The Power of the Email Marketing Pivot

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The Power of the Email Marketing Pivot

If you have an email address, you're probably very familiar with enewsletters. And, as we all know, familiarity can breed contempt, which is why so many of your email marketing missives are routed directly to the spam folder. Audiences are tired of seeing the same old thing presented in the same old way. Which is why we pivoted away from the traditional "two column" format to a more accessible and easily digestible "links only" newsletter.

We initially launched our email marketing effort with a very traditional newsletter in the two-column format that allowed us to tell a few client stories, offer a content marketing resource, and include one of our popular blog posts, space permitting. After about six months of decidedly lackluster results, we radically overhauled our format, moving away from our traditional design to what could best be described as a "links only" format.

This revamped newsletter gave us much more flexibility, allowing for a short intro paragraph from our team followed by relevant and timely links organized by theme. For example, our most recent newsletter included the following link categories: "Filmmaking & Entertainment News," "Smarthouse Clients in the News," "Various & Sundry," and a "Parting Glance."

We saw an almost immediate bump in our key performance indicators, which continued to climb with each subsequent email. In fact, when we compare a typical, "pre-link" newsletter with our most recent newsletter (example), the metrics clearly show a dramatic improvement:

October 2016 (list averages to date)

Open rate: 15.6%

Click rate: 0.6%

April 2017 (list averages to date)

Open rate: 30.2% (2x increase)

Click rate: 1.8% (2x+ increase)

In addition to the metrics, we also received an outpouring of emails from clients, supporters, and peers that our new format was super useful and something they actually looked forward to receiving each month. We heard similar unsolicited praise from others in passing or during meetings. In fact, we're now considering increasing our newsletter production to two per month because we feel our audience is hungry for more. It also gives us an opportunity to display our effectiveness as industry influencers by curating the best of the best content out there. Of course, we also pepper our own blog posts and content marketing products throughout, but never "hard sell" anyone on our services.

Overall, we couldn't be happier with this newsletter pivot and we hope it will continue to generate similar results in the months to come. And if you're still doing email marketing with a traditional format and layout, we highly encourage you to give a "links only" version a test run, which is easy enough to do in most, if not all, email marketing platforms. We think you'll be quite pleased with the results!

If you'd like to learn more about making the transition to a "links only" newsletter, or have Smarthouse Creative produce one (or more) for you, please get in touch: http://www.smarthousecreative.com/free-quote.

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Smarthouse Launchpad Winner Announced

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Smarthouse Launchpad Winner Announced

We are delighted to announce the first recipient of our Launchpad grant for documentary filmmakers! 

We will provide services free-of-charge to the forthcoming documentary film, "On a Knife Edge." From director Jeremy Williams and producer Eli Kane, "On a Knife Edge" is a film five years in the making about Guy Dull Knife and his son, George, that unfolds as George comes of age on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation. 

The first ever Smarthouse Launchpad Grant will provide the "On a Knife Edge" filmmaking team with the resources they need to run a wide-reaching marketing campaign in support of their upcoming summer festival and community screenings. More information about the project is available at onaknifeedge.com

"We received so many submissions from exciting projects--it was a truly difficult decision. We chose "On a Knife Edge" for the unparalleled access it gave into the live of George Dull Knife and his family, and the skillful storytelling displayed by the filmmakers. We are excited to help the project gain exposure and build the audience it deserves!" says Ryan Davis, Co-founder & Principal of Smarthouse Creative. 

"We are elated to be the recipients of the inaugural Smarthouse Launchpad Grant! The Smarthouse team is creating an ambitious and adventurous platform for filmmakers to push boundaries and explore new ways to engage with audiences. On behalf of Jeremy Williams and the entire team at Normal Life Pictures, I'd like to express our gratitude and excitement at working with Smarthouse to design a campaign which will extend the reach of our film within many communities," adds Eli Cane, Producer of "On a Knife Edge". 

Stay tuned for more updates about our work on the project over at our Facebook page! 

