Friday, 30 May 2014

Embedded Photos – the next generation of copyright?

Embedded Photos – the next generation of copyright? 

In March this year one of the biggest photo image companies made a landmark decision and took their marketing in a brand new direction. Brave? Maybe. Risky? YES! But as the pioneer Jenner tested the small pox vaccine on himself just to prove that it worked, most ground breaking ventures contain a breathtaking amount of risk. 

Getty images is a name most people connect with stock photos, and one from which most people can recognize at least one or two images from major marketing campaigns, has taken the way they allow people to use their image in a gutsy direction. For more than a hundred years Getty have captured history and images of daily life and had them available for use. Their database was protected by a watermark on the image – if you wanted the watermark removed, you paid for it. 

In line with the digital age, Getty have decided that that approach does not work.  According to Craig Peters, a business development executive at Getty Images, watermarks as a means for protection does not work. 

"Look, if you want to get a Getty image today, you can find it without a watermark very simply," he says. "The way you do that is you go to one of our customer sites and you right-click. Or you go to Google Image search or Bing Image Search and you get it there. And that's what's happening… Our content was everywhere already."

If you look on any social platform you can see thousands of images that may or may not be copyrighted all over the media so it’s hard to doubt his theory. Most are on non-revenue generating pages so there is little point taking any action as they have no means to pay. The reason they are on these pages is because they have been copied from another site… for free. Anything more expensive than free, and they probably can’t afford it. 

To bring Getty Images into the digital age and align its revenue process with new technology they are dropping the tried and tested for over 100 years watermark on the bulk of its collection. An open-embed program will be included with each digital image that will let users include any photo they want anywhere they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For small-scale WordPress blogs with no image budget, it still provides what they want – free imagery. What Getty hope is that if the internet users have a legal and free way to use the images it will lead to a revenue stream as the relationship matures and, more importantly, Getty has control over the embedded images. 

Everyone is familiar with the advertisements that appear on Twitter or YouTube before viewing images and the same iframe technology will allow Getty to the do the same to its properties. It could also be used collecting data from users. "We've certainly thought about it, whether its data or its advertising," Peters says of how Getty will use the embed feature, but as of yet, none of the images include these features so far. "We've seen what YouTube's done with monetizing their embed capabilities," Peters says. "I don't know if that's going to be appropriate for us or not."

Getty has bought in this new approach to an old problem because they are trying to legitimize those using the images for well-meaning purposes whilst also supporting the photographer’s integrity and revenue stream. 

"The principle is to turn what's infringing use with good intentions, turning that into something that's valid licensed use with some benefits going back to the photographer," says Peters, "and that starts really with attribution and a link back."

Will it work? We hope so. Images on the web are here to stay and Getty has come up with a way that both cash strapped info blogs and service providers can get what they need. In a way Jenner and Getty are more similar than at first they seem. Except I don’t think Jenner has a photo of Getty safely tucked away and watermarked with the rest of his pioneering equipment.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Using Images to WOW Your Content Marketing

Using Images to WOW Your Content Marketing

Images have always had to power to convey messages in clear and concise manner, but it would seem that marketers have been slow to catch on to their true power. For decades images were used to make a message more appealing or clever, but no one seemed to see that images, particularly photographs, had the power to BE the message. It wasn’t until Facebook bought Instagram, and the marketing world stood agog as Pinterest had nothing short of a miraculous and meteoric rise to be the marketing super power it is today, that photographs were acknowledged as a medium that could carry a marketing message much further than content alone. Essentially, the medium became the message.
Images have become pivotal in the social activity across all social platforms. Facebook by far dominates the social media scene and the most common activity on Facebook is – sharing photographs.

Google also has sharing images as their number one activity.

Uploading and sharing Images are the number one activity across most social media platforms so basing your content around photos and images is one way to quickly and effectively increase your exposure. If you can produce an image that captures the imagination of your target audience it will spread quickly around the internet, and with it, your company image. 

Here are 7 ideas to help you choose images that are irresistible eye candy to your to your customers and prospective clients and make sure you are not forgotten. 

1: Quality

Make sure your images are of professional quality. No one will be attracted to a badly lit, insanely placed product that is blurry or obscured. Your product or service is the star of the content, so make sure you place it so. If you do not have the right equipment and knowledge you cannot produce high quality images that improve your company image, hire someone that will. Your marketing will be memorable – you want to make sure it’s memorable for all the right reasons. 

2: Make It Real
There are thousands of standard marketing images around the internet that will showcase the product you sell. They may be clear, uncluttered, professional images that allow the consumer to see what he is buying. What you need to do is to put the product in context of use to catch the eye of your target audience. You want them to be drawn in by looking at what the product can do for them and the right image is exactly what you need. It can showcase WHAT your product is capable of and how your consumers need it, and need to buy it from you. 

