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Seeing is Not Always Believing

We lead increasingly visual lives these days. How can you tell if someone’s #bestlife is really theirs?

If you see an image that looks too good to be true, keep in mind that it might be. It might have taken hours to achieve the perfect post with special lighting to achieve that natural glow and lots of planning behind that seemingly unplanned pic.

Of course, it’s one thing to stage a photo or select a filter, and another to digitally alter an image in an effort to purposely confuse a viewer or gain attention. If you suspect an image is being used improperly or being recycled, one way to stay alert visually is to double check images using Reverse Image Search on Google.

While working in the Chrome browser, right-click on an image and select “Search Google for image.” This is a good way to check if you believe a photo might not be current or was actually originally intended for something else

If regularly searching images (to find where an image came from or to handily track down a high-resolution version), TinEye is the official extension for Chrome. You can also reverse search images from your phone.

To do a little digging on the image itself, check the metadata, which includes everything from the camera make and modle, to camera settings used, and the date and time an image was captured. You can check the metadata using various programs.

When in doubt, trust your gut. You know that not everything is what it seems on the internet. Sometimes it can be as simple as seeing something and knowing it just isn’t right. In his many years studying digital image forensics, Hany Farid, author of Photo Forensics, has amassed a slew of tips. Among them: “Beware of spectacular shark photos.”

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Turn Your Call to Action into the Perfect Invitation

Think back to a time a friend invited you to do something. You might have agreed immediately, or you might have felt a little hesitant. Why?

In online marketing and communications, we’re always inviting our friends and followers and clients – to join us. Sometimes, we’re inviting them to subscribe to a newsletter. Other times, we’re inviting them to a member rewards program. Either way, we have to put thought into the invitation if we hope to get a positive RSVP.

This is where your call to action, that word or phrase that prompts your audience to do something, comes into play. Some marketers may leave out the call to action, thinking clients already know what to do next. That’s not recommended. Others might fear a call to action will come off as gauche or inappropriate. It won’t.

What would you do if a friend mentioned an upcoming party, but then offered no further details? How would you know they wanted you to join them? How would you know where to go or when?

If they don’t invite you clearly, you won’t know what to do next. It’s no surprise a proper invitation comes first on the list of the “Six Ways to Be a Good Host” outlined by the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute:

1) Invite clearly. Include necessary information for your guests in the invitation: the date, the time, the place, the occasion, the host(s) and when and how to respond “yes” or “no.” Add any special information such as what to wear or what to bring, say, for a pot-luck.

Like any good invitation, calls to action work best when they are direct, personal, and generate excitement for something more to come. Establishing a clear next step is a key part of continuing the conversation, and that step can be tweaked depending on the person and subject. Your call to action shouldn’t interrupt your message or alter your tone, but carry it home.

Even though it may be only a few words, a call to action can:

  • Anchor your message
  • Further existing relationships
  • Build key connections
  • Help you identify goals


Ask yourself these questions the next time you are trying to come up with a call to action: What do I want people to do? Why do I want them to do it? How do I want them to do it?

It’s so easy to fall back on what are becoming well-loved calls to action. How can you make your message stand out in a sea of “subscribe” and “donate” and “click here” buttons? This is your chance to have fun with language and truly hone your message. (HubSpot has assembled a great list of 31 examples of various calls to action if you are looking for inspiration.)

Play with using supporting copy, like a question, and offer readers different paths to take. Use A/B testing to see how your viewers respond to buttons versus links in the text. Try one phrase and then come up with another way of saying the same thing. Think about what words will matter to your specific audience.

How would you like to be invited?

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It’s not me; it’s you

Understanding why people unsubscribe and how to keep them engaged.

If marketing is all about building relationships, marketers better be prepared to face rejection—and know what to do to get that second date.

Every email sent, every update tweeted, and every photo posted is an opportunity for engagement. It’s also an opportunity for viewers to unsubscribe and unfollow. How can communicators hit the sweet spot that represents optimal contact?

First, it’s important to understand a few key phrases. Inboxes are increasingly becoming sacred space. Measuring and analyzing your digital marketing campaigns is critical if you hope to continually improve them.

Open Rate: Out of all the people who received your email, this number represents everyone who opened the message.

Click-Through Rate: Out of all the people who received your email, this represents the people who clicked on a link in your email.

Click-to-Open Rate: Out of all the people who opened your email, this represents the people who clicked on a link in your email. (Since this narrows the field to only those who opened, it better measures the strength of your email content.)

Unsubscribe Rate: Out of all the people who received your email, this represents the people who unsubscribed from receiving future communications.

Spam Rate: Out of all the people who received your email, this represents the number of people who marked your message as spam. A spam rate that climbs too high could send a negative message to mailbox providers.

How are you doing? Check your numbers against industry averages through data collected by email service providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact. Then think about what needs to change and how. (For more on email best practices, read our past blog post.)

