Think Tank


When technology bites you in the behind, break out the bandages.

May 13th, 2019 by hutdogs

HUTdogs was asked to be one of the presenters during a nation-wide 1-day webinar series, which included presentations from several other digital marketing gurus from across the country. It was a big national event and we were honored to be a part of it. Our session was all about What’s New on Constant Contact Email Marketing.

We always strive for a smooth, pleasant and informative educational experience for ALL of our webinars, training courses and live presentations. Getting it right is a huge priority for us.

Our preparation time typically runs a minimum of 5-8 hours, for a one-hour presentation. Time is spent researching the topic, creating the graphics, preparing the slide deck and refining all of it to get it just right. For this event, we started planning 3 months before the live 1-hour broadcast session. There were multiple meetings and phone conferences, many emails exchanged with the organizers and a bunch of details to digest even before the slides were created.

We were prepared. We were excited. We were ready to do our thing. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… It was time to go-live.

We spent the entire webinar broadcasting live thinking things were going great on the viewers end. But the slides did not advance during the live session on the viewers end, and we didn’t know it. People could hear the broadcast, but couldn’t see any of the slides and we didn’t know it. To make matters worse, we could not see any of their live comments telling us that they couldn’t see the slides.

We were running in the dark.

We didn’t know that we were in a total dark hole until AFTER the live session. Let the guzzling of the antacid begin.

The nightmare came to light when we were getting ready to send the playback to the attendees and we could finally see the flurry of comments. It was devastating. One bit of bad news after another in the comments.

For the most part people wanted to be helpful and let us know that things were not working properly and simply said, “BTW, we can’t see any of the slides.”

Of course there’s always one. One attendee chose a less diplomatic approach, “Your presentation was on the first slide the whole time.  What a waste of time.  Please send the CORRECT webinar WITH THE SLIDES SHOWING and audio.”  

Did we mention it was a free to attend event?

We definitely felt her pain and wished things had gone as planned. But sometimes the technology gremlins decide to rear their ugly heads and start biting you in the behind.  I can guarantee that the frustration and pain that she was expressing was not even close to that felt on our end. The fiasco was heart breaking, devastating and gut wrenching to say the least.

Welcome to the bandages.

After we did a lot of crying, cussing and screaming, we had to make things right.

Meetings that were planned after the live webinar were cancelled. Production time for graphic design, social media services, and email marketing pieces for our customers had to wait a bit. Which added to the antacid intake, but we had to deliver.

We had to get up and dust ourselves off. What other option does a small business have, but to just keep going?

We spent another 3 hours re-recording and uploading a playback session.

After the re-recorded webinar was reviewed, double-checked, uploaded and double-checked again, we sent out an apology along with a link to playback, to those who had logged on during the live event.

The next day, we received yet another email about the webinar.

Dreading the idea of being scolded one more time for a technological glitch and having to re-live our nightmare, we took a breath and opened the email.

“I’m hoping you read replies to your info@ address because I really want you to receive this message. This is a big “thank you” for your UNBELIEVABLE webinar at Day of Digital!  Here’s my story – 

After signing up for your streaming event, my schedule changed, having to be in the car when it went live.  I was able to listen to it on my phone through my car speakers and was blown away by all of your great content and the way it was presented.  Staring at the road instead of being in front of a computer, I found it overwhelming.  I looked forward to getting a link to re-watch it from my desk and did that today.  

Since I knew of all the great content, I prepared an MS OneNote page to outline and bullet point all of the features and concepts I wanted to implement.  By watching, pausing, notating, repeat, I came up with a full page of new ideas on how to use it with our music store!

I’m a veteran of CC (Constant Contact), having used it for years and use it regularly.  I thought I was pretty advanced, but your 45-minute event provided me with ideas and concepts that I know will bring up my campaign program 2 or 3 levels!  Also, since joining Constant Contact, I have participated in TONS of webinars on CC, social media, and webpage use from several providers through CC.  Some have been helpful, and sadly, some were so badly presented I left early.  But in all of those webinars, I have to put yours at the very top of the list.  Tons of content, organized thoughtfully, and presented in a very professional manner.   

I’m a retired music teacher, now teaching the teachers on how to implement technology.  I always wanted to know if my teaching effectively reached my students, and now, how effective my sessions with teachers are.  I want you to know that your efforts to present THIS webinar were VERY effective with me.  THANK YOU!!! Ray, St. Louis, MO”

To that, we whole-heartily say, “Wow! Thank You Ray! You’re kind words mean the world to us.”

Email Marketing: 5 Ideas to make it personal

March 2nd, 2018 by hutdogs

In email marketing, the subject line makes the first impression in their inbox. It’s your first chance to capture their attention and get your brand noticed, email opened and message read. So let’s make it personal.

Constant Contact recently introduced the ability to personalize the subject line. So what does that mean?

It means you can add the first name and other contact information directly in the subject line. For example instead of having a subject line that reads, “Here are 5 tips on Email Marketing.” You can personalize it to read, “John here are 5 tips on Email Marketing you can use today.

In order to do this, you will need to have the first name of your contacts in your Contacts List. Now is the time to start collecting more contact information with the idea leveraging it in your future marketing efforts.

The subject line can also be personalized with other contact information such as anniversary, birthday, city, state, job title and more.

Here are 5 ideas to make it personal:

  1. Use the contact’s first name in the subject line to spark the “conversation.” Everyone loves their own name, and seeing it in their inbox can lower the hesitation to open the email and start engaging. The example above, “John here are 5 tips on Email Marketing you can use today,” is one way it might be used.
  2. Make and “exclusive” offer for where they live. Imagine your business has a nation wide audience and you want to offer a special deal on your products or services across the country. Why not make it seem like an exclusive regional deal? Add the location of the email subscriber to the subject line, “Special offer for [City or State] residents…” They will see their City or State, in the subject line, which may make the offer / announcement seem more exclusive.
  3. Speak to their professional title. For a B2B (business to business) company, you could add a person’s title to the subject line. For example, “How a [CEO, Human Resource Specialist, Manager, or whatever the title, etc.] can become more productive with the Art of Promotion online training.” It can help the reader identify with the subject as it relates to their job.
  4. Have a Birthday Special. Say you have a universal message that you want to distribute to the majority of your list(s). Your email but could capture the reader’s attention by adding a birth month to the subject line. For example; the subject line could be “3 ways people born in [Month] can benefit from___“ Everyone could then see their personal birth month in the subject line.
  5. Combine the first name with another personal data point. For example, combine their name with their job title, “John, other [job title] have had good results with _____”.

The idea is to make the subject line stand out in a personal manner. It also means that the content that you are delivering needs to live up to your subject line. Don’t try to trick them or mislead them in the subject line especially if you are personalizing the subject line. The more you can personalize your marketing efforts the more chance people will respond to your campaigns favorably.

Get creative, get personal and get results!