Kristie Sheppard

It’s a tale as old as time. Shoppers see a promotion for “joining the club” or getting those special “members-only” benefits and then before they know it, they have more memberships than they know what to do with. Then, after just one shipment, they cancel the membership altogether. How do you keep members around for the long-haul? For wine clubs, it starts with creating brand loyalty.

What’s in your shipment?
Make your members feel like it’s Christmas morning the day their shipment arrives. Leading up to delivery, build up the excitement through emails, social media and phone calls. Make each and every member feel special, as if they are your priority customer. Personalize your packaging by including a note or brief letter. Even better – toss in some extra swag. Think of your shipment as the one piece of mail people look forward to getting. Your club members should be thrilled to receive that big box!
Create brand ambassadors
Use your shipment as an opportunity to cultivate your audience. Include fun tips, tricks and recipes that will make your members want to tell their friends and family, and include a referral discount coupon for them to pass along when they do. Go beyond just delivering a product and include a DIY experience in each shipment that features the wines. For example, with the summer shipment of Sauvignon Blanc, include a dinner recipe that pairs with the wine. Toss in suggestions for table settings that match the label and your brand colors as well as some craft supplies with an instruction card on how to turn that wine bottle into a centerpiece. If a shipment has sparkling wine, include instructions on how to saber it. If you give your members something to talk about while enjoying the wine, they will.
Make members feel special
Communication is the key to any successful relationship. Communicate with your members more often than just notifying them of their shipment. Turn the purchase into a relationship. Send a birthday card or wine club anniversary card. Call them once they receive their shipment to answer questions about the wine. Engage with them on social media by liking their posts, commenting on their activities or creating conversations through a custom hashtag. In order for your members to feel that you care, you have to show them you do.

Do you have other methods for creating brand loyalty? We want to hear them! Tag us on Facebook or Twitter to let us know your tips.

Adriana Guidi

The ‘A’ in STEAM

Adriana Guidi

“Design is where science and art break even,” said Designer and Entrepreneur Robin Mathew. Most people don’t recognize a correlation between science, technology, engineering, and math as they relate to art, but at A. Bright Idea, we certainly do.

Digital Canvas

It might surprise you to know just how much technology goes into graphic design. Throughout a whole workday, technology gets used to establish creative to bring brands and advertisements to life. No longer solely centered around creating a piece of art, a graphic designer’s strategy now includes a focus on functionality and how their work will succeed in the digital world.

Users can now access online information via desktop, mobile or tablet surfaces. With a change in user experience comes a shift in design strategy. Responsive design, for example, involves creating a website to work on large horizontal desktops as well as a small portrait phone. Designers must keep this in mind during the development process to ensure any text, graphics or videos will function properly no matter the source.

By committing to life-long learning, designers and artists can smoothly transition as technology continues to evolve, thus becoming artistic and creative in a digital and technological sense.

Modern Paintbrush

Just as Leonardo da Vinci found common ground between science and art, so do contemporary graphic designers. A computer, in turn, becomes the paintbrush.

Technology provided the fuel for art to not only evolve but come to life with a direct purpose that integrates directly into everyday life. Whenever you see a logo for a company or a design on a website, you witness art in a digital form.

For the most part, graphic designers start out with a sketch of an idea before turning to technology to elevate it to the next level. Software suites, like Adobe Creative Cloud, allow graphic designers to easily transition from sketch to vector — digital images created by placing lines and shapes in a given two-dimensional space — arrange pages of a brochure or create custom animations. When designers use this software to enable creative freedom, the technological and artistic worlds collide.

Unexpected Inspiration

Creative inspiration can stem from anywhere. Designers use math and science for concept inspiration, as well as product execution. Math allows designers to create crisp and accurate graphics. Simple, yet important things like measuring out the sides of a brochure or making sure lines run precisely parallel to each other make designs as perfect and functional as possible. Designers also use math to scale images, convert units, write print specifications and develop dielines for printed projects.

Geometry acts as a building block for many different designs, such as creating icons and graphics to then use in making complete shapes. It seems like a simple concept, but designers more often than not use shapes to create a complete image, not free-hand drawings. For example, designers can create a light bulb through the use of geometry by setting various shapes at different angles and placements. This method requires a meticulous approach, bringing several different variables together to create an end product.

With so many variables to work through and consider, problem-solving becomes an essential part of a graphic designers’ process. When an engineer gets tasked with building a bridge, key components to consider include the quantity and cost of materials needed. Similarly, when designing a brochure, graphic designers also consider size and shape, materials, cost efficiencies and other variables to ensure a complete and functional final product.

