Posts tagged #DIY

All The Email Tips Your Assistant Isn't Using

^ Your face when you see what's been sent out to all your customer base ^

^ Your face when you see what's been sent out to all your customer base ^

Spam Assassin and blacklisted words –
Many email servers will look for specific blacklisted words that are utilized by spam services. When these are seen in subject lines or redundant within the content, they are often blacklisted and you will not be allowed to publish on that server again. Avoid the following words and offer styles:

  • Free, BOGO, %, 
  • Act now, For limited time
  • Subject lines and Pre-headers that utilize sexually oriented, pornographic, hate related and or profanity

Use emojis in your subject line! Whether to accent specific words or make them part of your call to action (CTA). Experian noted that fifty-six percent of brands using emoji in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate.

Preheaders —
Nothing gives your reader more piece of mind that you do not spam than a solid preheater. This supports the valuable context of your subject line and can help your open rate.

Scripted Personalization –
Email services offering <inserted name> personalized subject lines are 25% + more likely to be opened.

Content priority —
Use sectional layouts to break up your content and priority — make sure that your primary call to action is listed closer to the top, and then as you descend do so in the matter of importance.

The "Inverted Pyramid" (see example below) –
When laying out your primary CTA utilize the inverted pyramid, structuring the elements of your email so they work together to draw the reader to your CTA, such as a button, video or hyperlink.

^ Click for Enlargement ^

Dimension –
Your email width should be a minimum of 640 pixels, with a maximum of 800 prior to a background color. While I've only outlined width here, my suggestion would be to ensure that the email is not so lengthy as to overstep its intent.

File Size –
Ensure that any large JPEG has been compressed properly to maximize file size.

Alt Text – 
Many email servers still publish an email in text format prior to an HTML format. Therefore, if you want to ensure that you have text in the place of imagery, allowing Alt Text to display in its place.

Hyperlink all images –
If the reader touches any graphic on an email it should be redirected to a location of your choosing. Therefore, take the time to ensure that you have hyperlinked any image to be forwarded to a destination based upon your campaign or messaging.

Negative Space – 
This design principle is simply adding ample white space (or colored “negative space”) around the elements, both text, and images allowing the reader to discern one section from another.

Mobile-friendly –

  • Keep your subject line short
  • Use preheader text
  • Use minimal body copy
  • 16pt sized font usage is a good size for mobile viewing
  • Ensure that your images are large enough to see (I'm a particular advocate of square formatting as well).
  • Place a minimum of two CTA Buttons with in an email, one after your inverted pyramid design, and one at the bottom of your content, prior to your social media icons.
  • Ensure that any CTA buttons are a color that will stand out in contrast to the primary tones used an email.

Video & Animation –
While many of the newer email services allow you to embed video, older lists and legacy email applications often do not. Therefore, my suggestion is always to put an animated GIF in the place of a video and link to the location of the video within the GIF.

While it's not an actual video, readers are more apt to click through to see the real video, than simply using a static image.

While it's not an actual video, readers are more apt to click through to see the real video, than simply using a static image.

A/B Test –
If your email services offer A/B testing of subject lines or body content, ensure that you utilize this. There are an array of metrics that you should keep your eye on to ensure maximum open rate such as:

  • Does your audience prefer shorter or longer subject lines?
  • Do you have any successful trigger words/emojis? (e.g. "Awesome" "Immediately" etc.)
  • Heat mapping your emails will show you where your readers are apt to click on the page. Over the course of several emails, you'll begin to see useful patterns and redundancies. 
  • The emotional tone of the email content
  • Types of photography chosen

Social Media Icons –
Always be sure to include social media icons to your social graph, in the footer of your email. Additionally, a way to bolster interest in a specific channel is to get a graphic (such as an Instagram photo) that came from that particular channel and link the image to it.

Contact & Feedback –
Creating a contact link is one thing, but often readers assume it is simply to engage in a course of action with the content. While feedback links are often seen as a more passive way of communicating one's opinion but not committing to the content. Lines of communication are extremely important and worthy of aggregate.

Layout Madness –
Be careful not to have too many fonts or style variations on your layout. It's obnoxious and has the uncanny ability to make your messaging come across and amateurish. Only, BOLD items that are impactful, and match your TEXT colors to fall in lockstep with your brand or main image.

