Social Media Marketing

What’s the Best Strategy When Making a Viral Video?


While some people might get lucky when it comes to getting a video to go viral, most of the time when it comes to videos made by brands, there is a highly tactical strategy in place before the video ever gets made. Did you know for example that the average viral video is anywhere between 15 seconds and five minutes. 15 seconds you might ask? Well think about Vine and its highly popular six second loops.

The golden rule of course for making any video with the aim of getting it to go viral is to focus on extracting an emotional response from the video’s target audience. Whether your aim is to make them laugh through slapstick comedy antics, make them cry with a heartfelt sob story or make them angry by purposely portraying a controversial topic in all its grandeur, the bottom line is connecting your audience with a story they will want to watch.

Have a look at the below infographic for a snapshot of top tips to assist you when planning a viral video, or for a more in-depth read around the strategies behind them, see this guide produced by One Productions.

one-productions-top-tips-to-make-viral-videos-igWant to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.


How to Use the New Twitter Dashboard For A/B Testing


Business Brainstorming Colleagues Corporate Concept

A/B Testing Social Media

Among today’s top social media platforms, Twitter is unique. It has the defining characteristic of being limited in post length, along with a breakneck pace at which content is generated. This combination of short messages and fast consumption make it a perfect place to perform A/B testing that quickly produces actionable results.

While basic A/B testing has always been possible on Twitter, the new dashboard offers a huge boost in analytics and data capture. Given this new development, I’m going to show you how you can test a variety of factors with A/B testing on the Twitter platform.

What Can I Test on Twitter?

Let’s start by looking at your options for testing on Twitter. It’s easy to assume there’s not much to gain from posting short messages that disappear as quickly as they appeared, but this accelerated lifespan of posts gives us the opportunity to test a wide variety of factors:

  • Specific wording, keywords, and message lengths
  • Your overall tone (witty, sarcastic, positive, casual, etc.)
  • The number of hashtags and their relevance to the content
  • Comparing different images or videos when paired with tweets
  • The days and times you send out tweets

All of these are excellent things to test with some clever strategies and use of the Twitter dashboard. This will result in new ways for your to generate leads on Twitter.

Getting Started With A/B Testing on Twitter (Using The New Dashboard)

Typically, A/B testing is done when you’re making a website and testing design elements, but the same principle can be applied to Twitter as a means of better understanding your audience and their preferences on this social media platform.  

Here’s a step-by-step guide to testing on the Twitter platform that also incorporates the analytics features from the new dashboard.

Step One: Setup Your Twitter Dashboard 

Start by heading to to get started with these new tools. Once you arrive on the page, click the “Try Twitter Dashboard” button.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to a page where you’re asked to describe your business. 

The next step in the process involves selecting the terms and keywords you want to monitor on Twitter as a whole. Here you could input anything related to your company or simply your company name in order to track any relevant mentions.

Once this is set up, you’ll be able to see all your mentions in one place without having to use a third-party app. This is great for tracking purposes and catching opportunities to engage with your audience.


Another great feature is the ability to schedule tweets within the dashboard, which further eliminates the need for third-party tools. We’ll cover the analytics portion later in this post, but for now, you should familiarize yourself with the dashboard as you prepare to start A/B testing.

Step Two: Construct Your Tweets

As with any good A/B test, you should focus on a specific factor, or a few specific factors, you’re looking to test. Keep everything else the same as a control so you can accurately observe the differences between the two tweets.

As an example, let’s say I’m promoting a new post on my blog about succeeding on today’s social media platforms. I want to test two different tweet lengths to see which one gets more engagement.

I’ll start by creating two tweets: one short, and one long:



Next, I’ll schedule each one at different days and times. I’ll choose different times to tweet so I can measure which one performs better and how the day/time affected that performance. This is a great first step, and it will provide a framework for what days and times work best for my audience.

It’s also worth noting that you can use a tool like Bitly to shorten the length of your URL. This is an excellent way to gain back more character counts in your tweets. Once we’ve finished sending out these tweets, it’s time to track their performance!

Step Three: Track Performance

When you enter the analytics portion of the Twitter dashboard, you may find yourself overwhelmed with all the new data. You can track a variety of factors ranging from 7 to 60-day intervals.

