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Typography 101: How to select a brand font

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There was a “shower thought” meme circulating recently, pointing out that “accents are just mouth fonts.” All the design nerds at GoDaddy Studio had a good chuckle at that one. But the insight is kinda profound, from the perspective of your brand’s identity, and more specifically, your brand font.

You see, words aren’t just words in the context of design.

 

They serve a dual function — communicating information and telling a story. Like an accent, the way in which we receive and decode even basic information is affected by the idiosyncrasies of the voice telling it to us. And this unique tone of voice is a result of that individual’s origin story.

So now the question arises: What unique accent does your brand have, and what can this tell us about you? Your choice of brand font is really the key ingredient to shaping your brand’s voice out there in the world, in line with your story and your graphic style.

Look here, for example, at the same brand name written in three very different font styles. Each of them seems to come from a completely different world, and we know this instinctively, without any additional graphics, images, or words. We read them all slightly differently.

Cursive Acacia

san-serif acacia

Serif Acacia

In this post, you’ll walk away with:

  • A working knowledge of the basic principles of typography.
  • Insights on how fonts can affect your brand identity and messaging.
  • The ability to find, navigate, and edit fonts in GoDaddy Studio.
  • Your own customized selection of typefaces to add to your brand board.
picture of Storme Conradie and quote
Real talk from GoDaddy Studio design curator, Storme Conradie

This information is going to make your creative decisions more tuned-in to your brand. Choosing your hero fonts upfront will also develop brand consistency, and save you loads of time in the design process down the line. We’re thinking long-term here, folks!

GoDaddy Studio makes the process of finding fonts and creatively editing text extremely simple and intuitive.

 

Once you know the basics, almost anything is possible.

The art of typography

For most of its existence, typography has been a highly specialized field for professional designers with a thing for microscopic detail.

But with the advent of personal computers and word processors, the average person has been presented with a universe of typographic possibilities for the first time. And these options just keep expanding as the field of typography keeps growing.

Today, most devices come pre-programmed with hundreds of font styles.

font options and designs
GoDaddy Studio has more than 500 unique fonts, all free with a Pro account

It’s an ever-evolving art form, and in as much as there are some unshakable rules we’ll look at in this chapter, typography — like all forms of art — is subject to the tide of trends.

We’ve been seeing a surge in the popularity of Delicate Serifs, Supersized Type, and Didones.

 

The point to take from this is that — whether we realize it or not — we’re all incredibly finely tuned to the subtleties of typography. In fact, we’re subconsciously snobbish to the extent that a poorly chosen font (Papyrus or Comic Sans anybody?) might rightfully raise a red flag and strongly affect our decision to engage with a brand at all.

Acacia in two different fonts on navy background
You’d probably trust your life savings with one of these companies more than the other.

Let’s start with some basics and fine-tune as we go along.

Typography 101

It’s important to get some terminology straight at the outset because typography design has its own secret language to describe structure and spacing.

Once you start looking closer at the nuances, you’ll be able to express your choices better (“I like Sanchez Bold, but think it needs some tracking and an option with heavier serifs.”)

First off, the difference between a font and a typeface is confusing. You can use them interchangeably for the most part (we’ll do exactly that in this chapter), but to be absolutely correct and gain some cred with the type geek crowd:

  • A typeface is a family of fonts (Baskerville, for example).
  • A font refers to any variation of this typeface (Baskerville Regular, Baskerville Bold, Baskerville Italic, and so on).

This is important to know because while some typefaces in GoDaddy Studio have only one default appearance, many of them will have variations in weight and style — i.e multiple fonts within a given typeface.

Gif of Baskerville font and it’s styles
The Baskerville typeface has several fonts.

Anatomy of a font

Typographers clearly personify their creations, judging by how many terms for the bits and pieces that make up letters, numbers and symbols are borrowed from the human body. You might never think of an ear, shoulder, leg, arm, or spine in quite the same way after today. The alternate definitions of beaks, bowls, tails, and spurs might also surprise you.

This diagram identifies the range of components that make up a typeface. The more you learn about typography design, the more you’ll start paying attention to how these little details differ from font to font.

