Category Archives: Advertising


Something for the weekend: subject lines, squeeze pages and 1920s aliens

It’s been a typically busy week in BBS towers and we’re rounding off the week with a quieter-than-usual beer o’clock (since Miranda’s off in sunny Scotland) and a #FeelGoodFriday playlist courtesy of Spotify. We’re definitely ready for the weekend and reckon you probably are too, so here are a few lovely links to tide you over ’til Monday in case you miss work too much. Now go have fun in the rain.


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  • I always try to get a couple of cold hard stats from clients when writing copy. It can really add weight to a message and prove your point in a way that words just can’t. This article on how numbers can tell a story is totally spot on.
  • Email subject lines are so important but they’re often an afterthought. Mailchimp put together some basic best practice tips, like avoiding spam triggers (don’t say ‘free’ or ‘help’) and keeping subject lines to around 50 characters.
  • Getting the word out there can be hard for a small business – trust us, we know! So this handy list of ideas for marketing a small biz is really useful, and it was tweeted by Virgin Pioneers who are awesome.
  • Apparently minimal signup pages (AKA squeeze pages) get the most conversions.
  • It’s all about emoji branding these days.

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Reading & writing

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Everything else

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Bloodybigspider on Instagram:



Something for the weekend: sticky trees, prison food and why we love the sky

Sadly, the fabulous Rick Mclean bid farewell to Bloodybigspider on Tuesday and so he passes the Something for the Weekend baton over to me. So here are a few nice things we spotted online this week that you might like to peruse:


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 Reading & writing

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Everything else

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Enjoy and have a lovely weekend!

Bloodybigspider on Instagram:




When I send out email campaigns, I tend to shy away from personalisation simply because I’m absolutely, positively convinced it will be a massive, career-ending disaster.

Back in 2011 when I started working for Virgin Media, staff were in the midst of dealing with the backlash from a major email screw-up: the Dear Dean fiasco. Virgin Media’s agency had just sent out hundreds of thousands of customer emails all addressed to – you guessed it – Dean. Naturally the recipients didn’t respond kindly to the mistake; nothing says ‘we’re a big greedy corporation that doesn’t really give a damn about our customers’ like getting their names wrong.

Having just received the “Dear Dean” email I am seriously thinking of upgrading – Ericthelobster

Glad I’m not Dean, he’s not getting a good deal is he! Hope mines better – Lee

From now on Dean can pay my bills – dodgem22

That job was my foray into digital marketing, so the Dear Dean horror story stuck and I’ve been a little afraid of customised emails ever since. Silly really, considering 62% of marketers swear by them.

I did occasionally personalise the Virgin Media Shorts newsletter, and a freelance client of mine last year really liked the recipients’ names included in every email, but I tested and tested and tested before I put the campaigns live. I’d send it to myself, my colleagues, my friends and triple check every version until I was confident people wouldn’t be greeted with ‘Hello <CUSTOMER NAME>’ in their inbox.

But obviously I’m well aware that customising messages (when it’s done properly) has been proven to work: personalised emails convert.

That’s why I was interested to read MailChimp’s blog post on subject line data, particularly the part on email personalisation using merge tags and the impact it has on open rates.

Surprisingly (I think), they found that, while it’s far more common to use just a recipient’s first name in the subject line, addressing them by first and last name actually saw more success, with a 0.33% increase on the control, compared to a 0.09% increase for emails just using the first name. So subject lines like this are the way forward:

Congratulations, *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|*

Honestly I would have expected this to see a much lower open rate, since – to me – including a full name in the subject line looks extra spammy. But rather than being seen as junk mail, these emails are inspiring trust: ‘They know my full name, it must be legit.’ Considering how crucial it is in marketing to build a personal connection with the reader and make them believe you’re speaking directly to them, I suppose reinforcing that connection with the reader’s full name sort of makes sense. ‘They’re not even talking to all the other Siobhans, it’s just me this time!’

MailChimp drilled down further into the data and discovered that subject line personalisation works better for some industries than others.

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Personalisation has the biggest impact on open rate for government emails, and if you’ve ever received a campaign message from a political party you’ll know how good they are at using your name. Labour is particularly skilled at flirting you into submission by sprinkling a few [SUBSCRIBER NAME] tags throughout their copy.

