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- Dominic Tortorice
7 B2B and B2C Case Study Examples to Model Your Content After
Check out these seven case study examples for content marketing inspiration.
- Stevie Snow
15 Organic Lead Generation Tactics (+ Lead Nurture Tips)
Discover how you can supercharge your organic lead generation efforts with these helpful tips and tricks.
- Dominick Sorrentino
Beginner’s Guide to Developing a Marketing Program (Infographic)
Your marketing program is only as strong as your people are knowledgeable.
- Sonora Birnie
David Winterbach: Developing Connections
Learn more about Brafton employee and front-end developer David Winterbach.
- Stevie Snow
How to Make a Buyer Journey Map for Your Brand
Here’s your quick guide to buyer journey mapping — including step-by-step instructions and examples to follow.
- Ashlee Sierra
7 Successful Holiday Marketing Campaigns to Inspire You
Looking to spread some cheer? Get inspired by these great examples of successful holiday marketing campaigns.
- Alexander Santo
Facebook Top Fan Badge: How to Give, How to Get (Infographic)
The top fan badge is a new feature awarded to Facebook business page followers who are active and engaged with the brand’s posts.
- Dan Haverty
White Paper Writing Services: Freelancers vs. Agencies
Looking for the best when it comes to white paper writing services? Discover the difference between working with a freelancer versus an agency.
- Stevie Snow
Testimonial Design Tips + Examples You’ll Want to Follow
Want to highlight your customer stories? Check out these testimonial design tips and examples.
- Michael O'Neill
Cause-Related Marketing: The Best and Worst Examples We’ve Seen (Infographic)
Cause marketing often refers to marketing activities undertaken by a business for the purpose of promoting a good cause instead of simply soliciting purchases.
- 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 Wilson

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 Wilson

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.

- Mekenna Wilson

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to market your business, products, and services. When your customers share their favorite products with friends, family, and colleagues, they’re doing the heavy lifting for you by giving potential customers an honest recommendation from a source they can trust. 

However, this isn’t the only way word-of-mouth marketing can benefit your business. Online reviews can also generate a lot of attention. These reviews have the power to convert casual browsers into loyal customers. Positive reviews will tip the scale for fence-sitting shoppers and web readers looking for first-hand accounts. With the global popularity of the internet and online reviews, there is even more opportunity for your customers to share the word about the quality of your products and the level of service you provide.

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not online reviews matter, take our word for it — they do! And the more positive reviews your website has, the better. If you want to get more online testimonials and understand the benefits of online reviews, this article is for you. Keep reading to get a comprehensive look at how to get more reviews for your business.

Why Are Online Reviews Important for Businesses?

This question can be quickly answered by reviewing associated statistics. About 80% of the U.S. population shops online. That’s a lot of potential customers for your company to reach! Of those virtual consumers, 92% read online reviews when exploring online products and services. A larger 88% of the online review readers say they trust those online reviews as much as they would trust personal recommendations. 

Online reviews are essential for your business because consumers read reviews looking for honest, unbiased opinions about your goods and services. These reviews can help potential customers develop a (positive) view of your business. They also get the ball rolling regarding lead generation and customer conversion. Reviews are often the first place web readers check when deciding whether to invest in something. Give your brand a competitive edge by making sure you have enough reviews to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

What Are the Benefits of Online Reviews?

Getting online reviews generates new leads. It also helps you better market to your target audience. In fact, 85% of small businesses report that referrals are the top way new customers hear about their business. After new prospects hear from family or acquaintances about new products, generally, the next step they take is to Google the product for themselves. This is where online reviews are primarily beneficial. 

If these potential customers are going to Google your business, you want the first thing they see to be your top-ranking website or positive reviews encouraging more people to do business with you. And, the more reviews these web readers see, the more they recognize how well received your business is. 

Here are a few more benefits of online reviews:

Helps you gain the trust of your customersMakes your brand more visibleGives your company free advertisingIncreases sales

The bottom line is that online reviews will influence the decisions customers make. If you want to take a proactive approach to marketing and grow your business, it’s important to get online reviews.

How Do Online Reviews Impact SEO?

Getting more online reviews is not only helpful when it comes to swaying customers, but the reviews also do important behind-the-scenes work when it comes to SEO value. How is this possible? It all comes down to what Google is looking for when determining rankings — and that is content that matches what web readers are searching for. That’s why blogs, websites, and even reviews have value when it comes to SEO. If your company gets Google reviews, it is all the better because it boosts your rankings.

Tips for Eliciting Online Reviews

Now that you understand the importance of getting more online reviews, let’s talk about how to get reviews. Here’s what you need to do:

Make the process simple: It shouldn’t be difficult to leave reviews. Keep the process short and straightforward so you don’t lose reviewers during the process. Give instructions, provide necessary links, and estimate how long the process will take.Make it worth the reviewers’ time: Incentives go a long way when it comes to leaving reviews. Offer customers a reward for leaving a review. This could be discounts on future products and services, gift cards, or other coupons.Make a social media post: If you have a lot of followers on social media, don’t be shy about asking them to leave reviews. If you get the word out, it will be at the forefront of your customers’ minds.Make an email campaign: This is a simple and easily automated way to get customers to leave reviews — and it’s also inexpensive! Immediately after making an online sale, send an email asking customers to rate products. This way, the products are fresh on the consumers’ minds, and you have an opportunity to get real-time feedback.Make it part of the process: Incorporate ways for customers to leave feedback and reviews as part of the sales process so it’s easy and consistent.

One of the most impactful ways to encourage others to leave reviews is to raise awareness and simply ask. The more the word gets out, the more likely people are to remember and follow through.

When Should You Ask for Reviews?

To get customers to leave reviews, it’s important to ask them at the right time. Don’t wait too long to ask. The following are some of the best times to ask: 

After the purchase or delivery of your productsAfter customers come back for repeat purchasesAfter customers tag your business on social mediaAfter customers refer prospective customers and clients.

Taking advantage of these times will increase your chances of obtaining new customer testimonials. Once you get more online reviews, you’ll notice your business developing a stronger online presence. This can evolve into more lead generation, customer conversion, growth, and sales.

How Can You Get More Reviews With Avalaunch Media?

Avalaunch Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps clients launch successful brands. Part of that launch includes teaching our partners how to get online reviews successfully. If you’d like to launch your business to the next level, get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team. We’d love to help your brand grow.

- Mekenna Wilson

Any time you click on a link or type a URL into the address bar, you make a request to a remote server. You are essentially asking a distant computer to look around in its files for a particular page and then show it to you if the computer happens to have that file on hand.

What Is a 404 Redirect?

If you follow a broken link, you’re asking the other computer for a page that isn’t in their files., which results in a 404 error. This could be because they never had it, they used to have it but it’s been deleted or renamed, or simply because you misspelled the URL. When 404 errors occur, you will usually be redirected to a generic 404 page, the website’s homepage, or a customized 404 page.

Why Is a 404 Page Important?

The main benefit of a 404 page is to notify the user that:

Something went wrong, andOffer potential remedies.

If a user follows an old link to your site and encounters a generic 404 message, their first impression will be that your site is either very low-quality or nonexistent. These generic messages don’t convey a sense that the creator cared about the site and the user experience. Users tend to bounce away from these pages rather quickly because they can tell that the site isn’t working the way they hoped. Consequently, broken links and generic no-effort 404 messages can drive valuable traffic away from your site.

On the other hand, if you can create a custom 404 page that is useful to the end-user and consistent with your website’s overall style — you can hold onto new viewers a little longer. Once a user sees the site is running and well-crafted, it signals that while the particular page they were expecting isn’t working, the site is up to date and may still hold some value for them by providing a search function or a list of popular pages.

404 Redirects and SEO

By designing a clever and useful 404 redirect page, you’ll ensure that your users stick around on the site for a longer period of time, perhaps finding the page they were looking for and engaging with it further. The reduced bounce rate and increased session times do not go unnoticed by search engine algorithms, which means that a well-made 404 redirect can work wonders for your site’s SEO.

Benefits of Custom 404 Pages

A custom 404 page makes the web surfing process more intuitive by eliminating the confusion that users experience when their expected page doesn’t load. Instead of an error occurring and dropping the user off on a nondescript, uninformative error page, the user knows they have reached the correct site but that an old link or a misspelling has landed them on the wrong page. With built-in search functionality or suggested links, you can make the 404 page even more helpful, getting users to the page they were hoping for whenever possible.

Best Practices for Custom 404 Pages

Here are a few tips for taking your 404 pages from a simple error message to an engaging piece of content in its own right.

Make It Casual and Fun

From the user’s point of view, the generic “file not found” 404 message usually comes out of nowhere to interrupt what they’re doing. The abrupt and bothersome message seemingly appears and disrupts the flow of the session, not just in terms of intent but in terms of design as well. Here they are, trying to find something cool, but suddenly, an ugly technical page comes out of nowhere to tell them the thing they want doesn’t exist.

For that reason, it’s often a better idea to lighten the mood with a message that either makes the reader chuckle or — at the very least — something accessible that describes the problem in casual, friendly language.

Include Suggested Links

Provide a list of your most popular links on the 404 page. This allows users to see the useful resources you have available on the site while enticing them to stick around for more.

Include Search Functionality

Include a search bar on your custom 404 page to equip your users with another tool to help them find what they’re looking for. Perhaps they landed on the 404 page because of a misspelling or an old link to an existing page. If that’s the case, a quick search of the terms they were looking for could be the quickest route to finding them.

Don’t Make the User Feel Stupid

Too many 404 pages convey their message with the subtlety and bedside manner of a sledgehammer. If your 404 page unironically gives the impression that the user has made a major mistake or that they or their computer are somehow in danger, then you’re doing it wrong. Bombarding the average user with a cold 404 error page full of technical jargon is an intimidating way to begin a conversation, so it’s no wonder that most people find these types of error pages off-putting.

How to Fix 404 Errors

To fix a 404 error that’s losing you traffic, you’ll want to bust out Google Search Console so you can monitor your site and identify when crawl errors and redirects are happening. Google Analytics can also help you keep tabs on just how many 404 errors are occurring on each page, which will allow you to figure out how much of an effect the errors have on your SEO.

Once you know which pages are causing you problems, your best bet for solving them is to create custom 404 redirect pages that fit your branding and offer additional utility to the user. When you have a custom 404 page ready, your next task will be redirecting your errored pages.

How to Redirect a URL to a Custom 404 Page Start by gaining access to Google Search Console. This will allow you to review any 404 errors.Once logged in to Google Search Console, go to the dashboard and click on “Coverage” in the sidebar on the left-hand side of the screen.Under “Details,” click “Error Submitted URLs not found (404).”Ignore errors labeled as “soft 404.”Click on the “Not Found” tab, and you’ll see a list of URLs causing errors. Copy down these URLs.

Your next steps depend on your CMS. Here, we’ll tackle Shopify and WordPress.

In Shopify Log in to Shopify.Click “Navigation” on the left side of the Shopify dashboard.Click “URL Redirect” on the top center of the Shopify dashboard. This will open a pop-up.In the pop-up, paste the URL you obtained from Google Search Console into the “Old URL” field, not including your domain’s URL.In the “Redirect” field, paste the link to your custom 404 page, including your domain name in the URL. In WordPress Log in to WordPress.Install the “Redirection” plugin and make sure it’s activated.Go to “Tools” on the left side of the dashboard and select “Redirection.”Scroll down to “Add new redirection.”Paste the URL you obtained from Google Search Console into the “Source URL” field.Type or paste the URL of your custom 404 page into the “Target URL” field.In the “Action” field, select “Redirect to URL.”Click the “Add Direction” button. Wrapping Up

Take back your lost SEO and user engagement by shoring up your errored pages and creating a more seamless browsing experience on your company’s website.

What was the best custom 404 page you’ve seen, and how did it tie in with the site’s unique voice and brand identity? What clever strategies have you seen for adding utility and engagement to 404 pages? Let us know in the comments!

- Mekenna Wilson

Many marketing departments are starting to introduce journalistic principles into their campaigns — and it’s not hard to see why. There are several journalistic principles and practices that can benefit your marketing efforts, especially writing content that speaks to your readers. While marketing focuses on the brand first, journalism focuses on the audience above anything else, drawing readers in and encouraging them to trust the content creator.

Let’s talk about the value of journalism in the marketing industry and the principles you can employ today to benefit your campaigns.

Why Is Journalism Important in Marketing?

Effective marketing and distinguished journalism often go hand-in-hand since, at its core, marketing is just a form of storytelling. Stories are one of the ways we connect with one another, and the emotional responses we elicit from the stories we tell our audience are what makes them interested in our brand. There’s more to marketing than storytelling, but your brand won’t make as much of an impact on your target audience if you can’t tell a good story.

Journalistic Principles for Marketing

The most critical skill marketers can learn from journalists is how to appeal to readers. Adjust your primary focus to the reader rather than your product or brand. It is best to show readers that they can trust you to do more than sell them a product. Here’s how you can do that. 

Conduct Proper Research

Read Competitor Content

While marketers are already conducting research, they could benefit from utilizing journalistic-specific research techniques. The most important thing marketers can do is to read as much as possible. Bookmark big companies in your industry, understand your competition and what they’re writing about, and pay attention to new technological developments. 

Seek Out the Best Topics

Journalists study relevant topics while also striving to understand what consumers actually want to read and how to appeal to them. Many marketers are instead turning to social media for new reactions and trends and working backward from these recent trends to create marketing campaigns for an existing audience. This type of writing is often fun and can attract a lot of attention, but it’s often more confusing than informative and can be more harmful than helpful. 

Master the Art of Interviews

Any form of customer-facing communication also requires journalistic skills and best practices, such as interviewing skills. These skills aren’t just beneficial in writing features for papers and magazines; they’re equally useful for producing content for marketing campaigns. 

It is essential to do your research, draw your own conclusions, and communicate your views persuasively to your audience to craft truly impactful writing. When creating marketing content, consider how you can create something that provides value for your audience and chase SEO and website traffic. The type of content that generates the most value for your audience is the type that matches search intent and drives traffic. 

When researching, ask some questions:

What makes your information interesting and important?Are there any perspectives or data you can offer that have not already been discussed?What do you want your audience to get out of your content?

Making time to answer these questions can help you create more substantial content that viewers will find valuable. Hard work and dedication to proper research are essential to successful content. 

Use Clear and Concise Communication

Clear and concise communication is another journalistic skill that can benefit the marketing world. Consider the theory of Economy of Language — fewer words lead to more clarity. This theory suggests expressing your ideas and concepts using as few words as possible. Using fewer words is key to writing, especially when trying to make an argument to convince your audience. 

Clear and concise writing is easier to read and more persuasive, which means it’s more likely to get the reader’s attention and enhance conversion rates. It is crucial in the marketing world. Consumers are constantly bombarded with information, receiving dozens of weekly emails and frequently checking news and other information on their phones. How can you make your content stand out among the masses of information? The answer is shorter, more concise writing. People don’t have the time or energy to read long-form content constantly, so providing short content helps you pierce through the constant distractions and leave an impression on the reader. 

Motivate Readers Through Storytelling 

Writing like a journalist means telling a good story, which is a skill beneficial for content marketing writers. Creating engaging content ensures that your audience wants to keep reading and continue to come to you for answers to their questions.

Deliver Data in an Engaging Way

Market and content writing is more involved than merely relaying data to an audience; writers need to be able to turn that data into a compelling narrative. Data is an essential part of marketing, and writers in marketing now face the challenge of sharing that data in a meaningful way. Rather than seeing data as a raw source of information your audience needs to know, start looking at it as supplementary material that adds context to your story.

Motivate and Connect With Your Audience

Marketing and journalism share the same end goal — to motivate or move your audience. Motivating your audience to buy something involves connecting with them emotionally rather than engaging them in intellectual discourse. The act of storytelling is great for eliciting that emotional response. Storytellers do more than recite facts and statistics; they craft stories that move their audience.

Content writing might not be journalistic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create a story. Many people are looking for authenticity in brands that they can trust. Storytelling is a powerful method of identifying the emotional connection between you and your target audience. Without that emotional connection, potential buyers may look to other companies for that trust and authenticity. 

Understand Your Audience

When writing content, marketers should understand their audience. If you research your buyer personas and create your content around the problems they encounter and the solutions they need, you’ll be able to attract the right customers at the right time with relevant stories. 

Ask Questions 

Content writers should ask questions about users, not just products. With every topic you write, even when writing about a product, consider how it affects consumers. Rather than questioning how you can sell more products, ask yourself why people should consider buying your product. How will it benefit its users? What benefits can your product provide consumers that competitors can’t? Align your writing with the people reading it. 

Asking the right questions is also vital for finding the best answers and unveiling hidden truths. Don’t just look at the surface of a piece of content; ask questions that get to the heart of what you’re trying to say. Content writers should understand their audience’s questions and anticipate what they might ask next. Providing good answers to your audiences’ questions involves more than a quick search; it requires finding every angle of every question and going the extra mile to find the correct answers. 

Look at Popular Headlines

Headlines shouldn’t be the main focus when it comes to writing, but they should be considered. Headlines are good markers for relevant topics. When certain headlines are repeated across many outlets, they prove to be topics that audiences care about. Attention to popular headlines can help you determine how to add relevant information to the conversation. 

Finding a balance between being unique and writing about popular topics your audience wants to read is essential. While you want to create new content that stands out, it is unwise to ignore topics just because other writers have already discussed them. To be the brand people choose over the competition, you should address the prevalent issues in your industry. Otherwise, you risk losing some of your audience. 

The Bottom Line

Marketing and journalism are all about getting to know your audience and providing content that is valuable to them. The best way to understand your audience is to put yourself in their shoes and understand the questions they’re asking. A deeper understanding of your audience will help you write relevant content that your audience will want to read. Your company will set itself up for more success when you learn how to use journalistic tools to engage and empathize with your audience. 

For more information and guidance on how to apply journalistic principles to your marketing campaign, get in touch with Avalauch Media for a case consultation.

- Mekenna Wilson

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business model that helps companies be more conscious of their impact on the environment, economy, and society as a whole. Having a CSR program holds a company socially accountable. It can improve your community, your company’s brand image, workplace morale, and employee retention. 

An excellent way to start a CSR program is by implementing environmentally friendly office practices, such as recycling. Get your employees involved, and see the improvements that can be made!

Environmentally Friendly Office Practices

There are plentiful opportunities for environmentally friendly office practices in your workspace. If you already have a CSR program in place, you might get ideas for new initiatives, and if you don’t have a CSR program yet, you might be inspired to start one in your company. 

Recycling at Work

Recycling at work can be straightforward, even if the initial setup seems daunting. Make your employees aware of the available recycling options, and provide them with the proper bins so it’s easy to follow your recycling initiative goals. You can recycle aluminum, paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and more. 

You should also research and replace disposable products with sustainable, reusable products wherever possible, as long as it’s actually sustainable. You can find sustainable suppliers for many products you regularly use in your office. It just requires a little research on your part.

Volunteering

Corporate Social Responsibility doesn’t just have an environmental focus, although that’s important. When you choose to implement your own CSR program, you should also look at the community around your company and the needs there. There’s a good chance there are ways that you and your employees can help in the community.

By planning a volunteer project, you can encourage your employees to get involved and use their time to support the community. As a company, you can do anything from a clean-up project to volunteering your time to a school or retirement home.

Hybrid Office

Many companies have had to go remote in the past couple of years. However, as things are slowly getting back to normal, people are making their way back to the office. Consider keeping your employees remote, or offer the chance of a hybrid office, where employees can work some days in the office and some days from home.

Some research shows that employees are happier and more productive when they have the option to work from home, which is what companies should want for their employees. Having employees work from home reduces emissions from commutes and cuts down on paper waste, electricity use, and disposable products in packed or purchased lunches. Avalaunch has been offering a hybrid option to our employees, and we’ve found that it increases productivity and employee retention. 

Go Paperless

At Avalaunch, we’ve gotten rid of most of our in-office printers and have primarily gone paperless. We find it easier to keep memos on emails and chats, and we print minimally these days. 

Even if you have to keep some paper in circulation, examine how you might be able to reduce your paper use. For example, you can print on both sides of a sheet of paper for in-office memos. You can also use recycled paper for your printing needs and utilize your emails more for company communications. 

Sustainable Transportation

Encourage your employees to use sustainable modes of transportation. If there is reliable and convenient public transportation, you could offer your employees monthly passes to use the buses and trains available to them. 

You could also make your office bike-friendly by providing bike racks or other storage options for those who bike to the office. You could even host a “Green Day,” where everyone who can bikes, carpools, or takes public transportation to the office. There might be incentives such as a raffle or other prizes available to those who participate. 

Recycling Tips and Ideas

If you’re not sure how to get started with a recycling program in your company, we have a few recycling tips and ideas to get you started. To begin with, it helps to make your recycling initiative a whole-company project. If your executives are participating in your recycling program, other employees are more likely to join as well. 

Make it easy to recycle at work. Educate your employees on your recycling initiative, and maintain your recycling bins. Having clearly marked bins for any kind of waste makes it easy for your employees to recycle. To this end, it might be worth it to select a designated recycling supervisor. This individual can be in charge of educating employees about recycling at work and other sustainability initiatives in the workplace. They can also maintain the bins and make sure they’re emptied regularly.

How to Promote Recycling in the Workplace

Along with education and maintenance, there are other ways you can promote recycling in the workplace. Although it’s unrealistic to ask your employees to give up coffee or tea, you can help keep some of these disposable cups out of the trash by offering them company-branded reusable coffee mugs and water bottles. It’s good advertising for your company, and it’s easy and convenient for your employees to use and cut down on disposable cups. 