^ Click to Enlarge – if you want your eyes to bleed ^

Posted on September 5, 2017 and filed under Advertising, Brand, Content, Process.

Trolls: Turn That Frown Upside Down

Well often the community as a whole will take care of the 'trolls' (as they are called), but if your community is not loyal or not strong (active) enough there are a couple of tactics to take:

  • "Kill them with kindness." Nothing looks worse for a troll than a company doing their very best to appease his requests.
  • Outline the problem in great detail publicly (on Facebook, twitter, etc.) and resolve with as much care.
  • If you can always overtly familiarize the troll with product or service.
  • If they're being slanderous (privately) extend a very polite and legal cease and desist - he may post it publicly so it's important that you're not threatening in any way.
  • Show them your SocialMedia SOP (or create one) and insure them that you're speaking to them honestly.
  • Unless completely profane don't remove the posts; it will just fuel their fire.
  • Click through to their Facebook profile and go down to the lower left hand corner and "Report/Block This Person" and detail the reason if need be.
  • Assign him a "shrink" - this is a social media expert that will work one-on-one with the person to resolve the issue if there is indeed a way to resolve it.
  • If all else fails and they've made you a "hobby of hate" you can sue them for "Tortious Interference" - when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships. This is often hard to prove, but to your credit you'll have had all the posts to reference with digital time stamps. If you can prove a legitimate association to dropping sales or negative feedback during the time of the individual you [might] have a case. 

Though let it be known I'm not an attorney, I'm a superhero.

Posted on January 20, 2011 and filed under Process, Social Media, Strategy.

Blog Posts Are Where You Find Them

A close friend of mine and I were talking online the other day about 'what he wants to be when he grows up,' so to speak, and one of the things I advocated is that he write a blog. Not only is a blog a good hobby that increases your writing and literary skills, but it separates you from many in whatever particular vertical that you're in. His response is quite common in that "I don't feel like I do anything special, at least not enough that someone would want to read about it." Well let me tell you a little bit about this person and you tell me if it wouldn't peek your interest.

He's a 23-year-old pop/metal musician; he's going to school for web design and graphic design; he's a budding self-taught photographer that captures amazing images; he works as a fraudulent security investigator for a well known software developer; he wants to work with kids (in a high school concealing), especially those afflicted by meth addiction and he's struggling day-to-day in the current economy trying to find his way. Knowing this about him, he feels there's nothing to talk about!?! Well let me count the ways:

  • Write to upstart musicians that have never started a band, tell them how to find other like-mined musicians.
  • What do you look for in a singer?
  • How can you be a band on a budget?
  • What's good equipment on the cheap?
  • Push your music online for open feedback.
  • Talk about your job, what's right and what's wrong in the process.
  • What is the likely future of your position?
  • Talk about internal processes (be mindful not to out your company in so doing) and how they can be streamlined.
  • Talk about what inspires you as a person, musician, lover and friend.
  • Ask questions openly about your photography, music and design to solicit expert advice.
  • TALK ABOUT METH! It's going to be a hard pill to swallow but it's high time that America wake up to this epidemic.
  • Talk about what can help parents understand what to do, how to talk to their kids and what the warning signs are.
  • Talk about being 23 in a shitty economy.
  • Talk about your dreams.

There are countless other bullets I could put in this kid's gun, but the force is strong with this one and I hope to be his Obie-Wan (short of the dying in a light saber dual, though if you gotta' go that's not a bad way to step out). Thinking about this really inspired me to think about what I do when I get frustrated and cannot come up with something to say in my blog.

Therefore, here are some tips that just might help you as a creative resource:

  • Checkout – post the presentation and write an evaluation of it and your takeaways.
  • Watch videos online, post them and write an evaluation of it.
  • 'Copy & Paste' a chat that you find funny, interesting or telling. (Be sure to let the other participant know that's what you're going to do)
  • Make up a chat you wish you had!
  • Things you overheard and how you interpret it.
  • Once you get enough blog posts, you can do a 'greatest hits' or 'best of' for that year.
  • Numbered lists! People LOVE numbered lists! 8 reasons why this, or 10 steps for maximum that.
  • Ratings and reviews of anything that you do with great frequency and could honestly answer blog comments about.
  • Go to, post a video and tell the reasons why.
  • Take some photos and post them to your photo sharing site of choice and tell people about those photos.
  • Construct your own ranking system for something that you use, do or interact with and make it a reoccurring post.
  • Create themed post for the month, season or holiday.
  • Expose your weaknesses and ask for help.
  • Take a topical moment in your life and post comparative viewpoints on that point.
  • Recant a story from your childhood.
  • Talk about the things/brands you use the most everyday and why you love or hate them.
  • Create a fictitious character and put them within a story as a metaphor to a directive.
  • Advocate charities and ways of being good to one another.

