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Let’s Tone Your eNews Muscles

Let’s Tone Your eNews Muscles

 


With the amount of content already available online, it is fair to question the utility of an online newsletter at all; however, according to the New York Times, (and the MediaDesk team agrees) “at a time when lots of news and information is whizzing by online, email newsletters—some free, some not—help us figure out what’s worth paying attention to.”

By following these five rules, you can increase the effectiveness of your email newsletters.  

1.) Have one main goal that each eNews should accomplish

One of the most common—and most damaging—mistakes are providing too much content. The newsletter should feature one main point, event, or call to action in order to optimize its readability. By overloading on content, you run the risk of losing your viewer’s interest altogether. Blogspot Marketing points out that “part of what makes a newsletter a newsletter is that you’re featuring multiple pieces of content with multiple calls-to-action (CTAs). But, that doesn’t mean you should let those CTAs share equal prominence. Instead, let there be one head honcho CTA—just one main thing that you would like your subscribers to do…Whether it’s simply to click through to see a blog post or just to forward the email to a friend, make it super simple for your subscribers to know what you want them to do.” This adds simplicity and a sense of direction for your eNews, which makes it easier for your viewers to understand why it was sent to them in the first place. You also don’t want to overload them with text because the goal of an eNews should be to briefly inform, spark their interest in the topic, and direct them to your website (or whatever social media platform you use most) to learn more information. By enticing viewers to click on an embedded link (like your website), you will be able to track that information and be able to see that your eNews was successful in creating interest in what your organization is up to.  

2.) Use your subject line wisely

Your subject line is the first impression that your eNews will have on your clients—and what inspires them to open the email, or not—so it’s important to take advantage of its utility.  MailChimp, an email marketing platform, has found that a “successful campaign starts with a subject line that grabs the attention of your subscribers. Good subject lines are often personal or descriptive and give the recipient a reason to check out your content. Whatever your approach, it’s important to keep your audience in mind.” You have a lot of freedom to choose how you’d like your subject line to perform and what personality you’d like it to have (i.e. funny, informative, action-oriented, etc…), but you need to figure out what will work best for your audience while also achieving your organization’s goals.  For example when the Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative recently launched their new name, City Alive, the email subject line read: “Goodbye Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative”, implying that either the author or the organization was going away, when in fact saying goodbye to Living Cities was just a way to say hello to City Alive.  That month’s eNews had an open rate that was 10% higher than the average.

3.) Use alt text

Alt text: necessary to include, but easy to forget. Alternative text, or alt text, is the text you provide that coincides with an image. This is useful for people who are visually impaired and need to use a screen reader, but it’s also useful for when your image doesn’t fully load on your email.  In that case, the text will provide the viewer with the context of what the image would’ve provided. Blogspot Marketing addresses the fact that since “visual content is incredibly important to the rest of your marketing activities, it’d make sense that you’d want to include them in your emails…right? Right. But email’s a little bit trickier. Most of the time, people won’t have images enabled, so you’ve got to make sure your images have one essential component: alt text.” By the time someone clicks on your email, you’ve already done an incredible amount of strategic work to make that happen, and you don’t want to lose their attention or interest because the images won’t load! Capturing and maintaining the interest of your audience is vital, and providing alt text helps make sure that happens—even if the images aren’t loading on their browser or mobile device.  

4.) Keep track of what’s working

Most email platforms have a way for you to keep track of how many people are opening your emails, how many of those people click on the embedded links, what time of day they click on your email, etc, etc… With that information, you can test to see what works best for your viewers and what tends to be a waste of time. Marketing Land suggests that you take it a step further and “segment your database based on email engagement (highly engaged, limited engagement, no engagement). Test to understand what is optimal for each group, and define a threshold of emails that ensures engagement but leaves no money on the table. Monitor the number of emails sent at the prospect level. If the threshold is met (on a daily, weekly or monthly basis) stop sending more emails to that prospect.” Finding the different levels of engagement that people have, putting them into groups and finding their respective thresholds can have a lasting impact on your eNews campaigns. They also noted that “an Adobe case study found that by decreasing total emails sent by 16 percent (and including more relevant content), they realized a 60-percent improvement in open rates.”  So pay attention to who is engaging with your eNews, what content is working, what isn’t working and – most importantly – adapt your approach when necessary.

