How to treat your own organization like a client.

The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.

This old idiom essentially means we neglect the things closest to us. As an agency, we know from experience that it’s hard to prioritize internal projects when it is our duty to provide a service to others. Despite it being a challenge, investing in your own development is essential to stay relevant, informed and ahead of your competitors.

How to prioritize your own projects.

You are busy. Everyone’s 9 to 5 is fully-loaded and there’s a long queue of to-dos. We’ve been there; we empathize. While it’s good for business to be busy, it makes it easy to sideline internal projects.

One way to navigate this is by committing time at the beginning of the year to focus on internal projects or employee education. By intentionally carving out a set amount of time that is non-negotiable, you can work time into your yearly plan for team development. Whether this manifests into quarterly company-wide meetings or department huddles, it’s already built into everyone’s calendar, so they won’t have to scrounge for time.   

Internal education

There are loads of evidence demonstrating that investment in training and education is smart business. Let your employees come to you with their requests for online classes, certification courses and conferences that set them up for success. Create parameters to support education initiatives for when employees inquire about furthering their skillsets. Companies also benefit from individuals who further their education when they bring back information that improves the team as a whole. When employees teach each other, it improves company-wide integration, and departments become more well rounded.

Focus on projects that have the most impact.

It’s easier to relegate time for little tasks and individual improvements. What about company-wide development and projects with large scopes of work that require a significant investment of time? These are the easiest of all to put on the back burner until resources free up (that’s code for never going to happen). Intentionality is the name of the game. Be sure that when you invest resources, you’re going to see a return on that investment

TJA’s most recent internal investment was developing a new website that embodies the values and capabilities of our team. Our company has grown and evolved over its 15 years, and the website is an essential first impression for potential business, employees and those looking for industry insight. Investing in our web presence pays dividends through lead captures and by acting as a resource for those seeking out agency information.

Get yourself some shoes.

There are consequences for neglecting to take care of your own operations, namely, becoming outdated. Be sure to consider the long-term benefits of updates and continued education. Of course, some projects are important to invest in but may not be in your organization’s wheelhouse to execute. Free up time by connecting with TJA for guidance and expertise on marketing, website development and more.

We’ll make you some sweet kicks

The James Agency’s Creative Wins Big with U.S. Travel Association

Ad agency’s ‘Split Decisions’ campaign for client Travel Costa Mesa wins two ESTO awards

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. (August 22, 2019) – A marketing campaign created by hospitality and tourism advertising agency, The James Agency (TJA), was awarded two Destiny Awards at the U.S. Travel Association’s ESTO conference in Austin, Texas this week. The annual awards ceremony recognizes excellence and creative accomplishment in destination marketing at the local and regional level.

TJA’s “Split Decisions” campaign was part of a total brand refresh for client, Travel Costa Mesa, a Southern California destination marketing organization (DMO). The campaign utilized a “two halves of a whole” design narrative that transformed stereotypical branding into an authentic realization of the fresh and urban experiences that Costa Mesa has to offer. Of the 16 Destiny Awards presented, Travel Costa Mesa won two: one for a branding campaign in the $500,000 – $1,000,000 marketing budget category and another for the People’s Choice Award.

The campaign included the creation of brand videos and the design of traditional and digital ads targeting a younger market of foodies and weekend travelers. Within a year of the campaign’s initiation, Travel Costa Mesa saw a 23 percent increase in engagement by its target age market and a 22 percent increase in leads to its hotel partners.

“TJA was tasked with captivating a younger age group – a generation that dreams of travel and curated experiences,” said Veronique James, CEO of The James Agency. “I’m proud of the amazing creative my team conjured up that captured the notion of limitless possibilities in Costa Mesa.”

TJA, an integrated advertising, public relations and digital marketing firm, lead the research, brand development, website redesign, email and content marketing for Travel Costa Mesa, which is located in the heart of Orange County.

“The Travel Costa Mesa team is thrilled to be recognized for our work in destination marketing this year for the unique and vibrant City of the Arts®,” said Kim Glen, Director of Marketing. “We’re grateful to the U.S. Travel Association and all those who voted for us, and big kudos to the creative talents of our partners at The James Agency, who were instrumental in developing this fun, integrated branding campaign.”

