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- Dominick Sorrentino
5 Free Traffic Sources That Yield Big Results (Infographic)
When it comes to generating website traffic, paid sources can’t hold a candle to free sources.
- Dominick Sorrentino
5 of the Best Types of LinkedIn Content to Post (Infographic)
Check out the different types of LinkedIn content that can help boost your content marketing strategy.
- Dominick Sorrentino
10 of the Most Innovative Marketing Strategies (Infographic)
Is your marketing strategy lacking in innovation? Explore some of our favorite, innovative marketing strategies from top brands.
- Dan Haverty
What is SaaS Marketing? 2022 Tactical Guide
What is SaaS marketing? It’s focused on generating sales leads for cloud-based software solutions. Ace your SaaS marketing campaigns with our tactical guide.
- Alex Cox
7 Types of Graphics for Communicating With Your Audience (Infographic)
Popular types of graphics in content marketing include illustrations, infographics, motion graphics and print-ready materials, all of which help reinforce brand identity and visually communicate with audiences.
- Jeff Keleher
What Is a Subdomain and How Does It Impact SEO? (Infographic)
Learn the ins and outs of subdomains and how they can impact SEO, analytics and inbound marketing overall. Make your URL structure work for you.
- Amanda Ciarci
Emojis in Email Subject Lines: A Tactical Guide for 2022
Putting emojis in email subject lines is a simple way to intrigue your audience and get them excited to read more. Here’s how to get it right the first time.
- Alexander Santo
Basic Marketing Fundamentals: The 7 Ps of Marketing
Marketing encompasses the strategies and tactics brands use to promote their products and services to consumers.
- Jessica Barker
Brand Attributes: What They Are and How To Define Yours (Infographic)
Brand attributes are inherently and intentionally part of your brand. Here’s what this looks like in action.
- Amanda Ciarci
A Modern Guide to Marketing Information Management
What is marketing information management, and how can you construct a system to best manage all of your digital assets? Learn how in this guide.

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- Mekenna Wilson
How to Advertise on TikTok

Tell us you’re looking for new marketing strategies without telling us you’re looking for new marketing strategies. You just went first by navigating to this blog! Not sure what we’re talking about? Then you’re probably missing out on the huge marketing opportunity that is the TikTok app! Read below to discover how to advertise on TikTok.


At the beginning of 2021, TikTok had an impressive 689 million active users viewing over a billion videos each day and spending about 52 minutes on the app. Considering that the majority of users on this hit platform are under the age of 30 and represent 40% of online consumers, you can’t afford to miss out on the exposure and opportunity that TikTok presents.

So what is TikTok, exactly, and how can you use TikTok advertising to gain effective exposure for your brand? Let’s discuss it — because it may just be the key to success for your business.

gen z tiktok What Is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media app launched in 2018, centered on sharing videos of 60 seconds or less in duration. Anyone in the world can browse endless creative content or create a profile for posting dance videos, lip syncs, comedy sketches, fitness videos, makeup tutorials, recipes, or practically anything else. The only limit is the user’s creativity. 

Because the primary demographic that uses TikTok is Gen Z (people born between 1997 and 2012), companies that market here need to appeal to a younger audience or find a way to present their products or service offerings in an edgy, youthful, or comedic way. Inherently youthful brands that have succeeded in TikTok marketing are ones like Chipotle, GymShark, Fortnite, and Elf Cosmetics, but even the Washington Post has made a name for itself on TikTok by posting funny sketches surrounding current events.

tiktok advertising Ways of Advertising on TikTok

The platform is still in its infancy, but marketers have recently discovered ways to get their ads out there — many of which are creative and unconventional. You don’t need a lot of money to succeed here, either, as long as you’re producing quality content. Here are some of the new ways to earn brand exposure in this new era of digital marketing.

Create a Profile

Yes — it can be as simple as creating a profile and putting out content periodically to build up an audience. While this way takes some time, it’s a low-budget option that can generate a lot of followers as long as you’re uploading engaging content and not being overly promotional. A good rule of thumb is to remember that people come to TikTok to be entertained, not to watch commercials, so be relatable and know what’s trending on the app before you start creating content.

H3: Pre-Roll Ads

You’re probably familiar with the concept of pre-roll ads from YouTube. Pre-roll ads are the quick video ads that play before you access the content. TikTok’s pre-roll ads play automatically whenever a user launches the app, so they’re almost guaranteed to see it. What more effective way to get your name out there than to be the first thing all 2.6 billion TikTok users see every day?

Branded Effects

Part of what makes TikTok so fun is the filter features that creators can implement in their videos, much like what you see on Instagram and Snapchat. As a business, you can pay to have your own branded effects available to content creators with company-specific information that is recognizable to anyone using your custom filter effect. 

In-Feed Ads 

In-feed ads are video ads that play automatically in a user’s “For You” feed, or the queue of videos suggested according to their liked and saved videos. These ads can be up to 60 seconds long, but it’s best to keep them to 15 seconds. The most successful brands on TikTok are the ones creating in-feed ads so entertaining that the user hardly realizes they’re watching an ad. In-feed ads have the same user interface as organic videos, which makes them almost indistinguishable from native content.

Influencer Marketing

Certain content creators on TikTok have millions upon millions of followers because of their useful or engaging content. Some of them are open to collaborations with companies that fit their brand, so it’s worth doing some research to identify influencers who are best suited to promote your products or services and increase your brand exposure.

Hashtag Challenges

Hashtag challenges arise when a user gives other users specific tasks to complete and challenges them to post their results along with the given hashtag. Anyone on the app can participate or issue a hashtag challenge, but it relies on widespread participation to go viral. 

As a business, you can pay to promote your own hashtag challenge for a set number of days with a link to your products. You can start your own challenge, or you can navigate to the Discover Page and see what’s trending to find out if there are any hashtags already trending that suit your products. 

One of the most viral hashtag challenges on TikTok was issued by e.l.f. Cosmetics. They invited users to flaunt their natural beauty in a video with the hashtag of #eyeslipsface for a chance at free makeup and skin care products. The challenge not only engaged millions of people but also got everyone talking about e.l.f. Cosmetics in the positive context of natural beauty.


Dance challenges are a TikTok hallmark. When a user choreographs a particular song, it often inspires others to recreate the dance themselves. Think The Git Up by Blanco Brown. While the artist had nothing to do with that dance, The Git Up dance challenge along with its associated hashtag (#thegitup) went viral with over 150 million participants. Your fast track to brand recognition could involve coming up with a viral dance!

The Creation of Sounds

Most TikTok videos are accompanied by sounds, which are snippets of songs, speeches, random dialogues, or any other sound played in the background. Once a sound is created, anyone on the app can reuse it. When used in conjunction with a hashtag or dance challenge, sounds create the opportunity for a lot of notoriety. If you don’t have any custom sounds to offer, create a video reusing one of the trending sounds on TikTok. Doing so will make you more relatable to those on the app — and they’ll love you for it!

How to Get Started

If you haven’t jumped on the TikTok marketing bandwagon yet, it’s not too late to start. Anyone on TikTok could be nonexistent today and viral tomorrow. Get started by creating a profile, determining your budget, researching the current trends, and finding out which of those trends may be most affordable and relevant to your products or services. 

If you’re feeling lost along the way, Avalaunch Media is home to a world-class social media team that can help you navigate the world of TikTok and succeed in your marketing efforts. Contact us today for a free consultation.

The post How to Advertise on TikTok appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
Ten Steps of a Basic SEO Website Audit

A basic SEO website audit is a great starting place for your digital marketing strategy. Conducting an audit will help you see where you currently rank and how you can do better. This may sound complicated, especially if you’ve never done it before, but a DIY website audit isn’t as difficult as it sounds. A little extra time and effort on your part can have a lasting impact on your business success.

According to a 2021 report by HubSpot, 64% of marketers invested significant effort and resources into their search engine optimization (SEO) in 2020. If you aren’t making SEO a focus for your website, you’re willfully allowing your competitors to overtake you on Google and attract the customers that could be coming to you. But where do you even begin? Here, we’ll show you how to get started in these 10 steps of a basic SEO audit.

Step 1: Crawl Your Website

The first thing to do is crawl your website to check for SEO problems and ensure that only one URL works. Make sure your URL canonicalization and 301s are set up. Canonical tags prevent duplicate content from appearing in multiple URLs, and 301s help Google and its users navigate seamlessly to pages that have moved URLs.

Ubersuggest is a free resource that can show you how Google is crawling your website. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the scan. Upon completion, this tool will identify your critical SEO issues, whether they be duplicate content, site speed, inattention to keywords, etc. Many of the  the issues you identify will likely be quick fixes.

Step 2: Create Custom 404s

When a visitor searches your website and enters an invalid URL that doesn’t exist, you need to return a custom 404. Anything is better than a “This page does not exist” message that leads customers away from your website and hurts your credibility.

Step 3: Improve Your Title Tags

A title tag is the item of content displayed in blue on the search engine results page (SERP) that tells Google the title of your webpage. These tags should be no longer than 60 characters to prevent truncation, and they need to be relevant and compelling in order to drive traffic to your site. If you haven’t already, see to it that your title tags:

Have keywords placed near the frontAre not wasting characters with your brand nameAre encouraging the user to take actionProvide a benefit or value to the user for taking the action Step 4: Customize Your Metadata

While meta descriptions don’t directly impact your ranking on Google, they still matter. The meta description is the blurb below your title tag on the SERP that gives your user a brief summary of what they’ll find by navigating to that page. Metadata can be a deciding factor in whether or not someone visits your site. Because they aren’t usually created by default, some businesses don’t even realize that some (or all) of their pages are missing custom meta descriptions — so be sure to add them manually if you have not already done so.

Your meta descriptions should fall between 150 and 160 characters to avoid truncation. Make it very inviting and accurate to the page. Do not use the same meta descriptions for different pages or you could end up with identical SERP results and confuse your user.

Step 5: Check for Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is website copy that appears on more than one URL. This isn’t necessarily a penalty for your SERP ranking, but it makes it hard for Google to decide which version is better to present to the user in their search. Retail sites are notorious for duplicate content, as they tend to copy and paste product information from their dropshipper (a vendor who fulfills orders from a third party and has them ship directly to the customer). This floods the search results with duplicate content. 

If you’re using a free shopping cart or CMS that adds custom meta on your pages, you need to double check that these pages are as unique as possible to avoid duplicate content issues. Copyscape is an example of a helpful tool that can identify SEO problems you might have as a result of duplicate content.

Step 6: See That Your Site Design Is Up to Date

If your website looks like it’s straight out of the 90s, you’re not giving your customer the best user experience. A lot of companies neglect their web design, thinking that SEO is the “be-all and end-all” of their ranking. What they don’t realize is that web design has an indirect impact on SEO. 

When your web design doesn’t provide an optimal user experience, the potential customer will bounce. In fact, a study by researchers at Northumbria University and Sheffield University in the UK found that 95% of visitors would mistrust a company or leave a website because of poor web design. So, it’s worth the investment to update your web design if you haven’t done so in a while.

Step 7: Put Alt Tags on Your Images

Did you know you may be missing out on a lot of website traffic potential from sites like Google Images and other image search engines? These sites can lead users to your web pages through the alt tags on your images. 

Alt tags are HTML attributes assigned to image tags, or brief descriptions of the pictures on your site. They give search engines a text alternative to photos and increase crawlability. Thankfully, it’s much easier to add alt text today than it used to be. If you’re using WordPress or another modern content management system (CMS), you can easily add alt tags without having to mess with the HTML code.

Step 8: XML Sitemap

You can consider an XML sitemap as a roadmap of your site structure. It lists out your URLs and quickly tells Google which pages are the most important to crawl and how to reach them — even if you don’t have great internal linking. XML sitemaps are beneficial to large websites with extensive archives, brand-new websites with limited external links, and all websites in between. But how do you know which web pages to include in your sitemap? 

Determine the relevance of your URLs and which ones are the most important ones on which to focus. If you don’t want visitors to land on it, it’s best to leave it out. For example, you can exclude duplicate pages, archive pages, pages with no index, white paper PDFs, contact us pages, login pages, privacy policy pages, etc. Just because these aren’t listed in your sitemap doesn’t mean they won’t still be indexed. 

Step 9: Optimize for Target Keywords

Our SEO team finds that many of our customers have not identified any focus keywords for specific pages or throughout their website. Every web page on your site needs a focus keyword implemented naturally within the first 100 words. A business owner may know the keywords they want to be ranked for, but unless they optimize their site for these keywords, Google and other major search engines will never know. 

Keyword stuffing and other outdated SEO tactics are no longer effective, so you need to figure out what your target customers are searching for. When you optimize for these words and variants, Google will better understand what the page is about and bring the right people there. 

Tools such as Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz, and Rank Ranger can all help you identify the keywords your competitors are ranking for as well as their volume, position, average number of visits, and the amount of competition for those organic search words. 

Step 10: Manage Your Links

It’s a common occurrence for web pages to be moved or deleted. If your site contains broken links, your user will get frustrated and leave your site — and as you know by now, a high bounce rate resulting from a poor user experience will lower your ranking. Downloadable resources like Xenu Sleuth can automatically check for broken links on your site and identify which ones to change so you don’t have to do it manually. 

Want to Dive Deeper? Get a Professional Technical Audit Today

This wraps up some of the basic elements of a DIY SEO audit, but there’s so much more to a good SEO strategy than what we’ve discussed. If you want to capture even more opportunities, you need the help of a professional SEO team. Partner with our experts today in creating a strategic game plan to overtake your competitors. We can’t wait to help you succeed.


The post Ten Steps of a Basic SEO Website Audit appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
Eight Common Mistakes on the PPC Checklist

Google Ads has become one of the most popular platforms for online marketing. Since being launched, AdWords has morphed to account for the various needs of marketers, which has made it more complex than it used to be. If you’re new to the world of PPC, you may find that new ad types, features, and targeting methods can be somewhat perplexing.

The reality is that running successful ad campaigns is more difficult than it may seem. Minor missteps can lead to significant underperformance and unmet KPIs, so it’s worthwhile becoming familiar with common PPC mistakes, so you don’t make them. 

Having worked with hundreds of clients over the years, we’re familiar with the most common ad campaign issues, and we’re here to share them so you can perfect your PPC checklist. There is always room for improvement, and we can help! 

Mistake #1: You’re only using a last-click attribution model 

An attribution model is a set of rules that lets you decide how much credit an ad interaction gets for conversions; it allows you to see how your ads perform so you can make them more effective and yield more conversions. There are several different attribution models, but the most common is the last-click attribution model. 

Under this model, you give credit to the last click before someone contacted you or bought your product, but you aren’t accounting for the entire journey the customer took to get to this point — so you can see why it’s problematic that so many marketers are only using this model of attribution. 

Most users pass through at least seven touchpoints with a brand before becoming a customer, so if you’re only giving credit to the last-click model, you’re leaving money on the table without educating and capturing users who are in research and discovery mode. Consider using one or more of the following models to improve your bidding and reach customers earlier in the funnel:

Position-based attribution: 40% of credit given to first and last interactions, 20% of credit given equally to other ad interactions along the wayData-driven attribution: Uses your account data to accurately determine the real contribution of every interaction along the conversion pathLinear attribution: Gives equal credit for conversions across all ad interactions along the conversion pathTime decay attribution: Assigns more credit to ad interactions occurring around the time of conversion Mistake #2: You’re not using negative keywords

Using negative keywords prevents your ads from appearing under irrelevant search terms. You don’t want to pay for clicks from someone who won’t convert in their search. For example, if you sell luxury textiles, you don’t want to appear in someone’s search for the negative keyword ‘cheap’, as they are looking for products that are lower in price and quality than yours. 

So, add ‘cheap’ as a negative keyword to your ad campaign so Google Ads knows not to show your ads for any searches containing that term. We recommend doing negative keyword research before launching any campaigns, and creating lists to ensure the right keywords and reach for your prospective customers. 

Mistake #3: Your landing page isn’t relevant to the user’s search

Landing pages are critical to customer conversion, which is why your landing page needs to be relevant to the target keywords by which your customer is searching. If it isn’t tailored to parameters like location and service, your quality score and conversion rates will suffer. 

Quality scores are diagnostic tools that show you how well your ad compares, in terms of quality, to those of other marketers, and they have a direct impact on what you pay per click. These scores are calculated on three components of your ad campaign, including CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience, or how well your landing page content matches the user’s search term.

You can improve your landing page by optimizing for target keywords and visiting the landing pages of your competitors who have similar product or service offerings. See how they target customers and structure their pages. What are they doing well? What mistakes are they making? Determine the best features of your competitors’ landing pages and adopt them to create a competitive and relevant landing page that converts.

Mistake #4: Your CTR is below 3% because you aren’t testing regularly

As well as you may know your target audience, you will almost never create perfect ad messaging on the first try. Ad testing and performance tracking is important not just to your PPC campaigns but also to your entire marketing strategy, as it can help you understand which phrases your prospects respond to best within an ad group and turn them into customers. 

Start your ad testing by thinking of your goal (buy now, sign up for the newsletter, etc.) and draw up a list of possible search terms your target audience would use when searching for your product or services. When you know what you want to test and have values for each variable, decide which tests you’d like to run. You should be testing different phrases early and often and tracking KPIs such as CTR and conversions. Depending on the amount of traffic you get, let your test run for long enough to get accurate results (this may be days or weeks).  

High clicks and conversions will give you the best ROI. When you find combinations of search terms that convert strongly, you know where to devote your marketing dollars. If you’re getting conflicting or ambiguous results, run more tests with different variables until you find the ideal combination.

Mistake #5: Your landing page takes more than three seconds to load

Another aspect of your quality score is the speed of your landing page, which impacts the prospect’s experience. Your landing page load time should be quick, never exceeding five seconds. Every additional second increases the likelihood that the user will bounce, which negatively impacts your conversion rates. 

In order to prevent lost prospects and wasted money on clicks that lower your quality score, you need to optimize your landing page using Google’s page speed tool, which will tell you how long your landing page takes to load and what you can do to make it faster.

Mistake #6: You’ve allocated your budget to Google and nothing else

If you’re limiting your campaigns to Google, you’re missing out on opportunities to gain visibility and expand your ads and target specific audiences on LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft Ads, Pinterest, and so forth. A portion of your budget should always be allocated to new initiatives, which could include experimenting with other channels. If you’re running a profitable campaign on Google and want a cheaper CPC, for example, you could consider running them on Microsoft. 

Wherever you choose to branch out, you’ll be increasing engagement with your target audience wherever they search, browse, and socialize.

Mistake #7: You aren’t monitoring or optimizing your account often enough

While the “set it and forget it” tactic may have worked in the past, it’s not effective in online marketing today; poor campaign management could be leaving your ads hanging. If you navigate to “change history” within Google Ads and see no activity, your account is not being monitored or optimized appropriately. Even with Google’s smart bidding, there is always opportunity for keyword research and expansion, ad copy testing, negative keywords, and much more. 

Mistake #8: Not targeting customers throughout the entire conversion funnel 

A lot of marketers are overly focused on search when it’s more effective to present ads to customers in all stages of the conversion funnel. Focusing on bottom-of-funnel audiences or keywords may have a great return, but this is not a growth strategy. 

The buyer journey contains many touch points across a variety of channels, so you need to hit them where they are researching and comparing — Facebook, YouTube, the WSJ, etc. This will build brand awareness and make your bottom-of-funnel campaigns more profitable.


The post Eight Common Mistakes on the PPC Checklist appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson

In a recent press release, Digital.com named Avalaunch Media the Top Digital Marketing Agency of 2020. Our agency had the privilege to be a part of Digital.com’s 40-hour assessment of more than 280 of the top firms and agencies offering effective online marketing strategies. Those in consideration were evaluated on the basis of their service offerings, company size, and industry focus in order to identify which company could meet the needs of the most people. 

The finalists were ranked firms that can cater to clients of nearly any industry. We are honored to have been recognized for excellence in doing what we love every day. You can read the article we’re featured in here, which outlines our accomplishments and brand-defining strengths.

About Digital.com

But who exactly is this company conducting these business rankings? Digital.com is a small business that generates ratings for products, software, and services that small business websites and online shops need to operate. These ratings help business owners make smart, informed decisions about the resources they use to run their company. 

While many companies of this sort rely on user-submitted ratings or editorial opinions, Digital.com conducts sentiment analysis on relevant, up-to-date, authentic micro-reviews from Twitter comments to yield unbiased ratings about a business’s offerings. You can learn more about them on their website.

What Makes Our Agency Stand Out

Avalaunch Media prides itself not only on its vast multi-industry full-service offerings, but also on its core values, strategic engagement, and commitment to launching people.

Core Values

The character and culture we embody as an agency are equally important to us as our clients and quality of service. In order to promote an upbeat culture and offer the highest level of customer service, we adhere to a set of eight core values — our guiding star in all that we do. These core values encourage us daily to be innovative, positive, trusting, results-focused, distinguished, communicative, proactive, and to have fun. 

Strategic Engagement

As a full-service agency, we have the full picture of how a business’s moving pieces should fit together to lead them to success. That’s why we’re able to get more granular than many of our competitors; we go deep on a strategic level to figure out a company’s biggest hurdles to get them on track to success. Each of our clients gets a personalized playbook that outlines the game plan we’ve hand-formulated for them.

Commitment to Launching People

One of our top goals as an agency is to launch people, or to empower them with the tools and motivation they need to achieve their personal and professional goals. This applies to employees and clients alike. Perhaps our most proud accomplishment in business over the past decade is the profound impact our team has had on so many of the individuals we’ve interacted with. 

As we continue to deliver distinguished, award-winning service, we hope to touch the lives of many more people and lead countless businesses to success.

The post How We Became Digital.com’s Top Digital Marketing Agency of 2020 appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
CRO vs. SEO — Can You Truly Optimize For Both?

Do you want the copy on your website to help your business show up on Google? Or do you want it to convert customers who land on your site? Do you know if you should use CRO (conversion rate optimization) vs. SEO?

Your answer is most likely “both.” Some people will tell you that you have to choose. They’ll try to convince you that CRO vs. SEO are at odds, and you have to pick one to be your priority. But there is a way for the two optimization strategies to work in tandem to grow your online presence and boost your sales. 

What’s the Difference Between CRO & SEO?

CRO, which stands for Conversion Rate Optimization, and SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, have different goals. They are: 

Conversion Rate Optimization: to get people to take an action on your website (call you, fill out a form, make a purchase)

Search Engine Optimization: to make sure the right people find your website, then to convince them to click on your link and remain on your site

Optimizing for both is a complicated process involving various strategies. For SEO, there are on-page and off-page strategies, and there are plenty of technical tricks to improve your CRO. This article will focus on improving the on-page copy and design of your website. If done right, you can reduce the cost of attracting a potential client to your page and increase the income you receive from website traffic.

Because these two optimization strategies have different goals, particular tactics stand out for both:


Precise, low word countPriority is convincing sales copyCTA buttons throughout the website/landing pageHeaders have catchy copy


High word countPriority is keyword placement Usually one or two CTA buttonsHeaders include keywords Similarities Between CRO vs. SEO

Even though CRO vs. SEO may appear contradictory, they actually have many similarities. When you are optimizing for one, you can optimize for the other. Both of them benefit from:

A superior user experience: Website visitors who have a pleasant experience interacting with your website and copy will remain on your site longer and be more likely to convert. Copy that matches the user’s intent: If the visitor arrives on your page but your website does not answer their question or provide the information they want, they will bounce from the page without converting. Google is focusing more on matching content with the searcher’s intent, so this is especially critical right now. Good selection of images and video: Images and video diversify the content, keeping website visitors on your site for longer and improving their ultimate experience on your website.Smooth navigation through your site: Users need to be able to navigate through your site with ease and not be distracted by a confusing, cluttered menu.Fast page speed and load times: Website visitors may become frustrated if they have to wait for your website images to load, and they may decide to bounce from the site and visit a competitor’s instead. Easy-to-understand copy: Your copy should relate to the user and be easy to read and understand.

The truth is that SEO and CRO truly work together to boost your online presence and increase your sales. If no one can find your site, it doesn’t matter how optimized your website copy is for conversions (unless you are dumping all of your money into paid ads), and if you have thousands of visitors on your website every month but aren’t converting any of them into a sale — you have a problem. 

CRO+SEO = the perfect marriage

Your website will only be able to reach its full potential when it focuses on both. 

How Do You Optimize for Both SEO & CRO?

SEO and CRO work together in many ways, but some of their differences seem to force you to choose. Should you optimize your headers to include keywords or to convert visitors to sales? Should you keep your copy short and precise or inflate the word count? 

In a perfect world, you would be able to give both equal attention, but sometimes, one optimization strategy should be dominant while the other takes a back seat. Perhaps you focus 60% of your efforts on optimizing for conversions and 40% for search engines.  

If your keywords are easy to include in headers and body copy without detracting from your sales content, then you should try to optimize your headers for both CRO and SEO. You can use catchy, sales-focused copy for most headers, while reserving some real estate for headers with keywords. 

As for word count, using bulk quantities of words isn’t always the best strategy for SEO. Blogs should have a higher word count than the blogs from competitors’ pieces focusing on similar topics, but your homepage and landing pages don’t need to have surplus words in order to rank. 

Here are some other tips that can help you optimize your website for both CRO and SEO. 

Optimize Your Title Tag and Meta Description

Your title tag should include a call to action and at least one keyword, and your meta description should include convincing copy sprinkled with some keywords. Your title tags and meta descriptions should also accurately describe what users will discover by clicking on your link, thus helping match intent to the user. 

Focus on Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization matters for both SEO and CRO. Your website should display the most important content above the fold on mobile devices, and the copy should be precise and easy to read on your phone. 

Keep it Simple

Your copy should be intentional, rather than “fluffy filler.” Include clear calls to action and specific headers so users can understand exactly what they are reading and what their next steps should be. 

Clean Up Your Navigation

Unnecessary content in your navigation bar confuses visitors and distracts from your main message. Straightforward navigation improves the user experience and makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site, which helps your search engine ranking. 

Improve Your Page Site Speed

When it comes to your site’s load time, every second matters. Glitches or problems loading content or huge images can prove extremely costly. 

SEO and CRO don’t need not butt heads. Many optimization tactics cross over, making it easy for you to get not only a high quantity of people on your site, but also secure high-quality leads who are ready to convert. Use these tactics to get the biggest ROI for your marketing budget. 

