upload and image or URL of the image to start searching

visual search on google

More Creative Investments in Video

According to Google, in 2018, from awareness to consideration, Video advertising was used at every stage of buyer’s journey. We also see more of Vlogs than blogs today quite often. This trend would continue, and a significant amount of marketing and creative budgets would move towards Videos. Same is true for advertising on LinkedIn as well. Less than 15 seconds as video duration tend to perform better than the longer ones. LinkedIn is also coming up with Square native videos soon.

Social Media Listening and rise of AI Analysts

Consumer voices are best heard while doing social media listening. AI has wonderful applications in this field, Brandwatch last month launched Iris, a personal AI analyst for faster social media insights. These AI Analysts are expected to take up a lot of manual jobs a social listening or social intelligence professional may be doing today, collating data and analyzing trends for instance. For marketing it means, being an early adopter of AI Analyst will have an upper edge at deriving insights.

brandwatch iris

Learn More: Top 6 Social Media Listening Tools To Monitor Your Brand

GenZers entering workforce

About 61 MN GenZers (people born 1997 onwards) are going to enter the workforce in the US alone. Current markets are dominated by millennials at most. Gen Zers seem to be value success, with professional and academic achievement ranking as most important. Marketing will be impacted by their lifestyle, habits, ambitions, choices, working style as well. For marketing it would also mean,  being heavy on social media spends, finding out ways to build  a cult brand and so on.

Learn More:

Gen Z: What To Expect From The New Workforce

How Millennials are Marketing to Gen Z

Censored Search & Project Dragonfly

Of late there has been a lot of hype and news around Google working on Project Drangonfly for Chinese government to create a censored search engine. Few of the Google employees too signed letters against censored search engine for China during November 2018. It would  basically mean end of transparency and democracy of search engines, globally. Sundar Pichai in his latest hearing with the senate reassured that “they have no plans for launch in China” for now.

google employees


Marketing Certifications will have lesser Value

Every Product OEM owning any marketing product is trying to build a mindshare and gain from educational means. While Hubspot was an early entrant to training and certifications, SEMrush, Adobe and Google are few of the successful brands in this field. Now, there are way too many products, with every product comes the training and thus the certification. It is also a fact that not every company is as great brand as google or Hubspot for argument sake. One, the quality goes down when you have so many certifications that too product related in market and, secondly, recruiters and managers will have tough time deciding what to look for in qualifications.

I did cover a lot of such online courses, I can safely say that most of them try to teach you the product functionalities and questions are framed accordingly. This trend shall continue unless regulatory bodies put a check and define those qualifications, the very nature of digital being dynamic will have challenges to be defined though!

Look at the people fighting on PPC for the keyword “digital marketing courses list” for instance

digital marketing courses

Learn More:

17 Awesome Free Online Marketing Courses for Digital Marketers

Universal basic income

UBI or universal basic income has been debated for over last 2 years now. AI and automation is expected to take away a lot of jobs that we do today and it is happening already. Several recent studies projects that about 47% to 50% of all existing jobs will disappear in next 25 years. Same is backed by prominent industry leaders like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg etc. Ontario in Canada, in fact, started running a pilot project for Universal Basic Incometo know how the money affected health, income, effort and work and housing status among its recipients. That unfortunately, is called off by the new government for now. About 100 CEOs are requesting the government to bring it back though! If it would have been allowed for 3 years as planned, there could have been vast amount of data to analyze if the world really needs a universal basic income as such.

Elon Musk Tweet AI

There are couple of other countries running this project, Sikkim in India intend to roll this out soon, and it is just a matter of time. Every Corporate and marketing would be impacted from this out of the box approach.

Learn More:

  1. Ontario Basic Income Pilot
  2. Basic income around the world

Social Media would strongly influence the global Politics

Gone are the days when political social media content could be ignored. You could easily find political campaigns being run on Social Media to drive influences, donations, charity, opinion polls, exit polls and so on. Politicians has direct access to their voters through social media. It works mutually beneficial for social media companies like Facebook, Twitter as they get advertising dollars and political parties of respective countries as they connect with direct voters as such.Social Media would strongly influence the global Politics

During late 2018, Twitter came with a whole new policy around political campaigning in the US. The account information, deletion and related requests have also seen a spike last year.

data drive

The content removal requests have also seen a spike since 2009 at Google, whilst reasons cited could  be multiple among governments, there could be hidden political interest as well.

reasons for content removal - googleLearn More:

List of elections in 2019

Handpicked Articles to learn more:

  1. Top 20 Marketing Trends brands should watch Out for in 2018
  2. Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018
  3. GDPR Implications For Digital Marketing
  4. 2019 B2B Marketing Trends: Ideas For The Contrarian Marketer
  5. Best Free SEO Tools To Gain Ranks on Google

Do you see different or more marketing trends this year? Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

Please do subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.



Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Common issues and problems with LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn as an advertising platform may not be the best solution out there. It is still undergoing product revamps and modifications to suit advertising needs better, this year. It does, however, know you target audience best for account-based marketing programs. Like every product have an area of improvement, here are 10 such common issues and problems I discovered while working with LinkedIn Advertising over the last three years.

1.Inconsistent List Match Rate in Matched Audience

You can create Audience by creating website audience or uploading a list of accounts or contacts to include or exclude in your campaigns under Account assets as given in the screenshot below. 300 is the minimum threshold value for a list to be ready for running campaigns as such.

website & uploaded list audience

The problem is that the list match rate observed under “Uploaded List Audience” changes with time. It can reduce or increase on its own. This is true even for a live campaign. I observed this during July to September this year to be specific. It has a significant impact on your advertising campaigns as more list match rate means more impressions being served, better changes for your audience to click your ads and vice versa.

