Inbound marketing

Your guide to creating the ultimate email marketing subject lines

By Hannah Sheffield IMI Marketing Coordinator

So you have something to say. You want to use email because it generates revenue. How do you get potential customers to actually look at the information? How do you get people to open the email in the first place?

We know how. Here are five examples of subject lines to help you increase open rates for your email marketing:

Pop-culture references/integrations. Ever heard of DJ Khaled? Popular news service TheSkimm used a saying from this Snapchat-famous entertainer in a marketing email targeting millennials and Gen Z. The subject line was “Major Key Alert.” Because young people in this target audience were more likely to be familiar with DJ Khaled and understand the “major key alert” reference, they were more compelled to open the email message.

Timely conveniences (for the customer). Yes, there are “best practices” for when to send emails. Does your company have to stay within those parameters? No. Companies can generate business by sending emails during off-peak hours. One example of a timely convenience would be a food and beverage magazine sending an email at 5:15 p.m. The subject line could be “Where to Get the Best Beer Right Now." How convenient would that be for the target audience? Even if you’re not sending an email during an optimal time for open rates, that's okay. There are other benefits to sending a creative subject line at off-peak times if you think creatively. You might even see an increased click-through-rate by venturing outside the established parameters. 

Indirect testimonials. Use these to appeal to professionals who want to see results. This type of subject line should showcase benefits of your product or service. One example of an indirect testimonial is “How (target business name) can build a presence on social media." The key with this tactic is to personalize the subject line. Insert the name of the business to which you’re sending the email.

Subject line and preview text working together. This doesn’t mean starting a sentence in the subject line and finishing it in the preview text. Each should be a complete thought that complements the other. One example subject line from Buzzed is: “Not Cool, Guys." The preview text that followed: "Okay, WHO left the passive-aggressive sticky note on my fridge. Honestly, who acts like this?” This authentic, light, conversational tone draws you in. Use appropriate brand voice for your company, though.

Scary/inspiring. All right, maybe not scary. But, you should write a subject line to position your product/service as time-sensitive. Doing so will create a sense of urgency. One example from fashion designer Tory Burch urges readers to open before an upcoming holiday. The subject line reads: “There’s still time: great Valentine’s Day gifts." Another example: Wayfair, a furniture retailer, inspired and complimented in one of its latest subject lines by writing, “Hey there, trendsetter. Save on must-have modern accent furniture."

Check out the other examples in the infographic below:

Remember to keep in mind...

It's important to align your message with the personas for your target audience. As the writer, you don’t want to come up with something that your audience just won’t understand. For instance, yes, a lot of people watch The Bachelor. But if one of your email segments is adult males between the ages of 45-54, you don’t need to make references of what “Sarah” from the Bachelor did last night. Got it?

We want to hear about other clever subject lines! Share your favorites with us in the comment section below.

Finding your brand's voice

By Hannah Sheffield IMI Marketing Coordinator

 

So you’re creating content for your brand. How do you establish credibility? How do you show your customers that your brand has something important to offer them? You can show your company’s value through a uniform tone of voice, language and style. You can also do so through the production and distribution of content. This consistency is otherwise known as brand voice.

Brand voice is essential for customer recognition. Beyond that, your brand voice is a representation of your company’s values, status, employees and service/product offerings. If you're developing a content marketing strategy, begin with these considerations to develop your brand’s voice:

Nail down four characteristics. Ask what sets your brand apart from others. How does your brand share or explain a concept to a client? List each characteristic with one word. For example:
    1    Witty
    2    Realistic
    3    Engaging
    4    Visionary
When deciding on characteristics that define your brand, it will help to review content that the company has already produced. When reviewing, you might be able to spot trends in language or in an overall feeling of the content.

Outline your company’s values. This is important to convey to prospective customers. You want your brand content to “bleed” your values. Everything your company produces should reflect your brand. If done consistently, your brand will have value associated with every piece of content produced or every product sold. Here are examples of companies that have used consistent brand voice. Each is now associated with certain characteristics:
    1    Volvo: Safe
    2    Chanel: Sophisticated
    3    Subaru: Dependable
    4    Ford: American Classic

Keep the customer in mind. How can your brand communicate your business offerings to satisfy customer wants and needs? Keep in mind that your tone should not only reflect your employees and company values, but the customer base as well. Many of your efforts will be to retain or obtain customers. Considering their needs and interests is vital for your brand voice to be heard.

