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  • How to Develop Marketing Campaigns in the “Off-Season”
    TriMark office space

By Devon Cameron, Integrated Marketing Strategist

A critical aspect of running a successful business is knowing how to manage the ebbs and flows of the business year. There will naturally be points during the year when sales dip and you see fewer customers or clients walking through your doors, or less traffic to your site. But with an effective marketing strategy during your off-season, you have the ability to set yourself up for success when things pick up again. Exposure to potential future customers and nurturing current leads can help you move your audience through the sales funnel. Capitalize on the calm between your busy seasons and grow your company’s bottom line with the following approaches:

1. Build your network during the busy season.

In order to nurture leads in the off-season, you must first generate leads! Building up your contact lists when your brand is top of mind makes it much easier for you to nurture and engage those users when the dust has settled. 

During your peak season, ensure that you engage as many potential customers as possible through newsletters, emails, social media and your content strategy. Once you have those contacts, you can use the off-season to build on initial engagement and begin to instill brand awareness and loyalty. 

2. Focus on promoting brand awareness.

Think of the off-season as an opportunity to prime your audience for purchase before business picks up again. Sales should not be your focus during this time; instead, focusing on spreading brand awareness and introducing potential customers to your brand can result in a pool of hot leads that are ready to convert as soon as the timing is right. 

Brand awareness campaigns can include social media campaigns, incentives for word-of-mouth referrals and search engine marketing. These campaigns take time but pay dividends, and can be particularly powerful leading into a sales-focused campaign.

3. Continue to create good content. 

While sales might be down during the off-season, it’s important to keep top of mind with your current customers. Prioritize customer engagement by releasing a steady stream of content that champions your product or service and how it can serve your audience’s needs. That will ensure that they are thinking of you when your busy season comes back around. 

Releasing regular articles, social media posts and emails will keep your audience interested, as well as give you ample opportunity to discuss new products or services, convey brand values and generally nurture a stronger relationship with your audience.

4. Use social media.

Social media can be a powerful tool to develop your brand voice and show your customers relevant content, from frequently asked questions to new product offerings. Looking for a boost in online engagement? Social media can drive traffic to your website or a specific page you want your audience to be aware of. In turn, this can create a new pool of leads for a specific area of your business, primed to purchase when the time is right. 

Pro Tip: If you’re running this sort of campaign, a “link in bio” account like Linktree can be a valuable resource!

5. Encourage reviews.

Incentivizing customer reviews is a good practice all around. However, during the off-season, your customers have typically had time to evaluate your product or service performance and how they like it. This is an optimal time to ask for feedback.

Through social media, email or an on-site campaign, you can encourage your current customers to leave their thoughts. This type of feedback often acts as a major resource for future customers in the consideration phase, and it can be a powerful tool for your overall brand trust.

No matter what season you’re in, marketing campaigns can help stabilize your business and foster its success! By moving your audience through the consumer journey with targeted, thoughtful tactics, you can develop your warm leads into piping hot ones, who are eager to convert at the right moment. Take the valuable time you have when business slows down and use it to prepare for further sales to make your busy season even busier.

  • Social Media Strategy: What it is and How to Crush it (+ Downloadable Content Calendar!)
    TriMark office space

The average internet user spends 144 minutes on social media per day. With a holistic, well-executed strategy for targeting and engaging with users while they scroll, you can use social media to increase brand awareness, widen your audience and receive live, direct-from-consumer feedback on your product or services—potentially at a lower financial or time investment. So, what is a social media strategy, and how do you build one?

What is a Social Media Strategy?

As your roadmap to all things social, your social strategy outlines your goals and performance metrics. It includes your plans for brainstorming, creating content, scheduling posts and engaging with users on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and more.

what is a social media strategy

Why do I Need a Social Media Strategy?

Your social media strategy works hand-in-hand with the overall marketing strategy for your business, offering an additional route to targeting and engaging with your business’s loyal customers and prospective consumers. The benefits of a robust social strategy include:

Brand Awareness

Whether you’re a well-established business or just breaking into the market, brand awareness is crucial when it comes to selling a product or service. Familiarity with your business builds loyalty, so using social media to access new audiences and nurture relationships with existing ones can directly impact lead generation and conversions. The ‌content you post, how often you post and the messaging you consistently include can all increase your business’s brand awareness.  

what is a social media strategy

More Conversions & Tracking

With increased awareness of your brand comes increased traffic to your site (and potential sales opportunities). But while generating higher and more consistent sales is great, a social media strategy is limited in its utility if it isn’t paired with analytical insights. Social media can be used as another tool for measuring conversions. You can track, manage and remarket to your audience from all of the major social platforms, giving you key insights into post performance and audience needs. This data can be used to inform any content that follows, so you can be sure to deliver exactly what your customers want on social media.

Reputation Management 

Social media offers businesses a unique opportunity to interact and actually converse with customers in a clear, accessible manner. Reputation management is the process of interacting with customers—current, past or potential—and is an effective way to shape your brand’s reputation online. These interactions can make your audience feel heard, as well as provide key insights into your audience’s needs, likes and dislikes, all of which help you produce more targeted social content and build brand loyalty.

what is a social media strategy

How to Build an Effective Social Media Strategy

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what a social media strategy is and why you should have one, let’s take a look at how to put it all together. 

1.) Define Your Audience 

Start by defining who you want to reach via social media. This will inform what platforms to utilize, what kind of content to create and how often you should post. 

what is a social media strategy

2.) Select Your Key Social Channels

There’s no shortage of platforms on which to share your content, but the key to a successful strategy is consistent, targeted posting. Research each platform’s posting guidelines, typical user demographics and growth potential to ensure you can manage your strategy there. Note that it is more beneficial for your brand to stick to a few channels that are well-suited to your audience than attempting to create a strong presence on every single platform. It’s about quality, not quantity. 

3.) Plan and Keep Your Content Organized

Inconsistent posting may hinder your ability to build a following online and maximize post engagement, so keep your social team accountable with a content calendar. Organize your content copy, design guidelines, post date and time and more—you can start with our calendar template!

4.) Build In Time For Analysis

Building a social media following does not happen overnight. Once you’ve been active on your various channels consistently for at least three months, take a look at your performance using social platform metrics as well as your own. Determine how well the results align with your strategic goals and adapt your strategy if necessary. Remember that social media is continually evolving, so your strategy should, too.

what is a social media strategy

What’s Next?

Want to learn more about social media strategy? Check out our most recent social media blog post that covers TikTok and influencer marketing.

Organize your content copy, design guidelines, post date and time and more with our calendar template!

  • A Guide To Email Accessibility
    TriMark office space

By Michael Zembek, Graphic Designer

When it comes to email, the last thing a user might think of is how “usable” the message may be to them. But what if you get an email in your inbox from your favorite brand or store—a big sale, new products, or a coupon code—and it isn’t loading because the whole message was an image? On top of that, the CTA buttons were included in the image and the sender forgot to include alt text, so you have no idea where to click. 

This situation is upsetting enough for someone with unimpaired sight, but imagine that you have impaired vision and need to use a screen reader to visually translate the email.

As an email designer, it’s important to put yourself in the viewers’ shoes and picture how frustrating this experience would be. Not only would this person likely unsubscribe from future emails, but you may lose their business entirely. 

Luckily, there are tried-and-true methods to make sure your email designs are in tip-top shape! Here are some tips, tricks, and best practices to make your emails inclusive and accessible.

How Accessibility Supports Good Marketing Strategy

Marketing is the process of creating and delivering value to meet the needs of a target market—turning prospective buyers into paying customers. Having a good marketing strategy would offer the best results in that regard, which should include making accessibility a top priority. If your end products aren’t accessible, then your strategy may fall short of your goals. 

Here are some more reasons ‌accessibility is good for business:

  1. It improves usability for everyone, not just those with impairments.
  2. It helps you reach a wider audience.
  3. It increases engagement and customer retention.
  4. It sets you apart from other competitors who may not prioritize accessibility.
  5. It enhances your brand as one that thinks about its customers and subscribers.

Designing for Accessibility

When making your emails more accessible, there are many design choices to consider that can accommodate your audience’s needs. Here are just a few ways you can make your design as accessible as possible:

It’s helpful to think of how Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant reads emails.

Use accessible pre-headers and subject lines

Your subject line is the first impression the viewer will have of your email, especially when using a screen reader. This will set the stage and give context to the reader about what the email contains, so they will know right away if the content applies to them. Avoid confusing phrasing, overly technical terms, or anything else that may confuse the reader or be easily misunderstood when read by a screen reader. It’s helpful to think of how Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant reads emails. Typically, they will read the subject line first and then the pre-header text to give some background.

Pre-headers and subject lines example image
Example of how a subject line and pre-header text appears in your mobile inbox.

Avoid designing image-only emails

Though it may be easier to simply design an all-image email, it’s challenging to make them accessible. Screen readers cannot interpret the content of an image and instead rely solely on “live text.” Live text is any form of copy contained in the email’s HTML code, which is immediately available when the email loads.

It will also be difficult to describe an all-image email using “alt text.” Alt text is live text that is embedded in an image’s HTML code that, when the image doesn’t load or a screen reader is in use, will be visible and readable in place of the image. If a screen reader can’t discern your email, you will likely ‌see a decrease in engagement and subscriber retention.

Use acceptable color contrast

Contrast ratio is important for design of any kind. Contrast is the difference between a background color and a foreground color, which is vitally important to those with visual impairments.

To test this for yourself, run your color scheme through a contrast checker. A 1:1 ratio has little contrast, while black text on a white background has a 21:1 ratio—the highest possible result. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend a minimum ratio of 4.5:1 for anything under 18pt, and 3:1 for text larger than 23pt.

Contrast checker preview
The results from the contrast checker will look similar to this, giving you an indicator that’s either green (good contrast) or red (bad contrast).

Make sure your text is readable

Small font sizes are hard to read, whether you’re partially blind or simply trying to read an email on your phone. To enhance readability, make sure your fonts are at least 14pt, though this recommendation may vary since not all fonts are a uniform size.

Consider your typography and general type layout as well—your font should be legible, spaced appropriately, and kept in a logical reading structure. Center-aligned paragraphs are ‌harder to read for those with dyslexia, so when in doubt, stick to left-aligned paragraphs.

Differentiate your links

If someone with colorblindness reads your email, it’s important to set your links apart from the main body copy. Make sure that the inline links stand out and look clickable. Consider color contrast in this situation as well, as this will make the link’s clickability apparent for people both with and without visual impairments.

High contrast CTA and link example
The above example shows an inline link and CTA button with bright, high-contrast colors that set them apart from the rest of the body copy.

Don’t forget about dark mode!

Dark mode is a display option that has been slowly creeping into the email design world for several years. Dark mode inverts the colors in an email—meaning dark text is converted to light and light backgrounds are converted to dark.

The above email shows how Gmail inverts email colors when dark mode is in use.

At first glance, this seems like a good way to reduce eye strain for viewers, but it also produces more problems when it comes to making sure the color contrast in your design is accessible. Email clients are also inconsistent in the way they transition an email to dark mode. This blog post from email marketing platform Litmus provides an overview of how different email clients handle dark mode.

Is there a simple way to solve for accessibility in dark mode? Unfortunately not. The best solution is to research your audience (such as what email clients they are primarily using) and extensively test the email you plan to send. Check it in your inbox on desktop and mobile, view it in dark mode, and test it in various clients.

Compassionate Marketing Is Important

While ROI is certainly critical to a good marketing strategy, it’s also important to walk in the shoes of your customers and subscribers. Providing the best possible design experience to your clients, regardless of ability, allows you to better connect with your audience and contribute to a more inclusive industry.

  • Top 5 Social Media Trends for Businesses in 2022
    TriMark office space

By Eugenia Hart, Social Media Strategist

Year after year, social media continues to expand the user experience and how we consume our favorite brands online. In its infancy, social media was primarily used to keep up with family and friends. It has since metamorphosed into an advertising candy shop.

Social media remains the ultimate playground to create engaged digital communities and the ideal space to convert fans into customers. Social app giants are ever-evolving as they find innovative ways to keep consumers engaged and scrolling for longer periods of time. It’s no surprise that brands are investing in this funnel to capture their audience’s attention.

So, what’s worth keeping your eye on in 2022? We’re sharing the top social media trends for businesses to pay attention to in the new year.

1. Influencers Run the World

OK, so maybe not the world. But it’s no surprise that the Creator economy is now worth over $100 billion and is projected to grow every year. Evidence of influencer value is seen in how social media leaders TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest and even LinkedIn are investing in Creator marketplaces. Creator marketplaces serve as a venue for creators and brands to discover one another and connect with ease. Millions have been allocated to creating these tools that cater to influencers.

2. Short-Form Video Is King

When we think about capturing the audience’s attention, short-form vertical video is king. The shorter the video length, the better. Being able to capture the attention of the viewer in the first 3 seconds and video view completion rate are two of the top metrics that differentiate a low-engagement post from one that skyrockets to virality.

Studies show that short-form videos on Instagram get more engagement—more than its competitor TikTok! Extra engagement points if the video production is less polished, spur-of-the-moment or incorporates unedited Live video feed content.

If you haven’t implemented video into your brand content strategy, now is a better time than any to jump on board.

3. Brand Transparency On Social Justice Issues

With the rise of highly publicized social justice concerns, many brands spoke out against racism with brand messaging declaring a want to listen, learn, and do better. The consumer demand to know a company’s stance on certain issues will only climb, forcing brands to rethink how they respond to social issues.

Additional topics that matter to consumers include body inclusivity in marketing, environmental activism and maternal and paternity leave. We shared our fave brands that took on social issues by navigating these worthy conversations. More and more customers are taking a harder look at where they spend their dollars and what brands decide to address issues that are central to their personal values.

4. Social Commerce Becomes the Norm

$1.2 trillion. Yup. It’s expected that social commerce will reach incredible heights in profit and popularity. Social media has become the one-stop-shop for a shopping experience. From product discovery to click-to-purchase and post-purchase support, everything is happening without ever having to leave the social platform. Evidence shows that over 70% of small businesses opt to sell on social media.

5. Continued Focus on Mental Health and Burnout

With lockdowns, working from home, and an increase in time spent online, mental health and burnout have affected everyone. Instagram is really leading the charge by displaying the importance of stepping away from screens via their Take a Break feature

This tool allows Instagram users the option to take a break from scrolling. It comes with expert-backed tips on how to limit screen time. Time will tell if other social platforms follow suit in the new year.

Social media remains a wild wave with new features to learn, new audiences to reach, and intriguing stories to tell. The opportunities are endless. If you’ve made it this far, you MUST want to read our take on marketing trends to follow in 2022.