Creativity and technology not only coexist but also produce groundbreaking ideas and outcomes. Art not only fits perfectly into science, technology, engineering and math, but creates a connection among all of them. Strategy and technicality have no limit when it comes to various industries. An engineer exudes the creativity of an artist, just as an artist emanates the innovation of an engineer.

Alison Tagliaferri

Are you interested in learning how to change color in a picture so it blends perfectly? It takes a lot of skill to get it right, but Senior Graphic Designer/Internal Brand & Social Media Manager Jessy Weiss makes it look easy in the below tutorial. Check out Jessy’s guide to Adobe Photoshop and soon you’ll become a pro yourself.

LeAnne Eck

We strive to empower our clients and audiences with knowledge and understanding of the work we do, whether it’s graphic design social media, video production or website development. The technical aspects of many of the areas we offer support can seem, frankly, overwhelming to some, which is why we’re breaking down our process. To help you better understand website production, let’s take a look at user experience.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW

The user experience (UX) looks at how people interact with a website in relation to the site’s overall functionality. It is the study of the who, what, why, where and when pertaining to websites, analyzing what the user sees and stands to gain when navigating a website. Focusing on creating a connection between the user and a website, a successful user experience evokes emotion and feeling that, without it, may come across as static and boring. A positive connection will, in-turn, make the user want to return over and over again.

When you think about website design, UX often takes a backseat to the design and development of a site, but the research and planning serve as the most important steps in the process. Without a good foundation, a site will not have a clear path to function and grow. The study of UX pushes site design further and allows for updates to functionality based on the users’ needs. Can you imagine trying to search for something on Amazon using the interface from 15 years ago? Industry experts study how people use the site to improve the UX over time so as users’ needs change, so does the site.

 

THE FIVE W’S OF USER EXPERIENCE

Taking the time to study UX early on in the site design process will make it easier to use and more likely have users remain on the site longer while also returning more often. Most sites can achieve these benefits by taking a closer look at the 5 W’s listed below:


Determine your audience through research

  • Create employee or customer surveys to identify your existing audience
  • Research analytics, if you already have a site, to see who visits the site
  • Based on the survey feedback and analytics, create a user profile listing a fictitious person who would use the site, this allows the team to give a face to the audience


Focus on what is most important and design the site from there

  • Build off of the information architecture and start by creating wireframes, blocking off areas of the site without actually designing it
  • Adjust the hierarchy of the site to ensure the site flow leads users in the right direction


Create an information architecture and describe information placement

  • If you have a current site, start by outlining the current structure so you can work on making it better
  • Use a white board with sticky notes to easily move items around in real-time
  • Add notes for specific page elements and visualize the layout


Build out a realistic timeline for when you want the site to go live

  • Base your site’s launch around a new product release
  • Stick to your deadline


Determine your goal for the site and the needs of the users

  • Create a focus group to meet and brainstorm what you want users to get out of your site
  • Use sticky notes to get ideas out quickly and narrow down a concept

 

Current website design trends create an easy-to-follow, almost templated user experience. But with creativity, research and planning, the possibilities of website design are practically endless. Follow the five W’s when planning your next website to put your site on the track to success.

Corey Warnick

With the Internet, technology, design and a host of other website-related factors constantly changing, so does the answer to, “What can I do to improve my website?” As it stands today, the keys to a successful website can be broken down into four main components — responsiveness, interactive design, architecture and visibility. As you dive into each of these components, take a look at your personal or business website to see where it could use some upgrades.

RESPONSIVENESS

Having a good looking website will attract users initially, but making sure it functions well will keep them coming back. In the world of smartphones and tablets, making sure your website is responsive and mobile friendly, meaning the site is just as easy to use on mobile devices as it is on a desktop computer, is crucial. If your website doesn’t respond or function well on mobile devices, users have little incentive to stay on the site, and with technology continuing to improve and advance, a growing number of people use their mobile devices to browse the web. According to Statista, mobile devices accounted for 49.7 percent of web page views worldwide as of February 2017.

INTERACTIVE DESIGN

Incorporate movement into your website as a technique for catching the user’s eye and encouraging them to take a look around your website. While interactive elements take many forms, adding big, full-width videos, parallax scrolling — where background images are providing the illusion of depth when a user scrolls — and animation are at the top of the trendy website list add another level of interaction with the user. Keeping the user engaged will extend their stay on your website, leading them to learn more about what you have to offer.