Elements of typography explained

Now let’s consider how we refer to the positioning of text on your canvas, and the spacing between letters, words, and paragraphs.

This diagram illustrates the relative high points and low points of a font from its baseline. The parts of a letter that rise above this are called ascenders, while the bits that dangle below the baseline are called descenders.

Heights of typography explained

The length of ascenders and descenders in a word will influence the relative space between text above or below.

If the ascenders and descenders get too close to each other, the lines feel compressed, and the paragraph would require more effort to read.

In this case, we would need to adjust the leading: the space between lines of text.

This is an easy adjustment to make in GoDaddy Studio, by simply dragging the dial within the Style tab when editing fonts.

Example of tight leading in fonts

Opened leading example

When we’re dealing with spaces between the letters themselves, we refer to tracking.

If letters are too close together, the word can be harder to read. Again, it’s a simple edit in GoDaddy Studio, switching to the tracking dial, and adjusting the spacing to add some breathing room, and legibility. You could play around with this as a creative flair for sure, too.

tracking at 0 / standard

Tracking opened up

Kerning is similar, but refers more specifically to the spacing between two adjoining letters, and not the whole word.

Sometimes the word will be evenly spaced, but two particular individuals are standing a little too close for comfort. Restoring balance here requires optically adjusting the kerning — or just, you know, closing the gap a little.

bad kerning example

Optically kerned example

Hierarchy

The final typographic lingo we’ll run through is hierarchy, and this one’s important because it’s how you’ll navigate the reader’s eye through your design.

In any design with text — an Instagram Story, a poster, a presentation — we can’t simply take it all in at a single glance.

To decode your message clearly, our eyes need to have a starting point, and then proceed in the right order — from point a to point b, c, d, and so on. Without this priority order for the information you’re relaying, your message will be confusing at best, and frustrating at worst.

The idea of hierarchy is most obviously expressed in editorial design, which has its roots in centuries-old newspaper layouts and remains the default today.

Scanning the pages of a publication, printed or digital, the first thing to grab your eye will always be the headline or title. If this piques your interest, the sub-heading might give you a little more context, and if you decide to read on, you’ll dig into the body copy.

These three levels are typically expressed in descending order of size:

Hierarchy of headline, subheads, and body copy

This age-old idea still applies to almost all graphic design and branding.

Think about a concert poster, whether it’s on a street pole or your social feed. You’ll only glance at it for a moment.

Example of event sign

In this example, there’s an order in which the designer wants us to read the information: a hierarchy from most to least essential. We’ll absorb this information sequentially, so each section ought to nudge us on to the next in a logical way:

event poster with example of order

The reader moves through text all over the page, but in a coherent order:

  1. The Desert Foals! I love them!
  2. Playing live in my town? The price isn’t too steep…
  3. When and where is the show?
  4. How do I buy tickets?

This instinctual, instantaneous process simply doesn’t work in reverse, and so the key is to make sure that the most essential information is absorbed first.

There are a few ways to do this as a way to engineer your hierarchy.

Scale

Size is the most obvious one: the more real estate the word takes up on the page, the more likely we are to read it first.

Weight

Bolder, heavier typefaces will typically get noticed before thin, slender fonts, simply because of the unignorable presence they demand.

Color

All things being equal, a word expressed in a strong, vivid color will always attract the eye more than something neutral, faded, or monochrome.

It’s no different from being transfixed by a single pink flower on a green and brown tree.

Position

Front and center is always a good spot to grab attention, but for more text-heavy design, remember that the (English-speaking) human brain is wired to scan from top to bottom, left to right — making the top left quadrant of the page our default starting position.

That’s enough theory for now. It’s time to use all this knowledge to make some informed decisions for your brand.

Let’s take a gander at the options.

Types of typefaces

types of typefaces

All the thousands of font styles in the world can mostly be grouped into five main groups or families.

They’re classified by their structure, but this is very closely related to the context in which we use them.

These quick reference guides include some examples of the relevant typefaces we have waiting for you to try out in GoDaddy Studio:

Serifs

Serifs are those tiny little extensions that stick out from the tops and tails of some letters. Whether a font has these or doesn’t, will affect its classification.

Serif fonts, as you might have guessed, do have serifs. It’s kind of their thing.

For centuries, pretty much all typefaces were Serifs, and as such, they’re associated with classicism, and tradition — traits that suggest trustworthiness, and authority.

Stylistically, they exude sophistication and grandeur. Equally at home in a headline, logo, or full page of text, elegant Serif fonts are highly practical all-rounders in your brand identity kit.

Examples of serif fonts

Sans serifs

Sans is the French word for “without,” so sans serifs are fonts without those little doohickies at the ends of them.

Without this added ornamentation, they appear cleaner, more geometric, and minimalist. There’s straightforwardness and simplicity inherent in this, and brands that value these ideas would gravitate to modern sans serif fonts (take a look at many tech company fonts and you won’t find serifs).

Emerging much later in typography’s history, they conjure up associations of modernity and progressive thinking. Sans serifs are supremely legible, which is why you’re able to read this paragraph so easily. They team up beautifully with their serif cousins as a font pairing: an unbeatable combo is a serif headline, with sans serif body copy.

San serifs font example

Slab serifs

A slab is something we talk about when we refer to enormous, flat sections of stone or concrete. So, in the typography world we can imagine Slab Serifs as exactly that: fat, chunky serif fonts of significant weight.

You’d be more likely to use this for a headline rather than body copy. Their hefty presence makes them impossible to ignore. Counterbalancing a strong slab serif headline with a no-nonsense sans serif for body copy is a solid pairing.

The well-built jocks of the font family, slab serifs project strength, confidence, even athleticism — but not without a sense of playfulness. This might be why it’s the Varsity sports sweater standard.

Slab serifs font examples

Script

We’re clearly all in denial about the death of handwriting since there are hundreds of fonts that emulate the O.G typography: pen on paper.

There’s an inherent beauty to the unbroken, liquid dance of lines that sketch words like patterns on a page.

In GoDaddy Studio, it’s a heck of a lot easier than mastering fountain pen technique. Digitized though they may be, Script fonts call to mind the work of human hands. They’re expressive, free and casual, but equally capable of femininity and elegance.

Not always the easiest to read, they make better headlines and subheadings than body copy.

Script font examples

Display/decorative

The name says it all, right? Display typefaces, or decorative typefaces, are the big ones you’ll bring out when you really want to get noticed.

They’re for headlines and logos primarily — the main event. These typefaces are elaborate, ornate and playful, with an attention to detail that carries through to our associations with your brand.

Opting for decorative fonts in your brand kit is a considered move; they function as graphic elements, and as such ought to align with your brand’s graphic style.

display or decorative font examples

Font pairing

In the last section, we mentioned that certain typefaces work well with others. We also discussed hierarchy and the idea that copy usually appears at different sizes and lengths in any design.

While you could use a single typeface for all your branding and communication, it’s far more common (and sensible) to have two or three options in your kit of font styles, to use at different positions within your hierarchy.

Sadly, not all fonts can co-exist harmoniously. Some combinations just look wrong.

 

They can tug in different stylistic directions, compete for dominance on the page, or just seem to exist in different worlds. Font styles that are too similar trouble the eye too, as the reader wavers between reading, and noticing subtle differences between the necks, shoulders, feet, and ears of the two slightly different typefaces.

Font pairing refers to selecting two or three fonts for your brand kit that work in harmony, despite their differences.

Beyond our general advice of choosing a combination that is neither too different nor too similar, it’s difficult to prescribe any hard rules here. Contrast is important: pair chunkier fonts with more slender ones, an expressive typeface with a straightforward option.

The options within your brand kit could also include different font variations of the same typeface: bold, italic, textured, and so on.

uote from Storme Comradie

Some of the fonts we have in GoDaddy Studio are called duo fonts, which is basically a typeface with two very different expressions designed to work together.

Essentially, it’s a pre-selected font pairing — a two-for-one for the taking.

