Emma City Guide: Austin, TX

Tour Austin with Emma and meet a few customer favorites

If the warm weather is beckoning you to take to the open road, consider visiting Austin, Texas, home to one of Emma's satellite offices. We're proud to power emails for so many local Austin businesses and organizations, helping them stay in touch with locals and visitors alike.

I've visited Austin a handful of times to see family, and with each trip I've focused almost solely on stuffing myself to the gills with breakfast tacos and barbecue. Today, I'm taking a virtual vacation to Austin, and I'm stepping outside my comfort (food) zone to visit some fun Emma customers.

Rowing Dock
Rowing Dock uses Emma to announce classes, camps and special events.

Rowing Dock

2418 Stratford Dr

After a cup of coffee and okay, probably a breakfast taco or two, I'd head down to Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake) and take advantage of Rowing Dock's kayak, paddle boat and stand-up paddle board rentals. Rowing Dock offers summer camps for kids and rowing classes for adults, but I'd probably opt to rent a kayak and wind my way around the lake, taking in the sites before the summer heat really sets in.

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Dress Shop
Join the Dress Shop's mailing list and you'll receive a special offer on your birthday. Party dress, anyone?

Dress Shop

315 Congress Ave

Leslie Gandy opened this boutique in 2009 and stocks colorful frocks for any occasion. Leslie does a great job of keeping in touch with customers and fans through email and Facebook, so even if you can't visit the storefront it's easy to have a virtual Dress Shop experience: just pick out a dress online and Leslie will ship it to you.

+ See Dress Shop's birthday email
+ Visit their website

2nd Street District
A stylish signup form for 2nd Street District, "where Texas warmth meets Austin cool."

2nd Street District

Austin's 2nd Street District is populated by more than 50 shops and restaurants, just a block off Cesar Chavez. Their website touts special deals and events, giving visitors an overview of all the sweet deals and delicious dishes (and cocktails!) 2nd Street District has to offer. The site also provides ways to stay in touch over Facebook, Twitter, and of course, email, thanks to a smartly placed signup form for visitors to subscribe to email newsletters.

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Plain Ivey Jane
Plain Ivey Jane's custom email stationery reflects the retro feel of their website.

Plain Ivey Jane

408 W. 2nd St

Clearly I'm in the market for some new summer dresses, and I'm smitten with Plain Ivey Jane. This dress shop in the 2nd Street District offers new designer dresses at a discount. At any given time, you'll find deals on Nicole Miller, Betsey Johnson and Marc by Marc Jacobs, and as owner Sarah Reeves puts it, "It's not the type of store that you fall in love with a dress, then have to save up for it. Instead, you can buy that dress and two others."

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Eddie V's Edgewater Grill
A refreshing Blue Bonnet Tea awaits you at Eddie V's.

Eddie V's

301 E. 5th St

After a full day of outdoor fun and shopping, I can't imagine anything more satisfying than a meal at Eddie V's Edgewater Grill. This upscale seafood restaurant is part of the Eddie V's family of restaurants in Texas, Arizona and California, and it's the perfect place to wear a newly acquired dress and enjoy a signature cocktail — like the Blue Bonnet Tea — with my tuna steak dinner. Eddie V's uses Emma to promote special menu offerings and send personalized greetings to customers on special occasions, like wedding anniversaries.

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo uses Emma to share their show schedule and link back to features on their website.

Alamo Drafthouse

320 E. 6th St

After classing it up at Eddie V's, I'd probably feel inclined to close out my evening at the Alamo Drafthouse, the best place to see a movie and drink a beer at the same time. I'd likely buy a ticket for their Dumb & Dumber Quote-Along and settle in with a Lone Star and a bucket of popcorn. I'd revel in the fact that I'm actually expected to shout out, "Samsonite! I was way off! I knew it started with an S, though."

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Find additional Austin locations on their website

Well, there you have it: my perfect summer day in Austin. Stay tuned for more city guides from the places Emma calls home. Happy travels!

