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Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests

Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests

It’s crucial that you take high-quality photos during a demonstration. They can make the difference between having 20 people see your message and reaching 20,000. Captivating photos and video footage can help a local event garner attention all over the country. The best images tell a clear story, capture the essence of the event, and make viewers feel like they are part of the action.

Working with a PETA outreach coordinator, you can take your activism for animals to the next level. Check out the tips below to help you get some great images from your demo and learn how to send them to PETA. We may be able to promote your event to our millions of social media followers and website readers.

When taking photos, be sure that they will answer these questions:

What’s the issue?

Whether you’re protesting against a circus that abuses animals or a restaurant that serves foie gras, anyone who sees your photos should immediately grasp what the issue is and how it causes animals to suffer. Treat this as an opportunity to educate people who are unfamiliar with the type of cruelty that your demo aims to expose.

What’s the tone?

Whether the demo is silly and lighthearted, dramatic and serious, or downright sexy, your photos should elicit a clear emotion in viewers. If, for example, your event is meant to be shocking, then photos of smiling people probably aren’t your best bet.

What makes this event special?

Your photos should make viewers stop to take a closer look. People consume media very quickly these days, so give them a reason to pause as they scroll through their Facebook news feeds. Anyone can stand at the side of a road holding a sign, so try to focus on the more eye-catching elements of the demo. If a mascot is at your event, be sure to get some shots of that. Images of children, workers in uniform, and any animal companions who have come with their guardians also tend to stand out.

These are the shots that you should always get:

The Signage

Your message is, after all, what you are trying to convey through your pictures. The signs that you photograph shouldn’t feature too many words. Pick ones with succinct, straight-to-the-point, punchy messages. Make sure that your shots of them are clear and the words are legible.

The Peak of the Action

Have your camera ready both at the beginning of the event and at points when people are most active. Demos taking place in a busy area inevitably attract more attention, so be ready for the public to get involved in one way or another. Get some shots at times when the most activists are present so that people will know that your event was a big deal.

Demo at opening of Canada Goose flagship store

The Whole Scene

Photograph the “big picture” surrounding the demo. Are you protesting outside a storefront or corporate headquarters? If so, make sure that the logo of the targeted company is visible, perhaps on a window or awning above where the activists are standing—or maybe even on the side of a building. If you’re outside an animal-unfriendly event, try to get some photos in front of the entrance or near any promotional banners that the organizers have hung. People need to know where the protest is taking place, as that will help them understand why it’s happening.

Crowd Reactions

If you’re handing out food, show people eating it. If you’re playing a sad video, capture people crying. If you have head-turning visuals, photograph the surprise on the faces of passersby. When people see others reacting, it can help shape how they react.

Some Impactful, Close-Up Shots

Ask one person with a sign to take a few steps out from the bulk of the action. Individual stories sometimes have a greater impact than the “big picture.” The full scope of animal abuse can be hard for people to take in, so showing a close-up of one person in front of the crowd helps viewers place themselves in the shoes of that activist.

Here are some final tips:

Come prepared. If you know in advance where the demo will take place, you can scope out the location beforehand. Take some test shots the day before. Note where the sun falls. See how much foot traffic the area typically experiences. That way, you won’t have to figure out all the details on the fly.

If you know there will be children present, be sure to bring something (a pen and paper or your cell phone) with which to record the contact information of their parents or legal guardians. If you provide PETA with their e-mail addresses, we can follow up by sending forms to request consent for using photos of their children.

If professional photographers show up, pay attention to what they do. You might not be a pro, but that doesn’t mean your shots can’t be just as powerful as those taken by someone working for a news wire or local TV station. If you’re unsure where to start, take inspiration from what the experts photograph. Just be sure to remain respectful. Remember: They’re there to get more eyes on the demo, too.

Then, send your photos to us.

If you’re already working on your demo with a PETA outreach coordinator, just e-mail your photos to your contact with a clear subject line and a one- or two-sentence explanation of the event for reference.

If you’re unsure which coordinator to contact, you can consult our handy map.

Never stop fighting for animals. There are plenty of other ways you can help animals through activism. Learn more now:

The post Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests appeared first on PETA.

Action – PETA

8 Writing Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

I wrote my first blog post two summers ago. And I wish I could erase it from the internet. Reading it is like looking at my middle school Facebook pictures — it’s almost too cringe-inducing.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, though. I had just finished my freshman year of college, and the last paper I wrote was about the Odyssey. I didn’t know what I was doing.

But after completing several content marketing internships and taking classes like business writing, electronic journalism, and creative writing, I’ve learned how to write for an audience. Blogging is almost second nature to me now.

If you’re just starting out with blogging and struggling to produce something you’re truly proud of, don’t get discouraged. You don’t need to enroll in a bunch of writing classes or join a content marketing team to become a good blogger (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). You can hone your writing skills online — and this blog post can be one of your bookmarkable resources.

Listed below are eight essential writing tips I’ve gleaned from all my classes and content marketing experience. Check them out to learn how to engage your audience with clear, concise, and compelling content — and make me even more embarrassed about the first blog post I ever wrote.

8 Essential Writing Tips for Crafting Clear, Concise, and Compelling Content

1) Trim the fat.

The more unnecessary words your trim from your writing, the easier it is to understand. Concise writing is lean. And readers can zip through it with little effort. To sharpen your writing, follow the four pointers below:

  • Avoid linking verb phrases like “Sam was writing about his van.” “Sam wrote about his van.” sounds more forceful. Linking verbs have a passive effect, which is why they can’t pack much of a punch.
  • Change prepositional phrases like “The decision of the board was final.” to “The board’s decision was final.” Prepositional phrases make sentences longer and harder to follow.
  • When a noun ends in -tion, change the noun to a verb. For example, “They will collaborate to create a new style guide.” sounds cleaner than “They will collaborate in the creation of a new style guide.”
  • Reduce verb phrases like “The results are suggestive to the fact that on-page SEO still works.” to simple verb phrases like “The results suggest that on-page SEO still works.” The latter sounds much smoother.

2) One sentence should only cover one idea.

A clear sentence that’s easy to understand covers one main idea. But sometimes writers focus too much on sounding smart rather than conveying information in a simple way. This can lead to complex sentences that confuse readers.

You must remember your readers don’t care about your writing prowess. They want to quickly understand the solutions to their own problems, and simple sentences can fulfill that need.

Use the Hemingway App to gauge whether your sentences are bold and clear.

3) Sentences don’t live in isolation.

If you want to craft a compelling sentence, you need to account for its surrounding sentences first. Using the same word in consecutive sentences or covering similar ideas in two different sentences is redundant. To create a more stimulating experience for your readers, vary your language and cut repeat information.

Use Power Thesaurus to replace overused words with dynamic synonyms.

4) Vary sentence length and structure.

I saw a graphic called “How to Write” on Twitter about a year ago, and it took my writing skills to the next level. Take a look.

How to Write.jpg

Humans crave variety. And just like how short, medium, and long sentences complement each other, simple and compound sentences complement each other too.

Your writing becomes repetitive and boring when your sentences have the same structure or length. Diverse sentences make your writing pleasant to read.

5) Scrap the cliches.

