Series Posts: Beyond

Tips for Writing High Conversion Email Subject Lines

Tips for Writing High Conversion Email Subject Lines

Beyond • July 2, 2015

The one thing that’s probably harder than writing high conversion email content, is writing high conversion email subject lines. Subject lines can be a little tricky, even for a veteran writer. Yet, unlike email content, which can vary based on what you’re trying to convey and to who, email subject lines are actually a lot easier to write. The perfect email subject line will factor in a three part equation that considers messaging, keywords and character count. Keeping it Concise Versus Keeping it Focused Though we do want to keep a short subject line, a short subject line is useless if it fails to convey your message. Richard Lindner of Digital Marketer says, “A shorter subject line will never overcome poor messaging.” Richard also talks about the “second” subject line, or the “preview.” He adds, “Don’t forget about the second subject line, or preview description. In most cases you have more characters and the ability to personalize or add more copy for your subscribers, telling them why they should open your mail. This is the most under-utilized and ignored portion of almost every email marketer’s assets.” The preview is the small bit of copy that offers a sneak preview into your content. Most email platforms allow you to customize that preview. Richard gives a great example of what that can look like. Use Keywords in Subject Lines People think in terms of keywords more now than they used to. Having one or two keywords in the subject line is a great way to quickly show value and relevance to your audience. However, keywords in subject lines offers another great benefit, and that’s the ability to search for your emails more easily. Most users hold onto emails, particularly in content heavy industries where emails act as a sort of information archive. For example, if I want to see what the email conversation was for the last five years on a certain subject, say for example “Summer,” then I can just search for that keyword and all the email marketing campaigns with the subject line “Summer” will pop up. Better yet, if a certain email marketing campaign has religiously been keyword-oriented, then their subject lines will offer quick points of reference to various summer campaigns, events, sales, initiatives and more. For example, I can run an email search for the keyword “Foreign students.” Of course, using a keyword in a subject line doesn’t need to be boring. You can still optimize that copy to make it more friendly, more casual, or creative in some other way; you just need to get that keyword in there once. So the next question is … exactly how long should your subject line be? Not Too Short, Not Too Long According to a Digital Marketer blog post on the ideal length of a post, email subject lines should be between 28-39 characters. Here’s why: “subject lines containing 28-39 characters get an open rate of 12.2% and click rate of 4% on average. You should also factor in that with most people being on mobile, shorter characters is even more critical. Lindner reminds us, “Mobile has WAY fewer characters. Focus on your message and you’ll get the open.”


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Tips for Writing High Conversion Email Content

Tips for Writing High Conversion Email Content

Beyond • July 1, 2015

Unless you’re a professional writer and a content strategist, you’ve probably come face to face with the dread of writing high-conversion emails for your email marketing campaigns. The first step is knowing how to approach your email subject line. Once you’ve mastered high conversion subject lines, the next step is learning how to write high conversion email content. Though how you approach content will depend on what you’re promoting and to whom, there are several time-tested practices that do not change no matter who your audience is. Writing for Mobile Most users will be reading your email content on their mobile device. In fact, an email infographic by Who is Hosting This, titled “How to Write Better Emails,” gives some tangible figures: 47% of email is opened on a mobile device. 30% of consumers read email exclusively on a mobile device. 68% of Yahoo and Gmail email is opened on a mobile device. For you, this means gearing email content for mobile. A good rule of thumb for mobile email content is to limit your verbiage to about 150 words. That rule stands even when users are downloading the email template and graphics. Your readers are going to want to know why they should further download the full email – and the 150 words is designed to make that sell quickly. According to Who is Hosting This’ infographic, there’s another reason you should keep email content short in light of the high mobile use: smaller screens affect readability. Keeping mobile in mind, you should also give readers the option of click on a link to fully view the email in their browser, which offers greater navigation and an email app would. It’s an Email, Not an Essay There are people who feel frustrated with emails because they don’t know what to say. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who say too much. Whether you’re writing an email or a newsletter campaign, the goal is to share enough content in the email and ultimately lead them to your website or landing page. You don’t want to give away everything in one email – and you certainly don’t want to write an essay or dissertation, which only causes even the most interested of people to have their eyes glaze over a bit. If you do feel the need to say a lot, then break up your content like you would web content, with targeted sub-headers that offer the value in each bite sized chunk of content. Focus on One Person in the Audience Those with a fear of public speaking are taught to focus on just one person in the audience to help overcome their stage fright. The same rule applies for email. Email content that’s geared like a conversation and written as if it just one person, is far more effective than a blanket statement. People are going to feel like you’re personally reaching out to them. Psychologically speaking, we respond more favorably if it seems like the email is just for us. And your ability to write purposeful and engaging emails can be found through using your natural voice. This means that when you’re emailing, get more granular in how you think about that content. That email is first and foremost coming from you; you’re not hiding behind some agency or corporation. The three tips here all revolve around the end reader. By writing for mobile, you’re considering how they’re receiving that information. By being concise, you’re being thoughtful to how many other distractions are on their plate. And finally, but writing personally, you’re approaching them in a more meaningful and direct way that highlights your value for them as an individual.


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Pogo with Vurtego on Indiegogo

Pogo with Vurtego on Indiegogo

Beyond • June 30, 2015

This isn\'t just an Indiegogo success story ... even though it most certainly is that. It\'s also a lifelong dream come true, fueled by the right pieces falling into place and a whole lot of fun. Ian Britt tell us how the desire to create the perfect pogo stick has gone from hobby to a career.


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Grow Your Business, eCommerce With The Benchmark Email Shopify Integration

Grow Your Business, eCommerce With The Benchmark Email Shopify Integration

Beyond • June 29, 2015

Every company has some sort of tech wiz or go-to computer person to handle all things computer-related … that is if the company is already established and can afford to have their own tech guy. When you are starting out your small business for the first time, you are forced to wear almost the hats: owner, designer, accountant, administration, sales, and yes, even the tech guy. Being the business owner, you already know the general design of how you want your online store to look, all the daily administrative tasks that are needed, all the marketing strategies that will showcase your products in an optimal way, and of course, the money that is coming in and out of your company. Dealing with the back-end of your online store is different story. It is already tough juggling all those other tasks, so who has time to learn how to build a website from scratch? Well those who utilize Shopify don’t have to. Shopify is a fully managed commerce platform that allows you to build an online business with ease. Its features include managing products, inventory, orders, discounts, customer service and more. It basically wears all the hats for you, including the tech hat that never really fit right in the first place. Take Johnny Cupcakes for example. Johnny Cupcakes is a clothing store founded in 2001 by Johnny Earle, and the store was running on a custom-built site, which had a tendency to crash due to the traffic coming from each product release. All the crashing halted once the company made the switch to Shopify. As executive Justin Hiltz stated, “We’ve switched to Shopify and now have zero issues with releases. It shows that a company of our size can release things every other week with giant influxes of traffic and all of it goes smoothly.” Sometimes, Shopify is used to expand an already established business and delivered its well-beloved products to the masses. Harris Farm Markets was founded in 1971 as a single specialty store in Sydney, Australia, and has since then grown to about 24 stores. Then in July 2013, Harris Farris launched their Shopify store in order to deliver their produce across the city. Angus Harris, the co-CEO of Harris, states, “ Our Shopify site is simple and easy for our customers to use. We offer the best customer experience in our category of the market….including one-hour delivery windows, same-day delivery of premium fruit and vegetables, and a satisfaction guaranteed.” Along with that, Harris also experienced a growth rate of 20% quarterly, with 85,000 unique visitors each month. So whether it’s for a new small business owner or an established company, Shopify fulfills all needs to run your business smoothly. Combine that with the power of email marketing-- using the Benchmark Email Shopify Integration--and your business will become unstoppable!


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Best Vlogging Techniques

Best Vlogging Techniques

Beyond • June 27, 2015

Editor\'s note: Today we have a post from video blogger, Renae Christine. She\'s here to provide you with some of the best blogging techniques. Enjoy!


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Top 10 Tips From YouTube Hosts

Top 10 Tips From YouTube Hosts

Beyond • June 26, 2015

This week we had former Big Brother contestant and current web series host of The Weather Channel\'s Brain Storm and his own Nickipedia … Nick Uhas! He offered some amazing advice on following the path presented to you and taking opportunities as they come. We decided to ask some of our other favorite YouTube hosts for their best tips and advice, as well as some things people might not know about doing what they do. Here are some of our favorites: @BenchmarkEmail It\'s all about having a platform where one can express his/her views and opinions with everyone and anyone! It\'s powerful :D — Shimon Das (@shimonips) June 23, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail be patient, create value, connect with your audience, don\'t chase numbers and have fun while growing & learning — Roberto Blake (@robertoblake) June 22, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail thank you! \"Be so good they can\'t ignore you\", never ever give up, stay humble, listen, treat fans like gold, & give back :) — Jenny Kelley (@MissJennyKelley) June 24, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail Deadlines are your best friend and your worst enemy (moreso your best friend) — Alex Hluch (@thealexhluch) June 24, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail Consistency and branding is really important from the start. Having quality equipment / software is a great plus too. — Shane - Shibby (@Shibby2142) June 24, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail I make a list of topics I\'m interested in, then I try to figure out how I would explain that to a fellow friend. — Samuel Molina (@FuKuy) June 23, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail I work, sleep & eat with a small notebook and jot down everything that inspires me. Eventually the ideas start to arrive. — Mark Montano (@MarkMontano) June 23, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail People who watch don\'t know how easy it is to become a YouTube creator. They think it\'s difficult but it\'s not — Ileane Smith (@Ileane) June 22, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail Thanks! Just be yourself, create your unique niche for your channel and engage with your viewers. :) — Austin Null (@thenivenulls) June 22, 2015 What hasn\'t been done, what\'s awesome, who\'s awesome, let\'s all be awesome together! Average is boring😉 #GOTEAM https://t.co/DlVFdRzNEZ — Nicole Arbour (@NicoleArbour) June 19, 2015 Finally, a bonus tip. OK OK … maybe this one was a little tongue in cheek. @BenchmarkEmail Always respond to Twitter @replies from companies or brands asking for advice. — Jeffrey Wisenbaugh (@KoolJeffrey) June 24, 2015 In case you missed this week\'s episode of the Heart of Business with Nick Uhas: Beginnings, Big Brother and Beyond.


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Sounds Good: Choosing The Right Mic For Your Video

Sounds Good: Choosing The Right Mic For Your Video

Beyond • June 26, 2015

  News Flash: Onboard cam mics should never be used. Every pro videographer worth their salt recommends against onboard mics, and you should listen to their advice unless you really don’t have any other option. Although you shouldn’t plug a microphone every time your cat jumps to catch a fly, you should definitely use a better one when recording marketing videos. One of the most critical question that faces all marketing video producers is which microphone should you choose? Some of the flaws of the built in microphone are: Omnidirectional is horrible - Almost all on-board microphones record sound coming every direction around the cam. Although this could be useful sometimes, it will really hurt your business or formal video when you record sound coming from all over the room, bouncing from all the walls. This leads to increase in unwanted sound noise. Mic should be closer than lens - The microphone should be placed close to the sound source (usually a person speaking). The built-in microphones have been primarily put for the person holding the camera to talk to (usually narrating), not to have the subject put far away from you. Because of the distance between the individual doing the speaking and the microphone, you end up with additional room noise. Just like your picture focuses on the subject, your audio should be focused on him too. Hi quality cam but low quality mic - Even though the microphones are improving every day, the on-board ones are still lacking in quality compared to a dedicated microphone. This is mostly noticeable on HDSLR cameras. The low quality microphone can distort your audio, resulting in voice that sounds unnatural and flat. These are the primary reasons you should buy a cam that has an external mic jack. This will still allow you to record both the audio and video on the same device. Not only will you have less work while recording, you will also get rid of the hassle of synchronizing them together later on. Now that you have decided that you need a microphone, how do you know what microphone should you buy? There are three basic types of microphones used for shooting videos: Shotgun Microphone – This microphone eliminates all the flaws of the on-board mic. It can be placed very close to the speaker but still stay out of frame. The audio quality it provides is excellent, even with the mid-range shotgun microphones. The microphone is extremely directional, making sure you focus the audio on precisely the sounds you want to record, instead of recording everything. Handheld Microphone – This is the standard stick that reporters or singers on stage hold. Its advantages come from being small, easy to use and fast. All that it takes you to record someone’s voice is to point it at them. Change of subject? Just point it somewhere else fast. They are also pretty inexpensive for what they offer. But the cons come with its presence. You cannot hide the microphone from the frame without taking a very weird angle and it usually has to stay directly in front of the speaker in order to capture the sound correctly. Lavalier Microphone – This is one of the most versatile microphones available. Also known as a lapel mic, a lav mic or a clip-on mic, it is usually attached to your shirt. Since most of them are wireless and require no holding, it allows you to walk around and do any kind of gestures you want. This comes at the cost of having a poor sound quality while still paying a lot for them. But they are still very useful and should be a part of every videographer’s microphone kit. With this info you’ll have an easier time making the decision of your microphone. Most video marketing producers might need all three of them. If you are a bit more specific, you might get away with one kind of a microphone and then rent others whenever you need them. You’ll find that every city has a decent rental outfit, and you’ll need them as great equipment is the first step to great videos.


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Maximize Your Marketing With the “YouTube Booster” Effect

Maximize Your Marketing With the “YouTube Booster” Effect

Beyond • June 26, 2015

YouTube has changed the online landscape and dominates the web, with more than 1 billion unique users each month. Over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and YouTube now reaches more US adults ages 18 – 34 than any cable network. Just to put that into perspective, if YouTube were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, just after China and India. With that kind of reach, YouTube represents an enormous opportunity for small business owners to get significantly more visibility and exposure. However, with billions of videos on the video channel, it’s very easy to get lost in the YouTube jungle. In fact, 53% of YouTube’s videos get less than 500 views, and about 30% have less than 100 views! Meanwhile, a miniscule 0.33% have over a million views. Granted, it’s not all about the numbers, but you do want your video to be seen by as many people as possible. More video views means more engagement, and more engagement means more potential customers! Fortunately, there are several little-known strategies to optimize your videos on YouTube to give you the “YouTube Booster” effect: Begin With the Basics – It all starts with the upload and your title, description and tags. Be sure to use a descriptive, keyword-rich title. “How to Get More Video Views on YouTube” is pretty good, but “My cool video” won’t cut it as a title. Next, your description should also contain your keywords and should include your full URL. So one of mine might start with http://www.loubortone.com presents how to get more video views on YouTube... YouTube gives you a ton of space for your video description, so take advantage of that real estate. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is a great example of how to crush it with the basics. They do a great job optimizing their videos. Lastly, use the tags section to once again use your keywords. Capitalize on Keywords – The importance of keywords cannot be emphasized enough. This is how people find your videos on Google and other search engines, so make sure you’re using your best keywords and consistent keyword phrases. This will also help to “connect” your videos so your other videos show up as related videos.   Add Awesome Annotations – Video annotations are a powerful, but under-utilized tool for making your videos more interactive and guiding your viewer to take the desired actions. Annotations can be text, overlays, speech-bubbles or notes, and can be live links to your other videos, playlists, a subscribe link, or even a link back to your main website. Nail Your Thumbnails – YouTube gives you a choice of three thumbnails to represent your video, but you can also add a custom thumbnail to better display what your video is about. Since the three thumbnails YouTube offers are typically pretty random and lame, you’d be crazy not to add a custom thumbnail, where you get to decide what the viewer sees. Create and upload your own thumbnail to take advantage of this option. Many potential viewers will decide whether or not to click on your video simply based on your thumbnail image! Show Up and Share – Finally, be sure to share and distribute your video for maximum reach. Look for the “share” button, which will open up a menu of social media icons and platforms where you can share your video directly from YouTube. You will have to “connect” your accounts first, but once that’s done, it’s easy to share your video to your social media sites with just one click! Taking the time to optimize your videos with these five steps will help you make the most of YouTube and put you way ahead of your competition. And who knows? With a little luck and persistence, you may even go viral!


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The Top 7 Marketing Video Production Tips

The Top 7 Marketing Video Production Tips

Beyond • June 25, 2015

Not all brands can afford an award-winning videographer to shoot their videos, so if you’re just starting out in the world of video marketing, follow these top seven tips for the best possible results! Avoid automatic settings - Get to know your DSLR or video cam and its settings and make sure they are exactly where they should be. Your primary focus should be ISO, aperture and shutter speed. ISO controls the brightness of the picture, meaning the higher it is, the brighter the picture. Unfortunately you do get more noise as you increase it, so your videos look grainy once you go very high. Setting it around 1600 ISO is good practice, but if the brightness is satisfying with lower ISO, don’t be afraid to change it. Shutter speed controls the amount of time the shutter is open, which translates into its exposure time. For optimum footage set this to 1/60th of a second and only adjust it when you know what it does to your videos. The aperture controls how much light enters through the lens, and you might end up experimenting with a more open or closed aperture for different situations, but generally speaking this setting should be left open all the way. Focusing - A very important thing when shooting videos is to have your subject completely focused with crisp details. Therefore it’s            not ideal to use automatic focus but instead to move the dials on your lens in order to get your subject in focus and perhaps everything else blurred. This does take some practice in order to be done correctly though and will take some testing… so get ready for trial and error time. Have great lighting - Having at least a semi pro camera will do nothing for you if the scene you’re filming at isn’t optimal. But this doesn’t mean that you have to go out and purchase even more additional equipment that you might not be able to afford. Natural sunlight is your friend and you should use it to your advantage as much as possible. If you need your own lighting, avoid orange lamps that offset the scene and the subject from their natural color. LED panels or lightboxes are the go to choice for an ideal setup. Lenses - Even though most of the DSLR cameras come with a lens kit that is ok for starters, you should go a step higher for a better outcome. Every bag should at least have a 50 mm 1.8 lens. It features a wide aperture that lets in a goodly amount of light, making it great for shooting in dark places. Also it has an excellent depth of field which allows you to focus easily, achieving the whited out background effect. Get a good microphone - Even though the DSLR cameras have their own built-in microphones, they’re nowhere near the audio quality you need as they are built exclusively for having some very basic way of recording audio with your camera and are almost always set up to capture sound from all around the cam which in most cases is precisely what you don’t want. If you are considering producing quality videos you should probably buy yourself a good quality microphone. (In my next article I\'ll get into far more detail on microphones for video production.) Write a decent script – Nothing is more frustrating than a script so badly conceived and written that your audience has no idea what’s going on in your video. Refrain from inside jokes and aim for the most horizontal appeal possible so that you don’t turn off your viewers… or they’ll turn you off! Get natural actors – A wag reviewing BBC/PBS’s remarkable Downton Abbey series recently opined that watching Maggie Smith in her scenes with Elizabeth McGovern was somewhat tantamount to having Anthony Hopkins act alongside a bored toddler. Your audience will swiftly grow disinterested if your actors are wooden and amateurish, so check local theatrical groups or other acting centers for the best talent you can afford.


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6 Things Your Video Guy Wishes You’d Know

6 Things Your Video Guy Wishes You’d Know

Beyond • June 25, 2015

In many ways, hiring a video editor is like hiring a cake baker. The baker has recipes that will give her specific results and the editor has skills and techniques that will also give specific results. A client selects a baker based on either recommendation/referral, quality of previous work, price, location, and customer service. This is the same for a video editor. A client will require the baker to create an end product that looks and tastes a certain way, and a client never expects to step into the baker’s kitchen to help stir the ingredients. The client provides their wish list and expects to come back for a finished product. This is also what a client should expect from a video editor. As long as there is clear communication at the beginning of the project about the client’s wish list, there should be no reason to go into the editor’s “kitchen” to mix the ingredients together. I sat down with LuckLove Productions, an OC videography team, to have an intimate chat about what they wished video clients knew before they began their reel project. Using the above creative analogy of a baker, lead videographer Eva Rovillos, jumps into 6 key points every project manager or point person should keep in mind, starting with: 1. Clean, steady footage is much appreciated. It is better to hire the same team for videography and editing because that team will capture the footage you actually need and will already know the footage available before editing begins. When you hire two different teams, the editing team will have to spend additional time reviewing all the footage. On another note, if the client is providing the footage, they should know that “garbage in leads to garbage out.” This is not to say that clients never provide good footage, but if there is a problem with it, the final edit may not be the best it could be. There is only so much that an editor can do with shaky footage or under/overexposed footage, or footage that is out of focus. 2. Sound is key. One of the most significant indicators of a great video is the quality of the sound. Interviews should be conducted in a “clean” sound space. If a clean sound space is not possible, then at least turn down that TV in the background, please! Depending on the type of video requested, the quality of the sound throughout the video, should be a big part of the initial discussion. 3. Know your narrative. It is important for the client to clearly communicate his/her goal regarding the end result. The editor needs to know what “flavor” the final product should have. There is a wide range of approaches (flavors) to each edit (chronological, chapters, instructional, entertaining, comedic, dark, high-energy, etc.) 4. Music rights. Clients should know that editors should not use music that they do not have permission to use. Are plenty of great stock music sites that provide original music you can purchase a license to use. 5. Plan revisions in advance. Please be clear at the beginning of the negotiations, when or if there will be revisions, or when the 1st rough draft is expected. A basic timeline with milestones will be helpful in completing the project. 6. Communication. As with any vendor, a client will receive a better product when they communicate their wishes clearly, especially in the beginning, before any editing is done. Brainstorm and collaborate with your video/editing team before the work is performed and this will create a good path for everyone to follow and the result will be a great edited work that the client will be satisfied with. Thanks to LuckLove Productions, you have your next check list for any future video projects. The measures to make sure everyone’s on the same page seem pretty simple enough; yet while chefs are appreciated masters of their domain, we tend not to extend the same respect to video production teams. In a lot of ways, people tend to treat them like they do any other visual artist – and that’s with very little understanding of the craft and not enough resources to make your vision come to life. That’s on a good day. On a bad day, there’s constant meddling with the process and far too much interjection with the direction of the project. That said, you wouldn’t go into the back kitchen to stir the pot and add your own seasonings, and then get upset when the dish didn’t turn out like you expected. In that same sense, you can’t dampen the process video professionals have spent years perfecting all the while still expecting high caliber results. The lesson here for the entrepreneur is to make sure there’s seamless communication (in writing), and project status updates along the way in order to prevent any classic project hiccups.


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