Katrina Kokoska on DIY Email Marketing at AAF District 10 Conference!

DIY Email Marketing Public Speaking Recap
Over the weekend, our own Katrina Kokoska presented back to back sessions at the annual American Advertising Federation’s AAF District 10 annual Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the topic of DIY Email Marketing.

She covered how to get started with Email Marketing – including things to consider when defining your goals and measuring your success.

Thinking about starting email marketing? Katrina breaks down the what, why, and how of getting started with email marketing!

Check out her presentation slides and presentation highlights below!


1. Why Email Marketing is Effective

  •  People Find it Valuable
  • You Have an Engaged Audience – 40% of consumers enjoy receiving a substantial amount of marketing emails every week –Blue Kangaroo
  • It is Easy to Measure
  • Emails have a Longer Shelf Life than other forms of communications – For instance, only 23.6% of email opens occur within the first hour, A Facebook brandpost will get half of it’s reach in the first 30 minutes.
  • ROI

Shelf Life of Online Marketing Communications

2. Things you Should Consider Before Getting Started with Email Marketing

Define your objective – Why are you doing this?

  • Who is/are your audience(s)?
  • What is a conversion for them?
  • Examples: Loyalty program, Referrals, Lead nurturing, Closing
  • How will you measure success?

Choose your ESP (Email Service Provider)

  • Hosting options: Fully managed, SaaS, In-House
  • We recommend using a SaaS
  • Factors to consider: Price, Commitment, Templating features, Reporting, Reputation

Build your list

Link Building Do’s:

  1. DO: Build your list offline. Add checkbox to offline forms including Business cards, Event registrants, *Recent consumers (see caveat below)
  2. DO: Build your list online. Collect emails on your Website Homepage, Sidebar, Contact Form, at Check out, Event Registration, on Facebook, on your Blog
  3. DO: Segment your list. Emails that have been tailored to specific audiences through segmentation get 50% more clicks than their counterparts. – Marketing Sherpa
  4. DO: Tell them what they will receive
  5. DO: Build trust immediately
  6. DO: Continue growing your list

Email Lists Expire at ~25% per year

Link Building Don’ts:

  1. DON’T: Buy lists
  2. DON’T: Harvest email addresses or copy/paste
  3. DON’T: Precheck the box
  4. DON’T: Add folks to more lists than they agreed to
  5. DON’T: Send to folks you haven’t sent to in at least 2 years
  6. DON’T: Do anything else that sounds shady

Notes on Email Spam

  • Spammy techniques affect your Sender Score/Reputation and your ability to get email through to people’s inboxes
  • CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non – Solicited Pornography And Marketing) Act of 2003 protects users from these spammy tactics
  • EACH separate violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000


  1. Define objectives first
  2. Use a SaaS solution
  3. Build your list thoughtfully across offline/digital properties
  4. Don’t be shady

3. Crafting and Creating Effective Email Messages

1. The Subject Line

  • Do it first
  • Be brief and explicit
  • Not appropriate for the hard sell
  • Sense of urgency
  • Avoid SPAM Terms
  • Localization not personalization
  • Use your company name
  • Test, test, test!

2. The Email Design

  • Your CTA:– Above the fold
  • All roads lead to CTA
  • Short and powerful
  • Redundant
  • How’s your subject line holding up
  • Can you “Share with a Friend?”
  • Have you integrated your other digital properties?

Email Design Technical Considerations

  • How does it hold up across email clients?
  • How does it look across mobile platforms?
  • Can you view in browser and as plaintext?

3. The Landing Page

  1. Never go home
  2. Focused value proposition
  3. Clear request
  4. One step conversion

4. Timing Considerations

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What timezones are you sending to?
  3. What is it you are asking them do?

