Seeking the ideal materialToday’s commercial solar cells are made from one of three materials: silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe), or copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS). Each has strengths and weaknesses.Silicon solar cells are highly efficient, converting up to 25% of the sunlight that falls on them into electricity. Silicon also is very durable. However, it is very expensive to process silicon into wafers. And these wafers have to be very thick (about 0.3 millimeters, which is thick for solar cells) to absorb all of the sunlight that falls on them, which further increases costs.Silicon solar cells – often referred to as first-generation solar cells – are used in the panels that have become familiar sights on rooftops. Our center is studying another type called thin film solar cells, which are the next generation of solar technology. As their name suggests, thin film solar cells are made by putting a thin layer of solar absorbent material over a substrate, such as glass or plastic, which typically can be flexible.A CZTS solar cell on a flexible glass substrate made by Corning. (Photo: Tara Dhakal)These solar cells use less material, so they are less expensive than crystalline solar cells made from silicon. It is not possible to coat crystalline silicon on a flexible substrate, so we need a different material to use as a solar absorber.Although thin film solar technology is improving rapidly, some of the materials in today’s thin film solar cells are scarce or hazardous. For example, the cadmium in CdTe is highly toxic to all living things and is known to cause cancer in humans. CdTe can separate into cadmium and tellurium at high temperatures (for example, in a laboratory or house fire), posing a serious inhalation risk.We are working with pyrite and CZTS because they are nontoxic and very inexpensive. CZTS costs about 0.005 cents per watt, and pyrite costs a mere 0.000002 cents per watt. They also are among the most abundant materials in the Earth’s crust, and absorb the visible spectrum of sunlight efficiently. These films can be as thin as 1/1000 of a millimeter. Global demand for energy is increasing by the hour as developing countries move toward industrialization. Experts estimate that by the year 2050, worldwide demand for electricity may reach 30 terawatts (TW). For perspective, one terawatt is roughly equal to the power of 1.3 billion horses.Energy from the sun is limitless – the sun provides us 120,000 TW of power at any given instant – and it is free. But today solar energy provides only about 1% of the world’s electricity. The critical challenge is making it less expensive to convert photo-energy into usable electrical energy.To do that, we need to find materials that absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity efficiently. In addition, we want these materials to be abundant, environmentally benign, and cost-effective to fabricate into solar devices.Researchers from around the world are working to develop solar cell technologies that are efficient and affordable. The goal is to bring the installation cost of solar electricity below US$1 per watt, compared to about $3 per watt today. RELATED ARTICLES Cost of Solar Electricity Hits a New LowPV Systems Have Gotten Dirt Cheap Green Building in the Cheap Energy EraSolar Potential Is Far Greater Than Earlier EstimatesThe Big Allure of Cheap PVSolar Now or Later?U.S. Wind Energy Prices Hit an All-Time LowThe End of Peak Oil? So far, cells are inefficientWe need to crystallize these materials before we can fabricate them into solar cells. This is done by heating them. CZTS crystallizes at temperatures under 600 degrees Celsius, compared to 1,200 degrees Celsius or higher for silicon, which makes it less expensive to process. It performs much like high-efficiency copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells, which are commercially available now, but replaces the indium and gallium in these cells with cheaper and more abundant zinc and tin.So far, however, CZTS solar cells are relatively inefficient: they convert less than 13 percent of the sunlight that falls upon them to electricity, compared to 20% for more expensive CIGS solar cells.We know that CZTS solar cells have a potential to be 30% efficient. The main challenges are 1) synthesizing high-quality CZTS thin film without any traces of impurities, and 2) finding a suitable material for the “buffer” layer underneath it, which helps to collect the electric charges that sunlight creates in the absorber layer. Our lab has produced a CZTS thin film with seven percent efficiency; we hope to approach 15% efficiency soon by synthesizing high-quality CZTS layers and finding suitable buffer layers.CZTS solar cell structure (Drawing: Tara Dhakal) Pyrite has a stability problemPyrite is another potential absorber that can be synthesized at very low temperatures. Our lab has synthesized pyrite thin films, and now we are working to layer those films into solar cells. This process is challenging because pyrite breaks down easily when it is exposed to heat and moisture. We are researching ways to make it more stable without affecting its solar absorbency and mechanical properties. If we can solve this problem, “fool’s gold” could turn into a smart photovoltaic device.In a recent study, researchers at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley estimated that solar power could provide up to 45% of U.S. electricity by 2050. To meet that target, we need to keep driving down the cost of solar power and find ways to make solar cells more sustainably. We believe that abundant, nontoxic materials are key to realizing the potential of solar power. At Binghamton University’s Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP), we are investigating ways to make thin film solar cells using materials that are abundant in nature and nontoxic. We want to develop solar cells that are reliable, highly efficient at converting sunlight to electricity and inexpensive to manufacture. We have identified two materials that have great potential as solar absorbers: pyrite, better known as fool’s gold because of its metallic luster; and copper-zinc-tin-sulfide (CZTS). Tara P. Dhakal is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Binghamton University, State University of New York. This post was originally published at The Conversation.
