Video is the gold standard of modern marketing. Here’s how you can start leveraging it without breaking the bank.
Think about when you browse online or spend time on social media. You see a lot of content, don’t you? What type speaks to you the most? If you said “video,” you are not alone. 78 percent of people watch online videos every week, and 55 percent view them every day.[i] Marketers have unsurprisingly taken note of these preferences, and 86 percent of businesses now use video as a marketing tool.[ii]
Smaller agencies have a lot to gain by incorporating video into their marketing repertoire. For some, this may feel daunting; after all, isn’t video notoriously expensive to produce? The answer: not anymore! In the last few years, the hardware and software you need to create your own marketing videos have become a lot less expensive. Here’s everything you need to produce video content to increase your brand awareness and engagement.
First thing’s first, if you want to shoot video, you need a camera. The good news is that you are probably walking around with a high-quality camera right in your pocket. Don’t believe your iPhone is up to the task? Well, what if I told you that filmmakers have already used iPhones to shoot not one, not two but well over 10 feature films? Best of all, the iPhone’s camera keeps getting better and better with each new iteration.
The quality of marketing videos also hinges on elements adjacent to the camera, including tripods and/or stabilizers, lighting and sound, which have each become quite affordable in recent years. Let’s look at a few details of each:
- Tripods: When looking at tripods or stabilizers, ask yourself what type of marketing video you envision making. Will it be a sedentary shoot? Do you need to move around? Will your subject be standing? Sitting? Determine this ahead of time before investing in any equipment. But rest easy in knowing there are many affordable options out there that can meet your needs.
- Lights: One of the unsung heroes of the filmmaking process is lighting. Think about a shot from a movie that stuck with you; it’s more than likely the lighting had something to do with making that shot special. Now, before you start envisioning your offices filling up with heavy-duty lighting equipment, pause and take a deep breath. There are so many unique, manageable and innovative lighting systems out there – many of which have been built specifically to complement small-scale smartphone videography.
- Sound: Another critical piece in the filmmaking puzzle is sound. While it’s possible to rely solely on the microphone built into your camera, it is highly recommended to up your game with an additional microphone. Aside from lighting, investing in your sound equipment may be the best thing you can do to improve the production quality of your marketing video and give it a more professional feel.
Of course, you must also edit your video footage to remove things like dead air and bad takes. Keep in mind that the ideal length for marketing videos is very short – no longer than two minutes. Many social media platforms confirm this, with Facebook, for example, encouraging users to keep videos to 15 seconds or less.[iii]
But what should you use to edit your video? You could rely on one of the applications that come pre-loaded on different operating systems. For instance, you can make basic video edits in the “Photos” application that comes with Windows. There are other programs out there that offer more functionality for quite a reasonable price, allowing you to add transitions, titles and music much more easily.
Lights, Camera, Action! In our fast-paced, highly competitive market, the adage “give people what they want” has never been more urgent. Internet-savvy consumers want video content. While it’s normal to feel intimidated by the prospect of shooting your own video content, the combination of affordable equipment and potentially massive ROI make it
[i] 135 Video Marketing Statistics You Can’t Ignore in 2022 (invideo.io)
[iii] How Long Should Videos Be? FB, IG, YT & More in 2020 – Animoto
Before you can wow with your email copy, you must first hook your audience.
Email marketing can be hit or miss. While you can labor over your copy and toil over accompanying graphics, ultimately your message may still go unread. We’re all inundated with email these days. How can you best position your campaigns to break through the noise? Although sometimes treated as an afterthought, your email’s subject line is actually one of the most important tools you have for boosting open percentages and increasing your CTRs (click through rates). Let’s look at some of the ways you can optimize your subject lines to make your email campaigns more widely read and impactful.
Keep it Simple
It’s easy to overthink subject lines. Although it’s good to take a strategic approach, always remember simplicity. Generally, subject lines should be short and should not mislead or overpromise anything about your email’s contents. The consequences of not doing this can be dire, as you can annoy your audience or even alienate them from future campaigns.
Research and Wordsmithing
Because subject lines should be short, each word you select matters a great deal. You don’t want to leave anything to chance here, which means you’re going to need to do some keyword research. Whenever you write a subject line, use words that are relevant and align with your audience’s needs and intent. There are many different tools out there — both free and paid — to help marketers choose the right words. Find the one that will work for your organization and use it to look closely at several metrics, specifically search volume and search intent.