You’ll need to try out a few combinations to find the magic formula, which will of course hinge on your brand’s style.

As a starting point, here are some suggestions for font pairings we think work particularly well together — grouped according to our 10 graphic styles. Either use these or try subtle variations as you develop a customized combo to add to your brand board.

Bold font pairings

Example of bold font pairings

Minimal font pairings

Minimal font pairings example

Elegant font pairings

Elegant font pairings example

Modern font pairings

Modern font pairings example

Street font pairings

Street font pairings example

Classic font pairings

Classic font pairings example

Luxury font pairings

Luxury font pairings example

Playful font pairings

Playful font pairings example

Organic font pairings

Organic font pairings example

The right fonts for your brand

As we’ve emphasized before, the name of the game when it comes to creating your brand’s identity is consistency: pick them, and stick to them.

Just like your graphics, images, and colors, select font designs that complement your brand’s story and style. That said, trust your gut here. You need to be in love with your brand’s typeface more than anybody else, seeing as you’ll be using it on a daily basis.

Love at first sight is as good a reason as any to guide you.

 

Here’s some excellent parting advice from the king of the type geeks at GoDaddy Studio – our senior UX designer, Daniel, who also runs a dedicated font fanatic account @type.bot that we recommend you follow for ongoing inspiration.

quote from Dan Klopper

Daniel suggests seven key points to consider when choosing a typeface for your brand identity:

  1. Make sure it’s clearly readable and functional before choosing a typeface based on its looks. It needs to work across many mediums as your brand evolves over time.
  2. Typography styles are expressive and evoke emotions, so choose a font that is versatile and allows for different moods, depending on what content you need to create.
  3. Looks are important and cannot be ignored. It helps to distinguish your brand from others. It’s important to think about the unique letterforms and if they hold their own character, plus if they elevate your brand and don’t fall into the generic pool.
  4. Be consistent with the use of your primary typeface. Experiment with layout and forms and be consistent in delivery of type scale and composition, so that your audience can easily identify your brand.
  5. Start simple and if you need to grow and evolve your brand, start thinking of a complimentary typeface that accentuates your primary typeface and overall brand.
  6. There’s a limit. It’s best practice to keep your brand’s font family in the range of one to three fonts that work well together. A good starting point is a single font that’s versatile in its weighting and style.
  7. When you’re establishing a brand from scratch, a single well-chosen typeface can serve you and your brand well, before having to consider more typefaces (if at all). Start simple and build confidence through continuous creation.

quote from Storme Conradie

Create your brand new brand with GoDaddy Studio today, and find the perfect fonts to stand out in style. 

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3 Ways Marketers Can Earn — and Keep — Customer Trust

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A 2021 survey of 1,000 consumers concluded that more than 80% consider trust a deciding factor in their buying decisions, despite the fact that only 34% trust the brands they use. As trust in institutions diminishes, consumers are increasingly skeptical of where they put their money and receive their information. The author recommends three marketing strategies for brands to maintain and foster trust in their brands: 1) Do not overspin, 2) Avoid half-truths, and 3) Read the room and adjust.

It is no big secret that our world has a trust problem. Amid a global pandemic, economic crisis, and political instability set against a backdrop of deep cultural malaise, people no longer know where (or whom) to turn to for dependable information amid widespread disinformation and propaganda.

Similarly, government leaders, briefly seen as the most trusted institutions at the beginning of the pandemic per the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, squandered that goodwill when they could not halt the virus or restore economic stability. And per the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in U.S. CEOs is at 47%, and credibility has basically hit rock bottom in Japan (18%) and France (22%) as consumers wake up to the indignities and absurdities of unfettered capitalism.

Yes, trust is in short supply, yet it remains a vital currency in sustainable customer relationships. A 2021 survey of 1,000 consumers concluded that more than 80% consider trust a deciding factor in their buying decisions, despite the fact that only 34% trust the brands they use. Consumers, of course, are not a monolith. And as it so happens, age is a key differentiator in understanding the intricacies of the public’s confidence in and perception of the news media, in particular.