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If you like this post, check out more customer stories on our website.

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

Emma {hearts} deserving students and inspiring teachers

Our involvement with Donors Choose this spring

As you may know if you've kept up with our tree planting efforts or Emma 25 program , we like to be involved in our communities and give back where we can. Each month, we also donate to deserving students and classrooms on www.DonorsChoose.org .

This spring, I coordinated with 10 Emma staffers to fulfill the classroom requests of 27 teachers, reaching 1,705 students in 12 states. I'd love to share them all, but let's take quick look at a few of my favorite projects:

In It's A Sign Of The Times , Mrs. H's classroom in Massachusetts needed sign language materials for her eager learners with autism. Finding that her students were quickly learning to communicate with the few sign language videos she already had, she requested additional videos, alphabet cards, books and peg-it boards to help increase their vocabulary. She expects and hopes that by giving them the tools to communicate non-verbally, they'll also enhance their verbal skills.

Check out other projects in Massachusetts.

In Practice Makes Perfect: Help Kindergarteners Learn to Read , Ms. G's young New York City scholars are eager to practice their reading. Short on time to individually assist each student, Ms. G requested reading centers with various games and lessons for the kindergarteners to tackle individually and with each other. Already, the centers have made a huge difference, and her kindergartners are well on their way to achieving their goal of reading like 1st graders by the end of this year.

Check out other kindergarten classes in need of support.

In Volleyball Improves Girls Fitness & Self Esteem , overcrowding has caused Mr. S to teach two physical education classes simultaneously, drastically decreasing activity time for all his middle school girls. Seeing how much these young ladies benefit from participating in team sports and how passionately they enjoy volleyball, Mr. S knew that additional equipment was long overdue and requested an additional volleyball net, knee-pads and balls. The project was fully funded on February 15th, and his girls have been serving up aces since.

Check out other health- and sports-related projects.

I really enjoy coordinating our donations to Donor's Choose because I get to collaborate with my colleagues in a new way, and we get to see the effects of our donations. (Most of the classrooms follow up with a thank-you note or progress report.) Consider joining Emma in donating to Donor's Choose, and let us know what causes are near to your heart.

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Not yet an Emma customer? See how we give back , and let us know if you'd like to get started with an account. 

Stylishly formatted email campaigns

How customers are making the most of Emma's layouts

We're big fans of design, and it's one of the reasons why our design team handcrafts email stationery for our customers. A stylishly branded stationery — one that fits your aesthetic and is unlike any other email stationery out there — is quite a start, but you've still got to fill your email with content. Staring at a blank campaign can be downright daunting, and we hope that our Oh-Blather-I'm-Stuck List of 12 quick content ideas is helpful.

But what if you've got a different challenge? Maybe you've got plenty of content but not enough inspiration about how to lay it out in an email. This kind of problem can be just as daunting, and we're always on the lookout for customers who are finding creative ways to display their content.

Let's take a look at five customers who are using Emma's simple, newsletter and advanced layouts in lovely ways — and what you can learn from them.

Mocha Club | Layout: Newsletter 12

Mocha Club email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Newsletter 12 layout combines alternating text and image boxes and works best if you've got several separate updates or stories. And don't forget to make use of the image caption placeholders.

Why it works:

  • Mocha Club keeps each story section short 'n' sweet, linking to story continuations on their website and blog.
  • Alternating images are the same size across the campaign, and there's a nice balance of graphics and text.

The Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) | Layout: Advanced 14

SoDA email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Advanced 14 layout is similar to a few of the newsletter layouts and includes a sidebar along the right side that you can use for recurring stories, ads or special promotions.

Why it works:

  • Like Mocha Club, SoDA uses small — and equally sized — images, appropriate for an email environment. No over-powering, slow-to-load images here.
  • The sidebar is well-utilized, with a stand-alone blurb about sponsorship.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science | Layout: Simple 5

Denver Museum email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Simple 5 layout — with an image slot on the right and wrapping text box on the left — is perfect for shorter emails and announcements.