As the world has gone digital-first over the past couple of decades, it has become ever easier to create and disseminate marketing campaigns. Yet while these changes have brought about an unprecedented level of convenience and productivity, personalization and human connection in marketing has become increasingly difficult. Still, there are ways you can add personalization and warmth to your subject lines:
- You can insert your recipients’ names into the subject line.
- You can refer to other types of personal information – such as the cities in which your recipients live.
- Flip the focus of your personalization efforts back on yourself by personalizing your sender address.
Emojis and Numbers
Sometimes words, however pretty they may be, are simply not enough. To command your readers’ finite attention, you may also want to consider using emojis or numbers to break up text. This does carry a bit of a risk, however, as emojis may be considered inappropriate with certain audiences. That said, if you are writing a fun or celebratory-type email, leveraging emojis can enhance the impact of your email and encourage more people to open it.
Numbers function differently. If you can naturally weave figures like percentages into your subject lines, you may attract more people to open your emails. Numbers simply stand out more than additional text, and for many audience members, they may help them more quickly understand your email’s contents. Beware, however, of overloading your subject lines with numbers – as this can come off as “spammy.” And never include a misleading figure. Your audience will not appreciate the deceit, and you will appear untrustworthy and unprofessional as a result.
Follow the Tried-and-True
There are several tried-and-true marketing methods that you can build your email subject lines around, which, when paired with some of the other tactics here, can be especially powerful.
- Scarcity: Few things motivate human beings more than the fear of missing out. By framing your email as containing something like a limited-time offer, you speak directly to that primal fear and can give your recipients the push they need to open your email and engage with your content.
- Curiosity: Similarly, you can treat your subject line as a sort of teaser for the email’s contents. Give just enough information to spark interest with your target audience but allude that the truly valuable information lies within the message’s body copy.
- Timeliness: Finally, there is always timeliness. By conveying that your email contents are time-sensitive, recipients are less likely to ignore it or tell themselves that they will circle back around later.
Toward More Effective Email Marketing
Raising brand awareness and forming valuable customer connections isn’t easy. In a competitive environment, businesses need to ensure they are maximizing the value of all their marketing methods and strategies. As we’ve written before, email marketing is still a viable, low-cost way to promote your products and services. But to gain positive ROI, its essential to optimize every aspect of your messaging. And that includes taking a hard look at your subject lines and doing everything you can to make them memorable.
Committing to social media marketing can be a heavy lift. Read on for tips to make it easier.
Whether you love it or hate it, social media has permanently changed our world. It has certainly opened new avenues for marketing. Whether you are firing off micro-targeted ads, responding to customer questions or concerns, or using it as a vehicle for branding and thought leadership, social is an essential digital marketing tool. Let’s look at how small agencies can tap into the power of social without becoming overwhelmed.
Social Media 101
First, determine where your audience is. It can be tempting to create profiles on as many platforms as possible, but if you overextend yourself, you may not be able to keep your profiles consistently updated. This can make you look unprofessional and even harm your brand.
Instead, consider a data-driven approach. In our industry, it likely makes sense to start with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook, for example, has incredible reach, with 69% of American adults using the platform as of 2019.[i] LinkedIn is an ideal choice for B2B brands, with 80% of leads coming from the platform.[ii] The platform also offers powerful tools for showcasing your company, recruiting workers and even building your company culture. Twitter has significantly less user adoption – 22% circa 2019[iii] – but it is a hotbed for journalists and is perhaps the easiest platform for engaging in the type of one-to-one customer communication that social thrives on.
After you have your platforms, create profiles that are complete and optimized. At the beginning of 2021, we wrote a blog post outlining how to do this on Facebook, and while each social media platform differs, the best practices we covered are largely applicable to other platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Just remember to prioritize the use of photos, your “About” section and your business’s contact info, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.
Next, establish a posting strategy. As you might expect, there is no shortage of opinions on how much to post on each platform. With Twitter, it is suggested that you post three times a day or more, while Facebook and LinkedIn get two times and one time per day respectively.[iv] Yet that cadence is likely not feasible for most agency owners. Posting once per day per platform is sufficient to keep your pages looking fresh and active. Even putting up new content two to three times per week goes a long way toward creating a vibrant social media presence.
