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Do More With Less

I have been working as an advertising account executive for over 17 years, and over that time a lot has changed. Marketing budgets have shrunk, while both the availability of advertising options for marketers and performance expectations for each marketing campaign from upper management have grown.

So what’s a marketer to do? Here are a few tips to consider:

Stick with those advertising options that have worked best for you in the past, and identify those marketing efforts that have not gone as well. The reason that it’s so important  to identify those advertising efforts that did not go well is that it should motivate you to do one of two things: either change the design and messaging in the creative and give that media option another try, or use the money that is being spent on the unproductive form of advertising and apply those precious marketing dollars to a new media ad option.

Be clear on your campaign focus. What’s the purpose of your ad? Are you looking to build your brand awareness? Are you looking to educate the marketplace to features and benefits of your product that offer something new? Are you looking for direct response and sales?

Think integrated. With so many different types of advertising vehicles available, marketing campaigns that produce the greatest results tend to have more “points of connection” to the targeted audiences they want to reach: Google ad words, banners, eBlasts, print, mobile, social media, newsletters, etc.

Go slow. It is understandable that marketers get excited about their products and services, but try to temper this enthusiasm with a deliberate marketing campaign that is ever-improving and that builds on finding those areas of success (media outlet, design message, product offer, etc.).

Test and measure. Whenever possible, look to test different versions of your ad, evaluating which type of media works best  and then measuring the performance of which design/message does best. But keep in mind that success in some types of advertising, such as print ads, can be hard to quantify. It does not mean these types of ads have no value. They just need to be considered in a different way. Who scores touchdowns on a football team? Most often, it is going to be a wide receiver, or a running back, or occasionally a quarterback. So does that mean that a football team should get rid of the offensive lineman because they don’t directly produce any touchdowns? Of course not, that would be foolish. The offensive lineman provide time for the quarterback and the offensive coach to run their various offensive plays. They contribute in an important, indirect way. Print ads can offer that same kind of indirect marketing campaign foundation to help make your digital direct response ads pay off. Think team (integrated media campaign) when it comes to your marketing plans.

Work with a rep and a media company you trust. Build on long-term relationships where you can walk with trusted partners through the changing advertising landscape

Walter is a veteran sales manager with a knack for finding win-win solutions.

Posted in Advertising Tips


Who Tells Your Story?

Retro pitch man in black and white from a 1950's era TV commercial

Advertising has plenty of tried and true mantras—”you have to spend money to make money,” or, “make them an offer they can’t refuse”—but there is an important truth that all these popular tips and tricks aren’t quite grasping: people are aching for story! So how can you incorporate story into everything you do as an advertiser? Native advertising and “advertorials” could be a great way to give your product or services a narrative feel, but that’s just a start. Ask: What’s the story behind what you’re selling? How can you break down the walls between marketer and consumer? How can you reveal your humanity as an advertiser? With a constant inundation of products and services, it is easy to scroll right past an ad; story-driven media always catches more eyes.

Take a hint from entrepreneur Joy Mangano, whose story you may recognize from the recent Academy Award-nominated movie “Joy.” She made a product that improved her everyday life as a busy mom, homeowner, and employee. She wanted to sell it to others because she knew it would eliminate some of their everyday struggles, as well. She sold her “miracle mop,” her most notorious invention, to QVC. The interesting piece of the story is that initially product sales were low, until QVC let her on the show to sell the mop herself. No one else could sell her product like she could. When she presented her story of how and why she made the mop, her invention practically sold itself!

If you really want people to buy your product, you have to bring them into a story. Stories give us a context in which to understand ourselves and the world around us. Advertising is a perfect opportunity to tell yours—make the most of it.

Kirsten Privett is our email operation ringmaster, who oversees all house Newsletter and Eblast production.

Posted in Advertising Tips


7 Tips for More Effective E-blasts

Email marketing tips

Sending out promotional emails can be a tricky task. Appealing to the audience and capturing as many clicks as possible requires careful thought and testing. Try some of these simple tips to improve your open and click-through rates and effectively promote your products and services.