5.) Optimize your eNews for mobile devices

Consumers are using mobile devices to view their emails more than ever before, so you need to make sure that your eNews is optimized to work on various mobile devices. According to Impact Marketing, “79% of people surveyed use their smartphone for reading email” and “70% of consumers delete emails immediately that don’t render well on a mobile device.” Even if your eNews looks beautiful and has perfect messaging, it might be useless on a mobile device if it’s not optimized for mobile. Accessing email on mobile devices is an unrelenting trend, and it is your organization’s best interest to get on board. MailChimp and Constant Contact are two straightforward and inexpensive platforms that send emails that can be optimized for mobile devices.  

5 Tips for Green Marketing

5 Tips for Green Marketing

 


We’ve all heard about ‘thinking green’, but have you ever thought to apply environmentally friendly practices at your organization? According to a study by Cone Communications, you should!  The study shows that when “companies support social or environmental issues…96% of global citizens will have a more positive image of that company” and “94% will be more likely to trust that company.” Becoming an eco-friendly organization can seem daunting, but one easy step is to transition to green marketing. Green marketing “focuses on the triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet. It takes into consideration the availability of resources, the environmental impact of manufacturing and packaging, and the consequences of consumption,” according to Florida Tech. By shifting your current outreach and fundraising strategies you can help save the environment and build your followers and supporters.

Here are 5 tips to shift to green marketing:

1.) Utilize Social Media

Not only is social media a great (free!) way to reach out to your community and potential clientele, but it is also a way to use less resources in your day-to-day business practices. One non-profit was able to decrease its paper use by a remarkable 22% by switching to online modes of communication!  MediaDesk recommends the use at least one form of social media, if not more, and it is important to update these outlets often. In a previous blog post, 5 Tips For Non-Profits on Instagram, we emphasized that it “is sometimes better to have no representation on a platform than a dated or poorly executed account. With a clear direction you can reasonably post a couple times a week, if not everyday.” This can seem like a daunting task, but it’s important to make your online presence a priority, especially if you want to use it as sustainable marketing strategy.

2.)  Ditch Direct Mailing

This is the most straightforward way for your organization to transition to green marketing. Switching to targeted email campaigns means that there’s less cost to create a connection to your potential client because you don’t have to pay for the physical flyer and mailing costs.  This low overhead cost is a financial beneficial to you, and the fact that that it creates less waste is a benefit for the environment. Unless you have a campaign that has a highly targeted audience or you are trying to feel out a new area to expand to, direct mailing can be a waste of time, paper, and resources. If your business currently relies on direct mailing, you should work on procuring more emails from current clients and potential future clients.

3.)  Eco-friendly Handouts

If you are giving out brochures, flyers, or gifts as a way to spread your brand image and take on new clients, it could be worthwhile to use a more environmentally friendly option. A couple of quick tips are to avoid putting gifts in plastic bags and instead use a biodegradable alternative and to use recycled paper whenever possible. Be sure to promote the fact that you’re using green alternatives in your marketing, as this will show the community and your future clientele where your priorities lie.

4.)  Use Local Vendors and Businesses

Shopping at local businesses is a movement that has gained substantial traction in the past few years.  This is an easy way to create community impact while also making an eco-friendly decision. If you shop local or use local vendors, you are cutting down on the amount of carbon emissions that it takes to run your organization. Additionally, according to the Huffington Post, “more than 40 percent of millennials preferred to buy from local businesses, even if the goods or services are more expensive than mass-market alternatives.”  So what does this mean for you?  It means that people care about where their goods and services are coming from, and you can use that trend to make informed decisions about what products and firms you decide to use for your organization.

5.) Donate to Nonprofits and Charities that Help the Environment

While this isn’t directly cutting down on paper use or carbon emissions, it does show that your organization cares about its community and the environment. Keep in mind that donating doesn’t necessarily mean giving money – it can also mean volunteering your time or services.  If you don’t have the resources to donate money, you can coordinate a volunteer day for you and your staff or donate goods or services to environmentally friendly organizations who need them. Volunteering can even be better for your image than donating money because it shows that you and your staff are willing to back up the fact that you care about the environment with positive action.

These are just a couple of tips to help you initiate green marketing into your organization, but there are countless other things you could do to achieve eco-friendly marketing.  If you’re interested in fully committing to eco-friendly work practices, you can have your organization federally certified as eco-friendly by following their rules and regulations. It is a tedious process to have your organization federally certified, but according to the Kellogg School of Management, eco-friendly business practices “over the long run can become a competitive advantage and generate more business,” so it’s important to start making the transition now.