Benchmarks on Email Open Rates by Time of Day and Day of Week

4. Management and Measurement


  • Bounce – Undeliverable email
    • Hard bounce–Soft bounce
    • Bounce Rate = # hard bounces/list size
  • Unsubscribe – Opt out
    • Unsubscribe Rate = # of unsubscribes/ list size
  • Unique Open Rate – The # of people who open a message
    • Open Rate = # of opens / emails sent
  • Click Thru – Clicking a link in message
    • Click Thru Rate = # of unique clicks / #of links X recipients
  • Conversion – Someone did the thing you wanted them to do
    • Conversion Rate = # of conversions / #of recipients

Bounce Rate Benchmarks for Email Marketing 2013

Are You Set Up for Tracking?


  1. Bounce/Unsubscribes – List health
  2. Open/CTR – Content
  3. Conversion – Overall performance
  4. TEST!

A big thanks to AAF District 10 for having us at the conference!

Crowdsourcing Your Mental Health at #SXSW

Crowdsource Your Mental Health at SXSW

We were extremely proud to have one of our team members selected to lead a panel discussion at this year’s annual SXSW Interactive festival! Schipulite Sarah M. Worthy and former Schipulite Data Analyst Dr. Dharol Stevens, PhD. led a Core Conversation on the topic of “How to Crowdsource Your Mental Health for Free.”

The audience was made up of an array of medical professionals, those looking for better ways to find health information online, and those curious about the topic as it relates to the growing trend of Health 2.0. The panel was a great discussion with lots of feedback and participation. Below are my highlights:

Why Crowdsourcing for Mental Health?

Crowdsourcing is where many people are doing a little bit of the work instead of one person doing all the work.

Over 50% of people in the US can’t afford afford mental health treatment. Mental health issues are complicated and much of  the treatment is trial and error. Unlike other medical conditions, mental health symptoms do not necessarily have only one answer that a doctor (even a very experienced doctor) can diagnose with a single test or symptom.

For Mental Health issues specifically, crowdsourcing can help piece together the puzzle of what is really going on for symptoms that are difficult to diagnose. The idea is that crowdsourcing is a tool you can use to be more informed and aware when you visit a doctor.

The Power of Crowdsourcing

SXSW Part 2 058Crowdsourcing’s power is in its specifics. Reading other people’s very specific accounts can hopefully ring true to your unique situation as well.

The benefits of these personal experiences include:

  • Reading other people’s stories lets you know you’re not alone
  • Seeing stories of those going through treatment may set expectations for what treatment entails
  • Stories of people who have overcome health issues gives hope that the symptoms will eventually end
  • Reading other people’s accounts can also help you define symptoms you didn’t otherwise know how to articulate, or things you didn’t know were a symptom you should be paying attention to
  • These accounts give access to peer support which can be incredibly powerful for those going through any kind of medical treatment
  • When you visit your doctor, you can ask more informed questions to get to treatment faster

Tools for Anonymous Online Searching

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 4.02.23 PM

Many people hesitate to do searches around mental health online because they are worried about the privacy issues involved. If your family or peers cause these concerns, here are some resources to try for anonymous searching online:

  1. Incognito mode in the Chrome browser when browsing the web
  2. Tor – For IP address anonymity online
  3. Duck Duck Go – Anonymous Search Engine with Privacy at its core

Validating Medical Information Online – The Downside to Crowdsourcing

The danger of crowdsourcing is that 50% of health sites have incorrect information. You can combat this by arming yourself with tools to evaluate information online and look for trusted sources.