Founded in 2005 by James, TJA specializes in working with hospitality, restaurant, real estate and experiential brands. In addition to Travel Costa Mesa, TJA is the agency of record for the National Harbor Convention and Visitors Association on the East Coast.

A complete list of the Destiny Awards finalists and winners can be found online.

About The James Agency

An integrated agency specializing in consumer advertising, public relations and digital, The James Agency (TJA) custom fits a comprehensive, insights-driven marketing strategy for each client. Founded in 2005 by Veronique James, TJA represents travel, tourism, hospitality and lifestyle brands.

About Travel Costa Mesa

Located in the heart of Orange County in Southern California with a population of approximately 113,000, Travel Costa Mesa was established in 1995 with the primary goal of promoting tourism to the city and to fund programs and activities that benefit the hotel and motel businesses within the city of Costa Mesa. For more information on travel to the city of Costa Mesa, visit www.travelcostamesa.com  or follow @travelcostamesa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Travel Costa Mesa is a 501(c)(6).

Considerations for collaborations: How to make unique brands work together.

Marketing is a group activity.

However, branding is often created and deployed in a silo. There are some external considerations of course—industry trends, competitor sets, etc.—but beyond that, brand development is not a decision that necessarily needs to be “coordinated” with anything outside of the company. Even nested organizations or those under the same ownership tend to be visually independent of each other.

Right, so what’s the issue?

We are operating in a collaborative age: companies, influencers, popups and celebrities are mixing and mingling their brands. With all this crossover, it takes real work to keep all those logos, color palettes and keywords from turning into a puddle of melted crayons. When brands collaborate, talented designers—like the ones we’re fortunate to have here at TJA—are responsible for keeping aesthetics consistent but complementary, without muddling or diluting the impact of the organizations involved.

Join us as we share our top tips for keeping cooperative branding from becoming a mess.

Don’t just smoosh them together and hope for the best.

You have the logos for both organizations, so why not just paste them in the same area? You have pictures of both products, so why not just collage them together? No. Please don’t. Trust us; we know whereof we speak. You could probably get away with asset dumping, but that doesn’t mean you should. For the sake of brand (and visual) integrity, we encourage you to explore some of these alternative strategies before you Salt Bae logos and photos all over the place.

  • Cut to the core.
    A great place to start is with why these entities are collaborating in the first place. Did they come together to support a cause? Are they selling complementary products? By looking at the end goal, you’ll be able to create a narrative for the partnership as a whole.
  • Symmetry is your friend.
    Sometimes it’s impossible to work with perfectly coordinated colors, logos, assets, fonts and voice. Strive to find equivalent content, and then mirror it in layout. I.e. do you have two photos of people having fun? Two illustrations of buildings? Using subject material that’s as similar as possible can show how well the two brands go together.
  • Have the elements converse with each other.
    Try a call-and-respond methodology when you’re selecting which photos to use. If one has a couple at breakfast, pick another that has someone walking through a street during midday. End with a photo of a family at night. There’s a way to create a continuous theme throughout the piece even when you’re working with seemingly unrelated content.

Respect the integrity and individuality of each brand.

It’s a good idea to unify the palette and marry the messaging of the players involved to a certain extent. It becomes an issue if your audience isn’t able to tell that you’re portraying more than one brand if you took the names of the organizations involved out of the equation. Be sure to pay homage to what makes each brand unique.

  • Play up the contrast.
    There’s harmony in opposition; allow the brands to become foils for each other. It creates an interesting dynamic when the distinct traits of each brand play off each other. Execute this well, and the entities will appear more complimentary than ever.
  • Give the brands a platform.
    Even if brands are working toward a goal that is separate from self-promotion, the secondary goal of any collaboration for the brands involved is to expose themselves to a new audience that shares traits with current loyal fans. Always keep in mind what will pique the interest of the individuals who may not have encountered the organizations before, displaying what qualities align with the audience’s affinities.

Speaking from personal experience.

Mountain Shadows and Hotel Valley Ho—two of our long-held clients—run an annual, cooperative 3-Day Sale in the springtime. While both properties have histories that begin in the midcentury, they have unique brands, looks, voices and personalities. Both hotels appear together on the collateral, billboards, emails, social posts and more during the lead-up and duration of the 3-Day Sale.