Why it works:

  • The height of the image matches the length of the text, creating visual balance.
  • If the campaign winds up in an inbox that doesn't display images by default, its message won't be lost.

Gray Photography | Layout: Simple 8

Gray Photography email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Simple 8 layout includes a series of centered image slots separated by text boxes. It's ideal for sharing larger images with your audience. (We recommend images of 480 x 480 pixels or smaller.)

Why it works:

  • The prominent wedding picture immediately gives context — this email is all about wedding photography workshops.
  • No need to over-stuff your email. Here, Gray Photography makes their point using two image slots and two text boxes. They've left the other placeholders blank, and those unused image and text boxes simply auto-hide.

Pigeon Toe Ceramics | Layout: Advanced 4

Pigeon Toe email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Advanced 4 layout is a good choice if you have a set of products to display (just keep images to around 120 x 120 pixels).

Why it works:

  • Pigeon Toe uploads small, equally sized images so that alignment is consistent across the campaign.
  • The images are more or less in the same color family so they work together, rather than creating visual clutter.

I hope these stylish campaigns give you some ideas for your own. And the next time you create a beauty of a campaign, we'd love to see it. Share its online URL in the comments below, and you may find yourself featured in a future blog post. Happy formatting!

5 questions for Network For Good

Rebecca Higman - NFG
Rebecca with the cherry blossoms in D.C.

Here at Emma, we love our nonprofit clients. I recently caught up with Rebecca Higman from Network For Good, one of our largest agency partners, to learn a bit about how this network of nonprofits uses Emma.

Describe Network For Good. What do you do, and what sets you apart?
Network for Good is a nonprofit organization that enables charitable acts anytime, anywhere through technology. In order to do that, we offer services to nonprofits, companies, and directly to donors/supporters. For the nonprofit audience (the one with which I get to spend the most time), we offer online donation processing (DonateNow), email marketing (EmailNow…powered by Emma!) and event management services, as well as many great social networking resources including Causes on Facebook and Crowdrise.

What sets us apart can be summed up in our classic "broken button story." Our COO, Katya Andresen, was giving a presentation to about 100 nonprofit professionals when a gentleman raised his hand and said, "Yeah, I use Network for Good for my organization's online fundraising." Katya's delight quickly turned to dismay when he continued, "But your button doesn't work." Thinking quickly on her feet and being attentive to his situation, she apologized and said it was odd that clicking on a donate button wouldn't allow a supporter to go through to complete a donation. She was more than happy to put him in touch with our support team.

"No, no – you can make a donation," he explained. "It's just that no one's clicking on the button."

With that "broken button" in mind, Network for Good developed its array of free fundraising, marketing and supporter engagement resources to share with its fellow nonprofits: enewsletters, eBooks, an online library and community, and our training webinars. Because, really, what good is a tool unless you have the know-how to make it effective?

What Emma feature could you and your clients not live without?
I don't know if I can speak for all of our clients here, but I can definitely share which feature I think is the snazziest: Search & Segment. I cannot begin to describe what a time-saver (and awesome-ness creator –- yes, it's a term) it is for sending really targeted messages. Often, we need to send out multiple communications to folks in a short time period. Rather than bombard all in one day, we can easily suppress certain groups and stagger our campaigns.

Tell us about one of your nonprofit clients, and how they inspire you.
One organization that comes to mind is AIM (All India Movement) for Seva. They're doing some incredible work in India to make education accessible to underprivileged children. They caught my eye when they were one of the winners of our Year-end Fundraising Challenge. They raised thousands and thousands of dollars in November and December alone by taking advantage of EmailNow and DonateNow, and I was truly inspired to learn more about their great work and see how their reach has expanded globally.

