Email Marketing

How to write a subject line that gets clicks

The world of email marketing is remarkably noisy. According to research conducted by The Radicati Group, a Technology Market Research Firm, 235.6 billion emails are sent and received worldwide every single day, and that number is only set to increase. 

For you as a marketer, that means there’s an endless stream of emails - both business and personal - to compete with, making the appeal of your subject lines crucial to getting an open. 

If you’re struggling to see the click through rate your campaigns need to succeed, we’ve got a bank of ideas to help give them a boost. 

How to write a subject line that gets clicks | Hue & Tone Creative

1. Short and snappy for the win

Short and snappy is usually the name of the game when it comes to digital communication, and email marketing is no exception. You’ll want to use as few words as possible, while still communicating a cohesive idea or call to action. You’ve only got a finite amount of time to capture people’s attention and if your subject line is too long it’ll truncate. If you’re struggling to know when to stop, aim to keep it within 50 characters.


2. Make it personal

Include personal information -- like the recipient’s name or location -- in the subject line makes it feel unique and tailored to the recipient. It’s important to only do this if you’re certain your data is accurate -- if you refer to ‘John’ as ‘Mark’ in your subject line, there’s only one place your email is going: the trash.


3. Use simple language

People don’t tend to read carefully when they’re scanning their inbox. So, don’t make it difficult for them to skim and easily  understand the subject line. Use simple language that’s easy to understand and gives a clear indication as to what’s inside.


4. Make it actionable

The reason you’re sending an email in the first place is because you have a desired end goal in mind, so incorporate that goal into your leading line. For example, if the email’s promoting a special offer, instead of saying ‘Boots are now 20% off’, you should say ‘Flash Sale: Get 20% off boots today!’ 

Use active and action-oriented language to encourage clicks and promote a sense of urgency. 


5. Create a sense of urgency

If people think something’s about to expire or run out, they’re much more likely to act sooner rather than later. Adding something as simple as ‘ends soon,’ ‘act now,’ or ‘hurry’ to your subject line can help communicate this message.

That being said, it’s important not to overuse this tactic. If you make every email sound like an emergency, it’ll quickly lose its novelty and recipients will stop taking action. 


6. Use numbers

Numbers can help spark intrigue and are great for promoting things like listicles, events, statistics, or blog posts. For example:

  • 8 ways you can save money this summer

  • Join our 2,000 happy clients

  • 200 others are coming to our event – don’t miss out! 

 The use of numbers helps make your subject line stand out, set expectations, and get straight to the point.


7. Ask a question

Questions draw people in, stimulate interest, and get people curious about what you have to say. For example, if your email exists to promote an article on ‘7 common subject line mistakes’, you could send it with subject line questions like: 

  • Are you making these subject line mistakes?

  • How successful are your emails?

  • Do you know where your subject lines are going wrong?

8. Dare to be different

If you don’t want to get lost in a sea of sameness, don’t fall into the trap of being the same. Be bold with your subject lines and don’t be afraid of injecting a bit of humor, sarcasm, or strangeness into them. 

Hue & Tone Creative: Email Marketing for the Triad

These eight tips are just the tip of the iceberg! We’ll get email marketing off your to do list and give you the hands on help you need for a successful conversion rate. Let’s chat about it: 336-365-8559 or

How to maximize your Black Friday marketing efforts

Black Friday officially marks the start to the holiday shopping season. It’s the kick off to what has turned into a four-day shopping frenzy – and whether you’re looking to capture Black Friday shoppers or Cyber Monday sales, you’ll have tons of consumers who are ready to jump on limited-time only deals. 

While this means the competition out there will be tough, it also means you’ve got a load of hungry consumers to target. If you’re gearing up to get in on the Black Friday or Cyber Monday action, here are five tips to help you make the most of your marketing.

How to maximize your Black Friday marketing efforts  |  Hue & Tone Creative

 1. Start it early

Don’t wait until the night before to advertise your Black Friday bargains. We’d recommend warming your audience up a week or two in advance so they: 

  • Know to come straight to you once your sale starts

  • Can start scouting out what items they might put in their basket

  • Can spread the word on your behalf


2. Be clear

People aren’t mind readers, so make it super easy for them to find out when your sale starts/ends, what the discounts will be, and which products or services they’ll apply to.

Drumming your Black Friday bonanza up to be something bigger and better than it is is a risky game to play. You run the risk of not only annoying customers on the day of, but also losing their long-term interest as well. 