  1. Subject line appeal. Your subject line is the reader’s first impression if you use email. Keep it short and simple, but interesting. Ask a question or leave it open-ended to encourage the reader to open the email. Try to keep your subject line under 50 characters.
  2. Avoid looking like spam. Many email clients are now extremely effective at filtering spam out of inboxes, but avoiding trigger words in your subject line doesn’t hurt. Additionally, be sure the content of your email is honest and clear. Don’t offer something you can’t deliver or ask for personal information without providing a solid privacy policy.
  3. Have a clear all to action. What is the main action you want the audience to take? Download a free resource? Preorder a book? Purchase a Bible study? Make sure your desired action is clear, and provide an easy way for the reader to respond.
  4. Include a special offer. Get the reader excited by offering something new, exclusive, free, or at a discount.
  5. Use a clean design. Don’t clutter the e-blast with too much text or small images. Keep the design clean, simple, and attention-grabbing. Using one full image or a series of images is an easy way to offer an appealing, clean design and make the email user-friendly.
  6. Make links easy to click. Use buttons and images to encourage readers to click. Keep them near the top of the email and don’t bury your links in text or at the very bottom of your email. Include the links multiple times so the readers don’t have to search for them.
  7. Target to a specific audience. Send to an audience who will already have an interest in the type of product you’re offering for easy clicks.

Taking some of these basic steps can quickly improve your e-blasts, and continuing to test and adjust over time will offer valuable date for your future mailings.

 

Posted in Advertising Tips, Email Marketing


And the Award(s) Go To…

Each spring, the Evangelical Press Association caps off its annual convention by honoring winners of their Awards of Excellence and Higher Goals Awards, honoring excellence in overall publication quality and for achievements in individual editorial and design categories. At this year’s gathering in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 10 different publications of Christianity Today took home 45 awards, across 29 categories.

Harold Smith, President and CEO of Christianity Today, shared his thoughts on the good news, “Yes, it’s always great to be recognized in such a way by peers you admire. But it’s doubly thrilling to have a team that’s worked so hard in such a challenging industry to be so lauded for their work across ever-changing platforms. It’s but another reason why I thank God regularly for the men and women he’s drawn to this ministry.”

Awards of Excellence, given across five categories, went to Leadership JournalChurch Law & Tax Report, ManagingYourChurch.com, SmallGroups.com, ChurchLawAndTax.com, Christianity TodayBooks & CultureChristianity Today OnlineThe Behemoth, TodaysChristianWoman.com, and Church Finance Today.

In the Higher Goals Awards, Christianity Today‘s “Ponder Christian Soldiers” series, which focused on the experience of Christian soldiers, took home first place in the Article Series category, and the Today’s Christian Woman article “3 Lies We Believe About the Bible” won first for Biblical Exposition. “Prayer Before Reading St. Mark’s Gospel,” a poem in a series of four published in Books & Culture shortly after poet Brett Foster’s death, was awarded first place in Poetry.

This is just a glimpse of the award-winning work done by the writers, editors, designers, and production staff involved in the publication of Christianity Today publications. For a complete list of Christianity Today’s 2016 awards, go here.

Laura Leonard is managing editor of IgniteYourFaith.com, ChristianCollegeGuide.net, and SeminaryGradSchool.com, as well as the special advertising sections in Christianity Today magazine.

Posted in Company News


Behold, the Power of Words!

As an editor, I certainly believe that language is powerful. The right words, in the right order (with the right punctuation, of course) can truly inspire people to do all kinds of things.

One of the most powerful ways marketers can harness the power of words is through a clear, direct call to action. This is no easy feat. So when I came across this blog post from WordStream on “7 Ideas for Upgrading Your Call to Action,” I thought immediately of the marketers we work with at Christianity Today, and how these tips might help craft even more compelling calls to action.

Sometimes it’s as simple as changing one word. They suggest changing the word “your” to “my”—this conveys ownership on the part of the reader. In one experiment described in the post, a marketer at Unbounce found that making this simple change on one client’s account led to a 90 percent increase in click-through rate.

Other times, applying a mental framework helps shape the words of an effective call to action. A great one, they say, could be prefaced by the words “I want to…” This leads to strong action words that immediately connect with the target audience’s felt needs.

For more ideas, check out the full post here.

Laura Leonard is managing editor of IgniteYourFaith.com, ChristianCollegeGuide.net, and SeminaryGradSchool.com, as well as the special advertising sections in Christianity Today magazine.

Posted in Advertising Tips, Email Marketing, Online Advertising


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