The post CRO vs. SEO — Can You Truly Optimize For Both? appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
Six Critical Strategies for Your Q4 E-Commerce Marketing Plan

This year has been particularly challenging for businesses, so it is crucial to have a Q4 E-Comm marketing plan. The onset of the global pandemic in March and its effects on the economy forced many consumers into frugality, and retailers all over the country had no option but to shut their doors. With the possible exception of grocery and liquor stores, most industries have needed time to figure out how to adapt. 

But one of the few fortunate effects of the coronavirus was that many consumers earnestly started shopping online — many for the first time. Forbes reported in April that e-commerce purchases had grown by 129% year over year in the US and Canada with 146% growth in overall online sales. By June, online sales had increased by 76% since June 2019.

It’s commonplace to see companies pushing their sales in the fourth quarter in order to achieve annual and holiday revenue goals and clear out their year-end inventory. But with so many companies trying to recoup their losses from early spring this year, the competition will be much more fierce. This year, companies have to make sure their e-commerce marketing plan in the fourth quarter is planned more effectively than ever. Companies must be adaptable if they want to compete and crush their e-commerce marketing goals in the online post-pandemic selling frenzy. 

DOWNLOAD 6 STRATEGIES FOR YOUR Q4 MARKETING PLAN Evaluate the Success of Last Year’s E-Commerce Marketing Plan

Formulating a plan for Q4 marketing can feel like a daunting task, but fortunately, you have Google Analytics data from the previous year to help you proceed in the most strategic way. Analytics can be sorted by revenue. Pay careful attention to which products gave you the greatest return last year so you know what to focus your efforts on and can set an attainable goal for this year. Ask yourself: 

Do you have your best sellers in stock? Can you get enough of them restocked far enough ahead to manage holiday demand? Are your search campaigns helping you get traffic to these product pages?  Observe What Your Competitors Are Doing

Another strategy that will help you focus your efforts is observing your competition, which can help you anticipate new trends and shifts in the market. You can keep up with your industry competition by running a quick competitor analysis simply by searching for products, business names, or ideas like yours on Google or Amazon, using a keyword tool like Ahrefs to help. This will help you see which companies are targeting the same audience as you with the same products. You can also identify secondary competitors, such as those who target a different audience or sell budget-friendly versions of your offerings. 

Elements to examine within these companies’ marketing strategies include their:

WebsiteSocial mediaPricing strategyMessagingShipping methodsOnline reviews

Once you’ve seen what competitors are doing well or lacking in these areas, you can get ideas for improvement or make their weaknesses your strong points. 

Remember that the holiday season is a time when many consumers are visiting your site’s product pages for the first time ever, which makes it a prime time to stand out from your competitors and turn these visitors into loyal repeat customers. You can keep people on your site and lure customers from competitors by offering sales events and promotions comparable to or better than the ones your competitors are running, if it fits into your holiday budgets.

Create a Killer Content Strategy

The Digital Advertising Summit held by Adobe in 2018 revealed that over 50% of consumers find it easy to ignore ads online. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to stand out and make your content less spammy and more engaging. Forget the lowest-price point marketing tactics; consumers of today want to know what makes your product the best and how it will address their pain points. Cue content marketing.

Content marketing is not a new concept; buyers are bombarded with all kinds of marketing material every day. If you’re going to be heard, you must deliver hard-hitting content that cuts through the fluff and marketing jargon and explains the benefits and uses of your products. You can do this through how-to guides, product reviews, explainer videos, and any other unique marketing materials that will give your customers a helpful and fulfilling user experience. 

This kind of content also happens to be highly shareable on social media by organizations and individuals, which increases your organic traffic and exposure. See some of our favorite examples of great content marketing here.

Be Strategic About the Channels You Use

Shopify reports that an omnichannel/multi-channel approach can increase your sales by up to 190% compared to a single-channel approach. If you’ve been limiting your marketing to a single channel, you’re missing out on big revenue opportunities — especially now that so many more people are shopping online. Customers aren’t loyal to any one channel; in fact, most consumers compare deals and discounts across channels before they ever make a purchase — even on Amazon Prime Day, on which 76% of shoppers will visit other sites to compare deals. So, you need to promote and sell your products across multiple channels. 

Today’s consumers are making purchases across Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, your website, and more. If you aren’t already, make it your Q4 goal to sell in all the places your customers are currently buying. But before selecting new channels, identify the ones that make sense for your business to be on, especially your target audience. In order to figure out who your audiences are and where they’re shopping, ask yourself some of the following questions:

What is their age?How much money do they make per year?Where do they live?What is their education level?What struggles do they have that makes them seek out your products?

These questions will help you figure out what channels will be most effective for targeting your customers. For example, you’d be less likely to find the baby boomer generation on Twitter compared to Facebook. Similarly, you shouldn’t spend time targeting teenagers with traditional marketing materials (billboards, direct mail, TV ads, etc.) when they’re mainly shopping through social media. 

If you’d like to learn more about the importance of omnichannel marketing you can do so here.

Make Improvements to Your Customer Service

Approximately a third of Americans say they would consider halting business with a company that provided poor customer service. When it comes to online sales, customer service matters. There’s nothing quite as frustrating for a customer as not hearing back after multiple emails and calls when they don’t have the option to speak to someone face to face. This kind of negative experience could cost you customers. 

One way you can make sure customers get prompt responses to their inquiries is to make use of chatbots. These can resolve basic questions at all hours when live representatives are unavailable, and they can even upsell your customers. 

Another simple way to appease your customers is to optimize your website for user-friendliness and keep your social media pages, website, and Google My Business listing up to date so people can easily find what they’re looking for. 

Spend Extra Time on Your Holiday Marketing Tactics

Retailers make more money at once during Q4 than they do at any other time of the year, and failure to perform in this quarter could spell disaster for your company. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the week before Christmas are some of the biggest shopping times of the entire year. Your holiday success hinges upon your preparation, so start planning out your sales events and timelines well in advance so there’s enough time to prepare and plan your content, search, social, and email campaigns around these plans.

Whatever marketing efforts you’ve pursued throughout the year should be doubled down on in the last four months of the year — especially now that more people than ever will be shopping online this holiday season. Some things you can strategize for the holiday season include:

Discounts and coupon codesAbandoned cart email flowsGift guides Social media adsSales eventsLanding pagesProduct launch calendarsRetargeting ads Engage With a Digital Marketing Agency for Help

If you don’t feel confident about your Q4 marketing plan this year, it’s wise to consult a group of specialists who can identify all the holes in your campaign and determine the best end-of-year marketing strategies for your budget and audience.

Avalaunch Media is a full-service digital marketing agency employing a team of roughly 50 professionals who specialize in their respective jobs. We can help with your content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media, PR, design, and marketing automation, and we deliver results. Check out our case studies and contact us today for a custom proposal.

The post Six Critical Strategies for Your Q4 E-Commerce Marketing Plan appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
The Best Dental Practice Marketing Strategies

Are you looking for new ideas for your dental practice marketing strategies? A dentist’s role in the community is to promote oral health in the local community, and the best way to fulfill that responsibility is to market effectively. Marketing isn’t just about driving revenue and obtaining new patients; it’s also about building your reputation, earning the trust of the community, and building upon relationships with current patients. These are all ways that will help you to grow your practice. So where do you begin? 

As a dental practice, it pays to take a multichannel approach, leveraging a website, email marketing, social media, and other marketing channels to achieve maximum results. As an agency that has marketed for many dental professionals before, we’ve seen the kind of dentist marketing that works and doesn’t work, and here we share some of the best dental practice marketing strategies we’ve devised and executed.

Eight Dental Practice Marketing Strategy Tips SEO for dentist #1: Optimize your dental website for local search terms

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to help people seeking dental treatments in your area to find you more easily. If you’re located in Austin, Texas, tune your website so it ranks for terms such as “best dentist in Austin” — a much easier ranking to achieve than more general terms like “best dentist.” These local search terms not only build up your local patient base, but they’ll also make it easier for artificial intelligence to find you when people in your area use voice command searches to schedule dental appointments using their location.

email marketing for dentist #2: Use email marketing to share news, reminders, and promotions about your dental practice

According to Forbes, the average person checks their email inbox 15 times per day. This makes email an excellent tool for offering promotions, such as referral bonuses, sharing a monthly newsletter, sending appointment reminders, and more. Email marketing is an effective way to make sure your patients (past, present, and prospective) are seeing what you have to say — especially if the email has an alluring subject line. 

The subject line determines whether or not someone opens the message. You can make sure people open it by making it personal, prompting action, and offering incentives with time constraints. For example, “[Name], get 15% off your exam this month when you refer a friend!”  

PPC for dentist #3: Take advantage of PPC Google Ads campaigns

Pay-per-click (PPC) allows you to pay to have your ads featured at the top of the search results on Google when a person enters certain search terms. This positions you to be seen before other dental practices and increases the likelihood that a prospective patient chooses your practice. You can make a free account on Google AdWords today and immediately start testing which local search terms drive the most traffic to your website. Start getting results no matter how large or small your PPC budget!

social media for dentist #4: Increase your social media presence to strengthen your patient and follower base

Social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others are excellent tools for increasing local awareness of your business and finding new patients. These platforms are free Facebook ads, for example, allow you to target very specific audiences so you can display your ads to only the people who are likely to give you their business. 

You can also use social media to highlight your involvement in the community. Post photos or stories of how your practice sponsored a local event, donated to a charity, attended a festival or job fair, or whatever else it has been doing within the area. Not only does this humanize your office, but it also engenders positive feelings toward your staff. 

online reputation for dentist #5: Manage your online dental reputation on Google and Yelp

Google is one of the first (if not THE first) places that people turn when seeking dental care. With that being the case, make sure your Google My Business listing is accurate and up to date. You should also see what people are saying about your office in Yelp and Google reviews; prospective patients often read reviews before choosing a dentist to make sure they will receive the best care. You can bolster the positive reviews by running PR campaigns or by using email and social media marketing to offer incentives for leaving a review after an appointment. 

traditional media for dentist #6: Use traditional media to supplement your online content

Not all of your patients are online, especially if you commonly serve an older demographic — but they are local. Many dentists see success from sending out mail offers, birthday postcards, and annual checkup reminders. Some dentists even mail informational packets on cosmetic dentistry to wealthy areas to draw in new business who can afford to spend a little more on their appearance. 

websites for dentists #7: Perfect your dental office website

You have a very small window of time to keep a person on your website once they land on it. These people are either seeking information or looking to schedule an appointment, and your website needs to be easy to use and well designed so that this information is readily available. You should position a strong call to action toward the top of the home page and also have your contact information in a visible and obvious place. Consider also creating a content hub on your website where people can go to find information about different dental procedures. This adds value to your site and establishes you as the expert in your industry. 

videos for dentists #8: Invest in video ads and other visual media

A lot of people don’t have the time or the desire to do a lot of reading when they stumble upon your website or social platforms. You can capture these peoples’ attention using video ads, infographics, explainer videos, and more, which are a great way to introduce your staff and office and humanize your brand. 

Use Our Full-Service Agency to Grow Your Practice

Now that you know what to market as a dental practice and how to do it, team up with a full-service marketing agency to determine what combination of these marketing mediums you should focus on to maximize your results. Avalaunch Media is well-versed in omnichannel marketing, and we have skilled professionals ready to help you accomplish your marketing goals. Contact us today for a free quote. We look forward to helping you grow your practice.


The post The Best Dental Practice Marketing Strategies appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
Three Simple Marketing Strategies for the Business-to-Business Market

The most effective marketing is almost always the result of effectively targeting the right audience; marketing strategies should always be tailored to the interests, needs, and spending habits of a specific group. Without an audience to focus on, your marketing will fall flat. 

Knowing how to market to a business-to-business (B2B) audience is especially critical because B2B decision makers have different marketing preferences, communication styles, and end goals in mind than the average business-to-consumer (B2C) customer. Below, we’ll review some of the strategies you can use in B2B marketing to reach these businesses and organizations more effectively.

B2B Marketing Defined

Prior to delving into that, it’s important to understand what B2B marketing is and what its goals are. B2B marketing revolves around businesses selling to other businesses or establishments. These sales are typically worth a lot more than B2C transactions. In this kind of marketing, it’s important to cut to the chase and be more informational than animated, as B2B consumers are usually business decision makers looking to address a pain point. They care most about the impact of a company’s products or services on their bottom line and being able to establish and maintain long-term relationships with the businesses they work with. This alone makes B2B communications and marketing strategies vastly different from B2C.

Avalaunch Media is an example of B2B marketing. We sell our professional marketing services to other businesses as a whole, rather than to individual consumers. Our customers approach us looking to increase their ROI by establishing themselves as industry leaders, increasing their brand awareness, and improving their marketing strategy as a whole. 

Other examples of B2B companies you may be familiar with include:

BMA Banking Systems: Software and technology solutions for banks and credit unionsBritton BMI: Commercial cleaning servicesChild Related Research: Child-resistant testing for commercial products Hootsuite: Social media management platform for businessLearningZen: E-learning platform for employee trainingMailChimp: Email marketing platform for small businessesQualtrics: Survey platform for gathering usable data and insightsSlack: Office communication and collaboration tool  Strategies for B2B Marketing

Given the unique nature of B2B marketing, it’s important to understand some of the basic B2B marketing strategies if you are to stay competitive in today’s saturated marketing landscape and get a leg up on the competition. There are endless B2B marketing strategies you could employ, but here are just some that you can put into action starting today.

Stay consistent with your brand messaging

Due to the expensive and long-term nature of B2B relationships, business decision makers will pay as much as is needed in order to work with reputable and consistent companies. While a B2C consumer can always switch shampoos once a bottle is empty, it’s much riskier and more costly for B2B consumers to buy the wrong industrial farming equipment, for example, which could hurt their profits for years to come. 

In order to build trust and earn long-term business contracts, you have to have strong branding and consistent marketing materials. Even the smallest inconsistency in branding can lead to a loss of confidence and business. Inconsistencies can be anything from: 

A differing tone on your website versus the tone of your social mediaA difference in design color palette or imagery from one place to anotherA different value proposition on an ad than on the landing page to which it leadsA product offering that doesn’t quite fit with your niche

Even seemingly insignificant inconsistencies like these can cause you to lose your cohesive identity as a brand. Take Colgate, for example, who decided in 1982 to expand its product offerings with frozen food entrees. Since Colgate had already established themselves as a toothpaste company, their customers did not take well to food under a toothpaste brand name. If you aren’t even sure who your company is, how can your customers trust and support you? 

GymIt, on the other hand, has been thriving since 1977 thanks to its delightfully consistent messages of fitness-related humor across its website and social platforms.

Develop a killer content marketing plan around your audience

Hubspot recently conducted research showing that B2B marketers who have and maintain a blog regularly earn 67% more leads than those who don’t have blogs. What’s more, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get their marketing information from a blog than an advertisement. That’s how important content marketing is, but surprisingly, many businesses still aren’t doing it! 

Relevant and high-quality content marketing is arguably one of the best ways to educate prospects and demonstrate your expertise, which is something that all business consumers are looking for. It’s a tried-and-tested way to quickly convert leads to customers. Knowing this, you should spend a considerable amount of time producing informative content on your blog if you don’t already have one. 

If you don’t, it’s never too late to start. Google Analytics is a great place to begin (if you don’t have an account, you can sign up for free today). Here, you can learn about the composition of your target audience by examining the demographics overview of your website. This will help you see what kinds of people (by gender, location, age, etc.) are visiting your site and what their interests are.

Once you have a general idea of what kinds of people you should be targeting with your content, it’s time to start thinking of topics. You may find that your topic ideas run dry in just a matter of weeks, but thankfully, there are many online tools that can help you with this. 

For example, BuzzSumo gathers data from social platforms to identify trending industry topics. Write blogs on these and make them more thorough and informative than the ones your competitors have written. Look for subjects you could expand upon within your existing blogs and delve into them deeper. Consider user intent to predict what else your audience wants to learn about, based on your previously published content.

Some other great tools for content topic generation are:

Google TrendsAlltopPortentUbersuggest Use email marketing to show what you can do

Email marketing is a powerful tool you can use to get the word out to potential leads about how your company can help and empower them. While marketing automation for B2C is often focused around catchy, emotional, and/or entertaining headings and text, B2B emails need to be centered on what matters to B2B consumers, which is primarily their profits, efficiency, and time. BounceX recently sent out a great example of good B2B email marketing: 

This email quickly appeals to B2B consumers by plainly and briefly describing how their company can help, stating that their consumer insights can help businesses get more revenue from their paid ad budgets — which is the main goal of a business. No fluff, no unnecessary extra verbiage — just a unique selling point and call to action.

Marketing automation is also great for promoting new blog content and sharing news. Instead of waiting for people to stumble onto your blog, why not just invite them directly through an email? Your logically minded B2B prospects will also appreciate seeing how you’ve achieved results for other customers if you send out a monthly newsletter. In fact, 40% of B2B marketers say that email newsletters are a surefire way to get cold, hard results from their content marketing. Use email as an opportunity to show how you’ve helped past customers achieve success or how you have earned their trust. Take this brief email from Grammarly, for example:

Instead of being self-promotional, they had a current customer to do the talking for them, centering their email content on a user’s Tweet. On top of that, they offered a money-saving discount on their services and the promise of improved customer perception. 

Put These Strategies Into Action With a Marketing Team

While B2B marketing can feel complicated and risky with everything this kind of customer has to lose, an experienced marketing team takes the guesswork out of it. Avalaunch Media is a leader in business marketing, and we know the critical moves you should make to establish long-term, mutually profitable business relationships. Contact us today for a custom proposal. 


The post Three Simple Marketing Strategies for the Business-to-Business Market appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
Using the Eight Pillars of Marketing for an Omnichannel Approach

As experienced marketers, the teams at Avalaunch Media know that technology and market demands are always changing. That’s why we’re versatile and constantly adapting our strategies, helping clients of all budget sizes elevate their brands for the best value. Selecting the right digital marketing channels for maximum ROI is key in this quest. Our full-service marketing agency offers services in the 8 pillars of digital marketing, everything from SEO optimization to web design, but our campaigns can be summed up by a number of channels that we refer to as the eight pillars of digital marketing.

We consider them the building blocks of any effective digital marketing strategy, and we use them to create a detailed plan of how we can help every new client succeed in their marketing goals. The list of marketing channels is as follows:

8 PILLARS OF DIGITAL MARKETING WebsitePPCSEOPR + OutreachContentSocial mediaBrandingMarketing automation

Every client that comes to us is at a different point in their business development, so it’s our job as marketers to help businesses thrive across all eight pillars of digital marketing. 

On your own, it’s not easy to know which marketing channels to focus on that will yield the greatest return. If you’re feeling lost with your digital marketing strategy, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll briefly overview the eight pillars of marketing, general best practices, and how you can leverage each of these to enhance your approach. 


A website works in conjunction with SEO, social media, content, and marketing automation to educate, attract, and entice potential customers. It’s an important component of any marketing campaign, but contrary to popular belief, your website isn’t typically what leads to conversions. In fact, up to 96% of your site visitors won’t be ready to buy yet. Most visit a site to learn, so make your web pages as informative as possible while still calling visitors to action and inviting them to buy. Think of your website as the ultimate resource to learn about your brand, values, products, and services — and double check that it accurately represents each of those things. 

If information isn’t easy to find, or your website isn’t easy to navigate or load, users will bounce. Elements of a strong website that will keep people on your site include: 

Strong, eye-catching value propositionsExcellent site speedMobile-friendlinessOrganized, SEO-optimized copyInquiry/contact formsHelpful, updated, and accurate contentTested headlines and CTAs in obvious placesConsistency with branding, tone, design elements, etc.

If you feel overwhelmed by this list, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. There are several simple steps you can take today and immediately improve the impact of your site:

Run Google Analytics 

Google Analytics reports can give you a better understanding of why you’re losing people at a certain point on your website and what you can do to make it better.

Ask for Feedback

If your bounce rate is high, gather volunteers to scan through your site looking for specific elements and see if they can quickly find important information. This will help you find out where your information is lacking and make updates accordingly. 

Conduct a Website Audit

There’s usually a simple explanation behind visibility and traffic problems on a website. An online site auditing tool can help you figure out what it is. An audit can show you if the problem is with crawlability, page titles, meta descriptions, or something else. Ahrefs, SEMrush, MySite Auditor, and more are great tools to help with site audits. 

Paid Media

If pay-per-click (PPC) advertising isn’t part of your marketing approach, you’re leaving easy money on the table. PPC is an affordable method of marketing (usually overseen by an agency) that takes whatever budget you have and places ads for your products and services in front of people who are looking for them but may not know your company even exists.

Using strategies including A/B testing, you can find out instantly which ads and keywords perform the best with the right audiences and improve your approach accordingly. 

Facebook, Instagram, and Google are ideal places for paid ads. For instance, if you’ve ever searched a product on Amazon or Google, it’s likely that you later saw that product appear as an ad in your social media feed; some PPC platforms have a demographic targeting feature, which enables marketers to display ads only to a target audience and avoid wasting money showing ads to those who won’t be interested. If you’re new to PPC, learn how to advertise with Google, and find out what makes Facebook ads worth the expense here.

A PPC strategy combined with a well-thought-out content strategy can help you dominate Google by gradually building your brand authority and increasing your ranking over time while your PPC strategy immediately generates leads and increases conversion rates at the same time.


In today’s world, consumers most often turn to Google when looking for products or services. They are unlikely to engage with you if your offerings aren’t visible on the search engine (how often do you visit the fifth page of search results on Google?). What good does it do to invest lots of time and money into a website that nobody can find? That’s why SEO is a top priority among businesses; they want to be seen on the first results page by as many as possible. You want to make sure everyone interested in your topic or industry is being directed to your site and engaging with it once they get there. 

SEO has three primary goals:

Make sure other websites are linking to your website (off-site work)Optimize web pages (titles, tags, content) for target keywords (on-site work)Resolve technical issues such as duplicate content, broken links, slow site speed, keyword placement, image tags, and so on

Keep in mind that search engine optimization (SEO) takes longer than PPC marketing to produce results, but an SEO-optimized website and blog help you rank for keywords related to your business offerings and draw in qualified leads that convert.

PR + Outreach

PR outreach is the process of pitching your company’s products and/or services to those with a platform (ex. Bloggers, influencers, journalists, and so on) to get exposure and press coverage. Media presence is a key piece of any marketing strategy; nearly everyone gets their information from digital media these days, which makes heightened media presence a great indicator of growth. 

Every brand wants to get featured in noteworthy publications, but not many know how to get there — and there isn’t a single solution that will help each business achieve its goals. That’s why you need the help of a digital marketing agency. An agency’s team of PR specialists can help you achieve your PR and outreach goals by assisting you with:

The creation of a custom brand strategy;The development of your brand image/story;The establishment of media connections; and The production of content for your target audience. 

Our PR team starts with a PR audit that will show you your strengths and weaknesses and identify holes in your strategy as well as growth opportunities. We’ll work tirelessly to connect you with the publication networks that are most likely to give you features and help you produce content that will get shared in high places. Successful PR campaigns will help you obtain effective backlinks that yield increased organic traffic, which will do wonders for your profits and brand awareness.

As an example, you may remember the Ice Bucket Challenge several years ago on social media started by the ALS Association. This was an excellent PR campaign because it was fun, it got people to engage, it gave us a cause to champion, and it captured the attention of news sources and prominent individuals like the President of the United States.


Content marketing is made up of three essential elements: optimized copy, vivid design, and captivating video. With high-quality, well-researched content, you position yourself as an industry expert while also reaching customers at various stages of the sales funnel and adding SEO value to your website. Marketers have found tremendous value in evergreen content, in particular, which is content that is not linked to any place in time and retains its value throughout many years. Take this content below, for example, which is part of an evergreen page speaking about types of medical malpractice.

Housing this kind of content on your website yields more traffic and helps you build relationships with leads — but not if your content isn’t valuable, quality, or appealing.

While consumers hate being ambushed with lazy, spam-like ads, they appreciate and enjoy interacting with good content marketing. Content that converts must be strategic and offer some sort of value to the consumer. This simply means writing and designing ads and other content on topics that audiences are interested in, infusing it with valuable information, and using CTAs to provoke action, which HVAC.com does nicely in this infographic on preventing household fires: 

HVAC Infographic

Once the content is created, it must then be shared and promoted across social media, email campaigns, and other channels. You can even seek links from other sites that bring traffic to your site. If you don’t promote your own content, who else will?

Social Media

Most of the world is now on social media, seeking out content from popular brands. A report by UPS on the Pulse of the Online Shopper revealed that millennials are some of the world’s largest consumers, and they tend to look at social media before deciding where to buy certain products, making social media a necessary element in any marketing strategy.

The social media channel is unique in that it gives you the chance to establish your niche within a community and humanize your business. You already have a website to cover the informational side of your brand, so use your social platforms to be transparent and showcase your company’s personality and values. Social media isn’t meant to operate on its own; it is closely intertwined with PPC, content marketing, and websites. Use it to showcase relevant content, direct people back to your website, and promote new products through paid ads.

People seek out brands on social platforms to build a relationship, so be sincere in consumer interactions and treat them like people. Be consistent with your brand and identify the right social platforms to use. It’s easier to post consistently only on platforms that will benefit your business than trying to conquer every platform in existence.

A makeup brand, for example, would do better on platforms like Instagram and Twitter than a research lab would — they may be better suited to LinkedIn and Facebook. 

National Geographic has an exemplary social media presence. Their posts consist of inspiring photography, captivating stories, and informative content, which have seen them earn more than 100 million subscribers and high levels of engagement. Rather than simply posting their own content, they also feature photo submissions from skilled photographers around the world, which helps bolster their community engagement.

national geographic Branding

A well-defined brand strategy showcases everything about a company and makes a huge impact when executed properly — think Nike, Disney, Coca-Cola, Amazon, and Apple. It’s more than just designing a logo or a business card; it’s about defining the tone, visual voice, mission, and company values that your company will embody in everything that it does. 

A strong brand is what gives companies a competitive edge to set them apart from the pack. Branding must be consistent across all marketing channels — including social media, websites, content hubs, and emails — to be impactful. An agency can help you design a plan for consistently telling the story of your brand, making sure your visual voice comes across on all branded company collateral so you can make meaningful impressions on customers.

Marketing Automation

Email marketing, also known as marketing automation, is used to move leads through the sales funnel. Those receiving your emails have accepted the invitation on your website or social media to hear what you have to say, so it’s important to capture the attention with an engaging subject line to ensure the email gets opened and then to deliver succinct, valuable, and personal messages that increase a person’s likelihood of making a purchase. Keep your emails short and never forget to add an urgent call to action. These practices will increase conversions and long-term open rates.

DSW does an excellent job of creating such emails.