3. Check your capacity 

If you’re lucky, your server will see a steep spike in traffic on and around Black Friday as consumers hunt through your site for the best deal. Make sure your systems can handle the increase in volume with ease - the last thing you want is your site or app crashing during peak buying times.


4. Take a targeted approach

Instead of sending out blanket marketing campaigns and hoping for the best, take the time to create a more tailored approach by digging into people’s behavior and targeting them based on past habits. 

Target people who have recently abandoned carts full of items that are now going on sale. It takes more time to set up, but if done right the results will be worth it. 


5. Make sure you standout 

Whatever medium you’re using - email, social media, direct mail, or otherwise, there’s a lot of competition out there. But it’s not only your competitors you’re competing against. 

You need to make sure your marketing collateral stands out from the stuff you typically send out so that recipients sit up, pay attention, and immediately click through to your website. Find the balance between an eye-catching Black Friday ad and your usual brand. It’s a great time to push the boundaries of your every day branding – just don’t lose your brand completely. 

Your Holiday Marketing Partner

Not sure where to start? Not a problem. Whether it’s support with your landing pages, social media strategy or email campaign, we’ve got you covered. For last minute Black Friday support, reach out to us at 336-365-8559 or

The essentials: must have marketing assets for new businesses

Get your new business of to the best start possible with the right marketing materials! 

Get your new business of to the best start possible with the right marketing materials! 

So, you’ve decided to start a business. You know you need the basics like a logo and business cards – but what other marketing assets should you make a priority?

Marketing materials can encompass everything from websites and letterheads to social media graphics and promotional videos. If you’re just starting out in the small business world, chances are your budget is probably a little tight – but skimping when you start up can mean unnecessary spending down the road.

Think about it: you pick the first business name you think up and print up a bunch of business cards, letterheads, and pens. A few weeks later, you’re hearing from your customers that they can’t remember your business name. Now you’ve confused people, still have to pay for proper branding, and you’ve got to pay to reprint materials you could have gotten right from the start. 

The good news is that we’re here to tell you what you need it, why you need it, when you need it, and how you get it. We hope this run down of essential marketing materials helps empower you when you’re hiring a graphic designer or marketing agency.

Here’s what you need to successfully get your business off the ground:

1. Brand Values

Because no physical products come out of this stage of the branding process, it’s often rushed or disregarded – but this is one of the most important stages, and it will influence everything you do from here on out. Your brand values are the set of principles that will dictate every aspect of your business, including the look, messaging, and customer service approach.

Here’s what you’ll want to define:

  • Values: what does your business stand for?
  • Objectives: where do you want to be in 1, 5, or 10 year’s time?
  • Customer personas: who are your talking to and what do they care about?
  • Tone of voice: how will you talk to your customers? And why?
  • Proposition: what will you do for your customers? And how will you benefit them?
  • Tagline/mission statement: how can your brand’s essence be summed up into as few words as possible?

Taking the time to properly develop your brand values will allow you to properly train your workforce and will help you communicate your brand to third parties. We suggest asking your marketing team for a brand book or set of written guidelines that you could hand off to an outside team.

The essentials: Must have marketing assets for new businesses  |  Hue & Tone Creative

2. Brand Identity

Now it’s time to develop the look and feel of your brand. This is where you’ll work with a designer to create a logo and everything that goes with it. You’ll want to come out of this stage with:

  • Primary logo: as well as any alternative logo formats you might need for packaging, online use, or small sizes
  • Logo usage guidelines: what is the smallest size your primary logo should be printed? What do you do when you can only print your color in one logo? Make sure your designer provides you with guidelines for every situation you might encounter.
  • Font palette: what fonts are you going to use on print, web, and in Microsoft Office?
  • Color Palette: what primary and secondary colors will complement your look, logo ad tone?
  • Graphic elements: anything needed to complete your print and web designs.
  • Sample usage: make sure your designer provides examples of how all these elements will come together to create your signature look. 


3. Build a winning website

We talk a lot about the importance of a well designed and properly optimized website, so we won’t waste a lot of space here talking through why you need one. Instead, we’ll run through a few key considerations when it comes to building it:

  • Get to the point: you’ve got a limited time to capture visitors’ attention, so get your message across clearly and effectively on every page.
  • Contemporary: outdated websites make your brand look instantly aged and untrustworthy. Take the time to get your website looking slick, and outsource it to a specialist if you need to.
  • Architecture: once you start adding menus and pages, they can be a right pain to change down the line. To make sure you’ve got a great user experience from the outset, map out your site’s architecture before you start building it.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): with a reputation for being the cheapest marketing method around, it’s crucial that you build and write your website with SEO at the forefront of your mind.
  • Contact: make your call to actions and contact information crystal clear.
  • Host: choose a content management system that’s reliable. Personally, we would recommend Squarespace – here’s why.
  • Domain: be sure to match your domain name to your business’ name.