Network For Good has employees all over the country. Where do you live, and what is your favorite restaurant in the city?
I live in St. Petersburg, Florida (also known as the Sunshine City, according to Wikipedia). I'm going to cheat on this question and give you a few different answers. For lunch, you can't beat Evos –- it's fast food with less guilt (think baked, not fried); for dinner, I'm all about Sushi Rock Grill (I could eat sushi every day … I don't, but I wouldn't complain if I did); and, for a snack, Yogurtology (12 flavors of soft-serve frozen yogurt + 60 toppings choices … just think of the fruit and candy bar decisions!).

Summer is upon us. Any big plans?
Nothing too wild and crazy planned. My husband are I are heading up to Minnesota to visit some of his family and take advantage of a couple of those 10,000 lakes they boast of. Meanwhile, I'm counting down the days to our fall trip –- Paris and Munich! Oktoberfest, here we come.

Design showcase: Emma 25

Four of our most recent winners use their stationery for good

Every year, we award free Emma accounts to deserving nonprofits through our Emma 25 program. We love to watch these wonderful organizations turbo-charge their marketing, expand their reach and do more good in the world using email to spread the word.

Since custom design is included for all honorees, this program is a particular pleasure for the design team because we get to interact one-on-one with many of these awe-inspiring Emma 25ers. In this month's design showcase, we're taking a look at the custom stationery for four of our most recent honorees.

Rape Crisis Center | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Rape Crisis Center
Designer: Leigh Bernstein
Design Level: Concierge Design

The Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties is a facility dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault and to working towards the ultimate prevention of the crime through education and awareness. Leanne Graham, the Center's Director of Grants Management, wanted the stationery to be consistent with the website's sense of warmth and comfort.

Leigh was instantly a fan of the Center's soft colors and textures, but she knew that some features were geared more towards the web — and would need an email-friendlier alternative for the stationery design. She rebuilt the website header to feature the organizations's slogan, "healing. hope. empowerment," in lieu of the website's navigation bar; this way, the header design is streamlined and the logo is the clear focal point.

The website header features a bit of animation that works really well in a browser, but email clients' super-sensitive spam filters can be finicky about animation. Still, Leigh wanted to convey a sense of movement in the email header, so she added some floating dandelion seeds across the design to create a gentle, dynamic swirl. She also liked the ripped paper border that surrounds the website's featured image, so she re-purposed that texture to frame the mailing content area. The result is a beautiful, brand-consistent stationery that takes into account all aspects of the website design without losing sight of the unique needs of the email environment.

To learn more about the Rape Crisis Center or to donate to their cause, please visit them online.

Help-Portrait | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Help-Portrait
Designer: Taylor Schena
Design Level: Concierge Design

Earlier this spring, several Emma staffers were lucky enough to see a TEDx Nashville talk by Jeremy Cowart, a celebrity photographer and the founder of Help-Portrait. The idea behind this organization is simple but powerful: those in need often feel ignored and unimportant, but a day of pampering followed by a photo shoot under the spotlight can help them see, appreciate and document their own beauty and dignity — often for the first time in their lives.

Taylor was thrilled to create the stationery for Help-Portrait, but there were immediate questions as to how certain aspects of the website branding could translate to a fabulous email design. On the web, the little square images in the background are tiled from one edge of the window to another, which requires a particular kind of code that makes the images automatically repeat to fill the screen. However, that kind of code is not accepted by all email clients, so Taylor used the square images as a background texture behind the header, and then used an email-friendly solid gray beyond the header area.

For an extra kick of consistency (and to help drive traffic, of course), Taylor used the same navigation bar in the stationery as what appears on the website. However, she scaled down the size of the links and scaled up the logo — so the emphasis is still clearly on the identity of the brand.

Want to find out more about Help-Portrait? Click here.