As you can see, they’ve minimized their email copy while still making it fun and purpose-driven. One of the emails even contains the subscriber’s name, making it more personal and impactful. There are direct and indirect calls to action in both of these emails, and they offer incentives to the customer to make timely purchases.

Build a Custom Omnichannel Marketing Plan

Today, there are more marketing resources at your disposal than there ever have been, which also makes it easier than ever before to increase your brand awareness. Numerous options can also make it feel overwhelming, especially when integrating these channels for a seamless omnichannel marketing plan — but that’s why so many businesses lean on a full-service marketing agency. We’ll help you decide which channels will best benefit your business, increase your ROI, and meet your marketing goals. Contact Avalaunch Media today for a custom proposal.


The post Using the Eight Pillars of Marketing for an Omnichannel Approach appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson
The Facts About Working From Home

As of March 19, 2020, six out of 10 employees in the United States were working from home due to the coronavirus, and this number has likely increased since then. Many were skeptical that the transition could be successful, due to assumptions and myths about working from home. However, research suggests that “quarantine” style remote work is more effective than first thought. 

Read on to discover some of the generalities and worries that employers and employees expressed about working from home, and then we’ll separate the myths from the facts. You’ll also find helpful suggestions along the way that will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance at home, especially if you’re new to working remotely. 

Rumors About Working Remotely Productivity tanks when employees aren’t working in the officeThe remote work lifestyle is less favorable than working at an officeWorking remotely can ruin your healthy eating habitsYour spouse and kids will distract you from getting things doneFashion has no place in the home officeIt’s hard to maintain healthy habits when you’re stuck at homeRemote workers have a harder time sticking to a scheduleIt’s too tempting to work from your bed all dayYou always find time to work out when you work from homeRemote workers love to stay in their PJs throughout the workday  The Truth Behind Remote Working Working From Home Potentially Makes You More Productive

Productivity is among the top concerns surrounding remote work, but it really shouldn’t be. The rumor that working at home tanks productivity has been proven false. According to a 2019 survey by FlexJobs, 62% of respondents said they felt more productive working from home without the stress of coworker interruptions, office politics, meetings, and the commute. 

Another 2019 survey by Airtasker found that among the 1,000+ employees surveyed, working from home increased productivity. They found that remote workers put in an average of three additional work weeks per year. Perhaps this is because remote employees feel more comfortable taking enough breaks throughout the day, which is the best way to increase long-term focus.

Employee health was better among remote workers as well, which makes sense; if you have happy and healthy employees, they will perform better work and be more productive.

The Remote Work Lifestyle Has a Range of Unique Perks

The remote work lifestyle gets a bad rap. You may miss out on bits and pieces of office culture and camaraderie outside the office, but you get:

More time to devote to those you live with;More flexibility for a second job;More bandwidth to support a spouse working outside the home;More free time; and More in your bank account that doesn’t have to go toward the daily commute. 

And who says you can’t experience office culture when working at home? There are so many tools today that allow coworkers to collaborate and socialize virtually, including Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and many more. During one of your breaks, invite your coworkers to participate in a group stretch, a meditation session, a book club, or a coffee break. At Avalaunch, these are all part of the way of our culture and our employees love it! 

Working Remotely Gives You More Control Over Your Eating Habits

When not in the office, some may find it easier to sustain better eating habits. At home, you aren’t tempted by the snacks around the office, there’s no temptation to lunch every day with your coworkers, nor is there the temptation of delicious food at office parties. 

However, some remote workers only have room for a workspace in their kitchen area. If this is the case for you, this doesn’t have to ruin your eating habits. Although it’s tempting to indulge and mindlessly overeat while you work, you can combat this problem by keeping your cabinets and refrigerator stocked with nutritious items and buy junk food sparingly. Set established eating and/or snack times away from your workstation so you can practice conscious, intuitive eating. 

You Can Set Boundaries to Minimize the Disruptions of Home Life

If you live with other people, you can count on distractions. Significant others, plus kids and pets — aren’t used to having you home so much and they’ll want more of your attention. 

This is a prime opportunity to set boundaries between your personal and professional life within the home. Make it clear to whoever you live with that you will continue to be unavailable during working hours as normal, and ensure that they will respect any physical barriers between you and others, such as a closed door, during that time. 

You Have Freedom to Experiment When Working From Home

Just because you’re not going out doesn’t mean you have to bum around in PJs all day. You’ve probably seen people all over social media capitalizing on the opportunity to play with their look while they’re stuck at home. It’s going to be a while before you have to go into your office again, so why not be a little experimental with hair, makeup, or wardrobe? A fun change might even help you stay sane. There’s no better place for experimental fashion than in the home office!

Remote Working Means More Time for Good Habits

As established, those who work from home have more spare time on their hands because they don’t have to spend time traveling to and from work. This time can be spent catching a few extra Zs, taking that shower you’d usually skip in favor of more sleep, or getting in a refreshing morning workout. Studies show that remote workers get 25 more minutes of exercise each week, so it would be wise to capitalize on this opportunity to improve your physical health.

You Have the Opportunity to Become Disciplined at Home

Given the difficulty of current events, your mental health likely won’t be 100% every day. There will be days that you won’t be on your computer by 9 AM and ready to roll. This is an anxiety-riddled adjustment period for all of us, so it’s important to be patient with yourself as you make small but concerted efforts to become disciplined. As you settle into your new normal, do your best each day to keep a routine. Consistently building these small habits will help you discipline yourself in an unstructured, unsupervised environment.

You don’t have to go as drastic as blue hair or a shaved head as your favorite social media influencers have done, but if you’ve been wanting to work a new hairstyle or learn to wax your own eyebrows, there has never been a better time. 

You’ll Quickly Find that Working in Bed Isn’t All That Great

Let’s all admit it — all of us probably spent the first day of quarantine working on a laptop in bed and quickly realized it wasn’t ideal. Sure, it was probably nice for the first little while, by mid-afternoon, you probably had body aches and a sore neck. Sitting in bed all day on your computer isn’t ergonomic or sustainable long-term. In order to do your best work, you need to work in a space that’s comfortable, allows you to sit up straight, and to use all your work equipment, including a second monitor and a mouse.

Remote Workers Know to Get Dressed for the Sake of Productivity

It may not seem important whether you stay in sweats all day or not, but the way you dress puts you in a specific mindset. When you wear comfy clothes during work, you’re putting yourself in a relaxation mindset when it’s time to get to work, which may make it hard to focus. Even if all you can bear to wear is your most casual daytime clothes, get dressed. It will be a physical reminder that you’re not on vacation and to act accordingly.

At Avalaunch Media 95% of our employees have been working remotely for the last six months. We can confirm that the rumors of employee productivity are false. Although we love working in our office we have embraced the change and we work hard to keep our values and culture the main focus of Avalaunch Media.


The post The Facts About Working From Home appeared first on Avalaunch Media.

- Mollie Cahillane
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- David Cohen
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- David Cohen
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Ask Buffer: Should I Post Personal Content on My Business Account?
Ask Buffer: Should I Post Personal Content on My Business Account?

Q: I see so many influencers posting details of their personal lives on social media and I'm wondering if I should do the same. I'm the face of my small business so should I share personal posts (kids, pets, daily life) on my business account, or keep it totally separate?

Many influencers build their businesses based on their lives, so of course, their social media accounts share everything from their latest brand collaborations to videos of their home renovations.

But for small business owners, it’s a little different. You may be the face of the company, but you’re also not the sole defining element of it. In most cases, your business accounts should likely be just that: dedicated to business.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to keep yourself fully out of the picture. In fact, weaving in some personal content that’s also relevant to your business can help you build a more authentic, relatable brand.

The approach to take will depend on your audience, industry, and goals. Consider the following:

How much does my business rely on my personal image? Do I want my business to rely on my personal image?Does my personal brand and business brand have an overlap in audiences?What is my audience looking for on my business account and my personal account? Are they similar or very different?Is there value in sharing personal updates with my business audience?

Let’s dive into a couple of scenarios based on what you might have answered:

The Personal Brand Turned BusinessHow much does my business rely on my personal image? Do I want my business to rely on my personal image? It relies on a good amount, and I’m okay with that.Does my personal brand and business brand have an overlap in audiences? Yes.What is my audience looking for on my business account and my personal account? Are they similar or very different? They’re somewhat similar.Is there value in sharing personal updates with my business audience? Yes.

In this case, it’s likely that your business is an extension of your personal brand. Perhaps you’re a fitness buff who started a boutique gym, or maybe you run a community for new parents, a category that you and many of your friends fall into.

Your business and personal brands, then, likely have similar audiences, and while they might look for slightly different things on different accounts, people are used to seeing you as the face of the business.

By being regularly present on your company’s social accounts, you’re helping to build trust and authenticity with your audience and adding a human element to your works. Your business isn’t just another business, it’s a product and service with a real person and story behind it.

Still, you’ll want to stick mostly to content that relates to your business in some way. Here are a few ideas for founders looking to weave their own lives into a business account:

Show business trips or events that relate to your product or service. Vacation photos wouldn’t be right for every company to share, but a recent post on swimwear company Mara Hoffman’s account shows the founder on a beach. It works because she’s wearing one of the company’s suits, tying her experience back to the brand. View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mara Hoffman 🐪 (@marahoffman)

Film behind-the-scenes content. The founder of wellness food company Golde recently posted a casual insider look at a photoshoot, an approach that can help customers feel extra-invested in how the company’s products come to life. View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GOLDE (@golde)

Showcase your dog or child in the office. This approach works perfectly for Sonshine Baths, which was started because founder Tuanieha Simms couldn’t find a skincare solution for her son. He makes regular appearances on Sonshine’s Instagram—but even personal posts like these are tied back to the business in some way. View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sonshine Bath LLC (@sonshinebath)

The Standalone BusinessHow much does my business rely on my personal image? Do I want my business to rely on my personal image? I want them to be mostly separate.Does my personal brand and business brand have an overlap in audiences? Not really.What is my audience looking for on my business account and my personal account? Are they similar or very different? They’re looking for different things.Is there value in sharing personal updates with my business audience? Rarely.

In this case, you and your business are separate entities. There isn’t a big overlap in the audience, and you’d like to keep your personal brand mostly separate from that of the business.

To establish your business apart from you, build a standalone brand for it instead of lending your persona. Create and use a different personality and voice that’s unique to the brand.

There is, of course, still room for your presence, as long as it directly relates to your work.

Here are a few examples of content ideas that stay focused on the business:

Talk about your founding story. Shawn Askinosie changed careers and brought his daughter along with him when he started Askinosie Chocolate. Most of the business's social media is focused on chocolate, but here, he shares the business’s inspiring origin story. View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Askinosie Chocolate (@askinosie)

Show how you use your product as a customer. Olive oil company Brightland has a brand of its own, but its “Founder” Story Highlight shows founder Aishwarya Iyer makes a few of her favorite recipes.Ask Buffer: Should I Post Personal Content on My Business Account?SourceFilm a teaser video where you talk about a new product or launch. Farmgirl Flowers’ social accounts are devoted to their flowers rather than their founder, but she makes an appearance here showcasing one of the company’s Thanksgiving arrangements.For Every Business

Remember, someone is following your business account to learn more about your business. Take the time to think through what your followers are looking for and the role you want your company to play in their lives. By thinking about your brand as its own personality, it’ll be easier to decide what personal content is relevant.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by farmgirlflowers (@farmgirlflowers)

When in doubt, ask yourself the following:

Does this relate to my company?Will my audience care or benefit?Is it authentic to my business?

And finally, remember that your audience is always your best indicator. Do they love more personal posts, or do they tend to scroll on by? Keep an eye on your metrics to see what type of content your audience is engaging with most, and then adjust your strategy from there.

- Jenny Foss
How to Become a Thought Leader on LinkedIn
How to Become a Thought Leader on LinkedIn

“Thought leadership” is one of those buzzwords that we’ve all heard roughly a million times. And while it may feel like one of those terribly overused cliches, based on my experience as a business owner and coach to corporate leaders and entrepreneurs, I understand why we hear it so often.

Because, done well, it works.

I tell you this from personal experience. I’ve also seen the payoffs of thought leadership among the clients I’ve served over the past 10+ years.

Building or affirming your thought leadership—in the right places and with the right audiences—can help you foster trust and credibility with customers, become a go-to voice in your industry, and open up amazing opportunities.

Here’s my story:

In 2010, I got this wild idea to build JobJenny.com, a platform that would offer professionals answers to their most pressing career questions, assist them in navigating business or job transitions, and inspire them to live their best lives.

My initial intention was to create a side hustle business that complimented my then-day job as head of a recruiting agency. I’d low-key answer the most common questions I heard about job search and career development, help people with their resumes, and support them in growing their small businesses.

What I didn’t see coming was this: By sharing my firsthand perspective on how recruiters think and work and lessons learned as I built my own business through my blog, LinkedIn, and subscriber newsletter, I was becoming a thought leader.

But that’s exactly what happened and, as it did, I was able to expand my services, raise prices (a lot), sunset my recruiting business, and attract lucrative partnerships, including one with LinkedIn Learning.

My thought leadership successes were, admittedly, rather accidental, but yours don’t have to be. In fact, if you apply some strategy and planning to this, you (and your business) may benefit from your thought leadership much more quickly than I did.

Here are five quick tips that’ll help you build thought leadership via LinkedIn—one of the best platforms out there for many small business owners (though they’ll work just as well is Instagram or TikTok is your platform of choice):

1. Think About Your Most Important Audience and What They Want to Hear

Certainly, you’ll want the freedom to share perspective and information that’s meaningful to you and aligns with the goals of your business. But, when you get down to it, what matters most is that you’re talking about things that your ideal audience wants to hear.

And, if you’re not sure what that is, try my very non-scientific technique:

Review the questions that come in via your contact page, email, and LinkedIn InMails weekly. What, specifically, are people requesting help with the most?

In my experience, posts inspired by real-life questions and pain points get the most comments, engagement, and shares. I’m guessing you’ll find a similar trend. So, dive into your inbox and start there.

The answers to “What should we talk about?” are, literally, right there in your inbox. Start there.

2. Consider Your Unique Perspective

Do you know what sets you and your business apart? You should. If you don’t, ask your best customers what they appreciate the most about you to help you get clear on your “secret sauce.”

My unique perspective, as a point of reference, is that I insist on showing up as an approachable and relatable human.

Certainly, I want to ensure it’s clear that I know what I’m talking about and I’m hyper-current on my industry. I also understand that the process of changing jobs or careers is stressful for nearly everyone. And so, I work hard to show up in a way that’s non-intimidating, non-boring, and incredibly actionable.

And, it’s working. It’s a key reason I was invited (out of a sea of roughly 3,273,204 job search experts on LinkedIn) to create video courses with LinkedIn Learning. My conversational, roll-up-your-sleeves style also helped me land me a long-term gig as a columnist for The Muse (one of the biggest players in the career space) and an upcoming, still-top-secret writing project, which you’ll see later in 2022.

Figure out what sets you apart, then make sure that the content you share honors your overall brand and your unique perspective.

3. Brainstorm What You’ll Share

Once you’ve got clarity on your audience and unique perspective, spend some time brainstorming topics that align with your goals and affirm your expertise. A few types of content that tend to resonate well on Linkedin in particular include opinion pieces, analysis of industry data, case studies, AMAs (Ask Me Anything), and interviews.

I’ve recently begun using AMAs on LinkedIn (via LinkedIn Live) as a tool for helping potential customers as they contemplate their job search and to point them toward my paid offerings. (Here’s my first one.) So far, the results are incredibly promising. In just a short amount of time weaving video content into my messaging on LinkedIn, I can already see why 87% of those using LinkedIn video for marketing say it’s an effective channel for them.

As you brainstorm, create a list of your best ideas and draw from it over a period of weeks or months. We’re all so busy. Knowing what you’ll share on LinkedIn (and when) will help you stay the course.

4. Play to Your Strengths

Something that seems to create the most stress among entrepreneurs as they chart a course for building thought leadership is that dreaded imposter syndrome.

I can’t tell you how many times clients have told me, “But, I’m not a writer,” or “I’m terrified to speak on camera.”

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to write original content if that’s not your jam. Maybe you’re better off vlogging or doing Q&As on LinkedIn Live.

And, if you’re not a strong writer or comfortable on camera, guess what? You can still build thought leadership, as a curator.

Curators are those magical people we all have in our news feeds who seem to always find the most interesting articles, trends, and information. They pose questions based on what they read. They invite us to weigh in. They create thoughtful debate.

And, in doing so, we come to know them as people who are passionate, intelligent, and engaged in their particular areas of expertise.

We come to know them as thought leaders.

5. Show up Authentically, Always

You’ll probably agree with me when I say that there are plenty of “what not to do” examples of “attempts to build thought leadership” on LinkedIn.They’re everywhere.

When you look close at the stinkers, I’ll bet you’ll notice something. Most of those in your “worst of the worst” category are lacking an extremely important ingredient: authenticity.

You see, people align with—and buy from—those that they know, like, and trust. (In fact, 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.) And, if you get too hung up on showing up as all buttoned-up on LinkedIn (or any other social media platform), you run the risk that people won’t see who you really are, as an entrepreneur and a person.

Be strategic, for sure. But if you’re serious about leveraging LinkedIn to establish or affirm your thought leadership, you’ve got to show up as the real deal.

Trust me: You’ll be so glad you did.

- Kaylin Marcotte
How to Build a Meaningful (and Massive) Community, From Someone Who’s Done it Twice
How to Build a Meaningful (and Massive) Community, From Someone Who’s Done it Twice

You probably already know the value of building a community behind your brand: more powerful word of mouth, stronger customer retention, better organic growth. And yet, I find many small business owners aren’t quite sure how to foster real communities or don’t believe they can if they don’t have the money to really do it successfully.

I’ve built two thriving communities on startup budgets, first as employee #1 and Director of Marketing and Community at theSkimm and now as the founder and CEO of puzzle company JIGGY. Here’s my advice for doing it right.

1. Find Ways to Support & Celebrate Your Organic Ambassadors

You probably already have a community of champions—people who love what you’re doing and want to tell the world about it—even if it’s just a small one. If the cheapest customer is always your existing one, the easiest community to build is the one you already have. So, look for ways to help your current advocates help you, and thank them when they do.

At JIGGY, we make it clear on our product packaging and website how puzzlers can share their progress on social, tagging us and the artist who designed the puzzle artwork. We also always react or share their posts on our stories to show how much we appreciate them (and encourage them to continue sharing!).

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Olivia White (@ohleeeevia)

JIGGY’s customers love sharing their puzzling journey—and we’ve made it easy for them to help spread the word about our brand in the process.

At theSkimm, a simple prompt in our daily newsletter to share it with a friend evolved into an entire ambassador program (called Skimm’bassadors), with detailed guidance on how to best spread the word and tiered perks based on the number of referrals. For a long time, we even chose incentives that cost us almost nothing and further drove community engagement: access to a private Facebook group, invites to Skimm events, and the chance to meet the team.

Whatever you do, taking a little time now to support and appreciate your biggest fans will save you a lot of money in the long run when it comes to your community growth.

2. Bring Your Followers Into the Business-Building Process

Traditional marketing is a one-way conversation, but to build a strong community, you should create opportunities for your customers to feel like they have a voice, too.

Again, this doesn’t have to be complex. Our JIGGY team makes sure to respond to every customer email we get so our users know they are being heard. We keep an ear to the ground and make product decisions based on what our customers want, letting them know when we’ve addressed their feedback. We ask our followers for their thoughts on ideas we’re considering, rather than just trying to read their minds. Even a simple Instagram poll can be engaging and insightful.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by JIGGY (@jiggypuzzles)

When we released our first kids puzzle, we emphasized that this decision came from customer requests.

By treating your customer community as a very large board of advisors, you may also start to feel confident trying half-baked ideas to see what kind of reaction you get. For instance, when we were figuring out how to monetize our newsletter at theSkimm, we simply told our readers, “We’re going to start putting some ads in, let us know what you think!” By staying transparent and opening up this line of communication, our users felt more invested in what we were doing—and more forgiving as we figured it out.

3. Encourage Connections Within Your Community

The real magic of a brand community starts happening when you help users build connections with each other.

About a year after we started doing events for our Skimm’bassadors, we did a user survey, and found that a huge indicator of satisfaction was the people our users were meeting through the group: new friendships, professional connections, even some romantic relationships.

Early on with JIGGY, we saw a ton of organic engagement on social between our customers and the artists who create the work for our puzzles, and we found that it made both communities feel more dedicated to what our brand is doing. More recently, we noticed users having puzzle parties over Zoom—so decided to launch the Puzzle Club to help further encourage this kind of engagement.

How to Build a Meaningful (and Massive) Community, From Someone Who’s Done it Twice

Puzzle Club members get the same exclusive puzzle every month so they can all share their progress, as well as opportunities to interact with JIGGY artists—both great drivers of deeper community.

Think of ways to bring your community together, and then step back and watch the real connections start to happen.

4. Stay Guided by Your Why

Ultimately, none of this works if you don’t have a deeper why behind your brand. At theSkimm, that was about being informed and connected with current events in the world around you. At JIGGY, it's about reconnecting with downtime and practicing mindful self care while also supporting independent artists. People want to be part of these communities because they want to be around like-minded people.

It’s not just about stating your values—it’s about living them out in your branding, your copy, and even your business decisions. In the early months of Covid-19, we ran out of product and couldn't restock because of supply chain issues. All we had access to was blank puzzles so, after hearing about the financial struggles our artists were having, we had them draw one-of-a-kind puzzles on these blanks and auctioned them off for charity and artist relief. This didn’t benefit our bottom line, but helped puzzlers stay engaged with our company even when we couldn’t sell them anything, supported our artist community, and reinforced what we’re all about as a company.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by JIGGY (@jiggypuzzles)

During the early months of Covid, our Jiggy Originals campaign supported our artist community and drove a deeper connection with our puzzlers.

Communities don’t rally behind a product—they rally behind values that matter to them or a lifestyle they identify with. Figure yours out, live it out in the brand, and make sure you really care about your customers along the way, and you’ll be amazing at the dedicated following you can build.

- Ariana Wolf
Personal Brand, Meet Business Brand: How Small Business Owners Can Make Them Work Together
Personal Brand, Meet Business Brand: How Small Business Owners Can Make Them Work Together

Building a unique, authentic brand is essential for any business. A strong identity helps customers understand who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

But many founders confuse their business brand with their personal brand. And while combining them may work for a select few, it’s not the right approach for most.

In my experience as a creative, brand strategist, and coach for small businesses and startups, separating your personal brand from your business both strengthens your business and allows individual autonomy and professional growth.

If you have a public persona of any kind—and if you’re a small business owner, you likely do—I highly recommend creating an entirely separate business brand, and using a “personal professional” brand platform to share insights into your life.

Here’s why:

You’ll have freedom to grow beyond your business: Many entrepreneurs end up writing a book, becoming a public speaker, or starting a new project or venture. Your personal professional brand is a perfect platform for sharing and promoting this type of work while still allowing the business to continue to operate as normal.You can better hone your business brand: Separating all of your professional interests from the main aim of your company strengthens your business’s brand by allowing it to be more focused and intentional.You’ll optimize your brand for growth: Even if you feel like you are your business in the beginning, if you have visions of growing a team or perhaps getting acquired, you want the business brand to stand on its own, without you. Your professional success shouldn’t hinge on your business’ success.You are more than your business: Employers, clients, and partners often want to experience a more dimensional understanding of who you are. What causes do you stand for? What other professional groups are you a part of? What creative endeavors or interests round out who you are?

Convinced? Great. Now, here’s how to do it:

Creating Your Personal Professional Brand

I like to think of your personal professional brand as an expanded Linkedin profile. It's a work-related online identity that goes beyond your business or company.

Personal Brand, Meet Business Brand: How Small Business Owners Can Make Them Work TogetherMy personal professional brand is all about my skill set and background—not just about my current business.

People often confuse this with a personal brand; however, I find it helpful to distinguish the two. In the past, I struggled with determining what to keep private and what to share publicly. How much of myself is needed to feel authentic without feeling like the whole world knows all my secrets (the “personal branding” approach that many take on social media)?

Creating a “personal professional brand” has been the solution: On my website and social media, I share causes I believe in, projects I’m a part of, and even sometimes a bit of my every day, like photos from a recent trip or a picture of my family. I like to think about it as “HR-appropriate”—if I’m interviewing for any type of position, partnership, or client deal, this personal professional brand would help tell a broader story of who I am.

Personal Brand, Meet Business Brand: How Small Business Owners Can Make Them Work TogetherMy personal professional brand is a mix of career accomplishments and personal facts that give a sense of my personality.

Are there exceptions? Of course! If your personal professional brand is your business brand—many authors, speakers, coaches, and thought leaders fall into this category—then having one brand might make sense.

But otherwise, keep them separate but direct them to each other. Here’s how this might work:

Build a Personal Professional Website

I always recommend securing the domain name for yourname.com (or something very similar), as a home for your personal professional brand. Don't want to maintain this type of website in addition to your business website? I didn’t, either, so I created a page for myself on my company’s website. My personal professional site, arianawolf.com, simply redirects to flightdesign.co/ariana-wolf. But, if I ever want to separate them down the line, I can, and no one has taken the URL with my name.

Show up on Social—But Only Where you Shine

As a small business owner (especially one who reads this blog), you likely know the power of social media for your company. You’re probably also stressed about managing your platforms for both your business and your personal account.

Here’s your permission to not be active on all platforms if you don’t want to be. Unlike your business, you really don’t need them all. Instead, think about the site that you enjoy most and will highlight your work best, and focus your personal professional brand efforts there.

For a lot of folks, that's Twitter, because it’s quick and easy. For more visual people, it’s Instagram. Being in a creative field, my clients like to know that I’m creatively minded, so I focus mostly on Instagram, where I share photography I’ve taken.

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A post shared by Ariana Wolf (@simply_ariana)

My Instagram showcases my photography—a creative habit that relates to my business but that’s also uniquely my personal professional brand.

Speaking of social media, a quick note on LinkedIn. While many people default to “Owner of Company” in their title, it’s worth adding a few other descriptors about who you are and what you’re best at to your title. That way, if someone is searching for an expert or speaker and comes across your profile, they’ll get a sense of who you are outside of your business.

Build Your Thought Leadership

Finding opportunities to share your expertise, like writing articles or appearing on podcasts, is a great way to get visibility for both your business and your personal professional brand. When you have these opportunities, you can and should mention your company, but you should also share your philosophies and what you stand for as a professional outside of your current role.