4. Social media

Did you know, 70% of the US population have at least one social media profile? That’s a whole lot of potential customers to capture.

We suggest selecting just 2-3 platforms to get started on – especially if you’re handling your social media in house. To effectively leverage social media, there’s a few things you’ll need to do:

  • Only use high resolution profile and background images (pixilated pictures make you look untrustworthy and out of touch)
  • Write a succinct and enticing bio
  • Link back to your website
  • Include contact details
  • Keep an eye on your inbox/direct messages
  • Commit to regularly posting
  • Reply to those who engage with you
  • Interact with relevant people and/or profiles

Maintaining social media should be a daily job – if it’s not, you’re not doing it right. We suggest creating a content calendar to stay organized. And, make sure you have a set of templates on hand to save time when you need to create a quick Facebook graphic. 

5. Blogs

Investing in content marketing comes with endless benefits. A well maintained blog boosts your SEO efforts, helps you build backlinks and brand awareness, generates leads, adds brand value, and ups engagement.

Just remember the golden rule: the content you’re publishing must be quality. Churning out subpar articles won’t get you far -- if it even gets you anywhere. Here are a few general post types to get you going:

  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Webinars
  • Tutorials
  • Whitepapers
  • Presentations
  • ‘How to’ guides
  • Buzzfeed-style listicles

With good content, you need good images. If you’re not in the position to fork out money for sites like iStock and Shutterstock, consider Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels for good, free alternatives. 

The essentials: Must have marketing assets for new businesses  |  Hue & Tone Creative

6. Templates

Next up is templates. The extent of this list will vary depending on the nature of your business, but below is an idea of the types of templates we suggest you think about:

  • Email campaigns - sales, welcome, thank you, updates, or otherwise
  • Newsletters
  • Direct mail
  • Job descriptions
  • Email signatures
  • Powerpoint presentations 
  • Social media graphics
  • Letterhead/memos

Your logo should feature on each and every one of them -- which is why it’s important to have a logo that sits well in different settings, and your brand’s look, feel and tone should be encapsulated too. Remember though, your templates don’t need to be uniform to be consistent.

7. Print collateral

We’ve been carrying on about online a lot -- and rightly so! -- but don’t forget about good old offline advertising. Depending on your industry, things like physical brochures and business cards can be an important asset.

If you’re investing in printed materials, remember to:

  • Do your research: spending a bit of time selecting a quality printer.
  • Don’t compromise: poor quality paper reflects badly on your business.
  • Don’t rush: if there’s a proofreading mistake that’s your fault there’s no going back -- without throwing money down the drain.
  • Keep it consistent: print materials still needs to mirror your online presence.
  • Think of the bigger picture: think about how you can make print materials evergreen so that you don’t have to reprint regularly. Consider what really needs a date and what could go without one.
  • Get the right amount of copies: you can easily order more, so don’t go print crazy and order 1000s of copies unless you’re absolutely certain they’ll be used. But, you usually get a discount the more you order, so don’t be afraid to print some extras.

Need a little help?

Getting all your marketing assets together can feel really daunting -- I know, I’ve been there! But here at Hue & Tone Creative, there’s a lot we can help you with. From logo design and letterhead to web design and social media management, get in touch to see how we can support your business’ success. 

Leading the Way: How to Generate More Leads on the Web

In 2015, there were a total of 205 billion emails sent and received. According to Marketing Charts, emails sent to Gmail users found that 68.4% of all incoming messages were classified as Promotions; marketing messages sent for the purpose of driving a purchase or conversion. Promotional emails and other forms of direct marketing are made possible when businesses obtain personal contact information. The more leads a company is able to capture increases their potential for a future sale or conversion. There’s a myriad of ways to generate more leads, but here are a few that can be done quickly through your website and social media without a lot of fuss.

Leading the Way: How to Generate More Leads on the Web  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Don’t Ask, Won’t Tell

First things first: ask for what you want. Sometimes, just having a place on your site dedicated to requesting a user’s contact info is enough. If you never make the request, you’re much less likely to capture the lead. A good place for such a request is a Landing Page.


Create a Landing Page

We love this example from  VTL Design ! 