Quick Pro Tip:

Keep a close watch on list match rates within your live Campaigns if any being used. This reason is not discoverable by usual metrics LinkedIn Ads provide as such.

For instance in the screenshots below the match rate for same list of accounts has changed thrice from 15 August to 16 September. (80% then 35% and then less than 5%)

List match rate August 2018 Linkedin AdsList match rate September 2018 linkedin adsList match rate October linkedin ads

Learn More:  Uploading Lists for Account and Contact Targeting for LinkedIn Ads


2.Two Problems with LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms

a) No form edits

There is no way to edit a Lead gen form which is most promising offering from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. You will have to create a new form all over again if you wish to edit anything at all. It is painful ☹

Secondly, you can choose a maximum of 7 form fields only. This is more like a limitation though!

edit a lead gen form template

Learn More: Editing Lead Gen form templates

b) Social Sharing

Social engagements with lead gen forms just don’t work. If you intend to show ads to your target audience alone, they will see an auto populated lead gen form upon clicking your ad, if any among your target audience happen to like, comment or share it further, the followers of your target audience will see a mere image and post – nothing remains clickable on that ad. In short, followers of your target audience cannot take the desired action you want them to take.

Quick Pro Tip: Always create a landing page version on your website despite of using lead gen forms and include that URL in your ad copy/promotion. A lead gen ad when shared by your audience will get you more leads organically then.

3.Audience Targeting is not accurate

I was trying to setup a campaign in early November and surprisingly, Antarctica showed about 12000+ people available by IP addresses among my target audience which is not possible, because of all the available resources Antarctica doesn’t happen to have 12000+ people in winters at all.Antarctica targeting Linkedin

Here is what Wikipedia Says


demographics of Antarctica

4.Bid Range & Simulators don’t work

If you happen to bid manually, you will notice suggestions for your bid range and real-time recommendations with a bulb icon as below. The recommendations as you see below are of no range and simulation linkedin manual ad bidding

Moreover, if you implement any of the suggestions as such, you will the next immediate recommendation to go further higher on your bids which is again difficult to digest.

Learn More: LinkedIn’s Advertising Cost & Bid Types

5.No GIF Ads on LinkedIn

Unlike Twitter, you can’t really advertise a GIF ad format on LinkedIn as such. Minor workaround of converting GIF in MP4 files work fine though!

6.Vague Quality Scores

Quality scores are measured at Campaign and Account level. There is no way you get a reward or incentive or better CPCs if ad quality is great. On the flip side, unlike google ads, you could run an irrelevant ad, promote an irrelevant landing page without being penalized for it as well.

Secondly, Multiple advertisers trying to target similar or exactly same audience as yours would only increase the bid prices.

Learn More: Campaign Quality Scores for Sponsored Content

7.Probable bidding against yourself

This is true to large organizations running multiple campaigns or having multiple people as Campaign Managers on LinkedIn. If you advertise from your corporate handle, that is treated as one account and if you issue a purchase order or IO to LinkedIn from any part of the world, that is considered as another account. When you target similar audience within these 2 accounts and within the same time frame, you bid against yourself in simple terms and you also end up spending more money for showing ads as such.

Your audience, however, will see the ads coming in from same company as yours despite of having 2 separate accounts within your company.

Quick Pro Tip:

With one account you never bid against yourself, Avoid advertising from more than one IO or more than one corporate account.

8.Can’t Delete Ads & Campaigns

Don’t worry there are options to change your ads or add new ads in your campaigns, you can’t  really delete any created ads though! They will just stay in there.

archiving campaigns linkedin ads

Quick Pro Tip:

Replace old creative with new ads instead of adding new.

Learn More:  Archiving Campaigns and Ad Variations

9.No notifications on Comments

LinkedIn Ads don’t have a way to send in  alerts or notifications as such. While running campaigns if any of your ads happen to get a negative comment, there is no way you will be notified for such comments, instead you will have to manually check all campaigns and all ads within them to respond as appropriate. it is a tedious task if you are running multiple campaigns simultaneously. Positive comments are okay with negative comments need your immediate attention.

sad part linkedin ads

10.Ineffective Audience expansion

While targeting a list of accounts or audience targeting in general, Audience expansion does helps to get additional leads from similar audience within your targeting parameters. having said so, it can, sometimes go out of the proportion and get you irrelevant leads which you never wanted and certainly not at a bid price. It gets difficult to justify ROI from advertising spend in such cases.

Example:  One of the campaigns targeting IT department as a Function, I ended up getting a lead submission for a “Medical Nurse” every factor was correct and in place except the fact that I had enabled Audience Expansion.

audience expansion linkedin ads

Learn more: Audience expansion

Please do subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Handpicked related topics to Learn More:

  1. Tips & Best practices for LinkedIn Ads
  2. Types of LinkedIn Ads & When to Use Them
  3. Step by Step Guide To Setup LinkedIn Ads
  4. Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.



Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

Social media is growing!

If I were to look at numbers for growth, the number of social media users worldwide in 2018 is 3.196 billion, up 13 percent year-on-year which is more than the growth in numbers of internet and mobile phone users put together.

Source: Global Digital Report

Brands have continued investing more in social media, while most of the social platforms have grown, few of them saw a downfall as well, for instance, recent news around Stumble Upon which is Mix now.

Globally, with Facebook Cambridge Analytical scandal being well known, there is a lot more user awareness, checks and need to bring in regulations for social media usage has been well recognized.

Brands need to approach social media bit differently than last year. Read More about ”Best Practices of social media Usage in 2017” as I covered it last year too.