You can also start going paperless. Rather than distributing your memos, meeting schedules, and more on paper, send them as emails. Your employees rarely need to hold onto those things past a specific time, so sending them as emails keeps unnecessary paper out of the trash. 

We’re Doing Our Part

At Avalaunch, we’re working hard to make our office more sustainable and environmentally friendly through our new CSR initiatives. For one, we’ve begun to offer a hybrid work option, which keeps more cars off the road and reduces CO2 emissions while lowering in-office consumption of disposable dishware, AC, heat, and electricity. We also celebrate Earth Day every year and hold a company-wide activity to do something for the environment, such as planting native plants to promote indigenous wildlife. 

In the upcoming year, we plan to reinvent our recycling program and do a larger CSR initiative every quarter, such as volunteering time and services and donating money — all with the help of our employees. We’re always looking for more CSR business ideas, and we’d love to know what your company has been doing. Let us know in the comments below!

- Mekenna Wilson
Be Integrity

Avalaunch Media is excited to announce a new core value: “Live Whole. Be Integrity.” This value joins the other eight core values already in place at Avalaunch, which help our employees work together and provide the best service possible to our clients.

A Positive Model

Leading up to this announcement, we asked employees to read “Integrity — A Positive Model” by Michael Jensen. In the article, Jensen defines integrity as a person keeping their word. Even if an individual cannot always keep their word, they can still honor it and maintain their integrity. Such a character trait is needed for a person to be whole — and it’s necessary among employees for optimal workability and performance.

As I’ve been on this integrity journey for the past month, I 100% subscribe to the idea that integrity is necessary to maximum performance. I feel like I’ve had better performance as I’ve been more mindful of integrity.” — Dave Mink, Avalaunch Founding Partner 

After the company read this article, the executives at Avalaunch met with each team in person to hold group discussions about integrity and what it means to each individual. Every team had unique and enlightening insights on the article, and everyone came away with a fuller understanding of what integrity means and its importance to the company as a whole. 

Our teams reached a consensus that integrity is vital to living an honest life. However, sometimes life happens, and it isn’t always possible to keep your word. In these cases, integrity means taking responsibility, honoring your promises, and resolving issues that arise because you couldn’t keep your commitments. We resolved that it’s not enough to keep your word only when it’s convenient to do so. If your word is considered cheap, you will have difficulty building real and lasting relationships — both in your professional and personal life.

Celebrating Success

At the beginning of June, Avalaunch gathered employees for a town hall meeting to introduce integrity as a new core value. The executive team made the decision to add this value because they feel that integrity is at the heart of what it means to be an Avalaunch employee and defines what clients can expect when working with the company.During this meeting, we also reviewed company goals and key results that have been achieved so far this year and what we hope to achieve throughout the rest of the year. We also discussed client feedback and where we are excelling. It was an excellent opportunity to come together as a company, celebrate our successes, and plan for further growth. Everyone left the meeting feeling optimistic about and excited about what we can achieve together moving forward.

Working Together

The new core value of “Live Whole. Be Integrity.” fits in seamlessly with each of the other values that we have embraced since our founding. Our current core values include:

Creating BelieversProject PositivityBe ProactiveDeliver Distinguished ServiceThrive on CommunicationTrust the TeamInitiate InnovationEnjoy the Ride Keeping Our Word

“Deliver Distinguished Service” and “Trust the Team” coincide particularly well with “Live Whole. Be Integrity.” Delivering distinguished service means doing what we say we’re going to do, which is another way of having integrity with our clients and keeping our word. Trusting the team means we trust our fellow teammates to have integrity and honor their word, ensuring we can all deliver on our promises and create the best possible services and deliverables for our clients — and each other.

Being integrity is also essential to our first core value of creating believers. If our employees couldn’t see the integrity that goes into Avalaunch processes and services, they’d have difficulty believing in what we do. Creating believers enables our company to deliver the caliber of service and products our clients have come to expect from us. 

Leading to Proactivity and Communication

Integrity is also necessary for our values of proactivity and positivity. Our team members have to believe in our company’s integrity to have a positive outlook on their jobs, be proactive, and go above and beyond for clients. With a belief and trust that Avalaunch is looking out for its employees and will keep its promises, our employees are more likely to keep their promises and deliver integrity as well.

Integrity also leads to innovation and top-notch communication. People who feel heard and know they can trust communications from their employer are more likely to communicate well themselves and reach for innovation in everything they do. But, like everything else, that initial trust has to be there, and the company’s integrity has to be evident before trust can be built.

Our Best Version

Last but not least, people cannot embrace our value of enjoying the ride if they don’t feel like there is integrity within the company. We want our people to enjoy their jobs, and integrity makes that possible; when employees can count on each other (and the company as a whole) to be integrity, they will be able to enjoy the ride of every day and experience better job satisfaction, reduced stress, and greater happiness in their careers overall.

It’s clear that integrity is necessary at every level of an organization in order for it to thrive. With this new addition to our core values, we are looking forward to continually building a company that values and respects its employees and clients and helps people become the best version of themselves. Avalaunch prides itself on hiring people who are committed to these same values and building an unstoppable team. 

- Mekenna Wilson

You’ve worked hard to set up your business, and now it’s essential to keep the momentum going with an effective ad campaign. One of the most critical elements of that campaign is the quality of your ad copywriting. But before you get started on that, you need to understand what ad copywriting is, how to write ad copy that sells, and what ad copy is in Google Ads.

We’ll go into more detail later, but here are some brief answers:

What is ad copywriting? Ad copywriting is the clever use of the written word to call consumers to action. This could be anything from subscribing to newsletters, buying products, or scheduling appointments. Once you start paying attention to it, you’ll notice that ad copywriting is all around you.How do you write ad copy that sells? Ad copy needs a compelling call to action, a connection with the target audience, and the ability to solve a problem for your potential customers.What is ad copy in Google Ads? Google ad copy is the block text at the top of your screen after running a Google search.

Once you have a foundation in the ad copywriting basics, you’ll be ready to bolster your online presence. Your business, brand, and products will be ripe for enhancements and projected growth. Give your company the online presence it deserves and make your mark in your industry through effective ad copywriting.  Whether it’s the content on your website or the text on a product’s package, the copywriting you use is impactful.

In this article, you’ll gain a more in-depth understanding of what it takes to create ad copy that launches your business to the next level. You’ll also learn some practical tips of the trade with helpful examples on how to improve your ad copywriting and maximize your impact online.

What Is Ad Copywriting?

While there are many facets of digital marketing, copywriting is often one of the most important and influential. Ad copywriting refers to any use of text to entice potential customers to take action — or, in other words, the verbiage you use to sell your product. This writing can take many forms, including (but not limited to) the following online options:

Website pagesSocial media postsBlogsPay-per-click advertisementsGoogle ad copyRich snippets

Ad copywriting isn’t always limited to websites, however, and could also include:

Radio/television commercials and adsBrochuresPostersProduct packaging

Copywriting can cover various mediums, but the bare bones of it are the words across your chosen platform. High-quality ad copy can strengthen your online presence, help you build a more significant social media following, and generate more user engagement. 

Benefits of Quality Ad Copy

Every business relies on some form of ad copywriting; your brand or product success is often linked to the quality and effectiveness of your copy. As you seek out new ways to communicate and connect with your target audience, copywriting is a crucial part to get right.

Ad copywriting is a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. Exceptional copywriting can help you influence potential customers as you clearly and concisely communicate your brand. With so many ads competing for space and recognition globally, you can reach your potential customers with streamlined and exciting messages. As you find your place in your industry, you mold your brand for a successful future.

How To Write Ad Copy That Sells

This is where it gets fun. Anyone can write a blurb about products and services, but how do you go beyond simple descriptions to tip fence-sitting customers in your favor? The following tips for effective ad copywriting will tell you everything you need to know.

Use Keywords

Search engine optimization (SEO) is at the heart of every digital marketing strategy. You can find out what keywords are trending for your location, industry, and products with some research. Using these keywords in your copywriting will boost your ranking on the search engine results pages. And, as you add more SEO principles to your copy, such as link building, title tag, and meta description utilization, your rankings will only increase.

Follow Google’s Guidelines

Google reigns supreme in search engines, ad copywriting, and online content. You must familiarize yourself with Google’s policies to ensure you follow them. If you follow their guidelines, you will be on the fast track to success.

Activate an Emotional Response

Bland copywriting doesn’t elicit a reaction. You are more likely to prompt potential customers to act when you trigger emotions, and that action brings results. Your copywriting might be logical and informative, but if it doesn’t drive your readers to make a decision and go from there, then it’s not serving a purpose. Activating emotional responses is especially powerful for PPC and online copywriting. Sometimes, the emotional response is spurred on by clickbait, and that works, too. The goal is to get web readers to click through.

Solve Problems

This is where you get a chance to shine. How can you solve a problem for your potential client base? What services do you offer that set you apart from your competitors? How do your products make life easier for consumers? If you carefully create prose that explains this, people will be compelled to work with you. If you can find a pain point in the consumers’ lives and provide a meaningful solution, your products and services will be needed and valuable in the future. This problem-solving will help your business’s longevity and growth.

Turn Features Into Benefits

Like solving problems for your customers, your copy needs to turn features into benefits. How does your brand or product improve consumers’ lives? Does it offer greater convenience? Will it save people money? Do you provide quicker turnaround times? Focus on how you help. People want to know how you can simplify their lives when it comes down to it. How can you make things easier for them? 

Use Captivating Keyword URLs

Keywords are critical for a digital marketing strategy. Focus on using target and primary keywords in the body of your website copy, but also use them in your URL. This not only customizes your website but adds professionalism and SEO value as well.

Cater to Your Target Audience

Before writing and implementing ad copy, make sure it’s optimized for your target audience. Who is your product geared toward? Who will benefit from it the most? Homeowners? Parents? Pet owners? The list of possibilities is endless. That’s why it’s important to narrow it down. Once you have your target audience, you can customize your copy so that it cuts through the clutter and speaks to them. This will make your ad copy more effective and worthwhile.

Keep It Simple

Let’s face the facts here — no unsuspecting person wants to read a research paper on why your business can help them, especially if they’re browsing online. Keep your ad copy short, simple, and to the point. Make it easily scannable with facts, headers, and images. Don’t overcomplicate things. If your potential clients aren’t subject matter experts, you shouldn’t be using technical jargon. Use specifics on a case-by-case basis, but generally speaking, the simpler, the better.

No one knows your business, vision, and products better than you, and now that you have these tips for success, you can craft engaging and effective ad copy that will bolster your sales, raise brand awareness, and establish your authority in your industry.

What Is Ad Copy in Google Ads?

Ad copy in Google Ads allows businesses to pay to showcase their copy at the top of the SERP page when web viewers search for related topics. This is an important reason that quality ad copywriting is a must. If you pay to have your copy shown, you want to make sure people will appreciate it and that you’re getting your money’s worth. Make sure the time, money, and effort you put into your copy and marketing campaign are worth it and yield results. 

What Steps Come Next?

Now that you understand the basics of effective ad copywriting, it’s time to get started. One of the best things you can do is hire an agency with professional copywriters, SEO experts, and paid search specialists. They can transform your message into something that has SEO appeal and speaks to your audience and assist with your digital marketing strategy. If you’d like to learn more about ad copywriting and how it can help your organization, reach out to Avalaunch Media.

- Mekenna Wilson

One of the most significant demands businesses face today is having a social media presence. Being active on social media helps companies connect with their audience and provide them with content they’re interested in. When used correctly, social media marketing can strengthen brands and companies. 

Getting started on social media or growing your existing social media presence can be challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing. Which platforms will allow you to reach more audience members? What tools will best help you increase your ROI? Social media agencies can answer these questions and provide valuable advice. 

What Is a Social Media Agency? 

A social media agency is an organization that creates and manages social media marketing campaigns and strategies for clients. In the beginning, most advertising and marketing agencies handled television, radio, and print advertisements, but social media agencies were created to help clients leverage emergent social media platforms. 

Social media agencies work with clients to align their social media marketing strategies with their overall business goals. They help clients determine the best channels for reaching their target markets. Agencies then write posts, make videos, and create other content that helps clients connect with their audience most effectively on social media platforms. 

Agencies also analyze metrics to determine ROI for social marketing campaigns. Impressions and interactions are analyzed to sharpen strategies and improve the effectiveness of social marketing campaigns.

What Does a Social Media Agency Do?

Social media agencies help companies engage with their audience and yield measurable results. There are three primary services agencies can provide to achieve this. 

Management

Managing your social media accounts should be taken seriously, as engaging with your audience can impact your business goals. However, it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to keep up with your social media channels. Social media agencies work with you to understand your audience, determine what social media channels are the best fit, and create high-quality content that will appeal to audience members. Additionally, agencies create content calendars to schedule and distribute your content at optimal times. 

Paid Advertising

Growing your social media audience and getting in front of the right demographics can be challenging. In recent years, platforms like Facebook have implemented algorithms that make it more difficult to reach your audience organically. You can use paid social media advertising to supplement your organic efforts. Paid ads help you get your message to the right audience by using tools that target specific demographics.

Every social media network has its own tools and ad types that serve different purposes. Social media agencies may recommend specific platforms for your business depending on your audience and KPIs. Whether your KPIs include wanting to increase sales, generate brand awareness, or drive website traffic, social media agencies work with you to develop strategies that produce the results you want. 

Reporting

Social media campaigns can’t be effective without proper reporting to measure campaign results. Reporting and measuring are essential to continue optimizing social media ads. When measuring results, social media agencies usually focus on three areas:

How effective your ads are for your target audienceGenerated leads or salesCost per lead

Metrics like these can help you determine if your social media platform is a good fit, if you are targeting the right audience, and whether or not your ad spend is effective. A social media agency with a solid reporting framework can give your business more informed recommendations and paid social strategies. Agencies work with you to determine what is important for your business and use that to drive their reports and recommendations for social platforms. 

Benefits of Hiring a Social Media Agency

Social media agencies provide you with the tools you need for a successful social media presence. Here’s how they can help. 

You Can Draw on the Social Media Agency’s Experience

Creating accounts may be easy when starting your business on social media, but it won’t increase your revenue. Having someone to coach you through tools that can be utilized and answer questions you have along the way can help you manage your social media more efficiently. Leveraging someone else’s experience enables you to avoid much of the trial-and-error phase of learning a new skill, especially regarding marketing and technology. 

You Can Gain a New Perspective 

Being a leader on social media often involves out-of-the-box ideas. Agencies know what works and what doesn’t on social media channels, which can help you avoid problems that have cost other companies money. When it comes to content ideas and campaign strategies, hiring a social media expert can give you an advantage, as you can access tools to help you schedule posts, track analytics, and more. 

Social media agencies also evaluate your previous campaigns, perform audits, and find ways to optimize. They’ll create long-term strategic goals while also looking for opportunities for quick returns, and they will analyze your competitors to know how your company can outperform them on social media.

You’ll Enjoy Access to Necessary Resources

Smaller companies don’t have the budget or resources to hire an entire social media team to create and implement campaigns. Many companies have one or two employees overseeing their social media, and these people usually balance these duties with additional responsibilities. 

Social media agencies help businesses quickly scale and free up staff members’ time for other important work. A team of experts will support you in every area, from design and content writing to analysis. Most agencies create a custom plan based on your company’s needs, which means they likely have the right tools. 

Data and Analytics Will Help You See Results

A major perk of working with an agency is being able to see analytics as proof of your campaign’s success. Agencies show measurements of the results they provide. Knowing these measurements gives you a better understanding of which campaign strategies work best. Getting rid of the things that don’t work will also get you a higher ROI.

Agencies Do the Research and Planning for You

Because social media agencies have worked with many different kinds of businesses, they know how to make necessary adjustments to your campaign. They have the time and know-how to research ways to maximize your campaign. This means you’ll have more time to be out serving customers instead of spending time analyzing and researching social strategies. 

Agencies Help You Save Time

Using a social media agency saves you time if you don’t want to spend your days learning new social media tools. As a business owner, you’re likely a professional in something other than social media, meaning you probably have a lot of different things to take care of in addition to getting your company active online. 

Good social media agencies have plans and know what will work to help your business be successful online. Not only will agencies save you time by doing the marketing work for you, but they will also maximize the use of your time because they know what they’re doing and don’t need to spend hours learning new tools or skills or testing new ideas that may or may not work. 

Social Media Agencies Know the Right Tools and Trends 

Keeping up with new social media platforms and trends is complicated enough. On top of that, you have to consider all the tools needed to manage each of your accounts and which tools are better than others. Many tools these days are similar with minor differences while others are better for launching your social media campaigns. Social media agencies are designed to keep up with these tools and trends so you don’t have to. 

Agencies Can Protect You From Potential Embarrassment

A poor social media campaign could damage your brand and business. You may create a post you think is fine but might be offensive to someone else. This can lead to backlash from your audience members — and bad PR. You may also post something on social media that violates copyrights, gets your accounts suspended, or even results in lawsuits. You can avoid any of these issues with the help of a social media agency. Agencies know what kinds of posts will do best among your audience and what types of content may violate copyright laws. 

The Bottom Line

When it comes to branding on social media platforms, hiring an outside agency is the most advantageous way to approach it. Doing so allows businesses like yours to outsource social media marketing duties to professionals while concentrating on what’s most important.

If you’re ready to take your social media marketing to new heights, Avalaunch Media’s experienced marketing team is prepared to launch your business. Contact us today to schedule a social media audit and find out what we can do for you!

- Mekenna Wilson

Everywhere you look, short-form content — or content under 1,000 words — seems to be standard. You’ll find it in social media posts, blog posts, emails, and other marketing collateral. Short-form content can be useful for relaying information in a concise way, but long-form content allows you to dive deeper into complicated subjects, establish your company as an industry expert, and strengthen your bottom line.

What Is Long-Form Content?

Long-form content is any piece of marketing-related writing that exceeds 1,000 words. The final word count varies based on the topic, audience, and purpose. Unlike short-form content, which is often intended to be skimmed, long-form content is meant to be read word for word and provide useful, substantial information to the reader about a specific topic. The purpose of long-form content is not to drone on with useless fluff to reach a word count or stuff keywords but rather to explore a topic in greater depth. Common examples of long-form content include e-books, white papers, and ultimate guides.

How Long-Form Content Can Help Your Business

From better SEO rankings to strengthened network connections, business professionals can benefit greatly from the proper use of long-form content. Here are some ways to use long-form content that will yield maximum benefits for your company.

Promotion

Long-form content allows you to put your content in front of new eyes. It gives you an outlet for something other than social media posts and often reaches a broader audience. Long-form content also provides the chance to create campaigns and play around with ads. Promoting it can have a more extensive reach than a blog post, as long as the long-form content isn’t gated (we’ll talk about this later). 

SEO

Many people in marketing will tell you that SEO is king. Long-form content can give you more opportunities to rank high on search engines. Proper SEO, or search engine optimization, is what brings your content to potential clients when they search for a product you sell or information you can provide. The better your SEO, the higher your content is ranked, and the more people will likely see it.

Getting In Touch

Writing long-form content also gives you a chance to keep network relationships up to date. In most industries, relationships are built regularly. When you ask for feedback from your connections, you can get good advice, and they usually feel flattered and are willing to help you. Having long-form content is an excellent opportunity to reach out to these contacts and stay in touch. 

Increased Time on Site

Comprehensive content equals increased time on site. If your long-form content is well-written and helpful to customers, they will spend more time looking at it. Long-form content sometimes means multiple pages, which also encourages users to spend more time on your website, thereby strengthening your SEO rankings as well as the trust between your brand and your target audience. 

Increased Conversions

Along with increased time on site, long-form content can also increase your conversion rate. When potential customers spend more time on your site, they are more likely to spend money on your goods or services. This is especially true when you become a trusted source of information within your industry.

Position of Authority

Having comprehensive long-form content can help you establish your credibility and position yourself as an authority figure in your industry. Long-form content, such as definitive guides and white papers, shows that you are knowledgeable and can be trusted to give current, accurate information.

Types of Long-Form Content

When creating and implementing long-form content, you have several types to choose from. Each has its benefits and positive aspects to offer you and your company, but there is a time and a place for when these types of content will be the most useful. When used correctly, all of the following could further your marketing strategy. 

Annual year in reviewBrochure/datasheetsCase studiesDefinitive guidesE-booksRoundups and reviewsWhite papers

To decide which of these will work best for your purposes, read on for descriptions of each. We’re sure that you’ll find a use for at least one of them, if not multiple. 

Annual Year in Review

An annual year in review is content that companies usually release at the end of a fiscal year. This long-form content is where you share your company’s growth, successes, and failures.

This review is an excellent opportunity to discuss the milestones your company has reached over the past year. Have you achieved any goals? Share them! You can be as specific as you want to be here. Also, share any failures and growth opportunities. It’s okay to be transparent and show how you’ve grown. If your team has grown, evolved, or expanded, this is the place to talk about that as well and to tell your readers how these changes have helped your company. Wrap up by talking about your company’s goals for the new year, and thank those who have helped you get this far. 

Brochures and Datasheets

There are stylistic and aesthetic ways to show what you’re selling to your customers. A brochure is an informational document that can include eye-catching graphics and be folded in various ways for visual appeal. Compared to alternative forms of long-form content, brochures tend to be for sales and marketing purposes, but you can also turn them into a datasheet. 

