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How BarkBox Took an Obscure Holiday and Turned It into a Killer Social Media Campaign



January 21st is National Squirrel Appreciation Day, and there are really only 2 types of people who know this:

  1. Squirrel enthusiasts
  2. BarkBox followers

Squirrel enthusiasts love squirrels. BarkBox, on the other hand has taken this obscure holiday and turned it into a social media campaign that’s impossible not to talk about.

In digital marketing, it’s easy for things to get banal. We get used to seeing the same headline templates, the inevitable “10% off of your initial order” email, and the “follow us to win our product giveaway.”

It’s the same stuff with a different brand on it. 

But BarkBox has a habit of keeping things fresh. Their strategy goes against the grain, saying no to the same-old same-old and yes to the “this might work, or it might totally flop and be one of the most talked about digital marketing campaign failures of 2020.”

And we, for one, commend their bravery. 

The company sells monthly subscription boxes for dog toys and treats, and they saw an opportunity and ran with it. 

National Squirrel Day.

Because of BarkBox, over 2 million people just learned that today is a day for appreciating squirrels. And because of the hilarity of the campaign, more and more people know about BarkBox. After all, that’s the most important goal for social media.

While we wish they had livestreamed the meeting where this campaign was greenlighted, we’ll take an outside look at what they’re doing and how we are guessing it’s affecting them.

BarkBox Is on A Social Media Rampage

Well, actually we should say the squirrels are. BarkBox’s social media campaign is stemmed from the uprising of squirrels who have taken over their social media accounts.

Here’s what their Instagram account looks like right now:

And this is their current Twitter profile:

BarkBox's Twitter account taken over by squirrels

The premise of their social campaign is that squirrels are seeking revenge and are looking to get their nuts back, and they’re holding BarkBox hostage until they do so. 

BarkBox's tweet asking for nuts

To help BarkBox, their followers are posting nut emojis 🥜 in the comments of the squirrels’ posts (there’s a sentence we never thought we’d say).

Instagram comments from BarkBox followers with the peanut emoji

Why Is BarkBox Running This Campaign?

Simple: to get people talking and increase social engagement. Do you think we would have published this article if BarkBox was running a “Get 10% off your first BarkBox by signing up with your email here,” campaign?

No. The answer to that is no.

We’re not even batting an eye, let alone putting effort into writing an article to summarize that campaign.

But a squirrel take-over campaign?

We just put a rush delivery on this post. 

Not only is the digital marketing world watching BarkBox, but so are their customers. A measurement of their campaign’s success is the comments pouring into their social media profiles—regardless of if they have nuts attached.

Followers are asking BarkBox “ WTF is going on over here today?? 😂.”

And an immeasurable, but certainly viable, measurement is the number of people who have sent or said the above message to a friend who also subscribes to BarkBox. 

Just ask us how we know.

Slack messages between the DM team about the BarkBox campaign

The starting point of all digital marketing is getting people to talk about your product. We can assume these campaigns work well for increasing BarkBox awareness because this isn’t the first time that BarkBox has run a campaign like this.

They ran the same squirrel campaign last year for this holiday, but the most viral campaign was much more recent.

Two months ago, they created a “Big Honkin’ Pig in a Blanket” dog toy that went viral for its… aesthetic. Notice the Facebook comment in the left-hand corner of this photo and make sure to notice BarkBox’s response.

BarkBox's Big Honkin' Pigs in a Blanket Toy

Clearly BarkBox knows how to create content that drives awareness: the first stage in the Customer Value Journey.

If you need more help with your digital marketing efforts, you can become a DM Insider for FREE to get instant access to our Customer Avatar Worksheet, so you know how your customers would react to an out-of-the-ordinary campaign, like BarkBox’s.

How Is BarkBox Going to Capitalize Off of This Campaign?

There are 3 main ways that BarkBox is (probably) going to capitalize off of this campaign:

  1. Increasing brand awareness
  2. Driving website traffic that can be retargeted
  3. Conversions

Increasing Brand Awareness

This type of campaign gets people talking and acting, which all drive more awareness to the BarkBox product. For example, here’s user-generated content from a follower of BarkBox, reposted by BarkBox:

An Instagram story from a BarkBox follower of a golden retriever on a walk with text "I'm on the hunt for squirrels. They're trying to take over the world!"

By posting this story, all of their followers now know about BarkBox. The math is simple here: the more people that know about your business (generally speaking) the more money your business can make. 

User-generated content like this turns your customers into your salespeople. Instead of you paying Instagram to show a story to a target audience of dog enthusiasts, this user just did it for them for free.

