One tweet for every victim of the terror attacks in Paris – En mémoire @ParisVictims


It’s easy to be cynical about Twitter. Is 140 characters ever enough to capture a thought? So the idea behind Mashable’s project to capture an entire life… it sounds absurd. But it works. And it’s deeply moving.

En mémoire @ParisVictims is “One tweet for every victim of the terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015.” Take a look, and keep a box of tissues at the ready.

Posted in Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Advice on how to write the perfect email marketing subject line for your clients

Example Campaign Monitor dashboard

It doesn’t matter how insightful, engaging or useful you make the content of your marketing emails and newsletters if people don’t open them.

And assuming your recipients signed-up to receive your emails, there’s only thing standing between an open and a delete – and that’s the subject line.

Anyone that’s spent any time at all working in email marketing will know how important that subject line is – and how tortuous the process of writing one can be.

Do you hint at the goodies inside, or spill the beans upfront? Do you ask a question or make a statement? Should you be playful, serious, offbeat, intriguing or factual?

Of course, there is no correct answer – different approaches work for different organisations, depending on the purpose of your communication, your brand’s tone of voice, and your audience’s expectations.

But knowing there’s a million and one ways you could go about writing that subject line doesn’t help when you’re up against a deadline and you need some inspiration fast. So here’s a little help next time you see the blinking cursor and want to test something new (and we strongly encourage you to test, including A/B tests to see what works best).

First, take a look at this post – it’s a list of 540 email subject lines from “successful marketers.” These are quite US focussed a little too salesy for our liking – but interesting themes emerge:

“how to” appeared 49 times in this list

“your” appeared 90 times

“you” appeared 83 times

36 emails had ellipses in them – … or . . .

Gary V used emoticons in some of his subject lines

Many included a lot of very specific numbers

Next, have a read of this article by everyone’s favourite podcast sponsor, the email marketing platform MailChimp:

  • Avoid Sales or Overused Words
    Most people know to avoid words like “free” in their subject lines because they trigger spam filters. But you should also avoid common words that are associated with sales, like “help,” “percent off,” or “reminder.” These words don’t always trigger a spam filter, but many subscribers will ignore them.
  • Include Localization
    Personalize a message with a recipient’s first or last name to improve open rates. MailChimp research suggests including a city name is even better.
  • Use Different Subject Lines
    Newsletters tend to start with high open rates, but these decrease over time. Keep your content fresh, and don’t repeat the same subject line for each campaign. If subscribers can’t tell something about your content from the subject line, they probably won’t open your campaign.
  • Keep Subject Lines Short
    Most people quickly scan subject lines to decide if they’ll open or ignore the email, so don’t expect subscribers to dig through your subject line to figure out if they’re interested. Keep your subject line to 50 characters or fewer.
  • Tone Down Promotional Emails
    Keep the message straightforward and avoid splashy promotional phrases, phrases in all capital letters, or exclamation marks in your subject lines. Subject lines framed as questions often perform better.

Campaign Monitor, another email marketing platform, have some great advice too about different approaches you might like to take, including this:

  • Personalization rules – It’s said that a person’s favorite word is their own name and now, we have the facts to back this up. Without a doubt, subject lines that are personally addressed, do the best – just don’t forget to test! Here’s more on subject line personalization.
  • Personal pronouns work, too – Don’t have your subscribers’ names handy? The popularity of “We” and “You/Your” shows that subject lines that make some kind of appeal to the reader are more likely to get a response.
  • Make it timely – Another trend to note is that subject lines that feature dates, or urgency seem to perform better than those that don’t. Holding your subscribers to a date to act, or letting them know that you’re waiting on them (with say, “Invitation”) can be a very persuasive tactic.
  • Be exciting! Finally, we noticed while doing this research is that subject lines that end with an exclamation mark tend to result in more opens than those that don’t. While we don’t encourage everyone to go overboard with enthusiastic exclamations (!!), it’s certainly interesting to see how a little extra energy in your subject impacts email behavior.

And, also from Campaign Monitor, these 8 great tips, summarised below:

1. The question subject line
Questions make great email subject lines because they get the reader to think about how the subject matter applies to their own life.

For example:
Do you check your emails when you first wake up in the morning? Are you a zombie without your morning coffee as well?

2. The ‘How to’ subject line
The ‘How to’ subject line formula works so well because it forces you to describe the content of the email in very clear language.

