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16 Free Project Management Software Options to Keep Your Team On Track

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16 Free Project Management Software Options to Keep Your Team On Track

92% of U.S. workers feel that they could collaborate better with their colleagues.

Managing multiple projects at once, delegating tasks, and collaborating across teams is difficult on a good day — but can become downright impossible when unforeseen obstacles get in the way. The data proves that project management is no walk in the park for most of us.

When that impacts the business, it becomes an even bigger problem. Miscommunication and inefficiencies in your project management process can lead to confusing and stressful experiences for your employees. It can hinder your company’s ability to satisfy your clients’ needs or hit end-of-year goals.

Fortunately, there are plenty of free project management apps to keep your team on track without breaking the bank.

Download Now: Free Project Management Template

In a free project management tool, you’ll typically be able to create various projects, come-up with to-do lists, assign tasks to team members, and track a project’s progress until completion. Paid project management tools offer more storage, more projects, and more seats for the team. But for small teams, a free project management tool will do the trick.

The low buy-in makes it a natural choice. With free project management software, your team can collaborate much better, reducing the risk of miscommunications and keeping everyone up to speed on team-wide projects. It’s also helpful for individual team members. They can use it to boost their productivity and ensure they’re on track.

To streamline your process and ensure everyone on your team is on the same page, take a look at these exceptional free project management tools.

1. Project.co

Project.co Free Project Management Software

Project.co is a client-facing project management system that connects your team with your clients’ teams in one place. Each piece of work you do can be set up as its own project, with its own discussion feed, notes, tasks, team, and payments. You can also record time spent on each project.

A variety of different task and project views are available, including calendar, scheduler, and Kanban view — to give you an overview of the work that’s happening within your team.

Features include:

  • Ability to quickly add/invite both internal and external users
  • Discussion feed for each project — with email alerts (and the ability to reply by email without logging in)
  • Variety of task views — which can be filtered — giving your whole team, each department, and even individual users their daily/weekly task lists
  • Reporting tools that measure your most and least profitable or efficient projects
  • Ability to integrate payment solutions and quickly, securely take card payments through the system

Pricing: Free for 14 days; $10/user/month

2. Wrike

Project management software by Wrike

Wrike stands out as an exceptional project management tool for teams who want the option to customize workflows and edit and revise projects from within the platform itself. The tool offers the ability to color code and layer calendars, and its mobile app allows colleagues to update project information on-the-go. You can add comments to sections, videos, or documents, and create custom fields to export data most relevant to your company.

Features include:

  • Security measures to ensure only authorized personnel can access information
  • Activity Stream to allow project managers to micromanage small tasks, see activities in chronological order, and tag team members
  • The option to unfollow activities to declutter your own personal Stream
  • Email and calendar synchronization
  • Built-in editing and approval features

Pricing: Free; $9.80/user/month (Professional); $24.80/user/month (Business); Custom (Enterprise)

3. Toggl Plan

Project management software by Toggl Plan

Toggl Plan is an effective project management tool to automate your task delegation process and visualize which project tasks have been completed, and which haven’t. If your team often collaborates with other departments on projects, this might be a useful tool for you.

Features include:

  • Gantt-chart visualization to track important deadlines and projects
  • Integrations with Slack, Github, Evernote, and others
  • Team collaboration option through shared calendars and task notes

Pricing: Free for 14 days; $8/user/month (Team); $13.35/user/month (Business)

4. ClickUp

Project management software by ClickUp

Image Source

ClickUp provides a few impressive features to customize the all-in-one project management tool to suit your team members, including the option for each user to choose one of three different ways to view their projects and tasks depending on individual preference. If your marketing team overlaps with sales, design, or development, this is an effective solution, as it provides features for all of those four teams.