For example, I was recently interviewed for a podcast where I talked about my brand philosophy. Yes, that’s something I do at work every day, but it’s also advice I bring when I’m consulting other startups or sitting on advisory boards. It’s part of who I am outside of my business.

Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Personality Shine

I personally believe—for brands and for people—that the thing that makes you a little bit quirky is what makes it easy for others to connect with you. So, as you’re developing your personal professional brand, don’t be afraid to let those things shine! Do you love roller skating? Have an epic collection of Star Wars miniatures? Those fun hobbies might not get to take center stage in your business's brand, but they’ll add an element of interest, intrigue, and connection to your personal professional brand. After all, they’re what make you, you—and that’s what branding is all about.

- Stefan Palios
Why Damian Fagon Wants More Black People to Become Cannabis Farmers
Why Damian Fagon Wants More Black People to Become Cannabis Farmers

Cannabis cultivation is a taboo subject in the United States, particularly in non-white communities.

Not only are there access barriers to non-white communities learning about cannabis cultivation, there’s a strong negative stigma associated with Black people and cannabis, part of the generations-long ‘war on drugs’ in the United States.

Damian Fagon, the founder of Gullybean, wants to change the script, sharing cannabis cultivation knowledge so more people, especially Black and Brown people, can access the multi-billion dollar opportunity of cannabis.

Featuring insights from Buffer’s Small Business, Big Lessons podcast episode eight and the accompanying unpublished interview, Damian shared his journey from cannabis farmer, to teacher, to business accelerator leader, and the economics behind why he focuses so hard on encouraging people to become cannabis farmers.

Why Damian Fagon Wants More Black People to Become Cannabis FarmersDamian Fagon, Founder of GullybeanFinding farming and facing challenges

After years in the Peace Corps in Guatemala and a few more in Washington, DC at the State Department, Damian Fagon wanted a change.

Instead of focusing exclusively on diplomacy, he wanted to work in economic development. This shift brought him to New York City, where he did his Masters of Public Administration at Columbia’s School for International and Public Affairs (SIPA). While there, he said he balanced business education with policy work, explicitly focusing on learning how he might help farmers get better yields from their crops. His goal was to return to Guatemala and other South American countries to help economic development through farming.

Damian realized that while the medical cannabis market is fairly large (around $5 billion in the United States), it pales in comparison to other types of crop farming. However, the possibility for cannabis plants, he said, have multiple other use cases from textiles to plastic alternatives. But there’s one key problem: the war on drugs.

“The problem with the crop and with the genetics we have access to, is that the United States spent the last 80 years with a federal ban on studying and growing the cannabis crop,” said Damian.

After graduating from Columbia, Damian found investors in Philadelphia who would back him in a cannabis farming operation in rural South Carolina. Unfortunately, the crop failed and Damian returned to New York City.

Determined to figure things out, Damian spent a lot of time - and money - learning the ropes of cannabis farming from consultants in states that had legalized recreational cannabis. As he flew around and paid consultants, he couldn’t help notice how gatekept this knowledge truly was.

“The people who've had access to growing cannabis own farms and they own land, and they live in communities that have very traditional agricultural roots,” said Damian. “And only 2% of farmers nationally are Black, and so the disparities that already existed in agriculture and land access are just being amplified in the cannabis space.”

After learning more about cannabis farming, he set up shop in the Hudson Valley in New York. Unfortunately, though, he had to deal with significant challenges around fitting in as a non-white person (and immigrant to town) in a region that’s majority white and settled for generations.

“I'm not saying that all the people in these communities are racist, but they don't have a lot of experience in diverse conversation, diverse engagements,” said Damian. “There's not a lot of immigrants moving out there either. So, that challenge is very real and very, very personal.”

From farming to business incubation

After successfully navigating cannabis farming in the Hudson Valley, Damian wanted to leverage his knowledge to have a wider economic impact for Black and Brown people in urban areas.

First, he started teaching at Medgar Evers College, a historically Black college (HBCU) in Brooklyn. He not only taught the agricultural tools of farming, but also brought in the business side, especially the opportunity in cannabis cultivation.

“I'll be teaching horticulture, but a lot of it will be a larger discussion on the supply chain business opportunities in cannabis so that people can actually see it the way it exists in other states and identify places where they can position themselves to make money [or] start a business,” said Damian.

Second, he started working on a much larger project in the Bronx: a cannabis business incubator.

“The idea with that project specifically is to create a facility and an environment wherein interested people in the Bronx - entrepreneurs, formerly incarcerated people who formerly grew cannabis in the basements of public housing in the Bronx and were arrested for it - those people can access our facility, rent equipment and launch their own cannabis businesses,” said Damian.

The goals of this incubator, said Damian, are three-fold:

1. Micro-cultivation pods: These pods will allow people to rent equipment and space to start growing cannabis legally on a micro-scale.

“The facility will be designed in a way where growers, particularly first time growers from the city, from the Bronx, [can] pursue a micro business license,” said Damian.

2. Cannabis education: Spreading knowledge of cannabis farming, the economic opportunity behind it, and the job opportunities for people who don’t want to start a business right away. This arm, said Damian, will be run by a nonprofit organization set up by Damian and his team.

“They have a lot of experience working with marginalized communities, formerly incarcerated, formerly homeless, particularly young people, helping them get jobs in high demand industries,” said Damian.

3. A business within the incubator: Damian said this part is still being fleshed out, but he wants to see the incubator run its own cannabis cultivation business so it has an active revenue stream to fund other activities.

“I do want that facility to have its own business that can make it self-sustaining,” said Damian. “There will obviously be a level of profit sharing with those who come in and utilize the spaces to start their businesses, to pay for the overhead, but I don't want to start something that is reliant on continuous funding and sponsorship from donors and corporate sponsors.”

A global impact waiting to be recognized

There are so many possibilities for cannabis, whether medicinal or industrial, beyond recreational use. And Damian sees this potential as a massive way to uplift historically impoverished nations.

“I saw that crop as potentially transformative for the global south, specifically West Africa, Caribbean, Latin America, Southeast Asia; some of these regions that are perfectly suited for cannabis commercial cultivation, and I wanted to learn how to grow the crop,” said Damian.

Thinking about the reason why he landed on cannabis farming as his means of economic development, he ties it back to his family and his passion. Even the name gullybean, for example, came from a crop his father still farms in his native Jamaica.

“I fell in love with farming through Gullybean,” said Damian. “... With adult-use cannabis legalization in New York, there has never been a better opportunity if you're interested in inclusive economic development [and] generating wealth in low-income communities… there's never been a better time to be focused on the cannabis market.”

- Hailley Griffis
21 Small Business Brands We Love
21 Small Business Brands We Love

At Buffer, we're determined to help small business owners grow their brands on social media and beyond. As a result, we’ve come across so many companies doing incredible things. As we finish off this year, we wanted to share some of our favorites.Wondering how we chose them? We particularly admire brands that:

Have established a solid brand identity: The best brands ensure that everything from their products to their website and social content to their community engagement is consistent with an overarching brand strategy. This includes visuals like logos, packaging, and product photography, as well as the business’ values and voice. (Here’s our advice for creating your own impactful brand.)Pursue a higher purpose: At Buffer, we love businesses that have a mission to positively contribute to their communities and the world in some way. As it turns out, consumers like this, too. One study shows customers are four times more likely to buy something from a mission-driven brand. The brands below all give back in some way, such as donating with each purchase, providing free education and job training, and elevating marginalized voices.Maintain a strong social presence: Regular social media activity is key to becoming a top-of-mind brand, and these companies keep the great content coming. (We know creating consistent, high-quality content can be intimidating, so we put together some tips for doing so.)

If you’re looking to create a memorable brand and grow your business in 2022, take a cue from these 21 brands that have truly impressed us (in no particular order).

21 Small Business Brands We Love1. The Peony Collective21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWOUATqgsW2/

This woman-owned business aims to help female entrepreneurs hone their Instagram skills and grow their businesses. To that end, The Peony Collective’s Instagram account is full of inspiring advice that helps female founders push through tricky entrepreneurial times and stay focused on their goals.

2. Fréres Branchiaux21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSK6DP9rCwv/

Started and managed by three brothers, Fréres Branchiaux makes eco-friendly candles. They have a customer recycling program, donate 10% of profits to homeless shelters, and have a meaningful, joyful social presence.

3. Made with Local21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CU-tBW3pimK/

This food provider sources ingredients from local farmers and partners with an organization that helps those with intellectual disabilities find employment. They also have some of the best food photography we’ve seen.

4. Askinosie Chocolate21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVTObYqJutR/

Askinosie wants to make the best craft chocolate in the world. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On Instagram, they provide followers with a behind-the-scenes look at their farming and direct trade practices, in addition to showing how they give back to communities around the world with Chocolate University.

5. Paynter Jacket Co21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWn4y-kIf0V/

Paynter’s founders are adamant about not producing any more waste. That’s why, despite increasingly high demand (which they achieved by building in public) they only release a limited number of jackets four times a year and recycle the leftover fabric and water used to make them.

6. Partake21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVnknicNAQa/

Partake offers delicious snacks every child can enjoy because they don’t contain the top eight food allergens, GMOs, or preservatives. Through their partnership with the Food Equality Initiative, Partake also helps ensure families in need have access to healthy food.

7. Hiki21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUFoMm5rzoe/

This personal care company helps people address their sweat. In addition to partnering with Sad Girls Club and Sad Boys Club in an effort to destigmatize mental health, Hiki makes sure to infuse positive mental health messaging throughout their social media feeds.

8. Omsom21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CR1qG3bsX0E/

By bringing delicious and authentic Southeast Asian and East Asian flavors to every kitchen, the Vietnamese-American sisters who started Omson are elevating and celebrating Asian American communities. And their bright, bold branding, which pops out on their packaging and all over their Instagram account, makes trying these flavor packets even harder to resist.

9. Wonderpuff21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CM7FPxJn3dv/

The Morins started Wonderpuff during a period of heightened social unrest in the U.S. They wanted to lead with love and bring more joy (and glitter) to the world. Wonderpuff’s platform also aims to promote and support others, specifically Black, Muslim, and female voices.

10. KANKAN21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVv6y8sIbvx/

KANKAN puts soap (and other personal hygiene products) in a can in the hopes that their refillable model will help reduce the use of single-use plastics in the world. Almost as inspiring as this mission: the beautifully designed Instagram grid.

11. Bed Threads21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRw7TxKBQ9P/

All we can say is, wow. Bed Threads has one of the most breathtakingly beautiful social media feeds we’ve ever come across.

12. Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CW6OEhvrXRL/

The owners of this bookstore and cafe wanted to create a space for underserved communities. Their social media is the perfect combination of promoting books, their community, and the causes they’re passionate about (and coffee, too, of course).

13. Kido21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWIyofALO9y/

This children’s boutique focuses on making kids of all colors, abilities, cultures, and backgrounds feel like they belong. Their events, like story time and dance classes, allow parents and kids from all over the world to connect in a safe space.

14. Sh*t That I Knit21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKWf9AZjSwF/

Their products are warm, cozy, and look good. They’re handmade by working moms in Peru, and the company donates “Knit Kits” to young adults going through cancer treatment.

15. Ground Up Nut Butters21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWUKL67P5r5/

Each adorably packed nut butter is made by a womxn overcoming adversity. Ground Up provides a six- to nine-month employment training program to help them develop skills and move onto the next step in their job journey.

16. AfroPick21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CHOH5pvlT48/

These beautifully-designed combs aren’t just a hair styling tool. They’re a symbol and celebration of Black stories, culture, and solidarity—and this is exactly what you can find on their social platforms, as well.

17. Kiramoon21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWizfwmBYS8/

Kiramoon’s skincare products exclude harmful ingredients and help reduce the mental health stigma. A portion of every order is donated to a non-profit called Bring Change to Mind.

18. Jungalow21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CTpiUUVprZ-/

Purchasing home decor from Jungalow can add some joy and color to your life, as well as add new trees to the planet. (So far, the company has planted almost 77,000 trees!) Jungalow’s bold, colorful patterns and designs make them an instantly recognizable and unforgettable brand.

19. Red Bay Coffee21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CW3xZwfLBsE/

The founders of Red Bay Coffee are equally passionate about two things: high-quality coffee and radical inclusivity. In addition to making sure their farmers receive fair wages, they also focus on hiring people of color, those with disabilities, and the formerly incarcerated.

20. inkWELL Press21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSW5BI2ldOY/

inkWELL’s planners and accessories help people stay organized. The company also regularly donates their products to teachers, women’s shelters, and residential treatment centers.

21. Raven Reads21 Small Business Brands We LoveSource: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUunRHjL4vu/

The books and gifts included in these boxes are created by Indigenous authors and entrepreneurs. The goal is to elevate Indigenous voices, cultures, and histories, both in the products they sell and the content they post online.

Want even more inspiration for growing your business in 2022? Check out the latest episode of Buffer’s Small Business, Big Lessons podcast.

- Hailley Griffis
How to Hire a Social Media Manager: Our Exact Process and Job Description
How to Hire a Social Media Manager: Our Exact Process and Job Description

For any company, building and maintaining a social media presence is a key marketing strategy for reaching more potential customers. A company’s social media profiles also act as a space where anyone can get to know your company much better, helping to build a stronger online brand. While we know a lot of small business owners who manage their own social media profiles and love doing it, for some it makes more sense to bring on a dedicated social media manager to free up their time and creative energy.

I’ve recently been going through the process of hiring a social media manager for Buffer so I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far to help anyone else who wants to bring on a social media manager for their team. I've broken it down into five sections: writing a job description, crafting a custom application, promoting the role, and the interview process. Plus, I also included our entire job description at the end. Feel free to grab any part of it that you might need for your own listing!

Let's dive in! ✨

1. Write a Thoughtful Job Description

The first step in any hiring process is writing a strong job description. While this is necessary for promoting the job, it’s also an exercise in defining exactly what you want out of this role.

Take the time to really dig deep into your business needs, asking questions like:

How much experience do I want this person to have? A mistake I see many business owners make is outsourcing social media to an intern or junior hire to save money. This can work if you’re prepared to provide training and support, but if you aren't, then you should aim to hire someone with more experience. What resources will I be able to provide? Expecting a social media manager to run social strategy and create videos and visual elements and write copy and do customer support and run ads and report on analytics—as you can tell, it’s a lot. Think about what your key needs are and what resources you have to help cover some of the other bases.What channels do I want them to focus on? I always recommend brands focus on their social media marketing on one or two channels, rather than trying to be great at them all. Given how many specialties there are in social media marketing, you should also look for candidates with specific experience in those channels. It’s also important to consider whether you want someone with more experience on paid or organic since those are such different skill sets.

At Buffer, we ultimately decided we wanted a candidate who is skilled at organic Twitter, who has specific experience in our industry, and who is strong in community management (but not necessarily customer support, since we have resources for that).

Check out our final job description at the end of this post, which you can adapt to your own needs, at the end of this article.

2. Craft a Custom Application

In addition to asking candidates for a resume and cover letter, we included custom application questions, which can help you quickly get a good sense of which candidates are right for your company.

Ours were:

Share your Twitter account:If you don’t have a Twitter account, describe your experience on Twitter: (In 280 characters or less.)Share the link to a tweet you’re proud of that you sent from a brand account as an example:Why did you choose that tweet? (In 280 characters or less.)Share the link to a social media graphic or short-form video content that you created:What’s your favorite social network? Why? (In 280 characters or less.)What do you think is the future of organic social media? (In 280 characters or less.)How would you respond to the following tweets as Buffer’s Social Media Manager? (In 280 characters or less.)

Some things to consider when writing application questions for your brand:

Hone in on the platforms you’re focusing on. Again, it was most important to us that we find someone great with Twitter, so many of our questions were aimed at understanding their experience there. If you’re spending more time on Instagram, you might ask questions like: What are your favorite Instagram features? Which do you think would be strongest for our brand? If TikTok is a focus: What’s an example of a TikTok you created for a brand? What TikTok trends do you think are aligned with our brand?Request responses in social media format. Because Twitter is so key for us, I limited responses to 280 characters or less, and I’m glad I did. For one, it made applications much faster to review. But it also helped me test whether applicants could communicate succinctly, which is critical for social media. If you’re hunting for an Instagram or TikTok pro, you might get creative, asking them to create short-form videos in response.Put them to work for your brand. Including a very small assignment as part of the initial application can help you get a quick gauge if a candidate understands your brand voice, which can be hard to teach if it’s not already aligned. We chose to ask people to respond to a few sample tweets.3. Promote the Role on Social (Of Course!)

My biggest piece of advice for getting your job listing in front of the right candidates is to promote it using social media, given that’s where they’re already hanging out. If you’re looking for a Twitter pro, make sure to tweet the job posting—both from your brand account and the personal accounts of teammates related to the role.

We have a newsletter that goes out to anyone interested in jobs at Buffer when we open a new role, and in addition to that, I personally shared the listing on Twitter and LinkedIn. It got a ton of traction on both platforms and made it easy for other folks both from Buffer and from outside of Buffer to easily share it, too.

We're hiring for some fun roles on @buffer's Marketing team: 👩🏻‍💻 Social Media Manager 👩🏻‍💻 Community Manager 👩🏻‍💻 Product Marketing Manager Buffer is: 🌏 Fully distributed 💸 Transparent with pay ❤️ A great bunch of folksMore ⬇️https://t.co/d6LqiEL38r

— Hailley Griffis (@hailleymari) November 29, 2021

Ultimately, we promoted the role for three weeks and ended up with 704 candidates. We expected a large pool of candidates for this role since this is our industry. Depending on your size and how much you’re promoting, I’d recommend giving it at least four to six weeks to give people time to apply. You can always review candidates on a rolling basis, too.

Learn more about using social media to hire for your business from Buffer’s Director of People, Nicole Miller.

4. Structure the Interview Process for Success

Interview processes can vary wildly depending on your style, the size of your company, and more, but there are a few practices that have helped us identify the right candidates:

Consider a test assignment. We start our interview process for roles with a lot of applicants with a take-home assignment, which is helpful for us to further narrow down candidates. Even if you have a smaller pool, it can be a valuable way for you to test other skills. For instance, if you got a sense of their content creation in the initial application, you might test their strategic abilities by asking them to create a content calendar for one week.Dig into soft skills. By the time you sit down to talk to a candidate, you likely have a good sense of their social media abilities and qualifications, so spend the interview digging more into the soft skills that are important for success in this role. Will they be able to collaborate with different teammates? Are they flexible enough to adapt as social channels change? Do they thrive on interacting with people online day after day?Include questions around culture and values. We always have an entire values interview as part of Buffer’s process, but smaller companies may just want to integrate a few values-related questions into the interview. One of my favorites: To dig into the Buffer value of “improve consistently,” we’ll often ask what someone has done recently to improve their skills in a certain area. Questions like this should help you find a candidate who is excited to work for your company and who will seamlessly fit into the ways you work.

Once you decide to hire a social media manager, you probably want to bring someone on quickly, but it’s worth taking the time you need to find the right person. This is an important role—essentially a spokesperson for your company—so it’s not the place to cut corners. By going through the process thoughtfully, you’re sure to find a hire who will not only take social off your plate, they’ll scale your channels to new heights.

Have you hired a social media manager before? If so, I'd love to hear your experience with it! Or do you have any questions I didn't cover here? Reach out anytime on Twitter.

As promised, here's the full job description we used recently. ⬇️

The Buffer Social Media Manager Job Description

As a Social Media Manager, you will own Buffer’s social media channels. In practice, this means creating written, video, and visual content across social networks, maintaining a content calendar and coordinating across teams to ensure that our social presence reflects what’s happening at Buffer. You will also be a key person in our existing community on social media, helping to make sure it is healthy and thriving and taking it to the next level through active engagement on social media. This is a key role for us as a social media software company as our social profiles are a massive part of our brand and one of the first things that our customers see and get to know us through. You’ll work closely with the rest of the Marketing team to create social media content on a weekly and monthly basis, as well as work closely with our Customer Advocacy team to keep them aware of upcoming planned content. Day-to-day, you’ll work hands-on scheduling posts, following industry trends, gathering insights, plus engaging with our community and customers, building relationships, and surfacing trends from within our community that can impact our overall strategy.

Who You’ll Work With

In this role, you’ll report to the Head of Public Relations. Day-to-day you’ll work closely with other marketing teammates as well as the agencies and freelancers that work with our marketing team. As a member of a marketing organization, you will help shape Buffer’s overall brand through exceptional social media posts and maintaining a strong brand voice and presence across platforms.

ResponsibilitiesOwn creating social media content. Coming up with ideas for ways to promote upcoming content pieces, product launches, and any other announcements ensuring content resonates with the customer and the brand. This includes creating written content, graphics, and videos ranging from several seconds to several minutes.Own the social media content calendar and planning process. Planning, managing, and coordinating the content calendar, researching upcoming relevant news, events, or holidays. Leading weekly or biweekly social content brainstorming sessions.Own community management. Responding to and engaging with our community across social media platforms, primarily Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, as well as responding to tickets in Zendesk.Experiment and use data to inform strategy. Extract insights and learnings from each social channel and from your time engaging with our community, use these insights to inform our social strategy.Advocate for our community. Within Buffer you are aware of our social media community’s perspective on various things from our product and culture and act as an advocate internally to make sure their perspective is taken into account.Keep up to date with industry trends. Ensuring to keep on top of changes and new features across platforms and easily share those updates with Buffer’s audience on social media and within the company.Be a strong Buffer voice: Adopt Buffer’s voice and tone across content work and ensure that anything published on any social channel is a good fit for Buffer’s brand and voice.QualificationsMust have prior experience creating social media content for a brand, preferably a software company.Must have experience creating social media graphics and short-form video content, like Instagram Reels or TikToks.Must have experience using tools to plan and collaborate on social media posts with several teammates.Must have prior experience engaging with a community on social media and building relationships online.Excited and energized at the prospect of spending the day-to-day creating, scheduling, and posting content as well as engaging with our community on social media.Outstanding written and verbal communication skills: You care about producing content that will resonate with a broad global audience.Ability to create engaging content and ensure a consistent brand voice.Strong understanding of important social media metrics and data.Bias towards action with an ability to have a high output in the form of creating social media posts.
- Stefan Palios
Inside Sabai Design’s Sustainability Approach to Building a Business
Inside Sabai Design’s Sustainability Approach to Building a Business

It’s hard to overstate the importance of furniture in our lives.

We literally live our life on furniture, yet often don’t realize the impact our chosen furnishings have on the planet in terms of chemicals, greenhouse gasses, and material waste.

Phantila Phataraprasit learned about sustainability early in life and wanted to build the kind of sustainable brand she’d be proud to shop at, so she decided to do something about it and co-founded Sabai Design, a sustainable furniture company.

Featuring insights from Buffer’s Small Business, Big Lessons podcast episode seven, and the accompanying unpublished interview, Phantila shared how Sabai got started, what she and her team do to embed sustainability into every business practice, and how she builds trust with the Sabai community.

Inside Sabai Design’s Sustainability Approach to Building a BusinessPhantila Phataraprasit, Co-founder of Sabai DesignStarting sustainable

Phantila had a unique experience that drove her toward sustainability: she lived at an eco-lodge that her parents started and ran in Thailand.

That experience showed her how critical sustainability really is not just for business, but for preserving the natural beauty of our world. As a result, Phantila often says she is willing to prioritize sustainability above all else, being willing to pay more and even forgo aesthetic taste in the name of being sustainable.

However, this approach was no longer enough. She valued sustainability, but she also wanted to live the life of her choosing, not dictated by the small supply of “sustainable” items out there. And one area, in particular, stuck out, both from a sustainability and design perspective: furniture.

“Not only do a ton of valuable resources go into making these products but at the same time, every year, over nine million tons of furniture waste ends up in landfills,” said Phantila. “At the same time, a lot of furniture products include toxic materials and chemicals that off-gas and end up in our bloodstreams are also dangerous to people generally.”

An entrepreneur at heart, Phantila wanted to start a sustainable furniture company not just to solve her own problem but also make it easier for others to live more sustainable lives. However, she knew that she had to focus on more than just material sustainability.

“The whole mission behind the company is to think about sustainability as comprehensively as possible,” said Phantila.

In specific, she co-founded Sabai Design with four key outcomes in mind:

Affordability: Sustainability had often been used as a reason to charge higher prices, but Phantila wanted to build a business where items were fairly priced and affordable.

Convenience: Sustainability should not be at the expense of convenience, so the team worked to ensure it was easy to buy and receive their products.

Aesthetic: Products should have a clear aesthetic that is appealing to people versus using sustainability to justify limited aesthetics.

Sustainability: Not just sustainability in the product itself, but the entire business and product life cycle.

“We realized that for most people, if the pieces or products aren't also aesthetically pleasing, affordable, convenient, then sustainability doesn't really matter for them.” said Phantila. “And so, we kind of realized that you can't really ask people to sacrifice on those things if you really want to make an impact.”

Embedding sustainability through every business practice

As Phantila built Sabai Design, she thought consciously about her four pillars of affordability, convenience, aesthetic, and sustainability. In particular, making sure that the entire business acted in accordance with those pillars versus just using sustainability in product development.

Across Sabai’s business, Phantila and the team thought about embedding sustainability.

Design: Every product is built in modular pieces. This means if something breaks or needs to be replaced, it can be done without having to throw out or replace the whole thing.

Shipping: The company tries to minimize the transport required to source and deliver its products, thus reducing greenhouse gasses emitted as a result of business growth.

End of product life: Not only does Sabai manage its own buy-back and second hand sales operation, but it also donates products that don’t sell second hand after three months.

“We definitely do recurring audits or analyses of our products to make sure that there aren't any areas that we're missing out on in terms of being able to limit the impact of our products or incorporate new, innovative materials into our products,” said Phantila.

This mentality is, thankfully, not exclusive to Sabai. Other brands like Paynter Jacket Co also think consciously about waste and sustainability and go about it in innovative ways. In the case of Paynter, the company only releases its jackets four times per year. For Sabai, sustainable growth starts with listening intently to customers. After all, Phantila explained, making things people don’t want will just produce more waste.

“With respect to product design, we do a lot of polls, a lot of survey work to make sure that we're designing and producing products that people actually want because at the end of the day, if we're producing things that people don't want, that's waste in another way,” said Phantila.

Transparency builds trust and business growth

After years of building Sabai, Phantila is keenly aware that sustainability isn’t a big bang. You get things wrong, as she has multiple times. But the key to continuing on the journey, said Phantila, is honesty and transparency.