Tips for Validating Online Medical Information

  1. Verify that it is written by an expert
  2. Make sure it is current & cites valid sources
  3. Look for certifications and disclaimers

Valid Sources for Medical Information Online

  1. Look for .gov or .edu sites
  2. Anything linked from the resource pubmed will be credible
  3. If you find studies cross linked you can look for them on scholar.google.com – Sometimes it will appear as though you have to pay for detailed study information, but any government journal is required to release its studies for free after 2 years
  4. Health on the Net is a great resource as well – this organization’s goal is to publish credible medical information

“It’s never been easier to cross reference information online” – Dr. Dharol Stevens

mental health apps to try

Mental Health Apps to Help Focus

  • Mood Tracker tracks your mood over time and shows patterns like how your mood is related to stress, amount of sleep, etc.
  • Focus Booster uses the Pomodoro technique to break down work into 25 minute chunks of uninterrupted time
  • Lifetopix is an app of organization tools help you stay organized and focused
  • Self Control blacklists programs or websites you block for a certain period of time so you can focus

Tips for Finding a Doctor

“If you take one thing away from this, it is that the Internet is not your doctor. You still need a doctor.” – Sarah M. Worthy

The internet will never replace a medical professional. Hopefully it will arm you with the tools to start the conversation.

Tips for Finding a Doctor

  • Unfortunately the best way to find a doctor is still word of mouth
  • Like treatment, know that finding a doctor you like will be effort – it may take some trial and error
  • If you don’t like the person you are working with it’s ok to look for another doctor (your gut feeling is probably right)

Apps to  for Locating a Doctor

(Note that this list was crowdsourced from the audience)

Keep the Conversation Going! More on This Topic:

Houston Website Designers Seminar Explores Crucial Client Conversation Topics

Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend the Houston Website Designer Series monthly seminar, hosted by the Art Institute of Houston.  Aaron Long,  a VP here at Schipul, was one of the presenters alongside Bo Bothe from BrandExtract, Joe Robbins from Joe Robbins Photography, and Tom King with Forward Marketing.

The presenters each shared stories and tips from their past experiences working on website design projects with clients to an audience of Houston developers, designers, and design students.  I gained new insight about how a design project can either go smoothly and stay within budget or go horribly wrong and become very costly solely on the basis of the types of conversations the agency or designer has with their clients throughout the project.

Designing a Website is Complicated

The process of building and designing a website is often more technical and time intensive than most people realize.  There is also the added challenge that our clients want a website for marketing their products and services to generate new leads.  This adds complex elements to the project to ensure proper branding, communication of the company and what you do, has calls to action and specific content for search engine marketing, plus custom development like a shopping cart for e-commerce, event registration, site login and permissions capabilities, etc.

Designing a complex website requires excellent 2-way communications between the client and the project managers and account executives.  As in every industry, this presents a challenge sometimes.  Lawyers struggle to explain complicated legal contracts with their clients, real estate agents have to explain the title and loan processes to clients, and doctors find ways to discuss very private, medical issues with their patients.

The Keys to Successful Communication


As each of the presenters shared their tips for improving communication, Education was at the core of each success story.

Tom King on Designing Content Strategy

Tom King explained the complications of explaining to clients the importance of creating a content marketing strategy before the website design project kicks-off and integrating the strategy with the overall project.  Many clients want their website to be found in search engines and by new leads, and don’t realize how much time and research is involved in identifying the right keywords and creating the content that will go on the website before it launches and after it launches in an ongoing effort to boost search engine rankings.

To educate clients and prospects, Tom shares videos and resources from Google’s Zero Moment of Truth education series and shows clients these 2 videos that share the Coca Cola Content 2020 strategy:

Tom explained that he shows prospects these videos before the sales meeting because “if they watch these and don’t get it, then we won’t work well together.”

Bo Bothe on Designing Brand Identity

Bo Bothe’s presentation walked the audience through communicating with Marathon Oil’s executives as BrandExtract managed the project to redesign Marathon Oil’s entire brand identity.  According to Bo, education about every step of the project down to teaching Marathon Oil the finer aspects of just what a logo is, was critical to the success of the project.

You can see the results of the rebranding in this video:

Aaron Long on Designing Software

Aaron Long’s presentation stresses the importance of educating clients on the differences between software and preferences in order to keep projects within budget and time lines.  Aaron communicates to clients that the purpose of software is to lower costs, and content management systems are software that are already built and will lower the cost of the website project if clients use it.  Preferences, on the other hand, raise costs and when a client wants to customize software for their project, they need to be aware that custom software development is the most expensive thing in a project.