Going to the well - These are easy topics that you can always pull out for content and should be easy for you to write:

  • Talk about family.
  • Talk about your job.
  • Talk about something topical in the news (the faster you do this the more traffic it usually aggregates to your blog); be sure to link to your source.
  • Talk about your favorite things, hobbies, music and anything that will allow your reading audience to feel as if they have a deeper understanding, and more importantly, a more intimate connection to you and your posts.

Brilliant blog inspiration from brilliant bloggers:

Posted on December 19, 2010 and filed under Blogging, Interactive, Social Media, Storytelling.

Surviving The Direct Hit: Losing A Big Client

All business owners go through it – a big client relationship ends. How it ends is a tale that only that particular business and scenario can tell. But a 'cash cow' leaving the field has many levels to it, much like the tale of lovers braking up. There's remorse, confusion, anger and most of the time resolution. That's all good and great on paper and makes it sound like everything will be ok in time, just ride it out all "kumbaya" and here comes the sun.

Well the truth is it's more like when the Starship Enterprise takes a direct hit:

  • Shields go down
  • Tempers go up
  • There's lots of screaming
  • The ensuing hits take out smaller clients, increasing the sense of impending doom
  • Vendor ships flee from formation, scared they're next
  • Oxygen is quickly sucked from accounts receivable
  • Everyone panics and starts to delete files
  • People run around and start stealing the lamps from the offices of the people that got sucked out into the void of unemployment
  • There's lots of people looking for retribution both from the bridge to the families of red-shirts lost
  • And in a lot of cases, the ship goes hurling down down into the gravity of the adjacent planet only to burn up, crash or (in some very rare cases) be sucked up with a tractor beam to an adjacent competitive ship
  • Executives jump into the last of the severance-filled escape pods and try to jettison to nearby agencies

Surviving this moment takes great leadership, strength, a level-head and a bit of luck. The truth is that the first rule of business is don't put all your eggs in one basket. Just like a stock portfolio, you must diversify your clients, services and strengths. If your whole business is predicated on a single relationship, you're destined to end in said fiery ball of doom. While this is not necessarily the case with your service, you CAN indeed provide one or a niche level of practice, as long as your not doing it for one client.

Young advertising agencies often fall victim to this. Young advertising agencies start up because of that one cash cow that they managed to land. The hired someone that brought the work with them, won the dream RFP or came from that client and convinced them they were the better choice. Regardless of the how, young agencies rapidly try to ramp up to appear like the next place to be. "CONSIDER US!" Just make sure that in that time, you're still doing all the things that made that cash cow want to eat from your field.

As quickly as humanly possible, you need to put efforts toward balancing client base. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • First and most importantly, you must have all clients agree to legal contracts that protect both parties
  • Construct a board of directors that are outside of your business; diversify business types within said council
  • Within these contracts, always put a minimum of 90 days to reevaluate/close a relationship (this gives you the opportunity to make things right within that time as well)
  • Always have at least two outstanding RFP's or organic growth opportunities awaiting approval at all times
  • Don't overload a business vertical with clients
  • Within a vertical, create unique teams to support the client at the highest level and should that client collapse, it would not effect all agency members
  • Often, if seeking new directives, it's best to create a joint venture (JV) or create a company within your own to support just that directive. You see this often with interactive divisions as well as software and applicational departments
  • Make sure, even on day one that you're following a business plan, staying conservative and preparing for adversity
  • While I won't get into cash reserves for your company it's safe to say you should (in a best case scenario) have a minimum of three months for all expenses, including salary in the bank

Reality Vs. Perception
Some of the toughest things to fit after taking a direct hit is the community's perception that you're going out of business. You can soften this impact, of course, by having several large clients in queue – but the likelihood of this is probably minimal. The best thing to do is to go into a conservative front-facing message of "business as usual." Dogs can smell fear, like bees and wild hobos. The last thing you want to do is show weakness by screaming that "EVERYTHING IS FINE! THERE'S NOTHING TO SEE HERE!" It's important to note that any messaging should also be vetted by legal to make sure it's not in any conflict with said departure of cash cow. God forbid you're ever in a situation where you're fighting for your legal life, the last thing you want is someone bitching up a storm about what a pain-in-the-ass that client was and here's why...