Teton Valley Education Foundation | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Teton Valley Education Foundation
Designer: Leigh Bernstein
Design Level: Concierge Design

The Teton Valley Education Foundation is an organization working to improve public education in Teton Valley, Idaho through advocacy, grants, volunteer coordination and educational programming. So far, they have been using their email stationery to advertise their community meetings, Volunteer Recognition Luncheons and Teacher Appreciation Week — event-based marketing that fosters the reputation of the Foundation as an industrious, engaged organization.

Deneen Bowen, the Foundation's Executive Director, requested the stationery right at the time they were about to re-brand their website. Fortunately, they already had a good idea of how the new identity would look. Deneen sent over a brochure that included all the new colors as well as her favorite element, the green swoosh, so that Leigh would have a solid idea of the new aesthetic they were going for. Deneen stressed that she wanted a clean design with happy, bright colors, and Leigh was glad to oblige. Now, the Foundation has a new website and new stationery that consistently and cheerfully reflect its brand story.

Get involved or donate to the foundation on their website here.

Elders Share the Arts | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Elders Share the Arts
Designer: Kelly McClain
Design Level: Concierge Design

For over 30 years now, Elders Share the Arts has been working with seniors in the New York City metropolitan area to encourage their creative potential and affirm their place in the community as storytellers and bearers of history and culture. ESTA organizes a number of community and larger-scale events, and their email stationery has already helped with the promotion of everything from their small-group Story Circles to the Annual Flamekeeper Gala.

Jennie Smith-Peers, the Executive Director of ESTA, submitted the request for stationery along with several great images, and Kelly narrowed it down to the four pictures that she saw as perfect reflections of the organizations' mission. The blue background color came from the ESTA's own branding and website, which has a very clean design and user-friendly structure. Kelly created bits of texture and depth to frame the header and peek out from behind the content area, but she intentionally maintained a simplicity of design so that the spotlight would remain on Jennie's beautiful, powerful photos.

If you'd like to become a part of the ESTA story, visit their website here.

Until next time … love and hugs to all the nonprofits out there who are fighting the good fight!
Your Emma Design Team

If you would like to request your own Concierge Design stationery, head over to our online form. Not yet an Emma customer? Come say hi!

Why you shouldn’t send one big image—and what you can do instead

Building a slice and dice campaign
An example of a sliced image
Here's an example of a large image getting smaller slices applied to it.

You've seen them — image-only campaigns that don't fully load in your inbox or, worse, are too wide to properly render and look broken. You may have even tried to produce them — because, if your graphic designer created a beautiful print flyer, you want your audience to see it. So I understand that it's tempting to save it as a jpg and try plugging it into your email campaign.

But hang on. You're playing with email fire. Servers are more likely to filter emails with large images, meaning the campaign will end up in junk folders rather than your recipients' inboxes. Moreover, large images take a long time to load, and your recipients may move on to the next email in their inbox without viewing yours. And for email programs like Gmail and Outlook that block images by default, your campaign has no text to anchor it, and it'll look like an empty or broken email. Not good.

If that's not enough to deter you, there's another limitation to image-only campaigns worth mentioning. One image can only link to one URL, limiting your ability to include links to multiple articles or landing pages — and your ability to track your audience members' response activity.

So, do you have to scrap your large image entirely? The good news is that you can repurpose one large image into smaller, sliced images. We call it a slice and dice campaign, and it's something that our design team has been offering to our customers since we expanded our set of design options.

And now we've created a downloadable guide so you can build a slice and dice on your own. Armed with this guide and a bit of HTML know-how, you're able to slice your large image into more digestible pieces, link those pieces to any number of URLs you desire and safely send to your audience. You'll enjoy better delivery rates, and your campaign will properly render in all of the major email programs. Now that's good for you and good for your audience.

Emma's Guide to Building a Slice and Dice Campaign
Download Emma's Guide to Building a Slice and Dice Campaign here. (There's a lot of juicy content in there, so give it time to download.)

If you'd rather request a slice and dice campaign from our design team, fill out our online design form, and a design consultant will reach out with a quote and turnaround time.