Quality Over Quantity
With any content strategy, quality trumps quantity. Focus on thought leadership and educational content over company updates. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should neglect to promote your business or publicize your products, but you want people to see you on social as a helpful resource rather than a pesky salesperson. Here are some great examples of content to post:
- Company blog posts
- Industry news
- Product demos or videos
- Customer reviews
- Quick tips or advice
- Holiday or awareness day posts
- Photos of your company culture
- Relevant quotes
- White papers or reports
- Industry research
- Polls or questions
As long as your posts are visually appealing, educational and inspire engagement, you’re on the right track.
Join the Conversation
Posting your own content is only half the battle on social media. The other half is social listening and fostering conversation. First, establish your community and/or audience on each platform. Friend or follow a few people each day. Depending on the platform, you can also join groups or forums.
Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to track keywords that pertain to your business. That way, you can stay apprised of any chatter where it would make sense for you to join the conversation as a thought leader. Once again, social media is all about two-way communication, community and establishing yourself as a helpful resource. If people start seeing you that way, they may circle back around when they need the product or service your company provides.
To start easily tracking hashtags and keywords, look into a social media listening service. The good news is there are plenty of options out there that offer a free version.
Final Thoughts Like much of marketing, social media can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a designated staff person handling things. But it doesn’t have to be. By being choosy with your platforms, creating optimized profiles and establishing a solid content strategy, you can leverage these technologies
[i] Which Social Media Platforms Should I Use for My Business? – Wharton Online (upenn.edu)
[iv] How Often Should I Post on Social Media? | Buffer Blog
We test out a lot of things these days. Why not our marketing collateral?
We live in a world of endless trials. Whether it be for streaming services, meal delivery programs or pretty much any software tool, testing something out before committing seems as American as apple pie. So why would we not apply this logic to our marketing content?
A/B testing is the process of testing out various iterations of marketing collateral ahead of fully disseminating it. Also known as “split testing” or “bucket testing,” A/B testing assists businesses in identifying which variation of a piece of content is most successful in achieving the desired outcome with a target audience. The good news is that, due to marketing solutions dropping in cost over the past few years, A/B testing is an increasingly viable practice for smaller firms.
And it couldn’t have come at a better moment. With the market growing increasingly competitive, particularly online, ensuring that your collateral is as optimized as possible is more important than ever. Nobody has time to waste on creating content that has no chance of converting customers. Here’s how you can begin incorporating A/B testing to improve your marketing practices.
A/B Testing: Your Ticket to Better Marketing
Have you ever felt that there is too much subjectivity when preparing a new marketing campaign or initiative? While there are concrete best practices with writing or content strategy, select elements do seem to come down to individual choice. Should a button be lower or higher on the page? Would a different color or CTA (call to action) resonate more deeply for a specific audience? A/B testing brings more scientific rigor to the tweaks and changes that are a typical part of honing campaign material.
It’s also a straightforward process to understand. A/B testing technically harkens back to the 1960s, but its contemporary version is most typically used in the context of email marketing campaigns. Many email software programs today allow you to create multiple versions of a campaign email and then send them to a test audience to gather feedback. Operating similarly to the scientific method, a marketer would create a control email and then a supplemental email that is slightly modified.
Once each version is sent and opened (or not), the system automatically compiles analytics for each variation, allowing you to put real data behind your final writing or design decisions. Users can apply this method to test nearly any element of an email – including subject lines, colors, body copy, font size, font family, imagery, links, video and more.
Perhaps best of all, A/B testing does not require specialized knowledge. It’s easy to get started by viewing any of the many well-produced video tutorials that you can find online.
Emails Are Great, but Where Else Can I Use A/B Testing?
Emails are perhaps the easiest way to use A/B testing, but they are not the only one. A/B testing is a crucial aspect of social media advertising, SEM (search engine marketing) and even landing page development. Social media platforms make it easy to create different versions of an ad and then cycle through them for the campaign’s duration. Each platform will continually update you with fresh data on which version of your ad is performing best, allowing you to reallocate your funds and maximize your marketing dollars in almost real-time.
Conducting A/B testing for landing pages is a little more difficult – but not by much. All that is required is to create two different versions of your landing page, changing elements such as headlines, body copy, CTA buttons and their respective layouts. After you have these established, funnel a similar number of people to each page version and gauge performance.
You can do this by employing Google’s free analytics platform, Google Analytics, although that may involve a learning curve. Happily, many leading CMSs (content management systems) have built-in analytics that are more user-friendly and accessible than Google’s. Some of the main metrics you should look at when assessing the quality of your landing pages include (but are not limited to): views, session duration, conversion rate and bounce rate.