She gets concerned when she hears of companies that market being “sustainable” because one element of the business is slightly more environmentally friendly than the norm. For her, building with sustainability also means sharing what you’re doing with your community. This ends up being a great community building tool, but Phantila said it’s also about education - she doesn’t assume people know about sustainability throughout entire business models, so she uses Sabai as a working example of how the process looks.

When Sabai misses the mark, Phantila is also honest with her community. While this might seem like the wrong way to build a business, Phantila said it generates a lot of trust and compassion with customers, meaning that they are more forgiving and allow leeway to let the company get back on the right track.

“The amount of transparency that we have with our customers definitely generates a lot of trust, because they understand that we are doing things that are new, that don't necessarily have a roadmap for them, and that we're trying things to improve the impact of our products,” said Phantila. “And so that generates so much goodwill within our community and gives us a lot of space to be honest with them about the things that we're trying and the things that we're trying.”

- Sophie Gil
Ask the Buffer Team: What If I Don’t Have Anything to Share on Social Media?
Ask the Buffer Team: What If I Don’t Have Anything to Share on Social Media?

Q: Help! I’m usually good at regularly posting to my company’s social accounts every day, but sometimes I’m at a total loss. Is it better to skip a day, or to post something just to stay on schedule?

The task of coming up with new, engaging content on a regular basis can make social media daunting—we know. Even if you have a solid social media strategy in place, you might still get stumped on what to share from time to time and be tempted to forgo that schedule you set out for yourself.

Running out of new content ideas is a common pain point, whether you’re just starting to share your brand on social media or you’re a seasoned pro. Here are a few tactics I recommend for overcoming that mental block.

1. Remember That Consistency Is Key

First thing’s first: I do suggest sticking to a consistent schedule of posts. By posting regularly, your brand will stay top of mind with your audience. Over time, they’ll even start to expect posts from you, which can lead to higher engagement. Not to mention, posting at a regular cadence will help you stay in the habit of creating content.

That said, a consistent schedule looks different for everyone. Some brands post three times per week, while others post three times per day. What’s right for you depends on many factors, including your audience, its size, and what your followers are looking for.

Each platform offers its recommendations for the best days and times to post, but typically, those are incredibly broad. Instead, seek to learn what works best for your specific audience.

Here’s how: Pick a platform, then post three times per week for an entire month. Then, up that to seven times per week for the next month, and 14 times for the month after that.

Three months of data will allow you to gather insight via Buffer’s analytics dashboard. Check out the “Answers” tab, and you’ll be able to see when, what, and how often to post to maximize your reach and engagement.

Ask the Buffer Team: What If I Don’t Have Anything to Share on Social Media?Buffer’s analytics dashboard can show you exactly when, and how often, to post.

If you saw higher engagement during one month over another, commit to that cadence going forward. Continue to monitor your stats month over month to see what dates, times, and posting schedules work best. One last thing to keep in mind, though: Brands should strike a balance between being consistently informative and being annoying. If you’re seeing any decline in your numbers after upping your posting schedule, consider pulling back.

When you feel more confident about the best approach for your audience, it can inspire you to stick to your posting schedule and give them the content they’ve come to expect.

2. Think Big(ger)

You know you have to post a certain number of times each week, but how do you come up with new content?

Some weeks, this will be simple: You had a big product announcement, you wrote a new blog post, you saw a meme you just had to recreate. Other weeks, you’ll be staring at a blinking cursor on a Monday morning, wondering what to share.

But, instead of closing the tab and not sharing at all, push yourself to think outside the box.

If, for example, you published a blog post last week and shared it with a link and a caption, think about how you might reshare it differently. Create a short graphic that pulls key data from the post, or pull out a favorite quote and make a visual. Canva is a great tool to create engaging graphics (and Buffer’s integration with Canva makes it incredibly easy).

Ask the Buffer Team: What If I Don’t Have Anything to Share on Social Media?We recently launched a new version of our social media calendar. To share the news again, but in a different way, we created a visual quote from our Product Manager.

It can be helpful to see what other people are posting, too, or if anything relevant is trending. If a news story broke that will have an impact on your industry, share your thoughts. If it’s International Coffee Day and you sell alternatives to milk, create a graphic that ties the two of them together.

Ask the Buffer Team: What If I Don’t Have Anything to Share on Social Media?In the month of October, everyone’s talking about scary movies. Snack brand Partake Foods jumped on the trend by creating pairings between film favorites and their treats.

Also look at your best-performing posts to see what topics your audience enjoys, then make use of each platform’s different features to test out new content along those themes. Try carousels on Instagram’s feed, or use the engagement tools in Stories. Go live on Facebook, or write a LinkedIn article. You might discover that your audience engages more with a different kind of post, and you would never have known that if you didn’t push yourself to try something new.

Bonus: Buffer’s Head of PR, Hailley Griffis, offers even more ideas for consistently coming up with new content in this article.

3. Create a Backlog

As you continue to brainstorm content ideas, create a running list of things you like and want to test. These aren’t action items you need to do something about right away. Instead, they’ll offer inspiration the next time you’re stuck for something to post.

Create a saved folder on Instagram of things you’ve seen other brands do, take screenshots of Facebook posts you like, or pull links from LinkedIn that you’d like to emulate. These will be great thought-starters and reminders of how to push yourself the next time you need it.

Creating content can feel like a monumental task, for small businesses and massive influencers alike. The next time you feel stuck, use it as a growth opportunity. Push yourself to stick to your cadence, brainstorm something new and different to share, and then see how your audience reacts. You just might be onto something.

Need some help planning your content? Check out our recent post on “How to Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content.”

Have a question you'd like us to answer? Send us a tweet and use #AskTheBufferTeam.

- Christina Blacken
The Stories That Matter for Your Business: A Framework That’ll Help You Influence, Engage, and Connect
The Stories That Matter for Your Business: A Framework That’ll Help You Influence, Engage, and Connect

We instinctively use stories to understand the world around us and to influence each other. Stories are what give our ideas and experiences meaning.

I teach, speak, and write on the topic of narrative intelligence, which is the idea that stories are the most powerful tool we have for behavior change. Through my work helping leaders from Fortune 500 companies and startups alike tell stories to transform behavior, build inclusive culture, and communicate new ideas, I know the impact that stories can have. But I also know just how much business owners struggle to use stories to create an emotional connection, build their brand, and sell their bold ideas.

Why Numbers Don’t Cut It

Most business owners communicate in numbers: sharing the size of their communities, the profits they’ve generated, and the statistics behind the problem they’re solving. Numbers are an important part of your brand, but without a story, they fall flat.

In a series of studies about compassion and empathy, psychologist Paul Slovic discovered what he coined “psychic numbing”—the phenomenon describing how people ignore a problem when it is communicated solely in statistical terms.

He and co-authors demonstrate that people generate sympathy toward a story around an identifiable victim of poverty or war, but fail to do so toward statistical victims. As a result, even the most convincing data often fails to create change.

This truth is applicable even on a smaller scale. If you want to have a brand that moves people to action, you’ll need to craft a story.

The Types of Stories to Tell

Before owning my own business, I used stories to drive behavior change in media, marketing, sales, and nonprofits. I discovered that every organization goes through a series of milestones and repeating events that stories can be built around. These include:

The origin of why the organization existsAdversities the organization has to overcomeNew ideas and innovations it creates as it grows

Collecting and telling your Origin, Adversity, and Innovation stories is a powerful way to build an authentic brand that connects more deeply with the people you serve. Here’s how.

Origin Stories

Origin stories help people to understand the why behind what you do. For example, the origin story behind my company The New Quo begins with my childhood. I was raised as what I’ve coined an “extreme minority,” as I was racially, religiously, and politically different from the majority growing up in Utah. Being on the outside of so many groups informed me of how powerful narratives people pick up from education, media, family, and other institutions were for influencing biased beliefs and behavior.

I then spent a career using stories to motivate people to take action on social causes, as well as to close sales. I used story as a tool of influence but noticed how most organizations had no clue how narratives affected their cultures and leadership practices.

These experiences inspired my fascination with how narrative affects our beliefs and behaviors and motivated me to build tools to help people become better communicators and more inclusive leaders.

I now share this Origin story openly in my brand communications and thought leadership, and it helps individuals truly understand my brand and why I built my company.

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A post shared by Christina Blacken (@christinablacken)

My Origin story, which I regularly share in brand communications and on social media.

Discover your Origin story by asking yourself the following:

What problem motivated me to create the solution my company provides? What is my personal connection to this problem?What aspects of my identity and experiences shaped the values behind the solution I created?What does the company stand for outside of profit? What values drive our business decisions?Adversity Stories

Adversity stories capture the moments you’ve been able to overcome an unexpected challenge. They showcase your brand’s resilience while also making you relatable, as everyone deals with adversity in some form.

A great example of an Adversity story is when Procter & Gamble hit a business slump and realized they needed a new cleaning business. They hired a research firm, Continuum, that discovered that people were cleaning their mops as much as they were cleaning their floors. There was a clear need for a speedier clean, and perhaps a new tool.

These researchers realized just how much people hated touching dirty mops, and also that most dirt in the home is dust. The team used that knowledge to design a new cleaning tool: essentially a wet towel on a stick that could be thrown away once it was soiled.

Although this pivot challenged what they originally knew about the mop market, it created a new product that had $100 million in sales in the first year it was released and is a staple in households today.

To discover these stories, ask yourself:

What key challenges has my business overcome?What lessons were learned during these challenges, and how did they strengthen the solutions we provide?Innovation Stories

These stories capture when you’ve created new insights and connections between unlikely ideas, and they demonstrate the creativity of your brand.

A great example of an innovation story is the invention of Post-it notes. In 1974, 3M employee Arthur Fry had an “aha moment” while at church. He knew about a light adhesive developed by fellow 3M employee Spencer Silver, but no one had figured out how this new glue could be used. He realized a piece of paper with this type of adhesive on it would be a great way to mark his place in his hymnal book while singing in the church choir.

The company was initially skeptical about the product's profitability, but in 1980, the Post-it was introduced. Today, Post-it notes are sold in more than 100 countries.

This story showcases unconventional inspiration and problem solving that 3M can tell again and again to cement their brand and demonstrate their innovation.

To discover your own innovation stories, answer the following:

What unconventional connections and insights has our company made that others have not?What unexpected solutions have we generated?What about our creative process showcases our values?

Once you’ve collected your Origin, Adversity, and Innovation moments, you can begin to tell versions of these stories on social media, in long-form content, on your website, and more.

The stories we tell are powerful—personally in terms of how we feel about ourselves, and socially by how they define how others see us. The more you honestly share the truth of your experience, the more impact and results you’ll create with an authentic brand.

- Juliana Gomez
Load Fonts Fast
Load Fonts Fast

At Buffer, we’re constantly experimenting with ways we can improve our products and try out new ideas. We recently launched Start Page, a beautiful, flexible, mobile-friendly landing page that you can build in minutes and update in seconds. As a Software Engineer on Buffer’s team I’ve tackled a long list of fun projects, including Start Page. One thing I love about this project, is that as we foray deeper and deeper into user-generated content and customization, we’re discovering new engineering challenges that we haven’t had in our frontends before. In this case, we wanted to introduce 13 new font options (for a total of 16 fonts) and we wanted to make sure that they loaded nice and quickly. As I worked on this, I learned so much I didn’t know about fonts so in this post I want to share more about how we went about this for anyone facing similar challenges.

A screen capture of the Start Page app, demonstrating the new font picker functionalityFonts are render-blocking

Let’s start with the ‘why’. Fonts are generally pretty light resources, which are usually cached in browser so why is it important to ensure a quick loading strategy? Because fonts are high-priority, synchronous requests which means they’re render-blocking. If we can load fonts quickly and/or asynchronously, we can improve site speed.


Ok, so you don’t want to block your rendering, there are generally two strategies to chose from to handle text loaded before it’s custom font:

FOUT - Flash Of Unstyled TextRenders the text but with a fallback font. Google Fonts can now return with display=swap which instructs the browser to use the fallback font to display the text until the custom font has fully downloaded. If you want to be meticulous, you can find a better fallback font using this app: Font Style Matcher

FOIT - Flash Of Invisible TextHere, the text is rendered with an invisible font until the custom font has fully downloaded. This one makes more sense to use for something like a logo where the brand would be affected if rendered with a fallback font (although for a logo I’d use an SVG but examples!)

THE trick for fast fonts

The general advice nowadays is to preconnect to the font server:

<link rel="preconnect" href="https://fonts.gstatic.com/" crossorigin /> <link rel="preconnect" href="https://fonts.googleapis.com" />

then preload the fonts:

  <link       rel="preload"       as="style"       href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family={your font families here}&display=swap"     />

Finally as a fallback, request the fonts async by setting media to “print” for browsers which don’t support rel="preload" (about 12% of browsers in this the year 2021)

<link       rel="stylesheet"       href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family={your font families here}&display=swap"       media="print"       onload="this.media='all'"     />

This works because a regular stylesheet is render-blocking but a print stylesheet is assigned idle priority. After it’s loaded, the link’s media is applied to all.

Hosting your own fonts is the fastest but Google Fonts does a lot for you:Returns multiple alphabetsReturns a css file customized to the user agent that requested itWhen you have multiple fonts, it’s best to make 1 request so it's quickerYou can tailor your requests to target specific font-weights and formats (bold, italic, thin)Font Loading API

There’s a new-ish CSS Font Loading API that can request fonts on demand but I found that this doesn’t play nice with Google Fonts because you need the source URL for the fonts and the Google Fonts URL that you get isn’t the source, it’s the request. Google, along with Typekit, does have a library called Web Font Loader, that works like the Font Loading API but plays better with Google Fonts.

So what did we do in Start Page?

We implemented the popular strategy for the builder (the app itself) and while we do have some FOUT on first load ever (remember browser caching!) it’s very minimal, if seen at all. For generated pages, we get the fonts used in the theme before generating the HTML so we can inject only the fonts we need. This makes our generated pages much faster and lighter.We’re excited to see how this experiment will play out and if folks are keen to get more font options. If that’s the case, we might very well look into a more dynamic strategy (like loading only the currently used fonts on load and then sending another request if a user clicks on Appearance to change their fonts). Another option we could look into is implementing a way for requesting multiple fonts if we hosted them ourselves.That’s it for now! Thanks for making it this far, I hope this was interesting for you! Know anything neat about fonts that I didn’t mention here? Share it with us on Twitter.

Resources:The Fastest Google FontsLoading Google Fonts and any other web fonts as fast as possible in early 2021FOIT vs FOUT: a comparison on web font loadingCSS Tricks - font-display

- Hailley Griffis
What’s in a Brand? A Step-by-Step Guide for Companies at Every Size
What’s in a Brand? A Step-by-Step Guide for Companies at Every Size

Corporations like Apple, Nike, and Starbucks are known for their solid, instantly recognizable brands that are woven through everything they do. While the same can be said for many smaller businesses, building a brand from the ground up can feel daunting for entrepreneurs, especially if you’ve never done it before.

While you don’t need to spend millions creating the next iconic logo, it is worth going through the process of strategically developing your brand. Think of brand building as part of the foundation of your business. While a brand isn’t necessarily a tangible thing, it’s important for connecting with customers, shaping their perception of your company, and building trust among them. Plus, if you have a recognizable brand, it can help potential or one-time customers remember you or help you stay top of mind in the future.

These days, the strongest brands out there have a clear “why.” During every interaction with a business, customers are clear on why it exists, why it stands out, and why they should buy from it. With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step process that companies of any size can use to create a standout, memorable brand.

How do potential customers feel when they feel when they see your name, logo, and colors, or when they read your emails and social posts? Do they connect with your business? Do they want to be part of it? Will they remember it in the future? These questions are at the heart of branding.Step 1: Define “Who” Your Business Is

A business isn’t a living thing, of course, but it should embody some of the same elements. It needs to have a personality, to live by certain values, to have goals, and to provide a source of connection.

After all, a brand isn’t just a name and a logo, it’s about who your company is and how people feel when they see that name or logo. So, before you begin thinking about design elements, you have to define who your company is.

Mission and Goals

A great place to start is with your company’s mission and goals. You likely have some idea of your company’s main goals; they’re why you started your business or what you hope to achieve, both in the short and long term.

Your mission statement embodies that. Think of it as the action statement that describes what you’re aiming for and how you’re going to get there. Ideally, it should also reflect how you’ll do so in a way that stands out from other companies.

Keep it short and focused, like these well-known examples:

Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”Nordstrom: “To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”Values

Once you have your mission statement—your guiding light, so to speak—start to think about your business’ values, or the core principles you want your company and its employees to live by.

These might tangentially relate to your goals and mission, but feel free to think outside the box, too. Maybe you want to ensure that your employees and people who partner with the company feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. One of your values, then, could be honesty or openness.

Try to keep your list to the five or six you feel most strongly about. This is a lesson we learned firsthand at Buffer. Originally, we had 10 values, but we found that was too many for most employees to remember. We narrowed them down to these six in 2018:

Default to transparencyCultivate positivityShow gratitudePractice reflectionImprove consistentlyAct beyond yourself

Your mission statement and values may live on your website or social accounts, or they may exist only for you and your employees. Either way, what’s most important is determining how you will implement them and truly live by them day to day. More than just words on a page, your mission and values should be infused into every aspect of how you do business.

What’s in a Brand? A Step-by-Step Guide for Companies at Every SizeCandle company Keap’s mission and values are all about reconnecting with yourself and restoring a balance with nature, and this “why” is infused throughout every aspect of the brand’s imagery, copy, and marketing efforts. Learn more in this recent feature.Audience

The best brands don’t appeal to everyone on the planet; rather, they aim to really resonate with a specific group of people. (This is especially true for small businesses with limited inventory and marketing budgets.)

To determine who your audience (or ideal audience) is, research who tends to buy your product or service the most. Think about who you had in mind when you started the business, too. What problem are you solving, and for whom? It can also be helpful to consider who your competitors are targeting and whether you want to serve the same group of people or reach an entirely different one.

Once you have a general idea of your target demographics, develop personas for them. Have fun with it! Name these proverbial people, sketch out their personalities, and really bring them to life in your head.

A local cooking school, for example, might choose to focus on one of these specific personas:

The Savvy Gourmet: Skilled in the kitchen, these cooking aficionados love mastering new skills that’ll impress their friends and are willing to work (and pay) to do so.

The Motivated Parent: These moms, dads, and caregivers are always seeking to broaden their kids’ horizons, build their interest in cooking, and keep them entertained on rainy Saturdays.

The New Homeowner: Whether they’re new college grads, transplants from roommate-filled apartments, or people who simply never learned their way around the kitchen, these folks want to learn cooking basics in a friendly, non-judgmental environment.

Once you have these “people” in mind, it’ll be easier to develop a brand and content that speaks directly to them.

Step 2: Create a Cohesive Visual Identity

Now that you have a better idea of what you want to accomplish, what you want to stand by, and who you’re talking and selling to, you can start to create a visual identity that matches that.

Don’t even think about logos or other designed elements yet—start with the bigger picture. Consider:

What moods or emotions do you want to evoke when people see your brand?What should people believe about your company, just by looking at it?Do you want to align with industry norms or stand apart from them? For example, both financial companies and health food brands tend to use the color green, so it’s a decision for your brand whether to follow the norm or eschew it.

With this in mind, create mood boards that draw inspiration from things you see. It could be anything: the colors you see while on a walk, a design element from another brand that you’d like to emulate and make your own, or a piece of art that inspires you. Searching for brand style guides on Pinterest can also help you gather ideas.

What’s in a Brand? A Step-by-Step Guide for Companies at Every SizePinterest is an endless source of inspiration for visual identity. (Source)

Look for common themes in what you’ve pulled together. Is it colorful? Full of shades of gray? Is the imagery bright and saturated, or more muted? What does the typography look like? All of these seemingly small things send a certain message. And if that’s the message you want to send, they can start to become the visual elements of your brand.

A graphic designer can help you develop a cohesive visual identity, but there are also free resources that can help you pull these elements together. Canva, for example, offers tools for designing a logo and choosing a color palette, while Looka and Mojomox are all-in-one brand identity generators.

What’s in a Brand? A Step-by-Step Guide for Companies at Every SizeBrowse Canva’s library of color palettes, or generate your own from a photo. (Source)

No matter which approach you choose, keep the big picture in mind and ensure the logo, fonts, brand colors, and imagery will all work together in service of your mission, audience, and overall goals.

A few things to remember:

Brand colors are more than just the color on your logo. Most brands have a primary color and one to three supporting colors, including a neutral like a shade of black or white.You’ll want to choose at least two fonts: one for headlines or titles and one for supporting text.If design isn’t your forte, it’s okay to keep things simple. While it’s fun to be bold and creative, a basic logo (for example, your company name in a sleek, simple font) works perfectly well. You want your brand to stand out, but going too over-the-top can detract from a professional feel.Working with templates on sites like Canva is a great way to ensure design consistency across your website, marketing materials, social posts, and more.Step 3: Find Your Voice

People can see your brand, and now they need to hear it (or read it on their screens). The voice you use when communicating with your audience via email, on social media, and in-person is an essential part of your brand that should align with your values and visuals.

Pay attention to how you speak personally and how you speak about the business. Then go back to how your audience will best connect with you. How do they want to be spoken to? How do you want them to feel? What tone and style will help them get to know what your company is all about?

Write down a few words and phrases that come to mind. Then, as you speak to customers or write social media posts, see what’s working, what you like, and what your audience connects to. You can define and refine from there.

What’s in a Brand? A Step-by-Step Guide for Companies at Every SizeInspirational, motivational, and full of emojis and abbreviations: The Peony Collective’s brand speaks to its audience of Instagram-savvy entrepreneurs. (Source)

Here are a few things to consider as you develop your brand voice:

The overall tone you’d like to strike: Think about how, if your brand could speak, it would talk to someone. Some brands are confident and authoritative (think Apple), others are warm and welcoming (like Starbucks), and a well-done few are funny and clever (just look at Taco Bell’s Twitter feed).The words and phrases you’d like to use regularly (and avoid): This can go back to your original research on the emotions you want to evoke and your brand’s values.The writing style that you’ll use: Short, direct sentences have a different feel than longer, more detailed ones, and things like exclamation points, emojis, and slang can all contribute to a different voice and tone.

This is another great time to pull examples of things you read and like, especially if they’re for your target audience. Identifying the words, phrases, expressions, and styles that work (and those that don’t) can help you slowly build out your own brand voice.

Step 4: Let it Grow

It’s perfectly fine to tweak or modify your brand as you go. In fact, you should. Think of it as a living, breathing entity that evolves as your business and audience do, and as the world changes. While you do want to maintain consistency in your visuals and voice, it’s perfectly fine to check in every now and then and see if there are elements of your brand that you’d like to alter, update, or remove.

If your budget allows, you could perform A/B tests with members of your ideal audience to see what resonates (for instance, running two Facebook ads with different text). Use this type of research to inform a particularly tough or close decision or to solidify that your brand is having the impact you’d like it to.

Build Your Brand

Now that you know what steps you need to take to start building your own brand, grab a notebook or open a blank document and start brainstorming. Then edit and refine your work, remembering that each of the elements above should work together, staying true to your vision, your goals for your business, and of course, your “why.” It is, after all, what the most authentic, memorable brands are built on.

- Hailley Griffis
How Small Business Owners Can Find Balance in an Always-on World
How Small Business Owners Can Find Balance in an Always-on World

No matter what you do, in today’s world, it can be incredibly hard to unplug. We see this every year with our State of Remote Work report. In our most recent report, 27% of respondents shared that not being able to unplug was their biggest challenge.

For business owners, this can be even more difficult as so many parts of a business are managed online. But, that doesn’t mean you actually need to be “on” all of the time, and in fact, you might not be doing yourself or your business any favors if you are.

Our own CEO, Joel Gascoigne, has written about his experience with burnout, and he’s not alone, one study showed it affects more than half of small business owners. While it can be tempting to push yourself forward to see how much more you can do, ultimately you won’t be helping your staff, your customers, or your brand by running yourself into the ground.

If you’re seeking a bit more balance while simultaneously wanting to continue growing your business, this article is for you.

Determine Your Must-Dos

The first and arguably most challenging task is getting clear on what you need to do, versus what someone else could do or what you could eliminate from your plate altogether.

Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, created a matrix just for this purpose: Outline what is urgent and not urgent and what is important and not important. Both boxes in the top row are tasks you should continue doing and the bottom row are the tasks to either delegate or eliminate entirely.

How Small Business Owners Can Find Balance in an Always-on WorldCreated by Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the 4 Quadrants Time Management Strategy helps you to prioritize what’s on your plate. (Source)

Note that what’s important will look different for everyone. While bookkeeping, for example, is urgent—there’s not a lot of wiggle room in those tax deadlines—some business owners find it important to do it themselves, while others might find it far more valuable to delegate the task to a professional. Placing that in the “urgent but not important” category, then, allows more time for important (for you to do) responsibilities.

Learn to Delegate

Kevin Xu, a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of MEBO International and Skingenix, Inc., wrote, “If everything in your company depends on you, it can only grow as large as your personal capacity allows.” If your aim is to grow or expand, then doing everything yourself is not the answer. And if your aim is more balance, then either delegating or eliminating are your best bets.

Using your matrix above, consider who on your team might have the skills for the boxes in the “not important” (for you to do) boxes. If you are a company of one you could work with freelancers rather than grow your team. For example, you could have someone else write your social media posts and upload them into Buffer’s scheduling tool, where you can approve them before they go live. You save time writing and posting, while still having the final say.

Start by dipping your toe into the water of delegation by picking the thing you feel the least protective of. Assign it out, give others the chance to shine, and gain some of your own time back.

Set Expectations of When You’ll be on and Off

If you’re consistently taking late-night calls and answering emails as soon as they come in, then people come to expect that you’re available. Instead, set expectations for when you’re working, especially if you work across time zones or in an industry like social media that never sleeps.

Here at Buffer, we are a fully distributed team with teammates based around the world, meaning that oftentimes our working hours don’t align with each other. We’re clear with each other about when we’re each working, and we use that staggered schedule to our advantage, tackling projects asynchronously when others are sleeping.

A key, however, to setting expectations is to publicize them. For our team, our working hours are all in our Slack profiles. If your small business only responds to customer inquiries on social media from 7 am - 7 pm, note that in your account’s bio. If you’re giving your entire team a week off over the holiday, put up a message on your website and social media accounts making that clear. We close Buffer over the end of the year every year and share that information on our social profiles. Once you set that expectation externally, you don’t have the pressure of responding immediately, and people know when to expect a response.

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A post shared by Buffer (@buffer)

A few more tips from our community for avoiding burnout.

Schedule Everything

Now that you’ve sat with the idea of delegation, handed over a few responsibilities, and set expectations for when you’ll be off, it’s important to use your newfound time wisely.

According to 24 entrepreneurs, scheduling personal events in their calendar in addition to their work events is their number one tip for work-life balance. While adding a time block for dinner with your family every night or creating a recurring date night may feel odd at first, it’s a great way to protect the time you’ve carved out. Plus, you’ll be able to see everything in one place and spot if you’ve overcommitted on any given week.

As Covey once put it, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

What would you add to this list for other folks looking for more balance? Reach out to let us know!

- Stefan Palios
Why Zingerman’s Teaches All Employees About Cash Flow, Revenue, Depreciation, and Expense Management
Why Zingerman’s Teaches All Employees About Cash Flow, Revenue, Depreciation, and Expense Management

Zingerman’s is a community of over 10 businesses spawned from a single deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Since 1982, the company has grown rapidly, but co-founders Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw rejected traditional growth paths in the food industry like franchising or vertical integration. Instead, the company found its scaling path through a combination of deeply knowing their “why” and leveraging the power of open book management.

Featuring insights from Buffer’s Small Business, Big Lessons podcast episode six and the accompanying unpublished interview, Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig shared the company’s founding story and how open book management unlocked new scaling opportunities for the company.

Why Zingerman’s Teaches All Employees About Cash Flow, Revenue, Depreciation, and Expense ManagementAri Weinzweig, Co-Founder, Zingerman'sRejecting growth for growth’s sake

Just before Zingerman’s Deli opened in March 1982, everyone told them they were going to fail because so many others had failed before them and they opened in a “bad” neighborhood.

The business was a hit.

By 1986 the deli expanded its restaurant space and in 1991 the business purchased the house next door to turn it into a cafe. But with success came imitators and competition from other restaurants who wanted a piece of the market Zingerman’s had built.

Ten years into the business, Paul sat Ari down and asked him a serious question: what are we doing?

“In our current language, what he was asking me is, ‘what's your vision,’ and I really didn't have one,” said Ari.

After a year of deep conversations about the company’s “why” - some friendly and some tense - the duo realized they wanted growth, but didn’t want to franchise out the Zingerman’s model like other massive restaurant chains were doing in the 80s and 90s. This led to the idea of a group of businesses, each one unique. That way the business could grow but it would not require a franchise model.

Describing their strategic approach in retrospect, Ari said it was about the heart.

“Instead of trying to solve problems and instead of trying to figure out “intellectually” where you want to go, it's about coming at it from the heart and describing the future of your dreams,” said Ari.

Teaching business skills to everyone

While thinking about what business to build next and how to build what Ari started calling a “community business,” he stumbled upon the concept of open book management, which states every employee should be able to see and know as much as possible about how the business operates.

Using a sports metaphor to explain how open book management works, Ari explained that the “players” (staff) often aren’t told how the business works, which leads to misaligned incentives. For example, a staff that doesn’t understand business numbers are happy on a slow day because it means their work is a bit easier. However, too many slow days will kill a business.

“They don't know the score, and then if the team wins or loses, they don't really get anything,” said Ari. If they do get something, it's generally in a very paternalistic sort of ‘nice job honey, here's fifty bucks.’”

Ari and Paul wanted to build their business differently, with employees understanding the business and rooting for its success. That’s where open book management came in. The pair shared the business’ numbers and educated people on how the business actually operates, showing top line revenue all the way down to bottom line profits.

“We teach people how business works, we teach them the difference between cashflow and sales, we teach them the difference between cashflow and profit,” said Ari.

A broken plate and a fry for your thoughts

Detractors of open book management say that giving away too much financial information about the business will drive employees away or risk your competitive position. Ari and Paul say they’ve experienced the opposite: people have become more innovative and aligned to business goals now that they have all the information.

“Performance is better when people understand - this is a huge one - the cost of what it means to drop something and break it,” said Ari. “The average frontline employee in most organizations is like, ‘Whatever man, they got so much money, who cares if I dropped 10 plates.’ Whereas here, they see how small the margins really are.”

Being honest about a broken plate is not about punishment - Ari is the first to admit he’s dropped many in his time with Zingerman’s - but instead, it’s about being conscious. For example, if the company has to replace hundreds of broken plates throughout the year, that creates an additional expense that reduces the ability to donate to charity or deliver a profit share to employees.

Beyond clear costs like a broken plate, open book management also helped Zingerman’s Roadhouse, a classic American diner, come up with an innovative solution when it was facing skyrocketing food costs.

Everyone could see rising food costs in the books, so the team huddled together to think about possible solutions.

There were lots of great ideas, but the winning idea came from a Dishwasher at the restaurant. He noticed that he often had to throw out significant amounts of french fries before washing dishes. After taste testing and verifying the fries tasted good, the team realized it was likely because portions were too big for some people. In response, the team brainstormed a solution: cut the regular fry portion in half, but offer free refills to anyone who enjoyed the previous, larger portion.

“This is a great example because it's win-win-win; you're spending less money [and] everybody gets excited that they could get a free refill,” said Ari. “... It actually enhances their experience culinarily and emotionally. It saved money for the business, it made the guest experience better, and it raised the bar on quality.”

A Zingerman’s for everyone

Thinking back to that conversation in 1993 where he pushed back on franchising, Ari is still happy he made that choice. Now, Zingerman’s community of brands has its original deli, a roadhouse, multiple other restaurants, a catering business, and even a training company that works with other businesses that want to embrace open book management.

While he might have made more money if he franchised out the Zingerman’s deli brand, focusing on a broader vision and a deeper “why” powered by open book management, the company was able to sustainably grow and run multiple profitable food services businesses, an extraordinary feat in the small business world.

And regardless of money, Ari is focused on quality and uniqueness, which is something he just doesn’t see as possible with a massive franchise model.

“My experience of that everywhere in the world is the first one's awesome, the second one's not bad, the fourth one is fine, and the eighth one, it's like stopping at Starbucks,” said Ari. “I'm not cutting on Starbucks, that's their vision and they're entitled to go after what they want to do, but it just wasn't work I wanted to be part of.”

- Nicole Miller
How Social Media Can Help You Find and Hire the Right People for Your Business
How Social Media Can Help You Find and Hire the Right People for Your Business

When you hear that social media can be valuable for hiring, you may think, “Sure, I’ve browsed LinkedIn for potential employees before.”

But I’m talking so much bigger than that. In fact, if you aren’t considering all of your social media channels as possible candidate pools, then you’re probably missing out on some incredible hires.

Look at it this way: Even if your social channels are customer-facing, a good percentage of your audience is likely made up of working professionals. If their skills align with your needs, and they already like what your company is doing enough to give you a follow, then it could be the perfect match.

Read on to learn how both small businesses and growing ones can create a strategy for hiring the best talent via social media.

1. Think About Where Your Ideal Candidates Hang Out

Smart social recruiting isn’t about blasting all of your social channels with your job openings until you fill them. Instead, get as targeted as you can when thinking about where you might find your ideal candidate for any given role.

Start by paying attention to the demographics and makeup of particular social media networks and how that aligns with the types of candidates you’re looking for. At Buffer, we’ve found more marketers on Twitter than on LinkedIn, because that’s where they tend to hang out. If you’re on the hunt for a social media pro or content creator, Instagram or TikTok might be a better place to look.

It can also be valuable to find ways to connect with niche communities within broader social networks. For instance, we’ve found a lot of traction in promoting job openings to Facebook groups that target people in specific industries (like DevelopHer, Tech Inclusion, or Techqueria). On Twitter or Instagram, you might look to see if there are hashtags you can include or accounts you can tag to get in front of the types of people you’re looking to hire (such as @WritersofColor).

2. Go Beyond Posting the Role

To get the most out of recruiting using social media, you want to do more than just post the job opening and hope for the best. Instead, use all the capabilities these platforms offer to show off your culture, answer questions about your company, and generally engage potential candidates—all of which can help push them toward clicking “apply.”

In one of the most fun tactics I’ve seen recently, a hiring manager at Buffer offered 15-minute "coffee chats" to his network on Twitter, where potentially interested candidates could learn more about the role and company. You could use the questions feature on Instagram stories for a similar AMA-style strategy.

Thanks to its conversational feel and culture of authenticity, social media also gives you a platform for showing off your company culture. According to a study by CareerArc, Facebook is the number one site candidates use to research employer brand and reputation, even more so than review sites like Glassdoor.

Get creative with content that shows what it’s like to work at your company, such as behind-the-scenes videos or interviews with current employees, to continue giving candidates who are the right fit reasons to be excited about working for you.

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A post shared by E A S T F O R K (@eastforkpottery)

Asheville, NC-based East Fork Pottery doesn’t just post a job description, it shares its values with potential hires.

3. Make It Easy to Learn More & Share

Social media has trained us to expect a seamless and easy user experience, so candidates who come across your job opportunities on these platforms are going to expect as much of you. If you make it hard for them to learn more about the job, they’ll likely give up fast.

And yet, I can’t tell you how many companies I see share roles on social media and then link to a clunky job page (or worse, not share a link at all).

Make sure it’s easy for people to find more details about the role, whether with a link in bio (perhaps on your brand’s Start Page) or a link directly on the post or story. Make sure those details are easy to browse on mobile since as much as 83% of social media browsing happens on our phones.

As a bonus, creating a seamless experience makes it easy for your followers to share these roles with their network, thereby extending your reach. At Buffer, we’ve also seen success from encouraging our hiring managers and teammates to share our open roles on their own channels.

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A post shared by Buffer (@buffer)

We’re hiring at Buffer, and we made it easy to apply and share with fun posts like these.

4. Build Relationships for the Future

Finally, remember that social media is, at its core, a relationship-building tool. Even your social channels don’t help you find the right candidate for a role immediately, keep up the work of sharing information about your culture and mission, connecting with new people, and staying top of mind so you can build a network of followers who not only love your products or services but who love your business, too.

After all, the next person who follows your company could be the perfect fit for the next role you’re hiring for—you just need to show them why.

- Kyle Wiggers
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- Campaign Monitor
How to Up Your Marketing Game by Using Animated GIFs in Your Emails

Adding GIFs to your emails is a great way to add some engaging, dynamic content that helps your campaigns stand out. It’s not always straightforward though. In the post, we’ll tell you exactly how it’s done.

For a format created in 1987, GIFs can do a lot to make your email marketing efforts seem modern. They’re not just for fun and memes, either; sometimes, GIFs can communicate ideas or concepts much quicker than words or still images.

However, GIFs only work if they, well, work. If a GIF shows up as a still image or take seconds to load, you’ve lost any advantage the format might bring.

Whether you have a GIF ready to go or you’re trying to familiarize yourself with the format, knowing how to put a GIF in an email is only part of the picture. Make sure you not only add your GIF correctly but also choose the right GIF by following these steps.

In this post we’ll cover:

Optimizing your GIFs for email Adding a GIF to an email Choosing an appropriate GIF Examples of great email GIF usage Optimize your GIFs for email

Every modern email platform allows you to embed animated GIFs, but they can’t guarantee an identical user experience. User variance — from screen size and internet speed to the option to turn off GIFs in Microsoft Outlook — means you have to be careful to make sure your readers don’t miss out on anything. Optimizing your GIFs is a quick way to make sure everyone sees the message you meant to send.

Everything you need your audience to see should be visible in the first frame of the GIF. Switching off GIF animations, as some email clients allow you to do, doesn’t lead to a blank box — it just shows a static image. That picture might not be able to communicate quite as well as your GIF, but it should cover the basics.

You’ll also want to make sure your GIF is a maximum of 600 pixels wide (typical newsletter width), so it’s not cut off on smaller phone screens. Keep your audience’s data in mind, as well; the target file size for your GIF should be 0.5 MB. You can go up to 1 MB if necessary, but smaller files mean quicker downloads and less chance to lose a viewer. GIF file too big? Try reducing the number of frames using a tool like GIF Cutter. For GIFs you made, you can also try limiting the number of colors used.

Finally, add some alt text for those who are using screen readers or have switched off image loading entirely. This is a good accessibility practice for every image you post on your website, on social media, and in emails.

Insert your GIF using one of these methods

No matter what email client you’re using, inserting an animated GIF is a cinch.

Drag and drop

Best for: Gmail

When you see a GIF you like, simply click and hold on the image and then drag it over to your email client. (You’ll need to have the window with your email message visible at the same time as the page with your GIF for this to work.) This method doesn’t work in every email client, just those that support drag-and-drop uploading.

Copy the URL

Best for: Everything else

Sites like GIPHY and Tenor make it easy to copy a GIF link from the share options; sites like Google Image Search don’t. You can always find the URL of a GIF by right-clicking the image and selecting “Copy Image Link.”

Once you have the URL in your clipboard, go back to your email client and find the Insert Photo button. If you’re using an email template, find an image block (or GIF block, if your client offers one). Click it, select the “paste URL” option (if necessary), and then paste away.

Check to make sure the link you copied ends with the .gif extension, as some sites share the page URL rather than the image URL. If the link you have doesn’t end in .gif, try adding it yourself and see if the image pops up.

Download and then re-upload

Best for: When the other options aren’t working This method is the most involved and doesn’t come with any special benefits (unless you habitually download GIFs and have one ready to go). However, if your email client is refusing to copy an image that’s hosted on another site, you may have to upload a fresh version.

To download a GIF, right-click the image and select “Save Image As.” Make sure the file keeps the .gif extension or you’ll lose the animation! It’s smart to double-check a GIF after downloading to make sure your device saved the correct image format.

In your email client, compose a new email, click the Add Image button, and select the option to upload a new file. Navigate to the GIF you saved, select it, then hit “Done.”

Make sure you’re using a GIF for the right purposes

GIFs are best used for replacing video rather than for frivolous laughs. They change the tone of an email and risk irritating audiences because they take longer to load. When used correctly, they can enlighten and inspire your audience. When used excessively, they can annoy your readers or obscure important information.

Demonstrating product or feature functionality is a great use of GIFs. Why take 500 words explaining how something works when you can just show it in action? GIFs that educate your audience will make the right kind of impression and drive interest.

GIFs are also great for teasing multimedia content. Embedding videos in email is a bad idea because, unlike GIFs, they’re not universally supported. They also come with much larger file sizes — and load times. Rather than sending a clip, turn your video into a GIF and cut to the most tantalizing bits to build suspense.

Images can sometimes explain things much better — or more quickly — than words. Use GIFs to set the mood for your message or share multiple bits of information in a quick, easy-to-understand format. If a visual can convey a complex idea in a few seconds, why would you bother to write out a full description?

Learn from these great GIF examples

Example of gif from a Zip email.


How do you personalize content when the end product isn’t for your audience? This GIF shares multiple buzzy brands and products right at the top of the email, so gifters know they have options when they shop using Zip.

Example of gif from a Uniqlo email.


Instead of trying to guess whether their shoppers are looking for men’s clothes or women’s clothes, Uniqlo made a GIF that has something for both audiences. We love how the GIF includes multiple sections: the product image, a description, and size and price information.

Example of gif from a 360learning email


In the back quarter of a lengthy roundup email, 360Learning chose to respect their readers’ time with this GIF that’s essentially an animated slide deck. It provides a bullet-point overview of the product to help readers decide whether to dig into the details beneath the GIF or keep scrolling to the next item.

Example of gif from a Madison Reed email

Madison Reed

This before and after from Madison Reed is a great product demonstration. Unlike photos — which we expect to be digitally enhanced — GIFs seem more raw and real. (This is also a great example of how to get the most out of user-generated content.)

Example of gif from a MyFonts email


When introducing the Brutalista typeface, MyFonts went above and beyond to educate the consumer about it and demonstrate how it could be used. Having one product photo is good for sales — but having multiple product photos covering multiple contexts is great.

GIF to it!

GIFs aren’t right for every marketing campaign, but when used strategically, they can increase an email’s effectiveness. Many audiences struggle to keep up with their inboxes, which means they only give each email a few seconds to impress them. If your GIF can present the most important information in a concise and visually appealing way, you may earn a few more minutes of your readers’ time.

More You Know gif

The post How to Up Your Marketing Game by Using Animated GIFs in Your Emails appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor

Many marketers think improving email deliverability starts and ends with great content. And, while great content is essential to growing your newsletter, it won’t matter how great the writing is if your subscribers never see it.

Deliverability is the universal struggle among marketing teams; you can get so many things right when developing your marketing content and still struggle to get it in front of your audience. In fact, according to Demand Metric, 30% of email marketers cite deliverability as their primary challenge, and 67% report inbox placement rates of 89% or less.

The good news is, unlike some channels that are constantly changing requirements (*cough* Facebook *cough*), improving email deliverability comes down to a few consistent elements. We’ll save the discussion on Facebook ad delivery nightmares for someone else and just get to what we know best: email marketing.

1. Protect your sender reputation

In the world of email, your reputation truly does precede you. Email inbox providers will automatically mark your email as spam if you don’t have a strong sender reputation. According to Statista, 9-14% of marketing emails (depending on the industry) are marked as spam. Protecting your sender reputation is foundational to improving deliverability. But how, exactly, do you do this?

Check the reputation of your IP address

Your IP address is a set of numbers that identifies all emails that come from your domain. Email providers recognize “safe” and “unsafe” emails based on the historical context of your IP address and domain reputation. Why is this important? According to Demand Metric, open rates of 16% or more increased by 27% among email marketers who actively monitor their sender reputation.

If servers have historically seen “bad” mail come from your IP address, they may blacklist your domain and send it straight to spam. If they’ve seen only “good” mail come from your IP address, it most likely will arrive safely in the recipient’s primary inbox. If they’ve never seen your IP address, their default is to distrust it and likely send it to spam as well.

To prevent your emails from ending up in the spam folder, first, check to see if your domain or IP address is blacklisted. If you are, visit the blacklist company’s page to find the requirements to get removed from their list. Requirements may include providing re-opt-in for subscribers or removing addresses that were added to your mailing list before a certain date. Better yet, proactively use best practices to stay off these blacklists in the first place.

If you have a new IP address with little to no sending reputation, build it up by slowly increasing the number of emails sent from it. Start by sending emails to your most engaged subscribers who will drive up the open rate, signaling the email provider it’s “good” mail. Sending a large number of emails — like to your entire email list — from a “cold” IP address will likely get flagged as spam. It also might get you blacklisted before you get started.

Put authentication protocols in place

Another way to make sure your domain isn’t compromised is to require that anyone sending an email on behalf of your domain show “credentials” to the email provider. A Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) is a DNS protocol that protects a domain from unauthorized use (i.e., phishing emails and email spoofing). The DMARC protects the domain by giving specific instructions to the email provider about allowable use of the sending domain.

When an email is sent, the email provider will check two sources — Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) — in the DMARC to verify legitimacy and decide if it belongs in the primary inbox, quarantine, or spam folder.

SPF: An SPF tells the email provider which IP addresses and hostnames are allowed to send emails from a domain. DKIM: DKIM is an encrypted digital signature that tells the receiving inbox provider what an authentic email from this domain should include. For example, all emails from XYZ domain should include a header with this text, that logo, and these body paragraphs. If an email doesn’t include these elements, the authentication “key” won’t match. The inbox provider will then refer to the DMARC protocol to decide if it goes into the spam folder or is blocked altogether. 2. Maintain email list hygiene

It doesn’t matter if you have a massive email list if most of those emails are bouncing or not opened. When bounce rates increase and engagement metrics go down, it signals the receiving server’s Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) you’re not actively maintaining your list or sending engaging content. And your emails will likely get sent to the spam folder when the server receives these signals. Maintaining an email list and promoting long-term growth requires proactively pruning and managing your list.

Routinely review your list for unengaged subscribers and invalid emails

According to Statista, 2%-4% of marketing emails go undelivered each month, which means your engagement rates are tanking partially due to emails that never even see the recipients.

We get it; no one wants to cut their list down. However, by removing addresses that hard bounce (i.e., are permanently undeliverable) and subscribers who are unengaged, you’ll increase your open rate and long-term email deliverability rate. If an email has a hard bounce or a subscriber doesn’t open emails for 12-18 months (depending on cadence), it’s time to cut them loose.

Pro-tip: Not sure where to start cleaning up your list? Check out QuickEmailVerification, an email deliverability tool that will analyze your email list for you.

Implement a double opt-in

A double opt-in is when a subscriber is sent an email to confirm their subscription before being added to the email list. This prevents hard bounces because the user has to verify their email. It also requires an extra step of commitment from the subscriber to confirm their email so you’ll end up with fewer unengaged users.

Make it easy to unsubscribe

Yes, you read that right. Making it easy for unengaged users to unsubscribe prevents them from getting sick of hearing from your brand, cultivates authenticity with your readership, and improves overall engagement on your list.

You can make it easy to unsubscribe from your emails by including a prominent unsubscribe link in every email and creating a 1-click unsubscribe process. A 1-click unsubscribe process includes pre-populating the email field, making feedback optional, and creating simple ways of adjusting preferences, such as checkboxes.

When recipients move to unsubscribe, giving them the option to adjust preferences instead is a good way to retain them. Some users may not actually want to unsubscribe but just aren’t interested in the specific email campaign or don’t want emails as frequently.

Don’t buy email lists

Buying email lists contributes to high bounce rates and low engagement and ultimately compromises the integrity of the portion of the subscriber list that did opt-in.

The first issue you’ll run into with buying an email list is most reputable email service providers (ESPs) won’t allow you to send emails to email addresses that have not opted in. They do this to preserve their own sender reputation and business.

And, if you do find an ESP that’ll allow you to send to this list, the quality won’t be there. Many of the addresses on bought lists are invalid, inactive, or recycled. You’ll also likely run into spam traps using bought email lists. Spam traps are created by blacklist providers who deliberately place fake addresses on bought email lists to identify domains sending spam.

On the off chance your email does find its way into a real, active inbox, remember you’re intruding on someone’s personal space, uninvited. Your email will likely be marked as spam by them or their email provider.

Want to know how to grow your email list the right way? Check out our Modern Marketer’s Guide to Growing an Email List!

3. “Throttle“ your delivery

Many ESPs will enforce a daily rate limit (the number of emails you’re allowed to send in a day) to prevent spam from being sent from their platform. ESPs aren’t the only ones with a rate limit, either. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will also limit the number of emails they’ll accept from the same IP address within a set timeframe to prevent spam.

When an email sender reaches their rate limit, the email will be temporarily undeliverable — or what email marketers call a “soft bounce.” The server will likely resend a soft-bounced email within 72 hours to see if it’ll go through, but who wants to take their chances with that? This is where “throttling” comes in.

Throttling is the practice of sending emails in smaller batches over time to avoid hitting rate limits, getting soft bounces, or getting marked as spam. For large lists (typically above 250 recipients), senders should segment their lists. Once lists are segmented, plan ahead to make sure the campaign is sent to each segment by the date needed.

4. Deliver consistently

The key to any relationship is trust, and when you start showing up consistently for your subscribers, they begin to not only expect your emails, but they begin to trust your role in their life.

If you wait too long between sending emails, recipients forget why they were interested in subscribing in the first place. When they forget why they subscribed, they typically either unsubscribe or delete your email without opening it. On the flip side, if you send emails too frequently, they’re more likely to be marked as spam or just flat-out annoy your subscribers. And, you guessed it, they’ll likely unsubscribe or delete the email without opening it.

So what is the perfect email cadence? It varies by the audience and type of campaign, but our research has found that every two weeks is the ideal frequency for most organizations. This frequency is based on open rates, click-through rate (CTR), and unsubscribe rates.

Create an email worth opening to improve email deliverability

With the supporting elements in place, now you can focus on creating something subscribers want to open. “That’s easier said than done,” you might be thinking. Well, that’s just the thing — email marketing doesn’t need to be an overcomplicated exercise with a monkey taunting you the whole way.

With Campaign Monitor’s simple drag-and-drop builder, fully customizable templates, and collaboration tools, designing engaging emails that convert just got a whole lot easier. Get started building something unforgettable today. Rest assured, there’s no monkey involved here, just professionals getting stuff done.

The post 4 Steps To Improve Email Deliverability appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor

What’s the largest unread count you’ve seen in someone’s inbox? Whether you’re a proponent of inbox zero or an “I’ll get to it when I get to it” email accumulator, know high unread counts aren’t uncommon. A recent consumer survey found 20% of respondents had 1,000 or more unread emails in their inboxes.

Given the vast amount of emails sent out daily (over 300 billion each day in 2020), it’s hardly a surprise so many go unread. Consumers, overwhelmed by their inboxes, rarely have time to read everything. If your brand doesn’t make the cut, they may unsubscribe from your list. However, they might also get in the habit of deleting your emails before reading them or leaving them to get buried in an ever-growing stack of unread messages. These inactive customers aren’t just a lost opportunity. They can also affect email deliverability.

Email list churn is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be the end of a consumer relationship. Knowing why someone stopped reading in the first place can help you figure out how to win them back. Your email reactivation campaign should start with a survey to learn why readers are churning. Armed with this data, you’ll be able to create reactivation emails that address customer worries or annoyances and give them a reason to return.

Ask subscribers why they stopped reading

All the data analysis in the world won’t give you the kind of insight you can get from a simple survey. If someone has stopped reading your emails, the easiest way to find out why is by asking them.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Getting a churned reader to respond to an exit survey is difficult. Ironically, you may have the easiest time with those who take the time to click unsubscribe: Your confirmation page can ask why they no longer want to read your emails. For those inactive subscribers who skim past your emails after seeing the sender, the subject line is your only chance to get their attention.

This is not the time for subtlety or cleverness. If a consumer has churned, it means your marketing tactics aren’t capturing them at the moment. Your survey email (and its subject line) should feel not only personalized but also personal. Without deviating from your brand’s style guide, you may want to:

Use an individual’s name, rather than a brand name, in the from field Write an email that reads like it’s meant for one individual rather than an entire email list Include a sign-off or signature with a real person’s name and contact information Use a respectful, empathetic tone and voice throughout the message

An inactive user is unlikely to give feedback if they don’t think anyone will listen. A successful win-back email must center your consumer rather than your brand.

Write an effective email list churn survey

Whether you’re writing up questions to go on the Unsubscribe page or a survey to be shared via email, it’s important to keep your request simple and short. Unengaged readers typically aren’t in love with your brand, which means they may not have much time to give. Each question you ask comes with the risk of a reader deciding they don’t have the time or energy to fill out your survey and closing the window before they complete it. Your job is to minimize customer frustration and make sure the survey is as easy to complete as possible.

Try to keep your survey to three or fewer questions. Make sure each request gathers an important data point and asks for unique information. For example, asking “Why did you stop reading our emails?” and “How do you feel about the frequency of our emails?” might give the same answer. If you used the second question to instead ask, “How often do would you like to receive emails?” the answers would provide important data you couldn’t have gathered with the first question.

Identify key reasons for email list churn

Once you’ve gathered the data, it’s time to examine it for trends. The process will vary depending on the type of answer you asked for. Checkboxes and radio buttons give clear-cut data because readers are choosing from pre-existing answers. It’s simply a matter of finding the most common response(s). If you gave respondents room to write out their thoughts, you will likely gather more nuanced answers but also have to reconcile the different ways people express the same sentiment. Many surveys have more than one question type, which means using different methods to make sense of the data from different questions.

Once you’ve collated all the answers, you may find a simple, easy explanation for email list churn — or you may find more than one reason for readers leaving. In the latter situation, ask yourself whether you can address multiple issues in the same re-engagement email campaign. If not, consider segmenting your lists and creating a different series of emails for each concern you identified. Failing to respond to consumer feedback is a fatal error with a reader who is only lukewarm on your brand.

Craft a campaign that addresses consumer needs

If you’ve gotten responses to your survey, congratulations: Your customers have told you how to win them back. The next step is to craft reactivation emails that provide what they are asking for. Though your strategy will vary depending on what you learned, each message in a reactivation campaign should be focused on re-earning a customer’s trust. Here are some tips on how to address common causes of email list churn.

Refocus on your target audience to increase relevancy

Personalizing emails by sticking someone’s name in the subject line won’t help if they’re not interested in what you have to offer. The content you are sending out must address the needs of the consumers you want to reach. Using one email newsletter to speak to multiple demographics with different needs just leaves everyone disappointed.

Many email lists run into this problem as they grow. It’s hard to keep up with the high content demands that come with personalization efforts. Unless you have the capacity to create multiple articles to speak to each group, your email blasts for different audiences may look 90% the same. In this situation, it’s probably more effective to focus on one group, even if it means a smaller list.

Part of refocusing on your target audience might mean letting some email subscribers go because they aren’t the right fit. This doesn’t feel good if you’re trying to decrease subscriber churn, but it provides important data about what doesn’t work.

Segment lists for less frequent readers

One of the top reasons for email list attrition is too many emails. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the best way to compete with the deluge of other emails is by sending so many you always end up near the top of someone’s inbox. This approach can backfire, cementing you in a consumer’s mind as one of the big drivers of an email overwhelm problem.

You don’t need to drown others out to get people in the habit of reading your emails. You do need to give your audience a reason to keep coming back. Instead of sending out every bit of content immediately, create a list for those who only want to hear from you one or two times a week. Still send your best content — just in fewer emails. Depending on what you learn, you may even find you can scale back email frequency for everyone without losing subscribers or engagement.

Double down on quality content to make customers feel understood

If your emails read as too sales-y or dishonest, they’re more than likely going to go straight into the trash. A surprising number of marketers still send out clickbait or other meaningless content. Getting high open rates or link clicks doesn’t matter if your reader closes the page two seconds later; in fact, it’s more likely to sour them on your brand in the long run.

Providing quality content means understanding your readers and what they want, then following through with answers they can’t find elsewhere. Use the customer pain points and questions identified in your survey as prompts for future email topics.

Use the data to improve your email marketing strategy

Email churn is inevitable, which means re-engagement campaigns need to be part of your repertoire. However, there’s no reason to wait until someone is leaving to make changes. Use the data you gather from churning readers to refine existing email marketing campaigns so you can hook new customers and increase retention. You may even want to go a step further and survey happy readers to see what they want more (and less) of.

Consumers will likely continue to struggle with email management. By 2024, the world will send (and receive) over 360 billion emails a day. That means email opens will be harder to win. If you haven’t yet mastered re-engagement emails, it’s time to get started.

The post How to Craft Reactivation Emails That Win Back Subscribers appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
8 Email Newsletter Best Practices

Email newsletters are one of the most effective ways to stay top of mind with your customers. When done right, that is. The problem, though, is that so many businesses don’t know what they should actually put in their newsletter.

More often than not, businesses don’t know why they should be sending newsletters. They’ll say they need to because everyone else is doing it, or because they want to “stay top of mind”, but have no strategy outside of that. Then, the responsibility is “given” to someone who probably doesn’t want it, leading to boring, lifeless email blasts that don’t bring value to your subscribers or your business.

That may be the case for 90% of businesses, but it doesn’t have to be the case for yours. With the right plan and a set of goals in mind, you can make your newsletter a hard-working marketing channel for your business — and we’ll show you how.

Read on to discover the top email newsletter best practices that will turn your newsletter into something people actually want to read.

8 email newsletter best practices 1. Use a powerful subject line

Your subject line is arguably the most important piece of email content. Without a solid subject line, your email open rate is going to suffer.

Think about subject lines that draw you in — what’s compelling about them? Do they use concise language? Empathetic language? Bold language? Emojis?

In our experience, the best email subject lines are short (think 30-50 characters), engaging, and give just enough of a preview of what’s in the email to make you want to know more.

For more subject line tips and best practices, head here!

2. Optimize your email for mobile devices

People read over half of all emails on mobile devices. That’s an astounding number, considering people do still use their computers on a regular basis.

Knowing that, it’s a good idea to optimize your emails for mobile devices. That means making sure your newsletter template looks good on desktop as well as mobile. This may sound complicated, but it’s not. At Campaign Monitor, we have a library of over 80+ free mobile-friendly email templates ready for you to use.

Optimizing for mobile means testing your subject lines as well! Neglecting to preview your subject lines for different devices is a recipe for disaster, so make sure you take them all into account and send as many test emails as possible.

That includes design as well as email subject lines.

3. Pay attention to your email newsletter design

It’s hard to overstate the importance of design for your newsletter’s success. You might think of design as only the fonts and colors you choose, but there’s so much more than goes into designing an effective email.

Designing the layout of your newsletter content is going to have huge implications on how your readers engage with it. Making it easy to read and making your calls-to-action (CTAs) clear are going to give your engagement metrics a major boost. Plus, well-organized emails help boost your email deliverability.

You also want to make sure you’re designing with accessibility in mind. Are you using an appropriate amount of color contrast? Are your fonts big enough? Do your images have alt text? These are things you need to take into consideration.

Look at this engaging email campaign design from Bezar, which uses bold color blocks to highlight products and information:

email campaign design example

Source: Really Good Emails

Other design best practices:

Make your CTA buttons clear and concise Keep your emails on-brand Include your logo, website, and social media accounts Don’t be afraid of white space Don’t forget to add preheader text

Ultimately, your newsletter is an extension of your brand, and as such, you want to make sure it lines up with the rest of your brand experience (on your website, in your store, etc).

4. Use segmentation to target your customers

While most email newsletters will go to your entire list, your organization may have a different structure. If your company serves multiple different verticals, it may be wise to craft different types of content for each of those industries.

Or maybe you have newsletter subscribers in different regions, in which case it might make sense to have specific content for each.

Don’t let newsletters shut you into a typical “Here are our company updates” box. One of the biggest mistakes companies fall into with their newsletters is making it all about them. Your email subscribers don’t want to hear about you, they want you to deliver them valuable content, and the more personal you can get with them, the better.

5. A/B testing can improve your click rates

Your marketing team should already be A/B testing. If they’re not, they need to start doing it now. As much as we might want to say we know our audience and the types of emails they prefer, we’re never going to know as well as our audience themselves, and A/B tests give your audience a chance to tell you what they prefer.

Marketers who A/B test generally see far better engagement metrics like open rates and click-through rates than those who don’t, so you need to make A/B testing a priority.

As a result, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t with your audience, which you can use to inform your email marketing strategy moving forward.

6. Watch your email frequency and timing

Sending emails too often can result in unsubscribes from your email list, but sending emails too infrequently can result in your subscribers overlooking them.

The annoying thing is, figuring this information out is usually completely unique to each company. There’s no magic solution to this puzzle. You can look at other companies in your industry to see how often they’re sending as a start, but ultimately, if you test it and make tweaks, your data will tell you what frequency your audience responds to.

7. Craft a compelling call-to-action

Typically, when a company sends a newsletter, they have something they want to link their readers to. Maybe it’s a piece of content on your website that you teased in the newsletter, or maybe it’s a new product if you’re an ecommerce company. Either way, crafting a clear, compelling call-to-action will help make sure readers get where you want to send them.

This newsletter from Zendesk includes a letter from the CEO about a new product announcement, and a CTA encouraging people to click to “learn more” about that product.

good email design includes CTA

Source: Really Good Emails

The button is easy to see and the copy is clear, making sure that readers can’t miss the next step.

8. Use videos to encourage people to open your newsletter

Videos can encourage people to both open and click emails. Viewers find them engaging, and they’re an efficient way to communicate a lot of information quickly.

Videos created by your organization are the best to include in your email newsletters (like how-to videos, testimonials, or advice from executives or industry experts).

All of these videos can entice your readers. Plus, they provide an opportunity to really sell people on why they would want to work with your company.

This email newsletter from Mitsubishi uses video to highlight the rugged features of one of their models:

email design with video

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

These eight email newsletter best practices are your guide to creating an email newsletter marketing plan that’ll impress your customers and improve your conversion rates.

Three key takeaways you should leave with are:

Use your email subject lines wisely to boost your open rates. Use list segmentation to creatively divide up your list for maximum impact. Think outside the marketing box on this. Email frequency and timing can make or break an email campaign, so use A/B testing to find the best times to send your newsletters.

Don’t forget to set up an A/B testing log, if you don’t have one already, and put together a comprehensive marketing calendar to stay on track with your email campaigns.

Looking for an email platform to create stunning newsletters? Campaign Monitor has a powerful drag-and-drop editor—complete with templates—to create the perfect emails.

The post 8 Email Newsletter Best Practices appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Will Harris
Why MPP is Good for the Future of Email

When Apple announced Mail Privacy Protection, earlier this year, it threw marketers into a bit of a frenzy. No one knew exactly what the effects of the new feature would be, but we knew it’d change the way we thought about and reported email marketing metrics.

The announcement had shades of GDPR, for those in the digital marketing world who were around to remember it. And while it seems like MPP’s effects won’t be as broad, the feature still has wide-ranging implications for the future of email.

While a lot of marketers will mourn the loss of data like opens and geographic location, we’d argue that MPP is actually going to be a good thing for everyone involved in the email marketing industry.

Here’s why.

How Mail Privacy Protection effects marketers

If you’ve heard the terms Mail Privacy Protection, MPP, or iOS 15 tossed around the past few months, but aren’t sure what they actually mean don’t worry! We’ll catch you up really quick.

In September, Apple released its new software update, iOS 15. And with it came a new feature: Mail Privacy Protection.

In short, MPP does two things: 

Effectively disables open tracking Obscures the user’s IP address, removing an email marketer’s ability to know their location

For more on how it works, make sure to check out our guide. But to understand what the feature actually does, those are the two things you need to know.

Now, while that might not sound too bad, there are some serious implications for email marketers. The first and most obvious implication is that MPP makes open rate tracking far less reliable, putting the future of open rates as a metric in serious jeopardy. And as if changing our metrics and reporting wasn’t enough, it also means you’ll probably want to rethink any automated journeys you have set up that have automation steps based on whether or not a person opens an email.

While the loss of geographic data might not seem quite as drastic, there are a lot of marketers who depend on that data for list segmentation purposes. For instance, if you plan on sending different emails to different subscribers based on location, that becomes a bit trickier. Rather than relying on collecting that data automatically, you’ll now have to ask your users for it first-hand.

Losing this data also means that send time optimization — a popular feature among ESPs — will be less dependable, as it won’t have location data for a lot of users.

Why this is good for the future of email

This doesn’t exactly sound like a win for marketers, does it? While we’d agree that the loss of some data and functionality is inconvenient, we do think MPP will ultimately be a good thing for the future of email.

How? Because MPP will force marketers to focus on the experience they’re creating, not optimize their campaigns for hollow metrics like open rate.

With all of the email marketing metrics available to us, it’s become too easy for marketers to define success by top-line metrics like open rate. While those metrics are helpful, they’re not the end goal.

Our hope with MPP is that marketers will feel less compelled to write a deceiving subject line that overpromises and underdelivers on what’s actually inside the email, and more compelled to deliver value and enhance their subscriber experience every chance they get.

And hey, by focusing more on the experience you’re creating with email and the value you’re giving your subscribers, odds are, your metrics will probably all start to look better anyway. Funny how that works 😉

How to focus on the user experience in your email marketing

So, what does it actually mean to focus on the experience when it comes to email? 

Don’t be deceptive with your subject lines or CTAs

Like we mentioned, it’s easy to feel compelled to write deceptive, overpromising subject lines or calls-to-action for the sake of seeing higher open rates or click rates. But ultimately, when subscribers catch on to the fact that you’re consistently letting them down with your actual content, they won’t keep coming back.

To be clear, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t follow best practices and make your subject lines and CTAs clear and engaging. We’re just saying that you shouldn’t try and boost your stats at the expense of your subscribers. If you can’t make the content of your email or the content you’re linking to compelling without lying about it, you probably shouldn’t send it in the first place.

Align your email goals to business goals, not just metrics

While email-specific metrics like open rate are a helpful proxy for success, they’re not the definition for success itself. We don’t just send email so that people open it — we do it do contribute to larger marketing and business goals, like website visits, purchases, or revenue generated.

Now that metrics like open rate and click-to-open-rate (CTOR) are out the window, it’s time to start re-thinking how we are going to define success with email. And in doing so, it’s also a good time to make sure your email marketing strategy is based around your broader business goals.

Focus on adding value

Let’s be honest, most marketing emails just feel like noise. Inboxes are crowded, and users are constantly scanning through to decipher what’s important and what’s not.

So, what’s the key to being one of the names that people look out for? Consistently add value to your subscribers.

This will mean different things to different types of people and businesses, but a good question to ask before sending a marketing email is whether or not you have a reason to be in their inbox. If you don’t, and you’re just sending for the sake of sending, then it’s probably best to rethink it.

Begin with the end in mind

When crafting a campaign or a single marketing email, it’s important to have your end goal in mind when you start. What, exactly, do you want to teach your subscriber, tell them, direct them to? Knowing what action you want them to take before starting will help inform all of the decisions you make when creating your actual campaign, leading to a better email experience for everybody.

Wrap up

Apple threw the email marketing world for a loop when they suddenly announced Mail Privacy Protection earlier this year. And while it may have sounded scary at first, marketers will adapt (just like they have with every other major tech update), and ultimately, we think they’ll be better off for it.

Here’s to hoping MPP brings a new focus on the experience that marketers create for their subscribers.

The post Why MPP is Good for the Future of Email appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
Email Recap: Our 2021 Year in Review

2021 has been quite the year for, well, just about everybody. But particularly for email marketers.

After a wild 2020 that brought the beginning of a pandemic, a lot of uncertainty, and some unbelievable email numbers, 2021 didn’t give us much of a break. What a lot of us hoped would be a return to “normal” ended up being an acceptance of a different kind of normal. Though, Apple made sure none of us got too comfortable in this new normal.

As we tie the final bows on a more than eventful 2021, let’s take a look back at some of your incredible achievements from the past year.

Together we reached the world

This year, Campaign Monitor customers used our platform to send over 31 billion emails (31,350,157,127 to be precise!) opened in 245 countries around the world. That’s some serious reach.

31 billions emails sent.

57% of those opens came from mobile devices, up 3% from last year but down from 63% in 2019.

We made email work smarter and harder

You all took advantage of our smart email marketing features in a major way.

You designed 627,606 new email templates to stand out in crowded inboxes. You go, Van Gough.

You ran A/B tests on 136,406 campaigns, and built 53,427 automated journeys. That’s some seriously sophisticated marketing.

Number of automated journeys.

Technology kept us on our toes

Just as we were all beginning to settle into our routines, Apple dropped a major surprise on the digital marketing world when it announced Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). Putting open rates in serious jeopardy, this feature is just beginning to shape how we all, as email marketers, think about goals and engagement — something worth keeping an eye on in 2022.

Guide to MPP.

Ultimately, we think marketers will be better off for it. More on our predictions for MPP and the email world here.

And, technology moved us forward

This was a record year for the product team at Campaign Monitor. Overall, we released 28 new features — all centered around making Campaign Monitor smarter, faster, and easier for you to create your incredible campaigns.

28 new features shipped.

As new features were added, we were blown away by the rate you all took advantage.

It was a busy year, and our aspirations are only growing.

Here are a few highlights:

January – Social Links February – Lists & Subscribers Refresh March – Free Image Gallery April – Footer Flexibility May – New Overview Page June – New Automation Page July – Welcome Journey Recipe August – New Campaign Experience September – Apple Mail Privacy Protection October – Campaign Reporting Refresh  November – Help Menu December – Journey Reporting Refresh We had your back every step of the way

Our support team resolved 29,468 support tickets this year — or 80.7 tickets per day!

Support tickets resolved

Our deliverability team continued to do amazing work, keeping our delivery rate at 99.86% in 2021. And with a 99.98% uptime, your app experience was pretty seamless.

Outside of keeping you up and running, we also did our best to deliver you features to help you do your best work.

Email Academy — We launched a free online learning platform to increase your skills, train your team, and build your business. We created 8 courses this year, with more to come in 2022. So far, almost 5,000 of you have begun your Email Academy journeys. If you haven’t yet, head here to begin!

Your go-to for all things MPP — We were here for you when things got, er, a little confusing. After Apple announced MPP, we acted quickly to pass along what we knew about the feature as well as how to adjust your strategy. Then, our product team made some changes to our reporting tool to reflect our post-MPP world. 

We’re still learning about all the effects of MPP, and we’ll be here to guide you through it all.

A new Campaign Monitor, inspired by you — Over the past year, we’ve been hard at work on building a completely new campaign experience with you at the heart of it. Change is always hard, even when it’s for the better, but our product managers Phil and Dan were here to walk you through every detail.

You all took to the refreshed interface at an incredible rate. After our new campaign experience went live, we saw a 20% increase in the number of A/B tests you sent and a 20-25% increase in the use of tags.

We can’t wait to see how these changes to the platform continue to unlock your creativity in 2022.

Our team grew together, even when apart

Even as some of our offices have begun to open back up, we’re continuing to focus on building a hybrid team. We now have team members across 11 different countries, working as connected and in-sync as ever.

Campaign Monitor employees worked across 11 different countries.

We’ve placed a serious focus on employee health as well, offering a wellbeing allowance, free Calm app subscriptions, and encouraging time off for wellbeing — whatever that means for each person.

And we couldn’t have done it without you

Email is what we do, and you won’t find a group that’s more passionate about that than we are. But there’s more to it than just that. We’re consistently inspired by the work and creativity of the people that use our product, and we can’t wait to continue to serve you all and watch you grow in 2022.

p.s keep an eye out for our annual email benchmarks report coming in January. We’ve got some interesting insights from an unprecedented year 👀

The post Email Recap: Our 2021 Year in Review appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
Introducing: The Blackbaud + Campaign Monitor Integration for Nonprofits

Our direct integration with Blackbaud’s donor management platform, Raiser’s Edge NXT, makes email marketing for nonprofits a whole lot easier.

Nonprofits and social good organizations will be excited to hear about our new direct integration with ​​Raiser’s Edge NXT, a fundraising and donor management platform from Blackbaud.

This integration creates an automated email marketing solution designed for the needs and goals of nonprofits and social good organizations.

“By combining the power of Raiser’s Edge NXT with a leading email marketing automation platform like Campaign Monitor, our joint customers will enjoy a new, highly sophisticated experience to help them take the effectiveness of their email marketing and fundraising to a whole new level,” said David Loring, senior director, partners, Blackbaud.

For customers of Raiser’s Edge NXT and Campaign Monitor, here’s what you can expect.

All your supporter activity, all in one place. Seeing all of your supporter’s activity, including marketing activity, all in one place is wildly important, and this integration helps you do just that. Campaign Monitor will send subscriber email engagement activity right to Raiser’s Edge NXT without you having to do anything.

Map of data shared between RE NXT and Campaign Monitor.

More control over your marketing campaigns. The data shared between platforms will provide users with the granular information they need to accurately segment their audiences and include relevant and compelling content in their email marketing campaigns.

Better unsubscribe management. If a subscriber unsubscribes from your marketing campaign, that information will be updated automatically in Raiser’s Edge NXT, so there’s no need to manually update supporters who have unsubscribed.

Add new subscribers to RE NXT. New subscribers to Campaign Monitor can be synced to RE NXT as new constituents. You can control which subscribers you transfer by setting up individual lists in Campaign Monitor. 

You’ll also get basic deduplication to make sure those subscribers don’t already exist.

Wrap up

This direct integration between Campaign Monitor and Raiser’s Edge NXT from Blackbaud can be a game-changer for nonprofit organizations and their marketing teams.

For more information about Campaign Monitor for Raiser’s Edge NXT, visit the Blackbaud Marketplace.

The post Introducing: The Blackbaud + Campaign Monitor Integration for Nonprofits appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
How to Determine the Best Length for Your Email Subject Lines

As a marketer, you work hard to write great copy and create compelling emails. But if you aren’t writing subject lines that encourage subscribers to read your messages, your campaigns could fall short.

More and more emails are opened on mobile devices, which typically show a smaller number of characters. With this in mind, you may wonder if your subject lines should be shorter to accommodate on-the-go subscribers.

Is there a secret to the perfect subject line length?

Every subscriber list is different, so the perfect subject line length depends on a variety of factors. But it’s possible to get insight into ideal lengths for your industry. Unlock those insights, and you’re bound to see increased engagement and performance from your marketing emails.

In this post, we’ll share some actionable tips for finding the correct email subject line length for your email marketing strategy.

Factors to consider when deciding your email subject line length

There’s really no such thing as a one-size-fits-all length. In fact, the ideal length of your subject line depends on a variety of factors.

1. Which devices and clients your emails are being read on

The number of emails opened on mobile devices has increased dramatically over the last decade. In 2021, mobile accounted for 41.6% of total opens. Yet, somehow, 1 in every 5 emails sent are still not optimized for mobile.

While mobile optimization has more to do with the code or template you’re using, it has implications for your subject line as well. Different devices will truncate your subject lines differently, and if you don’t test for them, you could end up with some painfully awkward results.

Luckily, Campaign Monitor’s Inbox Preview feature enables you to see previews of your email in over 25 different email clients before sending your campaign to ensure your email looks great in any inbox.

screenshot of campaign monitor's design and spam test

When considering the subject line length that will work best for your marketing emails, consider using data to pinpoint subscriber devices. Are most of your subscribers opening emails on mobile, or are they sticking to their desktop?

Campaign Monitor users can easily find this information in your Campaign Monitor account, in the Campaign Reports section under Email Client Usage. This will help you optimize your subject line length.

Here are some 2021 statistics for the top 10 email devices and client including market share:

Email client data for 2021.

Image source

Since most people are viewing emails on iPhones and Gmail, optimize your subject line length to between 41 characters (portrait view on an iPhone) to 70 characters for Gmail. You don’t want a broken experience because your subject line is too long.

2. How past subject lines have performed

It’s also a good idea to look at which subject lines have garnered high open rates in your past emails.

High open rates can occur because of deals you were offering, the time of day, or the copy and sentiment in the subject line itself.

Still, it’s worthwhile to take a look and see if any trends emerge from your email open rates and the length of the subject line.

So, what is the optimal email subject line length?

According to a study from Marketo, 41 characters, or 7 words, seems to be a sweet spot for email subject line length, which is about 10 characters less than the average subject line.

subject line length


Here are a few email subject lines paired with their character length to give you an idea of what a 41 character-subject line looks like:

Email Subject Line Character Count Work Can Wait – These Sales are THAT Good 41 Make a Meatless Loaf Even Meat Lovers Will Love 47 Cyber Monday For Those Procrastinators 38 7 Habits That’ll Make You the Leader Your Colleagues Aspire to Be 65 5 SEO Trends for 2019 | Mobile vs. Desktop Search | Win/Loss Analysis | SMB Expectations 88

As you craft your email subject lines, remember when and how your subscribers are reading your emails.

If the majority of the opens are happening on iPhones, you’ll want to use shorter email subject lines to get the most impact. Additionally, keep your offer or CTA at the beginning of your subject line where it’s most likely to be seen. You can also use preheader text to add more context to your subject lines in the preview pane.

Email Subject Line

9 email subject line best practices to utilize

Finding the ideal length for a subject line is an important step in your email marketing, but subject lines are not just about length. In order to see success, you’ll need to leverage general best practices.

1. Use different subject lines

If you use the same subject line over and over, it won’t excite your subscribers. So, rather than using “January 2021 company newsletter”, try to get more creative and encourage subscribers to open emails and see the latest and greatest information you have to offer.

2. Keep subject lines short

Short subject lines tend to win out. As discussed above, research shows around 41 characters is the optimal length for a subject line. Still, some marketing experts suggest going even shorter.

Backlinko founder Brian Dean says subject lines which on average do not exceed 16 characters have significantly higher open rates. He attributes this to two factors.

First, emails with shorter subject lines are more likely to be delivered. Second, brevity creates an air of mystery.

Per Dean’s thinking, the subject line “Are you available to meet today at 11?” (38 characters) doesn’t have quite the same impact as “Meeting at 11?” (14 characters).

All in all, keep your character count low when you can. And, imposing character limits for people sending email at your company could be a wise decision, too.

3. Test your subject lines across devices and clients

Like we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to make sure your subject lines display properly across devices. Sending test emails will help you make sure that your subject line reads well anywhere.

4. Consider your capitalization style

While you may not be giving much thought to how you’re capitalizing your email subject lines, you should be! There are four basic styles:

How to write an email subject line (sentence case) How to Write an Email Subject Line (title case) how to write an email subject line (all lowercase)

Some marketing experts such as Val Geisler attribute increased open rates to a more casual, personal feel. In that case, you might opt for sentence case or all lowercase for your subject lines.

5. Use personalization

Use personalization right in the subject line by including subscriber names. You can use many other personalization options based on subscriber data. This data can be collected through your sign-up form, or from other sources like Shopify or OptinMonster.

email subject line best practices

Image Source

This is a powerful subject line because it’s short, asks a question, and ties to previous recipient behavior. Consider doing the same with your emails.

6. A/B test subject lines

You’ll never know what works best without trying different options, so A/B test your subject lines to find the best one. You can A/B test different lengths and different types of copy to get a good idea of what your email list responds to.

email subject line formula

7. Use emojis when appropriate

While the debate about emojis continues, the fact is they’re here to stay. Their judicious use in subject lines can set your emails apart in an inbox with seemingly endless stacked lines of text.

There are additional advantages provided by emojis. A majority of companies do not use them, and this may contribute to the higher response rate for emails that employ them. Plus, they create powerful emotive storytelling, perfect for the shorter lines of text on mobile devices.

8. Avoid spam filters

Every email which winds up in a spam folder is a missed opportunity for an open, clickthrough, and sales conversion. That’s why, according to extensive research was done by Yesware, you want to avoid using the following words in subject lines.

email subject line length in 2018

There’s more to avoiding spam filters than word choice alone. (Using all capital letters will take you there, too.) No matter what, delete the spammy words and phrases above from your subject lines.

9. Use automation

Though this isn’t strictly related to subject lines, it’s worth noting that using automation in your email strategy is bound to increase your engagement metrics. Even simple automation steps like a welcome journey are effective ways to grab your subscribers’ list at the time they’re most engaged.

If you can play off of the timing or context of your automated email in your subject lines, then your results will only get better.

Wrap up

At the end of the day, the best email subject line length will vary from brand to brand. That means it’s best to test out different lengths to see what works for you.

If you leverage your past data and test your subject lines, you’ll be well on your way to knowing how long email subject lines should be to encourage subscribers to open and take action with your campaigns.

For more tips on writing email subject lines, check out our post on subject line best practices.

The post How to Determine the Best Length for Your Email Subject Lines appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
Top 10 Constant Contact Alternatives for 2022

A quick roundup of Constant Contact alternatives for those who are looking for an ESP, or looking to make a switch.

No matter what size your business is, email marketing plays a vital role in success.

Not only does it give you the opportunity to establish and build relationships with your target audience, but the right email service provider (ESP) can help you monitor just how well your communication efforts are paying off.

Picking the right tool, though, can be tricky. With loads of options to choose from, and many of them saying they offer similar features, how are you supposed to make a decision?

Constant Contact has been a popular choice for businesses for a long time. One of the first email marketing platforms out there — they’ve been a familiar name to many marketers and small business owners since 1995.

But what about today? Constant Contact has surely changed and improved since 1995, but how does their platform stack up with other platforms on the market now?

Here are a few Constant Contact alternatives to help you adequately survey the modern ESP landscape.

The 10 Best Constant Contact Alternatives Campaign Monitor GetResponse SendPulse ActiveCampaign Mailchimp BenchMark ConvertKit AWeber Emma Sendinblue How we sourced our data

To get an accurate picture of the tools covered in this article, we visited unbiased review sites like G2 and Capterra to get a good first-hand look at how users were experiencing each platform, not just how they were talking about themselves on their websites.

We visited each competitor’s site as well, but only for up-to-date information on features and pricing.

Every email service provider is going to have customers that vouch for it and those who were unhappy. As a marketing professional, you know that you can’t make everyone happy. Here’s a list of Constant Contact alternatives to help you find an ESP that suits your brand’s specific needs.

1. Constant Contact vs. Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor homepage.

Yes, you’re reading this post on the Campaign Monitor blog, so we acknowledge that this could come off a bit biased. But, we feel that Campaign Monitor is a top solution for those looking for a Constant Contact alternative.

Campaign Monitor is an industry-leading, easy-to-use email marketing platform for all marketing professionals across all industries.

With over a decade of experience, our platform allows users to create and send beautifully branded emails while monitoring their success with our helpful campaign dashboard.

Customers get the most out of our responsive template library, and newly-updated user interface that makes building emails or automation workflows easier and more delightful than ever. This stands in strong juxtaposition to Constant Contact’s interface that has been known by customers to lag and feel a bit out of date.

And with offices around the globe, customers in any timezone are able to connect with our customer support team and resolve their issues any time, day or night.

If you need an ESP to serve as an all-in-one email marketing tool, Campaign Monitor might not be the best fit for you or your email campaigns. Constant Contact offers features like a landing page builder or social media integrations that Campaign Monitor doesn’t have.

Similarly, if you have intricate and complex automation and personalization needs for a wide and varied audience, one of our partner enterprise solutions might be a better tool to help you reach your email marketing goals.

But if you want an email marketing tool that ranks higher for its ease of use, ease of setup, ease of admin, quality of support, deliverability, and building/personalizing emails, Campaign Monitor is your way to go.

You’ll also find a price benefit in picking a more focused tool like Campaign Monitor, with plans starting at $9/month — less than half of Constant Contact’s $20/month.

Reviews from Campaign Monitor customers

Comprehensive Email Marketing Platform. I’ve tried a lot of different email marketing platforms over my 15 years in marketing and Campaign Monitor is hands-down the best option out there. I would waste hours of my time fiddling around on other platforms to get things to display properly. In other platforms, everything would look great until I send out the email and then the HTML would be all jumbled and things wouldn’t display properly. This is not the case with Campaign Monitor. When I send emails they look exactly the same as they do in the preview. Finally, I can get hours of my life back! — Jessi N, Director of Marketing & Business Development

The best email marketing software. Campaign Monitor is so far the easiest to use in its field. Creating beautiful emails and managing campaigns cannot be easier, even if you have never done it before. — Luca M, CEO and founder

Great User Support and an Accessible Platform. Campaign Monitor is easy to use and accessible for every employee regardless of their skillset. The client service team responds quickly when there are issues to be resolved. — Administrator in Public Relations and Communications

2. Constant Contact vs. GetResponse A screenshot of GetResponse's website.

A screenshot of GetResponse’s website in 2021.


GetResponse is a suite of tools that offers email marketing solutions to both enterprise businesses and small businesses — but is particularly known for its small business solutions.

The brand states that their tools help marketers grow their sales, maximize return on investment, and help you succeed in online marketing.

They boast a robust template library with over 500 pre-built template options, though it’s worth mentioning that customers find the drag-and-drop builder not particularly robust.

GetResponse also has a free plan with limited features for those with under 500 subscribers, making it an attractive option for getting started. From there, plans start at $12.30/month.

Reviews from GetResponse customers

One of the best programs to send emails. GetResponse is an incredible tool to do email marketing, in our company we use it to manage our entire list of clients and distribute in an organized way all our informative and promotional emails, usually the emails arrive or inbox or promotions which is very good and shows great quality in this tool, the percentage of reading and opening emails, GetResponse has a very intuitive and advanced email editor with good templates to create our emails, we usually use it to create promotional emails, you can also manage your contact lists and possible customers, I have imported them from any other data collection tool, on the other hand, regarding the price GetResponse is very kind because their plans in quality and price are excellent and they offer us a large amount of monthly emails for a really accessible price. — Maria S, Marketing Specialist

It is a very reliable tool for email marketing. GetResponse is a very powerful tool, one of the things that I like the most are its reporting and statistics functions since they are very detailed, easy to understand and provide enough data to understand what works best for our landing pages and which campaigns need a readjustment in the strategies to generate more conversions. On the other hand the templates offered have good designs and allow me to create very fast campaigns and easily readjust them. — David B, Web Designer

3. Constant Contact vs. SendPulse SendPulse homepage

A screenshot of SendPulse’s website in 2021.


SendPulse is an email service provider that offers marketing tools intended to help consumers empower their business. Marketing themselves as an all-in-one communication platform, their services expand beyond just email and into SMS, messengers (think chatbots), and web push (browser notifications).

The brand states that the principles behind their vision include being customer-focused and innovative, all while prioritizing teamwork to help provide only the best for their customers.

Customers find the drag-and-drop builder easy to use, and have enjoyed the SMS function as well. And while the platform scores high for ease of use and ease of setup, customers have mentioned bugs, lack of support, and poor performance when building campaigns among their dislikes.

SendPulse offers a free plan for up to 500 subscribers. After that, plans start at $6.40/month — still favorable to Constant Contact’s $20/month.

Reviews from SendPulse Customers

A Great Platform For Email and SMS Marketing. I admit it was pretty challenging to understand the process of creating a template email and sending out your campaign. But once you know the methods of importing, exporting developing campaigns, this platform is a great start point for any individual. I used it in my previous company to send out campaigns. — Jonathan P., Marketer

Good integration and useful tool for email marketing. There are lots of things I like with regards to SendPulse, the free edition of this application is one of them since it provides its end-users the opportunity to evaluate the tool and so that they can make their own conclusions. — Nandani S., Digital Marketing Consultant

4. ActiveCampaign vs. Constant Contact Screenshot of ActiveCampaign's website.

A screenshot of ActiveCampaign’s website in 2021.

ActiveCampaign is a relatively new tool that boasts a lot of features — particularly around their automation platform. Positioning themselves as a “customer experience automation” tool, ActiveCampaign has features that help you reach, nurture, convert, and grow your audience.

Another all-in-one platform, ActiveCampaign offers a lot of advanced features that more seasoned marketers are looking for. Like Campaign Monitor, they offer an advanced automation builder that a lot of ESPs lack.

With features that span a lot of different use cases, some customers might find ActiveCampaign has more than they need, and may not want to pay the $25/month starting price tag. But, for more advanced marketers who are looking to expand far beyond email, and want to do it all from one platform, ActiveCampaign is a compelling choice.

Reviews from ActiveCampaign customers

ActiveCampaign – Great for Solopreneurs & Small Biz Too. I am a fan of MailChimp – but switched to Active Campaign because it merges the capacity for email newsletters and mass mailings with the need for one–to-one messaging and automation. Usually solutions for larger businesses are overkill for micro-businesses, but AC is a great solution for both. — Mary M, Principal

Affordable and functional software for Marketing Automation. The Automation Builder is simple and clear to use, and the storage of previous campaigns for use as templates is incredibly helpful! The help guides available online from Active Campaign are also clear and concise. — Gemma P, Director

5. MailChimp vs. Constant Contact Mailchimp homepage

A screenshot of Mailchimp’s website in 2021.

MailChimp is one of the most popular ESPs on this list. It’s an all-in-one tool with a pretty robust free plan for those with under 2,000 contacts, which makes it easy to say yes to them while getting started. Plus, for beginner marketers who want to be able to manage a lot of their tools — like a website, form builder, popups, and even direct mail — from the same platform, MailChimp is an attractive option. Though, it’s worth noting that running a website with them will be an additional cost from using their email marketing services.

It’s also worth noting that MailChimp just launched a direct integration with Shopify, which is nice for eCommerce retailers.

Marketers who are looking to get more advanced with their marketing, though, might find MailChimp’s features a bit basic. Common quips with MailChimp tend to be around their not-so-advanced automation features, their customer support, and the lack of flexibility in their drag-and-drop editor. Plus, their recent acquisition by Intuit leaves some question marks around where the platform could be heading.

With paid plans starting at $9.99/month, MailChimp is a good option for entry-level marketers looking for an easy-to-use tool and don’t need much email marketing automation or segmentation.

Reviews from MailChimp customers

Modern email program with intuitive interface. Mailchimp is fairly intuitive. The email builder is drag and drop and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. I also like the quick view of the email results on the dashboard. It’s a great way to track the success of a campaign and compare it with previously sent emails.

Dan S., Small Business Co-Founder

Overall good free email marketing program. I like the price point – we are at a free subscription currently. I do like the simplicity of updating and being able to manage contacts well. We have several different groups, depending on the dissemination of information needed, while we can also add tags and target groups that way.

Stephanie L., Landscape Designer

6. Benchmark vs. Constant Contact Benchmark homepage

A screenshot of Benchmark’s website in 2021.

Benchmark promotes itself as “email marketing that won’t slow you down,” thanks to its powerful tools that are streamlined for continued growth. This ESP states that it’s their goal to create tools that help marketers grow their audience, all while helping increase both sales and overall engagement.

Most users find their email builder intuitive and easy to use, giving marks for that part of the platform. That said, users have also found list management difficult, leading to trouble segmenting users or adding lists of new subscribers. Pricing can get somewhat expensive as well as your number of contacts goes up.

Plans for Benchmark has a free version capped at 250 emails per month. To unlock unlimited emails, plans begin at $13/month.

Reviews from Benchmark Email customers

Great Tool for General Marketing. Benchmark Email is user-friendly as straightforward as far as features go. This tool would be great for small business marketing, non-profit association or even corporations. Personally, I enjoy the customization features. The different templates are fun and allow you to create a custom piece of work to reach your audience.

Marissa R., Associate Director of Chapter Services

Benchmark email a great service! This system has allowed to attract new clients and in turn make great advantages or move the traffic of our website, it seems to me that it has extremely attractive simple and simple tools which allows to be much more agile When creating .edit marketing campaigns, we have not had any kind of problem we have had innovation managing to release the work stress found in marketing areas.

Alice T.

7. ConvertKit vs. Constant Contact ConvertKit Homepage

A screenshot of ConvertKit’s website in 2021.

Of the Constant Contact competitors, this one is perhaps the least conventional. ConvertKit is a relatively new email marketing platform specifically tailored toward creators. They have a lot of the features you might expect from an ESP — like automation, sign-up forms, email sending, etc — but their platform is mostly geared toward musicians, writers, podcasters, YouTubers, etc who are looking for a tool to help them monetize their platform and build relationships with their listeners/readers.

For online creators, using ConvertKit is an easy choice. With features geared specifically for making a living off of your online platform, ConvertKit is the leader in this space. For those marketing on behalf of a business or organization, though, a more traditional

ConvertKit is free up to 300 subscribers, and paid plans start at $9/month.

Reviews from ConvertKit customers

User-friendly and easy to start for the not-so-tech-savvy. For someone without a lot of technical knowhow, you can simple, clean, great looking emails. Even someone like me, who is tech-savvy and has used almost every major email marketing provider, the CK setup time is great.

Alaia W., Business Organization & Process Consultant

A great email service for writers! It’s easy to use, and it’s a great email system for people who are writers or write a lot of content.

Isabel S., Portrait Designer

8. AWeber vs. Constant Contact Screenshot of AWeber's website

A screenshot of AWeber’s website in 2021.

AWeber is another ESP that gives marketers a wide range of tools to help grow their businesses. With email marketing services, and other marketing tools like landing page templates, eCommerce pages, and push notifications, AWeber has features to reach just about your entire marketing funnel.

A lot of customers think highly of their automation tools and list management — making it easy to segment your email list and reach targeted groups with targeted messages. At the same time, some say their email builder, email templates, and campaign creation interface are a bit outdated.

AWeber has a free tier of up to 500 subscribers, and from there, their paid pro plan begins at $16.50/month.

Reviews from AWeber Customers

High quality service for a premium price. The service that Aweber provides is top notch. All the tools that it gives, the deliverability of the emails, reporting and analytics all is perfect. — Liudas B, Owner

The best platform for email marketing is incredible. I like how it provides our company with a means to automate the response to personalized emails, I like how it is integrated into each ecosystem of programs, it integrates with other platforms without problem, the delivery capacity is impressive fast, besides it is extremely easy to use and your customer support is effective. — Maiker L, General Manager

9. Emma vs. Constant Contact Screenshot of Emma's website

A screenshot of Emma’s website in 2021.

Emma is an industry leader in email and digital marketing that focuses on helping its consumers drive conversions and revenue with email. They typically cater to the needs of those in more specific industries, like fitness, retail, agencies, restaurants, franchises, universities, and nonprofits.

To help these brands, Emma has built a platform that helps managers keep their brands and messages consistent across distributed teams. With the ability to lock templates and manage campaigns across locations, Emma is ideal for organizations that might have more than one location — like a restaurant franchise or a gym — who need to keep their brand consistent while sending messages specific to their location.

Emma doesn’t send transactional emails out of the box (something a lot of ESPs on this list do) or include a survey tool. If getting quick feedback or transactional emails are top priorities in your email marketing strategy, Emma might not be the tool you need to reach your goals as efficiently as possible.

With prices starting at $89/month, Emma is priced above what a lot of small businesses need. However, if you’re running marketing for a franchise or business with multiple locations, Emma is an excellent choice.

Reviews from Emma customers

Easy tool with massive impact. Emma’s easy-to-edit templates are a breeze to use and are a great way to start a mass mailing. Plus, their ability to test multiple subject lines (and see the results for which ones lead to the most clicks) makes it certain that your email will get the greatest engagement possible. — Dakota R, Resident Director

Reaching our client base with Emma. I love the ease of use. The ready-to-go templates save me time and brain power. Our clients get a beautiful, professional-looking communication from us. I can integrate and customize the look of my Eventbrite events into my emails with no trouble. — Trista B, Marketing Manager & Maxwell Health Champion

10. Sendinblue vs Constant Contact Sendinblue homepage

A screenshot of Sendinblue’s website in 2021.

Sendinblue is a powerful ESP that covers an array of marketing needs. With email marketing tools, SMS, Chat, and a shared inbox feature for support teams, Sendinblue is an all-encompassing tool.

Customers seem to get the most out of their campaign creation workflow, which is said to be intuitive and easy to segment. However, some customers have complained of their automation features, as well as a lack of integrations with other tools.

Sendinblue has a free tier with unlimited contacts, but it only lets you send 300 emails a day and misses core features like A/B testing. Their paid plans start at $25/month.

Reviews from Sendinblue customers

Great for email automation. Nice free plan for starters and to learn basics. Good support. It works. The templates are good. The UX is good. Creating and following a campaign is easy and you get good information about it. The free version lets you start and try features and learn. — Gastón B

Good Value! Compared to Constant Contact send in Blue is a great value. Our email list approaches 70k and we found that CC’s pricing kept creeping up. Their templates are easy to set up and customize for your program. — Dominic J, Executive Director

Wrap up

Those who are considering making a switch from Constant Contact will find no shortage of alternatives. Picking the right ESP for your business needs can be difficult, but we hope that this blog post helped provide some guidance for your decision.

If Campaign Monitor stood out to you amongst this list of Constant Contact alternatives, feel free to request your live demo today and see what we can do to help improve your email marketing efforts.

The post Top 10 Constant Contact Alternatives for 2022 appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
75 Holiday Email Subject Lines to Light Up Inboxes This Christmas Season

Check out some of the very best holiday email subject lines to inspire your own this holiday season.

It’s shaping up to be a crazy holiday season for, well, just about everyone. But especially for email marketers. Thanks to supply chain woes, consumers are eager to start buying, it only means that the holiday rush is starting earlier and running longer, with the extra workload falling on marketing teams.

What does this mean for you? It means now is the time to start crafting holiday email marketing messages. In fact, email open rates start to spike before Halloween is even over.

We’ve updated this post for 2021, and even included some bonus holiday email marketing campaigns curated just for you.

To provide you some inspiration, here are 75 holiday subject line examples from B2C, B2B, and nonprofits that are perfect for your holiday email campaigns.

B2C email subject lines Rip Curl: 5 reasons you need a SearchGPS this Xmas Rapha: Black Friday – coming soon Italic: Last chance for free shipping Freshbooks: Deliver Some Cheer this Holiday Season Food & Wine: 27 Recipes for a Holiday Cocktail Bash Joss & Main: Jingle Belles: Gifts for her, best-selling bedding & more on sale today Dot & Bo: Ring In The New Year – Plus: 12 Days of Christmas Gifting Starts Now Kate Spade: Last day! 30% off everything with our Cyber Monday sale Emergency Essentials: Black Friday Sale! Check Back Tomorrow To View the Deals! Steve Madden: Cyber Tuesday – 50% Off Clearance! Sports Authority: Hurry, Only Hours Left for Cyber Monday Savings! BevMo!: $20 Coupon! Save Big on Cyber Monday. Seafolly: All she wants for Christmas is S E A F O L L Y Birchbox: Free Boxes. Ohh Yeah. Skechers: Get BLACK FRIDAY savings all weekend at Skechers.com! Steve Madden: If You Open One Email This Black Friday… Finish Line: Black Friday Doorbusters END TODAY. Snag ’em before it slams shut. San Diego Chargers: Share the Joy, Bring a Toy To The Chargers Game J. Crew: It’s OK to have seconds (or thirds) of this sale Provisions by Food52: Gifting Made Easy: Free Shipping + Discounted Gift Cards + Our Best Picks Finish Line: Black Friday Doorbusters start now. Put down the drumstick. Vacationist: Gobble Up These Deals! Orbitz: Good gravy! 20% off Food & Wine: 15 Thanksgiving Drinks to Start on While Cooking Nordstrom: Black Friday Is Here Early Patagonia: You donate, we’ll match Lyft: Join #GivingTuesday with Lyft Instacart: This week’s forecast? Stress-free holiday grocery shopping! Southwest: Snow Fare Like A Low Fare! De Beers: There’s still time… One Kings Lane: Post-Christmas grab bag: pick a present for yourself Anthropologie: Thanksgiving hosting, toasting & roasting must-haves Rapha: Last express shipping days for Rapha Gifts Monoprice: 10% OFF Site-Wide + Shop Our Holiday Gift Guide! Shutterfly: Just 3 days: get 50% off + NEW Disney Frozen Stockings Capsule: Christmas Deadline: TODAY – Best stocking stuffer ever! Lululemon: Best. (Cyber) Monday. Ever. Musician’s Friend: Perfect last-minute gift–a gift certificate Papa Murphy’s: Don’t Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle…Let Us Help with Dinner! Groupon: Groupon’s Most Wanted This Holiday Season JetBlue: Up to 50% bonus – ’tis better to give AND receive! KSL Deals: Save 10% with Promo Code: Christmas10 Utah Valley Massage Therapy: Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas Bass Pro Shops: Final Hours! Stretch your payments for 6 months KSL Deals: 14 Awesome Gift Ideas Guitar Center: 12 Deals of Christmas—Updated Daily Cabela’s: You’ve made your list… Backcountry.com: For the Person that Has Everything Musician’s Friend: St. Nick’s here with two ways to save Audible.com: A Free Holiday Gift Just for Our Members Ancestry.com: Save big for Cyber Monday – give the gift of family Target: Pssst! Get the scoop on Black Friday De Beers: Find the Perfect Gift Bass Pro Shops: Save up to 25% on Santa’s Toy Shop! Monoprice: Holiday Gift Guide – Headphones & Earphones Starting Under $10 Homestead Resort: Home for the Holidays at Homestead Resort Moovly: Create your own Season’s Greetings video in 10 steps Guitar Center: Alert: Cyber Monday Has Been Extended BarkBox: Dog people give the best gifts Waves Audio: Waves’ Black Friday Sale Starts Now – Get a Free New Plugin ProAudioStar: ProAudioStar Will Beat ANY Black Friday Price PLUS Give You 15% Off Your Next Purchase Bonus — Magic Spoon Cereal: We never do this Bonus — hims: keep your holiday candle lit Bonus — Madewell: New arrivals +gift guide = ? Bonus — Everlane: No Sale Today. Here’s Why. Bonus: — Article: This weekend only: please don’t shop ❌ B2B email subject lines Team Tony Robbins: Your last chance to save in time for the holidays. Dale Carnegie Training: Be Bold This Holiday Season with Powerful Conversations Pureleverage.com: Your $1.00 Cyber Monday sale!! Voices.com: Cyber Monday Deal from Voices.com Coming Soon 3 Key Elements: Stressed Out by the Holidays? Body Language Tools to the Rescue! Pinterest Partner Team: This week: Create holiday boards and plan Pinteresty events Nonprofit email subject lines SF-Marin Food Bank: Today is #GivingTuesday California Academy of Sciences: Unique Holiday Gifts for Everyone on Your List! The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: #GivingTuesday is today! Friends of the Sea Otter: Adorable Sea Otter Gifts Available on Giving Tuesday Monterey Bay Aquarium: Today is #GivingTuesday: Donate now and become part of a new tradition. The Marine Mammal Center: A Special Gift to Thank You for All You Do Just Give: Gifts that do good…and feel good Susan G. Komen: Holiday gift deadline is tomorrow

While these holiday subject lines certainly spark inspiration, you’ll want to put your own creativity and message into your subject lines. Here are some tips to help you create holiday subject lines that will shine.

Get our Ultimate Guide to Holiday Email Marketing and crush your holiday goals.  Tips for writing your best holiday subject lines

Now that you’ve looked at some amazing holiday subject line examples, have a look at some of these tips and best practices that you can filter your own subject lines through as you’re writing.

1. Use words that increase conversions and top holiday words

It may be tempting to get extra creative when it comes to creating fun subject lines for email marketing messages, but it’s also important to remember that there are specific data-backed words that increase conversions. Here are some of the top words to use in subject lines that can boost your conversions:

• Sale • Off • Now • Thank you • You • New • Exclusive • Discover • Be the first • Instantly

You’ll notice that each of these words evoke either a feeling of connection, persuasion, urgency, or interest—all of which are necessary to help you make holiday sales.

You should also consider using emojis in your subject lines. The playfulness of an emoji is a good complement to festive holiday subject lines and can help your email stand out in inboxes.

2. Pique interest with holiday words

Not only will you want to use proven data-driven words that convert, but you will also want to use some of the top holiday words to remind subscribers you’re offering special deals that are only available during the holidays. As you read through all the fun holiday subject lines above, you’ll notice a few words consistently stand out including the following:

• Holiday • Christmas • Black Friday • Thanksgiving • Gift/Give • Shopping • Last Chance/Minute • Special • Deals • Save

When you can, work both these top converting words and top holiday email marketing words into your subject lines, and you’ll enjoy the benefits that come from writing excellent holiday marketing email copy.

3. Promote your offer in the subject line

Another common theme shared by good holiday email copy is stating the offer in the subject line. Chandon does this in their pre-Thanksgiving email campaign offering free ground shipping — enabling their subscribers to stock up on bubbly for their celebrations. The subject line simply states that ground shipping is included, and the headline reinforces the offer.

4. Offer Solutions

Not only is it important to mention deals and promotions in your subject lines, but it’s also important to solve customers’ holiday shopping problems. For example, some people might not know what to put in their spouse’s stocking, what to serve for Christmas dinner, or how to find the perfect gift for their mother-in-law. Offering solutions to these types of problems as well as a promotion can bring satisfying and unexpected conversions.

This example from Birchbox promises to alleviate holiday stress and links to their holiday shop with gifts broken down by price point.


Gift guides are another effective way to help customers. Curating your products by interest or use case also helps direct buyers in the right direction.

Wrap up

As you prepare your holiday email marketing strategy, remember to keep these tips in mind. As inboxes get more and more crowded as the holiday season arrives, your subject lines will be pivotal in making your messages stand out to your email list.

There isn’t much time, but you can still get ready. Make sure to check out our holiday guide for more email marketing tips that will hopefully lead to increased revenue and a very happy holiday season.

The post 75 Holiday Email Subject Lines to Light Up Inboxes This Christmas Season appeared first on Campaign Monitor.