One tip Aaron shared during his presentation is that it is up to the designers and developers to ask clients more specific questions about what they envision the end result of the website to be.  Don’t just accept it when a client says they want a shopping cart feature with their website, dig deeper and find out what products the clients will sell with the shopping cart, what special functions will this cart need to do for selling products, shipping, collecting customer data, etc.  Aaron suggests showing clients working sites with examples of what is standard so clients can better understand what they are buying when they are buying the software.

Here’s Aaron’s presentation slides to view his other tips for educating clients on the more technical side of a website design project:

Joe Robbins on Designing Web Photography

Joe Robbins brought his experience in creating professional photographs and images for advertising in print and on the web to the seminar to share the importance of having quality photographs on your website. He discussed the conversation designers should have with clients and recommended educating clients on the costs associated with photographs along with the pros and cons for hiring a professional photographer compared to stock photos and photographs already owned by the client.

Joe explained that “a well designed website is very important, but if your choice of photography is poor, all that hard work could come to nothing.  A visually arresting site can be the difference between a sale/inquiry and the customer leaving your site prematurely.”

Website Design is NOT  About the Design

Although you might find this ironic, not one of the speakers for a website designer seminar spoke about graphic design for websites or talking to clients about design  for the website projects.  They all stressed the importance of creating a website that marketed and sold your company online to obtain new customers.

Tom King’s remark was that content brought new visitors to your website via search engines and not the design or appearance of the site.

Bo Bothe insightfully said “You can’t just make things pretty anymore, you have to make things that work.”

“Funny makes money, not necessarily pretty” was the comment from Aaron Long regarding creating websites that drive revenue.

And Joe Robbins demonstrated how to incorporate quality photography into your website for a more visually appealing site that reflected your brand in the same way companies use glossy print advertisements offline.

The presenters recommend that we steer our focus away from the flash-based, graphic-heavy websites that make it difficult to add and edit content on and also are poorly ranked by search engines.  Instead, focus on a strategy that integrates your marketing efforts with your website design.

This seminar explained the importance of talking with and educating clients and hopefully the videos and presentations I’ve included from the seminar will give you a better understanding of the process involved with building a complex website.  I encourage you to attend the next Houston Website Designers Seminar coming up in July if you are interested in learning more.  The seminars are always free to attend.

If you want to learn more about Schipul’s website design process to build complex websites that generate leads and revenue for companies, contact us and check out our training calendar for upcoming web marketing events and webinars we’re hosting!


Ignite Houston 2012 – Highlights & Photos

Ignite Houston LogoIgnite Talks feature speakers presenting 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds – for a total of 5 minutes. Last night was Houston’s very first Ignite program hosted by our friends at C2 Creative, featuring two of our very own Schipulites Ed Schipul & Katrina Esco

Below are some highlights of the evening for me.

All photos by Ed Schipul (except for the twitpic of him). Check out all the photos in the Ignite Houston photo gallery on Facebook

1.The Fabulous Speakers

All of the Ignite Houston speakers were wonderful – whether they were funny, insightful, uplifting,   thought-provoking, or performed death-defying stunts with helicopters… we loved them all.

Grace Rodriguez Ignite Houston 2012

2. The Main Man MC Brian Block

You gotta love this guy. He’s funny & smart & doesn’t take himself too seriously. He was a fantastic MC who kept everything moving right along.

Brian Block Ignite Houston MC 2012

3. Schipulite Katrina Esco’s “Writing Good Emails Will Change Lives”

I wholeheartedly agree that bad emails eat your soul, and also that writing great (helpful, informative, clear) business emails will change the world. Check out Katrina Esco’s Ignite Houston presentation on Slideshare below!

