Mastering MailChimp

Email – it’s the glue that holds our digital communications together.  It’s part of our standard business cards and contact information, and it’s how we reach millions of people all around the world. Making international communications, and sending out various elements of information to customers easier, we left our email system as it was. That is until an email marketing company came along and made some changes to how we interact with our customer base and engage them in our businesses.

MailChimp has grown into the leader of the email pack in the concrete jungle, becoming the world’s leading email marketing platform. MailChimp’s primary functionality is its newsletters and how you can customise their templates and make your email newsletters truly personal.

Nothing beats getting to know a new program than by having the time to play around with it and figure everything out; but sometimes all we need is some tips on how to get started and then go on to mastering another skill. We’ve gone out to find the best tips and tricks to take note of the next time you want to use MailChimp to send out another awesome newsletter:

  • Segment your list for targeted marketing; Creating marketing segments is a great solution for making sure your audience is receiving the content that appeals to them. Not every user likes everything your business has to offer and you don’t want to bombard them with emails that don’t appeal to them.
  • Create and import your subscriber list; successful email marketing starts with your subscriber list. Open rates, click through rates, and most importantly – results – are all directly impacted by who is receiving and taking action on your emails.
  • Utilise the drag and drop email templates; MailChimp’s drag and drop editor is a great way to avoid code and build a nice-looking HTML email template.
  • Make use of the preview and test tool; Prior to sending your campaign, it’s crucial to use MailChimp’s Preview and Test tool to see if your email is optimised for mobile devices. This simple Preview tool has saved me many times. The last thing you want to do is send an email that can’t be read on a mobile device.
  • Set the time with the time optimisation feature; MailChimp has created a tool that analyses your subscriber click activity history to see when they’re typically the most engaged in your campaigns. MailChimp then compares that data to every other subscriber in your list. From this information, the Send Time Optimisation feature is able to calculate the time when subscribers on your list are most likely to interact with your campaigns.

Happy mailing!

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina

Snap, Crackle and Pop – What’s so Cool about Snapchat?

Technology has opened the world to new opportunities and possibilities, and given us the freedom to experiment with new ways of communicating with each other. As much as we’re trend setters, we love to follow trends and hop on the bandwagon of whatever’s ‘in-the-now’. Our favourite apps like Twitter and Instagram serve the purpose of keeping us informed in 140 characters or less, and showcasing our photography skills with filtered pictures of our daily adventures. But what about Snapchat?

The app, known by its infamous ghost icon, became our new accessory in 2011 and made taking selfies a lot more fun. Designed to establish ‘in-the-moment’ conversations, with messages that disappear and photo stories that only last for 24 hours, Snapchat has restructured the way we communicate with friends once again.

We, in the younger generations, have found a new and creative way of letting friends know what we’re up to, where we are, and (this is mostly the case) how we’re simply passing the time. With filters, such as dog ears and flower headbands, and location tags, you’d be amazed at how much faster the time flies.

Here are our top five picks for why Snapchat is cool:

  1. Custom and creative; you can take a picture of something in front of you or a selfie and write a caption to it or add some emojis to express your Snap-happy moment, which makes the process of sharing an experience even more personal
  2. Filters; take a break from the everyday look and try a filter of a dog, complete with folded ears and a button-cute nose, to brighten up your day. Businesses make use of these features too, with the likes of McDonald’s creating interactive filters – to remind you of the burger and fries they have just down the road…
  3. Location tags; wherever you might find yourself, you can check whether there’s a location tag for the city you’re in to let friends know where you’ve travelled off to – you can find these when you take a snap and swipe left
  4. Self-destruct timers; this sounds a lot more dangerous than it really is. Instead of sending someone a photo they can go back and look at whenever they want, you can set a time for how long someone can view the picture – which gives Snapchat its feeling of inconsequentiality; shared for only a fleeting moment
  5. To send, or not to send; you get to choose who you send your Snaps to from the in-app contact list – after all, you wouldn’t want to be sending those goofy pics off to the wrong person…

These are just some of the awesome things Snapchat gives you the freedom to get creative with. Let us know what you like about Snapchat; and what better way to do that than on Snapchat itself!

You can find us Wordy Birds on Snapchat with the following username or by scanning the snapcode:

wordy-bird-snapcode

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

What’s All the Hype about SEOs and what does it mean?

In today’s technology-focused world everything has its own term, abbreviation and jargon. There are all these new words and their associated confusion, that we barely keep track of all of them. One of the most popular ones is SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation. In its simplest terms, an SEO is a process used to increase traffic to your website through search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo (although, who still uses Bing?). This makes SEOs fine tuned to keywords or buzzwords, which are commonly searched for on the Internet. The more of these your website has, the better and easier it will be for people to find you online.