Features include:

  • Integrates with HubSpot (May require a paid account)
  • The ability to organize your projects based on priority, and assign tasks to groups
  • The option to set goals to remind teams what they’re aiming to accomplish
  • Google Calendar two-way sync
  • An easy way to filter, search, sort, and customize options for managing specific tasks
  • Activity stream with mentions capability
  • Image mockups
  • 57 integrated apps

Pricing: Free; $5/user/month

5. nTask

Project management software task board by nTask

Another free software that comes with a variety of features for project and task managers is nTask. This program has a couple of free-range tools for anyone looking to work as an individual or a professional project manager.

nTask supports multiple projects and task creation. Users can also define team leader roles, budget, milestone and time tracking criteria that are specific to relevant projects. Understanding the needs of advanced project managers, nTask also offers an interactive Gantt chart feature. It can be personalized by a simple drag and drop mechanism to align the project to ongoing real-life changes.

Features include:

  • A powerful in-app collaboration system
  • Integration with Slack and many other third-party apps
  • The ability to invite stakeholders to view ongoing projects
  • Resource management
  • Team management via an admin-controlled process
  • Multiple workspaces dedicated to different projects and tasks

Pricing: Free (Basic); $2.99/user/month (Premium); $7.99/user/month (Business); Custom (Enterprise)

6. Teamwork

Project management software by Teamwork Image Source

Teamwork is a project management software and collaboration platform that helps in-house and remote teams stay organized and productive. Each project lets you easily upload files, assign tasks and deadlines, and chat with teammates. By centralizing your project information, you can help eliminate more misunderstandings and missed deadlines.

Features include:

  • Easy integration with HubSpot (May require a paid account)
  • Teamwork Chat Instant Messenger to help you stay in your workflow and be most productive
  • Time tracking to understand capacity and where a team spends their time
  • Dashboards, Substasks, and Milestones to help track progress of projects

Pricing: Free; $10/user/month (Deliver); $18/user/month (Grow); Custom (Enterprise

7. Freedcamp

Project management software by Freedcamp

Image Source

Freedcamp is a feature-rich project management tool that’s designed for personal and professional use. Each project has its own tasks, milestones, files, discussions, and timelines, as well as an issue tracker and calendar. The dashboard gives you a clear, concise overview of what’s going on in your team, including activity, projects, and tasks.

Features include:

  • Message-board discussion feed, with the ability to create and carry out discussions on any topic
  • Powerful calendar view that lays out all upcoming events
  • Third-party integrations including Google Drive, Google Calendar, Dropbox and more

Pricing: Free; $1.49/user/month (MInimalist); $7.49/user/month (Business); $16.99/user/month (Enterprise)

8. Asana

Project management software by Asana

Asana, one of the most well-known project management solutions, has a clean and user-friendly interface. The all-in-one tool lets you create boards to visualize which stage your project is in, and use reporting to keep track of finished tasks and tasks that need your attention.

Features include:

  • The ability to create templates to automate mundane tasks
  • The ability to collaborate and share information across the team, privately and securely
  • The option to set security controls and designate admins
  • Over 100 integrations for a more efficient start-to-finish process
  • The ability to create custom project fields, share documents, and filter tasks
  • HubSpot integration for seamless syncing of workflows and contact activity

Pricing: Free (Basic); $10.99/user/month (Premium); $24.99/user/month (Business); Custom (Enterprise)

9. Monday.com

Project management software by Monday.com

Monday.com, a project management tool that also offers HR and IT tools, allows you to create team member status updates so your remote and flexible teams know their coworkers’ schedules. It allows you to easily access project updates at-a-glance so that nothing falls between the cracks.

Features include:

  • Customizable workflows to prioritize your team’s needs and take care of menial tasks
  • Gantt chart for visualizing due dates and project timelines
  • Integrations with popular tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Calendar
  • Team member status updates for remote or flexible team members
  • HubSpot integration so that everyone can collaborate on contact and deal management (May require a paid plan)

Pricing: Free for 14 days; $8/user/month (Basic); $10/user/month (Standard); $16/user/month (Pro); Custom (Enterprise)

10. Paymo

Project management software by Paymo

Paymo’s free version only allows access for one user, but if you’ve got a small team or you’re a freelancer, this could be an efficient option for tracking billable hours and invoicing clients. Along with tracking finances, Paymo also allows you to organize project timelines, create to-do lists, and stay on top of your budgets for multiple projects at once.

