Category Archives: Marketing

eileen brown digital marketer amastra

Visual marketing basics–static images and infographics

It is hard to miss the profusion of multimedia formats used to express ideas: emojis, interactive visualizations, games, animated gifs, video and sound clips, and full-length how-to videos. Content, it needs to be brought to life to hook our attention.

Basic static images and infographics can give you a good foundation for your content.

Static images are often compressed to be as small as possible when downloaded in a browser or a phone or chat client. Common Web formats are PNG, GIF, JPG but future technologies may find us viewing files that are even more compressed and efficient.

Sometimes an image with a concise caption convey huge meaning. Visual platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest use static images to capture the attention of the audience. Adding images for visual interest keeps readers returning to the site – and are essential staple for how-to articles taking the reader through recipes or home repair. Cat pictures on the Internet have gone through cliché and come back again. If you use cute imagery, try to ensure that the overwhelming tone of cuteness works with the marketing message and does not distract from it.

The rise of Infographics

Infographics have come to mean both more and less than just a chart to accompany a business article. Content creators now need to produce pictorial and visual representations of facts or data in a way that visually engage, inform, and delight the audience. Infographics can make data sticky in your readers’ minds far more readily than a table of dry statistics. More ambitious infographics are interactive, forcing your users to take actions that reveal the information or take them along a journey in order to understand the point the content provider was trying to make.

Infographics have pitfalls however – they can oversimplify a complex issue, making the resulting impression untruthful, or misleading. They can also be so complicated that the user doesn’t attempt to engage with them. Data in an infographic must have a cited source to be credible, and often an infographic is only as accurate as that source.

The evolution of emoticons

Emojis were first used for email and then text messaging to express emotional content. Emojis are the evolution of a pictorial language that gets across complex ideas in a small picture. They now are not limited to expressing smiley faces; they can be objects, actions, or even animated to make their point. You can create entire tweets or blog posts out of emojis, to comic effect, but take great pains in the crafting.

Without words, there are ways that the message can be ambiguous in ways the digital marketer may not expect. Emojis are useful for online channels where space is at a premium such as SMS messaging, or Twitter. Their brevity implies the humour or cool factor the poster originally wanted to invoke.

Visual marketing techniques are best employed when text or other non-visual techniques would be too cumbersome, and the visual element shortens the time to audience perception of the message. For example, if you want to present a new design for a dress, you could display a person wearing the dress so that the reader understands at a glance how the dress fits and what kind of body the dress was designed for.

Likewise, if a car company wants to show the smooth handling of a luxury car on the road, you could show the car navigating steep mountain turns against a brilliant cobalt sky, rather than recite a table of statistics about brake speeds.

Visual marketing should be a key part of your content strategy and multimedia should be used as much as possible to keep your readers engaged.

Related content:

digital marketing strategy playbook PDPics Eileen Brown Amastra

How to create a digital marketing playbook

The term ‘playbook’ might not be familiar to workers in the UK, but you work at a global company you will probably have heard of the term.

It comes from the world of sport, where a notebook containing descriptions and diagrams of the ‘plays’ of American football teams are used as a set of tactics to gain competitive advantage. Therefore, the term seems very appropriate in marketing. After all you are trying to get ahead of the competition during your campaigns.

Playbooks are used so that all marketers are aware of the goals of the campaign and to reach your objectives for the target audience. Frameworks will help you to plan and execute the marketing campaign for the best results, and learn from best practices.

It is important to create a playbook for your organization. If a campaign goes wrong, you will to access this information – fast. Ideally the playbook will be wiki or other online collaborations software that can be updated as marketplace changes occur. Planning an effective recovery plan, should the worst happens, should be one of the cornerstones of any plan.

High-level goals for your playbook should be:

  • To clearly detail strategy and planning guidance for marketing campaigns
  • To provide industry-specific best practices for digital marketers
  • To provide a comprehensive framework for delivery of marketing campaigns and strategies.
  • To provide frameworks for measurement and optimisation of campaigns#

To create your strategy you need to have a structured approach. You need to know who you are going to target, why you are targeting them, how you will carry out your plan and what technology you will use during the campaign.

Who – the audience. Marketers need to define and segment their audience so that a marketing campaign can be as effective as possible. They need to identify where the audience already engages online and how they prefer to communicate.  The goal of the marketer is to deliver content to inform, post enough interesting and engaging content to encourage engagement, and develop a suitable influencer program to reward and encourage the lovers of the brand.

Marketers need to create personas for the types of people they will target. Not everyone has the same shopping habits as you, so marketing to one type of buying behaviour will not appeal to others with a different approach to purchasing.