In previous years, the 3-Day Sale was hosted simultaneously but separately: each hotel used its own branding and promoted the sale through their specific channels. This year, the hospitality concepts came together to maximize exposure and broadcast the event to a broader audience than ever.

The properties are distinct, but the creative team utilized the similarities the hotels share to create symmetry for visuals and narrative. We also pulled out and highlighted the differences, which allowed each concept to shine where they specialize. For example, Hotel Valley Ho has a lighter, brighter, mid-century-mod vibe, whereas Mountain Shadows has an elevated, secluded, contemporary aesthetic. By choosing colors from the brand standards that are complementary, photography that created the narrative we knew would be appealing to both audiences and crafting copy that conveyed the urgency of the sale, the collateral came together and made the brands look like they always belonged together. 

Three things a luxury brand isn’t (and one thing it always should be).

What we talk about when we talk about luxury.

Luxury brand marketing is a vague concept when you stop to think about it. What does “luxury” even mean? How do you encapsulate it visually? More importantly, in this age of omnichannel branding, how do you convey the value of luxury through a digital experience?

When Bradley Wealth Management, a high-end boutique financial services firm, reached out to The James Agency to refine their brand’s visual and online identity, we took the time to evaluate what constituted a luxury brand experience, and more importantly, what did not.

You’re better off without:

Excess

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is a principle to live by when it comes to luxury branding. White space is your savior, an economy of language keeps your core message clear and high-impact visuals convey the essence of your brand without the need for extra fluff.

Bradley Wealth Management’s original site was overwhelmed with content. Without a clear hierarchy of information, visitors had a hard time engaging with the website. One of the primary goals of the brand refresh was to create an online journey that conveyed the most important details right away in an easy-to-read and elegant manner.

Vagueness

Get specific. Dedicate time to understanding what the most critical elements of your brand are: if you had to boil your company down to five pillars, what would they be? Could they stand on their own? As tempting as it might be to lay out every detail of your organization’s operations on the homepage, highlighting a few crucial elements will perform measurably better than speaking generally about everything.

Bradley Wealth Management made it clear that their priority for the website was to offer the same quality of personalization as they do during their one-on-one consultations. Through goal-based planning, Bradley Wealth differentiates itself by encouraging the life aspirations of their clients. We translated those traits into an engaging web experience with messaging that focuses on the in-depth relationships their team cultivates amongst all their clients.

Inconsistency

“A brand is only as good as its execution across mediums.” Is that an adage? If not, it should be. Make sure you’re providing consistent touchpoints across all platforms so that no matter where potential clients pop up first, they’ll be sure to get an accurate impression.

We were tasked to create the graphic standards and web experience that became the paradigm for all iterations of the Bradley Wealth brand. By developing a clean, bold personality that could be replicated across multiple applications, we created a foundational aesthetic that would gain rapport with their user base.

However, don’t leave home without this:

Flow

A conversion website is essential to keep the user journey as fluid as possible. Eliminate all points of resistance or friction; get to the point and then get to the call to action. Every aspect of the experience should be relevant, and shouldn’t land the user in a dead end. By interlinking webpages and referencing different parts of the brand experience, you’re encouraging your consumer to self-direct through the journey you built for them.

For the web experience, we worked with Bradley Wealth Management to develop a clearly-defined sitemap that would seamlessly lead users from one page to the next, filling them in on all the need-to-know information without winding up stuck. Every page features a call to action that prompts the users toward signing up for the customized planning offered by their financial services team. 

The more you know.

Luxury isn’t just in the looks, but looks matter; it’s not only in the sitemap, but content organization counts. There are various definitions of what comprises a truly high-end experience, but perhaps more important is understanding what to steer clear of in order to retain the respect of your consumers, both past and potential.

Adapt or die

It’s the most basic tenet of evolution, but a hard pill to swallow. There can be a lot of attachment surrounding a tried and trusted brand strategy. However, a hard conversation needs to be had when the needle isn’t moving forward anymore.

Maybe the current brand makes the company look dated. It may not reflect the flow of the industry. It might not match the ethics of the organization. And that’s when the “R” word gets dropped into the discussion.

Rebrand.