In this blog, we will discuss the best practices a brand/company can adopt in 2018 and beyond to succeed in social media.

Choice of Social Media Platforms

I have noticed this multiple time with startups and founders trying to create a social media profile as the very first step after a website in developed. While it’s good to be omnipresent, for social media, choose only what is relevant to your business, having a clear vision and strategy for being on social media must be well drafted in advance probably with your business plan itself. For example, a B2B company selling data center services may not need Instagram where 61% of the platform users are between 18-34 years for instance. On the other hands, it’s good to have if you are in B2C business selling clothing to youngsters.

Best way to use Hashtags

• Hashtags are prominently used even outside Twitter today. Short and sweet ones with a direct message to your audience tend to perform than the longer ones. Adding a brand hashtag to the social media posts is a great way to get attention and drive engagements.

Use relevant hashtags, one on LinkedIn and 2 to 3 on Twitter trend well. Hashtags also trend differently across a season or a day. One must also look at using the trending hashtag which matters to the business basis seasonal/weekly or trending on Twitter trends.

Extend your hashtags across all marketing channels. Be it retail stores, your website, campaigns or newsletters, it will only add to your brand recall and eventually can be a hashtag you own.

Avoid distracting hashtags: Your call to action should be simple without too many hashtags to drive intended user behaviour.

• You could also tell the complete story using hashtags alone on Instagram, certainly, not on Twitter or LinkedIn, so feel free to use more of them on Instagram and few of them for better context setting on LinkedIn & Twitter. Example from My Instagram feed as below to tell a story using 8 hashtags.

Neeraj Instagram screenshot

Length of Social Media posts

• Tweet Copy: 280 characters or less is the official limit. Each link, which is the usual way of posting, reduces the character count by 24 characters, leaving 256 characters for the tweet copy.

• LinkedIn: headline has a text limit of 120 characters maximum and company updates could be 700 characters long. Your summary/About Us section has a limit of 2,000 characters. LinkedIn Publishing seems to have 120,000 characters limit after which Publishing will throw an error. While posting organic or paid advertising related posts, try to keep the posts under 150 characters to display the content across multiple devices, longer posts get truncated on tablets or mobile screens.

If you would like to learn more about character limits across social media platforms, my personal favourite for Publishing, Social Sprout has covered this in detail as here: “Know Your Limit: The Ideal Length of Every Social Media Post”

Organic and Paid Social Media Mix

Organic social media as a focus can be a good start for startups or businesses not ready to spend money. They should do regular postings, develop an organic follower and fan base. Otherwise called as Owned media as in the image posted below. Once they have a sound understanding of what works vs What’s not. They can consider spending money on paid media.

Owned media social

Nevertheless, Paid social media is of utmost importance as it gives you reach and you are not limited by the number of organic followers on a social platform. For instance, when you advertise on Twitter, you decide where to advertise and what, it’s not Twitter who decides basis your organic follower base. I have seen the reach/impressions going by over 3X in my experience which can be a significant number for any startup looking for wins without waiting months and years together to build an organic follower base. Organic success is a long journey anyway. Therefore, I would recommend using paid social media to get quick wins despite having a new business or a website.

Online Reputation Management

• Always hear the social media, have a team who does social media listening. You could also look at setting up a social analytics team or using tools like Brand Watch as social media is very dynamic, public sentiments being unheard can cost you money. Leading consumer brands like Dell and Google today, use this for sentiment analysis., research what’s being said on social media and product teams devise their product strategy basis the same.

Quick Pro tip: If you just analyze this carefully, you can quickly guess what’s wrong with a consumer brand for a specified time duration.

• Engaging with users and responding to them in time, across your social media channels is significant too.

Corporate Social Media Policy

If not already, employers must have a corporate social media policy encompassing details around what employees, stakeholders, and your business partners can post. In the long run, it can help to defend against legal trouble and security risks and It will also empower your employees to extend company messaging further as needed.

Know more about “How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Company” by Hootsuite here.

Best Practices for Posts on Social Media

Content is king in marketing as always, try to categorize your posts basis buyer’s intent or buyers’ journey, one basic way to look at organizing your posts can be AIDA model or breaking your posts across your marketing campaign by Activities, Interest, Desire and Action for instance.

• Focus on best time and frequency to post. While one way to look at it is the industry standard way which I discussed in my blog about social media best practices last year. The other way to look at it is your social media data, what works best and when. Please be careful that if you use a publishing tool or post 4 times a day with defined time intervals, this method won’t work. Analyze data where your posts are random in a certain period only.

• People love urgency, adopting “limited time offer” or “incentives to download” can be a good try.

• This is well known and much relevant to advertising on social media, Posts with images or videos perform better than text alone ones. HubSpot stated similar earlier this year (32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business)

• Posts with images or visuals of human faces perform better than posts with any other images, at least in advertising.

For Video content, smart, simple. Lesser duration and anything with screen supers would work better. Last year. Google tested out 6 seconds video for YouTube Bumper ads, On LinkedIn, 15 seconds or lesser video content works best.

Repurpose your social content to gain a better understanding of the content performance. Sometimes a good post performs differently on a weekday than a weekend. Pilot, test, run and adopt what works better for you.

• You may be surprised but people love letters in caps and I have noticed this across search/PPC and social media marketing. Text with first letters in caps performs better than small letters.

Social Mentions are very important and must be done carefully only when needed, as most of it is in the public. I have seen people using it on LinkedIn as a new trend since last year, and it has gone up to a level of employees tagging their bosses to please without a context or reason. Business must know that every follower knows what you post in their news feeds, users also have an option of following you without even being your connection as such, so choose whom to mention for what, very wisely. It also applies to individual profiles across social media.