Features include:

  • Kanban boards for easy, at-a-glance project updates
  • Time tracking to keep everyone on the same schedule
  • File sharing and Adobe CC extension for easy sharing of assets
  • Timesheet reporting to keep stakeholders in the loop
  • Project templates to jumpstart projects with a click

Pricing: Free; $9.95/user/month (Small Office); $15.79/user/month (Business)

11. Trello

Project management software by Trello

Trello is a drag-and-drop tool that lets you move projects — personal, or professional — through workflow stages, all the way to completion.

You define what those stages are — whether it’s work project statuses like ‘On Hold,’ or personal project categories like ‘Things to buy!’ — with tasks represented as ‘cards.’ Each card can be given a name, assigned to an individual, given a due date — and have files, such as images, attached to it.

Features include:

  • Templates for a range of different project types, from business to education to personal productivity
  • Ability to add attachments such as images to any card on any board
  • Customise your workflow stages to reflect your actual process
  • Simple drag-and-drop movement of cards through workflow stages
  • HubSpot integration for syncing marketing, sales, and service workflows into to-do lists (May require a paid plan)

Pricing: Free; $10/user/month; Custom (Enterprise)

12. Todoist

Project management software by Todoist

Todoist is a simple but powerful tool that lets you create powerful, interactive to-do lists. To-do items can be assigned priority levels, assigned to people in your team and flagged — with customizable reminders (although these are a premium feature). Actionable items can also be categorised into different projects, making a simple, easily understandable structure where each ‘list’ has a title (project name) and a series of actions. This all makes it an extremely flexible, customizable tool to get work done.

Features include:

  • Template lists to inspire and guide you
  • Recurring due dates for regularly recurring tasks
  • Productivity visualizations and ‘Karma’ points for completed tasks and streaks
  • Labels, notification and discussion feeds to keep you organized
  • Integrates with HubSpot (May require a paid account)

Pricing: Free; $3/user/month (Pro); $5/user/month (Business)

13. MeisterTask

Project management software by MeisterTask

Image Source

MeisterTask is a project management tool that allows you to create Kanban boards, set recurring tasks, track project times, and create custom fields. You can automatically import data from other tools such as Trello and Asana, allowing you to get immediately to work without losing time.

Features include:

  • Up to 3 projects on the free version
  • File attachments for projects
  • Custom project icons to make tasks stand out
  • Time tracking so that no deadlines fall through the cracks

Pricing: Free; $8.25/user/month (Pro); $20.75/user/month (Business); Custom (Enterprise)

14. Bitrix24

Project management software by Bitrix24Britrix24’s project management software includes Kanban boards, Gantt charts, task counters for easy prioritization, and reports for analyzing the time intensiveness of different tasks. You can also create to-do lists within tasks.

Features include:

  • Recurring tasks for easy task creation and automation
  • Integration with Billable Hours, which is especially useful if you work with freelancers
  • Task statuses to easily keep track of progress
  • Monthly reports on time spent on tasks

Pricing: Free; $19/month (Start+); $55/month (CRM+ and Project+); $79/month (Standard Business Plan); $159/month (Professional Business Plan)

15. Airtable

Project management tool by AirtableAirtable is a customizable spreadsheet and database app that can be used to create a project management tool for your team. Its project tracker template allows you to easily manage projects in a familiar spreadsheet-like environment, making it ideal for Excel and Google Sheets enthusiasts.

Features include:

  • Subtask creation within tasks
  • Ability to assign tasks and establish time estimates
  • Additional templates for keeping remote teams aligned, such as a team hub and asset tracker
  • Highly customizable for different teams
  • Integration with popular tools such as HubSpot, Asana, Dropbox, Google Workspace, and Slack

Pricing: Free; $10/user/month (Plus); $20/user/month (Pro); Custom (Enterprise)

16. ProofHub

proofhub

ProofHub is a project management and team collaboration software that allows project managers to maintain complete control over their tasks, teams, projects, and communication. Managers can assign tasks and deadlines to team members and easily maneuver between simple to-do lists and agile kanban boards that are customizable.

ProofHub has a notes feature and a dedicated discussions section to store your important information and carry out real-time conversations with your team members. Get real-time notifications whenever someone makes an update to a ticket.

