Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Email Marketing Matures with Litmus and Microsoft Partnership

By Heather Truitt

For 10 years of my career, I’ve supported clients with email marketing. No matter the message, there is always one factor that is critical to all email marketers: will the email present well in Outlook?

Recently, while working with a coworker to finalize an urgent client email alert, we experienced an issue with Outlook. The eAlert looked exactly as I had designed it in my Outlook, but it did not display the logo properly on my coworker’s screen.  As soon as I saw a screenshot of her display, I knew what needed to be fixed.

If you’re an experienced email marketer, one screenshot usually will provide you with enough information to solve the issue. Outlook display issues can range from not displaying a background color or an unexpected border around an image with a link to fonts displaying improperly and images showing up with incorrect justifications. In fact, virtually thousands of things can go wrong when designing for email marketing.

I recently participated in an “Industry-Changing News” live stream by Litmus. Litmus is an email marketing service that provides access to view your email on various platforms including Mac, PC, Mail, all Outlook platforms and more. This service is invaluable to email marketers and developers because you can log in and view the email in all the platforms. I easily could have spotted the Outlook issue I described above if I had been able to test it in Litmus or other email testing and delivery tools.

Here is a list of some other email testing websites that evaluate email messages for design and content, including spam scores:

Aurea, which acquired Lyris (http://www.aurea.com/products/email-marketing)
Email on Acid (https://www.emailonacid.com/)
Email Reach (http://www.emailreach.com/)
Email Spam Test (http://www.emailspamtest.com/)
Postmark (http://spamcheck.postmarkapp.com/)
PutsMail (https://putsmail.com/)

In addition to hearing more about the Litmus platform, about 15 minutes through the live stream, a special speaker from Microsoft was introduced. Caitlin Hart announced that Litmus is partnering with Microsoft to #MakeEmailBetter, the details of which can be viewed online at https://litmus.com/microsoft-partnership.  The announcement comes after 15 years of having to create specific work-arounds just to make sure an email displays properly in Outlook.

With a team of Microsoft engineers working with Litmus, I believe we will see some great things for email marketing in the future, things we were not capable of doing via email before.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Telephone Etiquette to Begin and Nurture Business Relationships

By Rose Strong

Do you consider yourself professional? If so, be sure you sound it when calling someone on the telephone.

I answer the telephones at Furia Rubel marketing and public relations and the majority of my phone interactions sound like this:

Me: Good afternoon, Furia Rubel, this is Rose.

Caller: Hey there Rose, how you doin’? Is So & So around today?

Me: May I ask who’s calling?

Caller: Oh yeah, this is Jane The Unprofessional.

Me:  And may I ask where you’re calling from?

Caller: Sure, yeah…I’m calling from Whatchalamacallsitfenterbriztes.

Me: I’m sorry, can you repeat your company name, and is So & So expecting your call?

Caller: Um, yeah WhatChaMaCallIt Enterprises, and oh yeah, I sent her information last week and she told me to call her today.

Me: She is not available at the moment. May I take a message or would you like her voicemail.

Caller: I’ll call back. [Click].

It is interesting how many callers don’t identify themselves or where they’re from. Even more amazing is how some folks can be overly familiar, as if we’re having drinks after work at happy hour rather than interacting for the first time. They also often speak unclearly and even lie to try to get through to the person they are calling.

It’s clear with today’s techno-savvy world we’re often more apt to use email or even text messages to conduct business. However, the telephone is still a vital part of how we operate professionally.

We may have conference calls with many people, phone call meetings with only two people, touch-base calls for one-on-one communication. I don’t think we’re giving up this amazing, 140-year-old invention anytime soon. So, in light of that, when doing business, whether seeking it or maintaining the relationship, it’s a good practice to be professional no matter who answers the phone.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain a professional demeanor on the phone:

After the greeting, introduce yourself and explain where you’re calling from before asking for the person to whom you wish to speak.

Be sure to speak clearly and in a moderate tone so the person answering can record your name. Explain why you are calling and when you can be reached. And by all means, please take “no” for an answer. “No” is a full sentence.

Just this morning, I answered a sales call directed to our company owner, Gina. She was standing just feet away from me in an important conversation with one of our colleagues and was not able to take the call. I no sooner hung up with the caller when Gina’s cell phone rang and it was the same caller. She very sternly advised him never to call her again since he was just told that she was not available, she was not expecting his call, and he refused to leave a message, originally.

Being professional goes a long way towards building relationships and telephone professionalism is a great way to begin and nurture business relationships. Do you have any other tips for telephone etiquette?