Datasheets are an excellent way to summarize the performance and characteristics of your product. With a datasheet, you can lay out exactly what you’re selling and why a customer should be interested in it. Both brochures and datasheets should be pleasing to the eye, and they can each lead to conversions. 

Case Studies

A case study is a type of long-form content and a research method that shows potential clients evidence of your success. It illustrates the details of a specific case up close and personal. Businesses tend to use this method to exhibit the result of a successful partnership with a particular client. A successful case study is usually 500-1,500 words.

When creating a case study, it is essential to provide a customer bio describing the client and their company. Present the customer’s struggle and how they tried to solve it independently. Then, explain the product or service you provided to solve their problem and the results of the connection. It never hurts to have a quote from the customer about how you helped them. You should also statistics and numbers to show how much their conversions, sales, or retention improved to make the most impact.

Definitive Guides

A definitive guide is supposed to be precisely what the name implies: an all-encompassing guide that lays out everything you need to learn about a topic. Sources are the end-all-be-all of definitive guides. You have to be familiar with the subject and know the reputable sources that will give you the information you need to write this kind of long-form content.

First and foremost, you need to know your purpose for writing a definitive guide. Having good keywords will help you on the SEO side of things. If you use statistics, case studies, or white papers, you can build trust and credibility. Visual graphics in your guide add some interest and keep your readers engaged.

E-Books

Although e-books may be considered more extensive projects than other long-form content, they give you a place to immerse your readers in a subject and provide comprehensive information and answers. Writing an e-book entails the opportunity to educate your client base and include CTAs on your website.

When you’re putting together your e-book, you should keep a few things in mind:

It can be helpful to format the e-book to include a table of contents and write it like you would write a blog. Any advice you give in the e-book should be insightful, unbiased, and include a CTA. An e-book is also a great way to link to influencers and partners who talk about similar topics. Roundups and Reviews

Roundups and reviews talk about products, services, or companies. Reviews are relatively common, and they look at the advantages and disadvantages of certain products. Roundups are essentially a list of products to compare. Both are long-form content that can help your clients make decisions about products and services they may want to try.

If you decide to write a review and, by extension, a roundup, you need to make sure you stick to the facts and statistics and avoid biased opinions. Constructive criticism and essential information should be part of your content as well, but personal opinions and commentary should be avoided when you’re writing. 

White Papers

The purpose of a white paper is usually to give current and potential customers information on both sides of a topic and any issues around it. Your goal should be to educate the reader and be as unbiased as possible. If you do it correctly, you might even be able to influence customers when making their decisions about the topic.

The most essential phase of writing a white paper is research. Ask the questions people want answers to — and answer them. Format your content correctly by giving both sides of the problem throughout the entire paper. Cite your sources and references, and provide historical data.

How to Write Long-Form Content

Now that you know the different kinds of long-form content and how it can add value, it’s time to talk about how to write it. There are a few things to take into consideration when writing long-form content, including:

Who it’s for

Who’s going to be reading your long-form content? Knowing your audience makes it easier to decide what type of long-form content you need to write. 

Why you need it

What’s the purpose behind writing your long-form content? Will you use it for marketing, education, or something completely different?

What success looks like

At what point will you consider your long-form content a success? How will you measure your success?

Gated v. ungated

Will your long-form content be available to anyone who wants it? Gated content means that prospective readers will need to put in an email address or other information to access your content. Ungated content means that the content will be freely accessible.

Topic choice

Have a goal before you choose a topic. What kind of topics will reach your audience best? What are they searching for, and what other information is available? It can be helpful to look at the content you have that’s already doing well and build off of that.

Design

Design isn’t just about making your content look good. You also need to think about practicality. Do you need email sign-up buttons or links to other content? Also, consider having buttons to share your content across social media. 

Promo strategy

When you put a lot of time into your long-form content, you want it to spread and be shared. For this to happen, you need a good promotion strategy. You can use paid ads, direct mail campaigns, giveaways, and more to make your content successful. 

Wrapping Up

So, how will you use long-form content to help your company? How will your marketing strategy benefit from long-form content? There are various long-form content options available, so it’s time to choose one that works best for your business.

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Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand
What is Social Proof?Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Social Proof is a series chronicling how ambitious individuals intentionally craft and grow their personal brands to inspire anyone hoping to do the same. Social Proof has a double meaning — ‘to replicate the actions of others to get similar results’ and ‘to showcase the power of social media in growing a personal brand’. We hope to bring to light insights that can help you bring both meanings to life for your personal brand.

For the second edition of Social Proof, we interview one of the prime examples of crafting a personal brand — Steph Smith.

Steph Smith is a multi-hyphenate with a career spanning ten years. She recently started a role at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a venture capital firm, as their podcast host. She’s also led Trends at The Hustle, a premium newsletter publication acquired by Hubspot, and was also Director of Marketing for Hubspot Creators.

Steph has many side projects like her book Doing Content Right and podcast Sh*t You Didn’t Learn In School. So when thinking about who would be great to kick off Social Proof, Steph naturally came up as she’s been actively creating content for her personal brand since 2018.

Throughout our conversation, Steph shares interesting stories about how she built a Twitter following of over 118 thousand followers from scratch, starting by sharing her progress in learning how to code.

💡To follow or see more of Steph’s work, check out her Twitter, LinkedIn, and website.

So, how might people with multiple interests and abilities find what works for them and channel that into intentional personal brand growth online? I'm not sure, but we find out how Steph is doing just that in this interview.

🖊️This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: Welcome Steph, and thanks for agreeing to this interview! So we wanted to start by having you define how you think about personal branding.

Tim Ferriss once said that everyone has a personal brand, regardless of whether you have 10 followers or 10 million followers – and I agree. It’s the perception that people have developed of you. For example, you could be associated with a certain level of intelligence, an industry, or personal attributes like being funny or reserved.

And I find building a personal brand fascinating because just as you grow as a person, your brand also evolves. But sometimes, how people see you and how you want to be seen can become disjointed – or sometimes, they are aligned very well. It's always fascinating to hear how people view your personal brand versus how you perceive yourself.

Q: That’s an interesting way to think about it — everyone seeing you one way and you not being able to control that image fully. This leads to my next question: Have you intentionally built your personal brand?

So I like that question. Because I think I have been intentional in some ways. But I also think your personal brand is sometimes out of your own reach. What I mean by that is that I've built many things over the last couple of years, and you could say that those inputs have a level of intentionality. But I can't always control the things that people latch on to.

An example of something people have latched on to that I didn't expect – nor did I intentionally try to seed – is my being a “content person”. And people might say, well, of course, people view you that way, you have a blog, you wrote a book – but I never saw myself that way. There are things that you will do and things that you will try to work on so intensely and even at times, you’re effectively screaming, “Hey, view me this way!” And people just won't. Counter to that, there will be things you do and ways you don't see yourself that other people will start to ascribe to you.

Q: What keywords would you use to describe your personal brand?

If I were to label myself, I’d use the terms ‘curious’, ‘thoughtful/intentional,’ and ‘transparent.’

Curiosity: Everything that I do is truly driven by my curiosities. And I think I do that more than the average creator who will typically test several things, figure out what works, and then double down on what the market wants. This works well and is probably a more lucrative path, but I prefer to pursue that which interests me, and luckily that’s had some market need along the way. But I also have done so by disjointing my creative pursuits and my full-time job.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Thoughtful/intentional: One thing I always hope comes through in my work is that it's thoughtful. And what I mean by thoughtful is that when I create something, it's because I really want to create it, but I also do it as best I can and don’t sacrifice elements of it to get more of a following or more sales. An example is my book, Doing Content Right – I’ve never run ads for it and never promoted it in ways that I think are sleazy.

Transparent: When I learn something …, I will most likely share it, whether it's through tweeting or writing articles or podcasting ... like when I was learning to code and learned a new way to integrate with the Google API. I knew that was something that maybe some fraction of the world wanted to know. And so I would take the time to write that up and have done something similar hundreds of times now, including how I built my open page. I think I'm more transparent relative to at least the average creator, because I see the space as positive-sum.

Q: Something interesting you mentioned is experimentation as a way to evolve a personal brand — can you elaborate on that?

If you look at the creators that have sustained their audiences over time, they've had to reinvent many times over. Putting enough versions of yourself out there, as strange as it sounds, means there are more chances people will latch onto something.

It's almost like a startup. A startup must continue iterating, experimenting, and putting different versions of its product out there. And what they can't control is ultimately what the market wants. But they can create enough versions or run enough tests to give themselves enough opportunities to find product-market fit.

Q: Continuing with this theme of experimentation, what are moments in your professional journey when you've had to evolve or iterate on what you thought your personal brand was going to be?

Yeah, I can call out several points along [my journey]. When I started in the workforce, I had to pivot because I did my degree in chemical engineering. But then, the available jobs weren't the ones I wanted to do; most were in oil and gas. So that was the first evolution – even though I viewed myself as an engineer and put all this work into this degree, I had to do something new.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

I went into consulting and had a clear path of action there, but then I wanted to be remote. So I had to reinvent myself again, which luckily led me into tech and created an interesting inflection point, where I was asked to lead a publications team. And it's not so much that I don't like being branded as a content person, but I had this reaction of “I don't lead publications teams… that's not what I do.” But I ended up doing it, and it was a great decision.

I had to allow myself to become someone I had never considered being. - Steph Smith, a16z Podcast Host

That was another example where I had to allow myself to become someone that I never considered being. That period is when I started coding and creating content online. I was creating indie products through code, which I thought would be my “thing” – an identity as a woman in tech, and I even started writing about that. But then I started writing about writing; writing about content.

There have been many evolutions where I've had to, you could say from an outside perspective, rebrand myself. But internally, as corny as it sounds, it was just about following what I was interested in at the time and what opportunities fell on my plate.

Now, I've tried to dissociate more from my identity and how I view myself, and instead focus on what interests me at the time because now, becoming a full-time podcaster, I could have never predicted that. That was yet another phase change, where I had to shed what I was before to start something new … I think now it's come more easily because I just view myself as a multi-hyphenate.

Q: So, as a multi-hyphenate, you’ve done a lot of work in podcast hosting, coding, and writing. A common thread is how much passion and effort shine through in each project. Do you see your projects as a vehicle for growing your personal brand? And how do you connect these efforts to each other to craft the image people have of you?

Yes, everything I do will relate to my personal brand, some more than others. I can’t help that. There are things that reach many people and will be most impactful. But every little bit contributes, so I try to do my best no matter the situation, whether I’m starring on someone’s podcast or releasing a book or something much “smaller”.

Everything I do, whether I like it or not, relates to my personal brand and is a vehicle for it. But ultimately, what drives that vehicle, good or bad, is how I perform in every one of those circumstances. And hopefully, it's more positive than negative.

Again, you can't always control what people think about your work, but you can sway the way people see your personal brand through the projects you pursue and how you pursue them. This is why I think many creators find themselves on the slippery slope I mentioned earlier. If the quality of your work doesn’t match your audience’s expectations and seems like a money grab, you’ve harmed your personal brand and that trust is hard to win back.

Q: I’d like to dive into something that’s an essential part of this series — the place of social media in developing a personal brand. You’re super active on Twitter — would you say that’s the main platform you’ve used to grow your online presence?

Twitter has been the main platform for growing my online presence, and the “why” behind that is pretty simple – that's where I enjoy spending the most time, and creating content there is easier for me than creating content on other platforms.

I do want to explore more platforms because I am quite concentrated on Twitter. But I also have to consider a simple content marketing question, “Where's my audience?” If I'm talking about technology, there's a lot of content around that on TikTok, so that’s an example of a platform that I'm debating venturing into.

Q: Has growing an online presence using social media, specifically Twitter, helped your career?

When I learned to code in 2018, I was not active on Twitter, so I ended up wiping my account and starting with zero followers. No one knew who I was nor why I might be interesting.

And from where I am today, I can confidently say that several of my recent roles have come through (or at least been heavily supported by) my presence on social media or my personal projects, not my official resume. One example of this is how I joined The Hustle. Sam, the founder, saw an article that I had written, which went viral on Hacker News and was shared by a well-known VC. By that point, I think I maybe had about three thousand followers. That's how he discovered my work, which led me to The Hustle, which was later acquired by HubSpot.

Q: Since you have experience cleaning the slate and starting anew on a social media platform, what would you recommend that people with zero to minimal presence on social media do when thinking about how to use theirs to grow a personal brand?

If I was just starting out, I would figure out what I'm most interested in right now and double down on that. I would share everything I'm learning in that capacity and become known as someone uniquely interested in that space. And then, once you build a little bit of a following, you have the freedom to diversify and focus on other things, as I've done.

This may be counterintuitive to everything I’ve said about experimentation and evolution as a way to grow your personal brand, but it’s essential at the beginning of your journey to plant one seed and nurture it.

Q: Before we wrap up, do you have any final thoughts to share?

Millions of people create content, so it’s essential that you find a niche and give people a reason to follow you among the sea of others. One key way to approach this is through the topics you talk about.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Another way many people miss, which can be just as effective, is how you talk about a topic. For example, there are tons of people who write about technology every day. But there are certain influencers, many who are newer, that do it better. They might be funnier, more contrarian, more visual, etc. So it's not just about time in the game but also how you're doing it.

Takeaways

Here are some ways to implement Steph’s personal brand-building tactics for your journey:

Be intentional about building your personal brand: No matter what you choose to do to grow your brand and online presence, always bring your best self. Prepare for speaking engagements, create quality content, and treat every project as an extension of you. Transparency is a great way to stay intentional about your goals, and Steph has a lot of experience with both as she grew her Twitter by sharing her coding journey and indie projects. Check out this article for ideas of how to practice transparency as a way to stay intentional.Don’t be afraid to experiment: A big theme of Steph’s journey has been experimentation. Try different content formats, tackle new topics, and create for different platforms to find what works best for you. When it comes to trying new things, the small businesses in this article have their strategy down pat.Double down on one area: When you’re just starting out creating content for your personal brand, it’s important to become known for something. This helps you build expertise and credibility, and gives your potential audience something to latch on to. To figure out the balancing act of experimenting without tackling too many things at once – and at the risk of sounding repetitive – time in the game is less important than how you’re doing your work. If you take a new approach to your chosen field or topic, you can win people over or at least make them curious. For some inspiration, check out this article on interesting TikTok creators.Be open to new experiences: Steph mentioned being wary about taking on a role as head of publications because she’d never done it before but chose to forge ahead anyway. If you want to accelerate the growth of your personal brand, it’s important to be open to new challenges when they come. Putting yourself and your work out there can feel scary, but it can be very rewarding. Check out this article for ways you can open up new experiences for yourself using your online presence.

🔌Once you’re ready to start sharing content to your social channels, check out Buffer for easy automated scheduling and publishing!

- Umber Bhatti
Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

Any company can sell its customers a product or service, but a great brand offers its followers something even better – a sense of community and belonging. After all, a major goal for all businesses is customer retention, that is, having loyal customers who repurchase from your brand time and time again.

There are many ways to cultivate this kind of relationship with your customers, one being creating an emotional bond with them. According to the Harvard Business Review, customers are three times more likely to buy from your brand if they form an emotional connection to it.

This is where Facebook Groups come into the picture. Creating a Facebook Group for your brand provides an opportunity to better connect with your followers in an intimate setting. It’s likely that not everyone who follows you or your small business on social media will join your Facebook Group, but the ones who do are typically the most invested in your products and services. Over 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups each month, proving that millions turn to these more intimate online spaces in hopes of bonding with others.

We’ll cover the benefits of a Facebook Group for your company and share examples of businesses that have benefited from investing in this kind of community.

How these brands have benefited from Facebook Groups

“Community,” is the new follower count, at least according to The Washington Post. Content creators are shifting away from focusing on the amount of likes they receive, to creating niche spaces on the internet for their followers. And it’s not just influencers, either. Many brands are also harnessing the power of online communities to better connect with their customers. The more engaged and active your customer base is, the more brand loyalty you can expect in the long run.

Saie – a clean makeup brand – has seen huge growth in the last two and a half years and recently started selling their products in Sephora. Similarly, What’s Gaby Cooking – a small business that initially started from a blog – has turned into a food empire with founder Gabby Dalkin releasing her third cookbook soon.

Both Saie and What’s Gaby Cooking have a large following on Instagram and other social media platforms, but have still found great success on Facebook Groups. This is mostly due to the more intimate nature of the space.

Here are some of the ways a Facebook Group can help you forge a better relationship with your members.

Form deeper bonds with your core customers

Posting on your general and public social media channels can sometimes feel like you’re talking to a void for several reasons. Your follower count may be so large, it’s hard to personalize your interactions with people. Or, depending on the algorithm and the fact that individuals are constantly inundated in content, your fans might not even be seeing all of your posts in their feed.  

With a private Facebook Group, however, you can get personal with each one of your members. For example, Saie has over 146,000 followers on their Instagram accounts, and What’s Gaby Cookin has an impressive 865,000 followers on hers. But each small brand has a significantly smaller following on their Facebook Groups, with roughly 3,000 and 13,000 members respectively. This tighter community is a great way to form stronger connections with your followers.

You're usually posting content on your main social media channels – product shots, Reels or TikToks, and polished graphics. But on your Facebook Group, you don’t have to worry about providing users with a ton of media assets as they likely follow your main channels and already see those. Instead, your focus can shift to fostering community and building relationships with your followers.

Here, CEO Laney Crowell made a personal post in Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Facebook Group asking followers for their skincare routine. It’s not often that someone that high in leadership can connect with followers in a more intimate, closed setting. Although Laney does regularly appear on Saie’s Instagram, if she were to ask this question on the brand’s Instagram Stories, the response would most likely be too overwhelming for Laney or anyone else at Saie to respond to users individually. On their Facebook Group, on the other hand, the responses are much more manageable. The post below received 15 likes and 61 comments – fewer than what the brand typically receives on their Instagram posts.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesCEO Laney Crowell uses Saie's FB Group to connect with customers

And in this case, less is more. Saie’s Head of Community, Lauren Lauigan, responded to many of the comments and even asked some members follow up questions about their morning routine.

In another post, Lauren asked the community for their clean deodorant recommendations. By interacting with the group’s members and getting their recommendations, opinions, and feedback, Saie’s leadership team is doing a great job of making their community feel valued. Rather than just throw out content about Saie’s products, the purpose of the beauty group is for members to learn from each other and share their experiences.  

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesSaie's Head of Community Lauren regularly interacts with members in their Facebook Group

Similarly, Gaby also uses the What’s Gaby Cooking Friends! Facebook Group to connect with her followers on a more personal level. In February, she made a post asking members to help contribute to her upcoming book.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

The post had a ton of engagement with lots of followers sharing their favorite sayings from Gaby. By specifically asking members from her Facebook Group, and not posting this message anywhere else, Gaby most likely made her members feel more connected to her and her brand. Users shared their favorite sayings of her in the comments, including “this little situation,” “this is epic,” and “I’m obsessed.” Gaby even replied to certain comments – something she may not have been able to do on a larger platform.

A private Facebook Group allows you to carve out a smaller and more manageable space on the internet that will lead to more face time with each of your members. This can allow for more of a two-way conversation between you and your followers, so you can also get their input too.

Create a space for your followers to share their interests & passions

Another huge plus of creating a Facebook Group for your business is that it can help grow and nurture relationships between your followers. Rather than your customers solely having a connection with the products you sell, they’ll also begin to associate your brand with the friendships and sense of community they find within your Facebook Group. This is exactly what happened when Influencer Ambar Driscoll created an organization called Bamby Collective to help connect young women across the globe.

Ambar found that members quickly became vulnerable with one another through the Facebook Groups. And, while most of the members did originally join because they were fans of Ambar, one individual told us the reason she continues to interact with the group is because of the friendships she has formed.

A good Facebook Group is going to connect back to your brand identity while giving space for you customers to discuss topics outside of your small business. In this way, your Facebook Group is actually providing a real sense of community to members, where they can ask questions and share things with each other.

A member from What’s Gaby Cooking Friends! Facebook Group shared a post about the popular Hulu series, “The Bear.” While a television show may not seem related to Gaby and her brand, this show in particular is about a renowned chef, bringing it back to the community and Gaby’s core theme: connecting with one another through food.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesA post shared by a member in Gaby Dalkin's Facebook Group

The post was quite popular and users were having discussions about the series within the comments, actively engaging with each other. This is a great example of users in the community bonding over a shared interest.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesMembers can connect with each other and ask for recommendations in Facebook Groups

In Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Facebook Group, members constantly ask each other for makeup recommendations from brands outside of Saie. In the below post, a user started a discussion about the best eye primer, a product that Saie doesn’t even make. The fact that the Facebook Group doesn’t solely revolve around Saie makes it a more genuine space for makeup lovers.

No one wants to feel like their only value is monetary – even your customers. By creating spaces for your followers to relate with one another, you’re letting them know your small business values them, not only for their money, but also for their opinion. Through these more intimate spaces, your community will also form stronger relationships amongst each other which, in turn, will lead them to value your brand even more.

Your Facebook Group can become a channel for user generated content

Every member of your small business's Facebook Group has something in common: they like your brand. So unsurprisingly, one benefit of this online community is that your followers will naturally be discussing your products including any promotions or special events.