Would it be cliche to begin this paragraph with a cliche? I thought so. That’s why I didn’t do it. Cliches sap your content’s originality.

People use these phrases so much that they lose their true meaning. Some studies even claim that figures of speech like “hungry as a horse” or buzzwords like “leverage” can’t activate the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for experiencing emotions. They’re too stale to impact you.

A good way to test cliches is by asking yourself if you’ve heard the term before. If so, aim to express your idea in a new, fresh way. You can also nix cliches by filtering your content through a cliche finder tool.

6) Appeal to the senses.

Good fiction writers can make their readers experience the stories they write. By using concrete details that appeal to their reader’s senses, they can paint vivid pictures with only words.

Skeptical? Well, in a 2012 study at Emory University, researchers monitored participants’ brain activity when they read metaphors involving texture. Metaphors like “He had leathery hands,” lit up their sensory cortex, which is responsible for perceiving texture through touch. When they read a similar phrase like “he had strong hands,” their sensory cortex didn’t activate.

“Leathery” is a concrete detail that appeals to touch. And it places readers into the exact scene the writer described. Metaphors and similes also help people visualize things by comparing a concrete picture with an abstract idea.

Business writing definitely differs from creative writing, but you can still harness the power of sensory language in your blog posts. If your readers can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste your ideas, then they’ll be hooked on your content.

Having trouble grasping this concept? Here are some examples:

  • Visual: “You immediately glue your eyes to the skip button’s countdown clock and wait … until those lingering seconds finally slug by.” – Can you see how long this ad is?
  • Auditory: “But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues’ noise-canceling headphones.” – Can you hear his obnoxious laugh?
  • Touch: “Let your well-formatted paragraphs put her attention in a guillotine hold.” – Can you feel how captivated she is?”
  • Smell and taste: “Turn bland writing into zesty sound bites.” – How strong was that quip’s flavor?

7) Let things go.

When you write an elegant paragraph or sentence, your inner author latches onto it. But even if it doesn’t fit within the scope of your content, you still might try to force it in there. You can get too attached to let it go.

Paragraphs or sentences that don’t deepen your readers’ understanding of the topic, provide new information, or spark interest in the next section are just fluff. And all fluff does is muddle your writing.

Instead of building around fluff, strip it away and start something new from scratch. Abandoning beautiful writing is always hard, but if it doesn’t provide value to your readers, let it go.

8) Take a break.

Have you ever reread your final draft so much that you can’t determine whether it’s Neil Patel good or high school essay bad? You can even convince yourself that a lousy draft looks great if you’ve worked on it for long enough.

Before you submit your final draft, it’s crucial to walk away from it. Forgetting about your work will help you develop fresh editing eyes that can discover overlooked errors and new creative opportunities.

Eddie Shleyner, copywriter and content marketer at Workforce Software, follows “The Rule of 12” when he edits his blog posts. After writing his final draft, he walks away for 12 hours. Then he makes his final round of edits, where he always finds a mistake or a better way to polish his copy.

What writing tips do you find useful? Let us know on Twitter!

free guide to writing well


Marketing

14 Essential Tips for an Engaging Facebook Business Page

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Whether you’re setting up a brand new Facebook Page for your brand, or you just want to make the most of your existing one, it’s probably a smart move — Facebook is home to nearly 2 billion monthly active users.

It should be easy enough, right? Just slap together a photo, a couple of posts, and expect the leads and customers to roll on in, right?

Wrong.

If you’re not creating a Facebook Page with a comprehensive strategy to get noticed, Liked, and engaged with, the chances of actually generating leads and customers from it are pretty slim. For example, you can’t just choose any picture — you have to choose one that’s the right dimensions, high-resolution, and properly represents your brand. New Call-to-action

But it doesn’t end there — so we compiled the tips below to make sure you’re creating an engaging page that takes full advantage of everything Facebook marketing has to offer.

14 Facebook Business Page Tips

1) Don’t create a personal profile for your business.

We’ve come across many well-meaning marketers and entrepreneurs who create personal profiles for their brands, instead of an actual Facebook Business Page. That puts you at a huge disadvantage — you’re missing out on all of the content creation tools, paid promotional opportunities, and analytics/insights that come with a Facebook Business Page. Plus, a personal profile would require people to send you a friend request in order to engage with you, and the last thing you want to do is make that more difficult for customers.

And while you’re at it — don’t create an additional public, “professional” profile associated with your business. For example, I already have a personal profile on Facebook that I largely keep private; the practice I’m talking about would be if I created a second, public one under the name “AmandaZW HubSpot,” or something along those lines. People usually do that to connect with professional contacts on Facebook, without letting them see personal photos or other posts. But the fact of the matter is that creating more than one personal account goes against Facebook’s terms of service.

2) Avoid publishing mishaps with Page roles.

We’ve all heard those horror stories about folks who accidentally published personal content to their employers’ social media channels — a marketer’s worst nightmare. So to avoid publishing mishaps like those, assign Facebook Business Page roles only to the employees who absolutely need it for the work they do each day. And before you do that, be sure to provide adequate training to those who are new to social media management, so they aren’t confused about when they should be hitting “publish,” what they should be posting, if something should be scheduled first, and who they should be posting it as.

To assign these, on your business page, click “Settings,” then click “Page Roles.”

Also, when sharing content on behalf of your brand, make sure you’re posting it as your brand, and not as yourself. You can check that by going into your settings and clicking “Page Attribution.”

3) Add a recognizable profile picture.

You’ll want to pick a profile picture that’s easy for your audience to recognize — anything from a company logo for a big brand, to a headshot of yourself if you’re a freelancer or consultant. Being recognizable is important to getting found and Liked, especially in Facebook Search. It’s what shows up in search results, pictured at the top of your Facebook Page, the thumbnail image that gets displayed next to your posts in people’s feeds … so choose wisely.

When choosing a photo, keep in mind that Facebook frequently changes its picture dimensions, which you can find at any given time here. As of publication, Page profile pictures display at 170×170 pixels on desktop, and 128×128 pixels on smartphones.

Profile photo desktop.png Profile photo mobile.png

4) Choose an engaging cover photo.

Next, you’ll need to pick an attractive cover photo. Since your cover photo takes up the most real estate above the fold on your Facebook Page, make sure you’re choosing one that’s high-quality and engaging to your visitors, like this one from MYOB’s Facebook Page:

myob.png myob mobile.png

Keep in mind that, like profile images, Facebook Page cover photo dimensions also frequently change, so we advise keeping an eye on the official guidelines. As of publication, Page cover photos display at 820×312 pixels on computers, and 640×360 pixels on smartphones.

5) Add a call-to-action (CTA) button.

Since Facebook first launched the feature in December 2014, the options for brands to add call-to-action buttons to their Facebook Page’s have vastly expanded. These are things like “Watch Video,” “Sign Up,” or “Book Now” — and each can be customized with a destination URL or piece of content of their choosing.

It’s a great way for marketers to drive more traffic to their websites, or to get more eyeballs on the Facebook content they want to promote. This is a great way for marketers to drive traffic from their Facebook Business Page back to their website. Check out how Mandarin Oriental uses the “Book Now” button in this way, to make it easier for viewers to make reservations.