The Best Business Email Ever Written

… And view the full recap of “The Best Business Email Ever Written”

4. A Rubber Chicken

There were two talks discussing space and space exploration. One was on behalf of Camilla Corona SDO – aka NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s rubber chicken mascot. She actively helps with Education and Public Outreach, visits class rooms, science festivals, fairs and space exhibits to teach about the Sun, space weather and space exploration. And was great fun at the after-party.

Camilla Corona SDO is NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory's mascot

Schipul Crew with Camilla SDO at Ignite Houston 2012

5. Subliminal Messages from Kristen Baker

Kristen Baker discussed tricking people into advertising for you by creating a cult out of your brand. Who knew free stickers could be so powerful? Another favorite moment was her commentary around building loyalty from the inside… by keeping your employees fat & happy.

Kristen Baker on subliminal messaging at Ignite Houston 2012

6. Daniel J. Cohen on How NOT to Write

I especially loved Daniel J. Cohen’s presentation on what not to do in copywriting. His major two sins to avoid: 1) Having no concept & 2) Grammatical issues… Including hilarious examples.

Daniel’s advice for copywriting: Start with a strong concept, consider the audience, and tighten your mechanics. Otherwise you’ll end up with something like this:

Comas Save Lives - Let's Eat Grandpa

7. Flying Robot Invasion!

The finale of the event was Ed’s presentation on Invasion of the Drones, including a flight demo of one of his quadracopters. No one was injured during the presentation (though Ed may or may not have some injuries from the workshop in preparation for the event).

My favorite example Ed showed on the power of these machines are the Nano Quadracopters that have swarm and agile flight capabilities (so they can navigate around obstacles automatically). And yes, they are captured on YouTube.

Twitpic - Ed Schipul Attack of the Drones at ignite Houston

8. The Volunteers!

A big thanks to all of the organizers and volunteers of this great event. You were wonderful!

Erica O'Grady & Imelda Ignite houston 2012

Want more Ignite?

Your SXSW 2012 Interactive Top 10 Tips for Survival

SXSW Interactive is one of, if not THE biggest, interactive marketing and web conference, and is a valuable resource for our team here at Schipul.  SXSW Interactive offers education and the latest and greatest for all things related to web marketing and digital advertising.

I’m excited to be able to give back to my profession this year as a presenter on a panel: Spacepoints’ Space Outreach at Ludicrous Speed! If you’re going to be in Austin in March for SXSW 2012, come check out my panel or just hang out with the team from Schipul attending.  {shameless plug!}

SXSW has a Guide for First Timers that can give you some tips on navigating the conference.  Their guide can get you to the sessions, but when I attend SXSW, I am also looking to connect with other Interactive Agencies to build relationships and identify the latest technology innovations and software tools to help our clients improve their online marketing results.  This results in a 24/7 week-long agenda of AM networking breakfast, blogger’s lounge, panels, afternoon networking, party, party, party, 4 hours of sleep, repeat.  Over the past few years, I’ve developed my own tips for surviving the extended-version of SXSW Interactive.

Here are my Top 10 Tips for Doing SXSW Interactive Hardcore:

1) Say Yes to the Free Caffeine; Say No to the Free Booze.

You’ll find that every party will have plenty of free sugar free red bull, monster energy drinks, vodka or some other kind of alcohol to mix.  Then my Caffeine Hero: Starbucks always comes to the rescue the next morning with plenty of free coffee.  Skip the booze if you want to make it through the entire week, and stock your hotel with fresh fruit and healthy snacks because you’ll be hard pressed to find any food, let alone free food at SXSW.

2) Keep Your Smartphone Charger on You at All Times.

You will be on the go running from panel to panel during the day, and then party to party each night. Carry your phone charger with you, take a spare that you keep in your hotel room (in case you lose your first one), and if you have the option’ get a spare battery too. If you see an outlet near you’ don’t be ashamed to plugin and juice up your phone. Tweeting, foursquaring, and texting is power-intensive and you don’t want to have a dead battery at 2am when you are trying to find directions back to your hotel.