If you’re interested in getting your bearings with Google Analytics, there are a ton of fantastic resources online that can help get you started.
Make Your Marketing Count
Running a business is only possible if someone is buying your products and services. And people cannot buy from you unless they know who you are and what you do. This is a long-winded way to say that marketing matters. But marketing is also time-consuming, and when you’re leading an agency, time is always in short supply. Still, A/B testing is worth the time investment. Whether you are conducting an email campaign, disseminating paid ads or even looking to optimize your landing pages, A/B testing allows you to tweak your collateral more effectively before making a final decision.
Simply put, it increases the prospect that your content will convert, and your hard work be rewarded.
Is it time for a business account? And what do you need to know about their terms of service?
I’m old enough to remember when social media felt simple. Back in the day, social was little more than a space to post silly photos or blog about your day. Fast forward to 2021 and social media is anything but simple. A highly developed industry worth over $60 billion, social is now a fundamental aspect of the modern economy, a low-cost way for organizations to connect with followers and market their products and services.
Considering this explosive growth, perhaps you’ve wondered if you should establish a business account for your agency or if you can get by with a personal profile. Many of the largest social media platforms offer such accounts, each with its own terms of service. Here are some top considerations when thinking about establishing a business profile.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
The good news is that for several of the biggest social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to establishing a full-fledged business profile. Take Facebook, for instance. To interact within the platform as a business, you must establish a business page. Once you do, you’ll be able to access advanced analytics and run paid advertising campaigns. The same holds true for LinkedIn. To effectively promote your business, engage with customers and grow leads, you need to create a page rather than a profile.
Twitter, however, is a bit different; the process for setting up a profile works roughly the same way as an individual account. You can establish a profile for business purposes in a few easy steps.
What about a more contemporary platform? Can these also be leveraged for social media marketing purposes? TikTok is increasingly being used by brands due to its highly engaged membership of one billion members and counting, compelling video content and sheer variety of ad types. TikTok does require you to establish a specialized profile, but it’s easy enough for any small business to implement.
Terms of Service – Some Core Takeaways
As we’ve mentioned, each one of these platforms includes their own terms of service, and nearly all of these include important things for businesses to mull over. For example, businesses that sign up for Twitter must share “personally verifiable” information, including phone contacts.” Thankfully, it is possible to disable this any time through the settings page. Other terms of service are more difficult to opt out of. For example, any information tweeted by you is considered fair game for Twitter to sell to advertisers. Be sure to never tweet out sensitive information. You can delete your tweets, sure, but Twitter will always keep a record.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, numerous aspects of Facebook’s business tools policy require further reflection. The platform’s advertising policies is one such area, as numerous criteria can get your ad rejected. Whether it be a non-functional landing page or something that violates Facebook’s community standards, it’s good practice to review the site’s advertising policies before you spend time building an ad.
Another factor to be mindful of is copyright. Prior to sharing original graphics on your pages, you should understand you are essentially signing “an agreement that gives the site the right to use the work for a variety of purposes, like displaying it, adapting it, or copying it. In these cases, the license is given without payment.”
TikTok has its own novel copyright issues. With music being at the core of the site’s content, you may be wondering how the content creators or the site itself are not inundated with cease-and-desist letters. Unlike many sites, TikTok “hosts a large library of royalty-free music, often from new and upcoming artists who want to gain exposure.” This allows the music to be leveraged by users “in their videos without risking copyright infringement.” While some users have still received takedown letters in the past, average businesses “probably won’t face legal trouble for using music that appears in the app’s music library.”
The Beginning of the Journey
Moving to a business account on social media can have major benefits for your company – giving you greater understanding of your core audiences and more means for promoting your products and services. Just be sure to review each site’s terms of services for what is allowed and what is a no-go. Then you’ll be all set to leverage social media to gain greater awareness for your brand and grow your business.
This article is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. Any opinions, or perceived opinions, are strictly those of the authors and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Consultation with an attorney for specific advice based upon the reader’s situation is recommended.
 Social Networking Sites in the US – Market Size | IBISWorld
 Kate reviews: Twitter Terms of Service(August 19, 2021) – Ko-fi ❤️ Where creators get support from fans through donations, memberships, shop sales and more! The original ‘Buy Me a Coffee’ Page.
 How Copyright Works with Social Media (thebalancesmb.com)
 How to Follow Social Media Law on TikTok: Music Copyright Edition – Ian Corzine