Remember, marketing is a process. If you are experiencing a high unsubscribe rate, that’s not necessarily all bad. As marketers at Voila Norbert point out, it can help you weed out disinterested folks and find your people. The content and delivery of your message are key factors recipients consider when choosing to opt in or out. It may need to improve or you may need to improve your email list. Do not feel bad when people unsubscribe; it happens to everyone.

Taking a hard look at your numbers is also an opportunity to be creative. Is your message the right length? Is it personalized? Is it any different from the last dozen messages you sent? As we’ve discussed in previous posts, a strong subject line can help your message shoot to the top of someone’s inbox, and personalization can make your message feel tailored and special.

Inboxes are crowded, and many people and businesses are vying for the same eyeballs. Take time to think about the individual at the receiving end of your message and what you’d like them to know.

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Do You Feel Lucky?

Is it possible to be lucky in marketing?

Just your luck! Everything is going your way.

Sometimes it can feel as if higher forces are behind notable events, like a risk paying off or a new client showing interest, and even plans falling apart. But relying on superstitions can simplify what’s actually happening.

What is luck?

The concept of luck came about as a way to make sense of events and tell a story, says statistician Jeff Rosenthal, a professor at the University of Toronto and author of Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance and the Meaning of Everything.

“It goes back to the old days. If there was a big storm, well, that meant the gods were angry. It didn’t just mean that the water molecules were moving in a certain way,” Rosenthal told The Current radio program in December.

Rosenthal studies the workings of randomness and uncertainty, and in his, book says he is often asked if he believes in luck. He explains there are two ways to define luck. There is “random luck” (where events or people come together just right, like two people meeting at a party) and there is “forceful luck” (where special forces are responsible for bringing those people together).

As a statistician, Rosenthal cautions against believing too strongly in the latter, because patterns are not set. Instead, Rosenthal suggests people keep in mind there are things we can control, and there are things we can’t. That mindset can prepare us for better—not necessarily lucky—outcomes.

“I think there are things in life that are in our control and others that are not,” Rosenthal shared with his University of Toronto colleagues. “For example, somebody might t-bone your car, and that’s just bad luck. Wrong time, wrong place. But there are also things you can do to drive safely: wear a seatbelt, drive within the speed limit, and so on.”

Sure, unfortunate events may impact our work. If we properly prepare, do our research and collect the right data, we’ll be able to weather the storm.

Can we make ourselves more lucky?

As with so many things in life, luck can come down to having the right attitude.

That’s what psychologist and author, Richard Wiseman, has suggested could be the answer to more people being lucky. People who define themselves as lucky likely also define themselves as optimists. They stay positive and look for opportunities.

“My research revealed that lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles,” Wiseman wrote in his article The Luck Factor. “They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies [sic] via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”

In one experiment, Wiseman had lucky and unlucky people count the ads in a newspaper. The people who considered themselves lucky took less time counting, Wiseman reported. That’s because they were more likely to notice an advertisement that announced, “Stop counting—there are 43 photographs in this newspaper.”

Even with a set task, we don’t have to do the expect. Nothing is guaranteed, and that’s not bad! By staying creative and open-minded, we can make our own luck.

How should we talk about luck?

Outside of talking about lottery tickets or weather, when we say someone is “lucky,” we are often ignoring their hard work and talent.

In marketing, it can sometimes seem as if everything is falling into place. Sure, there may be a magic, indefinable ingredient, but there’s also data, strategizing, brainstorming and planning.  There is even a science behind making content go viral.

As lifestyle coach Barbara Sher says, “The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.”

It’s OK to be thankful when events inexplicably line up. But the next time your plan pays off for you or your client, don’t downplay your skills by attributing your success to luck.

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10 Albert Einstein Quotes that will Motivate and Inspire Your Work

To keep experimenting, to stay curious and to connect with others—Einstein reminds us that hard work and information don’t necessarily add up to achieving our goals. Instead of doing what we’ve always done or accepting the status quo, we need to broaden our horizons and make fresh connections.

How can you make your work more relevant? Find direction in these Einstein quotes.

  1. Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
  2. Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
  3. The only source of knowledge is experience.
  4. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  5. If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
  6. Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
  7. The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
  8. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
  9. Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
  10. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

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4 Little-Known Features to Help you Make the Most of Google Calendar

Ding! That’s the sound of another meeting request coming through. Is your calendar working as hard as you are to keep life running smoothly?

Chances are a digital calendar keeps you mostly on track—you may even depend on one to schedule promotions and social media, as well as remind you when to go to the dentist. The ability to quickly create appointments and receive needed reminders is truly helpful, but you may be totally unaware of other digital calendar features that can push your productivity and make communications easier on your clients and coworkers.

Thanks to PC Mag’s recent post 12 Google Calendar Tricks You’re Probably Not Using, we have a few new tricks for G Suite users. Here are four favorites.

Keep track of holidays

Did you accidentally double-book yourself for the big game? Do major and minor holidays sneak up on you? Google Calendar has several calendars of interest that you can browse and add, without having to plug in the date of every holiday yourself. You can even track the phases of the moon.

Set the agenda

You may already start the day with a glance at your inbox. Thanks to Google Calendar, you can opt in to receiving an email at 5 a.m. each morning with your daily agenda pulled from your existing calendar events.

