Unopened emails “nudge” subscribers to action

It may come as a surprise that unopened emails can still be effective

An email can affect a recipient's actions, even if the email goes unopened.

At first glance, that seems unlikely. Isn't an unopened email akin to putting music on but not putting the headphones in your ears? Pretty much no benefit, right?

According to Dela Quist, the perception that only the opened emails affect purchasing behavior may be selling your subject lines and greater marketing efforts a bit short.

The simple effect of seeing your brand in the inbox reminds your subscribers of your existence, as well as your new product line, sale, or whatever else you mention in your subject line. That can influence people to visit your store, recommend you to a friend or even make a purchase, without ever opening your email. (Read the full article here.)

You can loosely measure this by comparing the direct success of the campaign to its indirect success. If you know the exact number of people who clicked through to make a purchase from the email, and yet you had a jump in purchases above that number, the nudge effect may have something to do with it.

Here are some recent examples from my inbox. Each of these campaigns went unopened, and yet the underlying message reached me.

Subject Lines that work for the Nudge Effect

1. Sender: Redbox
Subject line: New to Rent This Tuesday
Why it works: Even though I have a busy week coming up and I know that I won't be renting a movie, it reminds me that a fast and affordable movie night is within walking distance. I can picture where my local redbox is located, and I think back to the last movie I rented. (It was Iron Man 2. I admittedly don't rent a lot of movies.)

2. Sender: Vera Bradley
Subject line: Shop Summer Sale and ship for free (ends today!)
Why it works: I recently moved and have put a strict no-buying policy in place until I find a spot in my apartment for everything I already own. However, it has me dreaming of a new summery bag, and I make a mental note to check their site once the dust settles.

3. Sender: Amerigo (a local Italian restaurant)
Subject line: Join us on Memorial Day for a special offer!
Why it works: I see this one after Memorial Day, so I don't bother opening it. But, just hearing the name Amerigo has me thinking of their tiramisu, which is bound to get me in there soon.

4. Sender: The Limited
Subject line: Save $15 Off Every $50! 4 Days Only!
Why it works: Due to my aforementioned no-shopping policy, I don't open this one either. Before I remove temptation from my inbox, I can't help but notice the math on that deal. 30% off is a nice deal, and I appreciate that they reward their email subscribers with a discount. Positive brand experience!

5. Sender:
Subject line: Kindle with Special Offers from $114
Why it works: I'm already thinking of buying an e-reader, but I haven't committed to one yet. Though I'm not quite ready to buy, I process the decreasing price of Amazon's version. Due to the simple exposure of it, they're my most top-of-mind vendor right now.

Pretty impressive how much I'm affected by these subject lines alone, right? Still, remember that the subject line's purpose is to get your subscribers to open, not to do the email's whole job. But, if you're sending close to the deadline, on an unusual day, or just want to reach those non-opens for a change, try designing a subject line that stands on its own to remind your recipients why they buy from you.


Want to read more strategy tips for reaching your audience? Consider segmenting based upon the customer lifestyle or split testing your emails.

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

Sending email campaigns just got easier

Check out the simplified send process in Emma Preview

We've reduced the amount of time — and cursor-clicking! — it takes to send an Emma email. So, sound the bullhorn. Ring the bells. Blow the vuvuzela. Or, just take a closer look at our new one-page sending process:

  • Manage all delivery settings — like from name and address, delivery style, scheduled sending time and more — on one page. (Goodbye, three-screen process.)
  • Change delivery settings at any time without hitting the back button. (Adios, extra clicking.)
  • Confirm delivery settings at-a-glance in the Mailing summary sidebar. (Hello, all settings on the final send screen.)
One-page sending process | Emma Email Marketing
Up with ease. Down with clicking.

We're offering this new sending process in our beta environment, Emma Preview, so that you can give it a try before it's released in your real Emma account. Go ahead: log in and tell us what you think. And check out our Help Guide for step-by-step instructions if you get stuck.

And with the feedback you've given us along the way, we're unveiling some more campaign enhancements in the weeks ahead, including an über-fancy image editor. We promise it's vuvuzela-worthy.


Not an Emma customer? Open an account in June & get a sweet deal. Find out more here.

Ellie’s Run for Africa ‘11

Emma runs with Ellie to help put students in school

Made of shipping containers, New Dawn High School spells hope to 160 students.

At Emma, we eat and breathe email, but it's also important to us to give back and donate to causes we're passionate about. We support several ongoing causes — like DonorsChoose and Kiva — and we're always on the lookout for new ones. For the last few years, we've also supported Ellie's Run for Africa, a 5K fundraiser here in Nashville.