Our Latest Animation: Living And Learning in A New Key

Our Latest Animation: Living And Learning in A New Key

Our latest animation launches:

This week the Academy for the Love of Learning launched a latest MediaDesk NM production, Living and Learning in a New Key: The Spaces Between, which is our second animated production.

This animation presents a landscape inspired by Aaron Stern’s discussion of that which emerges from the cracks between major and minor; a musical expression of the play between the human experience of well being and suffering.

The original musical composition, Thirteen Anniversaries, was a gift from Leonard Bernstein to Aaron Stern, Founder and President of the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Shortly after completing the composition, Bernstein created an orchestral setting of the piece with added voice and entitled it Opening Prayer. This composition premiered at the gala re-dedication of Carnegie Hall in November of 1986. Later Bernstein incorporated the piece as the final movement of his last orchestral work, Concerto for Orchestra.

 

SEO: 3 Quick Tips for Nonprofits

SEO: 3 Quick Tips for Nonprofits


In theory, SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is simple: Deliberately getting people to your webpage by making sure it is easily found on search engines. Still, it sometimes gets a bad rep. Google’s algorithms, like much of the internet, are constantly changing. And I get it, keeping up can get complicated, time-consuming and frustrating very quickly.

Many nonprofits skip out on optimizing their page simply because they think that they don’t have the time or the resources, or that their audience will find them ‘automagically.’  But for nonprofits whose online presence plays an important part in fundraising and visibility, the value of SEO outweighs the struggles, and it can be less time consuming than you think.

Here are 3 quick tips to getting started on SEO:

(If you’ve got more time, check out our more comprehensive one-pager here.)

Find out where you stand:

The first step to bettering your organization’s rank on search engines is to figure out where you stand. At MediaDesk we call this piece “necessary narcissism.”  Google yourself. Google other organizations that provide similar services. Then figure out where the discrepancies lie. Are funders, clients, or partners able to find you easily? If not . . .

Start using keywords (the right way):

Google no longer looks at tagged keywords in your site’s metadata, but that doesn’t mean keywords don’t count. Instead of using tagged keywords, Google’s bots crawl your page content and look for commonly used phrases to find out why and how you’re relevant. However, that doesn’t mean that you should start peppering your content with arbitrary keywords. Keywords should be words that you would naturally use when describing your organization. If Google finds that your content sounds robotic or spammy, the keywords will work against the page rather than for it. Instead, strategically pick natural and high-trafficked keywords. (For example, we used keywords “SEO,” “search engine optimization” and “nonprofits” for this blog.)

Then, make sure they are incorporated in these key places on your site:

  1. Page titles and descriptions
  2. Headings
  3. Content (especially the first 100 words)
  4. Image titles and descriptions
  5. URLs

Consider starting a blog:

I know. I said these tips were going to be quick and easy. But if you’ve done any searching at all into the world of SEO, you’ve probably come across the overused phrase “content is king.” And it’s overused for a reason. The most important thing to search engines is delivering great and relevant content to their searchers. Keeping your site updated with new content that people actually want to read is the most important thing that you can do for SEO, and a blog is often the simplest way to do it.  We publish ours weekly (in fact you can read the others here), but if you only have time to write a blog every other week that’s a great start.  And don’t forget that your staff, partners, and clients are likely great guest bloggers that can help ensure your “content is king” too.  

For 7 more tips on honing your SEO strategy: Click here to download the SEO one-pager.

3 tips for VIP visits to your nonprofit

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Photo: Eric Martinez


Last week Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts visited Albuquerque and spent some time with Members of Tiaso Artist Cooperative at Valle Encantado’s Five Points Farm in Atrisco. The gathering was important for a couple of reasons: It positioned Tiaso as a key player in Albuquerque’s art space, it exposed a national partner to another innovative and effective organization in New Mexico, and it provided several storytelling opportunities that help leverage Tiaso’s already incredible reputation. Tiaso successfully capitalized on this visit by recognizing that the visit was an opportunity create a unique and memorable experience for everyone involved.  Additionally, they put to use new resources in order to capture the experience so that it could be recreated in future marketing efforts.

Here are 3 tips on how Tiaso capitalized on their visit, and you can too:

1.) Create Audible Memories.

As Chairman Chu and the Tiaso artists talked, they were extemporaneously producing highly effective messages and organic exchanges that could be valuable marketing material.  It can be very difficult to take notes or to memorize talking points from conversations during the visit, but it’s easy enough to switch on a recording device. Devices like a high-end voice recorder or even an iPhone can capture every exchange to generate quotable material for news articles or social media posts, and are great way to showcase an important person’s opinion of your brand.