Find the right time

Instead of asking coworkers when they are free and combing through responses, find a time that works for everyone in Google Calendar. When you click the +Create button to create your event, select “More Options” and then the “Find a Time” tab. Add your guests and Google Calendar will pull up their calendars so you can see when each person is free. If they already have something scheduled, that time will be marked as “Busy.”

Hangout in an events

It’s important to keep meetings running without a hitch—even when everyone isn’t in the same room. If you have colleagues working remotely, invite them to join you for a video conference on Google Hangouts. When creating an event, select the “Add Conferencing” option to generate a video call URL to go in the invite. (Google Calendar is also compatible with other VOIP services.)

For the more details and tips, read the full article at pcmag.com.

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15 Creativity Quotes That Will Boost Your Work

quote

  1. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
  2. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
  3. “One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho
  4. “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” – Henry Ford
  5. “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill
  6. “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” – Steve Jobs
  7. “There is no such thing as a new idea. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.” – Mark Twain
  8. “The world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.” – Aaron Sorkin
  9. “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhaur
  10. “Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus
  11. “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” – Pablo Picasso
  12. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
  13. “Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” – Austin Kleon
  14. “It’s through mistakes that you actually grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.” – Paula Scher
  15. “But, if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.” – Carl Jung

 

 

 

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30 Creative Ideas for Your Holiday Email Marketing

Email marketing can be some of the most effective and least expensive options, especially for a small business at holiday time. Check out the creative ideas for your holiday email marketing from our friends over at Constant Contact.

So, get your list shined up, head over to Constant Contact, and get the email blasts ready! Need some help or want a full service solution? Contact us today. We can help you with anything from lists, templates, copy, imagery, custom coding, or a full service mailing.

Holiday Email

Read the full article at: blogs.constantcontact.com

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5 Inspiring Content Marketing Case Studies with Results from Marketo 

Case Study

In a recent Marketo article, they presented five extremely successful content marketing case studies including the tactics used, results measured, and why it matters to marketers.

  1. Increasing Blog Referral Traffic by 58% with Onsite Marketing: In this case study iSpionage describes how they managed to increase traffic by 58.09% in just one month by using an exit intent popup.
  2. Infographic Creates Over 11K Additional Website Visits in 2 Weeks: SEOTravel created a very clever piece of content that was extremely shareable and caused an increase 11K+ website visits in as little as two weeks.
  3. Quick Wins from Content Built with Publicly Available Data: In this content marketing case study, YesOptimist helped a startup, CollegeRaptor, to get from absolutely no organic traffic to 100K visitors per month in just one year.
  4. Find the Right Content Topics for Less Exciting Industries: LawnStarter created content their audience cares about, even though it did not entirely focused on their product or service.
  5. Scale Marketing with Content Loved by Search Engines: Fieldwire boosted the most high-potential pages with data-driven optimizations such as what keywords were they ranking for in order to gain higher conversion rates.

 

Read the original article at marketo.com.  

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4 Psychology Principles to Incorporate in Your Marketing

Psychology Principles

Marketing involves influencing people’s behavior. Whether you want to drive traffic to your store, increase sales for a specific product, or introduce a new service you want people to buy, visit, and engage with your brand. It is important to keep in mind psychology principles that will help you better reach your target audience.

 

Principle of Reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity is one of the basic laws of social psychology which states that in most situations we pay back what we received from others. So how can you use this in marketing? Try giveaways, free swag or an exclusive gift. For this to work, give away something free before you ask for something in return. This could be especially helpful when introducing your brand to new customers or introducing a new product.

 

Scarcity

Scarcity is the principle that people place a higher value on something that is scarce and a lower value on those that are in abundance. This is why statements like ‘this is rare find’ or ‘this is one of a kind’ immediately give us the perception that the item being described is valuable. This tactic operates on the worth people attach to products or services. This also is related to the principle of supply and demand. If you approach this method as if there ‘used’ to be a lot of a product, and now to due to the high demand there’s only a few left, people will be very receptive.

 

Social Proof

This principle is one many are familiar with, the idea that people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This why reviews and testimonials from current customers are so effective. We trust others reviews because they have experienced the product or service, unlike ourselves. Additionally, this is why anything that experts use is perceived as being great or better products because the experts are more knowledgeable than us in their specific area. Celebrity endorsement is also another great use of social proof. We will buy and use the products and service used by celebrities because we want to look like them.

 

Anchoring

Anchoring, or rather the art behind a sale, is the principle that people base decisions on the first piece of information they receive. When an item used to be $100 is now marked down to $55 we’re more apt to purchase. This is also why stores like T.J. Maxx show the ‘retail price’ next to ‘their price’. Displaying the original price is the anchor, and helps the buyer determine whether or not they determine it to be a ‘great deal’ or not.

 

These are just a few psychology principles that you could incorporate into your marketing. There are many other principles and things to consider when engaging with your target audience. The key is to understand your audience, what motivates them, and what are their driving values.

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