ARCHITECTURE

Displaying the right information on your home page, such as call to action buttons and links to other pages, helps guide the user directly to the content they want. At a minimum, the most important information you should feature on your homepage includes details about you or your company, services you provide and contact information. You don’t want to overload the user the moment they visit your site with a lot of unnecessary content that could potentially confuse or mislead them. Smart architecture will give users what they need on the initial visit and more information as they become more familiar with your site.

VISIBILITY

So your website is responsive, has interactive elements and excellent architecture, but can your target audience find it? That’s where Search Engine Optimization comes in. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to getting your website to rise to the top of Google, Bing and other search engine results. Proper meta keywords, titles and descriptions relevant to your website content not only help define you or your business, but they help users easily find you.

As technology continues to advance and design trends continue to evolve, staying familiar with website terms and trends will help to ensure your website’s success. Think about your visitors when making or considering updates and how you can enhance their user experience.

For more information about user experience, stay tuned for an upcoming blog with everything you need to know. Are you planning on updating your website? Leave us a comment with your plans!

Eric Bach

Whether you’re in the office or working from home, keeping an organized workspace is important for productivity (and sanity.) Check out these tips from our Director of Video Creative, Eric Bach, to tidy up your digital and physical workspace.

Kristie Sheppard

Consumers think of email marketing as irrelevant and overbearing, taking up more than half of their inboxes. The metrics don’t support this perception, though!

With nearly 99 percent of people checking their email daily, brands are six times more likely to get a click-through from an email than a tweet. Similarly, 44 percent of users check their email for a deal from a company, while only 4 percent go to Facebook. With the new Facebook algorithms, which will probably move to Instagram before we know it, fewer fans will see your social media posts unless you pay to play. According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI) of digital marketing tactics. For every dollar spent, email marketing generates $44 in ROI.

Based on these facts alone, email marketing should play a fundamental role in your digital marketing strategy. Over a third of the worldwide population uses email, with nearly 80 percent of those users American. Businesses can use email to effectively communicate with their audiences by engaging with them on their home turf – their inboxes – and in various venues – home, phone, work, etc.

For successful email marketing, emails need to contain concise, relevant and actionable content. Every email provides an opportunity to build trust and resonate key messaging with the target audience. Grab the reader’s attention with great videos and photography, a catchy subject line and a distinct call-to-action.

Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival:
Kivelstadt Cellars:

Emails can generate immediate results. For example, if a tasting room is really slow on a rainy, cold winter day, developing an email with a tasting deal, special offer or impromptu party can help drive business. Target that email to your constituents within a 25-mile radius, individuals with the ability to take advantage of the offer.

The capability to accurately track results provides great value for email marketing. You can see how many people received the email, opened it and clicked through to the provided link. Even better, you can respond to these metrics and change your strategy if the results aren’t successful. Email marketing makes testing different messaging, distribution timing and subject lines easy and affordable. Lastly, you can repurpose your email marketing content on social media to garner new followers or email signups.

So, don’t abandon your email marketing strategy for social media. Drive engagement with relevant content targeted to segmented audience lists. Email is far from dead — it’s actually thriving! Try something new with your email marketing and comment with your results.

Cari Ashkin

LinkedIn — the most professional of all social media platforms. You know its importance, you recognize its value, but you may not fully understand how to leverage its features for your professional benefit.

Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, many people check in on their LinkedIn profiles on a less frequent basis. Sometimes seen as the “black sheep” of social media, you might find daily touchpoints unnecessary, but it doesn’t make the platform any less of an essential tool to utilize in your professional life. LinkedIn provides a space for businesses, employees and jobseekers to digitally network with other professionals in any given industry.

So, if you find yourself at a loss for ramping up your LinkedIn profile and making the most of its capabilities, follow A. Bright Idea’s five Cs of LinkedIn to make your profile stand out while adding some weight to your online presence.

