Clarkson University- Email Campaign

Distinguishing the Clarkson Difference

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The Challenge

On November 20, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a partnership between New York State, Clarkson University, and The Trudeau Institute to form a world-class biotech enterprise and further establish the region as a premier center of biotechnology research and development. This partnership led to the development of The Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program, which completed its first semester in the summer of 2014. Following the success of the pilot program, Clarkson was challenged to grow The Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program by 40 students for the 2015 Fall Semester.

The Solution

Zone 5 designed an email campaign to target self-identified students interested in the Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program. We developed ‘The Clarkson Difference’, an identity with which the Clarkson Trudeau partnership could identify three unique differentiators (‘Explore. Experience. Environment’) that the program presents to students. Each email was comprised of Zone 5’s copywriting, design and programming. To supplement the email campaign, we also deployed targeted Facebook social advertising in the final week prior to the application deadline as a last push/call to action for submitting applications.

The Results

The email campaign and social advertising worked seamlessly together. Not only did the biology program receive the second highest number of applications out of all Clarkson programs for the fall 2015 semester, 400 applicants were from those who opened all four emails in the campaign. Furthermore, the Facebook advertising initiative resulted in over 3,200 website clicks and reached over 222,000 people.

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Teen Web Trends: What the Data Means to Your Digital Strategy

GWI: Teen Audience ReportThis week, GlobalWebIndex released an audience report on teens (16-19 year olds), looking at:

  • How and why teens are going online
  • Usage of mobile and tablets
  • Engagement with social and gaming platforms
  • How teens are consuming media and content
  • The ways they interact with brands and discover new products
  • Regional- and country-specific trends

I’ll take you through three of their key conclusions and let you know how I am interpreting the trends.

You don’t get engagement without providing something in return

“Teens want brands that reward and entertain them… 56% claim that gifts/rewards increase the likelihood of them advocating a brand online.”

Rewards sounds like a great way to blow up your marketing budget, don’t they? Does this mean you need to host contests and give away swag? Nope. Think hard about what your teen audience would find rewarding, and what you can do to offer it.

Popularity/fame and identity are the two rewarding things that pop into my mind. And those are a lot easier to handle for my service-based clients (as you can’t really giveaway your product, can you?).

You’ll probably want to go beyond social badges and flash mob videos into fresh ideas. If you are a higher education institution, consider creating a Buzzfeed quiz that tells prospective students what famous alumni they would be. Sponsor a class project where computer science students create a game based on an event that happened at your college/university. Go the philanthropic route and donate a tablet to a local pediatric ward, preloaded with a slideshow of get-well wishes from your campus community. There are lots of entertaining and “rewarding” possibilities if you think about them creatively (I’m full of this stuff – so give me a yelp if you are stuck).

A decrease in activity on the large social platforms

“The biggest social platforms all lost active teen users during 2013 (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+)… However the numbers with accounts on these sites remained largely stable…”

Teens aren’t dumping the large social platforms, they are simply using them less. For content marketers, this means your message may be buried even more (not even getting into recent changes behind-the-scenes on Facebook that decide what shows up on walls).

To counter this, frame thematic messaging in your editorial calendars and campaigns to span longer periods of time, to ensure you are capturing the full potential of your audience. Don’t be afraid to rework a message a few different ways, or to repeat your most engaging messages. Also, look at your statistics and analytics in terms of these broader messaging groups, rather than by individual messages, to see the true impact. In short: think horizontal, not just vertical.

Mobile apps and micro-blogs are a solid source of information

“16–19s are less likely than other internet users to turn to platforms such as review sites, price comparison tools, search engines, or brand websites. In contrast, they are ahead of average on using newer channels such as pinboards, Q&A sites, micro-blogs, video/content sites and apps…”

None of Zone 5’s client sectors are in a position to abandon review sites, search engine optimization, or brand websites. And indeed, the data isn’t showing that teens don’t use these things, just that teens hit them up less often than adults. And it’s showing us that despite a decrease in activity on the big social platforms (that is what micro-blogs are – short social media posts), teens still regard it as a valid source of information.

I see two driving forces behind this data trend – one is that teens are just generally more active in a mobile/micro-blog space, so it makes sense that they would look there, and the other is that they are seeking peer-validated, truthful information in messages that haven’t been run through the PR office.