BarkBox is building brand awareness by creating an out-of-the-norm campaign that is going to get people talking and posting.

That’s Step One of the Customer Value Journey done right 👏.

Driving Website Traffic That Can Be Retargeted

You know when you visit a website and all of a sudden you see the ads for their product everywhere? That’s retargeting, and BarkBox has their tracking pixel ready and waiting for this campaign.

There’s a high chance that the people who just became aware of BarkBox are visiting their website to see what is going on with this squirrel takeover. Using a tracking pixel, BarkBox can then advertise to these people on social platforms like Google or Facebook.

And since they’re extra savvy, they created specific ad campaigns for this group of website visitors that are themed around this squirrel takeover. This way they (again) break the mold of a regular digital marketing campaign and continue the conversation about this campaign.

In fact, some of the DM team has already been retargeted. Did we call it? Or did we call it?

An Instagram DM between 2 DM team members with a BarkBox ad saying "Who will you capture" featuring a squirrel toy


Remember, the more people that know about your business the better your business will do. BarkBox just increased the number of people who are aware of their business, which means that there’s a pretty big chance that they’re going to see conversions from this campaign.

Whether those conversions are happening right now on their website or are going to happen through retargeting, it’s inevitable that BarkBox lands some customers from this campaign.

And at the end of the day, that’s the entire point of digital marketing. While marketers are certainly focused on building brand awareness, their goal is to move people through the 8 steps of the Customer Value Journey so they become customers and raving fans of the business.

The Customer Value Journey Worksheet

Without question, we know that this article taught you something new—that January 21st is National Squirrel Day. But we also hope you learned a bit about the behind-the-scenes marketing strategies being used by BarkBox.

If you need more help with your digital marketing efforts, you can become a DM Insider for FREE to get instant access to our Customer Avatar Worksheet, so you know how your customers would react to an out-of-the-ordinary campaign, like BarkBox’s.

The post How BarkBox Took an Obscure Holiday and Turned It into a Killer Social Media Campaign appeared first on DigitalMarketer.

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Marketing Strategies

Is Email Marketing Dead? No, But These Practices Are



99% of people check their email every day.

With a statistic like that, it’s not hard to see why email marketing is a go-to for marketing campaigns. What’s confusing, though, is that sometimes, email marketing ROI can look a little bleak.

An un-successful email campaign in a world where opening emails is such a big part of people’s lives can be confusing, and brings up an important question:

Where is the gap between consumers checking their email constantly, but not clicking on your brand’s message?

Before you pull the plug on email marketing completely, consider this — 73% of millennials prefer email communication when receiving marketing material.

Ultimately, the problem may not be the marketing channel, but the message delivery.

So, is email marketing dead? Or, is there something that can be done to enhance the email marketing experience — for consumers and marketers?

In the next section, we’re going to answer that question and why a marketing strategy makeover might be necessary for a struggling brand.

There’s no need to hold a funeral: email isn’t dead, just outdated.

If your brand’s email marketing strategy is currently struggling with bringing in high ROI, it could be because your strategy hasn’t been improved to reflect how email currently works.

Ultimately, if you’re not catering to your audiences, or if you’re not using metrics to appropriately measure and improve your email campaigns, you’re likely missing out on ROI — not because email marketing is dead, but because your strategy is outdated.

To improve your email marketing ROI in 2020, here’s what to retire:

Email Marketing “Dead” Practices

1. Impersonal subject lines

Email marketing starts before readers even open the email. Subject lines can make or break open-rate, a metric that tracks how many subscribers open your emails.

A major component of a successful campaign is targeting the customer by creating content that identifies with their lifestyle. In email marketing, this begins with the subject line.

As a consumer, if I see an emoji in a marketing email’s subject line, I immediately open it as opposed to others, because to me, this shows that the sender took a little extra time to personalize the message.

For instance, here’s a look at the promotion emails I’ve opened and engaged with:

Personalizing marketing messages makes readers feel connected to what’s being sold. Generally, making a subject line personal can be as easy as noting the holiday season or asking a question to get readers thinking.

Think about what in your email is the “must-know” takeaway, and create a short subject line that taps into emotions to get subscribers clicking.

2. Ignoring GDPR standards

In a nutshell, GDPR means making sure the reader gives clear, unambiguous permission to receive marketing emails. Full compliance with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) ensures that sending marketing emails is legal.

GDPR was created so consumers know their data is protected and being used by brands they have trusted with personal information. They opt-in to emails they’d like to receive from brands they’re interested in.