CREATE your personal brand
According to Business Insider, many hiring managers make up their mind about a prospective employee within the first seven seconds of meeting them. Meaning, first impressions carry a tremendous amount of weight. Treat your LinkedIn profile the same way. To demonstrate your professionalism in the online world, make sure to upload a recent, high-resolution headshot as your profile image. Paying close attention to these details helps build your personal brand and invites others into the essence of what you offer through your experience and professionalism.
CONNECT with other industry leaders
Expand your network and increase the opportunities available to you by connecting with colleagues, industry experts, high-level CEOs, clients or key community leaders. Doing so can serve as an especially fruitful tool when looking to reach members of a different industry, or one in which you have a specific interest. LinkedIn connections can also garner new skill endorsements, thus building your credibility and profile views.
CAPTURE attention with your experience
Develop a brief but engaging summary of your experience to give profile viewers a glimpse into your professional background. Don’t shy away from including interests, passions and professional development experiences in which you participate. All of these assets build a well-rounded professional background and provide industry experts a clear picture of everything you bring to the table.
CULTIVATE relationships through engagement
We see no exception to the notion of “you get what you give” on LinkedIn. Build relationships with your connections by endorsing their skills a minimum of one to two times per week and engaging with their posted content through likes, comments and shares. Not only will this demonstrate the value you place in the individual you promote, it will encourage them to do the same for you.
CAPTIVATE your audience through content
Use your expertise to write compelling content specific to your industry or profession. Developing useful, sharable content showcases your background and experience for your current and potential connections. Garner their attention by also sharing industry-related articles, further positioning yourself as an expert in your field and staying up-to-date with the latest trends.

By implementing the five Cs of LinkedIn, you will quickly grow your network, business opportunities and partners online – all with a minimal investment of time. Enhancing your personal brand will benefit you and your business. Watch your connections increase and your profile expand in just a few weeks and enjoy the professional benefits that follow as a result!

Tell us about a personal success story or strategy using LinkedIn to create connections in the comments below.

Shawn Nesaw

User-generated content (UGC) takes the form of content, usually photos or videos, created in support of a product, brand, idea or trend. Brands publish the content on social media channels, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to allow for republishing content on their own social channels to further promote the brand and build loyalty among audiences.

UGC offers a ripe opportunity for businesses to build a community around their brand. Similar to giving a compliment, UGC represents something everyone likes getting because it makes us feel good and encourages us. Similarly, when a business shares content that one of their customers posted on their social media page, the business compliments that person by featuring their content and thanking them for their business. This type of public recognition creates stronger customer loyalty to the brand.

Speaking of loyalty, some may say, “brand loyalty is dead or dying,” but consider these statistics from Accenture describing the behaviors of U.S. consumers:

  • 57 % spend more on brands or providers simply for loyalty
  • 51% show loyalty to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication
  • 55% express loyalty by recommending the brands and companies they love to family friends
  • 14% publicly endorse or defend a brand or organization on social media

Building community around your brand is absolutely still important and UGC can help you achieve the community you want for almost no additional cost to you, the business. Explore UGC with the following best practices.

UGC best practices
After monitoring all your social media properties, it’s clear people tag your business, your products, even your staff in their photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Before you start posting customer content as your own, review a few rules of courtesy to abide by when possible.

  1. Ask for permission to use someone’s photo, video or GIF. Simply message the person using the direct messaging feature built into the respective social media channel. Compliment them and mention how you would love to share on your account. Nine times out of 10, flattered by your request, they happily oblige.
  2. Give photo credit in your post. A photo credit could be as simple as “(Photo cred: @username)” or “(?: @username).”
  3. Recognize the person or business in your post thanking them for their business or support. You can also subtly weave in a key message. Just make sure the post reflects more about them than you.

Examples of great uses of UGC
If you still can’t envision how UGC works or how it looks for your business, read through the examples of effective UGC use below.

Take a look at each example noting the photo composition, the caption and the tag of the photographer. In each case, the brand used short and simple captions, emojis and tagged the photographer. Using the camera emoji or the word, “Regram,” before the users’ tag signifies the original photographer.

Starbucks:
Buffer:
Bass Pro Shops:
Ben & Jerry’s:
Perfect example of expert use of UGC
While the above examples make it pretty clear what UGC looks like in practice, we offer one more perfect example of how a restaurant successfully executed UGC on social media to promote their brand and turn a visitor into a loyal follower.A restaurant wanted to promote their weekly Wednesday ramen night. They monitored their Instagram account for recent posts for public posts tagging their business or their restaurant location was tagged. They found a sharp photo of ramen from the week before that matched the look and feel of their feed.

This execution checked a few boxes for the restaurant. It promoted the ramen night, garnered awareness and attention for the business and boosted brand loyalty for that person.

Have you considered using user-generated content to build a stronger community around your brand? If you already use UGC on your social media accounts, how’s it going? Let us know in the comments or share your best execution.