Hello Richmond marketing community!

Welcome to the start of a new chapter and Board year! I am honored to be your 2020-2021 President. This year’s Board has many familiar faces who have served our marketing community for many years, as well as some new faces that are energized and ready to bring new ideas to the chapter.

As we start this chapter year in the midst of extraordinary circumstances, we are working hard to adapt to ensure we continue to be the vital community for all marketers to learn, connect, serve and grow. Over the past two months, the Board has been meeting and making tough decisions to ensure we keep the safety of our members as our top priority. For August through January, we will continue to host all virtual events, and reassess in January for the reminder of the chapter year.

Our Board’s inspiration & vision this year is to “Be Agile. Be Creative. Be Positive.”  While this is by no means the year we were hoping for, we are committed to bringing top-notch programming and opportunities for our community to network and connect.

I hope to see you soon virtually and again in person very soon!


Alex Mercer
President, AMA Richmond

Business cards are sometimes the only connection to a prospect. When reviewing business cards, many prospects will only reach out to a few contacts. A well-made and thoughtful business card can make a significant impression. If your business card doesn’t stand out, then you may well be overlooked.

Many businesses look for the cheapest and quickest option for business cards, not realizing that a business card may be one of their most important marketing tools. An eye-catching and easy-to-read design, paired with a high-quality stock and interesting texture, could make all the difference in the world between a brand new client and radio silence.

Here are some creative ways to make your business cards stand out in a crowd.

1. Use a unique material

There are a million different types of paper out there, and yet most business cards use your standard white card stock. Try looking at heavier weights of paper that will make your card feel more stable (these are also easier to slide into a wallet and less likely to bend). Look at different colors – white isn’t the only option! Papers come in a variety of colors, textures and subtle patterns that can make or break a design. And who said you even needed to use paper? Business cards have come a long way in recent years, and many can be found made of lightweight plastic, cotton, wood and even metal!

2. Create texture through technique

Humans are tactile creatures, so adding texture to your business card with unique papers (#1) or through printing techniques can really elevate the design. Embossing your company logo on the back of the card or using letterpress engraving are all ways to make your card feel different in the hands of a prospect. This will almost guarantee getting a second look and standing out.

3. Try a different shape or dimension

All business cards don’t have to be the standard 3.5” x 2” rectangle. Do something different by adding rounded corners or making them a unique size. You could even create a completely custom shape. If you can incorporate the shape of the company’s logo or an element of the brand, you could really differentiate your company from your competitors.

And if you are willing to spend a little more, then making your business card three-dimensional is a great way to have it stand out.

4. Clear, concise information

Ultimately, your business card needs to serve the purpose of clearly providing contact information. Legible typography with a clear hierarchy of content should be a given. And if you want to urge prospects to contact you in a certain manner, then let that detail standout (i.e. bold your main phone number).

/ / /

While you may not be able to get 5,000 cards for $5, spending a little extra money on a unique business card could mean beating out your competition by getting the first call from a prospect. Having an interesting business card shows a potential client that you pay attention to detail, have a creative eye and put out high-quality work – all the way down to your business cards.

AMA National provides tons of valuable content for its members. Here are some blog posts, upcoming events and webinars that you should know about:

Recent Blog Posts

Upcoming Webinars

Upcoming In-Person Conferences


AMA National provides tons of valuable content for its members. Here are some blog posts, upcoming events and webinars that you should know about:

Recent Blog Posts

Upcoming Webinars

Upcoming In-Person Conferences


AMA National provides tons of valuable content for its members. Here are some blog posts, upcoming events and webinars that you should know about:

Recent Blog Posts

Upcoming Webinars

Upcoming In-Person Conferences


Social media marketing has become a necessary and valuable marketing tool for businesses today. It’s one of the best ways to increase awareness and connect with an audience, but it can also help you grow your business and generate leads—if you do it right.

So to give your business some practical direction, we’ve outlined seven social media marketing pitfalls to avoid.

1. Not having a strategy

Social media should be treated as any other marketing initiative you undertake—starting first and foremost with strategy.  Many businesses jump into social media with no real strategy or gameplan. They’re “doing” social media but their overall efforts are disjointed and lacking direction and focus. Proper strategic planning is critical to the success of your social media marketing and should be the foundation of everything you do. Be sure to align your social media efforts with your overall marketing strategy and set measurable goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge success.