2.) Dedicate a photographer. Capture moments; not just poses.  

Videos and images of VIPs engaging in your work are priceless. Utilizing your own designated camera person allows your brand to have total control of how and when the images are shared. If you rely on the VIP’s staff for media, you could end up playing the waiting game, and if they don’t send the media when you expect it (or worse – not at all), you’ll end up missing the important opportunity to share timely and relatable content. Tiaso was able to not only share their media prior to Chairman Chu’s incredibly busy team, but they were also able to share the media as the event was happening through their phones. Tiaso made sure to capture candid moments between everyone involved, as opposed to just the stanged “grip and grin” that VIPs are so used to.

3.) Orchestrate as much of your brand identity and values into the visit as possible.

Don’t be afraid to leave powerpoints and conference rooms behind. Your big day could end up feeling like Groundhog Day for on-the-go guests that endure visit after visit. It’s important to ask yourself: “How is our organization different?” and “What can we do to stand out?” And use that momentum to create an engaging space that represents who you are. Tiaso chose to host their visit at Valle Encantado’s Five Points Farm. The setting showcased the nonprofit’s community focus by inviting the NEA chair into their community. Instead of Tiaso leaders telling the stories of Tiaso artists, they had the artists share their stories in their own words, and invited her to participate in the process by sharing her story. These personal, first-hand connections resonated with Chairmen Chu and she was easily able to recall the details of every speaker at the end of the event.


Looking for more information? Check out our blog on Op-Eds and Public Opinion.

Instagram Stories? Three Things You Should Consider.

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Earlier this week Instagram launched Instagram Stories, a new feature that’s a direct competitor to Snapchat. Like Snapchat, the new Instagram feature makes it possible to share multiple 10-second videos and photos that will disappear after a 24 hour period.  The organic and off-the-cuff nature of these short video gives users a new way to spend more time directly viewing your brand, and allows your followers to pull back the curtain and get a more nuanced view of who you are and what you do.

There are some things to keep in mind  if you are considering using Instagram Stories to promote your organization:

1.) The user base varies between Instagram and Snapchat:

Demographically, Snapchat and Instagram differ widely. Snapchat has a monopoly on younger users from 13-24 years of age. Instagram has a more diverse age range and over 500 million users worldwide. On Snapchat users typically follow friends and acquaintances–which has made it challenging for companies and organizations to gain followers. On Instagram users are already accustomed to following brands with large companies and celebrities making up the top 20 most followed accounts on Instagram.

2.) Be cautious: The story format might not be for everyone:

Keep in mind that when sharing stories, you are sharing experiences rather than recording a polished message. Recording an experience can generate a larger reach than traditional Instagram posts and endear your audience to your day-to-day experiences, but be cautious about highlighting them at the expense of you brand. It may seem  attractive to record every moment, but that should not outweigh the value of strategic messaging. Your Instagram Stories should fit into a marketing and messaging strategy that contributes directly to your mission. So be sure to ask yourself . . .

3.) Does this fit my brand?

As we mentioned in last week’s blog post 5 Tips For Non-Profits on Instagram; “The best Instagram accounts post consistent content that matches with the brand’s identity.  It’s easy to lose sight of your goals when you have complete control of your content. Although you might have various content creators and admins, you must ensure that the content has a consistent voice. A great strategy is to categorize the type of posts that you make and limit yourself to only 2-3 categories.” This goes for stories, as well. Your social media strategy should tie back to specific goals for your organization. If you don’t have a clear-cut plan for how a story can contribute to your organization’s goals, chances are you shouldn’t be doing it.

Instagram Stories are an exciting new addition to the platform. Acquiring followers on Snapchat can be tough due to its incredibly minimal design, but now, with Instagram Stories, your Instagram followers can have automatic access to a similar style of ephemeral, real-life posts without having to seek it out. Instagram is becoming a one-stop platform for polished marketing and off-the-cuff and organic posts. With thoughtfulness, planning and consistency your organization can capitalize on the opportunity to tell your story in a way that resonates with a new audience. 