My colleagues know very well my soft spot for the run. Its primary focus is to raise money for education in some of the most impoverished areas of Nairobi, Kenya. Ellie started the 5K with her family in 2004 out of a passion for helping kids on the other side of the world. Oh, and she was only eleven years old at the time.

My involvement with the 5K fundraiser began four years ago, and since then, I've had the opportunity to serve as co-chair of the annual event as well as travel with Ellie and the ERFA team to visit the schools we support, including New Dawn High School in the village of Haruma. Having seen firsthand how our Nashville community serves students and communities in Kenya, I am continually inspired to continue my work with Ellie's Run each year, and I'm so proud that Emma has been involved for the last three years.

Ellie recently stopped by Emma's Nashville office with some African stew (her mom's recipe!) and shared her story. We heard about individual students and the power of education in developing communities. For a teenager in the slums of Haruma or Kibera, the chance for an education is a chance out of poverty. Education is not free in Kenya, and the opportunity is only available to those with funds — that's where Ellie's Run for Africa helps. Through ERFA, Nashvillians have the chance to walk or jog in honor of the students and schools we're financially supporting in Africa.

Pamela (left) came in first in her age division! We decided to celebrate with a stop in the photo booth.

In addition to sponsoring the event as a company, a group of us Emma staffers joined Ellie on May 21st to run and volunteer for the 7th annual event. It was a huge success, with over 400 runners and $49,000 raised! Students like Francis Ikoha, Lucy Kamwende Kamau and Enock Wanami Simiyu will continue to be supported through education, a hot meal and a supportive environment. What a perfect way to kick off summer.

Want to see other ways that Emma gives back? Click here.

5 questions with Suzanne Ryan

Suzanne takes off her many AimCoR group "hats" to try out new styles with her daughter, Heather, at Disney World.

Suzanne is the Marketing Director at AimcoR Group, a national marketing organization for insurance and financial brokerage agencies. They help brokerage general agencies (BGAs) and their agents find the best solutions (like long-term care, life or disability insurance, and annuities) for their customers, and teach them how to market those solutions. She was kind enough to let me steal some time from her so that I could learn a little bit more about how her organization works and how Emma plays a part in it all.

Can you start off by telling me about your role at AimCoR group? From my experience working with you, it seems like you wear several hats there.
I'm kind of like the "girl Friday" from one of my favorite movies with Rosalind Russell and Carey Grant, His Girl Friday. My primary focus is marketing. We're a very small company, with 40 BGAs around the country, but there are only four of us in our corporate office — we all do a lot of different things. My title is Marketing Director, but then I also do a lot with member services, getting them up and running. I help plan a lot of the events, too. We have three events throughout the country each year.

What is one of the most interesting things you see evolving in the insurance and financial industry? Are there any trends you're seeing this year?
I think the number one thing we're seeing has to do with recent legislation passed in December, which began on January 1, 2011 and ends on December 31, 2012, and deals with changes in estate taxes. There's a lot of changes in opportunities within that two-year window for estate planning. We are helping to provide advanced marketing solutions to the agents and the financial planners for when they go out to their customers and try to get them to take advantage of this short window of time.

The second biggest thing we're seeing is the tremendous amount of change within the life insurance industry. There has been so much competition among providers with what they offer due to the medical and technical advances. People are living longer. The recent census shows that women are living into their mid-eighties and men into their lower-eighties, so that really affects the type of risk class a person can fall into. And with all of the advances in health care, it's making it easier for people to qualify for a better risk class. You can't just buy a life insurance policy from twenty years ago and be set. People should be constantly evaluating either on a yearly or bi-yearly basis their financial needs, especially their insurance needs. I think that's the key point in what I'm trying to say: Life evolves, and insurance has to keep up.

How do you use Emma to communicate those needs and trends in the industry?
We've got close to 40 or 50 members with accounts set up in Emma. What we do on a monthly basis for each member is set up a four-part communication series (with one campaign each week).

We've got two Carrier Connections each month, where we highlight what's going on with our core carriers. The first Carrier Connection goes out the first week of every month, and we highlight six of our core carriers there along with a feature on our monthly agent webinar. The second week we send out the Underwriting Connection, where we highlight underwriting trends. On the third week, we're back to Carrier Connections, and we use this campaign to highlight the other half of our core carriers. And then the last week is the Sales Connection. That's where we feature new sales and marketing techniques and the new ideas we have.

