Hello, World.

SparkIf you know me, you know it looks a little different around here. Until today, I had the URL pointed at my old site, Rachel’s Lunch.

As a college sophomore, I started Rachel’s Lunch on a lark. I needed a way to blow off steam, and for a while, it was fun. Then, maybe due to the pressure of so many other food bloggers taking gorgeous photos and writing click-baitey titles and making a cornucopia of festive holiday recipes, it got to be a little less fun. Instead of a hobby, it became a chore, and then something I just started to neglect.

But the thing is, I enjoy writing and sharing what moves me, and though I may have lost interest in food blogging, I definitely didn’t lose interest in blogging. That being said, I haven’t lost interest in food, either; it’s just that I’ve got a lot of other interests that I want to blither about too.

They say a successful blog has a focus and gets posted on a schedule. A successful blogger culls their audience and creates relationships and treats their blog like a business.

But, where’s the fun in that?

With this blog, I’m dialing it back and keeping it simple. I’d like for you to read it, which is why I’m posting it on the World Wide Web and not keeping it in my diary. But that doesn’t mean I want a lifestyle blog franchise deal, with sponsored posts and professional photos and polished advertorials masquerading as my opinions.

So, I hope you enjoy this scaled-back, keep-it-simple, bare-bones approach to blogging. I’m interested in marketing, so sometimes I’ll post about that. I’m interested in food and travel and books and movies, just like everyone else, so instead of categorizing my blog as one thing or another, I’ll just leave it at this: Quotidiana. The everyday things: The ordinary, the mundane, and perhaps sometimes inane. I’ll post when I feel like it, and you can read it when you feel like it.

How about that?

Email Marketing: Anatomy of a Subject Line

The importance of email marketing has been debated over the past few years, but most people still agree that it’s one of the best ways to connect with your customer. That said, as a consumer during the Christmas season, I hate email marketing. My inbox has been inundated, and it’s brought to mind some best practices I try to enact when I’m on the other side of the screen.

The subject line
It’s obviously important: A good subject line means your message is opened; a bad or even mediocre one means it’s sent to the trash folder. Even so, it’s often an afterthought. I’m as guilty as anyone: You spend so much time on the content development and building your HTML email and making it pretty, and then you get to the subject line and it’s tempting to just bang something out quickly. Don’t do it!

The emails I delete without opening

  • The ones that come too frequently: If I get an email from your company every day, or worse, multiple times a day? I’m deleting them all, and I’m unsubscribing from your list. I don’t care how good your subject lines are.
  • Repetitive subject lines: This seems to happen a lot with job boards, apartment listings, and similar sites. Maybe they think they don’t have to try very hard, because if you’re subscribed to a job site, chances are you’ll want to open the emails and won’t need much convincing. I don’t like them because they just don’t seem very human — and they’re probably not. I’m sure these are automated messages that just get sent out based on job field and location, but still.

What makes an irresistible subject line?
This is going to make me sound a little crazy, but some of my favorite emails are from Pack, every crazy dog person’s favorite social networking site. They send me periodic newsletters, and I always open them because of their kooky subject lines. One memorable one that I’ve lost to the email ether just said:

Dogs dogs dogs dogs dogs dogs dogs dogs dogs!

Some others include little hearts, and…well, take a look:

dogs

You can see I didn’t open one about a new Rescues program, but I did open the email right below which is actually about the same thing. It appealed to me in early December as the onslaught of Christmas campaigns started to flood my inbox: Instead of using every technique under the sun to try and get me to buy something, here’s an email telling me to put my wallet away. Refreshing! (Spoiler alert: There were lots of cute dog pictures in the email.)

Pack knows their audience: We’re crazy dog people, and we will be spoken to like crazy dog people. Even so, Pack varies their subject lines and use a few different categories:

  • Informative: “Introducing our new Pack Rescues program.”
  • Click-baity: “There are cute dogs in here, you know.” How could I not open this email?
  • Cutesy: Without the little heart, The Pack Dog Newsletter would be boring. With the heart, it becomes irresistibly cute.
  • Situational/seasonal: “Please, put your wallets away” grabs attention because Pack not only doesn’t normally ask for money, but they also sent this during prime Christmas marketing season.
  • Funny: I laughed out loud when I saw the “Dogs dogs dogs dogs…” email. “Doooooogs!” above is serving a similar function.

Varying your tone and style of subject line increases your chances for engagement. But, if you don’t think all of these types would be appropriate for your business (I don’t think I’d take too kindly to a funny message from my bank, for example), A/B testing subject lines would be a good way to figure out what tone and style resonates best with your audience.

Something I haven’t seen from Pack that I find to be hit-and-miss is personalization. Of course, it’s been proven to be very effective, but I think some companies are a little too flippant with my name — or maybe that’s just me. That’s the hard part about marketing, right? The concepts are pretty simple, but implementing them takes skill and tact.

Helpful resources for email marketing
A MailKimp…chimp email marketing field guide
And, MailChimp’s invaluable CSS inliner tool
Copyblogger’s email marketing ebook

 

Cults and today’s brands

Are modern brands taking notes from cults? An article by Derek Thompson in this month’s Atlantic suggests as much. Creepy? Yes. But, there’s still something to be learned, I think. The author quotes Douglas Atkin, who says, “The common belief is that people join cults to conform…Actually, the very opposite is true. They join to become more individual.” Harnessing this insight has proved successful for a number of companies.

The article has certainly generated some visceral responses on both sides of the issue. So, is it creepy, or advice worth taking? Read it here.

Branding Frozen and the Power of Good (and Relatable) Storytelling

This whole feminism thing is really taking off lately.

Sure, some people still shy away from the “F” word, but let’s face it. Major news sites and media companies have special channels dedicated to women’s interest pieces, and they’re talking about more than the latest hair trends and sex tips: There are real, important conversations happening about how to be successful in our careers and family lives, taking on misogyny in the untouchable world of Silicon Valley bro culture, and how to get men involved in the fight for equal rights.

Even Disney, prime purveyor of the princess myth, is on board. Lately Disney has been making an effort to get away from the whole damsel in distress trope, and I don’t need to tell you that with Frozen they really hit the nail on the head. Embracing the idea of empowering, strong female characters isn’t just keeping up with the times, it’s good for business.

Frozen

In addition to getting major buy-in from us modern ladies who don’t put all of our stock in whether or not the shoe fits, Disney has turned Frozen in to a major branding opportunity. In the days where brand loyalty is said to be in decline, Frozen has succeeded and then some. That’s thanks, according to the author of a recent New York Times piece, to the quality of the story. Read it and see what you think. Although most marketers aren’t writing stories that will become full-length blockbusters, it still stands to reason that a good story goes a long way in creating a good brand.

Now, I’m thinking about how I can integrate effective, relatable storytelling into my daily life as a marketer.