Mandarin Oriental.png

To add a call-to-action to your Page, click the blue “Add a Button” box.

Add a button.png

You’ll then be able to choose which type of CTA you want to create, and which URL or existing content on your Facebook Page you want it to direct visitors to. To get data on how many people are clicking it, simply click the drop-down arrow on your button and select “View Insights.”

6) Fill out your ‘About’ section with basic information, and add company milestones.

We’ve arrived at one of the most important sections of your Facebook Page: the ‘About’ section.

Although visitors no longer see a preview of your “About” text when they land on your page — instead, they have to click on the “About” option on the left-hand column next to your content — it’s still one of the first places they’ll look when trying to get more information about your page.

Even within the “About” section, however, there are many options for copy to add. Consider optimizing the section that best aligns with your brand — a general description, a mission, company information, or your story — with brief, yet descriptive copy. By doing so, your audience can get a sense of what your Page represents before they decide to Like it.

You might also want to populate sections that allow you to record milestones and awards — like when you launched popular products and services — as well as the day/year your company was founded, or when you hosted major events.

7) Post photos and videos to your Timeline.

Visual content has pretty much become a requirement of any online presence, including social media channels. After all, it’s 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.

And while photos are a wonderful way to capture moments and an actual look at your brand, you should probably invest a good amount of time and other resources into video. The 2017 State of Inbound report cited video as the “main disruptor,” with 24% of marketers naming it as a top priority.

“Watch video” is one of the CTAs that Facebook allows brands to add to their Pages for a reason — because it’s becoming one of the most popular ways to consume content. But it’s not just pre-recording videos. According to the social media channel’s newsroom, “People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.” So don’t be afraid to give viewers an in-the-moment look at what your organization does, but do make sure you’re prepared.

Not sure what your videos should look like? Here’s a fun one that we put together on business lingo.

8) Determine the ideal timing and frequency for your posts.

An important consideration in your Facebook content strategy should be how frequently you post, and when. If you don’t post frequently enough, you won’t look as reliable or authentic — after all, how much faith do you put in a brand that hasn’t updated its Facebook Page for several months? Post too often, however, and people might get sick of having their feeds flooded with your content.

Here’s where a social media editorial calendar can be particularly helpful. Like any other online content, it can help you establish a schedule for when you share particular posts according to season or general popularity. You’ll probably have to adjust your calendar several times, especially in the earliest stages of setting up your Page, since you’ll want to check the performance of your updates in your Facebook Insights (which you can navigate to via the tab at the very top of your page). Once you’ve observed popular times and other analytics for your first several posts, you can tailor your posting frequency and strategy accordingly.

Wondering how to schedule posts? You can either use an external publishing tool like the Social Inbox within HubSpot software, or the Facebook interface itself. For the latter, click the arrow next to the “Publish” button and click “Schedule Post.”

Schedule post.png

9) Leverage Facebook’s targeting tools.

Facebook allows you to target certain audiences with specific updates — be it gender, relationship or educational status, age, location, language, or interests, you can segment individual page posts by these criteria.

Just click the small bullseye symbol on the bottom of the post you want to publish, and you can set metrics for both a preferred audience, and one you think might not want to see your content.

Target audience.png

10) Pin important posts to the top of your page.

When you post new content to your Facebook Page, older posts get pushed farther down your Timeline. But sometimes, you might want a specific post to stay at the top of your page for longer — even after you publish new updates.

To solve for this, Facebook offers the ability to “pin” one post at a time to the top of your page. You can use pinned posts as a way to promote things like new lead-gen offers, upcoming events, or important product announcements.

To pin a post, click on the drop-down arrow in the top-right corner of a post on your page, and click ‘Pin to Top.’ It will then appear at the top of your page, flagged with a little bookmark. Just keep in mind that you can only have one pinned post at any given time.

Pin to top.png

11) Decide whether you want Facebook fans to message you privately.

If you want your Facebook fans to be able to privately message you directly through your page, definitely enable the messages feature. You can do so by going to your settings, clicking on “General” on the left-hand column, and then looking for “Messages” on the list of results.

Messages-2.png

We recommend enabling messaging on your page to make it as easy as possible for your fans to reach out to you — but only do so if you have the time to monitor and respond to your messages. Facebook Pages now have a section that indicates how quickly a brand responds to messages, so if you don’t want that section saying that you’re slow to answer, you might just want to skip enabling that feature.

very responsive.png

12) Monitor and respond to comments on your page.

Speaking of monitoring the interactions your fans have with your page, don’t forget about comments. You can monitor and respond to comments via the ‘Notifications’ tab at the very top of your page. While it may not be necessary to respond to every single comment you receive, you should definitely monitor the conversations happening there (especially to stay on top of potential social media crises.

13) Promote your page to generate more followers.

Now that you’ve filled your page with content, it’s time to promote the heck out of it.

One of the first things you can do is to create an ad promoting your Page. To do that, click the three dots at the top menu bar above your posts and select “Create Ad.” From there, Facebook will let you start creating an ad from scratch based on your goals — things like reach, traffic, or general brand awareness. Choose yours, then scroll down and click “continue.”

campaign objective.png

After that, you can choose your targeted audience (similar to what you did with your promoted posts above), where on Facebook you want it to be placed, and your budget — you can learn more about paying for Facebook Ads here.

You’ll probably also be asked to add some creative assets or copy. Remember, you’re paying for this, so choose something that’s going to grab attention, but also has high quality and represents your brand well.

14) Finally, measure the success of your Facebook efforts.

There are a couple of ways to execute this step. You can use something like the social media reports tool in your HubSpot software, and you can dig into your Page’s Insights, which allow you to track Facebook-specific engagement metrics. Here, you’ll be able to analyze things like the demographics of your Page audience and, if you reach a certain threshold, the demographics of people engaging with your page and posts. As we mentioned earlier, the latter is especially helpful to modify your Facebook content strategy to publish more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. You can access your Facebook Page Insights via the tab at the top of your page.

How have you set up top-notch Facebook Pages? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

How to Keep Your Computer’s Desktop Clean & Organized: 7 Helpful Tips

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If you fell behind on your spring cleaning this year, it’s okay — so did I. I haven’t put away my winter coats, I haven’t unpacked all of my moving boxes, and I haven’t cleaned my computer’s desktop lately.

You know what I’m talking about — all those forgotten documents and miscellaneous screenshots that have been slowly taking over our screens for weeks — and sometimes, even months.

Hoarding files on your desktop not only makes it challenging to locate what you need when you need it, but it can also compromise the speed of your computer. Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

To help you keep your desktop tidy, we’ve come up with a few helpful tips. From creating a folder system, to trying out a new desktop design, these suggestions are designed to help you unbury yourself and stay productive in the process.

7 Computer Desktop Organizing Tips

1) Create a folder system.

Be honest: How many files do you have on your desktop right now? 10? 20? 100? Have you lost count? If your desktop looks anything like the image below, you may want to start by moving everything into one folder to clear the air.

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Source: Gizmodo

To create a new folder on a Mac, right-click on your desktop and select New Folder from the menu. The folder will appear on your desktop instantly. To change the folder’s name, double-click on “untitled folder,” and you’ll be able to edit a text box with a new name.