It’s easier than ever to make a low-budget film with high production value, yet so many filmmakers still create films that look unpolished. In this post, we share 5 details that are often overlooked on smaller-scale films.More often than not, poor production value on independent films is a result of putting emphasis and effort in the wrong places, not as a result of not having enough money. For instance, a filmmaker may spend weeks and weeks dwelling over their camera choice, but spend little to no time focusing on their audio setup. It’s not that one element is more important than the other, but it is important to throughly focus on each and every facet of the process so the film can have a solid foundation on which to stand. There are literally hundreds of elements that are overlooked on low-budget films, but the 5 that I’ve outlined below are some of the most common misses, and in my opinion some of the simplest to remedy.Use More LocationsOften times independent films will limit their locations severely as a means to keep costs down as much as possible. While this may in fact help to save a bit of money, it can also make a film feel very hollow and cheap. There may be some specific instances where a film needs to take place in a single location, but for the most part if you are making a film that takes place in multiple locations, try not to consolidate them (out of convince) to the point where it starts to look like a stage play. If you have a 7 minute scene in one single location, it is going to feel really tired and boring by the end (unless your dialogue is absolutely mesmerizing), yet if you were to simply break that 7 minute scene up into two scenes and show it across two locations, it would instantly make the film feel more substantial and engaging.Understandably you might want to save money by using a single location, but if you feel it’s important to have two locations, then figure out a way to do it – even if it means shooting guerilla (at your own risk of course!) or asking a friend for help. Do whatever it takes to change things up and create a dynamic setting within your film, and I assure you that you will thank yourself later.Camera StabilizersImage from Matthias Münzer on fotocommunityNothing screams “cinematic” more than beautiful, stabilized camera movement. The type of camera movement you choose to use will depend on your specific film and the aesthetic that you are going after, but generally speaking there is nothing that adds more production value to a scene or sequence than a nice fluid camera move. For instance, let’s assume you are introducing a new character in a scene. You can use a slider or dolly to reveal that character and this will immediately give the scene more power as you draw the viewer into the moment, as opposed to just cutting to that character from a tripod shot (or handheld).Personally speaking, I don’t like to over-use stabilization in my films, and have always felt that less is more. If you can only afford to rent one type of stabilizer for your project, consider a gimbal based stabilizer like a Movi. These are particularly easy to learn and can take the place of a slider, jib, or Steadicam all in one tool.Use a Hair LightIt goes without saying that it is crucial for you to place a premium on lighting when producing or directing a film, but one of the most overlooked lights on lower budget productions is the hair light. For those of you that don’t know, a hair light (also called a rim light, or edge light) is commonly placed behind and above your talent, and is directed at the back of their head. It creates a beautiful and subtle glow around the edge of their hair that separates them from the background.Traditionally, audiences are used to seeing this technique employed on higher budget films, and since so many low budget films neglect to use a hair light, when you are able to implement one on your shots, it really shows. Not all styles and genres are going to call for the use of a hair light, but most can work really well with one. And achieving this look can be quite easy – in fact you don’t necessarily even need a light at all. For example, if you’re shooting outside in the day time, you can use a reflector board from behind to add an edge to your talent and separate them from the background.Place A Premium On Post-AudioImage from Victorgrigas on Wikimedia.We all know that capturing quality audio on set is integral to making a good film, but how you treat the audio in post is just as important. The slightest tweaks when mixing your audio can make a world of difference in the way the audience perceives the scene and the film as a whole. For example, if you have two characters driving along in a car and their audio sounds really flat (because the car is so padded inside), then adding a little bit of reverb to the dialogue track can make the entire scene come to life.But It’s not just dialogue editing/sweeting that needs your attention though – you also need to pay close attention to other elements like sound design and foley. It doesn’t need to cost you anything to go out and record a phone ringing or a door