Features include:

  • Online proofing tool to review files and annotate design files using markup tools
  • In-built chat application to connect with team members
  • Various project views including Kanban boards, Table View, and robust Gantt charts
  • Time tracker and timesheets to keep track of your team’s timelines
  • Project reports with a detailed overview of overall project progress
  • Me-view and an activity tracker to keep track of your tasks and team activities
  • Project calendar with events, milestones, and deadlines

Pricing: $45/month (Essential), $89/month (Ultimate Control)

Project Management in HubSpot

If you’re a HubSpot user, you may already have what you need to manage your teams and to-do’s.

For example, our free CRM includes task management software that Sales and Service teams can use to track, manage, and report on ongoing activities.

Features include:

  • A personalized dashboard with an overview of tasks, meetings, and contacts.
  • Sync your calendar and contacts within your CRM.
  • Add new tasks right from your to-do list, email inbox, or workflows.
  • View insights on activity progress– including metrics like calls made, deals created, and activities completed.

HubSpot's task management toolGet Started with the Task Management Tool

Marketers with Marketing Hub Professional or above can use the Campaigns tool to do similar management geared toward marketing tasks. You can create tasks, share comments, and track your work in a calendar view. The tool can be used to manage your campaigns, ads, events, and other customizable projects all from one place.

It can also help align your Sales and Marketing teams by giving both access to real-time reporting on campaign performance.

Lastly, many of your favorite project management tools can integrate with a CRM like HubSpot. (Depending on the tool, this may require a paid account.) This can supercharge your Sales, Service, and Marketing teams by automatically connecting your customer data to your projects and tasks.

Some ways that HubSpot users do this include:

  • Automatically creating new tasks or events out of form submissions
  • Generating follow-up reminders after live events
  • Handing off projects between teams based on deal stage

Streamline Workflows with a Project Management Tool

Using a project management app will empower your team to work more efficiently and collaborate more seamlessly. With hurdles out of the way, you can guarantee that your team can focus on what matters: bringing in more leads, selling to more prospects, and empowering more customers to grow alongside your business.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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How to Buy Ads on Netflix: Specs & Tactics for Marketers

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How to Buy Ads on Netflix: Specs & Tactics for Marketers

Streaming


By Emily Sullivan

Netflix, the streaming giant known for binge-watching and award-winning originals, sent shockwaves through the industry in 2022 by announcing an ad-supported tier. This move was likely fueled by a desire to reach new audiences, combat rising subscription costs, and potentially even fend off competition from other OTT platforms. These ads could lead to strong growth potential with advertisers eager to tap into Netflix’s massive user base. 

If you’re unfamiliar with how Netflix works, it’s important to know that Netflix is an OTT (Over-the-Top) platform, meaning it delivers streaming content directly over the internet, bypassing traditional cable or satellite providers. It’s one of the most popular OTT platforms globally, but in the ad supported video on demand (AVOD) space, Netflix is a relative newcomer. Understanding this new facet of Netflix is crucial for marketers looking to capitalize on this advertising opportunity.

Interested in learning more about Netflix and its advertising offerings? You came to the right place. In this post, we’ll cover the foundational elements of Netflix ads including ad types, specs, advertising best practices, and more. 

Why Did Netflix Start Offering Ads?

In November 2022, Netflix introduced an ad-supported tier. This move marked a significant shift, as Netflix was previously known for its commitment to an ad-free experience. The decision likely stemmed from a desire to tap into new revenue streams. With consumers increasingly cost-conscious, an ad-supported tier provided a way to attract budget-minded viewers while still offering a premium ad-free option, similar to established AVOD providers like Hulu and Peacock.

Initially, the launch was off to a slower start, with few people signing up for the ad supported tier and Netflix failing to meet guarantees, but things are quickly turning around and savvy advertisers are taking notice. Netflix boasts a massive user base, with roughly 270 million paid subscribers – a household name with immense reach. In fact, 40% of new Netflix sign-ups are choosing the ad-supported tier, translating to a total of 40 million users. Netflix’s ad platform presents a unique opportunity for marketers looking to reach a large and engaged audience.