Here’s what you can see at a glance:

  • Tweet performance
  • Media tweets
  • Replies
  • Follower growth
  • Overall performance
  • Profile visits

Within the “tweets” tab you can see how specific tweets performed. This is where you’ll find the information you need to judge your A/B testing. While the main dashboard shows how many likes, retweets, and replies it received, you can look at the engagement totals with a single tweet by going into the analytics of the dashboard.

You can export the data to a CSV to see the breakdown by engagement type. You'll also be able to see what interests your audience members, broken down my industry. This will give you valuable insight into the types of topics that will resonate most with them.

The detail doesn’t stop there. You can go deeper by looking at the demographic tab, which breaks down the location, income, and gender of your followers. All of this can be used to inform your A/B testing and provide valuable feedback on each of your efforts.

Step Four: Expand Your Efforts, Never Stop Testing

With A/B testing, your job isn’t finished after one test, or even ten. Intermittent testing only serves to give you incomplete data. You need to create a consistent testing schedule that’s ongoing to continuously tweak and alter your approach.

Here are some steps to take as you move forward with your testing:

  • Repeat tests on different days/different times
  • Incorporate additional variables like promotions and CTA tweets
  • Move past Twitter and start testing on other networks

While Twitter is at the forefront of analytics with their new dashboard, that doesn't mean you can’t apply these same concepts to A/B testing on other platforms. Using this strategy will allow you to ensure that everything you post on social media resonates with your audience and increases engagement.

Remember, when you get your results, you should employ a method of observing and applying the data you’ve gathered. Here is a process inspired by the scientific method of testing:

  • Start with a question
  • Pose a hypothesis (changing the length of a tweet will alter its performance)
  • Test your hypothesis with an experiment, in this case an A/B test
  • Analyze the data you receive on each tweet and draw a conclusion
  • Showcase your results to others on your team and move forward with new testing

This simple approach will allow you to create a routine for testing that moves smoothly from test-to-test.

Final Thoughts

A/B testing is a common practice for marketers and a major step in the optimization process. With Twitter’s new dashboard, you can bring this type of testing to social media to improve your engagement and performance with each new tweet.

How do you utilize A/B testing on social media? What experiences have you had with the new Twitter dashboard? Let us know in the comments!

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.


How to Create a Successful Online Ad Campaign to Accomplish Brand Awareness


Man creating brand awareness campaign Concept

Man creating brand awareness campaign

While technology has significantly changed how companies market their products and services over the years, the guiding principles behind successful advertising campaigns have remained constant.

Before you launch an advertising campaign, whatever the media and channels, you first must know be able to answer these questions:

  • What is the marketing budget?
  • How long will the ad campaign run?
  • What are your marketing goals?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How will you measure your marketing goals?

It also helps to know what your competitors are doing. More on that later.

First things first

Let's not put the shopping cart before the horse, so to speak. That is, one of your first tasks is to determine the campaign's overall goal. If your goal is to sell products or services, you will be creating a much more aggressive campaign than if your goal is to increase brand awareness.

You can find a great deal of information on digital advertising campaigns designed to drive conversions. Somewhat less prevalent are articles focusing on the creation of online advertising campaigns simply designed to create brand awareness. We're talking apples and oranges or, in this case, conversions and clicks.

The ultimate goal of an online brand awareness campaign typically is to drive traffic to your site. Once the visitor clicks through to your site, you have the opportunity to educate and engage via relevant, valuable content. But we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.

Your ad campaign will be impacted by the factors listed above, which means you may have to tweak your original goals along the way. For example, if your original goal was simply to create top-of-mind awareness for your brand, you might want to inundate the web with banner ads. You would place ads based more on reach and frequency than on targeting a specific audience. However, if your online marketing budget is limited, you probably would have to rethink such a broad-based approach.

Consistency is key

You may not be able to blanket the web with your banner and search ads, but you can (and should) be consistent in your creative efforts. In doing so, you will build visual recognition with your online audience. Over time, elements such as your color scheme, logo and fonts will instantly resonate with viewers.

The banner ads below are good examples of consistency in advertising. It just so happens the ads are promoting BP, which has had to dig its brand out of the PR hole created by the oil spill back in 2010. And with the release of the "Deepwater Horizon" movie, the BP brand may take a bashing again.