But interestingly, it has a negative impact on legal sector emails. Presumably people don’t feel comfortable with informal lawyers.

It’s rather telling that marketing industry emails don’t benefit too well from personalisation either. I guess marketers are too savvy to be sucked in by that old trick, eh?

Tell us, do you personalise your emails and do you notice a significant uplift in open rate or conversion?


Snap: Furby and attachment marketing


I’m kind of in love with the gorgeous imagery over on Gratisography, a free photo library from Ryan McGuire. Every time I’m there I wish I could find a reason to use his picture of a slightly creepy papier mache puppet or a snake crawling over a crocodile’s back.

And then I thought, hey! Why don’t I MAKE a reason to use them. So each week (or you know, whenever I remember) I’m going to pick an excellent photo and come up with a slightly tenuous marketing post around it for the blog.

This week: Furby.

I was into the Furby in a big way as a child. They were super cute (those eyes), they boogied with the best of ’em, and they actually learned to speak English the more you interacted with them. I’m surprised the fad didn’t last longer because I reckon Hasbro’s Furby was one of the cleverest toys to hit shelves in a long time; certainly a step up from the maddening BEEP BEEP BEEP and daily deaths of the Tamagotchi.

I’m glad to see the little guy got a reboot in 2012 and even came with his own iPhone app that let you translate his Furbish into English. How else would you know that ‘ay-way’ means dizzy and ‘doo’ means interrogative? (I never subjected my Furby to anything that would warrant the use of either of these words, by the way. Poor thing.)

I came across a funny article earlier about Furby ushering in the era of attachment marketing. I’ve got to admit I’d never heard the term before, and a quick Google suggests not many other people have either, but author David Berkowitz makes the point that the emotional bond he and his wife had formed with their Furby is the ultimate marketing ploy (no explanation as to why a married couple own a Furby is given). Creating a product that customers literally fall in love with is a foolproof recipe for eternal brand warmth.

Berkowitz compares the strategy to Nike’s campaign for its Fuelband activity tracker, which features ‘Fuelie’, a cute(ish) little mascot who appears in the app to motivate you and basically encourage you to keep using Nike’s tracker forever and ever. Users get emotionally attached to Fuelie and want to make him happy, so they keep coming back. Bizarre, but that’s human nature for ya.

Why though, asks Berkowitz, didn’t Nike make the Fuelband itself the mascot? Let customers get all gooey-eyed over an animated version of the product itself, rather than employing a cheerleader to get them excited.

That reminded me of this morning when Steve and I had our weekly weigh-in on the Wii. We’re both trying to lose the stones (plural) we gained after our wedding, so we bought a Wii Fit board to use as a weighing scales and fitness tracker. When you switch it on, you’re met onscreen by a very cute animated version of the Wii Fit board who congratulates you on dragging yourself out of bed and making it as far as the television.

Now I wouldn’t say I’m emotionally attached to him, but there is one point in the proceedings where onscreen Wii Fit board gets all excited and asks if you’d like to hear a fitness tip. Naturally we always say no – why bother listening to advice we definitely won’t take? – which upsets the board and makes him flop down dejectedly and skulk away. I have to admit I always turn and look out the window at this point because I can’t quite bear to watch the poor little guy look so sad.

So obviously Nintendo’s onto something here. Make the product the mascot and sucker your customers into using your products forever just to keep that cute animation happy.


Bloodybigspider does management accounting

As we’ve mentioned numerous times in our weekly updates, we’ve been working with a bunch of wonderful clients recently. One of those is CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and we’ve been specifically working with the student recruitment team to help attract new CIMA students into the fold.

We’ve written everything from web copy (lots of it) to emails, and we even teamed up with the Bloodybigspider designers to create a snazzy animated video – script by us, design by Steve & co, animation by the awesome Anne.

We’ve been focusing more and more on the education sector recently, so having the chance to talk directly to school and university students, as well as to working professionals thinking about retraining, has been really interesting.

We hope that our work will help CIMA students and members go on to big things in the future.

Here are a few examples of our CIMA copy:

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343 CIMA_Graduates Emailv2343 CIMA_MBA or Master's Emailv2 343 CIMA_web copy_find out about joining us_school leaversv2

If you’d like a bit of Bloodybigspiderness in your copy too, we’d love to help so give us a shout.

Stay tuned for some more of our work samples.