“Our goal isn’t just to offer the same products and tools the industry has come to expect — although we’ve made a lot of progress on that front over the last year. It’s to build something bigger and better than what exists today. We want to shape the future of advertising on Netflix and help marketers tap into the amazing fandom generated by our must-watch shows and movies.”

Amy ReinhardPresident, Advertising at Netflix

How to Start Advertising on Netflix

So, you’re interested in capitalizing on Netflix’s massive audience? Here’s a breakdown of the three main ways to buy ads on their platform:

1. Netflix Ads Manager

This platform, powered by Microsoft, allows you to directly purchase ad space on Netflix. However, be prepared to meet their minimum spending requirements, which can be substantial and offer little room for negotiation.

2. Partnering with an Agency

While the minimum spend might be high for direct buys, streaming agencies like Tinuiti can be a valuable asset. They can not only help you navigate the intricacies of Netflix advertising, but also:

  • Consolidate Streaming Data: The streaming landscape is fragmented, with viewers spread across multiple platforms. Agencies can collect data from these various platforms and turn it into a unified, actionable strategy for your advertising campaign.
  • Expertise and Negotiation: Agencies bring a wealth of experience to the table. They can leverage their knowledge of the advertising landscape and potentially negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf.

3. Ad Tech Partners

Companies like Microsoft offer ad tech solutions that provide technical capabilities to streamline your advertising efforts. These partners typically take a more hands-off approach compared to agencies, focusing on the technical aspects of ad delivery and optimization.

The best option depends on your budget, experience level, and campaign goals. If you’re a large brand with a significant budget and an in-house marketing team, going directly through Netflix Ads Manager might be a good fit. However, for most businesses, partnering with an agency or ad tech provider can offer valuable support and expertise.

Ad Types & Specs for Netflix Ads

Now that you understand the different avenues for buying ads on Netflix, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of ad formats and specifications:

Netflix Ad Types

Example of a Netflix Ad Featuring Smartfood and Love is Blind

Currently, Netflix offers two main ad types, pre-roll ads and mid-roll ads. Netflix notes that users can expect to see a few short ads per hour and that they aim to place ads during natural plot breaks for a more seamless experience.   

Let’s take a look at each option… 

  • Pre-roll Ads: These commercials play before a program or movie begins, similar to traditional linear TV advertising.
  • Mid-roll Ads: These ads appear in the middle of a program, typically inserted during natural breaks in the content.

During paused playback, ad breaks are displayed on the progress bar. As an ad break begins, the upper-right corner reveals the number of ads included in that break.

While Netflix advertising is fairly new, the platform has made a few important announcements to look out for in 2024. Netflix plans to introduce a new binge ad format for global advertisers, offering viewers an ad-free fourth episode after watching three consecutive episodes. Additionally, QR code integration in U.S. advertising will launch early in the year. Sponsorship opportunities, including Title, Moment, and Live Sponsorships, are also now available in the U.S. and will expand globally in 2024.

Netflix also offers live opportunities including WWE Raw (launching January 2025), which will air live on Netflix 52 weeks of the year, and the NFL Christmas games which Netflix just secured the rights to. These live events provide advertisers the opportunity to reach ad and ad-free members of Netflix in a live environment with traditional ad formats.

Last but not least, Netflix recently announced they are adding Pause Ads to their suite of custom ad units. This is currently in beta and is expected to be rolled out to the general marketplace in H2 2024.

Netflix Ad Specs

When it comes to advertising specs, it’s important to follow Netflix’s guidelines which include the following… 

  • Supported Lengths: Netflix accepts ads in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 60-second durations.
  • File Format: Ads must be submitted in MP4 or MOV format.
  • Aspect Ratio & Resolution: Maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of either 1920×1080 HD or 1280×720 HD.
  • QR Codes on the Horizon: Netflix is preparing to support QR code integration within commercials, allowing viewers to seamlessly access additional information or promotions.

Hot Tip: Stay tuned for updates, as Netflix is constantly evolving its ad platform.

Why Advertise on Netflix?