So what’s the hype about this little abbreviation? As the business world has evolved, so have ways of reaching new and existing clients. Websites are a core staple of any business model now, and so the best way to get organic traffic to your website is through SEOs, which come from your content; things such as product information, blogs and links. In a previous blog, we talked about the importance of updating your website content to keep it fresh and full of new keywords. Keeping these up to date is is what helps to use your website SEOs better.

However, it’s important to note that making the content relevant to your specific audience, and giving them plenty of new materials to read is what drives returning visitors. This is where embedded links are part of a successful SEO campaign. These links are probably the single most important factor toward ranking for competitive search terms, and they matter just as much to established websites as to brand-new ones.   

It’s all about being seen so people out there know what your business does, and how it can make their lives better. We all want to attract the right crowd, which is going to want to look at your website and follow the story through high-resolution pictures, read all the information written up, and follow the extra links to more great content. This concept adds to the hype of what SEOs are and what they’re used for. They are the building block of a business’s strategy to reach the right people who know what they’re looking for.

Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

Making Lettered Pancakes this Shrove Tuesday!

Tomorrow is February 28th – a special holiday where our favourite type of food can be consumed in unlimited amounts; pancakes!

We all love our delicious food; it’s what gives our lives meaning after a long day at work. So it’s only fitting that we make plenty of special occasions around the dinner table with the people we want share it all with. Aside from the usual festivities of Easter and Christmas, and their associated food comas, today’s another day where we can all be free to enjoy every food category that apparently is ‘bad’ for us – Shrove Tuesday!

The tradition of Fat Tuesday (I mean Shrove Tuesday) began many centuries ago and is celebrated every year before the start of Lent in the lead-up to Easter. But what have pancakes got to do with this? The tradition of eating pancakes on this particular Tuesday originated as a way to use up ingredients including butter, milk and eggs that were not supposed to be eaten and would go bad during the period of Lent.

So even though this plentiful day started out as a practical way of making sure no cooking ingredients went to waste, we’re glad that it turned into a pancake holiday we can all celebrate with plenty of maple syrup. The variety of pancakes these days, from pikelets to crepes, gives us plenty of choices to devour. But what if you want to turn the classic pancake into a different shape? Lettered pancakes make things even more fun!

The trick to create edible letters is to use a squeeze bottle. Using one makes it easier to write in the pan and get the neatest looking edible alphabet you could hope for. You can go and experiment in the kitchen, or take note from the multiple recipes that are out there. We’ve gone out and found one that is simple, easy to follow and most importantly delivers delicious results:

Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon white sugar
– 1 1/4 cups milk
– 1 egg

Directions:
1. Brush griddle or skillet with vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray; heat griddle to 190°C or heat skillet over medium heat.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

3. If desired, pour 1/2 cup batter into plastic squeeze bottle with narrow opening to use for making letters. Squeeze batter from bottle onto hot oiled griddle to form letters. Cook until golden brown.

In three easy steps you’ll eat your way to alphabetical bliss!

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

 

 

Copywriting cliches and buzzwords – ugh!

We’ve all been there, reaching for the most common expressions we could think of; scrambling for overused buzzwords and clichés. It’s easier than it should be. The trick is to source just the right amount, as many key words are necessary for things such as SEOs for websites and their content. In the world of copywriting there are a set of known rules which should be kept in mind when reaching out to your target audience. But I think this quote by Steve Harrison, from his book How to do Better Creative Work, really sums up what we need to look out for:

“If you tend to talk in business buzzwords and marketing clichés, try not to – they betray the fact that you don’t really know what you’re talking about. By using these pre-packaged phrases you are avoiding thinking about what it is that you really want to say.”

Only because these are easy to reach for doesn’t make them the ideal solution for the job. The key element to keep in mind, is figuring out the types of content your audience wants and the best way to deliver that content to them in an interesting and engaging way. This is your time to show what you offer and shine; wouldn’t you want to avoid clichés from this spotlight?

Here are some of the top ten overused buzzwords and clichés that have the unfortunate power of hindering your writing and our thoughts on their existence:

1. Awesome; just another replacement for ‘cool’

2. Big picture; two words for ‘holistic’

3. Get your creative juices flowing; just – no

4. Hit the ground running; how many times have we heard this one?

5. Multi-tasking; managers love the idea of this, but in reality it doesn’t really exist

6. Push the envelope; are you able to do that with an e-mail?

7. Raise the bar; of course we want to keep climbing the ladder of success…

8. Go the extra mile; or the extra kilometre, depending on your favourite metric system

9. Take it to the next level; go back to the drawing board and take it up a notch

10. Think outside the box; broaden the horizon of your mind and come up with a better idea – we get it

The list could go on and on, of course; there’s just too many of them.