To create new folders in Windows, right-click on your desktop and select New > Folder from the menu. To rename the folder, click on it, enter a new name, and then press Enter.

Once you have your folders created, you can begin to divvy up your files. How you choose to organize your folder system will be dependent on your specific role. For example, I frequently write blog posts that contain a lot of visual examples. To simplify the process and keep a record of what I’ve included in the past, I’ve created two folders: Current Examples and Example Archive.

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When I’m rounding up examples for a new post from the web, I drop them in the Current Examples folder. This way, I can easily locate them when I go to write the post. Once the post is prepped and scheduled, I move the images to the Example Archive folder to make room for my next post.

2) Choose a naming convention for your files.

One of my biggest worries when I implemented a folder system was that it would be too difficult to find my files once I got organized — ironic, right?

But between documents, screenshots, and other files for the multiple blog posts I work on each week, there are a lot of different items I’m dropping into folders that can get lost in the shuffle. That’s why I started using a naming convention to organize my files, so I could quickly find them once they were organized into folders.

Choose a naming convention for types of files, topics, projects, or any other way that makes it easy for you to search for them. For example, when I’m creating files for HubSpot Marketing Blog posts, I use this naming convention:

  • MKTG-Draft-OrganizeDesktop
  • MKTG-Screenshot-OrganizeDesktop
  • MKTG-GIF-OrganizeDesktop

This way, it’s easy for me to find files by typing Command + F (Mac) or Control + F (Windows) and typing in the naming convention to narrow your search:

search-mac-desktop-organizing.png

This way, I don’t have to click into my perfectly organized, but likely very full, folders to find exactly what I need. Instead, I can simply search for and immediately find files by using my naming convention.

3) Experiment with a sectioned wallpaper.

Want to take your folder organization a step further?

While your desktop wallpaper is a great place for you to display a photo of your dog or latest vacation, there are also a ton of wallpaper options available that can actually help you stay organized. These wallpaper designs — in combination with your folder system — make it easy to corral specific sections of your work. (It’s kind of like using iPhone folders … but for your desktop.)

To get you started, we’ve included a few options to choose from below.

MoritzFineDesigns Yellow Wallpaper

[Download here via Moritz Fine Designs]

Lifehacker_Wallpaper_Sections.jpg

[Download here via Lifehacker]

MoritzFineDesigns Chalkboard Wallpaper

[Download here via Moritz Fine Designs]

Lifehacker Organized Wallpaper Design

[Download here via Lifehacker]

4) Use a Chrome extension to pre-organize your screenshots.

Screenshots are one of the biggest contributors to desktop clutter. When you capture a screenshot on a Mac (Command + Shift + 3) or PC (Alt + Print Screen), the image saves directly to your desktop. And if screenshotting is something you find yourself doing a lot, you’ll notice that it doesn’t take very long for it to make a mess of things.

To avoid having your screenshots automatically save to your desktop, you can use a screen capture tool such as the Awesome Screenshot extension for Google Chrome. Not only does this tool provide you with more advanced screen capture capabilities — annotations, selective capture, delayed capture, etc. — but it also aims to simplify the way you store your shots.

With Awesome Screenshot, you have the option to manually choose where you’d like to save your file, or you can create an account where you can save files to specific projects.

The latter will require you to sign up for a free account, but here’s how it works:

  1. Capture an image by clicking the extension and selecting an option from the menu.Capturing a Screenshot on Awesome Screenshot
  2. Crop and annotate your screenshot as you see fit, and then hit Done.Awesome Screenshot Annotation
  3. Select your desired option for saving from the menu on the right. If you’d like to save the image to a project’s folder on Awesome Screenshot, select Save on Awesome Screenshot at the top.Awesome Screenshot Save
  4. Insert a name for your file and identify which project you’d like to save it to by selecting an option from the menu. To save it, hit Upload.Awesome Screenshot Saving Option
  5. To access your file at any time, visit the appropriate project folder in your account dashboard. Awesome Screenshot Project Library
  6. When you add screenshots to a project folder, you can then collaborate with other members of your team by sharing the folder, adding point-specific comments, further annotations, etc.Awesome_Screenshot_Project_Commenting.png

5) Get inspired by a motivational wallpaper.

Not a fan of the sectioned off wallpaper? No worries. There are other wallpaper options that can give you the motivation to stay organized.

According to psychologist and motivation expert Jonathan Fader, inspirational or motivational messages often serve as a powerful incentive for us to try harder. “There’s a little bit of implicit coaching that’s happening when you’re reading it. It’s building that self-efficacy in that kind of dialogue that you’re having with yourself,” he explains.

So if you’re looking for a little coaching to help you stay organized, adding an inspirational message to your desktop can serve as a friendly, daily reminder.

Want to create your own motivational wallpaper? Follow the instructions below to learn how using Canva.

  1. Click on “Use custom dimensions” in the top right-hand corner and add your dimensions. Some of the most common desktop wallpaper resolutions are: 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, and 1920 x 1080.Canva_Custom_Dimensions.png
  2. To add a background image, click on Elements > Photos. You can also choose a plain color or pattern background by selecting Background.Canva_Elements_and_Photos.png
  3. Select a photo and adjust the size using the resizing points around it. Canva_Photo_Background.png
  4. To add text, click on Text and choose a heading or template from the options listed. Adjust the template text by adding your quote of choice. (I chose a quote from Barbara Hemphill on clutter.)Adding_Text_to_Canva.png
  5. To save your creation, click on the Download button in the top right-hand corner and select Image: high quality (PNG).Download_Your_Desktop.png

To set this image as your wallpaper on a Mac or Windows computer, refer to the following tutorials:

6) Invest in a storage solution.

If you’re constantly dealing with managing and organizing a lot of files, you may want to invest in an application like Dropbox to better manage your assets.

Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage and file synchronization. Users can create a folder on their computers that syncs with the service, making it easy to access the content no matter what device you’re using. Rather than dragging everything onto your desktop, simply store it in Dropbox where you can quickly and easily search for it whenever you need it.

You can also share folders with other users to create a central space for all of your shared files. This helps to prevent any bottlenecking that might occur when others are forced to wait on you to locate a specific file.

Clean desktop. Organized files. It’s a win-win for everyone.

7) Schedule a weekly or monthly cleaning.

As shown by the example we used back in the first tip, it’s easy for your desktop to get kind of, well … scary.

To ensure that you’re keeping up with desktop maintenance on a regular basis, set a recurring event on your calendar to remind you to get rid of anything unnecessary. This can be a weekly or monthly event, depending on how much damage you typically do.

organizing-desktop-calendar-event.png

How do you organize your desktop for optimal productivity? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests

Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests

It’s crucial that you take high-quality photos during a demonstration. They can make the difference between having 20 people see your message and reaching 20,000. Captivating photos and video footage can help a local event garner attention all over the country. The best images tell a clear story, capture the essence of the event, and make viewers feel like they are part of the action.

Working with a PETA outreach coordinator, you can take your activism for animals to the next level. Check out the tips below to help you get some great images from your demo and learn how to send them to PETA. We may be able to promote your event to our millions of social media followers and website readers.