Per a Gallup/Knight Foundation survey, older Americans tend to rely on maybe one or two sources for all their information, and they prioritize brand reputation and political slant when evaluating an outlet’s credibility. Conversely, younger adults (18- to 34-year-olds) are more likely to gather information from numerous sources and place more of a premium on how open that outlet is with its facts, research, and processes.

Younger consumers also view national news outlets with more skepticism, with just 29% saying they trust them compared to 41% of adults over 55. A credible media landscape is always critical, but with the line between marketing and media blurring each day, news organizations’ morale fiber can sometimes be linked to that of a brand.

To summarize, ​​older adults are more brand-conscious, while younger adults are more process-conscious. As marketing experts, we can apply these findings to our brand messaging to develop credibility with our intended audiences as they age and evolve. Here is how.

1. Do not overspin.

Though Edelman found that trust in CEOs hit an all-time low in 2021, the same study revealed that businesses are still considered more trustworthy than governments, NGOs, and the news media. With such power comes great responsibility. CEOs and other business leaders must address today’s most pressing challenges and focus on societal engagement with great fervor. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, 53% of respondents believe that business leaders have a duty to fill the information void left by the news media.

This is not the time for corporate platitudes. People are smarter than you think. If you attempt to fool them, they will find out — and the hit to your credibility will outweigh any short-term gains that you made.

Think back to summer 2020, when PR teams across industries jumped to distribute public denouncements of systemic racism. People were quick to call out the performative allyship of companies such as Glossier, whose public anti-racism pledge was at odds with former employees’ recounts of on-the-job discrimination and toxicity. So make sure you back up any announcements with actual steps. For example, Ben & Jerry’s is not one for empty promises, and its statement on racial injustice held a lot more weight because company leaders have a track record of on-the-ground activism.

Keeping your message free of excessive spin goes a long way with the public and protects you from potential PR gaffes down the line.

2. Avoid half-truths.

Pfizer has been in the news a lot this past year — mostly for good reasons. CEO Albert Bourla and his team cleared myriad hurdles to develop an innovative, effective Covid-19 vaccine in record time. But back in 2006, Pfizer was in the news for less-than-glowing reasons after launching a $258 million ad campaign for a cholesterol drug with Robert Jarvik, inventor of the first permanent artificial heart, as the face of it.

The tagline — “Just because I’m a doctor doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my cholesterol” — was catchy, but there was one problem: Jarvik was not licensed to practice medicine and, in fact, had never practiced medicine. The ads drew swift criticism that resulted in a congressional investigation and millions in monetary losses for Pfizer.

In the court of public opinion, omission is akin to lying. If a claim requires omission, then do not use it; and if you do make a mistake, own up to it. In fact, you may find consumers more forgiving if you show any semblance of contrition. Being vulnerable about where you have fallen short in the past suggests honesty, which sits at the foundation of consumer trust, brand affinity, and long-term engagement.

3. Read the room and adjust.

When was the last time you checked the pulse of your customer base? You should be continually evaluating the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by asking yourself these key questions:

  • What is our customer sentiment? Negative? Positive?
  • What are our favorability ratings? Are they rising? Dropping?
  • Is our audience engaging with our content?
  • And did we follow through on our promises?

By regularly checking whether consumers are picking up what you are putting down, you will find that you can more easily meet and even exceed their ever-evolving preferences. For example, Bryanna Evans, the social media manager at home fragrance brand SECC, told Buffer that her team’s social media-powered strategy focuses on in-feed customer engagement. Not only does the social team respond whenever someone leaves a comment, but it also nurtures consumer interest by regularly posting quizzes, contests, and giveaways. As a result, SECC has built an army of loyalists and grown its monthly revenue from $20,000-$30,000 to more than $100,000.

The fight for consumer trust is ongoing — and it will not be going away anytime soon. But savvy marketers can use authentic brand messaging to engender stronger customer relationships that stand the test of time. Implement these three steps to begin building a reputation as a reliable information source that people depend on.

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How to Improve Email Deliverability

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If you’re running a business, you need an email list. And you need to send great emails, obviously. But if those great emails aren’t making it to people’s inboxes, then what’s the point?