3: Weave a Web

 Let your picture tell a story. It may be narrative of best practices for the use of the product of service, or showcase your organization and what makes you difference. You may choose to take images of your staff or location to show the company behind the product to build confidence, but your images must tell a story, bringing the customer closer to a sale. 

4: Show Your Face

It’s a known fact that people sell to people. Humanize your images. By putting people in your photos you create a bond of trust with your potential customer and give them the reassurance to know that there is a human face behind the marketing. Whether it’s a customer’s view of your product, or your staff, people make your product more credible. 

5: Step by Step

Use your photos to produce step by step instructions or progress the journey. Images are much easily digested and more expressive Use them to bring your customer to where you need them so they are fully armed to make a buying decision. 

6: Make it News

Use current events and related current affairs to promote your brand. You can use it as a parody, or a compliment, but look at what images are current and quickly release your take on the news with your product or service as the star on your social media. You have to be swift, but it can also easily go viral. 

7: Get Your Audience Involved

90% of people have a cell phone capable of taking photos and instantly downloading them onto the internet. Why not harness the power of people selling to people and get THEM to upload their photos and sell your product for you? It’s easy to organize if your have a web site and very effective for audience involvement across all social media platforms. 

People are visual learners and well thought out, high quality images are one way to effectively market your product, but also to strengthen your brand and improve your company image. Raise that bar on your content marketing by including images that sell.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The big 5

Every now and again we find web content that really strikes a chord with us for a number of reasons. Here are five web sites or news articles that we think will have an impact on the direction of online marketing, digital marketing, content marketing and web development.

What do you think?

Sonny in iRobot is one step closer?

How much has marketing REALLY changed?

Are you a LinkedIn zealot?

Dead links? OR live?

The crest of the wave in 'paper' marketing

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Making Gif’s Work in Online Marketing

Making Gif’s Work in Online Marketing

For some marketing devices you can put a decade to the campaign by the images they use. 3 color block images – the 50’s, photos of beach with a pink sky filter – the 70’s, heavily photoshopped images – the 90’, but what about today’s online marketing images? When people look back at the Teeny decade they will be able to identify us by … the Graphic Interchange Format. 

If the 21st century has somehow passed you by, a Graphic Interchange Format is also known as a Gif. According to a reliable team of Calgary Web designers, a gif is a series of photos that are strung together in cycle so that it looks like the image is moving, almost like an animation. Remember the ‘flicker books’ you did as a kid where you drew a series of horse pictures on the corner of book then flicked through rapidly to look like your horse was moving? Same thing, only way more technical.
The Gif has swept through popular culture like a plague where it has been used to impress, express and progress stories, life events and new happenings. It seems its part of human nature to be drawn to moving images, especially those that are clever and intriguing. They can be added to signatures, posted on social media and shared around the globe. It is a great way to get noticed. 

A savvy online marketing professional (are we back to that reliable team of Calgary Web designers?) would have to ask themselves – Is there a way to use Gif’s in online marketing that works? The answer to that is: Yes, there is. And BOY! Does it work!

The ecommerce company Blue fly found that by including a Gif in an email campaign drew in 12% more revenue. An LA based evening wear retailer also did a test and sent out two identical emails, except one had a single frame image taken from a Gif, the other had the full moving Gif. There was a 26% increase in click through rate for the animated Gif over the single image. It’s defiantly worth making a Gif and seeing if it works for you. 

Here are some guidelines to help you make a success of your online marketing: 

Small is Beautiful

Try not to make your images exceed 100kb is size. If it’s too large a file to upload people will delete before they even get a chance to see it, and with 48% of emails opened on mobile devices you need to make sure your Gif accommodates mobile limitations and slow networks. Don’t be tempted to save space and have a ‘Download More’ button in your email as it’s unlikely to be clicked through for a Gif and steals the effect. 

The best practise for a Gif enhanced email is to keep it a 40mb in total and use that space to tastefully accentuate your marketing in a subtle manner. You want to impress, not over power. 

File It Right

If you’re looking to keep your Gif small use the HTML format in your email, or JPEGS for a photo. Use a GIF to condense and animated story or a teaser with a call to action.
GIFS are not a small sized image but are preferred over video or Flash as they are smaller to include in an email. Don’t be tempted to make anything too complicated for email marketing, simple graphics involving colours or lines work well and speed up the download in your email. 

Less is More

Be dignified with your Gifs. Choose a one that will lead the client to a call to action or highlight the important part of your message. If you are using online marketing to promote products, then a simple GIF can highlight the images and create interest quickly and easily. You just don’t want to light up your email like a Christmas tree. Just one, or at a push, two per email. Always leave them wanting more. 

Test, test, test

It’s important to test the final email to make sure there’s no hidden code making it bulkier than it needs to be. To cut down the size, email software company Responsys (not a reliable team of Calgary Web designers, but the next best thing …) recommends updating the file to share as many images between mobile and desktop version as possible, and swapping foreground images for background images that are only loaded from the server when visible.