Here, a member of Clean Beauty Crew shared her excitement about Saie’s Friends & Family Sale. In the comments of the post, users discussed what they were planning to buy during the sale.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesA Clean Beauty Crew member shared their excitement about an upcoming sale on the group

Another user asked the group for feedback on Saie’s popular sunscreen Sunvisor. Followers who ask for product recommendations via the Facebook Group can feel like they’re getting more reliable answers compared to looking at the reviews on a website that sometimes include people who’ve been gifted the product. The fact that all members in the Facebook Group can see each others’ names and pictures helps make the environment feel more trustworthy.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesA great perk of a Facebook Group is the space is more intimate, allowing users to connect and ask each other questions

In What’s Gaby Cooking Friends, members are constantly sharing their favorite recipes from Gaby’s blog, but even more, they share news about her cookbooks as well. A Canadian user shared a link to one of Gaby’s upcoming books at a reduced price.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesMembers can share deals and any upcoming news with one another on Facebook Groups

This user generated content can be more appealing than regular marketing content as it feels more authentic when good product reviews are shared by fans and customers who genuinely enjoy the product (without any incentives like with sponsored reviews).

With that being said, you can use your Facebook Group as another vehicle for promoting your brand by posting marketing content — but do it sparingly. The goal of your Facebook Group should be to enhance your members’ experience, not try to get your followers to buy more products.

Community management and content moderation

Now that you know the various benefits a Facebook Group can offer your small business and your customers, you might be wondering what the best practices are to run a successful one. In order to make the space as valuable as possible, here are some things to consider when launching your Facebook Group.

Set ground rules

A major goal for any online community – including your business’s Facebook Group – is to ensure all members feel safe and comfortable. You can set the tone for this by establishing some ground rules early on. These rules will be one of the first things your members see when they request to join the Facebook Group. Some basic rules to consider: no hate speech, bullying or personal promotion of brands or businesses.

For reference, here are Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Group rules.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real ExamplesLead by example

Initially, you may find that your members aren’t engaging as much with the group as you’d like – and that’s OK. As the admin and group owner, you can model these types of interaction to fellow members. Create discussion posts, engage with users, ask for feedback regularly, and initiate conversation amongst your members.

Be kind and courteous to everyone, and take the time to get to know your community by responding to their comments and posts. Eventually, you should see an increase in user contributions.

Create a private Facebook Group for your business

We recommend keeping your Facebook Group private to ensure the space is filled with actual community members and not spammers. Both Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew and What Gaby’s Cooking Friends! Groups are private and require an administrator to approve each new member. This way you can keep an eye on who joins the group and ensure that everyone is there for the right reasons.

We hope this article inspires you to create a Facebook Group for your small business! Remember, the goal of this space is to give your customers the spotlight and make sure their voices are heard.

Did you know you can connect your Facebook Group to your Buffer account? Get started for free today to draft, schedule, and publish content to your Facebook Group!

- Sehreen Noor Ali
The Worst Moment of My Life Made Me a Better Entrepreneur — Here Are the Lessons I Learned
The Worst Moment of My Life Made Me a Better Entrepreneur — Here Are the Lessons I Learned

The moment I learned about my young daughter’s medical diagnosis is permanently etched in my memory like a bad tattoo. I had just switched off the TV in the living room when a notification popped up on my phone with her MRI results.

My worst nightmare ensued.

We traded our live-on-a-beach summer plans with visits to children’s hospitals along the East Coast. We armored ourselves mentally for one of the most serious surgeries a person — much less a child — can endure, and we hoped for the best.

But when she rolled into the ICU with a bandage that wrapped around her whole head and face, we learned there had been a complication. Instead of the five-day hospital stay we expected, she went through a multi-month hospitalization that split our family between two states.

And, throughout all this time, I was running a company: children’s health search engine startup, Sleuth. I had co-founded it in 2020, inspired by how hard it was to figure out and get help for her confusing (yet stable) symptoms, and the mission became even more important to me when we were handed such a serious diagnosis.

Running a business while caring for my daughter was challenging but, strangely, that summer of hardship in 2021 made me a better entrepreneur and leader. Here’s how I changed.

I learned to write my own business rules

I lay curled next to my daughter in a three-foot wide hospital bed for 68 nights. She’d drift off to sleep, and I’d spend the next few hours with one arm placed under her head while I listened to inspirational podcasts to steel myself for the next day.

In those moments of silence, I knew I’d never come out the same person. And so how could I play the same business game I was playing before? I had been working so hard to be palpable to investors and other stakeholders in the startup ecosystem, adhering to a playbook that I thought all VC-backed entrepreneurs had to follow.

But I wasn’t like others: I was a South Asian mom of a child with special needs who created a company based not on a desire to build the next unicorn, but on my challenges getting the information I needed. Subconsciously, I always knew how atypical I was, but enduring my life’s worst case scenario liberated me to actually go live my own playbook.

From there on out, my voice — on social media, with investors, with partners — became unapologetic and my own. For example, I thought early-stage founders had to look or sound a certain way to be taken seriously, like they have everything sorted out but now I just appear on IG Lives exactly the way I am: a working mom, who may not have slept enough the night before, but who is hell-bent on using technology to make children’s health easier.

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I stopped outsourcing my confidence

It’s impossible to impart the details of what it’s like to parent a child with medical needs. But when close friends remind me to stop and appreciate how remarkable it is to co-run a startup and parent a special needs child at the same time, I realize that my strength runs deep. Each of us has unique circumstances that seem unbearable to someone else but that might be a source of strength for ourselves.

Now, I turn to myself for answers and confidence instead of looking to others for affirmation. My tone has gone from trying to convince people about Sleuth to having inner knowingness that we are building something that is a no-brainer. I once pitched Sleuth to a room on Clubhouse and received scathing criticism of the idea from a judge. Another time, a seasoned business operator told me I didn’t have enough “technical skills.” In the past, those comments may have crushed me. But now that I have confidence in my own strength, I always know that this is not only the right path for me, but it’s a path that will be successful.

I learned to better face hard realities

You can’t kinda have a medical diagnosis—it either is or it isn’t. And I couldn’t wish away my daughter’s condition. Facing hard realities in her diagnosis made me face hard realities in business.

Sometimes it’s hard to pivot when a tactic or strategy isn’t working, but now, I’m more clear-eyed than ever about what works and what doesn’t. For example, I spent two months cultivating relationships with a set of health-focused associations, and just before signing two deals, I pulled out because the timing wasn’t right. It was a huge win to build credibility with these esteemed organizations, and it felt silly to pull out, but we simply did not have the bandwidth for a deep commitment. It’s much easier to change course quickly for the health of the business without feeling like I have to double down on a previous position because I can’t admit I was wrong.

I realized that sometimes there’s only one priority

At first, I tried to work while my daughter was hospitalized. After I berated myself for a failed online event, a physician friend called me to launch an intervention. “You’re literally in the middle of trauma,” she told me. “Expecting so much is unreasonable. Your only to-dos are to eat, sleep, and be with your baby—you’re doing amazing, and the fact that you’re still standing is a huge accomplishment itself.”

I learned that urgent situations like this require me to put down all the balls and focus on just one, and from that point on, I did. If I hadn’t solely focused on managing my daughter’s care while she was hospitalized, she wouldn’t be healing well today, and I likely wouldn’t have been able to return to work at all.

As an entrepreneur, it’s normal to juggle multiple priorities, but this situation reminded me that there are moments in business that require my undivided attention, too (and not just in crisis situations). In May, I was invited to the White House for a reception with President Biden, and I wanted to make the most of the unique opportunity. I arrived first at the security gate, which enabled me to be well-placed when the President made a speech and walked off the stage. Amid a sea of other people, I managed to introduce Sleuth to him, take a video with my left hand while my right hand got to shake his, and get our picture tweeted by the White House. It was a profound opportunity—and one that came from being absolutely present and focused in the moment.

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I learned that data is an antidote to spiraling

One of the top pediatric neurosurgeons left the timing of my daughter’s surgery up to us, her family. It was daunting, and a decision unlike anything I had faced. Our choice could change the course of her life forever.

But we were deliberate. We called every physician we knew and asked them to connect us with other neurosurgeons. We spoke to each of them and took meticulous notes. We charted out decisions trees and worst case scenarios and assessed them against the severity of her current discomfort and symptoms. Ultimately, collecting the relevant data points enabled us to make a decision that we still stand by today.

The fidelity of having a data-driven decision process—and pushing for transparency from stakeholders—stays with me. When I feel anxiety about her future or am facing a major decision about Sleuth, I pause and collect the facts. It always paints a picture that is different from when the only tool I paint with is my emotion.

As a business owner, there are many tempting shiny objects to pursue, such as partnerships, potential investments, or PR visibility. An opportunity to speak in LA popped up during the dead of winter in NYC, and within minutes, my mind already drifted to boarding the airplane, landing in 80 degree weather, and giving the speech of a lifetime. But when I calculated the data—the travel costs, the time away from working, the dubious ROI—it was clear that I had to pass.

I saw that breaking isn’t a sign of failure; it’s a sign to ask for help

Seeing my daughter suffer broke me, but I didn’t want her to sense my fear. I had a side gig as an actress most days: a cheerleader to keep her motivated through therapies, a lawyer to advocate for appropriate medical care, and a power networker to befriend all the nurses.

But it caught up with me, and one morning, I fell apart in desperate tears in front of a child life specialist, Kristi. She looked me in the eye and said, “I got you.” She promptly sent me away with instructions not to return to the hospital before the evening. She galvanized the rest of the care team to ensure my little one was occupied and happy, and I came back with the mental relief I so desperately needed.

There are similar resources for the entrepreneur who is carrying too much on their shoulders—sometimes, the hard part is having the courage to use them. This is perhaps the lesson that has been hardest for me to learn and practice, as the dominant narrative of building a startup is to hustle at all costs.

But I’m thankful that I’ve learned to lean on my co-founder and supporters. Surprisingly, being open about when I’m struggling has led to more and better opportunities than before. I post on social media about my challenges as a medical mother and founder, and from it, I’ve been invited to three podcasts, landed an interview on regional TV, and cultivated deeper relationships with early adopters and investors.

Putting on my oxygen mask isn’t the act of desperation I once thought; it’s an act of grace that ensures I’m giving both me and my business the best circumstances in which to grow and thrive.

July 2022 marks one year since my daughter’s diagnosis. It continues to shock me how much I’ve changed as a person and an entrepreneur. And while I wish she didn’t have to go through so much, I’m mindful that the experience yielded a powerful transformation that boldly empowers me to bring Sleuth’s vision to life.

- Mike Eckstein
How a Small Marketing Agency Uses Buffer To Manage 10 Clients
How a Small Marketing Agency Uses Buffer To Manage 10 Clients

Enthusiasm, personality, accountability. According to Beccy Gibson, managing director at marketing agency Tempt, these characteristics can give a small agency the edge in delivering results for clients.

We spoke to Beccy about life as a marketing agency founder and how Buffer helps their team keep their clients happy.

Tell me a bit about your agency, Tempt, and how it came about?

I had worked both in-house and in agency teams for more than ten years, working with a whole range of brands. We started Tempt in 2018 with a vision to build a boutique-style agency that creates a spark in the industry, is influential, and partners closely with brands.

Today we manage 10 clients across various sectors but mostly hospitality and leisure brands. Social media marketing is a huge part of what we do for them, but we also help out with PR, branding, and events. It’s an exciting time to be working with clients, especially with hospitality brands that are coming out of a really tough time with the pandemic. The macro-environment still feels a bit shaky but with quality creative and thoughtful campaigns there are a lot of opportunities out there to cut through and make an impact.

The marketing agency world is a competitive space. How do you differentiate your own brand?

We’re a small, yet dedicated team, and we make it our purpose to deliver great outcomes, with full enthusiasm and accountability. Between the five of us, we have many years of marketing and PR experience, and when you combine that with our customer-focused attitude, we’re truly able to get results that our clients actually want. Not just in terms of brand-building but also driving a commercial impact and ROI - things like bookings or sales. We try to bring this to every collaboration, alongside new ideas and fresh approaches for the brands we work with. Overall our clients are happy as we’re a team that’s brimming with passion, personality, and accountability.

How a Small Marketing Agency Uses Buffer To Manage 10 ClientsThe Tempt team.

How does social media fit into the broader range of services that you provide?

We know that social media marketing is one of the best ways to build a community around a brand and connect with potential buyers. But from planning and content creation to influencer outreach and daily inbox management, the scope can be huge. Our strategic process involves auditing our clients’ digital presence, helping them set clear objectives, and then recommending content ideas across the most effective channels, setting the foundations to help their profiles grow. We support them in planning, content creation, and management for organic and paid social media campaigns.

Why did you decide to use Buffer rather than other social media management tools?

Buffer as a social media management tool was our preferred choice as it allows us to manage all of our client’s social media in one place. It’s really simple and user-friendly – the interface is nice. We use Buffer for scheduling, engaging, and pulling analytics reports.

What role does Buffer play in your day-to-day?

Buffer as a day-to-day tool is so important for us as it means that we can manage all of our client’s campaigns and allows us to plan content across numerous platforms well in advance. It has become part of our everyday work life and a go-to tool for not only scheduling but client analytics and reporting.

How a Small Marketing Agency Uses Buffer To Manage 10 ClientsTempt use Buffer to manage social media for multiple clients.

Do you have any favorite features?

Personally, the Buffer analytics tool has become a great asset for our social media management. The analytics in Buffer allows us to track client performance, analyze our posts, and report our results. This means that we can be transparent with our clients and ensure that our reporting is clear and concise. The efficiency of analytics reporting means that we can take learnings and adapt our future content to reflect those learnings.

How a Small Marketing Agency Uses Buffer To Manage 10 ClientsBuffer has a range of useful analytics reports.

What's the most effective or interesting social media strategy you've implemented this year?

From an organic perspective, our own brand refresh campaign has been really successful and well received. We took a very visual and informative approach to assets across socials and we’ve seen a huge spike in website visits off the back of it.

How a Small Marketing Agency Uses Buffer To Manage 10 ClientsThe Tempt website.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to a social media marketer that wants to build their own agency/freelancing business?

The best advice I can give is to show up with purpose and make sure client expectations are set from the beginning. The scope for what social media can include is massive, there’s so much involved – it’s all about outlining the finer details from the outset with the client.

Looking for a better way to deliver social media results for your clients? Buffer has the most intuitive scheduling, engagement, and analytics features with agency-friendly pricing. Learn more at https://buffer.com/agency.

- Tamilore Oladipo
How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert
How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert

A Google Business Profile is a hidden gem that many small business owners can use to their advantage. Just as search engine optimization can fuel your growth in the Google rankings, Google Business Profiles are another way to direct eyes from organic searches to your business.

We’ve highlighted the impact of Google Business Profiles for your business in Google’s search rankings. Now, we want to help you make the most of each post you put up on your Google Business Profile. So we interviewed Joy Hawkins, a GBP expert, on how to make your posts perform better. Joy shared a ton of tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your posts which we’ve included in this article.

Oh, and don't forget, you can now draft, schedule and share all of your Google Business Posts with Buffer. 🎉

Choose the right type of post to share

You can create four types of posts on your Google Business Profile :

What’s NewOfferEventCovid-19 Updates.

But Joy highlights two of them as being the most effective: Offer and Covid-19 posts.

With Offer posts, Joy theorizes that they perform so well because they have a different display than other post types.

“When you're looking on the Google Maps app, they [Offer posts] display way better than any of the other posts, and come with tags so they're a lot more visible. And I feel like most businesses are utilising the other types of posts in there but forgetting about offer posts.”

Joy recommends using Offer posts – even if you don’t have an offer for your customers – but with a unique and creative touch so it catches the customers’ eye.

Covid-19 posts may not be around for much longer and are limited in functionality (for example, they can only be displayed as text). But Joy says they are great for sending out updates that need to be communicated immediately. This is thanks to a feature called the knowledge panel, which is the box that shows up on the right side of the screen with all the information about a business. In the knowledge panel, a Covid-19 post has the highest placement. Joy says this feature makes it useful for all types of content.

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP ExpertHarvard Bookstore's use of the GBP posts in the Knowledge Panel

“So if you've got a message you need to get out urgently like office closure or a short-term discount, you can use a Covid-19 post – even though they're supposed to be about Covid-19.”

Use every available element to draw the reader’s eye

In any given post on your Google Business Profile (GBP), you have the option to include at least a title and accompanying text. So even though it’s optional, Joy recommends always including a title.

“Always make sure you add a title. It's an optional field, but we found that posts with titles got more clicks and more conversions.”

In addition, elements like emojis and images help with post performance and conversions. Emojis are particularly interesting – this study found that emojis increase customer engagement, when used for emphasis and in positive contexts. And they seem to work great for GBP posts as well – Joy’s research found that posts with emojis got twice as many clicks.

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP ExpertSource: Google Business Profile posts with emojis

“We found that a conservative amount of emojis help with post performance and conversions,” says Joy. “We weren't like listing six or seven emojis in a row. But having one or two that are relevant, helps catch people's eye.”

🖊️Tip: The Buffer composer comes with its own built-in emoji keyboard, so you can drop in some eye-catching emojis with ease.How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert

Another great way to draw attention is to show proof of work through before and after images if you have a business that lends itself to such. Joy mentions a lawn care client that showed the before and after images of a lawn they worked on that performed really well compared to their other posts.

“[That type of image] is really visually appealing. So if you can make use of an image that way that really helps performance as well.”

Include the keywords you’re already targeting

It’s important to note that your GBP posts don't help you rank for keywords. But if you're already ranking, sometimes it can help you show up in the search results for related keywords. So try including the keywords you're targeting on Google in your posts. Don’t be spammy about it (that can get you banned).

On thinking through your use of keywords, Joy advises, “Let's say, for example, you're State Farm doing a post about how much you'll save on auto insurance. Everyone already knows them for auto insurance, and they already rank for that keyword. So they would want to say something like, ‘Save up to 40% on auto insurance’ in a GBP post. And by including the keyword ‘auto insurance’ in there, it helps the post show up more in the search results for related keywords.”

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP ExpertScreenshot of the Local Pack

Joy also points out that Google will sometimes pull in a little piece of the post right in the search results in the Local Pack — the list of three that shows up with a map. These are little snippets that they sometimes will pull in with Google posts. And you can increase the odds of that happening by just ensuring that you utilize keywords in your posts.

Avoid including anything that Google has banned

One of the most important things to note about your GBP post is that they go through a review process. So, unlike other online publishing platforms where you can post and then be rejected, posts on your GBP must be approved before they appear on your Profile.

Joy recommends reviewing Google’s Business Profiles post policy for what (and what not) to include in your posts. Here are some things that Google might flag your post for:

Content that's irrelevant to the business or that has no clear association with the business – this also applies to links and visual content like images and videosSpammy-looking content: Anything that’s misspelled, poor-quality, or directing users to harmful or irrelevant sites and softwareInappropriate contentContent that contains private or confidential informationIncluding a phone number – Google recommends attaching a ‘Call Now’ button to your post that links to your verified phone numberProhibited content according to the guidelines

Joy also mentions that, unlike other social media sites, including hashtags in your post – which don’t help your content regardless – can get your posts rejected and should be avoided.

Treat your posts more like ads than social media

While they are a great way to organically connect with your customers, Joy says your Google Business Profile should be treated more like a way to advertise than a social media platform.

“It's very different than what you'd want to post on Facebook, for example. With social media, people will say often that you should post about things that will engage people, like your dog. But that’s not the case for Google posts – you need to use them for promotions,” Joy says “The worst performing posts are informational, ‘how-to’ posts because the people that are seeing it already know about you or why they need you.”

A better strategy is to think of your posts like coupons or magazine ads. “We had a car repair client that offered a $10 coupon off oil changes and that post got a lot of activity.” So if you’re selling a product of any kind, it could be beneficial to talk about any promotions, coupons, or the savings your customers could get from approaching you instead of any competitors they’ve come across.

🖊️Tip: Looking to learn more? Save your seat at our exclusive webinar to learn our 10 top tips for gaining customers with Google Business Profiles! Use your posts to stand out in the search results

Posts to your Google Business Profile can’t be optimized for search — rather, they enhance and support your existing SEO efforts. Traditional SEO has way more to do with your website and backlinks – that’s what helps you rank.

In a final word of advice from Joy, “It [Google Business Profiles] is more about grabbing somebody, once you've already got them. It doesn't get you there, it doesn't get you in front of people. Once you already rank, differentiating yourself from the other people you're ranking with, that's where Google posts can make a difference.”

🔌 Connect your Google Business Profile to Buffer and start publishing your own great posts today!  

- Phill Agnew
Grow Your Traffic Organically: Introducing Google Business Profiles
💡We're hosting an exclusive webinar where we walk through 10 ways to gain customers with your Google Business Profile. Only 500 seats available. Save your seat here. 👈Grow Your Traffic Organically: Introducing Google Business Profiles

There’s a way to organically grow your reach, your engagement, and your traffic—all without spending a cent.

Yet, 79 percent of brands ignore it.

What is it? Publishing regularly on your Google Business Profile.

Now, you’re probably thinking ‘what the heck is that?’ or ‘since when could you post on Google?’.

So, let’s start with a bit of background.

A Google Business Profile is the listing that appears when your search for a brand on Google. You’ve almost certainly seen these listings before.

Grow Your Traffic Organically: Introducing Google Business ProfilesThe Google Business Profiles for popular locations in London.

But, you might not know that businesses can publish posts on these profiles.

Posting regularly on your Google Business Profile helps grow your reach, your engagement, and your traffic.

And yet, 79 percent of brands don’t publish consistently.

We asked our customers why and they said: “it takes too much time”.

Today, that’s changing.

Introducing Google Business Profiles with Buffer

From today, you can draft, publish, and schedule Google Business Profile posts with Buffer.