Rebranding conjures up violent images of throwing a baby out with the bathwater. That’s not the intention—nor the basis—of a successful refresh. The main reason for a rebrand is to realign with the original values and ideals of your company and see if it has kept pace with the times, both in terms of aesthetics and operation.

Redesign the wheel. Don’t reinvent it.

What worked? There’s something resonating with your audience, otherwise, your organization wouldn’t exist. Dig deep, find the core of what your brand is doing well. Ask your team questions about the identity of your company so everyone is on the same page moving forward. Some of the answers might be challenging and hard to hear. That’s okay: rebranding is not always a comfortable process. What’s important is that it works in favor of your company’s long term goals. Here are a few thought-provoking questions to get you started:

  • What do we think people say about our brand when we’re not in the room?
  • Are we solving the same problem for our customers that we were when we started this company?
  • What organization is doing what we do better than we do it? What do we have that they don’t?

All hands on deck.

There’s more to rebranding than sketching up a new logo and calling it a day. It’s a multifaceted process requiring many different approaches. To show what it takes to successfully pull one off, The TJA team discusses how each department contributes to making a rebrand that flies instead of flops.

Creative: Important considerations include what the ultimate goal of the rebrand is. Are you trying to put life into a tired brand, or is the company shifting its focus, or expanding or narrowing their services? Always pay attention to the equity of the existing brand and the perception that it holds—Do you want to keep that, leverage it or erase that from the conversation?—Darren Simoes, Art Director 

Organic + Paid Social: Organic social can provide the perfect way to roll out the rebrand by updating your profile images, cover photos and posts on feeds and in stories that tease, boast and boost the new brand. Paid social, with other paid media, offers an even larger reach with the ability to customize your target audience to those who have remained loyal to your brand through specific website behaviors, engagement on your page and past interactions with your brand, as well as reaching new audiences you’re wanting to bring into the loop. —Jamie Schelling , Social Media Manager

Public Relations: Our job in public relations is to give your rebrand the announcement it deserves. How that announcement looks varies client-to-client, and it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. From newsletter teasers to grand reveal parties, your company’s rebrand will depend on the ones who matter most: your customers. As marketing professionals, we understand your customers, and as communications professionals, we understand how to deliver your message to them. Bottom line: PR is the cherry on top of a rebrand sundae. —Keller Perry, Public Relations Account Manager

Promises made, promises kept.

Rebranding, at its core, is about keeping promises. Your business is offering consumers something that makes them feel like they’re a part of something bigger, better, prettier. With an outdated approach, it’s harder to deliver on your commitment to move your customer closer to their best self.

A successful rebrand needs to resonate with organizational goals, have a positive impact on public response and enhance the product or service. It needs to be in alignment with the goals consumers have when they reach for your product or service. It also can’t fly under the radar. A huge part of a successful rebrand is awareness. PR and media involvement play a massive role in allowing your business to strike while the iron’s hot, and garner a positive public perception of your company’s transition.

If the alchemy of all those elements is there, you’re well-positioned for a successful refresh. 

TJA has had the privilege of directing the rebrands in multiple industries, including real estate, food + beverage, travel + tourism and more. If you’re looking for some inspiration for where to start with yours, check out some of our work.

Success stories

Facebook Ad Industry Benchmarks: Where You Need to Be

DISCLAIMER: It’s about to get technical up in here.

Whether you’re managing paid social in-house or through an agency, industry benchmarks are likely on your radar when analyzing your media performance. The beauty of Facebook advertising is its ability to not only target specific audiences based on their interests, behaviors, demographics and website actions (slightly creepy), but the various optimization goals available to advertisers as well. With so many variables available for your paid social strategy, it can get a little difficult to measure your success against other competitors in the advertising space.

One of your competitors may have a larger emphasis on secondary services due to the already-high demand of their more elite services on other platforms/outlets. Their KPIs will naturally look differently than yours and may not be a fair comparison. Luckily, marketing researchers have gathered average benchmarks for eighteen different industries for us!

From Education, Travel & Hospitality, to Retail and Technology – if you find yourself in one of these eighteen industries surveyed, keep scrolling to see how you stack up against the competition.

Average click-through rate

The average CTR for all industries is about 0.90%, with Legal and Retail pulling in the top two averages and Employment & Job Training and Finance & Insurance coming in at the lowest. Maybe people in legal trouble need a little retail therapy.

These CTR’s are looking at ALL clicks (link clicks, lead fills, app downloads and all media engagements such as post reactions, shares, comments and clicks to expand post/picture).

IMAGE SOURCE: Wordstream

Average cost per click (all)

The average CPC for all industries is $1.72, with Customer Service and Finance & Insurance coming in with the most expensive CPC. Apparel and Travel & Hospitality average the lowest CPC across all industries at under $1.00. Is this a sign to go buy some new clothes and take a trip? Looks like it’s written in the stars…oops, I mean bars.

As with the CTR, the averaged CPCs are looking at ALL clicks (link clicks, lead fills, app downloads etc.)

IMAGE SOURCE: Wordstream

Average conversion rate

The average conversion rate for all industries is 9.21%, with Fitness and Education holding the top spot and Industrial Services and Technology coming in with the lowest. Clearly, Education is out-smarting most industries while Fitness is flexin’ on all the rest.

These conversions are measured based on goals that the advertisers set like sales, providing contact info, submitting a form or placing a call.

IMAGE SOURCE: Wordstream

Average cost per action

The average CPA for all industries is $18.68, with Technology and Home Improvement pulling in the highest cost per action – and once again Fitness and Education averaging the lowest. If only the cost of education was a low as its CPA on Facebook ads.

These CPAs are based on the action metric defined within Facebook, which is typically conversions, but also includes engagements such as lead submissions and app downloads.

IMAGE SOURCE: Wordstream

How do you stack up against the competition?

All jokes aside, whether you’re the lowest on the benchmark totem poll or top dog, there are several ways to help maintain or improve your paid social performance. One way is making sure you’re utilizing the right reporting metrics to help optimize your campaigns based on the data you’re seeing. In fact, Facebook has recently made some additions to their metrics that can help advertisers track the metrics listed in this blog.

Throughout March and April, Facebook will be slowly rolling out these new updates. By the end of April 30th, Facebook will be removing its ‘Ad Relevance Score’ and replacing it with three new relevancy metrics: Quality Ranking, Engagement Rate Ranking and Conversion Rate Ranking. The three rankings will be measured base on the following information:

  • Quality Ranking: this will measure an ad’s perceived quality/expected engagement rate compared to other ads competing for the same target audience.
  • Engagement Ranking: this will measure an ad’s expectant engagement rate compared to other ads promoting to the same target audience.
  • Conversion Rate Ranking: this will measure an ad’s expected conversion rates compared to ads with the same optimization goals and target audience.

Lucky for us advertisers we now have several resources to report back on for our bosses or clients. This allows us to make campaign decisions that are backed by real data. By using these benchmarks and data-driven results to guide strategy, we’re in perfect shape to create a lean, mean, paid-social machine.

RESOURCES:

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/02/28/facebook-advertising-benchmarks

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1695754927158071?ref=FBB_MetricsUpdates

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebooks-phasing-out-its-ad-relevance-score-removing-six-ad-metrics/550343/

How to Create the Perfect Instagram Bio for Your Business

Few businesses realize the impact their Instagram bio has. But after recent Instagram updates, what you put in your about section could affect who finds you on the social networking platform. Last month, Instagram announced that users would now be able to add hashtags and cross tag other pages in their bio. For some, this might not seem like a huge change for a platform that is constantly evolving; however, the small change now gives businesses and influencers the opportunity to expand their reach. But, with limited character space, crafting the perfect Instagram about section can be harder than you may think. We deconstructed the perfect one and shared how you can achieve it with the newest updates.

What Your Bio Should Be:

  • Clear representation of your business
  • Show off your brand’s personality
  • Give people a way to contact you
  • Provide an actionable CTA

What Your Bio Shouldn’t Be:

  • All fluff, no substance
  • Misrepresentation of your brand
  • Confusing

When you go to start writing your bio, keep these three things in mind.

Keep it Relevant

150 characters is not a lot of real estate when it comes to describing your business. You have to be clear, concise and relevant to what your business is. Working in hashtags to your company’s bio can now take your reach and engagement to a whole new level; however, it is important to remember that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Be strategic with the hashtags you use, and above all, always tie it back to your business or industry. When writing your overview, share what makes your company unique while still targeting the market you are in.

Stick to Your Brand

While this may sound self explanatory, staying on brand is key. You want to take use 150 characters to create a page that people are compelled to follow and engage with. Don’t use emojis and hashtags just to have them. Make sure there is a purpose behind them and that they still tie back to what people will see on your website and other social platforms.

Be Creative

A bio should be simple enough to showcase your brand accurately, but still include personality that gives users a reason to follow your page. Experiment with relevant hashtags and emojis that illustrate what you are all about. Incorporating some creativity can set you apart from your competitors. Think of it like speed dating. You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention and make them want to stay in touch.

Now, it’s time to create that standout bio! We reference the following checklist when creating bios for our clients:

    • Name/ business name
    • What you do (make this searchable)
    • Website
    • Contact email
    • Branded hashtag

Regardless of how long you’ve been in the Instagram game, your bio is one thing that is not going anywhere. Modifying and reworking your profile to enhance your presence on social media can organically increase your reach and following. Need help kickstarting your social media strategy? Drop us a note at info@thejamesagency.com.

How to Write the Perfect Subject Line

Email.

It takes up so much real estate in our professional lives. There are even podcasts dedicated to it, teaching us how to wrangle it, tame it, understand it. As a marketing agency, we’re both senders and receivers of a massive amount of email—personal and promotional. We have developed a nose for what makes an email good and what makes one…well, stink.

Today, we’re focusing on the most crucial part of the entire email: The Subject Line.

Let’s begin with in-agency one-word associations:

“I say subject line, you say what?”

Creative Director: “Meaning.”
Senior Copywriter: “Inspiring.”
Junior Interactive Copywriter: “Difficult.”
Junior Web Developer: “Pivotal.”
Director of Web Strategy: “Catchy.”
Art Director: “Catchy.”

Subject lines are tricky S.O.Bs.

We’re all searching for a “Best Practice” that will increase all measurable signs that our emails are a hit, something that will get open rates up 50%, conversion rates up 40% and profits up 30%.

But what happens when there seems to be no playbook with a winning streak?

Director of Web Strategy: “One brand we worked with threw all convention and acceptable practice out the window. All they put in their subject line was the name of the recipient. I received this ominous email with just my name. I opened it and apparently much of their listerv did, too. The open rates haven’t been seen before or since. It was such an anomaly.”

(Stay tuned for why this was actually a bad strategy.)

Before you get frustrated and quit your day job as a semi-professional email crafter to pursue your daydream of being a quasi-professional kayaker, rest assured that beyond these anomalies there are guidelines that generate reliable (not the sexiest of buzzwords, we know) results for emails.

1. The subject line matters most, so spend more than a minute on it.

You’ve poured your heart and soul into this email. Never has there been such witty, informative, life-changing content. You kiss your computer screen. You pat yourself on the back. You release your creation into the world with a two-cent subject line.

“The work will speak for itself,” you’re sure.

A few days later, you check the open rates.

They’re abysmal.

This lesson is hard learned, so take it from us: your effort is worth bupkis if the subject line is not motivating someone to click on it. That’s a phenomenal email down the drain.

It may seem unjustifiable to spend as much time on one sentence (or sentence fragment, or single word), as you do on some paragraphs, but first impressions matter. A lot.

2. Click bait is quickly becoming click turn-offs.

It may rile you (or tempt you) when you see companies getting higher open rates with nothing but emojis, OR ALL CAPS, or ominous one-word subject lines (like just the recipient’s name).

Here’s why that strategy was penny-smart and dollar-stupid: you want to foster a history of healthy communication with your customer base. Trying to get them to open an email by being sly is going to hurt your brand’s reputation. No one is going to support an organization if they feel it is trying to sneak in through the back door.

Besides, the majority of internet users are savvy enough to see through someone trying to get opens with gimmicks. Often, they will intentionally refuse to indulge that.

Remember: an association with integrity never hurt anyone. Respect the intelligence of your consumers and they’ll respect you. Failing to do so will damage trust, increase unsubscribe rates and get bad word-of-mouth flowing. And really, if you need to trick your customers into looking at what you have to offer, there may be a larger issue at hand.

3. Keep it relevant.

TJAers have an endless list for why they don’t open some emails. But when asked what makes them open one, there’s a resounding answer: Relevancy.  People want to spend time doing and consuming things that directly benefit them.

The easiest thing in the world for a business to do is write about themselves. The smartest thing a business can do is write to improve the lives of those who are reading. Advice, references, anecdotes, lessons and resources that are written in a way that speaks directly to the needs of your readers will deliver results.

The subject line needs to demonstrate that direct benefit. It needs to answer the “Why should I read this?” question before it’s been asked.

The best subject lines are yet to come.

You are now armed and ready to reenter the highly competitive world of subject lines. Make sure all the work you put into the actual content is justified by getting it opened. Respect your readers by giving their intelligence more credit than your competitors and they’ll return the favor. Lastly, stay humble: it’s not all about you. Your customers are the reason you thrive, so cater to them and their needs while demonstrating why you continue to serve them best.

Now, go get read. 

How to Get More Instagram Engagement

Let’s be real; out of all the social media platforms out there, Instagram is by far the most visual and appealing to a lot of us marketers. But, after it was purchased by Facebook, many have noticed small shifts in how content is consumed and engaged with. Instagram has approximately 800 million active users, which means there is A LOT of potential engagement waiting for you. Our social media manager, Rin, is sharing her top tips on how to get more Instagram engagement.

The Anatomy of a Great Post

While quality content is crucial to have an engaging following, it isn’t the only thing that matters. There is a science to creating the perfect Instagram post. We use the following formula when drafting Instagram content.

  • Eye-catching photo or video
  • Location, location, location
  • Captivating caption (and leave it be for up to 24 hours)
  • Industry-relevant hashtags (more on that later)

Hashtags: Free Advertising

How do hashtags actually work? That, by far, is the number one question we are asked when it comes to social media. The answer is, when used correctly, hashtags play a large role in broadening your reach and ultimately increasing your organic engagement on Instagram. Unlike its sister platform, Facebook, Instagram allows users to follow and search hashtags based on interests. This means that people can to find and engage with brands they normally wouldn’t know about based on a similar interest.

A few pro tips:

  1. Use popular hashtags for your industry and brand. We like to use All Hashtag when doing our initial search for hashtags. You can enter a keyword (i.e. #socialmedia) and it will generate the top 30 hashtags based on your search.
  2. Include hashtags in your post caption, not in the comments section
  3. Use no more than 30 hashtags; however, 10-15 quality ones will do the trick

Comments Matter

We all know the goal of any post is to have people like it and comment on it. It means we are doing something right. But, what if I told you that the comments hold a greater weight then you initially thought? First, the number of words in a comment add up. In fact, a comment isn’t considered engagement unless there are at least four words. That means, you better be posting some pretty relevant and captivating content for your audience.

Once you get that notification you’ve received a comment (yay, you!), the next step is to show some gratitude. You’d be surprised how many brands don’t respond to comments, but you are actually doing yourself a disservice if you don’t. For ultimate exposure, always reply to comments within the first 60 minutes of them being shared (and don’t forget that four word rule). Every time there is a comment, conversation and engagement happening with your post, the happier the Instagram algorithm will be.

Engage With Your Audience

Sometimes, creating the perfect Instagram post is not enough. You could spend an hour crafting that perfect caption, but it means nothing if no one sees it. That is why you must always have an engagement strategy in place if you are on Instagram. Follow brands, influencers and users that align with your marketing objectives. Then, make it a point to interact with those people on a daily basis. Comment on a post or “like” another user’s comment. This helps expand your reach and gets eyes on your Instagram handle.

Another way to do this is to follow hashtags relevant to your industry or brand. Once you follow them, popular posts from those hashtags will appear in your home feed. This allows you to see them more easily and engage with them in “real time.” Trust us, this is a relatively simple and effective way to increase your following and reach.

Whether you are drafting your first Instagram post or looking for some traction on your current posting strategy. These Instagram hacks are sure to increase your organic engagement instantly. Have specific questions you want answered? Tweet us @thejamesagency and our social guru, Rin, will answer them!

Google Introduces AMP for Email

This month, Google announced a revolutionary step forward in email marketing. They are bringing their Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) to email. With the announcement, they released AMP for email examples created by several of their preferred partners and general documentation. There are still many questions on this new form of email, but we have gathered information on what is known and what we would like to know before this new type of email is rolled out later this year.

What is AMP for Email?

Google launched AMP in 2015 to improve the mobile web experience. Basically, it is a simplified lightweight webpage that loads quickly on mobile devices. AMP for email brings the lightweight interactive AMP code to Google’s Gmail platform.

Google’s Goals

Google released the video above on AMP for email explaining its uses and their goals to modernize email. The main takeaways are Google is trying to reduce friction for simple tasks by allowing the user to RSVP, fill out a form or browse a gallery without needing to click to a landing page. They created AMP for email open-spec with the hope others will integrate it into their platforms to push the “email ecosystem” forward.

How Can Marketers Use it?

The AMP for email documentation has the code sectioned into three main sections. Those sections are media, presentation and dynamic content.

The dynamic content is what Google focused on during the announcement, showing how people can fill out a form or answer a question directly in an email.

Examples

Doodle created a stunning example of how users can answer a survey directly in one of their emails. Getting users to take surveys can be a tricky task. Allowing them to quickly respond in an email may lead to more participation.

Booking.com created an email showing off the new website carousels, allowing a hotel to show off multiple images without increasing the length of the email.

Drawbacks

To utilize AMP, marketers will now need to design and code three versions of an email. This includes AMP code for Gmail users, HTML for the majority of other email users and plain text. This is an extra step that will take time to execute and may not be cost-effective for smaller email lists. Current email statistics show that currently 26% of emails(1) are opened in Gmail or the Gmail app. For a list of 1,000, only 260 recipients would have the possibility of seeing the AMP version.

Practical Ecommerce reviewed the different transactional uses of AMP for email and pointed out a potential flaw. “If recipients do not realize the email will be dynamically updated, they could delete it and thus miss subsequent vital information.” We currently have no way of tracking when or if a customer deletes an email. If they delete, “AMP-delivered transactional emails, such as order confirmations and shipping statuses, presume that the recipient does not delete the original version.” (2)

Our Burning Questions

Email marketing enhancements have been moving at a much slower pace than other fields. Only recently has more user-focused interactions, such as rollovers and animations started being integrated into the majority of email platforms. This new proposed code is a huge step for email marketing. We have several questions about how it works and what this means for the future. As more information is released, we will update this post with answers received.

  1. What email clients support AMP now? Who is working on integrating it?
    Currently, we know it will be released in Gmail later in 2018. No others have committed to adding it to their platform at this time.
  2. Does this cause any legal issues? Email is currently used as a record in legal cases. AMP for Email can be dynamic and content changed after a person has received and read the email. AMP for email is designed for marketing and transactional emails, not personal, but this could still be an issue.
  3. How are interactions tracked? Currently, marketers are able to track clicks and interactions through different sending software. Will AMP for email allow more elaborate tracking?

Community Reaction

Overall there has a been a split reaction to this announcement. Some of the most vocal feedback providers have been very negative. TechCrunch has concerns about changing the fundamentals of email. “Email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things.” Others are concerned this is a step by Google to try and take over email by forcing others to utilize their code. (3)

TJA’s Take

We are excited to see AMP for email in action. We feel there will be many uses for it in the coming years. Once the community has had a chance to really work with it, many great user experiences will be created. User experience design is all about reducing the friction and making a task as easy as possible for the user. Eliminating the need for a landing page for simple tasks will allow for a better customer interaction. Customers that have a great experience are more likely to interact with the brand again and become a brand advocate, recommending your business to their friends and family.

However, if other platforms do not pick up AMP for email, we will be selective on what emails and clients we recommend it for. Since only Gmail users will see this new code, the ROI on coding a separate email just for Gmail may not be cost effective for most cases. Outlook has committed to improving the email experience by partnering with Litmus and the email community, but they may not be willing to work with Google on this.

Marketers will also need to be smart on when it is important to send the user to their website. While reducing friction is important. Sending them to your website is also important for some companies.

Let us know what you think about the update or ask how this could apply to you in the comments.

Sources
1. http://emailclientmarketshare.com/
2. https://www.practicalecommerce.com/does-amp-for-email-impact-ecommerce
3. https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/13/amp-for-email-is-a-terrible-idea/
4. https://www.blog.google/products/g-suite/bringing-power-amp-gmail/

©2020 The James Agency. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy