marketing, design & other insights.

Red Pen Version 2 Released.

If you haven’t heard of yet, now is a perfect time to check it out. They just released “Version 2″ with some cool new features.

What is it?

Red Pen is a handy little collaboration and review tool that simplifies the process of creative reviews and approvals. It makes sharing, commenting, and getting updates on design projects lightning fast, and most importantly…simple.

The best part?

While there are some small limitations, you can share single files for collaboration for free. They also offer more robust project management options with their Pro packages, but for a lot of people just single files will suit their needs just fine. To get started it’s as easy as dragging and dropping an image from your computer onto their upload element.

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Once your image is uploaded, you can also name it and include a description:



From there you can send it off to the client for their review. Just click the “Share with colleagues” Button…

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…and it will give you a link you can copy and paste into an email to the client.



At that point the communication begins!  The client can reply to comments, or even make new discussion by clicking anywhere on the image.



Each person in the creative loop will now receive notifications of replies and comments on the file.  Making the whole process fluid and fast.  The developers actually made this tool because of their own frustrations with the creative collaboration process.  It really shows too, because it’s completely evident that Red Pen was developed with real world usage in mind.

Obviously this is a great tool for agencies, but even freelancers may find this useful in their daily dealings too.  So check it out!      



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Gmail goes all Pinterest.

We recently signed up for a preview of a new toggle feature Gmail is testing. They’ve made an option to view their “Promotions” tab in a grid view. Making it much more image heavy. To the point where it closely resembles the layout of Pinterest.

Most of the emails that will fall into the Promotions tab are your typical email newsletter campaigns. Which we think is pretty cool, as most of the time it’s the imagery that’s so vital to a campaign.

However, this new feature will also have to be coded into the html of your email if you really want to control the presentation of it. Right now most aren’t accounting for this change, as it’s still in a testing phase, but just to give you an idea of how it can make or break things:



As you can see, some things work out well, and some are just completely lost.  Just boring text, no Google + image, etc.

Most of this is just by chance since this new layout most likely wasn’t taken into account when delivering these email campaigns. Even we got lucky with how our last email looked:



Still, you can hard code the following options to control the results of this new layout:

-Company Name
-Company Homepage
-Google + URL
-Featured Image URL

So add that to one more thing that should be thought about when it comes to email campaigns. It’s not too bad though, as it’s just a couple extra lines of html. Granted, this is still just in the testing phase, but it’s so cool that we think it will eventually be rolled out as a standard option for GMail users.

And with Gmail still being the most widely used webmail client, it’s a simple fix to maximize your presentation.


The Oxford Comma.

Here at the agency we like to joke around a bit about the use of the Oxford Comma. While we know it’s perfectly acceptable to use it or not, it’s still a fun issue to play around with. It’s definitely dependent on how a person was originally taught. Whether they were ingrained with learning the AP style or MLA seems to make all the difference.

Recently, TEDEd published this video to address the issue once and for all!

So basically…

Well, it’s optional. Still. :p

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Email Marketing: Mobile First.

In the world of email marketing, it’s amazing just how much as evolved over the last couple of years.

Even we were surprised to learn that 51% of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. (Source: Litmus: Email Testing and Email Marketing Analytics ) What does this mean when it comes to planning your email marketing campaigns?

You need to think about mobile FIRST.

The solution? Responsive email design. Which will look good and be effective on both mobile and desktop clients alike. We still see a lot of emails only being built with traditional email clients in mind.  They look great in most desktop email clients, but they usually are very image heavy and not all that reader friendly when it comes to viewing on mobile devices. Image heavy campaigns also limit the way your user can interact with your email.

This is all old news to industry experts, but sometimes it can be confusing to the non-technical folks out there. So we wanted to try and quick make sense of exactly what responsive email design is, for those that still haven’t become accustom to it.

The basic premise: Content will resize and optimize itself based on the device it is being viewed on.

Your content will render differently when it comes to desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. The fonts will size accordingly, images will adapt to the maximum screen resolution, and other elements will drop in line while scaling accordingly.

To give you an idea of how the layout changes:


It makes the text easier to read on mobile devices, the links and buttons easier to click, and it reduces the need to zoom or vertically scroll.

That’s not it though, it’s really been proven to be more effective overall. Some of the other advantages of responsive design are:

-Increased open & click through rates/ROI.
-Doesn’t rely on image content that’s hidden if a user has display images turned off.
-Fewer unsubscribes.
-Better user experience.
-The ability to hide specific elements for mobile-only optimization.
-You can also better control the email data size. (Live text is smaller in size than images)
-It will set you apart from the competition.

As you can see there are a lot of possibilities with email marketing out there now. Audiences have moved over to mobile platforms, which should also now be the focus of your campaigns too.