We were all about representing in Denver & Portland last month, but we didn't really have much going on in our other Emma city, Austin, TX. We're making up for lost time now, attending two events there in July.
You all hear from me each month about these events, so — as much as you love that, I know – wouldn't it be cool to hear from the Emma peeps who will be attending this time around? (I hope you said yes.)
"We've participated in virtual conferences before, but we love the idea of this one being exclusively about email marketing and social media integration. There's so much great content out there, and for this event, it's free!" - Rami Perry, Emma Small Business Manager
"This is a really fantastic event for us to share Emma's expertise with more than 300 marketers and small business professionals who are hoping to learn more about marketing their company online. We're so excited to be partnering with the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas. Hook 'em, Horns!" - Jonathan Gesinger, Emma Satellite Business Development Manager
"This event is all about effective communication strategies, and I couldn't think of a better topic for us to speak about for these franchisors and franchisees. They're looking for better ways to communicate both with one another and with their customers, so I'm looking forward to showing them some best practices." - Casey McCormick, Emma Sales Associate
"Our previous OMS sponsorships in Denver and Portland led to lots of great conversations about email marketing, so we're glad to have such a popular, content-driven event here in Austin." - Jonathan Gesinger, Emma Satellite Business Development Manager
If you're in the area for any of these events and want to say hello in person, just leave us a note here and we'll set something up. Keep enjoying your summer!
It's an exciting season for the Emma design team as we roll out Studio Design, our shiny new feature that gives customers a more hands-on approach to their custom stationery. In case you're wondering … if you opt for Concierge Design, that means our designers will create from-scratch email stationery that extends your brand. With Studio Design, you'll use an interactive form to choose a style, colors, textures and elements for your designer to implement in your custom design. Think of it as choosing the ingredients for a cake that we'll be baking just for you!
So this month's showcase is all about this new design option. With these Studio Design examples, you can see the final version of the stationery, as well as the shapes, textures and elements that each client selected from the interactive form. A texture is typically the overall background component that will blend into the entire header image, while an element is more of an accent image. Combined with a logo, they make a stationery header. We thought you might like to see these textures and elements at work, paired with the final header design.
Client: Neuhaus Foot and Ankle Emma designer:Taylor Schena Design level: Studio Design Theme choice: Modern
Our friends at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle wanted to use the colors from their website and implement a structured and professional aesthetic.
After browsing the textures available, they chose a modern texture accented by two modern elements, which Emma designer Jennifer Kasdorf originally created.
Taylor applied Neuhaus' brand colors to their preferred elements, keeping in mind what we know about the Foveal viewport in email marketing.
The result is a completely custom header that's consistent with current Neuhaus branding.
Client: Simply Taken Emma designer: Jennifer Kasdorf Design level: Studio Design Theme choice: Fancy
Simply Taken is Staci Pruitt's photography business, which primarily serves the NATO and military community based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Her website is squared off and clean, with just a few subtle embellishments. When the time came to create stationery, she wanted the same aesthetic.
She choose sharp corners and a handful of elements from the "Fancy" category, designed by Jessica Peoples (formerly Jessica Saling – congratulations, Jess!).
Jennifer took the time to really familiarize herself with Staci's product and crafted a lovely design that successfully mimics the Simply Taken website.
Client:Joy Along the Journey Emma designer: Taylor Schena Design level: Studio Design Theme choice: Floral
You can imagine how important it was for Karen from Joy along the Journey, a hospitality network, to express a sense of welcome in her brand stationery.
She chose floral elements, created by Jessica Peoples, to communicate that openness and also to maintain consistency with the Joy Along the Journey logo.
Taylor found a great shade of blue to use from the network's website and carefully worked in the floral elements. When Karen ended up changing her mind about her element selection, Taylor, of course, made the revision. As part of the Studio Design process, you chose the components, and your designer is happy to make essential changes until the product is something everyone's proud of.
Client: Heaven on Earth Emma designer: Taylor Schena Design level: Studio Design Theme choice: Floral
Taylor's had a busy month, hasn't she? For this Studio Design, she built a custom header for Heaven on Earth, Rachel Bolden-Kramer's yoga practice, which strives to foster connections and community through customized plans.