Looking for more information? Check out our blog on Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative – Stories of Entrepreneurship

 

5 Tips For Non-Profits on Instagram

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With over 500 million users worldwide, Instagram is a hard tool to ignore.  It’s a  great place to follow your favorite celebrity, friends or corporate brand, but at its heart the platform is about sharing stories. The photos along with their messages can showcase your brand’s impact in a tangible way that is clear, concise and delivered with a lot less noise than their social media platforms. As we launch our very own Instagram account, here are some things to consider before getting started or as you maintain your account:

1.) Learn how to cross-post effectively

While it’s a good idea to market your Instagram page using your website and other social media pages, it’s important to learn to do it effectively. Facebook and Instagram usually work together seamlessly, but the formatting doesn’t always work well on other platforms. If you are sharing the same piece of content, always ensure that the content and message is appropriate for the platform. Experiment to see what works best for you and your followers.

2.) Does the media reflect your brand?

The best Instagram accounts post consistent content that matches with the brand’s identity.  It’s easy to lose sight of your goals when you have complete control of your content. Although you might have various content creators and admins , you must ensure that the content has a consistent voice. A great strategy is to categorize the type of posts that you make and limit yourself to only 2-3 categories.

3.)  Know your audience

Your Instagram account, like all other pieces of your communications strategy, should be tied to specific goals. What do you want to accomplish? Who do you need to reach to accomplish it? That group of people is your audience. Remember, your audience should be a specific group – not just a vague demographic.

Knowing your brand’s audience is important so you can tailor posts and better target who’s important 53% of Instagram’s users are  18-29 years old and female users have a slight majority. The best feeds combine their brand identity with a familiarity of their audience’s needs. Again, the best strategy is to identify, categorize and limit the types of posts you make to have a concise feed for you users to better appreciate.

4.) Limit calls-to-action.

Instagram and other social media platforms are a great place to motivate users to join your cause, but  that should not be all that you use it for. Calls-to-action should be very strategic and limited. Show how and why it is imperative that they participate in your work and why they should care about the cause you are asking them to take part in. When you do use the platform to reach out to your users, ask them to help share your story at  your events.

5.) Commit to posting regularly

It is sometimes better to have no representation on a platform than a dated or poorly executed account. With a clear direction you can reasonably post a couple times a week, if not everyday. You can also identify events for live posting and share content generated by your fans. If you create the account, commit to keeping up with regular posting. Determine a frequency and stick to it.


Looking for more information? Check out our blog on Mention and Replies.

 

 

 

Video As A Powerful Engagement Tool

 

The 1st iPhone was released over nine years ago. At the time it was an entirely revolutionary piece of technology; it provided the ability to access the internet in the palm of your hand. The ever-improving mobile technologies of today enable us to interact socially with a wide variety of content online. And as users adapt and tech companies respond, we have observed a trend in preference for video content. According to  Brainshark, “33% of tablet owners watch one hour of video per day on their device” and “52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI”.

We launched our latest video, Mind Open, this month, which provides a window into the Entrepreneurial Mindset program that has been highly successful in municipal government and now is being piloted within Albuquerque’s Public School District.  (more…)

Three Tips You Need To Navigate Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

 

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Last Week Facebook announced a new round of algorithmic tweaks that will change the experience for every user. The algorithmic tweaks are intended to change feeds to put friends and family first, which means that for small publishers and organizations with Pages, this shift will change the way posts get delivered to followers. 

Here are a tips for navigating the changes for organizational Facebook Pages:

1.) Create content that people want to share – as individuals

While you are in total control of what and when you post, Facebook still controls how the user sees it – and with the new changes to Facebook’s algorithm, they will be delivering your cool posts less often, UNLESS! Individuals directly share them on their personal accounts. Create posts and share things that your followers will want to share from their personal pages.

2.) Experiment with using Facebook Live (live video, learn more here)

Facebook is really pushing live feeds. These largely unscripted events generate organic and authentic media that connects people, which is what Facebook is going for. This feature is an attempt to take some (more…)

140 Characters is Just Too Short for A Good Message

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Sharing clear and concise messages with your followers through microblogging platforms – like Twitter – can limit the depth and breadth of your message. Microblogging requires messaging that is a lot like a sales pitch; it is carefully crafted to reach a target audience, and it is designed to get them to take an action (like click a link or share the post). After all, you only get 140 characters. More than anything, microblogging brings attention to your brand, but it certainly comes with constraints.

The New Mexico Center for School Leadership uses their well-made, functional website‘s integrated Blog to circumnavigate microblogging restraints.  As they communicate on Twitter, they direct traffic to more meaningful messaging and fill in any details that might be missed in 140 characters by driving traffic from Twitter to a full-fledged blog on their website. (more…)