GIFs – The power of movement

By: Leslie Raney

So is it “gif” or “jif”?

No matter how you pronounce the word, GIFs have taken over. Steve Willhite’s creation in the 80s has turned into a 2016 phenomenon, heavily influenced by the millennial generation.

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The first mass representation of GIFs was on MySpace, overwhelming users and crashing dial-up connections throughout the early 2000s. The file format boomed with the continued growth of social media, and caught the eye of digital marketers. They now value GIFs as a tool to capture the attention of target audiences like never before.

Don’t hesitate to join the GIF party, but keep these tips in mind when creating your next GIF-enriched email campaign.

  • GIFs are a great tool for email marketers because they capture the attention of consumers in a way still images cannot.
  • The small file size makes GIFs a great tool for email communications. Unlike a Harry Potter newspaper, GIFs will not play until the image is fully loaded. The file size is important in email marketing, so keep your GIF-greatness to under 125KB per image to insure most email platforms will accept and load the image properly.
  • Not all email platforms support GIF file formats. Make sure your first image in your GIF-y goodness relays your message and captures our audiences’ attention, because that is the image recipients will see if GIFs are not supported.
  • Keep it simple. Too much of anything can be a bad thing – don’t give your recipients a headache as they scroll to your call to action.

Check out these examples below that represent innovative email marking influenced by the use of GIFs.

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GIFs are all over the internet and ready-to-use, there are even apps to create custom images from video. If you have access to a talented designer, the sky’s the limit.

Meet Our Newest Team Member: Leslie Raney

Welcome, Leslie Raney! Leslie recently joined our team as an Email Marketing Specialist.

leslie

Get to know Leslie:

On Sunday afternoons you can find me at brunch with my friends. I am a “foodie” and love trying the newest brunch spots around town. On a nice day, you’ll find me at the park after brunch enjoying the people and outdoors with my two Pomeranians.

When I’m not working, I enjoy trying out new recipes in the kitchen, working out, exploring the country and taking advantage of Nashville’s music scene.

My favorite city I’ve ever visited is Cinque Terre, Italy. The culture and structure of the city is truly amazing.

My Favorite social media site is Instagram. The platform is a great way to stay connected, learn and see stories told through pictures.

If I could have any superpower it would be teleportation. I love to travel, the ability to be in any city in a moment excites me.

My favorite movie is Remember the Titans. Two of my favorite things are history and football, and this movie tells one of our nation’s most important stories through a new eye.

Welcome to the team!

2016 Email Marketing Landscape

By: Jessica Troccoli

email2016

Like any digital channel, email marketing best practices are constantly changing. Staying up to date on current trends is an important part of optimizing email campaigns and maximizing return on investment.

Keep these trends in mind when developing email campaigns in 2016:

Mobile Optimization

It is estimated that 40-60 percent of consumers in the United States, Canada and Europe use smartphones to access emails on a daily basis, making mobile-optimized emails crucial to campaign success. When designing an email, think mobile first. The layout should be intuitive and hassle-free so that it does not distract from the call to action. To ensure peak performance, always test messages on mobile devices before sending to a subscriber list.

Personalization

A customized email that is crafted specifically for each subscriber will most likely perform better than a general, one-size-fits-all message. Add substitution strings to personalize messages with things like the subscriber’s first name, content tailored to specific age groups or even regional colloquialisms when appropriate.

Bold Images and Animations

Things like infographics, animated GIFs and other visuals enhance email designs and help hold subscribers’ attention. When including visuals in an email, be mindful of size and make sure they have a strategic purpose that supports the objective of the message.

Cross-Channel Synergy

Integrating email campaigns with other digital marketing channels creates a focused message for consumers. While the message and majority of content can remain the same across channels, the format may change. Reformat the message to follow best practices for each digital property.

It’s A Small World After All

By: Emily Williams

How a Trip to Disney World made my world smaller.When I was five, my parents decided to take my older sisters and me to Disney World. I don’t remember too much, but there is one thing I will always remember from the trip:

The “It’s a Small World” ride… Caught. On. FIRE.

Yes, I’d say that is quite memorable. We were riding in the boat through the various countries when suddenly our boat stopped for a very long time somewhere near “Europe”. Next thing we know, there is smoke ahead of us and we find out that the boat just in front had caught on fire. Our “captain” got out of the boat and helped each of us climb up onto the set and make our way to the emergency exit. I suppose some little kids might find this scary. Not me. Instead of just watching the set sing and dance, my dream came true. I was actually in Scandinavia – or maybe Eastern Europe – with these amazing little characters that were just my size. And I LOVED it. I got to walk through Europe – all the way to the emergency exit.

I came home and told my Kindergarten friends that I went to Europe. I didn’t… I was in Orlando. But Disney made my world that much smaller.

I have since been to Eastern Europe in real life, but even that doesn’t make my world feel quite as small as the people and places that I can explore online now.

