/ Social Media


Michael Egan

Group on Social MediaThe holidays are the time of year when people open up and share their joy and appreciation for each other with celebrations and, of course, gifts. With so much of our social lives now online, and e-Commerce steadily growing as the preferred form of purchase among consumers, the holidays provide an incredible opportunity for digital marketers to learn more about their customers. All it takes is a little bit of listening—social listening, that is.

Social listening involves monitoring mentions of your brand, your products, or your services across social media platforms, and using those conversations to learn more about your customers and how to connect with them. Good social listening is essential for a marketer, mainly because your customers tell you exactly what they like and dislike about your brand.


With the right social listening program in place, brands can harness the power of social listening to guide their marketing and sales efforts through the holidays and beyond. But it is essential to follow a few best practices:

Know where to look – While most discussion of brands happens on the major outlets like Facebook and Twitter, customers can mention your brand anywhere on the web. It’s important to do some legwork and find out where and how your customer base communicates. Something as simple as setting up a Google Alert for your brand keywords, or other terms that would be related to your products or services can help uncover mentions of your brand by up-and-coming bloggers, resellers, third-party review sites and more.

Stay organized – Your brand’s relationship with your customers will not always be straightforward. People can interact positively or negatively with your product, and it’s important to create categories to keep track of what kind of reactions your brand inspires.

Analyze – This is where your social listening efforts pay off. By pooling and analyzing mentions on social media you will get a clear picture of the impression you’ve made on your audience. Use this data to fine-tune your future social media efforts.


Having a social listening program in place year round is great. But even the most established programs have to make adjustments during the building holiday season, particular in November and December when shopping is expected to increase by 3.6% this year. Here are a few key practices to keep in mind particularly during this busy retail season:

Ride the holiday schedule – You really need to ramp up your social listening efforts right at the peak of the holiday season, which is generally the last week of November to the first week of December. In other words, if you start hearing “Jingle Bells” on the radio, it’s time to start listening.

Monitor individual products – Social listening tools such as Social Studio from Salesforce Marketing Cloud can help you set up keywords and phrases around each of your products, allowing you to compare the frequency and type of mentions, as well as the sentiments behind them. Many people use social media to find recommendations for gifts or special deals, so pay attention to what products are being suggested.

Pay close attention to the language consumers are using to talk about your products as well, as it can give you insights into how you could better communicate the features and benefits of your offerings.

Follow up – Social listening isn’t just about listening. Sometimes when customers mention your brand online it’s because they’re often interested and trying to learn more. Capitalize on frequent product mentions by engaging them online and replying to their posts. And of course, any direct questions posed to your brand online should always be addressed, as social listening provides incredible customer service opportunities, allowing your representatives to directly interact with customers and create a relationship between customer and brand.


The holiday season will be over before you know it, but that doesn’t mean you can tune out on what consumers are saying about you online. Keep your social listening program on high alert well into the new year as consumers are using, returning, or looking to exchange products they received from your brand.

And remember, the opportunity to learn more about how your brand is being perceived online never ends. You’ll gain valuable insights when you monitor how the conversation shifts month over month, year over year, and season over season.

/ Email

The “Pixel Perfect Email” and 5 Other Common Email Myths

Lauren Jacenty

office and business work elements

Much like Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, the ability to code the perfect email—one that renders perfectly and consistently across all platforms—is a complete myth. While some claim they’ve seen it in the wild, these tales are few and far between. And to email developers, these stories feel more than just a bit far-fetched.

Email marketing is known for generating $38 for every $1 you invest in your program. And this great ROI may be what keeps brands coming back to email year-after-year. It’s a proven way to keep in touch with your customers and prospects. And when done with the right strategy, you can see a great ROI for your program.

But just because something is effective, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Which is why we all need to stop believing in many of these common myths about email development, testing and deployment.

Myth: When My Email is Sent to Me for Testing It Should Look Perfect.

Fact: Not Necessarily. In some cases, your email will come to your inbox looking exactly as you expected it to. But in most cases, that’s not how it works.

The Q&A or testing process is meant to help uncover rendering issues on as many email platforms as possible. At Pierry, we often include clients in this process as they may be using a different email client, viewing on a different browser, etc., than we are.

During the testing process you should expect to find problems—and embrace the ones you have. The more that’s found during this testing period, the less issues you can expect post-deployment.

Myth: If My Email Looks Good on One Email Client, it’ll Look Good on Every Email Client.

Fact: Every email client renders email differently.

Your code will often look different from platform to platform. For example, when looking at your email using Gmail on a Chrome browser, a button that has been coded to have rounded edges will appear to have square edges in Outlook 2013.

Why? Because every email client has different standards for the types of code it supports.

Myth: I Can Design My Email so It Renders Perfectly Across All Email Clients.

Fact: Technically, maybe. But you would be very limited in your design.

Single column emails have the highest likelihood to render well across devices, but even the simplest designs have no guarantees. Many falsely believe that an entirely imaged based email will be their best bet; however, not only will this greatly limit your email designs, but having a fully image-based email can increase the chances your messages will be flagged as spam.

Instead of worrying about rendering perfectly across every email client, consider how it will render across top email clients’[ such as Gmail, Apple iPhone, and Outlook 2013 and 2016. And remember, there will be variances across how it looks across each of these clients.

Myth: Once My Email Looks Right on an Email Client, it will Always Look Good on that Email Client.

Fact: When Email Clients Release Updates, this Can Change How Your Email Renders.

Email clients often release updates that can affect how an email renders. Popular clients such as Gmail and Outlook, in particular, are famous for releasing updates that affect how the code is processed, which can throw the design of your email out of whack.

In some cases, though, these changes can be a positive. Recently, Gmail announced that their latest update would support responsive design.

And because changes can happen at any time (and many times without warning) it’s important to properly test your email using both an email preview tool, such as Litmus, and by sending to test email accounts across several clients including Gmail, Outlook, AOL, and Yahoo! when possible.

Myth: If it Looks Good in an Email Preview Tool, it’ll Look Good Live.

Fact: In 98% of Cases Email Preview Tools Are Accurate.

Okay, that 98% isn’t a scientific number, but if you’re running your email through an email preview tool, such as Litmus, you’re likely to get the most accurate view of your email across 35 different email clients.

But sometimes these tools don’t receive recent email client updates fast enough, which again, is another reason you want to test your email across test accounts on several email clients.

In rare cases, you can follow all proper testing procedures for an email, wait 24 hours to send, and still run into an issue you hadn’t anticipated due to an update that was released at some point between testing and deployment.

Myth: My Email Should Look Exactly Like the Mock, Down to the Pixel.

Fact: It’s Nearly Impossible to Have a Pixel Perfect Email Across all Email Clients and Devices.

Again, because of how different email clients render email code, you’ll never achieve this. And that’s okay! At the end of the day, you just want to make sure your email is visually appealing and renders in a way that doesn’t impact the user experience.

Until we have email coding standards, it’s best for every email developer, digital marketer, and CMO to stop mistaking the many myths surrounding email as facts. Instead, focus on designing and coding your email around providing the best user experience possible for the largest number of people.

And don’t be afraid to test new things just because it may not render properly across every single client or device. Interactive email components like gifs, live inventory updates, or loyalty point information may not always be supported across all email clients, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. Instead, make sure you put the proper media queries and contingencies in place to show users something that is supported by their email client of choice.

/ Pierry Gives Back

Pierry Gives Back: Re-Plate

Jessica Macintyre

Collecting food donations

What’s for lunch? This is a common question heard around the office, particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when we have lunch brought in for free. Not only is having free lunches in the office twice a week a great perk for Pierry employees, but it also gives us all designated time to sit down, take a break, and share a meal together.

But meals don’t come so easy for many across the U.S., especially in the San Francisco Bay area where an estimated 1 in 4 go hungry every day, surpassing the estimated national statistic of 1 in 6. That’s why Pierry’s Redwood City office decided to team up with Re-Plate, a nonprofit food matching service that combines three of our favorite things around the office—technology, food, and giving back to the community.

Through their platform, Re-Plate is working to lower the Bay Area’s 1:4 hunger statistic by matching extra food from businesses and individuals with the communities that need them. Donating your food is as simple as filling out a form and waiting for someone to pick it up. That’s it.

While many times the lunches we have delivered are eaten immediately, we often find ourselves packing the refrigerator with our leftovers. And even though we encourage employees to finish what’s left the next day, they often sit there until the refrigerator is either overflowing with food, or has gone stale.

Our behavior is not atypical: Nearly 365 million pounds of food is wasted daily in the U.S., food that could go to someone who isn’t readily able to provide it for themselves. It’s a sad, eye-opening statistic, to say the least.

Since January 2016, Re-Plate has created over 77,000 meals and recovered nearly 93,000 pounds of food. We’re excited to be a part of helping to increase these numbers!

Currently, Re-Plate is available to those in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Oakland, New York City, and Brooklyn, with more to come. To learn more about Re-Plate, including how to donate food, visit www.re-plate.org.

/ Email

Keeping it Organic: How to Grow Your Email List the Healthy, Natural Way

Michael Egan

Small plant on pile of soil in the garden

Growing your subscriber list is a process that costs time and energy, but the rewards can be huge, helping you create repeat customers and build a stronger brand reputation. Of course, the choices you make when building your list can determine how well you’ll connect with your subscribers.

While you want your email list to grow, you also don’t want subscriber numbers to increase just for the sake of increasing. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to rapidly expand your list to as many people as possible. Customers who don’t know or care much about your brand will quickly unsubscribe, or worse, will consider your emails spam, which can damage your sender reputation—meaning those who actually want to hear from your brand may never actually see your messages.

Rather than stuffing the list with disengaged contacts who aren’t likely to bring return business, take the time to organically grow your list by attracting engaged customers who want here from your brand.

Get Their Attention (And Incentivize Them for It)

When done right, having a lightbox or pop-up on your website can be your #1 tool in growing your email list. In fact, one tester found that using lightboxes led to 1375% growth in subscribers.

But be sure to use your lightbox gracefully, or it could come off as annoying. Consider using scroll-triggered boxes that appear once a visitor has shown interest by scrolling down the page to read more. Or only have the lightbox appear after a set number of pages has been viewed. For example, a retailer could ask for visitors for their information after they’ve viewed 3 different products.

And remember, no website visitor will give you their information just for the sake of giving it. (Or at least they shouldn’t!) Your lightbox should get right to the point. Make sure your copy is punchy, clearly visible and includes a call-to-action that encourages visitors to subscribe to your list. This should include some kind of incentive such as 15% off their first purchase in the case of a B2C, or access to an exclusive downloadable ebook, in the case of a B2B.

Regardless of what you offer, make sure you have a clearly marked “close” button on the lightbox to prevent customers from getting frustrated.

Make it Easy to Subscribe

Your website’s layout and design can influence the amount of customers who elect to subscribe to your list. Add a subscribe button to your navigation or footer. Make sure the option to opt-in is immediately noticeable without being obtrusive or distracting.

If you have an e-commerce website, add an “Opt-In” button in your purchase process that customers can click to be automatically added to your subscription list. Be wary of “Opt-out” buttons, which customers must click to avoid being added to the list. These have been found to be much less effective, as customers may not see the button, and may not realize they are being automatically added to your list. Let them make their own conscious choice to opt-in—they’ll likely be more engaged in the long-run.

Ask for Referrals

Never underestimate the power of the email forward. Word-of-mouth recommendations are powerful and have been shown to have a huge impact on customer decisions. According to Nielson, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people—even if they don’t know them personally—over promotional content that comes directly from brands.

Provide shareable content in your emails and newsletters and help give your customers the opportunity to organically discuss your brand in a way that doesn’t feel forced or inauthentic.

And don’t be afraid to ask for a more direct referral. Something as simple as “Like this? Forward to a Friend!” can encourage your engaged subscribers to pass your promotion, newsletter, etc. on to someone they know.

Take the Call to Subscribe to Social Media

Facebook Ads or Twitter Lead Generation Cards can help you find new subscribers based on demographics, interests, and more. In other words, it can help you reach an interested audience and connect with them both on social and via email.

The advantage to this approach is that you can reliably expect your ads to be viewed by a large number of social media users, targeted to your specifications, and include the option to opt-in right in the ad.

The downside to this approach is it’s not exactly free. While the cost-per-click rates of social ads are much lower than that of traditional paid online ads, such as those run through Google Adwords, they are still an investment. The more successful your search, the more expensive it will be. Consider your resources when planning out a paid traffic approach, and make sure that your goals are clearly defined.

Make Connections the Old-Fashioned Way

Website tricks are nice for growing your list over time, but it’s hard to beat old-fashioned face-to-face brand advocacy. Making personal connections with potential subscribers can kickstart the relationship between brand and consumer. Consider opting-in subscribers networking events, tradeshows, or at your brick-and-mortar locations. You can even forge relationships with communities by partnering with local nonprofit or charity events. Think outside the box when looking for new subscribers and you might be surprised at the results.  Just make sure you’re always following the golden rule—build based on quality, not quantity.

It takes time to grow your list, but don’t give up! Over time you can iterate and refine to figure out the best approach to connect you and your customers. And remember, you only want subscribers on your list that have the highest likelihood of being engaged with your brand. A growing email list is nothing if you aren’t seeing an increase in opens, clicks, and conversions.

And of course, keep in mind that when customers subscribe to your list, it’s because they’re engaged with your brand and the relationship you’ve created with them.  Subscribing is just the first move. It’s up to you to ensure that relationship is engaging and rewarding for everyone.

/ Digital Marketing

5 Steps to Moving Your Digital Marketing Goals Out of the Shallow End

Cari Rosenberger

digital marketing dataThink about the current goals you have for your digital marketing program. Do they include boosting sales? Growing traffic to your website? Increasing subscriber engagement? And how are you measuring the success of these goals? Are you using metrics like page views, email opens, and total revenue stats?

If you answered yes to any of the above, I’ve got bad news for you. Your digital marketing program has no depth.

While digital marketing is no longer in its infancy, the way many marketers define its success certainly seems to be. Goals like “growing traffic” or “increasing engagement” are all we had to measure against in the onset of the digital marketing boom; all we really wanted was to see our website getting visitors, our social channels getting followers, and our email lists growing. The access to the data we had was limited. And we used this limited data to create strategies and establish benchmarks.

Today digital marketing gives us the ability to know more about our customers than ever before. We can see how they are interacting with our marketing materials, anticipate their needs, and provided a 1:1 experience that is targeted and relevant.

So why are so many of us still relying on vanity metrics like “page views” and “email opens” to drive our marketing strategy? It’s time to move your digital marketing program forward.

Here are 5 steps you can take to add some depth to your goals and keep them out of the shallow end:

1. Define the purpose of your digital marketing efforts.

This may seem trite, but have you actually ever thought about the purpose your digital marketing department serves and its impact on your organization as a whole? Much like every business has a mission statement, your digital marketing department should have one as well.

Your purpose should go beyond the basics of maintaining a digital presence for your brand. Think about what your department is trying to achieve through that digital presence. This could include things like building and maintaining a positive brand reputation and/or bringing awareness to the benefits of your brand’s products or services in order to bring in the highest quality leads for your sales team.

Don’t feel like you need to limit your mission to a single focus. Your department likely serves multiple purposes. And keep in mind, those purposes may change from year-to-year, so revisit your department mission statement each year to re-evaluate and update as needed.

2. Establish your KPIs.

What, numerically, are you trying to achieve? This is your key performance indicator, or KPI. And establishing these up-front can help shape both your goals and the preceding strategies you’ll put in place based on those goals.

KPIs should be specific in how they will impact the mission of your digital marketing department. For example, let’s say one purpose of your marketing department is to help increase sales. Your KPI may be to increase top of the funnel leads by 15% in the next 12 months.

It’s not enough to just set a KPl to help increase sales. You need to be more specific in how you define that increase, whether it’s a percentage or a dollar value.

3. Define metrics for regularly measuring success/failure.

Once your KPIs are established, you need to determine which metrics you’ll examine on a regular basis to determine whether or not you’re on track to reach them. The metrics you choose should help you directly measure your KPI.

If you’re looking to increase leads, you’d look at conversions and conversions-to-close ratios. You might also look to see if the content you’ve created to drive in more conversions is being engaged with by visitors, as well as path-to-conversion metrics.

Sometimes identifying metrics isn’t so clear-cut. Let’s say you establish a KPI to increase brand awareness by 30%. There’s no direct data point in Google Analytics, or any other analytics program, to directly measure that. Instead, you have to get a little creative. Reach metrics and follower metrics from your social media networks are one way to help measure brand awareness. New visitor metrics in Google Analytics can also give you some insights.

Think about the data you have access to and find the most direct way to use it as a point of measurement. Rule of thumb—if you have a KPI around it, you need to have a logical way to measure it. And sometimes that measurement may have to come from a few different areas.

4. Outline a brief marketing initiative for each KPI.

What will you need to do in order to reach each individual KPI? This could include things like additional content, new pages on the website, an A/B testing initiative, a new email newsletter, etc.

You don’t have to outline your whole strategy. Just give some thought to what you would need to implement in order to reach those KPIs.

5. Put it all together.

Now that you’ve taken the initial steps, setting non-vanity driven goals will be super simple. All you have to do is take what you’ve learned from the steps above and put it all together—Marketing Purpose + KPI + Metrics + Initiatives.

So for example, “In order to help increase company sales by 15%, the digital marketing department will create a new section of the website designed to help more top of the funnel sales convert and monitor the performance of these pages via engagement metrics, conversion metrics, as well as conversion-to-close metrics.”

Okay, it’s a bit of a mouthful compared to goals like “increase traffic to the website”, but it’s also a lot more impactful as it more specifically outlines what you are trying to achieve, where you want to achieve it, how you plan to achieve it, and how you’ll measure it.

Don’t let your digital marketing department run based on shallow goals that don’t mean anything. Instead, outline goals that clearly demonstrate what you’re looking to achieve and how. When you work with goals that have depth you’re better prepared to put together a truly robust digital marketing strategy, and you’ll have access to the types of information you need to adjust your strategy month over month, and year over year.

/ Pierry

Catching Up with the First Graduating Class of “Pierry Academy”

Jessica Macintyre

Pierry Academy GraduatesIt’s no secret that in the digital marketing world, the skills of developers are in high demand—particularly the skills of developers familiar with Salesforce and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. However, many the curriculum of most undergraduate programs and coding boot camps don’t have the opportunity to cover the many intricacies of these complex marketing platforms, meaning employers are left to fill that gap, often resorting to developers having to learn as they go on live-client accounts.

Needless to say, this system is not always ideal, especially when your client base is on a constant increase.

To remedy this, Pierry introduced “Pierry Academy” an intense 4-week pre-employment training program designed to train developers in the Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform and various integration processes.

All participants in the Pierry Academy were recent graduates from San Francisco’s General Assembly, a global network of campuses that provides technical, creative, and business training programs designed to prepare students for today’s technological needs. Each participant was interviewed by Pierry staff and chosen to participate in our Pierry Academy with the understanding that successful completion would result in permanent employment.

Over the course of four weeks, the Academy participants came to the Pierry headquarters in Redwood City, CA, where they participated in intense training sessions, while also gaining exposure to real-life, hands on client work.

We are happy to announce we had a 100% passing rate among our academy participants, giving them the knowledge and experience to not only work in Salesforce, but also some real-world experience dealing with the multiple, often complex implementation issues that our clients require

But what made Pierry Academy so successful? We caught up with three of our recent grads (Hila Vaisler, Ayush Jha and Bryan Smith) to discuss life after post-Academy:

What was your biggest takeaway from Pierry Academy?


I really appreciated the technical knowledge that I gained from the class, especially since I haven’t worked in Salesforce and Marketing Cloud before. We learned its uses and how to create data extensions, Journeys etc. It was nice coming in as a group with people you went to school with, getting trained as group and working on projects together. It felt like a continuation of General Assembly because we were all together in a class setting.


I liked the opportunity to collaborate as a team, and having experienced implementation consultants come in and show how the teams behave and work together was helpful. Everyone was very accommodating and Pierry’s organizational structure made it easy to get to know everyone quickly.


I feel I got a much better understanding of the Salesforce atmosphere.

What was your favorite part about “Life at Pierry”?


The people! It’s a younger environment with a lot of collaboration. And someone is always there to help when questions come up. Everyone is willing to drop what they are doing and help out, even if they are busy. All the functions outside of work are fun also– getting to meet the team in a more casual environment, plus having the dogs around is great.


The open atmosphere. I like knowing that as long as I work hard and am responsible for my tasks, then everything will go well. The youthful environment is great because people are more open to new ideas for tasks and projects.


The vibe and the people. It’s a work hard / play hard attitude.

What has been one of your biggest challenges since working at Pierry?


Dodging all the nerf bullets!


Getting ready for the certifications has been tough and getting trained up on the tools takes time.


Working through the technical issues since I am new to the Salesforce platform.

What advice would you give to new hires at Pierry?


Talk to everyone and ask questions, ask for examples of similar work that they have done in the past.


Focus on getting familiar with Salesforce and ExactTarget. Everyone is super helpful and is willing to help you.


Practice makes perfect. Make sure you go through the program and understand how it works and is set up.

We’re excited to see our recent Pierry Academy graduates working on projects and fully integrated into the day-to-day. As we continue to grow, we’ll be working to build more programs like Pierry Academy to not only help empower potential employees to build upon their skills, but to ensure every brand and company we partner with at Pierry has the resources to make their marketing technology needs a reality.

Congrats to the first graduating class of Pierry Academy! Excited to have you in the Pierry family and to see what you can do!

/ News

Pierry Inc. Ranked #6 Among the Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times

Cari Rosenberger

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Oct. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Pierry Inc., an industry-leading marketing software integration and solutions company, today announced it has been ranked #6 Fastest Growing Company of 2016 by the San Francisco Business Times on the 25th annual Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area list, an exclusive ranking of the region’s fastest growing private companies; one of the most important segments of the local economy. The winners and rankings were unveiled at an awards gala on October 13, 2016 at the Four Seasons San Francisco. Ranked #21 in 2015, this year’s ranking reflects Pierry’s accelerating momentum over the past 12 months.

“Pierry is pleased to be included among some of the Bay Area’s most prestigious companies in the 2016 edition of Fastest Growing Companies by the San Francisco Business Times,” said Josh Pierry, Founder and CEO of Pierry Inc. “Thanks to some thoughtful growth initiatives over the past year and some excellent work by our dedicated team, Pierry continues to add manpower and functional expertise that enable us to partner with marquee brands across a variety of sectors and deliver the best possible results for our clients.”

The companies on this year’s list ranked between 58.9 percent and 2,786.5 percent growth. Companies are ranked by percentage of revenue growth increase between 2013 and 2015. They were required to have at least $200,000 in revenue in 2013, and be privately held and headquartered in the counties covered by the Business Times — San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa & Marin, plus Palo Alto.

As evidenced by the ranking, 2016 was a year of remarkable growth for Pierry. They kicked off the New Year with the acquisition of C.TRAC Inc., an interactive agency specializing in digital and direct mail marketing, which doubled their workforce and client base. A few days later, Pierry announced a strategic investment from MDC Partners and Salesforce Ventures, which enabled the company to scale its Marketing as a Service™ (or MaaS) approach to clients globally. In addition to headquarters in Redwood City, Pierry now has offices in Boulder, Colorado; Albany, New York; Ruston, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Kyoto, Japan. Earlier this year Pierry was ranked #538 in a national list of the “2016 Fastest Growing Companies” by Inc. Magazine.

Today Pierry counts more than 100 employees and serves a wide range of clients, from start-ups to multi-billion dollar brands across all sectors. Their proprietary MaaS™ (Marketing as a Service) approach describes the unique way Pierry helps clients design, develop and execute marketing solutions that dramatically improve efficiency and impact, and increase ROI. The company is a Salesforce Marketing Cloud Platinum Partner, and winner of several Salesforce implementation awards.

“Our region is renowned as a hub for innovation and as an ecosystem that fosters growth companies,” said Mary Huss, Publisher of the San Francisco Business Times. “Pierry, along with all of the companies on the list deserve special recognition because they fuel our regional economy.”

About Pierry Inc.

Ranked #6 in the “2016 Fastest Growing Companies” by the San Francisco Business Times, Pierry helps companies optimize their digital marketing campaigns through Salesforce Marketing Cloud implementations and consulting services. Founded in 2008 by Josh Pierry, the company quickly grew into a global preferred digital marketing partner for companies in all sectors, and now has offices in Redwood City, CA, Boulder, CO, Cleveland, OH, Ruston, LA, Albany, NY, and Kyoto, Japan. For more information about Pierry, visit pierryinc.com.

About San Francisco Business Times

The San Francisco Business Times is the #1 print and online source for Bay Area business news and information on the most successful people, companies and transactions in the region. Every Friday, the Business Times arrives with an in-depth lineup of breaking local news stories, business profiles and valuable industry rankings. From technology and sustainability to small business, biotech, hospitality, real estate and banking, the Business Times covers the most relevant and timely topics for the Bay Area business community. SanFranciscoBusinessTimes.com takes the Business Times brand known for its insight, analysis and high journalistic standards and extends it to the Internet. Thousands of established and up and coming executives visit SanFranciscoBusinessTimes.com every day looking for the information they need to do Business in the Bay Area.

/ Content Marketing

User Generated Content: The Secret Weapon You Aren’t Using

Cari Rosenberger

Hand taking top view shot of table.We’re blogging, we’re info-graphing, we’re creating listicles, and gifs, and videos, and images. We need content for our emails, our website, our Snapchat, our Instagram, our Tumblr. New channels for marketing your brand seem to pop-up every day. And in our efforts to help our brand stand out above the rest, we’re all creating more content than ever.

And to be honest, we’re likely all creating far more content than we have to. Why? Because our customers are already creating content for us.

What is User Generated Content?

User generated content is, as the name reflects, content that is generated by the user, a.k.a. your customer, and often comes in the form of a review, photo, video, blog post, or a social media post.

This type of content isn’t created as a result of hour-long strategy sessions, persona development, or a deep analysis of your past content performance. This content is created by a real customer using your products or services in a real way, and sharing it with others.

And with proper permissions, you can post user generated content pretty much anywhere you need content, from your website, to social channels, to emails, to landing pages and banner ads.

Of course, like any piece of content, you don’t want to just use it for the sake of using it. Make sure you have a strategy around the types of user generated content you want to collect, how you’ll use it, why you’re using it, and how you’ll measure its success.

But Is User Generated Content Effective?

65% of millennials feel that user generated content is more honest and genuine [http://investors.bazaarvoice.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=649677] than content put out by brands themselves. 86% find that user generated content is a good indicator of quality products or service.

So yes, user generated content can be extremely effective as it gives consumers an objective view of your product or services, showing your brand and building its reputation in a way that your marketing department can’t.

How Can I Get User Generated Content?

Getting user generated content isn’t as difficult as some marketers may think. Really all you have to do is ask for it.


Reviews are one of the oldest forms of user generated content. But don’t anticipate that customers will actively think to go and leave a review on your website after they’ve received their purchase. About a week or so after they’ve received their product, send a quick follow-up email asking them to let you know what they thought.

Often just asking for a star ranking (i.e. 1-5 stars) and a simple description of their experience with your product or service is enough, but you could also take the review process one step further by asking customers to upload a photo of them using the product.

This tactic can be especially useful for retailers looking to create content shaped around how actual customers are wearing the items they sell. Not only does having these customer images make it easier for potential buyers to see what a certain item could look like on them, but it also allows retailers to show of the versatility of their pieces without having to pay for a stylist, models, etc.

Social Media

As social media has grown in popularity and new channels have been born, it’s become one of the best ways to gather user generated content.

Brand specific hashtags and special promotion hashtags are easy ways for consumers to tag images of how they’re using your products in their everyday life; for millennials in particular, social media is the way they find new products. Statistics show that 68% of 18-to-34 year olds are more likely to make a purchase after seeing it on an influencer’s or friend’s social media account.

Taking the time to create a clever or memorable hashtag [https://blog.hootsuite.com/4-excellent-user-generated-content-contests-using-social-media/] allows you to take advantage of content those users likely would have been posting anyway.

But don’t just promote hashtag campaigns on your social media channels. Include it on your website, in your email newsletters, on non-digital advertising spots, etc. to maximize the exposure of the campaign and the potential for engagement.


If you want to obtain a lot of user generated content in a short amount of time, a contest is the perfect way to go.

There are a number of tools you can use to help you run your contest, but in some cases, you can keep it even more simple than that.

Take for instance, Kissmetrics, a B2B behavior analytics platform, that created a Pinterest board to house all the entries for their Messy Desk contest. The entry with the most re-pins won. It was a fun, simple contest that engaged their audience, helped promote their brand through sharing, and gave them some fodder for their blog.

How Can I Get Started with User Generated Content?

First, think about where you might have some gaps in your content strategy, or where you could use some added support. Maybe you’re not seeing the type of engagement you’d like on your Facebook page, or perhaps you need some fresher content to liven up your monthly newsletter.

You then want to consider your goals around user generated content, regardless of whether you’re doing a one-off campaign, or if this will be part of an on-going effort. When you know what you’re working to achieve, you’ll be better equipped to determine where to seek out user generated content and how to ask for it.

Finally, always make it clear that the content you’re sharing is from a real customer. Your brand should engage with this user and their content as if your brand is a person and the customer is a long-time friend. This can help further promote engagement and help you drum up even more user-generated content.

/ Email

A Case for Re-Engagement Campaigns: Because Subscriber Numbers Aren’t Everything

Kathleen Battin

Welcome back on a post it on a corkboardEvery brand likes watching their subscriber list grow. Why? Well, that’s a great question that not many stop to ask. Really, the only reason we get excited when we see our subscriber numbers climb day-to-day and month-to-month is because, in marketing, bigger numbers are better. Except when they’re not…

Yes, you ideally want to see your subscriber numbers steadily increase. But what’s more important than subscriber growth is the number of engaged subscribers. These are the subscribers who are opening, clicking, and converting from your email; these are the subscribers who are truly invested in your email campaigns.

Unfortunately, these subscribers likely make up less of your list than you thought.

According to research from Silverpop, nearly 60% of subscribers on any given list are considered inactive, meaning they haven’t opened or clicked any email in at least 12 months. In some cases, they may have never interacted with a single email you’ve ever sent them, which was exactly the case for a popular Consumer Package Goods (CPG) brand we recently worked with.

With a subscriber list of more than 1.2 million, the open rates on their monthly newsletter barely made it above 10% on any given month. Why? Nearly 800,000, or 68%, of their subscribers never engaged with a single email sent. And because this client had never executed a re-engagement campaign before, there’s no wonder why the percentage of unengaged subscribers was so high.

What is a Re-Engagement Campaign?

Just as the name suggests, a re-engagement campaign is meant to help re-engage your subscribers. It works by sending a tailored message specific to those subscribers you have deemed inactive, with a goal of getting them to interact with your campaign in a way that encourages them to be active with your emails again.

While strategies will vary, you generally want to include the following in your re-engagement campaigns:

• A special offer or promotion
• The option to re-subscribe or unsubscribe
• The ability for subscribers to update email preferences
• A glimpse at what subscribers have been missing by not opening your messages

As a best practice, we recommend sending a series of 2-3 re-engagement messages over the period of a month. Each message should have a slightly different subject line as different messaging will appeal to different subscribers.

If a user does not engage with any of the messages in this series, or does not follow the steps required to consider them active, remove them from your subscriber list. Keep in mind, you don’t have to completely delete them. Just move them to a list with other inactive subscribers. You may find a reason to email them again in the future. (Note: Inactive is very different than unsubscribed. Anyone who actively unsubscribes from your list should never be sent additional messages.)

Making the Case for a Re-Engagement Campaign

Needless to say, our CPG client was hesitant to think that their total subscriber numbers could be cut in half as a result of the re-engagement campaign’s performance (and this is generally the reception you’ll receive when recommending a re-engagement campaign). So we focused on the benefits that come from this type of series:

1. You’ll have a more accurate view of your subscribers. Active subscribers are active for a reason. There’s something you’re delivering to them that resonates and gets them to keep coming back. By focusing on those active subscribers and how they’re engaging, you’ll better understand your audience and their needs.

2. You’ll gain a better understanding of when subscribers disengage. Regularly performing a re-engagement campaign forces you to continue to look at things like the subscriber lifecycles. When are your subscribers initially disengaging? Is it after one email, two emails, five emails? Discovering trends among your inactive subscribers can lead to a lot more questions around why those trends are occurring.

3. You’ll vastly improve your ROI. Every individual email you send comes with a cost. By no longer paying to send to subscribers who are disengaged, you’ll see a truer picture of your ROI.

And keep in mind, you should make re-engagement campaigns a regular part of your email marketing strategy, particularly if you notice that while your subscriber numbers are quickly increasing, your open rates are falling. We often recommend clients examine their inactive users twice a year, and to run a re-engagement campaign at least once per year.

Remember, Not All Inactive Subscribers Remain Inactive.

The point of a re-engagement campaign isn’t just about clearing away those inactive subscribers. While that’s a big, important part of it, these types of campaigns should also work to move subscribers from inactive to active.

In the case of our CPG client, nearly 80,000 subscribers became re-engaged as a result of their first re-engagement campaign. And remember, these are subscribers who never opened a single email from them since initially subscribing. In addition, our client generated $1,000 in revenue based on the call to action from these subscribers that had once been completely disengaged.

The Final Results

Following the re-engagement campaign, our CPG client saw their unengaged subscriber list decrease from around 800,000 to 730,000. And this decrease lead to some impressive increases elsewhere. In just one month, their open rate increased by 100%, taking them to a nearly 20% open rate.

Of course, the loss in subscriber numbers is a bitter pill to swallow. After all, we want all of our subscribers to be actively engaged with each message we send. But in reality, we learn more from the engagement of active subscribers than we ever will from the number dictating our total number of opt-ins.

/ Pierry Gives Back

Pierry Gives Back: Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Marianne Barisonek

helping hand
For many, Alzheimer’s is known as a disease that comes with many shocking statistics. It’s the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. It’s is diagnosed every 66 seconds. It affects more than 5 million Americans. But for me, Alzheimer’s is much more than facts and figures—it’s a disease that has changed the person I love most in this world, my mother.

Lucille Barisonek has always had a strong spirit. She raised five children; she worked as a nurse, a magazine editor, and trained to become a pilot. Even as she aged, she didn’t really see the need to slow down. She went on to get her diving certificate and — even in her late seventies –took up kayaking.

But my mother, who lived her life as an unstoppable force, has been no match against Alzheimer’s Disease.

I wish I could say that this chapter in my mother’s life was different, or that she was beating the odds and winning the fight. Instead, I’ve watched her decline over the years. I’ve watched my father care for his wife of sixty years while searching for a treatment or remedy that could slow the progression of this terrible degenerative disease. I’ve watched my mother go from a woman who would try anything, to someone who couldn’t remember where she was going or why.

Today my mother requires around-the-clock care. The only thing Alzheimer’s hasn’t taken away from her is her wide, beaming smile.

Which is why I’m walking to end Alzheimer’s.

On Saturday, October 1, 2016, I’ll join my team, Senior Care of Sacramento, in a walk to raise money that will support the Alzheimer’s Association and their goal to end Alzheimer’s. Held in more than 600 communities across the country, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the largest event for raising awareness and funds towards Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

Every dollar counts in the fight against Alzheimer’s. I hope you can join me in supporting the fight. Please visit my donations page for more information.

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