Stay on the right side of the law while promoting your agency
Let’s face it: producing content can get tiring. Whether it be written or visual, each project requires time and talent. When you’re running a business, every moment is precious. It can be tempting to grab assets wherever you can find them.
While we exist in a copy-and-paste digital environment, copyright and copyright infringement have not gone away. In fact, with technologies like search robots and web-crawling spiders, it is now easier than ever to track down inappropriate uses of copyrighted material across the internet. Numerous people have received angry correspondence from giant corporations like Getty Images demanding that copyrighted material be taken down and for offenders to pay damages.
While that can sound scary, you still need to promote and market your business. Start by brushing up on some of the basics of copyright in the digital age. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better positioned to help your business while staying on the right side of the law.
What is Copyright Anyway?
Copyright protects creators from unlicensed actors taking original works and claiming them as their own. It covers literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, architectural, and other intellectual works. Federal copyright begins as soon as a work is in “tangible form,”[i] which can include it being on “a hard drive, computer disc, film or tape.”[ii]
Copyright is also automatically applied when a work is created, and creators are not required to declare their copyright for it to be in effect. Websites are also the copyrighted property of their respective owners, including “overall design, all links, original text, graphics, audio, video and any additional original elements.”[iii]
Alternatives to Infringement
When it comes to copyright, the internet is a double-edged sword: it provides a glut of content, but creative works cannot be used without explicit permission. Providing a disclaimer like “No copyright intended” or merely giving credit to the original creator does not magically make it okay to use.
There are, however, other ways to utilize some of the excellent works that are floating around on the information superhighway. Those might look like:
- Ask permission: It may seem silly or overly simple, but often the best way to leverage online creative assets for your agency is to ask the original creator. It may not work, particularly if you are using the asset for financial or business purposes, but it also might. The fact is that exposure is everything these days. By reaching out directly to an artist or writer with a compelling offer, such as guaranteeing to credit them and provide their work with a platform, you might receive permission to use their copyrighted material for your business.
- Look for royalty-free work: While all creative works automatically carry copyright, there are specific materials that are designated as “royalty-free,” which makes them free for a third party to use. The trick is knowing where to look. The Associated Press, for instance, has a cache of royalty-free imagery, as does Getty Images. There are also lesser-known sources, such as Pexels.
- Fair use: Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows for limited use of copyrighted material under highly specific circumstances. The use of copyrighted material is determined to be “fair use” depending on how it is interpreted through a four-point test. The four points include:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether it is for a commercial nature or nonprofit, educational purpose;
- The nature of the copyrighted work;
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
To learn more about fair use, consult the U.S. Copyright Office.
- Public domain: Copyright infringement can, at times, feel onerous. Thankfully, copyright does not last forever. Currently, copyright lasts for the lifetime of the original author plus 70 additional years, while works made for hire enjoy copyright protection for 95 years following publication or 120 years following creation. You can find huge troves of public domain photos online, with this particular website being a great place to start.
- Creative Commons: One of the last ways that you access copyrighted works is through Creative Commons, which offers a variety of public licenses for creators to share their works. All licenses issued through Creative Commons stipulate that you credit the original creator, and some prohibit using their work for financial purposes. You can learn more about the specifics of Creative Commons by viewing its website.
Work Faster and Smarter
The internet made the world’s scholarly, scientific and artistic resources available to creators across the planet. But despite this accessibility, creative work remains protected by copyright, meaning that, as an agency owner, you still need to be mindful of the assets you’re leveraging for promotional content. The good news is that there are other methods for obtaining wonderful creative materials that can enhance your marketing work. From simply asking permission to utilizing the Creative Commons, it is still possible to use the internet and its inexhaustible content to work faster and smarter for both yourself and your agency.
*This blog post is issued for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as legal advice.
[i] Copyright Protection on the Internet: Everything to Know (upcounsel.com)
Email campaigns are not dead. Here are some best practices to make the biggest impact.
Since email was invented in the 1970s, tremendous change has occurred in the marketing world. Despite this, the tried-but-true email campaign remains a rock-solid tool to get your message out, spark awareness for your services and grow your customers and prospects. Here are some best practices for putting together an email campaign that will “wow” your audience.
Before you start writing, you first need to dig into the quality and integrity of your list by asking yourself a simple question: Did you organically compile your contacts, or did you purchase a list?
Purchasing a list is rarely smart. For one thing, you cannot assess the validity of the contacts until you send your first campaign. Plus, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 includes numerous rules for how companies can or cannot market via email. Violating the CAN-SPAM act can result in serious consequences, so you want to be sure you’re compliant.
Subject Lines are Crucial
In a previous blog post, we mentioned that email subject lines are incredibly important. Remember to keep them short, with concise language. Do not use excessive capitals or unnecessary punctuation.
There are a variety of other techniques to build a great subject line around, including urgency, timeliness or special offers. It also never hurts to personalize them by tucking the recipient’s name or other personal information into the text of the subject line.
Prime the Pump
The average person is now exposed to somewhere between 4,000-10,000 ads in any given 24-hour period.[i] Because of this, people are much less likely to respond to a cold email from a business that they do not know.
To overcome this challenge, make your email campaigns part of a larger strategy. Market only to people you know or, at the very least, people who have explicitly agreed to give you their contact information.
You should also use other marketing channels like social media to raise your prospects’ awareness of your brand. Even better, conduct personal outreach! If you have a list of contacts, reach out and connect with them on LinkedIn before sending an email. Do whatever you can to ensure that when your email shows up in their inbox, they are going to be intrigued and excited rather than annoyed and apathetic.
Remember the Buyer’s Journey
A best practice with any marketing campaign, email or not, is to meet people where they are. Not everyone is always in the buying mindset. Instead, prospects need to be guided through the “buyer’s journey,” a multi-step process where people move from being aware that they have a problem, to considering potential solutions, to finally making a purchasing decision.
On a practical level, that means that your initial email should be conversational and helpful, sharing thought leadership or helpful advice that is not related directly to your business. After that, you can gradually transition into discussing your offer, always reinforcing how it will help solve your prospects’ problems.
To prepare for this type of outreach, make sure you have collateral that you can attach to your emails. For example, if you are raising awareness for your agency, you could include a thought leadership piece about the benefits of title insurance, before transitioning to something like a brochure that lists your services in the second or third email. Keep trickling information out and always include a strong call to action encouraging people to get in touch and talk further.
As you might suspect, there are a variety of best practices you’ll want to implement when preparing your email marketing campaigns. In addition to what we’ve discussed here, there are a lot of additional tips that can help you also improve the visual design of your emails. Try to incorporate as many best practices as you can. After that, you’ll be in a great place to capitalize on the power of email marketing and start converting mere recipients into reliable customers.
[i] How Many Advertisements Is a Person Exposed to a Day? (gradschools.com)
Social media has its own language. Be sure to become fluent.
A great benefit of social media marketing is the analytics that are available for little to no cost. However, sometimes when evaluating a campaign, it can feel as if you are drowning in data and that more questions are being raised than answers. From understanding what analytics to prioritize to knowing what each metric means, reviewing your work on social media can be far from straightforward. The following tips can serve as a helpful primer on setting your campaign’s goals and properly interpreting the results.
Determine Your Goals
Before you can start evaluating your social media campaigns, you must determine what your goal was in the first place. Was it to drive more people to your website? Develop a broader reach on social media? Cultivate leads for your business? Generate sales? Once you clarify your goal, you’re ready to zero in on which metrics to scrutinize further.
A helpful way to think about which social media metrics to examine is to decide if your campaign is intended to increase awareness or drive action and engagement. Let’s say you are trying to increase awareness of your agency. Some major metrics to look at could include:
- Net follower gains
- Page reach
Impressions capture how many people saw a post on a given platform, while net follower gains describe the number of people who followed your page and are now receiving updates on your activities.
Both are simple to track. You can see impression figures for an individual post with a simple click. If you are looking to track them over time, you can access the built-in analytics on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Follower numbers are also prominently displayed on a user’s profile on each site – allowing for easy review.