Google Business Profiles comes available on the Buffer free plan. You can schedule up to 10 posts at any one time. Need more? All our paid plans let you schedule up to 2,000 posts.

Grow Your Traffic Organically: Introducing Google Business Profiles

But, before we get into how Google Business Posts can grow your brand, let’s first cover what they are.

Google Business posts are just like any other social post. Posts contain text, an image, and other information depending on what type of post you pick.

There are four types of posts:

What’s New: a standard text or image post to share an update.Offer: similar to a What’s New post but with a Start and End date and the option to add a coupon code.Event: similar to an Offer, but specifically for events.Covid-19 update: identical to the What’s New post, but specifically for updates related to Covid-19.Grow Your Traffic Organically: Introducing Google Business ProfilesThe four types of Google Business postsMaking customers 50% more likely to buy

If you haven’t published on Google Business before, then you’re missing out. There’s no shortage of evidence out there that proves publishing posts on Google Business Profiles is good for your business.

Google says keeping your profile up to date makes customers 50 percent more likely to make a purchase.Google Business expert, Joy Hawkins, has run tests to show that posting consistently boosts your traffic, engagement, and reach.And even though posts might not boost your rankings directly, they do drive traffic and visibility, both of which do ultimately help you rank higher.

Organic growth can be hard to crack, but Google Business posts offer a solution. Consistent posting helps you capture attention without spending a penny.

But how often should you post?

We suggest publishing at least once a week on your Google Business Profile for the following reasons:

After six months, posts disappear from a profile, so publish regularly to keep updates visible.Google will only pull justifications from posts published within 60 days.Only posts published within seven days appear on the Explore section of Google Maps.79 percent of top brands on Google don’t publish regularly, so there’s an easy opportunity to stand out from your competition.Only 1 out of 5 top profiles post regularly

Despite reams of reasons why brands should publish regularly, it appears that very few do.

While working on our integration, we analyzed 500 business profiles across five cities; London, Sydney, Delhi, Paris, and Toronto. (Note this research was inspired by Ben Fisher’s analysis. He focused his research in the USA so we purposefully chose cities outside of the States.)

After at looking 50 different sectors including mortgage providers, real estate agents, dentists, plumbers, injury lawyers, and more, we found that very few profiles posted regularly:

Only 20.4 percent had posted within the previous 30 daysOnly 43 percent had posted in the last year

79.6 percent of profiles didn’t post regularly. This surprised all of us. We wondered if it was one city region bringing down the average, so we broke it down.

Grow Your Traffic Organically: Introducing Google Business Profiles

But consistently, in cities across the globe, the majority of top profiles haven’t posted within the previous 30 days:

🇦🇺 Sydney = 73 percent of businesses didn’t post regularly 🇦🇨🇦 Toronto = 78 percent of businesses didn’t post regularly 🇮🇳 Delhi = 79 percent of businesses didn’t post regularly🇫🇷 Paris = 81 percent of businesses didn’t post regularly🇬🇧 London = 87 percent of businesses didn’t post regularly

This got us thinking, perhaps these businesses simply didn’t use Google Business Profiles. Would that explain the lack of posting?

So, we took a look at whether these same businesses also respond to Google reviews.

Turns out they do. The vast majority of businesses, respond to Google reviews via their business profile.

🇮🇳 Delhi = 55 percent of businesses respond to Google reviews🇬🇧 London = 61 percent of businesses respond to Google reviews🇨🇦 Toronto = 66 percent of businesses respond to Google reviews🇫🇷 Paris = 68 percent of businesses respond to Google reviews🇦🇺 Sydney = 72 percent of businesses respond to Google reviews

On average, 64.4 percent of businesses use Google Business Profiles to respond to reviews, yet only 20.4 percent publish posts consistently.

Take a look at the raw data here.

So, how come so few businesses post?

We asked our customers.

Dawn Stanyon, President at Professionality Consulting, said it’s just too time-consuming to switch between multiple social channels. “I haven't posted to Google Business Profiles as often because I have to go do it separately.”

Nial Philimore, Director at Imexpert, said the same, “sharing content across multiple social media channels and Google Business Profiles takes a lot of time.”

Grow Your Traffic Organically: Introducing Google Business Profiles

It’s not easy managing multiple different channels at once. Jumping between tabs to publish content across all of your networks just isn’t easy.

What’s more, publishing on Google is outside of a marketer's typical workflow. Marketers are already swamped—publishing on social, sending out newsletters, and updating our own blogs—we don’t have time to manage something else.

That’s why we’ve built a Google integration.

Now you can draft, publish, and schedule posts to your Google Business Profile using Buffer.

Get started for free today, and start scheduling your posts on Google.

- Kat Boogaard
I Run a Six-Figure Business, But Now I Want to Take a Pay Cut
I Run a Six-Figure Business, But Now I Want to Take a Pay Cut

I stared wide-eyed at my computer screen, frozen with disbelief. $306,055.05. That was the total revenue number I saw at the top of my profit and loss statement at the end of 2021.

Without a doubt, it was the biggest financial year my freelance writing business had ever had—both in total revenue and in net profit (which was right around $175,000 before taxes and retirement savings).

After a quick moment to pat myself on the back, I found myself facing the question that plagues every business owner: So…what’s next?

I knew what my plan was for the next few months: A three-month maternity leave to welcome my second son (so that high-earning year definitely came in handy to self-fund my own leave).

But what about after that? Should I start offering new services? Should I continue building a team of subcontractors to help with the work? Should I spin this into my own full-fledged content agency?

Traditional wisdom and hustle-obsessed posts on LinkedIn would nudge me in the direction of chasing more. More clients. More credibility. More projects. More money.

And yet, I’m doing the exact opposite. After my highest-earning year ever, I’m intentionally scaling back.

Blame it on burnout, the pandemic, or becoming a mom (or all of the above), but I’m craving more time and less stress. That nagging need for better balance started about a year ago, when I accidentally skipped completing a family art project for my son’s daycare. It remained forgotten on our kitchen counter because I was too swamped with work to sit down with him. I decided then and there to cut Fridays out of my workweeks.

That change helped me feel like my schedule was more aligned with my priorities. But, after adding another kiddo into the mix, I still felt strapped for time—even with my three-day weekend. So, I’ve taken things a step further. I’m saying goodbye to the long hours and working weekends that built my business and only working Monday through Wednesday for the foreseeable future.

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In some ways, it was an easy decision. It felt like the perfect way to get the best of both worlds. In other ways, it was a change I wrestled with, especially when so much of my identity is wrapped up in what I do for a living. Stepping back to part-time felt like admitting that I had failed miserably at “having it all.”

But, despite the challenges, the decision has taught me quite a few valuable lessons about growth, priorities, and that coveted work-life balance everybody is trying so hard to achieve.

Lesson #1: balance takes constant commitment

It often seems like work-life balance is a puzzle to be put together. A code to be cracked. As if it’s something that you figure out once, and after that, you can reap the rewards of a life that’s perfectly proportional.

That’s not the case for me. I’ve set a hard boundary of working only three days per week, but my responsibilities don’t magically fit inside of that container. Holding that line requires constant choice, commitment, and even sacrifice.

That’s the flip side of work-life balance that gets far less attention. Many people talk about what they’ve gained (and of course, there’s plenty of that), but it’s rare that they talk about what they’ve lost.

When I first scaled back my workweek, it meant parting ways with a retainer client I had worked with for over six years. That client made up about 20% of my income, but the nature of the work didn’t fit with my reduced working hours. I’d love to say that ending that arrangement felt like a symbolic rebirth of my business and a reset of my priorities, but the brutal truth is that it felt…well, terrifying.

I summoned my courage and did it anyway. That was the start of a series of tough (but necessary) decisions to make my ideal schedule a reality. Since then, I’ve turned down clients that were a great fit for me. Projects I was excited about. Paychecks that would’ve been meaningful. There are speaking opportunities I can’t accept, initiatives I can’t take part in, and ideas I can’t pursue—all because they simply don’t fit within the limitations I’ve set.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. I know that I’ve won more than I’ve lost. I have more time, more energy, and more patience (which was admittedly in short supply when I felt constantly burdened by an unreasonable workload). But the relentless trade-offs have shown me that work-life balance isn’t actually a finish line to be crossed—it’s the marathon itself.

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Lesson #2: I’m OK with a ‘middle ground’ business

So much business advice feels so… well, extreme.

You hear from people who boast about their unshakeable commitment to their companies and careers. They’re working 80-hour weeks and sleeping on their office floor, all in the hopes that their bank statements will someday look like lottery winnings.

And then you hear from the people on the other side of the spectrum. They had some sort of awakening, left high-powered careers, and now are living from a converted Sprinter van as they bounce between national parks.

And here I am, somewhere in the middle. The business (and income) I’ve worked so hard to build is still important to me, but it’s not going to consume all of my time, energy, and attention. That doesn’t mean I have a desire to leave it all behind either.

I’d love to say that I’m perfectly content hanging out between those two extremes, but it’s actually quite counterintuitive and inspires a hefty amount of restlessness for me.

To combat those anxious and itchy feelings, I set a goal: I want to earn somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 each month. Now, I use a spreadsheet to keep track of all of the projects I book for each month and, when I’ve reached my income goal, I stop accepting work. It’s a simple approach that helps me avoid overextending myself as a result of the, “Well…I might need the money…” trap.

I’ve found solidarity with many other business owners who are occupying my same middle ground. And I’ve come to embrace that, despite what clickbait would have us believe, it’s totally possible (and more than okay!) to run a moderately successful business—without it monopolizing my entire life.

Lesson #3: people aren’t paying much attention to my schedule

This thought was on repeat inside my head as I debated cutting back my workweek: But what if somebody—gasp!—emails me when I’m not there?

It feels so ridiculous to write out, but I can’t blame myself for feeling that way.

The constant connectedness of our world has often inspired a sense of allegiance to my inbox. Over the years, I’ve felt the need to be readily accessible and able to immediately jump on whatever red-alert-three-alarm-this-is-not-a-test emergency that might, potentially, maybe land on my desk (in eight years, I have yet to experience a real “blog post emergency,” by the way).

I tossed and turned over how I’d still be able to serve my clients if I was only signed on three days each week. Would they resent me? Would they opt for somebody else who could be reached at all hours?Here’s what actually happened: I cut my workweek back to three days and nobody even noticed.

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Yep. You read that right. I explicitly told a few clients about my new schedule when we needed to set up meetings. But, not a single soul has picked up on my adjusted workweek on their own. Or if they did? They certainly didn’t care enough to say something.

I fit my workload within my restrictions and respond to messages when I’m reasonably able to, and so far, we’re all alive to tell the tale.

When it comes to that sense of urgency most of us feel saddled with, it’s easy to point the finger at other people’s demands and expectations. But, it’s worth looking in the mirror. In my case, a lot of the pressure was self-imposed.

Lesson #4: I can’t always measure success by the numbers

As a business owner, “success” has always felt tough to wrap my arms around. After all, there are no defined career paths, promotions, performance reviews, and lofty company targets handed down from on high.

That means that numbers have often been the indicator I’ve used to review how the business is doing. Is revenue ahead of what it was last month? Last quarter? Last year? I’m on the right track. If not? I’d send pitches, pursue new work, and pack my schedule and workload to the brim.

I learned to love the quantifiable—and it’s that black-and-white perspective that would have me believe that 2021 was my most “successful” year in business.

And yes, it was my highest-earning year, but looking back, it wasn’t my most successful. In fact, I feel far more “successful” this year. I’m being more selective than I’ve ever been about what clients and projects I take on. I’m thinking strategically about the next steps in my business and making sure they’re aligned with my priorities. I’m taking time for things I enjoy that don’t have a paycheck attached to them. My kids and I potted some flowers and are caring for them. We take weekly trips to the library or playground. I’m trying out new recipes and started reading again.

Will I earn as much as I did last year? Nope. Probably not even close.

But at the end of the day, it’s all the other stuff that feels way more like “success”—even if the number on my profit and loss statement is smaller.

- Ash Read
24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content
24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Knowing you have to create new content for multiple social media channels every day can feel a little daunting, especially when you consider the range of disciplines needed to be successful.

Nowadays, every marketer and business owner has to be part designer, photographer, videographer, copywriter, and editor, among other jobs.

Thankfully, there are now a lot of easy-to-use tools out there to make these jobs more seamless for us all. What’s even better, with the right apps, you can create, publish, and analyze the performance of all your content with just one device –  your phone.

Small businesses are constantly on the lookout for faster, easier and more cost-efficient ways to create new content, nd our phones are now like all-in-one production studios, empowering us all to make world-class content using a range of simple-to-use apps.

In this post, we’ll share 24 social media apps that’ll help you create incredible social media content using just your phone.

Ready to jump in?

24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media ContentCreate:7 apps to help you shoot incredible photos and videos24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Phone cameras are now incredibly powerful and we wanted to share with you some apps to help you capture and create social media content from scratch.

Here are seven apps to get you started:

1. MuseCam

MuseCam is a great app to help you shoot and edit your photos on iOS. It features a bunch of professional feeling camera presets, manual camera controls, and advanced tools like HSL (hue, saturation, lightness) and Curves.➡️ Download Musecam for iOS ( currently $3.99)

➡️ Download Musecam for iOS ( currently $3.99)

2. VSCO

VSCO (formerly VSCO Cam) enables you to capture, edit, share and discover photos. The app features a bunch of high-quality filters to help you get the look you want and also offers a host of free editing tools like fade, clarity, skin tone, tint, sharpen, saturation, temperature and more, each with manual adjustments.

VSCO also has a VSCO X membership, which costs $19.99 per year for exclusive presets, more editing tools, and educational content.

➡️ Download VSCO for iOS or Android (free)

3.  Halide Mark II24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Halide is a unique camera app that focuses heavily on enhancing the experience of taking photos on mobile.

➡️ Download Halide Mark II for iOS (free, offers in app purchases)

4. Manual24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

If you’re looking for the ability to customize your photo-taking experience, Manual could be a great option. Manual enables you to adjust shutter speed, ISO, and exposure values to create the effect you’re after with ease.

Manual also gives you the option to capture images in RAW format, JPEG format, or both. If you choose RAW capture, you’ll be able to save images without compression, resulting in a higher-quality photo.

➡️ Download Manual for iOS (currently $3.99)

5. Camera+ 24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or someone who’s barely touched a camera, Camera+ can help you take beautiful photos.

Camera+ gives you the opportunity to set exposure separately from focus so that you can easily control how light or dark your shots come out. It also features a range of shooting modes, scenes, and pre-set effects.

➡️ Download Camera+ for iOS (free)

6. Camera FV-5

Camera FV-5 is one of the standout cameras available on Android. The app is based on a similar approach to DSLR cameras, putting photographic settings like ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, and metering at your fingertips.

➡️ Download Camera FV-5 for Android (currently $4.99 or free for the Lite version)

7. Spark Camera

Spark Camera is a fun way to capture photos and video in full 1080p HD for Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels. It also features easy access to advanced camera controls for FPS and stabilization, over 20 filters and the ability to trim, reorder and delete clips within a simple interface.

➡️ Download Spark Camera & Video Editor for iOS (free, offers in app purchases)

Edit:11 apps to bring your content to life24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Smartphone apps can also help you to edit your footage and photos, turning them into great social media posts in just a few taps and swipes.

Here are 11 apps to help you edit your content:

1. Splice by GoPro24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Splice is a free video editing app by GoPro. It is a powerful video editor with a lot of features (trim, crop, effects, transitions, titles, speed controls, animations, and more). It even has a library of free music and sound effects for you to use.

➡️ Download Splice for iOS (free) or Android (free)

2.  Adobe Creative Cloud Express24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Adobe creative cloud express was specially made to help content creators quickly and intuitively create a variety of graphics. The service offers tons of easy-to-use templates so you can create eye-catching designs in minutes, including logos, Instagram posts, and flyers. Creative cloud is available both on web and mobile, allowing users to make content on the go.

➡️ Download Adobe Express for iOS or Android (free)

3. FilmoraGo24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Filmora is a free powerful video editor that doesn’t put a watermark on your videos or limit the length of your videos. It comes with all the professional video editing features such as picture-in-picture, reverse play, slow/fast motion, and more. It is available on both Android and iOS devices.

➡️ Download FilmoraGo for iOS or Android (free)

4. Adobe Premiere Rush24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Adobe Premiere Rush is an all-in-one video tool. The app allows content creators to easily shoot, edit, and share their videos right on their social media. Premiere Rush offers a ton of fun and useful features – including transition graphics and animated titles –  to ensure your videos are always high quality.

➡️ Download Adobe Premiere Rush for iOS (free, with in-app purchases) or Android (free, with in-app purchases)

5. Vidlab24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

VidLab is an all-in-one photo editor that allows you to easily create professional videos. Add & animate text, artwork, music, and FX to your videos.

➡️ Download Vidlab for iOS (free)

6. GoDaddy Studio24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

GoDaddy Studio (formerly Over) is one of the most popular mobile apps for editing photos and videos. With Over, you can design social media posts, ads, posters, and more, using their customizable templates.

➡️ Download GoDaddy Studio for iOS and Android (free)

7. Layout

Layout (by Instagram) lets you easily combine multiple photos into a single image. Upload your photos, choose from a range of custom layouts, drag and drop photos to rearrange them, pinch to zoom, or pull the sides of each photo to adjust its size and get your layout just right.

➡️ Download Layout for iOS or Android (free)

8. Canva

Canva helps you create professional designs and graphics. Edit photos, add text, elements, stickers, borders, frames and more. There are also more than hundreds of professional templates you can tweak to suit your needs.

➡️ Download Canva for iOS and Android (free)

9. Priime

Priime is a tasteful photo editor developed in collaboration with some of the world’s top photographers. One of Prime’s killer features is its smart style filter recommendations based on your photo’s color palette, exposure, and more.

➡️ Download Priime  for iOS ($2.99)

10. Create24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

With Create, you can develop sophisticated designs and graphics; communicate ideas easily using images, typography, shapes, and icons; or draw your own shapes and lines. Create is awesome for adding graphics, text, and arrow to photos. You can create your own graphics, logos, and stickers from scratch using Create.

➡️ Download Create for iOS (free)

11. Snapseed

Snapseed is a powerful photo editing app by Google. You can edit pictures using swiping gestures to select different effects and enhancements or opt for an automatic adjustment of color and contrast.

➡️ Download Snapseed for iOS or Android (free)

Publish:6 apps to share your content across networks24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Once you’ve crafted the perfect piece of content, the next step is to publish it across your social media channels.

Here are five awesome apps to help you with publishing your social media content:

1. Buffer for iOS and Android24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Share and schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, , Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok – all from one place with Buffer.

Any link, text, photo, or video you want to share, just add it to Buffer. Your updates will automatically be scheduled and spaced out throughout the day to post to your favorite social networks. Plus, you can save drafts, create a custom posting schedule, or “post now” right inside the app.

Our mobile apps can help you:

Share to multiple Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, , LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok accounts from one place.Get analytics for each update you share: clicks, retweets, repins, likes, shares, mentions, and more.Schedule your posts automatically so you never have to worry about setting a time and date.Schedule your posts using a custom time to schedule for specific events or campaigns.Share from all of your favorite apps using our iOS extension. Including scheduling native retweets from Safari, Tweetbot, Twitter & more!

➡️ Download Buffer for iOS or Android (free)

2. Hootsuite

Use Hootsuite’s free mobile apps to schedule, publish, and monitor conversations from anywhere.

➡️ Download Hootsuite for iOS or Android (free)

3. Sprout Social

Manage all of your team’s social profiles from one mobile app—access your content calendar, mentions, and more from anywhere at any time.

➡️ Download Sprout Social for iOS or Android (free)

4. Meta Business Suite24 Best Social Media Apps to Help You Create Epic Social Media Content

Meta Business Suite helps you to manage activity on multiple Facebook Pages – including your Instagram page – all in one place.

➡️ Download Meta Business Suite l for iOS or Android (free)

5. Sendible

Maintain your presence on social media from your mobile. Publish content, manage posts, and review performance from anywhere.

➡️ Download Sendible for iOS or Android (free)

6. Later

With Later you can plan, schedule, publish, and analyze your posts using their all-in-one social media scheduling too. They offer three pricing tiers for individuals, growing teams, and multiple brands.

➡️ Download Later for iOS or Android (free)

Over to you

Thanks for checking out this post! We hope you find some of these social media apps useful for creating content on the go.

Which apps do you use for creating, editing, and publishing content? Shoot us a message on Instagram or Twitter and let us know!

- Tamilore Oladipo
Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online
What is Social Proof?Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

Social Proof is a series chronicling how ambitious individuals intentionally craft and grow their personal brands with the goal of inspiring anyone hoping to do the same. Social Proof has a double meaning — ‘to replicate the actions of others to get similar results’ and ‘to showcase the power of social media in growing a personal brand’. We hope to bring to light insights that can help you bring both meanings to life for your personal brand.

Welcome to the first installment of our new series Social Proof. We are kicking off with one of my favorite writers on the Internet – Fadeke Adegbuyi.

Fadeke is a prolific writer and repository of internet culture knowledge. Fadeke is currently a Lead Writer at Shopify and the mind behind Cybernaut, a personal favorite newsletter, as part of Every – a bundle of business-focused newsletters.

💡To follow or see more of Fadeke’s work, check out her Twitter, LinkedIn, and newsletter.

Fadeke has built a reputation as a content mastermind, formerly co-leading content strategy at Doist – the masterminds behind everyone's favorite to-do list –  to her current role at Shopify, where she works on editorial strategy and writes about entrepreneurs and creators. Her ability to understand and distill internet culture into engaging articles has crafted a distinct personal brand for her in that niche.

