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- Amanda Ciarci
8 Genius Digital Storytelling Examples (All New for 2022)
Learn how digital storytelling can help your marketing team connect with an audience.
- Chad Hetherington
How to Plan for Zero Click Searches in Your SEO Strategy
Are you familiar with zero click searches? Learn all about the term and how to optimize for it in this blog post.
- Jeff Keleher
Company Newsletters: Top Examples and Tips for Creating Your Own (Infographic)
Take a look at some of the best company newsletters in marketing and learn how to create, structure and distribute your very own.
- Ashlee Sierra
Email Marketing Agencies: Your Partners in Email Excellence
What are email marketing agencies and how can they help take your emails to the next level? Let’s take a closer look at this promising partnership!
- Kimberly Mehrtens
How to Complete a Brand Audit (Infographic)
Step-by-step instructions on how to complete a brand audit for your business.
- Christopher Whitbeck
Wearing Many Hats With Estrella Alvarado
Learn how Estrella Alvarado transitioned from a career in arts and culture to one of Brafton’s most multi-talented and passionate SEO and Demand Gen Specialists.
- Stevie Snow
What Is Digital PR and How Does It Work?
Digital PR sits at the intersection of traditional public relations and modern digital marketing — here’s how it works and why your brand needs it.
- Collin Sparling
14 Must-Try Creative Marketing Ideas for 2022
Incorporating creative marketing ideas into your next campaign can help it stand out from the competition. Draw inspiration from these great content examples.
- Isaac Norris
Hashtag Social Media — Musings From Brafton’s Social Team — Finally, Fall Edition
Fall is just around the corner, and personally, I can’t wait. 🍂 The crisp morning air, hot coffee, maybe even a PSL? Sign. Me. Up.
- Dominick Sorrentino
What Is a Customer Archetype and How Do You Make One?
Understand the behaviors and personalities of your core customer segments by creating and leveraging customer archetypes. Here’s how.
- Grace Clunie
360i is Now DENTSU CREATIVE

Dentsu International’s Global CEO, Wendy Clark, and Global CCO Fred Levron announced the launch of DENTSU CREATIVE, dentsu’s global creative network, at Cannes Lions. Designed to unify and accelerate creativity across the business, DENTSU CREATIVE will serve as the sole creative network for Dentsu International working with clients around the globe.  In a bold move, Dentsu International has created an entirely new global creative network, uniting its creative agencies, including 360i, dentsuMB and Isobar, and expanding its Entertainment, Earned Attention and Experience capabilities. The launch is part of a broader strategy aimed at simplifying client engagement and injecting creativity in everything Dentsu International does, all backed by a depth and breadth of creative capabilities that are unparalleled in the market.  DENTSU CREATIVE is poised to transform brands and businesses through the lens of Modern Creativity, which looks to deliver ideas that Create Culture, Change Society and Invent the Future.  Led by Fred Levron, who joined Dentsu International as Chief Creative Officer in November 2021 and has demonstrated the transformative power of creativity throughout his acclaimed career; DENTSU CREATIVE will be comprised of 9,000 creative experts in 46 markets connected to 37,000 media and CXM experts across Dentsu International, and collaborate closely with Dentsu’s creative team in Japan.  DENTSU CREATIVE blends dentsu’s unique DNA of 120-year-old Japanese heritage and craft with its rich experience of building brands in the modern media landscape. Using customer intelligence to deliver ideas that are big enough to live anywhere, bold enough to chart new executional territory and rich enough to connect personally with millions.  

Read more about the launch of DENTSU CREATIVE in Adweek.  

The post 360i is Now DENTSU CREATIVE appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i
Adweek’s Social Confidential: How Sour Patch Kids’ ‘No-Rules’ Approach Hypnotizes and Delights Fans

Sour Patch Kids, everyone’s favorite sweet-sour candy, has taken social by storm. Soon after making Gen Z dreams come true with an Olivia Rodrigo collab that all began with a Tweet, the brand blew past one million followers to become the most popular snack brand on TikTok. How did they do it? 

Adweek recently caught up with 360i Social Strategist Shelby Jacobs to find out, as part of the Social Confidential video series that looks behind the logo to find out who is tweeting and sharing for major brands. Shelby dished on SPK’s most popular TikTok, the sweetest part of her job, her advice for fellow brand managers on social, and more. 

Head to Adweek to hear more about the strategy that launched SPK to 1.4 million followers.  

The post Adweek’s Social Confidential: How Sour Patch Kids’ ‘No-Rules’ Approach Hypnotizes and Delights Fans appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i

360i was selected as one of 15 agencies to watch by Adweek’s Agencies and Creativity editorial team. The brand was selected for its mastery of TikTok, work for OREO, a track record of new business and extensive plans to make Preparation H a digital super star. 

See why 360i was celebrated for its ability to effectively tap into culture and connect brands with consumers in Adweek

The post Adweek Names 360i as a Creative-First Agency to Watch in 2022 appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i

We’re taking a quick break from launching killer work for OREO7-Eleven and Burger King to welcome some new senior leaders to the team here at 360i and across dentsu’s creative offering, which also includes our sister agencies dentsuMB and Isobar. After a strong year of new business wins and organic growth, we’ve added some new roles and new leaders who are courageous, curious, and bring a can-do spirit to the work we do each day.   

Brian Eden joins 360i as Executive Creative Director after nearly three years at agency FIG. Prior to FIG, he spent more than five years at Droga5, and over the course of his career has worked with a range of clients including The New York Times, Hyundai, Ancestry, Hennessy, and more. In addition to picking up a Titanium Lion at Cannes for Prudential’s “Challenge Lab” and Best in Show at AICP Post for Zillow’s “The Journey”, his work has been recognized at every major industry awards show, including D&AD, One Show, and the Effies. Brian will be leading creative for clients including OREO, Kroger, and Pirate’s Booty.  

We’ve also brought on Bridget Jewell as Group Director, Social Creative. Bridget spent the previous eight years at Periscope, where she rose from her role as a community engagement strategist to become a Creative Director overseeing work for clients like Target, Ferrera Candy Company, and Hefty. Her work has picked up awards at D&AD, One Show, Effies and more. At 360i, Bridget will lead a creative team of 25+ and growing, tasked with creating culturally relevant and breakthrough content across social and digital channels for brands like Burger King, 7-Eleven and Kroger.  

Vasili Gavre has been tapped as Executive Creative Director for dentsu Creative, after working with brands such as Apple, Budweiser, Airbnb, Facebook, Nike, Unilever, and Vice Media. Vasili’s work has earned accolades from Cannes, Effies, D&AD, and One Show, to name just a few. As an artist, Gavre brings strong conceptual thinking with executional knowledge, innovative approaches and diverse perspectives. Working across the integrated agency network, Gavre will support 360i and Isobar – recently named one of Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators.  

And Jason Oke joins dentsu Creative as EVP, Business Leadership, leading a portfolio of integrated clients across industries like retail, food, travel, and finance, and helping build out the network’s integrated client leadership capabilities. Most recently, Jason was at WPP for ten years, in several global agency and client leadership roles including Global Client Leader for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Regional Managing Director for WPP’s Team Colgate-Palmolive in both EMEA and APAC, Managing Director of Y&R Hong Kong, and being one of the founders of Red Fuse Communications, Colgate-Palmolive’s dedicated, integrated global communications agency. Over his 25-year career, Jason has worked globally with many Fortune 100 companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, Nintendo, Starbucks and more. 

“From creating brand-building platforms at dentsuMB, to culture-rich campaigns from 360i, to experience-driven innovation at Isobar, dentsu Creative is fostering an environment in which talent with a wide range of expertise can do the best work of their careers,” said dentsu Creative CEO, Americas, Jon Dupuis. “The addition of proven leaders like Brian, Bridget, Vasili and Jason adds even more fuel to a year of strong momentum, as we build an unparalleled creative community where talent can unleash creativity for growth and for good. We’re thrilled to have them onboard, working closely with our CCO Menno Kluin, to guide our clients’ business success and our talent’s careers.” 

These new appointments follow a number of exciting developments at 360i and across the dentsu organization in 2021. In addition to landing creative and digital for a portfolio of GSK consumer healthcare brands earlier in the year, we were named Social AOR for Burger King in October. And our work is delivering. We launched the OREO x Pokemon collab, which has become OREO’s best-selling limited edition cookie to date; helped fuel 7-Eleven’s growth with their first brand campaign in years directed by the legendary Harmony Korine, and kicked off a spontaneous collab for Sour Patch Kids with Gen Z icon Olivia Rodrigo that had fans in a frenzy. More to come in 2022!  

The post 360i and dentsu Creative Bolster Leadership Team appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i

Burger King has hired 360i to oversee its US social media account, a move the brand says is needed to bring a fresh perspective to its strategy.  

Ad Age covered the significant win as part of their weekly agency brief. The international chain acknowledged a proven track record since 360i already handles social for 7-Eleven and several other Mondelez brands including OREO and Sour Patch kids.  

See this lead story in Ad Age’s Agency News email newsletter

The post Burger King Taps 360i to Ignite the Brand’s Social Strategy with Fresh Perspective appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i
360i’s Ashley Evangelista Recognized on Business Insider’s Rising Stars of Madison Avenue

We are pleased to share that our own Ashley Evangelista was named on Business Insider’s 2021 Rising Stars of Madison Avenue. This list recognizes individuals that develop standout creative campaigns, use data in new ways, change business practices, and challenge the traditional agency model. Ashley does all of these things and more with her team at 360i. 

Ashley is a key strategic leader on several large accounts at 360i and most recently led the strategy for 7-Eleven’s first major brand campaign in nearly a decade. Check out “Take it to Eleven” here. Ashley’s achievements go beyond creatively solving our clients’ business challenges. She helped to grow 360i’s roster by bringing in consumer healthcare brands TUMS and Emergen-C. 

Congratulations Ashley!  

Read the full article on Business Insider

The post 360i’s Ashley Evangelista Recognized on Business Insider’s Rising Stars of Madison Avenue appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i

This week, 360i launched OREO x Pokemon, which features a beautiful OREO cookie animation and OOH art display which is currently installed in Los Angeles. 

This work is an example of authentic brand alignment with the animation perfectly showcasing the artistry of Pokemon while still spotlighting the iconic OREO cookie. The collab is being celebrated in advertising trades and mainstream press.   

Witness how the hunt begins with coverage in Adweek

The post Catch ‘em. Then Eat ‘em. 360i Spearheads a New OREO x Pokemon Collab appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i
Ed Zazzera Joins dentsu as Head of Production for Network’s Creative Offering

We are excited to welcome Ed Zazzera as the Head of Production for dentsu’s creative offering. Ed will streamline, optimize, and continually elevate the creative output for dentsu’s creative companies, which includes 360i. He’ll partner with former DDB colleague and current US Chief Creative Officer Menno Kluin to build an integrated production process that ensures all parts of the creative machine operate in concert. Together, the duo will fortify craft and execution to produce bold, impactful creative ideas.

The former production lead for BBH and DDB joins dentsu Creative from McCann Health. Ed brings decades of dedication to executional excellence and numerous awards, including honors at Cannes Lions, D&AD, One Show, Clio, AICP, AICP Next, and the Webby’s, amongst others.  

Kluin stated, “This was a long sought-after role that required someone who can adapt to dentsu Creative’s unique integrated model. We’re a craft-first, outcome-obsessed network of creative companies that deliver everything – from big TV spots at dentsuMB and culture-rich campaigns at 360i, to experience-driven innovation at Isobar. Ed’s deep experience across industries, verticals, and disciplines will streamline these outputs and help deliver creative consistency across the network.” 

Most recently, Ed led integrated production on the highly awarded, The Unfinished Votes, campaign for Change the Ref, which utilized deepfake technology to bring a victim of gun violence to life to deliver a powerful message around voting and firearm legislation. 

Read more about Ed and his experience in Shots.

The post Ed Zazzera Joins dentsu as Head of Production for Network’s Creative Offering appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- 360i

360i Executive Creative Director Devon Hong shared his creative inspirations and what has shaped his personal life and career in The Muse by Clio. He has a lot of experience to tap into, including recent work on 7-Eleven’s “Take it to Eleven” brand refresh and various projects for Mondelez International. 

Check out his storied career from Spotify to Smirnoff here

The post 360i’s Devon Hong Shares His Creative Distinctiveness in an Interview with The Muse by Clio appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

- Mekenna Epperson

Research estimates that 80% of new leads will never result in sales, and companies that excel at lead nurturing will generate 50% more revenue with 33% less cost. How well are you nurturing your leads? 

When we think about lead nurturing, the first things that come to mind are to be friendly to your leads and answer their questions. However, implementing a campaign that makes people want to convert takes much more thought and creativity. How can you connect and engage with consumers and convince them you’re the solution to their problems? That’s where the marketing funnel can help.

What Is the Marketing Funnel?

The marketing funnel is a model that shows you how to appeal to consumers as they travel through the customer journey. It includes several stages designed to build brand awareness, engage with audiences, and ultimately lead to customer conversions. As consumers enter each step of the marketing funnel, marketers try to capture as many leads as possible to create a loyal customer base.

Marketing Funnel Stages

Successful marketing strategies cater to all funnel stages to reach users. Understanding each stage of the funnel helps you create individual touchpoints and appropriately interact with your audience wherever they are in the customer journey. Below are the marketing funnel stages and each stage’s goals.

Awareness

Awareness is the first and most crucial stage of the marketing funnel since it’s where customers first get to know your brand. The awareness stage encourages interaction and engagement. In this stage, leads are drawn in for further nurturing in the rest of the funnel. 

The critical question during this stage is how will you attract your audience? How do you get your content out to them? You can build brand awareness through content like blog posts, social media posts, and infographics. Webinars, special events, and advertising can also attract the right audience. 

The main goals of the awareness stage include

Finding your target audienceLearning more about their goalsDiscovering their pain pointsGetting your brand in front of them Interest and Research

After becoming aware of your brand, people move on to the interest and research stage. In this stage, they spend time researching and learning more about the company, its products or services, and any other helpful information the company shares. Companies now have the opportunity to develop a relationship with their new audience through classes, emails, and newsletters. 

People want to learn more about your brand during the interest stage. They want to know how your products or services can benefit them. The interest stage should focus on building trust with your leads. 

The main goals of the interest and research stage include

Interacting with your target audienceOffering solutions to their pain pointsGaining their trust Consideration

During the consideration stage, leads are now seen as potential customers. Leads that reach this stage are interested in your brand and ready to choose you over competitors. At this stage, keeping the relationship going and guiding them to make a purchase is essential. Producing targeted content and having meaningful interactions can help you nurture the relationship. This is also an excellent time to offer free trials and case studies.

As part of this stage, it’s crucial to clearly demonstrate the differences between your brand and competing brands. What makes you stand out from the competition? How can your offerings better suit the needs of your potential customers? Automated emails offering more information about products and offers can encourage potential customers to purchase from your company. 

The main goals of the consideration stage include

Continuing to build trustProving your brand’s valueConvincing your potential customers to make a purchase Purchase 

The purchase stage is where prospects make their buying decision and become customers. During this stage, the most crucial goal is positioning your brand at the top of prospects’ minds. Demonstrate how you can solve prospects’ needs and how to choose the right products or services to meet those needs. 

By this point, prospects have learned a great deal about your brand and feel confident in making a purchase. Make the purchase process as straightforward as possible. Ensure they know how to complete a purchase on your website or who to contact about a consultation. Include clear calls to action to direct people where they need to go to complete their purchase. 

The main goals of the purchase stage include

Simplifying the purchase processMaking customers feel confident in their purchaseOffering product or service support Benefits of the Marketing Funnel

Companies that spend time nurturing their lead relationships have a better chance of converting those leads into actual customers. The marketing funnel helps companies shift their strategies throughout the customer journey to target the right audiences and appropriately nurture their leads. Other benefits of the funnel include

Focus on the buyer persona. The marketing funnel helps you stay focused on the needs of your prospects and how your products, services, and content can relate to them. Simplify the customer journey. The marketing funnel helps you quickly see the entire customer journey to find the right tools and techniques for every stage.Better planning. By mapping out the whole customer journey, you can find any gaps in the system and fix them before they become a problem. Easier tracking. The marketing funnel helps you measure where you’re losing customers to help you adjust your strategy.  The Customer Experience Funnel

It’s common for brands to flip the funnel after a purchase is made. This flip, commonly known as the customer experience funnel, defines the process for turning customers into brand advocates. Creating brand advocates can refuel the marketing funnel through awareness and referral. The stages of the customer experience funnel are outlined below. 

Repeat Purchase

Once a customer has made a purchase, the next step is to convince them to return. Continue to nurture customer relationships through interactions and follow-ups after the purchase to prove to them why it’s worth returning.

Customer Loyalty

Customers develop a preference for a company during the customer loyalty stage and begin to identify with the brand. Building a personal connection is essential during this stage. The best way to build this connection is to develop a brand community, regularly engage with customers, and provide any needed support. 

Referral

Customers loyal to a brand are more likely to refer them to others. They may suggest your brand or products when asked for recommendations or share the word of your business with friends and family. 

Promoting

Loyal customers have the potential to become brand advocates. They may write positive reviews about your brand or products or share your products on social media, which can generate more leads. 

A recommendation from an outside source unaffiliated with the brand can influence prospects. To better support advocates, companies can build their communities, ask advocates to take part in case studies, and engage with them on social media.

The main goals of the customer experience funnel are to increase the number of purchases and encourage more awareness and referrals to fuel a new marketing funnel. 

Conclusion

When people are ready to make a purchase, they’re more likely to choose a company they’re more familiar with. The more people know about your brand, the more likely they will convert into customers. Therefore, understanding your brand and how it fits into a marketing funnel is essential for success. 

If you’re struggling to determine how to cater to consumers throughout the marketing funnel, Avalaunch Media® can help. We launch brands to their highest potential by walking them through specific marketing strategies and creating content that appeals to their audience. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you navigate through every marketing funnel stage. 

- Mekenna Epperson

Landing pages are web pages that visitors “land” on when clicking on an email link or ads on Google or social media. While it’s true that visitors can land on your homepage, it doesn’t qualify as a landing page because they are designed for different purposes.

Understanding the differences between landing pages vs. homepages is crucial for implementing the right marketing strategies. The most significant difference between the two is intention. A landing page is a separate page created to promote a single campaign. It should have a solid call to action (CTA) and be free from distractions. A homepage is part of a larger website. It includes a lot of information about your brand and is designed to help visitors explore your company. 

The Difference Between a Landing Page and a Website Homepage 

Landing pages and website homepages may look similar, but they offer distinct purposes in marketing. Here are those differences and what makes them an essential part of your marketing strategy. 

Target Audience

A landing page is a page someone lands on after clicking on your ad. Paid ads let you target demographics to appeal to those most likely to convert. When you pay for a Google ad, you know what keywords people are searching for and what kind of people are looking for your services or products. This information helps you reach the audience who are more likely to make a purchase. 

People who click your paid ads during a Google search are more likely than organic traffic to be interested in your products or services and less likely to be interested in exploring your website. Because of this, your landing page should only provide the content and information they need to convert.

Most advertising traffic should be directed to a single goal-oriented landing page to maximize ROAS (return on ad spend). Homepage traffic should rarely come from paid ads. There are unpaid sources your homepage traffic can come from, such as social media and organic web searches. 

Homepages are meant to appeal to audiences who want to explore your brand. The information on your homepage should help this audience understand who you are as a company to build brand awareness. 

Page Goal

Landing pages and homepages should have different goals. The main objectives of a homepage should be to introduce and explain the brand and encourage engagement. Landing pages, however, should have one specific purpose. A landing page promotes a particular offer, product, or service rather than the brand as a whole. Landing pages focusing on a single goal result in higher conversion rates and, consequently, a higher return on investment.

The purpose of a landing page is to convert traffic. Homepages, however, have other uses. A homepage often has a navigation bar near the top of the page and can link to several other site pages or your social media or blog. The links on your homepage are essential for helping visitors navigate or interact with your website.

Landing pages shouldn’t have any other links. The goal is to keep your viewers on your landing page until they convert, which means avoiding links that could cause a distraction. Try to give visitors all the information they need without visiting another page. 

Page Content

Some info on your homepage can be included on your landing page, but the landing page should only contain content related to the offer or offerings you’re trying to sell. 

Because you know what search terms and ads brought visitors to your landing page, it should contain content specifically related to those ads or terms. Don’t distract visitors with irrelevant content. It’s best to design your landing pages to help visitors find exactly what they’re looking for when they click your ad. 

Instead of including content to convince a visitor to take immediate action, a homepage should contain all of the information a visitor needs to learn about your brand as a whole. It should include links to other pages for visitors who are interested in exploring your brand and all you have to offer. 

Call to Action

Landing pages are action-oriented and should have some kind of CTA to encourage your audience to convert. Examples of CTAs include filling out a form, calling, or making a purchase. No matter what CTA you use, it should be straightforward, such as “Shop Now” or “Call Us Today.” 

On the other hand, homepages are meant to be a resource for visitors. While you can use specific CTAs on your homepage, they are not as crucial as on a landing page. 

When to Use a Landing Page vs. Homepage

Landing pages are more likely to convert than homepages, so you might wonder why a homepage is necessary. Your homepage is an essential resource, as it lets your audience explore your brand in a way that landing pages don’t. People can get to know your brand through your homepage. It can navigate visitors to visit your blog or “About” page, learn more about products and services, etc. 

Every website should have a homepage as a storefront for your brand. A landing page should be used to accomplish a specific goal, especially when running ads. 

Features of a Good Homepage

How you design your homepage will play a significant role in the engagement it receives. Here are some features to include on your homepage to make it more appealing to your audience.

Specific Business Overview

Your homepage should clarify your business and what it does. It should answer the essential questions such as who you are, what you do, and how you can help potential customers. Visitors should understand your brand from your homepage and feel encouraged to visit your website further to learn more about your offerings.

Design

We’ve all been taught the importance of a good first impression, which remains true for your homepage. Your homepage is an introduction to your brand and is often the first page people will see when they want to learn more about you. People aren’t likely to stick around if your homepage isn’t clean and easy to read. 

Spend some extra time on your homepage. Design it so people will feel like it’s worth their time visiting. People won’t take your brand seriously if your homepage gives the impression that your company is underdeveloped.

Navigation

A well-designed homepage will make it quick and easy for users to navigate your entire website. Visitors who land on your homepage should be able to access all essential pages, such as your blog, content page, and product pages. Providing easy navigation tools encourages quick and efficient engagement.

Homepages don’t need a specific call to action, but they should allow some kind of action. For example, you can include a contact form at the bottom of the page or provide links to contact pages. You don’t need to convince visitors to do something, but you should make it easy for them to know how to take action if they want to.

Features of a Good Landing Page

Because landing pages are meant to drive conversions, they need specific features to help customers complete the conversion process. Here are some factors to consider when designing your landing page. 

Focus

Landing pages need a single focus without navigation options or links to other pages. Before creating your landing page, determine the singular goal and how to achieve it. What kind of CTA do you need to add? What information is essential for customers to convert? Keeping landing pages simple is important; anything over and beyond a single subject detracts from the main objective. 

Interesting Copy

Sales copy is the most critical part of a good landing page. Design is essential, too, but words sell. Your landing page’s goal will help you determine what type of sales copy you should use. Are you trying to sell a specific product? Grow your email list? Bring in more calls? Knowing your goal helps write clean copy and encourages people to complete an action. 

Enticing CTA

Ensure your CTAs are accessible for visitors to spot on the page. CTAs that stand out on landing pages are more likely to drive conversions than more subtle CTAs. When there’s not enough contrast between text and CTAs, they can be easy to miss, and lost CTAs lead to fewer conversions. 

Conclusion

Landing pages and homepages are both valuable tools. Landing pages drive conversions, while homepages are a resource for visitors to get to know your brand. If you’re struggling to determine what to do with your homepage or how to design a landing page, we can help. 

At Avalaunch Media®, we strive to help brands achieve their goals. Our talented team of marketing experts can help you design your homepage and a landing page that will help you reach audiences for greater conversions. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you bring in the right leads.

- Mekenna Epperson

Time management is a skill that can make or break your career. However, people aren’t born productive. If you don’t feel like you’re skilled in this area, the good news is that time management isn’t a talent — it’s a skill you can develop. We have some tips to help you learn about it and start utilizing it moving forward.

Benefits of Time Management

Learning to be good at time management can make your life easier in the long run in so many ways. Effective time management can reduce stress, give you more opportunities at work, and enhance your ability to achieve goals. Once you experience the benefits of this skill, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to learn it!

You need to manage your time effectively in every aspect of life to reach your full potential. Although your work-life balance makes it seem like your job and the rest of your life should be separate, one always affects the other. Both are elevated when you learn to manage your time effectively.

Stress Relief

No matter your job or how much you work, you’re bound to experience stress. At least a portion of that stress is probably due to a lack of scheduling and managing your time. When you learn to set goals and prioritize tasks, you are more likely to reduce stress and enjoy work more. 

Seeing your to-do list in real-time and blocking time to finish tasks can help you breathe a little easier and use your time more effectively. Be in charge of your schedule instead of letting your schedule be in charge of you. More than almost anything else, this will help relieve stress at work.

More Time

Creating a list of everything you need to do and scheduling time to do those things may help you realize that you have more time to accomplish your goals than you thought. It helps to write out your entire day and what you need to do at any given time.

The act of time blocking can help focus more deeply and finish your tasks faster — and with greater success. You can block out distractions because you know exactly what you should be doing at specific times. 

More Opportunities 

When you have more time, you may find yourself with more opportunities. These opportunities could be at work, in your personal life, or even both. You can grow and excel in your career when you know how to manage your time well. 

Your supervisors will start to notice that you are managing your time effectively, and they might start offering you more opportunities and chances to further your career and your goals. Being able to meet deadlines with aplomb once you know how to manage your time will show others that you are capable and responsible enough to take on other responsibilities and projects. 

Ability to Achieve Goals

Whatever goals you want to achieve in your life, effective time management can help you get there. You won’t be scrambling to find time to work on your own projects because you’re overwhelmed by deadlines and work projects. After learning how to manage your time with schedules, to-do lists, time blocking, etc., you’ll be able to start adding your own goals, both short- and long-term, into your life and shooting for the stars. 

Time management skills take little to no innate talent to develop, so don’t give up if it takes some time to get the hang of it. Keep working at it and see the difference it can make in your life.

Tips for Effective Time Management

Now it’s time to dive into our tips for effective time management. Implementing these strategies into your work and personal life can make all the difference for you. You might find yourself with more time to do the things you want to do, and you can finish work tasks faster and with more skill without feeling overwhelmed or rushed through tasks to meet deadlines.

People in your life might notice that you excel at time management, and they’ll want to know your secrets. It’s no big secret, though. Just learn some skills and integrate them into your life to create new habits.

Set Goals Correctly

While any sort of goal is a move in the right direction, it’s essential to set goals correctly. Your goals need to be achievable and realistic. You should set daily, weekly, monthly, and long-term goals. All of your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. You can then put your plans into to-do lists.

When your goals are too nebulous, they’re pretty tricky to accomplish. Solidify your plans and know what you want from your career and personal life. And remember, a goal that isn’t written down is just a wish. Write down your goals and focus on what you want to accomplish.

Prioritize Well

Once you have your goals, you must prioritize them. It can help to divide your goals into the 4 Ds of time management: Do, Defer, Delegate, and Delete. Do the most important tasks. Defer the tasks that are important but not urgent. Delegate tasks that are urgent but not necessarily important. Delete tasks that are unimportant and not urgent. 

After figuring out your tasks’ priority order, make a to-do list. Seeing your tasks physically written down keeps them at the forefront of your mind. Then you can cross them off as you accomplish them, which is good for your mental health. Just be sure to keep your list simple. If there’s too much, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by a half-finished task list.

Set a Time Limit

Setting a time limit means you have to define your tasks well to get them done within the time limit. Setting time limits helps improve your focus and encourages you to work more efficiently. If you don’t control and define your tasks, they can get on top of you and take longer than they should.

Take Breaks

This might feel counterintuitive, but taking breaks is necessary for productivity. After each task you complete, take a break and let your brain reset. If you continually move from one task to the next, you are more likely to burn out quickly. It’s better to give yourself a rest.

Your brain cycles through rest and activity cycles. Every 90 minutes, your brain goes from higher to lower alertness levels. You’re likely using energy reserves when you keep working past 90 minutes. Even if you don’t finish your task in 90 minutes, you should at least be taking breaks that often. Let your brain rest and come back later, refreshed and ready to work hard.

Organize Yourself

Organization will look different for everyone. Find what works for you and stick with it. You can plan your week on Sunday and break down your weekly goals into smaller, daily tasks. Making your to-do list for the week will help you get your brain into ‘work mode’ and prepare for the week ahead. 

It can also be helpful to automate your emails. Most email servers allow you to assign labels and filters to send incoming emails to specific folders automatically. You can also create email templates to make repetitive emails easier to send. 

Get Rid of Non-essentials

Non-essentials is another way to say distractions. In either case, these are things that keep you from being productive. Checking your email every single time there’s a notification, getting sucked into conversations with coworkers, and getting hung up on small details in an attempt to achieve perfection are all examples of non-essentials. Each of these lowers your productivity and disrupts your flow.

Batch your emails and schedule specific times to answer a couple of times a day. Most emails don’t need to be answered immediately and can wait until your designated time for emails. If you know you’re prone to get sucked into conversations, try noise-blocking headphones or work elsewhere. In theory, striving for perfection is nice, but in reality, it can destroy your productivity. Strive for done, not perfect. Perfect is the enemy of good. 

Plan Ahead

This goes back to making goals and lists. Ideally, you should plan out lists at least a day ahead, but it’s even better if you can do it at the beginning of the week and the beginning of the month. The more you’re able to plan ahead, the more likely you are to finish your tasks and achieve your goals. Use your calendar to time block your work and keep track of deadlines that you need to meet.

Visualize how your day or week will go. Take a moment to close your eyes and see your day or week playing out exactly right. When you have that vision in your mind, you’ll have a greater drive to manage your time efficiently. While you’re making your plans, try to allow for buffers. Schedule to be finished with a task at least a day early, if possible. Then, you don’t have to scramble to meet deadlines if something comes up.

Poor Time Management

Poor time management can lead to some of your biggest problems at work. Successful time management can solve a lot of problems. If you struggle with it, you can experience poor workflow, wasted time, and loss of productivity and control over your day. All of these lead to lower job performance and satisfaction.

Beyond the lower job satisfaction, poor time management can also lead to decreased happiness in your life outside of work. When you’re missing deadlines at work, you might have to do more work on your own time and have less time to pursue your personal interests and goals. 

Poor Workflow

Your workflow suffers when you don’t use your time efficiently. When this happens, you’re more likely to be overwhelmed by your workload and miss deadlines. If you’re always frantically looking for the time you need to finish tasks, you add a lot of unnecessary stress to your job and your life. 

Workflow is one of the most significant indicators of your productivity in the workplace. If your workflow doesn’t look good, you don’t look good as a professional. Poor workflow can also make you appear unprofessional and unproductive to your supervisors. They might start trusting you less or overlook you for possible promotions.

Wasted Time

Time is a perishable and nonrenewable resource, and when you waste it, you can never get it back. You must respect time and implement good time management habits to make the most of such a crucial aspect of life. When you don’t know how to manage your time well, you’re likely to just waste a lot of time instead of using it wisely to achieve your goals.

When you get everything done at work in a reasonable amount of time, you have the freedom to use what’s left for your personal goals. Otherwise, you’ll be left to wonder where the time went and why you don’t have enough bandwidth to do the things you need and want to do. It can also lead to misery and dissatisfaction in your life.

Loss of Control

Eventually, a lack of effective time management can launch you into a state of panic and pandemonium. You can experience burnout and work imbalance. This loss of control can take a toll on your mental and sometimes physical health. You want to be conscious of where your time is going and how to use that time to best benefit you.