Marketers need to analyse how their audience interacts online to determine the best way to connect with them. They also need to find a way to identify influencers in their audience who will spread their message for them. Most importantly, the audience you intend to attract should be at the centre of your marketing campaign.

Why – your marketing objectives. Understanding your audience is vital to the success of the online campaign, but the campaign must be carefully crafted too. Marketers should align their campaigns to the overall goals of the business.  Having a clear objective should enable the marketer to identify exactly when that objective is reached.

How – the joined up approach. A good marketing campaign spans different online channels and optimised as the campaign progresses. The channels could encompass traditional channels such as TV and radio, online channels such as video, or blogs, and embedding a social element, such as a hashtag or search term that the audience could use.

What – choosing the correct tool. In all campaigns, marketers must note that there is not one prescribed formula for success. As digital technologies and social platforms evolve, so must the marketing campaign. Whether that is chatbot technology, AI, voice, or robots, the campaign must be adjusted to best engage the customer.

The playbook should also go onto detail on how you plan to carry out the strategy. For this, you will need a set of frameworks, methodologies and worksheets to organise your tactical approach and deliver your execution plan.

In the next post, we will talk about creating your digital strategy and setting goals…

How to become an Influencer

Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly popular, but not all influencers can be considered equal. In most cases celebrity influencers don’t have as much influence over your consumer decisions as you think. A new wave of influencers are equally important. Micro-influencers – like you and me, are just as likely to influence our peers as celebrities.

So how easy is it to become an influencer?  Here are my top tips for becoming recognised as a credible voice in your industry.

Be a consistent  influencer across platforms:.

Whether Facebook or YouTube, Twitter or Instagram, have a consistent voice. Influencers talk about the same topics, use the same hashtag, post similar pictures. You will start to become recognised for your knowledge in that topic. Whether it is icing cakes, fixing phones, or top-notch welding, the same message reinforces that you are the go-to person for that topic.

Use the same hashtags:

You will be able to use analytics tools to measure the success of a particular hashtag, or campaign across all platforms that you use if you use the same hashtag across Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for example.  You will then be able to get a fuller picture of your breadth reach as an influencer you see your hashtag propagate.

Focus on a few credible platforms.

Try to stick to two or three main channels to broadcast. People will tend to follow influencers across two or three platforms. If Instagram and YouTube are the channels of choice, then make sure you add quality content to them on a regular basis. Frantic bursts of activity followed by long periods of silence don’t tend to work well with media followers.

Influencers use followers and fans to deliver their message for them:

92 percent of people trust word of mouth recommendations  so make sure that your existing followers get fabulous content that they would be happy to propagate further to their network.

Be  an authentic influencer:

Authenticity is a really important part of the news we want to receive from our influencer connections. Facebook has recognised this for a long time, and has honed its algorithm to make sure that you get the news that is most relevant to  what you want to see in your life.

Avoid the single point of failure:

Try not to rely on one channel to get the word out. Google stopped focusing on Hangouts, Facebook has throttled organic reach for brands, and there is no longer any guarantee what your fans will see. Try to spread your message across different channels, so that if your message fails to deliver on one site, then it might get through on another

Get your followers to a place that you own.

Point people to your own blog, your own newsletter, encourage signups on your own site. Then if your chosen site disappears, restricts visibility of your posts or goes behind a paywall, then you have a list of loyal followers that you can move to another platform.

Keep at it. over time, your fans will come. If they like what they see, they will stay…

6 of the most awesome attention grabbing words for your Kickstarter project pitch

Buzzfeed often creates headlines that compel us to click on them. Have a look at these headlines from the last few weeks on the site:

A Mountain Biker Had A Seven-Week-Long Erection After Injuring His Penis

The Couple Who Asked The Internet To Name Their Daughter May Be Regretting It About Now

There Is An App Which Will Quit Your Job For You

15 Whimsically Surreal GIFs To Get Lost In

Stunning Ice Sculptures Grow In The Coldest Weather

What Does Your Favorite Breakfast Food Say About You?

We feel compelled to click the link and discover why mountain biking is related to penis injuries. We really want to know what the daughter has been named. WHICH app will quit my job?  Why are the GIF’s surreal or the ice sculptures stunning? And how is my personality related to breakfast foods?

Compelling headlines grab our attention. Numbers in headlines pique our curiosity. Strange multiples of numbers are more attractive to us than ‘normal’ numbers. A title containing the number 11 titles with 5, 10 or even 15.

We want to discover what the extra number gives us (or, in the case of 9 whimsically surreal items, what the missing item might be).

Superlatives are also useful. The use of ‘best, worst, most, least, awesome, dreadful, surreal, stunning, favourite, hated etc.’ will get more clicks than titles and subtitles that are missing these words.