We love this example from VTL Design

Basically, a landing page is a place on your site that allows you to capture a visitor's information; most typically through a lead form. More technically, it’s a web page that stands alone from the rest of your site and is created for a specific function. Maybe you’re promoting a webinar and are attempting to attract attendees or maybe you want visitors to subscribe to receive your newsletter. Normally, you can’t reach a landing page from your site’s main navigation menu. Your visitors either land on it or it pops up shortly after they arrive. A landing page allows you to put special requests front and center while capturing user data simultaneously if they choose to proceed.

Simple enough, right? Well, asking doesn’t guarantee a yes, but as stated earlier, you have to at least ask and the landing page is where you pop that question.


It’s not what you ask for, but how you ask for it.

“What’s your math,” is the most creative means by which I’ve heard a phone number solicited. The gentleman wanted something, but instead of asking the same way everyone else has, he got creative and, as a result, he got the digits. On your landing page, you have what’s called the Call to Action button or CTA. A CTA is the equivalent of a pickup line. Traditionally that line has been “Submit”. Research has shown that this word has a lower conversion rate than other phrases. Subscribe, Start Your Free Trial, Launch, Download Now, Create a Site, Get Your Free E-Book, Sign Up for Free are more successful alternatives just to name a few. While it makes sense that your conversion goal will dictate what you ask for, the world is your oyster in terms of how you can ask. So, get creative in your request and the lead may be yours.


Social Sharing is Caring

Does your company have a Twitter account, Facebook Page, Instagram, ect? If so, make sure to include social sharing buttons on your website. Visitors who don’t want to fork over contact information may opt to engage with you through these mediums. They can follow you and you can, in turn, follow your followers. It’s a way to gain instant leads. Not only will your social media promotions show up automatically in their feeds, you will have unfettered access to those interested in your service or product and access to their entire social network. Easy peazy.

A business’s success is dependent upon how successfully they attract and keep customers. Lead generation is an essential part of that task. Capitalize on the traffic coming to your site by extending an offer or making a request that may perpetuate the relationship. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. As leads increase, you’ll be happy you did.


If your web traffic is stagnant, it's time to give Hue & Tone Creative and a call. We'll work together to help you get your content back on track and your website in front of new eyes. Want to learn what we can do? Give us a call.

Intro to HTML: Must Know Tags for Beginners

Into to HTML  |  Hue & Tone Creative

If you’re not familiar with HTML, making even small tweaks to your website or custom MailChimp template can be a struggle. HTML is a complicated language and you won’t become an expert overnight – however, you can master a few basics that will make it easier to tweak templates, build web pages, and control your online presence.

This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive guide to HTML, but rather an introduction with some of the most basic tags you’ll need to customize your in-house marketing campaigns. 


What is HTML?

Let’s start with the most basic question – “what is HTML?”

Hypertext markup language (HTML) is a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects. You use specific tags to customize each element of a web page.

Check it out for yourself: Open up a well-designed site in Chrome, right click, and select "Inspect Element." You’ll be able to get a look behind-the-scenes at how the site was coded. 


HTML Elements

HTML elements are individual components of your webpage that are made up of a start tag <example> and an end tag </example >.

Here’s an example of what a simple HTML page might look like:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>Page Title</title>

<h1>Sample heading</h1>
<p>A sample paragraph would go here.</p>



Note the <html> tag at the very top.

This element specifies the language the webpage or document is written in. Without this tag your computer won’t know how to process all the code that follows it. It’s important to realize that browsers do not display the HTML tags, but they use them to render the content of the page.


The Basics

The visible part of the HTML document is between <body> and </body>.

Your body tag is the first element content tag that you can open after you’ve opened your initial html tag.


This tag is one of the content elements that can be opened within your body tag. You can vary the size of your headings and subheadings by specifying whether you want <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, or <h6>.

<h1> defines the most important heading. <h6> defines the least important heading.


Used for formatting paragraphs of text. Just to be clear, the paragraph tag defaults to which ever style you already have assigned to your style sheet.


HTML links are defined with the <a> tag.

For example:
<a href="">You would put the text you want to be hyperlinked here. </a>


To incorporate an image into your page you’ll want to use an <img> tag -- the source file (src), alternative text (alt), width, and height can all be defined.

Example here:
<img src="hueandtonelogo.jpg" alt="" width="210" height="210">

Always remember to close your tags. Anytime you open a tag <example> you should close it after you’ve defined all your content </example>. 

Style Elements

Your style tags help you specify which colors and fonts are used for your headings, paragraphs, etc.


Here’s a few examples:

You could format size like this:

<h1 style="font-size:300%;">This is a heading</h1>

Color like this:

<h1 style="color:blue">This is where the text you want stylized goes. </h1>

Or both like this:

<h1 style="color:blue;"font-size:300%">This is where the text you want stylized goes.</h1>


Formatting Elements

Formatting assist with the aesthetics of your webpage, kind of like the style elements we mentioned earlier. The main difference between the two is that your formatting elements deal with text effects.

Used to make specific text bold.

Used for italicizing text.

Highlights text.

Makes specific text smaller. 

Helpful Resources

Learning HTML isn’t the easiest task, so here are a few tools to help you become a pro in no time!

  • Treehouse is an online coding school specializing in front end web development, JavaScript, IOS, and Python. Learn from over 1,000 video tutorials, quizzes, and coding challenges. There’s a free trial for first time users.
  • Lynda is a digital learning library where you can learn skills for business, design, marketing, and web development.
  • HTML Dog offers free online tutorials in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There are specific tutorials for every level of learning: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.


One last note…

Becoming proficient in HTML takes time and consistent practice, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come easy to you! Be patient and try to set obtainable goals for yourself.

Web and Graphic Design in Greensboro and beyond.

Clueless on how to build a website or create a logo? We’ve got you covered! Eye catching landing pages that help reel in leads to business cards that leave a lasting impression, Hue & Tone Creative is here for all of your marketing needs.

The Optimal Font Size for Web, MailChimp, and Mobile

Earlier this month, Twitter rolled out a new font. Unfortunately, not everyone was a fan

Twitter’s switch from Helvetica Neue, to Segue left users complaining that the slender new font was hard to read and caused way too much eye-strain.

Like Twitter, most businesses are bound to make mistakes when it comes to using the right fonts and sizes. Instead of fumbling through and learning from trial and error, do yourself a favor by learning a few of the best font-size secrets. 

Artboard 3test.png


Whether you’re designing an online shop, portfolio, or blog, it’s crucial that your fonts look clean, appealing, and easy to read.

For best readability, we recommend that you keep your headers and buttons between 30-32 pts and sub headers between 18-26 pts. Body text usually looks best when it’s between 12-16 pts. 


The Optimal Font Size for Web, MailChimp, and Mobile  |  Hue & Tone Creative
Looking to compare email marketing platforms? Here’s a rundown on a few of our favorites. 


Email marketing isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, email is 40 times more successful at bringing in leads than Twitter or Facebook.

One of our personal email marketing tools, MailChimp, recommends that you keep your body text between 14-16 pts. 16 is best for short emails between 2-3 sentences, while 14 pts us better for more lengthy emails.


The Optimal Font Size for Web, MailChimp, and Mobile  |  Hue & Tone Creative


According to MailChimp, it’s best to stick to the “one eyeball, one thumb, and arm’s length” rule when it comes to font sizes. Basically, your viewers should be able to see and scroll through the entire email with ease and clarity. 

With this guide in mind, your body fonts should be between 12-16 pts and your links, CTA, and buttons should be between 34-36 pts.


One last note…

When it comes to selecting fonts, the most important thing is to pick an easily readable font. When in doubt, go back to basics. If you stick to a plain serif or sans serif and use these size guidelines, you'll be on your way to finding the perfect typography for your next web project! 

Web & Blog Design in Greensboro, NC

Not seeing much traffic or engagement on your website? It’s probably time for an upgrade! From landing pages to business blogs, Hue & Tone Creative can help you create a site that matches your style and helps reel in leads. 

Why you should use Eventbrite

Planning an event can sound like a fun little project… until you realize how many little decisions need your attention. Even after you’ve worked out the details for a lot of the not-so-fun things (like port-a-potties, silverware, and parking) you’re stuck with the task of marketing your event.

While there’s no shortcut for a well developed theme, eye-catching graphics, or a solid marketing strategy there is one really big tool that can help streamline your ticketing + marketing process. When it comes to event marketing, Eventbrite takes the guesswork out of seating, ticketing, and promoting.

Eventbrite allows you to seamlessly create invitations, sell tickets, plan seating, and advertise all in one place.

A few of favorite features:

EventKingdom specializes in personalized digital and paper cards. Their variety of styles fits both traditional and trendy aesthetics. 

Custom designed invitations: If you want to take your invitations beyond the simple Eventbrite page you can choose from several customizable invitation templates, or install the EventKingdom plugin to create even fancier invites.

Reserved Seating: Selling tickets for an auditorium, runway, gala, or seated event space? Eventbrite’s reserved seating feature allows your guests to select their exact seats using a simple + customizable map interface.

Facebook Integration: Want to create a Facebook event to publicize your event? Just hit the “publish to Facebook” button on Eventbrite to automatically create an event page (without the hassle of reentering all of the event details on Facebook). Anyone who visits the page can easily see the details of the event, and will be pushed over to your Eventbrite to purchase tickets.

You can also publicize your event on your company’s website, Twitter, or Instagram with Eventbrite’s widget tool. View the full list of plugins HERE

Manage Attendees: Look up customer information, issue refunds, and print out guest lists using the manage attendees feature. It’s also the perfect way to communicate with customers, or send personalized emails to VIP Guests. 

Analytics: In-depth reporting and analytics tools allows you to monitor website traffic, see how many tickets you’re selling, and better understand where to focus your marketing efforts.

Organizer App: Perfect for last minute hiccups this free IOS and Android App allows you to sell tickets at the door, scan barcodes, print out name badges, and look up customer ticket information. 

Although we love using Eventbrite, there are other great alternatives:

So, how much does Eventbrite cost?

There’s no cost if your event is free, however if you’re selling tickets, Eventbrite charges 2.5% of the ticket price, .99 a ticket, and a 3% processing fee.

Eventbrite occasionally offers special promotions to new organizers as well as discounted rates for nonprofits. If your using Eventbrite for a high-end event it’s good to know that the service fee is capped at $19.95.


Still not sold on Eventbrite? Even though it’s one of our personal favorite tools, it’s not the be-all and end-all site to magically make your event a success. No matter what tool you choose to promote your event, be sure to stay organized, stay calm, and be prepared for the unexpected! 

Have you used Eventbrite? What’s your experience with it (or another event service) been like? Tell us in the comments!

Small business on a small budget

Marketing is a necessity no matter what your business. But, it’s important to remember that a solid marketing plan can come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and budgets.

Bootstrap marketing is all about making the most out of your resources, finding new ways to work with others, and becoming your own PR agent. It’s the best mindset for new business owners because it’s wallet-friendly and forces you to use your creativity.

Fortunately, there’s a vast array of tools that you can take advantage of...without depleting your bank account!

Gather quality research

Estimated cost: Free

Use a short questionnaire to gather the opinions of people on the street, outside of shopping centers, or events that fit your target demographic. Load your iPad with a set of quick questions to ask people, visual aids, and product comparisons -- then hit the street!   

Create a Contest

Estimated cost: Whatever you decide to give away

Contests are a great way to use social media to engage your followers. Create a small scale contest by having your followers respond to a question or share a picture accompanied with a fun hashtag. Have your followers share your business page or submit their email address for a chance to win a product from your business. For long term contests, be sure to drive excitement daily and encourage your followers to enter for their chance to win!

Give the inside scoop on social

Estimated cost: Free

When posting on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, keep the one in seven rule in mind. For every seven posts you create, make sure that one in focused exclusively on promoting your brand. The content of the other six should focus on providing information, testimonials, or entertaining images or videos.


Start a loyalty program

Estimated cost: A few discounts or free gifts

Keeping an existing customer is far less expensive than searching for new customers. Create a loyalty program to show your clients that they are valued with discounts, tier programs, exclusive shopping days, or points programs. Check out Belly, Perkville, PunchTab, or Brownie Points if you’re looking for an app to help get you started.  


Remember to always keep your email list growing! Give your visitors several opportunities to register every time they visit your website.

Launch an email campaign

Estimated cost: Free (until you reach a high volume sending list)

Use your creativity to keep your emails engaging and beneficial to your customers. Feature flash sales, rewards program perks, and anything new to your businesses.  Stream Send, MailChimp, and Benchmark Email are some easy to use email marketing services.  


Embrace guerrilla marketing

Estimated cost: $10-$500

Hand out custom t-shirts, stickers, or swag (like water bottles or dog toys). People love free stuff so give them something to remember you by!

Or, consider using sidewalk chalk or posters to get your message out around town.


Gather testimonials

Estimated cost: Free

Stand out from your competitors by providing success stories from previous customers. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your satisfied customers. Most are happy to write a review when they’re happy with a purchase. You can also offer a free trial or complementary item to select customers in return for an honest review. These are great to use in marketing materials of all kinds!


Maintain a blog

Estimated cost: Free (assuming you already have a website)

Most people would rather purchase a product or service from a brand with a personality rather than a stiff corporate tone. Use your blog to relate to customers as a person or small business! If you are new to blogging you could start with a customer success story, market trends, a behind the scenes look at your business, or maybe a feature of some of your staff members.

Things we don't recommend you skimp on?
An eye catching logo and an amazing website.

Partner with other businesses

Estimated cost: $50+

Look for local businesses that share similar values, target customers, and experience as your brand. Most businesses welcome connections, especially when they benefit both parties. For instance, if you own a bakery, partner with a nearby coffee shop on a special rewards card, let local vendors sell their wares in your storefront, or let a local artist offer painting classes at night. 


Host an event

Estimated cost: $500+

Think about the interests of your target customer and invite them to exclusive events. Anthropologie often holds special events for Anthro card holders. Guests are able to attend DIY workshops, fashion shows, and even pet adoption days. You can make an even larger event by networking with other businesses in your area. Many local businesses hold special shopping nights where customers can travel from store to store and enjoy sales and refreshments. There are endless event ideas, the key is to get your customer excited and eager to come.


Now that you’ve learned some budget friendly tips, remember that working with a small budget doesn’t necessarily mean a small marketing presence. Spend your money wisely and business will be booming in no time!

Let's Talk Email Marketing: Content and Design Time

If you read our post last week, you know all about what email marketing is and why you should be using it to promote yourself. This week, we’re talking how to setup a great campaign. Following best practices ups the odds that your emails will be opened and that people will engage with them. From visuals to the subject line, no detail is too small.

Subject Lines

The subject line is the first thing people see after you send your campaign -- and with only seconds to capture someone’s attention, a single word can make or break your open rate.

The basic idea is that you want your subject line to be concise, accurate and informative. It should set an accurate expectation for the content of the email - without getting too cutesy.  For example, subject lines like “Website news - Issue 3” and “[COMPANYNAME] May 2005 News Bulletin!” are shown to do better than things like “Last Minute Gift - We Have The Answer” and “You Asked For More…” (source). Readers want to know what they’re about  to read, and they aren’t likely to read what they perceive as junk mail.

Need more? Here’s a couple of can’t-fail subject line tips:

  • Localization + Personalization. Personalizing your subject line with a reader's first and/or last name, or even the city name, often results in higher open rates.
  • Use different subject lines. Keep it fresh! Even if you only send out a regular feature (like a monthly industry update) be sure to change up your wording every time you send out an email. Highlight the lead story or a feature piece of content to keep things timely... and readers interested.
  • Don’t cry wolf. Only mark truly important emails as urgent -- no one likes to be faked out. Subject lines with the words ‘urgent,’ ‘breaking,’ ‘important,’ and alert show higher open rates -- but only when used appropriately and sparingly (source).
  • Keep the subject line short. Like we mentioned before, keep it short. Most readers scan through their emails so keeping the line 50 characters or fewer is best.

Choosing Templates

Creating a template that attracts your readers is one of the most effective ways to get your readers engaged. You’ll want to create a template, or set of templates, that you can use across all of your email campaigns. Creating a consistent look that matches the feel of your brand and blends with the rest of your internet presence is key.

Design inspiration  h  ere  and  here .

Design inspiration here and here.

Almost every platform allows you to start with a pre-made template or design your own from scratch. Depending on your design IQ, we recommend starting with a pre-made template and customizing from there.

Be sure to insert your logo, tweak all the elements to match your brand colors, and pick fonts that fit the feel of your brand. Then, save this template so you can use it time and time again. Not only is this less work for you, but it creates consistency for your customers!

We recommend:

  • Sticking to one or two colors to create a clean design and keep readers focused on the content of the email.
  • Using different colors to differentiate the headers and footers of your email.
  • Using borders to provide visual cues to readers where one article starts and another begins.
  • Keeping alignment constant. If you’re utilizing large amounts of text, be sure to left align so that it’s easy for people to read.  
  • Lots of white space makes for a modern look -- don’t stuff content so close together that you overwhelm readers.


No one wants to receive a wall of text in their email. Email marketing should be fun and eye-catching... but also informative. Balancing text and images is the best way to create a visually interesting email and encourage people to read through everything. 

  • Organize your content by importance. Important + timely content should always be front-and-center at the top of your email to catch the eye of people who are skimming.
  • Use different font sizes and weights to create interest and organization. You want to utilize headlines, body text, quotes and buttons to create interest and give visual cues to the reader.
  • If your message is long (and can’t be simplified any more) send those who care to your site to learn more.
  • Shake up the size/layout of your images. Test out different sizes and orientations within your email to create interest.

Other Tips

Design isn’t everything -- now that you have a visually appealing email, let’s get down to a few nitty gritty details to consider when you’re done designing your campaign.

  • Make sure to test. Now that your email is looking great and ready to go you need to test it out. Send a test in your email marketing system, or consider using a tool like Inbox Preview. Inbox Preview allows you to see what your email will look like to different people on different platforms, and it’s one of the best way to ensure the look of your email stays consistent.
  • Don’t harass people. The frequency you will want to email people varies by business -- but consider 2-3 emails a month to be a good jumping off point. After 6 months of consistently emailing people 2-3 times a month, you can analyze people’s reactions and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Never SPAM people. If there’s one cardinal rule of email marketing, it’s to never email people who haven’t given you explicit permission. Most likely they’ll immediately unsubscribe, and even if they don’t, chances are they won’t be likely to engage.
  • Don’t overlook the importance of social media. Integrate social media into your campaign, and be sure to push the sign-up option on both your website and social channels.
  • Don’t waste time sending the wrong email. Once you’re feeling really advanced, you can test things out using A/B testing. It’s perfect when you’re not sure which image or headline to use.

Feel like you’re far from being a pro? No need to worry -- after sending a few campaigns, it’ll be as easy as riding a bike. But, if you don’t find that to be the case, we’re always here to help!

Soooo.... Ready, set, create!

Let's Talk Email Marketing: Platforms

Let’s talk email marketing.

Tip: Make sure to pick an email marketing platform that is mobile compatible. An estimated 50-60% of emails are now open on a mobile device.

Tip: Make sure to pick an email marketing platform that is mobile compatible. An estimated 50-60% of emails are now open on a mobile device.

First off, what is it? When we reference email marketing we’re referring to bulk email sending (typically sent using email marketing software). These emails usually include ads, request business, or solicit sales/donations. In addition to increasing sales, they also help to build trust and brand awareness.

Email marketing is both efficient and cost effective, so no matter what size your company is, it’s a great way to stay in touch with clients and follow-up on potential client leads.

There are a ton of email marketing platforms to choose from -- so, in all honestly, selecting a platform is often about personal preference. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a few of the major players:

  • IContact is an email campaign service that helps small businesses to larger senders. Their personal coaching, and award winning technical support sets it apart from other tools.
  • Constant Contact (the most used platform in terms of customers) makes editing simple as 1, 2, 3. With the ability to drag and drop content into customized templates, you can create customize each template best for your consumers.
  • Campaign Monitor Campaign Monitor is geared towards larger companies. It integrates with a ton of apps, and allows you to easily manage multiple accounts.

Other popular platforms include AWeber, SendinBlue, Benchmark, GetResponse and Vertical Response. But our personal favorite? MailChimp! MailChimp is a great choice for small business. It’s low cost and seamlessly integrates with popular web platforms like Squarespace and Wordpress. More than 12 million people and businesses are using MailChimp, and they send out over a billion emails a day!

There’s a few key features MailChimp has (though a lot of the other platforms do as well) that you should consider when shopping around:

  1. Automation. Sending an onboarding series of emails? Need to introduce new subscribers to your business or organization? This feature is great for creating and sending out automated messages, without the headache! A certain behavior, like signing up, will trigger an email or series of emails to be sent -- without you having to do anything.

  2. A/B Testing. This feature tests two different emails against each other to see which content performs best. Which subject line lead to higher open rates? Which image worked best? Both of these questions (and more) can be answered by this feature.

  3. E-Commerce features. You can easily connect your online store to MailChimp, where you can set up product recommendations, track online orders, and analyze purchase data. These are powerful features especially for small retail shops or individual makers.

  4. Advanced Analytics. This is the easiest way to track your performance! Monitor sales, subscribers, and revenue. Most importantly, you can integrate Google Analytics to learn even more about your campaigns.

  5. Segmentation. Nothing can turn people off faster than receiving content they don’t care about. By using segmentation, you can break your email lists into different groups. For example, “potential customers” and “existing customers.”

Feel ready to pick a platform? Good! Because next week we’ll be back with more information on how to design your first (or a much better) campaign. We’ll go over things like how to design an eye-catching template, what kind of content to include, and how to write a solid subject line.

Not sure what platform will work best for you? Let us help you decide. Shoot an email to with your top options and we'll help you decide what's best!