• Businesses can also look at using social media automation tools such as Buffer Social, Hootsuite or Social Sprout to plan social posts and their frequency, few of the social media management/monitoring tools I did cover in my blog last year for quick reference.

Hope you will find this blog useful, let me know your thoughts, comments or suggestions about more such best practices for social media usage in the comments section below.

Please do subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.



Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

What are backlinks in SEO and What is the Significance of Link Building

Rumors say, there are about 200+ ranking factors for Google and backlinks are among the top 3 contenders for google ranks, as said by Andrey Lipattsev earlier ( Partner Development Manager, Search and Integrations at Google), I also happen to listen to him in a recently conducted “Digital Transformation Day” an online conference this month.  A backlink is very commonly used term in the SEO world. These are links coming into your web pages from external websites or commonly stated as links from a third party back to your website. Acquiring backlinks is also a proven marketing tactic that increases brand awareness and conversions.

moz search factors survey

Top 2 factors are link related, Source: Moz | Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015

Traditionally, web pages with maximum backlinks used to rank higher which is largely true, even today. The more you have, the better are the chances to rank well for top keywords.

What is a good backlink


* Search engines also consider citation or mentions like links


Being relevant to the search query is of utmost importance to Google. A backlink is relevant when it comes from a relevant source.


Google must trust the website from where the link is originating to your website, for a backlink to be good to you. Google’s move towards not trusting a website without SSL encryption is a worrying factor as chances of our old backlinks getting diluted are more. (if they don’t bring in encryption for example)


Effective link building doesn’t mean building unlimited links but it means getting genuine links from the website that are reliable and of high domain authority. For example, A link from an authoritative website like the Wall Street Journal will make a greater impact on your rank than a link from a newly built website.

Different domains

All your backlinks should not be from same domain with different quality domains, instead.

The Significance of Link Building

Backlinks from one website to another act as a vote in eyes of Google and indicates search engines that others vouch for your content.

Link Building helps in the following:

  • More visibility of your website and content in the search result.
  • The high-quality incoming link means your site will be admired as a valuable resource to Google. Focusing on niche and quality content are some of the ways to look at it.
  • Getting indexed in search result easily.
  • Receive traffic from other websites linked to your web pages
  • It is also a very strong signal which search engines use while considering ranking.

Related Read:

  1. 13 Steps For Building An Effective SEO Strategy
  2. Press Release SEO – Best Practices & Checklist To Optimize PR
  3. Google Penguin 4.0 Update – Impact On SEO

What do you think, Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!

Please do subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.



Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Top 20 Marketing Trends brands should watch Out for in 2018

Marketing Trends in 2018

2017 for marketing has been a year of transformation, the realization of issues concerning common man and coming up with proactive measures to overcome difficulties consumers face today. From emphasizing more upon digital channels, increasing twitter character lengths to realizing and acting upon fake news in the late 2017, brands today, are becoming more and more consumer-centric. Marketing is evolving and there is a long way to go. In this blog, we shall discuss 20 marketing trends brands should watch out for in 2018 and years to come.

1. Virtual Reality in Questionable state

Virtual reality started with a big bang about 2 years ago. It was expected to be a part of mainstream advertising budgets, but witnessed a limited play in movies and TV shows, unlike games. Flagship mobile phones launch in 2015, Lenovo Vibe X3 for instance, had bundled mobile phone and virtual reality headsets together, which is not a case with leading mobile brands today. This is going to continue further and brands will see lesser traction on mobile devices and applications of virtual reality in marketing. It could take six to eight years for VR to reach a tipping point.

Read More about Virtual Reality Marketing in my previous blog post here.

2. Machine Learning in Marketing

Machine learning, inevitably, will change the way brands consider marketing to their customers today. By now, you must have tried looking at a product on an e-commerce site and the very next second the same product is shown to you across your mailbox, apps you download and websites you visit in multiple ad formats. It will rise more and more with dynamic shift mobility and android market is taking today. Basically, it’s a use case of Machine learning in digital advertising and termed as Retargeting. Leading companies such as Facebook, Google, and Vizury enable this for marketers to effectively target their audience for improved conversions. It also brings in the Real-time application of ads to the desired audience and cut on unwanted spends as machines can learn quicker than human beings. Essentially, personalized and better-targeted ads, real-time application and ability to learn quickly will eventually be more cost effective for businesses. Thus, it will continue to rise in 2018 and marketers will see increased investments in machine learning as a capability.

3. Limiting Gated Content

Creating a simple landing page and gating content has been useful in past few years. From necessary to unnecessary gating of content, and forcing users to submit a form in exchange for an asset, offer or benefit has been overused. Brands like Zendesk and Hubspot have already started using the mix of gated and nongated content. Customers would prefer not forcing them to fill a form every time they need an asset from your website. This trend will see more traction and brands will choose what to gate and what not to gate in 2018. Using a suitable mix and differentiating gated and ungated content will be key to success in 2018.

4. LinkedIn gets life

LinkedIn in 2017, have made multiple improvements to the platform. Last month, I also noticed Akshay Kothari, Head of LinkedIn India, promoting thought leadership driven video bytes often candid conversations, essentially, targeting youth, B2B professionals, and Job seekers, the Purpose LinkedIn is well known for. I personally felt its lot more life on LinkedIn as It is sometimes boring talking business all the time on LinkedIn. This trend will surely be noticed by leading brands, and people will try bringing in youth, new thoughts and candid conversations on LinkedIn. With free data plans floating all around, the video is going to be an integral part of LinkedIn in 2018.

LinkedIn India

On Linkedin editors, news feed appears like the example given below.

LinkedIn Editors

Learn More:

Types of LinkedIn Ads & When to Use Them

Tips & Best practices for LinkedIn Ads

Step by Step Guide To Setup LinkedIn Ads

5. Twitter declines

Twitter didn’t grow in 2017, due to limited improvements in the ad platform and focus on user acquisitions rather, in 2017. There is some positive news on user base and numbers which started growing post-Oct 2017. The increase character length from 140 characters to 280 characters now has been a debatable topic as well. Experts say that Twitter’s technology lags than that of Facebook and Google. The fanciness of hashtags, however, is not going to decline and brands will continue using Twitter in 2018. By what percentage, time can only tell for now.

twitter sales and growth

6. Rise of Instagram

According to Brandwatch, Instagram now reaches an average audience of 500 million people daily in the third quarter of 2017, more than double that of Snapchat or Twitter (each has fewer than 200 million daily active users). Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month, which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat, as reported in Business Insider.

Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom told Variety earlier this year: “People say Instagram is super positive and optimistic. If you take a close look at 2017 statistics provided by the Instagram, He seems right, if u glance through the Top hashtags of 2017:

  1. #love
  2. #fashion
  3. #photooftheday
  4. #photography
  5. #art
  6. #beautiful
  7. #travel
  8. #happy
  9. #nature
  10. #picoftheday

It has become a must-have for celebrities, controversial artists, photography enthusiasts and fitness freaks to grow their follower base. Irrespective of a need or no need, Users are experimenting with Instagram.  Whilst it’s good to have 2 to 3 hashtags in a tweet, at least until Twitter had 140 characters limit. Instagram has the exact opposite to play, and it provides more liberty to users. Users are adopting more and more of hashtags to get heard in noisy image place. There aren’t any hashtag limitations as such, but according to, a TrackMaven study of Instagram accounts with 1,000 followers or fewer, posts containing four or five hashtags received an average of 22 interactions compared to 14 interactions on posts with zero hashtags.

7. Net neutrality – loses or wins – Impact is the imperative

As per dictionary, it’s the principle that Internet service providers or ISPs should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking products or websites. In recent development at the US, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington voted to dismantle the “net neutrality” rules. Basically, giving more power to cable and telecom companies to control future of the web. Advertising revenues will eventually start moving towards Telecom and cable companies as marketers will have better avenues for consumer profiling and targeting there. I also see the premium charges being applied to advertising there.

8. Rise of ad blocking tech

Recent report during March 2017 explained that ad fraud will cost brands $16.4 billion globally and nearly 20 percent of total digital ad spend was wasted in 2016. It is a growing concern among advertisers and publishers today. It has been bothering Google for some time now. From acknowledging this to be a problem in July 2017 to refunding advertisers for fake ads, Google did it all to regain advertiser’s faith. There is no definite solution to this problem in 2017, there will be focused attention in 2018 by leading brands such as P&G, I personally loved the speech by Marc Pritchard from P&G in Jan 2017 wherein he slammed platforms for lacking uniform standards. Earlier this year, P&G’s programmatic partner The Trade Desk partnered with bots-detection company White Ops eliminate ad fraud, before buyers are charged, from inventory offered by supply-side platforms. This opens new avenues for ad fraud solutions and more service providers in 2018 as brands today, don’t even have a transparent visibility of where their ads were actually shown.

9. Voice Search in 2018

An estimate by ComScore says, by 2020, almost 30 percent of searches will be done by, without a screen. Google, on the other hand, says, about 20 percent of search queries via its app are through voice search. Readiness for voice search will be the need of brands in 2018. More investments expected in voice search friendly websites, apps, it may also lead to the adoption of chatbots/ artificially intelligent virtual assistants to power voice search queries in some cases. Amazon and Google, for instance, have released mini-Wi-Fi speaker for the home, respectively. This possesses a challenge to Google as it limits monetization opportunities.

10. Privacy breach & Marketing

This the topic I love the most, Blackberry Passport , which was way ahead of its generations and Blackberry 10 OS has been killed officially (For now, deadline by blackberry is for 2019) as it was too secure and covering your privacy so much that even the basic blackberry browser could tell you and ask your permission if a website is trying to know your location (At least at that moment). Something which Google always wants from you and even does it without your knowledge. For instance, if you just go to and try buying a product shipping internationally from the US, it says “it can be shipped or not” without actually taking user’s consent. Thanks to Android and China making cheapest possible aAndroiddevices on earth. Basically, you either choose an Android or an Apple ecosystem, the latter being costlier Apple ecosystem, market is growing faster on former one. With growing Android devices and mobile taking the centerstage, your privacy is at risk. In one sentence, Google knows everything about you. Likewise, Xiaomi knows everything about Redmi devices as you have an MI account to sync it all. For brands, it’s the good news as they can target more users, more apps and more personalized customer choices and offers they wish to. Maintaining a fine balance between offering what is required and avoiding too much of content push will determine their success in 2018.

11. Questionable state of Social Media

Power and Politics can overrule social media today. Influencer social media campaigns are at all-time high. One thought vs other, one political party vs other. Smart marketers are using this opportunity to create biased or unbiased content, distribute and monetize from it. Social media is a new mandate for political parties, and marketers will continue to earn more from it in 2018. State of social media remains questionable as One can hire thousands of social media advocates/employees and troll whomsoever they want. Thus, every discussion can become an argument leading to end of the very thought process itself. Above all, fake robots are also being used to gain likes, spike traffics and numbers, eventually, resulting in ad fraud as well. Few classic videos I found as below, where China seems leading the innovation 🙂

Like factory in China 





How Fake Likes are Made





12. Dark Social and Web analytics limitations

It’s dark when people share content through private channels such as instant messaging programs, messaging apps, incognito mode in some cases and email. Simply stating, any web traffic that’s not attributed to a known source is dark social. It is very difficult for marketers to measure anything coming into their website through dark social. While there are certain ways brands can manage it but this it’s a marketing opportunity lost as no one knows how to address this. This trend will continue to rise in 2018 as well.