2. Being on EVERY social media channel

If you try to be on every popular social media channel, you will ultimately spread yourself too thin and become overwhelmed. And not all social media channels make sense for every business and every industry. Start with just one or two social media channels that fit best with your business and audience. LinkedIn is usually a good place to start for most businesses, since it is a professional networking channel. Once you are comfortable and in a rhythm of posting often, then you can begin to expand to other channels as they make sense.

3. Not being consistent

One of the worst things you can do is set up a social media account and then leave it dormant for days or even weeks. One way to prevent this is to dedicate an employee to doing your social media so that it doesn’t get put on the back burner. Then, make sure they are posting at least a few times per week, but daily is preferred. Staying active is key to building your following and increasing brand awareness.

4. Using social media as a sales platform

While social media is helpful for building your business, it is not the place to pitch your products or services. People will quickly leave your page and unfollow you if you solely trying to sell. Incorporate the content marketing philosophy of adding value and providing relevant information into your social media content strategy.  Social media provides an informal space for you to show off your company culture and thought leadership in your industry. Sharing industry articles and your blog posts will provide value for your followers and keep them engaged with your business.

5. Having an intern do it all

While it’s fine for interns to help execute your social media, it’s vital that there is someone from management that is driving the strategy, planning and content. If not, then your social media marketing can quickly become unaligned with your brand. Just like you wouldn’t send an intern alone to a tradeshow or press conference, you shouldn’t have them posting content online without strategic guidance and oversight.

6. Not engaging with followers

Social media should not be a one-way street. To be successful and build a following that matters, you have to be social! Share others’ posts on Facebook. Ask questions. Answer questions. Retweet. Share articles. Thank people for retweeting your posts. Repin. Like others’ posts. These are all ways to be involved in social media. The more engagement, the better; so don’t forget the social in social media!

7. Not tracking analytics and KPIs

Why set KPIs and measurable goals if you aren’t tracking the results? Social media should be treated the same as your other marketing activities and properly measured. You can’t assume that simply keeping tracking of the number of fans or followers is a good enough indication of success. Social media channels have matured to the point where there is an increasingly high level of analytics behind them.

So be sure to keep a close eye on your social media analytics such as Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Page Statistics and Pinterest Analytics. There are also tons of third-party social media tracking tools out there to help you measure the success of your social media and gain additional insights as well. Here are 5 recommended tools for social media management and measurement.

Your company’s website analytics (such as Google Analytics or more advanced analytic tools) can also be a great measurement tool to tell you how much website, blog and landing page traffic your social media channels are actually generating. When a visitor from social media is guided to a lead-generating landing page, it can move from what is nothing more than a fan or follower to an actual lead or potential customer. This is where analytics can help you prove the true value of your social media efforts, by keeping track of social-to-visit-to-lead metrics.

/ / /

While there are many firms on social media, not every company is seeing the value or reaping the rewards of their efforts. Be sure you are not falling into these pitfalls, and you’ll begin to realize the real value that social media can bring to your marketing strategy and business.

Only about 2% of first time visitors to a company’s website are ready to make a purchase. The B2B sales cycle can be quite long, so leveraging retargeting technology can be a great way to bring potential leads back to your website that didn’t “convert” the first time.

While retargeting continues to gain traction in B2B marketing, forty-six percent of search engine marketing professionals believe retargeting is the most underused online marketing technology available. Due to it’s effectiveness in reengaging previous website visitors and helping to convert leads, your B2B online marketing program could greatly benefit from this technology.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting, also called remarketing, is a marketing technology that helps reengage prospects who have previously visited your website by showing them ads as they browse the web. It allows you to promote a product or service to people who have previously interacted with your company, but just might not be ready to purchase yet—keeping you top of mind and increasing brand awareness.

Search retargeting is not the same thing as site retargeting. Search retargeting focuses on engaging new prospects that have an interest in your product or service but might not be aware of your brand yet. However, this post will focus on using site retargeting to attract prospects back to your website and increasing conversions.

Site retargeting can be accomplished in several ways such as display ads, search, banner ads, etc. Here are a few companies that provide this service:

– Google Adwords Remarketing
– ReTargeter
– AdRoll
– FetchBack
– Perfect Audience

Why site retargeting matters

Site retargeting is an effective way to target a narrow audience and nurture leads. It’s an alternative to mass digital advertising, and is a way to spend your advertising dollars more wisely—targeting people that have already peaked an interest in your brand. Retargeting can boost ad response up to 400%.

Site retargeting complements the longer B2B sales cycle since it keeps your brand top of mind with prospects as they research and do their due diligence. Retargeting could even help shorten the sales cycle by nurturing leads. It also provides an opportunity to cross sell other products or services you offer that complement the original item.

Best practices

Retargeting is best utilized by segmenting your visitors to provide the most relevant ads possible. For example, if one visitor looked at Product A, you’ll want to segment them from visitors that looked at Product B. Segmenting allows your campaign to provide the most relevant ads possible and increase your chances of clickthroughs.

Once visitors do come back and purchase a product, you will want to either remove them from your retargeting list or add them to a different list that promotes a similar or complimentary product or service.

Monitor, test and tweak consistently. Don’t just create your retargeting campaign and let it run its course. In order to have a successful campaign, you will need to monitor it and change your ads depending on their clickthrough rates.

Concerns around retargeting

Most likely we’ve all been exposed to retargeting. Some advertisers are concerned that retargeting is too intrusive or “stalker-like.” Others sometimes see it as spam. However, it’s really no more intrusive than any other type of online marketing—as it uses cookies stored on your computer to track your online activity. And no matter what, you are always going to see online ads. So why not have them actually be relevant to you?

/ / /

Retargeting is an effective way to convert prospects into customers, especially for B2B companies with a longer sales cycle. By following best practices, you’ll be able to spend your online advertising budget more wisely and convert more of your prospects into customers.

Hubspot and Litmus recently released The Science of Email 2014 that presents a report of observations about attitudes towards email marketing. The data includes both observational and self-reported data and gives insight into the science behind successful emails.

Observational and self-reported data were both a part of this report in order to show the difference in what people say they do and what they actually do. For example, two-thirds of respondents said they prefer mostly image-based emails, but according to observational data, the click-through rate decreased as the number of images in an email increased as seen below.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t use images in your email messages, but you should experiment with various images and text content to optimize your emails for the best response.

Here are some of the top takeaways we found in the email report.

Customers are more sophisticated with their emails

It was found that only about 12% of respondents read all of their emails. And 54% say that they use email filters to sort their emails automatically. This means that people are more advanced with inbox management and more sophisticated in how they use email. So it’s even more important for companies to have a strategic way to reach their audience and provide compelling value in order to be successful.

Younger audiences are more skeptical of emails

The survey found that Millennials (ages 18-29) were more likely to have a second email address to avoid unwanted email messages—meaning they are more skeptical of brand messages. It’s important to know that many in your target audience might not be providing an authentic email address. So in order to combat this problem, be sure to provide valuable content to your audience and be sure they know what they will be receiving when they sign up. Give them a reason to give you their real information.

Optimize for all devices

As expected, the younger survey respondents use their phones to read email more than the other users. However, desktop/laptop is still the most used device for all age groups. Surprisingly, people over the age of 30 were also likely to use a tablet to view email, so it is important to optimize for all devices when creating your emails.

In addition to devices, you should also optimize your emails for HTML and plain text. 79% of respondents between the ages of 30 and 44 prefer HTML, but only 49% of those over 60 do. Therefore, it’s important to know your audience to be sure you are giving them what they want.

Experiment with timing

Based on the survey, emails sent on Saturdays and Sundays had higher click-through rates (CTRs) than emails sent during the business week. During the business week, the last 3 days performed better than Monday or Tuesday. This is most likely due to people having a higher volume of email in the beginning of the week—meaning there is less of a chance of your email will be read.  Additionally, an email is opened by 50% of recipients within the first 24 hours of sending.

While there are ideal times to send out emails, it mainly depends on your specific audience. The best way to get the most engagement is to perform A/B tests and send out two batches at different times. Then, continue to experiment with your emails until you determine the best times that work for your audience.

Top email platforms

The iOS platform has an overall market share of 39% (iPhone and iPad) in opened marketing emails. This is positive news for marketers as CSS and HTML are well supported in iOS, so your formatting will come through as intended.

However, Outlook took spot #2 at 13% and Gmail took spot #4 at 10% of the market share. Both of these platforms can strip the CSS from your emails and not render as you expect. That’s why it is important to know the email best practices for the top email platforms.

Impact of copy on success rate

A main takeaway from the report is that emails with 300 to 500 total non-HTML characters tended to have the highest CTRs. So marketers should focus on using very direct calls-to-action without a lot of extraneous text.

It was also found that as the length of a subject line increased, the CTR of those emails decreased. Subject lines should be short and to the point. Give enough to catch the attention of your audience, without being lengthy. Thirty to forty characters are a good guideline to follow.

Interestingly, the survey also looked at the CTRs of emails that included the word “newsletter” in the subject line and found that emails that included the word had lower CTRs. The difference was approximately 30%. This is probably due to recipients interpreting it as a “newsletter day” rather than an email that contains important or valuable information for them.

Personalization matters

Emails that include the first name of the recipient in the subject line were found to have higher CTRs than emails that did not. Personalizing your emails makes your content seem even more valuable and relevant to individuals. Also, emails that use the word “you” in the subject line have higher CTRs than emails that do not.

Email marketing is a key component of any online marketing program. The key takeaways are that people want emails that are optimized for mobile and personalized to them. They want content that is valuable and relevant. In doing this, you’ll see your CTRs being to rise.

Social Media Examiner released their 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report that surveyed over 2,800 marketers in order to understand how they are using social media to grow and promote their businesses. This post will share the highlights from the report.

Hopefully these results and analysis will help you to increase your impact on social media and improve your overall online marketing program. You may be surprised by some of the results.

Social media is important for business

According to the survey, 92% of marketers indicated social media is important for their business and 68% of marketers plan on increasing their use of blogging. Another trend we saw was that podcasting is on the rise and 21% plan to increase their podcasting activities.

Facebook and LinkedIn were the two most important social networks for marketers. But only 43% of marketers feel like their Facebook efforts are working. We think that this is because it’s hard for marketers to see the ROI from Facebook, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Facebook is a great avenue to show your company’s personality and company culture. It can also give your company personality apart from your website that is business focused.

The benefits of social media marketing

The study showed that the top two perceived benefits of social media were increased exposure and increased website traffic. And 80% of respondents reported positive results. Eight-four percent of participants found that increased traffic occurred with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media.

More than half of marketers who’ve been using social media for at least 3 years have seen it help them improve sales. However, 50% of all marketers in the survey had not seen social media marketing help them with improving sales. This shows that it takes time to build a presence and audience on social media. It also could have been because the companies lacked the tools to track sales.

Another benefit from social media was a gain in partnerships. More than half of marketers who’ve invested at least one year in social media reported that new partnerships were gained. In addition, 66% of marketers spending as little as 6 hours per work in social media saw lead generation benefits.

Marketers also saw improved search engine rankings from social media. This was especially true for marketers that had been using social media for one year or longer with 58% reporting a rise. This further proves that it’s important to commit to social media for the long term. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. While you might not see dramatic results right away, after a year of consistent posting, you should begin to see results if you are posting quality, targeted content for your audience.

Social Platforms to Use

Those just getting started with social media selected Facebook as their number-one choice, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn. While the more experienced social media marketers are on those three platforms, they were using more platforms consistently and had a higher focus on content creation (i.e. YouTube, blogging and podcasting).

When asked to choose the single most important social platform, 54% of marketers chose Facebook as the most important platform, followed by LinkedIn (17%), Twitter (12%) and then blogging (8%). When comparing B2B and B2C in choosing the most important social network, Facebook (68%) dominated in the B2C space while LinkedIn (33%) passed Facebook (31%) for B2B marketers.

Importance of original content

More than half of marketers (58%) selected original written content as their most important kind of content, followed by original visual assets (19%) and then original videos (12%). In addition, B2B marketers placed even more importance on original written content (65% compared to 52% of B2C marketers).

When looking to the next year, 81% of marketers plan to increase their use of original written content and 73% plan to increase their use of original videos. Marketers also want to learn more about creating original visual assets such as infographics, which are gaining popularity in the social media world.

The survey also asked about outsourcing. Surprisingly, the percentage of marketers that are outsourcing their social media has been steady over the past few years, staying around 30%. The two areas that marketers are outsourcing the most is design/development and content creation.

Looking ahead

Sixty-eight percent of marketers plan to increase their use of blogging in the next year. They also plan to increase their use of YouTube (67%), Twitter (67%), LinkedIn (64%) and Facebook (64%).

Google+ has been a much-debated social platform for some time, but 61% of marketers plan to increase their Google+ activity in the coming year. However, about 1 in 5 marketers do not plan to use Google+ at all.

Interestingly, even though only 6% of marketers currently use podcasting, a significant 21% plan to get involved more with it this year, which is a three-fold increase. This is likely fueled by the global adoption of smartphones, Apple’s introduction of CarPlay and major auto manufacturers opening up the dashboard to third-party apps.

This survey shows how content marketing and social media marketing are important components of a marketing strategy. Marketers are using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as the top platforms and looking to continue to create original content.