Rachel opted for one floral element and one floral texture, both of which were created by our Denver-based designer, Leigh Bernstein. Taylor saw Rachel's vision right away and chose to accent the tree graphic, while making the fern image a more subtle part of the background.
The final product is soothing and uplifting: heaven on Earth, indeed!
How knowing about the eye's Foveal viewport may change the way you look at your next campaign.
At Emma, we're always thinking about audiences and the important role design plays in communicating your message. We also do a lot of thinking about the concepts behind the why. Why is one campaign more effective than another? Why do some links get clicked more?
We often talk about reasons like headlines and timeliness, but here's another concept you might want to be consider: the Foveal viewport. The fovea is the part of the eye that makes it possible for us to have 100-percent visual acuity. So what the heck does that mean? Well, when we look at something, we see only a small area of it in complete focus. We may think we see the whole picture clearly, but we don't. Leonardo da Vinci was actually the first person to discover this issue with sight lines. Elements that fall outside this area get blurry – they get blurry quite fast, actually. As our eyes move, or to use a fancier term saccade, this area of complete focus moves as well. This area of complete focus is called the Foveal viewport.
For example, when we look at this web page, we may think we see the whole page in focus:
But here's our reality, with only the Foveal viewport in complete focus:
Another way to see the size of this is to hold your thumbs up next to each other — the area of your two thumbnails is roughly the same size as the Foveal viewport.
So how can you apply this to email design? + You can place your most important content where your audience is most likely to see it when they first open your campaign. + You can place pieces of related content in close proximity to each other. + Since the Foveal viewport moves as a person looks at something (and our eyes look for things that stand out), you can place any calls to action as close as you can to the related content.
Let's say you're creating a campaign with an announcement about your new deli lunch menu.
Not bad. Appealing photo along with hunger- and thirst-inducing copy. (Excuse me while I go grab a pop.) Ah. Now, let's take a look at the Foveal viewport.
Your first thought might be that the viewport will move, so no worries (that's what I thought too). But it's been shown that people often don't even see items that fall outside the viewport. So what if you shortened the copy a bit to get that button closer?
Much better. Besides the copy being easier to scan, the button you want people to click on now falls within the same Foveal viewport. Pretty cool.
It's also worth noting that too much focusing between saccades can cause fatigue. This refocusing happens hundreds of times every minute without us even knowing it, but the effort adds up, so you might want to avoid making your audience work so hard when they're reading. Because let's face it – do you really want your audience to feel tired after they read your emails?
Here's what you can do: + You can minimize the amount of content you're asking people to look at. + You can minimize the amount of content you're asking people to decide between. + You can be sure your email templates aren't too wide.
Knowing what Leonardo da Vinci knew about how eyeballs work just might change the way you look at your next campaign. With a few tweaks to your designs, you can help your audience see things the way you want them to see them.
Editor's note: This post launches a new series from Emma's UX team – they'll be sharing ideas, tips and expertise about email usability (and perhaps occasionally mentioning medieval geniuses).
Announcing a faster (and super fun) stationery design option.
As you're dreaming up new ways to showcase your organization's style in your email campaigns, we're proud to unveil Studio Design, a faster, more hands-on way for you to request the custom brand stationery that frames your newsletters, surveys and promotions.
New! Studio Design :: $99
With our latest design offering, you'll walk step-by-step through an interactive form to design a custom header, selecting from our ever-changing menu of hand-designed textures and elements. You'll choose from styles such as vintage, retro, elegant, edgy, modern and classic to find a look that suits you.
You'll have more creative control than ever, with easy options to set your logo, colors, shapes and more before you send your selections to a designer who'll artfully assemble them into one-of-a-kind brand stationery.
Best of all, your stationery is ready in two working days, about half the time of our current stationery design process.
And just in time for your summertime promotions and events, we're featuring a suite of limited edition summer design elements to help you add a little seasonal — and possibly beachy — fun to your next stationery design.
Take your pick from sea shells, waves, nautical elements, beach balls, palm trees, ice cream, sunglasses and more. Then choose the colors you want and create a summer campaign to share what's new with your audience.
We hope this additional design option and quicker turnaround time helps your organization make the most of whatever flavor of custom design you'd like in your email campaigns. (If that flavor happens to be rocky road, would it be weird if we show up sometime next week with a spoon?)
As always, we're here to answer any questions you may have, so don't hesitate to send us an email, give us a call at 800.595.4401 or visit our help guide, where you can even chat online with us.
What to say when what you said wasn't what you meant to say.
Here at Emma, we like to talk about how your email marketing strategy is a constantly evolving conversation with your customers and clients. And, as is the way of all conversations, it's likely that someone will eventually misspeak. When that someone is you, it can be a bad feeling — few things are more humbling than making a public mistake. Fortunately, the conversational nature of email is on your side, and you can correct yourself as soon as you realize your error. A prompt correction and apology lets you not only set something right but also to show a nice flicker of personality. If done with a touch of class and maybe even a little humor, an apology can even strengthen the bond between you and your subscribers.
Now, because nobody's really jockeying for the nickname, "The Joe Biden of Email," be sure to get your message in front of fresh proofreaders before you send it. But since even the most careful vetting process can miss an error, it's comforting to know that your proofreaders aren't your last line of defense — your audience is.
Listen to your readers. The RSVP name and email address you associate with your email marketing strategy isn't just there to let your readers know who they're hearing from — it's also there so they can get in touch with you. If your loyal readers spot a mistake in your email, an email reply is the handiest way for them to let you know about it, so use an active email address and keep a close eye on your inbox.
Nashville's Belcourt Theater boasts a devoted audience of film buffs, so when the beloved movie house recently misidentified a showtime for one of their upcoming films, a diligent reader was happy to let them know. A strong communication channel with their audience meant that the Belcourt was able to promptly issue a correction message. As a bonus, they turned a typographical error into an opportunity to show appreciation for their readers. What should you do if you find yourself in a similar position? The same thing you would do if you misspoke at a dinner party: Correct yourself, apologize for the error and give credit to anyone who may have helped you see it.
(Note: This apology format does not apply to dinner parties where a game of charades is involved. For charades-related gaffes, the universally accepted apology is an exaggerated shrugging motion coupled with a bashful smile.)
Be prompt. You'll probably see one of the highest spikes in activity in the two hours immediately after you send your campaign. The sooner you send a correction message, the more likely these early respondents are to connect with your correction rather than your error.
Be specific. You don't always have to craft a completely new message to address a mistake — sometimes it's better to correct your original content and send it out again. If you send a revised version of your original message, be clear about the correction you're making, starting with the subject line. If your audience clearly sees "correction" there, they'll probably skip the first message and go directly to the follow-up. In the introduction to your email, it's a good idea to specifically address the error, just in case some folks were puzzled by your earlier message.
Be courteous. Anne Holland's website, whichtestwon.com, offers readers a fun opportunity to play armchair web consultant to a new split test every week and then test their guesses against real-life results. Her weekly email notifications are critical to her operation, so when she misidentified a guest speaker she'd invited to host a webinar, she quickly realized her faux pas and issued a humble but humorous apology. Then, in a show of solidarity, she deliberately misspelled her own name. The correction message addressed an earlier mistake and showcased her own graciousness.
Be accommodating. If your error affected the audience's experience — say, for example, a broken link to a limited-time offer — you may want to take an extra step, like extending the deadline on the offer to accommodate your readers.
Remember, email is one of the more personal communication channels available to you, and if someone has invited you to share information with them regularly, they're likely to be forgiving of the occasional mistake. Careful proofing will keep your message consistent and your apologies rare, but everyone makes mistakes from time to time. (Hey, we've had to correct ourselves before, and email is kind of our thing.) A prompt correction and apology will go a long way toward showing your customers the human side of your business.
In this month's showcase, we're highlighting stationery designs that are especially, shall we say, appetizing. Flavorful? OK, we'll just say it: These designs are downright delicious. They're also extremely flexible. (Didn't see that one coming, now did you?) Our restaurant, catering and food retail clients often need to send out last-minute campaigns for spur-of-the-moment promotions, so their stationery designs must be usable for nearly any kind of campaign. Fortunately, our designers are experts at uniting existing brand standards with the unique attributes of email design. And they also really, really like food. At their desks. Preferably sent via (ahem) priority overnight service. You know, to prevent staleness. Just sayin'.
This specialty food retail shop from Seattle, Washington, needed a stationery design informed by its current website branding, which balances the refined look of 19th-century English fine china with a thoroughly non-snobby attitude.
Leigh took the header directly from the website in order to replicate the look exactly, since the fonts used for the logo and navigation bar are not standard, web-safe fonts. For the footer, however, she created a beautiful Nouveau design that is consistent with Deluxe's existing aesthetic: organic but not overtly floral, dainty but not froufrou. And because image-based borders cannot stretch to accommodate longer campaigns, Leigh designed the footer to just barely creep up the sides of the frame. That way, the swooping lines serve to draw the eye back up to the content without sacrificing the stationery's flexibility.
Client: Cactus Restaurants Emma designer: Elizabeth Williams Design level: Concierge Design
Before we began designing, Marc at Cactus Restaurants sent multiple logos and several other files for Elizabeth's reference, including photographs and Lotería cards. And although most of those images did not end up in the stationery itself, they were still important to the initial design process because they helped her understand the design aesthetic at Cactus – whether that be the design of the menus, the website or even the décor on the walls.
The end result highlights their most-used design elements (logo, font-specific slogan and the lithograph-style image of four men) while incorporating new design ideas that take advantage of email's particular capabilities. Elizabeth completely customized the standard "send to a friend" link in the top right corner, and she built a permanent sidebar with an editable text box, which will collapse and disappear if Marc chooses not to input text.
Client: Jailhouse Brewing Emma designer: Jimmy Thorn Design level: Concierge Design
The folks at Jailhouse Brewing wanted an edgy design incorporating multiple elements in a rowdy, unstructured way. "I don't want it to be too clean," read the design request … and right away, we knew this would be fun. Oh, and did we mention it was for beer?
Jimmy started with the logo, which fortunately was available as an EPS file, meaning that the image quality was perfect and the background was transparent. Jailhouse provided the scratchy gray background texture, so Jimmy digitally "tore" the edges and added just a bit of a drop shadow to the header. From there, he found a few key images to add to the design, including a photograph of the brewery from Jailhouse's Facebook page that he antiqued and framed with an old-fashioned border. The slogan (and its distinct typeface) are also integral to the identity of the Jailhouse brand, so Jimmy made sure to highlight it in the footer and support it visually with the ball and chain.
Client: The Sweets Truck Emma designer: Leigh Bernstein Design level: Concierge Design
Anyone who speaks with Molly at the Sweets Truck – be it Sam in sales or Kelley in design – can't help but note how sweet she is! It's fitting then, that she runs a mobile bakeshop with to-die-for cupcakes. And even fittinger that her custom stationery express that same charm and friendliness.
And since Molly already had established brand standards for font styles and color, Leigh was able to draw directly from provided elements to begin the basic design. The circular icons are images that Molly uses consistently on the web and on the truck itself, so Leigh knew to spotlight those without putting them in the background of the content area, which would have caused rendering problems in certain email programs. She also used the approved Sweets Truck font for all image-based text in the sidebar, while sticking with a web-safe font for the live type at the bottom. With those little tricks of the trade, Leigh was able to protect and promote Molly's brand identity and still ensure that all readers will see the *exact* design that she does on her own machine.
Until next time … hugs, brand extension and stomach growls from your entire Emma design team!
5 things you should know about how designing an email campaign is different than printed material.
Designers tend to come from either print or web backgrounds, but even if you swear allegiance to one camp or the other, your email campaigns deserve their fair share of your design attention. When used effectively, email campaigns can complement your existing marketing strategies, with the added benefits of cost-efficient brand reinforcement and trackable results. So it's worth taking a few minutes to understand how to translate your print materials into effective email campaigns.
1. Think like a grid. If you design for print, chances are you're already familiar with how a grid structure in a layout works. Email campaigns follow similar rules. Your reader will view your email from the top down, much like a newspaper page. Keep the main header at a reasonable size and keep your most important and enticing information at the top. It's all about the hierarchy, so keep the grid tabular and linear. This isn't the medium to be pulling out all of your organizational bells and whistles. Keep your layout simple, and the campaign will be easier to follow (and to code).
2. See in color. Maintain a level of consistency with your branding components, including logo, brand colors and type. Colors on the web are in RGB or Hex Code format, both of which create color using pixels of light instead of ink, as in CMYK or Pantone palettes. This means that try as you might, you will not have an exact color match. Match as closely as you can, but your brand colors will vary from computer to computer, depending on how images are exported and the state of the recipient's monitor (calibration, age and model).
3. Watch your fonts. You also may have to stray slightly from your brand's set type standards when it comes to copy. It's important to use web-safe fonts, and the choices are limited. Using web-safe fonts ensures that anyone viewing your campaign not only will see the text but also will see it the same way you do, regardless of the email program or fonts available on their machine. Options include a variety of both serif and sans-serif fonts, so you should be able to get a similar feel to your current brand standards.
If you find you really must use a specific font that is not web-safe, your best bet is to create text as an image. This is perfectly fine for things like header images, article headlines or any small typographic detail, but for main copy, text as an image tends to become blurry and pixelated. Just make sure your image code includes alt tags, which are descriptions of the images that will show up if the images aren't viewable due to your readers' email preferences. Without them, your message could be lost altogether.
4. Say "no" to big images. Some folks find it tempting, not to mention graphically stunning, to create emails as one giant image. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, a large image tends to clog inboxes and might be marked as spam. If you decide to design this way, it's crucial that you use alt tags and break up that image into smaller, more manageable pieces. It's so disheartening when a gorgeous campaign shows up in someone's inbox as a blank email or gets sent to the junk folder. All your hard work goes to waste if the reader never receives it.
5. Keep things simple. An email is a short sell, so it needs to grab your reader's attention instantly. Lead with an enticing subject line, followed by those eye-catching graphics you've designed. Of course, you also want to keep the content relevant, quick and easy to read. And don't forget to place the most important element of your email — the link to buy, learn more or donate — in the prime top real estate where it's easy for readers to find and click.
Using email in tandem with your other marketing pieces will help you entice, inform and intrigue your audience — and build a more consistent brand. When you send out your monthly printed newsletter, email the group with highlights to announce the issue's release. When you run print ads to promote your sales, send out an email with a coupon or reminder. Once you have this system down, the possibilities will seem endless.
How to stay nimble and use email as an effective part of your marketing funnel (or any other oddly shaped object).
I've been fortunate to attend a handful of fantastic conferences over the past six months, including SXSWi 2010, Marketing Sherpa's Email Summit 2009, Innotech and various smaller ones. The topic that keeps popping up in workshops involves what lots of folks like to call "the marketing funnel."
The traditional marketing funnel — which involves introducing individuals to your brand and converting them to customers — has changed significantly with social media, email, geo-social, viral and other ingenious ways to nurture customers. We're being told to flip the funnel, invert it, bend it or cut it, among other things, depending on which blogs you read or which workshops you attend. Poor funnel.
Most marketers agree that the old-school version of investing a large portion of your marketing budget in general, mass advertising is outdated. Too many messages. Too many options. Too many channels. So, what do we do as email marketers? We focus on retaining current customers through email, keeping them thrilled with our products and services and loyal to our brands … and then they send us testimonials and referrals.
Know your audience Do you know whether you're delivering what your audience wants? When's the last time you asked them? Use an email to send your customers an online survey and ask them for feedback. If you haven't yet, get to know your ESP's survey tool. Go on … it's fun to give people exactly what they want after you find out what it is. Isn't it always enjoyable to watch a person's face light up when you give them a particular birthday gift they've asked for instead of something generic? Same idea with giving your customers exactly what they enjoy about your business.
Segment your audience Avoid the dreaded "email blast" at all costs. You know what your audience wants, so make the extra effort of segmenting your customers. Create different types of audience groups from your overall list and deliver specific content that matches what you know about them.
Reward your audience Here's a common thread to many current perspectives on the marketing funnel: Turn your customers into your 12th man (or woman). Loyal customers can be as strong of a sales force as your sales department if you keep them enthusiastic. Surprise them. That doesn't always have to mean a free offer or a discount — you can also give them useful content and sneak previews.
Communicate with your audience Use a mix of informative emails, offers and rewards and commit to sending those emails regularly and at the right times when you've scheduled them on your calendar. Your email marketing calendar (you have one, right?) should include a survey check-in at least annually.