13. Facebook is the new video platform

During last few months, we noticed a significant number of video posts across Facebook unlike traditional images and content posts. Though there are ad inserts within the videos shown on Facebook which is annoying sometimes, but the mix of liking a page and getting all content from a Facebook page seems working for brands today, it is on demand as you go to Facebook anyway for social media. YouTube on the other hand has the bell icon and subscribing option to do so. But I would go to YouTube primarily for Videos and not for any other form of content. Apart from this, the content repurposing in phenomenal In B2C brands marketing on Facebook. Clearly, Facebook has an upper edge here, with introduction of Facebook watch in August 2017, and continued growth in videos for over 100 million hours of video watch time, much before “Watch” was launched, and free mobile data plans all around, it is poised to move ahead and be the biggest video platform.

14. Rise in Mobile money means more avenues for advertisers

2018 will be a year of massive shift in way we do payments together. From Android & Samsung Pay, Tez by Google to digital mobile banks being a reality, next year will see increase in digital payments. Amazon Pay, Paytm at India are few such examples. This will though, lead to complex partner ecosystems and demand a need for regulations.

15. B2B events won’t die

At least in B2B marketing, people still believe events and trade shows are important to be present, at least the generation born before 80s. I have also seen a lot of resistance to change and shifting budgets towards Digital Marketing, as they say, People are resistant to change in general.  Events also involve Face to face discussions and being felt in public view. Though digital marketing budgets will continue growing, people won’t leave B2B events and conferences and experienials spends either.

16. Gaming videos are New content for engagement

Animation is going in full swing. Gaming companies such as Unilad are using Facebook and showing snippets from the game story itself for engaging users are providing them with the look and feel of the game before it is released. The level of engagements shows it’s working. I see this as a growing trend in 2018 wherein brands will invest more on Facebook and Instagram to gain from such engagements online.

Unilad gaming

17. Media Surround on gaming consoles

I use an old Sony PlayStation 3, I noticed these Gaming consoles also offering the Content platform to watch videos such as YouTube, Yupp TV and Amazon Prime. This has been there for some time now but the addition of new website/miniature app versions are incremental. In 2018, marketers will have a definite reach to the users using Gaming consoles.

18. More telcos will offer digital content consumption – Free and Paid

At least in the Indian markets, from Airtel, Idea to Reliance Jio, every telecom company is trying to create a content ecosystem of movies and media channels to gain and retain existing users, which is mostly free for end customers. It’s a new mandate, for all leading telecom companies in 2018. This content trend is currently dominated by Netflix and new entrant Amazon in the West for now. Few telecoms, are though offering free data if you buy some data from them. For marketers, this too, will provide more reach and personalized messaging to the audience and new revenue streams for telecom companies.

19. Customer Experience will continue to be a focus in 2018

A classic case is with a mid-segment, Chinese brand like OnePlus which has been innovating with every launch they made from Dash charging to frequent patch updates android users always ask for, respecting every flagship they launched and promising Android Oreo updates Dash charging – is something lot of leading brands failed to recognize even today. Almost every query or concern was addressed by social media/leadership team at OnePlus directly truly living up to their brand positioning of #NeverSettle. Brands should use 360 degree / all marketing channels to hear customer voice and address them in public. Essentially, consistent improvement in customer experience results in free word of mouth and therefore, save your marketing dollars.

oneplus tweet

Explore Oneplus 6T

20. Bitcoin and Blockchain – Marketing Implications

The Harvard Business Review describes “Blockchain” as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. This is very recent and a trending topic amongst marketers. From verifying ad delivery to paying for content creation, distribution and to rewarding customers. It has a whole new set of applications. I liked a blog covering this topic in detail as here. Twenty-Seven Ways Marketers Can Use Blockchain


Trust you found this blog useful, please let me know your feedback, comments and suggestions the comments section below.

Handpicked Articles to Learn More:

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

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Best Free SEO Tools To Gain Ranks on Google

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Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.



Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

6 Websites To Create Completely Free Logo For Your Business

Brand management starts with a logo, it’s a symbol, design or unique identity which distinguishes you from competitors and sets you apart. Startups spend hours and days together to find the best logo design for them, it’s not easy and somewhat tedious because of multiple factors involved in choosing a right look and feel for your logo. It needs a unique design, appeal, should not be already existing or similar with any existing logo or a brand, should be in line with your brand colours, Vision of the company etc. etc. In a nutshell, it is not easy to get right choice of the logo in the first attempt!

There are multiple ways to create a logo for your business, you could always hire a professional designer or freelancer from websites such as Fiverr (I did the same for my logo) and brief him/her according to your business requirements, this requires initial investments though! On the other hand, you could also do it yourself which is more fun and free, you could experiment as much as you want without incurring any cost until you are satisfied.

Let me start with the totally free ones first which mean, from concept, creation to final download of your logo file, these are free.

1. Logo Factory Web 

The minimalistic and simplest of all, select a suitable clipart/image from 453 options available, add the text of your logo and tagline, choose the font, and you are all set to download your free logo in PNG format.

Explore More: LogoFactory Web

2. Cool Text

You could choose the font and logotype, change colors, add shadow, do much more customization, and finally, generate the logo as png, gif, HTML and in other file formats.