In fact, Facebook says that the world is even smaller than it was when I was five. It has been commonly known for decades that you are connected to every other person in the world by just six degrees of separation. Every. Single. Person. Even that seems very close!

However, Facebook performed research on its own social network and determined that – out of its 1.59 billion active users – people in the U.S. are separated from every person in the world by just 3.46 degrees!

and i'm yours

That’s right. Social media brought the world almost twice as close as it used to be.

The internet has connected such a multitude of people that information spreads like wildfires. Good or bad. Right or misinformed.

Because of this, there are three things that you can to enhance your online marketing efforts:

  1. Double check before you post.

Before you post anything to social media or send out a digital correspondence, always ask yourself if it is helpful and appropriate. You only get one shot. Sure, if you post something on Facebook that you later want to delete, you can delete it from showing on your page. But it’s already out there. People have seen it, formed an opinion and perhaps even shared it or taken a screen shot. Things that you might post on a personal page are not always appropriate for your facility’s page.

  1. Create Shareable Content.

Whether through emails or social media or your website, the more shareable content you create, the bigger the audience you will have. For example, on Facebook your posts will show to those who have liked your page. But as soon as one of your followers likes, comments or shares, your content is exposed to all of that person’s contacts. And it just keeps growing!

Don’t forget – bad news blows up quickly. But so does good news! Share encouraging stories often.

  1. Promote Your Practice Online

It’s okay to promote your own practice on social media! Consider advertising online appointment scheduling, a new doctor or a unique service of your facility.

Just make sure that you add value and vary your posts. Every Facebook page should have three goals (perhaps sharing relevant health news, getting new patients for a particular doctor and raising awareness of a particular service-line). And we also recommend having three posts per week to maintain an active Facebook page. Try using one post per week to support each goal!

Make sure that you are using online networks to your advantage when promoting your facility digitally.

It’s a small world after all!

Dos and Dont’s of Email Marketing

By: Carla Rivera

Dos & Don'ts of Email Marketing

A new study conducted by Adobe found that the average white-collar worker spends approximately 6 hours a day on their email.  It doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing, they check their emails constantly—while watching TV, from bed, during vacations, etc.  Email has become the way we communicate with each other not only in the workspace, but it’s our preferred method of contact, period.

How Often We Check Emails Infographic

With technology evolving so rapidly, we have to find new ways to implement these changes into our business practice.  Nowadays, more businesses are taking advantage of email marketing in order to communicate very specific messages to their audience.  Whether it’s to current or potential clients, email has become one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, especially in the healthcare industry.  But this doesn’t come without its own set of challenges.

Even though no two types of businesses are alike, there are several dos and don’ts that apply to all email marketing.  In this case, we will give you a bit more insight into email marketing in the healthcare industry.  Here it goes!

Dos:

  1. Do target the right people→ Email is a great way to direct a message to a specific audience. Remember that it’s not just about what message you want to communicate, it’s also about who you communicate that message to.  Always segmentate audiences into groups based on the targeted message.

Quick Tip!  You don’t want to send out an email to your entire list of patients to “book an appointment” when some of them may have just visited the doctor’s office.  Separate that into two lists: one with a call-to-action (CTA) to “book an appointment now” and the other as a “follow-up” to their recent appointment.

  1. Do personalize→ A person is more likely to open an email that comes from someone they know. Adding dynamic content to your emails is a great way to show your clients that you know them by personalizing the message with information that pertains to them.  Dynamic content uses the information that you already have for a person to only show content that will be relevant, without having to create separate email campaigns.  Because the message will be highly targeted, this will immediately get the attention of the person who is reading it which increases the chance that they’ll respond to a CTA.

Quick Tip!  This is a great tool to use if you have separate content based on the person’s gender or age.

  1. Do capture their attention with the subject line & pre-header→ Coming up with an email’s subject and pre-header is just as important as the content itself. Think of this as your first impression.  What can I say that will entice the reader?  Not to be confused with using words that sound like you are trying to sell them something—these can be picked up by the server as spam and that’s it… they’ll never read it.  Keep the subject forthright and honest!  Same rule applies to the pre-header—give them a snippet of what they’re about to read and make it intriguing; it should complement the subject line.  This will engage the reader and will set your email apart from the 50+ emails they may get throughout the day.

Quick Tip!  What makes a great subject line?  Click here for a few examples.

  1. Do create one CTA per email campaign→ An email campaign should only contain one very clear and brief call to action. This will more than likely result in an immediate response.  It should be so strong that the reader knows exactly what the next step is.

Quick Tip!  Make sure you follow these steps if you have any doubts on what your next CTA should be.

  1. Do add shareable content→ Yes, the purpose of an email campaign is to communicate a message, but why not go further than that?  By adding a photo, video, infographic, etc., we are giving the reader something that he or she might like to share with their friends and family.  Take advantage of the free marketing that is social media!

Quick Tip!  People are more likely to share a video on social media than any other content.  Tie a video from your YouTube channel to the email!