Clever body text is important too

Use of the right compelling phrases within the body text will also determine whether success eludes you. Researchers Tanushree Mitra and Eric Gilbert at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta looked at the way that pitches for kickstarter funding.

The team looked at a list of 45,815 Kickstarter projects, scraped the data and found that some phrases really helped to get funding. These are the top 14 phrases likely to receive funds:


The phrases least likely to receive funding are:


Images are screenshots from the paper Phrases that Predict Success on Kickstarter

The phrase “even a dollar” throws up some interesting options according to the paper. It appears in the dataset where projects were not funded.

The visualization shows that the most likely phrases are even a dollar short, even a dollar will, even a dollar can, perhaps be perceived as “grovelling for money”.

On the positive side, the phrase “pledgers will receive” and variations on this theme appear most often in projects that are successful in receiving enough money to complete their kickstarter project.

The team also noted that forward looking phrases were more likely to be successful at getting funding than non forward looking phrases.

We like to think we will get something in returns for our pledge, we want to think that the object we covert is rare, exclusive, special, one-off or time limited offer.

People asking for funding just need to tap into that desire…

PS – 6 was not the number of attention grabbing words – it was just a better number than 10 Smile

Image: By Tkgd2007 (Made by myself in Illustrator) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

8 tricks that will make me delete your press release

I am deluged with press releases on a daily basis. And most of them are crap.


They fall into one of three main categories; mass mailings, irrelevant mails or content tosh. 

I spend ages sifting through them trying to understand why on earth the PR person has sent the press release to me. 

Some times the topic is interesting, sometimes the company is interesting.

But less than one in a hundred press releases actually make me want to write about the company—or talk about the announcement that the PR team is trying to make.

I looked through my inbox and I’ve selected some examples  from genuine emails I have received during the past week.

Most of them make me want to lunge for the delete key..

So if you want to make folks sit up and notice your carefully crafted PR missive, try following some of these tips – and avoid these others like the plague…

1: Hi, I hope you are well

So you can’t be bothered to personally address the email to me. you have probably sent this out to everyone in your database but you haven’t worked out how to customise field codes and personalise mails. And do you actually care whether I’m well or not? This smacks of a mass mailing to me and is easy to ignore.

2: “For immediate release”

So you could not be bothered to give me prior notice that your widget/product/service/gadget was launching. You did no segmentation research, no planning and no recipient targeting. You just spammed everyone hoping that if you threw enough mud, some might stick. Yes, your client might be delighted that you sent over 70,000 emails to everyone and his dog – but did any of them actually get read – and more importantly actioned?

Did you also stop to think that bloggers and journalists actually work to a schedule and plan their days and weeks around major news, interviews, events and other work? Messages that land in our inbox demanding that we talk about it instantly will often be pushed to the bottom of the priority list. We, too have our day jobs to do.

3: xxxxxxxx Announce Combat Zone Awareness Training Course For Journalists

A classic example of a PR firm not knowing its target audience. I do not ever go into combat zones, nor do I write about war torn areas, or combat issues. Simply adding a tag to the database entry would make sure I never receive utterly irrelevant information.

Also Please Could You Try Not To Capitalise Every Word In Your Release to Emphasise It More For Your Readers. I am sure that you think it is important, but for me it is really tiring to read.

4: Hey there,I saw that you had a high influence on the Twitter community when talking about social media for businesses

Aah, this is better. The sender of this mail knows that I’m on Twitter and that I talk about social media for business. good. they would have got many more points if they had actually used my name in the email

5: Hi Eilleen, Facebook newsfeeds are fleeting.  Tweets are even faster. 

Aargh, The sender has spelled my name wrong. I won’t read this email any further.

6: Hi Taylor,I wanted to get in touch with some news coming out of xxxxx embargoed for Tomorrow

Big mistake. What is worse than not including my name? Getting it absolutely wrong  — not even a mis-spelling (see point 5) but another name entirely. And why does tomorrow need a capital letter. Is it A Very Important Day (see point 3).

7: Hi Eileen, Just wanted to let you know the embargo is now lifted, so feel free to post your story!

There is only one problem with this. After bombarding me with six or seven emails under embargo, and then finally letting me know I can now post your story, I find that you have emailed ALL of my other colleagues at ZDNet in the hope that someone would post the piece. 

Well someone else did get to publish the story before me. So not only have I wasted two hours writing the story, I’ll now make sure that I never publish anything else from you again as I know you have send each piece to all of your connections and all of my colleagues.

8: Dear Eileen, Please find our a summary of our latest research in the area of mobile networks

This release seems fairly well researched. I have talked about this topic in the past. The email has all of the links I need to round out the piece and make a good story.  The email has quotes I can use and a link to the downloadable research. Nice and succinct and has made me read it down to the end of the article.