These mailings that we set up for members are just a starting point for them. They go in to edit and customize the campaign, then send them out to their agents. Ideally, we should be reaching close to 50,000 people a week through this monthly series.

Obviously, you spend a lot of time in Emma. What is the one Emma feature you or your clients couldn't live without?
The very best part of Emma is the audience component and the audience maintenance. I think it's one of the best in the industry. We really take advantage of the ability to easily group our members, and we've started experimenting with audience searches. The signup forms are also very powerful so that you can have links on your website for new additions.

I noticed that you all are located in Maple Grove, Minnesota, which by name is very similar to Walnut Grove (also in Minnesota), the former stomping grounds of Laura Ingalls-Wilder. Do folks ever show up there looking to re-live the prairie days?
That's actually south of where we are, so we've yet to see anybody get lost and end up here. Maple Grove is a nice, family-oriented suburb of Minneapolis. We are big fans of Laura and Little House of Prairie, though.

Design showcase: Social justice and community progress

A quick look at some of our efforts towards diversity, equality and forward-thinking design
The Emma staff on Stand Against Racism day, wearing orange to show support for the YWCA and promote awareness of the event.

Earlier this spring, Emma hosted its first "booth" for Stand Against Racism, an annual event created by the YWCA to promote awareness of racism's lingering effects in America. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country took the SAR pledge and participated in office-sponsored activities, and for us, it served as a fantastic kick-off to an ongoing initiative to increase our office diversity.

Another special event for us at Emma happened today: our second annual potluck for Juneteenth, one of my personal favorite holidays. Its inspiring story commemorates the end of slavery, honors African American history and achievement and celebrates freedom, community and diversity.

It was in that spirit, then, that staffers contributed dishes from their own personal backgrounds and cultures for today's potluck. It was an incredible spread, and I was reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by such hard-working, forward-thinking people.

Emma's kitchen table today, for our second annual Juneteenth potluck.

Of course, one of the ways that we on the design team help promote community progress is through custom designs for our nonprofit customers who are out there doing good in the world.

By doing our part to visually tell these clients' brand stories, we hope to help them advertise their events, raise more funds and drive their volunteer efforts. It's wonderfully rewarding to work with these customers, hear their success stories and watch their readership grow, and we're proud to have a small part in those stories by crafting their custom designs.

And with that, let's take a look at some designs for three hardworking nonprofits that are making strides towards social justice and progress.

Customer: Students of the World
Designer: Jessica Peoples
Design Level: Concierge Design

Since it was founded at Duke University in 1999, Students of the World has collaborated with college students to create documentary media, and then use those materials to gain support for nonprofits all over the world. When Katie Sobering requested stationery for SOW, the organization was already in the process of re-branding and re-working its web presence to expand its global reach.

Katie noted that it was very important to keep the stationery simple and professional, but somehow visually communicate the essence of the brand without any "fancy frills or clutter." The color scheme was set to charcoal, turquoise, beige and white, so Jessica stuck to those exclusively and used just a bit of antiqued texturing to add some visual interest to an otherwise very simple, clean design. She also created a custom graphic for the "send this email to a friend" link, which echoes the logo design and replaces the default version of the link included in Emma emails.

Customer: The Contributor
Designer: Elizabeth Williams
Design Level: Concierge Design

Last year, the Emma design team came out of thinkTank, a local design conference, inspired and touched by story of speaker Tasha French. Since founding The Contributor in 2007, Tasha and her team have turned their nonprofit passion project into the biggest street newspaper in North America.

The organization's website incorporates some beautiful and powerful photographic images, many of them taken by Tasha herself, and she definitely wanted to include an image of Contributor vendors in the stationery. Elizabeth made sure to highlight the photograph by surrounding it with a distressed circular border in the same color as the tagline's focal words. That border is also part of a larger plan to juxtapose the old and the new: on one hand, she gave prominence to the classic Contributor logo, of course, and added a faded graphic of an antique typewriter to the footer; on the other, the tagline and footer text are both in a clean, modern, sans serif font and the vendor photograph is in crisp, full color.

And, of course, tying it all back to the actual Contributor product, Elizabeth used paper textures and subtle shadowing to lend an aesthetic of real newsprint to the design. Tasha was thrilled with the outcome and has since been using the stationery for reader surveys, important news, and a fundraising push for spring/summer 2011.