A brand awareness campaign such as BP's hovers between the worlds of advertising and public relations. Because BP is already a known brand, the overarching goal may be brand awareness, with a campaign devoted specifically to altering the public's perception of the brand.

Note, too, the call to action (CTA) for each of the banner ads. It is not an "in-your-face" CTA like BUY NOW. Instead, the CTAs encourage the viewer to "Learn more" or "Read the Report." In the most simplified sense, brand awareness campaigns are soft sell vs. hard sell.

In fact, your brand awareness campaign could be the precursor to a straight sales campaign. This ties in perfectly with the consumer buying process:


Just keep in mind that it most likely will take longer to see results from a brand awareness campaign. Patience and persistence will pay off in the long run.

If you want to learn more about brand strategy and awareness, OMI recommends How To Be The Most Talked About Brand. 

How to get the most bang for your buck

The Google Ad Network is a popular choice for setting up a digital advertising campaign. According to Google AdSense, the most successful banner ad sizes are:

  • 336x280 large rectangle
  • 300x250 medium rectangle
  • 728x90 leaderboard
  • 300x600 half page
  • 320x100 large mobile banner

Whether you're resizing an image within each ad or the ads themselves, this can eat up a lot of valuable time. That's when a tool like the Image Resizer comes in handy. Simply upload your image, plug in the desired width and height in pixels, and you've got yourself a resized image.

The tool also comes in handy when prepping ads and images for social media. That's right, don't overlook advertising on social media sites. These can be particularly effective for brand awareness campaigns. Admittedly, it all can be a quite overwhelming. Here's a helpful guide to ad sizes on social media.

With search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, be careful in your keyword bidding. If you're running more than one campaign at a time, you don't want to bid against yourself. With Google AdWords, you can use the AdWords Editor to avoid duplicate keywords.

As mentioned above, it's important to know what your competition is up to online. This is especially true when it comes to keyword bidding. Your competitor may be bidding on your brand name, and you can return the favor.

If you want to learn more about Social Media and Branding, OMI recommends Brand Advocacy Strategies for Social Media.

Getting them to 'click' with your content

So someone clicked on your ad and ended up on your website; now what? Your first inclination might be to take the visitor to your home page. For best results, however, create a dedicated landing page. Even better, create (and test) several landing pages to see which ones perform best. If you don't have the bandwidth or budget to design multiple landing pages, use an online service such as Unbounce, which provides landing page templates (no HTML coding needed).

The content on the landing page should follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. It also should be tailored to complement the banner ad. That way, when the visitor arrives at your page, there is no disconnect. It's a seamless experience. We often think of site design and functionality when we're discussing user experience (UX), but content also can dramatically affect the online experience.

Are we there yet?

How do you know if your brand campaign is a success? Many marketers are leery of brand awareness campaigns because they can be more difficult to measure. But that's the beauty of digital advertising; it's easy to track your campaigns online.

In addition to monitoring your Google and other paid search campaigns, you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to track the volume of searches for your brand name.

Be sure to conduct social listening, as social networking sites offer keen insights into how consumers react to your brand (or not). Several social listening platforms, such as Hootsuite, offer both free and paid plans.

Assuming you've integrated an email component into your online campaign (as you should), you also could conduct a survey to gauge brand awareness.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.


Darcy Grabenstein is a freelance copywriter with more than 20 years experience in print and digital advertising. In the digital world, she has worked extensively with e-commerce and email campaigns. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


4 Ways to Find Marketing Qualified Leads on Twitter


Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere sign on white background.

You already know that social media platforms like Twitter have the potential to build your client base – and your bottom line. But how do you know when you’re looking at a marketing qualified lead? When do you know there’s a good chance of generating interaction, winning a new customer and increasing your sales? A few telltale signs and characteristics will help you navigate the vast world of online discussion and find those qualified leads that you want.

  1. They’re talking

While Twitter has 313 million active users each month, not all of them are engaged. You’re looking for social media users who are active. In your research, ask some key questions about your potential leads to help you decide whether someone’s likely to take it to the next level: Is this person engaged in Twitter – in other words, do they tweet often and consistently? Do they often share content, and if so, what kind? How well do they respond to mentions?

Kissmetrics says targeting power users – those who are 86% more likely to send tweets and twice as likely to follow more than 20 brands – can help build your MQLs. Likewise, cultivating influencers – those who are generally trusted experts or celebrities who have a wide following – can be hugely influential because that one qualified lead can result in connections with hundreds or thousands of leads.