If you’re not in control of your own schedule, who is? Do you really want someone else to be in control of your time? Your answer is probably a resounding no. In that case, it’s probably time to implement some of the time management tips discussed above.

Conclusion

Time management allows people to do more work well in less time. While it’s true that everyone has 24 hours in the day, people who know and practice the techniques for managing those hours optimally can accomplish more than people who don’t. Time is too precious a resource to waste, so don’t spend it doing something that doesn’t add value to your life.

Did any of these tips resonate with you? What strategies do you use to manage your time correctly? Find the habits that work best for you, and run with them. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when managing your time effectively.

- Mekenna Epperson

Social media has taken the world by storm, providing many new marketing opportunities. As with all things, social media offers both advantages and disadvantages to businesses looking to market on social media platforms. Understanding them can help determine if a social media marketing strategy is suitable for your business.

What Is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing aims to generate leads and sales by creating content for social media platforms. Social media strategies can help you engage with your audience, improve brand loyalty, and ultimately lead to conversions. Your marketing strategy can be short-term or long-term, depending on your needs.

Advantages of Social Media

Many consumers spend several hours daily on social media, making it a great place to grab their attention and grow your business. Below are a few of the benefits of social media marketing. 

Free to Join

Social media platforms are entirely free to join. There are no signup fees — time is your initial investment. Some platforms offer premium or paid strategy options, but you can start small and gradually increase your spending. Generally, social media helps boost conversion rates and achieve higher returns on investment than print or search advertising.

Reach Large Audiences

Millions of people are on at least one social media platform, so it’s an excellent opportunity to reach many people interested in your offerings. Joining multiple social media platforms helps you expand your reach even further with more diverse opportunities to find and interact with leads. 

Not only can you target large audiences, but you can narrow your efforts to those specific people who are actively interested in your products or services. Many print ads are designed to reach as many people as possible, regardless of their interests. Social media helps you save your marketing budget by allowing you to target only those who want your offerings and bring in the more qualified leads with better chances of conversion. 

You can also use social media to target specific parameters unique to an audience, such as their location. For example, if you’re a small coffee shop looking to attract locals to your business, you can use certain hashtags and location services that social platforms provide. 

Awareness

Social media can increase brand awareness. It amplifies your brand visibility by grabbing the attention of consumers who haven’t heard of your business yet. The more engaging content you create and post, the more awareness you can establish for yourself.  

Connect With Your Audience

One of the most significant advantages of social media is connection. People all over the world connect through social media. It allows information to be shared worldwide and provides people with a sense of closeness. 

Unlike most other marketing strategies, a social media campaign can provide a direct line of communication between you and your audience. Through customer interaction, you’re able to gain a better understanding of what your audience is seeking from your business. There are several ways social media helps you connect with your audience.

Understand Your Audience 

Understanding your target customers allows you to provide them with more valuable content. It lets you tailor your content to their interests, which increases engagement on your business page. You can see who’s interacting with your posts and whether it’s positive or negative engagement. You can then adapt your marketing strategy to provide a better experience for your audience.

See Your Business From the Customer’s Perspective 

Interacting with your customers on social media can give you feedback on how they perceive your brand. Knowing how customers view your brand can help you make better marketing decisions. You can use this information to profit from the features people like and correct the ones they don’t.

Improve Customer Service

Direct contact with your audience makes it easier to resolve issues. You can speak to them directly and work with them individually to solve their problems. Customers are more likely to trust a brand when their customer service needs are handled in a prompt and personal manner. 

Direct Website Traffic

Social media is excellent for driving traffic to your website, as social platforms often let you post content with a website link. Creating captivating content may persuade people to click your link. Once on your website, they can learn more about and gain familiarity with your brand. Social media traffic can then bolster your other marketing strategies by creating relevant traction on your page. 

Create Organic Content

Social media allows companies to publish organic content for free, opening many opportunities to find low-cost leads. You can also publish content whenever and however often as you want. You can create videos, text, or photos depending on the platform. It’s a great way to introduce people to your brand and help them become more familiar with it. 

Stay Up to Date on Relevant Topics

Social media contains valuable data, including important information about your customers. Tools like social listening can help you discover what people are saying about your brand and competitors. Discover what people like about your business or what improvements you can make to better meet their needs. 

Through social media, you can also keep up with current industry trends. You can see what your competitors are doing and how you can improve your offerings to attract more customers.

Easy Access to Paid Advertising

If you’re looking to create something beyond organic content, social media platforms provide options for paid advertising. Social media capabilities vary from platform to platform because each one offers different paid advertising options. Paid ads get your brand in front of interested leads who haven’t heard of you yet, and these ads can be customized to appear in the feeds of people searching for products and services like yours. 

Disadvantages of Social Media

Like every other marketing strategy, social media campaigns have disadvantages. Disadvantages don’t mean your campaign won’t succeed, but they present potential obstacles you may run into. Here are some disadvantages to be aware of. 

Negative Feedback

People use social media to share their experiences, both good and bad. If customers have had a negative experience with your company, they may turn to social media to share this experience with others. 

Negative feedback can come in different forms depending on the social media platform. Facebook lets customers leave negative reviews on your business page. People who look up your company on Facebook can then access these reviews. 

On platforms like Twitter or Instagram, people can tag companies in their posts with negative feedback. Multiple people can then share these posts and spread the negative word. It’s especially problematic if influencers post negative feedback about your brand. Their followers, some of whom may be your customers, may stop buying your goods. It may also prevent new leads from shopping with you. 

Complaints and negative feedback are common on social media platforms. When people have a negative experience with a company, they may feel obligated to share to prevent others from having the same bad experience. 

Misinformation

Social media platforms are often filled with misleading information. People create posts with inaccuracies that others share without verifying their legitimacy. Someone can make up false rumors about your company which can quickly spread over social media. This can cause customers to cease business with your company or prevent future leads. 

Time-Consuming Campaigns

Social media marketing campaigns require a lot of time and attention. A successful campaign involves creating and posting daily content. It requires consistent monitoring and frequent interaction with your audience. All of this can be challenging without the right resources. Small businesses or companies with small marketing teams may find social media marketing to be challenging. 

If you want to run a social media campaign but don’t have the time or resources, consider working with a marketing agency. They can do all of the posting and monitoring for you, so you have time to focus on other business matters. 

Lack of Immediate Results

Companies expect to see immediate results when they invest in a marketing strategy. However, social media marketing doesn’t often produce quick results. Your campaign’s success cannot be determined by posting one piece of content; you need to post multiple pieces of content over time. 

Constant Need for New Content

As content consumption on social networks grows, users become tired and bored quickly and are always looking for new content. Many companies see a drop in social media followers after just a couple of weeks of not posting. People expect new content from the businesses they follow. You’ll need to post content daily to keep your current users engaged and attract new followers.

Vulnerability to Competition

It’s hard to hide your marketing strategies on social media. Your competitors are likely watching you and can efficiently study your strategy for their gain. They may copy them for their benefit and take you out of the market. Despite your creative campaign, you risk others using your ideas to benefit their business.

Bottom Line

Whether or not you implement a marketing strategy should depend on your specific business goals and resources. Every marketing strategy will have disadvantages, so don’t let them be the only determining factor when choosing a marketing strategy. Consider them obstacles and determine if you have the resources to overcome them. If you’re interested in diving into social media marketing and are unsure where to start, Avalaunch Media® is here for you! We can help you determine which platforms are best for your company and create ads that will entice your audience. Learn more about how we can launch your brand on social media!

- Mekenna Epperson

Your marketing says a lot about your company, so it’s essential to execute your marketing plans in a strategic way. When developing these strategies, your company will have to decide whether to use an in-house marketing team or outsource to a marketing agency. 

There are pros and cons to both marketing options; in-house marketing allows for better control over your marketing strategy, but a marketing agency will give you access to a broader range of marketing talents. To help you make the best decisions for your company, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for both in-house marketing and marketing agencies. Using this information, you can make an informed decision and choose how to move forward with your marketing strategy.

What Is In-House Marketing?

In-house marketing is when you utilize the people within your company or hire new in-house employees for the specific purpose of running your marketing. It involves building an internal team to create, manage, and maintain your marketing strategy — and very little, if anything, is outsourced to another company. 

With in-house marketing, you can have more control over things like content creation, task management, payroll, etc. An in-house marketing team only markets its own brand and therefore has specialized knowledge, but talents in an internal marketing department aren’t quite as diverse. When your entire marketing team is within your company, it’s easy to control projects from start to finish. It’s also easier to maintain the quality of your marketing implementation, as well as rearrange priorities and take on tasks that need a quick turnaround time. 

What Is Agency Marketing?

Agency marketing involves outsourcing your marketing needs. A marketing agency takes on clients and can handle every aspect of their campaigns, including email automation, social media, blog posts, website content, etc. In this case, your own employees do very little by way of marketing. This way, you don’t have to worry about hiring employees to fill marketing roles and can instead have an external group handle all of it. 

With agency marketing, you get access to expertise you might not have otherwise. Agencies hire employees that are experts in their respective fields. While choosing to go with an agency for your marketing means that you might have to wait for the work to be done, you can rest assured they know what they’re doing — and you won’t need to find employees to cover your advertising.

What’s more, the diversity you’ll be able to find in the talent pool of a marketing agency is unparalleled. You will also get to access software and technology that is relevant to your needs but could be expensive for your company to acquire. This helps your marketing campaign get in front of your target audience more quickly and efficiently.

Pros and Cons of In-House Marketing

Choosing to do all your marketing in-house has pros and cons. It’s easier to keep everything organized and together when all of your marketing needs are kept in one place and within your company. But marketing requires full-time attention, which can be a big lift for your employees. It can sometimes be too much if you don’t have a large in-house team or if your team doesn’t have the expertise needed to succeed. 

Pro: Workflow Speed

In-house marketing means every team member is focused on your business and only your business. If your in-house team is on top of things, they can quickly get projects done. Since agencies take on multiple clients at once, the workflow speed can be affected.

Pro: Communication and Collaboration

Communication is vital to successful project management, and collaboration is crucial for teamwork. When everyone is a part of the same company, already uses the same tools, and has the same company knowledge, it can make for simpler marketing management. The team can work on project goals and expectations together with fewer bottlenecks.  

Pro: Data Security

Data security is easier to achieve when you don’t have to share it with a third party. With an in-house marketing team, you can limit the accessibility of your data to those who need it while making it easier for the appropriate individuals to access it when necessary.

Pro: Brand Ownership and Knowledge

Since an agency usually has multiple clients, they have to learn to brand in several different voices, and there may be a number of people working on your messaging at once. This can sometimes affect the cohesiveness of your voice. Having an in-house marketing team means you have complete control over the tone of your marketing assets and the way your brand is presented. In-house marketers will also have a more sound knowledge of your industry, products, and services while an agency will require time to learn about them.

Con: Limited Resources

On the other hand, keeping your marketing in-house limits your resources. If your company is smaller, you’ll only have a small marketing team, which means you have limited skill sets available to you. Big companies can have larger marketing teams, which can require breaking the team into smaller groups for easier management, slowing down communication. Hiring a marketing agency can prevent this issue and often cut costs as well.

Con: Limited Suggestions

When your entire marketing team is internal and plans are only circulated through the company, it can sometimes be challenging to see the forest for the trees. Your ideas and strategies are created in an echo chamber, and suggestions can be limited. An outside perspective can help with this issue. A marketing agency will share suggestions and raise reservations about your plans, which can make your projects more successful.

Con: Lack of External Support

A marketing agency can bring in years of experience while an in-house team has only as much expertise as your employees have. Having an agency on your side brings in more expertise and unique contributions that can optimize your marketing efforts.

Pros and Cons of Agency Marketing

There are plenty of perks to outsourcing your marketing efforts to an agency. Doing so frees up your employees to work on other tasks and projects and gives you access to industry professionals and specialists you wouldn’t have otherwise. You can use their expertise to further your company’s marketing goals. In this age of technology, you can outsource your marketing needs to the best in the business, no matter where they are.

Pro: Fresh Ideas

When your marketing plans have only been reviewed by your in-house team, it’s easy to miss gaps in your strategy. Ideas can get stale when they’ve been suggested and reviewed repeatedly. Hiring a marketing agency allows you to collaborate with marketing experts who know your industry inside and out and can bring in new ideas and fresh eyes.

Pro: Deep Industry Knowledge

Marketing agencies hire people who are experts in their fields, and that expertise can be hard to match with an internal marketing team. Your company benefits from this deep industry knowledge when you hire agencies with successful track records. An agency also has a broader range of skill sets because they hire people specifically for SEO, social media management, content writing, paid advertising, and more.

Pro: Flexibility

A marketing agency can provide you with knowledge and support in specialized topics, meaning your team doesn’t have to scramble to learn niche information that an agency already knows. In turn, your team can concentrate on the tasks that fall within their area of expertise. This means your own team doesn’t need to worry about it and can focus more on productive tasks and provide greater flexibility. 

Pro: Creativity

Agencies have also cultivated and carefully curated creative tools over years of experience. Whatever task you throw at them, they have someone suited to take it on. The way an agency is set up makes it easier for employees to be creative and explore different options to best succeed at a task.

Con: Slower Communication

As we’ve mentioned, marketing agencies often serve several clients at once, and they have to prioritize their work to keep on top of everything. Because of this, communication can sometimes be slow. Prompt communication is more accessible when your team is in-house, mainly because many agencies use phone or email to communicate with their clients. Phone calls can be inconvenient when they happen regularly, and email can be a slower form of communication.

Collaboration can also be slower with a marketing agency if no processes exist. The back-and-forth communication can slow the process down, affecting your bottom line if you’re not careful.

Con: More Details

For an agency to provide you with the content you want, they need you to clearly communicate your goals. This often means getting a detailed brief to them for each task you need them to do. Creating a brief can be time-consuming and tedious without a system in place. An in-house marketing team would probably need fewer details because they already know the company’s necessary goals and tasks.

Con: Less Data-Driven

Because you want to keep your data safe, the data access you can give an agency is sometimes limited, meaning an agency may have to make decisions with limited information. Making a blind decision can affect your marketing efficiency and lower conversion rates.

What Is Hybrid Marketing?

If your company has a reasonable marketing budget but only has limited resources for an internal marketing team, then a hybrid marketing model might be a good option for you. This model uses a combination of in-house and agency marketing to reach your goals. If you do it correctly, hybrid marketing can be as effective as the exclusive use of in-house or agency marketing. 

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Marketing

With a hybrid marketing model, you have an in-house marketing team to handle the tasks that need to be done quickly and an agency to provide their expertise and experience in long-term goals. For a hybrid model to work best, you must ensure clear roles and expectations for your in-house team and the agency. Both sides of the coin complement each other to create an effective marketing strategy. 

Pro: Safer Data

If you choose to use a hybrid marketing strategy, you can make data-driven decisions without giving private information to a third party. This means that your data is safer and can still be used to make decisions that will benefit your business and clients.

Pro: Expertise Without Hiring

You’ll also have access to available experts through an agency, but you don’t have to convince them to join your own company to get their expertise. When internal and external perspectives are taken into account, you will be able to get more points of view and brainstorm more effectively.

Pro: Software Access

Many agencies have effective but expensive software. Hybrid marketing allows you to utilize this software without finding it or paying for it yourself. The agency side of your marketing team can use that software to find out how to elevate your business, and the in-house side can put those ideas into effect.

Con: Crossover

As with any business choice, you must set clear expectations with your in-house team and the agency. If you don’t have specific jobs for everyone involved, you might find that more than one person is doing the same job. In that case, you’ll be paying for the same work multiple times. 

Con: Expenses

Hybrid marketing tends to cost more. You have to pay both your in-house marketing team and the agency you’re using. Your in-house team could work on client-facing tasks while the agency works on your online presence. Before you choose hybrid marketing, you need to be sure that you have the budget for it. 

Developing a Marketing Model

Regardless of the marketing model you decide to implement, some factors are necessary for all of them. You need to have clear processes in place, increase transparency, and enforce clear communication. To develop an effective marketing model, you also must establish good contact, ask for regular feedback, use the right tools, and implement effective collaboration techniques.

Set Up Processes

Having transparent processes in place ensures everyone involved is on the same page. Set up a workflow structure that outlines how tasks are assigned, finished, delivered, reviewed, edited, and approved. Consider the timeframe to complete projects and who should assign tasks and check them when they’re finished. 

Transparency

Your employees are likely to be more productive when transparency is high. Transparency increases trust and improves relationships within your organization and between employees. Keep relevant information in an easily accessible place where all collaborators can find it and track how tasks are being completed. It would also serve you well to have regular meetings and even group activities to help your teams connect on a personal level.

Communication and Contact

Standard communication isn’t enough with projects like this — you need to encourage direct and effective correspondence. It can be helpful to set up a communication plan to make it easier for your team to converse with each other. Direct contact provides guidance, corrections, and other communications that should be private. Effective communication with clients is also essential, as it sets everyone up for success.

Be consistent and transparent in conversations with your contacts. This goes along with the communication mentioned earlier. Whether you’re working in-house or with an agency, the better your contact, the better you can build a strong relationship. You don’t want any gaps in communication because important tasks can start to slip through those gaps.

Regular Feedback

Regular feedback is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your marketing model. You should be asking for input from both your internal and external marketing experts. Everyone wants to feel like their opinions are appreciated, so be sure to consider all the feedback you receive.

The Right Tools

Integrate effective communication software tools to keep in touch with everyone involved in your marketing strategy. Many options are available that allow for intercommunication while also storing pertinent files. Using the valuable features of the right tools helps your team converse in real-time. 

Many teams find that communication software such as Slack, Google Chats, Discord, and the like are helpful tools. Emails allow for a lot of information to be shared, but it’s not always as immediate as the aforementioned options. Google Drive also provides a space for everyone on your team to share and access information and pertinent files.

Collaboration Techniques

You should also encourage creativity and innovation when you’re looking for solid collaboration between team members. Employees shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time finding pertinent information and tracking down task details. Open communication, clear expectations, and specific goals set your team up for success.

What Avalaunch Media® Can Do For You

Avalaunch Media® is a leader in the digital marketing industry. We work with a wide variety of client types and help them succeed in their marketing strategies. Our company has been around for over a decade, and we have the knowledge and talent to help your brand grow. Our proven strategies can help you grow your business in today’s digital marketing space. 

The Avalaunch team will walk you through every step of taking your company to the next level. We learn your business’s needs and desired outcomes inside and out and develop a framework that will take your business from start to finish. Collectively, we are passionate about marketing and providing tangible results for all of our clients, and we focus on sustainable and long-term success in marketing. 

When your company decides to use a marketing agency for your marketing needs, get the best of the best with Avalaunch Media®. Check out our website to learn more and see how we can launch your company! If you have any questions about our services, feel free to reach out. 

- Mekenna Epperson
Email Marketing and Marketing Automation

Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” — Bill Gates, 1996

Even though Bill Gates said this back in 1996, it’s still just as accurate today — marketing automation makes it easier to run a business and reach clients. In order for marketing automation to be successful, though, you need to have an efficient system in place. Once effective strategies are implemented, automation will help that system run smoothly. 

Marketing Automation Terms

There are a few terms in marketing automation that are often confused — email campaigns, email series, and automated email flows. They sound the same, but they are all very different parts of marketing automation. Let’s take a look at the differences between each of these terms.

Email Campaign

An email campaign is a one-off email sent to the general list of people. When you hear the phrase “email marketing,” it’s usually referencing this type of marketing. Email campaigns can be batched and blasted in terms of email sending.

Ex:

Sneaker email Email Series

An email series refers to one or multiple emails sent to a segmented list of a client’s audience. This list is based on the activity or opt-in of the contact. If customers are on this list, their needs or desires lead to a common goal. An email series can be scheduled but can’t be fully automated.

Ex:

Mother's Day blender promotion email Mother's Day blender promotion email Mother's Day blender promotion email Automated Email Flow

An automated email flow is an automatic process in which data initiates an email delivery to specific recipients in a timely manner without supervision. Data integration must exist to create a trigger that starts the workflow. 

Ex: 

Meal delivery email Meal delivery email Meal delivery email Projects to Avoid

Some projects included under marketing automation might come up, but they are not the same thing. A couple of examples are cold outreach emails and CRM management. While both have their place, they don’t belong in the same category as marketing automation.

Cold Outreach Email

Cold outreach emails are not the same as marketing automation emails. Cold email outreach is when emails are sent to people who don’t know the company yet. Marketing emails go to specific audiences who have already opted in to receive emails from the company. A cold email outreach message is for brand-new prospects.

CRM Management

Marketing automation is not the same as CRM, either. CRM setup, sales process/lead assignment, and attribution setup are not in the same wheelhouse as marketing automation. Many programs have capabilities for both, but Avalaunch Media® handles the implementation of marketing techniques rather than CRM management.

The Flywheel Model

The Flywheel model encourages a business’s organic and lasting growth. It has a holistic view of marketing efforts. Using it allows for more proactive, strategic thinking rather than reactive, under-the-gun projects. 

flywheel model

In Stage 1, you should include the following emails:

Browsed Abandon Flow (2-3 emails)Subscriber/Follower Flow (2-4 emails)First Purchase Offer Flow (2-4 emails)Giveaway Registrants Flow (3-4 emails)

Stage 2 should include:

Downloaded or Viewed Content Flow (2-3 emails)Connect on Social Media Flow (1-3 emails)Welcome/Re-introduction Flows (2-3 emails)Abandoned Cart Flows (3-5 emails)Incoming Lead Nurture Flow (2-4 emails)

Your Stage 3 should have these emails:

Event Attendance Flow, i.e., Webinar (2-3 emails)Post-Purchase Follow-Up (4-5 emails)Replenishment Flow (2-3 emails)

Stage 4 involves:

Upsell/Cross-Sell Flow (3-4 emails)Refer a Friend (2-3 emails)Monthly Promotions

In Stage 5, include:

Win Back Flow (1-2 emails)Sunset Unengaged (remove unengaged contacts)Subscriber Flow (4-5 emails)Cancel Subscription Win Back Conclusion

Marketing automation can be a good move if you already have an efficient system in place. It can make running a business more manageable because it will reach your customers without much work from you. Just make sure you’re clear on the different marketing automation terms and what doesn’t fall in that category. 

If you have questions about how Avalaunch Media® can help you launch your marketing automation, check out our website and contact us today!

- Mekenna Epperson

The year 2022 holds many new possibilities for search engine optimization (SEO). Every day, the practice of SEO continues to evolve as it becomes more complex and precise. For something that has only been around for a little over 20 years, this analytical tool has made itself invaluable to the online community. 

If you’re new to SEO, this article can serve as your guide to the latest SEO news of 2022. But before we go over that, let’s take a look at how far SEO has come. From there, we can move on to the future and possibilities of SEO. Keep reading to learn about SEO in 2022 and to see what the future of SEO holds.

SEO Getting Its Start

To understand the latest SEO trends, you first need to understand SEO in general. SEO entered the general lexicon in 1997. At that time, Google didn’t even exist. There were other search engines, but they didn’t have the complexity or power they do today. They acted more like directories. Because no algorithms were in place, there weren’t really rules for displaying results. As companies noticed their URLs weren’t as prominent as they would have liked them to be, the idea of SEO was born.

With SEO, companies were able to vie for that top position on the search engine results page (SERP). A new method of digital marketing was born as companies sought to outrank each other online. And while SEO might not have been one of the top marketing strategies in the late 90s, it’s definitely made itself a priority since then. By implementing SEO best practices, you can attract more attention to your business, generate more traffic, and benefit from increased recognition and sales.

SEO Hitting Its Stride

SEO is no longer a simple directory of available services and products. Today, SEO strategies can make or break businesses looking to make their mark in their chosen industry. Whether you’ve been using SEO and are interested in learning what’s new with SEO in 2022 or you’re brand new to this marketing strategy, here’s what you need to know about Google’s algorithm updates for 2022.

Accuracy

As Google updates its technology, SEO gets more precise — and with each update, quality content across your blog, website, and SERP meta descriptions becomes increasingly important. It’s essential to make sure your keywords, H1s, and content are all correlated so customers understand what services you offer. When people find content about the topic they’ve searched for, it keeps them engaged and active on your website.

Google also updates its analytic software — for example, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) — so you can take advantage of even more data. This data can be personalized to provide accurate results relating to your organization’s goals and metrics. By analyzing these accurate assessments, you can take stock of how well your website is performing and make necessary tweaks to increase your website’s performance.

Optimization

Just because you can find a way to repetitively use keywords to keyword stuff your page doesn’t mean you should; this antiquated practice is no longer beneficial and may even incur a penalty, as it violates the SERP rules. With more precise algorithm updates comes the need for better website optimization. Optimizing your website means ensuring each page is well-written, informative, free of duplicate content and repetition, and spurs the reader to action. Be sure to include all the critical points for top SEO performance — keywords, link building, original content, and working pages in moderation. Google will recognize your website as being well-optimized and reward you with higher SERP rankings.

Relevance 

As Google updates its algorithms and new SEO trends debut, they all have something in common — relevance. Google now works overtime to improve your search engine experience. This means matching information based on previous searches, page visits, and more. Suggesting pages and results combined with relevant search terms provides web readers, consumers, and customers with a more relevant and rewarding search experience. Consumers get more personalized search results, and corporations can get more relevant information.

Trending Features

While accuracy, optimization, and relevance are the SEO trifecta, many additional features contribute to an improved SEO experience. Here are some of the current SEO trends for 2022 that we expect to be around for a while:

Rich snippetsLong-form content“People also searched for” featureTraditional SEOCore web vitals

To capitalize on these trends, write quality long-form content that answers questions, utilizes keywords, and offers a great website page experience. Google continually updates its ranking factors, so stay on top of current features and always watch for new ones.

SEO Is Heading Places

With Google’s algorithm update earlier in 2022, things are getting more precise and fine-tuned. We can expect more accuracy, data, and top-ranking results.

Is your business getting the type of online traffic you’re expecting? Do you want to see better SERP rankings?  Are you looking to captivate more web readers and turn them into customers? All of this is possible with the help of Avalaunch Media®. We are a full-service performance marketing agency specializing in SEO. Our goal is to launch people and businesses through exceptional work quality and skilled implementation strategies. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help your business excel online. We’ll walk you through current SEO trends, help you learn SEO 2022 tips and tricks, and stick with you through any changes expected in the future of SEO.

- Mekenna Epperson

Customer lifecycle marketing recognizes that different marketing strategies are necessary at every stage of a customer’s brand journey. Lifecycle marketing differs from the buyer experience; turning consumers into loyal, active customers takes time and trust. It can be challenging to win people over immediately, but you can employ lifecycle marketing strategies to attract and retain buyers after their initial purchase.

What Is Customer Lifecycle Marketing?

Lifecycle marketing is the combination of strategies companies use to positively influence customer behavior as they progress through every stage of the marketing cycle. Lifecycles can be long or short, but no matter the cycle length, several stages make up a lifecycle marketing plan. Understanding these stages allows you to target each audience’s specific needs at each stage, regardless of whether your prospects are new leads, first-time buyers, or repeat customers.

Lifecycle Marketing Stages

Marketers have created many methods for increasing profits and have used numerous tools to reach customers. In lifecycle marketing, stages play a unique role, and marketing is viewed as a journey. Each stage of the lifecycle is unique and requires a different approach. These stages include:

Brand awarenessCustomer engagementEvaluation PurchaseCustomer retentionBrand loyalty  Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is the first stage of the customer lifecycle and is where your relationship with the customer begins. Awareness is the stage at which customers start learning about your brand. The most challenging part of this stage is making your brand stand out from the competition, as potential customers receive hundreds of marketing messages daily. 

Customer Engagement

During the engagement stage, people will begin interacting with your brand. The customer is interested in your offerings and wants to find out more by following you on social media, signing up for your email newsletter, or looking at your website. People will also often start paying closer attention to what others say about your brand and how you respond to customer complaints or requests. 

Evaluation

The evaluation stage is where customers decide whether to purchase from your brand. They may look at company reviews, research, or check their gut before making final purchase decisions. Providing digital self-services, such as FAQs or review sections, can help customers trying to find answers themselves. Ensure easy access to information that will help prospects compare features and prices.

Purchase

The purchase stage is where people make their final buying decision. People who make it through this stage are now your customers. You don’t need to promote your brand during this stage, but you should strive to make the purchase process as painless and straightforward as possible. 

Customer Retention

The most important thing you can do to retain customers is meet their needs post-purchase. Many people won’t return after their first purchase if they don’t feel like they have access to needed support. It’s essential to follow up and provide support where necessary to ensure their satisfaction. Following up is an easy way to prove to your customers that you value them. 

Brand Loyalty

Customers reach this stage when they are so happy with your brand that they spread the word. Continuing to provide quality service and support and nurturing a connection with customers can create an emotional bond that will keep them coming back. Don’t forget about customers once they’ve made purchases. Strengthening relationships with current customers not only encourages people to continue shopping with your company but may also convince them to bring in new prospects.

Customer Lifecycle Marketing Strategy 

Strategy drives successful lifecycle marketing campaigns. A good strategic plan helps you build your customer base, convert one-time purchasers into repeat customers, and improve your customer lifetime value. You’ll have difficulty bringing in the right leads and may waste a lot of your budget without proper strategies.

The best marketing strategies plan for customer interactions at every stage of the lifecycle. Here’s how you can apply proper strategy through every stage. 

Brand Awareness Strategy 

Creating visual, shareable content helps you attract more people from your target audience. Some brand awareness strategies include:

Creating buyer personas to understand your target audience better.Launching social media ads that will stand out to customers.Researching and incorporating keywords in your content that relate to your audience.Working with influencers to promote your products to your audience. Creating blog posts that address the common problems your prospects may have.

Although acquiring new customers is crucial, many companies spend too much time and effort on this stage. Don’t exhaust all your resources acquiring new customers; ensure you have enough time and effort for future stages. 

Customer Engagement Strategy

As part of your customer engagement strategies, you should direct visitors to your website or social media pages and provide details about your products or services that will convince them to choose your brand over your competitors.

Prospects often have a lot of questions during this stage. Provide content that’s easy to understand and gives precise answers to their questions. The following are some examples of engagement strategies:

Promote your product’s features through video demonstrations.Write guides or blog posts to provide answers to common questions.Provide long-form content that covers industry research or trends.Include testimonials and case studies that emphasize the benefits of doing business with you.Create landing pages that encourage engagement. Purchase

After impressing potential customers, the next step is to convince them to make a purchase. The best way to do this is to make the purchase process as easy as possible. Compare your brand to your competitors to determine what prospects need to see or know to make a purchase. Some strategies include:

Presenting product features and up-front pricing on your website so customers can compare your products with others.Including customer reviews to provide customers with confidence in their purchases.Ensuring you can deliver a good customer service experience and addressing any post-purchase issues.Providing free trials to offer peace of mind with full investment. 

As with the customer engagement stage, personalization is the key to converting potential buyers into customers. Try to make prospects feel unique instead of just being another revenue-generating number. 

Customer Retention

Retaining customers costs companies less money than acquiring new ones, yet many companies aren’t spending enough time on retention. Most customers will make additional purchases with a company that offers exceptional customer service. When you provide top-notch service after a sale, you can keep customers, improve the customer experience, and ultimately increase revenue. The following are some customer retention strategies:

Provide discount codes or offers that can be applied to future purchases.Create targeted ads featuring complementary products and services to accompany first purchases. Give existing customers exclusive access to new products or services.Ensure easy access to support through tools like live chat, messaging, and FAQs.Create self-service options for simple service problems. Brand Loyalty

Many satisfied customers become brand advocates and tell everyone they know about your brand. These customers choose your brand over others and can drive sales as repeat buyers. Showing people you value their feedback is key to building customer loyalty, as customers are more likely to stay with a brand they trust. Here are some brand loyalty strategies:

Offer free products or discount codes as incentives for sharing reviews.Provide exclusive features for returning customers or create a loyalty program.Offer rewards to people who bring in new customers. Create reactivation campaigns for customers who haven’t shopped with you in a while.  Customer Lifecycle Marketing Campaigns

Customer needs evolve through each stage of the lifecycle, and implementing a customer lifecycle marketing campaign is the most efficient way to address these needs. Segmenting your audience based on their place in the customer journey allows you to build a proper relationship based on their individual needs. 

