Author Archive

Content Marketing: How to use social media sweepstakes to encourage user-generated content

October 27th, 2015 No comments

“I think content is becoming the forefront for any ecommerce or digital strategy,” Andy Wang, Digital Brand Marketing Manager, World Kitchen, said.

The struggle, though, can come in creating that content. In 2014, 45% of B2C marketers reported “producing enough content” as a top challenge, according to the B2C Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report. And that’s just creating it. Moreover, 51% of marketers struggled with “producing the kind of content that engages.”

How can marketers meet the content amount demands while still producing quality content that resonates with customers?Challenges that B2C Content Marketers Face chart

At the MarketingSherpa IRCE Media Center, Andy discussed with Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, how his team worked through these challenges.

“For us at World Kitchen, it was critical for us to bring in valid content that would showcase some of our passions that our consumers have for our products,” Andy said. “Giving them a voice was critical and allowing them to contribute to our website and be a part of our campaigns. That was one of the things we really enjoyed and were hopeful for.”

You can watch his full interview to learn how his team invited customers to share pictures and stories and integrated this user generated content into their digital marketing strategy.

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Marketing Management: 6 lessons from The Walking Dead for your team and marketing efforts

October 20th, 2015 1 comment

For decades, people have been pulling leadership and life lessons from film and television. From sports and war inspired movies to law dramas and comedies, we see characters make tough decisions, lead their teams to victory or support them through the losses.

For me, apocalypse stories often have some of the most dynamic and interesting characters to watch. To survive in such circumstances, they often learn important lessons that you just don’t think about or encounter as dramatically in a normal day-to-day life. Stripping them of their modern conveniences and the restraints of society and laws, you quickly get to see who they really are as a person.

Even though the office place doesn’t require the same life-or-death decisions, we can still draw out valuable lessons from the decisions these characters make.

The Walking Dead fans like me know that Season 6 has finally arrived. To celebrate, I’ve rounded up six lessons marketing leaders can take away from the drama and apply to their teams.

6 lessons from The Walking Dead for your team and marketing efforts


Lesson #1. Don’t let your guard down (and keep testing)

“You’re not safe. No matter how many people are around, or how clear the area looks, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think. You are not safe. It only takes one second. One second and it’s over. Never let your guard down. Ever. I want you to promise me.”

—    Rick Grimes, Season 5 

You might be asking how this relates to marketing. Replace “you” with “your webpages” and switch “safe” to “bulletproof.” Your webpages are not bulletproof.

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Copywriting: A 5-step guide to a well-defined copy editing process

October 13th, 2015 2 comments

In my four years at MECLABS Institute, the parent company of MarketingSherpa, I’ve held a few different roles on the Editorial Content team.

However, my very first role was junior copy editor. Having been there and done that, it provides me a unique perspective to manage our current copy editor, Shelby Dorsey.

It’s a unique role. No one seems to know you’re there until you mess up. I can still remember that first email forwarded to me after a director in the company found a small mistake I overlooked in a newsletter send. It was horrifying.

Recently, Shelby and I have set out to help improve some of the processes around the copy editing role, and I know we aren’t the only ones who need help streamlining this area of marketing.

First on the list was increasing the turnaround times for the various content pieces.

To start the presentation, I wanted to find a quote that embodied what a copy editor is. In my search, I found the copy editor description Merrill Perlman wrote in her CNN article, “Why ‘America’ needs copy editors.”

Copy Editor Quote


It’s with this quote that I started a simple, but detailed internal PowerPoint deck outlining the copy editing process, requirements and timelines. To help you implement or improve your own copy editing process and procedures, we’re giving you an inside look at that deck.

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Categories: Copywriting Tags:

The Power of Visuals: How four companies effectively used visual content and three tools to get you started

August 18th, 2015 1 comment

An image is a powerful tool in the digital world.

It can draw attention, communicate value, increase shareability and so much more. In fact, HubSpot pulled together the “17 Stats You Should Know About Visual Content Marketing in 2015” to display this. From what your peers are doing to how effective visual content is for social sharing, the stats of recent studies are certainly interesting.

Two stats stuck out to me while researching this topic.Visual storytelling in the digital world

First, tweets with images were clicked 18% more and retweeted 150% more than those without, according to Buffer.

Second, when looking at the most shared posts from Facebook pages, a photo post made up 87% of interactions.

Even better than stats, I came across four success stories that show how visual content can greatly impact your content and social media marketing efforts, from blog views to Facebook shares.


Case study examples

Content Marketing: Interactive infographic blog post generates 3.9 million views for small insurance company

As a smaller insurance company, HCC Medical Insurance Service (HCCMIS) needed a way to stand out in its marketplace. While insurance can typically be thought of as a boring product, the HCCMIS team decided to make their blog content more exciting with interactive infographics.

The result? The team saw a 1,000% lift in blog traffic, as well as significant lifts in social media followers and email revenue.

Interactive infographic blog post generates 3.9 million views for small insurance company

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Marketing Careers: 5 sites to develop and enhance your skills with free online courses

March 31st, 2015 No comments

Marketing is continually changing and evolving, and nothing has propelled that more than the Internet.

This means marketers must grow with the industry. According to Formstack, those in digital marketing now need seven skills beyond the norm to succeed:career key

  • Analytics
  • Social media
  • Data visualization
  • Technical skills
  • Teamwork
  • Newsjacking
  • Soft skills


While the digital age has created a need for new skills, it has also enabled marketers to learn those skills with the click of a button, without going back to college.

It’s possible to learn these skills through books, blog posts, podcasts and more, all with little to no cost commitment. There are also moderate to expensive online courses available. However, for those who might want a more structured or interactive learning experience without the cost, we have a few options for you to check out.

Read on to learn about five different sites that can help expand your skills in a variety of areas.


Google Analytics Academy

Skill: Analytics

Google offers free online courses to improve analytics skills in its Analytics Academy. It’s an at-your-own-pace format. You can watch lessons from Google’s experts, then test your knowledge through quizzes and practices exercises. They have also created a learning community with course forums so you can engage with other students and experts.

After you’ve mastered the courses, you can earn Google Analytics Individual Qualification by taking the IQ test, which is now free of charge.



Skill: Coding

Codeacademy’s mission is “teaching the world how to code.” For no cost, users can learn to code in multiple programming languages:

  • HTML and CSS
  • Javascript
  • jQuery
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • PHP

It also offers courses on to make a website, an interactive website and a Rails Application, where students build their own versions of popular websites — Airbnb, Flipboard and Etsy.

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Email Summit 2015 According to Twitter: Your peers share their key takeaways from Day 1 on engaging, empowering and serving customers

February 25th, 2015 No comments

If you haven’t noticed, #SherpaEmail has taken over Twitter.

Well, maybe not in a break-the-Internet scale of Kim Kardashian, but your marketing peers have been tweeting their hearts out with all the good information they’ve learned at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015.

With Day 2 of Summit underway, we wanted to share some key nuggets your peers found valuable on Day 1. (I might have smuggled a few of my own in too.) Check out some key takeaways from each of yesterday’s insightful sessions.


Humanizing Your Email Program: How to transcend the digital revolution by using the essential ability to communicate person-to-person

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute

Flint revealed four fundamental principles that guide effective communication and provided examples of how these principles can be used to transform your entire email program.

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Nonprofit Marketing: 3 tips to increase year-end revenue

November 14th, 2014 1 comment

With the end of the year approaching fast, it’s not only retail industry marketers who have campaigns to implement. It’s also a busy season for nonprofit marketers – a time of the year for holiday giving and year-end contributions.

What can nonprofit marketers do to increase their fourth quarter revenue? We’re sharing three tips for you that have proven effective for others, and might prove useful for you, too.


Tip #1. Coordinate your offline and online marketing efforts

It can be hard to stand out in a crowded mailbox – both your physical mail box and email inbox. That’s why HealthConnect One wanted use both channels in its year-end campaign. The team had previously sent out direct mail including an appeal letter to its supporters, but they decided email might be a great way to reinforce the message.

By creating a four-email campaign around the direct mail piece, the nonprofit saw a 50% increase in revenue compared to the prior year. To see the emails and learn more about the campaign, check out the MarketingSherpa case study, “Email Marketing: Four short emails boost year-end revenue 50% for nonprofit organization.”


Tip #2. Provide “quick donate” links for previous donors

The Obama for America campaign wanted to enable repeat donors to effortlessly give again. This required a few steps.

First, they encouraged donors to save their payment information during checkout. Second, they sent out emails with multiple calls-to-action (CTA) for different contribution levels. Third, with one click of the CTA, donors could donate again without visiting a landing page or filling out a form.



The result? Conversion rates increased 300% on average when using the links.

To learn more about this tip and other tactics the campaign used, read the MarketingSherpa case study, “Email Testing: How the Obama campaign generated approximately $500 million in donations from email marketing.”

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Email Marketing: Combining design and content for mobile success

July 1st, 2014 No comments


That’s how much mobile email opens have increased in just three years.

“Which is kind of crazy,” Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus, said following the recent statistics from Litmus’ research on mobile.

And she’s right. How many channels increase that much in usage in that short amount of time? Not many.

Because of the sudden growth, not all marketing departments have been able to keep up with the trend.

With 50% of emails being opened on a mobile device, mobile email strategy is worth considering for any market, even B2B companies.

Justine spoke at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 as an industry perspective in the session, “Email Design: How to optimize for ALL environments in a mobile world.”

She joined Allison Banko, Reporter, MECLABS, in the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 Media Center. There, she recapped her industry perspective session, as well as hit on two mistakes she still sees among mobile emails: content strategy and best practices of mobile design.

“It’s key to get those two things working in tandem to really optimize the full experience,” she said.


In addition to her industry perspective session, Justine also joined a diverse panel of experts, solution providers and brand-side marketers on responsive email design. Watch a brief excerpt from that panel discussion below:

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Email Marketing: 4 steps to optimize a mobile experience for better conversion

April 15th, 2014 No comments

Mobile is big, but just how big is it?

Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus, posed that question during her Industry Perspective session, “Email Design: How to optimize for all environments in a mobile world,” at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014.



Almost half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, according to Litmus research. That’s definitely big – especially since it was just three years ago that Litmus found only 10% of emails were opened on mobile.

So what can we do to capitalize on this drastic shift?

Justine said we need to re-examine the subscriber experience from the mobile user’s perspective. While she covered the whole path, we’ll hit on four of the steps subscribers experience.



Step #1. Don’t ignore pre-header text

Many inboxes are formatted so that users can see not only the subject line, but also a line of additional text in the email. This text is pulled from the first bit of text at the top of your email. However, you can hide this text and still have it show in the pre-header area if you wish.

The default text for most templates is not very valuable messaging. She showed these examples of dos and don’ts to the Summit audience:



“My challenge to you is, is this a positive brand experience? Is this really what you want people to associate with your ‘From’ name and subject line? Go back and re-evaluate your pre-header text – it’s showing up in mobile inboxes everywhere,” Justine advised.

She suggested making your pre-header “tie into the subject line, bringing [readers] in and encouraging the click.”

The pre-header is another opportunity to infuse value into your email – don’t let it go to waste. iPhones cut your subject lines off at about 35 characters.


Step #2. Embrace scrolling in an opened email



This is the same email but it looks completely different. Why?

“It’s because not every smartphone or mobile device is going to support HTML and CSS or even display the email in similar way,” Justine said.

Plus, Android devices vary in what they do and don’t support, so they can be challenging to work with. Some scale the email, some cut off the right side of an email and some support responsive design. Justine said iPhones are a little friendlier, scaling to a 320-pixel width.

But with scaling comes other issues to keep in mind: text and images resize as well.

Justine hit on another key aspect of the user’s experience after opening an email on your email: scrolling.

“Scrolling is a really natural behavior on any mobile device,” she said. “Clicking, or tapping, represents a decision. It’s a point of friction that people are going to either have to embrace or move past.”

mobile-site-clicksIn an email like the one to the right, you don’t know where you’ll be tapping. Where will your finger land with so many small choices? You need to make the user experience more friendly in emails. You don’t need to compact as many options as possible “above the fold.” There is no fold on your iPhone.

“Embrace the scroll; people are inherently going to scroll on mobile devices,” Justine said.


Step #3. Recognize a finger is the new mouse

On mobile devices, people are not clicking. Instead, they’re tapping, rendering your “Click Here” call-to-action illogical. There is no mouse to click on a smartphone – only a finger, or stylus, to tap.

“’Click Here’ is a really crappy call-to-action anyway. You need to add a lot value, make sure the buttons are topical, and tell people what they’re going to get when they click or tap on your emails,” Justine said.

The “tap” experience is more than the text of your buttons and calls-to-action. It’s also about the area or location you want to physically tap.

Justine said, “You no longer have a one by one [pixel] target area. It’s more like a 40 by 40 target area.”

A finger requires more tapping space than a mouse needs clicking space. Make sure they can actually tap on that valuable CTA you crafted.

  Read more…

Top MarketingSherpa Blog Posts of 2013: 10 lessons in social media, content and email marketing

December 26th, 2013 3 comments

After tallying up the number of times our audience shared posts, social media, content and email marketing are the areas to receive the most tweets from your peers. That means inbound marketing as a whole once again reigned supreme on the MarketingSherpa Blog, earning 10 of the top 15 spots of 2013. We’ll break down these three areas with key lessons we can learn and apply to our efforts in the new year.

And, since this list is all about the tweets, we’ll include some interesting ones about select posts. Carry on to learn the top 10 lessons of 2013.


Social Media Lessons

Lesson #1. Adapt your social content so that it is appropriate for each social media platform 

In his post, “Social Media Marketing: Which type of content is appropriate for different platforms?” Jonathan Greene, Business Intelligence Manager, MECLABS, used an unusual set of analogies to help marketers understand what tone and content to use on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read this post to learn about the personality each platform has, and how you can effectively put them to work.


Lesson #2. Be able to answer why customers should like or follow you

When it comes to social media buttons, you should ask yourself why your customers should follow you. This can be a tougher question for companies that aren’t natural content producers.

You must provide some value for customers in exchange for the privilege to show up in their newsfeed. Value can be ongoing, like exclusive discounts just for Twitter followers, or a one-time opportunity, such as a chance to win a prize.

Read more about this question, and three others, in the post, “Social Media Marketing: 4 questions to ask yourself about social media buttons.” You can also use value proposition to better answer this question, as described by Jonathan Greene in this post, “Social Media Marketing: Why should I like or follow you?


Lesson #3. Add visual elements to your social media content

While a quote is just words, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring a visual component to the content. The New York Public Library created graphics for an already popular content type –  celebrity quotes – to create a social media campaign with impressive results. Learn more about its efforts from Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS: “Social Media Marketing: How New York Public Library increased card sign-ups by 35%.”

Interestingly, it seems this post was the most shared on Twitter for certain individuals:


Lesson #4. Go beyond the “like” to track your social media success

David Kirkpatrick, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS, broke down a chart covering social media marketing metrics tracking in the post, “Social Media Marketing: Social metrics from “likes” to ROI.” While social reach (e.g., “likes”) tops the list, some marketers are also measuring ROI, leads and conversion. See what other metrics your peers are using to benchmark success in their organizations.


Content Marketing Lessons

Lesson #5. Analyze your blog to identify areas for improvement

There are a lot of elements that make up your blog. When was the last time you stood back to evaluate if all of those pieces were working as well as they could?

In his post, “Content Marketing: An 8-point analysis for your blog,” Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, explained the eight points on which to focus your evaluation. From the frequency of your posts and their titles, to author bios and social media integration, you could have untapped potential waiting to be found.


Lesson #6. Use WordPress, or any tool, to its fullest potential

No matter what channel or platform you’re using, you want to get all you can out of it. For the post, “Content Marketing: 5 tips for WordPress blogging,” Erin Hogg, Copy Editor, MECLABS, broke down some ways she’s learned to improve a WordPress blog. Learn how to cross promote media with embedding, use basic HTML to improve the look and feel of a post, and more.


Lesson #7. Implement (and stick with) a style for your content

AP? Chicago? MLA? APA? There are many established styles, and one might work as-is for your organization. You could decide to create your own.  At MECLABS, we use the Associated Press Style Book as our foundation and supplement it with a set of our own guidelines.

No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to stick with the guide for all of your content. Having well-proofed and consistent content adds to the credibility of your content and builds the authority of your brand.

Erin Hogg explained this and other tips in her post, “Content Marketing: 7 copy editing tips to improve any content piece.”


Email Marketing Lessons

Lesson #8. Don’t forget about current customers when designing triggered email campaigns

In the post, “Email Marketing: 3 overlooked aspects of automated messages,” Daniel Burstein said nurturing current customers is one of the most overlooked automated email opportunities. He shared a list of triggered email types you can implement to strengthen relationships with you customers, including product education and upselling.

This post also features two other overlooked aspects of automated emails: customer lifetime value and the gap between what marketers should do and what they actually do.


Lesson #9. Test your emails to discover what really works for your audience

You could be using every best practice you’ve come across, but unless you know it’s best for your specific audience, then it might not be the practice you should be using. Testing lets you know what your audience best engages with.

Justin Bridegan, former Senior Marketing Manager, MECLABS, explained how testing revealed two segments of the MarketingSherpa email list prefer different email lengths. Read on to learn his other tips in the post, “Email Marketing: What I’ve learned from writing almost 1,000 emails for MarketingSherpa.”

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