  1. Do create tracking links→ Creating tracking links for whatever analytics platform you are using will allow you to notice behavioral patterns and collect information and metrics. This is one of the most important email marketing tools that you can use, mostly because it will give you all the information you want to know about that campaign, especially when it involves a CTA.

Quick Tip!  Tracking links can also be linked to your website, social media, email list subscription, future mailings opt-outs, etc.

  1. Do follow CAN-SPAM laws/regulations→ It’s the law! Make sure you read up and save yourself a headache (or a lawsuit).

Quick Tip!  Have more than one person on your team writing email campaigns?  Make sure you include this information in your practice’s training program.

  1. Do use alt text for every image→ Remember how annoying it is when an image just won’t load on your phone when reading an email? This is exactly what alt text is for.  First, analyze what the image is trying to communicate and then describe it in 5—15 words; this will get the point across in case the image doesn’t load.

Quick Tip!  This is also a great place to add search engine keywords.

 

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t forget to make it mobile responsive→ Since approximately 88% of people check their email on their phones, always design for mobile first. Both the template design and email content should be mobile responsive.

Quick Tip!  Take into consideration where someone’s finger will fall when you’re deciding on where to put links in the email.

  1. Don’t write a long email→ As we stated before, always keep your message short and sweet, and focus on one CTA at a time.  The average person spends 15-20 seconds reading a single email before they scroll to the next one.  The faster you engage the reader with a clear and concise message, the less likely it is that you’ll bore them, which equals less unsubscribes.

Quick Tip!  An email campaign always has a purpose.  Find out what it is and how you can make it brief.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a lightbox pop-up→ You know that little box that pops up as soon as you go into a website? Most people assume that readers find them annoying, but studies have shown that it’s a great and effective way to increase your list of subscribers by capturing more emails, therefore reducing the bounce rate.  Granted, this is not added to the actual email, but somewhere in your email you will have a link that will direct the reader through a CTA to a website—that’s where you add the lightbox pop-up!

Lightbox Pop-up

Quick Tip!  Creating an e-mail sign-up form is by far the best use for a lightbox.

  1. Don’t send out until you test→ Every online email platform will give you the option of testing the email prior to sending it. Use this option, always!  Test out your email in desktop and mobile, as well as every popular email client (i.e. Outlook, Gmail, etc.).

Quick Tip!  Make this process simple by creating a “Test” group and including several emails from different email clients.

  1. Don’t add big graphics or photos→ It is always a great idea to add either a graphic or photo to your email. When adding an image, keep in mind that most people check their email on their phone—the bigger the image, the slower the download and the higher the possibility of the image being blocked by the server.

Quick Tip!  It is recommended that the header image be between 600px—700px and any image in the email content be around 480px.

  1. Don’t forget to include relevant links→ The name says it all—email marketing. Take this time to also include several relevant links that are tied to your practice, such as: social media, company website, contact email, etc.

Quick Tip!  Place these links front and center.  They should be spotted easily by the reader.

Top 10 Email Marketing Terms You Need To Know

By: Jessica TroccoliTop 10

We talked about why email marketing is so important in a previous post, but how can you develop a plan and where do you start? You must first understand the terminology before diving into developing a strategic plan. Here are the top ten terms you need to know about email marketing.

  1. Bounce – An email that is not successfully delivered to the intended recipient. There are two types of bounces: hard bounce and soft bounce.
    1. Hard bounce – Indicates a permanent issue that causes the email to not be delivered; i.e. an invalid or malformed email address, an unknown host, denied access or an inactive user account
    2. Soft bounce – Indicates a temporary issue that causes the email to not be delivered; i.e. a full mailbox, a server that is down or offline, a communication error or a message that is too large to be downloaded
  2. Call to action (CTA) – A statement urging the recipient to take immediate action. In emails the CTA is generally in the form of a button or hyperlinked text that takes the subscriber to a designated landing page.
  3. CAN-SPAM – An act passed in 2003 establishing rules for commercial email messages. The act gives recipients the right to opt out of receiving messages from a business and outlines the penalties for violators.
  4. Click-through rate (CTR) – The percentage of click-throughs compared to the number of emails delivered.
  5. Conversion rate – The percentage of recipients completing a desired action (i.e. made an appointment, paid a bill, created an account, subscribed to a newsletter, etc.) compared to the number of emails delivered.
  6. Deliverability – The ability to successfully deliver an email to the intended recipient without being blocked by spam filters.
  7. HTML email – An email that is formatted using hypertext markup language (HTML), meaning it is designed to include non-text elements such as logos and images.
  8. Landing page – A web page that email recipients are directed to via a hyperlink.
  9. Open rate – The percentage of opens compared to the total number of emails delivered.
  10. Opt-outs/Unsubscribes – Individuals who have indicated they no longer wish to receive further email communications.

Once you learn these terms, you will be able to start working on a strategic plan for implementing email marketing.