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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to Get the Most Social Media Marketing Benefits from Your Camp Photos

I try to make a point of visiting at least five different summer camp websites and their social media sites each day. It's the best way to monitor the competition and all that. In many cases I've followed the same camps online for years. One thing I keep noticing is that many of these camps are using the same pictures and videos in their marketing that they've used forever.

If you're using the same photos on your social media sites that you used many years ago, I suggest you revisit this practice because you may be severely limiting your social media marketing benefits by doing so.

Some photos are timeless, no doubt about it, so this isn't to say stop using old photos. But in most cases it's better to use current camp photos --  preferably from the most recent summer -- to maximize your social media marketing benefits especially when marketing to kids themselves. Here's what I mean.

Imagine a child who attended your camp last summer is visiting your camp's Instagram page right now.  If he sees a photo of himself at camp last year, he's MUCH more likely to tag and/or share that photo with friends than if he was looking at very old photos from many years ago with completely unrecognizable kids.

On some of my own sites, I still use photos from 10 years back, but VERY sparingly. In order to get full and complete social media marketing benefits, the majority of your camp pictures must be current and new, not old and used.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Get a 58% Email Marketing Open Rate by Including Lists in Your Subject Lines

Did you know creating lists (numbered or bullet pointed) is one of the top ways to get people to share and read your content?

Let's say you're writing a blog post about why kids love camp so much. You could title your post, "Kids Really Love Camp!", and that might get you a few readers here or there.

But if you titled your post with a list, like "Top 5 Reasons Kids Love Camp," you will ALWAYS garner more interest than the generic example above.

Here's an email marketing tip. Try using lists in your email subject lines. I'll bet your open rate will be MUCH higher for those emails than your others.

Most email marketing companies let you compare and test things like this, so that you can use the data to continually improve your email marketing in the future. But when you're doing your testing, be sure to ONLY test one variable (such as the email subject line) or you won't get accurate results.

Here's what I mean in real life -- here's an example from an email I just sent out to my own customers where I tested the email subject line to get people to sign up for my summer camp.

First I selected 500 random families on my email list who've been to my camp before, but who have not signed up for camp this year. I wanted to get them to re-enroll for this upcoming 2014 summer season.

So what I did was, I divided my list of 500 families in two sets of 250. Then I wrote the email itself, which I made CERTAIN was the same for all 500 families. (The entire body, pictures, text, etc. of the email was identical for everyone AND I sent the email at the exact same time on the exact same day.)

But even though all 500 families got the same email content itself, each group of 250 got a different subject line so I could test which subject line worked better.

For the first group of 250 families, the subject line was this: "Sign up for Camp Today!"

For the second group, the subject line was this: "Top 5 Reasons You Need to Sign up for Camp Today"

Guess what? 

The first group had an open rate of 29% -- not too shabby by any means.

But the second group -- the one with the LIST ("Top 5 Reasons..." in the subject line) had a whopping 58% open rate! It was amazing, and it shows that using a list in the subject line did the trick. (The reason I know this is because it's the only variable that was different between the two emails.)

Try it yourself. Ask your email marketing provider if they allow A/B testing. (I use Constant Contact). If your email marketing vendor does not allow this type of testing, switch to one who does. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to Do a Joint Venture Marketing Deal

From time to time I get emails from people with topics that run the gamut. Some ask me for marketing advice, others just write to say hello, some people flat out challenge and criticize me. I was particularly amused with a message I got today from Tammy, a very angry person who is not a fan of my joint venture marketing ideas. (Tammy didn't say what camp she's affiliated or where it is).

 Apparently Tammy doesn't believe I practice what I preach. Here's what she said:

"Hello Eric, Most of the stuff on your blog is very good information, and truth be told I've used a number of your ideas to help increase my camp enrollment. But I'm calling your bluff on the notion of joint venture marketing -- specifically the "4th Commandment" of your recent "10 Commandments of Summer Camp Marketing" post and the numerous other times you've tried to jam joint venture marketing strategy down our throats. I have tried approaching two companies in my town to propose joint deals with them, but they both rejected me so I gave up. The fact is joint ventures don't work and I'll bet YOU don't even do them, either."

So what do you think I told Tammy in response? Well, I basically just thanked her for writing to me. Then I told her that not every joint venture marketing proposal she makes will work. Then I told her if she'll just be persistent, she'll eventually develop some very worthwhile contacts and joint marketing partners. Then I assured her I always put my money where my mouth is by showing her the exact arrangement/actual marketing piece my camp did with Delta Airlines last year for their employees (and which we are in the midst of setting up with them again this year):

After I sent this to her Tammy never wrote back, but hopefully she can use this a template for setting up her own joint deals. Good luck Tammy!