By Jessica Vionas-Singer

Inbound-Performance-Template-Screenshot

HubSpot COS templates can literally save marketers hundreds of hours developing a website from scratch and/or thousands of dollars paying someone else to do it for them. But choosing the right template is vital to obtaining success with your new website. Here are five things to consider as you scope out templates on the marketplace and how they can make or break your marketing:

1. The Template Has to Resonate with Your Personas

We talk about personas all the time here at SmartBug. Why? Because they should be driving all of your efforts as an inbound marketer – every piece of content you put out, every tactic you consider, every tweak to your product.

Your website (and blog and landing pages) is the “storefront” your visitors first see. The template you choose has to resonate with your personas in order to be effective at generating inbound leads.

For example, my boyfriend is currently lusting after a new Ducati. He’s probably a near-perfect fit for their persona – mid-30s, loves motorcycles (already has 2 of them), and is part of a DINK. Here is a screenshot of their homepage:

 Ducati-screenshot

 

Contrast that with myself who is also a 30-something DINK who could care less about vehicles but who tends to think of my dog as family and can’t resist anything pet-related. Check out BarkPost’s home page:

Barkpost-screenshot

 

Very different target audiences. Very different home pages.

Most templates on the HubSpot COS template can be tailored to your personas using content and images, but make sure you can customize everything you need to customize (fonts, background images, full width versus fixed width, etc.) in order to appeal perfectly to your personas. 

2. The Template Has to Look Great Everywhere

With the release of “Mobilegeddon,” (Google’s algorithm update in April 2015 which prioritizes mobile sites when users are searching using a mobile device), having a responsive website became even more important. Some sources report that mobile devices currently make up 29% of total searches. Ignoring 1/3 of your audience is not a luxury many of us can afford.

While all of the templates on the HubSpot COS marketplace are responsive to different devices, some templates may not be as optimized for mobile as you need them to be. Check out the reviews as well as the live preview (if one is available) on your phone prior to purchasing, like this savvy marketer:

“I took a look at your template on my iPhone and it doesn't completely display correctly. I like this template, but need one that will work for a variety of mobile devices.” (source)

3. The Template Package Has to Come with the Different Pages You Want

Unless you are buying just one landing page, you are going to need multiple types of pages for a website redesign. Some of these may include a home page, internal pages, blog pages, landing pages, simple landing pages, and more. If you aren’t a certified COS-developer (in which case, why are you buying a template?), make sure the template package you are buying includes the different types of pages you need so that you aren’t stuck using the same layout over and over again or struggling to make sense of the Designer Tool (while letting timelines slip). 

4. The Template Has to Include Sections for Smart Content

Website personalization allows marketers to present content based on what will appeal most to the audience. Examples of how to do this may include offering content based on lifecycle stages (how far along someone is in the buyer’s process), based on personas, based on country, and more.

In the image from HubSpot below, you can see an example of what strangers would see (on the left) versus customers (on the right):

HubSpot-personalization-example-screenshot

However, to utilize this functionality in HubSpot, the template has to include rich-text modules where you want personalization to occur. The most common place this is overlooked is in headers, which also have to be rich-text modules, so be sure to check!

5. The Developer Has to Be Accessible

No template will include everything you need for your new website and be exactly perfect. Sometimes a module will need to be swapped out or the CSS structure modified. Prior to buying a template, make sure to read the reviews and see how responsive the developer is to questions and modifications. Ideally, you’ll want to see comments like this:

“Purchased the Inbound Performance template pack and was able to customize it to our needs. Template was easy to set up and looks great! Their team has been awesome at answering my questions and helping me fix some bugs I thought I had found with their template. (Turns out it was our old website that had the bugs and not their template). I'm no where near being a web design guru/master but their template made it easy for me to set up a professional looking website that would have cost thousands to have professionally built. These guys rock!” (source)


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Marketing is an awesome blend of creativity, tenacity, skill, and luck. Get your new website started off on the right foot by choosing the right template today!

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Jessica Vionas-Singer

About the author

Jessica Vionas-Singer is a Marketing Strategist at SmartBug Media where she leads the strategy behind inbound and content marketing activities to help a portfolio of clients exceed their sales and marketing goals. She fell in love with marketing at her first job at a technology company specializing in credit evaluation software. Prior to joining SmartBug, Jessica was the Director of Marketing at a B2B company that built software for analyzing genetics. Her background includes nearly 20 years of marketing experience in content creation and lead-driving tactics, online presence and blog creation, social media engagement, budgeting and project plans, webinar and trade show event management, public relations, comprehensive promotional campaigns, and analytics. Jessica has a BS in Sociology from Montana State University – Bozeman. Read more articles by Jessica Vionas-Singer.

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