Why many agencies struggle with social media

Guest blogger and social media expert Jason Falls weighs in with recommendations for creative firms
Jason Falls
Jason at Blogworld. Photo taken by Becky McCray.

The day an advertising agency's creatives (art directors and copywriters) truly "get" social media and how to communicate ideas through social channels is the day said agency becomes a relevant player in the new marketing landscape. Trouble is, at least in my experiences, advertising creatives are often solitary, anti-social types, content to focus on their art and craft even at the expense of changing with it.

Certainly I don't infer that all creatives are this way. Many have made the transition from "working on my book" to creating compelling communications. Many more have gravitated from nice print and outdoor pieces to providing creative direction for simpler methods of transmitting messages, like sales letters, pay-per-click ad copy or even blog posts.

But the transition of the advertising creative to be able to include compelling social activations in their traditional communications concepts has not been an easy one for many. When you think about it, the media creatives typically deal with are known and, thus, uncomplicated. We understand that a billboard is stationary, can't be too dynamic or distracting to the audience (lest it causes accidents) and must communicate a compelling, memorable message in art and copy that takes less than 10 seconds to comprehend.

So what's different now?

Conversely, a piece of content you would provide your audience on Facebook can be more complex in language and include dynamic or multi-media elements, but it's also rather unpredictable in that the audience can respond to it. In fact, good creative execution on Facebook compels the audience to do so.

Now the creative concept must truly live outside a prescribed box of parameters. If the content is good enough, the audience will demand more and fast. Reactions or comments on the content may open new avenues to explore in conversation with your audience.

Facebook content potentially has a never-ending life of its own. A billboard gets taken down after a while because everyone who will see it, has.

The reason creative executions of social media campaigns work, like the Old Spice response commercials, is because the creative team took its thinking outside the confines of a set of parameters. The elements of size and duration are erased, even flipped, to have the creative expectation ever-present and always changing.

In years past, an advertising campaign would evolve and have a life of its own, but there would be typically weeks, even months in between the first set of commercials or placements and the next iteration that continued to tell the story.

In social media, the time to press for phase two is often minutes.

Since first trying to communicate the importance and dynamics of the social web to the wonderful creative teams I worked with at Doe-Anderson to the custom training and education sessions I do with advertising agencies and PR firms today, I've been searching for that switch to flip and illustrate what can make a traditional creative understand how to approach social media marketing successfully. I haven't found it yet, and it will likely take collaborating with a creative to really nail something relevant.

But I'm understanding more and more that the roadblock has less to do with the personality of the art director or copywriter in question and more with the space and time differences in digital and social versus traditional executions.

How your agency can become more effective with social media

Without solid answers, we only have experimentation and iteration to drive us. To be successful in the social execution space, agencies must become innovators. Some recommendations for your agency:

  • Incorporate a digital staff member on your traditional creative teams
  • Create a reason for the creative teams to use platforms like Twitter and Facebook, like managing an internal project in a private Facebook group
  • Challenge creatives to develop a digital-centric campaign where all communication channels not only drive customers to the web, but also convert those customers in some way
  • Recruit and train creatives to be think-on-your-feet communicators (media training, improv classes, etc.)

So how about your ideas? How can we facilitate understanding and advancement within the traditional agency environment to help our creatives produce compelling communications that are persuasive, but also social? What are your agency creatives doing that compels you in this space? As a creative, what differences in approach do you find helpful in producing communications that work online?

Your thoughts will help shape our understanding of the conversation and contribute to a better environment for us all.

Jason Falls is a leading social media speaker, trainer, consultant and thinker. His industry blog, SocialMediaExplorer.com, is consistently rated in the top 20 of the prestigious AdvertisingAge Power 150 marketing blogs. He also guides an online learning community focused on helping small and medium businesses embrace and understand social media and digital marketing at ExploringSocialMedia.com.