Take these 3 subject lines for example:
How to get better marketing results through beautiful design
How to win friends and influence people
How to get 1,000 new email subscribers in 1 day

3. The scarcity subject line
Scarcity is a powerful driver of human behaviour. When something is in short supply, our fear of missing out kicks in and we are compelled to act.

For example:
Only 2 days left to get 50% off shoes
Hurry! Only 3 consultation spots left.
Get free shipping if you order within the next hour

4. The announcement subject line
Using words like “Introducing” and “New” in your email subject line gives the reader a feeling that your email contains new, breaking information they haven’t heard yet.

Examples include:
Introducing Canvas: A better way to send emails
Update to our iPhone App
See our new design gallery

5. The number subject line
Every time we A/B test our blog post headlines, we find that the version of the headline containing the number outperforms the one that doesn’t.

For example:
30 ways to build your email list
3 steps to sending beautiful email campaigns with Canvas
10 product announcement emails reviewed for conversion

6. The curiosity gap subject line
Professor George Loewenstein coined this term to describe the gap between what we know and what we want to know. When we notice a gap in our knowledge, it produces a feeling of deprivation that prompts us to go looking for that piece of missing information in order to stop feeling deprived.

For example:
Dave Richardson asks the most basic question ever, and stumps our smartest politicians
This little-known copywriting trick will increase your email click-through rate
9 out of 10 Americans are completely wrong about this fact

7. The surprise subject line
Everybody loves a good play on words or a pleasant surprise. In fact, studies on brain activity show that these unexpected occurrences light up the pleasure centers of the brain.

Some examples include:
Warning: Unattended items in your shopping cart may be eaten by gnomes
What Elvis Presley can teach you about email marketing

8. The personalized subject line
Working your subscriber’s name into the subject line of your email adds a personal touch that is likely to catch your reader’s eye.

For example:
John, are you a zombie without your morning coffee as well?
John, 9 out of 10 Americans are completely wrong about this fact.
John, there’s only 2 days left to get 50% off boots.

And finally, here’s an infographic packed with yet more advice on killer email subject lines from Litmus:


Posted in Behavioural Design, Copywriting, Digital, eCommerce, Email Marketing, Hotfoot, Infographic, Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What can advertising learn from art?

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Sudden Shower Over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake (Ohashi Atake no Yudachi), No. 58 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 9th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/8 in. (36.1 x 23.1 cm).

Utagawa Hiroshige (Ando) (Japanese, 1797-1858). Sudden Shower Over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake (Ohashi Atake no Yudachi), No. 58 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 9th month of 1857.

From The Book of Life, an interesting article for marketers seeking to engage the attention of their target audience (which, of course, is all marketers):

Art often gets us to like things. A work of art is frequently trying to get us to share an enthusiasm or buy into an idea. And this is what adverts are aiming at too. Over a very long time, art has developed techniques and skills around emotive persuasion. Many of the things that can go well or badly in adverts have been revealed over centuries in quite helpful ways in the world of art. Art has found solutions to many of the moves that can go wrong with advertising.

Read the rest here.

Posted in Marketing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A closer look at the UK’s new passport design

Architect Elisabeth Scott

Architect Elisabeth Scott

Every five years the UK unveils a new passport design with enhanced security features in a bid to stay one step ahead of the forgers. The latest design is not without controversy, as many have questioned why so few women are featured. Here’s how HM Passport Office announced the news:

A new passport is launched every five years and the theme for the latest version is ‘Creative United Kingdom’.

The latest design features British cultural icons such as William Shakespeare, Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and Anish Kapoor, as well as landmark structures like the Angel of the North and the Titanic Belfast.

Representing all 4 countries in the UK, the new designs also incorporate the latest in printing technology to ensure the security of the document remains the top priority.

The latest passport is the most secure ever produced in the UK and contains brand new security features to make it more difficult than ever for fraudsters to forge copies, these include:

  • advances in the use of security printing using UV and infrared light, inks and watermarks
  • the use of single sheet of paper for the personal details page through to the page adjoined to the back cover to prevent the passport from being tampered with

The new passport will be rolled out in a phased approach with the first due to be in circulation from December 2015.

London Underground

London Underground

Artist Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North

Artist Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North

Works by artist Anish Kapoor

Works by artist Anish Kapoor

For more images see Dezeen.