This is good news for marketers because it means your email campaigns will only be sent to users who are genuinely interested in your marketing messages. It also ensures your email marketing messages are compliant with the law.

Email marketing software should be GDPR compliant. If not, it’s time to choose new software. HubSpot has a great guide about navigating GDPR, incorporating these rules into strategy, and why the email marketing tools from HubSpot already follow the standards.

3. Using templates that aren’t mobile-friendly

The world is mobile now. When I check my emails in the morning, I’m checking from my phone, where I prefer to check my email.

Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly are probably raising your bounce rate exponentially due to poor user experience. Because it’s so easy to click away from something that’s unappealing, emails optimized for mobile should be an important step in the design process.

Apple’s iPhone is the most popular method for opening emails, with Gmail in second place. For some audiences, marketing emails that are stellar for mobile should take priority over emails for desktop, so the majority of readers don’t get turned away from desktop-friendly templates.

For businesses using email automation software, check the mobile previews as well as the desktop previews when drafting your email design. If the template being used interrupts comprehension or is just plain ugly on mobile, it might be a good idea to switch to something else.

4. Poor email design

We’ve talked a little about design, but it’s really imperative to take time designing emails that delight readers.

Emails lately have gotten snazzy. From animations to GIFs, and even embedded full-length videos, businesses are dipping their toes into exciting email marketing efforts to pull readers in.

Emails that have quick loading time, bold CTAs, and colorful visuals typically perform best. Consider this email I received recently from Adobe:

Adobe personalized email example

There are ways to include helpful information in emails without sacrificing the user’s experience, and it’s all about using visuals

Think about it — an email newsletter with an emoji in the title, a beautiful infographic, and a couple of lines of exciting copy before an engaging CTA is exciting to look at and read.

An email newsletter with long paragraphs, the same-old template and a CTA that hasn’t changed in years are … less than exciting, and probably leave readers clicking out of that email in favor of something that is.

Here are some examples of how email campaigns are stepping up design. In a nutshell, think about how every email can visually tell a story as much as words.

5. Not strategically using metrics

Tracking metrics helps fill in the gaps when looking at where to improve with marketing efforts. They break down the behavior of email subscribers. 

There’s been a lot of talk about metrics, and that’s because metrics drive results. They are the numbers behind the campaign. Metrics tell marketers a plethora of important details.

Metrics collect data on how many people are interacting with emails, when they are, who they are, and for how long. All of this information is important to know when planning because they lead to important marketing decisions.

For instance, let’s say a marketer who checks email marketing metrics regularly notices that the bounce rate is high, meaning that readers are opening emails but not engaging with them. This can stem from a variety of issues, but knowing the bounce rate tells the marketer what to focus on improving for the next marketing email.

Metrics save time by reporting on what’s working and what isn’t. To begin tracking metrics, consider what email software you use. Many have reporting and tracking built into their tools, as well as information about how that data is collected and interpreted.

Ultimately, the reasons you may not be seeing results is not because email marketing is dead — it’s because of how you’re email marketing. So, before you turn away from email marketing as a whole, think about ways you can beef up your strategy to compete.


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Marketing Strategies

Top 15 Prank Call Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020



Top 15 Prank Call Podcasts
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Prank Call Podcasts

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1. Brooke & Jubal

Seattle, Washington, United States About Podcast Here’s what you can expect on the show… Jubal’s Phone Taps -Jubal brings you hilarious prank calls with unsuspecting targets. Listeners can submit requests to prank their friends and family. Second Date – Brooke & Jubal take calls from listeners who went on a date, and are getting blown off for the second date. Brooke & Jubal call their prospective listeners to find out why they are not getting the callback. If you need to have an awkward conversation. Brooke and Jubal will give you their advice, just as long as you agree to have an awkward conversation on the air! Frequency 6 episodes / week Since Nov 2019 Podcast
Facebook fans 125.1K ⋅ Twitter followers 9.3K ⋅ Instagram Followers 49K ⋅ Domain Authority 25 ⋅ Alexa Rank 278.9K

2. Run That Prank

Run That PrankAbout Podcast Run That Prank podcast showcases some of Thomas Miles’s classic prank calls. Frequency 5 episodes / week Since May 2017 Podcast
Facebook fans 1.2M ⋅ Twitter followers 83.2K ⋅ Instagram Followers 311.2K ⋅ Domain Authority 87 ⋅ Alexa Rank 2.3K

