Author Archives: Porsha Thomas

Jumpstart Your Instagram Stories Strategy

So you’ve been doing a pretty good job of posting content to your Instagram feed for your business, but are you using Instagram Stories? If using Instagram Stories seems like just one more thing to keep up with for your marketing strategy, we get it. But with a little bit of planning, we promise you’ll notice how the feature can be beneficial!

Some good news to start with for all you biz people – a third of the most-viewed Stories on Instagram were created by businesses! This means customers are definitely engaging with the brands they love using the Stories feature.

So, what are some of the ways you can use Instagram Stories to engage your audience? Begin with the end in mind. What are your goals? What should your customers take away from your Story, and what do you want them to do next? Once you have an understanding of your IG strategy goals, you can begin thinking about creating engaging content. We’ve got some tips and ideas below to help you get the juices flowing:

Plan your content ahead of time

It’s a good idea to think about content for Instagram Stories as you would scheduled TV programming. You can even create recurring “episodes” each week so that your audience has something to look forward to (think Ask Me Anything, showing off product features/reviews, a look behind the scenes/a day in the life, influencer takeovers, etc). Planning your content and how it will flow will create a more addictive and consistent experience for your viewers.

Get creative

Using Stickers, geotags and hashtags strategically can help you increase audience engagement. The feature also includes tools for drawing and face filters to keep the creativity flowing. Pull it all together to give your content some pizazz by combining text, pictures, videos, stickers, doodles, interactive polls, and more!

Drive traffic to your website

Drive traffic to your website by adding links to your stories and taking advantage of apps that allow your audience to shop your products like this one from Shopify. If you’ve noticed the “Swipe Up” link feature only occurs on certain accounts, it’s because they’ve either got more than 10K followers or have verified accounts. But never fear because as with most things on the internet, there are hacks to get around that!

Test content ideas before posting them on your Instagram Feed

You can use Stories as a testing ground for the posts on your feed. If a story is received well (you get positive comments and you don’t have a high amount of drop offs), you can consider posting it on your feed. The “throwaway” format (Stories only last for 24-hours) makes it easy to show the less stylized content that you may not post to your feed.

If you’re looking for some super specific ideas to engage your Instagram audience, this article is chock full of them! If you’re thinking that your entire marketing strategy needs an overhaul, we’d love to help! Contact our team.

Build a Bigger, Stronger Email List Faster

If you happened to read our “How to Build a Website Launch Campaign” blog post, you know that we’re practitioners of the A.B.G.E philosophy – that’s right, Always Be Getting Emails! The number of Instagram followers you have unfortunately doesn’t mean much in the way of real-life sales because you’ll never reach all of them, let alone consistently.

Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach your audience on a regular basis and a great way to build your relationship with them. But first thing’s first, you need an email list!

Tips to build an email list from scratch

So you’ve never sent a marketing email in your life, and you don’t even have any customers to market to? We’ve got you! Check out the tips below to get started:

Blog much? Add a personalized call-to-action to sign up for your newsletter at the end of your blog posts. The CTA should be relevant to the folks visiting your website and make them want to sign up to learn more about your services, blog post topic, etc.

Capture visitors coming to your site with a pop-up email subscription box. If your pop-up CTA is enticing, creative or offers a ‘carrot’ (i.e. a sign-up in exchange for a discount or downloadable PDF), you’ll see a lot more traction than with general “Sign up for our newsletter” messaging.

Get clever with your pop-up by creating a quiz or survey. We don’t know about you guys, but we love a good quiz! Create a quiz that requires an email address submission to receive the results. Make sure the quiz is relevant to your business or industry and that visitors to your website would be inclined to take.

Life is better with humor. Take the opportunity to create funny a “no thanks” option in your CTA. Think about it – doesn’t it feel sort of weird clicking the “No, I Don’t Want Free Info About Making More Money” button beneath the more prominent “Sign Me Up!” one?

Use your social media accounts to pitch your new email newsletter. You can create a branded sign-up form using a platform like MailChimp and link to the form in your social media posts.

Tips to continue building your list

If you’ve already got an email list and you’re looking to keep building, keep reading!

Fan of networking? Host an event to market your business and put out a sign-up sheet for emails or bowl for business cards. If you use a ticketing site like Eventbrite or Splash to collect RSVPs, add a disclaimer on the landing page letting attendees know that by signing up, they are agreeing to receive email marketing messaging from your business.

Use the power of word of mouth marketing and ask your subscribers to forward or share your emails. You can easily accomplish this by including social media share buttons and “email a friend” buttons in your campaigns.

Create a lead generation offer (i.e. a free e-book or webinar hosted on a landing page), downloadable tool or resource, or “bonus” content that people can access by submitting their email address.

Start a club or a meetup relevant to your industry and and invite people to join by providing an email address during sign up.

Create an exclusive offer for email subscribers and encourage them to share it with their circle.

Leverage partnerships and collaborations by working with a partner to co-market an offer or a giveaway.

One of the most important things you can do to keep building your email list is to provide engaging content. It’s a little easier said than done, we know. So take a peek at this video of our leader, Natasha, discussing Email Marketing for all Phases of the Business Journey at The Southern C’s 2019 Summit.  

P.S. Did you know that we can help with advanced email marketing strategy? We’ll work with you to design and implement a custom strategy including, but not limited to, branded email templates and automation sequences to help you promote your business, your products/services, and more.

We currently offer advanced strategy and custom template designs for Mailchimp and Klaviyo. Want to know more? Let’s chat!

What’s Better for my Business: A Plug & Play or Custom Designed Theme?

If your expertise stops short of website-building, it can be a challenge navigating whether a plug & play website (customization of a pre-made Shopify or WordPress theme) or a custom-designed site (a team of web developers and designers create a new theme from scratch) is best for your business.

There are a few factors to consider before making a decision, so we thought we’d write a mini guide to help you weigh the options!

First thing to consider: What are your business needs?

Think about your business – what are your immediate needs? Your website’s functionality depends on them. If the products you sell require special shipping, or require a certain functionality so that customers can shop them on your website, a customized platform may better suit your needs. (Nobody wants to be stuck in third-party-app hell!) If you fancy yourself a “DIY entrepreneur” without a need for bells and whistles to sell your stuff, plug-and-play sites are great because you have more control of visually merchandising your site without having to know code!

Second thing to consider: What’s your budget for web design?

The amount of money set aside for your website can be a big determining factor of whether custom design or a plug-and-play website is better for you business. As you can imagine, a plug-and-play site would be more economical than one that’s been specifically designed to complement your business branding and accommodate specific needs. Our best advice here is to be realistic about your business needs and cognizant of your expectations. Opting for a cheaper solution could cost more in the long run if you aren’t clear about your needs or are unaware of what to expect.

Third thing to consider: How much branding do you need?

We’re just gonna put it out there – customization is limited with plug-and-play websites. Typically you can add your logo, change the website colors to match your own branding, and customize the site Typography using default Google fonts (or the like), but that’s about it.

With a custom site, you aren’t limited to a small set of default options for typography and color. Your site better represents your company’s brand with the use of a complementary color palette and font selections plus any supporting graphics or artwork to create something special.

Fourth thing to consider: How much time do you have?

Building a website from scratch takes a little longer to develop than adding your brand elements to a plug-and-play theme. Unsurprising news, we know! Again, always consider what’s best for your business. If you have the time to invest in creating something unique to your brand, opt for a custom site. If you’re ready to start now and ask questions a little later, plug-and-play site is a great place to start.

Looking for a new web home to call your own? We build nice ones. Let’s have a chat!

Mailchimp is Breaking Up with Shopify – Here’s How to Prep Your Shop

Last week, Mailchimp announced that it would be removing the Mailchimp for Shopify integration from Shopify’s marketplace (effective immediately), and on Sunday, May 12th, Shopify will no longer support the integration.

If you’re a Mailchimp for Shopify user, you’ll want to make some swift moves to ensure a seamless migration for your customers and you before “Mexit” officially takes place. Believe in the might of Mailchimp and want to continue using the platform? Check out these workarounds:

Third-Party Integrations
There are several third-party providers to connect your Mailchimp account to Shopify: ShopSync (free),  Zapier, and Be sure to install the third-party integration before you disconnect the Mailchimp for Shopify integration to make sure you don’t lose anything! After you install the new integration, disconnect Mailchimp for Shopify.

Live the Manual Life
You can always do a traditional import in Mailchimp to manually add customers to your list and up your digital marketing game by utilizing Mailchimp’s e-commerce solutions.

  • Create Pop-up Forms
    Add an embed code to your website to allow Mailchimp sign-up forms to pop-up after a specified delay. You can customize the forms to fit the look of your brand and add messaging and promo codes. Learn how.
  • Dive into Digital Advertising
    Create Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads using your Mailchimp account. You can set ads to target specific contacts or go beyond your list to reach all-new audiences. Find out how.
  • Send Product Retargeting Emails
    Use the e-commerce data from your connected site to personalize your messages and recommend the right products to the right customers by way of abandoned cart emails, product recommendations, and product retargeting.

Learn more about how Mailchimp’s solutions for your online store here and if you’re interested in learning about alternative email marketing platforms that integrate with Shopify, schedule an info sesh with our team!

How to Build a Website Launch Campaign

Picture it. 2019. You’re staring at the digital finish line and your new website is just about complete. Your heartbeat is kind of speedy because you’re looking forward to selling all the things! Just like you celebrate your own entrance to the world every year, plan to make a big deal about your new shop’s grand entrance to the digital space with a strategic website launch campaign!

Your soon-to-launch website is the tangible “new you,” so begin by thinking, who should I show myself off to? Start by converting your customers into a community of brand advocates.

Pre-pre-pre Launch: Build Community

Begin by determining the purpose of your community. It should align with your brand, services and/or products. For example, a brand who sells fancy olive oil subscriptions may build an online community focusing on foodies who enjoy cooking and swapping recipes. The community should provide value for its participants and create avenues for them to contribute.

  • Decide where your community will convene (Facebook group, monthly newsletter, Twitter chat, Instagram hashtag, monthly meetup, a combo of these, etc.) and start doing some field research.
  • Join similar communities and take note of how they operate. The topics discussed, how members engage with each other, recurring hashtags, community pros and cons, etc., will provide a good baseline to build your own unique community.
  • Keep your community engaged by sharing original, relevant content. Collaborate with thought leaders in your industry to reach new people. Create a hashtag unique to your community and follow hashtags relevant to your industry so that you can engage with more people.
  • Build community online and offline by hosting activations. The olive oil brand, for example, could host monthly pop-ups with local chefs whipping up deliciousness using their product.
  • A.B.G.E – Always Be Getting Emails. Unfortunately, the number of Instagram followers you have doesn’t mean that much in the way of real-life sales. You’ll never reach all of them, let alone consistently, so the best way to market to your community is in their inboxes. Create opportunities to collect email addresses often. Struggling with strategy? We wrote a blog post about how to create one – here ya go!

OK, you community-building queen/king, it’s time to set some measurable goals and start thinking about this campaign in three phases.

Phase 1: Such a Tease
In Phase 1, you’re just letting people know to be on the lookout for something great. Promotion during this phase should really focus on your A-B-G-Es. I.E. “We’re launching something new! Be the first to know by signing up below.”

Phase 2: It’s Alive
Time to break out the champagne and dance on the table because your website is live! Plan for both digital and in-person promo during this phase to celebrate your launch of your website. For example, you could host a party or activation in your city in addition to an online giveaway, or shop discount honored only on launch day.

Phase 3: Keep on keepin’ on
Continue driving traffic to new your website by using your marketing channels to share original content (blog posts, videos, etc) and new products that arrive in your shop.

Good on phases? And now the toolkit.

Tools Needed:

  • A strategy for social media
  • An email strategy
  • A strategy to pitch the press
  • An IRL event or activation
  • A strategy to drive traffic to your website

A strategy for social media
Social media will play a role during all parts of the campaign. You can use it to tease the launch before it goes live (think: Instagram countdown to launch day, behind the scenes views of the website buildout, etc.), when it goes live (“we’re live” post across all channels, social media giveaway with winner chosen via Facebook or Instagram Live, etc.), and after it goes live (posts promoting products and content housed on your website).

An email strategy
During the Teaser phase, send emails alerting customers that new things are coming and be prepared to celebrate soon! When it’s time to go live, offer an incentive for customers to shop your new site. I.E. “Our website is live! Use code “YOUFANCYHUH” to take 15% off your purchase for the next 24-hours.”

A strategy to pitch the press
Let the media know you’re coming! During the Teaser phase, keep your ear to the ground for articles written by journalists covering businesses like yours or who are writing about innovative things happening in your industry. Medium is a great tool to find both accomplished and upcoming writers spreading the word about just about everything! From Medium, head to Twitter to follow the writers you liked and show some love: “Great read by @journalist about [something relevant to your industry]”. Often you’ll find their email address listed in their Twitter and Medium bios, but if not, do a little research. If you don’t really ‘Twitter,’ see what you can find on Instagram (although we must say that Twitter is a much better platform for this kind of thing!). Google them to see if they’ve got a portfolio website that lists their contact info – it’s OK to get snoopy with it.

When it’s time to write your pitch, be succinct. Tell them you liked the article they wrote about subscription food services taking over the world and you’d like to tell them about your new olive oil subscription company. Oh yeah, and your new website with this amazing new feature is coming soon! Link to an online press release that provides more detail about your company and the new site and wait. If you don’t hear back after a week or so, follow up at least three more times (with ample time between each contact) before moving on to the next one.

An IRL event or activation
Who doesn’t love a good get-together? Rally your community to celebrate the launch of your new website with a proper shindig. If you sell products online primarily, collaborate with a like-minded brand to host a pop-up shop at their space and sell your wares in-person while you guys drink champagne and eat cake (you know, or whatever type of food that translates to for you). Offer one-night-only discounts for the folks who shop on-site and encourage the community to share what’s happening virtually using your unique community hashtag.

A strategy to drive traffic to your website
Just like A.B.G.E, you should Always Be Driving Traffic To Your Website too! Your ultimate goal is to sell the products in your shop, so you’ll want to Always Be Sharing what’s great about them with your audience in creative, innovative ways. Heard of content marketing? Here’s where it comes in! Take some time to think of ways you can provide value for your customers by creating free content – insightful blog posts, videos, product how to’s, community member spotlights, etc. – that lives on your website. Share these items using your digital marketing channels to drive traffic to your website and get people shopping around.

Alright, gang! Now you’ve got some ideas flowing for your launch strategy and you’re feeling all ready to go get it. Here’s the last major thing: Begin with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish with this campaign? Set some goals, track ‘em, and analyze the results. Make adjustments accordingly so you can kill it on your next big marketing campaign!