slamming, all it takes is a little bit of effort and time – but in the end these little details can make your film feel so much more polished and complete. Imagine watching one of your favorite films with no sound design, effects, or foley in it… It wouldn’t even come close to providing you with the same experience. So do whatever you can to pay attention to detail during the post-audio stage (with regards to dialogue, mixing, and foley), and you will increase your films value dramatically.Don’t Just Color Correct, Color GradeFrom “Color Grading for the Blockbuster“Having a strong knowledge of color is fundamental to visual storytelling, as it subtly creates a mood for your audience and allows them to subconsciously understand the world they are immersed in. Most filmmakers recognize this fact and do attempt to do some some of color processing on their film, however they often don’t fully understand the difference between color correction and color grading. Many filmmakers inadvertently choose to just color correct their film, but never really grade it to give it a look and feel of it’s own, which can end up leaving their film feeling somewhat unfinished.Color correction always needs to be done first, and is essentially the process of matching the color temperature and contrast of individual clips to achieve a consistent appearance. Only once this is done, can the color grading stage can begin – and it’s here where the visual tone of the film is set. Color grading will allow you to control the sensory experience of the audience by making scenes feel warm and inviting, cool and bleak, or any other variation in between.One popular technique that many films utilize to achieve a higher production value is the ‘blockbuster look’. Essentially this is the technique of pushing the shadows to the blue side of the color spectrum, and the mid tones and highlights to the orange side. This allows for skin tones to feel warm and pleasant, while shadows feel cooler and unsettled – ultimately creating a nice amount of color contrast in the image. See our previous posts on creating a ‘blockbuster’ style color grade in After Effects or DaVinci Resolve.
The juvenile, apprehended in connection with the alleged murder of his seven-year-old school mate was on Saturday sent to judicial custody till November 22. He will be kept at an observation home.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) produced the 16-year-old before Judicial Magistrate (First Class) of the Juvenile Justice Board Devinder Singh. The CBI said the “custodial interrogation of the child in conflict with law was almost complete and he was no more required in police custody”. The father of the juvenile also moved the JJ Board seeking appropriate action against CBI officials for allegedly violating its orders. The application said the CBI had violated the Board’s orders that interrogation be conducted between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for three days.
Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH GRIZZLIES 111, 76ERS 89Brandan Wright scored 16 points as the Grizzlies improved to 2-0 in the preseason.Jahlil Okafor and Robert Covington each scored 13 for the 76ers.GRIZZLIES: Mike Conley and Marc Gasol sat out. … Chandler Parsons played 18 minutes and had five points. … Andrew Harrison scored 14 points and JaMychal Green had 11.76ERS: JJ Redick scored 11 points in his 76ers debut. … Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, who finished second and third in last season’s Rookie of the Year voting, didn’t play. … Emeka Okafor, the former No. 2 overall pick trying to make an NBA comeback from back injuries, had two points in 9 1/2 minutes.UP NEXT: Memphis (2-0) visits Atlanta on Monday. Philadelphia (0-1) hosts Boston on Friday.HORNETS 108, PISTONS 106Rookie Malik Monk scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as Charlotte spoiled Detroit’s first game at Little Caesars Arena.Andre Drummond had 16 points and 15 rebounds in the Pistons’ preseason opener.HORNETS: Nicolas Batum sprained his left elbow and left 49 seconds into the game. … Jeremy Lamb scored 18 points off the bench. … Dwight Howard had 12 points and 11 rebounds. … Frank Kaminsky scored 13 points and Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all had 10. Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dwayne Wade (9) shoots over Atlanta Hawks’ Dennis Schroder during the first half of an NBA pre-season basketball game in Cleveland, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Phil Long)Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose paired in the backcourt in Cleveland. Ben Simmons finally on the floor with Markelle Fultz alongside in Philadelphia.Two Eastern Conference teams with big aspirations got to see some of their tantalizing combinations together in their preseason openers Wednesday night.ADVERTISEMENT PISTONS: Avery Bradley scored 14 points in his first game since coming from Boston in a trade. … Tobias Harris had 13 points and nine rebounds.UP NEXT: Charlotte (1-1) visits Miami on Monday. Detroit (0-1) hosts Atlanta on Friday.PACERS 108, BUCKS 86Myles Turner