Posted in Design | Tagged | Leave a comment

Taking a stand with Refold


We all know that sitting down for long periods is bad for us, yet we keep on doing it because, well, it’s hard to design a logo or develop a website while cycling or running. But it can be done standing up. And that’s why there’s standing desks are all the rage right now – take a look at this handy product comparison by Wirecutter.

Which is where Refold comes in. It’s basically a standing desk made of cardboard you can also fold-up and take with you. It’s only really available in Australia and New Zealand at the moment, and it’s not cheap, but it’s a pretty neat idea.

Posted in Design, Marketing | Tagged , | Comments Off on Taking a stand with Refold

The Gill Sans revival – a classic typeface gets a digital makeover

The Eric Gill Series- Press_v2[1].pdf

Typeface nerds rejoice – from Wired:

BRITISH DESIGNER ERIC Gill created Gill Sans in 1928. Today it is among the most popular typefaces in history, used by everyone from Pixar to the BBC. But the classic typeface is showing its age. Last week, acclaimed type foundry Monotype unveiled a modern interpretation, a typeface it calls Gill Sans Nova. It is joined by Joanna Nova, a modern revival of Joanna, which Gill also created; and Joanna Sans, a wholly original typeface that mixes Joanna and Gill Sans. Monotype calls the three typefaces the Eric Gill Series.

Monotype unveiled the typefaces, which include an impressive 77 fonts in sum, in London in conjunction with an exhibition featuring Gill’s original drawings for Gill Sans and Joanna. Steve Matteson and his international team of designers used those documents as reference materials while developing the three new typeface families over the course of two years.

The Eric Gill Series- Press_v2[1].pdf

The Eric Gill Series- Press_v2[1].pdf

The Eric Gill Series- Press_v2[1].pdf

Posted in Design, Digital, Fonts, Identity, News, Typefaces | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on The Gill Sans revival – a classic typeface gets a digital makeover

Hotfoot Make It Happen for Global Entrepreneurship Week at Lancaster University

unnamed (4)

Global Entrepreneurship Week at Lancaster University packs 37 events over 7 days and is dedicated to developing enterprising skills and connecting students with entrepreneurs.

Charlie Haywood, Founder and Creative Director at Hotfoot said, “Following a number of other recent projects we’ve worked on with the University, we were commissioned to produce a series of marketing materials for this year’s campaign ‘Make it Happen’. Targeted at the students we created a fun, personal style using real students studying at Lancaster to encourage their peers to attend events within three pathways: Entrepreneurship, Enterprise and Innovations or Careers and Employability.”

The campaign included:

  • A5 printed information booklet
  • Posters
  • Signage
  • Window Vinyl Graphics
  • Digital powerpoint presentation
  • Commissioned photography

Simon Harrison, Project Manager at Lancaster University, said: “I’ve worked with Charlie and the team at Hotfoot on a number of occasions and every time they’ve gone above and beyond to give me the best design work possible. This has been particularly true for our recent Make It Happen campaign which has been far more last minute than we’d hoped. Charlie’s professionalism and excellent design skills have ensured we’ve got all our marketing assets in time to make them work. And as usual they look great!”

unnamed (1) unnamed (3) unnamed (5) unnamed (6) unnamed

Posted in Brand, Design, Hotfoot, Identity, Marketing, News, Print | Tagged , | Comments Off on Hotfoot Make It Happen for Global Entrepreneurship Week at Lancaster University

Stop planning. Start testing.

Screenshot 2015-11-09 21.04.07

Some awesome advice from Behavioural Design:

Corporate organizations have a habit of planning, strategizing, forecasting, debating extensively before moving ahead on projects. Entrepreneurs on the other hand care little about market research and more about testing the idea. Corporate executives want to predict the future and control it. Entrepreneurs favor testing. An entrepreneur once said, “Instead of asking all the questions, I’d try and make some sales.”

That’s exactly what Bill Gross did. Bill Gross started Idealab in 1996. Idealab has prototyped and tested hundreds of ideas, and from those, has formed and operated more than 125 companies. was one of ideas that he wanted to roll out in late 90s – early 2000. He was excited about selling cars directly to consumers online in the US. As he envisioned it, customers could search quickly for the exact car they wanted and have it delivered right to their door. He could offer discounted price online, because he wouldn’t have to maintain an expensive car lot filled with inventory, but even a discounted car is still a huge purchase to conduct online. Would people spend so much money online on a car?