The actual USP of this website is that you can try using a symbol from multiple options available and make a unique combination to design your logo.

Explore More: Cooltext

3. Online Logo Maker

This is pretty much similar to the other logo websites as I explained above, the unique proposition being an option to upload an image and trying to utilize your image for creating much-customized choices. This is completely free and you could also download a PNG File.

Explore More: onlinelogomaker

The second set of logo making websites are as below, wherein you can create and customize logos to some extent, however, to download final usable logo, you might want to sign up and invest money into.

4. Logo Garden

Simple interface and plenty of options to choose from. You could decide from industry selection as the first step, the second step is to select a symbol, and yes you can edit and download too. It also gives you an option to visualize your logo across different merchandise. The limitation being you can only download a jpeg version for your logo here.

Explore More: logogarden

5. Logotype maker

Logotype maker is very user-friendly, all you need to do is just type the name of your business name, upon a click, it will suggest multiple options to choose from.  The unique feature offered here is to change background across all logo options you can see in a single click. Once you are satisfied with a design, you will be prompted to register an email and activation needs to be followed. The good news is that you could download your final logo but it needs an attribution on your website.

You also get an option to choose the particular choice of logotype by using keywords in the second tab.

Explore More: logotypemaker

6Make Logo Online free

Designs options here are graphics intensive with more than (approx.) 20 pages to choose designs from in each category. This website also provides enormous customization options for your chosen logo. You will need to register and pay for a final high-resolution logo.

Explore More: makelogoonlinefree

7. Logaster

I discovered this recently which is more advanced backed by Artificial intelligence and seamless user experience. You could get enormous design options with visualizations across website, merchanside store and all possible branding opportunities in real-time. The best part of this website is single solution for all your logo needs. You can order business cards, social media kits, logo all within a single click.

Explore More: logaster

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Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

How to Use Hashtags for Effective Communication

A hashtag is meant for categorizing your content into different buckets using “#” symbol, essentially a type of text-based label or Meta tag which enables users to find your conversations online with ease. Any combination of characters led by a hash symbol makes a hashtag. This was first proposed by Twitter in 2007 and ever since then, it has evolved from a means of identification to having a complete tweet chat or a conversation with enormous numbers of web audience in one go.

Hashtags – A Communication Tool for Marketers

Effective communication utilizing smart and focused content, technology with suitable channel mix connects better with your consumers. The hashtag is a powerful search tool, one can utilize it to search the content of choice, people, companies, brands and posts of their interests. Utilizing a hashtag enables communication with masses at the fraction of a second.

Hashtag which trends the most, easily gets noticed on left hand sidebar of the twitter feed, Linkedin Feed or trending topics in your area, it also means that conversations involving top trending hashtags have more chances of being noticed, one, because users want to know why it’s trending on top :), and two, because it conveys a message and people are really talking about it loudly on social media at any given point of time. Thus, Hashtags create conversations leading to engagement which is the primary need for marketers in the Digital Marketing world today. It is an important marketing tool for effective communication across the masses, identifying conversations pertaining to your interests and engaging with your target customers accordingly. It is measurable, impactful and everlasting.

Marketers, today, are using hashtags for engagements across events promotions, customer services, satisfaction surveys, broadcast media including opinion polls, sentiment analysis, deal based marketing to recommended next step for their brand, social media listening, and social media monitoring as well.

Let’s look at platforms where you can use hashtags as a communication tool today:

Platforms that support hashtags

  • Twitter – It’s important to take Twitter’s name first as they are use more prominently here. #kingofhashtags, this is the social media platform which brought hashtags to life and made them so popular today. Twitter was created in March 2006.
  • Facebook – A late entrant, FB announced its support for clickable hashtags in June 2013.  Ready for marketers to leverage now.
  • Instagram – You can use hashtags on Instagram to complement photos you share.
  • Tumblr – Posts here, have a special feature called “tag”, this works pretty much like a twitter hashtag
  • Pinterest – Ideal use for hashtags here is to mark and search content.
  • LinkedIn – It was not supported on LinkedIn earlier, they tried using it for a while, but abandoned them in 2013. The good news came in August 2016 wherein Linkedin enabled Hashtags again with improved features for Search

Apart from the few important ones above, hashtags are also used in Vine, Flickr, YouTube comments etc.

Best practices for using Hashtags

  • Decide your Brand Hashtag – Arriving at your brand hashtag is the key to longevity, it’s evergreen and will continue for the lifetime of your brand. This can be your brand name, your brand positioning or similar. Brand name should definitely be at least one of your hashtags if not more. Be sure that it’s not used by someone else already. Try using this across your brand conversations or campaigns. For instance, my brand hashtag is #steptoinbound
  • Research and research – The Obvious step before arriving at your brand hashtag, while it’s very easy if you decide your brand name itself as a hashtag, equally time-consuming and difficult if you are using it for a campaign specific promotion, thorough research is the key to get this right.
  • The right placement – There are multiple ways to use a hashtag in a post or tweet, however, the good approach is to use them into natural language flow of your posts and tweets, if not, try using them on a separate line after your tweet and post. This usually works better and gives unique place to your favourite hashtags.
  • Tactical hashtags – These are short terms ones or the hashtags which are a subset of your main brand. You may use them for campaign specific initiatives such as events, online campaigns, polls etc. It will be good to keep them short crisp and with a clarity of its meaning. #ShareaCoke is a well-known example with clear meaning.
  • Avoid too many hashtags – It’s good to have a maximum of 3 hashtags in a tweet, one, you have 280 characters to plan content, Secondly, you need space for the key message to be written as well.
  • Shout them across – Please use them the viral way, it’s good practice to shout with them across your mailers, landing pages, website pages (wherever offerings are relevant) and across all your campaigns, this gives easy recall, people can associate with you easily, and in the long run, no one else will take it 🙂
  • Advertising amplification – It’s good to amplify them across your social media campaigns too. E.g. FB ads
  • Avoid abusive or offensive hashtags – Twitter often censors trending hashtags. For instance – Twitter censored the #Thatsafrican and #thingsdarkiessay hashtags after users complained that they found the hashtags to be offensive. This has reached a new high level this month (Apr 2016), traditionally Twitter users have been flagging abusive tweets separately, while users can now, flag multiple abusive tweets in a single report. Instagram goes up to a level of banning the hashtag itself. For instance #EDM , #curvy were banned by Instagram due to dual meanings and offensiveness associated with #curvy in specific. Thus, please avoid such hashtags.