Providing consistent value across all lifecycle channels can help you attract new customers and establish repeat buyers. Creating a captivating campaign while targeting the proper lifecycle stage can be challenging but worth it, as you’re likely to boost customer loyalty and referrals and reach revenue goals. 

Here are some examples of campaigns for every lifecycle stage.

Brand Awareness Campaign

Creating blogs that rank high in SERPs provides customers with the information they may be looking for. When they read your blog, they are introduced to your website and get a feel for your brand. It may also be beneficial to include easy links to let people learn more about your product or make a purchase.

Customer Engagement Campaign

Provide a pop-up for people to enter their information while reading blogs on your website, such as their email addresses. Encourage them to fill out the form to receive more information on what they’re reading and how your offerings can meet their needs. 

Purchase Campaign

Make the purchase process as easy as possible. You can simplify the checkout process by having shipping and billing information pre-saved for returning customers, so it only takes seconds to submit their order. 

Include customer reviews for your products or services so people can feel confident in their purchases. Provide links to related products on a page so people can easily find products that may complement the products they’re interested in.

Customer Retention Campaign

Provide an email confirmation that summarizes the order and includes the return policy and any additional information the customer may need. You can also send an email a few days later introducing a limited quantity of exclusive products that may tempt them to make another purchase.

Customer Loyalty Campaign

Create loyalty programs that encourage customers to continue doing business with you. A loyalty program example includes a point system that adds points based on the amount of money customers spend. These points can then be used as a discount on future purchases. 

Informing customers of how you give back regarding charity work or other social means may also build an emotional connection with them. Emotionally connected customers spend much more per year with a company than other customers. 

How to Boost a Lifecycle Marketing Campaign

Here’s a quick list of ideas for bettering your lifecycle marketing campaigns.

Track the percentage of clients who return to your site to make additional purchases to measure customer loyalty. Compare the number of new and returning customers to determine the share of repeat buyers.Try to collect contact information from people who visit your site, such as options for subscribing to your email list. This can help you grow your brand awareness and engagement and encourage customers to purchase from your website. Track how much money returning customers are spending on repeat purchases. Experiment with loyalty offers that can increase purchases.Send newsletters to customers even after they’ve made a purchase, as this will keep your brand in mind for future purchases.Provide exclusive offers and loyalty programs to make every customer feel valued. Customers who feel important to a company are more likely to make additional purchases. Lifecycle Email Marketing

Emails play a considerable role in marketing and can benefit from the customer lifecycle. Knowing where your customers are in the lifecycle can guide the type of emails you send. You can send several kinds of emails, such as welcome emails, promotional content, newsletters, and surveys. Sending emails at the right time is crucial so they don’t get buried in peoples’ inboxes. They should also be interesting enough to make people want to open them. 

Welcome Emails

Your welcome email is the first email you send to new subscribers and is the beginning of your relationship with them. This email should be a major area of focus. The way you encourage future engagement is an essential factor in winning them over as a client. Are there any coupons you can provide for a discount on their first purchase? Is there any news you need to share? Is there a deal on a specific product they won’t want to miss?

Promotional Emails

Promotional emails build customer retention by incentivizing customers to continue purchasing from your brand instead of the competition. Promotional emails often include a discount code to encourage current customers to make additional purchases. They can also be used to announce an exclusive product or offer only available to existing customers.

Newsletters

Companies use newsletters to discuss information with customers. This information can be about significant company changes, announcing new blog posts, or discussing industry topics. Newsletters are often longer than other emails and should contain engaging content and calls to action to learn more. 

Re-Engagement Emails

Sending an email to customers who haven’t visited the website in a while may convince them to return. People are often busy in their day-to-day lives and sometimes need a quick reminder that you still value them as customers. 

How to Improve Your Email Campaign

Don’t get discouraged if your email rates are low. There are a few ways to improve your email campaigns and make enticing email content people want to open. Here are some options to try:

Make sure your subject lines have a good length, message, and sufficient context.Ensure the preheader text is as eye-catching as possible.Add attention-grabbing designs, including videos and graphics. Personalize the emails with the customer’s name.Provide a clear CTA.Test and compare new send-out times, such as Saturday morning vs. Friday night, to see when you get a higher open rate. Why Is Lifecycle Marketing Important?

Understanding the customer lifecycle is essential for properly reaching out to customers. During some stages of the lifecycle, prospects may be interested but questioning your brand, while in other stages, customers may have made a purchase and need an incentive to return. 

If someone just discovered your brand, you’re better off telling them about the benefits of your product instead of trying to convince them to make a purchase immediately. However, repeat customers don’t need to be reminded of product benefits continually. It’s better to provide exclusive deals and loyalty program offers to existing customers.

Because of all this, each stage requires its own marketing strategy. Using the correct type of content at the right time can enhance the customer experience, as it proves to customers that you are more concerned with meeting their needs and answering their questions than using them to make a profit.

Implement Lifecycle Marketing Strategies In Your Marketing Campaigns

Now that you know all of the benefits and stages of lifecycle marketing, the next step is implementing it in your company’s marketing campaigns. Begin mapping out the customer lifecycle and determining how to use these stages and strategies to better your marketing efforts. 

Investing in a marketing agency can help you correctly target customers throughout the customer lifecycle. Avalaunch Media is a full-service marketing agency ready to help you reach your audience at every stage of the customer lifecycle. We are passionate about the marketing industry and are committed to maximizing results for our clients. We develop and execute marketing strategies to win our clients’ trust. Contact Avalaunch Media today and let us help you launch your brand.

- Mekenna Epperson

Your branding is what distinguishes your business from competitors and helps people recognize you in the marketplace — and it’s essential for your success. In order for your branding to be effective, you need to be familiar with the components of bad branding. Whether branding a new company or rebranding an existing company, learning from others’ mistakes yields valuable lessons. Keep reading for examples of branding gone wrong, how to avoid rebranding fails, and what to do instead to create successful branding. 

What Constitutes Bad Branding?

Lousy branding is any branding that attracts the wrong kind of attention. This could look take the form of carelessly designed logos, unintentionally hidden meanings in an advertisement, or any other oversight that is obvious after the fact.

In many cases, bad branding can be worse than no branding. Without it, customers may never become aware of your brand. With bad branding, you could be sending the wrong messages and inadvertently turning potential customers in your competitors’ direction.

The Consequences of a Poorly Maintained Brand

A poorly maintained brand has consequences. Perhaps the worst is the possibility of losing your core customer base. If your brand upkeep efforts are lazy or careless, you’ll likely lose touch with customers and see a downtick in sales, clients, and enthusiasm for new products and services. After that, if you can’t pull it back up, you could lose your entire company. Fortunately, it’s not too late to salvage a poorly maintained if you’ve been slacking as a company. We’ve listed some mistakes you can avoid and ideas you can follow through with below to successfully brand your company.

Common Branding Mistakes

With access to the internet and information about branding gone wrong, it’s never been easier to learn about common branding mistakes and how to avoid them. We’ve identified some of the most common mistakes and why these moves could hurt your business.

Cold Email Campaigns

Cold email campaigns are ones that target people who aren’t familiar with your brand. While these campaigns can be beneficial for exposing your brand to a new customer base, don’t make the mistake of trying to sell to them before you have established a relationship. If you do, you could be wasting your email marketing budget and end up in a spam folder.

Ignoring SEO

For many consumers, Google is the end-all-be-all. You need to know how to play the Google game to stay relevant — and to do that, you need to take advantage of SEO. Research relevant keywords and the way your customer base is searching for them so that you can develop a strategy that will capitalize on these terms.

Poor Web Design

Your digital presence needs to be strong. Web design can help you reach further than you probably could otherwise; developing an impactful logo, a memorable color scheme, and an easily navigable website can help you stand out in customers’ minds and increase your chances of conversion. However, poor design choices can have the opposite effect and reflect poorly on your brand. If a customer has a negative experience on your website, they’re unlikely to try again, so you’ll lose customers.

Inconsistency

Inconsistent branding is a quick way to kill your brand recognition. It not only makes it difficult for people to identify your business from platform to platform, but it also makes your audience think you don’t know what you’re doing or who you are. This may stir up distrust in your customers and give your company a bad reputation. You need to have a strong brand style guide and know what your company stands for so your marketing can be consistent wherever your brand appears. 

Audience Disconnect

If you don’t research the target audience you’re trying to reach, you won’t know how to connect with them. Being inclusive and accessible in your designs makes it easier to form connections and win over a wide range of people.

Insincerity

Your customers can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. Even if you get away with ‘faking it’ for a while, there’s always a chance that your audience will find you out, and then you risk losing them. Be true to your brand and trust that your ideal customers will find you. 

Being Generic

It’s really easy to produce generic content — anyone can do that. Your audience wants to see what your brand is all about. Check your logo, images, brand name, and marketing materials for anything that isn’t representative of your business or unique to your company. Your customers are less likely to care about or even remember a generic brand that makes no effort to be different from everyone else.

Bad Branding Examples

There are plenty of companies and products out there that need rebranding. While the brands below might not be the worst examples, they could definitely benefit from some professional help. Whether it’s a company that hasn’t changed with the times or a brand that has made oversights or rebranding mistakes, their brands have a lesson to offer. Read about these companies below that could benefit from a rebrand or that have failed in their rebranding to learn what to avoid in your efforts. 

Avon

Avon used to be the epitome of convenience with their door-to-door cosmetics that gave homemakers a chance to earn extra money. But now we have online shopping, which has become more convenient than door-to-door sales. In 2014, Avon had a series of bribery suits that caused its wholesome facade to fade. This former trendsetter could probably benefit from a rebrand. 

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has had a scandal problem in the last few years. They had to recall thousands of bottles of baby powder because of traces of asbestos. Beyond that, the company has known about the asbestos problem for at least 50 years. Their family company image was hit hard, and a rebrand could help them get ahead of the scandal once the suits have been settled. 

Pepsi

Pepsi hasn’t positively changed its image in years. Their logo isn’t relevant to their product, and customers are noticing. They tried to rebrand in 2014 with a new logo, but it was considered a failure after the negative criticism they received. This attempt exemplifies how essential it is to get feedback from long-time customers when you decide to rebrand.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is a company known for wellness around the world. When the company changed its name after 55 years, its customer base was confused. Changing the name to WW left people unsure about what they were advertising. The name change is considered a rebrand misstep, even though the company decided to keep the new name.

Yahoo!

In 2013, Yahoo! developed a marketing campaign around rebranding its logo. It spend a month building up to its new logo, but in the end, it didn’t up being much different from the original one. This left the customer base pretty disappointed. When rebranding, try not to hype up your audience if your changes will be indistinguishable from your original branding. If there’s going to be a significant buildup, your audience will expect a reveal to match the publicity. 

Why Rebrand?

Before you jump into a rebranding project, it’s important to figure out a timeline first. There’s a right and a wrong time for a rebrand, and taking that leap is a move that should be well researched and understood in advance.

Your “why” is the most critical part of a rebrand; if you haven’t yet developed an answer that justifies the time and expense of such an undertaking, take a little time to think it out. We have some suggestions on why you might want to reposition your business and rebrand. 

Your Mission Has Changed

When you change the way you do business, it changes your brand. If your brand and mission are misaligned, that’s a great reason to reposition yourself accordingly. A well-strategized rebrand will bring your business back in line with your mission. 

You Have a New Product

Introducing a new product or service may present a good opportunity for a rebrand. Adding a new product line or service could justify a rebrand to introduce the new offering and show how it relates to your existing brand.

Bad Reputation

If your brand has recently earned a negative reputation, a rebrand can help eliminate the bad associations and give you a fresh start if you give it time and thought. Whether you’ve experienced a scandal or been called out for your business practices, you can come back from it — as long as you do it properly.

Your Industry or Customer Base Has Changed

Most industries are continuously evolving in this technological age. If you notice that the new generation of consumers isn’t drawn to your brand, a rebrand could be just the ticket to getting new business and putting your company in front of fresh eyes. 

You’re Getting Outperformed

Sometimes, a rebrand may be needed simply because you’re not competitive in your industry, and your rivals are getting the better of you. That can happen even to the largest and best companies, but you can fix it. A rebrand will help your company to stand out from the crowd.

How to Avoid Rebranding Failures

Even worse than not rebranding when necessary is suffering from rebranding failures. Here are some suggestions for avoiding the common pitfalls and mistakes that are commonly encountered when creating or rebranding a company.

The Right Designer

You need a talented designer to make your rebrand come to life. They can use their expertise to make your brand exceptionally appealing, and they’ll be able to help you avoid design problems. It will serve you both better if you give them background information and broad ideas instead of specifics that will pin them down creatively.

Get Your Whole Staff Involved

You’re missing out on critical opportunities if you only involve creative teams in your rebrand. People from other departments offer insights from a different perspective and might help you catch mistakes or provide meaningful feedback.

Consider Your Customer

When it comes to rebranding, it’s vital to consider your customers’ perspectives. It’s easy to find out what they want by sending out a survey to your customer base; most people will jump at the opportunity to influence their favorite brands. Try to be as inclusive as possible when getting feedback, or you’ll lose out on opportunities to hear from broader audiences.

Think Big

Rebranding your company is an investment. You want to ensure that it can withstand the test of time in your industry. Use abstract imagery and a broad purpose statement rather than committing to a design that will date your company in a year or two. It’s also important to do your research so that you can expand globally in the future if that’s your hope.

Look at Your History

It can be helpful to look at your history so you can plan your future. Knowing the history of your company will help you avoid discarded branding and keep you from repeating rebranding failures. Instead, you’ll be able to concentrate your efforts on new, quality work instead of ideas that have already been rejected.

Consider the Competition

One of the most important things to consider when rebranding is your competition. You don’t want your rebranded company to look too much like a competitor’s brand. This can make your marketing assets look generic, which you don’t want, or it can lead to trademark violations and other legal issues. Your company should stand out from the competition and draw in customers with its own flair.

Think About Context

Think about your brand in every context; make sure that any acronyms don’t spell out something inappropriate and that there aren’t any unfortunate rhymes or unintentional messages. Your logo should avoid unwanted images in the positive and negative space and from any direction you look at it. Look up words related to your brand in different languages and ensure there aren’t any issues.

You also need to ensure your brand doesn’t touch on social or historical issues. To prevent that, show your brand to people from different generations and cultures. Do your research before you release your new brand.

How Avalaunch Can Help With a Successful Rebrand

If you’re looking to rebrand but are unsure where to start, our expert marketers can help. Avalaunch Media has over a decade of experience assisting companies with their brands and successfully helping them rebrand when they need to. We’ll help you handle everything from brand messaging and content to PR and web development. 

Check out our website to learn about our services and how we can help you elevate your business. If you’re ready to launch, contact us and let us do what we do best. 

- Mekenna Epperson

We’re halfway through the year, and many companies are paying close attention to their sales goals for 2022. Are you currently behind on your sales goals and looking for ways to catch up? You’re in the right place. 

Read on to learn strategies and solutions that will help you realign with your 2022 sales goals and keep you moving forward toward meeting your sales targets this year. 

Evaluate Current Progress 

One of the common mistakes businesses make with their goals is focusing on how far they have to go instead of celebrating how far they’ve come. The same happens with sales goals when businesses fixate on the end goal and nothing else. 

If you find that you’re not as close to your year-end sales goal as you’d like, take time to evaluate your current process to see the wins you and your team have had. This evaluation helps you appreciate what you’ve done and accomplished so far and can help you determine your real progress toward your sales goals. 

Do You Have Realistic and Specific Sales Goals?

As you evaluate your progress, take a good look at your existing goals. Are they realistic and specific so that your team can actually achieve them? Goals that are too outlandish or vague are challenging to achieve and hinder progress toward your desired sales numbers. Here are a few things to consider when determining if you have realistic sales goals. 

Business status — Are your sales goals aligned with your current business situation? If you’re a seasonal business, relying on off-season revenue aren’t realistic. Do you work based on contracts? Do you have high margins? These factors can affect your overall revenue and should be considered when determining your sales goals for the year.  Economic influence —  Has your industry been significantly impacted in some way? COVID-related shipping delays have disrupted supply and prevented businesses of all sizes from being able to fulfill orders. If you are dealing with an economic issue like this or operate in a highly competitive market, you may need to revise your sales goals to lower, more realistic levels.  Employee feedback — Your sales employees are vital resources when it comes to deciding on sales goals for the year. They often have valuable insight into which sales approaches aren’t working, which marketing campaigns are least effective, and which regions are the least profitable or successful. Enlist their feedback when you make your yearly sales goals, as they’ll have a better idea of whether or not those goals are feasible. 

Don’t be afraid to rework or redefine your current goals to make them more realistic for your company goals and needs. 

Are You Targeting the Right Audience?

Sometimes a marketing campaign has all the right pieces but still misses the intended audience. If you aren’t generating leads from the customers you are trying to target, it can affect your yearly sales goals and your bottom line. Your marketing efforts should focus on the right audience, so if that isn’t currently happening, switch up your strategy to reach the right people. 

Find Out What’s Going Right 

While you may be behind on your sales goals for this year, you’ve still made progress up to this point. Some of your strategies are moving you in the right direction toward meeting sales targets. Find the campaigns, sales tactics, reporting systems, and lead generators that are working and find a way to improve or enhance them going forward. 

Set New Goals 

In evaluating your current goals, you may find that they no longer align with your sales targets for the year. In this case, don’t be afraid to set some new goals. You could try a few different goal-formulating tactics, including: 

Readjusting your target revenue.Decreasing the time it takes to close a sale. Determining a close sales rate. 

You may also want to set short-term goals that play into your year-end sales goals to keep your business on the right trajectory. New goals could reinvigorate your team and inspire them to reach your new sales targets. 

Search for Expanded Marketing Opportunities 

If your sales goals feel wildly out of reach right now, you should look at high-impact marketing strategies that help you reach a larger audience. 

Here are some examples of high-impact marketing strategies your company could try. 

Be a guest on an industry podcast, or push an ad on said podcast.Partner with social media influencers to create sponsored content or product campaigns. Write guest posts or place sponsored ads on high-authority websites. Produce quality YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok content that appeals to current customers and reaches a new audience.Develop a PR campaign that boosts brand awareness and creates positive company perception. 

Remember that not every marketing opportunity has to cost a lot to produce a positive ROI. You could spend a little bit on a new Facebook ad and see double the interest in return. The goal is to find and utilize options that greatly impact your audience and sales goals. 

Utilize Your Network 

You don’t have to tackle your goal delay alone. You can use the network you have to reach new audiences, entice return customers, and boost your overall sales. Consider leaning on your network in the following ways: 

Brand partnerships with similar companies. An affiliate program with influencers, celebrities, or social media stars to promote your brand or specific products. A referral program that rewards your existing customers and encourages them to share your company with potential customers in exchange for free gifts, product discounts, or money off a sale. 

You could also partner with an agency like Avalaunch to help you take on all these options and discover creative ways to meet your sales goals. 

Look for Scalability 

There are likely aspects of your marketing or PPC strategies that aren’t generating enough interest or leads. When this happens, pull your resources from those strategies and put them toward ones that work well. While you can’t scale up every successful campaign, there are a few strategies you can employ to boost your most profitable ones. 

Focus on the campaigns that bring in the most qualified leads or the ones with the highest conversion rates. Increase ad spend. Create new offers. Target new audiences.

Scaling up your most successful campaigns can help you attract more leads, gain more customers, increase revenue, and achieve your sales targets — all things that help you get closer to completing your sales goals. 

Prepare Your Team

Did you know that 44% of sales reps stop contact after one follow-up? This lack of follow-up is typically due to inadequate internal systems that help sales reps succeed. 

You may have excellent sales goals and many new leads and customers coming in. However, if your team isn’t ready to accommodate these leads, you won’t be able to convert them to customers. When your team is adequately equipped to nurture these leads, it can help you gain new customers and meet sales goals. 

There are a few ways you can prepare your team to manage leads effectively. 

Streamline the Marketing-to-Sales Pipeline

The marketing team should be documenting detailed information when they get new leads. This information should include which asset the lead responded to, which product or service they are interested in, and all contact information provided. 

Marketers then send these details to the sales team to help them create more effective contact with the lead. Studies show that when sales and marketing are aligned and working together, they experience 38% higher sales and 36% higher customer retention. Those wins will definitely help you get back on track and closer to your sales goals. 

Classify or Rank Your Leads

Ranking your leads helps your sales team know which ones to prioritize and which will most likely convert. You can group leads by category, like what information they are looking for, which service they are looking at, or how they contacted you (website, email, ads, etc.). 

You could consider using a lead-ranking software that scores leads to help you identify the most important ones. Some of these software options include: 

Freshsales Salesforce Essentials HubSpot Marketing HubActiveCampaignZoho CRM

These software options can help you make the most of your leads and streamline the process of finding the most lucrative ones. 

Let Avalaunch Media Help 

If you feel frustrated about the lack of progress with your 2022 sales goals, Avalaunch Media is here to help. We’ll work with you to create exciting, innovative marketing campaigns that increase brand awareness, reach new audiences, boost website traffic, expand social media engagement, and more to get you back on track to meet your sales goals. 

Don’t like your goals and don’t know how to proceed? We can handle that, too. We help you make clear, realistic, actionable, and measurable goals that can get your business closer to your yearly sales targets. 

Contact our team today and let us help you launch toward your sales goals and beyond.

- Kyle O’Brien
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Cultural Spotlights: Morocco
💡Learning about experiences and perspectives that are different from our own supports our journey of inclusion by reducing bias, building respect and increasing empathy, while providing an opportunity to celebrate our differences and similarities. At Buffer, we regularly share cultural spotlights from colleagues to connect our global team, and help us understand one another at a deeper level.– Katie, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Manager @ BufferCultural Spotlights: Morocco

Here’s a slightly edited version of a cultural spotlight we recently highlighted from Ismaïl, a Product Designer at Buffer.

I am 9,762 days old. I spent every day of my life in Morocco. I was born in a Ksar, a fortified village called "Zaouit Sidi Ali,” one of the 360 Kasrs in Er-Rissani.

People from my village used to live by farming – they spent all their days taking care of their date palm trees, and they ate and sold the date fruits to buy the basics of life, such as food, water, and clothes.

After years of droughts and when I was four, my extended family of 18 members moved 60 miles to Errachidia. It was one of my family's big moves to look for a better future with more work opportunities and better education for their children.

Here’s more about life in Morocco from education and religion to greetings and food.

Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoZaouit Sidi Ali in Er-Rissani in MoroccoFamily life

In Moroccan culture, family relationships are the most important component of social life. I lived my whole life with my extended family in a shared home. In our culture, it is thought that sons should only leave the house to work. Even though I am living on my own in Casablanca right now with my brother, all my family still live together in Errachidia.

While I was a child, I had been sharing a room with my brother and two cousins, I rarely felt alone. I always felt a great sense of family and community. Women usually stay home and take care of children while men spend their day outside working. Everyone was taking care of each other. We believe that the bigger the family, the more people there are to take care of you, and the better off you are.

Education

The education system in Morocco comprises pre-school, primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.  At that time, no one in my family had an education degree. My father and uncles had only been to primary school, my mother and aunts had never been to school, they learned the basics of Arabic writing and reading from the mosque, where they used to memorize the Quran.

My family was very aware of the importance of education, they always said they had no chance at their age, and they won’t let the same thing happen to their children. I grew up seeing every one of them working very hard to make sure we went to school and had everything we needed.

Like the majority of children my age, I attended a public school, where corporal punishment was a normal thing. Primary school was not easy, teachers have the authority to punish and discipline students. On the other hand, complaining to parents would not change anything as they believe punishment is the only way to get children to focus on their education.

Secondary school was a little far from my home, I used to walk for half an hour to get there. It is not long compared to many children in remote areas who used to walk for 1-2 hours to get to school.

The majority of Moroccan universities are free of charge, attending a good one requires good marks in addition to passing an exam. Most students receive education funds to pay for their studies except the ones from wealthy families. While I was still living with my family, I spent all the money on my English courses.

I attended The Faculty of Sciences and Techniques in Errachidia and got my bachelor's in software engineering. I moved to Casablanca to get my software engineering diploma at ENSETM.

Everyday life

Life in Morocco depends on which city or region you are living in, growing up in Errachidia is different from growing up in Casablanca. The first has a slow lifestyle, while the second has a rapid one.

I grew up in an environment where relationships are everywhere, our neighbors are close friends, and they are part of the family. Whenever they need bread, salt, an onion...they knock on the door and kindly ask if we happen to have any of these items.

Living in a country with many challenges teaches us what it means to be a resilient person who is happy with less and isn’t bothered by discomforts. No matter how rich you may become, you always appreciate what you have and understand everything can be taken from you anytime.

The diversity of Moroccan land

Most people think that Morocco is only dunes of sand and camels (which are really beautiful by the way), this mistaken belief could be coming from the movie, Road to Morocco which represents Morocco as a desert country. The truth is, most of Morocco’s territory is occupied by vast mountain ranges, with the Atlas Mountains stretching from the central north to the southwest of the country.

Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoCultural Spotlights: MoroccoCultural Spotlights: MoroccoMoroccan dunes and mountain ranges

Overall, Morocco gets plenty of sun all year round, but it has a variety of weather patterns. The desert is hot and dry. The coastal plains have mild temperatures. In the summer, the mountains are hot and dry. In the winter, they are cold, rainy, and often snowy.

Fun fact: In Morocco, You may be skiing in the North while the temperature is -5°c, but you can swim or surf the next day down South at 27°c.

Religion

Almost all Moroccans are Muslim and Islam is the state religion. A small number of people are Christian. An even smaller minority are Jewish. The kingdom of Morocco is one of the oldest monarchies in the world, It was founded 12 centuries ago. The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, is referred to as "Amir El Mouminin," or leader of the faithful. While the motto of Morocco is "God, Fatherland, the King."

The original name of Morocco was «Marrakesh» which in Berber language means “The land of God.” While Morocco is in Africa, it is only nine miles from Europe, which makes Morocco a mixture of races, with mostly Arabs and Berber.

Language

Generally speaking, between Moroccans in the streets, you will primarily hear Moroccan Darija and never Classical Arabic. Depending on where you are, you can also hear Amazigh language in the Berber areas and Hassani dialect in the south.

Unlike Classical Arabic, which is written and spoken, Moroccan Darija is only spoken. It is very flexible and dynamic, it contains some weird expressions that always makes me laugh, one of them is: "3tini wahed zouj bidat" the literal translation is "Give me one three eggs" but it means "Give me three eggs" not sure what the "one" is for. 😂

While a lot of Darija’s vocabulary comes from Arabic and Amazigh, many words have entered the language thanks to French, Spanish, and other languages.

French is spoken widely in Morocco, and you will have more facilities if you are a French speaker. Some locals speak Spanish in northwestern Morocco because of the Spanish culture's proximity and influence.

Fashion

Most people in Morocco wear ordinary clothing like much of the world wears. However, there are national costumes that are occasionally worn for holy days and celebrations. Some of them are:

Djellabas: a long loose dress with a hood and long sleeves, The fabric of the Djellaba changes according to the weather. During the summer, we wear light cotton-made Djellaba; during the winter, we wear a Djellaba made of wool to keep us warm. Men often fold the hood over the “tarbouche” (a small Moroccan red hat) and usually wear the “babouches,” a heelless slipper that is usually white or yellow.

Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoA Moroccan man wearing a Djellabas from Pexels

Kaftan: a world-widely famous dress worn by women for special occasions such as weddings or engagement parties. While it is very much decorated, it is pretty much like a djellaba without the hood.

Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoA moroccan girl wearing Kaftan from UnsplashWeddings

Moroccan weddings are a wondrous occasion where all Moroccan traditions meet, including fashion, music, and food.

Have you been to a Moroccan wedding? I guess not. If you ever get the chance, though, don’t miss it. Just make sure you have three days to spare. That’s right, a traditional Moroccan wedding lasts three days and ends with the wildest party you can imagine.

One of the lovely things I like about Moroccan weddings is The Amariya, a traditional Moroccan chair made of wood or metal, ornamented with gold or silver. The chair allows the bride and groom to be presented to their guests during the wedding ceremony.

Food: my favorite part 😋

Moroccans generally have three meals per day. Breakfast might consist of tea, bread, olive oil, butter, and preserves, or a pancake-like food known as Baghrir.

Lunch is the largest meal of the day and Tagine is one of the most famous daily meals for it. It is a stew of meat (usually beef, lamb or chicken) or fish with vegetables, spices, and perhaps fruits and nuts, slowly cooked on a bed of oil in an earthenware pot.

Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoMoroccan Tagine from Unsplash

You might be asking how we eat this? I will answer that, but let me first tell you about “khobza,” our own style of bread. It’s a round flat loaf that is torn off in pieces and used to eat every meal. There are some exceptions, like Couscous which I will tell you about very soon.

In Morocco, the whole family eats from one big plate, and everyone uses their right hand. It’s called Tegomass. You grab a piece of bread to get some sauce, meat, and potatoes from the plate. The meat is usually at the center, and it is the last item you should eat. Everyone respect this order.

While eating, guests are usually encouraged to eat freely; this is a Moroccan way to show generosity.

Lunch also includes different dishes depending on the day, the occasion, or the season. some of them are:

Couscous: (the national dish of morocco) Many people think that Couscous is a daily meal in Morocco but that is wrong. Couscous is the main dish just on Fridays. Cooking couscous is a work of art, I have always admired seeing my mother making it. (Fun fact: I worked with a Moroccan company where we used to give couscous instead of tacos in Slack when complimenting colleagues).Pastilla: one of the most luxurious Moroccan dishes. It is spiced pigeon meat encased in layers of flaky Warkha pastry, often dusted with sugar or cinnamon.Tanjia: It is a pot made of puffed clay, and a meal of lamb or beef, with which the spices are mixed and cooked in the same pot and buried under hot ash.Hergma: lamb and cow’s feet cooked with hot spices and hummus.

And there are many more including Rfissa, Hout, Kefta, Briouats, Bisara, and Chebakia.

Dinner in Morocco ranges from light to heavy meals, with soup, known as harira, and bread being common.

Moroccan tea

Moroccans are serious mint tea drinkers – we usually pour it from as high as you can. The cultural significance behind this is that the higher the tea is poured, the more welcomed your guests are. In addition, pouring the tea from a high distance creates little white foam bubbles that rest on top of the tea, and the idea is the more bubbles on top of the cup, the nicer the tea will look.

A famous Moroccan Proverb says: “When the stomach is full, it tells the head to sing.” I think that gives you an idea about what I will be telling you about next...yes, Music.

Music and dance

Moroccan Music is one of the fundamental aspects of Morocco’s culture. There are many different musical styles to be found, each one with its own history.

Andalusian Music: As the name suggests, Andalusian music comes from Andalusia, in Spain. It sounds like a blend of Arab and Spanish music and is performed with classical instruments.Amazigh Music: it is called Ahidus. The music is expressed through collective dance and song and originated among tribes in the Middle and Eastern High Atlas.Chaabi Music: it is a popularized folk genre that often comments on social issues and non-traditional themes. it mostly used at weddingsGnawa Music: Songs are typically played using a three-string camel skin bass instrument (hajhouj), heavy castanets (krakebs), and religious chanting.

There are modern Moroccan music styles like Funk, Hiphop, Rock, Raï, and more.

One of the famous singers in Morocco is Saad Lamjarred. His hit song "Lm3allem" was the first Arabic song to surpass a billion views on YouTube.

In addition to the great diversity of melodies and rhythms, there is a strange musical instrument that adjusts the rhythm, draws attention, and provokes the desire to dance. I’ts name is "Al-Qa'dah". This video shows how it works in a beautiful dance competition with the Flamenco.

Fan fact: Al-Qa'dah is not only an instrument. It is a metal bowl for washing and cleaning clothes too.

Holidays and events

Morocco is a land of many festivals and holidays. There are even three New Years that are for everyone to celebrate. One is from the Gregorian Calendar, the other one is for the Amazigh New Year or Yennayer, and the last is the Islamic New Year, Fatih Muharram.

Moroccans celebrate secular and Muslim religious holidays. One major Muslim holiday is Eid al-Fitr. It is observed during the last three days of the fasting month, called Ramadan.

The other major Muslim holiday is Eid al-Adha. The anniversary of the event is described in the Quran. God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Ismail but provided a ram instead. Every household across Morocco sacrifices a sheep and eats it at a family meal during Eid al-Adha.

There are other national holidays that we celebrate. One of the most important ones is The Green March which liberated the Sahara from the Spanish occupation when King Hassan II called on all Moroccans to undertake a long march to the Kingdom's south.

Cost of living

If you have a roof over your head, enough food, an income that covers your needs, and maybe a bit more, then you are already blessed!

Whenever you ask a Moroccan about how they are doing, they will say “Alhamdulillah” or “Thank god!” then follow up with “Hssen mn chi w kfess mn chi” which means “Better Than Some, Worse Than Others.” No matter what problems you are dealing with, there are people who are dealing with worse. I have always felt that these words are full of hope and gratitude, while for others, it makes people find reasons to stay where they are and never try.

Morocco is not an expensive country. The amount of money you’ll spend here depends on the city you live in. Big cities like Casablanca are two to three times more expensive than smaller cities. Generally speaking, around $1,000 per month is a decent income for a household that does not count more than 4 members.

Souk: Millions of items … and no prices

I spent most of the summertime in the Souk (Moroccan market), helping my father with his small business selling kids toys. As an introverted person, it was always uncomfortable for me to be in this place. As a vendor, you are not supposed to wait for customers to come and buy. You have to invite them. You have to shout the prices as loud as you can. The more people can hear, the more chances you have that they will buy from you. It took me years to accept who I am and do it confidently.

Shopping in Moroccan Souks requires some real price negotiation skills. Negotiating is part of the Moroccan culture. It is a normal habit for the Moroccan people. Actually, no one accepts the first price in the Souk.

Moroccan Souk is the best place to get lost in. I always admired the Attar shop, the colorful dunes of spices, and their different smells.

Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoAttar shop in Marrakech - from UnsplashMorocco is a cat country

When wandering the streets, you’re likely to encounter hundreds of stray cats everywhere you look. These cute critters are generally loved, fed, and taken care of by locals.

Most of the cats live on the street. The city is their home, and they are a well-integrated part of it. They have no fear of humans, they sit where they please in the middle of busy markets, and they look both ways before crossing the road.

Good luck counting street cats in Morocco!

Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoA cat in Chefchaouen from UnplashGreetings

Moroccans shake hands during greetings and farewells. Close friends of the same sex commonly hug and exchange kisses on the cheeks. People of the opposite sex just shake hands. The most common greeting among Moroccans is the phrase "Al-salamu alaykum", which means "May peace be upon you." The response is Wa "alaykum al-salam", or "May peace be upon you also."

In Morocco, we have a pretty much-extended greeting. It is common to inquire about the person and his family as well (father, mother, children, spouse...).

We do not rush

Moroccans do not rush, everything will happen in the right time insha’Allah "if God wills”.  A famous proverb says “la zerba ala slah” means “There is no gain in haste", and another one says “Li zerbo mato” which means “People that rush are the ones that are killed.”

While it has some pros, it has a lot of cons. Going to a hospital in Morocco is often a one-day journey. In the waiting room, you never know when it’s going to be your turn. It’s the same when it comes to paperwork and all that kind of stuff.

We love soccer ⚽️

No matter what you call it, soccer, football, or as they say in Morocco Koura,

Moroccans love football –  it is the national sport. Our team the ultras are one of the best worldwide!

Moroccans like playing football as much as watching it, and women enjoy it just as much as men, and they avidly follow both the global and local soccer tournaments.

Fun facts about Morocco:Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Prison Break, Inception, and dozens of other movies and tv series have been filmed in Morocco.The Film Casablanca wasn’t shot In Casablanca.Moroccan mothers have a great obsession with their living room. As kids, we were not allowed to sit there. The living room needs to stay intact for guests. You dream of one day sitting there. Mum would clean it regularly, although it already looked spotless.Morocco is the world's largest hashish exporter. According to the World Customs Organisation, It supplies 70% of European Hashish, (I have never used it ;))Cultural Spotlights: MoroccoIsmail at a hashish farmFinal word

In Morocco, we use a quote form Ibn Khaldūn a lot, which says  “ما دمت في المغرب فلا تستغرب” which means “As long as you are in Morocco, do not be surprised.”Don't be surprised how weird things are. Don’t be surprised how good or bad it could sometimes be. Don't feel surprised how illogical things sometimes are. Moroccans are so attuned to being shocked and surprised for the umpteenth time, and they have lost their sense of wonder.

Most Moroccans dream of going abroad. Many of them are trying to leave the country using irregular forms, while most of those abroad dream of the day they will be back.

In Morocco, If someone says wait a minute, it could be an hour.

In Morocco, if you are falling asleep people will wake you up to ask you if you are sleeping.

In Morocco, What’s in between two coffee shops? Another coffee shop.

In Morocco, the symbol of love is not the heart but… the liver.

As Moroccans, We disagree a lot on what type of Morocco we want, but we all agree on one thing: that we love this country because it is the land, it is the family, it is the food.

Hope this has given you a little glimpse into life in Morocco and encourage you to visit the country one day.

- Allison Esposito Medina
All the Founders Around Me Were Raising Money — Here's Why I Didn't
All the Founders Around Me Were Raising Money — Here's Why I Didn't

I always wanted to build something big.

When I started Tech Ladies in 2015 as a coffee meetup in New York City, I could immediately see the potential for it to grow into something larger. As a woman in tech myself, I craved a network to support me through the unique challenges I faced in the workplace. I also realized I was sitting on the answer to the “pipeline problem” that every tech company at the time was claiming prevented them from hiring more women in tech. It seemed like such a simple solution to connect our community with those who wanted to diversify their teams.

Of course, when you’re building something big in tech, most people expect that you’ll raise money to help you grow that big thing faster. While nearly all the founders around me were going the VC route, I decided bootstrapping would be better for us. And now, all these years later, I’m so glad I built it this way.

Don’t get me wrong, there are downsides to bootstrapping your business: You will move slower in staffing up your team, you will operate in lean ways that make you miss out on some opportunities to test at scale, you could lose out to a well-funded competitor who gets market share of what you’re doing (although I find that last one to be somewhat rare). And sure, I had moments when I felt wistful about the glamor of raising venture capital. It would have been nice to have a quick win, to be able to say I raised millions and therefore had a solid idea that important people thought was going to be profitable for them. Sometimes I wished I had a shiny office like all of my founder friends, and the ability to hire right away, staff up, and get this thing as big as we could make it.

But ultimately, none of that stopped our growth. Today, Tech Ladies is the largest community of women in tech with over 150,000 members and generating millions in revenue. We’ve helped hundreds of women find jobs in tech and helped companies diversify their teams. We’ve offered events, training, networking, and resources to women in tech and have had a huge impact in the industry. And I got to do it all without sacrificing my vision (or a percentage of my company).

Damn, I really built a company that employs 6 people, has helped hundreds of women get jobs in tech (where we are still grossly underrepresented) all without a dime of venture capital and now we are doing millions in revenue to continue our mission 🚀

— Allison Esposito Medina (@techladyallison) April 23, 2022

Here are some of the reasons why bootstrapping was the right path for me and the ways it has helped our company succeed since.

I Proved My Vision Quickly, But It Wasn’t VC Scale

The first indicator that I could bootstrap was the pace at which I started generating revenue that would, in turn, support business growth.

Early on, we started charging companies to place job postings in our weekly newsletter. At the time, the community only had 3,000 members but, because it was an incredible high-quality group of smart women in tech, it was a great pool to hire from. When the postings started bringing in around $5,000 a month and I didn’t have time to reply to every request coming in, I knew it was time to leave my job and work on building Tech Ladies full-time.

Since it seemed like everyone around me was raising money from venture capital firms, I figured I should take a few meetings with some VC connections I had made over the years. From the first meeting, a friendly VC encouraged me to put together a pitch that would promise outsized returns. “How is this a billion dollar company?” he asked. Embarrassingly, I returned with a blank stare and fumbled some answer off the top of my head. Another VC offered me a $50,000 check on the spot if I would just tell him I was “building the LinkedIn for women.”

I went back to my desk later that night and started drafting up some copy around how Tech Ladies could be a billion-dollar business. But everything I wrote felt out of touch with reality, or like a huge exaggeration. When I thought about becoming a massive social network, it didn’t sit right, and I wasn’t sure we could maintain our quality at that scale. I glanced over at the whiteboard next to me where I had clearly mapped out a bootstrapped pathway to make $500,000 our first year, a million after that, and $10 million in the following years. I was the sole owner of this company. Why would I not take a swing at that?

I canceled all the rest of my VC meetings and got back to building.

Very early on a VC I met with told me "Tech Ladies" wasn't a good name because it didn't "sound serious enough." So glad I didn't listen 🙉

— Allison Esposito Medina (@techladyallison) August 29, 2022

Going all in on your business without venture capital can be scary. But I asked myself: Do I want to be the founder who burned through $20-30 million in capital trying to build something I don’t totally believe in, or the founder who made even $5-10 million building something smaller but meaningful? Yes, some companies need to raise venture capital because they can’t create revenue until they spend years finalizing their product. But a surprising number can start making an impact (and a profit) quickly. I felt in my gut that was the right path for Tech Ladies.

I’ve Had to Make Everything Work ASAP

As we all know from watching the rise and fall of unicorn startups, raising money actually says very little about whether a company will succeed. Many companies that go the VC route spend a lot of time and money spinning their wheels without ever quite figuring out how to make a profit.

The thing I always tell people about bootstrapping, on the other hand, is that everything has to work. You don’t have six months to ponder revenue models—you have to get to profitability as soon as possible. You don’t have time to debate different strategies—you need to start trying them and see what sticks.

That’s the hard part about bootstrapping, but also the great part. Building a successful company isn’t about getting a few rich people to believe in you, it’s about putting something out into the world that people think is valuable enough to pay for. I’m glad we were forced to figure that out instead of having the money to try a business model for years and have it ultimately not work out.

This isn’t to say we never had failures, we just had to learn from them and adjust very quickly. For example, when you’re bootstrapping it’s very easy to be overprotective of your revenue. After all, that’s your money at the end of the day, so investing it back in the business is another muscle you need to learn to build. For me, one of our biggest mistakes was not hiring full-time people to the team sooner. I think we could have accelerated our growth by about two years if we had made one to two strategic hires, instead of me stubbornly running everything on my own with a few freelancers.

Of course, there were times when I looked at venture-backed companies and dreamed of sitting in their beautiful offices with their massive teams. But I was okay with learning to live without that so I could stay focused on what really matters: the thing we were building and whether it serves people.

I’ve Been Able to Stay Dedicated & Responsive to My Community

Bootstrapping has been especially powerful because I’ve been able to stay focused on our community and our clients as our bosses, rather than having to balance shareholder interests, too.

Like many community-oriented businesses, we have a tight feedback loop with our members and are always paying attention to how we can better serve them. Unlike VC-backed businesses, we can stay really nimble and adjust with our members as their needs change over time. We’ve had instances where we’ve beaten companies with huge amounts of venture capital because we were able to ship something quickly while they were still running things by their biggest investor, putting together reports, and debating the plan.

While they were scaling up global teams that never panned out, we were focused on getting hires for our partners, hosting events that resonated with our community, and building a paid community to help women in tech grow their careers.

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Ultimately, my favorite thing about bootstrapping a business is that it's available to everyone and ready for the taking. The only thing holding any of us back is limiting beliefs about what we can build, how we can build it, and if we even deserve it. That’s especially important given that only 2 percent of venture capital funding went to women-owned businesses in 2021. We can talk about all the societal changes that need to happen to fix that—and I’m personally investing my own capital in women-founded companies I believe in—but in the meantime, I hope more founders will stop waiting for permission from the VC powers that be and start working on their ideas on their own terms.

You can build any company you want on the internet right now and make millions of dollars doing it. Why not get started?

Want to learn more of my bootstrapping strategies? Subscribe to my newsletter, Bootstrap to Millions (with Allison), for more regular advice and stories from Tech Ladies’ growth.

- Hailley Griffis
I Took 7 Weeks Off Work After Hiring 3 New Teammates, Here’s Why It Worked Out
I Took 7 Weeks Off Work After Hiring 3 New Teammates, Here’s Why It Worked Out

In July and August of this year, I had the incredible experience of taking seven weeks off of work — fully paid. I benefited from our generous sabbatical policy (more on that below) to take a break from work.

It had been a particularly busy year, and I had two new teammates join in February and then a third in April who all reported to me— so the timing was tight here to get everyone onboarded and operational before I went on sabbatical. I was pretty nervous about taking such an extended period off of work after just having brought on three new teammates. But, in the end, my being away ended up empowering my teammates to level up their ownership and highlighting processes I didn’t need to be involved in.

Taking time away from work can be daunting, but in my experience, it can also be immensely worthwhile. It provided an opportunity for growth for both my team and me.

Here’s more about sabbaticals at Buffer, how I set things up while I was out, and why it ended up working out so well.

Our sabbatical policy

Since 2019, Buffer has offered sabbaticals to all teammates who have been on the team for five or more years. Teammates are invited to take a fully paid sabbatical and spend it however they’d like — working on a side project, traveling, helping a non-profit, spending time with family, achieving a life goal, or something else entirely.

We offer six weeks of sabbatical for every five years at Buffer, plus every additional year without taking a sabbatical adds another week (maxing out at 12 weeks).

February marked six years at Buffer for me, so I was eligible for a seven-week sabbatical. I’m one of 22 people who have taken sabbaticals from their time at Buffer since the practice was first put into place in 2019.

How I set up the team for support while I was out

I run the communications and content team, comprised of two content writers (you’ve seen Tami and Umber on the blog) and one social media manager (you’ve seen Mitra everywhere but might remember Instagram and TikTok videos in particular). Then we work with several agencies as well.

Everyone’s sabbatical planning was slightly different, but for me, I focused on my three teammates first. Here’s how they were supported:

1:1s with another manager

I do weekly 1:1s with each person, and in my absence, they did bi-weekly 1:1s with another marketing manager to continue getting that support.

Connecting with my manager

In some companies, “skip level 1:1s” are popular as a way for teammates to connect with their manager’s manager. My manager is our CEO, Joel, and while I was away, he did a group call with the team to check in and see how they were doing. This isn’t quite a skip level but a similar idea.

Peer reviews

Our original process for blog content was that everything was being run by me for editing. We had peer reviews instituted instead for all blog posts in my absence. Social posts are not all reviewed, but there are several options for peer reviews on social posts around the company when needed.

Masterminds

New mastermind pairings were kicked off around this time, and each teammate was paired with a mastermind partner. These are fun pairings meant to connect two teammates who don’t often work together to chat about challenges and lend a different perspective. They evolve a lot as the relationship deepens. Here’s more on how we run masterminds at Buffer.

Passing off points of contact

In each of my agency relationships, there was usually one other person who was already familiar with how we collaborated. So that person stepped up to become the primary point of contact, or else I assigned several people to be points of contact so our partners at the agency would have options.

Documentation for everyone

Last but not least, we have a really great internal handbook and marketing wiki on our team. Over the past year, I’ve been building systems so that we regularly document processes and best practices in Notion and sometimes include a Loom video.

Before leaving on sabbatical, I regularly asked teammates questions like:

What don’t you know enough about?What are you worried would go wrong?Is there any process you’re unsure of?Are you confident you can access all of the information you need?

Then I recorded videos or wrote up documentation for anything that came up. I had already written down all the other documentation around using specific tools, but I checked that over multiple times to ensure it included everything I thought relevant.

After many months of setting everything up for success, I felt complete confidence in my team. So I set my out-of-office reply and logged out of all of my communications tools for seven weeks to be completely disconnected from work.

The positive benefits of being away for 7 weeks

I was expecting things to go well because I felt everyone had prepared, and I knew there was a solid support system in place, but I was surprised at just how well things went without me there. (Maybe I should go on sabbatical every year? 😆)

I saw a lot of positive benefits.

My team grew a ton during this period

There’s nothing like removing the quick gut check with someone to level up your decision-making skills. I heard across the board that making decisions without my input helped build confidence. I believe this was especially beneficial because, as a new teammate, the practice of running things by me was initially built into the onboarding. Once the habit is created, it can be challenging to break. This led to each person taking on more ownership over their area and projects.

We questioned our processes

When I returned, one of the questions I asked in our first 1:1 with each person was what processes we might want to reconsider. In the end, things I had been owning that I passed to others temporarily ended up sometimes staying with that person because the new process made more sense. For example, in one case, it was a new primary contact for an agency we collaborate with, and another instance was that peer reviews ended up being both fun and helpful, so we kept those.

We also realized there hadn’t been a lot of collaboration built into the content calendar before I left. I had been planning everything while my teammates were still onboarding. Now that everyone was onboarded, we started an editorial review where the content calendar planning is much more collaborative.

It surfaced unclear areas

Being away also surfaced areas that were unclear and that weren’t documented. They all ended up being tiny things (like choosing the right cover image for blog posts), but still, it meant there was room for improvement in communication and documentation around those things.

Ultimately, decisions were made without me leading to teammates being more empowered within their roles and areas, and our team processes were improved and felt much more robust. I couldn’t be happier with all of this!

Where could things have gone better?

I wondered, “could things have gone better?” and I think there’s always room for improvement. But the biggest thing was ensuring my team had enough connections across the company. They are connected to each other and others on our Marketing team, but for new teammates at a remote company, it can be challenging to feel connected. Without a manager there to help make connections, that can be even more difficult. So if I could change one thing, it would be ensuring that there were even more points of connection between my teammates and other leaders at Buffer.

Over to you

Have you taken time off work as a new manager? How did it go? Or do you have any questions about our sabbatical policy at Buffer? Send us a tweet; we’d love to continue the conversation!

- Umber Bhatti
How These Sisters Turned Their Passion for the Alaskan Wilderness into a Fulfilling Small Business
How These Sisters Turned Their Passion for the Alaskan Wilderness into a Fulfilling Small Business

For sisters Anna and Kelly, life was anything but ordinary growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska. On chilly school mornings, as they’d make their way towards the bus stop, it wasn’t uncommon for moose to be idling nearby. Careful not to alert the striking creatures, the girls would nimbly make their way around the animals while somehow still boarding the bus on time.

An encounter like that might be frightening to some, but Anna and Kelly were raised to always respect and appreciate the wildlife they were surrounded by. Living in Alaska, away from relatives, they learned to rely on both their neighbors and the nature around them as their community and family. Now, as adults, they look back at their childhood and appreciate how unique their experience was.

“For a couple of years, we lived in what we call ‘in the village,” Kelly said. “There were a lot of bears where we lived. And every spring, you could walk down to the river and see the beluga whales coming up. That time was quite magical for a kid because it's just unlike anything else.”

Their parents always stressed the importance of being present in the moment – something quite easy to do when living near the vastness of the Alaskan wilderness – and intentional in the way they communicate with others. Presence and intentionality were values the girls were raised with and have stayed with them. And while it would take many years before they would eventually open up their own art business, these very principles are what inspired Arctic Haven Studio.

“When we started the business, our biggest goal was to share the art we're creating, but to do so in a way that connects people and back to nature,” Anna said. “Whether it's nature that they've experienced themselves — like if they've actually seen a Musk Ox, they can buy [our] Musk Ox and think about that experience — or to connect them to something they want to experience.”

Together, Anna and Kelly have created a small business that they hope will not only bring people together but also remind them of the beauty around them. This past July, Arctic Haven Studio celebrated their one-year anniversary. In a short amount of time, they shipped their artwork to 16 states, created 17 different design sets, and spent an average of 72 hours on the pieces.

Here’s how the two set up their brand in a way that’s allowed them to pursue their passions while doing a lot of good along the way.

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Combining their strengths to create something special

When Kelly was a business major in college, one of the things that were drilled into her was to never go into business with a family member. But she’s glad she didn’t heed the advice of her former professors, as creating Arctic Haven Studio with Anna has been a special experience. Though the two have full-time careers – Kelly works in contract management and Anna is a wildlife ecologist – their other job is running Arctic Haven Studio together.

The studio relies on both Kelly and Anna’s unique strengths. With her business insights, Kelly has been able to handle all of the logistic and administrative work, while Anna creates the artwork that is made out of tiny pieces of recycled paper – a technique she’s been exploring since high school.

For each piece, Anna starts with a simple sketch of an animal, then she begins filling in the outline with scraps of paper – often starting with the creature’s eye which is usually the most detailed part. It’s a long process, and Anna has spent anywhere from 40 to 80 hours working on a piece. Each animal offers its own unique challenge. Recently, Anna made a walrus and enjoyed playing around with paper to create its wet and slimy texture.

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It was Kelly who saw just how special and marketable this very art was.

“I would never have started this business if I didn't have [Kelly’s] support and knowledge as a business major and a business person because I like creating stuff, but I don't have the patience or knowledge to actually start a business,” said Anna.

In particular, it was a specific design that Anna had made of a ptarmigan, one of Alaska’s iconic birds, that became the catalyst for their small business. It was one of the most detailed paper-cut pieces Anna had created at the time.

The duo didn’t just want to sell any kind of product, however. They knew they wanted these art pieces to help connect people to one another, which is why they initially launched note cards with Anna’s designs on them.

“We started with notecard sets being our primary product,” Anna said. “We both write a lot of letters and [note cards] lend themselves well to being able to have some art that you get to enjoy, and then can give to someone else,” Anna said.

By playing off each other's strengths, the two have launched a company that perfectly embodies everything important to them.

As Anna said, “personal connection and community is a founding value for us.”

Laying out the groundwork for their small business

Despite already having a very clear vision for their products, Anna and Kelly didn’t rush to open up their doors. Instead, they carefully looked into vendors, reviewed contracts, and researched everything they needed to know about starting a business. In fact, it took them 13 months from their first official design to their grand opening.

While they were in the planning stage, they had clear talks amongst themselves about how they’d run Arctic Haven Studio. First, they broke down the six core functions of the business. They then turned each of those functions into job roles and divided them up between the two. While they value each other's input, they also decided there would be a decision maker for each aspect of the business.

“The agreement was that we both had a say in all the categories, but when a decision had to be made, whoever was assigned that category got to make the final decision,” Kelly said. “And we've never clashed on that.”

This methodological approach to opening the business is something they’re both glad they took the time to do. It allowed them to lay out a foundational groundwork for Arctic Haven Studio, making them feel confident in the business’s mission – to create meaningful work that not only represents their hometown but helps cultivate community amongst their customers.

While they’re proud of the growth they’ve achieved so far, they’ve always been realistic about their business and the fact that for now at least, Arctic Haven Studio is not their full-time job, but their passion project.

This perspective has helped them from getting discouraged.

“Everybody wants to be successful right away. But you have to figure out what that success even looks like and recognize, ‘I'm probably not going to make much money in the first three years’... but knowing that’s okay because success is making one more connection and just having those reasonable and reachable goals,” Kelly said.

Taking their time to open up connects back to the sisters’ goal of always being intentional with their work. This slower pace has allowed them to check all of their boxes, ensuring they were fully ready to become small business owners.

Giving back to themselves and their community

Contributing back to the wildlife they were raised by is something Anna and Kelly knew they wanted to do with their small business, which is why they’ve decided to donate 10 percent of their proceeds to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center annually. So far, they’ve donated over $300 dollars to the organization, and hope to give even more soon.

“The Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center ended up being a perfect fit for us because they do a lot of conservation and rescuing orphaned animals that then they rehabilitate and get back into the wild,” Anna said. “Or they use them as captive animals in an educational sense. But they have very strong animal care guidelines. And so it's something we felt really good about.”

Along with giving back directly to the wildlife, the sisters have embedded sustainability into their business as well. They use recycled paper and recycled materials for their packaging as much as possible – despite the fact that it is quite pricey for them as a small business to do so. They are well aware of the fact that they could be bringing in more money if they used cheaper supplies, but doing so would feel wrong.

“How can we sell art that reflects nature, but [our customers] are going to rip open the plastic and throw it in the trash?” Kelly said.

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But as much as they’re hoping their business can make a positive impact on the world, the sisters have also found that Arctic Haven Studio has brought back so much value into their own lives. While running a small business is not always easy, it has given them a chance to unwind from their everyday lives. For Anna especially, it’s been a creative outlet. The wildlife ecologist recently graduated from grad school and says the business helped balance things out for her.

“I honestly think [Arctic Haven Studio] is kind of what kept me sane in grad school. Having the creative outlet, creating the art and then also having the business side of things to work on with Kelly, where it was completely separate from my grad school work,” Anna said.

Even more, however, this side project has given the two a reason to spend more time together, strengthening their bond. The most fulfilling part for Kelly has been seeing everyone appreciate Anna’s art – something she’s been doing since childhood.

“I really enjoy seeing people enjoy Anna’s work because I grew up with it,” Kelly said. “There's satisfaction in that and seeing Anna being proud of what she's made.”

The future of Arctic Haven Studio

Just recently, Anna and Kelly celebrated a big moment for their small business: their first in-person exhibit at Wild Scoops, an ice cream shop in Anchorage, Alaska. This was the first time they had printed out Arctic Haven studio pieces on such a large scale and displayed them in a public setting for so many to see.

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Another step they’ve taken is reaching out to local businesses to start selling their notecards, stickers, and prints in physical stores, moving away from their online-only model. They’re also extending their product line and considering including prints in poster sizes. While they are still selling their original note cards, they’re looking into diversifying their items a bit to reach more customers.

The two plan to continue growing Arctic Haven Studio together with the goal of adding more beauty, nature, and meaning into their customers’ lives.

“We all know that feeling that you get when you’re looking at art and you just want to be where that is,” Kelly said. “And so we hope our customers will take away that [our products] are more than just a piece of paper to write on, but an intentional piece with an intentional connection.”

- Tamilore Oladipo
6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio
6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

When you want to make an impression on people, you no doubt do things to enhance your personality. You wear the clothes that suit you best or if you’re a business, show off the best of your packaging and messaging.

Most social media bios – including Instagram – function as your digital personality. It’s an extension of what people expect in real life, whether the impression they get is accurate or not. And it’s where people instinctively go when trying to understand you (or your brand).  Your Instagram bio is the information section of your account, and it's the first impression visitors to your profile page have of you.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Every part of your Instagram bio is an opportunity to not only introduce (and re-introduce) yourself but also communicate your value to your audience. In this article, we’ll share some ideas for making the most of your Instagram bio and examples of some of our favorites.

What is an Instagram Bio?

An Instagram bio is the section at the very top of every Instagram profile that displays:

Profile pictureUsernameDisplay name150-character limit descriptionBusiness categoryContact infoLinkInstagram ShopInstagram Story highlights6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Your bio is the first point of contact and should reflect your brand and personality as much as possible. A good bio encourages action from the visitor (‘Shop Now’, ‘Subscribe’, ‘Contact Us’) or gets them invested enough to engage with the content you offer.

What should you consider when creating your Instagram bio?

When thinking through which of these features to include in your bio, consider the following:

What is your brand voice and tone?What is your brand’s personality?What do you offer that other brands or accounts don’t?What is your unique selling point?What actions do you want people to take after they visit your profile?6 ideas for your Instagram bio

There are different ways to approach your Instagram bio. Here’s a breakdown of how you can set yours up using examples from existing accounts.

Keeping it simple

Many people choose to keep their bios as simple as possible. Some just outright state what they are like So It Goes magazine with no other information.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Others use a simple tagline, as we at Buffer and the folks at NASA do.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

And some accounts like Kinfolk just have their link-in-bio and business category up and leave the rest of their information blank. (P.S. This is only likely to work if your target audience doesn’t require much information from Instagram as a channel of communication).

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram BioProvide all necessary information upfront

Some bios just go straight to the point with the information new followers might be looking for. It can even save them a Google search if the way they would typically find out the information in your bio is by clicking through several pages.

Getaway House details all the places you can find its rental cabins, saving you a fruitless click to their website.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Newspaper Club states several offerings for its audience – print your own newspaper, get it delivered anywhere in the world, and get free samples.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Ting’s Chips tells you right away where you can find its products.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram BioGet creative

You can choose the route of the Quirky™ Instagram bio by using alternative imagery. This tactic depends on your brand personality – not many people expect “cute and fun” from their logistics company.

Chubby Home uses emojis that match its cute and friendly brand personality.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Visceral Home uses alternative fonts to grab attention. But keep in mind that fonts outside what you normally get on Instagram may not be very accessible as screen readers may be unable to pick them up.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram BioEncourage an action

If you want to get people to do something immediately, your Instagram bio is just the place to tell them.

The Cosmic Latte asks visitors to sign up for their newsletter.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Byredo says to “shop online and in-stores.”

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

SoCo Tahini tells its audience to use tag them using the hashtag #socotahini when they cook with the product.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram BioOffer a deal

Make the sale right off the bat by offering deals to visitors – after all, they’re potential customers.

Wild One offers several deals to visitors, from a discount on shopping a specific product to free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Free Mvmt Shop offers unlimited access in your first week of use for $25.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram BioBuild authority

Some potential customers need a little more convincing than others, so calm their worries with the reasons they should trust your brand.

Kola Goodies does this by mentioning publications they’ve been featured in like Forbes and Bon Appetit. For anyone wondering if they should try a new food brand, this can make them more confident.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Chamberlain Coffee uses this strategy by highlighting its connection to popular founder Emma Chamberlain.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram BioTips to make the most of your Instagram Bio

If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your Instagram bio, here are some of our top recommendations:

Get specific: Use the 150-word space to share your brand hook, highlight new products/releases, highlight partner accounts, or share a hashtag that users can adopt.Maximize your “link in bio”: You might have seen captions or Reels saying to “click the link in bio” for some extra information or access to new content. Your Instagram link in bio is the optimal opportunity to direct users to your owned content. Many people choose to use a landing page to hold several links, and lucky for you, you can make one right in Buffer, called a Start Page.Fill out ALL the (relevant) details: Instagram allows you to include a lot of information before users even scroll down to the rest of your page. Take advantage of the available tools by including Contact buttons, letting users Shop from you right in your account, or creating Instagram Story highlights.Add a CTA to encourage action: If you want visitors to take a specific action the first time they visit your page, tell them in your Instagram bio. ‘Click the link in bio to do x’, ‘send us a message’, ‘use the hashtag #xyz’ – these are some of your options.Use a relevant profile picture: Whether it’s your logo, a recognizable face or a campaign image, you must fill in the profile picture space with something that fits your brand.Change up your bio from time to time

You and your business will evolve – and your social media bios should evolve in tandem. Instagram bios don’t need to be static – you can edit them to your heart’s content, so take advantage of the freedom to highlight any new projects or releases or start a new campaign.

Beyond optimizing your account, you might also be focused on growth, whether of your followers or overall metrics. Take the chance to start scheduling your Instagram posts through Buffer and build the organic momentum that will take your Instagram page from “meh” to “must-follow.”

- Tamilore Oladipo
Ask Buffer: How Can You Batch Content for Social Media?
Ask Buffer: How Can You Batch Content for Social Media?

Question: I have a lot of great ideas, but I find that I don’t have enough time to make all of them come to life. What do you recommend?

Creating content can be fun, especially when you have many ideas to work on, but it’s also super time-consuming. There are many workarounds to this, from content repurposing and cross-posting to content batching – the highlight of today’s article.

Content batching helps you save time, post consistently, and repurpose your ideas seamlessly across platforms. In this article, we’ll walk through how you can create a system for content batching that lets you execute all your best ideas with enough time to spare.

What is content batching?

With this strategy, you make content in batches to use for over a long time period. For example, instead of creating a new graphic every time a post is ready to go live, you work on several images several weeks in advance.

Content batching is a productivity and planning technique that can help you improve the creation process for you and your business.

Benefits of content batching

The main goal of content batching is to help you stay ahead of the curve so you can focus your energy on other areas of your business. It also helps you:

Save time and energyFeel free to take time off whenever you need to because you always have content ready to goCreate a cohesive structure for content publishing. Having content on hand means you have what you need for specific dates/times but can also move around posts if something more time-specific occurs, like a breaking news story or surprise industry update. Boost productivity and consistency while reducing procrastination

For anyone looking to be more consistent with publishing content, creating content in batches is a great way to do all the hard work in one go, so you have multiple options for future use.

Understand your content pillars

Content pillars are the themes or topics used to guide what you post for your brand. A baby clothes brand will post baby and parent-related content, and a logistics company will post transportation and (e)commerce content.

Some ways to identify content pillars include:

Brand values. If your brand has specific values that can translate into content, these could influence your pillars.Audience interests. What have your customers repeatedly come back to?Analytics. What has historically been very effective regarding content for your brand? Is it a particular topic or content format?

An example of a brand that knows its content pillars is Ello Products, which sells reusable food and liquid storage products. Across its social media, the brand publishes content that tends to be centered around these things: sustainability, meal prepping, and customer-driven campaigns.

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@ello_products

Who says summer is over? Take your tastebuds to the beach with this Strawberry Paloma recipe ⛱🌊 #drinkrecipe #recipe #drinkideas #cocktail #cocktailidea

♬ original sound - evie

Outlining your pillars keeps your evergreen content cohesive so audiences know what to expect outside of time-bound content. You can discover what content pillars will resonate with your audience through a mix of competitor and audience research, as well as experimentation with different options.

Experimenting is particularly important because the results from your analytics can help you better determine what your audience connects with and what you should leave behind. Bonus tip: if you use Buffer to schedule content, you can easily track your analytics within your account!

Callout: Check out these articles for more advice on understanding and applying your analytics: 1 and 2.

Set aside time for brainstorming and planning

For content batching to be effective, you must plan ahead of time. The ideal outcome of batching is to help you be productive while reducing procrastination, which means you must put in a lot of initial effort for the eventual outcome.

If you’re looking for ideas for content to create, here are some of our suggestions.

Brand pillarsHolidays – just pick what fits your brand and create your content ahead of time:User-generated content – can function as a consistent flywheel of batched content while also improving your community engagement.Blog contentCompany updates and campaigns

Callout: Check out this and this article for more content ideas.

Case Study: The Cosmic Latte

The Cosmic Latte is an account that provides its audience with content meant to educate and entertain about astrology. When visiting their account, their audience can expect to see content around relevant topics like horoscopes or customer testimonials.

@thecosmiclatte.com

link in bio to sign up for emails 💌Sunday's Cancer moon, I'm taking a bath, saging my space, and spending a cozy evening alone ☁️💧#moontransits #moonsigns #cancermoon #piscesmoon #taurusmoon #astrologyforecasts #astrologytransits #astrologyfyp #spiritualitytiktok #astrologytiktok

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A post shared by The Cosmic Latte (@thecosmiclatte_)

This is a great example because, with astrology-focused content, you can plan farther ahead. After all, the information is based on predictions that can be interpreted for different audiences. As long as the creator keeps track of what’s up next, whether that’s Virgo season or a full moon, they can stay ahead of the curve and plan content accordingly.

Callout: You can use Buffer’s Drafts feature to put down your ideas as they come and expand on them when you’re ready. This way, you don’t spend too much time brainstorming and can dedicate time to the creation process.

Batch create the copy and visuals for all your content in one sitting

This is the bulk of the work of batch-creating content for social media, and it relies on proper organization with a content calendar or similar tracking system. At Buffer, we use Notion to keep track of what projects we’re working on, so we always know when a piece of content is meant to be published and can create it ahead of time. This method works for us because we have a clear view of everything we need to get out but can also move things around if we need to.

A great way to avoid spending hours in a day creating content is to set aside specific hours in a day or days in a week to work on specific parts of your content that you can do at once. For example, you might spend a few hours on a Monday creating the visual content for your brand, whether that’s product photography or creating images in Canva or Photoshop. Then you can dedicate a Tuesday to drafting the copy that goes along with your imagery and so on.

Schedule your content

The final piece of the puzzle that makes content batching so effective: scheduling.

If you’re worried that scheduling ahead of time affects the performance of your posts, fear not! We’ve answered that question, but the short answer is that it doesn’t. If anything, it helps you stay consistent with scheduling so you never have to worry about forgetting to post.

And of course, you should use Buffer to schedule your batch-created content – get started here.

Use content batching as a way to avoid burnout – not exacerbate it

In other words, don’t put pressure on yourself to post on social media, batched content or not. Life happens, and part of avoiding burnout is understanding that some days, you just won’t be able to get anything up, and that’s okay.

Instead of doing hours' worth of work, bake content batching into your weekly process so you do smaller amounts with the same effect of having content ready ahead of time.

- Phill Agnew
We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap
We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap

A few weeks back we did something a little different.

Everyone across the company dropped their work, canceled all meetings, and spent a week working on projects that weren’t on our roadmap.

We called it Build Week.

It’s officially Build Week at Buffer! 🛠️🚧 We’re taking this week to step away from our normal duties and work together on new ideas.

— Buffer (@buffer) August 22, 2022

Why? Well, at Buffer, we know the best ideas don’t always come from of conventional styles of work.

We’ve experimented in the past with lots of different work-styles, including self-management, OKRs (and scrapping OKRs), and our 4-day work week.

A Build Week was something we’ve talked about doing at Buffer for years.

We’d previously run hackathons and paper-cut sessions where the engineering teams would put time aside to work on projects outside of their typical day-to-day work.

But with Build Week, we went bigger, encouraging everyone in the company to get involved.

Two weeks before Build Week, dozens of Bufferoos submitted their ideas to Build

Week. Ideas ranged from small improvements in the product, to new landing pages.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapAll of the ideas submitted for Build Week

Each of us voted on the ideas we liked best and then grouped into 16 small teams of 4-6 to get to work.

Throughout the week we shared short updates with the company to showcase our progress. The dedicated #build-week Slack channel was alive with Loom videos, and prototypes as teams shared their work.

And after 4 days, 32(ish) hours, and 80 teammates getting involved, we had created a whole host of new projects. Take a look 👇

10 Product Improvements

Most of our team worked on product improvements, some small, some much larger. Many of which haven’t been released yet (more on that later), but  have made it into the product. Here’s what we built:

Attach Google Photos to your posts

Adding a Google Photo to your post just got a whole lot easier. With just one click you can open up your Google Photos account and attach the image you want to your post!

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapSee your teammates’ name next to their posts

Now you can see exactly which team member wrote each of the posts in your queue or drafts.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapGravatar profile pictures pulled into Buffer

Not only will you see your teammates’ name, you’ll see their faces too! Profile pictures (stored in Gravatar) will now be pulled directly into Buffer.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap

Analytics for Instagram Reels

This one will be music to the ears of many Instagram fans. Analytics (including impressions, reach, engagement, likes, and more) are now available for Instagram Reels.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapAnalytics for sent Instagram posts

We’ve made measuring your performance even simpler. See how your Instagram posts have performed straight from the sent posts page. Top-level analytics will appear right under the post helping you see if you hit, or missed the mark.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapEmpty your queue with bulk deletion

Got a bunch of failed posts stuck in your queue? Want to start afresh and remove all your queued posts? Now it takes just a click. Head to settings to clean or empty your queue.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapPreview videos before you post

When uploading a video post to Buffer, you can now preview the video instead of just the thumbnail.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapDefault timezone based on your location

Previously when folks would set up Buffer, we’d assign them a London timezone by default. Not great for people posting from Portland or tweeters tweeting from Tokyo. Now, Buffer uses your browser's timezone to determine the in-app timezone.

Twice as many colors in campaigns

Previously, users could choose from nine campaign colors. Now we have an additional nine pastel versions of our existing palette for more variety.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapHashtag manager available on all channels

Previously, the hashtag manager (used to store all your groups of hashtags) was only available for Instagram posts. Now it’s available on every channel.

We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapSeven updates we can’t release just yet

That’s just a taste of some of the things we built. There were seven other product updates worked on during Build Week, but they’re not ready to launch just yet. Keep your eye on our Changelog page or our Twitter account to see when they drop, but to wet your appetite, here’s some of the features on the cards 👇

Recipes: remove the guesswork & writers block from content planningWe Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapStreaks: Build a consistent posting habit with Buffer streaks. Send or schedule posts every day to keep your streak going and claim your reward.We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapChannel Wizard: A wizard that asks a few questions and then suggested a few channels that would be the most impactful when I’m starting social media for business.We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapComments on Drafts: Different team members can comment on drafted posts.We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapReferral Codes: Refer Buffer to your friends to win prizes!We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapWeekly Report Card: A weekly email documenting how you’ve performed on social over the previous week.We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapYour Year in Review: Just liked Spotify Wrapped, but for Buffer. See how what you’ve achieved over the past year.We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap

We hope to ship some of these extra features soon.

But Buffer’s Build Week wasn’t just about shipping product features. We wanted to work on other projects too. Most of these projects are designed to promote our culture and values, take a look. 👀

Five Culture & Values ProjectsThe Bufferoo Map: A live map on our site showing exactly where each Buffer employee works from 🔗 https://buffer.com/mapWe Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap

4-Day Work Week Page: A dedicated page to walk through how we operate a 4-day work week here Buffer 🔗 https://buffer.com/four-day-work-weekWe Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our RoadmapAll our Key Business Metrics Made Public: We’ve built a transparent dashboard to highlight all our main business metrics, (yep, even churn!) 🔗 https://buffer.com/transparent-metricsWe Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap

A Time Off Dashboard: At Buffer, we offer unlimited holiday. Want to know exactly how much time we take off? Now you can! 🔗  https://buffer.com/timeoff We Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap

What Buffer is Reading: Every Buffer employee can expense any book they’re reading. For this (final) project, we built a page that showcases what we’re reading right now. 🔗 https://buffer.com/booksWe Took a Week Off to Build Features That Weren’t on Our Roadmap

Well that’s a wrap!

In just four days we managed to produce a pretty mind-blowing number of projects.

We were thrilled by our progress. But what do you think? Have you tried a Build Week before with similar results? Tweet us to let us know.

Oh, do you want to suggest some ideas for us to work on next time? Drop them here.

- Jini Chatterjee
Why I Think More Mission-Driven Founders Should Start Businesses Instead of Nonprofits
Why I Think More Mission-Driven Founders Should Start Businesses Instead of Nonprofits

When I set out to start my own venture, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to something where I could have real impact. I’d spent the years leading up to this point as a corporate attorney, a career I enjoyed, but I was itching to work on my own idea.

I also had a vision for an organization aimed at improving diversity and representation in the outdoor adventure space. See, I got into the outdoors later in life: I didn’t go backpacking until my late 20s or climbing until my early 30s. While getting into these hobbies changed my life for the better, it was also an isolating journey. As a woman, as a person of color, and as a beginner adult, there weren’t a lot of communities to welcome me or support to help me learn new skills. I wanted to change that, and when I’d tell people this, they’d immediately say, “Oh, so you’re starting a nonprofit.”

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Working at or starting a nonprofit might be the most obvious path for someone like me who wants to make a difference. I did consider going that route, but instead decided to start a for-profit business: Headlamp, a platform for female, non-binary, and gender queer adventurers to find their path outdoors through content, community, and guides.

We make money by taking a transaction fee on bookings made through the site while ultimately supporting instructors in getting more business and individuals in finding community and learning new outdoor skills. Our goal is to start building out features that will help outdoor instructors grow their businesses. We are especially interested in supporting emerging and underrepresented outdoor instructors, who often face the biggest challenges in growing their businesses.  

To me, I’ve learned that building a business is a powerful way to serve the community I want to help. Here’s why I think more mission-driven founders should consider starting a business:

I Could Get Started More Quickly

Don’t get me wrong, starting a business is very hard. But, in some ways, there’s a lower barrier to entry when starting a business than there is when starting a nonprofit.

Getting a nonprofit off the ground and continuing to run one involves a lot of administrative hurdles. Registering as a 501(c)(3) is fairly complicated, involving setting up a board of directors and approving bylaws and usually taking many months; registering as an LLC took me a couple of days. When running a nonprofit, there’s a lot of regulation of how you spend your money; as a business owner, I have more control over the day-to-day decisions I make, giving me more flexibility to experiment quickly and pivot based on what I learn.

There’s a good reason for all this: nonprofits serve the public and receive tax breaks, so what they’re doing with their time and money should be scrutinized. But, it’s also easy for nonprofit founders to get bogged down by the paperwork and feel like they never really make the impact they envisioned.

For instance, I’m currently in a fellowship for rising leaders in the outdoors industry where I am the only for-profit business owner—the other fellows often discuss how frustrating it is to spend their days compiling reports and materials for donors instead of directly working with the communities they wish to serve. Meanwhile, I participated in an accelerator earlier this year that was targeted at founders of color who were launching outdoor brands. These profit-seeking businesses are trying to serve the same community as some of the nonprofits, but they're able to start working toward their mission much faster because they’re not limited by the same regulations.

I Have Access to a Lot More Resources

There’s no beating around the bush here: We live in a capitalist society, and there are simply more resources for businesses.

I experienced this first hand in my early career before becoming a founder: I started in the nonprofit space and then shifted to a more corporate career. I was amazed by the budgets and connections that I suddenly had access to—resources that would have helped immensely in achieving our mission when I was working at nonprofits.

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When I was considering whether to start a nonprofit or a business to tackle my vision, I saw the same sorts of limitations for founders. While there are some accelerators and incubators specifically for nonprofits—and some traditional incubators, like Y Combinator, have started to include nonprofits as part of their cohorts—it’s less common to find that kind of support. The fundraising options for businesses are immense, from grants to angel investors to VC money to crowdfunding, whereas nonprofits have to rely on more traditional donors or highly-competitive grants. To help give me the best chance of achieving my mission, I wanted as many resources behind me as possible.

I Have an Opportunity for Self-Sustainability

One of the most exciting things about building a business is the opportunity for self-sustainability based on something we make. Instead of having to go back to donors year after year like nonprofits do, my goal for Headlamp is for the company to create enough revenue to support the business and further the mission.

It’s worth noting that, in some cases, nonprofits are also allowed to sell products or services instead of relying completely on donations. However, the difference in how nonprofits are expected to spend their time and money makes it harder for them to take the time needed to experiment, iterate, and ultimately reach product-market fit. With a mission-driven business, it’s expected that it will take years to perfect the product and truly demonstrate the impact we’re having.

When I do become profitable, I hope to not only support my mission through my business, but also by redirecting some of our profits to related nonprofits. I also hope to reach the point where I can pay myself in my team well, which isn’t typical in the nonprofit space because of tight restrictions about how they spend their money.

I believe that if you’re spending a lot of time on a cause, you deserve to be paid well for it. While it’s just me working on the business right now, when I make my first key hires, I’ll be excited to be able to offer competitive salaries to help attract the best talent to help me achieve my mission, and make sure they feel valued for their hard work.

I Can Still Have a Huge Impact

The best part is, I can have just as much impact as a mission-driven business as I’d be able to as a nonprofit. When I talk to customers who are booking outdoor experiences on my marketplace, they aren’t taken aback by having to pay for this service—they feel seen and excited to have access to something that doesn’t exist for them elsewhere. When I talk to the outdoor guides who can list their services through my business, they connect with me deeply because we’re both small business owners with the same goal in mind: to get more under-served people outdoors.

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I’m not trying to say that all nonprofits should be replaced by businesses. For one, some services should be provided for free, and those are probably best served by nonprofits. But more than that, I think there’s room for both types of organizations: Nonprofits who can offer free services, and mission-driven businesses that can move faster and deliver more innovative solutions with the resources behind them.

My hope is that more future founders with a big vision for change they want to make in the world won’t just default to the nonprofit route. Maybe a nonprofit is the right way for you to achieve your mission, but starting a profit-seeking business can be just as powerful of a way to make an impact—if not more so.

- Tamilore Oladipo
Social Proof: Tori Dunlap on Evolving a Personal Brand Beyond the Person
Social Proof: Tori Dunlap on Evolving a Personal Brand Beyond the Person

This edition of Social Proof features a different story, offering the scenario of “what if my personal brand grew to be more than me?” That has been Tori Dunlap’s experience as her project to save $100,000 before the age of 25 has grown into a business touching millions of people’s lives.

The founder of multimillion-dollar brand HerFirst100k sat (zoomed?) with me for Social Proof about what happens when the brand that has been so reliant on your name grows more prominent than you.

As the interviewee with the largest audience of four million people across different social media platforms, Tori is an exciting deviation from the other impressive personalities we’ve met so far.

In this interview, we talk about growing out of the nine to five (even when you’re not entirely confident), the power of social media to accelerate brand growth, and the exciting future of personal branding.

🖊️This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: It’s so great to have you on for Social Proof, Tori! What do you think about personal branding in general? Have you been quite intentional about building yours?

If you were to ask me two years ago if HerFirst100k is a personal brand, I would say yes. But now it is so much bigger than that. And we're actually purposefully trying to make it not a personal brand. It is so tied to me, but we are now a team of 14, and HerFirst100k is a community of nearly four million people. So I think it's now more of a company that happens to be founded by me, and we're purposefully trying to make it not a personal brand.

Social Proof: Tori Dunlap on Evolving a Personal Brand Beyond the Person

In terms of what a personal brand is, I think it's how you choose to show up either in a business, online, or as an extension of yourself. So it can take various forms. And one of the biggest things that folks building a personal brand realize at some point is that it should be a part of you rather than all of you. And it also should be the part of you with something to say or some value to offer people. But that is separate from your inherent worth as a human being.

Q: And would you call what you have now a personal brand?

If I'm not playing small, I'm calling it an empire. But if I'm calling it something more realistic, it's an organization far beyond me and my personal story and has been for some time.

Q: You’re very visible in a way previous Social Proof interviewees aren’t. How does it feel to have your image so closely tied to such a massive brand in HerFirst100k?

Ninety-eight percent of the time, it’s great, but that two percent is challenging. How long do you have on the business side? If you’re not a person who runs a business and you see someone who is a business owner online, you might think they handle everything. This is especially true for a business like mine where I’m so visible.

But I obviously can’t reply to every email or respond to every Instagram comment – that’s just not possible. I think the creator world is still so veiled because people can think that one person runs an entire company. And that’s made the personal side very challenging – it’s hard to separate me from the business because I care so much about it.

It feels like an inverted pyramid where I have so much impact on the business that if something were to happen to me tomorrow, HerFirst100k might not exist. That’s something we’ve had to consider over the past year.

A couple of other interesting things are that I'm making more money than ever, and I get recognized on the street. And if I go out, I wonder if someone recognizes me or is watching me – that's a weird feeling that I'm not used to yet. But people are always very kind, and we get messages every five minutes telling us that our work has changed lives – it’s the coolest part of our work.

In addition, the perceived need to show up all of the time because if my face isn't on a TikTok, it doesn't perform as well. And so there are interesting expectations around the pace and consistency of the content that we have to create. And unfortunately, the content that I still need to be involved in for the success of the business. So again, these are all like strategic things that we're working on finding a better answer for.

Q: Now for my favorite question: what three words would you use to describe your/HerFirst100k’s brand?

Feminist, educational, and unapologetic.

We are a financial education company, but ultimately, we are a feminist company that happens to use money as our medium. And I think that that's something a lot of people might not publicly understand. But privately, as a team, that's what we're laser-focused on. We are a feminist brand first, financial second.

Social Proof: Tori Dunlap on Evolving a Personal Brand Beyond the Person

Q: Did your social media efforts start because you needed a marketing vehicle for HerFirst100k? Or were you already doing things on social media, and that led to you creating your business?

It was probably the latter because my background was in social media marketing. So the financial education business was not part of the plan. But I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. And so I was building a blog and a social media presence on the side of my nine to five.

Then through a couple of years of experimenting, I realized I wanted to have conversations about money and share education. So I feel like I knew a lot about social media, knew how to navigate it, knew how to tell stories, and was able to leverage those tools.

Social Proof: Tori Dunlap on Evolving a Personal Brand Beyond the Person

On the flip side, I don't think we really saw growth in our business until our social media grew, so I think they fed each other. I knew what I wanted to do in terms of marketing or figured that out along the way. It’s a cycle: our mission with HerFirst100k aided our social media growth which fed back into our mission.

Q: At what point did you decide to leave your career in marketing to focus on your business?

I told myself from week two of working a corporate job, “This is not for me forever,” because the plan was always to be an entrepreneur. I decided to quit once my business started consistently making as much money as my nine-to-five. And the weird thing that happened – because as the money person, you think I would have done this – I wasn’t keeping track of how much my business was making.

Of course, I knew the numbers generally, but I didn't know what they were month over month. And I think that’s because I would have had to quit if I knew. I saw the momentum, we’d started making some money, and I purposely wasn't crunching numbers because I would have had to keep the promise to myself. And that – quitting my job – felt very scary.

But while on vacation, I got the call for a Good Morning America, came back, and did the interview. Three weeks later, I quit my job and never looked back.

I'm financially independent at 28, we give women jobs, we're a multi-million dollar company – it was 100 percent the right choice.

Q: And how does it feel seeing the shift to brand-creator relationships not long after you left a company to become a creator?

I think it is a difference in how the work is changing, how the internet is changing, and how if you are not ready and interested in adopting these changes, you will get left behind. There are all sorts of exciting changes, and if you are unwilling to adapt and bring in new, diverse talent, you will miss out on significant benefits for your brand.

Q: Which of your efforts, prior to media attention on platforms like Good Morning America, was the turning point for you and your business?

Overnight successes only seem to have happened overnight because you discovered them overnight. I discover so many people that seem to have come out of nowhere. That's the same thing with me – you didn't hear about me for years, but I’ve been building for seven years. So there were two of those turning points before the media attention and seeming overnight success.

The first key moment was when I rebranded my business in 2018. Technically, our business is still called Victory Media which is the umbrella under which HerFirst100k exists. And while I still love that name, it had nothing to do with what the company does. If I was quoted in an article, no one would know what my company does from the name Victory Media’. Rebranding to HerFirst100k was not only very clear, but it also says in the title who exactly I'm appealing to.

The second biggest turning point was 100 percent getting on TikTok in July 2020. A video went viral not long after we started posting; it was growth like I had never seen before. We went from, I think, 2000 followers to around 200,000 or more within a few weeks. We had another video go viral in 2021, which is our most viewed video and has seven million views. It drove 100,000 email subscribers to our newsletter in a week – just from that one video.

@herfirst100k

Making bank teaching women how to make bank. #smallbusiness #clownshit #personalfinance feminist #moneytips #adulting #manifesting #businessowner

♬ trump sells like poo poo (Apashe - Sand Storm feat. Odalisk) - ⁺˚*・༓☾haya☽༓・*˚

It was the opportune time – everybody was on TikTok at the time and bored at home. I was the same, consuming content for about four months before I started creating it. And I think that really helped because I could understand trends, what worked and what didn't.

We now have 2.2 million followers, it's increased our Instagram following tenfold, it's probably quadrupled our revenue, and it's been the driver of our podcast success. It's just changed absolutely everything. So I think those were our two big turning points: changing the name of the business at least publicly and then starting on Tik Tok and navigating our platform.

Q: If you could tell younger Tori anything, what would it be?

I talk to her all the time – she's so proud of me, and I'm so proud of her. I'd tell her to chill out first of all. My ambition is the reason I am where I am, but it also, sometimes, makes me miserable. Because the interesting thing is, that I had people I looked up to and compared myself to for a long time. For example, I discovered Jenna Kutcher, who’s amazing and already had a massive platform in 2016. And I remember looking at her and thinking – I can do that, I can have that business.

I would post on Instagram, or I would send an email, and I wouldn't see any growth. And I'd be really frustrated. Because again, the overnight success thing. I discovered her now, and so I want what she has now. But she had grown to be so successful over multiple years, and I got so impatient that I wasn't seeing the same amount of success at the pace I wanted. We’re now colleagues, but I look back on that and can see that I had to go through the years to reach a certain point, just like everybody else.

Even if you know you're capable of something, it won’t work out as you expect if it's not the right time. You have to make all the mistakes and learn all the ropes to reach the same level of success. If future me showed up to past me and gave me Jenna Kutchner’s business, I wouldn’t have been able to support it. I did not have the bandwidth, expertise, confidence, or knowledge to do that. I didn't have the boundaries to be able to do that.

You have to patiently build that over time till you get to the point where you can build the business that you want. It has to come through time and patience, and dedication. So to younger me, who was so ambitious – much like my current self – I would tell her that she’s capable, but it’ll take a bit of time to get to where she wants.

Q: What downsides have you experienced as a creator with such a large platform?

The lack of separation emotionally for me because I care so much about this. Feedback hurts more, both necessary feedback and criticism because it's directed at me and not at the company that happens to be led by me. I think people are more likely to give that criticism because they feel like I'm going to see it and read it and internalize it. And they're usually right, I've usually seen it. As someone who often is very vocal about issues, I feel like doing so opens me up to a lot of criticism. Because if I'm vocal, other people will be vocal about me.

Also, getting recognized can be really beautiful but comes with its own challenges.

And the biggest one is that I will screw up. I'm often scared that people won't offer the grace I hope they will, and I feel there's very little forgiveness for people online. But I'm hoping that people have the grace to understand that I will do my best to acknowledge my mistakes, make them right, and learn.

Q: With the context of your journey, what do you see as the future of personal branding?

Social Proof: Tori Dunlap on Evolving a Personal Brand Beyond the Person

When you think about people with a strong personal brand like Oprah, whose name has become so well-known but is a huge business with many people working behind the scenes, in reality. It’s Oprah’s book club, the Oprah network, and Oprah magazine, but no one thinks she’s writing the whole magazine herself. But with most online creators, if you’re not paying attention, you may still think that the people with huge platforms are doing so much work alone. That’s just not the case.

So I think the future of personal branding will be much more like running a business. Even the perception of a personal brand doesn't feel as legitimate as saying, you know, I'm a C Corp or an LLC. And that will also change how consumers think about brands. It will become more widely known and accepted that the people you see online likely have a team supporting their creative efforts, no matter how relatable they are. In addition, I hope people will understand that it’s hard to grow at the same rate as their favorite creators without that team. So it would help mitigate creator burnout and develop a personal brand.

There’s also an opportunity there for people to connect with a company and a mission to foster diverse thoughts, general diversity, and connection with many people around a particular mission. Again, this is a far better option than having one person grow until they become an almost godlike figure. And as we know, godlike figures are never, ever a good idea.

Takeaways

Like I said in the intro, this interview was a departure from the other Social Proof installments we’ve done. Tori’s turned her personal brand into a business, bringing a different perspective to successfully growing an online reputation. Here are some of my favorite takeaways from our conversation:

The future of personal branding will be operating like a business: Tori makes a great point that even if someone is the face of a big project, there’s often a large team supporting them. In practice, this might look like creating video content and paying someone else to edit or using a personal assistant. A great example of a personal brand-turned-business like Tori’s is Ali Abdaal’s growth from a team of one to a team of twenty-one (as of December 2021). To scale his content operations, Ali runs his creative platforms like a company – we may begin to see more of this, albeit on a smaller scale.Patience is vital as you grow and scale your personal brand: Tori’s business has an audience of nearly 4 million people, but that didn’t come overnight. It took years – and consistency – to build HerFirst100k to where it is today. When building your personal brand, you must be patient and persistent at publishing content and engaging with people to see the long-term impact.There’s no project too niche to share: An interesting highlight of this interview was Tori breaking down the choice to name the business HerFirst100k. It’s so specific because that’s what she started sharing content around – saving $100,000 – but also because it clearly states who the business is for. There are people of all genders that might be trying to save more or less money, and they could benefit from the content being shared, but the business knows exactly who its audience is. The takeaway is to a) get specific and b) share your seemingly too-specific pursuits because there’s an audience for almost everything.

Looking for ways to improve your processes to scale your personal brand? Try Buffer for consistent content scheduling.

- Umber Bhatti
How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the Feature
How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the Feature

Twitter has been an amazing platform for content creators and small business owners to build community, showcase their work and knowledge, and express distinct viewpoints. In our series, Social Proof, we’ve spoken to content creators who’ve literally built their careers by tweeting about their interests and passions. And the power of Twitter can be leveraged by professionals in virtually all fields – making it a great channel to build community.

And now, Twitter is giving creators a new tool to connect with their most ardent supporters – Super Followers. The feature was first introduced in September of 2021, and allows creators to earn revenue from their tweets, while also providing a way for them to deepen their relationship with their biggest fans. Here’s exactly how the feature works and how two content creators are creating exclusive tweets for their Twitter Super Followers.

What exactly does it mean to have Twitter Super Followers?

Your Twitter Super Followers will be privy to specific content that you’ve curated especially for them. Currently, Super Followers is being tested, meaning it’s only available to certain people who’re in the test group and not a feature just anyone can use. And even if you are included in this special group, you’ll still need to apply to have Super Followers.

Here are the qualifications you’ll need to meet:

Be 18 years or olderHave at least 10,000 FollowersHave Tweeted at least 25 times in the last 30 days

How exactly does a normal follower get upgraded to a Super Follower? They will need to subscribe and pay a monthly fee. Twitter gives creators the option to set the price – you can choose from three different tiers: $2.99, $4.99, and $9.99.

Once you start getting subscribers, that’s when the fun begins! You’ll be able to plan out and create specific content for an exclusive portion of your audience, aka your Super Followers.

Along with seeing exclusive tweets, Super Followers will also have a badge displayed next to their name that will show up when they interact with your Tweets. And, they’ll have access to exclusive Twitter Spaces you can host.

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the FeatureSource: Twitter

As this feature is still in development, Twitter has said they’re looking into adding additional perks and bonus content for Super Followers.

How these content creators utilize Twitter Super Followers

Maybe you’re interested in having Super Followers, but you’re not entirely sure how you’d go about it. To give you some insight into the possibilities this new tool provides, here are how these two content creators are navigating the feature.

Mr. Gary is more personal with his Twitter Super Followers

A long-time actor who got his start playing Nelson Tibideaux on The Cosby Show, Gary Gray’s Twitter account revolves around his art. Asides from acting, Gary does coaching for voice lessons, writes screenplays, and creates original art pieces. The actor has landed many of his followers through tweets he’s made about his previous roles — like when he posted about the 23rd anniversary of Rocket Power – a popular Nickelodeon show he worked on.  

Happy Jordan year (23!) to my first VO, the one and only Sam Dullard aka Squiiid - and to everyone involved with Rocket Power! 23 years ago the show dropped and y'all made us #1! Thanks to all y'all for watching then and STILL watching now - you the MVPs. Much love - GLG pic.twitter.com/k62eabcEuc

— Mr. Gray (@GaryLGray) August 16, 2022

When Gary first got the notice that he was eligible to apply for Super Followers, he didn’t seriously think any of his followers would actually pay for extra tweets. That is, until he asked. He was surprised to see several individuals responding that they would be interested in Super Following him.

The actor has been using the feature for the last couple of months and fluctuates between 8 - 14 Super Followers. Overall, he says he’s had a positive experience with it. The main difference in the content he creates for his Super Followers is that he’s intentionally more interactive with this group compared to the rest of his 24,000+ community.

“On my regular Twitter, I'll just say, you know, ‘Feeling meh,’” Gary said. “Whereas, with Super Followers, I'll say, ‘Not feeling so good today. What did you guys do?’ Because it makes them feel a little less like they’re observing me and a little bit more like they’re included.”

Gary also provides his Super Followers with additional perks including exclusive access to his sketches and art pieces at discounted prices. Recently, he just did his first giveaway for his Super Followers as well and gifted a signed copy of a Rocket Power video game.

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the FeatureGary offers his Super Followers exclusive access to art pieces

Gary appreciates this tight knit relationship he’s developed with his Super Follower community and has noticed that his Super Followers also seem to enjoy this content as they regularly interact with his exclusive tweets.