He believed the idea could work but it was risky. So he hired Andy Zimmerman and gave him a mission – sell one car online. They put up a website with couple of pages that looked like it would allow you to order a car. But actually the message went to a clerk who looked up the price and sent it back to the user. The next morning Bill discovered we had sold three cars. They had to quickly shut down the site because they were offering a heavy discount.

So rather than debating about the plan and the uncertainty, they simply tested it. Within three years became the largest auto dealer in US.

Posted in Behavioural Design, Development, Digital, eCommerce, Hotfoot, Marketing | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Stop planning. Start testing.

How is paper made? Take a look

Flexography conveyor line at the Visy packaging company. Melbourne, Australia.

Flexography conveyor line at the Visy packaging company. Melbourne, Australia.

Even in the age of digital where we produce websites, email newsletters and even brand identities that hardly ever leave the confines of a screen, we still use paper. Lots and lots of paper. Whether it’s brochures, business cards, posters, leaflets, stationary or reports, many of our clients still need us to design materials that are printed.

So, with that in mind it’s pretty cool to see some backstage shots of how the stuff is made by photographer Daniel Bushaway. From Wired:

So far he’s shot seven stops along the lifecycle of paper. His series takes viewers inside a mill and manufacturing plant run by VISY, which produces paper for everything from boxes to food cartons to paperback book covers. He photographed Gunn & Taylor Printers, a mom-and-pop shop that makes everything from pamphlets to books, and the Wrapping Paper Company. Bushaway expanded the project to include the workshops of cabinetmakers and framing companies.

The photos are quiet, and rich in detail. It’s fascinating to see the time and effort spent creating something so ubiquitous. Bushaway wants to explore other links in the paper production chain. He’s trying to get into some tree farms, timber mills, recycling plants, and landfills. The goal is to make people think more about where paper comes from, and where it goes. Australia sends 1.9 million tons of paper and cardboard to landfills each year; that figure is closer to 26 million tons in the US.

See the gallery here.

The paper reel feed of a ​CMF flexographic web printing press­ at the Wrapping Paper Company. Braeside, Victoria, Australia.

The paper reel feed of a ​CMF flexographic web printing press­ at the Wrapping Paper Company. Braeside, Victoria, Australia.


Posted in Hotfoot, News, Print | Tagged , | Comments Off on How is paper made? Take a look

Watch the hilarious results when business owners in other industries are asked to produce work on spec

Design companies, ad agencies, and the whole creative industries sector has a problem. We keep giving our stuff away free on “spec” to win new business! And that risks driving down the value of what we do for everyone.

As a rule, Hotfoot don’t partake in this practice. Put simply, we know what our time is worth. If we focus our attention on billable hours it means we can produce better work for paying clients. The vast majority of prospective clients understand this approach, and the great feedback we get from our paying clients shows it works.

The video above is a brilliant illustration of how business owners in other sectors react to being asked to produce work on spec. The reactions of the personal trainer, coffee shop owner, architect, picture frame maker and, most brilliantly, restaurant cook, are hilarious. Their most common reaction to why a customer should pay for the work they produce from day one? Trust.

Trust, of course, is not easily won. But when you have a roster of paying clients and glowing testimonials, when you’ve been in business for years, when you’ve got portfolio of quality work you’ve produced… that’s when it’s time to say no to producing spec work. That’s when it’s time to talk about trust.

Posted in Hotfoot, Marketing, News, Video | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Watch the hilarious results when business owners in other industries are asked to produce work on spec

Hotfoot client Radfords Pie Company gets another slice of media coverage

FullSizeRender (3)

Following yesterday’s coverage of the website we designed and developed for Radfords Pie Company, here’s another piece from the Lancaster Guardian today.

Posted in Brand, Client Interview, Design, Development, Digital, eCommerce, Hotfoot, News, Social Media | Tagged | Comments Off on Hotfoot client Radfords Pie Company gets another slice of media coverage

Radfords Pie Company gets coverage for the launch of their Hotfoot designed website


It’s always a good feeling when a client gets coverage in their local newspaper. This piece was published yesterday about the launch of Radford’s Pie Company website, which we recently designed and developed.

Posted in Brand, Client Interview, Design, Development, Digital, eCommerce, Hotfoot, Marketing, News, Website | Tagged | 1 Comment

Special effects or just lots (and lots) of practice?

Either way, it’s a pretty good ad for an energy drink. Look out for the single miss and the broken glass.

Posted in Brand, Marketing, News, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Special effects or just lots (and lots) of practice?