Keep in mind that 46% of consumers turn to social media when they’re thinking of making a purchase – they want to know what other people think. What’s more is people are 92% more likely to trust recommendations over brand content – even when those recommendations come from people they don’t know, AdWeek says.

That’s the power of social media discussion.

  1. They’re talking about you

We don’t necessarily mean you, but more specifically whether people are talking about what’s relevant to you and what your company offers. Are they discussing your product, similar products, or activities and interests relevant to your product? Your marketing qualified leads will display interests that are congruent with your company.

Entrepreneur magazine points to the example of Chicago-area baker Foiled, which in 2011 filled about 1,000 orders a month. Owner Mari Luangrath said she built her

customer base through “targeted listening,” or finding the conversations where her company naturally fit, starting with female followers of a public radio station in the Chicago area. Searching Twitter bios for job titles, interests and other factors can help you identify a core target audience. Tools like Socedo can help you automate that process by searching keywords and syncing with your marketing software.

  1. They fit your buyer persona

Understanding who is most likely to purchase your product or become a client is key to finding MQLs on Twitter. What is your buyer persona? It’s essential a characterization of who is likely to respond to your product or offering. What is the age, gender, geographic location you’d like to reach? What are their job titles and where do they work? What do they spend their money on, and what do they like to do in their spare time? What is important to them? How do they describe themselves in their social media bios?

Who might be the influencers your target persona engages with? What are the keywords you’d expect them to use in search engines and in posts?

  1. They’re responsive

TwitterSmallBiz says 85% of Twitter users feel more connected to brands they follow than ones they don’t. Follows demonstrate interest in your company or product, as do actions such as likes and retweets. They’re a clear message that you’ve captured a potential lead’s interest, and it’s time to follow up. Socedo has found that socially engaged leads convert into customers 22 percent faster than leads who aren’t engaged. Reach out and make a connection with a follow and a direct message, offering engaging content with a clear call-to-action tailored to their interests. When they click your link, you know you’ve got them. Wait a day before sending them an email so that you extend the amount of time your brand is in their minds.

Remember, it might take a couple of “touches” on social media before a marketing qualified lead engages – look for ways to provide the most valuable, targeted content to your leads and you’ll be most likely to win them over as repeat customers.


Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 9.00.16 AMTeena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. Socedo is a demand generation system that empowers marketers to discover, engage with and qualify prospects through social media to generate revenue at scale.







Three Emerging Social Channels You Must Keep An Eye On In 2016


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There are few digital realms that captivate more people these days than social. The social space is an evocative one. Social media can be rather personal.  This makes it fundamentally intriguing, allowing people to peek behind the curtains of our lives - or rather, our companies lives. Whether we portray an authentic image is up to us, but -  that notion of transparency is why our customers love to visit us in our ‘social homes.’ They walk through our social doorways to get to know the product more deeply, see how human our organizations are (or aren’t), and interact with whatever useful and free content we’re happily providing. And, as the age old psychological phenomenon reveals, proximity breeds affection and attention, so it behooves us to to build social homes wherever the customer might wander. The same side of that coin a mantra worth repeating: as marketers -  we must always, always watch new and emerging channels. New and emerging channels are likely where our audiences are - or in the least, exploring. Their actions, interactions, engagement, disengagement, can give us incredibly useful information on what our potential customers are - and aren't interested in, and of course, where the eyeballs are, at any given moment. 

With that, here are a few emerging social channels to watch in 2016.

Hyper: Instagram and reddit got married, and had a hyper.

With Hyper, user post images directly to areas that interest them.  Others who have previously subscribed to that interest area, will get notified. Users provide instant feedback in the the form of up votes and down votes. Hyper still feels a little shaky where UX is concerned but -  by taking some of the most popular features from other highly successful social media forums (photo heavy, hashtags, voting, and geographic tagging), hyper may be poised for a ton of growth and eyeballs in 2016.

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Blab: Live streaming - that doesn’t suck.