Not everyone will build their personal brand in the same way as Fadeke. Some people might choose to make YouTube videos or start a podcast. But there are lessons to be learned from every person’s journey— which is why we’re doing this series.

Through this interview (and more to come), we hope to bring to light insights that can help you on your journey to creating and growing a personal brand.

Let’s get to the interview.

🖊️This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: Thanks for joining me for Social Proof, Fadeke! What do you think about personal branding in general? Have you been quite intentional about yours? Would you even call it a personal brand?

“Personal brand” is a term that was thrown around a lot, especially in the early 2010s, but now feels a little outdated. And I think there's also a bit of hesitation about describing one's online presence and presentation as a personal brand. People cringe at the word, but in reality, everyone online has a personal brand. However you present yourself online, that's how your personal brand is perceived.

Q: So what word would you use to describe it instead?

I don't mind the term personal brand! I don’t use a specific term, but if I had to pick, I would say “online presence” or “social media presence.”

Q: Can you define your online presence slash personal brand? In three words or terms?

I would use the words: genuine, simple, and informal.

Genuine: I try to be as genuine as possible and not post things I don't feel aligned with.

Simple: I keep it pretty simple regarding the type of content I'm posting and the language I'm using.

Friendly/informal: I think there is an impulse to make your social media presence and your personal brand very polished, which can be a good thing depending on the person, but I tried just not to make it too stuffy and professional.

Q: What do you think about growing an online presence in general? Have you been quite intentional about yours since you started your career?

I work as a marketer and a content marketer and have professionally been in charge of growing brands and caring a great deal about metrics, numbers, and growth. So I don't apply those same parameters when I'm thinking about my own personal brand or my own personal social media platforms.

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

However, I think it is important to have an online presence and have a brand distinct from your employer. That's something that's always been important to me – having a presence online where I can share what I'm working on and what I'm interested in and, in turn, connect with people who are interested in the same things. And it also helps me have an inflow of hiring and collaboration opportunities.

A project I enjoyed working on was the Holloway Guide to Using Twitter, which details how to use Twitter and get the most out of it. I wouldn't say I follow all of the principles [in the guide], I’m definitely not as consistent as I could be, but I think they’re good principles and ones that I've observed others using to grow a personal brand.

Q: Would you say that social media has been a big part of how you’ve grown your career? And can you draw a direct line between what you did on social media and the opportunities that resulted from that?

Social media has been important for sharing my work and getting feedback. Putting your work out in the world can be impactful for career growth and can help bring opportunities your way.

I've written articles, posted them on social media, and had them resonate with others and perform well. And that has led to opportunities with other publications and editors reaching out to me and saying, “I liked this piece in your newsletter, I'd love for you to pitch us and write a piece.” I’ve also been offered opportunities for jobs, consulting, or freelancing. Those are all things that directly result from my posting on social media.

In the process, everyday creators are building differentiated personal brands outside of a single employer. This can lead directly to professional opportunities that make a career anti-fragile. pic.twitter.com/dwn1kl5yKm

— Fadeke Adegbuyi (@fadeke_adegbuyi) March 22, 2022

One of the things that I think is important about building a personal brand, in general, is if you do awesome work at a company, and nobody hears about it outside of your work, that can be limiting career-wise. We're at a point in the economy where we're seeing a downturn, an impending recession, and layoffs across companies. Social media can be a very impactful way to get your work out there.

Q: Which do you prefer — social media or newsletters?

I like both, and I think they both have different purposes. With my newsletter, I'm writing pieces that lean into long-form writing and are anywhere from 2000 to 5000 words. So there are a lot of nuances that can be explored and many dimensions that can be fleshed out.

But on social media, your character count is limited, so I think there is a bit of an incentive to make things more black and white, to write things that are snappier and less nuanced. So I think it's interesting to play with the two and have both platforms at your disposal.

Q: Are you ever actively thinking about growing your presence in numbers? Or are you more concerned with the quality of your engagement?

I generally don't track growth and engagement across my posts. So for social media, I'm more thinking about, “How do I describe my work in a way that it's compelling? How can I connect with interesting people?” It’s less about metrics and numbers.

Q: I think it's interesting how you can balance your collected knowledge with the need to serve Every’s typical business audience. How do you cultivate that knowledge, understanding internet culture so deeply? And then balance that with serving the audience that might primarily encounter your work on your newsletter Cybernaut?

When I'm thinking about writing a piece and exploring one of these online spaces, I'm not necessarily thinking about a business audience specifically.  When I'm thinking about Cybernaut, and writing about internet culture for Every, I'm also thinking about expanding our audience and pushing past our existing base of subscribers.

Across my newsletter subscribers, I have a mixed bag of people reading it across media, business, and venture capital – it would be quite challenging to appeal to all those different segments. I'm really just focused on writing the best piece possible and creating something compelling and interesting.

I wrote a review of Everything I Need I Get From You, a forthcoming book about fandom!It’s a look into One Direction’s rise to online fame, the fangirls who propelled them to the top, and a wider exploration of how fandom has shaped the internet.https://t.co/12RJ5ayJeo

— Fadeke Adegbuyi (@fadeke_adegbuyi) June 13, 2022

And I think that if you're focused on that, everyone can find a piece of that article that they might find compelling. They might be interested in the social media aspect or some of the human stories there. I aim to write the best piece possible and hope it finds an audience of people who are just as interested in internet culture as me.

Q: You’re a content creator with a big emphasis on productivity — how do you balance staying productive with building your personal brand?

That is a challenge I always run up against. I love being online, but at the same time, it can be a big distraction.

I've written extensively about the power of focus and flow and the importance of moving away from context switching toward deep work. So I have a bunch of tools in my arsenal that allow me to unplug from social media. I use a site blocker, Self Control, and an app, RescueTime – they help me regulate how much time I spend online.

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

If you are very online, and have a job where you're required to maintain some level of awareness of what's happening online, be intentional about having periods where you're unplugging and creating work versus trying to multitask and do both at the same time.

Q: You’ve been working remotely for a long time, and there’s a camp that believes career growth can be negatively impacted by remote work. Would you say remote work has helped or hurt your access to opportunities?

I wouldn't say remote work necessarily hurts or helps. But I think there is some truth to the idea that remote work can be a bit of a blocker in building professional connections and a strong work peer group if you are early in your career.

As much as I love remote work, I think there are limitations, and it's hard to beat in-person interaction. Something important for me all the years I've worked remotely is being intentional about building those connections while working remotely and living outside a big city center.

I think building a personal brand can be a big part of that. Creating content about what you do and sharing it online can be a form of inbound marketing. Building a personal brand that allows you to connect with the people you want to can be more important if you're working remotely.

Q: What advice would you give yourself if you were just building a personal brand from scratch?

“If you're not putting yourself out there in terms of going into an office and having a presence at an in-person job, you have to put yourself out there in another way.”

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

Putting yourself out there might mean building a social media presence, it might mean writing a newsletter or writing a blog, or it might mean building an online community. But to progress professionally, it’s helpful to surround yourself with ambitious people, including people who are a few steps ahead of you. Social media can be a really powerful way to do that.

Q: How have you cultivated that community for yourself?

I've joined a handful of online communities over the years. The Grand is a great one for career growth, Superpath is wonderful for content marketers, and On Deck for everything from writing to entrepreneurship. And of course Every, our writer collective which includes a Discord community for paid subscribers. I also love Twitter. Those are all places online where I've been able to meet fantastic people and that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to if I wasn't intentional about seeking out community online.

Q: What would you say is the future of personal branding/growing an online presence?

I think we are in a phase where people are allergic to “professionalism” and content that doesn't feel genuine. Anyone building a personal brand should lean into authenticity while finding the balance between that and oversharing, which can be a tough balance to strike. We’re also seeing this form on “influencer creep” where it’s almost a prerequisite at this point to maintain some level of an online presence and bring visibility to your work. We’ll see more people trying to navigate that.

Takeaways

If you’re looking to create a distinct voice for yourself online like Fadeke has, here are some important things to remember.

Separate your identity from your employer’s. Fadeke says, “It’s important to have a brand that's distinct from your employer. That's something that's always been important to me – having a presence online where I can share what I'm working on and what I'm interested in and, in turn, connect with people who are interested in the same things.”Be vocal about your work. If you do awesome work at a company, and nobody hears about it outside of your work, that can be limiting career-wise. Want to know how to position yourself on different platforms? Check out this article.Experiment with different platforms on your journey to building a cohesive personal brand. Whether adopting longer-form writing through a newsletter, Twitter Notes or creating video content, try out different things as you explore what format best shows off your work and personality.

📍Once you’re ready to grow your distinct online presence, check out Buffer for easy automated scheduling and publishing!

- Umber Bhatti
How this influencer created a safe space for young women through her small business
How this influencer created a safe space for young women through her small business

If you ask Instagram influencer Ambar Driscoll about her organization, “Bamby Collective,” she’ll make it clear that while the group does have some of the makings of a small business – they’ve launched a signature product, their brand revolves around a central tenet, and their following consists of many who love their mission  –  it’s really about creating a safe space for young women everywhere.

In fact, in Bamby Collective's first ever Instagram post, the caption reads: We’re an online community & safe space for girls + young women to talk openly, seek advice, be motivated, learn self-care and be uplifted

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A post shared by bamby collective (@bambycollective)

Ambar started the Collective in 2019 not because she had a spark for an innovative product or has a ton of business savvy, but because she benefited from online spaces in the past. Specifically, Ambar had used a fitness app that, along with providing users with exercises and workouts, also included a communal aspect where girls could connect and support each other. But, to access this space, individuals had to pay a subscription fee. This got Ambar thinking of how to recreate a similar space for others.

“I just wanted to have an accessible community for any young woman from anywhere, with any background, to be able to join and have that community aspect for free,” she said.

But before the idea for the group came together, Ambar was already known by hundreds of thousands of followers. Though she initially was thrust into the public spotlight because of her relationship with YouTuber Casper Lee, Ambar quickly made her own name for herself on social media. In particular, users resonated with her openness about body positivity.

Ugne Jurgelenaite, a 24-year-old Bamby Collective member based in London, initially came across Ambar through Caspar’s content, but said she ultimately followed Ambar because of her body positivity posts. Ugne was able to relate to Amber’s content as it was one of the first times she saw this particular message being spread by someone who wasn’t necessarily plus sized. One post in particular, where Ambar exposed how her stomach looks naturally without flexing, caught Ugne’s eye.  

“Instagram was – and still is – such a place where you think all of these people have these amazing bodies,” she said. “But it’s like wow, [Ambar’s] not afraid to show that.”

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A post shared by Ambar Miraaj Driscoll (@ambardriscoll)

Talking openly about her body wasn’t always easy for Ambar. For years, she had struggled with disordered eating and even had an eating disorder. But eventually, she found comfort in other Instagrammers who were posting content revolving around body positivity which in turn helped the influencer heal and develop a more positive self esteem. She then realized she could be sharing similar content to her 269,000 followers.

“I thought, well, if this is the content I'm enjoying and if I've got kind of a large following, and yet, none of my content is showing my vulnerabilities then I just didn't want to be one of those people who [their followers] compare themselves to without seeing the real vulnerable sides beyond that.”

And while Ambar was already helping girls like Ugne through her personal account, the itch to build something bigger that would go beyond herself and develop into a network of like-minded young women fueled her to launch Bamby Collective.

It started with a Facebook Group

Ugne’s first venture into Bamby Collective, like most members, was through the private Facebook group. Though she had been following several other Facebook groups – including one for girls new to London – she was surprised at how active and engaged Bamby Collective’s members were. On any given day, you could find posts asking for relationship advice, on body positivity, and moving tips. But no matter what the conversation revolves around, Ugne said members are always kind and helpful to one another.

This supportive and open environment was exactly what Ambar had envisioned early on. But even she was taken aback by how quickly members were able to connect with each other despite never having met.

“It's quite touching seeing girls share their vulnerable sides on Bamby,” she said. “So many are quick to offer support, help, or just be someone to talk to. So it's amazing seeing the impact Bamby has had on members’ mental health just through the support of other girls.”

Though Bamby Collective initially launched in late 2019, it closely coincided with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic — something that feels like divine timing for Ambar. At a moment when many people were dealing with lockdowns, limited social gatherings, and just feeling isolated in general, having an online space like Bamby became a great outlet for those who were stressed by the pandemic.

While a ton of Bamby Collective members happen to be based in or around London, where Ambar herself resides, this online community includes young women from all over the world, allowing participants to bond and connect with people they normally wouldn’t have a chance to meet. For Ugne, scrolling through her Facebook feed and seeing the various posts from the group has been a positive addition to her social media routine.

“Girls are not afraid to just post there and everyone is very supportive,” Ugne said. “No one's ever gonna judge you. It is a friendly, safe space.”

Shifting from online spaces to IRL events

Asides from networking through the Facebook group, Bamby Collective members are also invited to online gatherings, including monthly Zoom book clubs and Netflix parties where the girls could watch a movie together virtually and chat through the comments.

But once Covid restrictions eased, Ambar was keen to create in person opportunities for members to meet and develop deeper relationships with one another. The group has had several meetings including an ax throwing event, puppy yoga, and a galentines art event.

Oftentimes, Bamby members arrive to events solo, with the hopes of connecting with others there. Showing up to events by themselves is just one example of the ways Bamby Members are able to express their vulnerabilities.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by bamby collective (@bambycollective)

“The events are amazing. Most of the girls come on their own, which I think is quite a brave thing to do,” said Ambar. “I feel like in our culture, meeting up with a stranger to date is so normalized, but it's not [normalized] to meet up to make friends.”

Initially, Ugne held herself back from going to a Bamby meet up for this very reason – she had no one to go with. But after connecting with some girls via the Facebook group, she ventured to her first in person event: puppy yoga.

She even attended Bamby Collective’s first ever overnight retreat this July. Ugne had such a great time hanging out with other Bamby members that she and a group of girls she met from the retreat are now planning to have their own personal getaway. As someone who recently moved, this community has provided Ugne with opportunities to meet new people.

“I moved to London nine months ago. So besides people at work, or my flatmates, I didn't know many people and now I definitely have a wider network through going to these [Bamby] events. I've gained a few new acquaintances and friends.”

How this influencer created a safe space for young women through her small businessUgne (far left) and other Bamby Collective members at the group's first overnight retreat

And while meeting other members has been a highlight for Ugne, being able to connect with Ambar has also been a positive experience for her especially because of how relatable she says the influencer is.

“The first time [meeting Ambar] was kind of intimidating. But she's super friendly to everyone and makes everyone feel very welcomed. She’s very down to earth and not intimidating at all.”

Bamby Collective's positive affirmation jewelry

In line with Bamby Collective’s mission to provide an encouraging sisterhood for young women, Ambar launched a jewelry collection of positive affirmation bracelets. Customers could purchase the delicate bracelets in either style – “I am enough,” and “I am strong.” Creating these products was something Ambar had been thinking of doing even before she started the collective as these phrases were mantras for her growing up.

“My mom is an art therapist and she's always been really big on gratitude,” Ambar said. “And she's always used positive affirmations. So ‘I'm strong’ and ‘I'm enough' literally come from her and the impact that had on me, and seeing the power that words can have.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by bamby collective (@bambycollective)

Implementing these affirmations into her daily routine has allowed Ambar to reverse negative thought patterns and helped her live a more balanced, healthy life. While she was excited to release these products so her followers could benefit from these affirmations, she was also cautious. The influencer said she never wants to make Bamby Collective members feel like she is trying to profit off of them.

This is why it was also important for Bamby Collective to donate 5 percent of proceeds from the jewelry collection to Imkaan – a UK organization with the mission of addressing violence against Black and minority ethnic girls and women.

In this way, Ambar is thoughtful and deliberate in everything she shares with her fans – including her love for exercise. Recently, the influencer has participated in multiple marathons and has incorporated long-distance running into her daily routine. Still, she is careful to not send the wrong message about working out and has made it clear that she exercises for her mental health and not to obtain a slimmer body.

“I think [exercise] is such a life hack,” she said. “If I'm feeling like sh*t, and then I go for a run –  I feel 10 times better afterwards.”

The Future of Bamby Collective

Currently, most Bamby Collective events are centralized to London, but Ambar was able to host one event in Cape Town, South Africa as she has a ton of fans there because of her boyfriend Caspar’s South African heritage.  

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A post shared by bamby collective (@bambycollective)

Hosting more gatherings outside of London is a goal for Amber as she would love for Bamby Collective to grow. She envisions that one day the organization could even have multiple locations throughout the world –  Bamby Collective hubs in big cities. And while Ambar plans to be closely involved in these potential locations, she is also comfortable with, eventually, allowing them to be run by local Bamby leaders.

In this way, Ambar wants the focus to be on the individuals who make up the collective, and not on her. A sentiment that Ugne can already relate to.

“It's nice to meet Ambar but the community isn't about, ‘let's meet Ambar,’” she said. “It's about, ‘Let's get together as a community of strong women.”

- Umber Bhatti
How These Small Businesses Give Back: Real Examples From 5 Businesses
How These Small Businesses Give Back: Real Examples From 5 Businesses

Your small business is the perfect outlet for your passion and creativity. With your products and services, you’re able to positively contribute to your customers’ lives. Simultaneously, your company can also be a great channel for championing a cause that you and your team care about. Through your brand, website, and social media channels, you have a platform that can be utilized for making an impact. Small businesses that include a charitable component to their brand can benefit both personally and professionally.

Consumers want to support businesses that stand for causes they feel strongly about. A 2021 survey found that 63 percent of individuals preferred purchasing from purpose-driven businesses. By bringing awareness to a social issue and organizing around it, you can feel more fulfilled as an individual, while also providing more substance to your brand. It’s a win-win situation as you'll draw in more customers while contributing to a social cause you’re invested in.

You may be unsure how exactly to go about supporting an initiative, but these five businesses will surely inspire you. At the heart of each of these brands are important social causes. And while providing quality products is their job – they’ve  also made it their mission to make a difference in their communities.

A Dozen Cousins provides yearly grants to organizations providing food education

Founded in 2017, A Dozen Cousins is a Black-owned and family-run business that sells three core food products: packaged beans, bone broth rice, and seasoning sauces. Each item is made with clean ingredients while still maintaining their Caribbean, creole, and Latin flavors. On their website, the small business states their goal is, “to inspire families of all backgrounds to eat better food and live longer, more vibrant lives.” A huge part of their mission is providing everyone with quality food, regardless of their income level.

A Dozen Cousins is already dismantling barriers to healthy eating by selling nutritious, affordable, and quick meal options. But the company is going one step further by also awarding a grant to a nonprofit organization each year that is working with individuals to eliminate, “ socio-economic health disparities in the US.”

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A post shared by A Dozen Cousins (@adozencousins)

Since 2019, the small business has supported the following organizations: The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre, Project Potluck, Los Angeles Community Fridges, and Hike Clerb. Each of these initiatives has the goal of dismantling barriers to healthy eating, making food education more accessible, and connecting people of color back to nature. By partnering with like-minded organizations and providing them with monetary funds, A Dozen Cousins is able to act on their mission to bring more awareness around healthy diets to all.

If you don’t have the bandwidth to start your own initiatives, consider partnering with a local nonprofit that is already doing the work. Rather than make a one-time or occasional donation, you can set up a grant program every year as A Dozen Cousins does. This also ensures you’re supporting a variety of nonprofits instead of just one.

Kola Goodies highlights Sri Lanka’s crisis via social media

When Kola Goodies was created back in 2020, CEO and founder Sajani had a goal to infuse her Sri Lankan heritage into healthy and nutritious blends for all to enjoy. The small business currently sells three teas – a super green latte, turmeric milk tea, and Sri Lankan milk tea – which were all inspired by Sajani’s home country. But as Sri Lanka plunged into an economic and political crisis, Sajani made it a priority to support her country and documented it through Kola Goodies’s crisis relief page.

Sajani first used the company’s Instagram and TikTok accounts to bring awareness to what was happening back in Sri Lanka – an issue that wasn’t getting a ton of attention in the States until just recently. After posting about the situation, Kola Goodies’ social media was filled with questions from customers who wanted to help.

@kolagoodies Let’s talk about what’s happening in #srilanka, as a brand that was born out of the rituals I grew up with in Sri Lanka and with a mission to give back home and to communities across South Asia who has grown and used these ingredients for centuries, it’s a miss to not talk about what’s really happening to those communities because they are hurting the most right now. We are continuing to support through sending foreign currency back home. # #giveback #ethicalsourcing #kolagoodies #wellness ♬ original sound - Kola Goodies

In response to their followers’ inquiries, Kola Goodies held several initiatives to raise funds for Sri Lanka including a pop-up shop in San Francisco where they donated 10 percent of proceeds to support two Sri Lankan organizations – Ghedora Connects and Tamarind Gardens farms to supply 275 meals to low-income families.

On top of that, 100 percent of proceeds from their muse sticker – hand drawn by a Sri Lanka artist – also went to supporting Sri Lankan families. While Sajani started these initiatives back in March of this year, Kola Goodies has continued to fundraise. They’ve also made all of this information easily accessible through their Sri Lankan crisis relief page on their website.

Kola Goodies took several steps – hosting a pop-up shop, selling their muse stickers, and donating proceeds to benefit Sri Lanka – and it all stemmed from the initial video about the crisis they cross-posted onto TikTok and Instagram. If you don’t know how to go about supporting a cause, simply sharing a message highlighting the cause on your social media – just like Sajani did – is a great way to start.