Page reach is used on Facebook and describes the total number of unique people who saw your page’s content within a specified time frame. LinkedIn has a similar metric called “page views,” which is the total number of page views in a designated period. To view this metric and collect necessary data, navigate to the analytics platforms within Facebook or LinkedIn. Twitter does not contain a comparable metric, but you can view impression data for your tweets (both individual and cumulative) by visiting https://analytics.twitter.com/ and logging into your account.
These metrics are important for agents to be mindful of, as social media is about building brand identity and fostering community just as much as it is about driving people to your website or inspiring sales. Agents should evaluate how their output on social is resonating, making tweaks to language, messaging and hashtags based on the results they are seeing.
If emotional-based messages are not working, you could try posting about the tangible benefits you can provide to your customers. And if the hashtags you’re incorporating don’t seem to increase the number of people viewing your content, you can always apply a hashtag research tool to improve how your posts are connecting with your audience.
Action or Engagement Metrics
What are the analytics you should focus on if your goal is to drive action with your content? Some pertinent metrics would include:
- Likes and favorites
- Post shares and retweets
- Conversions and click-through rate (CTR)
Not all metrics are created equally. While it can be satisfying to receive likes on a carefully crafted post, they may not do much for your brand or make an impact toward your campaign goal.
Typically, it is more valuable to receive engagement based around a business priority. For example, although sharing or retweeting a post is technically an engagement, it provides the type of organic awareness of an agent’s operations that cannot be matched by your own posting.
Conversions, which means that a user has navigated to your site and performed a specific action, and CTR, which measures how many people have clicked on a link embedded in your post, are usually the most valuable form of engagement. The main social media platforms provide an easy mechanism for tracking CTR. LinkedIn, for instance, offers several metrics (including CTR) to review at the bottom of each post, while Facebook offers a similar array of helpful insights in the same location.
Tracking conversions is a bit more complicated and can require some familiarity with additional technologies like Google Analytics. However, numerous online resources can walk you through how to gauge whether your social media is inspiring the actions you want to see on your website, such as people signing up for consultations or joining your agency’s email list.
Take Advantage of Social’s Power
Social media has changed how people connect, obtain information and conduct business. While these technologies can take some time to master, they can be incredibly advantageous for an agent’s operations. The trick is to have a strong idea of what it is you are trying to accomplish via social media and a firm understanding of how to measure your results. By applying these principles, you will start seeing a positive impact and ultimately make progress toward your business goals.
Put your best foot forward on the world’s largest social platform with these easy-to-implement tips.
You’ve done it. You’ve finally set up a Facebook page for your business. It’s time to leverage the platform’s nearly 2 billion subscribers, engage directly with your customers and promote your products. But before you start crafting your first posts or preparing your weekly hashtags, you must ask yourself a key question: Are the basics of my profile optimized?
If you are brand new to using Facebook for business, the answer is likely no. While it is tempting to immediately start marketing on the platform, it’s critical to not skip optimizing your profile. For many businesses, Facebook is the number one way in which their customers will connect with them and form long-term judgments about their brand. You want to be sure that you are putting your best foot forward by implementing the following tips.
Any Facebook page includes both a profile photo and a cover photo, each of which needs to be formatted correctly. Begin with your profile photo. Typically, for most businesses, this will be your company logo. It is highly recommended that you resize your image before you upload it, as Facebook will compress photos to make them fit the platform’s specifications. For instance, your profile photo will be displayed 170×170 pixels on computers, 128×128 pixels on smartphones and 36×36 pixels on most phones.
Remember that your photo will also be snipped to fit within a circular-shape template that Facebook uses for profile photos. You will need to ensure that your logo image has excess whitespace around it, which will then guarantee that the entirety of your logo shows up within the circle. Utilizing photo editing software like Photoshop or a free online platform like Pixlr can help you make this change.
Your page’s cover photo needs to be approached the same way. The ideal dimensions for your cover photo are 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall for computers and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on mobile devices. To make things easier on yourself, seek out an online tutorial. Hubspot’s guide to the Facebook cover photo is particularly helpful and includes a free, downloadable template to help you optimize it.
There are other considerations to keep in mind regarding your profile’s photos. You will want to make sure they accurately reflect your brand. Is your logo the correct version? Do the colors, words and imagery that are in your cover photo fit with your organization’s style guide? Be sure you can answer “yes” to both of these questions before you proceed.