The message here is that it would be ideal to invest in those spaces where the un-sanitized truth can be found quickly. And I don’t mean take those spaces over with top-down brand messaging; I mean start living up to and scaling your brand. Communications is more de-centralized than ever, in terms of channels, which means you have to be more centralized than ever in terms of your brand’s messages. If all your messengers (professional or not) are aware of, agree with, and are focused on your brand strategy, you will be in great shape.

There is a lot more to discuss when it comes to interpreting teen web trends, and what it means to your industry, but I hope this post was a good start. You can download your own free summary of the GlobalWebIndex report or get membership for the full version.

Follow Zone 5’s New Spotlight Pages on LinkedIn

Are you ready for the next stage of professional digital networking? Zone 5 has launched four new spotlight pages on LinkedIn to highlight our sectors. So if you are interested in connecting with our sector practice leaders and keeping up with industry-specific communications & marketing trends, give these pages a follow.

Higher Education:
Zone 5 Higher Education Sector on LinkedIn

Zone 5 Healthcare Sector on LinkedIn

Zone 5 Technology/Energy Sector on LinkedIn

Zone 5Not For Profit Sector on LinkedIn

Twitter With Ogden, An Exercise in Tweeting for a Global Audience

Charles Kay OgdenI was reading about Ogden’s Basic English the other day. This is a set of 850 words, created with the purpose of making communication easier between people from different countries.

Basic English was the most popular back after WWII, but it is still highly influential today in terms of new language sets and standards for news broadcasting (Special English), technical manuals (Simplified Technical English), and even religious evangelism.

“Well, why not Twitter?” I thought.

With more and more organizations using Twitter to reach a global audience, I thought it might be worth looking into these sets of “simplified English” as a source of common words that stand the best chance of being understood by people with a working knowledge of English. So many clients approach us that want to talk to a diverse group of people, but don’t have the resources to get everything translated.

Testing it Out

As a test I decided to rewrite mine and Zone 5’s recent tweets using just words from this set. How did I do?

Picture making on a twist turn vessel = able act now (Original Tweet)

Happy with the @NYTVFRC #happymachineman motion picture story thing now! (Original Tweet)

Happy #openknowledgeday! Wise experience at work now! (Original Tweet)

Happy to get –> @tfpdunn <– to the Zone 5 company! (Original Tweet)

Happy respect to @WorkingPictures for industry approval for motion picture of @bkhospital! #AlbanyAdvertisement (Original Tweet)

I think some of that is pretty ridiculous. My biggest complaint is that the word set seems arbitrary and dated. Perhaps literal “translation” from a set of words decided in the 30s isn’t the way to go here. But going through this exercise exposed a few points. Maybe the best way to think about this is to concentrate on simplified language principles. Technical communicator Herbert Kaiser said it well in his article about the topic:

It is a very simple matter really: A language is guided by a few rules… The principles of language are based on the insights gained from research into comprehension. Information that is structured according to specific rules and recipient-oriented is understood better by the user.

Language Principles to Think About

The following principles jumped out at me, as affecting my writing style. If I keep them top of mind when I write my tweets, I think I could go a long way in being understood by a broader audience.

English verbs readily confuse people.

Simplified Technical English recommends avoiding –ing verbs (gerunds) and vague auxiliary verbs (helping verbs). Keeping sentences in the active voice generally solves this, and is considered a best writing practice anyway. So this one was no problem. Thank you journalism school.

Ogden took it way further and condensed verb usage to 100 “operations” words. In the examples above, I often relied on “thing” verbs that could be nouns to make a point, which was very clunky. But it did make me rethink my verb choices.

Calling out the present tense is generally unnecessary.

I was surprised at how often my tweets referenced a time frame, and how often that time frame was “now.” It takes up extra characters and rarely needs to be there. If it needs to be done (as in my OpenDataDay example), keep it simple.

Happy much?

This is less a language principle and more a comment on my tendency to share enthusiasm by literally calling it out. Showing rather than telling can be difficult with so few characters, and I do work for a marketing firm, but those are no excuse. I could waste less space telling people how I feel (and how they should feel) and convey the awesomeness of the message instead.

Try it For Yourself

Try drafting a few tweets in a simplified way. What issues came up for you? Will you use certain principles going forward when you want to reach a global audience? Let us know.

Maybe I’ll work on drafting a blog post in a simplified way, the next time I feel ambitious. In the meantime, I’ll continue learning about these systems and how I can apply them to my clients’ needs.