Ashani the Alchemist offers personalized horoscopes for her Twitter Super Followers

A tarot reader and astrologist, Ashani has always felt drawn to the spiritual world. She majored in creative writing in college and worked at a spiritual shop which prepped her well to write the horoscope messages she would eventually be known for.  

Mercury retrograde starts in about 2 weeks on September 9th.As the moon enters Libra today, now conj. Mercury, we are going to get a peek at the themes we’ll be facing next month. Imbalances in your life, especially your relationships, will be more evident at this time.

— ashani the alchemist ☿ (@ashanism) August 29, 2022

After losing her job during the beginning of the pandemic, Ashani became more active on Twitter and her friends began asking her to do tarot readings – making her realize there was a demand for her service. She quickly went viral on Twitter and her popularity afforded her the opportunity to go on Instagram Live with rap superstar Cardi B and do a birth-chart reading for her.

When Ashani was first introduced to Super Followers, she was very interested because she believed this feature could allow her to focus more on Twitter as a whole instead of other platforms like Patreon.

“I was excited [for Super Followers] because I didn’t like Patreon for the sole fact that, one, it took me away from the engagement I had on Twitter. And I felt like I was working double time trying to create content for Twitter and Patreon.”

Ashani has amassed just over 30 Super Followers in the last few months and provides them with more personalized horoscope messages than the ones she offers the rest of her 38,000+ following. However, the content creator admits that since the feature is so new, she is still figuring out how to best engage with her Super Followers.

“[Super Followers] is a lot more of an intimate space,” she said. “I'm still trying to figure out how I can engage with people a little bit more, or, what they even want from me. Because obviously, they want the content and the information. But it’s like, how can I make it more fulfilling for myself as well?”

As of now, Ashani does see the value in having Super Followers and plans to continue using it. However, she’s actively brainstorming new ways to engage with this exclusive audience in order to make the feature work best for both her community and her business.

Still, her current Super Followers already see the value in the services and content she is providing, including one of her ardent supporters, Twitter user @luminary222. Luminary says she is happy to pay the $4.99 a month because she believes Ashani is a talented tarot reader and she personally connects with her messages.  

“What I gain from being a Super Follower of Ashani is not only do I get more content, but I am helping her expand as a creator,” Luminary said. “I am letting her know that there's people out there who care about her work and genuinely want to hear what she has to say.”

Benefits of having Twitter Super Followers

Your supporters are what makes your business and content thrive, and Twitter Super Followers is a great way to provide them with special content that, hopefully, will allow them to forge a stronger connection to your work. Twitter Super Followers can provide the following benefits to you and your business.

Streamline the amount of platforms you use

As a content creator, it can be hard to jumble multiple social accounts. The fact that Super Followers allows you to host a subscription service within Twitter is a big plus for Ashani.

“I will say that I enjoy [Super Followers], because it's all seamless,” she said. “It's just a click of the button. All you have to do is press a little drop down menu and say, super followers versus everyone. So it's a lot more simple. It's all in one place. I do enjoy that.”

Using this feature may make it possible for you to limit the number of other subscription based platforms you're active on, like Patreon or Ko-Fi, reducing the amount of toggling you’ll be doing between accounts throughout the day. This can also allow you to spend more time curating specific content for Twitter and your Super Followers.

Deepen your relationship with followers

For Gary, Super Followers has been a great way for him to open up on a more personal level with his biggest supporters. The actor is able to go beyond discussing work related matters, and introduce a more intimate side of himself.

“Super Followers might get some [more personal] videos of me because it's something that's a little bit more intimate that I wouldn't necessarily show a lot of people,” he said.

The feature has made it possible for him to get to know his Super Followers better, making the relationship feel mutual instead of one-sided. This is not something he’d be able to do with his account’s main following as it would be quite difficult to get to know over 20,000 people intimately.

Your Super Followers will stand out to you when they interact with your normal content, too – thanks to the handy badge next to their name – meaning it will be easier to engage with them whenever they comment on your general tweets as well.

Add a new source of revenue

While you may not be able to rely solely on the income coming from your Twitter Super Followers, it can be a great way to earn some extra cash for your content.

It’s good to note, however, that Twitter does tax some of this revenue. The social media platform has provided a helpful breakdown depicting a realistic look at what a content creator can take home from a Super Follower subscription.

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the FeatureSource: TwitterWhat to consider before opting into Twitter Super Followers

Remember, social media sites are constantly adapting and adding new tools for content creators. It may be tempting to opt into a new feature when it’s first offered, but not every feature or trend will be a right fit for you and your brand.

Since Super Followers is such a new and limited feature, there will also be a learning curve on how to best use it. As of now, there isn’t a ton of data on how Twitter Super Followers has benefited creators or small businesses.

Here are some factors to consider if you’re leaning towards having Super Followers on your Twitter account.

Make sure you have the capacity for it

Sometimes, it can be easy to jump on new social media trends in hopes of gaining more engagement and traction online. But in reality, it’s important to make sure you have the bandwidth to commit to these new features and channels.

While Ashani is appreciative of all of her Super Followers, she’s also aware that $5 a month is not a sustainable enough income for her to constantly be churning out new content.

“I have to be more discerning in my energy. And so I have to discern whether $5 is worth giving so much more of myself each month,” Ashani said. “No shade to all my super followers because I love them, and I'm appreciative of them, but even one of them told me that they’re [Super Following me] just to support me.”

By implementing this feature, you will need to generate more content for your Super Followers, so make sure you have the creative and emotional capacity to do so as well as enough time in your schedule.

Have a clear idea of how you’ll be dividing your content

Once you decide to have Super Followers, you will need to make extra content for this group, which means you’ll also need to sort out exactly how you’ll be divvying up your tweets. While this isn’t necessarily a negative, it may add more work onto your plate.

Now, whenever Gary plans to post on Twitter, he has to factor in what he can provide his Super Followers with versus his main following.

“For instance, my anniversary content for Rocket Power — that day I’m thinking in my head, is it worth it to post something to super followers first?” Gary said. “Or, is this an everybody thing? Almost every big tweet or any big engagement like that, I have to sort of think about the separate groups.”

Your Super Followers will be paying you for exclusive content, so it’s important to be strategic and organized when planning out tweets for them.

Don’t alienate the rest of your audience

For Ashani, a major struggle with implementing Super Followers has been her not wanting to neglect her main following. As a tarot reader, she gets most of her clients from her astrology and horoscope tweets which tend to receive tons of retweets and likes. To limit some of that content to her Super Followers can sometimes feel counterproductive.

“When I post messages, I gain clients. I gain new followers. Those followers resonate with my work, and then they book with me. And, they book with me consistently,” she said. “And if I’m only posting messages on Super Followers, yeah, that's 4.99 a month, but is it taking away from the tips I could get, the engagement I could get, the extra clients that I could get?”

Ashani does caution other content creators and small businesses owners to really think about the effects Super Followers may have on their content before jumping into the feature.

Have fun and experiment!

While Gary appreciates his Twitter Super Followers, he also hopes Twitter will provide a clearer picture on best practices for using the feature as he feels the burden is currently on content creators to navigate it.

“Twitter has to show businesses and creators the value in [Super Followers] by providing a sort of roadmap,” he said.

For now, content creators are testing the feature, using it to the best of their abilities. Ashani encourages others to try out Super Followers, but to be intentional about it as well.

“So the one thing I would say to people who are going to approach [Super Followers] is know what you're trying to offer… and what you have the capacity to offer for the price point as well. Don't overextend yourself … But consider it and have fun with it.”

Do you Super Follow anyone on Twitter? We’d love to know the content creators you’re supporting! Drop their names in our DMs on Instagram or Twitter.

- Lily Amberg
How I Turned a $500 Investment Into a $1 Million Online Shop in 18 Months
How I Turned a $500 Investment Into a $1 Million Online Shop in 18 Months

I believe that one of the biggest myths about starting a business—particularly a product-based one—is that you need a lot of capital to get going. While that may be true for certain industries or those who want to open with a full store of inventory, it is often possible to launch with very little.

At least, that’s how it worked out for me. When I started building Witch’s Way Craft, I had a vision for the shop it is today, with a vast inventory of candles, crystals, and all manner of magickal goods. But, with only about $500 of savings that I could afford to spend, there’s no way I could stock all of that from the get go.

Instead, I started small, letting the shop grow as my budget allowed—which happened faster than I could have ever dreamed of. A year or so after listing my first ten candles on Etsy, I was making about $1,000 a week in revenue, so I felt ready to quit my job to see what would happen if I gave it my all. Less than a year after that, I was making enough to hire my husband full-time. Less than two years later, with both of us working diligently on the business, we hit $1 million in total revenue and have continued growing ever since.

For anyone else who has big business-owning dreams on a small budget, I’m here to share some of the strategies that helped me make it happen.

I Reinvested Most of Our Profit Straight Back Into the Business

I spent 100 percent of that initial $500 on supplies to make my first candles. Once I made and sold them, I made back that initial investment, plus $500 in profit. Then I had $1,000 to invest in new inventory and business growth. As I sold more and my revenue increased, I started buying cooler vintage glass candle vessels and shopping at trade shows to add crystals to my inventory, giving customers a reason to come back and buy something new. Over time, by reinvesting the money made from sales, the store has grown from ten items to over 1,000 in stock, and we now have thousands of dollars to reinvest in building out our first brick-and-mortar store.

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A post shared by WITCH’S WAY CRAFT MAGICK SHOP (@witchswaycraft)

As a business without a lot of initial capital, I had to get used to these waves of growing, waiting for that growth to pay off, and then having the money to grow some more. It was frustrating at times to not be able to do everything I envisioned from the start, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from slowly building toward it.

What about paying myself along the way? I’ve never officially given myself a salary (since the business is a sole-proprietorship, technically all of the money passes through to my personal finances), and instead my husband and I pull money out as we need it for bills and such. It’s not the most glamorous lifestyle, but it does allow us to put as much into growing the business as possible. And it’s not like we’re living in squalor: For instance, last year we were able to buy our first house. We saw it as both a personal investment and a business investment that would allow us to store more inventory without needing to rent warehouse space.

I Used Relationships to Grow My Customer Base

Throughout this growth, I’ve spent very little money on marketing, instead relying on word of mouth and relationship-building to grow our customer base.

The one big exception to this, and something that really jump-started our following, was paying for table space at local maker’s markets, craft fairs, and flea markets. The first time, I spent $40 to share a table with another vendor and made something like $300, which felt huge at the time. As I started doing more markets, I’d make $500-600 on a bad day and over $1000 on a good one.

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A post shared by WITCH’S WAY CRAFT MAGICK SHOP (@witchswaycraft)

The sales were great, but even better was to see the effect that direct customer connection could have on my business growth. People really responded to hearing me talk about my candles, the care that went into choosing the materials and making them, and what each one means to me or how it can be used. Even if they didn’t buy right away, I’d notice more local web orders come in during the days following fairs or a jump in followers on our Instagram.

I also developed relationships with other small business owners at the markets, many of whom were willing to help each other succeed. We started doing “shop shares,” where we would all share products from another person’s business in our Instagram stories or on the feed. These weren’t giveaways and we didn’t charge each other for them—they were simply in-kind sharing, and we tried to make them feel really organic instead of promotional. It always led to a nice bump in followers and reminded me of the power of seeing other businesses as community instead of competition.

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A post shared by WITCH’S WAY CRAFT MAGICK SHOP (@witchswaycraft)

I Got Creative With How I Connected With Customers

Our next big jump in growth came when I started doing live sales on Instagram. (If you’re not familiar, it’s basically like watching QVC on your phone.) I had noticed some other makers doing these, and it seemed like a craft fair but without the cost and need to transport products, and with a larger reach. At that point I had about 10-15K followers, and made $2,500 in three hours in our first sale. I was blown away, and I had fun doing it. It was just me blabbing for a few hours: Showing off the products we had for sale, talking about how I might use them in rituals, answering questions, and just showing off my personality.

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A post shared by WITCH’S WAY CRAFT MAGICK SHOP (@witchswaycraft)

I started doing these once every week or two, and they became a staple of our customers’ schedules. People would come and just have a good time, invite their friends to join and hear my antics. During the pandemic it became a sort of social hour for everyone that allowed people to not only connect with the product, but for us all to connect with each other. Later, when I would see orders come in, I would recognize the name and be able to follow up about something personal they mentioned during the live.

Common business advice often says not to let your business be personal, but it was by getting personal through these live sales that I was able to grow our business to new heights. We still do live sales regularly and, with over 75K followers today, they are a meaningful part of our sales and marketing strategy. (All with no cost to us except our time and making sure we have plenty of product in stock.)

To be clear, we are not millionaires. We are still growing, and much of the money we make is still going straight back into the business, meaning we have to be scrappy to this day. We’ve bribed friends with wine and Netflix to come over and help us pack boxes or asked grocery stores for their old promotional flyers to use for packaging. It was clear to me early on that nobody was going to do the hard work for me unless I could afford to pay them, so I had to do it myself to build my business on a budget.

And, as impressive as this success story may seem, I do think we could have grown faster. I was afraid of pricing things as high as I could have (as high as my competitors were), because I didn’t want to seem greedy, but ultimately that hurt our margins and held us back.

But it was never just about money for me. I went in wanting to make enough to support myself and my husband, and to do it without hating my job. Now, I get to make and sell products I love, surrounded by customers I love, and with the person I love. And that’s something I can’t wait to keep building.

- Tamilore Oladipo
Creator Productivity: Practical Advice for Improving It
Creator Productivity: Practical Advice for Improving It

Content creation may look easy from the outside, especially if you don’t know much about what goes on behind the scenes. But following the recommendations of different platforms can take a toll on creators. For context, some of the recommended posting schedules for the most popular social media platforms include:

One to four times a day on TikTokTwo times a day on InstagramThree times a day on TwitterTwo times a day on FacebookOnce a day on LinkedIn

Added up, that’s 10-13 posts per day, and if you do that every day of the week, that’s 70 to 91 posts per week and over 250 posts a month.

📣Check out How Often Should You Post on Social Media? for more information.

These factors might change depending on different factors like your audience, type of content, and whether you count Stories, Reels, and Posts when talking about Instagram. But the recommendations are made for a reason – they encourage growth. In this article, we’ll dive into some of our (and other creators’) top recommendations for boosting productivity so you can effectively grow your social media accounts.

Automate or outsource wherever possible

When it comes to reducing the amount of work you have to do, you may try strategies like crossposting and content batching. But as Social Proof interviewee Shaan Puri said, “Content is a bit of a treadmill – you have to keep doing it.”

Although you can’t force productivity onto creativity, you can improve other parts of the process of publishing your content. This is where automation or outsourcing comes into play.

Automation comes in different forms. Whether you use the Notes app to document ideas as they come for later sorting or set aside time to create and input all of your content into a publisher (Buffer comes to mind). In addition to automatic posting, some other tasks you can automate or outsource include:

Content calendar creationCompetitor analysisMeeting schedulingEmail managementContent promotion

You might be worried about rumors that auto-posting content hurts your reach, but we’ve already debunked that for you (short reason: automation = improved consistency = improved engagement).

Or, your worries might be more concerned with the investment that is often required when adopting external tools to support your content, think about it this way: automating your content process frees up time for you to go the extra mile. Would you rather handle everything manually, leaving little time for the creative work that is your bread and butter? Or do you want as much as possible taken off your hands so you can come up with the best ideas?

Would you rather handle everything manually, leaving little time for the creative work that is your bread and butter? Or do you want as much as possible taken off your hands so you can come up with the best ideas?

Writer Anna B. Yang publishes across multiple platforms and mediums, from newsletters to LinkedIn, and she has this to say about automation: “I automate as much as possible, such as scheduling my social media with Buffer and using Zapier for redundant tasks. I also repurpose my own content, turning a long-form article into a LinkedIn post and a few tweets. Between scheduling, automation, and repurposing, I can focus more time and energy on new creative work."

Outsourcing is another, slightly more expensive option that can free up a ton of time – if you choose the right people to work with. Founder of HerFirst100k, Tori Dunlap, is a proponent of outsourcing, saying, “I hired somebody before I even taking my business full time, and I wish we [female entrepreneurs] talked more about this. We think we have to do it all ourselves – you do not. And it's actually a dumb business decision to try. Get people who have the time, expertise, and ability to do all of the things that you can't do. We've really tried to, like, outsource everything that doesn't absolutely need me.”

Someone else can write an email, someone else can manage a calendar, and somebody else can grow an email funnel.

You may not be able to outsource everything, and Tori acknowledges this. “I can't outsource somebody to come on, and act like me, host the podcast or speak in place of me. But someone else can write an email, someone else can manage a calendar, and somebody else can grow an email funnel.”

Outsourcing, in addition to automation (Tori shouts out Buffer as a reliable resource for the HerFirst100k team), has helped the brand grow into a multimillion-dollar company with a massive social platform reaching millions of people.

In PracticeUse the tools and people around you to free up valuable headspace for creativityIf you’re worried about cost, consider automation and outsourcing investments that can help you grow your platformFocus on the platforms and formats you enjoy – not what everyone else is doing

As Social Proof alum Jack Appleby said, “The best way to think about productivity for a creator comes down to what your best skill set is and what skill set you enjoy using the most.” Jack is a Creator at Morning Brew, writing Future Social. He’s also growing a massive social media following, with 52,700 followers on Twitter and 9,667 on TikTok. He’s the classic example of experimentation.

You might be like Jack having fun experimenting with different formats. “I'm trying all sorts of content right now I am starting YouTube videos, making TikToks. I’ve written long and short form articles – I’m trying every version of content right now.” However, you can’t be good at everything. In the long term, you’ll have to settle on one or two, and Jack agrees.

What's most important is understanding which skill sets you have, and which ones are most valuable for you. When people want to start creating content, they think about the platform before they think about themselves

“What I'm seeing is that I'm just not as good at as certain pieces of content as other things, I might be interested in them. But do they earn much value for me or Morning Brew? This is a question I have to ask myself with every piece of content I make.” And you shouldn’t think about this question from the angle of which platform is creating more value for you – but rather where your skill sets shine.

“I think what's most important is understanding which skill sets you have, and which ones are most valuable for you. When people want to start creating content, they think about the platform before they think about themselves. I’m more of a writer so I'm gonna be better at Twitter than I am on Instagram or TikTok.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your hands at different platforms and try to improve your skills. But a great way to boost your productivity is determining which platforms and content types will make the most use of your time and talents and figuring out how to connect that with your interests.

In PracticeDon’t be afraid to experiment with different formats and platforms till you find what works for youBe intentional about what you want each platform to add to your creative journey – if something isn’t serving you, let it goAdopt a strategy to improve your focus

Creators are often battling with many things for attention. When you make creating your business or a big part of it, you become an entrepreneur, social media manager, video editor, and many other roles all in one. Even outsourcing and automation can only do so much – after all, you still have to create the content.

We all tend to procrastinate, and even factors like burnout can affect your level of productivity. One of the recurring recommendations from seasoned creators is adopting a method that helps you prioritize and focus on the different aspects of content creation.

Some people use tools like Asana or Trello to manage their tasks, and there is no shortage of “How to Use Notion” videos on YouTube. Others might prefer simpler methods of improving focus like using a to-do list (Shayla Price, creator of PrimoStats, is partial to pen and paper) or related apps like Todoist.

Methods for improving focus also abound – Matt Parkin, the creator of Mornings with Matt and LinkedIn influencer, mentioned the Eisenhower matrix as a preferred productivity method. “I'm a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix, which breaks down tasks into four quadrants, mapping the urgency and importance of each task. This lets me see which tasks I should prioritize, schedule for later, delegate, or not do at all.”

In PracticeUse a productivity framework to improve your focus. This Todoist quiz is a great place to start identifying frameworks that can work for you.Adopt tools that can help you organize and streamline your creative process, like writing in a notebook or using a productivity app like TodoistKeep your eye on the ball – content creation

Whatever approach to productivity you take, you should always remember the end goal: creating better content. If the many apps or methods you adopt become a distraction, then there’s no point in using them. However you choose to improve your productivity, remember that the goal is to free up time so you can go the extra mile with your creativity.

Check out the sister article to this piece, How to Avoid Burnout as a Creator, for more advice on making optimal improvements to your creative process.

- Umber Bhatti
How This Entrepreneur’s Experience as an Immigrant Shaped her Sri Lankan Tea Brand
How This Entrepreneur’s Experience as an Immigrant Shaped her Sri Lankan Tea Brand

Sajani Amarasiri is a total natural at being a small business owner. Her tea company, Kola Goodies, has experienced fast growth in the two years since its inception. The brand’s Sri Lankan tea blends are already selling in brick-and-mortar stores, they’ve landed a partnership with a huge Boba chain, and they’re currently in the works of expanding their product line. This success won’t be surprising to anyone familiar with Sajani’s background.

“My parents are entrepreneurs — small business owners,” Sajani said. “So for a long time, I didn't realize that was the only reference I had for a career… so corporate was not the dream. I always thought I would do something on my own.”

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A post shared by Boba Guys (@bobaguys)

But, the road to paving her own company took some time. After moving to the United States from Sri Lanka for college, Sajani decided to go into the tech field not because that was her dream career, but because it was the most realistic option for her – a survival mechanism as an immigrant. She ended up working at Amazon and then made the move to Microsoft where the company sponsored her work visa.

It turns out, that Sajani actually enjoyed working in tech. Her job specifically focused on hardware supply chain, which would prove to be useful once she made the switch to running a business. And, despite the long hours, Sajani didn’t let her day job take up all of her time. She always had side hustles like starting an online clothing store. Eventually, she decided to tackle an even bigger project and managed to open up the first ever co-working space in Sri Lanka – Colombo Cooperative – which was entirely women-founded and funded.

But even that wasn’t enough for the Sri Lankan native. The itch to do something bigger and bolder was brewing inside of her. By connecting back to her roots and leveraging her distinct perspective as an immigrant, Sajani would go on to create a small business that embraces her Sri Lankan heritage.

A unique and multicultural perspective

A few years ago, Sajani noticed the wellness boom which promised health and vitality through holistic superfoods. Living in the Bay Area, Sajani was surrounded by this new health kick. It quickly became apparent that rituals and ingredients she grew up with in her Sri Lankan household – like turmeric and coconut oil – were blowing up in her new home.

And while it was nice to see parts of her culture being recognized, Sajani couldn’t help but feel like her upbringing was also being co-opted.

“[These ingredients] have been in our generational kitchens and families for 1,000s of years,” Sajani said. “But our stories weren't being told. That cultural appropriation was kind of crazy to witness being an immigrant.”

She realized that all of the tea brands that were selling turmeric drinks at the time were not owned by South Asian founders, despite the yellow spice originating in South Asia. With her background and expertise, Sajani knew she could develop an authentic, nutritious, and delicious turmeric drink. Even more so, she wanted to create a product that would seamlessly blend her two identities.

“You get to have this unique insight from a different cultural lens. Two homes …my home in America and my home where I grew up [in Sri Lanka],” Sajani said. “For me, it was like, ‘how do I create value addition from that perspective, in a way that gives back to both the places where I come from?”

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A post shared by Superfood & Wellness Goodies (@kolagoodies)

In fact, Sajani named the company after a popular Sri Lanka drink “Kola Kanda,” which is made from raw rice, coconut milk, and herbal leaves that are said to have medicinal properties. This was a drink she grew up with and has particularly fond memories of.

“It’s a deeply popular, very Sri Lankan breakfast tea that is so good for you. It's filled with greens, it's warming, and it's great for your digestion and energy,” Sajani said.

In 2020, she launched a minimum viable product of their first blend, the super green latte, which includes turmeric. Through this testing process, Sajani received tons of feedback and learned what consumers wanted.

This laid down the framework for Kola Goodies. Now, two years later, the company just launched their third product – a dairy-free oat milk latte. While Kola Goodies has seen a lot of success, Sajani has had to alter her vision a couple of times along the way.

Finding your why and sticking to it

Sajani credits her success as an entrepreneur to one main thing: knowing her why. Even when she’s faced obstacles in her businesses, she’s been able to connect back to her end goal which has always pushed her forward.

“I think one of the biggest things is having your ‘why’ very clear as to, ‘why you’re starting this?’ And, ‘what’s the vision behind it?’” Sajani said. “Because it’s not easy to go through every day pushing a small business to be successful. But having that why… will always help you get through it.”

For Sajani, her main purpose has always been to raise more awareness of Sri Lankan culture and amplify the voices of the Sri Lankan community. So, even though it was difficult for the entrepreneur to close down Colomba Cooperative a year into the pandemic, she was still proud of the experience because she knew she'd achieved her goal. The co-working space was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and brought people together, making the community stronger.

Similarly, early into Kola Goodies Sajani had found that she needed to pivot with the kinds of teas they were producing.

“When we first started, we were more focused on the superfood drinks, like Moringa, and turmeric latte,” Sajani said. “But then, we wanted to have more culturally inspired products that we’re bringing to life supporting our own farmers, and that were going to bring our culture forward in modern ways.”

Rather than just focusing on strictly healthy drinks like their Super Green Latte, Sajani was able to expand the product line to add the Sri Lankan Milk Tea, which is currently their best-selling product. Expanding to provide milk tea also made it possible for one of Kola Goodie’s biggest partnerships.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Superfood & Wellness Goodies (@kolagoodies)

Boba Guys – a well-known milk tea chain in California and New York – had an accelerator program for minority founders and ended up loving Kola Goodie's tea blends so much, that the two businesses collaborated to launch a turmeric boba milk tea. Not only did this venture provide more exposure for Kola Goodies, but for Sajani, it was another way to bring in more diversity in the beverage space.

“It’s one thing to see golden [turmeric] milk boba available at such a big chain,” she said. “But it’s such an amazing collaboration to see East Asian culture and South Asian culture coming together in a drink.”

Working closely with the Sri Lankan Community

Ushering in more representation for the Sri Lankan culture has always been a goal for Sajani. But more importantly, she wanted to directly help her fellow Sri Lankans. This is why Kola Goodies directly sources their ingredients from local farmers, despite it not being the most practical route.

“I am going to use that extra time and resources to find the [Sri Lankan] farmers to be able to support them because that directly correlates to my why. And it makes sense because that's a value framework that I have for all the decisions that I make,” she said.

Not only does this lead to the freshest and most authentic ingredients, but it also allows Sajani to pay these farmers in USD and provide them with a more stable income. Currently, Sri Lanka is facing a political and economic crisis and Sajani has used her platform as a small business owner to educate her customers about the situation. She’s also raised money for Sri Lankan organizations and donated hundreds of meals directly to those in need.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Superfood & Wellness Goodies (@kolagoodies)

Being able to give back to her hometown means a lot to Sajani. And the entrepreneur said she has one person who deserves the credit for making it all possible – her mother. Kola Goodies’s slogan, “Got it from my amma,” is a direct shoutout to her contributions. If it wasn’t for their morning rituals in the kitchen, Sajani said she may never have been inspired to open up a Sri Lankan tea business.

“[My mom] is such a cornerstone, because if she didn't take the time to make the things that nourished us, that became a huge part of my day-to-day growing up, then well, I wouldn't even have an inspiration point to bring a super green latte or Sri Lankan tea,” she said. “That was all her.”

The entrepreneur has come a long way from drinking Kola Kanda at home as a child with her family in Sri Lanka. By merging all of her idiosyncrasies– her distinct background, her experience in tech, and her drive to empower her community – Sajani has created something special. Kola Goodies is one of the brands bringing much-needed representation to cultures that don’t normally get a spotlight.

“The fact that there is Sri Lankan milk tea in a San Francisco supermarket is huge from a cultural point of view,” Sajani said. “[Sri Lanka] is such a small country. We are very much not represented, even when it comes into the South Asian dialogue. So it's amazing to just see yourself on a shelf when you're walking down the grocery store.”

- Tamilore Oladipo
How to Avoid Burnout as a Creator
How to Avoid Burnout as a Creator

In 2018, YouTuber Elle Mills posted a video detailing how burnout had impacted her ability to share content with her millions of YouTube subscribers. Since then, it’s become common to see videos, tweets, and posts announcing a break due to burnout.

Burnout is quite severe — 61 percent of creators are facing burnout, according to ConvertKit’s 2022 State of the Creator Economy report. Its effects and consequences vary, but with studies showing that it can take up to three years to recover from burnout, it’s not something anyone should risk.

So whatever your reasons are for creating content, whether to grow a personal brand or build an influencer empire, it’s vital to develop systems for avoiding burnout. How? In this article, we hope to provide an answer to that question. We’ll help you identify signs of burnout and share advice from creators like Jack Appleby and Tori Dunlap on avoiding it entirely.

How can you identify creator burnout?

Burnout manifests in different ways and for various reasons. However, the results are usually the same – you lose the motivation for creative output. To prevent it, you must understand what may be happening in your daily routine that might lead you to burnout. Some reasons you may experience burnout, according to ConvertKit’s report, include:

Feeling pressure to post consistently and everywhere: There are so many different platforms, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling the need to be everywhere all the time. But that may not be efficient. Experts often refer to niching down to a particular topic, industry, or platform as the best way to make the most of your creative efforts. Of course, leave room for experimentation, but once you know which platforms work best for you and your audience, be confident in your decision to adopt one or stay away.Content fatigue: Running out of ideas – and a lack of motivation to find new ones – is one of the clearest signs that you’re burned out. And sticking it out won’t do you or your audience any favors because the perceived value you provide may no longer shine through in your work.Comparisons to other creators: It’s commonplace for people to compare themselves to what they see fellow creators doing. But this is never helpful, especially when you only have insights from what they share online. The creative journey is a sprint and rarely has a definite end – growth will happen to everyone even if the paces differ.Unable to mentally disengage: The Internet has become omnipresent, making it difficult to disengage even for people who haven’t made it their job to post online. The need to leave your work where it is cannot be overstated – and if you feel like you can’t take a break, you may be on the verge of burnout.Physical manifestations: Burnout can exacerbate or lead to anxiety and even depression. If creating and publishing content – or even just the idea – has physical consequences, you may be burned out.

A contributor to this New York Times article about burnout said, “I feel like social media is built to burn people out.” But social media is ultimately just a tool – how you wield it matters more than what it is. Armed with the knowledge of how it can be harmful, you must adopt habits and create systems to avoid or overcome burnout.

Tips from creators on avoiding (or overcoming) burnout

Taking steps to prevent burnout is far more important than fighting burnout when it hits. Here’s what these creators do to avoid burnout.

Set aside time for “life” through boundaries

First and foremost on the journey to avoiding burnout is setting proper boundaries. This helps you find and maintain a balance between what is work and what isn’t. Treat your work like you would a job and create space for separate activities.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Tori Dunlap, founder of HerFirst100k is no stranger to struggling with productivity. As the face of her brand, she often finds herself unable to separate work and life. She says, “I'm [honestly] still working on [avoiding burnout]. I'm navigating it because I care so much [about my work] – it feels like my child that I need to take care of constantly.”

Still, Tori has found ways to disconnect. On how she avoids burnout, Tori says, “I find being present with people that I love is really helpful for me. I love opportunities where I can forget about work because, honestly, they're few and far between.”

📣Action: Take time to be present with the people you love.Learn to be choosy when it comes to what you create – and where you do it

You can’t be on every platform, and we highlighted the pressure that creators might feel as a potential identifier for burnout. An addendum to that is that you can’t create everything, at least not simultaneously. It’s really difficult – at least without support – to be creating long-form content for YouTube, then chopping it up for TikToks or Instagram Reels and running a blog.

📣Action: Be selective with which shiny new platforms you choose to join – and audit the existing ones you work with already.

Blogger at Buffalo Sauce Everywhere, Renata Leo, says, “Primarily, you learn to be very choosy with what you create. I would love to take on one million projects at one time, but that’s not realistic and will lead to burnout very quickly. Use self-awareness to recognize which opportunities will bring you joy and not leave you burnt out.”