Whatever your skill at Gifs or email marketing it’s worth getting a good understanding of both and using them to raise the bar on your online marketing to a whole new level. If you haven’t tried either before – do it! You haven’t got much to lose – and an awful lot to gain for little or no outlay. Welcome in the 21st century and WOW it with your totally cool, beautifully produced, marketing Graphic Interchange Formats.

Friday, 9 May 2014

5 Ways to Write an Email That Sells

5 Ways to Write an Email That Sells

We all have a love/hate relationship with email campaigns. Some of us avoid our mail box for as long as possible knowing that it will be full of emails from companies touting their wares – and that’s even before you have looked in your spam filter! That is until that one email that comes in that REALLY applies to you and your needs and makes you very excited to use the knowledge you’ve gained and move forward in some way. Online marketing can seem like a double edged sword – on one hand it’s accessible and not too difficult, on the other - hard to be good at. It’s this love/hate relationship that causes nightmares for anyone who has to create an email that sells, but it really shouldn’t be something to be afraid of. 

Why do people still use email campaigns if most of them have a negative attitude toward them? (Delete, delete, delete) Let’s a take a look at a few figures about email campaigns and see exactly what kind of a reputation they deserve.
The ROI on a marketing email is around $44.25 for every dollar invested. That’s HUGE! That makes an email campaign economical and quantifiable.
Those who read brand emails spend 85% more when shopping. That’s another MASSIVE gain. Do I really need to say more? Email campaigns are cheap and work! That’s why you see so many of them in your mailbox. 

So how do you maximize your email campaign and make it into a lean, mean, marketing machine?


Optimize your copy for your real life contacts. Segment your email list to make sure you are targeting the right audience. It has been reported that the average person is bombarded with over 5,000 advertising messages each day so if you continually send out online marketing that is of no interest to your chosen demographic you will condition them to hit the delete button as soon as they see your email address in the ‘From’ line. You can segment your lists in many ways such as stage in the buying cycle, interests, industry, company size – absolutely anything that allows you to target your email to someone who is highly interested in what you have to offer. 

According to HubSpot, eMarketer did a survey and found that 85% of marketers segment their lists in the following ways, and got the following increases:

That’s twelve good reasons to segment your lists. 


Do not fall into the trap of thinking that if you put an eye catching ‘Everything Must Go’ offer in the subject line, then only offer a 10% discount off selected items in the body of your email that people will be fooled into opening all your emails. They may open it once, but after that they will be unlikely to open one ever again. Build trust with your clients by offering value in your email and representing it honestly in the subject line. People are very wary of spam and consider most emails as spam until they prove themselves otherwise. 

Make sure you always offer value in your subject line and continue it through your email in a professional and confident manner. You don’t want your client to only read that email, you want them to open all your future emails too. 


The segment you have sent the email to may contain thousands of contacts but you email mustn’t intimate at that. You need to make it professional, yet personal, and one of the best ways is to write it in the ‘second person’. Write like you were speaking to friend. Use their name at the beginning if possible. Make it seem like you already have a relationship of trust. 

If you are writing to a generic company name such as a ‘Calgary Graphic Design Agency’ and do not have a name or contact, still use the second person. Try to not have the name appear anywhere in the text as referring to your customer as a ‘Calgary Graphic Design Agency’ may be true, but is also patronising – a bit like meeting them in person, knowing their name but calling them ‘Human’ all the way through. ‘It was nice to meet you, Human’, is no way to win friends and influence people.
Use phrases like, ‘If you need….’, ‘You’re probably wondering why…’ or ‘We will be there to help you through the whole process’. This sets the tone of being interested in your customer – and not the sale. 


It’s always a good idea to keep up with what your competition is doing but when you compose a marketing email, it’s essential. Look around and see what others are doing, how they are doing and evaluate how it is being received. Make sure you do the same with your campaigns too. Don’t be afraid to follow a template that works and keep using it until there is a need to change. Take some time to evaluate everything about your email campaign and keep a note of it. After a few successful ones you could find that you have a formula that hits the mark every time. 


Any information on useful tips for writing an email campaign will tell you how important your subject line is – you know that! Think about the emails you chose to open before you read this article – what made you open them? One thing other useful email tip articles may not cover is the importance of the length of the subject line. You have to always think of ‘KISS’ when writing the subject line – which is Keep It Short and Sweet. The question is – how short? 

Mailchimp did a survey on their customer and tested over 200 million subject lines in emails and rated their success. The results? Here they are: 

As you can see, the shorter the subject line, the higher the open rate, and the higher the click through rate. When reading those statistics I wondered what kind of an email subject line was 4 characters long – how about, ‘Open’. Would it work? Try it and find out. 

If you want an online marketing that is cheap to run and very effective, then you need to start a ‘love/love’ relationship with email marketing. With a little practise you can make it work for you, just be sure you have the right tools and have done all your preparation – your success rate will thank you for it.