At last, I have something I can use.

So, out of 22 releases, I will write about just one (point 8). The rest did not capture my attention, talk about a relevant topic, or address me directly.

What a waste of time, bandwidth and energy. A little bit of effort up front could have changed at least 5 of these points to get a much more positive outcome.

Image credit: Wiertz Sebastien

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Creating successful social media marketing campaigns


Salesforce has an interesting infographic on its blog that describes the anatomy of a successful social marketing campaign.

To puzzle out what makes a campaign successful campaign you need to consider these key factors.

Blog. You have to have a blog. Keeping your customers informed about your activities and sharing relevant, timely useful content is vital to the on-going relationship with your readers.

Facebook. Reproduce your blog content on your Facebook page and capture new leads from people who might not have found your blog by any other methods.

Facebook pages are an extra opportunity to engage your readers. Make sure that your scorecard metrics include both comments written directly on your blog entries and also comments on the Facebook page. You can find the hard link to any Facebook status update by clicking on the time stamp under your name. For example, here’s the hard link to a post I wrote back in March 2012.

Twitter. Twitter and associated tools such as Twitterfeed, Bufferapp and IFTTT are good automated mechanisms to get your blog content out to Twitter without any interaction from you.  Good content and links get retweeted and you are much more likely to get noticed by new followers.

Image and video sharing sites. Instagram, Flickr, Picassa, YouTube, Pinterest and Vimeo all serve to draw eyes back to your campaign. The images do not need to be all about your business.

Content. Focus on your content. Without great content you will get nowhere with your campaign or subsequent engagement.  Content and quality of content is the best gift you can give to your customers.

See the infographic at the Salesforce blog

Credit: FutUndBeidl

Eileen is a social business and social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Do your email newsletters make your customers feel special?

This one certainly does not.  Have a look at these howling errors.



So what is wrong?

The reply address tells me that this is just one of many accounts for this newsletter. The display name could have been customised in a much better way

Capital letters in the title. STOP SHOUTING AT ME!  It never enchants customers.

Dear {First name}} Test your newsletters over and over again across all the different email platforms you can find.  This missing field code is never acceptable.Most newsletter packages have an auto test feature so you can test this before sending any emails out externally

Irrelevant subject matter Vive Unique has no idea at all what my blog is about – Polly Western from Vive Unique should certainly do her research better.

An instant turnoff – and not a credit to the brand at all.  Testing takes minutes and can change customer perception about your brand.  Unfortunately, for me, it will take a long time for me to consider this company in a positive light – no matter how good the product is.

This email was probably sent out to thousands of potential customer from this PR agency, all of which would have had the same reaction to the depersonalised email.  Delete, delete delete.

What a waste of a potentially good campaign that could have brought in sales for the business.

A little preparation, consideration and care before hitting that send button would have made all the difference between a sale or a delete.

Guess which option I chose?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Are we annoyed by Apple and fatigued by Facebook?


Day after day we are bombarded by news about the big tech guys.  Product and feature launches are hyped up to the hilt.  Queues if fans line up to be ‘the first’ for the new product, the first to try the new software features.

Perhaps we are getting tired of all of the hoo-haa.  Perhaps we are not as naïve as marketers think.  Perhaps we can think independently for ourselves.

I saw an infographic a few weeks ago from Sodahead which had polled its users for their thoughts on Facebook and Apple’s product launches.

It seems that I am not the only one that finds the fanfares a little bit over the top.  Others too are becoming a little jaded by the overwhelming presence of these giants. Here are some of the call outs of the poll:

52 per cent of respondents feel that they will spend less time on Facebook in the next year, while only 12 per cent plan on spending more time. 36 per cent think they will spend the same amount of time on Facebook

– 37 per cent of respondents do not check Facebook at all, while 33 per cent check a few times per day, 20 per cent check once or twice a day and 10 per cent are checking constantly

– Moving forward, 73 per cent of respondents believe another social network will eventually eclipse Facebook, while only 27 per cent think that no other social network will ever top Facebook

– In terms of the number of social networks used by respondents, 61 per cent use a few, 23 per cent use just one, nine per cent use “a ton,” while only seven per cent don’t use any social network

– For Apple’s rumoured upcoming product launches, only 28 per cent are interested in the “iPad Mini,” while 72 per cent are already “over it.” Even fewer are excited about the iPhone5, with 26 per cent stating they are interested, while 74 per cent are over it.

Perhaps Facebook and Apple are at saturation now. Everyone has heard of them, most people use the devices or the software.  Perhaps we need something new to get excited about. The next big thing might already be here – but we are so focused on the old, established brands we can’t see the new guys just waiting around the corner to steal the market…

Image Credit: goldberg

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.