Thanks to kudosmedia.com.au, kickamarketing.com, and thecopycollective.com for the heads up on clichés.

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

I found love – with books

Why do we read? Why do we pick up a volume and get a thrill out of having the touch of bound paper between our hands, as we turn each page in anticipation? Why do we spend hours meandering the endless shelves of bookstores, and get swept away in the sea of paperback and hard covers?

We escape to other world beyond our own and beyond our day-to- day imagination. We let ourselves get carried away in the wonderful cocktail of feelings that books bring into our lives. They make us dreamers, deep thinkers, adventurers, detectives, romantics…

In pursuit of happiness among the ongoing ribbons of words, either bound or digitally in a Kindle, I found these ten books each in their own right a key into another world; one where I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them:

1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Another great book by an exceptional favourite, Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers with incredible empathy, intelligence and candour.

2. Today Will be Different by Maria Semple

When I saw this book cover, I knew it would be an interesting read. Today Will be Different is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

3. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty is a house-hold name; and she does it again in a powerful way. She takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyers

We all know this has been turned into a movie; but we also know that books are better and deeper than movies. Me Before You is a heart-rending tale of Louisa, a young woman who finds herself in a predicament: how to convince Will, a young paralysed man in her care, that he has something to live for.

5. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Ah, Lauren Graham; can we ever get enough of her? She’s always been our favourite kindred spirit since Gilmore Girls, and parent from Parenthood. And now she’s written something for us to enjoy time and time again! This book is her witty, charming, and hilariously relatable debut novel and New York Times bestseller about a struggling young actress trying to get ahead, and keep it together, in New York City. Aren’t we all struggling, in the city of our dreams?

6. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

This book catches your attention because it’s different. The Natural Way of Things is a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. Most of all, it is the story of two friends, their sisterly love and courage.

7. The Life-Writer by David Constantine

With a truthfully sombre tone, Constantine’s passionate tale of grief and rediscovery marks only the second foray into novel writing for an author whose short fiction has won international acclaim. A great work of literature, he reminds us, is never finished, it is ‘a living and moving thing, alive in all its parts in every fibre’, designed to be inexhaustible and to outlive. As Katrin’s journey proves, the lives of those we love are similarly inexhaustible, they keep on offering up new revelations, possessing the people they leave behind, and forever needing to be re-written.

8. Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

His name says it all; his writing sparks something in us with each novel. #1 New York Times bestselling author Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards. This is a powerful story of unconditional love, not only between these two characters but also with the family members that surround them. Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, but it’s how you take each step forward, how you mend or break bonds, that can define your future.

9. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Music is another way we escape and something that influences us all on a personal level. Swing Time is a dazzlingly energetic and deeply human story about friendship and music and stubborn roots; about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

10. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

At first I thought it read Bittersweet, only for me to do a double-take and see the word flipped. Sweetbitter is a lush, raw, thrilling novel of the senses about a year in the life of a uniquely beguiling young woman, set in the wild, alluring world of a famous downtown New York restaurant. It’s a story of discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment. What could be better?

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

Why I love what I do and why you should too

It’s February, and that means love is in the air. Not only is Valentine’s Day just around the corner, but we’re also all feeling loved up about the many wonderful things in our lives.

There’s this one quote I always try to remember whenever I’m having a slow day:

“Do what you love, love what you do”.

If you truly believe this, then I think any job you will have or career path you’ll pursue, success will follow. We always hear about how important it is to do something that you enjoy; that way half of the time it doesn’t feel like work. Finding out the right job for you is like finding a pair of shoes that fit perfectly, or that missing puzzle piece.

However, there are still some people who would rather say that finding a job you love is age-old advice; even though Confucius has manifested this prolific notion that has stood the test of time – because that’s what love can do:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be like this all the time? Steve Jobs also believed in this, saying:

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do”.

What we do is something that allows us to be creative, and explore the world from many different angles. What’s not to love; the flexibility, the ability to explore, and most importantly write something people will enjoy reading?

Everyone has as different journey to their successes; yet whatever shape their path is, or whichever detours it takes, everyone is able to love what they do or pursue what they really want to do – you too!

Thanks to forbes.com for the extra quotes.