Advertising on Netflix offers several unique advantages for advertisers including… 

  • Massive Reach – Netflix boasts a massive subscriber base worldwide (globally, there were around 270 million Netflix subscribers in Q1 2024), providing advertisers with access to a vast and diverse audience. These viewers are often highly engaged, spending significant time on the platform consuming content. In fact, Over 70% of Netflix’s ad-supported members watch for more than 10 hours a month – which is 15 percentage points higher than the nearest competitor according to Nielsen.
  • Targeting – Netflix collects extensive data on user preferences and behavior, enabling precise targeting of advertisements based on demographics, interests, viewing history, and more. This targeted approach increases the relevance and effectiveness of ads, maximizing ROI for advertisers (more on this below).
  • Global Reach and Localization – With a presence in numerous countries around the world, Netflix offers advertisers the opportunity to reach audiences on a global scale. Additionally, the platform’s localization capabilities enable tailored advertising campaigns to resonate with specific regional or cultural audiences.
  • Unskippable Ads – Unlike some streaming advertising platforms, Netflix ads are unskippable, guaranteeing your message reaches viewers.
  • Positive User Experience – Netflix prioritizes a positive user experience, so it’s unlikely viewers will see the same ad twice in a single episode. However, there’s a chance you might encounter the same ad later during your viewing session. It’s also important to note that children’s profiles maintain their ad-free experience.
  • Ad Delivery & Blocking – Since ads are delivered server-side, ad blockers are ineffective on Netflix. Additionally, playback automatically pauses if you minimize the window while an ad is playing, ensuring your message is seen.

Best Practices When Advertising on Netflix

When advertising on Netflix, it’s essential to understand the platform’s unique capabilities and audience targeting options to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns. Check out a few best practices you need to consider… 

Explore Audience Targeting Capabilities

Netflix offers several audience targeting capabilities for advertisers on their ad-supported tier. These capabilities focus on three main areas: demographics, viewing habits, and content context. Here’s a breakdown:

Demographics:

  • Age: Advertisers can target users by age groups, like 18-34, 35+, etc.
  • Gender: Ads can be shown to specific genders (male or female).
  • Location: Targeting can be set by country or even state (in the U.S.).

Viewing Habits:

  • Genre: This lets advertisers target users based on the genres they watch, like comedy, drama, action, etc.

Content Context:

  • Top 10: Ads can be placed before or after shows and movies on Netflix’s daily Top 10 list, ensuring high visibility.

Advertisers also have the option to choose where they don’t want their ads to appear. For example, they can avoid showing ads on programs with mature themes or content that may not align with their brand values.

By using a combination of these targeting options, advertisers can reach a more precise audience interested in their product or service. This increases the ad’s relevance to viewers and potentially improves the ad campaign’s effectiveness.

It’s also important to note that Netflix now has the ability to target advertiser first party data. The platform currently has two approved DMPs: Liveramp or Adobe. Advertisers who work with either of these DMPs can upload first party data for targeting or suppression.

It’s important to note that Netflix’s ad targeting is still evolving. While it doesn’t offer some of the more advanced options found on other platforms, they are working on expanding their capabilities.

Test Your Ad Creative

Just like any other marketing campaign, testing your ad creative on Netflix is vital for optimizing performance. Here are some key reasons to test your ads:

  • Discover What Works: Testing allows you to compare different ad variations and identify which elements resonate most with your target audience. This could involve testing variations in messaging, visuals, calls to action, or even ad length.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Testing provides valuable data and insights. You can track metrics like click-through rates, completion rates, and brand recall to see which ad versions generate the best results. Don’t rely on guesswork. Testing helps you move beyond assumptions and identify what truly connects with viewers.
  • Meet Audience Expectations: Netflix viewers anticipate premium content, including ads. Testing ad creative ensures that your commercials meet these expectations by delivering high-quality, engaging content that resonates with the audience.
  • Optimize Performance: Testing allows you to refine your ad creative to achieve optimal performance. By experimenting with different elements such as messaging, visuals, and calls to action, you can identify the most effective combinations that drive engagement and conversion.
  • Enhance Relevance: Testing helps ensure that your ad creative remains relevant to your target audience. By continuously testing and refining your approach, you can adapt to changing consumer preferences and market trends, ensuring that your ads stay impactful and resonant.
  • Maximize ROI: Effective testing enables you to make data-driven decisions that maximize ROI. By identifying and scaling the best-performing ad creative, you can allocate your advertising budget more efficiently and achieve greater results.