If you’ve been putting a lot of hard work into your email marketing but not seeing the results you want, then maybe your email deliverability could use some help. I’m going to share the four key factors that will help make sure more of your emails stay out of spam and land in the inbox.

And if you don’t have an email list yet, this will set you up for success right from the start!

The Four Pillars of Email Deliverability

When it comes to email, it’s all about deliverability. You can have the fanciest automations, the best copy, the best upsells, downsells, follow-ups… But if nobody’s getting those emails in their inbox, then it’s all for nothing.

This is where you’re up against the algorithms of the email giants that control more than 50 percent of the world’s inboxes: Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!. You’ve got to understand what they’re looking for—and play by their rules.

The good news is that it’s not that difficult to stay on the good side of the algorithms. Anyone can avoid the spam folder as long as they follow a few key guidelines.

There are four main pillars of email deliverability, and they form the acronym RACE:

  • Reputation
  • Authentication
  • Content
  • Engagement

Pat and email deliverability expert Adrian Savage covered these four pillars in depth in SPI episode 498:

Reputation

In business, as in everything, reputation matters. If you’ve got a lousy reputation, no one’s going to want to listen to you.

When it comes to email marketing, you need to focus on what’s known as your sending reputation.

You see, the big mailbox providers are monitoring the emails you’re sending, and most importantly, how people are reacting to them.

The more they see people marking your emails as spam or ignoring or deleting them, the more they’re going to mark down your sending reputation. And they’re more likely to send your emails right to the spam folder.

That’s the simple version, but it means that everything you do with your email marketing has to be focused on preserving and improving your sending reputation.

How to Improve Your Sending Reputation

So what can you do to improve and maintain your reputation with the big email services?

First, use common sense. If you feel like you’re gaming the system, you probably are—and you’re eventually going to get found out.

A (not so) great example is downloading lists of email addresses from the internet.

The only legitimate way to get ahead now with your email list is to send emails only to people who have specifically asked you to contact them.

If you buy a list and start emailing people who haven’t given you permission, you’re much more likely to get spam complaints, which will hurt your sending reputation.

And what’s the only definition of spam that matters in the eyes of the mailbox providers? Whatever the recipient thinks it is.

There are also businesses out there, like Spamhaus and Cloudmark, that operate email addresses called spam traps. If you send an email to a spam trap address, then you may be added to blocklists that tell the world you’re a low-reputation sender.

The only definition of spam that matters? Whatever the recipient thinks it is.

If you do decide to buy a list of addresses for some reason, make sure you really trust the person providing the data—it’s much better to control it yourself.

Next, you’ll want to clean your email list regularly. That way, you’ll avoid hitting what’s called a recycled spam trap.

Here’s how that works.

Suppose 10 years ago you had a Hotmail address that you’d stopped using, and Microsoft canceled your account. For the next few months, if anyone tried to email you, they’d receive an error saying the mailbox didn’t exist. But a few months later, Microsoft might reopen that address and repurpose it to catch senders who weren’t looking after the hygiene of their email list.

Send enough emails to spam trap addresses, and you’ll end up on a blocklist.

So, only send emails to people who have said they want to hear from you, and keep your email list clean so you don’t get caught in recycled spam traps.

Authentication

Authentication is the second crucial piece of improving your email deliverability.

It’s all about telling the world that you’re sending legitimate emails.

You’ve probably received spam from someone spoofing an email address that isn’t theirs. It’s relatively easy to spoof an address you don’t own—what’s not so easy is to authenticate one.

Authentication is what sets you apart from the spammers, and there are two steps you need to take to authenticate your email address.

The good thing is, this is usually a one-time thing you do when you’re setting up your email platform.

The two authentication steps involve a couple of acronyms.

Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)

The first one is domain keys identified mail, or DKIM. This is how you get your email platform to digitally sign every email that you send.

You’ll need to look at your platform to determine how exactly to configure DKIM, because they all do it slightly differently. If you’re stuck, then find someone who can help you, because it is probably the most important single thing that will make the difference between hitting the spam folder and hitting the inbox.