Blab is simple, intuitive, and provides a higher sense of engagement than Google hangouts in that it is outfitted with a panel for live chat on the left, and a panel to tweet on the right. The medium also limits guests to 3 people, with an option for one of those seat to be left open for a “call in” during the blab. This cultivates a sense of exclusivity, unlike Google hangouts, where you can host up to 10 video participants. And unlike Facebook mentions, Meerkat and Periscope, Blab is not limited to mobile only. Further, it’s easy recording feature has made it relatively popular tool for use in podcasts, after shows, interviews etc. Blab’s versatility, simplicity, built in live chat and social integrations, might just be enough to position them as a leader in live streaming in 2016.

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photo cred:

Peach: Making social media … more addictive?

Crafted by the creator of Vine, Dan Hoffman, peach is a new app that some are claiming might be ‘the one to take on the giants’, (read:Facebook, Twitter). For those who enjoy social media (most of us) peach is intriguing in that is ups your potential ‘social creativity’ by acting as your social media assistant, pulling images, gifs, songs, moods, emoji etc., based on “magic” words typed by the user. Still, it’s lack of timeline and inability to follow those who aren’t friends, leaves me questioning its’ realistic lifespan.

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Over 90% of Companies Lack Digital Skills – And What You Can Do About It


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What is the digital talent gap?

According to a study done by Capgemini Consulting in conjunction with MIT Center for Digital Business, they uncovered some staggering stats that will help us understand the phenomenon.

  • Over 90% of companies lack digital skills
  • 77% of companies considered ‘missing digital skills’ as a key hurdle to digital transformation
  • 87% of companies believe a digital transformation is a competitive opportunity
  • Only 47% of companies are investing in developing digital skills
  • Only 4% of companies are ensuring their training efforts are aligned with their overall digital strategy
  • Companies are spending no more than 20% of their training budget on digital
  • Only 30% of organizations mentioned HR as being actively involved in skills development

Companies across the globe felt the biggest holes in digital skill sets across their organization in the following areas: social media, mobile, internal social networks, process automation and analysis.

According to the same 2013 study, the below skills are most relevant for the digital age:

  • Big data analytics
  • Social media
  • Mobile devices
  • Cloud

To get a bit more granular, skills in this area range from light tech to heavy tech-centric skills. Light tech skills in the digital age include things like social media management, brand building online, online community management, virtual (webinar, presentation, etc.) facilitation, writing for different digital mediums, marketing automation tools management, customer service and public relations. Heavy tech skills in the digital age include things like user interface design, mobile device management, mobile device security, data analysis, app management and design, and much more.

The second half of the puzzle lies in corporations needs to match tech skills with business acumen. The true value of digital skills are born when they are combined with a deep understanding of the business. This is leading to an increased need for employees who have both technical skills plus business and leadership abilities.

So - what can companies do to ‘plug the skills gap?’

Let’s first take a look at what some companies are currently doing. Google partnered with P&G to implement an employee exchange program to help teach their employees how to sell things online. They focused on digital and search marketing to help bring their e-commerce into the 21st century. Nike partnered with Techstars in an incubator program to create new products.

Upskilling employees is an ideal way to empower those who already know your business, with the digital skills needed to close the gap in your organization.

And, this upskilling does not need to be ‘Google-sized.’ Small and medium sized business have options. There are ways to invest in current employees that don’t require you to be P&G or Nike.

Organizations, like ours - offer affordable options for digital and online training for companies of all sizes. We’ve been training teams since 2007 and have supported corporate teams as large as 10,000 employees, and as small as 10. We offer fully customized eLearning programs with the added benefit of leveraging over 400 + hours of existing high quality content taught by Digital Marketing thought leaders, authors, and leading practitioners.

We begin with an assessment to test employee’s digital knowledge to help us build a program to fill your skills gap and augment your employee strengths. We’ll then help design a custom based learning pathway comprised of classes that fit your organization's’ particular skill(s) gap. We also offer LMS integration, marketing support, reporting dashboards, and robust user role access to support any size organization.

We’d love to help you empower your team. Visit our Corporate Training Page or send us an inquiry.



5 Digital Trends That Will Define 2016


1) High Customer Expectations Will Just Keep Getting Higher

Personalization, targeting, retargeting and seamless e-commerce experiences will be exponentially more important in 2016. An average customer experience will no longer fly. The ‘new normal’ in customer experience will trend towards tailoring the experience to each person’s behaviors, interest,  and on, and even off-line, activities. Companies must think about specific customer journeys, personalities and interests of their varied customers. They must seek out the appropriate tools to execute on those initiatives, and empower their employees to work together to bring the experience to life.