Measure and Analyze Your Results

Netflix doesn’t offer 1:1 conversion measurement for ad buyers (yet) – but they do have brand awareness and lift studies they offer advertisers so keep this in mind when measuring and analyzing your results. 

The platform did recently announce that this summer, Netflix will expand its buying capabilities to include The Trade Desk, Google’s Display & Video 360, and Magnite who will join Microsoft as the main programmatic partners for advertisers.

Starting in the second half of 2024, Netflix just announced that the following third party measurement partners (partnering to measure and verify the impact of advertiser campaigns) will also be added: Affinity Solutions, iSpotTV, NCSolutions, Videoamp, DCM and TVision.

They also announced Netflix will launch an in-house advertising technology platform, by the end of 2025. This will give advertisers new ways to buy, new insights to leverage, and new ways to measure impact. 

Is Netflix Advertising Right For Your Brand?

Overall, Netflix advertising offers the unparalleled reach of a massive, highly-engaged audience. This can be a strategic choice for brands seeking broad awareness and brand association with premium content.

If you’re interested in exploring advertising opportunities on Netflix for your brand, consider reaching out to the Tinuiti team. Our expertise can provide guidance and assistance in navigating the complexities of advertising on the platform, maximizing your campaign’s effectiveness and ROI. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase your brand on one of the world’s largest streaming platforms—connect with Tinuiti today to get started.

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Xngage and HawkSearch join forces with a powerful connector

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Xngage and HawkSearch join forces with a powerful connector

The bar has been set by the industry leaders in UX and Merchandising, and our customers have stated their claim clearly – “to grow our market share, we must have an enterprise search experience that drives conversions.

Optimizely offers baseline search experiences within our commerce platform, which are designed to help companies get started with organizing and delivering SKUs to customers. These experiences utilize out-of-the-box algorithms and methods for sorting, categorizing, and customizing.

While Optimizely provides a foundation for search experiences, we knew there were users ready to take their search capabilities to the next level. This is where the Xngage and HawkSearch partnership promises to redefine how you approach search-driven experiences within Optimizely Configured Commerce. Our highly experienced partner Xngage has developed a seamless integration connector, a best-in-class accelerator for harnessing the power of HawkSearch.

The powerful partner in search

HawkSearch is known for its expertise in search-driven engagement, AI-powered product discovery, and no-code customizations. With a strong history of serving B2B customers with enterprise-level search solutions, it was a perfect choice to make HawkSearch directly available within Optimizely’s platform.

The expertise of Xngage made this connector a reality enabling Optimizely’s Configured Commerce customers to:

  • Easily plug directly into the HawkSearch service to share your products and their relevant data.
  • Utilize powerful unit of measure conversions, ensuring your customers can find exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Customize sorting and facets to deliver highly relevant results to customers.
  • Craft a personalized user experience with features like auto-complete and the new ‘instant engage’.

Customers can further explore HawkSearch’s capabilities in this on demand webinar and recap, which highlights the benefits and use cases of the Xngage connector for HawkSearch.

A powerful partner in digital growth

Xngage complements Optimizely perfectly, as they deliver robust solutions in the realm of digital content and commerce experiences. The development of the Xngage connector to HawkSearch is a part of their broader mission to empower manufacturers and distributors to serve their customers digitally. This alignment seamlessly fits with Optimizely, making our partnership with Xngage an ideal choice. 

Furthering their goal of digital growth, Xngage offers a range of holistic and complementary professional services, including:

  • User research & user experience design (UX)
  • Enterprise architecture & ERP integration
  • Product information management (PIM)
  • Ecommerce Implementations, and digital growth services.

To learn more about this highly experienced digital commerce partner visit Xngage.com.

The future of the partnership

This partnership is just the beginning. Xngage and HawkSearch are committed to working hand in hand to empower you with the tools and insights you need to elevate your ecommerce site. Stay tuned for future blogs, webinars, and resources that will help you make the most of this transformative alliance.

The future of ecommerce search has never looked more promising, and we’re excited to have you on this journey with us.

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