Ideal character limit for Twitter – It’s 280 Now 

Twitter limited Tweet length to 140 characters making the definition of a “character” and how they are counted central to any Twitter application, earlier. In late 2017, it was confirmed to be 280-characters. Initially, brands were reluctant and questioned creativity of Twitter, however, it is being seen as a positive trend now.

The bottom line

Whether it is about providing customer satisfaction or influencing a buyer behaviour, hashtags are evolving since 2007, users, today are adapted to hashtags more than ever before. People want to be heard in noisy online social media. People of all age groups are using multiple hashtags within a post to make their voice heard. News channels are conducting live debates which have changed from having TRPs alone to being trending number 1 in the Twitter feed, direct influence is relational.

with that being said, using multiple hashtags in one post may not be the right approach, for marketers, the next step will be to use them more strategically, in line with their marketing goals and leverage them enough across years to come. It is going to be a key metrics to measure your social media performance. The hashtag you decide in general for a conversation, most likely would have been already existing and may not give you exclusivity over it,branded hashtags are something you need to own and decide quickly for leveraging it in the long run.  Marketers also need to have a suitable mix of strategic hashtags for their brands which is in line with their brand name, vision or a unique offering which they will continue for  years to come, Simultaneously they need to create tactical hashtags which they can utilize for short-term marketing campaigns, event promotions, tweet chats and so on.

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Related Read:

15 Best Practices For Social Media Usage in 2017

Top 6 Social Media Listening Tools To Monitor Your Brand

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

What are your thoughts on the Best practices for social media/ hashtags usage this year? Please let me know in comments section below.




Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

How To Decide A Good Domain Name

A domain is equivalent to your brand name

I have been thinking of my brand name and have been looking around to find some resources around deciding a brand name and planning a domain name in specific. It is challenging and can get overwhelming at times!

We spend a lot of time before launching a website, often do research for our names vs others, we prefer to be easily remembered, and at the same time, avoid any direct competition for better organic search results. The domain name you decide, probably, will continue for the rest of your life, or at least as long as your business stays with you. Changing and migrating the content have always been a painful process. In this blog, we will discuss tips and recommendations for deciding a good domain name for your company.


Enough of noise being made in the online marketplace today, your domain name needs to be short, catchy and easily memorable. For instance, American Airlines is alone 🙂

Avoid Violation

Avoid choosing similar or too similar domain names with direct competition. Please do not violate someone else’s trademark.

Adopting.COM is the global way

One must try choosing a domain name with .COM extension only, until and unless you want to go local with a country or location-specific audience.

Brand Way or Search Way

Search Way – This approach is good if you are starting a new business, product, services or a blog, or doesn’t really want to spend a huge sum of money to establish your brand.  You could also analyze search traffic corresponding to your choice of keywords using tools like SEMRush or Google Keyword Planner. Try using a mix of easily memorable keywords or phrases. For instance, shoutoutloud, cashout, bringtothetable can be used as clever mixes.

Brand Way – This is a very unique way of naming your domain, this stands distinct and requires sincere brand building efforts and money until you become a well-known brand in the market. I usually recommended this approach for long-term businesses, brands, and startups with confidence to sustain in the long run. You will need to invest a lot in paid listings, PPC, 360 marketing campaigns as well.  Example: flickr is a branded domain name.

Creativity at Core

It’s also about how creatively you use synonyms or combination of keywords, for example, If your website is for videos, you may want to HD as a suffix, similarly, if your brand is a cloth brand, you may want to add XL as suffix too 🙂

Say No to numbers

Even if your domain name contains words such as ‘to’ or ‘for’ avoid using  ‘2’ or ‘4’ to keep them short. Such domain names are, usually, difficult to remember and may cost you the website traffic.

Free domain suggestion tools

If any of above ideas do not seem to be working, try using – free tools for random ideas, if it’s difficult to think, it certainly is, easy to see options and decide the best one for your company.

Sharing below the list of best free domain name generators you may want to try:

  1. FastComet
  2. NameMesh
  3. domainsbot
  4. dynadot
  5. nameboy
  6. LeanDomainSearch
  7. BustAName
  8. Business Name Generator – Free Company Name Generator – Shopify
  9. NameStall
  10. Domain puzzler
  11. DomainsBot
  12. Instant Domain Search®
  13. iwantmyname
  14. Domain Wheel
  15. NameStation

With these 15 domain name generators and my suggestions being handy, I hope you will be able to come up with a domain name to suit your business, easily, I tried keeping domain name generator options limited as it could overwhelming otherwise. In case anything seems missed out, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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You may also want to explore:

  1. How to Use Hashtags for Effective Communication
  2. 6 Websites To Create Completely Free Logo For Your Business
  3. Steps To Change Address Bar Color On Mobile Browser


Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

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