Arctic Haven Studio donates proceeds to a wildlife conservation

At the core of Arctic Haven Studio – a small business run by sisters Anna and Kelly – is the love for the Alaskan wilderness. The duo creates stunning art prints all rooted in the Alaskan nature they grew up in. Unlike most common art styles, the sisters use hand-cut paper to make their designs come to life. Each piece is inspired by their real-life experiences, like encountering a lynx while hiking, which they turned into this art piece made from over 500 scraps of paper.

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A post shared by Arctic Haven Studio (@arctichavenstudio)

Not only do Anna and Kelly hope to bring people closer to nature through their prints, but they also want to give back to the very environment that raised them. The small business donates 10 percent of their proceeds to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC). The Center takes in injured animals and rehabilitates them while also providing them an environment where they can still act true to their nature.

After only eight months of business, Arctic Haven studio raised nearly $1,000 for the nonprofit. And even more, the small business also supports the environment by embedding sustainability into their craft, only using recycled materials.

Choosing one single cause that is tremendously close to your heart – as the Conservation Center is to Anna and Kelly – and regularly donating a portion of your proceeds to them is a great and simple way to show your support for an important cause. If you don’t feel comfortable with initially donating 10 percent like Arctic Haven Studio, try going for something smaller like 5 percent. Anything can make a difference.

Ami Ami creates an Instagram fundraiser for abortion rights

Influencer Alison Wu is known for her food blog Wu Haus, and she's also co-founder of the up-and-coming food brand Ami Ami which sells three distinct spice blends. Some of her flavors are inspired by Egyptian cuisine and as a way to give back, Ami Ami donates a portion of their proceeds to Heya Masr – an Egyptian organization that works to empower and support local girls and women.  

But both Alison and Ami Ami have raised awareness for other causes as well. The food blogger posted a video on Instagram supporting abortion rights in response to the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In the video, she called on her followers to donate to organizations fighting for reproductive rights. Alison also created an Instagram fundraiser and linked it to her video.

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A post shared by alison wu (@alison__wu)

Specifically, Alison chose to donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds and shared the fundraiser on both her personal Instagram page and Ami Ami’s business account as well. In the last three weeks, Alison has been able to raise over 5,000 dollars – halfway through her goal.

Social media is a great way to rally support around important issues and now most platforms have made it even easier by allowing users to create fundraisers for nonprofits at the touch of a button.

While services like GoFundMe are still useful, being able to make a fundraiser and connect it to your Instagram accounts in minutes really streamlines the process. Once you’ve created a fundraiser, it will be shown at the top of your IG account in mobile view, almost like a pinned post, letting your followers know it’s the main priority for you.

How These Small Businesses Give Back: Real Examples From 5 BusinessesHow These Small Businesses Give Back: Real Examples From 5 BusinessesYour Instagram fundraiser will be at the top of your page and visible to all of your followers

The IG fundraiser essentially acts as a giant call to action. It’s more direct than simply making a post and directing people to your link-in-bio because, with an IG fundraiser, your followers can donate right through Instagram.

If your small business is especially active on Instagram, creating a fundraiser on the platform is a great way to highlight a specific cause.

Circular&Co. donates their products for an honorable cause

Circular&Co. is a UK business on a mission to reduce pollution and harmful waste that goes into the ocean. They sell reusable mugs with a “circular design” and use waste materials to make their products.    

The small business partnered with Leave No Trace Brighton, a community run organization that works to preserve Brighton’s coastal and marine environment. During an event at the Brighton train station, Leave No Trace Brighton met with community members and asked them to take “The Brighton Pledge,” and agree to live more enviornmently friendly lives. In doing so, individuals were able to buy a reusable NOW cup from Circular&Co. as a way to show they'll be incorporating more sustainable practices into their routines.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Circular&Co. (@circularandco)

In their Instagram post, Circular&Co. said they donated 96 of their cups for the event and 100 percent of the proceeds went back to Leave No Trace Brighton.

Providing your products is a great way for your business to give back without having to spend any additional money. Circular&Co.’s mission aligns so well with Leave No Trace Brighton's that it made sense for their NOW Cups to be sold at this event. If you’re not in a position where you can donate your products for free, consider donating your time and volunteering for an organization.

There are so many ways you can use your small business as a vehicle for positive social change! While most avenues revolve around providing financial support, we hope these examples have inspired some other ways to give as well. Remember, even speaking out about an issue is a free way to educate your followers about something important.

At Buffer, we’re passionate about giving back and are always on the lookout for new initiatives to support.

Do you have a charity, cause, or organization that you’re fond of? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram!

- Chris Norton
What I’ve Learned About Getting Clients 11 Years into Running a PR and Social Media Agency
What I’ve Learned About Getting Clients 11 Years into Running a PR and Social Media Agency

In early 2011, I decided to take a massive leap of faith and do something I had been putting off for quite some time—quit a stable job and start my public relations agency. I knew this would be challenging. But, I wasn’t ready to live with the regret of not trying. So, on I went and launched Prohibition PR. What a ride this has been.

I started with a small personal blog discussing new social media trends and issues. Lucky for me, blogging wasn’t as competitive as it is today. Back then, you just needed to write a good blog and have it optimized correctly. That brought in decent traffic. It’s also through the blog that I got my first few clients. Now we’ve grown into a medium-sized PR and social media agency.

After over a decade of running the agency, I would love to say that I’ve mastered the “agency life.” But that would be far from the truth. I still get surprises now and then. Clearly, I don’t know everything, and there’s still a lot to learn. However, I’ve picked critical lessons along the way that I would like to share with you in this post.

Let’s jump right in.

1. Network with creative people

Networking is one of the most interesting lessons I learned in the first few years of running a PR and social media agency. And not for the obvious reasons everyone knows about. Sure, networking is a great way to establish business connections and acquire clients. However, when you network with the right people, the benefits go well beyond that.

For starters, you get exposure to how other people run their businesses. Over the years,  I’ve interacted with public relations experts, marketers, entrepreneurs, journalists, and other professionals. While most share many similarities, they also run their businesses differently. So why is all that important?

The exposure has helped me learn so much about how different industries operate. Not only that, but I’ve also gained insights into how other entrepreneurs operate their businesses. These insights have been instrumental in creating bold social media PR campaigns for our clients. In addition to that, they shaped my leadership approach in our PR and social media agency.

What does all this mean, though? Drop the tunnel vision, and look at networking through a wider lens. Most professionals think of networking as an opportunity to get connections for potential partnerships. Or receive “hacks” that’ll help them land more clients. I have no problem with any of that. But, there is much more to gain from good networking.

Good networks give you fresh ideas and open your mind to greater things. Naturally, this will benefit your company and the clients you want to help. But that’s not all.

I must also point out that not every event you attend will lead to real business or connections. I’ve attended and spoken at lots of real-life networking events over the years. But, honestly, most of them were just terrible.

That was especially the case back in the early 2010s when social media marketing was not as mainstream as it is today. So I would get to the stage and describe how social media is vital to stand out and much cheaper than traditional marketing, but most people were still not ready to pay attention to the channel.

To cut the long story short, networking is vital, and attending events is key. However, I’ve learned first-hand not to rely on these events completely. They won’t be the magic bullet you need to take your agency to the next level. At least not all of them. That’s why it’s also wise to rethink your networking strategy.

Adopting a multifaceted networking strategy can prove very helpful, for example. That means going beyond the common industry-specific seminars and tradeshows. You’ll need to explore other networking events like career fairs, community service groups, and alumni meetups.

2. Always be accessible to your clients and team

It’s fair to say that every agency strives to grow and to have a stable supply of satisfied clients. But unfortunately, as agencies grow and acquire more clients, it becomes easier to lose sight of the importance of maintaining a personal touch with every client. And honestly, it truly gets harder to stay in touch with every client when what started as a solo adventure grows into a massive agency with dozens of clients – I’ve seen this first hand.

When I started Prohibition PR in 2011, it was pretty easy to maintain that spark with my handful of clients. But as time passed and more clients came on board, the whole thing became more challenging. Having worked with international consultancies, I can also tell you that even larger companies with more resources struggle to stay accessible to their clients. And that’s a huge problem.

Like B2C customers, your agency’s clients need that personal touch. They need to feel valued. Having access to you through email, SMS, or a cloud-based telephone are some of the effective ways of reassuring them. Fail to deliver that, and another agency will come along and take your clients without breaking a sweat.

That’s why it’s so important to be good at time management. You have to create time for your clients. And when your baby agency grows into an adult, you’ll want to invest in qualified client account managers immediately. Train them to ensure they live and breathe your brand values. But more importantly, keep your doors open. Make yourself accessible to your employees because they are a vital connection to your clients.

Speaking of employees, I’ve always believed that agencies should strive to win awards to attract the best talents. When I started the agency, I wanted to win an award as soon as possible. I wanted to have an easier time attracting the best talents, and I knew candidates would want to join a growing and winning agency. So I worked hard and went the extra mile for our clients. As a result, the agency started earning recognitions, and now we are PRCA’s Best Medium-Sized PR consultancy of 2022.

3. Accept criticism

Embracing criticism is one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned over the years. Of course, that’s to be expected, especially in the PR world. But I didn’t expect that I’ll explain to clients that they need to grow a thick skin and learn to embrace criticism.

A good PR and social media agency can manage a crisis and build your brand image. Make no mistake about that. But what they cannot do is make your brand immune to criticism. No one can do that. So even if you deliver the best in class services, there will always be a customer with some criticism. And it could be legitimate or not.

But here is the thing. You don’t have to fight criticism because your agency can benefit from it. I’m talking about meaningful and constructive criticism – when a client complains about a product that failed to do this or that. Or your customer support is taking too long to pick up calls. This criticism can help you improve your product and refine the client experience.

Therefore, learn to accept criticism. Have the confidence to own up to complaints raised by clients—even more so when it's done publicly. Then, be swift at responding to the criticism and showing what you’re doing to resolve the problem permanently.

Check this out:

What I’ve Learned About Getting Clients 11 Years into Running a PR and Social Media AgencySource

Major brands like Apple have done this before when they faced criticism. For example, in 2015, Taylor Swift criticized Apple for not paying artists whose music was streamed during a user’s free trial. Apple owned up and issued a public apology through senior vice president Eddy Cue. In addition to the apology, they fixed the issue.

But there’s another perspective to all this. Sometimes agencies find themselves in trouble because they promise something they cannot deliver. This is particularly a problem with newer agencies that are too desperate to impress and acquire clients. You promise to grow a client’s revenue by X percent within a few weeks. The client gets impressed and comes on board. Then, you fail to deliver on your promise, and the client feels cheated.

Impressing potential clients with wild targets can help you acquire a few customers, but it’s not a sustainable strategy. Too often, the client gets disappointed and starts talking to other people about their experience. That’s why I always advise agency owners to be honest. Don’t promise the world to the client just to secure that paycheck. Experienced clients will see right through your lies. And those who don’t will be disappointed when you ultimately fail to deliver. Either way, you’re not doing your agency or brand any favors.

4. Pulse check your business with client surveys

Do you know what’s worse than losing a client? Losing a client out of the blue. It’s one thing for a client to end a contract after a few rough months with them. It’s something else when a client suddenly ends a contract.

Your business is taking a hit in both cases. However, the latter scenario may signal a bigger problem. You’re not doing enough to track the satisfaction of your clients and the overall performance of your business.

Failing to evaluate your business and clients allows performance issues to creep in. Worse still, these issues will fall through the cracks. And that’s when you start seeing clients raising a long list of issues spanning several months. Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to retain such clients at that point.

To ensure your agency is on the right track, you must continuously evaluate your performance and client happiness. Better yet, allow your clients to evaluate your business. And you don’t even need a long client survey for this. In fact, in my experience, I’ve found shorter client surveys to be more effective. I’m talking 2-3 questions max.

First and most important, you want to know how happy the client is. You could pose this as a question or use other variations. For example, how likely are you to recommend our services? Let the client pick an answer on a scale of 0 to 10.

A happy client will always pick a high number. For unhappy clients, you’ll want to handle the root cause of their unhappiness swiftly. For example, I would consider clients unhappy if they pick any number from six going down.

The follow-up question should give you qualitative data. What can we do better? This open-ended question will provide you with tons of data to work with. Use the answers to improve the customer experience and satisfaction.

How frequently should you conduct client surveys? The frequency may vary depending on your project and contract with the client. Make sure you’re not surveying the clients too frequently or less frequently. Do it too often, and you’ll come off as insecure. Meanwhile, if you don’t do it frequently enough, you’ll likely lose touch with your clients.

At Prohibition PR, we usually do quarterly surveys with our clients on long-term contracts. As for the project-based clients, we usually adjust the frequency depending on the timeline and scope of the project.

5. Tap into the power of social media

Unhappy customers are more likely to share their experiences than happy customers. Most marketers already know that. It’s also well known that most negative experiences are shared on social media. And it can take a single tweet or thread to burn a brand’s reputation.

Fortunately, social media is just as powerful for building brands and delivering results to your clients. That’s why we incorporate the channel when formulating our public relations strategies. We’ve used social platforms countless times to provide excellent results for our clients.

Take the 2017 social media campaign we did for Watches of Switzerland (WoS) as an example. WoS wanted to boost its profile at Baselworld 2017, a renowned global watch tradeshow. So we created engaging content for the campaign, including teaser videos, animated Gifs, etc. We also brought a production company on board to assist with creating a Facebook Live debate.

What I’ve Learned About Getting Clients 11 Years into Running a PR and Social Media AgencySource

The social media campaign helped WoS dominate the Baselword 2017 conversation. They had 363% more content than the competition. As a result, their social media audience and engagements also went through the roof.

For our agency, social media has also become instrumental in acquiring leads. We get more inquiries about our services through social media, LinkedIn specifically, than from search. I would get the “Hi Chris, would you be interested in helping with this?” DMs from people who’ve interacted with our brand in different capacities. Some are referrals, others from an event they saw me.

It is quite interesting that most of them opt to reach out via LinkedIn instead of the official website. Perhaps people prefer knowing they’re talking to the guy in charge instead of a random employee handling inquiries?

To cut a long story short, you need social media to grow your agency and deliver results to your clients. And this applies to virtually all industries. So, supplement your in-house content hub and the clients’ strategies with appropriate social media content.

6. Be confident

If most successful people share one recurring theme, it is self-confidence. Most businesses start with a calculated risk. An entrepreneur quits their full-time job with all sorts of benefits to start their own business. Some would even venture into a completely different industry. We’ve heard these stories before.

And while not all such stories have a good ending, they’re all critical in one way or another. If the venture works, brilliant. If it doesn’t, at least now you know the “million-dollar idea” you had doesn’t work. So you won’t live with the “what if” regret.

The bottom line is you need the self-confidence to achieve your full potential. You must believe in your skills and abilities enough to pursue them. Even if starting a new venture or going after a massive client that seems out of reach, you must try.

Also, it doesn't have to be during those big decisions. You’ll need your confidence even in seemingly minor situations like voicing your opinions during client briefings, suggesting different approaches, etc.

Sometimes, you’ll need the confidence to walk away from contracts or clients that aren’t a good fit. Is that a difficult decision to make? Absolutely. But think about this: is it worth bringing a client on board when you know your services can’t resolve their problems?

In Closing

Building a PR and social media agency has taught me invaluable business and life lessons. In this review, I shared some of the top lessons. First, you need to network with creative people. And don’t just look at networking as a means to land more business partners and clients. Think beyond that.

Second, stay accessible to your clients. Growth is good and all, but it won’t be sustainable if you grow distant from the very clients you’re working for. Next, pulse-check your business. Keep your clients satisfied and happy. Then, use social media, accept criticism, and be confident.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two from these lessons. They may not provide a foolproof hack into successful entrepreneurship, but they should help you make more informed decisions.

💡Do you also run an agency? Then, start using Buffer to manage your clients’ social presence easily.

- Tamilore Oladipo
Ask Buffer: Will Scheduling My Social Media Posts Affect My Engagement?
Ask Buffer: Will Scheduling My Social Media Posts Affect My Engagement?

Question: I’m trying to grow the social media accounts for my small business, but I’ve heard that using scheduling tools can cause low engagement and reach. Is this true?

The short answer is: no. Consistency is more likely to raise your reach and audience engagement — which is the primary service offered by third-party scheduling tools. However, this myth persists for several reasons.

This article from Social Status posits that this belief is thanks to the idea that platforms like Twitter and Instagram purposely limit the reach of posts scheduled with third-party tools to get people to use their native scheduling capabilities – but there’s no evidence to support this. The article also mentions that influencers in the social media marketing industry might be influencing this idea.

Whatever the reason, we’re here to analyze this myth and, hopefully, debunk it for you!

How do we know scheduling tools are not the culprit of low engagement?

Organic reach is the number of eyes on your content without you paying to reach a specific audience. Unlike ads, organic posts aren’t targeted to specific audiences, so they rely on the social network’s algorithm.

While we don’t know all the details of how algorithms work, we do know that one of the main goals is to keep people scrolling on the platform so that they see more ads. What does this mean for you?

The algorithm rewards high engagement, which is directly linked to consistency for many social media users. This means that the more active you are, the more your engagement and reach increase. While the algorithm considers multiple factors, it doesn’t seem to disfavor scheduled posts.

In fact, we (along with other folks at Sendible and Agorapulse) have done the research, so we know that third-party scheduling tools help (not hurt) your reach. The most recent report (done in 2020) found that posts scheduled on Facebook via third-party tools achieved 10.3% more engagement than those posted natively, proving scheduling tools are a good investment.

💡Check out our complete analysis here.

This increase in engagement could be because of the many advantages that come with these tools. Buffer, for example, finds the best times to post, analyzes which kind of content is the best, and helps you easily respond to comments – all of which are important for growing your social accounts.

Of course, this doesn’t account for marketers who see lower reach and engagement from third-party scheduling but get better results when switching to native scheduling. So it’s essential to experiment with both approaches to see what works for you.

What does cause low engagement?

High-quality and engaging content will perform well on social media, whether posted via an app or natively through a platform. What impacts engagement is elements like poor quality content or a lack of interaction with your audience.

Once your post is scheduled, there’s still work to do. You can’t just leave a post and expect it to perform on its own. You must check in daily to see the responses,  shares, and comments. If you don’t, your reach will nosedive as fewer of your posts appear to your followers and, in turn, your potential audience.

💡Hint: You can use Engage by Buffer to connect with customers and respond to their comments on time.

Scheduling doesn’t preclude you from being proactive with your content. If you schedule your posts, you need to block out time for when you can be active and present on your page to respond and engage with your followers.

If you engage frequently and still see low reach, consider experimenting with different content formats, trying out new platforms (Twitter instead of LinkedIn), or implementing one of the following tips.

How can you get the best out of your scheduled content?

As a general rule, content designed specifically for the platform it’s going on performs better. Learn the ins and outs of the different channels so that you can use social media features to their fullest potential.

Publish at the best times for your audience: Using a third-party scheduling system means your content is going out at your profiles’ optimized times – whether that's 5 am or 5 pm.Great content that increases engagement + a system that increases your reach = more business for you.Prepare in advance: Using a strategy that involves scheduling content in advance allows you to plan and leave time for creative ideas that might come up on the fly. And when you don’t have any new ideas, your scheduling tool is already cued up with all the content you’ve prepared.Give people a reason to stay and engage with your content: Instead of propping up your campaigns and products, turn the focus on your customers to increase engagement. It’s important to post about topics that are important to your audience and will resonate with them. Consider implementing UGC, conducting giveaways, or setting aside time to answer customer questions.Respond to your audience: After posting, keep an eye on your content for new comments that you can engage with. You can also pose a question matching your content and participate in the conversation. Research from Twitter shows that people are willing to spend up to 20% more with brands that respond to their tweets. Here’s an example of community engagement from our social media at Buffer. View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Buffer (@buffer)

Prioritize quality content and engagement over frequent posting for the best results

Many elements contribute to high reach and engagement, so merely keeping a consistent posting schedule without interacting with your followers will poorly impact your post performance. The quality of your content — and its relevance (or lack thereof) to your audience — could also cause low engagement. Instead, use the time saved by a scheduling tool to create great content and engage your followers.

💡Buffer’s scheduling allows you to save time and free up space for creating great content ideas. Get started today!

- Tamilore Oladipo
5 Steps for Dealing with Social Media Negativity
5 Steps for Dealing with Social Media Negativity

Life on the Internet can be stressful –  even more for anyone who's selling a product or service. Negative comments and reactions on your social media are standard and almost expected whether you're a brand or an individual. Receiving these comments is inevitable, but the important thing is how you handle them. Poor handling can hurt you and your brand and turn customers away.

According to ReviewTrackers, 94% of consumers say that a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business. This is why it’s essential to create a clear and concise policy for what to do when you encounter negativity on your social media so you can tackle it before it becomes a problem for your business.

1. Always address negative comments about you or your brand

Should you address every comment you receive? We think so. Maintaining public relations is essential for personal and business brand building; part of that is customer engagement in both positive and negative circumstances.

Noting the comments you get — positive, negative, or neutral — can help you understand followers’ sentiments about your brand and your content which, in turn, enables you to connect better with them.

Rosie Hall, a PR & Communications Manager at Hable, agrees with this approach, saying, “My policy for dealing with negative comments on social media has always been to address it quickly, be apologetic, and then try to take it off the public-facing areas to discuss it privately. I think that way, your audience knows that you’re dealing with any issues, but the detail remains private. Never deleting negative comments is also a bit of a golden rule for me – it can get people even angrier, and it looks like your brand has got something to hide. A big no!”

Royal Bank of Canada’s Twitter response team took this approach – instead of getting defensive, they approached with empathy and an offer to help.

5 Steps for Dealing with Social Media Negativity

However, the exception to this rule will have to be your or your social media manager’s mental health, which should take priority over anything else. From negative but fair feedback from customers to outright unfair or incendiary comments from trolls, it can be difficult to face attacks of any kind on social media.

It’s natural to deal with negativity. If a rude comment affects you, speak to someone on your team or your circle of friends and family. No matter how personal a comment might seem, the commenter doesn’t know you. Be secure in your value, focus on positives, and let the negatives fade.

2. Determine how to respond to different types of negative comments

Your social media strategy should include a set of standards for responding to incoming notifications and messages. Your team should be clear on how quickly they need to reply and provide some templated on-brand messaging that addresses frequently asked questions.

Stephanie Gutierrez, a Senior Social Media Strategist at Online Optimism – a marketing agency – shares the system and steps that the agency has developed to address communications issues – especially when it comes to negativity. Stephanie says, “At our agency, we produce a Communications Guide for each client at the start of our partnership. This allows us to plan for any messages or comments we anticipate receiving on social media, good or bad, so we’re ready to respond in a timely manner.”

Based on Stephanie’s guidelines, here are some steps to creating standards for your social media communications.

Identify which questions come up from your customers the most, as well as the positive and negative feedback they tend to give. Stephanie recommends asking your salesperson/team if you have one. You can also look through your social media profiles to see what questions and comments you’ve received in the past.Plan out a few responses to negative situations that you anticipate so several options are available. For example, if someone can’t get a hold of your customer service or if someone’s order was wrong, having a few answers on hand prevents users from feeling like you’re copying and pasting the same message for everyone.Plan to update these responses from time to time, so they remain relevant and don’t feel stale. If a question or comment comes up that wasn’t in your guide, add it with the approved response so you are prepared for the next time it comes up.Your responses should address the individual in a personalized way by calling them by their name. Acknowledge the issue they are facing and reassure them that you want to set things right if they had a negative experience. Personalized messages help customers feel heard. Nike’s customer response team took personalization to the next level, offering to help the customer find the exact item they were looking for.5 Steps for Dealing with Social Media Negativity

In addition to Stephanie’s advice, here are some other practices to include in your Communications Guide:

Frequently reiterate your policies on harassment on your social media accountUse the BIFF (Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm) framework to respond to commentsIgnore the comments and don’t respond if you don’t absolutely need toConsider muting or blocking them (after determining that the person in question is actually a troll)If it goes too far, report the post.

By having your policy in mind, you’ll be prepared should a situation arise. And in an added layer to creating a communications policy, make sure every employee is aware of how to handle negativity on your public-facing channels, even if they don’t normally interact with customers. This way, everyone in your organization knows how to address any situations that may arise.

3. Respond on time

One of the critical difficulties in responding to negative comments on social media is time, as Rafal Mlodzki, CEO of Passport Photo Online, points out. People want a quick response when things go wrong and social media makes it so that customers worldwide (and in different timezones) are constantly engaging with your brand. So, a lack of response might signal that you don’t care about your customers’ opinions.

Here at Buffer, we have lots of experience responding to messages quickly. Team members in both Marketing and Customer Advocacy have access to our social accounts so we can respond to users quickly. A great example is this tweet that was sent out at 4:40 am (GMT +1) and the response from our team 4 minutes later.

Hey Ashish! I'm sorry to say that we are unable to connect and directly publish to Instagram and Facebook Personal Profiles. You can read more on this here https://t.co/AJgCtWQQOC. -James

— Buffer (@buffer) July 11, 2022

However, while we have a large team in place for customer engagement, that isn’t possible for every business owner. If you can’t afford a large team dedicated to customer engagement, consider sharing that on your profile (for example, pinning a post with your response policy to the top of your Instagram or Twitter), and remember to give your customers a time frame of when you’ll be getting back to them

4. Approach negative comments with facts and not emotions

It’s crucial to respond factually when faced with a negative comment, whether it’s admitting when you’re wrong, offering a solution, or countering misinformation.

If you or your brand is wrong, apologize sincerely and provide a solution for the aggrieved customer. However, if someone is only posting to get a reaction out of you or your audience, then Logan Mallory, VP at Motivosity which creates employee engagement software, recommends that you do not engage.

As Logan shares, “There’s a difference between someone voicing concern and someone who’s just trying to be an instigator. You can and should reply to negative comments where someone is directly expressing concern, but when it comes to comments that are simply inflammatory remarks, those are best left alone. A reply won’t do any good, and can simply cause the person posting those comments to post even more.”

However, this option won’t work for every scenario – while ignoring negative comments might seem like the right move as you’re not feeding the fire, it can also seem suspicious to some of your followers.

If you have to address potentially misleading information, share fact-based sources that refute the wrong information. Don’t respond directly to the troll – your response shouldn’t be for them. Instead, leave a comment that clears up any confusion that may arise. While this isn’t from social media, it’s a great example of how to put out a fire with facts. This Mazda dealership defended itself by stating the steps they took to solve the customer’s complaint, effectively shutting down the problem.

5 Steps for Dealing with Social Media Negativity

Ultimately, you must figure out what approach – ignoring vs. responding with facts – is best case-by-case.

5. Always report harassment

There’s a fine line between criticism and outright harassment — if someone makes you or your followers uncomfortable or even threatens you on social media, don’t hesitate to report them.

Check out the policies that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other major sites have when it comes to filing complaints about abusive behavior. Also, consider blocking accounts that harass you or your followers and highlighting them for your legal team and community to be aware of.

Consider creating a “rules of conduct” post and pinning it on your profile. Then, if someone behaves inappropriately, you’ll have a clear justification for booting them.

Focus on cultivating positivity between you and your community

Social media is incredible for its ability to bring the world together. But unfortunately, that does open us up to a world of negativity. It’s just something that brands have to deal with, especially as they grow and garner more attention.

That’s why it’s important to remain positive when dealing with social media trolls and also encourage healthy interactions with the supportive part of your community. David Bitton, CMO at DoorLoop a property management software company, recommends that you outright dismiss exchanges that could potentially induce conflict before they become heated if the conversation adds no value to achieving your business goals on social media.

Your goal when managing your community should be to foster a supportive environment where people feel safe to have honest dialogue, listen, ask questions, and express their points respectfully.

Want to keep an eye on everything happening in your comments and mentions across all your social media accounts? Try out Engage by Buffer.

- Susan and Michael Perlman
How Charitable Giving Helped Us Take Our Dog Daycare to $1M in Revenue
How Charitable Giving Helped Us Take Our Dog Daycare to $1M in Revenue

When we weren’t feeling fulfilled in our corporate jobs, we knew we were tired of working for someone else, but we were also looking for more ways to get involved with our community. We had become those typical working Americans who close our garage doors after coming home from work and don’t emerge to connect with the people around us, and we wanted to change that. So, we decided to not only take the leap into small business ownership, but to start a business that allowed us to be more deeply involved in our community through charitable efforts.

That’s a big part of why we decided to open a Dogtopia franchise. In addition to being a premier dog daycare brand that allowed us to tap into our lifetime love of pets, Dogtopia has a foundation that helps franchisees support three major causes, all with the overarching goal of enabling dogs to positively change the world. We help fund service dog training for military veterans. We support children’s literacy by helping fund SitStayRead, a program that provides service dogs for kids to practice reading to. And, we support employment opportunities for adults with autism by encouraging franchises to hire them and giving the business owners training and tools to make it a positive work environment.

We achieve our fundraising goals (which we set with guidance from the foundation) in big and small ways, from throwing at least one event per month to having a treat machine in our lobby that collects donations. No matter what, 100 percent of the proceeds of these efforts always go toward our causes—all time and monetary costs related to fundraising are taken on by franchise owners like us. In our case, that amounts to about 20 hours and $200 a month put toward our charitable initiatives.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dogtopia of South Chandler (@dogtopiasouthchandler)

Some business owners may cringe at the additional cost and workload, but we’ve actually found that giving people a cause to rally around has been instrumental to our success, helping us reach $1 million in annual revenue within just a few years of opening. Here are just a few ways integrating charitable giving has opened new doors for our business.

It Gives Us a Point of Differentiation

Perhaps most obviously, we’ve found that charitable initiatives can strike a chord with people who may otherwise see us as just another business, ultimately setting us apart from competitors.

When somebody walks through the door, you never know where they’re coming from. In our case, they may have someone in their family who is on the spectrum. Maybe they’re a veteran or care about someone who is. Or maybe their kids struggle with reading. We’ve had numerous customers who were considering multiple daycares in the area but were sold on us after they learned about the impact we’re making on issues they care about.

This only works if you choose causes that mean something to your customers and that are different from what other similar businesses may champion. Many dog-related businesses support shelters, and while that’s obviously an important and worthy cause, we’ve noticed a lot of customers are impressed that we’re willing to wrap our arms around other issues that affect pet parents.

It Gives Us Something More Meaningful to Market

Having a charitable aspect to our business has also been a great way to market to the community without feeling like we’re constantly in sales mode. Instead, we get to champion causes that many people care about.

For instance, we’ll regularly mix up our more sales-oriented social media posts with ones sharing updates on our latest charitable efforts. The events we throw are partially for marketing and providing an exciting experience for our customers, but we’ll also have a fundraising aspect that brings a lot of people in the door. When we give tours, talking about the impact we’re having (in addition to our wonderful services and amenities) helps build rapport. And it’s great to be able to have a tent at community events that isn’t just about pushing brochures or promotions, but about sharing the work we’re doing.

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A post shared by Dogtopia of South Chandler (@dogtopiasouthchandler)

We always find ourselves feeling better about what we do when we’re telling someone about the charitable initiatives we’re working on. It makes it clear to them that we don’t just see dollar signs on four legs walking through the door, but that we’re passionate about the bigger impact that we’re making.

It Helps Our Customers Feel Connected to Our Success

You’d be surprised at the interaction and engagement that you get from customers when they don’t feel like they’re just paying you for a service but that they’re working with you toward a common goal. We’ve found that excitement around the impact we’re having not only keeps customers coming back, but pushes them to be more deeply involved in our business.

One of our favorite examples of this is when one customer—a veteran who served on the district board of the American Legion—learned about our fundraiser to sponsor our first service dog for other veterans. He asked how far we were from our goal, then used his own time and political capital to go back and talk to the American Legion about our cause. They ended up writing us a generous check for $1,500, which got us nearly to our goal. When we were fundraising for our next service dog, he found out we were $800 short and brought us another $1,500 check from the American Legion to get us to our goal and get started on the next fundraiser. Now, the larger Dogtopia Foundation is talking to the network of American Legions across the country about a partnership, all because of one dedicated customer who took the time to help our cause. (And, this whole time, he continued bringing his dogs to daycare with us!)

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A post shared by Dogtopia of South Chandler (@dogtopiasouthchandler)

That’s not the sort of thing that happens with a standard business relationship. When customers feel like they’re not a transaction but instead a crucial part of a bigger impact, it allows them to develop deeper relationships with us and with the business.

It Makes Us More Excited About Our Work

All of the benefits above really just feel like cherries on top when we think about the biggest benefit of giving back as part of our business: It makes us and our team more excited to go to work every day.

When we were at our corporate jobs, we were barely a part of our community, and our son probably thought working meant staring at a computer screen all day. Now, we’re not only engaged with our community, but we get to demonstrate how work can have a tangible and positive impact on the lives of others. It makes us feel so excited about what we’re doing, even on days when the realities of owning a business are challenging. This is true for our employees, too: It’s a tough labor market right now, and giving our team something to feel proud of helps them feel better about the work they’re doing.

In our mind, it comes down to this: If business is just business, why do we do it all the time? We all have to make money, but when you feel good about what you do as well, it makes a huge difference in how you feel day after day.

Owning a small business is tough, and a lot of business owners are hesitant to add the responsibility of charitable giving on top of everything else. But, after seeing the impact it’s had, we really encourage other business owners to give it a try. Start small with one cause, one fundraiser, and go from there. Whether you see it as a marketing strategy or something that will make you feel more excited about your work, it will almost certainly lead to more success.

- Sadie Williamson, Williamson Fintech Consulting
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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]”

Source

 

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:

Sender Score from Validity is a free tool that shares the numeric score associated with your IP address. The site also offers a baseline to help you understand the results. A Sender Score above 80 is fantastic; below 70, you’ll want to take steps to repair your reputation. dmarcian’s DMARC Record Checker, free, allows you to view and validate your Domain-based Message, Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) record. This protocol prevents spammers from spoofing emails from your domain. While you’re at it, run a free check on your SPF and DKIM records, which are also used by email providers to verify your identity. GlockApps DMARC Analytics, from $15/month, provides ongoing DMARC, SPF, and DKIM monitoring. This tool alerts you to suspicious activity, so you can shut it down before any damage is done. dmarcian, from $19.99/month, also monitors your DMARC, SPF, and DKIM records continuously and prevents spammers from using your domain. The platform also visualizes data rather than sending you raw XML logs. mail-tester newsletter spam test, a free service, generates an email address for you to send your message to. Then it analyzes your content and checks your back-end setup for configuration errors. SendForensics Email Deliverability Test, which has a freemium model, analyzes your emails and shares deliverability metrics and benchmarks for your target industry. Postmark spam test is a free, browser-based tool. All you do is paste your email into the text box for a free spam score from SpamAssassin. Postmark also offers a JSON API if you want an easy-to-use SpamAssassin setup that can be integrated into your existing tech stack. Email list verification tools

Verifying your email lists is a must to keep your emails out of spam folders and your email address off blacklists. High bounce rates and low open rates can both tank your sender reputation. Email list decay happens naturally, so email verification and list maintenance is a continual process.

Multiple tools offer this service. Though none are free, they charge one credit to check one address, so the cost is proportional to the size of your email list. We checked the price of 5,000 credits across multiple services to find the best budget-friendly email validation options:

Pabbly ($15) Emailable ($30) Clearout ($35) BriteVerify* ($40)

* offers Campaign Monitor integration

Content optimization tools

Your subject line is your first impression, and it may be your only one if it’s not interesting enough to prompt your reader to open the email. Give yourself the best chance of winning a customer over by using subject line testing tools to find the optimal word choice and length.

Likewise, the body content of your email has to be engaging, readable, and accessible if you want to convert customers. While you can use OS-level tools like Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader to check how assistive devices interact with your message, it’s much easier to use the following tools for a comprehensive check (and advice on how to fix any errors):

Grammarly, free, checks your grammar, spelling, and clarity beyond what Microsoft Word has to offer. Hemingway Editor, free, helps you improve readability by marking long or complex sentences, passive voice, and adverbs, among other content writing faux pas. Headline Analyzer, a free tool by CoSchedule, scores your subject line based on factors such as word balance, sentiment, and clarity. Send Check It Email Subject Line Tester, a free tool, offers a real-time evaluation that looks at aspects such as scannability and grade level. Even more valuable are its previewer, which mocks up your subject line in desktop and mobile views, and language checker, which looks for scammy or otherwise off-putting words. Accessible-email.org, free, opens your HTML email in a code editor and points to issues that may decrease accessibility. You can also link the online version of any past email campaign for a full report. Email preview and functionality testing tools

Optimizing an email for every screen size and client may be the most important thing you do in any email marketing campaign. More than 70% of people delete an email in under three seconds if it doesn’t look right on their device, and 15% go the nuclear route and unsubscribe entirely.

Your campaigns need to work across all operating systems, mobile apps, and desktop browsers. Apple’s iPhone mail app and Gmail currently have the majority of the market share, but you’ll miss a lot of customers if you only optimize your email design for these services. Complete uniformity is impossible when designing for multiple email clients and devices. Focus on usability and consistency instead. If everything looks professional, links are clickable, and the spacing is good, all your customers will have a good email experience.

You can test how emails render by sending to team members who use different devices or email clients, but inbox preview and validation tools offer a more thorough (and efficient) view. Some email services (including Campaign Monitor) have this capability built in. Unfortunately, most standalone services (like Litmus PutsMail and Email on Acid) are pricey. There’s one email testing tool that’s both affordable and has great functionality:

Testi@, which starts at $20/month, provides everything from email screenshots and HTML validation to a browser add-on. It’s also a pay-as-you-go service, so you can try it out without making a huge commitment. A roundup of the best email testing tools

In case you missed one, here’s a list of the tools we recommend for email testing and optimization: Domain reputation and security tools

Sender Score from Validity DMARC Record Checker dmarcian Glock Apps DMARC Analytics mail-tester newsletter spam test SendForensics Email Deliverability Test Postmark spam test

Email list verification tools

Pabbly Emailable Clearout BriteVerify

Content optimization tools

Grammarly Hemingway Editor Headline Analyzer Send Check It Email Subject Line Tester Accessible-email.org

Email preview and functionality testing tools

Testi@ Get to the top of your email marketing game

Once you’ve improved your email deliverability and open rates by running the pre-send tests listed above, it’s time for the next round of assessments. You can (and should) use A/B testing to determine which email content and presentation gets the best response from your audience.

The challenge — and the beauty — of email marketing is that you’re never done finding better ways to communicate with your audience. Skipped tests are lost opportunities to improve your engagement and conversion numbers. Don’t bypass the chance to make your next email marketing campaign the best yet. Take a few minutes today to set yourself up with the tools in this post, and you’ll reap the benefits again and again in the future.

The post The 17 Best Low-Budget and Free Email Testing Tools for 2022 appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

- Campaign Monitor
The Current State of MPP: Where Are We Now?

It’s been about six months since Apple released MPP to the public — going live in September of last year. And while we’ve learned a lot about this feature and how it works, email marketers have been left with a lot of questions as well.

What’s been happening during that time? How many people have opted into MPP? How is it affecting my metrics? How have email service providers (ESPs) responded?

Marketers are still concerned with privacy changes, and understandably so. With more inbox providers releasing their own privacy-related features, it feels like we’re at the beginning of a trend that will continue to impact marketers for the foreseeable future.

Let’s take a quick look at where things are at with MPP, and how we’ve been responding to those changes here at Campaign Monitor.

So, what’s the state of MPP?

A lot has happened since Apple released iOS 15 and Mail Privacy Protection back in September of 2021.

For those who don’t remember, Mail Privacy Protection is a new feature in iOS15 that essentially does two things:

Effectively disables open tracking, removing an email marketer’s ability to reliably track whether or not it was opened and read by a human Obscures the user’s IP address, removing an email marketer’s ability to know their location

MPP disables open tracking by pre-fetching (or downloading), emails and email images to each device, regardless of whether or not the user opens and reads the message. Email image pixels, which are used to track opens, are included in this download, meaning that the email will count as “opened”, even though the user didn’t open it.

The big questions for marketers once this feature was announced were: How many people are going to opt into this new feature? and How drastically will this affect open rates?

Six months in, we’re finally starting to get clarity to those questions.

How many people have opted into MPP?

It’s difficult to get a raw number, but we do know that over 75% of all Apple iPhone users are currently using iOS 15, and among them, about 97% have adopted MPP.

As you can imagine, that already makes up a large percentage of people. While we don’t know the exact number, SparkPost estimates that 40-50% of all email opens now come from MPP.

Has MPP started affecting open rates?

Definitely. If nearly half of all email opens are coming from MPP, we can be sure that not all of those people are actually opening those emails. In our 2022 Email Marketing Benchmarks report, you can see that open rates have risen steadily since MPP’s release.

Open rates in 2021, shown by month.

Looking at the data, there was a small uptick when Apple released the iOS 15 developer beta. Then again with the public beta. And then, open rates rise drastically and continually when MPP is released to the public.

These metrics confirm what a lot of email marketers (including us) speculated — that open rates have become far less reliable. 

How we’ve responded at Campaign Monitor

As an email service provider, we know that people like you rely on Campaign Monitor not only to send great email, but to analyze your campaigns and understand what’s working. With that in mind, we’ve made some changes to our platform to help you navigate this new, privacy-centered world.

Updated Clicked metrics

Given MPP impact on open rates, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) will become less reliable. Therefore, we’ve updated the “Clicked” metric on our summary pages to show the click rate rather than the CTOR. 

A pop-up showing click rate and click-to-open rate

You can still view the CTOR by selecting the info icon. The CTOR can also be found in our detailed reports including Insights and compare campaigns

Minimizing the impact of unreliable location data

We no longer record the location of a subscriber when we suspect it has been impacted by Apple MPP. This means that you’ll likely see more subscribers where the last known location is “unknown”, however, this will ensure that inaccurate location data does not impact features such as Worldview, time zone sending, or campaign reports.

Apple Privacy category in the Email Client Usage report

The email client usage report (campaigns and journey emails) gives you a breakdown of the different clients and devices that recipients are using to view your emails. We’ve added a new category, Apple Mail (Privacy Protected), to the report to give you visibility of the portion of Apple Mail Privacy recipients opening your emails. This new category is available for emails sent after February 2022. 

an example email client report showing the new Apple Privacy category

Look out — there’s more to come

As we said, user privacy is a trend that’s here to stay. With Gmail and DuckDuckGo launching their own privacy features, we can expect more inbox providers to release privacy-focused features in the near future.

But don’t worry. Campaign Monitor is keeping a close eye on all of it. We’ll keep you in the loop on what we learn, and the changes we make to our platform to help you navigate this ever-evolving privacy environment.

The post The Current State of MPP: Where Are We Now? appeared first on Campaign Monitor.