When taking photos, be sure that they will answer these questions:

What’s the issue?

Whether you’re protesting against a circus that abuses animals or a restaurant that serves foie gras, anyone who sees your photos should immediately grasp what the issue is and how it causes animals to suffer. Treat this as an opportunity to educate people who are unfamiliar with the type of cruelty that your demo aims to expose.

What’s the tone?

Whether the demo is silly and lighthearted, dramatic and serious, or downright sexy, your photos should elicit a clear emotion in viewers. If, for example, your event is meant to be shocking, then photos of smiling people probably aren’t your best bet.

What makes this event special?

Your photos should make viewers stop to take a closer look. People consume media very quickly these days, so give them a reason to pause as they scroll through their Facebook news feeds. Anyone can stand at the side of a road holding a sign, so try to focus on the more eye-catching elements of the demo. If a mascot is at your event, be sure to get some shots of that. Images of children, workers in uniform, and any animal companions who have come with their guardians also tend to stand out.

These are the shots that you should always get:

The Signage

Your message is, after all, what you are trying to convey through your pictures. The signs that you photograph shouldn’t feature too many words. Pick ones with succinct, straight-to-the-point, punchy messages. Make sure that your shots of them are clear and the words are legible.

The Peak of the Action

Have your camera ready both at the beginning of the event and at points when people are most active. Demos taking place in a busy area inevitably attract more attention, so be ready for the public to get involved in one way or another. Get some shots at times when the most activists are present so that people will know that your event was a big deal.

Demo at opening of Canada Goose flagship store

The Whole Scene

Photograph the “big picture” surrounding the demo. Are you protesting outside a storefront or corporate headquarters? If so, make sure that the logo of the targeted company is visible, perhaps on a window or awning above where the activists are standing—or maybe even on the side of a building. If you’re outside an animal-unfriendly event, try to get some photos in front of the entrance or near any promotional banners that the organizers have hung. People need to know where the protest is taking place, as that will help them understand why it’s happening.

Crowd Reactions

If you’re handing out food, show people eating it. If you’re playing a sad video, capture people crying. If you have head-turning visuals, photograph the surprise on the faces of passersby. When people see others reacting, it can help shape how they react.

Some Impactful, Close-Up Shots

Ask one person with a sign to take a few steps out from the bulk of the action. Individual stories sometimes have a greater impact than the “big picture.” The full scope of animal abuse can be hard for people to take in, so showing a close-up of one person in front of the crowd helps viewers place themselves in the shoes of that activist.

Here are some final tips:

Come prepared. If you know in advance where the demo will take place, you can scope out the location beforehand. Take some test shots the day before. Note where the sun falls. See how much foot traffic the area typically experiences. That way, you won’t have to figure out all the details on the fly.

If you know there will be children present, be sure to bring something (a pen and paper or your cell phone) with which to record the contact information of their parents or legal guardians. If you provide PETA with their e-mail addresses, we can follow up by sending forms to request consent for using photos of their children.

If professional photographers show up, pay attention to what they do. You might not be a pro, but that doesn’t mean your shots can’t be just as powerful as those taken by someone working for a news wire or local TV station. If you’re unsure where to start, take inspiration from what the experts photograph. Just be sure to remain respectful. Remember: They’re there to get more eyes on the demo, too.

Then, send your photos to us.

If you’re already working on your demo with a PETA outreach coordinator, just e-mail your photos to your contact with a clear subject line and a one- or two-sentence explanation of the event for reference.

If you’re unsure which coordinator to contact, you can consult our handy map.

Never stop fighting for animals. There are plenty of other ways you can help animals through activism. Learn more now:

The post Tips on Taking the Best Photos at Demonstrations and Protests appeared first on PETA.

Action – PETA

Proven Tips for a Top-Notch Alumni Engagement Program

gradcapz.jpgYou know it’s bad when they start making parody videos about the horrors of alumni fundraising campaigns. Nothing can sap alumni energy for your school like getting donation calls again and again and again… But you need your alumni engaged to maintain your school’s relationship with them. You want them to be motivated to act on behalf of your institution and yes, donate, at the times and ways they’re able.  

 Alumni involvement may have its most valuable payoff through alumni’s power to connect with potential students with an authenticity no one else can match. Alumni can give your prospects a view into life at your school and what life might look like for them once they have a degree from your institution. 

The best way to get alumni to engage with your school is when interactions with them have nothing to do with asking for money. Here are some proven tips how to inspire engagement from alumni: 

Alumni Respond to Personalized Emails

People won’t bother with emails that don’t hit on their personalized interests and concerns. Use everything you know about each alum to tailor email content based on their unique history with your school — both off and online. Customize content based on data points such as their graduation date, program, and their preferred social media platforms. 

An email with a subject line “Join us for an alumni lunch” isn’t terribly inviting. Try an email with the subject line “Nursing program alumni lunch – come network!” instead. Now that’s a subject line that makes it clear why this email is directed to the recipient and what she’ll gain by reading it.

You need a rocking subject line to get alumni to open your emails, but don’t let the personalization stop there. Send happy birthday and graduation anniversary emails. If the career center is organizing a job fair for graphic arts students, invite recent graduates as well as current students. 

For more on email marketing for schools, check out this free resource >> 

Continue the Conversation via Social Media

Social media is the most effective option for the “little” yet highly impactful conversations you can have with alumni. Keep track of how their social media preferences change over time. 

For nearly all alumni, regardless of graduation year, LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms for career networking. LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool is a valuable tool helping people find and connect with fellow alums, but by itself, it won’t spark conversation or motivate action. Having a LinkedIn group for alumni can do that. 

If your school hasn’t already set up an alumni group, chances are good one of your alumni has. You don’t want competing groups. You can always ask the group owner for someone on your team to be added as a group administrator. Either way, your social media specialist should be an active presence in the group connecting people, sharing school updates, and asking for alumni feedback on relevant issues. 

Personalization works well in the LinkedIn group too. You can have multiple sub-groups. Create sub-groups based on different programs or industries where alumni can target their job and business networking efforts.

Use other social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook, to promote more social activities and interactions. Having alumni-specific accounts on social media provide a space where alumni interests are front and center. Social media is also the ideal channel for encouraging and sharing alumni generated content (AGC). 

Alumni Generated Content, You Say

Alumni are rich sources for your content machine. Whether they’re posting career or personal updates, sharing stories about their time at your school, or attending school events – alumni always have entertaining or informative content of interest to prospective students, current students, and other alumni.

Use your social media accounts to solicit their stories and posts. Ask specific questions, such as “Tell us three things you wish you knew by the time you graduated?” Then curate the most interesting responses. You can drop these into emails, reports, and your website.

Asking alumni to contribute an article for a school newsletter or a blog post. Or to be interviewed in a webinar, is another useful way to source content. In fact, don’t be surprised if alumni are just waiting to be asked to write something. Alumni want to give, but they can’t always give money. Especially recent grads still paying off school loans. Inviting them to engage with your school by providing content is valuable way they can donate rather than hitting the “donate” link.

In-Person Engagement Still Matters

Attending or speaking at in-person events is another opportunity for alumni to give back without opening their wallets. In-person events are spring-boards for interesting AGC, as well as ways to connect potential students with alumni. Invite alumni to speak at regional open house events for prospects or make themselves available for applicants to contact with questions. 

Active regional and national alumni groups can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to having a full calendar of alumni events. As with your social media alumni accounts, people on your team should be actively involved in giving them event ideas and being an extra pair of hands promoting the event. Using the information you have about alumni in your database, you may well be able to uncover alumni who’d be interested in specific events that the local association doesn’t know about.

If you want lifelong engagement from your alumni, market to them based on their specific interests and concerns as intently as you do in your search for new students. Alumni are the core of your school. The number of active students can only grow by so much, but your alumni pool is an ever-growing resource. If you want alumni engagement, you need to engage with them first.

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

Facebook Advertising Advice: 10 Tips From Experts at Trello, WeWork & More

facebook-ad-tips.jpg

Facebook started as a way for college classmates to communicate, and it’s since evolved into a hub for content creation, sharing, and advertising.

Over one billion active users engage on Facebook every day, which represents a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to leverage their content in front of potential customers.

The variety of targeting options available allow marketers to get the greatest value out of each ad dollar spent on this vast network, making it an ideal place to drive conversions, downloads, and lead generation. In fact, Social Media Examiner found that 55% of social media marketers use Facebook as their primary platform, and eMarketer learned that nearly 68% of all social media ad spending is on Facebook Ads. Download this free guide for data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook  Ad.

We decided to consult with a variety of successful social media marketers to learn more about their strategies for Facebook Ad targeting. Whether you’ve been advertising on Facebook for years or are just starting out, check out these lessons from the pros to maximize your social media advertising ROI.

10 Strategies for Facebook Advertising

1) Keep track of qualitative metrics.

Matt Diederichs, Social Marketing Lead at Hootsuite:

We focused on two metrics [in our Facebook Ads campaign] — video views and offer redemptions. Video views are primarily an efficiency spend, looking at the gross number of video views we can get for our investment, at the lowest possible CPV (cost per view). In the offer redemption area, we can go a bit deeper and also calculate our CPA (cost per acquisition) for each person who redeems the offer. These help us to understand whether it’s worth our investment to pay for direct customer acquisition.

Through all of this, we [also] look really hard at qualitative feedback. Facebook’s Reactions allow us to see not only how many people ‘like’ our content, but also when people ‘love’ or uh … [don’t] love our content. We also aspire for our content to be shareable, so we look for post shares and for comments on Ads. To us, that’s a leading indicator of content resonation.”

2) Take advantage of Facebook’s precise Ad targeting.

Shari Medini, Co-Host of the Push Pull Sales & Marketing Podcast:

You can target any audience [using Facebook Ads]. Almost everyone is on Facebook, and we all share incredible amounts of information about ourselves. Facebook compiles and organizes all of that data for their Ads platform so that marketers can go as broad or as narrow as they’d like. You want to target moms of young children in a 15-mile radius from a [children’s] clothing consignment store? Facebook lets you do that. You want to get young men in the sales profession between the ages of 30 and 35 to click through to your site? Facebook lets you do that.”

Andy Odom, Digital Marketing Director at Santander Consumer USA

Use the Audience Insights feature in your Ads Account to research all of Facebook, fans of your Page, or people in any custom audience to gain better insights into who they are and how to target them. You can upload [an email list] as a custom audience and serve special ads just to them.”

 Haidi Zhu, Head of Performance Marketing at WeWork:

[With Facebook Ads,] we start by analyzing the demographics of our current members to better understand who they are based on location, interests, industry, and more. We use this data to develop audiences to identify potential members and further segment down to deliver ads that feature the WeWork offerings, locations, and services that we strongly believe will benefit them most.”

3) Test different creative assets for best results.

Frank Emanuele, Co-Host of The Marketers Next Door Podcast:

Always A/B test your creative [assets]. It’s easy to think you know what will capture your audience’s attention, but you’ll be surprised when you actually test it. I always compare at least two options and track their performance carefully. Then I put my spend toward the top performer to get the most bang for my buck. I often find that the creative I liked best actually isn’t my top performer.”

4) Pay attention to what visitors do after they click.

Alicia Palmieri, Senior Social Media & Content Specialist at 2U:

2U uses the “Learn More” call-to-action because it performs well with the type of thought leadership [education] content we share.

Our end goal when advertising on Facebook is to get people to view longform, data-rich content. Since we host most of this on our website, we work with our web analytics team to track behavior of people coming from our Ads. This helps us ensure that we’re targeting the right people and providing engaging content that they will enjoy.”

5) Don’t force new trends into your Ad strategy.

 Rachael Samuels, Social Media Specialist at Sprout Social:  

It’s important to have a clear objective for your ads, clear KPIs and a desired cost-per-conversion. Identifying these metrics, setting up proper tracking and keeping a pulse on performance is key to determining ROI from social advertising.”

Aaron Moreno, Digital Advertising Specialist at Sprout Social:  

The social landscape is constantly evolving, and our social team is constantly adapting to meet the needs of our community and stay authentic in our social presence. It’s great to be aware of trends, but you shouldn’t force a trend or new network if it’s not the right fit for your brand. You have to determine a trend’s genuine value offer before diving in headfirst. If something isn’t resonating with your audience, there’s no reason to continue chasing the hype just to be seen doing it — your audience could see that as a major turnoff.”

Chelsea Hunersen, Social Media Manager at HubSpot:

The principles of creating a good post and grabbing attention are the same no matter what the medium. For example, providing clear value and connecting about [your audience’s] real needs is something I always try to do. I’m less concerned about using a new medium like video or canvas just to use it, but I will try it if the technology gives us a better way to reach our audience.”

6) Find inspiration from your competition.

Rebecca White, Community Manager at TrackMaven:

Being able to tell what your competitors are promoting on social is invaluable. Comparing our Facebook spend with that of our competitors gives us a level playing field on which to evaluate the impact of our content.”

7) Publish videos that are short and sweet.

Erica Moss, Community Manager at Trello:

Because [Facebook offers] such a small amount of real estate, it’s important to get to the point quickly with one specific call-to-action, whether it’s a discount to redeem, an event to attend or a prompt to learn more about your product or service. Avoid lofty or flowery language.

When considering images, faces and bright colors pop more (high-res only), and video can be super impactful for ads when kept to 30 seconds or less. Bonus points if your video has closed captioning so that users don’t need audio to consume your message.”

8) Don’t fixate on vanity metrics alone.

Jenna Dutcher, Content Marketing Manager at Localist.com:

Facebook Ads can be a valuable tool, but only if you put effort into actually optimizing and measuring them. We’re big fans of A/B testing here at Localist, and always have at least two iterations of an ad running, sometimes 10-20 versions, where we’ll test things as small as capitalization, imagery, headlines, and CTAs.

You also need to be mindful of what you’re measuring. Success can’t just be based on how many people click or view an ad — what does 500 clickthroughs to a post mean to you and your company?  Be sure to tie superficial metrics like this to an acquisition goal or metric that you actually value, like cost-per-download or cost-per-lead.

9) Focus on the mobile experience.

Jason Myers, Social Media Manager at The Content Factory:

Try composing, or at least previewing, your Ad on a mobile device. Most people view Ads on a phone screen which is why those with stark, text-free images and simple messages get more engagement.”

10) Experiment with video.

Ben Kessler, Director of Marketing at WeWork

We are always eager to test new products and the latest betas to innovate with our marketing. This includes 360” video, renderings, and more, all developed by our in-house team. Because WeWork is truly something you need to experience in person, we’ve seen a lot of success with video to convey our brand and message within Facebook.”

Learn From the Pros

Now that you’ve learned different strategies for successful Facebook Advertising, apply them to your next campaign. A common thread among the responses we received for this article was the importance of constantly testing and evaluating results.

Don’t hesitate to change tactics midway through a campaign to drive greater value and conversions from your Ads. If you’re unsure where to begin with launching an Ads campaign, we have a step-by-step guide to start you off on the right foot.

What advice would you give for Facebook Advertising best practices? Share with us in the comments below.

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HubSpot Marketing Blog

Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew?

For many people who have grown up celebrating Thanksgiving, the holiday for giving thanks has a underlying theme: Winning the wishbone. Besides the mounds of wonderful food and extended family gathered at many US households, there might be plenty of turkey to go around, but there is only one wishbone.

Believe it or not, competitive pursuit after a Thanksgiving turkey’s wishbone is a perfect metaphor for understanding better customer centric content marketing.  Prepare yourself for a Thanksgiving themed post without the tryptophan side effects.

5 Steps of A Wishbone Strategy Applied to Content Marketing
Here’s how the wishbone strategy works and how you can apply it to your content marketing strategy.

Thanksgiving-Turkey

Step 1: Lobby Mom to ensure turkey is on the Thanksgiving menu. Every year, there are Moms across the country who set their sights on trying some new tradition without any input from the people who will be eating the meal. To avoid a holiday dining catastrophe, kids start begging said Moms to get a Thanksgiving turkey as soon as Halloween is over. Content marketers need to listen to and understand prospect and customer interests to ensure they provide the information that matters most. To this end, consider the content your target audience needs at every point in the purchase cycle from awareness through post purchase support.

Depending on your product or services, this can translate to a variety of different types of content. Here’s an extensive list to choose from, and don’t forget to serve seasonally appropriate content which resonates with your audience. To carry on with our Thanksgiving theme, an example could be links to cool Turkey carving apps, Thanksgiving recipes or instructions for how to make paper decorations look like turkeys.

dad-carve-turkey

Photo Credit: carbonated via Flickr

Step 2: Beg Dad to carve the turkey. While this seems like pandering, in our house, Dad was a surgeon when it came to carving the bird and, unlike Mom, he carefully preserved the wishbone for a fair battle. As a marketer, it’s important to go beyond just defining your target audience to understanding what various segments want and need to attract and maintain their attention. Just as many of us play up to Dad’s carving skills, our content must also tightly synch with the needs of prospective readers.

wishbone-contender

Photo Credit: lapstrake via Flickr

Step 3: Be chosen a wishbone contender. Again, this requires advance planning. It helps to go that extra step with regard to chores and homework as well as positioning yourself nearest to the turkey when it appears fresh from the kitchen. Depending on your family, getting the wishbone can be a situation where, if you snooze, you loose. Similarly, content marketing must be available where prospects are searching for it. We all know there is a dizzying array of apps, ads, channels, widgets (and so on…) vying for our prospects’ attention.

Think strategically in terms of your communication channels such as campaign-oriented website landing pages and emails, seasonally appropriate blog posts from your CEO and instructional videos from product development. Of course don’t just duplicate, rather integrate the appropriate versions of your content on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Depending on your audience, consider third party media placement such as providing articles for other media or sponsored content. Make it easy and compelling for your prospects to choose you through relevant content.

wishbone-stance

Photo Credit: Roger Smith via Flickr

Step 4: Assess your wishbone stance. When you’re ready to wrestle for wishbone bragging rights, it’s essential to realize that an effective strategy is all about positioning. You must get your thumb as close as possible to the tip of the wishbone. Further, it helps to let your competitor take a first try since this weakens the bone on his side. In terms of content marketing, asses your messaging stance and ensure your tailored content is integrated with the rest of your marketing. This includes linking to the appropriate products in your blog posts, providing commerce on channels like Facebook where your prospects are engaging with you, or sending a post-purchase emails with helpful product usage tips. To help inspire you, check out this Clutter Control Freak post that links to the specific product, a holiday card keeper.

make-a-wish

Step 5: Make a good wish. Of course, all of this work is for naught if you don’t have a really good wish. In marketing terms, (I know this is a reach, but bear with me) this means having a contextually relevant call-to-action for your prospect to take the next step in the purchase process. A problem for many marketers is that once you’ve primed your prospect and they leave without buying, they still have an unmet need. Therefore they’ll probably purchase from another firm and, as long as they’re somewhat satisfied, they may not return to your firm – ever.

The one content marketing element missing from this wishbone list is ensuring you’ve got great information that, like the smell of your mother’s fresh cooked turkey, will lure people in. Without quality content, it’s difficult to get your prospects, customers and the public to return for seconds and thirds. You may get them once, but after that you’ll find yourself searching for new customers. Therefore, pack your content with real protein and nutrition to engage your readers over and over again.

What else would you add to this wishbone strategy? How are you ensuring your content marketing remains focused on your target audience’s needs while working to get them to close the deal?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2011. | Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew? | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

5 Email Marketing Tips for Increased Open Rates

email marketing tips

Is your message blending in or standing out in an inbox filled with emails?

Email marketing has become an essential part of engaging and targeting prospects and clients online. In fact, eMarketer reports that 97% of small businesses use email marketing to connect with customers.   There are many aspects that make up an effective email marketing program, but today I’ll focus on how marketers can increase their campaign open rates.

Email content is essential, but getting people to actually open your email is a hurdle many marketers find hard to overcome.  A deep understanding of your customer base as well as their needs and habits for proper segmentation can be key in creating an effective email marketing strategy that produces high open rates.

As marketers we must ask ourselves: If I received this email from another company, would I open it?

#1 – Make a Good First Impression

What are the two things that email recipients see before actually opening an email?  Who the email is from, and what the subject line is.  These two items are your prime real estate for enticing your audience to view your email as opposed to simply trashing it and moving on.

The Sender: Recent studies have shown that adding a personalized feel to the email can be key in increasing open rates.  Instead of sending the email from [email protected] instead utilize the first and last name of a company employee.  Setting up an email to send out messages on behalf of a company CEO or President can have a large impact on open rates.  I would also like to note that many spammers are sending out emails with female first names (without a last name) so be aware of this spamming trend and try to avoid it.

The Subject Line:  If ever there were an opportunity to convince your audience to read this is it.  Email marketing service MailChip has provided some best practice approaches to creating subject lines which include:

  • 4 Words or Phrases to Avoid: free, help, percent off, reminder
  • Localization Helps: providing a city name can increase open rates
  • Newsletter Half Life: using the exact same subject line for each newsletter can decrease open rates
  • Subject Line Strength: keep your subject to 50 characters or less with the exception of highly targeted audiences

To see some additional tips as well as some subject line examples that have been tested as well as the open rate see the study here.

#2 – Timing Isn’t Everything, But It is Important

This is a tactic that requires some common sense as well as some experimentation.  If your emails are sent too early in the morning they can get lost in the shuffle of other emails either sent late at night or early in the morning.  If your emails are sent too late in the afternoon your customer may see it as one more thing to review before quitting time and put off reading it until the morning (which will pile it under even more emails).  It is also important to keep in mind your audience.

If you are running a B2C campaign your audience may have time to check their emails either during lunch or after work.  Try experimenting with time frames that match up with that notion.  If your campaign has a B2B focus I would recommend sending emails in the afternoon or around 7 or 8 in the morning when you know they’ll be reading.  If your email marketing system allows you can always try doing some A and B testing utilizing different time frames to test open rates.

#3 – Avoid Spam Filter Traps

Spam filters analyze a large list of criteria when determining an email’s “spam score”.  If your email campaigns total spam score is over a certain threshold then it is sent to the dreaded Spam inbox.  There are some common mistakes that are easily avoidable if you know what to look for.

  • Spammy phrases such as “Once in a lifetime opportunity!”
  • Too many !!!!!!!!!
  • ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
  • Sloppy HTML

For additional tips to avoid being sent to the spam filter be sure to visit SpamAssassin.

#4 – Get Rid of Dead Weight

Depending on which email service you use there should be a report that allows you to determine which emails are either bouncing or which subscribers are not opening your emails on a consistent basis.  Your open rate can be dramatically increased by pulling people from your list who never open your emails.  I wouldn’t recommend deleting their emails completely.  Instead, do some digging to find where the email subscriber originally came from so that you can create a more targeted campaign to get them re-engaged.

#5 – Refine the Sign Up Process & Email Targeting

Make it easy for people to sign up to receive email correspondence from your company.  Having potential customers jump through hoops to receive your marketed material is a poor strategy.  In order to make this process effective and engaging perhaps you could provide a fulfillment piece or whitepaper during the initial sign up as a take away and then continue to market based upon their needs.

The more refined your targets within your campaigns are the more likely you are to achieve success with your email marketing campaign.  Creating separate nurture campaigns for prospects and influencers within different industries and job roles is a great way to begin tracking and improving success rates.

What is a Good Open Rate?

Now that we’ve covered 5 important tips for improving the open rate of your email marketing campaigns, I thought that providing some sort of standardization for open rates by industry might also be useful. Open rate is one of the most commonly ased questions with email marketing clients. While you make the decision to implement each of the tips above, it’s important to understand that the open rate of your email marketing campaigns can differ based upon your industry and target market.

Image Credit: Constant Contact

What are some of the tips you’ve followed to increase your email marketing open rates? What are some of the top resources you rely on for email marketing advice?


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Email Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

5 Marketing Tips for Improving Customer Relationships & ROI With Better Communications

If you keep customers happy they will continue to buy

Improved communication turns one time buyers into lifelong customers.

As marketers and sales professionals there is no doubt that we are focused on obtaining new customers and increasing awareness within targeted market segments.  However, we must also consider the lifetime value of our existing customers and how marketing communications can contribute to that relationship.  Taking the time to examine what kind of communications can keep your brand top of mind with customers and inspire continued awareness for repeat sales and referrals is of enormous value.

Do you know how much your current customers are worth to your company?  In recent years research has found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%.  Armed with the knowledge that satisfied customers has a direct impact on your bottom line, there is no time like the present to begin targeting your current customers.  Here are 5 tips on better customer communications you can start using right now:

Tip #1 – Personalized Email Communication

96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance

 

96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance.


Creating a steady flow of email communication for customers is not a new concept.  However, how many email campaigns do you send out that are segmented based on purchasing habits or preferences?  Say that you have studied the data relating to your current customers and have identified approximately 5 profiles or personas.  Based on customer information find the persona that best fits each customer.  Then create an email drip campaign for each customer segment with different content based on need.  Keep in mind that the subject line, internal content, and calls to action within the email should be personalized based on customer segment.

Tip #2 – Create A Stellar FAQ Page

53% of customers who shop online more than once a month find customer service extremely or very important

 

53% of customers who shop online more than once a month find customer service extremely or very important.

 

Creating readily available and easy to find information is Customer Service 101.  It does not matter if you are B2B, B2C, technology, retail, or any other type of company; your customers will have questions.  A Frequently Asked Questions page on your website, social profiles, or other web destinations should be updated on a regular basis to include new questions or comments.  FAQ’s are also an additional opportunity to optimize content for improved visibility online.  It is important to remain consistent with your answers, provide a clean and easy to read page, and update or remove items that may no longer apply.  If you sell multiple products you may want to consider creating additional pages for each product.  Also, if you sell a product or service that requires assembly or setup you may want to provide instructional videos for your customers.

Tip #3 – Social Networking Channels = Customer Service Opportunity

40% of corporate Twitter accounts engage stakeholders on customer service issues

 

40% of corporate Twitter accounts engage stakeholders on customer service issues.

 

Last week we shared the example of JetBlue’s customer focused approach on Twitter.  While Twitter may not be a customer solution for all marketers there is an opportunity to utilize your existing social media channels as a way of providing additional customer service for your customers.  Customer service does not only include answering questions or dealing with problems it could also include: sharing useful articles or information, notifying customers of upcoming promotions, or reaching out to customers that are inactive.  Consideration must also be paid to the time of day that your customers are most likely to spend their time online.  There are tools available like Timely, Buffer or Hootsuite which enable you to schedule your Twitter communications during a particular time of day for the highest impact.

Tip #4 – Create Content Based on Customer Need

36% of B2B marketers listed producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge.

 

36% of B2B marketers listed producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge.

 

If planned for and organized appropriately, content creation can be executed efficiently and successfully.  A successful content strategy will focus on the needs, pain points, and triggers of your customers.  There are many ways to identify what those needs are including: customer surveys, research, and creation of customer personas based on buying habits.  Implementing a well thought out and concise customer survey can give you additional insight into what makes your customers tick.  A survey is also a great opportunity to crowdsource content from your customers for your customers.  Who better qualified to tell you what they want to read about than those who are purchasing your products or services?

Tip #5 – Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates

500 billion peer impressions are made per year

 


500 billion peer impressions are created each year.

 

It is extremely important that you tap into your existing customer base to find individuals or organizations who are willing to advocate on your behalf.  You could ask customers for: written or video testimonials, permission to use them as references, or employ them as a brand advocate to share information with their networks.  As user generated content becomes increasingly popular and credible, keeping your customers happy will continue to become even more essential.

Action Items:

Committing to providing customer support online is something that I recommend every company do no matter what industry you work in.  If you don’t keep your customers happy, someone else will.  I would like to leave you with the following questions that I hope will help you determine what tactics your company should implement to improve your customer service and communication online.

  • How would you rate your current level of online customer service?
  • Do you currently have a plan in place to improve your communication?
  • What tactics have you implemented that have worked?
  • What companies do you personally buy from that provide excellent online communication?
  • What impact has that communication had on your purchasing decisions?

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