Crisis Management
You hear this term often as it pertains to theft, weather damage, internal malice and other reasons. You don't, however, hear this term used when it comes to losing a large client, which in all cases is more likely than the former mentioned items. Therefore, it's a good idea to have a "break in case of cow death" manual. Worst case scenario for client loss, if you will. The best way to go about this document is to look to your board, and there are also countless books available that cover such subject matter. This, though, should be part of your thinking even as your build your business. Also, for a digital shop, it should go without saying that all of your primary assets are digital and that you should have redundancy for your files, concrete backup rituals and offsite hosting. But like I said, that goes without saying. ;)

Transparent Theater
It's hard when you're adversely affecting in business. People get laid off, morale goes in the shitter' and the paranoid ones start their job search that afternoon. So what's the best thing to do? Tell your team everything within reason. Disclose fiscal amounts, issues, what, why, when and where you intend to cut costs and let them ask questions. If one person asks a question, you can bet half your staff wanted to. It's important to treat your staff like the adults that they are. The disruption of this kind is so impactful that if you're secretive about it, it will only serve to do you more harm than good. You'll simply be alienating your staff and creating an "us" and "them" internally, and if that's you, stop reading my blog, you're an asshole and I loath you.

Universal Cuts With Goal Oriented Deadlines
Beyond the fact that it's illegal not to, if you must cut salaries, do so across the board. Additionally, those making the most should indeed take the largest percentage loss, followed by executives, management and then staff. Also try, if you can, to set a deadline that these cuts will be lifted. This will improve morale immediately and offer an incentive to work harder towards that day. Lastly, if you're really daring, you can even go as far as to make a promise to repay that money and convey it as somewhat of a loan that everyone is offering with this sacrifice to the greater good. Taking these steps will make a great deal of difference across all personnel.

Cultural Therapy
One thing that is imperative, especially for smaller companies, is cultural therapy. Cultural therapy is the understanding that whatever shake-up that comes from losing business, albeit lay-offs, cut backs or salary cuts, these things happen. You have to be an adult, too. Culture and morale come from the combined understanding that decisions are made for the best reasons for the company. The fact that people, clients and work you care about might be gone is a hard pill to swallow. There's always a sense of dread and self-pity that comes from these moments. You'll find that you'll most likely have people leave out of (what they perceive is) personal preservation. I should know, I've been that person. You have to let them go.

On the other hand, while it's not 'business as usual,' you cannot stay in mourning any longer than you can stop work because it's raining outside. Make your staff dive deep into their work and embrace the moment openly as a tough loss.

Social Lockdown & "Rumor Cancer"
You'll never stop people from talking. Let me repeat that – you'll NEVER stop people from talking. Before janitorial hits the lights, guaranteed every other agency within your size and discipline will know that the client's gone and have heard a dozen reasons why that is the case. "Chatter" will run it's course. "Rumor" will infect morale. Rumor will spread like wildfire. Rumor will ruin reputations.

I once worked at a .COM startup in the early 2000's and my boss at the time (ex-Microsoft executive) told me "if you can talk at a level that can be overheard, then whatever you're saying need not be said." Look I don't think any kids give a shit about what I have to say so it's just us adults reading my ramblings. Therefore, I can say to you this: you know your staff, if you don't you're a bad leader and should resign. Knowing your staff, you know who (or whos) the rumor mill is. Rumor is a cancer and unfortunately when you find it you must cut it out.

Good Karma
This is simple. If there's a layoff, do whatever you can in your power (and within reason) to support and help your former staff find work. You owe it to them.

In Closing
I used to live in NYC when it was reasonably safe, before muggings were the norm. A friend of mine told me that "if you think nothings going to happen to you, not only are you wrong but you're unprepared when it does. At least if something looks like it might, you can prepare yourself and more than likely avoid it or come out alive." There's really no difference in that statement when it applies to business.

Posted on September 13, 2010 and filed under Business, Management, Process.