2) Powerful Tools (Read Data) For All:

Integrative software that felt out of reach for many small businesses will become more affordable. The market has become more saturated with copy cat, yet powerful, tools across numerous parts of any business making them more accessible.

Close-up of a modern business team using tablet computer to work with financial data

3) Data, Data, and More Data

With powerful, data driven software accessible to more companies, marketers will begin to focus on the data. You'll see marketers leaning heavily on metrics to help inform strategies and priorities.


4) Be Prepared to Spend More

While online ads are still relatively cheap, the increase in competition in the digital world should increase the cost of advertising quite a bit. Small companies with already limited budgets may find themselves struggling to make any sum of money go the distance when it comes to paid advertising.


5) Work With Siri, Not Against Her

Search Engine Optimization is going to change dramatically. This is in part due to social media beginning to be indexed by Google (aka your social presence will affect search results). This is also in part thanks to our favorite mobile friend Siri and her counterparts. Siri, the google app, etc., are now woven into our technology of choice - our phone. Now that mobile browsing has surpassed desktop, and these technologies have become less clunky, people will begin trending their way to find what they need. To ensure you don’t get left out of the mix, make sure you’re serving these bots with the information to find you.


Meet the real woman behind the voice of Siri 



Small-Budget Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season



Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us in no time and every self-respecting business will be sending out letters, greeting cards, emails or logo-stamped gifts. Direct marketing is one of the most fascinating branches of marketing. From the days of yore, it has made people talk, share and take action. With so many messages thrown at people throughout the day, direct marketing provides one of the least risky – and anticipated and accepted, if a bit interruptive – ways to connect with customers. I love creative mailers that come through my door. Some are thoughtful, some are clever, and some are downright cheeky. However, one common point amongst all these mailers is they are all prohibitively expensive for small businesses.

This is where small budget ideas come in. These ideas make it possible for small businesses to connect with their customers in surprisingly affordable and effective ways.

Holiday Vines

Vine set the precedent in making hastily-shot amateur videos all the rage. With Instagram and Periscope only confirming that video-clip marketing is here to stay, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to post a series of Vines leading up to Christmas and New Year. All you have to do is grab your smartphone and look around for cute and quirky opportunities to make a video.

Check out this cute and funny Vine made with zero dollars’ investment:

1 holiday vines

Embed Vine:

Take a look at the other videos on Christmas Channel – the channel that hosts the above video for more amazing ideas.

Top Tips

  • Share your Vines on other social platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook.
  • Embed links to your Vines on product pages on your website, blog posts, and email.
  • Make a series of Vines on a particular theme. For instance, think Harvey Nichols’ famous “I Spent it On Myself” commercial, break the idea into smaller videos – and you have a series!
  • Scour the app store for video editing apps that come with tons of effects to make your videos funny, creative and cool. Use these liberally.

Holiday Emails

2 holiday card

Inboxes are invariably flooded with the same old “formulaically creative” emails during holiday times. So the chances of your email being read are infinitely small.

But with a little proactive and out-of-the-box (we desperately need a more out-of-the-box word for out-of-the-box) thinking, you can ensure your holiday emails are read.

Top Tips

  • First things first – stop being stingy when it comes to photos. Say goodbye to the ubiquitous boring vector backgrounds and illustrations, and invest in high quality pictures; or better yet, hire a good photographer. Yes, this still counts as “small-budget.” You can borrow creative “ideas” instead of “images” – Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration.
  • If you are short on time, try online email creators. They are intuitive and easy to use, and you are done in minutes. Plus they come with a lot of beautiful, seasonal templates and forms, so you can create highly engaging emails with designer-like finesse. Most likely, your email marketing suite has such features too.
  • Don’t leave it for too late – start emailing at least weeks in advance.
  • Include creatively modified photos of your staff for more personalized email greetings. Other than being great for employees’ morale, it also lends a face and identity to your company.

3 merry christmas

Web Banners

Turn the banners on your homepage and category pages into online billboards. The banner or slider on your homepage is the first thing your visitors notice, so it makes sense to create one specifically for holiday season. Personalized card and gift item retailer is known for putting out banners with timely messages relevant to upcoming events, days or seasons.

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More effective than just banners are entire landing pages with customized elements, each of which appeals to customers’ holiday moods. You can do this (without much coding) using DIY ecommerce platforms such as Spaces, which allows you to create product pages or even single-page websites with mobile-optimized, easy-to-A/B-test banners that give you more room for creativity while showcasing your merchandise.

If all your DIY or in-house efforts fail, you can always fall back on community-powered design marketplaces like 99Designs to not only get yourself a customized banner but pick and choose from dozens of entries submitted by the community.


In perfecting your means, don’t forget your message. Content marketing still remains the #1 small-budget marketing medium. Done right on your email and social media, and especially on your blog, content allows you to drive traffic to your business.

However, you need to start early. Create indirect branded content (including infographics) on holiday themes, such as:

  • X Things You Can Fill in That Dog Christmas Stocking (for a pet food company)
  • X Original Setups to Capture Awesome Christmas Selfies (for a camera or smartphone company)
  • Why Santa Is Going To Pay Us an Extended Visit This Year (for anyone to share their annual success stories)

Send teasers through emails and share them on social networks from at least a month before, while there is still ample chance for them to be read.

Smart Gifts

5 success kid meme

Though content and email marketing have proven to be highly effective ways of marketing, it is always a good idea to send out physical gifts during holidays.

But you need to think beyond personalized pens to logo-engraved mugs – there never seems to be a shortfall of such boring “corporate” gifts.

And what’s more, these gifts are just that – gifts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take on the festivities with more smart (read eco-friendly) and creative ideas for direct marketing (without the overwhelming expenses, of course)?

So here’s a thoughtful gift idea for which clients and customers will remember you for a long time:

Costing just around $2, plantable paper can make awesome gifts to help your customers stay focused on their goals. Simply send a letter with the plantable or seed paper (with your own custom messages such as “Hope our association grows stronger by the day!”) that explains the concept of your gift and how to use it, and you are done!

Plantable papers are available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get hold of it.

6 plantable paper

The best part about such gifts is you can follow up with timely cross-sells or reports and cement your relationship in the process.

Over to You

The new truth of marketing is that no single channel is enough these days. You cannot say with conviction that you’ll be successful just by milking a channel you’re good at, whether it’s email, social or television ads. You need to create a multi-channel marketing mix with all the ingredients perfectly mixed together to create awesome holiday season campaigns.

With mega-sale days just round the corner, don’t waste much time – start experimenting with as many guerilla-budget campaigns as you can. Like, now!


Wait – What IS Real-Time Marketing?



Every few years, something magical comes along. Marketers get excited, the internet gets excited, and we all decide that this, this strategy is the new wave, the marketing strategy that will take us to the next level. So - who’s the lucky homecoming queen? It seems that real-time marketing stole the crown this year.

Big brands, those companies generally promoting and writing about real-time marketing define it as - interacting with their target audience based on current local, national or global events and trends and responding to immediate customer feedback. When a company interjects itself into a current trend or craze, they aim to make their product more appealing based on the association of said product or company with an exciting or trending event. Generally this happens in the form of a meme, video, or graphic shared on social media channels.

This is the antithesis to planning ahead and plotting a marketing strategy to roll out over the course of the quarter or year. Big brands, with big budgets, obviously have the leg up in being able to experiment in real - time, some having huge success, while others not as much.

The term newsjacking has also been floating around in association with real-time marketing. When you research this trend, you may find a clearer - more agreed upon definition. This might simply be due to the straight-forward nomenclature.

However, many marketers have a different definition of real-time marketing.

According to a study done by Neolane and the Direct Marketing Association recently released a study of 235 North American marketers, and to them, real time marketing was defined as, “dynamic, personalized content delivered across channels.”

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Here’s what they think real-time marketing means.

  • The majority of the participants (43%) think of real-time marketing as “dynamic, personalized content delivered across channels.”
  • 64% of participants believe real-time marketing revolves around some kind of dynamic personalization.
  • Only 23% believe real-time marketing is about making quick responses to mainstream events or injecting your business in social media conversations.

That doesn’t really align with what brands are promoting. Where’s the disconnect? It might be that the practice hasn’t been around long enough and still needs some time to settle. Or, perhaps, real-time marketing is all of the above, or none...what do you think?