Share with your audience Consider using tools that let your audience share your emails across their social networks. You can also use links to your Facebook fan page, Twitter page or blog so your customers can connect with you in all your communication hubs. Don't believe the naysayers trying to, ahem, twabotage email by saying Twitter and other forms of social media are enemies of email marketing. Make those other channels into friends with your email campaigns, so your customers can share your brand with their friends, family and fans. (By the way, Emma's new social sharing feature is free with your account.)
Email is uniquely adaptable to this changing marketing funnel, and it just takes a few basic techniques likes these to be sure your business is always growing in lots of new ways. So see, there's no need to get so rough with the funnel … just make friends with it.
Jonathan, along with Taylor Schena, will be leading a session about email marketing and design at this year's HOW conference in Denver on Tuesday, June 8, from 10:45 AM – 12 PM, so please stop by and say hello if you're in the area.
As you make your travel plans for some summer good times, we thought we'd let you know about some exciting places where we'll be in June.
When you look at our list, you're probably going to say to yourself, "Jeepers, these guys love Denver & Portland!" and you'll be right. Denver & Portland are home to two of our Emma offices, and we're looking forward to spending time with our Colorado & Oregon colleagues. If you're nearby and want to meet with us, give us a shout and we'll set something up.
This is our second year in a row sponsoring the Open Source Bridge Conference. This is a newer conference organized for developers who work with open source technologies or are interested in learning more about open source. Not only is this a great opportunity for our Portland developers to connect and share experiences with other developers in Portland, but we also can show some local support to such an important group in one of our Emma cities. If you're planning on attending, please say hello to Michelle, Mark and Jay, our Emma developers who will be attending. If you're a developer and want to know more about our job opportunities, be sure to let them know. (You can learn more here.)
This event kicks off HOW's week of design conferences — it's for designers, illustrators, photographers, copywriters and other creative professionals. We're supplying some fun tote bag inserts here, so if you're attending, you'll receive some Emma love.
If you're a manager or lead of an in-house creative team, this event may be right up your alley. This year, HOW is anticipating 400 total attendees from small to large-sized companies. We'll have an exhibit table at this year's event, so please do stop by and say hello to Sam Farkas. FYI, Sam plays guitar for a band that is playing at Bonnaroo this year. Pretty awesome, eh?
The HOW Design Conference is one of those signature events that we've really come to love being a part of each year. We put a lot into the design of our customers' brands in email, so participating in these events gives us a chance to share more about Emma and gives us a chance to get to know what other creative professionals are up to.
Emma's Jonathan Gesinger and Taylor Schena will be leading a session, providing helpful tips for creating stylish and effective email campaigns on Tuesday, June 8th from 10:45 AM – 12 PM. You can register for this session here. Not only will we have an exhibit space where you'll find two wonderful folks from our sales crew, Gina LaMar and Theresa McLoughlin, but you may also run into two of Emma's fabulous designers, Jennifer Kasdorf and Jimmy Thorn, who will be attending the overall conference.
This year, OMS will be visiting 23 cities across the United States and Canada as part of their regional tour to bring best practices in online marketing to more than 250 attendees in each city. Each city will receive a single day of online marketing education and peer networking. This month, we'll be speaking and sponsoring in two of our Emma cities, Denver and Portland. Then in July, we'll be at the Austin event on the 21st.
If you're going to be at any of these events or in the area, definitely let us know. Hope you all have a great summer!
Today, we're thrilled to announce the arrival of Social Sharing for your email campaigns. Our latest feature makes it easy for your audience members to share your emails with their friends and followers on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It'll exponentially increase the reach of your emails. And we're not the best at math, but we're pretty sure exponents are a good thing. You'll be feeling like a social media superhero in no time.
Here's how it works:
+ You click an Add Social Sharing Options button as you're creating your campaign and select which social network icons you want to appear on your emails.
+ After they receive your email, your recipients click an icon (or more than one, if that's how they roll) and share a link to your email with their friends and followers.
+ Then you hop over to your Response page to see which audience members are sharing your email, and which networks are generating the most traffic to your campaign.
More to Explore:
Watch our video See exactly how Emma's Social Sharing feature works with step-by-step instructions in our help section.
5 reasons to use Social Sharing Emma's own Jim Hitch shows how you can be a social media superhero for your organization. (Tips involving capes not included.)
Join the conversation The ever-savvy Emma community is finding interesting ways to add our latest feature to their social media strategies. Join the conversation and share your ideas, won't you?