Here’s guidance on setting up DKIM with some of the most popular email service providers (ESPs):

Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

The second side of authentication is something called sender policy framework, or SPF.

SPF helps identify which mail servers are allowed to send email on behalf of your domain. This communicates which platforms you trust to send emails on your behalf, which can reduce the incidence of email spoofing—people pretending to send mail as you. Like DKIM, it’s a one-time thing, but crucial.

Doing those two things—setting up your SPF and DKIM settings—is going to make a huge difference in deliverability. And don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.

Here’s guidance on setting up SPF with the popular ESPs:

Content

In the recent past, it was relatively easy to avoid the spam folder by being careful about the content in your emails: don’t use swear words, don’t mention Viagra, and don’t mention “free.”

Today’s spam filters are much more sophisticated, and the big email providers use a ton of artificial intelligence to figure out what’s junk and what’s legit.

In 2005, you might have gotten away with writing “free” as “fr.e–e” in an email, but today that’s a one-way ticket to the spam folder.

Making it to the inbox in 2022 is a lot more about being authentic with your email content. Here, another acronym comes in handy: WILF, which stands for:

  • Words
  • Images
  • Links
  • Frequency

Words

Words are important, obviously. And when it comes to email deliverability, it means writing emails the way you’d have a conversation with someone.

Write like yourself. The more your emails sound like they’ve been coming from you, the more authentic it sounds, the more likely those big sophisticated algorithms are going to recognize it as authentic.

In most cases, shorter is also better. Don’t cut it down at the expense of not getting your message across, but don’t waffle unnecessarily. Because, let’s face it, people’s attention spans are getting shorter.

At the same time, don’t stress too much about content either. There are no hard and fast rules here, and you don’t want to follow a rule at the risk of ruining your message.

You can always send a few test emails and see what happens. Just remember, however, that email has evolved, and no two people have exactly the same email experience anymore. The same email might end up in Spongebob’s inbox and Squidward’s spam folder.

But you can still learn some things by looking at the big picture of what you’re sending over time. If you notice that emails written a certain way are getting delivered more often than others, use that as a data point to guide how to craft your email content going forward.

Images and Links

Here’s where things get even more interesting. To include images or not include images in your emails? And what about links? One? None? Many?

First, remember that there are exceptions to every rule. But in general—and testing bears this out—the more images you’ve got in an email, the more likely it’s headed to the junk folder. And the same goes for the number of links.

One of the quickest ways for an email to be viewed as a promotion by Google is if it has a graphical banner at the top, because that makes it look like a promo. So just cut to the chase with your message.

If you need images in the middle of the email to reinforce or illustrate things, that’s a different story. But only include them if they’re going to actually add value, not just for the sake of it. If you can manage three or fewer images in total, perfect.

Here at SPI, most of our emails are pretty barebones: no (or few images), and just a single link.

It’s the same with links: the more you use, the more your email looks like a promotion. One of the biggest mistakes people make is using a bunch of little social media icons in their email signature. Before you know it, you’ve got five additional images with links in your email, you’re in the promotions tab.

When it comes to links, also be careful about linking to websites you don’t control. You can’t always be certain whether the domain you’re linking to has a good domain reputation or not. It’s much better to only link to content that you’re in control of—like the stuff on your own website.

Frequency

Finally, there’s frequency. The more frequently you send emails to the people who want to receive them, the better you’re going to do. In the good old days, it was sufficient to send an email newsletter out once a month, but these days, mailbox providers are looking for consistency and engagement (which we’ll talk about in a second).

The more frequently you send emails to the people that want to read them, the better it’s going to look for your engagement. If you’re sending out an email three times a week, then you’re a lot more likely to reach more of your audience more quickly than if you’re sending one email a month.

That doesn’t mean you need to send an email every day—if you can, then great, if you’ve got enough to talk about—but the more frequently you can share some really cool value, the more people are going to love you, and more importantly, the more the mailbox providers will love you as well.

Engagement

While authentication is something you set up once and pretty much forget, engagement is something you need to pay attention to on an ongoing basis.