What do you want people to know about you? Develop three concepts about your brand that you want to convey. These concepts should align with your content marketing goals. Keep those in mind when creating content. Consider how you can show your customers what your brand values and who the people behind the brand are. Use your brand voice to deliver value to your target customers day in and day out.

Parting Thoughts

If people are the strength behind your brand, show it. The brand tone of voice should reflect company values, culture, and characteristics. You can build up your brand by using uniform diction and tone. When your company and content creators are able to integrate brand voice into content, your marketing will stop feeling like marketing. Your customers will know your brand without needing a logo or signage. And that’s one thing your company should be aiming for.

Using video as the vehicle to tell your brand's story

By Hannah Sheffield IMI Marketing Coordinator

It's common knowledge that video has taken over the internet. Everyone is either watching video or making it. Companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-users (Aberdeen). With statistics like that, how could your business not want to utilize video?

The question, then, is what type of video do you produce that has a longer shelf life and still serves a purpose for your brand? The solution is a brand identifying video. Something that describes your brand in a short amount of time. What elements should you consider when developing the concept for your brand's video? Here's one example of a brand identity video from Cole Haan.

Here are our top pro tips to creating a video to enhance your brand:

Have a strong, captivating lead-in. This video starts off with soft music and then gradually begins to show the subject. The voice-over starts, and the story begins. Rather than jumping right into the story, viewers are able to understand the tone of the video and the brand’s voice.

Lay out your company's values and thought process. Let your consumers know how you see your brand. In the CMO of Cole Haan’s first sentence, David Maddocks says what he appreciates about what a brand values.  Later on in the video, Maddocks says, “We really don’t consider ourselves a part of a particular industry. We think about ourselves as being a part of a culture.” This statement positions the brand as an essential part of a society’s nature, rather than just another company to be overlooked.

Integrate your company's history to outline its future. Maddocks gives a brief history and talks about how the brand is evolving to accommodate for what its consumers value. Maddocks outlines the future for Cole Haan by describing how the company culture is being built around the company’s convictions.

Talk about what your audience desires and how your brand intersects with those wants and needs. What sets this video apart from other branding videos? David Maddocks recognizes what Cole Haan’s target audience doesn’t care about. Maddocks knows the desires of his target audience (knowing how a brand is relevant to them). He acknowledges that Cole Haan’s target audience calls the shots, and that the brand is there to complement these people as they evolve.

 

To begin the process of creating a branding video you have to ask yourself: How does my brand intersect with my target audience's values? Know your personas and know them cold. In order to make a video that appeals emotionally and logically to your audience, you need to know what that audience values.

If you have any insight you’d like to share about branding video formats please share with me in the comments below!

Casting talent for your video project

Internal versus professional talent

by Beatriz Terrazas, IMI co-founder

There are many ways to fill a talent role for your visual message. At InMotion Imagery we draw from several talent agencies for narration and acting roles in our clients’ videos. However, there can be compelling reasons for using talent within your company. For instance, you may want to feature an employee profile as a way to recruit new talent, or you may want to show actual employees in their everyday roles for an internal training video. Or, you may have a tight budget and feel that you can’t afford professional talent for your project.

In fact, cost is one of the main reasons clients cite for wanting to use internal talent. Yes, you’ll pay for professional talent to voice or act in your company video, and you might think the main cost involved in using someone within your company is time and energy. But, there could be hidden costs to using your own talent. 

Professional actors are experienced at taking direction, reading narration, using proper inflection, and, in general, are comfortable in front of the camera. But let’s say your budget dictates that you use a family member or employee instead, and you plan for a couple of hours of production time with that person. What happens to your budget if you have to spend double or triple that time because your talent couldn’t get the line or scene right? What happens to your project deadlines if you have to re-shoot parts of your project entirely? How does this affect not just your time, but your overall feeling about the project? 