3) Bookmark http://austin2012.sched.org/ and use it to create your personalized SXSW schedule before you get to Austin.

SXSW’s event schedule on their website is pretty good’ however I’ve been using sched.org’s unofficial SXSW guide to find EVERY party, panel, and must attend event possible.  The best places to connect with people at SXSW aren’t always “official” parties.

Sched also offers a new feature this year that enables you to sync your Eventbrite RSVPs and the platform is available for all the major mobile platforms: iphone, Droid and Blackberry. When you get to Austin, you’ll love how easy sched makes it to find your next session on the go.

4) Pack a Swimsuit.

Austin weather is fickle, and it may be 60 degrees in early March or 90. Regardless’ all the hotels have swimming pools and hot tubs and if you are doing it right, you’ll be invited to at least one pool party.  I don’t recommend skinny dipping at SXSW’ everyone has a camera in their smartphone and you what happens at SXSW definitely does NOT stay at SXSW.  So take your favorite swim trunks or bikini when you pack for Austin.

5) Pack a Cowboy Hat and Cowboy Boots.

There will be at least 2 parties with a Texas country theme. If you don’t have western attire’ no worries, Austin has some great shops where you can purchase what you need.  I’ve gotten great Cowgirl boots at  Allen’s Boots and the HatBox has Cowboy hats in every style plus tons of other fun and funky headwear.

6) Pack a Backpack and Leave Your Briefcase at Home.

Have I already mentioned you’ll be on the move for a week? Take a compact backpack with a laptop-padded section for your trip and spare your back and shoulders the strain of running around all day carrying your briefcase. You don’t have to take your laptop or tablet PC’ but you’ll definitely want to have something with you for taking notes in the sessions, even if you prefer traditional pen and paper.  If you are going to any of the developer or design sessions then your laptop will be heavily used. Bloggers will find the Bloggers lounge a great resource for power and snacks while updating your audience with all the latest happenings online too.

7) Talk to Strangers.

The panels are great for professional development but it’s the people at the conference that are the core of the experience so don’t be shy’ say Hi to everyone you meet. SXSW Interactive hosts the largest single gathering of ‘Connectors” you’ll ever find so strike up a conversation and get connected with new people who will help you grow your business, launch your start-up, or make an introduction to that big prospect or thought leader.

8) Take More Business Cards Than You Think You’ll Need’ and Stickers Too!

I probably go through 200-300 mini-moos each SXSW. I order cards JUST for SXSW that have my contact information while at the conference. I include a headshot so people recognize me throughout the week, my mobile so people can text me about any “pop-up” parties, my email address for following up later, and this year my panel information so people will know when and where I’ll be presenting. I recommend moo.com’s mini-moos if you are going to order cards just for the event. Here’s my cards for this year:

9)  Make Time to Visit the Exhibitions, Showcases, and Lounges.

One of the best places to find out about innovations in online technology is SXSW’s Interactive.  The only place I personally can imagine being cooler for a tech-geek like me is the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.  SXSW has several different Trade Shows and Showcase Lounges featuring an array of products and services that your business may want to utilize for growing online and offline next year.  You definitely want to make your rounds to the SXSW Start-up Village Showcase featuring new technology start-ups, plus you can snag some really fun Swag!

10) Don’t Try to Do Everything.

You can’t.  I tried one year and came back with no voice left and a dazed and confused fog that took 2 more weeks to dissipate.  Until cloning techniques advance, I’ll have to settle with missing about 2/3rds of everything because so much is going on all at once.

Schedule at least 4 to 6 hours of sleep each night.  Make time in your schedule to get away from the convention center to walk around the lake one morning or take a couple of hours one afternoon and take a nap in your hotel.  SXSW, when done right, is both grueling and an amazing experience.  Definitely dive right into the throng of digital tech madness, but be sure to turn off your phone every so often…

And remember: Don’t Drink the Free Booze!