By engagement we’re talking about, are people reading your emails? Are they opening them? Are they clicking the links? Are they actually reading them properly? Or are they just deleting it without reading?

One of the worst ways to hurt your engagement is when you send something out, it lands in the spam folder, and no one rescues it.

When someone signs up to your email list for the first time, that may be the only chance you’ve got to keep your emails out of their spam folder. So direct them to a thank-you page that instructs them to check the spam folder for your first email and move it to their inbox if need be. If they don’t, they may never see another email from you in their inbox again.

That’s the most important thing.

The other is maximizing the number of people engaging by improving your open rates. Here’s where it’s important to clean your email list regularly, so you’re only sending email to the people who are likely to read it.

It can be scary to clean your email list regularly—because it means deleting people from your list—but it’s absolutely a great thing to do for your email engagement, and for the health of your email list.

Why? It will show Google and Microsoft and Yahoo! that what you’re sending is of greater interest to your subscribers. The higher they see your open rate, the more likely they are to increase your domain reputation. The better your reputation, guess what? The next email you send is more likely to land in the inbox. It’s a virtuous cycle.

More Email Marketing Resources

If you’re just getting started building your email list, the best time to start thinking about and implementing these email deliverability best practices is now.

And if you’ve had a list for a while and things have gotten stagnant, the best time to start is… also now.

If you need more support with your email marketing, you’re in the right place! Here are a few more resources to help you build an audience and create more revenue with a robust email marketing practice:

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Growing a Business

Branding Mistakes That Can Cripple Small Businesses

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Small businesses operate in a highly competitive market, and branding can be vital in standing out. The branding process should be done thoughtfully and deliberately.

Small businesses need to invest in their brands keenly to create a winning identity. However, in branding, emerging businesses need to avoid common mistakes like lack of brand strategy and failure to research market competition.

photo credit: Hans / Pixabay

Lack of a Brand Strategy

You need to develop a brand strategy while detailing your business objectives. The strategy should be comprehensive and understand the business landscape while highlighting your competition. You also need to define your brand alongside your type of customers.

Note that an ideal brand strategy is developed as a creative partnership involving the client, the strategist, and the designer. In some cases, you can leverage services of third parties like Agency Boon to get ideas on different strategies.

A comprehensive strategy will assist you in working out what products and services you should focus on. From this position, you can make the right decisions to enter and grow in the market. With a strategy, every team member is aware of their role in advancing your business goals. Even when you are alone, the strategy will guide you on how to win over customers.

Not Researching Your Competition

A new small business should understand its competition since it acts as a guide to attracting customers. Researching the competition enables you to understand what other established companies in your niche have done. Understanding competition allows you to determine where other businesses have failed and how you can avoid their mistakes in your new venture. While reviewing your competition, look at products, services, target audiences, websites and social media platforms.

Note that failure to consider these factors will likely result in you being unable to understand the competition better alongside running the risk of replicating their strategy, which might fail.

Not Understanding the Target Audience

Before you start selling your products into the market, you need to understand who your right audience is and how you plan to satisfy their needs. Generally, understand their demands and expectations. Once you do identify your target audience, designing the brand message becomes easier. Additionally, having knowledge of your audience is an indicator that your customers feel valued and likely to engage with your business.

Branding mistake

Inconsistency

Inconsistency in any business sends a message that you don’t understand what you are offering. Small businesses need to present a consistent identity mainly due to benefits like fostering a sense of trust and comfort for clients. In most cases, starting a business with an inconsistent image can be viewed as unprofessional and untrustworthy.

To meet consistency, consider having a style guide for your business’s visual and verbal elements.

Failure to Collect Feedback

Feedback is key to improving your business. If you have feedback channels, your customers will feel at home as they consider your business trustworthy. Additionally, you need to focus on collecting feedback from the proper channels and sources. However, limiting your sources to positive reviews will not give you an accurate picture of the business.

Avoid feedback from friends, family members, employees, and relatives.

Endnote

Managing a brand has its challenges, especially for small businesses. However, following the right branding strategies will likely elevate your business, especially if you have the right strategy in place.

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