Customer: Oregon Commission for Women
Designer: Jessica Peoples
Design Level: Concierge Design

The Oregon Commission for Women began less formally and under a different name in the 1960s, but in 1983, it became official on a legislative scale as an agency to promote women's equality, education and empowerment. Jenny Greenleaf requested the custom stationery for the OCW with an open mind about much of the design direction, but she did note a preference of plumb, sage and khaki for the color scheme.

For this design, Jessica and Jenny discussed the organization's mission, branding and various stationery ideas. From there, Jessica used the title ("She Flies with Her Own Wings") as inspiration for the flowing nature of this design. Jenny loved the final look and has been brainstorming all kinds of uses for her new stationery. We're so proud of her efforts to dive right in, and can't wait to see how her email campaigns enhance the organization's overall marketing strategy.

How does your office promote community and social justice? Let us know about your company's initiatives – big or small – to celebrate diversity, commemorate history and push for social progress. If you're interested in starting your own event for Stand Against Racism, you can find out more online or at your local YWCA.

Until next time … love, hugs and working together,
The Emma Design Team

Adventures in email marketing

Four ideas for expanding your email horizons this summer

If the arrival of summer has you hankering to explore and be daring, why not start with your own email marketing efforts? We've pulled together a few of our favorite ideas into something of a field guide to email adventure. Some are side routes to explore, others are full-on, pack-a-lot-of-granola expeditions. Either way, you'll find all kinds of ways to expand your email horizons.

Oh, and for the record: This article is best enjoyed staring off purposefully into the distance as gentle mountain breezes rustle your hair. If gentle mountain breezes are unavailable, have Bruce over in accounts payable wave a stack of invoices in your face.

Image of spaceship
Launch a welcome note.

Someone says hi to you. How lovely. Now wait three weeks and say hi back.

Wait, that's no good.

But you're committing the email equivalent of that faux pas if you're not greeting new subscribers with a welcome message. It's a great way to build on someone's initial interest, right when they're interested. An Experian study shows welcome autoresponders boast a 14% click-through rate compared to the 4% industry average. Best of all, it happens automatically with Emma's trigger email feature.

If you've never set up a triggered welcome email, why not make it your summer goal to launch one? Craft new content with new subscribers in mind, or just add a special greeting to the top of your latest newsletter.

+ Get inspired with profiles of three customers' successful welcome emails.
+ Setting up welcome triggers is as easy as sending a campaign. Watch how.

Image of map
Explore surveys.

There's a wide world of customer insight out there, and you've got an easy way to uncover it with Emma's survey feature. Surveys are free in your Emma account, which is nice, and their results show you priceless feedback to improve pretty much anything, including events, products, customer satisfaction and your latest email newsletter.

Of course, the real adventure begins when you learn what your customers think. Or when you decide to steal the Declaration of Independence. (Use of Nicolas Cage voice is optional there.)

+ Need more convincing? Here are more ways surveys will change your business.
+ For inspiration, see twelve ideas for surveys you can send this week.
+ Not sure how to create a survey? Consider this PDF your downloadable sherpa.

Image of magnifying glass
Discover your inactive members.

Legendary outdoorsman Teddy Roosevelt spoke of three uncharted frontiers: our galaxy, the ocean depths and your email database.

Which is our historically dubious way of suggesting it's time to discover who's not looking at your emails. Inactive subscribers are an important segment with all kinds of opportunity. Craft a special offer for them, and they'll remember why they first signed up for your list. Send your next campaign with a daring subject line, and get their attention again. Or dare to remove them altogether, and you may save money.

+ Get more ideas for delving into the details of audience management.
+ Find your inactive members with a quick search — watch our how-to video.

Image of binoculars
Dare to redesign your newsletter.

Your industry, your goals and your customers' needs have evolved over the last few years. Has your email newsletter kept up? If not, it may be time to embark on a redesign.

A redesigned newsletter engages readers who may have become accustomed to the same look week after week. But more importantly, the process of thinking through your new design helps you consider what your readers want and improves the overall strategy of your content. In other words, your email won't just look better; it'll also be better.

Keep it simple by changing your font selections or image styles. Choose a new layout or work with one of our designers for a fresh template. Or reinvent it from the ground up. Just don't go all Gaga on us and insist your email be paraded around in a egg pod. It's an open rate, people, not a hatch rate.

+ Check out the before-and-after from one customer's stellar redesign.
+ See how these customers turned Emma layouts into stylish campaigns.
+ Request custom email design from our fantastic team of graphic designers.


Are you plotting any email adventures of your own this summer? What's the boldest thing you've done in an email campaign?

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!


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

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 .

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.


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