Keep It Fresh and Accurate
Once you have some great-looking photos in place, you’ll need to update your profile’s logistical information. A freshly updated page has become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic, as more people are online than ever before. While you don’t need to necessarily use every field that Facebook offers, you should strongly consider providing responses for the following sections:
- Category: This field will increase your chances of your company showing up in Facebook’s internal search.
- Address, Hours and Additional Contact Info: While always meaningful, these fields have become exponentially more important for businesses during the pandemic. With some customers now limiting their face-to-face engagement with businesses do to health concerns, you will want your customer-base to be aware of any changes to your hours and to know how they can get in touch with you regarding questions or concerns.
- About: This is your opportunity to offer an “elevator pitch” that sums up who you are and what you’re offering. Make it short and succinct. Additionally, consider knitting together your digital presence by providing links to other social profiles and your website.
Don’t Forget Your Call to Action
In addition to its other functionality, Facebook provides what is known as a “call to action” (CTA) button. With a bright blue color, and given its prominent location near the top of a business page, this is another aspect of Facebook that merits careful optimization.
Facebook allows you to modify the button’s text and choose from a variety of different CTAs. You can direct people to click on the button to book an appointment, call you, download an app and much more. Don’t forget to insert a URL into the button and that your URL’s destination aligns effectively with your chosen CTA.
Onward and Upward
Now that you’ve got a fully-optimized profile, you’re truly ready to begin taking advantage of the world’s largest social network. Once you start pulling people into your business page’s orbit by creating great content, they will have everything they need to learn who you are and what you have to offer. From there, it is onward and upward. Continue nurturing your profile. The more work you put in, the more progress you’ll make toward your business goals of achieving greater recognition, reach and additional sales.
To market effectively, understand your customers
When preparing any marketing campaign, sometimes there is the desire to put the cart before the horse. Such impulses are understandable. Creating marketing collateral often provides the greatest opportunity for marketers to exercise their creativity. However, jumping directly to a campaign’s deliverables misses a critical step of the process. Before you can think about how you’re going to unroll your marketing efforts, first you must think about who you are trying to reach.
One effective strategy to accomplish this is the use of buyer personas, a fictional representation of your ideal audience. Generating these representations can be enormously helpful for the entirety of your campaign, guiding the channels you select and the marketing material you create. The following tips can help you start creating these personas and have a better chance of ensuring your campaign’s success.
Use Real-World Data
When creating buyer personas, it’s best to trust real-world data over gut instincts. Start by conducting a top-level audit of your current customers. You can gather this information from a wide variety of sources. From social media analytics to your customer database, we live in a data-rich world where important insights can be easily gleaned. Even a cursory look at this data can yield demographical information such as gender, age, geographical location, language, education level, career level, interests and more. Gathering this information can help build the foundation of your buyer personas, serving as a strong starting point for compiling additional insights.
Once you have sketched a rough demographical outline of your various customers, you will want to dig deeper into their psychology – identifying goals, needs and pain points in the process. To obtain this information, you can carry out customer interviews or surveys, gain insights from your sales team or look at analytic platforms like Google Analytics or Google Trends. Use these sources to build out a psychological profile for your various customer segments and go so far as to write down your customers’ potential motivations, goals and frustrations.
Channels and Technology
After you have obtained a clearer picture of who your customers are and what motivates them, you need to flesh out their behavior. Ask yourself how your customers go about finding the information they need for obtaining solutions to the problems that plague them. This question can help you better understand how your customers behave online, what publications or websites they read and even what devices they use to access the internet. This knowledge can assist you in tailoring your campaigns, allocating marketing dollars to the correct channels and ensuring whether you need to create collateral optimized for mobile technology or not.
It is hard to overstate the importance of buyer personas or how they can act as a lynchpin for the overall success of your marketing endeavors. Built correctly, buyer personas can guide other steps in the marketing process, governing how you segment your potential customers, how you select your marketing channels and even how you package your marketing copy. In short, by putting your marketing in front of the right people, with the right message, at the right time, you will have a greater likelihood of meeting your sales goals and taking your business to the next level.