What is Aria and what types of customers do you work with?

Formally, Aria is an award-winning, independent, full-service agency with more than a decade of experience in destination, real estate and economic development marketing. Based in Dallas, our team of 14 work in disciplines including branding, interactive technologies, marketing, video and publicity.

Informally, we’re just creative, fun people, who love to design things people want to use, create brand memories and push the limits of promotion.

How long has Aria been an Advocate of email marketing?

We’ve used email marketing from the day Aria opened its doors in 2000.  Email marketing is an integral piece of most of our marketing campaigns. Not only for clients but also for ourselves. Email is still a very effective way to communicate with your target audiences.

We’re constantly refining our approach to message, format, audience segmentation, and a dozen other details of email campaigns to find the most effective treatment for our clients and their constituents.

While I was checking out your site, I noticed you use lots of really stellar imagery. How important are quality images in today’s digital marketing world? Particularly in the small business environment?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? And even that is probably an understatement for today’s fast-paced, me-first consumer environment.  People are busy, and it’s difficult to get them to slow down long enough to give you their attention and get your marketing message across. A well-crafted, beautifully designed piece can not only grab attention, but also leave a lasting impression with consumers, in a split second.

So, to answer your question in a word. Incredibly!

As you have worked with your customers, what are a few things you have found to be successful in designing emails?

Start with a simple design, and then simplify some more.  Keep it clean and ensure you’re encapsulating ideas in easy, bite-sized chunks to make it that much easier for your audience to digest. That’s what really ensures you get your message across. Also, we always keep in mind tech limitations with file download size and red flags for spam filters.

Since you focus a lot on brand development, could you give 3-4 tips and essentials when focusing marketing efforts on brand promotion?

Brand marketing is a pretty straightforward concept. It’s simply putting a comprehensive strategy around marketing with a consistent focus on imparting the brand components. It’s played out across the tactics you use to reach your audience.

It’s the execution of those strategies and tactics where businesses and brand managers often screw up.

A couple of tests you can use to avoid any misdirection in your own marketing efforts are:

  1. 1. Brand style guidelines are your measuring stick. The first thing you should always do is make 100% sure that each marketing component and promotional piece adheres to your brand guidelines. If the brand messages you’re sending out through social media, your website and your email campaigns are so vastly different that you don’t get a strong sense of brand cohesion when you look at all of those elements comprehensively, you need to reassess how you’re presenting your brand.
  2. Seek out, and listen to feedback from your consumers. Chances are you view your brand in a very defined way. And, a lot of times we find clients are surprised to find the public perception of their brand is completely different. And that’s what matters. Your brand is really how people describe you when you’re not in the room. Find out what the world thinks of your brand, and then tailor marketing efforts to change their way of thinking if you need to. What does Don Draper always say? “If you don’t like the conversation, change it.” It’s true.
  3. Quality over quantity. Remember your brand integrity and reputation is paramount. One awesome content marketing piece in support of your brand is better than 10 mediocre productions any day.

I see in your “Beliefs” section you state, “Traditional advertising alone yields unacceptably low returns compared to cost” – Can you explain what you mean by this and what is considered “non-traditional”?

By traditional, we mean print and broadcast. It’s the age-old tactic of blasting a message over and over again until it’s part of people’s nature. That really doesn’t work today where people are so inundated (every second of every day) by advertising, that it becomes background noise. It’s just part of the atmosphere — you start to tune out the neon of Las Vegas when you’ve been on the strip for a few hours.

Our aim with any client project (and our own) is to find the most efficient way to make our message as personal as possible. It’s really the only way to ensure you’re going to get the attention of your audience. If you can make it seem like you’re reading their mind, they’ll at least give you a few seconds to make your point.

We see social media, behaviorally-customized web experiences, and opt-in media (like email) as big players in this new marketing approach.

How can small businesses use email marketing to create an “experience” with their contacts, hopefully to build a lasting relationship?

Personalize, personalize, personalize. Use segmentation and personalization features to create content that your prospect wants and finds valuable. If you can add value through your marketing, things that enrich their lives in some way: it could be learning, it could be funny, it could be special offers, it could be advance notice, it could be tips, tricks and secrets… any way you can, make it about me, the recipient, and make it about what I’ve told you I want.

How important is it to make marketing, branding, etc personal in todays digital world? Can you share an example of how being personal helped a customer succeed?

See our previous response for how important we believe it is.

We recently undertook (and will be publishing results in our own case study soon) an interactive game for a client. It’s entire focus is on personalization. We’re using behavioral decisions (did they go to a museum or a concert, did they like a baseball player or a politician, etc.,) to create profiles of each individual. We’re using social media, text messaging, email marketing, and physical game components to personalize — down to the smallest degree possible — our messaging from here on out. And each decision from here on out only makes our personalization that much more specific and finite.

We’re really early in the stages of this new game, but we’re hoping for crazy engagement metrics compared to the one-size-fits-all approach of old.

We’ll let you know how it goes.

If you would like to get your company featured in ActiveCampaign’s “Marketer’s Spotlight”, please
click here