3. The Snow Plow Show Prank Call Podcast

The Snow Plow Show Prank Call PodcastRoy, New Mexico, United States About Podcast The Snow Plow Show is a comedy podcast that usually happens at least a couple of times a week. Each episode focuses on phone pranks, hax0ring, and phone-related news. The show is hosted by Brad, who is occasionally joined by guest hosts. Frequency 2 episodes / week Since Oct 2012 Podcast
Facebook fans 1.2K ⋅ Twitter followers 366 ⋅ Domain Authority 20 ⋅ Alexa Rank 8.8M

4. World of Prank Calls

World of Prank CallsRoy, New Mexico, United States About Podcast This weekly show features the absolute best prank phone calls you can find from today’s hottest prank call artists. Each show contains around 30 minutes of material guaranteed you make you feel guilty about laughing. Frequency 1 episode / month Since Dec 2017 Podcast
Facebook fans 1K ⋅ Twitter followers 221 ⋅ Social Engagement 1 ⋅ Domain Authority 19

5. The Macron Show

The Macron ShowLondon, England, United Kingdom About Podcast The best prank calls and comedy podcast in the multiverse! Join Macron The irreverent British Rascal as he takes you on a prank call Journey around the world. Listen as he calls unsuspecting people and plays phone pranks on them. Frequency 1 episode / week Since Jul 2015 Podcast
Facebook fans 1.2K ⋅ Twitter followers 440 ⋅ Domain Authority 18 ⋅ Alexa Rank 7.6M

6. Another Prank Call Show

Another Prank Call ShowTennessee, United States About Podcast Another Prank Call Show follows the adventures of King Richard as he makes the world a better place one prank phone call at a time. Frequency 2 episodes / month Since Jul 2018 Podcast
Twitter followers 112 ⋅ Domain Authority 10 ⋅ Alexa Rank 4.1K

7. Dwight the Janitor Prank Call Podcast

Dwight the Janitor Prank Call PodcastUnited States About Podcast Dwight the Janitor Prank Call Podcast hosted by Dwight McClanahan. Tune in on Saturday Night’s at 10 PM EST / 7 PM PST. You will find some of the most epic pranks calls around the web here. Frequency 23 episodes / month Since Aug 2014 Podcast
Facebook fans 2.1K ⋅ Twitter followers 469 ⋅ Domain Authority 23 ⋅ Alexa Rank 10.9M

8. Prank Calls – Jared and Katie in the Morning

Prank Calls - Jared and Katie in the MorningGreensboro, North Carolina, United States About Podcast Do you enjoy a good prank? So do we! Listen as the Jared and Katie morning show from 107.5KZL pranks caller after caller. You will bust a gut laughing as they fool everyone they call. Frequency 1 episode / month Since Jan 2016 Podcast
Domain Authority 6 ⋅ Alexa Rank 6M

9. Calls from the Grave

Calls from the GraveAbout Podcast A sketch comedy group that accidentally turned into a live Prank Call Show! Going strong since November on Facebook LIVE, we are finally here for your listening pleasure. Frequency 1 episode / week Since Jan 2019 Podcast
Facebook fans 1.1K ⋅ Twitter followers 120 ⋅ Instagram Followers 430 ⋅ Domain Authority 86 ⋅

10. Darren ‘Whackhead’ Simpson’s prank calls on Kfm Mornings

Darren 'Whackhead' Simpson's prank calls on Kfm MorningsCape Town, Western Cape, South Africa About Podcast Catch Whackhead’s Prank on Kfm Mornings. Listen to a silly, yet hilarious prank call from Darren. Frequency 3 episodes / week Since Jul 2019 Podcast
Facebook fans 198.6K ⋅ Twitter followers 351.2K ⋅ Domain Authority 54 ⋅ Alexa Rank 227.8K

11. Wasted Memory Prank Call Show

Wasted Memory Prank Call ShowAbout Podcast Dragonmere does live calls every Fri 7 PM EST. Tune in for fun comedy phone prank calls. Frequency 1 episode / day Since Apr 2019 Podcast
Facebook fans 83 ⋅ Twitter followers 70 ⋅ Social Engagement 2 ⋅ Domain Authority 13 ⋅

12. Phone Jacks

Phone JacksColumbia, Missouri, United States About Podcast Each Friday, we play the part of some wild character, and prank call your friends, with some ridiculous situations, and hysterical results. Frequency 3 episodes / month Since Mar 2019 Podcast
Facebook fans 23.8K ⋅ Twitter followers 5.1K ⋅ Instagram Followers 6.1K ⋅ Domain Authority 37 ⋅ Alexa Rank 4.2M

The post Top 15 Prank Call Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020 appeared first on Feedspot Blog.

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Marketing Strategies

The FTC's influencer endorsement guidelines may soon become binding



The Federal Trade Commission may be increasing the severity and scope of its responses to misinformation and paid influencer ads that present themselves as organic content.

In a statement released last week, the FTC’s Commissioner Rohit Chopra stated that the blurred lines between clearly paid endorsements and seemingly authentic reviews are damaging the online marketplace by spreading misinformation. 

Previously, the FTC has pursued action against companies such as Lord & Taylor, which paid influencers to wear select dresses without disclosing the financial relationship between them and the company, and Sunday Riley, whose founder instructed employees to write seemingly unbiased and positive reviews on

The FTC settled these cases without any punitive fees or requiring the companies to release any ill-gotten data.

The soft response to unethical marketing strategies doesn’t seem to be deterring businesses from these practices, so the FTC is considering civil penalties and stricter regulations for how companies use digital marketing and online endorsements.

What is the FTC focusing on?

In the statement, Commissioner Chopra specifically focused on influencer ads and endorsements on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

For years, companies have been able to create (or pay for the creation of) seemingly organic content: reviews, videos positively featuring brands, and images highlighting products that influencers share with their followers.

Unlike product placements in movies or traditional television ads, these endorsements blur the line between reality and paid promotions.

It’s not clear whether an influencer happens to use a product in their day-to-day life, they’re recommending the product because they honestly believe in its quality, or they’re recommending the product because they were paid to do so. 

That uncertainty hinders consumers’ ability to make well-researched, educated decisions about the purchases they make or even what they believe about different brands.

The blurred lines have grown more convoluted since 2019, when Facebook began allowing advertisers to promote influencer posts that aren’t clearly advertisements. The harms of this practice include:

  • Misinformation, both for close followers of influencers and new audiences who may not suspect a financial relationship between the poster and a company.
  • An increase in potentially unethical data collection practices that companies can use to create more targeted advertisements.
  • Erosion of consumer trust in companies as social media users begin to mistrust mentions of products and companies in both seemingly and authentically organic contexts.

Who should pay the price for unethical endorsements and marketing?

On the face of the issue, it’s not clear who is at fault for murky endorsement practices.

Companies and advertisers are the entities structuring the financial relationship so the endorsement seems organic. But influencers are the ones posting images and videos without fully disclosing their motivations.

Even the social media platforms share responsibility, both for having unclear guidelines and for having paid promotion options that let advertisers push “organic” content to new audiences. 

Right now, Commissioner Chopra considers the advertisers to be the bigger problem. “When individual influencers are able to post about their interests to earn extra money on the side,” he said in his official statement, “this is not a cause for major concern.”

Instead, it’s the companies that directly profit from misinformation and data collection that are the focus of this potential crackdown.

The FTC’s history of settling cases without penalties and proposing no-money, no-fault orders isn’t having an obvious deterring effect. When companies can keep their profits and newly collected data from unethical practices, it could even encourage brands to be bolder.

The recent statement doesn’t propose any definite penalties. However, it does propose a review of the FTC’s endorsement guides and a potential revision that changes the non-binding guidelines to required and regulated measures. This includes developing these rules:

  • Regulations that keep social media platforms in check because they indirectly profit from influencer endorsements.
  • Clear requirements for future contracts between companies and influencers about disclosing any financial relationship.
  • Holding violators liable “for civil penalties under Section 5(m)(1)(A) and liable for damages under Section 19.”

What should businesses be doing in response to the FTC’s statement?

Currently, there’s no direct action being taken to revise the FTC’s endorsement guidelines. However, this is a good opportunity for businesses to evaluate their current marketing practices, especially if they utilize social media platforms and influencer endorsements.

Whether the FTC puts civil penalties in place or not, businesses benefit from being honest and disclosing relationships between their brands and influencers.

Reputation is a valuable commodity, and brands stand to lose consumer confidence if seemingly organic content is revealed to be a paid endorsement. 

What are specific measures companies can undertake to create more authentic advertisements and communicate clearly with audiences? Encourage the influencer to disclose the relationship.

Online audiences value humor, honesty, and clarity. They will appreciate knowing that an influencer is being paid to promote an item far more than discovering the relationship during a potential future scandal.

Hashtags, on-screen graphics, and clearly visible relationships between influencers and companies can all communicate the nature of an ad while preserving the user experience.

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