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6 Skills Every Marketing Professional Needs

If you’ve watched Parks and Rec you might be under the impression that tigers, free iPads, and mobile hot tubs are the way to attract new customers. While part of us is curious to see what would happen if you use the "Ralphio + Haverford method," we're here to offer a few other ideas. 

If you're looking to go into marketing or feel like you're being left behind by the industry, there's a few things you need to learn:  

6 Skills Every Marketing Professional Needs  |  Hue & Tone Creative

1. Inbound Marketing (More specifically, HubSpot)

In response to the growing dislike of pushy advertising strategies, more and more marketers are embracing inbound.

HubSpot offers comprehensive sales and inbound marketing software that helps businesses generate leads and turn them into customers. HubSpot offers a few free certification courses that are perfect for beginners. The best part? You don't even have to be a customer!

What you can earn (with no commitment):

  • Inbound Certification
  • Inbound Sales
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Growth-Driven Design
     

2. SEO

If you don't already know about Search Engine Optimization -- we hate to say it -- but you're way behind. The good news is it's never too late to catch up! SEO is the complicated process of generating traffic through organic search results. Because the entire process can get pretty complicated, we highly recommend checking out our SEO Do’s and Don’ts -- as well as this great Beginners Guide to SEO from Moz.
 


3. Google AdWords

Studies show that 75% of people who perform an online search never scroll past the first page of results. 

Google AdWords allows you to plan and purchase display ads, video ads, app ads and search ads. It also helps you discover new keywords, study trends, retarget, and geo-track traffic so that you can continue improving your ads. 

This a valuable tool for beginners especially because you can monitor goals like ROI, brand awareness, traffic, and conversion all in one easy place. They offer resources that allow you to dip your toes into their content -- or become a fully certified Google Partner.

4. Sprout Social

A social media management platform is a must if you have multiple accounts to manage. Sprout Social allows you to manage your channels, post/schedule easily, and monitor your interaction. We like Sprout because it let's you recycle content by easily rescheduling it.

If you're looking for a less heavy-duty social media management tool to start out with, we suggest looking into Hootsuite or Buffer
 


5. Google Analytics

Another powerful tool from Google, Google Analytics is valuable for beginners and seasoned marketers alike. This “freemium” service monitors and reports traffic so that you can better understand who your target customer is and what they're looking for.

Google Analytics can help you improve your SEO tactics by tracking the ways visitors discover your site. What words are they using when they search? How many pages and what types of pages do they visit? Which pages and links are the most popular? Google Analytics studies these trends and helps provide the answers you need to make your site easier to find and more relevant to searchers

Use what you learn from Google Analytics in conjunction with Google AdWords and you'll be an unstoppable marketing machine!

6. Email Marketing

Email marketing is here to stay. It continues to grow in popularity year after year and consistently generates a high ROI.  

If you're looking for a cost effective and efficient way to keep in touch with customers then email marketing needs to be a part of your marketing strategy. We prefer MailChimp, but IContact, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monster are other great options. 

The takeaway? The platform you use isn't as important as the fact that you are using an email marketing platform! 


Greensboro Marketing Company

Feeling more than a little overwhelmed? Pass your marketing off to the pros and get it off your plate for good. From email campaigns to comprehensive branding, Hue & Tone Creative is here to help you create. Not sure exactly what you need? We can help you figure that out too! 

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!

The Big List of Business Tools

Whether you’re starting a new business, turning over a new leaf, or just looking to streamline your current venture, you’re facing about a million (rough estimate) challenges at all times. But the good news is that for almost every problem you face there’s an app that’s here to make your life easier. And, to make things even easier, we’ve gone ahead and cut out the research process by compiling this list of essential business apps.

If you’re looking to streamline your marketing, finance, or internal communication efforts we’ve got an app for you!

 

Financial Tools

Keeping up with your finances can be one of the least fun parts about owning your business -- and, if you’re not careful, it can be one of the most time consuming.

MileIQ: Need to track your miles for tax purposes? The MilelQ app logs all of your drives and allows you to easily swipe left or right to categorize drives as work or personal.

Float: This cash flow forecasting app allows you to better predict the financial future of your company.

Quickbooks: Chances are, you’ve heard of Quickbooks. It’s accounting software specifically built for small business -- it’s essential for tracking your income, sending invoices, and managing your expenses.

Square: One of the easiest ways to accept chip + magstripe cards, Square is an app that pairs with a (free) card reader. It’s one of the easiest ways to accept POS payment!

PayPal: Send, accept, and request money with this online payment system. It connects with your bank account, and your information is secure and protected.
 

 

Marketing Tools

Now that we have your finances in place, we need to get you some new customers. These marketing tools will help you communicate effectively through every medium.

Hootsuite: Struggling to manage all of your social sites efficiently? Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your accounts one one screen. You can also schedule out your social media posts for multiple platforms at once, and track the results.

MailChimp: MailChimp is a cheap and easy email marketing platform that allows you to communicate with your customers. You can integrate the sign-up on your website to effortlessly collect email addresses, create branded templates, and send easily-trackable campaigns. If you want to learn more, check out our series on the benefits and basics of using MailChimp (here and here).

Canva: While we’re always in favor of bringing in a pro, we understand that sometimes you just need a quick fix. Canva is an easy app that allows you to create graphics for your business. There’s free templates for social media graphics, flyers, and more.

Hubspot: Hubspot’s a powerful inbound marketing software that helps you create powerful marketing materials, gather information, and convert leads into sales. It includes all the tools you need to market your business -- but may feel a little overwhelming for beginners.

Buzzsumo: Find out what your consumers really want! Buzzsumo helps you research your target audience so that you can ensure you’re spending time on the right content for your business.

 

Organization Tools

Organizing a team is no small task -- but luckily some of the best tools out there are meant to help you effectively manage your crew. Don’t count these tools out even if your business team only consists of just you! Project management apps can help you keep client work or new business initiatives intuitively organized.

17hats: Perfect for all the solopreneurs out there, 17hats cuts out the need for multiple apps. It simplifies everything and lets you keep track of your clients, projects, to do lists, calendar, workflow, templates and everything else all in one place.

Asana: If you’ve got a big team, Asana is the app for you. You can easily manage and assign tasks to different projects and teams. It cuts down on the need for unnecessary meetings and allows you to manage all of your to-do’s in one place.

Basecamp: A great alternative to Asana, Basecamp allows you to manage projects with a team. While Asana is our personal preference, the best thing to do is test out both apps for free and see what you prefer.

Evernote: A giant digital notebook, Evernote allows you to stay organized. You can store everything from big ideas to random musings in different digital notebooks. Add in images, audio, scanned documents, and files to keep everything organized. You can even forward emails to the different notebooks to keep everything in one place.

Wunderlist: Have a long to-do list? Wunderlist is a task management tool with a simple interface. It syncs to all of your devices so that you can easily check things off throughout the day.

Pocket: Ever spend hours looking for a link and wished you’d saved it? Pocket can help. Save everything and anything you come across on the web so that you can view it later.

IFTTT: An acronym for “If This Then That” this is a free web app that lets user automate web-based tasks. A little confused about what that means? That’s because it does almost anything!


 

Productivity Tools

It’s hard to stay on task when you’re feeling overwhelmed. These tools will help you keep your day-to-day routine on track!

30/30: A super simple task manager, this app guides you to work for 30 minutes/break for 30 minutes. It’s as simple as that!

FocusZen: Carefully engineered audio teaches your mind to block out all distractions and allow for maximum focus. The app also has timers for 10, 25, or 60 minutes of peace.

Spark: Emails can be a pain, especially unnecessary ones. This app collects and categorizes all of your emails so that they’re easy to process.

Slack: Slack is a cloud based messaging tool that promises to make you less busy by streamlining team communication.

RescueTime: RescueTime runs in the background to help you understand where your time goes from day-to-day. You can block distracting websites, set alerts for when you spend a certain amount of time on a task, and log highlights about what you accomplished.

Toggl: A ridiculously simple time tracker, Toggl lets you track your time per task so that you can recognize and improve it.

 

Misc

Google Apps: One of our personal obsessions, Google Apps are a powerful tool. You can create documents that are easily shareable, store files, comment on shared documents, and sooooooo much more. You can edit a document live with your team -- and it all syncs to your Drive. And -- purchasing an additional 100GB of extra space to store all your files starts at only $1.99 a month!

Skype: Have a remote client? Meet virtually with Skype and have a face-to-face conversation via your laptop or mobile device.

LastPass: Keep all of your passwords in one place with this password management app.

SignNow: A safe and effective way to get e-signatures in seconds from any device (for a very reasonable cost).

BidSketch: Use this tool to easily mix and match fees, projects, and conditions to create professional client proposals.

SurveyMonkey: Conduct free surveys and analyze the results with SurveyMonkey. With over 15 question types, you can easily gather information.



Don't be afraid to test out these different apps and see what works best for you -- finding just one tool that you love can make a big difference in your day-to-day efficiency! 

Tell us: which of these tools are you most eager to try? 

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.


Layout

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 hannah@hueandtonecreative.com with your top options and we'll help you decide what's best!