and Lance Stephenson each scored 17 points in Indiana’s preseason opener.Gary Payton II had 15 points for a Milwaukee team that put no players in double figures.PACERS: Victor Oladipo, in his first game since coming from Oklahoma City in the Paul George trade, scored 15 points. Domantas Sabonis, the other played acquired in the deal, shot 3 for 11 off the bench for eight points in 14 minutes. … Darren Collison finished with 10 points, seven steals and five assists.BUCKS: All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo remains out following the death of his father. Also sitting out for the Bucks were Jabari Parker, Thon Maker, Jason Terry and Matthew Dellavedova. … Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon had five points and three assists.UP NEXT: Indiana (1-0) visits Cleveland on Friday. Milwaukee (0-2) visits Chicago on Friday.MAVERICKS 118, BULLS 71Harrison Barnes scored 17 points, rookie Dennis Smith Jr. added 14 and Dallas cruised to its second victory in two preseason games.Robin Lopez and Paul Zipser each had 12 for the Bulls.BULLS: Chicago may have run out of gas playing for the second straight night. After a 26-point first quarter, the Bulls limped to the final buzzer with quarters of 17, 17 and 11 points. … Kris Dunn was 1 for 9 from the field and the Bulls were outscored by 21 points in his 21 minutes. Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Cam Newton comments to female reporter ‘out of line’ Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Read Next LATEST STORIES Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games MAVERICKS: Dallas made 18 3-pointers. … Dirk Nowitzki had eight points and nine rebounds from the starting center spot.UP NEXT: Chicago (1-1) hosts Milwaukee on Friday. Dallas (2-0) hosts Orlando on Monday.NUGGETS 128, LAKERS 107Kenneth Faried had 25 points and seven rebounds in Denver’s second victory in three nights over the winless Lakers.Rookie Kyle Kuzma scored 21 points in a game where both teams rested top players in Ontario, California.NUGGETS: Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Wilson Chandler sat out. … Faried was 11 for 13 from the floor. … Jamal Murray scored 20 points, Mason Plumlee had 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and Emmanuel Mudiay finished with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds.LAKERS: No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball missed the game after injuring his ankle in Denver’s victory Monday. Brandon Ingram also got the night off. … Jordan Clarkson scored 13 points off the bench.UP NEXT: Denver (3-0) visits San Antonio on Sunday. Los Angeles (0-3) faces Sacramento on Sunday in Las Vegas. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC View comments Dennis Schroder had 18 points as the Hawks earned their first preseason victory.Love finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes.HAWKS: Taurean Prince had 15 points and eight rebounds. … Dewayne Dedmon was 6 for 7 from the field and scored 13 points.CAVALIERS: Jae Crowder, acquired from Boston in the Kyrie Irving trade, started and scored eight points. … Iman Shumpert played a little over two minutes off the bench before leaving with a foot injury. … Kyle Korver shot 1 for 8, 1 for 7 behind the arc, against his former team. … Rookie Cedi Osman from Turkey had six points in 16 minutes of his debut.UP NEXT: Atlanta (1-1) visits Detroit on Friday. Cleveland (0-1) hosts Indiana on Friday.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Wade and Rose made their debuts for the Cavaliers, who got a great first impression from Kevin Love in the center spot. The former All-Star guards both scored seven points as Cleveland lost 109-93 to the Atlanta Hawks while LeBron James sat out while recovering from a sprained left ankle.The Cavs are making Love their starting center this season and he began the game with 3-pointers for Cleveland’s first two baskets.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutPhiladelphia started the last two No. 1 overall picks together in its 111-89 home loss to Memphis. Simmons, who missed all of last season recovering from a broken foot, showed his versatility with six points, nine assists and seven rebounds. He shot only 2 for 8 and Fultz was worse at 2 for 13, finishing with four points in his first game.HAWKS 109, CAVALIERS 93
Sharad Yadav and Rabri Devi will be looking to get Rajya Sabha seats.With Bihar’s three Rajya Sabha seats set to fall vacant in the wake of its incumbents Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP), Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ram Kripal Yadav (both BJP) making it to the Lok Sabha, former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is once again back in the focus, as he holds the key to the entry of three aspirants to the Upper House.The list of aspirants include JD-U national president Sharad Yadav, who lost to RJD’s Pappu Yadav from Madhepura and Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi, who lost to BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy from Saran Lok Sabha seat.Unless nominated to the Rajya Sabha, both Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad may have to vacate their government residences in national capital- an unenviable situation for the two Yadav chieftains.RJD Chief Lalu Prasad can always get his house allotted in his wife’s name if Nitish Kumar agrees to send Rabri to Rajya Sabha.The political corridors are also agog with suggestions that Nitish Kumar may pick himself for the third Rajya Sabha. Some JD-U leaders, however, deny this, arguing that having got himself a government residence in Patna; Nitish Kumar will stay rooted to Bihar in the wake of 2015 Assembly polls.Nitish Kumar has had a promising political career till his latest electoral setback in Lok Sabha election made him lose his chief minister’s job and his status as the man most preferred by Bihar’s masses.If Nitish is still manning the helm of the Janata Dal United, a party with 117 MLAs in Bihar Assembly, it is because each of these legislators knows that only Nitish can get them re-elected. No wonder, Nitish Kumar is still mentoring both the Jitan Ram Manjhi Government and the party JD-U, which is otherwise headed by Sharad Yadav.advertisementThe unique authority has once again given Nitish the carte blanche to decide the names against the three Rajya Sabha vacancies.Given the composition of Bihar Assembly, the main Opposition party BJP with 87 MLAS cannot retain the two Rajya Sabha seats earlier held by Rudy and Ramkirpal Yadav. Similarly, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Rajya Sabha seat will also fall in JD-U’s kitty.The three leaders were scheduled to complete their terms on July 7, 2016, along with the JD(U)’s Ram Chandra Prasad Singh and K.C. Tyagi. Now, the three members who would be elected to the Rajya Sabha against the casual vacancies will get only over two years of tenure in the Upper House.On May 23, when the Jitan Ram Manjhi government sought the vote of confidence, 145 MLAs backed the motion in the House with the effective strength of 237. The number included 21 members from RJD backing the government. With this majority, JD-U is likely to win all the three Rajya Sabha seats.Incidentally, JD-U already has 9 MPs of the 16 Rajya Sabha seats allocated to Bihar.
New Adamson coach Onyok Getigan has eyes on big prize after triumphant debut LATEST STORIES MOST READ Hong Kong tunnel reopens, campus siege nears end PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte P2.5 B shabu seized in Makati sting, Chinese national nabbed Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Japeth Aguilar had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Ginebra, which absorbed its third loss in six outings.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next 1 dead, 3 injured in Quezon road crash Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments P2.5 B shabu seized in Makati sting, Chinese national nabbed Alaska Aces guard Chris Banchero goes for a layup against Barangay Ginebra. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netAlaska scored the game’s first seven points en route to a 104-78 whipping of Barangay Ginebra in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup Sunday night at Ynares Center in Antipolo.Guards Chris Banchero and Simon Enciso combined for 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists to lead the Aces’ charge.ADVERTISEMENT Alaska took control from the opening tip and turned the game into a one-sided affair as early as the second quarter where they took a 52-34 lead after a layup by Enciso heading into the break.The Aces went on to lead by as much as 30, 95-65, after a 3-pointer by MJ Ayaay midway through the final period.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesEnciso topscored with 23 points while Banchero collected 20 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Carl Cruz and Chris Exciminiano added 12 points each for Alaska, which climbed to third place with a 3-2 card.The Aces shot 50 percent from the field including 13-of-30 from downtown while the Gin Kings had a hard time scoring, hitting just 36 percent of their attempts and making only 6-of-25 from long range. Trump campaign, GOP groups attack Google’s new ad policy
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino refused to blame the club’s Wembley hoodoo for their 2-1 Premier League defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.Spurs had hoped to mark a new era at their temporary home by turning it into the sort of fortress they had constructed at White Hart Lane, where they last lost a league game in May 2015.Instead they extended the poor form that always dogged them at the national stadium where they have won just two of their past 11 games, a record far inferior to Chelsea who have now won nine in 11.Pochettino, though, said he was “only disappointed and not frustrated or upset by the defeat” in a game which Spurs dominated.”The Wembley effect is not the reason we lost the game,” he said.”It is not fair to blame a stadium that is one of the best places to play football in the world.”Pochettino batted away suggestions that his players were affected by the size of the pitch, which is eight percent bigger than their old home which is being replaced by a new, 61,000-seater stadium due to open for the 2018-2019 season.”If you love football you know that Wembley is not the problem. We didn’t lose because of the pitch but because they were more clinical in front of goal than us,” Pochettino said.”What is more important was the performance which I am happy with.”On another day, Harry Kane would have buried any number of the chances he spurned on Sunday and Christian Eriksen also went close. But, for all their effort and possession, Spurs could not break down a battling Chelsea side.advertisement”Chelsea set out to contain us and I am happy to lose in that way,” Pochettino said.
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Apr 7, 2010 10:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Learn how companies are using inbound marketing techniques to generate higher volume and lower cost leads and customers. Download the Free Webinar Now Email Marketing The following is a guest post from Amy Garland, marketing manager at Blue Sky Factory . Social media is on the minds of marketers everywhere. With its increasing popularity, marketers are thinking, “We need to be on Twitter ! Let’s create a Facebook fan page ! Crank out the viral videos! ” Unfortunately, this often has no strategy behind it , and organizations are flying blind on the social web . While social media isn’t “killing” email like some people seem to think, it is causing email marketing to be ignored. Email marketing is the digital glue that holds the social web together . It’s the currency of all accounts, the only common denominator of all social networking sites. You can’t sign up for an account on a social media site without an email address, and each one has an email component (e.g. you receive Facebook friend and LinkedIn connection requests through email). U nfortunately, many marketers are forgetting about email marketing as a key component to online marketing and new media. So why should you, as a marketer, care about email? I’ll let the following numbers speak for themselves. Email marketing returned $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009, and is expected to return $42.08 for every dollar spent on it in 2010. (Direct Marketing Association) 89% of retailers cited email is the most mentioned successful tactic overall. ( Forrester Research and Shop.org ’s Retailing Online 2009: Marketing Report ) 67% of subscribers say they’ve purchased products offline as a direct result of receiving an email from a retail company. ( Epsilon – 2009 Report ) Th e se are some convincing numbers, but what exactly is it about email marketing that provides such a high ROI and positive response from subscribers? It’s permission-based. Well, it should be permission-based. ( On a recent webinar , I heard Mike Volpe , vice president of marketing for HubSpot , say email marketing is like the phone; it can be used for good or evil. This statement is s ad, but often true.) If you grow your list organically and subscribers have given you explicit consent to communicate with them via email , then you have an audience that is asking for information from you . (Sounds like a little something called inbound marketing, huh?) If your subscribers have asked to receive your emails, then they’re much more likely to open, click -through, and share your emails, ultimately resulting in a higher ROI. It’s subscriber-driven. One of the best things about email marketing is that your subscribers tell you what they want from you, how often the y want it, and in what form (e.g . newsletter, product promotions, or upcoming webinar notifications). This information can be collected at the opt-in, through subscriber preferences, or with a periodic survey sent to your email recipients. By being able to choose how they receive your information, subscriber s are more likely to engage with your emails . Engagement in itself gives feedback with each send. By using your email platform’s reporting tools, you know how your campaign performs by looking at metrics including opens, click-throughs, conversions , and even unsubscribe rates . It’s easy. Yes, folks, email marketing is easy. They key to email marketing is sending timely, targeted, valuable emails to subscribers who have asked for them. It’s not difficult to provide your audience with relevant emails based on their preferences, past purchases, activity, etc. Segmenting your database and taking a few extra steps to do this will drive more subscriber engagement and more purchases. Now don’t get the wrong idea here. I’m not saying you should solely focus on email and ignore social media. These two channels can and should be used together, not only with tools like Share with Your Network (SWYN), but also by repurposing the content, cross-promoting the channels, and cross-pollinating your audience. More on this in a future blog post, but for now, I’ll leave the email and social media topic with these statistics: 75% of daily social media users said email is the best way for companies to communicate with them, compared to 65% of all email users. ( MarketingSherpa – 2010) 49% of Twitter users said they made an online purchase because of an email, compared to 33% of all email users. ( MarketingSherpa – 2010) Email and social media are like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, milk and cookies , the list goes on. They are simply better together . Take a step back and think about your online marketing strategy and campaigns. Are you using email marketing to its full potential? If not, how can you better use this channel to engage your audience? Amy Garland is the marketing manager at Blue Sky Factory , a Baltimore-based email service provider. Follow Amy on Twitter: @amygarland . On-Demand Webinar: The State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Topics:
Originally published May 3, 2012 1:40:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 We’ve touted landing pages as one of the most crucial parts of your marketing (next to content creation, of course) for some time. But there’s something that comes after the landing page that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the marketing blogosphere … that moment after a lead converts, and you say “thank you.”You do say thank you, right? Usually it comes in the form of a thank-you page that appears after a lead fills out your form, a thank-you email that goes into their inbox, or both. And there are plenty of opportunities to keep your prospect engaged with your website, content, and brand even after the conversion event. This post will break out those ways so both you and your prospect can keep reaping the benefits of your relationship!8 Ways Your Thank-You Page and Emails Can Keep Prospects Engaged1) Include Social Media Follow ModulesOne of the simplest ways to keep the conversation going with your recently converted prospects is by encouraging them to follow your social media presence. This provides an opportunity not only to expand your social reach, but also to reconvert those leads in the future as they consume your status updates with links to your other lead generation content and offers. And remember, social media follow buttons can easily be included in both your thank-you emails, and your thank-you pages — that’s double the opportunity!2) Let Leads Share Your Offer Socially, and Via EmailYour social media opportunities don’t end with follow buttons — you can include social sharing buttons, too. You know, those buttons you see to the left of this blog post that let you tweet, +1, LinkedIn share, Facebook like, and even sometimes pin our content.In fact, Econsultancy reports that emails with social sharing options generate 30% higher click-through rates — and that click-through rate increases to 55% higher with 3 or more social sharing options. Just be careful with what exactly you are letting people share. When setting these buttons up (we have a handy guide to help you create social sharing buttons) you want to include a link to share the offer’s landing page, not the thank-you page … otherwise you won’t generate any leads from your prospects’ social shares!3) Get New Blog SubscribersYour business blog houses some of your best content, and it’s all form-free! Leverage that content warehouse by inviting your prospects to subscribe to the blog with a simple RSS button like you see on the right. You could even include a few sentences explaining what your blog talks about to make the case for the subscription, and include a link to a blog post relevant to the subject matter of the offer prospects just redeemed. For example, if your prospects just downloaded a unicorn beauty supplies buyer’s guide, perhaps they’d also be interested to read your blog post, “8 Creative Ways to Braid Your Unicorn’s Tail.” It behooves you to grow your blog subscriber list, because it generates repeat traffic to your blog that can continue to reconvert on the calls-to-action in each post — and you are putting calls-to-action in each blog post, right? ;-)4) Bring Back Your NavigationYou know how we told you to remove the navigation on your landing page, because it distracts visitors from completing your form? That rule does not apply on your thank-you page! You want your visitor to continue exploring the content on your site! Just look at all the opportunities:Think about it … this visitor just showed enough interest in you to redeem your offer. It’s kind of like buyer’s euphoria — capitalize on that feeling to direct them to case studies, information about your company, your product and pages, and the like.The only exception to this rule, however, would be if you’re explicitly trying to use your thank-you page to reconvert your lead on another offer, which leads us to our next opportunity.5) Reconvert Using a New Call-to-Action (CTA)There are two opportunities to reconvert your leads on your thank-you page. First, hyperlink text within your thank-you page copy directing your lead to your offer, like you see here with the blue hyperlinked text, “See how you can track that in a free demo of the HubSpot software.”Then, you can supplement your text-based CTA with a larger, more eye-catching CTA elsewhere on the page, like you see in our example