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Twitter Opens Account Verification (Requests) to All

By Sarah Larson

If you’ve always coveted Twitter’s blue-and-white check mark icon, here the good news: Twitter is opening the possibility of account verification to all its users. The catch is, your account still has to meet Twitter’s threshold for bestowing its seal of approval in order to join the elite group of “public interest” figures who sport the mark.

The blue check icon next to a Twitter name means that the social network has verified the identity of that Twitter user. It’s the difference between Game of Thrones (official HBO account, with 3.87 million followers) and Game of Thrones Memes (not affiliated with the network).

In the past, Twitter offered verification to the accounts of those it considered public figures. The goal was to ensure the integrity of communication, enabling Twitter to become a reliable social media channel where followers won’t have to wonder, “Is this really you?” The blue check mark enables more genuine conversations because the source of the information is easily identified.

Recently, Twitter announced that it would make its respected blue check icon available to more users. Tina Bhatnagar, Twitter's Vice President of User Services, said, "Our goal with this update is to help more people find great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for creators and influencers - no matter where they are in the world - to easily connect with a broader audience.”

So if you think you rate a verified icon, what should you do? First, check your profile. Twitter says your account must have:
  • A verified phone number
  • A confirmed email address
  • A bio
  • A profile photo
  • A header photo
  • A birthday (for accounts that are not company, brand, or organization accounts)
  • A website
  • Tweets set as public in Tweet privacy settings
You’ll also need to be able to cogently explain to Twitter why you think you should qualify to be verified. The social network’s new guidelines say, “If the account represents a person, we want to understand their impact in their field. If it represents a corporation or company, let us know their mission.”

If you think you’re ready to go seek the Twitter stamp of approval, you can request account verification here

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

What We’re Reading: Pokemon Go, Philadelphia Weekly, and Larry the Cat

By Sarah Larson

From interesting industry updates to political news flashes, here’s what the marketing and public relations team at Furia Rubel is reading this month:

Local Marketing in Augmented Reality:
Pokemon Go is an overnight sensation that could shape the future of advertising. In the game, the real world converges with a digital world through the user’s smartphone GPS and camera. Navigating with the smartphone map, players walk through their local areas and catch Pokemon. Players can “power up” at Pokestops and take control of Gyms, spurring people to physically go to visit these locations. Sponsored locations soon will be coming to the game, allowing real-world shops and organizations to attract foot traffic through the offering of virtual tools to help game-players. Some retailers already are experiencing a surge in sales from increased visitors related to the game. Businesses could further capitalize by promoting the rare Pokemon popping up in their area, making their stores a viral destination.

Philadelphia Weekly, Northeast Times Sold:
The publishing group that produces Philadelphia Weekly, Northeast Times, South Philly Review and nine other publications has been sold to Richard Donnelly, president of Pennsauken, N.J.-based advertising distribution company Donnelly Distribution. The Philadelphia Business Journal’s Jeff Blumenthal reports that Donnelly “announced immediate plans to expand distribution of Philadelphia Weekly to sections beyond the weekly’s traditional Center City territory, including Manayunk, Roxborough, East Falls, Northern Liberties and Fishtown.”

Facebook Ad Targeting:
A new advertising feature on Facebook is helping marketers focus on their target audiences. The new feature, Engagement on Facebook, allows marketers to select an audience comprised of people who have viewed their brand videos for varying lengths of time - from at least 3 seconds (demonstrating at least casual engagement with the brand) of their video, to half of the video, and up to 95 percent of the video. This custom audience feature allows businesses to aim call-to-action ads at people who have demonstrated connections to the brand.

Twitter Lets Users Request Verification:
If you follow Julius Caesar or Larry the Downing Street Cat on Twitter, you know that many accounts on the social network are parodies. But how to tell the difference between the real and the spoof? Twitter’s answer was to offer “verified” accounts to those in public interest industries, including entertainment, politics, religion, media, sports, business and more. Now, the network is opening verification to other users. Twitter announced recently, “If you believe your account is of public interest and should be verified, this article outlines information about submitting a request.”

Larry the Cat Faces off with Palmerston:
Speaking of Larry the Cat, observers of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom fretted over the outcome’s impact on Larry the Cat, the “Chief Mouser to the Cabinet.” At first, Larry lovers rejoiced that the cat would seemingly keep his job - and his home, where he has lived since 2011 - at 10 Downing Street, despite a shakeup in the office of prime minister. Now, though, it seems that an interloper from the Foreign Office, Palmerston, is battling Larry for feline supremacy, and Larry has had to be treated by a veterinarian for injuries incurred at the paws of Palmerston. We plan to follow this cat fight closely, and hope all parties can come to a peaceful resolution. #TeamLarry