 

About the film
"On a Knife Edge" is a father-son story about Guy and George Dull Knife that unfolds over the course of George’s coming-of-age journey. Under his father’s guidance, George becomes an activist and organizer, and begins identifying with the role of traditional Lakota warrior, which he views as his family legacy. He commits himself to the fight for social justice, but struggles with adapting the old ways and his father’s expectations to the modern-day realities of growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Told largely through George’s eyes, the film offers a privileged glimpse into the youngest generation of the American Indian Movement, as well as George’s own evolving notions of Native identity, manhood, and duty. His story is interwoven with animated sequences that depict five generations of family history, narrated by his father and based on paintings he has created to explore the continuum of their fight through the generations.

About the filmmakers
Jeremy Williams (Director) is a BAFTA Award-winning director who has worked in television for twenty years and made more than 40 documentary films as a producer and director. He is currently a lecturer in Film and Television practice at the University of Falmouth in the UK in their Department of Film and Television. Jeremy has been a long‐time collaborator with October Films, producing a number of television documentaries and two feature-length docs: London and Ghosts of the 7th Cavalry, the latter nominated for a One World Media Award for Best Documentary in 2008. Recently he produced and directed Restless Flights, which profiled Nobel Literature Prize winner JMG Le Clezio, and Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone, for Channel 4 in the UK which was shown in WNET’s Wide Angle series as Eyes of the Storm. Orphans recently won the Rory Peck Award in London as well as the Childrens’ Rights Award at the 2010 One World Media Awards. Jeremy made Jack with Normal Life Pictures, a short film about a Lakota Vietnam veteran, which won first prize at the National Museum of the American Indian’s Veteran’s Day Film Contest in 2010.

Eli Cane (Producer) runs Normal Life Pictures, a New York-based production company. Most recently, he produced the ground-breaking videos for Solange’s Grammy-winning song “Cranes in the Sky” and “Don’t Touch My Hair.” He was producer and music supervisor for The Market Maker, which aired nationally on PBS as a Wide Angle in 2009 and was selected for the Good Pitch at Silverdocs. He also produced a feature-length documentary for the Why Poverty? series entitled Land Rush, about agricultural land grabs in Mali and the future of food sovereignty. The film was featured at the Good Pitch London in 2011 and at IDFA in 2012, and has been screened in both the UK Parliament and the US Capital Building. In addition, the film became a center-piece of Oxfam’s “Behind the Brands” campaign, and aired in dozens of cities around the US in honor of World Food Day in 2013. The film was instrumental in achieving the campaign’s primary goal of convincing PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestlé, and Illovo to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards land grabs. The Why Poverty? series was a co-production between ITVS and the BBC and over a dozen other broadcasters, and when it aired in December 2012 it was seen by over 800 million viewers worldwide. The films in the Why Poverty? series won a Peabody Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2013.

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Bridging the Indie Gap - 2016 Vancouver Int'l Film Festival

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Bridging the Indie Gap - 2016 Vancouver Int'l Film Festival

Smarthouse co-founder and principal, Brad Wilke, presented our hybrid film marketing, audience engagement and personal branding workshop, Bridging the Indie Gap, to a full house of filmmakers and industry members at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Check out this video of the full 60-minute workshop we've developed to help indie filmmakers leap across what Brad’s coined as “The Indie Gap” – the divide between filmmaking as a passionate hobby and filmmaking as a sustainable career.

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Latest from Smarthouse Client Anvil Studios "Designed on The Hill" Series

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Latest from Smarthouse Client Anvil Studios "Designed on The Hill" Series

Interested in the latest design trends and unique design perspectives?

Smarthouse recently collaborated with Anvil Studios (Greg Janky and Treasure Hinds) to help launch their new series, "Designed on the Hill," for Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. The second post in the series focuses on Optimist Brewing's bathroom layout through a design lens saying, "The layout is also family-friendly: fathers can take their daughters to the restroom, and a couple can both change a diaper. Casual conversations can also be continued over a central community sink, which is also eco-friendly."

Read the full article here

The series will continue monthly--stay tuned for more! 

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Step-by-step marketing strategy guide

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Step-by-step marketing strategy guide

Looking for new marketing strategies, but don't know where to start? Knowing how to ask the "right" questions can save you valuable time AND make your final strategy more effective. 

With our comprehensive guide, you can feel confident that you're marketing "road map" will keep you and your team on the right track. We'll walk you through steps to make your messaging more effective, efficiently grow your audience, set smart goals, quickly identify challenges, and make the most of your in-house resources.  

Preview an example slide below, or purchase the complete guide and get started today!

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Developing effective indie film hashtags

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Developing effective indie film hashtags

There are about 500 million tweets sent each day, which comes out to approximately 200 billion tweets per year. That's a lot of noise you need to cut through in order to get the word out about your indie film. The good news is that you have a huge potential audience. The bad news is that the vast majority of them don't know (much less care) about your film.

Enter the hashtag.

If you're new to social media and wondering what a "hashtag" is, I encourage you to read this Wikipedia article on the topic. This post isn't meant to be a primer on the basic use (or definition) of a hashtag, but, rather, how you, as a creative entrepreneur, can use them more effectively to promote your project and/or career.

To begin, here are some of the most common film-related hashtags you'll encounter across the three primary social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram):

#indiefilm // #supportindiefilm // #filmmaking // #filmmaker

Incorporating these hashtags into your posts and tweets will immediately focus your audience engagement efforts and help get your content in front of the best/right audience, which is the one that's most interested in hearing what you have to say. 

Much like developing a script for production, your social media engagement strategy might start out as more of a rough sketch, becoming more refined over time until, one day, you find yourself speaking directly to your most ardent and engaged supporters. And using the right hashtags is one way to help you get there.

You should have a single hashtag that represents your film/project across all social platforms. Usually, it's your film title...unless your title is generic, in which case you can always add a qualifier such as "film" or "movie." For example, if your film title is #PIRANHACONDA, your hashtag writes itself. But, if your film title is, say, THE RED CHAIR, you might go with something like #RedChairFilm or #RedChairMovie. Hashtags aren't case specific, but sometimes using both upper- and lower-case letters helps increase readability for your intended audience.

Now that you have your primary hashtag, let's dig a little deeper with some free tools and see what else we can do to target your best potential audience.

Our first stop is Hashtagify, a free app that filters Twitter's big data "firehose" and creates real-time reports on which hashtags are trending. It's powerful intelligence that can help you better position your messages and, hopefully, serve them to the people you most want to see them.

First up, we have the hashtag #indiefilm, which is a great general hashtag to include (space permitting) in your post/tweet. 

Next, let's look at the correlations and trends for the top four most relevant #indiefilm hashtags, which is a great way to separate the digital wheat (or amaranth, if you're gluten-free) from the chaff.     

As it turns out, we're still in a pretty broad audience pool, but, depending on your goal(s), you'll be able to add a second (or even third, if you have room) hashtag to your post/tweet and drill down deeper into your audience pool. 

Now, let's say you have some experience on Twitter and you're familiar with and participating in Seed&Spark's bi-weekly #filmcurious tweetchat (which, by the way, is a great example of a hashtag), which will not only expose you and your film to a large (and sympathetic) peer group, but also help you put an even finer point on some of your #indiefilm-related hashtags.

As you can see, you've now expanded your hashtag lexicon to include a few more highly relevant tags, which you can now use to engage an even deeper, and highly engaged, audience pool. At this point, each related hashtag could become the center of its own "data wheel," giving you even more insight into relevant, and cross-sectional, audience pools.

Other powerful tools that can really boost your hashtag engagement game include Tweetreach, Topsy, NodeXL, and Union Metrics

Most people use hashtags on Twitter, but, with the rise of Instagram, it's imperative now for indie filmmakers to maintain a presence there, too. And one of the best, and often easiest, ways to grow that presence is through the effective use of hashtags. And by "effective," we don't mean two hashtags for every five words in your post, but one or two might help supercharge the engagement potential of your post.

Hashtags aren't magic, but they are useful, so find a few that make sense for you and put them to work. Today.

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9e2: art, science & technology (trailer)

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9e2: art, science & technology (trailer)

Smarthouse recently documented "9e2 Seattle - Art, Science & Technology," an exhibition and performance series that took place over nine consecutive evenings at Seattle's historic King Street Station.

The festival, founded by John Boylan, was a commemoration of "9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering" (October 13–23, 1966), an iconic New York City exhibition that sparked a new era of collaboration between artists, scientists, and engineers.

Check out the festival trailer, shot and edited by our creative producer, Rachel Green. Music by composer Monika Khot

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