Remember: Your visual message is a marketing tool. You want the people delivering the message to be able to do it well.

If you still want to produce your visual message with internal talent, here are some tips to help you get it right:

  • Planning is everything. Consider doing some informal “casting” among the folks you’re considering for this part using a real camera, even if it’s the one on your smartphone. See how people come across on camera.
  • If this is a speaking role, consider people who are articulate and present themselves well in terms of dress, grooming and demeanor. It’s not necessary to be a super-model or to look like a Hollywood actor, but it is necessary to be well-groomed and well-spoken.
  • Consider how even the most articulate person will do in front of a camera. Some people do very well, while others get nervous or flustered. Will you be asking the person to memorize a script? Will you be using a teleprompter? Will you be doing an interview style production? Think about who will do best with each scenario.
  • Is diversity of gender, race and ethnicity important to your company? If it’s something that you want to come across in your message, consider casting someone who will represent the diversity that matters to you.

Here's an example of a project in which clients used their own employees and brought in their own talent for the main role and it worked beautifully!


Live streaming: Why you should be on board now.

Live streaming is changing how we interact

by Hannah Sheffield, IMI marketing coordinator

Live streaming platforms such as Meerkat and Periscope are changing how consumers interact with brands. With the advent of live streaming apps, brands can give consumers much more intimate and immediate access to products and events than typical social media (think Twitter and Snapchat) ever could. It’s these types of innovative apps (and utilizing them creatively) that excite and engage consumers, especially millennials.

One way such live streaming apps are changing brand interaction is by adding to the increased use of vertical video. And for those of you who aren’t on the “vertical video” bandwagon, Periscope’s new update now allows users to capture horizontal video as well. Halleluja, because as our executive producer Beatriz Terrazas says, “vertical video is so inorganic to the art.” 

One notable feature of Meerkat is the ability to schedule an upcoming video stream up to 24 hours in advance. With all of these features, it’s no wonder that live streaming apps are being used by a growing number of higher-end companies.

How to use live streaming platforms

Here are some suggested uses for these apps in your marketing strategy:

  1. Discount codes/promotions: These apps can give your customers a first look at new products that haven’t been launched yet. This could be the perfect opportunity to cross-promote your social media network, as well.
  2. Resolve customer issues: This is the perfect way to interact with customers who seem to have an issue with your product(s). Live streaming could be a viable option for addressing complaints and offering solutions.
  3. Informational videos: According to Prime Infographics, 65 percent of all people are visual learners. What better way to teach someone how to use your product than through video? Having an employee stream and actually show the proper way to use a product or service is one way to go.

Future of live streaming

Just as with every other social media platform, advertisers will find a way to weasel themselves into the mix. There isn’t a way for advertisements to be shown yet; however, we predict that the opportunity will arise soon enough. 

One of the best things about these live streaming apps is that they can be used by many different types of companies, organizations, and people. While Periscope is starting to eclipse other live streaming platforms, it’s probably just a matter of time before it has a legitimate competitor. 

Sources:

http://www.socialbro.com/why-these-brands-are-getting-periscope-right/

http://tvrev.com/jon-erlichman-the-future-of-periscope/#.VgxB1bQ-Ci4

http://primeinfographics.com/65-of-all-people-are-visual-learners/


About video marketing--an occasional series

Video marketing is here to stay

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The next big thing is in full swing

Video marketing has been “the next big thing” since 2006 when Google purchased YouTube and everyone started paying attention to it. It’s no longer “the next big thing.” It’s now “the” big thing and if your business isn’t on board then it’s sorely missing out. Maybe you’re like many marketers and business owners who know they should focus on a video strategy but don’t know where to start or how to be successful with it. Over the next several weeks and months, we’ll offer you an occasional series in all things video marketing here on this blog. You’ll learn what video marketing is and what it isn’t, why it’s gone from being an optional to a must-have strategy, how to succeed at it, and much more. Come along for the ride. You’ll be a video marketing pro in no time, and your business will be exponentially better for it. To get started, ask yourself:

Why should I care about video marketing?