Further reading:

Leveraging the YouTube Creator Playbook

Digital marketers often feel like a butterfly in a windstorm when it comes to navigating the algorithmic and regulatory environment of social media. Today’s helpful suggestion may become tomorrow’s mandate. As marketing professionals, we are tasked with pursuing digital marketing strategies that can withstand the test of time. We typically achieve this by crafting compelling stories in a variety of mediums, and using this content in the appropriate way on each social media channel.

The Social Media Content Challenge

Although most brands have embraced content marketing as a primary driver of social media marketing success, many are still in the dark on the right approach. Varied levels of transparency or definiteness on best practices from the social media platform itself can add to this challenge. Even more frustrating for businesses is creating content that translates well across platforms and resonates with target audiences.

So it’s little wonder that I sat up straight when Google released the YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands. The first YouTube Creator Playbook, released in 2011, was a general guide for all YouTube content creators. Although helpful, it did not address the specific challenges faced by brands. The latest brand-specific guide is a rare gift from the Google gods and can positively impact your digital marketing efforts across various channels. You should be sitting up straight, too.

Why You Should Care About YouTube

Ok, so you’ve never uploaded a YouTube video in your life and don’t think the platform is appropriate for your brand. I’d challenge you to rethink your stance. As the second largest search engine in the world, it is the perfect mixture of social media and search marketing.

YouTube as a search tool

YouTube as a search tool

YouTube as a content delivery system

YouTube as a content delivery system

YouTube as a driver of social engagement

YouTube as a driver of social engagement

YouTube as a driver of ongoing social engagement

YouTube as a driver of ongoing social engagement

Regardless of your interest in curating video content, you should view YouTube as an important marketing test bed. What works well in terms of content on YouTube can likely be translated to either the social or search marketing realm.

Scraping the Best from the YouTube Creator Playbook

So now that you’re (hopefully) convinced, time to dig into the meat of the Playbook. It’s a great visual guide, but if you’re looking for the highlights, we’re here to help:

Section 1: Content Marketing as Part of Your Brand Strategy

  • Combine your brand’s identity and positioning with user intent and interests to create content that inspires, educates, and entertains
  • Create complementary content that fall into the hygiene (e.g. – customer-focused how-tos and product demos), hub (e.g. – vertically-focused product positioning), or hero content (e.g. – product launches or recognition within your industry) framework
  • Store your marketing content in a centralized, easy to access location, remain consistent in your content delivery, and boost your content’s reach through an integrated outreach campaign
  • Benchmark success against your industry and set metrics for performance

Section 2: The 10 Fundamentals of a Creative Strategy on YouTube

  • Create easy to share content
  • Collaborate with YouTube content producers who are already reaching your target audience
  • Center content on trending topics (within and outside your industry)
  • Make your content accessible and understandable to unfamiliar audiences
  • Be consistent with formats, schedule, elements, and voice
  • Target your audience by studying competitor user engagement trends
  • Create timeless content that can be re-purposed over the span of your campaign
  • Ask for feedback and respond to viewer comments
  • Use viewer comments or questions as fodder for your next video
  • Feature real people within your organization rather than paid actors or stock footage

Section 3: Schedule Your Content

  • Build a content calendar for predictable and ongoing content
  • Plan for larger campaigns for hub content types
  • Aim for one to two hero content types throughout the year for a big push

Section 4: Optimize Your Content

  • Use annotations to create calls-to-action in your video
  • Use playlists to group together similar content types
  • Choose thumbnails that represent the primary theme and message of your video
  • Use metadata such as tags and descriptions to attach keyword-rich identifiers to your content

Section 5: Promote Your Content With Paid Media

  • Boost the visibility of your content with a paid campaign
  • Identify the advertising tactic within the platform’s media kit that best highlights your content type
  • Use the platform’s analytics dashboard to monitor campaign progress and make adjustments as needed
  • Start with a broad campaign then refine the target audience based on campaign engagement
  • Define success on a pre-determined conversion metric (e.g. – clicks to website, channel subscribers, number of shares)

Section 6: Amplify Your Content With Social

  • Use the platform’s built-in analytics to identify top users and fans
  • Highlight users who consistently interact with your content in a positive way
  • Respond to comments and feedback using a “human,” genuine voice
  • Link Youtube and Google+ to access “top fans” data

Section 7: Measurement

  • Identify one key metric within the following categories: audience, expression, and participation
  • Segment performance based on media type: paid, owned (i.e. – organic), and earned (i.e. – PR and social sharing)

Again, the Playbook warrants a thorough read over a cup of tea, but these highlights can get you started. How would you apply these principles across other digital marketing channels?