Take frequent breaks

One of the best parts about being a creator is choosing your hours. This means you decide when to clock in or out and aren’t tied to a nine-to-five schedule. Take advantage of that by disconnecting as frequently as possible.

Jack Appleby, Creator at Morning Brew, in addition to his consistent publishing on Twitter and LinkedIn, shares some timely advice. “Something I am playing around with a lot is when I am doing my work and how I am doing my work. If there's a day where I'm just not feeling creative, or I'm not finding it me to write, I disconnect, turn on a movie in the middle of the day, and then revisit [my work] later at night. Because as long as I deliver my newsletter, they don't care when I write it as long as it's turned in on time.”

Avoid making work for yourself and allow rest so you can always do your best creative work. Matt Parkin, the creator of Mornings with Matt and LinkedIn personality, says, “I used to see empty space in my calendar and strive to fill it with more calendar events. The truth is, you can be even more productive by not filling your entire calendar and taking breaks when you need them. As a creator, there's always more you can be doing, whether it be creating new content, sourcing clients or collaborations, or interacting more with your community. Remember to set boundaries and know that most things can wait until tomorrow, so don't lose sleep trying to get everything done today.”

💡Some practical ways to take a breakFive-minute meditations you can do at workTake a short walk around your officeStretch at your deskJot down a gratitude listSchedule time to take a break on your calendarGive yourself wiggle room

Creativity isn’t a tap you can turn on and off – you might have days when you just can’t produce anything. Writer Anna B. Yang has an extensive and impressive track record, published on sites like Webflow in addition to her newsletter. She says, "Because I can't "force" creativity, I give myself some wiggle room. If things don't go as planned, have some time built in to catch up.”

Consider time-blocking for creative work. Anna shares that she already knows how much creative work she can handle on any given day and reserves a block of time (about one and a half to two hours) for her deepest, most focused work. She adds that she also alternates days that require more intensive creative effort with a bit easier work.

“The longer I've been immersed in creative work, the more forgiving I've become. I used to get so frustrated if I couldn't accomplish all the creative work I had planned. Now I realize that if I keep pushing myself too hard, I'll no longer enjoy the work. I've gotten better about pacing myself."

📣Action: Be kinder to yourself when the creativity is just not thereFind a system for productivity that works

Productivity is measured and looks different for everyone. But finding a system that works for you is vital. Consider the factors that might affect your creative output, like your audience, platforms, or content type, and work out a system for producing consistent content.

Shayla Price, the creator of PrimoStats – a searchable database of curated marketing statistics, shared her system for productivity. She says, “I divide my tasks into multiple sub-tasks across several days. This method helps me avoid procrastination and the need to rush through my tasks. So, if I need to write a blog post, I'll draft a paragraph a day or focus on a specific section. It takes me longer to finish the task. However, the consistency ensures that I actually finish the task.”

💡Ways to start creating a system for productivityUse popular methods of breaking up your focus like the Pomodoro technique or time blockingTry out coworking with other people on platforms like Flow Club and Workfrom for accountabilityAutomate wherever you can to leave space for creativity

Part of avoiding burnout involves creating systems to manage the work that can happen automatically. Tools like Buffer or Zapier are made specifically to help reduce the need to spread your attention and workload too thin. Invest in tools that help you automate tasks to leave time for other endeavors.

🛠️Get started with Buffer today.

- Tamilore Oladipo
Social Proof: Shaan Puri on Curating First Impressions
Social Proof: Shaan Puri on Curating First Impressions

Four installments into Social Proof, and we’ve landed a powerhouse interviewee. Shaan Puri is a multi-hyphenate entrepreneur, investor, and creator with platforms that reach millions of people every day.

From his two newsletters, one personal and the other called The Milk Road talking about crypto, to his audience of over 300,000 people on Twitter, to his popular My First Million podcast, Shaan’s creative output is fascinating. And his platforms are just a side hustle – he also sold his startup, Bebo, to Twitch and now runs a rolling fund investing in other startups.

In this interview, discover how Shaan has grown and leveraged his personal brand, as well as an interesting exercise in personal branding that everyone should try.

🖊️This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me for Social Proof Shaan! We’re starting with a two-for-one question: What do you think about personal branding, and would you call what you have a personal brand?

The way I think about it is: I’m just trying to put myself out there. It’s like when you’re in a car and have the music so loud that other people can hear it from their cars. Whatever I am, I want it to be loud enough that if somebody hears it and they like that song, they'll start nodding along.

Social Proof: Shaan Puri on Curating First Impressions

My goal is that by putting my thoughts, ideas, and personality out there, I will attract like-minded people who enjoy those thoughts and have similar ones to share. It’s just my way of attracting like-minded people to me.

Q: And when did you start this process of attracting like-minded people?

I started when I was first interviewing for a job. I asked myself, “what am I trying to do in this interview?”

Ultimately, I wanted to walk in and leave an impression on whoever I was meeting. And that's a brand, right? That's what a brand does – Nike and McDonald’s want you to know something about them. They want it to be memorable, and they want it to be favorable. So I thought that, instead of preparing answers to their questions, I should consider what I wanted them to know and remember about me.

I was interviewing with two companies that day – Stripe and an idea lab called Monkey Inferno. And I decided that when they discussed me, they’d all say, “He’s really ‘blank’, ‘blank’ and ‘blank’.” I thought carefully about what words should go in those blanks, which is how I worked backward from figuring out my brand.

Q: I like that you mentioned the words because that ties in nicely to my next question: what three words would you use to describe your personal brand?

Going back to my interview prep story, I remember writing: I want them to know that I'm

Bold aka I take actionFun/Funny, i.e., someone they would want around the officeClever so that I might not be the smartest person in the room, but I could always think of creative ways to win.

Naturally, a lot has changed since I first did this exercise, and my preferred last word is: Successful because I find that people want to do business with people who are already successful.

Social Proof: Shaan Puri on Curating First ImpressionsShaan Puri's pillar branding exercise

And I used what I call a “pillar branding exercise,” where I draw out pillars – similar to those at the front of the White House. This is meant to help visualize the pillars that hold up my brand. At the top of each pillar, I wrote bold, funny, and clever.

Putting it into action was a bit different. I couldn’t just come out and tell [the interviewers] I'm bold because nobody would believe that. What I needed to do was tell them stories about things that I've done that would lead them to have only one conclusion about me: he’s pretty bold, or he takes action. To facilitate that, I started pulling stories from things I've done that would support that pillar. And I would fill [the pillar] out.

And for some of the pillars, I had more stories than others, which helped me realize that even though I wanted to be perceived a certain way, I hadn’t taken enough action in that direction. So this exercise was also a note to try more things I wanted to be part of my brand. It became more than just a branding exercise – more of a roadmap for how I wanted to approach life.

There's also one last piece of the puzzle that you can also add as a pillar which is what you are not. I want people to say, “He is not blank.” I would say the words to fill up the space here are: fake and robotic. I don’t want to come off as either when interacting with someone.

Q: You do many things – podcasts, newsletters, posting regularly on Twitter, launching a course. Which of these has been your favorite medium of expression? Which one do you think is the most effective for your brand? And how do you balance doing all these things at the same time?

I think they all go together. You asked a question about time, and many things you mentioned are what I do in my spare time – work is occupied by the two businesses I run. This is why I don’t buy the excuse of time – a lot of these activities are passion projects, things I enjoy doing. They don’t feel like work to me.

In terms of value, I think the most valuable content medium for me has been the podcast, but they all go together. It’s like a funnel – at the top is where people discover you, and that discovery tends to be through Twitter for me. I grew my Twitter in the last year from maybe 20,000 followers to 300,000 followers. And I did that because I wanted people to have an easy, lightweight touchpoint.

And there would be people who wanted to go a bit further down the funnel, which leads them to my newsletter. So beyond the shorter-form Twitter content, I could also be in my audience’s inbox and share more in-depth thoughts.

Anyone that wanted to go further can then be led to the bottom of the funnel through my podcast, where you hear my voice, tone, and inflection. It’s the closest I get to my audience and where I can build the most trust. If I’m in your ears 50 hours a year, that’s more than you talk to most people. So it helps build a very valuable relationship with people.

Q: What three tactics would you recommend people try when figuring out which vehicles they can use to build their brands?

I would say don't do it if you're just trying to build a brand. Because then you've just created work for yourself. And honestly, if you're going to work that hard on it, you might as well build a business or work at a job. The way I look at it is I want the projects I do to be what I already enjoy.

I suggest you find what type of content you like to create, whether interviewing people or curating stuff for your feed. Whatever it is, just do what's fun and natural for you. And the byproduct will be your brand getting built. You can do some things along the way to go a little faster or be more intentional about it, but the more important part is finding what you enjoy.

And even if no brand got built out of it, it would still be worth it. For example, my podcast is valuable because it gets about 20 million downloads a year. But when I started, I didn't plan for people to listen – I thought that was very unlikely. I was more interested in having interviews and conversations with interesting people. Sure, some people might listen to it, but that wasn't my reason for doing it. And that's why I stuck with it.

Most people have some external goal like fame or money for starting creative projects. And when they don’t immediately see results, they get discouraged and give up. The people who win are the people who do it because it's fun for them. The act of doing it is the reward – they don't need the other stuff, and therefore the other stuff comes because they keep going.

And one more note: people can tell if you're having fun with your content because you're nerding out about this topic that you love. That is also what makes content pop.

Q: You tweeted recently that everything you’ve done, no matter how random, has worked out and contributed to your success. Which of your projects was the turning point for you? When did you realize, “Yeah this is working?”

the last 2 years, I executed the basic fuqboi playbook: *built a startup incubator*have a podcast*launched a rolling fund*started a DTC brand w/ lowercase font*did viral threads to get big on TWTR*sold a course*built a popular crypto newsletter& it worked flawlessly

— Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP) July 20, 2022

I have a philosophy: the people who are my customers are those that love what I do. If I love what I do, then the right people will find it because it'll resonate with them the same way it's resonating with me. So the first sign of success is just liking your own work. Most people fail at that, either because they're way too harsh on their work, or they're trying to please other people, and they don't even like what they make. And that's a recipe for failure, in my opinion.

And second, before the numbers get big, you'll start to get emails or comments that will keep you going. And it's amazing. You can have five comments on a YouTube video that keep you motivated for a year because you’re assured that somebody somewhere really likes this thing. I know, I'm not crazy, this thing does work.

Q: Interesting. You mentioned in an interview with Sacra that you were able to raise funds from the people who had engaged with your content and built a relationship with you. What has been the biggest reward from publishing content for you?

Some background here is that we have a rolling fund that lets other people invest alongside me in the startups I invest in. I have a good network and experience with angel investing, so other people who live outside the US, or don’t have the network or time, can choose to invest in this rolling fund. But the creation and growth of the fund wasn’t something I would have predicted going in – it was a byproduct of doing the work.

The podcast and my Twitter account had started getting popular. Then I tweeted, “Hey, I'm going to raise a rolling fund, and I want to raise a million dollars from people on Twitter, and I'm going to take no meetings,” doing it as a challenge to myself. And we hit that goal in like two days. And then it just kept going.

Social Proof: Shaan Puri on Curating First ImpressionsSource

Now, the fund invests between eight to ten million a year across the startups we work with. To this day, I think I've taken maybe one meeting with someone to explain what we do – the whole thing has been driven mostly by people who already listened to me and trusted me.

These are not people I've met in real life, but they've been listening to the podcasts and following me on Twitter for a while. And they felt enough conviction to be able to invest in the fund.

Seeing that conviction come through, especially because people were giving me their money, was the signal that building a personal brand and consistently putting out content really builds trust.

Q: It’s amazing that you could get to that point with two consistent content formats – and your years of experience, of course. I have a chicken or egg question for you. Did publicizing your projects lead to you publishing on social media? Or did you get the ideas for your projects after publishing consistently on social media?

I started making content because I thought it'd be fun and I’d be good at it. And I had more time because I had sold my company – that's when I started.

Q: And which of your efforts, whether it be the podcast or Twitter has led to the opportunity you consider the most valuable?

I wrote a thread about Clubhouse when it was really popular. Everybody thought it was the next big thing and I kind of read a thread saying, “Hey, I don't think so. And here's how I think it's gonna play out.”

So... everyone seems to think clubhouse is the "next big thing" - but I think it's going to fail. Here's how I think it all goes down..

— Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP) March 16, 2021

And it went viral – 10 million plus people read that thread – which led to a bunch of really interesting people emailing or DMing me saying, “Wow, this is great, we love the way you think, we'd love to get to know you.”

A similar tweet and result was one I did on the metaverse, essentially saying, “People think about the metaverse one way, here's how I think about it differently.”

Hot take: Everyone is wrong about the Metaverse. here's my 3 part theory..

— Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP) October 29, 2021

That also reached many people, and Mark Zuckerberg referenced it and mentioned that it influenced the way he thinks about the metaverse.

I'm not saying I'm a geniusOr that Mark Zuckerberg reads my tweets. But I am, and he does. checkout this clip from @lexfridman pod with Zuck. He talks about the metaverse thread I wrote. he mispronounces my name, but I'll let it slide. Easy to mixup "shaan" and "someone" pic.twitter.com/3SBf26nhLV

— Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP) March 1, 2022

Q: What would you tell your past self about building your personal brand if you were starting from scratch?

I would say, “Hey, what you're hoping will happen will happen.”

But if I was going to do it differently, I might just niche down a little more.

Currently, I'm pretty broad – I have The Milk Road, which talks about crypto, and I have Twitter, where I talk about whatever. Then there’s my personal newsletter, curating tweets, and the My First Million podcast, which is more about business breakdowns and ideas. So quite spread out.

But if I really focused on one of those areas, I think I could become maybe the most well-known person in that branch in that niche, but I didn't do that. So I think that would be the only improvement that I would suggest to myself.

Q: What are some downsides you've experienced in your journey as a creator?

To be honest, not many. The content is a bit of a treadmill – you have to keep doing it. It's unlike software where you make it once, and people just use it daily. I think that's probably the biggest downside – you can’t automate creativity. Another thing is the more popular you get, the more people will say mean things to you online. So you have to be able to not worry about that too much.

Takeaways

What I love most about this interview is how actionable it is. Shaan’s passion for the projects he takes on has led him to some amazing opportunities – here are some of the biggest takeaways from our chat:

Take control of your narrative: Without prompting, Shaan mentioned the three-word exercise that has become commonplace in Social Proof interviews, framing it as “pillar branding.” Using the pillar-branding exercise is a creative way to visualize what you want other people to get out of their interactions with your online persona. Let us know on Twitter if you’d like a templatized version of the pillar branding template.Do things that match up with how you want to be perceived: When describing the pillar branding exercise, Shaan also mentioned that he thought a certain way about himself but didn’t have enough stories or “evidence” to back that thinking. This shows that it’s vital that you not only think about how you want to be perceived but also take actions that correlate with that perception. Want to be seen as knowledgeable about social media? Experiment with different platforms and tactics with your accounts.Leverage your reputation: Crafting and eventually benefitting from your online persona is something that has come up in previous interviews, but Shaan’s use of his reputation is quite interesting. You may not be raising millions of dollars for an investment fund, but the work you’ve put into growing your online presence should not be siloed. Take advantage of the connections you make to get the opportunities you need.Pick mediums and niches that you enjoy: Whether it’s through writing or speaking, Shaan has found his preferred methods of getting his thoughts out there. You can’t be everywhere or talk about everything, but prioritize finding and settling on your preferred personal branding medium first. This can help pave the way for you to discover what you want to be known for (your niche) and focus on creativity

💡Shaan says it best: you can’t automate creativity. What you can automate is how you put your creative work out there – and that’s where Buffer can support you. Take advantage of our stacked Freemium tier to build a habit of consistency and help maximize your creativity.

Get started now.

- Sadie Williamson, Williamson Fintech Consulting
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Waiting for the metaverse? The revolution is already here
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Report: 94% of women in tech say they’re held to a higher standard than men
Businesswomen shaking hands over the table at the officeDespite efforts from various tech organizations, is enough being done to shatter the glass ceiling and create equality for women in tech?Read More
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Report: 85% of employees want a hybrid work model
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Report: 54% of security pros want to quit their jobs
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Citizen developers are going to need a leader
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India’s Bombay Play raises $7M for instant mobile games
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Cyber Hollywood: Onscreen vs. reality
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Report: One in five customers won’t wait for a website error to be fixed
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Report: 95% of businesses have a customer success function
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Report: Employees spend 3.6 hours each day searching for info, increasing burnout
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- Campaign Monitor
5 SMS Marketing Examples Your Audience Actually Wants to Receive

SMS is an essential marketing channel for all kinds of businesses. But, it can be tricky to nail down what kind of message is appropriate for SMS, and what kind will annoy and drive away your customers. Read this post for five incredible SMS marketing examples of messages your audience actually wants to read.

Everyone likes getting gifts. But everyone also has that one weird family member. You know, the one who makes you ugly crocheted “fashion statements” for Christmas and gets you underwear for your birthday.

Usually, they have good intentions, but they’re probably unaware and out of touch with what people actually want. In short message service (SMS) marketing, many brands, unfortunately, become just like your Great Aunt Margaret. Someone told them that “Those hip young people like text messages,” and they started sending SMS marketing messages that are the equivalent of a crocheted necktie and tighty-whities.

According to Zendesk, the popularity of using SMS messaging to contact businesses grew by 75% in 2020. However, just like gift-giving, it’s key that you actually give people what they want when they start a text conversation with your brand.

For example, according to SimpleTexting, only 9% of consumers want to hear about your customer satisfaction survey via text. (Which, let’s be real, makes up like 99% of text messages people receive from businesses. Annoying much?) On the other hand, according to the same survey, 35% of consumers would love to get special offers or promotions via text.

Text message marketing can feel invasive and unwelcome if it’s not personalized and valuable to your audience. If you’re still not sure what consumers want to receive, you’re in luck. This guide covers five SMS marketing examples your audience actually wants to receive so you don’t become the marketing equivalent of Great Aunt Margaret. You’ll increase your conversions and your bottom line.

1. Event updates

It’s hard to beat text message marketing campaigns for timely updates you know your audience will see. Americans are constantly checking their phones — about 344 times a day, according to Reviews.org. And McKinsey reports SMS messages have the highest read rates out of any commercial messaging channel, with an open rate of 42%. This combination makes SMS text messages the ideal channel for time-sensitive event communication.

You can use SMS messages to hype event lineups, send ticket QR codes, provide attendees with session time updates, or even provide interactive content during the event.

For example, event attendees may opt in to receive messages, so they can be the first to hear who the headlining speaker is or receive a mobile ticket. And then, once they have opted in, you can notify them of important information via SMS throughout the conference, such as which conference space their sessions are in.

Example of an SMS message promoting an event.

Source

2. Special offers

According to SimpleTexting, 50% of consumers said they would be more likely to opt in to SMS messages from a business if they knew they would receive time-sensitive promotions. Through audience segmentation and marketing automation, marketing teams can personalize the promotions to each consumer, increasing the value and connection to the brand.

SMS marketing for special offers could be as simple as promoting flash sales or as specific as sending a discount code to a customer on their birthday. The key to maintaining the value for the consumer is to use it only for timely or personalized offers, rather than constantly bombarding them with texts.

Example of an SMS message promoting a special offer.

Source

 

3. Product launches

Consumers have the world at their fingertips with the internet. If you want your product to stand out from the beginning, you need a unique promotional mechanism. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, 77% of consumers view companies that offer texting more positively (not to mention those impressive read rates we mentioned previously). So, if you want all eyes eagerly on that new product launch, SMS is where you should start.

The timeliness of SMS provides brands with a chance to roll out their products in stages to increase the hype. For example, you should start a launch with a VIP and influencer early-access message before opening sales up to all customers.

Besides the timeliness of SMS, it also has the advantage of having very measurable outcomes. Campaign Monitor’s SMS reporting dashboard shows a comprehensive view of your launch campaigns, including audience responses to both email and SMS. Instead of guessing at interest levels in your new product or the success of your campaign, you can easily assess them at a glance.

Example of an SMS message announcing a new product

Source

 

4. Community building

SMS messages provide a unique opportunity to build brand affinity by personally connecting with your audience and creating a community around your brand. In this way, you can promote your brand without promoting your brand.

For example, you could send daily health tips or mindfulness prompts if you’re a wellness brand, or links to interactive brand content such as how-to videos and online communities. All of these things promote user-generated content, which 79% of users say highly impacts their purchase decisions, according to Stackla.

Example of an SMS message that builds community.

Source

 

5. Donation drives

People get bombarded with organizations asking them for donations. If it’s not the Boy Scout down the street, it’s the fundraiser in the mail or the grocery store clerk asking them to “round up for the cause.” So how do you break through the noise? SMS.

The key to using SMS for donation drives and fundraising is to craft a message that won’t be just banging cymbals in the cacophony of fundraising campaigns. Gone are the days of cold-calling telethons. Today, consumers expect personalized and timely communications. And that is where SMS shines.

For example, you can tailor each message to the individual donor with Campaign Monitor’s subscriber list upload feature and customizable fields. Segment your list by region, income range, age, or any other custom qualifier you choose. Personalize every message with the subscriber’s name for an added personal touch.

With SMS, you can respond within minutes to any community or worldwide crisis, giving people the opportunity to act as soon as the news breaks. You no longer have to wait for the mailer to reach their house weeks later or cross your fingers your social posts reach them. Hit your donor base when it’s still fresh and before they are bombarded with other organizations asking for donations.

Example of an SMS message asking for donations.

Source

 

Once you have your audience’s attention, it’s important that you give them an easily accessible and immediate way to give. Relying on dated payment options isn’t going to cut it anymore. When was the last time you wrote a check for anything? It’s probably been a while. According to the Federal Reserve, the use of checks and cash is decreasing dramatically YOY, and mobile payments are taking the place of most payments previously made via check or cash. In short, if you want people to donate to your campaign, you need to offer mobile payment options.

Graph showing how individuals make payments.

Source

Combining SMS and email marketing strategies

There’s no arguing the benefits of SMS marketing, but it has an even greater impact when used in combination with an email marketing strategy. Each serves your customers in a unique way and enhances the impact of the other. What they share in common is the ability to grow your customer base and your bottom line. If you want to learn more about how to use SMS marketing strategies in combination with email marketing, check out our guide.

The post 5 SMS Marketing Examples Your Audience Actually Wants to Receive appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
What Makes NYT’s “The Morning” Newsletter One of the Most Popular in the World

Let’s break down the secrets to success behind The New York Times’ The Morning, and what you can learn from it for your own newsletter.

Some people say newspapers are dead, but The New York Times (NYT) isn’t taking that lying down. It has maintained its classic brand and award-winning content while evolving its product to serve a digital audience. Besides its website that serves as a digital news source for its readers, it has curated one of the most popular daily email newsletters in the world. The newsletter, called The Morning, has garnered over 17 million subscribers.

So, how has The New York Times built a newsletter subscriber list over twice the population of New York City? It took the strengths of its centurial newspaper and adapted them to a new platform. It translated attention-grabbing headlines into subject lines. It adapted award-winning photojournalism into newsletter illustrations. And it turned renowned news stories into a newsletter its subscribers eagerly wait for each morning.

While your organization may not be an iconic newspaper, you can apply many of the same principles The New York Times has used to build your own successful newsletter. That is, a newsletter that is engaging and informative, keeps your readers coming back, and ultimately promotes your brand to a captivated audience.

1. Short, intriguing subject lines

Eye-catching newspaper headlines have been a long-standing tradition in the world of journalism, a skill The New York Times has leveraged in its email newsletter subject lines. The Morning features succinct subject lines with compelling descriptions you can’t help but want to open.

The Morning email subject lines are typically no more than four words following the title of the newsletter. They offer enough for the reader to know what the featured story is about but hold back the details, so the reader has to click to find the resolution.

Don’t worry — even if you don’t have harrowing war stories or political unrest to share in your newsletter, you can still curate eye-catching headlines. Start with determining a distinct perspective or value to share with your readers. From there, isolate the most essential concepts or words and think about the goals of your customer.

For example, if your value proposition is a 50% off sale on summer clothing, don’t just share a deadpan subject line that says, “we have a sale.” Instead, offer your customer the tangible and aspirational value of the sale in your subject line. For example, your subject line could be “50% Off Summer Fashion Statements!” This highlights the savings value as well as the goal they can attain by participating (making a fashion statement).

The New York Times uses short, impactful subject lines to get their message across.

Source. In this issue of The Morning, the subject line only uses two words (and an abbreviation) following the title of the newsletter. And yet, just those couple of words create a striking image in the mind of the reader.

 

2. Vivid imagery

The first thing you see when you open The Morning is an in-your-face graphic or image. Let’s just say The New York Times definitely takes advantage of its award-winning photojournalists and designers when it comes to producing its newsletter. The image immediately conjures an emotion, making the reader invested right from the start.

The opening graphic in your email newsletter is like the welcome mat to the narrative you create within. Make sure it invites your readers in and tells them what they can expect. Maybe it says, “groundbreaking news” or “innovative ideas.” Or maybe it says, “If you’re pizza, Amazon, or Ryan Gosling, I’m home” (our favorite).

The NYT uses vivid imagery to conjure emotion in their emails.

Source. The striking image of grieving loved ones puts a face to the opioid crisis, driving home the individual impact of the headline.

 

3. Clear sections and clean design

The Morning makes it clear what its readers can expect in each section with descriptive section headers and clear dividing lines. The simple black and white print is not only reminiscent of its newspaper roots but also makes its content easily legible.

So maybe a straightforward black-and-white design doesn’t fit your brand or audience but maintaining legibility is still key. This includes taking into account the 49% of users reading email on a mobile device. Are your emails optimized for mobile? Is your content skimmable? Is the contrast between the font and background stark enough that it’s easy to read?

The NYT uses clear sections so readers know what to expect morning by morning.

Source. Each The Morning newsletter opens with a header, the author’s name, and then the lead story, separated by a thick dividing line. Similarly, the rest of the newsletter is broken into sections by a thick black line and section title. The sections are divided by news, opinion pieces, books, Times Magazine content, and games, so the reader can easily skip to the sections that interest them the most.

 

4. Timely and comprehensive content

The Morning gives readers everything they need to carry on conversations about culture and world events. It features events that are happening currently but also provides resources to understand upcoming news-worthy topics. The newsletter also explores cultural moments in time such as food, literature, art, and entertainment.

Even if your business is not reporting the news, it’s worth taking a note from The New York Times when it comes to timeliness cultural relevance in your content. This might look like making sure your promotions are in line with current holidays, your event reminders give your audience enough notice to act, and your voice and tone are in line with cultural trends.

Readers rely on The Morning to get news that's relevant and comprehensive.

Source. The Morning features a headlining story each day that highlights a major current event before moving into the culture and entertainment sections. No need to wonder what everyone is talking about around the water cooler when you get The Morning every … well, morning.

 

5. Authoritative voice and tone

Even the most renowned newspapers in the world have to maintain authority and trust with their readership. Most major news organizations try to distance their journalists from their work to promote the idea of unbiased news. However, The New York Times takes a unique stance in its newsletter by having each one “hosted” by one of its renowned journalists. This builds a personal connection with the reader and establishes trust and credibility by having a respected name on the byline.

In addition to naming the writer, the content is written in a strong authoritative voice and tone. There are no qualifying statements or punches pulled; the writers take a clear stance in every issue.

You may not be a leader in political or cultural opinion, but you do have the opportunity to be an authoritative voice in your industry niche. Own your space, take a stance on industry practices or trends, and challenge the status quo. Make a statement your readers will not only remember you for but come back for.

The NYT writes in a way that demonstrates their knowledge and authority on a given topic.

Source. The New York Times is not above questioning even commonly held beliefs about “science.” No topic or entity is too big for it to address; journalists write with the authority of an organization that leads public opinion.

 

Create your iconic newsletter

You may not be The New York Times, but you can still create unforgettable newsletters that subscribers will come back for and share. Good newsletters can promote their email enough to build a list, but great newsletters will grow themselves. Get started creating yours today with our easy drag-and-drop templates that will make your newsletter stand out in the crowd.

The post What Makes NYT’s “The Morning” Newsletter One of the Most Popular in the World appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
How to Find the Best Time to Send an Email Newsletter to Your Audience

It’s the age-old debate of every email marketing conversation: “when is the best time to send an email newsletter?” The answer is — there isn’t one best time. Yes, you read that right. If you want to increase email engagement rates, it’s not as simple as picking a certain day or time.

Similar to Farmers Insurance, “we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two” when it comes to email marketing. Every year, we study over 100 billion emails to curate an annual report about email marketing trends and engagement. And do you know what we’ve found? The best time to send an email newsletter varies by industry, audience, and engagement goals. There is no one-size-fits-all time to send an email newsletter.

The core of email marketing engagement is a newsletter tailored to your product, brand, and target audience. To accomplish this, it’s essential to continually test, analyze, and optimize your email campaigns. What does this look like in real-time? Let’s dig in.

Test your emails

The foundation to perfecting email engagement is testing what works and doesn’t work for your audience in every aspect. This includes testing the time of day you send, subject lines, copy, graphics, and other key elements of the email.

Note that this may be different for each audience segment, product, and type of email (i.e., feature announcement vs. welcome email) you send. It may sound overwhelming to test so many things with multiple segments, but thankfully there’s a systematic way to approach email tests that will simplify uncovering trends: A/B testing.

1. Segment your email subscriber list

To segment your subscriber list, divide your email list into smaller lists according to key characteristics, such as demographic, business type, purchase behavior, or location. Segments will allow you to see what has the most impact on each brand audience as well as provide more targeted email marketing in the future.

Ideally, your email marketing platform should have a segmentation tool that will make it easy to do. Here’s how it works on Campaign Monitor’s platform.

2. Form a hypothesis

Once you have segmented lists, it’s time to form a hypothesis, or “educated guess,” just like you would in a scientific test. To develop your hypothesis, first pick a segment of your list to focus on, then pick a single element to test that’s key for that group.

For example, you may make an educated guess about what the outcome would be of changing the time you send welcome emails. Similar to setting a goal, your hypothesis should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound). In this case, your hypothesis could be “sending welcome emails within 10 minutes of a user joining will increase email open rates by 6% over the next three months with the new user segment.”

3. Split each segment into an “A” and “B” test group

Now that you’ve formed your hypothesis, split the subscriber segment in two: an “A” group for your control group and a “B” group for your test group.

Split the segment equally at random to ensure the results aren’t skewed one way or the other. The easiest way to achieve random group selection is to use an email service provider (ESP) that has built-in A/B testing.

Assess if each group is large enough to provide statistically significant results to ensure the most accurate data. If the groups are too small or not varied enough, the test will be prone to just reflect the results of randomness. Whereas a larger group will increase the accuracy of results by reducing the probability of randomness.

A statistically significant group is determined by a few factors and a lot of math. If you’re not a statistician or just don’t like doing math (because who does?), you can easily find the right size by using an A/B test calculator. A good starting size is usually at least 1,000 subscribers, but again, that can be lower or higher depending on the test and the subscriber list.

4. Create “A” and “B” test assets

To test a specific aspect of your email, create two variations of the same email with just that single element changed to reflect your hypothesis.

For example, create two identical welcome emails, but send one at the time you typically send your welcome emails and one at the time reflected in your hypothesis. Following the hypothesis example above: if you typically send your welcome emails two days after the user joins, send your control email at this time. Your test group email could be sent 10 minutes after the new user joins to test the effectiveness against your baseline results from your control group.

The only thing different between the two emails should be the time you sent them. If you were to test more than one element, it is called multivariate testing. For example, a multivariate test would be if you were testing both the time the email is sent and different subject line. You should only use multivariate testing when you are testing combinations of different elements. And it’s best to implement multivariate testing only after testing each individual element.

For example, after you test and find the most effective time to send your email, you can then combine it with winning subject lines to measure the combined impact. If you attempt to test all aspects of an email at the same time, it can be difficult to determine which is contributing positively or negatively to the overall outcome.

5. Run your test on a platform that can measure results

Now it’s finally time to hit play on your test. Make sure you send your email from an ESP that has a strong analytics dashboard so you can easily measure and assess the results. Remember to isolate all variables except the one you’re testing. So if you’re testing send times, don’t write different subject lines and send on different days of the week or different times of day. Include the same subject lines in both emails, and just change the time sent.

Analyze the data

Once you’ve run your test, it’s time to assess the outcomes and determine if your hypothesis was correct or not. When testing the hypothesis above, for example, look at open rates for each email segment to measure the impact of send time. Whichever group had the highest open rate would be the “winner.”

If you’re using an ESP that has built-in A/B testing, the platform should do most of the hard work for you. For example, in Campaign Monitor’s A/B test analytics dashboard, you can view graphs of your results and conversion values all at the same time. image.png

In addition to analyzing the results as they pertain to the individual test, assess the results in light of your overall email newsletter performance. This will allow you to gain further insights into the potential impact it could have on other email segments. For example, if a personalized subject line increased open rates with new customers, consider running the same test with other list segments.

Optimize based on the results

The data you gather and analyze will only go as far as you implement it. The key to long-term vitality is to implement the changes indicated by the test results as well as continuously iterate on them. Your audience’s needs change, your brand will likely evolve, and, as such, your email marketing campaigns need to adapt. To effectively adapt, A/B testing should be an ongoing practice.

Note that how you choose to optimize your email will have varying impacts. Therefore, it’s essential to set a clear primary goal before making changes to your email marketing. Our research has found that the best day and the perfect time to send an email is not only subjective to your industry but also to your goals.

For example, Mondays, on average, have the highest open rates, but Tuesdays have the highest click-through rate (CTR). So, if your goal is higher open rates, Monday may be a better day. But if a higher CTR is your goal, then a better bet would be Tuesday. All of this is subjective to your industry and audience, so it’s important to test this with your specific email list. image.png

It’s also important to tailor your changes to each audience segment because, again, email optimization is largely dependent on the audience. Sweeping, universal changes to your email marketing are typically less effective. They must be personalized and tailored to each audience segment’s needs to drive the greatest impact. In fact, according to research by Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with a brand that offers a personalized experience.

Uncover the data that will tell you the right time to send an email newsletter for your audience

Campaign Monitor is the email marketing platform built for real marketing professionals. Our email marketing analytics uncover the trends that a winning email marketing strategy is built on.

Discover the trends specific to your audience in your own Campaign Monitor dashboard. You won’t see any gimmicky email functions, cutesy monkeys, or best guesses here. Instead, you’ll get real-time data that gives you a clear direction on what your customers want and need. You won’t just find the best time to send them emails; you’ll discover what makes your audience convert.

The post How to Find the Best Time to Send an Email Newsletter to Your Audience appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor

Email newsletters often don’t bring immediate conversions or sales. They take significant time and resources to create. Is it even worth it to launch one?

Those in the know think so. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2021 B2C content marketing report found nearly 3 in 4 marketers use email newsletters. Among those who run at least two types of content marketing campaigns, 26% say newsletters are the most effective.

Email newsletters are an essential marketing tool for sharing information that goes beyond your products and services. People trust brands that fulfill the trifecta of strong products, a good customer experience, and support of social issues that align with their own. This trust leads to increased sales and loyalty, which is why newsletters are worth the investment.

The question isn’t whether it’s worth it to launch a newsletter; it’s whether you can afford to not have one. However, building a newsletter from scratch is no easy task. This post outlines everything you need to know about how to make an effective newsletter. It’s not just about writing, either — these tips cover everything you’ll need to go from initial idea to successful launch.

Phase 1: Set the groundwork before you start writing

Content creation and distribution are two separate operations, but you have to consider both at the same time. Set up everything you need to send your email beforehand to make a process you can easily replicate in the future.

Choose an email newsletter service

First things first: Don’t try to send your newsletter manually using Gmail, Outlook, or any other standard email service provider. Google Workspace limits senders to 500 external recipients (people outside your company) per message and 3,000 per day. It’s not a scalable solution, nor does it have important tools like email templates, segmentation capabilities, or analytics. You’ll run into similar restraints with any app that’s not dedicated to email campaigns.

Your email newsletter service should have an easy drag-and-drop editor, come with sign-up forms, and be built for collaboration so even a well-meaning blunderer like Michael Scott could get great results. Campaign Monitor offers all these features, plus automation, real-time analytics, and more, for a competitive price.

Make a strategy and set a schedule

The first step in planning an email newsletter is choosing a subject matter that’s both interesting to your audience and relevant to your company. You also need to decide when to send your newsletter. You don’t want to send too often (and annoy your subscribers) or too infrequently (and have them forget why they’re on your list). Just make sure your installments go out on a set schedule.

When it comes to timing your send, no one rule works for everyone. Campaign Monitor comes with testing capabilities and analytics that help you determine the best time to send to your customers. You can build off your existing email marketing strategy, and use practices you already know are successful.

Start building your subscriber list

A newsletter can only help your marketing efforts if people read it, which means you need subscribers before you start sending. You may already have customer emails from previous list-building campaigns. If you don’t, use these effective tactics to bring in new subscribers:

Incentivize sign-ups Run contests or sweepstakes Set up data capture forms and pop-ups on your site and landing pages Use social media (or other digital marketing techniques)

The easier you make it for people to subscribe to your newsletter, the more success you’ll have.

Don’t ever buy an email list to get more readers. Purchased subscribers are much more likely to flag your newsletter as spam and tank your deliverability.

Make sure you understand the laws

From CAN-SPAM to the GDPR and beyond, email marketing is regulated by multiple laws worldwide. Make sure you understand email legislation and follow it to the letter to avoid fines.

Some legal requirements, like getting consent from people before emailing them and including an unsubscribe link in every message, are common sense. Others require more technical knowledge. Campaign Monitor has tools to help you comply with major legislation like the GDPR.

Phase 2: Focus on strong content and design

The copy and design of your newsletter should work together to support its theme and reflect your brand identity. Your first newsletter needs to set the tone, as it will be a template for all future installments. Take the time upfront to make a process you can easily repeat.

There are a lot of decisions to make at this stage. You don’t have to make them all alone. Rely on the advice of experts who have been where you are.

Choose and customize an email newsletter template

Save time on your email design by using a free email template for newsletters. Choose one that works for the type of content you want to share and then customize it. Our email newsletter design tips can help anyone make a newsletter template look like their own.

If you get stuck during the newsletter process, try looking at our favorite resources for inspiration:

The Campaign Monitor email gallery Really Good Emails Milled Email Newsletter Examples Dribbble

Still having trouble? Try to find a different template that better fits your needs. This is frustrating, but it’s better to take time to find the right template than to struggle with design and layout every month.

Keep your content interesting and relatable

The only reason subscribers will engage with your newsletter is if its content is valuable to them. When looking for topics for your next newsletter, consider ideas that are:

Useful Timely Newsworthy Personalized

Depending on the size of your email list and the depth of your resources, you might want to create different newsletters for different segments. Most beginners — and those working in smaller departments — won’t have time to create content that’s personalized with that much depth. However, you should still use basic personalization, like customers’ names, to connect with readers.

Creating content regularly often leads to writer’s block. Don’t worry if you’re struggling — just refer to our list of 50 engaging newsletter ideas, which range from new product announcements to case studies to user-generated content. Or, you can check out some fabulous examples and get a breakdown of why they work from our list of 15 of the best email newsletter examples we’ve seen.

Make sure your newsletter has all the necessary elements

Email newsletters aren’t just about the body content. Don’t forget the other parts of your message. While they may take up less space, they’re just as essential to your newsletter’s success:

A subject line that follows best practices to boost your open rate A preheader that complements your subject line and offers another hook A CTA, whether you want readers to click through to your blog, send feedback, or engage in some other way An email footer that helps you follow legal requirements and meet reader expectations

These elements are the ones readers use to judge whether they should engage further with what you’ve sent. Take time to execute them well if you want your newsletter to succeed.

Phase 3: Test and optimize on an ongoing basis

Verifying everything in your email works before you send matters just as much as A/B testing and looking back at analytics afterward. Each installment you send is an opportunity to improve on your process and your results.

Pre-send tests should include email list maintenance, content optimization, and email previews. These 17 low-budget email testing tools can help you cover all the major bases. Set up a good workflow to automate as much of the testing as possible.

After you’ve sent, the only thing to do is wait for the results to come in. Your KPIs should match the goal of your newsletter; whatever your chosen metrics are, make sure you faithfully track them. Our 2022 email marketing benchmarks can help you compare your open rates, click-through rates, click-to-open rates, and unsubscribe rates to senders across 18 industries.

Be ready to keep learning

You don’t have to stick to the rules you set for yourself in the beginning if they don’t perform as expected. Don’t be afraid to experiment by adding new content or retiring sections that aren’t resonating with your readers. It’s hard to send a quality newsletter, and sometimes it takes time for new attempts to really find their groove.

The most important thing you can do is listen to your readers to learn how you can better serve them.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your First Email Newsletter appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
What to Put in Your Email Footer (+5 Examples We Love)

When it comes to email marketing, you probably spend most of your time thinking about the message you want to get across. You’re likely to focus your energy on crafting the perfect copy, as well as including compelling images.

Don’t let your attention to the body of the email come at the expense of important structural elements, like footers, though. Email footers may not be the first thing you think of when creating emails to send to your subscribers, but they’re an essential piece of the puzzle.

The footer won’t get the attention of your readers before they open the email, but it may be their last impression—especially if your readers are considering unsubscribing. A good email footer should include legal elements, tell your readers how to get in touch, and double down on your branding. A great one can unexpectedly delight your audience and invite more interaction.

Read on for instructions and examples to help you design an email footer that will strengthen your brand and improve your customers’ experience.

What is an email footer?

The footer of your email is located at the very end of your email. It comes after all the body content, including your email signature. It may be as basic as your company’s address and an unsubscribe link, or it might have useful details like contact information, social links, or legal disclaimers.

A two-line email footer. The top line has three links: "Unsubscribe From This Email - Manage All Notifications - Help". The second line reads "Skillshare, 407 Broome Street, New York NY 10013".

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If you haven’t planned and standardized your email footer, it’s past time to do so. You’ll save valuable time when you no longer have to think about where and how to include basic details with each new email message. Plus, customers expect robust email footers, and making one that hits the mark will prevent frustration with your brand.

What should I put in my email footer?

Email footers are a great place for including information required by spam and privacy laws. They’re also a good place to connect with your readers. Here are the elements you should consider including.

Legally required footer elements

Your business must include certain information in your footer to stay on the right side of the CAN-SPAM Act, the GDPR, and other laws that protect consumer rights. No matter what, make sure you always include:

Your company’s physical address (or another mailing address you can be reached at) An unsubscribe (or email preferences) link A link to your privacy policy

If industry regulations require you to include legal disclaimers, your footer is a great place to put them. You may also want to include a copyright notice, though you don’t have to do so for your email to have copyright protection.

Optional (but useful) footer elements

Along with the legalities, you can use your footer as a hub for reader interactions. Footers are the best place to put utility items like:

Social media buttons and a website link: In case your readers need help or just want to learn more, give them a place to go that isn’t email. A subscription reminder: Tell consumers when and how they signed up for your list to preempt untrue accusations of spam. CTAs: Build your list and audience by including a referral link or a suggestion to forward the email to someone who might like it. A view-in-browser link: If your message isn’t displaying well in someone’s email client, they can follow this link to view it as an HTML web page. A safelist request: Ask readers to add you to their address book to stay out of spam folders and improve your overall deliverability. Company branding: Your company name, logo or wordmark, tagline, and other brand assets can make the footer recognizably yours. Examples of custom email footers and what we love about them

Email footers may be a standardized medium, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for being like everyone else. Personalize whatever elements you choose to include in a way that’s true to your brand. Here are five great customized email footers to inspire you.

1. Highlight your company values like United by Blue.

Lifestyle company United by Blue does a great job of communicating what they stand for. The company sells outdoor gear that’s durable and reliable, which they state in their footer. They also appeal to their audience of nature lovers by sharing how they’re involved in taking care of the planet.

Customers know where to go for help, thanks to the prominence of United by Blue’s phone number and hours of business. Everything is organized and easy to find, and they have their hashtag, so you can find the company on social media.

United by Blue sells outdoor gear that’s reliable and durable. In their email footer, the business includes the motto they live by, staying on brand. They also make it easy for their customers to get help by including their phone number and hours of business. Everything is organized, easy to find, and they have their hashtag to find them on social media.

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Takeaway: Include relevant information for customers, such as valuable contact information and brand positioning that reminds them why they’re a fan.

2. Share your business personality like Moosejaw.

Moosejaw keeps their disclaimers lively by including subheads that let their company’s fun (and sarcastic/irreverent) voice shine. They even thank subscribers afterward for making it that far down in the email.

Their footer includes a link to their privacy policies, a link to an email preference center, and an easy-to-find unsubscribe link. Plus, the link to a picture of a giraffe does, in fact, go to a picture of a giraffe.

They also have a link to their privacy policies, a link to an email preference center, and an easy-to-find unsubscribe link. Plus, the link to a picture of a giraffe does, in fact, go to a picture of a giraffe.

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Takeaway: Comply with the law, but don’t be afraid to make disclaimers your own.

3. Add brand imagery like Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines makes their email footers stand out by sticking to their branding. They don’t include their wordmark, but anyone who’s flown with them will recognize the image that features on their aircraft’s tails. They also have a fun way of asking their subscribers to follow them on social media.

Alaska Airlines – Email Marketing – Footer with Image

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Takeaway: Using your brand assets and voice is a great way to make your email footer feel unique.

4. Include an email preference link like Patagonia.

Patagonia shows they respect their subscribers by linking to their email preferences center with a promise that their emails will be more relevant for those who share their information. They also remind readers what’s so great about Patagonia by including links to a few of their community-oriented programs.

Patagonia – Email Preference Link Footer

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Takeaway: Having a link to your email preference center in your footer is a great way to give your readers control over how you communicate with them.

5. Share your company mission like MiiR.

MiiR makes their company’s mission a big part of their footer to remind subscribers who they are and what they stand for. They also have all the required information, but they’ve made their unsubscribe message friendly and nice.

Miir – Email Footer – Company Values Footer

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Takeaway: Strengthen your brand by making your company’s objective clear in your email footer.

Email footers are just one part of a great message

These email footer examples and tips can help you get started with crafting a high-performing email. Take that knowledge further with our advice on creating compelling copy and optimized headers, footers, and CTAs for email campaigns that are sure to perform.

Try out Campaign Monitor today to play with our range of flexible options for editing your footers – you can choose a layout; customize text color, font, and size; add a logo; add hyperlinks; customize the background color, and more.

The post What to Put in Your Email Footer (+5 Examples We Love) appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
How Amanda Natividad Got Her First 1,000 Newsletter Subscribers

When Amanda Natividad started her newsletter, the VP of marketing at SparkToro and classically trained chef focused mostly on the craft of creating a strong newsletter. Six months in, she had a repeatable format she was comfortable with, a steady cadence…and only 400 followers.

All her hard work deserved a bigger audience. Amanda turned to her considerable marketing experience and created a newsletter growth plan. She reached 1,000 subscribers a month and a half later.

Today, she has 2,600 readers and gains around 500 more each month. Here’s the method that helped Amanda gain 600 new subscribers in six weeks — and can help you, too.

Plan a sustainable format

Consistency is essential to building a successful newsletter. Before you write your first email, decide what you want to send and how often. The most important thing is finding a schedule you can stick to.

It might take some time to figure out what works. If the format you chose is causing you stress, keep iterating until you find one you can stick to. Swap out a section you never have enough content for in favor of something more flexible or send less often than you initially intended.

[I]f you aren’t sure whether you’ve found your groove, keep testing new things.

“And if you aren’t sure whether you’ve found your groove, keep testing new things,” Amanda advises. “Not just new ideas, but test your schedule, writing cadence, try seeing if publishing ahead of time begets new ideas for a newsletter.”

Amanda’s newsletter has been through multiple changes since it launched. “I knew from the very beginning I wanted to have some curation element,” she said. But it took her a while to land on the name Petits Fours and the four-link format. At one point, she included screenshot interviews in each issue but dropped them because they took too much time. She can try new things without losing followers because she’s consistent in delivering high-quality, topical information.

Get an initial audience through existing networks

Your network can help you get your email list started, but you’ll need access to a bigger audience to continue growing. Even with word-of-mouth support from her initial subscribers, Amanda was limited in how many people she could reach. Her subscriber count started rising again when she looked to built-in social media audiences.

A screenshot of Amanda promoting her newsletter on her Twitter profile.

Amanda promoting her newsletter on Twitter.

 

She used her social media presence — largely on Twitter — to drum up interest for her newsletter. If you don’t have a lot of followers, reply to big accounts with fresh insights or funny observations. Follow up every attention-getting post with a plug for your newsletter. Twitter hashtag discussions can help you get traffic and earn new followers. Amanda also joined writing communities on and off Twitter to find support and subscribers.

Use early subscribers as beta testers

Your relationship with your audience shouldn’t be one-sided. Amanda A/B tested headlines and tracked link clicks to refine her content. The main metric she focused on was the open rate, which she got up to 60%. For reference, our latest benchmarking report found the average email open rate is 21.5%.

Amanda also solicited feedback by asking her subscribers questions. In fact, she still does “when it feels organic.” Only a small percentage of subscribers reply, but their comments can be invaluable. Sometimes, readers will respond without prompting if they have strong feelings about something: “One time, I skipped the recipe and instead offered a food tip, and 2 people replied to say they were bummed I didn’t send a recipe,” Amanda says. She’s doubled down on including recipes since then.

More people are rooting for you than you think.

The one thing Amanda wishes she’d tested was sending a shorter newsletter. “Sometimes I wonder if my newsletter is too long, but it might be strange to renege on length now that I have a few thousand subscribers,” she told us. However, her top takeaway had nothing to do with her content, scheduling, or newsletter logistics. “[The] biggest thing I learned is, truly, the importance of creating a safe space for yourself to test ideas,” Amanda said. “More people are rooting for you than you think.”

Incentivize signups (and make them easy)

Even engaged followers are unlikely to take your word that they should sign up for your newsletter. Amanda offered value with signup magnets. She didn’t go the traditional route of giving a downloadable resource to anyone who shared their email. She told her Twitter followers they’d get her recipe for Bulgogi Shepherd’s Pie if they signed up before she sent her next email. Seventy of them joined that day. It wasn’t an offer she could use more than once, but it did provide a sense of urgency.

For subscribers who don’t see the incentives she tweets, Amanda shows exactly what her newsletter provides. Her website, amandanat.com, has copies of every newsletter she’s sent. Offer free previews, so readers can see what they’re signing up for before committing.

The easier your signup form is to complete, the more subscribers you’ll get. Amanda sends emails through Revue, which is owned by Twitter. As a Twitter user, she loves how anyone who finds her on Twitter can sign up for her newsletter with one click.

Elements of a good newsletter signup page

How can your signup page reduce risk and make it easy for new readers to subscribe? Here’s what Amanda Natividad recommends:

Set expectations: Tell a reader exactly what they’ll get when they share their email and offer sample content for them to view before signing up. Prove credibility: Amanda mentions her culinary school training and tech/marketing work to show she knows what she’s talking about. Provide social proof: Share the size of your email list or reviews to prove your subscribers are benefitting from your newsletter. Create opportunities to promote yourself

Reach beyond your audience by appearing on podcasts, writing guest posts, or contributing to other credible media within your niche. Choose promotional efforts that benefit you and another creator in your niche for the biggest effects.

Every external marketing opportunity needs to have a double purpose or else I can’t commit.

The size of your audience and the amount of time you have to spend on promoting yourself will shape the types of opportunities you should look for. Here are Amanda’s recommended methods:

Co-marketing: Use your newsletter to recommend and link to other newsletters in the same subject area. You’ll likely get a shoutout in return, especially if you know the writer. Podcast appearances: Reach out to podcasters to see if they’re looking for guests and tell them you’ll cross-promote your episode to your email list. Then mention your newsletter during recording. Guest posts: Reach out to bloggers or newsletter writers and offer to contribute a guest post. Make sure your name is prominently attached, and add a link to your newsletter. Webinars: Partner with a friend to host a webinar. After you’ve won over attendees with your expertise, mention your newsletter and invite them to subscribe.

Cross-promotional opportunities can also help you come up with ideas for your own newsletter. Write an entire issue about something you discussed on a podcast, or add an excerpt from your guest post to your next newsletter.

Amanda now considers how opportunities can boost her personal brand or that of SparkToro, where she currently works. “Every external marketing opportunity (like a podcast or webinar) needs to have a double purpose (say, to promote SparkToro AND serve as inspiration for a Twitter thread for my personal account) or else I can’t commit,” she says.

Be careful not to stretch yourself too thin. Amanda learned the hard way that taking every opportunity means losing time she’d like to spend on other pursuits. She advises writers to “block times on your calendar for serendipitous opportunities (like potential podcast appearances), and STICK TO IT.” While too many opportunities may sound like a good problem to have, you don’t want your newsletter (or other commitments) to suffer because you’re too busy.

Anyone can start a successful newsletter

Everything Amanda did is replicable if you’re willing to put in the work. You will see a return on investment for the effort you expend to promote yourself and your newsletter.

The most valuable thing you can give your newsletter is time. “I spend maybe 2 hours on each newsletter edition, the day of the send. The fastest I’ve been able to do this is just over 1 hour,” Amanda shared.

She’s also constantly thinking about how to improve her emails. “Now that you ask me, I might always be testing a new section. You might see me experimenting with new ways to promote my YouTube show in the near future,” she told us.

You can see her new efforts for yourself by subscribing to The Menu or following her on Twitter at @amandanat.

 

The post How Amanda Natividad Got Her First 1,000 Newsletter Subscribers appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Lily Tansey
Introducing Campaign Monitor SMS: a New Way to Connect and Convert

Today, audiences expect a lot from the brands they interact with. They want personalized, relevant communications delivered in a format that’s convenient, at a time that suits them.

Email has been an essential medium for this kind of communication for a long time, and at Campaign Monitor, we’ve helped thousands of brands across the world use email to deliver personal, impactful messages to their customers.

And today, we’re excited to add a new medium to the mix as we introduce Campaign Monitor SMS.

A New Way to Connect and Convert

SMS is a powerful, yet simple marketing tool that helps you drive stronger connections with your audience and drive higher conversions for your business. It’s the perfect addition to email – increase the speed of return on your marketing investment by encouraging immediate action from your subscribers. 

Whether you want to boost sales through limited-time offers, maximize contributions to a donation drive, or level up your customer service through satisfaction surveys, combining SMS with email creates additional touchpoints with your audience, drives urgency, and gives you the best chance of increasing engagement and conversion. 

Campaign Monitor SMS is built for busy marketers. Using the same intuitive campaign creation interface as email, you’ll find it easy to get your SMS campaigns up and running fast.

A look at the UI for Campaign Monitor SMS.

 

Be on the lookout for helpful resources from our team as well. Whether you’re wondering how to capture SMS permission and grow your list, write effective SMS copy, or follow SMS best practices, our team is here to help you along the way.

Get Started With Campaign Monitor SMS

Ready to get started with SMS? Talk to our sales team to get a tour of how SMS works at Campaign Monitor, and learn how you can get started. Oh, and don’t forget to save your seat for our SMS launch event, where we’ll walk through how the feature works, and best practices for getting your SMS campaigns up and running.

 

The post Introducing Campaign Monitor SMS: a New Way to Connect and Convert appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
7 SMS Marketing Best Practices to Know Before You Hit “Send”

SMS marketing has quickly become an essential channel for businesses. Here are seven best practices to help you make the most of it.

If you’re like the average American, you spend around 36 minutes using your smartphone to text or call people every day. Most of these communications are done without a thought. However, the rapid-fire texting you do with your friends isn’t appropriate for marketing communications.

SMS marketing is one of the more interruptive ways of communicating with consumers because people feel compelled to read text messages. The 2020 Mobile Consumer Engagement report by Sinch found that 2 in 5 consumers have more than 50 unread emails in their inbox, but only around 2 in 50 have more than 50 unread texts. Many bulk SMS providers emphasize high open rates as one of the best features of text message marketing. We see it as a sign of higher stakes.

1. Comply with all laws and industry guidelines

Calling legal compliance an “SMS marketing best practice” may be generous, as it’s actually more of a necessity.

U.S. legislation, including CAN-SPAM and the TCPA, have clauses that apply to SMS message marketers. Many states have their own laws that apply to SMS marketing. You can download a state-by-state guide from the Contact Center Compliance Corporation. The CTIA’s Short Code Monitoring Handbook lays out more rules in its compliance framework.

Set yourself up for compliance by:

Getting documented permission from consumers before sending any text messages by explicitly asking for customer permission, and preserving it for at least six months after they’ve opted out of SMS communications Making your sign-up CTAs clear so consumers know what you’ll text them and how many messages they can expect each month Setting up a double opt-in, where consumers must respond to a text or click a link before they’re confirmed on your list (not legally required, but is a good practice) Including a disclaimer about message and data rates in your sign-up message, if not every SMS you send Including your company name in every message you send to identify it as a marketing communication Sending your texts during business hours — typically between 8 AM and 9 PM local time Including information about how to opt-out (Reply STOP to end or HELP for help.)

If you’re not sure whether a certain message is legal, err on the side of safety.

2. Use SMS for important and immediate messages

The best SMS marketing campaigns offer consistent value to everyone on your contact list. Send time-sensitive info (like a flash sale announcement) or critical updates (like shipping notifications or two-step authentication codes) via text to improve consumers’ relationships with your brand.

A text from Dressbarn that reads, “Dressbarn: BIG CLEARANCE SALE! Shop in the next 11 hours & get up to 80% OFF sales items with code CLR280! [link]”

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We also recommend adding an element of exclusivity by rewarding subscribers with special offers. SMS-only coupons and free shipping are great perks to entice sign-ups and keep consumers on your list. Show readers the benefits of being on your list by including a clear CTA in each message.

3. Watch your send frequency

The optimal frequency for most text campaigns is one message a week. Start there — and then try varying your message cadence once you have a big enough contact list to gather meaningful data. If you know your target audience well, you might risk starting with a higher send frequency. Just don’t get too spammy. Upland data shows there’s a significant increase in unsubscribe rates once a brand reaches the threshold of 10-15 messages a month.

The reason message cadence is so important goes back to what we mentioned earlier about text messages interrupting your customers. Everything you send must be worth an immediate read. If it’s not, you’re betraying the trust your consumers put in you when they shared their phone numbers. Triggered marketing texts or automated message flows must be built with this in mind. Ask yourself whether drip campaigns and follow-ups are worth increasing the number of messages your customers receive.

Don’t forget to consider the best times to send a campaign, either. Generally, 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM local time is a good guideline — with audiences being most likely to engage between mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Sundays typically the least amount of engagement, so unless you have a particularly good, timely reason to send on a Sunday, it’s likely best to wait.

4. Be concise without sacrificing clarity

Do U want 2 rcv a msg that 👀 lyk dis from ur fave brand? Neither do we. Sure, there are only 160 characters to use and you want to make the most of them, but text speak is annoying and unprofessional. Avoid abbreviations where possible because they make texts harder to read. Stick to common ones if you must use them.

Take this example from Ulta: Instead of writing out “24-piece,” the company wrote “24 PC.” Most people can figure out what the message means, but it takes time to translate. The capitalization doesn’t help — a PC is, to most, a computer.

A text from Ulta Beauty that reads, “Get a FREE 24 PC Beauty Bag w/ any $70 online purchase. 👛 Choose from 2! 🧡Ulta Beauty [link]”

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Make the best of your limited space by starting with something exciting. Flag a sale as “4 hours only!” or let SMS subscribers know when a deal is on its way out by telling them it’s their “LAST CALL” to shop. You can also just start with the goods. “BOGO” and “50% off” are things customers love to hear. Crafting the perfect SMS marketing message takes more time than you have characters, but doing it right pays off.

5. Lean into the conversational feeling

Your text message marketing efforts should respect the medium’s primary purpose: conversation. Readers should feel like you’re talking to them, not at them. SMS is a great place to bring your brand’s voice to life in a more personal way.

Start by using personalization and segmentation to send messages that reflect consumers’ interests and past behaviors. Then, write a text message, not a subject line. Messages should sound like they’re for one person rather than your entire marketing list.

The following efforts from bebe and Sally Beauty show why these details matter. One reads naturally and creates a connection with the customer. The other is a pain to scan and looks like a mass text sent by a computer.

A text message from bebe that reads, “bebe: Happy NYE, gorge! Use code: TAKE50 to save even more on sale styles you love. Exclusions apply. Shop Now > link”

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A text message from Sally Beauty that reads: “SallyBeauty: We’re Leaving These Deals Behind & Saying Hello to 2022. Stock Up On End Of Year Deals To Jump Start The New Year & New You! [link]”

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Autoresponders and transactional messages allow you to go above and beyond to create a true conversational experience. However, providing real-time responses takes more resources than one-way SMS blasts. Make sure you can commit to delivering a good experience if you enable two-way communications. It’s better to only run promotional campaigns than to mess up a conversational exchange.

6. Use SMS as part of an omnichannel strategy

Your SMS marketing strategy can benefit from integration with other marketing efforts. If you have a CX or CRM system, connect it to your SMS marketing software to take advantage of existing data and add new insights. The lessons you learn from other customer interactions can guide your text message marketing efforts. Likewise, SMS campaigns may surface interesting data points that point to new opportunities elsewhere.

Successful omnichannel marketing means sending the right message via the right medium. Not everyone will sign up for SMS, which means you can’t rely on it as a primary mode of reaching people. Given the other constraints we’ve discussed — namely message length and frequency limits — SMS works best when integrated with email, social media, and other marketing tools.

A table showing which situations you should use SMS, email, or both.

Email and SMS work best when they’re used strategically — picking the right medium for the right situation. This table shows some common use cases where you might opt for email, SMS, or both.

 

7. Test, test, test!

As is the case with any marketing channel, testing will be key to your success in SMS. As much as we as marketers like to think we know what will perform best, we’re all just guessing. The only way to learn about our audience and what they respond to is by testing.

This means trying out different types of offers, different text lengths, different send times — pretty much any variable you can think of — and seeing how your audience responds.

Rules are made to be broken

You can build SMS message marketing campaigns off existing customer data, but preferences aren’t interchangeable between vastly different channels. What works in emails may not work in texts. We suggest abiding by SMS marketing best practices until you have hard data that shows you should diverge from them. Stick to what everyone else does until your list is big enough to return meaningful insights.

All campaigns and marketing strategies evolve over time, and as consumers become more used to SMS marketing, their preferences may change. Keep testing what your audience responds to. Achieving a high open rate isn’t enough to win — it’s what you do with your customers’ attention once you have it that matters.

The post 7 SMS Marketing Best Practices to Know Before You Hit “Send” appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor

Testing is critical to email marketing success. Here are some of our favorite email testing tools to help you get started.

The goal of any marketer is to get the right message to the right person at the right time — but to do that, you first have to consider what might go wrong. Some of the biggest issues that affect open and click-through rates can be tested before you hit “send.” Declining to optimize these aspects of your message hurts the chances of your email even making it to your customers.

Consistent testing is crucial for retaining subscribers and increasing engagement. The good news is, with the right email testing tools, you can automate almost everything you need to know. These tools provide comprehensive testing capabilities for marketing teams of any size with any budget. Make them a part of your workflow to improve your email marketing results.

Domain reputation and security tools

Deliverability measures how likely your messages are to make it to customers in the first place. It’s the first thing you should check because none of the other tests matter if people don’t see your emails. A low inbox placement percentage isn’t the end of the world, but it means you have some configurations to check and practices to update.

Your messages may be marked as spam based on their content or due to the reputation of your domain and mail server’s IP address. Your Sender Score, which tells you how likely your emails are to be sent to a spam folder, decreases if spam or phishing messages come from one of your domains. Securing your system and then testing your content against spam filters can decrease the likelihood of deliverability issues.

Our favorite email security and spam score tools are: