Working With A Creative Agency

The following overview will help you become familiar with creative process and give you an understanding of your role in ensuring the success of your projects when working with your creative agency.

S t e p  1 – Assign A Project Manager

Assign one company staff member as the decision maker and contact person for working with your creative agency. This person should be prepared to be available when needed, be ready to make decisions in a timely manner and be responsible for getting the necessary approvals
from within your company.

S t e p  2 – Your Creative Brief

It is important to establish clear direction at the onset of a project. This ensures that everyone has a common understanding of what is to be accomplished.

The best way to do this is to work with your creative agency’s Account Executive (AE) to establish clear objectives and expectations on the outcome of your project. The AE should ask you a series of questions in order to create a design brief for the project. A design brief is important in defining project goals and objectives, identifying audiences and key messages, establishing a budget, setting a completion date, and identifying the desired outcome and how it will be measured. This should be given to the creative team and used as a reference throughout the design process.

Working closely and clearly communicating with your AE is the best way to ensure your project’s success. You must articulate your project objectives, establish processes and ensure that the creative agency has access to what it needs from you to complete the project on time and within budget.

S t e p  3 – Initial Research

An agency’s job is to create strategic communications that will establish a distinct position for your company, your products and services. In order to do this effectively, they should work to understand your business and objectives. Their initial research should include a review of your competitor’s and company’s current communications, marketing messages and activities.

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Email Marketing – Easy To Do And On Your Budget

Are you using email marketing? You should be! It’s an effective business tool to incorporate in your customer-relationship strategy for communicating and interacting with customers. You must maintain a dialogue with your customers to improve their experience with your company and to keep them loyal to your brand, products and services.

Email is far less expensive on a cost-per-contact basis than other advertising options, such as banner ads, print advertising and telemarketing. It’s fast, inexpensive and easy to use as a marketing strategy. It’ll keep customers engaged, even when they’re not buying.

Reviewing emails is part of your customers’ daily routine and allows them to immediately act on your delivered messages. With many of your customers now using smartphones and tablets, they get your message when and where they want it. One of the greatest benefits of email marketing is that your message is delivered very quickly. Reader response times are generally within 48 hours.

Email marketing builds brand awareness. Keeping visible to your customers continues to build relationships and interaction with your customers. This assures that when they are ready to buy, they will think of your company.

It’s important to remember that a successful email campaign requires that you create a message that is compelling to those who receive it. Create the desire to have them open your email with a strong, informative and want-to-know-more subject line. Show your customers that you care about them. You need to craft clear messages to customers, based on criteria around their needs. If you do, you’ll see real, measurable results – right away – in building customer relationships, without investing a lot of your time and money.

For your existing customers, send them service reminders, special offers, updates about new products or services and expert information on topics of interest. It’s a great way to stay in front of current customers and reconnect with your customers that haven’t purchased from you in a while. For your prospective customers, let them know who you are, what your business is all about, what you stand for, what you offer, how you work and the products or services you offer.

With email marketing, you can create marketing campaigns consisting of a series of emails to reinforce your message. It costs little to maintain your email-marketing program. Email creates an interactive connection and helps to nurture customer relations.

You’ll be able to track your click-to-open rates, and send automated messages to new subscribers. Your email campaign’s effectiveness can be easily measured when you use a good email template system and software. By being able to quantify the success while in progress, you can adjust your strategies to improve results. It can also drive traffic to your website. Using links embedded in your messages, customers can quickly be directed to your website.

If managed properly, email marketing is very effective. First, you have to build a contact list of people who want to hear from you – called permission marketing. This will ensure that you are not spamming anyone. If you get your customers’ permission, your marketing efforts are better targeted and help ensure that your emails get through to those on your list.

A well-planned, email-marketing campaign is a win-win marketing strategy. What more could you want? Once it’s set up, it’s easy to do and on your budget!

Responsive Emails Could Make the Difference in Your Email Response Rate!

Responsive EmailsBy now, you should have heard about responsive websites. We discussed this in our last newsletter, and you should consider making your emails responsive also.

Just as more and more people are viewing your website on devices other than a desktop (mobile or tablets, iPhone or iPads, as an example), the same applies to emails. In fact, client email opens on mobile devices rose from 4% to 20% in 2011; and by the end of this year, more people will be reading emails on mobile devices than on desktop computers. Moving forward, if your emails are not mobile friendly, your email newsletter or message could go from great to awful by appearing broken, or too small and become ultimately unusable. The end result could be a diminished rate in responses in your email returns.

So what are responsive emails and how do you build them?
Responsive emails are very similar to responsive websites in how they work, but also very different in how they are built in relation to websites. The similarities lie in that you build one email that “responds” or reformats itself to the viewer’s screen size, but they are very different in the backend details of how they are built. With websites, you can build responsive formats for many different screen sizes including everything from desktop and laptops, to tablets and phones. With responsive emails, there are currently only two available formats, one for desktop and one for smart phones.

And since email clients are very strict in what code will be accepted due to viruses and spam, the code for responsive emails is also very strict in that they are still using “old school” tables in html. If you are familiar with tables, they are basically a box of rows and columns usually using fixed widths to “hold” your copy and images in place. Websites used to be built with tables years ago. HTML5  and CSS3 have since replaced the strict, rigid tables with much greater flexibility.

So the challenge lies in how to use these rigid tables to become fluid and responsive for today’s smart phones and still work well on desktops too. Granted, this task is not for the faint of heart, but it can be done. To put this as simply as possible, you basically build your email the traditional way in tables with the standard 600 pixels wide. Then you add in the media query responsive code that only the devices that are capable of recognizing that code would then implement. In a nutshell, the media query will tell the smart phone that if your screen size is below 480 pixels wide, then view this table not at 600 pixels wide but at 300 pixels wide. Images can be scaled using the same concept. Floats, as an example will not work, but align=”right” in a table, with a thoughtful plan and some ingenuity, will. It will take a good bit of knowledge of what CSS code will work and what code won’t, and plan, plan, plan. Measure twice and cut once, as the carpenter always says.

The time is now!
Even though responsive emails may be challenging, they are also a great opportunity! Don’t wait until you lose your audience before you consider getting on board with presenting your company’s newsletter or email information in a format that your clients will truly appreciate.