The 3 Ps of why you should care about video marketing

Power: 1.8 million words … that’s the value of one minute of video according to Dr. James McQuivey, a marketing expert with Forrester Research. Do you have enough time to write 1.8 million words about your business? It would take you well over a year of writing non-stop for 8 hours a day. Creating a video strategy takes a lot less time than that!

Presence: Including a video on your website will have immediate effects on your web presence/SEO. Pages with video are 53 times more likely to rank on the first page of Google search results according to Forrester Research. And, according to ReelSEO, video results have a 41 percent higher click-through-rate than plain text results. Posts with videos attract three times more inbound links than plain text posts, cite analytics experts at Moz. 

Possibilities: Consider all the possible uses and topics already at your disposal for video marketing. How did your company begin?  Is there an interesting story about your founders?What’s unique about your products and services? Why do people love working there? Do you have a process that’s best explained with visuals? Do you partner with a non-profit, and if so, why? So many brand stories are more effectively told with video than with words alone. 

Check back here for more in this occasional series on video marketing, and how to put it to work for you. And remember, at IMI, we're experts at this. Let us help you maximize your marketing efforts with video marketing.

 

Invasion of the young professionals

The millennial influx

by Hannah Sheffield, IMI marketing coordinator

As the new year begins, many of us are ready to roll out new marketing strategies. We're keeping some old ideas and tossing others to make way for new ones. Before you get too far down the road, however, here's some compelling information about the way one generation is changing the way we all do business.  

Not long ago young professionals only held entry-level positions in order to gain experience that would eventually help them achieve C-Level status. Not anymore. Millennial professionals are increasingly holding more influence in the workplace and as consumers. 

Today, millennial consumers are not only a huge target market for almost every business, but in most workplaces, they have become decision influencers over the decision makers. In other words, C-Level executives in the company may have the final say, but they look to the millennials on the team for guidance on which way to go.

Not convinced? Look at these stats:

  • In 2018, millennial consumers are expected to hold about $3.39 trillion in annual buying power in the U.S. (Oracle). 
  • Research done by the firm EY found that 87 percent of millennial workers took on management positions in the last five years, as opposed to the combined 57 percent of Gen X and Baby Boomers being promoted. 

Here are some tips to relating and appealing to the young professionals invading businesses—likely including yours—from every angle:

Connecting with the millennial consumer

Keep in mind that individuals in the “millennial” category are just that—individuals. They don’t want to be grouped into binding categories. That said, as a group, millennials tend to appreciate authenticity, honesty, and transparency. All of these values should be kept in mind when creating a strategy to target your millennial customers. 

The characteristics of millennials should guide your strategy creation. Gaining contact information for this market segment would be ideal; however, you have to earn the trust of the consumer first. In order to do this, you have to relate to them by marketing your company as having their shared values.

Only six percent of millennials consider online advertising to be credible. On the other hand, 95 percent of them believe their friends are the most credible source of purchasing information (SocialChorus). Simply launching an ad campaign won’t do the trick to win over millennials. 

One way to insert yourself into the millennial trust triangle is to start a word-of-mouth campaign. These can be difficult, but with the right planning, your company can build credibility by word of mouth. Just look at this video that Chipotle had done, for example: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE

One intention of this video marketing tactic was to get people talking. What did Chipotle want them to talk about? The brand, the company’s values, and most importantly, the quality of its products. This video successfully achieved the goals of encouraging people to think about the topic raised, and to promote conversation about it.

Persuading the millennial leader

In order to appeal to a millennial decision influencer, it’s important to understand his or her leadership style. And this differs from the traditional top-down leadership of previous generations. The millennial leader tends to be open, inclusive, transparent, and promotes a team-oriented interaction style.

When communicating with millennial leaders, it’s also important to produce content that's accessible, fair, trustworthy, and inclusive. If you think about it, millennials have grown up during a time in which race, gender, sexual orientation, and opinion is very diverse. Inclusivity is incredibly important to millennials.

It will be vital to appeal to millennials for years to come. We hope these tips will help you tap into the purchasing and influencing power that millennials hold.