here from our Pinterest ebook’s thank-you page.Again, your leads are pretty excited about your content and your company — they just filled out a form to redeem your offer! Use this opportunity to reconvert them on an offer that might be of interest to them based on the offer they just downloaded and their stage in the buying cycle. To continue our unicorn beauty supplies buyers guide example, one might infer that someone downloading a buyer’s guide is pretty far down the sales funnel. Your next conversion offer, then, might be a free sample of unicorn shampoo or a free consultation with a unicorn stylist!6) Show Them a Video (With Calls-to-Action)Your thank-you page affords an opportunity for you to highlight some of your most important content — ebooks, case studies, blog posts, and yes, videos. At HubSpot, for example, we want all of our leads to understand who we are and what we do — we are a company that sells inbound marketing software! Which is why we created this handy dandy video and put it on our thank-you pages … not-so-coincidentally, where all of our leads end up at some point. Landing Pages Topics: Notice that orange callout in the top right corner of the video? Leads can share the video socially and via email, or if they click “More Info,” the second screen you see above will appear. That’s another call-to-action to subscribe to our YouTube channel. That’s two layers of opportunity to continue engaging with your prospects!7) Conduct a SurveyYou know how I mentioned we at HubSpot want to make sure all of our leads know we sell inbound marketing software? On some of our thank-you pages, we use the real estate for a survey to ask leads that very question … do you know what we sell?The survey results help our product marketing team gauge the effectiveness of their messaging efforts. You can also use a survey to ask for feedback about your product or services, see how your leads like your content, ask for suggestions on new content to develop — the sky is the limit!8) Show Off Your Customer LoveCase studies, testimonials, reviews, and other user-generated content are critical to convert prospects into paying customers — especially if your customer base is made up of Millennials.Data from Bazaarvoice indicates that more than 8 in 10 say user-generated content from people they don’t know influences what they buy and indicates brand quality. So at the point someone becomes a lead for the first time or reconverts — you know, right after they fill out your landing page form — don’t you think it’s a great opportunity to remind them why people love you so they are more likely to become a customer? If you’re using your thank-you page or emails primarily to reconvert a prospect, this is a particularly valuable piece of content to include alongside your calls-to-action.What other content do you like to include on thank-you pages to provide more opportunities for engagement with your prospects?Image credit: Jon Ashcroft Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
“It is, once again, an honor to be in a room with such an illustrious group of high-functioning nerds.”That’s how comedian and former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver kicked off The Crunchies, the annual awards show hosted by TechCrunch, GigaOm, and VentureBeat.If you’ve never attended or heard of the event, Oliver describes it as a time every year that the tech industry can “get together to celebrate and quietly criticize one another.””It’s like the Nobel Prizes being given out,” Oliver snarked (he quickly picked up on the industry’s general trend toward snark). “If Nobel Prizes were given out in an atmosphere of high school bitchiness.”Some highlights of the video are below, but fair warning for anyone who watches it in full — it’s not well suited for sensitive ears. Marketing Trends Topics: Originally published Feb 12, 2014 11:08:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack With quips about Spider-Man, NSA spying, and Larry Ellison, Oliver hit on some of the industry’s high and really, really low notes this year with typical incisiveness. Here are some highlights:”If Martin Scorcese was to do a modern-day version of The Wolf of Wall Street, it wouldn’t take place in New York, it would take place on the West Coast. And it would have all the money, all the opulence, and about 10% of the sex.””The award this year for creepiest marketing idea goes to Uber … for their kitten-delivering scheme. Delivering kittens for 15-minute cuddles seems like a cute idea until you think about the practicality of that concept. Never has a marketing idea potentially ended with more dead kittens at the end of it.””Cheating during a yacht race is cartoon villainy at its finest. He [Ellison] should have a handlebar mustache and a surgically attached monocle.”Oliver’s keen wit was a refreshing reminder that while the industry does some cool things, we’d be wise to keep things in perspective — and laugh at ourselves once in a while, as good roasts make you do. And if these things hit close to home with you (a few did with us here), then hey, cool, you’re a tech industry insider.